By now it was muscle memory. Or at least, that’s the only way any of this made sense. One moment Yuuri was crying in the apartment and the next he was crying on the ice. The journey inbetween was completely lost to him. He’d been so beside himself waking up with Viktor still absent he hadn’t remembered getting dressed or taking the bus to the rink. Or did he run? He honestly couldn’t remember.
What he did remember was Yakov yelling at him for even being at the rink. Yuuri had remembered the coach had told him to take the day off to work things out with Viktor and then immediately erupted into tears. Even though he had gotten onto the ice, he had done nothing but a few figures up and down the rink. The other skaters didn’t bother him - not even Yuri - and he pretended not to notice their looks of pity.
When the doors at the end of the rink started to open up and the zamboni appeared to prep for the next session Yuuri finally stepped off the ice having accomplished nothing. Skates off and discarded in front of him he pulled in his knees and stared blankly in front of him. No texts. No calls. Nothing. What if he returned to the apartment and found everything gone? What if Viktor had packed everything and left? Oh god, what if -
“Yuuri? Come on now, you know you can’t leave your hard guards on your skates like that. It’ll rust the blades.”
Yuuri blinked rapidly, squinting his eyes to make out Georgi kneeling in front of him removing the skate guards and wiping off the wet blades with a towel. “S-sorry…”
Georgi smiled up at him, kind and calm. “No need to be sorry, Yuuri. Ah, there we go.” He slipped the blue soaker over the final blade and neatly laid the boots next to Yuuri’s feet.
“Why are you here?” Yuuri asked as the retired skater rose and took a seat next to him on the bench.
That warm smile faded. “Because I had a feeling that Viktor hasn’t contacted you and that you were probably worried. He’s at my place. Still sleeping off last night, I imagine. He was....very emotional last night when he came over.”
Of course he was. Because Yuuri had gone and said something stupid and hurtful. Feeling his lower lip tremble he sniffed. “It’s my fault. I’m so sorry.”
Georgi chuckled, much to Yuuri’s annoyance and confusion. “Vitya said much the same thing last night in his drunken meltdown. Ah, soulmates…” He sighed longingly before continuing, “None of this is anyone’s fault, Yuuri. The two of you just have to learn to communicate a little better.”
Communication. Yuuri’s worst skill ever. Wiping at a small tear that had formed he sucked in a steadying breath, determined. “I want to fix this. How can I?”
“Talk with him. Be honest with each other. Tell him how you are feeling and don’t hold anything back,” he instructed. “It’s best to lay it all out on the table at once. I know that Viktor wants to fix things, too. And Yuuri? Know that you two aren’t alone, ok? We are here to help you. All you have to do is ask.”
“Ok,” Yuuri agreed. “Ok.” He repeated it, for good measure, trying to make himself believe it. “ Spasibo , Georgi.”
“Anything for true love,” he smiled.
With a new found determination Yuuri packed his skates and headed home, using the jog to help clear his mind completely of all of his doubts. Viktor was going to wake up, come home, and they were going to talk it all out. Things were going to get better. With every step he gained confidence. By the time he reached their door he had so much pent up energy he dropped the keys trying to fumble with them. Finally slipping the golden key into the door he unlocked it and opened the door. Making sure to lock it behind him he moved to slip off his shoes. His body came to an immediate halt. Viktor’s slippers were absent. He was home.
Suddenly all his anticipation and confidence vanished.
Oh god, he wasn’t ready. He was supposed to have at least a few hours to prepare his speech begging for forgiveness and then a few more hours after that to go through every possible scenario in which it could all go terribly wrong. With a shaking hand he pushed the door open and stepped in. Viktor’s eyes were immediately on him.
“Yuuri! Welcome home!” Viktor’s heart-shaped smile was large and his blue eyes were sparkling. Like nothing had ever happened. Except there were bags underneath his eyes and his usually neatly groomed hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in days.
Yuuri dropped his skating bag and immediately broke down, completely unable to take the faked response from his husband. “Vitya, I’m so sorry! I’m so so so so sorry!” The moment he felt arms around him he clung desperately, fists grabbing onto his husband’s shirt with a deadly grip.
“No Yuuri, I’m the one who is sorry. I never should have gotten angry at you like that,” Viktor apologized, burying his face against Yuuri’s hair on the top of his head. Now, his expression matched his appearance: exhausted. “I know you didn’t mean it. I overreacted.”
Yuuri didn’t have a response, too busy crying into Viktor’s chest and enjoying the feeling of being in his arms again. It was only one night, but it had felt like an eternity. He wished he could go back in time. Go back to Euro’s and keep Viktor from going on the ice. Convince him just to somehow call it quits and retire. But Yuuri couldn’t go back in time, and this was the hand Viktor was dealt. They both had to learn how to deal with it.
“I just wish,” Viktor’s voice trembled, “so badly that I could be out on the ice with you.”
“I wish that, too,” Yuuri sobbed, clinging tighter.
They stood like that, clinging to each other like a lifeline while they let all their tears fall from their eyes and the sorrow from their chests. The couple had been through so much in the last few months and never had really properly grieved. This was something they should have done a long time ago before it had festered like this.
Viktor lightly patted Yuuri’s shoulders when they both quieted down, though still before Yuuri was quite ready to let go. “Yuuri, I’m sorry, but my knee...I need to sit.”
“Ah, of course!” Yuuri quickly pulled the rest of the way back and helped Viktor hobble over to the couch where they sat. It was impossible to miss the Russian’s flinch of pain and Yuuri immediately accepted the offered hand and its grip. When the pain eased, so too did the tensed muscles in Viktor’s hand. “What can I do, Vitya? Please tell me.”
“Just… have more faith than I do that I’ll win,” Viktor smiled softly. “That I can beat this.”
Bringing Viktor’s hand up to his lips, Yuuri gave the knuckles a gentle kiss. “Of course you can beat this. You’re Viktor Nikiforov.”
“Nikiforov-Katsuki,” Viktor corrected with a small sniff.
Yuuri grinned. Anytime a reporter or television network forgot to properly hyphenate his name, Viktor always got so angry and defensive. “Right. Nikiforov-Katsuki. In that case, it’s impossible for you not to beat this.”
They fell into a comfortable silence then, Viktor’s thumb brushing across the soft skin of Yuuri’s hand. After last night and the morning’s stress, this quiet scene felt like a balm on his nerves. But...there was still more to discuss. Yuuri peeked at his husband’s face and said quietly but seriously, “Vitya...promise me you’ll talk to me. You’ll tell me if you’re hurting or if you need help. Please don’t shut me out.”
Viktor swallowed and squeezed his husband’s hand. “Ok… Ok. And you’ll promise to tell me if I’m being too much? Don’t let me hurt you.”
Yuuri leaned forward, brushing a strand of silver hair out of Viktor’s face. “I promise.”
Carefully taking Yuuri’s hand in his, Viktor placed a gentle kiss to his palm. “Did we get back together then?”
Yuuri scoffed with a smile. They had to be broken up to get back together, but Yuuri knew better than to let his anxiety blow the statement out of proportion in a moment like this. “Yeah, we’re back together.” With a gentle pat to Viktor’s good knee he stood. “I think I’m going to make lunch. I didn’t eat anything this morning. Are you hungry?”
“Very,” Viktor nodded. “I should probably do my exercises… I didn’t do them last night.”
With a hum of agreement Yuuri leaned down for a quick kiss. “You can do that while I cook then. Does it hurt much today?”
“Not really,” Viktor responded, starting to get into position to start on his physical therapy exercises while Yuuri padded to the kitchen. “Though, to be fair, I haven’t been on it much. I took the bus from Georgi’s even though it’s nearby.”
“Good. You can start walking more after the therapist says it’s okay, not before,” Yuuri stated. “You still have to use crutches when you walk for more than a few minutes. Don’t press it.”
“ Da, da ,” Viktor sighed, a slight twitch in his face as he started working on his first exercise.
Yuuri let out an exasperated sigh, but couldn’t help but smile right after. Everything was fine. It was good. They’d talked it out and it was all back to normal. Yuuri happily worked on slicing vegetables and preparing their meal while listening to Viktor moan and groan about his exercises. Maybe he could slip in a treat after dinner for Viktor, a small reward for making it through. Yuuri had been to physical therapy before, and while his injuries had been nowhere near what Viktor was having to go through, he remembered it wasn’t too fun.
The rest of the day they spent completely together, watching terrible soaps on television and cuddling on the couch. It was amazing how easily they fell back into their normal routine like the fight had never happened. Yuuri felt his heart at ease when they both slipped under the covers that night, alarms set to get up for the rink in the morning.
“Yuuri, I was thinking,” Viktor started as he watched Yuuri lace up his boots on the opposite bench.
“Hmm?” Yuuri questioned, not taking his eyes off the task at hand.
“About how I can be a better coach. You said that you used to copy my routines with Yuuko when you were younger, right?” he asked.
Yuuri glanced up for just a second and nodded. “Un. I could probably still do all of them really.”
“So then you know that part in my short program from my junior year? When I was 14?” Viktor paused for Yuuri to answer, but his husband could only squint in thought. “Darkness and Frost?”
Yuuri’s face lit up. “Ah, yes!”
Viktor’s face lit up in a sort of excitement. “So then you know the part after my first quad? Where I did the twizzle to the choctaw to the spread eagle?”
Finishing tying off his skate, Yuuri paused to replay the routine in his head. When he reached the point of the program that Viktor was talking about, his eyes widened. “That’s what you meant when you were trying to tell me what to do for my routine!”
“Yes, yes!” Viktor clapped in excitement. “I thought hard about how I could better convey my intentions to you without getting on the ice. Knowing what a fan you were, I figured I could use my own routines to help guide you.”
“What a fan I still am,” Yuuri corrected with a smile. “And always will be. That’s perfect, Viktor. I’m fairly certain I remember most of your programs, but we can always look at film to help.”
“I expect it to be just as good - if not better - than my own execution!” Viktor beamed, his heart-shaped smile in full effect.
When Yuuri stepped out onto the ice he felt warmth. His heart was at ease and the worries he’d carried with him on the ice the previous days were completely off his chest. Already he could tell in just his warm-up that today would be a good day. His movements were graceful and light, and his mind was empty.
Maybe too empty. Yuuri just missed slamming right into Yuri as he worked on his outside edges. Though, Yuri looked like he had purposely moved into his path, a frown on his face. “Ah, hi, Yurio. Sorry, I didn’t see you there.”
“No shit,” Yuri huffed. “So… you and the old man work things out? You seem happier.”
Yuuri smiled at Yuri’s concern. “We talked.”
Yuri hummed, narrowing his eyes. “So he did the right thing and resigned as your coach?”
“What? No, of course not.” Yuuri frowned, an edge of irritation at the mere thought. “I apologized for what I said and he apologized for his reaction. We talked things over and think we have a plan going forward for better communication.”
“And what about your skating?”
“We have a plan for that too,” Yuuri said stiffly. His good mood was becoming hard to maintain under this sudden aggression.
“And how long do you think that’s gonna last, Katsudon?” Yuri huffed. “You’re living in a fantasy world.”
Over the years Yuuri had gotten really good at not letting the teen’s words get under his skin. After all, they usually weren’t as vicious as the tone might have insinuated. Yuri cared, which was why he got so angry, but this was pushing it. He began to feel angry himself, looking at the younger man’s judgmental expression. “I didn’t ask your opinion.”
“Yuuri! Stop chit-chatting and skate!” Viktor called out playfully with a wave.
“I have work to do,” Yuuri said sharply, effectively killing the conversation as he turned on his blade and skated off to his husband. If Yuri wanted to talk bad about Viktor, then he could do it to his own face. But the other man didn’t follow, and Yuuri was privately glad. Still, his good mood was thoroughly crushed and the scowl on his face must’ve been obvious, because Viktor was already frowning when he came to a stop.
“Are you ok?” Viktor asked, straightening up against the barrier. His eyes slid past Yuuri to some point further along the ice, then back.
Yuuri forced a smile. “I’m fine, sorry. I’m ready to start.”
“Ok, from the top then with the new element. If I like what I see, then we’ll try and finish the short today, ok?”
Yuuri nodded firmly, positioning himself in his starting pose. His body didn’t feel as weightless as it had moments ago. Just let it go. He didn’t mean anything by it. Yuri was Yuri. Everything with Viktor was fine, and he was going to prove it to them all.
With a deep breath to ground himself, he began.
The next few days of training were like transporting back in a dream to their days in Hasetsu. Yuuri and Viktor fell into an easy routine now that Viktor had a way to show Yuuri what he was envisioning.They finally finished Yuuri’s short program - well, mostly. Although Yuuri felt very happy with it, he could just see the wheels spinning in Viktor’s head. The slight wrinkle of his nose the night before when Yuuri had mentioned it to Phichit might have been nothing for any other skater, but Yuuri had grown to know that expression in the years prior. Something about the program made him unhappy.
“Vitya, why don’t you just say what’s on your mind instead of making me guess?” Yuuri huffed playfully, hands on his hips as he approached the barrier after finishing a run through.
“Hmmm.” Viktor pondered, his index finger to his lips. “I’m not quite happy with the transition of the triple combination into the spin. Do you think you can do a spread eagle coming out of the salchow? You’d need to then three-turn into the flying sit.”
“Like a separate movement or right out of the landing?” Yuuri asked, trying to visualize his ask.
“Right out of the landing, if you can,” Viktor clarified. “Ah, I think I did it in my Innocence program - the short.”
Yuuri remembered that program. It was the one Viktor did his first year in the senior division and one that Yuuri had watched obsessively before his own senior debut. Like a film behind his eyes, he started to run through the program. Eventually, he frowned. “Are you sure that’s the right one?” he asked. “I don’t remember anything like that.”
“Really?” Viktor blinked and then pulled out his phone. “Hold on, I’ll pull up a video. I know it was that program.”
Yuuri hummed in acknowledgment, using this time to take a much needed break. He toweled off his face and took a sip from his water bottle as Viktor searched for the right video. It took barely any time before the distinctive soft music of that program played from the phone. Yuuri thought to lean in and watch, but Viktor kept the screen angled towards himself. His husband kept frowning as the minutes passed and, eventually, the music ended for applause. “Vitya?”
“I… I guess that wasn’t the right program,” Viktor admitted, his voice almost a whisper. Yuuri could hear the disappointment. “I could have sworn…”
Yuuri was quick to offer a smile. “Vitya, you’ve done so many programs! I’m sure it must be hard to keep them straight. Do you remember what you were wearing? Maybe I can help find the right one. What was the jump combination into the spread eagle?”
Viktor obediently held out his phone for Yuuri, but there was a lingering frown on his features. “Um, it was a triple axel, loop, triple salchow.”
“Hmm.” Yuuri started to scroll through the programs on Youtube listed under Viktor. “Long hair or short?”
“Long,” Viktor said certainly and then paused. “...Maybe? I think the outfit was dark blue and purple. Or maybe it was red…”
Viktor was clearly flustered and Yuuri felt his confidence deteriorating fast. With a determined bite of his lip, he started wracking his brain for the sequence in question. For some reason, Yuuri seemed to remember the spread eagle out of the salchow now as they discussed it. “Wait. Vitya, was it the In Remembrance program?” Finding the video on Youtube, he tapped on it and held the phone up so they could both see.
It only took a few seconds for Viktor’s face to light up. “Yes! Yuuri! That’s the one! You’re a lifesaver!” With strong arms Viktor practically attacked Yuuri with a hug, the phone almost going flying out of the skater’s hands onto the ice.
Screen safe from ultimate demise, Yuuri held the phone back up so they could both see. Sure enough, a minute into the program, Viktor performed the sequence in question on the small screen. Yuuri nodded firmly in understanding and handed the phone back. “Ok! I think I can do it.”
Landing into a spread eagle was not easy even for the most flexible of skaters. It required perfect balance and technique. Even the slightest of fumbles would ruin it. Secretly, Yuuri was panicking. This was hard, but he felt determined to do it for Viktor.
Taking a lap to gain speed, Yuuri moved into the check for the axel before launching himself off the ice. Immediately upon landing, he pivoted off the outside edge of his landing foot into the half-loop and straight into the salchow. As soon as he felt the weight in his knee as he landed, he shifted to open his hips and moved into the spread eagle. It wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. It moved his flying sit spin a little further to the left of the rink than he would have liked, despite his attempted correction in the three-turn.
Viktor still clapped and nodded in approval. “It could use some work, but the idea is there! I think I like that much better than before, no?”
Yuuri smiled, pleased with the response he got from Viktor as a coach. “It feels good to know the program is complete.” Well, it was kind of complete before, but now it was complete according to Mr. Nikiforov-Katsuki’s exacting standards. “Is there anything else you want me to work on today?”
“My, Yuuri,” Viktor chuckled, “even off the ice your stamina exhausts me. I think we can call it a day. Did you still want to go to Lilia’s while I’m at therapy?”
“Mm.” Yuuri nodded, looking forward to spending time in the studio. “But only if you’re sure you don’t want me to go with you.”
Viktor grabbed his crutches and positioned them beneath his armpits with a wink. “I hear I get to trade these bad boys out for a cane since I’m doing so well. Sexy.”
“Very,” Yuuri chuckled. “Ok, well, text me when you get home if you beat me, ok? Just so I know you’re ok.”
“I will! Tell Lilia hi for me!” Viktor called as he slowly and carefully started to crutch his way on down the rink away from Yuuri.
Yuuri felt a small blush of happiness dust his cheeks. They’d successfully completed the short program and the music for his free had been cut. Everything was progressing smoothly. Yuuri sort of wanted to shove it in Yuri’s face.
“Keep staring like that and you’ll have Lilia kicking your ass for being late.”
Speak of the devil. Yuuri smiled at the familiar threat despite himself, and gave his usual retort as he turned to face the blonde. “The Madam likes me too much, and you know it.”
“Tch.” Yuri scoffed, knowing it was true, and Yuuri knew then that they were fine.
Yuri would never actually say it - words that meant anything were hard for him - but this, right here, was his way of an apology. He’d kept his distance since their last encounter about Viktor, and now he was making an effort to return things to normal as though the words had never been spoken.
Yuuri had learned how to speak Yuri.
“Yeah, well, I don’t want to be late, so hurry up, Piggy.”
“Hai, hai,” Yuuri sighed, grabbing his water and his towel and started to skate off the ice, Yuri in step with him as they moved.
“Hey,” Yuri stopped Yuuri just before he stepped off the ice. The teen looked uncharacteristically sweet and almost embarrassed by the words he was about to speak. “Your program looks good. I liked the eagle out of the salchow. It’s pretty.”
With warmth spreading through him at the apology and compliment, Yuuri smiled. “Thank you. Viktor did good with the suggestion. Now, let’s hurry before Lilia kicks your ass when we’re late.”
Yuri growled in response and Yuuri laughed.