Actions

Work Header

eternity will be born from hope

Chapter Text

 

The drops of water into the bathroom’s sink was the only sound within the Ice Castle’s bathroom. It echoes loudly in Yuuri’s ear, ( thump, thump, thump), like the sound of an approaching villain or the music in horror movies before there’d be a jump scare. 

Because everything else is quiet, the small sounds of water overwhelms him. It blocks everything, overpowers all of Yuuri’s senses.

This was supposed to be his year . For the first time in history, the Grand Prix final would host both the senior and junior competition at the same, exact location. Yuuri would be on the same ice as him , finally. 

And now, it’s all fucked up. Yuuri looks up at his reflection in the mirror and immediately closes his eyes at the sight. His face is red and splotchy, and his nose was unattractively runny, mucus dripping down his nostrils in gross tendrils. 

Despite being only seventeen years old, Yuuri would bet everything that today is the worst day of his life. Past or future, nothing could top how utterly fucking exhausting today had been.  

The door to the disabled toilets is promptly locked, and Yuuri hears the sound of Nishigori’s footsteps pacing in the outside hallway. He doesn’t want to deal with the awkward outreach of sympathy from his friend, so he does what he does best, and hides .  

After all, Nishigori had been the one who broke the news that Nobu would no longer be coaching Yuuri, a week after he’d found out he qualified for the Junior Grand Prix.

“He’s not coming, Yuuri.” Nishigori’s face had been swathed in red. Yuuri had taken one look at his friend’s face and immediately balked at the sight, turning numb. He had curled up his hands, pushed all the emotion that threatened to explode out of him, and instead focused on the pain of his nails stabbing into his palm as a welcome distraction. 

Nobu had left him, so he was effectively coachless. The question of why didn’t matter, but Yuuri asked anyway. “Why did he go?” 

“Osaka.” 

That single city’s name was enough for Yuuri to understand everything . There was only one reason to go to Osaka if you were in the skating community -  Yamura Skating Club. 

It was rich in history, elite, the best of the best, and nothing like Yuuri, Hasetsu and the Ice Castle.

Yuuko had been livid, expressing more emotion that compensated for Yuuri’s numb state. When she had finally gotten through to Nobu’s phone, after weeks of no appearances, his words cut through Yuuri like a knife. 

“I”m sorry, Yuuri.” There was no remorse, and the apology felt stale in Yuuri’s mouth. “You know how it is.” No, Yuuri really didn’t know how you could abandon a skater mid-season. “I need to be spending my time with skaters who actually have a future- not that you don’t, Yuuri-kun. But...I can’t spend my days play-skating with you and everyone in Hasetsu. I need to move up.” 

“He’s just spouting bullshit!” Yuuko had exploded. “You’re the national junior champion and you got into the Junior Grand Prix finals! You’re literally the best of the field, how is that play-skating?

But Nobu was right, in some twisted way. When he first debuted, Yuuri had somehow snatched a silver at Junior Worlds when he was thirteen, and Nobu had come running to teach him. But, Yuuri soon proved that he was not Japan’s best hope for international stardom - ever since he was fifteen, it had been three years of constant decline of performances that were below his debut-level. 

“It’s gotta be some politics in the field.” Nishigori had said, eyes blazing. “Yamura has to know that you wouldn’t be able to go to the finals without a coach, and who do you think will take that empty spot?” 

“If it’s not Yamura, then it’ll definitely be one of the Musashi or Osawa. Even if they’re at each other’s throats, it was always a stick up the ass that Yuuri succeeded without them.” 

“Fucking elitists. Only sticking up for themselves. You’d think they’d be more accommodating to Japan’s only chance at placing internationally.”

“Yeah, well they’ve always been gunning after Yuuri when he refused Musashi’s offer. They’re just closing ranks-”

“P-please.” Nishigori and Yuuchan had frozen at the crack in Yuuri’s voice. He could feel his throat constricting, as he gripped the edge of the ice rink, pushing the gate open. “Let me pass.” 

So that’s where Yuuri was now, locking himself in the disabled toilets so he could hide from Nishigori and Yuuko’s sympathetic gazes. 

He should’ve known something was wrong when Nobu didn’t return his calls, but there was no way he could’ve expected him to just leave without telling anyone. He should’ve been in the middle of training for the Grand Prix final , but instead, he’d been chasing after his dead-beat coach for over two weeks. 

How bad of a skater was he that his own coach had no hope in him? How was he even supposed to train without a coach? Who calls their student five minutes before their session to say that they weren’t even in the city anymore? 

Yuuri rubs his eyes until they turn red. He just wants to go home and sleep, but he knows that everyone will wonder why he’s back from training so early. Breaking the news to his parents is too much for him to even handle - he doesn’t think he can see their disappointed faces. 

The embarrassment of everything that’s happened crawls underneath his skin; they had thrown so much money for Yuuri’s career, even waiving Nobu’s boarding at the inn in exchange for a discounted coaching fee - Minako-sensei even became his weekly drinking buddy! 

Dejection fills him, and Yuuri swallows his dry mouth in an attempt to control the overflow of emotions running rampant in his body. Yuuko would find him soon, and he wouldn’t put it past her to not break the door open. 

Curling into himself, Yuuri wonders why he ever thought he could do well in skating to begin with. He’s a dime-a-dozen skater, a small fish from the coast of Japan trying to make it in the big leagues. 

It’s no wonder he’d been abandoned. Maybe he should disappear from skating altogether. Like Nobu said, it’s not like he’ll do any better in the future. He’s seventeen and still competing in Juniors. In fact, he only scraped into the finals because another skater had to withdraw. Seniors would be a completely different ball-game, and if Yuuri’s struggling already at Juniors, then there’s no way he’ll do well in the cut-throat circuit. There had been junior world champions that had been flushed out immediately once they entered seniors. He’s not like other teenage prodigies, not like Viktor Nikiforov, who won an Olympic medal, ( silver , to match his hair) ,  at only nineteen. 

Maybe Yuuri could take residence up at the Inari Shrine - a monk would mean he’d abstain from all forms of social media, and therefore, wouldn’t have to see his peers do so much better than him. It’s always empty - Yuuko was Catholic and the fox statues creep Minako out, so there would be no way that the two would come and force him out of hiding. 

Yuuri attempts to stop sniffling by throwing some water to clean his face before he exits the bathroom. The fear of being caught by Yuuko and Nishigori means that Yuuri has to leave behind his things in the locker room, but he at least has his phone tucked into his jacket pocket. The walk to the shrine should be quick, only a ten minute walk even though it was uphill. He could evade Yuuko and Nishigori as soon as he left the building, even if it was only for a few hours. 

Throwing the hood of his jacket up, Yuuri escapes through the emergency exit. It’s a warm September day, but maybe he would’ve felt better if it was raining; nobody would question his tear-stained cheeks then. The universe should’ve at least been nice about screwing him over by making the background ambience more dramatic-

“LOOK OUT!” 

Yuuri’s breath catches in his lung. Something heavy slams into his body, and suddenly, he feels weightless. 

And then pain, so much pain, explodes from the right side of his body. 

A sharp cry rips out of his mouth. He can feel the way his skin skids across the road, wincing at the pain that erupts. His body aches , from the ends of his fingers to his rib cage. 

The only thought that filters in through his pain-riddled brain is fuck

He swears on Viktor’s godly hair, he will find whatever cosmic deity decided to make his life a colossal shitstorm and punch them in their cosmic-sized dick. He should’ve known that just thinking the words ‘it could be worse’ was basically inviting the universe to fuck him over. 

 

*** 

BREAKING NEWS 

ESPN Figure Skating ✓  @ESPN_FS

Japan’s Junior skater, Yuuri Katsuki, injured in minor car accident just months before the Grand Prix Final, future updates to proceed 

 

trending . 

かつき ゆうり

[Yuuri Katsuki]

2k

自動車事故

[Car accident] 

1k 

 

***

 

Yuuri’s head hurts like a bitch.  

He whimpers, voice raspy and hoarse. He squints his eyes, vision blurring as he clamours for the glasses he knows should be on the bedside table. His hand falters as it glides through empty air. 

Yuuri yelps when a hand grabbed him suddenly, curling around his wrist so tightly he could feel the blood circulation begin to stop. 

“Not now, Viktor.” He groans, wondering if his husband was trying to play-fight with him again. He tugs his wrist back, turning on his side to snuggle closer into the pillow. “It’s too early, where did you put my glasses?” A female voice cackles loudly, but there’s an edge of relief to it. The sound is deep and gravely, and Yuuri recognises it immediately. 

“Mari-neesan?” His eyes snap open, but the lights burn and make him snap them shut just as quickly.“What are you doing in Russia? Where’s Viktor?” 

His throat feels like he’d eaten his weight in sand. It’s like sandpaper, and he coughs loudly, hand lifting to touch the base of his throat to see if it would alleviate any of the pain. His mother interrupts whatever Mari was about to say, wailing as she clung to his side. 

“Yuuri!” She cries, and it took a moment for Yuuri to realise that she’s sobbing into his neck.

“Kaa-san?” His vision starts to swirl, which doesn’t help his pounding head. “Where are my glasses?”

“Yuuri-kun.” Yuuri turns to find his dad sitting next to him. It’s his father that’s holding his hand. There are huge tears falling down his cheeks, and he looks as if he was moments away from passing out if he cries anymore. 

“Oh, my baby.” His father traces his thumb over Yuuri’s wrist softly, as if he’s fragile, as if he’ll break. His mother doesn’t let go of him, still crying into his neck. 

Yuuri looks up at Mari, eyes pleading. She snickers in response, rolling her eyes. “Kaa-san, tou-san, you need to let Yuuri breathe. I’ll go get the doctor so one of you give him a glass of water, please. He sounds like a frog.”

“Doctor?!” Yuuri squeaks. Without his glasses, he can’t see anything, but even his blurry vision can sense that the white walls are not the same as his and Viktor’s tasteful grey. He could however feel that the scratchy, uncomfortable bedsheets under him were not Viktor’s one-hundred percent, pure silk sheets imported directly from Egypt. Fuck. He’s really at a hospital. “What happened? Where am I?”

“Oh, Yuuri-kun.” His mother rises, pressing a warm hand against his cheek. She sniffles, wiping away tears that fall down her cheeks. “You don’t remember the accident?”

“A-aci- I was in an accident?!” 

His dad wails by his side. “My son, he doesn’t even remember !”

Mari finally intervenes. “Kaa-san, please stop crowding him. Tou-san, stop being dramatic, the doctor said he’s fine. He’s probably just loopy from the drugs. I mean, he thought Viktor Nikiforov was waiting on him, like a little maid.” 

“Viktor’s not here?” Yuuri frowns. If he’s been in an accident, why wasn’t his husband here? Oh my god, did Viktor… Did he-

“-Why the hell would Viktor be in Japan?” 

“What- I’M IN JAPAN?!”

 

***

 

Yuuri blinks as a nurse rushes into the room at the sound of his parents screaming. He looks between Yuuri’s bewildered face, Mari’s obnoxious laughter and his parent’s tearful streaks of sorrow, and promptly runs out of the room in fear.

Nakamura however, his childhood doctor, walks straight in after.  

“Sensei!” Mari’s crying actual tears, trying to hold herself up despite being bent over from laughing.  “You’ll never believe what Yuuri dreamed about!”

“Sensei!” Hiroko grabs Nakamura's sleeve, eyes dripping with tears. “My son, my poor son, he’s gone mad!” 

“There, there, Katsuki-san.” Nakamura pats his mother awkwardly, looking uncomfortable. “I’m sure that’s just an exaggeration. Yuuri-kun, I’m so glad you’re awake. You had us worried for a moment then, kid.” 

Nakamura-sensei had known him since he was a child, and ruffles Yuuri on the head whilst he runs through some tests. Yuuri follows the sight of his finger, looking left and then right as the doctor flashed a light into his pupil. He listens attentively as he is told to lift his arms above his head, and responds when asked if there was any pain, which there wasn’t .  

There is no pain anywhere on Yuuri’s body. In fact, he felt lighter, lighter than he’s ever been. There is none of the constant hum of soreness in his ankles, none of the cracking joints of his knees. It doesn’t even feel like his body

So, Yuuri comes to the realisation of three facts as Nakamura continues with his examination. 

Number one - He was just in a car accident. 

Apparently, as he was crossing the road, a truck had hit him from behind. Luckily, as they hadn’t been moving fast because they were trying to park, Yuuri didn’t have any serious injuries. However , what had been serious was the fact that Yuuri had been unconscious, for over four hours. 

The driver had waited by his side, calling an ambulance immediately when he was unresponsive. Then, he had been taken to the hospital where scans had shown there was nothing wrong with him. 

After the extensive array of tests, Nakamura-sensei had no other option but to send Yuuri home, signing off on a clean bill of health.  

“It’s a miracle.” He says, smiling to both Yuuri and his family. “His scans came back completely clean. No fractures or broken bones, no concussion or brain issues, just some mild bruising on his side that'll heal up within days.” 

His mother had looked enraged on his behalf. “But what about when he woke up? He thought he was in Russia!” 

Nakamura smiles patiently, trying to calm her down. “That’s probably a side-effect of the anaesthetic we gave him. It makes the best of us loopy. I remember a time when a patient believed he was on the moon and I was an alien out to eat him. The effects should wear off in the next few hours.”  

“But, what about his skating?” 

At that, Nakumara became eerily serious. “I still recommend staying off the ice for two weeks at the very least. Whilst he doesn’t have a concussion, he was still in an accident, and sometimes, symptoms may appear at a later time. I will schedule another check up before you are given the go-ahead. Before that, here is a list of symptoms to keep an eye out for. If anything changes, bring him straight to the emergency room.”

His eyes turn to Yuuri, and he points at him directly, eyes narrowing. “I know how you are. No strenuous exercise, especially skating. The spins and jumps are just asking for a repeat injury.” 

“But I don’t even have a headache, senseil” 

Nakamura tuts like Yuuri is a child. “I’ve had to deal with enough of your skating injuries. If you don’t listen, I’ll have you admitted and chained to a bed.”

“I’ll help,” Mari winks. 

Yuuri bites his tongue from retorting, stopping from digging an even larger hole for himself. He wasn’t lying though -  he really didn’t have a headache, although he was still squinting up at everyone to see. The sole casualty in the accident had been his glasses, so Yuuri resigns himself to being blind until he’s able to get a new pair. 

Number two- Despite feeling no pain, Yuuri is 100% sure he is having an out-of-body experience.

They had chalked off his sudden lapse in memory as a side-effect of the anaesthetic, and with some quick thinking, Yuuri had agreed readily with the others. He didn’t need to be locked up or looked at like he was insane, not when his mind was still jumbled. He needed time and safety to figure things out, and to have that, he needed to be left alone.  

His mother continued to worry over him as they left the hospital. And in his confusion, Yuuri found it prudent to just shut up and let his parents fuss over him.

He didn’t know what kind of anaesthetic could make his body and mind feel so sluggish. It’s like he’s wading through water, everything is moving slow, rearranging itself through the ripples.  

It’s even weirder that, for all intents and purposes, Yuuri should be feeling some sort of pain, considering he was in a car accident. It’s even weirder that he doesn’t feel anything, but he does feel something , he just can’t put his finger on what it is. It’s like a phantom pain, like his body is confused because he isn’t in pain. 

It’s only when the beautiful, familiar sound of a dog yapping greets him as he enters the inn that Yuuri knows why he feels so weightless and disorientated. It’s not because of a side-effect. 

Number three - Yuuri swears five minutes ago he had fallen asleep in St. Petersburg after celebrating his four-year anniversary with his husband, and now, he had woken up as a seventeen year old.

 

***

 

Yuuri tries to calm his erratic breathing, sitting on his childhood bed. He could hear the sound of his parents walking underneath him, the age-old floorboards of Yu-topia Katsuki squeaking at every footstep. 

He closes his eyes and thinks

Nobu leaving was a defining moment in his life, and Yuuri remembers it like the back of his hand. Twelve years ago, Yuuri’s coach had left him to join Yamura Osaka Skating Club, leaving him coachless in the middle of his last junior season. Eight hours ago, Nobu-san had left him to join Yamura Osaka Skating Club, leaving him coachless in the middle of his last junior season. 

Both statements are correct. Both statements are a reality. 

Because Yuuri can feel the underlying current of nerves humming underneath his skin, travelling through his body and leaving him on edge. He can feel the thrum of his gut, his instinct , telling him that both of his thoughts are right. 

Three hours ago, Yuuri was crying because he had been dropped by his junior coach. Three hours ago, Yuuri had gone to bed, cuddling up to Makkachin and Viktor, in their shared apartment in St. Petersburg.

“Shit.” Yuuri covers his face. His heart speeds up - what if everything was a dream? What if he never actually married Viktor and it was just some elaborate concoction his brain made up? 

But there’s no way that actual, lived years are fake, no matter how unrealistic they are. There are two versions of the same time frame slamming itself into Yuuri’s head, but Yuuri knows, in his bones , that he is twenty nine years old. 

Vicchan whines next to him, licking his hands. Immediately, he removes his hands and let’s Vicchan smother him in kisses and licks. 

He can’t even find it within himself to not feel grateful because Vicchan is here . His heart thumps as he relieves the grief of losing him, breathing in the deep scent of the discount, dog shampoo Mari always lathers Vicchan in. It’s familiar and warm, and smells like mulberries and Yuuri knows that this isn’t a dream. 

He pulls the small body into his chest, running his fingers through his soft, chestnut fur. His baby’s still alive, still here. There’s no way that Vicchan is sitting here, alive and well, for it to be anything other than reality. 

A sharp ring floods through his room, and Vicchan jumps off his chest in a yelp. Scrambling to stand up, Yuuri looks for the source of the noise and finds an outdated flip phone. It’s definitely not the smartphone he knows. It’s old and familiar, and there’s a rush that floods through him at the familiar ring of his ringtone.  

“This is way too elaborate to be a dream.” Yuuri groans as he grabs the phone, flicking it up and bringing it to his ear. 

Moshi moshi ?” 

“Erm, hello?” The person is speaking in English, but the voice is heavily accented and Yuuri’s heart stutters. It’s sort of familiar, but Yuuri can’t pick out why.  It takes him a second to realise there’s a French tilt to the English and immediately Yuuri can place the voice to a face. 

“Chris?” 

“Oh thank god you answered!” Yuuri blinks at the obvious relief stemming from Christophe’s voice, who sounds resoundly relieved that Yuuri answered. “I just saw the news article about your accident! How are you? Are you okay?”

It’s insane how much comfort Yuuri feels from listening to a friendly voice. “I’m fine, Chris, thanks for calling. The accident wasn’t even bad.”

“That’s not just you saying that, right?” Christophe asks. “Because a car accident is still a car accident. And you’ve released absolutely no statement at all. The skating community is going a little crazy.”

Yuuri laughs, hoping he sounds reassuring. “Trust me, the car was trying to park so it only bumped me slightly. No bruises or concussions.”

“That’s a relief.” He sighs. “I’m glad you picked up anyway, you never respond to any of my texts or calls. I’m still waiting for you to move up to seniors.” 

Yuuri tries to think of a time when he and Chris were close enough for them to talk over the phone before Viktor. He can’t ever remember this happening before. Although, he was never in a car accident either. The two of them knew of each other. But Viktor and Christophe were a package deal, and so once Yuuri and him started dating, Christophe was a constant fixture in their lives. 

And then it hits Yuuri suddenly, this stomach-churning sense of deja vu. 

He has had this exact conversation before with Christophe. At his Junior Grand Prix, when the two of them sat and watched Viktor Nikiforov at practice. 

It was the first time that the Grand Prix decided to hold the junior and senior competitions in tandem, and Christophe had taken it as his chance to rope Yuuri into meeting with him. It was Christophe’s second year of competing at senior level, and both had taken to sitting in the audience seats to watch Viktor Nikiforov in the second practice group. 

They had oohed and ahhed as Viktor threw himself into a quadruple flip or did a simple y-spiral. They had simpered about his long hair, pulled back into a crown of braids, and Yuuri had wondered out loud if the shampoo he used smelled like roses. (It was a few years later when he found out that Viktor preferred the smell of chamomile.) 

Christophe had laughed out loud and begged Yuuri to hurry and move up to the senior division. “ It’s too boring without you,” he pouted. At the time, Yuuri had thought it was Christophe just being Christophe. He had hundreds of friends in the senior divisions, Christophe was well liked and Yuuri had seen all the tagged pictures he had uploaded on his instagram. It was that same season that Christophe became friends with Viktor, and Yuuri felt himself slip into obscurity, never reaching the same heights as his peer. 

But now, all Yuuri could think about is the fact that the only person who Chris had known prior to seniors was Yuuri. 

Despite never beating him, it was only ever Yuuri who competed with Christophe in juniors. The two had stayed together, far above the rest of the playing field. Of course, when Nobu had decided to coach Yuuri, Christophe had moved up to seniors and Yuuri had fallen from the top.  

Yuuri had thought it was a friendship of convenience, but now he’s not too sure. 

Yuuri, consumed by his anxiety and doubt, had ignored Christophe once he had debuted in the senior field and failed spectacularly, not even qualifying for a second Grand Prix event. Christophe instead was flying up ahead, and Yuuri had watched on in jealousy as he made friends with Viktor, competed on the same ice as Viktor. 

Now, Yuuri can’t help but think how lonely Christophe would’ve been before that. A whole year of being alone. Like Yuuri. 

“-uuri? Yuuri! You still there?”

“Yes.” Yuuri rushes to say, his throat constricting. “Yes, I’m here Chris. Thank you. For checking up on me.” 

Chris is quiet for a moment, and in the silence he can hear Christophe thinking. “... Are you sure you’re okay?” 

“I am!” He cringes at how loud his voice went, winces when he realises how late it is. He quietens down, hoping Mari doesn’t slam the walls of his room and tell him to shut up. “Sorry, my head’s still muddy from the painkillers.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re alright. You should probably rest though.” Yuuri can hear Christophe’s voice turning into something more like himself. He can hear the smirk playing on his lips. “Think you’ll still make it to the finals? We can have a late birthday party-” 

Chris gasps, cutting himself off. “How could I forget! You’re finally turning eighteen! Yuuri! I can take you out drinking! The final’s in Beijing, and I’m pretty sure Cao Bin said the age limit is eighteen-” 

Yuuri intakes a sharp breath. Eighteen. Shit , he doesn’t even remember his programs. What season is this, again? 

“-Yuuri?”

Vicchan yips beside him, bringing Yuuri back to the present. “Sure, Chris. I’ll take you up on that offer.” 

“Oh, how exciting. An untouched liver.” Chris purrs. “That’s so unlike you to make promises of going out. Think you can handle it?”

“Only if you’re paying.” 

“Ha!” Christophe laughs loudly. “I shall wait with bated breath for the finals, mon cher .”

“See you then, Chris.” He hangs up when he hears Chris making the obnoxious sound of a kiss through the phone, laughing to himself.  

He loses all sense of comfort as soon as his eyes meet the wall opposite to himself. His mouth drops open. He pinches his arm. There’s a sharp pain. There’s no way this is a dream. 

The space next to his wardrobe is empty. The space next to his wardrobe, where his signed poster of Viktor’s Saratov Olympic win, is empty.   

“Okay, Vicchan. I’m going to tell you something insane.” His paws are stretched out on either side of Yuuri’s shoulder, his tongue is poking out.  Vicchan licks his chin, settling his head on Yuuri’s chest as he looks up at his owner.

“I think I’ve travelled back in time.” 

He cringes at the sound of his voice. It sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous. But, there is something building inside Yuuri, call it intuition or belief. But Yuuri knows that it’s the truth. 

He jumps from his bed, apologising to a fussing Vicchan who glares up at him as he falls from Yuuri’s chest. There’s only one way to prove if he’s right. 

The computer on his desk is an antique , and this is when Yuuri knows that he couldn’t have been dreaming. There’s no way Yuuri had conjured up designs of futuristic technology like Apple watches or Samsung tablets. 

It’s a full three minutes of Yuuri impatiently tapping his finger as he waits for it to boot up. His heart drops as his eyes zoom to the date displayed at the bottom of the screen. It’s two years till the Olympics. That’s ten years in the past.

He types in ‘Saratov Winter Olympics’ and is met with articles about a new rink Russia is making in preparation. There are threads on Reddit about who will win, most of the polls placing Viktor as the undisputed favourite. Everyone thinks he’ll win the Olympics. Yuuri knows that he does. 

He groans, covering his face. Of course he’s missing the poster. The Olympics haven’t even happened

Following his silver at Montreal at nineteen, Viktor would go on to win his first Olympic gold at Saratov, breaking three world records in one night. It’s the beginning of his streak of world dominance. He continued this success until Tokyo, his last Olympics, where he became the first person to win consecutive Olympic titles since the 1930s. 

Yuuri clenches his fists tightly. It was also Tokyo when Viktor finally started figuring out it wasn’t normal to feel apathetic all the time. (He didn’t go to see a therapist until after.) 

Yuuri opens up another page, types ‘Is it possible to travel back to the past?’ and hits enter. 

There are thousands of hits, but all comments are about Back to the Future or reddit posts. He scrolls down impatiently, looking for any articles about cases of actual time travel, but none of them seem to be credible. 

And then he sees an article written by NASA. It’s in English, but his eyes adjust to the sudden change of letters and he’s reading through it quickly. 

‘... for all intents and purposes, time travel seems to be theoretically possible, but only in quantum mechanics or wormholes.” Yuuri reads out loud, sounding each word out with hope. “In any case, cases of time travel would be a…” 

Yuuri takes a sharp inhale of breath, his hands shaking as he reads the next line. 

“...Due to the nature of wormholes, cases of time travel would solely be a one-way ticket.” 

All at once, he crumbles.

Chapter Text

Memories are a strange thing. 

Even if Yuuri realistically understands that memories are just impressions of the past, and therefore subjective, it doesn’t change the fact that in reality, memories are seen as hard, cold facts. It’s all well to think of his past as an abstract image - a shell of the present that becomes immortalised in his memories. But the discrepancies between that immortalised memory and the present right now hits him like a fire alarm screeching in a college dorm rather than an alarm clock - talk about a wake up call.  

He has yet to leave his room since coming back from the hospital, barricading himself within the confines of his room. The only intruder allowed is Vicchan, who he lets escape every morning  and whenever his parents come to leave him food outside. It’s irrational, the fear he has that his parents will suddenly realise that he’s not their Yuuri - that he’s different. Despite this, Yuuri stays content under the covers of his bedsheets, trying to ignore reality. 

The days in isolation means that he’s come to terms with his situation, well, as much as he tries to. He’s no longer under the illusion that this is some sort of hyper-realistic dream or a prank gone wrong. Because, no matter how many times Yuuri forces himself to sleep, every time he wakes up, he’s still surrounded by the four corners of his childhood bedroom.

His self-imposed exile also means that he picks up on the discrepancies of his memories even more than before. His room is a familiar sight, but the little crevices of clutter around him show that this is a life once lived. It’s not an abstract memory - his childhood room is no longer a fragment of the past, but a living present. 

There are notebooks strewn across his desk that he doesn’t recognise, school books spilling over his shelves and tucked within the confines of his bookcase. He can see disks and music cds, recorded videos of Viktor’s programmes from Juniors, medals and trophies from his competitions - all these cluttered details imbuing his bedroom. 

He vaguely remembers donating most of them when he left for college, and it’s this that finally cinches in that Yuuri has actually travelled in time. There is no way that his brain would be able to remember these elaborate details. He’s not that creative.   

The next huge discrepancy Yuuri notices is Mari. She’s still the same older sister he knows, pierced nose and inhaling cigarettes to the point of lung cancer, but there is a chubbiness to her cheeks, a youthfulness Yuuri can’t bring his head around. He has always seen Mari as older. But looking at her now, she looks infinitely younger, shorter, than he has ever realised. Yuuri doesn’t know how to handle the fact that mentally he’s older than his sister. 

It’s as he’s thinking this, finally escaping his room in the dead of night to sit outside on the engawa with moonlight pooling around him, that Mari makes her move. 

“You should be sleeping, Yuuri.”

He rolls his eyes, pulling his legs up to his chest to fend off the cold. But there’s nothing he can do about his fucked up sleeping pattern, Yu-Topia is stifling. Any moment away from this reality, whether it be sleeping or staring blankly at the wall, was better than being surrounded by these empty shells of a time that should be gone. Everything is the same but different, and that anxiety, the uncomfortable understanding that he can’t even trust his own memories, makes his stomach turn. 

There’s that split second when he wakes up and thinks that everything is back to where it was, where it should be. But then he’ll reach out for the phantom figure of Viktor and instead his fingers will clutch the empty air.

Sleeping does not help - it’s no longer a respite.

Perhaps it's because he’s an adult in a child’s body, but the suffocation leaves him mad. It’s like he’s bursting out of the bones, trapped within this cage of a teenage body. He wants to scream, scream so loudly that someone will come and just help him. 

But what other options does he have? Even he can’t believe what is happening to him. No matter how many times he tries to wake up from this nightmare, he always comes to the realisation that nothing will change. If he himself thinks he’s going crazy, well, it’s not hard to think what everyone else would think, is it?  He has no-one, he’s all alone- 

“You’re going to catch a cold.” A warm blanket is thrown over his shoulders, and Mari is silent as she sits beside him. 

“I know you don’t want to speak about it to kaa-san and tou-san, but you know you can speak to me. This is about Nobu, right?” 

Yuuri’s throat closes up, flushes red with anger and pain. It’s not about Nobu-san, not really, but Yuuri doesn’t open his mouth to correct her. 

Instead, he covers his face with his hands, shaking with the way his body wracks with his sobs. The tears drop down from his eyes, trailing down his cheeks like a downpour of rain, drowning him, making it hard to breathe. 

It’s warm, Mari’s fingers curling around his shoulders and pulling him close into her side. Her body is firm and solid - grounding . For the first time, Yuuri feels safe surrounded in his sister’s embrace. 

She doesn’t say a single word, just holds him as close as possible and let’s him cry into her shoulder. 

*** 

Things do not get any better after that. 

Usually, crying would give Yuuri a sense of relief, an outlet for the bundles of emotions that his sensitive disposition needs once in a while. But the overwhelming grief that hits him everytime he wakes up in his childhood room instead of his home in St. Petersburg makes that much harder to get out of bed. 

He can’t go back, back to Viktor and Makkachin, back to a life of Yura barging into his apartment unannounced, demanding for breakfast as if it was his house. He doesn’t have the safety net of Phichit or the key to an empty studio Madame Baranovskaya had gifted him. Yuuri had lost the family that he had made, and the grief was all-consuming. 

Once again, it’s Mari who barges into his life, slamming open his door. 

“Oi, you fucker, it smells like someone died in here. Would it kill you to open the curtains and window for a bit?” She kicks Yuuri out of his bed, ignoring his yelp, to stand up on his mattress and pull the curtains open. 

Yuuri groans when sunlight pierces his eyes, covering his face to stop them from burning. “You couldn’t be a little more gentle?”

“You don’t listen to gentle.” She pushes open the window, and a gust of fresh air enters the room. “Better. Now, shower and then meet me in the dining room.”

“Why, what time is it?” He rubs the sleep from his eyes roughly.

“Are you stupid? You’ve been waiting months for today!” Mari places her hands on her hips, scowling. “ Victory on Ice is being broadcasted today! It’s almost six and you slept through lunch.  How did you forget?” 

“Wha-?”

Mari grabs Yuuri by the shirt. “Your husband is skating. Go on, bath and then food.”

Yuuri’s stomach lurches at the word. Mari doesn’t notice, but she’s a force of nature, and shoves him out of his room without so much of a glance. He barely remembers the next ten minutes, finding himself soaking in the onsen and letting the hot steam flood his senses. 

He does feel a little better, the ever-present knot of anxiety in his stomach loosening slightly as his muscles relax under the careful stream of his family’s hot springs. He doesn’t know how much longer he spends in the onsen before his father comes in, wrapped in his blue yukata and holding out one for Yuuri to wear. 

“If you stay any longer, you’ll prune. Come, your mother has made your favourites.” 

It’s a sight to see. The banquet hall is empty except for the usual suspects, Nishida-san from down the road sits as primly as you can in a yukata. Minako-sensei was already there, devolving into a yelling match with Tanaka-san over the remote while Mari records the entire thing. 

Nishida-san smiles as Yuuri enters. He’s an elderly man, wispy white hair brushed back to show a pepper-freckled, wrinkled face. He’s as warm as Yuuri remembers, patting the seat next to him. Yuuri tightens his robe and sits beside him, his father leaving the room to what he expects is to help his mother with the food. 

“You’ll sit next to me, let Mari help your mother.” 

It’s with morbid fascination that Yuuri mechanically sits next to Nishida-san, realising that he remembered the old man’s funeral far more clearer than any of their interactions. He remembers about a granddaughter, and tries to divert all attention away from him. “How is Hana-chan?” 

Nishida-san smiles toothily, a huge grin stretching on his face. “She’s grown all of her teeth now! If only her mother decided to stay in Hasetsu, I could see her more frequently. That reminds me, my daughter says that phones nowadays can send videos, I’ll need to get one soon. She has one of Hana-chan’s first steps!” 

“I can take you to Higashi’s store, he can find you a nice one-”

“Yuuri-kun.” His mother’s voice filters into the rowdy room, carrying a heavy tray of food in her small arms. Yuuri immediately rises to take it, and he feels his throat choke at the sight of a steaming bowl of katsudon waiting for him. 

His mother pats his hair, fingers moving swiftly to sweep back his wet strands. “Come on, you haven’t eaten all day. Quickly, before it cools.” 

“Shut it, Tanaka!” Minako-sensei screams, rising the remote high above her head. “It’s our turn, you piece of shit.”

“Senpai.” Hiroko says exasperated, “Please refrain from cursing at our patrons.” Minako responds by sticking her tongue out at Tanaka, who laughs good-heartedly as he downs his beer, only trying to pull at Minako’s metaphorical pigtails. 

“Yuuri-kun!” Minako turns her attention to him, and Yuuri feels the blood drain from his face. “It’s time to see your husband!”

“Please stop calling him that.” Yuuri knows his family are being good-natured about Yuuri’s crush, but the reminder is like a stab in his chest. 

“Shush!” Mari is now by the TV, twisting the knob by the side to turn the volume up. “It’s starting! Live coverage, paid by yours truly!” 

The logo of NHK Sports zooms on to the screen, flooding the room in lights of red and white. The television is archaic, nothing like the flat screen Yuuri and Viktor had gifted his parents on New Years. Like Yuuri thought before, memories are truly a strange thing. He could swear that his old TV was never this bad, but now, with all the experience of the technological advances of the future, all Yuuri can do is grimace at the sight. It’s ugly, a gross, old brown colour that’s faded with time, and the screen quality is shit, static and blurry.

But the sound is good enough, and the tell-tale music of a pop song floods through the speakers and fills the room with bright notes. It’s some English song, and Yuuri can pick out the lyrics as the rink is covered in darkness before spotlights turn on. There’s a crowd screaming, clapping to the beat of the song. 

“Welcome, everyone.” An announcer pierces through the music, speaking in Japanese. “To Victory on Ice - in Kobe!” 

There’s the usual screaming of a crowd as more spotlights come on. Yuuri clenches his fist, heart pumping as he watches a group of pair skaters do extravagant lifts under the changing lights.

“It’s such a shame we couldn’t get tickets.” Minako pouts, downing her beer glass and waving it around for Yuuri’s father to refill. 

“At least it’s actually being broadcasted this time. Yuuri cried when his stream link died on his computer last time, remember?” 

Yuuri, in fact, did not remember that fact. However, it sounded like something he would do. Mari snickers next to him, and his face turns red as he tries to curl into himself from the embarrassment. 

Victory on Ice, aptly named after it’s star. If Yuuri did his maths right, this would be Victor's second year headlining his own ice tour, hot off his Olympic silver at only nineteen. He’s only twenty one now, and it’s a feat and a half to headline your own tour that young. 

But when you’re the first and only skater to land the quadruple flip, you sell out stadium tickets like it’s a headlining concert. Viktor’s high of the momentum, already at the top of his game. It was the first time in over a decade that a new quadruple jump had been attempted, let alone ratified - the name ‘Viktor Nikiforov’ was always in everyone’s mouth, and that sold tickets.  

Yuuri knows that it’s nothing compared to two years later, after the next Olympics. Following his complete obliteration of the competition at the Grand Prix, Europeans, Worlds and the Olympics in one season, the next four decades cemented his dominance in the sport. He was a once-in-a-lifetime skater - and despite all of the pain he feels, Yuuri feels like it’s a sort of perverse blessing that he’s able to witness it all over again. 

The crowd’s applause filters through the old television speakers, with the announcer introducing skaters as they enter the rink, spotlights up ahead shining down on them. There’s a single Japanese skater that skids to the front, twirling around in an excess of twizzles under the array of multi-coloured flashing lights.  

One of the patrons sighs at the sight. “It’s a shame Minato-san retired, he could’ve held on for one more year.”

“And for what?” Minako rolls her eyes, eyes glazed over as her speech slurs. “He hasn’t medalled at any major competition in years! The only reason he’s in this tour is because they need at least one home skater per country. It would be weird if the Japan tour didn’t have a Japanese skater.” 

The crowd amps up, screeching so loudly Yuuri’s sure his television starts to vibrate. Mari whoops loudly whilst Minako wolf-whistles, and Yuuri’s heart falls to his stomach. 

“And finally!” The announcer shouts. “The man you’ve all been waiting for- Viktor Nikiforov!”  

There he is. Bright and shining, filling up his television screen like the star he was. 

B`lyad.” Yuuri curses under his breath. 

Viktor. With long hair. 

How did he forget Viktor would have long hair? God it’s so long, pulled back in an array of braids, with strands framing his face like ringlets of silver. Not even the shitty television quality could hide the all-encompassing beauty of Viktor Nikiforov, as he does his signature jump to the applause of the audience. His hair spins around as he lands the jump, and from afar, the way they flutter around him gives the allusion of wings.  

Everyone is entranced by Viktor’s entrance as the group of skaters move in a choreographic sequence befitting of an opening performance. There’s fire and sparklers, and Viktor stands in the middle, soaking in all of the attention. 

“He just does a quad flip like it’s nothing.” Mari sighs dreamily. 

Yuuri can’t hear a single thing. His ears are numb, eyes trailing on the sight of Viktor, young, alive, breathing. Viktor, with long silver hair, pulled into a crown of braids. Viktor, sending winks and kisses to the audience, Viktor, Viktor, but not his Viktor. 

He feels like he’s underwater, like waves crashing over his head, dragging him under the tides and he can’t fucking breathe -

Yuuri has the distinct feeling of someone calling out his name, but his body is moving on auto-pilot, shoving his feet inside sandals and running outside. He runs, and runs, and runs, lungs burning, legs straining, he needs to feel something besides this ache in his chest, anything, anything, anything. 

“Please- please.” He cries out, hand outreached for something, anything , to pull him out of his mess. - “Come on, my little piglet. One more lap!” - “You’re a fucking joke, Katsudon. Makkachin’s a senior citizen in dog years and he’s running faster than you!” 

He trips over his feet, but his body is cushioned by something grainy. Somehow, he made it to the beach. His hands sink into the warm sand, buried underneath. He can hear Yuri scream curses, can feel Makkachin kissing his cheeks, can see Viktor’s laugh stretch across his cheeks into a pretty heart-shaped grin. 

He screeches, squeezing his eyes shut. “That’s not my Viktor. It’s not him.” 

“Please, please. I don’t want to be here. I don’t- please take me back. Why, why am I here?!” He cries out to the empty beach, only the sounds of waves replying to him. It’s darker now, much darker. He’d slept the whole day away, refusing to leave his room. Now, the sun is setting, sparks of golden. light breaking through Hasetsu’s waves. 

“I was happy.” His gasps out, tear-streaked and in pain. “I was finally happy, why did this happen?”

Viktor’s face forms in his head - this world’s Viktor. The one trapped behind the four corners of his television screen, blindingly beautiful and so out of his league. It’s his eyes that are different - the same as ice, frozen and cold. 

Sobs rack his body as Yuuri covers his mouth to silence his cries. He can’t go back . To the past or the future or whatever the fuck it is that he was in. There’s no way he could, and if he asked anyone for help, it would be a one-way ticket to a mental hospital. Or a lab. They’d probably dissect him like a frog.  

He’s never met this Viktor. The man who runs on the single notion of winning, one-track mind honed in for the win, the personification of victory. 

( “The banquet was a catalyst.” Yakov’s voice was soft, a contrast to his gruff exterior, as he stood beside Yuuri in Viktor’s kitchen. He rinsed a plate, handing it to Yuuri who methodically started to wipe it with a tea towel.  

“He was a completely different person before that; you eroded all of his edges. Viktor was always prone to theatrics. He had his fancies here and there, little romances that seemed to be the be-all-or-end-all.He was stubborn, other partners would want his attention, but nothing could take him away from the ice.

It came to a point where he’d just stop trying. What was the point in having a relationship, love or friendship, if at the end of the day, the ice would take precedence? So, you can understand my complete shock when he dropped everything and moved to a whole new country, because of one night with a stranger. 

It’s no wonder I wasn’t your biggest fan before, but now, seeing the two of you work so well together, it’s no wonder he chased after you. You gave him something real, someone he was willing to compromise for.” He turned off the tap, and smiled a rare, small smile. “So thank you. For saving my boy. For being the chain reaction that started his change.”  )

There is no catalyst anymore. 

Twenty-one year old Viktor wasn’t willing to change like twenty-seven year old Viktor had wanted to. He didn’t have the years of untouched dominance, the aura of a champion with no opponent. Outside of their dedicated role as a competitor, Viktor had little care about for how people related to him, rink-mate or competition, there was no difference. 

It was the wall that was built, the difference between Viktor Nikiforov and Vitya. After a while, Vitya had disappeared, replaced entirely by the glimmering image of Viktor Nikiforov - the living legend. 

Yuuri, a small fish from Japan, would have been eaten alive. 

Just by being here, the chains of events were already broken. The world around him was already changing. There never was a car accident to begin with. In fact, Yuuri swears that it was Nobu dropping him that made him end his Junior career early. 

“You pulled me from the cliff, solnyshko.”  Little sun.

Yuuri had somehow thawed Viktor, but only because he didn’t want to feel empty anymore. He was alone before Yuuri, and because of his desire to not be alone, he had opened his heart first. Viktor made the effort to change. 

This Viktor wasn’t like that, didn’t have personal realisation or desire for change. He is young, brash, loud - his first taste at having the world at his feet. 

There was no denying it. 

This Viktor Nikiforov would break Yuuri’s heart in seconds. 

*** 

Yuuri had abandoned his indoor slippers, feet sinking into the warm Hasetsu sand as he watched waves lap up the coastline.  

Hasetsu was always so still . The sun had fully set now, engulfing him in darkness. He’s been here for hours, nobody has come to find him. He’s sort of thankful, the silence of the Hasetsu seaside was exactly what he needed. 

The tears had finally subsided hours ago, so Yuuri closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and thinks

Returning to his own timeline was not an option. As he thought before, just being here changed the future. Butterfly effect be damned, there was nothing Yuuri could do when his mere existence changed the future. If just by simply breathing, there were knock-on effects, Yuuri has no idea what the hell he can do other than sit at home and do nothing. All he has is the present. 

So, the only logical decision Yuuri can think of is to wing it. 

It’s not his best plan, but every other simulation his mind goes through ends up the same. Unless he wants scientists to dissect him or lock him up, going for outside help isn’t ideal. Besides, his memories of the past are hazy at best. Even if he did try to stick to his past-timeline, just by being here, he’s fucked things up.

Sure, he probably has an obscene recollection of every single milestone in Viktor’s life, but his own? He barely remembers his time at Detroit, with only the vaguest awareness that he spent most of his time having multiple movie nights with Phichit and cleaning up hamster droppings. 

Detroit itself is a year away from now. Celestino has no idea who he is, Phichit wouldn’t start competing in juniors until next year, and fuck - Yuri was only ten

So, if just being here was changing the future, fuck it - Yuuri might as well just skate. 

What else does he have that’s always there, unchaning? There is no Viktor, no Phichit, no Yuri. 

Only the ice is the same. 

“Fuck you.” Yuuri finally explodes. He curses loudly, even to his ears, he sounds so much like Yura, it hurts his heart. Channeling his inner Russian teenager, he shoots to his feet, points his fingers to the sky and starts sprouting curses in Russian. 

“Fuck whoever thought this shit would be funny. I’ll put on a hell of a show - just watch and be fucking entertained.” 

*** 

He makes it back to Yu-Topia late. The doors are shut, lights off to signal that the inn is closed for customers. Vicchan is curled on the engawa despite the cold night, his eyes drooping with sleep. As soon as Yuuri opens the gate, he bounds down the steps, snapping at his ankles. 

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry, Vicchan!”

Vicchan sits on his hind legs, glaring up at his owner.  Yuuri sighs, feeling slightly guilty as he bends down, lifting Vicchan into his arms. “I’m not getting a lecture from you when I know kaa-san is waiting behind the doors. You know if she’s got a slipper in her hand?”

“No, but I do.” 

Yuuri yelps as Mari moves into the moonlight, lifting a thick, rubber-soled slipper in her hand. The fright had made him squeeze Vicchan a little too tightly, and he’s immediately apologetic when Vicchan hisses in discomfort. He sets him down, and Vicchan bounds towards his sister.

The two are silent, glaring at Yuuri. 

“I’m sorry?”

The slipper hits him just above his eyebrows.

Chapter Text

Yuuri’s chair creaks behind him as he leans back in contemplation. He’s sitting on his desk, waiting impatiently for his desktop to boot up.  

There’s no beating around the bush. He’s somehow found himself stuck in the past. Great. 

But where exactly is he, in the grand scheme of things? From what he’s understood, his junior coach has just switched skaters. That makes it September. Yuuri remembers this year vaguely, - he remembers the embarrassment of having to pull out of the season, coachless, but not much else. 

If he’s going to convincingly wing it, he will need to know all the facts and information. If he’s going to say fuck it to the universe, well, he might as well do it right. 

That means research. Like everything else in his life, Yuuri figures it’s best to start with skating. 

His fingers fly across the keyboard, the sound of the keys breaking through the stillness of his room. There is only one person who embodies skating for Yuuri, and it’s purely muscle memory that he starts to type the words ‘Viktor Nikiforov’ into the search engine. 

He swallows, throat drying as a picture of twenty-one year old Viktor fills his screen. 

It’s taken from last season’s Grand Prix, a gold medal hung around his neck reflecting the camera flashes aimed towards him. He looks so young - long hair flooding around his shoulders in star-lit waves, ice-blue eyes winking roguishly with a political smile. He’s a dream. 

Yuuri scrolls past it quickly, rushing to click any link that would take him away from the picture. He doesn’t realise what he’s clicked on until the fanpage starts to load. 

It’s one of Viktor’s most popular Japanese fansites, EMPEROR , one that Yuuri is intimately familiar with. He can feel the blood rush to his cheeks when it automatically logs him in, welcoming him back to the forum. He swiftly taps to the home page, where a list of Viktor’s achievements are bullet-pointed, each with a linked video of the event. 

Currently, Viktor is competing in his third year on the senior circuit. Two years ago, he had won silver at the Olympics when he was only nineteen, which were preceded by two World medals, silver and gold. Last season, he became the first person to win both the World Championships, Europeans and the Grand Prix Finals in a single season. An Emperor of total dominance. 

It was last year’s World championship where he landed the first ratified quadruple flip, slightly over-turning the landing but enough for him to cinch the win by a landslide. Since, he has shown his ability to land it perfectly in practice videos leaked to the press.

The blood drains from Yuuri’s face as he reads the words ‘quadruple flip’. He flounders slightly, finally pinpointing what time exactly he’s travelled to. 

Yuuri stands at the precipice of figure skating history. 

Quadruple jumps, that is four rotations in the air, are essentially a new skating element. Despite the first quadruple jump, a toe-loop, having been landed over twenty years ago, the quad jump has never been a staple in figure skating. All of that stemmed from the Olympics ten years ago, where three skaters favoured to win had all lost podium finishes because of a failed quad attempt. Since then, there had been an executive shift within skating. 

If you want to win, you didn’t do a quad. 

The toe-loop and salchow were the typical quad jumps in a skater’s arsenal, with the toe-loop heavily favoured. Even then, the salchow was almost never used in competition, with skaters opting to only do one quad in either the short or long. The toe-loop was easily controlled, so most would attempt it, with varying degrees of success. Even then, the focus was on perfected triple jumps, particularly the axel. 

That was until Viktor came along.  

Last season changed things. By landing the quadruple flip, Viktor would begin to usher in a new age of skating - one where a skater could land different types of quads. It broke the scoring system - if you had one skater who could land multiple quadruple jumps, how could anyone else compete? 

Of course, quads are not new to Yuuri. By the time he started seniors, the ‘quad revolution’ was already well underway. Science had shifted more focus on stabilising the jumps and adding to there consistency. 

He had an intimate love-hate relationship with the intensive jump, but after over a decade of being in the sport, quadruple jumps were as easy as breathing for him. He and Yura had made history by being the only two skaters in the world who had mastered every single quadruple jump - the toe-loop, salchow, loop, flip, lutz and the axel. 

But it would be fucking weird now if he, who had never landed a quadruple jump before, was suddenly able to land six different kinds, three of which had never been landed before. It feels like cheating, and something inside Yuuri squirms at the uncomfortable feeling in his stomach. 

Well, it’s not like he asked to be thrown back into the past. 

He exits the browser quickly, pushing himself away from the computer. 

It’s late September, so senior competitions wouldn’t have started yet but most Junior events were done and dusted. Viktor and Chris had yet to compete at their respective Grand Prix events, so it’s no wonder that in the past, Yuuri had quit whilst he was ahead. For him, the season was already over. 

Sighing, Yuuri bites back the embarrassment of typing his own name into Google. Finding only a few dozen hits or so, a huge contrast to Viktor, he clicks on his official profile on the JSF website. 

He’s still listed as competing at Juniors, which is a good sign that he hasn’t officially withdrawn from the season and ended his junior career prematurely. 

In the past, Yuuri had opted out of competing this year, instead preparing for the next year’s move to America and his senior debut. Of course, this was all because Nobu had decided to coach another skater.

After a quick cursory glance on the official JSF website, Yuuri finds that he’s still ranked as the best junior figure skater in Japan. Whilst it was ordinary for female skaters to move up to seniors when they were fifteen, male skaters tended to move once they were eighteen. By then, most of their bodies would be able to handle a quadruple jump, albeit, at the moment most skaters wouldn’t even bother. 

Yuuri sighs heavily. God, Viktor and Yuri truly were prodigies. He scoffs out a laugh. The teenage wonder duo, able to shut everyone up with a perfectly timed quadruple jump! 

Of all the years for Yuuri to block out, it just had to be this year. It comes to bite him in the ass. He can only remember it vaguely. 

Without the need for training, Yuuri had turned his focus towards his studies. He graduated high school with little fanfare, junior career ended on a stale note. His move to America was purely out of motivation to change everyone’s perspective around him - that he was worth the support of the federation and his country.  

Yuuri was already a has-been in juniors. It shocks him to this day that the JSF supported him as much as they did. He thinks of all the snide comments made at competitions - ” He’s a good skater, but what good is that if he’s mentally weak?” - “Why do they support him so much? -  “Think he bribes them?” - “No way, if he was, he’d be under one of the other clubs-” , - and flushes with anger. 

The federation had always been accommodating and kind to Yuuri. They had organised to find him a senior coach despite his bad showings the last few years. Then, they had somehow pulled Celestino, a well-known coach who himself was a three-time Olympic ice dance medalist. 

In the past, with nothing else to do, Yuuri had thrown himself into his studies in order to get a scholarship at any one of the Detroit universities. It meant that his tuition was paid for, so he and his parents only had to pay for accommodation of Celestino’s coaching fees, which in itself Yuuri later realised was lower than normal. 

Celestino had truly tried his best for Yuuri’s sake. The experience of Nobu had left a bitter taste in Yuuri’s mouth, and he closed himself off from Celestino. He didn’t accept any sort of help, to the point where he’d never been able to appreciate how good of a coach Celestino truly was. 

It’s no wonder that it had taken the divine intervention of Viktor, and all the absurdity that he brought, for Yuuri to forget about his own internal issues and do as well as he had. 

When Viktor had become his coach, Yuuri finally was able to prove that their support wasn’t a mistake. He’d done it in an explosion of stype, becoming the first Japanese male skater to win world titles, Grand Prix finals and an Olympic champion.

But, right now, he’s not that Yuuri. It’s always with hindsight that people realise how loved and supported they were.  

He’d only be eligible for juniors this year. There’s no telling how he would react if he saw Viktor again whilst competing at seniors - god, he might not even compete at seniors. He could crumble and fail, burst into tears or refuse to skate ever again. 

The Grand Prix Finals would host both seniors and juniors for the first time in history - this might be his last chance to be at the same competition as Viktor. This was his last chance. 

So Yuuri sits back, puts those college years he has under his belt to use, and researches. 

*** 

Google was a bust. 

Juniors wasn’t a highly reported field anyway, even more so when Yuuri wasn’t a favourite to win. There were only a few articles here and there that spoke about him, but when they did, Morooko-san’s name was always attached. Yuuri feels a flush of endearment at the familiar sight of the reporter’s name. Yet another person Yuuri had failed to notice was on his side.

Instead, he turns to Youtube. 

There had to be something that he could use, an uploaded video, commentary, anything. If push comes to shove, he knows Yuuko or Mari should have recordings of his more recent performances. 

But that was Plan Z. If they found out Yuuri couldn’t remember his programs, forget the ice, he’d be on a one-way trip to the hospital. 

Typing his name into the search bar is as humiliating as it always is, but Yuuri forces himself through it and clicks enter. 

It takes him scrolling to the end of the page before he finds a blurred thumbnail that looks slightly like a skater and the words ‘Katsuki Yuuri - JGP Vienna (FS)’ greets him. 

The Youtube channel has around a hundred subscribers, but it’s the name that catches his attention. 

IceCastle_Skates

Fucking hell. The apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree, it seems. 

A part of Yuuri wants to yell at Yuuko for ever uploading his videos online, but the part of him that needs this video is overwhelmed with relief.

He quickly opens up his drawer, searching for a notebook. Only finding a few bits of scrap papers and a pen with the nib half-dried, he sits back into his chair. He barely remembers his programs, but they can’t be that bad. 

***

Yuuri doesn’t even know how he got into the finals. Throwing his head into his hands, he squeezes his eyes shut. 

Lohengrin.   

How did he forget that his last season in Juniors was Lohengrin. 

The program was a horrible fit for the music, and there was absolutely no reference at all to the opera it was inspired by. All of the jumps were forced within short concession of each other, right at the beginning of the piece which did not work with the soft opening of violins. 

The music was dreamy, chivalric, a moment where a prince falls in love at first sight. It’s about elevation, extensions, arms circling in soft, delicate sweeps. It’s about romance

It was not about a bombardment of jumps that destroys all musical cadence like a capultated mess of limbs. 

Fury rises within Yuuri’s stomach. Call him a classical music snob, but Okukawa Minako did not raise a heathen. He cannot allow the butchering of any piece of music -  it makes his skin crawl

No wonder he’d dropped through the rankings - safe wasn’t even the word, the program was a complete bore. Sure, he was definitely a better skater now then when he was at age thirteen, but no amount of experience and perfect edges could make this program podium-worthy. 

Minako had been his choreographer since debut. This was most definitely not her work.

Sighing, Yuuri runs a hand through his hair, feeling disheveled. Vicchan, sensing his owner’s distress, hops down and circles around Yuuri’s feet in comfort. 

Nobu hadn’t thought Yuuri was capable of Minako’s choreography, but now he wonders if it was more of an ego-trip than about Yuuri’s ability. Nobu’s stint as a choreographer/coach was obviously not good. 

Whilst she was a harsh teacher, Minako-sensei had never told Yuuri he was incapable of doing something. She would break him down to all his weaknesses, but then teach him how to turn them into strengths. 

As he sits in his chair, in a room that’s both familiar and strange to him, Yuuri cannot help the immense anger that overcomes him. 

It had taken him being sent back to the past to realise it. Yuuri recognises the impact Nobu had on him as a skater. Impressionable and young, Nobu had ruined Yuuri’s already fraying confidence before his career had even started. It was no wonder that it took fucking Viktor Nikiforov to break through Yuuri’s shell. Immensely, he feels guilt towards Celestino. 

He wonders how different things would be, if he could be coached by him now , with Yuuri’s understanding and knowledge of himself. Yuuri is secure in his abilities, confident in ways that he never has been before. 

Nobu did not deserve to be a coach, especially for juniors. 

“Everything worked out in the end though,” Yuuri muses out loud, trying to expel his anger. His poodle tries to jump up into his arms, and Yuuri is quick to bring him into his lap. He lifts Vicchan up to his face, and starts to talk to him. 

“If I wasn’t suddenly thrown back to this specific moment, I wouldn't even have remembered his name. Don’t think he does well as a coach, Vicchan, all things considered..” 

Vicchan yips in response, lolling his tongue out cheekily. Yuuri breaks out into a grin. 

“You are completely right. A little pettiness never hurt anyone, did it?”

It takes some time, but after rewatching his performance video five times straight, Yuuri has noted down all the technical aspects of his program that he needs to change. 

The original choreography had been too adventurous in Nobu’s opinion, and by lowering the technical elements of the step sequences and the spins, Yuuri suffered both from a performative and a technical standpoint. 

He doesn’t want to think about the jump sequences. Yuuri knows that at this stage of his career, he can comfortably do all the triple jumps, (although his triple axel was a little shaky). But it’s not the technique that makes Yuuri groan, but the transitions

There is a clear difference between the jump section and the skating section. There is no flair, no integration between the technical elements of jumps and the choreographic sections. 

The program has long loading time between jumps which stuck out like a sore thumb in the middle of his program. It took away from the audience’s experience, and the component score suffered. 

For fucks sake, Nobu had made him do double axels when there were thirteen year olds doing triples.  

He begrudgingly admits that his programs aren’t bad - he has always been his worst critic -  but these programs are made for a thirteen year old, a junior skater in their first year of competing. 

Yuuri was seventeen - he had been in juniors for over four years now. 

These programs will not cut it. 

With the doctor’s note still fresh in his mind, Yuuri’s body itches impatiently with a desire to get back onto the ice. He’s sure that if he stepped foot in Ice Castle, Nishigori would grab him by the collar and drag him back home, probably injuring him more on the way. Minako-sensei would be even worse. Apparently, exercise extended to ballet too. 

“Guess the only option is to work on what I can. Step sequence it is.”  He tells Vicchan. “Come on, help me move the table and bed.” 

Vicchan yips by his side, watching as Yuuri rolls up his rug and pushes his bed closer to the window. He nudges away his side table, and is left with enough room to freely walk. The empty space is narrow and there’s barely any room, but Yuuri’s body is pulsing with the need to dance. 

Vicchan barks for attention, trotting towards Yuuri with his blue walkman clamped in his mouth. He sets it by Yuuri’s feet and looks up for praise, and who is Yuuri if he doesn’t oblidge? 

“Oh, you good boy. You’re such a good boy, my baby.” He showers Vicchan with affection, kissing the top of his head and scratching under his chin. Vicchan licks his hand in an attempt of a kiss, before allowing Yuuri to lift him onto the bed so he can settle by the pillows.  

The first notes of Wagner’s prelude resonate through his earphones and Yuuri closes his eyes, soaking up the atmosphere of the music. He lifts his head and raises his arms towards the ceiling. 

It’s quiet, and then the violins begin to ring. 

***

There is a long history of figure skating in Yuuri’s country. 

In the late 80s, skating was comparable to baseball, competing as one of Japan’s national sports. 

Sawamura Aiko, Takeshi Yuki, Honda Himari - these were just some of the powerhouse skaters who were able to establish Japan amongst the dominance of the European and American federations.

Sawamura had been the first Japanese skater in history to medal at ISU-officiated events, including a bronze at Worlds, and the only Japanese figure skater to win an Olympic medal, achieving the bronze after a close fight for silver with the Canadian skater, Maria Glenn. 

Takeshi had further cemented Japan’s place in the figure skating world by becoming the first male Japanese skater to qualify for the Grand Prix Finals, ranking in the top six of male skaters worldwide and thus proving that Japan was able to produce skaters from the two main disciplines. 

Then came Honda-san, who established herself as Japan’s most beloved figure skater by becoming the first skater to win silver at Worlds, so close to the gold. 

The single thread that connected the three was MSY. 

Musashi School of Skating, established in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. Osawa Skating Club, founded in the mountains of Saitama. And finally, Yamura Osaka, the renowned home rink of Sawamura Aiko, settled in her hometown. 

MSY was the epitome of elite figure skating within the country. They had affiliations with some of Japan’s most prestigious sports universities - if you were scouted by one of the three clubs, it meant that the JSF had an invested interest in you. You had potential. 

Likewise, if you were a coach under one of those clubs, the same was said about you. So, if it truly was Yamura that had offered Nobu a job, well - Yuuri couldn’t really hold it against him that much. Just being affiliated with one of the three clubs would set you up for success.

But despite this, there was one huge glaring void that taunted all three schools and the JSF for years

Despite being so well respected, despite having Olympians and Grand Prix finalists, Japan has never produced a senior champion . Ever. Not in ladies, pairs, ice dancing or mens. 

The closest had been Aiko-san, with her Olympic bronze, but even she failed to become a World champion. 

The three skating schools that boasted themselves as the greatest in the country were nonexistent at the international level. Those spots were taken entirely by the Europeans, Canadians and Americans, with China edging out Japan due to their dominance in pairs. 

It wasn’t until Viktor had started coaching Yuuri that the vacuum aws filled. He had thought it was Viktor’s presence, despite the grandness of MSY, nothing could beat having the Viktor Nikiforov backing you. 

Hindsight is a beautiful thing - now, he recognises the looks he was given. Those expressions of awe and admiration were not solely directed towards Viktor. 

For all intents and purposes, Yuuri Katsuki never should’ve been the one - Japan’s hero, their ace skater. He had broken out into the international field without the help of the top three skating schools even before Viktor had started coaching him.

And well, after that, the rest was history.  

He didn’t have the backing of Yumoto. He wasn’t one of the judges favourites like the Musashi skaters were or had the specialised facilities created for the skaters in Osawa. But he did have Viktor Nikiforov - and that in itself was worth more than anything the other clubs could try and throw their money to get. 

( “It’s because of Yuuri-senpai that I kept skating.” 

Minami gazed up at him. He had skated towards Yuuri, who was sitting on the edge of the ice rink as other skaters practiced their gala performances for Nationals, and looked perpetually happy just to be in his presence. Yuuri had won his second consecutive title, with Minami winning silver at his first senior outing.  

Minami, who was about to move up to seniors, had latched on to Yuuri as fast as he could, following the skater around during the practice session for the gala. 

“I know that you sometimes feel overwhelmed when I come over, but I just can’t help myself! You paved the way, senpai! You showed Japan that someone from outside of the major three could not only compete, but beat them. I won’t let your hard work go to waste, Yuuri-senpai!” He looked resolute, eyes steeled in determination. 

“I promise I’ll meet you at the international level! We’ll represent Japan together!” ) 

It fuels something in Yuuri, as he goes through marking out a new step sequence in the small space of his room. It’s been only thirty minutes and he’s out of breath, sweat forming on his forehead. Already, he knows that he’ll have to change his training regiment to accommodate his future plans, with an increased focus on stamina especially. 

After all, his kouhai is waiting for him. 

(Yura had screamed bloody murder when he had discovered Minami and Yuuri’s promise. Viktor had always made comments about the young Russian having a possessive streak that far outweighed that of his own, but it wasn’t until that moment Yuuri realised there was some truth to his husband’s banter. 

Yuri had made it his mission to destroy Minami in every single competition, going so far as to enter smaller events in order to allow another match up. And thus, the skating world welcomed the start of a fierce, albeit one-sided, rivalry.) 

Yuuri snorts at the memory, laughing at the thought of Minami and Yuri skating against each other again. He had gone to watch every competition between the two and the hilarity of Yura’s one-sided hatred was enough comedic enjoyment to last Yuuri a lifetime.  

God, he missed Yuri so much, almost as much as Viktor. 

He would be ten now, Yuuri realises. Not even eligible to compete at junior competitions. 

Was he even being trained by Yakov? When was it that he moved to St. Petersburg- was it eleven or twelve? Yuuri can’t remember, but by god, he doesn’t think he can wait three years to see him again. 

It would be an entirely new experience - this time, Yuuri could watch Yuri’s journey right from the start. 

There’s a warm feeling fluttering inside of his body. It takes a moment for him to realise that it’s excitement.  

He had been so holed up within his own misery that he hadn’t realised just how much he would be able to witness now that he knew the weight of those events. 

Yura’s junior debut, the start of Viktor’s brilliance - no matter how shit the situation is, the thought of seeing all of this first hand again fires him up. 

There is no word to describe this elation - the thought of seeing Yuri and Viktor, even if it’s from afar, would be enough to sate him. He wouldn’t get greedy and ask the universe for them to love him again. Just the fact he can see them, even if it’s from afar, was a blessing in itself.

It would be enough just to see them. But, in order to do that, Yuuri needed to get better, needs to be a good enough skater that he’ll be able to compete at the same level. 

It would only be a fraction of what Yuuri longs for, but that will have to do. 

Having them again in his life, even if he could only see them a handful of times a year during competitions, would settle his anxiety-ridden heart. In an ironic turn of events, Yuuri wishes time to pass by quicker. 

Even if he would become nothing to them in this timeline - if he’s just another skater in a crowd of magnificent athletes not worth their time - the physical sight of his boys would be enough. 

*** 

“Yuuri.” Toshiya’s eyes widens as he takes in the sight of his son slumping over one of the inn’s tables. It’s five in the morning. For all intents and purposes, Yuuri should be in his bed, sleeping .  

“Morning, tou-san.” Yuuri yawns, rubbing his eyes to wake himself up. “Do you need anything?”  

Toshiro can’t help the way his mouth drops open. 

“Tou-san?”

Toshiya gapes at the sound of Yuuri’s voice, “Are you feeling okay?” He says suddenly, rushing to his son’s side. “How long have you-” 

Toshiya cuts himself off, eyeing darting to the dark bags under his son’s eyes. He notices open notebooks strewn across the table, and Mari’s IPad next to them, open to what looks like a video of Yuuri practicing. 

His throat constricts with emotion. Mari had mentioned off-handedly that Nobu had gotten a better offer from another student in a bigger city. His son must’ve been up all night trying to figure out what to do, to see if there was another coach willing to take him on. 

He steels his feelings, turning his back to Yuuri so his son can’t see the tears welling in his eyes. “You can help me peel potatoes.” He says instead.  

Yuuri nods his head in response lethargically, body slumbering along as he follows his father’s footsteps into the kitchen. He’s half-awake, yawning repeatedly that Toshiya thinks he’ll fall over himself if he takes another step. But all Yuuri does is sit on the floor of the kitchen, crossing his legs under him as he methodically starts to peel the skin off the potatoes, one at a time. 

They sit in silence, Toshiya washing vegetables and Yuuri peeling them. He seems to become more alert as minutes pass, delving through the pounds of potatoes his mother would need for the morning breakfast. 

“I’m sorry, Yuuri-kun.” 

Toshiya’s voice breaks through the kitchen, and Yuuri looks up at his father in confusion. “About what?” His eyes are questioning, forehead furrowing. 

“About Nobu-san. I know how hard it was to find a coach that could stay in Hasetsu.”

“You don’t have to say sorry, tou-san.” Yuuri says firmly. “It’s not your fault.” 

“But still, let me at least say sorry about the situation.”  Toshiya sighs heavily.  “I know you’ll get through this, but as your father, I will always worry. Your mother and I can look into finding some money and set you up at one of those school-” 

“No.” 

Toshiya flinches. There is something different in his son’s eyes, a stubbornness that he has never seen before. Yuuri is resolute in his decision, and just as Toshiya opens his mouth to respond, Mari storms into the kitchen, mouth stretched out into a yawn.

“Sorry I’m late- AHHH!” She screams. “Tou-san, pinch me. I think I'm hallucinating.”

“Shut up.” Yuuri mumbles, the tips of his ears burning red. 

“No, no, no. I really think I’ve finally lost it.” Mari is wide awake, leering down at Yuuri with a leer. “My little ototo is such a big boy now, waking up before 3PM-”  

Mari yelps as Yuuri fires a potato at her head.  

*** 

Vicchan tugs demandingly at the leash connected to his collar, urging Yuuri to release him so he can frolic in the nearby flowers. Yuuri sighs at the demanding pup, unclasping the leash and letting his dog run free through the grass. 

He turns away, keeping one eye out for Vicchan, before settling on a small bench. He wipes away some sakura petals, and sits on the bench at the top of the hill. It overlooks the rest of Hasetsu, high above the small inner-pathways that converge together to make up the small seaside town. 

It’s early in the morning, earlier than Yuuri has been awake for a while now. As soon as his mother had seen him in the kitchen, he had been ushered out on a small errand. He’d delivered the fresh eggs from Sato-san’s farm back home, before taking over from Mari at the chopping station. His mother didn’t question his sudden proficiency with a knife, and instead went about preparing breakfast for the rest of the inn’s inhabitants.  

After a hearty meal of miso soup, Yuuri ushered Vicchan out of the inn for a small walk by the nearby hills of his house, needing to be alone to think without his parents fussing over him. As he looks over from the top, he lets the morning wind numb his cheeks. 

The view is insane, sunlight blinding him and showering the town in a hue of gold. Hasetsu has always been beautiful, it’s his home after all, but Yuuri can already feel the creeping sense of suffocation. The more he stays here, the more he feels like wasting away. 

No one really understood this feeling, not Yuuko or Takeshi who were both content with setting roots in their hometown. The only person who surprisingly did was Mari, but talking to her about this left a bitter taste in Yuuri’s mouth. 

Mari had wanted to pursue university, to leave Hasetsu and make a name for herself. In the end, even if she and his parents denied it, Yuuri knew she stayed because of him. 

The guilt never left him. It had sunk deep into his skin with every passing minute spent in Detroit, when he took the bus home from the rink, when he sat in classes, when he studied at the library. The shame he felt after years of failing to win a single competition whilst Mari had sacrificed her own chance ate him away.   

Mari’s grades weren’t the best, but she had scored decently at the university admissions test, enough to move to a community college in Saga. It would’ve been expensive, but doable. But at the end of the day, it was only ever Yuuri who had the actual means to leave Hasetsu. Their parents weren’t rich, and someone needed to stay behind to help with the inn. 

So, he had let his shame dictate that life. Not once, in the five years he had lived in America, did  he return home to visit Hsetsu. Flimsy excuses were the norm - he had deadlines, training was too time-consuming, anything to stop him from coming home empty-handed. 

And what did that lead to? By the time he returned, it was already too late. Vicchan was dead and his career was a mess. 

Mari’s face forms in his mind, suddenly. 

( “ Just because I stayed home doesn’t mean I’m not happy, Yuuri. I might not travel the world like you do, but there is a life to live in Hasetsu. It’s not the one I imagined for myself, but it’s the one I love.” She flicks her cigarette but on to the ground, turning to grin at him.

“Besides, if you feel guilty, how about introducing me to one of those cute skaters. What about that German-” )

Yuuri smiles at the memory, remembering how he had screamed about Mari catching a case and that he wouldn’t bail her out of jail. Minako had popped in suddenly, a bloodhound searching for the scent of a young man’s suffering and had demanded Yuuri introduce her too. It was hard to believe the twenty year age gap between the two with how they each fawned over all of Yuuri’s peers. 

Yuuri’s phone pings in his jacket pocket, bringing him out of his musings. It’s a Line notification from Chris. After fretting about the international fees of texting, Yuuri was able to convince his friend to download the app so they could talk more freely, internet usage fees notwithstanding. Apparently, Chris had taken that as an invitation to bombard Yuuri with message after message, leading to deep midnight conversations stemming purely from twitter gossip and reddit threads. 

This time, Chris sends a selfie of himself at his training rink in Lausanne. In it, he’s exuding charm, left eye closed in an exaggerated wink. 

 Chris

For my beloved Vicchan, so he doesn’t forget me. 

 

Yuuri laughs, filming a quick video of Vicchan who was currently chasing a butterfly. Christophe responds immediately, sending an explosion of emojis and hearts.  

Their sudden closeness was a new development, but one Yuuri is grateful for.

He had set up a steadily built rapport with Chris since his original call, a mix of easy texting and a huge abundance of pet pictures, especially one of Chris’ newly adopted cat, Mon Petit Chou. ( “It’s not actually his name. He’s got a birthmark on his head that kind of looks like a cabbage, and the nickname kind of stuck.) Chris had sent over a picture of Chou, a beautiful tabby cat with grey streaks running through his fur, and Yuuri in response had introduced him to Vicchan. 

That in itself meant that Yuuri had to reveal the mortifying reason behind Vicchan’s name, and now, Yuuri and Chris were united in their love over the one and only, Viktor Nikiforov. 

It was a breath of fresh air. Suddenly, Yuuri was able to express his love for Viktor to an equal participant. If he slips and calls him ‘the-love-of-his-life’, or ‘my husband’, well, Christophe would just double down and accept Yuuri as the crazy fan he was/is. 

It was nice, he realised, to have someone remind him of the outside world. Yuuri could say without a doubt now that Christophe was one of his closest confidants. There was a goal now, and it was only a matter of time before he could start skating again. 

First things first, he has to change his training schedule. 

Nishigori’s parents allowed him free reign over the ice rink as long as it didn't impeach on other people’s bookings.  Nishigori would usually email him over the timetable for the week every morning, and he would work around those slots. But with the work and school, there were less bookings at Ice Castle than ever, so Yuuri blessedly is left alone to practice. 

Yuuri groans at the sudden realisation. Shit. School. 

God, it’s been six years since he’s been in an academic setting. “Maybe this isn’t a blessing, Vicchan.” Yuuri scowls. “It’s a curse.” 

School was a different type of hell created purely to tortue him. When he decided to take a break from skating, Yuuri had realised that he had no friends in his class at all. Nishigori had already graduated, Yuuko the year before. 

Competitions were his only respite. There’s no way in hell he was going to miss out on this season. Having to interact with new people? At least at competitions, he could stay by himself under the guise of being a competitive antisocial. But, trying to make friends with his classmates? No thanks. Yuuri could do without the mortification. 

There’s an added pressure now, he registers. Before, because of his lack of friends, Yuuri had spent his free time alone and studying. In the end, it worked well in his favour, earning him a scholarship to an American university near his rink. But now, things are different. 

This time around, Yuuri would still be competing. So here comes the big question - how the fuck is he going to balance school and training? 

It’s times like this where Yuuri has to remind himself that he’s not actually a teenager, but a twenty-nine year old man who has graduated with first class honours. 

He’s already suffered through university, a few months of high school would be nothing. 

“It’ll be fine.” Yuuri clenches his fists, lips pursed in determination. “I can do it.” 

***




Chapter Text

Yuuri is a scientific phenomenon. 

He had been the first in his family to graduate university. The first skater of Asian descent to become the Olympic champion in figure skating. He had suffered through the mortification of his husband finding out about the limited-edition shrine Yuuri had of him. He had lived through a time-travel-inducing car accident that literally shook the pillars of reality! Yuuri had made history

And it’s a fucking high school assigment in Japanese History that finally kills him. 

He slams his head hard on the desk, closing his burning eyes. His vision swirls with Edo-period wars and historical figures with swords. All he wants to do is be on the rink. Yuuri can’t believe he’s such a jock. 

Yuuri was still stuck home recuperating, which meant that there were piles and piles of untouched home lessons left to be handed in by next week when he does return back to school. 

He’d already graduated with a bachelor's degree, a worksheet on the philosophical and intellectual development of Neo-Confucianism during the Edo-period couldn’t be as bad as a morning lecture on the financial operations of corporate America. After all, he’s technically done this worksheet already.  So why does it feel like his brain is turning into acid and squeezing out of his ears? 

“Yuuri-kun.” 

His mother is a welcome distraction, knocking on his door and entering with slices of apples cut to look like rabbits. She places the plate beside his work, kissing the top of his head. 

“How’s it going, my dear?”

“My brain is about to explode.” 

“Well, try not to get any brain-guts on my floor then.” She laughs lightly, turning to leave the room. She leaves Yuuri alone to stab at his apples, munching away distractedly.

Studying is not going well, and if it continues this way, there’s no way he’ll get a scholarship. International fees were expensive already, and there’s no way his parents would be able to afford to pay for his tuition and training fees.

Ripping out a page of his notebook, Yuuri starts to make a schedule. 

Yuuri knows what works best for him training-wise. Unlike Viktor and Yura, who’s brains worked in ways Yuuri could never understand, he was an amalgamation of repetition and practice. He would need as many hours on the ice as he can get. If he does an hour before school in the morning, that would increase his on-ice practice immensely. But it would also mean he’d have to wake up early - the thought makes him want to throw up, but the extra hours for practice is enticing enough to stomach the morning alarm calls.  

If he takes his uniform with him to the rink, he could always shower at Ice Castle instead of heading home, which would cut huge chunks of time travelling. But it would also mean that he’d have to take breakfast with him. He’d have to sort out his food intake as well - his teenage body was gangly, with baby fat surrounding his cheeks - but with the kind of exercise he’d be implementing, he’ll need the extra carbs to build up muscle. 

The distance between Ice Castle and his school was also a little longer than from his home, so he makes an additional note of the added time to travel. It’ll probably be best to bring his bike along instead of walking like he usually does; which Yuuri then underlines - it’ll be an added exercise to help with his endurance. 

Then, he could have the usual hours at the rink after school. He had a key to Minako-sensei’s studio, so ballet training could happen straight after. That would mean he’d finish by seven. If he studies before bed, he should have just enough time to cover everything. 

But Yuuri knows the reality - if studying is anything like today, forget getting a scholarship, he might not even pass. He needs to be efficient. 

Digging into his desk’s drawers, he trawls through miscellaneous junk and empty chocolate wrappers. He pulls them out, resting them on top of his table. There is a ghost, warm against his side - “I can’t believe my husband is a slob- Yuuri, please throw away your tra-”  

He slams his hand against the table, squashing the wrappers flat against the table. Something horrible rises in his throat, like a serpent coiling around his neck and tightening with every second passing. He shoves the wrappers to the floor, fingers trembling, hoping the emotions will follow suit. 

Sifting further into the draw, his fingers meet something smooth. Yuuri sighs in relief, grasping the discarded, laminated booklet. He fucking found it. There was a moment where he feared he’d thrown it away.  

The cover is covered in a sheen of plastic, but the papers underneath are loose and wrinkled, edges ripped at random angles. It had been untouched for months, wasting away in the back of Yuuri’s draw. 

Every year, Yuuri’s homeroom teacher would give out the year’s syllabus, complete with module topics for each subject, as well as examination dates and assignment deadlines.  

Like everything else unimportant, Yuuri had abandoned it along with school festival fliers and the odd teacher’s note that he definitely didn’t want his parents to see at the back of his desk drawer. It wasn’t important, until now

Finals would be in March, which means he’ll have to relearn everything he’d forgotten plus study for all the new content he’d be taught as well. That's a whole year of curriculum he needs to cram into his head with only six months to spare. Plus, he’ll have to prepare for the TOEIC exam if he wants to enter an international university, and then there would be the dreaded National High School Entrance Examinations, capitalized because they still instill fear in Yuuri to this day. 

This discarded, crinkled, abandoned thing is Yuuri’s ticket to America.

He pulls out a fresh notebook, Mari’s old highlights working overtime, and underlines every key component of the modules that he’ll have to re-learn. His old notes are barely legible, so he makes a mental note to drop by the library when he walks Vicchan later and pick up some textbooks to re-do them. 

But when he adds everything together, there’s not enough time. The only way he could get the scholarship is if he gives up his weekend training for studying.  

It’s a thought that makes Yuuri’s stomach twist. 

He has so much he has to do, so much to work. It’s all so overwhelming. The extra time spent practicing on the weekend is invaluable, and the perfectionist in Yuuri squirms at the idea of missing hours of practice.

But this Yuuri, who’s twenty nine and not seventeen, knows that in order to win the war, you’d have to lose some battles. Even if his body calls to the ice, he sits back, and does what adults do. He gets over it. 

 

***

Okukawa Ballet Studio,

Hasetsu, Kyushu, Japan

 

“That good for nothing fucker !” 

Yuuri winces at the volume of Minako’s cursing. It’s been two weeks since his accident, and Nakamura-sensei had finally given him the green light to start light training again. That meant no active skating training until next week, but he was alright to start ballet again under Minako’s stern teachings. 

Stretched out in Minako’s studio, Yuuri’s pleasantly surprised about his younger body’s flexibility. He extends into a low plié, hands gently gripping the barre as he lunges to the floor slowly. Already his mind is thinking of new ways to use his flexible legs in new spin variations. 

He tries to ignore Minako as she paces back and forth in rage. With a snort, he thinks that if she were a cartoon character, there would be steam exploding out of her ears and nose. 

“It won’t take that long to get to Osaka. I still have that baseball bat from high school.”

“Sensei, it’s an eight hour drive. You hate driving.”

Minako takes no heed to his comments. Instead, she grunts frustratedly, pushing up her glasses that had fallen down to the bridge of her nose. She turns back to Yuuri, hands on her hips, scowl ever present. “Where is the fucking loyalty? In the middle of a season too!”

Minako-sensei .” Yuuri drops from his stretch, stopping her tirade. “Everything’s going to be alright.” 

She sighs heavily, turning instead to sit down next to Yuuri. He slides down next to her, crossing his legs so that their knees were touching. The warmth radiating from his teacher had always calmed Yuuri, a welcoming touch similar to Mari’s. Regardless of anything, Minako was family, perhaps some kind of crazed-aunt figure. Not quite motherly, but something akin to respect formed by friendship and trust had bloomed between the two after years together. 

“I’m sorry, Yuuri-kun. You’re probably more upset than I am. It’s just-  ever since Nobu started training you, you’ve been in a slump. I didn't even know if you liked skating anymore, and that scared me more than you leaving ballet. Nobu- Nobu’s never been a good teacher for you. I feel horrible to say this, but I’m kind of glad that he’s not coaching you anymore - but to leave you in the middle of a season is abhorrent .” 

She rubs the crink in the back of her head, rolling her neck to release the built-up tension. “Have you got in touch with the JSF?”

Yuuri groans a guttural noise of anguished pain. “I’ve been sending them emails - they’ve been kind enough to say they’d try and look for a coach, but it’s too short of a notice, especially since the season’s already started. The JSF might not have a problem with me competing coachless at Nationals, but the ISU is really strict with juniors.” 

“Besides... “ He knocks his head back against the wall, feeling Minako’s eyes follow him. “They’re worried about my accident. They haven’t said it to my face, but I know even they think it would be best to withdraw.” 

Minako winces. “It’s all Nobu’s fault. If I ever see him again, you better have bail money ready because I’ll be on the news for murder.” 

Yuuri folds his body forward, wrapping his arms around his knees. He doesn’t look at his teacher. “There is… another possibility.” 

“What? If you say you’re taking him back, I will kill you too.” Minako's eyes flare. 

“Well, technically , as long as someone’s name is on the paperwork, anyone could be my coach. Young skaters are coached by their parents all the time.”

“So, who are you- No.” 

“Sensei.”

“No.”

“Please!” Yuuri grabs her arm before she can move away from him. He’s pouting up at her with those big, brown eyes, and Minako clenches her eyes closed as fast as possible. He shakes her arm, pleading. “You’re my only hope.”

“You mean the only option.”

“The best option. Besides, if I withdraw, Nobu and the fucking system would win.” 

She cracks a single eye open. Trust Minako’s liberal, anti-capitalism qualities to push out. 

“...”

“Sensei, I mean it. Don’t you think it’s a little strange that he left so suddenly?”

“... Go on.” 

Yuuri sighs, before pulling his phone out and pulling up the Junior rankings. “Look, I only got in because that skater from Czech was disqualified, which meant that I’m now ranked sixth. But who’s seventh?” 

“Suzuki Hideo-” Minako cuts herself off. “Motherfucker . The thirteen year old from Yamura?” 

“Which is in Osaka.”  

“I am going to kill him.”

Or, you could help me make his career a laughing stock.” Yuuri pointedly ignores Minako’s -” he already is” - “To do that, I need you. It’ll only be for this season. I’m already in the process of looking for a senior coach.” 

“Yuuri, I’m a ballet teacher.”

“It’ll only be for a few months.” 

“But why me ? If you can have anyone listed as your coach, I’m sure Nishigori’s father would be more than happy to accompany you like he did when you first started.”

Yuuri didn’t want to resort to this, but his teacher deserved the truth. “I need your name , sensei.” 

“... what?”

“I need to make the JSF trust me again. If I have the famed ballerina, Okukawa Minako, backing me, I know they’ll be more supportive. It’s just for a few months of competitions. Please.” 

Minako looks away. 

Minako- sensei.” 

She closes her eyes, tilting her head back so it rests against the mirror, conceding. “Fine! Okay, you little piece of shit! We’re going to destroy that traitor together.”

Yuuri grins up at her, relief flooding his entire body. 

“This all sounds great, but we’re still stuck at square one. I have no idea how to coach you, I have no skating experience to help you with.” 

“But you’re a damn good teacher.” Yuuri misses the way Minako blushes at the compliment, already tuned into all of his plans for the season. “You don’t have to worry about anything, I’ll figure out the rest. First order of business - changing the programs.”

“... changing the what?”

“Oh, did I not tell you?” Yuuri turns on the heels of his feet, rushing to grab his bag. 

“Yuuri-”

“Come on, Coach. We need to get to the rink.”

“Katsuki Yuuri!” 

*** 



@YuRi_Katsu03

Any updates on Yuuri’s condition?

3 🗨️  2 ⟲ 10 ♡

 

@Suzuki-Sara 

@YuRi_Katsu03 No statement released, but there’s rumours on JPN twitter. I’m not the best at translating tho 

4 🗨️  1 ⟲ 12 ♡

 

@YuRi_Katsu03 

@Suzuki-Sara What’s going on?!!! 

2 🗨️  15 ⟲ 22 ♡

 

@Suzuki-Sara

@YuRi_Katsu03 According to the official JSF website, Nobu is no longer listed as Yuuri’s coach, so that’s basically a confirmation he won’t compete at Nationals or JGP Finals unless he’s signed with someone new

1 🗨️  32 ⟲ 78 ♡

 

@YuRi_Katsu03

@Suzuki-Sara So he’s ending his junior career just like that? Do we even know what the accident was? 

3 🗨️  58 ⟲ 10 ♡

 

@Suzuki-Sara

@YuRi_Katsu03 There’s still no information about it, but rumours say he got hit by a truck.

6 🗨️  12⟲ 12 ♡

 

@YuRi_Katsu03

@Suzuki-Sara A TRUCK?! 

3 🗨️  10 ⟲ 13 ♡

 

@Suzuki-Sara

@YuRi_Katsu03 It doesn’t seem like it’s that big of an injury, but then again, if he’s going to be okay, why would he split with Nobu? And it /was/ a car accident. 

2 🗨️  12 ⟲ 14 ♡

 

*** 

A week later 

Ice Castle Skating Rink, 

Hasetsu, Kyushu, Japan 

 

“Are you sure he should be on the ice?” Yuuko frowns as Yuuri runs lap after lap around the empty ice rink. 

He skates gracefully, all eyes trained on him despite the fact that he’s just doing some simple skating drills. Minako grumbles next to her, tugging her jacket tightly around her body and Yuuko huddles closer for warmth. The chill of the rink doesn’t seem to affect Yuuri, who’s clad in a short black t-shirt and matching leggings. Yuuko’s eyes follow the way the fabric clings to his every muscle, and well, Yuuko may be married, but she isn’t blind. 

“Nakamura-san said he’s perfectly healthy.  His scans came back clean, and there’s no pain. Besides, I don’t think even the doctor could keep Yuuri off the ice.” Minako sighs. “Anyway, what about you? Is Nishigori looking after the girls?”

“Kaa-san is. Takeshi should be manning the reception.” 

“How’s your sleep been?” Minako grins at the twist of disgust in Yuuko’s expression. 

“You try putting up with three one-year olds. One wakes up, screams her lungs out, the other two wake up. I would’ve come to visit Yuuri at the hospital sooner, but-”

“They’re already one?! Damn.” Minako shivers in fear. “And Yuuri knows you’ve got your hands full with the girls- oh, looks like he’s finally realised that you’re here.” 

Yuuri seems to be ending one of his many drills, noticing Yuuko’s presence as he shouts her name. He’s by the rinkside in a second, all wide-eyed smiles and flushed cheeks. 

“When did you come?!”

“Just now, Takeshi dropped me off before he started work. How are you feeling?”

Yuuri just smiles that soft smile of his, where he doesn’t want to answer but politeness deigns him to respond anyway. It’s a shyness that he’s always carried with him, and Yuuko is once again overcome with the same sense of protectiveness she first met Yuuri when he was five.  

“I’m all set for training. I see there’s no whirlwinds of chaos around causing havoc?”

“Maybe I should bring them over next time?” Yuuko grins at the flustered look on Yuuri’s face. “They miss their favourite Uncle.”

“Shunpei-san would be devastated.” 

Yuuko rolls her eyes at the mention of Takeshi’s wayward cousin, who has yet to come and see the triplets. “Don’t mention him. Tell me what’s going on? I feel so out of the loop! You’re not excluding me now that I’m busy with motherhood, are you?”

“Never.” Yuuko falters at the sound of complete assurance in Yuuri’s voice. There is that familiar feeling rising in her throat ever since she has had her babies, and like always, she clamps it down. Instead, she lets out a blinding smile. She is Ice Castle’s Madonna. It would be no good to burst into tears over something so silly. 

Yuuri takes one of her hands, holding it loosely. There is no reassurance in it, but he is warm and there. “I have something for you, a present for you, Axel, Lutz and Loop. Just let me warm up for another five minutes.” 

“Please stop calling them by their prenatal names. It’s bad enough that Takeshi does it at home, do you know that Asami-chan doesn’t respond to us unless we call her Axel-” 

“But it fits! They’ll be skate otakus like their parents!”

Yuuri swiftly dodges Yuuko’s punch, grinning at her friend. “Turn on the music when I signal you so I can show you what I’ve created for Asami, Katsumi and Megumi. It’s your present too.” 

Yuuko crosses her arms, pouting, but there is a softness to her glare. “Alright, off to the stage! Leave us girls alone.” 

Yuuri cackles, gives Minako a fist pump before turning back to the ice. 

The two are quiet for a moment, taking in Yuuri as he begins some simple exercises. He seems to be doing figures, eyes trained on the turn of his skates as he scratches shapes into the ice. 

“So,” Yuuko breaks the silence, hand curling over the rink-edge. She’s jittery all over, prepared to rush towards Yuuri at any sight of a single tremor. “Is it true that Yuuri put you down as his coach?” 

Minako is silent, before she nods once in confirmation. 

“It’s true, then?” Yuuko stills, her hands gripping the rink-edge tightly. “About Nobu-san leaving?”  

Minako turns rigid at the name. “Yeah.” She says with an air of finality. 

Yuuko sighs heavily. “What are we going to do?” 

Minako raises an eyebrow at the use of the word ‘we’, a small smile etching on her face. “Yuuri said he’s figured something out, but I don’t know if that’s him trying to stop us from worrying or if he’s actually sorted it out. The JSF have been hounding him about his plans, and they only relented when Yuuri said he’d decide if he’ll compete at the finals after Nationals.” 

Yuuko’s eyes widened in shock. “Are you serious? But he won that place fair and square!” 

Minako turns back to watch Yuuri. “I hate to be an adult, but let’s look at it from their point of view. The federation loves Yuuri. There’s no way they don’t - not with the way they supported him after he self-destructed from the pressure of being the No.1 Junior skater after Giacometti left for seniors.” 

“But the reality is that he’s seventeen and failing to medal at junior competitions. By this age, Yuuri should either be unstoppable or already moving up to seniors. If he’s failing now, what hope does the JSF have for him in seniors when the competition is even more intense?”

“In their minds, it might be best to put their faith in a new skater and see how Yuuri does in seniors. Besides, there are no prominent senior skaters within Japan. They’ll want Yuuri to move up as soon as possible.” 

“But this is all because of Nobu!” Yuuko’s voice is an explosion of rage, and Minako pats her uncomfortably on the shoulder. She’s never been good with comfort, but anger - anger Minako can work with. 

Yuuko crosses her arms, huffing. “Listen, I don’t want to sound like I’m piling the blame on anyone else, and I didn’t want to say anything during it because Nobu moved all the way to Hasetsu just to train Yuuri. But , it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if a student goes from having a one-point difference to the world champion and then barely scraping into the GP Final the next year, there is a problem. Blame it on Yuuri’s growth spurt or not, there is an evident miss-step somewhere in the coaching area.” 

“I’m not saying you're wrong, Yuuko. The two didn’t work as a coaching team, despite our best hopes, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Besides-” Minako stops speaking, leaning down towards Yuuko so the two are the only ones who can hear her. “There’s something different about Yuuri now.” 

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” Minako turns towards Yuuri, and Yuuko follows her gaze. “I don’t know if it’s a mindset change, but I’ve never seen him this… focused so early in the season.” 

Yuuko’s eyes widened in realisation. “Wait, do you think it’s because of the way Nobu-san left?”

Minako’s frowns at her, but Yuuko’s brain is going into overdrive. “Sensei! Think about it - if there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s that Yuuri’s probably the pettiest person I know! Remember when Takeshi locked him in the storeroom when we were kids? Next time we went out on to the rink, he put beetles inside his skates. Takeshi is still traumatised to this day.”

Minako snorts at the anecdote, before her brain quickly follows Yuuko’s thought process. “If Nobu really did leave Yuuri so that another skater would be chosen for the Finals, Yuuri sure as hell won’t let him get there easily.” 

The two of them jolt at the sudden sound of Yuuri shouting from the other side of the rink. 

“Yuu-chan!” Yuuri screams out towards them, in an obvious attempt at signalling. Yuuko ignores Minako’s guffaw - “ That’s not a signal, stupid boy” - before turning back to Yuuri. “Can you hook up my IPod to the speakers? It’s the song I was listening to last!”  

Yuuko nods, sliding the arrow until it pulls up the passcode screen. She thinks about yelling at Yuuri for the passcode, before a sly grin stretches across her face. Gotcha . She thinks, tapping in Viktor Nikiforov’s birthday and watching as the IPod unlocks itself.  

Minako snorts next to her, equally as amused. Yuuko brings up iTunes, makes sure that it’s properly connected to the speaker, before throwing another thumbs up to Yuuri. 

She glances at the song title, frowning when she doesn’t recognise it. It might be some kind of classical song, but the title is written in English characters and she can’t recognize the artist’s name. 

Minako and Yuuko stand by the rinkside, each tuned into Yuuri as he stands in the middle of the rink. He’s quiet for a moment, eyes opening as the first stroke of piano keys plays. Minako inhales sharply. 

Whilst the notes are playful, there is a sombreness to Yuuri’s extensions, curling to hide himself like a masked person. He smiles, creating a character shrouded in satire, before the notes lift up, and with it Yuuri pushes himself higher, twisting his body with every arch of the notes. 

She has never heard this piece before, but Yuuri inhibits every note within the song. It changes suddenly, plummeting into a darkness, a sadness that seems all-encompassing. Yuuri rushes into a step sequence of madness, turning with incredible speed as if he is reaching for something, something that is just out of his grasp. 

Suddenly, he is alone, playing with the music. Where it was once playful, now he is devastatingly alone, with only the sound of a single person playing the piano left. Yuuri stands, alone, center stage. 

A hand grasps her arm, clenching it so tightly Minako can feel the circulation begin to cut. Yuuko has turned her face away, but Minako sees the shuddering of her chest, her other hand covering her face. 

“That… did the two of you come up with that... for me?”

“It wasn’t me, Yuuko. I- I’ve never seen this piece before.”

Yuuko inhales sharply, her neck cracking as she turns to Yuuri who is hunched over, breathing heavily after the routine. “Then… Yuuri choreographed it? How- how did he know-”

Yuuko shuts her mouth, hand tightening on Minako’s arm. She needs something to ground her, something that will stop her from doing something crazy, like running onto the ice in her trainers to fling her arms around her best friend. 

Yuuri skids to the two of them, and allows Yuuko to do just that. She tightens her arms, ignoring Yuuri’s yelp of pain. He stops struggling a moment later, relaxing into the hug. 

Yuuko feels hands curling around her neck, warm and consoling. “I see you, Yuuko. You’ve done so well. I’m proud of you.”

There is so much emotion bursting within her. Her girls are her life. But Yuuko is only twenty years old. There is a small part of her, a horrible, horrible part that misses who she was before. Before she became the ‘Triplet’s mother’. Before her body would ache with every step she took. A weight she has been carrying lifts when she pulls away from Yuuri’s arms.

“Again”

Yuuri rolls his eyes, makes a huge show of scowling at his tear-soaked shoulder. “So insistent.”

“The Madonna demands it.” 

“Yes, your highness.” He twirls away, bowing exaggeratedly before going back to the middle to start the program again. 

The music starts up again, and Yuuko has composed herself enough to face Minako. “He’s insane. Did you know he could choreograph like that?”

“Never.” It’s the first word Minako has said in a while, and Yuuko notices the slight tremor in her voice. The two of them are soon engrossed in Yuuri’s program.

There is a sudden moment where everything clicks in Yuuko’s brain. She gasps loudly. 

“This- this is a program. A short program at least!” 

“What?”

“Look, that’s a step sequence, and those are definitely spins he’d do in competition. And those moments, where he just turns in the ice. They don’t look like part of the program but-”

Minako narrows her eyes, paying attention to every stretch of Yuuri’s limb. Already, she feels the inadequacy of not being a skater flame up inside her. “What do you see , Yuuko?” 

“He’s marking out jumps. But there’s no way that this is a program, there’s are too many step sequences-”

“No.” Yuuko looks up sharply at the sound of awe in Minako’s voice. “That’s exactly what he’s showing us.” 

“... I know Yuuri loves step sequences, but he’ll have to cut them out for jump transitions.”

“Exactly.” 

Yuuko tilts her head, confused. “Yuuko, those steps are his transitions. He’s cut out the loading times completely. If he’s able to land the jumps like that - forget increasing the GOE, the performance- God, look Yuuko! He's not even competing - it’s like an exhibition piece, but better!” 

She’s never seen Yuuri skate like this - his spins, his speed, it takes everything in Minako not to collapse on the floor. 

“Wait- hold on, just give me a moment.” Yuuko’s mouth drops open in astonishment as Minako grabs onto her shoulder tightly. “This is- It’s completely different. This isn’t his short program, at all!” Minako gapes as Yuuri hits every note, arms raised as he finishes a completely different routine. 

Sugoi !” Yuuko screams, slamming her hands repeatedly on the boards. “ Sugoi Yuuri-kun!” 

Yuuri waves her off, skating slowly towards the board. Considering he’d just done two run-throughs of what is definitely a short program, he is barely winded, and Yuuko watches in wonder as he easily takes the drink she holds out to him. 

He turns back towards the ice, skating on one foot, before looking towards them again. How he isn’t exhausted, she’ll never know- “I need to increase my endurance levels, my stamina is shit.”  - Yuuko blinks her eyes slowly, retracting her thoughts. 

She lifts a finger and pokes one of his chubby cheeks. “You’re so lifelike.”

“I’m not a robot Yuuko!” 

Yuuri turns towards his teacher waiting for her comments before his face turns white at her expression. “Sensei?!”

“Oh my god, Minako-sensei are you crying? Quick! Have some water!” 

“I’ll get some tissues!”

“What? Yuuko don’t leave me! Sensei, what’s wrong? Was it really bad?”

“Shut up, you useless student!” Minako blows loudly into a tissue, slapping Yuuri’s arm hard. He cringes at the pain, rubbing it. 

“We are going to obliterate Nobu and those fucking schools into dust.”

***

Chapter Text

It’s exhilarating, the feel of air running through Yuuri’s hair as he glides across the ice. 

He was right in thinking that his younger body would be faster - it takes him only three crossovers before he’s on the other side of the rink.  He’s barely out of breath with the speed coming into and out of his spins, and already his brain is running through new ideas for spin variations he could accomplish. 

But adding it all together - the one glaring issue was his stamina. He was able to do isolated elements, he could do different types of spins and step sequences perfectly, but when he tried to combine them all together into a program, Yuuri found himself becoming extremely winded by the middle. 

This was where Minako came in - he ends up spending more time at her studio than he ever has, utilising her teachings and applying it to the rink. His spins and skating skills flow beautifully, only enhanced by his new focused training in ballet. There’s also the added benefits of his core strength increasing, all coming together to support Yuuri as he does his routines on the ice. He finds his body naturally taking to the air once he just stops and doesn’t think about it.

Finding his body capable of the foundational parts of skating, Yuuri turns to focus on how to enhance his skating elements. It’s a particularly gruelling training session, one with only Yuuko there to support him. Without a coach to point out his flaws, Yuuri makes sure that she’s there recording every jump attempt he tries. He attempts different entries into the triple axel, aided only by the memories he has of his future self. 

The triple axel, with its three and a half rotations, was essentially a quadruple jump without the name. The transition into the element was always ;long-winded, used in order to allow time for the skater to switch from the back foot to the leading foot and use that momentum to propel their bodies into the air. 

So, it’s noteworthy when a skater does do a transitional move within a jump entry. If a skater does a counter-turn in the midst of a load up to a quad jump, the grades of execution would skyrocket . Why wouldn’t the same apply to the axel? 

Viktor himself only added transitional elements to his jump entries on anything that wasn’t an axel, leaving the triple with a prolonged transition space to ensure a good landing. He always made up those extra points with the other jumps. There was no need to go crazy with transitions when his base value was already higher than the rest of the competition. It was a calculated move, but one that worked. 

Minimum effort, maximum reward. That was Yakov, and by extension Viktor’s, coaching moto. 

But that wasn’t Yuuri’s style

Adding to the transitions leading up to jumps was inviting you to fuck up the jump elements. You wouldn’t have the time to properly set up your jump’s axis because you’ve just entered into it with twizzle spins. You’d have to think of every turn, every move. It would make the axis of the jump harder to control, plus when factoring in speed, the added level of difficulty would leave more room for error. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be worth the deduction for the falls. 

If landed correctly however, it would change the whole routine. 

Figure skating is a point-based sport, but it was also subjective and performative . Every single 1/8 of a mark counted. And if Yuuri could add these transitional elements in between his jumps, his competitive programs would become performances. It would influence the audience and the judges, whilst bolstering his technical points and performance scores. 

For most, adding transitional elements into their loading time for the triple axel would’ve been suicidal. But for Yuuri, the prolonged time between the jumps would seed doubt in his mind, and when the time came for him to jump, fear would ruin him. 

It was Yakov who figured it out, with all of his years of experience as a coach, he had noticed that there was no issue with Yuuri’s skills but his mindset. 

Yuuri had tended to view jumps as isolated elements of his program, rather than an integrated part of the performance. No-one had noticed it because Viktor’s choreography for both Eros and Yuri on Ice already implemented some of these transitional elements already. Yakov had pulled Viktor aside, and together, they had changed the layout of Yuuri’s performances. 

In a strange turn of events, by adding what for any skater would be ridiculously hard elements, such as transitional steps between Yuuri’s jumping patterns, his success rates for jumps increased by over 90%. 

(“ See, kid.” Yakov’s voice was gruff, but there was a glint in his eyes as he smugly turned towards Viktor. “You’ve still got a lot to learn about coaching.” 

Yura had glowered, eyes turning into slits as anger rolled off him in waves. “Why am I not surprised that the only way to make jumps easier for Katsudon is to make them harder . That doesn’t mean he’ll defend his world title. YAKOV! Teach me how to do a back counter into an axel! NOW!” ) 

It was just an added bonus that the GOE increased. Soon, it would become a signature part of Yuuri’s skating technique, with spectators and critics alike in awe of his pieces. Suddenly, a skater who was known for his artistic but lacking technical ability, was renowned as an all-round skater who could do both. 

His programs were defined by their flow in between every jump, with virtually no set-up. Every stroke on the ice was intentional. He was renowned for it - he mixed artistry, spins and steps with the technical advancements of quadruple jumps. He made every single one of his jumps integrated within the performance. 

Most skaters would use huge crossovers in order to prepare for the quadruple jumps, ones that were definitely needed in order to land them, but because of this, programs became a waiting game for when the next jump would happen - they weren’t performances

At a time when questions were raised about the artistry of figure skating and the overreliance of quadruple jumps as a one-way ticket for medals, Yuuri Katsuki was a shining anomaly, the sole skater who merged the two aspects of the sports together perfectly. And so, he spends the next two weeks trying to become that person again. 

Because that was the Yuuri of another world. Things are different now. He is not an Olympic champion, he has not won multiple world titles. This Yuuri is a seventeen-year old has-been junior skater. 

He won’t need quads - in fact, junior skaters were actively prevented from doing them, even when Yura was a junior. Their bodies were not mature enough yet. Of course, Viktor was a prodigy, landing his first quadruple jump when he was sixteen- and even then, it was against the wishes of both the federation and Yakov. Yura threw a wrench into things further, landing the salchow at age fourteen. But they had a party of the best figure skating trainers and facilities that money could buy. 

Yuuri was alone, wholly unsupervised within the palace walls of Ice Castle. 

He still remembers the horror of discovering Yura one night at Sports Champion, attempting the quad axel after seeing Yuuri land it in practice. Alone

The screaming match that resulted between the two ended in Yuuri refusing to talk to the young skater for over a week. It had been a tense time at the rink, with Yakov taking Yuuri’s side once he found out what had happened. It had only ended when Yura had promised to only train for the jump with supervision.

Quads meant a greater risk of injury. When a skater throws their body into a jump, they land with four-to-five times their bodyweight , cushioned only by a single, two-cm thick blade. It was why technique was so important. Figure skating is one of the riskiest and injury-prone sports in the world.

And now, Yuuri’s muscles are unrefined. His famed stamina is a thing of the past (or is it future?), barely keeping up with the new step sequences he’s created. It would be dangerous to try to add a quadruple jump. And an injury is something Yuuri can’t risk. 

If his memory serves him right, Christophe would land a quadruple toe this season during the GP Finals, edging out Cao Bin for silver. If things progressed the same as it did before, this would be the moment that Viktor would take notice of Christophe as something other than a the new kid on the block, he would become a competitor . And that was essentially a calling-card that you were on the track to greatness. Their resulting friendship was inevitable. 

But even with a quad in his arsenal, Christophe was only a few points off from Cao Bin, who didn’t even have one.  Besides, Chris had yet to gain consistency with the jump. So was it even worth trying to develop a quad, when the guy who’s close to beating you does it with triples?  

Right now, artistry is what scores. So that’s what Yuuri will focus on. It’s not unheard of for a seventeen year old to do quads, but it’s not necessary, not at this moment in time. There is no good in becoming overzealous. 

First and foremost, Yuuri needs to ensure his body is perfectly moulded with the needs of his sport. He had never done quad jumps before Celestino, so trying them now when his body isn’t prepared and without a proper coaching staff is just asking the universe to give him an injury. And his track record with the universe isn’t great. 

Whilst the increased speed coming into and out of his program’s elements is a good sign, it also highlights the lack of control he has. If there was one thing Viktor had beaten into his body, it was that there was no use in power if there was no control. So Yuuri stops himself from doing crazy jumps, and instead turns to build up his foundations. 

If he perfects each element within his programs to maximise the GOE, every mili-point would count. It would be enough to bring him to center stage, closer to Viktor. 

He has the spread eagle entry perfect, but that’s an easier entry compared to the ones Yuuri was use to doing in his future. His favourite, the twizzle entries and the back-counter entry on the forward edge, were still so far away from him even thinking of completing them consistently. 

They leave no room to think, let alone giving him enough  power to actually throw himself into the triple axel. It’s essentially jumping from a standstill. To do that, he needs to build his body up from the ground. He needs his thighs to be able propel him into the air from what is essentially a standstill. 

He needs more strength, more endurance. He needs to be more. 

Yuuri slams his hand on the ice, body aching after another failed attempt at a back-counter entry into his axel. 

“Yuuri!” Nishigori shouts out, both him and Yuuko watching with concerned eyes. 

They’re waiting by the side of the rink, beside themselves with worry. Takeshi is frowning, before bending down to whisper in Yuuko’s ear. She nods in response, and he turns to leave. Yuuri sighs heavily, standing up from the rink’s floor and moves to meet Yuuko by the stands. She holds out a bottle of water to him, worried. 

“I’ve never seen a person do a back-counter into a triple axel. Yuuri, it’s stupidly difficult. I don’t even think it’s possible.”

“You’re starting to sound like Nishigori.”

“That’s an insult when it comes from you.” 

“But why not, Yuuko?” He vaguely recognises that he sounds like a perpetuant child. 

“Wha- Why not?! Where did this idea even come from? You don’t have a proper coach to teach you-” 

“But it’ll be so cool ! Why isn’t that a good enough reason to try?” 

Yuuko becomes quiet. She recognises that look on Yuuri’s face, the one where he digs his heels into the floor and refuses to budge. But there’s something different this time -  his eyes are alight, and despite the obvious pain he’s in from landing on his ass for the majority of the training session, his cheeks are flushed pink. This was it - the spark that Yuuri had lost after so many defeats, so many hours on the ice with no results. 

Once again, Yuuko is reminded that out of everyone she knows at the rink, it is Yuuri who loves skating in its most purest form.  

Wanting to at least make him hear her worries at least once, she opens her mouth but decides against it. Yuuri had changed his entire long program, had created a new short program within a day and already polished both of them. 

At first, both Minako and her had screamed at Yuuri for even thinking of changing the composition of his programs when the finals was a month away. But after watching him practice the new choreographic steps, both of them knew there was no way he could go back to the old routines. 

It irked Yuuko to admit defeat, but she knew that the idea of making the loading times in-between jumps resemble step sequences instead would somehow pay off. Yuuri just needed to actually land the jumps for it to work out. 

She sighs, changing the subject. “You said that you’re working on finding an object before competition to focus on. So your stage fright won’t become overwhelming, right?” 

“Yeah, like a specific seat in the audience or the exit sign.”

“Well, here.” 

Yuuri flounders as his vision becomes obscured. Something soft hits his face, and he catches it in his hands before it falls to the ice. His heart skips at the sight. 

It’s a cute little poodle plushie, covered in brown fur and unmistakably modeled after Vicchan. She scratches the back of her neck at Yuuri’s sudden silence, before shaking her hands rapidly and starting to ramble word-vomit. 

“Takeshi ordered it for you, but he’s too emotionally stunted to actually show how much he cares about you, so here I am giving it to you instead. Minako can just hold it by the rinkside before you skate and you-.” 

She cuts herself off, taking a huge swallow of air. Her cheeks are flushed pink, and she bites her lip in embarrassment. “You can think of Ice Castle when you see it. It’ll help condition you into thinking you're home and not in front of an audience or judges. We’ll always be in the wings supporting you that way.” 

Yuuri’s eyes sting a little, and he rubs his face harshly to stop him from tearing up. “Thank you.” He whispers, holding the plushie to his face. 

That’s right, there’s no need for Yuuri to be nervous if he falls on a jump. Even if he does fall, Hasetsu will be a safety net, always there to catch him. 

Wiping his numbed, sniffling nose, he smiles up at Yuuko with small tears catching on his eyelashes. “Tell Takeshi to stop being a pussy and give it to me himself.”  



***

Hasetsu Higashi Senior High, 

Hasetsu, Japan 

 

Ne , Abe-kun. Isn’t he coming back today?” There is a small crowd surrounding Abe’s seat at the back of the classroom. Abe himself, however, is barely paying attention to Honda’s question, eyes trained on his game console. 

“Ow! Why did you hit me? I’ve lost the level now.” He angrily glares at the girl, rubbing his shoulder to alleviate the pain.  For some strange reason today, every single student was here early, sitting in their seats a full twenty minutes before class even started. 

This was Abe’s alone time, time to defeat the next Boss, time to strategize new game plans. And it’s being interrupted by these low-lives. 

Honda’s face stretches into a soft, pretty smile as she pats the boy’s shoulder, repeatedly. “Answer the fucking question, or I’ll break your console, and you, into pieces.”

Abe gulps, placing his game on the desk and leaning back on his chair. 

“What do you want?” 

“Your seatmate. Katsuki-san.”

“Who?” Abe rolls his eyes at the sound of indignation that ripples through the class. One of the boys next to Honda-san, Yamamoto-kun, Abe realises when he looks closer, gasps in outrage, grabbing onto the edge of Abe’s desk so harshly he can see the indents of fingernails in the wood.

“A travesty. A fucking travesty!” He cries loudly. “He doesn’t deserve to sit next to Katsuki-san!” 

“Well, he can switch with me then!” Hana-chan pipes up from the front, stepping out of her seat and turning towards Abe. Suddenly, there’s an uproar of people trying to sit in Abe’s seat. He scowls, crossing his legs and slamming his feet into the ground. 

“I’m not giving up my seat.” It’s a fucking great seat, next to the window and behind Maezono, who’s six-foot tall body completely obscures him from Fujiwara-sensei and thus, allows him to continue on his quest to save his beloved Ingrid from the demon-hands of Azazel.  

He was so thankful for the seat, until he showed up three days after the entrance day, three days late because he was competing at a fucking World championship. 

There’s a sudden squealing and Sakamoto jumps up from his seat at the front of the class, hands pressed against the window looking like a whale. “He’s here!” He screams and there’s a clamour as the whole classroom rises like predators and descends onto the window. 

That’s who he sits next to. 

Katsuki Yuuri. His seatmate, Hasetsu’s pride and joy, Japan’s Junior Ace. 

“You don’t think he was badly injured, right?” 

“What if he can’t compete-” 

“We just need to be conscious of his injury, if we disturb him, he might feel worse!”

The gaggle of voices begin to hurt Abe’s head. He grabs his headphones, drowning out the class as he begins a new level. At least they’ve stopped talking to him now. 

“He can’t be that injured if he’s cycling to school, right?”

“He’s cycling?!”

“Yes! Sakura-chan posted it in her story, don’t get me started on the way those things looked!” 

Curiosity has always been Abe's weakness, and so he turns to look over his left shoulder out of the window, eyes trailing over the nimble figure walking through the courtyard. 

Katsuki-san has a huge gym bag thrown over his shoulder, but he seems to lug it around as easily as if he was carrying air. He’s walking alongside his bike, hands curled around the handlebar to guide it towards the shed. 

Abe berates himself. He’s like everyone else, gawking at the mythical figure of Katsuki. From his viewpoint, he can see the way Katsuki stretches his arms behind him- and god, it shouldn’t be fair to be that flexible. Katsuki swipes a hand through his hair, and it slicks back, exposing his creamy-white, free of imperfections, forehead. Abe seethes. 

What’s so good about Katsuki, anyway? He grumbles to himself, tapping a bit too harshly on his console buttons. He never talks to a single person, but everyone is foaming at the mouth to be graced by his stupid prescence. Miwa-chan still hasn’t gotten over the one time she’d bumped into him, and Katsuki had apologised instead. It gave her a sudden influx of brownie points suddenly in popularity rankings. She gushes about it all the time. 

Katsuki is someone who thinks he’s above everyone else. He doesn’t speak to anyone below his station, only ever hanging around the school’s goddess Yuuko-senpai and her fucking guard dog, Nishigori. The three were royalty at Hasetsu Higashi, the wonder trio that hailed from their court of the Ice Castle. But even then, Katsuki was a breed of his own.

Whilst Yuuko-senpai and Nishigori-san had some infamy within Hasetsu, winning prefectural competitions here and there, it was Katsuki that went on to be a riot. He was on the fucking TV most nights, the biggest athlete out of Kyushu in decades meant that NHK KYUSHU always had a segment running about their reining National Junior Champion and his exploits in the international field representing Japan. 

Because that’s the level Katsuki is on. He’s so far ahead of everyone else in the year group that people drool at the chance to breathe the same air as him. He’ll probably compete at the Olympics in a few years. 

Katsuki is a legend in the making, and it’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re sitting right next to him. He makes you feel inferior, so this is Abe’s only respite, the one thing he holds control over within the school. If he acts indifferent, it doesn’t mean anything.

So, Abe rages in jealousy and turns back to defending his castle from invasion. It’s quarter to eight, so he focuses his last fifteen minutes to complete this fucking level rather than think about Katsuki. It should be easy, but at the pinnacle moment of the game, the be-all-end-all moment of his battle, Katsuki walks straight in through the door and Abe is thrown through a loop. 

He walks in with the same pin-straight ballet posture he always has, much too elegant and refined for a high school student, let alone someone from the backwaters of Hasetsu. There is nothing of the country bumpkin that Abe and the rest of his classmates drown in - he looks otherworldly, like a city boy from Tokyo or a millionaire’s son. He might as well be, with all the travelling he does for his competitions. 

Katsuki blinks owlishly, huge brown eyes widening at the sight of the entire class here early. His cheeks turn a gorgeous pink, dusting across his pale cheeks like rose petals or some other poetic shit that Yamaguchi-sensei would sprout in his literature classes. 

There’s the usual chatter that follows when Katsuki enters, but Abe keeps his eyes locked on the screen in front of him. It’s unfair that he’s so fucking pretty, Abe slams his console down, burning with jealousy and, with a little introspection, want

*** 

Yuuri can feel everyone’s eyes on his back as he takes his seat at the end of the classroom. His seatmate- Abe, he vaguely remembers- was blessedly more attuned to his game than gawking at Yuuri like the rest of the class was. 

He thought he was early, arriving fifteen minutes before class started to ensure that he wouldn’t have to deal with exactly this - people staring at him like he’s a clown act at the local circus. 

Settling into his seat, Yuuri tugs nervously at the sleeves of his blazer. Maybe he’s wearing his uniform wrong? There’s very little you could get wrong, considering the military-styled gakuran only needed to be buttoned up. 

These stares are worse than when Viktor first turned up , Yuuri thinks, scratching the back of his neck. He feels like an exhibition at a zoo - if he made any sudden movement, a hoard of predators would come and devour him. He turns his gaze pointedly towards the clock ticking above the blackboard, watching with bated breath for homeclass to start. 

Yuuri had painstakingly looked through his past yearbooks, trying to remember every single one of his classmates' names and match them to their faces. But actually sitting down in class makes him jittery - he was already a social pariah, forgetting someone’s name would only drown him in further embarrassment. 

The door slides open and Yuuri subtly breathes out a sigh of relief. Fujiwara-sensei smiles cheerily from the front desk, and Todoroki-san - ( is it Todoroki-san, right?) - the class president stands up to start the greeting. 

Everyone’s voice choruses together, greeting Fujiwara-san, and Yuuri feels himself begin to relax.

His eyes fall back towards the clock - just four hours to go till lunch. He can do this. 

***

Yuuri has the attention span of a goldfish. 

Perhaps it’s because he’s already gone through this once before, but the monotony of high school makes him want to rip his heart out and feed it to demons, just for a change of pace. 

Modern Literature wasn’t too bad - Yuuri found that he picked up the literary concepts easier than before, eternally grateful for his foresight to look up the book summary last night. He tries to make diligent notes for the different lessons, keeping to himself in the intervals between each class period and trying to drown out the chatter of friends when break starts. 

It’s no different to how he was before. Yuuri had a pattern when attending school: Turn up, take notes, go home. The mortification that came from being perceived was enough for Yuuri to stick to himself. If he looks like the wall, he’d be treated like the wall - invisible. 

Of course, that doesn’t work out when Fujiwara-sensei pulls him out of class during lunch. The stares marked towards his back like arrows to a target make his ears burn with humiliation. He knew he should’ve had lunch outside the classroom. 

They make their way towards the teacher’s lounge - it was more like an office than a lounge, with cubical desks entrapping the entire space of the small room. Yuuri hasn’t felt the grip of anxiety climb up his throat in a while, and he quickly hands over the make-up work he had done during his time out of school so he can leave already. 

He taps his foot nervously against the floor as Fujiwara-sensei flicks through all of the papers, systematically putting them into appropriate piles. He looks over them in quiet contemplation. 

“Yuuri-kun.”

“Hai, sensei!” He winces at the volume of his voice, face blushing with embarrassment at how awkward he sounds. 

“You’ve done well keeping up with the work. How’s your injury?”

“Doctor gave me the all-clear. There was no issue at all, but he wanted me to rest just in case.”  

Fujiwara turns over the page once more, before tapping them all together neatly and placing them on his desk. “So, any chance you’ll be competing at Nationals?”

“Yes.” Yuuri says defiantly. “Nothing could keep me from it.”

“The work is good, Yuuri-kun. Try not to overthink more than you do. I’ll be rooting for you.” Fujiwara looks over at him once, before standing up to pat Yuuri on the shoulder. “Go on. You’ve still got a good twenty minutes for lunch.” 

Yuuri lets out a sigh of relief, bowing deeply. “Thank you, sensei.”

Fujiwara watches as Yuuri scampers away, only turning back to his desk once he sees the young boy leave. 

“Sawamura!” Fujiwara throws Yuuri’s work towards his coworker sitting in the cubicle across from him. 

Sawamura just rolls his eyes, “What now, Fujiwara?”

“You’re Yuuri’s history teacher, right? Take a look at his essay.”

Sawamura pulls on his glasses, squinting at the work. He stops halfway through, typing some things on his computer, before returning back to read it. It’s another painstaking ten minutes of Sawamura reading Yuuri’s paper. 

“... Are you sure this is Yuuri-kun’s work?”

“Yes. He just turned it in. Can you check it for plagiarism?”

Sawamura takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. “I did. Just now.” 

“Wait- so he wrote it himself?” 

“Or someone else did for him. But who?”

“There’s no way his sister could’ve, Mari could barely spell right. What about those two older kids he used to hang around? Yuuko-”

“And Nishigori. There’s no way, the two of them barely passed as it was.”

“... So what are you thinking, Sawamura?”

“I’m thinking…” He drops Yuuri’s papers back on his desk. “I’m thinking that he had a lot of free time because he was banned from training, and so instead, he produced … this .”

“Was he always this good academically, though? I’m sure we would’ve noticed sooner if he was. This type of writing-  it’s almost college-level.”

“It is college level.” Sawamura gripes. “Look, he’s referenced all of his citations, footnotes and all. And the language, maybe it’s just history. What about his work for the other classes? You just teach him homeroom, right? Honda-san!” Sawamura calls to the woman across the room. “Has Yuuri given you his work yet?” 

Honda walks towards the two, shaking her head. “Not yet, is it in the pile? Why are we talking about Yuuri-kun?”

“Because I’m tempted to give him 79/80, a mark off because he forgot to write the date at the top.” 

Honda gasps in wonder. “Has Yuuri-kun always been good at history? He struck me as a science-y person. Tanaka-san always laments the lost potential if he worked more on physics than skating.” 

“I have his work here,” Fujiwara pipes up. The other faculty members slowly start to migrate towards Sawamura and him, eavesdropping on Hasetsu Higashi’s star student. They each begin to take their respective pieces of work, circling Sawamura’s desk as they do so. 

“If they’re all on the same level as the one for Sawamura-kun, then I wonder what he’d be like if he had the time dedicated to his studies.”

“It’s such a shame. Yuuri-kun’s always been bright, but if this is the work he produces without time being eaten by training, he could do so much more!”  

“You’re acting like he’s galavanting off somewhere to mess around. He’s ranked in the top ten of international junior skaters.” 

“Yes, but how many junior skaters do well at seniors? He needs to think about his future-” 

Sawamura clears his throat to stop the sudden influx of teacher’s piping in with their two-cents about Yuuri’s future. Their voices make his head ring, and he rubs his eyes to dispel the oncoming headache. 

“Having high expectations of Yuuri-kun is all well and good, but these papers may be a result of the extra time Yuuri had because of his accident.” Sawamura turns towards the essay in his hand. “We’ll monitor him for the rest of his lessons and then we’ll stage an intervention. If he doesn’t keep it up, that is.” 

“But would Yuuri-kun want that?” says Fujiwara. “He only ever sees himself skating, and his results say everything.”

“We might as well try, Fujiwara.” Sawamura props up his hand and rests his head against his palm. “I’m sure it goes without saying, but we all just want what’s best for Yuuri-kun. If he really can produce this kind of work when putting the effort in, we might have to have a meeting with him and his parents. It would be a waste for him not to pursue academics, especially with how injury-prone his sport is. What parent wouldn’t want their child to have a back-up plan?”

“I’ll keep an eye on him for now.” Fujiwara purses his lips. “Let’s just see how he does in the next few days.” 

*** 

“Ugh.” Yuuri groans, falling back onto the grass outside. He has ten minutes left of lunch, and already he’s dreading going back inside class. He closes his eyes, sighing as a gentle breeze flutters around him. 

His phone buzzes inside his school jacket, and he groans as he pulls it out. “What?” 

“That’s so rude, Yuuri! If anything, I should be the one who’s grumpy.”

“Well, what would you want me to say? Isn’t it five am in Switzerland?”  

“Yuuuuri.” Christophe sings. “You’re supposed to ask why I’m calling.”

Okay, Chris. Why are you calling so early in the morning?”

“I’m bored.” He doesn’t sound it, voice lilting in amusement. “ I’m waiting for the bus.” 

Yuuri sits up at that, crossing his legs and gripping the phone tighter. “Training?”

“Yeah. My car broke down, so I’m relegated to public transport.” He sighs heavily over the phone. “It’s the bane of my existence. It’s so cold and I want to die.”

“You want to die? At least you get to spend all your time skating! I hate high school.” 

Christophe giggles at the distress in Yuuri’s voice. “What time is it in Japan? Wait, are you answering a call in class? Are you perhaps… a rebel , Yuuri Katsuki?” 

“It’s lunch actually, you’re lucky I did answer. I’m so behind on lessons, I’ll have to start revising in my sleep.” 

Sounds disgusting. How many more months till freedom?”

“Five. I’ve got midterms in a few weeks though. At least they’re before the Grand Prix. But my entrance exams are in January, just before Worlds.” 

“Shit, I forgot how tiring it is to study and train at the same time. How are you going to slip in training and school?”

“You tell me.”

“Damn, glad I didn’t go to college. Do you think Viktor Nikiforov has to deal with deadlines and school assignments?” 

“With the money he rakes in with commercials? No way. You think Russia would let their Olympic star waste time on school when he could be training?” 

“True, true. Speaking of training, what’s up with your coaching situation? Everything I’ve found was from outside sources, which is bullshit since I have the actual source a phone call away.” Yuuri can hear Christophe pouting from across the oceans. 

Yuuri flops back down onto his back. “Please don’t talk to me about it, or I’ll literally explode.” 

But I want to know the gossip!” 

“I’ll tell you at the finals.”

“...Is that confirmation you’ll be going?”

“You promised to take me out, remember? How could I disappoint.”

“Yes!” Christophe hoots loudly, causing Yuuri to flinch. “ Cao Bin, you know that Chinese skater who hangs around Nikiforov? He told me he knows some good nightclubs, so be prepared. Make sure you bring ID, because we’re celebrating your eighteenth in style.”

“You’re going to ruin my liver before I even have a chance to live.”

“Oh, Yuuri.” Christophe purrs, elongating his name so it’s drawn out. “You think much too highly of me.”

Actually, I think lowly of you. You’re competing at the Cup of China next week, right? I’ll watch, considering it’s in my timezone.”

“Ouch, does that mean you wouldn’t watch me if I got Skate America? Harsh. I bet you stayed up for Nikiforov.”

“If you compare yourself to Viktor, you’re always going to lose.” Yuuri barks out, laughing. And, since when was he Nikiforov?” 

“Since I found out you have posters of him on your wall. I’ve been bumped off my place as his biggest fan.”

“You’re the Vice-President - that’s still good enough.”

“It’ll have to do. ” Christophe sighs, “ Oh shit, my bus just pulled in so I’ll call you later tonight. See you at the finals, babycakes.”

Yuuri laughs loudly. “See you, Chris.” With the resounding beep signalling the end of the call, Yuuri’s face stretches out into a smile. Christophe always comes into Yuuri’s life like a hurricane, bursting in and leaving everything a mess. 

“But he always makes the day fun.” Yuuri muses to himself, throwing his phone to his side and stretching his arms up. He lets out a huge yawn, flopping back onto the grass. 

He throws his phone to his side, stretching his arms up. He needs to eat, needs to go hand in the work he’s behind on. There’s so much to do, but all Yuuri wants is sleep. 

There’s no time to lie about in self-pity. These few months will be hectic, but they are important. He sighs heavily, allowing himself to wallow for a little longer, before pulling out his textbooks and highlighters. 

If Yuuri wants to be centre-stage, he’ll need Celestino. And to do that, he’ll have to somehow get through the next few months. 

*** 

“I-isn’t that Katsuki-senpai?” 

“He looks so handsome underneath the sakura petals! Like a painting!”

“Or an anime character!” 

“That too! But why is he sitting by himself? Is he studying? Maybe we could go down and talk to him!” 

“What! No! Don’t you know the rules?”

“Rules?!” 

“Yes! You’re so lucky you have me as a senpai, otherwise who knows what would’ve happened to you. Katsuki-san is always so busy that school is probably his only time to rest! Why would we disturb him? Gosh, you have no brain at all!” 

“But- this might be the only chance we get to see him up close!”

“Don’t even think about it!”

“What about his injury? We should go up and make sure he knows that he has our support, senpai!”  

“If we go, we’ll disturb him! Besides, Hana-senpai, you know the one who’s in his class, said he seemed completely fine in class. And Yumi-senpai, yeah, yeah that second year, - the one who works at her parents’ shop opposite Ice Castle - she said that in the morning, he came in to buy some sports drinks, which meant he had just left the rink. That means he’s practicing again.”

“Well, isn’t that even more of a reason we should go up to him? He’ll be missing school again, and then we won’t see him! It’s our chance before other people swarm-” 

“Listen to me, very carefully. Katsuki-senpai is to be loved and adored from afar. If you get too close, you’ll become School Enemy No. 1. There will be no saving you from everyone’s wrath.” 

*** 

Vienna International Hotel Expo Park, 

Shanghai, 

Republic of China 

 

A shrill ringtone erupts through a hotel room, reverbarting loudly against the four walls of the room. The room is large, larger than perhaps it’s inhabitant requires. There are clothes flung in random parts of the room, evidently with little care. A Canadian team jacket is visible within the rubble of the mess, it’s stark red floundered by the whites of it’s sleeves.  

A man groans from his place under the covers, smashing his face back into his pillow to block out the irritating sound. The ringtone stops from its attack on his ears, and the man sighs in relief, shuffling back under the covers. 

His hair flutters around his shoulders, and he tugs it slightly to free it from it’s uncomfortable entrapment underneath an array of white decorative pillows and the huge comforter. There is a dull pain forming by the curve of his spine, and he turns onto his front to alleviate it, slipping back underneath the warmth of the covers. 

BEEEEEEP

“Oh, fuck off!” He shouts loudly, voice raspy from sleep as he peels his eyes open. He flinches at the sudden influx of sunlight that streams in from his windows, groaning in pain. 

“...-tu’rn itsg off-” A muffled voice cries beside him. The sudden movement causes the man to freeze. He looks between himself and the other person in his bed, before swearing loudly again. 

Well

Considering the pounding in his head and his aching body, he must’ve had a good time at least. 

The man stumbles to his feet, wincing at the soreness of his body, before finding the source of his disturbed sleep. “ Alyo. ” 

“Don’t ‘hello’ me, Nikiforov.”

  Viktor flinches. 

“Yakov, darling.”

I am close to dropping you, Vitya.” 

You’d drop me? Your star student? The boy you’ve raised since infancy?!” 

Potselui mou zhopy.”  

“Sorry, Yakov. My lips were just taken by another.” Viktor grins at the sound of Yakov sputtering. “Anyway, why are you calling me at five- oh my god. It’s five in the afternoon?” 

“Yes, mudak .” Yakov sounds like he’s in pain. “You’ve missed your flight.” 

*** 

Chapter Text

***

trending . sports (Japan)&nbsp

Yomiuri Giants vs. Hanshin Tigers

58k 

ピッチャーバトル 

[Pitcher Battle]

29k 

阪神タイガース

[Hanshin Tigers] 

22k

読売ジャイアンツ

[Yomiuri Giants] 

19k

奥川 ミナコ

[Okukawa Minako]

1k 

*** 

@Figureskating_Translations 5m

 

讀賣新聞 ✓ @Yomiuri_Sports 32m

BREAKING NEWS

有名なバレリーナ奥川美奈子監督のジュニアナショナルズにカツキユウリ選手が出場

21 🗨️ 71 ⟲ 92 ♡

(trans.)

BREAKING NEWS:

Katsuki Yuuri will compete at Junior Nationals, coached by famed ballerina Okukawa Minako. 

2 🗨️  8 ⟲ 15 ♡

***

There is a thrum of jittering nerves that underlie all of Yuuri’s movements today. Class had been excruciatingly painful, with Fujiwara-sensei’s beedy eyes eternally trained on Yuuri’s every action. By the time he was able to leave for the rink, Yuuri was pulsating with energy. 

“You’re more distracted than normal.” Minako had frowned at him, curling around the rinkside’s barrier. Yuuri had apologised, but there was nothing to stop his fidgeting. Minako had decidedly pulled him aside, declaring their training session over even though he’d only run through the short program routine once. 

“You’re going to injure yourself if we keep going. Besides, we’re supposed to go to Yuu-chan’s house today, might as well go early- wait!” Minako throws Yuuri a sly grin. “Is that why you’re being all jittery and nervous, like a blushing bride? Because it’s the Cup of China today?”

“I’m not nervous!” 

Minako cackles loudly. “Come on then, we wouldn’t want to miss Viktor’s performance.”

“The competition isn’t until eight.”

“Yeah, well if I keep you on the ice whilst you’re this distracted, you’re bound to hurt yourself. Even if we’re early, I’m sure Yuuko will like any help distracting the triplets.”

So that’s how Yuuri finds himself on Yuuko and Takeshi’s worn-out coach with multi-coloured crayola lines drawn over the seats in a cacophony of mess and chaos, as three little monsters crawl all over him. Katsumi has somehow knocked his glasses off onto the floor to Asami, who in turn had taken that as permission to drool all over them, all whilst Megumi tugs at Yuuri’s jumper so tightly, his neckline was stretched irrevocably. 

Yuuko takes in the sight and sighs heavily. 

“I’m sorry, Yuuri.” She cries, finally depositing his slightly chewed glasses back onto his face. “They’re at that age where they’re biting everything.”

“I-It’s all right.” Yuuri lies, focusing entirely on Asami trying to heave herself up onto the coach. Megumi smacks his face angrily, trying to get his attention. “Well, it looks like Loop has her father’s strength.” He winces when she grabs a fistful of his hair. 

“Megumi, we don’t grab!” Yuuko admonishes, taking the child away from Yuuri. Katsumi takes it as an opportunity to drape herself all over Yuuri’s lap, which causes Asami to start screaming for attention. Minako sits far, very far, away from the madness, feet curled underneath her as she sips a large glass of red wine. It’s not Hiroko’s beer, but it will do. 

“What time does the competition start again?”

“In half an hour- Asami, please let go of your uncle- how long does it take to go to the convenience store? I swear when Takeshi walks in, I will pummel hi-”

“I’ve bought the ice-cream!” Nishigori comes inside the living room, holding up bags of convenience store goodies. “Why aren’t the girls asleep yet?”

“Gee, I wonder why? It’s almost like you woke them up before you left.”

“I was only giving them a goodbye-kiss!”

“You were leaving for fifteen minutes!” Yuuko wails, walking towards her husband with Asami on one arm and Megumi on the other. She throws the two of them at their father, before turning to retrieve Katsumi from Yuuri. 

“We’ll be back in like five minutes. The girls should be worn out enough that they’ll knock out as soon as it’s quiet. Sensei, can you put on the right channel?” 

“Already on it.” Minako makes a shooing motion towards Nishigori and Yuuko, already flicking through the television channels. “We’ve got twenty minutes, Yuuko. Yuuri’ll set up the food.”

“Thank you!” She yells towards him, as both her and Nishigori go upstairs to settle the kids. 

Nishigori had made them proud - there were savoury chips, chocolate balls, ramen cups, the best ice cream in existence, - all of Yuuri’s favourites. He grins at the sight of the spicy noodles, already reaching out for them.

“Ow!’ He shrieks. Minako’s smack against his hand leaves a red print from how hard she had slapped him. Her fingers curl around the take-away noodles before Yuuri even realises, snatching it from beneath his nose. 

“No cup ramen.”

“That’s complete dietary restriction, how would people react if they knew this is how you treat your only student?” 

“You’re the one who came up with your own dietary menu.” Minako glares, before throwing the ramen towards him, a pushover to Yuuri’s pouting. “Just this once. You’ll be strict for the rest of the month.”

Yuuri whoops ecstatically, running towards the kitchen to fill up Yuuko’s kettle. “Do you want any tea or coffee, sensei?”

“I’m fine with my wine!” He hears her shout through the wall. “Ugh, I can’t wait for you to start drinking- if you’re a sleepy drunk like your mother and Mari, it’ll be a waste of your father’s genes.”

“Tou-san gets drunk on a single sip of alcohol.”

Exactly . Inhibitions and self-control completely out of sight - he’s the life of the party!” 

Yuuri winces at the thought, mind immediately going to the famed Banquet Incident™. That in itself brings about Chris’ promise of a night-out, and suddenly, Yuuri shudders at the thought of Minako and Christophe ever meeting. 

Never before has Yuuri seen his life flash before his eyes. 

In order to dissipate the cursed image of Christophe and Minako running Yuuri’s liver - and self-preservation - into an early grave, he returns his attention to make three cups of hot drinks, two green teas for himself and Nishigori and Yuuko’s favourite hot chocolate mix. He sets them down on the table, refilling Minako’s wine without being prompted, and earning a satisfied cheek-pinching as thanks from his teacher, before pouring boiling water into the different arrays of ramen cups in front of him. 

Yuuko and Takeshi finally make their way downstairs, closing the door behind them quietly and settling down next to Yuuri around the snack table. 

“Oi. Pass the choco-balls.” Nishigori throws a handful of the sweet snacks into his mouth, stirring his ramen cup absentmindedly. With his eyes trained on the TV, he nudges Yuuri’s side. “What’s Nikiforov’s competition?”

“Can you even call it a competition?” Yuuko snorts. “Viktor’s got it in the bag.” 

“Well, Christophe’s been sending me videos of the toe-loop he’s been trying. It’s pretty consistent in practice.”

“Right.” Takeshi’s voice sours. “I forgot you've been getting weirdly close to that Swiss skater.”

“What do you mean by weirdly close?” snickers Minako. “You sound like an old man.” 

“Well, he’s always texting Yuuri!” Takeshi growls. “What if he starts corrupting him?” 

Corrupting him? ” 

“You’ve seen what his programs are like this year! Yuuri’s a teenager, he’s easily susceptible-”

“Oh, stop being such a dad, Nishigori! Just because you’re twenty, you act like Yuuri’s a child.” 

“Well, I am a dad-”

“And you never let us forget it.” Yuuko rolls her eyes, exasperated. “What, do you think he’s going to sweep Yuuri off his feet and have legions of figures skating babies? The world would be blessed. And, let’s be real. The only person who could possibly sweep Yuuri off his feet would be Viktor, and I for one would support him in the escapade. At least with Christophe their offspring’s butts would be otherworldly. God, imagine a person alive who has a combination of Yuuri and Giacometti’s as-” 

“Why are you even looking at Yuuri and Giacommeti’s asses?!”

Yuuri slams his hands over both Nishigori and Yuuko’s lips. “Enough talking about my backside. The competition is starting.” 

*** 

Yuuri’s heart leaps at the sight of Viktor, as it always does. He had feared that seeing him perform again would send him spiralling, as it had done so before, but now that the initial shock had worn off, Yuuri sits back and watches Viktor in his element. 

He had completed his signature flip with little to no problem, proving once again that technicality was always his greatest weapon. The twists of his spins were subdued, more subdued than the Viktor in the future ever was- but Yuuri had an inkling that was due to his own influence rather than a lack of ability on Viktor’s past self. These spins were fine for the program Viktor was doing, one which needed every breath available for the jumps he was doing. 

Viktor’s performances were always a thing of beauty - Yuuri could wax poetry about the stylistic arm extensions that mirrored the tonal changes of notes in the music, the power behind ever sweep of his body across the ice, the melding of technicality and artistry, all wrapped up into a gorgeous package - but nothing would explain it better than actually watching him skate with your own eyes. 

Viktor’s performance was an assured win. Even Christophe perfectly executing the quadruple toe would do little to stop him, especially since their program’s base values were so far apart. Viktor waits with bated breath in the Kiss and Cry, Yakov’s grim face televised worldwide beside him. 

God, Viktor must’ve actually caused Yakov’s hair to fall out, aided most definitely by Yura. Yuuri had never thought that the word ‘young’ could ever be applied to Coach Feltsman, yet here is, gaping in horror at the disturbing picture of the Russian coach with a full head of hair sitting primly atop his scalp. 

And now we await the results -  with a performance like that, it’s going to be huge, Honda-san.” 

“If he doesn’t get nine’s across the board, I will riot- AND HE’S DONE IT! Viktor Nikiforov has broken the glass ceiling! One hundred points! For the first time in history, a skater has scored one hundred points in the short program! Russia’s Viktor Nikiforov is making history tonight in Shanghai!” 

Someone is screaming, hands are gripping Yuuri’s shoulders, shaking him, rattling him to the core. It all peeters out, like the world is suddenly thrown into a vacuum where no sound could travel through. Yuuri cannot hear a single thing, eyes drilled intensely on the television. The camera focuses on Viktor’s face, at the flush of his neck, his eyes widened in beautiful shock. 

And then, his lips split into the most breathtaking of smiles. 

In the future, Yuuri would look back on this moment, and recognise it was the moment he was tied down to this timeline forever. The sudden emotion of pure, unadulterated elation that exploded out of Viktor was the purest emotion to flood through the boy - confidence, pride, happiness . All of it, Viktor deserved. Yuuri would make sure he always felt like that. Everything seemed chaotic around him, rushing in as Nishigori and Yuuko screamed at the moment, but Yuuri’s head was clear. Everything was brought into perspective. 

Lost at sea, braving rocky waves on a rattling, wooden boat with floorboards that creaked under his weight and sails punctured with holes, Viktor was the imaginary line running through the entire Earth, drowning out the overbearing noise that surrounded Yuuri’s life and re-centered him, focusing him. Viktor was Yuuri’s true north, a compass or a northern star that showed him the way forward. 

It was like falling in love all over again. 

***

Chris 🍑

Did you get to see my toe-loop?

Sent 

Yuuri 🌸

[A poor-quality, pixelated video of Christophe landing his first quad in competition]

Got it on video! The landing was beautiful, Chris! 

Sent

Chris 🍑

!!! You’re so sweet to me 😘

Sent

Yuuri 🌸

It was a beautifully landed quad! All praise is deserved. 

Good luck for the free tomorrow!

Sent

Chris 🍑

Thank yoooou! Oh, and I… may have something… /urgent/ to tell you. 

Sent

Yuuri 🌸

Sent 

Chris 🍑

Now, don’t freak out on me when I say this.

Sent

Yuuri 🌸

You’re using punctuation correctly. 

Sent

Chris 🍑

Hey, I said no freaking out!

Sent

Yuuri 🌸

That is the /opposite/ thing to say to someone with anxiety 

Sent

Chris 🍑

It’s a good thing! I promise! 

Sent

Yuuri 🌸

We have different ideas of what is good, Chris

Sent

Chris 🍑

Well… I may, or may not have, gotten a certain figure skater’s number.

🥺 👉👈

Sent  

Yuuri 🌸 is typing… 

Yuuri 🌸

Wait… is it who I think it is?

Sent

Yuuri 🌸

ASKFJSP! 

Sent

Yuuri 🌸

CHRISTOPHE!

Sent

Chris 🍑 is offline. 

Yuuri 🌸

CHRISTOPHE, YOU LITTLE BITCH.

Sent 

Yuuri 🌸

I KNOW YOU’RE AWAKE. ANSWER MY CALL!!! 

Sent

***

In light of everything that's happened today, Yuuri is surprisingly composed when they almost miss the train heading towards their flight in Fukuoka.

Mari is heaving, holding herself up by clinging to Minako who in turn is also breathing heavily, with her grip on a single train handle the only thing keeping both her and Mari from collapsing onto the train floor. Yuuri sighs, nudging his teacher to sit opposite him across a table, whilst Mari collapses next to him. 

They had reserved some nice seats, the ones where there is a table between four and enough leg room for Yuuri to comfortably rest, so he’ll get over having to stare at Minako’s face for the rest of the train journey. The three of them are still breathing heavily by the time the train begins to move. 

He doesn’t want to think of this as a bad sign, but Yuuri’s nerves tell a different story. 

Minako leans forward and pokes Yuuri’s creased forehead. Her smile is surprisingly gentle. “We made it in one piece! Looks like luck is on our side.” 

“Or we’re being cursed- ow!” Minako glares at Mari, smacking her hand. She changes the subject. 

“How long until we reach Fukuoka?” 

“An hour and a half. There’ll be a shuttle bus that’ll take us directly to the airport.” Yuuri pulls out his flight sheets, along with the tickets so that everyone could see the itinerary. 

“Wow. I didn’t know you were this organised, Yuuri.” Mari gapes, flicking through the folder. “Why can’t you keep your room this organised?”

“Shut up! Usually coaches deal with this…” He sheepishly looks towards Minako, who in turn, blushes bright red in embarrassment. “But because I’m the one liasoning with the JSF, it made sense for me to figure everything else out. Since this will be Minako’s first taste behind the scenes.”

Minako’s face pales. “Don’t worry, sensei, I’ll be with you the whole time.”

“That’s supposed to be my line, Yuuri! What kind of coach has to be calmed down by their own student?”

“First time for everything.” Mari winks. “Speaking of first times, I can’t believe my first time on a plane is a domestic flight and not abroad, like it should be.” 

“Hey, you’re the one who said they couldn’t go to the Finals with me!” 

“Let me sulk in peace, Yuuri.” 

Mari hums, tuning out the two’s bickering as she watches the various trees that pass by through the train window. “Do you think the weather will be nice in Sapporo?” 

“It’s around two degrees.”

“Wow. You really researched the whole thing, didn’t you?” Mari teases, ruffling Yuuri’s hair. He glares up at his sister, before turning back towards Minako. 

“It shouldn’t rain though, so we should be fine.” 

“Good, good.” Minako sighs. “Do we have everything? Skates and costumes?”

“We’re already on the train, what are we going to do if he doesn’t?” Mari rolls her eyes. “Besides, he’s literally gripping his cart with his life.”

“Mari, I will smack you again.” She holds up her hands in surrender. 

“It’s fine, sensei. I triple checked before we left home. Everything’s in that carry-on.” He points to the luggage that has its own seat beside Minako, a powdered-blue that had seen better days. Minako rests her hand on top of it, exhaling all her nerves to the suitcase. 

“Good.” She says finally. She flattens the top of her hair, and this is the first time Yuuri has seen his teacher look so frazzled. It almost shocks him out of his anxiety a little. 

“Are you okay, sensei?”

“I’m great, Yuuri-kun!” Her voice cracks a little, causing Mari to snicker. “I swear to god Mari-”

Mari ducks to miss Mianko’s swipe at her, guffawing behind her hands. It eases the tension between the three, and Minako closes her eyes for a moment. When she does open them, Yuuri and Mari are watching her wearily. 

“I- I guess I’m just a little nervous. You’ve trained so much for this, and I’ve never been a coach before. I’ve only been to competitions to cheer you on, but this time, you’ll be relying on me. I have no idea what the behind-the-scenes is like.”

She’s right, competitions are completely different to practicing at Ice Castle, Yuuri thinks. But Minako has little to worry about. Whilst she might not know what ice skating competitions are like, Yuuri does .   

Yuuri has had thirteen years to come to terms with competitions - it was like breathing to him. He hates the nerves that build up as soon as he enters hotel rooms, like someone had stuffed cotton buds into his ears so that everything would sound muffled. The noise of the crowd was almost worse - it made his body clam up like a ramrod, so tensed up that it would be suicide to try and skate. 

But he loves the atmosphere before a competition, the all you could eat breakfast buffets, the bustling mornings in hotel cafes with cheap, watered-down coffees,  the sizing up of different athletes. 

Because as much as Yuuri tries to deny it, he thrives in competition. 

“Don’t worry, sensei.” He smiles reassuredly, a vision of calmness that strikes fear into Minako’s bones. “We’ve got this.”

*** 

Despite making it to the airport with time to spare, travelling domestically via plane means that there is no time to think, let alone rest. One minute they’re in Fukuoka, the next they’ve travelled 1,134 miles to Hokkaido in just over two hours. 

If only Hasetesu had transport connections like the rest of Japan - but no, Yuuri had to live on the outskirts of the outskirts of Japan, (yes, because Hasetsu was right at the sea’s border, which meant it was even further away from Saga City, which in itself was far away from any other major city.) It meant that whilst most Japanese citizens could simply catch a shinkansen train to reach cities all across the country, Yuuri would have to catch a fucking plane just to even get on the shinkansen

At least domestic flights were cheap. If they weren’t, well, Yuuri and his family would’ve been fucked. He doesn’t have Viktor’s heapes of disposable income at his fingertips anymore. Yuuri feels the twinges of pain everytime he looks at his bank account. 

Whilst Minako attempts to hail a taxi amongst the array of other passengers also attempting to hail taxis, Mari settles down next to her brother, sitting a-top her carry-on. 

“How far away is Sapporo?” 

“An hour and a half, I think? The shinkansen we’re taking cuts out about half of the time though, if Minako ends up getting a taxi so we don’t miss it.”

“What hotel are we staying at?”

“I’m not sure,” Yuuri shrugs. “The federation said they’ll have someone waiting for us once we arrive at Sapporo Station. They’ve sorted out accommodation for us there.”

“Cool- cool.” 

Yuuri narrows his eyes at his sister’s voice, tinged with both fatigue and something else, something Yuuri can’t quite place. 

“... Mari-ni?”

“Hmm?” Her head snaps up at Yuuri’s voice, face flushing. “It’s nothing, kid.” She ruffles his hair, standing up. “Don’t worry about it.”

“OI! KATSUKIS!” Minako screams, waving her hands frantically from her place across the road. 

“Guess that’s our cue.” Yuuri laughs at the sight, gripping his suitcase tightly. “Come on, I’m already tired of travelling.”

“Tell me about it.” Mari groans. “Airplane rides aren’t as fun as movies make them out to be.” 

The station is packed by the time they reach the entrance. Elbows are digging into Yuuri, and it takes Minako’s grip on his suitcase and Mari’s hand on his jacket’s hood for the three of them to not be dragged apart along the current waves of people flooding inside to catch the trains. 

“It’s two pm. Why are there so many people?” Mari flinches at the sharp pain of someone stepping on her feet. “God, I miss Hasetsu.”

“The big city isn’t for everyone, Mari.” Minako flitters around gracefully, fully accustomed to the hustle and bustle of crowds. “You should see the bus stations in Saint Petersburg-  packed like sardines.” 

Yuuri recoils, freezing in place. The only thing moving him forward is Mari sharply digging her finger into his back, pushing him to follow Minako. “I forgot you were a principal dancer at Mariinsky.”

“Hmm…” Minako sighs wistfully. “It’s a beautiful city. Someday I hope to go back, oh- maybe you’ll be assigned the Rostelecom Cup next season, and then I’ll be able to visit again! Of course, it’ll depend on where they host the event, they seem to be favouring Moscow, recently.”

“Saint Petersburg.” Yuuri murmurs, so low, Minako could barely hear him over the crowd. “That’s where Viktor is.”

Mari snorts from behind him. “Do you think of anything other than Nikiforov?”

“No.” Yuuri sounds reasonably childlike, but there is a bitter taste inside his mouth. Viktor would always be on his mind. 

“Well, at least you’re self-aware. Minako-san, we’ve got fifteen minutes before our train, let’s sit down for a bit.”

They settle in a small cafe shop, finding seats within a cramped booth. Mari leaves to grab everyone’s to-go order, in dire need of a coffee, whilst Yuuri flops unceremoniously onto the table in front of him. 

“That’s not hygienic, Yuuri.”

“Mmpahg.” 

“Whilst I’m in agreement, please sit up so I can hear you better.” 

“I said…” Yuuri’s voice is still muffled by his jacket that he’s placed underneath his head, eyes closed. “I’m hungry.”

“Ask and you shall receive.” Mari returns by flicking his ear, setting down some club sandwiches and steaming cups of coffee. 

“Since we have time…” Minako’s voice has a teasing tilt to it. “Tell me about school.”

“Whakgn abouat ia-t” 

“Oh, god Yuuri. Close your fucking mouth whilst you eat!” cringes Mari, throwing a napkin in her brother’s direction. “At least speak Japanese so I can understand you.” 

Yuuri makes an effort to swallow his sandwich, glaring at his sister for her crude language. “I said, what do you want to know about school?”

“Well, as your coach ,” Minako grins at the glare Yuuri sends her. “I have an invested interest in all aspects of your life that could affect you competing.” 

Mari seems to pick up on whatever Yuuri somehow misses. “Yes, Yuuri. Tell us about school.” 

A cold shiver runs up Yuuri’s back as the two pass a look between them. 

“Like… is there any girls-” -

”Or boys!” Mari interrupts with a wink. 

“-Or boys, that we should know about, Yuuri dear?”

Oh. That’s it. 

A love-life, or in Yuuri’s case a non-existent love life, was the sort of thing that preoccupied people of Yuuri's age group. Minako and Mari started to throw out names, attempting to see if Yuuri would give any reaction to them. 

“There’s Asahi, you know the baseball team’s captain-”

“Oh, he’s so handsome. Yuuri, why don’t you ever go to the team’s matches?” Mari pouts. 

“You just want to use me as an excuse to go. He’s my age. Stop ogling children or I’ll call the police.”

“He’s eighteen . I can ogle all I want.”

“Okay, so not Asahi-kun then, a travesty, but I guess you’re not into the rugged type anyway. Hmmm, what about Mari-chan!”

“Ooooh! Kobayashi’s daughter? She’s so pretty, definitely more your style. Very cute cheeks, like a squirrel.”

The two chatted along, gleefully enjoying the embarrassed flush across Yuuri’s face. Their sly motions let Yuuri know that they would have no intention of stopping their tirade of names. 

Yuuri sighs. Well, there is another option he could do. The truth begs to be heard, as always. 

“I will only marry Viktor.” He says resoundly. 

Mari sputters her coffee, hacking up the creamy mixture onto the table. Yuuri grimaces, passing her some napkins to clean it up. 

“Marry? Who said anything about marriage?! We're talking about dating , Yuuri.”

“Well, Viktor’s the only one for me.” Yuuri crosses his arms flippantly. “Everyone pales in comparison.”

“Oh, Yuuri come on- I’m going to shrivel up and die before you even go on a date. There’s got to be someone-”

“Nope, the only person in my heart is a Russian figure skater with star-lit hair of silver and eyes the colour of the sky on a sunny day-”

“Okay, okay!” Mari shoves her sandwich into Yuuri’s mouth. “We get it, we get it! Viktor is the only one for you, jeez. Enough with your love sonnets for the man.”

 

***

Makomanai Ice Arena, 

Sapporo, Japan 

“Do you need me in the room during the draw?” The two of them are standing still, opposite from the entrance of the conference. Yuuri clasps her hand, watching as a stream of reporters, skaters and other, professional looking people begin to go through the door. Minako takes one look at their suits, and back down towards her tight, turtleneck jumper and feels, for the first time in her life, completely under- dressed. 

“They’re all wearing suits, Yuuri. They’re wearing National Japanese Federation suits.” Her eyes are trailing on the small inscription of their nation's red flag sewn into the breast pockets of some trainer’s blazers.  Yuuri winces when he realises that most are from the big three. 

He taps her shoulder in what he hopes comes across as reassurance. “Sensei, you look fine. All you have to do is stand by the door and look imposing.”

“Imposing, I’m good at imposing.” 

Yuuri snorts, half of his nerves ebbing away. He takes a deep breath, and readjusts the mask on his face. “Let’s face the monster, Sensei.”

Minako taps his shoulder, edging him forward. With their backs pin-straight, the two walk determinedly through the door. 

*** 

“Do we have the spare batteries, senpai?” 

“We have some extras in the camera-bag, why?”

Fumiya hums, centering her tripod so that it angles towards the entrance. “Just want to make sure we have enough battery-life for when the main character makes his entrance.”

Morooka sighs heavily. “Did you read what Yomiuri released earlier this week?” 

Fumiya turns to look at him with a wicked smile. “I know that your superiors were on your ass for days about them releasing it first. Okukawa Minako and figure skating, never thought I’d see the day.”

“Do you really think she’s here for Katsuki-senshu?” 

“Morooka-senpai.” Fumiya twists to look at her supervisor. “I know you’ve got a soft spot for the kid, but you could sound a little more excited! This should be good news! The most famed ballerina in the history of Japan is coming here as his coach! Where do you think they met?”

“They live in the same city.” Morooka answers without prompt. “She’s been his ballet teacher since he was four.”

Fumiya blinks, hands freezing from her tweaking of the cameras. “Wow. You really are a Katsuki otaku.” 

Morooka groans, covering his face. “He just has so much potential! I remember when I first saw him-”

“At the novice competition- yes, I know. He did Swan Lake, like every other seven year old.”

“But he did it so well! He was doing spins at level four as a child!”

“Well, he’s got a good coach now! Okukawa-sensei is renowned as a hard teacher, and she must truly believe in Katsuki-senshu if she’s doing something she’s never done before.”

“That’s what I’m worried about!” Morooka cries. “She’s not a figure skating coach- does she even know how the scores are judged? Katsuki-senshu has always struggled with the technical aspect of figure skating, what can a ballerina teach him about that?!”

Fumiya grins at him, turning her camera towards the entrance. “Why don’t you ask her yourself?” 

Morooka feels like he’s being left to fend for himself, on the edge of a cliff with wolves circling his every move, just waiting to pounce. Okukawa Minako - the most famous dancer in all of Japan. She walks beside Katsuki-senshu, back pin-straight, all harsh-lines and glaring eyes. 

Morooka gulps from his place with the other press-junkies, with only shame preventing him from hiding behind his intern. “She’s a lot more severe than the pictures.”

“But look at that skin - how the hell is she over forty?! There’s not a single wrinkle on her face.”

“Must be the blood of innocent children.” Morooko murmurs underneath his breath. 

Fumiya snickers, before her eyes widen. “Katsuki-san looks good- oh, wow, he looks really good.” She gapes, zooming in on her camera to get a close-up. “What kind of spartan training has she put him under?! Look at his musc-”

“Refrain from talking about Japan's Junior Ace in such a manner, Fumiya-kun.”

She snorts, winking up at him. “Whatever you say, sir. But come on, is it even possible to bulk up that much in what, three months?”

“You don’t think it’ll affect his jumps, right? Any added muscle mass would affect the axis of a jump because the body will be too heavy to jump-” 

“Oh stop worrying, you fanboy!” She slaps him softly on the arm. “He looks good , way better than when he was with what’s-his-face.”

Morooka sneers, “Do not mention He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

“Comparing Nobu to a mass-murdering, bigot. Very apt.” Fumiya rolls her eyes. “Oh, they’re starting the draw.”

“I hope he doesn’t get first.”

“You know, saying that is like an invitation, or- what’s the word- manifestation .”

“Don’t say something so scary.”

Katsuki-san rises up, a finger hooking around the strings around his left ear, and there is audible silence as he pulls the mask free, revealing his face. He readjusts his glasses, glances up towards one of the officials, and smiles

The official, more or less, faints on the spot, a hand coming up to rest on her chest just above her beating heart. Katsuki’s eyes widen, and he holds an arm out to help her find footing. 

Fumiya seethes by his side, pouting. “She did that on purpose. Well, I can’t blame her - if Katsuki-senshu smiled at me, I too would fall into his arms. He’s just so pretty .”

Morooka slams a hand over her mouth, muffling her words. “Be quiet! You’re supposed to be a professional, not some fangirl.”

“Says you!”

After the little commotion, Katsuki-san rummages through the bag of numbered blocks, choosing one and handing it to the official. 

“Number 27.” She speaks into the microphone, and there is a flurry of typing by the journalists around Morooka, sending off information back towards headquarters. There are far too many reporters at the competition, more than Morooka had ever seen before, especially for a junior competition. 

Well, when the Junior Ace of Japan reveals his coach is the famed Okukawa Minako, people are drooling at the chance to write an opinion piece. Will it be a strike of genius, or is it a harbinger of the apocalypse? Only time would tell. 

At least it’s not first , is all Morooka can think. Appreciate the small blessings, he always says. 

Morooka can feel Fumiya tense next to him as the draw continues, her hands tightening around the base of the tripod. He couldn’t find it in himself to ease her worries when his own were so overwhelming. 

The two of them could only hope and pray that Katsuki wouldn’t burst into flames on the ice. 

Chapter Text

全日本フィギュアスケート ✓ @FigureSkating_Japan

全日本フィギュアスケートは、日本におけるフィギュアスケートのスポーツの国家統治機関である日本スケート連盟(@JSF_Official)の子会社です。

[Japan Figure Skating is a subsidiary of the Japanese Skating Federation (@JSF_Official), the national governing body for the skating sports in Japan.]

📍 Japan 🇯🇵                🗓️ Joined January 2006

5,092 following         10,719 followers 

Followed by 勇生+[Yuki], okukawa-minako, JSF_Official, d.yamaguchi, kihara-yumi & 221 others 

 

Tweets       Tweets & replies        Media        Likes 

 

📌 Pinned Tweet   

全日本フィギュアスケート ✓ @FigureSkating_Japan . Apr 19 

 

 

[Video description: short clips of various Japanese skaters from all the disciplines from previous National competitions. It ends with information about the up-coming All-Japan Championships]

チケット発売中!

全日本選手権は、12月25日に東京の武蔵野の森スポーツプラザで開催されます。チケットは武蔵野の公式サイト以下から入手できます!

42 🗨️  153 ⟲ 278 ♡ 

[Tickets on sale now! The All-Japan Championships will be hosted at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo on December 25th. Tickets are available through the Musashino’s official website, below!]

 

⟲ 全日本フィギュアスケート ✓ @FigureSkating_Japan Retweeted . 32m

 

NHK SPORTS✓  @NHK+Sports . 42m

全日本ジュニアフィギュアスケート競技会が今夜札幌で始まります! NHK Sportsでのみ生中継をご覧ください。

3 🗨️  14 ⟲ 52 ♡ 

[The All-Japan Junior Figure Skating competition begins in Sapporo tonight! Watch live coverage only on NHK Sports.] 

 

⟲  全日本フィギュアスケート ✓ @FigureSkating_Japan Retweeted . 36m

 

山口デビッド @d.yamaguchi . 1d 

[Photo Description: A picture of two ice dancers behind a Japanese flag, holding up silver medals, grinning.]

ありがとう、フランス!血と汗と涙を流した後、@kihara-yumi 私はついに切望された北京のステージに到達しました。グランプリファイナルで日本にメダルを持ち帰るために頑張ります!

23 🗨️  53 ⟲ 78 ♡ 

[Thank you, France! After shedding blood, sweat, and tears, @kihara-yumi and I have finally reached the coveted Beijing stage. We will do our best to bring a medal home for Japan at the Grand Prix Final!]

 

Figure Skating Japan @FigureSkating_Japan . 32m 

日本の未来:全日本ジュニアフィギュアスケート競技会のショートプログラムが本日から始まります!下のリンクをクリックして、公式ウェブサイトのスケジュールのタイミングと、コンテストの視聴場所を確認してください。

3 🗨️  5 ⟲ 18 ♡ 

[The future of Japan: The All-Japan Junior Figure Skating Competition short program begins today! Click on the link below to see the schedule timings on our official website, as well as where to watch the competition!]

*** 

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating 

Your inside scoop on all things figure skating! A fan-account run by @jessie-bessie of @PlanetNikiforov, @mihana and @yeolhaeni, who have created a network of dedicated admins all across the world to make figure skating more accessible. Working with groups of translators, our account details all-things figure skating for new fans to enjoy, including updates on the latest competitions worldwide, guidelines for audience etiquette during shows and links for ticket sales! Follow our Translating Team on @Insider-Skating-Trans! Follow our blog for the latest competition schedules and results on insider-skating.fs

📍 Worldwide 🌎        🔗youtube.com/channel/FsiehB        🗓️ Joined February 2005 

21 following         7,719 followers

Followed by @PlanetNikiforov, @jessie-bessie, @CaoBinBabies, @mihana and 31 others

 

Tweets        Tweets & replies         Media          Likes 

 

📌 Pinned   

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating . Aug 4

The Grand Prix Final will be held in Beijing, China from December 11! Tickets are available through the Capital Gymnasium’s website. Check out our blog post to find how to buy them if you are an international fan!

[A link to a blog post detailing all the information for international fans on how to book tickets, including a step-by-step instruction on how to navigate Capital Gymnasium website, including translations of the website from Mandarin into English, Russian and Japanese.] 

22 🗨️  367 ⟲ 578 ♡

 

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating . 41m

Following the last Grand Prix qualifying event, Arthur Dupont of France rounds up the six skaters who made it to the finals in Beijing! Here are the rankings: 

  1. Viktor Nikiforov, RUSSIA
  2. James Richard, USA 
  3. Cao Bin, CHINA
  4. Alexander Ricci, ITALY 
  5. Christophe Giacometti, SWITZERLAND
  6. Arthur Dupont, FRANCE

23 🗨️  435 ⟲ 832 ♡

 

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating . 42m

Russia’s Viktor Nikiforov is welcomed back to China for the finals after making figure skating history in the country a few weeks ago at the Cup of China in Shanghai. Whilst it’s unfortunate that China’s Wei Zhan failed to make it to the finals by a mere two points, we’re sure his compatriot, Cao Bin, will bring home a medal for his home country in his stead. The Grand Prix Finals in Beijing will be the first in history to host both the Junior Grand Prix Final and the Senior Grand Prix Final simultaneously. Here’s to hoping for an exciting competition!  - Admin Jess

3 🗨️  17 ⟲ 32 ♡

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating . 52m

Our admin from Japan, @mihana, will be live-updating the Junior Japan Nationals on her account! Click the link below to join her livechat, including live translations and reactions by our admins! Let’s cheer on the future generation of skaters from Japan!

2 🗨️  5 ⟲ 21 ♡

*** 

 

LIVE CHAT 💥  北海道札幌市での全日本ジュニアフィギュアスケート選手権 [The All-Japan Junior Figure Skating Championship in Sapporo, Hokkaido]

ルールを破ると、すぐに削除されます。これには、悪意のある表現、中傷、乱暴な言葉遣い、あらゆるスケーターに対する憎悪が含まれます。これはポジティブなスペースにすぎません。ルールに従わない場合は、管理者がすぐに削除することを意味します。

Нарушение правил означает немедленное удаление. Это включает в себя ненавистнические высказывания, оскорбления, ненормативную лексику и ненависть по отношению к любым фигуристам. Это только положительный момент, несоблюдение правил означает немедленное удаление администраторами.

违反规则意味着立即删除。这包括仇恨言论、诽谤、强硬语言和对任何滑冰者的仇恨。这只是一个积极的空间,不遵守规则意味着管理员立即删除。

규칙 위반은 즉각적인 제거를 의미합니다. 여기에는 증오심 표현, 비방, 강한 언어 및 모든 스케이터에 대한 증오가 포함됩니다. 이것은 긍정적인 공간일 뿐이며 규칙을 준수하지 않으면 관리자가 즉시 제거합니다.

Breaking of rules means immediate removal. This includes hate speech, slurs, strong language and any hate towards skaters. This is a positive space only, failure to comply with rules means immediate removal by admins. 

MODERATORS: @mihana, @あかり, @キリンのミヤ

それらはチャットで強調表示され、人々がそれらを認識できるようになります。どんな問題でもあなたのテキストでそれらにタグを付けることによってそれらに向けられるべきです。

Moderators will be highlighted in the chat so that everyone will recognise them. Any issue should be directed towards them by tagging them in your message.

楽しんで、ジュニアスケーターを応援しましょう!

Let’s have fun, and cheer on the junior skaters! 

LIVE CHAT 💥  …

@mihana has entered … 

@あかり has entered … 

@キリンのミヤ has entered … 

@mihana is typing …. 

@mihana: … チャットは機能していますか [Is the chat working?] 

@あかり and @キリンのミヤ is typing … 

@あかり : すべて良い - あかり [All good - Akari] 

@キリンのミヤ: 私の側ではすべて問題ありませんが、誰が翻訳に集中しますか?[All fine on my end, who’ll be focusing on translating?]

@mihana: します!あかりは私と一緒にストリームを設定しています。では、モデレートに集中できますか?[I will! Akari is with me now setting up the stream. So can you focus on moderating?] 

@キリンのミヤ: 私にはいいですね!あかりはライブストリーミングをもう整理しましたか?[Sounds good to me! Has Akari sorted out the live-streaming yet?] 

@mihana: 彼女は私の場所に来て、今それを整理しています!私たちは行く準備ができているはずです [She's over at my place, sorting it out now! We should be ready to go!] 

@キリンのミヤ: 次に、チャットを公開します[Then I’ll open the chat up to the public!]

 

CHAT ON …

@芽衣 has entered ... 

@暁 has entered ...

@figureskatingpsycho has entered ...

@skatingsandwich has entered ...

@niki-bitchy has entered ...

@minhyun-honey and 12 other people have entered… 

@芽衣 is typing … 

@芽衣: 管理者さん、ストリーミングありがとうございます![Admin-san, thank you for streaming!] 

@mihana: @芽衣, 参加していただきありがとうございます!ストリーミングがまもなく開始されます![@芽衣, thank you for joining! Streaming will start soon!] 

4 others are typing… 

@jessie-bessie has entered 

@jessie-bessie: @mihana, Miha! Has the stream started yet? 

@mihana: Jess! We’re still setting up the streaming link, it’s taking a while because Akari is trying to connect my television to the laptop. But you know how quick she works, it should be up and running in a few. 

@鈴木: 勝己選手はいつ出演しますか?[When is Katsuki-senshu performing?] 

@mihana: @鈴木 彼は27番でドラフトされたので、ウォームアップグループ4に参加します。彼らは30分で競います。(ノ^∇^)  [He was drafted at Number 27, so he will be in Group 4. They will compete in half an hour.] 

@jessie-bessie: Which skater is the one you like? I’m clueless when it comes to Juniors that aren’t Russian lol. 

@mihana: Well, your head is only filled with Viktor so it makes sense, (ノД`) His name is Yuuri Katsuki, he’s seventeen and the current reigning Junior National champion. Buuut… I think you’d appreciate all the drama that’s going on around him. None is his fault, but drama nonetheless. 

@jessie-bessie: 👀, Drama you say? I wouldn’t be a Viktor fan if I wasn’t into gossip. Spill, pretty lady 😘

@mihana: Big drama. His coach left him around two months ago, and his new coach is really well-known in Japan. But not as a figure skating coach. She’s a ballerina . She’s his old ballet coach, I’m pretty sure she’s choreographed some of my favourite pieces by him too. 

@jessie-bessie: Woah, wait a ballerina is his coach ? Didn’t you say that his biggest weakness is in the technical aspects? How is a ballerina going to fix that? 

@mihana: That’s the issue, there’s no way that Okukawa-sensei would ever let her reputation be ruined. But I’m still really worried. It’s like he’s given up on jumps entirely, maybe he’ll switch to ice dancing if he finds a good enough partner and that’s why she’s there.  

@jessie-bessie is typing….

@jessie-bessie: …. Did you say Okukawa? As in Minako Okukawa? 

@mihana: Wow, I knew she was the most famous ballerina in Japanese history, but I didn’t think people outside of Japan knew her! 

@jessie-bessie: Miha- she used to work with Madame Baranovskaya, you know, Yakov’s ex-wife. Head teacher at the Mariinsky. Lilia Baranovskaya. 

@mihana: Woah, the world sure is small. 

@jessie-bessie: No, Miha- I don’t think you understand. She used to dance with Lilia at Mariinsky. She was the first non-white ballerina to perform as a principal dancer in Russian history, ever. She’s revered in Russia, almost as much as Lilia, heck, almost as much as Viktor is. And you just randomly drop in that she was Yuuri’s childhood dance teacher? 

@mihana: … Was I supposed to tell you this?

@jessie-bessie: YES! YOU FUCKING WERE! WHY THE HELL WOULD SHE TRAIN A NON-BALLERINA?! WHY ISN’T KATSUKI A DANSER? 

-- @jessie-bessie has been removed from the chat --

@キリンのミヤ: No swearing! Chat rules! 

-- Admin: @mihana has added @jessie-bessie back to the chat -- 

@jessie-bessie: Sorry, sorry! 

@figureskatingpsycho: How long until it starts? 

@mihana: @figureskatingpsycho Ten minutes! The video should be working now. 

[A black screen focuses on the side of the chat, taking up most of the computer screen. Then it starts to form a pixelated live-stream of the All-Japan Junior, with the camera focusing on an empty rink, with minimal people seated. There is not a big crowd.] 

11 people are typing… 

@芽衣: ワクワク[waku waku - an expression of excitement] 

@figure-skating-psycho: It’s starting, I wonder if Japan has any good junior skaters. They don’t have any standouts in seniors. 

@minhyun-honey: 파이팅, 유리! [Fighting, Yuuri!] 

@mihana: I apologise ahead of time that translations may come a little late, I will be translating as I go along so there will be a lag. 

[The chat starts to thrum with excitement, as @mihana begins to translate what the commentators are saying.] 

@mihana: … !!!!!!!!! 

@jessie-bessie: what’s going on? The commentators are speaking so fast. Mihaaaa! Translate for me 😩 😩 

12 people are typing… 

@mihana is typing… 

@ゆみ: ナニ ?!  [What?!] 

@mihana: 方法はありません [There is no way….] 

@芽衣: 私はパニック状態だ [I’m freaking out] 

@mihana: 彼が新しいショートプログラムを持っているとはどういう意味ですか?![What do you mean he has a new short program?!] 

@jessie-bessie: There is a lot of Japanese being said. My little monolingual brain does not understand 😢

@mihana: Commentator Suzuki Miyahara has stated that Katsuki-senshu will be performing an all-new short program!” - Admin mihana: It’s the middle of the season, what are you doing, child?!!! 

@jessie-bessie: A new program?! 

@mihana: Yes, a new program! I think I’m going to throw up. Being a Yuuri fan is going to give me an aneurysm. Why couldn’t I be a fan of Cao Bin, he never does shit like this. 

-- @mihana has been removed from the chat  -- 

@キリンのミヤ : @mihana (▼へ▼) 

@キリンのミヤ has added @mihana back to the chat -- 

@mihana: ごめん![Sorry!] 

@mihana: 新しいジャンプレイアウト?!彼はトリプルアクセルをやっていて、最後にコンビネーションジャンプをしています!!!彼は正気ですか?[A new jumping layout?! He's doing the triple axel and the combination jump at the end!!! Is he insane?!] 

@jessie-bessie: @mihana I don’t want to be the annoying American, but English please T.T 

@mihana: @jessie-bessie The commentator said that in run-throughs yesterday, Yuuri put all his hard jumping passes at the end of his routine(/_\)

@jessie-bessie: You’re joking. And he landed them?! 

@キリンのミヤ: 彼らは彼らのロバから話している必要があります。ユリがそれを危険にさらし、最後にジャンプを置くようなクソの方法はありません。[They have to be talking out of their asses. There's no fucking way Yuuri would risk it and put the jumps at the end.] 

-- @キリンのミヤ has been removed from the chat --

@mihana: ミヤ!あなたは文字通り私たちのモデレーターです!ルールを破らないでください。[Miya! You are literally our moderator! Don’t break the rules.] 

-- Admin: @mihana has added @キリンのミヤ back to the chat --

@キリンのミヤ: 私の心からの謝罪、私が約束することをこれ以上誓うことはありません. (⊃。•́‿•̀。)⊃ [My sincerest apologies, no more swearing, I promise.] 

@skatingsilverberry: Who is the skater that’s performing now? 

@キリンのミヤ: @skatingsilverberry - 山本明美, Yamamoto Akemi, 15. 

@skatingsilverberry: @@キリンのミヤ, thank you! He’s very good! Oooh, jinxed it. That looked like a nasty fall. 

@figureskatingpsycho: @skatingsilverberry, yeah, trying to do a triple axel is commendable, but he's only 15. I’m sure if he builds up some more muscles, he’ll be able to do it next year. 

@skatingsandwich : Japanese skaters always have the most beautiful edges 🥺

@ minhyun-honey: 유리 언제 나오나요 [When is Yuuri coming on?] 

@mihana: ‘Yamamoto-senshu is currently in the lead, scoring 58.25 in the short program. And now, introducing the next batch skaters to the rink! Suzuki-senshu, Watanabe-senshu, Kato-senshu, Kimura-senshu and Katsuki-senshu!’ 

@暁: ここにあります!ゆりくん!!! [He’s here!! Yuuri-kun!!!] 

12 people are typing …

@芽衣: ゆりくん!あなたはここにいる!!!私はあなたがスケートをするのを見るのを逃しました!!! [Yuuri-kun, you are here! I’ve missed watching you skate!!!] 

@minhyun-honey: 유리!!! [Yuuri!!!] 

@skatingsilverberry: Let’s go, Yuuri!

@キリンのミヤ: ヘ(´∀`ヘ)ヘ(´∀`ヘ)(ノ´∀`)ノ(ノ´∀`)ノ

@jessie-bessie: Daayuum. 

@mihana: I TOLD YOU! Isn’t he so cuuuute???!!! 

@jessie-bessie: Where have you been hiding him?! WAIT, oh my gosh he is too cute, look at him doing figures!!!

@mihana: He always does those to warm up his ankles! And look- wow, Okukawa-sensei is so pretty (〜 ̄△ ̄)〜 how is she over forty?! 

@jessie-bessie: SHE’S WHAT?! 

@mihana: Asian genes are scary (シ_ _)シ I hope I age half as well as she does. 

@mihana: Translations for the commentator’s comments about Katsuki-senshu: 

‘All eyes are on the reigning national champion! This will be the last time Katsuki-senshu will be eligible for juniors, so I hope he leaves on a high note.’  

‘Yes, Okamoto-san, we hope Katsuki-senshu will be able to show us his best performance before he moves up to seniors. And from what we saw in practice yesterday, it’ll be an end like no other.’ 

‘Yes, Katsuki-senshu shocked us when he performed his short program during practice yesterday, it’s a completely different routine to the one that won him a ticket to this year’s Grand Prix final. Perhaps I’m a little biased, but I think it’s one of the best programs I have ever seen a skater do!’ 

‘Okamoto-san, I couldn’t agree more! The skating skills, the transitions! Absolutely divine, look there he is now, going through some step sequences before the warm-up is over. Name one senior skater in Japan or elsewhere that does turns as crisp as he does! And aww, there he is, talking to his coach, the beloved Okukawa-sensei. She seems to be telling him something over the rink- I wonder how she coaches him? There’s such an ease with how the two converse with each other.’ 

@芽衣 : ゆうりくんが大会でこんなに気持ちよく見えるのを見たことがない 0.0 [I've never seen Yuuri-kun look so comfortable at a competition before 0.0] 

[The screen filters over to other skaters warming up, the commentators are introducing them one by one. The camera then pans towards Yuuri, who does a clean triple axel from a back-counter entry.]  

13 people are typing …

@skatingsilverberry: WHAT WAS THAT?! 

@mihana: !!!!!!!!!!!! 

@figureskatingpsycho: THE TRIPLE AXEL? DID YOU SEE THE HEIGHT OF THAT THING? 

@jessie-bessie: FORGET THE HEIGHT! Did you see that entry ?! How the fuck did he do a back-counter into a triple axel ?! I’ve never seen that before!!!!! 

-- @jessie-bessie has been removed from the chat --

-- Admin: @キリンのミヤ has added @jessie-bessie back to the chat -- 

@jessie-bessie: I stand by my language. No other word could describe the feelings I felt watching that triple axel more aptly than a swear word. Someone better make a gif set of that, because sheeeeeesshh 

@mihana : - Hi, @あかり here. Just wanted everyone to know that Hana-chan may or may not have fainted over that triple axel. 

@jessie-bessie: Understandable. 

@figureskatingpsycho: samesies 

@キリンのミヤ: @mihana ツイン [twins] 

@mihana: I am back, bitches. Nothing can keep me from Yuuri-kun. 

-- @mihana has been removed from the chat  --

-- Admin: @キリンのミヤ has added @mihana to the chat -- 

@skatingsandwich: That was such a clean triple axel! Yuuri’s always struggled with them, but he did that one so easily!! What kind of training is Okukawa putting him under? 👀

@niki-bitchy: Fingers crossed he lands it in competition!!!! 🤞

@skatingsandwich: Prayer Circle! ✨ Yuuri will land all his jumps ✨  🙏 🙏 🙏

@niki-bitchy: 🙏

@mihana:  🙏

@jessie-bessie: 🙏

@skatingsilverberry: 🙏

@芽衣: 🙏

@キリンのミヤ: 🙏

@ minhyun-honey: 🙏

*** 

Makomanai Ice Arena, 

Sapporo, Japan

 

“You ready, kid?” 

There is a thrill of excitement running through Yuuri’s veins. It travels from the top of his head, through to every single one of his limbs and joints. Minako stands before him, separated by the rinkside barrier. 

There are cheers, but it’s not deafening, not in the way they used to be. But that was alright, in fact, it was preferable. Minako stands there, tall and pristine, and propped beside her on top of the barrier, is Hime - ‘Princess’. His little reminder of Ice Castle, 2,000 miles away in Sapporo. 

Yuuri clasps his hand with Minako, takes one deep breath before nodding. He turns towards Hime, rests his hand on top of the plushie’s head, and closes his eyes. 

He counts down the seconds in his head, mind going blank. 

Three …

Two …

One … 

He takes one more deep breath and opens his eyes. 

Time for the show to start.

*** 

Sports Champions Club, 

St. Petersburg, Russia 

 

Yuri should not be here. 

It’s a Saturday, which means he should be at home in Moscow with Dedushka, making pancakes and convincing his grandfather that hot chocolate and cream were miles ahead of drinking tea with strawberry jam. He should be in his pyjamas, sprawled across their beaten, brown coach (that had definitely been white at some point), engulfed in a multitude of blankets and cushions and watching morning cartoons, with their legs intertwined.

Instead, he’s still in St. Petersburg, alone at the rink. 

The guilt in Yuri’s gut builds as he sits in the meeting room. He doesn’t want to think about Dedushka’s somber response when Yuri had called him and said that he wouldn’t be able to come down this weekend, and tries to steer his thoughts to the present. 

The meeting room is essentially a lobby and hangout area for skaters. There are a few minifridges scattered around the room, and at least ten different seating areas fitted with matching cushions and foot stools. The perks of a government-funded rink , Yuri scoffs to himself, settling into the coach closest towards the television. 

Nikiforov should be practicing around this time, which meant that everyone had emptied out of the meeting room to scramble towards the rink’s viewing seats, fawning over the ‘best figure skater in Russian history’. Yuri would be left alone, just how he wanted it to be. 

He grabs the television remote, frantically flicking through the channel. It’s the one reason he’s here, because Yakov always makes sure that the rink’s television is subscribed to all of the sport’s channels in existence, even the barely-watched, small time ones. 

It’s for that reason that Yuri is here, and not at home with Dedushka. 

He finally finds the obscure channel, Eurosport 5 , not even on the main channel, and sighs in relief. He’d just made it in time. 

If he doesn’t do well, Yuri swears on his ten-year-old heart that he will fly over to Japan and kick the older skater’s ass. He did not waste a weekend away from Dedushka for Katsuki to do a shitty double axel. 

He better blow his fucking mind

Yuri can barely pick up on the words that the commentator is sprouting, internally seething at the fact that it’s in English and not Russian. There’s Yakov’s voice in his head, nagging him to attend his English lessons. Yuri knows it’ll be required of him, if he ever wants to become Russia’s next greatest skater in the international field, but dammit, he’s Russian , so he’ll speak Russian. 

Yuri takes a deep breath, feeling nerves begin to build in his stomach. Yuuri Katsuki is talking to his coach, a young woman who has the same stern look in her eyes as Lilia. Yuri turns pale at the thought. 

He seems to talk to her for a moment, before his hand comes to rest on top of a teddy-bear. It looks like Makkachin , Yuri realises, scowling. All this time, he had thought Katsuki was a cat-person. It would’ve been another thing they had in common, what with the fact that they were both figure skaters and had the same name. If he turns out to be a poodle-lover, Yuri will disown him. He’ll no longer be his rival. 

Because that’s who Yuuri Katuski is to him. When Yuri was seven, he had the chance to go along with Yakov to the Junior World Championships three years ago. All of the skaters were nobodies, throwing in jumps that they didn’t even land. They looked like giraffes on skates, stumbling around without an inch of grace. 

And then Katsuki took to the ice. He looked like he had wings with the way he glided. Sure, his jumps weren’t the best, but neither were the rest of the competition. Katsuki could do spins that Viktor could only dream of. He was the only male figure skater Yuri had ever seen that could compete with ladies in the spin department, and then his step sequences made Yuri wince from pain with how quick he would turn into some of his elements. Forget Yuri, Viktor could never do a Yuuri Katsuki step sequence. 

So Katsuki better do well. Yuri had given up his weekend with Dedushka for this. If Katsuki didn’t show Japan that he was their ace skater, then Yuri would never forgive him. He’d make it his life goal to bring Katsuki down to his knees. If they shared the same name, they both have to be the best. 

On screen, Katsuki takes a deep breath, and then hands over his ‘Team Japan’ jacket to his coach and-

“...What the fuck!” Yuri screeches, flinging the remote behind him as he leaps to his feet. That was not his costume. Yuri had been waiting for the eyesore of Katsuki’s costume, he was waiting for the horrible clash of shimmering purple and mint to match with the horrendous disco music that his coach had given him this season. 

It had been an alright piece, outgoing even, but Katsuki had looked like a child playing dress-up in his mother’s clothes. He looked awkward, uncomfortable , and not even his god-given step sequences had saved him from ridicule. 

But this was very different. All of a sudden, Katsuki was shrouded in blues and whites, contrasted with jewel waves slipping across his shoulders and down to his fingertips. He looks ethereal, and as he skates around the rink during his pre-warm up, the fabric glides around him like a fairytale. Even his pants are different, a stark white that the blue waves seep into and surround. It’s tight against his legs, curving against every inch of muscle. 

Katsuki returns to the middle of the ice, arms extended in a graceful stretch of lines, and then the music starts. 

Yuri wants to scream but his voice escapes him. All he can do is grab a cushion off the sofa and fling it towards the expensive , government-paid, television. He misses, because of course at that moment, Katsuki turns into multiple, single-footed twizzles like it’s nothing. This is not the same short program. No, it is a flowing piano piece, one which Katsuki twists and turns into as if he is simply an extension of the musician’s fingers. 

He’s not even jumping , throwing himself straight into a step sequence. The edges of his skates dig deep into the ice, and Yuri’s eyes widen in shock at the utter confidence that Katsuki exudes. 

“Maybe it’s because he’s only doing step sequences.” Yuri tells himself. “Yeah, that has to be it.” 

And of course he’s proved fucking wrong. Because right when Yuri says that, Katsuki throws himself into a perfectly executed triple lutz that lands right as the music changes. 

Yuri can only gape, mouth dropped so wide he’s sure flies would zoom right in and he wouldn’t even notice. And it doesn’t stop then - Katsuki’s spins have always been a thing of beauty, but the speed in which he executes these variations, dropping down into a sit spin with his arms flowing around into beautiful lines that would make Lilia cry and then into another sit spin where his leg is twisted around like it’s broken - all of the elements match the crescendo of music that Katsuki embodies. 

And then, as if to completely murder Yuri, Katsuki turns into an layback spin, matching the frezy of the music only to then do a fucking biellmann . What male skater does a biellmann? Yuuri Katsuki, that’s who. 

The music continues, and Katsuki doesn’t even look winded. He draws the audience in, every breath he takes matched with the tempo of the music. And then, when most people would be winded, Katsuki steps into a gorgeous array of sequenced steps, including rockers and mohawks. It’s as if he’s playing with the audience, telling them to keep up with him as his body moves at an inhuman speed across the ice rink. Who the fuck entered Katsuki’s body? Because this sure is not him. 

And then, just to fuck with Yuri a bit, he does a back-counter into a triple axel. A triple axel. With a clean, fucking landing. A triple axel - when he’s been struggling all season with doing a double. 

Just kill him now. It would hurt less. 

***

trending . sports ( Japan) 

ジュニアナショナルズ

[Junior Nationals] 

1k

奥川 ミナコ

[Okukawa Minako]

2k 

かつき ゆうり

[Katsuki Yuuri]

982

トリプルアクセル

[Triple axel] 

15k 

*** 

Fuji TV Channel 2 @Fuji_C2 . 12m

カツキ ユウリ選手は最後のジュニアナショナルで驚愕し、シニアレベルのアスリートよりも高い得点を記録しました

3 🗨️  7 ⟲ 41 ♡ 

[Katsuki Yuuri-senshu wows at his last Junior Nationals, scoring higher than athletes at the senior level.] 

 

ASAHI SPORTS CENTRE @Asahi_Sports . 14m

ユウリ・カツキ選手が全日本ジュニアフィギュアスケート選手権で優勝

7 🗨️  18 ⟲ 32 ♡ 

[Katsuki Yuuri-senshu wins All-Japan Junior Figure Skating Championships with a defeating margin] 

 

TBS NEWS @TBS_Sports . 16m 

グランプリファイナルに向けて出発する前に、カツキユリ選手は日本に彼が彼らのエースである理由を示します。

8 🗨️  12 ⟲ 27 ♡ 

[Before he leaves for the Grand Prix Final, Katsuki Yuuri-senshu shows Japan why he is their Ace.] 

 

*** 

Makomanai Ice Arena, 

Sapporo, Japan 

 

Yuuri feels gross. There is sweat still trapped in the delicate fabric of his costume. He can feel it dripping down his back, trapped between his body and the delicate, breathable fabric of his long program costume. 

The costumes had been hard to find, especially at such a short notice. But Yuuri would be damned if he continued skating in the atrocity of his old Lohengrin piece. But commissioning a new costume took months of preparations and alterations. Yuuri did not have that time or money available. 

So he did what he did best, and dragged Mari to the local fabric store in Saga City. 

It had been difficult finding the right material, ones that were stretchy and breathable for Yuuri’s skating, as well as sturdy enough to deal with all of his elaborate spins and jumps. Even when they found the right pieces, the fabrics were never in the right colour. 

It had taken weeks of dying pieces of cotton to find the right colour, and finally, his mother and Minako had stepped in, commadering the entire process. Minako, Yuuri found out, was very apt at sewing, a leftover skill from having to deal with her own alterations for her ballet costumes in the 80s. His mother helped, painstakingly hand-dying every panel of fabric. The end results were the labours of love from the women in his life, his main support system. 

So Yuuri has no right to feel gross, not when every time he moved across the ice and his costume had reflected against the ice, he remembered his mother’s hands stained blue, or when the spotlights had beaded against the pearl detail embedded into his pink sleeves he’d be reminded of Minako next to him, hunched over and helping to hand stitch tiny crystals into a wave of patterns. 

So Yuuri slips on his national jacket over the stretches of pale pink organza, and stands with his back straight. 

He had won this competition, completely obliterated the competition. He will bring the medal back to his hometown, and he will be proud. There would be no mistaking it any longer, Yuuri Katsuki was here to stay.

Chapter Text

[A transcript of a think piece, posted to the NHK Sports website, page 5] 

[OPINION] Okukawa-sensei turns to figure skating: Coaching the Junior National Champion, Katsuki Yuuri shows new things for the future of Japanese figure skating

It is an understatement to say that figure skating has been dominated by European and North American, currently led by the prodigal-genius of Russia’s Viktor Nikiforov. Asia, in contrast, has failed to produce the greats that they once so heavily boasted back in the 1970s, with recently only China’s Cao Bin-senshu medaling in the senior cycle. No country has felt this downturn trajectory more so than Japan. 

Only a handful of Japanese female skaters have competed at ISU sanctioned events, even less so in the men’s field. And then, five years ago, Japan produced one of it’s finest figure skaters in the Junior scene. At age thirteen, Katsuki-senshu went on to medal at his first Junior Grand Prix Finals, and win silver at the Junior World Championship. It was Japan’s first silver medal in the Junior field in over thirteen years. 

Katsuki Yuuri was single handedly spearheading Japan’s name within the figure skating circuit, and at such a young age. 

Perhaps the pressure had gotten to him, but it seemed that by age fifteen, Katsuki-senshu’s upward streak of brilliance began to dwindle. At least, that is what most people thought. 

I, however, have always thought differently. 

There are many naysayers in the country about Katsuki’s ability to compete under pressure, that he is a beautiful skater, but his inability to land jumps consistently in this day and age in figure skating, is detrimental to his consistency. At first, I believed it to be a mental block he was unable to overcome, perhaps the pressure of being Japan’s only athlete to medal at a major event was too much for the young teenager. 

And then this year’s Junior Championship changed everything. 

The figure skating world was sent into shockwaves earlier this week when famed ballerina, Okukawa Minako, was rumoured to be coaching the junior National Champion, Katsuki Yuuri. When the All-Japan Junior Championships commenced in Sapporo, Hokkaido last night, those rumours were verified by Okukawa-sensei herself, as she and Katsuki-senshu walked into the rink together, amongst heightened media scrutiny. 

At this event, Katsuki-senshu not only annihilated the other competitors, but showed a complete command over his own mindset.

With a new coach, he not only competed with completely brand new programs, but was also able to land every single one of his jumps within his routines. But it was not just the fact that he produced a clean program, but the manner in which he did so. 

After the recent restructuring of the points system by the International Skating Union (ISU), jumps completed after the halfway point in a program are awarded an extra 10% bonus, in a bid to make programs more balanced, rather than the typical layout of completing all the jump passes at the beginning. 

Katsuki-senshu employed this tactic within his program, backloading most of his hard jumping passes (which included a back-counter entry into a triple axel and triple-triple jumps, including a jaw-dropping triple salchow-euler-triple flip combination in his free program), when for most it would be difficult to complete one.

At a time when most skaters would be gasping for air on tired legs, just trying to get over each spin and step sequence, Katsuki-senshu showed incredible stamina and control as he landed every single one of his difficult jumping passes after the half-way mark. 

The result was jaw-dropping. 

Katsuki-senshu utilised all aspects that were thrown to him, and packaged such technical difficulty into a program that highlights his artistic integrity as a danser himself. No doubt inspired by his coach, Katsuki-senshu melded together the artistry of ballet with the physical demand of figure skating to create a moment on the ice. 

After quite some difficulty, I was able to receive a quote from his esteemed coach, Okukawa-sensei: 

“Yuuri-kun really had no other choice. After being let down for so long, I was the only sensei he trusted. The rest was up to him, he choreographed his pieces, he figured out the technical difficulties and how to make his jumping pattern consistent. After the betrayal we all felt earlier this season, it was truly Yuuri who dug deep within himself and gave up his blood, sweat and tears for this. I wouldn’t expect any less, though, from the most hardworking and beloved of my students.” 

Okukawa-sensei’s words were especially enlightening. It is within conceivable thought that perhaps Katsuki-senshu was not in the right environment when he had his sudden ‘fall from grace’. It was evidently seen at the Junior Nationals, where he was able to perform triple axels with such efficiency that is yet to be seen in even the senior skating circuit. There has never been someone who has landed a back-counter entry into a triple axel from my knowledge. How could a skater like this have been performing double axels only months ago?  

Only time will answer all questions, but from what has occurred during the Junior Nationals, I for one am extremely excited to watch Katsuki-senshu bloom under the right guidance. He is a fantastic athlete to watch, and I am hopeful for the future. 

Written by  もろおか  ひさし [Morooka Hisahi],

figure skating commentator and sports journalist,

NHK Sports.

 

COMMENTS (12):  

@ mihana: これは私が最初に考えたことを確認します-ノブはユウリを放棄しました。シーズンの途中でこれを行う恐ろしいコーチは何ですか? [ This confirms what I originally thought - Nobu abandoned Yuuri. What a horrible coach, who does this in the middle of a season?] 

@サラ: ノブが最高のコーチではないことは知っていましたが、奥川先生は、ユリくんが自分で教えなければならなかったことを暗示していますか?性交。それは私を怒らせた。なぜ彼は自分自身をコーチと呼ぶのでしょうか? [I knew that Nobu wasn't the best coach, but Okukawa-sensei implying that Yuuri-kun had to teach himself? Fuck off. That made me angry. Why would he even call himself a coach?] 

@メイ: クリエイティブな違いだと思いましたが、そうではないと思います[I thought it was creative differences, but I guess not.]

@rina-k: さて、それは奥川先生がフィギュアスケート選手をコーチする理由に答えます。彼女はバレリーナです、なぜ彼女は彼女が経験のない場所に入るのですか?[Well it makes sense if Okukawa-sensei had to come in, she is a ballerina, why would she coach figure skating? That Nobu person must be a real piece of work.] 

@tadashi-yuki: それはとてもめちゃくちゃです [It’s so fucked up] 

@mini-minato: しかし、それは理にかなっています。奥川先生と文字通りゆうりくんの見た目がとても気楽に見えます[It makes sense though. You can literally the way Yuuri-kun looks so at ease with Okukawa-sensei] 

@ミュウミュウ: ノブだったら二度と顔を出さないRIP [If I was Nobu, I’d never show my face again RIP]  

load more comments … 

***

 

Hasetsu Higashi Senior High, 

Hasetsu, Japan 

 

Yuuri is going to die. 

He only just stepped foot into Hasetsu Higashi, ready for another dreary day of slugging through school. Yuuri had forgotten how tiring it was to compete  - it wasn’t just the physical exhaustion he felt, but the mental fatigue of actually competing. 

With the JSF’s trust newly repaired, Yuuri had been thrown into so many meetings with the federation. Minako had taken control, it seemed that after getting over the initial shock of coaching, she settled into the commediaring role she always had. As expected of his favourite teacher, Yuuri had thought. 

But that also meant press interviews, something Yuuri could deal without. No matter how much he thought about it, suddenly being able to pull off insane triple jumps after struggling all season - on top of competing with new programs - was a reporter’s wet dream. Actually pulling it off made for an amazing story, the sort of underdog situation that people ate up - so Yuuri had been hounded ever since he left the rink after the short program. 

Minako, in all her ever-knowing wisdom, whisked Yuuri away immediately, slipping out of an emergency exit with a black car waiting, ready to speed them back to the hotel like a James Bond movie. 

It was even worse after he won - the press conference was tolerable, most of the questions were pre-picked so he didn’t have to answer anything evasive. He only answered as vaguely as he could, giving away nothing, but also making sure that his newfound confidence came across, especially to his competitors. 

Yuuri may not actually be confident, but he sure as hell could act like he was. 

The highlight of everything though had to be when he randomly ran into Nobu during backstage warmups. The man barely even looked him in the eye, scuttling away amongst a crowd of what was definitely the Yamura School. He was carrying bags - guess the job wasn’t as promising as he said it was. 

After, in their shared hotel rooms, Yuuri and Minako had howled with laughter, with actual tears running down their faces. With a prompt call to Mari to deliver the news of their encounter, the two had risen the next day with newfound vigour to continue competing. The result was expected. 

So, after completely draining himself of all energy, Yuuri was ready to return home and rest. He wasn’t expecting this. 

“Congratulations, Katsuki-senpai!” 

“Senpai, I watched your competition! It was so cool!” 

“Katsuki-san, well done on winning Nationals!”

It was like a swarm of bees - maybe wasps, Yuuri couldn’t tell if they were being mean or not, so their tails may sting sooner or later. Most of them seemed to have earnest expressions and were giving actual congratulations, so all Yuuri could do was bow slightly in response and then run for the hills. The hills being his homeroom.

It didn’t get any better after that. 

Throughout his morning classes, Yuuri could feel the beady eyes of his classmates staring into him continuously. It didn’t help that whenever there was a break in-between classes, their homeroom became an exhibition, with a herd of animals completely blocking off the exit with the amount of people clamouring to catch a glimpse of him.

It made Yuuri want to curl up in a hole and die

Maybe it’s a little dramatic of him, but after sending a text to Christophe about his predicament, the Swiss skater had sent to him one text in response - A valid reaction - which in itself made Yuuri want to throttle the man. 

The morning progresses with Yuuri on edge the whole time. He dreads the moment that the bell starts to ring, signalling lunch. There would be no escaping. His only options were to stay inside the classroom, or try and escape. Neither would be easy. 

All he wanted to do was rest - maybe he should’ve brought a game console or a book, something that could signal he was too busy for people to come up to him and strike up a conversation. Oh god, people will start talking to him. 

How does he have a conversation again? What do kids these days talk about? Fuck, Yuuri’s only friends are a married couple, how the hell does he interact with teenagers? 

Maybe if he pretends to fall asleep, people will leave him alone. That could work- Yuuri muses, eyes trailing around the classroom. He turns towards his seatmate, prepared to see the same beady eyes zoning in on him, only to find the boy - Abe-san, Yuuri remembers - completely engrossed in a game. 

Yuuri’s eyes widen. 

“Holy shit. Is that Kazeno ?!” 

Yuuri’s seatmate blinks once. Blinks twice. And then looks up at him. His mouth gapes open. 

Yuuri squirms slightly in his seat. His feet knock against the gym bag underneath his desk. Subconsciously, he pushes his glasses back up his nose bridge - a nervous habit that always flares up whenever Yuuri is stressed. 

The boy just stares, mouth slack, at Yuuri. “Wha-”

Kazeno Fight ?” Yuuri rushes out, hoping to break whatever silent spell had struck his seatmate. “I recognise the monster. Which level are you on?”

If it’s even more possible, his seatmate’s jaw falls even lower. “..Er… thirteen.”

At least he’s actually answering Yuuri’s question, and Yuuri almost takes this as a victory until he repeats the level back in his head. Level Thirteen. Wait… level thirteen?!

He can’t stop the yelp that spits out of his mouth. He subconsciously recognises that his voice was way too loud, causing the whole classroom to fall silent and stare at him with the same shock as his seatmate. But what the fuck - Yuuri is so painfully jealous . He’d been stuck on level nine for the past month

Since his return from the future, Yuuri had found ample time alone in his room, forced to rest on the weekends by both Minako and his parents. One thing that took his mind off of everything, especially when practice wasn’t going his way, was to lose himself and spend hours playing video games. 

His absolute favourite was Kazeno Fight -  a typical fantasy RPG, but one that he distinctly remembers introducing Yura to. It was their thing , every Friday after practice, they would settle on top of Viktor’s absurdly expensive coach, with Makkachin and Potya curled around their feet, and completely destroy demon guts. 

It was both sentimental and addictive - it didn’t take long for Yuuri to get hooked on it once again. 

He had been stuck on level ten for over a month - granted, he didn’t have as much time to play, what with all of his focus being entirely on training, but still . Level Thirteen was renowned - a hidden level created by the gamemakers, one that very few players were able to even unlock, let alone actually play. 

Yuuri feels his insides curl . It’s been so long since he’s talked about the game before, he misses strategizing with Yura, staying up late until three in the morning to play with only Viktor being the boring person who forced them to go to sleep. 

He can feel himself beginning to drivel, not even recognising the words he was sprouting, just letting out his excitement at seeing another person playing one of his favourite games. 

It’s at that moment when he hears someone else in the class squeak, and turns to find that the entire classes’ eyes were on him. 

Yuuri gapes, slamming a hand to cover his mouth. Eyes widening in embarrassment, he can feel heat travel up his spine and explode through his body. He probably looked like a tomato.

“I’m so sorry!” He cries out. If there truly was a god on this timeline, please, just put him out of his misery. “I must've distracted you from the level. I’m so sorry.” He does the only thing that he does well, and that’s bow down repeatedly, incredibly embarrassed. 

There is another cry from somewhere else in the room, and then there is a huge uproar around him. Yuuri thinks he’s going to die. 

“There’s nothing to apologise for, Yuuri-kun!”

“Yuuri-kun, don’t bow down to anyone!” 

“You can speak all you want!” 

“No!” Yuuri’s eyes widen at the voice coming from his seatmate, who has slammed down his console onto his desk. Everyone’s eyes turn towards him, and he flushes bright red. “Please stop apologizing, you didn’t distract me. I’ve already done this level before.” 

“No!” He clamps down on Yuuri’s apologies, feeling the burn of his classmates’ gaze. “It’s fine. I’ve done this level already.”

“You’ve finished the secret level?!” Yuuri positions his body so he’s leaning over into Abe’s space. There’s another gasp sounding out from the classroom.  “What’s your rank?”

“Platinum.”

Damn , I’m only gold. What different weapons do you have?” 

“I’ve got the machete, but if I finish this side-quest I can gain enough stars to build the star-sword.” 

“Woah! I’ve been trying to collect enough coins for the katana. If you need the materials, the side-quest from Harumaki Island gives double the amount than this one-” Yuuri points at the map, before realising what he’s done. 

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry-”

“It’s fine.” Abe smiles. Katsuki’s talking about games, and Abe can do games. “We can try it now? I can show you how to beat the hideout level.” 

His classmate looks up at him, and Yuuri can see the hesitation in his eyes. But then he nervously nods his head, a soft smile curling up. sides of his lips. 

Yuuri sags in relief.  “Yeah. That would be nice.”

***

Yuuri’s meeting with Fujiwara-sensei only takes ten minutes out of his time. The older man had taken one look at his grades, smiled reassuringly at Yuuri, and told him that he would personally process the week off Yuuri would need for the Beijing Finals. 

Smiling at his homeroom teacher in thanks, Yuuri bows to the other teachers in the lounge room before walking down the deserted corridor back towards his homeroom. It was fourth period now, and whilst his class would usually have Physical Education, Yuuri himself was exempt for fear of injury. 

His competitions more than enough filled in the criteria needed for the subject, so Yuuri was granted a free period, one that he utilised entirely for catch-up sessions with other teachers and to finish work in advance. 

It was another thing that caused a chasm to stretch between Yuuri and his peers - but after spending the entirety of lunch with Abe-san, Yuuri could feel the tension slip within his homeroom. 

Suddenly, people were coming up to Yuuri and asking about his day, or how his competition went. Rather than the overwhelming reception he had received when walking into school this morning, his classmates eased Yuuri into conversation, and even talked about themselves rather than forcing Yuuri to be at the center of the conversation, as if they knew he would shut down if they started to become overly enthusiastic. 

Gratitude didn’t even cover it. He was extremely thankful for the new environment, and there is a skip in Yuuri’s step as he makes his way back to his empty classroom. 

The Grand Prix final would take place in two weeks, and suddenly, the happiness at which Yuuri had fallen into after making new friends had ebbed away. 

The Beijing event was the first time in history that the Grand Prix Final for both Juniors and Seniors would take place in the same week, at the same place. This would continue on for as long as Yuuri competed, with Juniors competing first before their senior counterparts. 

Which meant that Viktor would be there. 

Of course, there was no way that Viktor would even have Yuuri on his radar. He had only scraped into the Junior finals, not a single one of the reporters would be covering the Junior competition like they would the Seniors. There was no expectation for Yuuri to reach - yet why was his stomach churning at the thought. 

A deep, cold feeling floods into Yuuri. He’s nowhere near Viktor - why would the number one skater even think about him, a lowly Junior competitor? 

Ever since the National championships, Yuuri had been feeling restless. He has no idea what had caused it. There was only so much that practice could take Yuuri’s mind off things. Despite only creating the programs a month ago, Yuuri’s body had settled into the routines as fluidly as ever. 

Perhaps he was getting bored of training. He could probably do his routines in his sleep now - it didn’t mean that he couldn’t improve on them, but now there was a consistent run of Yuuri completing the programs cleanly that he had never encountered before during Juniors. 

It was like there was a listless thrum of energy seeping through all of his pores. It wasn’t until he was walking through an empty school corridor, that Yuuri understood what he was craving for. 

Yuuri was itching to create - to compose, to choreograph, whatever form it took, Yuuri was bursting at the seams to build something from the ground up. He had touched the surface of it with his new programs, but Yuuri was used to creating four to five new programs a season, most of which were for the students under his and Viktor’s coaching team. 

He had boundless energy for it, he wanted to give something new

In the future, Viktor and Yuuri had become the golden team within figure skating, a coaching-choreography team that people died for. And right now, Yuuri wanted to create, wanted to feel the heat of creativity burn through his body. 

Or maybe, maybe he just wants to experience the same things he did when he was an equal to Viktor, when they were a team . It’s not the same, choreographing without someone to bounce ideas with, but it’s as close as Yuuri gets to how things use to be like. He would still pick out the beats of music, if there were lyrics, he would break down the storylines, if there weren’t, he’d make his own. The process was the same, even if Viktor wasn’t there. 

Yuuri sighs heavily, feet stalling as he looks around the empty hallway. Discoloured club posters and a list of extracurricular activities are pasted all around the walls, and Yuuri turns towards one of the windows, resting his back against the wall. 

It’s a bright day out in Hasetsu, despite the turn of weather as November begins. Whilst the sun is beaming down, Yuuri can’t help but tug his gakuen around his body tightly. Hasetsu will never live up to the cold breeze of Saint Petersburg, but maybe it’s because of his melancholy state of mind, Yuuri can’t help but feel freezing. 

It’s as he’s closing his eyes, that a sudden string of notes floats through the cold air, setting a burn over Yuuri’s frozen body. 

Yuuri’s breath catches. 

It’s sudden, breaking through the stifling silence with a sharpness that bursts through the air, stopping Yuuri entirely in his tracks. The instrument was something traditional,  something that rings and breaks into a pattern that personifies the very essence of Hasetsu. 

It’s aching , a call for something, someone. It’s like a hand is pulling out towards Yuuri, breaking a chasm within his heart, snapping it in two. 

As he overlooks a window of the corridor and sees the evergreen landscape of Hasetsu from his place, Yuuri feels his body soak up the song, feeling it settle within his bones. It’s a solo piece, until astonishingly, more instruments explode in harmonies, joining the solo piece in a cacophony of complete beauty. The loneliness thrums now, erupts into a melded symphony - they are all lonely, together

Yuuri’s heart starts to burst, beating with a sudden energy that explodes within him. His feet move without him knowing, a jostling walk, and then a sprint across the hallway, running towards the source of the music. 

He’s gasping for air by the time he reaches the door. He recognises the floor as the music wing of the school, and with no shame at all, he slams the door open, startling the sextet of musicians in a horrifying display of shock. One of them actually screams, falling back whilst another clasps their heart, eyes closed in fear. Yuuri finds that he couldn’t care less about obviously startling them.

“The name.” He cries, vehemently. 

Hai ?!” 

Katsuki -senpai?”

They all gawp up at him, a mixture of fear and reverence in their gaze. 

“The name!” Yuuri repeats, his eyes maddingly feral, but his grin exuberant. “What is the name of the song?” 

***

Okukawa Ballet Studio 

Hasetsu, Japan 

 

With two weeks left till the Grand Prix Finals, Yuuri finds himself on a one-track focus, moving relentlessly from training to training. 

Following his dominating victory at Nationals, Ice Castle had found itself in a hubbub of activity. There had been numerous times when Nishigori had to smuggle Yuuri out for fear of reporters intruding in on his practice or overrunning the small ice rink. It was a health hazard waiting to happen.  

All in all, it came to Yuuri having to book off hours on the rink in advance. Nishigori himself stood outside the entrance, a one-man detail of security, refusing to allow a single person in if they weren’t already vetted by himself or Yuuko.  

It had cut into his on-ice training immensely. 

Grating at his nerves, Yuuri did not understand the sudden appeal in visiting Ice Castle and gawking at him whilst practicing. He suddenly missed the exclusivity of Detroit’s university rink or the Sports Champions club. 

At the end of the day, Ice Castle was a public rink. Yuuri couldn’t exactly tell his friends to not book out times, especially when they were letting him practice on the rink for half the price as others. 

Morning slots were still exclusively available to him, but it was the afternoon that made Yuuri wince. Usually averaging around three hours after school meant he’d have a total of twenty four hours of practice a week on the ice. With the sudden influx of people wanting lessons, Yuuri had to cut his time out immensely. 

“Maybe it’s a good thing, Yuuri.” Minako sighs. “You, somehow , have melded your new programs into your body entirely. I’m sure you could do it in your sleep. You know both routines like the back of your hand, and you’ve tested them out in competition. Now, we work on conditioning.”

So Yuuri’s days were now spent in the studio or gym, building up muscles and his endurance in preparation for the competition. Finally, Yuuri cracked and told Minako about the piece he was working on. 

“You want to work on a new program?” Yuuri does not know how Minako is able to show such an expression that looks as if it is in between both livid and awe-struck. 

Before she can exhaust her definitive objection, Yuuri is quick to say, “It’s not a program, it’s an exhibition .” 

“You have an exhibition.”

“Not like the one I’m thinking of.”

“Yuuri, exhibitions are just as challenging as programs, especially your exhibition pieces. You could throw in a few jumps and it’d be a winning piece.”

“Sensei.” Yuuri grasps his teacher’s hand, eyes widen in childlike excitement. “Just please. Listen to the piece. You will understand that I have to.” 

He pulls out his phone, runs towards the bluetooth speaker and connects his music to the soundboard. Minako watches with pursed lips, until the first notes begin to ring. 

She gapes, takes one look at the speaker and then back at Yuuri. There is a spark in her eyes, until she closes them and shakes her head. 

“I need to stop listening to you. It’s too much for my heart.”

Yuuri pouts. 

“Fine, you fucking problem child. We’ll come up with a new exhibition piece, two weeks before the finals. I hate you.” There is no coldness in her voice. Instead, the two look at each other with matching grins and engulf Minako’s studio with enough ruckus of manic creativity to last a lifetime. 

***

The day of Yuuri’s eighteenth birthday creeps up on him without notice.

It’s Mari who rudely reminds him, slamming into his room one early morning as Vicchan jumps up into his bed, showering him with puppy kisses. She starts screeching an off-key rendition of happy birthday that jolts Yuuri unceremoniously awake. 

Eighteen. Yuuri flinches at the realisation. He’s an adult in everything but experience. Yuuri’s teen years had been marred by anxiety and self-doubt, and it wasn’t until his late twenties that he was able to settle within his own body. It was a lot of hard work, and now, Yuuri finds himself in a position. 

It was the little milestone that Yuuri had been waiting for - now, everything will change. 

He’s pulled out of his morning musing by Mari ruffles his hair, pinching his cheeks obnoxiously. 

“My little otouto is a big man, now! You can learn how to drive now!”

You don’t know how to drive.”

“All the more reason for my pretty little brother to. I need a chauffeur.” Mari cackles as Yuuri lobs a pillow at her head. Vicchan yips at his side, snuggling into his side for a birthday hug. 

“See, Vicchan knows how to wake up someone for their birthday.”

“Aww, is this your way of saying you want a hug from your big ol’ sister-”

“If you come anywhere near me, I will not be held responsible for the permanent damage I cause.”

Mari snickers, but heeds to the warning, already halfway out of Yuuri’s doorway. “Come on down, okaasan made your favourite for breakfast.”

“Katsudon?”

“Katsudon.” 

Chapter Text

November 20 

Sports Champions Club 

Saint Petersburg, Russia

 

“He’s been grinning like that for hours.” The horror in Natalia’s voice is mirrored by the expression on Viktor’s face, as the two watch in fear as Yuri Plisetsky, Yakov’s new student, hums to himself, skating around the rink in a flurry of drills exercises without an inch of complaint. 

One of the other kid skaters actually starts to sob - huge, fat tears gushing down their cheeks and snot dripping down their nose in a dramatic display for the whole rink to see - when Yuri, (Yuri! Of all people!) apologies for accidentally getting in her way.

Viktor’s jaw hurts from gaping at the scene. 

“I’m so creeped out.” 

Sports Champions Club, despite being Viktor’s home for over a decade, was as overwhelming to him now as it was when he first entered the rink, at the meager age of twelve. It’s exponential growth in recent years meant that there were almost always skaters of varying disciplines roaming on the various rinks, so the constant stream of sound was always enticing to Viktor. There would always be something entertaining happening.  

And so, that’s where Viktor stood now, watching as Yakov’s pre-Junior’s class (nicknamed that because all of them were far too young to compete at the Junior level) were currently going through the absolute bore that is skating drills. 

They extend their arms out, gliding from one edge to the other, trying to get their ankles to follow what their bodies are trying to do. It’s just a lot of boring stroking, from one edge of the rink to the other. 

“But it’s the foundation of all skating .” Yakov’s irritating voice chimed in Viktor’s mind. He was right, of course, but Viktor thought he was at a certain level where he could complain about skating drills as much as he wanted. 

Viktor’s main solace, a place he and all the senior skaters dubbed Central Command, was a single upper-floor bridge that connected from one side of the building to the other. It was a single, open corridor that overlooked the entire main rink. It was like being at a theatre, with Viktor standing so dizzyingly high up, he could look down at the rink like a king from his gilded throne. Talk about a power-trip. 

And how could Viktor not come and watch the cute, little pre-Junior skaters? Especially when Yuri Plisetsky was on the ice. 

It wasn’t every day that Yakov would accept an underaged skater to come and board with him - the last had been Viktor himself. That had spread certain rumours around the rink within seconds. 

Yuri Plisetsky’s name was already making the rounds when they reached Viktor’s ears, and what with the recent influx of FKKR representatives coming to watch over Yakov’s beginner classes, well, it’s obvious to Viktor who Plisetsky was. An heir to a dynasty. 

Viktor scoffs, amused. He hasn’t even won the Olympics yet, and they’re already preparing for when he retires. 

He swipes Natalia’s coffee out from her hand, downing the drink with furious gulps. She cries indignantly, before bursting into maniacal laughter when Viktor hacks up most of the drink, his tongue burning. 

“Do you actually enjoy that monstrosity, or are you just feeding the devil that lives inside your heart?”

“Not all of us drench our drinks in sweeteners and creams. Besides, it serves you right, asshole.” She rolls her eyes, before turning her attention purely onto Leonid, smiling sweetly. 

Viktor mimes throwing up behind his back, only for Natalia to rib him with her elbow. Leonid misses the whole interaction, but Viktor notices the tips of his ears turn red as he sidles up next to Natalia. Straight people , Viktor internally throws up. 

Leonid turns towards Viktor, sighing heavily. “Yakov’s put you on probation again.”

“What?! That’s ridiculous, what have I done?”

“Do I need to spell it out? The Canadian skater.”

“Oh- the hockey player?” Viktor grimaces. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“You missed your flight and therefore, missed all of your scheduled interviews, just to get some mediocre dick. You know how worried Yakov gets about you.”

“He’s overbearing.”

“He’s protective .” Leonid glares at him. “Do we need to remind you of Quebec? You disappeared for three hours during the banquet party, just for Yakov to catch you post-orgy.”  

Viktor shudders in disgust. “The words orgy and Yakov should not be said in the same sentence.”

“You were nineteen, Viktor. Of course he’s going to worry.”

“I was the youngest silver medalist in history! At the Olympics! I deserved to blow a little steam.”

“Not when it comes at the expense of fucking up your priorities. You missed an interview with all of those sponsors- I’m pretty sure Danil still hates you to this day.”

“He’s a moskvichi- sympathiser. Of course he hates everything I do.” Viktor simpers, turning back towards the rink. “Wasn’t it him who put out that think piece on why Andrei was better than me, even though the buffalo can’t land a triple axel without falling on his ass?” 

“Okay, okay. Enough about the Moscow skaters. I heard enough of it from Yakov.” Natalia groans. “Was the lay worth it, at least?” 

Viktor’s face scrunches up, and he turns towards Natalia with a pout on his face. “Natasha, darling - it was horrible . It wasn’t worth the lecture Yakov gave me at all . Remind me never to sleep with a hockey player ever again.”

“Noted.” Natalia grimaces. “What was a hockey player doing there anyway?”

“I have no idea, I think he’s got a younger brother who competes in Juniors.” 

“Hmm, hockey players aren’t your type Vitya. They’re too brutish for our delicate, little flower.”

“Exactly!” Viktor yells, affronted. “I deserve a man who will treat me with kindness, and will give me all the orgasms I am entitled to! Someone who will look after me and likes dogs! I deserve to be romanced !“

“Yes, yes. You’re exactly right, Vitya.” Natalia soothes him, rubbing his back gently. 

“Stop patronising him- that’s why he thinks it’s okay to act like a spoiled child-”  

“Oh hush, Leonid.”   

Instead of getting in between Leonid and Natalia’s bickering, Viktor sighs heavily, and turns his attention back to the rink’s shiny new toy. Plisetsky was a character within the rink already. 

Within his first week, the boy had established himself as an ill-mannered prodigy - the complete opposite of Viktor who was and still is, the perfect media darling. The boy still had a lot to learn. 

“There has to be some nefarious reason why the demon-child is happy. You don’t think he made good on his threat to Gosha about sneaking into his house and murdering his pet rat, do you?” 

“Georgi is positive that Ratsputin is merely on an adventure and will return home imminently.” 

Viktor looks up at Leonid unconvinced, eyes training on the feral glint in Yuri’s eyes. “Just because there’s no proof he hasn’t killed Ratsputin, doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility. Maybe he’s planning on killing someone else. We just need to figure out who.”

“Vitya’s probably right.”

“Natasha! Don’t encourage him.” Lenoid scolds. 

“But, Lenya! We have to, for the sake of the welfare of other skaters.”

“Ugh, don’t be so boring, Lenya.” Vitya propels his body away from the railing, light on his feet. “Well, maybe I’ll just go and ask.”

“What-”

“Viktor, no. Don’t go down there!”

“Vitya, you know he hates you. Yakov said you’re not allowed with the junior skaters alone, anyway- and he’s gone. Great, well done, Tasha.”

“Hey, you have to be a little curious as to why Yura is looking so pleased with himself.”

“You are a sick, sick woman. You have just sent Viktor after a child - it’s a sure fire way to kill any child’s happiness.”

“It’s Yuri Plisetsky. There is no happiness to kill.” 

It’s with practiced ease that Viktor makes it to the rink’s entrance within seconds, pushing open the door and breathing in the cold chill of the ice-rink. It’s a familiar scent, warm despite the absurdity of calling an ice-rink warm, was the only adjective that accurately described the ice to Viktor, like a godly hearth, tended to by the great Hestia herself. 

“Hello, children!” Viktor sucks in all the sudden gasps and shrieks of adoration coming from the young skaters, all clamouring towards him. He regrets not bringing his skates with him, clad in only his polished oxford shoes and stuck behind the ice-rink borders. He’d love to glide onto the ice right now and interrogate Yuri himself, but, well, if Yakov sees him here on his day-off, armed with his skates, he’d be a dead-man walking. 

“Vitya.” 

Viktor flinches as the cold, piercing voice of his mentor seeps into his body, covering him in a shawl of death. “Yakov, darling, fancy seeing you here.”

The older man cuts straight through Viktor’s bullshit without even blinking. “What did I say about you staying away from the rink? It’s your day-off.”

“But it’s so boring with just Makkachin and me! Natasha promised to show me her and Leonid’s new lift, so I had to come.”

Yakov looks unimpressed. “If that were true, you’d be over in Rink B, or up in the wings where I can see Lenya and Natasha are.”

“I could only handle so much of their gooey, love-lined smiles before I imploded, Yakov. Save me from the distress. How’s teaching the little gremlin?”

“If you’re talking about Yuri, he’s doing far better than you were at that age.”

“Well, that doesn’t answer my question. He’s being awfully chipper today, don’t you think? At least he’s not biting anyone’s fingers again.”

The sigh Yakov let’s out is a lament for his waning self-preservation. If he thinks about Yuri’s propensity for violence any longer, he will burst some blood vessels. His blood pressure will never recover.  

“It’s because of Yuri.” Mila pipes up from behind Viktor, pillowed by her backpack as she bends down to tie up her laces. Her skates are a shocking pink, with glitter stars splattered across in a neon monstrosity. 

“Because of himself?”

“No- Yuri .”

Viktor and Yakov share a confused look, evidently unaccustomed to the whims of a thirteen-year old. “Look, he’s been hounding me to convince Yakov to let him come to the Finals. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pounces on Yakov any moment-”

“YAKOV!” 

All three of them have a bodily reaction, jumping in their skin at the loud screen of the young skater, who zooms towards the three of them on his skates. 

“You have to take me to the Grand Prix Finals!” 

Huh ?”

What ?”

Yuri ignores Mila’s bellowing laughter at Viktor and Yakov’s mirroring faces of confusion, and albeit fear . “I want to support Mila. She got into the finals in her first year of competition, of course I want to support a fellow rink mate.”

Viktor might actually faint, Yakov isn’t far from it. Mila just looks incredibly amused with herself, eating metaphorical popcorn. In the end, she comes to everyone’s rescue. “He wants to see Japanese Yuri skate-”

“Shut the fuck up, baba . And it’s Yuuri, two ‘u’s, you have to elongate it.” He sneers back at her. 

Viktor finally snaps, lips opening into a teasing laughter. “Aww, our little Yura has his first crush!” 

“Shut up, old man!”

“I’m in my early twenties!” 

“Say that to the grey hair.”

“You take that back, you gremlin. It’s honeyed silver!” 

“It’s a genetic deformity!” 

“Alright! Alright!” Yakov pushes himself in between Yuri and Viktor, a hand reaching out to stop Yuri from propelling himself over the rink barrier to body-slamming the older skater. “Yuri, apologise for using that foul language. Viktor, stop losing to a ten year old.”

“I am not losing - he’s just acting like a sad, lonely- OW! Yakov, he bit me!” 

Yakov pinches the bridge of his nose, the sound of Yuri and Viktor screaming at each other, with Mila cackling behind the two, forming a shit-storming headache to burst beneath his temples. “Viktor, shut up .” 

All three of the skater’s freeze at Yakov’s tone. Yakov turns his eyes towards the young ten-year old and motions him off the ice. 

“Mila!” He shouts, causing the young skater to jump. “Reruns of that step sequence, now. Vitya, go occupy yourself, somehow. I don’t care.” He sighs heavily, before turning his full attention to Yuri. 

“Yura, come here.” 

“Oh shit.”

“He used ‘Yura’ on him.”

“Best not to be around the rink when he’s like this .” 

Yuri glared as both Mila and Viktor slink off to fuck-knows-where, feeling his blood boil. Yakov didn’t look like he was angry, not like he did when Yuri had tried to do a triple axel without anyone watching. Instead he looked uncomfortable. Which was weird. Yakov was never uncomfortable

“Now, Yura. It’s sweet, looking up to this - was it Japanese that Mila said - Japanese skater, but I just want to warn you about meeting role models-”

“He is not my role-model.” Yuri spits out. “He is my rival . There is a difference.” 

Just once, Yakov wished he had normal skaters. But no, here he is with one who’s decided to flood the rink with his tears because a fucking pet rat went missing, another who’s a ten-year old menace with anger problems and Viktor

A Japanese Yuri - Japan was not known for its male figure skaters. Yakov vaguely remembers one male skater that gave Giacometti a run for his money a few years ago, but he wasn’t a threat to either Vitya or Gosha. 

He’d been good, able to do some spins that female skaters would find difficult to do, but had faltered completely in the jumping aspect. And then he lost his momentum by switching to a lousy coach and ran out of his luck. It’s not unheard of in the business - the skater would probably burn up during seniors if he continued to fester away with a bad coaching staff. 

But it isn’t good for Yura - a down-in-his-luck skater would not be a good role-model for a skater who hasn’t even entered Juniors yet. He remembers some rumours about the Japanese athlete, incredibly stand-offish and cold, staying close to himself. He would not be a good fit for Yakov’s young and impressionable skater. 

“It’s probably best that you don’t meet him, Yura.”

“What?” Yuri screeches. “Why? That’s bullshit-”

Yura .” Yuri flinches at Yakov’s tone, incessantly warm and unlike any sound his gruff coach had ever spoken to him before. 

“Look, let’s take Viktor as an example, how many junior skaters look up to him? Say he’s their favorite skater, that they started skating because of him?”

“That’s because they’re idiots.”

“Yura.”

“Okay, fine, yeah so the old man has admirers, so what? He’s stupid and a horrible rinkmate. He takes up all the rink-time and he never talks to anyone, and he’s stupid.”

“That’s exactly my point, Yura. Viktor is not how everyone sees him to be. He’s selfish and gets annoyed quickly. What do you think this Japanese skater will be like?”

“Not stupid like Viktor.”

“Yuri - Viktor is nothing like everyone thinks he is. He can spin any story into his favour, he quite literally is the media’s darling for a reason - but it’s all fake. You’ve spent almost a year with him and you can see that. Sometimes, sometimes Yura, the illusion of a person is better than the reality. I don’t want to see you get hurt.” 

“Please, Yakov. Please. ” Yakov swallows the emotion that builds in his throat. Never before has Yuri been so earnest, and Yakov is suddenly reminded that Yuri is only a young boy of ten. He had promised Nikolai Plisetsky that whilst Yuri was here in Saint Petersburg, he would do everything in his power to protect the boy. 

“I’m sorry, Yura.” 

There is a sudden flash of hurt in Yuri’s eyes, before it’s blinded by rage. He storms away, not even putting on his skate guards. “FINE!” He shouts. “SEE IF I CARE!” 

Yakov shudders at the sound of the door slamming behind Yuri. Children , he thinks with a scowl. This is why I never had my own. 

Yuri’s hyperfixation on this Japanese skater could cause more pain than Yakov refusing him to join everyone to the Finals. After all, the figure skating world does not have the best track record in history - it is  not forgiving towards talented, young skaters. 

 

*** 

December 8th 

Kansai International Airport, 

Osaka, Japan 

 

“The All-Nippon Airways flight to Beijing, China will start loading in two hours. Please make your way towards the check-in area. I repeat, The All-Nippon Airways flight to Beijing, China will begin loading in two hours. Please make your way towards the check-in area.” 

The voice over the tannoy is muffled through Yuuri’s earbuds, as he lays his head on Minako’s shoulders. His mask is pulled completely over his nose, fogging up his glasses as he waits around for a JSF representative to meet him. It’s almost two in the morning, and Yuuri just wants to sleep. 

“Do they even know how to find us?”  

Minako hums beside him, flicking through a complimentary magazine. “Hmm, I told them we were at Terminal 2’s lounge, if they’re late, we’ll just message them that we’re boarding by ourselves.”

“Hmmm.”

“Don’t fall asleep now, Yuuri, there’ll be time on the flyover and you can sleep off the jet lag when we arrive at the hotel.” 

“I’ve taken one flight already today, don’t remind me.” He bemoans. “Why is Hasetsu so far from all major airports? I hate travelling.”

Minako ruffles his hair, before slamming her magazine closed. “Is that the representative?”

Yuuri peers out of his sleep-heavy eyes, towards a frazzled looking woman who is looking around the lounge area, out of breath. 

“It’s her.” Minako leaps up, knocking Yuuri’s head off her shoulder. “She’s wearing the jacket. Which reminds me, when am I getting my official Team Japan jacket?” Yuuri tugs at his own black sports jacket protectively.

“Katsuki-senshu! Okukawa-sensei!” She skids to a stop when Minako and Yuuri make their way towards her. Her face sags in relief. 

She bows repeatedly in an apology, back straightened at a ninety-degree angle of impeccable courtesy. “I apologise for being so late!” 

“Miyamoto-san?” Yuuri questions, bowing in return. “From the emails?”

“Yes!” She brightens, “I am the main representative for Juniors, so I will be in charge of you, Katsuki-senshu.”

“Then, please take care of us.”

“Hai!” 

Minako pats Yuuri’s back, all-business and no rest.  “Our bags are already checked in, so we should probably meet the others.” 

“Yes, of course!” Miyamoto snaps her head towards Minako, cheeks blushing. “Please follow me! Sato-san will explain everything once we are there.”

The three of them make their way further through the Terminal lounge, until Miyamoto pushes open a door to what looks like a private room. There are people lounged around in seats, huddled together and decked in the same black sports jacket that Yuuri himself wears. 

Yuuri cannot help but make the comparison that they all look like kids on a school trip, giddy with excitement. This was his team. Team Japan. 

“Sato-san!” Miyamoto waves towards a senior figure, gesturing towards Yuuri and Minako. “We’re all here.”

“Yes, please.” Sato is an elderly man, hair peppered with white streaks and combed back immaculately. He looks like he should be wearing a suit rather than the big puffer jacket of the Japan’s team official uniform. “If we all sit down, I will begin the debrief.”

Yuuri squishes himself on a spare seat, with Minako standing closely next to him. His glasses had taken a maddening role to shorten Yuuri’s fusem, slipping down the bridge of his nose no matter how much he pushed them back up. His mask feels tight around his ears, but he’d be damned if he caught something on the plane. Yuuri always did have a weak constitution whenever he flew. 

Minako places her hand on Yuuri’s back, soothingly rubbing. It lulls Yuuri, and his eyes begin to droop. “Just a bit longer, kid.”

He pinches his leg, flinching at the sharp stab of pain that settles up his thigh. 

This was all his fault. Instead of listening to Minako and napping from five, like she told him to, Yuuri had snuck into the rink and practiced the new exhibition piece. Minako had found him, an hour before they were meant to leave, unpacked and sweaty. And Yuuri really was paying the price for it now. 

“We’ll be walking through the terminal doors, where there will be reporters waiting to wish us luck as we leave. You won’t have to speak to them, just wave as we move towards the plane door. Once we arrive in Beijing, we will take two separate buses to the hotel, which is around two hours from the airport. Once we reach the hotel, you will be left alone with your assigned JSF member and your coaches.”

Sato takes a cursory glance around all of the skaters, and Yuuri himself takes it upon himself to do the same. There are not a lot of them. Yuuri, from what he can see, is the only single male skater out of them all. He’s also the only Junior skater. 

Yuuri had done his research earlier, just as he had done with his schoolmates. It would paint him as a horrible kouhai if he did not know his senpai ’s names. 

Takahashi Riku, 21, Ladies singles. This was surprisingly only her second time qualifying for the Grand Prix Finals, despite competing in the senior circuit for over five years. She was currently ranked in the top fifteen of ladies figure skating, and the only high ranking ladies’ skater out of Japan in recent years. 

Sato Hitomi and Yuma Takemi, aged 22 and 24 respectively, pairs skating. They were surprisingly a young team, pairing up for the first time only last year. They had gripped on their tailcoats of the other, more experienced pair couples, and was the surprise that the JSF truly needed. 

And finally, David Yamaguchi and Kihara Yumi, aged 27 and 25, ice dancers. Yuuri actually remembered them from the future. It’s not a stretch to say that at this moment in time, Yamaguchi-san and Kihara-san were the faces of Japanese figure skating. They were Japan’s best bet for a podium finish. The question was where . If they executed all their lifts correctly and the French skaters made mistakes, maybe they would get bronze. 

Yuuri had always appreciated their step sequences when he was younger, and to see them now, whilst they were in their prime- Yuuri would absorb as much as his eyes could. If Yuuri’s memory served them right, they would actually get bronze, after the French team made and fell on a risky lift as well as missed the timings on some twizzle spins. It was Japan’s only medal at the Grand Prix Final then. The other skaters Yuuri did not even remember

He tries to appear as non-threatening as he is, bowing nicely to all the members when they look his way. David, in particular, grins at Yuuri, waving when they lock eyes. Yuuri finds himself breathing a little easier. 

Perhaps the flight wouldn’t be too bad. 

***

For once in his life, Yuuri’s intuition wasn’t wrong. He had slept soundlessly through the entire thing, and when he had awoken, he was greeted to the sight of Minako and David becoming fast friends. The two were snickering across the aisle to each other, lobbing bits of torn up, magazine papers at each other. 

It’s times like this that Yuuri sits in disbelief, wondering how on earth Minako was older than his mother. Sighing, he stretches his arms up, and Minako recoils when he accidentally bumps into her shoulders. 

“Oh, Yuuri-kun. Did I wake you?”

He yawns, eyes watering. He pulls down his mask so that it rests on his chin and flounders slightly for his glasses. Once the world shifts back into focus, he turns back to Minako to answer. “No. Did I miss the snacks?”

She hands over the complimentary snacks; it’s just a little yogurt cup with some fruit, but Yuuri wolfs it down quickly, settling his hunger.

“How much longer do we have?”

“Hmm, about half an hour? You slept through most of the flight. I had to amuse myself elsewhere.”

“Yeah, I can see that.” Yuuri snorts, eyes trained on David and his partner. “You’re getting friendly.”

“Well, you won’t believe this! It turns out that I know David-kun’s aunt! She used to be a fan of mine.”

“From back in the olden days?” Yuuri thinks the bruise forming at the back of his spine is worth it for the way Minako sputters at him. 

“I’m not that old.”

“You’re old enough to be my mother - in fact, you are older than her.”

“Shut up!” She slams a hand over his mouth, pouting. “You’re so mean to me. Maybe I’ll switch over and coach David-kun and Yumi-chan instead.”

“Did someone say my name?” 

David Yamaguchi, in the flesh. He’s handsome, with a strong jawline with a quintessential Japanese idol-like image. He meandered his way to stand beside Minako in the middle of the aisle. 

Yuuri bows immediately, no matter how groggy he was from sleep, he’d be damned if he was known as impolite. Not when Viktor of all people had to be the one to point out that Yuuri could be a little unwelcoming at times. (It’s not his fault that his anxiety comes across as cold and unfriendly! But Viktor had never forgotten to remind Yuuri of the way he had come across to poor Minami when they had first met.) 

So Yuuri tries to make himself look like the cute, polite kouhai that he is. Hopefully, Yamaguchi-san was actually one of the nicer senpais than Yuuri was used to. 

“Nah, don’t worry about it kid. I watched your Nationals!” He looks like he’s being nice, eyes alight with kindness. “Okukawa-sensei was telling me how you choreographed your own stuff, that step sequence in the short program was insane. How’d you figure out how to do the counters and twizzles that fast?”

Oh. 

Oh

He’s talking to Yuuri, not at him, not even down at him. He’s speaking to Yuuri as if they were equals, or at least of a similar age. 

“I- I adapted some of the ballet drills Sensei makes me do onto the ice. It helped with my control, and then I just trained to do them at that speed.”

“There were a lot of reruns.” Minako snickers, and Yuuri flames at the reminders of his past, practice failures. 

“Ballet drills on ice? Huh. Never thought of that.” Yamaguchi-san looks inquisitive. “I’ve only ever done ballet as off-training. Maybe I’ll implement it more on-ice-”

Could all passengers put on their seatbelts? Landing will commence soon. Could all passengers put on their seatbelts? Landing will commence soo-” 

“I guess that’s my cue. Good luck at the competition, Yuuri-kun, I call you that, right? Let’s break that world record!”

“Ha?!”

David laughs, a full guttural sound from the base of his stomach. “I’m not stupid kid, you land all of those jumps and execute that step sequence like you did at Nationals, then there’s no way Nikiforov’s record is staying in tact.”

“I- well- That’s the plan, senpai !”

David’s eyes widen, before his face spreads out into a brillaing grin. He can’t help himself but to reach over and ruffle Yuuri’s hair. 

What a cute kouhai

*** 

December 9th 

Hotel Nikko New Century Beijing, 

Beijing, Republic of China

 

Yuuri is nervously tapping his feet, finger’s drumming against the small table as he waits. There are two cups of coffee in front of him, his own, just a simple bitter black coffee that his taste buds had become accustomed too, and another sugary monstrosity , a hot chocolate lathered in salted caramel drizzle. 

He takes another deep sigh, bringing the mug up to his lips and taking tentative sips. This was it. 

In a few moments, he would see Christophe Giacometti for the first time in what feels like years

As much as he loved Minako, Yuu-chan and his family, they were not staples in his life, not like Christophe had been, especially since after his marriage to Viktor. It was expected that they would see each other a handful of times during competitions, but after his marriage to Viktor, the man had been a major part of Yuuri’s life. Like he’d said before, Viktor and Christophe were a package deal. Sometimes, without him even knowing, the Swiss skater would be knocking on his door at three in the morning, having caught a flight to see the two of them because he’d been bored. 

Over the past few months, ever since Yuuri had inhabited this body, had reversed the fallen sand in his life’s timer back up through the hourglass, Christophe had become an irreplaceable person in Yuuri’s life. So sue him for being a little anxious. 

But like with most of Yuuri’s worries, there is nothing for him to fear. 

Christophe walks through the entryway of the hotel cafe, scarf wrapped tightly around his neck and nose chilled red from the outside cold. He surveys the room for a little, before he starts to run

“Christophe, wait! You’ll hurt yourself- OOF !”

He slams into Yuuri, arms wrapped around his shoulders in a tight embrace. The two end up as a pile of entangled limbs on the floor, but Yuuri has not felt alive like this in months

 

***

“Wait, so you tried to sleep with your choreographer?”

“Assistant! Assistant choreographer! He was interning under Morozov for his degree, a pretty little thing. Made every moment of his time at the rink a dream.” He winks coquettishly, and Yuuri bursts into a storm of giggles.

“You probably traumatised him.”

Or was his gay awakening.” He sighs into the hot chocolate, lips licking the sweet, freshly whipped cream. “Anyways, tell me everything! I know when there’s tea to be spilled, and you sir, have kept me starving .”

“Okay, okay.” Yuuri sips his coffee. “I could’ve told you over the phone, but this is something I knew you wanted to have over some croissants.” 

“Damn straight. These are so good.”

“The best. Even better since we’re strictly not allowed them.” The two exchange similar, conspiratory grins. 

“Anyway,” Yuuri starts. “My old coach dropped me.”

“You are joking .”

“Afraid not.” Yuuri breaks off a piece of the croissant, throwing it into his mouth with a flippant attitude.  

“ All the articles said that it was because of creative differences!”

“Yeah, the creative difference being the difference in his salary.”

“What a toad. Is there no loyalty anymore?” Christophe gasps dramatically. 

“Nope, just up and left. Didn’t even tell us a thing - I found out over a phone call after he stopped turning up to our sessions for two weeks. And get this,” Yuuri leans forward, eyes sparkling with mean amusement. “I ran into him after Nationals, the one that I won by over forty points by the way, and he couldn’t even look me in the face!

Christophe cackles loudly. 

“It gets even better - he wasn’t even on the main coaching staff. He was carrying bags .”

“Serves the fucker right.” Christophe snickers. “Abandoning our Yuuri, what was he even thinking? Oh.” Christophe places his hot chocolate back on the table, jumping forward from where he was leaning back into his seat. 

“I completely missed your Nationals-”

“I know, nobody airs Junior Nationals unless you’re like Russia-”

“Which means that I had to find out over shittily translated news articles that you’ve changed your short program. What the fuck Yuuri!” 

“Oh, you have to come and watch me! I think you’ll love it.”

“You damn right I’m going to watch it! What the hell, not telling your best friend that you’ve changed your program- it’s for the best though. Nobu could not choreograph for shit - I’m sorry, but that disco-pop remix he pushed on you? Absolutely tragic . You’re all elegant lines and refined step sequences, not, well whatever that was.”

“If anyone could’ve pulled it off, it would’ve been Viktor. I still can’t believe you got to see his Britney Spears medley live at the Shanghai gala performance. I will actually die if he turns up in front of me wearing that plaid skirt.”

“Oh trust me darling. In person is a completely different thing.” Christophe visibly melts. “Speaking of Viktor…”

“OH RIGHT!” Yuuri slams his hand down, glaring. “I can’t believe you distracted me from the most important thing right now.” 

“You-” He points a finger straight at Christophe’s heart, scowling. “Are dead to me.” 

“Oh, babes, don’t be like that.” Christope pouts, but Yuuri is too busy seething. 

“You have Viktor’s number and you didn’t even tell me! Shit, is he staying at this hotel? Are you meeting up with him sometime soon?”

“Oh, the emperor doesn’t stay here with all the sludge.” Christophe sips his hot chocolate with a cheeky grin. “No, there’s the Imperial Hotel about four minutes down the road, that’s where he and the other big-shot skaters stay, more security for them, ya know? I heard how wild it gets when Viktor’s in the hotel, people will scale skyscrapers to get a glimpse at our Ice Prince.” He sighs lovingly. 

“That sounds… kind of scary.” 

“Oh, it is, one hundred-percent.” They both shiver at the thought. 

“Things are… a bit weird.” Christophe runs his finger across the rim of his cup. His voice isn’t as bubbly as Yuuri is use to, and the conversation starts to simmer down. “Seniors are nothing like Juniors, at all.” 

Christophe’s voice takes a sharp edge, and a chill sets itself inside of Yuuri’s bones. “What do you mean?”

“Well, there’s a bit of a hierarchy thing. Viktor, the people just below him and then everyone else.” Christophe’s voice makes it clear where he stands. “I guess, it just gets a little lonely, when everyone already has a place to begin with.”

Yuuri has never experienced Christophe being this open, and he feels something uncomfortable settle in the center of his chest. For as long as he’s known him, Christophe had always been a shining, bright figure, always ready with a quip to send Yuuri into a flushed embarrassment. He has to do something, something to bring Christophe out of this funk. He speaks without even realising it. 

“So, Viktor’s Regina George?”

The silence between them is palpable. 

And then, Christophe wheezes . It’s like something switches between them, and then the two are falling over their seats, dying at the force of their laughter. 

“Oh my god. Viktor Nikiforov is so Regina George.

Yuuri’s face is straight when he says, “If Viktor punched me in the face, it would be the best day of my life.” 

“Oh, his hair is definitely insured.” 

The two can barely contain their cackles, even when people are turning to look at them. “Oh, god, I miss you, Katsuki.”

Yuuri smiles. “I’m right here, Chris.”

He throws a scrunched up napkin at him, which Yuuri just about dodges. “You know what I mean. Older skaters… Well, they’re not very welcoming to newcomers. Not like how Juniors was. Either way-” 

Christophe must’ve realised that the conversation would start to spiral again, and his face becomes filled with genuine emotion. “I am glad you decided to keep continuing to compete, even if your Junior Coach was shitty enough to drop you mid-season. So hurry up, and join me in Seniors!” 

“Just one more season.” Yuuri sighs heavily. “Then I’ll be with the big boys.” Christophe mines party shakers, already celebrating. 

“Now, tell me about Viktor.”

Christophe sighs dramatically. “Well, if you must, I was just as surprised. It was a little before the practice session before the gala, you know how older skaters feel about new blood, they sort of sniff out how you are and stuff. And since I did well enough to get silver, I thought the same thing would happen, that he’d be the same, but - he was actually really nice.”

Yuuri soaks in any new information he can get about Viktor, and it must show on his face because Christophe laughs out loud. “Well, as nice as he could be. He was still so fucking intimidating - god, even when he was smiling, I couldn’t tell if he was actually being nice, or if he just knew what I wanted him to do, or some weird shit like that.”

“Anyway, if he was actually being nice, then I guess not all seniors are like that. We don’t really text a lot, but he follows me on instagram, so you know I’ve made it.” 

“Yeah,” Yuuri says, almost wistfully. 

“I could introduce-”

“DON’T YOU DARE!”

“Oh, Yuuri, come on don’t be like that! I’m sure he’ll be flattered that you named your dog after him.”

“He’ll think I’m a psychotic crazy person.”

“Okay.” Christophe admits. “You might be right.”

Yuuri sighs, suffering. “I’ll just live by watching him from afar. It’ll be enough for me.” 

It would have to. In a few hours, Yuuri would come face to face with the love of his life. 

He doesn’t know if it’s excitement or dread that pools at the bottom of his stomach. 

Chapter Text

December 10, 

Capital Gymnasium, Rink B 

Beijing, China  

 

“Do you have the call-sheet?”

“It’s right in front of you.”

“Oh.” Matthew, a greying man of around sixty, rubs his eyes tiredly. “Sorry, son. When you get to my age, you have to start injecting coffee into your bloodstream just to stay awake.”

“Or maybe it’s something to do with your eyesight.” Harry grins, motioning towards the top of Matthew’s head where his glasses have been long-forgotten. 

“That too.” He chuckles, although the embarrassment seeps out in the lilt of his laugh. Despite wearing the glasses, Matthew has to squint at the small letters on the sheet, pulling it up towards his eyes to see clearly. An awkward silence fills between the two of them. 

Matthew doesn’t know how to break it. For all intents and purposes, Harry was as old as his son. Matthew shouldn’t even be here in Beijing, he had given up commentary decades ago. Nobody wants an old face latching onto the system, no matter how renowned he once was in the field. 

Matthew Evans wasn’t the three-time European Champion he once was. The eyes that followed him everytime he stepped back into the skating world were more than ambivalent, they were near-unbearable. He could’ve been the best, been the Olympic champion England had been dying for, and instead what did he have to show for it? A fifth place finish - not even on the podium. 

When he had received the email, (well- when his granddaughter had received it, Matthew was terrible with technology) , he hadn’t even questioned whether he would accept the role as a commentator. It had been a resounding no

What use did a washed up, sixty year old skater from a bygone era have for this new generation? The scoring system was far too strange for him to understand, no - there was no way Matthew would accept Eurosport’s proposition. 

And then Richie had come to his little cottage on the outskirts of Yorkshire, hidden away in the muck and dirt of farmlife, and begged him to return. It turned out that Johnny, their usual commentator, had been in an accident, not life-threatening, but enough for him to have to stay hospitalised. 

(“It won’t even be for Seniors, we have another commentator for that, you know, Harry - the Scottish skater from a few years back. He’ll be doing the Senior commentary. We just need someone for him to bounce off of for Juniors, because it’s not his speciality.”

“So you thought it would be a better idea to have two people who have no idea what they’re doing?”

“Nobody cares about juniors anyway. You won’t have to worry about the scoring system, Harry will know about that since it’s the same as Seniors.) 

Richie, the little fucker, had always had Matthew in the palm of his hands. Even after the complete disaster of the Olympics almost forty-nine years ago, he still would try and get Matthew to return to the skating world, in some capacity or other. In the end, he exploited Matthew’s greatest weakness, a heinous crime that he will never forgive Richie for.  

He told his granddaughter. 

(“You are going to Beijing.”

“Veronica, darling. I have so much to do on the far-”

“Bullshit. You haven’t left the house in ten years. I’ve already called mum and she’s packing your bag as we speak.”)  

So that’s how Matthew found himself here, in Beijing, China at sixty four years of age. It’s a wonder he even survived the plane journey here. He hasn’t commentated in years, and according to Harry, he’ll only be required to talk about the Juniors. It would be an honour anyway, if Matthew wasn’t fretting the entire time. 

“You’ll be fine.” A hand comes into his eyesight, placing a steaming styrofoam cup on the table in front of him. Harry smiles in what he assumes is meant to come across as reassurance, but only serves to make Matthew wither even more. 

“Have you kept up to date with the recent skaters?”

“I’d be lying if I said yes.” Matthew flicked through the stapled wad of paper, fingers fidgeting with energy. 

“That’s fine, I can introduce you to them. Maybe we should start with men’s, since we’re both more familiar with the discipline than most.” Harry settles down next to Matthew, and the two lean over the call-sheet. 

“So, Nathan Parsons is the favourite to win. He just turned seventeen, American with good jumps, but his skating skills could use a little more finesse. Oh here, Eric Smirnov is another favourite, Russian, sixteen with a mean triple lutz.” 

“Both of them have won their respective Grand Prix qualifying events, and so have the highest score coming into the Finals. And then there’s Michele Crispino. I wouldn’t count him out of the running because he’s the only junior who lands triple loops at the end of combinations instead of triple toes. His go-to is the triple lutz-triple loop. If he’s consistent with his jumps, then there’s no-one who can really touch him base-value wise.” 

“Crispino, where have I heard that name from?”

Harry smiles, ever so slightly. “He has a twin sister who competes in the senior field. Sara Crispino is the reigning-Junior Champion from last year. She’s made waves by qualifying for the Grand Prix final in her first year competing at senior-level.” 

“Yes, I think I’ve heard of her. My daughter and granddaughter are fans, I believe. Italian, right?”

“Yes. Hmm, who else do we have in the running? There’s the other Russian skater, Drozd. He’s got a mean triple flip, but his interpretive skills need a bit of work, nothing more experience can’t fix. He’s the youngest competitor, aged fourteen. Canada has a skater, Andrew Carpenter, age eighteen. He’s the only skater who has a triple axel at the event, but it needs more consistency.” 

“He’s doing a triple axel? Why isn’t he competing at senior competitions?”

“Having a triple axel, especially a temperamental one, won’t do him any good nowadays. His coach is smart to keep him in juniors for now. It’s all about quads in the senior-field. Why try and compete with Viktor Nikiforov when you can get gold medals here?” A disgruntled sound erupts from Matthew’s gut before he even realises. Harry laughs loudly, and the two seem to ease whatever tension there had been in the air from before.

“The sport’s come a long way since the 70s, Matthew.”

“Well, with this whole point system, it’s no wonder artistry is being thrown out. A kid has a triple axel and he won’t even make it in seniors.”

“It’s a sad reality.” There is a story there, Matthew realises, in the subtle changes of Harry's voice. It’s melancholic, the way Harry’s shoulder’s sag, eyes glazing over the call-sheet. 

“So, that’s five skaters. Who’s the sixth?

Matthew realises, watching as the other man freezes slightly. Bingo, he thinks. Harry takes a deep breath, as if to calm himself, before pushing the call-sheet away, leaning back into his chair with a sudden act of indifference. 

“Katsuki. Japanese, just turned eighteen around, a week ago, I think? He’s… he’s good. Not as consistent as the others though. There’s no telling how he’ll do in the competition.” The ‘ or seniors ’ is not said but implied. 

“You sound very... blasé .” 

“I- well, Katsuki’s good , he’s really good, but there’s nothing that can save him when he’s so inconsistent with his jumps.” It’s like there had been a muzzle wrapped around Harry’s mouth, and suddenly he’s bursting, words slipping out of his mouth with no remorse. “The boy’s such a gift to watch, but there’s nothing anyone can do when he freezes up before a jump. Matthew, it’s ridiculous how good of a skater he is, but nobody even knows because during every competition, it’s like somebody’s replaced his bones with jelly - he flounders, every single time .”  

Harry heaves in an enormous inhale of oxygen, sounding resoundly upset. “His step sequences are better than senior male skaters, he does spin on the same level as the ladies, but he can never land his jumps well enough.” 

“There’s something there, and you have to tell me.” Matthew sips his coffee, eyes narrowing. “You’re hiding something.”

Harry’s mouth drops open, eyes widening. “Wow. You really have been in this business for a long time.”

“Forty plus years, darling. Out with it.”

Harry bites his bottom lip, taking in their surroundings. An ominous feeling swoops at the bottom of Matthew’s gut, and he rests his coffee back on the table, following Harry’s eyes that sweep over the entire rink. 

Closed rinks like this one always seem claustrophobic to Matthew, even though the Capital Gymnasium is far bigger than any rink Matthew has performed in before. The seats curl up towards the curved ceiling, and there are only a handful of people scattered around. He can see below the decks a few reporter’s are setting up cameras, but all-in-all, the rink is as empty as if it was closed. 

After all, senior practice wouldn’t start until tomorrow morning. Unless you’re a family member, no fans would come to watch the juniors practice. The seats are almost always empty. 

It also means that Matthew and Harry’s voices, despite only talking to each other, could easily be picked up by others because of the silence. They’re sitting in the commentator’s area, a few rows of seats with long tables nailed in front of them, wires and microphones feeding into little outlets at the side. 

It very much reminds him of lecture halls at university, and there are only a few rows, three or four give or take. But it’s not the other commentator’s area that has Harry quietening, because there aren’t any other commentators sitting in the rink besides the two of them. 

No, Harry’s eyes are trailed in front of him, looking down at the bottom of the steps where a row of chairs are placed by the rink-side. Right in front of the commentator’s tables is the empty judging panel, and Matthew already knows what Harry is going to say before he even opens his mouth. “His inconsistency kills him in the judges eyes.”

“Yeah.” Harry whispers, folding himself so that the two are close together and no-one else could hear them without straining their ears. “Katsuki almost always gets underscored. Smirnov got better PCS scores at Budapest - they graded Katsuki a level two even though everyone with eyes could see he was at least a level three, if not level four! Smirnov can’t even do multi-directional skating! All he’s got is a triple lutz combo, but they still graded him higher in components!”

“It’s a travesty, a blight on the sport, but no-one can even say anything unless Katsuki delivers. It’s not fair that other skaters are given the benefit of the doubt when he has to scrounge for every point.” 

“And, it’s- it’s not even the judges fault, really. They’re human after all, and if you have one skater that’s always falling on an easy jump and another who lands some of the hardest combos in the competition, who are you putting your money on? Especially now when Katsuki is at the age where a lot of his peers have already moved up to Seniors. Heck, Nikiforov was meadaling when he was sixteen. It’s no wonder they started to shave back his PCS.”

Matthew’s stomach twists in realisation. “But if his technical scores are already down the drain, then there’s no way he can fight because he doesn’t have the component score to help him.” 

“Exactly.” Harry pulls away, eyes closing. “I feel so bad for the kid.”

“What happened? Has he always been this inconsistent?”

Harry laughs humorlessly. “No. That’s what’s so fucked up.” He sits up in his seat, legs curling into a cross-leg which is highly inappropriate for the professional setting they are in, but well, they shouldn’t be bad mouthing judges in a professional setting either, so Matthew lets it go.  

“Japan has not had a prominent male figure skater, in like, ever. I’m sure you of all people know more about their skaters than me, since they were pretty big around your time. Anyway, when Katsuki was fourteen, he qualified for the Finals in his first year of competing after winning both of his qualifying events. He was also pretty consistent with his jumps, they weren’t lutz or flips, but his double axels were huge. Then he went on to win the silver medal ahead of pretty big names at the final. Then at Junior Worlds, he was one-point off the championship title from Giacometti-”

“The Swiss skater? The one in Seniors?!”

“Yes. That same one. Suddenly, Japan had this prodigy skater that was beating older skaters at their own game. Then, when he was fifteen, he actually won the title, the first Japanese male skater to win a World title at all, even if it is in Juniors. Of course, Giacometti had left by then so he didn’t have that much competition, but that didn’t change the fact that he was one of the youngest Champions since Nikiforov won when he was fourteen. So you can imagine how the Japanese media reacted.”

“Shit.”

“Shit is fucking right.” Harry runs a hand through his hair, evidently distressed. “The poor kid was getting hounded by the media at home, there were at least twenty reporters watching his every move at competitions. It didn’t help that there were no senior skaters that Japan could focus on, Katsuki was literally the only skater that was bringing home gold. 

“So, you have a federation that used to be a powerhouse but has fallen into obscurity, suddenly gifted with a skating prodigy that has to hold the weight and expectations of the whole country on his shoulders. The pressure must’ve been too much.” 

Matthew’s eyes narrow. “What do you mean ‘must’ve’?”

“Nothing slips past you, does it?” Harry barks out, laughing loudly. “I didn’t want to say anything because of speculation, but it’s pretty much well-known in the field that Katsuki has, well, a nerves issue.”

“What, like stage fright?”

“Like anxiety, the clinical kind.”

“Oh.” 

Harry sighs, resting a hand on his cheek. “But, that’s not what I want to talk about. I’m not too informed about junior skaters since my specialty is the senior division. The two of us were called in because of Johnny’s sudden withdrawal, but I do have a really close friend, Mina Hasegawa, she’s a commentator like us, but for NHK Sports. And this is where the speculation comes in, and I don’t want to be held accountable by anyone-”

“Oh, just spit it out already.”

“Alright, alright.” Harry stretches his hands over his head, taking a quick survey around the room, before crouching down closer to Matthew. “There’s rumours that he got sabotaged.”

“The fuck does that mean?!”

“Well, Mina was telling me that in Japan, the skating world is run by these three famous schools. Apparently, Katsuki declined their offers because they were all too far away from his home so he wouldn’t be able to commute. He and his parents weren’t willing to move halfway across the country, and so, Mina thinks there was a soft block on Katsuki in the country. If those three schools couldn’t get Katsuki, then no-one could.”

“Anyway, Mina was saying that you can sort of track Katsuki’s downfall from after he earned the Junior World title - every single coach he asked to meet suddenly couldn’t make it to his hometown, even though before people were clamouring to come and visit him. And so then what option does he have but to hire the first coach that says they’ll stay in his hometown for him?”

“And the coach wasn’t any good?”

“The worst . Look, I don’t want to comment on someone who I’ve only ever seen their interactions from afar, but Mina would always get so angry every time his coach would talk to Yuuri. Apparently, he said some not-nice things towards the kid, which Mina refused to translate.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah, so you have a fourteen year old skater who’s rumoured to have anxiety and has the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders being coached by a narcissistic novice teacher who blames him for all of his failures, even though it’s obvious to everyone with eyes who the real problem in the team was.” 

“It’s no wonder that he imploded, my god.”

“He somehow was able to stay afloat the last few years, but that’s just him running on sheer willpower and luck. Even in the final now, he got in because a skater withdrew. Mina’s worried that luck will run out by the time he enters seniors next year. If he even decides to carry on competing, that is.” Harry turns back to the call-sheet, picking at the edge of the paper.

“I don’t want to see him quit, but figure skating is an expensive sport, especially for the ones who aren’t medalling. I keep thinking back to when he won his first title three years ago, the special quality he holds, it was like he is the music, the two of them meld together. It’s captivating. You can’t teach that sort of quality. It’s inherent.”

“You see it happen so much, young skaters who have such big potential but they don’t have the backing that they need. If Katsuki was Russian or American, there’s no way he would be treated like this.”

Matthew nods in understanding. “The federations would’ve stepped in before things got out of hand.”

“It’s not like the JSF doesn’t like Yuuri, it’s quite the opposite from what Mina tells me. But they just don’t have the resources or power that they once used to have, you know?”

“So, Katsuki’s fucked either way.”

“Yeah,” Harry sighs, defeated. “Unless there was some kind of cosmic intervention, he’s fucked.”

Matthew fist starts to clench. There is a flushed sheen across his neck, and his jaw is clenching. He knows all too well the feeling of being abandoned as soon as things became hard. “What time is practice starting?” 

Harry says nothing, but his eyes are turned to his wristwatch. 

“In about five, they should be coming to the rink- there .” Matthew’s head swivels towards where Harry is pointing. 

The all-encompassing silent environment that had been so stifling earlier now started to rise in activity, as a cluster of six skaters and their coaching staff made their way towards the rink. 

“Which one is Katsuki?”

“There, the one behind, oh- what?” Harry stands up, rotating his entire body around to lean over his seat, mouth dropping open like a net for flies. “ Who is that?”

“What? Who are you looking at?”

“There’s… there’s a different person, walking by Katsuki- that’s not his coach! Did he change? Since when though?” He digs into his jacket pocket, flicking open his phone and pressing the keypad frantically. “Ugh, this is why I can’t trust Mina with anything-”

“Why am I being shouted at?”

A pretty woman, perhaps in her late twenties, is rushing towards the two of them, a frown on her face. This must be Mina , Matthew realises. 

Her hair swishes by her chin as she hops down the stairs towards them, eager and far too enthusiastic for how early it is in the morning. Her arms are tightened across a folder and portable laptop, and she rests it on the aisle adjacent to Harry. 

“Who’s the person next to Katsuki?”

Her eyes widen, before she leaps up from her seat, rushing towards the handles by the stairs nearest towards the rink. She clasps her hands together, excitedly vibrating. “They’re here! I thought they wouldn’t be at practice yet!”

Harry rolls his eyes, before grabbing Mina’s arm and pulling her back to sit down next to Matthew. After a quick introduction, he crosses his arms and forces Mina to calm down before repeating his question. 

“Okukawa-sensei- oh, er teacher ? She’s Yuuri-kun’s new coach.”

What ?” 

“Nobu apparently dropped him - there is definitely some validity to my points about it all being a conspiracy to blacklist him, since he apparently had a job offer from one of those schools, but it doesn’t matter! Yuuri-kun is going to do so well!” 

Harry blinks slowly, as if he can’t believe the figure in front of him is his friend. “... Mina, are you alright?”

She was positively buzzing with animation, Harry could almost see the flowers blooming around her face. “I’m great . Oh you will not believe what’s been happening in Japan with Yuuri-kun.”

“Do tell.”

“Look at the program sheet.”

“A- a new program?”

“It was glorious . You should’ve seen it, at Nationals everyone was on their feet. Get this as well, he’s listed as the main choreographer. And it 100% shows, when he performs it, he just lights up.” 

Harry scrambles for the call-sheet. The first page is all that Matthew and he had looked at, in particular because it had the order of performances on. Matthew leans over to take a look. 

“Gnossienne No.1 and Metamorphosis II - they’re by two different artists, I’ve never heard-”

“Let me see.” Matthew grapples the paper out of Harry’s hands, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Gnossienne is definitely Satie, he’s a French composer. Metamorphosis could be Philip Glass. They’re both piano pieces. I wonder how he remixed the two songs together.” 

“Oh, they’re very complimentary. I was there at Nationals, the short program was an experience . And he’s completely changed the choreographic elements and jump sequences for Longherin, it’s like a completely different piece all together. But you’ll see that at practice yourself when he’s up later. It’s his components I want you to look at. Here.” 

“Step sequence first, triple lutz- he can do a triple axel?!”

“He what?!” Harry rips the paper out of Matthew’s hand, jaw dropping. “There’s no way he regained his axel, he’s been doing double all year because he lost it last season.”

Mina hums with anticipation, a huge grin stretching across her face. “No, he’s never lost his triple axel because he never actually had it - his axel from last season was always slightly under-rotated, ergo why he’d always flub the landing. But, at nationals he landed three perfectly rotated jumps. One in the short, two in the long.” 

Three triple axels? After only doing doubles all season? How did they look?”

“Oh, you won’t believe me at all if I tell you- no, no we’re going to watch him practice. I want to record your face when he lands it.”

“That’s a lot of faith considering we’ve never seen him land it once in competition over a year.”

“Well, ever since he split with his old coach, he’s been different, like- I don’t know how to explain it. His aura- I, look I don’t want to overhype him, but I got the chance to see him after Nationals. It felt like when Nikiforov walks into the room - like there’s no way in hell he would ever lose .”

“I’ve always believed he’d bounce back to how he once was, but I never thought it would come this quickly. I thought, maybe, maybe during seniors, if he found a good enough coach outside of Japan. But, ever since Nationals… He surprised me. He’s always surprising me.” 

The three of them lapse in silence, and Mina can do nothing but stare out into the slowly filling arena, eyes completely on Katsuki. 

 

*** 

 

December 11, 

Capital Gymnasium, Rink B 

Beijing, China  

 

In the end, Katsuki didn’t do a triple axel at practice. In fact, he didn’t do any jumps at all. 

It didn’t matter in the slightest to Matthew because Katsuki was a sight to behold

The speed of his transitions, the elements, all of the step sequences in and out of what had to be his jumping passes- it made Matthew’s heart leap . Skating had been his only love, it had to be, with how much time he had given up for the sport. As the years passed by, it was Matthew who understood the change that his sport had undergone. He had seen as jumps had evolved, how spins had picked up more variations, the difficulty rising and rising. 

He had seen a skater land a quadruple flip, a jump that should, by all accounts of physics, be impossible to land. And yet, he had lived long enough to see it happen. 

With all the technical advancements that the sport had made, there had always been one area that Matthew could never forgive the world for. The lost art of grace. 

He missed the elegance of the sport, the artistry, the passion . Matthew was not like his peers, he understood the need for progress, for growth . But, by god, he missed the time when beauty and poise were the cornerstone of figure skating. Jumps had been simply an extension of that, floating in the air was just another way to glide

But as the goal-posts were moved and the judging criteria changed, skating had become a situation of choice - to choose artistry over athleticism was to rot away in the sport. Technical expertise would earn you medals, and would always be rewarded that way. 

Matthew understood this, had engrained it deep within his bones when he had lost the chance at an Olympic medal because he could not complete that bastardly double axel rotation. No matter if he was first in presentation points, technique would always be the deciding factor. 

So why? Why was watching Katsuki during practice, refusing to practice any of his jumps, making his heart burst out of his chest. Nostalgia was a powerful thing, but to be reminded once again of the past, of how beautiful his sport truly was, Matthew could not understand how he had left skating so abruptly, without an inch of remorse. 

He had lost everything that day at the Olympics, when he had fallen. It was at this moment, that single practice run, when Matthew was confronted with the reality - no matter how old he became, skating could always make him feel young again. 

“You ready for the show, Matthew?” 

Matthew looks up at his partner, headphones clasped over his head and micset positioned for their cue to begin. He takes one more look at the loud screaming of the fans, at the senior skaters who are wearing their countries’ colours, front and center at the rink. 

All eyes are on Viktor Nikiforov, the red of Russia’s team jacket bouncing off the cold ice. He waves toward the audience, who in response let out a roar of screams. But Matthew’s eyes are on one person. Right there, at the back, circling the rink with the other junior cohorts, was Katsuki, a single figure clad in Japan’s black and blue training jacket. 

Matthew had not been a professional in over twenty years, but he closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and nods.  

Mark, their sound technician, makes a quick note of their microphones, before motioning towards the cameras below. He takes one more look at the call-sheet in his hand, before turning towards Harry and Matthew. He lifts up his thumbs with a comforting smile, before Harry takes a deep breath.  “Three, two, one- go .” 

*** 

“Welcome, everyone to Capital Gymnasium Arena in Beijing, China. You are joined here today by myself, Harry Donovan and Matthew Evans, three-time European Champion. Usually, we’d be only commenting on the seniors for the Grand Prix Final, but as the sport is changing, so are we at Eurosport!

For the next three days, myself and Matthew will be guiding you all through the wonders of figure skating, starting with the Junior Grand Prix final and all the way through till the seniors. Right now, we are watching the Opening Ceremony of this year’s Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. Medals are awarded in men’s singles, ladies’ singles, pair skating and ice dancing.” 

“On the ice, right now, are our athletes. The best of the best, the top six athletes in their discipline.” 

“Of course, this year is a little special, isn’t it, Matthew?” 

“Yes, for the first time since the conception of The Grand Prix, or back in my day, when it was called the Champions Series, the Junior and Senior disciplines will be occurring simultaneously!” 

“It will surely be one for the history books. There, you can see Viktor Nikiforov, the reigning Grand Prix Champion, with his excess of charisma! Nikiforov made history only three weeks ago by being the first skater in history to break the 100 point barrier.”

“Yes, it caused quite the stir. There has never been a skater before who has earned 100 points in the short program.”

“Of course, you’re quite used to the old scoring system-”

“With the sixes, yes, but I watched, as I’m sure everyone else has, the Shanghai event - and even then, I’m sure he would’ve gotten sixes all around. He was absolutely spectacular.”

“Nikiforov is looking to win back-to-back Grand Prix titles, a feat which has not been repeated since 1997 when the USA’s Alex Meyers won his second title in Melbourne.” 

“That’s all the skaters of the finals, you can see the seniors and juniors mingling on the ice for what is a historic moment - I wish them all the best of luck.”

“Most definitely. The skaters are now leaving the rink, they’re done with greeting the audience it seems, and now the judges are currently being introduced, and the technical panel administrators. Whilst this is happening, we will tell you all about the schedule for this year’s Grand Prix Final.” 

“So, the first day of the Grand Prix Final will be given to the Junior competitors! Junior ice dancing will take place first, where the original dance segment of the competition will commence at four-forty-five. Then, soon after at six, we have the junior men’s short program, followed by pair skating short at half seven and finally, the beautiful junior ladies’ short program at nine.”

“It will be a long and tiring day, but I hope you all stay tuned to watch the future of figure skating here at Capital Gymnasium Arena. For day two of the Grand Prix Final, we will have the junior pairs and men’s free skating late in the afternoon, followed imminently by the arrival of Senior events - Ice Dancing, Men’s, Ladies’ and Pairs short programs will happen in the evening...”

*** 

Yakov should not be here. 

In five hours, Mila would be performing in her first ever Grand Prix Final. He should be helping her prepare, going over the short program component scores, helping her to get into the right mindframe to compete. Instead, he had motioned for Yulia to take over, going through the step-by-step preparation that Yakov himself usually undertakes. 

Mila had not questioned it, in fact, she seemed almost ecstatic at the chance to escape from Yakov’s claws, immediately turning to the other assistant coach with a jump in her step.

He had not given a reason for his sudden departure, after all, he would only be gone for half an hour at most. No, Yakov had slipped past as undetected as one can be when they are as renowned in the field as he is. 

None of the skaters were a threat to Viktor, (or, if he’s being realistic, Georgi.) But it’s Katsuki who Yakov’s eye is on, Yura’s face constantly whirring in his head. There had been a niggling feeling in the back of Yakov’s mind ever since Yura’s outburst at the rink, and he had taken it upon himself to do a little scouting. 

There was not a lot about Katsuki in the Russian press, and neither was there in the international community. It took all of Yakov’s resources to finally find out what had caused Yura to be so adamantly infatuated with the other skater, ( because there was no other word for his obsession) - he had seemingly changed his programs mid-season after switching coaches. 

If it were any other country, Yakov was sure he would’ve been able to find clips of the competition in which Katsuki had unveiled his new routines, but alas, Japanese copyright laws were much more of a hindrance to him than he ever could’ve expected. All Yakov had found on the internet were obscure Japanese-written articles that he could not, for the life of him, translate. Google had failed him spectacularly. 

So that’s how Yakov found himself here, hiding his face from those who could recognise him, sitting high up in one of the empty aisles of the audience seating area. Soon after the Opening Ceremony, many of the seats had emptied out in favour of waiting in the lobby to catch a glimpse of seniors walking about and talking to press. The ones that stayed behind were not paying attention, at all. It left a sour taste in Yakov’s mouth, but it was a reality all skater’s had to face. 

There were too many empty seats at Junior competitions, but that was the way it always was. It works in Yakov’s favour, as he settles down in his seat, eyes trained on the rink. 

The skating program showed that Katsuki would be skating first, Yakov realises with a grimace. That meant he was the lowest ranked skater, and Yakov wonders once again why Yuri would idolise a skater who had only just scraped into the finals.  

There are things that Yakov has learnt after being in the business for so many years, things that turn experience into gut instinct - the biggest lesson? Never underestimate your competitors. 

There is something fishy about Katsuki. Something big that nobody is paying attention to. Yes, maybe everyone at the rink might think it’s cute that Yuri has someone he looks up to, even if it’s a no-name skater that nobody has on their radar. But Yakov knows his skaters inside and out, Yuri Plisesky does not respect skaters. And yet this Japanese skater has Yuri’s entire attention. 

That means something. 

Yakov watches as the tannoy announces “Yuuri Katsuki, Japan” to a smattering of low-level applause. He’s decked out in whites and blues, a figure of stark contrast against the ice. Katsuki takes a deep breath, and skates across the clean ice, warming his body up. 

Nobody is paying attention, nobody but Yakov. 

His eyes are trained on the screen lifted above the rink, televising Katsuki to the entire audience and the world. It zooms into his face, and Yakov realises what the feeling in his stomach is, the clamminess of his hands, the acceleration of his heartbeat - it’s anticipation .  

He doesn’t look anything like the rumour mills sprout about him. Katsuki is calm and collected, as if he’s been doing this for years, there is none of the anxious demeanor that always seems to follow him whenever he steps on to the ice. There is no hint of tension in his body as he skates to the center of the rink, eyes narrowed in concentration. 

There is a small banner filling the bottom of the screen with all the details of the skater, his name, age, coaching staff and Yakov lets out what he hopes is a miniscule gasp of shock. Next to the name of his musical piece, the space where the photographer's name should be, was Katsuki’s own name, along with his coach. He… he choreographed his own piece? 

The placing of the names is not unintentional. By having his name first, it establishes Katsuki as the main choreographer. Immediately, Yakov’s thoughts start to run wild. 

Katsuki's face fills up the screen. Yakov watches with bated breath, and then the music starts.

He glides out on the ice, flowing single-footed with such grace and elegance, Yakov is entranced . Every elongation of his arms is completely attuned with the way his legs sweep across the ice so that every single movement he makes hits the same beat as the music. 

It’s lyrical, supple, and as easy as breathing. No excess motion. Every movement is important. There is no tightness in his muscle, no locking before his feet carry him into an exuberant step sequence.

Katsuki’s performance had grabbed Yakov from the beginning, so entranced that he had forgotten for a minute what exactly he was watching - a competition. A competition where jumps were key. 

It hits him in the middle, when Katsuki finally throws himself into his first jump - a fully rotated, perfectly executed triple lutz that lands at the same time that the music changes. 

He lifts his head up, expression turning from spirited to sombre instantly. The routine enters its second half, and Katsuki has only jumped one of his required three jumping elements. 

There is a flurry of vibrant music, Katsuki leading it forward, as if his body is calling to every note that burns through the speaker. He is a conductor, restraining every note to his complete control. Then, with complete ease, he steps into a flourish of step sequences, calling everyone into his performance-oh. 

Oh. 

Yakov bolts up, his eyes widening and the breath catching within his lungs. Because at that moment, when Yakov had thought Katsuki had thrown himself into another choreographic sequence, he had turned his body into a back-counter, a difficult step movement. He had thought Katsuki would use the back-counter to propel himself into another flurry of skating steps. But he did not use the back-counter step to extend his sequence. 

No. Katsuki had used the back-counter step as an entry into a triple axel. 

All of Yakov’s energy leaves him suddenly, and he finds himself slumping against his seat. A back-counter entry. Into a triple axel. 

He has never seen it before. 

Those are not step sequences. They are transitions

He lands his last jumping element, the combination jump of a triple flip-triple toe, with the same flourish of musicality that the entire program encompasses, pushing himself on tired legs to finish a beautiful choreographic sequence, complete with biellmann spins, Ina Bauers and beautiful flexible spin variations that Yakov still struggled to teach his female skaters on how to execute. 

Katsuki is heaving by the end of his program, bent over in silence to gather his breath, but the audience is not. At a time when the crowd is filled with only family members and uninterested skating fans, Katsuki earns the biggest applause Yakov has ever heard at a junior audience.

With his legs extended in a simple but beautiful plie, as his arms arc above his head, he bows towards each section of the audience in gratitude. He bows as if he had not just shaken Yakov to his very core. 

Katsuki makes his way towards his coach, and finally looks like the teenager he actually is, arms thrown around her shoulders in excitement as the two jump up and down in shared satisfaction. 

Yakov stares at the screen, showing replays of all of Katsuki’s highlights - a close up of his feet during the take-off for the triple lutz, a deep back outside edge so textbook perfect, Yakov can barely believe his eyes, the height of his triple axel, extending both vertically into the air and across the ice, the triple flip-triple toe that moved with such speed and precision, the ina bauer marking the end of his program, coiling his entire spine backwards and curling his hands in an extension of ease. 

It was a masterpiece, a thing of beauty. 

But that did not stop Yakov’s brain from spinning. Nobody understood the gravity of what the audience had just witnessed, nobody but coaches and judges. Katsuki had pushed all of his hardest elements into the second half of his programs - the two major jumps, the triple axel and the triple-triple combination, would receive a ten percent bonus. 

It’s a style Yakov would never have expected from a Japanese skater, one that he himself had tried to implement with both Viktor and Georgi before they realised the monstrous stamina needed to even be capable of doing them. 

By the middle of a program, skaters legs would be burning with exhaustion - to try and do jumps would be suicidal. Even Viktor had decided to not tempt fate - the two had strategized together to put his most stable (and here, it was important to note that stable did not mean easy) jumps at the end. For Viktor, that meant some of his triple-triple combinations and his triple flips. 

It sounds all good in theory, throw all your jumps at the end of the program and get extra points. But in reality, it’s a pipe dream. Or, it was

Katsuki though, Katsuki had pulled off a back-counter triple axel, something Yakov had never even seen before at the later stage of his program. Yakov had never in all of his many years of coaching, seen a person be able to land a back-counter entry into a triple axel with that much perfection

It was an aggressive approach, one that placed so much on the skater’s ability to flourish under pressure during the performance. And it was Katsuki’s own piece. A winning scheme packaged into a beautiful presentation. It was a figure skating wet dream. 

Pure athletic ability. Unparalleled musicality. A desire to win. 

For four years, skaters had attempted the impossible, trying to break Viktor’s unbeatable record of 79.21. For over four years, Viktor had held on to the title as unbeatable. It was a myth, a legend . As the years progressed, to break it was unthinkable. 

Yakov did not have to wait for the judges mark. He already knows what is about to happen. Throughout the performance, he had made a tally in his head, had watched with his fist clenched tightly as the number rose and rose, and rose

“Skater Yuuri Katsuki of Japan has earned in the short program ....84.04 points!” 

Chapter Text

勇生 @+[Yuki]  

 

岡田さな [Okada Sana] 

@ Okada_S 🔒 

ジュニアフィギュアスケート選手、ユウリ・カツキのジュニア以来のファンアカウント。| お問い合わせのDM

fan account of japanese figure skater yuuri katsuki since juniors | DM FOR INQUIRIES 

写真を再投稿しないでください

DO NOT REPOST PICTURES 

📍 Japan 🇯🇵         🗓️ Joined January 2004

 

5 following           1,821 followers

 

followed by minako-okukawa, nishi-yuu, hasetsu-icecastle, mihana, あかり and キリンのミヤ and 30 others 

 

Tweets      Tweets & replies      Media      Likes 

 

📌 Pinned   

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 59s 

 

[A high definition photograph of Yuuri Katsuki, a junior skater from Japan, with his arms up in the air, at the end of his short program at the JGPF.] 

私はいつもあなたが翼を広げて飛ぶと信じていました。私をあなたと一緒にこの旅に連れて行ってくれてありがとう。

[I have always believed that you would spread your wings and fly. Thank you for letting me be on this journey alongside you.] 

32 🗨️  72 ⟲ 199 ♡

liked by nishi-yuu, mihana, and 189 others 

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 1d

[A photo of the sun setting from an airplane window. It’s a beautiful array of oranges and reds, a breathtaking site.] 

北京、ここに来る

[Beijing, here I come!] 

10 🗨️  18 ⟲ 46 ♡

 

宮原花 @ mihana . 1d 

@+[Yuki] 安全な飛行をしてください、マスター様

[Have a safe flight, master-sama] 

1 🗨️  0 ⟲ 9 ♡

 

@+[Yuki] . 1d

@ mihana ありがとう 

[Thanks!] 

3 🗨️  2 ⟲ 10 ♡

 

miya-the-giraffe @ キリンのミヤ   . 1d

@+[Yuki] ゆうりくんに愛を込めて送って

[Send Yuuri-kun all of our love!] 

2 🗨️  0 ⟲ 29 ♡

 

南城 あかり @あかり . 1d

@+[Yuki]  ゆうりくんの綺麗な写真を一息ついてお待ちしております!

[I will wait for all the beautiful pictures you take of our Yuuri-kun with bated breath!] 

1 🗨️  1 ⟲ 40 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 8h  

ゆうりくんはナショナルズでとてもうまくいったので、彼が彼のプログラムをもう一度繰り返すことができることを願っています

[Yuuri-kun did so well at Nationals, I hope he can repeat his program again] 

9 🗨️  21 ⟲ 76 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 6h

ああ!ゆうりくんはアイドルと同じ氷の上にいる!彼がニキフォロフ様とすぐに話をするようになることを願っています!

[Aaaah! Yuuri-kun is on the same ice as his idol! I hope he gets to talk with Nikiforov-sama soon!] 

12 🗨️  72 ⟲ 99 ♡

 

南城 あかり @あかり. 7h

@+[Yuki]  ユウリくんはまだ人種のるつぼになっていないことにショックを受けました-ヴィクトルは彼からわずか数メートルのところにあります

[I’m shocked Yuuri-kun hasn’t become a melting pot of mush yet- Viktor is only a few meters away from him]

2 🗨️  1 ⟲ 2 ♡

 

@+[Yuki] . 7h

@あかり  彼はとてもかわいいです。彼はこっそり一瞥し続けますが、どこにも近づくことはありません。ゆうりくん!あなたは彼と話をすることができます!ガンバッテ!

[He's so cute. He keeps sneaking glances, but never gets anywhere close. Yuuri-kun! You can go talk to him! Ganbatte!] 

4 🗨️  19 ⟲ 59 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 6h 

ニキフォロフ様はとてもハンサムです。こんなにきれいな人を見たことがありません。ꈍ .̮ ꈍ

[Nikiforov-sama is so handsome. I've never seen someone that pretty in person.] 

12 🗨️  20 ⟲ 89 ♡

 

結愛 @YURIFAN02 . 6h 

@+[Yuki]  ゆうりは味がいい ( ̄TT ̄)

[Yuuri has good taste.]

3 🗨️  9 ⟲ 52 ♡


miya-the-giraffe @キリンのミヤ . 6h 

@+[Yuki]  私たちのゆうりに期待されるように、彼は最高の最高のものだけに値する。彼の偶像でさえ異世界的です。

[As expected of our Yuuri, he deserves only the best of the best. Even his idols are otherworldly.] 

2 🗨️  28 ⟲ 71 ♡

 

佐藤秀明 @S_Hideaki . 6h 

@+[Yuki] ゆうりの片思いはとても理解できる

[Yuuri’s crush is so understandable.] 

1 🗨️  31 ⟲ 69 ♡


村巻 久喜 @m-kukki . 6h 

@+[Yuki] 彼の髪は写真のように完璧ですか?

[Is his hair as perfect as it is in pictures?]

2 🗨️  19 ⟲ 21 ♡

 

@+[Yuki] . 6h 

@m-kukki さらに良い。とても長くて厚いです!私の髪がそんなに健康だったらいいのに。

[Even better. It's so long and thick! I wish my hair was that healthy.]  

1 🗨️  9 ⟲ 19 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 5h

ジュニアはそれほど愛されていないことは知っていますが、シニアスケーターがリンクを離れたという理由だけでアリーナを離れることはとても失礼です T.T ¯\_(⊙︿⊙)_/¯

[I know Juniors isn’t that well-loved, but to leave the arena just because the senior skaters have left the rink is so rude T.T] 

12 🗨️  38 ⟲ 119 ♡

 

勇生 @ +[Yuki] . 2h

ゆうりくんが練習中!彼のセリフはいつもとても美しいです。

[Yuuri-kun is practicing now! His lines are always so beautiful!] 

4 🗨️  29 ⟲ 124 ♡

 

スージー @suji-k . 2h

@+[Yuki] 

彼の状態はどのように見えますか?彼はジャンプをしましたか?トリプルアクセルはどうですか?それは実際にはどのように見えますか

[How does his condition look? Has he done any jumps? What about the triple axel? What does it look like in person?]

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 1 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 2h 

@suji-k  彼はまだ実際にはジャンプをしていません。T.T 彼はステップシーケンスに集中しているようです。

[He hasn’t done any jumps in practice yet T.T It looks like he’s just concentrating on his step sequence.] 

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 39 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 1h

アメリカのスケーターは良いジャンプをしています。高さは巨大です。

[The American skater has good jumps - the height is /huge/!] 

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 29 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 30m

練習は終わりました!アメリカのスケーターは良いジャンプをしています。高さは巨大です。

[Practice is over! Yuuri-kun is performing first! So exciting!] 

14 🗨️  22 ⟲ 79 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 15m

ゆうりくんが始まります!!  キャー

[Yuuri-kun’s starting kya! ]

3 🗨️  20 ⟲ 92 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 14m 

彼はとてもきれいに見えます!以前にコスチュームを見たことがありますが、それでも息を呑むT.T

[He looks so pretty! Even though I’ve seen the costume before, it still takes my breath away T.T] 

10 🗨️  23 ⟲ 89 ♡

 

miya-the-giraffe @ キリンのミヤ . 13m 

@+[Yuki]  彼が以前の嫌なテクニカラーのネオンの怪物からそれを変えてくれてとてもうれしいです。(⊙ _☉)

[ I’m so glad he changed it from that gross techni-coloured neon monstrosity from before.] 

0 🗨️  3 ⟲ 72 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 11m 

彼は最初のジャンプを上陸させました!トリプルルッツはとても良かったです!

[He landed his first jump! The triple lutz was so good!] 

17 🗨️  21 ⟲ 89 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 10m 

彼はそれをしました!彼は再びバックカウンターエントリーをしました!

[He did it! He did the back-counter entry again!] 

19 🗨️  46 ⟲ 98 ♡

 

宮原花 @ mihana . 10m 

@+[Yuki] 聴衆はどのように反応しましたか (´v`)

[How did the audience react?]

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 39 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 10m 

@ mihana 誰もが息を切らしています。私はとても大声で叫んだ、ハハハハ

[Everyone is gasping. I screamed so loudly hahaha.]  

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 39 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 10m 

正直なところ、彼のトリプルアクセルを見るのはとてもシュールです。エントリー、彼の身長を忘れますか?直接見ると、ゆうりくんがどれだけ高くジャンプできるかがよくわかります 0.0 

[In all honesty, seeing his triple axel is so surreal. Forget the entry, his height? Seeing it in person really puts it in perspective just how high Yuuri-kun can jump 0.0]

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 39 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 8m 

うわー、このパフォーマンスを見たのは2回目ですが、ライブで見るとグースバンプが発生します。

[Uwa! It’s only the second time that I’ve seen this performance, but seeing it live gives me goosebumps.] 

14 🗨️  12 ⟲ 82 ♡

 

宮原花 @ mihana 

@+[Yuki] 

画面上ではなくライブで見ると、どのように違うと感じますか?私はとても嫉妬していますT.T

[How different does it feel seeing it live rather than on a screen? I’m so jealous T.T] 

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 21 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki]

@mihana それは比類のないです。これからは、すべての大会に行きます 

(๑•̀ㅂ•́)و

[It’s incomparable. From now on, I’m going to go to every competition.]

4 🗨️  10 ⟲ 41 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 7m 

彼らは彼にハイスコアを与えなければなりません。これはシニアショートプログラムと同じです。

[They have to give him a high score. This is the same as a senior short program.] 

3 🗨️  5 ⟲ 65 ♡

 

@mihana . 7m 

@+[Yuki]  これは本当にシニアショートプログラムですO.O

彼はすべてのコンポーネントと非常識なトリプルアクセルを持っています。

[This really is a senior short program O.O He has all the components, and an insane triple axel.] 

1 🗨️  1 ⟲ 7 ♡


佐藤秀明 @S_Hideaki . 7m 

@+[Yuki]  彼は本当に先輩で競争するのに必要なすべてを持っています-うーん!彼の元コーチがいなかったら、彼はもっと早く先輩で競争していたかもしれない!

[He really does have all it takes to compete at seniors - ugh! If it wasn't for his ex-coach, he could've been competing in seniors sooner!] 

0 🗨️  1 ⟲ 5 ♡


miya-the-giraffe @キリンのミヤ . 6m 

@+[Yuki] まあ、少なくとも今は彼がうまくやっていることを嬉しく思うはずです。とにかく先輩に行く前に、彼に世界タイトルを取り戻してもらいたい! !(•̀ᴗ•́)و ̑̑

[Well, we should be happy that at least now he’s doing well, I want him to reclaim his World title before he goes to seniors anyway! !(•̀ᴗ•́)و ̑̑ ] 

0 🗨️  0 ⟲ 8 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 5m 

わぁ、スコアが気になります。彼はいつも強調されています。ゆうりくん、ガンバッテ!

[Wah, I’m so anxious about the scores. He’s always underscored. Yuuri-kin, ganbatte!] 

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 39 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 4m 

!!! 

10 🗨️  3 ⟲ 81 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 3m

[Gif]

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 71 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki] . 3m

84.04?! 

32 🗨️  54 ⟲ 101 ♡

 

勇生 @+[Yuki]  . 3m 

私はこれを正しく見ていますか?!

[AM I SEEING THIS CORRECTLY?]

7 🗨️  3 ⟲ 39 ♡

 

宮原花 @ mihana . 3m

@+[Yuki] 彼は記録を破った?!

[HE BROKE THE RECORD?] 

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 29 ♡


miya-the-giraffe @ キリンのミヤ   . 3m 

@+[Yuki] 誰かが私にスコアの内訳を教えてくれます!

[SOMEONE GIVE ME A BREAKDOWN OF THE SCORES, NOW!]

0 🗨️  2 ⟲ 49 ♡

 

***

 

trending . sports (worldwide) 

 

Angels vs. Giants 

trending with #Owen, #Ralph

52k 

 

30 HR 

trending with #Angelsv.Giants

17k

 

#GPFBeijing

10k

 

World Record 

5k 

trending with #GPFBeijing

 

#Junior GPF

1k

 

Viktor Nikiforov 

18k 

 

Yuuri Katsuki 

4k 

 

HE BROKE THE RECORD? 

1k

 

***

 

NHK SPORTS  @NHK+Sports . 12m 

#GPFBeijingのショートプログラムでユウリ・カツキ選手がジュニア世界記録を更新

[Katsuki Yuuri-senshu breaks the junior world record in the short program at #GPFBeijing] 

33 🗨️  74 ⟲ 326 ♡

 

佐藤秀明 @S_Hideaki . 11m 

@NHK+Sports  ゆうりくん !!! 

[Yuuri-kun !!!] 

1 🗨️  4 ⟲ 6 ♡


みやちゃん @miyamiya . 10m

@NHK+Sports 世界記録!おめでとう、ゆうりくん 

[A new world record! Congratulations, Yuuri-kun!] 

0 🗨️  0 ⟲ 6 ♡


スージー @suji-k . 9m

@NHK+Sports ゆうりくんはすごかった 

[Yuuri-kun was amazing!] 

0 🗨️  0 ⟲ 2 ♡


村巻 久喜 @m-kukki . 7m

@NHK+Sports すばらしい [Amazing!] 

0 🗨️  0 ⟲ 1♡


結愛@YURIFAN02 . 7m 

@NHK+Sports 演奏するたびにいつも泣かせてくれます!私の高血圧の責任をとってください、ゆうりくん!

[You always make me cry whenever you perform! Take responsibility for my high blood pressure, Yuuri-kun!] 

2 🗨️  1 ⟲ 76 ♡

 

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating Retweeted . 1m

Euro Sports  @ESports_Figure Skating . 4m

[A thumbnail of Yuuri at the end of his program, his sky-blue costume a stark contrast to the pale white of the ice. It is a link to an article about Yuuri’s world-shattering record] 

Yuuri Katsuki of Japan breaks the four-year long world record in the short program at this year’s Junior Grand Prix Final at Beijing, China, originally set by Russia’s Viktor Nikiforov! 

31 🗨️  144 ⟲ 476 ♡

 

全日本フィギュアスケート ✓ @FigureSkating_Japan . 12m

[A screenshot of Yuuri Katsuki in the Kiss&Cry with his coach, Minako Okukawa. Underneath them is a banner showing his technical and component scores, culminating in his combined score of 84.04 - a new world record.] 

世界記録を更新し、ショートプログラムをリードしてくれたジュニアフィギュアスケート選手のカツキユウリ選手、おめでとうございます!

[Congratulations to our junior figure skater, Katsuki Yuuri-senshu, who takes the lead after the short program after breaking the world record!] 

21 🗨️  244 ⟲ 676 ♡

 

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating . 10m 

Japan’s Yuuri Katsuki breaks the junior world record in the short program, taking the lead going into the free program! With a triple axel, triple lutz and triple flip-triple toe loop combination, he secured 84.04 points! That’s over 4.83 points more than the last world record of 79.21, which was made over four years ago by Russia’s Viktor Nikiforov at the Junior World Championship. 

34 🗨️  192 ⟲ 312 ♡

 

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating . 9m  

[A link to the score sheet uploaded on the ISU website] 

Here is a breakdown of Katsuki’s scores! 

TES: 48.79

PCS: 35.25 

Total: 84.04 

81 🗨️  281 ⟲ 916 ♡

 

yuuri’s got me in a chokehold @mihana 

He got 35.25 for his PCS?! Are you kidding me? 

3 🗨️  31 ⟲ 16 ♡

 

viktor’s wifey @jessie-bessie 

Am I the only person who thinks he should’ve been awarded a higher component score? 

12 🗨️  200 ⟲ 312 ♡

 

Golden Boy Viktor @v-nikiforov1

@jessie-bessie No you’re not. I’m a little salty that he broke Vitya’s record (especially since it’s been untouchable for fucking years ) but to only getting a 35.25? Something seems fishy 👀

4 🗨️  12 ⟲ 31 ♡

 

Витя @N-vitya-babes  

There’s no way he got only 6.75 in transitions when he did a back-counter entry into a fucking triple axel

0 🗨️  4 ⟲ 2 ♡


viktor’s wife @ v-nikiforov1

Not this junior skater having better transitions than senior skaters 💀

3 🗨️  18 ⟲ 182 ♡

 

giacometti’s 🍑  @figureskatingpsycho

Embarrassing, me thinks :/ 

1 🗨️  4 ⟲ 82 ♡

 

bin is my baby @gloryseekers121  

No, because why is his PCS score so low? He’s got some of the best interpretations I’ve seen - name me a senior skater who emotes like he does. 

6 🗨️  21 ⟲ 61 ♡

 

choke me with viktor nikiforov’s hair @niki-bitchy

@gloryseekers121 He’s a former ballet dancer! His coach, the woman with him at the Kiss&Cry, is the most famous ballerina in Japan, Minako Okukawa! She posts some clips of their ballet practices on her instagram! 

1 🗨️  41 ⟲ 82 ♡

 

Hello, new phone who dis @deadinside_129

@gloryseekers121 @niki-bitchy A ballet dancer? Makes sense why his lines are literally perfection. Also, they only gave him a +2 on that triple axel? Why is it so hard to give a full +3 - is there any other way to make the triple axel harder than a fucking back-counter?! He doesn’t rest in between jumps - just goes straight into a step sequence on the same fucking leg he landed on 

2 🗨️  24 ⟲ 76 ♡

 

vitya owns my ass @squidwardsbumchin  

Oh my god, I just saw a replay of the 3A, and you’re right . Katsuki doesn’t even put his free leg down like other skaters do. He just does a bunch of step sequences out of it - what kind of fucking core strength does this guy have?! 

1 🗨️  14 ⟲ 66 ♡

 

Витя @N-vitya-babes

I can't believe Katsuki is using twizzle exits as metaphorical jazz hands 💀  

4 🗨️  89 ⟲ 146 ♡

 

figure skating is life @yeolhaeni 

Not Katsuki breaking the world record and still being underscored  💀 💀 💀  

12 🗨️  44 ⟲ 176 ♡

 

***

 

Chris 🍑  

You are a piece of shit, Katsuki. 

read 

 

Yuuri 🌸

(。•̀ᴗ-)✧

sent 

 

Yuuri 🌸

I’m guessing you watched?

 

Chris 🍑

I was in the fucking stands screaming. Did you not hear?

read 

 

Yuuri 🌸

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

sent

 

Yuuri 🌸

There was a lot of screaming. 

sent

 

Chris 🍑

I WILL FUCKING PINCH YOUR ASS. WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT TRIPLE AXEL?! 

read 

 

Chris 🍑

AND ALSO - You fucking  choreographed the program? You said nothing about that! 

read  

 

Yuuri 🌸

I did! I wasn’t allowed on the ice for ages so I made a new routine whilst on bedrest (▰˘︹˘▰)

sent

 

Chris 🍑

Whilst on bedrest?! 

I’m going to kill you. How dare you do this when you know I can’t watch your free program tomorrow 😤

read 

 

Yuuri 🌸

Because you’ll be competing! SP is at seven right? I’ll watch in the stands (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)و

sent

 

Chris 🍑

Don’t think acting cute is going to protect you. I will pinch your ass the next time I see you.

read  

 

Yuuri 🌸

Please don’t touch my butt. 

sent

 

Chris 🍑

Nope, I think I’m owed it. 

read

 

***

Dec 11,

Imperial Hotel, Beijing, Republic of China 

Day 1 of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 

 

Viktor heaves a huge sigh, resting his chin on his hand as he overlooks the Beijing skyline from his seat by the window. 

The FKKR had booked the entire floor of the hotel as a precaution from certain… overzealous admirers that Viktor had somehow acquired through his years as the figure skating world’s hottest commodity. 

In fact, Viktor’s pretty sure if he went out into the enclosed balcony, he could peer down and still see hoards of fans camped out in little tents around the entrance like little bees trying to see their monarch. 

There had already been run-ins with fans outside the hotel lobby, and the FKKR had essentially told Viktor that if he left without his bodyguards, two people who were made out of muscle, they would drag him back to his hotel room and keep him captive there until the short program. 

He knows it’s for his own safety, but he’s going crazy by himself. Igor and Polina are not the best of company. They had obviously been given some kind of strict orders by both Yakov and the Federation, staying on patrol right outside of Viktor’s door like two little guard dogs. 

He thought he’d be able to at least leave during the Junior competition - he wouldn’t have practice until tomorrow so today was his only free day! Beijing was so pretty during this time, and there was so much to see! 

He wanted to go sightseeing! The Palace Museum and The Forbidden City! Tiananmen Square, The Great Wall of China! How could they keep Viktor under lock and key when there was so much to explore?  

Alas, the FKKR had deemed Viktor a flight-risk. All fifteen rooms on the floor had been completely booked by the Russian federation, whether it be coaching staff, athletes or federation officials. 

Yakov had, under no-circumstances, made it abundantly clear that Viktor was to stay in his room, and to ensure that he would know exactly where Viktor was at all times, he had made sure he was in the room directly next to him. 

It wasn’t so bad - Viktor had already stayed at the Imperial Hotel over ten times now, enough that the staff knew him by name (and maybe also because he was a somewhat celebrity figure). The maids in particular always seemed to love him, leaving him extra chocolates on his pillowcase when they came by to clean his room.

He thinks it’s because he makes conversation whilst they vacuum away, sitting on the bed as they continue their daily routine. 

Jia in particular, an elderly aunty who pinches his cheeks whenever she walks in, can always be convinced to take a break and sit in the balcony with him. Her English is pretty scarce, especially since the two of them have such heavy accents, but what they lose out in language, they make up on pure vibes. 

Maybe Viktor was feeling a little lonely, locked up in this hugely spacious hotel room all alone, fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows with a spectacular view of the Beijing skyline. It was a gilded cage for the Russian Federation’s most prized bird, and it was making Viktor itch to leave. 

Or at least he was, until he heard Yakov talking to Polina outside of his room. Yakov, who was the epitome of organised schedules, who should be with Mila. 

Something’s happened. Something that meant Yakov had to return to the hotel. Maybe he should pop out and ask? There had to be a reason for Yakov to not be at the arena. The knowledge that something is going on and Viktor doesn’t know, ( he literally knows everything, this has to be a targeted attack against him) is making Viktor want to crawl out of his own skin. 

But what could Viktor even say to his coach? Awkward wouldn’t even cut it - it would be downright uncomfortable

God, he never should’ve slept with that hockey player. At least before Yakov had let him explore the days when he didn’t have competition. 

But ever since he missed his flight and all those sponsor meetings? Yeah, Viktor would be lucky if he was allowed to even pee without someone waiting for him outside the door. 

Figure skating was a business as much as it was a sport. Viktor had been lucky that his manager, a bubbly man in his late twenties with too much time on his hands, had been able to spin his disappearance into another act of Viktor’s whimsical nature, the sign of an artistic soul who needed his time to recuperate. The sponsors had eaten it up - he really did owe Sasha a fucking raise for somehow pulling that off.  

Exhaling all of the air in his lungs, Viktor flops back on to his bed dramatically, pouting up at the ceiling. He was just so bored

As if the universe was answering his boredom, the shrill of his phone echoes across the empty vastness of his room. Scrambling up, Viktor starts to patt around his bedsheets, trying to find his phone amongst the clouds of pillows and comforters that had been dislodged when he had slumped across his bed. 

Finally in his grasp, Viktor stares befuddled at the sight. It wasn’t a call or even a text - no, Viktor’s twitter notifications were going crazy

 

Советский спорт ✓   @Sovetsky Sport

ГЛАВНЫЕ НОВОСТИ: 

четырехлетний рекорд Виктора Никифорова среди юниоров побит.

[BREAKING NEWS: Viktor Nikiforov’s four-year old Junior World Record has been broken]. 

312 🗨️  741 ⟲ 2k ♡


Живая легенда_Виктор @LL_Vitya

Не могу поверить, что рекорд Виктора на самом деле побит

[I can’t believe Viktor’s record has actually been broken.] 

81 🗨️  432 ⟲ 1k ♡


саша-саша @s_armanova 

Интересно, как Витя это воспринимает. Витя! @v-nikiforov Где ты? Ваш рекорд побит!

[I wonder how Vitya is taking it. Vitya! Where are you?! Your record has been broken!] 

2 🗨️  15 ⟲ 221 ♡

 

His… record ?

Bl’yad.” Viktor curses, his voice echoing across the empty room. 

Swiping further through his feed, Viktor is imminently pissed off at the fact that there has been no uploads of pictures and/or videos, only incredulity at the fact that Viktor’s record had been broken at all.

All Viktor can find are screenshots of the breakdown of the kid’s points, with technical scores like that, he could be competing at seniors and easily beating most of the competitors (not him though, but he could definitely be giving Georgi a run for his money). 

It might be that American figure skater that Yakov had mentioned to Georgi, the one who would move up to seniors next year. There also was the Canadian skater who could land a triple axel if there was a gun to his head.  Oh god, what if it was Smirnov?

If one of Amelin’s skaters had broken Viktor’s record, well, it would make sense why Yakov had returned to the hotel. It would’ve only been the mere sight of Amelin’s smug face before Yakov committed a murder and got himself banned from Beijing. 

And then where would Viktor be? Yakov, being the darling coach that he is, would never compromise Viktor’s consecutive Grand Prix title by being locked up in an international jail cell. But that means that it probably was Smirnov who broke his record. God, he wants to throw up. 

Viktor would rather fucking die than let a moskvich take over his record. 

With furious intent, he switches to the international tab, sifting through the English comments when there is a rapt knock at the door. 

He wretches the door open to find Yakov waiting patiently, huffing at Viktor for opening the door so late, even though he had leapt for the handle as soon as Yakov’s hand had touched the door. 

Yakov closes his eyes, before shouldering past Viktor into his room. He throws off his hat and scarf so that they’re a crumpled mess on the little table overseeing the door to Viktor’s terraced balcony. As if it’s his own room, Yakov leans back into the seat, rubbing his eyes with the hell of his palm. 

Immediately, Viktor pulls out the bottle of complimentary vodka, ( he fucking loves this hotel staff so much,) and pours a shot in Yakov’s waiting hands.

“Don’t even think about having one yourself.”

Viktor pouts, but places the bottle on the table next to Yakov. 

“So…”

Yakov groans at the sound of Viktor’s voice. Oh, it’s bad. It’s really bad. God, fucking moskvich. 

Viktor has not seen Yakov like this in a while. Not since he had been only a mere fraction away from beating Amelin’s last good skater, Federov, when he was sixteen. 

Yakov takes away his hands and looks steadily into Viktor’s eyes. “Did you get to see the highlights?”

Viktor shakes his head, crossing his legs underneath him. He toys with the drawstring of his grey hoodie. 

Yakov takes him in, before he sighs deeply. “How are you feeling?”

“It’s to be expected.” Viktor shrugs his shoulders, melting into a serene smile. He feels like an adult forced to smile graciously as someone else’s child throws up all over his shoulder. Yakov sees right through him. 

“Viktor, you are allowed to be upset.”

“Why?” Viktor rolls his eyes, flipping his hair over one side of his shoulder. “It’s been four years. I’ve had so many other records. Anyways, I can’t believe he, of all people, broke it. He can’t even do a triple axel! There needs to be an investigation into the judging. No way in hell did he get those PCS marks when he does two- footed skating-”  

“Viktor.” Yakov's face is contemplative. There is nothing of the petty anger that Viktor was expecting. 

Viktor feels his stomach plummet, and an immature rash of anger floods through him. It’s petty, but Viktor would rather a skater from a different country break his record than one of Amelin’s skaters. God, Yakov really has infected him with this rivalry.

“I thought you’d be more angry.” Viktor cocks his head to the side. “You’re handling it far better than I thought you would.”

“I- He’s going to be a problem next year.”

“Why would he- wait, is Amelin moving him to seniors already ? He can’t even land a proper triple axel, he’ll burn out-”

“Why the fuck are you talking about Amelin ?” Yakov’s face grimaces, as if this is the first time he had thought about the other skating coach. Viktor’s jaw drops open, wide

Yakov looks just as confused, before he groans loudly, rubbing his face so harshly it turns red. “Please tell me you did not think that moronic sixteen year old broke your record.”

“Well what else was I supposed to think?” Viktor screeches. “You left the arena. The only people who could make you that angry is Amelin and his dumb skaters.” 

“I’m so ashamed in you. How could you even think that he was capable of producing a skater to win the event, let alone break you fucking record?”

“Well I’m sorry .” Viktor feels sort of vindicated embarrassment. Good, Smirnov hadn’t broken his record. 

“Amelin is not going to win.” Yakov says this with such conviction, Viktor is almost jealous at the amount of trust Yakov has in this junior skater. He doesn’t answer Viktor’s question though, but his resigned face is all he needs to see. 

“You saw this person skate?”

“I had to.” Yakov pulls at his thinning hair. “I needed to know if he was worth it.”

Viktor pulls out his phone, ignoring the fact that he’s breaking at least ten of Lilia’s rules about using your phone in the middle of a conversation, but Yakov only rolls his eyes.

Clicking on the trending page, Viktor scrolls past his own name, and instead sees the other name that is trending alongside him. 

Katsuki . Where had he heard this name before? 

“He’s Japanese.” 

Viktor’s eyes lift up to meet Yakov’s. A Japanese skater? Has there been a Japanese skater in recent years that’s been good enough to destroy Viktor’s short program record? Surely he must’ve been if he’s on Yakov’s radar-

A Japanese Skater. Katsuki.  Yuri

Fucking Plisetsky. Viktor’s breath catches, and then he’s exploding into laughter, so loud it vibrates across the walls into his ears like thunder. 

It’s like all of the spiteful energy from before lifts from his shoulders - Viktor doesn’t even feel sad that he’s lost his iconic world record, all that he’s thinking of is little Yurochka fuming at the television, watching his idol break the coved world record and not being there to see it

“This isn’t funny, Viktor!” Yakov screams.

“He’s going to murder you.” 

“Forget about Yura! I’m being serious now.” Viktor falls into small hiccups of snorts, covering his mouth when Yakov’s eyes turn icy. 

“So is that what you meant by ‘if he’s worth it’? You sound like the Japanese guy is asking for Yuri’s hand in marriage.” 

“Shut up, Vitya.” Yakov’s eyes are tired. “He was underscored.”

It’s like a switch had been turned on, like warmth had been zapped out from the room. For once, Viktor could truly sense that December had hit him like a freight-truck. “But he broke the world record.” 

“And he was still underscored.” Yakov scratches underneath his chin, a nervous tick that Viktor knows means he’s feeling antsy. “He should’ve been higher in the components, especially with those transitions. But his interpretive ability, they- Viktor, he is going to be a problem .”

“How old is he?”

“Eighteen.”

He’ll be competing next year. Viktor steels his eyes, and all humour leaves him. All that is left is the calculative mind that Yakov had moulded him since infancy. 

“How much of a problem is he going to be?”

Yakov sighs, fiddling with his hat. “He choreographed his own piece. He hides the difficulty of his elements by filling up his loading time with step sequences, which completely endears him to both the judges and the audience because it’s like he’s performing, not competing. He pushes all of his hard jumping elements into the later half of his program, which means that he has a huge base value, but then he also gets some of the highest grades of executions I’ve seen from a skater this season, which is even more of a shock.”

“He does biellmann spins and donuts like they’re as easy as breathing - his flexibility is almost as incredible as his physical ability. His step sequences are even better than his jumps, and for reference, his triple axel was done off of a fucking back-counter entry.”

Viktor’s hand twitches. A back-counter? He’s never even thought to do an entry like that into any jump, let alone a fucking triple axel?  

“If he was competing in seniors, he wouldn’t be competing with Gosha or Giacometti or any other skater. If he gets a quad, he’d be competing with you .”  

Viktor swallows, but his mouth is dry, shrivelled and wilted. There is sweat pooling in the palm of his hands - he’s clammy , he realises with a laugh of disbelief. How long has it been since Viktor had felt himself become clammy? The hairs on his arms start to rise up and his heart begins to pound in his chest. 

Katsuki. 

Finally , he thinks to himself, his mouth hurting from trying to stop the stretch of his smile. Someone I can compete with.

He turns towards Yakov, eyes burning. “I want to see him.” 

 

*** 

 

Day 2 

14th December, 

Capital Gymnasium, Beijing China 

 

“Hey, there he is.” 

“How the fuck did Katsuki get like this? You said my only rival was the Russian one.”

“Shut up, he’s walking by now.” 

There is a hum of chatter as Yuuri walks into the backstage warm-up area. With floor-length mirrors across an entire section of walls and chairs set up in camps, Yuuri takes one look at his one-person party and feels utterly unprepared. 

“Yuuri, let’s warm up.”

After being relegated to holding all of Yuuri’s belongings during the entire short program, Minako had taken it upon herself to bring along a small carry-on duffle filled with all of Yuuri’s essentials, including snacks, spare laces, his second pair of skates and his skating guards. 

Yuuri was already wearing his costume, making sure to throw on his national jacket to make sure his body stayed warm. That didn’t stop Minako from forcing him to sit on a rolled out yoga mat and begin his stretches. 

The two knew it would be best not to talk, not with the room had been zapped of all it’s general conversation the moment Yuuri had walked in. 

Instead of focusing on the sudden swoop of anxious energy that settles at the bottom of his stomach whenever someone tries to make contact with him, Yuuri closes his eyes and stuffs his ears with his headphones and the sounds of Lohengrin. 

He spread out across the yoga mat, concentrating on the warm burn that spreads across his legs as he stretches his hamstrings. 

“Make sure you do your back.” Minako nudges him, and Yuuri follows his teacher’s reminder, turning into a prolonged backwards arc. 

From his position, he can see the stern gaze in Minako’s eyes, and raises his head in question. 

“Just keeping an eye on the scoreboard.” She motions to behind Yuuri, where there is a mounted television on the wall, showcasing the other competitors.

It seemed that the American, Parsons, had fallen on a triple axel attempt. The fall looked particularly bad - he must’ve lent too forward on the takeoff for the axis to be so badly angled. 

He hums at the sight, the skater getting up, face flushed red but nonetheless continuing his program without stopping. For that, Yuuri applauds him. 

“How many skaters till I have to go on?”

“After the American, two more.” Minako pulls out her phone. Yuuri glances around the warm-up room at the other two skaters - Yuuri recognises them both, but for different reasons. 

The first one he recognised purely because he was second after the short yesterday. A Russian skater, if the blinding red jacket was anything to take from it. Smirnov, Yuuri suddenly realises why he didn’t recognise his face. 

A moskvich. Yuuri can’t stop the spread of a smirk splitting across his lips until his cheeks hurt. Ignoring Minako’s surprised face, he buries his head towards the ground, trying to stop the bubble of laughter from escaping his mouth.  

He had not known about the animosity between the Moscow and Saint Petersburg camps, not until he had moved to Saint Petersburg himself. The animosity between the two was palpable, although with Sports Champion’s chokehold on every single discipline within the figure skating sport, it was clear to see who was the victor between the two. 

When Mila had explained it to him, Yuuri couldn’t help but think it was like one of those American high school films. Apparently, the Imperskiy Sports Palace of Moscow had been the skating rink in Russia for decades. And then Yakov had taken over Sports Champions Club in 1979 and the rest was history. 

Yuuri takes a deep breath to stop the laughter from bubbling out - Viktor’s coach would be seething if he saw how well Smirnov was doing. 

He was an alright skater, but in the highly competitive field of figure skating within Russia? He might as well be a nobody. 

Without the backing and fame of Yakov Feltsman and the Sports Champions Club, (who themselves had produced at least six world champions across all disciplines within the past decade), the Moscow rink was nothing compared to the brilliance of Yakov’s coaching. 

Well, even if Viktor’s coach doesn’t know him, Yuuri will do him a favour.  

Even if Yakov doesn’t even know who the hell Yuuri is, he would still do this for his old friend (because they had come to some kind of familial acceptance - after all, he did walk Viktor down the aisle, even if it was begrudgingly). 

Yuuri lifts up from his spot, just in time to see the American skater finish his lackluster performance and for Smirnov to leave for the rink. Now, there was only one more skater left. 

Michele Crispino. 

Yuuri will be honest, he wasn’t (and doesn’t really want to be) close with Michele. He was a good skater, at the moment he was still stuck chasing after his sister’s shadow, but Yuuri knew that after a few years of competing in seniors, Michele would blossom into his own. If he didn’t stop being so over-protective over Sara.

Yuuri shudders at the thought - poor Sara had done everything in her power to evade Michele, to the point that she had used Yuuri as a buffer. He hopes that in this timeline, he can evade Michele’s lecture about staying away from his twin sister. 

Well, it also wouldn’t be a bad thing for Yuuri to actually talk to him. If he’s being honest, he sort of misses Sara. Even if the whole world only sees Michele as Sara’s guard dog, Yuuri knows that it’s actually Sara who you don’t want on your bad side. 

No matter how much she hates how overprotective her brother is, if you said anything bad about him? You’d find yourself waking up to dog shit smeared over your pillowcase. 

Yuuri should know - she somehow conned him into helping her slash someone’s tires once. 

So Yuuri sighs heavily, crosses his legs underneath him so that his back straightens and he can look around the room.  It’s far more empty now, with the Russian camp leaving to perform, with only Yuuri and Michele’s own groups left behind. 

There would be no time to speak, and if he’s being honest, most skaters have their own pre-performance routine. To interrupt him would be tantamount to sabotage. 

Michele must be leaving soon, he realises. There is a small backstage area behind the rink curtains for skaters that will be about to perform. 

Yuuri takes off his glasses, folds the tips so that they cross alongside each other like legs. He winces at the sudden shift of his sight, filled with blurry shapes. Minako is a figure of blobbed colours, but she’s close enough for him to recognise, so he hands his glasses to her for safe-keeping. 

A competition official walks into the warm-up room, shouldered in a white sports jacket that clearly says ‘Staff’ on the back. There is a microphone and headset attached to his head, and he talks into a walkie-talkie quietly, the backfeed sounding like a monstrous screech. The man simply responds back, and Yuuri wonders how he was able to even understand him. 

Yuuri watches as there is stir from the other camp although Yuuri cannot see them properly. He turns towards them as they leave, bows as politely as he could but then remembers that they’re not Asian. Instead, he sends what he hopes is a soft, non-threatening smile. 

There is a sharp inhale, and then Michele starts to turn red. He grabs his things and storms out. His team seem to gape, but they do not do anything to stop Michele, instead running after him. Yuuri stares as the door slams shut behind them. 

“D-did I do something wrong?”

Minako’s blurry figure just shakes her head. “Let’s focus on your own routine.” Her voice sounds muffled, like she’s trying to bury herself further into her shirt. It sounds suspiciously like laughter.  

Yuuri chooses to not think about it, and instead stands up and starts to jog around the room. 

“What’s the ranking so far?”

“Carpenter’s in the lead, although it’ll probably change after Crispino performs.”

“So Smirnov didn’t do well?”

“He fell on two jumps, and his spins were downgraded.”

The man from earlier returns to the room, and nods towards Minako. Yuuri stops his running to stand in front of his teacher. She rises from her seat, resting her hands on his shoulders. They both take a deep breath together. 

“You ready to face the music, kid?”

Yuuri closes his eyes. When he opens them, his eyes are like obsidians, like the volcanic glass that surrounds the rocks underneath Hasetsu’s springs. They’re dark, threatening, focused . He nods once. 

The walk to the backstage of the rink is silent, with the official walking a few steps in front of him. Yuuri lifts his arms up in a windmill stretch, far behind Minako to make sure he doesn’t accidentally hit his coach. His arms are loose, and he closes his eyes. 

The nerves will never leave him. Yuuri knows it intimately, can feel them spread through his body and settle within each of his joints and bones. But they do not freeze him in his tracks. No, instead they are achingly familiar. Yuuri is excited. 

He has been in this position many times before, the leader of the pack with hungry dogs yapping at his heels. He can’t look behind him, for fear of falling to the ground. Yuuri had given himself a huge cushion, even if he did make mistakes, Yuuri was still ahead by almost twenty points. 

Yuuri knows that he is his own worst enemy, that he overthinks to the point that his brain overheats. But this insight, this knowledge of who he truly is inside of this young body, welcomes the nervous energy into his body. 

He will take his future self as inspiration, a mountained god up atop his laurels of medals, and think that this way, he will somehow come closer than ever to getting Viktor’s attention once again. 

He may not be the unbeknownst heartbreaker who was once able to capture Viktor’s heart in a single night in this timeline, but in this world, he will be the consort to Viktor’s reign. 

He will drag his body through the ranks, will distort and warp his bones until they are unrecognisable, filled with the burn and pain of every aching stretch along the ice. If Viktor had sold his soul to the devil for the ice, Yuuri would give his wings to reach him. 

Viktor will not have to be on the top alone . All he had to do was wait for him to come up. 

 

*** 

 

Yuuri can feel the energy of the crowd, the instant hush as he pushes past the curtains from the backstage and walks alongside Minako along the rink. 

The stands are filled with people clamouring to catch a glimpse of Yuuri, whose face has hardened in focus. There is a camera following him as he walks towards the rink barrier. Across from him, he can see Michele exit the rink and walk towards the Kiss&Cry. 

The official nods towards him, opening the gate and Yuuri holds himself up by the barrier, slipping off his skate guards and handing them over to Minako without a word. He pulls off his Team Japan jacket, as dark as his eyes, and hands this over also. He feels horribly exposed, swathed in pink tulle that flows around his body delicately. 

He glides out onto the rink, turning immediately back towards his coach even as the staff member closes the rink, isolating Yuuri from his teacher. This was as far as Minako could take him. 

The is a smattering of applause, with the announcer’s voice calling out Michele’s free program score - a healthy 132.9, enough to take him into the lead. It’s obvious that his team is shocked - Italy had not had a good men’s skater in years. If Michele wins, it would be their first Junior title in decades. It would be the same case for Japan, if Yuuri wins instead. 

He takes a deep breath and sends a smile to Minako in what he hopes is assurance. She scoffs at him, instead holding her hands out for Yuuri to clasp. 

He grips them tightly in his palm, feeling the warmth of her hand spread up his arms and settle against his chest. 

They both take a deep breath, and Yuuri closes his eyes, jumps up with their hands clasped together once, and then another time for good measure. 

The silence around the arena is palpable. He knows why there is a hush as he skates around the ice for his preliminary one-minute warm up. The stands are filled, a far cry from the empty seats of yesterday. They weren’t here for him, even if the cheers they gave him were the loudest. 

No - it was Viktor who they were here for. 

There would always be records to beat, even ones that seem unbeatable for over four years. But to beat a Nikiforov record, that was different. That meant you were different. 

Viktor was untouchable during his entire athletic career - his junior records just added to the myth. And Yuuri had strolled up and completely decimated it. 

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the fact that Yuuri broke the world record that was mystifying but the fact that Yuuri had broken Viktor’s record. 

“On the ice, representing Japan, Yuuri Katsuki! ” The tannoy announces, and there is a thunderous applause from the arena. Yuuri holds his arms up greeting, making his way towards the middle of the rink. 

“In first place after the short program, Japan’s Yuuri Katsuki. His music is Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin, the Prelude.”

The strings of the harp echo through the rink and Yuuri opens his eyes to the castle in Hasetsu, amongst the golden sunset of pink and blue. It’s the beginning of a fairytale, a romance that exposes his soul. 

Yuuri closes his eyes, hands clasped together as he extends his body into a tight arc of emotion. He pulls every lesson that Minako had taught him, brings forward his position as a danser to reach towards the audience, making every turn of his body combine with the lift of music. It fills the silence, and he holds the audience’s attention, drawing them deeper into the story of Lohengrin. 

The first jump, Yuuri thinks to himself clinically, a triple loop. Minako jumps from her place at the stands, hands clasped together as he lands it cleanly. Better than I thought

“The first jump is a success! In this free skate, Katsuki Yuuri is planning to do most of his combination jumps at the end of his program.” 

He turns into a few connecting steps, three twizzle spins on a single foot with his arms reaching above his head as he builds up speed. He spreads his knees out, reaching back with right foot to dig into the ice as his body leaps in the air behind him. He lands with a steady, elongated exit, with his free leg gliding smoothly. 

“A triple flip out of connecting steps! You can never tell that a jump is coming with this skater.” 

The landing was good on that one. Now, for the spins. 

Yuuri tucks himself into a ball, spinning on one foot as he crouches into a sit sin, his thighs burning. His arms are extended around him, curling around so that the fabric of his sleeves bilow out like wings. 

He changes his entry foot into a new spin, building up speed as the music starts to swell. As the drama of the music rises with each pulse of the trumpets and flutes, he pulls one of his legs behind his back in an arc of a teardrop, with his free arm extended up towards the sky, every extension of his finger attuned with the rest of his body. 

“Combination spin, from a layback into a teardrop. The flexibility required for that is tremendous.” 

He pushes himself forward, a hand reaching towards one side of the rink as he sees the faces of the people listening to him. He calls out to them, eyes dripping in melancholic want

Yuuri watches as their bodies lift in a gasp, hands curling to cover their mouths when they watch him. He turns away fast, legs unrolling into a spread eagle, arms curving as he picks up speed. 

There is a clamour, and then screaming, the painful sound of hands slamming against their psalm as he throws himself into his signature triple axel entry. They do not know how to react, how to even believe what their eyes are telling them. 

It should be difficult, but Yuuri threads everything into a simple, graceful beauty - it does not look hard . It looks effortless.  

His arms wind around his body, coiling in a spiral of movement as he enters his step sequence. 

He mimics the aches of the character’s sorrow and happiness, of a bard telling his story of knights and castles and a time of chivalric romance. Yuuri had never held any affection for Lohengrin.  Not until now, when he finds himself in the shoes of the titular character. 

Like the godly knight of Arthurian fame, Yuuri is cursed to keep a secret to himself, to suffer alone even as he reaches out towards the one he loves. Somehow, Yuuri hopes that Viktor will recognise this performance, to watch him as he calls out for him, a love that he cannot say out loud.

“Step sequence. We are now into the second half, all jumps after this point will have a ten percent bonus.”

This is it , Yuuri thinks as the music swells. It’s going to get difficult. Yuuri begins to smile. The music settles, and then he explodes

“Triple salchow, euler, triple flip! How incredible! In the second half of his program, Katsuki lands a three-jump combination as flawlessly as if this was the beginning of his program. There is no sign of fatigue, such incredible landings on each jump.” 

The triple axel combination is next , he thinks, taking a deep breath as he begins to follow the music’s lead and triumphantly lands his jump. 

The crowd gears up, with every stroke of his skates, he feels their energy build. They are here with him, living every moment. He lands his triple lutz without even realising it. 

“The last jump, a triple flip combination.”

Viktor . Yuuri calls out. I am here .

Chapter Text

Location: Capital Gymnasium Arena, Beijing, China 

[PHOTO: A photograph, obviously taken from behind the boards, of Yuuri Katsuki on the ice during the medal ceremony. He stands alone, facing towards the ice. The photo only shows the back of Yuuri’s body,  Yuuri’s back, highlighting the way the pink costume contrasts brightly against the pale, white ice, focusing on the beautiful pearl detailing of his costume.]   

minako-okukawa  

あなたが最も困難な状況を克服するのを見ると、私は自分自身をあなたの先生と呼ぶことを誇りに思います。偉大さだけが続きます。おめでとう、私の最も愛する学生。

#チャンピオン #カツキユウリ  #GPFBeijing #JuniorChampion

[Watching you overcome the hardest situations makes me proud to call myself your teacher. Only greatness will follow. Congratulations, my most beloved student. #Champion #KatsukiYuuri #GPFBeijing #JuniorChampion]

liked by mari-k , Nishi-yuu , m-hisashi , b-lilia and 10,212 others 

view all 212 comments 

*** 

Day 2 of the Grand Prix Final, 

Capital Gymnasium Arena, 

Beijing, China

 

“There’s no escaping it this time, kid.” Minako frets with Yuuri’s hair, making sure it’s properly swept past his forehead so that his forehead is exposed. 

He looks strange with his glasses on, not bad but just different- like her two Yuuri’s have somehow combined. It's a good look, Minako decides, but she still steals his glasses away, pocketing them so they’re safe in her jacket. “All you have to do is look at the cameras and smile. Pretend you don’t know any English and just mumble out the same repeated words.”

“But I do know English.”

“But they won’t know that.” 

Yuuri steels his nerves, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. “It’s not like there’s going to be that many reporters, right?”

“Exactly. It’s Juniors.”

“Right.” Minako gives him the thumbs up, before they both leave the make-shift, waiting room/ dressing room set up for the medalists - because that’s what Yuuri is, a victor , the overall Junior Grand Prix Champion. 

Minako and Yuuri are not alone in the room either - Miyamoto is talking furiously into her phone, evidently just as shocked as the world that Yuuri broke Viktor’s short program record, let alone that he won the title. The Japanese media must be blowing up the JSF’s phone for missing out, and Miyamoto has to deal with the brunt of it. 

Like everyone else thought, Juniors were supposed to be easy . They had not put a seasoned official on the team to sort out the press relations and now Miyamoto had to suffer the consequences. 

She realises that Yuuri and Minako must be watching her, as her face looks up suddenly. Yuuri winces when her face twists, as if she’s about to break out into tears,  and Minako takes pity, walking towards the young JSF official and grabbing the phone out of her hand. 

Yuuri leaves the room for the hallway as quickly as possible. 

Whilst it’s mostly amusing to watch Minako rip into men who think that shouting means they can have their way, Yuuri’s earbuds could use the rest. 

Suddenly, someone grabs Yuuri from behind, lifting his arm up so they can wiggle underneath it, gluing themselves into his side. Yuuri gapes, blurry eyes trying to figure out who the small figure is cozying up to his side.

He gasps in realisation. “Sara!” 

Her hair is loose around her shoulders and she looks infinitely more younger than Yuuri could believe, face rounded like little chipmunk cheeks filled with acorns. “I see you haven’t forgotten who I am.” 

“I-what… erm hi?”

“Hi? That’s all you can say after breaking my heart?”

There is a sharp cry and Yuuri can feel beady little eyes burning into the back of his head. 

He doesn’t have to turn around to know that Michele Crispino would storm towards them if he was allowed. Thankfully, his team have yet to see Yuuri and Sara together, instead focusing on pushing Michele further down the hallway for his own interviews despite him screeching bloody murder.  

Yuuri looks frantically towards Sara, lips pursed. “Your brother is going to kill me when he gets back. How did you get backstage?”

“I am competing later, Yuuri. Besides, I came to see my precious brother.” She rolls her eyes, before quickly lifting a hand up to yank Yuuri’s ear, hard . “I can’t believe you kept in contact with Giacometti and not me .” 

“Ow, ow, ow- Sara!”  

“You deserve it! Do you know how much I’ve had to suffer because Giacometti was bragging all season about how the two of you text and Skype all the time- I hate you!”

“That’s a lie. You tolerate me better than others.” 

Sara scowls, although her lips are twitching slightly. “That’s because other male skaters are pretentious at best, and downright vulgar at worst. Plus, it helps that you’re the only one who doesn’t flirt with me.” 

“Because you’re a lesbian?” Yuuri tilts his head to the side, looking adorably like a confused little puppy, enough for Sara to want to reach up and pinch his cheeks. Of course Yuuri would be so sweet as to actually take Sara’s preference into consideration. 

“That’s never stopped anyone before.” So sweet - Sara had forgotten how polite Yuuri actually was. Most didn’t care when Sara told them that she wasn’t interested, continuing to aggravate her by their incessant flirting - it’s why she never stopped Michele’s ridiculous over-protection. 

That being said, it was incredibly strange when the one skater who never talked to anyone, who was known as the coldest, anti-social athlete that stayed on the fringes of the social behavioural zoo that is the figure skating community, armed with narrowed eyes that could freeze a man in his tracks, took Sara’s words for what they were and never attempted to make her feel uncomfortable. Katsuki had believed Sara from the moment she opened her mouth. 

At first, she was glad. 

There was at least someone sensible enough to keep their distance. 

But soon, as more and more people started to overwhelm her with the attention, she kind of craved Yuuri’s silent presence, never pushing for anything more than being acquaintances, sending each other nods of acknowledgements or waves from afar. 

Which is why she’s sort of not lying - she may be acting dramatic, but she is jealous that Christophe was able to melt the icy exterior of Yuuri Katsuki when she couldn’t. 

Christophe, as prone to exaggeration as he is, could not make up every tale of Yuuri staying up past midnight in his timezone just to help him figure out a transitional element or that the two had made a rapport of sending each other pictures and videos of their cute pets. (Sara wanted to be part of the pet group chat! Nemo, with his little flappers and broken fin, would be a wonderful addition!) 

When Sara had asked how Christophe , of all people, become friends with Katsuki, he had only one thing to say: 

Yuuri’s really, really shy, but he’s also polite as hell - you’ve just got to be fucking shameless. Go up to him and act like you’re already best friends. If you pretend to be familiar with him, he’ll be too sweet to ignore you, and by the time he grows a backbone to tell you to fuck off, you’re already the best of friends.” 

So Sara had armed herself with Christophe’s knowledge and haggled Yuuri’s attention as soon as she had seen him backstage. If it all imploded in her face, she can at least say she tried. She’d make Katsuki her friend even if it killed her.  

Sara must’ve been quiet for too long, because Katsuki starts to ramble, stammering in an adorable bubble of embarrassment.  “Erm, since we’re on the topic of sexual orientation- why the does Michele not know you’re a lesbian - it would stop him from, you know, not wanting to kill me everytime I’m around you.” 

She laughs loudly. “Mickey thinks everyone falls in love with me, which he’s not wrong about but-” She digs her elbow into Yuuri’s side when he snorts. Huh, so Christophe was right - he does have a sense of humour. “If Mickey knew I liked girls I’d never be able to compete in singles. He barely leaves me alone now, if he finds out I’m almost exclusively attracted to women? I’ll never be left alone. How am I going to get a cute girlfriend then? You sir, are the perfect target for Mickey to focus on.”

Yuuri rolls his eyes. “Yeah, for target practice .”

“Oh hush, besides, he doesn’t know that you’re into guys. Otherwise we would be having a very different conversation.” 

“I’m into one specific guy.” he says, defending himself. Yuuri does not want to think about Sara’s scheming face, so he lets the thoughts enter his brain like water, slipping out within the second like little rivulets in a lake. 

“I know, I know!” Sara shakes her hands in front of her, rolling her eyes. “You’re Viktor- sexual - no idea why, but each to their own. It was established like two years ago when Chris accidentally got you drunk and you talked about his hair for two hours straight.” Her face scrunches up, as if it physically pains her to be reminded of the memory. 

Yuuri, because he was drunk , does not remember this happening but he knows his drunk-self enough to trust her version of events. “Well, he does have-”

“We are not getting side-tracked by Viktor’s hair again . We’re going to have a conversation about how throughout Juniors you were ‘Mr-Unapproachable’ and then I have to hear from Giacometti - of all people Yuuri, Giacometti? - that you’re suddenly the greatest person to be friends with.” 

“Aww, Chris actually said that?” Yuuri flinches at the glare Sara sends him. “Erm, sorry?”

“Sorry? I’m so jealous!” Sara cries. “You never talked to me like that! What’s so good about Giacometti? Is it because he’s got a dick - that’s gender discrimination-”  Her fingers claw into Yuuri’s bicep, but there is no heat in the movement. 

There is, however, a sharp intake of breath behind them, and then Sara is wretched out of Yuuri’s space.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing with my sister, Katsuki?!”

“Oh, fuck off, Mickey! I can be friends with whoever I want-”

“Not with him !” He screeches, face turning red as he stabs a pointed finger at Yuuri. “He’s a depraved demon , Sara! You must stay away from him!” 

“You’re being ridiculous. Yuuri is the absolute sweetest! He’s even made friends with Giacometti-”

If anything, dropping Christophe’s name makes Yuuri look worse in Michele’s eyes. He sputters and says that’s proof that Yuuri is a “horrible, debauched rake” - his words, not Yuuri’s - and the two devolve into a shouting match. Yuuri feels very uncomfortable with the energy in this hallway. 

There are two options he can take. 

Option 1: Stay here where Mickey might murder hiim. 

Option 2: Walk back into the shitstorm of the waiting room where Minako is murdering someone else via telecommunications. 

Since he’s not going to be murdered in the Minako situation - his eardrums may burst, but it’s a small sacrifice for survival - he silently turns on the balls of his feet and runs for the hills. 

Evidently, there was a third option. 

A woman with a headset is briskly walking through the hallway, popping into different rooms. Every time she walks into the room and returns back to the hallway, her shoulders sag in defeat. Her radio screeches to life, and she jumps, grappling it with her hand and speaking into it with a tone of fear. 

From here, Yuuri can see her wearing the staff jacket, a fleece decorated in bright yellow with streaks of red running through it. There is an embroidered ‘STAFF’ on each side of her sleeve in dark black, a contrast to the brightness of her jacket.

Whilst Yuuri cannot understand the Mandarin being screeched, he does recognise the word ’Katsuki’. 

“Is everything alright?” He calls out to her. The woman jolts. Her eyes widen at the sight of him, and she starts rapidly talking into the radio, although some of the stress from her shoulder seems to have lifted. 

“Katsuki! Oh, I’ve been searching for you- your coach said you left for a walk?”

“I needed a little air.”

She pockets her radio, and the stress from her shoulder evaporates. “I’m sorry for the rudeness, but would it be okay if we walk back to your waiting room? There are some things we need to talk with your coach about.”

“Is something wrong?”

“No, no.” She shaves her head frantically. “Erm, there seems to have been some miscommunication between the ISU and the organisers of the event. Were you told that Junior champions have a performance slot at the gala?”

“What?” The woman winces. 

“I thought only seniors were supposed to compete, all the competitors from the competition have a slot.”

“You are right - the original plan was that all senior competitors would perform at the gala, but then the ISU requested that Junior champions of each discipline would also get a small slot during the event, as a reward for winning. It seems that the request had gotten lost amongst the bustle of trying to combine the senior and junior schedule. Will you be able to perform?” 

“I- yes, I’d be happy to, but what should I perform?”

“Most will do their short program, but if there’s a chance you have a different piece, it would be best to show something fresh.” 

“I have the gala piece I was planning for Worlds, but I haven’t perfo-” 

“Perfect!” The official cuts Yuuri off, sighing in relief. “Because it was so last minute, everyone chose to do their short program or a performance from last season- which is completely fine!” She scratches the side of her face, biting her lower lip. “But between me and you, if everyone does the same, then the ISU will know how much we’ve fucked up. Is there any way you and your coach can keep it on the down-lo? There’ll be a gala practice on the 16th that you’ll be obliged to attend.”

“That’s fine. We have tickets for the gala, so we’d have stuck around till then anyway. I have the sound file with me, can I send it by email?”

“Please! If you follow me, we can go to the sound technicians right now and then I can escort you to the press room after.” 

Yuuri grimaces at the thought of interviews but he nods anyway, following the woman further through the layers of Capital Gymnasium Arena. 

*** 

Viktor pulls his cap further down his head so that it sinks and covers his forehead. Dressed in all-black, the complete opposite of his aesthetic, he slinkers through the backstage area of Capital Arena. 

So maybe he looks a little shady, but he does what he has to do. If someone questioned what he was doing, he had his ID in his back pocket. Even then, all he’d have to do was show his face and he’d be free to roam around anywhere. 

After somehow slipping away from Yakov’s all-knowing presence, Viktor had discarded his national jacket - the red, whilst so his colour, was a little eye-catching, especially on a 180cm Russian with long, silver hair - in his gym bag, leaving him decked out in only his athletic wear. 

The black was a bit of a change, since he almost always was found in grey sweatpants, but Viktor knew he had to look as un -Viktor-like as possible. If he wanted to succeed, he had to be incognito. It would all fall to pieces if Yakov even sniffed that something was amiss - fingers crossed Natalia was able to keep him and Leonid under control. 

(“No.” Yakov didn’t even contemplate it for a second.  

“What- but I have to!” 

“No you don’t.” His coach had stood up from his seat, making his way towards Viktor’s hotel door. “There will be uploads on YouTube later that you can watch.”

“But watching through a screen is completely different from watching it live!”  Yakov didn’t even bat an eyelash when Viktor threw himself back, sprawled out like a starfish, and started to throw a tantrum.

“You are not going to watch the Japanese skater’s free program when exactly three hours later you’ll be competing. That is final.”)

So of course, Viktor had to sneak out. His short program was in a few hours. He really should be warming up, but in his defence, if he had to force himself to focus without having watched the Japanese skater, he’d be the definition of distracted. Sneaking out to go watch Katsuki skate was imperative to Viktor winning the Grand Prix Final. It was a scientific fact.  

And in the end, Yuuri Katsuki had been worth it. 

There was no way for Viktor to get good seats; it seemed like everyone and their baba were up in the stands watching. It had been almost impossible to go near the boards without someone realising he was there, so he stayed around loitering near the exit. He had never seen a Junior event so packed to the brim, but well, he’d never seen a skater like Katsuki in Juniors before either.  

When he was sixteen, and Maxim and Artyom had been the big Russian greats, walls of gigantic proportions, Viktor had felt the thrill, had been the best of the best, because he had to compete with those people who were better than him. And then he had beaten them. Over and over again. The heat of competition had been missing from Viktor for so long, cooling into a blase ice court with Viktor as its ruler. Yes, he still had so many things he wanted to achieve, the Olympics were only around the corner, but to win without a shadow of a doubt? That was boring

Viktor wants to be the undisputed king - to do that, he needs challengers.  

After so many better and older skaters had retired from skating since Quebec, Viktor had felt like he was the only person left in the race, hurtling towards the sun with his wax-laded wings, nobody at his side as he burned to the sea. 

And then he saw Katsuki, swathed in wings of cherry blossoms, floated towards him with extensions of elegance and grace. If he was a senior, he would be high amongst the clouds with Viktor. He would be there

Yakov had only mentioned the skater’s technical ability. Katsuki had gotten somewhere in the 30s for his component during the short and whilst performing was hard to learn, it was normal for Junior skaters to have that sort of PCS score. There was no other training that could help him. Maturity would come slowly and surely. 

It was his technicality that everyone was focused on - if he had the technical skills already, he would have more sway in the judges’ eyes. After all, even if competitions were supposed to be seen independent of each other, judges were human and consistency paid. 

That was what Viktor had expected to see - a diamond in the rough, technical skills that would tide him over until he gained the experience to be able to properly emote. Once he entered seniors, he would be able to work on them better. 

Perhaps, Viktor had even hoped that he would see a younger version of himself starting back from the ice - cold, alone in his genius, a figure carved out in ice. 

And then Katsuki had shoved those thoughts down Viktor’s throat so that he could eat his words.

He was nothing like he thought - bright and warm , the junior skater had something even Viktor himself could never touch. He skated like he was alive

Joy seeped out from every arch of his back, in every extension of his arms and the twizzles of his steps. His love for the sport was in every movement he made. Skating was a language that Viktor thought he alone was fluent, but to see another skater speak out, and scream out the words - ‘Isn’t skating fun ! - ? It made his heart leap

No-one had ever made him feel that way about skating, not even himself. 

Viktor had broken out into a crawling laughter watching Katsuki perform his free, silenced by the screams of the audience. His stomach had painfully constricted in disbelief, fear and elation. 

This skater, this no-name, second-rate figure skater from Japan had come and done the impossible. He made Viktor breathless. 

Viktor had hugely underestimated him. Yakov had underestimated him. And still everyone was right. Katsuki could wipe every senior skater with a single, perfectly executed triple toe-loop and be done with it. 

There were no words that could describe it. No matter how many synonyms he looked up, nothing could come close to describing how Katsuki skates - no word probably ever could. Beauty was subjective, but everyone in that rink knew that Katsuki skated ethereally. 

For so long, Viktor had been alone in his world. 

Like Sisyphus himself, each competition had been akin to climbing an uphill battle, rolling a boulder only for it to push him back down with the immense weight of expectation, and if he simply stopped moving, it would roll down the hill, with Viktor pinned underneath it. 

Watching Katsuki skate though, god , watching Katsuki skate - it was as if the very moment his body became taut with exhaustion, the moment when he ached to stop, there was a warm hand planted on his back, sturdy and stable, holding him steady so that he could look up to the mountain and see what exactly he was aiming for. 

The summit was right there , and it was Katsuki who came out of nowhere, reminding him to keep pushing. Now, if only he could talk to him. 

Viktor doesn’t even know what Katsuki looks like up close. He had been able to sneak near the top of the auditorium, high up enough to see the curve of Katsuki painting a story with his body on the ice, but not close enough to see what he actually looked like. 

There had been too many people, enough so that he hadn’t been able to catch an actual glimpse of Katsuki on the televised screen. There was always the fear that Viktor would somehow be recognised, so he had stayed near the back, body prepared to flee if someone so much as looked his way. 

Luckily, no one had been paying attention to him - for once, he was grateful - but it had also meant that Viktor had never gotten a clear look at the kid. All he had seen was a blur of pink on the ice, contrasted with ebony-black hair and skin kissed to a golden hue. 

He really needed to put a face to the skater, otherwise Viktor’s mind would concoct a whole image of him, and then he’d be utterly disappointed when he actually met him. 

It shouldn’t be too hard. Despite being in China, Katsuki was one of the only Asian male figure skaters at the Grand Prix. If he looked for the pitch-black Japanese sports jacket, he’d be 70% sure it could be Katsuki. 

He’d only just turned eighteen, so Viktor is expecting a pubescent, spotty-cheeked kid who looks like he’s on top of the world after just getting a taste of victory. 

(Okay, so maybe he’s projecting - Viktor had to suffer through a four-step skincare routine just so his face wouldn’t look like he’d been prodded with needles with how fast he broke out in red boils. He hates being both sweaty and oily -  it did not make for a pleasant Olympic moment when he looked lke a fucking cyclops up on the podium. Lilia had come to the rescue, as she always does, with her matching skin-tints and concealer, and no-one was the wiser.) 

The point is, Viktor already has an image of Katsuki in his head. 

Maybe he’d bring the kid under his wings, anyone who becomes a pain in the ass for Amelin is automatically in his good graces. He might even be a cute teenager, all chubby-cheeks and wide eyes, like Milia! Ugh, kids are so adorable-

Oh. 

Oh. 

A figure is walking down the hallway, towards Viktor. 

His back is straight, taut like an arrow, and is something he knows Lilia would kill Viktor to have, like a ballerina who floats with every movement. 

His thighs are clad in skin-tight, black sports pants, and Viktor can see the sliver of skin between where his shoe stops at his ankle and where his leggings end. It’s golden, and Viktor feels like an old, stuffy Victorian pervert who’s mouth dried up at the sight of some exposed ankles. 

It’s not because he’s on the ice - Katsuki just moves in that way, like he’s walking on air. 

Every turn of his body is light. He delicately slows down his steps so that the lady beside him is able to keep up, but it’s the manner in which he does it, the curve of his body that has Viktor’s mouth drop open. Katsuki is not a kid. 

All of a sudden, the rumours he heard from Mila about Yuri’s idol flood into his mind: 

“Katsuki’s kind of stand-offish, he’s always got narrowed eyes, like if you get too close, he’ll shoot lasers out of them. It’s kind of intimidating, but it’s why Yura likes him so much.”  

Intimidating doesn’t even cover it. Viktor can’t do this - not when Katsuki looks like that - like he’s been carved by the god’s himself. If Viktor looks too close, he knows that his mortal eyes will melt out their sockets. 

His feet move without him thinking, and he finds himself plastered against the wall, gripping the visor of his cap over his eyes so tightly to cover his face. Viktor can’t meet Katsuki looking like this. His hair is stuffed in the back of his shirt, he’s not wearing any mascara or eyeliner so his lashes look non-existent and he’s wearing a sweatshirt with holes in them! 

He can feel his breath pausing, and despite all of his sudden pain, he hopes that Katsuki will somehow make the first move, recognizing him from afar. Would it be too much for Viktor to trip up and fall into his arms?

Katsuki’s walking closer and Viktor’s mouth turns even dryer. His hair is pushed back, revealing a beautifully creamy forehead, void of any imperfections. 

Katsuki raises his head and catches Viktor’s eyes. His eyes are narrowed just like Mila told him about, but instead of finding them intimidating, all Viktor could think about was how dark they were. Ringed around by long eyelashes and framed by two, thick eyebrows, Katsuki is mouthwatering. He wants Katsuki to look at him like that, completely focused on only him, maybe whilst he’s pushing Viktor against- 

Katsuki turns back towards the staff member, walking straight past him. 

He didn’t even spare Viktor a glance. 

*** 

Yu-Topia Katsuki Hot Springs

Hasetsu, Japan

 

“How much longer until the press conference starts, Hiroko?” 

“A few minutes!” Toshiya's voice comes out to answer instead, placing down trays and trays of katsudon and sashimi. “Mari, can you turn up the speaker please, Yuuri-kun will be on soon!” 

Mari stumbles through the huge rows of customers sitting inside the Yu-Topia Katsuki banquet hall, placing down huge pints of beer for everyone. 

There has never been a day when Yu-Topia Katsuki has been so busy - but then rumours had spread about Mari’s parents throwing a streaming party for Yuuri’s competition and then the whole town descended upon the small inn. 

Far exceeding what should be maximum capacity, and surely was a breach of fire safety, Yu-Topia Katsuki was overrun with people clamouring to watch the wide television that showed their hometown hero performing internationally. The Katsuki family had been overwhelmed. 

Yuuko and Takeshi had soon commadered the reception, Yuuko melting into the hostess role perfectly while Takeshi was steaming away in the kitchen. Koushi and Ichika, Takeshi’s parents, also came along with their help, Ichika spending all her time making multiple pots of rice for the katsudon whilst Koushi was forced to keep the triplets entertained. 

It was a stressful day, but nothing could stop the ache of Hiroko’s cheeks from the wide smile stuck on her face as she walked through the room, buzzing after seeing Yuuri’s winning performance. Her baby , he did so well! He was the Junior Grand Prix Champion! 

She accepted all the congratulations shouted towards her, bowing in appreciation. The chatter of the room started to bounce across the walls, and Hiroko could hear snatches of conversation all around her. 

“Can you believe Yuuri-kun did so well? Breaking the world record!”

“I know! And he was so close to breaking the free program world record too - what was it that he got?”

“159.4! How much did second place get?”

“I think in the 130s? Yuuri-kun was about 26 points clear of him!”

“He’s doing so well! After his coaching issue, I was sure he’d give up - but look at him now! Maybe Minako should switch to coaching full-time haha!” 

“Do you think she’ll train my kids up? I know a lot of them want to start skating again after watching Yuuri at Nationals.” 

“Minako-senpai only coaches Yuuri as a favour.” Hiroko cuts into the conversation, her face spread in a cheerful, approachable grin. “Yuuri-kun does a lot of the work himself.”

“She’s right!” Someone guffaws by the side. It’s an elder of the town - Saito-san. He has his two granddaughters, Sakura and Haru, clinging around his shoulders. His daughter, Hina, was somewhere behind the bar, drafting beers to help ease the stress on Mari’s shoulders during service.

Saito claps the patron’s shoulder. “I came around the other week to give Hiroko-chan some of my son-in-law's eggs - he cares for some of the most vivacious of chickens, I tell you! Anyway, there I was, entering into the hall with bird poop on my sleeve and a crater full of fresh eggs, and I saw Yuuri -kun explaining to Minako what their game plan was going to be! He had a whiteboard and everything!” People laugh all around, and Hiroko joins in. 

“Of course, that’s not to say that Minako isn’t a good coach, just that she’s not a figure skating coach.” Saito takes a gulp of beer, pointing his finger back towards the original patron who had asked first, cheeks flushed red. 

“Perhaps we should start sending our kids back to her ballet studio, since it is her speciality. I know Kura-chan here has been begging to take classes, and Haru-chan wants to see if she can start skating again.” 

“Okukawa-san won that fancy award years ago, didn’t she?”

“The Benois de la Danse.” Hiroko points out. “It’s the greatest honor in the ballet world. She was the first Asian ballerina to be awarded the honour, if I remember correctly. Even now, there hasn’t been another Japanese ballerina to be awarded the same prestige.”

There are noises of awe spreading around those who can hear. Saito laughs loudly, slamming his hand on the table, obviously drunk but looking immensely proud. “Hasetsu ain’t so bad, is it?” 

Someone else shouts from across the room. “We raised two people recognised worldwide!” 

“Okukawa-sensei and Yuuri-kun are doing such a good job representing us!” 

“Our pride and joy!” 

“Speaking of our pride and joy.” Mari shouts loudly from the front, waving her hands to get everyone’s attention. She opens her mouth widely and screams, “The conference is starting!” 

There’s a huge bustle of energy, and people hush in anticipation. Toshiya, Takeshi and his mother immediately leave the kitchen and make their way towards some empty seats near the front. The triplets start crawling all over their father, and Yuuko swipes a quick drink of water, before making her way towards them. 

The whole town quietens as Mari twists the speaker knob till it reaches the highest level of sound. “Just a few more seconds of photos, and then we will  begin the press conference.”

“It’s starting!” 

“There he is! Yuuri-kun, well done!” 

“Oh, your son looks so handsome here, Hiroko!” 

With Michele Crispino on his left and the Canadian skater, Andrew Carpenter, on his right, Yuuri is at the epicenter of the fever-filled clamour of reporters shouting out his name. The inhabitants of Hasetsu each start to whoop, excited every time the camera pans towards Yuuri’s face.  

“Pfft.” Takeshi snorts into his mouth. “He looks like he’s about to cry.”

“Stop being so mean!” Yuuko digs her elbow into her husband’s side. 

He isn’t wrong though. To people who don’t know Yuuri, they’d think he was the vision of calm and collected, eyes narrowed in concentration. Only those who were close to him knew the reality - Yuuri was going to implode. 

There are at least ten flashes bursting across the screen sent from reporters and cameras in the room - ten ! At a junior event! . The sudden bursts of light causes Yuuko to blink rapidly, blobs of multi-color blindness festering at the back of her eyelids. 

She knows that Yuuri’s glasses would cause every photograph taken of him to be ruined - the flash against his lenses would flare out and make every photo unusable - but Yuuko also knows that look on Yuuri’s pinched face. He was dying to actually, you know, fucking see what was going on. 

“Can all cameras move towards the right side of the room, please? So that the reporters can come forward.” A voice echoes from the screen, and there is a flurry of movement on the television screen as the press conference begins. 

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. Welcome to the press conference for the Junior men Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. First of all, a huge congratulations to the three athletes on the podium, here in Beijing. It was amazing to see.” 

“Let’s start with some general questions. For Japan’s Yuuri Katsuki: you’ve finally reclaimed your championship title from three years ago after a shaky few years, with a new season’s bests and the new world record in the short program. What are your emotions like today?” 

“I-I’m just very grateful I was able to perform my programs well. I’m proud that I was able to have clean skates for both the short and the free, and I’m glad that my efforts were rewarded.” He somehow stammers out his response, and there is a moment of disconnection as everyone realises he’s speaking English. 

A few seconds later, there is a small translation at the bottom of the screen, and Mari shouts it out so the people at the back know what he said. Seconds after that, another voice repeats the translation, coming from the television. Apparently, NHK Sports had invested in a live-translator, and Mari blinks, her cheeks staining in embarrassment. 

“Yuuri-kun speaks English so well. I can’t even hear an accent!”

“His teacher was saying that recently Yuuri-kun has been paying extra attention in class! What kind of parenting does Hiroko and Toshiya do to have him as a son?”

“They must’ve saved a country in their past lives.”

The announcer quickly turns his attention to other skaters, whose answers the crowd barely comprehend. The room slowly starts to chatter away, not paying attention unless Yuuri is on the screen. 

A patron calls over Mari to fill up her pint glass, and Mari ends up having to fill the entire back tables. Her eyes are continuously drawn back to the screen, waiting for the moment that Yuuri would start to speak. 

“Now, we will turn to the reporters for some questions. Please state your name and organisation and then your question and who your question is for. Yes, you, the reporter at the front.”

“Mel Campbell, for Eurosport. This is a question for Katsuki.” The room straightens up, recognising Yuuri’s name and waiting for the translator to start to interpret the words. 

You have been credited as the main choreographer for both of your programs: the short, in which you broke the four-year held world record and the free program, where you changed the entire layout and choreographic sequences. What was your thought process in changing this?” There is a voice-over in Japanese, a typical male voice trying to quickly translate what the lady is saying. 

“Well, I didn’t really emote at all with my original short program. I knew I could do better and the piece was holding me back. I had a small accident a few months back, there was no injury but I was still recommended to rest. Because I wasn’t allowed to train, I was kind of going crazy. I found the piece of music for my short program whilst scrolling on my phone and from there it was just me messing around in my bedroom, being bored out of my mind. When I finally did get to go on the ice, there was no way I could go back to my original program. My new coach thought the same thing too.” 

“So you created the piece only a few months ago?” The incredulity in the reporter’s voice was conveyed to the people of Hasetsu without the need for a translator. They all laugh - of course Yuuri would make a world-breaking program within only a few months to spare. 

“Yes, I guess you could say that.” 

“Oh, look at his ears! Yuuri-kun is so red, ha!” 

“Then, could I talk to you about Lohengrin? The original program had a lower base value and very few transitional elements. This time however, you completely transformed the program, including back-counters into triple jumps as well as putting difficult triple-triple combinations at the end of the program, like having your last jump be a triple flip-triple toe. What caused you to change your program?” 

“To start with, we had to scrap the original program completely. I could talk about the technical reasons for why I made the layout of the program to be like this, but the reality is that it was all based around the music. I felt that those specific jumps worked best for the musical beats at that time. The original format did nothing for the music or the story.” 

“Because of my background in ballet, I brainstormed a lot with my coach, and we decided it would be best to start from the beginning. It was hard to remove the emotional baggage that came with the first rendition, but I found myself emoting more with the character of Lohengrin from the opera when I based the program in it’s literary premise. The idea of backlogging the jumps only came after I had created the step sequence and the choreographic sequence - it was purely an artistic choice that matched the music rather than a tool for earning points.” 

I- thank you for the comment.” The reporter stammers out. There is a stunned silence from both the television and the room. That was not the answer of an eighteen-year old Junior skater. 

“Yo, when did Yuuri get so smart?” Takeshi whispers to Yuuko. 

“I- I don’t-” Yuuko stammers, eyes wide as she watches Yuuri answer difficult questions, all in fluent English. “He- he’s been different recently, more mature.” 

“I guess it’s to be expected. He did choreograph the pieces himself.” Takeshi laughs loudly. “Look everyone, Yuuri-kun’s gotten over his fear of public speaking.” The crowd seems to break from Yuuri’s hypnotic presence, and suddenly there is an influx of clapping and whooping. 

“He’s grown so much!”

“Wow, Toshiya- your son is so well-spoken.”

“He’s so mature for his age, answering all of these difficult questions.” 

The conference continues, with questions being thrown towards the other skaters. Hiroko rises from her seat, filtering out of the kitchen to help refill drinks and other Hasetsu delicacies. Someone orders another round of sashimi, and so Toshiya rises to start cutting the piece of fish into thin slices, ready to be dipped into delicious sauce. 

Hiroko grabs a tea-towel that had been thread through the ties of her apron. She places a warm hand on top of Toshiya’s to stop him leaving the kitchen, lifting the towel to pat at her husband’s forehead where sweat had started to form. 

“Is this real, Toshiya?” She whispers, eyes welling up. 

Toshiya swallows the emotion that rises in his throat. He places the huge tray of sliced fish back on the kitchen counter, before wrapping his wife closely into an embrace. “It’s real.” 

“Toshiya, Hiroko! You better come quickly! Morooka’s on the scene and he’s only looking at Yuuri!”

“We’re coming!” He yells out. He turns back towards his wife, his smile stretching out like a crescent moon on a new day. “Let’s go see our son.”

Hisashi Morooka, NHK Sports. First of all, I just want to congratulate you, Yuuri-kun.”

“Thank you, Morooka-san. ” Yuuri bows from his seat, but his body seems to relax at the sight of a familiar face. “ Please feel free to speak in Japanese. I think I’ve used up all my English vocabulary today.”

“Haha, of course, then, if it isn’t a bother. At this year’s Grand Prix Final, you had, what I would call, two career-defining performances. Yesterday, during the short program, you set a new world record with 84.04 points. Then in the free program today, you scored 156.2 points, just shy of the world record by 1.12 points. You also broke the combined score by earning a total of 240.24, which is almost five points ahead of the previous world record which was also made four years ago by none other than Russia’s Nikiforov-senshu. It’s a number that we have not seen in years.” 

“All of those scores are in fact this season’s best scores. It’s a far cry from a few months ago, when you were struggling to even qualify for the event. What big changes did you implement in your training to cause such a huge increase in ability?”  

Yuuri pauses, as if wracking his brain to find the right words. “Rather than an increase of ability, I think it was a change of environment, and well, maybe a change in perspective. I had always been able to do these technical elements, but I... “  

He takes a deep sigh, as if resolving his nerves, before he opens his mouth to speak. 

“I’ve always been able to do those technical elements, like the triple axel or triple-triple combinations. I just was never in the right mind-frame to be able to do them in competition. There were personal things that affected me within the last few months, things went sour with my previous coaching staff, and then I had a minor accident where I was off the ice for two weeks before nationals. It came up in conversation that it might be best for me to skip the year and start again next season for seniors.”

Yuuri laughs lightly, almost absurdly. “But I didn’t want to leave Juniors on such a bad note. I come from a small town, it’s a little village-like area on the coast of Japan. It’s really small.” He squeezes his fingers together to emphasize his point and laughter emits from the screen by reporters and cameramans alike. 

It is silent inside Yu-Topia. 

“It was when things were going wrong that I realised how many people were really behind me.You know, my teachers would always help me when I was struggling to balance training and school, or the Oji-san from my corner-shop would always give me a free sports drink when I went by after practice. Just little things that reminded me that skating wasn’t for nothing, that there were people who actually liked my skating.” 

“My coach, she’s never taught figure skating before. She’s been my ballet teacher since I was three, she’s a huge name in her own right within the ballet world, but she took time out of her own life just so I could have someone I trusted wholeheartedly next to me. She stayed up until three in the morning for a whole month just learning everything she could about the sport. That’s how I’ve been creating this historic moment, because of all the love and support I’ve been given. It’s the main change that I’ve faced - my perspective has changed.” 

“My village raised me and this medal is in response to that. I hope that I can be a person that makes Hasetsu and Japan proud. I am a product of all of their love and support, and I hope that I’m able to convey that love and pride whenever I get to perform on the ice.” 

*** 

18:00

Day 2 of the Grand of Prix Figure Skating Final 

The Original Dance, Ice Dance (Seniors) 

Capital Gymnasium Arena, 

Beijing, Republic of China 

 

“The Original Dance segment of the Ice Dance competition will commence soon. Introducing your athletes for the Ice Dance segment of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. From Russia, Annika Kuznetsova and Michail Lebedey!” 

Screams surround Yuuri as Russian flags fill the arena. He looks down at the boards, lips twitching into a semblance of a smile when he watches Yakov, (Yuuri always has a vicsereal, bodily reaction whenever he sees Yakov sporting a full head of fucking hair ), putting the fear of God into his team until his face turns blue.

“Under the guidance of famed coaches, Yakov Feltsman and Kaitna Kozlova, they are two-time Russian National Champions and last year’s World Champions. They are looking to win their first ever Grand Prix Champion title today, here in Beijing.” 

Yuuri sighs, wondering how on earth Yakov had the stamina to be able to coach so many disciplines within one day - he was tired just thinking about it.  

Minako claps primly beside him, as they settle into their respective seats in the designated athlete’s area. There weren't many skaters watching the competition, most of course were too busy preparing for their own competition. 

“I’m upset that we missed the compulsory dance, what did they do this year?” 

“Viennese waltz or a tango, I think.”

Minako makes a sound that can only be categorised as a whine. “I missed them skating to a tango ? A travesty, Yuuri. A fucking travesty.” 

Yuuri snorts, filling his mouth with some of the arena snacks that Miyamoto had snuck him earlier. Apparently, becoming the Junior champion means that the JSF pays for the extortionate arena food court prices. He finishes his corn dog off with relish. 

“I’m still upset you didn’t get into ice dancing. You would’ve done so well, too.” 

“Of course, it’s not like I just broke a four-year world record.”

“I am tired of your sarcasm. Let me mourn for what might’ve been, child.” 

They turn back towards the warm-up rink, although Yuuri’s eyes are trained on David and Yumi going through a few of their skating steps. They must be trying to sync their movements up , Yuuri thinks, watching as they join their hands together, moving as one. 

“David and Yumi are a good pair.”

“Yeah, their synygy is good. I still think they should’ve done the tango instead of waltz.” 

“You’re completely right, Yuuri.” Minako pouts. “They have such good personalities and they work well together, they just need a better program. Hell, your gala piece could easily beat them-”

Yuuri slams a hand across Minako’s mouth. “Don’t talk about that.” Against the palm of his hand, Yuuri can feel Minako’s lips stretch out into a grin. He pulls his hand away with a heavy sigh. 

“We’re going to have to talk about it sometime, since you decided to perform it.”

“I panicked alright!”

“Well, you should’ve backtracked and chose to do your world-record breaking short program , you know, like everyone else did?” Minako raises an eyebrow, but her lips twist in mirth. “Don’t worry, it may not be as polished as you wanted it to be, since we were planning to perform it at Worlds, but If you forget anything, just improvise! You're good at that! Plus, you’re not putting any jumps in, so you won’t have to worry about hurting yourself to try and spice things up.” 

“Yeah, I still want to include the delayed axel at the end but it’s mostly just steps.” 

“You and your steps.” Minako pinches his cheeks, ignoring his yelp of protest. “It’s not helping your case against me turning you into an ice dancer, or better yet, coming back to ballet and becoming a danser once again!” 

“Sensei, nooo!” Yuuri cries, “Can you imagine me with a partner? I’d die”

“If it was Viktor you’d be singing a different tune-”

Stooooop .” Yuuri whines again.

“From Japan, David Yamaguchi and Yumi Kihara. They are two-time Japanese National Champions and last year’s Four Continents Champions. This is their second time qualifying for the Grand Prix Final. ”  Yuuri cringes as Minako’s screams ring in his ears. She waves a Japanese flag, a huge flag - he has no idea where she even found that, obnoxiously around. 

“You’re so embarrassing.”

“You will have to get used to it. When you go to seniors, I will 100% be at every single one of your competitions.”

“Please don’t.”

“No, I will. I definitely will be there, with a huge banner saying ‘Yuuri, your sensei is here!’.” Yuuri groans, turning back to watch David and Yumi do a few stroking exercises. 

“Speaking of seniors,” Minako turns towards Yuuri and lowers her voice. “Any thoughts on who you want to coach you next season?” 

“I… I have an idea .” Yuuri scratches the back of his head, but his eyes are tuned towards the ice rink. “In fact, I was hoping that Miyamoto would be able to schedule a meeting with him for later.” 

“Here ?” Minako’s eyes widen in shock. “ Who ? Where are you looking- no .” She gasps in both outrage and delight as her eyes follow who Yuuri is looking at. “Does he even coach men’s?” 

“He will. I hope.” 

Skating for the United States of America, Kalie Gomez and Lucian Blake. They are four-time US National Champions and last year’s Grand Prix Final Champions.” 

“At the Olympics in Quebec, they became the first American ice dance team to medal at the Olympics since the 1970s, winning the bronze medal. Coached by famed ice-dancer himself, Olympic champion Celestino Cialdini, they are aiming to win a consecutive title at this year’s event.” 

*** 

19:42

Day 2 of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 

Short Program, Men’s (Seniors)

Capital Gymnasium Arena, 

Beijing, Republic of China 

 

There is a buzz inside the arena, a feeling that something is about to explode. Yuuri breathes in slowly through his nose. His hands are trembling. Minako reaches out, resting a warm palm on the side of his arm. 

Anticipation builds in the room, like the swell of a balloon being filled with hot air, waiting for the moment it will pop . Up above, there is a mounted, televised screen showing the backstage warm-up area of the competition, but it’s empty. Underneath it, there is the blackscore board, it’s LED lights blinking a bright, golden hue with the names of the skater’s ranked by their position. 

“Chris did well to place in the top three.” First place was a Canadian skater, who unveiled a stable quadruple salchow. Chris had fallen on a quad toe-loop. 

“I know he’ll be upset with himself.” Yuuri sighs. “He’s always been a slow burner, I’m sure he’ll do better at the finals.” 

“We still have one skater left - he’ll probably place fourth.”

“Yeah… one skater left.” Yuuri can feel his stomach start to twist. “I- I think I need to go to the bathroom.”

“No!” Minako slams her hand on his arm, gripping him tightly. “You are not going to miss seeing Viktor Nikfiorov live . This is everything you ever wanted, granted the seats aren’t the best, but it’s Viktor . The love of your life, the reason you started skat-”

“Shh!” Yuuri's face feels like it’s on fire. There are a few eyes turned towards them, and Yuuri prays that none of them knows Japanese. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Good.” Her eyes turn to glare at him, but there is no heat behind the stare. “I wish we had better seats though.”

“We’re in the athlete’s box - you weren’t complaining earlier.”

“Yes, well that’s because we got them for free. But this is about Viktor . We need to be closer to appreciate him. I promise to get us some better seats soon, Yuuri. Maybe for Europeans?”

“I have exams.”

Minako cries at that. “Ugh, I forgot! The entrance exam! I’m such a bad coach.”

“Yeah you are, because you got the wrong dates.” Yuuri laughs. “The entrance exam is in January, I’ve got the TOEIC in Feb.”

“Oh- why the TOEIC, wait, you’re serious about Celestino.” 

Yuuri shrugs, “Depends if he’ll take me on. I’ve been thinking to apply to Wayne State, they have a good Physics department-”

“Wait, wait - you’re thinking of studying too?”

“There’s no way we’d be able to afford me moving just for skating, especially with trying to get a visa. If I get an academic scholarship, I’ll be on a student visa. Wayne State also does a bunch of sports bursaries, so it would help even more with rink expenses.” 

“Stop, just give me one second to process all of this information.” Minako closes her eyes, looking very much frazzled. “We are not going to talk about this when Viktor is about to come on to the ice and skate, but mark my words, Katsuki Yuuri. When we get home, we are having a conversation.” Yuuri flinches. “ With your parents.”

“Hai, sensei-” Yuuri’s body is frozen. Metaphysics aside, it’s like his soul is being hurled from his body, unbinded in a limbless state. 

Representing Russia, Viktor Nikiforov!” 

He’s skating! Yuuri, look there he is!” Minako screams along with the hoards of fans within the arena, roaring their love for Viktor as he skates to the middle of the rink. 

He has never heard such loud cheers. People are crying, he’s sure someone just now had to be escorted because they fainted , and there is Viktor, soaking in all of the attention. 

Yuuri doesn’t even realise he’s holding his breath until it all floods out of him. Viktor, Viktor, Viktor - in the flesh! Seeing him during the Opening Ceremony did nothing to curb his appetite - there had been far too many people around him, a clear separation between juniors and seniors. He had been keenly aware of cameras trailed on him, making sure that he didn’t seem like he was pining too much. But now, Yuuri could watch him all he wants. 

His eyes are on him before he even realises it. Nothing could take him away. 

*** 

Viktor Nikiforov ❄️ 🤟  ✓ @v-nikiforov 

[A picture of Viktor holding up a Russian flag that falls around his shoulders. A gold medal hangs from his neck. There is a quirk of smile set by his pink lips, playful and coy.] 

Этот конкурс был незабываемым. Я выигрывал титул подряд и буду упорно работать, чтобы быть готовым к чемпионату Европы и мира. Спасибо за вашу поддержку.

Thank you, Beijing! 

[This competition has been unforgettable. I have won a consecutive title, and I will work hard to ensure I am ready for Europeans and Worlds. Thank you for all your support.] 

1k 🗨️  11k.⟲ 15k.♡ 

Liked by nishi-yuu, NikiNation, dailyvitya and 15,214 others 

Chapter Text

December 15, 

Beijing, Republic of China 

 

Beijing had always been an important city to Yuuri. 

It had been the first international competition where Viktor had coached him, the first time he had won silver, the first time Viktor had kissed him (on live-television, he might add. Yuuri dies of mortification and love every time he remembers, cursing his husband’s penchant for PDA. )

Being here without Viktor by his side is a hard pill to swallow, and if Minako notices his melancholy mood, she doesn’t say a word about it. Instead, she forces him into the bathroom in the morning, preparing for a day of sightseeing. 

Spending only a few minutes getting ready, Yuuri washes his face thoroughly before smacking on some lotion and sunscreen. He snorts lightly to himself, Viktor’s crazed skincare routine had rubbed off on him soon enough, but Yuuri could never commit to the five-step routine his husband had. No, Yuuri kept it minimal, a single cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen for the morning, battling sun cancer a dollop at a time.  What was the sunscreen Viktor liked again? Was it even made yet?

He sighs suddenly, remembering all of the drama behind Viktor’s favourite skincare. All he knew was that one minute he was begging Mari to send them over to Saint Petersburg by the boatload and the next he was pouring it down the kitchen sink - something about capitalist conglomerates ruining everything for him. 

Yuuri makes a mental note to look for the brand when he has the time. Patting the excess product on his neck, he exits the room to find Minako sitting on her bed, crossed legged. 

The room they shared was not big at all, only a few square feet long. There were two single beds crammed on either side of the room, and a single square window on Yuuri’s end that only cracked open slightly. Regardless of the ventilation hazard, the hotel was nice. The mattresses were firm and pillows soft. There were no obstructions outside of the window view, only the vast expanse of the city. 

“Are we going to meet Miyamoto-san for breakfast?”

“Rina-chan said she’d wait for us at the hall. She’s booked some time for you at a public rink, you wanted to rehearse the gala piece before practice tomorrow, right?”

“Hmm.”

“Let’s go then.” Minako leaps from her bed, pocketing her phone into her back pocket. “Make sure you’re bundled up, it snowed last night.”

Yuuri slips on a black sweatshirt, pulling up his hood. Then, he bundles himself up in a warm overcoat. It’s long, reaching the back of his knees and pitch black, a sleek birthday gift from Mari and his parents that fits him snugly. He tucks his hotel key-card into one of the card slots of his wallet, before shoving it and his phone into the deep pockets of his coat and wearing his black boots. 

He checks that he has everything once more. Slipping on a black mask, he hikes it up over his nose so that his glasses rest directly on top. He’s lived long enough to know that you’re meant to place glasses on top of the mask to prevent fogging. It brings his attention to his new glasses. 

With such short notice, Yuuri had opted for some thin circular lenses instead of his customary square rims. It took some time getting used to them, but now they were as well-loved as his old ones. With a final cursory glance at his reflection, he hikes his duffle bag over his shoulder, exiting the room to meet Minako out in the hallway, ready to brace the cold Beijing morning.

“What are you, cosplaying as the Grim Reaper?”

“Shut up.” Yuuri’s voice is muffled behind the mask, but Minako laughs loudly at the tinge of red that spreads across his ears. “I checked the news - dust levels are predicted to rise through the day. You should wear a mask too, sensei.”

She rolls her eyes, but snags the packaged, white surgical mask Yuuri holds towards her. “Okay, you health nut. Let’s hurry up and meet Rina-chan.”

They make their way towards the elevator, reaching the lobby within seconds. Miyamoto is waiting for them by the doors, clad in her own mask. “Wow, Yuuri-kun. You look very dapper.”

“Sensei said I looked like the grim reaper.” 

“Oh, I... “ She doesn’t say a thing, but the way she bits her lip makes Yuuri think she agrees. 

“I’m never wearing all-black again.”

“No, no!” Miyamoto shakes her head furiously whilst Minako cackles by her side, pushing the two of them through the revolving doors. “Black is 100% your colour.”

Beijing is cold, and Yuuri is infinitely grateful that he is wearing a mask - the cold sweeps across his forehead, sending his hair into a windswept mess, but his face is protected by the mask. Miyamoto doesn’t have the same luck, nose already turning a bright red against the stark snow-covered street. 

It’s loud now that they’re outside of the hotel, the rumblings of the city bursting in his ear. There are stretches of cars rolling slowly across the road, stuck in the morning traffic on the way to work and Yuuri huddles closer to Minako, weaving his arm through hers. Minako does the same on her other side with Miyamoto, and the three of them are a team, pushing through the crowds of Beijing. 

“Where are we going for breakfast?”

“There’s this nice cafe a few minutes up ahead,” Miyamoto pulls out her phone, looking at directions. “They have really nice croissants.”

“Oooh.”

Minako narrows her eyes. 

“It’s after the competition, I can eat whatever I want now.”

“You still have practice later.”

“Oh, that reminds me.” Miyamoto breaks in between Yuuri and Minako’s battle of wills, tugging out her phone. “I was only able to get time at a local ice rink, we’ll take a cab straight after breakfast? I booked it for 11, that way we can still go see the competition later.” 

“That’s plenty of time.” Minako smiles at her. They reach the cafe soon. 

Yuuri immediately sits at a small table near the entrance - it’s circular, with a leather-bound armchair on one side and a small bench pressed up against the wall on the other. It’s right next to the window, and Yuuri and Miyamoto sit down whilst Minako goes to order for everyone. 

It isn’t as busy as Yuuri expected, with most people opting for takeout coffee rather than staying seated. A shame really, Yuuri muses, looking around at the ambience of the store. It’s low-lit, with hanging bulbs and bookshelves all around him. The colour palette leans towards reddish browns and brass, and Yuuri immediately feels warmed. It’s something out of a vintage postcard, a stark difference to the industrialization outside.

“Have you decided which costume you’re wearing for the gala?” 

Yuuri pulls off his mask, tucking into his pocket. “Miyamoto-san, do you trust me?”

“Why are you saying it like that?” Rina’s face turns pale.

“I’m being honest, this is 100% a coincidence and we did not plan this at all.”

“Yuuri-kun. Please, just rip the bandaid off.”

“We brought the gala costume with us to Beijing.” Minako plops down a tray on the table, 

Miyamoto switches between gaping in shock and looking impressed. “Do I even want to know why?”

“We were planning to try and do some kind of dress rehearsal with the costume for Worlds here because the costume just arrived the other day. Yuuri was itching to test that the sleeves were working, because they’re a focal point, and we thought we’d have some time now. Now, it’s like fate.” 

“So, you have it with you?”

Yuuri pats his duffle bag. “It’s just the over-layer we need to test. Everything else works just fine, I want to make sure the sleeves don’t hinder me whilst skating. We had to get rid of a lot of the fabric during the test-runs, this should be the final piece.” 

“Oh my god.” Rina places a hand on her heart. “You’re so lucky, wait what’s there to test with the sleeves?”

Minkao sends her a scheming grin. Yuuri downs his coffee. 

 

*** 

 

minako-okukawa  7h 

House of Beans, Beijing, China 

[PHOTO: A collection of three photos. The first, which is the one that shows up on Minako’s feed, is of a breakfast spread. It includes various Western-style breakfast delicacies, such as croissants, pancakes, and a type of egg in a tomato sauce. The second is of Yuuri, a candid where he is mid-drink, fingers curled around a mug of steaming coffee. He is turned to the left, showing off his side-profile as he looks towards the window. The lighting casts him in a washed-out, ethereal filter. He looks undeniably soft and beautiful. The third is a picture of Minako herself, spooning some egg into her mouth. She’s looking up at the camera, raising a thumb up cutely.] 

♡ 💬  ➤

Liked by christophe-gc, mari-k, Nishi-yuu, and 10,987 others.

minako-okukawa 学生と一緒に朝食!私たちは@JSF_Official Miyamoto Rinaと一緒にホテルの近くのとても素敵なコーヒーハウスにいます。初めてしゃくしゃをしようとしているのが北京ハハだなんて信じられません。ゆうりはブラックコーヒーとパンケーキにこだわった、なんてつまらない。

#shakusha #brunch #yum 

[Breakfast with my student! We’re at a very nice coffee house near our hotel along with @JSF_Official Miyamoto Rina. I can’t believe that the first time I’m trying shakusha is in Beijing haha. Yuuri stuck to his black coffee and pancakes, how boring.]  

View all 712 comments

 

minako-okukawa  4h 

Phoenix Palace, Beijing, China  

[PHOTO: A selfie, taken by Minako, of herself, Yuuri and Rina. Between them, there is a mouthwatering, steaming hotpot bubbling in focus. Yuuri is holding out a peace sign and Rina’s eyes are focused entirely on the food.] 

♡ 💬  ➤  

liked by mari-k, Nishi-yuu, and 11,231 others.

minako-okukawa #勝生勇利と@JSF_Offical宮本リマとのお祝いディナー #Hotpot #勝生勇利 #Beijing #Yum #FoodTrip #CongratsYuuri

[A congratulation dinner with #Katsuki Yuuri and @JSF_Official, Miyamoto Rina.

#Hotpot #KatsukiYuuri #Beijing #Yum #Food #CongratsYuuri] 

View all 321 comments 

 

minako-okukawa 3h

Angel Bubble Tea, Beijing, China  

[Photo: Two pictures. The first, the one that shows up on Minako’s feed, is an Instagram-worthy picture of Yuuri, hair windswept, wearing a mask and holding bubble tea in his hand. He isn’t looking at the camera, and half of his face is covered by a mask, but it’s a truly, mouth-watering candid photo. It shows off his all-black ensemble outfit. The second photo, after swiping past, is of three bubble tea drinks pushed together, where Minako tags Rina on her drink, as well as a tag to the bubble tea shop on hers.] 

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by christophe-gc, d.yamaguchi, sara-crispino, and 842,891 others. 

minako-okukawa チャンピオンは苦い飲み物を好みますが、彼でさえタピオカパールの呼びかけに抵抗できませんでした。

[The champion prefers bitter drinks, but even he couldn’t resist the call of tapioca pearls.] 

#勝生勇利 #BubbleTea #Beijing #BrownSugarForMe #MatchaForYuuri-kun #Rina’sSugaryExplosion

view all 102,281 comments

figure-skating-gods: oh my god. 

mihana:  ˉ̡̠̭̭”( ⑉¯ །། ¯⑉ )ˉ̡̠̭̭”

Nishi-yuu:  ゆうりくん??![Yuuri-kun?!!] 

jessica-b : Holy fuck. 

あかり: (´♡ω♡`) (´♡ω♡`)

sana-okada: 私の心-奥川先生は私よりも良い写真を撮るT.T [My heart - Okukawa-sensei takes better pictures than me T.T] 

mari-k: 私はその服の功績を認めます。すべての祝福と賛美を私に送ってください。

[I take credit for that outfit. Send all the blessings and praise to me.]

(view all 81 replies) 

 

 

mihana 🙏

Nishi-yuu 🙏

sana-okada 🙏

あかり🙏

阿部 : よくやった、ゆうりくん!あなたがいなくなっている間に私はレベル15を通過しました ¬‿¬  [Well done, Yuuri-kun! I've passed level 15 whilst you were gone.] 

 

 

minako-okukawa: ゆうりくんは私に教えてほしいのですが、私なしで引用しますか?[Yuuri-kun wants me to tell you, and I quote “WITHOUT ME?” ]

( view all 51 replies) 

宮崎: 奥川先生!おめでとうございます、ユリと一緒に北京で最高の楽しみをお過ごしください!スタジオを再開する予定はいつですか?[Okukawa-sensei! Congratulations, I hope you have the best of fun in Beijing with Yuuri! When are you planning on opening the studio again?]

 

 

minako-okukawa: ゆうりさんの大会終了後、またスタジオをオープンします。彼は今のところ私の優先事項です ^。^[I will be opening the studio up again after Yuuri’s competition. He is my priority at the moment ^.^]

(view all 28 replies)

 

***

 

毎日百合 @everyday-yuri

勝生 勇利 [Katsuki Yuuri]

ユウリ・カツキニュース [Katsuki Yuuri News] 

[Fan-account of the Junior Grand Prix Champion, Katsuki Yuuri] 

📍 Japan 🇯🇵          🗓️ Joined November 20XX

1,021 following    872 followers

Followed by mihana, jessie-bessie, haru-haru, suji-k and 70 others

Tweets    Tweets & Replies     Media     Likes 

 

📌 Pinned Tweet   

毎日百合 @everyday-yuri . Nov 30 

これは、ジュニアフィギュアスケーターのカツキユウリに関する毎日の更新を提供するために作成された新しいファンアカウントです!ゆりくんへの愛情を分かち合いますので、よろしくお願いします!

[This is a new fan account created to give daily updates about junior figure skater, Katsuki Yuuri! Please look on us favourably as we share our love for Yuri-kun!] 

9 🗨️  13 ⟲ 28 ♡ 

 

毎日百合 @everyday-yuri . Dec 15

[PHOTO: A reposted photo of the infamous Bubble Tea Photo™ from Minako’s instagram] 

[He looks so handsome today, just like a model! Okukawa-sensei, you are a master.]

921 🗨️  3.1k ⟲ 8.2k ♡ 

 

 

@m-hsas 0.0 この人は誰なのか ? ? [Who is this person??] 

18 🗨️  191 ⟲ 712♡ 

@moto-hうわー、彼はとてもハンサムです、なんてことだ [Wow, he’s so handsome, oh my god]

92 🗨️  321 ⟲ 421♡ 

@keke-s 彼はアイドルですか?[Is he an idol?]

19 🗨️  32 ⟲ 421 ♡ 

@nana-chan 彼は何歳 [How old is he?]

12 🗨️  71 ⟲ 234 ♡ 

 

 

@everyday-yuri  高校生 [A senior high school student!]

76 🗨️  172 ⟲ 561♡ 

 

 

@higashichaaa 新しいアイドル?それとも研修生?[A new idol? Or a trainee?]

1 🗨️  18 ⟲ 71♡ 

@tamichan うわー、とてもきれい [Wow, so pretty!]

1 🗨️  8 ⟲ 432♡ 

@BAKAKUN キラキラ [ kira-kira , meaning glittering or shining]

2 🗨️  8 ⟲ 714 ♡ 

@taketakechan 彼はツイッターを持っていますか?またはInstagram?彼はインフルエンサーですか?[Does he have a twitter? Or an Instagram? Is he an influencer?]

1 🗨️  8 ⟲ 81♡ 

@kaseuya 彼のお名前は?[What’s his name?]

1 🗨️  18 ⟲ 71♡ 

@bekiko 彼は有名人ですか?俳優?この日から、私はファンになります[Is he a celebrity? An actor? From this day on, I’ll be a fan!]

23 🗨️  52 ⟲ 621♡

 

 

@everyday-yuri

彼の名前はカツキユリで、ジュニアフィギュアスケート選手です。彼は数日前にグランプリファイナルで優勝し、ジュニアナショナルチャンピオンです。

[His name is Katsuki Yuri and he's a Junior figure skater. He won the Grand Prix Final a few days ago and is the Junior National champion. 

321 🗨️  218 ⟲ 672♡

 

Trending . Japan

 

勝生 勇利 

[Katsuki Yuri] 

10k 

タピオカティーの写真

[Bubble Tea Photo™] 

81k

ジュニアナショナルチャンピオン

[Junior National Champion]

1k

抹茶タピオカティー

[Matcha Bubble Tea]

18k

抹茶くん

[Matcha-kun]

7k

アイドル

[Idol]

21k

JGPチャンピオン

[Junior Grand Prix Champion]

7k

フィギュアスケート選手

[Figure Skater]

1k

 

 

ただ生きようとしている @daiantukia . 1h

タピオカティーの写真に写っている人は誰ですか?ははは

[Who is the person in the bubble tea photo? hahahahaha]

14 🗨️  29 ⟲ 99 ♡

 

星の目 @umichan . 52m

タピオカティーを持った少年。彼の名前。彼の住所。彼の星占い。詳細を教えてください。

[The boy with the bubble tea. His name. His address. His horoscope. Give me all the details.]  

21 🗨️  91 ⟲ 181 ♡

 

ドゥーキープキエ @dookuma . 21m

[gif

私、この抹茶バブルティーの写真を渇望している私のタイムライン全体を見るためにログオンします。そうは言っても、O.O

[Me, logging on just to see my entire TL thirsting over this Matcha Bubble Tea Photo. That being said, O.O.] 

19 🗨️  79 ⟲ 211 ♡

 

 

毎日百合 @everyday-yuri . 1m 

[A gif replaying Yuuri’s beautiful, back-counter triple axel from his short program. The blue fabric of his costume twirls around him whilst he’s doing his rotations in the air, landing in a swirl of blue, ocean-like waves.]  

疑問に思っている人のために、#バブルティーの写真はジュニアグランプリチャンピオンとジュニアナショナルチャンピオンのカツキユウリのものです。彼は数日前のショートプログラムで世界記録を更新しました。彼は日本で数年ぶりの金メダリストです。本当に私たちの誇り。これが彼のパフォーマンスへのリンクです。]

[For everyone who is wondering, the #BubbleTeaPhoto™  is of the Junior Grand Prix Champion and Junior National Champion, Katsuki Yuuri. He broke the world record in the short program a few days ago. He is Japan's first gold medalist in years. Truly our pride. Here’s a link to his performance!]

21 🗨️  109 ⟲ 721♡ 

 

 

@丹梨

なんてこった、そのジャンプは美しい。

[Oh my god, that jump is beautiful.]

0 🗨️  0 ⟲ 201♡

@結愛

フィギュアスケート、あなたは言いますか?

[Figure skating, you say?]

0 🗨️  19 ⟲ 31♡

@一千花

私たちの国にこんなに美しいスケーターがいるなんて知らなかった

[I didn’t know our country had such a beautiful skater]

0 🗨️  1 ⟲ 12 ♡ 

@冴咲

彼は世界記録を破ったのですか?おめでとう!

[He broke the world record? Congratulations!]

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 172 ♡ 

@二湖

私が若い頃、フィギュアスケートは巨大でした。それが新しい世代で持ち直し始めているのを見てうれしいです。

[Figure skating used to be huge when I was young. Glad to see that it's started to pick up with the newer generation.]

2 🗨️  1 ⟲ 12♡ 

@蓮

ハンサムでアスレチック、次にあなたは彼が賢すぎると私に言うでしょうT.T

[Handsome and athletic, next you’ll be telling me he’s smart too.] 

5 🗨️   71 ⟲ 193 ♡

 

 

@旦陽 

私は百合先輩の学校の生徒です。彼は大学進学クラスであるクラス3-Aにいます

[I’m a student at Yuuri-senpai’s school, and he’s in Class 3-A which is the college prep class!] 

18 🗨️  98 ⟲ 228♡

 

 

@蓮

わぁ?

[Waaa?!]

0 🗨️  1 ⟲ 18♡ 

@冴咲

冗談だろ。彼は完璧すぎる。

[You’re kidding me. He’s too perfect.]

1 🗨️  1 ⟲ 7♡ 

@一千花

彼には何か問題があるはずです

[There’s got to be something that’s wrong with him.] 

6 🗨️  2 ⟲ 31♡ 

 

 

@S_Hideaki

残念ながら、ユリくんの完璧な自己への唯一の苦痛は、彼が非常にプライベートであり、干ばつでユキの苦しみを私たちに残していることですT.T

[Unfortunately, Yuuri-kun’s only blight on his perfect self is that he’s very private and leaves us Yuki’s in droughts all the time T.T] 

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 13♡ 

@YURIFAN02

彼はソーシャルメディアで活動したことはありません

[He’s never active on social media.]

1 🗨️  2 ⟲ 24♡ 

スージー@suji-k

ゆりくんにはソーシャルメディアがないので苦しんでいます。それが彼のコーチ、姉妹、または親友からのものであるかどうかにかかわらず、私たちはパン粉を探す必要があります (πーπ)

[We suffer because Yuuri-kun doesn’t have social media. We have to scrounge from his coach, sister or best friend to find even a single photo]

1 🗨️  18 ⟲ 71♡ 

 

宮原花 @mihana . 5m 

…. 

4 🗨️  3 ⟲ 10♡ 

 

宮原花 @mihana . 4m 

なぜゆうりがトレンドなの?

[Why is Yuuri trending?]

12 🗨️  1 ⟲ 80♡ 

 

宮原花 @mihana . 1m 

!!! 

9 🗨️  1 ⟲ 82♡ 

 

宮原花 @mihana . 1m 

泣きそうだ

[I’m going to cry] 

7 🗨️  3 ⟲ 101♡ 

 

宮原花 @mihana . 1m 

抹茶くん ? ! ! (*≧艸≦)

[Matcha-kun?!] 

12 🗨️  82 ⟲ 211♡ 

 

宮原花 @mihana . 1m 

タピオカティーの写真」としてツイッターをトレンドにしているユウリではありません。奥川先生、あなたはこのファンダムに祝福を与えています。!!! 

[NOT YUURI TRENDING ON TWITTER AS ‘BUBBLE TEA PHOTO’. Okukawa-sensei, you are a blessing to this fandom!!!] 

8 🗨️  2 ⟲ 211♡ 

 

***

 

[instagram] New notification! dwlkaso has followed you!

[instagram] New notification! feifei21312 has followed you!

[instagram] New notification! 美海 has followed you!

[instagram] New notification! 陽菜 has followed you! 

[instagram] New notification! 冴咲 has followed you! 

[instagram] New notification! 佑泉-一千花 has followed you! 

[instagram] New notification! e.sawamura has followed you! 

[instagram] New notification! jiji-sakura has followed you! 

Minako throws her phone across the room, the constant stream of notifications bursting through her phone. She wants to cry, maybe even die.  

She takes one look at where her phone lays on the floor, illuminated by the sheer number of followers she’s suddenly gained, and then back to the lump of a student on her left, sleeping without a care for the world whilst Minako suffers.  

Forget killing herself, she’s going to smother Yuuri in his sleep. 

 

*** 

 

December 16 

Beijing, China 

The Morning of the Gala Exhibition 

06:00 AM

 

There is no other way to explain it - Yuuri is going to die from exhaustion. 

There should be a law stating that teenage bodies need over twelve hours of sleep to function, but alas, at exactly five-forty-five, Minako had rudely stripped Yuuri of his blanket with a gleam in her eye. She must have taken some pride in the act, grinning maniacally when Yuuri cried as she ripped the curtains open so that the beaming sunlight burned his eyes.   

The public rink Rina had booked for Yuuri had ended up being empty most of the time, which was expected, since it was during working hours. It meant that he had free-reign to practice across the entire rink whilst wearing the over-layer of his gala costume. The sleeves turned out better than he expected, but it was Rina’s astounded face that made him feel elated. 

Minako had been the only person who had seen the gala piece in its entirety. Yuuko and Takeshi had watched short parts whenever the two could find time, but neither had been able to see the full piece. It was gratifying to have another person enjoy the whole entity as much as he and Minako did. 

By the time lunch came around, all three were exhausted but feeling far more prepared for tomorrow. Rina in particular was clearly burning with excitement, treating everyone out to dinner.  She had whipped out a black credit card, a glint in her eyes as she said “On the JSF’s behalf of course.” 

They had stopped by a hot-pot place that had the best shrimp dumplings Yuuri had ever tasted. Minako was partial to the pork, but everyone agreed that the peking duck they had tried later was the best. 

He was kind of upset that he’d be leaving Miyamoto once he’d become a senior.  As far as he knew, there are different departments within the JSF that handle Juniors and Seniors. Because Miyamoto was in charge of Junior skaters, it was unlikely that he would see her again, although she had said that National competitions were headed by all factors of the department. 

After watching the men’s free skate, and seeing Viktor being crowned as the consecutive Grand Prix Champion, they had left the rink to go sightseeing. Miyamoto and Yuuri had a heated discussion about Viktor’s components, in particular trying to figure out the reason why he only did the quadruple flip in the short and not in the free. 

“He could capitalise on the jump,” Rina argued. “No-one else can do it. He’d have a higher base value if he did the flip in the short and the free.” 

“He doesn’t need a higher base value.” Yuuri pointed out. “He won with just the quad salchow in the free. Why would he expend more energy on a risky jump when he’s guaranteed to win?” 

Miyamoto had pouted at that, going on about audience satisfaction and how fans came for the flip, but Yuuri would always defend his ( future )-husband. “He uses the flip in the short so that he leads. Then, he watches how everyone else skates for free. From there, he can decide whether he’ll put the flip in or not. It’s low-cost, high reward. It’s strategic .”

The day had moved on.

Beijing at night was a sight to behold, golden lights flickering in the darkness and hoards of performers scattered across the streets. Hundreds of lanterns hanging from windows and shop corners illuminated the paths. 

Shops were open till late, and Yuuri had invested in multiple souvenirs for his family and the Nishigoris, (including some matching qipao -inspired dresses for the triplets), all packed and ready in his suitcase. By the time Saturday had come around, Yuuri, Minako and Miyamoto had become a well-oiled machine. 

Out of everything in the world, galas were Yuuri’s favourite part of competing. 

The environment after a competition was a difficult thing to describe - it was like a bubble had popped, the tension out of everyone’s shoulders would release and the most intimidating skaters were sporting the biggest smiles. 

It was freeing

Skaters could perform pieces that could never be performed in the uber-conservative judging system - skaters known for their elegance and beauty were suddenly performing in hotdog costumes or cosplay (Yuuri is definitely looking forward to Future-Phichit’s iconic Spongebob routine)

Yuuri embraces the Viktor-otaku he is, and actually lets himself be excited to see Viktor’s gala exhibition. He remembers his little bisexual-self having a complete meltdown the first time he watched Viktor’s Britney Spears medley. Now, he gets to see Viktor in a plaid skirt, live . What a time to be alive. 

He yawns loudly, eyes watering with unshed, tired tears. He had to skip breakfast to make it on time to the practice session. Immediately, his mind goes to the bubble tea he had yesterday. 

The sweetness of the taro had controlled any bitterness from the matcha. Yuuri never had a propensity for sweet drinks, he’d rather have a cake or a biscuit and curb it with a bitter drink. Bubble tea was the one sugary drink that Yuuri indulged in, but it was hard to find a drink that had the right level of sweetness to bitterness that Yuuri desired. Everything was always too sweet. The matcha and taro had been perfect . Yuuri salvates just thinking about it. 

Ugh, he could so do with the same bubble tea now. Maybe after rehearsals he could convince Minako to order some for later.With the thought of food in his mind, Yuuri pushes through the auditorium door into the west wing of Capitol Gymnasium. 

The arena was huge, (emphasis on huge ). There were multiple rinks within the building, half of which were audience-ready. Yuuri and the other junior skaters were supposed to meet at one of the hockey rinks, unused because it was the end of the hockey season. 

He didn’t really know a lot about the other Junior champions. What he did know was that they all would be stuck inside the hockey rink together, forced here early because they were Juniors. God, if being a senior skater means waking up later, he’ll move right now. 

There were five skaters, six including him, that were waiting outside by the entrance. 

A visible hush settles around them as Yuuri walks towards them. There are fugitive glances sent his way, and Yuuri feels like he’s suddenly being put on show. 

For once, it’s not because of his… circumstance (what with the whole time-travel thing), that he feels old. Yuuri was biologically two years away from his twenties. Mentally , he was almost in his thirties. He was most definitely the oldest in the group.

Yuuri is once again reminded that figure skating is a short sport. There is no such thing as a long career. Viktor was 29 when he retired. Yuuri was 28. 

It was the hardest pill to swallow - Yuuri was still in the prime of his life, not yet even reaching thirty and his competitive career was over. His body just couldn’t take it. 

And even then, he and Viktor had been anomalies in the sport, pushing themselves to the very brink that their mortal bodies could take them. 

They had long careers, fulfilling careers with over a decade on the ice, but that was only because they had started out young.  

It had been why they were so revered - to be able to compete for so long in the sport, when others were too injured to continue, was a miracle in itself. To continue to win, to be the best of the best for over two decades of competition? Unheard of. 

The Chinese team who had won the pairs, Wei Jinglei and Xu Han, were only fourteen and fifteen respectively. The Canadian ice dancers, Tiffany Barrot and Kevin Yu, were of a similar age. The winner of ladies, a Ukrainian skater by the name of Nadiya, was only thirteen. 

They were all babies

The pairs are talking amongst themselves, keeping within their teams. There are looks of some kind of reverence sent Yuuri’s way, and suddenly Yuuri realises who he is - the skater who broke Viktor Nikiforov’s world record. The reverence sort of makes sense.  Yuuri can’t help but try and ease the distance, sending what he hopes is a kind enough smile. He decides that he might as well try and act like an adult. 

He places his duffle bag on the ground and rubs the back of his neck nervously, deciding to turn to the one skater who was just as alone as he was. “Morning.” 

The Junior champion squeaks, mouth gaping open. Yuuri’s close enough that he can see the way her big, green eyes widen when she realises that he’s talking to her. “Good morning!” She warbles out. 

Cute , Yuuri chokes out a laugh. She kind of reminds him of Minami, big-eyes and looking up like she’ll faint if he comes any closer. It’s so adorable , and Yuuri suddenly misses the other skater. If Yuuri did his maths right, he would be twelve. 

“Do you know when we’re supposed to start?” He directs this question towards the group, and the other skaters stammer out some kind of response. 

“We’ve been here for ten minutes already.” Jinglei speaks out. “We tried to call our coach, but he’s busy with Bin.” Cao Bin - the Chinese male skater. Yuuri remembers him vaguely at his wedding - apparently, he and Christophe had been Viktor’s only friends during seniors before Yuuri came along. So they were under his coaching team, Yuuri notes. 

“I’m Jinglei, by the way.” Her face turns red, before she elbows her teammate. “This is Xu Han. We’re big fans of yours.” Xu Han isn’t saying a word, mouth open and gazing at Yuuri with some kind of admiration. 

“So are we.” It’s one of the Canadian skaters, Kevin, Yuuri remembered, who looks like he’s also of Asian descent. “I’ve always wanted to meet you, Yuuri.” He holds out a hand, and Yuuri is quick to flash him a smile. 

Instead of grabbing his hand, Yuuri opts for the informal choice and breaks any of the tension in the room, reaching out to ruffle the boy’s hair. Kids these days , Yuuri thinks, laughing when the boy turns a bright red. Acting all mature, so adorable. “Thank you, I watched your performance as well. I really liked the step sequence in the second half, the no-touch part was really cool.”

“You watched our performance?” Tiffany gapes. Kevin sort of looks like he’s going to faint. 

“Hah, yeah I saw some highlights while I was warming up.”

“Wow!” Kevin’s mouth drops open. “Thank you. That’s… that means a lot.” 

Yuuri bends down slightly towards the younger girl, smiling when she gaps in wonder. 

“Your triple lutz in the free program at the end was amazing too, Nadiya.” 

“... You know my name?” 

“How could I not know the Junior Champion?” He laughs, patting her head. “You’re thirteen and doing a triple lutz. It’s incredible.” She is quiet for a moment, before a golden red flashes across her nose and cheekbones. She stares up at him, eyes turning into stars, melting under his praise. 

Yuuri hopes he is being kind enough. He never knows how he comes across to others, Viktor had told him once that he could be intimidating when he wants to be, so Yuuri schools his expression and tries to look as open and kind as he can.  

They all end up engaging in light conversation. Xu Han, he finds, is willing to talk once he gets started, sprouting out anything that will keep Yuuri’s attention on him. Kevin seems to take it as a challenge, and then Yuuri finds himself stuck between the two young skaters, vying for his attention. 

Yuuri himself makes some non-committable comments about what he’s going to do next year in seniors. After years of struggling to make small talk, Yuuri had found the best way to survive was to divert attention. If he turned the conversation away from himself by asking other people questions, it would take the brunt of social interaction away from him.

So that’s what he does, directing most of the questions to the other skaters and watching as they slowly became more open. 

The time on his watch blades that it’s six-fourteen. The gala organiser is almost fifteen minutes late. If this keeps up, Yuuri and the other Junior champions won’t have time to practice before they’ll have to meet with the senior athletes to learn the opening performance. 

Yuuri purses his lips. 

He doesn’t realise he’s tapping his foot, until his whole body is moving towards the door of the rink. “It’s open.”

The other skaters follow him in. The small hockey rink is big enough that they could warm-up without bumping into each other too much. The room was obviously booked for them, Yuuri realises, when he finds a call sheet with all their names on and a schedule list. The lights are all on, the rink prepared for the skaters. There were even little snacks and refrigerators set up in the area where a Kiss & Cry could’ve been. 

Obviously, they were expecting them. So why isn’t there a single staff member waiting for them? 

Yuuri swallows the anxious feeling that settles in his stomach. He’d forgotten that Juniors weren't as well organised as seniors. If it goes on like this, none of them will have practiced their pieces for the exhibition. “Let’s start warming up.” He says. “That way, when the official comes, we can start practice right away.” 

“... Are we allowed to?” Nadiya bits her bottom lip, picking at her nails. 

“We’ll just be doing some laps around the rink to warm up.” Yuuri rests a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t worry, if someone yells at us, I’ll take responsibility.” 

He walks down towards the rink barrier with purpose, and soon the others fall in line with him. He puts his bag on one of the seats near the front, before tugging off his jacket. He’s clad in his all-black, skin tight sports legging. His top is old Ice Castle memorabilia, a tight, navy blue graphic tee that has the Ice Castle logo on but under the ice-rink lights, it looks just as dark as his legging. 

Before he starts his warm up, he sends a quick text to Minako, letting her know what’s happening. Then, he pulls out a rolled up yoga mat from the depths of his duffle bag, and settles it out in the space between the ice rink and the seats. He sits cross legged, takes a deep breath to settle his mind and body, and begins his stretches.

The others take heed of his routine and begin stretching too, although Nadiya keeps looking back towards the entrance. After ten minutes of full-body stretching, Yuuri is now feeling pissed . He had hoped by the time he finished his warm up, the official would’ve turned up by now.  

The door slams open, and all heads swivel towards the entrance. It’s not the official - no, it’s Minako, walking down the stairs with Miyamoto hot on her heels, face stormy. 

“I came as soon as you texted.” She nods towards Yuuri, before turning towards the other skaters. She switches to English, telling them “Miyamoto here is trying to contact the officials. She’s already sent a message to your coaches, but since I am here, you can enter the rink and start to practice.” 

The tense environment from before starts to loosen in the presence of adults. Yuuri slips out of his sneakers, and instead pulls out his skates to start lace them tightly. Nadiya comes to sit next to him, pulling on her own skates. She’s smiling, relief spreading through her entire body. 

Yuuri nudges her. There is a small smile stretching on his own face. “Told you I’d take responsibility.” 

 

*** 

 

December 16 

Beijing, China 

The Morning of the Gala Exhibition  

07:45 AM

 

Halfway through their run-through, a frazzled looking person comes running in. Minako had already overtaken the entire practice session, timing it so that each skater had exactly half an hour on the ice to go through their routine. 

The official apologizes, stating a mix-up in rooms, but Minako’s deathly glare was enough to make him sweat and stammer. They continued the practice run under Minako’s guidance, until it was half seven.

“We really must go to the main gala rink, the seniors will be there.” The official stammers. “We have to go through the opening performance.”

Minako’s face tightens but ultimately decides to listen, flagging down the other skaters. They make their way out of the rink after cooling down. Yuuri wipes his face with the towel Miyamoto hands him, and Nadiya falls in line next to him. 

He laughs at the way the girl clings to him, slinging an arm around her shoulder. “So, Nadiya. What’s your favourite colour?”

“Blue!” She pipes up. “I’ve got a cat whose eyes are really blue - that’s why my dad named him Indigo.”

“You’ve got a cat?!” Yuuri sifts inside his jacket pocket, pulling out his phone and handing it to Nadiya so that she can see his lockscreen. “This is Vicchan, he’s a toy poodle.”

“Wow! He’s so cute!” 

“Isn’t he? I’ve had him since I was thirteen. He’s five, which means he qualifies for senior citizenship.” Nadiya guffaws at that, and the two start to exchange photos of their respective pets. Xu Han overhears Yuuri explaining one of Vicchan’s escapades against a blue car down his neighborhood street and offers his own tid-bit about his pet turtle, who is over seventy years old, running out into on-coming traffic scarily fast. 

“Everything you know about turtles being slow is a lie . I’m telling you, it’s terrifying.” 

By the time they make it to the rink, the other juniors are following behind Yuuri like little ducklings. It is insanely adorable to Minako, who snaps a quick video and sends it to Mari. It’s even more hilarious because Yuuri seems to have no idea the effect he seems to have, as each skater hangs onto his every word like they were biblical revelations. 

Nadiya grips the side of Yuuri’s sleeve when they walk into the arena, turning pale. It’s obvious as to why. 

The arena is not the same one they had competed in - rather it was a single, large rectangular ice-rink with no borders fitted around. That didn’t mean there weren't seats. No - the place of the gala exhibition was perhaps the biggest arena Yuuri had been in. 

Rows and rows of seats raised high up into the alcove of the ceiling as far as Yuuri’s eyesight could take him, like a stadium preparing for a concert. The rink itself reached from one part of the arena to the other, a spectacular sight of ice stretching for as far as Yuuri could see. 

Rather than the rinks used for competition, where seating was found on all four sides, the gala rink only had seating from the front and two lateral sides. The back area was completely boarded up, covered by holographic screens. There were no seats on that side either, only a wall. There were technicians next to it, testing to see if the screen was working. Another person was moving behind it, and Yuuri realises with a start that it was the entrance for skaters. 

Cameramen and other television crew flutter around in a jumble of chaos, setting the room in a constant buzz of movement. Spotlights and mutli-coloured filters were fixed into the ceilings, with a long rigging system for cameras to be able to shoot from above. It was no wonder there was no official at the Junior practice - it was all hands on deck for the exhibition. 

Never before have senior and junior skaters been in the same place at once for competitions. It doesn’t matter that they’re competing in the same sport, at the end of the day, junior skaters were not in the same playing field as seniors. They don’t have the money or the sponsorship or the status. They’re just kids, trying to make a living out of the thing they love. 

So, to Yuuri and the other Junior skaters, the spectacle of a gala is earth-shattering. And then, to add to the mysticism of it all, the senior skaters are already out on the rink, laughing and looking at ease amongst the chaos. 

There is a magnetic quality to senior skaters. The way they walk, the way they move, every part of them is different . Sure, all of the people here could probably do a double axel, but Nadiya’s double axel compared to Sara Crispano? The difference made by experience was outstanding. 

And at the center of this overwhelming group is Viktor himself, a god amongst kings. There are stragglers all surrounding him, big names that Yuuri had only ever seen through the television screen. And yet, Viktor was the one at the centre, a sun pulling everyone into his orbit. 

Yuuri swallows heavily. Their small group of junior skaters draws attention.  Xu Han and Jinglei wave goodbye, skating up to Cao Bin who’s waiting for them. Kevin and Tiffany also leave, meeting their coaches by the side. 

Yuuri laughs, ruffling Nadiya’s hair when her eyes lighten at the sight of an older, training mate. “Go on, I’ll see you for the performance.” She skimpers off, sending a cheery smile, as she slips off her skate guards and skids onto the huge ice rink. Yuuri does the same, handing Minako his skate guards. By the time he steps out onto the ice, nobody is looking his way. 

It wouldn’t be too bad, Yuuri has always been the kind to stay on the fringes. Here, he could see Viktor without being called out for it. There is something undeniably magnetic about Viktor, more so than other skaters. He’s too far for Yuuri to actually see him, but the air around him is different. 

The first time Yuuri had ever met Viktor was ingrained in his brain - the hot flush of embarrassment in meeting his idol when he was at his his lowest, the unwarranted irritation when said idol did not know even know who he was, the grief that he knew then and there that he would probably never be acknowledged by him - they all came slamming back into Yuuri’s mind. 

It was different now. Yes, Yuuri was not a senior skater, so technically , he wasn’t on the same stage as Viktor, but they were on the same rink

He can’t do this. 

For months, all he had been thinking about was Viktor, Viktor, Viktor. And now? Now that he’s right here, in the same room as him? Yuuri knows he’ll make a mess out of it. 

Things were not perfect then, but Yuuri had no scale to compare it to. Now, he will constantly think about how things had happened before. He doesn’t know how to interact with a twenty-one year old Viktor. He doesn’t know if he even can.  

His body feels incapable of movement, a paralysed cage stuck. Viktor is so beautiful, under the lights of the rink, he’s washed out into an angelic, golden glow, so far away from Yuuri’s grasp. This is not like before, when they were on equal footing, when somehow, Yuuri had made Viktor fall just as madly in love with him as he himself was. 

This Viktor was a stranger to him. 

He can feel the fear creep up through his body, twisting around and ensnaring him in it’s trap. He can’t do it, he can’t talk to Viktor. There’s no way he’d ever give him the time of day-

“Well, if it isn’t our record-breaking Junior.” 

A shriek rips out of Yuuri’s throat. Hands encircle around him, and then he’s lifted off the ice, his vision a blur of abstract colours as he’s dizzyingly spun around. Yuuri grapples with his balance just as quickly, he’s placed back down on the ice. 

All of the tension in Yuuri’s body evaporates. Christope. 

He’s as loud as always, eyes glinting in mischief and cackling as Yuuri almost topples over. “Chris! Why would you do that?!”

His voice echoes out in a laugh, pulling Yuuri into a tight hug. “It’s fucking karma. How could you keep me in the dark about those routines? The triple axel, the step sequence ?” 

Christophe pinches Yuuri’s cheeks, exuberant in his delight. “I’m so fucking happy your back on form. It gave me fucking goosebumps, Katsuki.”  

Yuuri bits his lips. If there’s one thing Yuuri knows, it’s that he is emotionally constipated. It’s a fact of life, he overpanics and thinks that everyone hates him, so much that he ends up ignoring all of the social cues in front of him. He doesn’t get people. But he’s been working on it, and it’s all because of Christope. 

“I couldn’t have done it without you.” 

There is a gleam of emotion spreading across Christophe’s face, and he pats Yuuri on one of his chubby cheeks. “What are friends for?”

“Yeah, what are friends for?” Sara cuts on, skidding to a stop and shedding a huge sheet of ice across Christophe’s skates. He screams as the cold ice melts on his clothes. Sara snickers in response. 

“Don’t leave me out of this. I’m being accosted by that German pair skater.” She shudders in disgust. “He won’t leave me alone.”

Both boys swivel their heads around and notice how the German’s skater doesn’t even notice that they’re all glaring at him, far too focused on Sara’s behind. 

“Everyone knows you’re fucking sixteen, what a creep.” Christophe’s face twists in disgust. Without prompting, he and Yuuri curl around her, blocking his view. Christophe wraps an arm around her shoulder, and Yuuri channels his inner-Minako, sending a frosty glare the man’s way. 

“Men are all gross. Except Yuuri.”

“Thank you for the stellar evaluation, Sara.” Yuuri holds out a hand to Sara, who grins, shaking it with enthusiasm as they both choose to ignore Christophe’s cry of dismay. 

“Betrayal!” He sobs. “How will I ever survive?”

“Oh, get over it.” Sara laughs. She turns around to look at the other skaters relaxing on the rink. A few skaters have started to lightly stroll around, causing the rink to flood with background chatter. Some are sitting at the side, legs extended out whilst they rest. Her eyes follow all the top skaters in the world, until it focuses on the best. 

Her eyebrows rise. 

She nudges Christophe. 

He sneers at her, still resentful of her earlier comment, but there is no heat in the expression. “Chris, look.” Her voice is painted in mirth, eyes alight with hysterical laughter. She looks like she will explode any minute. 

Chris narrows his eyes, letting his arm fall from her shoulders to look in the direction she is pointing. His eyes widen, before he snorts loudly, slapping a hand against his mouth to stop the laughter from spilling. 

He turns directly on the ice so that he’s standing in front of Yuuri. Sara joins him and can no longer hide her amusement, laughter pouring out of her. Yuuri, however, is not amused. In fact, he’s pretty scared. Nothing Christophe ever finds funny is actually funny

“Okay, so don’t panic.”

“I have anxiety Chris. Don’t tell me not to panic.”

“Okay, well then just deep breathes,” He lifts his shoulders, exhaling in a dramatic reenactment whilst Sara cackles to the side. “One more, deep inhale and let it all out, baby. Okay, now. Somebody is looking your way.”

Yuuri frowns, his forehead wrinkling. “Who?”

“Oh my god!” Sara’s voice drops into a whisper, but nothing could hide the sheer ecstasy seeping out of her voice. “Is he glaring at you?”

“Who?!”

“Nikiforov.”

“WHAT?!”

“He’s glaring at you- and why wouldn’t he!” She grins. “You did just break the record he held for over four years.”

“Oh my god. He’s looking at me? I’m going to faint.”

“I’ll catch you, babes.” Christophe steps away, skating so that he’s now standing behind Yuuri, arms wide open. “Look, it’ll be like a trust exercise!” 

“Stop joking! What if he- is he coming over?! SHIT-”  

“Hey, Viktor!” Christophe waves his hand manically, grinning as the older skater makes his way over. 

Fucking Viktor Nikiforov - it’s like everyone in the arena just stops and stares at them, wondering what Christophe did in his past life to be graced by the king’s precense. 

While everyone else looks like shit at seven in the morning, Viktor Nikforov looks like a million bucks. Wearing a white Nike shirt, ( Christophe is pretty sure he’s a Global Ambassador for the brand) that clings to his frame, puncturing out every lean muscle there is in his torso, Nikiforov looks like he’s just walked off a campaign ad. His hair is pulled up into a coy, little bun, all twisted ringlets of silver perfectly placed on top of his head. God, he’s even wearing mascara

He has to, or are his eyelashes actually that long? It has to be mascara, they’re coated a thick, inky colour. Unless, Viktor's hair colour is fake and his real hair is black. Oh my god, did Christophe just discover the secret behind Nikiforov’s life? He should’ve known that he wasn’t actually born with silver hair. Who in their right mind has naturally silver hair, with all of its beautiful shine? There’s no way it’s not artificial. Oh god, now that Christophe knows, will he be taken out by the bratva? Is he going to die?!  

“Christophe.” He slaps him on his back - touching him! Viktor Nikiforov is touching him - all close-lipped smiles and serene eyes. He’s so laid-back, Christophe wonders if he’s ever nervous. There’s no way, not Nikiforov. He must’ve sold his soul to the devil for how confident he is. “How’ve you been?”

“Good.” Christophe hopes it’s his imagination that his voice came out like a squawking duck. “I was just talking to my friends. Why don’t I introduce you, this is Sara and this is- Yuuri? Yuuri?”  

Sara blinks. Christophe blinks. Viktor Nikiforov blinks. Yuuri does not blink. 

Because Yuuri is nowhere to be seen. 

“Excuse my language, because I really don’t want Okukawa-sensei to beat me for corrupting her student, but what the fuck are you doing, kid?” 

There is so much David wants to know. First, why is Yuuri hiding behind him? Two, how is Yuuri hiding behind him, when he was at the other side of the rink two seconds ago?

“Shh!” Yuuri whispers frantically, hands coming out to grip the sides of David’s jacket. It’s slippery under his hands. He doesn’t know if it’s his sweat or the material, but either way, he holds on for dear life. 

“If you hold on any tighter, you’ll rip my jacket.” 

“If I exist, then I’m perceived and I do not want to be perceived at this moment in time. Ergo…” Yuuri motions towards himself. 

“Why you are using me as a human shield.”

“Exactly.” 

Okay. David thinks he’s pulled a muscle from laughing so hard. Yuuri Katsuki is a fucking riot

Yumi skates quickly towards them after finding herself forced into conversation with a Spanish skater. She takes one look at Yuuri, who’s covering his face with mortification, and at David who’s crouched over, tears streaming down his face, and decides she wants to know everything

David gets immense joy out of watching Yuuri’s face crumple into an array of scarlet - David didn’t even know the human face could turn that bright - as he repeats exactly what Yuuri said, word for word. 

“I’m getting that tattooed on my forearm.” 

“Senpai!” Yuuri shouts. 

“Yumi! Yumi! Yumi!” David grabs his partner’s hand, holding it up to his chest, eyes alight with mischief. “I could get a matching one!” 

“Oh my god, we could organise a couple date!”  

After they enjoy a few more minutes of laughing at Yuuri’s despair, David finally musters up the power to ask Yuuri why he’s hiding behind David. 

“You’re 185cm.” David’s chest puffs out in what can only be seen as pride, obviously getting side-tracked at the compliment. Men, Yumi rolls her eyes, puncturing the air out of his lungs by slamming the back of her elbow into his ribs. 

“Okay, other than the fact that David’s tall, what is the reason for why you’re hiding in the first place?” Yumi asks. 

“Christophe’s trying to introduce me to Viktor Nikiforov.” 

“What?! Nikiforov? That’s amazing!” 

David nods in agreement. “It’s hard for us to even talk to him. Nikiforov is on a completely different level… well , maybe you would know more about it than we do.” His grin takes on a sly gleam. 

“But he’s too pretty . I’ll faint.”

Yumi looks like she’s about to protest, but then stops herself, thinking. “You know what, that’s absolutely valid.”

“I’m straight and I even stare at his butt.” David sympathises.  

“No, I don't think you get it.” Yuuri takes a deep breath, closing his eyes as he reveals his darkest secret. “When I was eleven, my best friend showed me a replay of him at the Junior World Champions in Sofia and I’ve been skating competitively ever since.”

“Oh.” Yumi blinks. “Wow- that’s, wow. That’s a big deal. And you just broke his world record that’s been untouchable for over four years.”

“I don’t know how to talk to him without making myself look like a complete nut job.” 

“I’m sure you won’t be that bad.” David pats him on the shoulder. “Want me to go up with you? I’ll be an emotional support pole.”

Yuuri shakes his head. Whilst the visual thought of David standing like a bodyguard next to him, ready to catch Yuuri if he faints, is both a comforting and hilarious image, he decides against it. “I’ll somehow slip in that I named my poodle after him, and then I’ll be known as Creepy-Yuuri for all of eternity.”

David and Yumi freeze. 

“You- you named your dog after him?” David starts to cry of laughter, actual tears leaking out of his eyes. He crumples onto the ice rink, howling like he’s in pain. Yumi decides he should be in pain, and pinches the part of his neck that she knows is sensitive. His cries of agony go unheard as she ushers Yuuri into a warm hug. 

“There, there. Ignore the idiot. We’ll gaze longingly at Nikiforov from afar together.”

 

*** 

 

December 16 

Beijing, China 

The Gala Exhibition   

15:18 PM

 

“The junior skaters are so adorable.”

“Weren’t they? The Chinese team’s routine was so cute.”

“And the female skater? Her cheeks were so round, I could die pinching them-” 

There is only so much backstage talk Viktor could deal with before he wants to rip his ears out. Alas, he wouldn’t be the Figure Skating Darling™ if he wasn’t beloved by all people. Closing his eyes, he hopes nobody tries to force him into conversation, plugging his headphones in so that his exhibition music blasts through the buds. 

The backstage dressing room couldn’t really be called a dressing room. It’s a closed off area for skaters to change into their costumes, but in reality, it’s just a huge, long hallway that’s been set up with mirrors. Most of the skaters are loitering around in their own little groups, stretching and preparing for their own performance. 

Viktor should at least try to be social, but ever since the finals, putting on a fake smile for other skaters is so exhausting . After his landslide victory, the distance between him and the other athletes grew exponentially. There’s only so much polite niceties that Viktor could handle before he starts to rip his hair out. 

So Viktor decides to stick to himself, surrounded by his close-knit team. After Yakov grounded him (yes, he got fucking grounded !), nothing could put Viktor into a good mood. Not even when Ksenia sauntered in, big blonde curls puffed up around her face, ready to smother glitter all over Viktor’s body. Ksenia is always a darling to speak with, and her team of stylists are running around, fitting Viktor into his little outfit and doing final touches. 

She’d known Viktor ever since he was a spotty thirteen year old trying to make his name known in the saturated field of skating in Russia. She was the sage genius behind all of his most iconic costumes, placing levels of details that helped Viktor fall into his performance perfectly. If he’s dressed the part, then he can play the part. 

The two of them were a well-oiled machine, attuned to each other’s moods without even being in the same room as each other. They were a team . So it’s obvious to Ksenia that Viktor’s sulking.  

“Stop looking at me like that. I’m not sulking!” Viktor says, sulking .

Ksenia rolls her eyes, pulling Viktor up so that he’s sitting in front of the mirror. “I’m so convinced.”

Backstages of gala exhibitions are weird for Viktor. Days ago, the competition was so tense, you could cut through the atmosphere with a butter knife. Now, everyone is suddenly acting all buddy-buddy with athletes who, only a day ago, they prayed would be struck by lightning. So forgive Viktor if he’s feeling a little exhausted by the political facade. 

It’s freezing at Capitol Gymnasium, so cold that Yakov had taken one look at Viktor’s shivering body and gruffly thrown a blanket all over his exposed legs. 

Speaking of his legs: this costume, whilst 100% the right decision, was killing him. Why did he think wearing a short skirt in the middle of December whilst ice skating was doing him any favours? Female skaters are another breed of insanity, he realises. Imagine having to wear skirts this short all the time ? He’d die of hyperthermia!  

Yakov hated the outfit and program. Which made Viktor want to do it even more. He very much thought that Viktor’s exhibition piece deserved to be left burning in the trash, but the audience loved it. And who was Viktor to disappoint them? 

It had been the one time Viktor had complete control over his program, and from the audience’s reaction? He had nothing to worry about.  It was his dream to win at the Olympics with a self-choreographed program, and this year had cemented that Viktor was on the road to glory. With the Olympics only two years away, Viktor was closer to his dream than ever. 

So why is he sitting in this backstage chair, replaying his brief meeting with Katsuki, over and over again? Because he’s real , something inside of Viktor wistfully murmurs. 

“You look lovesick.” Ksenia’s fingers curl, cringing. “Have you learnt nothing from my lessons? You do not fall in love, Vitya. You make them fall in love. Who is it this time? The hockey player from Canada? Or that pretty official who’s been making eyes at you the whole time. You know, the cute one who’s always backstage when you are.”

“Wait, you mean Yibo? No way, I’m pretty sure he’s dating Bin.”

Ksenia gasps loudly. “Cao Bin’s dating ?”

“Well, sleeping is more accurate, at least. He had a suspiciously large bruise on the back of his neck, and unless he’s falling on the ice neck first, I’d say it’s a hickey.”

“I’m going to cry. I thought we had something special!”

“You gave him a blowjob four years ago like, once.” Viktor grimaces. “And I really don’t want to be reminded of walking in on that, please .”

Ksenia pouts, but her focus is back on Viktor’s face, tilting it back so she can apply a glimmering shade of blush pink to his eyelids. “I guess we’re both heartbroken-”

“I’m not heartbroken!” Viktor leaps out of chair, walking back to the small seat behind him and laying down. His spindly legs hang over the armrest. It’s unaccommodating and uncomfortable and Viktor wants to die

“Okay, so maybe my ego’s slightly bruised, but technically it’s my fault since I was incognito and there’s no way he would have recognised me, but like still !” He whines, childishly. 

“Right.” Ksenia sits in Viktor’s abandoned chair, swivelling it around so that she’s staring right at him. “Remind me to charge Yakov for the therapy session, but lay it all out, sweetheart.”  

“I met the most beautiful person in the world and he didn’t even look at me!” Viktor cries. “I don’t know whether to be happy, because trust me I looked like a complete mess, or annoyed that he didn’t realise who I was.” 

“Let’s look at it positively, now you can prepare for when you do meet him. You’re Viktor Nikforov! I’ll even spruce you up myself-”

“I tried !” Viktor sobs. “This morning, at the practice session! I was wearing my good shirt too!”

“Wait, the Nike one?”

“Yes! The white, limited edition one! And I was wearing those black leggings that cling to my ass, you know, the one that got me ranked first in every ‘Sexiest Off-Rink Outfit’ twitter poll there ever is. He didn’t even look my way!”

“Who is it?” Ksneia voice turns deadly. “Is he a fucking monk? There’s no way someone is treating my Viktor that way.” 

Viktor covers his face. “I can’t tell you, because then Yakov will kill me.”

“Why?”

“Because I snuck out to go see him.”

“... You did what?!” 

“I snuck out to go see him. Yakov caught me sneaking back and now I’m grounded for the unforeseeable future.” Viktor sighs heavily. 

“Okay.” Ksenia’s face pales. “It can’t be that bad.” 

“He’s already called Lilia.” 

“Oh. Oh god.”

“I’ll be dead before I even land in Saint Petersburg.”

Ksneia heaves herself up and directs Viktor back into his seat. “Well, let’s get you extra ready then, since it might be your last performance before you’re buried six feet under.” 

Viktor pouts, looking into the mirror. He’s not unattractive, far from it. He’s been on the cover of Vogue Russia and Sports Illustrated . He’s the Global Ambassador for Nike , he has commercials airing all over the world. Viktor Nikiforov is a catch . “Do you think I should just go up to him? Rip it off like a bandage?”

Ksenia freezes. “Wait, you haven’t even talked to him yet?” She grabs Viktor by his shirt, now understanding all of the blood pressure tablets seen in Yakov’s rink office. 

“Of course not! How could I, when he’s the most beautiful person to walk this wretched earth!  I almost fainted when his eyes turned to look at me.They were bedroom eyes, Zenya!” Viktor bawls. “Bedroom! Eyes!” 

“... And you liked it.” Ksenia’s face scrunches into a grimace. “Viktor, honeybear. Listen, I of all people do not kinkshame but -”

“It’s not like that!” Viktor cries. “It’s… no-one’s ever looked at me like that before.”

“Oh my god.”

“No- no, no not like that.” Ksneia didn’t look convinced. “Okay, so it may be like that, but I just want to get to know him! He broke my record-”

“Wait, are you talking about Katsuki?” Ksenia purses her lips, obviously trying to not burst into laughter. Shit. Viktor thinks. 

“Let me just recap everything.” She tugs Viktor forward, so that he’s leaning up in his chair. Pulling out her trusty, waterproof eyeliner, she leans down so that she can accurately draw a cat-like wing on the outer-corner of his eyelids. It has the added bonus of forcing Viktor to sit still . “So, this kid-”

“He’s eighteen.” 

“This skater breaks your world record which is admittedly a feat of itself. You sneak out to go watch him or whatever, and he made ‘eyes’ at you, and now you’re inexplicably horny because he’s the first person in years that made you work for it.” 

“I am not ‘inexplicably horny’! And he didn’t ‘make eyes’ at me. He didn’t even know who I was!” 

“Oh, so you like the fact that he doesn't like you? A, you want what you can’t have, sort of thing?”

“No- look.” Viktor shoves Ksenia’s hands away from his face, in case she actually does poke his eyeballs out with her eyeliner. “I started asking around, seeing what he’s like behind the scenes. Apparently, he’s either one of two things - painfully shy, or just not talkative. Also, he was with a staff member at the time and he could’ve been busy, but still- ugh, am I that unattractive when I’m just wearing sweats?”

“Of course not, baby. You’re dazzling even if you haven’t showered for two days!”

“I can hear your sarcasm from a mile-away.” Viktor pouts. “Fine, make me look so jaw-dropping, he can’t take his eyes off me.”

“That’s more like the Viktor I know and love.” Ksenia grins. There is hardly any person near the make-up station, most stretching out behind them on rows of yoga mats. There are a few television screens mounted across walls, and Viktor’s eyes are constantly turning towards them. 

There is a sound behind him, a short clamour of noise, and Viktor sees through the reflection of the mirror that Christophe Giacometti, the silver medalist, and Sara Crispano, who won bronze, were pulling various chairs near one of the televisions. 

“Yumi!” A voice calls out , and Viktor cranes his neck, seeing the Japanese ice dancer, (David, was it?), scream out “ Hayaku !” Quickly - Viktor’s watched enough Sailor Moon to know what that word means. He swivels in his chair, Ksneia obviously tired of trying to fix Viktor’s makeup, and watches as the rag-tag team of athletes all bundle up near the television. 

Yakov materialises next to him, arms crossed and his forehead cinched in worry. 

“What’s going on?” Viktor asks. 

“Katsuki’s about to perform.”

Viktor leaps from his seat, the sound of his chair falling to the floor muffled by Yakov’s quick reflexes, catching it before it fully fell. Most of the seats next to the screens broadcasting the programs were already filled up, and Viktor could already feel himself pouting. He’d have to stand up, and cran around like a fucking creep to see it- ugh, he never get’s to watch Katsuki properly , the universe is not fucking fair-

“Oh, Viktor!” A voice calls out to him. Viktor’s eyes refocus on the group in front of him, Christophe’s hand is waving him over. “We’ve got a spare seat here, if you want to watch.”

“Yakov, can I-”

“Ugh, get out of my sight already.” Yakov pushes Viktor towards the group. He settles into the little chair next to Christophe, wrapping his blanket around himself so it covers up his exposed legs. He’ll have to slip on his thermal tights before he gets on stage, Viktor realises, but at the moment, he’s only thinking about Katsuki, eyes trained on the screen.

There are other eyes on him though, in particular, from the two Japanese skaters from before. “Hi?”

“Hello.” The female skater stutters. She’s cute, like a little kitten. Viktor immediately narrows in on the slippers on her feet. “Oh my gosh, is that Sailor Jupiter?”

Her eyes widen slightly. “You know Sailor Moon?” 

David cuts in, eyes drawn to the screen “The skaters are done. Yuuri should be next.” 

“Do you know what he’s skating to?” Chirstophe directs the question to David, who shrugs his shoulders. 

“No idea.” Viktor notices that he does not have an accent when he speaks English, not like everyone else in this group does. Is it American? Or somewhere else- he really can’t pinpoint it. “All I know is that Miyamoto-san was singing its praises for hours this morning.  Yuuri choreographed it, so we can expect it’ll be good.”

“He choreographed his gala piece?” Katsuki is eighteen. Viktor had only been given free reign over his gala pieces after he won silver at Montreal, at twenty. He, of course, was allowed to help with his programs since Juniors, but it was always a collaboration. 

“Yuuri-kun always choreographed his own gala pieces, but this year, he also choreographed his short and free program.” 

He choreographs his own programs? Viktor pride plummets to the floor. “The same ones that he won with?” The ‘ same ones that he broke my record with’ goes unsaid, but everyone hears it the same. 

David nods. “Okukawa-sensei, oh, erm, his coach? She twiddled here and there, but Yuuri is listed as the main choreographer.” 

Katsuki creates his own routines. That perfect piece of program was created by him . Viktor’s heart thuds against his chest. 

Introducing the male Junior Grand Prix Champion.” 

A hot flush of warmth spreads through the underbelly of Viktor’s stomach. Finally, he thinks. He can actually see Katsuki properly this time and devote the correct attention that his skating deserves. Twisting his blanket so that he’s seated more comfortably, Viktor is entirely focused on the screen. 

The camera is sweeping towards the audience, rows and rows of people, the flash of their phone a painting of stars against the pitch black arena. There is a single spotlight, aimed towards the entrance of the rink near the back. Katsuki steps out of the darkness and into the light. 

Viktor’s breath catches. 

He’s not the only one. David's eyes widen and Yumi gasps loudly. Sara is whooping, a loud voice breaking through the silence. Christophe has his phone out, snapping pictures and videos like a proud mother. 

The costume is nothing like Viktor has ever seen before. It must be a type of traditional Japanese clothing. He’s itching to know more about it. 

Katsuki is framed by the costume’s soft layers of teal blue that reflect off the spotlight, highlighting the flecks of gold that run throughout. There is a black corset-like belt at the center that cinches his tiny waist in, with gold detailing pulling it all together. His sleeves . God,the sleeves! They’re huge and billowy, pure white silk that flows across Yuuri’s arms like air. 

He looks like something out of a painting, a god from the heavenly clouds coming down to bless the mortal world. He looks ethereal. 

“What is he wearing?” Viktor asks, even as he feels his throat dry up.  

Yumi is the one who answers, although her eyes never leave Yuuri’s figure on the ice. “It looks like a kimono , but I've never seen it draped like that before.”

“And now,” They must be watching the broadcast from one of the cable channels, as a commentator’s voice comes through the screen. “ We have the Junior Grand Prix Champion, Yuuri Katsuki of Japan. He only turned eighteen last month in November. With a record-breaking short program, everyone is eager to see what this talented young man has in store for us at his first ever gala performance, here in Beijing.” 

Katsuki skates to the center of the rink. His face is pointed downwards, the camera finally focusing on his face. Up close, he’s just as pretty, Viktor sighs to himself. The stretch of his jaw is a sharp line, following up to little ears that are adorably red. Is he nervous ? Viktor laughs to himself. God, that’s adorable

Viktor can see the way that the air turns into smoke as he exhales deeply. The music begins the moment he eyes snap open. 

It’s traditional too, matching his costume to a tee. Strings fill the arena, the sound akin to something like a harp, but there is a deeper, gravelly kind of quality. While harps were airy and light, this instrument had depth . Viktor feels like he’s amongst cherry blossoms, sucked into the beauty and culture of Yuuri’s home. With every stroke of the strings, Yuuri rises to match. 

The music is a slow build, with Katsuki answering to it’s call, flowing into a dance that complements the tone of the music. It builds, and now, Katsuki is throwing his body into a flurry of steps, moving from one part of the arena to the next. It quickens, turns maddening, and Viktor can only watch, wide-eyed, as Katsuki is somehow able to become equal with the speed of the music. 

Viktor can’t help the dream-like sigh slip out of his mouth. There’s no way Katsuki is fucking real. He can’t be, to match this deafening music, to be it’s equal is ridiculous. There is no gap, no time to breathe. Only Yuuri and his music. 

The audience gasps as Katsuki’s sleeves spread out, like waves of petals being thrown into the air, whenever Katsuki extends his arms. They billow around him, wings of beauty that carry him through the program. Every part of his arm complements the music, from the curl of his wrists to the point of his fingertip. 

Viktor is sucked in. 

The camera pans to Katsuki’s face, and there is so much emotion . He embeds every movement with a story, and as the song turns melancholic, Viktor digs his fingers into the palm of his hands. There is no way this skater was awarded only thirty points. It’s blasphemy, it’s treasonous . Viktor will haunt every single one of those judges till the end of time for it. 

The music begins to slow, and Katsuki glows as he throws himself into multiple spin combinations. The flexibility, the ease , the breath control, everything is so mesmerizing. 

“He’s insane.” Christophe gapes. 

“He hasn’t done a single jump. It’s just ...skating.”

Just skating. Pure skating. 

Katsuki didn’t need the flips or the jumps to entrance an audience. All he needed was the music and his two feet. 

The music begins to slow, and the choreography finally gives Katsuki time to rest. He skids to a stop, hands curled to his chest. Sweat drips on Katsuki’s cheeks, looking like crystal tears as his face artfully twists in agony. He uses his arms to reach out to the audience, and there are gasps, aching calls of wonder as everyone’s eyes follow him. He’s calling, begging, for someone to reach out and hold him. 

It’s mealcohoic, sorrowful, and Viktor can feel his heart break. A lapse of silence floods through the backstage as Katsuki’s music stops. For one moment, everything stills. 

And then, Katsuki comes alive

The music bursts out, a storm of meteorites burning up in the atmosphere. Katsuki is its gravity, pulling the notes down to the ground with his expressive and artistic dance. Viktor’s heart stutters when the camera pans to Katsuki’s face. He is smiling, smiling so brightly that it’s like he’s laughing.

He matches each beat with the exuberance of spring, sending bursts of petals with every swirl of his costume. He arches his spine into a glorious ina bauer, the wind flowing through his sleeves and his hair, a free woodland spirit bringing about sunshine and goodness to the winter of the rink. Katsuki is a child of spring, of life itself, and on the ice, he is beautiful.  

It’s as if the music lifts him, and Katsuki’s speed increases. How, Viktor could never know, because it’s like he’s a wisp, flying across the arena with arrays of twizzles and mohawks and chockturns, and every technical word Viktor could think of. 

There are no words to describe it. The music builds, like a thunderstorm of rain, when suddenly all of the instruments are sucked into a vacuum, until there is only one thread of an instrument playing, a single drop of rain, that ripples out. Katsuki curls his body into a sitting spin, lifting upright spin, with one hand extended to the heavens, the other curled around his body. The music drifts off, Katsuki ending on the final ping of note. 

There is silence. 

And then there is screaming. 

The crowd can be heard from backstage, a roar of noise so thunderous that Viktor can feel his chair shaking. The camera follows Katsuki’s every move, as he collapses to the rink floor, heaving with exhaustion. Finally, he crawls himself up, drained and heaving for breath, rising his body towards the audience.  

“Yuuri Katsuki is teaching us all, here in Beijing, what figure skating is all about! In its purest form, with not a single jump in sight. The delicacy, the elegance, I have never seen a performance like this before. Yuuri Katsuki, of Japan!” 

“-iktor, Viktor!” Someone is calling his name. He blinks, suddenly seeing Sara Crispano looking at him, eyes wide. “Yo-you're crying.” 

He touches his cheeks. There are small trails of tears, barely there, but enough so that Viktor can feel them drip down his chin. “Oh. I-I didn’t realise.” Someone hands him a tissue, and he starts to dab his cheeks, trying to hide the flush of embarrassment that spreads through his body. He just fucking cried , in front of Yuuri’s friends! The mortification seeps into him. 

Christophe seems to change the subject, turning everyone’s attention to him when he says “Yuuri’s just shitted on every single judge that said he deserved those PCS scores.” 

“That routine has to be fucking exhuasting. There were no breaks, like at all.” 

“Well, he looked like he was dying at the end, so yeah, it must be.” 

“He’s insane.” Viktor finally croaks out. “Yuuri Katsuki is fucking insane .”

 

Chapter Text

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating Retweeted . 12m

All Things Skating  @SkatingSeason . 15m

[A link to the Skating Season website, which is currently streaming the Gala Exhibition.]

Join us in a collaboration with Inside Skating as we stream the Gala Exhibition from this year’s Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final! For the first time ever, Junior and Senior skaters will be performing together to celebrate the medalists and top-skaters in figure skating! 

72 🗨️  182 ⟲ 921 ♡

 

Insider Skating @Insider-Skating . 32m

Here is the schedule for this year’s Gala!

[A link to the schedule for the gala exhibition. Following the opening ceremony, the junior champions will begin their gala performances, starting with ice dancers and ending with the male single’s champion. After a short intermission, all Grand Prix Finalists at the senior level will then perform.]  

21 🗨️ 421 ⟲ 1k♡  

 

All Things Skating  @SkatingSeason

LIVE CHAT 💥 THE GRAND PRIX OF FIGURE SKATING FINAL IN BEIJING, CHINA

Welcome to the Live Chat function for the Streaming Party of GPF Gala Exhibition. The exhibition will commence shortly. Please wait for moderators to start the stream . All members of the Live Chat must follow the Live Chat etiquette or risk being barred from the chat. This includes any derogatory and/or abusive language, towards other people in the chat or towards skaters. Let’s all have fun and enjoy the Gala Exhibition! 

MODERATORS: @PlanetNikiforov, @SkatingSeason, @Insider-Skating 

 

LIVE CHAT 💥  … 

 

@PlanetNikiforov has entered the chat … 

@SkatingSeason  has entered the chat … 

@Insider-Skating has entered the chat … 

 

CHAT FUNCTION ON … 

 

@mihana has entered the chat … 

@v-nikiforov1 has entered the chat … 

@RussianLegend has entered the chat … 

@GoldenBlades has entered the chat … 

@dwlkaso has entered the chat … 

@Алиночка has entered the chat … 



@RussianLegend: aaah! So exciting!! 

@mihana: What time does the opening performance start? 

@v-nikiforov1: it starts at 2! And then the Juniors will perform 

@HockeyHouse: Someone tell me when Viktor’s up 

@SarenFigure: Lol, he’s the last to perform, like always 

@SkatingBot: They always use Viktor like a fucking carrot, dangling him in front of us to watch the whole stream 😩

@skatingfox: For real 

@figureon: I’m excited to see Giacometti’s routine again 🥵

@deluxenina: This is a Bubble Butt Chris appreciation page. Nobody’s gonna survive if he shows up in those leather pants. 

@SynchroAttack: Bubble Butt Christophe Rights! 

@HockeyHouse: Viktor in a skirt tho? 🥵 🥵 🥵

@suminina : Amen

@SynchroAttack: Amen

@deluxenina: Amen

@NikiforovNight: I wonder if Ana’s gonna perform the same old, dreary sob story again.

@GoldenBlades: Hey, don’t call my queen dreary (fight emoji) 

@NikiforovNight:   She’s a beautiful skater, but if I have to listen to another rendition of Celine Dion, I will rip my ears out 

@skatingfox: Let her speak! She isn’t wrong. If I hear ‘Jack, come back’, echoing against the rink speakers, I will kms 

@NikeNikkie: What about the Junior skaters? Any we should look out for?

@deluxenina: 👁️ 👄 👁️ 

@RussianLegend: 😶

@figureon:   🙃 🙃 🙃

@mihana: Well, someone has been living under a rock. 😂 😂 😂

@deluxenina: Since the elephant in the room has been addressed, when is Katsuki performing? 

@mihana: He should be the last Junior skater to perform! 

@deluxenina: Noooo 😭 😭 😭 Why can’t he just open the show? I’m too impatient to wait for Viktor and Yuuri.  

@NikeNikkie: Is this Junior skater really that good? 

@RussianLegend: D-did you even watch the competition?!

@NikeNikkie: I skip Juniors like everyone does lol 

@skatingfox: Well, you missed out on some good fucking skating. 

@NikeNikkie: Really? 🤔

@SynchroAttack: Okay, well you missed out on Katsuki. 

@NikeNikkie: Why’s everyone freaking out about him? 

@SarenFigure:  Have you not been on twitter at all?! He broke Viktor’s WR in both the SP and combined score. He was only a few points away from breaking the FS too. 

@NikeNikkie: 😮 😮 😮 Oh. 

@v-nikiforov1: Yeah, oh.  

@NikeNikkie: So what’s this about seeing his short program? 

@deluxenina: Most of the Junior skaters are gonna perform their short program, so we get to see him perform it again 

@NikeNikkie: They didn’t prepare a gala piece?

@deluxenina: Apparently , there was a miscommunication between ISU and the officials at the competition. They didn’t tell the officials until a week ago that they expected the Junior skaters to have a slot at the exhibition, so then the officials had to scramble to figure out the lighting/set up at the last minute. 

@v-nikiforov1: What?! 

@NikeNikkie: No way

@SynchroAttack: That’s so fucking unprofessional! 

@figureon: The ISU should’ve made it clear. I wouldn’t be surprised if federations start to complain 

@suminina: I guess we should give them the benefit of the doubt, since it is the first time that Juniors and Senior competition are being held together. Still unprofessional though. I also heard that practice for the gala was a mess . ISU, get your shit together

@NikeNikkie: So, are all the Junior competitors going to perform as well 😬 😬 

@RussianLegend: What, and have a gala exhibition that lasts twelve hours? 😂 Nah, only the Junior champions have a slot and then all of the senior finalists. 

@NikeNikkie: Oh thank god. Juniors are cute, but I just want to watch Viktor shake his ass in a little plaid skirt 👀

@suminina: @NikeNikkie You have to stay to watch Katsuki’s performance since you missed out in the first place!

@SarenFigure: Oh, this’ll be exciting. Seeing someone’s reaction to it live, lmao. I was too in awe myself to see how other people reacted during it. 

@NikeNikkie: What time is he performing?

@SarenFigure: Pretty sure he’ll be the last junior skater 

@skatingfox: Oohh, I can’t wait to see his short program again! 

@HockeyHouse: It was so good. I’m excited to see the triple axel.

@v-nikiforov1: If he can. 

@SarenFigure: Why wouldn’t he?

@v-nikiforov1: Well, he’s not competing and it’s a risky jump. Viktor only does the quad flip because it gets the audience hyped. I’d rather he be safe and do a normal triple axel or a different jump. 

@NikeNikkie: What about the other Junior skaters?

@FinestFigureSkating: I only heard about the Junior ladies’ single, Nadiya Aksamit, Ukraine. She’s got a good triple lutz, but she needs to sort out her component score if she wants to be better. 

@EatGiacometti: She’s only 13 lol. She’ll grow haha 

@NikeNikkie: It’s amazing to win in her first year of competition, regardless

@FinestFigureSkating: Yeah, but she could be better. Hope her talent isn’t squandered since that always fucking happens 

@TopicCao: Especially cause she doesn’t have a big federation backing her 

@EatGiacometti: Shit, you’re right 

@suminina: Anyone else notice that in Juniors there’s a bunch of different countries bagging the top prize, but as soon as it’s seniors, it’s a pissing contest between America, Russia, China and Canada? 👀 

@mihana: Japan used to be up there too 😫 😭, too bad they’ve been shit for the last decade. 

@HockeyHouse At least they’ve got Katsuki now! 

@viktorsbaby: Yeah, but how long is that going to last 🙄

@EatGiacometti: What’s that supposed to mean?

@viktorsbaby: Well, he’s not consistent. Yeah, he might’ve been good back in the day, but so what? He should’ve been in seniors, but everyone knows that he’d be eaten alive if he moved up. 

@EatGiacometti: He literally just broke the world record, what are you on about

@viktorsbaby: Yeah, now . But there’s no telling how long that’ll stay. Like I said, he’s inconsistent. Imo, he needs to prove that he’s worth breaking Viktor’s record. 

@suminina: Oh god, you’re one of those fans. 

@viktorsbaby: What? All I’m saying is that it’s weird that this no-name skater all of a sudden broke Viktor’s junior world record. 

@EatGiacometti: A no-name skater? He was a Junior World Champion. He won the GPF three years ago. 

@RussianLegend: You can’t watch his performance and say he doesn’t deserve it 

@viktorsbaby: It was a fucking fluke

@deluxenina: A fucking fluke?! Wow, a back-counter triple axel is a fucking fluke? Viktor can’t even do that. I for one think you’re feeling threatened by Katsuki. 

@suminina: Ignore them. They’re being but-hurt because someone who’s not from the Big 4 broke Viktor’s world record 

@NikeNikkie: Big 4? 

@EatGiacometti: Russia, China, USA or Canada. Keep with the program, babe 😂 

@NikeNikkie: It’s not like Japan isn't a powerhouse. 

@NikiBot: Yeah, a fallen one. They’ve had shit skaters for decades, name one who has medaled? Oh right, you can’t. 

@TopicCao: Erm, are we all forgetting that Yumi and David got bronze? 

@NikiBot: Bronze is for losers. How many world champions or Olympic medalists do they have? Zero. The Japanese team wouldn’t even have medaled if the French didn’t stumble on one fucking lift. The French deserved to be on the podium, they had higher difficulty. 

@TopicCao: The French literally had a fuck-ton of mistakes? Forget stumbling on the lift, they were out of timing on all their twizzle spins. Yumi and David deserved that bronze. You just don’t want to be told you’re wrong, lmao 

@victorsbaby: Fuck you, we’re right and everyone fucking knows it. Katsuki won’t last a single day in Seniors and it’s a fucking joke that he broke Viktor’s program 

@Planet Nikiforov: Please refrain from fighting in the chat. This is your verbal warning. Any other comments against skaters will result in immediate removal and banning from further live parties. 

@figureskatingpsycho: Say what you want, but I’d rather see Katsuki skate than the fucking jumping competition that male figure skating is right now. I’d take Katsuki’s ina bauer over Nikiforov’s quad flip any day.  

@NikiBot: Katsuki will burn up in seniors. There’s no way a fucking weak-ass skater like him could ever do a quad. 

@TopicCao: You’re acting like quads are the be all or end all. He can beat everyone with just triple jumps. Cao Bin competes with only triples and he’s competing with Viktor. 

@victorsbaby: Cao Bin get’s fucking silver or bronze. Fuck Katsuki and fuck his fans. You think you’re all that because he broke the record? Viktor is still the best skater. Fuck you-

This message has been deleted by the moderators. 

@PlanetNikiforov has removed @Nikibot and @viktorsbaby from the chat. 

@deluxenina: I think it’s fucing ridiculous that Viktor fans are trying to put down a junior skater. What the hell is wrong with them? 

@Алиночка: Apologies from an actual Viktor fan. Most of the fans that get into fanwars are actually old Artyom fans that switched over. We hate those guys because they used to hate Viktor back in the day, but as soon as he beat Artyom at the Olympics and won silver, they’ve been acting like they’ve been fans for years. It’s so frustrating. 

@figureskatingpsycho: They need to be put on a fucking leash 

@EatGiacometti: Anyways, let’s just focus on good things

@deluxenina: Ohh! The opening ceremony is starting

[The livestream shows the Opening Performance of the Grand Prix finalists. Viktor is leading the brigade, as the spotlight focuses on him skating around the rink, waving towards the fans. Everyone is wearing simple clothes, like hoodies or t-shirts, except for Jinglei and Xu Han, who will be performing first.

They are wearing their short program costumes. Near towards the back, there is a slight lag as the Junior skaters look around shyly, although they keep close towards Yuuri as he stands in front of them, dragging them around with the other senior skaters.

Suddenly, the lights turn off, and then the rink is showered in hues of soft purple. The lights flash in time with the beats, and then suddenly, there is a shower of multi-coloured neon lights and the speakers burst out in ‘Dancing Queen’.] 

@EatGiacometti: What are they- IS THAT AN ABBA SONG?

@deluxenina: HAHAHAHAHAHAH

@FinestFigureSkating: ARE THEY ACTUALLY PERFORMING TO DANCING QUEEN? 

@suminina: I’M GOING TO CRY, LOOK AT HOW HAPPY VIKTOR IS 

@mihana: Odds on Viktor being the one to suggest ABBA? 

@NikeNikkie: What are you going to do when the two-time Grand Prix Champion asks for Abba? Say no

@skatingfox: 🎶 dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen! 🎶

@HockeyHouse: They’re all so adorable, awwww, look at the Juniors trying to keep up with the other skaters loool

@v-nikiforov1: Every single one of the senior skaters are crack-heads. The poor Junior skaters look traumatised 😂  😂 

[The camera pans towards the rest of the skaters, who are following simple routines on skates, lifting their arms up in an arrangement of simple dance moves. They move from one side of the rink to the next, turning so that every part of the audience can see them. 

The camera pans around towards the Grand Prix Champions in ice dance, Russia’s Annika Kuznetsova and Michail Lebedey. Matching the lyrics, ‘You can jive’, the two break out into a funny little jive step. They are currently in the midst of some fancy spiral work, although Lebedey is pulling faces to the amusement of the audience. When the lyrics ‘You come to look for a king’ comes on, the camera swiftly pans towards Viktor.] 

@skatingfox: Hahaha, nicely done cameraman 

@v-nikiforov1: Whoop, someone give this man a raise! His timing is impeccable 

@NikeNikkie: Viktor, my king! I’ll be your dancing queen !!! 

[The camera pans out to the rest of the group, showing the intricacies of their dance positions. The group move, albeit slightly clunky, together. The whole performance is entirely about having fun and not being perfect, at all. 

Skaters are laughing to themselves, and the entire performance fuels the arena in an atmosphere of joy. The large group breaks out into smaller clusters of groups, they’ve ended their main choreographic section, and now are on to freestyling the song. The athletes all skate around the arena, singing along with fans as an array of spotlights turn on different skaters to highlight them all at once.] 

@EatGiacometti: Wait, oh my gosh, is that Katsuki and Chris????? 

@mihana: WAAAIT THEY’RE SO CUTE?? 

@NikeNikkie: ARE THEY PRETENDING TO DO A TANGO TOGETHER? HAHAHAHAH

@EatGiacometti: WHERE DID CHRIS GET A ROSE FROM I’M DYING 😂 😂 

[When the lyrics ‘You’re a teaser, you turn ‘em on’ comes on, the camera pans directly towards Christophe Giacommetti, who is dancing towards Yuuri. He’s swivelling his hips, pointing directly at him with a greasy grin. Yuuri himself bursts into laughter, bent over trying to catch his breath as Christophe does his best, greasy expression, swiping his hand through his hair and jutting his hip out. 

Yuuri rolls his eyes, but grabs Christophe’s arms and pulls him into a very impromptu, but incredibly impressive, rendition of a tango-like dance when the lyrics say ‘You’re in the mood for a dance’. Chris somehow procures a rose, and sticks it between his lips, all while Yuuri is trying to stay upright despite laughing so hard he’s shaking.] 

@deluxenina: Look at Yuuri dying, omg 

@EatGiacometti: They’re so freaking cute together, I had no idea they were so close. 

@SarenFigure: They used to compete in Juniors together, right? 

@mihana: Oh yeah, I forgot that Chris is only 19 👀

@NikeNikkie: Damn, Viktor wearing just a simple, white t-shirt? 🥵

@v-nikiforov1: Viktor, my love! 

@EatGiacometti: I can’t believe Christophe and Yuuri are that close, look at how much they’re laughing together! 

@EatGiacometti: Sara’s joined in omg! Oh my god, she’s jumped on Yuuri’s back and he’s spinning her around! How cute! 

[The performance ends with a very cute, if slightly raw, pose, with everyone huddling together, hands up in the air. Viktor stands at the centre, the camera focused entirely on him. From the periphery, you can see Yuuri, grinning alongside Sara and Chris, his cheeks flushed red. The arena breaks out into applause as the announcer says through the speaker ‘Our Grand Prix Finalists, everyone!’]

@deluxenina: That was so much fun! 

@figureskatingpsycho: They all look like they were having a blast! 

@v-nikiforov1: ABBA is always a good choice. 

53 other people have entered … 

@casuallyinlovewithvitya: When is Viktor starting

@Nikiforovie: Vitya!

@VikkieBabes: So exciting! 

@GoldenVitya: Vitya, we’re only here to watch you!

@PViktor: Viktor!!! 

@expertnikiforov: 💖 💜 🧡 💛 

[The livestream picks up after a commercial break. You can hear the commentators say ‘That performance was by the Junior Ice Dance champions, Canada! Now, welcome to the stage, the Junior men’s single champion, Yuuri Katsuki of Japan!’] 

@mihana: ゆりくん!私はとても興奮しています!ああああ![Yuri-kun! I'm so excited! Aaaaaaah!] 

@NikeNikkie: So, this is the person who broke Viktor’s record? 

@EatGiacometti: Yes! 

@deluxenina: @NikeNikkie prepare yourself for the best short program- 

13 people are typing …. 

@mihana: 何してるの?カツキユウリ [What are you doing, Katsuki Yuuri?!] 

@EatGiacometti: That is not his short program costume. 

@PViktor: When is Viktor coming on 

@SarenFigure: WOW

@figureskatingpsycho: Now that ’s a costume, oh my god 

@FinestFigureSkating: He’s so freaking pretty O.O 

@NikeNikkie: That’s Katsuki?! O.O 

@SarenFigure: @NikeNikkie Isn’t he the most gorgeous person you’ve ever seen?

@NikeNikkie: He’s so attractive wtf 

@HockeyHouse: That costume oh my god, you sure it’s not a competition piece? 

@skatingfox: Why is Yuuri’s gala outfit better than most people’s competitive costume T.T 

@EatGiacometti: No, because I’m literally gasping for air, those fucking sleeves  

@NikeNikkie: You said he was going to perform his short program! What is this?! 

[The camera is focused on Yuuri as he makes his way towards the center of the rink. His eyes are closed and his hair is swept back. The stage lights are a bright contrast to the teal hues of his costume. The commentator states “Katsuki is performing a new piece, which he titled ‘The Sounds of Hasetsu: Tenkyuu’. After breaking the world record in the short program and the combined total score, all eyes are on Japan’s Yuuri Katsuki.” 

Yuuri takes a deep breath, and then the music starts.] 

 

*** 

 

trending (worldwide) . sports 

 

Yuuri Katsuki 

12k tweets 

 

Yuuri 

11k tweets

 

Sounds of Hasetsu 

12k 

 

Japan

71k tweets

 

#BeijingGala 

19k tweets

 

#GPF

20k tweets

 

***

 

ASAHI SPORTS CENTRE @Asahi_Sports

はしつ音:ジュニアグランプリチャンピオン、ユウリ・カツキ選手が故郷の輝きを世界に披露

[Sounds of Hasetsu: Junior Grand Prix Champion, Katsuki Yuuri-senshu shows the world the brilliance of his hometown] 

The Mainichi News - Sports ✓  @毎日新聞

ガラ展:カツキユリ選手は、彼のショーを止めるガラパフォーマンスで日本の優雅さを例示します

[Gala Exhibition: Katsuki Yuuri-senshu exemplifies the elegance of Japan in his show-stopping gala performance] 

讀賣新聞 @Yomiuri_Sports

琴の音:カツキユウリ選手が故郷を北京の高みへと導く

[The sounds of Koto: Katsuki Yuuri-senshu brings his hometown to the heights of Beijing] 

東京スポーツ ✓  @TokyoSports

日本のジュニアエース:カツキユウリセンシュは、彼の美しいガラパフォーマンスで故郷と日本に敬意を表しています。

[Japan's Junior Ace: Katsuki Yuuri-senshu pays homage to his hometown and Japan with his beautiful gala performance.]

NHK SPORTS ✓  @NHK+Sports 

意見: ハセツの音:カツキユウリ選手のガラ展が画期的な理由。

[(OPINION): The Sounds of Hasetsu:  Why Katsuki Yuuri-senshu’s Gala Exhibition is groundbreaking.] 

続きを読む …

[Read more … ]

The Sounds of Hasetsu: Why Katsuki Yuuri-senshu’s Gala Exhibition at the Grand Prix Final in Beijing is groundbreaking. 

It is an understatement to say that for the past ten years, figure skating has been dominated by Europe, currently being spearheaded by the prodigal-genius of Russia’s Viktor Nikiforov, who won his first senior title at sixteen years of age and won Olympic silver at nineteen, becoming the youngest Olympic medalist in over a century. 

Asia, in contrast, has failed to produce the greats that they once so heavily boasted back in the 1970s, with only recently, China’s Cao Bin medaling at senior events. No country feels this downturn trajectory more so than our own country, Japan.

After Sawamura Aiko won bronze at the Winter Olympic Games, their first and only figure skating medal, Japan has seen a steady decline in athletic achievements in comparison to their Western counterparts. 

Only a handful of Japanese female skaters have been invited to compete at ISU sanctioned events, even less so when you think of mens. 

Once seen as one of the country’s most popular sports, figure skating has fallen out of the public consciousness in favour of more profitable and popular sports like baseball and basketball. 

It’s no stretch to say this is a result of it’s penchant for victory, with Koshien becoming a staple in Japanese culture after the success of many of its players in both the NPB and MLB and Japanese basketball consistently ranking first as Japan’s favourite sport. 

In effect, figure skating is dying in Japan because athletes have failed to medal, bringing no merits to the public’s attention, unlike other competitive sports.   

The drop of figure skating from a national sport to one that is only remembered during the Olympic year, mirrors the fall of our country’s world placing. You can see this at last year’s World Championship, where the highest scoring Japanese male skater ranked 28th. He was Japan’s only qualifier for the event.

It seems to all that this downward trajectory would continue as the Olympic year draws closer and closer, but then, patterns never do take into account anomalies. 

The 13th December 20XX. The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final commences at Capitol Gymnasium Arena, Beijing, China.  

Most of our readers have most likely never heard of this competition before. But to athletes and fans alike, to be able to compete at the Grand Prix Final was indicative of your World standing.  After rigorous qualifying events, the top six athletes will compete across the four disciplines to crown the best of the best - the Grand Prix Champion. 

Japan only had three teams qualify in the senior bracket - Takahashi Riku in ladies, Sato Hitomi and Yuma Takemi in pairs, and finally the current face of Japanese figure skating, ice dancers Kihara Yumi and Yamaguchi David. There was only one Junior skater to even qualify for the event, a skater named Katsuki Yuuri, aged 18. 

Perhaps our readership recognises the name from a few years ago. Since I have been employed at NHK Sports, I have closely followed Katsuki’s career since his time as a novice. In fact, I can say without a doubt that I am one of his staunchest supporters.

But I write today, not as one of his fans, but as a reporter. With all my years as a journalist under NHK, what I witnessed during the Junior Grand Prix Final was nothing short of insanity. 

If figure skating is a small community within Japan, junior competitions are miniscule . Yet, when I attended the All-Japan Junior Championships, better known as Junior Nationals, the magnitude under which Katsuki-senshu commanded the stage left me speechless. 

Under a new coach, Katsuki-senshu decimated the competition. With a new short program and a complete rehaul of his long program, both of which he himself choreographed, Katsuki won the championships with points to spare. Coming into the Finals however, he was not a favourite to win. In fact, Katsuki had barely scraped by the qualifying event. 

Even though those of us who were able to watch the magnetism that Katsuki showed during his mesmerising performance at Junior Nationals, the international audience did not even know his name. There was no expectation for our only Junior skater at the Finals. 

And then he stepped on to the ice, and all the world could do was watch in awe

Viktor Nikforov is the face of figure skating. He is the reigning World Champion, two-time European Champion and, after winning this year’s Grand Prix Final in the senior division, he won two, consecutive, Grand Prix Champion titles. He has been unbeatable, and nothing says this more than his Junior World Records. For over four years, Junior skaters have tried to break his old world records and no-one had ever come close. 

Katsuki-senshu did. 

After setting a new world record, he then went on to win the title, becoming Japan’s first Junior Grand Prix Champion in over three years (the last, ironically, had been Katsuki-senshu himself, who had won the title when he was fourteen). 

He cemented himself back in the international audience's eye, with a short program score of 84.04. In layman's terms, the sixth place at Senior men’s event was 72.83. Katsuki had beaten the senior skater by over 11.21 points. 

His technical merit and command over the ice is nothing like anything we’ve seen before from a Japanese skater. Katsuki’s short program score proves that he could compete at senior level and could very-well medal at some events too. 

Then, yesterday happened. The 16th December - the Gala Exhibition. 

After each major figure skating competition, there is an exhibition program that is set up by the hosting nation’s federation. It is where athletes can interact with fans and celebrate their achievements, showing performances that exemplify their individuality that is sometimes lost under the strict regulation of competitive ice skating. 

All Grand Prix finalists were invited to perform, with only the Junior champions of each discipline allocated a spot within the beginning of the event. When everyone was itching for juniors to end so that the main event, the senior athletes, could start, Katsuki-senshu stepped on the ice, the last Junior skater to perform. 

There was a hush around the arena - everyone there had seen his performance earlier the week. Most Junior skaters had opted to re-perform their short program, and there was anticipation from the audience that they could see the program that had broken Viktor Nikiforov’s record once again. 

He did not perform his short program, like everyone, myself included, assumed he would. 

No, Katsuki-senshu entered the ice, wearing a beautiful kimono-inspired costume, set alight with gold trimming and teal-accents. He looked like a Crown Prince from a manga, a figure from a Japanese historical painting - he looked ethereal under the spotlights at the Capitol Gymnasium. 

With a program he titled ‘Sounds of Hasetsu: Tenkyuu’, Katsuki-senshu changed everything. 

Before I explain why, I would like to give some context to our readership. 

For the past few years, there has been criticism aimed towards the International Skating Union (the ISU) and it’s judging system. I would like our readership to know that connecting steps (or transitional elements as they are also known) are an integral part of the judging system within figure skating. 

Between jump elements, there are points that need to be met - one of which asks that jumping passes are integrated within the program. And then, the quadruple jump became a staple in men’s figure skating. 

The quadruple jump needs time for the skater to build up appropriate speed. It means that programs nowadays are filled with long loading times, where skaters simply do two-footed skating in order to pick up speed. Viktor Nikiforov himself utilises this, having a long loading time so he can build up speeds before a quadruple jump. 

Even though it means that they do not meet one of the criterias of the judging system, most skaters say that it’s worth it. Why? Because the base value of a quadruple jump is so high. Most critics would argue that the high reward of quadruple jump inhibits the very core of figure skating - it’s artistry. 

This can be seen with the future generation of skaters coming up to seniors - more and more, skaters are prioritising quadruple jumps in their programs. We have yet to see a skater perform two quadruple jumps in one program, but it’s become general practice that most skaters try to include a quad into at least one of their programs. The top male skaters, Nikiforov, Giacometti and Cao, all attempt to do a quadruple jump per program - one in the short, one in the free. 

For most traditionalists, figure skating is no longer an artistry sport, but a jumping competition. That is the background from which Katsuki-senshu competes. 

Despite sporting incredible technical ability, Katsuki-senshu’s biggest merit as a skater is his musicality. He includes transitional elements into all of his jump entries, the most impressive of which is a back-counter triple axel. These transitional elements present his jumps as part of the routine, as if they were simply dance elements rather than requirements of the competition. They have purpose within the performance. 

For those who do not know, the triple axel is one of the hardest jumps that a figure skater can do that is not a quadruple jump. Similar to quads, the jump is also subjected to long loading times.

Katsuki-senshu threw the figure skating world into a loop when he did a back-counter connecting step as his entry into a triple axel. It has never been done before. 

What this means is that Katsuki-senshu’s jump was fully integrated into the competition - there is no telling that a jump would even occur, because it is disguised under the guise of connecting step elements. 

He is a technical mastermind, and yet, when it came to show who he is as a skater at the Gala Exhibition, Katsuki-san did not include a single jump element.

Performing to ‘Tenkyuu’, a traditional koto piece that exemplifies Japanese history and tradition, Katsuki-senshu embodied the strength and grace of Japan for the world to see.

In a time when gala performances are a mirror to a skater’s soul, Katsuki-san’s choreography was a love-letter to the sport he loves and the country that raised him. 

Paying homage to his hometown, Katsuki-senshu showed the world that there is a figure skater from the country of Japan that will fight with the behemoth Western countries. Japan was here to stay.

Only time will tell what his senior career will shape up to be, but at this moment in time, all I can do is watch in amazement everytime Katsuki-senshu skates. I hope his future is as bright as his art. 

もろおか ひさし [Morooka Hisahi],

figure skating commentator and

sports journalist, NHK Sports.

 

***

 

k-yumi1989  32m. 

Imperial Hotel, Beijing, Republic of China  

[PHOTO: A set of four pictures. The first picture, the one that shows up on Yumi’s feed, is of herself, David and Yuuri. 

They’re outside what looks like a lobby entrance, with fancy wall art and long, ceiling lights that give an elegant ambience to the photo. Yumi is in a slinky, floor-length black dress that seeps around her like second skin, whilst David is wearing a matching, all-black, three-piece suit. Yuuri is in between the two of them, wearing a tailored black suit that’s unbuttoned to reveal his white shirt and matching black tie. They all look incredible. 

The second picture is of all the other Japanese athletes, sitting together at the same table, with varying amounts of peace signs and thumbs up thrown around. The next picture is of David, Yumi, their coach, and Sato Hiroto, the JSF official in charge of the senior division. 

The last picture is of David with his mouth wide open, inhaling a flute of champagne with something you can only describe as crackhead energy.] 

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by v-nikiforov, christophe-gc, d.yamaguchi and 12,012 others

k-yumi1989 : #チームジャパン ガラ展宴会で!

[#TeamJapan at the Gala Exhibition Banquet!] 

View all 1272  comments 




r-takahashi 21m.

Imperial Hotel, Beijing, Republic of China  

[PHOTO: A picture of Riku Takhashi, the Japanese representative for ladies’ singles at the Grand Prix Finals, her coach and the Junior Grand Prix Champion, Yuuri Katsuki.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by minako-okukawa, d.yamaguchi, k-yumi1989, and 281 others. 

r-takahashi : ジュニアグランプリチャンピオンのゆうりくんと一緒に!あなたが先輩に来るのを待つことができません!

[With the Junior Grand Prix Champion, Yuuri-kun! Can’t wait for you to come up to seniors!]

View all 92 comments 

 

 

 

d.yamaguchi  18m. 

Imperial Hotel, Beijing, Republic of China  

[VIDEO: An instagram story with the captions, “時間の男” which translates to ‘Man of the Hour’ and “彼らはとても速く成長します ๐·°(৹˃̵﹏˂̵৹)°·๐ ” which translates to “They grow up so fast”. The story is a zoomed in video of Yuuri talking to Sato Hiroto, the senior division JSF official. At the end of the conversation, he bows extremely politely towards the elderly man, before turning towards David’s direction, sighing in relief before he realises that he is being recorded. His face turns into a pout as he waddles towards the older skater, who you can hear laughing in the background of the video.]  

send message  ➤ 




christophe-gc 10m

Imperial Hotel, Beijing, Republic of China  

[PHOTO: A sequence of photos of Yuuri and Christophe, posing outside of the banquet venue. The first one is very dapper, where Chrisophe has his elbow on Yuuri’s shoulder, and the two of them look like something straight out of a photoshoot. The next few pictures however, show the reality and complete chaos that is Christophe and Yuuri when they are together, showing the slow descent of madness as Christophe loses his footing and then collapses on top of Yuuri. The last picture is of the two of them sprawled on the floor, dying of laughter.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by v-nikiforov, d.yamaguchi, sara-crispino, and 626,821 others

christophe-gc : The bestie finally made it to the big stage 😘  

View all 2201 comments 




v-nikiforov 21m

Imperial Hotel, Beijing, Republic of China  

[PHOTO: Viktor, with a glass of champagne between his fingers, staring at the camera. It’s a professional picture of his outfit, a bespoked, two-piece suit, obviously taken with a camera and not a phone. His suit jacket is fasted at the front by two, golden buttons, exposing his white, mesh undershirt. It’s see-through, exposing a sliver of skin that is tasteful but alluring. His hair is pulled back into a sleek, high ponytail. He is a vision to behold.]  

♡ 💬  ➤ 

liked by nike-official, louisvuitton, i-askarov, adriana-ferreira and 1,101,212 others  

v-nikiforov : Готовы отпраздновать банкетный ужин в честь #BeijingGPF! Спасибо моим друзьям из LV и @ adriana.ferreira за то, что сшили мне костюм!

[Ready to celebrate at the banquet dinner for the #BeijingGPF! Thank you to my friends at LV and @adriana-ferrerira for making my suit!] 

View all 988,210 comments 

***

Imperial Hotel

Beijing, China 

The Gala Exhibition Banquet Dinner 

19:00 PM 

 

Yuuri is feeling a lot of emotions and he is too sober to deal with it. 

Banquets. He’s been to far too many, more than he ever thought he would’ve. Viktor would never let him live down their fated first meeting. It became known as the Banquet™

Each year, one of his friends, usually Phichit, would remind everyone of the Banquet™ as soon as Yuuri was holding a flute of champagne. Viktor would have far too much fun in teasing Yuuri, wrapping his arms around his waist tightly and declaring that this time around, he would not let Yuuri go for fear of him disappearing again.  

It had become an inside joke between their inner circle, enough so that just experiencing the ambience of the event was giving Yuuri a migraine.

The atmosphere itself was strange to say the least. 

For one, Yuuri couldn’t drink this time around. It wouldn’t be so bad if Yuuri could drink, but alas, one of the JSF attendants had pulled him aside, suggesting that even though it was legal for him to drink in China, he was still two years away from becoming legal in Japan, and that he had a reputation to uphold, now that he was the face of Japan. 

That had sent Yuuri into a slight meltdown - he could feel a slight tremor fill every movement he made, coiling around his body like lightning about to strike him at any moment if he so much as looked at the pyramid of champagne at the center of the banquet. 

Miyamoto was nowhere to be seen, and Minako had disappeared sometime when the Federation staff had cornered him next to the chocolate fountain machine.

Surprisingly, his saviour had been Sato-san. 

Yuuri had thought the elderly man, who was the Japanese Federation’s representative (Yuuri made a mental post-it-note that he is very important for future reference), would tell him the exact same thing that the other officials had. 

Instead, he had clapped Yuuri on the back, warding off further talk about his ‘duty to always look perfect’ by the other officials, who had clammed up at the sight of the elder man.  Sato-san had steered him away, through the large crowd of other federations, a warm hand guiding him away from danger. 

“Our people mean well, Katsuki-san. They’re a little overly eager, but it’s because they’ve never had someone with as much potential as you. The time will come when you will need to perform,  as they say ‘your duty’, but for now?” He shrugs, the dimple of his smile-lines deepening. 

“You are young. Enjoy yourself.” 

His eyes had been alight with something akin to mischief, and he motioned towards David, who walked towards the two of them, eyes stretching out into a smile of his own. “I look forward to seeing you grow, Katsuki-san.” 

David and Sato-san fell into familiar chatter. The elderly man mentioned something to David, who in turn nods with an uncommon seriousness, before he gives his farewell and disappears amongst the crowd of other federation members. David then latches on to Yuuri, linking their arms and dragging him towards a circular table near the back of the room. 

Yuuri recognised the other members there, skaters from his own country. Yumi waved brightly, and David nudged him into a seat before the food was served. It was fairly simple, small portions of palatable food, aimed at a mostly European audience. He had spotted Christophe further away, next to some other skaters from his rink, inhaling the creamy pasta. 

Yuuri’s eyes travel across the rest of the banquet hall, noticing Sara attempting to seduce a French skater, all whilst Michele is latched at her side. He laughs to himself, turning his eyes away when suddenly, he feels his blood turn cold.  

“Fuck.” Yuuri whispers, horrified. 

Minako. There she was, drowning what was her third champagne flute of the night, sitting at the designated coaching table. Clad in a deep, navy-blue power suit, she’s sitting in between Celestino and Yakov , of all people.

She catches his eye from across the room, sends a cheery wink his way, and then completely ignores him . He needs to get out of here. Like fast. 

By the time the deserts are well and truly scraped off all the plates, Yuuri barely notices the crowd of people that flock towards him. Selfies and photographs are taken, in fact, Yuuri barely even realises what’s happening, too blinded by the flash of cameras to understand what is going on. 

When he’s finally released from their clutches, Yuuri realises he had been in the smallest of crowds. Tables are cleared by waiters with graceful practice, and soon the room is filled with idle chatter. There was a person playing piano at the front of the hall, a gentle song, classical of some kind (Yuuri vaguely recognised it as a Liszt piece, one that was a personal favourite of his mother). 

It was a tasteful evening, as all banquets should be. 

Christophe was somewhere amongst the chatter, weaving in and out of conversations with the grace of an extrovert. He notices Yuuri at the periphery, eyes promising mischief, and swivels his head around to find Minako. He takes one look at Yuuri’s coach who is having some kind of chat on Yakov’s phone, and makes a signal towards the back door. 

It would’ve worked, except Christophe is about as subtle as a six-pile car crash on the highway. So, obviously, Minako notices. 

Yuuri groans to himself, burying his face in his hands. Is it too late to act like he has no idea who Chris is?

David circles his arms around Yuuri’s shoulder, laughing outright as Christophe tries to make his way towards them, until he is engulfed by another crowd of his friends from seniors, offering congratulations. Yuuri tenses when he recognises the group. 

It’s Viktor, linking an arm through Christophe’s and dragging him amongst the star-studded group. There’s China’s Cao Bin, the only person of Asian descent who had made it to the final - the bronze medalist. Alexander Ricci, of Italy and James Richard of America were flanking either side of Viktor’s shoulders, like bodyguards ready to protect the Crown Prince. Arthur Dupont, the French skater who had just missed out on the podium, was sending very appreciative glances at Christophe’s ass. Yuuri quickly looked away, for fear that he may actually throw up. 

Young Viktor and his group of superstar skaters were really in a completely different world.  

Perhaps it’s because his first introduction to Viktor was a blurry haze of drunken amnesia, but Yuuri did not know if it was technically possible for him to go up and talk to Viktor. Was there a rule of some sorts? A ‘ Don’t you dare touch the King, it’s treasonous! Off with his head!’ kind of thing? Yuuri was too drunk to know if he somehow made himself become a social outcast, but inn his defence, in that timeline, Viktor had crashed through the doors of Yu-Topia Katsuki, fucking naked in front of Yuuri when they first met. 

There wasn’t a lot that didn’t make Yuuri embarrassed about it, but all of the tension had zapped out of him because Viktor had been the one to make the first move. By the time Yuuri had responded, Viktor was apparently already halfway in love. 

This time it was different. Viktor himself was amongst a golden crowd, surrounded by suitors and sponsors alike, all clamouring to get a photo with the two-time Grand Prix Champion. There was no way Yuuri could just waltz up and introduce himself. 

It also didn’t help that Viktor looked fucking mouthwatering

Unlike a generic black suit that everyone in the room seemed to be wearing, Viktor’s body clung itself to a bespoked, emerald-coloured two-piece. It was tailored to his every muscle, clinging like a second skin with every movement he made. 

The cut was sharp , his torso exposed in a clean vee, exposing a sheer, white tulle-kind of blouse underneath. The piece was made of some kind of soft material, a velvet-skin that contrasted with all the sharp edges of Viktor’s angular features. It made Yuuri’s mouth drier than a desert. 

And his hair . Yuuri’s jaw still hurts from the way it had unhinged itself when Viktor had walked in through the banquet halls alongside Yakov and Mila. 

His long, gorgeous, silver hair was pulled back into a tight, sleek ponytail, no strand out of place. He looked like one of those statues in the Museums that he used to drag Yuuri around all the time- like someone had carved him out of marble, lovingly moulding each intricate slope of his features so that they would be gazed at for all eternity. Yuuri had never been one to appreciate art, but suddenly, he could understand the itch to preserve something so beautiful. 

Viktor stood there, untouchable . An idol made to look, but not to touch. 

Something cowardly wrapped itself around Yuuri’s chest, making it hard to breathe. He knew the thought of Viktor as some kind of Herculean deity, placed on a pedestal to be adored by the masses, was wrong to do - Viktor was human , and as was the human condition, he too felt loneliness and despair. 

To think of Viktor as this godly idol was to do him a disservice. Yuuri knew that, and yet his stomach still churned at the very thought of speaking to him - because this wasn’t his Viktor. 

He was young, hair long and flowing around him. He was not the twenty-seven year old who had been on the top for decades, who people had asked at every waking moment when he was going to retire, what his plans were for the future, when he was leaving the sport. He was not a Viktor who, for years, already had the entire world curled in his palm. He was not the Viktor who was tired of the game. 

This Viktor was young, he was bursting with energy. Maybe, if Yuuri had time-travelled to the year after Saratov, when Viktor had won all there was to win, when he had chopped off his beloved hair in a bid to reinvent himself, who clung so desperately at a game that he already won because it was his whole life , things would’ve been different. That Viktor was more familiar, a Viktor that Yuuri knew how to handle.  

There is a flush of anger that floods through him, justifiable in his mind. How could Yuuri think that any part of Viktor was hard to deal with? How dare he? He, of all people, knew the pain and loneliness that Viktor had felt throughout his entire career. Why, why was he so scared to just speak to him?  

For months, Yuuri had slaved away for this exact moment. The whole point of continuing to compete was so that, somehow, he could escape the trapped, monotony of life that Hasetsu had caused to fester inside of him, one that was far away from the glitz and glamour of Viktor. 

He wanted to grasp at anything to do with his former life, and the only way to do that was competing. 

He had thought just seeing Viktor from afar would be enough, that it would tide him over, calm the storm that was inside him. Viktor was the eye of the storm, the calmness within a calamity. 

Yuuri needed him - needed to know that he was okay, that he could survive at the center of the storm, even if he was alone. Now, looking at him amongst the dazzle of the lights and the adoration of the world, Yuuri, horribly, feels small. 

Because that's the bottom line. 

Yuuri is scared that Viktor won’t want him this time around.  

Just thinking those words makes Yuuri want to crawl inside himself, to give up on even surviving in this timeline. He knows that it’s his brain repeating a worst-case scenario, but if he never goes up to Viktor, then Viktor can never be disappointed in him, right? 

He just wants Viktor so much , that now, when he was only a breath away, Yuuri’s cowardice strikes. It was like an itch had formed at the center of his spine, constantly uncomfortable but too far away for his arms to reach and relieve it. Seeing Viktor from afar is not enough. But to reach out, to feel so much and so suddenly, Yuuri felt a flush of shame flood through him. He feels caged

“I- I need to go to the restroom.” 

He doesn’t look closely to see if David hears him over the noise of the crowd. All Yuuri could think about was getting as far away from the room as possible. 

The bathroom wasn’t far across the lobby, a pour of visitors still making their way towards the doors of the gala. Yuuri feels like a fish swimming against the time, slivering through the small gaps as fast as he can without touching anyone. He doesn’t want to be noticed. 

The bathroom is huge, the kind of restroom you’d expect at a fancy establishment. There are tall, floor-length mirrors and sinks made out of marble. An accent wall is painted an opulent emerald, with panelling all across in structured, squared boxes - the same colour as Viktor’s jacket. 

Yuuri sharply inhales and tries to focus on something else. There are towels on the marble countertops, rolled up inside pine-coloured baskets, bunched together to look like a bouquet of flowers. It’s so extravagant and lavish that Yuuri feels like a fake for even stepping into the room.

He’s, blessedly , alone in the restroom. Patting cold water on his face, he waits in hope for the coldness to numb his face, or at the very least, be enough of a shock to get him out of this stupor. 

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, counts backwards from 100 and tries to calm the shuddering way his heart thrums against his chest. He wants his sister, wants Minako- needs someone-

“You okay there, kid?” 

Yuuri’s body turns cold, eyes clenching down fiercely. His brain is going into overdrive - danger, there’s danger, not safe, not safe- His fists turn white, gripping the corner of the marble counter. He doesn’t know what he says, but suddenly, there is a warm hand resting on his clenched hands, smoothing them out of their flexed grip. 

“Let’s take a deep breath.” The man speaks out the words in a deep and kind voice. It’s warm, familiar , and Yuuri feels his body start to relax. 

“That’s it, you’re doing a great job, kid.”

“- ory - '' Yuuri's voice rips out of his throat, guttural and thick. “Sorry.” He repeats, shoving the word out of his mouth, as clear as he can. “I’m- I usually handle it better.” 

“You’re doing amazing.” There is no lie in the man’s voice. “Let’s talk about something else.” Shift your focus , Yuuri remembers the words Celestino had taught him. “How many wood panels can you see on the wall?”

“Four.” 

“You’re right. They’re all connected to make a little square. Can you see that?” Yuuri finally squeezes his eyes open, turning back towards the emerald green wall. His breath hitches at the colour, but he focuses on the lines of wood that are jutting out. He follows each connected panel, and nods his head when he sees the squares. 

“Yeah.” He gasps out. 

“Good. How many towels are in the basket?”

One, two, three, four, five. “Six. Six towels.” His words come out along with his breath, wheezing out in a sharp exhale. His shoulders lax at the same time. 

“Very good. Take one more deep breath for me.” 

Yuuri listens to the voice. He feels the air being sucked up through his mouth, feels it travelling within his body, towards all the trembling parts of his limbs. He’s returning back to himself. Throughout it all, the warm presence of a hand on his arm stays, bringing him back inside his body. 

“Well done.” The arm pats him, and Yuuri shudders his eyes open. 

“You’re Yuuri, right?” 

(America is scary, is the first thing Yuuri thinks to himself after stepping off the airplane. 

Nothing could have prepared him for Michigan, not the long layover hours or the stream of constant people surrounding him. 

Yuuri, renowned for hating confrontation, had to wrangle his way through the baggage carousel against the hundreds of students all coming over for University. 

With his limited English, Yuuri couldn’t help but feel like he was just a blight on the landscape. Everyone here knew someone else, linking arms with friends or hugging relatives. If not, at least they could speak the language. All at once, he could feel panic start to swell through his body. Yuuri was a small fish in a huge ocean, and he was drowning. 

“You’re Yuuri, right?” 

Exhaustion lines the edges of Yuuri’s face as he stands there with only two suitcases, his beanie pushed down as far forward on his forehead as it can. 

He turns frantically towards the person speaking, recognising his name amongst all the noise of the airport. He tries stuttering out a response, “Hello. Nice to meet you.”, seems like a safe bet, but then he stumbles against the vowels, his tongue losing a battle with the foreign language. 

A man stands before him with a gentle smile. “I thought you might like having someone here to pick you up. It's nice to finally meet you in person, Yuuri. We’ve only ever talked through phone calls and emails! I’m Celestino, your coach.” ) 

“Yeah.” Yuuri breathes out. “Yuuri. My name is Yuuri.” 

***

The banquet is in full swing by the time Yuuri returns. It had only been half an hour, but the exhaustion had already crept into Yuuri’s bones. Celestino had told him that he would feel exhausted, and to at least have a nap somewhere to counter the effects of being emotionally drained. He would’ve done it too, but the thought of not speaking to Christophe at all today had waned on his conscience. He had promised to at least try to be social. 

With Celestino’s number firmally in his phone, Yuuri steels his heart and enters the room. The two of them make it back to the banquet hall, Celestino immediately being drawn into a conversation with some other coaches. 

Yuuri was hoping to say goodbye to Christophe and sneak back without being accosted by other people. It would’ve been easy, if Minako and Christophe weren't somehow drunker than an elephant inhaling water through its snout. 

Because that’s what Chris was doing, being a disappointment to his federation by snorting champagne. He chokes, which is deserved , egged on by Minako, both who are sitting at a table near the entrance, completely wasted. 

“Drinking champagne through your nose is so not worth it.” Christophe tears up, his voice is slurred and his shirt is a mess. His head snaps up as Yuuri makes his way towards them. 

“Yuuri!” He cries out. “My bestie! Come, come, have a drink! I saved you some champagne.” He gestures towards the table, where there are at least twenty empty champagne flutes. There is not a full one in sight. 

Minako’s head snaps up from where it’s laying on the table. “Yuuri can’t drink yet. The JSF said so.” 

“What?!” Christophe screams, outraged. “But he’s eighteen!” 

“The legal age is 20 in Japan.” Yuuri pulls Christophe into a sitting position, untangling the tie that is almost choking him. He tucks it into Christophe’s jacket pocket for safe keeping.

“But it's legal in China! I should know, I asked Bin specifically so we could celebrate!”

“Celebrate what?” Minako narrows her eyes. 

“It was supposed to be a late birthday present!” Christophe wails. “I was going to pay for his drinks, we could’ve gone clubbing!” 

He gasps loudly, grabbing Yuuri’s hand. “We could still sneak out. Here, I’ll find your coach and distract her with my charm and wit, and you can make a run for it!”  

“Nice, who are we distracting so that Yuuri can run away?” David pops up behind, materialising from thin air and evidently not drunk, despite downing a worrying amount of alcohol. 

“Yuuri’s coach!” Christophe cackles. 

Yumi follows behind David, immediately coming to wrap an arm around Yuuri’s shoulder, keeping him rooted at her side. “Where were you, hotshot? Everyone wanted a picture with the resident history maker, but he disappeared from the public eye.”

“Heh.” Yuuri rubs the back of his neck. “Bathroom. Anyway, Chris is trying to distract my coach so that we can leave to get drunk at some club.”  

David raises an eyebrow, looking between Christophe and Minako pointedly. 

“Yeah I know. He told her the plan before he told me.”

“Yuuri, Yuuri, look here! I made a new friend, her name’s Min-adgaasds.” Christophe’s mouth slurs over the words. “She’s a ballet teacher! You did ballet! You’ll like her! She outdrank me like a champ.”

“Christophe.” Yuuri grabs his friend’s shoulders. “Minako is my coach.”

Chris’ mouth drops open.

“She,” Yuuri stabs his thumb towards Minako, who’s grinning broadly. “Is my Coach. Minako Okukawa.”

“No she isn’t.” Christophe’s forehead scrunches up. “She’s a ballerina .”

“Yes. She’s also my coach.” 

Chris gasps loudly. “She’s a ballerina and a coach?”

“Correct.”

Wow .” Christophe turns to Minako, eyes exaggeratingly wide. “You’re so cool.”

“Thank you, Christophe.” She snickers. 

“Wait, why is a ballerina your coach, Yuuri?” 

“I think we’re getting sidetracked. Please, tell me why you’re going to distract me so Yuuri can escape.” She raises an eyebrow, winking devilishly when Christophe’s face turns red. 

“We… we were going to sneak him into a club.”

“Yuuri hates loud noises, especially when it’s a crowd of people.” 

“Then we can go to a bar! Anywhere where he can drink.” 

Yuuri pinches the bridge of his nose. “Okay, I think there’s been enough alcohol consumption at this event to last a lifetime. Let’s go back to the hotel and sober up.”

“No! Christophe is right!” Minako grabs Yuuri’s arm, winking. “We should be having a late birthday party with you! Come on, we’ll have a small nap and then go out! David, Yumi, join us!” 

“Nope, we’re going to the hotel. Senpai, can you help me with Christophe?” 

***

“You got your ID?” 

“Does a Japanese license count?” Yuuri glowers, holding it out. “I didn’t want to bring my passport.” 

“You have your license?” Christophe grapples it out of his hand, far more sober than earlier. “Since when?”

“Since I was 16.” 

“It’s a motorcycle license.” Minako pipes up from the side. “He still has to take the car test before he graduates high school - have you done the written exam yet?”

“I’m doing it after Worlds.” 

“You have a motorcycle? ” 

“Nope. I have a bicycle.” Yuuri laughs at Christophe’s questioning look. “My sister has a motorcycle, which I use occasionally. She does deliveries for the inn, so I needed to have the license in case I had to take over.” 

“I- the more I learn about you, the more I am amazed.” Christophe shakes his head. “You can ride a motorcycle .” 

“Yeah, yeah. We established that. Come on, let’s go.” Yuuri shivers, zipping up his hoodie. “It’s fucking cold .”

“Who told you to wear just a hoodie?”

“I’m not wearing a nice sweatshirt when I know we’re going to end up in a ditch somewhere, since you and Chris are already drunk.”

“I resent that!” Christophe gasps loudly. “I was drunk. That one-hour nap in your room did me wonders . I’m serious, your mattress is so much better than mine. Where are we meeting David and Yumi?” 

“I can’t believe you’re coherent enough to remember that we’re meeting them.” 

“You haven’t seen me actually drunk yet. It’s a sight to behold.” 

Yuuri’s nose scrunches in disgust. “I’m sure.” 

They make their way towards the Imperial Hotel, where David and Yumi are waiting outside, clad in their own, comfortable clothes. David immediately beelines towards Yuuri, slinging an arm around him. “So, what’s the agenda for the birthday boy?”

Yuuri’s cheeks flush furiously. “My birthday was two week ago.”

“But we’re celebrating it now!” He cries. “In Beijing of all places! Where to start?”

“Can we eat first?” Yuuri motions towards Minako and Christophe, who each have linked their arms through Yumi’s, clinging on for dear life. They are definitely still feeling the aftereffects of the banquet’s champagne. “I want them to eat before we inevitably end up drinking again.”

“A mature choice.” He leans a hand up to ruffle Yuuri’s hair. “Baby, what’s the nearest restaurant?”

Yumi’s eyes turn into slits. She looks pointedly towards her arms, which are full with keeping Minako and Christophe from falling over. “Call me baby, and I’ll break your dick.”

“Is that a promise ?” 

Yuuri mimes throwing up towards Yumi, who laughs loudly. “Darling, I will castrate you in your sleep.”

David cackles, pulling out his own phone and searching for the nearest open restaurant. Beijing is cold at night, but the ambience is something out of a movie. There are red lanterns hanging from lampposts, illuminating the street in arrays of golden hues. Hundreds of people are milling around, holding warm drinks in their hands as they meander through the crowds of people. 

“Wait, have you tried the night markets yet?” 

Yuuri’s eyes widened. “Where’s the closest one?”

“20 minutes. I’ll order a DiDi .” 

The others are on board with the street food idea, waiting patiently as a large, six-seater cab comes to pick up all five of them. By the time they make it to Wangfujing Food Street, the smell from outside has them salivating. 

“Ooh!” David yells at Yumi to follow them, dragging Yuuri to the closest vendor. There’s an array of steamed baozi and jianbing

“Can we have four xiaolongbao and three vegetable ones, please?” Yuuri, after speaking a mix of his awful Mandarin, English and Japanese, finally orders for the group. They inhale their dumplings, sucking in some broth that was given to them in little, takeaway cups. It’s the best food Yuuri has eaten, better than the banquet. 

Minako and Chris seem to get better as the night progresses, and they end up walking through the night markets, sampling as much Beijing delicacies as they could. Yumi snaps some pictures of them together, tagging everyone on her Instagram. “Yuuri, what’s your username?” 

Minako cackles loudly. Christophe sighs mournfully. 

“What?” Yumi asks, confused.

“Our Yuuri doesn’t have social media.” 

Yuuri blushes deeply. “I don’t look good in pictures.” 

Yumi’s mouth drops open. David chokes on his lamb skewer. They both look at each other in disbelief. “Yuuri, you went viral on twitter the other day.”

I did what?!”

“Shhh!” Minako wraps an arm around Yuuri’s neck from behind, placing a hand on his forehead and shoving his head back into the space by her neck. “There, there. No need to think about it.”

Christophe pouts. “I’ve been trying to get him to open one for years . He’s as elusive as the wind.”

David is still gaping. “You’re eighteen. Okuakawa -sensei has an Instagram.”

“Is that a dig at my age, Yamaguchi?” 

Yuuri ignores Minako, biting off a piece of lamb. “It’s not that big of a deal.” 

“It’s actually really sad.” Minako commiserates with Yumi. “He doesn’t realise how photogenic he is.” 

“I’m actually in shock.” She cries. Minako pats her shoulder, symbolically showing her support. 

“Isn’t this supposed to be my birthday present? Why is everyone making fun of me?” 

“Fine, fine.” Chris rolls his eyes. “What does the birthday boy want to do now?”

Yuuri looks around, eyes focusing on the shift of the crowd. It’s late now, almost eleven. They don’t look like they’d be allowed inside a club, not with the insane Beijing fashion. Suddenly, his ears pick up on some music, turning towards the entrance of a colourful bar-type place. 

Laughing, Yuuri’s face stretches into a wicked grin.  

***

d.yamaguchi  3h

Wangfujing Food Street, Beijing, China  

[PHOTO: A set of three pictures. The one that shows up on his feed is a very nicely shot picture of two boxes of baozi, the steam emitting from the food being showcased through the photo. The next picture is of Yuuri, mouth drooling at the snack box. The next is a short clip of Christophe, suffering because of the spiciness of the dumpling. David is heard cackling behind the camera.] 

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by sara-crispino, mari-k, v-nikiforov and 172,132

d.yamaguchi :  @christophe-gc can’t handle the spice 🌶️ 🌶️ 🌶️ 

View all 812 comments 

 

 

 

k-yumi . 3h  

Lucky Voice Karaoke, Beijing, China  

[VIDEO: Yuuri is impeccably rapping “Slim Shady” by Eminem, English lyrics and all. The hood of his jacket is thrown up over his head and he’s rapping to David, who’s got an arm around him, hyping him up. The camera then pans to Chris who’s attempting to twerk on beat, but he’s just flailing around, his drink flying everywhere. Suddenly, the camera flips from the back camera to the front so that it’s in selfie-mode, as Yumi looks at the camera with a deadpan expression, and then downs her beer can.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by  v-nikiforov, caobin1982 and 117,231 others

k-yumi1989 : 彼らは2時間以上これにいます。ヘルプを送信 

[They’ve been at this for over two hours. Send help.] 

View all 721 comments 




christophe-gc 2h 

Lucky Voice Karaoke, Beijing, China  

[VIDEO: The camera is focused on Christophe and Minako, next to the karaoke screen, belting out a rendition of happy birthday. The camera pans to Yuuri, who’s wearing a child’s birthday hat on his head, the string digging into his neck uncomfortably. David is seen filming the whole thing on his camera, sitting beside Yuuri. Christophe tries to outshine Minako, adding a little run at the end of ‘You’, but his voice cracks loudly. Yumi can be heard off-camera saying ‘I got that on camera!’. The video then pans towards Yuuri, who is dying , head thrown back in screeching laughter.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by k-yumi1989, d.yamaguchi, minako-okukawa, v-nikiforov and 421,852 more 

christophe-gc : A very late birthday present for my favourite person in the world, Yuuri! Video credit: @k-yumi1989  

View all 421 comments

***

Imperial Hotel

Beijing, China 

01:12AM 

 

“I’ll wait for you here.” Yuuri’s voice seeps happiness, giggling uncontrollably with Christophe, the two linking arms together tightly. 

“Someone needs to wait with you.” Minako sighs. “I can’t leave Yuuri drunk outside . What if someone sees him? The JSF will have my head.”

“I’m not drunk!” Yuuri cries. (He is only slightly tipsy.) 

David outright laughs, balancing his weight on Yumi’s tiny body. She glares up at him, sighing as if it pains her to have a six-foot beefcake (Chris’ words, not Yuuri’s) draped all over her. “I’m taking this one inside.”

“Oooh, at least buy my dinner first.” He screeches when one of Yumi’s pointed nails digs into his side. “Woman, you need to cut those claws.”

“Shut up.” She tightens her grip on the arm he has thrown across her shoulders. “Chris, you still need to take a shit?”

“Yep.” He detaches himself from Yuuri’s side, coming up to help Yumi grapple with David. “Wait for me, Yuuri and Yuuri’s ballerina coach! We’ll walk back to the hotel together.” 

Yuuri makes an ‘ok’ sign with his fingers, bringing it up so that it curls around one of his cheekbones. David coos at the sight. “Bye, bye, my beautiful kouhai . I love you!” 

“Love you too!” Yuuri flails his two arms above his head in an imitation of a wave as Yumi, Christophe and David disappear into the Imperial Hotel in hysterical laughter. 

“At least wait inside the lobby, Yuuri.” Minako sighs. 

Yuuri shakes his head. “Someone might notice me inside.`Sides, you’re just gonna ask the reception if they have your bag, right?”

Minako looks back to the hotel entrance, and then to Yuuri. “Okay. Here, you sit right there.” She maneuvers Yuuri so he’s sitting next to the door. “Do not move. I’ll only be ten minutes. You’ve got your phone?”

Yuuri sifts through his pocket, branding it out like a prize. 

“Good, keep it in your hand.”

He nods his head, tapping his shoes together as he slides down the wall. Minako leaves him with a heavy sigh, but it seems to be the hour that Yuuri has turned from a happy drunk into a sleepy drunk. She prays that nothing will happen for the ten minutes she’s gone.  

The cold air wakes Yuuri up, and he sighs softly, giggling at the sight of his air turning into frosty snow. His hoodie is thick around him, and he stuffs his hands into his pockets to keep them from turning frigid. 

It was a great late birthday, Yuuri smiles. It would’ve been better with Viktor, though. 

Yuuri heaves out a huge whine. He should’ve at least tried to talk to Viktor. He could’ve walked straight up and acted like a cute little kouhai - it worked with David! If he made a mess of himself, well he wouldn’t have to see Viktor for the rest of the year! 

Oh. Oh no

Yuuri’s a Junior! How did he forget that? The Grand Prix Final was the only competition where Seniors and Juniors were at the same event. He won’t see Viktor again at all for the rest of the season! What has he done? 

There’s no other option. He has to see him. Now

***

Viktor hates his life. 

The banquet had drawled on. When he first came to seniors, Viktor had been delighted by the spotlight and attention focused on him. He had eaten up the flattering compliments by sponsors, had winked impishly at older skaters, had drunk his fair share of expensive champagne to his heart’s delight - and yet, as he attends more and more of these events, the boredom starts to seep in. 

Somehow, in the time between Yakov walking Mila back for her curfew and returning back, Viktor had slipped out of the banquet. Leaving his blazer on a chair to make it seem to all those watching him that he would be back imminently, Viktor had taken the first opportunity he could to escape out of the fire exit. 

He hated when the banquets were held in the same hotel he was staying at. There was nowhere to escape except for outside. Even he could tell that this time at the banquet, Viktor had been a mess

The heat of the room had caused his baby hairs to become a disarray of flyaways, and the tight pull of his ponytail was giving him a migraine. He didn’t think twice before yanking the hair tie out, wincing sharply at the pain that erupts. His hair probably has hundreds of crinks in it, bobby pins flying everywhere. He doesn’t care

It didn’t help that Katsuki had disappeared half-way through the banquet. No-one had seen where the Junior Grand Prix Champion had gone, and it had left Viktor in a sour mood. 

He finds himself outside. If he turns the corner, he’d be right next to the entrance. Sighing to himself, he finds a wall nearby, sliding to the ground. The cold had made his dark mood even worse. The alcohol in his veins was running overtime to keep him warm, but it wasn’t enough to make him tipsy , let alone drunk. Sometimes, he hates how impressive his tolerance is. 

Crouching on the floor, Viktor pulls out his phone. He pulls out his instagram, mildly amused as the rush of notifications pile up. At least here, people think he’s cool. It was a good fucking photo, angled perfectly so the lighing hit off his cheekbones. 

He looks down at himself now, sitting on the cold, dirty pavement, probably staining his sheer blouse. Ksenia will kill him. He hopes that security is good enough to keep unwarranted press and fans away from the area. It would really crimp his style if he’s seen looking like a beached whale. 

Once, he used to bask in the affection being thrown at him, but suddenly, it became harder and harder to keep everyone on his side. He tried everything in his power to keep people looking at him, to keep their eyes and affection and warmth on him. He had to surprise them to keep them interested. The constant need to be seen as perfect was burning him up. 

He’s just so tired , all the time. Bored and tired, the two adjectives that described his life. Viktor didn’t even think he could cry anymore, until he had watched Katsuki skate and more emotion in those three minutes than he had in a whole year. 

He goes towards his feed, scrolling through aimlessly. When his fingers automatically trail down his screen, the page refreshes and suddenly, there is an influx of new posts.

k-yumi1989 : 彼らは2時間以上これにいます。ヘルプを送信 

[They’ve been at this for over two hours. Send help.]

His throat tightens. He clicks on the post again, and again, and again.  

Katsuki, in all of his glory, having the time of his life. His head is thrown back in laughter, face split in a gorgeous smile. He’s wearing glasses . They’re circular, thin and silver, like Harry Potter glasses. It makes him look soft, nothing like earlier. 

Viktor’s brain malfunctions. There’s no other way to describe it. He can’t place this Katsuki with the one ingrained in his head. It can’t be him

He scrolls through the rest of his feed, until a video uploaded by Christophe pops up. 

christophe-gc: A very late birthday present for my favourite person in the world, Yuuri! Video credit: @k-yumi1989

The distinctive yelling of ‘Happy Birthday, Yuuuuuri’ that erupts out of his phone is enough to silence all thoughts in Viktor’s mind. His fingers click through the rest of Christophe’s page, seeing all the tagged pictures, finding David Yamaguchi and all of his pictures of Katsuki, but not a single one of them had tagged Katsuki’s account. 

How the fuck is Viktor supposed to talk to him if he’s always disappearing? What, is Katsuki just going to drop from the sky right into Viktor’s lap-

VITYA!”

Viktor shrieks, his phone slamming into his lap. Oh god, is there a fan her- Viktor blinks slowly, eyes not computing what he was seeing. 

There, running towards him, cherub-cheeks flushing a beautiful red, is Katsuki himself. 

He’s wearing a thick, black hoodie, one that falls over his fingers so they curl around the cuffs of his sleeve. He’s gasping for breath, like he’s ran just to meet Viktor. His eyes are so round, hidden behind his glasses. They settle on the bridge of his perfect, little nose, and Viktor can’t help to look closer and notice the way it’s tinged pink from the cold. 

Viktor will 100% blame the coldness for how slow his brain was working, but when it kicked into gear, he realised with shock that Katsuki had called him Vitya. 

Yuuri lets out a shuddering breath, heaving with exhaustion. He can feel his body flush under the intensity of Katsuk’s stare. He tilts his head up to watch Viktor’s face, before trailing it all across his body. Something starts to build in Viktor’s body, a warmth spilling everywhere . It floods from his face all the way to the tips of his toes. 

“Well, what a surprise.” Viktor smiles in what he hopes is his signature, charming smile. “Nice to finally meet-” 

Vitya.” The tone of his voice shocks Viktor into a stupor. Katsuki’s almost admonishing , and Viktor snaps his gaze to Katsuki’s face, mouth dropping open surprise. His eyes have turned into a glare. “What are you doing out here?”

What ?” 

“It’s almost two degrees!”  Viktor’s mouth drops even lower. 

Katsuki doesn’t even try to wait for him to respond, immediately placing his hands on Viktor’s forearms and rubbing them repeatedly. The friction makes Viktor tense all over, shivers filling his body. Katsuki tuts , and Viktor can’t help the little squeal escape his mouth. 

“I can’t believe you’re wearing a sheer top in two degree weather! You know, hyperthermia is a real thing! Your fingers could break off because of frostbite!” 

He’s lecturing him. Yuuri Katsuki is lecturing him. 

He’s not jealous. He’s not even intimidated. He’s worried. 

“You could get sick , Vitya.” There is something so different about the way Katsuki calls his name - the drawl of his voice curls around each letter like it’s precious. Viktor has never heard someone say his name with such warmth . There is familiarity in the tone, a touch of awe, like he’s wondering how on earth Viktor is real. Viktor’s chest tightens. 

“Where did you put your blazer? I know it’s probably also thin, but it’s better than nothing. It was a really nice blazer too.” Katsuki’s lips stretch out into a glorious smile. “It brought out the blue in your eyes.”

The blue in my eye- Viktor is about to ascend to heaven.

“Did you know that your eyes are blue? They’re like cerulean or some shit like that, no no, like indigo? Oh, do you know the female junior skater from Ukraine? She’s got a cat called Indigo, because his eyes are blue like yours. Wait, no, your eyes aren’t like indigo- indigo has a purple tint, no, no oh .” Katsuki’s eyes widen in amazement, gasping quietly. 

“No.” He realises. “Your eyes are like sapphires , they’re jewels, Vitya! So shiny and bright! Maybe I should get you some matching sapphires, you’d look so lovely in sapphire. Maybe some earrings- are your ears pierced yet? You are afraid of needles though, maybe a ring? A ring! Yes, I should get you a sapphire ring!” 

A ring. Oh my god, he’s getting me a ring

Just as Katsuki’s face blooms in wonder, it just as fast turns into reprimanding. He’s fucking pouting up at him, eyes turning frosty. “You- you should be wearing more clothes! It’s the dead of winter! Hyperthermia is a serious thing! You could freeze to death!” He repeats, like he hasn’t already said this to Viktor already. 

Determined, Katsuki tugs on Viktor’s wrist, pulling it up towards his eyes. With extra care, he slowly pulls off the hair tie that’s wrapped snugly around Viktor’s wrist. Gently, he pushes himself up onto his tiptoes, and Viktor can feel all the air in his lungs rush out in a swoop. 

Katsuki is touching his hair. Katsuki is r unning his fingers through his hair

There’s a contemplative look on Katsuki’s face, and oh , he’s trying to get all of the bobby pins out of Viktor’s hair. At the end of a program or a banquet, that was what Viktor hated the most. No matter how many times he yanks a brush through his hair, there would always be bobby pins tangled through it. Suddenly, he doesn’t hate the fact that Ksneia had shoved them into his hair earlier.  If Katsuki volunteers every night to take out Viktor’s bobby pins, he’ll wear millions of them all the time.  

His tongue is peeping out of his pink lips in concentration, and it’s so damn cute, Viktor can’t stop his gaze from falling to them. Fuck, they look so supple, plump like a cupid’s bow. His eyes focus on the mole just underneath Katsuki’s bottom lip, hidden beneath the shadow of the muscle. Fuck, he really isn’t a kid, Viktor realises to his horror.  

A moan slips out of Viktor’s lips when Katsuki’s blunt nails scratch at his scalp soothingly. Katsuki’s eyes darken, and abruptly, Viktor can’t breathe at all. Katsuki’s eyes lift up to meet his, and then, his fingers slip lower, tangling his fingers through the hair at the back of Viktor’s head. 

He can’t help his body’s reaction, laxing as Katsuki’s ministrations. He’s so earnest in all of his movement, slowly slipping his fingers through Viktor’s hair until it falls around him, smooth and soft. He really must be trying to kill me , Viktor thinks, when Katsuki runs his fingers from the hair by his temple all the way to the base of his neck. 

“Tell me if I hurt you.” Viktor whimpers, almost falling over himself at the husky tone of Yuuri’s voice. Katsuki gathers the hair together, pulling the hair tie through it so that it’s out of Viktor’s face. It’s loose, ringles framing Viktor’s face. He’s sure if he moves his head, the hair tie will come tumbling out. He keeps his body as still as possible. 

Then, Katsuki tugs Viktor forward, smoothing out the fabric of his very thin, see-through shirt, delicately fussy in his movements. It’s like there is no fabric between them, the heat of Katsuki’s palm sends a stream of goosebumps along the skin he touches. 

Katsuki’s not even thinking about what he’s doing, if the glazed over look in his eyes says anything, but he’s acting like his sole purpose is to make sure Viktor is warm. He doesn’t even realise that his eyes are burning with unshed tears, until a harsh wind sends him trembling and his eyes prick from it. 

That sends Katsuki into overdrive. Suddenly, Viktor is being shielded from most of the wind, and Katsuki has pulled back, unzipping his own jacket, and wrapping it carefully around Viktor’s shoulders. He’s fussing, Viktor realises, fussing - over him! What the fuck is happening?

Viktor is frozen in his body. He can’t remember a time when someone has worried about him. He can’t move, doesn’t want to move, so scared that a single jerk could break whatever spell Katsuki is under.  

When Viktor doesn’t move, too frozen at being touched, Katsuki sighs softly, and places his hands on Viktor’s body again. 

He pulls Viktor’s arms through the sleeves, tugging them so they fall over his hands. Viktor is taller than Katsuki, so the sleeves stop just before his wrist, but Katsuki is evidently bulkier , because the fabric around his shoulders sag around him like a warm hug. 

It’s cozy, and Viktor freezes in some frantic realisation. The reason the hoodie’s warm is because Katsuki was wearing it. Viktor shivers into its embrace, as the man then pulls his other arm in. He’s never felt so warm

Katsuki pulls Viktor forward by the ends of his jacket, focused completely on the zipper. It snags suddenly, tugging Viktor closer into Yuuri’s space. They’re sharing air , Viktor feels deranged for being so unapologetically content . Katsuki pulls the zip up until it’s directly underneath Viktor’s chin, letting it rest there before he looks up.  

“You’ll get cold.” Katsuki whispers, and just like that, Viktor is gone . His breath catches in his throat. He can hear the crash of his heart resonate through his whole body, thudding against his chest uncontrollably.

He can’t hear a thing that Katsuki is saying, something about staying warm, and going inside. He’s already warm, he wants to say, but something inside of Viktor has cracked, and all he wants to do is slump forward and let Katsuki wrap him up tightly, shielding him from the cold wind. 

“Do I need to call Coach Feltsman to come pick you up?” 

“I-” Viktor takes in a shuddering breath, his voice cracking. “I’ll go inside!” 

The smile Katsuki sends him is brighter than the sun. “Good. You have to be warm, it's flu season, so you can get sick easier if you’re out in the cold. Drink lots and lots of tea, and you need to get a full eight hours of rest, no more, no less!” 

Somehow, Viktor is almost by the entrance of the hotel. Everything inside him freezes. No, no, Katsuki can’t leave him now! He- he hasn’t even properly spoken to him-

“Ah! Wait!” Viktor’s entire body snaps towards Katsuki’s voice. He would’ve fallen over if Katsuki hadn’t quickly gripped his forearms. If Viktor moved any closer, he could almost convince himself that Katsuki was hugging him.

Instead, Katsuki took a step back. His eyes are bright, so beautiful at night. The wind swept through his hair, like he was a figure of fantasy, a person who would be gone in a blink of an eye. 

“You did so well, Vitya.” Viktor stills. A hand rests on his cheek, and Viktor can’t help but look up, and see all the wonder and affection that pools out of every facet of Katsuki’s face. “I’m so proud of you.” 

A shuddering breath rises through him, and he clamps it down tightly, squeezing his eyes shut. 

“Bye, Vitya!” Katsuki takes a step back. He’s just as scantily clad as Viktor, bare in a thin t-shirt, and Viktor’s throat constricts when he realises that Yuuri might get cold! He wants to protest, but then Katsuki sends him a blinding smile, one that burns like a thousand suns, beaming heat at every turn. “I’ll see you later!” 

And then he’s gone, right before Viktor’s eyes. 

Viktor’s cheeks are wet and his throat hurts and his knees feel like jelly. He touches the back of his palm to his cheek. Tears, trailing down his cheeks. Viktor had only seen Katsuki three, and he’s cried for over half of them. 

The tears are warm as they slip down his cold cheeks. He thinks of Katsuki, and tightens his grip on the hoodie, pulling it around his body like a hug. 

Chapter Text

Dec 19 

Tokyo, Japan 

 

He doesn’t realise his name is being called until David pinches his side. Inhaling sharply, Yuuri cringes to himself, snapping his head back towards the reporter as his brain tries to catch up what he’s missed whilst his mind was off daydreaming.  

“I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” He winces at the sound of his voice, meek and impudent. He’s horribly aware how impolite it is to not pay attention, especially during a press conference where cameras are focused on him all around. Coach-Viktor would be outraged, he’s sure. 

“Your coach, Okukawa-sensei, mentioned in an interview that it was you who choreographed both your new short program and the changes in your free program. Could you tell us a little bit about that?” 

“I love dance, it was what I first fell in love with and it brought me to skating. If there’s any chance for me to create my own pieces, I will jump at the chance.”

‘Is that where you see yourself in the future? As a choreographer?”

“Well to be honest, I think it’s a little early to ask where I see myself in the future. My goal is to do everything I can in this field. I want to have a successful senior career, I want to go to Worlds and the Olympics, if I am blessed with a long career, then I want to go to multiple. I want to do everything I can first. And then, well, if my body allows it, I wouldn't mind composing some pieces.”   

The cameras dim a little as they turn towards other athletes, the conversation naturally moving on to other skaters. He feels David tapping his shoulder, a metaphorical thumbs up if he’s ever seen one, and starts to relax. 

“Ah, one last question for Katsuki-senshu.” It’s Morooka, standing near the back, with his microphone attached to his hand. “In your exhibition piece, you are also listed as the main choreographer. I think I’m not the first to say how unprecedented the piece was amongst all other single skaters. People in the international community have called it a masterpiece and I, personally, have had multiple international reporters ask about you following the exhibition. How did you conceptualise the program?” 

It’s a good question, great even, but it makes Yuuri’s throat close up. 

How can Yuuri explain it, the pressing pain that had immersed his very being for months? The hole that had cut deep, right through his muscle till the stark, white bone, leaving his innards out for exposure to poison and infection? How could he begin to fathom the pain that forms the very basis of his breath? 

There is no explanation for the sorrow, no way for Yuuri to be able to string words together and form coherent thoughts that would do his pain justice. Tenkyuu - the only way he could show it was through skating. How could he ever put it into words? 

“It’s a simple piece, once you understand it.” Yuuri finds himself speaking, slowly, as if each word is being chosen carefully. “When you break down the characters, it could mean various things. The easiest reading would be to ‘weep’ or ‘cry’. When you break the kanji down, the meaning changes into a concept and literally translates to “tears from heaven” but which actually means “rain falling from a cloudless sky.” 

“It’s that very specific concept I wanted to portray, that split second when you are released from your pain because you experience it wholly - the moment when the rain falls, the clouds start to clear. It cannot always be raining, someday it will someday pass.” 

“For me, that is what tenkyuu is. There is an ease when you finally allow yourself to feel sadness, an explosion of emotion that leaves you at ease and that feeling is what I wanted to encapsulate with my exhibition.” 

The silence is palpable, and then, there are hundreds of flashing lights sent Yuuri’s way and more people are screaming his name. He blinks widely, and looks around in confusion, then closes his eyes in fear at the sheer magnitude of cameras being shoved in his face. 

Turning towards David, he whispers as frantically as he can, “Did I say something wrong?”

“Y-you.” David exhales deeply. “You know what, nevermind, kid. Nevermind.” 

*** 

[VIDEO: A news jingle reverberates across the speakers. The NHK KYUSHU logo floods the screen, until the video cuts to announcers Yamamoto Himari and Watanabe Toru. The green screen behind shows a repeated clip of a Yakult Swallows’ lead-off player hitting a home run and winning the game. 

Opposite them at the news table is Honda Takeshi-san, a figure skating sports commentator, who watched and commentated on this year’s Grand Prix Final for NHK Sports. The news clip continues, with Yamamoto-san looking directly into the camera, smiling brightly.

Y: Now, on to other sports news.  

The video behind them changes into two pictures, one of Kihira Yumi and Yamaguchi David with their bronze medal standing up on the podium nad the other of Katsuki Yuuri, holding up his gold medal. 

Y: Celebrations are in store this Christmas as we look towards the world of figure skating. At this year’s Grand Prix of Figure Skating Finals, Japan brought back two medals. Kihira Yumi-senshu and Yamaguchi David-senshu won bronze, the first medal of its kind in Japanese history. The Junior competition also happened concurrently, with our own Katsuku Yuuri-senshu winning the segment to bring gold back to our country. 

W: With us today in the studio is Honda Takeshi-san, a figure skating sport’s commentator who was there for this year’s Grand Prix Final . Watanabe-san smiles towards Yamamoto-san, flicking through his notes once, before turning to address their guest. 

W: Honda-san, thank you for joining us. Please tell us what these achievements mean for figure skating in Japan

H: Yes, well I think I want to start off by congratulating both sets of athletes. Ice dancing is dominated by Russian, American and Canadian skaters, so for us to have our own athletes on the podium is a monumental moment. 

W: Yes, Yamaguchi-senshu and Kihira-senshu won the first medal for ice dancing in Japan. What can we expect for them coming into future competitions?

H: They have become favourites of the audiences, it’s not out of the bounds of reality for us to think that they can surpass this. With the right tools, I believe Yamaguchi-senshu and Kihira-senshu can go further than anything we have ever seen before. 

Y: Thank you, Honda-san. Now, Katsuki-senshu is the person we can say is the standout athlete of the competition. He broke two world records during the Grand Prix Final, both of which were set by Russia’s Nikiforov-senshu over four years ago. Can you tell our viewers what this means

H: Well, to start off, I want to say how incredible what Katsuki-senshu did from a technical standpoint. He broke the world record in the short program and the combined score, and was only a few points away from breaking the world record in the long too. If I focus on the short program, there are three jumping elements needed. Katsuki did a triple axel, triple lutz and triple flip combination with a triple toe. 

Honda-san seems to be full of energy and exuberance, like he is vibrating in his seat.  

H: However, what Katsuki-senshu did was place his last two jumping passes at the end of his program, automatically awarding him an extra ten percent bonus on those two elements. You might wonder why don’t all athletes push their jumps to the end to gain this bonus? The reality is that it’s almost humanly impossible because it’s so difficult and exhausting. 

To be honest, if I was a coach, I would never let my students risk it - you would lose more if you fell, but Katsuki must have some kind of inhuman stamina - he lands them even better than if he were to jump them at the beginning! 

Honda-san rises from his seat, and moves forward so he’s in front of a large, floor-length screen. The screen shows a replayed, slowed down video of Katsuki Yuuri’s triple axel, from it’s entry to it’s landing. 

H : Let’s take a closer look so you can understand. Here, this shows Katsuki’s triple axel that was done in the second half of his short program. Look at the entry. The video slows down to show the entry. 

H: Katsuki enters the triple axel from a back-counter. Typically, triple axels are done on the opposite foot - they transfer the weight from their leading foot into the other so that the skater has enough power. 

What Katsuki-san does is use his leading foot as the take-off foot, which automatically increases the difficulty of the jump. That, plus the fact that he placed the triple axel at the end of his program, is the skill of this young skater.  

W: How rare is a back-counter, triple axel? 

H: Incredibly rare. No-one has done it, not even in the senior field. I did not even think it was possible for a triple axel, some skaters use it for doubles, but never a triple. But it’s not just his triple axels - Katsuki-san utilizes step in all of his jump entries. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and he is so consistent with them. 

Y: And do you think it’s these step elements utilised as his jump entries that are the reason behind his world record?

H: I think it’s a multitude of things - Katsuki-senshu’s short program was awarded 84.04 points. In the senior competition, sixth place earned 72.83 points. If he was competing in seniors, he would’ve been in the top bracket of international male skaters. 

H: But it’s not just his technical ability that I want to talk about, but his incredible artistry - Katsuki-senshu embodies his programs, with maturity that I have never before seen from a junior skater on the international stage, let alone from Japan.  

Honda-san returns back to his seat, seemingly realising that he’s red in the face. Nevertheless, he continues. 

H: I think we can all agree that watching him perform is something incredibly special. The level of intricacies and detail he puts with his programs, it is as if he is not competing but rather performing for the audience. To think that he choreographs his own programs! 

W: Yes, I, personally, can attest to that.   Watanabe-san laughs to himself. Neither of us know much about figure skating, as you’ve said, but even I could feel the emotion in his skating whilst watching Katsuki-senshu perform. I found myself really thinking, is he really only just turned eighteen? The studio chuckles around them. 

H: He is a talent, that much is an understatement. 

Y: What do you think we can look forward to from Katsuku-senshu’s future competitions? 

H: If he continues the way I believe he will, I believe Katsuki-senshu will usher in a new age of figure skating. Some of our viewers may not know, but Japan used to be one of the great figure skating countries. It has steadily been declining since the 80s.

We have not medaled at any figure skating finals in years, let alone winning a gold medal. He is the only gold medalist Japan has had in years. He will be competing in senior competitions next year, and it’s sufficient to say that I, along with the figure skating community, is excited to see what he will bring to the table when he becomes eligible for competition. 

W: Amazing - he truly has become Japan’s Junior Ace. Do you have any other statements you’d like to make, Honda-san?

Honda-san clasps his hands, and looks between the camera and the reporters sheepishly. 

H: We can only pray that he continues to reach new heights during seniors and for the upcoming Junior World Championships. So, before all else, I hope he stays healthy. . 

Y: We too, at NHK KYUSHU, will cheer on Katsuki-senshu and for the Junior World Championship. Thank you Honda-san for coming in and joining us. 

Now, the Kyushu representatives for the upcoming Interhigh Championships have been decided. In Saga, Saga Higashi High School won in an upset against Chienkan High. From Fukuoka, Teiko High, the reigning national champions, have won a deciding match in their prefecture tournaments, and aim to win consecutive national titles. We will move over to Sato-san for more in depth news…] 

*** 

[VIDEO: The logo for Tokyo Sports comes on, flashing back towards a reporter - Suzuki-san, who stands up in front of a looped clip of a press conference. 

S: And now, on to the world of figure skating - Japan has won two medals at the Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating held in Beijing, China. Kihira Yumi-senshu and Yamaguchi David-senshu won bronze in ice dance, and Katsuki Yuuri-senshu won gold in Junior men’s figure skating. Let’s take a look at the press conference held by the Japanese Skating Federation earlier today.

The video cuts to the press conference held in Japan. All members of Team Japan are there, wearing their official ‘JAPAN’ sports jackets. Katsuki-senshu is next to Yamaguchi-senshu, who in turn is next to his partner, Kihira-senshu. The video then continues through various questions aimed towards different athletes, interspersing short clips from the competition. 

Many questions are aimed towards Katsuki-senshu, and the camera picks up the wide-eyed, glazed look in his eyes. He blinks frantically, as if he’s accustomed to the attention. Then, when he realises that the questions are directed towards him, he closes his eyes slowly as if he is in pain.] 

***

trending (japan) . sports 

 

チームジャパン

[Team Japan]

12k

 

記者会見

Press Conference 

29k 

 

山口デビッド

[Yamaguchi David]

8k

 

紀平 友美 

[Kihira Yumi] 

7k 

 

アイスダンス

[Ice Dance] 

3k 

 

(かつき ゆうり

[Katsuki Yuuri] 

1k

 

勝生みたいな感じ

[feeling like Katsuki] 

18k 

***

 むとう@RuiMu . Dec 19 

[Gif of Yuuri’s face during the press conference] 

なぜこの子供はとても親しみやすいのですか?😂 😂

[Why is this kid so relatable 😂 😂 ]

18k 🗨️  61k  ⟲ 72k ♡ 

 

愛してください @tsukasami . Dec 17 

[Gif of Yuuri’s face during the press conference] 

月曜日はカツキのような気分になりました

[Monday’s got me feeling like Katsuki] 

12k 🗨️  18k ⟲ 21k ♡ 

 

サンダはエースです @shinpei_shunpei . Dec 17 

[Picture of a coffee cup] 

私のコーヒーの注文は間違っていました-私はカツキのように感じます。

[My order was wrong - I feel like Katsuki] 

312 🗨️  421 ⟲ 634 ♡ 

 

相沢最高の先生 @ashizawa . Dec 17 

[Gif of Yuuri’s face during the press conference] 

先生がワークシートを配るだけの午前9時の講義のために目を覚ます

[Waking up for a nine am lecture only for the teacher to give out worksheets.] 

51 🗨️ 91 ⟲ 123 ♡

 

@sho-hini . Dec 17 

@ashizawa 勝生みたいな感じ ? 

[Feeling like Katsuki?] 

2 🗨️  153 ⟲ 763 ♡

 

@ashizawa . Dec 17 

@sho-hini 勝生みたいな感じ . 

[Feeling like Katsuki.] 

5 🗨️  523 ⟲ 865 ♡

*** 

December 21

Saint Petersburg, 

Russia 

 

“Why are you here?”

“Rude!” Viktor cries, face morphing into utter anguish. He does not look it - his feet are perched up on the coffee table as he sips out of one of Lilia’s precious teacups deviously. Makkachin is lying as primly as a dog can, in complete contention with her owner’s demeanor, demurely resting her head atop of Viktor’s lap whilst the rest of her body covers the other half of the couch. 

“You didn’t answer my question.” Maybe Yuri could slip some kind of poison into Viktor’s drink when he’s not looking. Lila must have something

“Vitya.” Both Yuri and Viktor freeze at the tone in Lilia’s voice as she enters behind Yuri. “Are you an animal? Take your feet off the table, now.” Feodor meowls in soon, curling around Lila’s feet as she settles into the armchair by the window. The cat hisses at Viktor, and he quickly curls his feet underneath himself. Yuri snickers. 

Lilia and Yakov’s apartment is old but the kind of old that exudes expense. They’re inside a parlour room of all things, a far cry to Viktor’s childhood in a stubby little, shared apartment.

It’s a circular layout, leading directly into a private, foyer-like hallway that stretches out to the front door. With marble, heated flooring and bookshelves anchored into the walls surrounding Viktor, everything in Lilia and Yakov’s apartment screamed expensive. 

They even had ceiling-to-floor windows with a gorgeous overview of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Makka loves the private gardens allocated outside. Honestly, Viktor doesn’t know why he moved out. 

He’s spent enough time inside the parlour room to know that the very coffee table his feet had been resting on moments ago was an antique dating back to the nineteenth-century. It’s legs are rusted gold, with a glassed-oval top that screams fragile.   

Well, Viktor pays Yakov an enormous sum for his coaching fees. If he breaks it, Yakov could always get another one. 

“And be nice, lvyonok .” 

Viktor chokes into his drink. Ivyonok? He raises an eyebrow at Lilia, who, very undignified , throws a pillow at him! How ghastly, his mentor is! Viktor smirks into his tea. Yuri sneers, but seems to simmer under Lilia’s glare, sitting down as nicely even with Viktor breathing the same air as him. 

Makkachin jumps up from her place on Viktor’s lap, pattering calmly towards Yuri. He bends down, ruffling the fur around her ears. “You’re the only reason I tolerate him, Makka.”

“Makka! How could you betray your father?” 

“Vitya, my china .”

“Sorry.” He sheepishly places the teacup back down on its saucer, preventing any spillage. “But, honestly, Yura. It’s like you don’t even like me.”

“I don’t .”

“Yura.” Lilia scolds. “Manners, please. And Vitya!” She grimaces at him. “What is it that you’re wearing? You look like a homeless person.”

“He always looks homeless.”

Yuri .”

Yuri obediently shuts his mouth, drinking his tea. 

“It’s a sweatshirt . I can’t believe I’m not allowed to wear a hoodie in this weather! It’s cold, you know! Hypothermia is a real issue.” Viktor sulks, tugging his jacket around tightly.

“If you’re cold, I’ll get Lana to turn on the heating-”

“No!” Viktor cries. “Let Svetlana have a break - I’m fine.” 

“She’s a maid. It’s her job .” 

“Just because some of us are mean to the help, doesn’t mean you can abuse their time, Plisetsky. Besides, I’m not taking it off.” 

Lilia tuts, eyes narrowing at the two of them. They dutifully turn back towards their tea. Yuri dunks a biscuit in his, careful to brush off any crumbs on to the floor before Lilia notices. “Well, at least you came to visit. You’ve become so ill-mannered since you’ve moved out. How hard is it to come and visit now and again - it’s not like we housed you for years.” 

“Aw, did you miss me, Lilia?” 

“Stop being disgusting.” Yuri’s face scrunches up, as if Makkachin had just peed on the carpet. “No one would miss you.” Viktor smiles charmingly, masking the stab of pain that pierces his chest. 

Yuri Plisetsky .” Lilia takes a deep breath, closing her eyes. “Ignore him, Vitya. Why are you here, though?”

“Because he’s been in lala land for an entire, two-hour practice session even though Nationals is a week away.” Yakov cuts in, stepping into the room with a sneer.

“Yakov! Viktor’s being gross!”

“Shut up, you devil child. I was here first. ” Yuri sticks his tongue out, using Makkachin as a shield. Viktor sneers, crossing his arms like a toddler having a tantrum. He turns sharply towards Yakov. “And I was not in la-la-land! I was merely… indisposed.” 

“You fell flat on your face doing a double salchow.” 

Lilia raises an eyebrow, “Is he hurt anywhere?” 

Yakov waves his hand in the air flippantly, pouring out his own tea. “Other than his pride? No.” 

Yakov!

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him acting so loopy. I think winning consecutive titles is getting to his head.” 

“Hmm.. how is he acting?”

“Like an airhead.”

“Well, Vitya’s always been an airhead.”

“He’s always acted like an airhead. There’s a difference - this is the first time he’s actually been one.” 

“I am right here!” 

Lilia sighs, placing her saucer down on the side table. She turns towards him. “Is there a reason you’re acting this way, Vitya?”

“Well.. if you must know-”

“We really don’t.” Yuri interjects. 

Viktor crosses a leg over his other, clasping his fingers together so they rested primly on top of his lap. “I am completely besotted .”

“Oh my god.” Yakov vaults from his seat, as if he’s going to throttle Viktor. Viktor cringes, snapping his face away so he wouldn’t make direct eye contact with his coach.

“Yakov, my china .” 

“This is about Katsuki, isn't it.”

“Katsuki?” Yuri's eyes widen. “What does this have to do with Katsuki ?” 

“Viktor. I told you to stay away from him. I can’t have you being… whatever this is. Ugh, I should’ve known, you can’t keep anything in your pants.”

Viktor gasps loudly. “That’s so rude . Katsuki and I had an intellectual connection. Intellectual .”

Yuri’s eyes are unfocused as he stares off into nothing. Then, realisation dawns on his face. 

“You keep your gross hands off him!” He screeches, leaping over the table and clawing at Viktor’s side. Viktor holds him at arm-length easily. Yakov grabs him by the neck, and drags him away, even as Yuri screams murder. 

He’s out for blood, and suddenly, Viktor feels a cold chill run through his body at the thought of Yuri finding out the owner of his hoodie. 

“You can’t seduce everyone you find attractive, Viktor.” Lilia sighs heavily. 

“I don’t want to sleep with him!” She raises an eyebrow. 

“Okay, well he is very attractive, but!” He holds both of his arms out, wide as if he’s at a board meeting, about to pull out a powerpoint presentation with bullet-pointed reasons as to why he and Katsuki are perfectly compatible as rival athletes. 

“I’m besotted by him as a competitor . You yourself said it, Yakov! When he goes to seniors, he’ll be the only competition I get so…” Viktor takes a deep breath, and Yakov is suddenly transported to the memory of sixteen year old Viktor smuggling Makkachin out of a shelter in the dead of night. Oh god , Yakov fears. “I want to go to Junior Worlds.” 

“Katsuki’s my rival. I saw him first!” Yuri screams out. Viktor aptly ignores the child’s guttural screech. “Yakov! You can’t let him! It’s not fair!”

“Shut it, Plisetsky.” 

“You shut it, you old cow!”

“Sit. Down.” Lilia spits out. “Both of you. Have we raised you as animals? Makkachin is better behaved than the two of you.” Both Viktor and Yuri slowly sink back into their seats, chastised. Yakov’s fingers are pressed into his forehead, trying to relieve his growing headache. 

“Yakov, it’s not fair.” Yuri cries out. Yakov freezes. Oh, oh shit. Yuri Plisetsky’s face is turning red. Tears, tears are forming in his eyes.

Viktor’s whole body convulses. 

He slams a hand across his mouth, turning as fast as he can away from the scene in front of him. A croaky squeal erupts from his throat as Lilia slams her elbow into his side, but he can’t help it. He’s going to hell for laughing. He’s going to die .

“It’ll be on my birthday .”  

Viktor's chokes on his breath. He gapes at Lilia in disbelief, who in turn has pressed her lips together, an act of immovable indifference. She pinches Viktor’s side. The two send each other silent looks.  

Do you think the tears are fake? 

She tenses, shaking her head. Probably not. He cries when he’s frustrated. But, I wouldn’t put it past him. He knows how to play Yakov like a fool. 

“Yura.” Yakov crouches down, so that the two of them are eye level. “You know the reason why I told you no last time. I’ll be focused on Mila and there’ll be no-one around to keep an eye on you.”

“I can look after myself!”

“Yura. You’re ten.” 

Lilia pinches Viktor’s side. He flinches, aghast at the abuse. She sighs exasperated, looking as if she was minutes away from hitting him again. She pointedly looks at Yuri, then back towards him again.  

Oh, Viktor’s gasps in realisation. His finger lifts to point towards Yuri, and then it moves to point back at himself. She rolls her eyes, but nods once in confirmation. 

“I can!” Viktor screeches, slamming his hand high in the air as if he’s trying to answer a question in a classroom. He runs behind Yuri, digging his fingers into the child’s shoulders. “I can keep an eye on him and scout Katsuki at the same time!” 

“Viktor. Shut up .” Yakov groans out. 

“Are you really going to tell a child no, especially when the Championships will be during little Yurachoka’s birthday?” Yuri squirms in Viktor’s hold, face twisted in disgust. 

“Let go of me, you psycho.”

“Shut up, you little fucker. This is the only way either of us can get anything we want.” He spits through gritted teeth. Yuri still struggles out of his grasp, but blessedly bites his tongue. 

“Yakov.” Lilia pushes herself between the boys and her husband. “He does have a point. If you think of it this way, the competition can be both Yura and Vitya’s birthday presents. It’ll be killing two birds with one stone.” 

“This better not be you trying to get out of giving me actual presents.” 

“I’m not sharing my birthday with the old man-”

Lilia sends them a pointed glare. 

Yakov looks at all three of them with a sinking feeling in his stomach. “But-”

“If you let me go,” Yuri cuts him off, hands clenched to his side. “I’ll get along with Viktor.”

Both Lilia and Yakov’s mouths drop to the floor. Viktor’s hands tighten on Yuuri’s shoulder and he shoots Yakov a winning smile. “Well, how can we say no to that? Everything will turn out great, Yakov. You have nothing to worry about.”

***

trending . worldwide 

 

#MerryChristmas! 

2.1M

 

Happy Holidays 

1.2M

 

Christmas Day

1.1M 

 

#HappyBirthdayViktor

Fans around the world celebrate World Champion Viktor Nikiforov’s 21st birthday! 

302k 

 

#HBDVIKTOR 

241k 

 

Viktor Nikiforov 

132k

 

#LivingLegend  

102k

*** 

 

Живая легенда_Виктор @LL_Vitya . 25 Dec 

С Рождеством и Днем Рождения, Витя

[Merry Christmas and happy birthday, Vitya!] 

13 🗨️  971 ⟲ 62k ♡ 

 

Витя Красавицы @Vityas-Lovelies . 25 Dec 

Поздравляем с Днем Рождения величайшего фигуриста в истории!

[Happy Birthday to the greatest figure skater in history!] 

91 🗨️  193 ⟲ 2k ♡ 

 

LOUIS VUITTON @LouisVuitton . 25 Dec 

[PHOTO: A reposted picture of Viktor at the Grand Prix Final Gala Banquet, wearing his custom-made emerald, Louis Vuitton suit.] 

Happy 21st Birthday to our Global Brand Ambassador, Viktor Nikiforov! 

351🗨️  13k ⟲ 19k ♡ 


all things Viktor Nikiforov @ PlanetNikiforov . 25 Dec 

[PHOTO: A commissioned fanart of Viktor, wearing his iconic sapphire, rose-crown.] 

happy birthday, vitya ✨ ✨ 

65 🗨️  5k ⟲ 38k ♡ 

 

v-nikiforov  . 1h

Ice Palace Arena, 

St. Petersburg, Russia  

[PHOTO: A selfie of Viktor winking at the camera and holding out a peace sign. Behind him are hundreds of fans from the audience, who equally are holding up birthday banners, and making peace signs and hearts with their hands.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by christophe-gc, louisvuitton, i-askarov, sara-crispino and 3,234,329 others 

v-nikiforov: ✌️ ✌️ ✌️

Спасибо, что отпраздновали сегодня мой день рождения вместе со мной!

Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me today!  

View all 890,0824 comments 

***

December 26 

Chofu Urban Hotel, 

Tokyo, Japan

04:23 AM

 

Советский спорт  @Sovetsky Sport . 21h

Виктор Никифоров завоевывает свой третий подряд национальный титул.

[Viktor Nikiforov wins his third consecutive National title.]

123 🗨️  674 ⟲ 1426 ♡

Yuuri traces the characters of Viktor’s name over his phone screen. It’s strange to think that Viktor winning only three titles doesn’t phase him. He had won such an unprecedented amount in their other life, Yuuri didn’t even glance twice at the news article. 

There really was little time for Yuuri to think about Russian Nationals, what with his own Nationals pressing so closely to Viktor’s. Yuuri remembers how claustrophobic December had felt, Russian Nationals, the All-Japan Championships and Viktor’s birthday always being squeezed together into a cramped few days. 

It had always left Yuuri winded at the end, like the storm hit him with unimaginable power, even though he had braced himself for impact. Now, he can’t help but feel like after the storm, buried under an avalanche of debris.  

Something soft knocks Yuuri’s head back, but the force of the hit sends his head slamming against his bed frame. 

“Ow, neesan!

“Turn your fucking phone off, you idiot.” Mari groans. “God, what time is it… four in the morning?! Why the fuck are you awake at four in the morning? You have the free skate tomorrow!” 

Yuuri blinks, eyes refocusing. Oh, that’s right. He placed second at Senior Nationals, even though he didn’t land a single quad. Never before had a male junior skater skated to a top three standing at a senior nationals. Another first of many, according to the reporters that had interviewed him. 

Mari sighs. “Are you nervous?”

No, he isn’t. 

Yuuri’s been to enough National championships to breeze through this. In his mind, the competition didn’t really matter to him, but Minako had sprouted something about ‘national pride’ and ‘ What about the fans, Yuuri? The FANS! ’. 

Yuuri didn’t raise the fact that he didn’t have any fans, but since coming back from Beijing, Minako had been buried underneath a pile of work from the studio. 

Yuuri, feeling a little guilty about taking his sensei away from her actual job, had allowed her to guilt-trip him into competing, even though she was stuck in Hasetsu, somehow weaseling Mari into accompanying him to Tokyo so he wouldn’t be coach-less. 

It hadn’t been too daunting. Despite the obvious increase in audience - Junior competitions really were performing to an empty crowd in comparison to the arenas, holy shit - Yuuri had reassured himself that he didn’t need to do well. 

He was a junior skater who was invited to compete at seniors because the JSF liked to give their skaters as much experience as they can before they move up. 

He’d been attending these things for years . He didn’t have to think about senior Nationals for another year! 

So, the game plan was this: He would rank low enough that he’d be able to return to his hotel early, possibly at six, and have his full seven hours straight of rest. sleep for seven hours. Then, he’d wake up at one, ready to find a shitty live-streamed video of the Russian Championships free skate. 

Of course, because Yuuri’s an idiot, he just had to go out and get second place, didn’t he? 

His official coach wasn’t even there . Yeah, maybe he should’ve scaled back a little , because now, there was so much more attention on Yuuri than he frankly felt comfortable with. 

It didn’t help that the person who beat Yuuri only did so because he managed to land the quad sal okay- ish , enough where the base value at least was higher than Yuuri’s. 

There was no time after, he’d been bombarded with interview after interview, especially after he ended up leading the pack for the rest of the competition. 

It wasn’t until the last skater, Naka Fumihiro who was the reigning National Champion (and also a three-time consecutive Champion) took to the rink and gained the lead. 

As soon as the other skater had beaten Yuuri, he heaved a sigh of relief. It really wouldn’t do for him to be leading at Nationals. All he wanted to do was see Viktor perform, was that too much to ask? 

Of course, because of all the press, he’d gotten back to the hotel at eleven, which meant goodbye to his seven hours of sleep. That threw a major wrench into his plans. 

Now, it was time to be strategic. 

Viktor was leading after the short program, which he fucking missed because of practice, which means that he’d be the last skater left to compete. Give or take half an hour, Yuuri would only have to wake up at 3AM to be able to catch Viktor skating. Of course, he didn’t.  

As soon as midnight had struck, Yuuri was wide awake. His bed was nearest to the window, and as Mari stayed fast asleep on her side of the room, Yuuri could not help himself from pulling back the curtains. 

Tokyo was a city that never slept, buzzling with motion even in the dead of night. The view attested to that, the screech of cars speeding through the night echoing against Yuuri’s ears. Sighing, he let the curtain fall back in place. 

As quietly as he could, Yuuri creeps towards his suitcase. There, tucked underneath the mountain of clothes, is a little box of treats. Yuuri had bought them from the little sweet shop down the road from the inn. Opening it gently, Yuuri slowly lifts one of the mochis out of the box.  

It’s a strawberry one, Viktor’s favourite. Like a stretchy cloud! He had said, kissing Yuuri soundly even as a dusting of powder had transferred on to his face. Vkusno! 

He digs around Mari’s jacket until his fingers grasp around her lighter. The ridges of the spark wheel imprint into his finger as it splutters for a moment, and then a golden flame illuminates the room. He’s quick to stab a candle in the middle of the mochi, and then, he swiftly lights the candle. 

Taking a deep breath, sending one more glance towards his sister to make sure she hadn’t woken up, Yuuri cradles the mochi in his hand as gently as if he were holding a newborn baby.  

“Happy birthday, Vitya.” He whispers out into the night, his lips stretching into a soft smile. He blows the candle out, and the room is engulfed into darkness once again. 

*** 

ASAHI SPORTS CENTRE ✓ @Asahi_Sports . Dec 27

中文弘選手が3連覇。ジュニアカツキユウリが2位になります。

[Naka Fumihiro-senshu wins his third consecutive title. Junior, Katsuki Yuuri, takes second place.] 

71 🗨️  424 ⟲ 524 ♡

 

Fuji TV Channel 2 ✓ @Fuji_C2 . Dec 27

18歳のカツキユウリは、彼の最初のシニアナショナルで銀メダルを獲得しました。ナカ選手は3年連続の全国タイトルを獲得。

[18 year old Katsuki Yuuri earns a silver medal at his first Senior Nationals. Naka-senshu wins his third consecutive National title.] 

63 🗨️  182 ⟲ 324 ♡

 

The Mainichi News - Sports ✓  @毎日新聞 . Dec 27

ナカ・フミヒロは、ジュニアのカツキ・ユウリ・センシュをかかえて、彼の全国タイトルを擁護します。

[Naka Fumihiro defends his National title, with Junior, Katsuki Yuuri-senshu hot on his heels.] 

43 🗨️  78 ⟲ 189 ♡

 

フィギュアスケートマンスリー @FS_Monthly . Dec 27

全日本スケートの未来に向けて何が待ち受けているのでしょうか?ジュニアスーパースターのカツキユウリがシニアナショナルズで銀メダルを獲得。

[What’s in store for the future of Japanese skating? The Junior superstar, Katsuki Yuuri, wins silver at Senior Nationals.] 

3 🗨️  14 ⟲ 224 ♡

*** 

Dec 29 

KUMA Inc. 

Marunouchi (Tokyo Business District)

Tokyo, Japan 

 

“How can we even call this an office?” Momo tries to pull her feet from under the piles and piles of boxes that had been unceremoniously shoved underneath her desk. “How much are we even paying for this office?”

“40,000 yen.” Nako looks like she’s about to burst into tears, eyes trained entirely on the mess of folders in front of her. 

“4-40,000?! FOR THIS SHOEBOX?” 

“We’re paying for the location, Momo-chan.”

“Location is bullshit, we’re in their fucking basement .“

Momo wasn’t wrong - they were on the basement level of a tiny apartment-turned office cube. 

The building was the size of a needle, sticking out like a sore-thumb next to huge skyscrapers, derelict with painting chipping at every part.The place had once been an assortment of apartments, and now, was split into floor levels, rented out as office space to different businesses. KUMA, as a new company, had only been able to get a small room in the basement.  

It was the cheapest room Yui could find as a first-time renter, added into the fact that it was at the centre of Tokyo’s business district, Marunouchi, it was the best that Yui could afford.

“You need to tell Yui that this is ridiculous.” Momo reiterates.

“Look, Yui has been trying everything in her power to keep us afloat. She’s got a huge meeting with Taiyō about a collaboration.”

“Wait, are you serious? The Taiyō ?

“Mn.” Nako closes her eyes, rubbing at her closed eyelids harshly as her glasses become tangled from where they’re resting atop of her head. “Taiyō Cosmetics.” 

Momo’s mouth drops to the floor. “Are you serious?” 

“I’m her personal assistant, I should know.”

“I thought you were our accountant.” 

Nako bares her teeth. “I’m supposed to be - if I knew how understaffed we were, I’d never take the job in the first place.”

"What staff?” Momo rolls her eyes. “There’s only me, Yui and you on the payroll.”

“Exactly.” Nako cries. “Do you know how fucked up it is that we’re being paid minimum wage? You have a masters in Chemistry from Harvard , you could’ve gotten into any company you wanted to. Yui and I went to Keio and Culumbia respectively. For all intents and purposes we shouldn’t be diving for scraps and being forced inside this shitty little box-cutter room, living on minimum wage!” Nako’s face turns an unseemly shade of red, tears filling her eyes. Momo stills. 

“Nako-chan. What’s going on?” 

“This is all we’ve ever wanted.” Tears are spilling over her cheeks. “Remember when we were in high school? We said we’d have our own business together, it’s why the two of us suffered overseas and Yui sent herself to the hospital for exhaustion just so we could get degrees at the best university. We had a game-plan ! And-” Nako’s breathing becomes frantic, turning into hyperventilation. 

Momo is by her side in an instant, shoving boxes out of the way. It didn’t help with clearing up the space, but it was enough for Nako to close her eyes and try to control her breathing. 

“Then it all got fucked up by reality.” Her hands come up to grab Momo’s arms. “Yui is running herself into an early grave just so we have enough money to pay rent. She hasn’t had a proper meal in ages, and I know you have mountains of debt waiting to be paid off. She wouldn’t fault you if you left, you know?”

“Don’t even say it.” Momo glares. “You think I don’t want to be here? KUMA’s as much of my baby as it is yours and Yui’s.”

Nako sniffles, blowing loudly into the tissue Momo hands her. “I know. I know, it’s just so hard. We need an investment.”

“Isn’t that what the meeting with Taiyō is going to be about?”

Nako shakes her head. “That’s what Yui is hoping for, but I- I don’t trust them.”

“What do you mean?”

Nako inhales deeply. “I was reading over the brief email they sent Yui, she wanted me to check over all the stuff. And, I just have a bad feeling about everything." 

“What- what the fuck do you mean by that?” Momo screeches. “We’re just going to pitch our idea, right?”

“We can’t afford the patent, if we go and introduce our product, they can buy it from us. There’s no telling if we’d have any rights over the formula at all. If we pitch our idea, what’s there to save us if they decline us, and then go out and release the same product a month later?”

“But it’s our skincare line! I personally came up with all the formulas myself!” Momo cries. “I didn’t slave away for three years for it to be taken by some parasitic big-name group!”  

“What choice do we have?” Nako’s tears start to fall faster, her cheeks turning red. “We can’t even afford a stockroom to keep the creams refrigerated. Even if we do get Taiyō to buy our product, what are we even going to do with all of this stock?”

“She’s right.” 

Nako and Momo freeze. The sound of heels against their wooden floor (the landlord wouldn’t  even get them carpet) walking towards them stops. Nako peers up through swollen eyes, mouth dropping open. The door to their office is widen open, cold air flooding in through the air. 

“I’m looking for Kataoka Yui.”

“I-I’m sorry, Miss.” Nako scrambles to her feet, shoving her glasses up the bridge of her nose, bowing repeatedly. “She’s not here at the moment. Can I offer you a coffee…?” All three of them fall into silence, the room obviously far too cramped to even move around, let alone allow another person to sit down nicely. 

The woman raises a perfectly manicured eyebrow. Her black suit is gorgeously tailored into a feminine cut, contrasting the sharp lines of her face. There are three pairs of diamond earrings stubbed into her ears, an expensive Rolex watch tightly wrapped around her left hand from where she’s gripping her phone. In the other is a satchel bag, thinly-veiled as designer to the trained eye, if the leatherwork is anything to make of it. 

She looks like she actually belongs in Marunouchi - not like Nako in her frumpy little cardigans and Momo’s hole-infested hoodie. 

She holds up her hand, a tight smile stretching over her lips. “There’s no need, do you know when she will be back?”

“Oh, erm… soon, I think. She had to step out to talk to our landlord, the heating hasn’t been working for a few weeks now.” If possible, her smile turns dark. 

“How old are the two of you?”

Momo’s face stiffens. “We’ve all graduated from universities-”

“So under 22.” She cuts Momo off, entering into the office room with an air of flippancy. “Where’s your lease contract?”

“I’m sorry, you can’t just enter into someone else’s business like this without an appointment.” Momo pushes herself in front of the woman. “And a lease contract is private.”

“Listen whilst your big sister is being nice, kid.” The woman slips past Momo without breaking a sweat, leaning over into the mess that was Nako’s desk. “I’m assuming with all the mess here, it’ll be somewhere you can easily access, ah-” 

She waves the file right in front of Momo’s face, raising an eyebrow. “Got it.”

“Hey- wait!”

“You can’t just take that-”

The woman grabs her satchel, turning back out of the door, nose already stuck inside the folder. “Hurry up, kids.” 

Momo’s mouth drops open in disbelief, gaping at Nako. “What- Oh my god! We need to stop her!”

“But… she told us to follow her?”

“Who even is she?!” Momo grumbles, rushing to follow the woman out of the room. 

“Should we call Yui?”

Momo glares, “And have her worry even more? She’s already talking to Miruma-san. We can just grab it when her back is turned-”

“I can hear you.” The woman’s voice calls out sing-like. She swivels on her heels, and tilts her head to the side. “Hurry up, or you’ll be swindled out once more.”

“Who even are you?” Momo screams out. 

“Who- me?” The woman genuinely looks confused. “You should know.”

“Like hell I do! I’ve never seen you before in my life!”

“I’ve been sending you emails for months.”

“What?” Nako’s mouth drops even wider. 

“Katsuki.” She says finally, a smile turning sharp.  “Katsuki Mari. Your new investor.”

***

( Previously, in the early hours of the morning…)  

Chofu Urban Hotel, 

Tokyo, Japan 

 

“What the fuck do you mean I have somwhere to be?”  

“It’s important, nee-san.” Yuuri grips his sister’s forearm tight. On her bed lay her ‘coaching clothes’, one of Minako’s tailored suits that somehow fit her perfectly. She had borrowed some jewellery and shoes from the older woman purely for Yuuri’s sake, so that he didn’t look like a laughing stock when the two of them entered the arena. 

Of course, it was the worst day of Mari’s life. She couldn’t wait to get out of those heels, and today was going to be a great day! Her and Yuuri were a few days extra before New Years, it was her first time in Tokyo! 

The city was huge, and Mari was ready to sit back with her feet up at a sauna. Instead, her little brother is telling her to re-wear the clothes and get out of here. 

“You’ve got a very busy day ahead of you. Come on, I’ll do your makeup for you.”

“Makeup ?” She’s shoved onto Yuuri’s bed, as begins to tap some heavy-weight concealer under Mari’s eyes. “Just a little, we’ve got to hide those racoon eyes of yours.”

“You still haven’t explained where I’m going.” 

“Marunouchi.”

“What?!” Mari grabs Yuuri’s wrist, stopping him from poking her eye. “Stop. Explain everything, now.”

Yuuri heaves a sigh, before turning around and pulling out a satchel bag from underneath his bed, heaving it so that it rests on the bed. “So, you know how Minako-sensei refuses to take coaching fees from me?”

“Yeah, she’s only charging you for using the studio, right?”

“She’s undercharging me for the studio lessons, you mean?” Yuuri rolls his eyes. “Honestly, do you know that she charges me ¥750 for every hour of dance lessons?”

Mari’s jaw sinks to the floor. “You’re kidding me? She’s literally been awarded the Benois de la Danse!” 

“Yeah, most people of her calibre would be charging around ¥ 40,00 an hour.” Yuuri shrugs his shoulders, going back to rummaging into his tiny stage-make up bag. He pats the concealer on Mari’s face as lightly as possible, blending it seamlessly into her skin. 

“Anyway, Yuuko and Takeshi also refuse payment for using Ice Castle, so I only have to pay to get my skates sharpened and my boots tightened. Kaasan and tousan refuse to take any of the prize money, which means…” He takes out an eyebrow pencil, before nudging his chin in the direction of the satchel at Mari’s left. “I have an obscene amount that I have no idea how to use.”

“That’s…” Mari looks at him leering. “How much?”

Yuuri rolls his eyes. “Not a lot, actually. I could buy maybe two new pairs of skates?”

“You have John Wilson skates - they’re up to fucking ¥ 670,00.”

“Yeah, well - figure skating’s an expensive sport.” He shrugs his shoulders. “Anyway, what I’m saying is, I have a lot of surplus money that won’t actually help me just sitting around. So, I’ve made it easy for you to help me get more.”

“You want more money?!” Mari tilts back away from him, face grimacing. “Didn’t you just say you had an ‘obscene’ amount?”

“I had an obscene amount of surplus - I need actual passive income. To, you know, prepare for next year as a senior. I can’t keep getting you and kaasan to make my costumes, can I? The best ones cost up to ¥ 750,000.” 

“So, what - oh my god, do I get to gamble?” Mari’s eyes turn giddy, sparkling so much that Yuuri feels a chill set in his bones. Maybe it wasn’t the best to ask his sister to handle his finances. 

He shakes his head frantically. “No-no, neesan. I need you to invest in a company for me.”

“Wha- that’s so boring! Why would I do that?”

“I’m 18, they’d take one look at me and throw me out.”

“Hmm, your baby cheeks are very prominent.” 

Yuuri glares. “Anyway, I know you can deal with it. You handle all the finances for the inn- don’t look at me like that, the only reason Yu-Topia stayed afloat when every other hot spring inn died was because you control all of the money and got us paying that bank loan - anyway, you will invest all of this money-” He pulls out a annotated, colour-coordinated file from the satchel, and hands it towards her. “Into this company.”

“KUMA?” Mari frowns. “I’ve never heard of them.”

“It’s a small business that is going to make a very bad decision soon. We are going to invest and save them. Everything you need to know is in this file, oh, and I also made you a new email address. Evidently, supergirl102 isn’t very professional.”

Mari’s face turns red. “S-shut up.” 

“The password is ILoveMyLittleBrother - all the correspondences between the company and you are there.”

“Wait, you impersonated me in the email? How the fuck am I going to make them believe I’m a reputable investor?”

“What, you think I’ll be any better?” Yuuri pulls a face. “It’ll be fine, they’re a skincare brand, you love skincare! Don’t forget, you’ve got the upper hand, neesan! You’re an investor!” 

“Ehhh! Yuuri! I can’t do that!” 

“Neesan,” Yuuri crouches down, fingers resting on his older sister’s hand, looking so earnest and hopeful, Mari can’t help her stomach from dropping. “Read the files.” 

 

***

(Currently…) 

Marunouchi, 

Tokyo, Japan 

 

A young woman is kneeling, bowing her head so far down that it’s almost touching the floor. A,  frankly, unpleasant middle-aged man with a balding at the apex of his head, is sitting in front of her, blasé and arrogant. Mari feels her eye twitch. 

“Yui!” Momo screams, shoving past Mari into the Head Office room. She grabs her friend’s arm, trying to yank her up. “What are you doing? Stand up!” 

“She’s right, Yui!” Nako cries, “Don’t do this, come on, stand up.”

“Haaa!” The man’s tries to present a certain image to the rom, deepening his own voice so that it sounds unnatural. “What do you think you’re doing? Can’t you see I’m punishing her?”

“This isn’t right!” Momo rages. “You’re the one in the wrong-”

I’m in the wrong? Me?” He scoffs, voice grating on Mari’s ears. “Preposterous! I’ve done nothing but house you girls since you came here. Look around, see if anyone else gives you a better deal than me? You come in here and demand that I foot the bill for your own renovations? How dare you!”

“I- I just asked that you fix the heating-”

“BAH! You just want to wring me for all my money, after I gave you such a low rate! We’re in the main business district, and I only charge you ¥40,000!” 

“Sounds like you’re scamming them.”

The man chokes on his spit, swirling around. Mari smiles, wiggling her fingers in greeting. 

“Mimura-san, I presume?” She crosses her arms over her chest, the sound of her heels resonating against the marbled floor. She makes a noise of admiration. “Wow, that’s a nice television setting you’ve got there - Samsung? And it’s got LED reflector light? Must be expensive, I wonder how you can afford it, considering you have no other tenants besides KUMA.” 

Mimura’s face turns deathly pale. 

“What?!” Momo shouts. 

Nako gasps loudly. “Wha- but there’s storefronts! Whenever we buzz in, there’s names on the doors!”

“Fake.” Mari waves her hand. “It’s why he made you have the basement room, so you’d never notice that they’re all empty. The buzzers outside are just to make the building seem like it’s leasing legitimate business.” 

Mari grins brightly. In reality, Mimura-san here doesn’t even have a landlord license.” 

“You- How dare you step into my building, sprouting such nonsense !” He rushes towards her in a bid of intimidation, but then loses his footing when he realises that Mari is a good ten inches taller than him. She tilts her head down, eyes narrowing into a deadly stare. 

“Really? You think I’m lying? Well, it’s certainly good that I've done my research.” She winks, a gleam of amusement in her eyes. Lifting up her 

“You have no idea who you’re messing with! I could bury you within a second.”

“I could buy your whole building without making a dent in my savings. But, I’m a reasonable person.” She shrugs her shoulders. “I’m sure instead, NHK News will love to see a little report on their desk about an old man abusing , especially since Morooka-reporter is such a good friend of my brother.” 

Mimura pales even further. Pulling out a packet of cigarettes, she exhales a huge cloud of smoke, watching it billow out into the air above.

“Oh, I can see the article now, ‘Old Man Evades Tax by denouncing his tenants right to a working heater’ - I’m sure the readers would eat it right up, especially since it’s been only two weeks since the Miyauchi scandal.” 

Her face turns impassive. “You know, the one where twelve tenants froze to death because their landlord demanded they pay for their own necessities. I’m sure public opinion will be on your side.” She winks, flicking her cigarette butt out of the window. 

“Just a small wrench in your plan.” He laughs, sneering. “They signed the contract.”

“Oh, this contract?” Mari dangles the lease in front of Mimura. “This same contract, the one that’s automatically invalidated because of its illegal requirements and there being no notarization from a legitimate lawyer? That contract?” 

God, watching his face turn a different shade of purple is way better than staying inside the hotel napping, Mari grins to herself. 

“Girls!” She claps her hands loudly, watching as all three members of KUMA jump at the booming sound, evidently being dumbfounded to silence by the sudden turn of events. 

“Did you know that under multiple legislations that were passed, say, fifty years ago, your landlord is required to provide heating, adequate ventilation through both windows and vents and a clear fire exit?” 

“W-what?” Yui whispers, voice breaking. “We- we don’t even have a window in our room.”

“Hmm, yes it was the first thing I noticed.” Mari says. “A big red flag, if I do say so myself. All of those requirements our dear Mimura here failed to provide you. Adding on to the fact that he doesn’t even have a landlord licence?” Mari purses her lips, clicking her tongue and gesturing in a ‘slit-throat’ motion. 

“He could be fined up to what, give or take a billion yen,” She shrugs her shoulders. “Perhaps you’d like to her all about the ten year prison sentence instead?” 

“In fact, don’t take it from me. Boys?” She calls out. 

Suddenly, there’s an influx of uniformed police officers storming their way through the door. Mimura shrieks, looking around in fear and confusion. Momo grabs Yui away from the floor, holding her tightly as Nako crowds close towards them, crying freely.  

“We’ll take it from here, Katsuki-san.” One of the officers tips his hat towards her, another two grab Mimura from behind, twisting his arms as the sprout of his rights. 

“Wha- you can’t do this!” He screeches. “I own this building!” 

“No you don’t.” Mari calls out to him as he struggles against the officers. He chokes, eyes bugging out of his sockets. 

She winks, charmingly “ I do.” Technically, Yuuri brought it under my name a month ago, but details, details . She thinks to herself. 

“Wh-what do you mean by that?” Nako stumbles towards her, and Mari is quick to catch her hand as her body tips forward.  Mimura goes limp in the officer's hold, escorted out as more and more detectives enter the room. Now that she’s looking for it, Nako can hear the blare of sirens reach her ears. 

“He has never owned the building - in fact, he and his buddies had been running a huge scam renting out different abandoned offices to people and cutting the price. Of course, the bank only found out about it when I bought this building around a month ago.” Mari winces to herself. “I’m just taking back what’s mine from an illegal squatter.”

“Ah, I think I’m going to faint.” Yui heaves up like she’s about to throw up, only still on her feet because of Momo’s bruising grip on her forearm. 

“Thank you, Katsuki-san.” A detective walks up towards her, shaking her hand. “If it wasn’t for you, we’d never have caught Mimura and his team.”

Mari bows towards the man. “I’m happy to help. Considering it is my building, I guess it’s a win-win situation.” 

“What- what does that mean for us?” Yui cries. “Please, we- we don’t have anywhere else to go, he, we’ve been renting this place for a year .”

“And you’ll be reimbursed for that.” Mari motions for an officer to bring Mimura’s chair out from around the desk, settling Yui into it before she faints. “Since it happened under the bank’s nose, they’ll be willing to repay you all of your rent. So if it’s been a year, that’s around 480,000 yen you’ll get back whilst this is being sorted out.”

“But- how long will that take?” Momo cuts in, crossing her arms. “We can’t afford to wait around, our stock will expire and then we’ll have to enter bankruptcy just to pay off the suppliers. That’s not even including all of the packaging we bought that will go to waste and-”

Mari raises a hand up, and Momo becomes silent. “There’s a reason I bought this building. Yui, don’t you recognise my name?”

Nako nudges her, “She said her name was Katsu-”

Katsuki Mari.” Yui looks up. “We’ve been corresponding emails for two months.”

“Yes, well, actually it was mostly my assistant.” She hopes nobody catches her lie, damn Yuuri for leaving her in this mess. “I’m mostly stuck in Kyushu with my family’s business, and they handled most of it.” 

“Is- is that why you bought the building?”

“Well, some of the things you told me in your emails didn’t sound right, my assistant sent it directly to the authorities. Apparently, they’d been trying to find Mimura for years .” 

“But what can we do?” 

“Don’t worry, I’m not in the business of turning out those in desperate need. I’m far too kind for that.” She flutters her eyelashes. “Instead, how about singing a new lease with me?” 

“I- with you?”

“Mn.” She nods her head. “I mean, the police will have to search the premises to gather more evidence, but they assured me that it would take two days max. Rent around here is on average 290,000 yen, but personally, the building isn’t up to par with that price. I’ve already paid for renovations to happen however as soon as the police are out, which is why all of this happened so quickly. My apologies for blindsiding you, but the detectives were adamant I keep quiet until they arrested Mimura and his accomplices.” 

“But that doesn’t change the fact that we’re still out of a place to stay.” Momo points out. “We’re back to square one.”

“Not necessarily.” Mari leans against the desk. “That was me being your landlady. I didn’t say anything about me as an investor.”

Yui can’t help the spark of hope fill her chest. She looks up at Mari with tears streaming down her eyes. 

She opens up her satchel, pulling out an itemised file and setting it down in front of Yui. “Here’s my proposal. I can give you 100,000,000 yen right now. On the next page, I’ve listed temporary rental offices nearby that can house the three of you to work. The next page also lists temporary warehouses where you can safely store all of your stock. Renovations won’t take longer than three weeks, so after then, you can move back here, if you so wished.” 

"I- we-” Finally, as if all her emotions have suddenly caught up to her, Momo lets out a huge wail, tears dripping down her cheeks. Yui grips her arm, and suddenly, she entangles Nako and Momo into a hug, tightly drawing them both towards her as close as possible. 

Mari watches from the side, a soft smile spreading across her face. 

“Do we sign now?” Yui blubbers out. 

“No.” Mari crosses her arms. “Didn’t you learn anything from today? What you’re going to do is go home, rest, and then you’re going to hire a lawyer. Then, they are going to go over both the tenancy and investment contract and then we’ll set up another meeting in the new year to go over anything you might want to add.” 

“Okay, neesan !” Momo cries out, clenching her fists together, and looking up at her with stars in her eyes. “I’ll listen to everything you say!” 

“Good.” Mari laughs. “What have we learnt today, ladies? Always have a lawyer look over your contracts.” 

“Hai!” Their voices ring out. 

Nako bites her lip, before tugging at Mari’s sleeve, her eyes trailed on the annotated file of incredible detail in front of her. “Erm… how did you plan all of this out?”

Her cheeks puff up with air, and she slowly releases it as if she too, had no idea. “I’ve got a really good assistant.”  

*** 

( Viktor screams, throwing popcorn at the television. “I can’t believe I gave Taiyō free promotion and they ended up being a blood-sucking leech! That sunscreen was my favourite thing in the world, and now I can never use it again! I loved that line!” He cries. 

“Baby, I think you’re getting into this a little too much. It’s just a documentary.” 

“Just a documentary?!” Viktor turns towards Yuuri, aghast at the man he married. “They stole someone else’s formula! Tamura Momo spent her whole life perfecting that sunscreen and then her and her team got ripped off in seconds! Her and her friends just wanted to build something together since they were kids, and instead, they got the fucking capitalist parasite that is Taiyō Cosmetics stealing their formular and patenting it behind their back! Taiyō didn’t even get a slap on the wrist! They even tried to bury this documentary!”  

Tears slip down Viktor’s cheeks in plump drops, and Yuuri is quick to wipe them away, tucking his husband’s face into his neck and running his fingers through his hair in a calming motion. 

“That poor company. They went through so much!” Viktor’s voice is muffled against his throat, but Yuuri has spent a lifetime hearing Viktor’s voice and understands it just as well. “They got scammed by their own landlord and then their sunscreen formular got stolen and made billions of dollars worldwide! And I helped! Ugh, if I could go back in time, I would save them in a heartbeat!” ) 

Chapter Text

Jan 1 

Yu-Topia Katsuki

Hasetsu, Japan 

04:08 

New Years Day 

 

Yuuri breathes deeply, his jaw stretching low as he lets out a loud yawn. His eyes sting with sleep as he ushers himself out of his bedroom, slipping his fingers underneath his glasses to rub at his eyes roughly. 

Yu-Topia Katsuki is empty of all customers, a shell of its usual boisterous self. Yet, with the brightly lit garlands sprouting all across the inn, Yuuri’s home is as bright as when it is filled. Vicchan yips from his place at the bottom of the stairs, and Yuuri scoops him up, burrowing himself into the soft fur of his dog. 

“Yuu-chan.” Yuuri’s breath catches.  

“It’s been a while, sweetheart.” 

There she is, his grandmother, all seventy-two years of age. Her hair is more of a light brown than the grey he remembers, face plumper with only a few wrinkles around her eyes. She hadn’t been around to see Yuuri win gold. His heart twists at the sight of her, healthy and alive. 

“Obaachan.” He doesn’t put down Vicchan, instead rushing to loop his arms around her small shoulders as tightly as possible. “What are you doing here?” 

Vicchan yelps at being squished between the two bodies, and his grandmother smacks his back hard . Yuuri cringes, depositing Vicchan in his grandmother’s arms while rubbing his back frantically, attempting to alleviate the pain of the elderly woman’s indomitable strength. 

His grandmother ignores his cry of pain, too busy soothing her favourite grandchild. “Oh, my Vicchan. Did your niisan hurt you? Don’t worry, grandma will punish him!”

Obaachan!”  

“Darling, please don’t tease our Yuuri.” His grandfather pops next to him, immediately pulling Yuuri into a tight hug as well. He looks so much more younger than Yuuri remembers, his strong hold on Yuuri’s shoulders tightening when he attempts to wiggle out of his grasp. “Oh, Yuu-chan. It’s been far too long since I last saw you.”

“Well it’s your fault.” His voice doesn’t sound annoyed, instead filling with warmth. “How’s Osaka?”

“Horrible!” His grandmother cries, interrupting her husband. “I don’t know why we decided to move with you Aunt, Yuu-chan. I should have moved to Hasetsu with your mother years ago.”

“That’s a lie.” His grandfather rolls his eyes from behind her, motining for Yuuri to help him walk. “You hated Toshiya’s mother. Besides, she loves the city too much. It’s doing her some good by coming here though, the air is much cleaner.”

Yuuri helps his grandfather settle in their family quarters in the downstairs lobby. It’s a small ‘staff-room’ of sorts, with a second-hand, worn out L-shaped futon pushed into the corner. His grandfather pats him on the arm, whilst his grandmother continues to shower Vicchan with belly rubs, sitting crossed leg on the floor. 

“Yuu-chan!” Arms wrap around his neck, cutting off his circulation. He gasps out, clawing at the hand as his Aunt Hisae digs her knuckles into his hair. 

Obasan! I can’t breathe! ” 

She giggles, releasing him from her grasp. Instead, she twists him around so that he’s facing her, immediately reaching up to pinch his cheeks. “If it isn’t our fancy National athlete!” 

Yuuri’s face burns red. “Let’s not talk about that.”

“What?!” Hisae cries out. “No way, I came all the way here to see your medals! I promised to send them to the kids.” She grabs his arm, shaking him roughly. Yuuri frowns at the thought of his distant cousins, all of whom were well into their thirties and had kids of their own, and instead, decided the best course of action to deal with Aunty Hisae at three in the morning was to not interact with her at all. 

“Hisa-chan. It’s three in the morning.” Yuuri bows immediately at the sight of his Aunt’s wife, Ayuka. She rounds the last member of the party, coming inside to ruffle his hair. 

“Morning, Yuu-chan.” She extracts Yuuri from her wife, linking her arms through his and dragging him towards the kitchen. 

“Are you helping with the mochi?” 

She nods solemnly at that. “In-law duties. Your dad’s in the backyard doing it too.” 

Yuuri grimaces. “Wait.. is that why you’re dragging me there?!”

She tightens her grip on his arm. “Are you going to leave your elderly aunt and father out in the cold, January air?”  

Yuuri fails to escape, as Aunty Ayuka drags him all the way into his backyard. The garden was his father’s pride and joy, separated from the rest of the inn by locked gates. Inside, there were fresh produce that his father would painstakingly care for, enough that they were able to provide their guests with the freshest ingredients. 

It’s alight with lanterns now, garlands and wreaths of flowers lovingly hanging from the walls and around the garden. Yuuri stills, frozen in his tracks. 

It wasn’t that the Katsuki family was a small one, it was just that they were never around whilst Yuuri was growing up. His father had been an only child, inheriting his family business from his parents. There was a second cousin that he knew of, Uncle Keisuke, a lone bachelor that Yuuri could see now helping his father pour a humongous rice flour into the mochi mixture, ready to be pounded. 

The rest of his family however were on his mother’s side, sprawled far across the mass of Japan, too far away for Yuuri to know them well. On top of that, the generational gap between Yuuri and the other members of his family was so huge that by the time Yuuri was five, most of his cousins were either in college or married. 

Suffice to say, Yuuri had expected to spend New Years with just his family and Minako-sensei. Of course, he is completely wrong. 

He should have realised when his mother’s parents had first arrived. Aunty Hisae and Aunty Ayuka were less of a surprise - since they lived with his grandparents, it made sense that they came together. 

But walking outside and seeing gaggles of cousins and aunts he barely remembers, all with the accompanying “ Do you remember me? I used to change your diapers when you were a baby ”, or “ You’ve grown so much taller since I’ve seen you last! ” when they have not in fact met before, or the dreaded “ You’ve gotten so handsome. You must have a girlfriend or boyfriend? Oh, you don’t? Such a shame, you know, my shogi partner’s grandson is a very handsome boy, you’d love him!” - Yuuri is feeling a little overwhelmed. 

Sue him, it’s four in the morning and he’s running on five hours of sleep. 

Aunty Ayuka drags him towards his father, who immediately puts him to work kneading some type of mochi dough. Another grand-uncle comes up to him, chastising his kneading prowess. The sun begins to rise by the time all of the mochi is flavoured and shaped, and Yuuri and his family are ushered back inside to the banquet hall by the aunties, where his mother has set out a feast for breakfast. 

Minako turns up somehow around this time, joyously announcing her arrival with cheers from the adults as she brands crate-full boxes of sake. Both generations of Nishigoris appear as well, Takeshi and his father carrying in more breakfast dishes to help with the sudden influx of people, as Yuuko and her mother-in-law attempt to wrangle the toddlers into sitting positions rather than crawling all over the place, enacting havoc. 

Soon, Yu-Topia Katsuki glows with festivities. It may be closed for the holidays, but it is alive with noise. Yuuri’s mother is at the forefront, orchestrating an incredible routine of sending food out of the kitchen and into the banquet halls, aunties and uncles all coming together to help. 

Various osechi dishes are placed around the banquet hall. Zōni is ladeled into Yuuri’s little soup bowl, the pieces of mochi that he had painstakingly made floating to the top. His stomach growls, and he shovels the food into his mouth without waiting, savouring the taste. 

Sometimes, Yuuri forgets that he’s the youngest in his entire family. Maybe it’s because he’s actually an adult, but he finds that wherever he goes, he is being accosted by some kind of relative ready to pinch his cheeks and coo at him like he’s a toddler. It’s fine, he thinks begrudgingly - when he finishes one bowl of rice, another is pushed in front of him, or another piece of tamagoyaki is shovelled into his mouth by an overeager aunty. 

Mari squeezes next to him, her body pressed closely to Yuuri’s side. There is no room for Yuuri to move his chopsticks at all, but he cannot stop the flood of warmth that fills him at the noise that surrounds Yu-Topia Katsuki. She piles her plate with delicacies, chowing down next to Yuuri as the sound around him becomes muffled, honing in on his sister’s sudden appearance. 

“When did everyone get here?” Yuuri murmurs, voice drowned out by the loud clattering of his family. 

Mari chuckles, nudging his side. “Around midnight, after you fell asleep.”

“Is that why the inn’s closed for the holidays?” Mari makes what Yuuri assumes is a noise of confirmation, but is really just her gulfing down food in a series of inhuman inhalations. Yuuri is quick to hand her a napkin when the soup dribbles out of the side of her mouth. 

“They wanted to keep the National champion all to themselves.” Yuuri evades the scrunched up napkin she sends his way, glowering at his sister. 

“Junior National Champion.”

“Who got silver at seniors . It's an incredible feat, Yuuri.”

“Well, what about you? Businesswoman has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?” Yuuri narrows his eyes, a shameless smirk stretching across his face. “You’ve been glued to your phone ever since Tokyo-”

He yelps sharply, cringing away as Mari twists his ear painfully. “Who’s fault is that? You dropped me in the middle of an on-going police investigation !” She whispers harshly, eyes shifting around conspiratorially. Lowering her voice, she says, “If I told kaasan what we got up to in Tokyo, I’d be ten feet under the ground.” 

“It worked out in the end!”

“Barely!” She screeches under her breath. “I’m in over my head! They all think I can walk on water just because I was able to balance their stock-input/output figure and know how to work excel.”

“Which you did spectacularly . ” 

“Not the point Yuuri! I’m used to making sure the inn has enough towels in the onsen, not how much stock intake a skincare company can keep before it expires before launch! How the fuck did you even know about all that-” 

“Yuuri-kun!” Yuuri’s eyes almost roll to the back of his head in relief as someone unceremoniously plops themselves in front of him, chopsticks reaching out for some tamagoyaki. It’s Shun-san, one of his cousins that’s closer in age (and by closer, Yuuri means he’s in his early thirties with a child on the way). “How’s school? Feeling okay about the entrance exam?” 

“Oh, I hope I’ll do well.” 

Mari chokes on her mouthful sake. “ Okay? Your teachers think you’re Einstein reincarnated into a second life. Onii-san , Yuuri ranked fifth in his class during midterms, and sixth in the entire school.” 

One of the Aunties behind him actually shrieks , and there is a sudden moment when everything goes quiet, the sound of utensils clattering to the table. Then, pandemonium hits. 

“Sixth in his entire school?!”

“How did you have time to study? You were at competitions all year, Yuuri-kun!”

“Rena-chan, look at your cousin! He was out of the country and still , he’s keeping up with his studies!”

“Hiroko, what are you teaching this boy?” One of his aunties clasps onto his mother’s arm. 

“Well… the truth is…” Hiroko laughs awkwardly, her voice high and uncomfortable. “Toshiya and I don’t do anything. It’s all Yuuri-kun.” Yuuri keeps his eyes focused on his soup. 

The aunties around become even more enamoured. There is an influx of people turning towards Yuuri, and he can feel his body clam up at the attention. His cheeks flush red, and he pinches Mari’s thigh when she snickers loudly. 

“Yuuri-kun, well done!” 

“He’s smart and a national athlete?”

“Wow, how did he get so self-sufficient? It’s like a war just waking Mika-chan up to get ready!”

“So,” Aunty Ayuka pipes up from across the room. “What university are you applying for?”

Minako catches Yuuri’s eye. She raises an eyebrow.

Well , he thinks to himself. Might as well pull the bandaid off. 

“I’ve been searching for a new coach for seniors. There is one I’ve made contact with, but he’s American so I’m thinking of applying to a university over there.”

America?!”

“An overseas university? My god!”

“Toshiya! Your son at an American university? How incredible!”

“He’d be the first in the family, right? Who else has gone to university?” 

His parents’ mouths are wide open. Mari eyes are popping out of her sockets. Nishigori might have fainted. Yuuri wants to die . Shun looks around at the room in commiseration, places his two hands together and bows deeply at Yuuri. “I never should’ve mentioned anything. Forgive me, Yuuri-kun.” 

Yuuri laments into his soup. 

***

Hasetsu Higashi Senior High, 

Hasetsu, Japan 

Saturday Morning 



Yuuri truly did not understand the severity of nerves that would hit him as soon as he arrived at the entrance of Hasetsu Higashi. Mari nudges him from behind, camera flashing as he turns around. “Can you stop taking pictures? What the fuck, neesan .”

She rolls her eyes and takes no head to his words, phone clicking after each photo is taken. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I’m about to throw up.”  

She takes a side-step away from him. “Not on my shoes. They’re new.”

“Oh, that’s fine. It’s not like I have control over my regurgitating functions. I’ll just aim for some bushes or something.”  

“Nice plan.” 

“Yuuri-kun!” A voice shouts from inside the gates, and Abe comes tumbling towards him, cheeks flushed and his backpack slung tightly across his back. “How are you feeling?”

“I’d stay out of the splash zone, Abe-kun.” Mari holds her hand out in preparation, snickering. “He’s feeling a little nauseous today.” Abe unceremoniously takes a step back. 

“Stop making fun of me!” Yuuri cries to his sister harshly. “Abe-kun. I’m fine, just nervous.”

“Me too.” His friend is actually trembling, whether from the cold January air or nerves, Yuuri doesn’t know. “Want to come inside? Sensei has tea for everyone who came early.” 

“I-I guess so. Yeah, no, I’m going inside.” Yuuri clenches his fists, taking a deep breath. “If I think about it anymore, I’ll actually throw up. Let’s just get this over with.”

“Good plan.” Abe says. “It’s just a boss level. We’ve won plenty of those.”

Yuuri turns back to Mari who stays outside of the school grounds. She tilts her head and rolls her eyes. “You’ve got this.” She winks at him. 

Yuuri takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. This was it. Celestino and Detroit were waiting for him after the finishing line. Just the last hurdle he needed before he could reach the senior circuit. Just a little longer. 

***

[ VIDEO: An excerpt from Tokyo News, one of the biggest news channels in Japan. Behind the announcer, there are repeated clips of students taking the National Test for University Admissions. Underneath the screen, there is a rolling banner that says ‘ shiken jigoku’ , otherwise known as ‘exam hell’. 

The announcer begins to speak. “The National Test for University Admissions has finally concluded this Sunday, with experts saying it is the hardest version of the test in over thirty years. This has tracked recent data linking the difficulty of the entrance exams to lower university admission rates throughout the country. Stay tuned as we talk to some students as they leave the entrance hall in Tokyo…)

***

Monday 

Ice Castle Rink, 

Hasetsu, Japan 

 

“You think he’s alright?” Takeshi’s eyes trail after Yuuri, who is walking through the locker room. 

Takeshi wouldn’t normally watch Yuuri get changed, but well, when his friend walked face first into the entrance door and then proceeded to stumble into the locker room like he’d been possessed, he feels like he has a right to worry! 

Yuuri’s cheeks had sunken into their bones, losing all of his signature rounded chub. Dark layers shadowed his under eyes, and his lips were void of any colour. For all intents and purposes, Katsuki Yuuri looked like death

It had gotten to the point where Takeshi and his father, Koushi, decided that for Yuuri's sake, it would be best if the two of them followed him around the rink to ensure he didn’t accidentally maim himself before Worlds. But well, what does one say when their friend has just finished one of the most gruelling tests of the century? 

“He’s acting like this because of the exam, isn’t he?” Takeshi’s father sighs deeply. “I watched the news, does he really think he can’t get into an American university?”

Takeshi bites the inside of his cheek. “Maybe. Mari says he’s been like this for the whole week. He prepared really hard for them too.” Takeshi shivers, remembering Yuuri’s intense studying. He could’ve sworn that metaphorical fire was exploding around him with how fast he had been annotating his notes. “There’s no reason for him to be in school now that exams are over, but…”  

“If he gets on the ice like this he’ll injure himself.” His father finishes. 

“Exactly.” Takeshi narrows his eyes. “What time is the next class coming in?” 

“You mean the beginner’s class? Yuuko’s out on the rink now. They’ll just be on for around half an hour before I need to resurface the ice. Your hockey team is coming at six, right?”  

“So we have no other lessons between four and five?” His father gives him an affirmative nod. 

“Do you know if Haru-chan decided to start lessons again?”

His father frowns. “Well, she’s out on the rink now with the other kids, but it’s the same problem as before. There’s not much Yuuko can teach her.”

“Wait, she’s here? Right now?”

“Well, yes-” Takeshi runs further down the locker-room hallway, leaving his father behind. 

“Ni-Nishigori!” Yuuri screeches out, gripping his sports jacket tightly in his hand. Takeshi is heaving loudly, latching onto Yuuri by the shoulders.  “I- how long have you been here?”

“Long enough to know that you’re out of it.” His eyes narrow, realising Yuuri is holding his national jacket. “Where’s your ‘Ice Castle’ merchandise?! You promised to wear it! Besides, you hate wearing the national jacket when you don’t have to.”

“I’ve lost it, okay!” He cries. “I have no idea where it is. It’s not like it’s a generic black hoodie or something. It probably got stuck in Mari’s laundry again. Can’t you just give me another one?”

“Like hell! Buy it from us this time!” Takeshi growls. 

Takeshi .” His father interrupts him, having finally followed the two further into the adult locker room.  He smiles benevolently towards Yuuri in a full 180-turn from the demon eyed glare he had sent towards his son. “You’re talking about that hoodie you always wear- the one with our logo? I’m sure there’ll be some in stock at the gift shop. Ask Fumie-chan later, I’m sure she’ll be happy to give it to you.” 

“Oh- thank you, Nishigori-san.” Yuuri bows. Takeshi’s screams about ‘lost business’ seem to fall on deaf ears as Koushi leaves the two of them alone in the locker room, humming to himself.  

In the silence, Yuuri’s friend takes a deep sigh, before sticking his thumb towards the door, looking at Yuuri with beady eyes. “Come with me.” 

“What? Why?”

Takeshi tightens his hold on Yuuri’s shoulder. “Because I said so. Oh, at least wear your clothes properly before you walk out. Your pants are inside out.”

Yuuri looks down at his legs, eyes widening. He scrambles out of the locker room in record time.

There was not much noise surrounding the rink today than usual. After Yuuri’s increased ‘celebrity status’ in Hasetsu, or whatever it was that Minako called it, Ice Castle had seen a record number of calls asking if classes would start up again. 

The rink had fallen on hard times in the past few years, with less and less people willing to pay for figure skating lessons. Of course, that usually meant Yuuri had the rink to himself, but that added bonus paled in comparison to the fact the rink had been on the brink of closing. 

Their only source of income had been from Yuuri himself (who was given a very discounted rate) and Takeshi’s junior ice hockey team from Hasetsu Middle School that came every day after school.

In that sense, you could almost call it cataclysmic, the very moment Yuuri began making national and international news. 

Suddenly, everyone wanted to know about the rink that trained the Junior Grand Prix champion. 

There had been a huge influx of calls at reception, to the point where Takeshi’s cousin Fumie would come around to help after school. Everyone was asking the same two questions - who was coaching Katsuki-senshu, and were they available for more students? 

Of course, Ichika was very firm, telling everyone who called that Okukawa was not a figure skating coach, but instead was doing a favour for Yuuri. She then mentioned that Okukawa was in fact a ballet teacher, and directed calls back to Minako’s studio. 

Which, yes, also meant that Minako was now under a pile of people begging to take lessons at her school, even willing to board here in Hasetsu if it meant that their child would be taking classes from the esteemed Okukawa-sensei herself. 

Both companies were overrun with demand, and it had been all hands on deck the moment Yuuri had returned back to Hasetsu after senior Nationals. 

Yuuko had convinced her mother-in-law that they shouldn’t accept any coaching enquiries, at least not until they hired new skating teachers that were willing to come and live in nowhere-Hasetsu. She, herself, was feeling overwhelmed by the increased demand from Hasetsu itself , especially as she was the only qualified teacher available at Ice Castle. 

The parents who called were looking for someone to make their child a champion, and for all intents and purposes, Katsuki Yuuri was an anomaly who had essentially trained himself. It was baffling to all. 

After the sudden overhaul of insanity, Ice Castle had fallen into a manageable swell of business. Minako’s dance studio, however, was not manageable, and was moving ahead purely on Minako’s own grit and effort. It meant that Yuuri was coachless most of the time, (which, to be fair, Minako really couldn’t help him with the technical aspects anyway). He kept up his training, but with school now finished and Junior Worlds three months away, he was being buried with boredom. 

It was a sluggish sort of feeling. Who knew he was almost begging for some kind of problem to come up? 

He had started the application process for universities, including applying to some online colleges in case Detroit fell through. Celestino had been a bright light in the entirety of it - he was an adjacent professor in the Health and Sports department at Wayne State, which meant Yuuri had a shining recommendation from a professor already set for his application. It also meant that if Wayne State fell through, Yuuri would still have access to the university rink via Celestino, so if he had to take online classes instead, he would still be set. 

So, there really wasn’t anything for Yuuri to do, bar training. He wasn’t set to start intensive training for Worlds until February, and so, all he could do was listlessly trail around the rink, doing odd-jobs for Koushi and Ichika to make up for letting him run amok in their business most of the time.  

He’d already given his soul away to Minako, spending most of his mornings at her studio. The sharp uptake growth of people willing to travel to Hasetsu to be taught at her school meant that she needed more ballet instructors for all ages. That in turn, meant that Yuuri had been stuck in her office on the top floor, vetting out new applications ready for her to interview later on in the week. 

It was the biggest movement Minako’s company had in years - all prepped and raring to go for when she’d return full-time after Junior Worlds. His teacher had looked exhausted, but there had been a light in her eyes that Yuuri had not seen in years. 

She had shooed him away after spending all morning with her, and here he was, thinking about ways to keep busy. He thought about attempting to help Fumie man the reception area again, but quickly shook his head of the thought. Everyone and their mother had seen the chaos that had erupted when Yuuri had attempted to man the station in the past. 

He was thinking of staying at rentals, re-organising skates or taking stock - Fumie could record the skater’s sizes and he could bustle around in the stockroom, hiding from the world. It was at least something proactive, and then Takeshi had gripped his shoulders tightly and ushered him towards the main rink. 

He nudges him now, eyes narrowed. “That’s our beginner class, well, it’s our only level at the moment. We can’t accept anyone who’s intermediate to advanced since it’s just Yuuko teaching. We’ve had to split them by age instead.” The group was not big, with Yuuri counting five children under the ages of five. Most of them could only reach the top of Yuuko’s knees, and were holding on tightly to the side of the rink, shuffling forward in a single line. From the side, there were parents and friends filming the children, and Yuuri would’ve spent more time looking if his eyes didn’t suddenly catch a figure on the opposite side of the rink, running through what looked like some simple jumping passes. 

“How old are they?”

“The youngest is Akiko-chan, she’s four. This group usually ranges from three to five. If they can master standing on their feet, we move them up with the big boys, but there aren’t a lot of older skaters. In fact, most of them already quit, we just have one - oh, you might know her, Haruka-chan.”

“Saito’s granddaughter.” Yuuri interrupts, frowning. “Yeah, of course I do. She’s always at the inn. She didn’t tell me she was skating again.” 

Takeshi purses his lips. “You know, the only reason she quit was because Yuuko couldn’t teach her anything else. We tried to convince her parents to get her a coach in Saga, but well, you can’t expect them to drive two hours every weekend for a one-hour class. Plus, with Sakura going back to Minako’s class, her parents would prefer it if she switched over to ballet.” 

“But she loves skating! You can’t force someone to do another sport when-”

“I know Yuuri.” Takeshi rests his hand on Yuuri’s arm. “But it’s not like I can convince her parents. And why should I? I understand their perspective. It would be easier if she chose another extracurricular activity that Hasetsu actually offers, but…” Takeshi sighs deeply, eyes turned back on to the ice. Yuuri follows his gaze, and he sees it. 

Haruka is set apart from her peers, going through what seems to be jumping passes away from the rest in a smaller part of the rink. Yuuko makes occasional glances towards her, but her focus is always pulled back towards the small group of children in front of her. She is alone, out there on the ice, so far ahead of the younger kids in her class that it seems prudent to leave her by herself. 

“Look, to her parents skating is just a hobby, but I look at Haru-chan, and I- '' Takeshi scoffs out a laugh, sounding so baffled and amused. ”You. She reminds me of you, when we were kids. She’s here, day in, day out, even without a coach. If all she can do is skate around the rink, then she’ll do that for an hour. She can do all of the double jumps, well, except for the axel. We’ve put out job vacancies to see if anyone will come coach junior or intermediate level, especially with the increase in demand, but nobody seems to bite because we’re so isolated from the city. There’s no-one here who’s experienced enough to take her to the next level.”  

Takeshi turns his piercing eyes to Yuuri. “Well, you know, everyone except you.” 

Yuuri’s throat turns dry. He blinks, eyes defocusing as his brain stutters to a stop. His eyes turn back to Haruka. How could he have forgotten that earnest feeling, the magic of being on the ice? 

Yuuri, Yuuri of all people knew exactly what that felt like. He had been Haruka - alone, fighting out of a doghole pit made of his circumstances within Hasetsu. It had only been when he was eleven that things changed - the moment Yuuri had watched Viktor skate in Sofia, he had seen the staircase form, had felt the rope tangle down into the hole. Painstakingly slowly, he had gripped the rope and pulled himself to the edge of the pit, where Viktor lay in weight, hand extended to drag him out for good. 

The rope was still there, dangling in the doghole, but what would be the point if there was no-one there at the top, urging the person to come up - to let them know that it was clear to come up? 

Saito-san was close with his family. As one of the town’s elders, it was almost expected that he was to be revered just on account of his age, but then it was his demeanour that had earned the respect of the rest of the village. Always ready to help anyone in distress, he had been Hasetsu’s biggest supporter. 

Yuuri still remembers with vivid memories the time when his Yu-Topia Katsuki had almost fallen into disrepair along with the other hot spring resorts. It had been Saito himself who had begged his father not to take another loan out, had given his father the money to keep their livelihood afloat with no underhanded intention other than to see his family stay in Hasetsu. Yuuri had been eight at the time, but even then, he had known that the elderly man was a person the Katsuki family would always be indebted towards. 

There was little his father could give back towards Saito-san that the elder would willingly receive - he had almost punched Toshiya when he had tried to return the loaned money. 

Saito was content to live in Hasetsu with his family, he had hoped to see his town thrive, to see the place of his childhood grow to the wonders it once was. 

His only vice was his twin granddaughters - there was nothing he would not do for Haruka and Sakura. With the way Saito talked about the two girls, it was hard not to fall in love with them. They were a staple at the inn, hiding behind him whenever they were there. Everyday, they would watch Yuuri with their big, puppy-dog eyes and Yuuri’s heart would melt a little. 

Perhaps, this way, Yuuri could repay a debt long overdue. It wouldn’t be asking for too much either, Haru-chan would be worth a few lost hours of training.

“I’ll go speak to her.” Takeshi nods his head, although he grumbles underneath his grisly exterior. Yuuri snickers to himself, moving towards the rinkside as Takeshi follows him. 

“How long do we have before Yuuko’s class finishes?”

“We’ve got..” Takeshi pulls a face, squinting at his watch. “Ten… fifteen minutes maybe?” 

“And you don’t have another class after this?”

Takeshi bits his lip to stop himself from smiling. “Nope. Not until my babies come at six.”

Yuuri scowls at the mention of hockey players, but rolls his eyes anyway. Takeshi narrows his eyes as Yuuri turns to walk away from the rink. “Oi, where are you going?”

“Please tell me you’ve thought this through.” Yuuri points towards his national jacket that screams his importance. “There’s no way I’ll be able to talk to Haru-chan if the other skaters see me. I’m not going to deal with the entirety of Hasetsu descending on Ice Castle to beg that I teach their kids skating.” 

Takeshi grimaces, face twisting in sympathy. He snaps his fingers, sending Yuuri a poor imitation of finger guns. “Good plan. What do you want me to do?”

“I’ll be in the meeting room. Bring Haru-chan with you.” Yuuri sends his friend a wink. “You should be used to wrangling unruly girls, right?”

Yuuri’s gone before Takeshi could even beat him for calling his baby triplets ‘unruly.’. They’re complete angels, thank you very much. 

 

***

Miyagawa Haruka is six years old when she sees Katsuki-senpai skate for the first time. 

It was not a televised competition, but it was a regional one, so she had made a big fuss, hoping her parents would let her go to Fukuoka to watch him. In the end, it turned out she didn’t need to - her skating club at Ice Castle had planned a trip to go and support Yuuri, Coach Nishigori saying that it would be like “seeing a pro in action.” 

Katsuki-senpai was different from everyone else. At thirteen, he was already having private lessons with Coach Nishigori, and had won all of the novice competitions he could get his hands on. There were rumours around the rink that he could even become a national champion! 

Except for the triple axel, he could land all triple jumps. His spins were so fast and sharp, Haru had no idea how he was able to twist his body like that. He had incredible edge control and his speed across the ice would make Haru’s brain spin from trying to catch up with him. 

But it was at the regional championships that Haru really understood who Katsuki-senpai was. The way he moved across the ice, it was like nothing Haruka had ever seen before. She had watched some competitions at home before -  when she was five, it had been the Winter Olympics that had made her start figure skating in the first place -  but seeing Katsuki-senpai compete had been so different

He was everything Haruka wanted to be. The difference between them was so large - Katsuki-senpai was in a class of his own, and Haru, poor, six-year-old Haru had been enamoured from the start.  

Of course, reality was a hard pill to swallow. 

Katsuki-senpai did go on to become the junior national champion. In fact, he went on to become the junior world champion, and he did it without a proper coach. Haruka never once won a medal at a novice competition. 

There was only so much that Coach Nishigori could teach her. Ichika Nishigori was a capable teacher, but even she could only teach her students so much. By the time Haru was seven, herself and her peers had stagnated and become disheartened

Katsuki-senpai hired a new coach that would exclusively train him. Nobu was not a very nice person, but Haru couldn’t help the jealousy she felt every time she saw him. At least he was an actual trainer, Haru was still stuck doing double jumps by herself. 

Soon, more and more of her friends started to leave the skating club. There wasn’t much else they could do, how could they be on the same level as Katsuki-senpai, who was just so talented that he could teach himself before an actually qualified coach could come along and help? Everyone else was just average. 

They weren’t winning competitions, in fact, they were coming in dead-last. When Haru was eight, her parents had sat her down and told her that perhaps skating wasn’t for her. Sakura had already dropped skating when they were six, switching over to Okukawa-sensei’s ballet school where she had begun to flourish. 

It was Haru, who was trailing after her twin sister. Haru, who was stuck in an endless loop of hoping that something would change at the rink. It took her being Ice Castle’s only student for her parents to finally pull her from the rink - ‘a waste of money’, they called it - useless, unnecessary, worthless .  

Sometimes, after school when she was alone, the time when her sister would be at Okukawa-sensei’s ballet school, the time when she would’ve been at the rink, Haruka would find pulling out one of her homemade costumes, and just herself staring at the mirror. She would raise the costume up high, dragging the hanger up to her shoulders, and stare at herself. 

Her skates didn’t fit her feet anymore, shoved underneath her bed into a little box. On days like that, she would scrunch her costume up into a ball, and throw it as far away from her. She would crawl downstairs to her grandfather, curl up at his side, and stare at the wall until Sakura came back from ballet. 

Now, at age eleven, things had started to change. Katsuki-senpai himself had fallen into a slump, only to force his way out of his by himself, once again. Watching him at the Junior Grand Prix, surrounded by the other people of Hasetsu, had changed Haru’s whole world. 

It was like he was someone completely different. Something had stirred inside of Haruka’s small heart, a firing passion that burst through her whole body, and suddenly, she had awoken again. 

Her parents weren’t the most appreciative of her taking lessons again, fearful that Haruka would turn into the same, shell-shocked girl from the past. But this time, Haru was determined. If Katsuki-senpai could become a World champion by himself, so could Haruka! 

She just needed to try harder, like Katsuki-senpai.  

A few years ago, Coach Nishigori had passed the business on to her son. Takeshi-sensei had been on the ice since she was four, a grisly figure that made Haru want to cower in fear, but wherever Takeshi-sensei was, Yuuko-sensei was.

Yuuko-sensei was only ever here to teach the beginner classes, spending most of her time with her three toddlers (Axel, Loop and Lutz were so cute , and Takeshi-sensei was infinitely less scary when three babies were hanging off his legs), but when Yuuko-sensei was there, it was like Haru could breathe again. 

She wasn’t the best at teaching her technical things, but at least she would try and help stabilise Haru’s skating. They had tried to do hundreds of different things to improve Haruka’s skating, but alas, Haru could feel the same things happening again. She may have regained most of her double jumps, but there was no way she could compete and win. 

So imagine her surprise, when Takeshi-sensei gruffly calls out her name. Yuuko-sensei looks at him with shock, immediately following Haru as the two of them go towards the rinkside where Takeshi-sensei is standing. 

His hands are crossed over his chest, and he’s making some kind of face towards Yuuko-sensei. 

“What’s wrong, Takeshi?”

“We’ve sorted it out.” He responds to his wife, but his eyes are focused entirely on Haru. She gulps, gripping the edge of her shirt tightly. 

“Am I in trouble?” She whispers, eyes trained on her feet. Her skates had been too big for her, and with such uncertainty as Haru not having a proper coach, her family had conceded to allow her to rent some skates. They weren’t the best fit, nothing like the way her old skates had hugged her ankles perfectly, but Haru wouldn’t complain. She would do everything in her power to move forward, she just needed to prove it to everyone else! She just needed them to believe her, just this once. 

There is something warm flooding her back, and she looks up to find that Yuuko-sensei had placed her hand on her back, and is smiling at her with something Haru did not recognize, (later on, much later, when Haruka is older, she will recognise the look as a combination of relief and happiness, so much happiness .). 

“You’re not in trouble.” Yuuko-sensei crouches down on the ice, smiling. “You’re definitely not in trouble.” 

“She’s right.” Takeshi opens up the ice barrier. “Come with me. There’s someone who wants to speak to you.” 

So she follows Takeshi-sensei, who waits patiently as she slips her skates off and fishes out her trainers from Fumie-chan. There’s a nervous feeling building in her small chest, and she grips her jacket tightly. Questions are swirling in her head, buzzing around with the worst possible scenarios possible. 

Oh god, were her parents here to pick her up? Had they decided that she wasn’t worth the classes? Sakura was winning ballet competitions left and right, Haru had nothing to show for her skating. They weren’t going to let her skate, were they?

She could feel her stomach twisting into a torrent of nerves, eyes pricking with unshed tears. They don’t go outside however, instead, they stop by the front desk. The entrance is well-lit, Makoto-san the single person manning the reception desk. There’s a door behind him though, one that had been infamous to the skaters at Ice Castle. 

The tortue room. 

There is a sign on the door - ‘Staff Only’, disguised as a breakroom of some sorts, but Haruka knew the truth. Makoto-san doesn’t even take notice, far too busy typing away at the computer to realise that Takeshi-sensei was going to send Haru to her doom. 

The layout of Ice Castle was always strange to Haruka. From the outside, the building was so big, but she had only ever seen the single rink inside. Where did all the other space come from? 

She soon found out. Behind the staff door wasn’t a room but a well-lit corridor, with pictures erected all over the wall. Haruka gawks as she follows Takeshi through the hallway. There were black-and-white photos framed high, obviously from a time before Haruka was born, but must;ve been from when the rink was first opened. But the thing that made Haruka gape was how many pictures there were of Yuuri-senpai. 

Posters from when he was at international competitions, photos of him shaking hands with important figures from when he was younger, so many pictures. Haruka could only look in awe, stumbling to keep pace with Takeshi-sensei. 

At the end of the corridor, there are some stairs going up and down. Takeshi-sensei sees her questioning look, and finally begins to speak. “This is our office area, we’ve got to keep the rink running somehow . Downstairs are our archives, I wouldn’t recommend going down there, it’s a complete mess. We’re going upstairs to the meeting room.”

“Meeting room? Why are we going there?”

“You’ll see.” 

Curiosity fills Haruka as she follows her teacher up the stairs, taking two at a time. She reaches the top before Takeshi-sensei, looking eagerly around. He meets her at the top, clearly winded. 

“Having a bit of trouble there, Nishigori?” Haruka’s head snaps up at the sound of someone laughing. 

“Shut up, baka .” Haruka gapes at the sight of Takeshi-sensei blushing . The laughing continues, and Haruka’s mouth drops even wider when the person comes to meet her at the top of the stairs. An angel- a real-life angel , descends from the top level, smiling with celestial elegance, until he stops right in front of her. 

Miyagawa Haruka is eleven years old when she finally talks to Katsuki-senpai for the first time.  

***

“One more time.”

Haru gasps, her stomach heaving as she claws at the rinkside, barely able to keep her up right on the ice. 

This isn’t right , she cries to herself, face creasing in pain, I was wrong. I was so wrong!  

“What, are you tired already, Haru- chan ?” Katsuki-senpai smiles angelically, eyes curling into pretty moon-shapes. Of course, Haruka thinks. There was no way of Haru even knowing that Katsuki-senpai was like this. 

How could she? When he looked like a seraph incarnate. 

But that was the danger of the whole thing - Katsuki looked like an angel, but he was the devil. He sends Haruka smiles that set her heart into palpitations, only to then tell her she needs to do another five laps around the rink.  

An oni , Haruka cries to herself, shaking her head. He’s a training demon. 

Haru thought herself to be a pretty good skater, at least she was the best skater at Ice Castle (bar Katsuki-senpai, but who could compare to him?). She was on a different level than the others who had just started, and despite taking a break for almost a year, she had quickly regained almost all of her double jumps. She knew she was a good skater. So why is it that doing simple skating drills was making her body ache to the point of no return? 

Haruka’s eyes widen, voice trailing out of her mouth like someone is forcibly clogging her throat. “I- are you sure?”

“Of course we are.” Takeshi-sensei crosses his arms. “Yuuri will be taking over your lessons. We wouldn’t have asked if we weren’t sure he had the time. It’s just until we hire a new coach who’s actually vetted for junior skaters, but that could take up to a year or two. You don’t have that kind of time.” 

Katsuki-senpai nods, looking slightly gloomy. “Time is always of the essence, especially in our sport. If you’re serious about skating, then I’ll do my best to help you.” 

Haru thinks of all the time she’d wasted - she had always watched the regional championships, had seen skaters who were only a few years older than her reach their dreams. Something always clawed at her heart whenever that happened, because regardless of what anyone told her, Haru believed in herself that she could reach that stage. She could be a great skater, she just needs help. 

Although, her stomach still twists because Katsuki-senpai wasn’t just any other skater. 

For as long as Haruka had been in the sport, Katsuki-senpai had been the reigning junior National champion. She doesn’t know how many consecutive titles he has won, but it’s more than anything Haruka could even dream of - she hadn’t even qualified for the regional championships! 

Even going further, he was the only Japanese skater to have a high international ranking, and with how record-breaking his new season was being so far, the Junior World title was already hung around his neck. 

Does she really have the right to be in the same club as him, to be taught by him? Haru knew that she was good, but would it be enough? He would be so busy - and what’s worse… What if he fails Worlds because he didn’t have enough time to train because of her? She would never forgive herself-

A hand comes to rest on her head. Haru can feel her erratic heartbeat starting to reside as warmth spreads through her whole body. She looks up, and sees that Katsuki-senpai has risen from his seat. He ruffles her hair slowly, a soft smile on his face. 

“It must’ve been very hard, Haru-chan. You don’t have to worry about anything else, anymore. Leave it to the adults, hm?” 

Leaving to the adults meant that Katsuki-senpai had taken the entire hour just watching Haru struggle.  

When it seemed like he was finished with her, Katsuki-senpai then coached her through some simple drills. From one foot, she was to glide across the rink on the inside edge of her skates, before countering to the outside edge in a single, fluid movement and then switching over to the next foot. It was a beginner’s drill, something she had done since she was four. It should’ve been easy - except Katsuki-senpai was a demon on skates. 

He would do the movement like it was breathing, each part of his body poised to match the drill. It was a perfect execution of the drill, something Haruka quickly found that she was not capable of. The drill started out fine, until Katsuki-senpai told her to continue the same drill without stopping for ten minutes straight. 

Immediately, Haruka’s technique had faulted and her speed had dropped. If she did not focus properly, Katsuki-senpai would add an extra five minutes that she would have to make up. In the end, Haru could not even show Katsuki-senpai her jumping ability. 

“This is the basis of skating.” He had reminded her. “ If you do not have proper skating skills, then the foundations of your jumps will be shaky. If you can’t change between the inside and outside edge fluidly now, how are you going to make sure you're jumping with the right edge?”

He had followed her around the rink, making her do the same drill again and again until he was satisfied. “That was a good lesson .” He had said. “We’ve checked where your basic skating skills are, so I know what we’re working with. I’ll be making you a specialised training menu for tomorrow, so make sure you’re here straight after school.” asking her to do these little tests that made Haru want to throw up - “ We just need to check what we’re working with! I’ll be giving you more specialised training tomorrow.” 

Tomorrow, Haru shuddered. There’s no way she’ll survive tomorrow. If these were just him checking her general skating skills, how on earth is she going to survive Katsuki-senpai’s actual training? There’s no two ways about it - she’s going to die. 

***

Jan 14 

SYMA Sports and Conference Centre, 

Budapest, Hungary 

European Figure Skating Championships Press Conference 

 

“Good evening everyone to this year’s European Figure Skating Championship press conference. Here today, we have the medalists for men’s singles. To start off, just some general questions for all of the skaters - how do you feel following the free skate?”

The cameras pan towards Viktor, and he only has a few moments to realise that everyone is waiting for his answer. Clearing his throat, he opens his mouth to try and fix the situation, already feeling Yakov’s stare drilling into him from the back of the room. 

“I’m satisfied with having two clean performances - of course, I didn’t break the world record this time around, but I’m positive that I’ll have more to show for Worlds. Please keep your eye on me.”

There is a smattering of applause. Viktor smiles pleasantly, his lips curling into a perfect stretch that compliments the angles of his face. His thumb comes underneath to rest under his chin as he leans his whole head on top of his fingers, starting elegantly into the blaring lights of the cameras. 

The interviewer turns to the other skaters on either side of him, and all Viktor can do is let his body run on autopilot. 

It’s been over a month since Yuuri Katsuki had ghosted him - no DM’s on instagram or private chat on twitter, hell he wasn’t even following Viktor! He had left his phone notifications on on both apps, never missing the chance to check it whenever he was free. The thousands of notifications made it almost impossible, and Viktor had sulkingly turned his notifications off. It’s not like finding him would be hard, Viktor was everywhere! 

He’d been wearing the hoodie for so long that Yuuri’s scent, something spiced and warm that embedded itself into the fabric, had well and truly faded away, leaving behind only Viktor’s own clinically clean scent. It was still one of his favourite pieces of clothing to wear - he would spend hours just huddled underneath the thing. It was a warm hug waiting for him on colder days whenever Viktor struggled to get out of bed, but still, there should be a limit to how long a person could drag this on. 

Yuuri Katsuki had left him dry, and Viktor was dying for him to at least acknowledge that they had met. 

He breathes slowly, refocusing his eyes back to the press conference. He makes some noncommittal comment about Worlds, watches as the reporter clutches their heart at his natural flirting, and thinks it’s a job well done. 

Soon, all three of the medalists are ushered backstage as the press conference wraps up. They’re all walking through the hallway, surrounded by last-minute photographers trying to get another shot at them. When they’re left alone, Viktor’s face drops his smile. 

He groans, stretching his body out and rubbing his eyes tiredly. There’s a snort beside him, and Viktor turns to see Christophe Giacommeti, tilting his head and crossing his arms, watching Viktor with a questioning look on his face. 

“What?” Viktor looks down, wondering if there’s something on his clothes. He’s wearing the team’s jersey, a white sports jacket with red accents, but no sign of any food stains or foundation. Maybe there’s something on his face-

“You look dead on your feet.” Ah, so there was something on his face - his expression. Viktor grimaces at being caught. 

“It’s been a long season.” 

Giacometti nods, pursing his lips. “Yeah, it’s been a fun one though. Congrats on your medal - third consecutive one, right?”

Viktor winces at the reminder, bracing himself for more ‘shop talk’. He just wants to curl up in Yuuri’s hoodie and sleep. “Yeah.” He says, reserved. 

“Let me get you a drink.” Christophe pushes himself off against the wall, looking expectantly towards Viktor. 

He narrows his eyes, “What reason would you have to do that? Is this your way of getting the person who beat you drunk off his ass so you can expose him to the world?” 

Christophe barks out a laugh. “You think too hard, Nikiforov. Who said anything about getting drunk? I said I’d buy you a drink.” He claps his hand on Viktor’s shoulders, winking. “What if it’s a celebratory drink? Come on, the hotel bartender’s got a cute accent when he speaks English, with a little lisp on his ‘s’, you’ll find it adorable.” 

“I don’t think we’re close enough for you to know what I find adorable or not.” Viktor digs his heels into the ground. “Besides, I’m not going to get drunk at four pm.” 

Christophe trails his eyes down Viktor’s entire body, looking unimpressed. “You look like you could use it. I’m a Valentine’s baby, just call me cupid, I know a heartbroken soul when I see one.”

“H-heartbroken!?” Viktor sputters. “I am not heartbroken.” 

***

“He’s just so pretty .” Viktor cries into his mojito. 

Christophe rolls his eyes, patting Viktor’s back softly. This had been the third time that Viktor had cried over his boyfriend’s pretty face. God, he hates people who love their significant other - let Chris be single in peace! 

Alas, it seems like he’d bit off more than he could chew with this one. Turns out, Viktor Nikiforov is a crier when he’s drunk - and drunk he is! That Russian alchohol tolerance is a true thing, holy fuck. Christophe does not want to be Viktor’s accountant after their night out as he looks over at the piles of drinks Viktor had somehow weathered through. 

Chris was still nursing his single lone margarita, blinking in the absurdity that Viktor Nikiforov was drunk-mooning over his boyfriend with him in Budapest. 

What a night. 

“So, this boyfriend of yours, you miss him that much?”

“So much!” Viktor whines. “Does he even like me? He never texts me first. I’m all alone, waiting for him to make the first move.”

Christophe chokes on his drink. Viktor Nikiforov, face of Louis Vuitton and Nike and a bunch of other fancy high-end brands, is waiting on someone? What kind of bastard is this guy? 

“That’s so horrible, Viktor. I’m sorry you have to put up with that.”

He glares at Christophe. “Don’t say that about him! He’s perfect! You know, it was freezing in Beijing, I’m always cold, but it was even colder then. He could’ve frozen to death but he made sure to wrap me up in his hoodie, it’s the warmest thing ever. He’s so sweet!” 

Christophe drowns the rest of his drink. So, Viktor Nikiforov was like the rest of them, hopeless when in the face of love. Somehow, it makes him seem normal, like he’s an actual human being instead of a cloned robot made in a Russian lab. He could make a self-help group with Nikiforov, himself and Yuuri - he still couldn't believe that Yuuri had never been on a single date in his life. Maybe the three of them could commiserate about their lonely lives together.

***

Jan 19 

Fukuoka City, 

Fukuoka, Japan 



Neesan

 

Good luck, idiot. 

received  



Yuuko 

You’re going to do great! Your English is the best out of everyone 

received



Abe-kun

Good luck, Yuuri-kun! I still can’t believe you’d do more tests than needed T.T 

received



Minako-sensei 

Deep breathes, kid. Whatever mark you get, I’m proud of you. 

received



Yuuri takes a deep breath, stepping off at Akasaka Station with the pounding of his heart crowinding against his ears. The train had been busy for the entire hour and a half, pushing him up against the train walls as he waited patiently for the train to pull into Fukuoka. 

His last test of his high school career, one that was arguably more important than his entrance exams. The TOEIC. After the complete dumpster fire that was his entrance exam, (honestly, how the fuck did he forget that this year’s exams were the hardest tests in years?), Yuuri's only hope is to do well enough on the TOEIC. 

He needs to pass this test to even be allowed to apply for an American university. There was no other option, it’s either he passed or he failed, and if he failed? There goes his dreams of reaching the top. 

The TOEIC wasn’t generally hard test, especially if you’re a fluent English speaker, but Yuuri had spent most of his time speaking a corrupted version of the language, influenced by Russian, Japanese and American dialects until his language was some kind of amalgamation of words being woven together into a patchwork cloth of idioms and lost-in-translation phrases. 

Yuuri knows that he is fluent in English, that he could study in English, but that didn’t stop him from being nervous. 

Tests were always his nemesis, they never boded well for people with anxiety. He sighs heavily, pushing his fogged classes further up the bridge of his nose. His phone pings with numerous texts of encouragement from his friends and family, but he’s quick to turn it off, worried that somehow it would erupt into sound in the middle of his test, making him forfeit before he even started. 

There are other students around him, clearly from all around neighbouring prefectures. There was no test centre in all of Saga, meaning that Yuuri had to travel to Fukuoka just to be able to take the exam. The train journey had left him already exhausted, and with the way that the morning rush of workers floods all around him, he curls into himself, walking briskly as to not inconvenience those around him. 

The test would be at nine, Yuuri had made the right choice to set off at half six this morning - he would have an hour of rest before he would have to arrive at the test centre. There should be a cafe nearby where he could have his breakfast, and try and focus his mind before his nerves got the better of him. 

He doesn’t realise how close he’s gotten until he passes by the entrance of an ice rink. Hakata-ki Ice Rink. Where had he heard that club before-

“Aaaaagh!” There’s a sudden shriek near him, and Yuuri yanks himself back, gripping his chest in shock. 

“Yo-you. Oh my god , askfhahgs-” Yuuri blinks rapidly at the sound of gibberish, eyes trailing down at the figure of a child. He’s staring up at Yuuri, eyes bugging out and his face turning pale. “You’re- Katsuki-senpai!”

Katsuki-senpai ! The sound of the child’s voice echoes in Yuuri’s mind, when suddenly, a more deeper voice melts into the sound.  

Yuuri freezes. His mouth drops open. 

M-Minami?! The child in front of him has to be Minami Kenjirou, blond hair and rabbit-teeth and all. He’s gaping up at Yuuri with fish-eyes, unfocused and hazy. He looks like he’s about to faint. 

“I- Yes. I’m Katsuki Yuuri-”

“I- oh my god!” He screeches, clasping his hands together and raising them up so that they rest under his chin. “I’m a huge fan! I love you, Katsuki-senpai!” 

He bows so low that his nose almost touches the concrete floor. They have attracted some attention, and Yuuri can feel the blood rush to his face. He grips Minami’s shoulder, which probably does more harm than good, dragging him away from the footpath so that they’re not hindering the other members of the public. 

As soon as Yuuri lets his arm go, Minami melts into a puddle, his arm falling on to the side of the building’s exterior wall in order to keep himself upright. Yuuri sighs heavily. God, what are the chances that he would meet Minami Kenjirou, of all people? Fukuoka is one of the biggest cities in the entirety of Japan, you could almost say it was fate. 

Minami’s as small as Yuuri remembers, even smaller considering he’s a child. He barely comes up to Yuuri’s chest, (and Yuuri himself is shorter than average), cheeks rounded in the obvious signs of childhood. 

It’s like a blast from the past, it takes Yuuri’s breath away, and suddenly, he’s hit by a burning sear of pain for his lost time.

( “The kid loves you,” Viktor laughs, curling an arm around Yuuri’s waist. “That being said, it wouldn’t kill you to be a little more nicer to him.”

“What am I meant to say?” Yuuri throws his head back so that it hits Viktor’s shoulder. His neck is exposed, and Viktor takes it as permission to nuzzle his face into the space, tightening his hold on Yuuri with every shiver that his husband lets out. 

“Just say hello, it’s not hard.”

“For you!” Yuuri spins to face him. “The last time someone had an unhealthy obsession with their idol, they ended up married together.” He pokes his husband’s chest, looking up underneath his lashes with a coy smile on his face. 

“Unless you want something like that to happ-”

Viktor growls, his fingers digging into the skin just above Yuuri’s hip. “Forget Minami. I love you the most.” ) 

“I- what are you doing here, Katsuki-senpai?”

Yuuri blinks, scratching the back of his head as he’s pulled away from his musings. “I’m here for an exam.”

Minami’s eyes widen. “In Fukuoka?”

Yuuri smiles ruefully. “Yep. The TOEIC.”

“TO- The English test?!” Minami screeches. “You- you mean, why would you need to take that? Wait!” His eyes widen astronomically. “Senpai, are- are you thinking of moving?!”

Yuuri grimaces at the thought of the news getting a hold of this. Lucky for him, he knows how to play Minami like a fiddle. “I’ve found a coach, but it all depends on my grades. You can’t tell anyone though, it’ll be our little secret.”  

Minami looks up at him, eyes alight with stars and hearts. “How- oh my god. Oh. My. God!” He cries loudly. “A secret with Katsuki-senpai?! I am honoured!” 

Yuuri only narrowly is able to stop him from bowing again, closing his eyes painfully. He almost feels bad about the whole thing, before realising that it’s eight in the morning on a Saturday. If Yuuri was a thirteen year old, he’d be dead to the world, burrowing away under his duvet with Vicchan by his side. He says the same to Minami, who looks down at his feet, biting his lip. 

“Well, I read that Katsuki-senpai always wakes up early to start your training. I- I wanted to be like you! I promise I’ll meet you at the international level! We can represent Japan together!”

Yuuri’s breath catches in his chest. That- Minami had said the exact same thing to him, when he was eighteen. Word for word, Yuuri could remember because it had left such an imprint on him to this day. 

Minami had said those words five years earlier than before. 

It’s like someone has poured a bucket of cold water over his head, this numbing feeling that floods his entire body like a deluge of rain. 

The whole time-travelling thing had been an undercurrent to his whole perception of being. If he thought too hard about it, then he would never be able to function, but being shown irrefutable evidence that he has changed the world, well, Yuuri’s pretty sure he’s about to have a meltdown. 

“-suki-senpai. Katsuki-senpai!” Minami screams. “Are you okay? Do you need some water?”

“I- I’m alright.” Yuuri’s voice sounds crackly, like thorns had been shoved down his throat, asphyxiating him. “I, I really should go, Minami-kun.” 

Minami’s eyes widened. “O-of course, senpai! I hope to see you at Nationals in the future.” He pouts suddenly. “I was too young to go to the junior nationals this year, I guess we’ll have to wait until I’m older before we can be on the same ice.” 

Yuuri takes a shuddering breath, remembering Viktor, and is quick to place a hand on Minami’s head, ruffling it half-heartedly. “I’m sure we’ll meet sooner.” He shoves his hand into his coat pocket, hefting his phone out to Minami. “Can I have your Line ID?”

***

February 15

Yu-Topia Katsuki Hot Springs, 

Hasetsu, Japan 

 

“It’s in.” Yuuri chokes on his egg roll as his sister comes barreling into the mess hall. She’s screaming at the top of her lungs, waving around a huge pile of letters wildly as his mother rushes in to grab them.  

“It’s in, it’s in, it’s in!” Mari grabs Yuuri by the shoulders, shaking him roughly. 

“What’s in? What the f..” Yuuri bites his  lip, eyes widen as he sees his parents sifting through the mail. He quickly catches himself, ignoring Mari’s snort of amusement, as he turns towards his parents. “What’s going on?”

“How could you forget?!” Mari gasps. “It’s results day!”

Yuuri pales. “Oh, oh god. I’m going to throw up.”

He dry-heaves, gripping Mari’s arm and forcing himself up. He’s about to run to the bathroom, before his father grabs him tightly in a hug. 

“Whatever grade you get, I’m proud of you for trying my son.”

Trying was hardly the issue, Yuuri was fucked . After having the horrible realisation that he had changed the past , Yuuri had wandered into his test whilst suffering from an existential crisis. He had the power to change the past (or future? It hurts Yuuri’s head to think about it). What else had he changed? Was he even guaranteed to pass the TOEIC like last time? Oh god, what if he had fucked it up so badly there’s no way Celestino could coach him anymore? 

His parents had recognised his demeanour as soon as he had returned home from Fukuoka. The past three weeks had been so quiet as none of his family had the nerves to ask Yuuri how he did - his face had said it all. It didn’t help that the national entrance exam was so hard, Yuuri was sure he flunked. 

“I can’t open it.” He whispers, eyes pricking with tears. His stomach twisted, churning around in a heat of fire. “I can’t. Oh god, I’m going to throw up.”

“Ugh.” Mari roars. “If he can’t, I can. Give it to me!” She grapples the letters out of her mother’s hands, throwing bills and other unwanted letters that were directed towards her parents on the floor. 

“Bill, bill - god, another bill. Fucking hell, where is it, where- GOT IT!” She cackles, holding the two letters high above her head. 

“Open the TOEIC first!” His mother cries. “Nothing can prepare us for the entrance exam, besides he just needs to pass the TOEIC to get into America, right?”

His father nods, “She’s right- Minako-sensei explained it to us earlier, remember? Yuuri’s grades for the application will be based off his overall grades at high school, not just the entrance exam. Open the TOEIC.”

“What?!” Mari screeches. “No way, did you see his face after? Why would we do that to him?”

“He can retake the TOEIC anytime, it’s not that big of a deal. If he opens the university admissions test first, I’m afraid I’ll faint.” 

Kaasan !” Yuuri cries. “Please can we not do this. Just open which ever.”

His mother wrangles the letters from Mari, ripping open the TOEIC test first. 

“Don’t they send these results text, anyway?” Mari pouts. 

“I turned it off.”

“You- you turned your phone off?” Mari blinks slowly, before erupting in rage. She grabs her brother’s shoulders, shaking him roughly. “Why for the everloving god did you do that?!”

“Because it stressed me the fuck out!” He screams. “Everyone in our school’s group chat kept posting about waiting for their results, and it made me want to throw myself out of a window. And then Chris kept texting me, asking if I’ve got the results yet, and then apparently, people on twitter are also talking about it - I can’t escape it!” 

“Mari!” Hiroko yells. “I can’t understand the letter.” She flings it towards her eldest child, who is quick to scan the contents of the letter. Her mouth drops open. 

“I- oh my god.” 

“I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!” Yuuri shrieks. “DON’T SHOW ME.”

“YUURI!” Mari screams. “What the fuck! Oh my god, you have to look.” 

“NO! DON’T- MY EYES- oh.” 

Yuuri’s eye twitches. “A- Is my eyesight weird? Like…” He pulls of his glasses, cleaning them with the hem of his sleepshirt. “Why is that number there?”

Mari chokes on air, gaping widely. “Yuuri, what the fuck.”

892/990. 

“Why is the number not disappearing?!” He cries, grabbing the letter and yanking it closer to his eyes, hopeful that it will change the number. 

“I’m- I can’t breathe.” Mari falls back on her seat, eyes open so wide, her eyeballs are almost gaping out. 

“What does it mean?” Toshiya comes to grab the letter out of her hands. “Is that a good score? How many does he need to pass-”

Tou-san .” Mari’s voice is full of reverence, like she had just witnessed a person rise from the dead. “ Tou-san, the average is 500.”

“T-the av-” Hiroko’s legs collapse around her, and she falls to the floor, mouth gaping wide. “He’s, he’s over the average?”

“He almost had full marks.” Mari screeches, jumping up from her stupor and grabbing Yuuri so tightly, bruises are already beginning to form. “You said you fucked it up! What the hell, Yuuri!” 

“Wait, so if he did that well on the TOEIC…” Toshiya’s eyes trail towards the other, unopened letter that lays resting on the table. 

***

 

From: waynestateadmissions@wayne.eu

Subject: Application No. 25413: YUURI KATSUKI 

To: y-katsuki2909@line.js  

 

Dear Mr. Yuuri Katsuki, 

Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that I inform you of your acceptance to the Physics program with a minor in Sports Administration and Management at Wayne State University. You have been given this opportunity in recognition of your personal and academic achievements. 

We have enclosed a starter package with this letter that will help you familiarise yourself with the campus and its faculties. Furthermore, you will receive a separate email enclosing the details of your academic scholarship, where your tuition will be paid in full by the university, as well as the requirements to keep said scholarship during your duration at the university. 

We look forward to having you at our university this upcoming academic year, 

 

Sincerely, 

Stephanie Adams, 

Head of Admissions