There are things Yuri wants that he doesn’t know how to ask for. Viktor can tell. He’s seen that look, or something like it, in many different eyes over the years. He knows what it feels like when an unvoiced question gets shaped into a kiss. Yuri leaves silent requests on the back of Viktor’s neck, or pressed over his heart, and each one feels like a brand. But, either Yuri doesn’t know the words to ask, or…
Or he doesn’t think Viktor can give him what he’s looking for.
He shakes that thought from his head and focuses on lacing up his skates. The rink’s deserted now and he promised to lock up after they finish, but they’ve still only got two hours to practice their lifts, and he’s currently nursing a bruise from where Yuri nearly dropped him yesterday.
After this, they’ll get something to eat, and go back to the apartment. Yuri will let him sit on the floor and tend to the sore muscles of his feet and calves; he will in turn press his thumbs into the knots that blossom between Viktor's shoulder blades, and his mouth to the spot where neck and shoulder meet, and Viktor will shiver. It’s become a habit: a way to end the day.
Then they will climb tiredly into bed and Yuri will let himself be gathered up and caressed, each movement a question of Viktor's: “Is this what you want? Is this?”
But--always--Yuri will shift in some unconsciously sharp way. Not a no, exactly, but not near enough to a yes that Viktor knows how to proceed, and so he does not proceed. After that, Viktor will try to slow his pulse, and then they will sleep.
He knows they only have a few more days of this before they fly to Moscow. He wonders if he’ll figure it out by then.
Yuri is already waiting for him on the ice, and at least Viktor can read the question on his brow pretty clearly for once.
“Coming!” Viktor calls, and skates towards Yuri’s outstretched hand.
He gets his yes , finally, two days later. It’s the day before they fly and he’s taken a unilateral decision to cancel practice--though Yuri’s protest is nothing more than a cursory: “Are you sure?” before flopping back onto the bed.
“No, no, no,” Viktor says, shaking his shoulder. For the last two weeks, their life has consisted mostly of the gym, the pool, and, at night, the rink. Yuri has learned the layout of the small park next to the apartment building, and the names of the waiters in the cafe where they eat in the evening, but he’s a stranger to the city at large, and that feels wrong to Viktor. “We’re going out!”
Yuri rolls onto his stomach. “Mmf,” he says into his pillow.
“There are only seven hours of daylight this time of year,” Viktor says, continuing to shake him, undeterred. “I don’t want to waste a minute of it!”
Yuri turns over, looking at him with a strange, intent expression. “Wouldn’t you rather stay in bed?” There are several distracting inches of skin showing, where his shirt has ridden up, which seems like an act of aggression against Viktor’s critical thinking skills.
“Let me take you sightseeing,” Viktor says, eventually, and he can’t remember why this is important, but it is.
“Sightseeing?” Yuri says, frowning. “I don’t know…”
“For a little while. I’ll take you to lunch. Then, I promise: bed. We can stay until tomorrow afternoon, if you like.”
Yuri considers him for a moment, and that intent expression returns. Viktor thinks I’ve only seen him look like that on the ice, and his heart throbs at the realization. But then Yuri is climbing out of bed and stretching. Viktor hears the familiar trochaic pop-pop-pop along the bend of his spine, and the accompanying small noise of pleasure that he's come to covet.
“Alright,” Yuri says. As he passes by, he trails a hand along Viktor's arm. “You're a hard man to refuse.”
The seagulls wheel overhead as they walk along the river. At this time of year, they have even this part of the city mostly to themselves, and that seems to make Yuri bold. He kisses Viktor's palm in the shadow of a church, once he’s satisfied the square is empty; he slips his hand into Viktor's pocket in the middle of a bridge. They talk about nothing in particular, and Viktor feels something that, many weeks later, he will realize is contentment.
“Let’s take a photo,” Viktor says, and Yuri humors him, smiling brightly.
“It's very beautiful,” Yuri says, as Viktor adjusts the filter and posts the picture. He’s watching the frazil ice move through the currents and out towards the sea. “I can see why...it’s the kind of place that a person would want to come back to.”
The phrasing is strange; the pause, stranger. But Yuri’s mood has been at an angle all day, and so Viktor simply smiles and says: “I’m glad you like it. You should see it in the summer!” Yuri goes silent at that, and in the pocket of Viktor’s coat, against his hip, he feels Yuri’s hand twitch.
Viktor risks a kiss to Yuri’s temple, and turns his attention back to the river.
They shake the snow from their clothes and hair as they cross the threshold. The sudden change in temperature sends pins and needles through Viktor’s skin and causes Yuri’s glasses to fog up. Viktor gives thanks for the underfloor heating as he removes his damp socks.
Once they’ve shed their layers, Viktor turns his attention, briefly, to frowning at the letter he’s gotten, and so he misses the fact that Yuri is staring at him.
“What’s it say?”
“Hm? Oh. Just some...statements from the person who handles my money. Boring stuff.” The sudden increase in Viktor's spending over the past months has caused a ripple of alarm, but then, Viktor has lived like a monk for the last few years. Well. A monk with an expensive hairdresser. Almost all of his purchases have been work-related, in one way or another. No vacations, no shopping sprees, no one to buy gifts for, beyond Chris’ birthday and…
“The person who handles your money?”
“Um. You know, a...I don’t know... financier ?”
He puts the letter on the side table. “You didn’t think I’d manage that myself did you?” He laughs. “I may not be particularly smart, but I’m smart enough to know when I should hire experts.”
“Not particularly….You speak three languages.” Yuri takes a step closer to him, and the look in his eyes is almost a challenge.
“Necessity. And you speak English much better than I do.”
“I’ve seen you finish a 400-page novel in two and a half days.” Now Yuri is in front of him, hands on Viktor’s hips.
“Novel?” Viktor asks, slightly dazed. Yuri has been borrowing his scarves, and he catches a trace of his own cologne from the curve of Yuri’s neck. “What novel?”
They’re crowded together now, right in the middle of the living room, and Viktor feels like they’re having two different conversations at once. “The one you read when you first got to Hasetsu,” Yuri says. “It had a blue cover.”
Viktor blinks. He hadn’t realized that Yuri saw that. The idea of Yuri watching him so closely, even then, when it seemed like Viktor’s presence made him want to flee, shakes something loose. “That was a history of Japan.”
“Oh,” Yuri says, and slides his hand around Viktor’s neck to pull him into a kiss. It’s different than the few they’ve shared during daylight hours--that hand under Viktor’s shirt, that tongue in Viktor’s mouth, they all speak of the two a.m. fearlessness that Yuri usually only finds in a dark bedroom or the bottom of a champagne bottle.
“You didn't have any vodka at lunch,” Viktor says, feeling untethered, like Yuri’s hand on his neck is the only thing keeping him grounded.
“Yeah? So?” Yuri kisses him again, less hurried this time. “Thank you for showing me around today,” he says, his face only a few inches away from Viktor’s, “but now I think you should take me to bed.”
Well, who could disagree with such an observation? Viktor thinks. “Of course,” he says, smiling, buoyant. “Your wish is my command.” Then, in a sudden moment of inspiration, he decides to make use of all those practice lifts, and sweeps Yuri up into his arms. This earns him a yelp and a laugh that ends in another kiss, which carries them through to the bedroom.
Viktor has been compiling a list. Most of it is not consciously done, but it still proves useful as they undress. Viktor knows the exact spot at the corner of Yuri's jaw that will make him sigh and bare his neck when kissed (this spot, he notes, is half an inch lower on the right than the left); the exact amount of pressure to apply as he runs his hands across Yuri's chest and down his sides, though care must always be taken to avoid the ever-present bruising. He knows the way Yuri's breath will catch at the press of Viktor's thigh between his own.
Here, though, his list stops, and he only has theory to work with. Usually by this point, he's made himself pull away and retreat to neutral territory, and he's afraid of making a wrong move. Yuri's belt buckle seems an almost insurmountable obstacle. He feels 15 again, unsure of what to do with his hands.
Yuri seems frustrated by this turn of events. He undoes the belt himself while continuing to kiss Viktor, in a remarkable show of multitasking. Yuri kicks off his jeans as though they’ve offended him, and then Viktor has an armful of mostly-naked Yuri, and a rapidly-increasing heart rate.
Viktor pulls away a little to take in Yuri’s face. He’s blushing--of course he is--from the scarlet of his ears, to the smarting pink on his cheeks, to the paler flush across his neck and chest. But his eyes are fierce, determined. Viktor puts a hand against his cheek. It feels fever-hot.
“What?” Yuri asks. His gaze darts away before he brings it back, full-force.
He goes, if possible, even redder. “I’m just...I’m just--happy. That we’re here, together, right now. That’s all.”
“Well, so am I.” He pulls Yuri to him again. “What do you want?” There’s a pause and a faint echo of the old, abrupt movement that always signaled the end, before. But this time Viktor feels like he’s starting to understand. “It’s alright if you don’t know. Nobody does, the first time.” He laughs. “Or sometimes the tenth. Or sometimes more. Believe me.”
Yuri nods against his shoulder, and Viktor feels the tension flow out of him.
“I’m starting to worry.”
“Oh no, d--”
“I can’t believe I'm actually having to tell you to take off your clothes.”
Viktor feels him grin, and then starts laughing. He guides Yuri toward the bed and pushes his shoulder. Yuri falls back easily. He’s laughing, too, now. The last of Viktor’s clothes end up on the floor next to Yuri’s, and then Viktor pounces.
The buoyancy has returned. He has a beautiful boy underneath him, asking for his affection. Viktor feels full of light, and lightness. He feels the way he did the first time he ever landed a quad. He settles his elbows on either side of Yuri’s head and says: “Hello.”
“Hi.” He runs his hand along Viktor’s back. It seems Yuri’s been making a list, too. “Let’s get under the covers.”
Viktor watches the shiver travel up Yuri’s body, like a signal through a wire. Sweat makes him gleam gold in the lamplight and Viktor decides he likes the way it looks. He dips his head again to bite at Yuri’s neck--lightly, and below the collar, nothing that will show on camera--and listens to him pant. Other methods can be explored later.
Viktor worries that he might be hallucinating, but the ache in his jaw is real enough. And yes, that’s his black silk necktie around Yuri’s wrists, holding them in place against what is most definitely his headboard.
(“I...don’t know what to do with my hands,” Yuri had stammered at one point, looking embarrassed and irritated, and Viktor could only think well, at least I’m not the only one.
Viktor had considered telling him “do whatever you want”, but he knew by now that that kind of direction would be no help, and so had instead said: “Okay, wait here.”
“What, really?” Yuri had asked, glancing above his head to watch as Viktor worked, tying careful knots.
“This way, you don’t even have to think about it. And it’s fun. I mean...unless, you don’t want...I can untie…”
“No, no, it’s...no. It’s a good idea. It’s a great idea.” And then he was smiling again.)
It’s unfair to keep Yuri waiting just to satisfy his desire to look, though, and eventually Yuri will start to lose feeling in his hands, so Viktor settles himself on top again, between Yuri’s thighs. Yuri squeezes his eyes shut and pulls air through his teeth as Viktor reaches down and wraps his hand around both of their erections. Viktor’s stomach muscles clench in response.
“Okay?” he manages to ask.
Yuri nods, and opens his eyes. They are bright and infinitely soft, a subtle fire that Viktor feels flare up suddenly in his own heart. He can’t say how long it’s been there, when his infatuation melted slowly into friendship and then into...whatever it is he feels now. But he knows, now that it’s lit, there’s no putting it out again.
It’s that realization that sends him over the edge he’s been standing on for the last twenty minutes. He spills onto his hand, curling forward at the intensity of his orgasm, until his forehead rests against the mattress. He has a shred of sense left to notice that Yuri’s eyes go wide as his back arches, bringing their bodies flush together. Yuri makes a noise that might be words or might be nonsense, but is definitely surprised.
They breathe together in the half light. Viktor loses the strength to support himself, and rolls off of Yuri and onto his back, blinking at the ceiling. He turns to look at Yuri, who is wearing a similarly dazed expression. “Well,” he says, between gasps. “What did you think?”
Yuri nods again. “That...I don’t know why we didn’t do that before now.”
Viktor laughs and brushes the damp hair from Yuri’s forehead, combing it flat until it looks almost like the way he styles it when he skates. He decides he likes the way that looks, too.
“Untie me,” Yuri says, yawning. “I want to hug you.”
Viktor isn’t quite able to keep his promise. They have to drag themselves out of bed to eat at midnight, devouring the last of the oranges and greenhouse strawberries and trading honey-slow kisses by the kitchen sink.
Viktor will need to change the sheets in the morning, but he can’t bear thinking about it now. Then, there is the matter of packing, which they do almost on autopilot. Still, Viktor pauses when he flattens out the necktie, and holds it up to consider it. “Next time,” he says, from where he sits cross-legged on the floor, “we will switch positions. Yes?”
Yuri nearly drops the shoe he’s holding. “Uh. Yes?” He clears his throat and straightens his shoulders. “I mean, yes. Definitely.”
When they climb into bed to sleep, Viktor finds himself reluctant to let himself drift off, though he’s exhausted. He turns his head to watch Yuri, who has turned away from him. Just the outline of his shoulder is visible in the dim light from the street but Viktor finds himself staring at it, and the even rise and fall of Yuri’s breathing. All at once he realizes that he’s taken Yuri on a date, successfully. Yuri’s seen his city, and likes it. Yuri’s toothbrush is next to his in the bathroom. Yuri’s skated on Viktor’s home rink. Yuri knows where Viktor keeps the teaspoons. And Viktor...Viktor can almost imagine what it would be like to have this, always.
Oh, Viktor thinks, just as sleep comes to claim him. Oh. I think I know what this might be.