The sun had yet to clear the horizon as Yuri walked into the Ice Castle. He turned and locked the door behind him. The lobby was dark, but he could see dim light filtering through the glass doors that lead to the ice. He walked to the locker room, flipped on the light, changed to his practice clothes and carried his skates to the rink.
Today was special. Victor was going to skate Stay Close to Me , and Yuri was going to be the entire audience.
Victor was skating lazily across the ice in his standard practice clothes. The rink was draped in long shadows as the only light was what was coming through the windows. Smaller shadows moved through the bands of blue from the leaves falling in the autumn weather.
Silence, then the crack of a blade meeting the ice. Another perfectly executed jump.
Yuri took a moment to just appreciate what was before him. Victor, his idol, the person he’d aimed for his entire career was there, real and more human that he’d ever been before.
Yuri moved around to rest on the barrier at mid-rink, content to watch Victor practice. He moved in and out of the shadows, real, illusion, real, illusion. He smiled as he spied Yuri, and stayed in the light as he skated over.
Yuri’s breath caught in his throat as Victor reached for him, the same way he would reach for a non-existent partner in his free skate. For the first time the expression on Victor’s face wasn’t sad and empty, it was fond, and the platinum-haired man smiled softly.
Victor transitioned from lazily skating whatever came to mind, to the remainder of the program. It excited Yuri, the new look on the Russian’s face, the trust that was there. Skating the routine would no longer be an act of copying the idol to regain his love of the sport, it had developed a new meaning. It would now be an homage to the months of work, to the bonds that had grown between them.
Yuri felt a sense of determination. He was going to do Victor’s program justice.
Victor held the finishing pose for a moment, then smiled and skated over. “Good morning Yuuuuri.”
Yuri smiled and leaned across the barrier. Victor acknowledged the silent request for something that had become somewhat of a ritual for them. Their foreheads came together softly and they took a moment to merely relish the presence of the other.
Yuri tried to reason it away, that it was merely a calming thing for the both of them, preparing them for the day ahead. But deep down he wished for it to hold a deeper significance.
“Ready for me to skate for you?” Victor murmured after a moment.
They separated, and for the briefest moment Yuri thought he saw a tinge of longing in Victor’s stunning blue eyes before the older man straightened and moved toward the center of the rink.
The sun crested the horizon as the music started, transforming the light in the rink from a solemn blue to a radiant golden.
Somehow it seemed a perfect metaphor for the feelings of excitement blooming in Yuri.
Yuri was taking a break from practicing Stay Close to Me while Victor was off getting coffee.
Instead he was practicing Eros again. He thought he’d found the soul of it before the regional championship, but had known by the lukewarm response of the audience, and even how it felt, that he hadn’t skated it properly.
Something was still off. It was there when he skated alone for Victor, but as soon as he had an entire audience it seemed wrong.
I tried to seduce them. What was so wrong about it?
“Eros again?” Victor asked as he came back into the rink bearing steaming mugs of coffee.
Yuri looked up and blushed. “Something’s still wrong with it.”
“Skate it for me,” Victor commanded as he set the hot beverages on the cart.
Victor leaned on the barrier as Yuri took his start position.
Seduce the audience. The audience is Victor. Seduce Victor.
Yuri started the program, and let the sound of his blades tell the story of seduction.
It was right this time. Why wasn’t it right in competition?
“It looks fine Yuri,” Victor called as the younger skater kicked the ice in frustration.
Yuri skated over and accepted a proffered cup of coffee. He took several cautious sips of the warming liquid before speaking.
“It was right before the competition, and it’s right now. But it felt wrong during.”
Victor leaned on the barrier and studied the Japanese man. “So what was different?”
Yuri shook his head. “I don’t know. I was trying to do just like in practice. I was focusing on seducing the audience.”
Victor smiled and chuckled.
“What is it?”
“Were you trying to seduce the whole audience, or just a single person?”
Yuri thought back to the skate. “The whole audience.”
“There’s your problem.”
“Think back to the Hot Springs on Ice competition. You said that it was right then, didn’t you?”
“But you weren’t trying to seduce anybody, were you.”
“No, not exactly.”
“What were you skating for then?”
“I… I was skating in order to keep you here.”
“The answer’s right in front of you Yuri.”
Yuri skated the couple feet to where his coach was standing and faced the platinum-haired man.
“Closer Yuri,” Victor demanded, his voice dropping in pitch.
Yuri moved so that he was pressed against the barrier and noticed Victor’s eyes darken.
Victor leaned into Yuri’s personal space. He laid one hand on the younger man’s arm and cupped his face with the other, drawing his thumb across his lower lip.
Yuri couldn’t quite suppress a shudder at the intimacy.
“It feels good, doesn’t it?” Victor purred. “Being seduced is a very powerful feeling.”
Yuri nodded, suddenly unable to form words.
“Now imagine that it was more than just us two here right now. Imagine me leaving you and doing this with the next person, then yet another a moment later.”
Yuri hissed slightly, starting to understand.
“It cheapens it, doesn’t it?” Victor prodded.
“Skate it for me again Yuri, but keep that image in your mind. Imagine that the rink is filled, and try to seduce your entire audience.”
Yuri frowned, but he moved back to the center of the rink. He started the program, and the same sense of wrong that had so pervaded his skate in Fukuoka had returned.
“Was that what was wrong with it?” Victor asked as Yuri once more met him at the barrier.
“Yeah. But… how did you know?”
Victor smiled and leaned in again, face co close that Yuri could smell the coffee on his breath. His voice dropped in pitch by several notes when he spoke again. “Seduction is a dance for two Yuri, and it’s made all the more alluring in the exclusivity. It’s two people caught on a point of shared gravity, orbiting around it and each other, drawing steadily together until the heat consumes them both then being flung to safety again. It’s repeated, each cycle drawing them closer and closer until they eventually crash together. Those outside the pull can only watch the spectacle unfold.”
Yuri swallowed, both hopeful and terrified that Victor would close the difference and kiss him as part of his demonstration. Every nerve was on edge. Gooseflesh rose on his arms as the Russian’s fingers danced along them, and a shiver ran up his spine when they locked eyes and he was unable to look away again.
“Think about it Yuri,” Victor purred. “What’s better, somebody who is focused solely on you, or a flirt who woos the first one to pay attention?”
Yuri’s breath hitched in his throat. “Focused,” he whispered.
Victor smiled, his thumbs driving Yuri mad making circles on his forearms. “That’s right.”
Yuri squeezed his eyes shut, overwhelmed. “But… but how am I supposed to seduce the audience if I focus on just one person?”
“Don’t,” Victor whispered in Yuri’s ear.
The closeness, Victor’s scent, the feel of his breath over sensitive skin was almost too much for Yuri and he had trouble keeping his balance.
“Wha… what do you mean ‘don’t?’”
“Just that,” Victor murmured, still too close for Yuri to feel centered. “Don’t seduce the audience. Seduce one person. That message is for one person and one person alone. Everybody else should feel like they are on the fringes watching.” Victor’s hot breath moved down from Yuri’s ear and he felt it along his neck, tantalizingly close and yet so far away.
Please just kiss me.
“But won’t they feel excluded,” Yuri asked, unable to control the shake in his voice,
“That’s the point. People want what they can’t have. It’s human nature.” One of Victor’s hands moved to the small of Yuri’s back.
Like I want you?
Victor inhaled near the crook of Yuri’s neck, too far to touch but close enough to make Yuri shiver. “When you seduce only a single person you make yourself unavailable. You are the temptation and are uninterested in anything else. No matter how much they try, they can never have you. The closest they can come is being invested in your story. Will your seduction succeed, or will you be cast off?”
Victor backed away, and Yuri shook slightly with the loss. He wanted to follow but was stopped by the barrier between them.
Victor smiled, still rubbing circles on Yuri’s forearms with his thumbs.
Yuri licked his lips, mouth suddenly dry.
“Do you understand now Yuri?”
Victor stared for a moment and sighed. “I wonder if you really do.”
“Victor?” Yuri rasped, throat feeling as though he hadn't had water in days.
“Nevermind,” the Russian said with a soft voice. “Go skate it for me.”
Yuri nodded. He could focus on skating. It was real, concrete. It gave him something to grab onto when the only thing he wanted was to pull Victor close again and never let him go.