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In Celebration of an Off-Season

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It's five days after Victor wins World's over Yuuri by a hair's breadth.

"What are you doing?" Yuuri yawns, stumbling into the kitchen in his sweats and t-shirt. "And why does it smell like chocolate?"

"I'm making brownies!" Victor announces.

There are multiple things wrong with that sentence. One: Victor doesn't know how to bake. Yuuri had had to teach him how to turn his own oven on. Two: they are in St Petersburg and, as far as Yuuri knows, the brownie mix that is on the counter isn't sold outside the States. Three: the city is dark outside the kitchen windows, and, in April, Victor can't excuse it by the winter twilight.

For the sake of his own sanity, Yuuri decides to address only the third point.

"It's three in the morning, Victor."

Under the pretense of cuddling into Victor's side, he surreptitiously checks that the temperature on the oven isn't set to something that will burn the apartment complex down.

"Oh, no! I woke you up, didn't I?" Victor wraps his arms tight around Yuuri. "It was supposed to be a surprise."

Yuuri yawns again and settles his head into Victor's chest. His perpetual warmth combined with the heat from the oven almost makes up for Yuuri being under-dressed for the cold morning, bare arms already prickling into goose bumps.

"I am surprised," Yuuri says, both because it's true and because if there's one thing Victor's more sensitive about than his hairline and his age, it's his ability to surprise.

Yuuri is not a big fan of surprises, but he's learning to adapt.

"Phichit sent me the mix. He said it was your favorite," Victor tells him. Which raises more questions than it answers. Phichit is, at least as of their video chat last week, still in Thailand. He'd shown off his newly framed 'The King and the Skater' poster on the wall of his Bangkok apartment.

"You do realize brownies aren't on either of our diets?" Yuuri reminds him.

Within a few weeks of arriving in St Petersburg, Yakov had come up to Yuuri to enlist his help in enforcing Victor's diet.

Yuuri had glanced across the crowd of Junior skaters in the rink at where Victor was practicing the new choreography of his short program, figure as lean as ever.

"He ate extra-large bowls of katsudon every night for months and didn't gain half a kilo," Yuuri had told Yakov, with more than a little resentment.

"It's the principle of the thing." Yakov had thrown up his arms. "I can't have my top skaters eat like that. It sets a bad example for everyone else. There's fifteen more minutes of rink time for you if you can get him to do it."

"What do you want me to do?" Yuuri had asked, still confused, but the rink time was tempting.

"Make him eat whatever you eat. Just--" Yakov had gestured vaguely at Yuuri. "More of it."

Back in Victor's apartment, the oven timer beeps. No, in their apartment, the oven timer beeps. Yuuri's still having a hard time thinking of it as his, too. Especially since Victor won't let him split the rent and rarely lets him pay for groceries.

"It's the off-season, Yuuri!" Victor grins at him. "You can eat what you want!"

 

 

"Wow, they're just as good as I remember!" Yuuri lies enthusiastically. Because Victor's looking at him like he's a puppy dog asking if he's a good boy, and there's no such thing as an actual bad brownie, anyways. Even if he suspects that Victor had forgotten to convert the milk from cups to milliliters. Or that he had attempted to convert the number of eggs to metric.

He takes another bite of the generously-sized brownie Victor had served him and hums appreciatively. Victor watches him with a smile.

"See? You no longer have to keep to your 2600 calorie diet. We can have Mila make you her stroganoff now!"

Yuuri blames the early morning hour and the fact that he's eating sugar and chocolate for the first time in almost a year, for blurting out, "But I never ate 2600 calories."

"Of course you did. That was the plan I bribed Yakov's team nutritionist to make you last year."

"Oh, right," Yuuri says. And stuffs another piece of brownie in his mouth to make himself stop talking.

"She said that was how much you needed to keep your ideal weight. Was she wrong?" Victor asks. "I guess I didn't think about telling her what amazing stamina you have. You do more intense practices than most skaters. Did you have to eat more than that? I'll talk to her about increasing the calorie goal for next season--"

"No," Yuuri interrupts. He would much rather never have this conversation, but it's going to be a mess if Victor tries to give him larger portions next season. "Fewer calories, not more."

Victor frowns at him.

"Are you sure? Because she already gave you the low end of what you'd need to keep your ideal weight for skating. Even you can't gain weight that easily."

"Well, no, not that easily," Yuuri admits. "Celestino actually had me eat more calories than that. But I'm not at the weight she gave you."

"Yes, you are," Victor tells him, as if it's Yuuri who's confused here. "That was your weight before the Sochi GPF, remember? She agreed it was a good balance of muscle and aerodynamics for your height."

"Maybe it was, but it didn't help me fit into the Eros costume!"

A long moment of silence follows, during which Victor is giving him a strange look and Yuuri has plenty of time to regret his frustrated outburst.

Finally Victor asks, in a more cautious tone, "What are you talking about?"

"Never mind," Yuuri says quickly, and stands up. He grabs his plate and Victor's, before Victor can stop him, and rinses them off. He leaves them in the sink because four in the morning is too early to do dishes.

"Yuuri, wait--"

"Thanks for the brownies," Yuuri calls out behind him. "I'm going to go back to sleep now."

 

Before he can, though, Victor crawls into bed behind him and wraps an arm around his waist, as if to keep him there.

"Yuuri," he says, voice low next to his ear, in a tone that means he's not letting Yuuri get away with keeping things from him.

"Yes?"

"What were you saying about the Eros costume?"

Yuuri sighs. Victor is too dense to figure it out for himself and it's clear that, for some reason, he's not going to let this go.

"It didn't fit, all right?"

Victor says, "Of course it does. You've been wearing the hell out of it all season."

"It fits now," Yuuri corrects him. "It didn't then."

"I don't--"

"Victor, the costume was from your Junior World Championships, and not even your last one. You were a thin teenager and you probably weren't much taller than I am. I didn't think about that until I tried it on. And then, with what a big deal my weight already was, I was too embarrassed to tell you, all right?"

A long pause.

"But you wore it at Onsen on Ice," Victor says finally.

"I had two weeks before then," Yuuri says. "Yurio kept everyone more than occupied back then, remember? So no one was paying attention if I didn't eat much or I snuck out for extra runs."

"Yuuri, you--"

"Look, it's not a big deal," Yuuri interrupts. "So what if it's a little more work to keep my weight this low? You think I look good now, don't you?"

Victor swears in Russian and stalks away from the bed.

"Victor?" Yuuri throws the covers down and sits up. Victor isn't looking at him. "What's wrong?"

"What else are you not telling me?" Victor demands, whirling back around on him, eyes flashing in the twilight seeping past the curtains. "How else are you letting me hurt you?"

And then he just stalks out of the room without letting Yuuri answer.

"Victor," Yuuri calls after him as he scrambles out of bed. But he's only in time to hear the front door shut with more force than necessary.

Makkachin gives him a confused look.

 

 

The evening, Yuuri's sitting on the couch, Makkachin's head in his lap, and he's failing to pay attention to the Russian soap opera he's supposed to be trying to translate.

He hadn't been able to go back to sleep that morning. Victor had finally replied to one of his texts a few hours ago, saying that he needed some time. Yuuri hadn't known what that meant but decided, in the interest of respecting that, he would not text again.

It's past dinner time now and Yuuri still isn't hungry and still doesn't understand what happened when the front door opens.

Victor gives Yuuri and Makkachin a weary look. Yuuri can't place the expression in his light blue eyes. His hair is disarrayed, white strands falling haphazardly over his face as if he's picked up Yuuri's habit of running his hand through it.

"Victor," Yuuri breathes out in relief and clicks off the television. He says, "Where have you been? I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. I didn't think it would bother you."

Victor hangs up his coat. Yuuri wants to go over to him and bury himself against his broad shoulders, but Victor's closed off and he doesn't think that would be welcome right now.

"No, Yuuri, you have to tell me these things. Please." He walks over to the chair across from the couch and slumps down in it.

"Okay," Yuuri agrees, even though he's not sure what he's agreeing to do.

Victor sighs.

And then he says, "Look, I didn't know you when I first came to Japan, all right? I thought you were the person who'd stripped in front of everyone and knew how to pole dance like it was something you did every day. And, yes, you'd gained some weight and you were a little out of shape, but..."

"But what? What are you talking about?" Yuuri asks. He hopes Victor has a good point, because he's not loving the reminder of all those things.

"I said I wouldn't coach you unless you lost weight. I called you a piggy, Yuuri, Jesus." He looks at the floor, shaking his head. "I thought you knew how good you looked. I thought you needed motivation. But also I guess I was angry. You didn't contact me for months, and then you skated my program, but when I got there you weren't even happy to see me."

"But, Victor, I was, I was just shocked and shy--"

"I know that now," Victor says, still not making eye contact. "Just like I know there's no way you knew how amazing you looked. I think you still don't. And I didn't know you'd gained weight because you were miserable."

Victor rubs his eyes with his fingers. Yuuri is stunned by this conversation. For someone who doesn't talk about his feelings, unless it's over-the-top expressions of adoration, Victor's talking a lot. And, yes, Victor could have been nicer about it back then, but Yuuri had been overweight and had been getting out of shape. He couldn't have skated a season like that.

But now Victor's finally looking up at him, and saying, "I'm a shitty coach and a worse lover."

"Victor, don't say that," Yuuri says. Victor's light eyes are wide and intense and a little bit watery. Yuuri crosses over to where he's sitting and throws his arms awkwardly around his neck.

Victor tugs him down into his lap. The armchair shouldn't be big enough for that but somehow it is. And Yuuri is able to give him a proper hug. Victor tucks a strand of Yuuri's hair back, where it's starting to get a little long again.

"Please help me be better to you," Victor says quietly.

"But you are good to me."

Victor is so much better than just good. He woke up at three in the morning to try to make him brownies in secret. He makes sure Yuuri's skate bag is packed every morning because Yuuri is useless before at least ten o'clock. And he always meets Yuuri where he is, wherever that is.

"Then help me," Victor says again. "Tell me when something bothers you. Don't just--don't just be *hurt*. Promise me?"

Yuuri nods. He's had plenty of opportunities to notice this before, but he hadn't realized it until today. Letting himself suffer doesn't just hurt himself but hurts Victor, too. Maybe it wouldn't be so selfish to tell him when things aren't going right.

"And, Yuuri." Victor rubs his arm comfortingly. "It doesn't matter what I think, okay? But I still want you to know, I think you've looked good at every weight I've seen you."

Yuuri believes him. And that in itself shows how far Yuuri's come with Victor in the past few months.

But he can't help but laugh a little, thinking of the strange place this conversation has ended up. Victor raises an eyebrow, so Yuuri smiles at him and says, "I've had a lot of lectures about my weight in my life. None of them have gone this way, though."

"No?"

"I do usually relax my diet in the off-season, even if it's not as much as last year," Yuuri admits. "I always gain some weight."

Victor hums. He shifts Yuuri in his lap and then traces a finger down the flat plane of his stomach.

He says, "Your coach thinks you've worked hard this year. He thinks you deserve to relax."

"And what does my fiance think?" Yuuri asks.

Victor smirks mischievously and says, "Well, your fiance is looking forward to seeing your belly again."

Yuuri buries a laugh in Victor's shoulder. Because it's nice to be loved for who he is.

 

 

Yuuri gains weight quickly, even for him.

Victor seems determined to make up for everything Yuuri's been deprived of this past year. He takes him out to restaurants almost every night. He introduces him to the Russian food that hasn't been on his diet. Yuuri gets to try Mila's beef stroganoff. When they go out with their rink-mates, Yuuri orders the same calorie-rich food they do. Victor brings home desserts and gives him pastries for breakfast. He somehow procures more brownie mixes and Yuuri teaches him how to properly convert the American measurements.

They cut back their time on the ice. Yakov insists on it for his Seniors skaters, anyways, to let their muscles and joints recover from the season. Yuuri still runs in the evenings and joins Victor in the gym, but the workouts aren't as intense.

A night after two weeks of this, they're cuddled in bed, panting and covered in sweat in the afterglow of some truly enthusiastic sex. Victor's absently tracing patterns over Yuuri's stomach and Yuuri thinks about how he weighed himself that morning.

"This is the weight I was supposed to be at before," Yuuri tells Victor.

"Really?" Victor shifts onto his elbow and runs his eyes up and down Yuuri's naked body.

Yuuri fights the urge to cover himself up. He believes Victor that he likes Yuuri at any weight. The sheer amount of food he's been lavishing on him lately would prove that even if his words hadn't. But he still wonders for a moment if Victor is going to say this is too much, after all, for the skating season.

But what Victor says is: "I didn't notice how thin you were before. I should have."

"My clothes fit better now," Yuuri confesses.

"They do," Victor agrees. He splays a hand over Yuuri's stomach.

Yuuri isn't quite brave enough to confess out loud that he likes the feeling of Victor's hand over the slightest softness there. But he rests a hand on top of his.

"We'll get you costumes that fit your measurements right now," Victor tells him. Then looks thoughtful. "Maybe get some with a little give, so I can at least take you out to nice dinners once in a while."

 

 

They go to Italy for the next couple weeks. Yuuri has only traveled internationally for skating and there haven't been any in Italy and Victor has surprisingly never been to Italy either.

They find ice rinks so they don't have to completely give up skating. They don't bring their skates or reserve rink time. They go through the easy parts of their pairs routine and try not to run into anyone.

Mostly, though, Yuuri gets to sleep in, Victor gets to drag him to the most touristy sites and they both get to eat all the Italian food they want.

Near the end of their trip, Yuuri starts to get in the habit of getting dressed when Victor's not around to watch, because the effort it takes to button his pants is getting embarrassing.

But one night Victor complains about the red imprint across his stomach from a too-tight waistband. Yuuri insists it doesn't hurt, but, the next day, Victor drags him to a street with the most fashionable clothing stores in Rome.

And, naturally, the most expensive.

Yuuri refuses to let Victor buy him bigger clothes. He has to lose weight soon, anyways, and then his pants will stop pinching so much.

To which Victor argues that they'll fit next year in the off season. He then muses about getting everything in two sizes, which Yuuri tells him is a ludicrous waste of money and he can't exactly try on the smaller sizes to see if they fit. Victor says he still has Yuuri's measurements for his Yuuri on Ice costume last year. But then remembers that the measurements are from when Yuuri was thinner than he should have been.

He gets a dark look on his face and, strangely, drops the subject entirely.

 

 

One plus when they get back home -- and Yuuri's finally using that word for St Petersburg and Victor's (their) apartment -- is that he can spend his time at the rink in warm-up pants and can wear sweats or one of his many other pairs of warm-up pants at home. They do stretch a little too snugly over his ass. Victor appreciatively complains about this at least once a day. But at least the waistbands are elastic.

 

 

They're kissing on their couch, slow and languid. The sounds from a Russian movie they'd forgotten they were watching play in the background.

Yuuri doesn't remember doing it, but somehow they went from cuddled side by side to both of them sprawled along the length of the narrow couch. Victor's nestled along his side between him and the back of the couch. Yuuri clutches his shirt over his broad shoulders as they kiss.

Victor strokes down his side, then rucks up his shirt and smooths his hand over Yuuri's stomach. His figure has softened more since they've been back. His stomach has started to round up into a small but familiar curve.

"I'm getting chubby." He says it not self-consciously but mostly out of curiosity for what Victor will say about it. He's feeling unfamiliarly secure in his body lately.

"A little bit," Victor agrees. He squeezes the hint of a roll that's forming at his side. Yuuri bats at his hand playfully.

"It shows through my clothes," Yuuri says. He tends to gain more weight in his bottom half, but his stomach has started stretching out some of his shirts, too.

"Hmm. Sometimes," Victor agrees. "Will you wait a couple more weeks?"

"For what?"

"Before you go back on a diet for the season," he tells him. "You know I love your body in all its forms. I'd like to enjoy this form a little longer."

Yuuri stares in surprise and when he doesn't say anything right away, Victor continues.

"You don't have to. I'm being selfish. I know it's not easy for you to lose weight, and in another couple weeks you'll just put on more weight that you'll have to lose."

"You're not being a very good coach, wanting that." Yuuri's mouth twitches into a small smile. It's already past the time when Celestino would make him get back into shape. Victor opens his mouth to speak, but Yuuri continues. "But if you keep making me brownies and letting me eat blini, I won't hold it against you."

Victor kisses his neck and gives the flesh of his stomach a squeeze.

"I'll make it up to you," he promises. "I'll worship your little tummy."

Yuuri smiles a little, "You've been doing a lot of that, anyways."

"I'll do it more," he says. He presses his hand into his stomach and gives it a little rub in demonstration. "I don't think you mind it."

He does like it. And he likes it even better when he has more of a belly to rub. Victor seems to have picked up on that without Yuuri having to tell him. And, like the other things he's picked up from Yuuri, he clings on to it.

"I should learn how to make katsudon," Victor muses.

"No," Yuuri says quickly. Because he's struck by images of Victor multitasking between multiple burners on the stove. At best, it would just be the fire alarm that gets set off by that.

 

 

Yuuri's coming back from the dance studio in his ballet tights.

It's not a secret that he's put on off-season weight.

Minako lectures him every time she sees his chubbier cheeks on their video chats. Phichit demands reassurance that he's not binge-eating from stress. Yurio stills calls him 'pig', of course, though he'd never actually stopped doing that.

But Mila had said he was cute and complained when she learned he was planning to lose it before the season started. Yakov had actually told him it was good to finally see him relax a little. Even Madame Baranovskaya had made him want to hide with speculations on how they could find moves to show off his "new sensuality". Though she had then qualified it with it another lecture on ice skating as a poor career choice and how he must go and 'lose it all' now.

But even though the extra weight is obvious no matter what he wears, Yuuri's still self-conscious about just how well his thighs fill out his tights. He usually tries to sneak into the locker room and change before anyone can see him.

This time, though, Victor catches sight of him from the stands where he's packing up his skates. Yuuri can't help the flush he feels on his cheeks as Victor looks him up and down with widening eyes.

Victor leaves his bag half-open and grabs Yuuri by the arm, yanking him after him into the locker room. And then proceeds to push him against the wall and kiss him as he lifts Yuuri's legs around his waist and squeezes his thighs.

Yuuri isn't even positive that they're alone in the locker room. But despite the fact he usually puts up a token protest, he's learned to accept the thrill he gets of people seeing that he is the one who gets Victor's affections. To show them all that he is the one Victor wants.

And, as he holds tight around Victor's neck and kisses him back, he likes that anyone who sees him will see that Victor has been claimed. He is Yuuri's now.

Suddenly Yuuri hears swearing in Russian. He breaks and kiss and pushes Victor away as Yurio yells, "You guys are disgusting! Can't you read the sign? Or are you actually illiterate??"

He stomps out and Yuuri glances over at the sign plastered to the wall with the newly made locker room rules.

Yuuri glances at Victor, biting his lip. Victor looks like he's in physical pain.

"Are you okay?" he asks.

"No," Victor says. He looks Yuuri up and down again and whines. "I'm not okay at all. Why do you have to wear this where we're not allowed to have sex?"

"I was just going to get changed now," Yuuri says.

"No," Victor whines and grabs him by the waist to tug him close again. "Never take them off. Even if you're going to make me pregnant by the time the season's over."

"Ugh, you promised you would stop saying that," Yuuri groans. That phrase had slipped out one night after a few too many drinks and Victor has yet to let it go.

"Did I?" Victor asks. "You know I'm very forgetful."

His hands are on Yuuri's hips now and starting to slide dangerously downward. He rests his hands over Yuuri's ass, where Yuuri knows it more than fills out his too-tight warm-up pants.

Victor bends down to kiss the crook of Yuuri's neck. Yuuri turns his head so he can get a better angle.

"I'm going to miss your off-season curves," Victor tells him with a squeeze to his ass. "You need to lose weight, though. I can't let you ruin your beautiful hips by landing quads."

Yuuri's going to miss this figure a little bit, too, if he's honest. There's something comfortable in the extra weight. His weight had always bothered other people more than it bothered him. But landing quads puts seven times his weight on his joints. Which means that every kilo was like seven kilos when it came to skating.

"I know," Yuuri says. "I stepped on the scale this morning. I gained more than I meant to."

"How much did you mean to gain, then?" Victor asks distractedly. He's pretty obviously preoccupied with squeezing Yuuri's rounder-than-usual ass.

"I never mean to gain any. It just happens." Yuuri fakes a pout, which is entirely an expression he got from Victor.

Victor just raises an eyebrow at him and Yuuri breaks and can't help but laugh a little. His weight being something he can laugh about feels... nice. It's nice.

"You're going to be so chubby when you retire." Victor doesn't sound like he's complaining at all.

"I thought you wanted me to never retire," Yuuri reminds him.

"Hmm," Victor murmurs into his neck. His hands trail up to Yuuri's chubby sides. "That was when I thought it was the only way to keep you."

"You can keep me as long as you want." Yuuri presses his lips to his in a gentle kiss.

Victor squeezes his arms around him, pulling him in close.

"I can't wait to see what kind of curves you get," he says wistfully. "But you still have to win five gold medals first."