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One.

‘I won’t go easy on you,’ Viktor promises, and this time (unlike the sweetheart suggestion) Yuri takes his hand, smiling a warm, confident smile that makes Viktor’s insides flip over. Again. Because that’s what Viktor’s insides do around Yuri, and he should be used to that by now.

He adds, ‘that’s how I show my love,’ though, just in case Yuri might somehow not be getting the point. What exactly Yuri wants from Viktor is anyone’s guess, but that seems to do the trick. Yuri doesn’t panic, doesn’t run away; he just smiles and squeezes Viktor’s fingers like he understands.

‘Starting now,’ Viktor says, smirking a little at the surprise on Yuri’s face, and he snaps his fingers for Makkachin to heel. Running on sand is a tough workout. To be honest, Viktor hates it, but he keeps pace with Yuri, while Makkachin does his best to knock them both over.

They run up the length of the beach, and Viktor uses the time to try to figure out what just happened. On the one hand, Yuri had opened up to him. Voluntarily, too; Viktor hadn’t pushed him for information. He hadn’t got the information he most wanted, exactly, but the story about the girl in Detroit went some way to explaining things. Which is why the relationship question had been a terrible idea: as if Viktor couldn’t tell by now that every move forward he made would set Yuri running. Or maybe he sounded too much like he was joking. It’s entirely possible Yuri thinks Viktor is playing some elaborate game with Yuri’s career just for the sake of getting into his pants.

Whatever it was, it had been pushing too far. Viktor had been thinking in terms of what Yuri wanted from him, but if he’s learned one thing about Yuri in these past weeks, it was that Yuri is most afraid of what he himself could be. Viktor sees all the ways he could wrap himself around Yuri, fit perfectly into the spaces in his life, but Yuri is afraid he’ll have to live up to Viktor. He barely believes, yet, that all Viktor wants from him as a skater was everything he already was and could be.

‘Race you,’ Yuri cries, toward the end of the strip, and Viktor puts aside fretting to sprint after him. He catches Yuri just before they cross up onto the grass, grabbing him around the waist so they both go tumbling to the sand. A year ago, Viktor might have had the advantage: he’s still taller and broader, but now he’s not in competition form, and Yuri is. Yuri puts him flat on his back with hardly any trouble at all.

Also, Makkachin is totally on Yuri’s side. Viktor ends up flat on the sand, with a slobbery poodle in his face and Yuri sprawled half across him.

‘I win!’ Yuri crows, levering himself up to his knees, with his palms heavy on Viktor’s chest.

‘Oh, have you?’ Viktor ignores the urge to grab him and roll him back over, and glances behind them to the line where grass takes over from sand, a few feet away. ‘We haven’t crossed the finish line yet.’ He waggles his eyebrows, for good measure, mostly to see how much he can get away with. It doesn’t count as him moving too fast if Yuri’s the one holding him down, does it?

‘Oh dear,’ Yuri says, deadpan, and then lunges flat out for the grass. Viktor scrambles after him, but Yuri’s definitely there first. Also, Viktor ends up with his face smushed into the hollow of Yuri’s hip, after another pointless tussle.

‘I win,’ Yuri says, pulling back far enough that Viktor can see him pout. His eyes are dancing - not with the expression of baffled glee Viktor can still remember perfectly from last December, but with something entirely more purposeful and mischievous. Fuck. Whatever game it is he’s playing, Viktor lost it long ago.

Yuri clambers to his feet, and it hits Viktor. What Yuri said earlier today wasn’t a rejection, not really. A rebuff, possibly. The sweetheart thing was all wrong - badly timed, or not Viktor’s place to ask for, or… something. But Yuri’s response had begun with ‘just be you’. Whatever the hell he is to Yuri right now (aside from coach) that’s exactly how Yuri wants it to be. That’s… interesting. Viktor’s never had to try this hard to win someone over before, so he ought to be annoyed by that, that Yuri wants him confused and off-balance. But Viktor also feels like he’s never seen in himself the kind of man Yuri brings out in him: Viktor’s always been stubborn, but with Yuri he has to be patient; he’s always been open but with Yuri he has to make space; he’s always been confident but with Yuri he has to be careful; he’s always laughed but he’s never smiled at anyone like he’s smiling at Yuri right now.

Yuri puts out a hand and Viktor takes it, letting Yuri pull him up. They pause, Viktor half-kneeling and looking up at Yuri. Viktor wants, very much, for Yuri to reach out, touch his face, his hair. He wants something tangible, reassurance, something he can reciprocate, but that’s not how this is going to go.

‘Yeah, okay,’ he says. ‘You win.’

Yuri doesn’t say anything, but he squeezes Viktor’s hand again, and hauls him to his feet.

Two.

‘By the way,’ Viktor says, and Yuri spins around, caught in the middle of his warm-up. ‘We need to get you a new tie, the one you had for the presscom was terrible.’ And Viktor leans back against the rink wall, crossing one ankle over the other.

It’s not like this is a surprise topic, he thinks, as Yuri’s face flames red and he seems to consider for a second skating away. Yuri knows Viktor watched the press conference, and Minako translated for him. Complete with wolf-whistles in appropriate parts, because all the decorum Yuri’s family has is made up for by Minako’s total lack of same. She’s about as bad as the triplets, only the triplets haven’t got the filthy English vocabulary Minako does. At any rate, just last night, Viktor talked Yuri down from a grade-three crisis over the fact that Yuri had vowed in public to win gold, and obviously that meant he’d doomed imself to failure. (Viktor’s ranking Yuri’s crises now. So far they range from one, your average training meltdown, to five; and beyond that there’s cases he’s only heard about, like last year’s Nationals. Three has Yuri curled into a ball around his own knees, on the end of Viktor’s bed, ignoring even Makkachin. Which is really not the way Viktor had hoped to end up with Yuri in his bed, but it’s… kind of nice, all the same. He didn’t have to seek Yuri out, Yuri brought the grade-three crisis to him.)

What they haven’t talked about, though, is the part where, in addition to vowing to win gold, Yuri used his press conference to make some pretty dramatic statements about Viktor. Practically everyone else Viktor knows has tried to talk to Viktor about it (except Yurio, and right now Viktor’s really appreciating the kid’s sulky nature and the fact that, as a consequence, Yurio is not sending Viktor kissy-face emojis every hour), but not Yuri himself. There were some qualifications in there, some pretty significant ones: the bit about not-clear cut certainly sounded like an accurate definition of the situation to Viktor. Not only platonic or romantic, Minako had said. Viktor’s not quite sure when it became a problem having friendly feelings toward people you might want to romance. But then, Viktor’s sex and dating life has consisted almost exclusively of pretty much friendly arrangements with other athletes - and once, an opera singer. Goodness knows the weird hothouse of collegiality and hormones that is Yakov’s protegés and their circle is hardly what anyone would call a healthy match-making environment.

Whatever. The point is, he can’t sit Yuri down to demand to know why it is that Yuri can tell an entire press conference that he’s learned about love from (or for) Viktor, but they can’t have a straightforward conversation about what the hell they are to each other. If they were able to have the conversation about why they can’t have the conversation, then they would’ve just had the conversation by now.

Yuri is perfectly capable of coming to a graceful stop on ice, and has been since he was very small. Therefore, it must be entirely deliberate that he thumps into Viktor now, one foot on either side of Viktor’s crossed ankles. Viktor does not grab him around the waist.

‘We’re going shopping,’ Viktor says, and flicks Yuri under the chin. ‘You need at least twelve new ties.’

Yuri makes a face and grabs at the hand he’s being flicked with.

‘Also,’ Viktor says, looking pointedly at said hand, and then down the length of Yuri’s body, and back up again, ‘I hear you want to hold onto me.’

Yuri’s face flames, and he worries his lip with his teeth, but he doesn’t actually let go of Viktor’s hand. Or move away.

Score one to me, Viktor thinks. Before Yuri can think of a reason to scurry back into his shell, Viktor pushes off from the wall, taking Yuri with him.

‘Come on then,’ he says, grabbing Yuri’s other hand. ‘Hold tight now!’ He abruptly skates backward, pulling Yuri after him.

‘What-’ Yuri splutters, and then, ‘You’re ridiculous,’ as Viktor puts them into a supremely basic two-handed spin, the sort of thing any halfway coordinated pair of teenagers can do, showing off at the Friday night disco skate. Viktor does it a lot faster, of course.

‘You wanted to hold onto me,’ he shouts.

‘Not like that!’ Yuri fires back.

Viktor lets go of one hand and pivots on the alternate foot, wiggling his ass in Yuri’s direction and looking back at him over one shoulder.

‘Like this, you mean?’

The thing is, Yuri might not be ready to talk to him, or to make whatever decision it is he needs to make about their relationship, but he does let Viktor tease him. Most of the time, he gives back as good as he gets. His face is beet red the whole time (and Viktor hasn’t seen him drink more than half a glass of anything since he got here, so that option’s out), but there are things they can negotiate in hyperbole and innuendo that they can’t pin down in words. Nor by fucking it out of their systems like sensible men, apparently. It’s unfortunate, but Viktor’s pretty sure, by now, that fucking wouldn’t get Yuri out of his system anyway.

Viktor’s expecting that to be the end of it. If he’s lucky, Yuri will slap him on the ass, and that will be the end of that. Except it isn’t. Yuri uses the leverage of the hand he’s still holding, and pulls Viktor in close to him, steering him backwards into… oh, fuck, it’s a tango. Every time Viktor thinks they’ve reached an equilibrium, that this is where things are going to stay, with him flirting and Yuri hovering just out of reach, Yuri goes and does something like this to him.

He gets with the program pretty quickly, making his gestures and flourishes as outrageous as he can. Viktor’s not making this about precision, it’s… well, it’s fun, and Yuri goes along with him, laughing and exaggerating every move. Damn, though. Yuri’s leading, of course he is, and it’s nice. Yuri moves into him and Viktor reacts, reflects, magnifies, and just… wishes.

It’s probably the wishing part that has him dropping into a backward lunge, extending both hands toward Yuri in a melodramatic plea. And that’s the end of the dance, but not… not the end of the game, perhaps. Yuri skates right up into his space, and they drift to a stop: Viktor’s trailing knee hits the ice and his hands end up on Yuri’s hips. He has to tilt his head up to look into Yuri’s eyes.

This time Yuri reaches out to touch the side of Viktor’s face with one hand. Viktor leans into it for a second, and it would be so easy. So easy to slide up and press kisses to Yuri’s wrist, or his hipbones, or… well. Viktor doesn’t, and pulls the thought up short. He keeps his hands on Yuri’s hips, though.

‘I think that’s you holding onto me,’ Yuri says, smirking a little.

‘Can you blame me?’ Viktor grins right back up at him.

Three.

‘I think,’ Viktor says, ‘I might be drunk.’ He sways out of Yuri’s grip and bangs into the wall. ‘But why am I wearing so many clothes?’ He bats his eyelashes at Yuri, who does his best to ignore whatever Viktor’s saying and keep him on his feet.

Leo rolls his eyes, and helps Yuri steer Viktor into the elevator. ‘Guang Hong may never recover,’ he says. ‘The great Viktor Nikiforov naked is one thing, food of a thousand daydreams I’m sure, but I don’t think he ever wanted to be the one explaining to angry restaurant staff why exactly they have a naked Russian man in their establishment.’

Yuri wonders why Leo’s so sure Guang Hong daydreams about Viktor naked, but he puts that question aside as Viktor escapes his grip again to peer into his own face in the elevator’s mirror.

‘Was hot in there,’ Viktor says. He grins at Yuri’s reflection. ‘Hey, Yuri, wasn’t it hot in there?’ He leers suggestively and slings one arm around Yuri’s waist.

Yuri catches Leo’s eye in the mirror, and suspects Leo is storing up this story to tell someone - Yuri devoutly hopes not Phichit, or he’ll never hear the end of it.

‘Still hot,’ Viktor says, suddenly, and with surprising deftness, gets hold of Yuri’s cardigan collar and slips it off his shoulder. Yuri manages to get hold of both of Viktor’s hands before he can do any further damage, and holds them in front of him, clasped in his own.

‘No,’ Yuri says, as firmly as he can. ‘I’m keeping my clothes on, Viktor.’

‘That is not what I like to hear from you,’ Viktor says, mournfully, and Yuri feels his face heat up.

‘I’ll bet it’s not,’ Leo mutters. Yuri doesn’t look him in the eye.

‘It’s all you’re going to get if you keep acting like this,’ Yuri snaps, to Viktor, and then shuts his mouth abruptly, surprised at himself. Not so much for the implications of what Viktor might get if he weren’t acting like this, as because he realises he’s angry with Viktor. He’s angry with Viktor Nikiforov, his idol, his coach, his… whatever. Not his lover, although the possibility is starting to seem alarmingly, tantalisingly plausible.

Whatever. You’d think the fact that Yuri is not, by any normal standards, Viktor’s boyfriend would mean he wasn’t the one who had to haul Viktor’s drunk carcass home and try to keep both their dignities intact. Granted, Phichit is also hauling Celestino back to his hotel room on the other side of the building, but at least Celestino kept his clothes on all evening. For fuck’s sake, Yuri thinks, in the inner voice that sounds exactly like Minako’s multi-lingual swearing, you wouldn’t think ‘keeps his clothes on at dinner’ was something that needed to be marked out as exemplary conduct in a coach, but here we are!

‘Are you okay to… handle him?’ Leo asks, as the elevator door opens onto Yuri and Viktor’s floor. He’s definitely smirking.

‘We’re fine,’ Yuri says, hauling Viktor out of the elevator. He might be a bit angry, but Viktor’s his problem, not Leo’s.

He remembers to say thank you as the elevator doors close, though, and then devotes his attention to getting Viktor down the corridor and into his own room. Viktor waggles his eyebrows when Yuri sticks his hand in the pocket of Viktor’s jeans in search of the keycard. While Yuri gets the door open he leans down to breathe close and hot onto the skin behind Yuri’s ear.

Yuri more or less ignores how much of a turn-on that is, and shoves Viktor through the door. By the time he figures out the lights (operated by keycard, apparently), Viktor is sprawled half-on, half-off the bed, and is shirtless again.

‘Yuri,’ he says, and despite everything his smile draws Yuri in. ‘Yu-uri,’ drawing the vowel out to the point of ridiculousness, ‘You’re very beautiful, do you know that?’

‘And you’re very drunk,’ Yuri says. He flushes again, at the compliment, even though it’s misplaced. He’s starting to believe that sort of thing when Viktor says it to him on the ice, but here it seems ridiculous.

‘Stay there,’ he orders, and goes into the bathroom. Viktor makes a humming noise, and when Yuri returns with a glass of water, he’s still sitting exactly where he was before, with no fewer clothes on. Progress, Yuri thinks. ‘Drink this.’

Viktor drinks, and hands the glass back, looking up at Yuri with expectant eyes. Yuri fights the urge to answer that look with praise.

‘You’re actually angry with me,’ Viktor says, taken aback. ‘You, of all people...’ Surprise gives way to confusion, and Yuri lies before he can think.

‘No, of course not! Why would I…’

Viktor reaches out and takes one of Yuri’s hands. ‘No, I know,’ he says. ‘It’s before a competition, I shouldn’t…’

‘You’re not skating,’ Yuri says, shaking his head. He thinks that’s probably it: Viktor isn’t used to being a coach, not really. He doesn’t know what to do with himself, here, but not as a competitor. Part of Yuri wants to help, to offer some kind of comfort, but how can he, when he’s the reason Viktor’s not skating anymore.

‘It’s not fair to you,’ Viktor says. He’s still drunk, but his expression has settled from confusion into something like determination.

‘No,’ Yuri says, and sits down on the bed next to him. ‘It’s not. But,’ he admits, nudging Viktor with his shoulder, ‘it was pretty fun until we had to leave.’ True: Yuri’s not spending the night before the comp freaking out, for once. That’s a plus, even if Viktor embarrassing him in public is not.

‘That’s what they all say,’ Viktor says. ‘Every time.’

That’s a bit of a non-sequitur: Yuri doesn’t really want to know who else Viktor’s been drinking naked with, actually. Awkward silence prevails for a moment, then Viktor slithers off the bed with a thump. Yuri’s not really sure what to make of Viktor’s next move: some sort of terrible attempt at dogeza.

‘Forgive me, Yuri!’ Viktor cries, too loudly. ‘Forgive your terrible coach!’

Yuri has to laugh at him. ‘Get up, you fool, you’re not even doing it right.’ He’s also clearly taking this opportunity to exhibit his ass in the air, which would be more distracting to Yuri if Viktor hadn’t been exhibiting his stark-naked ass to an entire restaurant earlier that evening.

Viktor sort of gets up. He sits up, at least, and wriggles forward on his knees until he’s resting his chin on Yuri’s thigh. Yuri thinks, for about half a second, about standing up and leaving him there, but Viktor’s expression is too appealing. And, to be perfectly honest, Yuri wants to touch him too much. Despite the fact that the last thing he wants to be doing the night before a competition is consoling his own coach, he wants to touch and reassure Viktor.

A low hum of happiness is his reward for threading his fingers through Viktor’s hair. He lets the strands tangle and slip, and Viktor nuzzles his face into Yuri’s thigh.

It’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary, not for them. Yuri and Viktor are in each other’s space all the time, and very often wet and naked meanwhile. At least now, when Yuri scrapes his nails down the nape of Viktor’s neck and Viktor shudders and makes a noise that can only be classified as a moan, they’re dressed. Mostly. Viktor’s got no shirt on.

It’s just that it’s usually Viktor plastering himself up against Yuri. Viktor stretching out Yuri’s limbs, in the studio or the onsen. Viktor combing Yuri’s hair and tying it up into a ridiculous knot. Viktor wrapping his arm around Yuri when they’re facing down the cameras. Now, Yuri’s touching Viktor and Viktor’s all quiet and pliant under his hands. Yuri tugs gently on Viktor’s hair, and tips his face up so they’re looking at each other. Yur’s not so much of an innocent as not to recognise the expression he sees is one of unambiguous arousal.

Yuri likes it. In all the fantasies he’s had about Viktor Nikiforov - and he still doesn’t like to think about how many there’ve been, for how long - there’s never been one involving Viktor on his knees, head tipped back like that, utterly pliable and looking at him with unguarded want. But now he’s got it, he likes it. Viktor should never look at anyone else that way.

‘Yuri,’ Viktor says. He pauses, and starts again. ‘Yuri, I…’

Yuri’s fingers tighten in Viktor’s hair before he can think, and Viktor’s words cut off. There’s a moment’s silence, and when Viktor goes to speak again, Yuri touches one finger to his lips.

‘Viktor,’ he says. ‘Not now.’ He’s not actually certain what Viktor was going to say, but it was going to be something to do with the way he was looking at Yuri just now, and the way Yuri liked it, and the thousand other little things they’re not talking about. It’s either going to break Yuri’s heart or complicate everything beyond belief, and…

‘Not now,’ Viktor echoes. Not now, Yuri thinks. Not the night before a competition. Not when you’re drunk. Not when everyone already thinks we’re lovers, probably thinks you’re having your way with me this very moment. Just. Not now.

‘Not yet,’ he amends, and watches the difference register in Viktor’s eyes. Somewhere, Yuri thinks, a little hysterically, his lifetime’s worth of English teachers are rejoicing in his mastery of adverbs of time.

They stay like that for a second, before Viktor shifts to put his back against the foot of the bed, and Yuri lets him go.

‘Yakov,’ Viktor says, and somehow Yuri’s not surprised at this change of subject. ‘He won’t speak to me unless I’m asking him to take me back.’

Yuri closes his eyes and tries to fix this in his mind as what it is: a gesture of trust. Viktor sharing with him a hurt that’s still raw.

It’s hard to keep that in mind, in the face of the other not now. Not now. Not when you could walk away so easily, and even I wouldn’t blame you.

Four.

When they get back to the hotel after dinner with Phichit and his rowdy entourage, Yuri’s tired and quiet. He might be a bit tipsy, actually; there had been plenty of that around, and Viktor had ended up having to fend off people trying to ply Yuri with more drinks. By people, he means mostly Christophe.

Viktor thinks (hopes, perhaps) that Yuri’s been leaning into him more easily tonight; that the arm around his waist is possessive, as well as seeking warmth; that the way his eyes had wandered back to Viktor all night is an unspoken agreement between them. It’s hard to say, though, because none of this is markedly different from the way they usually are. No one else seems to have noticed anything. Christophe, between trying to get one or both of them to drink more, had made some impressively crude comments. Phichit was too high on his own success to care about much else; Leo was sarcastic; Guang Hong managed to get Viktor in relative privacy and say something fervent and too fast to really follow about admiring Viktor’s courage. Except for the last one, all of that might have been said two days ago.

They separate from Phichit and his hangers-on in the lobby, and ride the elevator in silence. On their floor, Yuri lets go of Viktor long enough to fish out his own room key, and Viktor has pretty much decided he’s going to leave things as they are. He’s going to hug Yuri, tell him how wonderful he is, and go to bed; but Yuri catches his wrist in one hand. They stand there for a second, right in the doorway, and then Yuri stretches up and kisses Viktor on the corner of the mouth.

They stand there some more, grinning at each other like goofs. Eventually, Viktor says, ‘Can I come in? Just to talk?’

He means, by that, to indicate that he’s not trying to put the moves on Yuri. Even if everyone thinks he’s already done so. Even if half of them think Yuri put the moves on him long ago. But Yuri’s sudden expression of alarm reminds him that it’s quite possible that, to Yuri, Talking might be even more of an intimidating prospect than sex.

Apparently Yuri does the math and concludes something similar, because no sooner has he let Viktor into his room than he backs Viktor into the door and kisses him again. Thoroughly. Which, wow. Viktor could get used to this. Without really thinking about it, he shifts his feet further apart, lowering his centre of gravity and ceding Yuri more leverage. This, he thinks, a little dazed, isn’t the innocent, alluring boy who skated Eros for him back in Hasetsu. It isn’t even the drunk and uninhibited Yuri who had instigated a dance-off in Sochi and captivated Viktor so thoroughly. This is today’s Yuri, and yesterday’s, the one who leans in close, brow-to-brow, and orders Viktor to keep his eyes on him and him alone.

Yuri’s glasses come askew, and they pull apart for a second to sort them out. Yuri lets Viktor draw them off his face and fold them up, then tucks them into his own pocket. Viktor doesn’t miss the significance in that sign of trust, although he wonders if Yuri is fully conscious of it himself.

Viktor doesn’t need to urge Yuri closer into the vee of his legs; Yuri takes the space, and the leverage advantage he can get by wrapping one hand around the back of Viktor’s neck. He’s not hesitant at all, which is both surprising and a major turn-on. He’s got one hand tight in the back of Viktor’s hair, and the other square on Viktor’s chest, pushing him back into the door. It’s as if Yuri’s holding Viktor still while he figures out how best to kiss him. This is an entirely new development in Viktor’s history of kissing people, and of course it would be Yuri to surprise him like that. Of course.

It is Yuri who pulls away, though, just as Viktor’s starting to wonder if canting his hips up against Yuri’s for friction would be a great idea, or too much too fast.

‘Okay,’ Viktor says, gathering his wits. ‘Okay, that was, um. Wow?’

Yuri smirks, evidently pleased with himself. ‘Yeah,’ he concedes, putting his glasses back on, ‘I guess we can do that again some time.’ And he walks away, crossing the room and draping himself in the room’s one armchair.

‘You… guess,’ Viktor says, not moving. Had he really expected he could kiss Yuri and have everything resolve? After the past year, he ought to know better.

‘If you want to, of course,’ Yuri says, not moving, not looking at Viktor. And that’s why he ought to know better: because, with Yuri, the thrill of holding out on Viktor gives way so quickly to self-doubt. Which is both infuriating and incredibly adorable, and for fuck’s sake, Viktor is totally lost.

There’s a very fine line, Viktor thinks as he crosses the room, between saying too little and saying too much. Yuri looks up at him with an expression somewhere between anticipation and trepidation. It would be a matter of moments to straddle him, push him back into the chair and kiss him until he saw sense, or until all sense left both of their heads. Viktor doesn’t do that. Not now, not yet.

Viktor kneels down by Yuri’s feet, registering, as he does, that this is the second time in three days they’ve ended up in this position. This time at least he’s got his hand on Yuri’s knee, instead of his face smashed into Yuri’s thigh. Although that had its own advantages.

‘Yuri Katsuki,’ he says, trying to stay just on this side of hyperbole, ‘please believe me: I would very much like to kiss you again. On a recurring basis, preferably.’ Viktor would like a lot more than that, actually, and contrary to Chris’ regular insinuations, the possibility of sex is only a relatively small proportion of those things.

Yuri pulls himself out of his attractive slouch, and laces his fingers with Viktor’s again.

‘Everyone thinks we’re lovers already,’ he says, looking down at their hands and not at Viktor.

Viktor does not say well that’s hardly my fault, because some of it is his fault, he has to admit.

‘Is that a problem?’ he asks.

‘No,’ Yuri says, after a moment. ‘No, I think I like it.’

Five.

Viktor lets himself into his own room in the hotel in Moscow, and has to stop in by the door for a moment to gaze like a fool at the sight of Yuri in his bed. On his bed, really, sitting with his knees drawn up under his chin on the side of the mattress closer to the window. They’re still keeping separate rooms, but there’s a connecting door, and Viktor hadn’t really let himself think about it too much but he’d hoped…

Yuri looks up at him and smiles, a soft echo of the ridiculous expression Viktor knows is on his own face right now. Yuri’s quiet, still and peaceful, and it’s nothing like any of the times Viktor’s pictured finding Yuri Katsuki waiting in his bed, and yet it’s somehow perfect.

‘Nervous already?,’ he asks, closing the door and circling around to Yuri’s side of the bed.

‘About tomorrow?’ Yuri asks, shrugging. ‘Not really. I was just thinking…’ he bites his lip for a second. ‘I’m really lucky to have you.’

They’ve covered so much ground since Viktor arrived in Hasetsu, and yet, here’s Yuri, blushing and hesitant to tell Viktor something that simple and that vulnerable.

‘Not nearly as lucky as I am,’ Viktor says, kneeling down by the bed. Both of them reach out at the same time: Viktor rests his hand on Yuri’s ankles, and Yuri leans forward a little to touch Viktor’s hair. ‘I’m really quite in love with you, did you know that?’

He expects Yuri to laugh, because although he’s never put it like that, it’s screamingly obvious. Instead, Yuri flushes bright red and his breath catches for a moment.

Viktor lets his hand slip over Yuri’s ankle and across the arch of his foot. Yuri shifts a little on the bed so Viktor can fit his palms around both feet at once. His unquestioning indulgence of Viktor’s fascination speaks volumes.

‘I do, though,’ Viktor says, tracing the knob of Yuri’s left ankle-bone. ‘Don’t tell me that’s a surprise, surely not.’

Yuri breathes in slowly for a moment, and then concedes, ‘Noooo, it’s not. It’s just that you say it so easily.’

‘It is easy.’ This is both incredibly true (Yuri is the easiest person he’s ever met to feel love for, which is how he got himself into this situation in the first place) and an absolute lie, because loving Yuri, actually loving him and showing him that in ways he can understand, is the hardest thing Viktor’s ever tried to do.

‘It’s not easy for me,’ Yuri says, and he’s not meeting Viktor’s eyes anymore. Viktor would kiss him, but there’s a bit too much of a height difference, and Yuri’s knees, between them like this.

‘I know,’ Viktor says. ‘I know.’ He gives in to temptation and picks up Yuri’s foot, pressing a kiss to the inside of the arch. Yuri’s breath draws in quick, surprised, and Viktor’s flushing when he puts the foot down. He’s not sure what he’s started, if this is one of the times when Viktor steps forward too far and Yuri can’t meet him.

Yuri touches the top of Viktor’s head, right on the thinning spot, and Viktor leans into the touch. Then Yuri lifts up his other foot, turning the ankle out a little, presenting it to Viktor to be kissed in turn.

‘Yeah,’ Viktor says, heart suddenly in his throat, ‘I love that one, too.’