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Yuuri is terrified.

It's a sensation that he's terribly familiar with, if he's being honest. He's spent most of his life being terrified of something. Normally more than one thing, really. But he's never been scared like this.

He knows what he did. He more or less dumped his heart out in front of the world. And now he needs to go and tell Viktor, to his face, because unless someone's explained things to him, unless someone's taken the time to translate, Viktor's not even going to understand what Yuuri was saying – and Yuuri won't let the newspapers be what tell him. Viktor's not going to learn that Yuuri's in love with him through some gaudy, “Japanese skater comes out on live television!” internet headline.

So, no, Yuuri needs to just find his courage and sit Viktor down and talk to him, before the rest of the shitstorm hits.

Because there is going to be one. After what he just did, he'll be lucky if he has a career left. He still can't quite believe that he did it. It's not like he'd planned that news conference. He'd planned to talk about love being the theme, sure, but he hadn't meant to even mention Viktor's name.

But he had. And now he has nowhere to hide. If Viktor doesn't want him back, then Yuuri has damned their relationship, let alone what this might do to his career. If Viktor doesn't want him... after all the flirting, and all the sweet-talking... well. If Viktor was just having fun, all this time, and there was nothing concrete to all his teasing and come-ons, then Yuuri's not sure how he'll cope.

I used to dream about you. There were days when you got me out of bed before I even knew you.

Things that he'll never say. But how can a lifetime of idolization compare to the few months that Viktor's known him? Yuuri's had years to fall for him. Viktor still hardly knows him. And why would he want Yuuri, anyway? Because, sure, Viktor's not perfect – Yuuri knows that, now; knows that he's not the flawless idol that Yuuri had once looked up to – but that just makes him more attractive. And even with those human cracks in his godlike armour – even with the way Viktor isn't perfect, once you actually get to know him – he could still have anyone. Viktor could snap his fingers and have people falling all over him. Yuuri still barely manages to look at himself in the mirror most days.

Why would Viktor want him?

It's a nauseating thought, and an even worse one follows on his heels.

Maybe Viktor has just been having fun, all this time? Or maybe he does want Yuuri, but just until the Grand Prix, maybe? Because Viktor's going to leave after that, right? What reason would he have to stay, after all?

The thought hits like a blow, like missing a step on the ice and going down hard, and Yuuri stops and leans against the wall. He's made it as far as their shared hallway – the rest of the onsen seems to be asleep – and it's not that much further to Viktor's room, but Yuuri suddenly can't seem to move.

What if Viktor wants him, but not the way Yuuri wants him? What if Viktor's only looking for something temporary, and Yuuri's gone and carved his heart out and put it right into Victor's hands?

The tightness in his stomach clenches tighter, and he squeezes his eyes shut.

Oh, god. He's fucked this up. He's fucked this up so badly.

How could he have ever thought that Viktor would want to hear the word love from him?

The realization reaches into his chest and twists, and it takes him a second to register the sound of a door opening. When he looks up, Viktor's standing in his bedroom doorway, staring at him. He's not smiling, and Yuuri swallows and pushes himself away from the wall, though all he wants is to hide.

He's about to ruin things with the only person he's ever wanted to hold on to, and he'd like to go back in time. He'd like to get a redo, and stop Viktor from ever coming here at all. Better for Yuuri to have never met him, than for Viktor to stand there in front of him and break his heart.

Viktor doesn't say anything, though. He just stares for a moment longer, and then steps aside. It's an obvious invitation, and Yuuri's heart is hammering as he sucks in a breath and moves past Viktor.

He feels like he's either going to cry, or pass out, or both.

The click of the door closing is enough to make him jump, and he shoves his hands into his pockets, acutely aware of Viktor standing just behind him. The room isn't that bright – Viktor just has the bedside lamp on – but it's still light enough, and Yuuri desperately wishes that the room was darker.

He doesn't want to see Viktor's face as he tries to let Yuuri down easy.

Viktor still doesn't say anything, though. He just stands there, motionless, behind him, still and quiet in a way that Yuuri's not used to from him, and Yuuri squeezes his eyes shut, feeling the tears well up.

Someone must have already told him. That's the only explanation.

Yuuri's breaths are coming ragged, suddenly, and he feels like he's been gutted right through.

Better to have never known Viktor, than to have it end like this. How could he be so stupid?

“I... I'm so sorry, I didn't mean...”

He's not expecting Viktor to touch him.

Not expecting gentle hands on his hips before Viktor presses up against him, wrapping his arms around him from behind and pressing his chest against his back, burying his face into Yuuri's neck.

Yuuri's heart stops beating. It's like the entire world comes to a crashing halt.

And Viktor still doesn't say anything.

Just stands there, holding on to him, his heart hammering against Yuuri's back and his breath soft against Yuuri's neck, and Yuuri has to blink away new tears, sudden hope flaring desperate in his chest.

Maybe he hasn't wrecked this?

And then Viktor's turning him, carefully nudging him around, not saying a word as he keeps his hands gentle, and Yuuri closes his eyes and lets Viktor lead, lets him twist Yuuri until Yuuri's leaning up against the bedroom wall, his knees shaking as he opens his eyes and finds Viktor staring down at him. There's no hint of a smile on his face – no hint of the casual cheerfulness that he normally puts on so perfectly – and Yuuri swallows a whimper, because he's not sure he can handle being looked at like this.

He's never seen Viktor look so serious. It's enough to make his heart slam even worse.

“You told me, that day, that you didn't want me to be your boyfriend.”

His voice is hoarse, and he's still looking right at him. Yuuri can't seem to find his voice. Can't seem to do anything as one of Viktor's hands slides up to rest across his chest, where his heart is rabbiting against his ribcage. It's a damning indicator of just how terrified he is, but he can't feel bad about it. Not with Viktor looking at him like that, like he's the only thing in the universe that matters.

There are new tears in Yuuri's eyes, but this time it's not because he feels like running.

“Viktor...”

“They told me. What you said, tonight, at the conference. What you –”

“I shouldn't have –”

Viktor shakes his head, sharp and quick, and leans in closer. Yuuri is going to melt into the floor.

“You were very brave, Yuuri. Not many people would have the courage to do what you just did.”

His voice still has that hoarse rasp to it, and Yuuri opens his mouth, and then closes it again. Viktor's palm is still pressed right over his heart, his eyes still fixed on him, and Yuuri feels like he's going to burst into flames – and then Viktor leans in a bit closer, and Yuuri can see the flush on his cheeks.

“If you still don't want me... you said that you wanted us to stay the way we are, that you didn't want me to change, and if that's what you still want, I will respect that, of course I will, if that's –”

“It's not.” He's not sure how he actually manages to say it, but he knows it feels like someone's reached into his stomach and twisted. “That's not what I want, any more.”

Because it's not. He knows that, now. He'd needed some time, but he finally understands.

Viktor's gone back to just staring at him, though. He's still looking more serious than Yuuri's ever seen him, but there's something else there, too. Something in his eyes that looks... vulnerable?

Whatever it is, it makes Yuuri feel dizzy. It makes him feel like he's been lit up from the inside out.

Then, Viktor swallows and looks down, and the uncharacteristically hesitant expression on his face has Yuuri's heart hammering, something that feels almost protective surging through him.

“And... what if I told you that... that what you said tonight...”

He stops, leaving the room in a tense, crushing silence, and Yuuri's pulse is going wild. Viktor looks like nothing like his normal self. He looks... uncertain. Nothing like the confidence and charm that he normally exudes, and it takes Yuuri's breath away. Has anyone else ever seen Viktor like this?

“What you said. You... meant it, right?”

It should be a cruel question, maybe, getting him to repeat himself. Hadn't Yuuri made himself perfectly clear? But Viktor looks like maybe he desperately needs the answer, and there's no sting to the question. Yuuri can feel his heart beating faster, a hesitant wave of hope sweeping through him.

Is this actually happening?

Viktor must read his silence wrong, though, because he bites his lip, his expression shifting into something that looks almost like self-deprecation.

“Sorry, sorry, I'm making such a mess of –”

“You're not –”

“I... I'm not good at this, Yuuri.” Viktor's staring at Yuuri's chest, now, his mouth pressed into a tight line, and his eyes anywhere but on Yuuri's face. Yuuri's never seen him look so uncomfortable. “I... I'm really not, alright? I can flirt, and I can charm, of course I can, and I know how to have fun, and how to show someone a good time, but... when it comes to anything more than that, well...”

He stops, swallowing hard, and then his hand balls into a fist against Yuuri's chest and his lips press harder together, and Yuuri's heart is going to beat out of his chest. There are new tears in his eyes.

This is happening. This is actually happening, right? He's not reading Viktor wrong, is he?

Viktor seems to have run out of steam, though. He's just staring down between them, like he doesn't know what to do, and Yuuri swallows through the fear, and lifts his hands to Viktor's chest, pressing them against the gentle material of his sweater. He can feel how hard Viktor's heart is beating.

“I meant every word.”

It's like confessing all over again, and it's even more terrifying now, because Viktor is right in front of him. What if Yuuri is reading this all wrong? What if the bubble of hope in his chest is woefully misguided, and everything's about to come crashing down, and leave his heart and life in shambles?

Viktor's not stepping away, though. There's faint colour rising up his cheeks, and Yuuri watches as he swallows again, licking his lips and sucking in a breath that looks like it rattles right through him. His chest is shaking under the gentle press of Yuuri's hands, and that protective pang rocks through him again.

“Viktor –”

“And what if I told you that... that I've dreamed about hearing that from you for months?”

For a long moment, the words don't really register. Yuuri can hear them, but the buzzing in his head is too loud, drowning out his ability to understand.

Then, the words actually make sense, and Yuuri's entire world goes crashing off its axis.

Viktor's still not looking at him, though. He looks like every muscle has pulled tight, like he's expecting the words to be tossed back in his face. Like he's expecting the worst, actually, now that he's admitted that. As though Yuuri hadn't stood in front of the entire world and dumped his heart out.

And Yuuri absolutely and categorically cannot move. He needs to – he needs to say something, he needs to tell Viktor that's it's alright, that it's more than alright – but he can't.

“And I think that... well. You are certainly much braver than me, my little katsudon. I doubt I'd have ever found the courage to say it first. And then you went and said it in front of the whole world.”

There's a tiny smile on his face, in a way that looks fond, like just thinking about Yuuri is enough to bring that smile to his face, and Yuuri feels his lips shake, tears brimming hot behind his eyes.

Too much. This is way too much.

The courage to say it first.

Oh, god. Oh, god, does that mean...?

He only realizes he's squeezed his eyes shut when Viktor's thumb slides along his flushed cheek, brushing through the dampness there. Yuuri doesn't even have it him to feel embarrassed.

Does Viktor love him, too?

“Yuuri...”

“You mean it?”

He's not sure how he chokes it out, the word cloying and tight in his throat. He's on the verge of losing it, he knows he is, he knows how he feels when he's about to start crying, but he can't stop.

And Viktor just kind of... stands there, for a moment, before he wraps his arms around him. Tugs him away from the wall and against his chest. Yuuri goes like he's made of putty, letting Viktor tuck him in against him, his mouth and nose pressing into Yuuri's hair and his heart absolutely slamming against Yuuri's cheek. And the fact that Viktor is shaking, too, does absolutely nothing to calm him down.

“Oh, Yuuri. Of course I do. How could I not? To be honest, I think some part of me loved you from the moment I saw you skating my routine. You were so beautiful. So talented, so determined, so... ”

He trails off, and, yeah, there are the tears, falling hot and fast down his face. Yuuri squeezes his eyes shut buries closer, because this is everything he's ever wanted, and he can't cope with it.

“And then I actually met you, and – you have no idea, do you? You're so kind, in a way that most people eventually lose. And you're funny, and the passion that buzzes through you is mesmerizing –”

“Viktor...”

“And you – you learned my flaws, but... you wanted me to stay, anyway, and... and... no one's really done that, before. Most people just want the playboy, but you wanted me to just be... well. Me.”

For a few seconds, the words don't really make sense. Yuuri can hear them, but he can't seem to register them, with how frantically Viktor's heart is slamming between them.

Then, the words actually settle, and Yuuri buries himself closer, tightening his arms around Viktor.

To hell with anyone who's ever hurt this man. Yuuri's not going to let that happen anymore.

Before he can say as much, though, Viktor sighs and tips his head to press a kiss in Yuuri's hair, and it's so fucking gentle that the damn tears start all over again, his chest pulling tight into a sharp little ache. Viktor, miraculously, lets him just hide there for a while until he eventually pulls back, but he doesn't go far. Just far enough to look at him, one of his hands coming up to rest on Yuuri's cheek, and then Viktor leans down to kiss his forehead, and Yuuri has to close his eyes all over again.

“Come on, my sweet little katsudon. You must be exhausted. Why don't we –”

“I do want you. Just the way you are.”

He surprises himself, with the words. With how tight his throat is, it's a miracle he manages to speak at all.

And Victor just stares at him, barely blinking, his expression going blank in a way that Yuuri doesn't know how to read, until he visibly swallows, something like vulnerability flashing across his face as his eyes drop away, and Yuuri moves without thinking. He cranes up on his toes and just barely brushes his lips against Viktor's cheek, his heart jumping when Viktor blinks down at the floor, and then looks up at him. His eyes are wide, and he looks speechless in a way that Yuuri's not used to from him, and Yuuri swallows hard, sudden nerves sweeping through him.

Had that been the right thing to do?

“You... you never cease to amaze me, Yuuri.”

Viktor's voice isn't quite steady, but he says it like it's a good thing, something like awe in his voice, and his fingers are pressed against his own cheek, now, and that vulnerable expression is back in his eyes. Barely there, but obvious now that Yuuri knows what to look for, and Yuuri takes a breath.

Alright. Maybe they've both had enough of this tonight. Yuuri can't be the only who's exhausted.

“So... so... bed, then? It's what you've, um. Wanted since you got here, after all.”

It's not the most graceful diversion, maybe. Given everything, Yuuri thinks he can be forgiven. And if he's thrown Viktor for a loop, then the least he can do is try to help him back to even ground.

For a second, though, he thinks it was the wrong thing to say, and then Viktor's lips stretch into one of the sweetest little smiles Yuuri's ever seen, and Yuuri feels his stupid heart turn over in his chest.

God. He's so in love with this man. He is so helplessly, utterly in love with him.

“And there's that kindness of yours again, Yuuri.” The fondness there is a bit too much for Yuuri to deal with, but he's barely started to squirm before Viktor's hand settles on his arm. “Why don't you go get your night clothes? I'll make sure we have enough pillows. If I'm finally getting you to sleep in my bed, I'd better make sure it lives up to expectations.”

The cheeky grin is a little bit more like what Yuuri's used to, but it looks genuine. It doesn't look like Viktor's putting on any kind of mask. It just looks like he's... happy. And it makes Yuuri flush, just like it always does, which just makes Viktor grin harder, before he raises a hand to brush Yuuri's hair out of his face, taking his breath away all over again.

“Don't be gone too long, alright? I'll be lonely without you.”

It's ridiculous. Viktor is ridiculous. Yuuri would tell him so, but from the stupid grin on his face, Viktor's already well aware of the fact.

So, instead, Yuuri just folds in close against him again, burying his face in his chest. He feels Viktor still, before his hands come up to rest on Yuuri's back, and Yuuri lets his eyes fall shut.

“I'll go in a minute. Just a minute longer.”

It's silly, maybe. The sooner he gets his night clothes, the sooner they can be in bed.

He just... doesn't want to move yet. And that desire only doubles when Viktor presses his face into Yuuri's hair, his arms tightening and his breath brushing soft against the top of his head.

“Please stay as long as you would like, Yuuri.”

His voice has softened again, and, somehow, Yuuri's pretty sure that he's not just talking about right now.

Closing his eyes, with that thought settling soft and happy in his stomach, Yuuri rests his cheek against Viktor's heartbeat and just holds on tight.