They left for the airport ahead of schedule, knowing they had a long day of travel ahead of them, but their timeliness turned out to be for nothing. Their flight was delayed because of a technical issue, and they were trapped in the airport terminal while they waited for an update on when they would be able to board the plane.
They passed the time by sitting together on the floor near an electrical outlet where their phones were charging. Huddled together beneath the warmth of a single coat, they watched a movie on Victor’s phone and held hands where no one could see.
They were in their own little world. People milled all around them, rushing to catch a flight or locate a loved one in the crowd. Old pop classics crackled on the speakers overhead. Yuuri barely noticed any of it. His vision stopped only a few inches from his face.
“What are you thinking about?” Victor’s fingers tightened around his. “You’re barely watching.”
Yuuri blinked and came back down to earth. Victor was right. He hadn’t been paying attention to the movie but had instead been staring off into space, distracted by his own thoughts.
Namely, by the memories of everything that had happened in his bedroom last night.
The creak of the mattress beneath him. The warm weight of another body. Victor whispering against the wet place he’d left on the corner of Yuuri’s mouth. The drag of denim on denim, getting him hard.
That was what Yuuri was thinking about.
His posture turned inward as he struggled with how to put that into words. Victor asked the most awkward questions sometimes.
“If you’re worried about getting to Moscow on time, relax,” Victor said. “We dedicated a full day to travel for a reason. Why don’t you try to get some rest?”
Victor’s lips skimming down his neck, mouthing at his pulse. The thrust of his hips. The pleasant burn in Yuuri’s thighs as they strained further apart. Victor’s breath starting to go ragged as he lost control.
Yuuri swallowed. It was getting really hot under Victor’s coat. He pushed it off his shoulders. “I, um . . . don’t think I can sleep.”
“How about a walk, then?” Victor gestured up ahead, where a row of brightly lit shops lined the terminal corridors. “It will get your mind off tomorrow’s performance.”
Victor panting. Shaking. Coming undone with pleasure. Moaning Yuuri’s name when it happened.
The first few shops carried mostly high-end clothing that Yuuri’s eyes passed over without really seeing. Victor, on the other hand, dove in headfirst. It wasn’t long before his arms were full of potential purchases. As if they hadn’t brought enough luggage already . . . .
“Want to come into the dressing room with me?” Victor asked, wearing a megawatt grin as he leaned much too far into Yuuri’s personal space.
Yuuri stared at him, disbelief painted over every inch of his expression. He was so aroused just from his earlier thoughts, it was a miracle the button of his jeans hadn’t popped off and taken someone’s eye out. The last thing he needed was a dressing room and Victor shimmying in and out of designer clothing in front of him.
Yuuri readjusted the sweatshirt he had tied around his waist and said, “I’m going to the convenience store next door.”
His tone was a bit gruffer than he intended, but Victor either didn’t notice or didn’t care. He’d spotted a display case of sunglasses, and Yuuri took advantage of the opportunity to make his escape.
For the next ten minutes, he paced the aisles of the convenience store and tried to think about anything other than having sex with Victor. It wasn’t like he could do anything about it in the middle of an airport, and they were about to get on a plane for hours. The last time he checked, joining the Mile High Club was still illegal. It was going to be a long flight.
But then they would be at the hotel in Moscow. Alone.
Yuuri blew out a breath, pushed his bangs out of his face, and focused on the little boxes lining the shelves in front of him. He felt very young standing there. Like a boy instead of a man.
Just do it. Everyone buys them. It’s normal.
Before he could talk himself out of it, he grabbed a travel-size box of condoms, a bottle of water he wasn’t thirsty for, and a magazine he had no intention of reading.
He set it all down in front of the store clerk and fixed her with a look of determination that said: Yeah, that’s right. I just did that. I’m an adult, and those are condoms. For SEX. You wanna make something of it? Actually . . . you know what? I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. Please don’t judge me. Please don’t call my mom or. . . .
The old woman yawned and rang up his purchase with no reaction to the contents whatsoever.
It was all Yuuri could do not to bury his face in his hands and burst into tears of relief.
It was about that time that Victor, armed with several shopping bags, snuck up behind Yuuri and proceeded to scare him half to death. When he saw what Yuuri was in the process of purchasing, Victor proclaimed for the world to hear, “Oh, good! I packed some, too, but you can never have enough.”
Then Victor proceeded to ask the clerk if they carried lubricant—having to resort to hand gestures because of the language barrier—and Yuuri wanted to DIE.
Later, after they had boarded the plane and were already in the air, Yuuri’s face was still burning. The humiliation had practically sunburned him.
Victor dozed in the seat beside him with his head nestled on Yuuri’s shoulder. They were sharing a blanket, and their joined hands rested beneath it on Victor’s thigh. Anyone who happened to glance their way would probably guess that they were together. It wasn’t blatant, but if you looked close enough, it was there for the viewing. To Yuuri’s surprise . . . no one seemed to care. In fact, nobody paid them any attention whatsoever.
He still wasn’t used to this—being in a confirmed relationship. Being in any relationship, actually. He didn’t always know how to act.
It wasn’t like he and Victor normally broadcasted their intimacy when they were together—not even when they were out in public on a date. They didn’t hold hands where people could see, nor did they kiss unless they were certain no one was looking. Even their hugs were reserved for the moments before or after Yuuri was on the ice for a competition, and a hug between a student and a coach wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
They weren’t hiding anything. It was more that they had both been raised with the cultural belief that such things were meant to be private, so it felt natural to do so.
The televised kiss in China was an exception to the rule, something born from the emotions of the moment more than any conscious decision to share their relationship with others. And that was still a matter of controversy on the internet. Victor’s arm had been in the way in the video. Some fans were convinced it was a kiss, while others said they had only embraced. Yuuri could only hope the question wasn’t going to come up in Moscow.
“Victor . . . are you awake?”
Victor’s head shifted on Yuuri’s shoulder as he snuggled a bit closer. “Mm-hmm.”
“Will we have to censor ourselves in Moscow?”
At first, a sleepy chuckle was Victor’s only response. There was the slightest hint of ire in it, like Yuuri had poked at an old wound. “It’s probably not a good idea for us to be too friendly in front of the cameras. But in Russia, no one’s going to ask you anything that personal in an interview. Private matters are meant to stay private.” Victor paused, then added, “Does that bother you?”
“I don’t know. I feel like it should, but I guess it’s no different than how we act in Hasetsu.” Yuuri sighed. “And probably the only question anyone’s going to be asking us is when you’re returning to the ice.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll make sure they understand who tomorrow’s performance is about.”
An uncomfortable tightness gripped Yuuri’s chest. It wasn’t the first time he’d subtly brought this subject up, hoping Victor would refute the idea outright and assure Yuuri he was his forever. But Victor had never done that. The answer was always vague and open-ended.
“I’m glad you’re here with me,” Yuuri said—because he didn’t have the courage to voice what he really wanted. This was close enough.
“Me, too,” Victor said. “Now let me sleep. With all the condoms you stuffed in your carryon, I need to rest up while I can.”
As Yuuri buried his face in his hand and began to contemplate the logistics of a jump out of the window, Victor’s whole body shook with barely suppressed laughter. It wasn’t the last time he tried to make Yuuri blush during the flight.
By the time they reached Moscow and made it to their hotel, the sun had set behind the cloudy western horizon. Victor spotted the reporters inside and slipped the bellman some cash to go take care of checking them into their room.
“Make sure they changed the reservation to one room instead of two,” Victor said. “And take the bags up as well, please.”
Meanwhile, Yuuri stood by and casually inspected his cuticles. Nothing to see here.
Once the bellman returned with the room keys, Yuuri and Victor decided to split up. Yuuri was to enter the hotel through a side door, while Victor volunteered to go in through the main entrance and deal with the press. Yuuri was fine with this plan. He didn’t really want to hear all the pleading for Victor’s return to skating anyway.
“But why are you wearing sunglasses?” Yuuri asked before they parted ways. “It’s dark outside . . . and you’re going inside.”
Victor paused and shrugged, as if the question made little sense to him. “I don’t know. Because I’m Victor Nikiforov?”
While he was sneaking up to their room, Yuuri encountered several fellow competitors and almost managed to evade them all—that is, until Yuri Plisetsky joined him in the elevator. Though Yuuri was genuinely pleased to see him, their brief conversation was awkward and strained. Yurio hadn’t even said goodbye to him or his family before he’d left Japan all those months ago, but at least he’d kept in touch with Yuko.
“Have a good night,” Yuuri said as Yurio was getting off the elevator on the eighth floor.
“Have fun crying in the bathroom after the competition,” Yurio called over his shoulder. “Pig.”
Despite the undeserved hostility after a long day of travel, Yuuri found himself in a good mood as the elevator ascended to the ninth floor. He felt unusually calm about tomorrow’s performance. Comfortable in his own skin in a way he hadn’t been in a long time, even more than in China. Like after 23 years of living, something inside of him had finally settled into place.
Maybe 24 would be his lucky number.
When he entered the hotel room, he found the bellman had already brought up their things. There were two full size beds, one of which was going to go to waste. Yuuri put their bags on the bed on the furthest side of the room, leaving the one in the middle clear for them to sleep in. Then he undressed, unpacked a few items, and went into the bathroom for a much-needed shower.
Fifteen minutes later, he emerged in a cloud of steam wearing nothing but a towel. The room was still empty. Victor hadn’t returned. As Yuuri sorted through his things in search of his phone charger and something to wear to bed, he came across the box of condoms he’d bought at the airport. He stared at them for a second before stuffing them back down into the bag.
Not tonight, he thought. He was too tired and knew Victor would be as well. But it was nice to know they were there, just in case.
The hour wasn’t all that late, but the time zone change had Yuuri bleary-eyed and yawning. It was time for bed, with or without Victor.
Yuuri couldn’t say why he chose to do what he did next. Perhaps it was because the room was so warm or maybe just a testament to the level of comfort he’d developed with Victor. To be honest, Yuuri didn’t give it much thought at all when he let the towel unravel from his hips and fall away. After giving his hair a good scrub to help it dry, he brought the towel to the bathroom, then climbed into bed naked. There, he fell promptly to sleep beneath the warmth of a feather duvet.
Some time later, he stirred when the mattress dipped down from the weight of another body.
The room was now dark—the lights that Yuuri had left on had been extinguished—and Victor’s arms slid around him from behind. His skin was slightly damp, and he smelled good, like clean soap and his ridiculously expensive shampoo. He dropped a kiss onto Yuuri’s bare shoulder before pressing his face there.
Yuuri fell back asleep within seconds.
It was a healing kind of slumber—deep and dreamless—and when he opened his eyes again, he saw sunlight dancing on the ceiling. He was on his back with Victor snuggled up beside him, an arm wrapped around Yuuri’s waist.
Victor looked younger when he was asleep, with his fingers curled in relaxation and his brow free from tension. The set of his mouth was soft and kissable. When Yuuri turned his body toward him and reached out to stroke his face, those vivid blue eyes cracked open and froze the breath in Yuuri’s lungs. Victor was beyond beautiful. Never more than now with the Russian sunlight in his hair.
Victor turned his face into Yuuri’s hand so that he could press a kiss to his palm. Afterward, he put his own hand over Yuuri’s, held it to his cheek, and smiled. Their fingers interlaced.
“Touch me,” Yuuri whispered.
The next hour was spent together in bed being completely lazy and indulgent. Their movements were unhurried. Like they hadn’t fully woken up yet and joined the world, nor did they care to. Victor’s nightclothes were soon tossed outside of the covers and forgotten.
Skin against skin for the very first time, Yuuri found himself trembling as Victor took him in hand.
It was different . . . being touched by someone other than himself. He thought he would be more sensitive to it and come too quickly, but he found the opposite to be true. He was almost too tense at first to feel anything except clinical detachment until he heard the quiet rumble of Victor’s voice in his ear.
“Stop thinking. Clear your mind, just like you do before a jump, and let it happen.”
Yuuri closed his eyes and pushed every thought away except for the feel of Victor’s hand. It wasn’t long before the heat began to pool inside him and tighten the muscles of his abdomen. His breathing became labored—first held for a few seconds too long before he released it all in a rush. “Victor . . . .”
How many times had he said that name in his mind when he was doing this to himself?
“Mmm,” Victor said, delighted to hear his name spoken in that pleading tone. “Maybe later tonight, I’ll take you into my mouth and see what else you have to say.”
Yuuri let out a gasp and absolutely lost it.
After Victor coaxed him through the pinnacle and descent of his climax, Yuuri could only lay there for a minute in a complete daze. His ears were ringing from the intensity. He stared at the ceiling without actually seeing it while Victor chuckled and dried off his hand. Happily annoyed by this, Yuuri sat up and made Victor lie on his back with his head on the pillow.
The mood shifted when Yuuri pushed Victor’s thighs apart and moved between them. Victor’s eyes widened a degree, as if he hadn’t expected such boldness, but then he softened. There wasn’t the slightest bit of tension in his body as his legs folded around Yuuri. They kissed—open-mouthed and wet—with Yuuri supporting his weight on his forearms and Victor’s fingers coming to explore the fine black hairs on the back of his neck.
And Yuuri was finally able to picture it in a way that he sometimes struggled to—what it would be like to penetrate Victor from this position.
It was easy to imagine how it might be the other way around, with Victor on top of him, but this was equally as arousing to Yuuri. The body beneath him was completely open and willing. Even though he was already spent and getting soft, Yuuri thrust his hips a few times just to let Victor feel everything he wanted.
What do you think you would prefer? What feels more natural to you?
Victor’s mouth spread into a breathless smile. Then his eyes drifted shut, and one of his arms fell back onto the pillow above his head.
Yuuri licked his fingers and dropped his hand to Victor’s cock.
Sometime later, when they were both wrung out and lying on their backs with pleasure humming low in their bellies, Victor reached out blindly to grasp his hand.
“Yuuri,” he said, quiet as a sigh. “We’re in my home country.”
Not fully understanding where Victor was going with that statement, Yuuri turned his head on the pillow to look at him.
Victor gazed back with a whisper of concern in his eyes. “You’re going to hear my name shouted from the audience tonight,” he explained. “Make them shut up, okay?”
“What else did you think I came here to do?” Yuuri said. “Visit the Kremlin?”
Victor’s mouth split into a grin seconds before he gave in to a laugh.
The attitude of Yuuri’s performance changed yet again that night, starting with the kiss he blew at his lover.
Russia stopped shouting Victor’s name at that precise moment.
As Yuuri skated, he felt Victor’s eyes and hands all over him. His scent was in his nose. His lips still tingled from their morning kisses. Yuuri felt playful, and his Eros routine was not so frantic and possessive. Instead, it took on a fluid self-assurance that needed no explanation. He belonged on that ice and delivered that message straight to Russia with every twist and turn.
Much of the performance was a blur of feeling with little attention given to the actual technicalities. He’d done these movements a thousand times or more. He could do them in his sleep. He didn’t even remember landing his jumps until he wrapped his arms around his body in the final pose and thought to himself, What just happened?
The audience was on their feet, screaming his name.
Yuuri’s name. Not Victor’s.
And in the middle of it, Victor met his eyes with a look that said, Well done.
Because that was exactly what he’d asked for.
But of course, things were going too smoothly. Yuuri was too happy and maybe Victor was as well, so the universe had to knock them down a rung.
As Yuuri headed back to the hotel that night, it felt like he’d left part of himself at the arena. He was so sullen and quiet during the ride that the driver had to get his attention when they arrived in front of the lobby.
I can’t just leave you here, Yuuri. This is everything we've been working towards for months.
Victor, you have to go back. You’ll regret it if you don’t. I can do this on my own.
Counting out foreign currency that made little sense to him, Yuuri paid the driver and got out of the car. He wavered on his feet for a moment when he spotted the reporters congregating near the doors of the hotel. No doubt they were hoping to catch Victor returning with his star pupil, but they were out of luck on both counts.
Yuuri found another entrance and took the stairs. He needed to run. Needed to feel the burn in his thighs so he could ignore the ache in his throat.
Victor, if you think I care more about a competition than you, you’ve got it wrong.
But it’s almost your birthday.
Yuuri emerged from the stairwell on the ninth floor completely out of breath but a good deal calmer, having burned off the excess energy that had been driving him mad in the car.
He was dripping with sweat as he slid the card key into the door. Inside, he dropped his belongings on the floor and went straight to the shower. He turned on the water as hot as it would go and put his hand under the stream to wait for it to heat up.
Poor Makkachin, Yuuri thought. He must be so scared without Victor.
Sending him back to Japan had been the right thing to do. Yuuri knew that and didn’t regret his decision even a little, nor was he angry that Victor had reluctantly given in and left him in Russia alone.
Yuuri had made it to the Grand Prix Finals on his own before. He knew he could do it again, just like he knew he wasn’t fighting alone anymore. The love of his family, friends, and Victor was still here, surrounding him even now . . . though that wasn’t going to make the bed feel any less empty tonight.
More than anything, he just wanted Makkachin to be okay.
The shower still hadn’t heated up. With an impatient sigh, Yuuri stripped off his clothing and stepped under the stream of tepid water, hoping it would numb his thoughts.
All it did was make him cold.
To be continued