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The Boyfriend Experience

Chapter Text

If I told you, this was only gonna hurt
If I warned you, that the fire's gonna burn
Would you walk in?


 

 

 

Katsuki Yuuri had never been anyone's boyfriend before.

The closest thing to romance he'd ever gotten was the crush he had on Yuuko-chan, back home in Japan. And that was when he was nine. (Though she had kissed him once, just off-centre when she had aimed for his cheek). The only other infactuation Yuuri had to speak of was with Victor Nikiforov, Russia's pride and joy of figure-skating. But he wasn't exactly alone on the world in that. And the courtship consisted entirely of Yuuri admiring Nikiforov's poster from his bed.

So to say Yuuri was inexperienced in relationships was putting it lightly.

He had never given it much thought. It wasn't particularly uncommon in the small town where he was from. But that all changed when Yuuri got to America.

Yuuri was granted passage on the back of a scholarship for his own figure-skating. A scholarship he had promptly lost by flunking out terribly at the Grand Prix Final at the end of November, just last weekend. Which led to Yuuri's current situation;

'It really isn't that bad.'

'Yes it is. It is that bad. It's worse, it's hell,' Yuuri lamented, hiding in his face in his arms on the table. The campus bar was buzzing, low lights and Christmas music already playing, with students ambling around them all before the big Finals rush. Phichit Chulanont, his room and rink-mate there in Detroit, was now rubbing Yuri's back sympathetically.

'At least you got to meet Victor!' Phichit offered.

'He didn't even recognise me as a competitor,' Yuuri complained, embarrassment at the memory of meeting his idol, Victor Nikiforov, briefly at the Grand Prix, only for Nikiforov to offer him a commemorative photo as acknowledgement. 'Besides, that's not even the worst part. What am I going to do about my fees without a scholarship?'

'You can reapply next semester. You will be back in your groove by then,' Phichit offered, his English a little slow as the fellow-skater had only left Thailand five months prior. He hadn't prepared like Yuuri had. Phichit patted Yuuri's shoulder before moving, presumably to take a sip of his soda.

'I don't think I should skate anymore. I think I've embarrassed myself enough for one lifetime,' Yuuri said dejectedly, sitting up to meet Phichit's frown. 'Also- back in my groove?'

'It was in one of my Penguin Guide. Did I not say it right? Anyway, you cannot quit,' Phichit said, putting his Coke down with a little more force than necessary. Yuuri sighed, rubbing at his eyes beneath his glasses. 'You are the most talented skater I know!'

'Clearly,' Yuuri deadpanned. Phichit looked at him for a moment. 'I mean, thank you. But I've decided.'

'I think you are making a mistake,' Phichit said, using his drink to signal Yuuri. Yuuri hummed in acknowledgment, taking another sip of his water.

'Yuuri!'

A girl started waving at them from the bar. She was blonde and American; loud, so her voice carried well over the crowd. Yuuri recognised her as Hannah, one of the girls from his lectures. Although a bit overly friendly at times, Yuuri really liked her. Despite the numerous party photos she was tagged in on Facebook, her passion for the subject meant Yuuri met her more often than not in the library.

Hannah sat down at their table, squeezing Yuuri in against Phichit; 'Hey! How're you?'

'I'm okay-' Yuuri started before Phichit interrupted.

'Yuuri's quitting skating,' Phichit said, completely ratting Yuuri out. Yuuri glared at him as Hannah absently patted her finger against the lipstick on her lips.

'Oh? Why?' she asked, curiosity genuine though her eyes were now scanning the bar.

'It's nothing-' Phichit squawked in protest. '-Well, I lost my scholarship, so it just seems like there's little point in continuing,' Yuuri confessed, Phichit proving somewhat correct as the need to get it out beat his self-consciousness about it. Hannah met his eyes then. Hers were blue and searching. Yuuri had never met anyone with blue eyes before her.

'You lost your scholarship?' Yuuri nodded, fidgeting with the end of his sweatshirt. Hannah's mouth opened into a rosy o; 'But how will you pay your fees?!'

Yuuri flushed. They were so easy to talk about money, Americans. He always forgot that. Yuuri spun his glass of water slowly, condensation on his fingers.

'I- I'm not sure. I'm trying not think about it. If I think about it too much, I think I'd just freak out.'

'Do you need money?' Hannah asked immediately, causing the colour in Yuuri's cheeks to tumble all the way down his neck at her forwardness. He held his hands up, shaking his head. Before he could stutter out a no thank you though, Hannah reached out and took one of his hands, meeting Yuuri's gaze straight; 'If you're stuck, guy, let me know. I'll help you out.'

'Ah. Um, thank you,' Yuuri said, bowing his head a little to her. Hannah nodded, turning back to her observation of the room. Phichit leant a little forward, continuing his conversation with Yuuri like nothing had happened.

'Ciao-Ciao will not be happy if you quit, Yuuri.'

Yuuri tried to listen, but mostly he couldn't stop focusing on Hannah, and the way she ran a hand through her long, blonde hair in a way that made it look so inviting. Yuuri could see a few guys across the bar staring. Yuuri wondered, briefly, if how Hannah felt now felt similar to how Yuuri used to feel on the ice.

 


 

 

'There's no pressure, it's just drinks,' Hannah said, using her ring finger to blend blush on her cheeks. They were in Hannah's dorm-room. She had a single one, all to herself. It had two windows, both looking out over campus. The trees were just bare outside in the winter frost. Yuuri had always wondered how she could afford it.

'I understand,' Yuuri said, perhaps a little too quickly as Hannah turned around to give a look. Yuuri blushed, unable to help himself, sitting lower on the bed and fidgeting with the watch Hannah insisted he wear.

'I just need someone for his friend. Just to talk to him, or something,' Hannah said, walking over in her too-high heels, sequined dress winking in a way that Yuuri knew most ice-skating costumes would dream of. 'And you like guys right?'

Yuuri spluttered, still appalled at Hannah's bluntness at times. Hannah rolled her eyes.

'Or you like guys as well, at least,' she continued, perfectly manicured hands brushing off imaginary dust from Yuuri's suited shoulders. Hannah bent down to Yuuri's level, looking at him kindly. 'Just pretend it's like a date. No expectations.'

Yuuri felt like calling what they were going to do 'a date' very much implied expectations. Hannah stood back, looking Yuuri up and down for a moment before deciding something. She came back, undoing Yuuri's blue tie and slipping it off him. She opened the first three buttons of his shirt in it's stead. Yuuri watched her the whole time, unsure.

'This tie is hideous, you're not wearing it. Looks like you're giving a presentation or something,' Hannah said matter-of-factly, throwing the tie across the bed. She gave him another once over, turning to her dresser to grab a bottle of something and then coming back. 'And your hair. I need to fix it.'

Hannah used the hair-gel to slick Yuuri's hair back. Yuuri was familiar with the ministrations. He always wore his hair out of his face for skating as well. To be honest, the longer this went on, the more Yuuri felt like he did when he was about to step out on the ice. It was like trying on being someone new. Only this time there would be no one to score him for it, no medals looming. He could leave any time he wanted to- could he? Hannah needed him. And what if he was bad at this? Yuuri smiled weakly, thanking Hannah.

'There,' she said, standing back to admire her work. 'Now all we have to do is hope your date likes glasses. Because there's no doubt he'll like you.'

'I'm not so sure,' Yuuri said, anxiety creeping in around him. Yuuri had never flirted in his life. Wouldn't even know where to start. 'I've never done anything like this before.'

Hannah thought about that for a moment, biting one of her perfect lips. Then, she turned and grabbed her desk chair, pulling it over and in front of Yuuri. She sat down in front of him, knees together in perfect poise.

'I'm going to give you some tips,' Hannah said. Yuuri opened his mouth, about to ask why he needed tips if it were just drinks but she seemed to read his mind. 'Look, you don't have to do anything. Just talk, I promise. But I think it's important we follow the same rules anyway, just in case. Okay?'

Yuuri nodded. The rules, as it turned out, were simple. Whatever Yuuri did, he didn't study in Detroit. Not anymore. When asked, he wouldn't be from Kyushu. (His accent for English, though neutral enough from years of study, wasn't fluent yet to be considered native). He didn't have a cellphone, so no- he had no number to give. No, he didn't live nearby. Hannah wasn't his classmate- they met through book club, years ago. The tips Hannah suggested were less practical. Lots of casual touches, eye-contact. All those things Yuuri was really bad at.

'And your name,' Hannah said finally, pushing a strand of beautiful hair behind her ear. 'Your name is not Yuuri. And my name is not Hannah.'

'What is your name?' Yuuri asked. Hannah smiled, all teeth.

'Eurus,' she said and Yuuri looked behind her to the bookshelf, Greek studies and the classics looking back at him. 'And tonight, you're Eros.'

Yuuri choked, stuttering; 'W-what? That's ridiculous!'

Hannah pouted. 'No, it's sexy. With a name like that, half of the flirting is already sorted just by what the guy's imagining. Trust me, it'll be less work for you.'

Yuuri highly doubted that, but the sound of it made his heart beat a little faster with panic. Hannah sighed, standing up to get her bag.

'Eurus and Eros,' she said, like it was obvious. 'I've used it before, and trust me, people love it. It's Latin, it rhymes. They love that shit. And it'll save you time trying to think of a name quickly. Think you can manage just for tonight?'

Hannah took Yuuri's hands, pulling him up off the bed. She smiled at him, lips red and lashes elegantly long. Yuuri's knees went a little weak as she looked at him, eyes sparkling; 'For me, Yuuri?'

Yuuri nodded, admitting defeat.

 


 

Christophe Giacometti was only twenty-one, two years older than Yuuri, but he was infinitely more refined.

Christophe was Swiss, or so he told Yuuri, who found his accent so difficult that Christophe could've told Yuuri he was from the moon and he'd believe him. He also asked Yuuri to call him Chris almost immediately, causing Yuuri to flush in response. Chris was tall with one of those faces that seemed trained for beauty with his big eyes and full lips, every expression he made pretty from any angle. His eyes were hazel, with a green that cut through them anytime he smiled in Yuuri's direction. Which was often.

Hannah and her 'date', (a broad shouldered guy with dark hair), were otherwise occupied, quiet conversation now shifting into straight up kissing in their small booth at the restaurant. Yuuri avoided looking at them, which only left him with Chris next to him. Chris was very friendly and patient with Yuuri's English, which Yuuri had always been proud of until this moment.

'You really shouldn't be embarrassed,' Chris cooed over the rim of his wine glass. This only served to make Yuuri blush more. 'Your English is really lovely.'

'Wow, thank you,' Yuuri said, having never had anything of his ever called lovely.

'Tell me more about yourself. I feel I've been terribly self-absorbed,' Chris said, putting his glass down and sliding along the seat. They were almost touching now. Yuuri tried to relax, to remind himself that everything they were doing was all he had to do.

'What-' Yuuri's voice was a little high with nerves. He swallowed thickly and tried again, not missing how Chris' eyes dropped to his neck as he did so. He found Yuuri attractive. The thought made Yuuri's heart race. 'What would you like to know?'

'Where are you from?' Chris asked, sidling up a little closer, taking another sip of his wine. Yuuri fidgeted with his own glass, relatively untouched. He hated wine.

'Tokyo,' Yuuri answered immediately. Chris raised his eyebrows.

'City boy, then,' Chris said with a smile that made Yuuri's stomach do a flip. Chris picked up his fork, poking at a stray leaf of salad left on his plate. 'I prefer small towns myself. So I suppose Detroit hasn't been that difficult a move for you.'

Yuuri thought of Hannah's rules, panicked; 'I don't live here!'

Chris blinked at the outburst, then chuckled quietly. It was low, and flirty, and Yuuri had never heard anyone laugh at him like that before. A waiter came to clear the table, finally bringing Hannah and her own date back to the conversation. They all talked amicably about travel, for the most part, Chris and his friend coming all the way from Europe. Yuuri found the conversation surprisingly easy, familiar with timezone adjustments himself. Jokes came pretty well, too.

'So, Christophe,' Hannah said, tinkling laugh at her date's story fading out effortlessly. 'Luca says you're a figure-skater. That's amazing. You know about skating though, don't you, Eros?'

It took Yuuri longer than it probably should have to remember that he was Eros. Yuuri made a small noise of agreement, but his heart was in his throat. Chris was a figure-skater? What were the chances? Yuuri couldn't believe it. Chris looked at Yuuri, eyes ablaze with curiosity.

'Really? Do you skate yourself?' Chris asked, excitement evident.

'I- um, no. Not really,' Yuuri stammered, realising too late that he needed to be someone other than himself. He decided to go with half-truths, as all the lies were getting too big to remember. 'I follow the competitions though. I find skating beautiful.'

Maybe it was a trick of the light, but Chris' eyes turned so much darker. Like the wood colour of them had burnt.

Yuuri lost track of the time now, desserts coming and going in what felt like moments. Himself and Chris were too far gone into their conversation to really appreciate their food, their plates only half-empty when they were cleared. Yuuri knew he had drank just a little bit too much, wine becoming easier with each sip, body loose and face red with it. But it was very hard to care, he was beginning to have so much fun. He didn't even mind when one of Chris' hands made it to his thigh, giggling when Chris skirted where he was ticklish.

'I'm going to the bar for another round,' Chris said to the table before turning to address Yuuri directly. He squeezed Yuuri's thigh for a moment. 'Can I get you anything, Eros?'

'Water, actually. Would be lovely,' Yuuri said, some part of him thinking he should sober up soon before he lost complete control over the situation. Chris winked, leaning forward boldly and kissing Yuuri on the cheek. Yuuri squeaked, unable to stop himself.

'Eros, could you come help me with my dress for a second?' Hannah asked, all simple glamour as she slipped out of the booth. Yuuri nodded, unsure of how to respond. Luca waved them off cheerily, downing the last of his own drink.

In the bathroom, Hannah took an envelope out of her bag. She held it out to Yuuri, face skillfully blank. Yuuri stared at it, frozen. Hannah sighed in impatience.

'Go on, take it,' she said.

'I'm not sure I should,' Yuuri said quietly. Truth was, he was afraid to take it. Afraid of what it would mean to do so. What he would have to do to earn it. Hannah watched him carefully, blue eyes sharp.

'You don't have to do anything. You did me a favour, coming with me. It's only fair you get half. Besides, you need it,' she said, tactfully placing the envelope on the sink counter. Yuuri found he couldn't look away from it. Hannah reached out, taking his shoulder. 'Luca and I will be leaving soon. It'll just be you and Chris. Remember, it's just drinks and he knows that. But at eleven pm, exactly, you have to ditch him, okay?'

Yuuri tugged at his watch, moving it around his wrist. Hannah stepped a bit closer.

'You have to leave at eleven, okay, Yuuri? We have to be strict with the timing, otherwise they think they can get away with something for free. You understand?'

'Okay,' Yuuri said. Hannah smiled before telling him she was going back out to Luca, leaving Yuuri and the envelope alone.

Yuuri took a couple of breaths before he opened it and counted. He then proceeded to nearly drop it all in the sink.

Fifteen-hundred dollars. Fifteen hundred dollars.

It was like a switch had gone off deep in Yuuri's mind. Chris had paid fifteen hundred dollars just for Yuuri's company. It was like winning the Japanese nationals all over again. An overwhelming, electric rush of accomplishment. Tangible, valuable worth to Yuuri's name. Yuuri was wanted, more than that- suddenly, Yuuri was someone worth wanting. Top of the podium.

Yuuri took his time freshening up. He slicked his hair back again, tucking the envelope safe in his breast lining pocket. He looked at himself in the mirror.

It was just like the ice. But Yuuri had already won, had already gotten his reward. And with that knowledge, his nerves ebbed away. Katsuki Yuuri, anxious neurotic and failed skater slipped off him like a shirt to the floor. Yuuri practiced a smirk in the mirror.

Yuuri may not be worth fifteen hundred dollars. But if Yuuri was willing to try, and he was- then Eros certainly could be.

 


 

Four years later...

 


 

Victor threw the vodka back with a pace that got him a low whistle from his friend. Chris was shaking his head, taking a deliberately slow sip of his wine as they both sat at the hotel bar. Victor ignored him, flagging the bartender to order another one.

'You don't even like vodka,' Chris said, putting his glass down on the bar. Victor shrugged, adjusting the cuffs of his shirt while he waited.

'It's a special occasion,' Victor replied, tossing his head a little to get his hair out of his face. Chris watched the movement, hazel eyes dark.

'Your short-program at Germany was impressive, I'll give you that.'

'Not a celebration. This is a wake,' Victor said, slipping a five dollar bill to the bartender for the vodka he just brought.

Chris paused over reaching for his wine; 'Who died?'

'My inspiration,' Victor lamented, taking the vodka straight again. Chris sighed, taking up his wine and smiling into it.

'Ah, Victor. Always one for the dramatics,' he said and Victor felt himself pout. He really wished Chris would take his predicament seriously. It was easy for Chris to dismiss it, like it wasn't that big a deal, but Victor knew better. Chris had outperformed him so far in the assignments, even if the rankings read differently.

'I'm not being dramatic,' Victor said, reclining in his bar stool in a manner that could definitely be taken as being dramatic. He looked around the room, taking in the low light chandeliers and expensive leather seats. The hum of people talking and the quiet traffic outside. Victor always liked a good Westin. 'Without inspiration, my career as I knew it is practically over.'

'So you didn't score as well in performance as you usually do. You're still leading ahead the rest of us,' Chris said, tone at least a little more sympathetic now. He smirked, finishing his wine. 'At least it's giving me the chance to show you how a real artist looks.'

'Ha, ha,' Victor said miserably. He leaned on one hand, watching as Chris poured himself another glass of wine. 'I will admit, your Intoxicated program certainly gave mine a run for it's money.'

'Hmm, shame about the quad loop though,' Chris said, referencing to when he had touched down on the ice at the Nebelhorn Trophy in September. Victor smiled in sympathy.

'Yes, but your performance was so strong that it hardly mattered. Your conviction was one thing I was definitely lacking,' he said kindly, shaking his head when the bartender asked if he needed another drink. Chris laughed, breathy and flirty- like always. Victor felt himself grinning at it. 'What?'

'I don't think your conviction was the problem, Victor,' Chris said, his accent making the i seem soft in his mouth. Victor frowned, unable to stop himself.

'What do you mean?'

'Please tell me you've slept with someone, anyone, between now and when we hooked up at the World's last season,' Chris said, mouth all amusement at Victor's expense. Victor froze, not at all happy with the direction the conversation had taken.

'I- well, I've been busy,' Victor answered lamely, causing Chris to narrow his eyes.

'Six months is an awfully long time.'

'Not really.'

'It is when you decide you want to dance about sexual love of all things,' Chris countered, taking another sip of wine. Victor was half-tempted to take it off him and throw it in his stupid, smug Swiss face. 'The storyline of your short-program is great, Victor. But the inspiration for it isn't exactly fresh, is it? You haven't seduced anyone in over a year.'

'I seduced you at the Worlds,' Victor retorted, smiling at the memory. Chris scoffed.

'Come now, really? That was hardly the tale of temptation and chase you were trying to convey in your On Love: Eros. Even while it was happening I could tell your heart wasn't in it,' Chris said, looking at Victor fondly but his mouth was turned down just a little in disappointment. Victor didn't blush, but he could feel himself get a little warmer under the collar.

'That's not fair,' Victor said, knowing it to be true and hoping to alleviate some of his guilt. Chris smiled again, leaning over to squeeze Victor's hand for a moment.

'Not saying you weren't nice, chéri,' Chris teased and Victor side-eyed him appropriately. 'But when did you last seduce someone properly? Last time you even flirted! You're Victor Nikiforov, aren't you? Shouldn't you be sweeping some poor soul off their feet and to the Bahama's or something?'

'No one has grabbed my attention,' Victor answered truthfully, but he couldn't meet Chris' eye anymore, instead focusing on the crimson bottles behind the bar.

'Don't me tell me you, of all people, are looking for 'the right person'?' Chris asked, incredulous. Victor sighed, running a hand through his hair as he tried to think of the best way to answer. Chris whistled again and this time Victor was sure he could feel the littlest blush come across his cheeks. 'Mon dieu.'

'Alright, I know! I get it!' Victor said, waving a hand at Chris like he could wave away Chris' mocking. Victor flagged the bartender again, giving in. 'It's just- skating has begun to lose its appeal. I've never had anything but my work, but now I'm not even sure about that. That's why I'm so disappointed with my performance this season. If it's to be my last, then I want it to count. I want to surprise people, but not with how lacklustre it is.'

Chris had been listening patiently, even ignoring his wine so to give Victor his full attention. Victor was grateful, but now he felt a little self-conscious in admitting everything to him. Even though Chris was his friend, he was Victor's competitor first. It probably wasn't wise to admit to such things in front of him. But Victor couldn't bring himself to worry too much about it. Chris was all sympathy anyway, patting Victor's knee in comfort.

'I think I know what you need,' Chris said and his eyes were all mischief. Victor rolled his own, half knowing what to expect. Chris delivered faithfully. 'I'm taking you out. You're twenty-seven, not dead. I'll even cover you.'

'Oh?' Victor asked, the prospect not sounding as bad as it had before Chris had outright said it. Maybe it was the fact that Victor was dreading another night of insomnia due to his worries about the season. Maybe it was just that Victor was sick and tired of not having fun anymore.

'Yes!' Chris said, all enthusiasm now Victor hadn't turned him down. 'I know a great strip club-'

Victor laughed before he could stop himself; 'A strip club? That's bad enough at the best of times, but a strip club in Detroit?'

'It's a surprisingly classy establishment, I assure you,' Chris replied, but Victor wasn't convinced. His initial excitement was beginning to dull when the reality of the situation came back to him.

'There's a reason we're in the bar at half five, Chris,' Victor said, thanking the bartender when he dropped off another vodka, this time with a soda mixer. He mixed his drink, aware of Chris' disappointment. 'I doubt any strip club, no matter how classy, gets going before eleven, when we should be in bed.'

'Hmm,' was all Chris said, but Victor knew it meant that Chris had conceded his point. Then something crossed Chris' face and Victor knew that look. That look meant trouble. That was the same look that got Victor into Chris' hotel room in the first place back at the World's.

Friendly game of strip poker indeed.

'I have an idea.'

'I thought as much,' Victor said, motioning with his drink for Chris to continue. Chris smiled wickedly.

'It's not strictly speaking legal,' he said, eyebrows wiggling and Victor couldn't help himself. He took the bait.

'I don't party,' Victor said, though he knew Chris was aware of that but he wanted to be clear. Chris looked offended.

'I'd never suggest it. We're professionals, after all,' he said somewhat distractedly as he pulled out his phone. Chris scrolled through it, looking all the more excited as he did so. Victor was truly intrigued now. 'And speaking of professionals- how about I set you up on a very special date?'

Victor thought about the meaning of that for a moment. He paused while taking a sip from his drink; 'A hooker?'

'Escort,' Chris corrected smoothly, putting his phone down on the bar screen up. 'Don't be crude. You know better English than that. Better French even.'

'I don't need an escort, I'm not that bad,' Victor said as Chris glanced at his phone again. 'I like to think I can still get my own dates.'

'The last year says different.'

'... I wasn't trying.'

'Sure. Well, now you don't need to as I've done it for you. I'll even pay for you,' Chris said, grin lighting up just as his phone did. 'Excellent,' he said to whatever the phone read.

'How expensive is it? Should I allow you to do that?' Victor asked, genuinely unsure if this was a matter of a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand.

Chris was texting distractedly; 'Don't worry about it. I get a special rate for loyalty.'

Victor blinked at that, surprised. 'How often do you use this service?'

'I use this person's service, and every time I'm in America,' Chris replied, cheerily sending another text before setting the phone back down. He gave Victor his most charming smile, the one that got him into most of ladies' skating once he'd made his way through half of the men's. Also got him a guest role in a few pair skates as well, if the rumours were anything to go by.

Victor thought about what Chris said while he finished his drink. Every time he was in America. Chris had been assigned to Skate America for almost four years now. Had he been meeting this person, this same person, all that time? As far as Victor was concerned, that was practically marriage. (Even if Chris was paying for it).

'What about-?' Victor started, wondering if he should bring up Chris' boyfriend.

'We've only been exclusive in the last four months. But no, I would never consider this for myself now,' Chris said, taking his wine in hand again. He signalled Victor with it, smile coy. 'That's why I have no problem in sharing with you. Once you meet, I'm sure you two will get on just perfectly. More than that maybe.'

'Oh? You're confident,' Victor replied, looking out across the bar again. Watching other couples sit close and talk in secrets. 'So, do I get to know anything about them other than the price tag before I decide?'

'Appalling.' Chris smiled again over the rim of his wine glass, eyes glittering like the glass chandeliers above them. 'I wouldn't be so rude as to bring up money, like some people. I can tell you that no matters what happens you certainly won't regret it.'

Victor thought about that for a moment. This was outrageous, even for him. Hiring a person. For sex? It was insane, beyond bold and possibly into evil. Was it evil, to do such a thing? Victor wasn't sure, he'd never done anything like this. Never had to arrange a rendezvous with his credit card. But Chris seemed so comfortable about it, so happy to share the experience. Maybe Victor was being puritan. (Which was a first).

'Alright,' Victor conceded, to Chris' apparent glee. Victor fidgeted with his hands, feeling nervous and for the first time in a while, excited. 'Do I have to sleep with them?'

'Him. And no, you don't have to do anything you don't want to,' Chris said, firing off another text. He gave Victor another smirk. 'I sincerely doubt you'll find the restraint though.'

'Is that a comment on me as a person, or your friend's skill as a professional?'

'Why don't we find out?' Chris said, slipping his phone back into his dark jeans. He readjusted his shirt, (lavender, beautiful as always and bringing out his eyes). 'Everything's arranged. All you have to do is show up here, at this bar, at seven o'clock.'

'Can't I just wait?' Victor asked.

Chris gave him a very pointed look up and down. Victor shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny.

'Chéri, you're the illustration of jet-lagged right now. Go upstairs, shower and put on a nice shirt,' Chris said, sliding out of his seat gracefully. He stood up and left a five dollar bill under his empty wine glass. 'First impressions count, you know.'

'I get it,' Victor said, standing up and leaving a tip as well. American tip culture was still something he didn't understand. Victor paused mid-movement. Would he have to tip this guy? Does one tip an escort? How did that work?

'Don't worry,' Chris said as they both walked out of the bar and into the lobby. 'There's nothing to be nervous about. I think this guy is just what you need, actually. Might even be fate.'

'A bold declaration,' Victor said, pressing the call button for the lift back to their rooms. He turned to face Chris, taking in his curly hair and slight stubble. Victor wondered idly if he should shave again. 'So, what's this guy's name?'

Chris laughed softly as they stepped into the lift, eyes turning green with mischief as he met Victor's gaze. His smile was crooked, all leaning intention.

'Eros.'

 


 

Yuuri finished taping the last box with a flourish, stepping back to admire his handiwork. The dorm-room looked so big now with everything packed up, his and Phichit's beds bare but for a sleeping bag each and the walls empty of their posters. It was strangely sad, seeing the room this way after all the years they'd spent together in it. But they were moving somewhere much better, ready to start their adult lives. That was something worth giving up the small room for, despite the nostalgia.

The door opened behind him and Phichit came in, pulling his hat off as he did, brown cheeks tinted red. It was quite cold for October, gloves and scarf weather already. It would probably snow in winter. Yuuri was glad they'd be out of this room by then.

'Yuuri!' Phichit cried, running across the room with his phone aloft. He shoved the screen into Yuuri's face. 'Have you seen Instagram? What am I saying? Of course you didn't. But Victor Nikiforov arrived in Detroit today!'

'Wow, already?!' Yuuri asked, unable to contain his excitement. He took Phichit's phone, looking at the selfie Nikiforov had posted. He was all glamour; gorgeous silver hair, matching sunglasses for the winter sun and stylish black peacoat. It made Yuuri's heart ache, just a little, knowing someone he admired so much was so close. 'He looks amazing.'

'When doesn't he?' Phichit replied, throwing himself down on one of the bare beds, only to yelp and sit back up. He pulled a stray roll of tape out from behind his back, glaring at Yuuri. 'It's amazing you have any left. You taped those boxes within an inch of their life.'

'Better safe than sorry,' Yuuri said, tapping like before handing Phichit's phone back to him and putting down the tape gun he was holding.

'I'm not even going to be able to get at my stuff under all that wrapping,' Phichit said, dark eyes looking at his phone now. No doubt scrolling through the rest of Instagram. Yuuri smiled at him fondly.

'I already liked that photo for you.'

'It's a fake like though,' Phichit said, lying back down on the bed. He reached a hand out towards Yuuri. 'Why don't you get your own Instagram and then you can leave all the love letters you like in the comment section instead of hijacking mine?'

'You know I don't like social media,' Yuuri replied, taking Phichit's hand and letting himself be pulled down onto the bed next to him. He looked at Phichit's phone as Phichit switched to camera.

'Paranoid,' Phichit said, adjusting his phone for the perfect angle. He smiled, giving a peace sign in the lower corner of the frame. 'Smile, moving day selfie!'

Yuuri pushed himself into Phichit's shoulder, grinning up at the camera for the customary click noise. Phichit had always wondered why Yuuri avoided social media, but Yuuri had told him he was just a private person and didn't appreciate the culture. It wasn't strictly speaking a lie. Social media could be dangerous if you weren't careful. And Yuuri already had enough to be careful about. One less thing to worry about if Phichit couldn't attach his name to any photos.

As if on cue, Yuuri's phone beeped from his laptop bag on the other bed. His professional phone. Yuuri got up, padding over in his socks and fishing the phone out of the bag. The Blackberry was a little old now, he should probably upgrade soon. Just seemed like a needless expense when his private phone was already an iPhone6. Yuuri had other things to spend his money on.

Yuuri smiled before he could stop himself as he read the notification.

1新しいメッセージ - Chris G.

Yuuri had met Chris four years ago when he was in America for his first US assignment. Yuuri's first. He'd lost his virginity to him. Professionally speaking, that is. A champion figure skater, gorgeous, funny and exuding charm. He always paid in full upfront via card, too, without Yuuri ever having to ask like he had to with some clients. Chris was the perfect regular, though Yuuri only saw him at most twice a year. If anything, it made the time they saw each other all the more special.

Yuuri bit his lip as he opened the message, unsure what to expect. He'd seen the gossip websites, linking Chris to his choreographer. By all accounts it was getting serious. But Chris was a grown man, he could make his own decisions. It's not like Yuuri was twisting his arm.

17:34PM Evening, mon ange. No doubt you know I'm back in town. Don't suppose I could ask a very big favour of you?

'Is that work?' Phichit asked from the bed, only sounding half interested. Yuuri nodded before realising that Phichit likely wasn't looking at him.

'Yeah, might need to go in later,' Yuuri said, typing out a reply to Chris as he did. Flirting was still so much easier in text than person, even after all this time.

17:35PM For you, anything.

Yuuri waited patiently for the response while Phichit grumbled from the bed about eating alone for dinner again.

'I'm sorry, Phichit.'

'We're moving tomorrow. It's a special day, our last day in this shitty dorm-room! And you're abandoning me for some stupid meeting,' Phichit said, sitting up and pouting proper at Yuuri now. Yuuri smiled sympathetically as his phone went off again.

'I found the new apartment, doesn't that get me off the hook at least a little?' Yuuri said as he read Chris' message, then ignoring Phichit's reply.

17:35PM I have a friend I'd love you to meet. Having a rough time of it. Could do with some good company. My treat, of course. ;)

Yuuri twirled the cursor ball of the Blackberry distractedly. Chris had never set him up before. Yuuri had been referred by other clients before, of course. But never by Chris. It was unusual, but Yuuri couldn't stop the little knot of excitement from forming in his stomach. Chris was pretty wonderful, and a really decent guy. Very good sex. He'd never set Yuuri up with someone he didn't think was nice, at the very least. Chris was even willing to pay. Yuuri typed out his reply, not bothering to be coy about it.

17:36PM The usual session? (4hr 3K)

'You're not even listening to me. Here I am, telling you how heartbroken I am that you would abandon me on a day like today, and you're ignoring me,' Phichit lamented, squeaking bed springs signalling to Yuuri that he'd gotten off the bed. Sure enough, Phichit was behind him instantly, resting his forehead on the back of Yuuri's neck dejectedly. 'You're the worst friend.'

'I'm a great friend. You're paying half rent, aren't you?' Yuuri said, hiding his phone subtly against his chest as he turned to face Phichit. Phichit groaned in acquiesce, flapping his arms dramatically, his puffy red parka scraping.

'Fine. Go,' Phichit sighed loudly, throwing his eyes to the ceiling. 'Maybe Ciao Ciao will get dinner with me.'

'Cause he doesn't see you enough? Between training and Skate America this weekend, he'll be sick of you,' Yuuri said as his phone beeped again.

'I wish you still competed,' Phichit said, and not for the first time since the season had started. Yuuri felt a blush creep up, warming his cheeks. He looked away, one hand coming up to fidget awkwardly with the arm of his glasses. 'Then you wouldn't have to run off to that god awful office at the most inconvenient times.'

'Ah- yes, but then how could we afford anything?' Yuuri stuttered, trying to steer the conversation away from skating. Yuuri could listen to a stranger talk about skating for all the hours he was paid to. But listening to his friend bring it up just reminded Yuuri of how much he missed it. It was painful, and too late for such things now. Yuuri was too old, at twenty-three. Better to focus elsewhere now.

'Skating is way better than stocks, or finance. Or whatever it is you do'

Yuuri shrugged Phichit off him, muttering about how he had to make a living somehow and checking his phone as he made his way to the en-suite to get ready for his evening.

17:37PM Perfect. 7pm Westin Cadillac. Usual place.

17:37PM  I normally only accept two hours notice.

17:38PM I know, but like I said, this is a favour. ;)

Yuuri slipped into the bathroom, turning the shower on before sending his next message, excitement bleeding out into his face now as he smiled to himself in the mirror.

17:38PM I spoil you. What's your friends name?

17:39PM Trust me, you'll know him when you see him.

 


 

Yuuri popped in his contacts in the Westin lobby bathroom, glasses safe at home. He ran another hand over his hair, pushed back like he used to wear on the ice, back when he skated. His clothes for the job were also influenced by his skating career, made him feel closer to it somehow. Strange as that probably sounded, it was comforting. The shirt Yuuri was wearing was actually from the women's section, but it fit beautifully once he had it tailored after buying a larger size. Black silk, with a chiffon panel across the shoulders showing just the barest shadow of his pale skin beneath. It hung loose and heavy, buttons swirling pearl; it made Yuuri feel beautiful and malleable. The best thing to be in this situation.

Running a quick swipe of lip balm over his lips, Yuuri looked at his own brown eyes staring back at him in the mirror. This was always the best part of the job. The sex itself was rarely good, even rarer to be great or memorable. But that first meeting. The adrenaline, the figuring out of which persona Yuuri should adopt, what the client wanted- it was equal to nothing. Yuuri wasn't even sure anymore if stepping out on the rink that first time before an audience, ready to tell a story through dancing on ice, could compare anymore. He told himself it wouldn't, that it couldn't.

And the money wasn't bad either, Yuuri would admit.

Taking a breath, Yuuri ran his hands down his black slacks to brush away any dust. They were impeccable, having only been dry cleaned the day before, but Yuuri found himself strangely nervous. Brimming with tense excitement. He turned and left the bathroom, walking purposely across the lobby towards the bar. His watch read 18:58PM.

Walking into the bar, Yuuri felt like he was stepping into something familiar. He was reminded, vividly, of being a teenager and sneaking off to Ice Palace, the rink he'd skate in back home in Japan. Yuuri stopped himself from frowning at the memory. Weird; to think of that now.

Yuuri looked around the bar, which was full of life now so late in the evening. Busy, even for a Thursday. Yuuri walked with purpose up to the bar itself, enclosed in an alcove in moody blue and purple lighting. And sitting at the bar was a tall, slender man with bright, silver hair that caught the light in lines of mauve and gold.

Yuuri froze.

No, no way. It couldn't be. Of all the people in the world, all the men in this hotel, even all the skaters Chris knew... Yuuri was standing in the centre of the bar, lights passing through the tall windows and ears full of the chatter of other patrons. But he couldn't focus on anything but the back of Victor Nikiforov.

Victor freaking Nikiforov. Yuuri's celebrity crush. The screensaver of his personal phone. Yuuri just stopped himself from ruining his hair by running his hands through it as something Yuuri was afraid to call panic, (but it was definitely panic), flooded through him. It had to be a mistake. But there was no one else sitting at the bar. And Chris said Yuuri would recognise the client. Yuuri didn't realise he was holding his breath until it all fell out of him. Okay, calm down. Yuuri needed to get his shit together. This was fine.

Okay, it wasn't fine. It was kind of amazing. Never in all his wildest fantasies, (in which Victor Nikiforov did indeed play a role), could Yuuri have imagined this. Yuuri took a long, shaky breath, ignoring the way a nearby table was watching him have a mini breakdown. Yuuri could do this. It was just like any other appointment, with any other client.

(Except it wasn't. It was Victor Nikiforov).

Yuuri tempered down the raging of his mind, reminding himself to be sceptical. Life was rarely this kind to anyone, especially him. Yuuri would go up to the bar, and sit near but not next to Victor. If Victor was his client, he'd be sure to ask, and if not- well, then Yuuri would feel disappointed later. For now, Yuuri let himself indulge in the stupid, silly hope for just a bit longer.

Standing up a bit straighter, Yuuri put everything he knew about Victor Nikiforov into his walk. Echoed the skating he so desperately admired, the skating that had influenced Yuuri's own so heavily back when he had skated himself. Hips swaying, arms loose. Feminine, inviting. Yuuri wanted to be as far away from the high pressure men Victor was often associated with. If Yuuri was going to seduce Victor Nikiforov, then he was going to be as much of himself as he could be while he was doing it.

Yuuri leant against the bar, hyper aware of Victor's eyes on him as he did. He signaled the bartender with a brief nod, glancing at Victor from the corner of his eye. Victor was so handsome, more handsome than his own photos did justice to. His hair was styled so his fringe looked perfectly swept out of his face, white shirt crisp under Victor's suit jacket and begging to be rumpled in Yuuri's mind. But Yuuri was careful, trying to keep his treacherous heart from getting too excited.

'Eros?'

Victor's accent was so much more striking in person than on a screen. Yuuri couldn't contain the smile he got when he heard it, looking at Victor properly over his shoulder. Victor's eyes were electric, the blue of them reflecting purple and looking dark in the shadows of the bar. Yuuri felt his breath catch, just a little, but he covered well. Yuuri hadn't been this nervous since his first time.

'You must be Chris' friend,' he said, voice soft and just a little breathy. He was pleased to see Victor's lips part in some surprise. Most men were surprised with how softly Yuuri could speak. Yuuri held out a hand.

'Victor, please,' Victor said, taking Yuuri's hand and bringing it up to his lips, kissing Yuuri's knuckles. It was Yuuri's turn for surprise now. A blush bloomed, unbidden. Yuuri instantly felt embarrassed, only making it worse he was sure. For God's sake, he was supposed to be a professional. Victor smiled sinfully, letting Yuuri's fingers slip through his own as the bartender approached.

'Can I get you a drink?' Victor said, sounding like it had edges with accent.

'Champagne,' Yuuri answered, a little breathless. Clients had done a lot of things with Yuuri over the years. He'd thought he'd done everything. But no one had kissed his hand like that.

Victor asked for two glasses of champagne as Yuuri settled himself into the bar stool next to him. Yuuri crossed his legs and ambitiously let his top leg reach into Victor's space, calf just grazing Victor's thigh. Yuuri had never thought he'd get so close to Victor Nikiforov, and yet here he was. It was amazing. Better than that.

'You come highly recommended,' Victor said as he passed Yuuri his glass. Yuuri smiled, thanking Chris profusely in his head.

'I've known Chris a long time. He's too kind, really,' Yuuri replied, feeling brave behind his glass of champagne. He took a small sip, careful to pace himself. It didn't do well to drink too much on a job.

'I have faith he meant what he said about you,' Victor said, eyes like flint in the dark. Setting Yuuri's heart alight. Yuuri hoped he wasn't still blushing. Instead, Yuuri put the glass down carefully, leaning across the small space between himself and Victor. He put his hand on Victor's knee, loving the warmth he felt there. Victor sat up a little straighter, looking down at Yuuri from beneath his silver fringe.

'Chris said you were a bit down lately,' Yuuri said lowly, causing Victor to lean a little forward, making the space between them even smaller. Yuuri looked up at Victor from beneath his lashes, a move that generally got the desired affect. 'Any idea on how I could help cheer you up?'

Victor visibly swallowed, cheeks lighting up and for the first time in a long time, Yuuri genuinely wanted it. Yuuri wanted Victor to take him upstairs to his room, he wanted to let himself be taken where ever Victor wished and he wanted Victor to want him right back. He squeezed Victor's knee, letting his hand slip up just a little further, slow and heavy.

'Tell me, Eros,' Victor said, placing a hand over Yuuri's on his leg. He moved forward suddenly, all boldness to Yuuri's coy. Victor's other hand slid across the bar, taking Yuuri's hand there and lacing their fingers together. He was up in Yuuri's space, forcing Yuuri to sit up as Victor practically leant over him. Yuuri looked at his lips the entire time, wanting what he'd wanted to know since he was twelve.

What do Victor Nikiforov's lips taste like?

'Can you dance?' Victor asked, breath fanning over Yuuri's face as Victor moved closer, so close that all Yuuri would have to do is push forward just the small, few centimetres.

Yuuri was losing control of the situation. He was the one who had seduce Victor, not the other way around. Yuuri shifted slightly, attempting a smirk and putting his own wants away. It was just like the ice; all that adrenaline, all that excitement. The need to prove himself. Yuuri had always dreamed of meeting Victor one day as a rival. He'd blown it as a skater back at the Grand Prix, but now he had a second chance in a whole new playing field. Not like Victor remembered anyway. Yuuri was someone else now.

It was like pulling the zip up on a costume. Elegant and easy. Yuuri slipped into Eros like he had a thousand times before, pushing the excitement he felt at being in Victor's presence down. He'd indulged enough. Time to show Victor just what Katsuki Yuuri was capable of.

Yuuri slid effortlessly off the stool, letting Victor trail his hands up his thigh and across his hip as Yuuri twisted out of Victor's grip, releasing his hand. He smirked over his shoulder at Victor's look of surprise.

'I know just the place if you're looking for a dance,' he said, turning on his heel back to Victor as he got out of his seat.

Yuuri reached up to Victor's collar, smoothing it out though it was already perfect. He ghosted his fingertips across the skin of Victor's neck, trailing his hands down Victor's chest. He pressed just a little harder than he needed to, hands slipping under Victor's suit jacket, feeling the tone of his abs underneath fabric. Yuuri stood up on his tip-toes to whisper in Victor's ear. 'It's a bit dangerous though. Think you can handle it?'

Victor nodded mutely, eyes dark like dried ink on the page. Yuuri felt his stomach twist at the sight as he pulled away, careful to let his hands linger on Victor's slim waist as long as he could manage to. He smiled, right corner up a little further. Slanted, inviting. Bordering on smug.

'Come with me.'

 

Chapter Text

Eros was nothing that Victor had expected. He was much better.

When Victor first saw the man come up to the bar, he tried to stop himself from hoping too hard. The man was objectively gorgeous, of course. Victor expected nothing less of someone Chris was willing to spend his winnings on. Chris always went a little extra for aesthetics. He was younger than Victor expected. He barely looked over twenty-one. 

But there was something in the way he moved, the way he was dressed, that oozed sensuality like it was something liquid and volatile. Like it was gasoline, just waiting for a spark. Victor noticed it immediately, abandoning his half-finished whiskey to admire him. When the man confirmed himself to be Eros, Victor almost thanked God out loud.

Eros was all soft curves and elegant creases. Round face, round eyes. Brown, but not any brown Victor had ever seen on someone before. It was the colour of a chestnuts skin in the fall. Autumn leaves in the Summer Garden. Victor couldn't look away from them as Eros spoke, voice delicate and inviting. He had been folded into his seat like an envelope, all secret promise. Victor loved the way he looked, loved the way his black silk shirt shined in the low light and loved the mental image of it pooling dark on Victor's hotel room floor.

Victor wanted him from the moment he saw him. God, Chris was such a mu'dakKnew exactly what Victor liked. 

But as tempting as all of it was, it wasn't what was dragging Victor in. It was what Victor was sure lay beneath the smirk and dark lashes. There was something about the pink in Eros' cheeks when he saw Victor first, the way he was so easy to bend when Victor pushed. Something that suggested softness, warmth. Something Victor couldn't even think to name as Eros took a graceful sip of his champagne, all allurement yet giving away nothing. It was hidden now; slipping beneath Eros' confidence and experience, no doubt.

But for one moment, Victor had caught the man off-guard for whatever reason, revealing something secret. Whatever it was, it was far removed from what Victor expected of an escort. And Victor wanted to see it again.

While they had been waiting for their drinks, Victor had taken the time to watch Eros, watch the way he moved, looking for another hint of the man beneath the flirt. Victor wanted to ruin Eros' styled hair, wanted to see what else was hidden beneath the teasing chiffon of his shoulders. Victor felt the desire, bursting hot and slowly throbbing low in his gut. Victor wanted to know what Eros would say if he wasn't given the chance to think, if he'd say anything at all or if Victor could pull noises from him that Eros didn't have to fake. Victor hadn't felt desire like that in some time. Hadn't wanted anything, anyone, so badly so soon.

So really, what was happening now was inevitable, as Eros led Victor past the line of people waiting to get into what looked like to be a side entrance to a luxury apartment complex down off Shelby Street. Victor was sure he'd follow the stranger back to Russia, if he asked.

Eros went straight up to the bouncer at the door, who smiled down at the slight man. They were clearly acquainted. Victor came up behind Eros, feeling bold and maybe the smallest bit possessive. Maybe it was the money- the knowledge that for this one, bizarre evening, Victor for all intents and purposes owned the man before him. But something in Victor was sated when he looped his arm around Eros' waist, pulling him back to Victor's side in one effortless movement. Eros paused mid-sentence, looking at Victor with a confident smile but questioning eyes. Victor loved the quiet surprise.

'Joe, this is Victor,' Eros said to the bouncer, but his eyes never left Victor's. Eros leaned into Victor's side with more purpose, hand coming up to skim across Victor's stomach, toying with buttons. Eros turned back to the bouncer and Victor felt disappointment before he could stop himself. 'He's visiting. I think he deserves some quality Midwestern hospitality.'

Joe, (as it turned out), gave Victor a very stern look, eyeing him up like he was taking in how best to knock Victor down. Victor stood up taller, taking advantage of his height. Though he was sure Joe was large enough that if he hit him, Victor would go down.

'You're not even American, kid,' Joe said to Eros, and Victor raised his eyebrows in surprise. Eros' English was perfect, accent sounding American to Victor's ear. But maybe not? Joe shook his head, smile betraying him as he ran a hand over his shaved head. 'You owe me more in admission than I think I'm actually earning.'

'But don't I always make it up to you?' Eros said, pulling away from Victor briefly to lay a hand against Joe's chest. Eros looked so small in front of the imposing figure, shoulders slight and waist tucked in artfully. Normally, Victor would probably wonder what kind of exercise regime Eros did to keep a figure like that. Now however, all Victor could think was how Eros' hand needed to be anywhere but on someone else.

Before Victor could do anything though, Eros reached behind him and linked their hands together. He was pulling Victor forward through the door, blowing a kiss back at Joe as they entered the building. Eros led Victor down a deep, red coloured hallway to an expensive looking black door. Behind it, Victor could hear music and the hum of people talking. A party? This early?

Eros turned to face Victor, his face the picture of seduction as he took the two steps between them, standing just inches from Victor's chin. In the low light of the hall, his eyes looked almost black, lips shining. Victor could feel his breath. His stomach twisted tightly, metallic pleasure heading all the way down.

'Ready?' Eros asked and he sounded breathless. Victor smiled, hoping the excitement he could see in Eros was genuine.

'Absolutely,' Victor replied, leaning forward and eyes almost closed before he caught Eros turning away from him at the last moment, denying him. Victor groaned in frustration before he could stop himself.

Eros opened the door with one hand, leading Victor in by the other. 'Patience,' he said, before they were both engulfed in the heat and music of the party.

Victor had never been to a party like this one.

It looked like it was someone's apartment, but it had been cleared of most furniture, leaving only round beds and stray love seats along the walls, a makeshift dance floor in the centre. The lighting was red and low, almost complete dark. The open kitchen was a fully stocked bar, island converted for the purpose and all. The ceiling was draped in curtains and the music had a bass so low that it rocked deep in Victor's chest. He followed Eros through the crowd, which was a unique selection of well-dressed people and scantily clad dancers. Couples, and other varitations as far as quintents, were sharing the many soft surfaces. Victor's mouth fell open in shock when he saw the level of exhibitionism they showed to be okay with.

Eros turned around once they made it to the dance floor, his fingers finding Victor's belt loops and hooking through them. He pulled Victor forward, their hips meeting and Victor moaned at the contact, his attention coming back solely to the beautiful man in front of him.

'Distracted?' Eros asked and Victor had to strain to hear him over the music and the collective noises of the people around them. Victor shook his head, afraid of what he might say as Eros' hands slid around his middle, splaying flat against his back.

Eros began to move to the music, hips grinding against Victor's and his chest bumping into his. Victor's hands ran over Eros' shoulders, down his arms, loving the give of the silk all the way down. The way it rippled beneath his touch, the way it was so soft it betrayed all the muscles Eros was hiding. Victor gripped Eros' wrists tightly, holding Eros' arms in place around his waist. Eros gasped at the force of it, which Victor was surprised at himself. In response, Eros slid his hands down, stopping just above Victor's ass.

'Don't let go,' was all Victor could think of to say as Eros stared up at him, his brown eyes burning red in the light. They looked so deep that Victor half-feared he'd fall into them. Drown, maybe. Eros nodded slowly, moving up to brush his bare skin against Victor's own cleanly shaven cheek.

'I wasn't planning to,' Eros said into Victor's ear and Victor moved a hand up to Eros' neck, holding him in place. The movement was sudden and Eros' grip tightened reflexively on Victor and Victor loved how it brought Eros more forward, loved the feeling of his hard chest and round thighs pressed up against him.

The next while passed in a blur, Eros moving around Victor like he'd been dancing with him all his life. Eros knew which way Victor would move, knew when to bend, when to catch him. It was like a religious experience, only infinitely better as Victor didn't intend on being penitent for any of it. They would meet, hips coming together and arms tangling and it was just so, so good. Better than anything Victor had ever had.

Eros turned away from him in tune to the beat, some deeply remixed Latin step with Spanish lyrics, bass line pounding to the erratic violin. His hand slid down Victor's arm as he slipped away, fire all the way down. Eros spun in place, back arching in a way that just begged to be recreated later. He raised his hands above his head, arms bending and hands flared. Victor stepped up in Eros' open position, running a hand hard down Eros' side, feeling the heat of his body beneath the silk of his shirt.

Victor bent an arm around Eros' back, pulling Eros forward into Victor's lunge. They fit together beautifully. Eros had to be trained, no one could dance like this on the spot. Victor wanted to know everything Eros could do. As the music sped along, Eros twisted in Victor's grip, his ass coming down right where Victor dreamed it would be. Victor whimpered at the contact, but it was lost in the noise of the party. Eros grinded backwards and one of Victor's hands came down onto Eros' hip, the other coming to hold Eros beneath his neck. Victor could feel Eros' pulse, pounding like the music.

'You're amazing,' Victor said into Eros' ear, lips brushing against the soft skin there. Eros leaned back, ass grinding up against Victor's crotch. Victor groaned, the image of all the evening promised flaring before him. Victor wanted to dance with Eros again, wondered what Eros would look like on a rink . Victor bet he'd look amazing. Victor couldn't stop himself picturing it; Eros' body, fluid and weightless across the ice.

'Imagine what you could do with the right coach,' Victor breathed out across Eros' neck as he moved to the music, almost lost to his own imagination. Eros twisted in Victor's grip, pulling Victor along in a half-attempted tango step. Eros' hands came down to hold Victor's, assuming the following position.

'Tonight,' Eros said. 'Be my coach, Victor.'

He was obviously teasing but his eyes were alight like a fire that threatened to burn the whole city down.

'Konechno,' Victor replied instantly, leading Eros towards the centre of the floor.

Then Eros was gone, spinning with the music out of Victor's grip. Victor followed him, adoring the way Eros' body moved to the beat. There could be no music at all, and Victor would be able to hear every note in the way Eros turned, the shape of his arms above his head. As Eros moved closer, Victor reached out and gathered Eros into a lift, delighting at the way Eros shifted his weight to gain height, one leg around Victor's waist. Betraying the presence of the training Eros no doubt had.

Grinning to himself, Victor worried he might be falling in love. Just a little.

Eros slid down Victor's body, almost seated in Victor's lap and held there by Victor's grip. He was panting, a sheen of sweat catching the red light and his pushed back hair coming a little loose. He looked the very definition of an invitation. Victor slipped a hand up Eros' chest, loving the way Eros' eyes slid closed as he did. His hand held Eros' jawline, fingers splaying down across the skin of his neck.

Victor couldn't wait anymore, he didn't have the resolve. Victor could feel himself getting harder just from the very thought of kissing Eros, already half-way there from the movement of Eros against him throughout their dance. Victor let go of Eros' neck, but Eros didn't move, body only slightly swaying to the music. He had to feel it, too. He had to. Victor ran his thumb across Eros' bottom lip, watched as Eros' gaze dropped to look at Victor's own lips. It was all the consent Victor needed.

Their lips met in a burst of heat and wet, Eros opening to meet Victor immediately. Victor moaned, deep in his throat as Eros' tongue slipped into his mouth. Victor sucked on it, desperate for the pull, the mere echoing action of having Eros fuck into his mouth setting his whole mind on fire. Victor's other hand came up to hold Eros' face, tips of fingers running into dark hair as Eros slipped down Victor's body.

Eros' hands grabbed fistfuls of Victor's shirt, pulling Victor forward against him. His lips moved feverently against Victor's, tongue slipping in and out in a way that was just filthy. Victor couldn't stop the needy noises that crawled up his throat as Eros used Victor's shirt as leverage to get up on his tip-toes. Victor moved a hand down around Eros' waist, all the way down to grab Eros' ass. Loved the way Eros' mouth opened even wider in a whimper at the touch, allowing Victor to lick at his teeth and take Eros' bottom lip between his own. Victor licked at it to soothe the sting before taking Eros' mouth once again.

Victor wasn't sure how long they had spent on the dance floor like that, kiss moving from heated to straight up sinful. Eros' hands had moved up, holding Victor just under the neck like he was half-afraid Victor would leave. Victor could feel Eros' stiff cock between his legs and the desire that had been mounting all night had devolved into heavy throbbing now.

Victor ushered up all the self-control he had, which wasn't much, but he somehow managed to get his tongue out of Eros' eager mouth and that was something. Slowly, Eros returned Victor's retreat, slowing his kisses down to continuous presses that, honestly, weren't doing anything to kill the heat between Victor's legs. Victor tore his mouth away, burying his face in Eros' shoulder to stop himself.

'You've no idea how long I wanted to do that,' Victor said, practically tasting Eros' shoulder beneath the thin chiffon. Victor bit his own lip to stop himself from biting at Eros' skin.

'Probably not as long as I have,' Eros answered quietly, so quietly that Victor almost didn't hear him.

Victor looked up, meeting Eros' eyes. 'What was that?'

Eros kissed him again, hands tightening around the back of Victor's neck and Victor melted into it. He moaned as Eros grazed Victor's top lip with his teeth as pulled away.

'Let's get out of here.'

Victor couldn't think of anything better than the fact that the hotel was only five minutes away.

 


 

They barely made it to the hotel room.

The journey back to the hotel had been a brisk walk in the cool October night. Hands fumbling together, almost holding but not quite. Quick, pitstop kisses that were much too long and deep. The doorman had given them a disapproving look until Eros touched his shoulder on the way in so sweetly that Victor had felt that it was absolutely necessary to pull Eros away with so much force that they practically fell through the revolving door.

In the lift, they hadn't fared much better.

After fumbling to get his keycard in to select the floor, Victor had gathered Eros up into his arms, sitting him up on the handrail. Eros had wrapped his legs around Victor's waist, sinfully soft and bruising hard, hands tangled in Victor's hair. Victor kissed Eros so hard that the back of his head hit the paneled wall, but Eros had done nothing but moan in approval, tugging Victor forward with him.

Victor had just about been holding it together until he let his hand travel downwards, palm pressing up against Eros' straining trousers.

'Ah, Victor~' Eros said, voice squeaking just slightly and Victor heard the first suggestion of an foreign accent as the backend of his name ran upwards. Victor wanted to hear Eros say his name like again, and again.

By the time they made it to Victor's hotel room, Victor almost gave up entirely. He grabbed Eros' delicate wrists in one hand, pinning them above his head and pressing Eros up against the door. Victor kissed him so deep he was running out breath, Eros' tongue lazily fucking in and out between Victor's lips. They were a dreadful thing.

'You can't fuck me in the hall,' Eros said, voice raspy as Victor let his lips go so to suck at Eros' neck. It could've been scold, but the way Eros mewled when Victor bit down suggested that he wasn't too committed.

'I was under the impression I could do as I please,' Victor said, surprising himself with the brashness of it.

The reality of the situation came crashing back to Victor. He released Eros, instead wrapping his hands around the slim waist of the man before him. Victor leant his body flush against Eros, loving the way Eros' head tilted back in a pleased sigh. Victor rubbed small circles on Eros' stomach through his silk shirt.

'You do want this, right?'

Eros looked at Victor with wide eyes, hair completely in disarray now. Victor couldn't help but think it suited him, stray bangs and dark flyaways. Victor knew he'd look gorgeous in the morning. Eros rolled his hips forward, hard cock just meeting Victor's equally aching one through the fabric and Victor's knees went a little weak at the feeling.

'Oh, oh- god, Eros,' Victor groaned, name rolling and tripping over it's r and his head falling to Eros' shoulder.

'Was I giving the impression I wasn't exactly where I wanted to be?' Eros asked, hands coming up along Victor's shoulders in a soothing manner.

'Net. No, I mean. It's just- I've never...' Victor wasn't sure how to say it, quite afraid now he had spoiled the mood by bringing up, however indirectly, that Eros was being paid to be there with him.

Eros gently pulled Victor's head up, smiling at him softly before leaning forward and kissing Victor with a tenderness that sent shivers all the way down his spine. Eros rubbed small, soft circles with his thumb on Victor's cheek. Despite everything, it felt like the most intimate moment they had shared so far.

'Please believe me when I say that there is nowhere I'd rather be. And absolutely no one I'd rather be with,' Eros said as he pulled away from the kiss slowly. He leaned up a little, kissing Victor's cheek chastely before whispering in his ear; 'Take me inside.'

Once Victor had Eros inside, any doubts he may have had were abandoned entirely. Eros walked into the centre of the room, just at the foot of the bed as Victor flicked a switch for the bedside lamp. He turned to face Victor, keeping eye contact as he slowly lifted a wrist, carefully undoing the watch he had placed there. Victor let his own suit jacket fall to the floor, frantically undoing the buttons of his shirt as Eros walked over to place his watch on the bedside table.

When Victor had his shirt off, Eros froze where he was by the bed, hands paused in untucking his shirt. His mouth was open, lips pink and swollen from the assault Victor had made on them. Victor chuckled, kicking his shoes off as he made his way over. Victor was by no means modest- he knew how he looked. He'd hazard a fair guess that he was a far stretch from Eros' regular clientele.

(Chris excluded, of course).

'Vic-tor,' Eros breathed as Victor finally got to touch him again, running his hands over Eros' neck. Eros traced a hand down Victor's chest, almost like he was afraid to do so. Like he wasn't allowed. Victor saw the man he had seen briefly at their first drink again and it lit the arousal in him all over.

Eros barely had a chance to catch his breath before Victor pushed him backwards onto the bed. His brown eyes were wide with surprise, his lip just slipping beneath his teeth to call Victor's name, but Victor beat him to it. Victor kissed Eros passionately, fingers frantic to undo the buttons of the damn silk shirt that had been teasing him all night. Victor threw it behind him, kissing his way down Eros' bare chest, wondering dazedly if Eros was just so young that his chest was this way or if he waxed. Victor huffed a laugh against Eros' pale stomach, mostly at himself.

Who would think about that right now? But Victor couldn't help it. He wanted to know everything.

Once Victor made it to the hem of Eros' trousers, a hand flew into Victor's hair and fingers twisted so much it almost hurt. Eros' voice was low, practically a growl; 'God, please.'

Like he had to ask.

Victor undid the zipper quickly, already knowing this was all likely to be far too fast anyway just from the way Eros was pleading beneath him, murmers of please and quickly. He pulled Eros' trousers off, shoes and socks coming with them. Victor lost his breath at the sight; Eros spread open across his bed, all flushed skin and a hard cock curving up to his stomach. Victor licked his lips at the sight of it, moving to pull his own trousers off.

Eros' pretty blush went down his neck and across his chest, spilling pink. His dark eyes watched Victor from the bed and when Victor climbed on top of him, they slid closed and his mouth opened in a silent oh. Victor groaned as his cock rubbed up against Eros', falling into the space between it and Eros' thigh. Victor bucked into the heat before he could stop himself and Eros' back arched up to meet him, like he couldn't bear to be any further away.

Victor ran his hands down Eros' sides, feeling the ridges of his ribs beneath the skin. He should eat more, Victor thought randomly. Victor would bring him somewhere, buy Eros the whole restaurant if he wanted it.

Eros whined, hands back in Victor's hair as he kissed him, tongue heavy and wet. Victor groaned into it, gripping at Eros and rutting forward, eliciting another keening noise from deep down in Eros' throat. It was the single hottest thing Victor had ever heard.

'Condom,' Eros breathed as he pulled away, hands running down Victor's back, pressing in deep as far down as he could reach. Victor tried to contain his groan of frustration at the reminder.

'Where?' Victor said as he kissed down Eros' neck, still grinding forward and loving the wet feeling of Eros' cock against his own stomach.

'P-pants. Pocket. Lube, too. God,' Eros gritted out between his teeth as Victor kissed his way back down Eros' flaming chest. As Victor pulled away, he couldn't look away from the glistening tip of Eros' erection, foreskin pulled back and head almost purple in the dark of the hotel room. Victor couldn't resist, taking a dangerous chance by leaning forward and licking the small bead of precum at the tip.

Eros yelped, hands twisting into the sheets. 'Onegai, Victor~'

Victor hadn't the faintest idea what that meant, couldn't even think to identify what language it was, but he wanted to hear it again.

It pained Victor to leave Eros on the bed like that, but the pressure was mounting, Victor's own dick aching in a way that could almost be described as painful at this point. He scrambled to find the condoms and the small pouch of lube Eros had been carrying before stopping, running a questioning hand over Eros' leg where it was still bent over the edge of the bed.

'How-?'

Eros was sitting up instantly, interrupting Victor with a bruising kiss. He pulled back just enough to whisper the words Victor had been dying to hear; 'Fuck me.'

Victor gripped the condoms and lube tightly, almost bursting them. Then he was tearing a condom open with his teeth and throwing the other and lube up onto the bed. Eros watched him the entire time, sliding up the bed and then lying down onto his back again. He was panting now and hands lost in the sheets. Every inch of him was begging for it, as far as Victor was concerned. And Victor was hardly going to deny him anything.

Victor slid the condom on before climbing back on top of Eros, the heat blistering between them. Victor pushed his hand across Eros' stomach, stroking his cock once, twice- before taking the lube into his hands. Victor used half to slick his fingers up before slipping his hand down between Eros' legs while Eros moaned sinfully through the whole thing, desperately reaching out for his own condom.

When the first finger slipped in with no resistance at all, Victor's mouth opened in shock in at realisation.

'Did you-?'

'I may have had- ah, expectations,' Eros said as he stroked his own cock, hand slipping with the lubrication of the condom. 'Please, don't stop.'

Victor could have a gun to his head and he wouldn't stop.

Two fingers slipped in with the same give and Eros moaned deeply at the intrusion, the sound going straight to Victor's cock, where it twitched in response. Eros writhed above him, words slipping out but Victor could barely register them as he added a third finger, muscle tightening at it. Victor massaged gently, probing a little deeper as Eros pushed down greedily. Eros cried out as Victor found what he was looking for, both hands coming up to grip Victor's shoulders painfully.

'Now,' Eros demanded and Victor agreed.

But before Victor could do anything, Eros had them flipped over with surprising strength. Victor actually gasped as his back hit the bed, no time to register what had happened before Eros was sitting on Victor's lap and all thought left his mind entirely except for the weight of it.

Eros took Victor's cock in hand and Victor threw his head back, eyes closed, as Eros began to sink down, inch by burning inch. Victor's hands flew to Eros' hips, gripping tightly as his cock slid in smoothly.

'You're so good, so good for me, pryanichek,' Victor whimpered as Eros sat himself down, tight and so hot despite all the ministrations. Victor opened his eyes to look at him, groaning once he did.

Eros had his head thrown back, mouth open in a silent whine. He seemed frozen there, for just a moment, but then his hips started to roll and Victor couldn't look anymore, lost to the sheer pleasure of it. Eros lifted off his knees slightly only to come back down, faster and faster each time and if Victor had thought it would be short before, it was nothing compared to now when he could already feel the telltale twist in his gut as Eros grinded down, all wet heat and quivering contractions.

Victor began to snap his hips up, desperate to reach release but simultaneously wishing for it to never end. Eros was moving in perfect time, leaning back a bit now and his hands pressed down on Victor's chest for leverage. Victor watched him through lidded eyes, panting heavily and groaning when Eros bent back just a little far and Victor could feel the extra stretch himself. God, he looked beautiful.

'Victor, Victor,' Eros moaned, a hand reaching up to stroke himself.

Victor couldn't look away, thrusts upwards turning frantic. Eros bounced on top of him, meeting each drive of Victor's hips with a lewd slap . Eros canted his hips forward, twisting just a little and Victor cried out, louder than he ever had as his vision went white. Victor could just about register Eros' own orgasm, digging his trim nails into Eros' thighs as the man shook above him through the afterwave. Then, Eros collapsed on Victor's chest, sweaty and trembling.

Victor panted for a while, trying to catch his breath but finding himself unable to. He pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the top of Eros' head from where it lay on his chest. Victor wrapped his arms around Eros' small body, breath turning shaky at the embrace. Victor wondered how long he could keep him there before hypersensitivity forced them apart.

'All good, miliy?' Victor managed to get out eventually, catching himself too late. He was glad Eros couldn't understand the pet name that slipped out. Victor hadn't meant to do that. Eros didn't seem to notice, making a happy noise. Or at least, what Victor hoped was a happy noise.

'You're everything I hoped for,' Eros said, leaning up and kissing Victor briefly on the lips before he extricated himself, both of them groaning at the movement.

It wasn't until Eros had left for the bathroom that Victor realised what he had said. Victor felt himself grinning. He ran a hand through his sweat-ruined fringe, laughing quietly to himself.

The feeling was more than mutual.

 


 

Yuuri's watch started beeping quietly from the bedside table. His stomach dropped in disappointment. The whole evening had flown, every minute with Victor flying past like a second from a dream. Yuuri reached over the bed and took the watch. With a heavy heart, Yuuri slipped out of Victor's drowsy grip. They had been lying in the bed, tangled together and comfortably silent in the afterglow.

Yuuri sat up, stretching his arms up over his head as Victor roused behind him. When Yuuri looked at him over his shoulder, Victor was on his side, head resting in one hand. He was watching Yuuri with such open fondness that Yuuri's chest hurt with the want for it. He tried to remind himself. Most clients were like this the first time, unable to separate what had happened with the reality of what led to it. The fondness rarely stayed that unguarded.

And he knew for a fact now that he was Victor's first escort. Victor didn't know the game yet.

(Hopefully he'd never learn it too well).

'Leaving so soon, miliy?' Victor asked, tone obviously flirting as Yuuri gathered his clothes up from the hotel room floor.

Yuuri didn't know the pet name remotely, assuming it to be Russian. Anytime Victor spoke Russian it made Yuuri's heart swell like it might burst. A constant reminder throughout the evening that yes, Yuuri was fucking Victor Nikiforov. Yuuri didn't know it was possible to make an m sound rough like that. Yuuri smiled at Victor as he fastened the top button of his slacks.

'The night's still young,' Yuuri replied coyly, slipping his shirt back on. He watched Victor as he started the buttons, top down. He watched as Victor rolled across the bed. Half-covered by the blanket, Victor reached out to hold Yuuri's hips. He leaned up, kissing Yuuri lightly across the stomach between the open shirt.

'Mmm, exactly why you should stay a bit longer,' Victor said, voice deep like a well. Yuuri was glad the room was dark, so Victor wouldn't see the blush he got from listening to Victor Nikiforov say something so inviting. If his sixteen year old self could see him now.

Yuuri forlornly thought of the watch on his wrist. As wonderful as the evening had been, and it was wonderful, Yuuri had to be strict. Hopefully Victor had just as good a time. Yuuri abandoned the buttons, running his hand through Victor's hair, adoring the hum of approval he got for it. Perhaps a little too much.

'I had a really great time,' Yuuri said, bending down to his knees so he'd be on Victor's level. Yuuri took advantage, stealing one more kiss.

He kissed Victor slowly and deep, slipping his tongue in Victor's mouth and keeping the movement sensual and heady. But Yuuri's heart was still pounding in his chest from it, electrical current all the way down to Yuuri's stomach where it flipped pleasantly. Images of the evening flashed before him, burning and erotic. Yuuri was sure he could keep going all night if Victor wanted him to.

'That sounds suspiciously like a goodbye,' Victor said huskily as Yuuri released him, standing up and finishing buttoning the shirt. Yuuri bent down to kiss Victor on top of his head; a stupid thing to do really but Yuuri found he just couldn't help himself.

'Sorry to disappoint you,' Yuuri said and he meant it.

Yuuri took one more liberty, one more thing before he had to leave Victor Nikiforov and their night together. Yuuri ran his hand along Victor's cheek, across his jaw. He touched Victor's lips with his thumb, admiration for the man so huge that it took Yuuri's breath away for just a second.

'See you, Victor,' Yuuri said, hoping it was true, as he turned and left the hotel room.

The door snapped shut finally behind him.

Yuuri smiled all the way down the hall and once he was alone in the lift, Yuuri allowed himself to bathe in excitement. Yuuri leant against the bar, joy explosive inside him and it bubbled up and over, Yuuri grinning to himself and covering his own mouth to stop from laughing like a crazy person.

Victor Nikiforov. The Victor Nikiforov. Yuuri had just had sex with Victor fucking Nikiforov. And it was fantastic. Got paid three thousand dollars for the privilege as well.

Yuuri jumped a little in the lift, feeling the small space bounce slightly at the movement. He flinched a little, pain twinging from his ass up his lower back. He'd been a bit careless, impatience getting the better of him. But Yuuri found that he loved it. Loved the physical reminder. Yuuri made a small high pitched noise, trying to contain the glee and failing.

'I love my job,' Yuuri said to himself, watching the numbers on the lift go down and down.

Money was a good incentive. But some perks were definitely better than others.

 


 

Victor landed his quad with a flourish, free leg coming down into a seamless counter as Victor's body spun across the ice. He was sweating from the effort of going through On Love: Eros again, for the third time. But Victor couldn't help it. Inspiration was alive in him and Victor wanted to recreate everything that had given it to him. It all seemed so clear now that Victor had been telling the wrong end of the story.

'I'd like to say I get bored of being right, but I'd be lying,' called a voice across the rink. Victor spun in place, catching Chris stepping out onto the ice.

It was so early, Victor thought no one would be here yet. Practice didn't officially start until nine. But here Chris was, kitted out in his practice gear and stretching his arms out as he skated up to meet Victor with the smuggest look Victor had ever seen him sport. And that was saying something.

'You don't have to look quite so pleased with yourself,' Victor said, kicking his toe pick into the ice to shake off build up. Chris skidded to a halt in front of him, still looking unbearably pleased with himself. Victor couldn't find it in him to be mad though. Luckily for Chris, the gratitude Victor felt for the night before was still great.

'Mon chéri, you're practically glowing,' Chris remarked, crossing his arms and grinning. Victor tossed his fringe, resolutely not self-conscious at all. Chris' smile turned a little, just hitching up a bit to the right and he raised one eyebrow. 'I assume everything went as well as I expected.'

'Depends,' Victor smirked, skate clipping as he tapped it back down to the ice. 'What were you expecting?'

Chris laughed, throwing his head back a little. When he caught Victor's gaze again, he was all burning enthusiasm. He leaned a little forward, hands coming down to his hips.

'Tell me everything,' he said, hazel eyes shining. 'What did you think of Eros?'

Victor bit his lip as memories of the night before drifted through his mind's eyes. Eros' long arms, his trim waist and curved thighs. His warm, molten brown eyes. Chris must've caught the flush Victor no doubt was sporting, as his smile grew wider the longer Victor was taking to answer.

'Je le savais!' Chris exclaimed, laughing again.

Victor was tempted to dismiss him, but excitement won out in the end. He wanted so desperately to tell someone about Eros, about how he moved and the way he spoke. Though he supposed, Chris would know most of it already. Victor's own coach, Yakov, had been very strict at breakfast that he didn't want to know anything about what Victor got up to outside of practice when Victor had tried to bring up that he'd found inspiration. The intensity of everything was boiling over.

'D'accord, you win!' Victor said, hands clenching into fists as he started smiling. 'You were right. He was perfect. Absolument parfait. I've been skating since half seven, and all I can think about is him. The way he moved, Chris!'

Chris was nodding along to everything Victor was saying, smiling fondly and standing straight in his skates as Victor twirled in his with emotion as he retold the story of how Eros had brought him dancing, how he was convinced Eros had to have some training as a dancer.

'Is Eros his real name?' Victor asked, the thought suddenly occuring to him and then he mentally kicked himself. Of course Eros wasn't a real name. Victor continued before Chris could reply; 'Do you think he'd tell me his real name?'

Chris raised his eyebrows; 'Don't get ahead of yourself, Victor. I've been sleeping with the man for four years and I can't even tell you for certain how old he is.'

Victor waved a hand, ignoring that.

'I have to see him again', Victor said, holding his own chin in thought. 'It's good I have you here, actually. I need to get his number from you.'

'You're thinking of booking again?' Chris asked, sounding genuinely surprised. Victor's smiled faltered for the first time.

'Of course,' he said. 'Why wouldn't I?'

'I just didn't think you'd have it in you, to be honest,' Chris said, lisp a little more prevalent as he lowered his voice, almost like he was admitting something. 'Are you sure?'

'Never been more certain of something,' Victor said with conviction he truly felt. Chris scratched at his own stubble, watching Victor carefully.

'I don't want you to take this the wrong way, Victor,' Chris said slowly and Victor frowned in confusion. Chris sighed, swinging his arms aimlessly around him. Chris met his eye, gaze discerning. 'But you've always been a romantic. I don't want you to get involved with something you can't handle.'

Victor blinked, offended. He scoffed; 'I'm twenty-seven years old, Chris. I'm not some hopeless teenager. I know what I'm doing.'

'I'm not sure you do.'

'It was you who suggested this in the first place,' Victor retorted, tone a little sharp as he grew defensive. Chris sighed again, shaking his head a little.

'I know. But-'

'Chris, in all likelihood, this will be my last season. I need all the help I can get to stop from getting completely bored with it all together,' Victor said, knowing it was manipulative to hold his skating career hostage when he knew how much he inspired Chris, but Victor needed this. He needed to see Eros again. 'There's nothing wrong with indulging a little.'

'Hmm.' Chris rubbed at his neck awkwardly, mulling it over. Victor canted his hips, skates whispering across the ice as he moved. 'I'll give you his website. The number is there, and his rates, too.'

Victor grinned, leaning forward to kiss Chris on the cheek with flourish before pushing off into momentum.

'You're too good, my friend!' Victor called back as he skated towards the exit, Chris huffing behind him.

The thought of seeing Eros again made Victor's heart rabbit in his chest. Victor would have to get him to dance again, wanted to see if he could surprise Eros the way he always tried to surprise his audience. Victor wanted Eros to blush as prettily as he did when they first met, wanted Eros to lose his accent with how good Victor could be to him.

Victor wanted all of it.

 

 

Chapter Text

'Yuuri!'

Yuuri groaned into his sleeping bag, head throbbing a little from the bright winter light that was pouring in the window. Should've packed the curtains last. He blinked blearily as somone sat down on the bed, mattress bouncing. Yuuri groaned unhappily, rubbing his eyes roughly.

'Phichit?' he asked, confused and reaching over for his glasses, slipping them on to find Phichit was indeed sitting on his bed. Yuuri suddenly felt far more awake, sitting up straight. 'What time is it? What are you doing here?!'

'It's about half-eight,' Phichit answered brightly, smiling and looking far too happy for the early hour. Yuuri frowned at him.

'You should be at the rink! The short-program is tomorrow,' he said sternly, but Phichit only grinned at him, undeterred.

'We're moving today, I couldn't abandon you!' Phichit said, rummaging in his jersey pocket for his phone, no doubt. Phichit gave Yuuri a side glance. 'Unlike some people, I would never ditch my friends.'

'I already said I was sorry,' Yuuri grumbled, kicking Phichit off his bed through the sleeping bag. 'Also I hired a truck. You don't even have to be here. What will Celestino say?'

'Of course I do, I can't trust some stranger with my babies! Besides, Ciao-Ciao said I could,' Phichit said, scrolling through his phone as he tossed his head in the direction of his hamsters, their cage on the desk being the one thing not packed up in a box. Yuuri stumbled out of the sleeping bag, shirtless and cold in the morning chill. Yuuri stretched just as he heard Phichit's phone go off. Yuuri tried to cover himself, but too late.

'Attractive,' Phichit said, grinning. Yuuri wished he hadn't packed the pillows so he'd have something to throw at him. Yuuri squealed in protest as Phichit kept typing on his phone.

'Are- are you uploading that? Don't upload that!' Yuuri stuttered, waving his hands but Phichit ignored him, putting his phone back into his pocket and sticking his tongue out at Yuuri.

The morning went by quickly. Yuuri showered before throwing on an old Wayne State hoodie and sweats, listening to Phichit excitedly tell him all the latest gossip from Instagram and Twitter in regards to Skate America, which was starting tomorrow as Yuuri sat on the bed to tie his laces. But all Yuuri could think about was the night before. He thought about the cerulean of Victor's eyes, and how up close Victor's top lip was slightly bowed. Yuuri wanted to tell Phichit so desperately, wanted to confess that instead of grabbing a pizza with his flatmate he was on the most wonderful date of his life with Victor Nikiforov.

(Alright, maybe not a date, exactly. But there was dancing and there was sex. And Victor hadn't strictly paid himself. So it definitely counted as a something in Yuuri's mind).

Yuuri couldn't wrap his head around what had happened. It was like a dream. Victor was everything Yuuri had ever expected when he used to fantasise of meeting him, yet he also had nothing in common with the distant god Yuuri had built up inside his head.

Victor in person, as it turned out, was infinitely more impulsive than his rigorously trained programs would suggest and far more pliable than Yuuri had ever imagined someone as untouchable as Victor appeared to be.

And of course he was good in bed, surprising no one. He had been all hard muscle, lithe and so very warm. Yuuri was still a bit sore, shifting on the bed every now and then to try and alleviate the ache as Phichit spoke.

There was something about the pain that made Yuuri bite his lip as it would move through, traveling up his back like someone's fingers would. Something pleasing, suggestive. Illicit. The secret Yuuri carried; that the great Victor Nikiforov, who didn't even recognise Yuuri mere hours after Yuuri had skated before him all those years ago, had fucked him, Katsuki Yuuri, so enthusiastically the night before that Yuuri could still trace the imprints of Victor's short nails on his thighs.

'You okay?' Phichit asked, slipping his red parka on. Yuuri found he was smiling to himself, a little too brightly. Yuuri trained his face to a more neutral smile, with difficulty.

'All good. Just excited to be moving,' Yuuri replied but Phichit eyed him sceptically.

The movers arrived on time and true to his word, Phichit carried the hamsters down himself, opting to take them in the taxi with himself and Yuuri.

'Wow,' Phichit said as they entered their new apartment, his voice echoing off the freshly painted walls. 'This place is huge.'

'You've seen the photos,' Yuuri said, following Phichit in after signing the receipt for the movers.

'Yeah, but still!'

Phichit walked down the hallway of the L-shaped apartment, past the two bedrooms and bathroom and around the corner into the open plan kitchen and living area, where all their boxes sat in large piles. He turned in place, taking in the large windows and hamsters squeaking erratically in his hands from their cage. Yuuri smiled at him, pleased at how happy he looked. Yuuri had really hoped Phicit would like it.

'So what's the catch?' Phichit asked, putting the hamsters down on the coffee table. Yuuri put his lips together.

'What do you mean?'

'C'mon, Yuuri. This place is too nice for us to afford. It's got to be. Someone probably died in it,' Phichit said, eyeing the kitchen as if a body might fall out of the fridge.

Yuuri shifted uncomfortably, biting his lip and tugging at the drawstrings of his hood.

It was inevitable real, Yuuri knew that. He had hoped to put it off a little longer. And he was planning to tell Phichit the truth, he really was. Eventually. After all, they were living together now. Properly, not just in a dorm-room at college, but they'd signed a lease together in a big, adult apartment like two proper grown-ups. They were building a life now. Yuuri couldn't keep lying to him, it wouldn't be fair. Yuuri didn't want to keep lying to him.

It was like after all the years of continuous little lies, each one had become like a brick in a wall. Yuuri was beginning to feel like he was a satellite in Phichit's life. It was beginning to hurt.

It was more than just telling Phichit about last night, which Yuuri was dying to do. That was just one last nail in the coffin of this decision that Yuuri had been dancing around for weeks now. It was putting a wedge between them, one that couldn't sustain itself now they had taken this big step in staying in each other's lives. They had graduated now. There were no more classes to keep Phichit distracted when the skating season was over.

It was bound to drive them apart if the lying continued and Yuuri didn't want to accept the inevitable loss of his friend by not taking the risk he'd stay if Yuuri told him the truth.

Phichit was watching him carefully now, look of disbelief moulding into one of confusion; 'Yuuri, are you alright? You look a bit pale.'

'Uh- I'm fine!' Yuuri stammered, holding his hands palm up towards Phichit, sounding anything but fine even to himself.

Yuuri was hoping to put it off until after Skate America; that would only be fair. Yuuri knew all too well how bad news before a competition could ruin someone's chances. And this would definitely be taken as bad news.

'Yuuri, tell me what's up,' Phichit said, pulling his baseball cap off and fidgeting with it.

'It's nothing, really. Just thinking about what you said,' Yuuri said, shrugging and hoping it came off as nonchalant. Phichit's mouth dropped.

'Oh my god, did someone actually die here?' Phichit looked around the room with wide eyes, like blood might start pouring from the walls.

Yuuri laughed nervously; 'No, no, of course not. It's nothing like that.'

Phichit caught the meaning before Yuuri did, Yuuri closing his eyes in frustration at himself. God, he was hopeless. Could spin a whole life-story about being from Tokyo of all places to a stranger; couldn't hold himself together for five minutes when faced with his best-friend. Yuuri should probably get therapy for that kind of neuro-breakdown.

'Then what is it? Don't try and tell it isn't something. You're doing that jumpy thing you do,' Phichit said sternly, walking up to Yuuri and rubbing his arms. Yuuri looked away, looked anywhere but at Phichit's eyes, charcoal grey in the morning light. Yuuri tried not to panic. But once Phichit got onto something, he was like a dog with a bone.

'How about breakfast?'

'Yuuri.'

'We could go to that place by campus! You love it there.'

'Yuuri.'

Yuuri bit his lip again, nervous habit, as he held his hands up to his chest, trying to appear smaller. This really wasn't the plan. Yuuri wanted to confess, but not before Skate America. What if Phichit took it really badly? What if Yuuri was the reason he messed up? Not that Yuuri thought he was going to mess-up, but- ugh, it was all getting away from him. Yuuri wished Phichit would just stop looking at him for a moment, give Yuuri the chance to catch his breath and figure out how to handle the situation later.

But Phichit wasn't giving up.

'Yuuri, tell me what's wrong. Don't tell me you're having second thoughts,' he said, laughing a little nervously before he stopped, eyes wide. 'Are you?'

'N-no!' Yuuri said, voice higher than it needed to be and definitely giving away his panic. This was all spiralling, he'd backed himself into a corner. Maybe he should just make something up. But that would just be another lie to explain later.

'Then what is it?'

'I- I can't talk about this now,' Yuuri said hurriedly and Phichit's frown grew deeper. He tightened his grip on Yuuri a little.

'Okay, Yuuri. You're scaring me a little, not gonna lie.'

Yuuri swallowed, small whimper of panic escaping him.

'Just leave it, Phichit. We can talk later-'

'We can talk now,' Phichit said stubbornly, letting go of Yuuri to sit on the coffee table next to his hamsters. He looked up at Yuuri expectantly, smiling but his eyes betrayed to Yuuri how nervous he was. Yuuri couldn't blame him. If it was him, he'd be scared of Yuuri's behaviour, too. Yuuri took a deep breath, willing himself to be calm.

Alright. Fine.

He could do this. He was going to do it anyway, right? Phichit was his best friend. They'd shared so much together, lived together for four years. He was the person Yuuri was most close to in the world, having left his sister and family behind in Japan. Yuuri knew Phichit wouldn't be happy. After all, Yuuri had lied for quite a long time. But he was sure Phichit would understand, or at the very least he cared about Yuuri enough to try to. Yuuri could feel his heart speed up, fear flooding through him.

Deep breath. One, two, three-

'About the apartment,' Yuuri started, licking his lips nervously but Phichit waited patiently. He let out another shaky breath. 'About the rate you're paying, and how I can afford to take so much on myself. It's- it's kind of a long story. It's important though. I was hoping to tell you after the competition, but...'

'Okay,' Phichit said slowly, tentative smile falling away completely as he focused solely on Yuuri.

'I was- you know, I was going to tell you anyway.'

'Tell me what?' Phichit asked tilting his head and Yuuri squeaked, panic crawling up his throat.

Yuuri sighed, thrusting his hands down to his side and standing up straight. This was fine. All it was, was the truth. Yuuri could tell the truth. He made a living lying. Lying was work, so being honest should be easy compared to that. But it was surprisingly more difficult to tell the true story rather than making up a new one.

Okay. Start at the beginning.

'Do you remember Hannah, from freshman year?'

Yuuri wasn't sure how long it took. It felt like he'd be talking for well over an hour, Phichit completely silent the entire time. His face was unreadable, carefully blank after his intitial gasp of surprise once Yuuri used the word 'escort'. It was the only sound he'd made in the entire time that Yuuri told the story, documenting back the last four years. How Hannah had introduced him to her agent. How he and Hannah had fallen out not long later, just after an accident Phichit had had in the rink in sophomore year where Yuuri resented her as he hadn't been there to help, having been out on a booking. How after that Yuuri had taken the initiative to make his own website and vet clients himself, giving him more control over when and where he'd be.

Yuuri kept talking until his throat became dry. The longer he spoke, the darker Phichit's look became until there was nothing left to say at all.

'So,' Phichit said at last, voice very quiet. 'All this time, that's what you've been doing.'

'Y-yeah,' Yuuri said, unsure what else to say.

Phichit wasn't looking at him, instead staring off towards the kitchen. Yuuri shifted from foot to foot, before deciding to sit down on the couch in front of Phichit. He waited for Phichit to say something, anything. The only sound was the rummaging of the hamsters and the stray honk of a car horn outside.

'Say something, please,' Yuuri said after a long silence, unable to stop himself. The silence was driving him mad.

'I'm not sure what there is to say,' Phichit replied, meeting Yuuri's eye for the first time since they had started. He looked angry, which only served to make the nausea in Yuuri's stomach all the worse. 'All these years, you were lying to me. Right to my face. Over and over.'

'I didn't know how to tell you,' Yuuri said truthfully, but it sounded like a weak excuse out loud.

'Right,' was all Phichit said. He stood up, running his hands over his thighs like he wasn't sure what to do with them. He looked at his hamsters, back to Yuuri and then away again. 'Sorry, I just- I have no idea what to do right now.'

'You don't have to do anything!' Yuuri said, perhaps a little desperately as he looked up at Phichit. 'I just didn't want to lie to you anymore.'

'Right,' Phichit said again, running a hand through his dark hair. It was awful. Yuuri wanted the floor to swallow him, regret pooling fast in him. He felt the corner of his eyes prickle, treacherous tears beginning to form.

'Is it even legal?' Phichit asked, sounding a bit manic. Yuuri blinked and the tears fell before he could stop them.

'Not- exactly,' he said quietly. Phichit made an aborted noise, turning in place and holding his face in his hands.

'Oh my god,' Phichit groaned, sounding very mad now. Yuuri was expecting it, but it didn't make it hurt any less. 'I can't believe... God, do I even know you at all?!'

'Of course you do!' Yuuri replied wetly, sounding suspiciously like a sob.

'This massive thing about you and I had no idea,' Phichit said, ignoring Yuuri. It felt like being punched. He looked at Yuuri furiously. 'So you never worked for that company? Are they even real?'

'Sort of,' Yuuri murmured, unwilling to admit to anything else but knowing he'd have to. 'In that I created it. So there was somewhere for the money to go.'

Phichit's eyes looked wild in shock, his mouth opening and closing for a moment before he stammered out a response; 'You what?!'

Yuuri flinched at the tone, glasses slipping down his nose. Phichit made another noise of frustration, walking around the coffee table to put space between them. Phichit waved his hands madly, face still screwed in anger.

'What are you even doing? Is it safe? How do you know you aren't walking into some murder house! You could've been killed a thousand times over!'

'I have checks-' Yuuri started, but Phichit didn't let him finish.

'Yuuri, what if you get caught? What does that mean?' Phichit asked frantically. 'Do you go to prison?'

'That won't happen,' Yuuri said, trying to keep his voice from wavering and failing miserably. Phichit scoffed cruelly.

'You're unbelievable,' he said. Phichit looked around the apartment, at the unopened boxes and bare walls. He motioned to it with his hands. 'So like, is that why we got the bigger place? Somewhere for you to work?'

'I'd never bring a client here!' Yuuri replied, shocked.

'Client? What the f- do you even hear yourself?' Phichit cried before turning away from Yuuri again to mutter something furiously in Thai. Yuuri only caught snippets, none of it good. His throat hurt at the mention of 'whore'. Phichit took a few steadying breaths, silence for the moment.

'I just can't believe it,' Phichit said quietly, looking out at the kitchen, hands on his hips. He looked defeated. Yuuri sniffed, tears falling fast now. 'I mean, you're you. You couldn't even speak to that guy at Starbucks who asked for your number!'

'That's different-'

'Why? Because he wasn't paying?' Phichit said meanly and Yuuri felt a sharp stab of hurt at the comment. He didn't know what to say to that, so he said nothing. Phichit looked at him at last, looking a little bit sorry under all the anger. 'I'm sorry I didn't- I don't know. I just have no idea what to do with this.'

'I understand,' Yuuri said and he did. This was exactly why Yuuri had never told anyone. If this was how Phichit responded, then it only showed that Yuuri was right in thinking that if his family, God forbid, ever found out, Yuuri would surely die from it.

'Is this why you quit skating?' Phichit asked and Yuuri was genuinely surprised by the question.

'No,' Yuuri said, because it was true. Sort of. Yuuri couldn't deny that the ease and wealth of escorting held an obvious appeal compared to the hard work and sparse winnings of skating.

'Why though? You've got your degree, you could do anything. You still skate!' Phichit said. 'Why this?'

'Would you believe me if I said I enjoyed it?' Yuuri asked, rubbing his tears away with the sleeve of his hoodie, unable to meet Phichit's gaze.

'As much as you enjoy skating?' Phichit asked and Yuuri paused before answering.

'Not exactly. It's just- it's different,' Yuuri answered lamely, not sure how to explain it, twisting the ends of his sleeves over his fingers.

'All these years, I just thought you were working stuff out. You keep training with me and Celestino, so I just assumed you'd go back to competing eventually,' Phichit said, seemingly talking more to himself than Yuuri now. Yuuri nodded to show he was listening, afraid to say anything more. Phichit laughed bitterly. 'Shows what I know. This is insane.'

'I'm sorry, Phichit. I really am. But I just- I had to tell you,' Yuuri said, meaning every word and finally making himself look at Phichit again. Phichit's dark eyebrows were furrowed, mouth bent in an ugly way. Yuuri swallowed thickly.

They stayed like that for a while, silent and stewing. Yuuri wasn't sure how long they were quiet for, the light changing in the apartment as the morning grew late. The hamsters squeaked, making up for conversation. Yuuri sniffed again, hoping the tears would stop soon. He was sure his face was red, too.

'I'm going to the rink,' Phichit said finally. Yuuri lost his breath a little.

'Do you want me to come with you?'

'No,' Phichit said firmly as he put his hat back on, heading towards the hall and passing the couch quickly. Yuuri stood up, not sure whether he should follow Phichit or not.

'I'll see you later, then?' he called out. Phichit didn't answer, disappearing around the corner. Yuuri heard the door open and slam close from down the hall.

Once Phichit was gone, Yuuri felt like he had nothing left in him to hold himself up. He collapsed down onto the couch, crying earnestly now.

He wished he could've said nothing. Wished he hadn't wanted to be so damn noble. He should've kept lying. Yuuri felt disgusted with himself. Revolted by how angry he had made Phichit, at how he'd made Phichit feel like they were complete strangers to each other. Yuuri curled into a ball, hugging his knees to his chest. The latent anxiety was washing over him now, scenario after scenario running through his head where Phichit didn't come back, where Phichit outed Yuuri to his family. Yuuri knew Phichit would never do that, but the fear was there anyway. Eating at him.

Yuuri's phone, (personal), beeped from his pocket. He ignored it for a while, before it beeped again. Giving in, Yuuri wiped at his snotty face before taking it out. He looked at the message alerts, (texts from back home), ignoring them to focus on the lock screen image.

It was a picture stolen from Victor's Instagram, by Phichit. Almost candid, (but likely not), it was an older one of when Victor's hair was still long, down past his shoulders. He had his toned arms around a big, fluffy poodle. Makkachin, Yuuri knew as the dog's name. Yuuri could remember the way those arms looked from the night before so vividly, the joy the memory had given him that morning dulled down to a parody almost.

The greatest night of Yuuri's life right before the worst day.

Yuuri remembered their evening, all four glorious hours. It came to him in slow, heady waves. Dancing with Victor, the way Yuuri had always dreamed of doing so on the ice. The feeling of weightlessness he had when Victor had lifted him, the heat of Victor's body and the ghosts of his fingertips. The memory of Victor inside of him, hard and wanting, teeth bared. Yuuri closed the phone and threw it across the couch.

That all seemed so far away now. Yuuri hung his head in hands, feeling sick and miserable.

He thought of Phichit, wished that Phichit would forgive him. Yuuri didn't know what he'd do if Phichit didn't.

The door suddenly opened again and Yuuri sat up straight, confused. Phichit came back into the living area, still quite worked up but Yuuri was filled with such relief to see him that it didn't matter. Yuuri watched Phichit, kneeling and leaning up against the back of the couch as Phichit turned in quick, frantic circles. Yuuri held his breath, trying not too hope too much.

'Alright,' Phichit said finally, voice squeaking a little. He waved his hand in Yuuri's direction but didn't look at him, eyes downcast to the floor and cheeks a little red. 'You didn't tell me. I get why. I mean, alright- yeah, okay. Makes sense.'

Yuuri just listened as Phichit babbled, cautious of the hope that was starting to brew in him. Phichit put his hands on his hips, clearly unsure what to do with them. Then he looked at Yuuri head on, eyes like a storm and mouth pouting.

'I'm glad you told me,' Phichit said, looking determined. 'We're friends. Like, we are still friends aren't we?'

'Of course!' Yuuri replied immediately.

'Right. Good. Then that's it,' Phichit said before he pointed at Yuuri like someone might if they were scolding a child. 'No more lying. I don't care how weird or illegal it is, you don't lie to me anymore about what you're doing. It still doesn't sound safe to me. You need backup. If this is what you really want to do, then- yeah, I'll be here. I'm your backup.'

Yuuri was stunned to silence and there were more tears. All the pressure was leaking out of him now, latent fear and gushing relief flooding through like a broken dam. The hamsters rattled in their cage as Phichit began to look a bit awkward, shifting from foot to foot. He then gave Yuuri another glare, pointing again with flourish.

'So there!' he said dramatically. Phichit then turned, looking ready to leave again. 'Now I'm going to the rink. And you-' He pointed again. '-are not going to freak out about it. I'll be fine, I just need the day or something.'

Yuuri realised he was nodding silently a little too late and he replied hurriedly to catch up; 'Okay. Sure!'

'Good,' Phichit said, making to leave proper this time.

'Phichit!' Yuuri called, throat hoarse from the crying. Phichit paused before vanishing down the hall, looking at Yuuri over his shoulder. Yuuri tried to smile, but the emotion was too huge, face contorting as another sob stumbled out of him; 'Thank you.'

Something softened a bit on Phichit's face, but he only nodded in reply before leaving again. This time the door didn't slam. Yuuri sank back onto his legs, heart racing and still feeling a bit sick with the intensity of it all. But something had uncoiled itself in his chest. He felt lighter, lighter than he had in months.

Yuuri let himself smile, just a little, before lying back down on the couch. He flinched as his ass twinged again, adjusting himself as Yuuri stared up at the ceiling. He knew it wasn't all okay, not really. They'd probably still have to talk about it a bit more. Phichit would have questions and Yuuri would answer them. Explain the laws better, explain his system so Phichit wouldn't worry about Yuuri's safety or money.

Yuuri had been so sure going into the conversation that Phichit would put their friendship above any reservations he'd have, but Yuuri had no idea how afraid he was that Phichit wouldn't do that until it was happening. Yuuri let himself cry a little longer, tears hot and fast. He was still reeling from the shock of it all, stomach churning and headache beginning to form.

But it was worth it. If Phichit was willing to try then Yuuri would do anything to make it easier for him.

 


 

'So, what do you know about him?' Victor asked, opening the message Chris had sent him as it arrived, practice finishing earlier for them both at about ten.

'Eros?' Chris replied distractedly as he started unlacing his skates, body bent over elegantly on the bench in the competition rink's changing rooms. 'Not that much, to be honest. It's the nature of these things, you know.'

Victor did not know.

'But you must know some things!' Victor exclaimed, sitting down next to Chris as he tapped through the link to Eros' website.

Victor was struck by how, well, classy it looked because Victor would be lying if he thought he hadn't been expecting something a little different from a prostitutes website. The colour red, particularly was one of those expectations. But the website was all black and white with a sleek, modern font.

There were some photos, too but none of Eros' face. Not that Victor needed that, as he'd seen enough of Eros and the memories of the night before so new that Victor recalled Eros rather intimately. The gallery was a selection of discreet and illicit; naked chest and bare arms, Eros' now familiar body pressed up against the frame of a large window, hidden behind chiffon curtains. It looked professionally done. Victor wondered idly where one would go to get photos taken for their escorting website.

Maybe he'd ask Eros about it himself.

'I really don't know him that well,' Chris continued, Victor taking a moment to remember what they were talking about as he tore his eyes from his phone. Chris was frowning at the knot in the laces of his left skate. Victor tsked, his reply coming out a little darker than intended.

'That's all you have to say? You've been sleeping with him for four years.'

If Victor sounded jealous, (which he wasn't), then Chris said nothing, only pausing in his untying for a moment at Victor's tone. Instead, he answered blithely; 'We weren't dating, Victor.'

'I know that.'

'And what you'd be doing wouldn't be dating either.'

'I know!' Victor sighed, frustrated at Chris treating him like he was some idiot. Victor knew he was paying to see Eros for the time, he understood that. Victor also intended to have sex with Eros again during that time, preferably a few more times if he was being honest. But Victor couldn't just sleep with him and not want to know anything else.

Despite Victor's lucrative reputation for doing just that, he wasn't really a casual sex-having person.

(Present company excluded, that is. And even then, Chris was his friend).

Chris chuckled a little at Victor's stubborness and Victor pouted at him, undaunted; 'I'm just curious.'

'You say like that's any less dangerous coming from you,' Chris said as he finally pulled his skates off. 'Well, Eros is from Tokyo originally. I'm not sure how long he's lived in the US. He likes champagne and those Mikado biscuits. You know the ones? Like sticks. Never drinks beer, or he never did with me and he said he didn't like it. Not a fan of Italian food. Oh, and he studied ballet as a child.'

'I knew it!' Victor interrupted, inordinately pleased with the small, random bits of information Chris had given him. A picture started to form in Victor's mind, the image of Eros sweetly taking a bite of Mikado or stretched out across a ballet barre. Victor was sure Eros still did some form of dance, he had to. 'What else?'

'We didn't exactly share our life stories during our sessions, mon chéri,' Chris said with a small laugh as he pulled his gear bag across the floor for his skates. 'I mean, I guess I did a little. He's so easy to talk to, which you no doubt missed entirely as by the sounds of it you two skipped conversation completely.'

'Something I hope to make up for,' Victor said quickly, blushing a little despite how pleasing the memories of the night before were. Chris laughed at him again.

'You could just ask Eros yourself. I'm sure people ask him all the time in his line of work,' Chris said, before he stopped and looked thoughtful. 'Actually, perhaps not. He said he rarely has bookings for over two hours last time we were together. Only so much you can do in two hours.'

Chris winked at him but what Chris said struck something deep in Victor. Like a discordant note in a song. Out of tune. The thought that right now, at this moment, Eros could very well be with someone else. Could even be waking up in someone else's bed after leaving Victor the night before alone in his.

It felt like being punched in the stomach.

Chris picked up on Victor's sudden silence, eyeing him carefully from his side of the bench; 'Ça va?'

'Mmm,' Victor hummed, eyes back on his phone he scrolled through Eros' photos.

It didn't say explicity what Eros offered anywhere. Under the heading You and I, the closest Eros was offering was 'discreet and delightful experiences'. Nothing to suggest what Victor and Eros had engaged in the night before. Victor tried to tell himself that just because when Eros worked with Victor and Chris he'd slept with them doesn't mean Eros slept with everyone who hired him.

Not that Victor had a problem if Eros did. As that would be insane, as Victor didn't even know Eros and Eros was a prostitute for all intents and purposes and Victor really had no right to be jealous. Which he wasn't.

At all.

'So, still thinking of seeking two hours' inspiration?' Chris said, tone flirty and teasing as he shoved his skates into the gear bag. Victor thumbed his way down Eros' rates and froze. He really shouldn't have let Chris pay for him the night before.

'Fifteen hundred dollars an hour?!' Victor said, shocked as he read Eros' rates per session, which listed options ranging from two hours to overnights. Chris shook his head, grinning.

'Japanese man, but American culture, mon chéri,' Chris replied, standing up after slipping his trainers back on. 'But like I told you, I get a special rate for loyalty.'

Chris winked but Victor didn't smile back, concerned.

'I should reimburse you.'

'I told you it was a gift.'

'You can't give me a person,' Victor said stubbornly though it was evidently untrue given all that happened. Chris raised one eyebrow at Victor before moving to get his coat from the hooks by the changing room exit.

'I think you're failing to grasp the basic concept here, Victor,' Chris teased light heartedly, putting his coat on. He looked at Victor straight, gaze meeting. The hazel of Chris' eyes was warm, like cinnamon. 'Eros is a nice person and he has been in this job a long time. He's good at it, but if you change your mind later he'll understand and return your money.'

'I won't change my mind,' Victor replied, finally putting his phone away to unlace his own skates.

'Thought not. Just be careful,' Chris said before waving goodbye and leaving the changing room.

Victor ignored him, as he was twenty-seven years old and did not need to be told when to be careful by a twenty-five year old Swiss man.

 


 

 

12:34PM  I want to book you. -Victor

12:35PM  I'll have to check my availability. When did you have in mind?

12:35PM  Tonight and tomorrow night. 9PM?

12:37PM  That's a big commitment. Lucky for you, I'm available. 2 hours per evening?

12:37PM  I think 4 should be sufficient. Cadillac bar again?

12:38PM  I'll put it in my diary. Do you need payment details?

12:38PM  Chris has sorted me out. I'll pay in full for both days.

12:38PM  Perfect. Seems Russian efficiency isn't just a stereotype.

12:39PM  Did you do some research on me? I'm flattered.

12:41PM  The accent gave you away.

12:41PM  Silly me. Do you have gym gear? Loose trousers, under-armour?

12:41PM  Yes. Is this a request?

12:42PM  Bring it in a gear bag with you tonight. I look forward to seeing you.

12:42PM  Me too. X

 


 

 

Victor bit his lip to contain his excitement, scrolling through the brief conversation again just to imagine Eros saying the words he had typed. He had his head resting on a hand, elbow on the table. A very small sigh of joy broke through Victor's teeth and Yakov cleared his throat purposefully from across the table in the Westins restaurant. Victor snapped out of his thoughts, looking at Yakov's stern face.

Yakov Feltsman, who had been Victor's coach since he had started skating at 11, was pushing seventy now and looked every day of it. There were deep frown lines on his face and his mouth was always downturned in dissatisfaction. Victor grinned innocently, running a hand through his freshly showered hair, knowing how it always made Yakov grit his teeth. Victor liked to think it was envy, as Yakov's hair was most certainly thinning.

(A fate Victor genuinely feared for himself, not that he'd ever admit it).

'Mne ochen' zhal', chto eto bylo?' Victor chimed, delighting as Yakov rolled his icy eyes to the ceiling before taking a long sip of his coffee.

'Glupyy mal'chik,' Yakov muttered, putting his mug down with a little more force than necessary.

Victor shrugged, sitting back up straight as Yakov launched into a tirade about Victor getting distracted. Which was funny really, as Victor wasn't listening one bit. Instead, his mind wandered to what the evening ahead held in store.

Everything was arranged, the idea coming to Victor just after Chris had left him that morning in the changing room. It took a bit of doing, but Victor had managed it with his usual grace. He was sure he could break through to Eros again, have Eros reveal to Victor what he kept carefully hidden.

Yes, Eros was incredibly talented. Chris' loyalty through the years was proof enough of Eros' ability to entrance his clients. But Victor was going to be different.

Victor was going to surprise Eros, truly and completely. Victor wasn't going to be like any client Eros had had before. He wouldn't let himself be.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

'Stop! Stop!' Celestino cried out, his accent giving the word an a Phichit knew it didn't have.

Phichit sighed, skidding to a halt across the ice. The scratching noise was ugly. Phichit had never thought that before, but everything had been not right today. He leant forward on his knees, trying to catch his breath as he saw Celestino, his coach, moving out of the corner of his eye. (Affectionately called Ciao-Ciao by Phichit and Yuuri in their freshman year due to his native Italian greeting. The nickname had stuck). Wiping a hand across his forehead, Phichit started towards the awning where Celestino was waving him over.

'What's up with you today? It's not like you to be in such poor form,' Celestino said, face strict and green eyes dark with concern. Phichit looked away, kicking his skate into the ice.

'It's nothing. I guess I'm just nervous about the competition tomorrow,' Phichit lied, sounding unhappy even to himself. Shaking his head a bit, Phichit put on the biggest smile he could muster. 'I'm just getting it all out of my system, you know!'

'Hmm.' Celestino pinched his large chin. 'I think we should call it for today. You've done enough. I know you're ready for the short-program tomorrow.'

Phichit was not panicking. Nope, no way. But he didn't want to leave the rink, didn't want to face what was waiting outside of it. His hands balled into fists; 'I can go again!'

'Take a break, Phichit!' Celestino said, sounding amused. 'It's not often I offer one. And you already wanted today off for the move, didn't you?'

'It's done. Yuuri hired a truck,' Phichit mumbled, Yuuri telling him that morning seeming like a memory from a whole other life. Celestino gave Phichit a strange look, curly hair bobbing.

'Then spend the day with Yuuri. You deserve it,' he said, smiling. Phichit felt his stomach turn at the thought.

'He's working,' Phichit said darkly, but he moved to step off the ice anyway.

'Always busy, that boy. Shame, really.'

Busy. Hah. If only Ciao-Ciao knew what Phichit knew now.

Phichit felt miserable, head heavy and nauseous since the morning. Not even skating had worked to lift his mood. He stepped off the ice, slipping the guards onto his skates.

Really, this whole day had been mental. Qualifying for the Grand Prix tomorrow should've been the only thing on Phichit's mind, but it was the last thing he could think about. Yuuri hadn't just blown Phichit's mind- he'd completely demolished Phichit's sense of reality. Katsuki Yuuri was supposed to be Phichit's best-friend and was one of the biggest dorks Phichit knew. Like, a massive dork.

People ask Phichit's Yuuri out and Yuuri malfunctions. And now Yuuri was trying to tell Phichit he was a-

Phichit flinched to himself. He couldn't even think about it. It was insane. More than that- it was straight up, down the rabbit hole, eat all the mushrooms and explode in a puff of smoke crazy.

How was Phichit supposed to carry on, knowing this? Phichit wasn't even sure how he felt about Yuuri telling him. Obviously, Phichit was glad he wasn't being lied to anymore. On the other hand, he had been lied to in the first place. A lot. For a long, long time. Phichit knew why Yuuri hadn't told him, he could see the reasoning. And Phichit liked to think that if Yuuri had been very honest, back when they had just gotten started, maybe Phichit would've been okay with it.

Phichit wasn't sure. But he wished Yuuri had given him the chance.

In the changing room, Phichit scrolled through his phone. He went through old pictures, mostly selfies and a lot of them featuring Yuuri. Including the one they had taken just yesterday in their old dorm-room. God, this was just- there were no words. How could the Yuuri Phichit thought he'd known have kept such a secret? How was Phichit supposed to reconcile these two people?

Yuuri, the loser who actually managed to burn rice of all things once. And Yuuri the escort.

Phichit closed his phone, frustrated. 

Phichit had meant what he had said that morning. He wasn't going to just quit on Yuuri. Though obviously Yuuri had some serious issues, because who in the name of all that is good and tweetable becomes a prostitute for a living when they had so many other options? But Phichit wasn't going to just kick Yuuri to the curb for it. He was Phichit's best-friend, after all. He was just a bit of a shitty one, as it turned out.

Alright. Maybe that wasn't fair.

Moving to untie his laces, Phichit knew that he was probably still being a bit harsh. But jeez, he was so angry. Yuuri had lied so easily, for years. Who's to say he was going to stop? He could lie to Phichit all the time, even now. It was obvious Phichit couldn't tell.

Kicking his skate off awkwardly with a stern shake, Phichit groaned, dropping his head in his hands. This was all just a bit much.

Phichit's phone went off with a text message, interrupting his wallowing. Phichit picked it up again, frowning at the lockscreen.

(1) ข้อความใหม่ - Yuuri (´∀`)

'What are you? Psychic?!' Phichit muttered to his phone, (like Yuuri could possibly hear him). Phichit opened the message and sat back on the bench, one skate still on and the sock of his other foot getting damp from the floor. 

12:12PM Hey! I know you're probably still mad, I don't blame you. I just wanted to tell you that if you wanted I could clear my day today and we can hang out and talk. Only if you want to, of course. No pressure.

Phichit chewed the inside of his cheek, unsure.

A part of him definitely wanted to talk to Yuuri more. He had so many questions, so many things he still didn't understand. However, another part of Phichit was still pretty pissed off. (Try a lot pissed off). Yuuri was obviously nervous. Or at least, it was obvious to Phichit. (How many times had he used the word want? Too many, anyway). But Phichit wasn't sure he was up to talking anymore about it, not after their emotional morning. He needed more time.

Phichit thumbed up and down through their text conversation, thinking, but before Phichit could type a response, another message came through.

12:14PM I am really sorry, Phichit. I just want to say it again.

Loser, Phichit thought, but he was smiling a little. Phichit knew Yuuri was sorry. And Phichit knew he'd already forgiven him, deep down. Under a layer of pissed and another layer of what the fuck. But it was there.

Sighing, Phichit typed out a reply.

12:15PM No, you do your thing. I want to clear my head anyway before tomorrow. 

12:15PM Sure. I understand. Just as long as you're okay.

Phichit decided to be honest. Especially as honesty was definitely going to be a thing going forward for them both. 

12:16PM I wouldn't say okay. I'm like majorly freaking out here, bud. But I'll be good. Just no more lying, like I said. I'm going be really strict on that. What time will you be back at the apartment?

12:17PM I should be back sometime after 1am.

Okay, maybe Phichit was pushing it a little. But Yuuri had lied to him for four years about being a high class prostitute, so he figured he was entitled to do so.

12:17PM You better be back by 1:30.  If you're not, I'm reporting you as a missing person. Or kidnapped. Like 1.31am I'm calling the cops. Got it?

Phichit ran his thumb over the home button, waiting. 

12:17PM You got it. <3

It was really weird and Phichit did not get it at all. And if this was what Yuuri wanted to do, then Phichit would be there. But god dammit, Yuuri was going to have work a little to get Phichit's trust back to where it was. It was only fair. 

Phichit never thought he'd be the kind of guy to issue a curfew. He couldn't even stand up to his hamsters when they demanded more food than they needed. But hey, he never thought his best-friend was a freaking prostitute either.

The regular rules did not apply. Time for new ones.

 


 

Yuuri hopped out of the taxi, thanking the driver as he did.

Giovanni's
was old school Detroit, a bit far from the city centre but close to the competitive rink. Yuuri had been there a handful of times before, with Chris usually and the odd other client. It wasn't a frequent place for an appointment, most clients preferring somewhere a bit more refined or private. Giovanni's was a little more 'family friendly.' And Yuuri wasn't really that keen on Italian food, even the Americanised version. But this wasn't a usual appointment.

Yuuri took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself as a dull wave of nerves washed over him.

His conversation with Phichit was still so fresh in his mind, words rattling around like dry rice in a bowl. Incessant, nagging thought. Yuuri hadn't seen Phichit since he'd left for the rink that morning and after allowing himself an hour or so to dwell in the uncertainty he still felt, Yuuri then forced himself to get ready for his later appointment. But even then, Yuuri couldn't resist texting Phichit, just to touch base with him. Just to check. Phichit had seemed okay-enough, but Yuuri just knew things weren't quite right yet.

Yuuri paused before the restaurant, shaking his head.

Going to work felt- not tainted, but affected somehow now he'd confessed to Phichit. Like now that someone knew exactly what he was doing, Yuuri should feel ashamed. It was a hard feeling to shake off, but Yuuri tried to force it down. He'd done this a thousand, thousand times before. Nothing had changed.

(Yuuri wasn't sure how much he believed that though).

Not that Yuuri had much time to think about it, as not soon after, Yuuri had gotten the text that he hadn't let himself dream he'd get. 

Victor had booked him. Again. For two nights. The thought made Yuuri's heart race, directly contrasting with the numbing thought of misery that remembering Phichit gave him. It made for an interesting emotional cocktail. 

A woman leaving the restaurant held the door open for Yuuri as he walked in and Yuuri nodded in acknowledgement, nerves brewing as he stepped into the warmth. He'd been careful when getting dressed, getting the impression that this date required something a little more casual. He'd gone with black trousers and a white t-shirt, blue knitted cardigan over. Almost like a normal person. Yuuri wasn't sure what was expected of him yet, but he thought it best to avoid outright sexual. Focus more of the the friend part of the BFE.

Yuuri had a strong feeling that this appointment would be very different from last nights'.

Funny, Yuuri thought as he handed his coat to the maître d'. I always avoided skaters and here I am with one, twice in a row. It was probably a little risky, but Yuuri hadn't been in the competitive circles for so long. And coming dead last in what turned out to be his final competition had done wonders for pushing Yuuri off the skating map. Phichit was his only real connection and even then, Yuuri rarely attended the competitions in person, just on the off-chance he'd run into Chris. Not that Yuuri would mind that, exactly, but it wouldn't be fair to put Chris in a position where he had to lie. Yuuri respected him so much.

Across the restaurant, Yuuri spotted him, recognising him instantly. How could he not? He was such a big focus for this season.

'Jean?' Yuuri asked anyway as he approached, making sure to sound friendly and unassuming. And just like always, everything else slipped away. 

For now, Yuuri could put being Yuuri aside. Be someone else, just for a while.

Jean-Jacques Leroy, the Canadian representative in Skate America, looked so much younger, much more his age in person. He was tapping the table in an agitated way, eyes moving around the restaurant nervously. He was handsome, too, Yuuri thought idly. He'd never paid that much attention to Leroy before this season, as only this season the likelihood that Leroy would be skating against Phichit became quite high. Most of the things he'd learned about JJ were things he'd researched in preparation for this booking.

What Yuuri had learned was JJ was nineteen, extremely confident, had a girlfriend and this was his first time using an escort service. Or at least it was in Detroit. As far as Yuuri's research showed, it could also be JJ's first time with a man. A situation Yuuri was not unfamiliar with in his line of work.

Yuuri wasn't even sure if he should've agreed to the appointment, now that he could see Leroy in person. But there was something so genuine about the way they had spoken on the phone, something that peaked Yuuri's curiosity.

Yuuri's curiosity tended to get him into trouble.

'It's JJ. Everyone calls me that,' Leroy said as he stood up, awkwardly hitting the table where the glasses chimed in protest. Yuuri smiled, putting a hand down to steady the table and extending the other to shake JJ's ambling hand between them. 'Are- you know, are you Eros?'

'JJ,' Yuuri repeated, keeping the neutral tone. JJ was nervous, naturally. Yuuri had expected as much. 'Yes, I'm Eros. It's lovely to meet you.'

'Hope so. I hear I'm a delight,' JJ said confidently, though his eyes were still a bit nervous. He sat down as Yuuri did while Yuuri took JJ in.

JJ was tall and well built, training evident through the slim black shirt he was wearing. JJ ran a hand through his short hair. It was buzzed on the sides, fringe floppy. Olive skin. And he had blue eyes. A deep, dark blue that reminded Yuuri of denim. Very different to the blue eyes Yuuri had met the night before.

JJ gave Yuuri a quick look over; 'You're not what I expected.'

'No?' Yuuri said, tugging on the sleeves of his cardigan, trying to appear more self-conscious than he was. It would be good to give JJ the chance to get comfortable, feel more at ease. 'What were you expecting?'

'I'm not really sure,' JJ replied, smiling slightly for the first time. Yuuri smiled back, leaning forward a little over the table. Definitely a different appointment to Victor's.

'What are you doing in Detroit, JJ?' Yuuri asked, resting his head on one hand at the table, keeping his gaze looking up from the angle. JJ shifted in his seat, rubbing his hands together in flustered motions.

'A competition. I'm an athlete,' JJ said, grinning. Yuuri had seen that exact grin in one of his half-hearted Google searches. 'World renowned, you know.'

'Impressive.'

'Very. You've probably heard of me,' JJ said, shrugging with a smile. But his shoulders were tensed, raising up just a little higher than they should. Still nervous. Yuuri waved the waiter down, thinking it was time for a distraction.

'I always wanted to be an athlete,' Yuuri said as the waiter brought two menus, placing them down gently as Yuuri also asked for some water for the table. Half-truths were a speciality of Yuuri's. Clients could never tell and Yuuri could always make them sound just that little bit more genuine.

Well, Yuuri thought, there were a little bit more genuine.

'Really? What sport?' JJ asked, interest piqued and making eye-contact with Yuuri again. Yuuri smiled as he opened the menu, already knowing what he'd order. Always best to look the menu up online first and decided before arriving. Yuuri's contacts weren't great, not compared to his glasses. He'd still have to squint at the menu and that was not attractive.

'Fencing,' Yuuri answered and JJ's mouth opened somewhat in surprise.

'Wow, that's- random,' JJ said, before a small blush came onto his face. 'Not saying it's bad or anything! But you know, there are definitely more interesting sports out there.'

Yuuri nodded nonchalantly as he took a sip of his water. JJ was a bit bumbling, but he did it with such boldness it could almost read as on purpose. Yuuri knew people though. He'd gotten enough practice. JJ picked up Yuuri's silence, grin faltering just a little; 'Sorry! I didn't mean- God, you know I'm really not this much of a loser. I''m usually much more confident.'

Yuuri thought of the infamous King JJ Theme that Phichit had showed him when they had looked through the results of their cyber-stalking for the competition for Skate America. Yuuri bit his lip to stop his smile from getting too broad at the knowledge of JJ's competitive persona. Phichit probably wouldn't believe Yuuri when he told him what that information was allowing Yuuri to do now. (If he told him).

'I believe you,' Yuuri said and he meant it.

After they'd ordered, they made more small talk, JJ becoming more and more self-assured with each topic. He told Yuuri about his tattoos and how he hadn't felt any pain, at all. Yuuri had cooed, impressed. Then JJ went on to describe working with some Canadian band on a power ballad, (King JJ, Yuuri assumed but didn't say). While JJ was clearly out of his comfort zone, he still spoke loudly and brashly, causing a few people to stare at times. Yuuri wasn't overly fond of him, but that didn't matter. Yuuri wasn't fond of everyone who hired him.

Once the drinks had arrived, Yuuri finally decided to broach the elephant in the room. Or at least, the elephant sitting at the dinner table with them.

'So, JJ,' Yuuri started, taking another sip of water, wine ignored. Yuuri tried to keep his body bent a little over the table, tried to keep looking up at JJ as much as possible. JJ was taller anyway, but Yuuri felt the approach had been working well thus far. 'What are you hoping to do with our time together?'

JJ looked around the restaurant nervously, hands running up and down his thighs. The first break in his tenacity since they'd started. Then JJ reached out and took his own drink, taking a big gulp before putting the glass back down. Yuuri waited, patiently. This wasn't so unusual for first-timers either. Not everyone took to the situation as well as Victor had. Even someone as brash as JJ.

Yuuri felt his neck heat up at the memory of last night, Victor's smile flashing through his memory like a coin.

'I'm not looking to, you know...' JJ said, quiet for the first time since Yuuri arrived, looking like he was forcing himself to meet Yuuri's gaze from across the table. Yuuri felt his eyebrows raise before he could stop them.

'That's okay. It's your time,' Yuuri said, hoping not to sound too flirty. 'We can spend it however you like.'

'It's just- Well, my friend suggested this. And I'm not a coward, you know. I'm not afraid to try things,' JJ said with a bit more certainty in his voice. The JJ Yuuri had witnessed on Youtube was beginning to make an reappearance as JJ asserted exactly what he was looking for. 'I don't want to do anything with you. Just talk. Not saying you're bad looking or anything, but I'm not really a guy's guy, you know?'

Yuuri tried not to let his confusion show as the waiter arrived with their food. Alright, this may be a first. Just talking? Yuuri had definitely done that before. Not often, and usually with a client he'd seen a few times but Yuuri had been to sessions where he and the client would just talk. It was a crucial part for some clients' experiences. But being hired by someone who didn't find him attractive at all for reasons other than talking?

That was a first.

JJ was young and he'd only booked an hour and a half and Yuuri really hadn't expected the whole hour and a half to be lunch despite those things. But by the looks of it though, that was exactly what JJ was looking for. Yuuri mentally patted himself on the back for going with the casual clothing. If he'd shown up full Eros as it were, JJ would probably have demanded a refund and fled. Or broken down. Neither option good.

'If I may ask,' Yuuri said, carefully prodding his salad about on the plate while JJ started on his pasta. 'Why hire me? If you're looking for someone to talk to I'm sure there were other ways you could've gone about it.'

Yuuri squeezed his eyes shut as he heard himself. That was too much. JJ would probably shut down, cut the already short lunch to an abrupt end.

But instead, JJ answered instantly, with humour almost; 'Cheaper than a psychiatrist.'

'Only just,' Yuuri teased, relieved. He took a bite of lettuce, chewing with thought as he watched JJ spool pasta on his fork.

'I didn't want a girl,' JJ said, eyes fixed on his food. Yuuri ate quietly, waiting. JJ swallowed thickly before continuing; 'Talking about this with a girl, it's just- I have a girlfriend. Isabella. She's amazing, the best. Of course she is, I picked her after all. But if I'd booked a girl, even just to talk to about this sort of stuff it'd feel a bit... I don't know.'

'Like you were being unfaithful,' Yuuri suggested and JJ nodded mutely over his food. Yuuri thought he was beginning to get it now. The pieces were coming together. 'Tell me what you're thinking, JJ.'

'I asked her to marry me. Isabella.'

'That is a big commitment, especially at nineteen.'

'It's not that. I want to marry her, a lot. I'd be a hell of a husband, too. But I said I'd only do it if I win the final,' JJ added, looking at Yuuri across the table. Yuuri took a moment but then he realised that JJ meant the Grand Prix Final. Yuuri just caught himself from gaping, elegantly slipping a piece of tomato into his mouth while he mulled that over.

'I see,' Yuuri said slowly, thinking about the situation. 'That's a lot of pressure then. You're obviously very confident, and it sounds like you have good reason to be. But what happens if you don't win?'

'I don't know,' JJ said quietly, almost too quiet for Yuuri to hear over the noise of the restaurant. 'Before, when I competed, it was like I couldn't think of anything else but winning. I'd just think about all those washed up guys ahead me and think, yeah, I can beat them. And I did. Like I get into this zone, you know?'

Yuuri was familiar with getting into zones for competitions. But usually it was a zone of complete and utter anxiety, leading to inevtiable, burning failure. Yuuri shuddered involuntarily as the memory of the Grand Prix Final, 2012 hit him like brick.

'But now, before I even get near the ice I start to panic. What if I let Isabella down? What if I don't even make it to the Grand Prix?' JJ continued, eyes wide and blue. Yuuri felt a stab of very genuine sympathy. This was something Yuuri knew intimately. Yuuri knew JJ hadn't specified he was a skater, or had explained to Yuuri the nature of his competition, but Yuuri also knew that JJ wasn't paying enough attention to Yuuri really to notice that. Yuuri put his fork down and moved his hand across the table, taking JJ's wrist under his fingers lightly.

'I understand how you feel,' Yuuri said. He gave JJ a light squeeze before moving back to his side of the table, not wanting to push. 'But there are people you can talk to for that. Properly, not just me. Not that this isn't lovely.'

'I- I couldn't risk making an appointment like that,' JJ said, unsurity evident in his voice. 'I'd never get away with it. Going to an office, having that kind of thing on my record. My parents would find out. Reporters, too. And that would just be one hell of a shitshow. I'm pretty famous, you see. But here, with you...'

JJ looked at Yuuri quickly, eyes flitting and Yuuri understood.

'Here, you're just having lunch with someone,' Yuuri said, smile gentle. JJ nodded. Yuuri thought carefully about what he wanted to say, but really, he'd already decided.

'Just cash. And then nothing,' JJ said, taking an awkward bite of pasta. Some sauce got on his chin. 'My friend had done it before. I was feeling a bit down about it all and it just seemed like a good idea.'

'Well, then,' Yuuri said, taking his fork back up and motioning to JJ with it. 'Tell me all about you.'

They spent over the hour and a half, just. And Yuuri knew he should've been strict, his watch beeping almost ten minutes ago. But Yuuri was going to wait for lunch to end. It broke his rules, but Yuuri couldn't help it. Listening to JJ, this next generation skater as it were, talk about the crippling pressure skating gave was almost like Yuuri was stepping back in time. Stepping back to himself, telling himself all the things he knew now. Yuuri did wish JJ the best. Wished for JJ not to let the nerves hold him back.

But Yuuri also knew that JJ was competing against some of the highest quality skaters this season, Victor Nikiforov just to name one. Phichit another. Yuuri was worried for what the future held for JJ. A gold medal at the Grand Prix was an ambitious thing to aim for, even if you didn't have Victor Nikiforov's enormous shadow looming in front of you. Betting a marriage on getting one?

Yuuri wouldn't do it.

After their plates had been cleared, Yuuri moved his glass around the table, just for something to focus on before the appointment ended. Yuuri really couldn't grant anymore time. He had another client at six. Then he spoke, carefully and sincerely.

'I'm flattered you chose me, JJ. And I've had a really wonderful time. But going forward, you probably should consider other options.' Yuuri gave JJ what he hoped was a kind smile as JJ furrowed his brow across the table. 'The service you're looking for isn't really what I offer.'

JJ said nothing, but his face cleared with understanding. He reached his hand out across the table, face sure; 'Thank you. For today. Shame you can't brag about meeting me.'

Yuuri took his hand, shaking it firmly; 'It was my pleasure. And don't worry, it'll be my special secret.'

'Can I just ask you something? Before you leave?' JJ said, tone a little uneven, like he couldn't decide whether to be nervous or not. Yuuri tilted his head, something his old ballet instructor used to do. Reminded him of her. 

'Of course.'

'Do you ever get nervous? Doing this job? You must get some real crazies,' JJ said, accent twinging in his mouth like it was bent the wrong way from American. Yuuri thought about his answer for a moment.

'All the time,' Yuuri said, not strictly speaking lying. JJ smiled, teeth very white.

'What helps?'

Yuuri thought suddenly of blue eyes and a thin nose. He remembered the way it felt to have Victor Nikiforov kiss him, to hear the Russian he spoke right in his ear. He remembered how Victor had held him, carried him. How Victor had pinned Yuuri to the door, mouth open and lust liquid in his eyes. Yuuri moved his chair, dull ache crawling up his back from where Victor had fucked him.

He knew he should say the money. That's what this conversation needed; banter, a bit of humour. JJ was really more of a lighthearted person. But all Yuuri could think about now as the evening ahead. Imagining how Victor might look, where they might go. If they even went anywhere.

Yuuri smiled, unable to stop himself.

'The same thing that helps you,' Yuuri said, JJ watching him carefully. Yuuri stood up to leave, straightening his cardigan. 'The right person.'



Yuuri fidgeted with the stem of his glass while he sat in the Motor Bar, at the Westin Cadillac. It was still early in the evening, only a few people around. The bartender caught Yuuri's eye, the same one from the night before. He gave Yuuri a slight nod and Yuuri nodded back. Yuuri always got on well with hotel staff. They always knew and Yuuri always tipped. Generously.

Yuuri checked his watch, drink almost finished. Five forty. 

'I always loved that colour on you, mon ange,' a voice said and Yuuri smiled before he could help himself.

'I see your tastes haven't changed,' Yuuri flirted, turning in his stool to face Chris Giacometti.

Chris looked lovely, as always. Hair styled well and wearing a tidy grey sweater that made his eyes look a deeper brown. He took a seat next to Yuuri, waving down the bartender.

Yuuri sat back in his chair, comfortable. Yuuri had rather thought he might not get the chance to see Chris at all this year, given everything he'd heard. It was a nice turn of events to meet him now. Though he shouldn't be all that surprised, now that he thought about it. All the guest skaters were staying in the Westin. Yuuri had never had to worry about running into anyone before though. Chris had been the only one looking for him then.

'Here for business, or pleasure? Always get those mixed up, you do,' Chris said, eyes shining with mischief. How true to character, Yuuri thought with a smile. The bartender came over, flashing Yuuri a look as he dropped Chris' glass of wine down.

'Funny,' Yuuri said, watching the bartender before looking back to Chris. Chris beamed over his glass of wine. Red, typical Swiss. 'You're funny.'

'I've many talents, mon ange.'

'Oh, don't I know it.'

'Seeing anyone I might know?' Chris asked casually, but Yuuri knew him better than that. He knew Chris was asking about Victor.

Well, Yuuri wasn't seeing Victor til nine. A whole three hours between now and then. Not that Yuuri was counting. Yuuri still regretted his choice of shirt though, despite Chris' compliments for it. If he blushed, the deep wine satin would just heighten it.

'I think I'm more popular than you give me credit for,' Yuuri said, hoping to sound enigmatic but when he caught Chris' eye, they both laughed anyway.

'I believe you,' Chris said, taking a sip of wine. Chris moved on his seat slightly, before speaking again. 'So, how are you? Last we met you were saving for a new place. Take the plunge yet?'

'Just moved in yesterday, actually. It's quite the house, outside of the city. You'd be impressed,' Yuuri said, shrugging his shoulders. Chris raised an eyebrow, all humour.

'Do I get a say in decoration? I feel that'd be only fair, seeing as I paid for your deposit by default.'

'Oh, sorry. It's right there in the fine print,' Yuuri said, putting a finger down onto the bar like he was pointing something out on an imaginary contract. 'No opinions once I'm off the clock. Your money is forfeit.'

'Ah, what a scam,' Chris joked back. The conversation was easy and fluid, like it always was with Chris. Yuuri kept one eye on his watch, but he still had a bit of time. The benefits of booking a room for himself for the night, even if he wasn't staying. He could get ready here at the Westin for both appointments.

'So,' Chris said at length and Yuuri knew what was coming. Yuuri glanced at Chris, trying to appear aloof. 'What did you think of my friend?'

'Your friend?' Yuuri replied, trying for blasé but hearing the excitement himself in his voice. 'You mean Victor? Victor Nikiforov? Five time World Championship winner Victor Nikiforov?'

Chris only smiled and then they both laughed.

'You could've warned me,' Yuuri said. Chris shrugged, looking incredibly happy with himself.

'You deserved a surprise,' he said, eyebrows wiggling. 'Besides, I heard you got on just fine.'

'He talked about me?' Yuuri asked and then kicked himself, because he was supposed to be a professional and that sounded suspiciously like something a teenager with a crush would say.

And yes, alright. Maybe Yuuri actually had been that teenager with a crush. But he was twenty-three now, for goodness sake.

'I hope he treated you well,' Chris said genuinely, putting his glass down. 'It was very difficult for me to give you up, you know.'

'I should hope so,' Yuuri teased, glancing at his watch again but thinking entirely of Victor's voice and how it had sounded. Yuuri breathed in deeply through his nose, memory stark. 'Victor was... amazing.'

Chris cooed; 'Should I be jealous?'

'I'm not sure, how's your choreographer?' Yuuri joked right back. Chris laughed, a deep throaty sound that even now, after all this time, made Yuuri's heart skip a beat. 'Quite the mystery man you've got for yourself. No amount of Googling on my part could turn anything substantial up.'

'Aw, checking up on me, mon ange?' Chris replied. He watched Yuuri carefully for a few moments, hazel eyes searching. Yuuri squirmed marginally under the scrutiny. 'Victor has- well, one might say il a eu un coup de foudre. Though maybe that's a bit old-fashioned.'

Yuuri had never bothered to learn any French, so he just waited while Chris chewed a bit on his bottom lip. Yuuri was sure he'd never seen Chris hesitate before.

'I mean to say, Victor seems quite smitten.'

'Oh?' Yuuri said, aiming for disinterested, missing entirely and landing somewhere in the vicinity of very much interested.

'Hmm,' Chris hummed, obviously picking up on Yuuri's tone. Yuuri looked away at the bottles behind the bar, very determined not to blush. 'How could he not be? You're wonderful.'

Yuuri felt like there was a but coming.

'Victor can be quite- whimsical,' Chris paused and though he said nothing else, Yuuri was getting an idea of where this was heading. But Yuuri didn't want to hope too much.

It was one thing getting paid to sleep with Victor Nikiforov and being very excited about it. Quite another to even entertain the thought that Victor Nikiforov would like Yuuri as anything other than that.

Yuuri thought of Victor's smile, the way he danced like he skated- with everything he had, like it was the most natural thing in the world. He thought of how impulsive Victor was. How he'd just granted Yuuri free reign for the night, letting himself be led by a stranger to another stranger's party. How he'd let Yuuri push him down onto the mattress, like the great and talented Victor Nikiforov couldn't stop it. Like he'd wanted it.

Before Yuuri could answer, the bartender interrupted. He put a hand between Yuuri and Chris on the bar, dragging Yuuri's gaze to him.

'Sorry, sir. But there's a call for you at reception,' the bartender said, mouth twitching somewhat into an almost-smile. Yuuri thanked him softly, turning back to Chris as the bartender walked away.

'Duty calls,' Chris said, but he sounded a bit sad about it. Yuuri smiled at him, reaching over and touching his face. The stubble was a bit rough beneath his finger tips.

'It was good to see you, Chris.'

'You, too.'

 


 


The door to the king room opened, revealing Robert. Yuuri smiled, taking the hand that was offered to him and slipping inside.

Robert was in law. One of the bigger firms in the central city, but Yuuri had always been careful not to listen too carefully. He'd been booking Yuuri routinely for just over a year now, once or twice a month. Sometimes more. He was charming, if a little arrogant. Always paid cash. In his fifties, with silver laced dark hair and deep brown eyes underneath thick eyebrows. Robert was in great shape for his age, something Yuuri always took selfish delight in when Robert used that to his advantage.

Such as now.

'Eros.'

Robert growled the name into the back of Yuuri's neck, thrusting slowly and deeply. Yuuri moaned into the pillow, back arching up to meet Robert's movements. Robert had Yuuri face down on the exceptionally large bed, (bigger than the standard room gifted to skaters), one large hand on Yuuri's hip and the other holding Yuuri's hands together above his head as Robert drove into him, heat building between them along Yuuri's back. Hips snapping forward, just grazing Yuuri right where he needed to be hit and Yuuri whined, loud and lewd.

'God, I missed this,' Robert said and Yuuri grinned into the pillow.

After, Robert stepped out of the en suite after his shower, coming around the corner back into the main room with a look of pure self-satisfaction on his face as he did. Yuuri shook his head from the bed, laughing quietly.

'You look pleased with yourself.'

'I know I pay you, kid. But there's something about having you all spread out on the bed like that. Makes me feel like a young man again,' Robert said, rubbing a towel over his head. Yuuri felt what could've been a blush, but he was still too warm from all the excursions to care that much about it, even if he was wearing nothing but the sheet they'd managed to dislodge between them.

'I'm a luxury, what can I say?' Yuuri replied, moving to get out of the bed but Robert crossed over the room quickly, crawling onto the bed and getting in Yuuri's way of doing just that. Yuuri smiled up at him. 'You didn't make me scream though. So maybe your old age is finally catching up.'

'Why you gotta be like that?' Robert said, smiling with his very white teeth and damp hair still dripping just a little. Yuuri wiggled under the drops that hit him, skin prickling like an itch at the cold of them. Robert leant down and kissed him, Yuuri opening his mouth to accommodate the warm tongue that slipped in. He moaned, softly from the back of his throat. Robert liked that.

'You trying to kill me here, kid?'

'Depends. Do I still get my retainer?'

'Cheeky.'

Robert pushed Yuuri further into the bed, body getting all tangled up in the sheets. Yuuri pressed his hands against Robert's hairy chest lightly, trying to sound stern; 'I need to shower. I'm disgusting.'

'No, you're not. You're gorgeous. That's the problem,' Robert said, kissing Yuuri again. 'Stay there, I got you something.'

Yuuri raised an eyebrow as Robert got up, moving over to the chairs by the door where his bags were. He had a selection of large, expensive leather luggage. Robert traveled a lot for work, not even being a Detroit native himself. Not that Yuuri could comment on that. Robert's family were back in Baltimore, or so he told Yuuri. None of that really mattered to what they did together though.

Robert sauntered back towards the bed, grin still wide and towel riding low on his broad hips, small bag in his hand. He was a very different man to the one Yuuri had been with just the night before. The man he'd be with again in just over an hour and half. Not that Yuuri was thinking about it, because he wasn't. No, Yuuri was entirely focused on the job at hand. It would be unprofessional to be otherwise.

Yuuri glanced over to his watch, where it sat on the bedside table.

No. Definitely not thinking about it.

Robert sat back down on the bed, handing the small bag over. Yuuri sat up as he took the bag, glancing over towards Robert as he opened it. When he spotted what was inside, Yuuri giggled a little. Robert really was something. Yuuri thought he'd only mentioned it once and yet Robert had remembered. He pulled it out, giving Robert a mock-frown.

'I'm going to need my glasses for this.'

'My clever plot is revealed,' Robert said, lying down as Yuuri turned the small snow globe over in his hand, squinting at the small figures inside and the city name he couldn't read. 'You look cute in your glasses.'

'Ah, yes. Cute. That's exactly what I aim for,' Yuuri said, but he was stretching out over the bed anyway, down for his trousers where his glasses were safely pocketed in a felt case. Yuuri never wore contacts for Robert, not after Robert had specifically requested glasses once. After awkwardly scrambling, Yuuri came back onto the bed, blue-framed glasses on. 'Happy now?'

'Abso-fucking-lutely.'

Yuuri grimaced at the swearing. Even after all this time, Americans and their discourtesy still got to him. Yuuri took a closer look at the snow-globe. Toronto, the small yellow writing said and the figures inside were ice-skaters in coats of varied colours. It was very cute. Yuuri had told Robert once that he always liked snow-globes, that his family collected them.

It wasn't strictly speaking true. Yuuri had no strong opinions on snow-globes and his family didn't collect them. But they did sell them back in the onsen, the bath house inn they owned. Half-truths.

Yuuri was still touched though. Robert didn't know any of that, after all. Only what Yuuri had told him.

'I love it,' Yuuri said, shaking the globe and watching the fake snow, smiling at the tiny skaters. 'Thank you.'

'You're welcome, kid,' Robert said, giving Yuuri another deep kiss before he got up from the bed. 'Saw it in the airport. Four dollars. So you better appreciate it.'

'Oh, I do,' Yuuri said, watching Robert pull clothes from one of his bags and start getting dressed. Just as Robert buttoned the top of his trousers, Yuuri's watched beeped. Yuuri reached over, turning off the alarm and finally disentangling himself from the bed.

Yuuri just gathered his clothes from the floor, deciding to freshen up in his own hotel room. He didn't want to be late for next appointment. He tied his watch before slipping his discarded shirt back on. After he'd buttoned his own slacks, Yuuri reached for the small black satchel he'd brought with him to put the snow globe inside. Condoms, lube, hygeine wipes and most importantly, the envelope.

Once he was somewhat presentable, Yuuri gave himself a quick once over in the mirror. He was still quite dishevelled, but at least he wouldn't have far to go. Only down two floors. The glasses helped make him look kind of more like a put together person, so that was something. Unfortunately, wearing the glasses made him look strikingly like himself.

Which was bad as it was really interrupting Yuuri's plan of not being himself.

Yuuri took a shaky breath, straightening his hopelessly wrinkled shirt. His head suddenly felt far too full, memories of Phichit and the morning swirling around, buzzing like an angry hive of something. Yuuri tightened his grip on the satchel, forcing himself to smile as he headed towards the door past Robert. If Robert noticed anything, he didn't show it.

'I'll catch you later then,' Robert said, reaching out while his own shirt was still unbuttoned over his pants. He took Yuuri's hand, stopping him just as he went to unlock the door. Yuuri smiled, pressing a quick kiss to Robert's lips. They were a little chapped. Yuuri hadn't noticed before.

'You know where to find me,' Yuuri said, slipping his hand out of Robert's grip and heading out into the hall.

In the lift, Yuuri fished his phone of the satchel. He always brought both, personal one hidden in a special pocket of the lining, just in case something were to happen to his professional. No new messages. Yuuri wasn't really expecting any, to be fair. But his heart still sank at the sight. Phichit was probably home by now. Back in their new apartment. Yuuri wondered if he'd unpacked anything.

The lift pinged and Yuuri was suddenly brought back to what he was doing, not realising how much he had spaced out until the doors opened.

As Yuuri made his way down the hall towards his own room to get ready for his next appointment, Yuuri's heart began to speed up at the knowledge of who his next client was. Yuuri had never even gotten the chance to tell Phichit. He wondered if Phichit would even believe him.

Yuuri wouldn't. After all, there was your dreams coming true. But getting paid to have your dreams come true?

Yuuri wasn't sure he even believed it himself.

 


 

The hotel lobby was golden and bustling with people. Mostly skaters and their associates, now that Victor looked a bit more closely. A few nodded in acknowledgement towards Victor as he walked towards the bar. Victor was early, he knew that. But he was too excited to wait upstairs, instead deciding to come down ten minutes early and see if he could spot Eros walking in. He threw on some grey trousers and a white shirt, long brown coat over. 

Turned out he wasn't the only early one.

Eros was standing by the entrance into the bar. He was radiant, obviously.

That was his job, Victor supposed. Eros was dressed neatly; pressed trousers and a pale blue peacoat. He also had a deep red scarf over the lapels and hiding Eros' pretty neck. Hair combed back, like before and his face turned towards the bar. Victor also spotted that Eros had a small, black gear bag slung over his shoulder; he'd listened to Victor's request.

Victor couldn't stop the smile that started to spread as he walked over towards Eros. He looked quite feminine, framed by the pillars of the lobby and his waist tucked in, legs long. The memory of the night before hit Victor vividly as he approached, remembering pushing Eros down on the bed and the look in Eros' gorgeous, brown eyes. He remembered how Eros had prepared in advance and the thought had Victor frozen mid-step.

The lust coiled inside him like something magnetic; twisting and so hot as it pulled something deep up in Victor. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to compose himself. But the thought, mad as it was, arose unbidden as Victor imagined stealing Eros down the hall to some small, secluded place. He imagined pressing Eros up against a wall. Wondered if he could drag Eros' accent out again, if he could get Eros to beg in it-

'Victor,' a voice said, somewhat breathless and all perfect.

Victor opened his eyes to see Eros stepping over towards him. His movements were fluid, hips swaying. Victor tried not to stare and failed miserably. So distracting, Victor thought fondly.

Eros smiled up at him, eyes very bright and warm. Like candlelight. They brought Victor back to the moment, back to his goal for the evening.

Victor had a plan. Something he sincerely hoped Eros wouldn't be expecting. Maybe even something Eros hadn't done before. Victor so badly wanted to surprise him. But first-

'You're early,' Victor said, loving the way Eros' eyebrows would come together when he heard the accent. Victor had never been more aware of it than now. Eros smiled, blushing just a little.

'I like to be on time,' he said softly, eyes moving from Victor's face as his blush deepened, pale pink to flushed. It was endearing and Victor hoped very much that Eros wasn't doing it on purpose.

'Eager,' Victor teased, hoping to make Eros more embarrassed if he continued to get such great responses. Going by the way Eros bit his bottom lip just a little, it worked. Victor grinned; 'Let's go.'

'So, what are you hoping to do tonight?' Eros asked, linking his arm with Victor's as they walked out into the street from the hotel. He sounded slightly more confident now they weren't looking at each other.

The doorman nodded to them as they walked out and Victor saw him eye their linked arms. Victor puffed out his chest, happy with how they looked. Happy that people would assume they were dating.

'I'm taking you to dinner,' Victor said, giving Eros a bright smile as they walked along. 'After that, it's a surprise.'

Eros raised a dark eyebrow at him, brown eyes sparkling; 'The gym gear is for that, I assume. Should I be suspicious?'

'Absolutely not.'

As they walked, Victor tried to break Eros out of the flirtatious loop he had the conversation in. Not that Victor didn't enjoy flirting with Eros, because he most certainly did. But the references and the teases just reminded Victor of how Eros' chest would shudder, how the blush he so admired spread all the way down it. The look on Eros' face as he had sunk down onto Victor just last night, moaning beautifully.

Victor pinched himself through the pocket of his coat, trying to be a discreet.

It was very distracting, but Victor was determined not to let Eros steer the evening with his sensuality. Tempting, as it was. Victor had never met anyone as captivating before, but he'd also hadn't met someone in quite a long time that managed to surprise him.

Eros didn't care, or even know, that Victor was famous. The surprise of that alone might've been enough but then Eros himself proved to have such depths. His dancing was so impressive, so indicative of skill and passion. Victor wanted to know when Eros had learned, why he had chosen dancing.

But it was Eros' demure nature despite the profession that was really pulling Victor in. Victor wanted to see more of that man, wanted to surprise Eros in ways no one had before, like Eros had done for him. Victor wanted to know him. Or at least, he wanted to be given the chance.

And Victor couldn't do that if all he could focus on was how good it felt to fuck him.

Which it did, mind. Really good.

Victor steered the conversation off the innuendo, (which was difficult, especially for him), going for a more traditional date route.

'So, last night,' Victor started, watching Eros out of the corner of his eye. Eros' nose turned the smallest bit pink in a way that could not be blamed on the cold. Eros ignored it and gave Victor a slanted look, smile coy.

'Yes?'

'Your friend at the door mentioned you weren't American,' Victor said and Eros narrowed his eyes at him, face thoughful. Victor continued; 'So, my next question is, where are you from?'

'Kyoto. In Japan,' Eros answered instantly, smiling at Victor as they turned the corner at the end of the street.

Victor caught himself before he frowned, confused. He was sure Chris had said Tokyo. Victor shook it off. Tokyo and Kyoto sounded similar enough. Chris had likely just made a mistake. Victor started to slow down as they approached their destination.

'I assumed as such,' Victor said, unlinking their arms and stopping with a flourish outside the Japanese sushi restaurant he had picked. Eros' eyes grew wide, suprise evident. Victor was thrilled.

'I-uh, wow,' Eros said, voice stuttering a little. He sounded very different from the man who had flirted so confidently with Victor before. It lit a fire in Victor, blooming warmth that he could break through the persona somehow. Then it slipped back, Eros' face shifting into a smirk. He gave Victor a look.

'You assumed I was Japanese. So you've brought me to a Japanese restaurant.'

Victor nodded, triumphant. Eros laughed, tone definitely teasing. Victor felt a bit wrong-footed, not entirely sure why Eros was laughing. Eros tucked his hands into the pockets of his coat, smiling with his teeth.

'Shall I order you vodka at the bar? You know, because you're Russian,' Eros said, amusement in his voice. Victor cottoned on, at last. He laughed at himself, understanding dawning.

'Ah. I may not have thought it through, exactly,' Victor replied, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. Eros only smiled at Victor, shaking his head slightly. Victor chuckled; 'I don't even like vodka.'

'And I don't like sushi,' Eros said, eyes shining with his smile but Victor groaned in disappointment anyway. 'Guess we're even.'

'This is not going to plan,' Victor muttered, admitting defeat as Eros linked his arm again, taking him down the street.

'It wasn't a bad plan,' Eros joked, but he patted Victor's arm soothingly. 'You wouldn't be the first person to think of it.'

If anything, that only made Victor feel even worse. He felt like an idiot.

Eros had been an escort for at least four years, going by what Chris had said. Of course someone would've figured out he was Japanese and thought of this. He likely told them himself if they had asked, just as he had with Chris and Victor. Victor hung his head in defeat. Eros seemed to notice, as he leant up and kissed Victor's cheek.

'Thank you. It was a lovely thought,' Eros said and it sounded like a line he'd used before but Victor appreciated it anyway. Then Eros looked out across the street, smile a bit softer as he watched the traffic pass. 'I haven't found anywhere that makes food as good as home. I try to cook my own, when I get the time. But it's nothing compared to my Mom's.'

There was something about Eros' use of the word mom that stirred something in Victor. That didn't sound rehearsed. Victor took the information with a smile, fondly imagining Eros standing in a kitchen cooking. In Victor's head, he pictured his own kitchen. It wasn't as bizarre as he thought it should be.

'What do you cook?' Victor asked, hoping Eros wouldn't back out of the conversation.

'Oh, nothing too exciting,' he said and Victor was worried it was a dismissal. But then Eros turned back to face him, all excitement. 'Every now and then I attempt Katsudon. That's my Mom's speciality. I can never seem to get it right though. Always burn the panko.'

Victor had no idea what some of those words were, but he wanted to hear more.

'What's cats-down?'

'Katsudon?' Eros corrected gently, his accent sounding so natural with the word. 'It's a pork dish. Pork-cutlet, deep fried and served in a rice bowl. It's wonderful. Have you never had it?'

'Never.'

'You're missing out,' Eros said and Victor was disappointed that Eros didn't suggest he make it for them. Which was crazy and Victor shook his head like he might shake the thought from his mind.

'Where are we going?' Victor said instead, looking around the street that Eros was walking him down.

'There's a Thai place down here that's really nice. I don't get to go too often. A friend of mine is very snobby about Thai food and he doesn't approve,' Eros said as they approached a restaurant that was wafting the most delicious smells down the road.

'Then allow me to indulge you,' Victor said as they came to the door, letting go of Eros just so he could hold the door open for him.

Eros smiled and it was beautiful. He's beautiful, Victor thought as they walked in.

 


 

Victor was wonderful.

He was so effortlessly charming, smile easy and accent exotic. Everything one would want in a date. Victor obviously knew it, too. Probably had a lot of practice, Yuuri thought, half-remembered articles from the numerous gossip wesbites coming to mind. But Yuuri couldn't help himself for enjoying every moment of it. They were at a small table in the Thai place Phichit had sworn off as apparently their green curry was 'practically just coconut milk with some green beans thrown in'. (Yuuri thought it was nice, not that he could ever say).

Yuuri was sure that Phichit didn't want hear him say much of anything anytime soon anyway.

Victor hadn't really touched his food through dinner, instead being too busy telling Yuuri- well, everything. He talked about how he was a figure skater, (which of course Yuuri knew), about how he was competing with Chris and skating was how they knew each other, about how everyone complained about the cold in Detroit and how they would never survive the Russian winters. Victor talked with his hands, long fingers weaving through the low light of the restaurant as he demonstrated. Sometimes he spoke so fast that Yuuri couldn't understand him, his accent so thick.

But Yuuri couldn't look away, half-afraid the floor would fall out from under him at any moment. He was having dinner with Victor Nikiforov. It was like a running mantra of mania going over and over in his head.

Was this even happening? Was he dreaming?

Victor Nikiforov was a legend in figure skating. Since Yuuri was twelve he'd done everything he could to try and emulate him. Imitating him for years, finally meeting him at the Grand Prix all those years ago. That hadn't really gone to plan. Yuuri never thought for a second that Victor would ever have any interest in him.

Except, he didn't really, a niggling voice in Yuuri's head suggested. Victor was interested in Eros, not Katsuki Yuuri.

'Now, then,' Victor said, voice going a bit low as he finished a story about his coach. (Yakov Feltsman, Yuuri knew but couldn't say). 'I feel I've been talking far too much. Tell me about you.'

Yuuri took a small bite of the last of his coconut rice as Victor said it, wondering how to reply. Talking with Victor was dangerously easy, as it turned out. Yuuri had already been more personal than he had with any other client in just their brief discussion of his mother's home cooking. More personal in that Yuuri had been honest. Truly honest. Yuuri had always wanted to know Victor so badly and some silly, hopeful part of Yuuri wanted Victor to know him, too.

But that was out of the question. Yuuri couldn't start breaking the rules now. He'd have to be careful.

Yuuri swallowed, putting his fork down and instead pulling at the collar of the white shirt he was wearing under the matching waistcoat to his trousers. His heart skipped a few beats when he saw Victor's eyes dip, watching the movement. Yuuri smiled.

'What would you like to know?'

'I want to know everything about you,' Victor said, eyes shooting back up to meet Yuuri's gaze. Even in the restaurant's poor lighting, Victor's eyes were luminous. Blue so alien, even for all the blue eyes Yuuri had met over the years.

Yuuri blinked, his teasing of the shirt pausing at Victor's words.

'E-everything?'

'Everything,' Victor said enthusiastically, bouncing a little in his seat as he suddenly leaned across the table. Victor's fingers, which Yuuri had been admiring, slid beneath Yuuri's chin, tilting his head up. It was so personal and Yuuri felt his heart stop at the contact, unable to look away from Victor's sultry look. 'Like what kind of dance you've learned And what hobbies do you have? If there's a girl you like.'

The last part came out very low, almost a growl. Yuuri took a breath, chest stammering under his clothes as Victor's eyes darkened. Blue turning colour over, like petrol.

That was all a bit- forward. Was Victor like this with everyone?

'Let's get to know each other,' Victor said, almost whispering now as his other hand came up to take Yuuri's wrist from where it lay on the table. Victor laced their fingers together, just like he had at the bar the night before. Yuuri wished he had his glasses, not just the contacts. He wished he could see Victor's face bit clearer, understand just a bit better what was happening here.

Because all Yuuri felt like right now was that he was falling with no one to catch him.

'A relationship like this should be built on trust, don't you think?'

Relationship. Right, the client-escort relationship. Because Yuuri was a professional and Victor had hired him for a specific purpose.

Coming back to himself a little, Yuuri gave a practiced grin, turning his face so Victor's hand trailed up Yuuri's cheek. Yuuri pressed his lips to Victor's fingers, watching him through his lashes. Eros! Yuuri reminded himself strictly. I know who I'm doing this dance for. I'm going to seduce the playboy.

(Again).

'I like to think we got to know each other pretty well last night,' Yuuri said, echoing Victor's low tone. Yuuri thought he saw Victor shudder slightly, giving in to Yuuri's pull. Yuuri smiled, teeth bared. He moved under the table, ghosting a foot up along the inside of Victor's leg.

'Unless, of course, you've forgotten.'

'How could I forget such a thing?' Victor said, almost sounding like he was truly offended that Yuuri would even suggest it. Victor's grip on Yuuri's hand tightened and Yuuri felt his heart quicken, like it was trying to catch up with all the beats it'd missed in the wake of how sexy Victor was. Victor slipped a finger down Yuuri's cheek, back under his chin. 'Are you finished?'

'Yes,' Yuuri breathed, knowing he sounded too eager and not at all sorry about it.

'Good.'

Victor flagged them a taxi from outside the restaurant. Even to strangers, Victor's magnetism apparently knew no bounds. Victor held Yuuri's hand as he helped him into the taxi, waiting for Yuuri to be seated before closing the door and walking around to the other side. There was something so sweet in that, about Victor not making Yuuri shove across the seat. It made Yuuri's stomach twist in a very pleasant way.

Once Victor was sitting next to him, all Yuuri could focus on was Victor's hand as it sat on Yuuri's knee. Victor moved it slowly up and down Yuuri's leg, fingers flirting with the inside of Yuuri's thigh but never commiting, instead moving in slow circles. Working Yuuri up. Yuuri kept his own hands folded on his lap, truly afraid with what he might do if he was to touch Victor. Yuuri knew he was an escort and that people had certain opinions on that- but fooling around in a taxi was very much a line Yuuri tried not to cross.

Not that Victor was helping in that resolve at all, as his fingers suddenly slid up Yuuri's inside thigh with purpose, teasing over the curve of Yuuri's fly.

Yuuri gasped before he could stop himself, desire spiking hot and then blushed hideously, he could feel it. Victor smiled at him, the edge of it like something sharp. Eyes dark with knowing and want. Yuuri sank back further into the seat, embarrassed at his lack of control, as Victor's hand moved up and across Yuuri's waist, pinching him a little. Victor pressed up against him until there was no space left between them, his beautiful face slipping to the small space of exposed skin between Yuuri's jaw and his scarf. Yuuri could feel his hot breath, leaving goosebumps.

Finding Eros was turning out to be surprisingly difficult.

All of such being what Yuuri would later blame for him not noticing that the taxi hadn't taken them back to the hotel. He'd been too focused on trying to maintain the persona, the feel of Victor's lips against his neck and the slow roll of Victor's hands against his clothes. When the taxi rolled to a stop, Yuuri almost whined with disappointment when Victor pulled away, painfully slowly.

Victor paid the driver quickly and was out his side of the cab before Yuuri could even register properly. Yuuri took a few steadying breaths, looking out the window, which was fogged up with condensation so he couldn't see much. Then, the door opened, revealing a very excited looking Victor Nikiforov as he helped Yuuri out of the car.

'I wonder, are you always so easily distracted?' Victor asked as he pulled Yuuri up and out into his arms, holding Yuuri around the waist like he might try and run off on him.

Yuuri laughed, breath billowing whitely between them in the cool night air.

'Not usually. Looks like you're just special,' Yuuri said truthfully.

Victor's eyes brightened and his smile made his whole face look like it was lit up from the inside out. It made something in Yuuri melt. He leant forward and Yuuri really wanted to kiss him. But Victor stopped right before their lips met, anticipation electric in Yuuri.

'Good,' Victor said heavily, sounding so foreign that a shiver ran down Yuuri's spine. 'Let's see if you can keep your balance even with me distracting you then.'

Yuuri wasn't sure what to say to that, not really understanding, but then Victor stepped away from him, leading Yuuri by the hand. When Yuuri made himself look past Victor to see where they were, his blood turned to lead in his veins. He froze, stomach dropping and mouth opening in shock.

It couldn't be. Victor couldn't know, could he?

Yuuri was panicking, he was sure. Though it was cold, Yuuri could feel sweat begin to pool on his lower back, on his hands. Heart pounding, head spinning as Yuuri tried desperately to think of a solution. A handy excuse, a suitable explanation. But Yuuri could do nothing but stare. Stare up at the entrance to the competitive rink, the host for Skate America, as Victor led him blindly forward into it.

Yuuri thought he might die. Victor wouldn't bring him here unless-

Whipping his hand out of Victor's grip, Yuuri stood rooted to the spot. Victor paused ahead of him, calling out Eros' name, first with humour and then again with some concern. Yuuri pulled his hands to his chest, unable to tear his eyes from the large, imposing building.

He couldn't believe it. Victor knew.

Chapter Text

'Eros?'

Yuuri gripped the ends of his scarf, unsure what to do with his hands. He took a step back, eyes fixed on the rolling screen advertising Skate America for the next day. Only the outside lights were on, the rest of the centre in black darkness. It was so late, after ten, surely they weren't even open? Yuuri couldn't focus, thoughts spiraling at speed. But nothing was getting through, except the one, rotating fact that Victor Nikiforov had brought him fucking ice skating.

Did Victor know? He must know? Was it all a game, this whole time?!

'Eros!'

Suddenly, there were two hands on his face, one on each side and fingers warm. Yuuri looked away from the centre, eyes tumbling down to meet Victor's gaze. Worry was written all over his face, pulled together in his eyebrows and trembling in his blue eyes. Yuuri hadn't realised he was breathing so heavily until he was faced with how close Victor and he were. A few centimetres apart. Yuuri could see a spread of freckles across Victor's nose, just under his eyes. Yuuri had never noticed, never known they were there.

Yuuri found himself concentrating on those freckles, almost counting them.

'Eros, I'm sorry,' Victor was saying, words slowly beginning to register to Yuuri as his breathing began to even out. 'It never crossed my mind how this would look.'

'I-ah,' Yuuri hesitated, confused.

'I promise I'm not going to hurt you,' Victor said sternly, hands moving down Yuuri's neck and then away. Yuuri missed the warmth of them instantly. 'You don't have to come in with me, if you don't want to. I can take you back to the hotel.'

Yuuri blinked, once then twice before the panic that had been sitting so heavy in him lightened slightly. Uncoiling itself, like wire, deep inside and relieving the pressure. Yuuri began to understand Victor's meaning, slowly. Victor thought Yuuri was afraid; afraid to be somewhere so strange and obviously empty. Afraid to be so alone with Victor. Yuuri gasped softly, surprising even himself, at the realisation.

Victor... didn't know.

Of course Victor didn't know, was Yuuri insane? That had been four years ago! Yuuri had just turned twenty, he had been a completely different person then. He'd just barely broken into the skating sphere at the time, only to fall out of it completely with an abysmal free-skate that single-handedly ended his career. Victor hadn't known Yuuri then, when he'd been on the ice a mere half hour before him. Yuuri was so stupid to think Victor would know him now.

This must've been the surprise Victor had planned. Ice skating. He was Victor Nikiforov, it made perfect sense that he'd use ice skating as a means to seduce. He'd probably brought a hundred other people on this exact date. Yuuri tried to calm himself.

'N-no. No. I'm sorry,' Yuuri stammered, hands still shaking as he reached out towards Victor who had taken a step back from him. Victor looked confused now, his mouth opening but Yuuri beat him to it, repeating himself; 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I was just-'

What, exactly?

'Confused?' Yuuri finished, lamely. It hadn't meant to sound like a question either.

Victor came close again, stepping up to meet Yuuri's hands so they pressed against his chest. Victor took Yuuri's waist, squeezing slightly. God, he must think I'm crazy, Yuuri thought as he tried desperately to think of a way to rectify the situation. If he didn't, Victor would surely cancel tomorrow night, if he didn't also end tonight early due to Yuuri's complete breakdown that is. Escorts had one job when they were hired. And having a panic attack was most certainly not it.

'I've never been here before.'

One lie. Should've been easy. But it sounded unconvincing in Yuuri's mouth, words weak. Did Victor notice?

'Do you know where you are?' Victor asked, concern still laced between the words, holding them together. Yuuri nodded his head, still not trusting himself to lie adequately yet. 'Do you want to tell someone? Will that make you feel better? I don't mind.'

Yuuri opened his hands flat against Victor's chest, felt the muscle there. Remembered pushing against the skin as he moved on top of Victor, just the night before. A shiver went through him, one that had nothing to do with the cold or the leftover panic.

He thought of how much he knew about Victor from years of admiration, all the things Victor had confessed to at dinner beginning fill in the space between those things. Yuuri thought of all the time he'd spent on his bed, staring up at Victor's image, fantasising about all those moments becoming a reality. About this moment now.

'I trust you,' Yuuri said softly, frowning to himself when he realised that it was true. It was Victor's turn for shocked silence now, it would seem. He let out a long breath, white and cloud-like in the October frost. Yuuri felt his face grow hot. He looked away, blinking with nerves so much it made his contacts move.

Moment broken. Ow.

Yuuri subtly tried to fix his contacts, his face certainly getting redder as he did so.

'I'm glad to hear that,' Victor said, moving backwards and taking Yuuri with him, hands slipping from Yuuri's waist so he could hold one of Yuuri's. Yuuri fidgeted with the strap of the gear bag as they walked around the front of the building, away from the main entrance. It was dark, imposingly so, but the grip Victor had on Yuuri was reassuring. Long fingers wrapped around his own like laces on a skate.

But Yuuri's treacherous little heart was still pounding, distrustful. Pumping adrenaline in anticipation of flight.

(Wasn't this all just too- coincindental?)

Victor brought Yuuri to one of the service doors, typing in the code for the electronic lock. Yuuri watched, fascinated and still unsure of how to feel as Victor opened the door, pulling Yuuri into pitch black.

'I know the organisers quite well,' Victor explained, taking his phone out to use a torch as he led Yuuri down the service hallway. 'They gave me the code last time I competed here. I wanted to show you where I skate.'

'That's-' Weird, was the word that came to Yuuri's mind immediately, but it was squashed down by the immense excitement Yuuri felt at hearing those words come from his idol's mouth. Was Victor going to skate for him? Yuuri suddenly thought of his own gear bag, understanding dawning. Excitement was snuffed out with dread. 'Ah- are we going to... skate?'

'Of course!' Victor exclaimed, slightly too loud for Yuuri's comfort and accent narrowing the word a point.

Yuuri felt his throat close up, panic waking up from it's slumber with a growl; 'But I- I don't have any skates!'

Skating, in front of Victor Nikiforov? AgainNot even for six thousand dollars an hour would Yuuri do it.

'Don't worry, I have some for you.'

'How-? But you're not dressed for skating!'

'Everything I need is here, of course. In the competitor locker-room.'

'You don't even know my shoe size. What if we get caught?! You'll get in trouble!'

Victor stopped walking at that, turning on his heel so quickly that Yuuri walked straight into him, chest to chest. Yuuri looked up at Victor, who was all stark lines and deep shadows from the harsh light of the phone in his hand. Illuminated in the small, dark space between them like something other-worldly. Yuuri looked at Victor's lips, shadow black, before looking back up into his eyes. Yuuri had never been with a client for so long without being kissed yet.

'Then let's not get caught,' Victor crooned, words rough on the edges and getting caught in Yuuri's ears, giving him goosebumps.

It felt like a trap.

'Okay,' Yuuri exhaled, surrendering.

Victor smirked, obviously delighted and he pulled Yuuri with him again down the hall.

He's crazy, Yuuri thought as they turned a corner, space becoming a little more familiar to Yuuri as they entered it. They were close to the changing rooms now, locker room after. Yuuri's mind was stuck between the two satellite thoughts; the idea of what they were doing, (which was so mad, so outside of what Yuuri would ever or had ever done), and the impending dread that Yuuri might actually have to skate in front of Victor.

Should he fake being terrible? Yuuri was terrible, mind, but that was only competitively. Yuuri wasn't sure he could manage to pretend to be a complete novice. Maybe he could just throw himself on the ice and Victor would take pity?

Or maybe Victor would recognise his crumpled mess of a body, putting two and two together?

Yuuri wasn't sure.

Victor brought Yuuri into the locker room, flicking the light switch as he did. It was exactly as Yuuri remembered it from his own times there; open wooden cubbies on one side of the wall and large lockers on the other. The rink was normally used for hockey and basketball, accomodating for such. Yuuri stood in the centre of the room as Victor beelined for one of the lockers.

'So what size skate are you?' Victor asked, twisting a lock with his back to Yuuri. Yuuri watched him move, followed the line of his back.

Yuuri wished they were back in the hotel. Yuuri knew what to do with a bed awaiting him instead of a rink.

'I really don't need skates. I won't be any good.'

'Please, just tell me. There's no point skating now if I can't do so with you.'

What was Yuuri supposed to say to that? His heart pulled in on itself in his chest, constricting space. Yuuri tried to commit those words, coming from Victor Nikiforov's mouth, to his memory. Etch them, like into stone. Victor would never say such a thing if knew the truth, but it didn't stop Yuuri from enjoying every syllable of it.

'Uh, an eight. Eight and a half?'

Victor paused in his unlocking, tossing his head over his shoulder, silver hair splaying out like feathers at the movement.

'What's that in European sizes?'

'Forty-two,' Yuuri answered immediately, earning him a bemused look from Victor. Yuuri shrugged, quietly bashful. 'I'm very familiar with those things.'

'So it would seem,' Victor grinned, lock finally clicking open. 'I assumed you'd be about that. These are actually a forty-three, but if you lace them tight enough they won't go anywhere.'

Whomever's skates Victor had given him, they weren't his own. Yuuri hadn't realised he'd be secretly hoping for that until he felt some disappointment at spotting the blades, typical steel instead of the luminous gold of Victor's iconic pair. Yuuri still had Victor's original tweet of the golden skates' first appearance saved on his laptop.

God, he was pathetic, wasn't he?

(If only Victor knew.)

Yuuri took the pair that were offered to him. They were white leather, a bit beaten up but recently sharpened going by the metal of them. Yuuri eyed them, mild disapproval lurking; 'Did you-' Yuuri looked back up at Victor, stern. '-steal these?'

'Borrowed,' Victor purred, r's rolling all the way down Yuuri's back like a shiver. 'Put them on, please.'

Like Yuuri was in any position to refuse.

They changed in silence, backs to each other. Yuuri had brought his own training gear- loose black sweats and a deep red gym shirt he'd had far too long. It was slightly too big for him now. It was a bit surreal, getting dressed so modestly considering Victor and he had already slept together. But the whole thing reminded Yuuri vividly of the Grand Prix Final they'd shared, all that time ago.

(Not that Victor remembered. Apparently).

Yuuri had been so careful to avoid Victor then. Getting ready in the hotel, waiting until Victor had left the changing room before going in himself to put his skates on. Yuuri had wanted to impress him on that first meeting. Wanted Victor see him where Yuuri felt his most beautiful.

Back then, Yuuri had never felt more confident than he did on the ice. Under the heavy lights and sparkling sequins, any one who might've been watching or judging faded away. Nothing had mattered more than the skating itself. Yuuri had wanted so badly for Victor to see him through all that- to consider him an equal.

Needless to say, it didn't work out that way.

And now again, here Yuuri was. But things were different here. Yuuri knew how to be beautiful now, knew how to get someone's attention and it certainly wasn't on the ice.

But Yuuri couldn't help but feel he was stuck in a loop- some terrible cycle that brought him back and back again to skating and all the embarrassment it brought with it. Yuuri glowered over at the door at the far end of the room, the one leading to the rink.

Seemed like skating was just a curse Yuuri couldn't quite shake off.

'Ready?' Victor asked, throwing Yuuri out of his thoughts. Yuuri looked at him. Victor still looked gorgeous; tall in his skates and slender in black under-armour.  He had a hand reached out, waiting. Yuuri ran a hand over his hair, still styled back with gel, completely unsure.

'Sure,' he said anyway, taking Victor's hand.

Stepping out towards the rink was like stepping into some bizarre illusion. Some misremembered or half-dreamnt place. The space was so big. Only the emergency lights were on, two to three weak spotlights across the length of the ice's surface in a cold light, almost blue. The stands were empty and in darkness, like they didn't exist. As if the moon-like surface of the ice was the only world that was there. And Yuuri and Victor the only people in it.

Yuuri stopped and stared. He'd never seen a rink look this way before.

Victor continued without him, reaching the entry at the awning. His voice brought Yuuri back, calling Eros' name gently. Yuuri watched as Victor removed the guards from his skates, placing them on the awning and stepping out onto the ice. The only sound in the rink now was the whisper of Victor's skates, the gold voltaic in the eerie glow.

Victor only moved in slow, sweeping steps but he did so with purpose, finesse. He didn't skate far before he turned in a delicate circle, coming around to face Yuuri again. He looked how Yuuri had always wanted him to look, silver hair glowing and face open with excitement. Even in the sweats he was wearing, Victor's movements were obviously fluid and skilled. 

'Are you coming?'

Yuuri took a deep breath, before he removed his own guards and came onto the ice.

'I- I really don't skate,' Yuuri stuttered feebly, still trying to read Victor's expression for any hint that he might know more than he was letting on. But Victor was still smiling brightly, if anything he looked even happier at what Yuuri said. Corners of his lips curved as he skated over, halting gracefully before Yuuri.

'I'll teach you!' he said happily, taking both of Yuuri's hands and tugging him forward across the ice. Yuuri bent into the movement effortlessly, unable to fake a stumble in time.

'No, I know how!' Yuuri admitted before he could stop it and then mentally kicked himself.

Victor watched him closely, something that Yuuri thought might be hope in his eyes as Yuuri turned in his skates. Flickering almost green in the blue light. Yuuri flushed, panicked for a moment at his confession. He tried to pull his hands out of Victor's grip, but Victor just held on tighter. Yuuri continued, bumbling: 'I just- I mean I've never... I only skate at the local rink.'

That wasn't strictly speaking a lie.

Victor still looked pleased, smile growing wider. Bowed lip tucked in, like the top of a heart.

'Excellent! Then the hard part's already over! What can you do?' he pressed excitedly, guiding Yuuri across the ice with a grace that shook something deep inside of Yuuri. It rattled through him, stunning him for a moment, whatever it was.

Victor was speaking, but Yuuri was no longer listening.

Yuuri had always dreamed of this. To skate on the same ice as Victor Nikiforov. Last time he had the chance, it had barely registered that was what he was doing, his mind too caught up in what had happened at home and the pressure of the Grand Prix itself. This was worlds away from that. More than a world- it was a whole other life away. A whole new Yuuri.

But one thing was still the same- Victor had no idea who Yuuri was, current or otherwise.

Some part of Yuuri wondered if he should be offended, but he barely felt anything like it under the immense relief of knowing that Victor still had no inkling to his actual identity. Eros was still firmly in Victor's mind, underdog skater Katsuki Yuuri very much nonexistent. But this still all felt a bit dangerous.

Yuuri was toeing a very thin line, he knew. He couldn't help but be led though, Victor spreading his arms and turning Yuuri in a large counter across the ice.

'Do you know how to do any jumps?' Victor asked, facing Yuuri now and skating backwards as Yuuri followed him. Still holding hands, both sets of fingers tinted pink. Yuuri looked at them while they skated. Victor was very pale.

'No,' Yuuri lied. If he attempted any jumps in front of Victor, this close, with everything that had happened between them already, he would surely fall. And all Victor needed was to see Yuuri fall to jog his memory, Yuuri was convinced.

'Would you like to try to learn one?'

'Uh,' Yuuri replied, smoothly. Victor let go of Yuuri's hand, instead moving his hand up Yuuri's arm to pull Yuuri flush to his chest as Yuuri's momentum carried them both onward. Their skates bumped together and Victor was smiling so beautifully. Yuuri blushed instantly, minimal bravado officially spent.

Ice skating. It had to be ice skating. If Victor had brought Yuuri anywhere else this would be going very differently. Yuuri couldn't maintain his confidence on the ice, not anymore. Not even with Phichit being the only one to watch. And now Yuuri had Victor's full attention. Yuuri's stomach twisted with embarrassment.

This was much too close to who Yuuri really was; too far removed for the protective persona of Eros to shield him. In his own clothes, in the rink he'd competed in himself so long ago...

If only Victor knew the truth. He'd probably drop Yuuri so fast Yuuri would be dizzier from that than any spin Victor could teach him.

'Is that a yes?' Victor asked softly, face inching forward, their idle skating slowing to a stop. Yuuri thought back, trying to remember the question and not focus on the fact that Victor was probably going to kiss him.

Finally.

'Yes,' Yuuri said, to the kiss before he suddenly remembered that Victor had actually asked him if he wanted to learn any jumps. Yuuri jerked back to his senses, hands coming up to press against Victor's chest to make some space between them. 'I mean, no! No, no. That wouldn't be a good idea.'

Victor looked disappointed for a moment, before his brilliant smile was back. He followed Yuuri, closing the space again, both arms around Yuuri's waist this time.

'Are you sure? I'd be a great coach,' Victor said, all persuasion and Yuuri wondered, madly, what a life with Victor as a coach would be like.

Probably insane, if he was honest. Victor was a bit insane.

(Not that Yuuri minded, really).

'No,' Yuuri said again, a bit stronger. Victor huffed a small laugh at Yuuri's stubbornness, eyes creasing. Yuuri tried to think of a reason, settling on one almost randomly; 'What if I injure myself?'

That actually made sense. Yuuri ran with it.

'I can't really afford to have a broken ankle in my profession,' Yuuri replied, lowering his voice and aiming for a flirty tone. Trying to bring Eros to mind. But something dark crossed Victor's face for a moment and Yuuri felt his blood turn cold. Maybe he had misread the situation? But it was gone instantly, Victor smiling again and leaving Yuuri thinking that maybe he imagined it.

'Then I'll just have to be very careful with you,' Victor said, pushing off with momentum and carrying Yuuri forward with him. 'I'm just happy I have you here.'

Yuuri could not have dreamed, in all his years, that Victor Nikiforov would say that about him being on the ice. It was wonderful and Yuuri felt like his heart might burst from his chest with happiness at hearing it. All the nervousness he had felt melted away. Yuuri could even ignore how freezing his feet were, as he'd only brought one pair of socks.

Victor turned slowly around, skating alongside Yuuri and their hands swinging together between them. It was dreamlike, skating in the rink after hours. With the stark light all they had to guide them, the world narrowed down to a single point where Yuuri and Victor were, balancing on the edge of it.

For Yuuri, there was just Victor and the pale, blue light they circled in.

'You're quite the natural,' Victor said, skates hushed on the surface, letting Yuuri go as he turned on his skate in a small spin. Seemed he couldn't resist, arms boneless in their movement. Yuuri smiled at the sight, feeling that deep something churn inside him again.

'Nothing compared to you,' he confessed honestly. Victor met his eye, lips curling into a smirk.

'I only have one criticism,' Victor said, swooping in front of Yuuri, causing Yuuri to halt suddenly, body lurching forward into Victor's waiting arms. Victor caught him, fingers cold even through Yuuri's t-shirt. His hands slid up Yuuri's waist, moving to slip down his arms. Victor used Yuuri as an anchor as he skated behind him in one fluid movement, hair flowing just a little. He stood behind Yuuri, his chest to Yuuri's back. Yuuri's knees trembled.

'You're far too tense,' Victor whispered in Yuuri's ear, his cold nose trailing down the back of Yuuri's neck, lips ghosting on Yuuri's skin. He guided Yuuri's arms up and out, almost like a spread eagle. Victor's hands ran up and down Yuuri's arms, leaving goosebumps in his wake as he followed the lines of Yuuri's muscles.

'I guess I'm just not very confident,' Yuuri replied, holding the position Victor had put him in. Victor's fingers kept moving, up and down. Tracing small circles on Yuuri's wrists. 

'You're quite toned. You must exercise well.'

'I have to. I eat out a lot and gain weight easily,' Yuuri said quietly, like they were telling secrets, breath swirling in the cold of the rink. 'Not very attractive.'

'Hmm,' Victor hummed, voice rumbling down in his throat and his lips pressing against the back of Yuuri's neck. Yuuri gasped softly at the touch. It was weirdly intimate. 'I wouldn't mind it. I imagine you'd be quite cuddly.'

Yuuri was silent for a beat before he laughed lightly, nervous giggling at the ridiculousness of what Victor had just said.

'That's just- stupid.'

'I mean it,' Victor breathed against Yuuri's skin. His arms came down, encasing Yuuri's waist, hands splayed wide. Fingers hard, t-shirt twisting as Victor felt Yuuri's stomach, then his sides. Pressing his hands in like he was trying to map out Yuuri's bones. Yuuri arched backed, ass meeting Victor's groin and feeling the hardness there. Yuuri took a breath just as Victor's hitched behind him at the contact. They both stopped, just breathing.

'Tell me something else.'

'Like what?'

'Something like that. Something honest.'

Hands to Yuuri's hips, nose on his neck. Hot breath and it was like being drunk. Yuuri leant his head back, eyes slipping closed as he met Victor's shoulder. Victor bent low over him, like he was trying to catch Yuuri from a fall he hadn't taken yet.

'You don't ask for much, do you?' Yuuri said, tilting his head to let Victor closer.

'You give everyone what they ask for.'

Victor's hips rolled, just a fraction. Clothed cock scraping against Yuuri, the weight of it heady. A reminder? No, a promise.

'No one's ever asked me for that.'

'Then that was their mistake.'

Victor kissed Yuuri's neck, barely there and yet so warm that Yuuri shuddered from it. Teasing was rare for Yuuri, most sessions tending to lack foreplay. If this could be called foreplay. The grip on his hips tightened, dragging Yuuri further back into Victor's body. Victor's erection was curved down by his sweats, but it just pressed in at the cleft of Yuuri's ass. Even in his skates, Yuuri could only catch up to Victor's height.

Yuuri felt his own cock start to fill from the touch, the anticipation of being so close, feeling everything. The knowledge of who he was with. The memory of the night before. Everything coming together in liquid, pooling heat. Breathing turning heavy as one of Victor's hands traveled lower, across his stomach, down his abdomen. So slowly and so hard, like he was trying to carve Yuuri out.

Blade through the ice. Memory of having Victor inside of him, thick and throbbing. Yuuri whimpered, wanting.

'Ask me again,' Yuuri blew out between his lips, feeling the graze of Victor's teeth against his jugular causing his breath to speed up. Victor's hand finally made it down where Yuuri wanted it, palm up and firm against Yuuri's half-hard cock.

Victor's other hand came up to Yuuri's neck, fingers spread as he tilted Yuuri's head back even further. He applied a little bit of pressure, Yuuri very conscious of his Adam's apple as it was pressed down into his throat. It felt reckless, to let a client do this- but Victor wasn't just any client. The thought of how strong Victor was, of how easily he could overpower Yuuri but he didn't only made Yuuri moan with the expectation, cock growing into Victor's waiting hand.

Yuuri finally moved his hands, one coming up to find Victor's hair and the other gripping the wrist of the hand he was starting to rut into.

'Tell me something true, miliy,' Victor growled into Yuuri's throat, tongue following the words to leave open, wet kisses there. He started sucking, skin between his lips pinching. Yuuri's hips bucked forward of their own accord, meeting the resistance of Victor's hand pressing down, rough and hot. The friction was so good, but Yuuri wanted more of it.

'Vi- ah, Victor!' Yuuri breathed and Victor rocked forward at the sound of his name, his own hardness sending sparks through Yuuri. 

'The way you say my name,' Victor breathed, words hot and damp. Yuuri shuddered beneath them, trembling all the way down. Victor pushed against Yuuri's straining sweats, shoving him back into Victor's own arousal.

This close, Yuuri could smell the cologne Victor was wearing. The heat of his skin. It was intoxicating. Yuuri wanted the scent of it to cling to him, wondered if he could find it on his clothes later.

Victor almost growled, releasing Yuuri's neck. Accent serrated; 'I could fuck you right here. Would you let me?' 

Yuuri whimpered as Victor rolled his hips forward, dragging his clothed cock against Yuuri's ass. Yuuri would let Victor split him open if he asked, he was sure.

'What if-' Yuuri groaned as Victor tightened his grip, Yuuri's cock throbbing under the attention. He held onto Victor's wrist, not stopping him. Just holding, tightly. 'Someone might see us.'

'There's no one here' Victor said, voice thick. Victor started to roll his hand slowly, fingers cupping now. Yuuri found himself whimpering, almost whining with want.

Sex with other people had never been like this before. Sometimes it was good, rarer times it was great.

But this? This was different. Different even from last night.

Last night, Yuuri had been in his element. Hotels, local sex parties. Eros' clothes, Eros' friends and Eros' life that Victor was visiting. It was Eros Victor had brought to bed; Yuuri acting out the fantasy he'd had a thousand times through Eros' actions.

Here on the ice though, in his old gym gear and the almost-dark, Yuuri had never felt further from that. Here, right now, Yuuri almost felt like himself.

And Yuuri wanted to be.

Maybe it was Victor. Maybe it was the fact that it was Victor. But everywhere Yuuri was touching him felt like his skin was burning, bubbling over with something akin to pins and needles. Something hungry awakening inside, desperate to devour anything and everything Victor would offer.

Yuuri wanted Victor fuck him again, wanted Victor to touch everywhere and take his time. Wanted to smell like Victor and his sweat, wanted to feel the burn Victor would give him for days.

It was mad and primal. But Yuuri wanted it. All of it, all over again.

And Victor still hadn't even kissed him yet. Yuuri didn't think he'd ever wanted someone to kiss him as much as he wanted Victor to do so now.

'You still haven't told me anything,' Victor rumbled, hips pushing against Yuuri and their skates slipped beneath them, moving forward.

Yuuri had to think for a moment about that before he remembered Victor's request.

'I want you to kiss me,' Yuuri said, entirely honestly. Yuuri opened his eyes, turning his face to see if he could see Victor's, but the angle was too sharp, Victor's face still buried in Yuuri's neck.

Victor huffed a small laugh, breath wet. Yuuri shivered, eyes squinting at the mass of silver hair.

'That's cheating.'

'Maybe,' Yuuri said with a rasp, gripping Victor's hair tighter and pulling his head up so Yuuri could try and see him. Victor gasped at that, his erection twitching behind Yuuri. Yuuri smiled, understanding and confidence beginning to slip it's way back in. 'Yeah?'

'Yes,' Victor growled, teeth baring down onto Yuuri's neck as Yuuri tugged on his hair. Yuuri yelped as Victor bit him, much too loud and it echoed through the rink. His collarbone felt almost ticklish beneath the assault, causing Yuuri to arch his back. Victor's rubbing on Yuuri's cock grew more erratic and hard, friction so good. Pushing Yuuri back into Victor's waiting hardness in a constant wave.

'We should get off the ice,' Yuuri panted, very afraid he wouldn't last much longer with the way Victor was taking advantage.

'You seem perfectly happy where you are,' Victor said and Yuuri could feel him smiling. 'Tell me how it feels.'

Victor ran his hand up along Yuuri's length and for one awful moment, Yuuri thought he was stopping altogether. But instead, Victor only moved to slip his hand beneath the waistband of Yuuri's trousers. Yuuri gasped at the chill, whining at the contact.

Victor pulled Yuuri's cock up, fisting it so slow and massaging the foreskin. Skin prickling with the sensation of cold fingers. It was awkward, but then Yuuri could feel himself getting a little wet at the tip from the attention anyway, mewl turning to a low keen, deep in his chest.

'G-good,' Yuuri managed to get out, eyes closing again as Victor began to move a bit faster. Victor's grip on Yuuri's throat tightened, just slightly. It felt possessive, grasping like that. Yuuri imagined there'd be a mark, (he knew there wouldn't be), but there was something about the image of Victor Nikiforov's fingerprints on him that made his toes curl in his skates.

Yuuri thrust into Victor's hand, thought igniting a pleasure in him he didn't even consider. 'Feels good. God. You f-feel good.'

A firm thumb ran over the head of Yuuri''s cock, spreading the slick there and Yuuri's head bent further back, almost off Victor's shoulder entirely as he gasped with the sudden rush the feeling gave him. Victor's grip on his neck was so firm now, Yuuri's head bent so far back, that it was a struggle to make any noise. Just deep, guttural whines, spurting up through him as Victor pulled and twisted. With each stroke, Yuuri felt like was getting hotter and hotter. Skin aflame, stomach tying itself into tight, little knots.

'I want-' Yuuri panted, eyes squeezed shut and not entirely sure what he was asking for. More, anyway. His hips thrust forward, only to fall back against the firm line of Victor's own need. Need for Yuuri.  

'Tell me what you want, kotenok,'  Victor purred, sounding very pleased with himself, like he knew exactly what the Russian would do to Yuuri. Yuuri canted his hips back in retaliation, loving the hum Victor let out as Yuuri rubbed his body along Victor's cock. That, Yuuri thought. He wanted more of that. Victor squeezed, both Yuuri's hardness and his neck, and all thought fell away from the spark it gave.

'Don't- don't stop, oh!' Yuuri got out, barely. His voice was stretched too thin by the pressure on his throat, breath coming out in desperate little puffs of ah ah ah's. 

Victor made a strangled sort of sound as Yuuri pushed back again, firmer. Yuuri released the silver hair he so admired to trail his hand down the back of Victor's head, holding his lips to Yuuri's neck where they were kissing him again. Yuuri was going to have a mark there, or at least be red.

The thought of that, of carrying a kiss from Victor Nikiforov like a signature caused Yuuri's back to arch, cock slipping with sweat slick in Victor's hand, fingers tight.

'Come for me,' Victor asked, downright sinful. Yuuri moaned as Victor picked up his pace. 'God, you smell amazing.'

Victor breathed in deeply, kisses sloppy now. Wet, sucking things on the place where Yuuri's neck met his jaw. So close to what Yuuri wanted, but not quite there. It was all getting too much now, Yuuri's thrusting turning frantic as Victor's grip was just right, thumb teasing just between the slit.

Then Victor squeezed the base of Yuuri's cock, bruising almost and Yuuri came, hot and bursting and suddenly. He cried out, noise almost a wail. It filled the space around them, echoing even as Yuuri's panting chased after it. Victor stopped, his hips twitching against Yuuri's back.

For a moment, Yuuri couldn't think of anything. Victor still hadn't released him, hand on his cock now cupping slightly, almost protective and other still around Yuuri's throat. The slick was sticky and warm between them; still so erotic. Yuuri leant back, boneless and happy. So happy. His own arms fell, knees buckling underneath him.

Victor moved, hand down from Yuuri's throat and arm around his waist, holding Yuuri flush. Holding Yuuri safe.

Victor kissed Yuuri chastely on the cheek, breathing hotly; 'That was perfect. You're perfect.'

Yuuri was too warm to blush anymore, but he would've if he could under that kind of praise. Hearing such a thing from Victor- it did things to Yuuri. Probably bad things but ohsogood things, too. 

He'd never been with someone he liked this much before. 

Yuuri kept his eyes closed, taking his turn to bury into Victor's neck. Victor smelled good, too, like before. Yuuri half-considered saying so before reality began to come together around him. Namely the cold, especially in the wake of such wetness. Then-

Yuuri twisted in Victor's grip, hands coming loose around him and Victor's releasing him all over.

'I'm sorry! I should've used a condom,' Yuuri said, panic too present for him to register any embarrassment. The heat of the moment was well and truly over. Yuuri was a professionalhe should never have let himself be so careless. He'd let the situation get away from him.

Victor just looked at him for a moment, blue eyes staring but then his whole face folded happily. Yuuri's dread loosened at the sight, slipping away though he knew it shouldn't. Yuuri swallowed thickly, looking at the skin of Victor's throat.

'You're really something, miliy,' Victor said as he shook his head. Then, Victor was leaning forward. He kissed Yuuri on the head, Yuuri relaxing underneath it. He'd gotten these kind of kisses before; he knew what to do with this.

Yuuri slipped a hand down Victor's chest, teasing at the top of his waistband. 'Do you want me to-?'

Yuuri didn't finish, but Victor got the meaning. But instead of agreeing, like Yuuri expected, Victor laughed quietly, cheeks turning delicately red.

'I've al- ah, I'm alright,' Victor said, a hand coming to rub the back of his neck. He looked a little sheepish, very far from the man Yuuri had watched for so long through the camera lens. Yuuri blinked for a moment before his mouth opened in realisation.

Victor had- because of Yuuri! Yuuri flushed himself, glad he was already red. Victor chuckled again. 

'We should go clean up,' Victor whispered, like all of a sudden he cared about being discreet. He kissed Yuuri's forehead again, lingering. Yuuri sighed, satisfied, before he could stop himself.

He was about to push out of Victor's grip when he paused, taking a small chance. Or maybe a liberty. But really, Yuuri was in a very unique situation and he'd only regret it if he didn't use these opportunities as they came. Yuuri leant up, pressing his lips to the corner of Victor's mouth. He could just taste the edge of his lips, brushing against the barely-there stubble.

When Yuuri pulled back, Victor's eyes were closed and he looked dazed. Yuuri swallowed his nerves about it all, reminding himself firmly that seducing people was what he did. Victor should be no different.

'If we clean up quickly, will you do something for me?' Yuuri asked, taking care to make sure his voice didn't tremble.

'Anything,' Victor replied and with such fervour that Yuuri almost believed him. Victor opened his eyes, blue hooded in the stark shadows.

'Skate for me,' Yuuri requested, breathless with desire to see it.

To see Victor Nikiforov move across the ice, no one to see but Yuuri and only because Yuuri asked.

Victor grinned, teeth sharp.

'Of course.'

 


 

Victor would skate his short-program for Eros.

It was only fitting. Felicitous, really.

He knew Eros wouldn't know the program, not being familiar with Victor's career and thus not his performance or it's narrative. (Certainly not it's name). But Victor liked to think it got the message across.

Eros was waiting for Victor by the rink when Victor came back out, (fresh sweats- his official Russian gear this time. The red was a bit garish, judging by Eros' raised eyebrows).

In the severe light of the rink, Eros looked ethereal. Pale skin glowing, dark hair back and eyes burnt like coals. He looked remarkably put together for a person who had just had an orgasm under Victor's hands. It made Victor want to make a mess of him all over again.

Victor took Eros' hand briefly as he took back to the ice, slipping his blade-guards in Eros' small hands. Eros took them almost reverently and something sharp went through Victor's heart.

It stunned him, just for a moment.

Breathing out gently, Victor left Eros at the awning and skated to the centre of the rink, adopting form. Back curved, right leg bent with arms down in a loose frame.

Then he started, every note in his head as he moved.

Every time he could during the skate, Victor tried to catch Eros' eyes. Even in the dark of the rink, the light was caught in them. Fireflies in a jar. Like from movies. Eros never looked away, his mouth a little open as he watched. Victor clapped his hands above his head after the first counter from the opening step sequence, heart skipping a beat at Eros' small noise from the awning. So loud in the quiet.

Victor felt something he hadn't felt while skating in a long time. Pride.

Victor was proud of his skill, of his ability. When Victor tapered off from the step-sequence into the camel spin, Victor felt his heart speed up with adrenaline and excitement. Excitement. There was something about knowing that Eros was watching, that he was impressed that triggered something inside of Victor. Something he thought might've been dormant.

Skating for Eros was... fun.

As he took off for the first jump, Victor listened out for Eros again in the quiet of the rink. Between the sped whispers of his skates and the loud clip of his landing, Victor heard the gasp he was looking for. Victor grinned, effortlessly embracing his character. The character he'd been struggling with for so long.

When Victor had first designed this program, he'd had a very particular story in mind. Something he'd never decided to share on the ice before. Victor had wanted to surprise his audience, wanting to reveal something new to them.

Show them the side of Victor everyone craved to see- the playboy, the seducer. Why let the gossip rags speculate when Victor could just sign a confession on the ice?

But now Victor wanted something else. Victor was no longer interested in showing the world what he could do. The world knew what Victor could do.

Victor wanted to show them something- someone new.

He wanted to carry what Eros himself had shown him into the performance. Tell a different story, even it didn't really belong to Victor. As Victor moved through a counter, he draped his arms to try and echo the way Eros had spun on the dance floor the night before. Invitation, not command.

Victor bent his head back as he twirled on the ice, building momentum for the quadruple flip. Remembered how Eros had looked, just moments ago, mouth open and breath cloudy as he came. Submission.

Victor wanted to submit to Eros, but he also wanted Eros to return the favour. Victor was sure he could convince Eros to do it.

Eros had already been so different tonight from their last meeting, clearly out of his comfort zone by doing something new. The man beneath the persona could be nervous, shy even. Victor adored the contradiction, desperately wanting to explore the space between both sides.

He wanted Eros to let him. To trust Victor like he had tonight.

Another camel spin, arm flat against his body. Victor thought of a ballet barre.

Eros was still careful, despite everything. Ballet poise in everything he did. Still hidden beneath his carefully constructed walls. Victor had hoped he'd have gotten to know more about Eros as a person, as a dancer.

But they still had time. A whole other night, even, ahead of them. Victor would get another chance.

Victor moved into the final sequence, casting off his imaginary lover and turning into a tight spin before halting, fringe flared. In the wake of the silence, only Victor's laboured breathing filled the space.

Then-

'Victor!'

Victor looked over to see Eros was almost falling onto the ice he was leaning so far over the awning. His face was split open into a broad smile, eyebrows raised and it was like a book had fallen, revealing all the pages. Eros looked delighted. Like Victor's performance had all he'd ever been waiting for. Victor grinned back, enamoured with Eros' earnestness. A more than suitable reward.

Victor really hoped he wasn't doing it on purpose.

Victor wiped his forehead with the back of his hand as he skated back over towards Eros, fringe sticking to the skin. He made it to the awning, skates bumping into it and hands coming down for grip on it's edge.

'So, what did you-'

Two hands fisted in his shirt, tugging Victor forward so fast that his skates nearly fell out from under him. Eros was pulling Victor down and using the leverage to push himself up as their lips met in a hard clash.

Eros' lips were hot and insisting, tongue running along the seam of Victor's mouth. Victor took a moment, shocked with Eros' forwardness, but then completely melted into it. He opened his mouth, accommodating Eros enthusiastically. It was wet and bold, almost violent. Like Eros was trying to pull something out of him and the whole thing had Victor groaning into Eros' open mouth.

Victor was putting off kissing Eros. Not to tease him or anything, (alright, maybe to tease a little), but because Victor wanted to test his own anticipation. Wanted to create that yearning, that build up, hoping in the process to weaken Eros' resolve. The longer Victor could keep him waiting, maybe the further Eros would be from his usual client experience.

Victor was waiting for the right time, wanted to take his time. Open Eros up and see who was hiding beneath.

All that had gone well and truly out the window, because Eros was kissing him right now and be damned if Victor was going to stop him.

Victor pressed his body flush against the awning to try and cool down, but Eros' little mewls did nothing to help. Obviously Victor's plan of wanting Eros to want it had worked. Victor grinned beneath the assault Eros was making on his lips, pleased to have gotten such a reaction.

He brought his arms around Eros' waist, consistently surprised with how narrow it was. He thought randomly of what Eros had said earlier in the night, about having to watch his weight. Victor felt that with the right training, with the right person to help him, he wouldn't have to worry so much.

Skating was a great way to stay in shape, after all.

He held Eros to him as they kissed, dirty lapping slowly beginning to chasten, lips coming together. It sent shivers down through Victor as he realised suddenly that he had actually gotten what he wanted; Eros had lost control.

Watching Victor skate had moved Eros so much that he just had to kiss Victor, had to touch. The thought was as humbling as it was satisfying.

Eros drove one last, powerful kiss against Victor's lips before he pulled back, breath tumbling out of him. His brown eyes were swirling, face pink and carefully styled hair beginning to fray from it's gel. He looked utterly ravished and Victor's stomach rolled with pleasure at the sight of it.

'You never cease to surprise me,' Eros whispered, still woven into Victor's shirt. He sounded so wistful, almost like he was confessing something and Victor's heart did a skip. 

Victor pulled Eros forward, almost lifting him off the ground and back across the ice over the awning's wall. He felt warm, soft in places. Victor wanted to reacquaint himself with those places.

'Good,' Victor said genuinely. 'I hope I can keep doing so.'

Eros was smiling, almost looking disbelieving. It was endearing, teetering on adorable. Victor wanted to know how many other people Eros had shown this face to. He hoped not many. He really hoped not many. Victor had the sudden urge to gather Eros into his arms, steal him away somewhere private so he could have him to himself. 

Victor caught the thought quickly. That was creepy. He was being creepy. Victor couldn't possess an expression and he definitely couldn't kidnap his escort. 

That was- really, really bad. Like there were laws for that. Victor frowned at his at his own insanity. 

Eros hadn't noticied Victor's internal meltdown, thankfully. One of Eros' hands came up, holding Victor's face. He was rubbing small circles with his thumb, eyes on Victor's lips and looking thoughtful. Victor wondered if this was another act, another routine of Eros' or if it was genuine. He tried not to wonder, he really did. (But it was hard). 

'Please do,' Eros said quietly, brown eyes shooting up and meeting Victor's gaze. Victor's arms tightened reflexively around Eros, enjoying the feel perhaps too much. Eros smiled; a small, fragile looking thing. Lips twitching up, pink cheeks aflame. 'One surprise after another. If you don't mind.'

Victor put the thoughts of Eros' reality, (the fact that he was being paid to be there, that he was paid to be other places, too), out of his mind, instead focusing on what was immediately in front of him.

And what was immediately in front of him was a very beautiful, very warm man who just kissed him so truly Victor could still feel it.

'Anything. Anything you want.'

It should scare Victor how much he meant what he said. It really should.

 


 

Leaving Victor at the hotel was so difficult. Yuuri felt like he'd cheated Victor somehow, that he hadn't lived up to expectation.

After all, Victor had skated for Yuuri. Not only that, but he skated his competitive short-program. It made Yuuri embarrassed to call himself Eros when faced with the real thing. Not that Yuuri could say any of that, of course.

Victor continued to assure Yuuri that all he had wanted was to see Yuuri like that. Victor told Yuuri that what he wanted to was to give Yuuri a date he'd never had before.

That was wonderful in of itself, but then Victor leaned in close, voice rough as he told Yuuri that nothing could compare to holding Yuuri's body while he came and that he very much wanted the pleasure of doing so again. That knocked the wind right out of Yuuri, even banishing the awe Yuuri still felt at Victor's skating skill.  He hadn't known what to say to it, embarrassed by the blush he felt coming, so instead Yuuri just linked his arm with Victor's, resting his head on Victor's shoulder to hide his face.

Going by the hum of approval he got at the time, it seemed to be enough of a thank you for Victor.

They'd walked a small bit of the way before Victor waved down a taxi. The hotel really wasn't far, only a twenty-minute walk. But so close to one in the morning, the air had turned baltic and Yuuri had wished he brought a thicker coat. He really hadn't thought they'd still be out by this time.

The taxi had pulled up to the hotel some ten minutes later and now Yuuri found himself standing before the hotel entrance door, Victor's hands clutched in his own.

'You should come in,' Victor said quietly, tugging Yuuri just a bit. Yuuri laughed, breath pillowed out in the cold.

'I really hadn't intended to stay the night,' Yuuri replied, professional coy easy now that Yuuri was back in Eros' clothes and in front of a hotel. Victor almost looked like he was pouting and Yuuri felt himself smiling at it.

'I can make it worth your while,' Victor purred, taking a step forward to kiss Yuuri. Lips soft, tongue just teasing. But it still made Yuuri's knees tremble.

Yuuri wanted to. He really wanted to. If they continued the pace they'd started back at the rink, Yuuri knew that the sex would be more than great. It would mind-blowing. His stomach flipped at the thought, memories of what it felt like to have Victor fuck into him suddenly very vivid and Yuuri desperately wanted to know what else Victor could do to him.

In the wake of all that the prospect of another night with Victor held, Yuuri almost forgot his promise. Almost.

'I have a prior engagement,' Yuuri confessed, hating the way Victor's teasing smile faltered at the words. Yuuri squeezed Victor's hands, before he gently disentangled himself. 'You should sleep anyway. Your competition is tomorrow and I've already kept you up far too late.'

'I assure you, I regret nothing,' Victor said, eyes blazing for a moment as he moved, stealing another kiss.

This one was hard, lips closed but face bruising against Yuuri's, hands gripping Yuuri's shoulders. Yuuri couldn't even open his mouth under the force of it and an unbidden whimper rose from his throat. Then Victor was gone- leaving Yuuri's lips burning.

'Tomorrow,' Victor said, voice husky and all the r's rolling together. 'Don't prepare in advance.'

Yuuri didn't understand, but before he could say so, Victor leaned up to whisper roughly in his ear.

'I missed the chance to open you up last night. I'd very much like it if you'd let me have the honour tomorrow.'

Comprehension dawned and red hot desire spiked right through Yuuri's stomach, twisting arousal deep in his gut. 

'I can't wait to see you again.'

'Me, too,' Yuuri whispered weakly in response as Victor released him, turning his back slowly before he walked into the hotel. The doorman held open the swing door, (the only one open so late), nodding to Victor as vanished into the warm light of the building.

Yuuri stood outside still, heart pounding, gut throbbing and mouth tingling.

'Popular, aren't you?' The doorman said as he replaced the door, turning to give Yuuri an amused look. Yuuri touched the tips of his fingers to his mouth, tracing out the place where Victor had kissed him.

'Looks like,' Yuuri said, dazed. Yuuri shook his head, trying to gather his thoughts. Victor was a client, a client Yuuri would see tomorrow. He needed to get a goddamn grip. 'Can you call me a taxi, Ben?'

The doorman raised an eyebrow, smiling kindly as he motioned down the street with his gloved hand.

'That black car on the corner is for you.'

Yuuri reached into his inner coat pocket, fumbling in the cold as he pulled some dollars out. He stepped over and handed the folded notes to Ben, who raised a hand as if in protest but Yuuri spoke before he could; 'Please take it. You're always looking out for me. I'd have died from pneumonia by now if it wasn't for you.'

Ben was in his late forties- broad shouldered and closely cut hair, with the darkest skin Yuuri had ever seen on someone. His eyes were the colour of caramel. He laughed at Yuuri as he took the money, slipping it into the pocket of his thick black coat.

'Someone's gotta watch out for you, son.'

'How lucky I am to have you then?' Yuuri said genuinely, before waving goodbye and heading down the street towards the cab.

The journey home felt timeless. Like a dream. Yuuri swam in the memories of the night, of Victor's hands and how safe he'd felt cradled in Victor's arms. There was pleasure and then there was- whatever it was that made Yuuri's blood feel like it was gasoline that had just caught fire. Yuuri grinned to himself as he stared out the window, squeezing the strap of his gear bag in excitement.

He had a whole other day more to go.

Yuuri walked into the apartment at exactly 1:29AM.

He shouldn't have been surprised, really. But Yuuri still cried out when he saw Phichit waiting for him on the couch, watching something on his laptop and one of his hamsters nestled in his pyjama top. Phichit smiled tightly at Yuuri and closed his laptop while Yuuri stuttered, pointing at Phichit accusingly.

'You- you should be in bed!'

'I had to wait for you! Cutting it kind of fine, weren't you?'

'Your short-program is tomorrow! You have to be at the rink at half seven, what are you doing?!' Yuuri asked manically, dropping his gear bag to stalk over to the couch. Yuuri carefully plucked the hamster from Phichit's chest, ignoring his protests as he turned to the coffee table to replace Tibbles in his cage. Yuuri put his hands on his hips after, glaring down at Phichit on the couch who did not look remotely sorry.

'Get to bed.'

'Are you actually mad?' Phichit said, dark eyes shining with amusement and Yuuri huffed. He reached down, grabbing Phichit by the arms and pulling him up, laptop falling to the couch cushions.

'Bed. Now,' Yuuri said sternly, pulling Phichit down the hall.

'I told you! I had to wait for you,' Phichit said, laughing a little. Yuuri shook his head, not impressed.

'No, you didn't.'

'Yes. I did,' Phichit said, tone suddenly stern.

He stopped half way down the hall. Yuuri paused, glancing around the bare walls of the hall before he turned back to face Phichit. Phichit's face was hard to read in the dark, the only light coming from the lamp around the corner in the living room. Yuuri couldn't see Phichit very clearly, but the air between them felt chilled. Phichit folded his arms and Yuuri could feel he was glaring.

'I had to make sure you were safe.'

Yuuri felt guilt. Heavy, leaden and weighing him down from his chest all the way to his stomach.

'I'm always safe,' Yuuri replied softly, tugging awkwardly at the cuffs of his coat.

'You don't know that. Not for certain,' Phichit said, before he stepped forward. He hugged Yuuri, arms around Yuuri's shoulders and breath warm against the side of his neck. 'Someone's gotta look out for you.'

Yuuri wanted to tell Phichit that that someone didn't have to be him. That what Yuuri did for a living shouldn't interfere with Phichit and his life, that it was the last thing Yuuri wanted. But right now, with his best-friend holding him so tightly, in the dark- Yuuri found he just couldn't muster the words.

'Thank you, Phichit.'

'You're welcome,' Phichit said, releasing Yuuri. 'Did you have a good- uh, whatever it was?'

Yuuri thought of his evening. Dinner and flirting, the way Victor spoke so quick with his hands waving. He thought of the way the rink had looked, the same rink Phichit would skate at in a mere ten hours time. Blue, alien and empty. He thought of Victor's hands, his lips and the way he used Russian petnames. Yuuri smiled broadly, a very small hum of pleasure coming with it.

There was no time to explain everything. Phichit would want to know every little detail- how it started, how Yuuri felt. But there was no time now. Phichit needed to sleep, or Yuuri's worst fears would come true.

'I did,' Yuuri said, squeezing Phichit's shoulders as he guided him down to the bedrooms. 'And I promise to tell you all about it. But not now. You need to sleep.'

 



The alarm went off at five am and Yuuri wanted to die.

It was too early. God. But Yuuri knew he had to get up, as tired as he was. Groggy with exhaustion, Yuuri disengaged himself from the comfort of his bed to go and open the curtains. For all the good it did, as this late in October the sun still hadn't come up. Yuuri hated getting up early. He didn't care what anyone said- getting up when it was still dark was depressing.

Unfortunately, depressing or not, Yuuri had to get up and go back to the Westin. He'd left his other bag there and he needed to check out before making his way to Skate America for Phichit's performance.

Yuuri stumbled over to his suitcase on the floor, pulling out a pair of jeans and an old brown jumper. He had the day off- no one to impress today. Eros' clothes remained hanging in the wardrobe, the only clothes Yuuri had bothered to unpack yet. Yuuri would have no use for them until after the short-program. While tugging his jumper over his head, Yuuri thought of the night before. He grinned to himself, cheeks heating up with the memory of Victor.

Yuuri would be lying if he said he couldn't wait for their next appointment.

(Sorry, Phichit).

Yuuri padded down to the living room in search of his trainers which he was sure he'd left there. There he found Phichit, already awake and by the smell of it, making coffee. The kitchen was much too bright with the lights on and the curtains of the living space open, even if it was just to let streetlight in. Yuuri rubbed at his eyes, wiping the last of the sleep from them as a yawn rose up out of him.

'Ph-a-awh. What are you doing?' Yuuri gaped dozily as Phichit looked up from his phone. Phichit was already in his gear, black nylon tracks shining slightly in the artificial light. He was leaning across the island of the kitchen, looking remarkably calm. He smiled brightly and Yuuri groaned in preparation. Phichit was a morning person.

'Morning!' Phichit exclaimed, standing up and saluting Yuuri. Yuuri grumbled in response, fishing his glasses out of his pocket to slip them so to see his flat-mate better. That was a mistake, as now he could really see how chipper Phichit was.
 
'Coffee,' Yuuri muttered, rounding the island and bypassing Phichit entirely to reach the small coffee pot. Going by the completely barren space of the kitchen, it was the only thing Phichit had thought to unpack. Yuuri thought about that for a moment, before turning to look at the boxes on the other side of the room. They had been moved around, one of the bigger ones opened. Yuuri glanced at Phichit, who was back to scrolling. 'Did you unpack any mugs?'

Phichit paused in his tweeting, (or Instagramming, or Facebooking, or whatever). He looked over at Yuuri, perhaps a little evilly; 'I unpacked my mug.'

Yuuri thought as much. Not that he was in a position to complain, mind.

Sighing, Yuuri went back around the island, past the couch and into the opened box. After fishing around for a moment, Yuuri managed to pull out a heavily bubble-wrapped piece of crockery. Ugh, why did he have to be so meticulous?

After finally having the satisfaction of his first sip of coffee, (even if it was extremely bitter as Phichit also hadn't thought to buy milk), Yuuri readjusted his glasses as he surveyed Phichit from where he had perched himself on the countertop.

'Why are you even up? You don't have to sign in until half seven.'

'Early bird, you know!' Phichit replied, like that answered everything. Yuuri rolled his eyes and took another sip of coffee. 'Besides, I couldn't sleep anymore. Too pumped for today, I guess. What about you?'

Yuuri frowned at his coffee, picking at a stray piece of tape on the mug's porcelain; 'What about me?'

'Why are you awake?'

'I have to pick something up,' Yuuri replied, sipping his coffee and still lamenting the lack of milk. 'You should've slept in. You were up too late.'

'So were you,' Phichit replied darkly and Yuuri could see him frowning. Yuuri chewed the inside of his lip, unsure of what to say to that. He took another long, silent sip of coffee. Phichit refreshed his phone, eyes still on it but he shifted slightly in his leaning on the island. Yuuri waited. 'So. You going to tell me about your evening? It's okay, there are no children around.'

Yuuri licked his lips, nervous. How exactly was he supposed to explain that he'd spent his evening in an abandoned ice-rink with Victor Nikiforov giving him the single greatest hand-job he'd ever had in his life? An event that was then followed by a private performance by said Victor Nikiforov?

And it all started with dinner at Phichit's most hateful restaurant.

'Um,' Yuuri said instead and Phichit rolled his eyes, turning to face Yuuri properly and giving him a look. Yuuri blushed under the scrutiny. 'I- uh, don't really know where to start to be honest.'

Phichit shifted from one foot to the other. Arms awkward, one fidgeting with his phone and the other swinging aimlessly. Phichit then stamped a foot childishly and put his hands on his hips. 'Well, I don't know how to do this either! But we're going to try, okay?'

Yuuri started at Phichit's sudden burst of emotion, jumping and sloshing coffee in his mug. Yuuri swallowed, throat feeling thick and stomach turning a little with nerves. He knew he had to earn Phichit's trust back. But he'd spent years keeping this secret- his own private, fantasy life. It was hard to open up, harder than Yuuri had first imagined. It was like the words were stuck, too big to work his mouth around.

After a moment of thinking, Yuuri tried something.

'How about you ask me about something particular? And I'll answer you,' Yuuri suggested, making himself meet Phichit's gaze. Phichit touched his chin, mulling it over. Then he nodded, a determined look on his face.

'Okay! That sounds good,' Phichit said, the first sign of a smile twitching and the sight of it made Yuuri feel like the knot his stomach was twisted into loosened. 'We'll start easy. Man or woman?'

'Man,' Yuuri answered, his mind unhelpfully prompting the memory of Victor's very stiff cock pressed against his back. He took a sip of coffee to hide his red face, arousal certainly not something he should entertain while wearing jeans at half five in the morning.

'Good looking?'

'Very,' Yuuri said immediately, thinking of the posters of Victor he still hadn't unpacked. 'Beautiful, actually.'

Phichit made a face at that, a cross between impressed and embarrassment. It was strangely endearing and Yuuri actually felt like he might smile. Phichit pursed his lips, thinking for a moment before his next question.

'Did you go out? Like on a date? Or was it, like...?' Phichit trailed off, no longer looking at Yuuri. Instead he focused on the fridge. Yuuri laughed once, not able to help himself though he knew it probably didn't help Phichit at all. Phichit flushed red and did meet Yuuri's eye this time, face stubborn. 'Give me a break here, I'm trying!'

'I know, I know! I'm sorry,' Yuuri said, putting the mug down on the counter next to him, hands between his swinging legs. 'We went for dinner. And then-' Yuuri bit his lip, but then decided. 'We went ice skating.'

Phichit's mouth fell open. A perfect little oh of shock.

'You? You went ice skating? While working as an escort, you went ice skating?!'

'Uh, yeah.'

'Alright. So ignoring the obvious insanity of that, I thought you'd have to- I mean, doesn't being escort mean sex?' Phichit muttered the last word, like there was the smallest chance someone might hear him. Yuuri began to tense, shoulders creeping up with insecurity.

'Well,' Yuuri said slowly, word drawn out. It was mortifying; talking about this with Phichit, with anyone. When Yuuri was Eros- it was being a different person. A different person with a different life. Secret and more than private. Like the truth was written on Yuuri's bones, where only he could feel it.

But Yuuri had given that up. He made the choice to tell Phichit. And now he had to honour that.

'There was... you know,' Yuuri started, lamely and he could feel his blush creeping up. 'We did. Have- A little.'

'You had a little sex?' Phichit asked, tone disbelieving. Yuuri shrugged, uncertain of how the conversation would turn from here. Then, Phichit laughed and it was so unexpected that Yuuri almost fell off the counter entirely. Phichit ran a hand over his face, laughs now turning slightly hysterical and Yuuri was beginning to panic now.

He'd done it. He'd completely broke Phichit down the day of his Grand Prix qualifier. Yuuri felt sick.

'I used to think I knew everything about you,' Phichit said, eyes shining with tears as his laughs subsided slowly. He looked at Yuuri fondly, but Yuuri still found himself wary. Not entirely trusting the situation yet. Phichit took a deep breath, chest puffing out. 'Out of the blue, you tell me all this. But you're still you. You're still Yuuri.'

'Of course I am,' Yuuri replied, quietly like speaking too loud would burst the treacherously hopeful bubble that beginning to form around him.

Phichit was smiling, broad and amused. Yuuri felt relief and slid off the countertop, socks meeting the hardwood floor in a whisper. He stood awkwardly for a moment before making up his mind and he crossed the small space of the kitchen hugging Phichit tightly, arms around Phichit's waist. Phichit made a small oof at the suddent contact, but he hugged Yuuri back almost instantly.

'You're insane,' Phichit said, but he sounded happy about it.

'Probably,' Yuuri agreed as he released Phichit, who looked down at his phone as it beeped.

'I have to go now. I said I'd meet some of the other first-timers for breakfast,' Phichit said, turning on the spot and making his way over to the hamster cage, that was still sitting on the coffee table. Yuuri really had to convince him to move them. It wasn't very hygienic. 'Will I see you before the short-program?'

'Hopefully,' Yuuri replied, watching Phichit sit down and put on his own trainers while he cooed at the hamsters. 'And just because I'm up in the stands doesn't mean I won't be able to see everything, so you better give it all you got!'

'Yes, 'coach'! Jeez,' Phichit teased, leaping to his feet and grabbing his Thailand gear bag from the couch. 'See you later!'

Phichit left with a wave, leaving Yuuri alone with his black coffee. Yuuri poured the last of it down the sink, abandoning his mug there and heading towards to the couch to put on his own shoes. Slowly, the apartment was beginning to brighten, sky paling outside the window. Yuuri was about to sit down when his professional phone went off from his own deserted gear bag behind the couch.

It wasn't exactly unusual for that phone to go off at odd hours. But usually those odd hours were before five am, not after. Yuuri altered course, fishing the Blackberry out of his bag.

1新しいメッセージ -V

Yuuri gasped, delight blooming and leaving him in a soft squeak. Victor. Yuuri opened the message eagerly, heart pounding so loud he could hear it himself in the quiet of the apartment.

05:32AM Good morning x

Not a sext. Not a booking. Just a text. A plain, normal text that someone might send if they'd been on a plain, normal date. Yuuri knew it was a red flag, knew that it was exactly the kind of behaviour he shouldn't encourage and never had encouraged before in other clients unless they already had a very established professional relationship. Yuuri couldn't charge for texting, couldn't keep the strict boundaries in place like that. Yuuri knew all of this and yet-

05:33AM Good morning to you, too.

Yuuri locked the phone, holding it to his chest as his heartbeat sped up, fingers trembling. He was playing with fire, he knew that. Victor was a client and despite how much Yuuri liked him, (and he did, he really did), Yuuri would have to tread carefully. But Yuuri also knew that Victor was only in America until at the latest Monday morning. There surely wasn't any harm in indulging, just a little?

The phone went off again and Yuuri almost dropped it with the fright he got.

05:33AM You're awake! I'm so glad x Early riser?

This was fine. Texting was fine. Yuuri was always good with texting anyway. It's not like Victor was there, not like he could see how large Yuuri's smile was or how he bounced on his feet with excitement to be texting his idol. His idol that he had slept with, skated with. Yuuri was half-tempted to wish that he and Victor would be married, as the way his life was going at the moment, Yuuri's dreams just happened to be coming true.

Well, maybe it wasn't exactly the way he pictured it in his head as there Victor always knew who Yuuri was. But details.

Still, Yuuri decided to test the waters a bit. He backspaced over his initial flirty response, going with honest instead. After all, that was what Victor had specifically asked for. And a good escort always gave the client what they wanted.

05:34AM No. I hate mornings, actually.

05:34AM Maybe you just need the right encouragement? ;)

Yuuri thought about how it felt to have Victor kiss him. The wetness of his tongue and the heat of his mouth. Yuuri licked his own lips, very conscious of the red mark on his neck under the hem of his jumper.

05:35AM Is that why you're texting me? Morning encouragement?

The next message was delayed by three minutes, not that Yuuri was counting. Or disappointed. Because Yuuri was a professional and an adult. But Yuuri still waited for the next message before actually getting on with his morning.

05:38AM If you're offering a good luck kiss for today, I'm certainly not complaining.

They texted the whole time Yuuri put his coat, hat and scarf on. Awkward fumbling as Yuuri tried to button his blue raincoat up, private smiles as he fished his surgical mask out of the pocket. Emojis as he tied his scarf.

Yuuri knew what he was doing was grossly inappropriate. He knew that if this behaviour continued once he and Victor had parted ways, he'd have to be firm. But for now, Yuuri allowed himself to enjoy Victor's unexpected company. Turned out Victor was also a morning person, which Yuuri felt suited him a lot better than Phichit. Though Yuuri might be biased.

06:07AM How do you feel about dogs?

That was the message Yuuri got as he walked into the Westin, shivering a bit as he body adjusted to the sudden heat. Yuuri shook his head to himself at Victor's randomness. Most of the conversation they'd shared this morning had been Victor asking Yuuri a serious of seemingly arbitrary questions; what was his favourite food, did he like Western music? (Katsudon; yes). How long had he studied ballet? (Thirteen years, back in Japan).

Does Yuuri still dance?

(Sort of).

Victor texted about himself as well. About what he was doing right then, (Pretending to listen to my coach), or how he felt about competing that day. (I imagine how you feel when you're about to start your job). Yuuri adored every single, typed word.

Yuuri typed out his answer as he stepped into the lift, other hand slipping the keycard in before selecting his floor.

06:08AM I love dogs. Why?

Victor didn't reply immediately and Yuuri tried not to let it bother him. Skate America was practically starting in an hour with sign-in, even if the men's skate weren't until the afternoon. It was silly of Yuuri to think Victor would spend all his morning and attention texting a prostitute. Yuuri shook his head at his own irrationality, walking out of the lift as it arrived on his floor and heading down the hotel hallway towards his unused room.

Yuuri was in the process of gathering his satchel up from the bed where he had thrown it haphazardly the evening before, stuffing the wine shirt and other black trousers he'd been wearing into it, when his phone went off again. Yuuri dropped everything, fishing the phone out of his pocket.

1新しいメッセージ(写真)-V

Photo? Yuuri had received photo messages from clients before and had a pretty fair idea of what to expect. He did not receive what he expected.

Yuuri recognised the dog instantly, having seen her entire, fluffy life from pup to current. Makkachin, Victor's poodle. The photo was unfairly cute, Makkachin's curly fur a perfect brown halo as she stared up adorably at the camera. Yuuri felt his breath catch in his throat, the memory hitting like brick through glass and Yuuri felt momentarily shattered.

Vicchan. Yuuri's own toy-poodle, who Yuuri had gotten in inspiration of Makkachin. Vicchan, who died, alone back in Japan, the day of the Grand Prix Final, four years ago-

Shoving the phone back into his pocket, Yuuri took a few moments to breathe. He dug through the satchel, fishing out the slightly crumpled envelope. He tipped the cash out, counting it slowly. Maybe it was materialistic, or superficial, but counting cash made Yuuri feel a bit better when his thoughts would try to run away from him like this. There was something comforting in the tangibility of it, the affirmation of Yuuri's worth. He counted out all two thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars of it. One, two, three. He replaced all the cash back in the envelope, breathing beginning to even out.

Yuuri flipped the satchel closed, buckling it barely over the stretch of it's contents. Readjusting his surgical mask, Yuuri took once last look around the room, satisfied. He then turned and left, snapping the door shut behind him.

With his thumb, Yuuri twiddled the cursor ball of his Blackberry, staring blankly at the new unopened message he'd gotten from Victor. It wasn't Victor's fault- as Yuuri was very aware, Victor had no idea who Yuuri was. There was no way he could've known how Yuuri would feel. If anything, this was good. It reminded Yuuri quite firmly why there were boundaries in the first place.

Victor was someone Yuuri had admired for so long. Maybe it was foolish to let the godlike illusion Yuuri had of Victor in his mind get chipped away with the truth of him.

Yuuri gave in anyway and opened the message.

06:35AM This is Makkachin! She's mine <3 Do you like her? Of course you do, sorry!

Victor in reality was... crazy. So, so crazy. Yuuri really liked him.

Suddenly, the phone started ringing as Yuuri called the lift. He frowned down the ID. Withheld. That was pretty standard. Most people who called his service didn't want it tied back to them in any way. He pulled the mask down, freeing his mouth as he answered the call, only doing so as the lift was empty.

'Hello,' Yuuri said, watching the rolling numbers as the lift descended.

A woman spoke, voice soft and American; 'Hello. Is this Eros?'

'Yes,' Yuuri answered, shifting his shoulders under the weight of the satchel. The woman laughed, a tinkling sound that rubbed Yuuri wrong somehow. He was probably still off from his weird Vicchan moment. Yuuri adjusted his tone anyway, slipping low and deep, opposite way for what he did for male callers; 'What can I do for you?'

'Oh, um,' the woman stuttered and Yuuri resisted the urge to sigh. He knew he should be more compassionate- it was obviously her first time. But usually women were much more certain than men for what they were looking for. Yuuri could feel a slight headache coming on, so his patience was thinner than usual. 'I- I'm not really sure. I've never done this before.'

'It's alright,' Yuuri said, trying to sound sympathetic. He tapped his fingers impatiently on the handrail. 'What's your name?'

'Clementine.' Huh. Odd.

'It's lovely to speak with you, Clementine,' Yuuri replied, leaning back against the handrail as the lift moved past the twentieth floor. 'Is there anything you'd like to ask me?'

'Maybe I'm not ready,' Clementine said, distant for a moment, like she was away from the phone. 'I'm sorry, can you tell me the options? I've never done this before.'

She was repeating herself. Which wasn't unusual, but there was still something about it. Something off. Yuuri stood up straight again, looking down at his trainers as he thought. His heart was beginning to beat a small bit faster now, suspicion crawling into him like a chill.

'Did you have a look at my website?' Yuuri asked carefully, trying to keep his tone even. Clementine gave that same, high laugh and Yuuri's stomach churned.

'I did, yes! I'm afraid I didn't understand it that well though,' Clementine drawled, smile obvious in her tone. It made Yuuri uneasy. Calls were rarely like this. In fact, Yuuri was had only ever received a call like this once before. Back when he still worked with the agency and Hannah. 'Could you tell me? What it is you can do?'

Suspicion ignited into fear.

Yuuri replaced his mask, muffling his voice a little. Maybe it was futile, maybe not- but it made Yuuri feel better when he gave his reply; 'I'm sorry. I'm afraid I'm not well at the moment. Could you call me back at another time?'

'Oh! Well, no, I'm afraid. I can really only talk now-'

'My apologies then,' Yuuri said before he hung up the phone, perhaps slightly manically. He was breathing heavily now, composure falling away entirely.

That had been a set-up. It had to have been. Those questions and the tone- it was all wrong. Yuuri would never admit to anything over the phone, voice call or text, for the reasons Hannah had taught him not to, all those years ago. People who called Yuuri for his service knew exactly what he offered- they didn't need confirmation past the name Eros. Something was wrong with that call, with that woman.

Yuuri scrambled to get the back off the Blackberry, tugging the battery out to get at the SIM card. He scraped it out with his fingernail, shoving the rest of the Blackberry pieces back into his pocket as he snapped the SIM in two. The plastic bent first, but then gave, two torn pieces. Yuuri stared at them for long moment before tucking them into his jean pocket as the lift arrived at the lobby. He'd have to change the website domain when he got home as well. Just to be sure.

Yuuri stepped out into the lobby, about to toss the broken SIM pieces into the gilded trashcan by the lift doors before he thought better of it. Maybe on the walk back to the apartment instead. Yuuri did throw the Blackberry's battery away there, though.

This was fine. After all, he was thinking of upgrading his professional phone anyway. 

Chapter Text

As the music started, Victor lost himself to the memory.

Just hours ago, on this very ice, Victor had been given the chance to know what true trust felt like. What eros could be when someone let you in, almost entirely until you saw the truth of their soul. What sex could be. Pleasure layered upon pleasure, until you were drowning in it. Victor swept to the left after the opening bars and once the violin started, spun into his first step-sequence, arms reaching for someone who wasn't there.

It wasn't the best orgasm of Victor's life. Nothing explosive. But it had been one of the most involved, maybe the most intimate one he'd ever had. It was in his eagerness, the intoxication he felt at having someone so strange and beautiful give themselves over. Victor had rather hoped on getting Eros to at least the locker-room, but losing himself so plainly and even embarrassingly to Eros somehow proved to be infinitely more rewarding.

Victor bent low into the sit-spin, feeling his face heat up with exertion and fondness as he thought of Eros. Of the way he moved with Victor so fluidly, the way he trusted Victor so, so quickly. This close to the ice, Victor could barely hear his music over the scrape of his skates. As he turned, it was like he was alone with only the memory of Eros to keep him company. The audience falling away entirely.

Victor had never let someone see him like that before. No one had ever wanted to.

Trust was not something Victor was overly familiar with. No one he knew trusted him. Not really. Victor couldn't blame them most of the time. He was flighty, often forgetful and terribly self-absorbed. One had to be, if they wanted to win. Wanted to be the best. That meant the most people expected out of him was to let them down in his ambition. Even Yakov didn't trust Victor, offering a scold more than advice before Victor had even done anything.

But Eros hadn't been like that. He hadn't seen Victor's short-comings. Eros let himself be led by Victor, let his body be guided like Victor was all he needed to move forward. What Victor wanted, Eros just gave, trusting Victor to take it.

Triple-axel, into a counter. The transition was smooth but Victor kept his face artfully blank, betraying nothing of his pride. He was happy to have landed it so well. To show off. Who knows? Maybe Eros was watching- somewhere.

Victor hoped so. This performance was for Eros, after all. Side-step, building momentum for the quad-combinations. The crowd roared, a blur of colour.

Thinking about the noises Eros made while he came made Victor's heart flip, burnt on both sides with it. He thought of the curve of Eros' back, so perfectly aligned with Victor and the feel of his skin. The smell of his shampoo. He must've showered right before their appointment. The thought was oddly endearing.

Quad-Salchow and triple toe-loop. Excitement coursing through his body, down to his toes. Every movement an invitation, reaching out for someone. A very particular someone.

Having someone trust him was one of the most addicting things Victor had ever experienced. When he had taken Eros' throat, it was mostly out of necessity. He had wanted to hold on, to feel Eros' skin but the rink had been too cold to get under the shirt. But Eros' reaction! His leaning and whimper. How could Victor resist pushing the boundaries of such a thing? Victor tried to meet him where he was, fingers mapping points where Victor could kiss Eros until he bruised. And Eros had shuddered, moaned and embraced every moment of it.

Using the speed he'd gathered, Victor leapt into a splendid quadruple flip. With each rotation he remembered something new about Eros, about his face and his hands or his hips. On his landing and into the spin, Victor thought of the way Eros had left him so cruelly at the end of the night. Victor's hands moved through the motion of his program, echoing Eros' dismissal.

He halted, fringe flared and knees trembling.

Just a little.

'Victor Nikiforov has just taken the lead with a phenomenal 110.84 score for his short-program, On Love: Eros! It's a new best for Nikiforov this season and beats Jean-Jaques Leroy's score of 108.23! Nikiforov is now in first place!

Victor smirked when his score was announced, winking at the nearest camera while Yakov preened next to him, pride having to fight it's way from his stern face as they both sat in the kiss-and-cry because hell would freeze over before Yakov smiled. For anything. Victor flicked his hair, to the delight of reporters and fans alike going by their cries, his heart pounding with self-satisfaction. It was his highest short-program score of the season. The announcers were calling it a return to form.

Victor knew better, of course. There really was no replacement for true inspiration.

'Mister Nikiforov!' a reporter called raising a gloved hand and holding their phone in the other as they waved Victor's attention over to them. 'How do you feel about reaching your standard after a disappointing result at the Nebelhorn Trophy?'

'I wouldn't call a gold medal disappointing. Are the press that starving for gossip they'd undo my hard-work so easily?' Victor chimed in response, causing the reporter to splutter with embarrassment for a moment, his face flushing beneath his scarf. Yakov made a clicking noise of disapproval next to him.

'My apologies, I just meant how do you feel now that you've achieved your normal short-program mark of over one-hundred after only receiving a ninety-eight in Germany?' the reporter continued, his hand brandishing the phone more forward. 'What do you feel has changed between now and September?'

Victor pinched his chin, thinking for a moment how to respond. Unbidden, brown eyes came to his mind. He smiled, closing his eyes to enjoy the mental image more. He'd get to see Eros again, just that evening. Victor hadn't planned anything this time and hopefully Eros hadn't either. They could be spontaneous- with luck. Victor tended to be very lucky.

'I guess you could say I found my muse!' Victor teased, Yakov waving the reporter away when they tried to press for further questions. With one firm hand, Yakov gathered Victor up and guided him out of the kiss-and-cry, towards the common room behind the rink.

'Now isn't the time to be smart to the press, Vitya,' Yakov grumbled, collapsing down onto one of the sofas. Victor laughed, pushing his hair out of his face. It was sticky with sweat. He may have pushed himself slightly during On Love: Eros, putting his quadruple flip in the second half of the program. The risk had proven to be entirely worth it.

'It's the perfect time. I'm winning.'

'When aren't you? I trained you well enough,' Yakov replied, though he sounded far from happy about it.

Victor rolled his eyes, picking at stray sequins on his costume. It was styled like a two-piece; voluminous tulle shirt in ombré black to red, bell-sleeved with a deep v down the chest with shimmering sequins on the cuffs. Then slim-fitting black trousers with spiralling red and gold sequins down the thighs. More masculine than Victor would normally have designed, but at the time of On Love: Eros' conception, such a decision had made sense. Victor was still in two minds of whether he should revise it or not.

'You shouldn't be drawing the press on you. You're already a circus for them,' Yakov said, taking his fedora off to wipe at his balding head. 'Don't fuel their fire.'

'I would never,' Victor said, mocking offence though most days he did intend to do just that. Victor didn't care what the press wrote about him. He'd been skating far too long to let their gossip rile him up anymore. 'You're not mad about that anyway. You're just upset about my spending.'

'Vitya!' Yakov snapped, causing a few of the other people in the room to turn their way.

Victor smiled blithely at the group of three skaters in the far corner. First-timers. Only one would be able to qualify this weekend for the GPF. Victor only recognised them barely from his vague following of the assignments. Beyond those competing from his own Russian team, Victor rarely registered other competitors. He was forgetful enough as it was- never mind adding extra names for him to remember.

'You shouldn't speak of such things,' Yakov muttered irritably, shooting furitive glances towards the huddle of other competitors. Victor rolled his eyes at Yakov's grumblings. Like anyone was paying any attention to what they were talking about- really, so silly. Who would even care what Victor spent his money on?

Well. Victor caught himself grinning and bit his lip to try and stifle the smile he got as he thought of Eros' round nose, his dark lashes. If anyone had any idea what Victor was spending his money on, the worst he'd have to worry about was probably competition, because who'd meet Eros and not want to?

'I know subtly isn't one of your strengths, Vitya. But I was at least hoping for some form of discretion...'

Victor wasn't listening, officially losing interest in the conversation as familiar music filtered in from the arena. He watched the screen as Chris appeared on it, moving through his short-program Intoxicated with expected, slow grace. Chris was never one to peak early.

As Chris twirled into the second half of his program on the screen, one the newer skaters was pulled away by his coach. Victor recognised Celestino immediately, his long brown curls iconic at this point. Victor felt a bit of sympathy for the nervous looking skater, dark-skinned with black, black hair and an elaborate costume of gold and red. He looked quite nervous and Celestino had never had much luck with getting his skaters to qualify for the GPF. Victor was sure he couldn't even name someone Celestino had successfully gotten there. Hopefully this skater and he were a better match.

As Celestino and his skater left the room, Jean-Jacques Leroy walked in boldy, almost knocking his shoulder into them. Victor frowned as Leroy threw a coy smirk in his direction. Such terrible manners. Victor hadn't interacted with Leroy much at their last competition, but he remembered having the same impression then. Looked like Leroy hadn't matured over the summer.

'Hey, Victor!' Leroy called, waving a hand obnoxiously. Victor rolled his shoulders and stood up to his full height, despite the fact that Leroy and he were almost evenly tall. Almost, but Victor still had him beat by an inch. A very smug inch. 'Great work out there on the ice. I always get so nervous when I see an old-timer try their quads. I suppose you had to watch your knees.'

'I don't recall,' Victor replied coolly to the back-handed compliment as Leroy approached him, garish purple sequins winking in the light were they peaked out from beneath Leroy's kit. Behind Leroy, his coach gave a curt nod to Yakov on the sofa. Leroy picked at imaginary dust on Victor's shoulder.

'It's good to see you haven't given all your talent away to your new protégé,' Leroy continued, arching a sly brow and grinning. All sharp, white teeth. 'I heard he took the Cup of China by storm with the program you choreographed for him.'

Victor waited before allowing himself to feel too proud, unsure of how Leroy was going to steer the compliment.

'He's got quite the reputation,' Leroy said, glancing over at the two other skaters who were watching the screen avidly as Chris stepped off the ice. Celestino's skater would be next. 'Did he learn his temper from you? I hear you were quite the drama at that age as well.'

Yakov made a small noise of disapproval from the sofa, but Victor side-stepped to block Yakov from Leroy's view. The last thing the situation needed was Yakov's temper. (Which may or may not have been an influencing factor for the discussed skater, if Victor was being honest). Victor folded his arms, holding his chin up and watched Leroy from his bare-inch. He did not tolerate such rudeness.

'Yuri Plisetsky is passionate.'

'Is that what you'd call it? I hear they call him the Russian Punk.'

Victor bristled immediately, not appreciating Leroy being so over-familiar or the use of Yuri's newly acquired press nickname. Leroy didn't know Yuri, they'd never met as far as Victor knew. Who was he to make that kind of comment to Victor and Yakov? Yuri was only fifteen, it was his senior debut and alright, Victor would admit he could be quite- acerbic. But he was still learning. Leroy at nineteen should know better.

'I see your grace is limited to the ice,' Victor said coldly and a little louder than needed. From the corner of his eye he saw the other skaters turn away briefly from their watching of the screen. Victor smiled, turning it cruel now he knew they had an audience. 'I know they say money can't buy manners, but surely even on a runner-up's winnings you could've afforded a least one.'

Leroy opened his mouth to retort, but his coach put a hand on his shoulder sternly. Victor raised an eyebrow, signalling for Yakov to join him as he stepped across the room in his guarded skates. He waved a loose hand in Leroy's direction, smile easy; 'Always good to see you!'

Yakov joined Victor as they both stood by the younger skaters, the smallest of whom squeaked as they approached and shuffled closer to his friend. Victor took a deep breath through his nose and tried not to let his upset with Leroy show too much as he focused on the screen. Celestino's skater was just taking to the ice now, the rink having been cleared from the gifts Chris had gotten. Yakov made a small, grumbling noise.

'Yura ne nuzhdayetsya v vas, chtoby zashchitit' yego,' Yakov said in quick Russian, conscious of their audience going by how he watched the two other skaters though they were looking at the screen intently. Victor sighed, pushing his fringe out of his face once again.

'What Yuri doesn't know won't hurt him,' Victor said, forcing himself to smile for Yakov. Going by the deep crease on Yakov's forehead, he did not appreciate Victor's effort. Victor turned sweet, leaning up against Yakov's shoulder. 'Are you going to rat me out?'

'Bah,' Yakov groused before telling Victor he was going to get a very strong coffee. Victor cheerily asked him for a hot chocolate, but got no confirmation on whether he'd get it or not. Victor hoped he would. Surely defending little Yuri's reputation was deserving of a hot chocolate?

Victor turned his attention back to the screen, to Celestino's skater. Phichit Chulanont, the running text said at the bottom. Victor would admit that he didn't recognise the country flag and made a note to check it out later. Chulanont was quite talented, his spins having a particular delicacy to them but it was evident he was a performance skater going by his wide spread-eagles and high kicks. Victor had a soft spot for skaters like that.

Victor furrowed his brow as Chulanont twisted into a camel spin, back bent. There was something... familiar about it. Like Victor had seen that form before. But before anything came back, the feeling was gone. Victor shook his head, watching Chulanont's smile become more and more obvious as he stepped into his second half. He could hear the crowd cheer in earnest through the walls.

'Vitya!'

Victor looked over his shoulder to see Yakov had returned. He pouted when he spotted only one cup in Yakov's hand but was then immediately distracted by Yakov's other one thrusting Victor's phone at him.

'Take this. It's being going off and I'm sick of hearing it,' Yakov said, letting the phone go so Victor had to scramble to catch it. Yakov then took a long sip of his coffee, eyes narrowed before he moved towards where the other coaches were standing in a quiet circle.

1 1 Новое сообщение – Yuri Plisetsky
2 Новые сообщения – 001+

Huh, speak of the devil and he shall appear.

But curiosity got the better of Victor and he ignored Yuri in favour of opening the unknown number's messages. Victor grinned, chest blooming happy. Eros. He hadn't been ignoring Victor after all.

It was a new number, but the texts were to explain as such. The first was hours old now, but neither were very personal or a reply to Victor's last message. A private photo he had of Makkachin. 

12:04PM This is Eros. I'm sorry for the inconvience- I had an accident with my phone. This is my new number. I'm looking forward to our apppointment later x

13:11PM Please let me know on this number where to meet you this evening. And to let me know if I need to bring anything again.

Victor felt the disappointment turn leaden inside him at the formality of the words. It weighed him down. He had hoped Eros and he were making progress, their flirting and texting in the morning feeling like one of the more genuine of their few conversations. Victor had been so excited about it. But now the texts read so impersonally. Eros was pulling away- again. And Victor didn't know why.

Had the picture been too personal? Too much information? It was just Makkachin. Everyone loved Makkachin! Victor found himself frowning down at his phone and biting his bottom lip, unsure how to reply. Eros didn't need to bring anything- Victor didn't have anything planned for them. All Victor wanted was for Eros to give him another chance, like he'd gotten last night.

Maybe he was asking for too much. Maybe what they were doing was too far outside the professional boundaries an escort worked between. Maybe Victor had made Eros uncomfortable. If that was the case, then Victor would attempt to stay within the lines. The last thing he wanted was for Eros to feel uncomfortable with him. This would require time, trust to be built back up. One thing Victor was sure of was that Eros was pulling back deliberately, for whatever reason. Victor had to try and show him that Victor was someone Eros could let himself be- well, himself with.

Victor was a five-time world champion. He knew patience. He could apply patience here, too.

He typed out the response quickly, missing the score for Chulanont. 

16:32PM Meet me at my room. 431. 8PM?

Victor tapped the phone impatiently, waiting for Eros' reply. He was taking a while, longer than Victor expected. One of the other two young skaters had been called by their coach. People were beginning to move now, the men's short-program finishing for the day. Eros was probably working, Victor thought suddenly and his stomach churned unpleasantly at the idea. Which was unfair and Victor knew that. Victor didn't own Eros. He was a person, a prostitute at that and he made his own choices. Just because Victor and he had some more personal moments didn't mean Eros would just put the rest of his life on pause.

Though Victor would be lying if he didn't admit that he may, or may not, have entertained the daydream of Eros thinking about Victor as often as Victor thought about him. The way Victor pictured it, Eros was at the window he was pictured in on his website, frowning pensively and tracing a V on the glass.

It may be a little pathetic. (Alright, Victor knew it was a lot pathetic). But it's not like anyone would know.

But none of that mattered. Or it shouldn't. Victor would get his last chance with Eros that evening and he was cautiously optimistic, regardless of anything else. Victor was pretty good at pushing unwelcome thoughts away.

Victor absently opened the message from the Yuri, not overly interested in what his protégé, as Leroy called him, had to say. Knowing Yuri it was unlikely to be anything productive.

15:56PM Эрос не был уродлив сегодня. (Eros was not ugly today).

Huh, that was almost- nice of him. Victor sent a grinning smiley-face back with a trophy emoji as well, for good measure. He got some very unpleasant Russian back. Victor promptly told Yuri to go to bed, as it was definitely past his bedtime and Victor would tell Yakov on him. More unpleasant language.

He really is a punk, Victor thought, replying with the saddest emoji his iPhone could offer. At least he was Victor's punk.

 


 

'Phichit!'

Phichit looked away from Celestino to see Yuuri waving at him from the stands. He had his visitor pass on around his neck, plastic shining against the brown of his winter coat. Phichit rolled his eyes. That coat was really hideous- he'd told Yuuri to get rid of it like a hundred times. No filter on either Instagram or Snapchat could save that thing, not with it's millions of pockets and really ugly buttons.

Yuuri couldn't get very close, what with the barriers doubled up to create a specific place for the press. But the kiss-and-cry had long cleared, Phichit waiting it out in the hopes of just this moment. Yuuri was leaning over the bars, surgical mask bunched under his chin as he grinned widely. Phichit grinned back, excitement so prevalent that he practically skipped over to where Yuuri was, guarded skates teetering.

'Yuuri! Have you seen the results?!' Phichit cried, hitting the barrier with some speed and causing it to shake between them. Yuuri nodded enthusiastically, brown eyes alight behind his glasses. 'Third! I'm in third!'

'You did it, Phichit!' Yuuri replied, bouncing up and down in his trainers. 'You made the music your own!'

Phichit flushed immediately, Yuuri's praise setting him on fire all over again with satisfaction. Of course Yuuri would know exactly what Phichit was most pleased about it. The music he chose had been played so often in their dorm-room over the last six months he was sure they could both write the notes of it in their sleep. But Yuuri had understood, always cheering Phichit on and singing the song for him once when Phichit's phone had died at practice.

In this moment, all Phichit could think about was why Katsuki Yuuri was his best-friend. And this was it.

'Thanks, Yuuri-kun!' Phichit said, using the suffix to show his appreciation though he knew Yuuri really no longer required it after all these years. But Yuuri's cheeks went slightly pink anyway and Phichit felt fondness erupt in him. Phichit bit his lip, leaning up onto the toe-picks of his skates. 'Can you believe it, Yuuri? Third place! If I keep it up tomorrow, I might have a chance at the podium! The podium with Victor Nikiforov!'

Phichit was not an idiot. He knew Victor had pretty much slung the gold medal around his neck already. But Phichit was most determined not to lose his place on the podium anyway, where ever he may fall.

Yuuri nodded, hand coming up to adjust the blue hat on his head self-consciously for a moment. He looked around him for a moment, seemingly taking in the fuss that surrounded the kiss-and-cry. The now abandoned cameras, the tables laden with leftover bouquets and offerings. His brown eyes lingered on the now clear surface of the rink, possibly watching the zambonis pass. He looked very deep in thought. Phichit tilted his head, trying to catch Yuuri's attention.

'Yuuri?'

'You did amazing, Phichit,' Yuuri said, gaze still out across the rink. Then Yuuri seemed to shake himself out of whatever funk he'd found himself in. Phichit had a suspicion over what it might be. When Yuuri looked back at him, he was smiling. 'Really. I'm so proud of you. You're bound to qualify for the Grand Prix after that!'

Phichit smiled, wondering if he should bring up Yuuri's obvious memory of his own qualification, four years ago, before deciding against it. They could talk about it later. Instead, Phichit reached out across the barriers, trying to get a hold of Yuuri's hand. Only then did he notice the shopping bag looped around one of Yuuri's wrists, from T-Mobile.

Confused, Phichit asked; 'Did you get a new phone?'

'Hmm? Oh, right. Yeah, I'll tell you about it later,' Yuuri said, eyes snapping back to Phichit nervously. He fidgeted with his surgical mask, tugging at it slightly. Phichit frowned at him, but decided not to push.

'You're a disaster,' Phichit teased instead, finally making contact and taking Yuuri's hand kindly. 'Myself and the other first-timers are going to go out for dinner after this and then back to ours. To celebrate my possible medal!' Phichit found himself grinning again, unable to help himself. 'You have to come!'

Yuuri's smile faltered, fingers tightening over Phichit's a bit. He looked away, face growing red once again.

'I can't. I have work.'

Phichit blinked. Oh.

'Okay,' Phichit said, because it was all he could think of to say. Phichit let Yuuri go faster than was probably polite, but he didn't find himself feeling all that bad about it. Frustration ate it's way up through him, swallowing his initial happiness down like a pill. He chanced his arm; 'I want to introduce you to the others; Leo and Guang-Hong! Can't you cancel?'

'Uh,' Yuuri replied, unhelpfully. He ran his hands along the bar of the barrier, shopping bag swinging. He still wasn't meeting Phichit's eye and it was beginning to grate now. 'No. I can't, really.'

'Can't or won't? Aren't you your own boss or something?' Phichit asked before he could stop himself. Yuuri met his gaze then, brown the colour of dirt. Phichit shook his head, clicking his tongue miserably. 'C'mon, Yuuri. This is my qualification!'

'You still have the free-skate tomorrow,' Yuuri said with a blink and Phichit felt stung. Did Yuuri think the celebration premature? Did he not think Phichit could make it?

'So?' Phichit snapped, trying not to let his upset show too much and failing miserably going by Yuuri's face, which contorted into something almost panicked. 'This is important to me!'

'I know, but-'

'Are you really going to pick work over me?' Phichit said bitterly, not caring that he sounded petulant. Yuuri looked nervous, waving his hands in front of him like he was unsure where to put them.

'It's not like that, Phichit,' Yuuri said quietly, not meeting Phichit's eye once again and Phichit felt his blood boil at the sight of it. Yuuri couldn't even look at him. What made him think he could dismiss Phichit so easily? Well, Phichit thought, it's not like he hasn't been dismissing me and my feelings for four years.

'I thought you'd be happy. I thought we'd share this moment together,' Phichit said honestly and it hurt a little to admit as such so openly, but it was true. Sadness came over Yuuri's face, but Phichit was too mad to really pay heed. Phichit wasn't the one being unreasonable here. Yuuri was the one running off, after all their talk of doing this together. 'I was there for you when you made it to the Grand Prix.'

'Phichit-' Yuuri started, but suddenly, Phichit didn't want to hear it.

This was so typical of Yuuri. Even the Yuuri Phichit thought he knew. Both Yuuris had the same thing in common- he was so self-absorbed at times. Phichit used to think it was just because of Yuuri's anxiety, but now, given everything else Phichit had learned about it, Phichit was sure it was just a pretty bad charater flaw. Yuuri always made decisions for himself, never including other people. Look at the last four years. Yuuri had decided that Phichit didn't need to know, excluded Phichit because Yuuri had decided that was what was right to do.

'Forget it, Yuuri,' Phichit snapped, holding his hand up to stop Yuuri's stammering. Something ugly and angry swelled inside Phichit, speaking for him before he could stop it; 'Just because your Grand Prix qualification was a car crash doesn't mean mine has to be.'

Yuuri looked stricken and regret instantly pooled in Phichit at the sight. He shouldn't have said that. Yes, he was angry. But he didn't mean it, he just-

'Fine,' Yuuri said coldly, turning on the spot and walking away. Phichit wanted to call out after him, tell him he was sorry. But the words wouldn't come. Instead, Phichit watched Yuuri leave, feeling sick the entire time he did.

 



Yuuri was certain of one thing. He was going to completely lose himself in Victor tonight. Anything Victor wanted, anywhere he wanted it. He was going to have it. Because the last thing Yuuri wanted was to think. About anything.

Especially Phichit. (Jerk).

Yuuri walked down the hallway with purpose, hips swaying perhaps a little dramatically as he fully embraced the Eros persona. Yuuri had picked the shirt he was wearing because it vaguely resembled something that might act as a foil to the tulle one Victor wore in his program. Very feminine, an answer to Victor's seductive playboy. (Heavy, navy silk and once again tailored from the ladies section). Yuuri had left his coat at reception. 

 

There was something about the way Victor had moved on the ice today, the way he went through the program that shared Yuuri's name with such heat. Yuuri wanted to emulate that heat, wanted Victor to map the program he'd performed just for Yuuri the night before across Yuuri's skin. Yuuri wanted the story to be bruised onto him. He wanted to pick up where they left off. He wanted Victor. He wanted-

Yuuri wanted and there was nothing that was going to make him feel bad for it.

Knocking on the door, Yuuri gave his hair one last push back before it opened. Room 431, 19:37PM. And Victor.

Yuuri gasped softly, unable to stop it as he met Victor's gaze. Victor was in a t-shirt and jeans, his pale white collarbones and neck prominent over the low, navy hem. It made his eyes look even bluer, his hair more silver. It was a bit damp, he must've just showered. Yuuri's heart squeezed in his chest, something warm but tight settling there. Victor was nothing Yuuri had ever imagined when he was a teenager, back in Hasetsu. So long ago. He was suddenly much, much better.

'You-' Victor stopped, mouth opening and closing for a moment. Yuuri found himself incapable of looking away from Victor's lips. 'You're early.'

'I know,' Yuuri whispered, though they were alone in the hall and it obviously wasn't a secret. But Yuuri was being a bit unorthodox, a bit dangerous. The moment feeling so fragile it might break. Seeing Victor this way, so unmade, suddenly felt more intimate than when they had sex. 'Is that bad?'

'No,' Victor replied, taking Yuuri's hand and pulling him into the room.

Yuuri didn't get a chance to say anything else, because the moment the door was closed, Victor had Yuuri pressed up against it and his mouth on him. The kiss was crushing, Victor's tongue pushing Yuuri's lips open with wet, minty intent. Yuuri closed his eyes and groaned, arousal so molten it changed the shape of him, back arching and arms raising up above him. Victor growled into the kiss, his own hands coming up to pin Yuuri's over his head.

Victor was kissing him so wetly, so deeply that it felt like he was trying to swallow Yuuri down whole. The thought made Yuuri's knees tremble and it was as if Victor knew that, because then he pushed forward, strong body pinned against Yuuri's. Yuuri tried to push off the door into Victor's body, but then Victor moved back, only to slam roughly forward again. Yuuri tried to open his eyes, but he couldn't. Lost to the moment. The door rattled at the impact and when Yuuri moaned, Victor took the opportunity to suck Yuuri's tongue into his mouth.

A small, muffled sound of approval rumbled out of Yuuri and Victor released him with a sigh, coming forward to rake his teeth along Yuuri's jaw. It was like the skin there was sparking at the feeling- erractic, hot energy. Yuuri loved it. His hips started to move, gyrating in slow circles into Victor's now very hard cock, going by the stiff bulge that was crushed against Yuuri's own eagerly growing one.

'Couldn't wait, huh?' Victor breathed against Yuuri's skin as he moved his kisses down, hands tight around Yuuri's wrists. Yuuri keened, gently rutting his hips between the door and Victor, desperate to feel friction.

'N-no. I had to see you,' Yuuri managed to get out. Victor whimpered, whimpered like Yuuri had wounded him and the noise went straight to Yuuri's cock, where it twitched in protest of it's confines. The front of his pants already felt damp, trapped between the heat. The gorgeous heat.

'You shouldn't say such things to me, pryanichek,' Victor said before he came back up to kiss Yuuri again, tongue first, slick lips sucking. He kissed Yuuri like that for a while, filthy and so very, very wet. Like Yuuri's entire body was liquid, waiting for Victor to swim in it. Drown maybe, like Yuuri was worth drowning in for Victor Nikiforov. It was addictive, to be wanted so much by someone Yuuri admired for so long.

The kiss turned hungry. Devouring, almost and Yuuri was insatiable for everything Victor was offering. Victor's tongue slipped into Yuuri's mouth in a rolling motion, fucking into it with a steady rhythm that was all hot, dirty promise. It was like Victor was actively trying to hit all Yuuri's breaking points- open Yuuri up, because he somehow knew Yuuri would let him. Victor gave a strong suck of Yuuri's tongue and the world temporarily vanished, Yuuri's thoughts coming to a stammering halt.

Sucking in a quick breath, Yuuri tried to take some control.

'If that's supposed to discourage me-' But Yuuri didn't get a chance to finish his smart comeback, as Victor had only stopped kissing him to move down to where the dull, red bitemark Victor had left the night before was sitting pretty at the junction of his neck. There, Victor bit him again, sharp. Yuuri yelped, the feeling just south of ticklish and into the realms of fantastic.

'Victor,'
Yuuri moaned as Victor started to suck on his handiwork. It would definitely bruise now. So much more difficult to hide. Yuuri felt himself flush from the thought, heat tumbling all the way down and Yuuri had never wanted anyone so much in his life. 'Victor- please!'

Yuuri wanted to say touch me more, but he couldn't, neck tiliting as Victor kissed his way up along it, teeth grazing Yuuri's adam's apple on the way. But Victor pulled back, pressing his body so flush against Yuuri's that he was sure he could feel every divet and curve of Victor's enviable abs.

'Tell me what you want, miliy,' Victor said and his voice was surprisingly soft, taking Yuuri aback. Yuuri opened his eyes at last, meeting Victor's blue ones. He watched the colour there, deep azure splintered with something metallic almost. Victor leaned forward, kissing Yuuri gently. The sudden tenderness made Yuuri's stomach turn over, pulling on a line from his heart. 'I want you to tell me. I want to be good for you.'

'You're... doing just fine,' Yuuri replied shakily because it felt like the only safe option.

Victor's hands released Yuuri's wrists, fingers trailing down Yuuri's arms and underneath them, coming to rest at the bend of Yuuri's waist. Yuuri's desperation rattled inside him, protesting to the slower direction Victor was taking. Yuuri couldn't stand the emotion that threatened to leak into the spaces between if Victor didn't keep his body hot and hard against Yuuri's, if Victor wasn't going to drive the everything from him.

'Let's do better than that,' Victor smirked, kissing Yuuri so lightly and beautifully that Yuuri was quite worried his heart couldn't take it. An escort couldn't trust kisses like that. Or at least, this escort couldn't. (But oh, Yuuri wanted to). Yuuri bit at Victor's lips, bottom one dragging between his teeth and Victor moaned sinfully, composure failing. Yuuri smiled in triumph.

'Why don't you let me give you what you like?' Yuuri asked, breathy and unable to stop the need in his voice. The need to get out of his own skin and be whatever someone else wanted him to be. Victor seemed to pull himself out of the trance Yuuri had put him in, voltaic eyes narrowed with thought as they watched Yuuri.

A hand drifted up from their grip on Yuuri's waist, Victor's thumb running along Yuuri's bottom lip, dragging the skin. Yuuri tried not to lean too obviously into the touch, but a small noise somehow got out of him anyway. Victor smiled, the edges of his fringe beginning to curl around his face as they air-dried. Yuuri loved his hair like that, never seeing it before. Not on a poster, not on Instagram. Like it was private how Victor's hair could curl like that.

'I want to know what you like,' Victor purred, the invitation so tempting. Yuuri closed his eyes for a moment, savouring the dream he was currently in. 'I want to do only what you like.'

Yuuri frowned, confused. Victor smiled wider, clearly pleased as Yuuri brought his hands down from over his head, unsure where to put them. Victor's eyes roamed over Yuuri's face for a moment, his eyebrows dropping with a soft smile.

'I love that look,' Victor said and Yuuri gasped at the words, suddenly feeling trapped between Victor's weight and the door. How could Victor just- just say something like that? Like it wasn't something that would ruin Yuuri just from hearing it? Victor kissed him again as his mouth fell open, Yuuri about to try a flirty comment to try and break the bizarre spell Victor had cast over him. Instead, Yuuri yielded to the kiss, following Victor's lips as he pulled away.

'Dorogoi, do you have any idea how beautiful you look when you're surprised?'

Again, Victor had Yuuri scrambling for a response. This was all a bit... Yuuri wasn't sure what it was but it wasn't normal. Yuuri knew he had to be careful. He had dreamed of meeting Victor, fantasised about what they were doing so many times when he had been younger that the hero worship had been reaching what Phichit had called stalker levels. ('And not the cute kind, Yuuri. The kind that boils the guy's bunny,' Phichit had actually said).

(Yuuri put a stop to that thought quickly. He couldn't think of Phichit).

Victor was famous for his romantic follies. Yuuri was a prostitute, that Victor had paid. No matter how sweet Victor was about it- that was the truth of it.

Yuuri gave a curt shake of his head, smiling to himself at his own frivolity. Obviously Victor was intrigued; tempted by the mystery and thrill Yuuri's profession necessitated. He wasn't the first, he likely wouldn't be the last either. Yuuri had been doing this long enough to know better. Victor wasn't interested in who Yuuri really was, interested in Yuuri as a person.

(He hadn't been interested last time they met either).

'I thought this was about what I liked,' Yuuri flirted, with a confidence he didn't quite feel as he tried to exercise Eros' presence over the situation. He rolled his hips expertly, delighting in Victor's sharp intake of breath as their clothed cocks came together in a frustratingly slow grind.

'Tease,' Victor scolded but going by the way his eyes turned dark, Yuuri felt sure that there was no punishment for such behaviour in their immediate future. If anything, Yuuri felt he was about to be quite generously rewarded.

With one quick movement, Victor was all go again and Yuuri was caught in the current of it. Swept out to sea.

Victor kissed Yuuri like he was trying to discover something. Every press was slightly different, every swipe his tongue trying to find a new way to make Yuuri tremble. Yuuri could almost hear the blood pounding in his ears as his head hit the back of the door, Victor following him all the way forward. If it wasn't for Victor's weight to hold him up, Yuuri was half-afraid he'd fall. Yuuri held onto Victor's shoulders, whimpering into the kiss with need. It was a bit scary- the more Yuuri did this, the more Yuuri thought about what was really happening, the larger and more insane it felt.

Victor Nikiforov. Was kissing him. Was probably going to have sex with him. Again.

If Phichit knew-

Yuuri jumped at the thought of Phichit, unbidden. He had been so angry, so mean. It was all so unfair. Yuuri broke the kiss, his emotions overcoming him for a moment, snuffing out the fire inside him.

'Where are you, miliy?' Victor murmured between kisses, hips canting forward where Yuuri felt the hard line of his cock press just against his own. They both sighed at the contact, but Victor's hold on Yuuri's face turned soft again, thumb deceptively sweet against his cheek. Yuuri flinched away instinctively, suddenly feeling far too concerned with reality to lose himself to Victor's tempting game again. Yuuri needed to get away, just for a minute. Just so he could put his thoughts back in order, get Eros back in control.

Yuuri's hands came up between them, palms flat up against Victor's chest. Victor was so warm, Yuuri could feel it beneath the t-shirt. Yuuri was being so unprofessional. He should've known he wouldn't be able to handle this- whatever it was. Not with Victor. But Yuuri just wanted him so badly. If he could just get a moment to himself, just to get the right mindset. Yuuri watched as Victor pulled away, looking thoughtful.

'What's wrong?' Victor asked, accent folding the w's to v's. Yuuri couldn't stop the shudder that went through him when he heard it. But the upset he felt; with Phichit, with the whole situation, twisted inside his stomach. It weighed him down and cooled his arousal right down, killing the mood. Victor kept touching Yuuri's face, thumb applying a little more pressure. 'Am I doing something you don't like?'

Victor was smiling, slanted and inviting, but his eyes looked concerned. Yuuri tried to smile back.

'Nothing is wrong, you're wonderful,' Yuuri said, the second half of the sentence coming out quietly breathless. Victor's eyes darkened when he heard it and Yuuri's ebbing arousal surged back in response, softening cock twitching a little. 'I- uh, I just... Sorry, just got lost a bit in my head there.'

Victor was watching him very carefully, blue eyes lost to the bloomed arousal in them. But then he blinked slowly, hands coming away from Yuuri very softly, almost like he was coaxing somehow. Scared of frightening Yuuri off. (Like there was any chance Yuuri would leave Victor). Victor took Yuuri's hand, leading him further into the hotel room. Yuuri tried to feel relief, having the familiar status quo put into motion. All the lights were on this time though, casting little shadows in the small room. Victor led Yuuri to the bed, sitting him down but Victor didn't move to sit next with him. Yuuri could see that Victor was still aroused, but less obviously so. It was a strange thing, looking up from the bed like this. Yuuri tried not to feel nervous at the position.

He tried not to let clients stand over him like that.

'How about some tea?' Victor asked brightly, bow lip curved like a heart. Yuuri's mouth fell open before he could stop it, surprised. That- wasn't a question he was expecting.

'Sorry?' Yuuri squeaked, flinching when he heard it and feeling the blush come before he could stop it. His voice hadn't squeaked since he was like eighteen. And now it decided to try that embarrassing feature out again?

Victor snorted at Yuuri's mortification, which only served to make it worse. Yuuri put his head into his hands, leaning down on his knees. This was a nightmare.

'You're so cute,' Victor said, before turning and walking over to the desk facing the bed. Yuuri looked as Victor's bare feet vanish from behind his fingers. Victor kept talking, clearly happy to ignore Yuuri's complete breakdown; 'I think the fanciest thing in this complimentary basket is green tea. Is that okay? If not I can order some room service for you.'

'Sounds great,' Yuuri mumbled dejectedly, unsure he was able to try anything else but agree to the situation for what it was now. Then Yuuri realised what Victor had said. He sat up straight, waving his hands in a mad motion; 'I mean no! No, no! You don't have to do that. I'm sure the tea is fine.'

Victor chuckled again and Yuuri discovered it was possible for someone's laugh to kill you. Because hearing Victor laugh like that made all the air in Yuuri's lungs run out, like he was suffocating. It felt amazing.

Victor left for a moment to fill the kettle with water from the bathroom sink. Yuuri watched him as he moved, taking in every little detail he could to try and stave off the thoughts about Phichit and their fight. It was difficult, but every time Yuuri felt like his thoughts would overwhelm him, he noticed something about Victor he didn't know.

Like the fact that Victor's jeans were ever so slightly too long for him without shoes on, the cuffs on them bunched under his heels. The way Victor stuck his tongue out when he tried to understand the plug on the kettle. His slightly curly hair. Yuuri had never seen Victor's hair when it wasn't styled.

They sat in silence for the whole thing, the only sound being the vssh of the now boiling kettle. Yuuri watched as Victor fixed the two complimentary mugs upright, putting a tea bag in each. Yuuri liked the way Victor's muscles moved, the way his back rolled. He really liked it.

'There,' Victor said at last, bringing the mug over to Yuuri, his own in his other hand. Yuuri took the mug carefully, glad to have something to focus on. He looked at the tea bag still sitting inside, watched the steam curl up. Victor sat down next to him. His shoulders brushed Yuuri's, all warmth. 'Now, why don't you tell me what's wrong?'

'I'm so sorry,' Yuuri said quietly, ashamed of himself. 'This is terribly unprofessional.'

'I don't mind!' Victor replied quickly, startling Yuuri so he sloshed his mug around. Yuuri looked at Victor, trying to read the expression on his face. Victor bit his lip, looking slightly sheepish. 'Sorry. Please, continue.'

'There- there really isn't much I can say. I just have something on my mind,' Yuuri admitted, stammering a little with nerves. He really shouldn't be this honest. It was bound to put Victor off him. No one wanted an escort with feelings. Yuuri was a fantasy, someone the client could lose themselves in. Fantasies didn't have anxiety.

'It's clearly bothering you,' Victor said gently, putting his own steaming mug on the floor by their feet. His hand was hot now, so hot Yuuri could feel it quite distinctly when Victor moved it to Yuuri's knee. 'Tell me about it. Talking about things always makes me feel better!'

'Ugh.' Yuuri chewed the inside of his cheek, unsure. Then Victor smiled again, so earnestly and Yuuri gave in. 'I had a fight with someone.'

Something crossed over Victor's face, shuttering emotion. But then it was gone, Victor's face skillfully blank.

'I see,' he said slowly. Victor's grip on Yuuri's knee tightened slightly, fingers pressing in. 'Boyfriend?'

Yuuri laughed, unable to stop himself; 'What? No. Definitely not.'

'Was it that ridiculous a question?' Victor teased, hand now rubbing softly on Yuuri's knee. Yuuri watched his face, trying not to focus on his lips.

'Boyfriends are not really-' Victor edged a little closer, his other hand coming around Yuuri's waist. Yuuri tried to hold his mug steady. 'I don't have a boyfriend.'

'No?' Victor asked. He started the next sentence at length, voice low; 'So... you're not seeing anyone?'

'Outside of work?'

Victor blinked owlishly, eyes so blue.

'Oh. Yes, of course. Outside of work.'

'No,' Yuuri confessed, hands coming around the mug. It was still too hot to hold with his palms, but Yuuri tried anyway. He looked away from Victor, focusing at the hotel wall.

'Do you ever wish you did?'

Yuuri thought about that for a moment.

'No, not really,' Yuuri answered honestly. Victor's rubbing stilled a bit, just a quiet presence now. His fingertips stiff against the fabric of Yuuri's slacks. Yuuri shrugged, hoping to alleviate some of the awkwardness; 'I guess I never gave it much thought.'

Victor didn't say anything for a long while, seemingly lost in thought and Yuuri was too nervous to speak himself. Instead, Yuuri just stared ahead at the wall, resting his mug against his other knee.

'So, who do you have to fight with?' Victor asked after what felt like an age. Yuuri released his shoulders, not realising how tensely he'd been holding them. He turned back to meet Victor's gaze, loving the faded freckles Victor had.

'My fla- friend. My friend,' Yuuri said, catching himself quickly before he revealed too much. Yuuri took a tentative sip of his tea. Still too hot. 'He's angry with me because I'm missing something of his tonight to be here.'

'Because of me?' Victor queried and Yuuri nodded in reply. Victor was closer again, his body turned towards Yuuri now, chest against Yuuri's shoulders. Yuuri tried not to lean into him. Tried being the operative word, as Yuuri found himself leaning into Victor anyway. Unable to resist. Victor suggested; 'Birthday?'

'No. He's celebrating,' Yuuri said, looking over to Victor and seeing that they were very close now, his body caged almost by Victor's arm behind him and Victor's hand on his leg. 'He did really well today at- well...'

Yuuri licked his lips, teetering on the edge of telling Victor the truth. Phichit probably wouldn't approve; he'd say Yuuri was being careless. Reckless, maybe. Yuuri huffed spitefully to himself, emboldened by the thought of taking this small advantage after Phichit had been so cruel earlier. Yuuri decided to push forward. It was his last night with Victor anyway, so what was the harm?

'He's actually competing in Skate America,' Yuuri confessed before he could change his mind, trying not to feel nervous as Victor's eyebrows rose with surprise, mouth slipping open. 'He's currently in third place. He wanted to celebrate tonight. But I couldn't go-'

'Who is he?' Victor interrupted immediately, blue eyes burning with interest. Yuuri leaned back slightly as Victor moved forward, clutching his mug defensively to his chest. Did Victor really pay that little attention to his other competitors? 

Maybe Yuuri had been wronging him all this time to think Victor found Yuuri just that unimpressive four years ago.

'Chulanont. Phichit Chulanont,' Yuuri replied quietly, like maybe Victor wouldn't hear him as he was suddenly feeling very keen guilt at discussing Phichit with a client. Even if that client was Victor. But of course Victor heard him.

'Celestino's guy?!' Victor exclaimed, looking even more excited. Then his smile dropped, eyes turning a deeper blue, like the colour was melting. 'Do you know him through- I mean, is he a client of yours?'

'NO!' Yuuri cried, scandalised and using one of his hands to wave manically. Like the very thought of Phichit in that way was so insane it demanded to be physically pushed out of the conversation. 'Absolutely not. No way.'

Victor smiled wolfishly, leaning forward to kiss Yuuri very lightly on the neck. Yuuri shivered, mug shaking slightly in his hand. Victor looked up at Yuuri, eyes still dark; 'Good. I'd have been jealous.'

Yuuri didn't know what to say to that. Some clients teased about that before, but Yuuri had never had encountered jealousy properly. And though he knew Victor was joking, there was still some niggling voice in the back of Yuuri's head saying to make a note of it anyway. Another, deeper part of Yuuri was thrilled of the idea that Victor Nikiforov would be jealous over him.

'So you do know about skating?' Victor ventured but Yuuri shook his head.

'Ah, no! Not exactly.' Yuuri tried to backpedal, not wanting to undo all the distance he'd put between himself and the skating world of Victor. The lies came a little quickly, but not too rushed thankfully; 'I don't pay much attention. Only to what Phichit's doing really.'

'Were you at the rink today?' Victor asked like Yuuri hadn't spoken, his eyes now dropping to Yuuri's chest. He looked like he was getting caught in his own thoughts. Yuuri nodded before he noticed that Victor still wasn't looking at him.

'Yes.'

'Did you see me skate?' Victor asked, looking up to meet Yuuri's eye. Yuuri swallowedd thickly, stomach tight with nerves. Not trusting himself to speak anymore, Yuuri nodded silently. Victor beamed, high cheeks turning slightly pink. 'Good! I so hoped you would.'

'You- you did?' Yuuri was stunned. Victor Nikiforov had skated in competition with the hope that he, Katsuki Yuuri, would be watching? That was almost as good as when Victor skated for Yuuri alone the night before. Almost.

'What did you think?' Victor continued, ignoring Yuuri's stammering. 'Did you like it?'

'Of course I did!' Yuuri replied before he help himself. 'You were amazing! More than that.'

Victor looked incredibly pleased. Smug almost. Yuuri blushed at his own excitement. Victor squeezed Yuuri's knee before leaning forward, closing the distance between them. He kissed Yuuri sweetly, just for a moment, before he was gone again. Yuuri's eyes fluttered, taken aback with how much he enjoyed the chaste kiss. Subconciously, Yuuri leant forward, after Victor's retreating lips.

'I'm glad you thought so,' Victor said softly, not quite a whisper. 'Where's Phichit?'

'Hmm?' Yuuri was distracted, unable to look away from Victor's lips, which were now open in a small laugh at him.

'Your friend. Where has he gone for his celebration?' Victor asked again, Yuuri catching up enough to pay attention this time.

'Oh. None of them are over twenty-one, so they're probably in the apartment,' Yuuri answered, unsure why Victor was asking. Yuuri froze when he realised what he had said, mentioning his home. He desperately thought back, relieved that he hadn't specified who's apartment.

'Let me get dressed!' Victor exclaimed, hopping off the bed and gracefully side-stepping the mug he'd left on the floor. Yuuri frowned as he went, watching Victor go up to the wardrobe where some shirts were hanging and Victor's suitcase sat on the bench.

'What? Why?'

'I can't meet your friends looking like this, now can I? Never mind a fellow competitor!' Victor replied cheerfully, taking out a pair of dark trousers from the suitcase. Yuuri gaped, grip on his tea loosening a bit. Victor threw a look over his shoulder at Yuuri, eyes teasing. 'You should know better than anyone the importance of a good first impression!'

Victor wanted to spend their appointment with Yuuri and his friends. In Yuuri's apartment.

That was crazy. And that was saying something considering everything else that had already happened with Victor. But there was toeing the boundaries and then there was ignoring them completely. This time Yuuri had to be firm. He absolutely should not and would not let this continue. Victor was a client. A stranger that had hired Yuuri for sex. He most certainly could not meet Yuuri's friends and he was definitely not coming to Yuuri's home. Absolutely not. 

 


 

Victor and Yuuri were in a cab, on their way to Yuuri's apartment up in New Center.

How this had happened, Yuuri was not entirely sure. But it was happening, despite all of Yuuri's protestations and lamenting. Victor had been insistent, saying he refused to be the reason Yuuri and Phichit fell out. He went on to say that having such things on his mind was bound to interfere with Phichit's skating, too. It was almost like he knew all of Yuuri's weakpoints and was specifically targeting them. Though Yuuri knew it was just because Victor seemed to be a decent person.

A decent, completely insane person.

Yuuri had tried calling Phichit, but the phone had rung out. Phichit was likely ignoring Yuuri's calls. It hurt, but Yuuri had been subject to the screening before. Excluding small room-mate spats, the last time they had fallen out properly was just after Phichit had recovered from his skating injury in sophmore year. It had been just as unpleasant then. Yuuri switched to texting, hoping Phichit would read them.

20:22PM I know you're still mad. But I'm on my way home now.

Yuuri tapped his foot nervously on the car-floor, fidgeting in his seat while he waited for Phichit to reply. Victor seemed perfectly happy to ignore Yuuri's fretting, instead watching Detroit pass slowly through the window as they ambled through the midtown traffic. When Yuuri's phone went off, he jumped, scrambling to open the message.

20:24PM Really? You cancelled your thing?

Yuuri hovered his thumb over the iPhone keypad, afraid of Phichit's reaction. But better to bite the bullet now.

20:25PM Not exactly. He's coming with me.

Yuuri waited. Counted the streetlamps outside as his heart rabbited in his chest. One, two, three, four, five...

Beep-beep!

20:26PM WHAT?! Are you crazy? (/`A´)/

20:26PM Just trust me! You'll understand when I get there.

20:27PM You can't explain now? Can I call you?

Yuuri glanced over to where Victor was sitting. He was dressed beautifully now. Crisp white shirt with dark buttons under a light grey, patterned sweater and matching his straight trousers. Polished shoes and long, brown overcoat. He'd styled his hair, to Yuuri's silent disappointment. His skin caught the orange glow of the streetlamps like the ocean caught moonlight. Yuuri felt his heart twist, turn itself over as if it wanted to look at Victor itself.

20:28PM No, not now. Phichit, I need you to trust me. Please. I know what I'm doing.

Yuuri watched the little speech bubble signalling Phichit's reply this time instead of distracting himself. Forced himself to pay absolute attention, like somehow Phichit could feel the effort Yuuri was giving. The next message came through and somewhere, deep in Yuuri, a noose loosened.

20:28PM Alright. Fine. But only because you're you. (ω)v

20:29PM Thank you. (^∀^)There's some stuff I need to go through with you though. You can't mention that I live there. Lock my bedroom, key is in the kitchen drawer. And my name is Eros. Not Yuuri. Under all circumstances. Even if I catch fire you do not call me by my name. You wanted to be my back-up, so here we go. Okay?

20:30PM Okay. You can count on me. But you're crazy. You do know that right?

Yuuri looked over to Victor, felt that tight feeling his in chest again.

Yeah. He knew he was crazy.

 

 


 

'EROS!'

Yuuri cringed instantly at Phichit's high voice and over-exageration. Really, he should've expected this. But still. Phichit opened the door widely, grinning with his eyes closed and Western music blaring in the background. Phichit was dressed a little nicer than usual, black shirt under a nice green sweater. But his black hair was still messy, bringing his smiling form together haphazardly. Yuuri tried to focus on his fondness for Phichit instead of the crushing embarrassment at Phichit's attempt of being back-up.

Phichit opened his eyes to the two of them, smile dropping instantly once his gaze moved over Yuuri's shoulder to where Victor was. Yuuri closed his eyes, dropping his head in exasperation at the impending disaster.

'Oh,' Phichit said and Yuuri groaned. 'Woah-ohh, oh my GOD! OH MY GOD!'

'Hello!' Victor boomed merrily, like this wasn't the most awkward introduction to ever happen in the history of introductions. 'We didn't get a chance to meet properly at the rink today. Victor, pleased to meet you!'

Yuuri felt an arm come around his waist and opened his eyes to see Victor leaning across next to him with his hand outstretched towards Phichit. Phichit had his mouth open, grey eyes wide and shining. Yuuri looked between them, very conscious of Victor's arm wrapped possessively around him. Phichit reached out, almost in a trance and took Victor's hand, letting Victor shake it for them.

'Yeah,' Phichit said slowly, whole body trembling for a moment. 'Uh-huh. Yep. Know who you are. Wow.'

Phichit kept shaking Victor's hand, eyes seemingly stuck on Victor's face.

Yuuri blushed terribly, mind struggling to catch up to the nightmare he currently found himself in. There was worlds colliding... And then there was this mess. If someone had told Yuuri last week that he was going to tell Phichit the truth about his career, and get hired by Victor Nikiforov, and have both those things come together the weekend of Skate America, he would probably have laughed and then cried at them not to make fun of his dreams and nightmares like that.

'Yu-ros. Eros,' Phichit stuttered, quickly changing course but not before Yuuri noticed his slip-up. He glared at Phichit, who finally managed to look away from Victor to meet the look Yuuri was throwing at him. Phichit seemed to be too in shock to take notice though. 'I didn't think when you said you had a- ah, guest that it would be Victor Nikiforov.'

'Eros is full of surprises,' Victor chirped in and Yuuri was pretty sure that if the floor cracked open and swallowed him, he'd be fine with it. More than fine with it. In fact, Yuuri practically welcomed it, especially if Victor was going to be this unhelpful. Yuuri looked at where Phichit was still holding Victor's hand, even though their shake had long ended.

'Phichit,' Yuuri hissed, nodding his head towards their joined hands. That startled Phichit out of his reverie, where he let go of Victor's hand as if burned him. 'Can we come in?'

'Oh, right! Yeah! Of course, come in!' Phichit spluttered, finally stepping out of the way to let Victor and Yuuri into the apartment. To Yuuri's embarrassment, Phichit also gave a quick bow. Then Yuuri realised the bow was for Victor, not him.

Once inside, Yuuri was relieved to see his bedroom door closed, happy that Phichit had listened to him.

Victor's arm didn't move at all. If anything, he held onto Yuuri tighter. Where they were touching was warm, spreading heat all down Yuuri's spine. Yuuri really didn't want to move from this position, but there was no way he was going to be able to take his coat off with Victor holding him like that. Yuuri carefully moved Victor's arm off his, smiling as he did. Victor's face was genuine, squeezing Yuuri briefly before he let go.

'Eros,' Phichit said, the name sounding extremely foreign in his voice. Like Phichit was choking on it somehow. Yuuri managed to look away from Victor, glancing over to Phichit. 'Could you help me with something? In the bedroom, just- just for a sec?'

'Sure,' Yuuri replied, turning back to Victor. With Phichit there, watching, any confidence Yuuri had in he and Victor's arrangement vanished. Whereas Eros would simply lean up and kiss Victor's cheek, Yuuri was too nervous for that. Instead, he touched Victor's chest, fingers splayed. He watched Victor's face, focusing on his eyes; 'I'll be right back. The living room is just down the hall.'

'I'll be waiting,' Victor purred, smile crooked. What Yuuri lacked, Victor evidently had in spades as he moved forward with no preamble, kissing Yuuri just a bit too hard. Yuuri yielded immediately, knees trembling and butterflies erupting in his stomach. Then Victor was gone, slipping down the hall as he shed his coat.

When Phichit dragged Yuuri into his room, he shut the door with a shaking hand. Phichit turned to look at Yuuri, who was carefully avoiding his gaze by focusing on all the boxes Phichit hadn't unpacked yet. Phichit cleared his throat with exaggeration and Yuuri flinched inward, slowly beginning to take his coat off.

'So, are we just going to ignore the fact that the guy who hired you, as a freaking escort, is Victor Nikiforov?!' Phichit hurried out, waving his hands frantically towards Yuuri. Yuuri flushed again, shrugging awkwardly as he shook his coat down. 'And you didn't tell me!'

'Ah...'

'No wonder you didn't want to come. You should've just said.'

'I wanted to explain in person,' Yuuri responded quietly. Phichit scoffed, sounding a bit manic.

'Oh, well. You got the in-person bit down. So let's try the expla- what are you wearing?' Phichit trailed off, looking at Yuuri with a odd quirk in his eyebrows. Yuuri shifted uncomfortably, very aware of the feminine shirt and tight pants. Phichit shook his head, tossing his hand in Yuuri's direction; 'Never mind. Not important. What's important is that Victor Nikiforov, the man you've been in love with for about thirteen years is in our living room!'

'Shh!' Yuuri cried, stepping forward to cover Phichit's mouth as he got too loud. Phichit widened his eyes at him but Yuuri kept talking; 'Careful, he might hear you.'

'Mmf-o?' Phichit mumbled against Yuuri's fingers. Yuuri released him, but didn't move out of Phichit's space, just in case. Phichit stammered for moment before he continued; 'So? He must know that. Anyone who saw you skate at the Grand Prix that year would've seen you were a fan. Half your sillouettes were inspired by Victor!'

Yuuri took his already quite worried bottom lip back into his mouth. Phichit recognised the gesture immediately, frowning slightly.

'What? What is it?'

'Victor doesn't...'

'Doesn't what?' Phichit repeated at length. Yuuri took a very deep breath.

'Victor doesn't remember me. He doesn't know I'm the same person,' Yuuri said very, very quickly, words tripping over each other. 'He doesn't know I was a skater and he definitely doesn't know I'm that skater.'

Phichit didn't say anything for a moment, eyes wide like saucers. Phichit then took Yuuri's hands in his own, putting both of them to Yuuri's chest and meeting his gaze very sternly. Phichit annuciated each word of his next sentence with a nod; 'Yuuri. That's messed up. That's really, really messed up.'

'I know,' Yuuri whined, stomping his foot a little childishly. 'But please, just- just try to ignore that for tonight. Just a little bit.'

'Ignore the fact that my best-friend is being paid by his childhood hero, who also happens to be my competitor, as an escort? Leading to five-time World Championship winner Victor Nikiforov being in our living room?' Phichit recited back like he was giving a statement in court. Before Yuuri could answer, Phichit's face grew pale. 'Oh my god.'

'What?' Yuuri asked, but Phichit had already let him go and was opening the bedroom door. Phichit looked at him, panicked.

'I just left Leo and Guang-Hong alone! In our living room, with Victor Nikiforov!' Phichit exclaimed, before bolting down the hall. Yuuri sighed to himself, self-consciously adjusting his silk shirt. Time to face the music.

 


 

 

Phichit Chulanont, (who was, Victor now knew, the Thai representative), had a nice place. A really nice place, even if half of it still seemed to be in boxes. He must've moved in recently.

But Victor was far more fond of Phichit's choice of friends.

Eros was exceptionally different in Phichit's presence. The sexy, confident sensuality that Eros practically oozed over the last two evenings was completely gone in the small, intimate space of Phichit's living room. Eros was almost an entirely different person. He stuttered and mumbled his sentences sometimes, blushing very easily when Phichit would tease him. He held onto his bottle of cheap beer very tightly, fingers a little white with it.

Victor adored every single thing he was doing. He loved the way Eros tucked stray hairs behind his ear cutely, the way he had his legs tucked up on the couch like he lived in Phichit's space. He was so comfortable, so happy to lean against Victor's shoulders surrounded by pop music and friends. Even though he pulled back when he noticed, Victor was happy Eros felt comfortable enough to lean. It was almost like they were on a real date. Like real people.

It was wonderful and better than anything Victor could possibly have hoped for.

Victor couldn't believe his luck. While at the start of the evening Victor had every intention of keeping his plan of 'staying in the professional boundaries' in motion, Victor couldn't resist the suggestion that he take Eros to see his friend. Eros had been so distracted, so upset. How could Victor just stand by and let that be? 

The party, if it could be called that, was a just the same group of three skaters Victor had seen in the rink that afternoon with some quiet drinks. Leo de le Iglesia, the only native American competitor this assignment and Guang-Hong Ji, the Chinese representative. Leo was tall and slender, long brown hair pushed back behind his ears and olive skinned. Guang-Hong was much shorter, every inch the blushing fan from beneath auburn curls and pale skin, like Eros'. They were both much younger than Victor had previously guessed and they were quite starstruck. Victor was no fool, he knew how he affected the younger skaters. It was still incredibly flattering how excited how they and Phichit were to have Victor join them.

It was obvious that they hadn't met Eros before, Phichit having to introduce them once he and Eros had joined them. Victor thought it was sweet how eager they were to pay just as much attention to Eros, despite the fact they were in the middle of asking Victor to take some selfies with them. They were good people, as far as Victor was concerned. He was sorry he hadn't made more of an effort with them at the rink.

But more than that, it showed how private Eros was as a person. The fact that he let Victor share this evening with him meant more than Victor was able to put into words.

After Phichit told a particularly funny story about his coach, gaining even a chuckle from Victor who was well-acquainted with Celestino's drunken antics so late in his career, Eros gave up trying to keep any distance. He leaned fully against Victor now, head pillowed on Victor's shoulder. Victor preened, stomach fluttering with satisfaction. Phichit looked proud of himself from his perch on the coffee table, taking another sip of beer. The living room consisted of a small couch, which Victor and Eros were occupying and one arm chair to the left of the coffee table. On the armchair, Leo was sat with a fairly tipsy Guang-Hong teetering on the arm of it.

'I think I've had too much,' Guang-Hong muttered, staring down at his bottle of half-drunk beer like it might bite him. Leo laughed at him quietly, taking the bottle from his hand to put on the table.

'I'm surprised to find you drinking before the free-skate,' Victor scolded, though he held no true chide. Guang-Hong squeaked, Leo looking a bit sheepish. Eros looked up at him, one eyebrow raised and Victor laughed in spite of himself. Now who was being scolded?

'It's only a little. They're fine,' Phichit replied, cheeks pink and hair even messier.

'How did you even get the beer? I thought Americans were very strict about that,' Victor asked genuinely as Leo nodded in agreement, a hand now moving to hold Guang-Hong steady. Victor wasn't worried- it was still early and Guang-Hong had a lot of time to sleep it off. Besides, he was seventeen. His recovery period would be immaculate for another year at least.

'I borrowed Eros' ID,' Phichit said, grinning wickedly. Victor couldn't stop the noise of delight that escaped him as Eros made a disapproving groan.

'Really? You look nothing alike.'

'You would be amazed at how racist Americans can be,' Phichit said matter-of-factly, causing Leo to cry out in protest with; 'Hey! Do not hold me accountable for white people!'

Victor smiled to himself, weirdly self-conscious of the fact that he was not only the oldest person in the room, but also the only white person. It felt strange, to feel so aware of himself. It was new, to be so far away from his usual evening activities. To be in some twenty-year olds apartment in Detroit, with cheap American beer and Spotify playing on a ten-dollar portable speaker was a far, far cry from the concrete-walled loft clubs and cocktails of Moscow.

Eros shivered next to him, bringing Victor's attention right back to him. Eros' pretty brown eyes were watching Phichit, mouth in a gentle smile. His gelled hair was coming away just a little and Victor was again struck with the image of what Eros might look like if he didn't style it. Victor was sure it would suit him, choppy bangs and dark fly-aways.

'Are you cold?' Victor asked, arm that was keeping a chaste distance by being stretched out across the back of the couch now coming down around Eros' shoulders, pulling Eros closer to Victor. Eros blushed, eyes darting towards Phichit.

'Um. Maybe. But I'm fine,' Eros said quickly, glancing up at Victor with his dark eyes. Victor felt his heart do that thing it always did when Eros looked at him like that. Like it was catching it's breath.

'Why don't you grab a hoodie from- my room?' Phichit suggested, words slowing down towards the end of the sentence like he had to think about them. Victor wondered if maybe it was Phichit that had had too much.

'No! Really, I'm fine. I just need to figure out how to turn that heater on,' Eros said thoughtfully, looking over at the radiator that was under the window. Victor thought that was an odd thing to say. If anything, Phichit should be the one to have to learn how to do that.

'Here,' Victor said, putting his beer on the ground and extraciating himself from Eros to pull his jumper off and over his head. Eros blinked at him, not getting the chance to speak before Victor gathered the jumper up and popped it over Eros' head. 'Wear this.'

Eros was a deep red now, all the way down his cheeks, neck, beneath his deep blue collar. Victor wanted to follow the colour with his tongue, the thought suddenly very present and resistent to being put off. Eros mumbled a quiet thank you before slipping his arms through the sleeves. It was too big for Eros, sleeves too long so they folded over his delicate wrists. Victor was struck immediately with how good Eros looked in Victor's clothes. It made something inside him purr in satisfaction.

The feeling only increased when Eros resumed his position back on Victor's shoulder. Victor put his arm back around Eros, enjoying the feel of his own sweater underneath his fingertips.

The conversation continued cheerily for the next hour, drinking becoming less and less as people got more involved in their stories. Turned out Guang-Hong's go to topic was food and he raved to everyone about the delicacies of his home province, even turning boldly towards Victor to explain his love of pirozhki of all things. Leo was quieter, usually interjecting tidbits for Guang-Hong and his stories. It was evident the two were friends outside of this. Victor wondered idly if they'd been assigned somewhere together before.

Idly, because nearly all of Victor's attention was focused on Eros, who was drawing circles on Victor's thigh with his finger. He didn't seem to be aware of it, face turned towards the now very excited Guang-Hong as he tried to explain the difference between a crêpe and a galette, but if anything that made it even better. The fact that Eros was so happy to touch Victor, so comfortable to take that initiative. It made every nerve in Victor's body spark, sending messages up and down, between Victor's brain and his- well, the point was that Victor was enjoying it all very much.

Victor's thoughts were interrupted by the loud noise of a camera shutter. He just caught Phichit with his phone up as Eros cried out in protest, hand leaving Victor's thigh to make a stopping gesture.

'Phichit!'

'Sorry! I couldn't resist!' Phichit said, though he didn't look all that sorry about it. 'Just Instagram, please!'

'No,' Eros said sternly and Phichit pouted profusely. Eros replied, now in a different language. It could've been Japanese, could've been Thai even. Victor hadn't a clue. But the sound of it coming out in Eros' voice sent all thought tumbling south. He crossed his legs, hopefully discreetly as Eros sat up as he spoke.

'Do you have an Instagram?' Victor asked, interrupting the fast language, whatever it was. Phichit looked at him, dark eyes shimmering with delight.

'Yes!' Phichit exclaimed, instantly turning his phone over to show Victor the screen. Victor blinked at the brightness for a moment. 'Would you like to follow me?'

'Of course! Especially if you take such embarrassing photos of my little katsudon,' Victor answered, taking Phichit's phone for a moment to read his username. The room fell silent, even Guang-Hong and Leo's conversation ending as Eros squeaked exceptionally loudly at Victor's words. Phichit looked at Victor like he had given him a great gift. Victor looked around at all of them; 'What is it?'

'W-what did you call me?' Eros asked quietly, eyes now solely focused on Victor. Victor thought back and felt himself grow hot under the collar.

Fuck.

He had only called Eros that in his head. Only a little. Not even enough for it to really count as a nickname. But the word had been so cute the way Eros had said the night before, Victor looking it up on Google Translate specfically so he could try and recreate the way the letters tumbled together so fluidly. He really hadn't meant to, only thinking of calling Eros that in a teasing way. Victor had hoped that by showing Eros he was paying attention to the things Eros told him, to the things he liked, Eros would be more inclined to share more.

Right now though, he probably thought Victor was insane. Still, no reason to panic. Victor had been in worse situations. He could charm his way out of this, too.

'Which? Katsudon?' Victor said casually, turning his palm nonchalantly. 'I thought it was cute.'

'It's...' Eros swallowed and Victor tried not to stare at his bobbing adam's apple. From here, Victor could just about spot the bite he'd left on Eros' neck, red edges tipping over the hem of his own sweater. 'It's not really a pet-name.'

'I can't believe it,' Phichit breathed out before erupting into laughter, leaving a very confused looking Guang-Hong and Leo to stare between the three of them. 'You told him about the pork-cutlet bowls?!'

And then Phichit was laughing again, Leo turning to Guang-Hong and asking quietly; 'What's a pork-cutlet bowl?'

Eros put his face in his hands, clearly embarrassed and Victor felt his heart tug at the sight. He hoped Eros didn't mind too much. Feeling bold, Victor leaned across the couch to gather Eros back into his arms, urging him to fall with him back against the pillows. It was a bit forward and probably a bit personal, but Victor couldn't resist leaving Eros on his side of the couch quietly mortified.

'I'm sorry, miliy,' Victor said genuinely, switching back to the Russian and kissing the top of Eros' head. Eros made another small squeak, burying his face into Victor's chest. If this was how Eros reacted to katsudon, it was probably very good that he didn't understand what Victor was calling him the rest of the time. If Victor decided to tell him, he was definitely going to do so in private. If the reaction was anything like this one, then Victor wanted to keep it for himself.

There was the sound of the camera on Phichit's phone going again, causing Eros to break out of his embarrassed stupor. He threw something at Phichit in the other language again, gaining a reply from Phichit that was just as incomprehensible. Phichit was still smiling though, so whatever they were talking about, Phichit clearly wasn't in that much trouble.

'It's getting late,' Eros said, pulling away from Victor slightly. He met Victor's gaze and Victor was taken aback by the heat in his eyes. The reason Victor had crossed his legs became vividly apparent once again. 'I think we should head off. After all, you all have a competition tomorrow.'

'Will you be watching again?' Victor asked because he wanted to know and he couldn't stop himself. Eros smiled slyly and the coy nature of his professional persona was beginning to edge it's way back in. Victor smiled back in anticipation, looking forward to reacquainting himself with that part of Eros. Especially now he had all these new facets to apply as well.

'Let's go,' Eros whispered, slinking of the couch in a way that was practically sinful. Victor even caught Leo glancing over from the armchair, cheeks red and not just from the beer.

Victor took Eros' hand, using the other to aimlessly give Phichit's phone back to him.

'Okay.'

Chapter Text

Yuuri pushed Victor down onto the hotel bed, barely giving Victor the chance to get his balance before Yuuri was straddling his lap.

Victor had been in Yuuri's home. He had sat with Yuuri's friends, drank beer bought with Yuuri's ID. Sat on Yuuri's couch, played with Yuuri's hair and it had been the most intoxicating and bizarre forms of intimacy Yuuri had ever experienced with anyone.

Yuuri had never felt more dangerously exposed, never felt as dizzingly alive as he did right now. Like Victor was more than air; it was like he was a storm. Electric, thundering- splitting Yuuri's life open like lightning splits the sky.

Coming down onto Victor's lap, thighs on either side of his waist, Yuuri ground down with very deliberate purpose, cock growing as Victor moaned from it. He could feel Victor getting hard beneath him, heard the way Victor's breath was catching.

Victor's hands came up immediately, one at the junction of Yuuri's hip and the other into Yuuri's hair, tilting his head so that when Victor kissed him, it was all deep and easy give.

Yuuri groaned loudly, rolling his hips down and deliriously chasing the insane, spiraling feeling that Victor gave him. That letting Victor in gave him.

Before Yuuri could do any more, his watch beeped. Victor froze and Yuuri did, too. Stomach dropping, Yuuri quickly made a decision. He'd already broken so many rules... What was one more?

Yuuri brought his wrist up to his mouth, pulling the watch's strap out of it's loop with his teeth as Victor watched, blue eyes wide with shock as he did so. Yuuri then scrambled to turn the alarm off, to get the watch off. He threw it across the bed, up by the pillows.

Yuuri was breathing so heavily, panting really, with nerves. He ran his hands up and down Victor's chest, too full of brimming energy to stop moving. 

'I didn't hear anything,' Yuuri said quietly, hoping Victor would want what he wanted. 'Did you?'

Victor blinked at him for a moment, then he smiled and it was beautiful. 'Not a thing.'

'Does your offer still stand?' Yuuri mumbled against Victor's lips, tasting beer on his breath. Victor chased the words, tongue spreading Yuuri's lips open in an obscene o, corners of his lips too wet. Dripping almost from the intrusion.

'Wh- which? What?' Victor stammered, eyes closed and clearly no longer paying attention to anything but the way Yuuri pressed his tongue up against Victor's own between gaping lips.

Yuuri smirked, so happy to have Victor this way. Victor's hands moved without purpose, rubbing up and down Yuuri's sides, pressing down low on his back towards his ass- like Victor couldn't decide what he wanted to hold onto.

'Will you- ah, Victor!' Yuuri practically sobbed when Victor licked down from his mouth, along his jaw. It was so raw, so wet and Yuuri was so hard now. He wanted Victor so badly. Wanted Victor to crawl even more into his life, into his skin. Yuuri bounced a little on Victor's lap, simpering with the need. 'Will you make me feel good?'

Suddenly, there was a hand in Yuuri's hair again. His head was tugged backwards, back arching with the force and his throat exposed. Yuuri closed his eyes, breath so heavy and ass still slowly grinding onto the stiff cock beneath him.

A hot mouth pressed a kiss to Yuuri's throat, then another and another. Yuuri moaned as Victor's tongue slipped out of his mouth, twirling around the soft skin of his neck.

'Kotenok,' Victor growled into his throat and Yuuri keened at the sound of it, the Russian like a beacon of reality that made everything feel so much more tangible. That yes, this was really Victor Nikiforov. Victor Nikiforov was going to do this to Yuuri- again. Maybe even better than the first time. 'I want to make you feel so good that I ruin you for anyone else. I want to do things to you that no one else can.'

Yuuri whimpered, something hot prickling in the corners of his eyes but he kept them firmly shut, refusing to give into the emotion. The words were like molten metal, liquid and pooling in the spaces Yuuri and Victor had created between them where the lines of professionalism should've been.

But Yuuri didn't care. And when Victor's other hand trailed down, gripping suddenly so tight over Yuuri's cock, Yuuri felt like he was sparking from the inside out.

'Vic- ah, ah, Victor!' Victor tightened his grip, Yuuri's hips immediately canting forward into the touch.

'I want you to tell me what you want, pupsik,' Victor purred as he dragged his lips along Yuuri's throat, finally making it as far as his chin.

He took Yuuri's bottom lip between his teeth, sucking so hard it pulled but Yuuri just couldn't stop focusing on the feeling of his hips bucking into Victor's tight grip over his cock. He could feel the dampness in his trousers already, budding wetness with need. Yuuri scrambled his hands over Victor's shoulders, painfully aware that they were both still so dressed and they needed to not be and soon.

'Tell me.' A bite this time, the hand on Yuuri's cock now twisting to try and bury itself beneath the waistband of his trousers.

'You,' Yuuri gasped as Victor's hand made it to his aching erection, awkward with the tight confines of Yuuri's slacks, but so, so hot.

Victor wrapped his hand around Yuuri's cock, thumb teasing the slit and dipping into the beading wetness there. Yuuri whined as Victor cursed in English under his breath. Yuuri grinded forward into Victor's hand, desperate for more. 'I want you. Now, please.'

'Good. Like that,' Victor said and Yuuri preened at the praise, feeling hot blush erupt on his cheeks and overflow, down his neck in flushing heat. 'But let's do better.'

Yuuri managed to open his eyes at last, Victor's hand still buried in his hair, so he could mostly only see Victor through his lashes. Victor was smiling so wickedly, silver fringe flared around his face like a glittering fan.

Victor squeezed Yuuri's cock suddenly, thumb slipping more firmly between the slit and Yuuri couldn't even make a nosie, the pleasure was too intense. He just choked, trying not to lose Victor's gaze.

'Tell me what to do. Exactly what to do,' Victor drawled, releasing Yuuri's hair to drag his hand down Yuuri's neck, his chest, around his waist.

Victor pulled Yuuri flush against him, hand on Yuuri's cock now even more stuck. Victor was watching Yuuri with his blue, blue eyes. Swirling, like they were carrying the storm Yuuri was swept up in.

'Clothes. Off,' Yuuri managed to grit out. Victor smirked, teeth pointed and something shivered through Yuuri like the chimes his sister used to make.

'You, too.'

It was extremely hard to disentangle themselves from each other, but once they did Yuuri took no pretense. He was chasing something- a high, a fuck, both?

Yuuri wasn't sure. Victor was something alien, foreign in every sense of the word and he was snipping through the seams of Yuuri's carefully constructed life. And Yuuri wanted every moment of it. Soon, all the clothes were gone and Victor just kicked his own trousers away before Yuuri froze, stunned.

He had forgotten. Which sounded so stupid, but it was true. Yuuri had forgotten how beautiful Victor was. He found himself staring, tracing the lines of Victor's abs with his eyes. The bend of his arms and the tuck of his knees.

Victor's cock was not overly long, but it was thick. Thicker than his physique would suggest and Yuuri's own twitched against his stomach at the sight of it. The body Yuuri had admired for so long, had so desperately wanted to achieve. And there it was- there he was, standing right before Yuuri like a dream.

'Come here, miliy,' Victor said, chuckling with amusement. He must've noticed Yuuri staring. Victor took Yuuri's hand, guiding him back to the bed.

This time, Victor was the one who pressed Yuuri to the mattress. But Victor was all care, all gentle. He nudged Yuuri up and along until Yuuri's head was beneath the pillows. Yuuri tried not to breathe too heavily, but his chest was heaving anyway with adrenaline.

Yuuri could feel his heart pounding, heard it thumping in his ears as Victor crawled over him, almost touching but not. Yuuri arched his back, needing to feel him.

Victor leaned down and kissed him, Yuuri's mouth falling open at once for him. Victor's tongue rolled in and out of Yuuri's mouth, barely brushing against Yuuri's own until Yuuri got the idea, letting his mouth lie passively open as Victor's began to fuck into it slowly with wet, slick movements.

It was like Victor was picking up where they had left off earlier in the evening, only everything was so much hotter now with nothing between them. Yuuri bent his hips up, his cock just brushing along the drop of Victor's balls and they both groaned from the contact, Victor suddenly pressing down hard on Yuuri's body. Burning skin, down every inch.

Breaking the kiss, Victor stared down at Yuuri with his lips shining. His high cheeks were a deep red and Yuuri knew he probably wasn't doing much better. Then Victor was back down again, small, chaste kisses along Yuuri's jaw, up his cheek.

'What next?' Victor asked and it took Yuuri far too long to catch up to what exactly Victor was asking.

Victor pulled back, looking at Yuuri with eyes so dark it was the like the low glow of the bedside lamp was being dragged into them, leaving Yuuri stumbling blindly. Victor's lips tweaked, just a little, just at the corner. He rolled his hips down, his thick cock sliding against Yuuri's and leaving sticky precum in a line on Yuuri's abdomen.

'Do you want to fuck me, pupsik?'

Those words, from Victor Nikiforov- Yuuri arched off the bed, cock straight up against Victor's and neck curved as a strangled whimper escaped Yuuri.

'Yes,' Yuuri moaned, breathless and starting to rut upwards now, mind lost to the very image of having Victor beneath him, of feeling Victor around him... Yuuri hadn't topped in so long. It wasn't a frequent request of his clientele.

'God, look at you,' Victor said, accent so thick it stuck on his lips and Yuuri pulled him down with a hand around his nape, hoping to taste it.

Like he could lick the Russian snow off Victor's lips, could swallow the Moscow summer. Yuuri pushed his tongue into Victor's mouth, taking control with both hands now holding onto Victor's neck, anchoring Yuuri half-off the bed as he bent up to meet Victor for the deep kiss.

'One moment, pupsik,' Victor said between Yuuri's eager presses, leaning over the bed to fumble with the bedside drawer.

He returned with a bottle of Durex and a string of condoms. He threw them haphazardly by Yuuri's shoulder, one of his elbows bending too far and he fell down on top of Yuuri, to Yuuri's immense delight.

Yuuri ran his hands down Victor's shoulders, feeling the hard muscle there. He experimented, pressing his fingers in and meeting stiff resistance. It tore a groan out of him, knowing he was holding someone so strong, so powerful in his hands like he had Victor pinned.

It was heady, drunken how it stilled Yuuri's breath. Victor was so fit, so talented. He was going to do amazing tomorrow. More than that probably. He was going to be breath-taking.

Almost illegibly, the thought crossed over Yuuri's mind and he stopped Victor when the man went to move off him. Victor watched him with curious eyes, hair falling between them.

'W-wait,' Yuuri said and it didn't sound nearly as assertive as he hoped it would.

Yuuri shifted beneath them, cocks brushing together again and Yuuri groaned as Victor whined at the contact. Yuuri didn't know Victor; not like this. There was no way he could be sure that he wouldn't do some damage.

Yuuri was not going to be the reason Victor Nikiforov couldn't land his quads tomorrow afternoon. Would Victor even understand? Yuuri wasn't sure.

But Yuuri was sure they could compromise.

'You told me not to- not to...' Yuuri trailed off, suddenly self-conscious. Which was utterly bizarre but Yuuri could feel the tell-tale flush spread. Blooming hot over his chest. Victor watched him, one hand running up and down Yuuri's side and the other now holding Yuuri's face steady. Yuuri swallowed, hips squirming with the need to find friction. 'You said you wanted to... That you wanted-'

'I wanted to open you up,' Victor finished for him and Yuuri almost sighed with relief.

Yuuri nodded, not trusting himself to speak because now that it was out there, Yuuri wanted it. Exactly like that. Yuuri hadn't had anyone other than himself do that for quite sometime. Maybe even longer ago since the last time he had topped.

'Will you?' Yuuri asked, shy and nervous because he knew Victor suggested the other way around and he hoped so desperately that Victor wouldn't be disappointed.

But Victor just grinned and it was like all the stars were burning, setting Yuuri's universe ablaze.

'You're perfect,' Victor said and Yuuri was so taken aback that it was that surprise that caused him to squeak, not Victor suddenly gripping his waist so tightly it could bruise.

Victor kissed Yuuri's jaw, his throat, his collarbone. Went to where the bite he'd put there himself sat, tracing it's blurring edges with his teeth. Yuuri keened beneath him, felt precum bead and pool like a shiver. Felt as it started to slip down the length of his cock in anticipation, almost itching.

Victor bit him and given all their past experiences together, Yuuri should've expected it but he still yelped in shock, back off the bed and his cock throbbing. Victor leaned back, lifting himself up on his elbows and watching Yuuri from this height.

'Do you trust me?'

'Yes,' Yuuri said before he could think. Victor kissed the hollow of Yuuri's throat.

Then Victor was taking Yuuri's hands in his own, lifting them up and over Yuuri's head and it was the third time he'd done this and Yuuri was pretty sure Victor had a kink going on there, but he was perfectly happy to go along with it. Victor pinned Yuuri's hands above his head, blue eyes sharp like the edge of a skate.

'Can you hold your hands here?' Victor asked, voice low and his accent narrowing the vowels until they were pointed.

Yuuri nodded, mouth open in a pant as Victor had started to move his hips now. Slow, rolling ruts that set off fireworks at every point they were touching. Yuuri's cock was so hard, so in need of attention and Yuuri wondered when was the last time he'd waited so long for things like this to get started.

Victor leaned down and kissed him again, tongue forceful and Yuuri almost choked on it.

'Good boy.'

The praise was the strike to the matchstick arousal of the whole situation as Yuuri felt his cock twitch with it, stomach tying itself into the tightest knot it possibly could. Victor made a small noise of approval, which only served to make it worse and Yuuri turned his face into his shoulder.

'No,' Victor said, suddenly stern. A hand took Yuuri's chin, guiding Yuuri back so he was looking at Victor again. 'Don't hide your face from me.'

Yuuri met Victor's gaze, mouth stuttering when a warm hand came around his cock. Victor squeezed it, thumb rolling the foreskin and movement slow, but Yuuri found himself rutting up into it instantly, desperate for Victor's touch. Yuuri kept his hands where Victor wanted them, fingers twisting around in each other in an attempt to hold on.

Releasing his face, Victor kissed down Yuuri's chest, hand on his cock beginning to move in earnest now, foreskin dragging wetly over the head when Victor's fingers would bunch it. Yuuri was wiggling underneath him, body humming beneath the skin with mounting arousal.

Victor reached over for the condoms, Yuuri ignoring the scrambling to watch the descending trail of Victor's hair as it skimmed down across his skin.

With a groan of disappointment, Yuuri watched as Victor let his cock go to open a packet, hissing when Victor started to roll the cool, lubricated condom over him. Yuuri's hips canted upwards into the motion, excitement bubbling inside him, threatening to erupt. Victor looked so good- sat back on his knees, over Yuuri, just like that.

Better than anything Yuuri could ever have imagined. Better than the first time.

Then without any preamble, Victor bent down low and took Yuuri in his mouth and Yuuri almost screamed with surprise, the heat of Victor's mouth almost entirely alien.

Yuuri started moving before he could stop himself. Hips bucking, cock sliding between Victor's lips as Victor's tongue pressed flat against the underside of the shaft. Victor took it so deep, deeper than Yuuri could ever have expected and Yuuri groaned loudly when the head met resistance at the back of Victor's throat.

It took everything Yuuri had not to fuck straight up into that tightness. He closed his eyes as Victor hollowed out his cheeks with a strong suck, hands twisting above him.

Victor sucked him a little roughly, perhaps how he liked to be blown himself. Tongue hard in very demanding licks, lips tight and throat easily working around the intrusion as Victor would plummet Yuuri's cock down it when he'd sink lower.

It was so incredibly hot, to have Victor Nikiforov on his knees, with Yuuri's cock in his mouth. When Victor made a deep, grumbling noise of pleasure around it, Yuuri felt his cock leak with it as he moaned.

There was some movement from Victor, but he kept his mouth firm around Yuuri, head bobbing now with slick ease, combined lubricant and pooling salvia. Yuuri forced his eyes open, growling with a strong surge of possessive he didn't even know he was capable of as he saw Victor, hair twirled and mussed around his face like a halo around the most sinful thing.

Yuuri wanted him. All for himself, for as long as he could.

Yuuri barely noticed that Victor was fidgeting with something until he felt the cool tip of a finger at his entrance, lube slick and testing. Victor slid slowly off Yuuri's cock, lips shimmering with wet from his ministrations.

'All good, miliy?'

Yuuri whined at the Russian. It could mean anything- babe, sweetheart, whore.

But it didn't matter because coming from Victor's mouth it sounded almost as good as hearing his own name. Victor hadn't called him Eros, not once throughout their evening.

That dangerous, swooping adrenaline Yuuri felt when Victor got too close exploded inside him again and Yuuri ground his hips downwards, meeting the resistence of Victor's hand. Victor swore again as his eyes dropped to watch Yuuri's grind, in Russian- but no matter the language, Yuuri always knew a swear when he one.

'Victor,' Yuuri said breathlessly, arms rolling in tight motions and back bending. He waited for Victor to look at him again, for his dark eyes to meet Yuuri's and the moment their eyes met, Yuuri felt like his heart was folding itself in half. Bent down the middle with sheer want. 'Please. Touch me. Make me feel good. Please...'

Victor didn't need to be told twice, as he pushed his finger in with no more teasing.

Yuuri grunted stiffly with the invasion, though truthfully, Victor's finger slid in with quite some ease. Yuuri had only been stretched the night before, had stretched himself so often before then.

Recovery periods tended to be quite long now, if Yuuri was able to have them. Most days Yuuri didn't get a chance to tighten up completely. But after all the hours between now and their last appointment, Yuuri's body had started to retreat and the feeling of Victor's finger felt so intimate.

Starting from the beginning, having a stranger- Victor- do this for him was so unusual. The fact that Victor wanted to, was taking his time with slow, easy presses made something old and fragile awaken in Yuuri. Something Yuuri had long buried.

'You feel amazing,' Victor said, eyes now entirely focused on where he was teasing Yuuri's entrance. Yuuri watched him, panting and grinding down onto Victor's hand. 'You're so good for me, so good...'

Yuuri moaned loudly when Victor added a second finger as he praised him, rim stretching now properly. Victor used his other hand to pour lube down on Yuuri's perineum, letting the viscous liquid drip and pool down to where Victor was starting to scissor him.

Yuuri whined at the feeling, the chill and the dirtiness of it. It felt so lewd, so careless. Lube dripped down from where Victor was fucking him with his fingers, Yuuri could feel it coat his inner thighs and it had Yuuri's cock pulsing with desire.

I want you, Yuuri thought desperately, now moving with purpose as his ground his hips down, stammering breath as he took Victor deeper with each roll. I want you. Victor scissored his fingers a little wider, stretching Yuuri's hole with a filthy squelch from the lube. I want you. Victor continued the motion as Yuuri met it with his thrust downward, keening now with lust. I want you. With a careful bend, Victor turned his hand slightly and curled his fingers, tips hard and pressing suddenly against Yuuri's prostate. Yuuri squealed at the touch, eyes sparking as Victor pressed on the nerve again, and again, and again-

I always have. I may always will.

Suddenly, Victor was pulling out of him and Yuuri whimpered at the emptiness. He opened his eyes, about to ask before Victor put an arm under each of Yuuri's legs, tugging him up as Victor sat back. Yuuri's eyes widened, understanding just beginnging to come together as Victor winked, brilliant grin on his face shining like the sun.

Then Victor surged forward, mouth open and so very, very hot against Yuuri's hole and everything went quiet. Yuuri couldn't even moan, couldn't breathe as he felt Victor kiss him where he was most vulnerable, most open.

Victor traced his tongue around Yuuri's entrance, the feeling so wet and firm, almost ticklish as it skimmed across Yuuri's sensitive skin. Then Victor was pressing in, sloppy, sucking kisses as Victor's tongue pushed inside of Yuuri.

Yuuri broke Victor's rule, a hand flying down from where he'd put them to bury itself in Victor's hair. Victor was sucking so lewdly and loud, tongue in shallow thrusts forward into Yuuri's already open body.

It felt like too much and not enough, all at the same time. The sensitivity was so great that Yuuri found himself squirming from it while also desperately wishing that Victor's tongue could get in deeper, fuck him deeper.

'Ah- oh, Vic-tor!'

Name broken, panting. Yuuri couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything but sob as the pleasure started to mount insided him. When Victor stretched one of Yuuri's legs over his shoulder to free a hand, Yuuri was sure he almost came when that hand came to join Victor's tongue, two fingers slipping in beneath it with slick ease.

It was too much. It had to be. Yuuri whined loudly, maybe even cried out and Victor continued to scissor him, tongue fucking between the stretching fingers in the wet.

When Victor added a third finger, Yuuri squeezed his eyes shut and moved to grab his own cock, tight grip on the base to stop himself from coming as Victor found his prostate again.

That was- new. It was exciting. It was the most addicting thing Yuuri had ever had. Victor Nikiforov, on his knees, doing this to him, Katsuki Yuuri. Of all the underserving people in the world.

'Vic-Victor, ahh. Please!'

Victor pulled his mouth away, teeth nipping at the inside of Yuuri's thigh as his fingers continued moving, stretching Yuuri so wide.

'Please what?'

'I- ah, I want you. You asked- you wanted to know what I- oh! What I wanted... I need you to be in me, please, now. Now.'

The words were garbled, panting. Maybe a bit demanding. Yuuri's desperation obvious but he was so lost in the haze of the pleasure Victor was giving him that he just couldn't find it in himself to care.

'Anything, miliy. Anything you want.'

When Victor pulled his fingers out, Yuuri groaned loudly, screwing his eyes shut in anticipation. He lost himself to the blackness as Victor spread Yuuri's legs open, one hand holding his left leg up beneath the knee. The other sought out a condom and Yuuri tried to steady his breathing as Victor opened the foil packet.

Then Victor was lined up, slicking the thick head that was pressing warm against Yuuri's entrance with lube. Yuuri canted downwards, as if he could imaple himself.

'Look at me,' Victor growled, English torn up.

Yuuri squeezed his eyes open, staring up at Victor from beneath his lashes. Victor looked a wreck- red faced, hair frizzing. But his eyes were so dark, burning like something unstable. Yuuri let out a shuddering breath at the sight as slowly, oh so slowly, Victor pushed forward.

Victor had looked big, but felt bigger. It hurt more than last time, though not unbearably. Victor didn't know how to stretch Yuuri as well as Yuuri could stretch himself, but it didn't matter, not at all.

Because Yuuri had never felt anything as good as the burn of Victor's cock sliding into him. He was so slick from their excess lube and the work of Victor's tongue that it really didn't take much before Victor was buried to end of his shaft in Yuuri.

Yuuri sobbed, uncontrollable lament as his body tightened around Victor, shaking him apart.

They both paused, trembling and hissing. Yuuri lost his gaze, unable to stop his head from rolling back and eyes closing to the pleasure. Victor's grip on Yuuri's leg turned hard and his other hand found itself gripping at Yuuri's hip as Victor leaned a bit back on his knees, pulling Yuuri forward with him so they wouldn't lose even a centimetre between them. It bent the angle, made it even more acute and Yuuri curved his back, chasing the feeling.

He felt so full. Abstractly, one of his hands made it's way to his stomach, lower, as if Yuuri could somehow feel how deep Victor was in him through his skin. His other hand flailed upwards, meeting the padded headboard where it acted as some sort of brace.

Victor held him there for a moment, his breathing so heavy that it felt like Yuuri could feel it falling down onto him from where Victor was. It was heady, suffocating. Yuuri wanted to drown in the attention Victor was giving.

Clearly, Victor was waiting for him to adjust but Yuuri was too eager. He couldn't wait anymore, not for this. With a whine of impatience, Yuuri bucked down onto Victor, causing him to gasp with shock.

Then Victor moved- pulling out before thrusting back in with a force that shoved Yuuri up the bed.

Yuuri cried out, Victor's cock hitting his prostate immediately with a sharp jab that felt like it had splintered him apart. Victor made that low growl again. The sound of it lit a fire in Yuuri's stomach as Victor began to fuck into him with earnest now, spreading Yuuri's leg up further so Victor managed to slip impossibly deeper.

'Victor, Victor...' Yuuri whimpered, voice turning sharp as his words faded away to small, bursting gasps.

It felt too good, too much to just lie there but Yuuri found he could little else as Victor fucked him with such force that the headboard shook beneath Yuuri's skittering fingertips.

Victor held Yuuri close to him, barely giving enough space for his thrusts to be anything more than a frantic, piston motion. But each one hit Yuuri right where he needed to be hit, the wet sound of slapping skin surrounding them.

'You're so- Vy prekrasny,' Victor moaned, Russian sounding so much better in his mouth when his voice was like that.

Yuuri keened as he heard it, forcing himself to open his eyes and watch. Commit the image to memory. Victor bucked his hips with another strong thrust, this time with even more power, like he was testing how hard Yuuri could take it.

'Ah- again!' Yuuri cried as his whole body shook with the force, cock pulsing suddenly and Yuuri thought he might come, just from that alone. Victor's hips stuttered for a moment and Yuuri maoned, hands scrambling around him to find some purchase of Victor to hold onto. Trying to keep Victor's eye, Yuuri asked again; 'Do it like that again. Harder, harder.'

Victor gave him exactly what he had asked for. He almost had Yuuri pulled entirely onto his lap now, hips fucking with a brutal pace that felt like Yuuri was being split open in the most important way a person could be.

Victor now had both hands on Yuuri's hips and Yuuri wrapped his legs around Victor's waist, pulling him even closer. It was hard for Victor keep his pace with that, but the noise of approval he made with Yuuri wrapped around him was worth it.

Looking at Victor- at his intensely blue eyes and iconic hair come so undone, lose such control with just Yuuri to blame for it lit a fire in Yuuri that burned him from the inside out.

He leant up with one sharp movement, causing both of them to make a loud noise at the change in angle and Yuuri got a hand around Victor's nape, desperately needing to kiss him.

Their lips met in a mess of open lips and frantic tongue, Victor too focused on holding Yuuri steady as he fucked him to really reciprocate properly but Yuuri didn't care.

It wasn't about the kiss- not really. It was about Yuuri taking something he knew he shouldn't.

With one push forward, Victor fell forward ontop of Yuuri, pressing Yuuri down into the mattress. Yuuri tightened his legs around Victor's waist, bending his body so they came up higher, giving Victor more room to move freely.

Victor was grinding down now, cock brushing consistently and roughly against Yuuri's prostate to the point that Yuuri's eyes watered, stray tears leaking down into his hair.

Between kisses, Yuuri tried to warn Victor as his felt himself spiral closer and closer to the edge. 'Victor- ah, god! I'm- I'm close!'

'Good,' Victor purred, leaving wet, trailing kisses down Yuuri's throat as he continued to fuck him with a punishing force.

Yuuri whined as Victor sped up, hips snapping to meet Yuuri's and his cock dragging so thick inside of him. Like he was moving Yuuri's very skin with each thrust.

'I want you to come. Just like this. With nothing but my cock to satisfy you.'

Yuuri whimpered at the words, heat flushing. Victor chuckled breathlessly before slamming into Yuuri with one, almost violent thrust. Yuuri cried out as he was pushed up the bed with the force.

'Has anyone ever done that?' Victor asked and Yuuri didn't hear him at first, lost to the building presure low in his gut as Victor fucked into him, Yuuri's cock stuck between them in a sweaty grind against Victor's stomach. 'Has anyone ever had you like this? Made you cry out like this?'

To make his point, Victor slammed forward against Yuuri's prostate again and Yuuri's vision sparked out as he closed his eyes, back arching and cock spurting with a force that it felt like Yuuri was emptying his very soul out between them. He scrawled his nails down Victor's back with such pressure that even trimmed, they were bound to leave marks.

Yuuri didn't realise how loudly he had shouted out as he came until his voice cracked under the weight of Victor's name.

Victor only managed a few more thrusts himself before he was groaning, too, teeth buried into Yuuri's shoulder. He came and it felt like warmth was blooming so deep in Yuuri that it was part of his bones.

As Yuuri felt Victor come inside him, he moaned again, the pulsing feeling of Victor's cock emptying inside of him tremouring through his body. Yuuri felt like he had been claimed, mated almost. Like something dark and primal had happened, and now his body was screaming for Victor to shelter him.

It was intense. Lust-drunk. Wonderful.

'Bezumno krasivaya,' Victor whispered to Yuuri's skin and Yuuri didn't know what that meant at all but it sounded like praise and that was enough to have him wiggling against the sheets, whining at the sensitivity he felt at having Victor still buried so deep inside him.

Victor leaned up on his elbows, which shook slightly beneath his weight, but then he was kissing Yuuri with such deep, sweet intensity that Yuuri's heart stopped. Like it too was surprised. His hair tickled Yuuri's cheek and Yuuri could taste sweat on his top lip. But it was perfect.

Victor pulled out of him slowly and Yuuri whimpered at the loss, body clenching around the empty space as Victor shifted off him. He kissed Yuuri's shoulder again before leaning over the mattress to the bedside drawer, pulling out a packet of wet-wipes.

Before Yuuri could do anything, Victor lay down next to him with a wipe in his hand and moved to clean Yuuri himself.

'Y-you don't have to!' Yuuri stammered, but his voice was croaky, barely words. Victor ignored him, eyes focused on the task at hand as he carefully used the wipe to pull the condom off. Yuuri closed his eyes at the cold feeling, whining a little with sensitivity. Victor kissed his cheek.

'Let me look after you, miliy,' Victor said and Yuuri could feel himself blushing, which was so stupid but he let Victor do as he wanted anyway.

It was so personal, another infringement on their arrangement but Yuuri found himself not caring very quickly.

Yuuri wanted Victor to treat him well. Wanted to be treated like he were a lover, not a prostitute that Victor had hired. Victor made it so easy to forget it.

Too easy.

After Victor had looked after himself as well, Yuuri felt the anxiety begin to creep in around him. What had he done? He'd given too much of himself away. He brought Victor back to his apartment.

Yuuri was insane, he had to be.

A cold nausea swelled in his stomach and Yuuri sat up in the bed, looking around the mess of the bed they'd made. They hadn't even pulled the covers off, elegant blue comforter of the bed kicked near off the end of it.

Yuuri ran two hands through his hair, pushing it back of his face and tried to even out his breathing. It was their last time together anyway. None of this meant anything. Not to Victor.

After the free-skate tomorrow, Victor would get on his plane back to Russia and that would be that. Yuuri would never see him again. Never touch him, or kiss him, or hear the way he'd whisper those Russian words in his ear.

And Victor would forget Yuuri. Just like he had the first time.

'Eros?'

Yuuri jumped when Victor touched him, just a gentle hand to Yuuri's shoulder. Victor was frowning a little, fingers rubbing comforting circles on Yuuri's skin. Yuuri wanted to lean into the touch, wanted to give himself over but something was holding him back. He'd given so much of himself away already. And Victor calling him Eros was just a reminder.

That Victor didn't know him. Could never know him.

'I...' Yuuri was whispering, though he wasn't sure why. He was about to say he should go, that Victor must have to get up early in the morning. That he had a nice time. Thank you. I'll miss you.

'Come to bed,' Victor said and though his tone was teasing, his mouth trembled just a bit and the silly hope that burned deep in Yuuri like a candle at a shrine got brighter. Like maybe Victor was thinking all the same things.

With that thought, Yuuri's nervousness and panic melted away. He let himself be folded into the bed, let Victor wrap his long arms around him.

Just one more, Yuuri thought as he breathed in the scent of Victor's skin. Sweat and stale cologne. One more rule.

 


 

Victor opened his eyes slowly, taking a moment to adjust to the brightness of the room. He must've forgotton to close the curtains the night before. Sighing, Victor rolled over in the sheets and met the warm body of someone else. Victor was suddenly wide awake, sitting up on the bed to stare down at the sleeping form of Eros.

Eros. In Victor's hotel bed. Asleep. Naked and asleep. 

This was... amazing. 

Victor grinned to himself, a hand coming up to hold his own chest. Palm up, against the quick beat of his heart that was thundering now with excitement. Eros was beautiful, of course.

Lying on his stomach, face buried in the pillow and bare shoulders exposed from where the sheets had rolled down. His hair had come away completely, a mess of black with some gel still clumped in places across the pillow. Victor wanted to run his fingers through every strand, maybe even brush it out for Eros.

Last night had been one of the most intense nights of Victor's life. It blew their first night together out of the water. Eros had been different; there had been a nervous energy crackling between them all evening, but not even Victor could've foreeen how it would expel itself.

Just remembering the way Eros had looked, sweat-sheen and muscles taut. Victor bit his lip, morning arousal growing just from the memory.

Victor had never made anyone come hands free before. Never knew it was really possible, to be honest as it had never happened to him. But the way Eros had come apart so spectacularly.

It felt like more than just some bedroom achievement, (though Victor would lying if he said he might never use it as bragging rights).

No. What he and Eros had shared last night was more than just sex. It had felt like a reckoning. Awakening something deep in Victor he thought himself incapable of.


Very carefully, Victor slid back down into the bed, moving up closer and trying not to wake Eros, terrified that if he did, Eros would get up completely and leave. Victor really didn't want him to leave- not yet, maybe not ever.

That was bad, wasn't it?

Eros' body was warm and sleep-soft, legs bent and arms curled into his chest. He slept like he wished he was smaller, the complete opposite to Victor who liked to spread out.

Victor felt a need burst in him, the need to hold Eros close and protect him. He knew Eros was a grown man, a prostitute at that and likely didn't need protecting- but the urge was still there.

Victor slid up behind Eros, wrapping an arm carefully around Eros' waist, delighting in the satisfied noise the man made when Victor held on a little tighter, pulling Eros back against his own chest. Hips to hips, with Victor's fastly growing cock between them.

With a small grunt, Eros moved and for one, dreadful moment, Victor thought he was getting up. But instead, Eros turned in Victor's arms with a small shuffle, eyes closed and lips pouted.

Eros bent himself down and burrowed in underneath Victor's chin, hair tickling and hands folded between their chests. His own cock was only half-hard, mostly soft still- but the feel of it against him, the pressure and warmth...

Victor felt something swell inside him, threatening to erupt out as Eros made himself comfortable again. Heart stuttering, an engine firing with nowhere to go. With shaky hands, Victor brought his arms around Eros, holding him flush.

Scratch amazing. This was better than that.

Victor had never had someone stay through until morning like this. Of course, people had and Victor had thought it pleasant enough at the time. But this was different to then. Eros was different to those people.

They'd slept in late, going by the sun that filtered in through the chiffon veil of the window and Victor wished they still had hours to go.

He wanted to see everything. Wanted to pull the sheets down and see if Eros' skin was red from where they had bunched against him. Wanted to know if Eros yawned silently or did he groan, like Victor did? Did he close his eyes when he brushed his teeth?

Victor wanted to see everything.

Already knowing their morning was going to be too short, Victor closed his eyes in frustration as his phone started to go off with his eleven AM alarm. He groaned with disappointment into Eros' hair as Eros made his own whine of dissatisfaction.

At hearing it, Victor's frown melted away, letting something far more fragile out as he reluctantly let Eros go to turn the alarm off quickly. Once he had resumed his position, Victor kissed the top of Eros' head. Perhaps a little harder than necessary.

Just to be sure.

'Dorogoi, we need to get up,' Victor said softly into Eros' hair, breathing in the smell of skin, sex and stale gel. The best smell in the world.

'Muh,' Eros groaned, burying his face further into Victor's neck. His breath was hot against the skin there and Victor tried in vain to stop his dick from twitching with it. He swallowed thickly as Eros nuzzled his nose against Victor's adam's apple. Then; 'Shush.'

Victor smiled, chest tight. 'I'm sorry?'

'Shhhhush,' was all Victor got from beneath him. The next words were muffled, but undeniably grumpy. 'I'm sleeping. Don't be selfish.'

Victor snorted before he could stop himself, triggering a small fit of giggles that he honestly did try to stifle by pressing his lips against Eros' scalp. That was- unexpected. But brilliant.

Shoulders trembling, Victor held on, laughing almost silently as Eros suddenly twisted in his grip, apparently just registering what he had said. He sat up quickly and his brown eyes wide.

Before Victor could say anything though, Eros' face scrunched up, nose wrinkled and eyes tightly closed. He brought a hand up to one, rubbing the corner and tugging the eyelid.

'Ow,' he said, voice rounded and accent a little thick. Victor felt his stomach twist with the sound of it. The rubbing got harder, skin dragging. 'Kuso-.'

With that, Eros grumpily scrambled half-way down the bed, gathering the bunched up comforter from the end of the mattress where it had been shoved hap-hazardly the night before.

He got out of the bed, wrapping the comforter around him like a robe. He looked adorable and sexy, and Victor was sitting up half-chasing him already.

'Something wrong?'

'Contacts,' Eros muttered sourly like that answered anything. Victor watched from the bed as Eros shuffled around it towards the bathroom.

When Eros was gone, Victor sat back against the headboard, half under the sheets still.

Running a hand through his hair, Victor grinned madly to himself, even chuckling a little. He remembered from their texts yesterday where Eros had said he was not a morning person. But experiencing it? In person?

It was funny. It was cute. It was probably something Victor should consider crossing the line of professional boundaries, but right now Victor couldn't bring himself to care. In for a penny and all that...

With a small huff, Eros came back out into the main room. He was still wrapped in the comforter and he looked so small, hair sticking up in spiky tufts and eyes squinting. Victor tilted his head, confused.

'Everything good, miliy?' he asked as Eros rubbed at his eyes again.

'I didn't bring my glasses,' Eros grumbled, meeting Victor's gaze with narrowed eyes. But Victor's brain caught, stuck on the image of Eros in glasses. So that's what he meant by contacts. Did Eros need glasses this entire time?

Victor tried to imagine what Eros' deep brown eyes would like behind the frames of some sleek, modern frames. He liked the image very, very much.

'How badly do you need them?' Victor continued, shifting slightly across the bed towards Eros who shambled his way closer as well. Eros' cheeks flushed, just a little. Victor loved it when that happened.

'Quite badly,' Eros said softly, watching as Victor paused in his shuffling across the mattress, suddenly hesitant.

Victor was pretty sure sex was out of the question. After all, he'd only paid Eros for four hours. And that had been... well, a while ago. Those four hours were certainly up.

Victor wasn't sure how much more he could push, how much more time he could steal. Didn't know what else Eros would let him have.

He wanted to tug at the edges of the quilted, blue comforter. Wanted to take Eros' hand and pull him back to bed. Victor wanted to keep going like there didn't need to be a transaction first.


Victor finally had Eros where he wanted him. But he had no idea how to keep him there.

(Well, he had one. But he wasn't overly fond of it).

Eros shifted from one foot to the other, looking away and licking his lips nervously. When he met Victor's eye again, he was blushing and Victor wanted to kiss him very, very badly.

'Victor-'

'Yes?' Victor said immediately, pushing hair behind his ear and biting his lip as Eros watched the movement with his narrowed eyes.

Just what, Victor would never know, as at that moment, the hotel room door beeped as someone let themselves in.

Victor just barely got the covers over himself as Eros jumped on the spot, tugging the comforter even tighter around himself as the large, imposing figure of Yakov Feltsman walked in, fedora and hideous blue scarf to boot like the goddamn inquisition.

'Vitya, the women's free-skate had a cock-up, because of course it did, so now everyone's running half an hour behind, so we should get-' Yakov was already talking as he walked in, eyes fixed on the phone in his hand.

He turned on the spot, leaning a hip against the desk as Eros watched him with wild eyes and Victor wondered if there was any way Yakov might just not notice and leave...

Yakov looked up from his phone, face freezing mid-rant about the poor women's free skate. His eyes slowly moved under his thick eyebrows from Eros, who squeaked under the scruntiny and then finally made their way to Victor.

Victor smiled, opening his mouth to explain when-

'Victor!'

Victor sighed, excuse dying on his lips. He folded his legs up under the blanket, crossing his arms over them and resting his chin there as he watched the colour fill Yakov's face. Victor could practically see the steam pouring from his ears.

Victor wondered what would come first; outrage at Victor fooling around before the free-skate, or mortification of catching Victor in the act with someone. (Again).

'What do you think you're doing screwing around before the free-skate?!' Yakov bellowed, the whole room practically shaking with the velocity of the English Yakov threw at him.

Victor rolled his eyes. That figured. Yakov pointed a finger at Eros, who made another meek noise at it, tucking his chin in and underneath the edges of the comforter.

'Who is that? Why is he here?'

'Well,' Victor said smoothly, turning a palm gracefully in flourish vaguely in Eros' direction. 'When a man meets someone he really likes, he might invite that someone back to his room and-'

'Dostatochno!' Yakov snapped, pinching the bridge of his nose. He took a deep breath, releasing it with something akin to a growl.

Victor looked away to watch Eros, heart bending in sympathy as Eros' ears went red from where they were peeking above the comforter.

'You better not have done any damage, Vitya.'

Victor blinked at that, confused at first before understanding dawned. He smiled again, grinned practically. Yakov fumed as he did.

'I assure you, I'm in perfect condition. My friend here was most considerate.'

Eros made something that almost sounded like a squawk from beneath his quilted shield. Yakov also made a noise of protest, waving hands manically.

'I don't want to know. Just be in the lobby in ten minutes,' Yakov said quickly, English so fast and stuttering that even Victor noticed the accent. He wondered randomly if that was how he sounded to Eros.

He hoped not.

Yakov gave Eros another once over, lips pursed as he made it all the way to Eros' bare feet.

'Twenty. Twenty minutes,' he said angrily before he turned and left, slamming the door behind him with much more force than was required in Victor's opinion.

For a long while, neither of them said anything. But then Victor started laughing, holding his face in his hands as the ridiculousness of what just happened sank in. God, if only Yakov knew. He'd probably have killed Victor right then and there, GPF and Yuri be damned.

Victor kept sniggering to himself as Eros moved in the corner of his eye and when Victor finally looked over to him, he had a very disapproving look on his gorgeous, round face.

'That was not very funny,' Eros said sombrely, moving towards the end of the bed where his clothes lay discarded.

'It was a little funny,' Victor teased, meaning quite the opposite in that it was hilarious.

But Eros just threw a deathly stare, one that was certainly less menancing now that Victor knew that Eros could only just see him clearly.

Eros started grabbing at his clothes with one hand, the other still holding the comforter tight around him. Victor watched, curious; 'Have you never been caught before?'

'No,' Eros replied quickly, holding his clothes close so he wouldn't drop them. 'That was actually the first time.'

'I'm flattered to be your first,' Victor said, joking but judging by the way Eros' shoulders tensed beneath his comforter, he didn't find it very amusing. Victor tried to ignore the inkling of nerves the obvious upset Eros was feeling gave him. It really wasn't that serious a deal.

Victor threw off the blanket, stretching with a loud sigh before standing up and heading towards the wardrobe. He pulled out his kit from the gear-bag he'd thrown there, very conscious of how Eros was watching him. Like Victor could feel the way those eyes moved over his back, like a touch.

Pulling on his sweats, Victor wondered if there was any way he could steal more time. He'd shower at the rink- Yakov would be impatient. He hoped he had a spare toothbrush in his bag.

Zipping up his Russia jersey, Victor turned and moved to Eros, stopping in front of him and looking down at small Japanese. Up close, Eros seemed to be focusing a little better. Near-sighted, then. Maybe. How could Victor know for certain?

Victor hovered, unsure what to do. Eros was watching him right back, bottom lip curved in underneath his teeth.

This was their last moment together. Victor didn't want Eros to be upset, didn't want their evening and morning to have been spoiled because of Yakov Feltsman of all people. Victor had wanted it to be special, to be memorable in a way that Eros would look back and smile. Maybe even consider seeing Victor again.

Now he was probably just remembering all the reasons he shouldn't have indulged Victor as much as he did. Shouldn't have taken the chance. The thought was oddly hurtful, but Victor tried to remind himself that he was a client first and he should respect Eros' boundaries, if it was needed.

He was the client and Eros was the escort.

'Thank you,' Victor said gently, choosing courage and bringing a hand up to take Eros' chin. He held Eros steady, unable to look anywhere but at Eros' face. Counted the spirals of brown in his eyes, traced the crease between his brows. 'For everything.'

'It was my pleasure,' Eros replied and though it was most certainly a line, Victor could hear the edge in Eros' voice. Not quite uneven, but not confident either. Victor took a chance.

'My flight isn't until the morning,' Victor said, pulling Eros closer to him, feeling the bunched clothes and fabric between them. Watched as Eros' eyes fluttered shut. Victor couldn't ask... He couldn't. Eros was hardly going to give it away. But if Victor could just get one more evening, one more hour even.

'Oh,' Eros breathed, eyes dropping to Victor's lips. Victor leaned forward, closer and closer until their foreheads were almost touching.

His thumb slid up along Eros' chin, pad of it pressing down onto Eros' bottom lip. Tugging it down, just a little. Victor didn't realise he was breathing so shakily.

'I'd like to see you again, if you're available,' Victor whispered, closing his eyes and breathing in the smell of Eros' skin. Eros nodded, Victor's hand following the movement.

'My details are the same,' Eros said, words skimming over Victor's thumb like skipping stones on water. Creating ripples, right across Victor's surface.

Of course. Because like Victor knew already- he was the client. Eros was...

'I have to go.'

'I know.'

'May I text you later?' Victor asked, wanting so desperately to close the distance. To kiss Eros deeply, sweetly maybe. To taste the noise Eros made when he was surprised.

Eros nodded again, silently. Victor did move, but only to bring their heads together. He nuzzled against him slightly , indulging perhaps but not able to stop himself.

With a very heavy heart, Victor pulled away. He kissed Eros on the forehead, lingering just the smallest bit too long before stepping away entirely. Eros looked so small, wrapped in the stupid comforter with his clothes all bundled up in a heap in one arm.

Victor wanted to help him shower, wash his hair for him. Victor wanted a lot of things.

I still have time, he thought desperately as he tried to smile before picking up his gear bag. Going around Eros for a moment to get his phone from the bedside table, Victor spotted the crumpled mess of his jumper on the ground. He bent down and picked it up, turning to meet Eros again.

'Here,' he said, lying the jumper out on the bed with purpose. Eros watched him do so, mouth pinched in confusion. Victor really wanted to kiss him. 'You should wear that. Your shirt is not very appropiate for a Sunday morning.'

Eros flushed and Victor smiled when he saw it.

'I- um, I really shouldn't,' Eros mumbled, not meeting Victor's eye. Victor felt something flutter inside him, something frantic. He wanted Eros to take the jumper. Maybe even needed him to. Why, Victor couldn't say. Couldn't admit, maybe.

'I'll get it back from you later,' Victor said, hoping to convince Eros. Victor shifted the gear-bag on his shoulder. 'Consider it a retainer.'

At that, Eros did meet his eye and Victor wasn't sure if he had done right, or wrong, or something else entirely as Eros' look was something Victor had never seen on another person before. Like all the lights had gone out.

For a moment, it looked like Eros was about to say something, but instead he swallowed whatever words he'd had. He watched Victor with his big, brown eyes and bitten lips, chin ducking down in a very shy nod.

Victor took one more freebie. Just one. He kissed Eros on the cheek, tried not to linger this time.

'You'll watch me in the free-skate, da?' It was supposed to sound flirtatious, almost like a command or something Eros should consider as part of their arrangement. But it didn't sound that way. It sounded a little desperate, even to Victor's ear. A little too much like what Victor really wanted to say.

'Of-of course,' Eros stammered in reply, brown eyes alight with something. 

'I'll see you later, miliy. Stay in the room as long as you like.'

With that, Victor left miserably. Yakov had no idea what he'd just cost him.

 


 

Yuuri took a cautious sip of his coffee, pleased when it wasn't too hot. He tried to focus on directly what was in front of him, pushing thoughts of Victor and the night before far from his mind. Across from him, Sophia popped the lid off her own Starbucks, reaching over for the sugar. Yuuri watched as she opened two packs, fidgeting with the faded edges of his Filofax that sat on the table between them as she poured them in.

'So, how've you been getting on?' Sophia asked, brilliant red lipstick bright against her dark, brown skin. 'I noticed the new number. Should I be worried?'

'No,' Yuuri said, taking his glasses off briefly to give them a quick wipe. How they got so dirty all the time he never knew. 'Just had an issue with the phone.'

Sophia nodded at him before she smiled suggestively. 'Work going okay?'

'Like you wouldn't know. I pay you enough,' Yuuri replied quietly, throwing his eyes around the loud cafe, just in case. Sophia rolled her eyes, black curls bouncing around her sharp cheekbones as she tilted her head in flourish.

'Alright, no need to be a dick about it.'

'I'm not-!' Yuuri squeaked, shocked at Sophia's language. Sophia laughed at him before taking a sip of her own coffee. Yuuri blushed, tucking his chin down into his scarf. 'Never mind. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude.'

'I'm only messing with you, guy,' Sophia replied, eyes warm and still smiling. 'So, I looked up your Fred Bolton. He checks out okay. Wife, kids- corporate guy. The whole shebang. No dark secrets, none that I could find anyway. Well, aside from you. You're only his second hire. Should be pretty standard I'd say.'

Yuuri nodded as she spoke, opening the Filofax and abandoning his coffee to make notes. Yuuri had been introduced to Sophia three years ago, in passing mostly from his old madam. When Yuuri had made the decision to go on his own, he knew he'd need a private investigator he could trust. And afford. Luckily for him, Sophia met both those margains. She was a fair bit older than Yuuri, pushing thirty-five if he had to guess though she'd never said.

Sophia wasn't her real name. But she didn't know Yuuri's either.

It was Sophia who had helped Yuuri set up his anonymous corporation. He was greatly indebted to her. He almost considered her a friend.

Well, as much of a friend as someone in his business could consider her.

'Your appointment with him is next week?' Sophia asked after giving Yuuri the quick breakdown. Yuuri underlined father was a preacher in his Filofax, humming in response.

His Filofax was Yuuri's greatest asset. Every client, every time, ever since he'd started. This was his third one, the previous two in a safety deposit box in the Commerce Bank. It was where he kept his information for all his clients and appointments. Rates, time spent with each person. Likes, dislikes. Warning signs. Their phone numbers, on occassion their email. When he'd gotten the new phone, it was his Filofax where he'd kept the information he needed to set it up. Fred Bolton was being pencilled in now, on the page opposite one which still sat blank.

Yuuri had only written a time and place on that page. Westin, 7pm. His first appointment with Victor. Yuuri would normally have had Sophia check his client out first, but he'd trusted Chris and trusted he'd be able to make his own notes. But now, days later, Yuuri still hadn't filled in Victor's sheet aside from his phone number.

Yuuri knew enough about Victor from being his fan to not need it.

Yuuri stopped himself there. He couldn't think about Victor. He still hadn't received any transactions, or messages, from Victor to confirm their appointment that evening. He'd deliberately left it open, just in case. But the sick, pooling feeling of disappointment ate at him. The night before had been so good. Amazing, beyond anything Yuuri had ever experienced. He wasn't sure he was ready to let Victor go.

'Just a standard two-hour booking,' Yuuri replied eventually, continuing the conversation now his notes had been made, scratching his pen a little hard as he tried to put Victor from his mind. 'Probably dinner and then the hotel. Now I know he's not a murderer, I can get back to him properly.'

'What a hard life you live, men waiting so patiently to hear from you,' Sophia lamented over her coffee, tugging on her long gold necklace. 'I can't even get the man I married to read my texts, never mind reply.'

'You divorced him.'

'My point still stands. I just wish I had a bit more luck with men.'

'You hate men,' Yuuri replied, automatically taking his coffee and drinking it as Sophia giggled at him.

'I hate liars. Just so happens most are men,' she teased, nodding sagely. Yuuri frowned at her.

'That's not true,' he said, closing his Filofax and buttoning it. Sophia gave him a very pointed look.

'Honey, just look at you. You're a professional liar,' she said, putting her coffee down and folding her hands on the table. Yuuri flushed, shame and guilt suddenly very heavy inside of him as Phichit's face flashed before his mind's eye. They still had so much to talk about, Yuuri not even seeing him yet since the night before. He'd already left for the rink by the time Yuuri made it home that morning.

'I guess,' he responded meekly. They sat in silence for a moment while Yuuri bustled to get the envelope out of his jacket pocket. He handed it over the table towards Sophia, who took it with her perfectly manicured hands, slipping it into her handbag that was looped around the back of the chair.

'So, tell me. What's new with you? Haven't heard from you in days,' Sophia said slowly, brown eyes watching Yuuri closely. Yuuri squirmed in his seat, ass twinging with leftover pain. Even if it was good pain, it still made sitting awkward. Sophia's eyes flicked down as he did so and Yuuri blushed even more so. 'Not like you to be so quiet.'

'I haven't been accepting any new bookings since Thursday,' Yuuri answered, carefully avoiding Sophia's gaze to watch the long line of students at the till. Listened to the whirring noise of the baristas and idle chatter around them.

'Taking a break were we?'

'No, I've... I was booked, actually,' Yuuri said, biting his lip and running a hand nervously through his hair. It was still quite damp from his shower in Victor's hotel room. Sophia's eyes widened.

'Since Thursday?' she asked, not bothering to hide the increduality in her voice. Yuuri swallowed nervously, thinking of Victor's hands and his thin nose. Of his teeth on his shoulder.

'Um, yeah,' Yuuri said, picking up his coffee but suddenly not feeling very up to it. Sophia narrowed her eyes, unfolding her fingers to drum her perfect nails on the tabletop.

'You don't like weekend jobs,' she said. Yuuri shrugged, deeply uncomfortable.

'It wasn't the weekend. Exactly,' Yuuri said though he knew it was a lie. Trading a Sunday for Thursday didn't undo the Friday and Saturday.

'Who was he? He must've been absolutely loaded to afford you for three days. Loaded and stupid about what to do with it,' Sophia said, joking tone coming back into her voice. Yuuri spun his cup of coffee between his hands. 'Who checked him out? It wasn't me. You didn't cheat on me with another investigator, did you?'

Yuuri shook his head, sipping his coffee to delay the inevitable.

'No. I actually didn't research him at all.'

Sophia's mouth opened in shock. She shook her head a little, frown forming. 'You did what? You should know better than that!'

'He wasn't some stranger!' Yuuri said hastily, feeling the bizarre need to defend Victor. 'Not- not exactly anyway. I knew him, of sorts.'

'Of sorts?' Sophia scoffed and Yuuri groaned, rubbing at his eyes beneath his glasses. They still weren't right after he'd slept in his contacts. He'd need to clean them properly when he got home. He also really couldn't stay out much longer if he wanted to get changed and back to the rink before the free-skate at two. He'd only made the quick pitstop home to pick up his glasses and the Filofax before meeting Sophia.

'Look, never mind. It's over now. He leaves the US tomorrow morning.'

Sophia watched him from across the table very carefully. Yuuri could feel her eyes on him, though he couldn't quite focus on them. He really needed a proper shower as well. He finished his coffee, stomach churning uncomfortably.

'Right. Whatever you say. Just, I like you, kid. I don't want you to get hurt.'

Yuuri shrank backwards into his chair, gathering his Filofax up from the table as he got ready to leave.

'Thanks, Sophia. But I'm okay. I know what I'm doing.'

 



'The score for Victor Nikiforov's free-skate Stay Close to Me is 199.87! That puts him top of the podium with gold at this year's Skate America- finalising his presence at the Grand Prix this year already! His intial ranking will depend on the results of the Rostelecom Cup next month. That concludes Skate America, 2016!

Jean-Jaques Leroy comes in second place after an impressive free-skate, Christophe Giacometti coming in third! Thailand's Phichit Chulanont has come fourth, qualifying him for this year's Grand Prix Final. However, Chulanont's advancement to the final won't be confirmed until the results of the Rostelecom Cup next month!'


 

Victor took the gold medal off his neck, turning it over in his hands.

The numbness he had hoped to have eradicated over the last few days was still there. It sat beneath his skin, deep in his bones like it was part of the marrow. Part of what made Victor up. Sighing, Victor zipped open his gear bag, dropping the medal haphazardly into it. Then he started to undo the buttons of his costume- pink chiffon jacket over a lyca shirt. Shimmering, beautiful. Like everything Victor did.

Transperant, he thought miserably.

He wasn't alone in the changing room for long, Chris sauntering in with his guarded skates and a big, bloomed rose behind one of his ears. Victor looked up from where he was sitting on the bench, smiling in welcome.

'Congratulations, Chris!' he said, leaning back against the lockers as Chris walked over to him, taking the seat next to him.

'Even more so for you, cheri,' Chris said, winking and taking the flower from his hair. 'Not like you to leave the kiss-and-cry so quickly though. The media will miss you if you keep hiding away like this.'

'Hmm,' Victor hummed, disinterested in anything and everything reporters could want from him. Victor left his jacket hanging open, placing his hands on either side of him on the bench, losing himself to thought.

To be honest, Victor had just felt like he couldn't bring himself to face the press. He didn't have the energy to sit there and lie about his non-existent excitement for the upcoming season. Even now, just after winning another gold, Victor could think about nothing but getting away from the rink as soon as possible.

Preferably back to his hotel room. Even more preferably, with a very particular someone with him.

Chasing Eros was unlike anything Victor had ever done before. The three nights they'd spent together had inspired him more than the last nine months of skating. Last night, Victor was sure he'd broken through some great wall Eros had built, because the man who lay beneath him, whimpering with need and eyes so open with emotion- that had been a very different person to the cocksure flirt he'd met on Thursday. Victor wanted to make love to that man again, wanted to let that man show him love right back.

'Victor?'

Victor started, shaken out of his thoughts by Chris' warm hand on his shoulder. Chris looked a bit concerned, hazel eyes frowning so the green in them flared. Victor tried to smile, feigning blasé as he shrugged.

'Sorry, what were you saying?' he said, taking in Chris' stern mouth.

'You look a bit red. Is everything alright?' Chris said gently, accent thick on the t's like always. Victor nodded, moving to strip his jacket off.

'Of course! I'm just thinking about what to do to celebrate,' he replied with easy grace, carefully folding the jacket and putting in his gear-bag, pulling his kit out as he did. Chris didn't seem all that convinced, but he took the bait anyway.

'Well, I hear that the other skaters are going to someone's dorm. But I think we're both a little mature for that,' Chris said, bumping Victor's shoulder and Victor tried not to blush as he thought of his own evening the night before; sitting on some guy's couch with a bunch of teenagers.

Thinking about the evening before had Victor abstractly search his bag for his wallet. Eros had said he'd be available, but in all the confusion about the delayed free-skate and Yakov's temper tantrum, Victor had forgotten to get back to him. He may as well do so now and make a payment as well, just to show Eros how serious he was about seeing him.

Unfortunately, Victor's wallet did not seem to be where he left it.

Victor was not panicking. He was Victor Nikiforov, he didn't panic. But he certainly wasn't happy that his wallet appeared to be missing, Chris inquiring worriedly as Victor stood up in his skates so to see into the gear-bag properly. But his wallet definitely wasn't there.

'Vitya! The media from Moscow are hoping for a photo of you and-'

'Ne seychas!' Victor snapped in Russian, not bothering to turn and face Yakov who had walked in behind him. He was still angry about the morning, not that he was going to admit to it. And he had a more pressing issue at the moment anyway than whatever Yakov was complaining about this time.

'Victor!' Yakov scolded, dimuinitive dropping with irritation and Victor paused in his searching, taking a very deep breath before turning to face Yakov. Yakov looked exactly as he had that morning- frowning deeply and arms crossed. Victor didn't bother faking a smile this time.

'Forgive me, Yakov. I've just noticed my wallet is missing,' Victor said, closing his eyes and pushing the hair out of his face. Yakov made a small tsking noise, causing Victor to look back at him.

'You,' Yakov said, pointing a finger at Chris. 'Get out.'

'This is the skaters' changing room,' Chris shot back with a cheeky smile. Yakov breathed fire.

'Out!' he snapped and this time Chris just stood up, giving Victor a forlorn look as he left the changing room. Victor watched him go, confused by Yakov's sudden outburst.

'What is it?' he asked, switching back to English in the hopes Yakov would be calmer. His arms dropped at his sides as Yakov reached to pull something out of the pocket of his old-fasioned black coat.

In his hand, Yakov held up Victor's wallet. Victor physically felt the anxiety drain from him. God, that was such a relief. If anyone gotten their hands on the platinum credit card, he'd have had quite the hard time at the bank. Victor took a few steps forward, hand outstretched. He was sure he'd left the wallet in his gear-bag, but he was too grateful to Yakov to worry about it now.

'Thank goodness!' Victor said, finally smiling as he went to take the wallet. But then Yakov pulled the wallet back, out of Victor's reach. Victor paused. 'What?'

'It wasn't lost,' Yakov said, English thick with accent and really, how had Victor never noticed before? Victor was sure his English was much better. 'I've confiscated it.'

It took a long while for those words to sink in. Victor wasn't sure what to make of them at first, initial laugh of surprise catching when he realised that Yakov was most certainly not giving his wallet back to him. All of Victor's details and sparse cash were in that thing- Victor wouldn't even be able to afford a bottle water without it. The thought of all the things Victor had intended to do with that wallet flashed before him and Victor tried to stay calm.

'Yakov,' he said sweetly, raising his hands up in a placating gesture. 'I don't know what this is all about. But there's really no need for such dramatics.'

'Dramatics?!' Yakov spluttered, waving the wallet in front of Victor like it was some kind of incriminating evidence. 'Do you even know how many ruples you spent in the last few days? Did you pay any attention to anything you were buying?'

Victor wanted to snap back that yes, he did pay very, very close attention to the thing he'd been paying for for the last few days. But instead Victor was just so affronted that Yakov would confront him so openly, frustrated to no end that the bank had let Yakov know of the erratic spending as Victor's co-sign on the allowance account when Victor had ignored their calls. Victor crossed his arms, stubborn.

'Of course I did!' Victor replied, very conscious of how much taller he was than Yakov in his skates. He took advantage, trying to stare Yakov down. Victor really should've known that Yakov wouldn't scare as easily as Leroy did. 'Besides, it's my money! I can spend it how I like.'

'The only thing you ever bought asides from the apartment you live in is that damned poodle,' Yakov said through gritted teeth. 'Even for you, Vitya, this spending was too much.'

'I believe I said it was my money. Did you miss that part? Was my English too difficult?' Victor replied bitterly, knowing he was being mean but unable to stop himself. Yakov took a very deep breath. Victor could practically see the vein throbbing on his forehead underneath his ugly fedora.

'I don't care what you did with it, Vitya,' Yakov said slowly, like Victor was a child. Like he was Yuri or something. Victor stiffened with offence at the thought. 'But it was too much, too fast. Don't think I haven't noticed how you've lost interest this season. You're lashing out.'

Victor said nothing, not giving Yakov the satisfaction of proving himself right. Instead, he just glared ferociously. If Yakov was going to treat him like Yuri, then Victor would do his damnest to channel the fifteen year-old.

'I'm worried about you.'

'I don't need you to worry for me,' Victor retorted, meaning it quite sincerely though it sounded petulant. (Maybe he was embracing too much of his inner-Yuri). Victor was twenty-seven. He didn't need a babysitter. Between this and Chris' simpering, Victor was really getting sick of people not trusting himself to make his own decisions. 'You're not my father.'

Something crossed Yakov's face, old wrinkles twitching with emotion. Victor elected to ignore it, refusing to feel bad.

Yakov sighed, suddenly looking every year of his age. Something twinged inside of Victor at the sight. He refused to call it guilt.

'Here,' Yakov said, putting the wallet back in his pocket and withdrawing his hand with two fifty-dollar notes. He offered them out to Victor, who looked at them blankly. 'This is your allowance for the night.'

Allowance?

Victor bristled immediately, baring teeth.

'I'm not a child.'

'Bah, of course you are,' Yakov replied instantly with gruff, shoving the notes forward into Victor's chest so he had no choice but to take them. Yakov was so forceful at times. Both in coaching and out. Never giving Victor a choice.

And he wondered why Victor never listened to him?
Victor took the money and turned on the heel of his skate, spitting starik behind his shoulder as he did so. Yakov said nothing, but Victor heard him leaving the changing room, leather shoes squeaking on the damp floor.

When he was alone, Victor stared at the two notes in his hands.

It wasn't enough. Nowhere near enough to see Eros again. Victor tried to stop the thick feeling growing his throat, but it happened anyway. He felt oddly choked. Disappointment was not something Victor was familiar with.

Sighing miserably, Victor started untying his skates. He wondered if Eros would be as disappointed as he was. Victor selfishly hoped he would be.

 


 

JJ turned in front of the mirror, staring at the tattoo on his lower back. He was wearing low-rider boxers, but they weren't quite right. They still came up a little high. He'd have to go shopping again. Sighing with frustration, JJ accepted defeat and moved on to picking an outfit for the celebrations. He was going for drinks with his father and the other coaches. He knew the younger skaters had organised something as well, but JJ wasn't feeling entirely into it.

He knew he hadn't peaked. Not by a long shot. But Victor Nikiforov did something to JJ, to his confidence. Nikiforov made JJ feel like he'd just stumbled out of the Junior Division.

Hanging out with a bunch of kids wouldn't help that feeling.

JJ looked between the two shirts hanging in the wardrobe. The red was really more his style, but the blue would bring out his eyes. And what if he happened to stumble on some reporters? Or better yet, some JJ-Girls? He couldn't let his fans down like that.

As he was reaching for the shirt, JJ was interrupted by a knock on the door.

'Huh,' he said to himself, taking the bathrobe up from the bed and putting it on as he approached the door. He had a suspicion over who it might be. Opening the door, JJ had his father's name perched on his lips- but it wasn't his father at the door.

A woman stood on the other side. She was pale-skinned, with mousy brown hair though it had obviously been styled. JJ knew a blow-dry when he saw one. In a smart suit-skirt ensemble and gripping a small briefcase, the woman looked the picture of professionalism. JJ grinned, seeing through her straight away.

'The press isn't allowed on this floor,' he said, teasing the reporter. The woman smiled back at him, suddenly oozing confidence.

'Good thing I'm not the press then,' she replied and JJ lost his footing. Then who was she? She wasn't staff. No name-badge. They were required to wear one. JJ gave her another once-over, like he might be able to deduce more about her Sherlockian-style. But she gave away nothing, thin lips still smiling.

'Sorry. My mistake then,' JJ said, moving to close the door, but the woman stopped him, hand coming up to hold the door still. JJ froze, unsure what to do. Was she a fan? JJ knew he'd done pretty good out on the ice today, but inspiring someone to actually stalk up to his room and find him?

Well, JJ thought it was oddly complimenting. If a little weird.

'May I come in?'

'I don't think so, lady,' JJ said, thinking of Isabella. Even if Isabella understood the woman's adoration, (which of course she would, Isabella was the most understanding), he doubted very much she'd approve of JJ letting this go any further.

Before JJ could say anything else, the woman was holding up her phone. The large, expensive screen blinded JJ for a moment as it was held so close to his face, but slowly it began to come into focus.

'Is this you?' the woman asked the JJ took in the photo she was showing him and JJ's stomach sank.

It was of him. In that restaurant, from the other day. With that guy.

JJ grabbed the woman by her outstretched hand, tugging her into the bedroom and slamming the door behind them. The woman composed herself quickly, taking in the room gracefully as she walked over to one of the armchairs, sitting down and facing JJ with an impassive look on her face.

'Alright,' JJ hissed, trying to ignore the way his heart was thundering. 'Who are you?'

'My name is Meredith,' she answered, putting the phone down on the desk screen-up. She fished in the inside of one of her suit-pockets, taking out what looked like a small business card. 'Meredith Thorton, Conselor-at-Law.'

Meredith held the business card out. JJ took it cautiously, like it might do something to him. He looked at the embossed card where it read Meredith C. Thorton: Burke and Heston Attorneys at Law. It looked real enough. But then again, Nikiforov claimed he was a natural blonde, so JJ knew that it was always best to take things with a heavy pinch of salt.

'What do you want?' JJ asked, because it was all he really wanted to know. Was she here to arrest him? JJ was trying really hard not to panic, but he could feel sweat bead at the back of his neck. She couldn't prove anything. He didn't even do anything with that guy.

'I'm not here to threaten you, Jean,' Meredith said smoothly, brushing out a crease in her skirt from where she was sitting. 'I'm not interested in you, or what you do in your spare time. However, I am very interested in who you spend that time with.'

'We didn't do anything!' JJ snapped, hiding his shaking hands behind his back. He refused to let this Meredith person intimidate him. He was JJ Leroy- king of figure skating! He could probably lift her over his head with ease. He had nothing to be afraid of.

Meredith smiled and it looked wrong. Like it was cold and it sent a shiver down JJ's spine uncontrollably.

'Like I said, I'm not interested in any of that.'

'Then what do you want?'

'I want you to help me, Jean,' Meredith said, the way she said JJ's name making him sick to his stomach. Only his mother called him Jean. 'I want you to help me get a meeting with Eros.'

JJ frowned, confused. 'Why do you need me for that?'

'This man isn't stupid, Jean,' Meredith replied coolly, using JJ's name again like she knew how much it bothered him. Knew how it got under his skin. 'And I guess you could say I lack the acting skill. But you're a performer, right? You can tell any story. Convince anyone?'

She was saying the words so sweetly, but there was something her eyes that had JJ suspicious. It couldn't be that easy. Whatever this was, JJ didn't want any part of it. That Eros guy seemed alright enough, but if he was in trouble with the law than JJ wanted to put their meeting as far behind them as he could get it.

'I don't think that's such a good idea,' JJ said, impressed with his ability to keep his voice even. JJ stood aside, holding a hand out towards the door. 'I think you should leave.'

Meredith sighed, placing her briefcase down from where it had been sitting on her lap. She stood up, taking her phone with her. She took slow, deliberate steps towards JJ, heels silent on the thick carpet.

'I was really hoping we could go around this,' she said and JJ automatically took a step back, hands coming up between them. 'But I don't think your charming fiancée will be all too pleased when I reveal to her what exactly you get up to on these competitive excursions.'

'Leave her out of this!' JJ cried immediately, the thought of Isabella getting dragged into this weird- whatever it was- hitting him first, the dread of her finding out what he had done coming crashing down second. He was definitely shaking now, unable to hide it. Meredith suddenly seemed so much more her age, so much older and JJ felt so young. 'We- we just talked! I don't even know the guy!'

'Call him,' Meredith said, holding her phone aloft like it was weapon. She smiled sweetly again. 'Please.'

JJ wanted to tell her to piss off, kick her out of his room. But there was something about her that held his gaze, even as he moved slowly towards the bedside cabinet to where his phone was. He picked it up, fingers shaking as he unlocked it and scrolled through his recent calls. He found the unmarked number, hitting dial.

Fine. He'd do it. He'd call the guy and set up their meeting and then this Meredith could just leave. Leave and forget JJ was ever involved.

'We're sorry. But this number is disconnected. Please check you have dialed correctly.'

JJ dropped the phone from his ear, dumbstruck. Meredith clicked her tongue impatiently and JJ forced himself to look at her. 'It says the number's been disconnected.'

Meredith sighed, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear.

'I had been afraid of that. The website's moved, too. So you don't have a more recent number?'

'No!' JJ said, waving the phone manically. 'I told you! I don't even know him. We had lunch and that was it.'

'Then I guess I'll leave you get back to your evening,' Meredith said and JJ was half-sure he'd imagined it as it sounded too good to be true. Just like that? They were done?

Meredith picked up her briefcase and for one, great moment JJ thought she might leave. But instead she came back up towards him again, stepping into his space. JJ backed up until he felt the bedside table hit his knees. Up close, JJ could see the wrinkles on her face. The crows feet at her eyes. She watched him carefully, lips pursed.

'If you get any new information, I'd very much like to hear from you,' she said. Meredith tilted her head, nodding down to JJ's hand. 'You have my card now, after all.'

'You're crazy,' JJ said because it was all he could think of to say. Meredith sighed again, sounding very frustrated. 'Why would I do that?'

'I'm really not trying to scare you here, Jean. But like or not, you've gotten yourself roped into something much bigger than you,' she said, eyes a stormy grey as they watched JJ from underneath thin, narrowed brows. 'You can wax poetic all you like about just talking. But at the end of the day, if you want to get out of this without your fiancée or the ISU finding out about your little lunch, then you'll need friends on your side.'

JJ swallowed, tightening his grip on the card in his hand. Meredith's face softened a little, but if anything that just made JJ feel all the more uncertain.

'Friends like me.'

 

 

Chapter Text

Victor was putting it off.

It was so late now. Almost eight-o-clock. Eros was bound to think that Victor had changed his mind, had dismissed the idea of seeing him. When really quite the opposite was true. Victor wanted to see Eros so badly that it had consumed his thoughts throughout the day, his entire free-skate being a show of affection towards the man. Victor hoped Eros had been watching. That he'd understood what Victor had been trying to tell him.

Each extension, each counter- a carefully constructed invitation. Even the commentators for Skate America had mentioned how enamoured they were- surely that was a sign that Eros, if he had been watching, would've been, too? Victor needed Eros to have understood.

That meant more than the gold medal did, if Victor was being honest.

Victor had to do it. He should text him, now. Now.

Victor lay back on the hotel bed, looking at the number on his phone. Marked as Katsudon since Friday, Victor thumbed at it idly, wondering how best to draft the text message.

Dear Eros... No, that wasn't right.

Eros, I'm so sorry... Closer, but it still sounded so weak.

Darling... Definitely not.

It was more than explaining about his confiscated wallet. Which Victor was reluctant to do. As that was to open a whole other can of worms, in that Victor, (a twenty-seven year old adult), was incapable of standing up to his coach. It wasn't like Eros would want to hear about that whole story, anyway. That would most certainly be outside the realms of professional boundaries. Unless therapy was a branch of escorting Victor wasn't aware of.

In the end, Victor hit call a little impulsively, not even sure a call was something Eros would answer.

One ring, two rings, three- Victor was starting to panic now, wondering if he'd even get through at all. What if Eros had another incident with his phone and this wasn't the number he used anymore? Was that likely to happen twice? Would he even let Victor know?

Maybe Eros didn't answer phone calls. Was this too forward-?

'Hello,' a voice said and Victor jumped on the bed, leaping into a sitting position like it might help him hear better. Victor was smiling, spare hand fidgeting with the cuffs of his kit as he folded his legs up under him.

'Hello, katsudon,' Victor said and he heard the small huff of laughter at the other end of the phone. Most people sounded different on the phone, but Eros sounded exactly the same. Victor liked the sound of his voice. His American English was less grating than the genuine accent, the way he said the words soft like they were something you could sleep in.

'Do you still want to see me tonight?' Eros asked, easy flirtation over the phone and Victor looked at the bed he was sitting on. It had been turned-down while he had been competing, all evidence of Eros' presence gone. Except for the fact that Victor's jumper was also gone.

Victor wanted to say yes so badly.

'I'm so sorry, miliy,' Victor said, reluctant to say any of it but knowing he'd have to. 'But I'm afraid I won't be able to make an appointment for tonight.'

Victor didn't want to admit that it was because his funds had been confiscated by a cranky old Soviet, hoping Eros wouldn't push, but Victor also hoped that Eros didn't think it was anything he had done. Eros was silent on the other end of the phone for a moment, but when he spoke it was all with practiced tone.

'Don't be sorry. These things happen,' he said and Victor felt his heart drop with sadness. 'I was happy to see you when I did.'

'I wish I could see you!' Victor blurted out, mentally kicking himself immediately after as that wasn't a very cool, sexy thing to say. Eros said nothing, just a small intake of breath of the other end of the phone. Victor wondered if he had the surprised look on his face that Victor so admired. 'I want nothing more than to do so. I- I've just had a bit of trouble with my finances.'

It seemed so crude, to bring up the money. But Victor wanted to be clear, didn't want Eros to think for one moment that Victor wouldn't be seeing him if he had any means to do so. Because Victor would, of course he would. The only reason he didn't was because Yakov was a terrible snoop and Victor was too much of a coward to stand up to him.

For... reasons.

'I see,' Eros said at last.

Victor felt like a fool. It felt like an excuse, although humiliating and even worse, a true one. He flushed, face hot and still fidgeting, unable to stay still as embarrassment flooded him. Victor bounced a little on the bed. What a thing to admit to. Should he explain? Would Eros let him? It really was hard to explain without sounding a bit weak-willed. At best.

'Perhaps I'll see you again next time you're in the States,' Eros started, voice easy and practiced but Victor spoke over him, spouting the words out awkwardly.

'Wait, before you go!'

'Yes?' Eros said, tone slightly hopeful. Or maybe that was just what Victor wanted to hear.

'Did you see the free-skate?' Victor asked, because he needed to know. Eros stumbled a bit on the phone, all endearing stuttering and Victor felt like his heart might run away with just the sound of it.

'Oh! Um, yes. I did. You were amazing,' Eros said, laughing softly at the end of the sentence. 'You always are.' 

Victor grinned, pride swelling inside of him. He took the words and considered them, just for a moment. Just long enough to really let them sink in. Victor wanted to keep those words in a box somewhere, so he could take them out and admire them whenever he pleased. Eros had no idea- absolutely no idea the things he did to Victor. 

'I'm glad you liked it,' Victor said, aborting his confession that the skate had been for Eros. That seemed a bit too much. Whatever they were doing now was nice, but Victor could tell it was delicate. Like all interactions with Eros over the last two days, the adrenaline of their first meeting fast-evaporating to reveal this tenuous emotion between them. Or maybe it was just Victor. 

Victor really hoped it wasn't just him. 

'I should let you go,' Eros said though he sounded disappointed. Victor looked around the room, desperate for any inspiration to keep the conversation going.

'You still have my jumper!' Victor said, just remembering as his eyes fell on his mess of a suitcase. This was perfect! A great excuse to see Eros, without the preamble or the expectation. Maybe Victor could-

'Of course. My apologies,' Eros said and Victor's thoughts stopped cold. He sounded off, why did he sound off? Was he unhappy? 'Where would you like me to send it?'

'I-uh,' Victor paused, not sure what to make of that. Couldn't he just come and pick it up in person? Was that not an option?

'I wouldn't want to keep it from you,' Eros continued and he definitely sounded more distant. Victor stammered, feeling unsure. He'd never been one for feeling so nervous, but Eros seemed to bring that out in him. Eros shifted the phone, the line crackling. 'Victor...'

'Yes?' Victor said, perhaps a little eagerly.

'I really did enjoy my time with you. You were...' Eros trailed off, leaving Victor waiting. But Victor didn't dare say anything, scared to interrupt in case Eros didn't finish. If this was what Eros had been going to say earlier before Yakov so rudely interrupted them, Victor wasn't sure he could take it if Eros didn't finish that sentence. 'You definitely lived up to expectation.'

Victor paused, feeling a little wrong-footed. He wasn't sure what he was expecting, but it wasn't that. To be honest, Victor wasn't entirely sure he knew what he was hoping for.

'As did you,' Victor said, again feeling eternally grateful to Chris for introducing the two of them and trying to ignore his niggling disappointment. Eros laughed gently at the other end of the line. Victor wished he could record the sound, worried his memory wouldn't do it justice. Victor wanted to admit as such. But that was probably a bit too forward. Crossing the boundaries again. Victor back-tracked, trying for blasé. 'You really are quite the service.'

'Oh,' Eros breathed and Victor paused, wondering if he'd done something wrong for the amusement to leave Eros' voice so quickly. 'Thank you. So, where would you like me to send your sweater?'

'Why don't you keep it?' Victor suggested, rocking back and forth on the mattress. He was just stalling now, he knew it. But he couldn't help himself. Victor wanted to keep Eros on the phone as long as possible. 'It can be like a tip! If you can tip such a thing.'

'You don't have to do that,' Eros said sternly and Victor felt his stomach drop at the tone. 'It's yours. You should have it.'

'I want you to have it!' Victor said before he could stop himself. Eros was silent for a while, not even his breathing coming over the line. Victor waited, heart pounding with sudden nervousness. 

'Why?' Eros asked at last and Victor bit his lip, unsure how to answer that. Would it be enough to say that Victor just wanted Eros to have something of his? That it made Victor happy to think of him in his clothes? Victor couldn't help but feel that admitting to any of those things would have the complete opposite affect of relaxing Eros. 

'I feel you should have it,' Victor settled on at last, twisting the end of his kit up and around his ankle. He was never one for fidgeting, but the anxious energy that was pooling inside him needed to escape somehow. He thought of Eros that morning, his flayed hair and round cheeks. Eros had left Victor into something precious, something he probably kept to himself more often than not. But it had been obvious that Eros didn't know what to do with that intimacy. Maybe Victor was pushing too much, too fast. 'It's a feeling. I can't really explain it. I guess someone like you wouldn't understand.'

Victor had hoped he came across as understanding, as not wanting to take more than Eros wanted to give. But it had apparently been entirely the wrong thing to say.

'Is- is that what you think of me?' Eros said slowly, upset evident in his voice. Victor panicked, leaping up the bed and running a hand through his fringe.

'No, no! I just mean-'

'I'm not a thing,' Eros said sternly. Victor's blood ran cold, stomach turning horribly. Before he could say anything else, Eros continued; 'Thank you for your time, Victor. I really did enjoy it. I'll be sure to send your belongings back to you.'

'Wait, wait!' Victor scrambled, turning on his heel and waving his hand around, though Eros of course couldn't see him. 'Eros, you have to know-'

'My name is not Eros,' Eros snapped and Victor felt his throat swell with something, feeling choked. 'I thought- you know, nevermind. That was my fault. You should probably get an early night for your flight.'

'Please, don't-!' Victor cried but it was too late, Eros had hung up. Victor took the phone down from his ear and stared at the wallpaper Makkachin who stared right back, brown eyes accusing.

What had just happened?

Victor quickly went to redial the number, but it cut off before ringing. Eros was hanging up before Victor was even getting a chance. Maybe he'd already blocked the number. Victor had seen on television, in movies, that when prostitutes got scared or upset with a client they would just block them. Was that what Eros was doing?

Panicking, Victor kept trying to get through. Even typed out a few frantic text messages, but they went unread. Or at least unreplied to. But they were getting through, at least. Was Eros always so dramatic? Victor hadn't meant what he said. He most certainly didn't mean to imply that he thought Eros cold or unfeeling! Didn't Eros realise how difficult this was? To navigate the careful rules of client-escort for the client? It wasn't like there was a handbook!

Defeated and feeling absolutely horrendous, Victor fell back against the bed. He stared up at the ceiling, ugly disappointment and shame cloying inside him for dominance as he went over the conversation again in his head. Eros must've thought Victor had a very different image of him than Victor truly did. But didn't Eros feel what Victor felt after their night together? Victor had been so sure that the sex they had the night before had been a very, very different affair from the sex Eros would've had with any other client.

Eros had sounded like maybe he was going to tell Victor the same thing. Victor had hoped so desperately he would've.

I'm an idiot, Victor thought miserably. He thought of Eros; his slim waist and plush mouth. Something like grief gripped Victor as he realised he may never have those things again, may never see them even. Victor had no way of contacting Eros, knew nothing about his life outside of the work he did-

Except, that wasn't true.

The memory came back to Victor suddenly and he sat up quickly, t-shirt bunching as he did. He opened Instagram, quickly typing the screen-name in while he still remembered.

Phichit was a chance. A small one, but he was a chance to get a foot in the door of Eros' life none the less. Even if Victor just got to see Eros once more, just once, he could get the chance to explain. To apologise for being so foolish. To tell Eros that he thought he was beautiful and engaging, that Victor wanted to know him. That Victor didn't want to call him Eros anymore, or ever again.

Like he'd said himself, it wasn't his name.

Victor hit follow.
 



'You look miserable. In fact, you couldn't look more miserable if you tried,' Phichit said from the couch as Yuuri moped around by pouring himself another cup of tea. Yuuri ignored him, moving through the kitchen towards the armchair in the far corner. There, he folded himself into it like the very picture of dejection- sad, grey pyjamas and all.

'I'm not miserable. I'm just tired.'

'No. I'm tired, because I had a competition that got me into the Grand Prix,' Phichit replied teasingly, trying to lighten the sour mood of his friend. Yuuri hummed in response, taking a sip of his tea. Phichit smiled over at him, tickling the chin of the hamster that was currently in his hand. 'Though I suppose you could be tired after your night of wild, illicit sex with Victor Nikiforov.'

'Phichit!' Yuuri squeaked, glasses slipping down his nose as he jumped with shock. Phichit shook his head in disbelief.

'Honestly. How are you the same person? You're blushing right now, yet I have photographic evidence of you being the most flirty flirt to ever flirt,' Phichit said, nodding to his phone on the table for emphasis. Yuuri frowned at him over his mug.

'It's different. I was working,' Yuuri said, like that explained anything. Phichit rolled his eyes, standing up to replace Tibbles back in his cage, which Yuuri had made him move to the corner by the television. 'You should really delete those photos.'

'I don't think so!' Phichit replied with a scoff. 'I won't post them, obviously. But you can be damn sure I'm keeping the evidence that you seduced Victor Nikiforov.'

'I didn't really seduce him...' Yuuri said quietly, looking away from Phichit and staring at his mug as Phichit carefully put Tibbles back into the cage with Puy and N̂ảtāl. Phichit didn't say anything, thinking about that for a moment. He walked back over to the couch, sitting down and reaching over for shoes. He'd have to leave soon for the after-party being held in the student house of one the womens' skaters off campus.

Phichit watched Yuuri from the couch. He looked at Yuuri’s tucked legs, his small wrists. The round nose and big eyes, still watching the tea like it might give the answers to whatever questions were obviously going through his head. Something was eating at Phichit, too, but he wasn't sure how to bring it up. As the silence persisted, in the end, Phichit decided to just go for it.

'Yuuri.'

'Hmm?'

'About yesterday. What I said...' Phichit started, feeling his chest grow tight as Yuuri stiffened on the armchair, fingers tight around his mug. Phichit swallowed awkwardly, running his hands nervously up and down his thighs. 'I- you know, I really shouldn't have said it. I didn't mean it.'

'It's fine,' Yuuri responded quietly, taking another sip of his tea but not meeting Phichit's eye. Phichit felt his stomach turn uncomfortably.

'I'm sorry, Yuuri.'

'I told you. It's fine.'

'It's not.'

'Phichit,' Yuuri sighed, closing his eyes like he was composing himself for a moment. Phichit resisted the urge to take offence; it hadn't worked out well last time. Then Yuuri was looking at him and he was smiling. 'You were right. I should've had faith in you. I was being selfish.'

'Well, I understand why. Victor Nikiforov and all that,' Phichit replied, smiling back and hoping Yuuri would appreciate his joking. Yuuri let out a small laugh, before looking away again. Back into his thoughts, eyes downcast and mouth thin. Phichit thought of the evening before.

Phichit had never seen Yuuri look like he had yesterday. And not just the clothes and the hair, but even just the way he moved. It was bizarrely like watching Yuuri skate- all easy confidence, a sweeping persona. Seeing Victor and Yuuri together was one of the most surreal moments of Phichit's life and looking back, he really wished he hadn't started the beer before they arrived because if he'd been a little more sober, maybe then he could've appreciated it a bit more for the insanity it was.

But it was hard to keep the very rational thought that Nikiforov hiring Yuuri, (for sex!), was insane present when all Phichit had been able to focus on when it was happening was how happy Yuuri had looked.

Phichit wasn't sure what to make of that, to be honest.

They didn't say anything for a long while as Phichit tied his laces, Yuuri quietly drinking his tea and lost to his silent ruminations. Phichit really had to leave soon if he wanted to meet up with Leo and Guang-Hong, but he found himself unable to move from the couch.

‘How do you do it?’ Phichit asked at last, Yuuri pausing in a sip of his tea as he did. Yuuri met his gaze across the living room, glasses still slightly askew. ‘How do you switch like that? It's… You know, it was actually weird to watch. The clothes, the way you spoke.' Yuuri watched him owlishly and Phichit laughed nervously. 'Contact lenses! You hate contact lenses.’

‘Glasses aren’t exactly sexy,’ Yuuri replied, self-consciously adjusting said glasses on his nose. Phichit resisted the urge to roll his eyes again.

‘Really? That's all you have to say?’

Yuuri shrank back into the armchair, holding the mug of tea like a shield. Phichit waited, refusing to give Yuuri an out. They still hadn't gotten the chance to talk and though this was another case of the bad timing that seemed to haunt them lately, Phichit found himself actually entertaining the thought of missing the after-party so he and Yuuri could talk properly.

‘I don't know,’ Yuuri said after what felt like a long time. He wasn't looking at Phichit anymore, instead staring off towards the kitchen. ‘Like you said, it’s just like a switch. Or more like, a shift, I guess? Yeah. Like myself, but from a different angle or something.’

Phichit frowned as Yuuri spoke, trying to follow the logic. It didn't exactly sound impossible, but Phichit would be lying if he didn't think it sounded off. That kind of detachment didn't sound very healthy, especially from Yuuri. Phichit knew Yuuri had long struggled with the more anxious parts of his personality, had seen the different compulsions and habits Yuuri had learned to deal with it over the years. When he had been skating, Yuuri had mentioned something very similar. But in the wake of learning Yuuri's real profession, Phichit wasn't sure if the way Yuuri thought about it was really logical, or really...

'So, how was your evening with Victor?' Phichit said, changing the subject because he suddenly felt a bit out of his depth to discuss Eros and Yuuri any longer. Phichit wasn't sure he was in the mood to see just how much of his friend was real or not, to learn just what Yuuri was capable of convincing people of.

(Maybe he was afraid to).

Yuuri blushed and Phichit felt like a knot that was inside him loosened. This was familiar. This was a Yuuri Phichit could understand.

'It was good,' Yuuri mumbled into his mug, looking away from Phichit again. 'Better than that actually.'

'I can't believe you slept with Victor Nikiforov,' Phichit said, because it was true. The mocking Yuuri was going to get once those posters were unpacked... Phichit grinned and found himself surprised with how easy it felt to do so. Yuuri muttered something into his mug. 'What was that?'

Yuuri took a deep breath.

'It's actually the second time I've slept with him,' Yuuri said quickly, eyes glancing over to Phichit as he spoke. Phichit's mouth dropped open before he could stop it.

'I'm sorry, what?!' he exclaimed and Yuuri groaned, hanging his head. Phichit thought back over the last few days, trying to put things together, which he slowly began to do. 'Wait, wait. The guy from the other day? The one you had a little sex with? Who took you ice-skating?!'

'Um. Yeah. That was also Victor,' Yuuri said, shifting in the armchair. Phichit's mind stuttered on that information for a moment.

'Also?! How many times have you been with him? How long has this been going on?!' Phichit said, growing more hysterical as he went. Was this another secret Yuuri had been keeping? How many were there? Phichit rocked back on the couch, head hitting the back of it with a dull thump. Yuuri waved a hand manically at him.

'N-not long! Our first appointment was on Thursday-'

'Thursday!' Phichit shrieked, new energy exploding in him, causing him to leap off the couch. He stomped over to Yuuri, leaning over with his hands on his hips. Yuuri shrugged nervously. 'You mean you've been dating Victor Nikiforov since Thursday and you didn't think to mention it, at all?'

Yuuri suddenly frowned, looking stern. When he spoke, his voice was low; 'We're not dating, Phichit. That's not how it works.'

Phichit thought back over what he said and felt himself flush. He hadn't meant to say that. Phichit shook his head, suddenly nervous to meet Yuuri's eye. He focused on his hamsters in the corner, listening absently to their squeaking and scratching.

'Right. Of course, sorry,' Phichit said sheepishly, running a hand through his hair. Yuuri fidgeted with his mug, turning it between his hands. 'I just mean, how could you not tell me?'

'I didn't want to overwhelm you,' Yuuri said, still turning the mug and looking at it instead of Phichit, which despite Phichit's best efforts, was beginning to annoy him. Phichit took a breath, trying to calm himself. There was no point in getting frustrated. He'd learned that yesterday. And what Yuuri was saying was not strictly speaking unfair logic. The weekend had been- interesting, to say the least.

'I kept waiting for the right time. I didn't want to distract you from the competition. But then yesterday after the short-program, after our, you know-' Yuuri trailed off and Phichit felt another stab of shame at the memory of what he had said to Yuuri. Yuuri tugged his bottom lip between his teeth, like he always did when he was unsure of something. 'I didn't mean to spring Victor, or me, or any of it on you like that. I know I should've just been honest from the beginning. But...'

Yuuri stopped speaking, voice trailing away until he was mumbling and then silent. Phichit didn't blame him. This was hard. No point pretending it wasn't.

'Besides, Victor doesn't really matter now anyway,' Yuuri muttered, suddenly bitter and taking another sip. Phichit frowned and crossed his arms over his chest, confused. He stared down at Yuuri, knowing full well that Yuuri was definitely avoiding looking at him now. Phichit cleared his throat with purpose.

'Uh, what does that mean?'

'He flies back to Russia in the morning,' Yuuri said, feigning nonchalance but Phichit knew him better than that. Of that one thing, Phichit was still certain. Phichit was sure he knew Katsuki Yuuri better than Yuuri knew himself; especially if Yuuri was hiding under aliases and angles, as he'd put himself. It didn't take much to put two and two together.

'That's why you're miserable,' Phichit said and Yuuri didn't deny it. Instead, he just tucked himself further into the armchair. 'Because Victor's leaving.'

'I don't really have a right to be miserable about it. He made that perfectly clear,' Yuuri said, voice distant and words strangely cold. Phichit found he didn't like it at all. 'He's a client. Clients leave.'

Phichit tried not to feel uncomfortable at the word client either, instead pushing past it and focusing on the task at hand. Which was to get Yuuri out of his pity-party. Which this most definitely was, Phichit was now convinced.

'But you are anyway, right?' Phichit pressed, wishing Yuuri would stop being such a baby and just look at him. Phichit shifted on his feet, awkwardly adjusting his sweater for something to do. 'I've barely seen you this weekend. That's because of Victor, isn't it?'

Yuuri blushed again, now ignoring his tea entirely. 'I really liked him.'

'Shocker,' Phichit deadpanned, which finally got Yuuri to look at him. Even if it was a glare. Phichit smiled, relaxing a bit now he could read Yuuri's expression. 'Of course you liked him. How could you, Victor Nikiforov's number one fan, not end up liking him after like- what? Three days of continuous sex?'

'No,' Yuuri said a little quickly, causing Phichit to pause. Yuuri bit his lip again, before rolling his shoulders dramatically and sighing even more so. 'It's not like that. I don't mean I liked him. Just... I thought he was nice. He was different to what I expected.'

Phichit thought about that for a moment, not quite understanding. Slowly though, it began to dawn on him as Yuuri kept staring up at him with his imploring eyes, like a kicked puppy. Phichit opened his mouth in a small oh of surprise. He laughed, though he knew he probably shouldn't. But really, did Yuuri really expect Phichit to believe that?

'Are you kidding?' Phichit scoffed and Yuuri just frowned at him, clearly disapproving of Phichit's amusement.

'Stop mocking me.'

'Absolutely not,' Phichit said, laughing still. 'Is admitting you're going to miss him really that bad?'

'I'm not going to miss him,' Yuuri replied, sounding petulant which only caused Phichit to laugh even more. 

'You're impossible,' Phichit teased. 'Need I remind you that I have photographic proof of you “not-liking” Victor Nikiforov?'

'You really do need to delete those,' Yuuri grumbled meekly. Phichit shook his head, turning to get his phone from the table. Shit. Checking the time, Phichit was definitely late now. He'd have to make his own way to the party. Suddenly, the idea came to him. He faced Yuuri again, who narrowed his eyes back Phichit. 'What? What are you looking at me like that for?'

'You should come with me tonight,' Phichit suggested, enjoying Yuuri's look of surprise.

'No, no! That's not happening!' Yuuri stammered, standing up and heading towards the kitchen, putting the coffee-table between himself and Phichit.

'It'll do you some good! C'mon, if you're just going to lurk here feeling sorry for yourself because the man you're in love with is leaving, then you may as well do it with a drink in your hand,' Phichit said, following Yuuri into the kitchen and tugging on his pyjama top incessantly. Yuuri muttered something about not being in love with Victor, but Phichit ignored it as it was most certainly not true.

'I don't drink.'

'You did yesterday!'

'That was a special occasion.'

'Sure was,' Phichit replied, wiggling his eyebrows as Yuuri threw a filthy look over his shoulder at him. 'Please, Yuuri! I promise you'll have fun.'

'You're in no position to promise that. Besides, I'm already in my pyjamas,' Yuuri said lamely, gesturing to the offending clothing. Phichit really did roll his eyes at that. He stomped a foot childishly, swinging his hands like he remembered doing as a child when his mother would tell him no in the shops.

'Yuuri-kun~' Phichit pleaded, knowing he was going to win by the way Yuuri blushed at the suffix. How could Phichit ever have doubted how well he knew this guy? 'Please! I've officially qualified for the Grand Prix! Come and have at least one drink with me about it! And if you're still miserable, I promise we can leave early.'

'You never leave early,' Yuuri said, but Phichit knew his resolve was breaking.

'I will for you, cross my heart!' Phichit boasted, actually crossing his heart with a hand for emphasis. Yuuri watched him, lips pursed. Phichit waited. Any second now-

'Fine!' Yuuri groaned, throwing his eyes to the ceiling. He pointed a finger at Phichit, eyes stern. 'One drink! But then I'm going home. Do not let me get drunk!'

Phichit grinned, triumphant and leapt at Yuuri, hugging him tightly. Yuuri pushed him off with a blush, before shuffling out of the kitchen to go and get changed. Phichit watched him go, taking his phone up to take a celebratory selfie for Snapchat. But as Phichit brought the phone up, he froze as he saw one of the notifications on the lockscreen.

v-nikiforov has requested to follow you

The noise that escaped Phichit he would never have described as a scream, but it wasn't too far off one either. Phichit jumped up and down for a moment in the kitchen. He vaguely remembered asking Victor the night before to follow him, but he never thought for one moment that the Victor Nikiforov would actually go through with it! Phichit was just about to call Yuuri when he stopped himself.

Yuuri would probably tell him to decline the request. He may even freak out further and ask Phichit to block Victor altogether. That was the kind of run-away-from-my-problems tactic that was classic Katsuki.

Phichit opened the request, staring down at the little symbols for accept and reject.

Yuuri didn't have social media. Of any kind. Phichit had always thought that was weird, but given recent revelations, Phichit understood it a lot more now. And Yuuri had always been strict, asking Phichit to never name him in any photos Phichit posted. Which Phichit never had, because he was a good friend. It wasn't like Yuuri would ever know...

No. That was bad. Phichit couldn't really hold the moral high-ground over Yuuri for lying about his profession if Phichit was going to lie about this. Could he? Though, it wasn't even like he was lying, exactly. Just not telling Yuuri. That was different, right? Yuuri didn't tell him lots of things. This was only fair. Wasn't it? And having Victor Nikiforov following his Instagram would do amazing things for Phichit's own online presence, especially in the skating community.

Also it Victor freaking Nikiforov.

Before he could think any more about it, Phichit hit accept. He would tell Yuuri. Later, when Yuuri had some drink in him and would be a little more open to the idea. Nobody knew Yuuri like Phichit did. So surely, if anyone could convince Yuuri that this was fine, it was Phichit?



Chris sat down onto Victor's bed, face already scrutinising and Victor hadn't even admitted anything yet.

'I didn't expect to see you tonight, chéri,' he said, propping himself up on the pillows, long legs crossed elegantly and hands folded on his lap. He watched Victor with astute eyes which Victor was now very maturely ignoring by focusing on his phone. Victor perched himself in one of the armchairs by the desk, idly scrolling through Instagram.

'What do you mean? Not happy to see me?' he deflected, liking a photo Yuri recently uploaded of his cat back in St. Petersburg, mostly just to spite the younger skater who always complained that Victor was cyber-stalking him.

His flight for Moscow was at 6:40AM the next morning and Victor wasn't sure how he felt about it. Not good anyway.

'I'm always happy to see you, chéri. But I can't help but think you're using me as a distraction for something,' Chris said, glancing around the room before frowning at the bedside table. 'This wouldn't have anything to do with your coach, would it?'

'I don't want to talk about it.'

'I see. So I'm here for you to not-talk to?' Chris joked and Victor looked up from his phone to give Chris the biggest glare he could muster. Chris chuckled softly. 'I know I'm irresistible, but this is unusual. Even for you. Maybe even especially for you. I didn't think the great Victor Nikiforov got lonely.'

'I'm not lonely!' Victor snapped, defensive. Chris raised an eyebrow at him. Victor flushed, fidgeting with his phone. 'Alright. Maybe I'm a little lonely.'

'I was under the impression you'd have company,' Chris said, leaning over the bed towards the bedside table. Victor looked down to his phone again. 'Coach catch you out?'

'Not exactly,' Victor said, still unsure what he wanted from Chris, though Chris had been kind enough to abandon his boyfriend to come keep Victor company. Truth be told, Victor had just been going insane alone in the hotel room, going over his conversation with Eros over and over in his head. Eros had sounded so distant on the phone, so far removed from the man Victor had made love to the night before. Victor was worried he'd done something he wouldn't be able to fix. Was worried he'd run out of time.

'So. You won't be seeing Eros again before you leave?' Victor still couldn't look at Chris, sinking lower into the armchair and pretending to be engrossed in his phone. Chris sighed dramatically, shaking his head in the corner of Victor's eye.

Victor continued to scroll aimlessly through Instagram, ignoring the rolling notifications of likes he was getting to keep himself from impatiently tapping. He tapped a heart over Chris’ latest post, (‘Dîner avec mon chéri <3 #romance), who apparently had chosen to celebrate his bronze with his choreographer earlier that evening. Victor tried not to feel a small twinge of jealousy, wishing he could've spent the evening with who he wanted, too.

'Maybe it's for the best. These affairs are best when short, don't you think, chéri?'

Whatever Chris was talking about went ignored entirely however as one of the notifications Victor got was chulanont+phichit accepted your follow request.

Victor sat up straight in the chair immediately, curling his legs up as he quickly went to Phichit’s Instagram, Chris' inquiries going ignored.

Phichit had been a private account when Victor had looked him up earlier, which surprised Victor if he was honest. But clearly he wasn't too strict, as according to his Instagram, he had just over 100,000 followers. Impressive for his first Grand Prix season. 

'What is this? Where did you even get it?'

Victor scrolled through the photos, impressed with Phichit’s ability to get what appeared to be the perfect lighting in every selfie he took and completely ignoring whatever Chris was saying. But Victor was looking for something very particular. He had hoped Phichit had uploaded the photos from their evening after the short-program. But it seemed Phichit had taken Eros seriously and chosen not upload them.

However, that wasn't to say Victor was disappointed, as once he scrolled through Phichit’s numerous selfies from Skate America, he found something most unexpected.

'Is this Eros' watch?'

It was a photo of Eros, in what looked like a small bed. Almost like something from the skater dorms for the juniors back in St Petersburg. He was stretching shirtless, clearly just woken up with the sun casting him into a beautiful silluoette. Victor liked it before he could think about it, reading Phichit’s caption.

Surprise abs! #bfgoals #fitfam #strikeapose #candid

Victor really, really hoped #bf stood for ‘best-friend.’ But Eros was shirtless… Would Eros have told him if he was dating Phichit? He told Victor he wasn't dating anyone. And Phichit called Eros by his alias that night, so clearly Phichit was somewhat aware of Eros’ profession and he seemed fine with Eros being with Victor. That meant the likelihood of them dating was small, right? But they were clearly very close.

‘Victor, are you even listening to me?’

Victor frowned, continuing to scroll and finding more photos of Eros than he expected.

He looked adorable. Smiling, sometimes caught off guard. And Victor got to see the famous glasses. They weren't as refined as Victor imagined them to be, the frames quite chunky and bright blue.

They suit him, Victor thought with a smile, liking another selfie Phichit had taken of he and Eros on a bed somewhere.

'I'm going to throw myself out of this window. Life is just too cruel for me anymore. The world's Victor Nikiforov has dismissed me from his attentions. My heart is too broken to go on. Au revoir, mes amis!'

There was never a name tagged, just the same hashtag of #bfgoals. Victor pouted to himself, trying not to let his mind run away with itself. It probably just meant best-friend goals and even if it didn't, it really was none of Victor’s business. Photos of Eros had comments disabled. Victor wondered if Eros asked Phichit for that.

'VICTOR!'

Victor jumped at the sudden outburst. He looked over to the bed, where Chris was sitting and looking incredibly exasperated as he held something aloft in his hand. Victor blinked, slowly taking in what Chris was holding. It was a watch. Black leather straps, white-face and elegant. It looked familiar, but it wasn't Victor's-

'Oh my god!' Victor said, leaping off the armchair and scrambling onto the bed. He half-straddled Chris, settling on his lap as he pulled the watch out of Chris' hand. 'Where did you get this?'

'It was on the bedside table,' Chris said, clearly amused at the situation as he took in Victor sitting on him. Victor ignored him, turning the watch over his hand like it could magically reveal to Victor where Eros was right in that moment so he could go and return it. This was perfect. If there was only a way Victor could get through to Eros... 'What are you doing with Eros' watch?'

'Hmm? Oh, I didn't know he left it. The turn-down team must've left it there when they remade the bed earlier.' Victor wasn't really listening even as he answered Chris, instead still studying the watch. Then, slowly, Chris' words registered. He looked up, taking Chris' bemused expression. 'How did you know this was Eros' watch?'

'I bought it for him,' Chris said simply and Victor's brain stopped, frozen on the words. Chris laughed, shaking his head a little and carefully guiding Victor off his lap. 'It was about two years ago. Just a small thank you gift.'

Jealousy, hot and thick erupted inside of Victor but he squashed it down. If anything, Chris was more entitled to get Eros something than Victor was. But the thought that the thing Eros had put so sinfully between his teeth just the night before had come from someone else, not just someone else but Chris- it just didn't seem to sit right. Victor swallowed thickly, knowing that however irrationally pleasing it would be to not return the watch and instead buy Eros a new one as a makeshift apology gift, the watch right now was Victor's best hope of getting Eros to talk to him.

'Chris, I need you to call Eros,' Victor said seriously, sitting down next to Chris and taking his shoulder in hand. Chris frowned, looking puzzled. 'I need to see him.'

'Victor, we talked about this-'

'Chris, please. I'm asking, as my friend,' Victor implored, leaning over to try and convince Chris with as big a pout as he could muster. Chris bit his lip, still looking unsure. Victor sighed. 'I owe him an apology and he won't answer my calls. S'il-te-plait, chéri.'

Using French was definitely a low blow, but it worked as Chris rolled his eyes towards the ceiling and took out his own phone. Expensive rose-gold, without a cover. Chris was so flashy, goodness. Victor shook his own head. Now was not the time to get distracted! He opened Eros' new number for Chris to copy, ignoring Chris' curious look at the contact name.

Chris called twice, but no answer on both counts. Chris gave Victor a sympathetic look. 'I'm sorry, my friend. But it looks like he's not answering tonight. Maybe he's working.'

'That's what I'm afraid of,' Victor mumbled, falling down onto the bed dejectedly. Chris watched him, hazel eyes swirling with thought.

'Why do you need to apologise to him?' he asked in a tone that suggested he was being very careful and Victor tried not to bristle at it, ignoring the offence he felt at being treated like a child once again.

'I think I insulted him. I didn't mean to! It's just confusing,' Victor admitted, bypassing being angry and instead looking for the relief of confessing. Chris hummed quietly, adjusting his beautiful grey jumper. 'I'm not sure of the boundaries.'

'Why am I not surprised?' Chris said and it didn't sound like a scold, but Victor glared at him anyway. Chris laughed, a light noise that filled the hotel room. 'Eros can be quite jumpy. I've noticed it throughout the years.'

Victor felt another stab of jealousy as Chris casually mentioned how much longer he'd known Eros than Victor.

'People are complicated, Victor,' Chris opined kindly, patting a hand on Victor's chest sympathetically. 'I'm sure if you explain, Eros will forgive you. He must get all sorts in his profession.'

'He seemed to take this very personally,' Victor grumbled petulantly, absently running a hand along Chris' leg. It was comfortable, sitting with Chris like this. But Victor's heart still felt heavy, stomach still twisting uncomfortably with anxiety over Eros. Chris didn't say anything for a while, but when he did, his voice was soft.

'Maybe it's because you're different,' he said and Victor looked him in the eye at that. Chris held his gaze, looking strangely wistful. 'He never accepted more than one evening with me at a time, no matter how upfront I offered to cover. But you got three. In a row.'

Victor mulled that over for a moment, wondering if he dare hope. Chris smiled again, all genuine emotion and Victor felt like any jealousy he may have had melt away entirely in the wake of it.

'Maybe with you, it is personal, chéri.'

Before Victor could say anything, he noticed his phone light up next to him. Hopefully and perhaps a little stupidly thinking that Eros had texted him back, Victor quickly sat up and fumbled with it. But it was just a notification from Instagram.

See chulanont+phichit's first story on Instagram!

Curious, Victor opened the link.

It must've been from the party the other skaters were attending. It was a loud, blurry video of a bunch of people standing at a kitchen table about to do shots, with Phichit cheering happily in the background. Victor watched as Leo, the American skater from the night before and a few of the womens' skaters he only barely recognised, all downed their shots. Then there was a laugh from off camera, one Victor recognised instantly.

Phichit had turned his phone in the story, catching the red-cheeks and smiling face of Eros, who had just polished off his own shot. He looked very different than when Victor had ever seen him, but Victor knew him immediately. His big brown eyes caught the camera and it was like he was looking at Victor directly, himself and Phichit laughing merrily as music blared. Then it ended.

'What was that?' Chris asked, looking over Victor's shoulder as the story ended. 'Was that Eros?'

'I have to go!' Victor said, bouncing off the bed and beginning to pull his t-shirt off. Chris made to get off the bed as well, eyes widening as Victor stripped and headed towards the wardrobe.

'Where are you going?' Chris asked, but Victor ignored him as he pulled a white shirt from the wardrobe, throwing it on over himself and then moving to change his trousers. If he was going to see Eros, he wanted to look at least a little more put together. Looking handsome would certainly not hurt him in the whole being forgiven department, right?

'The party. The skaters one.'

'The campus party?' Chris asked, incredulous. He shook his head as Victor sat down, tying his shoes. 'Because Eros is there?'

'I told you! I have to apologise!'

'Is it really that important?' Chris asked and Victor groaned.

'Of course it is!' Victor said, standing up, pocketing his phone and Eros' watch. 'I told you, I need to see him. Not just to apologise, I just... I need to see him, Chris.'

'But you don't even know where the party is!' Chris said lamely, shrugging.

'Do you?' Victor asked and Chris sighed loudly.

'Yes,' he said and he put his hands on his hips. He gave Victor a very stern look, but it suddenly faded away to an amused smirk. 'Nikiforov, you're really something. C'mon! Let's go!'

Victor smiled, excitement brewing. This was his chance. He knew it.

 



Phichit had made a mistake. A big mistake. Though not as big as the serving of champagne Yuuri was now pouring into the Garfield mug one of the womens’ skaters had given him for his drink. Phichit caught the edge of Yuuri’s hand, trying to steady the mug but Yuuri was so off-balance it teetered anyway, champagne sloshing down both their hands.

‘Maybe you should slow down there, guy?’ Phichit suggested, Yuuri’s unfocused eyes trained on putting the very expensive bottle of champagne he had bought on the way to the party back on the kitchen table.

‘Hmm? No, ‘m fine, peet-kun,’ Yuuri slurred, Phichit’s name more a hissing between his teeth as he gave Phichit a very delirious grin.

They'd arrived at the student house just a little over two hours ago and from the moment of arrival, Yuuri had been doing his absolute damnedest to get completely and utterly wasted. It was fun at first, Phichit will admit. Yuuri taking shots with Leo had proven to be an Insta-worthy occasion, but as Yuuri outdrank Leo and continued to outdrink even the host of the party, a fellow rinkmate, Phichit felt like maybe he had enabled a bit too much.

Really, Phichit should've been on high alert at the off-licence when Yuuri had bought two bottles of champagne for the party. At one-hundred and fifty dollars each.

Phichit had always suspected Yuuri to be coasting pretty okay in the financial department, at first under the impression that his fake office job had paid extremely well and then again under the knowledge that escorting paid even better. (Without tax). But Yuuri had always been frugal, to say the least. Definitely a rainy-day kind of guy. Dropping three-hundred dollars, cash, on liqueur should've been a giant, neon warning sign.

But like Phichit thought, it had been fun at the time.

It was less fun now.

Yuuri abandoned his half empty bottle and sauntered his way towards the living room, Phichit following behind him with a relatively untouched homemade daquiri. (Turned out a triple lutz was not all the womens’ silver medalist was talented of). Yuuri sat himself down on the empty part of the couch, mug tilting but Garfield managed to stay upright, smirking at Phichit like he knew how Phichit was suffering. 

Phichit perched himself on the arm of the couch, watching Yuuri take a very large sip of his champagne as the latest Beyoncé chimed around them on a portable speaker somewhere.

‘Men are stupid,’ Yuuri said petulantly after a few moments of Phichit watching him somehow manage to stay swaying while sitting down.

‘Oh?’ Phichit said, not really listening as he reached over for the teetering Garfield before it emptied its contents all over Yuuri and this poor girl’s couch. ‘All of us? Collectively?’

Yuuri hummed, taking another drink of champagne as Beyoncé faded out into something with a faster beat. People started to move around them, dancing around the small, barren living room. (Well, not barren, exactly. They had a dart board above the mantle).

‘Especially Russian ones.’

‘Aha!’ Phichit said and alright, he was probably a little drunk, too to get so excited, but regardless, Phichit was happy to hear Yuuri begin to admit the truth of his evening depression. ‘So this is about Vi-’ Phichit stopped to glance around present company. ‘-uh, you know who?’

‘Who's that?’

Oh, for god’s-

‘You know. Vicchan, but the person,’ Phichit suggested lamely. Okay. Definitely drunk, too.

Yuuri gave Phichit a very ineffective side-eye from behind his glasses. ‘Maybe.’

‘Have you slept with other Russians?’

‘Yes,’ Yuuri replied immediately and Phichit was so stunned at first that he didn't know what to say. Luckily, (or unluckily), Yuuri kept talking; ‘I think I've been through all… continents? Yeah. Th-those things.’

‘Wow,’ Phichit said because it was the only thing he could think of to say. ‘So that's… like, a lot of guys then. Damn, Yuuri.’

‘You impreshed?’ Yuuri muttered, eyeing Garfield suspiciously like it was the cat’s fault Yuuri couldn't seem to hold steady.

Phichit let out a low whistle. ‘Yeah, actually. I really didn't think you had it in you.’

Taking a sip of his daiquiri, (which was amazing, wow), Phichit looked around the room. Leo had managed to rope a very, very red-faced Guang-Hong into a dance over by the window and most of the guests who weren't skaters but friends and local students were nodding along politely to the skating conversation. It was a good party. Phichit should be having fun. But he found himself looking back at Yuuri, who still looked infinitely miserable despite being so drunk. There was no fun to be had if Yuuri was sad.

‘Maybe Vicchan was a sign,’ Phichit tried, careful not to push too much. Yuuri blinked at him, brown eyes swimming and oh god was he going to cry?! Yuuri gave him a puzzled frown.

‘A sign?’ he asked, holding Garfield to his chest and tilting his chin. Phichit sighed. This right here was why Yuuri still got carded. He looked about twelve. ‘O-fuh… Of what?’

‘I don't know!’ Phichit cried, waving his red cup of daiquiri for emphasis. Yuuri watched the movement with his shiny eyes, the sight of them making Phichit feel a surge of protectiveness course through him. This was his best-friend. And Victor Nikiforov made him sad. Therefore- ‘Just forget about Vicchan! Forget about all of it. It's been a weird few days. Take a break or something!’

The thought stuck. Phichit paused, mulling it over for a bit. Yuuri said nothing, swaying still to the music, (or the excessive champagne, who could tell?)

‘Maybe you should take a break,’ Phichit said slowly, the idea sounding even better out loud. Yuuri chewed the inside of his cheek, making himself look even more adorable. This only served to make Phichit even more sure that his idea would protect Yuuri. ‘I'm not saying quit! But just take a little holiday, you know? See how us normal people live.’

‘’M not normal?’ Yuuri mumbled and Phichit reached out, giving his friend a hug around the shoulders.

‘Oh, buddy,’ Phichit said sweetly before pulling back and looking Yuuri in the eye. ‘Of course you're not. Look at your life right now.’

Biting his lip, Yuuri seemed to think about that for a moment. The music changed again, this time a preppy Goulding beat that made Phichit want to dance himself. But Yuuri looked in no condition to dance, at all. There were many stages to a night-out, and despite it being so early, Yuuri looked ready for stage six, which was crying in the bathroom about the unfairness of love. Phichit hoped Yuuri was seriously thinking about his suggestion of taking a break. If this is what happened after just three days of Nikiforov-whatever, then maybe Yuuri wasn't as put-together as he made himself out to be.

Or maybe Victor Nikiforov was just special.

‘Hmm,’ Yuuri hummed, tapping his fingers on Garfield’s nose along to the beat of the song. ‘No. A break would be no good.’

Sitting up straighter, Yuuri raised a hand off his mug in something akin to a faux-Scout’s Honour. Phichit watched, bemused and disappointed.

‘The best way to get over someone is to sleep with someone else as fast as possible,’ Yuuri said like he was reciting an oath of some kind. The two other people of the couch glanced over with looks of confused delight on their faces as Phichit felt his face grow hot.

He spluttered; ‘Who told you that, Yuuri?! That is bad advice! Maybe even the worst advice I’ve ever heard!’

Yuuri paused, blinked his dark eyes and then shook his head, black bangs fluttering around his red cheeks.

‘Okay. Yeah, maybe. Hannah was never good at like-’ Yuuri waved his hands vaguely, Garfield swooping. ‘-feelings.’

‘I can see that,’ Phichit said, wondering how much Hannah had managed to mess Yuuri up without him ever noticing. Guilt suddenly pooled in his stomach, heavy and leaden. He should've been a better friend. No wonder Yuuri hadn't trusted him all these years. ‘I’m sorry, Yuuri.’

‘Pfft, what for?’ Yuuri giggled, taking another sip of his champagne.

‘I'll tell you later,’ Phichit said, reaching over and placing a kiss on top of Yuuri’s head. Yuuri giggled again. 'How about we just forget about Vicchan, and work, and men. If you can forgive me for being one as well.'

'You are a good man! The best man!' Yuuri cried, eyes wide like Phichit was crazy for suggesting anything otherwise. Phichit smiled, meeting the eye of the girl sitting next to them. He mouthed an apology as Yuuri bounced a little in his seat to face Phichit properly. Then Yuuri was frowning with a thought; ‘I would know. I've slept with a lot of them.’

Phichit choked, having never imagined Yuuri saying anything like that in a million years. And loudly, too. The two people sharing the couch at them glanced over, drunken interest and amusement on their faces. Phichit smiled, trying to urge Yuuri up off the couch quickly.

‘Maybe we should go somewhere else?’

‘Nine-hundred and seventeen.’

‘What?’ Phichit stopped in his mild shoving, confused. Yuuri nodded thoughtfully over his mug of champagne, looking unfairly adorable in his soft blue sweater and messy hair despite being so horrendously shitfaced.

‘That's how many men I've slept with,’ Yuuri said, straightening up and puffing his chest. ‘I’m good at it, too.’

‘I'm sure you are!’ Phichit squeaked with embarrassment at Yuuri’s admission. If they were home and Phichit had this confession-session to himself, he might be enjoying himself. In public, surrounded by their friends from the rink and some of Phichit's season competitors, Phichit was very afraid that Yuuri was going to drop the e-word. ‘Let’s see if there are seats left outside on the back porch, yeah?’

‘But it's coooold out there,’ Yuuri whined, stubbornly and loudly as Phichit took his hand and dragged Yuuri up off the couch, back towards the kitchen.

Phichit tried to shush him, free hand coming up to try and cover Yuuri’s mouth. This prompted Yuuri to swing an arm wildly, knocking Phichit’s poor, neglected daiquiri out of his hand and straight down the dress of the girl standing in the doorway.

Chyort!’ she squealed, big blue eyes wide with the cold drink and a very, very obvious red stain on her once-pale pink dress. Phichit froze, mouth open in shock and hands open in surrender. He recognised the girl immediately. Mila Babicheva, gold medalist in the womens' skate and rinkmate to Victor Nikiforov.

'Oh, my god! I'm so sorry!' Phichit said, desperately looking around for something to help clean up the mess. For which there was nothing. Mila was shivering now, the ice pooled around her heeled feet and daiquiri dripping down her legs.

'Why don't you look where you're going?!' Mila shrieked, accent very sharp in Phichit's ears. Yuuri groaned loudly next to them, bringing Phichit's attention back to him.

'Great, more Russians,' Yuuri muttered, seemingly finishing his mug of champagne going by the large tip he gave the thing over his mouth. Mila pouted, hands on her slender hips and red hair flared around her angry face like fire.

'What did you say?' Mila snapped, pointed nose aimed directly at Yuuri. Phichit felt his stomach drop. Drunk Yuuri was infinitely more confident and therefore far more likely to get himself into trouble than Sober Yuuri. This was definitely looking like a one-way ticket to trouble.

'Nothing,' Yuuri shrugged and for one, blissful moment, Phichit thought that might be it. But- 'Just I'm tired of you, you, Russian skaters. Always thinking you know everything. 'Cause you don't. It's annoying.'

Shit.

Mila seemed stunned for a moment, but it didn't take her long to gather herself. Mila pointed an elegant, manicured finger and poked Yuuri straight in the chest with it. Yuuri swayed under the movement and Phichit quickly moved to try and get between them, but Mila held him off with her other hand.

'And who are you anyway?' Mila said, giving Yuuri and glance over. 'You're not a skater.'

'He's no one! Just my friend-' Phichit tried for damage control, knowing in the morning that Yuuri was going to be most unhappy that he was attempting to take on the Russian skating team in a student house. Almost as unhappy as he was earlier when a member of said team apparently dumped him.

(Was it being dumped when you were an escort? Or was it being fired? Phichit shook his head, confused and unsure what entirely was happening. He'd definitely had too much to drink to deal with this situation).

'Katsuki Yuuri~,' Yuuri said, accent quite strong suddenly and Phichit groaned, knowing this was bad. Yuuri had deliberately avoided using his name, even not correcting Leo earlier in the evening when he called Yuuri Eros while doing shots.

'Well, Cutesy,' Mila said, mouth curling into a teasing smile, Phichit not sure if she was using a petname or her accent just changed Yuuri's name that much. He stared between them as Yuuri tried to stand up straighter, though it was obvious to anyone that he couldn't seem to focus on Mila properly. 'You're picking a fight with the wrong babushka! What's your problem with me and my team?'

'He's not picking fights!' Phichit said, waving his hands manically. 'Are you, Yuuri?'

'Why are you even here? Don't you have a flight in the morning?' Yuuri said to Mila like Phichit had said nothing. Yuuri waved his mug around, Garfield smiling through it. 'If they can even get your egos off the ground.'

Phichit deserved this, really. He had no one to blame but himself.

(Though he would be lying if he said he wasn't blaming Victor Nikiforov as well).

Mila blinked, blue eyes suddenly curious as she seemed to be taking Yuuri in properly for the first time since the start of their exchange. She leaned back a bit, looking between Yuuri and Phichit slowly. Then, her face broke a little from it's stern frown. She glanced back towards Phichit, something a bit softer across her striking features.

'He knows Victor, doesn't he?' she said, addressing Phichit. Phichit gaped, helplessly as Yuuri grumbled something under his breath. Mila sighed, roping an arm around Yuuri's shoulders. 'C'mon. Let's get another drink and why don't you tell me all about it. Make up for your friend ruining my dress.'

Phichit was about to cry out a protest while Yuuri teetered under the new weight of Mila. He looked drunkenly suspicious, but didn't say anything as Mila guided Yuuri back into the kitchen. Phichit was about to follow them, when suddenly someone whooped from behind him in the living room. Phichit barely had the chance to turn around before he was catching a very excited looking Guang-Hong who had seemingly launched himself at Phichit from freaking nowhere.

'Phichit! Did you see what Leo and I just did?' he laughed, cheeks very red and brown eyes glowing. A sheepish looking Leo came up from the living room, running a hand through his disheveled long hair.

Phichit wasn't sure how long he had been distracted by Leo and Guang-Hong, but every time he tried to disentangle himself from Guang-Hong, (who was giving Yuuri a run for his money in being the most drunk at this party), he found himself roped back into the play-by-play they were giving of the apparently very impressive tango they had managed. Phichit sincerely doubted it was as true a tango as they made it out to be, seeing as neither of them claimed to study dance like Yuuri had, but mostly Phichit was just disappointed he had missed the opportunity to take photos for Instagram. The only ones he'd managed so far was a quick selfie and that story of Yuuri-

Shit, Yuuri!

Any buzz Phichit had managed throughout the night now truly spent, Phichit turned to face the kitchen to find Yuuri and Mila. But Yuuri was gone. Because of course he was.

Grumbling about how Yuuri was definitely the worst friend ever and that where ever Victor Nikiforov was, Phichit hoped it was terrible and he was suffering, Phichit started to look around him for Yuuri. The asshole probably didn't even know what he’d done to Yuuri. Again. Phichit was vividly reminded of how devastated Yuuri had been after his own Grand Prix all those years ago. Back when this whole mess apparently started.

How many times was Victor Nikiforov going to swing into Yuuri’s life just to mess him around?

(Phichit knew rationally that a big part of the blame was on Yuuri, too. He should've known better than to get involved with his celebrity crush/lost love. But it was much easier and much more satisfying to blame the guy Phichit didn't live with).

Suddenly there was a hand slapping his arm.

'Phichit!' Guang-Hong squeaked, still slapping Phichit erractically. Phichit groaned, ignoring Guang-Hong mostly to stand on his tip-toes and see if he could spot Yuuri, or even Mila Babicheva over the heads of the other guests. No luck. 'Phichit, it's Victor!'

'Who?' Phichit asked, only half-listening. How far could Yuuri have gotten? A drunk Katsuki Yuuri was a dangerous thing to leave unsupervised. Maybe Mila had killed him? Wait, Phichit thought. Did Guang-Hong say-? Phichit turned on the spot, seeing the very last person he expected.

Victor Nikiforov was standing in the student living room, looking incredibly lost. He stood out terribly as well, strikingly beautiful and all style in his long, tan coat and white shirt. He was looking around the room, which was falling silent very quickly as the other guests spotted the party-crasher. Phichit scrambled, shoving both Guang-Hong and Leo out of the way as he bolted towards Victor, who was turning back into the hall.

Phichit weaved his way through the other guests, trying to keep Victor's very defining silver head in his line of vision. This was bad. This was really bad. Phichit knew that Sober Yuuri, who despite claiming to be a professional escort, was still an simmering pot of awkward just waiting to explode. And now the man he'd been in love with for like a decade and had a freaking- god, Phichit didn't even know what to call it. But whatever was happening between Yuuri and Victor was twisted and Yuuri really did not need Victor showing up like this. Drunk Yuuri hadn't a hope of getting out this alive. Not without Phichit's help.

'Phichit!' Victor cried when he saw Phichit come into the hall. He waved a hand, smiling broadly. Damn, he really was hot. Even Phichit would admit it. Phichit ran up to Victor, putting both hands on his chest and giving him a gentle shove. 'I was hoping-'

'You can't be here!' Phichit said, interrupting whatever Victor was about to say next. Victor narowed his perfectly plucked eyebrows, blue eyes narrowing.

'What do you mean?' Victor said, accent more obvious than Phichit remembered it being.

Then Victor's eyes moved from Phichit's face, scanning over his shoulder behind him. Phichit turned, seeing Yuuri standing down at the other end of the hall just in front of the door to the back porch. He was frozen, people parting like the Red Sea so Yuuri and Victor could look at each other from either end of the hall. Yuuri's eyes were wide behind his glasses, mouth opening slowly as he focused on Victor and Phichit.

'Eros,' Victor breathed and Phichit braced for impact.

Yuuri dropped the mug, Garfield's face shattering across the wooden floor.



Two hours earlier... 

 


 

JJ was sitting in the airport lounge, glass of soda in front of him and his father dozing idly on the other side of the couch. His flight back to Montreal wasn't for another hour, but JJ was itching to get home. Especially to see Isabella. The entire weekend had been so bizarre, taking a turn he really, really just wanted to forget about. Alain snored quietly, shifting a little next to JJ. His father had been questioning him since they'd arrived at the rink, JJ feeling more anxious than normal. He'd been reluctantly offered a mirtazapine, but JJ had declined.

He didn't need it. He'd come in silver, it wasn't a bad position to be in. Not gold, but there was still Skate Canada before the Grand Prix. JJ couldn't wait to get home. Home to where none of this crazy, American shit happened. Where strange women showed up, blackmailing and-

JJ flinched inwards to himself. Okay. Deep breaths, no need to panic. Not here. Not now.

But the anxiety pooled, liquid and cold inside him anyway. It was suffocating, filling JJ up. Casting a quick glance over to Alain, JJ got up from the couch and made his way through the lounge to the restroom. Once inside, JJ checked the stalls to see he was alone before going up to the sink, splashing cold water over face. No one could see him like this. He was Jean-Jacques Leroy, King of the Ice! He was not going to be seen as weak.

Deep breaths. One, two, three. There was no point panicking now. Soon, he'd be back in Montreal and he could put the whole thing behind him. In the pocket of his jeans, the card for Meredith Thronton sat like a stone. It was almost like he could feel the edges of it, digging in. Wiping a hand over his face, JJ reached into his back pocket and pulled out his phone, looking for a distraction.

Instead, what he found was he Twitter blowing up. Confused, JJ opened the app and checked the notifications. A gossip-forum had updated with an article about Skate America and everyone was retweeting it and tagging JJ. JJ opened the article, scanning through it quickly. Mostly it was just a breakdown of the latest gossip, but one paragraph in particular caught JJ's eye, pushing all thoughts of Thorton and her games from his mind.

***
Insider sources say that during the cool-down of their performances, Leroy attempted to take on the Prince himself by attacking Yuri Plisetsky, Nikiforov's teammate and protégé. (Plisetsky is gaining quite the reputation himself, first as Russia's Fairy but his fiery temper is gaining him some new critics and fast! Click link for more info!) According to these sources, Leroy was fast put in his place.

“Victor really gave him a talking to, you know? He's very protective of little Yuri. Like a brother,” our source says. Apparently, Leroy was so embarrassed by Nikiforov's takedown that he fled the rink!

If Victor Nikiforov is Prince of the Ice, then I guess that leaves Jean-Jacques Leroy as Jester of the Court!
***

Utterly livid, JJ put the phone down on the counter with a sharp smack. Who did they think they were? To talk about him like that? He was the Jean-Jacques Leroy! That was so typical of Nikiforov. He had probably tipped the press off himself, just to get the publicity. Nikiforov was always in the public eye and rarely for anything productive. While JJ was off really expanding himself as an athlete and an artist, Nikiforov was usually just snapped alongside some Italian models.

Jester?! How dare they? Any leftover panic JJ felt fled from him in the wake of fresh anger, offence and upset twisting together.

Angrily, JJ brought the article up again, scrolling furiously down through it to reach the comments, just so he could see his fans. Nobody inspired JJ like his fans did and he just knew they would already be ahead of him, tearing strips of whoever wrote this for even suggesting that JJ was anything less than courteous during that discussion in the cool-down room. Besides, it wasn't like anything JJ had said about Plisetsky wasn't true!

Before he reached the end, JJ found himself caught by another part of the so-called article. This time it was Nikiforov's name that caught his attention, but it was the fact that it was combined with one he didn't recognise straight away that stood out.

***
Phichit Chulanont: Thailand's Secret Weapon and New Bromance?
Of all the strange happenings at Skate America this season, perhaps one of the oddest was the combination of Victor Nikiforov and
Phichit Chulanont, the Thai representative for this season who's homerink is actually based in Detroit. Not much is known of Chulanont, this being his first GPF season, (and we wish him luck and congratulate him on his qualification!), but he's got quite the substantial Instagram and Twitter following.

And it seems Victor Nikiforov is another member of the Chulanont fanclub, as this Skate America the pair were spotted chatting happily before the free-skate. According to some inside sources, the newfound friends had spent the evening together with some other skaters and friends. Clearly Nikiforov saw quite the spark in Chulanont, because as of this evening Nikiforov has followed Chulanont on both Insta and Twitter! Wow! Friendship forged in fire, maybe? Who knows what
party boy Nikiforov got Chulanont caught up in the night before!
***

Phichit Chulanont? The dark boy with the programs to The King and the Skater. JJ remembered him well. His step sequences had been impressive, quite different from the usual round up of counters and combinations that dominated most of the season. He seemed like quite the low-level skater at the moment, it wasn't like Nikiforov to take an interest in such a person.

Curiosity won out, JJ typing into the search bar for Phichit Chulanont. Chulanont's Twitter was mostly a bombardment of links to his Instagram, which was little pushy for JJ's taste. He scrolled idly, not entirely sure why Victor Nikiforov would show interest in this person of all the people at Skate America. But JJ checked had Chulanont's followers, and v-nikiforov was indeed there. Nikiforov only followed twenty or so people, less than half being none-Russians.

This was... weird. Right?

JJ switched over to Nikiforov's profile. Alright, JJ would admit it. He followed Nikiforov on social media- so what? It was good to get to know your competition! Besides, Nikiforov was so old now he barely knew how to use it properly anyway. (JJ resolutely did not care that Nikiforov did not follow him back). He didn't have to scroll for long, spotting that Nikiforov had liked a tweet of Chulanont's. Clicking through, it turned out to be an Instagram post.

JJ nearly dropped his phone.

No... No way, this could not be happening. Could it?

The picture was an old selfie that Chulanont had shared, weeks ago, (God, had Nikiforov really stalked that far back?), but what mattered was who was in it. JJ knew that person. Though he was wearing glasses now and smiling, JJ recognised the escort he'd hired immediately. How could he not? The panic resurfaced, igniting inside JJ and coursing through him like electricity.

This was the only post Nikiforov had liked. That must mean- he must know Eros, too? Right? JJ couldn't think of any other reason. Nikiforov was gay, after all. Hiring a male escort made perfect sense for him and JJ sincerely doubted they just talked. Putting his phone down with a shaky hand, JJ took a deep breath, staring at his reflection in the mirror.

Nikiforov was involved with this Eros person, too. And Chulanont as well. How many skaters were? How deep did this go? JJ tried to steady his breathing, reminding himself that he was Jean-Jacques Leroy and he could handle this. He could handle anything. Almost without thinking, JJ pulled Meredith Thorton's card out of his pocket. He stared at the embossed letters, considering.

Thorton had claimed she wouldn't leave JJ alone until he gave her some information. Said that JJ had no idea what he had gotten himself into. Well, now JJ was starting to get a very clear idea. If Chulanont and Nikiforov wanted to get themselves roped into whatever the fuck this was then that was their problem, as far as JJ was concerned.

Right now, all JJ could see was a potential out. A way to bargain his way to freedom. But something was stopping him.

Passing the issue onto someone else didn't seem like a very fair thing to do. But going by the age of the post, Chulanont had known Eros for sometime. And if Victor Nikiforov was getting involved, too...

Finally making a decision, JJ took his phone back up and copied the link. He composed a quick message and filled in the email on the card, sending it to Thorton before he could think anymore about it. The message simply read that if Thorton was looking for Eros, maybe she was looking in the wrong place in asking JJ.

Turning his phone on silent, just so he wouldn't have to spend the remainder of the evening biting his nails with worry over what he'd done, JJ quickly made his way back out into the lounge. Alain was awake now, looking around the lounge and smiling as JJ approached. JJ tried to ignore the knot of worry that spun inside him, twisting like metal.

'You okay there, bud?' Alain said, patting his son on the back as JJ sat down. JJ nodded silently, ignoring the way his father's thick brows creased together in concern.

JJ slipped his phone through his fingers as they waited together, Alain commenting on the basketball that was playing on the overheard television. But JJ wasn't listening. He felt like his ears were ringing. All he wanted to do was get on the plane, get back to his own life and forget this whole mess. Get back to Isabella. Maybe even tell her everything, like he should've done in the first place.

Chapter Text

Eros was there. Right in front of him. Victor froze, suddenly unsure what to do. Eros opened his mouth slowly, the mug he was holding slipping from his fingers and hitting the floor with a crack that shattered it. People jumped around them, Phichit stepping even more between the pair of them by moving in front of Victor, his face turned down the hall towards Eros. Victor felt like his heart was suddenly three-times too big for his chest, it's beats threatening to burst out of him like birds from a cage.

Eros’ hands came up to his chest, curled fingers and bent wrists. His face was all open emotion. Beautiful, pink and pulling at Victor like the moon pulled at the tide.

Victor knew what to do.

He moved, taking one step forward and carefully pushing Phichit out of his way with the next, despite the protest. Victor walked down the short hall, focused on Eros the entire time. He looked smaller, for some reason. Shorter almost, in his jeans and soft jumper. The blue of it accented his glasses well, Victor finding his eye continuously drawn to them. In what felt like an age, Victor was finally standing before Eros, looking down at him from their few inches of difference.

Eros blinked up at him, brown eyes glazed and cheeks pink. His hair was almost wild, never any way Victor had seen it before. Feathery tufts, chopped edges. Clean of gel and style. Victor wanted to run his hands through it, feel every strand beneath his skin.

‘Why- why are you here?' Eros was whispering and it killed Victor to hear the suspicion that lurked in the quiet words.

Victor smiled as gently as he could manage, swallowing down the emotion he hadn’t expected to feel simmer inside him. Victor pulled the watch out of his pocket, holding it by a strap like one might dangle a fish. Eros' eyes moved to it, where he then squinted. Victor felt his heart squeeze at the sight. It was adorable. He was adorable.

'I came to return this,' he said, holding the watch in the space between them, waiting for Eros to take it. Which Eros did, very slowly and with a look of great concentration. His fingers brushed against Victor's as he did and it took everything in Victor not to chase after them, to link their hands together. To bring Eros' hand up to his lips.

God, what was this?

'Thank you,' Eros said softly and suddenly he was swaying. Victor stepped forward, pressing their bodies together and an arm coming down and around Eros' waist, holding him flush. Eros' already tinted face bloomed colour even more, eyes skittering away from Victor's gaze. He was so warm, Victor feeling impossibly light now they were touching.

Eros looked up at Victor, doe-eyed and lips shining. Victor licked his own before he could stop himself and his stomach did that electric little flip it had learned to do in the last few days when he saw Eros’ eyes flick down to catch the motion.

The feeling was intoxicating. Which was funny, really, as now that Victor looked at Eros properly, blinking away his initial reverie, he noticed that Eros was exceedingly drunk. Like weak-knee'd, teetering weight with the strong smell of alcohol as cologne drunk.

Oh. This wasn't... Ideal.

'All good, miliy?' Victor asked nervously, his other hand coming up to take Eros beneath the chin, tilting his head up.

‘I- I didn't think you wanted to see me again,’ Eros stammered, accent strange in his mouth as he slurred his words and his eyes mirrored. Victor felt like his heart was caught in a vice, throat tight. Everything twisting smaller, leaving no space left for the feeling that swelled inside of him.

‘How could you think that?’ he asked, shocked and ashamed he had ever given that impression. Eros shrugged his narrow shoulders, lips pouted. His small body swooned a little in Victor’s arms and Victor tightened his grip, holding them both steady. Eros slipped in beneath Victor’s chin like he was meant to be there, tucking down as he really wasn’t that much shorter. Not that it mattered. Victor would go up on his tip-toes if needs be.

‘Oi, Vitya!’

Victor looked over Eros’ shoulder to see Mila, of all people, coming through the back door of the house right behind them. Her pink dress had a large, ugly red stain that resembled her vivid hair and someone’s overly large jacket thrown over her shoulders. She gave Victor a quick glance over, eyes hovering over where Victor had his hands splayed against Eros’ back. When she met his gaze again, she was all teasing grin.

‘Found your Cutesy have you?’

Victor hadn't the faintest idea what cutesy was supposed to be mean, but he felt his neck heat up a little and his heart quicken. It was not panic- not exactly. But a definite nervousness was beginning to itch within him, a scrambling thought to gather Eros in his arms and flee. What Victor did, (and who with), was very much his own business and the thought of whatever he had with Eros colliding with his very real life set him on an edge.

A very sharp, steep edge.

Mila, however, seemed to have no sympathy or indeed pity as she walked up to the pair of them, accusing pout aimed directly at Victor.

‘Byt’ ostorozhen,’ she said, before turning to look at Eros with a terribly pitying smile. ‘Etot slishkom sladkiy dlya vas.’

‘I like her,’ Eros announced, pointing a loose hand vaguely in Mila’s direction. Mila’s smile flipped onto the side of a little more kind.

‘I like you, too,’ Mila said, reaching over and ruffling Eros’ already messy hair.

But Victor hardly noticed, heart hammering. The first thing that had gone through Victor’s mind when he had envisioned this reunion was getting Eros alone, having a private moment. Having Mila there, young smile aimed directly at Victor and eyes bright with smugness, gave Victor the impression that he had given up his privacy before he had even had the chance to protect it. Mila clapped her hands together, looking between both Victor and Eros with flushed cheeks.

‘Why don’t you try in there?’ Mila said, tossing her head down the hall towards a door that stood at the end of the stairs facing the living room. ‘It’s Megan’s, she said it would be fine.’

‘She did?’ Victor asked, not sure who Megan was or why she would be so generous. Mila shrugged her perfect shoulders, red hair bobbing.

‘I’m sure she will when I ask her,’ Mila said flippantly before she started waving a hand manically towards the room. ‘Now go, go! People are staring.’

People were indeed staring. Most notable of them being Phichit, who was still frozen where Victor had left him. Mila sauntered past Victor and Eros with the same swaying attitude she carried in the rink back in St Petersburg. She looped an arm around Phichit’s shoulders.

‘Come on! You still owe me a drink!’ she said happily, steering Phichit away though he didn't look at all happy about it. Victor would have to explain later.

For now, Victor took Eros’ hand and guided his unsteady body towards the bedroom down the hall, ignoring the whispers that followed them down.

Once inside, Eros sat himself down on the bed with a dramatic flop. The room was small, overly warm from the hissing radiator in the corner and the bed a mess of jumbled up coats and bags.

And dark. The only light was the orange glow from street lamps crawling through the cheap lace voile on the window. Victor could only just make Eros out, his glasses catching the dim light. He should probably look for the light switch, but there was something about having Eros all to himself in this dark, mostly quiet space. Something Victor wasn't sure he could name, but wasn't willing to let go of yet.

‘Vic-tor?’ Eros asked, Victor’s name upending with an extra syllable at the end as Victor heard Eros’ accent slur beneath the word. Victor swallowed, fondness warm inside him. ‘Are you still there?’

‘Yes, yes,’ Victor said hurriedly, moving from where he was standing from closing the bedroom door behind them and sitting down on the bed next to Eros. Eros looked at him, hands down by his sides. He looked young again. Victor sat, surprised as he realised that he still had no idea how old Eros was.

‘How did you get it?’’ Eros said, head tilting down and watching Victor from over his glasses. Victor didn't say anything for too long, neck growing warm when he realised he hadn't answered because he'd been busy trying to see the colour in Eros’ eyes.

‘Get what?’ Victor replied and Eros sighed loudly, almost impatiently. He held a hand up, showing Victor his watch.

‘Thish. My watch,’ Eros said, words slurring.

‘Oh,’ Victor said, wondering if it would be appreciated if he reached out and held onto Eros somehow, as he seemed to be teetering slightly. ‘You forgot it. In my room.’

Eros hummed, looking at the watch now with his eyebrows furrowed in thought.

‘I always do that.’

Victor smiled. ‘What? Forget your watch?’

‘No. Sort of? Just things,’ Eros replied, sounding confused. ‘I leave things after me all the time.’

‘Good thing you have me then,’ Victor teased lightly, smiling as Eros eyed him with a stern frown.

‘I don’t have you,’ Eros said solemnly, before he bizarrely erupted into a fit of giggles. Victor opened his mouth, but found himself not at all sure what to say. Eros looked over at Victor, smile so open that it took Victor’s breath away. No one had ever looked at him like that. ‘Wish I did though. You know, I used to dream about meeting you all the time. All the time.’

The last sentence was a long, low whisper and at any other time, it would likely have engaged a very particular train of thought, but all of Victor’s attention was drawn to what exactly Eros had just to said to him.

‘I…’ Victor stopped, swallowed his dry tongue and tried again. ‘I’m not sure I understand.’

‘I always thought you’d like me when you met me,’ Eros continued, like Victor had said nothing. He shrugged his shoulders, lips pouting. ‘Didn’t work out that way.’

Now Victor was completely confused.

Did Eros think Victor didn’t like him? Did Eros… know exactly who Victor was, this entire time? How much had Eros been keeping from him? Victor wasn’t sure which to ask first, wasn’t sure where to start. Just how drunk was Eros anyway? Victor glanced over towards the door, half-considering seeking Phichit out as a backup. He was Eros’ friend, right?

‘Do you like me?’ Eros asked, turning to face Victor again with his eyes catching the dim, orange light. Well, that solved which question Victor should sort out first.

‘Of course I do,’ Victor said, leaning forward and finally reaching out for Eros. But Eros shifted out of his way, watching Victor’s hand suspiciously.

‘No,’ he sighed sadly, looking Victor in the eye with a very stern but adorable frown on his face. ‘You don’t like me. You like Eros.’

‘You are Eros,’ Victor said, letting his hand fall to the space between them on the bed. The tips of his fingers just grazed against Eros’ thigh, jeans rough.

‘That’sh not- you’re so annoying in person, do you know that?’ Eros said, rubbing at his face under his glasses. He glared at Victor after and it was very hard to follow what exactly was happening, but all Victor knew for certain was Eros was interested in him. He had to be. The things he was saying suggested as such. Right? Unless Victor was misreading the situation.

Victor had been doing that a lot lately, he felt.

Victor licked his lips, thinking about what he wanted to say very carefully before he attempted a response; ‘You know who I am, don’t you?’

Eros didn’t answer, but his cheeks turned very red, very fast. He puffed out a breath, blowing at some imaginary hair in his face. ‘Maybe. Yes. You’re Victor.’

‘But you know more than that,’ Victor continued, feeling a little bolder. ‘You knew who I was the moment you saw me. That’s why you-’

Why you blushed. Why you looked so nervous. The reason I wanted to know you from that very first moment- because you already knew me...

Victor couldn’t say any of that. Instead, he said; ‘You knew I was Victor Nikiforov. Your friend, his skating- you follow competitive skating, too. Don’t you?’

Eros still said nothing, turning his face entirely from Victor now and staring out the bedroom window. Victor resisted the urge to reach over, to take Eros’ chin in his hand and pull him back so he could face Victor properly. But he didn’t, instead just inching his hand further across the bed, touching Eros’ thigh. He heard Eros’ small intake of breath.

Victor remembered the way Eros moved on the ice. At the time, Victor had thought him a natural But now… Now, maybe not. Maybe it was Phichit who had taught him, maybe Eros had been skating longer than that. But he knew Victor. His excitement at having Victor skate for him the other night- how could Victor have been so blind?

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ Victor asked, but Eros suddenly turned, facing Victor with his eyes burning as the music outside the bedroom shifted into some old, 80’s ballad.

‘Why should I?’ Eros snapped, eyes narrowing. ‘You’re the one who- you know, messed up all the boundaries!’

Victor was shocked, but Eros kept going, shaking a hand between himself and Victor for drunken emphasis.

‘You’re the one who got me all confushed!’ Eros said petulantly, now prodding Victor in the chest with an accusatory finger while nodding proudly. ‘Mila said you do that.’

‘Mila?!’ Victor cried. ‘Mila’s a teenager! She doesn’t know anything.’

‘I really, really liked you,’ Eros said quietly, hand turning less pointy and instead he pressed his palm flat against Victor’s chest. Victor could feel the heat of his skin over his shirt and his heart started to beat faster, like it could somehow tap it’s secrets out on Eros’ fingers. ‘I have your posters in my room and every-shing. Even that terrible one where you’re in that puffy shirt.’

‘You what?’ Victor asked, stunned. Eros sighed, taking his hand away and Victor madly chased after it with his own. He caught Eros’ fingers, tightening his grip when Eros tried to pull free.

‘My point-!’ Eros announced before Victor could say anything, like everything he had been saying so far made any kind of sense. (Which it most certainly hadn’t). ‘- is; I feel things.’

Eros tugged his hand free, putting both of his on his knees primly. He tried to sit up straight, but the bed was too soft and he wobbled a little. Victor left his hand where Eros had abandoned it, hovering nervously in case Eros were to fall. Or in case Victor needed something to hold on to. Because this was all a bit- well, it was more than Victor had bargained for.

But it was amazing.

Eros was a fan! That’s what he meant, right? It had to be! Victor grinned, unable to stop the excitement from bubbling over. This was something he could never have expected and there Eros went, surprising Victor yet again. Victor bounced a little in his seat, dying to ask Eros for more information. Did Eros skate? Would he skate for Victor again, properly this time? How long had he followed Victor’s career? How many posters did he have exactly?

Victor had never wanted to know anything as much as he wanted to know the man in front of him.

Slowly, through the dizzying haze of excitement, Eros’ words registered. Victor touched his chin, confused.

‘You feel things?’ he repeated, unsure what that meant. Eros breathed in sharply through his nose, throwing Victor a crooked glare.

‘Of course I do!’ he snapped. Then Eros squinted, looking Victor up and down very slowly. Victor tried not to move under the scrutiny, not following Eros’ motivation remotely. Just like he wasn’t entirely following this conversation either. Maybe Victor should’ve offered Eros a glass of water- ‘How did you even know I was here?’

Ah. This could be tricky.

Victor ran a hand through his hair, down the back of his neck where he rubbed, self-conscious.

‘It’s sort of… not good,’ Victor said sheepishly, feeling his stomach drop as Eros’ eyes widened.

‘Did you- did you follow me here?’ Eros asked, swaying a little too far back from Victor as he said it. Victor stretched out a hand, taking Eros’ arm and holding him steady lest he fall entirely off the bed. Eros’ dark eyes fell down to where Victor was holding him.

‘Eh.’ Victor bit his lip, guilty. ‘Not quite. Well, sort of.’

‘Oh my god,’ Eros said, looking up quickly and his face blooming further into shock as he wiggled his arm free from Victor’s grip. Victor panicked, reaching out wildly for Eros’ hand.

‘Not in a creepy way! I assure you!’

‘There's no not creepy way!’ Eros snapped back, pulling his hand entirely out of Victor’s reach and looking more sober by the second. He narrowed his eyes, brown accusing. ‘Are you insane?’

‘No!’ Victor said, before he sighed and ran a hand through his hair, pushing his fringe from his face. He thought of everything that had happened over the last few days, stomach clenching with nerves. Thought over what Eros had confessed to him. ‘Alright, maybe a little!’

Eros’ nose bunched up and really, it was just unfair for him to look so adorable when he was obviously upset. But Victor managed kept his hands to himself, awkwardly rubbing them up and down his own thighs as Eros wiggled uncomfortably next to him. This really was not going the way Victor had imagined at all. His throat felt swollen almost, something he didn’t want to call fear welling up inside of him. When Eros still said nothing, Victor tried again.

‘When I saw you on Instagram-’

‘What?’ Eros said sharply, interrupting Victor. He was staring with his brown eyes round and beautiful, so beautiful it almost distracted Victor entirely from his tone. ‘What Instagram?’

‘Your friend’s,’ Victor answered and Eros suddenly muttered something angrily that must've been in Japanese, as Victor didn't get a single word of it.

Victor reached out again, slowly so Eros could see him coming and stop him if he wanted to. Instead, Eros just watched Victor from the corner of his eye, obviously skeptical, as Victor gently brushed his fingers along the back of Eros’ hand.

‘I needed to see you,’ Victor said softly, running his hands down Eros’ hand and lacing their fingers together. Listened as Eros’ breathing shuddered, watched as his drunken blush deepened. ‘Not just for the watch. But because I wanted to apologise.’

‘Apologise,’ Eros repeated, barely above a whisper. Victor nodded, lifting Eros’ hand to his lips. He kissed Eros’ wrist as he tilted the hand gently.

‘Yes,’ Victor said, lips brushing against Eros’ pulse point. ‘I wanted to say I’m sorry for upsetting you today. Please know, it was not my intention.’

Eros blinked at him, round cheeks twitching as he bit his lip. He watched as Eros swallowed slowly, tried to control his own breathing as Eros began to hold his hand back. The pressure was like when you stepped out onto the ice- a small, gliding step forward into something potentially dangerous. Victor wanted to step right into what Eros was offering.

‘And,’ Victor said, using his other hand to rub up and down Eros’ arm. ‘Just to see you. I needed to, just once more before I left.’

‘How do you do that?’ Eros asked, eyes fixed on where Victor was still holding Eros’ hand to his mouth. ‘Say such things. You- you shouldn’t be allowed to say such things.’

Victor smiled, knowing he was taking a small advantage but he was unable to resist the temptation as he moved Eros’ hand down, moving forward to press his lips lightly against Eros’ pink ones. Victor knew this probably wasn’t allowed. He hadn’t paid for it, Eros hadn’t offered it- but Victor couldn’t let this go on worried he’d never get the chance to kiss Eros again.

Suddenly, Eros was kissing him back, hands undoing themselves and instead gripping Victor by the neck. Eros fell down onto the bed, dragging Victor with him all the way down as Eros forced his tongue into Victor’s mouth. Victor groaned at the intrusion, hands finding their way to Eros’ waist and pulling Eros across the mess of coats so they were pressed up against each other.


Eros kissed Victor desperately, a needy noise in the back of his throat. Victor let him, let Eros suck on his tongue and tug at his lips. Every wet slide of Eros’ lips against Victor had a heat coiling deep inside of Victor, tighter and tighter until he was whimpering into Eros’ mouth.

‘Vicchan,’ Eros moaned and Victor really hoped that was his name, otherwise he might lose his mind entirely. Eros kissed Victor hard again, lips a firm press and he tightened his grip on Victor’s neck. His body grinded up towards Victor, muscle strength and heat. Victor tugged at Eros’ waist, wanting him even closer. Eros moved up to Victor’s ear, his voice all hot, damp breath; ‘Take me home.’

Victor stopped kissing Eros, pulled back a little to try and read his expression. That was definitely crossing a boundary. A pretty big boundary.

‘Are you- mmph!’

Eros kissed him again, deep and filthy and Victor knew he was lost.

 


 

An alarm starting going off and Yuuri didn’t want to die this time like he usually did in the morning. Because this time, he was already fucking dead.

Yuuri whined in pain as he became more aware of his body, particularly the sharp knot of nausea in his stomach and disgustingly dry mouth. God, what had he drank last night? Thinking back, Yuuri realised, (with the same heavy regret he always did when this happened), that he couldn’t remember most of the evening. Yuuri groaned again, turning his head into his pillow and cursing in Japanese about Phichit. He promised.

It was still dark outside, but Yuuri for some stupid reason had left his bedside lamp on and now he was suffering for it.

That’s it, Yuuri thought miserably as he scrambled to pull the blanket further up the bed around himself instead of making the effort to try and turn the lamp off. I’m never going with one of Phichit’s ideas again. Phichit’s ideas are the worst.

However, Yuuri’s attempt at further secluding himself in his own blanket was interrupted by the feeling of resistance as the fabric caught in something behind him. Or rather, someone…

At that moment, whoever was behind him turned off the alarm, shifting the bed as they did so.

Yuuri sat up instantly, heart pounding and desperately clinging to the blanket on the way up. His already thundering heart exploded in his chest, stomach clenching so tightly it was painful as he found the terribly familiar silver head of Victor Nikiforov on the pillow next to him. Even without his glasses, Yuuri would recognise that mess of metallic anywhere.

Oh… god!

Stammering and frozen, Yuuri felt his body begin to break out in a cold sweat. Panic erupted inside him like a beast woken from a slumber, teeth and claws under Yuuri’s skin that suddenly felt too small for him. The pressure pounded inside him like a second heart and Yuuri could hear himself starting to pant with the anxiety.

Why was Victor here? Yuuri didn’t remember, couldn’t remember. Yuuri closed his eyes, forced himself to try and keep calm, but his heart was racing. Breath shaking, Yuuri put a hand to his other arm, clenching his fingers tight against the skin to try and ground himself. Just like he used to when he was back in college.

Gasping when the pain got too much, Yuuri released himself and opened his eyes to look down at Victor, who was beginning to rouse properly now, one arm outstretched to his large, shiny phone by the other pillow as he rolled over from lying on his stomach.

Oh no, no, no, Yuuri thought manically as Victor stretched out on his back, blanket coming down to reveal that he was shirtless. Yuuri gasped, throwing the blanket up to look at himself and immediately clamping it back down when he realised he was entirely and shamelessly naked.

Oh, no, no, no.

‘Mm, morning,’ Victor said and god, it was not fair for his voice to sound like that. His accent giving the r edges that travelled down Yuuri’s spine like teeth. Yuuri bit his lip, suddenly painfully aware of his morning erection that was very quickly coming to attention. He wrapped his half of the blanket even more tightly around himself.

When Yuuri said nothing, Victor opened his eyes and looked at Yuuri up from his pillow. Yuuri squeaked, unsure what to do. Victor looked at him for a moment, before his sharp blue eyes narrowed in concern. Yuuri made another high-pitched noise that only seemed to trigger an embarrassing blush. He could feel the heat of it go all the way down his neck. He clung onto the blanket like a shield.

‘Everything alright?’ Victor asked, sounding so sweet and Yuuri felt his heart break with it. How could Victor just be like that? So awfully real, knowing full well that Yuuri couldn’t have him. Definitely not now anyway.

Yuuri had done more than break a rule. He’d pretty much burnt the entire handbook and apparently slept with Victor Nikiforov in it’s mortal remains. There was no way he could ever see Victor again after this. He’d have to block his number, speak to Chris- oh, how was Yuuri ever supposed to watch Victor’s skate again without feeling this crushing sense of shame and disappointment?

Yuuri had been so stupid.

‘Oi, oi,’ Victor cooed softly, sitting up and reaching out to take Yuuri’s chin. Yuuri couldn’t control the whimper that escaped him as he did it, loving and already grieving the way Victor ran his thumb just beneath Yuuri’s bottom lip. ‘You don’t look well, though I suppose that’s to be expected-’

‘Did we-?’ Yuuri interrupted, voice hoarse and stuttering. Victor paused, waiting for Yuuri to continue. Yuuri tried to calm himself down, tried to will the warm blush he knew he was sporting away. ‘Did we do anything?’

Yuuri already knew the answer. Of course they did. Yuuri was lying, naked, in his own bed with Victor Nikiforov who was apparently naked as well. And they had a history. And oh god, this was Yuuri’s flat! There was no way Victor wouldn’t have realised that Yuuri really lived here. Yuuri threw a scattered glance over the room. The bare dresser against the back wall by the full length mirror, the imposing black doors of the incorporated wardrobe. The sheer death-trap collection of boxes that surrounded the bed like a fort.

Yuuri tried to concentrate on it. Tried to count the boxes, tried to remember the order his clothes were hanging in within the wardrobe. Anything to try and distract himself from the awful reality of his stupid mistake.

Victor chuckled and the sound was so unexpected, Yuuri jumped. Victor made a soft oh noise as Yuuri did so, rubbing soothing circles with his thumb on Yuuri’s chin. He smiled, right corner of his gorgeous lips crooking up like the end of a fish hook. And Yuuri was caught.

‘No,’ Victor said and the relief Yuuri felt threatened to drown him. ‘Though not for your lack of trying, I assure you.’

Memories, broken and blurred slowly resurfaced. The party. Victor was there- why had Victor been there? Yuuri shook his head, now aware of how heavy it felt and how it was throbbing, just above his left eye. It hurt. But then Yuuri remembered vaguely kissing Victor on a bed, of pushing him through a door and demanding he take his shirt off.

‘Kuso-,’ Yuuri cursed, dropping his head into his hands. Victor laughed again. ‘I’m so sorry.’

Victor laughed again. Light, breathy and beautiful.

‘Don’t be. You’re an adorable drunk, miliy,’ Victor said and Yuuri groaned, possibly cursing again.

Yuuri swallowed and tried to look up at Victor. Tried to apologise again, for dragging Victor home with him. For being so forward and ruining any semblance of fantasy Yuuri had created professionally. Yuuri wanted to apologise for everything. Wanted to ask how they had even ended up back together… But then, his jaw felt tight. Tingling, heated tight and his mouth suddenly salivated.

Oh god, Yuuri thought before he swept the blanket up and off the bed, then around himself and he bolted straight for the en-suite. Yuuri barely registered that Victor, true to his word, was wearing briefs under the blanket before Yuuri made the short distance, falling to his knees and vomiting into the toilet in the dark.

When Yuuri finally felt strong enough to stand and make his way back to the bed after brushing his teeth, he discovered Victor was missing from the room. Though what appeared to be his shirt and coat were still on the floor.

He should’ve been relieved. Maybe it was all a very, very bad dream? Maybe they were his clothes. Not that sleeping with Victor Nikiforov was bad, as Yuuri knew quite intimately that it wasn’t. But sleeping with Victor Nikiforov, catastrophically drunk after already accepting money off him for sex, just because that after a measly three days Yuuri was going to miss him. Like he had any right to. It was a whole new level of messed up. Even for Yuuri.

(And according to Phichit, that was a low bar).

Yuuri threw himself back down onto his bed, wincing immediately as his body bounced and stomach clenched. Wine. There had to have been wine, or something like it at that party. Wine always made Yuuri so sick. Curling the blanket around himself like swaddling, Yuuri was almost back to sleep when Victor appeared again, sitting his slender body down onto the bed. He was dressed in his trousers now, but his hair was ruffled and Yuuri wanted to brush it out with his fingertips.

He tightened his grip on the blanket instead.

‘Here,’ Victor said, encouraging Yuuri to sit up. ‘I hope you don’t mind, but I got you a glass of water.’

Yuuri didn’t mind. Not at all. Victor could search through any of the boxes in the kitchen. He could’ve broken the glasses he found in them and Yuuri would probably have forgiven him. Yuuri glanced down to the end of the bed where a particular box lurked- one that contained carefully rolled and capped posters. He could feel himself blush again, though hopefully he could pass it off as part of the hangover.

‘So,’ Yuuri started after he took a tentative sip of the water. He looked at Victor’s face, cast into strong shadows by the bedside lamp. He looked sharp in places. A jagged, but beautiful jigsaw piece that did not find into Yuuri’s soft, dark world. Yuuri wished he had his glasses, wished he could see exactly what Victor’s face looked like. ‘If we didn’t- ah, I just mean, why are you here?’

‘You asked me to take you home. Then you asked me to sleep with you-’ Yuuri groaned, embarrassed. ‘-We reached a compromise,’ Victor replied, smiling fondly and Yuuri’s heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t fair for Victor to look at him like that, not when Yuuri knew he’d have to say goodbye once Victor left for his-

‘Your flight!’ Yuuri cried, leaning across the bed to try and get his phone from the bedside table. 4:27AM. When Yuuri turned back to Victor, Victor was staring at Yuuri’s chest, no, lower. His azure eyes were fixed on Yuuri’s waist where the blanket had dropped low. Yuuri’s cock twitched as Victor licked his lips, but Yuuri just crossed his legs beneath the blanket.

‘Yes, I know,’ Victor said at last, slowly dragging his eyes away from Yuuri’s skin. Victor lickef his lips again. ‘I’ll have to leave at about five.’

Yuuri’s heart twisted, any semblance of arousal vanishing as Victor reminded him just how close his leaving was. Yuuri wasn't sure how to say it, wasn't sure how to ask for he wanted. If he was even allowed ask.

‘I…’

‘Do you really not remember last night?’ Victor asked, interrupting Yuuri. Yuuri looked at Victor’s silver hair, his high cheek bones. He remembered what it felt like to have Victor kiss him. Slowly, horrified to see that tears were starting to build up in the corners of his eyes, Yuuri shook his head, breaking Victor’s gaze.

Victor sighed. He sounded defeated.  But then his hand was on Yuuri’s, large palm white and warm over Yuuri’s fingers. Yuuri looked at him, saw how Victor was staring down at where they were touching.

‘I know that for all intents and purposes, you still don't know me,’ Victor said, very slowly. His English was stilted, awkward and accented in his mouth but Yuuri loved it. Victor looked up to Yuuri’s face, eyes searching. For what, Yuuri couldn't even begin to fathom. ‘Not truly. But I was hoping, if it would be alright, and I understand if it isn't, but… I’d like to stay here. With you. Just a little bit longer.’

No. You're a client. You hired me for sex and despite knowing your exact height and shoe size after years of admiration, I still don't actually know that much about as person. It's grossly inappropriate for you to ask, the power imbalance too big for me to possibly say no, even if I wanted to...

Except Yuuri did want to. He did know things. He knew now that when Victor was surprised, he'd touch his lips with one finger. He knew that Victor liked to hold Yuuri’s arms above his head and bite a signature into Yuuri’s skin. He knew that when Victor concentrated on the ice, really concentrated, he would poke his tongue out of the corner of his mouth.

Yuuri knew all these things now. And it still wasn't enough.

After everything that happened, would it really be so bad as to deny this? What damage would there be, really?

‘Stay,’ Yuuri whispered and Victor took a sharp breath. Yuuri turned his hand over, holding Victor’s hand in earnest now. ‘Please, stay.’

With me.

Victor pushed forward, lying down on the bed and next to Yuuri. He helped Yuuri turn in his mess of blankets, With Victor’s big, comforting weight on his back, Yuuri almost felt better. His stomach was soothed by Victor’s light rubbing over the blanket, heavy head tickled by the ear by Victor’s hot breath as Victor put a hand under Yuuri’s pillow, fully encasing him in Victor’s embrace.

Yuuri wasn’t entirely sure when Victor started talking, but once he did Yuuri found himself unable to resist the deep rumbling of his voice. Half-asleep, maybe even still drunk depending on how long ago they actually got home, Yuuri let himself listen to the things Victor was telling him. Victor was talking about St. Petersburg. About the cold wind there and the bakery five minutes from his apartment. Yuuri pictured Victor’s apartment in his mind- white, modern and empty. Like it had been when a magazine had done a spread on it, the article probably buried in one of the boxes that hid the realities of Yuuri’s life.

‘There’s gulls back in my home, too,’ Yuuri said sleepily in response to Victor talking about the seagulls back in St. Petersburg. Victor made a small humming noise, pressing a kiss to Yuuri’s bare shoulder.

‘Where’s home?’ Victor asked quietly, lips against Yuuri’s skin. ‘It’s not Tokyo, like you said. Is it?’

Yuuri thought back, trying to remember if that was where he’d told Victor he was from or if Victor was just picking the only Japanese place he knew. He found he couldn’t remember, but something in his chest pulled taut. Like metal bending, towards a magnetic pull. He gave into it, letting himself relax in Victor’s arms as he realised how tense he’d suddenly become. Victor’s bare arms were wrapped around him, all warm skin and fine hairs. Yuuri loved Victor’s arms.

‘Kyushu,’ Yuuri admitted softly, Victor’s rubbing of his stomach stilling and his lips lifting from Yuuri’s shoulder as he tried to look at Yuuri. Though Yuuri had his back to him, Yuuri could just make out Victor’s shadow across the wall from where the lamp cast it. Unreal, shifting shapes. ‘It’s in the south. My town is by the ocean.’

‘That was true,’ Victor breathed, wonderment evident in his voice and Yuuri blushed from hearing it. ‘And Phichit. You live with him.’

There really was no denying that now, so Yuuri nodded, guilt churning inside of his already torn up stomach when he thought of how he was going to explain this to Phichit.

‘Is that how you know about skating?’ Victor asked and there was something off about his voice. He sounded too- coy, maybe. Or maybe even a little sarcastic. Yuuri wasn’t entirely sure, shifting in Victor’s arms and turning his face more into the pillow so Victor couldn’t see how red he was.

‘Yes,’ Yuuri lied, feeling Victor’s chest move behind him. Victor made another hmm noise, kissing Yuuri’s shoulder again. Slowly, Victor made his way up Yuuri’s neck, light and pressing kisses that were trailing goosebumps like brail along Yuuri’s skin.

Before either of them could say anymore, Victor’s phone rang from the bedside table. Victor disengaged himself with a huff, answering the phone with rapid Russian. Yuuri  looked over his shoulder, intrigued at hearing the language so fast and easy in Victor’s mouth. It sounded right, in a way English didn’t quite despite Yuuri admiring Victor’s accent so. Yuuri wondered if Japanese sounded that good. Victor sighed, muttering something to whomever was on the phone, pinching the bridge of his nose as he did so. Then, rather suddenly, Victor said something and hung up abruptly.

Yuuri opened his mouth to say something, but he didn’t get the chance as Victor went right back to where he was, a little roughly and Yuuri bit back a whine as his stomach twisted painfully. Victor kissed his neck in sympathy, one hand slipping beneath Yuuri’s neck to pillow his head and the other coming down around Yuuri’s hips.

'I have you now, I'm afraid, miliy ,’ Victor said, the smile so obvious in his voice that Yuuri’s heart fluttered.

'You call me that a lot,' Yuuri said, smiling as Victor buried his face into the crook of Yuuri's neck. He pressed a kiss to Yuuri there, lips so warm and Yuuri melted back into him. Victor's arm around his hips tightened, careful not to press on his stomach.

'What? Miliy?' Victor said distractedly, making his way up Yuuri's neck to just behind his ear. Yuuri hummed in response, hand moving from the pillow to lace with Victor's fingers across his hips.

'Mmm, why so fond of that one? You always go back to it.' What Yuuri really wanted to know was what it meant, but he just couldn't find himself to ask out loud. His heart desperately wanted it to be something sweet. Something tender and soft, something Victor might use if they were actually lovers. The kind that just met, without anything inbetween.

Yuuri was sure that if it meant anything else, he'd break from it.

Victor kissed Yuuri behind his ear, mouth opening and teeth coming down on Yuuri's earlobe, feather-light. Yuuri made a soft noise of approval, so distracted he almost missed what Victor was saying when he started talking.

'I like the sound,' Victor said into Yuuri's ear, quiet like it was a secret. He moved his head back down to Yuuri's shoulder, hair tickling Yuuri all the way down. Yuuri could see the silver strands of it slip down over his skin out of the corner of his eye, blurry without glasses. Struck something possessive in him, something he didn't even know he had. Yuuri turned his face into the pillow, eyes closed and trying to hide the big grin he was getting.

Victor continued, voice a little teasing; 'I like words ending with an 'ii ' noise. Jacuzzi, pirozhki, hibachi...'

'Yuuri,' Yuuri suggested, still smiling.

Victor made a very soft noise from behind him, his chin lifting up from Yuuri's shoulder. Yuuri froze, realising too late what he'd done.

Victor pulled Yuuri onto his back, settling over him as the blanket came away slightly, half-naked body warm against Yuuri's. Yuuri looked away, his eyes fixed at some point on the wall. But Victor's hand came up, taking Yuuri's chin like he had done a hundred times before. He didn't push, but Yuuri followed the line of his fingers back, looking straight up into Victor's eyes. Blue and bright, like something precious. They were so close that Victor's fringe was tickling Yuuri's forehead, but he didn't dare move. A shaky breath slipped past his lips, betraying the panic that was beginning to mound inside him.

'Are you Yuuri?' Victor whispered, breath fanning across Yuuri's lips but his eyes never left Yuuri's. His accent rolled the r in a way Yuuri had never heard before. Like it creased Yuuri’s name down the middle, like the fold of an envelope. Up this close, Yuuri didn't need his glasses. He thought he could see a hint of green in the blue that looked back at him.

Very, very slowly and never losing eye contact, Yuuri nodded.

Victor didn't smile, but something shifted across his face. Next, he was leaning forward, closing the bare inch between them. He kissed Yuuri slow and so, so deep Yuuri lost his breath with it. Yuuri lost track of the seconds, almost forgetting what had triggered the whole thing. Then Victor was pulling back, pressing one last chaste kiss against Yuuri's lips.

'I'm enchanted to meet you, Yuuri,' Victor said softly and Yuuri was frightened he had just fallen in love. Just the smallest bit.

It was like having your heart set on fire, burning up until it was nothing but ashes and Yuuri felt like his very soul might float away.

When Victor was dressed and leaving, Yuuri stole another kiss. He let Victor hold his head, hold his hand. He kissed Yuuri with romance and care, Yuuri’s heart melting like candle wax to the heat of it.

Then Victor was gone, with a small piece of paper gripped in his hand. On the paper, in hastily scribbled English, was Yuuri's personal phone number.



One Week Later...



Phichit watched as Yuuri spun in lazy figure-of-eights across the ice’s surface. His eyes were downcast, watching the slow glide of his own skates as he moved fluidly across the ice, ballet-grace easy and back straight.

‘So,’ Phichit said, skating around Yuuri’s space in a wide lap. ‘Victor’s coming back.’

‘Yes,’ Yuuri replied calmly, betraying nothing. Phichit hummed absently, knowing that if he attempted this conversation off the ice Yuuri might be less confident. But Phichit didn't want that. He needed the cool-head Yuuri got that only skating seemed to give him. He wanted Yuuri to be able to hear what he was saying. Maybe take it in and really think about it, not stammer his way into a panic.

‘And you don't think that's weird? Two weeks before his next assignment,’ Phichit started, stretching an arm across in chest in a half-attempted warm up. They still had about half an hour before Celestino returned from his lunch, but Phichit felt compelled to do something in the face of Yuuri skating so well.

Yuuri flipped direction on his blade beautifully, the action catching Phichit’s attention. Phichit frowned at Yuuri’s skates. Really, it was such a waste.

‘He's Victor Nikiforov, I’m sure he can get away with anything,’ Yuuri said, jersey shoulders shrugging as he did a quick twirl, arms suddenly outstretched in an arched formation. Perfect silhouette.

‘So it doesn't bother you?’

‘What doesn't bother me?’

The skates clipped along the ice’s surface, the noise of it loud as it was only Phichit and Yuuri in the rink. Celestino had managed to book it for themselves until four- a true blessing at this time of year for Phichit to get the empty rink to practice, especially before Skate Canada at the weekend. Well, almost empty. Like most things, Phichit shared it with Yuuri.

‘That he's flying across the world, just to see you,’ Phichit said, his own disbelief entering his voice unbidden. Yuuri threw a stern look over his shoulder as his legs swooped beneath him in a soft spread, eyes bright under the fluorescents.

‘That's not what he's doing.’

‘Pfft,’ Phichit scoffed, halting his own skates with a careful turn. ‘Of course it is! What else is here for him? Detroit isn't exactly the most popular holiday destination.’

Yuuri sighed, coming to an elegant stop. His hips were canted, the shape of them lovely even in his black sweats. Phichit tried to stomp down the jealousy he always got when faced with Yuuri. Phichit was so narrow in places, places where Yuuri was curved. Yuuri could always pull such beautiful shapes.

In direct antithesis to his inviting silhouette, Yuuri brought his arms in close around his chest. Small, awkward bones. Phichit frowned at him preemptively.

‘To be honest,’ Yuuri said, eyes searching somewhere off to the side of the rink. He tapped his fingers nervously. ‘I'm not entirely sure why he's coming back. I- you know, when I drink…’

Yuuri trailed off, biting his lip.

‘I don't remember as much as I should. Maybe he told me, but I don't remember.’

‘You were pretty drunk,’ Phichit agreed, feeling small tendrils of nervousness curl around the words. ‘Are you sure you were okay to, I don't know, do whatever you did?’

Yuuri met Phichit’s eyes looking utterly scandalised.

‘We didn't do anything!’ he squeaked, shoulders jumping. Amusement pooled with Phichit’s nerves, pulling a tense smile out of him. He still remembered that evening. He’d gotten in the taxi with both Victor and Yuuri, had to put up with Yuuri’s fawning which was totally mortifying even to watch. How Victor wasn’t off signing a restraining order was beyond Phichit.

Still, it had been better than dealing with Yuuri's panic attack after Victor had left the next morning. Now that had been fun.

‘I didn't mean that ,’ Phichit teased and Yuuri’s cheeks erupted red. He laughed, but even to himself it sounded shaky. ‘I just mean-’ Phichit paused, wondering how to phrase it. ‘- I guess I’m just hoping you know what you're doing.’

Yuuri met Phichit’s eye, squinting brown. Phichit patted his gloved hands together self-consciously, but he held firm. This was important.

‘I'm worried about you,’ Phichit said carefully, nervously swallowing as Yuuri narrowed his eyes. ‘I mean, is this really a sensible thing to do given your feelings for Victor?’

‘I don't have feelings for Victor!’ Yuuri snapped petulantly and Phichit rolled his eyes immediately.

‘Of course you do! You have, what? Twenty posters of him in your bedroom?’ Phichit said, exasperated at Yuuri’s stubbornness. ‘Are you really going to stand there and tell me, me!, that sleeping with Victor is doing nothing to you here?’

Phichit pointed a finger at his chest, over his heart for emphasis. 

‘It's not- we’re not…’ Yuuri stammered, shrugging his head down. ‘He’s a client , Phichit. Just like any other.’ Yuuri stiffened slightly on the ice, forcing himself to stand straighter and look Phichit in the eye. ‘I know what I’m doing.’

‘A client you brought home. To our apartment,’ Phichit said, watching Yuuri turn red all the way up his ears as he pushed off into an elegant glide.

‘It was a one-off,’ Yuuri replied, obviously trying for aloof and failing miserably. Phichit skated in front of him, halting Yuuri abruptly.

‘A one-off,’ he repeated, giving Yuuri his best glare. ‘You brought him to our home twice.’

‘I was drunk the second time,’ Yuuri said, holding his hands up like that in any way made it better. Phichit sighed, running a hand through his hair.

‘God, just...’ Phichit sighed, exasperated.

He couldn’t make Yuuri admit to anything, much as he wanted to. Yuuri could wax poetic about the boundaries and rules of his profession all he liked, but he couldn’t fool Phichit. Phichit knew exactly what was happening and he was worried. If it really was as black and white as Yuuri claimed it to be, (which Phichit sincerely doubted), then he wanted to be sure that Yuuri was certain of his own feelings, too. Phichit really  wasn’t sure he was comfortable with this.

If Yuuri liked Victor so much, surely he didn’t need to accept the payment for it?

When Yuuri had first told Phichit that Victor was going to be back in the States, only a mere week after he left them for Russia, Phichit had laughed because he genuinely thought Yuuri was joking. But Yuuri hadn’t been joking. And he also refused to listen to any reason. Because why, why would Victor Nikiforov come to Detroit if not for Yuuri?

But Yuuri’s walls were thick. Years of self-deprecation hardening into a tough callus that even Phichit struggled to penetrate. Yuuri liked to think he was being careful, but Phichit knew better. He could see the way Yuuri’s face lit up when his phone would chime with a particular message tone. And not his work phone either. He watched the way Yuuri tapped a pen against his Filofax, impatient as he read the calendar.

Yuuri was not being careful with what was important. And it wasn’t money.

Over the week, Yuuri and Phichit had talked. Phichit knew a lot more now. He knew names for people he’d probably never meet, knew systems he thought he’d never have to learn. But watching Yuuri interact with escorting, every day and in person like it was so natural, was grating on something Phichit couldn’t quite name.

And Victor Nikiforov perfectly summed up that predicament. It was obvious to anyone that Victor was quite smitten with Yuuri. It had been all anyone at the party could talk about, asking Phichit about his friend and how they knew Victor. Phichit had tried to cover best he could, but even he didn’t have a suitable answer.

Yuuri liked Victor, too. Surprising no one. Phichit just couldn’t understand why they didn’t just drop the entire paying-for-sex thing. Phichit couldn’t understand what kind of person Victor was to keep doing it. It made him nervous.

‘You’re staring,’ Yuuri sad, pouting as he pushed into a soft slide out of Phichit’s path. Phichit made a groan of frustration.

‘I’m just worried about you,’ Phichit repeated, turning in his skates to watch Yuuri turn in a sharp circle on his heel. Yuuri laughed lightly, the sound of it echoing slightly in the empty rink.

‘You don’t have to,’ Yuuri said, giving Phichit a warm smile but Phichit struggled to return it. ‘What you should be doing is worrying about Skate Canada this weekend.’

Phichit grumbled, knowing Yuuri was right. Yuuri was an adult and he could make his own decisions. If Phichit thought those decisions were incredibly stupid- well, there wasn’t much he could do about it.

Admitting defeat, Phichit pushed off and gathered momentum, trying to focus on warming up before Celestino got back.

 


 

19:34PM I’m looking forward to our appointment this weekend. <3

20:47PM My apologies for getting back so late. I'm looking forward to seeing you, too.

20:48PM More than looking forward to it. Are you still sure you want the full weekend?

20:54PM Am I still sure I want you all to myself? Yes.

20:56PM I'm already thinking about it. Can't stop. I'm lying on my bed right now, remembering what it's like to touch you.

21:06PM We can't do this.

21:07PM I'm sorry! I didn't mean to take advantage. I know we’re not on an appointment.

21:12PM No, I just mean we can't do this right now. I can't text much.

21:13PM You’re working?

21:19PM Yes.

21:20PM Are they better than me?

22:03PM No one is better than you.

 


 

‘You're so forgetful. It's a miracle you can even tie up your skates,’ Yuri spat down the phone as Victor walked into the Westin Cadillac, nodding politely to the doorman as he walked in.

‘How fortunate for you that I remember at least that,’ Victor said, eager to check in and get on with his brief weekend excursion in Detroit. ‘Otherwise, who would you have to choreograph for you?’

‘I barely have you, asshole!’ Yuri snapped, English foul. Victor frowned at it, even though Yuri couldn't see him like maybe somehow Yuri could feel how disappointed Victor was from across the world. (Ha, not likely). ‘Only you would be so careless as to run off for a holiday before the Rosetelcom Cup.’

‘I have weekends off anyway, why not take advantage of my frequent flier miles?’

‘Isn't Detroit the murder capital of America or something? Why would you even want to go there?’

‘You don't have to sound quite so hopeful about my being murdered, Yuri,’ Victor teased, lowering the phone for a moment to speak with the receptionist. 'Nikiforov. I have a room reserved for the night.'

'Victor Nikiforov?' the receptionist, (Sarah, her shiny badge read), asked before typing elegantly into her computer. She smiled brightly, turning to face Victor again. 'Yes, sir. Your fiancé has actually already checked you in. He asked me to tell you to meet him upstairs.'

Victor nearly dropped the phone entirely. His what?

Yuuri. Victor felt like his heart had been breathing all by itself and now it wasn't. Winded, right through the core of his body by the very thought of Yuuri coming into the hotel and calling himself Victor's fiancé. His fiancé of all things. Victor swallowed thickly, excitement brimming up inside of him like a pot bubbling over. The more he thought about it, as Sarah started to code the key card, the more Yuuri’s lie made sense. How else was he going to get inside without Victor? But still. The thought of being engaged to Yuuri- of having such a claim,  such legitimacy to their relationship. It stuck in Victor’s head like dull blades on the ice.

It triggered Victor to think about other things, too. Considerably less romantic things.

Looking even more forward to getting upstairs now, Victor hastily took the key card from Sarah and made a bee-line for the lift, only remembering he was still supposed to be on the phone with Yuri once he heard the tinny Russian profanities.

'Ah-ah! That's terrible Russian, Yura!' Victor scolded once he brought the phone back up, awkwardly trying to summon the lift at the same time as he did so.

‘Whatever,’ Yuri said, sounding entirely unconcerned about his swearing and very grumpy. ‘If you want to sabotage yourself in that hell-hole, that's fine with me.’

‘Do I intimidate you that much?’ Victor said, knowing saying such a thing would only serve to wind Yuri up further. 'Hoping I'll be mugged in the street so you have a chance at the podium in the final?'

Yuri snarled, snarled!, and the sound of it spurred Victor into laughter as he stepped into the lift.

'At the rate you're burning through cash no one will want to mug you,' Yuri grumbled down the other end of phone.

Victor shook his head, smiling away to himself as the floor counter went up. Truth was, Victor quite genuinely couldn't think of anything he would rather spend his money on thenas a means to spend time with Yuuri. For years, Victor had let himself be defined by skating and skating alone. The prizes and wealth being a five-time world champion brought sat mostly ignored in his bank account, (save the odd gift for Makkachin, of course). Victor wasn't stupid- he knew he was being reckless, spending so much. But it was very, very hard to care when he thought of what that money was bringing him.

He thought of Yuuri, waiting upstairs for him. Would he be sitting on the bed, hair slicked back and shirt teasingly open? Or would he still be in the shower? Glasses left on the bathroom counter, gathering steam. Victor honestly couldn’t decide which idea sounded best. The one where he got to peel Yuuri out of all his troublesome clothes, revealing skin bit by bit. Or the other where…

‘You’re definitely not listening to me,’ Yuri griped loudly, shaking Victor out of his thoughts. Unfortunately, Yuri’s whining was not distracting enough and Victor adjusted his coat accordingly, tying the buttons to cover himself. ‘Have you spent so much you can longer afford English?’

‘Honestly, where did you ever learn such manners?’ Victor huffed, heat flooding his cheeks as shame washed over him. For God’s sake, he was an adult. ‘I really need to let you go now, I have-’

Net, bliad’!’ Yuri snapped and Victor squawked without any semblance of grace at the language, but Yuri didn’t give him the chance to protest. ‘You said you’d help me reorganise my quads!’

‘Did I?’ Victor watched as the doors of the lift opened before him, nodding to the man he passed on his way out. Yuri muttered irritably in Russian as Victor made his way down towards his hotel room. How many people would he be putting in harm’s way if he triggered an infamous Plisetsky tantrum by hanging up right now? Was it more than he was capable of not feeling guilty over?

‘Yuri, I’m very sorry but I’m just about-’

‘You’re the worst. You’re the worst choreographer and the worst person,’ Yuri interrupted, all teenage venom. Victor struggled to get the key card out of his pocket with one hand, gear-bag slipping on his shoulder.

‘Can we please talk later?’ Victor said, exasperation evident in his voice and he winced, knowing what was coming. Never show any sign of weakness to Yuri Plisetsky.

'No! It's bad enough you're not here, never mind trying to weasel your way out of talking to me!'

The hotel room door opened just as Victor fished his key out. Yuuri stood inside, wrapped in a white bathrobe and smelling of soap, smiling beneath his adorable blue glasses. Victor could see that his hair was pushed back but still damp, cheeks flushed. He must've just showered. Victor tried not to feel disappointed while Yuri ranted in his ear about Yakov alledgedly ignoring him.

Giving Victor a once over, Yuuri guided Victor into the room silently. He pulled Victor's gear-bag from his shoulder, then helped Victor out of his coat as he grunted aimlessly down the phone in agreement with whatever Yuri Plisetsky was complaining about now. 

Yuri and Yuuri. That was going to get confusing. 

The room was large and expensive this time. Victor's choice. It had a small lounge and a separate bedroom. One Victor looked hopefully towards as Yuuri stepped around to face Victor's again after putting his gear-bag on the luggage table by the door. 

Once divide of his coat, Yuuri ran his hands over Victor’s shoulders, eyes following the movement, before he slipped one down Victor’s arm. Linking their hands together, Yuuri guided Victor towards the couch, where Victor sat. Staring up at Yuuri, Victor’s grip on the phone tightened while the other twisted itself into a fist against the grain of the fabric. Yuuri stepped back, just a fraction, hands teasingly coming up to the belt of his robe.

Victor suddenly didn’t feel any regret in missing Yuuri shower if it meant he got to see this- Yuuri oh so slowly stripping off the fluffy, hotel robe to reveal his still damp skin. Warmth spread underneath Victor’s skin like liquid, like Victor could feel the very tingling edges of arousal flood down through him. Yuuri’s body was everything Victor remembered and more. It was daylight, for the first time for them being together. Victor could see stretch marks on Yuuri’s stomach, dimples on his waist. Victor wanted kiss every one, bite bruises there so he might lay claim to those tiny bits of Yuuri that no one may ever have seen.

Yuuri smiled, just a little. Just the smallest bit and he tilted his head back, glasses catching the light in one winking second. If this moment was to be called anything, this moment of having Yuuri stand before him, Victor would’ve called it happiness.

Victor made a small, aborted noise that could’ve been a moan if he hadn’t caught it as Yuuri let the robe fall away to the floor completely, exposing his narrow hips and curved stomach. Yuuri’s cock was still soft, but Victor wanted it. The urge to take Yuuri into his mouth, to let himself be filled with Yuuri overtook Victor with a delicious shudder.

Ya ne budu govorit' po-angliyski. Ty ne zasluzhivayesh' etogo,’ came distantly through the other end of the phone, but Victor was no longer paying any attention as Yuuri was sinking to the floor in front of him, right down to his knees.

‘I’m so sorry, but something’s just come up,’ Victor said hurriedly, scrambling to hang up the phone as Yuri barked something down the other line. But Victor didn’t care. Instead, he threw the phone haphazardly away after he hung up, hearing it thump somewhere. Yuuri raised an eyebrow.

‘Was that important?’ he asked innocently, moving forward so he was down on his hands as well and Victor sighed as arousal coiled hot and tight inside him at the sight of Yuuri down on all fours. Victor could feel his cock start to fill, almost embarrassingly fast, trousers suddenly far too tight.

‘No. Definitely not,’ Victor managed to pant out as Yuuri crawled up the small distance until he was between Victor’s legs.

‘Good,’ Yuuri said softly, his voice barely more than a breath. Victor felt a whine burrow its way up his throat as Yuuri leaned forward, nose running along the inside of Victor’s thigh. He was so hard already, just imagining what Yuuri had planned.

He’d already waited so long. Their phone and text conversations did nothing to prepare him for this moment. Suddenly, all Victor could think about was what it felt like to have Yuuri kiss him. What Yuuri sounded like when Victor would pinch his hips. What it felt like to be inside of Yuuri. He twitched, hips tipping forward at the memory.

Victor moaned as Yuuri made his way to the tent between his legs, brown eyes sinful behind his glasses. Yuuri hovered there, mouth pursed in a small kiss as he leant forward, pressing his lips against the straining in Victor’s trousers. The view was almost too much for Victor. His hips were started to shift restlessly, squirming against the couch cushions.

Then Yuuri opened his mouth and placed it over the swell of Victor’s cock, and Victor was ruined.

The mere sight of it snapped the elastic that was Victor’s arousal, cock twitching helplessly in its confines as Yuuri pressed his tongue up and against it. The heat was overwhelming, the wet of Yuuri’s mouth slowly beginning to seep through the fine Italian fabric. Victor groaned, a hand coming up to bury itself in Yuuri’s damp hair.

Then Yuuri started to move, mouthing at Victor’s cock with open, sloppy kisses and Victor had to force himself not to let his head tip back with the pleasure of it. He kept his eyes fixed on Yuuri, on the slow, rolling movements of his head and how it rippled down his back. Christ.

‘Yuuri~’ Victor breathed as Yuuri closed his shining lips around the bulge of Victor’s cock, brown eyes closing and cheeks hollowing out. Victor whined loudly, Yuuri’s name dying in it and unable to stop himself from bucking into the heat of Yuuri’s mouth.

Then Yuuri made a low, rumbling noise from the back of his throat and Victor couldn’t wait anymore.

Tightening his grip on Yuuri’s hair, Victor gave a sharp tug. Yuuri pulled away easily, following Victor’s command immediately and Victor’s stomach squeezed with want at the sight of the long, thin trail of saliva that ribboned from Yuuri’s mouth to his clothed erection.

But Victor forced himself to be patient. He let his hand slip down Yuuri’s face, under his chin. He tilted Yuuri’s face up, applying some pressure until Yuuri got the idea. Yuuri sat up and back on his knees, watching Victor with curious eyes as Victor took Yuuri’s face in both his hands. Gently rubbing the tops of his cheeks with his thumbs, Victor smiled before closing the distance between them by leaning forward and taking Yuuri’s mouth.

Yuuri was instant give, lips parted and tongue swiping with beautiful and electric precision. Victor countered it with a quick nip to Yuuri’s lips. Yuuri opened his mouth wide, moaning as Victor immediately plundered it with his own tongue. The kiss grew wet, sloppy, but Victor wouldn’t let up, wouldn’t give Yuuri the chance to get back into a motion. Victor pulled at Yuuri’s bottom lip with his teeth, only to meet Yuuri’s tongue with a strong suck as it moved to soothe the sting. Yuuri made a surprised whimper, but Victor just sucked more, desperate need driving him to fill his mouth with Yuuri. With his tongue, his taste. The noises he made. Victor wanted to swallow them whole.

Slowly, Victor began to pull back. He still held Yuuri’s face steady, still kissed him. But he reduced his fucking to slow presses of his tongue against Yuuri’s, ignoring Yuuri’s impatient whine. He chuckled from the back of his throat as he heard it, rubbing more circles into Yuuri’s cheeks with the edges of his thumbs. Finally, Victor managed to pull himself away.

Victor looked at Yuuri. Looked at his awkward glasses and his abused, red lips.

‘You’re so beautiful,’ Victor whispered, like they were telling secrets. He rolled his hips to himself, seeking the friction he had craved for days. Yuuri’s eyes widened at his words though, just a bit. But Victor saw and his heart started to beat twice as fast. Yuuri blushed, cheeks blooming like the roses back home and he looked away from Victor.

‘It’s strange,’ he said softly, not quite dropping to Victor’s quiet. Yuuri was smiling but he looked pensive, eyes slipping away from Victor’s face. ‘How could you, of all people, think something like that?’

Victor felt like there was something inside him. Something magnetic and polar, that was pulled by the compass of Yuuri’s expression as Victor wanted nothing more than to fall into it. Victor wanted to know the sinew of Yuuri’s muscles, the marrow of his bones. Wanted to show Yuuri how he was beautiful down to the very beads of his DNA.

How did Yuuri not know?

The thought was hot in Victor’s head, sending metallic arousal straight to his aching cock. It was taboo, unethical. To break down such carefully constructed barriers. But Victor could see Yuuri’s cracks and he wanted to fill them in with everything Victor knew to be true. Remake Yuuri with his own presence, like they were somehow supposed to be. Victor wanted to be inside of Yuuri, inside of his life in a way Yuuri had never let anyone be before.

It was dangerous. Victor knew that. But he’d never been able to resist a challenge.

‘Oh, Yuuri,’ Victor said because it was all he could say, unable to voice any of his thoughts aloud. He leaned forward, kissing Yuuri again with soft passion. Tried to convey the admiration Victor held. Victor felt the muscles beneath his fingertips relax, all the way down Yuuri’s neck. Victor followed them, fingers slipping down to Yuuri’s shoulders. ‘I missed you.’

‘I missed you, too,’ Yuuri replied quickly and Victor believed him. It was addicting. The trust Victor had for the man in front of him. Yuuri said it and suddenly Victor knew it to be true.

Eagerness overtook him and Victor slipped down from the couch, pushing Yuuri backwards until he had to move his legs out from under him. Yuuri let Victor press him down onto the floor, laughing a little as Victor ran his hands down Yuuri’s waist, skittering over where Victor was learning Yuuri to be ticklish. He filed the information away the same time he ground his hips down, clothed cock meeting the growing hardness of Yuuri’s naked one.

They both sighed at the contact, Yuuri’s hands scrambling for purchase. One found itself in Victor’s hair, the other around his neck. Victor started to kiss down Yuuri’s throat, sucking lightly over the hollow of it and preening under Yuuri’s whimper. As Victor made his way down, licking and biting at Yuuri’s skin, he noticed a small mark on the edge of Yuuri’s shoulder. Victor froze in his kisses, cock pulsing as a need struck him.

It was unmistakable. Round, red and ugly. Pinpoints where teeth had dug in.

Victor tightened his grip on Yuuri’s waist, twisting the skin there and Yuuri cried out, holding Victor firmly in retaliation. The noise caused Victor to thrust aimlessly forward as the thick want grew inside of him, grinding against Yuuri roughly. Victor was stronger, or Yuuri was not so willing to hold him- whichever it was, Victor found himself pulling back, looking down at Yuuri with his teeth bared.

‘You’re marked,’ he said, the words slipping out from between his teeth. Yuuri was breathing heavily, chest stuttering between them. His eyes were half-closed, but at Victor’s tone, he opened them properly. He gave Victor a quick look, eyebrows knitting together before he glanced over to the side. To where the bitemark was.

The bitemark left by someone else.

‘Oh,’ Yuuri breathed, voice trembling.

Victor didn’t want to know. He didn’t. What he and Yuuri had- it was different. Victor knew that. Yuuri had told him himself, even if he didn’t quite remember. They weren’t together . Of course they weren’t. Victor was still paying him, after all. But he knew their relationship was different to that of Yuuri’s other clients. He knew Yuuri considered him to be different. Given everything, Victor knew that.

None of that seemed to matter. Because in their short-time together and even when Victor had called Yuuri earlier in the week, no one else had ever infringed on that small, fragile space they had between them. But now…

‘Who were you with? Before me,’ Victor asked, surprised at how calm his voice sounded considering he felt like something hungry had awoken inside of him. Yuuri looked like he was going to sit up, so Victor pushed a leg between Yuuri’s legs, pinning him where he was most sensitive. Victor could feel Yuuri’s cock, stiff but still not all the way there. Yuuri groaned, hips bucking into Victor’s leg, dragging the weight of his cock against Victor’s knee.

‘No- no one,’ he panted, eyes closing and glasses sliding askew as he leant his head back against the plush carpet of the hotel room. Victor pressed his knee down, pressing a hand firm into Yuuri’s skin as he slid it up the side of Yuuri’s body, all the way up to Yuuri’s shoulder until his fingers met the bitemark.

‘You were obviously with someone,’ Victor said quietly, slowing beginning to grind down himself on the one of Yuuri’s legs that was between his own. Yuuri canted forwards, cock coming to full attention very fast. ‘When?’

‘Victor-’

‘Tell me, Yuuri,’ Victor asked. Then he pressed the tips of his fingers into the bitemark, hard. Yuuri moaned, hips beginning a slow, hot rut against Victor’s thigh. Possessiveness bit at Victor with sharp teeth, hungering for the way Yuuri’s mouth fell open. ‘Tell me now.’

Yuuri opened his eyes, meeting Victor’s gaze head on. He swallowed, Adam’s apple thick in his throat. Victor wanted to kiss it. Wanted to lick his way down Yuuri’s body. Taste parts of Yuuri no one had ever had.

‘Not today,’ Yuuri said quietly, but firmly. He watched Victor from behind his glasses, damp hair drying in a flare as it was still mostly pushed back from his face. He looked the picture of an invitation, but Victor wasn’t satisfied yet. Yuuri took a long, shuddering breath. ‘Last night.’

Victor’s other hand pinched Yuuri’s waist without meaning to, Victor starting when Yuuri gasped beneath him. Victor rubbed where he had squeezed too hard in soothing circles and Yuuri keened at it. Yuuri kept his hips rolling, cock fully hard now and rubbing wickedly against Victor’s leg. Victor’s own erection ached with a need to be touched, a need to find friction. Victor rutted against Yuuri’s thigh, but it wasn’t enough.

None of it was enough. If Yuuri was willing to give it to someone other than Victor, then Victor didn’t want it. He wanted what Yuuri wouldn’t give to someone else. Victor wanted to pull the teeth that had marked Yuuri right out of him.

‘Get to the bed,’ Victor commanded, standing up and giving Yuuri room to get up as well. He offered a hand, warmth spreading from where Yuuri took it. Yuuri looked worried, but it was undone with how red his face was. How hard his cock was between his legs. Victor found himself staring at it, licking his lips and balling his other hand into a fist.

‘Victor,’ Yuuri said with a soft exhale, Victor’s name so long in his mouth. Victor squeezed Yuuri’s hand, starting to walk them towards the bedroom. Yuuri followed him, silent footsteps on the carpet.

When Victor had Yuuri where he wanted him, he pushed Yuuri down onto the bed. Yuuri took the hint, shuffling up until he was on his back, spread out for Victor to look at. And look Victor did, drinking every inch Yuuri gave him while Yuuri removed his glasses to put on the bedside table.

Yuuri was watching him from beneath his lashes when he lay back down and there was a silent demand written across every inch of his face. Victor had seen it before, that drive. That dark and quiet request. Look at me , Yuuri seemed to be saying, with the way his hands splayed against the expensive comforter and his toes curled. Don’t take your eyes off me , just like that first night when Yuuri had been all liquid confidence and bursting heat on a dancefloor.

Victor wouldn’t deny him anything. Couldn’t, because even now, with another person’s teeth pinched into his skin, Yuuri was looking at Victor. He was asking for Victor, doing what Victor said. Answering to the name only Victor knew. Knowing that almost soothed the hurt of seeing the evidence that Yuuri wasn’t as claimed as Victor fancied him to be. Almost.

‘What do you want?’ Yuuri asked, low and breathless. Victor wasn’t sure, but he was starting to undress himself, eyes never moving from Yuuri’s face. Yuuri’s hands started to move and it set Victor’s blood on fire, cock throbbing in his trousers as Yuuri slid his hands down his own chest. He moved lower, fingers running along his stomach, through the very fine, dark hairs, all practiced grace

But that was just the thing. Victor didn’t want what Yuuri practiced. Didn’t want Yuuri to just give him what he wanted. Victor wanted what he knew they could have, what Yuuri had let him have before. Victor wanted to push Yuuri off that precipice, send him tumbling down into Victor’s arms that would be waiting to catch him.

Now naked, Victor sighed with relief as his cock was finally free of the deep seam of his trousers. He crawled onto the bed, hovering over Yuuri’s body. Yuuri’s hands froze, just inches from where he no doubt wanted them. Victor knelt back, taking a hand in each of his own and moving them up and above Yuuri’s head. He couldn’t resist- there was something about Yuuri being stretched out like this that set a lancing throb right through Victor that was too addicting to let go of.

Yuuri looked like this when he danced. Hands above his head, back arching with the stretch. Victor just knew he’d be beautiful on the ice, once he got Yuuri there. Seduction incarnate. Everyone would see and everyone would fall in love, Victor knew. But only Victor would know exactly how it felt to hold someone who was clearly so strong underneath him.

Yuuri whined impatiently when his arms were pinned, hips bucking up against Victor. His cock rubbed against Victor’s own and Victor could feel the warm stick of pre-cum where they touched and he moaned. ‘Christ, Yuuri.’

‘I was thinking about you,’ Yuuri said and it was the right thing to say, as suddenly Victor felt like his very skin was too small for him. He felt taut, stretched out like an elastic band waiting to snap and he pushed forward, grinding his hips down. His cock pushed into Yuuri’s stomach and Victor grunted at the pressure, looking up to quickly capture Yuuri’s mouth in a open, wet kiss.

Between the sloppy laving into Yuuri’s mouth, Victor would breathe out the words, sharing Yuuri’s hot, panting breath; ‘When? Mmm. When did you think about me?’

Victor knew but he wanted Yuuri to say it. Yuuri blushed, turning his head slightly down like he might try and hide it. Victor growled, using one his hands to get beneath Yuuri’s chin, forcing him to look up. Yuuri did, eyes wide and mouth shining from Victor’s abuse of it. Victor ground down again, this time their cocks lining up beautifully and Victor felt tight as Yuuri’s cock slipped in the hollow space of his pelvis. Yuuri moaned.

‘Tell me,’ Victor said firmly. Yuuri’s breath was a skittering, damp thing against Victor’s mouth and Victor wanted nothing but to breathe it in, swallow it down and have Yuuri fill his very lungs. ‘Be honest, Yuuri. Please.’

Maybe it was the please that did it, but Yuuri made a small whine, hands squirming but not moving from where Victor left him. Victor kissed Yuuri’s shoulder to reward him.

‘Last- last night,’ Yuuri managed to get out, hips rutting up against Victor and Victor could feel the dampness between them growing. Could feel Yuuri leaking and the hot slick that pooled between them from it.

‘Who was he?’ Victor asked, running his thumb along Yuuri’s bottom lip. Yuuri’s eyes fell closed and he shook his head slightly, like he was afraid of losing Victor’s grip on him.

‘Not he. Her,’ Yuuri answered. Victor blinked, honestly not expecting it. He knew, somewhere in the back of his very distracted mind, that Yuuri must get clients of all genders and persuasions. But hearing it was something else. It reminded him, quite vividly, how much about Yuuri was still unseen to him.

Victor hated the reminder.

The need to mark almost overtook Victor. He wanted to bite his very name onto Yuuri’s skin, wanted to stake claim so that no man, or woman, or anyone would even consider themselves possible of making Yuuri feel as good as Victor could. As Victor would.

‘What did you think about?’ Victor pressed his thumb hard against Yuuri’s lips, almost feeling the bump of his teeth beneath the skin. Then Yuuri ducked down, mouth open and Victor’s thumb slipped into the wet heat of Yuuri’s mouth. Victor made a noise at the sight of Yuuri closing his lips around it, giving one firm, tight suck.

Yuuri’s tongue swirls around the digit in dirty circles, unseen but very, very real as Victor could feel every ridge of it. It tumbled down through Victor in a shudder, hips now turning frantic as his cock pulsed with desire. Yuuri’s eyes were like burning log fire, watching Victor with dark intent, his lips so tight around Victor’s thumb.

Victor pushed his thumb further into Yuuri’s mouth, felt the tip of it skirt the edge of Yuuri’s throat and Yuuri groaned around it, sucking more earnestly now. The bobbing motion somewhat echoed their aimless rutting, the two things stimulating more than heat inside of Victor. It was electricity. Lightning, straight down from heaven above.

‘Fuck,’ Victor said as Yuuri continued to suck, his eyes falling closed as he tried to take Victor’s thumb deeper. Yuuri’s movements turned desperate beneath him, Victor could feel his cock slip with the slick against Yuuri’s hipbone. The wet, heavy feeling of Yuuri’s cock sent Victor spiraling. ‘Did you think about this? About me in your mouth?’

‘Mmm,’ was all Yuuri managed around Victor’s thumb. Victor ran his other hand down Yuuri’s arm, under his shoulder and down his waist. He smiled, heart bursting with something dangerous as Yuuri lost himself to the memory.

‘When you were fucking her, did you imagine it was me?’

Yuuri whined, lips coming away so the noise escaped him but Victor moved- pushing his thumb back in and loving Yuuri’s surprised grunt at the invasion. Victor started to slip his thumb in and out of Yuuri’s mouth, fucking into it so slowly. Victor wanted to be inside that mouth. Wanted to grab Yuuri by the hair and give him exactly what he had been imagining. He wanted to fuck Yuuri’s mouth until Yuuri was hoarse, until he couldn’t speak. Victor wanted to steal Yuuri’s voice so he couldn’t possibly make the wonderful noises he was making now for someone else.

‘What do you want now, Yuuri?’ Victor teased, kissing Yuuri on the corner of his mouth. Yuuri turned, opening his mouth wider to try and accommodate without letting go of Victor’s thumb. Victor sighed happily, spiking hot rods of pleasure shooting through him and straight to his cock.

Yuuri surrendered Victor’s thumb to kiss him properly and Victor let him. He trailed his hand down Yuuri’s chin, catching Yuuri’s throat in a passive press. Yuuri moaned into the kiss, a needy, guttural noise from the back of his throat that Victor could feel reverberate through the skin under his fingertips.

Victor’, Yuuri said, kisses turning sharp as he seemed to grow more needy. He nipped at Victor’s lips, tugged at his tongue with strong sucks. He fucked his hips up to meet Victor’s and everything was so hot and so wet between them. ‘I missed you- so much. So much.’

Something burst into life at Yuuri’s words and suddenly Victor wanted more than to hoard everything Yuuri was giving, he wanted to plunder everything Yuuri hadn’t given yet either. Victor leaned back, Yuuri whining with disappointment. Victor sat back on his heels, hand coming down to give himself a stroke to try and ease off the burning, tight tension. He looked at Yuuri’s cock, red and shining with pre-come in the filtered daylight. His blush like spilled paint, down across his chest.

I missed him, too, Victor thought, fingers coming around himself in a tight loop.

Yuuri’s eyes dropped to watch Victor’s movement, mouth hanging open in a sinful pant.

‘Show me,’ Victor said, the command light but Yuuri’s eyes darkened anyway. Victor stroked himself once, twice. He gritted his teeth as the pleasure of it shot up through him like adrenaline. ‘Show me what you wanted me to do.’

With a gentle nod, Yuuri sat up for a moment to get the bottle of lube from the bedside table. Victor hadn’t even noticed it was there. His heart suddenly twisted with fondness. Yuuri was so practical. Then Yuuri was on his back once again, watching Victor with his eyes on fire.

Yuuri’s cock leaked, beading pre-come edging up and over the tip. When Yuuri went to take himself in hand, it spread between his fingers and Victor groaned at the sight of it. Victor wanted to taste it. Yuuri was long, not as thick as Victor himself. Victor was sure Yuuri could reach places in Victor that had never been reached. Victor tightened his hold on his own cock as the thought of what it would feel like to have Yuuri fuck him threatened to push him over.

Slowly, Yuuri started to fist himself. Victor froze, enraptured. There was nothing in the hotel room but the sound of Yuuri’s deep pants, the wet sound of his skin. Victor let himself drown in it.

‘Tell me, miliy,’ Victor said, sounding breathless. Yuuri grunted, his head tipping back and his eyes closed as he moved over himself. ‘Tell me what you wanted.’

‘I-’ Yuuri’s pink cheeks were turning red and Victor delighted in it. ‘I imagined you touching me. Like this.’

‘When you were with her?’ Victor asked, trying to stroke himself in tandem to Yuuri. Yuuri tossed his head, eyes still closed as he picked up the pace. Victor watched the way Yuuri’s foreskin pulled back, revealing his glistening head before it would bunch back up, beading slick.

‘Yes. And before.’ Victor groaned, squeezing the base of his cock to stop from going too far. Yuuri didn’t seem to notice, his other hand scrambling with the bottle of lube. ‘When I was on my own, too. I couldn’t stop thinking about you.’

I missed you is what Yuuri had said and Victor knew it to be true. He thought of what Yuuri had confessed to him the week before, not that Yuuri could remember. How he had admired Victor for so long, how he had fantasised about meeting him for years. Victor wondered, watching Yuuri pop the lid off the lube and release his cock to spread some on his hand, if whatever Yuuri had imagined when he was younger was close to what was happening now.

Victor was selfish of those thoughts. Knowing how Yuuri had felt about him, how Yuuri could feel about him was one of the most precious things Victor had ever been given.

Then Victor lost his train of thought entirely as Yuuri bypassed his cock with slicked fingers, instead travelling further down so he could tease at his hole.

‘Fuck,’ Victor said again because it was the only thing he could think of as Yuuri pressed the pad of a finger against his own entrance, keening noise pushing up and out of him as Yuuri’s back arched. ‘Yuuri.’

Yuuri made another noise. A needy, high-pitched thing that crawled into Victor’s chest and sated whatever hungry beast happened to live there. Then Yuuri pushed a finger inside of himself, mouth opening in silence and Victor stroked himself to the sight of it. The slow, dry drag of his own foreskin was like a promise of what he could have if he was patient, so Victor tried to stay slow. But his cock was aching and Yuuri was pushing his finger in, all the way to the first knuckle with seemingly no resistance.

Like Yuuri’s body was opening up, like it had been waiting for Victor this entire time and could wait no more. Victor whimpered, watching as Yuuri moved his finger in and out of himself, skin shining with lube. Watched as Yuuri’s finger slipped in and out in a familiar motion Victor was dying to recreate.

Victor knew it was more practical than that. He was still competing, both he and Yuuri discussing at length in their texts what they would be doing. But seeing it in person- reacquainting himself with the colour on Yuuri’s skin, remembering the noises Yuuri made. It was like Victor had been holding his breath until this very moment.

‘Did you imagine this, too?’ Victor asked as Yuuri started to shift his hips in small, bucking movements down onto his finger. ‘Me doing this to you?’

‘No,’ Yuuri said and Victor looked up at his face, meeting Yuuri’s dark eyes. ‘I imagined this. Exactly. You watching me, just like this.’

Victor started to rut into his hand, the other one pinching his own thigh to distract himself. Yuuri was able to open himself up easily, even just with one finger and Victor made a note to ask Yuuri to show him again another time. When they were less desperate, when Victor was more patient. Because now Yuuri was adding a second finger, hole opening to accommodate with shining ease.

‘Victor…’ Yuuri’s voice was low, gasping. He scissored his fingers with speed, hand pushing forward until Victor could see nothing but the back of his wrist. Then Yuuri cried out, obviously finding what he had been looking for. Victor’s hand stuttered over his cock as he watched the pleasure wash over Yuuri’s face.

Yuuri’s movements got more frantic. He poured more lube onto his fingers, down the dip of his pelvis and Victor gripped himself at the base tight to stop from coming at the lewd sight. Yuuri didn’t notice, eyes still closed as he pushed three fingers into himself, wrist moving in a lazy fucking motion that sent jabs of desire through Victor like blades.

With a long, deep groan, Yuuri started to flex his fingers as he moved them in and out. He started whimpering, sweat beading along his forehead and his chest starting to glisten in the veiled sunlight.

‘I- uh, god. I want you so badly,’ Yuuri gritted out from between his teeth and Victor knew the sentiment.

Victor released himself and moved forward, hovering over Yuuri’s body and situating himself between Yuuri’s legs. Yuuri opened his eyes and stared up at Victor, pupils blown wide and mouth open in damp pants. Victor leaned on one hand, resting his fingers against Yuuri’s shoulder. The other he trailed down Yuuri’s chest, his stomach. He listened as Yuuri whined when Victor bypassed his cock, then grinned when Yuuri gasped when he realised what Victor was going to do.

‘Tell me what you want, Yuuri,’ Victor said, hand clasping Yuuri’s wrist where it rolled between his legs. Yuuri made a small ah ah noise as Victor closed his hand around Yuuri’s wrist tighter. Then, Victor started to move Yuuri’s hand for him and the feeling of resistance- from Yuuri’s wrist being bent, from the muscle of Yuuri’s entrance, it was like electricity sparking all the way through him.

‘Victor!’ Yuuri cried, throwing his head back. His other hand scrambled at Victor’s back, looking for purchase as Victor controlled Yuuri’s hand that was fucking him. It was addicting, dark and illicit- to move someone like this, for Yuuri to just let Victor do it.

Victor looked down between them, looked at his own hand push Yuuri’s slicked fingers into himself. Victor moaned quietly as he watched Yuuri stretch around himself, cock shining with slick and pre-come as it bobbed to the movement, untouched. It looked as aching as Victor felt.

Yuuri looked wrecked. Cheeks flushed, hair sticking to his sweaty forehead. His hips were starting to move in earnest now, fucking himself to the point where Victor’s hand would graze the inside of his thighs and they would both groan at the contact. Yuuri thrust down onto his own fingers, Victor holding them firm so he could get deeper. Victor knew he was hitting deeper, could tell by Yuuri’s high-pitched whine whenever he ground down.

Victor knew that Yuuri had been an escort for a long time. But he sincerely doubted he’d ever given anyone this. This complete surrender, this desperate needy thing that spilled out of him in honest blushes and genuine sound.

This was for Victor. And Victor was hardly going to share.

Watching Yuuri come undone on his own fingers, with Victor controlling exactly how fast and how hard was something Victor was very much enjoying, but his cock was starting to ache to the side of painful now with impatience and Victor leaned down, claiming Yuuri’s lips in a bruising kiss.

‘Condoms,’ Victor said against Yuuri’s lips and Yuuri threw a hand up above him, fishing a string of them from beneath the pillows.

Victor pulled Yuuri’s fingers out of himself, adoring the way Yuuri’s hole clenched after them, clearly desperate to be filled. A desperation Victor full intended on satiating.

Yuuri struggled to open a condom for himself as Victor easily but hurriedly slid one onto his cock, hissing at the contact. God, he needed this so badly.

When Yuuri finally got the condom onto himself, Victor grabbed Yuuri by the hips and flipped him over, loving Yuuri’s shocked gasp as he hit the mattress again with an audible whump. Victor knelt behind him, grabbing Yuuri by the hips and pulling him up onto all fours. Victor ran his hands up then down Yuuri’s back, thumbs grazing the cleft of his ass and Yuuri keened, arching his beautiful back and presenting himself.

‘Did you think about this?’ Victor asked, reaching down for the abandoned bottle of lube. He squirted some straight down the spread of Yuuri’s cheeks, the gasp Yuuri made at the cool substance shooting through Victor in one sharp, hot twist. Victor rubbed the lube against Yuuri’s entrance, pressing his thumb into the already stretched space.

‘Y-yes,’ Yuuri panted, pushing his hips back. Victor pushed his thumb into Yuuri slowly, rubbing the lube around the slick space.


‘Do you still want it?’ Victor asked, withdrawing only to line himself up with Yuuri’s hole, trembling as his head grazed against it.

‘Yes!’ Yuuri cried, pushing back again but Victor held onto his hips tightly, holding him steady. Yuuri whined in protest as Victor undulated his hips slowly, brushing the head of his cock against the slick of Yuuri’s entrance.

‘Beg for it,’ Victor asked, knowing he was being cruel. But from this position, he could see quite clearly the bite that other client had left on the curve of Yuuri’s shoulder. Like Yuuri had been theirs to do so. It lit something inside Victor that had no problem with being cruel.

But Yuuri- beautiful, gorgeous and open Yuuri- did what he always seemed to. He surprised Victor by giving him exactly what he asked for, mouth opening in a deep whine as he breathed out; ‘Please, Victor. Please fuck me. I need you. Have needed you, so bad-’

Victor didn’t give Yuuri the chance to finish, pushing inside of him with one firm thrust and Yuuri cried out, back bent like an arabesque and god, he was still so tight.

Victor leaned down over Yuuri’s back, folding himself in half over Yuuri’s skin and sinking deeper as he did. Yuuri whined again, needy and wet and Victor grunted into Yuuri’s back, hips bucking uncontrollably.

‘Sorry, sorry,’ Victor said, kissing the back of Yuuri’s neck. 'Too fast.'

But Yuuri just shook his head frantically, pushing backwards


‘No,’ he said breathlessly, grinding back onto Victor’s cock with uneven movements. ‘Don’t stop. Please.’

Like Victor could ever say no to that.

Victor slammed into Yuuri, pulling a cry from him like a splinter. Victor felt like he would burst, molten hot emotion and arousal simmering beneath his skin, threatening to erupt and consume him. Victor held onto Yuuri’s hips, pounding into Yuuri with such force that soon Yuuri’s arms gave way, shuddering weight as he cried out, bending even more sinfully, letting Victor fuck into him deeper.

Yuuri turned wild beneath him, ramming back into Victor’s thrusts with loud fervour. Victor knew it wouldn’t last much longer, he wouldn’t be able to after having teased Yuuri for so long. But it was worth it. It was worth it for the punishing tightness of Yuuri clenching around him, his breathy moans and sweaty back before Victor like he had been dreamed up for this very purpose.

Victor fucked Yuuri brutally, pouring the desperation he’d felt all week into the movement of driving his cock in and out of Yuuri’s scorching heat. He wanted to tell Yuuri just how badly he missed him. He wanted Yuuri to confess to him all the secrets Victor knew he was still keeping, buried somewhere under lock and key. Victor wanted to be that key.

‘Victor-! I need to, god, please!’

Victor understood, feeling the sharp edges of his own orgasm begin to tear into him from the coiling hot feeling low in his gut.

‘Yuuri!’ Victor cried, unable to say anything else but Yuuri’s name but it seemed to be enough, as Yuuri whimpered beneath him, trying to balance on one hand as he reached down to take himself in hand. Victor bent low over Yuuri’s back again, licking a wet stripe on the back of Yuuri’s neck as he felt Yuuri’s body tremble.

Turning his head, Victor blew his fringe out his face and looked across Yuuri’s skin. Once he found it, Victor bit down. Hard. Yuuri yelped and Victor could feel him coming, felt Yuuri’s body clench down around him like a velvet vice and Victor groaned into his bite on Yuuri’s shoulder, fucking Yuuri frantically as he chased his own orgasm.

When Victor came, it felt like he was snapped in half. The pulsing of his cock shuddered up through his body, pulling the nerves of his spine taut and Victor pressed bruises into Yuuri’s skin as he gripped his hips to anchor himself.

They stayed that way for a moment, breathing heavily and listening to the distant sound of traffic outside. Victor kissed Yuuri over the bite he’d left. It was angry and purple, completely dwarfing out the one it covered.

Victor smirked, pleased.

Afterwards, Victor invited Yuuri to shower with him, which he accepted with a nervous blush. It was endearing and Victor loved the way it felt to wash Yuuri’s hair. Loved the way Yuuri’s eyes closed as he tipped his head back to keep the suds out of his eyes. It made Victor’s heart flip, like it was being seared on both sides.

Once they were dried off and dressed, Victor tied Yuuri’s scarf

for him. He fixed the collar of the handsome blue peacoat Yuuri had worn for Victor before and Yuuri looked up at him, wearing his adorable blue glasses again.

‘Ready?’ Victor asked, smiling sweetly. He roamed over Yuuri’s round cheeks, sneaking a quick glance to the shoulder he knew he’d marked. It spread warmth through Victor like the way snow would melt.

Yuuri grinned up at Victor, looking drunkenly happy.

‘Ready.’

 


 

They spent the afternoon wandering Detroit, but only very select parts that Yuuri suggested.

‘Detroit isn’t the best place to get lost in,’ Yuuri said by way of an explanation. Victor spent most of their time watching Yuuri anyway. The way his eyes lit up when he pointed something out, like a café he apparently used to study in and the bar where he had his first drink in America. The pink flush his rounded cheeks got in the cold wind. The way his fingers felt against Victor’s, as Victor refused to let Yuuri’s hand go for anything.


Yuuri was just so charming. Everything he did pulled Victor in, his smile a constellation to a sky Victor hadn’t even noticed he was watching. Victor felt so humbled to be allowed to see Yuuri like this, to know which compliments Yuuri filed under work and which actually inspired the blush Victor found himself attracted to. Victor wanted to know more and as they walked, Yuuri obliged him just like he had on their second date, answering all of Victor’s questions with quiet wonder.

‘I just don't understand,’ Yuuri said as they passed the edge of a park after telling Victor that he had an older sister. Victor looked at him, noticing the way his hair fell now it wasn't styled. Yuuri glanced over from behind his glasses. ‘Why do you want to know all this?’

‘Because I find you interesting,’ Victor said because it was true. He didn't mention that he was also waiting for the right opening to press further about what Yuuri admitted to that night the party.

Yuuri shook his head, smiled dazed.

‘Well, that's just- no one does that,’ he laughed and Victor felt a pang of sympathy. Why would Yuuri think of himself so poorly?

Wouldn't anyone be as interested? Yuuri was so magnetic, so engaging. Who wouldn't meet him and want to know him?

Victor smiled, picking at non-existent fluff on Yuuri’s shoulder. Just to feel him, just to skim his fingers over the lovebite that lay beneath Yuuri’s coat.

How lucky for Victor that no one had. Victor had never been very good at sharing.

'Do you have many other clients?' Victor asked later when they were back in the hotel restaurant after a day of aimless wandering and conversation.

Victor was trying very hard to aim for a disinterested tone. But the way Yuuri caught his eye across the dinner table, round, brown and gorgeous, told him that Yuuri knew exactly what he was asking. Victor shrugged, taking a blasé sniff of his wine before speaking again;

‘Asides from Chris and myself.'

'You're my favourite,' Yuuri responded easily and Victor hated how that wasn't an answer. It probably wasn't even something Yuuri thought of now, another line from his performance. How many other people had asked before Victor? And as much as Victor enjoyed the show, the more time he was spending with Yuuri the more he wanted Yuuri to leave Eros behind.

'Hypothetically,' Victor started, reaching for his glass and twirling it between his fingers. He wasn’t nervous. Not really. 'Would it be possible to book you exclusively?'

Yuuri blinked and Victor smiled, indulging himself. There it was. The look Victor had fast fallen in love with. Yuuri was surprised. Victor loved surprising him. Yuuri's mouth opened once, then twice and still he hadn't said anything. Victor threw him a smirk, loving how despite everything he could still make Yuuri blush just a little bit under his eyes. Like a tiny, adorably pink mask. But Yuuri seemed to find his footing, taking a careful sip of wine before answering.

'And by exclusively, you mean?'

'Just me,' Victor replied instantly, wanting to be clear. Yuuri's face was something Victor hadn’t seen yet. Eyes wide, but mouth tight with- fright, almost. For a moment, Victor thought Yuuri looked hopeful, but then the familiar mask slipped over again and Yuuri smiled coyly from across the table, all semblance of nerves and shock fading from his round features.

'You couldn't afford it,' he teased quietly, running a stray hair behind his ear. It was strikingly endearing, the low light of the restaurant casting his face into shadows and candlelight in his glasses. Victor felt the urge to kiss him course through like adrenaline.

'No special rate then, for being your favourite?' Victor flirted back, reaching a leg out from under the table to hook around Yuuri's. Yuuri's eyes were slanted now in promise, heat building like it had consistently over the day since Victor arrived.

They were becoming less and less the matchstick of passion, and more the slow, deep burning of a sun.

Victor was happy to be burnt up within it.

'I can't afford to make exceptions,' Yuuri said, leaning over across the table, his lips the picture of invitation. Victor leaned forward as well, anticipation addictive. Yuuri smiled wider. ‘Well, anymore exceptions.’

'I promise to treat you very well,' Victor said, voice low and thick. He had an idea of what the accent did to Yuuri, any self-consciousness he may have felt about it evaporating completely.

Yuuri's eyes narrowed seductively, his gaze dropping to Victor's mouth, then back up to meet his eye. And sure, it was a move but it was a smooth move and Victor was falling for it. He kept the game going, indulging in Yuuri’s obvious love of his voice;

‘I'll bring you to the skating banquets, if you like. The politics of figure-skating can be quite the trial, but having you there is bound to make it more interesting. I could show you around as well, if Chris hasn't put you off skating forever with his horror stories.'

'I'm not going to be your courtesan, Victor,' Yuuri said, smiling. His bottom lip hooked under his teeth for a moment, releasing slowly. Victor loved the way Yuuri said his name. The c so sharp, puncturing a hole through him.

'Courtesan,' Victor repeated, slipping a hand across the table. He splayed his fingers across Yuuri's as they held the stem of the wine glass. Touching Yuuri's skin was electric, pulse hot between them. Flowers blooming in the heat of their sun. 'I like that. Makes me sound like the Tsar of Russia. What do you think?'

Yuuri breathed a laugh and what struck Victor the most about it was how genuine it sounded. Untrained.

'I think you'd be better to stick with skating,' Yuuri said, eyes bright and Victor could stare at them for hours. He held Yuuri's hand over the wine glass. ‘Tsars never seemed to have a good run of it.'

'What about courtesans?' Victor asked and then immediately regretted it, as that wasn't sexy at all. Didn’t courtesans also have a bad time? But Yuuri laughed again, louder this time. Victor felt like his heart stopped in his chest, tightened his grip on Yuuri's hand. Yuuri's smiled faltered, just a little.

‘I’m happy with being a good honest prostitute,’ Yuuri said bluntly and Victor was so surprised to hear the words that it rendered him silent. Yuuri looked down at his dessert, other hand idly turning his fork. ‘I don't need a tsar. I'm perfectly able to mind myself.’

Victor was sure something was going through Yuuri’s head, something he couldn't quite understand. He squeezed Yuuri’s hand and Yuuri looked up at him from under his feathery, black fringe. His brown eyes were careful. Victor wanted to say hopeful.

‘You don't have to,’ Victor suggested over the remnants of lemon meringue. He glanced at Yuuri’s plate. Not even half-eaten. He remembered what Yuuri had said when Victor brought him ice-skating. About food and watching his weight. ‘Have you ever thought about settling down?’

Yuuri shifted in his seat so Victor ran his foot up and down Yuuri’s leg in what he hoped was a soothing manner. But all it really seemed to do was spread another blush across Yuuri’s cheeks and give Victor’s stomach a pleasant flip.

‘No,’ Yuuri answered, eyes fixed on Victor’s lips, which Victor pulled into his most camera ready smile for him. Teeth flashing.

‘Shame,’ Victor said, raising his foot with a bit more pressure and rubbing circles onto the back of Yuuri’s hand. ‘I imagine whoever got the chance to look after you would be a very lucky person.’

‘I don't need anyone to look after me,’ Yuuri said, looking Victor in the eye now and it was doing funny, tingling things to Victor’s nerves.

Victor chuckled. ‘No, I suppose at your rate you’re more than set.’

Yuuri probably made more in a week than Victor would in a month, if he was busy. Was it wrong for Victor to hope he wasn't busy?

‘I’ll cover dinner,’ Yuuri said cheerily. Then he raised an eyebrow, all cheek and Victor found himself surprised once again. ‘I’ll take pity on you, poor Tsar.’

They both laughed, pooling heat still bubbling below the surface of the conversation. But the thought still circled around in Victor’s head, round and round like a spiral.

Victor tried to keep his voice even, but it sounded breathy even to him; 'Will you consider my offer?'

'Your offer of exclusivity?' Yuuri said carefully, watching Victor's face with his beautiful eyes. Yuuri's smile came back, but a little disappointed. Or at least Victor hoped that's what it was. 'I told you, you couldn't afford it.'

'I have a fair share of gold medals,' Victor said, aiming for the flirty tone they had had a moment ago as he wasn't sure what to do with Yuuri’s skittering emotion. Yuuri took the bait, grin back like the Chesire Cat.

'I don't accept those,' he said, leaning forward and finally closing the distance.

The kiss was soft, but then Yuuri's tongue ran along the seam of Victor's lips and Victor could deny him nothing. The kiss deepened, Victor's tongue being pressed back by Yuuri's and the feel of it sent molten heat straight into Victor's gut. Coiling like a spring. Then, Yuuri pulled back, licking his lips as he did.

'How about we focus on the time we do have,' Yuuri said hotly, breath against Victor's lips. 'Are you finished?'

'Yes,' Victor breathed, releasing Yuuri's hand only to help him out of his chair.

They spent the evening relearning everything. Victor sucked Yuuri opened with his tongue, guiding him slowly down onto his lap after. As Yuuri moved above him, hair frizzing and hands tight on Victor’s arm for balance, Victor found himself already thinking about when he could Yuuri to himself again. There was no way he could get away again before the Rostelecom Cup, but maybe-

Victor lost all train of thought as he came, calling out Yuuri’s name.

Later, when Yuuri was sleeping, naked and showered in Victor’s arms, Victor let himself go back to it. He thought of what it would be like to take Yuuri with him back to Russia. Of course, Victor knew he couldn't. But in the warm dark of the hotel room, with nothing but Yuuri’s gently breathing, Victor closed his eyes and imagined walking through the airport with Yuuri’s hand linked in his own.

Victor fell asleep and dreamt of St. Petersburg and the smell of cardboard from Yuuri’s room

 


 

Victor thrust into Yuuri with one, heavy movement. It pushed Yuuri up the bed, moaning wetly as he struggled to catch his breath. Victor was so hot and thick inside him. His toned, moonlight body was over Yuuri, stomachs just meeting. Yuuri felt like his body had changed shape, like Victor had carved out a place for himself right there in Yuuri’s skin. He whimpered as Victor pulled out, sliding back in again with a torturously slow pace, Yuuri’s inner thighs destroyed with lube and slick. Yuuri tilted his hips, desperate to get Victor deeper, harder, please!

But Victor just rolled his hips in a lazy, deep grind. He put both his hands under Yuuri’s legs, changing the angle so Yuuri could feel the swollen head of Victor’s cock brush against his prostate. Yuuri cried out with it, hands scraping down Victor’s back. Victor held Yuuri’s legs up under the thighs, spreading them lewdly like he was splitting Yuuri open and Yuuri could do nothing but let him as Victor leaned back, looking down at Yuuri with dark eyes. Yuuri scraped his hands down Victor’s arms, the only part of Victor he could reach from his back. Nails first,

Yuuri wanted to etch his name in Victor’s skin. Sign him, like the autographs Victor would hand out so easily. Like the one he had offered Yuuri four years ago, back when they didn’t know each other. Or at least, when Victor hadn’t known Yuuri.

Victor sighed deeply as he hit Yuuri’s prostate again, breath heavy and sounding so wet when Yuuri moaned at the pleasure. Victor started to thrust a little faster, rougher and Yuuri whined, desperate for the feel of Victor’s cock dragging inside of him. He hit Yuuri’s prostate again and tears bloomed.

‘Victor- ah! Don’t stop, don’t stop,’ Yuuri babbled, one of his hands getting tangled in the sheets. He looked up, watched Victor’s hair. The hair he had admired for so, so long. The hair he had mourned, two years ago, when Victor had cut it first. Victor punctuated each breath with a firm thrust, hitting Yuuri right where he wanted to be hit.

‘Feel good?’ Victor asked, huffing out a laugh when Yuuri could do nothing to reply but try and clamp his legs down in an attempt to hold Victor even closer. But he met the reistance of Victor’s large hands, holding him open. ‘You look gorgeous like this. So good for me.’

Yuuri turned his head from the praise, tears leaking down his cheeks. Good. Good for Victor.

‘Yuuri~’ Victor moaned, biting his own lip as he started to pick up his pace. Yuuri felt like the very sun had blossomed inside him as he heard Victor say his name, his real name.

The last weekend had been so intense. Like everything that was already so good with Victor had been dialed up to a hundred. It felt like cracks had splintered across Yuuri’s very soul, his life suddenly bleeding happy with the few, short bursts Victor was in it. Yuuri was riding shockwave after shockwave of the impact. It was potent in a way few things had even been for Yuuri.

Being with Victor wasn’t like being with any other client. It was that first step out onto the ice, that exhilaration that stole the the breath from your lungs when you pushed off its surface into a jump. It was being sixteen and landing his first quad perfectly. It was the weight of a medal across his neck.

Yuuri could do nothing but whimper as Victor continued to fuck him without mercy, giving Yuuri exactly what he asked for as words fell from his mouth like leaves fell from the trees.

Harder. Victor went harder.

Yes, like that. Victor kept doing it just like that.

‘Come with me,’ Victor asked, breathless and Yuuri very desperately wanted to, about to move to take himself in hand when Victor suddenly continued, voice just above a growl as he drove into Yuuri with force; ‘To Russia, please.’

Yuuri froze, opening his eyes and staring at Victor down from beneath his lashes. Victor was watching him intensely, slowing his hips back down that frustrating grind. Yuuri whimpered in protest, bucking his hips lamely but Victor held him steady by his legs.

‘W-why?’ Yuuri managed to get out, gritting his teeth as Victor grazed against his prostate again. ‘Why would you want that? Victor, god!’

Victor closed his eyes briefly as he caught sight of Yuuri’s cock twitching, achingly hard between them as Victor fucked him right where he wanted it again, seemingly trying to steady himself. When they were open, the blue of them was like slivers of diamond through burning, hot coals.

‘I want you there,’ Victor sighed, beginning to move faster again and Yuuri nearly sobbed from the pleasure of it, convulsing tightly down on Victor’s cock. They both groaned, Victor swearing under his breath before he managed to speak again; ‘For the- ah, Yuuri~ The Rostelecom Cup. I want you to watch me skate.’

‘I always do,’ Yuuri confessed, the truth feeling like it was being pushed out of him by the hot pleasure Victor was driving in. Victor made a noise at that. Could’ve been a groan, could’ve been Yuuri’s name. Yuuri was finding it very hard to pay attention.

Yuuri knew he was close, hands twisting themselves into the blanket beneath him as Victor kept up a punishing pace, his trim nails dug so far into Yuuri’s thighs that it had to mark. But Yuuri couldn’t feel it. Couldn’t feel anything but the trembling, sinking sensation of Victor fucking him so deeply. He could tell Victor was close, too. He could feel his cock pulsing, like a second heart and the heat was building. Setting Yuuri’s soul on fire, burning down his walls.

But Victor wouldn’t come until Yuuri did. So Yuuri begged, unashamed by the mewling whines that slipped out between the words as Yuuri pleaded with Victor to let him come, please please let me come, Victor!


Victor wrapped a strong hand around Yuuri’s cock, finger slipping easy with the lubrication of the condom and Yuuri started to buck manically into his fist, clashing against Victor’s hips in a staccato beat of hot skin and sloppy sex.

Yuuri came shouting Victor’s name, like he had every time they’d been together and Victor thrust into his loose and spent body a few more, erratic times before he was coming, too. Yuuri felt the warmth bloom inside him, Victor’s thick length pulsing inside and wondered not for the first time how good it might feel if Victor hadn’t been wearing a condom.

Victor collapsed down onto Yuuri’s chest, crushing the wet of Yuuri’s come between them and Yuuri groaned at the sensation. Victor dropped Yuuri’s legs, letting them fall heavy either side of his sculpted hips and Yuuri hummed in approval as Victor mouthed at his skin, moving up to suck at the hollow of his throat. Yuuri’s throat was already destroyed, red in places and purple in others. When admiring them in the mirror, Yuuri felt like he had Victor’s Eros and Stay Close to Me dancing around each other in a spreading collection of bites and bruises. He couldn’t look at them without thinking of the beautiful fabric that covered Victor’s body when he skated. Yuuri wished he could skate with Victor’s mark on him for everyone to see.

He wanted to keep them there forever.

Victor pulled out of Yuuri with a careful shift, both of them sighing at the sensitivity as Victor carefully pulled off the condom, tying it lazily before he tossed it somewhere off the bed. Before Yuuri could manage a scold for such disgusting behaviour, Victor was moving to do the same with Yuuri’s and Yuuri was too spent to stop him.

‘Your room must be a mess,’ Yuuri said, smiling and closing his eyes while Victor fished around with a towel that had been left at the end of the bed from one of their showers the night before and using it to wipe at the mess they’d made between them.

‘I assure you, my home is of quality standards,’ Victor replied, all charm and Yuuri cracked open an eye to see Victor’s trademark smirk staring back at him. Yuuri snorted, running a hand over his face and stretching across the ruined hotel bed.

‘I bet you have a maid.’

'I’m quite capable of cleaning up after myself.’

‘Hmm, sure,’ Yuuri joked, completely unconvinced by the image of Victor Nikiforov running around the apartment with an apron and bright yellow gloves. The very idea had him laughing. ‘Who knew you were such a homemaker?’

‘I can fold towels into swans,’ Victor proclaimed proudly, draping himself across Yuuri’s cooling body. His hair flared out across Yuuri’s skin like spilled starlight from where he lay his head on Yuuri’s chest and Yuuri caught his breath for a moment, before he tentatively reached a hand out and started to card his fingers through it. Victor sighed happily.

‘Wow, you are talented. No wonder you’re a worldwide champion,’ Yuuri teased, loving Victor’s petulant grunt as he poked a long finger into Yuuri’s stomach in protest.

‘You shouldn’t talk to clients that way,’ Victor threw back and Yuuri flushed at the reminder, stomach twisting nervously. ‘You tease, but I promise you that my swans look quite handsome on the guest bed.’

Yuuri nodded, afraid to say anything as the reality of everything crept in around him. It felt like sinking beneath the surface of cool water, getting colder and colder the deeper you fell. And Yuuri was falling.

They didn’t say anything for a long while and Yuuri knew they had to move soon. They had to shower and come evening, Victor would have to start getting ready to leave for the airport. Yuuri’s heart picked up in his chest, already grieving the familiar weight on top of him and he brought his other hand up to seek one of Victor’s. Their hands laced together, Victor bringing Yuuri’s hand up to his lips and kissing his knuckles.

‘I can show you, if you like,’ Victor said quietly and Yuuri had to think back for a moment to remember what exactly they had been talking about.

‘The towels?’ he asked, confused.

Victor sat up, looking Yuuri straight in the eye. The blue of them was molten, swirling colour and Yuuri felt himself gasp quietly as he looked into them. Victor tightened his grip on Yuuri’s fingers, legs sliding over Yuuri’s to pin him even further to the bed. Victor really was quite tall.

‘Come to Russia,’ Victor asked, face stern and Yuuri looked away from the strength of his gaze, cheeks burning. ‘With me. Please.’

Oh.

‘I shouldn’t,’ Yuuri whispered, suddenly feeling very large. Like he was taking up too much space, like there was nowhere for him to hide.

Victor said nothing, but he tugged on Yuuri’s hand gently until he turned to look at him again.

‘Your website says you offer overnight getaways,’ he said, tone kind but it was alien to hear Victor bring up Yuuri’s website. Yuuri nodded, thinking of weekends in the Maldives. A quick mid-week break in Toronto. Victor smiled, leaning on his arm so he was closer to Yuuri, his breath skimming across Yuuri’s cheeks. ‘Would you consider it?’

‘Um,’ Yuuri said before swallowing nervously.

‘Please?’

Yuuri stared into Victor’s eyes, looked at his sweat-frizzed hair and pink cheeks. His breath hollowed him out as it fell out of him, heart stuttering. Yuuri liked Victor so much. Had done, for so long and now Victor wanted Yuuri to come to Russia.

Last time Yuuri was in Russia he had been with Victor, too. The Yuuri of that Grand Prix in Sochi would never believe the twist fate would have in store for him later. Would never believe the mess he’d manage to get himself into.

‘I’ll think about it,’ Yuuri answered but when Victor leaned down and kissed him, Yuuri could only think one thing.

Yes.

Chapter Text

‘So, they’ll be launching an internal investigation. Just to get through the red tape,’ Robert said, cutting through his steak with practiced ease. Yuuri watched him, only half-listening as he poked at his salad idly. The steak bloomed blood on the plate. ‘Thorton’s really gunning for it. Never knew how to spot a lost cause, that one.’

‘Hmm,’ Yuuri hummed, popping some lobster into his mouth.

The restaurant was on the sixteenth floor of the MotorCity. The evening was cool outside, clouds rolling in waves over the rooftops of Detroit. It was bound to snow soon, Yuuri had thought before leaving the apartment that evening. His appointment with Robert had passed in a strange daze, thoughts continuously drifting. Yuuri twirled his fork, staring out into the sky. The room was lit in purples and reds, everything the same as it ever was when Yuuri worked, but all Yuuri could focus on was the dying light of the sun through the sprawling windows of the restaurant.

He wondered what time it was in St. Petersburg. Whether or not it was already snowing.

Yuuri had booked his flight to Moscow that morning for the weekend of the Rostelecom Cup. He still hadn’t replied to Victor’s email inquiring whether or not Yuuri had even accepted the invitation or even told Phichit of the whole situation yet. The most Phichit knew was that Yuuri had spent the entirety of last weekend with Victor, teasing him mercilessly once he’d returned from the Westin late on Sunday evening.

‘You’re so gone,’ Phichit had teased. Yuuri had told him to shut up and get some sleep before training in the morning.

Not that Phichit would be capable of providing much guidance anyway, as he was currently in Mississauga for Skate Canada. Yuuri was hardly going to distract him now, it wouldn’t be fair.

As for why Yuuri hadn’t told Victor yet he’d decided to go to Moscow, Yuuri was still unsure. It felt like- surrender, almost. Not quite defeat, but certainly not far off it either.

Yuuri looked down at his food, stomach suddenly twisted with anxiety. He didn’t know what he thought he was giving up either. But there was something about Victor… Or more specifically, how Yuuri felt about Victor, that was causing Yuuri to hesitate.

He’d been away with clients before. Admittedly never as far as Russia, but the sentiment was still the same. Or it should be. But the more Yuuri thought about taking that step across the Atlantic towards Victor, the more something cold began to settle in his mind. Yuuri had tried to push it from his thoughts, had tried to focus on the logistics. Wrote down a payment plan for Victor, drafted a checklist for his flight- but Yuuri still hadn’t committed to anything.

Deep down, no matter how much Yuuri wanted to ignore it, the hope that Victor had really asked him to come to Russia because Victor simply wanted him there stuck like a splinter. It created cracks in the truth Yuuri should know. The truth that Victor was a client with an obscene amount of money and apparently not much else to spend it on other than whatever had taken his fancy.

It just so happened that what had taken Victor’s fancy at the moment was Yuuri. Well, not Yuuri. Not really. Yuuri needed to remember that.

But it was hard to do so when all Yuuri could think of was the way Victor held him when he had been sick. The way Victor’s lips felt across the back of his neck and the curve of his fingers deep inside him, stroking parts of him that felt new under the attention. Like Yuuri had been starving for something without knowing until Victor was drowning him in it.

Yuuri wanted that feeling. Or more so, he wanted it to be real. And that was more dangerous than any trip itself.

‘So I'll be in New York on the sixth to oversee a merger,’ Robert said, a little louder and bringing Yuuri’s thoughts back to him. Yuuri turned from the window to face him and motioned with his glass for Robert to continue. ‘Staying in Soho. Terrible food, all this gluten-free nonsense. But the after-party sounds promising. Champagne and suits in Manhattan.’

Yuuri waited and Robert smiled, charming as always.

‘Wanna come?’

‘I'm afraid I can't that weekend,’ Yuuri said, smiling apologetically as Robert considered him over his glass of whiskey.

‘Oh? Got a better offer?’ Robert replied, charming smile and raised eyebrow. ‘Here I was thinking I’m your favourite.’

‘You are my favourite,’ Yuuri lied easily, laughing softly and adjusting his glasses.  ‘I'll be in Moscow.’

‘Moscow?’ Robert repeated, looking genuinely surprised. He inclined his head with a low whistle. ‘Who's got you trekking halfway across the world? Hope he tips.’

‘It's not like that,’ Yuuri said quietly, because it was true and he felt the strange urge to defend his plans with Victor. Though he was not entirely sure why. What Yuuri did and who with was none of Rober't business. Yuuri fiddled with his glass of water, fingers slipping on the condensation. He thought of Victor's face. The way his wrists bent when he skated. ‘I’m going for myself.’

‘Alone?’ Robert asked, interested. Yuuri flushed.

‘Ah, no.’

A beat of silence passed.

‘I'll be damned,’ Robert said teasingly after watching Yuuri for a moment. He took another sip of his whiskey. ‘Look at you.’

Yuuri raised his glass of water, desperately willing for his blush to go down. He cast his gaze across the restaurant, taking in the low lights and orange candles. Tried to ignore Robert watching him, amused. Which was hard, as now Robert was chuckling deeply. The moment made Yuuri feel strangely uneasy.

‘So, who's dragging you to Moscow?’

‘He's not dragging me,’ Yuuri said, eyes flicking up under his lashes to look at Robert. Robert gave him a raised eyebrow in return.

‘Fair enough,’ Robert said after a moment and for some reason, Yuuri felt like the air between them had chilled. Before he could say anything though, Robert asked; ‘So what kind of job has this guy flying to Russia?’

‘He is Russian,’ Yuuri said coolly. Robert made a surprised noise between a laugh and his sip of whiskey.

‘You're shacking up with a Russkiy?!’

Yuuri gave Robert what he hoped was a very disapproving look. Robert laughed again, waving a hand across the table as Yuuri put his fork down to consider Robert properly.

‘That’s not very funny,’ Yuuri said, tone coming out a little more chiding than he intended. However, this only served to make Robert laugh a little louder ar him.

‘It’s a joke, kid. Of course it’s funny,’ he said, shaking his head with his charming smile catching the purple light. Robert looked at Yuuri over the table, dark eyes twinkling and cheeks a touch red from the whiskey. ‘Though you’ll fit in straight away in Russia with that serious face of yours.’

‘You’re terrible,’ Yuuri admonished with a smile, taking a sip of water but feeling the knot of nerves that had twisted inside him loosen slightly at the jest.

‘So,’ Robert said at length, picking his knife and fork up again. ‘Do I get to hear anything about this new boyfriend? He better looking than me?’

Yuuri choked on his water.

Robert waited patiently for Yuuri to try and compose himself. Which was difficult, as Yuuri could feel the heat on his face as keenly as the water he was coughing up. That incessant, niggling disappointment that always followed Yuuri around when he was reminded that he and Victor were not like that came back in full force, washing over him in sobering waves.

‘It’s not- we’re not. We’re not,’ Yuuri stammered, trying to sound more put together than he felt as his heart beat quicken treacherously in his chest. Yuuri ran a hand over his hair, tapping a leg nervously under the table. He had a to get a grip of himself. He was with a client, for goodness sake. A proper one, too.

(Not that Victor wasn't properbut he was... different).

‘Sure,’ Robert laughed, sounding extremely disbelieving. Yuuri bit his lip, nervous. He didn’t want to discuss Victor with anyone, especially not another client. He could barely think about it himself. This was too much.

Robert was not his friend, after all. 

Taking a steady breath, Yuuri thought of the envelope in his bag. Thought of the fit of his black shirt, more masculine than usual as he and Robert were out. He looked at Robert’s body language, the silver of the fork. This was work. Yuuri’s work. Work he was good at, work he enjoyed. Everything that had led to this moment had been carefully planned out. But just the thought of Victor threatened to disrupt that balance in Yuuri’s head.

Like Yuuri was still water and Victor was a storm, blowing through him and throwing him into waves.

Victor had gotten beneath Yuuri’s skin and worse than that, Yuuri knew he had invited him in. Yuuri tried to remind himself of all of this, attempting to remind himself that everything that had happened had only do so because Yuuri had allowed it.

But it was very difficult. As it felt like everything in his body, even his own heart, was beating towards the edge of sacrificing that control to Victor. It was terrifying. It was… wonderful.

Yuuri hadn’t felt desire for something in so long. The closest he usually came was the longing he got when he watched Phichit perform on the ice. But this was very different to that. What Yuuri felt when he was with Victor was something much deeper, much more selfish. It was the strange cocktail of knowing Victor would break his heart if he let it continue and Yuuri wanting him to.

He wanted the feel of Victor’s skin in the morning and the way he laughed when he was surprised. Yuuri wanted the silver strands that stuck to his clothes after he’d left Victor’s bed and he wanted to be the one Victor skated for. Perhaps more than anything, Yuuri wanted that. Yuuri closed his eyes to the restaurant, to Robert’s face and he thought of the rink in the night- the blue light, the sound of Victor’s skates and the way Victor’s face fell open when he lost himself to the movement.

It made Yuuri ache in a way he didn’t know he was capable of.

Victor had already broken Yuuri’s heart once and he didn’t even know it. How could Yuuri deny him when he offered to break it again so sweetly? Besides, it’s not like Victor would ever know. It was Yuuri’s secret.

Yuuri was good at secrets.

After dinner, Robert walked Yuuri to his cab. He had a hand resting on Yuuri’s lower back, but it felt intrusive in way it never had before. Yuuri tried to hold himself steady, despite the need to pull away tugging inside him. Instead, Yuuri just crossed his arms, holding them to his chest as Robert flagged a cab down from outside the hotel.

There was something off about the whole evening and only now, as Robert trailed his arm slowly across Yuuri's body did he realise what it was. Yuuri didn't want Robert to touch him, not anymore. Not anywhere. It hadn't even crossed his mind earlier the evening, where if he had suddenly felt this way then it would have most definitely been a problem. But in the quiet of the street, with the sound of passing traffic and the promise of snow, Yuuri felt strangely disconnected. He didn't want moments like this with anyone but Victor. Yuuri wanted Victor to be the one who guided him, the one who held him and promised him safe home. 

Yuuri let out a long, low breath, realising too late that he was shaking. That was- not good. Definitely not good.

‘Enjoy Moscow, kid,’ Robert said as the cab pulled to the curb. Yuuri smiled weakly, unable to muster up a proper one and slipping his hands into the pockets of his peacoat, just to prevent Robert from touching him any further. Robert regarded Yuuri with a small smile, eyes creased with something. As Yuuri went for the door, Robert spoke; ‘You know, if you want something, really want something, you only get it if you ask.’

Yuuri’s mouth dropped open, surprised. Robert laughed, the sound now so familiar to Yuuri. Yuuri stared at him, unable to speak as some part of his head was definitely spinning the theory that Robert could somehow read his mind. Which of course he couldn’t… Right? No, that’d be insane-

Robert raised a hand to Yuuri’s face, holding his chin between two calloused fingers and stopping Yuuri’s spiraling thoughts in their tracks. The movement reminded Yuuri so vividly of Victor that he had to resist the urge to recoil from the touch. Instead, Yuuri closed his mouth and counted his own breaths as Robert watched him carefully.

‘I’m old, kid. But I ain’t dumb,’ Robert said, the words billowing white between them in the cool air. ‘You like this guy?’

‘Ahh,’ Yuuri hissed quietly between his teeth, not wanting to admit to anything. But he could feel his cheeks light up. Traitors.

‘Then go to Moscow,’ Robert said, running a thumb over Yuuri’s bottom lip before pulling away entirely. ‘Don’t come back either. If that’s what you want. Being young is for doing things like that.’

‘You’re not that old,’ Yuuri said, feebly trying to regain some of the flirty banter that had used to be so effortless between them. Robert smirked, bending down to open the door of the cab.

‘I’m too old for you,’ Robert said, gesturing for Yuuri to get into the backseat. Yuuri didn’t know what to say to that, so he said nothing, gracefully folding himself into the cab. Robert bent down, looking into the dark space as Yuuri looked at him right back. ‘Do you know what you want, kid?’

Unbidden, one word came to mind. Victor.

Slowly, Yuuri nodded. Robert put a hand out and it took Yuuri a moment to realise what he was doing. Yuuri reached out, taking Robert’s hand and let Robert shake it. Like the end of a very mannerful business agreement. Perhaps it was.

‘Then go get it.’



Phichit threw his arms up in the final position as the music ended, resounding echoes across the stadium. For one, brief second there was nothing but the sound of his own breathing but suddenly the rink erupted into noise, almost deafening. Phichit sank to his knees, cold and wet barely registering through the heat of his body.

Looking over to the kiss-and-cry, he spotted Celestino holding his phone aloft and smiling so broadly it looked like it was might break him. Phichit grinned back, happiness exploding inside him. He’d done it!

One he was off the rink, Celestino lifted Phichit up into his arms and spun him around.

‘Belíssimo!’ Celestino cried, curly hair spinning right into Phichit’s mouth. Sputtering, Phichit tried to disentangle himself as he caught the faint sound of someone talking over the phone. When he was safely back on the ground, only trembling slightly with the adrenaline, Phichit scrambled for his phone from Celestino’s hand.

‘Yuuri!’ Phichit said, putting the phone to his ear and listening to his friend cheer from the other end.

‘Phichit, you were amazing!’ Yuuri said down the line as Phichit waved cheerily to the cameras that were flashing off to the side. ‘You did Thailand proud! You did me proud! You’re going to take the Grand Prix no problem! Is Ciao-Ciao happy?’

Phichit grinned, face hot with exertion and body shaking as Celestino threw his jersey over him as they both made their way towards the bench for the announcement of the scores. He looked over at Celestino, who was beaming brightly as he too waved at the cameras.

‘Yeah? You think so?’ Phichit said, a little out of breath. Yuuri laughed, saying of course I do! Phichit ran a hand over his face, wiping the sweat. ‘Think I could give Victor a run for his exceptionally large amount of money?’

Yuuri snorted, very unattractively and Phichit felt extremely pleased at hearing it.

‘Very clever,’ Yuuri replied and Phichit could hear the smile. It made his chest warm in a way that Yuuri always managed to. He imagined Yuuri sitting at home, streaming Skate Canada through the obscenely large television Yuuri had bought for them. A very early Christmas present, Yuuri had called it when it had been delivered. 

‘If he takes another holiday, maybe he’ll be too tired out to see me coming? What you think?’

‘Ugh, please stop!’

Phichit laughed, only complaining a little when Celestino took the phone from him as they sat on the bench.

‘Talk to Yuuri after,’ Celestino said, though he was still smiling so brightly that it did little to make Phichit take him seriously. Phichit sat down on the bench, closing his jersey properly and listening out for the score.

‘Chulanont finished fourth in his first event in Skate America! Today could possibly be his first victory! If he wins here, it will put him on the cusp of being the first Thai skater to advance to the Grand Prix Final!

His combined score is 285.76! That’s his top score of the season and gives him the lead over Leroy for the time being!’

‘I hope you’ll all root for me at the Grand Prix Final!’ Phichit said, throwing a peace sign to the camera as Celestino chastised him for being cocky. But Phichit couldn’t help it. Almost perfect his performance had been. He was currently in first place! It would have to be really something for someone at the Rostelecom Cup to throw him off this close to the final.

Phichit took the phone back once they all made their way back to the cool-down room. Yuuri congratulated him again, scolded him for mocking Victor, (typical!) and told Phichit to call him the minute he landed back in Detroit. Phichit promised he would before hanging up, immediately going to Snapchat to take a celebratory selfie.

‘Hey, Phichit!’

Turning to see a very excited Guang-Hong, Phichit barely had time to say hello before said Guang-Hong barrelled into him, almost knocking them both to the floor. This was becoming a habit. Not that Phichit could really do anything but laugh along as Guang-Hong blushed brightly, mumbling a quick apology and another hello.

‘You were so great!’ Guang-Hong said and Phichit felt himself blush despite everything.

‘Thanks, guy! Wanna be in my Snapchat?’ Phichit asked, tilting his phone as Guang-Hong nodded enthusiastically.

Phichit held the phone up, taking a quick snap. It looked brilliant, of course. Guang-Hong had such good skin tone, they didn’t even need a filter! Phichit quickly saved to camera roll. That was photo was too nice. Totally going on Instagram as well.

‘Hey!’

The loud call came from the other side of the room and Phichit turned to see Jean-Jacques Leroy, of all people, waving at himself and Guang-Hong. Guang-Hong made a small squeaking noise, tucking in closer to Phichit, who still had an arm around him from the selfie. Leroy made his way across the room, waving a long arm at them. The purple sequins of his costume caught the light, winking like Leroy himself as he approached. 

‘Chulanont, right?’ Leroy said, coming up to Phichit and standing before him with his hands on his hips. Phichit looked up at him, suddenly very self-conscious of his height.

‘Um, yep,’ Phichit replied, Guang-Hong looking between them both. Leroy stuck out a hand and Phichit looked at it, taking in Leroy’s long, olive fingers before reaching out and taking it, intending to shake. But instead, Leroy pulled Phichit forward, other hand reaching out for Guang-Hong.

‘You were hardly going to take a selfie at Skate Canada without the King himself, were you?’ Leroy teased, placing himself between Phichit and Guang-Hong. Phichit, confused, just shrugged and held his phone up, trying to get all three of them in the frame.

‘Alright, then. Smile!’

Leroy smiled like he skated- full wattage and looking at himself. Phichit made a mental note to tell Yuuri that later, because that was hilarious. Phichit started to upload the photo to his Instagram, selecting the best feature that didn’t turn all their varying skin tones some level of blue. Leroy watched, his blue eyes sparkling. He really was quite good-looking, not that Phichit was going to admit that to the guy’s face. Going by Leroy’s own Instagram, he thought so enough as it was.

That was probably a little mean. Yuuri would likely scold Phichit for that one.

‘Give us a look?’ Leroy asked, already reaching for Phichit’s phone before Phichit even had a chance to say sure. Not that he minded too much. Phichit was proud of his Instagram. Leroy scrolled through, eyebrows together in a look of concentration as he did so. Phichit looked up at him, before glancing to Guang-Hong, who just shrugged, looking equally confused.

Then, Leroy clicked his tongue. He turned the phone, smile on his face, though it looked a little forced if Phichit was being honest.

‘Who’s this? Your boyfriend? He looks nice,’ Leroy said with a tease, turning the phone to show Phichit the selfie he’d taken with Yuuri on the day they moved apartment. Guang-Hong laughed when he saw it and Phichit rubbed the back of his neck, a little sheepish.

‘Ah, no. The bf is for best-friend,’ Phichit said, reaching out for his phone which Leroy did give back to him immediately. Leroy looked down at Phichit with his eyes a little narrowed. Phichit shifted under the scrutiny, not used to it in general and certainly not from Jean-Jacques Leroy of all people. ‘That’s Yuuri. He’s my roommate.’

‘I thought his name was Eros,’ Guang-Hong piped in, big eyes creased in confusion.

Phichit froze. Fuck!

‘Ah-ah, well, um, that’s a- you know, a nickname!’ Phichit stuttered, completely panicking. He’d completely forgotten Guang-Hong knew Yuuri as Eros. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Leroy looked between them, something like but not quite amusement on his face as he did so. ‘A nickname, yeah! Eros is his nickname.’

The word nickname was beginning to lose all meaning and Guang-Hong was looking at Phichit now like he’d grown a second head in his panic. Maybe with any luck, Phichit had actually grown as such so that when Yuuri bit his own one off he might survive.

‘I just thought his parents hated him,’ Guang-Hong said quietly as Phichit closed his phone and tried to shove the thing in his pocket, some insane part of his brain worried he might accidentally call Yuuri and have Yuuri hear this entire nightmare conversation. ‘I don’t know if it being a nickname is worse or better.’

‘Well, you know how it is?’ Phichit said, knowing that such a sentence made absolutely no sense and clearly Guang-Hong agreed with him, going by the tilt of the boy's head. Phichit threw a thumb over his shoulder. ‘I’m going to get a drink of water!’

‘I’ll go with you!’ Leroy announced and Phichit just contained his groan as they both made their way over to the water station in the far corner. Leroy fidgeted a little as he walked. Maybe he was cold without his jersey? Phichit said nothing as they made their way and soon they were both standing awkwardly at the table.

‘So, does your friend skate?’

‘No,’ Phichit said, wondering just how mad Yuuri would be if he found out he’d spilled his real name. Hopefully not all that mad. The skating community was miles away from what Yuuri did anyway. Well, Victor Nikiforov excluded. ‘He likes skating though. Follows the competitions and stuff.’

‘Well, if he’s a fan let him know I say hi,’ Leroy said and that nervous smile was back. Phichit wasn’t sure what that smile meant. ‘What does your friend do then?’

‘Finance,’ Phichit answered automatically and Leroy made a small hum of acknowledgement.

‘Yikes. Sounds boring,’ Leroy said, but his eyes drifted off across the room. ‘Be sure to cheer him up with some skating stories, you know?’

Leroy was famous for not making too much effort with other skaters. Not Victor Nikiforov levels of indifferent, which until Skate America had been pretty impressive. But for Leroy to suddenly just introduce himself, to Phichit of all people? Maybe this was a sign that Phichit really had a chance at the Grand Prix. Victor had ulterior motives for wanting to get to know Phichit. (Which Phichit was totally fine with, because now he had Victor freaking Nikiforov following his Instagram, how wild was that?). But Leroy? What motive could he possibly have other than wanting to know Phichit as a skater?

The thought was deeply complimentary.

‘I’ll be sure to show him our selfie,’ Phichit replied, reaching out and taking a long sip from the nearest water bottle. Leroy watched him for a moment, fidgeting again. Weird, Phichit thought. He always looked so confident in his photos and Snapchats.

‘You’re friends with Victor Nikiforov, right?’ Leroy asked at last and Phichit paused in his drinking, confused.

‘Um. I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but we got on well at Skate America,’ Phichit said carefully, unsure how much he could say without hinting at Yuuri. Phichit really, really didn’t want to get into anymore trouble.

And he definitely didn’t want Yuuri or Victor to get into trouble either.

‘Do you think he’s a good guy?’ Leroy asked and the question was so odd, Phichit asked Leroy to repeat himself.

‘He seems nice, yeah,’ Phichit answered, deeply confused by the turn of the conversation. ‘Why? Do you guys not get on?’

‘Well, we’re true rivals. Victor and I,’ Leroy said, puffing his chest out and it was the closest to the cocky confidence Phichit knew from Youtube and Snapchat. ‘We don’t have to get on. I was just wondering, you know. If he could help you, if you needed it.’

Right. Whatever that meant.

‘Okay. Well, I think my coach is looking for me,’ Phichit said, pointing in a vague direction with absolutely no knowledge of where Celestino was. As he went to leave, Leroy put a hand on Phichit’s shoulder.

‘If you do need any help at this season, let me know,’ Leroy said, suddenly looking very serious. Phichit didn’t say anything, confused and feeling quite uneasy now. Phichit tried to smile brightly, but it was difficult.

‘Okay. Um, thanks!’

As Phichit made his way towards Celestino, who was already boasting about how Phichit was going to attempt a quad in his free-skate should he get to the Grand Prix, he looked back over his shoulder towards Leroy. Leroy was now in the arms of his fiancée, (the announcement had been everywhere and Phichit recognised her instantly). He was smiling that camera-ready smile again, teeth unnervingly white as they waited for him to be called to the ice.

Whatever, Phichit thought, shaking the encounter from his mind. Anyone who betted a marriage on a gold medal of all the crazy things in the world was probably bound to be a bit mental. And besides, what Leroy had offered was actually quite nice, really. If weird. So weird.

But Phichit wasn’t going to begrudge the guy for wanting to help. After all, who was he to turn down someone being nice? 

 


 


To:
vnikiforov@gmail.com
From: e.detroit@e.detroit.us
Subject: Moscow Nov6-8th

Dear Victor,


I accept your invitation to Moscow. I’ll be on flight number BAW135 and arriving in Moscow on Friday November 6th, at approximately 3:45pm Russia time.

Could you please send me the details of where you’d like me to stay? If not, I can arrange my own accommodation.

Would you be adverse to arranging payment for after the engagement? I would like time to work out an appropriate rate and payment plan. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, so I understand if you’d like to pay upfront. But I would prefer if we could arrange for after.

Best regards,
E.


1新しいメッセージ - V

14:55PM Any rules you like, Yuuri. I just want to see you. <3 I’d like you to stay in my hotel, but of course you don’t have to! Anywhere you like, anywhere you’re comfortable. I’m sorry we won’t get a chance to get to St. Petersburg, I’d have loved to introduce you to Makkachin! But I promise you, Moscow is just as beautiful this time of year.

14:58PM I’m looking forward to it. Very much.

14:58PM I can’t wait to see you, Yuuri. There's so much I want to show you. 

 


 

‘Phichit!’ Yuuri said as he walked out of the Planned Parenthood, jumping when he spotted Phichit standing outside. He looked Phichit up and down, spotting his suitcase. He pulled down his surgical mask. ‘You came straight here? You didn’t have to!’

‘Of course I did!’ Phichit said as he pulled down his own mask. He walked up to Yuuri and hugged him tightly. ‘Why do you think I asked you where you were?’

‘You ask me all sorts of things. I just sort of roll with it,’ Yuuri replied, hugging Phichit back. He was wearing the brown coat that Phichit hated, so it was a little awkward but Phichit didn’t care. He was so glad to see Yuuri. Even if he looked terrible with his messy hair and lumpy jeans.

Phichit looked great. Skinny jeans and his favourite red parka, topped off with a nice grey beanie. Even managed some eyeliner before the flight and it had stuck beautifully. If Phichit could make an effort, than Yuuri had no excuse really. Phichit poked Yuuri in the stomach, pointing out his hideous brown jacket. Yuuri rolled his eyes at it.

‘That’s fair!’ Phichit said, releasing Yuuri and giving him a once over. ‘All good?’

‘Just routine check-up. I’m fine,’ Yuuri answered, smiling and leading Phichit away from the clinic and down the street. Phichit followed, tugging his suitcase behind him where it jostled noisily along the uneven path. ‘Where’s Ciao-Ciao? Happy with your silver?’

‘Bed, probably. He celebrated a bit too much last night. The flight definitely didn’t help,’ Phichit said as they walked, listening to Yuuri laugh. Phichit spied the plastic bag Yuuri was carrying. He raised an eyebrow, before reaching out and snatching the bag right out of Yuuri’s gloved hands.

‘Phi-!’

‘Did they give you a goodie-bag?’ Phichit teased, opening the bag with one hand and holding Yuuri off with the other as they stopped to squabble. In the bag there was indeed a collection of items, but most important of them was a box of condoms. A large box of condoms. Phichit looked at Yuuri, delighted. Yuuri groaned. ‘Oh my god, they actually gave you a goodie-bag.’

‘You’re the worst,’ Yuuri sighed, giving up and letting Phichit keep the bag. Phichit fished his phone out of his pocket, opening Snapchat. He took a quick picture, to Yuuri’s protest and added a smirk emoji with the tagline My friend gets all the best swag.

‘Yeah, but you love me,’ Phichit said, giving the bag back and starting to walk again. Yuuri followed, grumbling a little with the top of his ears turning red.

As they walked, Phichit told Yuuri his stories from Skate Canada. Most of which Yuuri knew already, as Phichit had been updating him constantly whenever Celestino had let Phichit keep his phone. Phichit complained that Yuuri would see a lot more if he got an Instagram, but Yuuri brushed him off as always. They turned the corner, heading closer to home and laughing as Phichit began to tell the story of Jean-Jacque Leroy suddenly deciding to be friends.

‘He doesn’t seem too bad,’ Yuuri said as Phichit showed him the selfie they had taken together. Phichit shrugged as they turned onto 2nd Avenue.

‘I suppose. But you haven’t met him. It’s an experience,’ Phichit and Yuuri hummed softly in response, brown eyes moving along the street. ‘Warned me off being friends with your boyfriend.’

‘Who? Victor?’

‘Aha!’ Phichit cried, extremely pleased as Yuuri stammered as he realised what he’d said. ‘So you admit it!’

‘That was a trap and you know it,’ Yuuri whined, shaking his head as they walked along. Then he fell silent, eyes wandering as Phichit tried to show him the rest of his Skate Canada roll.

Phichit put his phone away, watching Yuuri as he bit his bottom lip in thought. Phichit gave Yuuri about fifteen seconds, (which was very generous, mind), before he gave in; ‘Alright. What is it?’

‘Hmm? What’s what?’ Yuuri said distractedly, tucking his chin down into his scarf. Phichit rolled his eyes and punched Yuuri’s shoulder lightly.

‘You. What’s up with you? You were barely listening to me,’ Phichit said, watching as Yuuri’s nose went pink. Phichit waited as Yuuri frowned behind his glasses, waited for Yuuri to try and figure out what he wanted to say. Phichit knew patience was the only way to get what you wanted from Katsuki Yuuri.

Lots and lots and lots of patience. Phichit hoped Victor Nikiforov had it by the bucketful. 

‘Well,’ Yuuri said at length and Phichit had to resist the I knew it! that threatened to erupt out of him. Yuuri looked at Phichit, then away again. ‘There’s something I have to tell you.’

‘Uh-oh,’ Phichit said, only half-joking as going by the last something Yuuri had to tell him, Phichit felt like he should prepare for anything. What was it now? Yuuri fiddled with something in his pocket. ‘What is it this time? Did you kill someone?’

Yuuri balked, squeaking as he shook his head. ‘No, no! It’s nothing too bad. Not really.’

Okay, now Phichit was starting to worry.

‘Yuuri,’ Phichit said carefully as they approached the entrance to their apartment block. ‘What have you done?’

‘VictorinvitedmetoRussiafortheRostelecomCup,’ Yuuri muttered, eyes squeezed shut. Phichit blinked, not catching a single word other than Victor.

‘What?’

Yuuri sighed. ‘Victor. He’s invited me to Moscow to spend the Rostelecom Cup with him.’

‘What?!’

Phichit froze, barely registering Yuuri anymore as those words sunk in.

‘So. Last week, Victor flew across the Atlantic to see you. And now he wants you to do exactly the same thing to see him?’ Phichit asked, wanting to be sure. Yuuri blushed again as he fumbled to get his keys out his pocket.

‘He said he wanted me to watch him skate at the Rostelecom Cup,’ Yuuri said quietly, walking up the entrance and letting Phichit follow him. Phichit thought about that for a moment.

‘He wants you to watch him skate. Victor Nikiforov? Your Victor Nikiforov?’

‘He’s not mine-'

‘So he still doesn’t know about how you literally stalk him, never mind watch him skate anyway?’ Phichit said and Yuuri whined pathetically. ‘Or does he and is this his way of telling you that he’s totally cool with that? Because I know he’s extra but this is a bit extreme, Yuuri.’

‘Phichit,’ Yuuri whimpered as he held the door open for Phichit to walk into the foyer, suitcase hopping off the step. ‘Don't be stupid. Of course not.’

‘You still haven't told him?’ Phichit said incredulously as Yuuri shut the door with a definite snap. ‘Yuuri, you can’t keep that up. It isn’t fair.’

‘I don’t tell clients about my life, Phichit,’ Yuuri said sternly as they made their way to lift. Phichit scoffed before he could stop himself.

‘Are you actually going to try and tell me you think Victor is like every other client?’ Phichit got his answer in Yuuri’s red face and the way his eyes refused to meet Phichit’s own. ‘Why did he invite you to Russia?’

‘I told you. To see him skate,’ Yuuri said, pushing the call button for the lift with more force than was necessary. Phichit could see Yuuri was tensing up, could see the nervousness budding inside him. But Phichit didn’t want to back down. This was important.

‘Are you sure that’s all?’ Phichit said, knowing he sounded nervous himself. Yuuri still wouldn’t look at him, like he always refused to do so when he was nervous. Instead, Yuuri’s brown eyes were focused on the door of the lift. ‘This doesn’t seem very normal, Yuuri.’

‘I’ve been away for work before,’ Yuuri said and Phichit frowned.

‘Yeah, okay. But this is Russia, Yuuri! It’s really far away and are you sure you can, well..’

Phichit didn’t want to say it but Yuuri said it for him.

‘Am I sure I trust Victor?’

Phichit thought of the photos on his phone. He knew how Victor looked in those photos. He knew how Yuuri looked, too. If it had been any other situation, any other life where Yuuri and Victor had ended up together like normal people, Phichit would probably be all for this. It was a bit insane, requesting Yuuri fly off to Moscow of all places, but Victor seemed a tad like that from what Phichit knew of him. But this wasn’t a normal situation and Yuuri wasn’t a normal person. Phichit wasn’t exactly sure why he felt so uneasy. If anything, the presence of the money and the boundaries of Yuuri’s job surely made him safer than if he just ran off to Russia with some stranger.

But…

‘Do you? Trust Victor?’ Phichit asked, because that was what was in important. Phichit liked Victor and he truly felt that Victor’s feelings towards Yuuri were good ones, but if there was any part of Yuuri that was nervous, or unsure, or anything about Victor then Phichit wanted to know immediately. Yuuri could probably take care of himself, but he didn’t have to.

He had Phichit.

‘Yes,’ Yuuri said and it was the strongest thing he’d said so far. He looked over at Phichit, brown eyes blazing behind his glasses. ‘I really do. If he wants me to go, then I’d like to. I’d like to see him skate.’

‘You can’t believe that’s all he asked you over for,’ Phichit said, shaking his head as the lift arrived. ‘That can’t be all.’

‘Well, you know what I do. It’s not all he wants me for ,’ Yuuri said with a snap and Phichit was so taken aback it rendered him silent. Asides from the one drunken evening, Yuuri had never referenced explicitly what he did as an escort to Phichit. To hear him do so, in regards to Victor and to do so with such a tone- something struck hot inside of Phichit and it ignited his impatience with Yuuri.

‘This is so crazy,’ Phichit said, knowing he sounded frustrated but he was just that. With Yuuri and his stubbornness. ‘Why can’t you just admit that you like him? Can’t you see he likes you?’

‘It’s not like that,’ Yuuri said weakly, stepping into the lift. ‘He’s not the first client to ask me away for the weekend. That’s what the rich ones do.’

Something about that sentence sat uneasy inside of Phichit. He tried again.

‘But he’s not asking you away for sex. He wants to share his competition with you. And he’s not paying you for it, right?’ Phichit said, trying to sound more understanding. Yuuri shifted awkwardly on his feet.

‘He offered. I mean, when he suggested it he mentioned my website…’ Yuuri said, trailing off quietly. Phichit waited. ‘I haven’t given him a price yet.’

‘Why not?’ Phichit asked, curious. Yuuri pulled at his surgical mask, fingers twisting the elastic band nervously. Phichit suddenly understood. ‘You don’t want to. You don’t want this to be work.’

Yuuri said nothing, but Phichit knew he was right.

‘Well, that’s good, isn’t it?’ Phichit said, smiling though Yuuri still looked deeply troubled. ‘You like him. He obviously likes you. So why not go to Moscow as his-’ Phichit faltered, searching for the right word. ‘-friend? Maybe give it shot, at least?’

Yuuri sighed heavily, like Phichit was being particularly annoying and it grated right across Phichit’s nerves. Yuuri was being such a baby, really! Phichit was only trying to help, trying to show Yuuri that accepting Victor’s offer as an escort wasn’t the only option. Phichit severely doubted Victor wanted Yuuri there as an escort anyway, going by the look he gave Yuuri when he seemed to think no one was looking. But getting Yuuri to see that seemed to be like pulling teeth.

Like nearly everything with Yuuri, this also seemed to require patience. But Phichit was tired and he was annoyed because Yuuri was just being dense for the sake of it now, he was convinced.

‘I can’t do that. It would be careless,’ Yuuri said at last as the lift arrived on their floor. He got out, not waiting for Phichit this time.

‘And you don’t think letting the man you’re in love with pay you for sex isn’t a tad in the realm of careless as well?’ Phichit called after him and Yuuri turned on his heel, shoving a hand straight up to Phichit’s mouth and covering it roughly.

‘Shush! Are you crazy?’ Yuuri said, eyes flitting around the empty hallway. He was face was taut nerves, mouth downturned and Phichit felt guilt pool inside him. Speaking of careless. ‘You cannot just- just say things like that! What if someone heard you?’

Phichit knew Yuuri was right and the shame he felt threatened to overwhelm him.

‘Jeez, I’m sorry, Yuuri,’ Phichit said when Yuuri released him. He reached out towards Yuuri, but Yuuri turned away again, face stern as he glared at Phichit. ‘I didn’t mean to. I just… I don’t think you’re being very smart about this. That’s all.’

‘You know I’ve done this for a long time, I don’t need you to tell me what to do,’ Yuuri snapped and Phichit tried to contain his groan. This was so Yuuri. Internalising everything, ignoring the problem. If Yuuri hadn’t quit skating he could’ve gone into the hundred-metre dash, what with the speed he ran from his problems with.

‘I’m not trying to tell you what to do,’ Phichit said, hearing the exhaustion in his voice. Yuuri narrowed his eyes before turning and heading down the hall silently. Phichit sighed to himself, tugging his suitcase dejectedly along behind him as they made their way to their apartment.

Yuuri opened the door and headed straight towards the kitchen, before he paused in the hall and turned around towards the coat hooks by the door. Yuuri could never just leave his coat lying around. It had always made Phichit feel so self-conscious, as his own clothes ended up anywhere and everywhere. He'd been away for the weekend, but Phichit knew he'd left a hooide strewn somewhere in the living room. It was a talent really, how contained Yuuri kept himself.

Phichit found himself watching as Yuuri peeled his coat off, revealing the sweater that Victor had given him that night at Skate America hanging over his body. It was a little long, sleeves bunched, but Phichit knew it instantly. Yuuri didn’t mention it, instead kicking his shoes off and bending down to put them on the shoe rack. Phichit rolled his eyes.

Like, c’mon.

‘Okay,’ Phichit started and Yuuri straightened up, blinking at Phichit with the eyes Phichit knew so well by now. ‘I promise to leave you alone about it. I won’t question or mock any of your decisions. But you have to tell me, right now, what you plan to do and why you’re doing it.’

Phichit pointed a finger across the space between them.

‘And no lying. You promised me.’

Yuuri opened his mouth and then closed it again, pink lips pouting. He tugged at the sleeves of Victor’s jumper, pulling the edges of them over his fingers. He crossed his arms, every single part of him screaming that he was uncomfortable and the sympathy Phichit always felt when faced with an anxious Yuuri hit him as it always did, but Phichit held firm. Phichit would support Yuuri no matter what. But he wanted to know what he was supporting regardless.

‘I-’ Yuuri started, then stopped. His bit his lip again, shifting from one socked foot to the other. ‘I want to go. I told him I would go.’

‘Why do you want to go?’

‘Because… Well, because he’s Victor Nikiforov and he asked me!’ Yuuri said, squeaking a little and looking down at his feet. ‘I want to see him skate again. In person. And when he asked, I just- I couldn’t say no.’

Phichit listened patiently, starting to unzip his own parka and reaching over to hang it up. Yuuri shuffled out of his way, but Phichit reached out to stop him. He held Yuuri’s shoulder lightly, not wanting to make Yuuri feel like he had to stay if he didn’t want to. But Phichit wanted Yuuri to know that he was here, he was listening. Phichit wanted Yuuri to know he was trying to understand.

‘I told him not to pay me,’ Yuuri admitted quietly, so quietly it was almost like he didn’t want Phichit to hear him.

Phichit’s mouth opened in shock. ‘I’m sorry, what?’

‘Or at least, I told him not to do so yet!’ Yuuri said, looking up at Phichit with panicked eyes. He pulled further into himself, shoulders tight and arms even tighter. Phichit frowned.

‘Why didn’t you say in the first place?’ he asked, watching as Yuuri shifted uncomfortably.

‘I wasn’t sure how to explain,’ Yuuri said, worrying his lip again. Phichit spotted one his hands begin to dig into the bulk of his opposite arm. Phichit reached out, carefully pulling Yuuri’s fingers off himself. Phichit had seen that before. Sometimes Yuuri would bruise.

‘It’s okay. I understand,’ Phichit said, though he wasn’t entirely sure whether he did or not. ‘You don't want this to be a professional thing between you anymore. That makes sense, Yuuri.’ Phichit looked Yuuri over again, now holding his hand in earnest. ‘You're allowed to want that.’

‘I want to see how it'll be without the money between us,’ Yuuri continued, ignoring Phichit. He kept his gaze on the floor, but his fingers tightened over Phichit’s.

‘How does Victor feel about it?’ Phichit asked and Yuuri looked up, away and then back again very nervously.

‘I didn’t explain it to him. I told him I was working out a payment plan, so we could sort it out after the Rostelecom Cup,’ Yuuri explained and Phichit spluttered manically.

‘Yuuri! Are you kidding?’ Phichit said, unable to contain his shock. Yuuri jumped at his outburst, frowning right back at Phichit.

‘You were the one who told me to stop accepting his money!’ Yuuri retorted and Phichit groaned in frustration.

‘I meant you should both try being together like normal people!’ Phichit said exasperatedly.

‘That’s what I’m doing!’ Yuuri replied manically and Phichit shook his head.

‘No, it isn’t, Yuuri,’ Phichit said sternly before he laughed shrilly. ‘You’re testing him. It’s cruel, probably borderline sociopathic! That’s not fair, Yuuri. He doesn’t even know.’

Yuuri snatched his hand out of Phichit’s, despite Phichit’s idle laughter. He looked stricken and Phichit suddenly felt like maybe his joking hadn’t been the best method of derailing the tension. Yuuri stepped back, arms coming down by his side stubbornly. He glared at Phichit with his deep brown eyes, round cheeks pale.

‘You said you’d be on my side!’ Yuuri threw out and Phichit ran a hand over his face, feeling extremely out of his depth.

‘Of course I’m on your side, Yuuri,’ he said, waving his hands in front of him like he could somehow show Yuuri how insane he sounded. ‘But this is crazy! It isn’t fair on Victor. Or you. You need to be honest.’

‘Right. Because being honest has worked out so well in my favour so far,’ Yuuri retorted bitterly and Phichit felt stung. Before Phichit could say anything else, Yuuri turned and headed down the other way towards his bedroom. ‘There’s curry in the fridge.’

With that, Yuuri went into his bedroom and snapped the door shut behind him, leaving Phichit to stand awkwardly in the hall and go over exactly what had just happened. Because Phichit wasn’t entirely he understood.

Feeling tears well up in the corner of his eyes, Phichit grabbed his suitcase and retreated to his own room. Once he was there, Phichit regarded the now unpacked space. Books and posters. Clothes, everywhere. Yuuri had moved his hamsters to his room, placing them on a desk Phichit hadn’t had before he left. Yuuri must’ve bought it for him. Affection flooded through Phichit, leaking out in small, hot tears. Phichit threw himself down onto his bed, burying his face into the embroidered pillow he’d brought from home.

This was terrible. He and Yuuri had never fought before, not really. Never more than a small roommate spat and even then, it was usually resolved fast enough. They could never stay mad at each other for long. Even Celestino used to joke that his own marriage didn’t work as well as Phichit and Yuuri did together. But the last few weeks, Phichit had felt like he’d been walking on eggshells. Losing fight after fight without knowing exactly how he was starting them.

Phichit thought back over the conversation, flinching in on himself as he thought of all the things he said that could’ve been too harsh. But more than anything, Phichit felt frustrated with Yuuri’s stubbornness. Phichit was right. He knew he was right. Yuuri liked Victor, more than that quite probably and he wasn’t being smart about it. The old Yuuri would always have listened to Phichit. Not that Phichit really understood what that meant anyway.

After a while, Phichit forced himself to stop wallowing and went over to check on his babies. He and Yuuri would get through this. They had gotten through everything else before. Phichit had meant what he’d told Yuuri- he was Yuuri’s best-friend and he would support Yuuri no matter what. But Phichit wasn’t going to stop protecting Yuuri either. Even from his own stupidity.

Phichit was interrupted in retrieving a hamster to cuddle by a knock the door. Phichit called for Yuuri to come in.

Yuuri opened the bedroom door, meeting Phichit’s gaze immediately. Yuuri’s eyes were red, as were his cheeks and his glasses askew. Phichit sighed, opening his arms and Yuuri made his way across the room and into Phichit’s waiting hug. Phichit hugged Yuuri tightly as Yuuri wrapped his arms around Phichit’s waist.

‘I’m sorry-’

‘Sorry.’

Yuuri looked up at Phichit, blinking tears. ‘Why are you sorry? I was the one being selfish.’ Then Yuuri reached up, brushing a fingertip just under Phichit's left eye. 'I ruined your eyeliner, too.'

‘You weren’t being selfish,’ Phichit said quietly, releasing Yuuri so Yuuri could sit himself down on the bed, facing Phichit with his deep eyes. ‘I was- I don’t know. I think I’m still figuring this out, bud.’ Phichit tried to smile. 'And I can fix the eyeliner later.'

‘I understand,’ Yuuri said, before he turned and lay himself down on the bed. He reached up and pulled Phichit’s pillow down to rest on. Phichit smiled, happy at the reminder of their intimacy. If Victor Nikiforov ever got a chance to see how open Yuuri could be when he allowed himself to be, Phichit wondered if the man would really appreciate it for the special thing that it was. Getting Katsuki Yuuri to open to you was no small feat.

'Am I a sociopath?' Yuuri asked, looking up from the embroidered pillow. Phichit sighed, finally taking pity.

'Sociopath? No,' Phichit replied, getting up from leaning against the desk to walk over and sit on the bed. Yuuri turned over onto his back, brown eyes wide with worry as he looked up at Phichit. 'Neurotic, yes.'

'I think-' Yuuri started, then stopped. He raised his hand, thumb going between his teeth in thought. He looked away and then back. Phichit knew this dance. 'I think I like him.'

'No shit,' Phichit smiled, feigning surprise. Yuuri covered his face with his hands.

'What am I going to do? I can't like him. I can't allow myself to like him,’ he mumbled from beneath his palms.

'Haven't you had a crush on him since you were, like, ten?' Phichit asked, as Yuuri sat up, shoulders down and hair sticking up. With his eyes shining from behind his glasses, he looked the very picture of deflated.

'That was different. I didn't know him then,' Yuuri said, staring straight ahead. Phichit only hesitated for the briefest moment.

'As opposed to now, where you're just banging him?' Phichit said, enjoying Yuuri's squeal of protest at the language. Honestly, Phichit hadn't been able to wrap his head around what Yuuri had told him for so many reasons. Many, many reasons. But this is what stumped Phichit the most. How Katsuki Yuuri managed to shake off his crippling awkwardness to not only have sex, but to have sex for money?

That was beyond anything. Even Phichit’s understanding met its limit. Though Yuuri was certainly pushing that limit with each and every passing day.

'It's not like that,' Yuuri said quietly once he'd stopped blustering. 'It should be, but it isn't.'

'I don't follow,' Phichit replied, leaning back against the headboard. Yuuri tugged his legs up to his chest, wrapping his arms around them, like he was trying to make himself smaller.

'There should be boundaries,' Yuuri said, voice a little muffled as he spoke into his folded knees. Phichit frowned.

'Like to keep you safe?'

'Well, yeah. But I meant more between myself and Victor,' Yuuri said, sadness evident in his tone. Phichit's heart twisted in sympathy. Yuuri looked so miserable. 'Neither us can afford to get confused. He pays me, Phichit. We have to remember that. Victor's a client. I'm a service.'

There was something about that phrase that hit Phichit deep in his stomach. Not for the first time in discussing Yuuri's profession, Phichit found himself feeling disgust. Not at escorting, but at how Yuuri regarded himself. Revulsion at how his friend, his beautiful and talented friend, could consider himself a thing . Like he is was somehow worth less than the people that hired him. No matter what he did, Phichit never seemed to be able to pull Yuuri away from that. It hurt.

‘What we have- how he feels, none of it is real,’ Yuuri said quietly, muffling his words. ‘He’s not the first client to get confused.’

‘What does that mean?’ Phichit asked, suddenly very worried. The image of some tall, scary man following Yuuri through the streets rose unbidden. Phichit moved a little closer, like he could somehow protect Yuuri from this imaginary person.

‘I just mean with this job. People can get confused by the fantasy,’ Yuuri explained, now looking straight up at the ceiling. ‘I have to be careful. I just have to remind myself that everything we do together is because he hired me to do it.’

Phichit tried to manage it, tried to say nothing. He couldn't help it though.

‘You need to talk to Victor. Not now, if you don’t want to. But maybe when you get to Moscow,’ Phichit said, running a hand through Yuuri’s hair absently as he said it. Yuuri buried his face into his knees.

‘What if I don't like the answer?’

‘That's a risk you're going to have to take.’

‘What if wants to pay me?’

'Then just don't let him?' Phichit suggested. Yuuri sighed and Phichit already knew he was fighting a losing battle.

'It doesn't work like that. If Victor only wants me as a luxury, then that's that,' Yuuri said quietly, words a little stern. He was tired of Phichit's naivety, Phichit could tell. The frustration started to build, but Phichit held his tongue. 'I wouldn't be surprised anyway. He isn't interested in who I am off the clock. Not really, he just likes the mystery. I mean, look at me. Look at my life. Not exactly up there with his glittering existence, is it?'

'But hiring a hooker is?' Phichit said before he could stop himself, frustration bubbling over and knowing when the words were halfway out of his mouth that he had gone too far and instantly regretting it.

Yuuri's head snapped up, eyes burning. He straightened out, long legs languid and his expression suddenly cool. Like a switch had been flipped.

Phichit hadn't seen Yuuri angry very often. Yuuri didn't do ‘angry’ so much as annoyance. And even then, nine times out of ten it seemed to be aimed at himself, usually for some mistake in training or ever rarer, cooking. But now, today of all days, Phichit had successfully made Yuuri angry twice. Phichit really wasn't sure of his position, all of a sudden.

'So that’s what you think of me?' Yuuri asked, eyes very dark and voice even more so. Phichit raised his hands in surrender.

‘No! No, of course not-!’

‘I knew it. I knew it,’ Yuuri said, fisting his hands into the comforter on either side of his hips. He leaned out of Phichit’s reach and looked at Phichit with his eyes burning. ‘You said you were fine with what I do, but you’re not.’

‘That’s not true!’ Phichit said desperately, but Yuuri was already speaking again.

‘I should never have told you,’ Yuuri continued, eyes beginning to water and Phichit started to panic, wondering madly how he kept managing to fuck this conversation up. ‘You think I’m a whore.’

‘Yuuri!’ Phichit cried, shocked and feeling sick in his stomach. ‘Of course I don’t!’

‘That’s what you called me,’ Yuuri said darkly and Phichit frowned, confused. He thought back, but couldn’t think of a single moment in which he’d ever called Yuuri such a thing. As if reading Phichit’s mind, Yuuri added; ‘The day I told you. You called me a whore.’

Phichit thought back and shook his head quickly. ‘No. No, I didn’t. I definitely didn’t, Yuuri. You can’t really-’

‘I heard you!’ Yuuri said, sounding a little bit manic. He closed his eyes and the tears that had been building leaked from the corners of his eyes, down his cheeks into two clear lines. ‘You thought I didn’t understand.’

Suddenly, Phichit understood.

‘Yuuri, I love you. You know I do. But your Thai is terrible!’ Phichit said hurriedly, trying to get Yuuri to understand. It was true. Where Phichit had managed to get some basic Japanese, Yuuri had struggled more than he had any right to with Thai in Phichit’s opinion. Yuuri tsked, clearly not believing Phichit.

‘I know what weṣ̄yā means. I’m not that dumb,’ Yuuri snapped and Phichit flushed terribly, shame flooding through him as the memory came back. He should never had said it, but he didn’t mean it like that! He’d just been surprised, he’d been ranting- it had been the first word that popped into his head and Phichit really hadn’t thought Yuuri would understand him.

Not that it made it right, or anything. But… ugh, this was just so confusing. Phichit tried to apologise again, but Yuuri seemed to be having none of it. He waved a hand to try and shut Phichit up, speaking over Phichit when Phichit ignored the warning.

‘Just stop, please,’ Yuuri said, holding a hand up and silencing Phichit at last. They both sat stewing, the hamsters squeaking from their new desk. Phichit hadn’t even had a chance to thank Yuuri for the purchase. ‘It’s fine. I get it. I knew this would happen anyway.’

‘You did not!’ Phichit said, perhaps a little more desperation evident in his tone than was required. But Yuuri was shutting down and it wasn’t fair. Phichit hated when Yuuri shut him out like this. ‘I’m fine with what you do, Yuuri. Really, I am. I believe you when you say you’re being safe. But I just… I don’t know. I think this thing you have with Victor, it’s not like your regular work, you know?’

‘Clearly,’ Yuuri snorted derisively and Phichit felt his blood turn cold. ‘You think I’m his hooker.’

'Look, Yuuri,' Phichit started, fumbling terribly as Yuuri frowned from behind his glasses, regret instant once again at ever having such a thing. Hearing Yuuri refer to himself that way, it twisted parts of Phichit into knots so tight it threatened to break him. 'I- I didn't mean you , you know? I just meant that maybe, I don't know, maybe you're putting Victor on too high a pedestal.'

'I'm tired,' Yuuri said suddenly, sliding off the bed and standing quickly. He slipped out of Phichit’s reach easily, as fluid and cold as he was on the ice. 'I think I'm going to go to bed.'

It was only just gone five in the afternoon.

'Yuuri, wait!' Phichit rose to follow him, but Yuuri held a hand up to signal him to stop. Which Phichit did, but only because he was afraid not to.

Yuuri looked so mad. This was different to when Yuuri would kick the ice with his skates, or even when Yuuri would get so fed up he’d actually growl at whatever had irked him. This emotion was so deep it seemed to change the very shape of his face and Phichit felt panic ignite inside him. Yuuri looked like a different person and Phichit had never felt more out of his depth.

‘We should talk about this-’ Phichit started but Yuuri scoffed. It sounded cruel, even to Phichit and it made his stomach turn.

‘No,’ Yuuri said and to Phichit’s horror, he heard the tears before they started to form. ‘No, I don't think so. We’ve talked so much and you just- kuso.’

The swearing sounded alien in Yuuri’s mouth, despite his native tongue. Yuuri hated swearing, only ever electing to do so in Japanese in the hope that no one would know he was cursing at all. Phichit shifted awkwardly on the bed, unsure of what to do but make sure Yuuri did not leave the room as upset as he was. As upset as he was with Phichit.

‘You just don't get it,’ Yuuri said at last, Victor’s sweater gripped in front of him like a shield. His fingers were white, he was holding it so tightly. Yuuri looked away from Phichit, mouth downturned and tears still sliding down his cheeks. Phichit got up from the bed. ‘I should never have told you.’

‘Yuuri, I’m on your side!’ Phichit pleaded desperately, daring to take a step forward as Yuuri made a small sniffling sound.

‘I think,’ Yuuri said slowly, voice thick. He looked up at Phichit, face determined despite the tears. ‘Moscow is coming at a good time for us. Give us both some space to think.’

Before Phichit could say anything, Yuuri turned and left. Phichit sat, frozen for a moment and listening to the noise of Yuuri shuffling outside the bedroom door. Then there was the sound of the front door clicking open and closing again, causing Phichit to wake up from his daze. He threw his bedroom door open and stared ahead at the front door and coat hooks. Yuuri’s coat and shoes were missing.

Phichit knew where he’d gone. When Yuuri was hurting, he would always retreat to the rink and try to skate his worries away. Phichit knew this. He knew that if he left now, he’d probably catch Yuuri just leaving the foyer of the complex.

But Phichit did not do that. Instead, he padded his way down to the kitchen to heat some of the curry Yuuri had made him. He didn’t feel very hungry, but it was weirdly comforting to go through the motions of setting up a meal for himself. A meal Yuuri had prepared for him. Yuuri didn’t cook that often, but that he did cook often tasted great. Yuuri had always complimented his mother for his cooking.

Once the food was ready, Phichit stood at the island of the kitchen and ate slowly. He took his time finishing his meal, took even longer to clean up. He kept pulling his phone out, checking the time. An hour became two, then three and Phichit was still home alone, watching Netflix on the couch in the sitting room on the ridiculous television. He could go to his bedroom, be more comfortable. But Phichit was waiting. Waiting for Yuuri to come home.

In the end, Phichit fell asleep on the couch. If Yuuri came home, it didn’t wake him.



The next five days passed in a strange blur.

Celestino had Phichit training almost twice as much, anticipation of confirmation of his place in the Grand Prix Final driving them forward. Phichit would leave early, knowing Yuuri was still in bed as Yuuri always slept in late. By the time Phichit was finished with training, showered and on his way home, Yuuri had already left for work. Where ever or whatever that entailed, as Phichit wasn’t being told a damn thing. As a testament to his depression, Phichit hadn’t uploaded to Instagram at all. Several friends had sent concerned messages.

Yuuri had been silent for the last five days, their one or two moments of intersection so cold that Phichit still carried the chill they gave him long into the day. Yuuri would say nothing as he passed Phichit in the hall, wouldn’t knock on Phichit’s door in the night when he couldn’t sleep for whatever reason. Phichit knew why he himself wasn’t sleeping.

‘Phichit, what’s up with you?’ Celestino had asked on Wednesday, after Phichit had gone through Shall We Skate? For the fifth time, almost throwing himself so badly in a fall that Celestino had banned him from skating for the rest of the day, just in case.

‘It’s nothing,’ Phichit had said, feeling a little bad for snapping but Celestino had been nothing but kind. He’d patted Phichit on the back, commenting that it was natural to get nervous before the Grand Prix.

‘At least you have Yuuri to cheer you up!’ he’d said and Phichit had wanted to cry.

The only thing that kept Phichit going was when he would get home from training, Yuuri would have some form of dinner waiting for him. Salad from the bar down the street. Lean chicken and steamed vegetables with red curry from Phichit’s favourite Thai restaurant. Edamame beans with salt and donburi one evening, something Yuuri had obviously made himself by the looks of the lopsided cuts of carrot and cabbage. That evening Phichit had cried, just the smallest bit with relief.

Yuuri was angry, which Phichit could understand. But the love was still there and if it wasn’t for that, Phichit was sure he would’ve broken entirely. Died from a broken heart, signed his will and left his poor orphaned hamsters to Yuuri.

Now it was Thursday evening and Phichit had requested the day off from Celestino, who agreed that Phichit needed a break. But Phichit had really wanted the day because he didn’t want to miss Yuuri before he left for Moscow.

Yuuri had ignored Phichit for most of the day, sticking to his room exclusively. Phichit walked by every now and then, just to check Yuuri hadn’t snuck out while Phichit had been ambling about the kitchen. The quiet rummaging from inside always calmed Phichit’s worries, so Phichit waited throughout the day for Yuuri to come out.

Which Yuuri was currently doing, going by the noise down the hall.

Phichit leapt off the couch, abandoning his phone as he headed straight down the hall. He caught Yuuri leaning against the wall, slipping his trainers on from the rack. Yuuri looked up, brown eyes blinking behind his glasses and hair covered by the cat-eared beanie Phichit had gotten him for his twenty-second birthday. He was also wearing that stupid, brown coat.

Phichit walked up slowly, like he was approaching a particularly skittish animal. Yuuri finished with his shoes, standing up straight and regarding Phichit with a very guarded look on his face. Phichit stood in front of him, suddenly unsure of what exactly his plan was.

Eventually, Phichit just thought sod it.

‘You’re my best-friend, Yuuri,’ Phichit said and Yuuri’s mouth opened, just a bit. The way it always did when he was surprised. ‘You’re also the best person I know. If you want to do this, then know that I’ll help you. Anyway I can. Even if I’m not good at it. I’ll… do better. I’ll do whatever. Just don’t- just don’t go anywhere I can’t follow you, I guess.’

Phichit stopped his rambling, rocking on the balls of his feet before stopping. He threw his arms up in defeat.

‘So, there. That’s it.’

Yuuri stared at Phichit for a long time. His beanie was on a little low, a tad lopsided too so the ears were crooked. He blinked a few times, mouth still open, and then he was moving. In two short steps, Yuuri had his arms around Phichit in a very tight hug. Phichit was relieved, hugging Yuuri back a little too hard going by the small oof he got in response. But he couldn’t help it.

It wasn’t fixed. Definitely not. Phichit knew that. But he couldn’t have let Yuuri go thinking that Phichit wasn’t there for him.

If Yuuri was really going to Moscow to give Victor a proper chance, then he needed to do so knowing that Phichit would be there for him no matter what. Even if Yuuri was still angry, still unsure- because Phichit could tell by the silence he was getting as Yuuri pulled away and arranged his suitcase and leather satchel around himself, that Yuuri was still angry. Even then, Phichit wanted Yuuri to know.

‘See you!’ Phichit called out as Yuuri left the apartment. Before he left, Yuuri smiled weakly and gave Phichit a small wave.

Phichit smiled back, but his heart was heavy. He really hoped Victor Nikiforov was worth it.

Chapter Text

14:58PM I can’t wait to see you, Yuuri. There's so much I want to show you.

Sent!

Victor was leaning back against the awning of the rink, staring at his phone, which still hadn’t pinged with a reply from Yuuri.

Victor really was trying not to push. He understood that it may have been a bit unorthodox to invite Yuuri to Moscow, but he had never been more certain of something than he was that having Yuuri there would be… Well, to be honest, Victor wasn’t entirely sure. But it had felt right to ask and Victor was certain he’d seen in Yuuri’s face when he had done so that Yuuri wanted to come.

Yuuri was opening himself up more and more, revealing a quiet insecurity to him that Victor found endearing. Victor wanted to explore the parts of Yuuri that Yuuri kept so well hidden beneath silk and teasing glances. There was something beautiful there, something fragile. Victor wanted to show Yuuri that he could be trusted to keep such a thing safe, if given the chance. And Victor always explained things better on the ice than in person. The Rostelecom Cup could be the perfect chance.

Victor sighed, tapping his home-button again to see his lockscreen was still blank of messages. Maybe he’d asked too much, had pushed Yuuri or gotten too excited. But there was simply no way he could get away to America again before the Grand Prix. Yakov wouldn’t allow it. Yuri wouldn’t allow it. But Victor couldn’t shake the feeling that there was some great timer somewhere, counting down and he was running out of time to get closer to Yuuri.

He couldn’t explain it, but Victor felt an unusual disquiet in him when he thought of not having Yuuri in his life. There was something about leaving Yuuri behind that made Victor’s heart ache, made his stomach turn over with doubt. Doubt was not something Victor was familiar with. Impulsive as it may have been, there had been nothing to stop Victor from asking Yuuri to come to Moscow in response to that.

And finally, Yuuri had said yes.

Yuuri had requested not to be paid upfront. Initially, Victor had taken that as a good sign. A step away from their usual arrangement. Without the money, maybe Victor would be given more a chance to see Yuuri for who he really was. Like Yuuri would feel less inclined to give Victor a specific version of himself. But the longer Yuuri didn’t reply to Victor, the more Victor’s confidence in that first thought began to shake.

Victor glanced around the rink, trying to distract himself. He watched as Yakov hollered over the rink-wall down at the other end of the rink at the small group of juniors. How relieved he was not to be in that position anymore. Biting his lip, Victor absently kicked his skate against the ice, gold blade winking in the afternoon light that poured through the large windows of the rink. Another look at the phone. Still nothing.

Victor tried to rationalise. It was still early back in Detroit, very early for Yuuri going by what Victor knew of him. Yuuri probably fell back asleep. That’s what Victor told himself, or tried to tell himself. But the niggling thought that maybe Yuuri’s request was really a way for Yuuri to back out if he wanted to, without any hindrance, stuck in Victor’s brain stubbornly.

Not that there was anything wrong with that. Victor didn’t want Yuuri to feel he had to do anything. But Victor really, really hoped Yuuri had wanted to…

‘Vitya!’ Yakov bellowed across the rink and Victor resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Victor’s name had been yelled so much over the last few weeks that it had even begun to lose meaning to Victor himself. ‘Get out here and warm up before I tell the ISU you’re retiring due to lack of will!’

‘Da, da,’ Victor sighed, carefully zipping his phone into the pocket of his sweats. Most skaters didn’t bring their phone to the ice in case it would get damaged if they fell. But Victor never fell.

‘Ah, Victor, you look so miserable!’ Mila said, skating in smooth circles in the centre of the rink as Victor glided up to her. She crossed her narrow arms, hips canted. The pose struck a memory of Yuuri through Victor, the way his body moved when he danced. Victor felt his heart twist, but he smiled anyway.

‘Not at all, Mila,’ he said, turning on one of his skates easily so he steered around her in one, wide circle. ‘Just thinking about my short-program.’

Mila’s blue eyes widened, plucked eyebrows raising. ‘You’re changing it again?’

Victor spun into a delicate halt, skates scratching across the surface in a whisper. He tossed his head, fringe flaring and biting at his cheeks. With a shrug, Victor gave Mila another smile; ‘How else am I supposed to keep it fresh for the audience?’

‘You really give yourself too much work,’ Mila said with a pout, shaking her head so her red curls bobbed around her cheeks. Victor laughed at that, unable to stop himself.

‘If only Yakov shared your opinion.’

‘Coach loves you,’ Mila replied, pouting in earnest this time. ‘It so unfair, really.’

Victor didn’t know what to say to that, so he said nothing, turning again to start doing some laps around the half of the rink they’d been granted. As he moved along the ice, Victor tried not to think about Yuuri. But he quickly found it was impossible. Every push Victor gave, every swing of his arm- were these things Yuuri knew as well as Victor did? Yuuri had let slip he was a fan and never had Victor been more aware of his own skating. Moving in steady steps and glides, Victor couldn’t help but wonder if Yuuri ever wondered what it felt like to move like Victor could move.

Victor would offer to show him, if Yuuri wanted it.

Victor’s thoughts were interrupted by the loud chime of his phone going off, startling him so he wobbled a little in his skates as he skidded to a halt. With one steady kick backwards, Victor pushed himself towards the awning to take his phone out.

1 Новые сообщения - Yuuri

15:31PM Sorry. I was in the shower. I’ve never been to Moscow, so I’ll be relying on you to show me everything anyway. To be honest though, the thing I’m most excited for is seeing you skate. I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully. You always do.

Some great, powerful thing swelled in Victor like a tide and it threatened to drown him as he read the words, smile coming unbidden as he tried to imagine Yuuri watching him, pictured him standing at the kiss-and-cry. What a thing that would be.

‘I know that smile,’ Mila said from somewhere and Victor looked up from his phone to see her skating over to him, lips quirked in a grin as she approached. Mila turned in fluid motion, momentum carrying her backwards to the rink-wall where she bumped to a halt. ‘That’s a boyfriend smile.’

Victor didn’t even try to deny it as he typed out a response to Yuuri. ‘What’s a boyfriend smile?’

‘You know, the smile someone gets when their boyfriend is around. Or texts, by the looks of it.’

‘Hmm,’ Victor said, knowing he sounded a tad giddy and completely unashamed as such. He tapped Send and watched as Yuuri’s little speech bubble appeared, heart fluttering in his chest.

‘Is it Yuuri?’

Victor almost dropped the phone.

Looking up, Victor clung the phone tightly as Mila laughed at him, all teasing. But Victor’s heart felt like it had stopped in his chest, body locked as realisation of what Mila had just asked him hit.

‘How-?’ Victor shook his head, trying to piece together what exactly had just happened. ‘How do you know about Yuuri?’

Mila’s laugh fell short, her eyes narrowing as she looked at Victor with confusion, but Victor barely registered as his mind started to run away with itself. Did Mila know? That would be very bad. She didn’t seem concerned but there was no way Mila could keep a secret. It was documented fact.

‘We met at Skate America. The party you crashed, remember?’ Mila said slowly, English suddenly uncertain in her mouth. Victor just stopped himself from sighing in relief as the memory came back to him. In all that had happened after, Victor had actually managed to forget. He always forgot things so easily.

Right. Of course. How could Mila know anything other than that? Victor had been far too easy to panic. But it sat inside him, uneasy weight in his stomach.

‘He was very drunk,’ Mila continued, flicking her short hair as she looked across the rink. She twisted her body in little half turns, left to right, then right to left as she spoke. ‘Cute though. Though you obviously think that already.’

‘I do,’ Victor said quietly, still wary of the conversation. Yuuri’s reply chimed from his fingers, but Victor resisted the urge to check it straight away, instead choosing to watch Mila. ‘How did you know he was Yuuri?’

Did she meet Phichit, too? Was that how she knew Yuuri’s real name? Victor didn’t realise he was shaking until he saw Mila glance down at his hands. Victor turned and rested them on the awning, holding steady.

‘What do you mean? He told me,’ Mila said, confusion evident in her tone. She turned to echo him and gave Victor a sideways glance. ‘He's who you went to America for, right? I won’t tell Yakov, you know.’

Victor highly doubted that, but he appreciated her saying it all the same.

‘You’re really lucky, you know,’ Mila said, leaning on a hand across the awning and blowing a stray hair out of her face. ‘It’s so hard to find someone who loves skating as much as you do. At least Yuuri knows what you’re talking about. My ex used to glaze over like a mousse cake whenever-’

Victor had stopped listening, instead focusing on the meaning behind Mila’s words than the actual story.

‘How much did he tell you?’ Victor asked, interrupting Mila rudely but not caring about it. Mila made a small noise of disapproval, but she straightened up and looked at Victor plainly.

‘He didn’t tell me about the two of you, if that’s what you’re worried about. Though I guessed,’ she said, voice turning teasing at the end but Victor motioned with his hand for her to continue, getting impatient. Mila shrugged. ‘I don’t know. Just about how you first met in Sochi and how excited he was to meet you. It was sweet, really.’

‘We didn’t meet in Sochi,’ Victor said, deeply confused. He knew Yuuri had been drunk and had likely lied quite a bit out of necessity, but surely telling Mila they’d met back here in Russia was pushing it?

Mila looked at Victor with a stern gaze. Then, something crossed her face and her mouth opened in a small oh.

‘He told me you didn’t remember. But I just- I thought he was drunk.’ Mila suddenly looked uncertain, fidgeting. Hands running over the edge of the plexiglass.

Victor tightened his grip on the awning, on his phone. There was something hovering, just out of reach. Victor could almost see it. ‘Didn’t remember what?’ When Mila said nothing, Victor tried again, sterner. ‘Mila, I need you to tell me.’

Mila still nothing. She fidgeted, shifting on his skates. From behind them, a junior whooped loudly as they fell. Then-

‘Yuuri told me you met at the Grand Prix in Sochi, but you didn’t remember.’

This time, Victor really did drop his phone. It hit the ice with a loud clack and Mila squealed, bending down to try and catch it. But Victor let it fall, all thoughts coming to a narrow, sharp point that went straight through him.

Sochi.

Victor thought back. That had been four years ago. Why had Yuuri been there?

Victor tried to think, but he was very certain he hadn’t met Yuuri then. Had Phichit been competing, was that why Yuuri had been there? No, that can’t be it. Phichit had said to him that this was his first time qualifying for the Grand Prix. If not Phichit, then why was Yuuri-

‘Oh my God,’ Victor whispered, hands coming to run through his hair as something came to his mind, misremembered and hazy. But it came and shook through him, trembling understanding all the way down.

Victor snatched his phone from Mila as she picked it up, opening Google and typing hurriedly into the search box.

Yuuri figure skating

He shouldn’t have been surprised to see that nearly all the immediate search results were for Yuri Plisetsky. Whining a bit in impatience, Victor ignored Mila’s questions and added Grand Prix Sochi to the end of the sentence.

That did it.

Katsuki Yuuri. Japan’s ace, according to one result. ISU licenced figure-skater and competitor in the Grand Prix, Sochi, four years ago.

Victor fell back against the awning, switching to images and feeling his heart swell inside him, swallowing up space all the way up his throat so he felt like he couldn’t quite breathe. There was Yuuri. Much younger, even a little shorter, but there he was. On the ice, the way Victor had been imagining him all this time. Sparkling costumes, hair pushed back like he always wore it now. And on his face, a look of peace Victor had never seen on him before.

Victor had been suspecting Yuuri was a skater for a while now. Victor had intended on using the Rostelecom Cup to try and coax Yuuri into admittance. But this? Competitive? Victor’s competitor? Victor had not been expecting this.

Suddenly everything came together. Yuuri’s drunken ramblings, the way his face had been when Victor had skated for him in that empty rink. His deep, brown eyes when they met Victor’s that first time in the bar. Bright, searching. A lighthouse, leading Victor to this shore and now the tide had pulled back, showing Victor everything that had been hiding beneath the surface.

All this time, he and Yuuri had already met. And Yuuri hadn’t said a thing.

Something cold settled in Victor’s stomach. It churned there, heavy and spiraling, weighing Victor down with it’s mass. Yuuri had been lying, this entire time. About everything. What else had been a lie? Victor wanted to believe that what he’d seen in Yuuri, what he felt when they were together was real. But now doubt chewed at that hope, fraying it’s edges until it felt smaller.

Had Yuuri just been humouring him this entire time? Playing the role he was paid so well for? Victor took an unsteady breath, his knees feeling liquid beneath him.

None of this made any sense. Yuuri had quit skating. But why? If he had been good enough to make it to the Grand Prix, he should’ve been good enough to keep going. Had he been injured? Yuuri showed no sign of such, but evidently Yuuri was much better at keeping things secret than Victor first thought. Had anything Yuuri had told him been true?

‘Victor? What’s wrong?’ Mila asked, reaching out tentatively. Victor waved her off, moving across the ice in his skates.

‘He never told me,’ Victor said, more to himself than anything. He looked down at his phone, at the unopened message Yuuri had sent him.

Victor thought of Yuuri’s eyes. Round and the colour of turned soil in the spring. The warmth that burned inside them and the the way they shined when Victor managed to surprise Yuuri. A quiet, shimmering surprise so precious Victor could set in it gold and it would outweigh medals.

Breathing unevenly, Victor ignored Mila and opened the message from Yuuri.

15:46PM Will I need to bring a thermal? I imagine it’s going to be cold. Much colder than here, probably. Do you know I never needed a thermal until I got to the States?

Somewhere, half a world away, Yuuri was texting Victor like he would text anybody. It wasn’t sexting or flirting, or practiced teasing. It was just Yuuri. Katsuki Yuuri.

Victor had been classifying him as his Yuuri in his head for some time now. But that wasn’t true, or perhaps even remotely achievable.

Victor opened Youtube, typing Yuuri’s name and the date for the Grand Prix into the searchbox. He found a video of Yuuri’s short-program and opened it immediately.

Yuuri moved across the ice the way Victor had dreamed he would. His step sequence was almost flawless, but something was keeping Yuuri’s body tense. Victor could see, even in the video. Short, stammered steps but even as Yuuri’s hips swayed, Victor saw the same music in the movement he saw when they had first danced together. By the time of the second-half, Yuuri had fallen. Only to fall again for his next jump as well. Victor’s heart turned over, bending itself in half with sympathy as Yuuri shuddered his way to a finish, score mediocre.

According the description, Yuuri had come sixth. No wonder Victor didn’t recognise him. Victor cursed his own arrogance, tugging the phone to his chest as he mind raced with everything. There were too many thoughts, too many things to try and focus on. Victor felt like he mind was spinning, right on the edge of a blade. Round and round.

Yuuri was a skater. He knew Victor, as more than a fan. He was Victor’s competitor. Or he had been. They’d met and Yuuri had said nothing. All that time they had been together... But as Victor stopped to let himself think, Victor knew, somehow, that Yuuri’s decision not to tell him had nothing to do with how they felt now. It had to.

Right?

Victor excused himself from Mila’s simpering, skating all the way to the other end of the rink. Impulsively, Victor opened his phone again and hit call.

‘Hello?’

‘Yuuri,’ Victor gasped softly, staring at the empty bleachers of the rink. Yuuri shuffled on the other end of the line, but before he could speak, Victor continued; ‘Do you like me?’

‘What?’ Yuuri asked, a bit starkly but Victor ignored it, waiting. ‘Of course I do.’

‘I mean, will you come to Moscow?’

‘I already told you I would. Is everything alright?’

No, Victor wanted to say. Why didn’t you tell me? What else aren’t you telling me?

But… Yuuri didn’t have to tell Victor any of that. Or anything at all. That was Yuuri’s life, his own life and his own past that he held onto. Something he didn’t sell. Victor froze, suddenly unsure what exactly to say. Yuuri didn’t owe him anything. This was, after all, what Victor ultimately wanted. He wanted Yuuri outside of his profession, wanted Yuuri to be his own person and make his own choices. He’d only ever hoped those choices would include Victor. But Victor couldn’t expect Yuuri to include him...

He couldn’t ask. He didn’t have the right. If Yuuri had wanted Victor to know, he would’ve said. Wouldn’t he?

‘I- uh, no. No, everything’s fine,’ Victor stammered, initial emotion failing as he tried to think clearly. Yuuri made a noise of concern on the other end of the phone.

‘Are you sure? You don’t sound okay.’

‘Do you want to?’

‘Do I want to what? Victor-?’

‘Come to Moscow?’ Victor continued breathlessly, knowing he was running out of time as he heard Yakov yelling in the background.

‘I wouldn’t come unless I wanted to,’ Yuuri said, nervous laugh tail-ending the sentence. Victor turned in his skates.

‘Are you sure?’ Victor asked, knowing he sounded childish but he didn’t care. He wanted to know, needed to hear Yuuri say it. ‘Because you don’t have to if you don’t want to. I know it’s far for you to travel. It’s selfish of me to ask you to come all this way just to watch-’

‘Victor,’ Yuuri said, interrupting Victor’s anxious rambling. Victor swallowed his words, throat tight. Yuuri laughed a little down the phone and something loosened itself in Victor. Warmth pooling deep in his chest at the sound. ‘There’s nothing I want more than to come and see you skate.’

Victor’s heart hammered in his chest, breath catching. ‘Do you mean that?’

‘More than anything,’ Yuuri replied quietly, like he was confessing something.

Victor thought of the Yuuri from four years ago. The crushing look of disappointment on his face in that video when the scores were announced. Victor wished he could reach a hand back in time, lead Yuuri forward to a future where maybe Victor could’ve been in it much sooner. Victor wanted to think that had he been given the chance, he could’ve helped.

Victor wanted to help. He wanted another chance.

Something had happened. Yuuri was a figure-skater and now he was an escort. There were career changes and then there was… whatever it was Yuuri had done.

‘I promise it’ll be worth it,’ Victor said, meaning it quite sincerely. Yuuri made a soft hum.

‘I know it will.’

Behind him, Yakov’s scolding got a little more fevered and Victor ran a hand over his face in frustration. ‘I have to go.’

‘Okay,’ Yuuri said and Victor thought he could hear a smile in his voice. The image squeezed the air out of Victor’s lungs. ‘I’ll see you on Friday, okay?’

‘I can’t wait,’ Victor said and it was true. Then, Yuuri was gone.

Victor stared down at his phone for a moment, doubt and affection swirling like oil on water. Viscous, cloying feeling across the deep, deep surface of whatever he felt for Yuuri. Until this moment, Victor had been sure he knew exactly what he was doing. But as he stared into the face of the truths Yuuri kept so well hidden, Victor realised he may have given more of himself away that he had ever intended.

The idea came to him distantly as he skated back towards Yakov, who had now entirely dismissed the juniors and was standing by the rink where Mila was still waiting.

Victor wouldn’t push. Yuuri didn’t have to confess to anything he didn’t want. Victor couldn’t ask that of him. But he couldn’t unknow what Mila had told him either. Yuuri had obviously never meant to tell Mila that, Victor guessed. Yuuri had been so terribly drunk, he hadn’t been in the mind to make any clear choices. Victor knew all of this. But something still hurt, something still ate him with sharp bites. Sinking it’s teeth into the soft thing he felt for Yuuri. How much of what had happened between them was real? How much of the Yuuri Victor felt he was beginning to see was actually Yuuri?

As Yakov ordered Victor around the rink in laps, Victor thought of Moscow at the end of the week. Yuuri would there. He was giving his trust to Victor, trust that Victor would keep him safe and respect him. There was no money between them, not for now. Victor turned into a small loop, lifting off the ground with one smooth bend. He could try and offer Yuuri something. Something Yuuri could say no to, if he wanted. But Victor knew now he had to ask.

Decision made, Victor landed from his jump with a loud clap.


The next time Victor was on the ice waiting to hear from Yuuri, it was Friday and he was drenched with sweat, knees trembling and hands shaking, but still ignoring Yakov. Which really, was one of the few pleasures left in skating.

The Megasports Arena was the pinnacle of competitive layout, tiered seats stepping up to the domed roof in coloured blocks of red, blue and yellow. Victor watched the arena crew move through them, adjusting and clearing the entryways. In the far corner, maintenance hovered by the zamboni, watching Victor and the rest of his team with steadily growing impatience. Team Russia, as they had been affectionately called, were the only ones remaining for practice.

‘Victor!’

Victor rolled his eyes through the newly developed step sequence, coming to an elegant stop after Yakov’s scolding. Yakov had been telling Victor all afternoon that Victor had been speeding his way through it. But Victor couldn't help it. The anticipation of seeing Yuuri again leaked into everything he did over the last few weeks.

‘What has you so excited?’ Mila teased, pushing away from the rink-edge to skate idly alongside Victor. She cast a glance around the rink, before looking back again with a broad grin. ‘Fix things with Yuuri?’

Victor laughed. ‘Sort of.’

‘You must’ve been very creative. Detroit is far away,’ Mila said, wiggling her eyebrows in a manner that reminded Victor vividly of Chris. How lucky he was those two forces had never come together.

Victor though, being the mature adult of everyone as it seemed, said nothing with what he felt was a very dignified silence.

‘Oh!’ Mila squealed, clapping her gloved hands together and blue eyes sparkling with excitement. ‘Victor! You’re blushing!’

‘Mila, please! Victor Nikiforov does not blush!’

Oi! Prekrati’ spletnichat’, mu’dak!’

The foul language came from the rapidly approaching Yuri Plisetsky, who was the very picture of teenage intolerance as he skated up to Victor, verdant eyes narrowed to a sharp point from beneath his long, blond hair and pouting profusely.

Before Victor could even open his mouth to scold, Yakov stepped up for him, gravelly voice echoing through the rink from the far-side.

‘Hey! You know the rules! I don't want to hear another Russian word out of your mouth, Yura! I will not have your English getting sloppy before the competition tomorrow!’ he shouted from the awning, overhead fluorescents shining off his bald head. As Victor watched, their eyes met briefly. Victor looked away sharply.

‘We’re in Moscow anyway!’ Yuri shouted back, equally loud and even more abrasive as his voice had yet to break fully. Victor rolled his eyes as Yuri stomped one of his skates on the ice’s surface. ‘So who really cares?!’

‘Delay to, chto tebe skazano!'

‘How come you can speak normally?!’ Victor turned in his skates, most certainly not interested in another famous Plisetsky tantrum, but before he could get anywhere, a small hand grabbed him by the shoulder. ‘Oi! You said you would help me with my combinations today!’

‘Did I?’ Victor replied airily, having absolutely no memory of doing so. Yuri tsked loudly, crossing his pale, skinny arms.

‘You’d forget your head if it wasn’t already too big.’

‘Ah, Yura. You wound me,’ Victor said, ruffling Yuri’s blond locks and loving the annoyed growling he got in return for it.


As Yakov watched, unusually silent, from the awning, Victor had Yuri go through his combination. He wanted to up the difficulty, which was typical really. But from his observation, Victor felt that the technical wasn't really where Yuri should be focusing his energy.

Yuri twirled into a perfect loop just as Victor’s phone started ringing from his pocket. He took it out, saw it was Yuuri calling and suddenly he felt a wave of nervous energy flood through him.

‘Oi! Pay attention, old man’

‘Ah, just one moment!’ Victor said, turning to take the call but Yuri was upon him instantly, snatching the phone right out of Victor’s hand. Really, it was impressive how fast Yuri could be.

‘You've been ignoring me for this phone all week. Longer than that. Who keeps calling you?’ Yuri asked, not looking at the phone and instead pointing it accusingly at Victor. ‘You don't have any friends.’

‘Thanks,’ Victor deadpanned, reaching out for his phone before it rang out, but Yuri tugged it out of his reach.

‘You shouldn't keep getting distracted,’ Yuri said, embodying Yakov so much in that moment that it scared Victor a little. Victor rolled his eyes. ‘This is why everyone says you're retiring.’

‘Is it? I thought it was the grey hair. Now, give me my phone, Yura.’

Victor snatched the phone from Yuri’s hand, scowling at the teenager with what he hoped was a very stern look. Regardless if it was or not, Yuri seemed completely unaffected, baring his teeth to Victor before flouncing away in a petulant glide.

Victor answered the phone, skating idly towards the awning as he did.

‘Yuuri!’

‘Hello, Victor,’ Yuuri replied, polite as ever and Victor felt the excitement rise up inside of him at the sound of Yuuri’s voice. ‘I'm just getting into a taxi now. Will I meet you at the hotel?’

‘No, come to me!’ Victor said, before he dropped his head into a hand. That sounded a little too eager. Yuuri made a small noise over the phone.

‘Um. I haven't changed, or anything.’

‘I'm sure you look fine,’ Victor said, aiming for a much more reserved tone. ‘Why would you need to change?’

‘It's just- uh, never mind. I'll come to you. Where are you?’ Yuuri asked, thanking someone in the background for something. Victor listened to the shuffling on the phone, watching the arena staff move through the stands.

‘At the Megasports Arena.’

‘Still?’ Yuuri said, clearly struggling with something in the background. His suitcase maybe.

‘I didn't become a world champion by accident you know,’ Victor teased. ‘Please come. I'd like to show you something.’

‘I'll come,’ Yuuri replied, sounding quite sure about it and Victor hoped he was smiling. He liked Yuuri’s smile. It made his cheeks round and it always reached his eyes. It made Victor’s heart tug in a very pleasant way.

‘Perfect. I can't wait to see you,’ Victor said, hanging up the phone. He stared down at the screen for a moment, feeling nervous suddenly.

Would Yuuri suspect anything when he arrived? Maybe he'd be too tired from the flight. Hope so, Victor thought and then felt bad, as he didn't want to be wishing Yuuri to be unwell. But it would likely make the grand gesture he had planned go a lot smoother if he could keep Yuuri in the dark just a little bit longer. Really, it was no worse than Yuuri doing it in the first place.

(Right?)

Victor didn't have much time to consider further however, as he was dragged back into the centre of the rink to watch the other Yuri in his life carve Salchows into the ice like he was actively trying to hurt it. They'd really need to think of something about the name thing if Victor’s plans with Yuuri were to come to any kind of fruition.

‘You know you're supposed to enjoy skating,’ Victor said as Yuri turned to face him after another perfect landing. Yuri’s green eyes were like bottled glass as he glared.

‘What's that supposed to mean?’

‘I'm not feeling your Agape,’ Victor said pensively, tapping a finger to his lips as he tried to think of a way to put whatever seemed to be wrong with Yuri into words. ‘Or anything, really. Except your ambition, maybe.’

Yuri kicked one of his Harlick’s across the ice petulantly. He tossed his head, blond hair swinging. ‘Who cares about that? What did you think about the combination?’

‘Oh. I wasn't paying attention to that,’ Victor replied, still thinking on Yuri’s failing in performance. If he couldn't manage here in training, Victor wasn't sure how he'd do tomorrow. Yuri groaned loudly, tiny hands balling into fists.

He opened his mouth, (no doubt to say something rude), but wasn't given the chance as Mila called Victor from where she had perched herself at the rink-wall.

‘Victor! Yuuri is here!’

Victor turned and started skating, eyes skimming past Mila to the familiar figure that was hovering just by the entrance. As Victor skated, Yuuri walked up closer to the side of the rink. Mila winked at Victor as she skated away and Victor couldn't stop the smile he gave back to her.

Yuuri’s face was covered with a surgical mask, which was a bit odd but with his glasses perched over it Yuuri looked quite endearing. Once Victor made it to the wall, Yuuri pulled the mask down.

‘Hi,’ was all he said but Victor grinned back at him, delighted to physically have Yuuri standing in front of him. The smile twitched, however, as Victor took Yuuri in.

Victor had so many questions. Did the arena remind Yuuri of Sochi? Will watching the competition tomorrow remind Yuuri of the last time he was in Russia? Why didn't he tell Victor? Why?

But Victor shook it off. It could wait. Everything could wait just a small bit more because Yuuri was looking up at him with his big, brown eyes and Victor was melting.

‘Hello, Yuuri,’ Victor said, reaching out over the plexiglass to touch Yuuri’s arm. He had intended to pull Yuuri forward, into a kiss maybe. But something stopped him. Instead, Victor just took Yuuri in from the small space between them.

Yuuri looked so relaxed and nothing at all like his usual self. Or at least, Eros’ usual self. His jeans were slightly ill-fitted, bulky brown jacket topped off with a thick blue scarf. His hair was buried under a beanie of some kind, shoulders slumped with exhaustion under the weight of a gear-bag and small satchel. It seemed that was all he had brought with him for the weekend. Victor squeezed Yuuri’s arm, meeting Yuuri’s gaze again.

‘I like your hat. The cat ears are cute,’ Victor teased and Yuuri blushed, reaching up and snatching the hat from his head. His fingers were red from cold.

‘Sorry! I forgot I was wearing it-’

‘Why are you sorry? I said it was cute,’ Victor continued, loving Yuuri’s sheepish smile as he held the hat to his chest defensively. Victor was very aware of the eyes on his back. He felt a nervousness he never did usually. Suddenly, the vague plan he’d concocted on hearing Yuuri’s voice seemed a tad impulsive.

‘Are you almost finished?’ Yuuri asked quietly, brown eyes moving over Victor’s shoulder. Victor saw as they then went wide, hearing the damning sound of someone skating behind him.

‘Who's this?’ Yuri snapped as he halted next to Victor. Victor sighed, releasing Yuuri to face the other properly.

‘This is Yuuri Katsuki. He's come to watch me skate.’

If looks could kill, Victor was sure he'd have died from the one Yuri was now giving him.

‘Another Yuri?’ Yuri gave Victor’s Yuuri a very disapproving once over. ‘What are you doing? Collecting us? This one’s a bit fat though don't-’

‘Yura!’ Victor snapped, not at all impressed with Yuri’s words. Yuri gave Victor and Yuuri one more scathing glance.

‘Whatever. Yakov said one more lap, then go shower. We’re going for dinner soon,’ Yuri said, stomping one of his skates to shake off build-up. ‘You can talk to your piggy later.’

‘Ah. I should probably head to the hotel anyway,’ Yuuri said, voice meeker than Victor had ever heard it. Victor felt an unusual intolerance for Yuri’s ill-manners. He didn't like the sound of his Yuuri sounding so small.

‘Do what you like,’ Yuri griped, skating off again.

Victor shook his head, reaching across the awning to take one of Yuuri’s hands. It felt cold, even through Victor’s gloves. ‘No! Please, come with us. I wanted you here to meet everyone.’

Yuuri’s face was pink from the Moscow snow, so it was very obvious when it paled.

‘I don't think that's a good idea.’

Victor fumbled, tightening his grip on Yuuri’s hand. ‘Please. It's only dinner, with my coach and my team.’

Yuuri looked over Victor’s shoulder again, down towards the corner Yakov was no doubt lurking in. ‘Your coach didn't seem that fond of me the last time.’

‘Well, you're dressed this time,’ Victor joked, taking some pleasure in Yuuri’s little frown. Victor squeezed Yuuri’s hand. ‘You must be hungry after the flight.’

Yuuri shifted on his feet, other hand balling up his adorable cat-eared beanie.

Victor really wanted this. But he wasn't sure how else to ask for it. The thought ran through his brain to point out that Yuuri was here under the pretence of being paid for his time, so it made sense for him to do as Victor liked. But the idea of saying such a thing, even when not meaning it, left a bad taste in Victor’s mouth. Yuuri was not Victor’s employee. Victor wanted Yuuri to be comfortable, to choose for himself. He really did.

But he also really wanted Yuuri to give Victor’s life a chance.

‘We’ll eat at the hotel restaurant,’ Victor offered, waiting for Yuuri to meet his gaze again. ‘Then if you're tired, we can just go to bed.’

‘You don't have to do that. What if you team would like to eat somewhere else?’ Yuuri said but Victor waved him off.

‘They won’t mind, I promise,’ he said, biting his lip with the strange anxiety that had found its way into him since Yuuri’s arrival. He asked once more. ‘Please.’

Slowly, Yuuri nodded. Victor brought Yuuri’s hand up to his lips, leaving a kiss there.

‘Thank you.’

It was an opening. A small one, but one all the same and Victor was more grateful than he could possibly ever say.

 


 

Yuri Plisetsky was everything Phichit’s numerous gossip sources claimed him to be. And then some.

Yuuri took another sip of his water, desperately wishing to be anywhere, anywhere else but where he was. Which was sat at a table in the restaurant of the Renaissance Hotel, dwarfed by the overwhelmingly foreign language and being glared at by Russia’s newest boast. There was something distinctly unnerving about the way Plisetsky watched Yuuri from across the table. He was sat low in his seat, arms crossed and the hoodie of his bright blue hoodie still pulled up and over his bright, blond hair. His green eyes were narrowed and focused on Yuuri like he was something Victor had dragged in from the street on the end of his shoe and now Plisetsky had to deal with it.

As the evening went on, the more Yuuri was starting to agree with that assessment. 

There was something simmering just beneath Yuuri’s skin. Bubbling, pressured anxiety just from being back in Russia. Four years ago, Yuuri had sworn to himself when boarding the plane back to Detroit that he’d never set foot in the country again. That he would leave skating and Victor Nikiforov in the Russian snow and never turn his head in their direction as long as he lived.

Of course, he only half-committed to that promise.

But the whole journey, Yuuri had felt sick. The nausea of his nerves had churned inside him. He knew it was stupid, irrational. A country could not hold Yuuri accountable for his failings four years ago. Yet as he had watched the tiny, cartoon plane on his seat-screen track his movement towards Moscow, Yuuri felt more and more self-conscious. Like those sitting around him had been staring. Like when he got his bag from baggage, the Cyrillic signs around him were really accusations Yuuri couldn’t even read to defend himself from.

He knew all of that was insane. Yuuri knew that. But it still tapped away in his head. An incessant, numbing beat.

Then, Victor had called him. And everything seemed just that little bit less terrible.

Seeing Victor again was like Yuuri was coming home to something he didn’t even realise he’d been missing. It soothed more than the ache Yuuri felt at being apart from Victor; it brought a quiet to him as he saw Victor’s tall, strong body turn in graceful circles on the ice. Like it had all these years, watching Victor skate narrowed Yuuri’s focus down until the noise in his head faded, even if just for a moment.

It was a nice moment. While it had lasted. But now-


Yuuri had been on many different kinds of bookings, and by extension many different kinds of getaways. From intimate hideaways in Toronto, to weekends in Chicago punctuated with galas- but this was so far removed from any of those that Yuuri wasn’t entirely sure how to class it in his head. With most clients, Yuuri was an accessory. An extension of his date’s, merely present to look nice and speak quietly if spoken to.

Meeting the family, (or team, as it were), with an arm around his shoulders, was not the usual situation. Being face-to-face with a storming fifteen-year old as part of such was most certainly not either.

They’d only just sat down, the conversation almost exclusively on the upcoming competition. Mila and Victor were doing most of the talking, accents seemingly fed by the other as Yuuri found it difficult to follow most of what they were saying. Victor had held Yuuri’s hand throughout being seated, a grounding touch that Yuuri found himself clinging to. He could feel the space between his knuckles still aching with the pressure he’d forced on Victor’s fingers.

Though Victor and Mila were speaking English throughout, it was almost incomprehensible, narrow w’ s and sharp g’ s surrounding Yuuri like white noise. Yakov Feltsman and Plisetsky hadn’t bothered at all, slipping into a muttered stream of Russian as they had walked through the restaurant that felt targeted. Like the very words were landing on Yuuri’s back as Victor had guided him to their seats.

Yuuri wanted so very much to be away. He found himself staring at the door more often than he probably should’ve. Now, in the round corner of the large booth they’d all been piled into, Yuuri tried to keep himself busy by constantly rearranging the cutlery in front of him as they awaited their food. Victor had ordered for both of them, assuring Yuuri that he’d like whatever Victor had picked. Yuuri just nodded along, knowing he felt too uneasy to eat anything regardless.

Instead, Yuuri straightened his fork. Then he tilted his knife. Then he lay both flat. Victor spied a glance, his eyes catching the light like a coin, causing Yuuri to stop fidgeting immediately. Victor slipped a hand across the table, taking Yuuri’s and lacing their fingers together. Like it was nothing. Like it was a perfectly normal thing to do. Yuuri lost his breath, eyes flittering around the table to gauge the reaction from Victor’s team.

Yakov’s thick, grey eyebrows came together, causing a lump to form in Yuuri’s throat. His eyes were fixed on where Victor was touching Yuuri. Mila either didn’t notice or didn’t care, waving a hand dramatically as she continued her story to the table. And still, Plisetsky just stared from across the table, all sharp accusation.

Yuuri felt naked. He was sitting in this strange restaurant, as Victor’s date for lack of a better word and it should be something Yuuri could handle. He’d done this with a hundred different clients, a hundred times before. But without the silk of Eros or the blur of his contacts, Yuuri felt exposed. With the hand Victor wasn’t holding, Yuuri tugged on the end of his blue cardigan, twisting it up over his fingers.

‘What do you do?’ Plisetsky suddenly snapped, interrupting Mila from her story. Yuuri started, tightening his grip on Victor’s hand. He felt Victor move his thumb, felt as Victor started to move it in slow circles. Plisetsky’s English was like Victor’s. Sharp and high.

‘Um. I’m sorry?’ Yuuri said, flushing when he heard how meek his voice sounded. Plisetsky was fifteen, Yuuri should not be afraid of him. But it was very hard to remember that with the kid himself growling across the sparkling tumblers and silverware.

Plisetsky made a noise of impatience, ignoring Mila’s chiding squeal as he continued to talk over her. ‘Like what’s your job. You’re not a skater, are you?’

Yuuri shook his head quickly. ‘No. Definitely not.’

Plisetsky narrowed his eyes at him for a moment, before he turned his head towards Yakov. What he said next was in rapid Russian, mouth twisting into a smirk and even though Yuuri didn’t understand a word, he knew when he was being laughed at. Yakov gave a steady reply, as incomprehensible as whatever Plisetsky had said.

‘I thought we were saving Russian for after the competition,’ Victor said coolly, tone causing Yuuri to look at him. Victor was smiling, but there was no warmth there. His teeth flashed, chin tilting in Yakov’s direction. His soothing circles on the back of Yuuri’s hand had stopped. Yuuri met Mila’s eye. She smiled, but it did nothing to undo the tight knot of worry Yuuri had tied up inside of himself.

Yakov made a gruff noise, giving Victor a stern stare, but he said nothing else. Plisetsky, however, whined loudly. He threw his head back, dislodging his hood and revealing the blond of his hair. It swept around his face in a way that vividly reminded Yuuri of Victor when he’d been fifteen. Yuuri had only just come to know Victor then. God, that was so long ago.

Suddenly feeling too hot, Yuuri untangled his free hand from his cardigan and reached over for his water.

‘So what is he anyway?’ Yuri said, English thick so Yuuri had to strain to understand for a moment. It was almost like he was doing it on purpose. ‘Your boyfriend?’

Yuuri blushed, coughing into his water. Victor squeezed his hand and Yuuri put the glass down, noticing too late that he was shaking. The glass trembled as he put it back on the table. Yuuri looked around the room. He couldn’t see anyone who wasn’t white, couldn’t hear anything that wasn’t Russian. He felt like he was drowning, the dim lights blacking the room out at the corners-

‘He has a name,’ Victor said, avoiding the question blithely. Plisetsky bared his teeth.

‘I'm not calling him that.'


‘Yuratchka,’ Yakov said and Yuuri jumped from the tone of his voice. Low and scolding. Yakov met Yuuri’s eye. His frown deepened and Yuuri looked away, nerves returning in full force. What Yakov said next was in Russian and whatever it was it inspired a fevered response from Plisetsky. They went back and forth, Victor scolding once again.

‘Please! You’re being so rude, both of you!’

Mila contributed, her Russian bright and squeaky to Yuuri’s ear, but really, what did he know? He thought he heard his name, but he wasn’t sure. Plisetsky turned red, snapping back at her. Mila shrugged happily, suddenly twisting in her seat and half leaning across Victor entirely to address Yuuri with a big smile on her face, red hair flaming.

‘It’s agreed!’ she said, like Yuuri could somehow have followed any of what just happened. ‘You’re Yuuri, and this little ball of angst is Yurio!’ Mila winked, tossing her head back at Plisetsky who looked just about ready to pick up one of the knives from the table and stick into the back of her head.

Yuuri gaped for a moment before he managed to catch up. He went to wave his hands in surrender, but Victor refused to let him go so the movement was quite aborted. ‘You really don’t have to do that! I can be Yurio-’

‘Absolutely not,’ Victor said just as Plisetsky cried out; ‘Yeah, you be Yurio!’

Yuuri looked between them, wishing the floor would just open and swallow him.

Before anything else could happen, Yuuri was startled by his phone ringing. Yuuri let Victor go, reaching down and around to fish his phone out from the satchel he’d brought. When he got it out, he noticed it was from a unknown number. Frowning, Yuuri turned over to face Victor, excusing himself quickly. With one fluid movement, Yuuri then picked his satchel up off the ground and made his way towards the bathrooms across the restaurant.

Once safely inside, Yuuri gave the bathroom a quick glance. Empty. He brought his phone up, noticing he’d missed the first call but now the unknown number was calling again. Something cold settled inside him, heavy in his stomach. But Yuuri hit accept and put the phone to his ear.

‘Hello?’

‘Eros, listen to me, kid-’

‘How did you get this number?’ Yuuri hissed, panic alight inside him like a spark as Robert’s voice came down the line. Yuuri threw his satchel up on the sink counter, scrambling with one hand to find his work phone.

‘Kid, I don’t have time to explain,’ Robert said, his normally chevalier tone abandoned for something Yuuri couldn’t recognise. ‘I need you to listen to me, okay?’

‘I’m hanging up,’ Yuuri announced, going to do just that as Robert cried down the line for him not to. Yuuri paused, just for a moment. ‘I didn’t give you this number. How did you get it?’

‘I’m trying to tell you now!’ Robert said, sounding rushed and muffled. Like he was whispering. Yuuri looked at his watch. It was only just gone ten back in Detroit. Something wasn’t right. Yuuri thought of the last time he saw Robert. The man had appeared so understanding, but the more Yuuri thought about it, the more he realised how much he’d actually confessed to Robert. That had been so stupid!

Yuuri should’ve known better.

Fear, cold and metallic in the back of his throat as bile rose, seeped through Yuuri with heavy weight. His heart hammered in his chest, pulse throbbing. Robert was rambling, something about being at his office and he knew he was being inappropriate, but Yuuri wasn’t really taking any of it in. Yuuri stared at himself in the mirror, shaking his head when he saw his own panicked expression looking back at him.

‘I’m not doing this, Robert. Goodbye.’

‘Eros, wait-!’

Yuuri hung up.

Breathing heavily, Yuuri looked down at his phone for a moment. It lit up immediately, same unknown ID. Yuuri hit decline with both hands, chest heaving as panic wracked through him like some great, terrible wave. Yuuri dropped the phone on the counter loudly. He stared down at it, watched as it lit up again. And again. Yuuri snatched the phone back, blocking the number.

Yuuri also pulled his professional phone out of his satchel, the edges of it already peering out from where Yuuri had struggled to find it a moment ago. He opened the Blackberry, scrolling through his texts with Robert over the last few weeks. There was nothing in them. Not one slip-up or accidental location turned on. There was no way Yuuri could see how Robert could’ve found his number. He had to have had Yuuri looked into. Or worse. Was there worse?

Yuuri would have to call Sophia. Soon. He’d need her to check Robert out again. Had he become too attached? Had his wife found out? Yuuri couldn’t think of anything else that would cause Robert to go to such lengths to get into contact, especially when he knew Yuuri was out of the country. God, Yuuri had been so stupid to tell him that!

‘What are you doing, loser?’

Yuuri gasped, surprised. He looked up from his phones to see Yuri Plisetsky in the mirror, watching Yuuri with a frown from the doorway of the bathroom. Yuuri turned to face him, holding both phones to his chest protectively.

‘N-nothing. Just work,’ Yuuri said quietly, stammering. Plisetsky jerked his head up, seemingly trying to appear taller. It didn’t exactly work, but Yuuri found himself shrinking back against the counter anyway as Plisetsky stepped into the bathroom properly, heavy door swinging shut behind him.

Plisetsky shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie, the blue of it almost luminous in the lighting of the bathroom. Yuuri swallowed thickly, anxiety swirling around with the latent panic of what had just happened. Tying all his bones up into knots, so he couldn’t move. Couldn’t do anything as Plisetsky approached him. The punk walked right up to Yuuri, staring up at him with his eyes the colour of acid. Just as burning, too.

‘You know, a long time ago Victor made me a promise,’ he said, English sounding like it had edges Plisetsky wanted Yuuri to cut himself on. Plisetsky tilted his head, the motion like some feral cat and Yuuri was the mouse it was about to set it’s claws into. ‘He’s pretty forgetful. So don’t get your hopes up, it’ll just be a matter of time before he forgets you, too.’

Yuuri didn’t know what to say to that, stunned by the rudeness and severity of the words. He’d only just met Yuri Plisetsky, this was their first conversation together and Plisetsky was- threatening him? Yuuri wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, nerves shaking his brain around inside his head like a stone.

‘I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand?’

‘Victor promised me he’d be my coach when he retires next season,’ Plisetsky said, grinning up meanly. Yuuri felt his stomach drop. Retire? ‘So I’m just warning you, that’s all. He’s not going to let some pretty-boy American distract him. Or at least, I won’t let you distract him.’

Yuuri tried to stand up a bit straighter, make himself look broader and less easy to intimidate. Who did Plisetsky think he was? But Yuuri couldn’t shake Robert’s voice from his head, fear and nerves likely inspiring the curt snap he threw at Plisetsky by way of a response.

‘What happens between Victor and I is none of your business,’ Yuuri said coldly, frowning down at Plisetsky and hoping the teenager couldn’t see that Yuuri was still shaking. ‘You’re just a kid.’

‘Hey, don’t talk to me like I’m a child!’ Plisetsky retorted with fury, a little loud for where they were and Yuuri threw a glance at the door, half-expecting someone to come in and check on the noise. Plisetsky snarled, bringing Yuuri’s attention back to him with a jump. ‘What are you even doing here anyway? You moving to Russia?’

Yuuri felt his neck heat up. ‘Ah, no?’

‘Didn’t think so,’ Plisetsky smirked, giving Yuuri a once-over. ‘Better not get used to having Victor around then. There’s no way I’m going to let him run off to the States just because he misses your dick-’

‘Hey!’ Yuuri snapped, mortified by Plisetsky’s language and his bluntness. Yuuri lifted a hand, fingers still wrapped tight around the phone, in preparation for a scold. But Plisetsky just looked at the phone, eyes narrowing as he looked to Yuuri’s other hand as well.

‘Why do you have two phones?’ Plisetsky asked, curiosity lacing his ill-tempered tone. Yuuri brought both phones back to his chest, a beat of silence passing between them before Yuuri turned on his heel, shoving both devices back into his satchel.

‘One’s my Russian sim,’ Yuuri lied, deliberately not looking at Plisetsky. He went to leave. ‘Now if you excuse me.’

Yuuri bolted out of the bathroom, making a beeline back to the booth.

Victor was talking with Mila again. Yuuri only dully noticed that Victor was seemingly ignoring Yakov entirely. The food had arrived in his absence, but Yuuri could think of nothing worse than eating. His stomach felt like it was full of something molten and toxic. The idea of food had his throat closing up. Yuuri approached and set his satchel down, slipping back onto his seat at the edge of the booth.

Victor was looking at him immediately. His blue eyes suddenly deepened, concern swimming in them like a current. Yuuri looked away, reaching for his water and taking the glass, but not bringing himself to drink anything.

‘Yuuri?’ Victor asked, putting his fork down and reaching out to put a hand on Yuuri’s thigh. Yuuri sighed at the touch, unable to stop himself. It was like all his panic was the lightning of some great, terrible storm and Victor was his grounding rod. The tension slipped out of Yuuri, down through the point where Victor was touching him. ‘All good, miliy?’

Yuuri nodded, trying to smile as he met Victor’s gaze. ‘I’m fine. Jetlag, I think. I’m afraid I’m not feeling up to much food.’

Victor watched Yuuri’s face for a moment, beautiful cheeks pale in the light and eyes bright. Then Victor was moving, slowing guiding Yuuri out of his seat first so Victor could follow.

‘Victor? What are you-’

Victor turned to the table, addressing both Mila and Yakov in Russian. Yuuri stood as Victor moved around him, picking Yuuri’s bag up for him and draping it across his own, broad shoulder. Yuuri felt like he was dreaming, caught in some strange daze and Victor turned to face Yuuri. He reached out, taking Yuuri’s chin between two soft fingers. Yuuri melted into the touch, closing his eyes.

‘Let’s get you upstairs. A bath and maybe then sleep, yes?’

Yuuri nodded, those two things sounding beyond heavenly right now. Especially with Victor.

Unable to contain himself, Yuuri leaned up onto his toes to kiss Victor. Their lips met in a soft brush, Yuuri breathing in the scent of whatever spice was in Victor’s food and the faint salt of sweat. Yuuri pressed a little harder, just enough to feel Victor’s lips part the slightest bit before he pulled back, looking up the the dusting of pink along Victor’s high cheekbones.

It was a move, one Yuuri used often in boyfriend experience roles. But this time felt different. It should've been practiced, familiar and easy. But looking at Victor now, Yuuri felt more along the lines of an exposed nerve.

‘You’re wonderful,’ Yuuri said, a calm coming over him as Victor took his hand. Victor smiled, squeezing Yuuri’s hand before leading him out of the restaurant and out into the lobby.

As they walked, Yuuri felt the worry ease in him. Whatever was happening with Robert, that was home, in America. Too far from where he was now. Yuuri could fix it, whatever it was, when he got back.

Because right now, Yuuri had Victor. And that was all that mattered.

 



Yuri knew exactly one thing for certain about the guy Victor had dragged across the ocean to impose on them- he was not worthy of someone as talented as Victor. Even if Victor was the worst person ever.  

Yuri wasn’t an idiot. He could see the way Victor looked at this Katsuki, like the loser hung the moon in the sky from the tips of his fingers. Yuri couldn’t understand himself. He supposed Katsuki wasn’t awful looking. But he was nothing compared to the people that usually surrounded them. If anything, Katsuki was a bit round at the hips, cheeks full. If Victor wasn’t obviously going through so much trouble for the guy, Yuri would’ve thought Victor was settling. And settling hard.

He pulled his hood up and over his head again as he, Mila and Yakov walked out into the street, snow drifting down from the sky. It was still early enough in the evening, just past six and Yakov was going to drop Yuri to his grandfather’s. It wasn’t often Yuri got the chance to see his Dedushka, living in the skater’s dorms back in St. Petersburg and he was looking forward to getting back to his own bed. He didn’t see why Mila had to come along.

‘Well, Yuuri is lovely,’ Mila said, English grating Yuri’s already withered patience with the evening. ‘Victor really found himself a sweetheart.’

‘I didn't like him,’ Yuri said, truly meaning it. There was something about that guy that set Yuri’s nerves on edge. He was too jittery, eyes always flickering in a way that made it look like he was some sort of startled animal. It wasn't normal.

He thought of the two phones Katsuki had, clinging to them like they were more precious than gold. Yuri kicked a clump of snow, frowning down at it.

‘Ah, but you don't like anyone!’ Mila teased, punching Yuri’s shoulder which in turn spurred him to snap at her in Russian. Mila ignored him, turning her stupid doe eyes back to Yakov, who walked slightly ahead of them. ‘What did you think, coach? He’s nice, isn’t he?’

Yakov made a noncommittal grunting sound from behind his scarf, eyes fixed forward through the light snow. A car passed, it’s headlights casting Yakov into stark relief for a moment. He looked old. Yuri waited for Yakov to agree with him. Yuri had seen Yakov’s face at that dinner table, he knew- Yakov wasn't any happier with this American Yuuri than Yuri was.

‘I think we need to focus on the Rostelecom Cup and not Victor’s silly follies,’ Yakov groused and Yuri smirked at Mila in triumph. Mila’s pout of disappointment lasted only a moment however before she continued as if Yakov hadn't said anything.

‘You're both so terrible!’ she lamented, raising her gloved hands like she were to wipe her hands of them. ‘We should be happy for Victor. Yuuri is wonderful.’

‘He is not!’ Yuri snapped, thinking of said man’s chubby cheeks and thick glasses. He wasn't an athlete, obviously. He had seemed out of his depth at dinner with the skating discussion, eyes panicked when Yuuri had challenged him on what he thought of Victor’s bracket turn at practice. What could a guy like that possibly have to offer Victor that his friends couldn't?

Yuri flinched at his own thinking. On second thought, he had a suspicion on that and had decided he didn't want to know. Any thoughts of Victor in that situation were just- ugh, too fucked up to even consider. Honestly, Victor was embarrassing in ways Yuri hoped he never learned.

‘Wonderful or not, it would seem it doesn't matter,’ Yakov said gravely as they approached the car, fishing for his keys in his pocket. Yuri frowned at that while Mila just nodded along. He looked between them, biting the inside of his cheek. What did she get that he didn't?

‘What does that mean?’’ he asked as Yakov opened the car for them, then ‘Oi!’ when Mila shoved him out of the way for the front seat.

Yakov didn't answer Yuri until they were all settled in the car. Yuri leaned down in his seat behind Mila, (thanks to the hag herself), kicking his legs into the back of Mila’s seat bitterly. Mila huffed in that high, pitchy way of hers as he did so, causing Yuri to grin. He did it again.

‘Victor is twenty-seven now, Yura,’

‘So?’ Yuri said gruffly, sticking his tongue out as Mila threw a filthy look over the headrest.

‘So he's thinking about his future,’ Yakov continued, turning the keys so the car sprung to life, heater humming and lights on. ‘A man his age. It's normal to consider settling down.’

Yuri felt his stomach turn. Settle down? From the way Yakov said it, he obviously meant outside of skating. Yuri clicked his tongue.  Victor should aim for better. He was capable of better. Yuri sulked down further into his seat, digging the heels of his shoes into Mila’s back and not getting nearly enough satisfaction from her whining about it.

‘He won’t have time if he wants to get his shit together for the World’s. He only barely made it into the Grand Prix,’ Yuri said darkly, thinking of a wobble Victor had when he landed his signature quadruple flip at the Nebelhorn Trophy. Yuri had nearly bitten through his own lip as Victor’s knee had bent just that smallest bit too much, his dip into the counter too weighted. Almost unnoticeable, but Yuri had seen. It wasn’t like Victor to not pay attention like that. It still made Yuri feel uneasy, though Victor had clearly pulled himself somewhat together at Skate America.

Yakov looked behind him as he pulled out of the parking space, eyes shadowed under his fedora.

‘I think Victor’s priorities are changing,’ Yakov said quietly, facing forward again as he steered the car into momentum.

‘I think it’s good. Victor’s been miserable for ages,’ Mila said sagely, like she had any idea. Yuri tsked at her, kicking again as she squealed at him in protest. Mila didn’t know anything. Yuri was Victor’s student, it was Yuri Victor choreographed for. No one knew him better than Yuri did.

‘He hasn’t been miserable. He was just being dramatic,’ Yuri said though he wasn’t sure how much he believed it. He thought of the long mornings he and Victor spent together, before the rink was even open to the public yet. He thought of the length of Victor’s arms as he spun his way through a step sequence, skates coughing up ice as he went. The movements were always technically perfect.

Technically.

‘Can’t you just be happy Victor found someone? He’s never had someone he liked this much!’

‘Victor’s an idiot ,’ Yuri griped, looking out the window. The snow passed in a flurry, Moscow lights blurred and moving in streaks of gold and blue. ‘Besides, there’s something about that guy. Don’t you think he’s-’ Yuri stopped, unsure of the right word. He thought through his vocabulary, but couldn’t find anything, instead settling on; ‘- zhalkiy?’

‘Ah, Yurio!’ Mila scolded and Yuri’s blood boiled at the nickname. ‘Don’t be so cruel.’

‘If you feel that way, I suggest keeping it to yourself,’ Yakov said, curbing Yuri’s scathing retort before he could spit it out at Mila’s unbearably smug face. Yuri made an aborted noise in the back of his throat, but Yakov met his gaze through the rear-view mirror. ‘Victor is a grown man. He will make his own decisions.’

‘His decisions are stupid,’ Yuri grumbled, looking back out the window.

‘Even so, there’s nothing we can do about it,’ Yakov said, his voice sounding strangely distant. Yuri glanced back at him, but Yakov was focused entirely on the road.

Settling back in his seat, Yuri thought about Katsuki. His narrow hands, particularly, how they had been constantly moving. The man’s whole body had been buzzing, nerves spilling out over him in stammering sentences. Yuri thought of the two phones again. There was something- not right about that, though Yuri couldn’t put his finger on exactly what it was that bothered him so much about it.

Whatever. It’s Victor’s problem. Yuri shook his head, instead trying to focus on seeing Dedushka. He hoped his grandfather had made something, preferably pirozhki. That dinner at the hotel had been considerably unsatisfying. For many reasons.

But something still ate Yuri, his thoughts constantly circling back to Katsuki’s eyes, wide and shimmering with panic in the bathroom. It was pathetic, embarrassing really. Honestly, what did Victor even see in a guy like that?



Yuuri awoke from his dreams with a start.

He had dreamed of the onsen, the smell of the bath salts Victor had gotten for him permeating the dream like some strange fog. Yuuri felt like he had been drowning, submerged beneath the surface of the water. He didn't remember much else.

Slowly, the hotel room came into focus. He was facing the window, blue light through the curtains they hadn't bothered to close properly. He could hear the odd car, sometimes a voice. But most importantly, he could hear Victor breathing behind him. The latent anxiety his nightmare had given him faded.

Yuuri rolled over in the bed, facing Victor now but closing his eyes with the heavy exhaustion he still felt from the flight. Sleep hovered just on the edge, he could feel it settle in his bones, body heavy as he shuffled a little closer to Victor’s warmth. Yuuri wasn't able to stop the small noise of satisfaction he made when he felt Victor’s hand come down on his shoulder, fingers circling there. Almost ticklish.

‘You're staring.’

‘Your eyes aren’t even open,’ Victor said but Yuuri knew he was smiling despite that. Yuuri put his hands under the pillow, rolling onto his side properly and moving closer still.

‘They don't have to be,’ Yuuri said, smirking. He opened his eyes, blinked a few times to adjust to the dark. Victor came into focus, hair catching the streetlight that crept in from the window. He looked other-worldly in the half-light, skin pale and eyes bright. ‘I could feel it.’

‘Cocky.’

‘Look who's talking.’

‘And funny, too,’ Victor teased, hand trailing up Yuuri’s shoulder, along his neck. Victor’s fingers tucked into the hair behind Yuuri’s ear. He pushed it back, movement soft. Yuuri leant into it. ‘You were mumbling in your sleep.’

Yuuri’s blood went cold. ‘O-oh? What did I say?’

‘I don't know, it wasn't in English,’ Victor said with a small huff of laughter. Yuuri relaxed instantly. But Victor said nothing else.

‘What is it?’ Yuuri asked after a long moment, watching Victor’s face which was almost marblesque in its pensive expression. ‘What are you thinking about?’

‘It’s nothing,’ Victor said quietly, like he was trying to keep his voice down for Yuuri. His accent gave the word a k at the end, clinking like glass. Affection bloomed, dizzying in its potency as Yuuri realised this. But Yuuri couldn't look past the small crease of thought on Victor’s brow.

‘It must be something, to keep you up so late. I have an excuse. I'm jet-lagged,’ Yuuri said, slipping a hand free from under the pillow and reaching out to touch Victor’s chin. Felt the small stubble there, almost invisible. Victor’s eyes fluttered close at the touch, the movement turning Yuuri’s heart around like clockwork.

‘Can-’ Victor started, then stopped. He bent his head down, kissing Yuuri’s fingers. Then he looked up, eyes open again and watching Yuuri with feeling. Yuuri blushed, thankful for the dark. ‘Can I ask you something?’

‘You can ask me anything,’ Yuuri replied, too breathless to worry about how true such a thing was.

Victor said nothing, seeming to think whatever he wanted to ask over in his head a bit more. Yuuri watched, letting his hand fall back down to the very small space between them.

‘Why this? Why escorting?’ Victor finally asked, hand running down Yuuri’s arm. His blue eyes were downcast, metallic in the faint light from the window and fixed on where they were touching. There was no judgement in his voice, accent soft in his whisper and Yuuri let out a long, low breath to the feel of Victor’s fingertips brushing along his skin.

It felt like he was being mapped out. Like he was the ice Victor could skate across so well. Victor’s fingers carving loops and spins in goosebumps. Yuuri wondered if the weightless feeling soaring through him was how Victor felt when he took off for the quadruple flip that had carried Yuuri’s ambitions for so long.

If it was anything like this, Yuuri didn’t blame Victor one bit for wanting to achieve it as often as possible.

‘Why skating?’ Yuuri countered breathlessly as Victor’s hand made it’s way back up, fingers skimming and then drawing circles on Yuuri’s shoulder. Spread eagle, between the pointer and the middle, down Yuuri’s neck. Victor still didn’t look up from where he was watching his own hand, but Yuuri saw his eyebrows come together.

‘I’m good at it,’ Victor replied quietly, tossing his head a little to throw some stray hair from his face. Yuuri’s heart fluttered as he watched, emotion flipping like pages. Too fast to read, but written somewhere deep inside. Yuuri laughed quietly, finally getting Victor to look up at him.

‘Is that all?’

Victor hummed, frowning a little. He rolled onto his back, pillows scraping. Yuuri looked at his profile. Skin white, chalk-outline in the moondark. Yuuri wanted to touch it and have traces of Victor left all over him, leave fingerprints on Victor’s life the way Victor had in his.

‘What else is there?’

‘Don't you like it?’ Yuuri asked, trying to keep the note of disappointment out of his voice. Some small, old part of him felt it though. Did Victor really consider skating so lowly? Yuuri really hoped not. It would break a part of him he didn’t even know was still there.

Yuuri frowned to himself as he realised just how worried he was, Plisetsky’s words of Victor’s apparent retirement coming to mind. He reached out, tracing a hand across Victor’s shoulder. Splayed his fingers out as he moved down along Victor’s skin, over his heart.

‘I used to,’ Victor said at length, staring up at the ceiling again. ‘Lately, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.’

‘But you're Victor Nikiforov,’ Yuuri said because it was all he could think of to say. Victor laughed, looking over at Yuuri. Yuuri bit his bottom lip. Victor was just so beautiful.

‘I’m very aware,’ Victor said. He reached out, taking the hand Yuuri had on his chest. He held it, skin warm against Yuuri’s. He ran his fingers down between Yuuri’s knuckles, then up again. Up and down, in a slow, sweep. Yuuri closed his eyes, sighing with the touch. ‘And you didn’t answer my question.’

‘Which one?’

‘About you. This job,’ Victor said and Yuuri opened his eyes, looking at him.

Victor watched him right back, eyes winking streetlight and skin blurred at the white edges. Victor moved his hand, the back of it coming to Yuuri’s cheek. The touch felt like something soft, something fragile. Yuuri leaned into it, like he did with everything Victor gave him. Turn of the earth, pulling Yuuri like it was gravity. Yuuri had always wanted to be Victor’s orbit.

‘You…’ Victor paused, licking his lips. ‘I’m sure you could’ve done anything. So why this?’

Yuuri didn’t say anything at first.

He looked past Victor, just over his other shoulder towards the wall. Strangely enough, he thought of Ice Palace, his old rink in Hasetsu. He remembered the metallic smell of the ice first thing in the morning, the way he could watch the sakura shed their blossoms in the early summer like snow through it’s large, boxed windows. He thought of Yuuko-chan’s face, pink with cold. The gloves she bought him for his thirteenth birthday.

It didn’t even feel like a different life. It felt like the life of someone else entirely. Yuuri wondered when exactly he’d left that Katsuki Yuuri behind. He didn’t remember doing so on purpose.

‘Well, like you, I guess,’ Yuuri said at last, voice quiet. He looked at Victor again, smiled. ‘I’m good at it.’

Victor made a small huff, not quite a laugh. ‘Is that all?’ he repeated back, raising an eyebrow.

‘Why? Am I not good at it?’ Yuuri teased, laughing to himself. But Victor didn’t laugh. Instead, Victor sat up, leaning down onto his arm so he hovered over Yuuri. Yuuri rolled onto his back, looking up at Victor. Victor was all lines, chest smooth and white over his pectorals. Yuuri reached up, touching the bare skin. Wondered idly how Victor groomed, to be so bare.

‘You’re beautiful, Yuuri,’ Victor said sincerely, his voice a little louder than before. Yuuri felt his traitorous blush creep up his neck. He turned his face away, pulling his hands back to himself.

‘You don’t have to keep saying that, you know. It’s my job to look attractive,’ he said quietly, throat feeling thick with something. He swallowed awkwardly, too loud in the quiet of their hotel room. He looked back up at Victor, suddenly self-conscious that he may have come across as rude. ‘Not that it isn’t nice of you! I just mean-’

‘No, Yuuri. You misunderstand,’ Victor said, leaning his body down so he was almost on top of Yuuri. Their bodies were naked and warm from the bed, Victor’s legs slipping effortlessly along Yuuri’s. Each point they touched like a line draw between two stars. Only Victor was the sun and Yuuri was something infinitely smaller and much further away. Threatening to get swallowed up in Victor’s wake.

Victor brushed the hair from Yuuri’s face, his eyes searching across Yuuri’s temple, his nose, his cheeks.

‘You’re very attractive. And of course, you’re good at what you do,’ Victor said, hand now stroking through Yuuri’s hair. His blue eyes were focused on the top of Yuuri’s head, voice distant. Like he was talking to himself more than Yuuri. Yuuri found the thought oddly comforting, feeling less self-conscious as he closed his eyes to Victor’s ministrations. He let Victor’s words wash over him, foreign and yet familiar. ‘You have a sensuality to you, a soul of Eros, you could say. And as you know, we both know quite a bit about Eros.’

Yuuri laughed, unable to stop himself at Victor’s teasing. Victor laughed, too. A deep rumble in his chest that Yuuri could feel shake through him like wind through chimes.

‘But that isn’t why I kept wanting to see you,’ Victor continued, his hand in Yuuri’s hair slipping down along Yuuri’s cheek. Yuuri couldn’t bring himself to open his eyes, didn’t think he could bear whatever look Victor must be giving him. ‘When we danced together, that first night, do you remember?’

Yuuri nodded blindly, Victor’s fingers blazing fire across his skin.

‘I was drawn to you then because of the way you moved to the music. Like the song was waiting inside of you and you lost you body to it, releasing it with every bend and move you did. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before,’ Victor said, lowering his voice so it sounded deep and rough, accent curving the the words together like he were writing them on Yuuri’s very soul. ‘When I got you on the ice, you showed that same beauty. Maybe no one’s seen it before, but I know it’s there.’

Yuuri held his breath, memories of their dance at the rink swirling around him in imagined spins and loops that never happened. He remembered Victor skating On Love: Eros, just for him in the silence. Like all Victor had needed to tell his story was Yuuri’s breathing and the noise of his skates.

‘You’re at your most beautiful when you’re you,’ Victor whispered, fingers trailing down to Yuuri’s lips. He ran a fingertip along Yuuri’s bottom lip, tugging ever so slightly. Yuuri leaned up, eyes still closed so there was nothing Victor’s voice, his touch. ‘It’s not Eros, or the performance you give. Your dance is captivating, but it’s the music inside you that stole my heart.’

Yuuri gasped, opening his eyes to meet Victor’s gaze. Victor’s face was like it had been split open. Marble cracked. He looked vulnerable, cheeks soft in a way they never had before and his mouth open with words half-spoken. His eyebrows were tilted down, almost sad and Yuuri watched as Victor blinked at him, pale lashes fluttering.

Stole his heart?

Victor Nikiforov, thinking Yuuri was the one worth giving such a beautiful thing to? Yuuri flushed, mouth opening and closing as he struggled to find something to say. ‘Stolen’ was the right word, as Yuuri felt like a thief. Victor’s heart was something Yuuri could never deserve, in any capacity. Especially this one.

Victor didn’t even know Yuuri. He had no idea just how much of a failure Yuuri was. If Victor remembered, even the simplest thing from the last time they were in Russia together, he'd see just how much of his time he had been wasting. But Yuuri leant into Victor’s touch regardless, desperate for the closeness. For what Victor was offering to be real.

Yuuri had never wanted anything so much. But he couldn’t manage to say a word.

Then, Victor laughed, hollow and nervous. The face Yuuri was more familiar with slipped back across Victor’s striking features, smile trained and eyes guarded. He withdrew his hand, leaning back slightly towards his side of the bed. It was as though a shutter had come down. Yuuri felt his heart pull together in his chest at the sight, constricted with an intense emotion that rippled down through him.

‘I’m-’ Victor shook his head, fringe swaying in silver shimmers. ‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said so much. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable-’

‘No, no!’ Yuuri interrupted, hands coming up to hold Victor’s face, to keep his gaze fixed on Yuuri. Yuuri needed Victor to look at him, needed to see the expression on his face. Needed to look for any hint of a lie. Because Yuuri wanted this so much. Too much. But Victor? He didn’t understand. Couldn’t understand. ‘What you said was… perfect.’

‘You must hear it all the time,’ Victor said with a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes. Yuuri started to rub his thumb across Victor’s cheek, wishing Victor would let him in again. Wanting so desperately what Victor may be offering. ‘Or something like it.’

‘No,’ Yuuri said earnestly, giving his head a quick shake. ‘Other cli- people, I’ve been with. They never showed much of an interest in me. Not the way you have, anyway.’

Yuuri echoed Victor’s motion from behind, slipping a hand down to run his thumb along Victor’s lips. Yuuri thought of how it felt to kiss Victor. To be kissed by Victor. To have his body open and pulling at Victor inside of him, like Victor was a force that could change the very shape of who Yuuri was. Yuuri knew it wasn’t real. Not truly, not with all that Victor still didn’t know about him. But right now, he was just Yuuri, lying in bed with Victor Nikiforov and there wasn’t a single dime between them.

Not yet.

‘You’re special,’ Yuuri said, watching the tip of his thumb ghost the seam of Victor’s lips. ‘More than that. For you to say any of that, to me of all people, is just… I mean-’ Yuuri paused, looking up at Victor. Seeing the colour change in his eyes like seasons. ‘Thank you, Victor.’

Yuuri moved, hands slipping around to cup Victor by the nape of his neck and pull him down. Yuuri couldn’t bear to hear anything else, couldn’t allow Victor to make any more promises Yuuri knew he couldn’t keep. He kissed Victor, lips soft and pliant beneath him as Victor made a small noise of assent. He pushed back, kissing Yuuri with a tenderness that broke Yuuri’s heart. It hurt, but it was a good hurt. Familiar like the way he’d bruise when he stepped out of a Salchow.

As Yuuri let Victor’s hands wander, a low moan escaping him as Victor slipped his tongue so beautifully into his mouth, Yuuri let the ache of everything flood through him. With each touch, each kiss, Yuuri tried to remember that this was only borrowed time. A borrowed heart, too.

Yuuri could never have been trusted with such a thing anyway.



Victor had fetched them both breakfast the next morning, a selection from pastries to fruits. Yuuri tried everything Victor had offered him, politely declining his offer of ordering room service. They had eaten in the bed, Yuuri still undressed after as Victor flittered around the room, getting his gear-bag ready for the short-program. He was dressed in his Russian kit, the red vivid in the morning light and Yuuri drank coffee quietly as Victor rattled his list aloud to himself, some in English, some not.

It was unfairly wonderful, to see Victor like this. Private and slightly bumbling, the frown he got when he realised he’d left his ID card somewhere unknown. (Inside pocket of his good coat, as it turned out). Yuuri thought of what Victor has said the night before. If only Victor knew how much else Yuuri was stealing from their time together.

‘I have to go now, miliy,’ Victor said at last, zipping up his kit while reading something on his phone. He glanced over at Yuuri, winking. ‘Don’t want Yakov to come and fetch me like last time.’

Yuuri blushed, taking a sip of the coffee Victor had made him with the ridiculous coffee-machine the hotel room offered.

‘Are you sure you wouldn’t rather be in the kiss-and-cry?’ Victor asked, sitting down on the bed and reaching out to hold Yuuri’s knee through the blanket. Yuuri swallowed his coffee, shaking his head.

‘No. I don’t think it would be a good idea,’ Yuuri said, adjusting his glasses as Victor pouted at him from beneath a perfectly styled fringe.

‘So cruel, Yuuri,’ Victor lamented, shrugging dramatically. ‘I’d like you to have a good view.’

‘The stands will be fine,’ Yuuri said gently, reaching down to take Victor’s hand. ‘Besides, no matter when I am, you’ll have my full attention.’

Victor smiled at that, almost looking smug. Yuuri resisted the urge to roll his eyes, humour and affection lacing together like patchwork inside him.

‘Do I have your word?’

‘Go, you’ll be late,’ Yuuri said, squeaking when Victor suddenly leaned forward to press a hard kiss to Yuuri’s lips. Victor still tasted like mint from his toothpaste and his chin was smooth from his shave, the whole thing sending Yuuri’s thoughts scattering far from anything other than the fact that Victor was kissing him and that was just terrible, the way it ruined Yuuri so completely.

Victor pressed one more quick kiss to Yuuri’s cheek as he stood to depart and then he was gone, vanished in a flurry of red and silver through the white door of the hotel room.

For a long time, Yuuri simply sat in the bed and watched the snow fall from the large window. Yuuri felt simultaneously unreal and yet ached so severely, that he wondered if the very room was denser just because of his presence. The hurt inside him was like a black hole, pulling everything into it and the second Victor had left, it had opened it’s mouth like a wound.

Yuuri had known for some time he was getting too close to Victor. There was blurring lines and then there was what Yuuri had been doing, which was really more into the levels of gluttonous indulgence. But never in his twelve years or so years of following the path Victor Nikiforov had carved out before him, did Yuuri ever imagine himself where he was at this moment. Now that Yuuri had it- had Victor’s attention, his intimacy, the snores he made while he slept- Yuuri found himself extremely unwilling to give it back.

It wasn’t like he had a choice in the manner. Victor was bound to get bored, move onto something, someone, else. The thought was a vice that bent Yuuri’s heart too small, so it strained under the growing weight of his feelings for Victor. Phichit had been right, Yuuri thought miserably. He should never have agreed to this.

But for now, just for now, Yuuri was going to go and watch Victor skate. He had something so precious he felt richer knowing it was within his reach than he ever had at any other time in his life. The memory of Victor from the night before, of his hot body and the drag of his cock inside of Yuuri, carried Yuuri forward to Victor with twitching fingers. It was dangerous. Foolish. To ever want something so much.

Yuuri had only ever wanted one other thing so much and it had broken his heart.

After a shower, Yuuri pulled on a pair of jeans and pale pink sweater he was pretty sure Phichit bought him on a whim, never considering Yuuri would actually wear it. Yuuri tried to put Phichit from his mind as he gave his hair a quick comb, not bothering to style it. Yuuri looked around the bathroom, turned all the soaps so the logo faced outwards as he tried to push thoughts of Phichit and home as deep down as he could. But Phichit was stubborn, even in Yuuri’s memory.

Typical, Yuuri thought, giving himself one more look over after he put his brown jacket on, cat-eared beanie to top the whole thing off. He remembered what Victor had said the day before, about finding the hat sweet.

He looked like… well, himself, really. It was weird. It was nice. Phichit would be happy.

Yuuri thumbed with his phone, surgical mask scratching as he adjusted it around his face as he left the hotel for the rink. No more missed calls. From any numbers, known or otherwise. Yuuri felt relief, breathing out into the cold Moscow air. Looked like Robert had taken the hint. Maybe he wouldn’t need to get Sophia involved after all.

The Megasports Centre was full of bustling people, the flashes of cameras and the booming voice of an announcer filled any of the space left between with tinny, echoing Russian. Yuuri felt strangely disconnected, flitting through the wide halls and up the cement steps towards his seat in the stands.

He was rather close, all things considered. Even level enough to have to peer a little over people’s heads to see the rink properly, but Yuuri would stand on his seat if he had to. Nothing meant more to him right now than seeing Victor perform. Victor would be first, which Yuuri was grateful for because the anticipation that bubbled threatened to overwhelm him.

It wasn’t long before the arena was filled, Yuuri spending the time waiting checking random news articles on his phone. It wasn’t like there was anyone who wanted to text him anyway. He and Phichit still weren’t right. Yuuri wasn’t even sure he’d want to talk to Phichit even if he did get a text.

The lights dimmed and a voice filled the arena, female and Russian. The crowd cheered along to whatever she was saying and Yuuri suddenly felt self-conscious again, hyper aware of himself. He replaced the surgical mask he had across his face again, wishing he’d left his jacket on to hide more of himself. This was Russia. Victor’s home country. They had more of an entitlement than Yuuri had.

But Yuuri suddenly forgot all of that when he saw Victor step out onto the ice.

Yuuri loved Victor’s costume for On Love: Eros. It was all sensual ripples and winking sparkle, almost subdued for Victor, really. Which really is what made it all the more powerful, if anyone were to ask Yuuri. Which Phichit had stopped doing once he realised that Yuuri would never, ever get bored of explaining all the reasons Victor’s costume choices were so inspiring. The bell sleeves flared as Victor skated to the centre of the rink with easy grace, sly smile beamed out across the panels above the stadium in beautiful HD.

Yuuri’s hands tightened into fists, pressing down onto his lap as he sat up straighter, his eyes fixed on Victor the entire time.

‘Victor Nikiforov, skating here for the first time this season in his home country of Russia, will be skating to On Love: Eros. There have been rumours of Nikiforov’s consideration of retirement given his performance so far this season, but according to Nikiforov’s interview this morning, he’s been recently inspired.

He’s changed the technical difficulty of the skate for this competition, switching one of the jump combinations to a new step sequence. An interesting choice, as it actually reduces his base score. But as always, we have high hopes for Nikiforov!’

Yuuri only half-listened to the English announcer, but he smiled when he heard of Victor changing his jump composition. That was so Victor. To do something like that, catch everyone by surprise.

The lights dimmed to a single spotlight, casting Victor is almost monochrome relief at the centre of the ice. Yuuri felt his heart pick up, catching up to a beat that hadn’t even started yet. Then, the music started. Spanish guitar and Victor was moving, arms curving up and around in a circle of seduction. And Yuuri was very much seduced.

Victor pushed off into his first step sequence. Yuuri watched, entranced by every turn and bracket, gasping every time Victor managed to flip on his skate so effortlessly. Like he was weightless, more than gliding. Almost flying. Yuuri’s heart ached, adoration flooding through him and drowning out anything but his sole attention on Victor as he moved across the ice in a striking black silhouette.

The skate was perfect, audience almost silent in their appreciation and any applause delayed by how enraptured everyone was. But it was obvious to Yuuri that Victor was barely registering the audience around him. His face was serene, eyes closed for most of it in a boldness that only Victor could achieve. Yuuri had never been that brave. He’d always watched his feet.

Victor pushed off the ice in one fluid movement, spinning like a top through his quad flip at the half-way point of the program. That was usually as late as Victor put it, usually saving a jump or spin combination for the second half. But this time as Victor landed and swept out into a graceful counter, he flipped on his skates again and turned into the new step sequence.

At first, Yuuri wasn’t sure what was wrong. But something triggered in the back of his mind as Victor’s knees bent with a Choctaw turn, closed and one leg extending out like a ballet barre. As Victor continued, body shifting side to side in serpentine as he spiralled backwards, Yuuri gasped, recognition hitting him so hard it winded him.

That wasn’t just a step sequence. That was Yuuri’s step sequence.

Grand Prix, four years ago. The sequence Yuuri had spent months creating and perfecting, inspiration from Victor’s very own senior debut. The first competition Yuuri had ever stayed up late to watch in realtime. Yuuri had spent hours meticulously studying it, changing it from diagonal to serpentine, pushing the twizzle back to divide the sequence- and here it was, exactly as Yuuri had designed it, being skated only the way Yuuri could ever have dreamed it would.

Victor was skating Yuuri’s routine. Yuuri would never forget it, couldn’t forget. Caught himself going through it himself when his mind drifted back at his rink in Detroit. And there Victor, stepping through it like he was stepping into Yuuri’s own skates.

How did he-?

As the music shifted into it’s final arrangement, Victor cast off his imaginary lover, legs spread in open invitation before he halted into his final pose, the rink echoing out with the last few notes of On Love: Eros.

The audience erupted and it felt like the whole stadium was shaking as people stood up around Yuuri. Yuuri sat back in his chair, hands shaking and breath heavy. The noise was dull around him, feeling physical like it was smothering him as the reality of what had just happened sunk it. It burrowed deep, sticking teeth into old wounds and pulling up blood.

There was no denying it. Yuuri couldn’t, not after that. Not anymore.

Yuuri dropped his head into his hands, throat closing up and panic bursting to life inside of him. Fire hot and thundering like a storm.

Victor knew.




Victor had only just left the kiss-and-cry before he demanded his phone from Yakov. He needed to speak to Yuuri, now. Immediately. He needed to know what Yuuri thought, if Yuuri saw and understood what Victor was asking of him.

Victor felt like he was floating. Body thrumming with adrenaline, heart still pounding after the exertion and all Victor could think was Yuuri Yuuri Yuuri. Did Yuuri like it? Did he understand? Victor had to know. Needed to have Yuuri close to him, to touch him and remind himself that Yuuri was here. Yuuri was here and so close, almost within reaching distance of Victor. Nothing had ever felt more fragile and Victor wanted Yuuri in his arms, safe and sheltered as soon as possible.

Yakov made a disapproving noise, muttering something about how Victor should address the press before he catered to any personal business. Victor did what he had been doing best the last few weeks and ignored Yakov entirely. Victor made his way to where he’d thrown his gear-bag haphazardly just behind the kiss-and-cry, quickly unlacing his skates and replacing them with trainers.

As Victor made his way down the hall towards the assigned cool-down room, he anxiously thumbed open his phone. No new messages. Dread settled in Victor’s stomach. Insane thoughts started to run through his head. Like maybe Yuuri was running off to book a flight back to Detroit, probably panicked by Victor’s invasion. Or maybe Yuuri hadn’t even noticed at all, his past routines likely forgotten after the years. Or maybe-

Victor didn’t get a chance to think beyond that, as when he looked up from his phone, he saw Yuuri.

Yuuri was standing just down the hall, behind one of the press barriers. He looked adorable, smaller almost in an oversized pink jumper and dark skinny jeans, bulky jacket thrown over an arm. Feminine, like he had when Victor had first met him. Eros’ clothes. Victor could tell the difference now. Yuuri had a black surgical mask pulled over his chin, covering up to his nose and eyes searching until he met Victor’s gaze. Victor tried to read his expression as he approached, tried to see if he could guess what Yuuri was going to say. But there was still so much he couldn’t see.

The hall was mostly empty, all press hounding at the kiss-and-cry for post-skate interviews. But Yuuri didn’t seem to notice, only giving the place a quick glance around before he was pushing past the barrier and striding towards Victor with purpose.

‘Yuuri, I-’

Yuuri pulled his mask down, interrupting Victor with a firm kiss that knocked Victor back. Yuuri threw his arms up and around Victor’s neck, tugging Victor down with force as Yuuri pressed his tongue against Victor’s lips. His coat fell to the floor, forgotten. Victor groaned, arousal sparking alight with his already tipping adrenaline. Yuuri took advantage, pushing his tongue into Victor’s mouth and opening his mouth wider. Victor grabbed Yuuri by the waist, spinning him and pushing him backwards until Yuuri met wall.

Yuuri made a small whimper as his back made contact, hands scrambling against Victor’s neck like he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with them. Victor knew exactly what he wanted to do with his hands though, running them down Yuuri’s waist and slipping them under the hem of his jumper.

‘Victor,’ Yuuri sighed, pulling back just to lean forward and kiss Victor again. He tilted his head back, breaking the kiss and staring up at Victor from behind his glasses. His brown eyes were cavernous, deep like a well Victor could drown in. ‘You were- what you did…’

Victor waited, heart holding it’s breath. He needed to know. Needed to hear Yuuri say it.

Please, Yuuri. Just tell me. Let me in.

But Yuuri said nothing. Instead, Yuuri fisted his hands in Victor’s costume, tugging Victor forward and kissing him again. There was a passion to Yuuri’s kiss, a whimpering desperation that tasted so beautiful Victor felt drunk with it. He swayed on his feet, hands making contact with Yuuri’s bare skin and adoring Yuuri’s hitched breath as they did. Victor fell forward, pressing Yuuri firmly up against the wall and Yuuri slipped a leg forward, thigh hugging around Victor’s hip.

They were going to get caught. Any second, a reporter or just some camera-happy arena crew could walk around the corner and take a photo that would so easily ruin both of them. Victor knew this, could hear some distant part of his brain remind him of it. But it was so hard to care when Yuuri arched his back like that, tongue so wet and insistent against Victor’s.

Victor moved his hands down, grabbing Yuuri at the curve of his waist. He pulled back, peppering one more kiss to Yuuri’s lips.

‘We shouldn’t do this here,’ Victor said, wishing his voice sounding more steady. Yuuri made a noise not unlike a whine and it went straight down to Victor’s cock. Yuuri tugged at Victor’s costume shirt, fabric pulling taut.

‘Victor, please. I need- I can’t,’ Yuuri stuttered, breathless and eyes fluttering. Victor leant forward, resting his forehead against Yuuri’s. Sharing each other’s air. ‘I need to have you. Right now.’

God, how could Victor say no to Yuuri asking him that?

Victor released Yuuri, taking a hand instead and he bolted down the hall, further away from the cool-down and around the opposite corner. Yuuri followed silently, hand tight around Victor’s. Almost painful.

Something was going on in Yuuri’s head. Something vivid, possibly dangerous and definitely something Victor was looking forward to exploring. Whatever Yuuri was thinking, Victor wanted to hear it. He wanted to feel what Yuuri felt, pass it back to him and show Yuuri that Victor was someone worth trusting to do so.

Spotting what he was looking for, Victor walked up to the door, fumbling to get it open before he slipped in, tugging Yuuri in after him.

It was a custodial closet. Small, cramped space and nearly entirely dark but for the light that came through the thick, frosted window on the door. Victor turned the lock, wasting no time in grabbing at Yuuri again, stepping forward into Yuuri’s limited space until Yuuri hit the shelves. There was a small clatter as the odd spray bottle fell, but Victor just couldn’t bring himself to care as Yuuri was kissing him again, mouth falling open in a lewd moan as Victor slipped his tongue past Yuuri’s lips.

Yuuri had his hands on Victor’s neck, fingers hard against the soft skin there and Victor canted his hips forward. He could feel the stiff resistance of Yuuri’s jeans, felt the hard outline of Yuuri’s cock against his thigh. Victor moaned, unable to stop himself and he fucked his tongue into Yuuri’s mouth with more insistence, swiping it widely along Yuuri’s and pushing his lips forward in an undulating motion.

The noise that crawled out of Yuuri’s throat was deep, guttural and Victor was getting hard, too. His cock swelled, pressing up against the firm fabric of his dancers belt and Victor tilted his head, trying to get even more access to Yuuri’s mouth.

Everywhere Yuuri was touching him felt like Yuuri was setting his skin on fire. Like Yuuri was some great, terrible reckoning and he’d come to burn Victor’s kingdom down. Victor would let him. Ask him, even. Anything to just glimpse at what Yuuri was thinking. How he truly felt.

Yuuri swung a leg up and around Victor, surprising Victor once again with his flexibility. He looped it tight, heel digging into the small of Victor’s back. His short boots were hard against Victor there, but it felt like an anchor. Weighing Victor forward. Their hips met, Yuuri’s now straining erection pressed earnestly up against Victor’s choked one. They both sighed, the heat between them igniting as Yuuri started to buck his hips slightly.

‘Christ, Yuuri. Here?’ Victor asked, already knowing he was going to say yes. Yuuri’s eyes were closed, head tilted back. His neck was on display, skin milky in the strange, filtered light. Victor licked his lips at the sight of it. He leaned forward, running his nose along the exposed skin and breathing in. Yuuri smelt like snow and Victor’s own body lotion.

Victor whined, so aroused to have Yuuri smelling of him.

Yuuri reacted with desperation, hands fumbling against Victor’s neck to try and guide his jaw back up towards his own mouth to kiss him again. Victor relented, but only for a moment, before he pulled away, trailing kisses down Yuuri’s neck.

Victor wanted Yuuri so badly. Wanted Yuuri to offer himself, just like this. Anything Yuuri was willing to share with Victor, anything at all, would be enough. Victor ran his hands down Yuuri’s waist, around his back and down onto his ass. He grabbed a handful each, squeezing the plump cheeks through the denim. Yuuri’s bucking froze, instead shifting to a more impatient grind right against Victor. Victor could feel the curve of his cock, the strain on the jeans. Victor pinched Yuuri’s ass, half-hoping he could leave fingerprints there.

Yuuri managed to get a hand between them as Victor kissed him deeply again, hand scrambling against the soft fabric of Victor’s costume before Yuuri groaned in frustration. He pressed his palm up flat against Victor’s cock, applying pressure that was just the littlest bit too much. Victor loved it, hips canting into the touch unbidden.

‘Off. Now,’ Yuuri panted, kissing down from the edges of Victor’s lips, along his jaw. The hollow junction where the edge of his jaw met his neck. Yuuri grazed his teeth there and Victor moaned, biting his lip as he caught how loud he was being. Yuuri tugged on the fabric again, causing Victor to laugh breathlessly.

‘They don’t come off like that.’

‘Then whatever way they do come off, do it,’ Yuuri said impatiently against Victor’s skin, sinking his teeth into Victor’s neck. Victor bit his lip again to stifle the noise he would’ve made.

Victor reluctantly pulled away to unhook the trousers from the shirt-belt combination, giving him the chance to shove his dancer’s belt a little ways down. Just enough to get his cock free, though it awkwardly kept his legs pretty close together as he’d only pushed his clothing aside. He took himself in hand, breathing hitching with relief at the touch. He didn’t even realise how much he’d been craving it.

When Victor looked at Yuuri again, Yuuri’s eyes were focused entirely on Victor’s cock. His mouth was parted, eyes so dark with lust. He looked hungry. Victor felt heat shoot through him, straight down from his cheeks to the tight, narrow point of his gut. He bucked into his hand, loving the way Yuuri’s mouth opened slightly wider at the motion.

Then it was all movement as Yuuri surged forward, taking Victor’s lips again in a wet kiss, tongue missing at first and streaking saliva slick across the edge of Victor’s mouth. It was messy and the most erotic thing Victor ever felt, all of it coming together in one perfect moment as Yuuri reached down, replacing Victor’s hand with his own.

He gripped Victor’s cock in a small fist, pumping it up and down so the foreskin dragged in a way that was just delicious. Victor moaned into his kiss with Yuuri, sucking Yuuri’s tongue with a fervour that could likely hurt him. But Victor could only barely register that. He wanted more. It needed to be more, right now.

Growling, Victor used both hands to pull Yuuri’s jumper up and over his head, tossing it somewhere behind them. He reached out, dislodging Yuuri’s grip on him as he took Yuuri by the hips and turned him around. He shoved Yuuri forward, watched as Yuuri grabbed onto the edges of the shelves before him. He knocked more to the floor, the clatter momentarily startling both of them with its volume. But then Victor was up against Yuuri, the only skin between them now the flared v of Victor’s shirt, chest to Yuuri’s back. Victor’s cock rubbed up against the rough of Yuuri’s denim and oh no, that definitely wouldn’t do.

‘Victor, please.’

‘Anything, Yuuri,’ Victor said and he meant it. He kissed Yuuri’s back as he ran his hands up and down the exposed skin, tracing Yuuri’s prominent rib bones and his swollen hips. He dipped down, one hand getting under the waistband of Yuuri’s jeans the other fidgeting with the button and fly. Finally, Victor got Yuuri’s jeans open and he pushed them, along with Yuuri’s boxers, down just enough to get Yuuri’s beautiful cock into his hand.

For a moment, there was nothing but Yuuri’s heavy breathing. He arched his back, an ignition to Victor’s deep engine as Victor slowly grinded his cock against Yuuri’s ass, head just teasing between the cheeks. Victor could feel the spread of his precome, the slick turning sticky on the cool skin of Yuuri’s ass. It tugged at Victor’s skin, memories of exactly what it felt like to fuck into Yuuri so strong it made Victor moan.

Victor tightened his grip on Yuuri’s cock, slowly beginning to move up and down. His other hand guided his cock down, lower and past Yuuri’s ass, so it sat almost between Yuuri’s thighs. Victor bent his knees, leaning forward so bend Yuuri even more in half. Yuuri braced himself against the shelves, head tilted up in a sinful curve. The view, even from the back, was perfect.

They didn’t have anything. No lube, no condoms. Victor knew he should probably stop this, pull Yuuri back up and ask him if he was sure. But Victor just couldn’t bring himself to do that. Not with Yuuri bending over like that, not with Yuuri hissing impatiently for Victor to move, touch me, please.

Victor could deny Yuuri nothing.

Pumping Yuuri’s cock, Victor reached another hand up and over Yuuri’s shoulder. He moved until he could feel Yuuri’s lips, which fell open to accommodate him. Instantly, two of Victor’s fingers were enveloped in the velvet heat of Yuuri’s mouth. Yuuri pushed his tongue between them, mouth unbelievably slick as Victor started to move his fingers in and out of Yuuri’s mouth. Victor just contained his whimper as Yuuri made a small moan around his fingers. Like nothing could possibly give Yuuri more pleasure than having Victor inside of him. Any part of him.

Victor wished, perhaps stupidly, that such a want extended to having Victor in his life, too. The hope of it spread like tendrils, wrapping around Victor’s arousal and pulling it tight. He gripped Yuuri better, rolling the foreskin over the head of his cock and Victor fell in love with the noise Yuuri made. It was soft and desperate, and Victor wondered if he’d ever be able to touch himself again without hearing Yuuri make that exact noise in his head forever.

Suddenly, there was a different noise. One that didn’t come from either of them.

Victor pressed his chest flat against Yuuri’s back, his costume bunching between them in a pool of nylon heat. There were people outside, speaking in Russian about the competition. Victor caught snippets, realising they must be journalists of some kind. They were discussing possible results, even Victor himself. But none of that mattered, because as they approached, Yuuri’s cock twitched in Victor’s hand and Yuuri’s mouth sucked hard on Victor’s fingers.

Oh. Oh.

‘Shh,’ Victor whispered, though Yuuri had been blissfully silent. It got the right reaction though, as Yuuri pushed his ass back against Victor’s cock. It slipped up again, between the cheeks and head pressing up against Yuuri’s perineum. Victor experimented, giving short, piston bucks forward. A small, but high, whine escaped Yuuri’s mouth.

Victor grinned against the back of Yuuri’s neck, arousal thick and pooling low inside of him. The journalists walked past their hideaway, shadows crossing the window. Yuuri pushed back into Victor’s movement, the two of them rocking against each other in a dirty grind, precome slick and beading down Yuuri’s cock, giving Victor’s fingers easy pull.

Victor took his fingers from Yuuri’s mouth, saliva trailing. He pulled away slightly to reach down between them, slicking his cock up with the wet from Yuuri’s mouth. He swallowed the groan that rose up inside of him. Who knew how close those journalists were? If they knew, if he and Yuuri were caught-

‘Victor~’

God, the way Yuuri said his name. It was barely more than a whisper, but it was enough.

Victor released Yuuri’s cock, enjoying Yuuri’s soft gasp of disappointment. Victor pushed Yuuri’s legs together, thighs closely pressed. Then he pushed forward, bending slightly to get the right angle. His cock slipped into the tight space between Yuuri’s thighs, eased by the slick of Yuuri’s salvia and Victor’s own precome. Victor took a moment to enjoy the feeling, closed his eyes and just listened to the short, panting breath of the man beneath him.

Then, Victor started to move.

Precome pooled and dragged around him, coating Yuuri’s inner thighs with a slick that tugged on Victor’s cock in a way lube didn’t. Lube didn’t dry, or at least, it didn’t like this. Victor held Yuuri by the hips, holding him steady as he fucked between his legs. Yuuri was almost silent, small breaths and tiny ah’s slipping out. But as Victor found a rhythm, as he began to push more forward, head of his cock brushing on the underside of Yuuri’s balls, Yuuri’s composure withered.

‘Uh, Vic-ah, Victor,’ Yuuri moaned, too loud and Victor pressed right up against Yuuri’s back again, reaching a hand up to cover Yuuri’s mouth. Yuuri only seemed to take that as an invitation to be louder, given how he made a choked sob against Victor’s palm.

Victor slipped his other hand down, fisting Yuuri’s cock again. Yuuri was so slick, leaking down himself in thick drops. It pooled between Victor’s fingers, spreading thickly as Victor moved his hand up and down. Yuuri panted wetly into Victor’s other hand, knuckles turning white from where they gripped the edge of the shelves in front of them. Victor rocked into him, cock so wet now from precome and slick sweat between Yuuri’s thighs that it had him fucking faster. Yuuri grunted, grinding back against Victor.

Sweat was beginning to gather on Victor’s back. He was overheating from his costume, from the adrenaline. From Yuuri squirming beneath him, apparently torn between fucking into Victor’s hand or rocking back against Victor’s cock.

It was all going to be over much too soon. Victor knew that. He had to let Yuuri’s mouth go, instead gripping Yuuri’s bare shoulder to keep Yuuri steady as his hips turned erratic in their pistoning forward. Once free, Yuuri started to speak. Garbled, half-moaned babbling but what he said had Victor stuttering.

‘You were amazing,’ Yuuri panted, voice just above a strained whisper. ‘Absolutely ah-amazing. Don’t stop, I’m so close!’

Victor kept stroking Yuuri’s cock, feeling the blurred, hot edges of his own orgasm beginning to mount. Yuuri suddenly leaned more forward, giving Victor a better angle but also throwing a hand out madly. He knocked something else, sending the bottle or spray or whatever to the ground with a clatter. Yuuri threw his head back, glasses looking like they were too close to falling off.

‘It was for you,’ Victor said, purring the words into the back of Yuuri’s neck. Yuuri keened softly, cock pulsing in Victor’s hands suddenly as he came, his entire body going still with it. Victor felt Yuuri’s release erupt all over his hand, dripping down between his fingers. That was about all it took.

Victor came, turning to sink his teeth into Yuuri’s skin. Not enough to mark, but enough to stop the groan that threatened to escape him. He felt himself between Yuuri’s thighs, hot and wet. It took a moment for Victor to stop pushing into it, body still craving the warmth and tightness Yuuri offered.

They both just breathed, perhaps a little too loudly if Victor thought about it. Reluctantly, Victor pulled himself away from Yuuri’s body. He looked around, spotting a packet of unopened wash-clothes that managed to survive Yuuri’s assault on the shelves. He reached up, hands shaking and took the packet down.

Yuuri stood on his trembling legs, letting Victor take care of himself before he moved to clean Yuuri up as well. After readjusting his dancer belt and trousers, Victor went to look after Yuuri. Yuuri made a soft noise of protest as Victor knelt down, but Victor hushed him gently. He tried to ignore how silent Yuuri was, but it ate at him. The silence was almost a presence in itself. Victor wiped up the mess he made of Yuuri, trying not to be too rough with the coarse cloth. When he was satisfied, Victor threw the cloth into a nearby bucket, picking Yuuri’s jumper up as he got up from the floor. Yuuri replaced his jeans, eyes down.

Victor offered the jumper to Yuuri, who took it silently, hand careful not to brush Victor’s. Victor frowned, dread washing over him. Something wasn’t right.

‘Need help?’ he offered, but Yuuri just shook his head, taking the jumper and slipping it back on over his head. Even in the near-dark, Victor could see Yuuri’s flushed face. His swollen lips. There was no way anyone could look at him and not know. Victor felt bizarrely proud of such, but it was undone by the nervousness he still felt that Yuuri was withdrawing somehow.

‘Thank you,’ Yuuri said once he’d righted himself. He reached out, straightening the collar of Victor’s shirt. The touch was welcome, but Yuuri wasn’t looking at him, instead focusing on his own hands. The lack of eye contact made Victor uneasy.

‘So, my short-program,’ Victor started carefully, noticing how Yuuri stiffened. Victor took Yuuri’s hands in his own, careful not to hold on too tightly. There was something about the way Yuuri held his shoulders, how his arms bent inwards. Like he was trying to make himself smaller. Victor didn’t want Yuuri to be so self-conscious. He tried, cautious; ‘What did you think?’

Yuuri said nothing at first, eyes still downcast. Then, he looked up. His brown eyes were shining in the half-light, watching Victor from behind his glasses. He blinked for a moment before smiling. It was a small smile; tentative, kiss-red and everything Victor could ever ask for.

‘To have you skate like that, for me,’ Yuuri said slowly, raising a hand to touch Victor’s cheek. Victor leaned into the touch, heart on the razor’s edge as he waited for Yuuri to say it. Please Yuuri, just say it. Yuuri ran a finger down Victor’s face, under his jaw. ‘No one could ask for anything more.’

Yuuri met his gaze again, colours in stripes like woodgrain.

‘After I saw you I-’ Yuuri paused, slipping his bottom lip under his teeth. Victor watched the movement. He noticed that Yuuri tended to do that when he was uncomfortable, or when he was trying not to say something. Victor tried not to feel disappointed, tried contain the hurt. Say it! Yuuri smiled, soft and small again. ‘I know it was a bit much. But I had to have to you. I just… I needed you.’

Victor waited.

‘I hope that was okay,’ Yuuri said at last and Victor frowned, confused.

‘Wha- Of course it was,’ he replied shakily, trying to catch his breath. Maybe he hadn’t been clear enough. Maybe Yuuri didn’t remember that routine. Victor wasn’t sure. He hated not being sure.

Victor swallowed, fingers tightening around Yuuri’s reflexively. Yuuri held him right back, which did something to soothe the hurt that was beginning to gather inside of Victor. Victor had hoped… Victor shook his head. He had been foolish. Stupid to think Yuuri would offer his honesty just because Victor asked. Yuuri had probably had hundreds of clients who’d tried to know him, tried asking.

But after last night, Victor really thought he was within a chance. Yuuri had sounded so genuine, had felt so real beneath his fingertips. Had done so again, just a few moments ago.

No, Victor thought as Yuuri guided them both out of the closet, head glancing up and down the hall before he stepped out completely, taking Victor after him. I’m different. I know I’m different.

If Yuuri wasn’t going to admit the truth now, then Victor would just ask him again. And Victor would ask for everything next time. No more expectations. If Yuuri wanted it, then Victor would give everything in his power to give it. Including the option to not-choose Victor at all, if that was what he wanted. Victor was pretty sure that what he and Yuuri had was something worth choosing, but there was still the possibility Yuuri didn’t think so. The thought made Victor feel heavy.

Victor looked at Yuuri. He looked at his messy black hair, his narrow neck. He thought of the noises Yuuri had made, how needy he had been Victor’s touch, his kiss. Victor hoped it was real. Victor wanted it so badly to be real.

One more time, Victor thought as Yuuri caught him looking. Yuuri smiled, eyes bright like the sun. I’ll ask you one more time.

Chapter Text

Yuuri closed the menu. Stared at the faux-leather, the slightly faded gilding on the words, then he opened it again. And like the first four times he had done it, the Cyrillic was just as incomprehensible so Yuuri snapped the menu closed again. He could feel Victor watching him, the space of the table between them feeling like miles in the small booth of the lofted restaurant Victor had brought them to. Moscow swirled in snow and streetlight outside, the air of the restaurant filled with laughter and glass.

Yuuri was hyper aware of Victor sticking to his side, even stretching out his own legs a bit to see if he could find Victor’s. No such luck. Without the ability to reach out and touch, Yuuri was finding it very hard to ground himself in the wake of everything. Instead, Yuuri just rolled his shoulders, wondering if it were possible for him to become smaller. Preferably so small that Victor couldn't glare at him from across the table like that. 

Yuuri flicked his eyes up, meeting Victor’s gaze. Okay, maybe he wasn't being fair. Glaring wasn't the right word. But there was definitely something targeted in Victor’s eyes as they looked at Yuuri, hooded dark in the low lighting of the restaurant.

Throat thick, Yuuri fidgeted with the collar of his shirt. (Silk, swoop-necked. Eros’ shirt). Why was Victor doing this? Yuuri knew that Victor knew the truth now. Victor must know it, too. Knew Yuuri had been lying, was still lying. Why hadn't he said anything?

He was probably trying to think of a way to let Yuuri down nicely. Or maybe, a traitorous little voice in Yuuri’s head suggested. He’s thought of a way to get you back for lying to him.

Victor wouldn’t do that. Yuuri stared down at the closed menu, blood pounding. Would he?

Yuuri reached out and took a long sip of the wine Victor had ordered when they had arrived. Vinegary, cold and it stung the back of his nose as he drank too much. Victor watched, eyes widening as Yuuri put the glass down with shaking fingers. Yuuri looked away sharply, out across at the glamour and foreignness of the other patrons. Their Russian was hard in Yuuri’s ears.

He couldn't believe it. After four years, after swearing to himself never to let it happen, Yuuri once again found himself in Russia with Victor, crushed under the weight of his failures.

‘Are you okay?’ Victor asked, voice quiet. Yuuri bristled, legs snapping together and back straight.  

‘Yes. Perfect,’ he snapped, before flinching at the sound of panic he could hear himself. English squeaking like a tire. Victor frowned, rolling his shoulders beneath his clean, black shirt.

‘You're shaking.’

‘It's cold.’

‘Is it? Would you like a jacket?’

‘No,’ Yuuri replied curtly, tugging in the sleeves of his shirt. Liquid fabric, pooled silk. Drowning him. ‘No. I'm fine, thank you.’

They said nothing for a while after that. Yuuri watched the restaurant around them, watching people walk to and from the bar at the far end. The language was so stifling. Loud, sharp. It rang around Yuuri the way Japanese never had, the way English had long dulled from. If he could just get a moment to think. Just a second. Even earlier, when he'd been alone in their- Victor’s hotel room, getting ready to meet Victor here after the competition, Yuuri had felt cornered in by Victor’s presence.

Victor’s clothes on the floor, his language on the television. His hair on the sheets where they'd made love the night before.

Yuuri had only been left alone for a brief two hours. And in those two hours, he had managed to successfully work himself up into quite the panic. Over and over, Yuuri had went through Victor’s skate. Watched the replay on his phone as he dried off from his shower, had looked up his old rankings while he brushed his teeth. It had to have been on purpose. Victor was telling him something. Wasn’t he? Yuuri ran circles in his head as he had put his contacts in, wiped tears from his face as he had checked his reflection in the mirror before meeting Victor in the lobby.

Just one small second. Yuuri ran his hands across the edge of the table, white tablecloth rough beneath his fingertips. Bathroom? Didn’t know where it was. Couldn’t read the signs. Bar? Maybe, if he could just-

Yuuri jumped as Victor’s hands took his across the table, tugging them away from the edge and resting them at the centre of the table between them. He held on tight, fingers folding over Yuuri’s and shielding his knuckles. Victor’s skin was so white it was almost alien, Yuuri’s fingers dark beneath him. Had he always been that way?

‘Talk to me,’ Victor said quietly, eyes firm on Yuuri’s. Blue question. Yuuri swallowed awkwardly, throat tight.

‘I-’ Yuuri didn't know what to say. Didn't how to start. Scared that if he did dare to, he wouldn’t be able to stop and it would all come flooding out of him. All the secrets he’d buried, all the feelings he wished he could put in the ground, too. All the things he knew Victor didn’t, couldn’t possibly, want to hear. The skate was… what was it?

Yuuri wanted to ask, but he was afraid of the answer. What if it had been just coincidence? After all, Yuuri had only designed that sequence from Victor’s own skating in the first place. Maybe it was just chance for Victor to return to it. But the Choctaw, the mid-section twizzle. Those were Yuuri’s edits. He was sure. Was he sure?

Yuuri didn’t realise he had looked away from Victor until a hand came up to his chin, long fingers gently guiding Yuuri back to Victor’s gaze.

‘Do you want to go back to the hotel?’ Victor asked quietly, Yuuri blinking the sting in his eyes away as he forced himself to stare at Victor’s face. Yuuri couldn’t see anything there. No trace of amusement, or arched satisfaction. The only thing Yuuri could see was how confused Victor seemed, the deep line of worry on his brow.

Say it, Yuuri thought to himself. If he could just say it, he would know. Victor would tell him. Yuuri trusted Victor to tell him.

Or maybe not, because Yuuri’s tongue still felt too heavy. Felt like his chest was constricted, ribs pulling together until nothing could make it’s way out but the short, nervous breaths he was taking. Victor ran a soft finger over his bottom lip and Yuuri gasped, flinching back before he could stop himself. Saw the quick flash of hurt in Victor’s face as he did, but still found himself unable to say a thing.

Yuuri flinched to himself as he thought of their quick fuck in the closet. He felt himself blush, shame flooding through him. It had been wrong to do that- Yuuri knew Victor wouldn't stop him, wouldn't ask any further questions if Yuuri kept him just the right kind of distracted. Yuuri knew it had been stupid, selfish, to use Victor like that. Bury the truth of their situation in the familiar touch and bend of sex. Victor had never felt less like a client than he had that afternoon. The guilt of trying to treat him as such hadn't left Yuuri since it happened.

Before either of them could say anything, a crisply dressed waiter came to the table. He spoke in quiet Russian, but with the distraction, Yuuri managed to untangle himself from Victor’s grip. The waiter spoke exclusively to Victor anyway, eyes not even skittering to Yuuri’s direction. Yuuri relaxed a small bit as Victor looked away to address the waiter, sinking back into the plush velour of the booth.

This was easier. More familiar. Yuuri was used to this- being the idle escort, the pretty thing the waiters knew better than to ask for an opinion from. Yuuri wondered how many other people Victor had brought here, as the waiter seemed quite friendly. Wondered, stupidly, if maybe Yuuri was the favourite.

When Victor turned to ask him what he like, Yuuri just muttered the pasta. Every restaurant had a pasta. With a curt nod, Victor relayed it to the waiter and dismissed him. Yuuri squirmed uncomfortably as they were left alone again. It was only a matter of time, surely. Victor was bound to bring it up if Yuuri didn’t. But still, Yuuri said nothing. If he could only keep it going a little longer, preserve the fantasy that this dangerous, illicit thing between them was sustainable.

‘Is there something on your mind?’ Victor asked finally, voice very quiet. When Yuuri looked at him from across the table, he wasn’t looking at Yuuri anymore. Instead, his eyes were obscured by his long fringe as he looked down at his own hands, long fingers lacing and unlacing nervously. 

‘No,’ Yuuri lied. Victor sighed, head hanging again and Yuuri flushed guiltily. He thought over everything that had happened since he’d arrived. He pinched the tablecloth between his fingers. ‘Okay. Yes.’

Victor’s head snapped up, blue eyes bright and lips parted. Yuuri took a deep breath. Ran a nervous finger around his ear, pushing stray hairs back.

‘Are you quitting?’

‘What?’ Victor replied, obviously confused. But Yuuri sat up straight, looked at Victor resolutely from across the table. He dropped his hands down beneath the table. Across the room, a champagne bottle opened and people cheered, drunken noise. Victor shook his head. ‘Quitting what?’

‘Skating,’ Yuuri said, digging his hands into his thighs. Heart rabbiting in his chest. ‘Is it true you're quitting after this season?’

Victor smacked his lips slowly, the action thinning them into a line. He leaned back in his chair, regarding Yuuri carefully. Yuuri stared back, afraid. Victor looked like he had in the odd poster he had back in his flat. Imposing as the shadows crossed his sharp features, powerful like most men of his class. Though if Yuuri was honest, Victor didn’t really conform to those stuffy standards in a lot of ways. Right now however, in his designer shirt and sitting aloft in the skyline of Moscow, Victor looked every inch of the Victor Nikiforov Yuuri had imagined before meeting him.

‘Who told you that?’ Victor asked, voice low.

‘Plisetsky,’ Yuuri replied, knowing now there was no point in pretending to mispronounce the teenager’s name. Like Yuuri hadn’t learned it from the moment it became attached to Victor’s.

‘I see,’ Victor said slowly, putting a finger to his chin. He closed his eyes briefly, before looking at Yuuri again. All blue, laser focus. ‘Anything else?’

‘What else is there?’ Yuuri asked, genuinely. Victor said nothing and it felt like Yuuri was fissuring. His surface splintering, like the quakes that had trembled his bedroom back in Japan. Yuuri had thought himself daring there, brave almost. To challenge Victor like that. But now Yuuri just felt foolish. ‘Why do you want to retire?’

Victor shook his head. Yuuri looked at Victor’s wine, still untouched since he’d ordered it. The condensation slipped down it’s surface in glittering beads. ‘Why do you care if I retire?’

‘You must know,’ Yuuri said softly, closing his eyes as the tears threatened to come again. His eyes were burning, his cheeks were burning. Everything Yuuri was, burning up and out of him like ash. He felt so stupid.

The waiter swung by again, this time with a small bread basket and to top up Yuuri’s wine. Victor watched quietly as Yuuri thanked the waiter in English, getting a tight smile in response. Then they were alone again, silent as the grave. Yuuri knew this was going badly. Knew it could only ever have come to this point. Especially now, as they tiptoed around the edge of the thing that Yuuri’s lies had driven between them.

‘I have something for you,’ Victor said at last, thankfully changing the subject. Yuuri took another sip of his wine as Victor slipped a hand into his suit jacket. He then nearly choked on said wine as Victor pulled out a neat, white envelope. It was practically luminous in the dim lighting of the restaurant and Yuuri held his breath as Victor held the envelope out for Yuuri to take. Across the table, like a white flag for surrender. Only it wasn’t. It was-

Money.

Yuuri was so stupid. So stupid. Of course. Yuuri stared down the envelope, clutching his glass so tightly it tipped, wine almost spilling. Deep down, Yuuri expected this. He expected that once Victor had learned the truth, learned that Yuuri had been lying this whole time, he would want to terminate their arrangement. And there was the proof- tangible, paper weight before him. But it still stung. It still bit him sharply at the back of his throat and, embarrassingly, he could feel tears prickle the corners of his eyes once again.

‘Oh,’ was all Yuuri could think of to say. Victor still held the envelope out, but Yuuri couldn’t reach for it. Wouldn’t reach for it. Once he did, that would be the end of… well, everything. Yuuri had known since they’d started that it had to end. But now, staring down the face of it, Yuuri wanted to scramble back into Victor’s arms and beg him to be allowed stay.

Yuuri didn’t realise how long he had been silent until Victor huffed at him. He waved the envelope slightly.

‘Please, take it.’

Yuuri put his wine-glass down. It skidded across the table as he scrambled to keep it upright, but Yuuri bit his lower lip tight to compose himself. He could do this. He did it all the time. He knew it was coming and while Yuuri really didn’t want to, letting Victor go was something he expected and knew he had to make peace with. It was only fair, really, that Victor had decided this. Given everything.

Then why did you skate? Yuuri screamed into his head, but didn’t ask. Why did you skate for me at all? Why do any of this?

Some terrible, fragile thing, deep inside, whispered that maybe it was because Victor was telling him something. That maybe Victor was reaching out to him. But rationality quickly stomped that hope down. Yuuri knew better than that. Victor was the Victor Nikiforov, what would he want with a washed up nobody who had done nothing but prove how unworthy he was of the attention to begin with? Victor’s only intention had to have been to show Yuuri that he knew the truth, and Victor’s silence on the matter outside of the rink only showed how little he thought of it.

The tears were truly present now and Yuuri blinked desperately, hoping Victor wouldn’t notice his flush as the reality of the situation hit him as hard and cold as the surface of the ice Yuuri was so familiar with falling on.

Slowly, Yuuri reached out and took the envelope. He could see his own hand shaking, but Yuuri couldn’t bear to look up at Victor. Knew he wouldn’t be able to look at the impassive look Victor no doubt was wearing. Victor had made his decision, and Yuuri as his escort had to respect that. Once he had the envelope, Yuuri went to slip it into his satchel but Victor stopped him with; ‘Open it.’

Yuuri looked at Victor quickly, mouth open in hurt. Open it? Here, now? Yuuri turned the envelope over in his hand. It was light, thin. Cheque then, not cash. Made sense, really. Yuuri stared down at it as he stared back at him, all accusing precision. Did Victor really mean to embarrass Yuuri like this? It didn’t seem in his nature, didn’t seem like the Victor Yuuri had come to know, to care about. The Victor that melted like snow between Yuuri’s fingers and used his teeth to carve space in Yuuri’s skin, in Yuuri’s heart, for Victor to fit in.

Slowly, carefully, Yuuri pried the lip of the envelope up and out of it’s slip. He ran a questioning fingertip over the line of the paper inside, confused as it didn’t sit in the shape of a cheque. Yuuri gave Victor a quick look, but Victor was completely focused on Yuuri’s hands as they pulled the paper out. Yuuri unfolded it, leaving the envelope abandoned on the table.

Looking down, Yuuri skimmed over the illegible Cyrillic before his eyes caught the only English he could recognise. Once he did, the pattern of the tables and boxes on the sheet snapped together in his head in perfect clarity. Yuuri knew what this was. Had seen it before, had one of his own from just a week prior.

Non-reactive, the English read next to the letters Yuuri could recite backwards and forwards after years of his own tests. He ran a finger over where Negative was stamped in following tables. All clear, all negative.

‘I… I don’t know what to say,’ Yuuri said because it was true.

After all that worrying, after all Yuuri had imagined, both good and bad, Victor just wanted… to carry on, as if nothing had happened at all?

Yuuri frowned, pressing creases into the letter from the sexual health clinic. Was that even option? To just carry on, like Victor had never found out the truth? Maybe Yuuri had been right to think it was coincidence. Maybe Victor had been thinking of nothing but their arrangement this whole time. Yuuri’s vision swam for a second as he blinked through the tears, stomach churning itself into an uncomfortable knot.

To be honest, Yuuri wasn’t sure if this was better or worse. It felt worse, but then, Yuuri couldn’t really attest that Victor outright confronting him would’ve been better. But feeling this wrong-footed, this confused- Yuuri felt like he was floating; groundless and very, very lost.

‘Yuuri.’

Yuuri snapped back up to look at Victor at that, eyes wide. It was the first time Victor had said Yuuri’s name since their evening had started, not that Yuuri had been waiting for it, because that would be crazy. (Maybe he’d been waiting, just the smallest bit). Victor was looking at Yuuri with a very guarded expression on his face. It reminded Yuuri starkly of the look Victor wore on the ice. Was this a performance, too?

‘There’s something I’d like to ask you,’ Victor continued, his voice a deep rumble to Yuuri’s earth, shaking the world around them. Yuuri placed the paper down on the table, face down.

This was fine. Yuuri could do this. It wasn’t an unusual request. In fact, it was more common than Victor obviously gave it credit for. Yuuri ran a hand through his hair, taking a deep breath to try and slip himself back into the persona that had caught Victor’s attention in the first place. Eros was easy, Eros was safe. Eros was evidently all Victor was interested in and if that was the case, then Yuuri was willing to go along with that. Any fantasy Yuuri had indulged in by falling for Victor’s intimacy had to be well and truly put to bed. Now.

‘I’m flattered,’ Yuuri interrupted, before Victor could speak again. He fidgeted with the stem of his glass, just for something to do with his hands. ‘And you’re not the first to ask for this. But I’m sorry, I can’t. In my line of work, I really can’t afford to take any risks like that. You understand, I hope?’

Victor narrowed his eyes, looking at Yuuri with a side glance. ‘I don’t think you understand what I’m asking you.’

‘No, I think I do,’ Yuuri said, like Victor hadn’t spoken at all, holding his hand up to try and stop Victor muttering over him. ‘But even if I were to consider, I don’t have anything prepared for you.’

‘Are you healthy?’ Victor asked and Yuuri blushed, his frail confidence slipping away again. He shook his head quickly, before feeling himself turn even redder as he realised that such an action didn’t look very good at all.

‘Yes! Of course I am, I mean- yes,’ Yuuri finished lamely, covering his face with his hands as he gave into the embarrassment and nerves entirely. What chance was there of saving the situation now anyway? Yuuri sighed, looking at Victor through his fingers. ‘I was tested last week. I’m clean.’

‘Then what’s the problem?’ Victor said, smiling a little for the first time in the night. He reached out, gently taking Yuuri’s hands away from his face. Victor laughed, but it sounded nervous even to himself. ‘Do you find me that repulsive?’

‘You know I don’t,’ Yuuri whispered back, as if there was any level of propriety left in their conversation. ‘But I don’t have the proof with me, I have nothing to give you.’

‘You told me you were fine. That’s enough for me,’ Victor said kindly, running a warm hand over Yuuri’s cheek, into his hair. Yuuri leant into the touch, unable to help himself. Victor was so easy to fall for, Yuuri’s heart beating treacherously like it was calling out beneath his skin for Victor’s touch. It wasn’t fair. None of this was fair.

Yuuri knew he was fine. He had actively declined appointments, cancelled on clients after Robert. He had tried to work his way through this new, bubbling affection for Victor. Yuuri hadn’t wanted to sleep with anyone else before Moscow, couldn’t bring himself to even consider it as he thought of seeing Victor again. He knew he was in too deep now. Well in over his head. But it was so hard to care when Victor was looking at him like that.

Like Yuuri was beautiful. Like Yuuri was something to be admired, to be watched with as much attention and adoration as Yuuri had watched Victor all his life. It was humbling. It was terrifying. It was… temporary.

‘I can’t agree to it,’ Yuuri said sadly, pulling away from Victor. He spotted their waiter by the bar, negotiating with the chef. He watched as the waiter pulled tableware through the small window between bar and kitchen. Yuuri sighed and moved, taking the hand in his hair within one of his own. He held it to his face, like Yuuri could somehow hold Victor in his life. ‘I’m sorry. But there are certain boundaries I just can’t cross with a client. Even you.’

Victor said nothing for what felt like the longest time. Yuuri kept his eyes closed, breathed in the scent of Victor’s cologne from his wrist. It filled his chest like water.

‘Yuuri,’ Victor said and Yuuri opened his eyes, meeting Victor’s questioning smile. Victor took Yuuri’s face in his in hand in earnest now, palm cupping Yuuri’s cheek as he guided Yuuri to look at him properly. ‘Like I said, you misunderstand what I’m asking you.’

Yuuri frowned, confused.

‘I haven’t been with anyone since I’ve met you Yuuri,’ Victor said, eyes fixed on Yuuri’s. Yuuri watched Victor right back, feeling his cheeks grow hot at the words. Victor tightened his grip on Yuuri’s other hand, pinching his fingers together so the knuckles were digging in awkwardly. ‘And going forward, I’d like it to stay that way.’

Yuuri’s mouth fell open, surprised. Like Victor always managed.

But Yuuri didn’t dare say anything, didn’t dare breathe a word. It was too good to be true. Yuuri had to be misconstruing it. He had to be. But the skate! The skate, the envelope, Victor’s face-

‘I don’t understand,’ Yuuri said, his voice sounding suspiciously thick as his eyes filled at the corners, forgotten tears making a reappearance.

‘I would also like,’ Victor continued, like Yuuri had said nothing. He was looking at where his hand was touching Yuuri’s face now, seemingly lost in the feeling of it. But Yuuri couldn’t look away from his eyes. ‘I would like if you were to do the same.’

‘The same?’ Yuuri repeated lamely. Victor gave that nervous laugh again.

‘Yes, Yuuri,’ Victor said and Yuuri’s heart tripped over itself at the sound of his name. Victor was looking at Yuuri again, eyes like ink in the dark restaurant light. Yuuri wondered if Victor could see what Yuuri saw when their gaze met like this. ‘I’m hoping, well, I’m asking you to consider, if you want to of course, becoming exclusive. With me.’

Yuuri went to pull back, but Victor suddenly tightened his grip.

‘No more money,’ Victor said sternly, r folding the sentence in half. Yuuri fell into the crease of it. ‘No more Eros. No more pretending.’

Yuuri knew he was breathing too fast, knew it was obvious. He could hear his own heartbeat in his ears and could feel the shivers in his fingers, despite how steady Victor tried to hold them. He tried to move away, but Victor wouldn’t let him. Or maybe he wasn’t really trying. Yuuri wasn’t sure. Wasn’t sure what to do, what to say.

To hear this- those words from Victor. Said so genuinely, so sincerely. Like it was nothing, like Victor was asking for the simplest thing. Like it never crossed Victor’s mind that Yuuri could never, would want to never, say no. It was too good to be true. It had to be. Victor couldn’t mean it, he didn’t understand. Yuuri felt dishonest, felt unworthy. He’d only gotten Victor’s attention because he’d been hired as Eros- anything Victor felt for Yuuri was just a by-product of that. It had to be. Yuuri was just… Yuuri. Victor only thought he wanted such a thing with him. It wouldn’t be fair for Yuuri to accept, would it?

Before Yuuri could say anything, their waiter interrupted them again with some curt Russian. Yuuri jumped backwards in his seat, out of Victor’s reach. As the food was placed down, the pasta swimming in something green, Yuuri slipped out of the booth in one, quick motion. Victor leaned around the waiter, face white.

‘Yuuri-!’

‘I need a drink,’ Yuuri replied tightly, turning on his heel and walking away from Victor’s booth. He wove his way through the expensive tables, past the long, angled window that showed the snow drifting in different colours from the skyline. Green, blue and purple. Once Yuuri made it to the bar, he nearly collapsed over it as the anxiety hit him. Waves and waves of panic, shock and most painfully, hope.

Just the night before, Yuuri had been so ready to let Victor walk through his door and break his heart again. Twice over. But now, now the promise of such was being invited to Yuuri over dinner and he wasn’t sure he was prepared for it. Because with sickening, heavy realisation, Yuuri accepted the truth of the matter.

Yuuri liked Victor. He really, really liked Victor. More than he should, more than he ever should’ve allowed himself. Phichit had been right, Yuuri should never have gotten involved. Should’ve called it quits while he was ahead. But it was too late now. Now Yuuri had everything he’d never even known he’d wanted, offered out to him as easily as the barman was now offering water and Yuuri couldn’t accept.

How could Yuuri say yes? After everything they’d been through already, it seemed like it would be so easy. Yuuri wanted to. He desperately wanted to. But there was no way it could end well. Once Victor learned the truth about Yuuri- not just the rest about the skating, but the why of Yuuri’s retirement. The drive Yuuri had for escorting. The enjoyment Yuuri used to get from it. The anxiety. Yuuri just knew that once he let Victor all the way in, any illusion Victor had created would be well and truly shattered. Despite how sure Yuuri had been the night before, he was less sure now he could take that rejection.

Vy khotite vypit'?’ The barman asked and Yuuri jumped, looking at him wildy.

‘Uh…’ Yuuri replied, dazed by the Russian. The bartender tried again, thick eyebrows coming together.

‘Vodka?’ he said, accent strong. Yuuri hated vodka, but he nodded along fervantly.

‘Yes. Da.’

Yuuri remembered that one.

Once the vodka was in front of him, straight and in a long glass, Yuuri considered going back to Victor. But he couldn’t move. Or wouldn’t. Yuuri wasn’t sure. Instead, he just stared down at his glass, wondering if Phichit would answer if he were to call him. Yuuri wanted to call him, wanted to hear his voice. Wanted Phichit to come and get him, like this was some one of those parties Yuuri had just overdone it at.

It wasn’t fair, Yuuri thought to himself for the upteenth time that evening. Why couldn’t anything ever be simple? Why were things with Victor so-?

‘Can I get you a drink?’

Yuuri blinked, looking over his shoulder at the man next to him, the accent much less attractive on him than on Victor. Yuuri gave him a once over, taking him in. Black suit, wide tie. Shiny shoes and a glass of something amber. He was older than Yuuri, definitely. White, but most people here were from what Yuuri could see. He was smiling, too. But Yuuri knew that smile on a man, knew it like the back of his hand.

‘Thank you, but I already have one,’ Yuuri replied, tense shoulders dropping down slightly as he leaned into himself. Muscle memory. Yuuri reached out for his vodka, picked it up. He swirled it around in his glass, not quite prepared to drink it.

‘You look familiar,’ the man said, his English leering as he gave Yuuri an obvious look over. Yuuri shifted his hips. He wasn’t used to feeling uncomfortable in Eros’ clothes, or at least, he hadn’t felt so in quite a long time. But now, in his tight trousers and low shirt, Yuuri felt the stranger’s eyes on him like a burn. ‘I’m sure I’ve seen your face before.’

‘I hope you don’t say that every Japanese person you meet,’ Yuuri said absently, looking back out at the bar. Counting the bottles on the shelves there. He put his glass to his face, tilted it until the vodka burned the front of his lips.

The man laughed loudly, moving in the corner of Yuuri’s eye. When Yuuri looked again, he was out of his seat and moving into Yuuri’s space. He looked at Yuuri with his dark eyes, crows feet tugging the corners.

‘You’re funny.’

‘Am I now?’ Yuuri asked blithely, carefully shifting his shoulders so he wasn’t touching the other man, hoping he’d get the hint. Evidently not, as a wide hand made it’s way to Yuuri’s waist. Yuuri glanced down at it, before looking back up at the man’s face. ‘I think you have the wrong idea.’

‘I’m not so sure,’ the man teased, leaning into towards Yuuri’s ear. Yuuri leaned away, but he was stuck between a bar stool and the man’s body. ‘I think we run in similar circles, I know what you do.’ Yuuri lowered his glass, watching the man from the corner of his eye. ‘Perhaps I could show you around Moscow.’

‘If you know what I’m up to, then you must know I'm unavailable,’ Yuuri said, reaching down and removing the man’s hand. He wasn’t rough, but he held on tight, showing this stranger that Yuuri was a lot stronger than he looked. The man gave away easily, looking no more offended than he had to start with.

‘Are you sure there’s nothing I can do to convince you?’ he grinned and Yuuri sighed, forcing himself to slip a smile on for him.

‘I’m sorry. But I’d just like to enjoy my drink,’ Yuuri said and the man smiled coyly, glancing around the bar.

‘Such a shame for something like you to be alone though,’ he said and the English sounded ugly in his mouth. Yuuri bit his lip and clutched his glass to his chest. Time to go.

‘Thank you. But I should get back to my seat,’ Yuuri said, about to leave when suddenly an arm slipped itself around his waist. Yuuri started, about to scold the stranger but the words died in his mouth when he turned. ‘Victor…’

Victor was there. And he looked- Yuuri didn’t have a word. But it wasn’t good. The thin line of Victor’s mouth wasn’t good, the way his fingers dug into Yuuri’s waist wasn’t good. The cold, stern gaze he was fixing on the man before them was definitely not good.

‘Everything alright. miliy?’ Victor asked, not looking at Yuuri as he did so. Yuuri shifted uncomfortably, trying to worm out of Victor’s grip.

‘Everything’s fine,’ Yuuri muttered as the man before them waved a friendly hand in Victor’s direction, replying in English; ‘All good! I was just chatting to your friend.’

Victor’s eyes narrowed.

‘Chatting,’ Victor repeated coldly and Yuuri felt his stomach drop. The man seemed to pick up on Victor’s tone, too, judging by the way he nervously patted at his own sides. He recovered quickly though, perfectly polished teeth grinning at Victor.  

‘Your friend is quite interesting.’

‘I certainly think so,’ Victor said, pulling Yuuri so close that Yuuri’s drink got stuck between their chests. Yuuri pushed back, but to no avail. Victor's grip was absolute. Victor inclined his chin down, brushing across Yuuri’s hair. Yuuri shivered, unable to stop himself. ‘Solnyshko, the meal will grow cold.’

The man laughed before Yuuri could say anything in reply to that. Loud, barking. Like a dog. Yuuri almost moved into Victor’s embrace at the sound, like by instinct. He caught himself quickly.

‘Solnyshko?’  The man repeated, tone obviously mocking. Yuuri flushed, embarrassed at the nickname and nervous of its connotations. He didn't know what it meant. What the man said next was in Russian and whatever it was, it made Victor press the tips of fingers into Yuuri’s waist like a brand. The man glanced down at where they were touching, switching back to English awkwardly: ‘So old fashion for young men.’

‘I like to think it romantic,’ Victor said, smile all sharp at the edges like a blade. Yuuri felt his stomach turn over nervously. He'd never seen Victor smile like that.

‘I bet,’ the man said. When he spoke again, it was back to the Russian. Quick-fire and alien, right over Yuuri’s head like he wasn't even there. Like he was just part of the furniture, Yuuri thought bitterly.

‘Forgive us, but we don't want to trouble you any further,’ Victor said, moving his hips in perfect rotation so Yuuri found himself being careened in front of him, as though they were dancing.

‘Really, no trouble,’ the man smiled back, unmoving. Yuuri looked from where he was between them, from where Victor was staring over him, wondering if the way things were going, he could fuck and punch Victor Nikiforov in the same weekend.

‘Quite,’ Victor bit out over Yuuri’s head. Yuuri could hear his teeth grinding over that one, he was sure.

‘Victor, please,’ Yuuri muttered sternly, genuinely surprised when Victor looked down at him. Yuuri had rather begun to think that Victor had forgotten he was holding a person altogether. Victor blinked down at Yuuri, unpleasant smile still on his face. But the more Yuuri looked at him, the more Victor seemed to relax. Yuuri resisted the urge to huff in impatience at that.

The man behind them gave an obvious cough, startling Yuuri’s attention back to him. He was holding a business card out to Yuuri, who took it dazedly, unsure.

‘My number, if you change your mind.’

‘He won't,’ Victor replied for Yuuri, tone airy, but Yuuri watched as the stranger’s eyebrows rose briefly. He gave Yuuri a quick nod, before taking his drink from the bar and wandering off. Yuuri didn’t bother to watch where he went. But once he was gone, as Victor relaxed, Yuuri twisted out of Victor’s arm, turning to face him.

‘What are you doing?’ Yuuri snapped, putting his drink down on the bar with a little more force than was necessary. He tossed the card after it, uncaring as it skittered over the edge. The bartender looked up briefly, but he looked away once Yuuri glared at him, as if daring him to get involved. When he looked back at Victor, Victor was looking at Yuuri incredulously. Yuuri did not care for it.

‘I’m sorry?’

‘What did you think you were doing, behaving that way?’ Yuuri said, anger suddenly very easy inside of him. It set his blood on fire, panic from before galvanised into something violent as Yuuri felt trapped by Victor in the small space between the bar and the stool.

‘I- I thought he was harassing you!’ Victor said, quietly but Yuuri could hear the emotion behind the words. It did nothing but make Yuuri feel worse, smaller almost. Like Victor thought he was weak.

‘I’m not some damsel,’ Yuuri replied firmly, slapping away Victor’s outstretched hand as it reached for him. ‘I don’t need rescuing. From you, or anyone. I’m capable of looking after myself.’

‘It didn’t look like it from where I was sitting,’ Victor said and he sounded sulky to Yuuri, which only made Yuuri feel even angrier. ‘It looked like he was trying to…’

Victor faltered, but Yuuri heard it anyway. It hurt more than it had any right to.

‘What? Hire me?’ Yuuri hissed quietly, saying aloud what Victor couldn’t. He watched as Victor flinched and it felt like dying. Yuuri folded his arms over his chest, turning away from Victor. Staring at the bottles again. ‘There’s nothing wrong with him asking, Victor.’

Victor touched Yuuri’s shoulder, lightly. Like he was afraid to. Yuuri almost moved him off, almost.

‘I just,’ Victor said, moving closer. Yuuri tightened his grip on himself, fingers sharp into his own arm. ‘I wish you didn’t have to deal with it when you’re not working.’

‘I am working,’ Yuuri said before he could stop himself and instantly regretting it. Victor took his hand off Yuuri’s shoulder like it had been burnt and when Yuuri looked at him, Victor looked stricken. Eyes wide, the blue of them frozen and his lips were parted in something half-said. Yuuri’s heart clenched uncomfortably and he reached out, unable to resist.

But Victor stepped back, out of Yuuri’s reach. With one quick toss of his fringe, the mask Yuuri had come to know slipped back into place. Yuuri had a mask like that, too. He watched as Victor gave him an impassive smile that didn’t make it to his eyes.

‘I think we should head back to the hotel,’ Victor said bluntly, shrugging his shoulders as Yuuri opened his mouth to speak. ‘I’m tired. Should rest for the free-skate tomorrow.’

Yuuri couldn’t think of anything to say, so he said nothing as Victor retreated back to the table to get their coats and Yuuri’s bag. Yuuri followed, mutely and took his coat from Victor just so as well. He looked back at their uneaten food, feeling sick in his stomach.

 


 

They’d travelled back to the hotel in silence.

Their taxi ride had been filled with nothing but the tinny noise of Russian radio, as the driver had quick given up on trying to get through to Victor, who’d been eerily silent since they’d left the restaurant. Yuuri wasn’t sure what to do. No amount of coy touches, or even fluttered statements of the beauty of Moscow in the snow could tempt Victor back into conversation. So Yuuri stayed silent, too, stewing with his own words echoing back in his head.

Yuuri knew it had been a stupid thing to say. But someone needed to say it.

As they stepped into the hotel room, Yuuri tried not to be hurt as Victor held the door open for him, but still wouldn’t meet his eye. Yuuri shrugged off his coat, carefully hanging it up on the rack by the door. Victor stalked past him, tossing his long brown coat haphazardly over one of the armchairs of the room. Sterile in its modern, white lines and dark wooden furniture. Victor a black shadow. He walked up to the window, curtains open. Streetlight crawled over his shoulders as Yuuri watched his back.

Victor looked like he had in one of the many photo shoots Yuuri had so admired, had so wished he could've been a part of. If even for a moment.

‘I think I’m going to shower,’ Yuuri said, not expecting a reply as he moved towards the bathroom. But Victor spoke, catching Yuuri’s attention.

‘Yuuri,’ Victor said and Yuuri stopped where he was, watching as Victor turned around and looked at Yuuri with his mouth downturned, eyes dark. ‘Wait please.’

Yuuri waited.

Victor ran a hand over the back of his neck. Pushed his hair back. Yuuri wanted to step towards him, wanted to be in Victor’s space now that his initial anger and anxiety had worn off. In the wake of the hurt it had left them both feeling, Yuuri felt the regret so heavy in him it threatened to sink him beneath the floor. But he didn’t know how to explain, where to start.

‘Yuuri, I’m sorry,’ Victor said, meeting Yuuri’s gaze. He watched him carefully, traffic screeching from somewhere far below. The noise of Moscow filling the space between them. ‘I know you can look after yourself. You’re not a weak person, and I don’t think you are. I was just afraid, or worried- I don’t know how to describe it.’

‘What were you afraid of?’ Yuuri tried, already suspecting an answer. Victor looked away guiltily and Yuuri felt the dread settle in his stomach like a weight. When Victor still said nothing, Yuuri swallowed and offered it up; ‘That I’d run off with some stranger instead of you?’ Something ugly reared its head and Yuuri growled; ‘The highest bidder?’

‘No, no! Of course not!’ Victor replied quickly, striding across the room in long steps, every movement elegant. Like always. He came up to Yuuri, hands taking Yuuri’s shoulders gently. ‘I know you wouldn’t.’

‘Do you?’ Yuuri challenged, bringing his hands together and wringing them nervously in case they ended up somewhere they shouldn't, (like on Victor’s waist). ‘Because to me, it looked like you were jealous.’

Victor pursed his lips, but Yuuri spoke before him.

‘Don’t deny it.’

‘I won’t,’ Victor said instantly, w the sharp point of a v in his mouth. ‘I was jealous.’

Yuuri shook his head, rolling his shoulders out of Victor’s grip. He stepped back, looked past Victor and out the window at Moscow. At the snow.

‘I’m sorry, Yuuri.’

‘For what?’ Yuuri said, anger resurfacing as he squirmed under the nervousness beneath his skin, the anxiety swelling in his stomach. Bloated emotion. ‘For being jealous? Or for behaving so terribly about it?’

‘That’s not fair,’ Victor replied tightly and Yuuri jumped at his tone. ‘You don’t think I have the smallest bit of a right to be jealous over you?’

Yuuri frowned, deeply uncomfortable and unsure how to rectify being so. ‘I’m here with you. You’re the one who hired me, Victor. I wouldn’t just leave you.’

‘Christ, Yuuri,’ Victor exclaimed, startling Yuuri slightly. Victor turned in one graceful swoop, running his hands over his face in obvious frustration. He shook his head, silver hair like the fins of a fish in the strange light of the hotel room lamps. ‘That’s not the point.’

‘Of course it is,’ Yuuri said, equally frustrated and fast upset with Victor now.

‘How can you think after everything, everything, that all you are to me is that?’ Victor said, his eyes unflinching from Yuuri’s face. ‘I didn’t hire you, Yuuri. I asked you come here.’

‘You mentioned my website-’

‘You mentioned payment,’ Victor countered, interrupting Yuuri. Yuuri snapped his mouth shut at that as Victor held a hand out to him. ‘But you haven’t accepted it.’

‘You haven’t offered,’ Yuuri replied weakly but Victor laughed, breathless and a little manic sounding.

‘You haven’t asked,’ he said, stepping towards Yuuri again when Yuuri refused to take his hand. Victor carefully pulled Yuuri’s hands apart, gently running his fingers across Yuuri’s palms. It was ticklish, but Yuuri couldn’t bring himself to move. ‘If that’s all you want from me, Yuuri, then I’ll give it to you. All you have to do is ask.’

Yuuri had nothing to say that, so he just looked away. He wasn't sure what he wanted- to say, or do. Things had spiralled rather quickly and now Yuuri found himself in unknown territory. He never did well under pressure. He turned on the balls of his feet, like a stilted pirouette on the soft carpet. Nervous spinning. When your blade was blunt and caught the rotation wrong.

His hands slipped out of Victor’s as he moved. Yuuri wanted to tell Victor that he wished things had been different.

‘We can’t do this,’ Yuuri said instead of that, the steadiness he’d been so happy to have achieved earlier wavering beneath the words. Victor looked down at him, making Yuuri feel self-conscious of his height. Phichit never made him feel small. But Victor towered over him, all perfection and frozen fever dream.

‘Why not?’ Victor asked quietly, slowly touching Yuuri’s bottom lip. Pressing his thumb there like he was going to pry Yuuri open with it, unlock his secrets. Yuuri tugged his bottom lip beneath his teeth.

‘This-’ Yuuri was the one who stepped back this time. He moved a hand manically between himself and Victor. ‘This thing we have, it’s not dating. We’re not dating, Victor.’

‘I know that-’

‘I don’t think you do,’ Yuuri continued, right through Victor’s sentence. ‘You’re not my boyfriend, Victor. You can’t be.’

There was silence after that. Damning, ugly silence. It filled the room, pulled the walls in closer and made Yuuri feel very small. So small he might vanish, like the world was swallowing him. But it wasn’t. He wasn’t going anywhere. Instead he was frozen, staring at Victor’s strikingly open face. The wounded look in his eye, cut through like glass.

He needed to say it. If not for Victor, then for himself. But now it was there, Yuuri wished he could reach out and take it back.

‘I see,’ was all Victor said and Yuuri felt the tell-tale pinch in the back of his throat that tears were coming. Not now, Yuuri thought desperately. Yuuri was so ugly when he cried. ‘Forgive me, for thinking differently.’ Yuuri flinched at that. ‘But you haven’t exactly been the most professional, Yuuri.’

‘I’m s-sorry?’ Yuuri stammered, affronted and surprised.

‘Well, seeing as I hired you,’ Victor continued furiously, throwing Yuuri’s own word back at him like a dagger. ‘Then I feel it’s within my rights to ask you to be more appropriate in regard to our arrangement. And especially in regards to other people.’

Yuuri said nothing at first, knowing deep down that Victor must be deliberately baiting him. Victor had never shown any sign of being so cruel before. But that didn’t stop the anger that erupted inside of him, the burning heat of it as it filled his cheeks and spilled down his neck. Yuuri thrust his hands down by his sides, balled into tight, hard fists.

‘Excuse me?’ he asked, incredulous. Victor raised his chin, as if in challenge.

‘What if the next man isn’t so good, Yuuri?’ Victor said seriously. ‘Not every client is going to be like that. And what if I’m not there? What if I can’t help you?’

‘I already told you, I don’t need you to,’ Yuuri sighed, frustrated. He rubbed at his face roughly, more spreading the tears than actually wiping them away. They were hot on his skin, irritating it with salt. ‘I've managed just fine without you all this time. You're not my- my knight in shining armour. I don't need you to run after me, thinking you're protecting me.’ Yuuri shook his head, stunned by Victor’s arrogance. ‘Do you think you’re the first client to think that? The first to ask me?’

‘I had hoped I was your first lover to ask,’ Victor said curtly and any response Yuuri had for that died in his throat. Lover. He looked up at Victor, saw his long jaw-line and pointed nose. Felt the tears grow cool on his wrist where he’d wiped them as Victor kept talking. ‘When we’re- like that, I feel like it's my responsibility to take care of you.’

‘It isn't. I’m fine.’

‘You don't have to be. Not for me, not when I hire you anyway,’ Victor said, before seemingly hearing himself and stammering. ‘Ah. No, not like that.’

‘No, I think exactly like that,’ Yuuri spat back, hurt pointed like the end of needle in him. Victor’s cheeks went pale in the ambient lighting as Yuuri sniffled, their distance rotating like some great, cosmic orbit as Victor tried to get closer and Yuuri moved away.

‘Yuuri, please, I'm trying,’ Victor said at length, sounding both angry and desperate. Yuuri didn't care for either, instead focusing on trying to stop crying. ‘I just feel… possessive, I guess. I just wish you didn't have to be that way when-’

‘You hypocrite,’ Yuuri snarled, voice trembling with indignation. ‘How dare you stand there and try that? Like I'm just your whore.’ Victor balked at the word, his mouth opening but Yuuri kept talking, unable to stop the tirade. ‘I’m not yours. Or anyone’s anything, Victor. I’m my own person and this is my job, that I chose. Who are you to try and tell me how I should do it?’

‘But it's not what you want!’ Victor threw back, Yuuri jumping at his outburst.

‘How would you know? You don't know anything about what I want,’ Yuuri said wetly and Victor ran both hands over his face again.

‘That’s not how I meant it,’ Victor said meekly, but Yuuri scoffed, meanly.

‘I know exactly how you meant it,’ he said, pointing an accusing finger at Victor squarely. ‘You don’t want me sleeping with other people. That’s what you’re really asking. Isn’t it? For me to quit this- my life, for you.’

Yuuri dared Victor to deny it. But Yuuri knew he wouldn’t, that he couldn’t. The proof was in the crumpled up sheet of paper Yuuri had shoved into his satchel. Victor’s request. Exclusivity. Yuuri knew better than that.

‘Don't you want to?’ Victor asked softly, the quiet of his voice throwing Yuuri off. Yuuri pulled his hand back, folding in on himself like the origami his mother would do for the tourists back home. Bent inwards, inverted wings.

His mother had actually always been rather bad at it. Never taught Yuuri that well. Their cranes were always lopsided. So strange, to remember these things now.

‘Why would you think that?’ Yuuri said, watching as Victor rolled his shoulders like a tide.

‘Haven't you felt it?’ Victor pressed, stepping towards Yuuri cautiously. Yuuri was frozen, letting Victor come closer like he always did. ‘This thing between us, Yuuri. It can't just be me. There are times when I look at you and I swear I see it in you, too.

Yuuri flushed at how obvious he was. Like he'd ever had any chance of hiding how much Victor meant to him. It was mortifying to know Victor could read it so easily. Terrifying that Victor would even suggest at feeling similarly. Yuuri’s stomach rolled with nauseous anxiety and not for the first time, Yuuri felt cornered. Boxed in by the length of Victor’s arm, the presence of his face. The lines Yuuri had drawn in futility between them.

‘I've done the alone thing, Yuuri,’ Victor said, eyes fixed on the floor. He looked so much taller than Yuuri knew him to be. Sharp, modeled edges and long lines. His hands perched on his hips, like he was unsure what to do with them. Yuuri was sure he’d never get used to seeing Victor nervous.

‘With you, it’s different. For the first time, I feel like I've the chance to be something other than alone,’ Victor continued, looking up to Yuuri again and Yuuri’s throat grew tight. He swallowed awkwardly around his words.

‘Don't you like that? Being alone?’ Yuuri asked genuinely, thinking of Victor’s freedom. The glossy, magazine appeal of it. Victor Nikiforov, with his medals and his talent, his beauty- so high above the world that no one could touch him. Unlike Yuuri, who was like a mirror that had gathered the smudges and fingerprints of a thousand strangers. Reflecting back. Victor had the luxury of being honest.

‘It's been what I could have,’ Victor replied quietly. ‘I imagine you understand that.’

Yuuri did. He bit the inside of his cheek to stop from saying so.

Victor took one step forward, body open. Yuuri’s grip on himself tightened, afraid he'd do something stupid like reach out towards Victor.

‘Can't we try being something else?’ Victor asked, his accent growing soft in his mouth. Like he was wearing down the edges, just for Yuuri.

Yuuri thought of Phichit, and strangely, his sister Mari. Their short, stilted conversations as Yuuri lied through his teeth through Skype. The truth bending back in Japanese until it was unrecognisable. He remembered Phichit’s odd socks, red spots and plain grey, as he caught Yuuri in the hallway before he left for Moscow. Yuuri thought of the distance there still- the space Yuuri was still so reluctant to let go of.

The space Victor was trying to march through like no man’s land.

Panicked, Yuuri changed tact.

‘What's the plan, Victor?’ Yuuri asked, bordering on hysterical now. He waved his hands in front of him, as if gesturing to Victor’s suggestion like it were some physical thing between them. ‘You come visit me in the States at weekends? I just spend my days- what? Waiting for you? Be realistic. You don't even know me!'

‘Well, you're not giving me much of a chance!’ Victor snapped back, his frustration obvious and Yuuri flinched at hearing it.

‘I barely even know you,’ Yuuri finished quietly, lowering his hand and withdrawing back into himself. Victor moved, but didn’t come forward. Yuuri wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.

‘We both know that’s not true,’ Victor said sadly, his tone defeated and Yuuri felt his heart pull into some terrible knot. Yuuri did know. He knew but he couldn’t say. Not like it mattered now anyway. 

Yuuri sighed. ‘What you feel Victor, it isn't real-’

‘Don't stand there and think you know what I do or don't feel,’ Victor snapped, startling Yuuri with how upset he sounded. ‘I know my own heart, Yuuri.’

Tears bloomed again, hot and ticklish. Yuuri tried to blink them away but there was no use. They slipped out easily and followed the tracks on his cheeks.

‘It’s my job, Victor,’ Yuuri said, hoping Victor would understand. Willing him to. Better for Yuuri to take his silly, teenage pining back to America with him and let Victor forget. Just like he had the first time. Yuuri blinked and tears streamed down his cheeks. ‘It’s my job.'

‘Yuuri,’ Victor sighed and his name sounded awfully like please in Victor’s voice like that.

‘I’m not trying to hurt you, Victor,’ Yuuri said truthfully, as he really wasn’t. But they needed to be smart about this. They needed to be clear. Yuuri pushed on, through the tears and wet nose. ‘But this job, what I do... that’s the way it is.’

‘I’m not judging you for what you do, Yuuri,’ Victor said so earnestly that Yuuri almost believed him. ‘You’re job isn’t who you are. If you don’t want to quit, then don’t! I don’t care what you do for a living! I care about you.’

Yuuri stopped sniffling at that, but he forced himself to swallow down the hope. Yuuri knew he couldn’t deny that anymore- he knew Victor cared. Could feel it radiating off him. Yuuri cared, too. A lot. But Victor didn’t know Yuuri the way Yuuri knew himself, didn’t know how truly aimed at disaster they were if Yuuri were to let Victor do this. Victor thought he could handle it. But Yuuri knew better.

‘You say that, but Victor, you can’t mean it,’ Yuuri said as Victor groaned exasperatedly. ‘Look at tonight. Look at all the times we’ve been together. You mean to tell me that you’re going to be able to just turn your jealousy off?’

Victor’s lips thinned at that, but he tried smiling anyway. Yuuri hated that smile, despite his years of admiring it on the shining paper of his posters. Yuuri knew that smile for what it truly was now. He didn't want Victor’s mask, not when he knew how beautiful the real Victor was.

‘I think I can handle it.’

‘I know that you can’t,’ Yuuri said. Victor laughed in frustration, running a hand through his hair again. Yuuri had begun to notice that he did that when he was nervous.

‘You’re not being fair, Yuuri,’ Victor said, hanging onto his own neck by a hand, elbow bent. Like a pose in the centre of the rink. Yuuri felt the yearning in him so strong it threatened to pull him tumbling down.

‘I’m being fair to myself,’ Yuuri replied miserably. ‘No one is really okay with what I do, Victor. What makes you think you’ll be any different?’

‘I know I’m different,’ Victor urged, moving towards Yuuri again. Yuuri automatically moved back.

‘You get jealous now. How will it be if we actually try this?’ Yuuri said, shaking a hand between them so Victor understood his meaning. ‘You call me, all the way back in Detroit, ask how my day was. And what do I say? It was fine, slept with someone else. The usual. That’s okay, right? Then what? You just sit here in your beautiful hotel room and accept it?’

Victor frowned at him, obviously unimpressed. But Yuuri held firm, knowing he was right.

‘We met because I was hired to have sex with you,’ Yuuri forced himself to say, but the words were so quiet. Did Victor hear him? Did he understand? ‘That’s never going to go away. What happens when we realise that?’

‘We’ll work it out,’ Victor said, that awful, hopeful smile back on his face. Yuuri shook his head, but Victor kept going. ‘Together. We can do this together.’

‘It'll never work!’ Yuuri retorted desperately. ‘I know what I'm like. You don't understand. I'll fuck it up, you'll be upset and-’

‘Yuuri,’ Victor said gingerly, hands up. Like surrender. ‘Please. You can’t end us before we even get started.’ 

I'm doing this for you, Yuuri reminded himself desperately. But even to himself the argument was weak. Yuuri knew himself too well for that. Victor thought he knew what he wanted. Yuuri had to protect Victor, and himself, from that.

‘Do you know that if any other client behaved the way you have, I’d have blocked them?’ Yuuri said, knowing he was flailing now. He tried to sound strong, but his voice shook. Would that work? Would Victor think Yuuri was afraid? Yuuri was afraid, but not of Victor. Never of Victor. ‘I would’ve changed my number. Ignored any appointment requests.’

‘Then why didn’t you?’ Victor asked and Yuuri froze, not expecting it.

Because I didn’t want to, Yuuri thought immediately, wrapping his arms back around himself defensively. Because I like you, I want you in life.

Yuuri couldn’t say any of that. Instead, he just pulled at his lips with his teeth. But Victor seemed to notice Yuuri’s hesitation, eyes brightening. He moved towards Yuuri, white skin stark against the black of his shirt. Silver hair catching the light in yellow waves. Yuuri stood, enraptured and terrified as Victor reached out with both hands, cupping Yuuri’s face. His thumbs rubbed the tear tracks on Yuuri’s cheeks.

‘I’m sorry I’m pushing you, Yuuri,’ Victor said softly, leaning his head down so he and Yuuri were pressed forehead to forehead. ‘Please know, I’m not trying to upset you. And I don’t want you to give up anything you don’t want to, I would never ask that. Don’t change your life, just… let me be a part of it. Even a small one. Please.’

Yuuri realised he was crying again too late. The tears pooled between Victor’s fingers. He closed his eyes, leaned into Victor’s touch. Let Victor’s cologne and his warmth surround him. Yuuri felt Victor hold him steady, felt Victor move closer until their bodies were pressed together. All cautious, tremoring touch. A hand roamed down Yuuri’s neck, Victor moving his fingers across Yuuri’s skin in a way that was now achingly familiar. Yuuri melted into it, giving himself over despite the nerves in his head screaming at him not to.

‘Why?’ Yuuri whispered, voice croaking. ‘Why me? You could have anyone, look at you. You’re Victor Nikiforov.’

‘And you’re Katsuki Yuuri,’ Victor replied just as quietly and Yuuri gasped, stunned by Victor saying his full name like that. Saying it so easily. Like he had practiced it. Yuuri’s heart grew light in his chest, like it might float right out of him and into Victor’s hands. ‘That doesn't sound too bad, does it? Victor and Yuuri. Yuuri and Victor.’

‘Victor…’ Yuuri reached out, twisting his hands into Victor’s shirt and tugging him closer.

‘No more games, Yuuri,’ Victor said in the damp air between them. Yuuri could almost feel his lips moving, they were so close. ‘No more hiding. From either of us. I like you, Yuuri.’ Victor moved his other hand away from Yuuri’s face, wet cheeks going cool from the absence. Victor snaked it down and around Yuuri’s waist, pulling them closer together if there was such a thing. ‘And I think- I hope, you like me, too.’

Yuuri squeaked, stupidly, but the noise couldn’t be stopped as it bubbled up and out of Yuuri’s throat. Victor flexed his fingers against Yuuri’s neck gently, comfortingly.

‘Please say you do, too. Do you, Yuuri?’ Victor pressed, his voice rough and everything Yuuri wanted. Yuuri sniffled, more tears. Victor laughed, a soft, fragile thing. ‘You know, I’ve never had to ask anyone if they liked me before.’

Victor leaned away, Yuuri chasing after him without really noticing he was doing so. He opened his eyes and noticed, with a shock, that Victor had tears in his eyes, too. Yuuri had never seen Victor cry before. He looked as beautiful as ever, unlike Yuuri who could feel how blotchy he must look. But it didn’t matter, because Victor was looking at Yuuri like that again and it felt like having the sun on his skin.

‘Do you like me?’ Victor asked again, watching Yuuri and biting his lip. The action was so small, so endearing. It was the last bit of Yuuri’s resolve.

Slowly, very slowly, Yuuri looked Victor in the eye, and nodded.

Victor sagged, his shoulders dropping and his eyes closing in clear relief as Yuuri nodded for him. Yuuri felt similarly. He felt like they had been going for hours, though he knew it must only have been minutes. But he felt hollow, empty. Like their conversation had drained him somehow. His bones ached, his nose was throbbing. But for the first time in a long time, Yuuri realised what that quivering, buoyant feeling in his chest was.

Yuuri was… happy.

 



It had felt like too short a time before they had parted, Yuuri’s discomfort at his snotty nose and red cheeks pushing him reluctantly out of Victor’s grip so he could clean up in the bathroom. Victor suggested a shower, which Yuuri agreed with. He had kissed Victor briefly before leaving for the bathroom, lips grazing against Victor’s in unusual chasteness. That kiss had felt new in a way kisses hadn't for Yuuri in a long time. Even now, under the warm spray of the shower, Yuuri absently touched his mouth with a slightly wrinkled finger.

He smiled into it, warm and indulgent emotion blossoming inside of him. It felt like it ran with the water, all the way down to his toes. Yuuri reached out and turned the shower off. It hadn't even been ten minutes, but his nose was clear and his heart was wrenching.

Yuuri patted himself dry before wrapping the towel around his waist. For a moment, he considered a bathrobe, the blurred sight of his domed stomach and sharp ribs in the mirror flooding him with unusual insecurity. But Yuuri thought of Victor's words and reached for the door instead. No more hiding.

Victor was sitting on the edge of the bed, feet bare on the plush carpet. Yuuri watched him, breath stopped like a clock in his chest as Victor looked up to meet his gaze. Just now, it was nothing but that look between them. Yuuri followed the line of Victor’s shoulders, the curve of his waist. The way his hands were clasped together as if in prayer.

Yuuri was moving before he even realised, stepping into Victor’s space and still not finding it to be enough. Victor opened his arms for Yuuri, sighing with loud relief as Yuuri went further, sitting himself on Victor’s lap.

He could live here, he thought as Victor wrapped his arms around Yuuri’s bare waist. Make a home out of Victor’s arms.

Victor’s eyes moved over Yuuri’s face slowly, the blue of them crystalline. Yuuri wanted to touch Victor’s cheek, wanted to trace the line of the face he so admired. Yesterday, to do so would've been easy. But now, Yuuri found himself strangely cautious. Yesterday, Yuuri was someone else. Now, Yuuri sat in his own skin and wondered what he'd ever done to deserve this. He absently wished he hadn't left his glasses in the bathroom.

‘Can I kiss you?’ Victor asked, whispering and just a little shy. Yuuri’s heart soared and he answered by pressing his lips roughly against Victor’s, pushing his tongue into the wet heat of Victor’s mouth in desperation.

‘Yes,’ Yuuri breathed between fevered kisses, licking the edge of Victor’s lips and opening his mouth wide for Victor to slip his tongue into. ‘Always. Never stop.’

Yuuri moaned as his tongue met along Victor’s, hands tangling themselves into Victor’s hair. Victor's grip on Yuuri’s waist tightened, turning pinching but it just made Yuuri keen, grinding himself down into the rough fabric of Victor’s slacks. The expensive wool was like a burn against Yuuri’s skin and something that Yuuri hadn't known to be aching inside of him suddenly lit up.

It burst out of him in grabbing desperation as Yuuri ran his hands down Victor’s neck, his shoulders, his arms. He rocked on top of Victor, his cock hardening beneath the pulled towel. It pressed up against Victor’s stomach, the friction right between their bodies as Yuuri opened his mouth wider, trying to swallow down Victor’s tongue like it was something else.

Victor kissed him like that, wet and filthy, as his hands began to wander. They tugged impatiently at the towel, scraping it off Yuuri in short pulls. Once free, Yuuri’s skin was Victor’s to roam. Hard presses into his ass, skittering touch on his back. Each touch blazed across him and he felt like he was melting from the inside out. Bare to the room and Victor’s gaze, Yuuri pulled back from Victor’s kiss to see. What he saw made his gut spike hot arousal like thorns, prickling deep in his belly. Victor was looking at Yuuri with dark, wild eyes. His lips were shining, hair in unruly tufts.

I did that, Yuuri thought reverently, reaching out to touch the fraying edges of Victor’s fringe. The gnawing, tight heat Yuuri felt coiling in low his abdomen had him rolling his hips down, grinding his cock against Victor’s shirt. He felt needy, primal. His want was voracious in a way Yuuri had never thought himself capable of.

Not until Victor. Perfect, gorgeous, stupid Victor who'd opened himself up to Yuuri and invited Yuuri to step through, arms waiting.

There was a hand in his hair, Victor’s grip painful as he held Yuuri at an angle so that when he kissed Yuuri again, Yuuri was only surrendering to Victor’s tongue and his teeth. Biting, sucking kisses that had Yuuri’s mouth pooling, his throat trembling with a groan and his cock aching to be touched. Yuuri’s hips rolled back and forth in a lazy, luxurious motion as he felt the swell of Victor beneath him, the hard line of Victor’s cock on the inside of his thigh.

‘I want you,’ Yuuri panted against Victor’s cheek as Victor released his lips briefly, licking a hot, wet stripe down Yuuri’s jaw. Yuuri bucked forward, foreskin catching on the buttons of Victor’s shirt as his cock was squeezed between them. Victor made a small aborted noise that went straight to Yuuri’s balls. ‘I can't. Please, Victor-’

‘Yeah, yes. Anything,’ Victor babbled in reply, nipping his way down Yuuri’s throat as his other hand pushed its way down Yuuri’s back. Like Victor was trying to bruise his path down- map out every touch, every moment of this. Yuuri felt the sentiment so strongly it made him whimper.

Yuuri struggled against Victor’s grip in his hair for a moment as Victor teased his fingers between Yuuri’s ass, the meat of Victor’s finger circling his rim in cautious, teasing promise. Yuuri tried to arch his back, tried to get Victor where he wanted him but Victor didn't falter in his grip. He held Yuuri steady, seemingly watching himself over Yuuri’s shoulder. When he pushed the tip of his finger in, dry and gentle, Yuuri moaned so loud he felt his chest shake with it.

Yuuri wanted it so bad. Had never wanted to be filled the way his body was screaming for it now. Whenever they were together, Yuuri always felt the need for Victor like an itch. But this was different to then. Now, as Yuuri ran his hands in desperate, frantic motions along Victor’s chest as Victor slowly pumped his finger in and out of Yuuri’s pliant body, up to the first knuckle, Yuuri could only think about how much he wanted Victor. Not because of the fantasy, or even the memory of how good it was. But because Yuuri was allowed- more than that, he was welcomed.

It was the most dizzying, beautiful thing Yuuri had ever been given.

‘Yuuri~,’ Victor growled into Yuuri’s shoulder as Yuuri started to whine, cock leaking wet between them. He bit lightly, sparking pleasure hitting Yuuri somewhere deep. ‘I want you so much.’

‘Have me. Please,’ Yuuri begged, breathless as Victor pulled his finger out of him. He stretched Yuuri’s rim with the one finger, getting Yuuri to tremble before Victor finally let go all over, hands moving back to circle Yuuri’s waist. Yuuri ducked forward, pushing Victor onto his back on the bed with a strong kiss, forcing his tongue into Victor’s mouth inelegantly.

Victor’s hands moved to hold onto the plump of Yuuri’s ass. He gripped tight there and ground his hips up. Yuuri moaned around Victor’s tongue as he felt the hard edge of Victor’s cock press into him through the wool of his slacks. His own desperation, stuck hard and so wet between them, twitched as Yuuri bucked into Victor’s reassuring, perfect weight.

‘Yours,’ Yuuri whispered, almost delirious, pulling away so he could slip his own fingers into Victor’s mouth. Victor closed his lips around them and sucked with dirty, dark intent as his eyes stayed fixed on Yuuri’s. Yuuri started to grind himself against Victor’s clothed stomach in earnest now, the sight of Victor swallowing around any part of him setting his blood on fire. Overwhelmed, Yuuri withdrew his fingers and reached behind himself. ‘All yours.' 

‘Yuuri,’ Victor repeated, throat raw from Yuuri’s fingers. It seemed like all he could manage and Yuuri felt more humbled by the way Victor said his name than he ever had by anything before.

They had lube on the bedside cabinet, not even put away from when they’d used it the night before. It wouldn’t even be a thirty-second parting to go and get it. But Yuuri didn’t want to move from where he was, didn’t want to peel himself from Victor’s body or unwrap Victor’s arms from where they were firm around him. He pressed a spit-slick finger into himself, body loose from the shower and he groaned against Victor’s throat, eagerness having him push his finger all to way to the second knuckle. Victor ran a hand down Yuuri’s back, reaching past Yuuri’s tailbone. The tip of one of his fingers met where Yuuri was pressing into himself and Yuuri felt Victor’s moan from beneath him before he heard it.

Yuuri ground against Victor, his cock scraping against the fabric of his shirt, the cool of his buttons, as Yuuri pumped into himself with increasing lack of finesse. Victor had one of his hands in Yuuri’s hair again, flexing fingers that tugged at the dark strands then held the back of Yuuri’s head like something precious. The other was stroking the wrist Yuuri had bent behind himself, warm comfort and nails biting in a possessiveness that Yuuri wanted to drown in. They moved like that together, Yuuri’s body growing hot and impatient.

His finger turned dry far too quickly and Yuuri growled in frustration, Victor laughing beneath him. Gently, Victor guided Yuuri back as Victor sat up, cradling Yuuri lest he fall. Yuuri sank into Victor’s weight, hands pulling away from himself and he let himself be moved, shivering from where his sweat and precome cooled between them in the movement.

‘We have all night,’ Victor teased, kissing the corner of Yuuri’s mouth. Yuuri turned his head and caught Victor’s lips, sucking the bottom one between his teeth. He ran his tongue along the swell of it after and took Victor’s small breath of surprise like it was his own. Yuuri knew they had all night. Knew they had more than that, that Victor had offered more- but Yuuri didn’t want to test those limits. He needed Victor now.

‘Get undressed,’ Yuuri said as Victor pulled away to suck at the juncture of his throat. Reluctantly, Yuuri slid off Victor to give him the room to get out of his clothes.

As Victor stood by the bed, fumbling with the buttons of his shirt, Yuuri kept his eyes fixed on Victor’s. He reached out for the bottle of lube, lay down backwards onto the plush of the beautiful, white linen bed, keeping Victor’s gaze like he always, always wanted to.

Victor’s shirt was caught half off him as Yuuri reached down between his legs with slick fingers, breath stuttering out of him. Victor’s mouth fell open, the pink of his tongue darting out to lick his own lips. The sight of it had Yuuri bending his back, pushing himself down onto the press of his fingers from where he pushed them into himself- too much, too soon but Yuuri didn’t stop, a choked noise coming from the back of his throat. As he opened himself with two fingers, rim turning hot with the wet of the lube and the stretch, Yuuri tilted his head back and closed his eyes, losing himself to the sensation of knowing Victor was watching him.

It felt like a physical touch, knowing Victor was watching. Like Victor’s gaze was something Yuuri could hold in his hands and keep.

Yuuri could distantly hear Victor say something, but it was hard to make it out over the sound of his own body. His breathing was turning ragged, flush feeling liquid as it flooded down through him. Heart pounding in his ears as he grew wet and loose. And a rolling, thick wave of heat in Yuuri’s gut, his cock leaking against his stomach. His hips were moving in short, round bucks as he pulled himself open, panting out into the quiet of their hotel room. Each part of his body, singing for Victor and the want that was pulsing inside of him.

Then Victor was there- naked, warm, sliding between Yuuri’s legs and his hands were everywhere Yuuri needed them. Along his waist, his stomach. His cock brushing against Yuuri's own. Yuuri opened his eyes, just in time for Victor to kiss him. He kissed Yuuri deeply, hands pressing into Yuuri’s skin so it bunched and rolled. Small, needy noises built up between them as Victor reached down, wrapping a large hand around Yuuri’s cock in a tight grip, hard-pressed against where Yuuri’s arm was down between his legs, the other sliding up Yuuri’s chest to splay open across the base of his throat.

‘Ah, god!’ Yuuri cried out, fucking into the tight ring of Victor’s hand, the drag of his own foreskin slick and deliciously perfect. Yuuri flailed behind him on the bed for the lube with his free hand, shoving it blindly towards Victor. Yuuri then thrust the fingers that were currently buried in himself more frantically, trying to chase his own pleasure as it buzzed beneath his skin, just out of reach with the angle.

Victor squeezed the head of Yuuri’s cock, precome spreading across Victor’s hand and sliding down. Yuuri felt the slow, hot trickle of it and he clenched down and around his own fingers, body screaming now for more. The starburst thrill of arousal thick inside of him, the feeling of it heady and addicting. Like everything Victor gave him. Victor let go of Yuuri’s cock, sitting back on his haunches and Yuuri whined at being left alone. The noise tapered into something higher when Victor poured more lube down between Yuuri’s legs, just beneath his balls and down his perineum, the squelch of the excess slick coating his fingers hot in his ears.

‘Yuuri~’ Victor whispered, almost reverent as he stared down at where Yuuri was spreading himself open. Yuuri pushed a third finger in, body giving way easily and he watched as Victor turned red, skin blossoming colour like the sakura in spring. Yuuri wanted to taste it, wanted to run his hands over it and see if he could take it with him wherever he went.

Yuuri watched Victor run his hands over Yuuri’s legs, spreading them open further on the bed. Watched as Victor’s ocean gaze fell between his legs. Lying on his back, splitting his body open for Victor to slide into and staring down the face of all his fantasies, Yuuri quite worried his heart would shatter with the gaping, dark hunger that awoke inside of him.

Fantasy was nothing compared to the reality of what was now in front of him.

‘Look at you. Gorgeous,’ Victor purred, slipping a hand down to meet Yuuri’s, the praise creeping in to further push Yuuri towards the edge. Yuuri’s eyes slid closed again as he felt Victor press a finger into him, rim giving with some resistance to the extra penetration. It was extraneous, Yuuri knew that. His body was already easy from the night before, from the shower. But Yuuri wanted Victor to fill him, wanted his whole body to change shape with the feel of Victor inside of him and Yuuri was gluttonous now as Victor surrendered that to him without Yuuri even having to ask.

When Victor took Yuuri’s cock in his hand again, tears and precome leaked like Yuuri’s whole body was bleeding with the need that burned inside of him.

Together, they worked Yuuri open, sweat beading on Yuuri’s face. He could feel it, simmering on the top of his lip, the middle of his forehead. Yuuri rocked between Victor’s grip on his cock and their hands buried inside of him, Victor pushing him deeper but not deep enough to get where he was itching to be hit. It was awkward, Yuuri’s arm stuck between their bodies and Victor struggling to find a rhythm with it. But above him, Victor was muttering, gasping- Russian and English, babbled in small, breathless bursts that had Yuuri squirming. Breaths of perfect, beautiful and mine that set Yuuri’s soul on fire. The Russian Yuuri couldn’t hope to understand, but hearing Victor speak it for him didn’t feel that different to watching Victor skate. Like Yuuri was stepping into Victor’s life, his world and making a place for himself there.

‘Ah- okay. Okay. Enough, now. Now,’ Yuuri managed to grit out from behind his teeth as Victor gave a strong, luxurious stroke to Yuuri’s cock. Yuuri bucked his hips, his free hand twisting the sheets beneath him. He looked up at Victor, waited for Victor to meet his gaze. ‘Fuck me now.’

‘Christ,’ Victor gasped, pulling away from Yuuri so quickly it left Yuuri whining. But Victor silenced him with a bruising kiss, both of Victor’s hands coming up to hold Yuuri’s jaw steady. The slick of the lube and Yuuri’s body was hot on Yuuri’s face, lewd and intimate. Yuuri let Victor fuck his tongue into his mouth, let his body lie open for Victor to fall into. Yuuri pulled his fingers out himself, untangled the other from the bedsheet and got a grip on Victor’s waist.

Victor pressed his body down along Yuuri’s, his hard length sliding in the deep curve between Yuuri’s hip and his pelvis. Victor gave a quick, sticky thrust forward into it, his cock sliding precome on Yuuri’s skin. In Yuuri’s ear, Victor whispered; ‘I want to make you feel so good, Yuuri. I promise. I’ll make you so happy.’

Whatever it was, Yuuri couldn’t say, but something inside him broke.

With one quick, powerful push, Yuuri managed to flip Victor onto his back. He bounced on the bed, a shocked grunt coming from him but Yuuri was already moving, scrambling over Victor’s hips and sitting on his naked lap. Victor’s eyes were wide with amusement, mouth in open surprise and Yuuri leant down to kiss the look right off him.

Possessiveness. It was drunken, hot emotion that ravaged Yuuri’s body like wildfire. Yuuri had never been possessive of anything in his life, never having anything he’d cared about more than the fear of losing it gave him. Not even skating. But suddenly the gravity of what was happening between them- of what Victor was giving him-, hit Yuuri like a physical weight.

Yuuri kissed Victor with hunger, with teeth. He pulled back and bit at Victor’s neck, his throat. Sucked marks where he knew they’d be seen, ran his hands along Victor’s chest like the ribs there could gather his fingerprints like brands. Yuuri wanted to gather Victor’s kiss, the weight of his body and the sound of his voice and put them somewhere safe, where only Yuuri could have them. He’d never had something for himself before and Yuuri wanted to tie Victor up in the humble, fickle truths of his life. Wanted Victor to be more than the small part Victor was happy asking for. Wanted to give Victor everything- if he’d have it.

Running his hands down Victor’s sides, he felt the swell of the muscles Victor had and the tug of his skin. Victor was hard in places Yuuri thought himself soft, all prickled, stern planes where the women Yuuri sometimes tried to emulate were smooth curve. But Victor wasn't a woman, or anything resembling one. He was a man- burning stubble on Yuuri’s neck, calloused hands in Yuuri’s hair. Igniting some terrible, greedy thing, like a molten core, that dripped down Yuuri’s bones and sank in the pit of his stomach.

Feeling the stiff, sticking length of Victor’s cock trailing up the cleft of his ass, Yuuri rocked downward, grinding his own arousal between them. A high, needy noise came from Victor and Yuuri moaned into the skin of Victor’s shoulder with want. He sat up, admiring the dark, red bites he’d left behind. Victor watched him right back, blue eyes the bright turn of the sky to Yuuri’s world. It should be scary, how deeply Yuuri felt for Victor. But staring down the hungry mouth of it, Yuuri was not afraid.

Yuuri readjusted himself carefully, reaching behind and down. Victor’s eyebrows rose, both of his pale, white hands coming to rest on Yuuri’s thighs from where they were spread over Victor’s groin. Yuuri found Victor’s cock, giving it an awkward stroke, spreading the slick of his hand, and Victor groaned, his body writhing beneath Yuuri. Then Yuuri held Victor steady, his other hand pulling at his own rim. Yuuri sighed, anticipation electric inside of him. Buzzing, glittering.

‘Yuuri, wait. We don’t-’ Victor huffed, his voice sounding hollow. Yuuri didn’t wait, didn’t stop. Instead, he raised up on his knees slightly and leant back, sinking down onto Victor in smooth, slick motion. Victor swore, loud and beautiful. ‘Fuck. Yuuri, miliy. A condom, if you-’

‘No,’ was all Yuuri could manage to say, hands skittering for purchase across Victor’s chest, his stomach, as his body stretched around the thick, familiar feel of Victor inside of him. ‘Like this.’ Yuuri arched his back, closed his eyes as Victor sank deeper into him. ‘Yes,’ slipped out from Yuuri in a breathless whimper, the pulse pleasure of being filled beating through him.

For a moment, it was enough. But then Yuuri opened his eyes again, looked down at the wreckage he had made of Victor. The red of his cheeks, the ink of his eyes. Yuuri had done that. And that one thought had Yuuri lifting up, Victor’s cock sliding gorgeously through him like it was meant to always do so, and then sinking back down with one hard roll of his body. Victor cried out, his own hips thrusting up to meet Yuuri and finally Yuuri felt the thick head of Victor’s cock graze his prostate. It sent sparking, tight pleasure up his spine and around his stomach, straight down to his balls. The razor edge of his arousal cut deep.

Victor’s hands moved, guiding Yuuri up more onto his knees as Victor used the space created to move. He held Yuuri there with tight fingers and fucked Yuuri in slow, dirty grinds upwards. His cock slid in and out with ease, Yuuri’s body clenching tight around it like Yuuri’s heart closed itself around Victor. Yuuri knew that there wasn’t really much difference, but the knowledge that there was no condom, that it was just the drag of Victor’s skin and the beading spread of his precome that pulled inside of him, had Yuuri moaning loud and abandoned.

The sound of himself filled the room and Yuuri thought, madly, how he wanted to live in this small, hot space forever. Just the two of them.

He threw his head back, bouncing down to meet Victor’s strong thrusts upwards. Each time they met, Victor’s cock would push against Yuuri’s prostate, causing Yuuri to cry out and pinch at Victor’s skin. His hands bunched and nails bit into Victor’s chest, scratched lines into Victor because he could. Because he was allowed.

Yuuri closed his eyes, biting a moan between his teeth as Victor grazed that perfect place inside him once again. He leant back, almost toppling but Victor moved beneath him. Victor sat up, following Yuuri’s body and his arms came hard around Yuuri’s waist, holding him steady. They traveled up, palm up and spread across Yuuri’s back. Victor held Yuuri flush, fingers tight on Yuuri’s skin. The new angle had Victor aborted in his movements, but Yuuri didn’t care because Victor was holding him. His Victor.

Yuuri moved his hands from where they were stuck between them. He opened his eyes, panting heavily as Victor’s cock dragged wet and thick. He clenched hard around it, fingers trembling and cock pulsing with desperation from where it was squeezed between their stomachs. It grew hot and wet there, precome and sweat pooling together. Yuuri could smell the faint remnants of Victor’s cologne, the sweet notes of his own soap from the shower. And the salt of their sweat, the tang of their sex. Yuuri took Victor’s face in his hands, thumb boldly swiping across Victor’s bottom lip.

I’m the only one, Yuuri thought to himself as Victor continued to move beneath him. Continued to make love to him in that beautiful, satisfying way that had now become so familiar. Yuuri thought of the articles he’d read about Victor all his life, the gossip forums and the blurred Instagrams. Victor Nikiforov- untouchable, transcendent. Alone.

But not anymore.

I’m the only one who can satisfy him, Yuuri thought dreamily, running a hand up and into Victor’s hair. Twisting his fingers into it, tugging and whining as Victor fucked him just right. I’m the only one in the world who knows him like this.

Yuuri felt the truth of his thoughts in every kiss Victor pressed to his throat, every murmured breath of his name and yes and please. Victor Nikiforov, who had the whole world at his feet, asking Yuuri for simply the move of his body, the sound of his voice. Like those things were worth even half as much as Victor was worth to Yuuri. Yuuri thought his heart might break from the weight it had. Crack it down the middle. Ice fissuring.

Victor suddenly barrelled forward, tipping them both over so Yuuri was spread out on his back. Yuuri gasped, breath drowned out by Victor falling on top of him, kissing him with an open mouth. Victor pulled out, only to situate himself better between Yuuri’s legs. He pulled away from Yuuri’s mouth, using both hands to spread Yuuri’s legs open. Yuuri watched as Victor pushed himself back into the wet heat of Yuuri’s hole, rim stretching deliciously with the new position as the blunt pressure of Victor opened him up. Yuuri tipped his head into the bedsheet, moaning so sharp it threatened to puncture him.

‘Yuuri,’ Victor gasped, bending down so they were chest to chest. Yuuri wrapped his arms around Victor’s back. Victor burrowed his hands beneath Yuuri, under his body. Yuuri’s legs fell wide with Victor between them, fucking into Yuuri with a satisfying stretch that Yuuri knew he'd feel for days after. Then Victor shifted his hands, shoving them down so he could hold Yuuri by his lower back- getting the angle just fucking right.

The world narrowed down to this one, perfect point. The fullness of Victor's cock getting so deep into him, Victor’s rough moans into his neck as he thrust into the scorching clench of Yuuri’s body. Yuuri was reduced to small, whining gasps now as Victor slammed into him with torturous precision, fucking Yuuri just the way he wanted it, sending bursts of pleasure sparking through Yuuri’s belly straight to his cock.

‘Victor, Victor, Vic- ah!’ Yuuri cried out, tripping over Victor’s name. He dug his hands into Victor’s back, scraped down it as his cock pulsed suddenly. His orgasm felt it was being pulled out of him like a thick, throbbing splinter. Gut flushed with pooled heat, come explosive and wet between their stomachs, their chests. Victor shuddered above him, fingers bruising into Yuuri’s skin as Yuuri clenched down around Victor’s cock in desperate spasm. His cry teetered down to a meek whimper as Victor started to slam into him again, movement frantic through Yuuri’s sensitivity. Yuuri closed his eyes and let the waves of it roll through him.

Then something stammered between them, Victor’s body pressed flush to Yuuri’s as he ground his cock down in one, hard slap. Victor bit Yuuri’s shoulder, growled into the skin there and Yuuri yelped as he felt the phantom spread of Victor spending inside of him. The full feeling swelled beneath his skin, pulsing through his lower back as his muscles desperately clenched down on where Victor was. It was the most gorgeous feeling in the world.

Victor was frozen while he came, his hair fanned out across Yuuri’s shoulder and his hands still holding Yuuri close. Yuuri lay with Victor atop of him, basking in the warmth and sated comfort. Then Victor slowly, lazily rolled his hips and Yuuri moaned as he felt the drag of Victor’s softening cock, felt the pull of skin as Victor pulled out of him. He tipped his head back, throat choking on the noise he made when he felt Victor slide out of him, his arms falling back above his head. Victor collapsed down next to Yuuri, his head in the crook of Yuuri’s throat and an arm stretched out across Yuuri’s ruined chest. Their legs were a mess together, their breathing loud and laboured. Yuuri felt like something else- some soft, creeping creature made entirely out of the buzz in his blood, the throb of his ass. He stared up at the ceiling and brushed his mouth, open and panting, over the top of Victor’s head. Because he could.

‘Yuuri,’ Victor whispered, kissing Yuuri’s throat. Yuuri’s arms were thrown up above his head in dead weight, but he flopped one down and around Victor’s shoulder, pulling him closer. If such a thing was possible. The wet of his own come was cooling unpleasantly on Yuuri’s stomach, but he couldn't bring himself to move. ‘That was- wow.’

Yuuri breathed out a laugh, smile broad and eyes closing. ‘That's all you have to say?’

‘I can't… I'm speechless,’ Victor replied, voice still hoarse and Yuuri felt his thudding heart grow light at hearing it.

‘Wow,’ Yuuri repeated, teasing. Victor chuckled softly into another kiss on Yuuri’s neck.

He wasn't sure how long they lay there, bodies growing cool under the sheen of sweat. The insides of Yuuri’s thighs were destroyed in lube, in Victor’s come but even Yuuri’s nagging thought that they should get clean wasn't enough to stir him from the comfort of Victor’s arms, the warmth of their sex. Victor shifted next to him and Yuuri opened his eyes.

‘What? What is it?’ Yuuri asked, still quite breathless as he caught Victor staring at him. Yuuri wondered if it was possible to fall in love with the way someone could look at you. The swoop of his abdomen as he met Victor’s eyes, soft and glittering, told him that if it wasn't love, it threatened to fall somewhere very close to it.

‘How old are you?’ Victor replied and for a moment, Yuuri didn’t say anything. Then, he laughed and it seemed to take them both by surprise. As Yuuri shook with the delirious giggles, Victor rolled over, touching Yuuri’s chest with one long finger. It bounced slightly with the tremors of Yuuri’s chest.

‘Is that what you're thinking about?’ Yuuri said through a laugh that trembled out of him, looking over to Victor, who was watching Yuuri right back. Yuuri licked his lips nervously. ‘Couldn't you just have looked it up?’

‘I’d prefer if you tell me. Yourself,’ Victor replied with only a small pause, eyes now dropping to where he was touching Yuuri’s chest. Like he knew that Yuuri was blushing and was saving him the embarrassment. Yuuri’s heart swelled with affection at the thought.

‘Um. I'm nineteen.’

‘What?!’

Victor looked up at him instantly, eyes wide and lips parted. He looked so surprised. Yuuri held firm for about two seconds before he threw an arm over his own face, mortification flooding through in one, hot flush.

‘Okay. That's not true. I'm twenty-three,’ Yuuri muttered from behind his arm. He felt more than heard Victor’s sigh of laughter, as then Victor started to shake next to him. Seemed the giggles were contagious. Yuuri tried to roll over so he wouldn't have to look at Victor anymore, but Victor draped himself over Yuuri more fully, keeping him pinned. Yuuri squirmed for a moment as their damp bodies came together, before relaxing under Victor’s weight. ‘Twenty-three. Sorry. I don't know why I said that.’

Yuuri did know. It was automatic. He told all his clients he was nineteen, and they all believed him. Or they liked the idea of it too much to question further.

Victor laughed out loud then. It was such a warm noise- like wood cracking under the weight of fire. Yuuri finally revealed himself as Victor leaned up to look at him properly. His cheeks were pink, rounded from where he was smiling. Yuuri swallowed, mouth suddenly dry.

‘I'm relieved. I think I draw the line at nineteen,’ Victor said, reaching out and pushing hair back from Yuuri’s face. The touch pulled Yuuri’s heart into shapes. ‘Mila’s only nineteen, and she's just a kid. Anyone I'd consider a kid is definitely not someone I should be dating.’

Something snagged in Yuuri’s mind at the word dating.

‘You're getting ahead of yourself,’ Yuuri said without thinking. Then, Victor took just a second too long to reply.

‘Oh. Right. Sorry.’

With that, Victor removed his hand from Yuuri’s face, carefully, almost like he was afraid to brush any other part of Yuuri on the way. He wasn't looking at Yuuri anymore. At some point, that had become unusual and Yuuri’s stomach twisted with unpleasant dread. Victor sat up, just out of Yuuri’s reach. Yuuri sat up immediately after, reaching out and touching Victor’s shoulder. Victor didn't look at him, instead staring out towards the window of the room.

‘No, no! I didn't mean-’ Yuuri struggled to find the words, but then Victor sighed. He looked back at Yuuri with a sad smile. Yuuri squeezed Victor where he was touching him. ‘I'm sorry. I didn't mean that.’

‘It's alright. I was making assumptions,’ Victor said plainly and Yuuri got onto his knees, leaning into Victor’s space, whimpering only a little from the movement. He took Victor’s face into his hands. They sat there, naked and staring. Yuuri moved his eyes across Victor’s face, taking in his pointed nose and sharp chin. His eyes, swirling colour.

‘Make assumptions,’ Yuuri whispered, blushing despite everything as the strength of his feelings for Victor rocked through him, rendering his voice weak. ‘I want you to. I'm sorry, I was just… surprised.’

Yuuri went to pull away, but Victor rose a hand to hold where one of Yuuri’s was on his cheek. The other touched Yuuri’s chest, palm up against the beat of Yuuri’s heart.

‘I've never had a boyfriend before,’ Yuuri confessed quietly. Victor frowned at him.

‘Never?’

Yuuri shook his head. ‘Never.’

Victor opened his legs, both hands now coming to Yuuri’s waist. He tugged Yuuri forward, who shuffled on his knees until he was right in Victor’s space. He moved his arms around Victor’s neck and Victor smiled up at him, uncertain and eyes cast down to Yuuri’s lips. Then Victor looked up, bright emotion in his eyes.

‘Then let me be your first,’ he said softly and Yuuri just couldn't not kiss him then. He kissed him slowly, taking his time to relearn the way Victor would breathe deep through his nose when they kissed. The quiet sigh Victor made between presses. Yuuri felt like he would burst with the happiness that was filling him. Victor and his kisses. Yuuri’s, for keeps.

At that, something crossed his mind; anxious thought crawling into Yuuri’s mind like they always did. He tried to ignore it, but something must've shown in the weight of his arms or the turn of his mouth, as Victor pulled away from him, silver eyebrows bunched together.

‘What is it?’ he asked and Yuuri tried to smile, shook his head.

‘It's nothing. Stupid.’

‘Yuuri.’

‘Really, it doesn't mat-’

‘Yuuri, please,’ Victor asked gently, squeezing his arms around Yuuri to reassure him. Yuuri did smile at that, but he worried his bottom lip between his teeth as he tried to think of a way to explain the doubt that niggled him. ‘Talk to me.’

‘It's just,’ Yuuri started, before tugging at his lip again. Victor said nothing, waiting patiently for Yuuri to find his footing. Yuuri shuffled in Victor’s arms, uncomfortable and embarrassed. It was hard to find the words. 

‘You're you, Victor,’ Yuuri said at last. ‘You've had- could have, anyone. Your pick of beautiful people.’ Victor was still silent, listening to Yuuri speak. Yuuri chewed on his lip again. ‘And for me, I’ve only ever had myself. Even my friends- well, friend. I make it so difficult.’

Dating. A boyfriend. Like a real person. How would Yuuri even begin to relearn how to be a real person? Even the concept of it had him smiling with disbelief and nervousness, tenuous fear brimming beneath the fragile happiness.   

‘I’m so happy you want to be that for me. My first… everything. But I'm just afraid, and it's stupid I know it's stupid.’ Yuuri tried to laugh, a shrill awkward sound. He sobered himself, forcing himself to meet Victor’s eye. The fear knotted his stomach. ‘But, what if I'm not your last?’

Victor’s expression was many different things at once, emotion too fast for Yuuri to catch. But then Victor was kissing him again, running his tongue along where Yuuri had bitten himself and tightening his grip so Yuuri was almost back in his lap. Yuuri melted into it, heart stammering in his chest like it was losing its beat. He let Victor kiss him like that, sweet and tender. Let himself fall a little deeper into the well of affection Victor had made for himself in Yuuri’s heart.

‘Yuuri,’ Victor said, accent folding the name in half. The bend of a Choctaw. He kissed Yuuri again and Yuuri was sure he'd never stop losing his breath over his name being said in Victor’s voice like that. Victor pulled away, resting his forehead against Yuuri’s. ‘I already told you that I want to be part of your life.’

‘I know,’ Yuuri interrupted softly and Victor smiled at him.

‘Listen to me,’ Victor continued, tracing circles on Yuuri’s back. It wasn't as distracting as Yuuri thought it might be. ‘I'm yours, Yuuri. For as long as you'll have me. If this ends, it'll be because you want it to. Because I've already made up my mind.’

Sometimes, Yuuri missed skating so much it that it felt like more than an ache. It felt like some hollow, gaping wound that often tried to swallow him. Now, Yuuri felt it again as in that moment, Yuuri wanted nothing more than to skate as beautifully as what Victor had said made him feel. Yuuri wanted to trace the lines on the ice, wanted to whisper the words back in perfect echo through rotating, twirling weightlessness.

Instead, Yuuri just kissed him. Quick, off-centre and everything he'd ever wanted.

‘Me too,’ Yuuri said, honestly as he leaned back. Victor grinned at him and it was like all the lights in Moscow were shining just for the two of them.

‘You're gorgeous,’ Victor said, obviously delighted and Yuuri giggled nervously as Victor gave Yuuri a big, sloppy kiss on the cheek. ‘But you're also disgusting. We need to shower.’

Yuuri blushed awfully and he knew Victor was laughing at him. But as Victor peeled them apart, (they really were disgusting), Yuuri got to lace his fingers together with Victor’s, got to be led towards the bathroom. And as Victor checked the temperature of the shower, Yuuri watching the muscles on his back, Yuuri knew that he'd made the right decision.

When they eventually made it back to bed, (utterly ruined comforter discarded to the floor), Yuuri slotted himself into the space next to Victor like it was what he did every night. He indulged in everything, resting his head on Victor’s shoulder and holding Victor around the waist. Squeezed him, hugged him. All because he could. It was like something familiar, something beyond comfort and dazedly, Yuuri thought of the calls of okaeri from home. For a long while, they sat in silence, Victor back to tracing circles on Yuuri’s shoulders.

Yuuri didn't know exactly what made him say it. Maybe it was because he’d never been so comfortable, maybe it was so like that time Victor had been in his own bed back in Detroit. But before he could stop himself, Yuuri spoke into the dark of the room.

‘I had a dog,’ Yuuri said, voice a little croaky as exhaustion tugged at him. Latent jet-lag, perhaps. ‘When I was younger. A poodle, like your Makkachin.’

Victor said nothing, but Yuuri knew he was awake. In all their times together, Yuuri had somehow learned to tell. Yuuri kept his eyes closed, kept breathing the scent of the shower soap and clean linen. Kept himself buried against Victor in the safe cocoon of their bed.

‘I have pictures. If you’d like to see,’ Yuuri said, opening his eyes. Looked up at the shadowed outline of Victor’s jaw. ‘I mean, it’s okay if you don’t want to! I know it’s late. I don’t even know why-’

Victor kissed him at the top of the head.

‘I’d love to.’

 


 
The morning passed in a strange blur of kisses, buttons done up wrong, (then done again), more kisses and Victor struggling to zip up his Russia jersey with one hand. Yuuri laughed at him, trying to pull his hand out of Victor’s grip. Not much good though, as Victor refused to let go.

‘I’m not going to go anywhere,’ Yuuri teased, blushing when Victor grinned back at him. Victor gave a quick tug, pulling Yuuri forward so he had to look up at him. ‘You can let go of my hand for just a moment, you know?’

‘I do,’ Victor replied, kissing Yuuri’s nose. Yuuri blushed, shrinking down into himself as he laughed. Would it always be like this? Yuuri wondered, hoped it would be, as Victor looked at him so softly. ‘But I don’t want to.’  

‘That’s not very practical,’ Yuuri said, trying to sound less giddy than he felt. It didn’t work but in the end, Yuuri did manage to disentangle himself from Victor, who pouted at him beautifully as he did so. Yuuri nodded to the gear bag at Victor’s feet, unable to stop fidgeting with the strings of the hoodie under his coat. (His plain, orange hoodie. One Phichit robbed in winter. Not a shred of silk, gossamer or satin). ‘You need to carry that as well.’

‘First boyfriend lesson,’ Victor said, bending down to pick up the gear-bag and sling it over his shoulder in one fluid movement. ‘You always offer to carry the bags.’

Yuuri knew he was blushing still, but he prided himself on managing to keep his smile steady. ‘Aren’t you a world champion? I’m sure you’re strong enough to carry your own bag.’

‘So cruel, Yuuri!’ Victor whined, but once the bag was safely secured on his shoulder, Victor sought Yuuri’s hand out again. Yuuri gave it to him, smiling.

Victor’s coach was waiting for them in the lobby when they arrived down. Yuuri shrank into himself as Yakov Feltsman’s stern gaze fell upon him; Victor no doubt sensing his unease as he squeezed Yuuri’s hand reassuringly when Yuuri tried to pull his hand away as if on instinct. Yuuri reached up for his surgical mask, replacing it over his face. He could feel Victor looking at him, but neither of them said anything.

Yakov addressed Victor directly, ignoring Yuuri as if he wasn’t there. Not even a hello. Yuuri wasn’t sure if that was better or worse. He shuffled on his feet, glancing around the lobby of the Renaissance. Tried to focus on anything but the cold, foreign ringing of Russian in his ears. Yuuri knew that it was irrational to be so nervous still. Yuuri knew that he and Victor were fine. He knew that. But the uneasiness still sat inside of him as Victor spoke in rapid Russian. Yuuri couldn’t even begin to tell if it was good Russian, bad Russian. Indifferent Russian?

Victor could be reciting the entirety of Breaking Bad for all the knowledge Yuuri had. He wondered idly as he watched a family check in by the desk if learning Russian would be a boyfriend lesson. Would Victor want to learn Japanese?

‘Oi!’

Yuuri jumped back to himself as someone shouted across the lobby at them. He looked over, seeing the approaching Yuri Plisetsky coming in from outside, snow soaked and frowning already. Yuuri wondered if whoever raised Plisetsky had ever taught him to smile. Plisetsky shifted his own gear-bag, hood of his jersey falling down as he did so.

‘You’re still here?’ Plisetsky snapped as he stepped up to them, green eyes fixed widely on Yuuri. He actually sounded surprised. Yuuri hoped his nervousness wouldn’t be too obvious from behind his mask. Yakov hissed something to Plisetsky, eyes narrowed. Yuuri looked between them, stomach churning.

‘Um. Yes?’ Yuuri replied just as Victor sighed with humour.

‘You always were a morning person, Yurio,’ Victor said and Plisetsky gritted his teeth. His eyes darted to where Victor was holding Yuuri’s hand and again, Yuuri felt the need to snatch it back and shove it in his pocket. Instead, Yuuri just held back. He was pretty sure that would be a boyfriend lesson, too.

‘You’re holding his hand? How old are you?’ Plisetsky fired at Victor and Yuuri sagged with relief for the attention to be focused elsewhere. Victor replied in easy Russian and Plisetsky snarled back. Yuuri tuned out again, comforted by the reassuring weight of Victor’s hand.

‘At this rate they’ll need a translator if you’re going to neglect your English like this,’ Yakov said suddenly, causing Victor to laugh and Plisetsky to flush, which Yuuri was surprised by. He was as pale as Victor, so it showed terribly. Yuuri watched with sympathy- he knew what it was like to blush that easy.

‘Whatever. They’re not even going to interview Victor anyway, seeing as I’m going to win,’ Plisetsky grumbled and Victor just laughed again. Yuuri was quite sure he could listen to Victor laugh forever.

‘Where’s Mila?’

‘How should I know? I'm not her babysitter.’

‘No? Isn't that what fifteen year olds do?’

‘I'll show you what they do, govniuk-'

Wherever Mila was, Yuuri never learned as she wasn't going to be joining them on their way to the rink. They shared a cab to the arena, Yuuri eternally grateful they didn’t get the shuttle bus that took most of the skaters. Victor knowing was one thing. (Admittedly; one massive, phenomenal thing). But facing the rest of the skating community? Yuuri shuddered to himself as they walked through the side entrance, blissfully free of press.

Yuuri was a firm believer in baby steps.

‘I’ll see you later,’ Yuuri said as they approached the foyer, knowing Victor would have to step off with the others. Victor turned to look at him. He reached out, grazing a finger over Yuuri’s mask.

‘You could come in with me. You can sit by Yakov. I’d love to have you waiting for me in the kiss and cry,’ he said, stepping in close so that when he spoke, it was in low tones. Only for Yuuri. Yuuri looked up at him, blinking through his glasses.

‘I can’t do that,’ he replied quietly, spying Yakov throwing them a glance over his shoulder. Yuuri’s chest felt tight, anxiety stewing just beneath the surface. Victor frowned at him.

‘Why not?’

‘You know why,’ Yuuri said perhaps too quickly, as Victor’s frown only deepened. Yuuri tried to smile, wondered if Victor could tell through the mask. He gave Victor’s hand a quick squeeze, leaning into Victor’s touch as he held Yuuri’s face in earnest now, cupping his cheek: the bands of the masks tickled beneath Victor's touch. ‘I’ll be cheering you on from the stands. Not that you need it; you’ll be amazing.’

‘Where will you be sitting?’ Victor asked, Yakov suddenly calling him from behind. Victor sighed, tossing da and something Yuuri didn’t know over his shoulder. ‘Can you try to sit near the kiss and cry?’

‘Um, I guess?’ Yuuri said, unsure. Victor grinned and leaned forward, kissing Yuuri on the forehead. Yuuri squeaked in surprise, habit causing him to toss his gaze around. No one was looking at them, the staff of the rink distracted with their duties. ‘I’ll head there now, so I can get a seat.’

‘Perfect,’ Victor said, giving Yuuri’s hand one more clutch. ‘I’ll be looking for you. Please watch carefully. I have a surprise for you.’ At that, he turned and left, Yuuri watching him join Yakov and Plisetsky. Watched as they turned the corner of a corridor, vanishing from sight.

With remembered ease, Yuuri managed to make his way towards the corridors for the stands and avoid the gaggle of press that lurked just by them towards the foyer. He felt safe enough, as he did yesterday, in his mask and hat. But even as he walked by, Yuuri clutched at his coat tighter, pulled it up just a little bit above his chin. He was looking down at his own feet, which was probably why he walked straight into someone.

‘Ah, sorry!’ Yuuri yelped, looking up to apologise further to the person he had bumped into. But his words died in his throat as he came face to face with Jean-Jacques Leroy. Trademark smile and all. Leroy grinned down at him, waving a hand gracefully. Yuuri made a small, strangled noise in the back of his throat.

‘Don’t worry about it! Happens all the time,’ he said, smile broad as he ran a hand through his hair. Yuuri froze, stomach dropping somewhere cold and dark. His hands were in front of him, feet stuck on the floor.

‘Uh.’

‘I’m very distracting,’ Leroy teased and Yuuri blushed, panic igniting heat inside of him. He took an awkward step back as Leroy’s eyes landed on his face properly. He watched in horror as Leroy gave him a closer look, watched as he squinted his dark blue eyes. ‘Sorry, but... you look really familiar.’

‘Uh,’ Yuuri said again, quite afraid he was going to throw up. His heart hammered in his chest and he looked wildly around him, as though an exit might just open up before him.

‘Wait,’ Leroy said quietly and Yuuri squeezed his eyes shut, hands balling into fists. He could feel himself shaking and was unsure how to stop. Leroy swore under his breath and Yuuri peeked out at him, watched as Leroy took an unsteady step backwards. ‘Oh my god. You’re-’

‘Yeah,’ Yuuri interrupted, drowning out Leroy’s breath of Eros. Yuuri tried not to panic. ‘I’m sorry. I need to go-’

‘What are you doing here?’ Leroy hissed suddenly, startling Yuuri with the tone of his voice. Leroy reached out quickly, grabbing Yuuri by the arm and dragging him away, towards the wall. Yuuri was taken by surprise, didn’t fight back as Leroy pulled him quickly into a small alcove. Yuuri was suddenly very aware of how alone he was. He shoved a hand in his pocket, for his phone.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ Yuuri replied, trying to keep his voice steady. Leroy frowned down at him, nervously glancing out of the side of his eye. Yuuri went to move; ‘Sorry, but I really have to-’

‘You shouldn’t still be here. What are you doing?’ Leroy said, grabbing Yuuri again. Yuuri stared down at where Leroy was holding him, tried awkwardly to shrink out of his grip. Leroy’s face suddenly dropped, his stare becoming more intense. Yuuri wanted to look away, but found he couldn’t. Leroy let Yuuri go, standing up straight. He was almost as tall as- ‘Nikiforov. You’re here for him, right? He hired you.’

‘No,’ Yuuri snapped, panicked. ‘It’s not like that!’

‘But you are here with him, aren’t you? Why else would you be here? Chulanont isn’t competing,’ Leroy said, looking away and seemingly more talking to himself. Yuuri’s heart stopped.

‘How do you know about Phichit?’ he asked, breathless as panic wrapped itself around his throat. Choking him. Leroy waved a hand, as if dismissing Yuuri.

‘I thought you’d be gone,’ Leroy said distractedly and Yuuri pulled his hands into himself. Instinct told him to shrink, anxiety pulling at his corners until he folded into himself, though his mind was screaming to run run run.

‘How…’ Yuuri started quietly, trying to find his voice. Trying to ignore the way his eyes prickled. ‘How did you know I was here?’

‘Never mind,’ Leroy snapped back, eyes wild. Yuuri jumped, backing further into the wall behind him. Leroy tossed a look over his shoulder. ‘I have to go. Look, just- you’re with Nikiforov, right?’

Yuuri didn’t say anything, didn’t move. Leroy sighed manically, running a hand over his styled fringe.

‘This never happened,’ Leroy said, giving Yuuri one last, quick look before he turned and vanished out into the crowd and Yuuri was left to stare after him, stare at the empty space he’d left behind. For a moment, Yuuri just stood there, drowning under the weight of his panic.

Then it all broke. Yuuri doubled over, clutching at his own shoulders as his breathing burst out of him in unsteady, shuddering bursts. He scrambled with his mask, pulling it down around his face so he could breathe. Yuuri wasn’t entirely sure what just happened. Leroy knew he was here- how?! Yuuri thought madly back, thought of his own actions. He knew Leroy was competing, had watched him do so just the day before. Had Leroy seen him? He must have. When? Yuuri had been so careful.

Yuuri went to run his hands through his hair, forgetting his hat and pushing it from his head instead. He leaned back, bumping his head off the wall. His breathing was in short, rapid pants. Stomach heavy with nausea, hands shaking. Yuuri closed his eyes, tried to count backwards. Stuck his hands in his pockets, touched his phone. Traced the lines of it. Wondered, desperately, if he could call Phichit. He wanted to call Phichit.

Instead, Yuuri went over the conversation again. Thought about it rationally. Leroy had called him Eros. So he still didn’t know who Yuuri was, not really. His identity was safe. Yuuri slowly started to get his breathing under control. Leroy had just been surprised, which was fair. Yuuri was surprised, too. But then… how did he know about Phichit?

Canada, Yuuri thought dazedly and he groaned aloud, remembering too late that they had met at Skate Canada. He remembered Phichit telling him. Remembered deliberately skirting around the topic. Phichit said they took a photo- knowing Phichit, he must’ve shown his Instagram. Yuuri was on that Instagram.

‘Phichit, kuso-,’ Yuuri swore under his breath, though he knew it wasn’t Phichit’s fault. Yuuri had never told him. Yuuri had no one to blame but himself.

But that had been close. Dangerously close. Yuuri was lucky Leroy was obviously of the mind of putting their meeting as far from his life as possible. Another client might not be. Yuuri had to reevaluate things. He thought of Robert’s call. If Robert had found his number so easily, then it would just be a matter of time before he found out about Phichit, too. Then all of this would come back to Phichit. Yuuri felt sick. He couldn’t let that happen.

Bending down to pick up his hat, Yuuri replaced his mask and started to head back towards the stalls. He’d have to move, if he wanted to get a seat where Victor wanted him. There was nothing Yuuri could do about any of it now, not until he got back to the States. He’d have to talk to Phichit, they’d have to make a decision. Together. Yuuri would have to be honest again, which he was dreading. But things were spiralling now. Victor knew the truth. If Yuuri wasn’t careful, a whole manner of people could learn the truth, too.

Yuuri knew he had a decision to make.

He ambled his way through the throng of people, aiming for the seats down by the kiss and cry. They were popular, some part of him acknowledging that he was right to get there early. But Yuuri felt like he was dreaming; dazed, like he wasn’t really there as he wove his way through people, carefully stepping around those picking their seats. His panic felt separate now- like oil on water. The announcements went over his head, the thrum of the people like white noise.

Yuuri took out his phone. He opened it. Then locked it. Then opened it again.

Phichit always teased Yuuri about his phone. Asked why Yuuri would bother getting such a large drive for it when he had a grand total of ten apps. Most of which came with the phone. Yuuri opened his photos and scrolled through them. He had a lot of photos. Screenshots from Phichit’s Instagram, pictures Yuuri had taken of Phichit when they went out together, from the side of the rink of Phichit skating. Phichit was so great on the ice. His confidence was everything Yuuri had ever wanted for himself, but better, because Phichit shared it with Yuuri like he did everything.

Yuuri closed the photos and opened messages.

09:21AM Hey. Are you watching the RC?

It was just after two in the morning. Yuuri knew Phichit was probably asleep. Probably just going to check the results the in morning-

Yuuri’s phone went off almost immediately.

09:21AM Of course! Everyone was talking about Victor’s step sequence in the sp. Like I was going to skip the free-skate after that! (*^∀゚)ъ

Yuuri could've cried. He and Phichit texted back and forth through the beginnings of the competition, Phichit only taking too long to reply when he had to update his live-tweets of the event, (If you just got a Twitter this would be much easier, you know!). Yuuri felt his worry ease, felt less dwarfed by the alienness of Moscow and the fear Leroy had inspired. Sitting in his seat by the kiss and cry, Yuuri almost felt like Phichit was there with him. Together, they commented on Plisetsky’s free-skate, (I assure you. He’s even more aggressive in person). Pointed out times they felt the Italian representative could’ve done better, (You know his sister is set for gold in the womens? Also, shes super hot!! Just saying~).

12:34PM Victor next!! Going to cheer your boyfriend on?  

Yuuri hesitated, fingers hovering. Watched Phichit’s little speech bubble rotate on the screen.

12:34PM Sorry, I don’t mean anything by calling him that.

Yuuri sighed in shame, knowing it was his fault Phichit would be so nervous. His reply came easier than he thought.

10:35AM Actually, you may be closer than you think.

10:35AM (・口・)!!!!!

Whatever else Phichit had to say, Yuuri ignored it as Victor skated out into the rink. The luminous lights of the stadium caught the shimmering pink gossamer of his costume, the brass buttons winking across the ice. Yuuri felt his heart speed up, felt his cheeks burn with affection as Victor spun in beautiful circles, waving gently before making it to the centre of the rink.

The stadium fell silent as the opening bars of Stammi Vicino flooded through the rink. Victor fell into his opening swoop to his knees with effortless beauty and Yuuri watched, leaning forward in his seat as Victor stretched his leg out into a striking counter, building momentum already for his first quad of the program.

Yuuri watched Victor gain speed, watched the curve of his arms as they bent. Remembered the feeling of those arms curled around him, the move of Victor’s body against Yuuri’s own. Yuuri could see everything as Victor glided through his first quad in simple grace, could remember the sweat of Victor’s brow and the sting of his nails in Yuuri’s thighs. Yuuri bit his lip as Victor prepared for his quad flip; glittering, silver beauty across the ice. 

Yuuri remembered being twelve years old and watching Victor skate in the junior division. Yuuri remembered the costume, the step sequences. He remembered watching from the small, battered television Yuuko’s parents had moved to the rink, just for them to watch on. This felt like then- like Yuuri’s very soul was crawling beneath his skin, aching to follow the movements Victor carved out on the ice. Yuuri clutched onto his seat until his fingers went numb.

Victor landed his quad as though he was weightless. Yuuri gasped anyway, impressed like he always, always was. Victor leant into a spin, arms and legs extended. Yuuri knew the stretch of such a spin and his legs ached with phantom memory.

I can do that, Yuuri thought as Victor spun and danced his way through his own step sequence. Yuuri watched, heart in his mouth as Victor executed his quads with startling precision. Yuuri had always wanted to be like that. Victor landed his last loop and Yuuri cried out with happiness, overwhelmed and tears formed as he let the emotion flood through him.

Over the years, Victor had never ceased to surprise Yuuri. Ever since he’d first seen him skate. One surprise after another. And then after meeting him, Victor managed to change the perception Yuuri had of his life in ways Yuuri had never considered. Now, Yuuri saw that perception for how limited it was. As Victor used the momentum to carry himself into the final sequence, arms extended in silent invitation, Yuuri felt himself give over before he even knew what he was surrendering to.

After the last combination spin, Yuuri almost cried out as he watched Victor counter it carefully, changing the final composition. Yuuri knew Stay Close to Me backwards and forwards, he could see Victor change the direction before the announcer. But even so, Yuuri was still confused until Victor finished, legs still posed in careful separation. But his hands were not folded in on himself. Instead, Victor held them in gentle extension, both out across the ice.

One hand out in one long line, finger pointed. Straight across the rink. Right at where Yuuri was sitting.

The arena erupted into applause, screams. Russian announcements, official calls. But Yuuri ignored all of it.

For years, Yuuri had skated for one single purpose. To meet Victor, to make it to his level. That dream had never seemed further away than the time Yuuri was physically closest to it. But now, Yuuri knew Victor past that. Knew he wore jeans that were just a little too long for him. Knew he spoiled his dog terribly, knew he would rather spend three times the money on a cab than get a bus. He knew that despite all the magazines claiming otherwise, Victor wasn’t very good at conversation. He spoke too much, never considered what he said either. He snored, he always let his food go cold because he talked too much over dinner. Victor got up at six, even at weekends, and used two kinds of shampoo.

And Yuuri… Yuuri adored him.

Yuuri stood up, awkwardly making his way across the people who sat along the row. They complained loudly as he stepped on their toes, fell halfway into their laps. But Yuuri didn’t care. He scrambled his way to the stairwell and started to make his way down it quickly, before his feet hit the ground and then he was running. Running as fast as he could down the corridor and around the corner towards the back of the kiss and cry.

He kept running, side-stepping the press who were lurking past the barrier. He hopped it easily, barrelling down the corridor. Everyone was too busy to notice him, not that he cared if they did. He saw Victor coming out from the kiss and cry, Yakov at his shoulder and speaking to him.

‘Victor!’ Yuuri cried out and Victor turned instantly, eyes beautiful and mouth open in Yuuri’s name. Victor opened his arms and Yuuri ran into them like he was always meant to.

‘Yuuri!’ Victor said, holding Yuuri tightly and turning. He spun them slightly, lifting Yuuri just off the ground. They tee