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If You Never Saw the Stars

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When Yuuri is four and just beginning to learn that not everyone is the same as him, he tugs on his mother's apron, points upwards and asks, "Whasat color?"

She pauses for only a moment to follow his gaze before smiling back down at him, fond and gentle. "That's blue, Yuu-chan."

"Blue," he repeats, again and again. From that moment onward, he points out every shock of blue he finds, always excited for that splash of color among the grays that make up the rest of his world. His parents and the majority of their patrons indulge him, most of the time, though his sister loses her patience with him more often than not.

It's not until he's seven that he finally learns the reason he can't see green like Mari-nee or brown like Minako-sensei: his soulmate's eyes are blue.

And, until they touch, blue would remain the only color he'd ever see.

Yuuri can admit that he's a little disappointed when he learns this — there had to be so many colors, and he wanted to see all of them — but not overly so. He can wait.

Until he meets his soulmate, the one person in the world just right for him, he can wait.

.


.

When Viktor learns the name of the color he sees — brown — he's ecstatic. Everyone else is considerably less so.

Instead, they're sympathetic. Brown is such a common color, there's nothing unique about it, and someone as gifted as Viktor should have a soulmate that's worthy. Viktor, of course, thinks that all of that is nonsense.

Where they see a color that's flat and dull and lifeless, he sees something that's totally different. He sees the trunks of trees, larger than life. He sees the dirt under his feet, steady and dependable. He sees the sweetness of a bite of chocolate, the warmth and comfort of a cup of hot cocoa after a long day. Even Makkachin's fur is brown — something that may or may not have been one of his biggest reasons for wanting her — and she's the best thing in Viktor's life, besides skating.

There are many people whose eyes are brown, Viktor knows. It will certainly make finding his soulmate a challenge, but he's never been one to run from difficulties before and he certainly isn't about to start now. He'll listen to the assurances of his parents, of his coaches, of his teachers as they tell him that soulmates aren't everything; there are plenty of people in the world who never cross paths with their soulmate and still live out full, accomplished and happy lives. Viktor will listen to them and he will nod and smile and thank them for their concern.

And all the while he will hold his hope close to his chest, never wavering. He will find his soulmate one day and, on that day, he will look into their warm brown eyes while the rest of the world's colors blossom around them and he will know love.

Until then, he's content to wait.

.


.

Blue isn't a common eye color in Japan, though that doesn't mean its an impossibility. Still, it's extremely unlikely and, as such, it's something of a shock to find it staring back at him from a TV screen.

Yuuri can admit, if only to himself, that looking upon that gaze and seeing blue blue blue eyes is one of the things that first makes him fall a little in love with Viktor Nikiforov. Second, and most important, is his skating.

There is just so much emotion in every move he makes, the nuances of his hands, the simple but meaningful gestures, the look on his face...

Viktor Nikiforov is the most beautiful person Yuuri has ever seen in his entire life and, honestly, it has nothing to do with his looks. It has to do with his heart, laid bare upon the ice, singing out with every move, every jump, every spin. It calls to Yuuri like a siren's song and he finds himself unable to look away. Doesn't even want to.

It's not until afterwards, when the screen switches to the next skater taking to the ice, that Yuuri realizes that he was so entranced, he hadn't paid a lick of attention to the scores. Not that it matters, with Yuuko right next to him and babbling away in excitement. It takes him a few moments to gather his wits and then he's off, just as excited as his friend, if not more so.

Yuuri doesn't know it yet, but this is where his life takes a turn. This is where he decides that skating is no longer just a pastime for him, no longer just a hobby. He doesn't take to the ice just because of the color anymore, because it reminds him so strongly of the soulmate he'll one day meet, because it reminds him that there's always and forever hope when he's feeling his lowest.

Now, it's something even more special. Now, it's a goal, and one that he's determined to meet.

Because Viktor Nikiforov skates so, so beautifully, with every part of himself, and Yuuri wants to do the same. He wants to be able to bare his soul like that, to reel in a crowd and share his emotions and his heart in such a way. He wants to stand up on a podium, medal around his neck, and feel that all-encompassing sense of pride and accomplishment.

Yuuri wants to be able to skate on even ground with his idol. He wants to smile at him and have Viktor Nikiforov smile back, recognition in those blue blue blue eyes.

It's going to be hard work, the hardest thing he's ever done, but he'll do it.

He will.

.


.

It feels like the magic is slowly draining from the world and Viktor has no idea how to get it back.

He remembers, when he was younger, how everything had been so wonderful. So full of light and hope and dreams, even when the world was composed of nothing but blacks and whites and grays, with only the occasional shock of warm brown to upset the monotony.

He'd underestimated the number of people with brown eyes and now, being older and having seen so much and met so many, he's beginning to understand the sympathy of those around him. How is he ever supposed to find just one single person in a sea of them? In an ocean of them?

Viktor does his best not to give up, though, even as the years go by and nothing changes. He simply lets himself follow the pattern: choreograph, practice, win. Break records, smile at cameras, wave to crowds. Take pictures with fans and charm reporters. It's easy, really. He's been doing it almost his entire life, he could probably get through it in his sleep.

And honestly, most days, it feels like he is. Days blend into each other, none of them different. There is just skating, always skating, and everything else feels like it happens to someone else. He walks about in a daze, simply following a routine, until it gets to the point where living feels no different than performing.

A few years ago, that wouldn't have been true. A few years ago, his skating had been the most real, most honest thing about him, always charged with his emotions, always coming right from his heart. That isn't the case anymore, he knows. Somewhere along the way, Viktor has lost his passion. And no matter how hard he tries, no matter what he does, he can't find it again.

His skating has turned just as dull and lifeless as the grays that make up his world, even if he's the only one who seems to have realized it, and he doesn't know what to do.

Viktor feels like he's drowning, failing, falling, and there is nothing around to grab hold of. His career as a figure skater is drawing to a close, he knows, as his body and his emotions numb more with every passing day. No matter what kind of mask he holds in place for others, apathy is slowly infecting him and soon it will bleed him completely dry.

He just prays that he meets his someone with warm warm warm brown eyes before it's too late.

.


.

"Commemorative photo?"

The words bounced around in his skull, ceaselessly, as they had been for days now. Never before in all of his life has Yuuri ever felt this worthless.

Which was really saying something, all things considered. Yuuri had grown up used to panicking, used to being stuck in his own head, used to putting himself down over and over even as he continued to pick himself back up. Depression was nothing new to him, anxiety even more familiar, but he'd kept working hard despite that. He'd clawed his way out of every hole he dug himself into, had worked until his feet were bruised and blistered, had learned breathing exercises to try to help with his attacks, had slowly but surely built up his tolerance to performing before a crowd.

He'd buckled down on his dance lessons, taking every one available to him, had followed every piece of advice his various coaches had been able to bestow upon him. He'd worked himself down to the ideal weight and had kept himself there, regardless of how challenging it was to deny himself great food and his mother's cooking.

He'd gone to America, alone with no family or friends to support him, all to advance his skills even further. He'd done everything he could possibly think to do, he'd tried so hard. And he'd made it! He'd pulled through, he'd gotten a spot in the Grand Prix Final. Barely, true, but that was fine because he was still there. And Viktor Nikiforov was there, too, and they were finally, finally skating on the same ice and he could finally show what all these years of hard work had come to, could finally prove to himself that, even if he was never on par with his idol, at the very least he was good enough to earn recognition.

And then Yuuri had flubbed it entirely.

Maybe it wasn't completely his own fault. After all, he'd gotten the call only the day before the Finals began that Vicchan was gone — hit by a car, how could this have happened, I didn't get to say goodbye — and he was in no way emotionally or mentally stable because of it. His anxiety had reared its head immediately, like a shark scenting blood in the water, and had gripped him tightly and hadn't let go. He'd skated his programs in a daze, with black spots dotting his vision from his too-fast breathing. His skates had felt like they'd weighed a hundred pounds, at least, and the invisible vice around his chest had only gotten tighter.

Yuuri thinks that, if it had only been that, if he'd only failed and lost here, it would have hurt but he would've eventually overcome it. It wouldn't be the first time he'd let himself down when the stakes were high and it probably wouldn't be the last; it was something he was used to and it wasn't like he couldn't pull himself back up and try again.

But then he'd glanced up and he'd met those blue blue blue eyes, the ones he'd been dreaming of since he was a kid, the ones he'd set his goal to, the ones he'd been working towards for so very long—

And there hadn't been an ounce of recognition in them.

"Commemorative photo?"

Yuuri had worked so hard, so hard, to get to this point. To be able to stand beside his idol, to have earned it, and here he was, only a few feet away from Viktor Nikiforov, and the man had no idea who he was. Didn't recognize him as a fellow skater, not even the one that had just completely embarrassed himself on the ice only hours before. Viktor Nikiforov had thought that he was nothing more than just another fan.

"Commemorative photo?"

And maybe it wasn't fair of Yuuri to place so many expectations on a man he didn't even know. But his eyes were blue, they were the same color as his soulmate's, and looking into those endless pools — like the ice, like the sky, like the sea, like everything important — and seeing nothing, no spark, no warmth, no recognition...

"Commemorative photo?"

Somehow, that hurts Yuuri more than anything in his life ever has.

.


.

It's gotten to the point where Viktor is almost used to looking up and meeting a pair of warm brown eyes. Usually they're filled with elation, excitement — but not ever the kind that he's looking for. Still, he'll go through the motions, as he always does. He'll smile and wave and make nice, ask if they'd like a photo or an autograph, will listen as they babble at him. Just because he's not as into it as he once was is no reason to let his fans down. Making his fans happy is one of the only things he enjoys now-a-days, even if it isn't to the same extant it had been years ago.

And so when, after the Sochi GPF, he looks up and meets warm warm warm brown eyes, he only pauses for a moment before he pastes on his best smile.

"Commemorative photo?" He asks, cheerful as he can make himself. Usually, at this point, whoever has met his eyes will flush a dark gray, will smile back, will be giddy with the attention. They'll rush forward now that they've been acknowledged, will get their photo, will thank him profusely, and that will be that.

This time, however, is different.

Instead of being elated, the boy before him looks defeated. He looks absolutely gutted, like with just those two words, Viktor has ripped out his heart and stamped it into the ground, has torn his entire life down without a care, and Viktor has no idea how to handle that. He's never been faced with a situation like this before. He's seen tears from fans, of course, but usually it's because they're overwhelmingly happy.

Viktor's never seen despair like this before.

Before he can say something else, try to rectify the situation in some way, he has to do something, the boy turns and walks away, his steps slow and stilted, as if his feet weigh more than he can bare to lift.

Viktor remembers, when he was younger, how everyone had made comments about the color brown, how it was lifeless and dull and he's never agreed with them. He's always seen it as a warm color, as comfort and safety and everything good.

Those eyes, though. As they'd turned away, he'd seen them go dull. He'd seen them go flat, the warmth of them drained out, and he has no idea what just happened but he somehow gets the feeling that it's all his fault.

"Vitya," his coach's fingers snap in front of his face and he flinches, "it's time to go."

Viktor nods to Yakov distractedly, barely noticing little Yura sulking impressively a few feet away from them, hood up and shoulders hunched. Instead, he lets his head swivel about, looking around and hoping to catch a glimpse of the boy that had been before him. But apparently he's been lost in his daze longer than he thought because the boy is gone, taking his sad sad sad brown eyes with him.

He follows Yakov's lead, dealing with reporters easily and gifting them all with smiles, even as his thoughts remain solidly on what just transpired. He's able to go through the motions without issue, preparing for the banquet on autopilot. He's been through this so many times now that it truly takes no effort. Once down in the ballroom, he makes small talk, smiling and laughing in all of the right places, milling about and spending time with his sponsors and the spokesmen of the event, putting on yet another show just to make everyone happy.

It's not until a few hours into the event that Viktor looks up and there, across the room, are those sad sad sad brown eyes. Except, now, they're a little more unfocused and a lot more dazed than they had been before. It doesn't take him long to notice the flute of champagne in his hand or the row of empty glasses behind him and, shiver running up his spine as those eyes meet his, he gets the feeling this night is not going to be as monotonous as he'd been expecting.

And, well, he's not wrong.

Viktor still doesn't fully understand what happened earlier but what he does know is that, as the night goes on, those sad sad sad brown eyes begin to warm once more and, honestly, he couldn't be happier. The boy — "It's Katsuki Yuuri and you better not forget it again" — is the life of the party and no one is safe, not even little Yura sulking away in the corner.

He doesn't know what kind of history the two have between them, but there has to be something there — "Yuri Plisetsky, if you think you're better than me, let's have a dance battle right here, right now, you little shit" — and before he even knows what's happening, he's been dragged right along into it. Somehow, Christophe Giacometti procures a stripper pole, though Viktor supposes he shouldn't be too surprised about that, and the drunk albeit innocent dancing takes on a much more... adult nature.

Yakov is quick to hustle Yuri out of the room and up to bed at that point, despite the tiny boy's volatile threats and rage-filled cussing at being treated like a kid. Viktor himself feels as if he should probably follow but, for some reason, he just can't take his eyes off of the spectacle unfolding before him.

Seeing Chris next to naked is nothing out of the ordinary, after all of these years, and ignoring him is fairly simple. Yuuri, on the other hand, is something new in his world where everything has been the same for so long. Viktor can tell by the slightly darker pigmentation of gray on his cheeks that Yuuri is flushed, whether from the alcohol, the dancing or both, he has no clue. But as the night goes on and clothes are summarily discarded and recollected, the one thing Viktor focuses on the most are his eyes.

They'd been so sad, so dull, so lifeless. But now they're warm warm warm, brimming with it, and somehow, looking into those warm warm warm brown eyes, he can feel something within him begin to thaw. He feels like he's coming back to life, resurrecting, rising from a grave he hadn't even realized he'd let himself fall into.

"Be my coach, Viktor!"

And just how was he supposed to say no to eyes like that?

.


.

Hasetsu is the same as it always was and Yuuri isn't sure how he feels about that.

One one hand, he's finally home after so many years away and it's comforting to be surrounded by familiar things. On the other hand, though, Yuuri isn't the same anymore. Nothing is the same now, not really.

This distinction is only further pronounced when he walks through the front doors of Yu-topia, calling out to his family as he slips his shoes from his feet, and there is no chaos, no claws on wood, no big ball of fluff running at him full-tilt. There is no tongue lapping at his face in excited affection, no tail wagging away in elation.

There's no Vicchan and, not for the first time since he received the news, Yuuri feels incredibly lonely.

He forces himself forward, regardless, lets his mother dote on him and Minako-sensei scold him and it feels almost as if the last few years could only be a dream, but for the silence where the best friend he's ever known should be. He lets his mind wander, though, tries his best not to think about it until the moment he's kneeling before a shrine, incense lit and head bowed forward in remorse.

"Sorry, Vicchan," he whispers to the photo that has been placed front and center — and he remembers the day that photo had been taken because the sea and the sky had been so blue blue blue and the sun so very warm. "I didn't get to see you one last time."

If there is one thing Yuuri will always regret, it's that.

He takes the time to sit and talk with his best friend as he used to, years ago. It's different now, because there's no longer a warm, fluffy body for him to cuddle, no fur for him to press his face into when his emotions get the best of him, but he keeps at it all the same. Vicchan doesn't deserve any less, whether he's there or not.

It takes awhile. The past few years have been hard and the last few months harder still. He's somewhat ashamed to admit that he'd almost given up, given in. If it weren't for those brilliant flashes of blue lighting up every day of his life, he probably would have, though he likes to hope that he still would've been stronger than that. But it had been a lot of hard work, to not just quit, to not just lay down and stop.

But Yuuri has worked too hard, has pushed through too much, to let this be the end of it. Everyone has put so much faith in him, his parents, his sister, Minako-sensei, Yuuko and Takeshi, and so many others, and he wasn't about to repay that by just giving up.

He might not make it back to where he'd been, he might never get that close to his dream again, but he'd still work for it with every thing he had. Otherwise he'd never be able to look his soulmate in the eyes — eyes like the ice he loves so much — with his head held high. And that, more than anything, was unacceptable.

First, though, he had to start again. Work his way back up, like he'd done so many times before.

Which was how Yuuri finds himself at the Ice Castle, out of breath from the routine he'd just skated with every ounce of his heart, the last note of Stay Close to Me still permeating the air for a second before Yuuko absolutely loses her mind.

Yuuri can't help but laugh at his friend's antics, even while he flushes hot with embarrassment as her children and then husband reveal themselves, having seen the whole thing. He doesn't mind, though. This is a new beginning, starting over where he'd once been. Viktor Nikiforov had always been his inspiration, had always been his idol, and just because he hadn't been able to gain his recognition yet didn't mean the man meant any less now than he once had. If anything would be able to kick him back into gear and get him up and working hard once more, it would be skating one of Viktor's routines.

And as Yuuri's eyes land on the blue blue blue ice below his feet, the Nishigori's yelling fading into the background, he can't help but smile and hope that his soulmate would be proud of him, if only just a little.

.


.

The minute Viktor sees the video, he knows what he has to do.

His life has been so empty, the same thing day in and day out. Choreograph, practice, win. That's it, that's all there is. And he is just so tired of it, really, but he doesn't know what else he can do. Skating has been his entire life, up until now. What does he have if he doesn't have that?

What he has, apparently, is a promise to keep.

Yuuri did win that dance off fair and square — and drunk — after all, something little Yura still hasn't forgiven himself for.

And honestly, when was the last time he'd felt that alive? Had felt that happy? Even if he never skated competitively again, he feels like it might just be worth it, if he can feel like that all the time, instead of this numb, apathetic, fake thing he's turned into.

And so, it's without much of a second thought that Viktor gathers up his things and Makkachin and takes the next one-way flight to Japan that he can catch. He isn't quite sure what to expect when he gets there — and isn't that novel? When was the last time he had absolutely no idea what was about to happen? — but it certainly isn't for Yuuri to practically faint at the sight of him, his complexion darkening from almost white to a stormy gray in a matter of seconds.

This isn't the Yuuri he'd come to know at the banquet but it isn't quite the one he'd first met, either. It's some odd combination between the two. He's not defeated or desolate, thank goodness, but his eyes aren't as warm as they'd been by the end of that night, either. He's gained weight, something that had been obvious even from the video he'd watched, and when he calms down enough, Viktor can see that he has dark gray, bruise-like smudges under his eyes, clearly indicative of little sleep and a lot of stress.

All in all, he's got his work cut out for him if Yuuri's going to be fit and ready by the start of the season, but he's never been one to back down from a challenge.

It's a bit disconcerting, the way Yuuri acts around him. Like he can't believe that Viktor is there, that he's real, and isn't this what Yuuri had wanted? Isn't this what he'd asked for? He doesn't push it, though, because for all Yuuri's behavior is confusing, it's still endearing. This is honestly the most fun Viktor has had in years and he doesn't want it to stop, doesn't ever want to have to go back to his old life, where everything is just gray gray gray.

Here, he gets to see Yuuri every day, gets to see him fall down and get back up and try so very hard. He gets to see his face flush dark gray when he's complimented, gets to see his mouth set into a determined line when Viktor points out his mistakes and what he has to do to correct them. He gets to see him try and try and try, even when it seems he's close to bending under the weight of the expectations placed upon him.

Little Yura shows up, spitting mad and growling like a wet cat, and demands that Viktor come back to Russia with him, to choreograph his Senior Debut. Soon enough, Yurio and Yuuri are pitted against each other and Viktor himself has become the prize — and really, had Yura learned nothing from that dance off? — and while Yuuri looks like his entire world might just come crashing down if he loses, he doesn't back down. He pushes forward, throws his all into it and he wins and Viktor is so proud of him.

With every passing day, Yuuri's eyes become a little more full of life, of affection, they become so warm warm warm and Viktor is falling so very, very quickly.

.


.

Yuuri doesn't know how he feels when he walks out into the onsen only to find Viktor Nikiforov there — naked! — and declaring himself as Yuuri's new coach.

The first thing that registers is disbelief because there is absolutely no way this could be happening. The second is amazement, because Viktor Nikiforov is standing before him naked, what could possibly matter more than that right now? Then there's embarrassment because Viktor Nikiforov is naked and Yuuri's just standing there and staring and not saying a thing, oh god, ohgodohgodohgod

It takes awhile for him to calm down after that, by which time Viktor has already fallen asleep, his dog Makkachin cuddled close. It still doesn't feel real, no matter how many times he pinches himself and waits to wake up.

By the time the next morning rolls around and Viktor is still there, Yuuri has to come to terms with the fact that this is really, truly, actually happening. Viktor Nikiforov — and he can't possibly emphasize that enough, because Viktor Nikiforov — has somehow seen the video of him performing Stay Close to Me and, instead of being upset or offended or, most likely, not caring in the least, has decided that he liked it so much that he uprooted his entire life just to coach Yuuri personally.

And then he wonders why Yuuri can't believe this is real, because in what kind of world does stuff like that actually happen? If you had asked him a few days ago, he wouldn't have said this one.

Still, he's not about to turn Viktor down, even if he feels vastly undeserving, a feeling that only intensifies when Yuri Plisetsky shows up in all his rage-fueled glory.

But Viktor chose him, believes in him, and Yuuri has already let the man down once, even if the other doesn't know it. He doesn't want to do it again, not so soon. He wants to prove that he's worth it, to Viktor and to Yuri and to himself, and so he pushes as hard as he can, works himself until his feet are mottled with dark gray bruises, takes all the help that he can get. Eros isn't something he'd ever thought himself capable of performing but, damn it, he's not gonna quit when he's only barely just gotten started.

He doesn't want Viktor to leave. He wants to continue to wake up and see those blue blue blue eyes every single day, wants those eyes on him as he skates and trains and does his best. He knows he may not deserve it, knows he's hardly good enough, but he still wants Viktor to stay, even if it's incredibly selfish of him.

Somehow, Yuuri wins. Viktor looks completely unsurprised, albeit proud, and that just makes the whole thing so much better. Yurio is gone by the time he steps off the ice, and part of him wants to chase the boy down because they both had a lot riding on this competition and while he doesn't regret winning, he does regret that it meant Yurio had to lose. The younger boy is violent and vulgar and volatile but Yuuri's come to care for him regardless and he hates to think that the other is disappointed in himself.

He doesn't get the chance, though, as he's mobbed with congratulations. Viktor is by his side through it all, like he's been since he got there, his gloved hand resting easily against Yuuri's back. And Yuuri grins because he won, he won, and Viktor isn't leaving. Viktor's going to stay and coach him, will help him learn and improve and will be there as Yuuri competes and makes his way toward the Grand Prix Finals all over again.

Yuuri just hopes that he'll be able to keep this up, will be able to keep winning. He doesn't ever want to be the reason that smile dims. He wants those blue blue blue eyes to always be watching him, full of warmth.

.


.

The competitions come and go and Yuuri grows more and more with each one and Viktor has honestly never felt this proud before in his entire life.

He's also never felt love like this before, either, and it's starting to become a bit of a problem.

It's not that he regrets it, because he doesn't, couldn't. But, well... To himself, at the very least, Viktor can admit that he's a bit scared.

More than a bit, really. When he was a kid, he was so full of wonder when it came to soulmates, had jumped at every opportunity he could find to touch hands with others on the off chance that they could be who he was looking for. And he'd kept that enthusiasm up well into his teen years. Sure, brown eyes were extremely common but he was also becoming extremely famous and, as such, had the ability to meet more people than most.

But then he'd hit twenty and then twenty-five, and he must have met hundreds of people with brown eyes but not a one of them had been what he'd been looking for. And for all he liked to tell himself that he was never going to give up hope, he knew that, truthfully, he already had.

Why else had he stopped touching others without at least one layer of fabric between them? Because the build up of hope — maybe this time, maybe, maybe — only to be let down when the world remained the same gray gray gray was becoming a bit too much for him to bear.

Viktor had been even more careful with Yuuri, despite what others would say to the contrary. Yes, he touched Yuuri near constantly, slouched against him, took his hand, plowed right through social barriers to invade his space, but it was never with bare skin. He wanted to hope, with all of his heart, more than he ever had in his entire life, that maybe, maybe Yuuri was it. That Yuuri, with his determination and his smile and his easily flustered demeanor and his warm warm warm brown eyes, could be his soulmate, the one he'd been waiting for his entire life.

He didn't want that hope to die. He didn't want to touch Yuuri and have the world remain gray and lifeless around them. He didn't think his heart would survive it.

And so Viktor continued to keep that last remaining barrier between them even as all the others came down. They both continued to make mistakes, together and with each other, and they learned from them as best as they could.

Coaching was much more difficult than Viktor had ever thought it could be — or maybe that was just because Yuuri was the one he was coaching? — and he had a long way to go before he could claim to even be good at it. Nothing drove this point home more than the way Yuuri's face had crumpled in the parking garage, tears spilling over and face flushing gray with anger as he berated Viktor, because it was okay if nobody else believed in Yuuri so long as Viktor continued to, didn't he see that?

He did now, and he'd never forget it again. Of course he believed in Yuuri, believed in him with his whole heart. Maybe others couldn't see what he did, but to him, Yuuri was a miracle. Yuuri was everything beautiful in this world, everything warm, everything Viktor could ever hope to want in this life or the next, and he loved him so very much.

Was that enough, though? In the face of such a gray and empty world, in the knowledge that neither were perfect for each other down to their very souls, would that be enough?

As Viktor watches Yuuri skate his routine and end on a quad flip — Viktor's signature move, at the end of his performance! — he decides then and there that yes, it's enough. It was more than enough.

When had Viktor ever run away from a challenge before?

Throwing caution by the wayside, he begins his sprint around the rink to where Yuuri was heading, both of their eyes on each other and nobody else. It was beyond rude to ignore the crowd like this, practically unheard of, but Viktor no longer cared. He loved Yuuri, loved him so much that his whole body was warm with it, and it no longer mattered if it was enough to bring color to the world. Because Viktor hadn't felt this alive in years, Yuuri Katsuki had quite literally brought Viktor back to life, and in that moment nothing mattered beyond finally, finally getting his hands on him, no matter what came after.

He could see it on Yuuri's face the second they were airborne that he hadn't expected this, had likely only been expecting their customary hug. From this close, Viktor could see a multitude of emotions flash by in those warm warm warm brown eyes — surprise, fear, elation, uncertainty, love — before their lips slotted together and they hit the ice in a heap, Viktor just barely managing to remember to brace the back of Yuuri's head with his hand to avoid injury.

And, all around them, the world came alive.

.


.

"So."

Yuuri bit his lip as soon as the word exited his mouth, unsure of how to continue. It had been awhile since either of them had spoken, too preoccupied with staring at the world around them in wonder. It was more than a little overwhelming, honestly. When Yuuri had been a little kid, he'd daydreamed about what seeing the world in full color would be like, but imagination had nothing on the real thing. There were more colors than he thought he'd ever be able to learn but he didn't think he'd ever get tired of trying.

If the dazed look on Viktor's face was any indication, he felt very much the same.

They'd given everyone quite the shock with the stunt they'd pulled earlier — though if anyone began berating him for it, Yuuri was already prepared to point them in Viktor's direction instead, as it had been just as much a surprise to him, at the time — and, when they'd remained on the ice and hadn't moved, had only stared out around themselves in overwhelming awe, that shock had quickly transitioned into panic.

Yuuri vaguely remembers being questioned and examined as the rink-side paramedics had rushed over to them, throwing around words like concussion and head injury, only to become confused when they couldn't find signs of any kind of injury at all. Yuuri and Viktor had barely paid them any mind at all, even when they'd been gathered up and transported off the ice, the concerned murmuring of the crowd and their fellow coaches and competitors following them out.

It wasn't until one of the paramedics had tried to separate the two of them, that they'd finally jolted back to reality, if only a little. In reaction, they'd lunged for each other, grappling desperately, not wanting to lose any skin contact at all. Because what if they let go and the colors disappeared? It was unlikely, sure, had never happened before, yeah, but that didn't mean it couldn't. And that was definitely too big of a chance for them to take, because going back to a world where colors like this didn't exist would surely kill them both.

It had been around then that understanding had finally begun to dawn on everyone, Yuuri included. He'd been so wrapped up in the newness of everything that he hadn't stopped to realize just how it had happened.

The world was supposed to remain gray until you came into contact with your soulmate, the person that's eyes held the only color you could see. Yuuri had always been able to see Viktor's blue blue blue eyes and now they'd touched — kissed, they'd kissed — and they were both now surrounded by so much color, it was almost loud, like standing in a room full of screaming people. Which meant — which had to mean that they—

They were soulmates. Viktor Nikiforov, the man Yuuri had idolized and been in love with since he was a kid, the man that had come to Hasetsu on seemingly a whim and who had invaded every aspect of Yuuri's life, had given Yuuri hope and affection and friendship and faith, the man that had promised to believe in him even when no one else did, was his soulmate.

Yuuri didn't know how to wrap his head around that, not really. It was all too much, too fast, and he didn't know what was happening, didn't know what this would mean for them going forward, didn't know what this would change and, oh god, he was going to have a full-blown panic attack about this, wasn't he?

Except that he wasn't, because the hand that hadn't let go of his in all this time tightened, drawing his attention, and suddenly all of the focus in those blue blue blue eyes was entirely on him once more.

"Yuuri?" Viktor asked, voice quiet in a way it seldom ever was, and sitting in a hospital room with a book naming colors spread across both of their laps, Yuuri felt like he could breathe for the first time since they'd hit the ice what felt like days, but had likely only been hours, ago.

"It's a lot," he whispered back. He didn't know why they were speaking so softly but it somehow felt like the right way to go. The rest of the world was so very loud all of a sudden. Neither of them wanted to add to the noise.

Viktor hummed in agreement, tangling their fingers together and leaning down until his head was cushioned against Yuuri's own. They sat like that for awhile longer, both of them trying to focus on the book in front of them and failing spectacularly as they gazed at the room around them instead. The room itself was fairly empty and extremely bland when compared to everything they'd seen outside on the way here, but it was still almost overwhelming.

Even in a place so empty, there was so much color.

The nurses had been extremely accommodating when they'd arrived. It seemed that instances like this were fairly common which, now that Yuuri actually thought it over, wasn't all that big of a surprise. To spend your life in a haze of grays only for everything to suddenly be bursting with color would be overwhelming for anyone and shock was probably common. It explained these rooms, at least, devoid of machinery and art and anything else unnecessary. It was smart, a good way to let people go slowly and find their bearings instead of immersing them in the deep end and waiting for them to either sink or swim.

It was even better having Viktor by his side throughout all of it. Yuuri wasn't sure how well he'd have been able to handle it if he'd had to go through this alone. In fact, he's pretty sure he wouldn't have managed it in the least.

"I didn't know if it would be you," Viktor's voice came a few minutes later and Yuuri ripped his focus away the man's jacket — brown, the book had called it — to listen to what he was saying instead. "I'd hoped that it would be. I didn't know, though."

Yuuri offered no resistance as Viktor brought their clasped hands up and kissed his knuckles gently, distracted by the difference in their skin color and the plumpness of the man's lips — pink, that color was pink. Then the words caught up to him.

"You hoped it would be me?" Yuuri asked, disbelieving. "But, I'm... me."

"You are," Viktor agreed, lips quirking in fond amusement. "You're very you."

"Exactly! And you're... you're you!"

"Yuuri."

"Well, you are!" Yuuri grumbled, feeling his face heat in embarrassment. He was about to explain further, and likely make an even bigger fool of himself, when Viktor's free hand landed on his cheek. He jumped, not having expected it, and looked up only to find Viktor staring at him like he was the most fascinating thing on the planet. He squirmed, not knowing what to do with such an expression being aimed at him, but said nothing against it.

"You're beautiful," Viktor whispered to him, voice full of awe. "You always have been, but now, in color... you're gorgeous."

"Viktor..."

"You are," he insisted as his thumb swept across Yuuri's skin in a seemingly absent gesture. "From the very first time I laid eyes on you, you've occupied my thoughts. The boy with the sad brown eyes. And then I met you again, and I got to watch those same eyes fill with warmth. I got to watch you fall and get up and try so very hard to do your best. I got to fall in love with you, piece by piece. You are my soul, zvezda moya, you are my heart. You are the most beautiful person in the world to me."

Yuuri is fairly certain that his face is completely gray at this point — no, red, blushes are red — and that he probably looks like a deer in headlights, but what is he supposed to say to that? He can't argue it because Viktor looks one-hundred percent sincere and to claim otherwise would be more than disrespectful, it would be hurtful. And Yuuri knows from experience that he doesn't see himself the way that others do, he never has. Whenever he looks at himself, he always finds himself wanting, always sees his faults before anything else. As hard as it is to believe, and boy, is it hard to believe, there's a chance that everything Viktor is saying right now is nothing but the truth.

Viktor thinks that he's beautiful. Viktor loves him. And really, if he needs proof, all he has to do is look around himself at the colors he hadn't been able to see before they kissed.

Viktor was his soulmate.

No amount of disbelief on his part was going to change that, a fact his was extremely grateful for.

"You are, too," Yuuri mumbles, feeling like a bit of an idiot as he does. Of course Viktor knows that he's beautiful, he's probably been told that every day of his life. But he'd opened up his heart and shown Yuuri what was inside and it was only fair if he did the same. "I'm pretty sure I fell in love with you the minute I saw you skate on TV when I was a kid. I'd never seen someone skate like that before, with everything they were on display, and it was beautiful. I've always thought so. Your heart's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

Viktor interrupts him before he can continue to babble on, thankfully, and he does it with his mouth, which is even better. Yuuri still isn't sure if he's all that deserving of the gift he's been given and he doesn't think he ever will be but he's definitely not about to waste it.

If he doesn't think he's good enough to call Viktor his soulmate than he'll just have to work hard, like always, until he is. As long as Viktor is there, believing in him with those blue blue blue eyes, even when he doesn't believe in himself, Yuuri thinks they'll both be fine.

.


.

Viktor has heard the words 'gold', 'silver' and 'bronze' all of his life, and they've always equated to nothing more than first, second and third place in his head. Seeing the medals now, though, he finally understands how they mean so much more.

Even with the newness of the world around him, all of the colors calling out and begging for his attention, he finds that he can't look away from where Yuuri stands on the podium, silver medal nestled around his neck and grin wide and exuberant.

The world is no longer dull and gray, has come alive before him, and yet he still finds himself captivated by warm warm warm brown eyes and thinks that no other color on the planet could ever possibly be more beautiful.

Viktor looks into Yuuri's eyes, the color of comfort and safety and everything important, and knows love.