Victor and Yuri stood on the platform, waving goodbye to the skaters and their coaches. They had barely made the early morning train due to Hiroko Katsuki doting on the group and providing an indulgent breakfast.
Yuri was pretty sure that his mother would have adopted Minami if she could have. She couldn’t get over how big a fan of her son he was, and she made sure to extend an invitation for the young man to join the family for any future public viewings; an offer which caused the teen to go wide-eyed with excitement.
Victor draped himself over Yuri in the almost empty station as the train pulled out. “Any objections to me declaring today a half-day?” the Russian asked. “That was a bigger ordeal than I expected.”
Yuri laughed. “Just remember, it was your idea.”
Victor lowered his arms enough to wrap them around Yuri’s waist and rested his head on the younger man’s shoulder. “And it was a good one too.”
“Oh really?” Yuri teased. A part of him wanted to squirm in embarrassment, but the part that wanted to be held like that won and he leaned into the embrace.
“Mm-hmm. It proved to me that you can get out of your head and enjoy skating, even with an audience.”
That made Yuri squirm, and he managed to twist in Victor’s embrace, finally ending up facing him with the taller man’s arms draped casually over his shoulders.
“Hey, I was comfortable,” Victor protested.
Yuri blushed, but managed to ask his question. “What did you mean about me getting out of my head?”
Victor sighed and brushed the backs of his fingers over Yuri’s cheek. “Yuri, I see you skate every day. You’re stunning, beautiful on the ice. But I think back to regionals, and to last year’s Grand Prix Final, and to other competitions, and I see now that you’re like a completely different person when competing.”
“I’m just me,” Yuri replied softly.
Victor shook his head. “You love skating Yuri. Every movement you make in practice proves it. The ice is in your soul, but you lose that magic in competition, and I don’t know why. I wondered if it was the competitors, or if an audience caused it. But yesterday proved that wasn’t the case.”
Yuri cocked his head to the side. “How so?”
Victor smiled and leaned in until their foreheads were touching. Yuri wanted to point out that they were in public but enjoyed the touch too much to protest.
“You’ll be skating against those same boys in just over two weeks. If competitors made you nervous then a room full of those against you next should have done it, even if they’re not at your level. Instead you handled them with grace.
“But they were also your audience. It might not have been a practiced routine, but you were performing for them. You flawlessly executed elements that you missed last December. If you were nervous about landing jumps wouldn’t being expected to demonstrate and teach them have been an even bigger worry than merely performing them? I gave you a higher stakes audience than any arena, and you rose to the challenge.”
Yuri gaped, coming to the realization that Victor’s seemingly impulsive offer had been carefully thought out once it had become a reality.
“You’re so cute like that Yuri.” Victor smiled. “But now I’m even more confused. What makes you so nervous during competition?”
Yuri fidgeted. “I really don’t know.”
Victor frowned. “Can we work on figuring it out?”
Yuri lifted his gaze and met the Russian’s. “We?”
Victor smiled softly. “Yuri, whatever makes you nervous is holding you back. I want the world to see what I do every day. I want every person who watches you to hear the music you make. The only way that will happen is to develop methods to help you manage your nerves before a skate. I want to help you do that.”
“But it’s just a part of who I am,” Yuri replied weakly.
Victor brought his hand up and rubbed his thumb against Yuri’s cheek. “I know that Yuri. But knowing that doesn’t mean we give into it. We’ll try different things, we’ll keep trying until we discover a way to keep you focused before a skate. And if it fails we’ll try again.”
“And what if we never find anything?” Yuri whispered, squeezing his eyes shut in fear.
Victor pulled him close. “Then I’ll hug you before every competition for as long as I’m your coach. I’ll let you scent me as much as you need in order to feel calm.”
Yuri shook as he brought his arms up and wrapped them around the larger man. He pulled himself close and buried his face in the Russian’s chest. “Thank you Victor.”
Yuri was glad that Victor had declared a half-day. After the workshop he hadn’t noticed how exhausted he was, and was looking forward to just relaxing in one of the family’s private rooms. He started off on a cushion against the wall, reading an article in a figure skating magazine, before noticing a large plot of sunlight on the floor. He smiled, moved the pillow and laid down in the warmth. He placed the magazine on the floor and continued reading.
Soon the warmth and the exhaustion caught up to him. He pulled his glasses off, rubbed the bridge of his nose and laid his head on his folded arms, intending to relax for just a few minutes.
Yuri blinked in the dim light. The sun had set and the soothing heat had disappeared with it. However, despite the loss, he was warm and comfortable. Just at the periphery of his vision he could see the worn edge of a blanket. He smiled softly at the thoughtfulness.
It was only as he began to recover his senses that he noticed a gentle pressure on his back and the soft sound of steady breathing. He shifted just enough to turn and face the other way, and saw that Victor had fallen asleep beside him.
Yuri sighed, content. Something was just so perfect about the moment, and he quietly studied the sleeping man.
He quickly noticed that, despite wearing the comfortable clothes that he liked to lounge in, Victor was shivering slightly as the October chill seeped into the room.
Yuri knew that there was plenty of blanket for the both of them if he got closer. Still half-asleep, his cautious side wasn’t aware enough to argue against snuggling up to the man he’d slowly started to realize he was in love with. Not the abstract love from the press conference, but true romantic love.
Yuri managed to move Victor’s arm without waking him and scooted close enough to cover them both with the blanket. Victor shifted comfortably with the addition of the warmth and draped his arm over Yuri again.
Yuri stayed that way, watching Victor sleep, for several minutes until the Russian moved slightly and his platinum hair fell across his face, obscuring Yuri’s view.
Somehow the act of brushing the hair away from the older man’s face was enough to wake him. He smiled softly as stunning blue eyes focused on him.
“Ohayo,” Yuri replied teasingly.
“I guess I fell asleep,” Victor said as he looked around. “I thought you could use a blanket, but you looked so comfortable I thought I’d lay in the sun too.”
Yuri smiled. “I’m glad you got some rest. You worked hard yesterday.”
Victor pulled Yuri close and nuzzled his hair. Yuri closed his eyes and savored the gentle touch, burying his face against the older man’s chest.
“You smell good Yuri.”
Yuri looked up and met Victor’s eyes. “So do you.”
Victor blushed in the unguarded moment and Yuri thought it was about the most wonderful thing he’d ever seen.
Yuri leaned back into the embrace, slowly waking up and comfortable with Victor’s presence. It was only as his shy side made an appearance that he started to worry about how close they were.
“We should probably get up and prepare for dinner,” Yuri said, trying to shift away.
Victor’s arm tightened from where it was still draped over his middle. The Russian man had closed his eyes again and was still in a state of half-sleep. “Don’t go.”
Ocean blue eyes opened, and something in them made Yuri relax back into the embrace.
Victor smiled and closed his eyes again. “I just want to stay like this a few more minutes. Okay?”
Yuri blushed, but he could hardly refuse the request when he was the one who had initiated the cuddle… and when he wanted it too.
Victor shifted to wrap both his arms around the younger man, and even managed to tease one of his legs away and trapped it between his own. “Better,” the Russian declared once he had wrapped himself around Yuri sufficiently.
Yuri smiled and relaxed. He would enjoy these little moments for as long as he could.
I wish this would never end, he thought as he returned the embrace and wrapped his arms around the older man.
Several days had passed since the jump workshop, and the men had fallen back into the routine of training when Yuko pushed open the glass doors and strode up to the barrier near the end of one of the morning practice sessions.
“Victor, Yuri, can I talk to the two of you for a few minutes?” she called as the music for Yuri’s free skate came to an end.
Both men looked at her, not having heard her come in, then nodded at each other and skated toward the barrier.
“What’s up Yu-chan?” Yuri asked.
Yuko pursed her lips, obviously trying to decide how to start. She finally sighed. “Look, I wasn’t going to bring it up at first, but…”
Yuri looked to Victor, both wondering what was going on.
“What is it?” Yuri pressed.
Yuko looked at both of them and an embarrassed blush seemed to spread across her cheeks. “Look I know it was initially meant to be a one-time thing, but somehow word got out and…”
Yuri looked to Victor again, who shrugged.
“Are you two planning to hold any more figure skating workshops?” Yuko finally managed to say.
Yuri blinked. He didn’t know what he had expected, but that wasn’t it. He heard laughter and turned to see Victor doubled over.
Yuri turned back to Yuko to see she’d loosened up.
“I don’t think either of us has thought about it,” Yuri said. “We’ve been focused on the competitions.”
Yuko smiled. “Apparently word traveled fast after the workshop ended. I got a call about it the same afternoon everybody left. I told them I didn’t know if you were planning another, and took their information as a courtesy. But the next day two calls, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I thought word had spread far when I got a call from Tokyo yesterday, but I got one from Hokkaido this morning. In the past few days it’s been about the only reason people have called.
“People are asking when or if you’ll hold another intensive workshop, and they’re pretty excited about just the idea of it. I know you probably meant it to be a one-time thing, but there is a lot of interest.”
Victor and Yuri shared a glance.
“I guess we haven’t thought about it,” Yuri said.
Yuko nodded. “I thought as much.”
“The middle of the season isn’t a good time for it either,” Victor said softly.
“I told them that, they said they didn’t care when, to just let them know if it was going to happen.”
Yuri and Victor stared at each other for a moment before both burst into laughter.
“Look what you started!” Yuri accused.
“It was still worth it!” Victor retorted.
Yuko looked at them both as if they’d gone mad.
“Tell them we’re gauging the interest,” Victor said after a moment. “If there is enough we’ll consider it for the off season.”
“If you don’t mind Yu-chan,” Yuri said. “Can you make note if they have anything in particular they want? I think if we’re going to do this we should do it right. Including paying teachers like Victor and Minako-sensei.”
“Hey, you too Yuri,” Victor interrupted
Yuri rolled his eyes. “If we’re charging then we might be able to bring in more instructors too.”
“Oh!” Victor exclaimed, and Yuri could practically hear him plotting.
Yuri smiled. “Tell them we’re not committing to anything right now though.”
Yuko grinned. “It’ll do! I just wanted to know your thoughts as these calls keep coming in. If it was completely off the table I decided it was better to let them know now.”
“Thank you both,” she said with a smile as she bowed and made her way back to the front counter.
Yuri heard the soft scrape of blades behind him and turned. Victor wrapped his arms around the younger man and smiled as Yuri returned the embrace.
“I almost expected you to say ‘no,’ Yuri,” Victor said softly. “Since my master plan was revealed and all.”
Yuri smiled up at the Russian. “I enjoyed it, after I got over my initial fear. Watching them get better, even in a single day, felt great. I liked knowing that I was able to help.”
Victor grinned. “It’s a fantastic feeling, isn’t it?”
Victor leaned in and their foreheads touched. “Now you know how I feel every day with you.”