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Winter Song

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Only a few short hours after their return from the late-night “practice session” at the Ice Castle, it was time to leave for the airport. But unlike the trip to Moscow, Victor and Yuuri weren’t alone for this flight. They instead found themselves accompanied by Mari and Minako, who were quite possibly more excited about the Grand Prix Final than anyone Victor had ever met. They had a giant suitcase dedicated to flags, signs, and gifts for the competitors.

Though he was glad there would be extra support there for Yuuri—especially after what had happened at the Rostelecom Cup—Victor was also about to pull his hair out if he didn’t get some quality alone time with his boyfriend.

At least there would be separate hotel rooms. With locks.

Their flight was in the process of boarding, and the four of them stood together in the long line leading up to the gate. The women looked well-rested and were chatting in Japanese about something Victor couldn’t keep up with. Both of them spoke English well enough to make small talk with him but not nearly as well as Yuuri, who’d had the benefit of living abroad for a time in Detroit.

Victor suppressed a sigh. He was bored, but Yuuri wasn’t in any condition to help translate or make conversation himself. He was so tired from staying up late that he could barely keep his eyes open. More than once, Victor had to guide him forward when the line moved.

“Did he sleep at all last night?” Minako asked in English.

Sleep? Victor tried to remember.

But all that came to mind was the memory of Yuuri down on his knees on the Ice Castle floor, wearing his skates of all things while he used his tongue in a way Victor had only dreamed about. And better still was what happened afterward, when Yuuri had bent Victor over the barrier of the skating rink in what was easily the best bottoming experience of his life. He could still feel it this morning—the ghost of Yuuri’s cock, moving inside him. It was a pleasant sensation that ran up the inward curve of Victor’s lower back. He had never had a lover be so attentive and assertive at the same time. Normally it was one or the other instead of both combined.

And with his skates on, Yuuri had been at just the right angle to . . . well.

Victor offered Minako a bright, innocent smile. “I don’t recall.”

The line moved again, and Victor put his hand on the small of Yuuri’s back to guide him forward.

There was a married couple in line just ahead of them, and the man also had a hand placed on his wife’s lower back. His wedding ring glinted golden in the light. As Victor stared at it, he felt the beat of his own heart quite clearly. Together, he and Yuuri took another step forward and stopped again, like an old-fashioned wedding procession.

Victor caught Mari’s eye and saw her attention drop pointedly to the hand he still had on Yuuri’s back. It was an intimate way to touch a person, evidence that they were involved in a romantic relationship instead of a platonic one. He knew public displays of affection were mostly frowned upon in Japan, but they were about to board an airplane headed to Spain, where such things were more acceptable. Victor was very much looking forward to this vacation.

He lifted an eyebrow in Mari’s direction, not unfriendly but also not backing down. Something to say?

Mari lifted her eyebrows right back and looked away.

On the plane, Victor and Yuuri had a pair of seats by themselves with the women located a few rows ahead of them. Yuuri fell immediately to sleep on Victor’s shoulder. Their fingers were interlocked, their joined hands resting in plain sight where anyone could see the declaration of their relationship. Victor passed the time by napping off and on and watching the in-flight movie, but more often than not, he found his attention drawn to his boyfriend.

Yuuri was beyond adorable when he was sleepy. He was the type who had little ability to control his body once exhaustion took him past a certain point. He talked and moved without any comprehension of what he was doing. The spot of drool slowly expanding across Victor’s favorite sweater was evidence of how much he adored the person who was responsible for it.

His glasses were in danger of getting bent, so Victor very carefully removed them and set them aside where they’d be safe. Yuuri cuddled closer and rubbed his bare face against Victor’s shoulder before falling asleep again.

It was the kind of moment Victor wasn’t always certain what to do with.

Bittersweet, like an overly-generous gift he wasn’t convinced he deserved. It made him think about wasted years and happier ones that were hopefully to come. Yuuri often looked embarrassed with his inexperience, but what he didn’t seem to realize was that Victor was new to this as well. He’d never been in love before nor had he ever felt this alive. It was an exciting but frightening experience. Victor had never given anyone this much power to hurt him before.

More than once, his lips turned upward while he watched his boyfriend sleep. Yuuri was very handsome. Ink black lashes shining in the morning light. Full lips that were always a bit chapped from being bitten and worried between his teeth. A strong jawline, brows that could look so timid one moment and intimidating the next, and dark eyes that made Victor sit up and pay attention whenever they glanced his way.

Victor was going to marry this man.

When the stewardess came by, she beamed at their joined hands (clearly a supporter) and asked if they wanted a beverage.

“Babe,” Victor said to Yuuri with a gentle nudge. “What do you want to drink?”

Yuuri groaned but didn’t move.

“Water for him,” Victor said to the woman. “Champagne for me.”

“Celebrating anything in particular?” she asked.

Victor returned her smile. “Not yet—but soon.”

An hour later, he was on his second glass of champagne and scrolling through websites on his phone. Thankfully, the plane had Wi-Fi, and he’d been able to locate a list of shops near the Barcelona hotel they’d be staying at. There were a few jewelry stores nearby, and one of them was open later than the others. Maybe he would be able to sneak off tonight or early in the morning while Yuuri was asleep.

There was a brief moment of turbulence, the intensity of which made Yuuri jolt awake beside him. Hoping to keep his plans a secret, Victor closed the internet browser on his phone and squeezed his boyfriend’s hand to reassure him all was well. Once the plane leveled out, Yuuri settled back down with a yawn but didn’t close his eyes.

“Are you thirsty?” Victor pressed a kiss to the top of Yuuri’s head. “I got you some water.”

“Mmm thirsty,” Yuuri mumbled, barely coherent. “Is there any water?”

Victor grinned down at him, so in love that his heart ached from the pressure of it.

Soon Yuuri was sitting up straight in his seat, blinking at a steady pace while he took sips of water. The look on his face indicated he had no recollection of boarding the plane or taking off. “How long until we land?”

“Not for another few hours,” Victor said. “I’d go back to sleep if I were you. I want you to get plenty of rest before the competition.”

So I can sneak off and buy you something to wear during it.

When would be the best time to propose? Assuming he could have the ring in his pocket tomorrow, maybe he should do it the morning of the Short Program to give Yuuri enough time to work through the emotions of it before his performance that night. But then again, he wasn’t a morning person and might very well snooze through the proposal. Victor supposed the timing would depend on when he would be able to get his hands on a ring. All he knew was that he wanted Yuuri to have it before the start of the Grand Prix Final to eliminate any worry about their future.

“Excited?” Victor asked. “Just a few more days until you have a medal around your neck.”

And something else on your finger.

“I’m not sure if ‘excited’ is the right word.” Yuuri set his water down on the tray table and glanced at the window like he was tempted to make a leap from it.

Victor laughed softly and touched Yuuri’s face to encourage him to redirect his attention back where it belonged. Victor caressed his cheek for a moment before leaning in, unable to resist. They exchanged a warm kiss—the lazy, lingering kind one gave a lover first thing in the morning—and then parted to rest their heads back against the seats and stare at one another.

Yuuri’s eyes were shining, and while he didn’t look embarrassed, he did seem surprised. They’d probably kissed hundreds of times by now, but only two of them had been in front of other people. Both of those public kisses had taken place weeks ago in China. Here in an airplane, it wasn’t like they had a crowd staring at them, but they were definitely not alone.

Though he appeared somewhat unsure of himself, Yuuri closed his eyes and lifted his chin a bit higher, silently granting his permission to continue. Victor smiled, snuggled closer, and took him up on the offer.

They made out for a good ten minutes. Perhaps other people noticed, though maybe they didn’t. Victor had no idea and didn’t care. At that moment, his whole world was the feel of Yuuri’s hand resting on his chest and the sweet offering of his kisses. Victor’s own hand had slid between Yuuri’s thighs, a thumb rubbing at the seam of his jeans a mere inch away from his cock.

Victor could feel Yuuri’s inner thigh trembling and knew he would be stopped soon.

It was tempting to palm him through his jeans or maybe scrape his nails across the denim to get him nice and excited, but the airplane wasn’t the right place for the kind of seduction Victor had in mind. This was the same atmosphere that had held them back in Hasetsu. Yuuri would never fully relax with other people around, and that wasn’t the kind of sex Victor was interested in. No, the next time they made love, they were going to be alone in bed with a locked door between them and the rest of the world.

A disgruntled father chose that moment to walk down the middle aisle with a screaming toddler in his arms, and Victor and Yuuri immediately broke apart.

Adjusting his seatbelt, Victor blew out a breath of frustration. If only they were at the hotel now, where they could strip off their clothing and slide under the sheets. “I can’t wait to finally be alone with you.”

Yuuri licked his lips and blinked up at him from where he was again resting his head against Victor’s shoulder. “Whatever happens . . . do not let my sister and Minako-sensei get a room next door to us.”

Victor’s lips parted in horror. He hadn’t thought about that. What if the walls weren’t soundproof? “Good thinking, Yuuri.”

Mari and Minako ended up on an entirely separate floor at the Barcelona hotel, even though Victor had to sacrifice a king size bed to make it happen. Having to push two beds together to make a bigger one was a small price to pay for privacy.

When they got to their room, Victor encouraged his still bleary-eyed boyfriend to take another nap to help him get over the jetlag. The sleep Yuuri had gotten on the plane wasn’t very restful, and he needed to be in top shape for the competition.

Besides, Victor had a rather important errand to take care of by himself.

He hit the streets of Barcelona just after sunset and visited three shops before he found a ring he liked. Bright gold, of course. Platinum and white gold didn’t carry the message he was looking for nor did they catch the eye the same way. Thankfully they had a good inventory on hand for the holidays, and the right size was in stock. He’d found that information out from Yuuri’s mother earlier that morning after a nerve-racking conversation over tea.

“How long does engraving take?” Victor asked the store associate.

“About a day,” she said. “We could have it ready tomorrow afternoon.”

“Perfect,” Victor said and filled out the form with the phrase he wanted.

Tomorrow night, then. Perhaps he could propose at dinner or in the privacy of their hotel room, then make love to Yuuri until morning. That sounded like bliss and would surely afford Yuuri the security he needed to relax and do his best without any unnecessary worries burdening his mind.

With that mission taken care of, Victor could finally unwind.

Barcelona was beautiful at night—a glowing metropolis of twinkling lights, architectural wonders, and centuries of history. Though it was dark out, the streets were still filled with people doing their holiday shopping or heading off to share a meal with friends or family. It was a lively scene that brought a smile to Victor’s face, but though there was an endless supply of things to do, he found his path leading him back to the hotel. None of it held any appeal without a certain someone there to enjoy it with him.

He had never been very good at being on his own but had done exactly that out of necessity for far too many years. Now that he had someone to share his life with, he didn’t like wasting any time alone.

But once he reached the hotel room, Victor discovered Yuuri had fallen into a deep sleep. He looked exhausted, so much so that Victor didn’t have the heart to wake him even though he was feeling lonely. It was disappointing, but they still had days ahead of them in Barcelona. There would be plenty of time to make a connection.

He wasn’t tired enough to join Yuuri in bed yet, so he decided to change into his swim trunks and do a few laps in the rooftop pool to pass the time. He hid the ring receipt and grabbed a towel. But before he left, he pulled the blanket higher over Yuuri, made sure his glasses were nearby so he’d find them when he woke up, and dropped a kiss on his cheek.

When Victor stood up and stared down at the man he loved, he felt a bit shaky inside.

Not that he was having second thoughts about his decision to make such a huge commitment. That felt right. The reality of it, however, was a lot to process.

Their last conversation at the Ice Castle might have been the catalyst for the purchase of a ring, but Victor had long held the assumption that Yuuri was one day going to be his husband. Even before they’d shared their first kiss, he couldn’t have said why, but he had always just known they would end up together. He had underestimated the amount of time and patience it would take to get this far, and they still had work to do on building the level of trust between them. But why wait to make a commitment to Yuuri when Victor had already made it in his heart?

Still, once he put that ring on Yuuri’s hand, things were going to change. The pathway set before him was about to become clearer, and in some ways, that was a frightening thought. It was going to mean the end of some things but also bring about new beginnings.

There was a lot to think about—but after more than twenty years of putting his personal life behind his professional one, maybe it was time to get started.

“Don’t you miss it at all, Victor?” Christophe swam over to the side of the pool and rested one hand on the concrete while he wiped water from his face with the other. “If it’s strange for me to see you here as a coach instead of a competitor, it must be outright surreal for you.”

Victor made a noncommittal sound in his throat and didn’t look up from his phone. He was seated on a poolside chaise lounge with his legs stretched out in front of him. Goosebumps covered his body from the cold, but he ignored that, too—the same way he had Christophe’s questions.

He didn’t mind that his old friend had come to join him at the pool, even after Christophe hinted that he’d only come because he knew Victor would be here. They’d known each other for many years, and it was nice to have some company while Yuuri rested. But Victor also didn’t want to have this conversation, especially now when he was facing important decisions.

Still, Christophe wasn’t wrong. Being here with a pair of suits instead of a pair of skates was surreal, and the feeling would no doubt get worse the minute he stepped into that arena as Yuuri’s coach. Victor had dominated the Grand Prix Final for half a decade. His five-year winning streak was going to be broken in a matter of days, and there was nothing he could do to defend it.

Christophe pushed himself out of the water and once he was on his feet, walked over to where Victor was lounging, trailing droplets of water in his wake. “Don’t misunderstand me. I see Yuuri’s potential just as much as you do, but why does your career have to come second to his? He can find another coach, and you can compete together. Then everyone’s happy, including me.”

If there was anything Victor wanted to hear less than another request for his return to skating, it was a suggestion that Yuuri should find a new coach. No. That was not going to happen. Yuuri had asked Victor to take care of him until he retired, and that was exactly what he was prepared to do.

“Are you telling me this for your sake or for mine?” Victor asked.

“Both.” With a dramatic sigh, Christophe threw himself into the chair next to Victor’s. “It’s not the same without you on the ice. It’s you I want to compete against.”

“Well, you are in a way. Against my choreography and coaching.”

“Do you really love him more than you love skating?”

Victor laughed. “I don’t know what to tell you, Chris. I can’t imagine one without the other anymore.”

“Then figure out a way to have your career and Yuuri. But get back on the ice, Victor. Even Yuuri must want to see that. Don’t you remember the way he looked at you at last year’s banquet? Not to mention how he copied your routine.”

As Victor fell silent, he finally lowered his phone and gazed at the rippling water of the pool instead.

He did remember. When he’d first met Yuuri, he’d received little more than mixed signals. Victor would catch him staring but was given a cold shoulder when he tried to introduce himself. Only after Yuuri had drunk himself into a near stupor did he march over to Victor, give him an unexpected hug, and look up at him like he was his hero. And that wasn’t the last mixed signal he would ever get from Katsuki Yuuri. It had taken Victor a long time to understand exactly how much he had influenced Yuuri’s skating career.

But would Yuuri really want to see Victor back on the ice as a competitor? He was the one who had asked Victor to step down and be his coach instead, after all. Yuuri had also asked him to remain as his coach until he retired, and he had only just turned twenty-four. His retirement could be years from now.

“You’re not going to answer any of my questions, are you?” Christophe said, truly sulking now. “Then at the very least, tell me once and for all if your relationship with Yuuri is open or not. And don’t you dare crush all my hopes and dreams in a single night, Nikiforov.”

Victor couldn’t help but laugh again. “No, it’s not open.”

“Because I don’t mind being a third wheel.”

“No, Chris.”

“I have excellent references. I could even bring a friend.”

“We are not going to have a threesome with you.”

Christophe pinched the bridge of his nose. “Victor, you wound me.”

Victor’s laughter faded into a grin of amusement. He knew Christophe was only joking. He had a partner of his own, and this was just his way of prodding for more information about the nature of Victor’s relationship with Yuuri. Christophe wanted to know how serious they were and to see what Victor was willing to defend.

“You look happy and sad at the same time,” Christophe said after a stretch of companionable silence. “Admit it. You miss the ice.”

It was Victor’s turn to sigh. He couldn’t ignore every allegation aimed at him. “Not the ice that I left, no. I lost my inspiration, Chris, and you wouldn’t have wanted to compete against me like that.”

“Hmm. I suppose not. But does that mean you’ve found your inspiration again? Through a lover, perhaps?”

A wistful smile that bordered on a smirk formed on Victor’s lips. That was all the answer he needed to give.

Christophe muttered a curse under his breath, but he was smiling now, too—because while they had been each other’s rivals for the better part of a decade, they were also friends. Of course, he would be happy for Victor. “My jealousy burns with the fire of a thousand suns,” Christophe declared. “Come on, my love-struck friend. Let’s go downstairs and find your playboy. It’s freezing out here.”

Victor brightened, cheered by the suggestion, and immediately reached for his towel.

Finally, Yuuri was awake.

Well, not really. But Victor made damn sure he woke up with a little help from Christophe. They were both soaking wet, and all it took was a flying leap into bed with a certain sleeping beauty to get him conscious and moving again. Who needed a kiss from a fairytale prince when you had a half-naked, half-frozen Christophe Giacometti threatening to cuddle with you? He was a very effective alarm clock with emphasis on the word alarm.

Unfortunately, Yuuri was so horrified by this that not only did he fight his way out of two sets of arms, he then proceeded to lock himself in the bathroom.

“Yuuri,” Christophe said as he knocked at the door. “Would you describe your relationship with Victor as open? Because word has it you’re a source of profound inspiration.”

C-Chris,” Yuuri sputtered from the other side of the door.

Victor could practically hear how hard Yuuri was blushing. It was tempting to laugh, but Victor knew if this went on much longer, he could very well end up sleeping on the floor tonight or in another room entirely. (It wouldn’t be the first time.) He’d learned the hard way that Yuuri did not like being put in this kind of situation, and that meant the time had come for Christophe to return to his own room.

Besides, Victor was more than ready to enjoy some much-needed privacy with his soon-to-be-fiancé.

“All right, Chris,” Victor said as he guided his friend in the direction of the front door. “I think he’s awake now. Thank you for your help bringing him back into the land of the living.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Christophe muttered, dragging his feet every step of the way. “At least text me pictures of everything I miss.”

Once he was gone, Victor bolted the door and leaned his weight against it for a few seconds, simply savoring the novelty of being alone for once.

A chill ran up his bare legs and caused the rest of his body to jolt with a sudden shiver. He might be Russian, but perhaps it hadn’t been the smartest idea to go swimming in December. A bath would be just the thing to warm him up . . . and maybe he could even convince Yuuri to join him.

Victor knocked softly at the bathroom door and said, “You can come out now. He’s gone.”

It took a minute, but the door eventually cracked open a hair. Yuuri peeked through the tiny gap to determine the truth for himself. “Is the front door locked?”


Yuuri opened the bathroom door the rest of the way and glared up at Victor. His black hair was a mess, and his t-shirt was damp in places from where he’d been sandwiched between two very wet men. “That was mean.”

“Well, so was leaving me all by myself on our first night in Barcelona.”

“You were the one who told me to take a nap!”

“What, and you choose now to start listening to your coach’s advice? That’s convenient.” In less than a second, Victor’s stern look of disapproval shifted into the most hopeful of grins. “Hey . . . want to take a bath with me?”

The abrupt change in both mood and subject matter threw Yuuri off balance. He ran his fingers back through his tangled hair and said, “Are you being serious, or was that a joke? I can never tell with you.”

“Yuuri . . . this is the first time in weeks that we’ve been alone. And just look at me. I’m freezing and lonely and pathetic, and you’re being a terrible boyfriend right now.”

Yuuri rolled his eyes heavenward before sparing the bathtub a glance. “Will we even fit in there together?”

“To be honest, it’s more fun if we have to work at it.” Victor’s smile tightened as he leaned into Yuuri’s personal space. “Why are you still wearing clothes?”

While the tub filled up, Victor located the travel-size bottle of bubble bath he kept in his toiletry bag and added a generous amount of the pink liquid to the steaming water. The smell of roses permeated the room, and Victor drew in a deep breath, feeling warmer already.

The bathtub was a reasonable size. They wouldn’t be able to stretch out their legs, but it was deep enough for a good soak. Certainly no Japanese onsen, but with a little imagination, they’d fit just fine. What luck that Victor was a choreographer.

Standing beside him, Yuuri had already stripped out of his t-shirt and was eyeing the frothy water like he wasn’t certain what to make of it. Having grown up with an onsen at his disposal, it was likely he’d never taken a real bubble bath before. They didn’t even have a tub at the Katsuki residence. Well, he was in for a treat.

Victor placed a hand on Yuuri’s bare shoulder to help him balance while he took off his swim trunks, which brought about a yelp of surprise. “Victor,” Yuuri said, eyes wide. “You really are cold. Are you okay?” Without waiting for a response, he threw his arms around Victor’s neck and hugged him close, offering the heat of his own body to help ward off the chill.

To say Victor was surprised by this gesture was an understatement. It took him a second to respond and return the hug, but then he was gratefully soaking up the warmth along with the feel of hands rubbing his arms, shoulders, and back in an attempt to heat them up. Love swelled up inside of him, especially when he felt Yuuri start to shiver from the cold himself.

Victor nuzzled his face into the side of Yuuri’s neck before leaving a kiss there. “Okay, fine. I take back what I said about you being a terrible boyfriend.”

“Get in the bathtub, please.”

The temperature of the water was almost too hot to tolerate, but that didn’t stop Victor from stepping in and lowering himself down. He sat back and extended a hand in invitation. Yuuri’s teeth chattered while he kicked off his sweatpants and set his glasses on the counter by the sink. He then accepted Victor’s outstretched hand and followed him into the tub. They arranged themselves with Yuuri seated between Victor’s legs, his narrow back resting against a much broader chest.

And oh, it felt good. The higher the level of water and bubbles climbed up their bodies, the more their shivering was quelled. Victor held his boyfriend from behind, while Yuuri’s hands came to rest flat on Victor’s thighs where they surrounded him on either side. Soon, they were so at ease that they almost forgot to turn the water off before it got high enough to spill over the edge and onto the bathroom tile.

Once the faucet was shut off, the bathroom became quiet save for the droplets of water that dripped from Victor’s arms whenever he moved them. He had the scent of Yuuri’s hair in his nose, along with the fragrance of rose petals, and the combination of the two had Victor in the mood to explore. He ran his soapy hands down Yuuri’s chest, dragging his thumbs across the hard points of his nipples before circling around again. Yuuri let out a gasp that sounded more than a little frustrated, and Victor pressed a kiss to his cheek to soothe him.

“There’s something I want to talk to you about,” he said as he rolled Yuuri’s nipples between his fingers. “Something very important.”

Yuuri was having trouble sitting still, and the water lapped dangerously close to the edge of the tub whenever his shifting became too restless. “Now?”

“Mm-hmm.” Victor closed a hand around Yuuri’s throat and ever so carefully, guided his head back until it was resting against Victor’s shoulder. It would be easier to kiss that way.

As if reading Victor’s mind, Yuuri turned his head to offer up his mouth for the claiming. Victor gave him a thorough seeing to before saying anything more.

While they kissed, his hand was still covering the vulnerable expanse of Yuuri’s throat, his pulse quickening beneath the spread of fingers. It wasn’t meant as a threatening gesture. In letting himself be held in such a way, Yuuri was demonstrating the depth of his trust, and Victor was doing his part to earn it. He would never hurt Yuuri, nor would he let his hand linger there if he detected even a hint of discomfort or intimidation. Yuuri knew he was safe.

When their lips finally parted, it was because he had broken away with a sharp intake of air. Victor was still toying with Yuuri’s nipple, trying to see what he liked.

“Victor. . .”

“Shhh. I want you to listen to me. Can you do that?”

Yuuri made a sound in his throat that could have meant anything. The bathwater lapped at the edge of the tub, the ripples driven by the uneven panting of his stomach. Victor moved his hand down beneath the surface of the bubbles to spread over Yuuri’s abdomen, dipping low enough that his fingertips encountered a soft patch of curls.

“I want a nickname,” Victor said. “I’m very disappointed that I don’t have one already.”

Yuuri let out a breathy laugh of disbelief, even as he was tightening his ass and straining his hips forward to help Victor find something more interesting to touch. “That’s what you want to talk about?”

Victor could feel Yuuri’s words vibrate against the fingers still enclosing his throat. He could also feel Yuuri’s cock brushing the back of his other hand, but he chose to ignore that for now. “It is. I need to hear some suggestions. Sweetheart? Baby? I’m easier to please than you might think. What about Vitya?”

Trapped somewhere between amusement and impatience, Yuuri tried to smile but got distracted by the feel of fingers sliding through his pubic hair. “I can’t call you that. You’re my coach, and I’m already informal enough with you.”

“Do you mean to tell me you’ve spent the better part of the last month with your tongue in my mouth, yet you can’t bring yourself to use that tongue to call me something other than my first name?” Victor reached to cup Yuuri’s balls in his palm, fondling them gently while still neglecting his cock. The tip of it peeked outside of the water, flushed with arousal and resting upward against the slope of his stomach. “You weren’t this shy when you called me ‘baby’ last night. Come on. I want a nickname.”

Yuuri’s blush had traveled from his cheeks all the way down to the center of his chest. He blinked up at Victor and brought a hand to rest on his face. “Vicchan,” he whispered.

The softness of Yuuri’s voice warmed the endearment into something every bit as sweet as it was comforting. Victor knew it was the name Yuuri had once called his beloved pet, and his mother also called Victor that. It wasn’t unique, but it felt right somehow, like it had always belonged to him even before he knew it. The sound of it made Victor think of Hasetsu and family and most importantly . . . Yuuri.

Victor smiled, eyes shining with emotion as he said, “And what do you want to be called?” When his hand closed around Yuuri’s cock, they both shifted in the tub—Yuuri’s pelvis straining upward and Victor tightening his hold to keep him still. His hand began to move, further disturbing the bathwater. “Do you like it when I call you ‘baby’?”

A faint whimper rose up from Yuuri, the timbre of it indicating he liked that endearment very much.

“What else?” Victor said. “Do you want a special name, too? I expect an answer, my little katsudon.”

“I don’t care, just as long as you call me yours. Oh . . . that feels good.”

Yuuri’s eyelashes fluttered, and his body began to tense up, hips rocking in time with Victor’s strokes. Water sloshed over the edge of the tub and onto the ground. This went on for several minutes, with Victor trying to kiss him, and Yuuri doing a poor job of noticing. He was losing his grip on his control a little more every second.

Much sooner than expected, he whispered, “I’m close.”

The pace of Victor’s hand slowed.

Yuuri must be awfully pent up if he was this close to coming after just a few minutes. Victor had meant to make this last longer, perhaps continuing on the bed in the other room, but upon seeing how distressed Yuuri became at the prospect of slowing down, he changed his mind. Yuuri was in obvious need of this release, not seeming to care that this was only a hand-job instead of proper sex. His thighs were shaking between Victor’s, trying and failing to spread further apart.

Setting a faster tempo than before, he worked Yuuri’s cock close to the head where it was most sensitive. It wouldn’t be long now. “Say it,” Victor ordered.

“Vicchan. . .” Yuuri’s mouth stretched into a perfect O as he spilled, the ropes of semen falling onto his soapy stomach.

Enraptured by both sight and sound, Victor coaxed Yuuri through it with near-reverent dedication. As satisfying as it was to see the man he loved so completely undone by his touch, it was hearing the endearment that got Victor’s heart pounding. He’d wanted so badly to feel special to Yuuri.

Victor didn’t let go until the brush of a hand signaled him to stop. He released Yuuri’s cock and instead dragged fingers through the mix of semen and bubbles on his skin. “Feel better?”

Once his breathing slowed, Yuuri only hummed in response—eyes closed, limbs boneless, looking like he could fall asleep any second. Victor took his time washing Yuuri’s body, first cleaning off his stomach before sliding a hand low between his legs. There, Victor rubbed at Yuuri’s entrance to see if he was in the mood. Victor had been fully aroused for some time now—surely Yuuri could feel it against his back—and he wasn’t going to be satisfied with a hand-job. Not after the experience of having Yuuri writhe against him like that.

Together they soaked in the steaming water for a long while, kissing and teasing each other with their fingers, until Victor’s impatience got the best of him. “Will you let me take you on the bed?”

A lazy smile played at Yuuri’s lips before he nodded.

It took some effort to get Yuuri steady on his feet again. They rinsed the fragrant bubbles off their bodies and stepped out of the tub onto the tile floor, which was puddled with water that had spilled over the side. They helped each other dry off, neither of them doing a particularly thorough job, before they dropped the towel onto the ground to soak up the mess. Yuuri looked happy but barely awake when Victor sent him off into the bedroom ahead of him.

Making a beeline for the bed, Yuuri dropped into it with his face buried in the pillow. Tiny droplets of water peppered his body, which was naked and uncovered. His skin was flushed pink from the heat of the bath, and after Victor retrieved what he was looking for in his luggage, he found himself staring as he approached the bed.

Yuuri’s ass was a thing of beauty. Pert and well-shaped, a bit of extra cushion to soften the appearance of the powerful muscles beneath. When Victor’s hands and knees hit the bed, he bent down to kiss the small of Yuuri’s back. There was a light sprinkling of dark hair there at the base of his spine, and Victor inhaled deeply while he nuzzled him there.

“Are you sure you’re not too tired for this?” he asked.

Yuuri turned his face to the side so that his cheek was resting on the pillow. “I want it, too.”

Thank goodness for that. Victor set aside the lubricant and condom he’d retrieved from his luggage and put his hands on Yuuri’s ass, kneading and spreading the cheeks apart so that he could get a good look. It was something he hadn’t managed thus far during their prior sexual encounters, and he was surprised Yuuri didn’t protest, either unaware of Victor’s gaze or comfortable with it.

He gave Yuuri’s ass, upper thighs, and back a good massage to help him unwind even more, paying particular attention to the spread of those cheeks. Victor’s cock pulsed as he stared down at the tight pink pucker between them, and he wondered how Yuuri would react if he licked him there. It was as good a time as any to try, especially after a bath.

Pushing Yuuri’s bottom further apart, Victor leaned in and let his tongue lather over the clean skin. He expected it when Yuuri drew in a sharp breath and tensed up. “Victor.”

Victor knew better than to push, but he also kept his hands where they were so Yuuri couldn’t wriggle away. “Did that not feel good?”

It had certainly felt like something because Yuuri couldn’t seem to find the words to answer the question. But he also wasn’t saying no or asking Victor to do something else. Slowly, allowing adequate time for a protest, Victor mouthed a series of kisses up the rise of Yuuri’s left cheek, then descended in between. There, he licked a deliberate trail along Yuuri’s perineum until he again found that sweet little pucker.

Victor took it slow, lapping with the warm flat of his tongue rather than tickling or probing with the tip. Now wasn’t the time to be adventurous. Not when Yuuri was on the brink of rolling over and pushing Victor away.

Yuuri trembled beneath him, still mentally fighting the sensation, though not shying away from it. It seemed he was willing to try out a new experience, and that was all Victor could ask for. He couldn’t force Yuuri to be comfortable with the idea of rimming.

But to Victor surprise, the longer it went on, the more Yuuri got into it. He never did ask Victor to stop and instead closed his eyes and actually seemed to enjoy the feel of a tongue on his sensitive skin. Soon he was nice and wet—almost ready. Victor reached for the lubricant, poured some directly onto Yuuri’s entrance, and then worked it deep with his fingers.

Victor’s eyes widened when he realized how easy it was. Before now, it had always taken a considerable amount of patience to get Yuuri to a place where penetration wouldn’t hurt him, but tonight Victor’s fingers slipped in with ease. Most importantly, Yuuri’s peaceful smile told him how welcome they were.

It wasn’t long before Victor deemed his lover ready and withdrew his fingers to instead reach for the condom. After rolling it on and moving into position, Victor pressed the tip of his cock between those gorgeous cheeks. He gazed down at where their bodies were joining together and found his lips stretching apart in amazement as he sank inside, needing only a single stroke to fill him up. Yuuri let out a happy sigh and snuggled down into his pillow.

Victor had to pause to collect himself. It had never been like this before. While sex with Yuuri was always pleasurable, it was also something Victor hadn’t been able to fully enjoy because of how focused he was on Yuuri’s comfort level. But the peace now written all over his body assured Victor he could devote his energy to other matters.

The feeling of being inside Yuuri was unreal. He was deliciously tight, but the drag in and out was effortless. Victor slid his arms around Yuuri and lowered his body down until he was lying completely on top of him. They made love that way with the scent of roses rising up from their skin. Victor’s hips moved in shallow, circular thrusts, unwilling to sacrifice more than an inch of heat before plunging back inside.

Every time they did this, it got better. They were getting comfortable as lovers. Learning each other’s bodies and preferences. Finding their rhythm and style. And it seemed they’d finally attained a level of trust Victor had been seeking to establish from the beginning. Still, he knew there was more to be had. Other places they could take each other. Cravings to be satisfied.

To put a name to one of them . . . he wanted to fuck Yuuri into the mattress so hard, they would both feel it the next day.

Hunger burned within him. Victor mouthed at the back of Yuuri’s neck . . . and almost let him have it.

But no. It was incredibly rare that Yuuri was able to achieve this kind of mental state—so at peace that he might have already fallen asleep— and Victor didn’t want to take that away from him. Tonight, they could take it slow.

But tomorrow? Well. That remained to be seen.

Victor dragged his smile across Yuuri’s shoulder. It made him wonder if Yuuri had any idea how much they hadn’t tried yet—or that Victor was still holding back?

He didn’t attempt to last long. Yuuri was already satisfied, so Victor focused on his own pleasure. All the same, he made sure to be sweet, murmuring praise into Yuuri’s ear as he worked into him from behind—but soon his pace was quickening with the need to come.

As the slow build of pleasure began to strip away his ability to think, he tried to remember the nickname Yuuri had asked Victor to call him. It took a minute before he recalled that Yuuri had said the endearment didn’t matter, so long as Victor called him his.

“My Yuuri,” Victor whispered just before he came.

Every pulse of semen was a new relief, but as good as it felt, the orgasm only took the edge off a far deeper need that remained unsated.

Breathing hard, Victor opened his eyes and tried not to feel disappointed that he was wearing a condom instead of spilling into Yuuri directly. The condom was a gesture of respect, something Yuuri had established early on as something he wanted in place during sex. There was no other option than to honor the request . . . but that didn’t stop Victor from longing to have that barrier removed.

After he withdrew, he rubbed the pad of his thumb across Yuuri’s entrance and imagined what the wetness would look like as it trickled out. Would Yuuri ever be comfortable with that? Would he want to come inside of Victor in return? Because he was just as greedy to feel that wetness running down the inside of his own thighs. . .

Victor discarded the condom and returned his attention to his lover. He was up on his hands and knees again but dipped his head down to kiss the corner of Yuuri’s mouth. “I bought you a ring today,” Victor murmured in Russian. “I wish I had it here with me. I’d slide it on your finger right now.”

Yuuri smiled. Even though he didn’t understand a single syllable, he could tell the words meant something he would like. He rolled over onto his back and opened up his arms and thighs to Victor, who paused only long enough to switch off the lights before lowering himself down for a kiss.

To be continued