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One for the Road

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"You're tired of me?" Victor whimpers, big doe eyes watering in mock tragedy. He slides himself from the bed, allowing the sheets to fall gracefully from his body as he does so, and Chris drinks in the view with a long, hungry breath. "I'm mortified," Victor continues.

"Oh, darling. I could never, ever grow tired of you," Chris admits, watching the Russian stand, unabashedly naked and unapologetically beautiful. "Not in a million years."

Victor turns back to face him and kneels onto the bed. "Then what?" he sighs dramatically. "Oh, don't tell me. You've found somebody young and new!" He recoils with a flounce and throws himself onto his back, an arm draped over his eyes. "It's over! I'm finished! You oust me from your bed. I am no longer worthy of Christophe Giacometti."

The blond laughs, then, all tension and lust subsiding at Victor's dramatic, yet entirely predictable, outburst. "Victor," he purrs, dangerously running a hand along Victor's porcelain arm. "There is nobody else I'd rather share my bed with. You know this. The great Victor Nikiforov." He chuckles fondly. "But I won't pander to your dramatic overtures. Save those for the ice."

Victor lifts his arm away from his face and opens an eye to look up at the smiling Swiss man, still puppy-dog sad, but the act very much dropped. He leans up on his elbows and regards Chris for a moment, his silver hair falling over his eyes. Chris, to his shame, imagines raking his fingers through it, as he'd done countless times before, his breath catching in his throat as the image colours his vision and softens his resolve. He turns away, cheeks flushing. As though there was any modesty at all left in their relationship.

Damn it.

"What is it, then?"

So hopeless. So impossibly clueless. Chris sighs and risks moving in a little closer. Victor smells of sweat and sex and expensive perfume. Chris lets escape a guttural groan as he heaves himself closer still, but he falls short of Victor's lips (fuck, they're inviting) and finds, somehow, the strength to stay away.

"I waited for you," he says, his voice sing-song and playful, "I knew it before, but I waited for you anyway." Chris pulls himself away at the memory, and Victor in turn sits upright against the headboard, a hairline frown creasing his forehead. He knows Chris. He knows every inch of Chris and knows, right now, that there's a layer of melancholy hidden beneath those velvety words. Christophe Giacometti was a man rarely serious, so when Victor was permitted a glimpse of this side, he paid his friend full attention.

"When?"

Chris purses his lips. "As if you don't know."

Victor, of course, knows.

The banquet.

He and Chris had long shared a not-so-secret on/off non-relationship that extended beyond the ice. When they began sharing the podium, they also started sharing a bed, each considering the other their own personal stress relief and occupational therapist. Without the pressure of commitment and with unspoken understanding, Victor Nikiforov and Christophe Giacometti fell hungrily into each other's arms every time they competed together. Which, lately, had become a somewhat regular occurrence. Post-competition fumbles had become a regular self-congratulatory celebration between the two of them.

Banquet evenings had often been their 'adieu for now', the night before everyone departed back to their respective countries and back to the reality of training, exhibitions and press events. Neither Chris nor Victor was interested in maintaining the long distance relationship between Russia and Switzerland, nor in pretending that their 'relationship' was anything more than friendly rivalry with a few very welcome benefits. It was what it was: a fun, reliable, testosterone-addled way of letting off steam after long competitions, free of guilt and strings.

But the latest banquet had changed all that. A newcomer had entered the arena. Chris wasn't a man to succumb to jealousy, but he was certainly the first to notice the way Victor had been staring at the raven-haired skater coaxed into the room by a coach uninterested in a pity party. Yuuri Katsuki.

"Oh, please," Victor admonishes, but he doesn't make eye contact and chooses, instead, to deflect. "I barely remember what happened that evening, but I do recall a certain Swiss beauty being very preoccupied indeed."

"For years I have watched people fawn over you," Chris ignores Victor's accusation, a knowing smirk on his lips. "It became quite the spectator sport, watching you turn down man after man, woman after woman. Never in all these years have I seen you look at a man the way you looked at a certain Yuuri Katsuki."

Chris pronounces the name like syrup, and Victor feels his chest tighten as Yuuri's face, flush with alcohol, flashes across his mind.

"And just where did you go, that evening?" Chris continues his line of attack, his voice teasing and saccharine sweet. "While I waited, alone and forgotten?"

Victor opts again for deflection, smirking as he finally meets Chris's gaze. "As though you would ever be left alone for long," he smiles.

"It's true," Chris admits with a dramatic sigh. "I had a few numbers lined up, should my usual steady let me down. And he did," he adds, "let me down." His eyes get a little narrower. "And now, he is avoiding my questions. Could Victor Nikiforov be hiding something?"

A sound escapes Victor's lips that is neither English nor French and Chris laughs out loud. "Victor! Shame on you. Taking advantage of the poor boy. You know the Japanese don't hold their liquor like you Russians." His smile becomes Cheshire-Cat wide. "I truly admire his stamina though. I bet he gave you a run for your money, old man."

“Chris, I am three years older than you,” Victor begins, and then shakes his head. “Nyet. No. I am not discussing this.” He moves to lift himself from the bed, but Chris places a hand firmly down onto his own and looks at Victor with sincerity, green eyes sparkling beneath impossibly long lashes. Victor isn’t one for idle gossip, nor is he particularly favourable to the idea of spilling his innermost feelings to a man who had, only minutes before, been interested in anything but talking.

Christophe Giacometti. You’re a devil of a man.

Victor relents, however. Slightly. “And you should know that I am offended by the mere suggestion that I was anything but a gentleman.”

Chris smirks. “Of course,” he says, without a trace of sarcasm. “But you did not return to my room that night.”

“I put Katsuki to bed,” Victor says in a heavy sigh, as though it were the world’s greatest admission and as though he would be reprimanded for it. “I saw to it that he got back to his room safely. It took me forty minutes to find his other shoe.”

Chris laughs and releases Victor’s hand, pulling himself up against the headboard to join him. They sit, for a while, in silence. This evening had gone so differently to how Victor had expected. Only hours earlier, he and Chris had stood side by side on the ice, as they had done so many times before. He had been ready to thoroughly destroy Chris before the medal even collared his neck, was already planning awful things in his mind as the cameras flashed around the two of them.

Though they often communicated publicly through Instagram and ridiculous Snapchat selfies, their private texts had ramped up on their approach to the World Championships in Japan. Chris was an expert at dirty innuendo and Victor merrily followed suit, their secret conversations turning their direct messages blue with sordid promises.

Victor had won gold, of course, and Chris had placed second, of course. Only moments ago, Victor had still been wearing his newest medal, until even that had been discarded onto the floor with the rest of his clothes. He had arrived at the hotel room still dressed in his athletic gear, including his Olympian jacket, as he always did, though if it was worn to impress, Chris was having none of it. He'd pulled the Russian into the room and the jacket had been the first thing to go.

"One day," Chris had said, his breath hot on Victor's neck, "you'll be the one waiting for the knock on the door while I attend the interviews."

Victor hadn't deigned to dignify that with a verbal response. Instead, he'd pushed Chris down onto the bed forcefully, the familiar scratch of stubble brushing sharply against his lips. Chris had been ready and waiting for his visitor and was, as such, wearing only a thin robe to hide his modesty. Fortunately for Victor's impatience, modesty wasn't something Chris was particularly accustomed to, and Victor made short work of freeing him from it.

"It just wouldn't be the same without you looking up at me,” Victor had said, a heart-shaped smile beaming wide as he looked down at the man trapped beneath him.

"Oh, stop talking," Chris had demanded breathily, pushing Victor downwards, "and do something useful with that pretty mouth of yours."

The sex had been as ferociously passionate as their routines on the ice. They knew each other so well at this point that they each knew precisely how to make the other man sing and, boy, did Chris know all the right chords.

Both exhausted and thoroughly sated, they'd slumped against each other, their bodies burning hot and slick with sweat. Victor had been resting his head on Chris's shoulder, already allowing himself to be swallowed up by sleep, when the Swiss man had leaned down to kiss his forehead.

"I'm truly going to miss this," he'd murmured into Victor's hair, his lips salty from the kiss. Victor, already half asleep, mumbled some sort of response, before the words slowly took form in his mind. He'd looked up to Chris in such hapless confusion that the blond couldn't help but smile.

Just like that, the spell that had woven around them was broken. And now they lay, side by side, chaste and sombre, the mood well and truly dampened.

Chris takes Victor’s hand in his own, the Russian’s long elegant fingers entwining with his.

"Katsuki," Chris says.

Victor nods, silent.

Chris continues, needling for an angle. “A pity really. The boy showed such promise, but his performance last season...”

“We all have off seasons,” Victor murmurs, coming to Yuuri’s defence, and it irritates him how much Chris’s words have annoyed him. Chris cocks an eyebrow in response, and Victor shrugs, sheepishly. “Well, some of us, anyway.”

“Can’t fault his performance on the dance floor, though.” Chris chuckles at the memory. “I must say, I would have him as a dance partner any time. And there was me thinking I’d have the pole all to myself that evening.”

Victor makes a noise that isn’t intelligible in any language. Chris can feel the Russian’s palm grow warmer and sweatier in his grip. He’s quite enjoying this, making Victor squirm so earnestly without so much as laying a finger on him. “He's a fan of yours, you know,” he adds. “You can tell in the way he dances.”

“Many people are fans of mine,” Victor says offhandedly, completely truthful and without a hint of boastfulness.

"And fancy, asking you to become his coach," Chris continues, his voice playful as he thinks back to the banquet and the drunken ravings of their Japanese acquaintance.

At that, Victor falls silent once again. Chris side-eyes him for a beat, gears whirling. “You considered it! You horny old man. Victor Nikiforov, you dare abandon me on the ice!”

“Like you’re abandoning me here?” Victor quips in response, but he doesn’t mean it. “Besides, don’t you tell me you wouldn’t relish a real chance at gold someday if I were to take a break." He smiles thinly, lips pursed. “All this time I’ve been keeping the podium warm for you, Christophe.”

Chris doesn’t take the bait. “You actually considered it,” he repeats in awe, mind reeling at the notion.

Victor sighs, releasing his hand from Chris’s in frustration and moves, once more, to leave the bed.

“Coach Victor,” Chris purrs, as though tasting the sound of it, watching the Russian stand, allowing himself to drink in the sheer beauty of his naked form one more time. “I dare say you might be rather good at it. You’ve certainly taught me a thing or two over the years.”

Victor responds by throwing a pillow at him, forcefully. “I’m going to take a shower,” he sighs. “I’ve had quite enough of Christophe Giacometti for one season.”

The laughter follows him into the bathroom. He doesn’t bother closing the door. He switches the shower on but doesn't slip into the cubicle just yet. As steam envelops him, he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror.

He looks tired.

He feels old.

Always do what they least expect, he thinks to himself.

Like fall in love with a man you met once, months ago.

You idiot.

In the mirror, now fuzzy and blurred with steam, he sees a blond figure approach him. Chris drapes two well-tanned arms around Victor’s waist and nips at his ear. “I mean it,” he says, and Victor again takes a breath as he feels stubble, sharp, scratching across his neck. “You would make a fine coach.”

“Oh, please.” Victor rolls his eyes and pushes Chris away, stepping into the shower. “You said it yourself. Yuuri Katsuki was three sheets to the wind that night. He probably doesn’t remember a thing that happened. He spent half the evening getting into an argument with a coat rack and the other half crying about something called katsudon.” He hands Chris a bottle of shower gel from inside the cubicle, very much an invitation, and not one Chris needs to consider for long. “Do you even know what katsudon is?”

“No,” Chris admits. “But I know that you are trying to convince yourself. And I know that you are trying to ignore a truth.” He uncaps the bottle. “I fear your heart now belongs to another,” he adds with an overly dramatic sigh, stepping into the shower. “Yet I’d be a fool to refuse you.” The fruity liquid pools in his hand before he massages it onto Victor’s shoulders, fingers lacing together at the back of Victor's neck, drawing himself close. “A beautiful fool, but one nonetheless.”

Victor scoffs at that, but he doesn't deny any of it, neither the part about Chris's beauty nor the part about his heart.

“This has been really fun,” Chris continues softly, looking down into Victor's eyes, “but I'll not come between a man and his chance to find true love.”

"Be quiet," Victor commands, pushing Chris against the cold tiles, kissing him deeply, ensuring utter compliance to his demand. Victor doesn't want to think right now, and he certainly isn't in the mood to talk. The water beats down on them both, hot and heavy. Victor's kisses become forceful, needy. He knows, deep down, that Chris calling an end to this is for kind and selfless reasons, but right now Victor feels as though he's losing something very tangible and real over a ridiculous flight of fancy. And all because Chris had noticed the way he had looked at Yuuri that evening. And all because Yuuri had charged head first, bottle in hand, into Victor's life. And all because something had exploded within him that night and lit a fire that burned still, so many months later, as Yuuri dragged him onto the dance floor.

And all because...

Yuuri appears in this mind again. The moment he'd clung to him, begging him to be his coach, all inhibitions thrown to the wind. The way he'd taken hold of Victor's hand later that evening, when Victor had carefully assisted him back to his hotel room. He'd held on just a little too long, just a little too tight, and Victor hadn't wanted to let go.

The steam smells of berries and goodbyes.

“One more time, for the road?” Chris purrs.