December 11th, 2016-December 27th 2016
Victor had just twelve days between the end of the Grand Prix Final on December 11th and the start of Russian National Championships on December 23rd. He had to put together two complete programs entirely from scratch in that short window and perfect them enough to compete. All of Hasetsu pulled together to make Victor’s programs happen. Despite the fact that Victor would be competing against Yuuri at Worlds and was thus technically a ‘rival,’ they were enthusiastic with their support. They viewed Victor as one of their own, too, and they weren’t going to let him go at it alone out of some sense of exclusionary loyalty to Japan’s top skater. Victor Nikiforov was Hasetsu’s adopted son and they had to take care of him when he needed support. It touched Victor to be loved as if he were one of their own.
Victor’s Short Program represented Storge, a third Greek concept of love. The music was a warm and bright feeling that embodied the familial love the term was defined by. The On Love: Storge arrangement was a soft piano piece with accompanying violins and cellos. Yuuri’s usual tailor stepped in to create the design that he’d scribbled in a notepad on the flight back from Barcelona. The top of his costume was a soft white tunic that faded to gray as it reached his waist. The sequins that started at the hem of the tunic and twisted up to his left shoulder sparkled when they caught the light and threw beautiful patterns across the walls. His black pants had shimmering silver accents running up the right leg similar to the ones on the Eros costume, but softer and less erotic. The accents continued the pattern from where the sequins ended at the edge of the tunic, creating one long swirl. All together it was an elegant blend of the Eros and Agape costumes, which was an intentional effort on his part to make their short programs complement each other at Worlds.
His Free Skate took longer to put together. He didn’t even have music until a local Hasetsu band stepped in to save the day. After an all night jam session, Victor and the up and coming rock band NE2KO cranked out a track that represented Victor’s time in the small Kyushu town. The modern soft rock guitar, drums, and vocals blended with classic shamisen and hotchiku to create a unique fusion of new and old. His costume was also inspired by the town. A loose fitting black silk blouse, locally printed with vibrant pink sakura blossom trees, was paired with simple black pants. The sakura trees had been in bloom when he'd first arrived, albeit covered in snow, and he’d been in love with them ever since. He hoped to see them bloom again when the skating season ended. He even found some fake sakura blossoms to weave into his hair during the performance. If Victor had his way, they’d return to Hasetsu every year, for the rest of their lives, to see the sakura blossoms bloom.
Unfortunately, Yuuri wouldn't get to see the pieces all come together between his own coaching, packing up his belongings, and filing paperwork for his Visa. The next chance Yuuri would have to see the entire piece come together in person with music, costume, and choreography wouldn’t be until the European Championships nearly a month away. He’d be there as a spectator, not a performer, but they still managed to get him a rinkside pass somehow.
Victor was fortunate enough to catch Yuuri’s Short Program at Japan’s Nationals before having to hop on a plane and fly immediately to Russia. His own Short Program was less than 24 hours later and would be happening almost simultaneously with Yuuri’s Free Skate. They’d texted constantly during they day they were both performing to encourage each other. Despite his guilt over having to miss the performance, Victor was certain it wouldn't be a repeat of rostelecom; Minako had stepped in to be with yuuri rinkside throughout the day, ensuring good mental health.
Yuuri ended up winning gold. It wasn’t his first time winning gold there, but it was definitely by the largest margin he’d ever done before. Minami took silver behind him, and an up and coming skater from Nagano took bronze. The new generation of Japanese skaters was falling in line behind Yuuri, ready to take his place as a national champion. Yuuri wasn’t ready to step away from the ice yet, though. His faith in himself had been renewed with Victor’s support and he felt like his career could last many more years if he wanted it to.
As a result of his participation at Nationals he missed seeing both of Victor’s programs in person. As soon as he’d accepted his medal, he showered, changed, and grabbed his suitcase to head to the airport. Yuuri had watched Victor’s Short Program on his phone as he boarded the plane, but nothing could compare to seeing Victor perform in person. Soon, he thought to himself. He’d get to see both programs skated in person in less than a month. These stressful few weeks were almost over and soon they’d get to relax a little bit and enjoy each other’s performances in person.
Yuuri landed in Saint Petersburg on a chilly Tuesday evening, just a few short hours after Victor got the first silver medal he’d won in over six years. Yurio edged him out by 1.92 points, but the wide smile on Victor’s face as he stood by the baggage claim indicated he didn’t mind being second this time around. He seemed happy with where his life had taken him at that moment. Yuuri understood that feeling completely. He’d felt similarly at the GPF. He’d never imagined how satisfying coming in second could feel, but everything that had led to that moment made it the most satisfying thing he’d ever earned.
When Yuuri rushed into Victor’s arms, it felt like a weight was being lifted off his shoulders. The past two weeks of stress and anxiety washed away. He was coming home. Sure, he'd never actually lived in Saint Petersburg before, but wherever Victor was would be ‘home.’ And in that moment home was in Victor’s arms in the middle of the airport next to the luggage carousel.
“I missed you,” Victor said as he kissed the side of Yuuri’s head.
“I missed you too,” he said, tightening the embrace.
They stood there for several long minutes as the world continued to move around them. Travelers picked up their bags and moved on with their lives, but for them the only thing that existed in that moment was themselves. Eventually the crowd dispersed and the only bag left on the conveyor belt was Yuuri’s. It was time to go.