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Laundromats and Broken Radiators: A Love Story

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"Yuuri!"

Yuuri hears a voice calling from behind him through the empty laundromat, name pronounced with an all-too-familiar Russian accent. He pushes a final coin into the washer and Yuuri turns towards the voice.

Whose owner is much closer than four seconds ago, because Yuuri's about to be enveloped in a big hug.

"Hi, Viktor," he mumbles, not entirely sure if he should be hugging him back or not. But, before he can decide, Viktor is pulling away to cup his face in his hands.

"Yuuri, I missed you!"

"It's only been three days," Yuuri points out, though he can feel his cheeks flush at the admission. Viktor does not look like someone who's probably running on less than four hours of sleep since his flight landed the night before. But, then again, he never does.

"Three days too long, Yurochka. I can't sleep without you."

"Oh. Right." Yuuri forces a smile, which probably comes out more like a grimace, and tugs his shirt down from where it's starting to ride up. Stupid laundry day clothes that don't fit right.

"I can sleep over tonight, right?" Viktor asks.

Yuuri can't help but nod. Ever since the first time he said yes to Viktor, he hasn't been able to say no again. Yes, you can come in. Yes, I'll try your borscht. Yes, I'll go ice skating with you this weekend. Yes, you can sleep here.

But they're not dating. Yuuri reminds himself of this all the time. Sure, Viktor hugs him freely, but Yuuri is never sure whether him initiating a hug will be welcome. They share dinners and go out to eat, but that's something Yuuri does with Phichit also. Viktor presses his lips to his forehead and touches his face, but they've never actually kissed. Viktor's just a tactile person. All Russians are probably like that.

And, these past several weeks, they've slept together more nights than not. But not in any kind of sexual way. Yuuri knows his body, softened with his usual winter weight, is probably just comfortable to cuddle with. And, in any case, Yuuri can't complain about the extra body heat. Not with the half-broken radiator the manager still hasn't repaired and Viktor seeming to run at least two degrees hotter than Yuuri at all times.

(Plus, Yuuri gets Makkachin to warm his feet at night this way.)

"I'll bring green borscht," Viktor announces.

"Okay," Yuuri says. He didn't even know borscht came in green until he met Viktor. It's his favorite kind now.

Viktor grins back at him again, eyes sparkling. Yuuri feels his lips curve up into a real smile this time. He can't help that, either. Viktor's smiles are infectious.

"Don't you need to put your laundry in--" Yuuri starts to gesture to the wall of washers and then cuts off when he looks back and can't see Viktor's laundry bag. "Did you forget to bring your laundry?"

"I'm not doing any," Viktor says, hopping up to sit on a dryer.

"Oh." Yuuri frowns. "Then what are you doing here? You do realize you're in a laundromat, right?"

"I told you, Yuuri. I missed you." Viktor tugs him in and presses a kiss to his forehead. Yuuri tries valiantly not to blush at that.

"Then how did you know I was here?" he asks, trying to surreptitiously adjust his clothes so that the hem of his shirt actually meets his pants before he lets Viktor wrap him in his arms.

"Phichit told me," he says simply. As if waking up just a few hours after your flight lands to go knock on your neighbor's door -- at seven on a Sunday morning -- is a normal thing to do.

"Oh."

"Aren't you going to ask me how the competition went?" Viktor asks.

Yuuri pulls back to look at him. "You won by 14 points."

"14.45," Viktor corrects. "So you watched it!"

"Uh, yeah," Yuuri mumbles, glancing away as he feels his cheeks heat again. That's not a strange thing to admit, is it? He would stay up late with the time change to watch anyone skate, not just the neighbor he had a crush on, right? "Congratulations, by the way."

"Thanks," Viktor says. He's tracing Yuuri's cheekbone with his thumb now. "I missed you."

"You said that already," Yuuri says. Then adds, more quietly, "I missed you, too."

It takes him more to admit than it seems to take Viktor. But it's worth it for the way Viktor's face lights up.

"You did?" Viktor smiles as if he truly didn't expect that.

And then Viktor's lips are pressing against his. Yuuri's eyes flutter closed. It's a light touch, tender and brief, before Viktor pulls back.

Yuuri opens his eyes and stares at him. He can feel his heart racing. He wonders if he should attribute that to an over-friendly Russian greeting. Except Viktor's never done that before. And neither of them is coming or going anywhere at the moment.

"Did you kiss me?" he finds himself blurting out. Viktor's hand drops from his face and Yuuri looks down because he can't stand to see Viktor's expression when he says that's not what it was.

But instead Viktor is saying, "I'm sorry. I couldn't help it. I know you don't want--"

He's cut off by the loud buzz from Yuuri's washer. Yuuri, startled, looks over at it. But then back at Viktor.

"I don't want what?" Yuuri asks.

"You should get that," Viktor says, gesturing over to the washer.

"I don't want what?" Yuuri repeats because he needs to know. He grabs Viktor's shoulders as if that will keep him here until he answers.

Viktor's tongue comes out to wet his lips. "That. From me."

"Viktor," Yuuri hears his voice come out in a warning tone. He digs his fingers harder into Viktor's shoulders. "Define 'that'."

Viktor gives a frustrated sigh. "Romance. Affection. Love, Yuuri. Whatever you want to call it."

Yuuri's hands drop from Viktor's shoulders and he jumps down from the dryer and steps a few paces down the row.

A fluorescent light is buzzing above them. There are cracks in the tiled floor under their feet. The room smells like detergent and dryer paper. Yuuri doesn't care.

He grabs onto the collar of Viktor's shirt and pulls him in. And then, before he can second-guess himself, he kisses him.

It's nothing like Viktor's kiss.

Instead, it's fierce and maybe a little possessive. Because if there is any chance that Viktor wants this as much as Yuuri does -- as crazy as that sounds -- he is not letting him get away.

 

 

The hours between kicking Viktor out of the laundromat -- because he couldn't just stay there kissing Yuuri, not when the Sunday morning crowd was about to arrive and he needed to actually get some sleep after his nine hour flight -- and Viktor knocking on his door with a steaming serving bowl and a bouquet of flowers are more than long enough for Yuuri to think about what just happened. And question himself. And think about it more. And question himself again.

Yuuri is able to cover up his anxiety well enough to convince Phichit it'll okay if he goes out for the night and leaves Yuuri alone. But when Viktor gets there shortly afterwards and hands him the flowers and leans in to kiss him, Yuuri breaks it off and steps back.

"I should put these in water, right?" He holds up the bouquet. "That's what people do with these?"

Viktor's expression is soft as he says, "Yes, I believe that's what people do with those."

"Okay, then. I'll... be right back." Yuuri hurries into the kitchen and almost trips over Makkachin, who's run in ahead of Viktor. He calls out behind himself, "You can put that on the table, I'll be right there!"

Yuuri tries to act like a normal, non-crazy, person through dinner. He listens to a story Viktor's telling him from the competition. Something about the other Yuri. Russian Yuri. He thinks he's nodding and smiling in the right places though he can't be sure.

But not halfway through his bowl of borscht, he just can't take it anymore. He drops his spoon with a clatter and, not making eye contact, blurts out, "I can't do this."

"Can't do what, Yuuri?"

Yuuri feels his warm hand cover his on the table and he looks up. He takes a deep breath and tries to blink away the tears in his eyes.

"This. Us. Dating. It's not right."

Viktor's expression falls, but he collects himself quickly and says, "I told you, if you don't want--"

"You're a world-champion ice skater!" Yuuri interrupts.

There's a long pause. And then, "Is that a problem?"

"Yes!" Yuuri tugs his hands through his hair in distress.

Viktor frowns at him. "Yuuri, if you don't like skating, it's okay."

"No, that's--"

"I only have another year or two left until I'll have to retire, anyways. And I know that I have to spend a lot of time traveling and practicing, but I promise I'll always make time for you." Viktor reaches for Yuuri's hand and squeezes it. "And you don't need to watch the competitions if you don't want to. Though I had choreographed next year's short program based on you, so maybe you could come to see it once--"

"That's not it." Yuuri sighs loudly. "Look, Viktor, you're gorgeous and famous and you could have anyone and they would be lucky to have you. I'm just your neighbor who's chubby and boring and awkward and mentally weak and--wait, you made a program based on me?"

But Viktor's looking at him, aghast. "You really think I could do better than you?"

"Of course. You're perfect and gorgeous and so talented and--" Yuuri trails off because Viktor is kicking his chair back and rushing around to Yuuri's side of the table. Yuuri just stares as he kneels next to his chair and reaches for Yuuri's hand again.

"Viktor, you don't have to--"

"My beautiful Yuuri," Viktor says, pressing his lips to his knuckles. "I could never do better than you. You are amazing and perfect and I was content to have as little or as much as you were willing to give me. The thought that you might care for me, too, is more than I can ever deserve."

"Um."

"I will keep proving that to you until you believe me."

"I believe you," Yuuri says quickly.

"No, you don't." Viktor gives him a half-smile. "But you will."

"Okay, um, maybe we should finish eating now before your borscht gets cold?" Yuuri suggests.

"Whatever you'd like," Viktor says. He stands up to return to his seat but only after pressing one last kiss to Yuuri's hand.

 

 

Yuuri brushes past where his coat is drying on his lukewarm radiator and crawls into bed. Viktor gets in the other side and pulls the blankets over both of them before wrapping his arms tight around Yuuri.

It's the same as it's been every other night. And yet it also seems different tonight in all the ways that matter.

Viktor's mind seems to be going along the same track, because he hooks his chin over Yuuri's shoulder and says, "I don't understand how you didn't realize I was flirting with you."

"If you hadn't been so subtle about it, maybe I would have," Yuuri counters.

"Yuuri, I asked you out a dozen times."

"But to dinner!"

"You realize that is what people often do on dates, don't you?" Viktor asks, running his fingers over Yuuri's ribs. Even through his shirt, it tickles and Yuuri has to suppress a giggle as he bats his hand away.

"And what about all the times I tried to sleep with you?"

"I figured you just thought I was comfortable to cuddle with?"

He feels Viktor's laugh against his back. "Oh, sweet Yuuri, if all I wanted a warm body in my bed, you know I have Makkachin, right?"

(Makkachin who, case in point, at that moment finally stops turning in circles and plops down on top of their feet.)

"Though I can't deny you are nice to cuddle with," Viktor continues, sliding his hand over Yuuri's soft belly.

"I, uh, gain weight easily," Yuuri says, knowing that Viktor can't see his flush in the dark.

"Mmmhmm," Viktor murmurs.

There's a moment of silence between them, but it's a comfortable sort of silence. Yuuri snuggles back into Viktor's embrace. Viktor tightens his muscled arms around him.

"So, you choreographed a program for me?" Yuuri asks.

"Well," Viktor says. Yuuri can feel a smile pressing into the back of his neck. "It's really for me to skate. Though if you'd like to try, I'd be happy to teach it to you. Seeing as last time we went skating you didn't make it across the rink without falling, you might have some trouble with the four quads. But I can cut it down to three. And I don't know how your salchow is, but--"

"Oh my god, Viktor, shut up," Yuuri says, laughing as he twists in Viktor's arms and kisses him. "You could just show it to me, you know."

"I suppose I could do that," Viktor sighs. He's clearly trying to sound put-upon but the smile in his voice gives it away.

So does the kiss he gives Yuuri in return.