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From Almaty, With Love

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“They’re so fucking disgusting,” Yuri punctuates the text with a selfie. He’s making a sour expression in the foreground. Just behind him, Viktor and Yuuri are attempting to feed each other wedding cake.

Beach weddings weren’t a “thing” in Russia, but he’d had a lifetime of exposure to western television and film, seen enough female skaters and ice dancers post pictures of theirs on social media. He’s had enough time to decide that they’re super tacky, so of course it’s what they chose.

Sand and seagulls do not mix well with formal attire.

At least Viktor had the sense to give his Pork Cutlet Bowl the long engagement he’d wanted. He’d half expected them to tie the knot in Helsinki right after worlds last year. There’d been enough booze and shameless couple-y PDA, and then Viktor had begged him to go down to the courthouse with them as a witness.

Luckily, Cutlet remembered at the last minute that his parents would be pissed if they did it without them knowing, even if it was just the “piece of paper part” and not the more important “ceremony part”.

So, they waited. Waited a whole year until they could drag Yuuri’s parents to World’s this year, and dragged him out of his room the morning after the medal ceremony to be their “witness”. Bullshit. They had Yuuri’s parents, Yakov, and most of the men’s finalists in tow.

He went along, but spat and kicked and cursed their names to filth because like usual.  They didn’t give him any time to heal. It was less than 24 hours after Otabek cinched the gold and he was left with silver.  Losing to Otabek was difficult. Harder than losing to Yuuri and Otabek. Otabek’s program was immaculate, and he’d won because he was deserving. It was hard because with every fiber of his being, as he watched Otabek with a slack jaw and a racing heart, he knew he deserved the win. The only consolation was that he’d edged Yuuri out so that he got bronze.

He went with them anyway. The reason, he couldn’t identify. It had nothing to do with the fact that Yuuri was sincere about retiring this year...Had already started looking at master’s degree programs and was entertaining the idea of doing commentary for TV Tokyo next season, that kind of sincere.  Viktor already had a list of skaters from all over the world begging to come to Hatseu so he’ll choreograph their programs, kind of sincere. It doesn’t bother him really. He beat Pork Cutlet Bowl finally, and even though it wasn’t with a gold, it was enough. It definitely didn’t bother him.

In the present, he taps against his phone’s screen with a disinterested expression “You should’ve agreed to be my date. We could’ve rented a motorcycle and torn out of here when things got too cheesy.” He usually hates double texting, but it’s urgent.

Viktor’s pulling at his sleeve slightly drunk off of sake “Yuri, dance with me.”

His phone buzzes in his hand, it’s Otabek, finally. “You didn’t invite me.”

“Yuuri’s got Phichit. We’re doing a Groomsman’s dance!”

“Of course I did you idiot!”  He types a response as he all but kicks Viktor away in an attempt to finish the text. “I DM’d you on Instagram.”

“Go get Chris then! He’s into that kind of queer shit.” It’s a matter of seconds between when he thrusts his phone back into his pocket, and Viktor recovers, sliding up next to him and grabbing his arm and pulling him towards the dancefloor. “I’ll forgive that outlandish comment if my other Yuri dances with me.”

Viktor’s hands are around his waist and Yuuri is smiling at him over Phichit’s shoulder when he realizes his mistake.

Otabek never updates his Instagram. He probably hasn’t even seen the message.

It doesn’t just end with dancing with Viktor while Yuuri dances with Phichit. Then they have to trade partners, so he’s dancing with Pork Cutlet bowl. He turns down Phichit’s offer to dance because despite the fact that they’ve ended up on the podium a few times together, they don’t know each other that well. He’s not sure if this guy is worthy of appearing in a selfie with yet.

After the dance, he distances himself from the party. There’s a quiet stretch where the beach meets hiking trails which meander through a wooded area and end just behind Hasetsu’s post office. He knows because he and Yuuri have spent countless mornings running on the trails together. How many mornings did he begin the run in the lead? Look over his shoulder and say, you’re lagging behind old man? How many mornings did Yuuri, after several kilometers, silently over take him as he grew increasingly tired?

Yuri plops down on a piece of driftwood. In the back of his mind he can hear Viktor scold him, “Yuri, that suit is Armani.” Whatever. Don’t have your shitty wedding outside then.

Yuri snaps a few selfies. Kyushu is famous for its wisteria blossoms this time of year. He makes sure the vines are plenty visible in the background.

“Yuri,” a voice calls.

“What are you doing?” another almost identical female voice

“We wanted to make flower crowns. Wanna join?”

Shit. It’s Yuuko’s brats. He looks side to side for an escape route. There’s nothing, so he lets the brats braid wisteria into his hair until they demand he do the same for them.

He snaps a final selfie. The brats ruin it by crowding all around him, but flower crown still looks good.  He sends it directly to Otabek, so that he’ll actually see it.

“Nice.”

“Sorry I got your invitation late. Come to Almaty instead.”

His phone buzzes again before he can tap out a reply. Otabek never texts three times without a response. “It’s quiet here...”  

Before he can reply. Axel (or Luntz or Loop, he still can’t tell the difference) tackles him to the ground. Not that it matters, because the other two join immediately. It’s like he knows what he needs without even being here.


It takes him nine days after the wedding to get to Almaty. Viktor and Yuuri didn’t leave for their honeymoon until the June first, and Viktor was bound and determined to make sure that he had the choreography for the short program down before they left.

Not to mention, he has to take a few days to get things in order so that Yakov doesn’t murder him.

But really, this is nothing in comparison to taking off to Japan without notice. He’s got the choreography for the short program down, he and Lila had already started talking about the free skate. Plus, it’s no fucking secret that she has a mountainside cabin that she holes up in every summer because the mountain air, “keeps her looking fresh.”

Yeah fucking right.

Anyway, as long as he gets a tutor first thing in Almaty, it should be fine right?

During the summer, Yakov all but insists on a lighter training schedule for him. It’s inevitable that somewhere between the Grand Prix and Worlds, he falls behind on his studies. It takes him all summer to catch up.

“A tutor…And Lila’s okay with this?” Yuri can feel Yakov shaking his head over the phone, even if they can’t see each other. “You’ve put thought into this.”

Yuri nods, but then he remembers that maybe Yakov can’t feel him shaking his head over the phone. “Ah, yeah. I guess I have,” he twirls a stray lock of hair around his finger in nervousness. From the corner of his eye, he catches a familiar looking bag on the carousel. Leopard print with a pink luggage tag. He runs after it.

“That’s terrifying Yurachaka.”

Yuri tugs the bag off of the carousel while trying to keep his phone balanced between his ear and his shoulder. He almost falls into the carousel in the process when he hears Yakov’s response. Not the answer he was expecting.

He lets out a string of curses in response.

“If Lila deems your progress sufficient, you don’t have to return to St. Petersburg until the start of August.”


Otabek greets him on the other side of baggage claim. It’s like any of the handful of other times he’s met the man in person. He’s wearing a leather jacket despite the warm early summer air, his sunglasses too.

But it’s different too. There’s a small tug of a smile at the corner of Otabek’s mouth. He extends his arm to Yuri.

Yuri takes it, and almost pulls him in for a hug until he remembers he’s just spent three and a half weeks with the gross couple. He’s back in the real world now, where not every occasion is met with a nauseating embrace.

He remembers this a bit too late though, so instead of grabbing Otabek’s hand in his own, he ends up grabbing his forearm, and Otabek grabbing his.

It’s awkward.

But not as awkward as Otabek pulling him forward and into a too close, too hot hug. He smells like leather, and the cheap shitty off brand aftershave that Pork Cutlet used to wear until Viktor “accidentally” dropped the bottle and “kindly” replaced it with something that didn’t smell medicinal.

“All of these are yours?” Otabek gestures to the numerous bags he’s brought with him.

“Who else’s would they be?”

“We’ll have to have a carrier send them to my place.”

“Bike?”

“Hm.” Otabek replies.  “When did this happen?” He turns on his heel so that he’s back to back with Yuri. His hand is knocking against the back of his head. “You’re taller now.” His hand hits a high point on the crown of his skull. If he is, it’s not by much.

“You’re surpassing me.” His tone is dead serious, but again there’s something like a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

It’s strange.


It takes just under an hour to get from the airport to Otabek’s apartment. At some point, between the warm breeze and steady hum of the bike’s engine, he begins to feel extremely drowsy. It can’t be jetlag. There’s only a three hour difference from here to Japan. In the near twilight of the late afternoon, everything looks golden…surreal like he’s watching a dream.

He really shouldn’t. He’s not with them anymore. Otabek’s not like that, and neither is he. Nevertheless, somewhere, between the airport and the city, he rests his cheek against Otabek’s back and stares at the endless wall of mountains on the horizon. 


“You should’ve tied your hair back before…” Otabek says blandly as he offers him a hairbrush.

That’s right. He has nothing except for his laptop and whatever else was stuffed in his backpack until the carrier gets here with his luggage. “No shit,” he replies as he takes the brush. Now his hair is long enough he doesn’t have to just worry about helmet hair. The ends fly free in the wind and get tangled now too, which is so un-fucking-fair.

Otabek’s hair always looks perfect after he takes off the helmet. He might have to push a strand or two back on top of his coif, but it’s nothing like the nest his own hair becomes.

Yuri tugs at the strands in frustration.

“Stop. You’re just going to give yourself split ends.” Otabek holds out his hand again, like he expects Yuri to return the brush.

So he does.

Otabek sits on the brown leather sofa which occupies most of his living room with his legs spread apart, as if he means for Yuri to sit between them.

Regardless of what he actually means, Yuri interprets it that way, so he sinks down against the sofa and onto the floor. He buries his toes into the tan shag rug, and rests his palms against the glass of the coffee table not worrying about whether or not he’s leaving smudges.

Otabek wordlessly begins working on his hair, combing from the bottom up. He takes the time to work out each knot without tugging at his scalp.

Yuri takes a moment to take in his surroundings. Otabek doesn’t seem to own a television. There’s a huge mahogany bookshelf filled with all the kind of classical literature crap that his tutors always want him to read, and always bore him immediately. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Brahm Stoker, Jane Austen!? Those are girly books. He was going to have to make fun of him for that. Later, when he wasn’t at the other man’s mercy.

Potted plants, the dark leafy kind that didn’t require a lot of care dotted the end tables, and the empty spaces on the bookshelf.

From his spot on the floor, he can’t see far into the kitchen. Just a sink with a window above, and more plants in the window. It seems as if every wall in the apartment is painted in the same, off white eggshell kind of color. It blends in amongst the tan of the carpet, the brown of the furniture, and the khaki of the curtains, all offset in different colors suggesting they were purchased at different times.   

Suddenly, he feels a pinch at his scalp. “Ah!”

“Sorry.” Otabek replies behind him. It’s really tangled.

“ ‘s okay,” Yuri replies lamely. He knows that if he’d done this himself his scalp would be burning by now.

Otabek has combed through most of the tangles by now and is able to brush through his hair in long strokes from scalp to tip, scalp to tip, over and over again until it makes him drowsy.  Really drowsy, unlike before, he doesn’t have to worry about keeping his balance on the bike.

At some point, the brush is replaced with Otabek’s fingers. He can here the brush make a clinking noise against the glass of the table, and he can feel the other man’s blunt nails rake against his skin. Something about the drag of his fingers from the crown of his head to the nape of his neck makes him feel uncomfortably warm. Like when Lila scolds him like a child and makes him put on another layer before going out. Stifling, like when he goes for a soak in the near scalding onsen in July because his muscles scream for some kind of relief.

“Tired?” He feels a few taps against his shoulder, and forces his eyes open.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Otabek leads him down a small hallway to the very end and throws on a light switch. Much like the rest of the apartment, the room is almost bare save for a bed and a desk. The desk stands out in stark contrast to everything else he’s seen in the apartment thus far. It’s covered in bright pink stickers.

“Hey you live alone. Kind of strange that you have a second bedroom isn’t it?”

“I have a little sister. Sometimes she’ll come stay with me for a weekend during the off season.”

Guess that explains the stickers then.

Yuri flops onto the bed without another word.

Otabek vanishes for a moment, and then returns. “Here’s some clothes. You can shower too if you like.” He sets the clothes directly on Yuri’s back, so he’ll have to do something with them other than pass out in his clothes.

“Thanks,” he mumbles into the pillow.


Almaty is a city infinitely larger than Haetsu, and Otabek lives right in the middle of it all. There are towering buildings on either side of Otabek’s apartment complex. There’s a constant sound of traffic that drifts in through the window. And every morning and every afternoon when he takes a 65 bus to and from the university to meet his tutor and he’s crushed shoulder to shoulder with countless other pedestrians. Still, it feels intimately smaller here than it does in Kyushu.

In Haetsu he knows not just Viktor and Yuuri, but Yuuri’s parents, his sister, Minako, the Nishigori’s, and their fucking brats...The old man that goes fishing every morning, the college dropout that works at the konbini, Mrs. Yamamato  the green grocer, the temple attendant…the list of people he “knows” at the very least by name or by occupation goes on and on.

Here it’s just him and Otabek, his tutor Aisha, and Otabek’s coach.

Otabek’s right. It’s quiet here.

They wake up every morning at six am. Well…Otabek wakes up every morning at six. Yuri curses and writhes about between the sheets until six fifteen until he inevitably drags himself into the kitchen to see what Otabek has “made” for breakfast.

It’s usually a poorly mixed protein shake, or a cliff bar tossed in his general direction. Yuri can barely hold a coherent thought in his head, let alone catch something, so it inevitably smacks him in the head. He curses Otabek’s name to filth while he scrambles to find the lost bar.

Judging by the spoon that dangles from the corner of Otabek’s mouth and the open container of rice cakes, today’s breakfast is plain rice cakes with peanut butter.

Gross.

Although Otabek’s Spartan eating habits are almost welcome after the time in Haetsu. At this point, he doesn’t question why Yuuri gains weight easily. Everything his parents make is delicious. No meal is simple either, whether it’s rice porridge for breakfast or onigiri for lunch it’s always rich and plentiful.

Yuri roots around the silverware drawer trying to find another spoon. “Where the hell is the other one?” Otabek lived simply. This meant two spoons, two forks, two knives, two cups, two plates, one fucking coffee mug. Yuri can only assume his fucking sister doesn’t drink coffee.

Otebek makes a grunting noise and gestures to his coffee cup. The other spoon rests inside his unstirred coffee.

“Ugh,” Yuri responds as he plucks the spoon from Otabek’s mouth.

“You should put some pants on,” Otabek says, his mouth obviously full. He takes a long draught of coffee from his mug.

Yuri looks down at himself. He’s wearing his white tiger striped briefs and little else. What does he expect? Otabek’s apartment doesn’t have air conditioning. The heat of the city is stifling, especially at night when he has nothing to do other than lay there and think about how hot it is.

“Whatever.” Yuri plucks the coffee mug from his hand, takes a large gulp, and almost chokes. There’s no coffee in this. Just sugar, and more sugar. “This is disgusting,” he thrusts the cup back into Otabek’s hand and charges off to change into his workout clothes.

“To the president’s park?” he barks around his toothbrush and a mouth full of foam.

After a too long pause, the other man calls back, “Yeah. To the top of the steps. Winner makes dinner.”


It’s quiet here. Even if the car alarm on the neighbor’s goddamn BMW has been going off for the past twenty minutes. Quiet, even though the alarm’s got the neighbor’s dog howling like crazy, and the neighbor works second shift and isn’t there to comfort the dumb dog.

It’s quiet…They haven’t spoken to each other since that morning, when Yuri went off to go see Aisha, and Otabek went off to do whatever the hell it was he did in the mornings before he hit the rink.

They didn’t exchange words at the rink, or on the ride home. Even now, there’s no pressure to speak. It’ comfortable in a way he can’t describe…because it shouldn’t be comfortable. It should be weird, but it’s not and that in it’s own way….is weird.

“Aisha is dumb bitch,” he says finally breaking the silence between them as he lets the book he’d had balanced on his bent knees fall onto his face.

He’s sprawled out across the entirety of the sofa, so Otabek has sat by his side on the floor. His head rests against the cushion. His legs are sprawled out underneath the coffee table. From here, Yuri has the perfect view of where his fresh undercut abruptly halts and turns into crisp unblemished skin.

The room smells like rosemary. Otabek brought home another plant that afternoon and put it alongside the three others on the windowsill. All the other plants were rosemary too. Yuri didn’t question whatever kind of complex logic did or didn’t lie there. He had four pairs of Jimmy Choo glitter slippers at home, all of them the same color. He understood, on some basal level.

The room smells like rosemary and vanilla. Otabek has several candles lit throughout the room. He claims that fluorescent light makes his head hurt.

“Huh?” he says turning and locking eyes with Yuri like he’s trying to figure out what’s going on. “Dumb bitch huh?” Otabek snaps the book in his lap closed and sets it on the table. It’s a paperback copy of Anna Karenina that’s seen better days. The cover is crumpled in several places and the pages look dog eared. He needs to make fun of him, for reading all those girly books. “Isn’t she the one getting a Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics? And you’re the one playing catch up over the summer.”

“Whatever,” he snaps his math textbook closed too, and puts it on the table, on top of Otabek’s novel.

“It’s late.” Otabek notes as he glances at his phone. “Let’s stretch, and then get some kebab from the shop on the corner.”

“You won,” Yuri wrinkles his nose. House rules. Winner of the morning “race” makes dinner. “Don’t shirk your duties.”

“I’ve won every day for the past week and a half. I’m tired of cooking.”

“I’ll beat you tomorrow. Then I’ll make pirozhki.”

“God, I hope so,” Otabek huffs as he pushes the table aside to make room for Yuri on the floor. They both go down into a simple straddle stretch.

“Otabek,” He lays flat and extends his leg perpendicular to his torso. He waits for the familiar pressure of Otabek’s hand on his knee and his heel. This too is familiar now.

“Hm?”

“How do you stretch when no one’s here?”

Otabek crosses his leg downward and extends it towards his arm. “I have Anton do it really well before I leave for home. Then I do it by myself if I need to stretch out again later.”

“Oh,” Yuri swallows thickly as if he knew the answer already.

Otabek switches to his other leg. For the first time, the silence between them almost feels awkward. “Do you ever feel lonely?” He should just stop talking. Who gives a shit if Otabek feels lonely when he’s not here. He’s here now right? Who cares?

“Maybe…” he says as he releases Yuri’s calf. They roll over and trade places so that Otabek is on the floor. “But there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. I’d rather be alone, or with one person than be around a lot of different people people who are shallow and make me feel lonely.”

Yuri presses against the other man’s knee and pushes his leg backwards.

“Why do you ask?”

Despite it being Otabek’s turn for stretching, Yuri tenses. It’s not like him to ask follow up questions, although he did invite it didn’t he?

“The last few weeks I was in St. Petersburg, I felt that way. Viktor’s gone. Georgi is engaged and announced his retirement. It will just be me and Mila. I’m sure Yakov will take on someone else, regardless of what he says. He says he’s getting too old, but I know he will…They’ll take getting used to. Yakov moved out of Lila’s house, so it’s just the two of us there now.”

Otabek simply nods.

Yuri switches his legs. “Otabek,” he says with a tinge of seriousness in his voice. The firm muscles under his fingertips aren’t as pliant as usual. “You’re stiff tonight.”

“Anton had me doing a lot of quads today.” He grimaces slightly when Yuri rotates his leg to the side. “I didn’t make all of them.”

“Do you need the heating pad?”

“No,” the other man sits up and shakes his head from side to side. “Dinner first. Then heating pad.”

They don’t speak again until they’re on they’re way back from the takeout place. It’s quiet in Almaty. He can gather his thoughts here, unlike in Kyushu, where there’s always someone who wants to talk, or have lunch, or tea, or ask him what he thinks of the new short program.

“So you’re lonely,” Otabek says firmly, as if it’s something he’s decided.

“No!” Yuri answers a bit too quickly. “Not here anyway. Not here in Almaty.”

“You know fewer people here.” It’s a statement, but Yuri can feel the drag of a question there.

“Yea, but like it’s different. Like you said. It’s not the number of people right?” It’s something half ass and insincere. Something that Pork Cutlet Bowl would say to Viktor before he got his shit together. He feels ashamed for making the comparison with all it’s implications.   “I have space to hear myself think here.”

Otabek doesn’t speak again until they’re at the top of the steps and he’s fishing around his jeans pockets for the apartment keys. “You’re used to the noise?”

“Yeah, but…”

Otabek unlocks the door, holds it open, and waits for him to step inside. “I think I like the quiet too.”

Before Otabek can continue the line of questioning, he darts toward the linen closet, where he knows the heating pad is stowed. “Okay, get comfortable. You’re not moving until bed time.”


“For fuck’s sake Plisetsky, put on some pants.” Otabek says as he pinches the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.

“Made ya breakfast.” Yuri nods at an opened box of cereal. Maybe Otabek is right about this one. The day glow cheetah print underwear might be a bit much, and this is crossing a line…Into Chris, or wasted Pork Cutlet territory, and he never wants to be associated with any of that. Still, it’s balls hot in the apartment.

Otabek stares at him blankly.

“Alright fine. I ate really fast so you could have a clean bowl. The other one has leftovers in it from last night.” The fucking cheapskate needed a full set of dishes.

Otabek measures himself two precise servings of cereal and tops it off with skim milk. Yuri’s pretty sure he does it all without so much as opening his eyes.

Yuri sips at his coffee and plays with his phone while Otabek eats. He retweets the Nishgori triplets and calls them “baby hags” they like that…It gets them hundreds of new followers each time. “President’s park?”

Otabek nods and grabs for his mug of coffee, takes a swig, and shudders. “Disgusting.” He turns on his heel, goes to the cupboard, and stirs four heaping spoonfuls of sugar into Yuri’s coffee. He takes another drink, and then another.

“I wasn’t finished with that asshole.” He storms off toward his room to get dressed. “All that sugar will make you fat.”

Yuri actually wins the climb up the stairs that morning. All it takes is for him to lunge at Otabek’s ankles while their ascending the steps, and push past him, but he still wins, with a vow to make pirozhki for dinner.

Chapter Text

“Why don’t you just tie it up?” Otabek asks after his third failed attempt at braiding his own hair. Usually Lila does it while she barks the days training agenda at him.

“It doesn’t stay up through practice like that,” Yuri responds. The words are slightly distorted as he speaks around the hair tie in his mouth.

Otabek sighs. It’s the same sigh he makes when he shows up to breakfast in his underwear, or overwaters his plants.

“Let me.” He gestures for Yuri to sit at the benches near the lockers.

Yuri complies.

Otabek cards his hands through his long shoulder length hair a few times. It feels just like it did the first night he arrived in Almaty. It makes him feel hot and sleepy all at once. It’s nothing like when Lila does it. Eventually, he can feel Otabek overlap one strand of hair with the other, over and over, until his hair is in a neat braid.

“Hair tie,” he orders.

Yuri hands it over.

As Otabek secures the braid, he asks, “How do you know how to do that so well?”

“ I do it for my sister.”

Right. The girl whose room he’s staying in. “Hey,” he can feel his voice catch in his throat. Has Otabek seen her since he was in town? He doesn’t want to keep him from her, especially since he knows what it’s like. Knows how hard it is. He’s balancing his own time between Japan, and Almaty, and Moscow….”I’m not like, keeping her from you right?”

“No.” Otabek says firmly. “I see them plenty, even while you’re in town. On Sundays, I visit for longer.” Ah, that makes sense. Otabek considered Sunday his day off, but disappeared after morning exercises, and usually didn’t get back til after dinner.

Yuri snaps a selfie. The braid looks great, and he’s not above using it to get a few (hundred) easy likes. “Can I post this?”

“Do what you want,” Otabek shrugs.

“Can I tag you?”

“Do what you want,” he repeats as he toys with the laces of his skate.

Yuri interprets this as a “yes,” and tags him in the photo. “#hairgoals by @otabek-atlin.”

They skate long lazy figure eights to warm up. Otabek doesn’t exactly warm up. He skates for twenty, sometimes as long as 30 minutes with nothing more advanced than an Ina Bauer in between simple bracket turns, gets a feel for the ice, and then as if a switch is flipped decides it’s time to be a professional skater.

It’s annoying.

“Hurry up, I have things to do.” He calls as he zooms past Otabek who continues to skate at a languid pace.

After he speeds past, he can here the incremental sound blades moving against the ice faster and faster as if they’re trying to catch up. From the corner of his eye he can see Otabek beside them, then he’s in front skating backwards.

And he’s got that stupid shit eating smirk on his face too. Bastard.

“Do you?”

“If Baba Lila gets here and my short program isn’t perfect, she’ll kick your ass and send mine back to St. Petersburg.”

Otabek raises an eyebrow. Yuri wonders if he has any idea how stupid he looks with his smirk, and his eyebrow, and shitty undercut, and those fingerless gloves that he wears on the ice which defeat the fucking purpose.

“Oh, well,” Otabek continues skating backwards without so much as breaking eye contact. It’s not so easy for Yuri, who has to watch the other man’s hips, legs, feet to make sure he doesn’t plow into him. It’s fine. Watching the hypnotic movement back and forth across the ice was infinitely better than watching his stupid face “I wouldn’t want her to send you back before the end of summer.”

“Stop fucking around then and let me practice my short program!” he all but growls as he pushes past Otabek on the ice.

Step sequence. Laying back Ina Bauer, his signature Bielman.

Viktor’s set the expectations high for the short program. Three quads, one of which is in the combination jump. All of them are in the latter portion of the program. It’s hard to top Agape and last year’s flamboyant Prowl but he just might be able to if he can get the hang of the fucking back counter triple axel that Viktor insists upon.

It’s the most difficult axel he’s ever done, and he can feel himself step out of it ever so slightly.

He can feel himself step out of the second jump, ever so slightly.

The combination jump.  Keep them guessing, and save the last quad for the last jump.

“Do you not burn for the gold at Worlds Yuri? Does the pain of losing to your Otabek not scorch?” he can hear the asshole’s voice in his head. He can see the dumb way that he taps his index finger against his mouth as if he’s discovered some grand fucking secret to the universe. The way he says “your Otabek,” in the same shitty tone that he says, “my Yuuri.”

Asshole.

He goes for the flip, and he can feel that the entrance is shaky. By some miracle, he lands sloppy as it is.

“Something like that,” he says after the sound of his own heartbeat begins to fade from his ears. “Hey, what? You don’t think my short program is cool?” Otabek’s wearing his usual deadpan expression. He understands, when he has to explain a hilarious meme, and Otabek still doesn’t get it. He understands, because Otabek has no sense of humor…but this? This was something he should get right away.  

“Why do you look pissy? Like there’s no sugar in your shitty coffee?”

“That axel…” Otabek says finally after clenching and unclenching his fists a few times. “I want to do one like that…” The “teach me” part is implied. Otabek was stubborn, and yes he understands the irony in that assumption, but it’s true.

“I can’t quite get it, which is dumb because axels are supposed to be a given. This one is hard though.  Hell, even Viktor’s busted old ass had a hard time with it. Something about the landing of the back counter into the axel, it’s just-”

“Relentless.” It’s a statement, not a question.

“Yeah.”

Otabek joins him back out on the ice. “What’s the theme?”

“The piece is “Eternal Flame”. The theme for the whole program is “Unyielding.”

Otabek nods solemnly. “Makes sense.”

“No it doesn’t! It’s the same kind of vague shit that Viktor always throws together last minute and gets away with because he’s creative!”

“I guess you wanna see mine now,” Otabek says as if he didn’t even hear Yuri’s last comments. He’s already drifting slowly to the middle of the rink.

“Yeah, as a matter of fact,” he says as he exhales sharply from his nose.

Watching Otabek makes him feel like he’s never felt before. It’s a strange combination of awestruck and pissed off that he’s never experienced while watching another skater, not even Viktor. Where his own program is packed with technical points, Otabek’s seems to find the balance between technical and presentation. The quads are masterful, and he can’t find a blemish in the short program.

Yuri clenches his fist and he can feel his body shaking. It’s mid June and he’s already this good?

Still…There is one glaring issue with the program…

Yuri drifts back out on the ice when he finishes. He claps slowly, but sincerely to show his appreciation. “It’s good, but you always do toe loops. If you keep doing that, no one will care. Surprise me,” Them! Surprise them is what he meant.

“I’m good at toe loops.” Otabek responds simply. “There’s beauty in reliability.”

Yuri feigns snoring noises.

“What’s the music?”

“Caro Nome.”

Yuri scoffs. “You’re really into the sappy shit.” Georgi was floating the idea of using the piece when he first met Anya. In the end he decided to shelve it. Operas and arias were Viktors thing, and they were already compared enough.

“It’s a grand piece,” Otabek says with a huff. It’s the tone that says he’s decided. He’s done. End of discussion.

They skate independently for awhile. Otabek tries quad salchows while Yuri focuses on Viktor’s impossible axel. He alternates doing them off a spread eagle and back counter, and lands on his ass often.

Then, in the way that only Otabek can, whether it’s thirty minutes or an hour since the conversation has died, he picks right back up without warning. “Want to be surprised?”

Yuri yelps in response. Otabek had skated up behind him, and they hadn’t spoken for the better part of a half hour. Yuri raises an eyebrow. This is the kind of talk that gets him “kidnapped” in Barcelona. Gets him “kicked out” (see: chased out) of a café in Montreal for badmouthing a certain “king.” Gets him stranded on a ferry in Marseille.

Otabek is fucking trouble cloaked in a placid scowl. So, of course he responds, “Fuck yeah.”

“Ever do a death spiral?” Otabek’s voices softens like he’s about to sell him some drugs, not ask him about a skating move that’s required in certain divisions by the ISU.

“No,” he scoffs. “That’s for pairs.” He says looking down furtively at the ice, refusing to meet Otabek’s gaze. “You want me to be the girl?” He barks at the other man.

“I want,” he says his voice growing impatient. “To show you something new.” He quickly adds, “It doesn’t have to be regulation or anything. You don’t have to go down low. Just a spin.”

Yuri nods. “Yeah, fine. Whatever. Impress me.”

Yuri swallows the lump in his throat and takes Otabek’s extended hand.

“Trust me.”

“That’s been my problem since the start.”

They skate the length of the rink hand in hand and double back. Otabek instructs the entire time. “We’re going to do a diagonal with a bracket,” He instructs firmly. “Then, just….lean backwards as soon as we’re out of the bracket. Hold your body rigid. Like a jump.”

“My free leg?”

“Rigid too. But also kind of relaxed. Like you’re breaking a fall.”

“Got it.” He doesn’t get it.

They go into the turn… “Fuck!” Yuri swears when he can’t quite lean properly.

Otabek catches him before he falls onto the ice. “It’s okay. Again?”

They go for it again after another loop followed by a diagonal. In theory understands what he needs to do. Relax enough to move downward, and then stay rigid enough for Otabek to actually spin him. It just goes against everything he’s been told to do over the past few years. Rigid and compact for a jump, fluid and roll with it if you fall. He needs to do both almost simultaneously and it’s just.

“Almost. One more time.”

“This is a lot of fucking hassle.”

“it’s fun.”

“Like you would know.”

Otabek leads him into a second loop to shake off the failed second attempt. “I do. My old coach spun me every day. Over and over for weeks until I understood what I was doing before he trusted me with Kamilya. “

Oh. That raised a lot of questions didn’t it?

“This time.”

“Hm.” He says with a clenched jaw and furrowed brow. He can feel Otabek tense, lower him down…By the grace of God his body yields just enough, and then Otabek is actually, honest to God spinning him around. The advertisements on the inside of the rink, the big red LED clock on the wall, the arena seats all spin past over and over and over again in one large blur. And then-

“Fuck,”

“Oof,” Otabek makes a noise like he’s been punched in the gut. In reality he’s been knocked on the ice  with Yuri with him.

Its dumb. It’s so fucking dumb. He shouldn’t have let Otabek spin him around in the first place, but here they are. That’s how dumb it is. He laughs. He laughs and laughs and laughs at just how dumb it is.

And then, oh fuck Otabek’s laughing too. Its deep and rich, and not annoying like when other people laugh. It’s sincere, without being overbearing or too loud.

“That was dumb.” The sting in his hands ad his back confirm it.

“You hadn’t done it before right?”

Otabek gets up from the ice, and offers Yuri his hand. Yuri wants to brush it off and get up by his own damn self…but he did just let the other man spin him around like a lady in pairs. Which is more stupid? He begrudgingly accepts the hand that is offered.

“You did pairs?”

“One season, in juniors. There aren’t a lot of male skaters in Kazakhstan. Even fewer in pairs.” Otabek explains. If a girl wants to do pairs, her parents will pretty much pay for everything for you.”

“Oh, so you were a kept man,” Yuri concludes. “Disgusting.”

Otabek’s expression darkens, and Yuri goes still on the ice. Otabek can put up with a lot of his shit. A lot of his shit. He only gets dark and broody when something hits a little too close to home. “I quit after one season because I didn’t feel free. That’s all I ever wanted from skating.”

Free? He never feels free after hours in the studio with Lila, or Yakov picking apart his routine, or even Viktor nixing his suggestions to the routine and plunging forward with a completely different sequence. He likes skating because he’s good at it. He’s never felt like he was free.


“Otaaaabek,” Yuri calls from the kitchen. The call is accompanied by a jingling noise, then a crash, and a slew of curses. “Get in here I need your help.”

Otabek sighs, snaps his copy of The Thorn Birds closed, and abandons the couch for the kitchen.

“Pirozhky again Yuri?” He asks upon entering the room.

“Not just any pirozky,” Yuri beams. “Katsudon pirozhky. From Japan, and Russia with Love!”

“I see,” Otabek says softly as he rocks back and forth from his heels to the balls of his feet and back again. “Ah, Yuri?” Otabek starts, and then his voice trails off.

It’s strange. Otabek chooses his words carefully, so he’s never at a loss for them.

“What’s wrong with your face?”

Yuri’s expression falls flat. He lets the cutlet he’d been prepping fall into the egg wash. “What the hell do you mean what’s wrong with my face? It’s a smile asshole. Maybe you should try it some time.”

Despite being yelled at, Otabek doesn’t leave the kitchen. He watches Yuri for a moment as he pounds the cutlets thin, dips them in egg, and then coats them in panko.

Yuri knows when he’s being stared at. At best someone’s staring down his amazing fashion wondering where the hell they can get whatever he’s got. At worst, it’s Yuri’s Angels about to squeal and beg for an autograph.

He’s no stranger to the sensation that coils at the base of his spine. Otabek’s staring.

“Don’t just stand there. Stir the rice.”

Otabek opens several drawers before he finds the spoon. Then, he stirs the rice. “Do you only know how to make Pirozhky?”

Yuri scoffs. “Of course not. I can make Borscht pretty well…At this point I think I can make more Japanese food than Russian though.” Yuri drops an experimental piece of cutlet into the oil to test its temperature. It crackles and bubbles until it reaches a rich brown color. “Viktor lets us stop around 3 or 4 a lot. Viktor and Yuri usually get the Onsen ready for the after dinner crowd, and Mari usually makes me help finish dinner prep. I can make miso, udon, and daikon stew pretty well.”

“Daikon?”

“Radishes. But like they actually taste good. They’re the best radishes I’ve ever had…” his voice trails off. This is the second or third time he’s made Pirozhky for Otabek. Not enough considering how it’s nearing the end of June and they’ve gone for a run every day since he arrived. “Why do you always say winner makes dinner for the loser?” He’s not really questioned the rule. He always wants to win, and he always wants to make Pirozhky.

“It shows humility doesn’t it?”

“Huh?” He’s still not used to Otabek’s cryptic ass even after all of this time.

“If the winner does something nice for the loser, it shows humility doesn’t it?”

“Yeah sure,” Yuri says as he drops more meat into the pan. “Get the vegetables out of the steamer will you?”


“Do you mind Plisetsky? Otabek closes the medicine cabinet door and wipes the fog off the mirror so that he’s looking right in the mirror, and at Yuri.

Otabek looks dumb as fuck with his face covered in shaving cream. There’s several swipes taken out of white lather that covers his face, revealing tan skin beneath.

“Not at all,” Yuri responds. “I told you I was done with the shower. I just didn’t say I was done with the sink.” He says through gritted teeth. Every word comes out slurred and foamy, like Otabek’s shaving cream. “I have to MOISTERIZE.”

“One minute.”

Yuri watches for one minute, or two minutes, or it could’ve been a whole goddamn fucking day for all he knew as Otabek shaves his face. It’s hypnotic the way the white foam disappears after long, delicate strokes of the razor. They’re interspaced with quick, flick of the wrist movements to get missed spots and stubborn stray hairs, and those movements too are hypnotic. The way Otabek stretches his upper lip over his teeth in order to get that area should be gross. It’s not.

It makes him feel like he has a lump in his throat. Queasy, like when Lila cooks dinner instead of fishing money from her purse and sending him down the street for takeout, but completely different.

Otabek wipes his face down with a warm wet rag. Then he dries his face, and hangs the fluffy white towel off of his bare shoulder. He turns to Yuri. “When you’re finished out here, come out to the balcony. I need a favor.”

“Wh-what?” he stammers. He knows he’s borscht fucking red right now, and what he really wants is to crawl up into the hamper next to the sink and fucking die. Is this the way Otabek feels when he’s bitching about him in his underwear at breakfast?

Whatever.

Yuri commandeers the sink and finishes his routine.

Yuri takes the time to comb his hair, brush his teeth, and pull on a shirt. It’s a white button down that he leaves undone for the time being. Then, he goes to join Otabek on the balcony.

Almaty looks surreal at sunset. The fog and clouds that surround the mountains take on an ethereal gray-gold-rose kind of glow that’s unlike anything he’s ever seen before. The buildings, with their fluorescent lighting turned on, look like gaudy jewels on a skating costume. 

“What’s this about?”

Otabek’s got one of the kitchen chairs dragged out to the balcony. The screen door is propped open by a sage plant, and he’s reaching around to the interior wall to plug something in. “trim my hair?”

Yuri doesn’t respond. It’s such a strange request….”Shouldn’t you go to the barber for that or something?”

“Just the undercut.” He says as he thrusts the clippers into his hands. “No need to see someone for that.”

“If I give you a bald patch, I’m not responsible.”

The buzz of the clippers is low, constant, soothing… like the mint rosemary salve that Otabek rubs onto hands after practice, and offers to Yuri without being asked…Like Otabek’s laugh, deep sincere, and elusive. Even though this is exactly what Otabek asked of him, it feels wrong.

Wrong like when he looks up from his phone and catches Viktor and Cutlet making out. Not just a peck on the cheek or the lips, but open mouthed, needy, “Ah, fake yawn Yurio we’re tired, and turning in.” Wrong like when he sees the little purple marks on Viktor’s collar bones in the onsen on the nights that follow.

It feels wrong, but it doesn’t stop him from running his finger from Otabek’s earlobe, down the crest of his hairline and to the nape of his neck.

He removes the plastic guard on the end for longer hair and brings the clippers down to the lowest setting. Slowly, carefully, as if Mari has loaded his arms with cargo and he has to make it up the steps to Yu-topia he takes the clippers to Otabek’s undercut and shears away the short black hair that’s grown there. 

His skin is soft and warm, and he knows that raking his nails against the freshly shorn hair is so fucking wrong…but being in the wrong has never stopped him before, so why does it matter now?

“Careful,” Otabek warns.

Yuri can feel the blood in his veins turn to ice. It’s like he’s put every shitty thought in his head into one single fucking word.

“Around the ears,” he continues. “Tickles when you get close.”

“Oh.” Yuri relaxes again. He rests his free hand against Otabek’s shoulder. “I need to get close to there though. Or it’ll look stupid and uneven.” He presses against the shell of Otabek’s right ear, moving it away from his head and the approaching clippers. “Does that tickle?”

“Not so much,” Otabek decides after he’s moved onto the left ear. “This is going to suck isn’t it?”

Dinner, with Baba Lila and her Baba friends? Nothing got past this guy. Nothing at all. “Yes,” he says finally. “But last time I did this with Lila in Paris it introduced me to someone who knew someone else. Got an endorsement deal. Hag knows people. It’s sucks, but it can be useful.”

He combs the longer hair on the crown of Otabek’s head backwards, the way he usually styles it with his fingers. Then, he lets his fingertips drift lazily from his head, to his neck, and then to the juncture of Otabek’s neck and shoulder. He presses into the skin there lightly and rubs in a slow soft circle. Otabek’s always so fucking tense.

The other man leans into the wrong, selfish, wrong touch and lets out a long sigh like breath.

After what feels like hours, Otabek catches his wrist in his hand and pulls Yuri’s hand away from his shoulder. “Your shirt needs ironing,” he says after a pause. His sleeves are unbuttoned, and Otabek’s fingers are against his pulse point.

It feels like his heart is going to beat out through his wrist, or something.

“I have an iron and a board. It’s in the linen closet.”

Yuri scoffs and pulls his hand away. He doesn’t do that stuff.

“Okay,” Otabek says as he stands from the chair. “My shirt needs ironing too. Just set it up for me. I’ll get yours after my shower.”


Yuri knows when he’s being stared at. It’s a eerie prickle like feeling that starts at the back of the neck, spreads to the nape, and grows into pins and needles across your scalp while you’re being scrutinized.

Yuri knows he’s being stared at, despite having his palms planted firmly on the off-white and brown speckled kitchen counter facing the toaster and the wall. Lila told him to lay off the carbs, so he’s eating fucking toast this morning.

“Problem, Altin?” he says with a slight sneer. “I’m wearing fucking pants,” he turns around on his heel to face the other man.

Otabek’s eyes drift downward, then upward, and then downward again. Slowly, like he’s drinking him in like his foul, over sweetened coffee.

Otabek closes the distance between them so that he’s only inches away. His gaze remains unwavering, heavy like he needs to say something. He leans upward on the balls of his feet, and then towards Yuri…Only to reach upward to the cabinet and reach for the single coffee mug. “Not yours though.”  He leans back onto his heels, then goes flat footed. He pours himself a cup of coffee, deescalating the situation just as quickly as it began.

Yuri looks down at teal sweats. He doesn’t really keep track of what clothes he has and what he doesn’t unless it’s really nice and really expensive. However, the marigold colored letters down the thigh that say, “team Kazakhstan” indicate that they may not have been his.

Who fucking cares? He must’ve given them to him at some point.

Chapter Text

From the center, through the diagonal, counter turn and then-

“Fuck,” he can feel the Axel pop as he goes into the second rotation. Stupid axel. Stupid Viktor. Before he can right himself, the unmistakable sound of another popped jump fills his ears.

“Damn.”

Yuri rolls over and finds Otabek laying awkwardly on his side. Their eyes meet for a moment.

Yuri gets up, and skates to the wall for a drink of water. He’s tried the axel at least two dozen times from the counter, and you know what? It’s not fucking working. It’s so not working that after the first dozen Lila told him to let it be, rest for the night, and not be late to pointe tomorrow morning.

Maybe the hag was right.

Otabek skates four of his long, languid amateur laps before doing a Mohawk turn into a quad Salchow. That one also gets popped, but Otabek merely touches down, doesn’t fall. He gains momentum and does it again. Under rotation, sloppy exit, takes him a bit to recover. Once more, he pops the jump and falls.

“Otabek,” Yuri asks as he drifts back onto the ice. He offers the other man his hand, and Otabek accepts. “Why are you fucking up?”

“I don’t want to be boring.”

Yuri can feel the slow hot creep of a blush up his face. He’s fairly certain that Otabek is directly referencing what he said the other day about toe loops. “This is for the free skate yeah?”

“Hm.” It’s as good as a “yes,” in Ota-speak.

“What’s the music?” The chances of him actually being able to help Otabek work through the problem is slim to none, but it’s easier to focus on someone else’s stuff when you yourself suck.

“It’s an original piece, and it’s not quite ready yet.”

“Hm. “Which is as good as a, “you’re cutting it close,” in Yuri speak. “Your form looks good. I don’t get it.” He says out loud. 

“Neither do I. Same on your counters.”

“It’s just hard,” Yuri decides. “Fuck it. Let’s do something else.” He begins to skate backwards drifting away from Otabek.

Otabek follows, slowly as if he’s hesitant. “Something that isn’t an axel, or a Salchow…but something where I can still show those fucking counters,” he clenches his teeth around the word. “That they’re just turns...”

Otabek closes the distance and skates up behind him out of a wide elegant Choctaw.

Yuri extends his arm upwards in response and rests it, extended on Otabek’s shoulder.

“This?” Otabek asks. They didn’t retire the death spin like they should have the other night. It lives on as some kind of end of practice fever dream that crops up every few nights when the jumps don’t go well. If Yuri thinks about it, it’s a shitty way to close out shitty nights. They never land it.

“Yeah.”

They skate in tandem for a few diagonals. Yuri keeps his hand extended against the other man’s shoulder, while Otabek touches the tender exposed skin of the underside of his arm . Otabek’s hand brushed against his hip, judging the distance between them. Yuri leans down and back and doesn’t worry about the rigidity of his body, just makes sure that he pulls against Otabek as hard as he can because after this many attempts he knows that Otabek can support him.

The world blurs. Around and around, and since the inevitable fall never comes he gets dizzy and has to close his eyes.

Before he can even comprehend what’s going on, Otabek is guiding him back up. Their eyes lock, and in an instant it’s like some strange kind of Georgi witch magic is cast over both of them because they’ve never fucking stuck the landing of the spiral before.

He’s got his own hand on the back of Otabek’s neck now, but it’s justified. At least that’s what he tells himself. They’ve launched into this weird impromptu step sequence, and they’re gonna do the counter turn. That was the whole stupid reason they did the spiral, and he’s not stepping out of it until he finishes what he sets out to do.

Rocker, counter, rocker, til they’re facing each other, and then Otabek’s so close to him. Like, so fucking close, hand back on the hip, but there’s no need to check the distance between them, they’re facing one another this time.

So close that he can see the scant pale freckles that dot the bridge of Otabek’s nose. 

Suddenly, there’s a flat palm on the small of his back crushing him to Otabek’s chest, and Yuri’ thinks he’s leaning forward, but who can fucking tell when everything’s happening in fast-forward slow motion?

“Yuri.” Otabek stops millimeters away from his mouth. He can feel the other man’s breath hot on his face. The scent of rosemary and mint is heavy in the air, his scent rom being so close. Their chests are heaving against each other from the strain of the spiral, and it’s all too fucking much. They pant against each other for awhile, neither of them moving before Otabek speaks again. “I’m going to land that Salchow.”

As quickly as the whole thing escalated, Otabek broke contact, did a loop, and left Yuri dumbfounded in the middle of the rink. “You’re gonna land the Salchow panting like fat kid chasing after the ice cream tuck huh?”

Otabek does in fact, land the jump.


“Oi, Yuuri,”

“Yurio,” Yuuri’s jaw goes slack as he stares into the camera. Yeah, he called Cutlet by his real name. He’s not stupid enough to start the conversation with insults.

The muscles in his hand constrict, and the image of Yuri starts to vibrate in his hand as he trembles. This is fucking stupid.

Still…

“Viktor’s not around right?”

It’s obvious that Yuuri’s in the banquet room turned bedroom at Yuu-topia. An oscillating fan is pointed right on him, and the noise of the wind interferes with the audio of the call ever so slightly. Yuuri fans himself with an additional paper fan, pale blue with soft pink cherry leaves as they talk.

Guess he’s not the only one who is roasting alive. Yuri’s got the window open and the fan on, but the late afternoon heat is relentless. He discarded his shirt as soon as he got to the apartment. He assumes Yuri doesn’t care. They’ve bathed together countless times.

“Yuri, we’re married. Viktor’s around quite often.”

“You know what the fuck I mean,” he spits through clenched teeth. “I need-“ he says out loud. His internal monologue kicks into overdrive. “Fucking help because I’m overwhelmed, and I don’t know what I’m doing, and both of us are somehow doing an extremely effective job of pretending that absolutely nothing happened the other day, and as much as I don’t wanna gossip like a school girl to you, Pork Cutlet of all people, I have to say something to someone or I’m honest to god going to believe that I cracked my skull open during the death spiral and I’m in a coma,” he says to himself internally.

Luckily, Yuuri cuts him off before any of it can actually tumble out of his mouth in one big nasty word barf. “He’s in the living room doing some online shopping I think. Do you want me to get him or?”

“No!” Yuri replies almost too quickly. “Just, call me back when he’s out of town, or out on errands or something.”

“Top secret huh?” Yuri replies with a half-smile.

Yuri hits the little red phone icon ending the Facetime call. “No.” he says to the ended call.


 “Ten millimeter,” Otabek says without so much as looking up from his bike. “Yuri,” he says after a few moments of silence. “Ten millimeter, please.”

“Oh, shit-fuck, damn.” He rakes his hand across the socket set until he finds the appropriate wrench and hands it to the other man. So much for being Otabek’s assistant. “Here.”

Otabek accepts the socket, changes it out for the one on his wrench, and hands the old one back to Yuri.

“So what’s wrong with it?” Yuri flops back onto the grass now that his assistance is no longer needed. He can feel the wispy cotton fabric of his shirt hike upward as he settles into the grass. He doesn’t make a move to pull it back down. It’s the hottest day so far in Almaty, and the grass feels cool, if not a little ticklish beneath his skin. He turns over on his side, and props his head up on his elbow so that he can latch onto the long straw that rests in his Diet Coke.

“Someone,” Otabek begins. His voice doesn’t waiver, but he knows where this is going. “Flooded it last night.”

The, “After I let you drive in the city after midnight without a license, and you thought that guy on a Yamaha was trying to race,” part was heavily heavily implied. Despite Otabek’s brevity, the sting within the words was not lessened.

“Yeah well SOMEONE,” locks eyes with the other man, who looks far more put together than he should for allegedly having a “slight” hangover… “GOT SHITFACED ON TWO GLASSES OF WINE AT DINNER,” His tone raises exponentially from the start of the sentence to the end…But seriously…First of all lightweight. He’s seen Yuuri and Viktor have four or five glasses of wine and then race each other down to the Ice Castle for after dinner skating. Two glasses is nothing.

Also, someone with engine grease smeared on their hands and forearms should look gross. Someone in just a black tank top and joggers out in the complex’s courtyard should look trashy as fuck, and yet here he is looking like some kind of pulse quickening, blood pounding, mouth drying train wreck he couldn’t look away.  Hungover. Yeah right. He’s seen the under eye bags Viktor gets when he ties one on for real. No way.   

“Baptism by fire I guess,” Otabek says as he plucks a sparkplug off the engine block. Otabek’s let him drive before, usually just down the street to pick up groceries. The prior times he’s always steadied the bike and given him clear instructions. Last night, Otabek just wrapped his arms tight around his waist and said, “I have faith in you.”

The sound of the next plug being ratcheted loose fills the silence between them. “These plugs needed to be replaced anyhow.”

On the lawn there are anemic, sickly little clover flowers that blossom small and stay small due to the courtyard’s frequent mowing. They’re nothing like the strong yet pliant wisteria vines the baby hags braided into his hair in Japan.

Their pathetic stature, doesn’t stop him from threading the thin stems together one over the other while Otabek works on the bike. It’s a good distraction from the fact that it’s Sunday, which means that if his temper hadn’t gotten the best of him, and he hadn’t flooded the bike, Otabek would be gone…He’d be off seeing his sister or whatever it is he does on Sunday afternoons while Lila has him do pointe steps while she quizzes him on literature.

It’s also a great distraction from the death spiral incident earlier in the week. He’s decided that if Otabek’s not going to bring it up, he’s not going to bring it up. It’s as simple as that.  

“I need the fourteen millimeter again Yuri.” Yuri’s hand lazily drifts back to the tool box, plucks the socket, and hands it to Otabek.

The way he says it is completely different. His voice is deeper. The first syllable is said rapidly, and the second sharply. It’s nothing like the dragged out and elongated, “Yuuu,” and the accompanying silky soft, “ri,” way Viktor says Cutlet’s name…but he can’t stop comparing the two. He’s not good with any of the symbolism garbage that Lila keeps hounding him about in literature, but he’s not fucking stupid. There’s something in Otabek’s tone that makes the purposiveness behind those syllables painfully fucking obvious.

“This too.” He slips the looped strands of clover loosely over Otabek’s wrist.

Otabek looks at it, then at him, and then back at the flower bracelet.

“You do it then,” he thrusts the socket into Yuri’s palm. He doesn’t remove the flowers.

“What, me? No way?” Wasn’t he just fucking scolded for flooding the engine?

“You might need to know how to do this, if you ever have a car or a bike or something.”

“I’ll pay for someone to fix it.”

“That’s wishful thinking,” Otabek replies. “You might not always be so fortunate.” Otabek snaps up Yuuri’s diet coke, discards the straw into the grass, and drains the can. He winces when he finishes. “Artificial sweetener,” he shudders.

“Get your fucking own then.” He takes the ratchet from Otabek. Humoring him is the least he can fucking do for flooding his bike right?

“Just put it on the plug,” he gestures to the spark plug on the engine. “And crank to the left. I’ve already got them loosened.”

“Hm.” The sound of the ratchet click-click-clicking the spark plug loose fills the silence once again. Otabek sits next to where he knees on the grass at the engine.

Yuri knows that Otabek’s gaze burns with the orange blue hot intensity of a campfire hastily lit on the beaches of Fukuoka. However, it no longer feels like he’s on fire. The feeling on the small of his back, where Otabek is undoubtedly staring feels warm, yes. But it no longer conveys, “I’m going to consume you alive.” It’s a more subdued smolder that gives him the confidence to manipulate the bike without fear of fucking it up any worse.

One of the many alley cats sneaks out from behind the toolshed, across the freshly cut grass, and adjacent to where Otabek sits.

Three kittens peak out from behind the shed from whence she came.

“Blinky!” he almost drops the wrench. There are a lot of cute cats that live out in the ally way. Trevor is a yellow Tabby with green eyes. Seabass is a big fat gray tabby who bullies all the rest. Neko…Looks a lot like one of the strays that lived near the shrine by Yuuri’s house, so she gets a generic Japanese name.

Blinky on the other hand…her off white body was lumpy and misshapen from too many pregnancies. She only had one eye, and so her gaze just kind of roamed around constantly without any direction. She was hideous, and for that Yuri loved her the most.

“Blinky?” Otabek says with a half chuckle. “This is Enyo, the one eyed witch who shares a single eye and a single tooth between herself and her sisters.”

Yuri stops ratcheting for a moment. A lot of fucking words just came out of Otabek’s mouth. About a cat no less.

His chest gets tight, and…Chest pain? Is he having a fucking heart attack? He whips out his phone and googles the symptoms for a heart attack. A cursory scan of Web MD reveals that he is in fact, not having a heart attack.

So why does his chest feel so fucking tight?

“I call her Blinky. That’s like an actual and appropriate cat name.”

“She’s foul.” Otabek says as he rubs his fingers together gesturing for Blinky to come closer.

She doesn’t.

“It’s kind of endearing,” Otabek continues.

Yuri removes the rest of the old sparkplugs before Otabek intervenes once more.

Otabek extends his hand towards Yuri gesturing for the socket wrench. The purple and white clovers dangle off his wrist limply.  “Okay, you’ve proven yourself. I’ll take back over.”

Yuri sneers and wipes the grease from the engine block onto Otabek’s shirt. He’s no fun, he doesn’t even flinch.

“You’ve been feeding them?” Otabek asks after a long while. Long enough for Blinky’s kittens to deem it safe and venture out from behind the shed and into the courtyard. Long enough for him to get photos of the fat one, and the stupid one. He just needs to get photos of the little tortoise shell one that he’s determined to take with him back to St. Petersburg.

“Yeah.” He says looking up at Otabek over the top of his phone. It doesn’t matter. Otabek’s staring intently at the bike. It gives Yuri the chance to the one doing the coal hot staring. He swears he can see the tension in Otabek’s shoulders, neck, and arms in the way that the muscles flex and move underneath his skin.  Independent of that, his movements are slow and deliberative in a way that he knows his own are not.

He feels jealousy at that realization, but he’s not sure if it’s warranted. “Is that a problem?” He says in regards to the cats.

“No,” Otabek replies just a bit too quickly. “I often feel conflicted,” Otabek supplies after a moment. “On whether or not it’s the right thing to do.” He rises from the engine block slowly, and tries to kick start the engine a once, twice, a third time to no avail.

On each attempt, makes loud popping noise like it wants to turn over, but the sound dies part of the way through, and in the end nothing happens.

Otabek quickly returns to a kneeling position and fiddles with something above the engine.

“Be less cryptic, Otabek.”

Otabek drops something into the grass and swears in Kazakh under his breath. “If I feed them, they get healthier, which means the females can get pregnant more often, which means more stray cats in the alley. More that live past springtime and into the winter. Then those kittens grow, become pregnant…More strays. In the winter, even if I feed them there are only so many places they can go. The weaker ones…” His voice trails off.

“Doing nothing seems less cruel to you?” He’s legitimately fucking interested. A little disturbed, because Otabek’s thought about it at that level of detail, and that level of detail just might involve dead kittens. Which, is awful….However, he’s never thought of it from that perspective before.

“Not exactly,” Otabek puts the ratchet down absent mindedly and turns to Yuri. “What is the best way to care for something?” Otabek’s voice trails off.  “What if the best way to care for something isn’t what you perceive to be the best way? What if that person-”

Person? Weren’t they talking about cats?

“Wants to be cared for in an entirely different way? Or…what if…they don’t want to be cared for…at all?” The words roll off his tongue slowly and deliberately unlike anything else he ever says that make it extremely clear they’re no longer talking about cats.  There’s an unprecedented need and uncertainty there that makes Yuri’s stomach do flip-flops in his abdomen.

“Um,” Yuri swallows the lump in the bottom of his throat. He’s begrudgingly used to Otabek inducing this kind of feeling in him by now. The issue still stands that he’s known him for almost a year, stayed here for a month, and he’s never heard him speak this much at once.

“Yuri?!” His voice is still soft and steady, but there’s a slight raise in the tone. Could that be…panic? “What if the best way to care for someone is neither what the caregiver or the receiver think is the best way?”

Yuri stares at him for a moment with wide eyes. He’s behind on his fucking school work for fuck’s sake. He can’t keep up with this level of abstraction. “I think Otabek,” he begins shakily. “If I keep putting out food for them,” one of the kittens has drifted his way and he almost gets a pat in. “And you keep, not putting food out for them,” he looks from Otabek to the kittens, to the grass and back again. He has no idea what they’re talking about anymore. “Then it all cancels out in the end right?”

“Hm,” Otabek agrees after a long while “Ten millimeter?”

“Here,” Yuri hands it to him, and just like that they switch back to like it was before. No matter how weird Otabek was, he never lets it get “weird,” which was nice considering some of the “weird” conversations he’s had with Cutlet, and Chris, and that weird Italian incest guy.

“This is why I like plants.”

“Hm.”

After another twenty or so minutes, Otabek rises from his kneeling spot in the grass. Yuri notices, even when he tries to look away and ignore it, the way Otabek clutches and rubs at the small of his back as he stands.

Otabek kick starts the engine, and immediately it roars to life. The thunder of the engine vibrates everything nearby. Even his teeth rattle in his skull.

“Ride?” Otabek asks in a single word as if the words he borrowed earlier are rapidly accruing interest. He swings his leg over the seat, leaving the tools to be put away later.

Yuri doesn’t nod, or say yes. He simply tugs his shoes back on, and swings his leg over the other side of the bike in response.

“Where are we going?”

“You wanted to hear the music for my free program?”

Yuri swallows the knot in his throat and wraps his arms around Otabek’s middle. It’s the first time either of them has so much as vaguely referenced the death spiral incident.


At this point in his life, Yuri understands the subtle indicators of money. The suede couch in Viktor’s apartment, despite being an unassuming piece in an aesthetically underwhelming apartment, was a stealth indicator of wealth. The fine brushed suede, the hand carved buttons, the elegant knit seams.

Lila’s candlestick holders, which are undoubtedly solid silver through and through. He’s lit them before for the sole purpose of toasting a marshmallow over.

Hell the table itself is large enough for ten people, and the ability to accommodate that many is an indicator alone, regardless of what the table is made of or how it looks.

He’s used to ostentatious displays of wealth as well. Shitty and shallow as it sounds, he’ll never fucking forget the first designer piece he bought. It was an oversized women’s Chanel sweatshirt, and yes he bought it after one of the Grand Prix cups in juniors with Viktor. It had a huge logo that stretched from the collarbone almost to the bottom hem.

He’s comfortable with these. They’re quick, easily identifiable and even easier to dispose of. Zip up your jacket and nobody knows about the $1200 logo. The same can’t exactly be said for your million dollar home.

Which is why the mansion before him is so confusing. It’s big and gaudy and ostentatious with French doors and tacky pillars, and yet it has signs of subtle wealth too…Signs that convey much more than “we can afford a large house.” The hardwood floors that go on for miles without a scratch, and the pale blue vases in the foyer that are filled, not just with fresh flowers, but orchids.

“Otabek,” he says as he follows no less than a step behind the other man at any given moment. “Mind telling me where we are?”

“It’s my mother’s home.”

Wow, that was a really stupid question. Otabek literally thumbed through the keys on his keyring until he extracted a copper colored key, stuck it into the lock, and let them inside moments ago.

He leads them into another larger foyer area. The hard wood floor is covered by a massive indigo colored rug with marigold colored patterns. The indigo is slightly faded, evenly not from wear but from age. It’s another subtle sign of wealth. They’re antiques, and yet they’re out on the floor to be stepped on like common carpet.

He watches in slow motion as his feet drift across the carpet and into a sitting room. The furniture there is more modern, but it still captures the Ottoman style of the rugs. Sofas made with dark wooden frames inlaid with lighter colored wood, pillows made from blindingly bright silk. He shouldn’t he really shouldn’t just wander around uninvited, but…

Is that a…of?  There’s a large oil painting over the fireplace. Its subject a tall slender woman in a long sleeve black evening dress. She’s wearing a black hijab pinned around her neck with a large brooch that was shaped like a scarab beetle. The framing of her face makes her eyes glow in the ink like embers.

At her side, dressed in a small tuxedo is undeniably a little Otabek. Maybe the artist was taking license with his likeness at the time. More likely, Otabek did in fact look just as stoic back then as he does now. His eyes in the painting are also sharp to the point of gripping intensity…He can’t look away.

He understands what Otabek meant when he said that when he met Yuri, he had the eyes of a soldier.

Yuri can hear Otabek’s footsteps behind him and somewhere slightly to the left. “Oh that.” Otabek says blandly. “She had that painted before we moved back to Almaty from France.”

Yuri nods, but he doesn’t quite get it. France? Since when? “Uh, any other oil paintings. Maybe that show your sister?”

He was joking, but Otabek points to the adjacent wall. There are four figures in this painting. They all look stiffer than Otabek after a long night of failed jumps. “My sister,” he points to the girl to the left of his mother “Farida.” The three of them have the same eyes. Yuri can barely stand the intensity of Otabek’s stare. For a moment he wonders how small and how strange he would if all three of them bore into his soul at once. The painting alone is almost overwhelming.

“My mother’s husband. Farida’s father.” He gestures to the man in the photo. He’s shorter than Otabek’s mother, but not by much. “Where are they?” The house was huge, but it was unreasonable that no one had noticed their entrance.

“Right now?” Otabek hikes up the sleeve on his leather jacket to look at his watch. “It’s later than I usually come. Mosque probably.”

“Come on,” He feels a hand at his shoulder. “The free skate music. You wanted to hear it right?”

“Hm.”

Otabek leads him through another few rooms that seemingly had no purpose other than to house expensive shit in. Then, up a flight of stairs and down a hallway that was lined with more expensive shit.

Otabek hangs a left, and throws open a pair of large French doors that were three times as tall as he was.

The room was lined with more antique looking furniture, a harp, and a cello in a stand. Behind them, more large glass doors that led to a balcony outside. In the center was a silk black grand piano.

Otabek goes to one of the bookshelves that line the room. He pulls out a single leather bound portfolio and extracts a few pieces of sheet music from the file.

Then, he places the music on the stand and sits at the bench. Without a word he gestures to an empty section of the piano bench.

Yuri tries to give the other man enough space to reach the full range of keys.

“Otabek,” Yuri can hear the tremor in his voice. “Mind explaining?” Otabek didn’t like to speak. However, he never denied Yuri an explanation if asked explicitly. “My mother was the best concert pianist in Kazakhstan,” he said as he raised his hands to the keys. “And among the best in France and Vienna and Germany and Switzerland,” Otabek locks eyes with him briefly. There’s something darker and heavier there than usual. His mouth opens then closes again as if he wants to add to that statement, but choses not to. “She’s working on this for my free skate.”

Yuri follows Otabek’s gaze back to the sheet music. The notes aren’t machine printed like other music he’s seen. They’re carefully handwritten in fine tipped pen.

“Piano used to be expected of me. Now, when I need to fix a problem with my skating, I clear my head.” Otabek holds his gaze for a moment, his silent way of asking if the explanation was sufficient.

Yuri nods yes in response. Although it’s similar to skating, he almost feels the same way about ballet now, although he’d never tell Lila. Sometimes it’s nice to just glide and move without having to think or worry about busting your ass on the ice.

Otabek’s fingers hit the keys. It starts slow like one of Viktor’s arias but rapidly picks up pace. His hands glided effortlessly up and down the octaves, and for a moment Yuri thought that it was unfair that Otabek had the power to make two very difficult things, piano and skating look so easy.

Other than the slow start, which he assumed was meant to be for a step sequence, the pace of the piece was brutal. Like Allegro Apassionato brutal. Up and down and up and down the scales again and again until a transition. Here Otabek made several errors, the notes breaking up the piece awkwardly. Yuri shouldn’t have, but he took slight comfort in this. It was good to reaffirm that Otabek was human, and not imperfect in everything that he did.

Otabek played like he skated. There was stoicism in his face, but by now Yuri could pick up on the subtle displays of emotion. The flared nostrils, the deep rise and fall of his chest as he tried to pull in air.

Yuri found it strange that Otabek would need to breathe so deeply for such a sedentary activity. But…He played with his whole body. Yuri could see the flex of his shoulders beneath his shirt. Felt him lean into his space on the bench where his arms could not reach the extremely high notes, and pull away from him extremely low notes.

After the transition the tone was deeper, still relentless, almost sorrowful. They meandered where the previous section was systematic. Then, in stark contrast it closed with a chord of softer, more delicate notes.

“Something like that,” Otabek says reaching for the sheet music.

It takes a moment for Yuri to be able to pick his jaw up off the floor. “Wow,” he says finally. It’s an oversimplified version of how he really feels right now, and yet he can’t think of another response.  Still the question remained…What exactly was Otabek saying with the piece?

Otabek puts the music back into the portfolio and onto the shelf. He goes to one of the large glass doors and leans up against it. Through the large panes of glass, the picturesque mountainside can be seen in the distance. “I envy skaters like you and Katsuki,” he says after a long pause. “Or Viktor….or even Christopher Giacometti and Georgi Popovich.”

Georgi? Weird.

“Your ability to skate your emotions freely.”

“It’s not effortless,” Yuri fires back. “I struggle with it all the time. Do you think I really give a shit on how to convey, “Unyielding? Things that don’t yield: mountains, bridges, dams…People usually,” he waves his hands about, “yield.”

Otabek turns to him and pulls his trump card. The smirk. Gross. Gross and unfair. “That of all things, should be easy for you.”

“Well,” Yuri responds with a huff. “What kind of shitty feeling has you feeling shitty?”

Otabek shoots him a look through half lidded eyes. It’s laden in something that’s somewhere between genuine infatuation and bitter sarcasm. The look that says, “Eloquent, Plisetsky,” in a simple glance. “The name of the piece is, “Мен жақсы көретін кісі үшін”

Otabek translates the piece, but from hearing it alone he understands. “For the one I adore.” It’s apparent, just knowing that his mother wrote the piece for him.

 A long time passes. Yuri thinks about responding, but he knows that it’s one of those kinds of heavy things that Otabek would never expect a response to. It’s one of those things that just saying out loud in and of itself was cathartic. So, he doesn’t respond…Possibly for his own sake.  

“Beka,” a female voice cuts through the silence between them.

Who the fuck was Beka?

“You did come today!” a girl of about ten walks into the room. Her long black hair is pulled back into a braid. The way her long orange dress hit the vermillion rug…it made her look like she was floating.

Otabek turns to her, “Farida.”

She doesn’t so much hug him as she leans her forehead briefly against his shoulder. “We didn’t think you were coming today. Your transitions suck because you only practice on weekends.”

“Bike problems.”

“Is this Yuri?” She turns to him. Her scrutinous gaze doesn’t feel like it’s going to set her ablaze like Otabek’s but it’s still very intense. Like he’s being picked apart and put back together over and over again under her stare. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

So coming from Otabek, six words and a grunt.

“You do a good Bielman.”

Uh-huh.

“And raise your arms during your jumps,”

Uh-huh.

“And set a world record.”

Actually two now, but who’s counting?

 “And have an axel that he,” she gestures to Otabek. “Is jealous of.”

Oh. That’s something that wasn’t grossly apparent from watching any of the ISU broadcasts in the last few years. Viktor’s insane axel was new.

Yuri’s eyes drifted over to Otabek. His cheeks were as crimson as the carpet.

“Beka,” Farida sits at unoccupied piano bench. “Let’s play something four handed for Yuri.”

With a furrowed brow and a twitching upper lip, Otabek looks irritated by the request, but he’s already moving over to the shelf filled with leather bound folios.

“Sonata in D Major.”

Otabek sits near the high octave keys and Farida sits on the opposite near the lower octave keys. Otabek starts. His touch is feather light against the keys.

Farida responds.

Then the dialogue goes back to Otabek. Finally, the two come back together in a furious chorus. Almost as suddenly as it begins, the music stills with either of them hitting a handful of notes before it builds again, over and over again.

As much as Yuri wants to be mesmerized by the display, he cannot let himself be transported like he was earlier. It’s such a weird wrong thing to think about but, how could Otabek not understand adoration? How was it not clear in his family home?

The music crescendos at a furious pace. How could he not realize that?

Was Otabek somehow not conveying…when he looked at him like that.

He balls and un-balls his fist in his slacks trying to maintain composure. But he can tell that he’s growing clammy with sweat and rage, and the music is thunderous now It’s like it’s prompting Yuri to action over and over again. Was he not when they almost kissed after the death spiral? Because that’s what it was, an almost fucking kiss.

Did he not make it abundantly fucking clear when he made him fucking Katsudon piroshky? When he let him spin him around like a woman in pairs? When he dropped everything to spend the summer here when what he needed more than air, or food, or water was the gold at worlds?

The music slows, tapers off. Otabek’s hands leave the keys. He’s still wearing that stupid clover bracelet he’d weaved together earlier despite it looking wilted.  “Do you mind? Staying for dinner Yuri?”

Yuri wants to respond to the other man, but it takes a few failed attempts first. The words keep dying on his tongue before he can choke it out.

 No. Maybe not. Maybe Otabek doesn’t understand…Because it had just taken him until this very moment to put into coherent thoughts and to words this feeling. Somehow, despite the loss at to him at worlds last year, and his awful non-existent sense of humor, and his nasty taste in over sugared coffee, he adored Otabek.

Fuck.

 

Chapter Text

They never had much money before he went to St. Petersburg, and so the black and white television set perched precariously on the kitchen counter was all they had. He has many fond memories of watching cartoons at the table over a soggy bowl of muesli before school.

Yuri assumes that it is because of this television, with it’s large rabbit ear antennae perched on top, that he dreams in black and white.

He finds himself out on the balcony at Otabek’s family home. The stifling heat of the city is lessened here, and the breeze feels cool against his skin. The grand piano is out on the balcony, which should have been the first indicator that, when he rubbed his arms to get rid of the gooseflesh there, the feeling was an illusion.

Yuri can see into the music room from his perch on the piano bench. The lacquer of the seat feels like butter against his fingertips. The candy colored hues of red and pink and gold of the carpet and the wallpaper are in grayscale, and that too should’ve been an indicator.

Sometimes, he notices the shades of gray and comes to the realization that he’s dreaming.  If it’s unpleasant or strange he wills himself awake. Now? He couldn’t do so even if he tried. He feels bolted down to the bench, weighted down at his feet, and oh so ready for whatever is about to happen next.

Otabek is before him, wearing the clothes he’d had on at the Grand Prix banquet last year. Two tone oxfords, the kind with the little leather tassel on the arch of the foot…Tom Ford, “this season’s he might have some promise yet,  Yuri,” he can hear Viktor titter in his ear, and how fucking dare that asshole harass him even in his dreams…

Well fitted slacks…Otabek shed his suit jacket early on in the night. He can remember that the hotel had cranked the heat that night, there was an unprecedented cold snap in Marseilles. His undershirt was ivory, and he’d rolled the sleeves up to his elbow. It’s the same in the dream.

He’s also wearing the suspenders. The kind that buttoned onto the slacks and highlighted his trim waistline.

He looks at his own attire. The best his brain can come up with is something with long sleeves. He’s not the star here, it’s... “Otabek,” The three syllables thick on his tongue like honey.

The other man caresses his face. His palm is heavy on his cheek. His finger’s tilt Yuri’s chin upwards. He’s sitting. Otabek’s standing. It’s a suggestive pose that makes a very real heated feeling crawl across his cheekbones.

Yuri stares at the black, gray, and white knot of the other man’s tie. He knows for a fact that it was a rose colored silk tie with a blue and gunmetal colored medallion pattern.

Yuri leans into the touch and kisses Otabek’s palm to distract himself.  It’s too good a dream to get hung up on the incorrect details, especially when so many were accurate. The bob of Otabek’s throat as the swallows…Yuri rises from the piano bench, entangles his arms around Otabek’s neck. Not to mention, he smells so good just like in real life. Leather, and rosemary and sage.

Otabek has tangled his fingers into his hair and presses his lips to the crown of Yuri’s head. “Yuri,” the other man breaths into his hair.

Yuri can feel his body shift as he rocks back on his heel. He always does that when he’s nervous…It’s his dream, so why the fuck is Otabek nervous? And then-

Otabek’s mouth is on his. 

In real life, Yuri assumes that a kiss from Otabek would start out slow, and become increasingly more harsh…

But that’s not what this is. It’s his impatient, lust addled brain projecting a cheap verion of what he himself would do onto Otabek.

The kiss is rapid and demanding from both of them. Otabek switches the angles on their mouths, and Yuri demands with his tongue. Somehow it gets hotter and more urgent. Otabek tastes like the brandy that was served at the banquet. He snuck several sifters away from a certain finalist who couldn’t be trusted with alcohol that night, but he has no idea if Otabek himself had any that night.

Otabek’s fingers are digging into his hips, then scrambling for purchase on his ass, and then he’s being manhandled and pushed up onto the closed lid of the piano.

They knock the keys as they push and rut against each other. It makes such a cacophonous noise, but he’s grateful. It masks the weak little moaning noises that keep slipping out of his mouth.  

He sucks against Otabek’s neck and marvels at the firm tendons there. He bites at the lobe of Otabek’s ear before lapping at the shell. Otabek’s hands are on his chest, his hips, his ass, and they set his skin ablaze even over his clothes.

They hit more staccato notes as they move against each other. Part of Yuri’s brain says, “unbutton the shirt,” but he can barely manage getting the suspenders pushed down and the shirt raked up. Each accidental note builds upon the urgency between them, and the feeling of Otabek’s skin beneath his hand is too addictive to part from.

“Do you have any idea how long I’ve wanted this?” Yuri asks his partner. But, Otabek’s palming at his dick through his pants, so the words come out all stuttered.

Otabek, true to real life, doesn’t respond right away. With the skill and dexterity that only happens in a dream, Otabek undoes the button on his pants and unzips them.

Otabek’s hand is a scalding and heavy wrought iron on his chest pushing him downward.

“Yeah. I do.”

His feet, and Otabek’s hands mash against the keys. The feeling of Otabek’s mouth against him is all consuming. The sound of the piano is beautiful.


Yuri is used to waking up in a shit mood.

How many mornings has he woken up pissed off about his short program score going into the free skate? They haven’t all been world records. Not by a longshot. What about all the fucking days where Lila wants his ass in the studio by 7? That means at minimum waking up at 5:30 so he can shower, and catch the train, which never puts him in a good mood. How many mornings has he waken up in Kyshu to the sound of, “Ah-Viktor we shouldn’t” and “Ah-Viktor, we should!” How many mornings has he pounded angrily against the wall in response?

How many mornings has he immediately shoved his hands down his pants as soon as he finished pounding on the wall?

Yuri is used to waking up in a shit mood. However, this current feeling of self-loathing is entirely new. He’s willing to admit that he has been working on these syrupy feelings for Otabek for quite some time. However, he’s done an extremely efficient job at keeping his feelings separate from…

Yuri stares up at the dapple textured of white colored ceiling. In the corner of the room, he can see a cobweb blow softly in the breeze that seeps in from the open window.

Fuck.

Without taking his eyes off the cobweb, Yuri peels off the sheet he’d been sleeping with. Like most mornings, it’s too fucking hot…but today the fire blazes from inside and there’s little he can do to self-regulate.

Next, he cants his hips upward and peels away the briefs. The fabric is wet, and his skin is clammy from having dampness against sickly hot flesh. He tosses them to some unknown corner in the room, doesn’t even bother to aim for the hamper.

He’s got it bad.

Yuri bites down on his bottom lip when he finally allows himself some relief. A cursory glance at his phone says it’s 5:40 and Otabek isn’t likely to be up yet.

But, he’s got it bad and he’s not taking extra chances.

Otabek

He bites down on his lip. He’s done this to himself how many times? Yet it’s never felt quite so raw or urgent. In the past it’s always been boredom, or extra energy to be burned. It’s always something that is and safely detached. Now? He needs ever sloppy pump of the wrist and-

Otabek

Shouldn’t he feel ashamed? He should, but he doesn’t. Can’t hold the idea in his head for a fraction of a second because he’s too busy feeling consumed by his own desire. His toes curl around the discarded top sheet. There’s something torturous and tight building at the base of his spine, and it extends through to his stomach. Makes him arch his back off of the mattress and-

Yuri bites down on his lip even harder lest his name spill out of his lips. But it’s his name, and his name alone that he desecrates because he’s the only one who has ever had the power to make him feel so-

Otabek

Exposed…

Yuri doesn’t move despite the disgusting state that he’s in.

He goes back to staring at the cobweb in the corner as if the way that it bows and sway in the breeze is the most interesting thing in the world.

His alarm goes off. He hits snooze. If he gets up, fully cleans himself off, it means that he did it. 

His alarm goes off. He hits snooze again. If he gets up, and joins Otabek at breakfast, it means that it was real.


It’s fifth day of July, and the high of the day is supposed to top out at an abnormally hot 31 degrees today…So says his phone when he checks the weather, after he’s scrolled through Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat and has nothing left to justify looking at before he gets dressed.

Nevertheless he comes to breakfast in sweats that he purposefully makes sure are his pulled up past his bellybutton. He also wears oversized sweatshirt that he’s fairly certain might be Viktor’s. He’s not sure where else he would’ve gotten a shirt this long in the torso.

Despite the fact that he 1. Has pants on, and 2. Has pants that belong to him on, Otabek still looks him up, down, and up again slowly.

Asshole.

Otabek raises an eyebrow.

It’s like his face is fucking tattooed with, “I just jerked off thinking about you,” and he’s never wanted to get out of the apartment this quickly before.

Otabek rocks up on the balls of his feet slightly, and then lowers himself back down quickly. There’s something like a question in his movements. Yuri has no fucking patience for any of it because somehow, he couldn’t exactly explain how, was all of this was the other man’s fault.

Yuri doesn’t consider the mug of coffee in Otabek’s hands. He moves towards the cabinet, purposefully grabs a juice glass, and pours what’s left in the coffee pot into it.

At this, Otabek looks unfazed. Good. He can keep his shitty over-sweetened coffee.

Except, it’s way too fucking hot and he almost drops the container. “Fuck, fuck fuck,” Yuri swears before slamming the juice glass on to the counter.

 “Are you ill?”

Yuri doesn’t respond. He feels the seconds drag on between them, which is good. Normal even. Otabek and Yuri don’t talk much in the mornings, and therefore everything was normal.

“Central Mosque today? It’s a little further, but it’s time to start serious endurance training…Not to mention it’s…” Otabek pauses again and gets that pensive look in his eyes. The one where his eyes squint at the corner and his entire expression is held captive.

Now it’s Yuri’s turn to raise an eyebrow at the other man. Otabek might say that many words to him between six and ten A.M. but never all at once. Yes, they had talked about increasing their distances. Yes, it was late enough in the summer that it was time to get serious.  But this was very, very not normal.

 “I’m not going this morning.”

Otabek purses his lips together. He’s thinking about what to say next, and Yuri refuses to give him the chance. He turns to the cabinet, grabs an energy bar, and stomps out of the kitchen.

Yuri races to finish dressing and get out the door before Otabek can question him further.


 

Yuri sits in the President’s park for hours. Not like, “I have a lot of shit on my mind so it feels like hours,” but actual literal hours. He cancels with Asia because, who cares? He’s not going to get anything useful accomplished anyway. Then tucks himself away in a little alcove of trees, just on the chance that Otabek takes their usual route.

Yuri considers a plane ticket back to St. Petersburg. Yakov would probably be thrilled. Not to mention, it would be so easy to pretend that none of it ever happened.

After about an hour of sitting there. His phone rings. Facetime call, and fuck Pork Cutlet for having some kind of gross Pork Cutlet sixth sense.

Yuri was of two minds as he stared at Yuri’s contact image, a hastily snapped photo of katsudon. “Don’t answer the phone. You’re in a shitty mood and you’re only going to yell at Katsudon.” To that general statement, the first voice said, “He doesn’t deserve that.” And the second, louder voice said, “Yes, he fucking does deserve it because him and Viktor are awful.”

He answers the call. As soon as his fingertip retracts from the screen he can feel a small bud of panic blossom in his chest. How is he going to greet Yuuri? An insult would imply things are normal. Calling him by his name would be appropriate too, because they are kind of, sort of, almost friends now. One, slight-tiny-miniscule problem. He’s afraid that his voice might crack because honestly? He’s experienced…guilt, shame, lust, love, anger, joy, sorrow, frustration, happiness, longing, and God only knows how many emotions he’s missing in the past 24 hours.

That’s a lot of emotions for the Ice Tiger of Russia…Possibly enough to make him start sobbing like a little bitch.

“Morning Yurio!” Yuuri chirps before his face fully comes onto the screen. “Viktor took the train to Fukuoka for the day in order to meet with Minami-kun’s coach.”

Yuri opts for a neutral, “Yo,” followed up by a very natural, “I don’t want that lil’ bitch to have the same choreographer as me. Tell him to not.”  He flops back on the grass and holds the phone in the air above his face.

“What did you want to talk about Yurio?”

Yuri can feel his face twitch with rage. “Why the fuck Viktor thinks he can just choreograph for any hack on ice…”

“I see.”

He could insult Minami and his stupid hair all day, but it gets old after awhile…but it’s not going to get a response from Cutlet so who cares? “How’s Neko? And Momo? And Kinako?” What can he say, he’s a three time world’s finalist and has loves all over the globe at this point.

“Kinako’s somehow getting fatter Yuri. When they’re not eating they’re tormenting Shiro,” he turns the camera away from his face and towards a white miniature poodle that’s clearly resting in his lap. “And Kuro,” he turns to the black poodle who is at his feet on the floor, “relentlessly.”

“Good.” Those little fucking dogs follow too closely. Yuri’s always afraid he’s going to step on one or the other. Not to mention, they are spoiled.

“What’s Mari making for dinner tonight?”

“Tetsunabe gyoza or croquette to start off. Miso soup, and a squid salad with spicy dressing next. Then, mentaiko with pasta, or chargrilled tripe with rice and steamed vegetables.”

Yuri can feel the corners of his mouth moisten. “Tripe…” he repeats dreamily.

“Just a second.” Yuri puts the phone down and looks at the Katsuki’s ceiling for awhile. Yuri takes the time to wipe the drool away from the corner of his mouth. “I had to put Shiro down. What have you had lately that is good?”

“Shelpek,” he says as his stomach starts to protest in his decision to have a sparse breakfast. “It’s flatbread…Kuyrdak, which is like organ meat fried with onions and peppers. It’s so rich Yuuri. Yakov would die if he knew how much I’ve had it.”

Yuuri stifles a laugh. “Tripe, offal, you have quite the pallet Yuri.”

Yuri rolls his eyes. “Not everyone trains in America and gets their pallet ruined.” He was assigned Skate America last season and…What the hell? Barbecue? Expensive cuts of meat ruined by overly sweet sauce. Whatever the hell that is that they call pizza? He’s been to Florence, Milan, and Venice, and no fucking thank you to whatever it was he had in Chicago.

“Hm…You’re just jealous that it’s carnival season. I can have all the takoyaki I want.”

Yuri’s jaw goes slack and his eyes go wide, because yes he is….And he’s reached his absolute emotional limit so he cannot hide the sheer jealousy either. “With mayonnaise and roe?”

“Usually mayonnaise and matcha and bonito flakes.”

They go back and forth like that for awhile. Yuuri describes in painful detail the last blue soda-pop ice cream he had when they took the train to Arashiyama, and Yuri almost loses it. The soda-pop ice cream is Japan’s greatest invention, and it’s so cruel that they keep it all for themselves.

Yuri tells him about his latest creation, the Kazy piroshky. Braised horse meat…In a bun!!!

The conversation between them slows after awhile. Yuri’s rolled over on to his stomach so he’s staring down at Yuuri who has got his phone propped up on the table, so he sits at a distance.

“Ah, Yuri,” he says after a few moments of silence. “Kazakhstan is so far away, but Viktor and I want you to have the best time there.”

Yuri rolls his eyes. Classic Katsudon vauging.

Katsudon furrows his brows and removes his glasses. It’s something he does outside of skating so he doesn’t have to look the other person directly in the eye. Yuuri’s pretty much told him this when he was drunk one night, and it was okay because he, “wasn’t such a coward anymore,” and “only really needed to do it when he was discussing something deeply personal.”

“I wasted a lot of time not being direct with Viktor.”

“Neat.”  Oh, so they are doing that today. That thing where Katsudon is infuriating.

“And I would feel upset with him when he wasn’t direct with me, even if I wasn’t being direct with him.”

Yuri yawns loudly. It’s still a better reaction than chucking his phone, which is what he really wants to do.

“When I finally understood that I could hold only myself accountable. Things became easier.”

What exactly did Yuuri expect to accomplish in telling him that used to suck? That was made painfully apparent when they first met at that banquet. More importantly, where did Yuuri get off in thinking that any of this applied to him, or was helpful in anyway?

“That’s all I guess.”

“Fantastic,” Yuri deadpans. His finger hovers over the red phone icon.  

“One last thing,” Yuuri puts his glasses back on, and his expression brightens. “Vitya and I love you!”

At that, Yuri does throw his phone. Assholes.

Yuri considers a plane ticket back to St. Petersburg. Yakov would probably be thrilled. Not to mention, it would be so easy to pretend that none of it ever happened.

But he can’t get stupid Katsudon’s stupid voice out of his head, “I wasted a lot of time.”

Skimming through the prices and departure times for flights out of Almatay makes him feel queasy in a way that leaving Japan has never made him feel, even when he did so in shame after Hot Springs on Ice.

He switches over to his calendar app. He has three, three and a half weeks tops before he has to go back. Twenty one or so days before he’s swept up into the intensity of another season. Twenty one days before he’s four on-ice sessions and two off-ice sessions a day. Twenty one days before his third season. Twenty one days before the need to win gold at the GPF and Worlds buries him alive.  

He’s wasted a lot of time.


 

Chapter Text

Otabek runs to the mosque as planned.

Otabek does an off ice session in the gym as planned.

After that, Otabek has no plans until one; when he’s supposed to go to the rink with Anton.  Meeting Yuri there is implied. It’s his rink time too. it’s 9:00 AM, and Otabek finds it difficult to be purposeful in his behavior.

Otabek waters his plants. The succulents on the bookshelf. The rosemary in the kitchen. The rosemary in the windowsill. The sage and the mint, and the lemon balm out on the balcony.

When that is finished, and he doesn’t still know what to do to make himself useful, he reaches for his books.

He needs to finish The Thorn Birds. He only has a chapter or so left. He thumbs to the marked page at the end of the book. He skims down the page until he finds the passage he’d left off at. “Each of us has something within us which won't be denied, even if it makes us scream aloud to die. We are what we are, that's all. Like the old Celtic legend of the bird with the thorn in its breast, singing its heart out and dying. Because it has to, its self-knowledge can't affect or change the outcome, can it? All we can do is suffer the pain, and tell ourselves it was well worth it.” 

The introduction had a similar passage explaining the legend of the Thorn Bird. He’d likened the metaphor to skating, but now that he’s read most of the novel it’s hard to disentangle the passage from his own thoughts of…

Or, perhaps something familiar would be better. He won’t have to think much about something that he has read before.

He sits down on the floor next to the bookshelf and pulls his well-worn copy of Anna Karenina.

“Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?” Otabek is unsure. It’s something he’d very much so like the answer to.

 He flips forward a few pages. Those parts of the novel aren’t important. His eyes rest on a new page. “Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.” Maybe not…He flips a few dozen more pages. It’s an 800 page novel that he’s read cover to cover five times before. He’s allowed to do that. “Love. The reason I dislike that word is that it means too much for me, far more than you can understand.”

No, never mind that one. He just finished a re-read. It will be more meaningful if he returns to it in a few months and looks upon it with fresh eyes then.

He grabs for his long abandoned copy of Lolita. He’d started a reread right before Worlds at the airport, but abandoned the endeavor when his body decided that it actually was capable of sleeping on a plane. He turns to the dog eared page and reads, “All at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other.” Of course he’d stopped at that part. It makes him uncomfortable. “Hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other's soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found an opportunity to do so.”

Of course. Of course…

He closes the paperback copy and places it back on the shelf next to the other Nabokov works he owns, in between Ada or Ardor and Pale Fire.

“I had assumed this would happen,” he says firmly to the planter filled with hens and chicks on the bookshelf. It keeps secrets efficiently.

Otabek’s phone chirps from somewhere else in the room. His eyes drift from the space between his legs littered with books, to the coffee table, to the couch…He locates it behind him, on the end table behind the lamp.

“ана” blinks across the screen. “I’ve recorded the piece. I will email it to you.”  Under normal circumstances, he would deal with these excess emotions through skating. He would skate and skate and skate until his body begged him to stop. It’s still public skate hours at the rink…He debates for a moment if he’s anxious enough to pay the three thousand tenge to skate alongside school children, their exasperated parents, and amateurs…He wants the strange tingle-itch that originates from his rib cage, spreads out through his body, and lurks just beneath his skin to dissipate. But he doesn’t exactly see how skating would solve that at this point in time. “May I come pick it up on flash drive?”  He texts back. It’s a strange request. His routine is Sundays without fail…unless if something weighs heavy on his mind and he needs to play the piano. He’s unsure if playing right now would ease his mind. His free skate piece has many possible interpretations. Hell, he’d asked mother about it under the premise of his sense of patriotism and affection for the people of Kazakhstan, but he’s never played the piece himself without thinking of- His mother’s house is a thirty minute ride away. Forty minutes if he takes the scenic route and skips the bypass.  Going for a ride is the only thing he can think that might alleviate…He needs to clear his head before he hits the rink.  

“It’s rare to see you mid-week,” mother says, and he knows that it’s a question. She hands him a flash drive without further comment. 

“I’d like to go sit by the date tree until practice. If that is alright.”

Mother’s expression softens. That isn’t to say that it was hardened before. Simply, she relaxed her face and the lines in her forehead, the creases near her lips were lessened. It’s strange…Otabek knows that his mother is young. He was always reminded of this when he overheard adults talk at parties and galas.

Perhaps he had forgotten that when he heard this talk, it was…thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years ago? Still, there are a few grays in her widow’s peak…the one small patch of hair that rarely if ever gets covered completely by her scarf.  She doesn’t look old, just not as he remembers her.

He finds it confusing.

“I’ll leave you alone then.”

“I don’t mind.” Which in their own strange and near silent language meant that he was practically begging like an attention starved child for her to come with him.

Otabek has never counted, but there are probably a hundred date trees on the grounds…Apple and pear trees too. They both know with precision which one he’s mentioned. It’s on the near garden, just beyond the rose bush arrangement his mother is so proud of.

Otabek knows that the tree was planted just after his father’s funeral, although he cannot recall the details of the funeral, the planting, or any of the days just before, just after, or in-between. He likens it to going to sleep one night and waking up with a step father the next morning.

He can recall that people said it was a good match. Unlike his father, Yusef was a young man who would not leave his mother broken hearted again…at least not for a number of years.

He can recall his mother waking him from sleep one late summer night to bring him out to the tree, which had grown considerably over a number of years. He can recall her holding him close and saying that he would soon have a baby brother or sister. Looking back, he wonders if she told him this with the intent of making him feel less alone.

No matter how many years pass by, he can remember in vivid detail the afternoon that he read Crime and Punishment from cover to cover in an entire afternoon underneath the tree. Almost as vividly he remembers the afternoon he read The Color Purple under the tree. Which was the same summer he read Death in Venice, and if he’d stopped and paid attention to his literature choices that summer perhaps the subsequent years wouldn’t have been so difficult.

But, he can’t recall his own father’s funeral, nor can he recall when the tree first bore fruit nearly a decade after they’d planted it. He’d been living in Canada, but came home for Eid Al-Fitr.  Can recall that he really didn’t observe that year, nor did he feel particularly guilty about his choice. He asked when the tree had started bearing fruit.

His mother said she couldn’t remember, at least one or two seasons already.

They sit together on the long marble bench out under the tree without speaking. He doesn’t feel the need. It could be the present, or a year ago, or ten years ago.

The only difference between now, and the past was the shining, almost grotesque piece of gold that was embedded into the bark of the tree. In a fit of foolish emotion and passion after the Grand Prix final two years ago, he nailed his first four continents gold to the tree. Two years since, and the bark had begun to swallow up the edges.

It was incredibly stupid way to vent his frustrations at the time. Now? He had two more Four Continents golds…Along with it a bronze, a silver, and a gold from Worlds. A silver from last year’s Grand Prix final, because Yuri had deserved the gold last year. Not to mention his silver from PyeongCheng…His free skate score broke the previous Olympic record.

The fact of the matter is, he fell in love with Yuri when he saw his Agape program in Barcelona…He didn’t come to accept it until…Well, it was hard to accept what grew exponentially with the passage of time, so it was continually ongoing process. Each medal certainly made it easier.

 Having tangible proof that he was, even if just for brief flashes of time the best in the world, made him more open to the idea that as his father’s oldest and only son, it’s unlikely that he’ll carry on the Altin name.  The medals make it easier for him to believe that he’s chasing after them for the glory of his homeland, and not for the respect of another man.

“Is this about Yuri?” As much as the medals might help make the weight of being Kazakstan’s hero more bearable, they did not reduce the weight of his mother’s gaze. Some gazes; such as Yuri’s, bore precision holes into one’s soul and extracted the information. Hers entraps completely so that nothing is free from her scrutiny. The discomfort of being smothered forces the subject to truthfulness.

Up until very, very recently, Otabek never considered whether or not Yuri might return his feelings.

Whatever he’d wrestled with over the past year and a half, he’d always considered himself the bigger and more impassable obstacle.  

Now?

He accepts his love for Yuri openly. Whatever it is that Yuri has realized, he himself has had more time to accept.

“Yes,” he responds after quite some time.

It doesn’t matter. It’s strange that something important to him isn’t time stamped and set to expire in his mid to late twenties. He’ll give Yuri all the time that he needs in order to understand what it is that he feels.

For once, they have all the time in the world.

“I see.” She inches her long elegant arm towards him. She interlaces their fingers together, and squeezes his hand tightly in hers. Her hands are cold, and the angular setting on her wedding ring digs into his skin.

Still, it’s the most comforting thing in the world to Otabek.

They don’t speak another word between them until he leaves just after noon.


The rink is absolutely silent. To the point that hearing the sound of their blades shift and glide over ice is deafening. It echoes off the rink walls and back into his ears scrambling his brains up like fried rice topping.

Anton, who is usually soft spoken is dead silent today. Lila, who has never had a single issue with bitching at him on ice or off, remains quiet too. She simply watches over the long crooked bridge of her nose, and that is somehow infinitely worse than being criticized.

It’s silent, but not in the way it usually is between them on ice. On a normal day the silence is meaningful. They don’t want to distract one another. Not to mention, the silence is also comfortable. Neither one is the kind of person who sees value in making noise simply for the sake of making noise.

Today on the other hand…

The tension hangs between them like a thick black-gray Moscow fog in the winter.

Don’t get him wrong, he really wants to say something. It’s just simply not going to happen any time soon. It’s bad enough that Lila and Anton have to witness…whatever the fuck this is.

He can’t land goddamn thing. It’s not just Viktor’s impossible axel today. No, he’s fucked up plenty of regular axels. Quads? Not. Fucking. Happening. Today. Hell, he’s flubbing triples making them into doubles, and he hasn’t had to do that consistently in years.

Yuri looks at the timer on his phone. He has but a few more minutes left on break, while Otabek’s just leaving the rink to take his own.

Usually their breaks are more coordinated…He uses the time to check Tumblr and show Otabek whatever it is that’s funny on the internet that day.

Today? Anton’s got Otabek doing cannonball spins…must be related to the free skate…over and over and over again. Despite the repetition, and Otabek’s obsessive attention to detail, he still isn’t getting his free leg positioned quite right in reference to his dominant leg.  He hasn’t straight up fallen out of the spin yet, but they’re really sloppy.

“Your performance at pointe yesterday was subpar, Yuri.” Lila comments as she beckons him over to begin stretching out.

Yuri goes full ragdoll on her as she takes his right arm in her hands and extends it outward towards his leg.  He droops against her form with almost his full weight. He’s learned that there are other ways to make Lila suffer other than cursing her name to filth…And if he’s having a bad day, she’s not getting off easy.

“Yuri, please!”

It earns him a whack on the shoulder, but her tone isn’t annoyed. It’s more tired and exasperated than anything else.

“Ah, fine baba.” He snaps to attention and actually gets into the stretching position. He wasn’t expecting any shred of emotion other than bitchy.

“Anyway, your pointe. Dismal. The worst I’ve seen from you since I started working with you actually.” Ah, there it is. He knew she couldn’t keep from bitching.

He tunes her out for a moment as she criticizes his shameful under rotated double triple monstrosities. Then, he tunes back in when he can tell she’s closing her monologue. “At present you would lose presentation points. You’re switching over to step sequences and spins until you remind me why I made the mistake of putting my reputation on the line for you.”

This was the main difference between Yakov and Lila. If Yakov were here and calling the shots exclusively, he’d double down and make him do more jumps, specifically quads. Lila’s a little bit softer…probably sick of watching him fall on his ass over and over again.

He and Otabek pass one another as he’s leaving the ice for break and Yuri’s getting on.

Talk about fucking awkward, and yeah sure he purposefully contributes to it by refusing to make fucking eye contact and staring very fucking intently at the hockey score board. So fucking what? Otabek wasn’t helping the situation either.

His blades have barely hit the ice when Otabek finally breaks the fucking silence between them, “Yuri, your gloves.”

Yuri looks down at his very naked and very ungloved hands. That’s what he’s broken the silence for? His gloves? His gloves? So fucking what, he doesn’t give a shit about his gloves.

Yuri clenches his teeth and pushes off hard, forcing himself towards the middle of the rink with the same kind of determination he gets just before a competition. But now, it’s for the boring shit. His mind goes on autopilot as he mentally guts the routine so it’s nothing but step and spin…Remind him again, why would anyone give a fuck about ice dancing?

He skates aggressive Choctaws in order to build up speed, then goes into the laying back Ina Bauer that starts off his short program. A diagonal, and then a counter, and then the axel off the back would go here if Lila didn’t think he was pathetic.

The axel off the back would go there out of spite if he didn’t feel in the bottom of his gut that he’d make a disaster of it.

This hasn’t happened in awhile…It feels like cement brick are attached to his skates. His feet wouldn’t leave the ground even if he tried.

Then, the camel spin. This alone will get Lila to shut up about pointe yesterday, which he would’ve taken more seriously if he hadn’t gotten involved in a really heated argument with some JJ girls that morning on Twitter.

He keeps his leg perfectly parallel to the ground for the duration of the spin, each spin uniform and fluid.

Then the combination would go here, but since it’s not...

Then that means it’s time for the Bielman already.

He does another diagonal...and catches Otabek’s gaze in the process. He’s leaning against the rink railing. There’s no mistaking it. He’s watching Yuri. His mouth pulls lazily at the nozzle on his water bottle. There’s nothing particularly sexy, or intense or even memorable about the moment.

Forgettable even.

Yet, it serves as just the touch of distraction he needed to really just fuck everything over all to hell.

He goes into the doughnut spin to start the Bielman, then he shifts, rotates, and moves his free leg up..and…”Fuck,” he swears under his breath. There’s a slight sting on his hand.  

Must’ve caught the pick.

Doesn’t matter, the boot goes over his head.

“Yuri!?” What does that hag want? Is he not doing exactly as she asked?

He goes down into the final element, a cantilever. He can’t see his own body to know for sure if the form is perfect, but it certainly feels that way. Like it might be his best of the season so far. That’s when he notices the crimson droplets across the ice. Then, he looks over at his hand. Oh. Fantastic.

Apparently he didn’t just catch the pick because his whole hand is red.

This isn’t the first time Yuri’s had to work around an injury. He broke his toe when he was in juniors within the first few weeks of ballet lessons. Then, sprained his ankle pretty badly after ballet practice a couple of years ago because he had these bitchin snow white platform sneakers…He was home for Christmas, and that kind of footwear meshes well with icy Moscow sidewalks. Last summer, his biggest souvenir from Japan was an appendectomy.

He’s been lucky so far that most of these incidents have happened outside of the rink.

He’s cut himself doing the Bielman before. Most people that do it have. He’s just never quite done it so fucking superbly before. The cut goes from the fleshy webbed part between his thumb and index finger mid way down his palm.

 Whether he’s high on adrenaline and shock, or he’s just tired out from this morning, he can’t tell. He lets Lila manipulate his body as he sees fit. She stuffs his hands full of towels and then makes him hold his arm high above his head. It feels like she’s going to squeeze his fucking hand off.

The rest is a bit of a blur.

Of course he starts growling at her, “Don’t waste your time with an ambulance.” Adrenaline only gets him so far, before his body because acutely aware that there’s a giant fucking gash on his hand.

“Yuri,” her tone is exasperated. Like he’s late for pointe or better yet forgotten his shoes.  “You need stitches.”

“It’s not fatal.”

Otabek goes white as a sheet through the whole ordeal.

At some point Lila barks at Otabek to get more towels. He does, and he looks like he’s going to pass out whenever Lila discards the bloodied ones onto the floor and presses the fresh ones into his palm.

He remembers more or less rambling to the paramedic on the ride over to the ER. She kept asking him banal questions, and he keeps answering back. He tells her that he’s pretty sure if he’d been alone he would’ve just called a cab. It’s very clear that the wound wasn’t anywhere near serious, so why waste resources.  

He also tells her that he’s that certain kind of Moscow mentality that says if you want something done, the publicly funded option will disappoint. Despite the horde of designer shoes in his closet, he’s still got it.

In a perfect world she would’ve just quit talking, but by that point, Yuri’s certain she’s just asking to keep him from passing out. He does feel quite dizzy. She changes the subject to his designer shoes, which makes the conversation almost bearable.

He’s in and out of the emergency room in forty-five minutes. He’s got ten stitches and fresh bandages that are to be removed in no less than 24 hours.  

Needless to say practice is cancelled for the rest of the day.


 

Otabek still has that pale, pass out at a moment’s notice kind of look, even when they get back to the apartment.

They still haven’t really spoken.  

They still haven’t really spoken, but it’s somehow almost returned to normal between them. Yuri has showered…with his hand sticking outside of the shower curtain because he can’t get it wet. Otabek has showered too. He’s wearing those teal team Kazhakstan sweat pants with a gray long underwear shirt.

Yuri doesn’t think that his hair looks cute when it’s freshly washed, uncombed, and slightly disheveled.  

It could be like any other night he’s spent in Kazhakstan. Otabek stands at the counter near the stove. He’s got a small mountain of chopped onion, eggplants and summer squash. Currently, he’s wrestling with the shrink wrap packaging on a block of tofu.

Yuri’s seated on the opposite counter, next to the fridge watching Otabek’s every move.

His gaze shifts lazily back and forth. First the bandages wrapped across his palm, between his thumb and forefinger, and then around his wrist to prevent it from moving. Then, to Otabek. By now he’s gotten the package open. One portion rests on the food scale as he digs at the packaging to get more from the container.

Yuri could say a lot of things right now, but he opts to say what seems to be the most important and the most pressing. “I can’t believe I fucked up the Bielman soooooo badly.” He leans back and his head makes a thunking noise against the cabinet.

Like any other night in Almaty.

At that Otabek makes a quick, sharp exhaling noise. If he hadn’t been staying here over a month he would’ve missed it.

With a month’s worth of experience catches the sound and, he knows that If they’d been facing one another, Yuri is almost certain he would’ve been able to see Otabek’s nostril’s flare. Just a little.

Otabek turns to him, looks at him directly for the first time since that morning-

All of that was only just this morning, and yet it somehow feels like lifetimes ago.

His expression isn’t any more heavy or foreboding than normal. Slightly furrowed brow, firmly set jaw line, his hands rigidly clasped to his sides. He almost looks…softer yet the tone of his expression is obviously somehow more pained.

“You were having difficulty with jumps too. It’s not that surprising.”

At that statement Yuri almost wants to smack. It’s loaded on both ends in a way that only Otabek can play with words and tone. Dissection mode: “you were having difficulty with jumps too,” meaning, “This behavior is not normal. Why?”

However, there’s the second statement. “It’s not that surprising.” Which is Ota-speak for, “I’m giving you an out of this conversation if you’d like.”

Yuri wants the out. He’s just not going to take it. He’s psyched himself up all day for the moment he’d finally be alone with Otabek. Nothing, not even a sliced open hand is going to stop him.

“Otabek,” by some miracle the other man’s name rolls off his tongue without his voice cracking. “Want to hear something?”

Otabek nods.

The silence between them grows deafening again. Yuri can hear the sound of the wall clock that hangs over the archway from the kitchen to the living room thunder away in his ears. That and of course the sound of his own heart beating through his chest.

“Come here,” because as it stands the other man is too far away…Yuri would never openly admit it, but he is aware that to a certain degree he is cocky, arrogant, brash, over-confident, et cetera, et cetera. Most athletes are, and most athletes have to be to handle the pressure.

Despite this, he feels like he might have a pretty good shot.

Like, at least sixty-forty.

He watches Otabek cross the kitchen floor, white socks against custard yellow tiles. It feels like it takes centuries.

If Yuri were a shameless person, he’d wrap his arms around Otabek’s neck, or maybe even his legs around his middle. He’s close enough, he could do so with ease.

Instead, he places his non-bandaged palm flat against his own thighs and tries to desperately wipe away the sweat that’s pooling there. He licks his lips because they’re really fucking dry and he’s suddenly very subconscious. He catches his bottom lip with his teeth for a moment, when he remembered that is overconfidence stems from skating and skating alone. It doesn’t just magically transfer over to other domains.

Mentally he flip flops back and forth between words, kiss words, kiss, words. Ideally, he could telepathically transfer all of these disorganized trash feelings into Otabek’s brain while they kissed.

“So, get this.” he crosses his arm across his chest and scowls. Maybe it’s just best to make sure he’s not landing in the 40% before he mashes his lips to his closest friend’s face and hopes for the best. “Today, after practice…After Lila and Anton left and we were all alone, I’d planned to tell you that I liked you.”

He feels out of breath like he just finished the short program and the free skate routine back to back. His ears are ringing, and has no idea why.

Otabek’s eyebrows threaten to migrate into his hairline, but he still manages to play it cool somehow. “Is that so?” He’s wearing the half smile, that makes him melt. Yuri feels like that’s reserved only for when things are going very well.

Can he assume that this is going well?

This is good right? Why won’t his stupid heart stop beating so fast?

“Yeah. It was gonna be pretty romantic. Like in one of your girlie books, but not like TOO over the top. I was gonna ask you to skate with me. Have you do the death spiral with me…then kiss you and see how it went.”

“What’ll you do instead?” If he had half a brain left, he’d be aware that Otabek had gotten closer. If he’d had any sense left at all, he would’ve realized that there was a hand on his knee. Otabek’s thumb was rubbing whisper soft circles into the side of it.

As it stands, he can’t stop focusing on the scalding red hot blush that stings from his forehead to his collarbone.

At the same time, Yuri can tell when he’s being fucked with. This is no different then being goaded into that weird sense of competitive, rage, jealousy, frustration that happens right before he gets on ice. “Tell you I like you in the kitchen, in between bitching and moaning about how I cut my hand to ribbons.”

Fuck it.

He uncrosses his arms and drapes them over Otabek’s shoulders, pulling him closer so that he’s leaning over the counter into Yuri’s chest.

For what might be the first time, the other man doesn’t feel tense under Yuri’s touch.

Yuri tries not to think about how his injured hand sticks out awkwardly over Otabek’s shoulders like a puffy white grocery shopping bag. He tries not to think about the deep steady throb that starts in his palm, but the pain blossoms deeper within his hand.

Their lips meet in the same kind of fast-forward slow motion feeling that before has only happened to him on the ice. Yuri becomes hyperaware of the almost altered reality of the moment. Time slows down, his heartbeat speeds up, the pain in his hand is reduced.  

Yuri barely remembers to close his eyes while it’s happening. Only remembers because if movies and television have taught him anything, it’s what you’re supposed to do.

He’s grateful he does remember. Instead of focusing on thinking about whether or not he looks dumb, or if it’s good, or awful for Otabek his senses are heightened and he’s forced to stay into the present.

  Otabek smells like herbs and shaving cream. Each night he clings to Otabek on the back of the bike after practice, so it’s a scent he’s very accustomed to by now. It’s so much more vivid when he’s got the taste of the other man on his mouth.  

His lips are far softer and fuller than any man’s have the right to be…Like velour on a skating costume. He’s fairly certain Otabek’s wearing a bit of the unscented chap stick that he so often keeps in his pockets. Yuri feels an irrational pang of jealousy toward a fucking cosmetic product, but literally anything that’s closer to Otabek than he is right now is going to evoke his ire.

That shirt? Fuck it. Those pants? Fuck it. His own legs that dangle off the counter? Fuck ‘em.

Well that he could do something about. Yuri parts his legs and pulls Otabek closer.

With the he pulled the other man closer, Otabek’s hands wound around him. One hand clasped against his hip, the other splayed out against his back. It pulled him closer. It also kept him in check and reminded him that he had an anchor. As much as he wanted to drown in the other man completely, Otabek’s firm grasp reminded him that although Yuri was in control, the other man would not be passive.

They break finally for air.

 Otabek gives him another quick peck on the mouth, and then another on his jaw. That’s when it finally hits him like a speeding shinkansen roaring through the station. He’s kissing back. Which is, in Yuri’s opinion a small miracle.

 “Other than you cutting your hand to ribbons,” Otabek says when they finally part. He leans his forehead against Yuri’s, and Yuri is helpless. He has no choice other than to stare into the other man’s eyes…portals into vast pools of raw and unarticulated emotion. “I like this version better. It’s more natural...Less pressure on me to not drop you.”

Alright, call the ambulance again, because Yuri Plisetsky is dead at the age of 17. All because Otabek is smiling. Not that smirk. Not that weird half smile thing he does. But both sides of the face pinched upward smiling.

Otabek rocks on his heels. This time, not out of nerves, but up into him.

He could very easily become addicted to it.

“Doesn’t make the talking part easier.”

Otabek’s brows knit together for a split second as if he’d missed something. “I assumed that my feelings for you were clear.” Then, Otabek’s mouth is on his again, and it’s nothing but the commanding yet gentle presence that his own personality commands.

Yuri breathes into the kiss this time. It lacks the pressure and the intensity of their other kisses. Instead it’s something more raw and exposed. Otabek moans against him, and that alone could consume him if he were to allow it.

“A little bit more clear now.” Yuri manages to choke out, and it pisses him off. Isn’t it supposed to get easier after you feeling barf all over the place? If so, then why does he still feel like he’s fucking drowning?

Yuri wants to tell him that they have to talk about this stuff. He’s not going to suffer in silence like Yuri and Viktor did. He wants to talk about whether or not they’re boyfriends now. But all he can really concentrate on, other than the man between his legs is the low growl in his stomach and the throb in his hand.

Now that he’s got what he wanted. He has to prioritize. “Now,” Yuri says when Otabek’s lips break from his once more. He wriggles his knee out from between them and places his foot against the other man’s chest, extends his knee ever so slightly.

Seriously, he’s never given anyone a kick delivered with quite so much love and concern.

“That the important shit is out of the way,” He flexes his toes against the other man’s chest. “Go finish dinner. Please. I’m tired, I’m hungry, my hand hurts,” He drops his leg and deflates onto the counter. Seriously, he’s on cloud nine right now, but today nearly killed him. “And all I want is to eat dinner, kiss you again, and pass out.”


 

Chapter Text

The world doesn’t begin or end when he and Otabek become a thing.

It does get a big fucking gold plated and Swarovski crystal covered upgrade though.

Like this…

He gets to wake up in Otabek fucking Altin’s bed now.

He passed out here the night he cut his hand. After the stitches, and the emotions, they’d decided that the best way to end the night was with a viewing of Lemonade Joe…A freaking classic that does nothing but remind him of Moscow. He’s pretty sure he didn’t last through the opening credits. He just sort of assumed that the next night, and every subsequent nights he could crash in the other man’s room as well.

Don’t get him wrong, it wasn’t some kind of gripping and romantic scene every morning. Otabek had a king sized bed comically crammed into his apartment’s “master” bedroom. Which is to say after the size of the mattress and minimalist bedframe was accounted for, plus the dresser and the desk, there wasn’t much room for anything else.

Yuri’s been regulated to the side by the window, and he has to shuffle out between the mattress and the wall. Instead, of doing that he usually just sort of steps over top of Otabek and jumps out onto the floor…He has about a 30% success rate in not waking the other man up when he lands on the floor.

They usually sleep far apart from one another on the mattress, bookending each side.

So far, it’s been anything but a warm and sappy, or hot and steamy affair. Their attempts at cuddling usually start off well intentioned, with Yuri hell bent on big-spooning the other man like there was no tomorrow. However, Yuri is a restless sleeper and often jerks, twists, and flails in his sleep. Up until a few years ago, he slept with his mattress on the floor because he fell out of bed so much in the middle of the night.

Otabek prefers to sleep on his back with one arm wrapped around a pillow.

Although their bodies may drift apart throughout the night, their hands find their way back to each other. He’s woken up with his fingers interlaced with Otabek four nights of the five he’s spent in his room. Not that he’s counting or anything.

Yuri squeezes the warm hand in his. The other one, he holds up above his face. He stares at the thick black stitches and watches the ceiling above go blurry under his gaze. They itch like crazy, and the skin looks healed enough he could just pull them out…

“Leave your hand alone,” Otabek orders gruffly. 

Yuri furrows his brow.  “I’m not messing with it.”

“You were thinking about it.”

Yuri looks over at the other man. He’s looking at him through one sleep squinted eye while the other remains closed. His hair sticks out in odd directions from mashing it into the pillow throughout the night.

Other than bed head, Yuri has gathered no evidence of under-eye bags, no eye-crust, no corner of the mouth crust, no angry red lines on the face from sleeping on a wrinkled sheet. Not a single shred of evidence of post sleep grossness in five nights. It was absolutely disgusting how wonderful he could look at the ass crack of dawn.

Yuri brings his palm down to Otabek’s smooth cheek and rubs the coarse end of his stitches against the other man’s skin. “It fucking itches. Otabek.”

“Ah!” which is Ota-speak for, “uncalled for.”

Otabek lets go of his other hand, and reaches for the one with stitches. His lips are against his palm, and Yuri would want to vomit at the saccharine sweetness if the sight didn’t make his heat beat just a little faster.

“Better?”

“No.”

“Maybe this then.” Otabek shifts on the mattress so that he’s on his side, closer to Yuri with his head propped up on his elbow.

For a split second, Yuri considers leaning away from the kiss just to be an asshole. He can’t do it.

Otabek’s mouth is addictive. He’d do anything to get and maintain that contact.

He’s not going to let the other man win though. Yuri laps at Otabek’s lower lip experimentally.

Much like everything else, from the neon pink tiger stripe underwear, to the accidental sleep kicking, the other man accepts him completely and immediately. Otabek does this thing where he starts off softly with shallow, feather light flicks of the tongue.

Yuri falls for it every damn time. He tries to deepen the kiss, gets met with a cool response, and then when Yuri least expects it…It becomes deep and more urgent.  It’s nothing but warm addictive pressure that starts in his mouth and can be felt all the way down to his curled up toes.

“You have morning breath,” Otabek says. It’s a little more throaty and a little more breathless than his usual morning taunts. A jolt of hot white thrill shoots down Yuri’s spine. He lives for that part of Otabek that is needy for him and only him. 

“Would you rather me do it like this then?”

Yuri plants feather light kisses to the tip of Otabek’s nose, his forehead, his cheekbones, and the tip of his chin.

“I’d much rather you brush your teeth,” Otabek quips. The few seconds of chaste kissing have allowed him to calm down and regain composure, and in that moment Yuri realizes he’s made a grave mistake.

Otabek kisses him again. There is no build up this time. Just heat and demanding.

Otabek’s got one leg thrown over his and a hand worked his hand up Yuri’s shirt. Otabek rubs his hand from the peak of Yuri’s hip bone, across the flat of his stomach, and pauses on his chest.

The position gives Yuri the chance to latch onto Otabek’s earlobe. He takes the opportunity to do so, because he’s going to give just as well as he gets. Altin’s not the only suave bastard in this relationship.

“Yuri, can I?” Yuri can feel fingers tugging his shirt up past the small of his back and just over the blades of his shoulders, and oh hell yes. And then-

The sound of electronic chimes fills the room. Otabek’s alarm. Never mind. It’s just an alarm, and Otabek’s still kissing him.

Next, the sound of trickling water. His own alarm. Fuck.

They pull away from one another, agonizing and slow, at the sound of twin alarms. A tension hangs between their bodies. As badly as they both want this, there’s no way either of them will concede morning training. Doing so would suggest that this was somehow more important than the GPF and Worlds.

As grossly into each other they are, Yuri isn’t so naïve.

“We should get ready.” Otabek says firmly. He’s doing that thing where he breathes in through his nose and out through his mouth in an attempt to calm down and get his breath back to normal.       

 “Yeah,” Yuri responds. He just really, really needs a minute because damn. He can’t just throw a switch. He’s stuck with being needy and breathless if just for awhile.

“We’ll go to the mosque this morning?”

“Yeah,” he repeats.

He watches Otabek throw his legs over the side of the bed. His movements aren’t fluid. Just slightly on the wrong side of awkward and unnatural. Yuri watches with transfixed eyes as he rubs at the small of his back with the flat of his palm.

“You look like my dedushka when you do that.” There it is Plisetsky. Make sure the mood is good and dead so you can actually get something done today.

“I need to stretch.”


Things change drastically when Yuri becomes his. Or, was it more appropriate to say, since he became Yuri’s? It feels that way when he considers the way Yuri rolls himself like a burrito in the middle of the night with the sheet, only to kick it off hours later and proclaim that it’s too hot.

It feels as if he has been possessed. His sheets and his nightclothes all smell like the other man now. There’s the subtle scent of the oatmeal soap that he uses, and the citrus scent of his shampoo.

Long golden hairs cling to all of his clothes, even when they haven’t been physical throughout the day. Like a sixth sense, Otabek will stop what he’s doing. His pupils dilate and with a fixed and unmatched precision, he seeks out and plucks the hair from whatever it is he’s got on.

Needless to say it’s an entirely new and completely dehumanizing experience when he’s in the shower, and from between the crack of his ass he extracts a long blond hair. Just how the hell did that get there?

Otabek didn’t expect it all come together nicely with a neat little bow. He didn’t expect to instantly become used to the dip of the mattress fifteen or twenty minutes after he’s brushed his teeth and gotten ready for bed. He didn’t assume that he’d become instantaneously accustomed to having Yuri so near and so accessible. The weight of Yuri’s palm in his own the past few mornings have been overwhelming.

It creates the sense of soft, yet concerning pressure.

It’s not something easily described. He loves Yuri. Yuri, although perhaps not yet with the same intensity, returns those feelings for him. Yuri did not come to this conclusion simply, or quickly, and so he can feel secure in the sincerity of those feelings.

Still, the pressure remains.

“Otaaabek,” Yuri’s voice pulls him from his rapt fascination at finding another strand of blonde hair on his clothes.

The other man calls from his spot on the carpet next to his bookshelf. “Pick something for me.”

“Me? For you?”

“Yeah, everything I’ve looked at this summer from Aisha’s recommendations have been boring. I want something good, and I trust you.”

Otabek feels his heart drop through his stomach. This is far, far too much responsibility.

Otabek joins Yuri at the book shelf.  “I have some novellas. Hemingway, and Kafka. They’re short. Or maybe…” He runs his fingers across the spines of the many titles. “I have some short story collections too. Nabokov…Maybe something more contemporary? Harlan Ellison, or maybe?” His voice trails off.

“It doesn’t have to be short. Just, if you think I’d like it.” Yuri captures him with that green glass stare. The one that makes him feel like he’s standing in front of a stained glass window, and staring into something very important.

Otabek stands again so he can reach the taller segments of the shelf. He steadies himself when he realizes he got up entirely too fast, and all the blood has rushed from his head.

“Hey be careful.”

He waves his hand dismissively. It’s a silly statement coming from the man who eats his ice cream too quickly, falls over when he aggressively stomps around trying to get rid of pins and needles, and deals with morning soreness by slapping his joints. Like that does something.

When the dizzy ache feeling fades, pulls a blue bound paperback from the shelf. “Try this.”

Yuri scrutinizes the bright red and blue colored cover of Catch-22. “Is it mushy?” He asks as his fingers close around the book. “May or may not have read a few pages of that Thorn Birds crap.”

The second dog eared page that appeared behind his own place in the book indicated that, “a bit,” was about 150 pages. Otabek admired his tenacity.

“It’s funny, while at the same time…horrific. If you’d asked me to recommend a favorite of my own, I would’ve chosen something else.”

“Fuckin Tolstoy,” Yuri snorts.

Otabek nods. “Based on your own personal tastes…You might not hate this.”

“Gee, thanks.”  Yuri slinks back to the couch by pushing off against the carpet and sliding across the floor.

Of all the people in his life that might’ve asked him for a book recommendation, he considered Yuri to be among the least likely candidates. It only reaffirms that things have changed.

Otabek can feel his lips pinch together involuntarily. “I hope you like it.”


To his complete and utter shock, the world does not begin anew, nor does it end when he kisses Otabek and Otabek kisses him back.

It’s not without a few small changes however.

Almaty becomes a little noisier to him.

The street food vendor strikes up a chat about his children. He and his wife own not only the stand, but the dry cleaners down the street. Yuri didn’t know that. He’d been taking his laundry there for weeks now.

The little boy goes to school at the academy near the bus transfer station. His favorite subject is gym, but he hopes that his son will someday excel in mathematics. His daughter, he reveals, is a big fan. He worries about the cost of tuition at some of the American schools to which she’s applying for college. He himself, did not mind watching hockey during the winter Olympics, despite the fact that the Kazakh team didn’t qualify in PyeongCheng.

Yuri puts up with idle chatter, because the guy still has the courtesy to cook what might be the best damn kebab in the city while he talks.

There are two old men who live next door to one another on the ground floor and do nothing but sit on their porch and play backgammon all day. When they call him over to chat, he keeps it simple. They ask him what he thinks of their next move, and Yuri always huffs, “I don’t know how to play that,” before he turs on his heel and makes his climb up the stairwell. 

Through his gradual accepting of the other man, his perception of Almaty eventually becomes larger than Otabek, Otabek’s coach, the rink, and the park. He goes to the library now, usually right after he takes his things to the dry cleaners because they’re on the same street. He rarely gets anything for himself. He typically just returns whatever it is that Otabek has borrowed.

The librarian looks down at him over her half-moon glasses. Seriously, they’re the kind that he thought librarians only wore in the movies and never in real life.  The librarian asks him, “His copy of White Teeth is overdue. Shall I renew it?”

He does by some miracle manage to bite back the undignified and startled screech like noise that welled up in his throat and threatened to spill out. He nods “yes” in simple response. He can count on one hand the number of times they’ve actually come in here together. Her attention to detail is uncalled for.

The world doesn’t begin or end when he and Otabek kiss. It’s not like he throws himself blindly, while heartedly, and detrimentally into the relationship like Georgi. It’s not like sees the world anew through love sick googles like Viktor did. He’s not able to overcome fundamental personality flaws in the heat of the moment like Yuuri did. For all of that, he is grateful.

He continues to leave outrageous tips for the barista at the café down the block which they frequent.  The menu has a single iced drink, “iced coffee,” with the exotic options of milk, sugar, or both. It doesn’t fucking stop Otabek from rattling off his order unapologetically like he’s at a Starbucks in LAX instead of a small coffee and hookah shop that serves in no particular order: French press, iced coffee, espresso, green tea, chai, Darjeeling, Earl Gray, and cake. That’s it. That’s the whole damn menu.

It’s obscene. Despite the fact that the barista knows them, and knows his order exactly, it’s always: dramatic sunglasses removal, pause to look at the menu, “Um would you mind.” Like he’s almost sorry for his obscene behavior, “Making me an iced cinnamon latte. Could you put soy milk in that, an extra shot of espresso, and.” This is where Otabek gets the gall to become frustrated at his own behavior. He makes some kind of nebulous hand waving movement across the counter “Could you do a sixty forty split on sugar and artificial sweetener? I really hate the taste, but-“

“His prissy ass can’t have 400 calories of sugar,” Yuri finishes as he shoves a few hundred tenge in the tip jar. Otabek is super fucking lucky that he’s nice, and smart, and insanely hot. Otherwise, there’s no way that Yuri would deal with this kind of high maintenance Viktor Nikiforov-esque kind of bullshit.

Yuri stares at the single piece of cardstock mounted on an easel that acts as a menu. Darjeeling…Matcha…Chai…all of them would be good really. “I’d like a green tea please,” he orders finally. Because really, the only thing that is better than a good cup of green tea is green tea ice cream, or green tea shaved ice, or green tea Oreos, or green tea truffles.

“I could make that into an iced drink for you. If you want,” the barista supplies.

Maybe it’s obvious that they’ve both come from an intense off ice session at the park, and they’re hot. Maybe she’s just being nice.

“I can make it into latte,” she chirps. It’s almost too friendly, even though they see each other at least every other day. “Like his. No problem.”

“Okay,” he resigns. A good green tea latte is comparable to the joy and the wonder that is green tea ice cream. “With soymilk,” he says his voice just barely above a whisper. “And not too much sugar.”  On instinct he crams another bill into the tip jar.

They settle into their usual spot by the window. Otabek reads, while Yuri slogs through his chemistry problems. His last practice set was dismal, and so he’s set the modest goal of raising his score from a 40% on the last one to a solid 50%, still failing and still sucking.

“Thanks,” they both murmur in unison when the barista walks back to the table to give them their drinks.

“Not a problem,” she chirps. “Oh, before I forget! Since you come in so often.  We have an open poetry night on Wednesdays, and we’ve been super dead lately. Would you maybe, please consider stopping by then?”

The world didn’t end when he got together with Otabek, but he’s found an increasing pressure to try. Like, remember to brush his teeth before bed, floss, clean socks…every day.

It’s definitely not his kind of thing. But it sounds like it could be Otabek’s kind of thing.  Otabek doesn’t touch a work of fiction unless it’s critically certified by the Boring Literature Professor’s union.

Plus, doesn’t he need to be like…a good boyfriend now? Sure, they spend a shit ton of time together…The bulk of it is training. Shouldn’t he take him on dates? Not like overly cutesy, super obnoxious dates. Stuff Otabek would actually wanna do.

“Yeah, we could do that! Otabek likes stuffy literary stuff!”

Yuri beams. He can feel the “good boyfriend” points wash over him. 

Yuri’s attention shifts to the drinks. He snaps a few photos and then scrolls through page after page of filters.

“Can I post this?”

“Do what you want.”

“Can I tag you?”

“Do what you want.” Otabek repeats.

“No seriously.” Yuri nudges the other man’s shin with his foot gently. “Now that we’re,” Yuri looks shiftily from side to side, “together,” he says in an almost whisper, “Should I watch how I tag you?”

“The story of our meeting in Barcelona was retweeted…How many times?”

“Fourteen thousand.”

“And when Phichit uploaded our Purikura photos after NHK last year?”

“Nineteen thousand likes on Instagram.” He says in between sips.

“I think our drinks are tame. It’s fairly apparent you’re in Kazakhstan with me anyway.”

“Yeah,” He tags the photo with a line of coffee emojis. “That is true,” and it has been the topic of frequent discussion on figure skating blogs. Source: NishigoriTriplets.Tumblr.com. Yuri hasn’t said anything to the baby hags directly. The sharks are actually doing an excellent job of running PR for them.

“Plus, I trust you to be discreet.”

Right. If anything out of line ended up getting posted, it would be courtesy of Phichit, or Chris, or possibly even Viktor. However, they both have a sense of shame. There would be no getting naked at Michelin Star restaurants, no kisses on national television.

If it were any other way, they probably wouldn’t have given each other the time of day.


 

Yuri and Otabek return to the coffee shop on Wednesday evening after practice.

It very quickly becomes apparent that he’s made a huge mistake.

The barista has abandoned her spot behind the counter. Instead she sits on the small slightly elevated stage and reads from a notebook. “I can’t be the only person who loves to work and live alone,” She reads slowly, dramatically into the microphone. “Who reads and writes and hates the phone,” she goes on.

Yuri’s phone vibrates in his hand. “She just got a new iPhone. She told me about it the other day.” Yuri doesn’t question Otabek’s choice of medium. The café is quiet enough one could hear a pin drop, and he’s not above using technology to snark on people he’s in the same room with.

“Why have tertiary pressures to succeed,” She continues.

Yuri’s taps back, “This is so fucking awful. I’m sorry.”

Yuri’s phone buzzes again. “Is this a bad time to tell you I hate most poetry?”

Yuri would almost feel bad about planning such a shitty date. If this weren’t so, fucking funny. Otabek might actually be close to being angry. He’s visually cringing at each line with brows drawn tight and his shoulders twitching.

“Uh, we’re fighting now,” he texts back with a huge grin across his face. “Why didn’t you TELL ME,” Yuri double texts. Otabek can sit and suffer for a bit longer. It would’ve taken zero effort to say, “Hey, I know this makes no fucking sense because I have the bizzare-est and fanciest old man college professor taste in the whole world, but I actually have sense about this one thing, and that’s that poetry sucks.” But he didn’t, so here they are.

“You seemed so happy to plan something nice for me.”

Okay that one makes Yuri’s fucking stomach drop. Just where the fuck did he get off, flipping the script immediately so that he went from slightly smug to melted goo in half a second.

The barista turned poet drones on and on and on. Yuri seems at a loss for what to next. He can’t stop fixating on just how awful this is, and how to get out of it.

He really shouldn’t worry about being rude, he’s rude all the time. Except, oh yeah he made such a big deal about being embarrassed by Otabek’s taste in coffee.

Yuri and Otabek linger in the back by their usual table, next to the side exit. On one side, a booth style bench is mounted against the wall. On the other side, wooden chairs. Both of them sit on the booth side, which faces the stage.

Both of them put their phones down on the table, and the atmosphere shifts into the familiar and comforting silence that just sort of sits between them most of the time. Then, with no warning or provocation, he feels a firm hand on his knee. Then, the hand slides slowly, heavily up his thigh. Holy shit. It rests on the inside of his thigh, dangerously close to the juncture of his leg.

He can feel the other man’s hot breath on his neck and his ear as he silently tortures him rubbing slow and delicate patterns against the side and the top of his thigh. He makes sure to run a fingertip over Yuri’s kneecap, which is particularly ticklish.

“This is a little better but…” Otabek whispers into his ear. “But, we should get out of here.”

He flashes Otabek the screen of his phone “Is this an option?” Followed by the kiss emoji.

“Not this?” Accompanied by the stupid yellow face blowing a kiss.

Yuri steals another furtive glance at his boyfriend. Otabek’s hand has slid from his hip right to the small of his back. It’s suggestive, in the strange yet innocuous way only Otabek can be.

As Yuri begins to lose his composure, Otabek seems to regain his. He whispers hotly into his ear, “Let’s get out of here.”

“Where do you want to go?” Otabek asks when they get outside. Yuri’s all but dragging him by the hand across the parking lot to the bike.

Home? Because…. “Do you wanna finish our date? Or do you want to fool around some more?” Otabek kick starts the engine and gets it turned over on the first attempt. He’s so cool.

Or...both? That was an option too wasn’t it? Yuri’s heart rate gradually returns to normal as he clambers up onto the bike behind Otabek. “Both.” Yuri decides firmly. Besides, he doesn’t wanna let the other man know he can get worked up with just a few simple touches. It’s dangerous information for a man who is as sexy as Otabek to have.

“You did something nice for me, so I’ll do something nice for you,” Otabek says before they take off and the engine drowns out whatever else might’ve been said between them. He knows it’s supposed to be sweet, but considering how that went when he tried?

Yuri is skeptical.


 

Otabek chose Zodiac fountains. They had come here before, but Yuri did little more than frown, scowl, and begrudgingly dip his toes into the cool blue water. It had been a crowded day, and little children were everywhere.

Yuri had said through gritted teeth that he, “didn’t want to look like a fucking loser.”

Something told him that when no one was around, he’d have an entirely different reaction.

He wasn’t wrong.

“Hell yeah,” Yuri shouts in between shucking his shoes and rolling his pants up to his knees. “This is awesome when there aren’t brats everywhere.” It takes all of about twenty seconds for him to dart from the bike to the long crystalline jets of water.

Otabek has never bought into the whole “fairy” image pushed by the media. It was one program, executed particularly well by Yuri in juniors.

However, in the dark of the night, everything the park spotlights touch have that strange harsh and unnatural, yet almost ethereal tint. He sees Yuri in passing strobe light snapshots of light and dark and light again as he moves. His skin glows in the spotlight, his smile is freely given.

It’s the kind of strange summer night where despite the beauty of the night, few people remain in the park. The moon is high, and the lightening bugs mingle effortlessly on the horizon alongside stars. In literature, it’s the kind of night where strange and magical things happen, the kind of night where lives are irrevocably changed.

That is to say, that under these strange conditions, Otabek wouldn’t be surprised if Yuri really did sprout jewel like, rice paper thin wings.

Otabek feels like he’s seeing something very forbidden, and very private…But that’s the beauty of their new relationship isn’t it? Yuri has, through his words and his actions, confirmed that he wants him to see this side of him.

“Come on! Otabek!”

“Just a moment,” Otabek’s got one shoe off and one shoe on when he replies.  “I don’t want my things to get wet.” The other shoe gets tugged off, the phone stowed unceremoniously in his shoe. He ditches the jacket, and rolls up his pants.

Slowly, with none of the thrill and palpable excitement of Yuri, he approaches the fountains.

His heart feels like it’s going to beat out of his chest. Somehow, this feels more risky than feeling him up in a booth at a coffee shop.

 The interactions between them haven’t drastically changed, and yet Otabek feels totally and wholly exposed by the shift in their relationship like an open wound or a raw and overexposed nerve.

The old tension between them felt like it was unending. Now, a new tension emerged. It felt temporary, like it was burning at both ends, and there was no time to get used to anything because all of it was fleeting.

“Beka,” Icy damp fingers interlace in his own. Interesting.

Does this mean he gets to call him “Yurio,” now? It takes a lot of gall for a man who vows to hate his own nickname to use one so freely. Which means it’s very typical Yuri behavior.

“Come on.” The fingers tug at him towards the fountains, but not directly into the spray. It’s as if Yuri can feel the apprehension through their interlaced fingers.

“Better than poetry?” Yuri extends his free arm into one of the jets of water.

He doesn’t much care for the spray of the fountains. Watching Yuri dart from one fountain to the next with wide eyes however…“Much better than poetry,” he decides.

It goes quiet between them for a long while.

Anything that is new in the past few days seems to fit seamlessly enough into their routine. Yet, it requires immense cognitive reappraisal for Otabek. The occasional long and languid kiss on the couch doesn’t interrupt their pattern of quiet and routine reading.

A short and firey kiss after the coaches have left the rink doesn’t interrupt the impassioned routines they’d practiced, not in order to secure the gold, but for fun.

Their seamless nature doesn’t prevent Otabek from feeling a pinch of apprehension. The last time they’d come to the fountains was a week and a half ago with Farida. A week and a half ago they hadn’t been a couple.

In an instant, Otabek is able to define the soft pressure that threatens to clamp down and crush them both.

Yuri’s time left in Kazakhstan is short. Just a few weeks. Depending on how the Grand Prix events are assigned, they may not see each other until November…then worlds…It certainly contextualizes the push and pull pressure to kiss, train, cuddle, train, have sex.

He wonders, if Yuri also feels this pressure, and what if anything there is to do about it. If the other morning was any indicator, they’re both willing slaves to their passions.

 “Yuri,” he says finally.

“Hm?” Yuri perks up from stomping on the small fountain jets in the ground, blocking them and unblocking them completely with his feet. It causes the spray to go everywhere and in relatively no time, Yuri is soaked.

Yuri never released his hand…So, in no time Otabek is also soaked too. “I’ll race you. From here to the bench,” He points through the fountains to the other side of the park, “and back again.”

“To the snail fountain,” Yuri corrects.

“You’re on.”

“Wait!” Yuri interrupts when Otabek tries to untangle their hands. “What does the winner do for the loser?”

Oh.

Otabek looks Yuri up, down, and then up again. His shirt is almost soaked through. His hair is pretty wet as well. There are a few rare dry spots on his pants. Otabek can assume that he looks similar. “Let the loser into the shower first when we get home probably.”

Running across water soaked pavement can only be compared to hitting the top of a staircase and thinking that another stair is there. The pooled water provides some but not nearly enough resistance which causes a strange hollow thunking sensation when feet hit pavement.

Otabek doesn’t feel foolish for running across the monument barefoot and chasing after Yuri, although he’d certainly feel that way if he saw another person do it. Wildly irresponsible and extraordinarily uncontrolled…But not at all foolish.

Yuri wins the impromptu race, but it’s anything other than a loss. How could it be when he lets Otabek haul him upward? How could it be when he lets Otabek pick him up, press him up against one of the far and unlit fountains, and kiss him deeply?

How can it be when Yuri makes the most amazing little noises when he kisses at the other man’s neck? 

Then, just as quickly as he demanded the brutal pace, Yuri’s giving just as much, kissing him hotly and pushing against him.

It’s amazing.

Yuri is amazing.

Somewhere between bruising Yuri’s lips with his own and palming him through damp jeans, Otabek has a shred of common sense trickle back into his brain. He pulls back.


 

Otabek takes the time to alternate between licking, sucking, and kissing at Yuri’s neck and shoulders. The alternation between soft and hard pressure reduces his entire world to nothing more than the feeling of Otabek, damp and hot against him.

Otabek’s finally touching his dick. So of course; as if on cue, Otabek pulls back, ever so slightly. Sets him back down on the ground gently. Yuri’s still pinned to the wall, and their bodies are still pressed close, but Otabek’s shifted his arm so that it’s resting above his head against the wall like they’re in some kind of shitty girlie manga.

Not that he would know about that trope from any of Mari’s comics.

“I’m sorry,” Otabek offers in explanation.

“Are you saying that going at it in a very public location isn’t one of our better ideas?”

“Precisely.”

Yuri lets out a low whistle he and Otabek leave the fountain and scramble for their discarded shoes and socks. The water feels icy cold in comparison to the radiant warmth Otabek’s skin. “Nothing gets passed you Altin.”


 

“Beka,” His name falls heavy from Yuri’s mouth. The sound shoots from the tips of his toes. Two syllables, his name, should never sound so obscene.

Otabek himself has had time to dry his hair and settle comfortably into the sofa after they got home.

Yuri’s hair is still damp, frizzy, and uncombed. A faint rose colored blush dusts across his cheeks. From underneath the faded t-shirt he wears, Otabek can tell that he wears the same pattern across his collarbone. A smaller, deeper red mark adorns the place where his neck meets his shoulder.

Yuri’s got the hair brush in his hand, but the husky tone of his voice and the fiery precision of his gaze suggest more.

“Do you want to?” The other man straddles him without preamble, and sets the hairbrush on the armrest of the couch.

With the weight of Yuri’s body on top of him, every drop of apprehension he might have had evaporates in the hot fire above him. For a brief moment Otabek wonders if he’s talking about combing his hair, or making love. The answer to both is an unequivocal and resounding, “yes.”


 

Chapter Text

“Beka,” There’s something painfully ironic about Yuri using the nickname without so much as asking permission. In reality he’s afraid that if he tries to say each syllable of Otabek’s name, whatever confidence he has will fly out the fucking window.

Keeping it together is literally the only thing that matters right now.  It’s not that he can’t be vulnerable in front of Otabek. The exact opposite. The guy’s seen him win a lot of golds, and lose a lot of golds. He’s seen every shitty emotion his soul can wring out. Crying (happy): check. Pyeongcheng. Crying (sad): check. Pyeongcheng again. Anger (punching): check. Barcelona. Crying (angry): check. Helsinki. Fear: check. Barcelona, see also: Almaty the first time Otabek let him drive the bike. See also, also: Almaty, just after he sliced his hand open.

Here’s the thing. He wants this. He really really really fucking wants this, and it seems fairly apparent that Otabek wants this too.  He is fairly confident that if the man who speaks in half grunts, pinched expressions, and cryptic as fuck statements is not just willing, but enthusiastic about feeling him up in public then there is a lot of mutual desire there.

Now that he has him right where he wants him (needy, horny, demanding), he’s not going to let him back pedal into any of that gentlemanly, “I will wait for you my maiden” bullshit that Otabek tends to silently employ.

Don’t get him wrong, if Otabek wants to talk about his own feelings, wants to wait because he’s not ready that’s 100% totally and completely okay. Cause, Yuri doesn’t have hard proof yet, but that “my maiden,” stuff could stem from Otabek’s own insecurities.

But uh, he’s good, more than good really at understanding what it is that he wants right now.

“Do you want to?”

Yuri’s feet move under their own volition. He can’t hold a single thought in his head other than, damn. As in, “damn, look at him,” or “damn, I’m fucking lucky,” or, “damn, I’m about to get lucky.” Except, something short circuits in his brain, so he’s just mentally screaming, “damn” at himself over, and over, and over again.  But that single track line of thinking serves him well. Any thought he had of losing his nerve is abandoned when he straddles Otabek, who feels like nothing but dense muscle beneath him.

It solidifies the dull yet relentless ache that’s been building and coiling building and coiling relentlessly just below his gut for weeks now.  

Otabek’s hands fly upward to cup his ass. The actual touch is soft, but it holds so much promise of things to come. His response is a barely audible whisper. “Yes,” followed by an immediate, “If you want to.” 

Yuri’s eyes drift to the rosemary plant that has been moved from the window in the kitchen to the coffee table since it’s blossomed. The flowers are small and dark purple. Yuri didn’t even know that the herbs could flower. “Flowers.” He kisses Otabek. Closed mouthed, but he makes sure to nibble at the other man’s lower lip as they part. His attention shifts to the vanilla scent in the room. His eyes drift from one end table to the other and sure enough the candles are lit. “Candles…” Another kiss.

Yuri’s not so smooth this time and accidentally catches Otabek’s upper lip with his lower. It’s fine because Yuri’s got Otabek beneath him, and the promise of nothing but the faint sticky texture of chap stick between them. “So fucking romantic…” It is, but it isn’t. The apartment is no different in atmosphere than a typical night. “How could I not?”

“Look,” Yuri keeps speaking before he gives Otabek the chance to respond. He knows what that face means. The one with his lips pursed together. The one where his stare melts into him in a way that is nothing but concentrated determinism.  The one that won’t succeeded until Otabek Altin, king of the vague and cryptic, has a very explicit response. “I want this. Have for a while. I hope you do to.”

It’s Otabek that closes the distance between them this time. He traces the line of Yuri’s lips and over the tip of his tongue. They go back and forth and back and forth until they part with a small, but obscene sounding smack. “I want to do everything with you,” and in line with that statement, one of Otabek’s hands leave his ass. His free hand migrates upward and he begins to play with the hem of Yuri’s t-shirt. His fingers skim lightly against the exposed skin there.

Yuri chuckles softly. “I had no idea.” Emboldened by Otabek’s response, he rolls his hips into the other man. They’re not slotted together perfectly, but he can feel the other man’s arousal against his hip, just between their sweatpants. “I don’t think we’ll make it through everything tonight.” He says it with a cocksure raise of the eyebrow, but some of the syllables catch in his throat.

It’s been touch and go since the café, and that was hours ago. He’s ready now.

“We’ll go slow then. Save something for the next day.”

Otabek’s expression softens a little. His clenched jaw morphs into that little half smile. His eyes soften, and he drinks him in with half-lidded eyes. “And the next day, and the day after, and the day after that,” is heavily implied in his prior statement.

Their mouths meet again. Gone is the tender slowness laced with uncertainty of before. It’s nothing but hot, damp unbridled need. Their hands match the tempo of their mouths. Yuri’s got his hands up under Otabek’s shirt pushing it up to his armpits. He’s seen the other man shirtless countless times before. The sight is nothing in comparison to the wondrous feeling of compact muscle trapped under chenille skin beneath his fingers.

Otabek’s hands drift greedily from one part of his body to the next. His hands drift across his shoulders. His fingers trace each slightly raised nodule of his spine. His brain barely registers Otbek trying to pull his shirt up over his head, but how can he be bothered? He’s seen the mottled red purple hickey on his collarbone. It’s time to repay the favor.

So instead, Otabek’s hands slide back down to Yuri’s backside. His hands slide under the waistband of his charcoal gray joggers and knead the flesh there firmly, unapologetically.  

“You really like doing that, huh?” Yuri says when he’s finally satisfied at the small cluster of bruises along Otabek’s chest…and neck. Oops. He’s going to have to sorry-not-sorry his way out of that one in the morning.

“You won’t let me take off your shirt.”

“Huh-“ Yuri’s eyes go wide, “Oh!” He peels his shirt off immediately because…Yeah, that’s a good idea. He rocks backwards on his knees so he can let Otabek sit upright. “Yours too.”

Otabek obeys and tugs at the back of his shirt by the collar. It goes up over the arms, and for a moment they just kind of stare at each other breathless and shirtless. The need and the want is almost tangible between them. Presented with near endless options, Yuri can’t for the life of him figure out what to do next.

 Then, as suddenly as they’d parted they’re smushed back together. Lips, hands, tongues, and skin. They’re able to indulge in one another’s bodies completely. Unashamedly.

Otabek catches a nipple in his mouth and Yuri swears to god he sees stars. Otabek doesn’t attend to the rest of his body the way he does kissing. Kisses start out slow, teasing, and impassioned hints of what is to come. Elsewhere, Otabek is nothing but unforgiving and direct. He alternates between grazing his teeth across Yuri’s nipples and relentless pressure that’s guaranteed to leave them red and overstimulated.

But it feels so fucking good. Yuri has to bite his lip to hold in the embarrassing little noises that threaten to escape.

They’ve shifted so that Yuri can really feel Otabek beneath him. He can fit them together just so, and grind together just so that everything is reduced to the push, drag, push, of their clothed lengths against each other.

Yuri’s met with the sound of deep, breathy, and completely unashamed moans in response. Otabek’s hand tangles its way into his hair and tugs lightly. It’s enough to make him have to stop and think about the consequences of coming in his pants. God, Yuri didn’t expect Otabek to be so vocal.   

“Yuri, please,” Otabek pants in-between sloppy and open mouthed kisses. His dark eyes blown wide ask a question that Yuri isn’t sure he has the answer to.

How the fuck can he say no to that?

Yuri starts pulling down Otabek’s sweats with the full intention of fuckin bringing the sensuality. Instead, he becomes absolutely mesmerized by the contrast of dark patch of hair that begins at the crest of his hips and the smoothness of his skin. Yuri’s own body hair is so faint. The way Otabek’s whorls and trails downward towards…

“Yuri.” Otabek repeats. Despite being blinded by want-need-lust, Yuri still notices the slight tremble of the other man’s voice at the second syllable.  

In a movement that’s far more coordinated than their attempt at taking off their shirts, Yuri gives Otabek just enough space to cant his hips upward. Yuri tears the pants down.

Yuri has barely any time to process the subsequent movements. He’s hell bent on getting a good look at Otabek’s dick. In the scant seconds Yuri tries to process, Otabek’s got their positions switched, so that he’s all but sitting on the couch cushions, and Otabek’s tugging his pants down past his ankles.

This motion, isn’t so fluid, and Yuri has to scoot and twist to help Otabek get them the rest of the way off.

Much like when they removed their shirts, a palpable tension hangs between them. Yuri can do little more other than try to catch his breath and stare.

Yuri’s mouth suddenly feels very, very dry. He licks his lips. No time to get blushing-virgin shy Plisetsky.  Except…Otabek’s very naked, very hard, and staring at him while he’s very naked and very hard.

Otabek tilts his chin upward and kisses him again. “Do you want to sit in my lap again? We can touch each other like that.”

The suggestion acts as a lifeline for Yuri, who might’ve forgotten how to breathe.

They shift again so that Yuri is in Otbek’s lap. From the sticky way their foreheads stick together, to the slippery way Yuri’s thighs glide against Otabek’s he becomes acutely aware of how hot the other man is against him. The feeling only intensifies, when he reaches for him and thrusts experimentally.

Otabek feels smooth like silk, but drags like velvet. And how many times has he absentmindedly stared at the drag of his own foreskin up and over the head of his cock only to be pushed back down again? It’s never been this interesting or this erotic, but the sight of his hand on Otabek is enthralling.

“Yuri,” and then the other man’s hand is on him. Firm, but not rough. And whatever you do, don’t come on his hand on the first thrust Plisetsky.

“You can…A little harder?” Otabek pants.

“Yeah.” Yuri adjusts his grip, and Otbek makes the most delicious little noise that lets him know he’s doing it right.

“Do you need?”

“No. S’good,” he slurs. More than good.

Then, somehow through the thrusting, and the panting, and the frantic kisses…Kisses that land on the chin, the corner of the mouth, and by some miracle there’s a small portion actually on each other’s lips. Somehow they press their lengths together.

Both of their hands move in a sloppy uncoordinated effort to bring each other to climax. Yuri’s hand bumps awkwardly against Otabek’s but it doesn’t matter because it feels so damn good.

“Otabek,”

“Yuri,”

“Otabek,”

It’s hard to hear Otabek call his own name over the sound of their panting, and his heart racing, and the obscene sound of their skin moving against each other.

Otabek comes first with a flustered, “I’m-“

Yuri doesn’t last long after that. Otabek continues to touch him with long firm strokes. Then, he circles the head with the pad of his thumb, and-

“Please,” Like there’s nothing more important in the world than making him come.

How can he say no to a request like that?


“You’re not getting off that easily Altin.” He says as he hands Otabek his wood handled hairbrush.

Otabek responds with a raised eyebrow and a smirk that wordlessly says, “just did.”

He caught a glimpse of his hair in the bathroom mirror when they made a quick attempt to clean up, right before Otabek led him boneless and breathless to bed. His hair is frizzy and matted all at the same time.

Otabek accepts the brush and begins to comb at Yuri’s tangled ends.

“It’s really bad huh?” After a few swipes of the brush, Otabek’s abandoned the brush to tend to the tangles with his hands.

“Between the bike and…You should’ve done this before….”

“Yeah fucking right.” There was no way he was interrupting any of that.

Otabek switches back to the brush. Slowly, the strokes grow longer and longer down the entire length of the strands. It makes Yuri feel sleepy and warm like usual, but different. The strange electric shock feeling that usually starts in his spine and creeps up to the nape of his neck is absent.

Without that additional edge, he feels truly and wholly relaxed.  


Otabek guides Yuri down to the mattress. He waits for his breathing to even out, and stay even. There’s a sweet spot right after Yuri falls asleep and right before the flailing starts. He draws the other man close, and places a kiss to Yuri’s forehead.

He considers for a moment whether or not to say it out loud. To wake Yuri right now in this liminal phase…He risks an unconscious kick to the stomach.

He does it anyway. After all, these are the kind of liminal nights where lives are irrevocably changed. “Рақмет, Юрий.” His voice is barely a whisper when he murmurs into the other man’s hair. “Мен сені жақсы көремін әрине.”

Thank you Yuri. I love you, of course.

Chapter Text

The passage of time has almost been somewhat nebulous to Otabek. There’s a large cloudy gap in his childhood from his own father’s passing and Farida’s birth. One season he’s in Almaty, the next Canada, the next America…Or was it the other way around? America then Canada. There are no discernable details that make these moments of his life distinct from one another. He goes to bed performing modestly in juniors and he wakes up the next day for a free skate as a multi-time World’s finalist and Olympic bronze medalist.

He’d like to think that he’s the kind of person that thinks in terms of the future. That can be changed. The past isn’t worth mulling over.

Yet, he knows for a fact that it’s been fifty-five days exactly since Yuri arrived in Almaty.

He knows for a fact that in the beginning, he prepared dinner almost every night because he usually beat Yuri up the steps at President’s park.

Now, he finds himself watching Yuri cook dinner every night. At least every night for the past week.

“Because of these,” Otabek likes to tease and nudge his shins with his foot under the coffee table when they sit down to eat.  He likes to pretend that when Yuri passes him about halfway up the ascent that it’s only due to the change in Yuri’s body. At the beginning of the summer, Yuri’s growth was barely noticeable.

Now? It’s undeniable.

Otabek suspects that this might be the beginning of something wonderful. For Yuri, it could mean fewer performances ripped out of his very soul and forced out of his body. It’s no secret, the way he gasps for air after a performance and collapses on the ice. Yuri himself is open about how emotion tends to tear the best performances from him. He said jokingly that his silver at PyeongChang was so disappointing because no one pissed him off before the free skate.

Maybe the physical changes will help him find a certain eloquence that he hadn’t found before.

Otabek says none of this out loud. Instead it’s transmitted in silent meaningful bursts of thought while he helps Yuri chop vegetables. The thoughts are directed at his rosemary plant in the kitchen who knows without ever fully understanding.

 Yuri makes him the staples: miso, onigiri, curry rice, udon, and regular non-pirozhki katsudon. Then, he moves onto foods that seem more advanced. Things that he definitely learned while helping out at the hot spring: hotpot, shishamo, okonomiyaki.

Yuri makes him Tonkatsu ramen too.

It goes against their routine. Yuri has to start the broth a day before but Yuri craved it, and Otabek loved it. He’s pretty sure he goes over his macros for the day to have a second bowl of it. He’s not certain because he refuses to record anything that night.

“You didn’t have any of this when you were at NHK last year?”

“No.”

“We went out to eat!”

“I was recovering from the flu, so at the time I had no appetite. Mostly miso and rice.”

Yuri begged him to eat some of everything of his plate, but Otabek didn’t want him to get sick.

“Before that? The year before I knew you?”

“I had mostly room service.”

“You’re a fucking idiot then.”

Otabek might be able to see a tinge of truth in that statement…But he only has the capacity to look forward to making ramen with Yuri in the future, or actually being able to eat something good in Japan if he’s assigned to NHK again.

“It was in Sapporo that year too,” Yuri deflates. “What I would give for some miso ramen. The real stuff.”

“What else can you make? I need to try everything, so I know what to order if I’m assigned NHK again.” Otabek says firmly. “Something you like. Something I haven’t tried yet.”

Yuri’s jaw drops in shock. Otabek loves leaving Yuri flabbergasted more than anything else. There’s something so satisfying about impressing someone who isn’t impressed by much of anything.

Yuri doesn’t bring it up again for hours after the conversation ended. “There is one thing.” He speaks quickly in an attempt to hide his excitement. “I’ve never made it before myself, but we can try.  I will try my best though,” he brings a palm to his chest.

Otabek has seen this kind of eyes-blown-wide look of determination and desire before. Yuri has it whenever he makes katsudon pirozhki.

The timbre of his voice softens “We’ll need,” Yuri clenches his fist and pounds it into his palm. The timbre of his voice is lowered in determination. “To go to the East Asian market.”

Luckily, there are lots of options to choose from in Almaty. Instead of going to the one that is closest to Otabek’s apartment, they take the bike to a store a little further out. It had higher reviews on Yelp, and the comments said they had a great selection of live seafood.

The storefront is crowded. The produce counter is overflowing with freshly quartered and saran-wrapped pumpkins, summer melons, and no less than five different types of eggplant. The checkout space is cluttered with snacks. Yuri immediately goes for the brightly colored Glico boxes, packages of dried squid with cartoon labels, large plastic canisters of individually wrapped lychee jelly, and a whole end display of that particular brand of shrimp chips that he can’t stand the smell of. He sat next to a man on an Air China flight who tucked into a huge bag right after takeoff and he’s never been able to get over it.

Yuri selects a few boxes of chocolate and says, “You like sweet shit. You should try these.”

Then they make their way to the back of the store.

“Two please,” Yuri says as he casually leans against the glass of one of the tanks. He sticks his nose against the glass and stares into the water that is tinted green with algae.

Without warning, the butcher catches an eel and stakes it to the cutting board. Then, the butcher fillets the eel.

Otabek can feel the blood drain from his face and his eyes widen. Without really thinking about it, he reaches out for Yuri and squeezes his shoulder.

Yuri leads him out of the shop. He takes the shopping bag, and Yuri walks with a bundle of crisp white butcher paper in his arm. “You okay? You look about as pale as this package right now.”

Otabek doesn’t respond. He’s got that strange, heavy feet light headed feeling. It was the feeling that he had when Yuri cut his hand.

The feeling doesn’t dissipate. He watches Yuri fire up the outdoor grill in courtyard. He doesn’t tie back his hair, and uses too much accelerant. The ninety second experience probably aged him a decade.

Despite it all, it seems worth it. The other man hands him a bowl of eel, sauce and rice. Yuri is smiling.


In Hasetsu there’s an outdoor faucet just out the side door to the kitchen. Mari always makes him get mop water from there even though the faucet is old, slightly rusted, and he really needs her big fucking man hands to get it turned on. 

Once the water gets going, it flows freely. He usually has to wait for the water to turn from rust brown, to sickly yellow, and finally to clear. Getting it turned off is a whole ordeal too. He has to throw his whole body weight into it to make sure it doesn’t stay on.

Something rips the faucet open for Yuri towards the end of the summer.

Otabek too.

That’s the best way that Yuri can describe their interactions after the fountains.

It’s like something snaps within both of them. There’s no need or urgency to stop the impending flood. All of the maddening white hot need-lust-want is still there, but they act upon it constantly. It’s like they’ve both consciously made the decision to drown in it.

In the mornings, he likes to wake Otabek up long lick that trails from his bellybutton to his hip bone. Some mornings, he feels the other man’s eyes upon him, heavy and filled with lust. Other mornings he’s greeted with the softest most amazing…secret, just for him only…little gasp. This is of course followed by, “that tickles.” In seconds he’ll have Otabek stripped down…This is assuming he slept in anything at all. It’s becoming increasingly common that their clothes don’t make it back on after whatever it is they’ve done the night before.

He’ll lick long stripes from the crest of Otabek’s hip bones to the soft skin of his sac. Then, he’ll take the other man into his mouth completely. There’s no better feeling than feeling Otabek gradually get harder and harder in his mouth.

In the morning it’s always rushed. When Otabek hardens completely, and he can no longer handle his entire length in his mouth, he’ll closes the distance with a fist tight on the root of Otabek’s dick. He works him to completion relentlessly. Afterwards, Yuri usually works himself to completion with a few quick thrusts of the hand, and comes on Otabek’s stomach. Or, Otabek slaps his hand away and wrings an orgasm from him himself.

There’s this sort of unspoken assumption between them that Otabek isn’t going to just wake him up with oral sex. That’s a great way to get kneed in the face. But, one morning they woke up well before the alarm. Otabek suggested that they do it to each other at the same time. Yuri could tell that his face was borscht fucking red the whole time. How could it not be?  Otabek had him get on top, straddling his face. As embarrassing as it was, and damn was it embarrassing, he can’t wait to try it again.  

At night things go a little differently. With the day’s training behind them, they have time to tease and torment each other in the very best of ways. Sometimes they simply go to bed right after they’ve both had their dinner and a shower. Yuri likes these nights most of all.

Yuri leaves his bottle of oatmeal scented lotion on Otabek’s dresser one night. It’s the dresser that acts as a night stand in his too cramped room. It never makes its way back to the bathroom. It’s too useful.

Tonight they had another crappy Ostern film on that reminded him of Moscow and the discount theater. The one where your shoes stuck to the floor and the seats swallowed you whole.

Except, he’d downloaded the version with German audio, and they couldn’t figure out how to get the subtitles to work.

What an absolute tragedy.

They might have made it through the opening scene before their mouths were pressed together. They definitely didn’t make it through the credits before their hands were pushed up underneath each other’s shirts. It just so happened that not knowing German made for a perfect excuse to kiss each other until their lips were red and puffy, an even better excuse to strip down to next to nothing and rut against each other until there’s obscene twin damp spots on their underwear.

In the past few days they’ve kissed thousands of times. Tonight alone it might be in the hundreds. Yet, Otabek’s kisses leave him love drunk for more. By now they’re both so hard. His underwear is impossibly tight and his dick feels heavy with the faint sting of being keyed up for too long.

Otabek pulls back from a particularly long and needy kiss.

Yuri takes a moment to reach under his waistband and stroke himself. His other hand palms Otabek through his underwear. “You’re really wet huh?”  Wow, he hopes that doesn’t sound too fucking stupid.

“Yeah,” Otabek exhales. Otabek grabs the hand on his crotch and places a feather light kiss on Yuri’s fingertips. “Can I? Can we?” Otabek asks with slight hesitation. His eyes dart to the dresser and return to Yuri. Then back to the dresser.

Yuri knows exactly what he’s being asked.

Otabek loves fucking his thighs. Loves doing it with Yuri on his back and his legs pressed together so that they rest on Otabek’s shoulder. Or even better, where his legs are rolled over to the side. Yeah, they’re doing it like that tonight.

Yuri strips away his underwear. He then tugs at Otabek’s while the other man goes for the lotion.

“Hey, get these off first, idiot.” He pulls at the other man’s briefs.

Yuri rolls into the position and watches Otabek give himself a few long lazy strokes that seem to defy all the urgency between them.

Yuri watches with rapt fascination, “Otabek,” he pauses to lick his swollen and kiss bruised lips. “You’re teasing.”

“Sorry, I just,” Otabek mumbles.  He closes the distance between them and settles between Yuri’s legs. Otabek spreads some of the gel between Yuri’s thighs and across his length. “I’m really attracted to you.”

Yuri snorts. “I think you’re really fucking hot too.”

Otabek kisses him again. It’s feather light in comparison to the fiery kisses they’d exchanged earlier, and yet it’s somehow more maddening. He can feel the press of Otabek’s dick against his thighs.

“How close do you think this is to the real thing?” Yuri asks when they part.

Yuri receives his answer when the other man finally fucks into his closed thighs. It’s tight, and wet, and so fucking good. There’s also the undeniable teasing drag of Otabek against him, but not quite satisfying in the same way that happens when they jerk off and rub against each other together. There’s the promise there of something that somehow feels even better than Otabek pressed against him, but…

 “I don’t know. I really like doing it this way.” Otabek punctuates his statement with a powerful roll of his hips and a moan that sounds like it’s been ripped out of his soul it’s so deep and so needy.

Yuri closes his eyes for a moment and simply enjoys the slide Otabek’s dick against him. He likes that too. Then, he leans up and capitalizes upon the reason he likes this position more than the others that they’ve tried. Otabek can still fuck into him needy and hot. With Otabek’s body blanketing his own, he can also lean into him for a kiss, wet and sloppy without breaking the delicious tightness between them.

Possible downside to the position, it makes it hard to grab, and hold, and squeeze. These are all things he very much likes to do to his Otabek.

Guess that means he’ll just have to talk. “I like feeling you too Beka. You feel so fucking good.” It’s true. “When you fuck me hard, I think about-” Yuri interrupts himself with a moan. Otabek’s worked a hand between them. A single digit traces his entrance lightly, puts delicious pressure onto his perineum.

Yuri curls and uncurls his toes.

This should be enough. It should be more than enough to have Otabek against him and his fingers on him. It should be enough, but it’s not. The drag of the other man’s cock against his isn’t the same like when they’re pressed together. The pressure of his legs together does nothing for him like the feeling of Otabek’s hand around him.

But it does feel good, and it does cause every semblance of thought to fall out of his brain. He’s left with little more than, “Beka, Beka, Beka,” on his tongue.

It’s a dirty trick, because it always makes Otabek come without fail...like right now.

Otabek thrusts into him over and over and over again. The sound of their skin slapping together mixed with Otabek’s low beautiful moans is hypnotic. The feeling of his come warm and wet against his thighs and stomach is obscene. 

Luckily, he has the sense to grab his long discarded shirt from within the covers. Otabek’s bed is so big clothes don’t so much get thrown to the floor as they get regulated to different parts of the mattress. He wipes off his chest and then offers the shirt to Otabek.  

The question still lingers in his mind. How close is it to the real thing? He’s almost 1000% sure that both of them are more than happy with rubbing up against each other, but the question still lingers like the electric touch of Otabek’s hands against his skin.

 “Otabek can I?” He asks, but he doesn’t quite know how to phrase the question.

Otabek pushes his sweat slick hair out of his face and locks eyes with Yuri. It’s clear that lust no longer clouds his brain, but his signature look of determination remains. One that says he’ll do anything to get Yuri off.

“What do you need from me?” The question is so direct. It grabs him by the base of the spine and drags him back to the other man’s arms. He could have anything right now. He just needs to find the courage to ask for it.

He was running his mouth without abandon seconds ago. Funny how his resolve slips away when he isn’t pinned to the bed by the weight of Otabek’s body.

“Turn around?” Yuri swallows the lump in his throat down and tries to articulate exactly it is what he wants. “Just trust me. I want to do the same thing to you, but on your stomach.”

Otabek complies and Yuri goes for more of the lotion. He puts some on his cock and then-

Honestly, he could just go for squeezing Otabek’s ass cheeks over and over again while jerking off. He wants to go all the way, rub up against his skin, and indulgently jerk off all at the same time. That’s stupidly into him he is. “Don’t freak out,” Yuri orders. “Just you know, between. Not inside,” Yuri reiterates. He hopes that jumbled mess of words makes sense, he couldn’t explain himself more thoroughly if he tried.

“I trust you.”

He spreads more of the sticky gel in the cleft of Otabek’s ass. It’s absolutely filthy looking. He slides in between, and oh, God filthy doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s obscene. Yuri squeezes the other man’s cheeks aroud him. The sight of his fingers digging into tight unmarred skin, and the image of his cock…there. It was beyond self indulgent. The slip of skin against skin, the promise of what they could do if moved his cock downward just a little more. The near drunken satisfaction he had Otabek, and that was enough.

The only sound between them is Yuri’s ragged breathing and Otabek’s soft moans. It’s nice to know that even though the other man has already come, he’s into it too.

“Are you close?”

“Yes, God yes,” he manages to croak out.

Yuri squeezes and releases, squeezes and releases the soft malleable flesh, watches with rapt fascination as his cock slides between.

It doesn’t take long for him to spill on the small of Otabek’s back.

After they’ve hastily wiped each other off, after they’ve fallen back onto the mattress, Yuri can feel words well up in his throat and tighten his chest. He can’t believe Otabek just let him do that. There was no way he would’ve let the same happen without a lot of questioning.

He trusts him so much. His chest feels tight, and the scant bit of space between them on the mattress feels endless. Like he needs to be closer. Now.

“Otabek?”

“Hm?”

“I-“ Yuri furrows his brow. Stuff like that shouldn’t be said after doing something filthy, right? Would Otabek tell him something like that after they’d done something filthy?

No. He’d wait until the moment was nice and syrupy sweet without being gross about it.

“Want to take a shower. Do you want to come with me?”

“Hm.” Which he knows means, “yes.”


The summer right before he moved to Canada Otabek spent what felt like an eternity trying to land the quad Salchow. He spent countless hours on endless days trying to land the jump. Relentlessly he practiced, and each day he was not only met with failure, but a discernable lack of any tangible progress what so ever. There seemed to be no discernable pattern in what he was doing wrong. Sometimes it was his intro, sometimes it was a botched landing, other times he had great difficulty holding his body in position during rotations.

Then, just a few weeks after he’d left Almaty behind, he landed the Salchow. It was completely unexpected, and yet never thought to question the reasons why he was suddenly able to land the jump. It changed him and his skating forever for the better, and for that he was simply grateful.

Something similar happens with Yuri.

There’s a difference between letting Yuri set the pace and eagerly letting himself be thrown into the breakneck tempo that Yuri has set for them. It is the latter that undeniably happens.

With each passing day, Yuri becomes more emboldened in their relationship, and for that Otabek is grateful. It feels natural to be entrapped and consumed by the other man’s passion and then fill in the cracks in his confidence when he becomes flustered or unsure.

Like the other night when Yuri asked him to lay on his stomach. In that moment, he would’ve gladly offered more if Yuri had asked it of him.

Instead, he simply reassured the other man that he was more than willing to comply with the initial request.

Something similar happens on the ice too. Seemingly overnight Yuri’s short program nears perfection. He gets the axel off the back counter, along with the quads, and the sadistic combination jump. This too emboldens Yuri.

Practice has all but drawn to a close for the night. They have but twenty or so minutes before their scheduled rink time ends and they have to clear the ice for public skate. He’s resigned himself to the long and lazy compulsories he does at the beginning and end of each practice. At the start of practice, it forces him to think about components that still need work. How can he look at them from a new angle and confront the problem. At the end, he reassesses. What has been improved upon? What still needs to be done.

The pancake spin is still giving him problems. Maybe the problem is isolating each component. Maybe the true problem lies in the quad just before….

His thoughts are interrupted by the rapid sound of skates against ice behind him.

There’s a feather light touch on his hip, and the soft sound of “hey,” in his ear. “I wanna do the thing.”

They go into another lap, and Yuri never positions himself in front. That’s counterintuitive to doing the spiral.

Oh.

Suddenly, it all clicks. Otabek leans back slightly and extends his arm to rest on top of Yuri’s shoulder.

It’s been awhile since he’s performed the move from this side. For a moment there is a very tangible and very distinct fear that Yuri would drop him. Ah, but does he not romanticize the idea of being consumed by Yuri and his passion? Did he not ask Yuri to place the same faith in him weeks ago?

Yuri’s touch at his hip and on the crook of his elbow burn embers through his skin. It’s amazing how he would do anything Yuri asked of him without question in the needy sweat-skin-sheets moments before bed and just after they woke up. However, the feeling of Yuri behind him on ice makes him feel stripped bare and exposed.

“Ready?”

Otabek gives Yuri a small sideways nod.

“At the center line.”

Otabek closes his eyes, he leans down and back. The world slows down, and everything he ever has been or will be is reduced to little more than the pull of Yuri’s body against the tug of his own.

The pickup is sloppy. Yuri stumbles out of form and steps backwards awkwardly blade to pick blade to pick. He feels shaky too, but manages to right himself quickly. Yuri’s taken the brunt of the awkward exit from the spiral, but manages to remain upright.

“Holy shit. I did it.”

“Yeah.” Otabek slowly glides over to Yuri, and wraps and arm around the other man’s middle.

“You gotta admit that was cool.”

For a moment, Otabek wonders if the thoughts he’d directed at the rosemary plant the other day were true. Was Yuri changing? Was Yuri becoming more purposeful and refined in his behavior?

Or…

The thought frightened Otabek in the same way that an upcoming date on the calendar frightened him. Was he changing? Was he able to find more purpose and refinement in behavior that he’d previously regarded as an endless and unyielding war cry?

“Yeah.” His out of breath huff betrays the collected tone he’d wanted to respond with. There are probably people in the lobby waiting for public skate. There are probably staff around as well. It’s risky…

He entangles his fingers in Yuri’s hair and kisses him anyway.

Chapter Text

Out of nowhere, Viktor changes the subject. It goes from those stupid little dogs to skating. That’s his first indicator that something’s wrong with the short program. “Yurio, Yakov has shown me the most recent videos you’ve sent him.” Viktor’s beaming grin doesn’t reduce in size, but he does raise an index finger to bisect his lips.

Then he knows for sure. He’s in fucking trouble.

“In the short program I’m concerned about the sequencing of the axel in juxtaposition to the quad. How often are you landing those consistently?”

“Uh,” Yuri looks away from his phone screen and towards the ceiling for a minute. “Both of them? One after the other? 50%” He scratches at the back of his scalp in confusion. It could be a little more, or a little less. It’s hard to say for sure, but he knows Lila’s been keeping track…Looking over her little notebook down her long nose at him.

“No better than chance I see…” Viktor taps his index finger. “Have you considered,”

Yuri zones out for a minute. He can feel his eyes cross and the image on the phone goes blurry in front of him. Not today Viktor.

Whatever it is, he probably has considered it. Off ice, on ice, as he stares down the shower drain while he rinses out his hair, when he walks out to the dumpster to take out the trash with his shoes half on and half off so that he steps on the heel and walks like a moron.

He’s just not in the mood. Not today. Not tomorrow. Or the next day.

It’s strange. Before Viktor went to Japan he hated practice. He liked doing well, and he liked how he felt on the ice, but he didn’t like being forced to do something that he actually kind of liked. Then Viktor left, and he had a worthy competitor in Yuuri. He still had to practice, but it was an issue of live or die. Make an impression at the GPF, or have that light stolen away through a low score. Make an impression or have Yuuri retire.  

Now?

A strange mixture of fear, ambivalence, and uncertainty has taken up residence in his heart and soured his gut. He turned down a two or three day layover in Moscow just so he could get right back on the ice and burn through whatever fucky emotions he’d have to work through at the end of the week.

The world is so often nothing else other than him and Otabek on the podium. The position changes. The third person with them changes, but the general idea is the same. Winning matters. Making it to the podium with someone you respect is an added bonus.

Now? It’s him and Otabek on the podium, him and Otabek at practice, at the gym, him and Otabek at the café, at the drycleaners. It’s him and Otabek in the shower, and in the sheets, and shoved up against the counters too.

Having experienced all of that, it seems sort of unfair to drift back to such simplified existence where the world is reduced to the furtive glances he and Otabek give each other on the podium.

“Ah, Yurio what’s wrong?”

Yuri’s pulled back to reality for a moment. He should’ve thrown his phone.

“What’s wrong with your face? Are you angry?”

Yuri can feel the sharp hot pinpricks of tears in the corner of his eyes. His face is pulled tight. It’s probably contorted in a way that’s all kind of ugly. It’s taken every ounce of strength he has to keep them from spilling down his face. If he started, he wouldn’t know how to stop.

“I wouldn’t worry about it. We will find a solution for the sequence when I see you on Friday.”

Yuri sees a long then hand enter the frame and slap Viktor on the chest. “Viktor!” Yuri hadn’t been in frame thus far. He didn’t even know he was in the room with Viktor. The disembodied Yuuri voice sounds scandalized.

“What Yuuri? We’ll work through this. We always do. We got you to do the quad flip, and we’ll get Yurio through this short program as soon as he gets back to St. Petersburg.”

This time the hand crawls across Viktors chest, seeks out a nipple through his shirt, and twists hard. “Viktor stop talking.”

 “Ah, Yura, why?”

Yuuri switches to Japanese assuming that Yuri’s either rusty or not as fluent as he really is. He can catch most of the words, even though they’re nothing more than a growl between gritted teeth. “He’s not upset about the jumps Viktor.”

Yuri powers through a hasty, “Bye-see-you-Friday-asshole.” Then he chucks the phone. He’d like to think that he’s calming down with time though. He makes sure to aim it at the sofa.

Yuri refuses to let the tears come. He darts into the kitchen and splashes water against his face until the heaviness and the pressure in the corners of his eyes lessen. Nobody’s fucking dying, and it’s not like Otabek’s breaking up with him. Plus, they still have a few days together. So despite just how fucked he really is, he’s got to keep it together.


On the side yard of Otabek’s complex, in between the main entrance and the back courtyard, there’s a faucet. It’s old, and rusted, and the knob on the faucet has long been broken off. Instead, there’s a pair of channel locks clasped to the stem, and the unspoken rule that it’s not supposed to be used unless absolutely needed.

One afternoon, Otabek’s upstairs neighbor’s car overheats on the street. She’s got the baby, and the older one who has a thick mop of curly brown hair. Otabek still can’t tell if the child is a boy or a girl. She says something about her husband being in Dubai until the end of the week on business. He doesn’t really think about it much. He simply says he’ll do his best to make sure she won’t have to have it towed.

Otabek uses the stockpot he keeps in the kitchen; but never uses, to gather water to pour into the radiator. He suspects it has a hole in it, so there’s no point in running down to the store to get antifreeze.

The spigot is so corroded, he has to throw a tremendous amount of strength into it to turn the faucet on. After the vessel is filled, he throws his entire body weight into trying to turn it back off. Except, it doesn’t turn off. What’s left of the old lead pipe snaps off in his grasp, and water spews everywhere.

The side walk gets flooded, and the water starts pouring into lowered stairway to the basement. Otabek has to call the super, and the super has to shut it off at the main line.  It wasn’t his fault; it was inevitable. There was the overwhelming sense that he still had to work on his neighbor’s car despite the issue at hand. There was an overwhelming sense of relief that something was finally being done about it.

That’s what it felt like the night that Yuri casually asked him if he, “wanted to,” after they went to the fountains.  

There’s a gaping and undeniable hole in his resolve. He’s bound and determined to be swept away by Yuri at every opportunity despite the fact that the upcoming season looms on the horizon like big snow peaked mountains.

At the back of his mind the very real, and increasingly palpable question looms. How will he turn the faucet off that Yuri ripped open? How will calls, messages, and blink and you’ll miss them meetings at events even begin to touch the over-indulgent existence they have now?

He’s bound and determined to be swept away by Yuri at every opportunity, so it’s frustrating when he wakes up on the second to last day and Yuri isn’t by his side.

There are no infuriatingly soft kitten licks on his hip bone. There is no nose buried in the crook of his neck tickling him awake. There is no Yuri looming over him and desperate to wring passion out of him.

Otabek could feel chilled by this. Could feel slighted, or rejected. But he’s had a lifetime to learn how emotions are strange and dubious things that don’t always lead you down the correct path. Instead, Otabek decides that the best way to confront the heavy feeling in his stomach is to rectify the situation.

He dips a hand into the waistband of his joggers. There’s no denying that he’s a man of habit, and even though it’s been just a few days he’s accustomed to having Yuri…to Yuri having him. Especially in the morning where Yuri so often takes the lead and focuses on his pleasure. As such, it only takes a few languid strokes to bring himself to full attention.

It’s not surprising to find Yuri in the kitchen. He’s standing at the counter arranging summer melon into a bowl. The cutting board and knife are to the side discarded and covered with thick pulpy juice and seeds.

True to almost every other morning in the summer thus far, he’s not wearing much at all. A pair of almost too tight Calvin’s. They’re red with thin white lines. Yuri’s long hair spilling down his back is a vision. It stops and just below it is a swath of smooth skin in-between his hairline and his underwear. Now that he has permission to touch and tease all the while Yuri continues to wear that underwear…It makes his mouth go dry.  The image makes it hard to think about focusing on what Yuri would like. 

He can’t help himself. He closes the distance between them and wordlessly wraps his arms around the other man’s middle. He inhales Yuri’s scent deeply. Quickly he recognizes his own herb scented salve, alongside citrus shampoo. There’s the faint smell of the oatmeal lotion, to which he has almost a Pavlovian response. Lotion means sex.  He murmurs into the soft skin of Yuri’s neck, “I missed you this morning.” The statement is punctuated by the soft rock of his hips into the other man’s ass.

Yuri yelps at the initial contact, but almost immediately retorts. He braces his hands against the counter and pushes back against Otabek’s erection. With a huff he responds, “You’re spoiled.”

Otabek responds in kind by leaving a trail of long gentle kisses from Yuri’s exposed shoulder to his ear. It would be tempting to leave a mark here. Especially with-

Otabek chases the thought from his mind. He doesn’t have to mark Yuri to know that they belong to one another. He tilts Yuri’s chin slightly so that they can kiss on the mouth. Each graze of his lips and smack of the mouth ask wordlessly in response, “who is spoiled?”

He moves his hand from around Yuri’s middle to his chest. He takes time to enjoy the glide of his fingers against lean muscle bound in creamy unblemished skin. He finds Yuri’s nipple with ease.

This is always fun. He tweaks it lightly. Then, he rubs in slow circles.

“Fuck, Beka.” Yuri’s breath comes out in short staccato bursts. It’s good to know that Yuri isn’t the only one that can push their interactions from soft to fiery in seconds.

He rolls the flesh in between his fingertips, which illicit the most amazing little noises from Yuri. Yuri’s not quiet in moments like these, but he is conscious of what he says and what he does. One of the things that Yuri must be very, very conscious of is how he pushes against Otabek’s clothed cock.

Unashamedly Yuri mimics something that they’ve yet to actually do. The action emboldens Otabek. Encourages him to ask what he’s been too afraid to.

Otabek moves onto the other nipple and mouths at the juncture of Yuri’s neck. “Can I try something?”

“Specific as always, Altin,” he huffs.

“If you don’t like it, we’ll stop.”

Otabek kisses his shoulder blade. Then, he sinks down on his knees slowly. He takes the time to kiss each flesh meets bone nodule of his spine until he’s at the small of Yuri’s back and tugging at the waistband to his underwear.  

He can feel Yuri try to turn around, but he holds him firm at the hip. “Stay like this. Put your hands on the counter if you want.”

There’s a very distinct possibility that Yuri will hate this. Yet, the idea won’t leave him alone. As they barrel relentlessly to “all the way,” he’s determined to find all the little pieces that comprise the journey.

He pulls Yuri’s underwear the rest of the way down and lets it fall down to his ankles. Yuri steps one foot out, and the red and white briefs hang like an afterthought on his right foot.

Otabek stares at the discarded garment around Yuri’s ankle for a moment. As much as he loves the image of Yuri pushing his ass against his length or the glimpse of Yuri’s sac through his tightly clenched thighs, there’s something about this too. Something that’s subtle and implied, yet just as obscene as those explicit memories.

He forces the last bit of hesitation from his mind. Otabek grabs Yuri firmly. He takes the time to nip at the skin at the cleft of Yuri’s ass.

“Otabek?”

Otabek parts his cheeks and puts his mouth to Yuri’s skin.

“Holy fuck Otabek. Fuck, fuck, fuck,” and there’s the crashing sound of dishes being knocked into the sink.

“No good?” He rocks back on his heels and gives Yuri space.

“Very fucking okay? Good?” Yuri stammers out like he’s not exactly sure if he knows if it’s good or bad. “Just. Like. Warn a guy first. Okay?” Yuri shoots him a glare over his shoulder.

Otabek scoots back over to Yuri. “I’d like to try again? If that’s okay?”

“What made you even think of this?” Yuri’s got one brow cocked like he’s legitimately scandalized, but the husk of his voice indicates that he might just be impressed.

“I told you I wanted to do everything.”

Yuri nods curtly in response. “I’m ready now.” As an afterthought, “fucking pervert,” is added underneath his breath.

Otabek licks another long experimental stripe from Yuri’s sac to the crest of his tailbone. The taste is not that different from the dark muskiness that he drowns in when he sucks Yuri off. It’s sharper and more intense, but undeniably Yuri.

He repeats the action once more, and then focuses on Yuri’s entrance.

He feels like every lick, every flick of the tongue, and drag of the teeth is a question. “Do you like this Yuri?”

Every stifled moan, gasp, and swear underneath his breath is a response, and he’s just not sure. He is fairly certain that more things get knocked into the sink as Yuri tries to ground himself.

Otabek works at the rim licking and kissing lightly. Then he tests his entrance with his tongue a few times, teasing lightly without applying any real amount of pressure. 

Then, with little warning or change in the long teasing licks he’s been giving, he gets his response. “Beka, you’re so fucking good,” Yuri says in a long slurred drawl like he’s drunk.

Otabek pulls back ever so slightly. He needs to look at Yuri. He needs to make sure that Yuri really means it, and make sure that he hasn’t pushed the other man too far.

Yuri meets his gaze with eyes blown wide with that combination of lust and need and want that only he can bring out in Yuri. It fills him with a strange sense of pride. Not the kind that wells up in the chest, but the primal kind that pulls between his legs.  It spurns him on and makes him need to make Yuri feel the same way he does when they have sex.

Otabek holds Yuri’s gaze long and steady. He can feel the seconds drag by. The clock over the archway into the living room is thunderous over the sound of his and Yuri’s gasps. “Otabek, please,” Yuri all but whines. It’s so different, almost vulnerable in comparison to the half request half commands he’s used to getting.

Wordlessly, his mouth goes back to Yuri’s hole.  He begins applying pressure there in earnest and tries with each movement of his mouth reiterate that yes, he did miss him this morning. He would do anything to have him each and every day, multiple times throughout the day.

No matter what they did, it was never enough, and there was a small silent prayer that he hoped it would never be enough.  

Yuri’s moans are long and low and unfettered. In this moment, Otabek can only believe that Yuri feels the same.

Yuri’s body becomes more pliant under his ministrations. He becomes wet and sloppy and looser, and it’s hard not to ask for more. Otabek feels like Yuri would give it, but he cannot ask. This isn’t about him. It’s about showing Yuri just how dependent upon him he’s become.

Otabek withdrawals his mouth and quickly turns Yuri around. His cock is a brilliant shade of red purple from too much teasing and too little direct attention.

Otabek takes the head into his mouth and flicks at it slowly. The gesture might be considered teasing and cruel.  Yuri doesn’t deserve that. Yet, he still hasn’t quite mastered the relaxed yet furious way that Yuri can take him into his mouth almost, but not completely to the hilt.

“Fucking finally,” Yuri says with an exasperated gasp.

He can feel Yuri’s nails rake lightly against his scalp. Then, in an act that sharply contrasts the tender way he combed through his hair, he curls his fingers deep in Otabek’s hair at the back of his head and tugs.

It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be such a turn on, but it is. He’s at Yuri’s mercy. He has always been at Yuri’s mercy.

“God, Otabek. You’re so fucking pretty.”

He swipes his tongue across Yuri’s ridge. Then, he lets his teeth slide against it just for a moment before he traps Yuri again between his lips.

“Fuck,” Yuri breathes. “And so fucking good. And so fucking beautiful.”

He’s never cared about attention or praise, but this does something too him. Reminds him that his own cock is long ignored, and that he’s just as needy. It makes Otabek moan against Yuri.

Yuri’s hand slides against his cheek. Otabek locks eyes with him and holds his gaze. It’s different from before. Yuri’s body betrays his stare. He’s red from his cheek bones to his collar bones. Still, it doesn’t hide any shred of unapologetic desire, determination…Love? Behind furrowed brows and concentrated green glass eyes.

“Beka,” Yuri’s voice crumbles. The fist in his hair loosens. Yuri tussles his hair in a frenzied kind of way that indicates he’s close. “I’m-Otabek-I’m.”

Otabek works him through it bobbing up and down on Yuri’s length relentlessly until he’s certain that his partner has been milked dry.

Yuri helps him to his feet.

He’s painfully hard, but he doesn’t know what to do or what to ask for. He wanted to make this about Yuri. He succeeded in that goal.

Yuri pushes his pants down past his waist, and wraps an impossibly tight fist around him. “You’re a real piece of work Altin,” he chuckles into Otabek’s ear.

The sound makes the hair on the back of Otabek’s neck stand up. He can count on one hand the amount of times he’s heard Yuri Plisetsky giggle. None of them thus far during sex.

“You used to get your panties in a bunch when I didn’t put clothes on to come out here.” Otabek can feel him smirk against his ear. There’s a feather light chuckle there too, but Yuri marches on like he never skipped a beat. “Now you’re on your knees eating my ass before seven A.M.?”

Yuri’s words grab him by the root of the cock and push him closer and closer toward the edge. “Do you even know what that makes me want to do?” Yuri keeps talking. Yuri keeps stroking. “Me on top of you. You on top of me. I don’t care as long as we’re fucking.”

He wants that too. How could he not? Hearing Yuri say that he wanted the same…With a moan and a final powerful heave of his chest he comes in Yuri’s hand.

After that, they go about their normal routine like nothing ever happened. He brushes his teeth, and then Yuri finally lets him kiss him. It’s long and wet and full of tongue.

Yuri has him sit on the counter, and feeds him pieces of orange and green summer melon. Yuri complains that they’re overripe. He thinks they’re perfect.

“Is there anything specific you’d like to do tomorrow?” He hates to ask, but he needs to know. As dedicated as they are, there’s no way that practice is on the table.

“Is not getting out of bed all day an option? Because-“ Yuri’s voice trails off. There’s more that he wants to say, but if he says it he’ll be unable to put the stopper back on.

Otabek feels the same.

“We can spend a lot of time there. There is one last thing I’d like to do. If you don’t mind?”

Yuri takes a long drink from the coffee mug and barely grimaces at the sugar. He hands it back to Otabek. Without asking about specifics, the other man responds “Yeah, that’s fine.”


“What the actual fuck is this?” Yuri gripes.

Otabek looks to the rope ladder which hangs off a steep rock bluff. The trail leads directly to it. He looks to the ladder, then over to Yuri, and back to the ladder. “The trail.”

“You have got to be fucking kidding me.” In an instant a whole summer’s worth of “oh…oops,” level guilt is stripped away from him. Flooding the bike? The poetry reading? Overwatering? He considers this Otabek getting payback in triplicate.

“Take the last day off of practice he said. It’ll be different he said.  It’ll be romantic he said. Well Otabek!?!” Yuri knows he’s being the kind of irritating and dramatic fuck that usually doesn’t exist when Otabek is around, but the other man has got to cut him a little slack. When Otabek said there was one last thing he’d like to do with him before the summer ended, he considered the options. He thought that it was more likely to be making something new to eat, seeing something inside the city limits, something…sexual. Not climbing up a goddamn mountain.

It doesn’t help that his chest is so fucking tight. Mountain air combined with an overwhelming sense of anxiety that everything just changed, and now it’s going to change again…It feels fan-fucking-tastic (see: awful, like he’s dying).

“If you’re not having a good time, we can go back down.” Otabek responds without making eye contact. He pinches the bridge of his nose and stares down at the well-worn path.

Otabek probably agonized over this for weeks now: what trail to take, what to take with them. He’s own backpack is stuffed with snacks and water. Otabek packed all of himself last night after practice. He knows for a fact Otabek stuffed a blanket in his own backpack in case they wanted to find an isolated place off path and fool around. The fact of the matter is, he’s an asshole, and he needs to calm the fuck down.

Cause if this were any other fucking day in Almaty, he’d be over the goddamn moon. There are wild flowers of every single color and shape. Otabek just walked over to a tree and picked him the biggest reddest apple he’d ever seen. Not from a store. Not from the out-fucking-rageous orchard that his  mother has, just some random tree.

“I’m sorry,” Yuri closes the distance between them with rapid, half jog half steps. He can’t actually run in fear that he’d fall over on this particular steep tract of trail.

“It’s okay.” Otabek takes his hand in his and guides him over a patch of gray craggy rock that interrupts the trail. “We’ll get to the top. We’ll get tired. Then we’ll calm down.” He says it slowly and with that stupid smirk. The one that says, “I know something that you don’t.” He says it like it’s the most natural thing in the world to say.

“You’re trying to wear me out?” Yuri can’t hide the incredulous too high pitch his voice takes on.

“We’re not the kind of people who’d deal well with sitting and thinking about it.”

Oh. So, all of this was a distraction.

It goes silent between them again. They pass a bluff full of ever green trees, a large tract of fluffy white baby’s breath mixed in with yellow buttercups. A falcon circles overhead, and Otabek points her out to Yuri.

He leans on Otabek’s shoulder as they pause to watch the bird. He’s seen this kind of thing in Russia before. He and grandpa used to venture out to the rural parts of Moscow to get fresh cow’s milk directly from the farmer. Grandpa said it would make him grow big and strong.

As such, he’s seen countless birds of prey circle overhead waiting for the right time to strike. Yet, here with Otabek he watches with rapt attention. It’s like he’s seeing it for the first time ever.

The thin mountain air makes him almost forget that it’s supposed to be the dog days of summer. Yuri has on one of Otabek’s pullovers. It’s navy blue with a deep pocket across the middle. Otabek’s wearing the leather jacket. He feels warm. He smells like rosemary, leather, and shaving cream. It could easily be his first day in Almaty, his last, or sometime in the future.

Damnit, Otabek’s right. It’s easier to not think about mushy shit when he’s trying not to roll his ankle on the uneven footpath or scuttle across jagged rocks. Maybe, just maybe, the other man did know something he didn’t know.

Otabek takes the time to pick a few stems of baby’s breath and the butter cups. They go a little further and he collects some wild roses and some kind of weird looking purple things too. In no time he has quite the bouquet assembled.

“Do you have an extra hair tie?”

Yuri pulls one off his wrist with his teeth and hands it to the other man.

Otabek binds the stems together with the elastic band. “Good. When we get back we can press them into the biggest and most boring book I have. You can take it with you so they dry out. Like a souvenir.”

“What makes you think I want a souvenir?”

“You’re always making flower chains.”

“I won’t read the book if it’s boring.”

Otabek nods as if he understands the unspoken connection between the two unrelated sentences and soldiers forward.  “We aren’t that far from the summit.”

As it turns out, “that far,” is another thirty minutes, but Yuri can’t really say that he minds. He’s able to snap a few photos of Otabek doing really manly shit like clearing branches out of the pathway and using a stick to tear down errant spider webs in the path.

He’s also able to convince Otabek to take a few photos for him. There’s one of him holding the little bouquet of flowers, one of him posing up against a craggy rock wall like some kind of Vouge model, one of him just trying to heft his backpack up a particularly steep area.

He’s gonna spam up Instagram so hard when they get back down to 4G territory.

Otabek doesn’t need to announce when they’re at the top. The trail abruptly ends, and it becomes very apparent that they’ve made it.

 Yuri has “summited” exactly one mountain before. In Hasetsu the temple that Viktor likes to send him to is on top of a “mountain” but after making the forty minute trek more times than he can count, he’s come to think of it as more of a glorified hill. In a glaring bit of oversight the temple was built on the other side of the mountain facing away from the city. You literally cannot even see the damn castle. Whatever view there could be of elsewhere in Kyushu is obstructed by large and overgrown maple trees.

Needless to say, it doesn’t compare at all to the view here. In almost any direction he can see taller, snow capped mountains that dip into the clouds. Hasetsu aside, his time is divided between huge cities. Because of the smog and the buildings that reach for the skyline, he can’t remember the last time he’s seen a sky so blue and so clear. In the distance there is an unexpected wooden building with a green roof. There are twin domes on the building each adorned with a brilliant gold cross on the top.

Without taking his eyes off the scenery, he closes the short distance between himself and Otabek and wraps his hands around his boyfriend’s waist.

“Glad we kept going?”

“Yeah.”

Yuri decides that he likes being taller than Otabek. He can bend down and kiss him effortlessly.


Otabek decides that there are times where he doesn’t mind being shorter than Yuri now. This is one of them.

They kiss for a long time. The kisses are closed mouthed, cautious, but not urgent. Like they have all the time in the world. They kiss until he can see that Yuri’s lips are darkened. They kiss until the monastery in the distance roars to life. The sound of the bells rip through the mountainside and deafen them.

“Would you like to have lunch? We can buy tea and hot water from the monks here.”

Yuri nods.

Lunch is nothing extravagant. He has a roll for each of them left over from Yuri’s latest attempt at borscht and a small piece of kazy to split between them too. There are dried dates and nuts and of course more apples fresh from the trees. The monks offer neither honey nor lemon with the tea that they buy. It’s bitter, and a little bit weak.

It might be the best meal Otabek’s had in some time. Everything that Yuri makes is delicious. There’s no doubt that the physical demands he makes of his body each day leave him very, very ready for dinner every night. Yet, there’s something undeniably satisfying about the way the cool mountain air gradually works a strong and powerful hunger into his gut. There’s something equally satisfying about the way this simple food is able to satiate it.

“Otabek?” Yuri says it in a dark and serious tone despite the syllables coming from behind a mouthful of bread. “Are you properly distracted?”

Otabek smiles. His gaze drifts from Yuri, to the monastery, to the peaks off in the distance. He wants to be honest. He wants to choose his words carefully. For himself, the trek up the mountain was a reminder that it was an honor to be back at home. He worked hard for this. No matter how much love he felt for Yuri, no matter how much he’d silently entertained the thought for the past few weeks, it would be imprudent to follow him to Russia.

He'd do it without being asked. That’s how often he thought of it.

For Yuri? Maybe this was a bit of the same. A silent plea to not ask anything of him that he could not give, but desperately wanted to.

No. That wasn’t the only reason he wanted to come here. He wanted to say something, but was it not obvious?

From the moment that he asked him to come to Almaty? Even if it was not obvious then, wasn’t it obvious now?

“We haven’t taken photos together. We should.”

Yuri raises a single eyebrow in confusion.

“You like that.”

“Kay,” Yuri nods as if he finds Otabek’s non-response to his question almost acceptable.

They take most of them on Otabek’s phone. The assumption is that he hates photos. The truth is that he doesn’t mind them. He just doesn’t always agree with posting them. Some things are meant to be private.

They take a couple sitting on the large rock turned pic-nic table and a few more by the apple trees. They ask a monk to take their photo in front of the monastery. There are a handful of photos of them kissing on the cheek, the nose, the mouth, and all too soon the phone is discarded for more kissing.

The deeper needier nature of their kisses imply that it’s time to begin their descent.

It takes over two hours to get back down the mountain. They don’t speak at all, but a single sentence hammers through his mind and into his skull. Say it, and say it now.

He doesn’t until they can see the bike parked just a few meters away in the distance. He tightens his grip on Yuri’s hand.

“What’s up Beka?” Yuri asks when he stops moving forward, but keeps the hold on his hand tight.

Otabek tucks a stray strand of hair away from Yuri’s face.  “You know that I love you right?”

Yuri makes a soft snorting sound. The one he makes whenever he thinks that Otabek’s done something just slightly stupid. His heart drops. “Finally deciding to say it when I’m fully awake huh?”

He heard that? He understood that? It didn’t stop after the first time they made love. He says it often after Yuri’s breathing has evened out and there’s nothing but silence between them. He says it in Kazakh on the off chance that Yuri would wake.

Yuri’s slightly annoyed scowl shifts into a wide grin. It would be frightening if he hadn’t already been on the receiving end of the rare expressions before. “ Мен де сені жақсы көремін.”

I love you too.  Yuri responds in near perfect Kazakh.


 

“Otabek?” Yuri’s voice is deep and throaty. He already knows what’s going to be asked of him. He’s not sure if it was training yesterday, or the hike today, or a combination of both. His muscles were screaming at him for mercy when they returned to the apartment.

Yuri brought in the vanilla scented pillar candles from the living room. There are a couple on the desk, and a few on the dresser. There’s lotion everywhere: on his back, on his buttocks, on his thighs. Yuri has indulged every tired an aching muscle on his body with kisses and rubs. It would be a lie to say that his body hasn’t responded. It’s almost as if this were planned.

Would it not be appropriate to indulge Yuri too?

“Can we try?” He can feel the ends of Yuri’s hair tickle his back. The feeling shoots down his spine and goes unexpectedly lower. “Like I said the other morning. I don’t care how.”

But it’s clear in the feather light touches across the cleft of his ass that Yuri favors one over the other right now.

There’s a very loud and very vocal part of his brain that’s berating him for not stopping at the pharmacy on the way home. He’s never been with anyone. Neither has Yuri, but there’s the assumption that they need condoms and something better than lotion.

Otabek turns to his side slightly. He catches sight of Yuri looking at him with dark and possessive eyes. He’s biting his lower lip like he’s trying to hold something in. Can’t wait any longer.

Otabek decides that he can’t either.

“I can receive.”

Yuri responds with a long and lingering kiss. Yuri’s kisses, especially by the time their clothes are off, are usually harsh and demanding.

Yuri’s words shoot straight to his cock, cloud his vision, and make him throw any shred of hesitation he might have had out the open window. “You’re so good for me Otabek.”

Yuri’s fingers are long, slender, cool to the touch even if he’s been wearing gloves out on the ice. Inside of him they feel impossibly wide and branded iron hot. It’s hard to think about the increasingly needy kisses Yuri peppers across his mouth and skin. It’s even more difficult to think about the featherlight touches Yuri gives to his cock to keep him hard and anxious. Not with his fingers there.

They don’t hurt, but he’s still confused why someone would want this for any reason other than pleasing their partner.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine.”

Yuri pushes Otabek’s hair off of his forehead and back against his sweat slicked skin. “You sure?”

“Feels weird.”

“Beka,” Yuri traces his rim with his thumb. That undeniably feels good. It offsets some of the pressure. “I want this to be good for you.”

Yuri twists his fingers and hits something deep inside. That contained the tiny white hot sparks of something that might feel good too. “It’s fine. Keep doing that.”

He pushes and pulls against the sheets and Yuri’s fingers for what feels like hours. He writhes and moans and all but forgets his name. Then as suddenly as it all began, Yuri withdrawals, and enters him slowly.

Apparently not slowly enough. Otabek can feel him twitch and pulse before he’s even seated properly inside. He all but screams, “fuck!” as he comes. This is of course followed by “God fucking damnit,” when he pulls out.

“It’s fine Yuri.” He runs a hand across the soft flesh of Yuri’s inner arm.

“I know it’s fine, I just wanted to-“ the end of the statement dries on Yuri’s lips. His soft pink tongue darts out to lick his lips. “I mean I guess we technically did.”

Yuri tries to clean him up the best he can. Then, Otabek turns over on his back and gives his cock a few pumps. It’s unfortunate, but he understands. Prep took forever, and all he really wants is to come.

“You can do it to me,” Yuri says as he takes his dick in his hand.

“I just want to come.”

“I know. You were so good for me though Beka.”

Yuri takes him between soft lips and drinks him all the way down. He comes in seconds.

A few hours later, Yuri suggests they try again. He offers to bottom. Otabek declines. Their first attempt was messy. They really need real lube, and real condoms and no pharmacy around here is open at one in the morning.

They spend all night drifting in and out of uneasy states of half sleep. Yuri rakes his nails against his scalp and run his fingers through his hair until he closes his eyes. They’ll jerk back open when Yuri wraps his hands around his middle. Otabek whispers all sorts of foolish things to Yuri in Kazakh. Yuri complains that he can barely understand any of it.


 

Yuri doesn’t cry when he straddles the bike for the final time that summer, and Otabek takes him to the airport. He doesn’t cry when they hug and kiss goodbye right before the security checkpoint. He doesn’t cry when he haphazardly walks backwards to stare at Otabek as he makes it through the security line and into the terminal.

When he’s finally able to board, he immediately wraps himself up in the thin blanket provided to travelers in business class and immediately asks for another. He hates the clammy feeling of recycled air being pumped over his skin at near freezing temperatures.

Yuri goes to put his phone on airplane mode. There’s a single notification, a text message from Otabek. “Can I post this?”

He’s attached a photo from yesterday. They’re sitting on the rock they had lunch on. Yuri has the now flattened bouquet of wildflowers sitting across his lap. Otabek is leaning up against his shoulder. For it being a photo of Otabek, one that he took himself no less, he looks good. He doesn’t carry the almost constant stiffness he has in his shoulders and expression with him all the time. He’s not smiling, but Yuri can tell that he’s happy.

“Sure.”

It’s selfish. He should let the other man decompress. He should too, but, “I miss you already.” He double texts.

“Same.”

“Gotta turn this fucker off.” Yuri puts his phone on airplane mode.

He’s almost grateful they didn’t sleep last night. He passes out before takeoff and doesn’t wake until they have descent related turbulence.

His phone gets turned back on as soon as the wheels touch down at LED. He has like six texts from Viktor, one from Yuuri, three missed calls from Yakov and two from Lila. None from Otabek. Makes sense, he told him he was turning his phone off. He does have an Instagram notification though.

@otabek-altin tagged you in a photo.

  “Visit again any time @yuri-plisetsky. From #Almaty, with love.”

Yuri starts bawling like a fucking baby.

 

Chapter Text

Where he comes from, you don’t really talk about “addiction.”

He can vaguely remember when grandpa finally quit smoking. He was 8 or 9. It was after mama…He decided that he wanted to live for as long as possible. Yuri can remember how he placed a rubber band around his wrist each morning, and put a few in his pocket in case the first one broke. Once every thirty minutes or so, he’d pull the band tight and far from his wrist. He’d let it snap a few times until there were bright red welts against his wrist. Yuri asked him if it hurt.

Dedushka responded, “It’s worth it. Even better if you never start.”

In his family, they don’t really talk about “addiction.”

Yuri doesn’t remember much about his father. He can remember one time when he was five or six his mama had let him come back home. He wanted to get clean. He said that he meant it.

He shook and swore and cried and screamed on his mother’s bed for days. He wasn’t supposed to see, but he did. Saw him emerge from the bedroom and stagger into the bathroom. It’s something he would never forget. His skin was tinged gray, and his eyes were yellowed like the sallow smoke and water stained wallpaper in the bathroom. The burgundy shirt that he wore was soaked through with acrid sweat.

He really shouldn’t compare it to that.

He does anyway because that’s what it feels like when he wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. An addict, someone who craved regardless of consequences.

Night time was the worst for these feelings. A cursory glance at the four-poster bedframe the roar of the air conditioner make it immediately clear that he’s no longer in Almaty. It’s even worse on those rare mornings when he drifts awake naturally and doesn’t quite know where he is yet. Between sleeping and wakefulness, he swims through the sheets to the other side of the bed in search of Otabek. When his arms never reach solid warm muscle, it becomes abundantly clear that Otabek is a whole other country away.  

He throws himself back into skating.  It’s the only other thing in his life that feels half as compulsory. The only thing that makes the combination of thundering tightness and hollowness in his chest subside. Even if it’s just in the split-second moments between going into a jump, throwing away every thought in his brain while he does rotations, and landing. He’ll go around as quickly as he can for another jump because all too quickly the thoughts come back.


 

Otabek was able to jump back into his pre-summer routine with minimal effort. Life returns to being simple. He knows what to expect when he rounds the corner and goes into the kitchen (no one). He knows who is cooking dinner that night. It’s him. There is no one else there to share the responsibility with. He knows which seat he’ll be able to grab on the couch (whichever he wants). He knows for a fact that no one has overwatered the plants, and no one has flooded the bike. For the most part, he knows what to expect on ice. The short program is going well…the free skate needs work so he can peak at worlds. Now that there’s no reason to go to the fountains, or the market to pick up an extra ingredient for whatever it is that Yuri might have wanted to make, he’s even able to get in another off ice session on most days.

Everything is the same as before the summer. That’s the problem.

Otabek misses Yuri ever day. There is no question about this. It just so happens to manifest itself differently day after day. It leaves Otabek shaken to the core and confused each time. Yesterday, he felt a pang of sadness when he rode past a Chinese market on the drive to meet his family at a restaurant for dinner. The day before, he found a long errant blonde hair in bed, even though he’s washed his sheets multiple times since Yuri’s departure. Today he got onto YouTube to look at a video Farida had suggested for him.

In his suggestions box there was an image of pair skating at worlds last year. The image thumbnail was a death spiral. That too caused a tightness in his chest. He wonders what kind of strange way his brain will make him miss the other man in tomorrow.

He fixates on one of the earlier conversations he and Yuri had at the start of the summer. He was on the floor stretching. Yuri was applying pressure.

“Do you ever feel lonely?” Yuri asked.

“Maybe, but there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely.”

The feeling starts at the base of his back and spreads across the expanse of his back. It’s an endlessly slow drag that begins when he starts his on ice sessions. The feeling grows and grows until she’s latched on around his shoulders and has him in a full embrace. Weighs him down when he tries to read and make dinner.

Simply put, Otabek was alone before. Now, that has changed. He’s lonely.


 

“I’m-“ Otabek pinches his lips together into a firm line and then softens his expression once more. He’s confused. “Not sure if I understand what you mean.”

It took two months for them to build a routine. Wake, run, off ice session, on ice session, shower, dinner, movie, sex, sleep. It takes a week after he leaves to build a new one and work out all the kinks.

For him Otabek is the first person he sees or hears in the morning. Even if it’s just for a few minutes they call or face time.

For Otabek he’s the last person he hears or sees before going to bed at night. Even if he has to wait for his shower, they try to get another call or facetime in too.

“Like when cutlet and Viktor got together, they couldn’t stand to be apart. It was nauseating. Like get over it. Go fuck yourself” Yuri pinches his face together in disgust. Otabek wasn’t really around to see all that, but what more explanation did he need.

His unresponsive stare indicated that maybe he needed to use more words. Talking about feelings…especially feelings other than, “I love you,” and “I want you to take your pants off,” was way too hard.  

 “Like neither of them was dying. They weren’t breaking up. They would see each other again. So I feel like I should just get over it. But now I feel so shitty.” Yuri makes a waving motion with his hands. “It’s getting better. Like, first few days…all the time. Now? I don’t even know if it’s most of the time. Life just feels significantly shitter when you’re not here.”

“You’re allowed to feel how you feel Yuri.” Otabek’s mouth tugs into a half smile. It’s the one that’s reserved for Farida when she’s being precocious. The one that says, “I relate to this…kind of.” He reaches off frame. He returns with one of his teddy bears. It’s bigger than the usual ones he pulls from the kiss and cry right away, but he doesn’t doubt that it was given to him by a fan. “I haven’t put sugar in my coffee in days.”

“Well that’s good cause you don’t need it.”

Otabek, in a blink and you’ll miss it dismissal, squints his eyes at Yuri in frustration. “I have so many leftovers. And,” he gestures to the stuffed bear that takes up most of his lap and presses up into the screen. “I’ve found a poor replacement for you at bed time. He doesn’t kick or steal covers or anything.”

“Replaced?” Yuri tries to mask the tinge of super irrational jealousy he feels for a toy. Still the next time he’s in Almaty he’s going to take such satisfaction in shoving that bear back into the fucking coat closet.

“You replace me, and Princess won’t even acknowledge me.”  He rolls his eyes. “Fucking perfect.”

Despite Otabek’s attempt at validating his feelings, anything off rink feels completely wrong when he gets back home.

Princess Organ Grinder (Pog for short) oscillates between meowing her fucking brains out non-stop to hiding underneath his bed. Despite his numerous apologies, catnip treats, and tins of tuna she won’t sit on his lap or crawl up on his chest before bed time. He’s lucky to get one or two pats in when she comes out for food.

When Yakov talks to him, it’s in a calm voice that isn’t the slightest bit raised. Even more frightening, his skin doesn’t even turn that heart attack shade of purple-beet red. Even when he screams at Mila, “Go fuck yourself hag,” during a break one afternoon, he maintains an even tone in voice and complexion.

It’s totally his fucking fault. Morbid curiosity and a tinge of “things he already fucking knew” got the better of him.

Mila was on Tinder vocalizing about her prospects, “Left, left, ew left, ew, left, is that the laundromat attendant? Leee----rigghhht.”

“Why haven’t I really seen you dating anyone after that hockey douche?”

Mila moves her phone away from her face and sticks her tongue out like she’s gagging. “Sven? Gross.”  Her attention is pulled back to the phone. “I don’t know if I’d ever date another athlete Yura. I mean, it is nice when they understand that you really can’t have a fucking cookie, and you’re not being prissy. But we’re so…” She rotates her wrists in slow circles while she thinks of what to say. “Needy? I dunno. It’s hard to support somebody emotionally and think about winning. Then again, I can’t say I’d want a “normal person” either.” She sets her phone down on the railing. “Like they don’t understand that this is a real job? I dunno. I’d maybe see a sweet college boy.”

“You just want a free tutor.” She’s failed chemistry three times.

“It’s better than other options. Like my cousin introduced me to this guy on the Latvian curling team when I went home last Christmas?” She fans herself and lets her eyes roll back in a faux swoon. “But like, long distance? You wanna talk about setting something up to fail right away.”

“I don’t think-“

“It really was though Yuri. It was too tempting for me to get back on Tinder, and HIM oh my god. He’d miss all our Skype dates to go drinking.”

“Let’s talk about something-“

“Because that’s what you do when you go curling. It’s game with drinking that you can medal in at Pyeon-“

 “Go fuck yourself hag.” The words tear out of his throat before he can even stop himself. He yells so hard his throat stings.

He knows it’s his fault. Despite all the rumors, and damn are there plenty of them…Him and Otabek are far from public. She had no idea.

“You need to apologize to Mila.”

Yakov has been busting up fights between them for years now. It’s one of the few times he’s done it without yelling or jumping in and throwing his own meager little old man blows.

“I know,” followed by, “I am.” it’s one of the first times he does what Yakov says without putting up a fight.

He wishes it were under any other circumstance, because he can’t even fully enjoy the sight of Yakov’s jaw hitting the floor.

He doesn’t learn after that experience with Mila. He just keeps running his fucking mouth.


 

One afternoon he just whips out his phone in the middle of what was supposed to be practice for a step sequence. He texts Yuuko, “How do you and Takeshi stay together?”

He glides over to the far end of the rink. It doesn’t stifle Yakov’s angry shouts at all. At least he’s back to treating him normally.

That’s not exactly the right question, but he can’t find the correct one. He doesn’t want to know how they got together, why they got married, or even how they stay together. He knows that he and Otabek want to stay together…If they were together in person he’d just ask her point blank, “how?” How do they do any of it? All of it?

She’d start talking and wouldn’t shut up until he felt better. She’s awful like that.

His phone vibrates in his hand. “Wanna know kid?”

Before he can type out a, “yes.” She double texts. “Real romantic. The secret to any lasting relationship.”

Yuri leans over his phone with excitement and watches the “typing” bubbles flash across the screen.

“He knocked me up.” Followed by an immediate. “The triplets would kill a single parent.”

Yuri slams his phone down on the rail and goes through his step sequence twice just to get Yakov to shut up and to get Otabek out of his mind. When he goes back for it there’s another text. “If you wanna talk about it for real, call me sometime.”

He keeps going. Who cares? He’s confused.

He waits for a Saturday night when Lila removes the large crystal decanter from the buffet and pours herself a rare second drink. It’s mostly soda water and ice with a splash of gin.

He asks her while she’s still at the buffet. She’s stirring the “cocktail” if it can even be called that with a long silver instrument that reaches down to the bottom of the long Tom Collins glass and pokes at the furthest cubes. “Why did you and Yakov get divorced?”

He's not going anywhere, Otabek’s not going anywhere, but at some point those busted old codgers were just as in love…Yuri swears he can feel the acrid sting of bile rising on the back of his throat at the thought, but it was true. They had to have been just as in love as he is with Otabek now at some point. So what gives?

Lila drains the drink in one go.  The ice clinks against the bottom of the glass when she places it back down on the counter. She makes herself another one wordlessly.

Yuri has seen her have two. Two drink Lila is fucking wild. Two drink Lila does batshit stuff like have him set up the super 8 so they can watch Yakov’s old tournament videos from the sixties. Fucker’s almost pushing 30 in those videos, and sometimes lands his doubles. Yet, he’s a living goddamn legend. Two drink Lila craves cake and asks him all sorts of nonsense like, “do eggs go in this? What about milk? Help me Yura.”

He’s never seen Lila have a third drink.

“You should ask why we got married Yuri. That’s a much better story.”

“Okay Baba. Tell me that.”

“I grew up in Moscow too you know.”

Yuri nods. He’s pretty sure he’s heard that before.

“I had given my best performance of my life at the Bolshoi. Afterward there was a big party. All night, men offered to dance, to bring me champagne or cigarettes. Do you think that anyone offered me a bite to eat Yuri?”

Yuri digs his sock clad feet into the carpet. He can only assume the answer is no.

“Hours at this party. I couldn’t break away from them. I couldn’t be rude, these were important people in film and art and the government. I was so hungry. I hadn’t eaten anything at all that day. Nerves. As I moved through the throngs of people another man approached me. My first thoughts were, “Lord, please no not more drivel.”

Yuri would echo that sentiment, if he weren’t fucking terrified. Some people think that Lila’s scary when she’s barking orders in the studio or at the rink. None of that compares to when she softens up. Right now? Her pinched expression is more relaxed. He’d never call her narrow eyes doe like but they shine with something that’s more gentle than he’s ever seen before. She’s almost smiling.

It makes him wanna high tail his ass to the nearest cathedral and douse himself in holy water. He’s seen enough movies. This is how you get the baba’s curse.

“To my surprise Yuri, this man…He would’ve been handsome if he hadn’t been red and sweaty, but you know how winter is in Moscow. The radiators were on full blast. He hands me a plate with bruschetta and he says, “eat this, you look like death.” And then he follows it up immediately with, “I didn’t get any tartare, it’s garbage.”

“So romantic.” He can see Yakov stuffing his face at a party though instead of mingling.

“I’m not finished Yuri. I found his actions wonderful, amazing even, but I did not find him beautiful at the time. My boyfriend at the time took me to Prauge for holiday. Through a friend we were able to get into Worlds.”

“The first one they ever held? Back with woolly mammoths and shit?”

Lila doesn’t even bat an eye at the statement. “I see this man, he skates so beautifully I have to meet up with him. Let me tell you Yuri.” She jabs a long white fingernail at the table cloth. “When a Prima Ballerina of Bolshoi asks to see you. She sees you! We met, and lo and behold!” She claps her hands together. “It’s bruschetta man! Yuri he turned so red when he realized who I was and that we were at that party…I managed to escape my boyfriend that afternoon and asked if he would have lunch with me.”

“That’s anti-climactic.” Yuri’s eyes roll into the back of his head. Only Lila could make a story involving a high ranking ballerina and Worlds boring, yet here they are.

“Without knowing me, he was able to offer me exactly what I needed. I felt touched. Everyone else offered me things they wanted me to have. Drinks, cigarettes, whatnot. He actually thought about what I, as a person needed.” She nods in satisfaction at her own words. She takes a sip of her drink gingerly.

“I forgot about all of that relatively quickly. So did he. I had a miscarriage, and it was hard to think about what the other person needed. We isolated ourselves from one another.”

That sinking, weighted feeling of, “wow you’re an ass,” creeps up into Yuri’s shoulders and drags down his spine. He shouldn’t have asked.

“Yuri, I’ve had too much to drink. Will you draw me a bath?”

“No way baba. That’s how decrepit babas drown in the tub. You’re sleeping in your filth tonight.”


 

Against his better judgement, Otabek asks his mother.

That is to say, he chooses his words very, very carefully.

He’s wrapped up in his leather jacket like usual, but there’s no hiding the red and white collar of the track jacket he’s got on underneath. He’d like to think that Yuri left it on purpose. Sure, by the end of his stay the top drawer of his dresser had been all but commandeered by the other man. However, very garment was removed by the day he left, except for the jacket.

Mother’s home is at a higher altitude than his own apartment in the city, and the extra layer is welcome. Today it feels more like October, when Autumn has really had a chance to seep into the trees, the dirt, and the air.

It’s late September, which means there are more fruit on the grounds than they can eat. More fruit than can be carried away by the workers that mother hires to come in and pick the fruit and have it processed.

Mother suggested that they go out to the orchards and pick some fruit in order to give Yusef his privacy for planning this week’s lecture.

Which was a tasteful way of saying to him and Farida, “Children if I hear you butcher Grosse Fuge one more time I’m going to kill you.”

“Beka, you’re not so productive.” She says as she deposits more apples to her basket. They’ve got the hand cart, several baskets, as well as the two meter ladder which is currently balanced up against a tree. Otabek refused to bring a longer one. Seeing Farida on the shorter ladder was enough give him palpable anxiety.

“Perhaps this tree is not so good.”

“Hm.” She hums dryly.

Between the two of them grows a strong and very lived in silence. One that has been picked up and abandoned, picked up and abandoned over and over again for decades now.

On the other hand Farida talks about anything and everything. “I want to go skating with you Beka.” And, “Where will you be assigned for the Grand Prix?” And, “Mom, can we buy a harpsichord?” And, “Otabek, if you’re not in competition, will you come home for your birthday?” And, “I want a Team Russia jacket too. Can I have one?”

It’s that particular statement that makes him choke on his spit and wheeze like a man with emphysema trying to make it up the steps of President’s park.

Luckily, Farida soon changes the subject again. “Can we make fruit tarts with the apples? What about apple butter? Do we still have the cider press?” Somehow none of this superfluous chatter inhibits Farida from picking her weight in apples in the same amount of time it takes him to collect a few dozen.

“Mother,” he breathes out long and low through his nose. Carefully. These words must be chosen with the utmost of prudence. “When you met Yusef, we still lived in Paris right?” Otabek finds it hard to determine time spent there from time in Germany and Vienna. What good is the world, when the world is little more than concert halls and drawing rooms?

“That is correct.”

He swallows thickly. He reaches for more fruit on the tree so that he has something to do with his hands while he tries to string together a statement that is both coherent and inoffensive. “And he was on fellowship there at the time?”

“Yes, a visiting lecturer on three-year fellowship. Very prestigious. If you’d like to talk to him about his time at the university-“  There’s the underlying assumption that when his career as an athlete is finished, he’ll go back to school.

“I’m wondering, how you dealt with going back home when he was still on fellowship.” He can remember their wedding in Paris. A small stuffy room with eight or ten people. A chandelier with hundreds of individually lit candles. A reading from the works of Omar Khayyam by Yusef, and then his mother played piano.

His mother halts her descent down the ladder. “You’re being quite forward today Otabek.”

Forward? He’s asking how she dealt with leaving her new husband in France for two years after she lost her first husband a few years before. He’s not being forward. He’s being crass.

“It is merely time Otabek.” She finishes stepping down to the ground and wipes her hands on her long lapis blue skirt. “It will pass whether you’re together or not.”

It goes silent between them once more. Even Farida has quieted down. There’s always been a tension between them in finding the balance between what has been said and what has not.

He’s surprised when she speaks again. “You should be prepared for what happens in that time, regardless.”

Otabek rides home with a rucksack full of apples and dates. He wonders if they can be shipped by mail.


 

It’s not all gloom and doom and sad masturbating in the shower.

The ache is still undeniably there, but the looming Grand Prix series acts as a damn good distraction. Their video chats, texts, and Instagram tags are steady. Their content becomes more predictable. The interactions slowly, but surely glide back into what is uniquely, “them.”

"Your list," Yuri punctuates the statement with a smack of his lips as he bites down into half eaten apple he carried in from the kitchen. He knows it's fucking gross, but these apples are on a whole other level. 

They're finally getting to a place where the silences between them feel comfortable and lived in like when they were together. At first it was different with a screen separating them. Less intimate, like their attention was sucked elsewhere. Now? He can get up and leave the room for a snack, Otabek can check the news on his tablet for awhile. 

“Hm?” 

They’ve found little ways to keep sane. Yuri may or may not have started a very popular JJ meme on a Russian image board. He sends them to Otabek all the time. Otabek started a list on Google spreadsheets. Yuri titles it “Sappy Shit to Do.” It has a column for each of them.

“ Did you add more shit? It’s getting way too long. We’ll never get through it all.”

Currently Otabek’s list contains the following: skate at Medeu, visit Astana, see St. Petersburg, see Moscow, go camping overnight, see an opera at La Scalla, see any opera together, go on boat together, dance together, go swimming, attend Farida’s high school graduation and many many others. Some of them come with conditions. For example hookah is followed by , “after retirement”.

Yuri’s list albeit shorter, is just as meaningful. Gold and silver at Bejing (order not specified), Gold and silver at the GPF (you know what fucking order Otabek), feed Beka Fugu in Osaka (and not kill him), onsen, cheesy fucking holiday to Hakone, wear yukata, St Petersburg, Moscow, crazy European night clubs, go on a shrine pilgrimage, get motorcycle license.

“We might. It will just take a while.”

Right. Cause Farida just turned eleven, so high school graduation was off the table for what, six more years? More importantly, ”you added “visit Graceland”. I’m sorry, I draw the line there.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“I’m not going to Graceland. I put my foot down there.”

“I’m not completely sold on going to South Africa on a safari either, but I’d try.”

Yuri shoves his face into the crook of his elbow and growls. “Let’s start with stuff that’s possible.” He opens the spreadsheet and tabs down Otabek’s list. “Take public transportation together in Japan.”  Worlds was in Saitama that year. He clutches his hand to his heart. “Wow you really went for sappy.”

“It’s feasible,” Otabek responds dryly.

“I don’t like JR, it’s really crowded,” he mumbles softly. He has bad memories of getting crushed into a middle school girl one morning on the Yamanote line when Yuuri insisted they take the train to Narita on the way home from NHK last year. Crushed as in, this-is-why-there-are-women-only-cars kind of crushed.

“What about, “kiss each other on new year’s? That’s pretty sappy from the Russian Punk.” 

“Oh like you don’t wanna do that.” Yuri furrows his brow. Does Otabek know? Does he have any idea that if he were anybody else he’d get hung up on immediately?

“I guess I should send you a valentine or something too.” Otabek scratches his chin. He breaks gaze from his webcam and goes for his phone.

“Ew, gross. Just because we’re going out doesn’t mean we need shitty western-“

“Will you hold on? I’m putting Valentines day in my phone. Send Pliesetsky a card. There. Its marked in my calendar for next year.”

“You’re lucky you’re hot. I wouldn’t put up with this shit if-”

“With lots of…glitter.” He types into the phone. The light of the screen washes out his face and makes him look sickly pale.

“Anyway. I’m reading ANOTHER book.” He really needs to change the subject.

“Oh?” Otabeks face lights up. He puts that shitty smirk he wears to piss Yuri off back in the drawer and pulls out his special occasion smile. The one that’s real and warm and genuine. The one that pulls at the corners of his cheeks and makes his eyes shine. That’s a damn good thing to see, even if it is through a screen. “Which one?”

All Quiet on the Western Front. It’s an eBook.”

Otabek winces.

“I know. I know. I know. It’s also in English too, so it fucks with me hardcore. I read it in English, and think in Russian, but I know they’re talking in German.” 

“Like it so far?”

“It’s okay.” He frowns trying to think of why it’s only okay. It’s not boring by any means. The writing is pretty vivid too.

Otabek chuckles. “I wouldn’t have wanted to read it right after Catch-22.”

Yuri snaps his fingers. “That’s it. That’s the problem with it.”

“Dark humor to just dark…No good?”

Yuri shakes his head from side to side.

“Keep going. There’s this scene with a grave yard. It’s really good.”

“I will. What are you reading now?”

  Otabek’s arm reaches out of frame for a bit. From the angle it looks like he’s reaching for something on top of the dresser. “I have A Room with a View.” He flashes a cover to Yuri. “And A light in August because-“ Otabek shrugs his shoulders.  “I didn’t think about it too hard.”

“You started reading it it in August.”

Otabek nods sheepishly.

It’s with that little stupid nod that Yuri’s almost transported back to the apartment back in Almaty. He misses hogging the whole couch to himself while Otabek sits on the floor and reads. He’d give anything for the soft sound of Otabek exhaling a little bit too hard through is nose when a passage was particularly funny or exasperating.

“Otabek,” Yuri’s face lights up. “We should read something together sometime!”

Otabek furrows his brow and draws his mouth tight like he’s confused. “Like each read a chapter or two a day and talk about it? Or like watch each other read silently on Skype? Or…”

“No, out loud to each other!” Yuri can feel his mouth pull into a smile. It’s too stupid and too cutesy, but the words spill out anyway.  “It would motivate me to read. I could hear your sexy voice when it’s your turn.”

“Okay.” There’s a pause as Otabek reaches back over to the dresser to put the books away. “Get all All Quiet. It’s been ages since I’ve read that.”

“Now? Okay.” Yuri scrambles to find his Kindle. It’s somewhere in the giant nest of blankets, pillows, and discarded clothes. “Princess. Get the fuck off my tablet.”


 

Otabek looks at the screen and purses his lips. Something is not quite right. Is it his hair? No, Yuri’s hair looks the same length. It hasn’t been cut at the very least. His expression? No, Yuri’s a little bit more forlorn than usual, but that’s to be expected.

Grand Prix events were announced, and they don’t have any qualifying events together. Which means its highly unlikely that they will see each other til December. Still, he finds some semblance of satisfaction in the assignments. His first event is Canada. Yuri’s first is France. Leroy’s assigned to Canada and France. The chance to earn the gold just a few weeks before Yuri does the same in France? Let’s just say that his vow to be a humble winner is rendered null and void when the Canadian is involved. On the other hand China? He’d rather be going to NHK with Yuri.

What is it that is different about Yuri?

His eyes drift past Yuri’s chin to his exposed neckline, collarbones and shoulders. His eyes rest on the neckline of the too large mint green sweater he’s wearing.

“Is that sweater…new?”

Yuri scoffs. “This? Viktor took the last of his shit out of storage. I raided it.”

Otabek can feel his mouth twist into a smirk the kind that only Yuri can wring out of him. “I don’t know what I think of you wearing other men’s clothes.”

“Yeah, but Beka,” Yuri leans towards the camera which causes the too large shirt to fall down even lower somehow. He always thought Yuri would be the death of him. Who would’ve guessed it would be Yuri in Russia, specifically. “I just got like sixty thousand rubles worth of “vintage”’ Yuri makes air quotes with his fingers.  “Gucci and Armani for free. Although I don’t know if it’s technically vintage if it’s from 2006”

“So like what, three shirts?”

“Very funny Otabek.”

“Is the bracelet new too?”

Huh?” Yuri perks up and looks to his wrist. “Oh yeah, Viktor asked if I needed a pick-me-up when he was in St. Petersburg. His solution was to go to Cartier. Guess I did.”

Otabek laughs. “Some people drink. Others smoke, or eat…”

“Stuff is forever Otabek.” Yuri rolls his eyes. “I know it’s fucking stupid but-“

 “If you like it, don’t worry about it.” Otabek waves his hand dismissively. He’s not one to talk about his feelings, but Yuri should at the very least understand that what he feels is valid.

“You look really good in it though.” Otabek should quit while he’s ahead. He can feel the red hot creep of a blush drip across the hollow of his cheeks and onto his cheek bones.

“Good enough for you to think about it later?”

“Of course.” Otabek responds without hesitation, knowing exactly what it is that Yuri is asking. 

“Why?” Yuri picks up the floppy shoulder of the sweater and drags it upward on one side, which causes it to fall back down the other. He gets this look on his face that’s positively dangerous. Brow cocked, half smirk, eyes that shone like multifaceted emeralds. It’s the kind of look that ends with him hoisting Yuri up against a fountain or kissing him on the rink. “Would you think about it later Beka?”

Otabek doesn’t respond right away. It feels like every synapse in his brain is misfiring at once. Talking feels like when he’s had a hard day at practice and can’t get the engine on the bike to turn over no matter how hard he kick starts it.

“Huh?” At this point Yuri’s so close to the webcam the swaths of satin skin are no longer in view. Just big green eyes that demand an answer even though they know it already.

Yuri wraps his lips around a neon pink straw. The glint  silver edge of a diet coke can comes into the bottom of the frame.

He can’t even tell if his voice is working. His mouth is moving, but is he actually saying anything? “I practice for you.” He can feel his teeth catch in his lower lip in an attempt to keep himself from saying anything else. It’s not embarrassment exactly. Embarrassment implies a bit of shame and self loathing. He wouldn’t not for something that Yuri made him feel. “So I’m ready for next time...So can last longer.”

Guilt? No that implied there was something to be absolved of. Never. Never with Yuri.

Oh.

It was regret. Regret mixed with longing that he often stretched himself on his own fingers instead of waiting for Yuri to be around to take him apart.

Yuri spews diet coke across the lens of the webcam, and he can only assume his screen and keyboard too. He sputters and coughs. “You can’t just say stuff like that Beka, jeez.” The webcam gets blocked with a crumpled up tissue. Otabek can see Yuri’s hand make back and forth movements as he tries to clean off the screen and the keyboard.

“Would you prefer that I didn’t?” The, “especially when you asked,” part is heavily implied.

“No!”  Yuri’s eyes go wide. It’s the rare expression that he makes when he’s afraid that he’s offended someone. “That’s not what I mean at all.” His expression softens again. The pinched line of his mouth smooths out, and his brow unfurls.  “I mean if you could not bring up that stuff about-“ Yuri looks from side to side as if to make sure there’s no one else in the room (except for maybe Princess).

“You can’t say that when you’re not here, and I can’t do anything about it.” His voice goes low and husky again like it was seconds ago when he was teasing. “I practice too sometimes. So we can try the other way too.” 

Otabek raises a single brow. He can see his image mirrored in the small thumbnail image in the corner of his screen. He can feel the muscles in his jaw and throat clench and restrict. A sharp and demanding heat pools in the bottom of his stomach because that was never really on the table when Yuri was in Almaty. Possible, but nothing planned.

Otabek can feel his heart pounding in the shell of his ears.

“So I can’t say that. But you can?”

“Otabek.” Yuri leans off the edge of his bed. Otabek can see the bare small of his back as his pants ride low and his track jacket rides high. He pulls a clear bottle with a pink cap into the frame. “We should practice for each other.”

"Okay." 


 

Otabek wasn’t being facetious when he told Yuri that some people smoked, others drank, others ate, and perhaps in Yuri’s case, they shopped and rifled through their choreographer’s expensive hand me downs. For him, coping meant letting his mind wander. He pulls details from the past and the present and combines them onto wishful thinking for an unknown future as well as fantastic things that could never actually happen.

After his father passed, it was easier to think about wonderful and unworldly things than reality. One of his favorite ongoing daydreams as a child involved himself showing his father how to skate at Medeu. They’d never gone there while he was living, but in his mind they could easily go any time of year. Father would wear his charcoal pea coat, the one he was rarely without during the winter months in Vienna. Otabek would correct him when he tried to glide on the flat edge of the skate.

Another childhood favorite was to skate upon the stage at the gilded opera houses of Europe. Those made no sense what so ever, and yet he spent a great deal of time creating hybrid houses which featured the marble columns of one house, and the gilded crest of another.

His mind creates a dozen or more unique scenarios for him and Yuri that are both impossible and comforting on nights that they cannot practice together.

He can remember that moving United States wasn’t a big deal. He’d had an English tutor in grade school because mother thought that it was important.  When he landed at DTW with little more than a few hastily packed clothes and his skates, his English wasn’t perfect. He knew enough to get by in polite conversations with his host family.

“My name is Otabek. I’m here for figure skating. I come from Almaty which is in Kazakhstan, but I’ve lived in France, Austria, and Germany. Then Canada, and now America.” And if questioned further he could say with no hesitation what so ever, “I like Almaty best of all.” Of all the awkward and forced conversations he had in English, that part was always sincere.

His host family was an older couple. Joan had been a dance instructor up until a few years before he arrived. Osteoarthritis disks put an end to her being in the classroom every day. Her husband Ethan was a Slavic language instructor at one of the large universities in the area. He said he wanted to retire, but he also wanted to finish his most recent book.

Otabek could never say that he felt at home there. However, it always felt familiar. They lived in a large Victorian style home within the city, even after their adult children begged them to move out into the suburbs.

It was filled with all sorts of antique furniture that could’ve very easily fit into one of the rooms of his mother’s home. There was the dizzying art deco floor tiles in the foyer. A huge Chippendale desk lurked in Ethan’s study.  His own room contained a mohair settee and chair with an accompanying set of mahogany end tables topped with marble.

The very best part of it all was the upstairs bathroom. He can remember taking a bath in the large enamel clawfoot tub and soaking for hours after practice. Even when the water would get cold, he’d simply drain and refill the tub over and over again until it felt like his bones were going to melt.

Then, when he finally dragged himself from the tub. He’d wipe the steam from the thick glass block windows and get dressed.

On the other side of the sink they had an enormous vintage wash stand. It was made of hand carved and stained wood. It had a mirror on the back that was almost as tall as he was. The counter which rose to just below his waist was also topped with marble.

It was upon this marble counter that he’d tape his toes up after practice. After hours of lounging in the too hot bath water, the rest of the house would feel drafty in comparison. So, he’d sit on the low counter of the stand and finish stretching.

After the bathroom is firmly conjured in his mind, his memory takes a sliver from a very strange and very interesting time of his life in Almaty.

Otabek remembers the afternoon that he told Kamilya, his pairs partner that he didn’t want to continue. She was wearing a long white pleated skirt that was made out of a very thin material.  He can recall being able to see the slip underneath. It made him feel like he was about to do something very wrong.

Kamilya didn’t say much in response. She stifled a few tears, smoothed her hands out across the pleats of her skirt, stood, and left. 

It’s the closest thing he’s ever experienced to a breakup.

Finally, his mind pulls an image from his and Yuri’s most recent Skype call.

He imagines Yuri in the mint green shirt that is two sizes too big. His mind puts the bangle on his wrist too. The bangle has a pointed end on one side and a flattened head end on the other like a nail. 

He imagines walking into the old bathroom in Detroit. Yuri leans over the old wash basin. He’s trying to pin back his hair. He’s dressed in the same mint green top and bracelet. Inexplicably, he wears the white skirt from so long ago.

“Ah, Beka,” Yuri barely regards him before going back to the mirror. He applies clear lip gloss with a long sticky wand. “Come here and kiss me?”

Otabek complies. The kiss is long and deep and needy. Just like he’d kiss Yuri if he were really here.

Otabek hikes up the long pleated skirt. It’s shear, and he can tell that Yuri isn’t wearing any underwear beneath. He takes the time to knead and squeeze, and playfully slap the bare skin of Yuri’s buttocks.

“Otabek!”

“Sorry.”

“It’s fine just-“

None of it is real, and every last detail is conjured solely for the flick of his wrist and the feeling of his own skin beneath his palm. Because of this, he can slide into Yuri without worrying about hurting him or coming too soon. He can focus all of his attention on conjuring the image of Yuri’s image flushed and needy in the night stand mirror with the skirt raised high above his hips.


 

Yuri doesn’t just cope with shopping and rifling through Viktor’s things. He pours everything into the upcoming season. So much so that Lila tries to wrestle away his key to the ballet studio. When the hag can’t get the key from him, she changes the locks. But practice is the only thing that abates that nagging feeling of, “what next?”

He sends Otabek a video of his short program performance midway through October. It’s flawless. Whether or not he’s going to beat his Agape score remains to be seen. What he does know is that at the GPF it’s going to be him, then Otabek, and if the bronze goes to JJ he’s going to kick that fucker off the podium.

With the video accompanies a text. He hopes it sounds confidant, but in reality he wants to shut his phone off and then drop it off a bridge.

“Gold bottoms for silver after GPF.”

Otabek texts back almost an hour later, not that he’s furiously checking his phone and increasingly wanting to die at every moment or anything. “Yuri, if you wanted take me again all you had to do is ask.”

 

Chapter Text

“Oh wow, this is dumb.” Yuri sets the items be brought in from the kitchen onto his nightstand. He climbs back into bed, and then brings the items with him.

“It’s my birthday,” Otabek supplies as if that alone is reason enough for this foolishness. For any other person, it might be. It’s not though, because by and large Otabek would never use such excuses.

Yuri can tell that the other man’s is room is dark as usual, lit only by a few small candles and the small lamp he keeps tucked in the corner of the room. “I mean,” Yuri glares into the webcam. “Technically, it isn’t.” Skate Canada always happened right before Otabek’s birthday, which meant he spent most of yesterday traveling and most of today sleeping away the jetlag. It explains why his clothes are so rumpled and his hair is so thoroughly tousled. Yuri wishes he could climb into bed with him.

He would’ve never taken the time to pour over every spice cake recipe he could find on the internet, test several on Yakov, Mila, and Lilia, and then make the best one to send to Otabek for his birthday if he knew it was going to be a big production. “Light your fucking candle.”

“You too.”

“I’m not lighting the candle on my end. I’m not blowing out a candle for your birthday.”

“If the image is mirrored, it’s more realistic.” Otabek sinks a thin blue candle into the sponge cake. Yuri can hear the unmistakable scratch of match against sandpaper. “Like you’re here.”

“Yeah, a tea light and an apple. Perfect symmetry.”  He waves the tealight around in front of the webcam. “Fine.” Yuri lights the tea light and lets it rest in the palm of his hand. He feels like an idiot.

Yuri doesn’t sing. “Happy Birthday Otabek. I love you. Make a wish,” will have to suffice. Yuri can only assume that Otabek doesn’t mind.  Otabek blows out the candle. Yuri waves the tea light out with his hand at the same time.

“Thank you,” Otabek says in between small bites of cake. “It’s been awhile since I’ve had a homemade birthday cake.”

Yuri can feel the soft warm creep of a blush blossom across his face. It’s strange. They got so comfortable with one another. Still are. If Otabek wanted him to strip down right now he would without a second thought. But the time apart also makes everything feel scrubbed raw sensitive, like it’s all brand new.

“Wanna talk about it?” Yuri asks after awhile. It’s a question he’s used to Otabek posing regardless of where he lands on the podium. Each competition is draining in its own way physically and emotionally. It’s the first time the question has been asked between them since they became lovers, and Canada was the first competition they’d experienced as a couple.

He knows that Otabek’s probably battling the bitter sweet duality of silver as an indicator that he’ll peak later in the season, and silver as an indicator of loss.

“I always find a balance between presentation and technical. Leroy goes all out on technical.” He follows it up by an immediate, “He won because of that. It’s very clear.” Otabek pinches his mouth together indicating that he’s finished with this particular line of conversation. “Pressure’s on you in France.”

“Yeah,” Yuri’s lips curl into a smile. “That’s not gonna be a fucking problem. As long as we’re around he’s never getting gold in both of his cup events.” 

“I skated the way I wanted to skate though.”

“Salchow during the free looked damn fine.”

Otabek’s mouth curls into a half smile. “Think so?”

Yuri nods. He debates whether he really wants to eat the apple he brought into the room. He’d rather have spice cake. The sweetest thing Lilia keeps around the house are packets of Splenda. “Hey, the list. What is this about a white skirt?”

Otabek’s room is almost dark. Yuri thinks that if he could see him properly he’d be blushing. For right now he’ll have to settle for wide eyes, flared nosed, not a hair out of place but very caught off guard Otabek.

“I thought I deleted that.”

“Track changes baby.”

“We’ll talk about it in Vancouver.”


“Wanna talk about it?”

“I won GOLD Beka!”

“Maybe that’s even more reason.”

Yuri reclines onto the mountain of too fluffy too soft hotel pillows, the kind that you can easily lean into but can never get out of. He’s stuck here. No return flight tomorrow because he’s stuck slipping and sliding and rolling around in a mountain of unforgiving pillows.

Sometimes, he loves how Otabek can read him like a big boring book. Other times, he can’t stand it. Right now, he can’t decide.

He struggles to sit back up and lock eyes with Otabek in the monitor. “I didn’t get mad at him before I skated.”

He expected to feel an unbridled rage when he saw JJ, and he anticipated that would propel him to an easy victory. Asshole beat Otabek in Canada. Not to mention Yuri got a lower score on the short program than JJ did the day before.

All of these factors would make the perfect components for a tooth gnashing bitch storm that culminates with a gold and no memory of how he managed to get it.

Shockingly, it never came.

What else is there to say? He spent the last twenty minutes leading up to his free skate staring at the words “Davai” sent at 2:32 p.m?

“It was weird Otabek. I didn’t feel like I was me. There was this weird out of body kind of thing going on. Not in that kind of way where I can’t hear Lilia or Yakov talking to me and don’t understand what the press is saying afterward. There was this weird kind of fluidity and precision that never happens when I’m in competition. Like I imagined myself doing it, and I did it.”

“I think I understand what you mean.” Otabek smooths out the pages on his novel and leans into the screen.

“I didn’t think about his shitty technical points. I didn’t think about Viktor’s stupid finger in front of his mouth.” He mimics the motion so Otabek knows what he’s talking about. Everything just sort of.” He mashes his hands together. “I saw what I needed to do in my mind and then it just happened.”

“Clarity,” Otabek hums.

“Yeah.”

“You skate for other people a lot.” It’s a statement, not a question. That almost bothers Yuri. “Could it be that today, you didn’t skate for Yuuri Katsuki, or Viktor Nikiforov, or your grandfather, or in spite of Leroy, but yourself?”

The question kind of pisses him off in only a way that Otabek’s voice can. Smooth and soothing like velvet, it somehow manages to leave him feeling bare and exposed.

“I skate for you too,” his voice is so soft, he wonders if the webcam can even pick it up.

“I know that Yuri,” he answers a little too quickly. “I want you to know that it is permissible to skate for yourself. It seems to have benefits.”

“Hm…”

“Ready to get over your jetlag?” Otabek’s mouth pulls into a smile. Not the half smile, not the smirk, the genuine black coffee and dark chocolate, thick and wonderful kind of smile that Yuri would like to imagine that Otabek saves for him and him only.

“Yeah, let’s get this over with,” Yuri smirks back. He really thought he nailed the “best boyfriend ever” thing when he commissioned a leather-bound copy of Anna Karenina. Had it inscribed too in flowy embossed gold letters too. Now? It’s nothing but him, Otabek, and 800 pages of Tolstoy.

“It’s fine. I can manage an abridged reading if needed. Now, page one paragraph one, “To Otabek, love always Yuri.”

“Hey, that’s not how this starts. I fucking know that much.”

“That’s what the first page says.” Otabek shrugs. “ All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys’ house. The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with a,” Otabek raised his eyebrow, leaned into the webcam, and whispered, “French girl.”


Yuri wishes he was in China, that’s a given. With NHK just a week away, it’s not exactly possible. Instead, he deals with choppy live streams on questionable streaming sites. He also decides to stay in the group Skype with Minako, Yuuko, her fucking brats, and the horrible couple.

He’s not able to see all of Otabek’s free skate, which pisses him off. He hasn’t heard the music since August, and he knows Otabek was struggling with some of the elements. His stream cuts back in long after Otabek’s left the kiss and cry and the Phichit’s gone on.

Phichit finishes, his score is a few points below Otabek. The Thai skater’s ability to do quads has improved, but he still has a long way to go in comparison to his peers. If and when that happens, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Which means!?!?

Yuri reaches for his phone and simply texts, “Gold looks good on you.” Followed by a double text. “It’s about time.”

Then he opens a tab and pulls up YouTube and starts refreshing. It’s only a matter of time before someone uploads the video.


“Wanna talk about it?”

“Eyebrow bitch got me again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” It’s PyeongChang singles all over again, except for this time the fucker couldn’t even claim a home field advantage. “What is there to even say?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way.” Yuri watches the “typing” bubbles wash over the screen. “I’ve seen you land some of those free skate components much more cleanly in practice.”

“You’re not wrong.” Never mind the fact that Viktor literally just said the same thing and he called him a hag. “I’ll call you tonight.”

“Mari!” He calls down the corridor and runs after the Hasetsu group, transplanted here to Nagano. Easily he slides his arm into the crook of hers. “I feel awful. You look awful. Let’s go shopping.”

Yuri watches as her smile melts away into a scowl. “Thanks, Yurio.” Followed quickly by, “You know Minako picked this out for me.”

“Which is why you should’ve thrown it out immediately. Let’s go I think there’s an H&M or something at the shopping center near the station. We can get crepes too.”

“Shopping? But Yuri and I can’t go. We’re scheduled to tour the rest of the Olympic facilities. We’re trying speed skating this afternoon!” Viktor’s voice waffles from pouty to ecstatic.

“I didn’t ask you. I asked Baba.”

“If you wanted to hang out Yurio, all you had to do was ask.”

“Go on ahead guys,” Yuuri guides Viktor in the direction of the short track arena.

Yuri doesn’t find what he’s looking for at the H&M, or the Forever 21, or the Gap in the shopping mall which sucks because he’s not spending more than 5,000 yen on this thing. Tops.

Mari does manage to find some tops that she can wear with the plain cardigans she brought, and he buys a few pairs of sunglasses, so the entire trip isn’t a wash. “Yuri,” Mari pulls at his sleeve. “Let’s go to WEGO. I want some more t-shirts.”

“Ugh, I hate WEGO,” he mumbles. The reality is, he loves WEGO, he hates that all of the shirts are “free size,” but don’t fit his post-growth spurt shoulders and chest. “Fine.”

So of course, this is where he fucking finds it. Tucked behind some autumn jackets and well within his price range.  It’s made out of almost completely shear gauze like material.  He takes it off the rack to examine it further. It looks like it would stop just below his knee. There’s a shorter, thinner slip inside that would stop mid thigh. The bottom hem is made out of a wide white lace.

Yuri throws it in Mari’s “to buy” pile of tacky printed t-shirts and sweat shirts. The kind with bad English and obnoxious decals. He’ll pay for the shitty shirts, if only to snag the offending garment out of the pile and deliver a totally convincing, “oops, how did that get there? I’ll return it right away,” before he stuffs it into his own suitcase.

With that, Yuri leaves NHK with the silver. Both he and Otabek go into the GPF with a gold and a silver under their belts for the season.


The Grand Prix Final threatens to be nothing short of an unmitigated cluster fuck. Seriously, he can’t remember the last time the events leading up to an event have left him this strung out and frayed at the ends, and that’s including the year that Viktor casually said to him, Georgi, Mila, and Yakov, “Oh. I think my passport is in my other bag. At home,” while they were already running late to the airport.

Yuri looks at his phone. “Finally boarding in Amsterdam.”

Yuri shivers, “Ugh, that’s such a long flight.” The American northeast and most of Canada have agreed it’s winter, and that it should snow accordingly.  Their own flights from LED were delayed a full two hours. Otabek was fairing much worse. His redeye flight out of Almaty was canceled due to weather, so he had to wait for the first flight out this morning.

“Acceptable coffee,” Otabek sends Yuri a photo of a red latte cup. He knows that the liquid it contains is thick and mostly sugar. It’s the kind of drink that leaves a filmy residue of sugar, and sugar, and shitty artificial cream on the roof of your mouth. The only question is which specific abomination is it: pumpkin spice, eggnog, gingerbread, flat white?

“It’ll be late when I get into Vancouver,” Otabek texts. “Don’t feel like you have to wait up for me.”

Yuri rolls his eyes and jabs furiously at the screen. “I already put your name on my room and left a key for you at the front desk and everything. Just come up when you get here. I don’t care what time.”

The “typing” bubbles flash across the screen and then go away. It annoys the shit out of Yuri. “I’m fucking serious Otabek. If I wake up tomorrow morning at 5 or 6 and you’re not with me, I’m going to be shitty.”

Yuri wakes to the sound of the door opening at 1:57 AM. He vaguely remembers opening his eyes to see the large gray green LED lights on the hotel alarm clock telling him as much as that.

“Yuri, it’s me,” Otabek’s voice is barely a whisper.

Yuri snaps wide awake and he darts towards the door. Immediately he latches onto Otabek, which is a bad fucking idea because it’s snowing or raining or something outside, and Otabek is covered in cold droplets of water that shock him awake.

He doubles down on his efforts and wraps his leg around Otabek’s middle. Otabek lifts him up with little effort, which is amazing for a man who is jet lagged and undeniably exhausted.

Otabek’s lips are on his immediately, and it becomes acutely aware that they’re out of practice. The first attempt ends with their teeth clinking together. On the second there’s a bit too much drool. “Fucking,” the third attempt they get it right. Otabek’s lips just fit into Yuri’s and they kiss each other long and slow like they’re in Almaty. “Finally,” Yuri breathes when they part.

“It took you all of….Two minutes maybe? To go back to your old ways?” Yuri smirks. Otabek’s method of holding onto him and keeping him balanced involves two handfuls of Yuri’s ass.  

“I had to pinch you to make sure I’m not dreaming.”

“Makes sense.” Yuri kisses him over and over and over again hoping that Otabek won’t remember that it’s two in the morning and they compete in a little more than twelve hours.

But of course he does.

“I’m sorry I woke you. I really just had to see you.” Otabek says as he steps out of his jacket and shoes.

“Don’t be stupid, I wanted to see you too.” It should be really fucking obvious in the way that Yuri hovers around the other man while he tries to settle in. “Do you need a snack, or water, or anything?”

“No, I’m fine,” Otabek looks dead tired. There’s little black circles under his eyes that Yuri can’t say he’s ever seen before. He’s paler than normal too. Still, when Otabek’s tense expression melts into something a little rounder and a little softer at the edges, it’s magic. Otabek stops in the middle of changing into his sleep clothes to kiss Yuri again.

“Uh can you do something for me then?”

“Anything,” Otabek says with an air of seriousness that is completely unneeded for what he’s about to ask.”

“Do you have any toothpaste? I might have left my other toiletry bag at home.”

“I could tell,” Otabek chuckles.

Yuri can feel his face heat up, and not fucking fair. There’s no reason that being apart for a few months should just hit the fucking reset button on “things Otabek does that make him blush” cause if so it’s gonna be a difficult couple of days.

After they brush their teeth, they settle back into bed. They face each other in a tangle of limbs. Otabek’s laying slightly lower than him, with his head buried in his chest. “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get back to sleep. Knowing you’re here.”

“I brought my secret weapon,” Otabek murmurs into his skin.   Otabek shimmies up his body, and his fingers tangle into Yuri’s hair.

Yuri sighs at the familiar feeling of Otabek’s nails against his skin. He lets that warming comfort wash over him again and again until he can feel the lids of his eyes grow heavy.  “Love you Beka.”

“I love you too, Yuri.” 


They sleep in til almost nine in the morning because they fucking need it. The downside is…

He opens the door to the tone of an iPhone camera shutter. The electronic tone pulls him fully awake and into pissed off mode. This is why he usually hits the rink at the ass crack of dawn on competition days. “Yuri’s Angels” are teenagers, and teenagers don’t like waking up before noon.

He’s an expert in that particular area.

“Yurachaka!” In a high pitched female voice.

“ And Kazhak hero Otabek Altin?” echoes another.

“I’ve been waiting outside Yuratchka’s room since seven. He must’ve STAYED THE NIGHT.” There have to be five or six girls in the hallway, and they all start bitching at once. He can only hear little bits and pieces of conversation over the fury.

“Yuratchka? Are the rumors true?” 

Yuri quite literally bites his tongue, and matches Otabek’s brisk pace toward the elevator. It’s the best thing to do in this situation, even if the flashes of cameras and the pings of Instagram notifications among the girls make him see red.

In the elevator, Otabek touches his elbow lightly. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. You?” Cause that’s what’s really got him pissed off. Yuri’s been fairly popular in Russia for a few years now, but only very recently has he become the source of national pride. That was always Viktor’s area. 

Otabek? He’s been a national fucking treasure for years now, and with that a reputation. One that probably doesn’t involve leaving another competitor’s hotel room in the morning.

“I’m fine.”

It’s something he might…Yuri swallows the lump in his throat and glares at his stomach which has started to churn. It’s something he might have to ask Viktor about. He doesn’t really remember Viktor dating anyone. He didn’t officially “out” himself until he got married. Yet, Yuri has very clear memories of sitting with Mila and Yakov at breakfast. Awkwardly, he’d spot Viktor on the other side of the hotel restaurant the morning after exhibitions with men he’d never seen before. 

As much as he hates to admit it, him and Yuuri both probably have some solid advice for disappointing the shit out of your female fans.


Going into the short program is something like a cluster fuck too. He and Otabek enter the arena on even footing with one gold and one silver for the season. So does JJ. Yuri hasn’t forgotten completely the wonderful and freeing, yet under stated and unassuming feeling of…Yuri likens it to beige linen pants on a hot as balls day… not giving a fuck about JJ.

The press sure as shit gives a fuck though. Even before the short program reporters swarm the three of them. “How do you feel about going into the competition in a virtual three way tie?” How does your friendship with Altin influence your competitive nature?”

“Is it true that Plisetsky trained with you at your home rink in Almaty over the summer?” Yuri can’t hear every question that Otabek is asked, and he barely listens to the ones they ask him. It’s not hard to detect a subtle over lap in questions, to see if they give drastically different responses. “How does your friendship with Plesetsky translate to the competition?”

“Leroy, does this feeling of camaraderie between Altin and Plisetsky influence your approach to the Grand Prix Final?” Of course JJ is the most vocal in responses, and actively plays into this weird, three way rivalry the press is trying to build.

That makes him want to talk more than any of the shitty questions. Leroy can say whatever the fuck he wants about him, he’ll settle it on ice. He does not get to say a goddamn thing about Otabek.

“Yuri,” Viktor titters in his ear. Wait where the shit did he come from? He’s already got Yakov and Lilia, he doesn’t need a third person walking him out. There’s a firm hand on his shoulder, “let’s go watch Phichit-kun. He’s got more quads this season, and doing a good job of landing them.”

“Now,” Viktor says as they find a television in a secluded section of corridor. “Phone please.” He’s beaming at Yuri with a smile the size of Moscow with his hand extended. Fuck.

“What no? I wanna listen to music.”

“Very well then, but I forbid you from getting on twitter before the short program.”

“Huh-wha?”

“Those pesky pre-skate interviews, certain tags that trended this morning after the Hero and the Fairy left Yuri Pliesetsky’s hotel room only to have breakfast together in the hotel restaraunt. Not to mention those trending Twitter tags that you refreshed the entire cab ride over? These are not things to think of before a short program Yurio.”

The first group goes by all too quickly. Among them Michele Crispino scores the highest.

Between him and Otabek it’s all half smiles and furtive glances that make his heart race in his ears. They didn’t really hang out before a competition before. He expects nothing less this year.

“Hey,” Yuri taps on his shoulder. The second group is supposed to go on soon, and Otabek is first.

Otabek turns. He takes out a single earbud.

“Davai.”

Otabek gives him a thumbs up.

Otabek wasn’t lying when he said that Caro Nome was a grand piece. First of all, his costume is fucking perfect. Simple black slacks, and a silver sequined jacket. Even with the sequins the look is somehow understated compared to other flashier costumes. Not to mention, Otabek skates it as if the music were made for him. He swims through the soft melodic instrumental in step sequence and rips out the aria through jumps that are so controlled, he has to pick his jaw up off the floor.

 He can’t find a flaw in the program.

Yuri hears him call, “Davai,” from the kiss and cry. He gives a thumbs up in return, but he shields his eyes from the score. As far as he’s concerned, he has two competitors here. His previous world record, and Otabek.


Otabek has to smile when he sees Yuri’s costume. It seems like Yakov and Lilia have finally let him move onto something that isn’t a body suit, and for that he is grateful. He finds body suits to be needlessly ostentatious and childish, of which he finds Yuri neither. 

Yuri’s top has beaded sequins in red that make it look like he’s wearing a vest over formal shirttails. More silver sequins are arranged in the pattern of a tie.

Otabek holds his breath when Yuri goes into the first jump, the axel.

He nails it.

Onto the combination. Otabek can tell he had difficulty with the foot transition, but it’s not something that should keep him from medaling. Flying spin, combination, step sequence into the sole quad. Yuri wasn’t lying when he said that everything happened naturally and in rapid sequence.

Yuri finishes first in the short program with a season’s best and a score that is short of his world record by two points. Then JJ, and himself. He has a lot of catching up to do tomorrow.


“Otabek, Yurio!” Viktor calls their names from the lobby, and it feels like someone’s spilled a cup of crushed ice down his shirt.

“The fuck do you assholes want?” He doesn’t have to turn around to know that Yuuri’s with him.

“Oh, nothing. We’re going to the hot tub-“ Yuuri, tries to smooth things over.

“Otabek-kun,” They’re not in fucking Japan anymore, he needs to stop. “Have Yuri home by midnight. He needs his rest.” Viktor chirps.

Yuri spews and sputters and steams and lets his face go red in the lobby until Otabek guides him with a firm hand towards the parking garage.

“Hey,” Yuri squints his eyes in suspicion. “This isn’t right.” It’s hard to see in the meek fluorescent writing of the car park, but something is off. He’s sure of it. The bike is still a Harley, but a different model, a little bit larger and less sleek than Otabek’s.

“Shipping was impractical.”

Yuri nods.

Otabek kick starts the engine and walks the bike out of the faded yellow lines on the pavement.

Yuri climbs onto the back of the bike and slides into Otabek as he sits down.

“Where would you like to go?”

“I don’t give a fuck as long as we don’t get back til 12:01.


Once again Otabek is the first in the second group to go on ice. It gives him ample time for “davai’s” and to watch.

Yuri is used to seeing Otabek skate. It’s raw power mixed with thunder. Otabek climbs up the podium in a way that is calculated and systematic, but not cold like others such as Seung-Gil. Meanwhile, he himself thrives on pulling miraculous one in a million lightening strike feats out of his ass on ice in order to secure gold.

Otabek conjures lightening.

Yuri can’t pinpoint if it’s his mother’s music, or the fact that he’s never gotten gold at the GPF before, but Otabek’s performance is flawless and commanding. Each movement acts as a silent but powerful, “I dare you to look away.”

Yuri can’t. He’s smitten by the way Otabek balances emotion with elegance on ice.

When Otabek lands both of his quad Salchows with arms raised high, Yuri knows that it’s both an homage given with the utmost love and respect and an unapologetic challenge. 

“Is this how you show your adoration Otabek?”

Frankly, Yuri isn’t certain how he’ll respond. It feels like when he was a kid and dedushka seemed like this big towering giant. He’d sneak up behind him and clap him firmly on both shoulders. The strange mix of terror, combined with the excitement and joy at being greeted by someone he loved simply made him feel overwhelmed.

Now, he can only compare it to pure and unadulterated terror.

Yuri isn’t blinded by the action. His attention stays razor sharp through Otabek’s ending step sequence.

Weird.

The pancake spin was switched for a regular sit spin. It’s not like Otabek to change components during competition.


From a technical perspective, Yuri’s free skate is perfection swathed in elegance. Most of his performances are.  For anyone who entered men’s skating before Yuri’s 2016 debut, it would’ve been a gold performance. Easy.

 However, it becomes abundantly clear that Yuri’s growth has affected him. Most wouldn’t catch onto it. Maybe not even other skaters, but he does. Yuri is perfect, but there are no attempts to raise his arms after the first jump. Yuri lands it, but he can tell that interferes with his flow into the next sequence. He doesn’t do it again.

It’s clear that although he may outperform Pliesetsky, and do it regularly, Yuri’s true rivals are himself and time.

The final results are Michele Crispino in third, Yuri second, and himself in first. If Yuri’s upset, he can’t tell on the podium. Yuri snakes a chaste arm around his shoulder on the podium and whispers, “congratulations,” in his ear.

Later he gives the press all sorts of hell.

“Look I don’t know what you want me to say,” Yuri, chirps at a reporter. “Silver blows dick for quarters, but it’s Altin’s first gold at the GPF.” Otabek’s never heard that tone used with reporters. Usually only when he’s on the phone with his grandpa or talking about pirozhky.  Not even Lilia’s narrow eyed stare and slap on the shoulder deters him. “I’m not happy with myself, but I’m happy for him.”


Otabek opens the door to his room and holds it wide open, seemingly not caring that he’s mostly naked. and that anyone could walk down the hallway at any time, look in, and see him.

Guess that answers the question about how he feels about Yuri’s Angels feeding the rumor mill.

Yuri’s eyes start at Otabek’s neatly combed hair rake long and unapologetic glances down his body until he’s staring at the shitty red and gold fleur-de-lis pattern of the carpet and Otabek’s toes. Then he drags his gaze back up and makes sure to leave Otabek’s skin on fire in his wake. His eyes fixate for a moment on the few items that Otabek’s currently wearing. First, a pair of jet black boxer briefs with a wide white band. Good.

He can’t even enjoy the dip of Otabek’s belly button and the downy soft hairs that linger between it and his underwear because up next is a tight black knee brace on his right leg. “I fucking knew it!” And before he can stop himself he’s up in Otabek’s face jabbing at his chest. “I knew it when you changed the pancake to a regular spin that something was fucked. What the fuck did you do to yourself?”

Otabek ushers him in and does close the door behind him. His gaze goes on a long meandering crawl, first to Yuri who demands answers. Then to the bed. The duvet is pulled back. Finally, to the table in the room. It’s covered with several room service dishes, and a champagne bucket.

Yuri follows his gaze. He looks disappointed.

In that moment, Yuri shifts from feeling jilted to feeling like an ass. He really shouldn’t have gotten up in his face like that. He should really just let the man enjoy his gold, and the overwhelmingly rich deserts that he knows lurk under those plate covers, but damn he needs to fucking know about everything that happens in Almaty.

Not just the good parts that Otabek delivers to him over Skype with a half-smile before he goes to bed.

“Can I kiss you first?”

“Of fucking course,” Yuri fires back as he closes the distance between them and presses his mouth to Otabek’s. Otabek rises up to meet him on the balls of his feet.

It’s certainly not their first kiss since they arrived in Vancouver for the GPF, but if feels that way now that the weight of the competition has been lifted. Otabek kisses him like he’s trying to provide an explanation via soft probing tongue against Yuri’s. It’s the kind of action that makes Yuri’s knees weak. Makes him forget his name, let alone why he’s interrogating his boyfriend.

Otabek parts them with a firm squeeze on his shoulder. “I think it happened in early October. There wasn’t some big moment where I knew I definitely hurt myself. Just one night there was some pain, and then one morning there was some swelling.” Otabek backs them up towards the bed. Yuri can feel his knees bump up against the mattress. “My doctor thinks it’s a minor meniscus injury.”

Yuri arches a brow. Viktor’s had a torn meniscus before. It’s one of those ambiguous injuries that could be major or minor depending on how bad.

“It wasn’t giving me much trouble until today.” He guides Yuri down to the mattress, and then sits next to him on the bed. Otabek takes his hands in his. His thumb rubs a slow circle onto his palm. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I felt that if I didn’t talk about it openly, it would be less likely to affect my performance.”

Yuri can feel his anger slip away. He does understand, and he does have a penchant for ignoring what his body tells him to do in order to spend more time on the ice.

Yuri kisses Otabek again, and his frustration is increasingly replaced by a feeling of heat tipped lust that starts in his belly and threatens to spread lower. Otabek isn’t the kind of person who waits around in his underwear, nor is Yuri the kind of person who really wanted to wait until after the competition was over to have sex.

Still, there’s anxiety there too. His hastily sent text back in November set certain parameters for all of this. He wanted it. Badly. He just wants it to go infinitely better than last time.

“It’s okay, just please tell me when shit happens okay?”

“Okay.”  

Otabek’s kissing him again, and it’s hard to think clearly. Not when he’s spent almost five months missing this infuriating back and fourth that they do. Dainty little princess kisses that lead into scorching relentlessness with the flick of Otabek’s tongue.

“Wait, one more thing,” Yuri tries to sound confident because what is there to be scared of? They’ve done this before, and it’s going to be better this time. He’s seen Otabek squirm and twitch due to his own fingers over Skype. Yuri’s done it to himself enough times by now that he knows exactly how to crook his fingers. “Do you have lube?”

“Was that in your forgotten bag too?” Otabek smirks at him. He reaches to the night stand. From the drawer he extracts a clear bottle with a translucent blue cap and a box of condoms. “Covered.”

“Good. Second question, how should we do this? I don’t wanna fuck up your knee.”

“I wanna face you this time,” Otabek’s response is sudden, husky and full of need.

“I think we can work with that. What if we…Sorry, I just want to figure this out before things get too heated.”

“It’s fine.” Otabek shimmies towards the impossibly large mountain of pillows at the head of the bed. He makes a small stack of pillows and then sits on top. “I can keep my right leg flat and spread wide. Then rest the other one on your shoulder,” Otabek raises his leg and illustrates this for Yuri.

Yeah. Yuri takes a moment to self-indulgently stare down the expanse of Otabek’s raised leg and at the bulge of his underwear. That would probably work.

Otabek shifts against him again, so that he’s mostly sitting in Yuri’s lap. Bottom on the mattress, legs in his lap.

Yuri snakes a hand around his partner’s back and splays his palm on Otabek’s spine. “How long have you wanted this?” Yuri leaves the question open ended between kisses to Otabek’s neck and collarbones.

“Since Worlds.” Otabek gives him an open ended response that could describe sex or the gold. It’s Otabek’s fourth season, and in that time he scored bronze, silver, and gold at worlds in progressive succession. He’s managed to do the same thing at the GPF. Bronze, and then silver last year and, this year gold.

 Yuri also remembers a failed attempt at a twostep. Not at the actual banquet, but when he and Otabek were the only ones in the parking garage after they’d snuck away so they could go take the bike and tear through Marseilles til the sun came up.

Either way it’s the kind of blunt and honest response that only Otabek can provide.

“You?” Otabek takes his hand back in his, raises his fingers to his mouth, and lets his lips brush against the tips of them. Then, he parts his lips slightly, lets the tip of his finger rest against his tongue. Otabek widens his mouth so that the entire pad of his finger is enveloped in warmth and wet, and then before he can fully comprehend whats going on Otabek’s mouth is wrapped around his finger up to the first knuckle and suckling at it lightly.

Otabek’s attention to his fingers shoots straight to his crotch. His own budding arousal makes it hard to concentrate, and yet he knows his partner. He knows that Otabek expects a response despite the well timed distraction. “Since my last night in Almaty, or before that even. When we fooled around in the kitchen or-“ Yuri’s voice trails off. Otabek’s undivided attention and hollowed cheeks remind him that it doesn’t matter. He has Otabek now. He wants him. Now.

Yuri grabs him by the chin, and his fingers slide out of Otabek’s mouth. The kiss is marked with long laps of his tongue.  He can’t have Otabek bottom and run the show at the same time. He’s got to prove himself.

Yuri switches their position so that he’s in between Otabek’s spread legs on top of him. He rakes his hands down Otabek’s toned arms, chest, and stomach drinking in the large expanses of exposed skin that he’s missed so much.

Then, he does the same with his mouth. He nips at Otabek’s collar bones. He pays special attention to the other man’s dusky nipples, simply because Otabek always seems to pay his so much attention. The soft little moans that slip out of his lips in response is an added bonus.

“Yuri,” Otabek interrupts in a tone that is husky and needy. His lips are hot on Otabek’s hip bone. “Will you take your clothes off? Please?”

Just like that Yuri’s super sexy, “tells his man how it’s gonna be,” demeanor is gone.  Yuri melts, and has to have Otabek put him back together.

Otabek tugs his track jacket off over his head, and does the same for his shirt. “Pants too,” he orders firmly. There’s got to be a way to get control back…

“Yessir,” so much for wrestling control back. “Let’s just get naked,” he says in the long and infinite expanse of time between crawling out of his pants and moving back up Otabek’s body. Oh. There it is. That’s the sexy and confident demeanor of someone who knows how to fuck someone and do it well.

Otabek nods firmly.

Yuri peels Otabek’s underwear off with one fluid and well-practiced motion. Otabek cants his hips upward, and he’s rewarded with the sight of Otabek’s cock bobbing free. Otabek pulls his briefs down too, and for a moment they just stare at each other.

“Do you want to come first or?” He could pass this off as being a good top. He’s heard (was trapped in an elevator with drunk Viktor at NHK) that once you come, you’re more relaxed and can open up easily. The reality is he’s selfish, and the sight of Otabek’s dick make his mouth water. He wants to suck the other man off just as much as he wants to fuck him.

“No,” Otabek shakes his head, sits up, and reaches for the lube. “So go slow, okay?” Otabek squeezes some into his palm, and puts some in his own as well. He wraps his hand around Yuri and gives him a few quick pumps before Yuri gently pushes him back down.

“Same to you,” Yuri chides.

“How many fingers can you usually take?” He asks as he inserts his index finger.

He notices Otabek’s eyes dilate slightly when he pushes inside. “Usually just two.”

Yuri thrusts in and out with the single digit experimentally. “I can fit three. Two is better at reaching-“

Yuri interrupts him with another finger. He should’ve asked first. He really should’ve just…Otabek felt so hot and relaxed around him. It felt like he could take another.

The flare of the nostrils and the small whisper soft moan indicate that maybe he was correct.

“Your fingers are longer,” Otabek breathes against his chest. “They reach a lot easier.”

“Am I close?”

“Crook your fingers.”

Yuri complies, and sound Otabek makes is nothing short of delicious. He does it again and again in small circles. He laps up Otabek’s moans in short static burst kisses that leave his head feeling fuzzy.

“I want a third now.”

“Sure?”

Otabek looks downward at his neglected erection. He’s leaking pre come down his length and onto his groin. “I’m sure.”

Yuri gives him a third finger. Otabek twitches and clenches around it, and the feeling alone makes Yuri blush. That’s not even accounting for the fact that his usual stoic boyfriend has transformed into something he thought only his imagination could conjure.

His face is flushed, and the tinge of a red blush dusts his face. His skin is sheen slick damp with sweat.  His eyes are blown wide, and all the tension that he usually carries in his body is reduced to his bottom lip caught between his teeth and the pull and stretch of his rim.

Yuri abandons the slow little “come hither” circles that drove Otabek crazy and reverted back to thrusting his fingers and scissoring them apart. Each movement is punctuated by, “Ah! Ah! Ah!” until Otabek says, “I’m ready Yuri.”

Otabek helps him roll the condom down his length. Yuri puts more lube on his cock and at Otabek’s entrance.

. He straddles Otabek’s injured leg. Then, he lifts his left leg to his shoulder and moves it to the side. He rotates his partner’s left hip so that Otabek’s other leg rests diagonally across his torso. “Good?”

“Yeah.”

He sinks into Otabek slowly. Their names are on each other’s tongues so that “Yuri,” and “Otabek,” are blended together into one lust filled hiss.

Otabek licks his lips. Yuri takes it as a nonverbal request to lean in and kiss him.

“It’s like a halo,” Otabek looks upward and to his left. Is he talking about Yuri’s…Hair? It hangs down from his head and encircles Otabek’s face.  He chuckles low and dark, and Yuri tries to pretend that he doesn’t notice how Otabek tightens around him with the action.

“You’re a fucking sap,” Yuri fires back. “Can I move now? Are you okay with that?”

“Please,” Otabek breathes.

If he thought that Otabek’s thighs were tight, he was wrong. He feels so tight-hot-good. He has to move in slow shallow thrusts or risk coming too quickly all over again. He doesn’t want that. Not when he has Otabek fucking Altin taking his dick like a goddamn champion.

“Yura,” Otabek rasps, and that almost does him in too. In their current position Otabek can’t push back much, but when he does it only adds to the sweet slow friction. Yuri thought that the world was nothing but him, and Otabek and the podium. He was wrong. So wrong. The only thing that matters is him, and Otabek, and the dense and dirty sound of their skin slapping against each other over and over again.

He takes his partner’s long neglected cock in his hand and works him with a hurried and sloppy fist. “Please Otabek, I’m close,”

“Just a little more Yura, please.”

“Beka,” he feels like he’s about to sob, that’s how much effort he’s putting into trying not to come and and jerk Otabek off.

Otabek lets out a harsh and mangled cry as he comes. At the sound, Yuri let’s go too. He’s coming hard into Otabek who has shamelessly clenched and tightened around him through his own release.

After the static clears, and they try to clean up, they eat. Otabek feeds him bites of medium rare fillet while he flips through the channels. He settles on cartoons, and then starts shoveling French fries in his face like it’s the end of the season.

Then, Yuri watches Otabek with rapt fascination as he eats a few bites of cheese cake, then a few bites of red velvet, and finally a few bites of black forest cake. Otabek ordered several things, and has decided he’d rather have a bit of each than all of one desert.

When the dishes are cleared, and Otabek’s changed the channel to a nature documentary about the deep sea, they settle into one of their comfortable and understood silences. One that someday, with time, he’ll be able to say are lived in.

Now? He can’t quite say that he wants it. It makes it too easy to think about how his flight is in less than 36 hours, and how the last few days have gone all too quickly.

Otabek turns to him, licks his lips and asks an anxiousness that he rarely shows on the surface. “Do you think you could go again?”

“I think so.”

“We could try in the shower. Standing. It won’t hurt my knee.”

Yuri knows when he’s being distracted. The promise of having Otabek again against the warm spray of the shower is a damn good one. He welcomes it. 

Chapter Text

On Feburary 12th, Yuri opens up an envelope post marked from Almaty. The front of the card contains not only red, but pink and silver glitter applied in shape of concentric hearts. It gets fucking better. Upon opening the card, tiny pieces of heart shaped confetti spill out and onto the pale blue Saxony carpet.

“For fuck’s sake Altin,” he swears underneath his breath.

Farida chose this. I hope that it serves its purpose.

Love Otabek

On Febuary 13th, Yuri hops on the red eye to Paris, with Salt Lake City and Four Continents as his ultimate destination. The short trip is of course, conditional. Yakov wants as much Kentucky bourbon as he can bring back duty free. The request does nothing but show that Yakov is getting old and senile. He’s two weeks short of being able to legally buy booze in Russia, so the U.S. is out entirely.

He'll deal with the fallout in four days’ time when Yakov picks him up at LED.  

“I probably won’t be done with practice before you land. Please get the key from the front desk. It’s taken care of,” Otabek text him at some point between Seattle and Salt Lake.

The room is nice. It’s more than just a glorified closet with a bed, unlike most places they stay for competition. Walking into the room, the bathroom is immediately to the right off of the corridor. Then the bedroom. There’s a very small seating area that extends outward from there with a large bay window and an armchair which faces the view of the city.

There’s a vase on the table filled with Easter lilies despite the fact that it’s February, and they won’t be in season for another few weeks.

Yuri throws his largest suitcase on the bed. The leopard print clashes beautifully with pale lilac colored duvet cover. He unzips one side, and stretches so that the tips of his toes barely meet the carpet as he stretches to unzip the top. He falls back on his heels as he unzips the third side. When he opens the panel, the white skirt from WEGO stares back at him.

 “Yuri?” Otabek’s voice is low and soft, as if he assumes that Yuri would be wasting time sleeping off jetlag.

Otabek assumed correctly.

Before his nap, Yuri definitely did not stand and pose at the window for damn near thirty minutes waiting for Otabek to get back to the hotel. It’s just that the high of adrenaline and shitty airline coffee didn’t last. It was only a matter of time before his body realized he spent the night in a business class seat.  

He slipped into bed with an alarm set. Of course it didn’t matter. He threw the phone up against the wall when it chimed, and didn’t get up until Otabek came back to the hotel.

“Beka,” Yuri’s eyes flutter open and he peels back the downy duvet. He can only hope that he doesn’t have crust in the corner of his eyes.

“Yuri,” Otabek gasps.

He’s still not fully awake, but the feeling of Otabek’s mouth on his, and his firm hands on his hips helps rouse him more than coffee or a shower ever would.

“What is this?” Otabek’s caught the thin white lace of the skirt in his hand and rubs it between his fingers.

Yuri can feel the warm slip of a half blush rise to his cheeks. He forgot that he changed before he laid down. Mentally, he reminded himself that this was fine. It was for Otabek. Otabek wanted it, and it was fine.

“At first it was a valentine. But, other than sending me a card to piss me off, you don’t really do valentines in Kazakhstan, do you?”

Otabek shakes his head no from side to side.

“It’s not that big of a deal in Russia either. So, it can’t be a valentine. I guess it’s a good luck present,” Yuri kisses him again. The press of his lips are soft, and he unashamedly takes a page from the Otabek Altin handbook of seduction. A soft swipe of the tongue against parted lips and little else. “And an, I can’t wait any longer,” present. Their arrangement at the Grand Prix Final was fun. At European Nationals, it was almost implied that Otabek would bottom, he wasn’t competing. But now….

Otabek takes his hand, raises their arms, and guides Yuri through a simple twirl. It lets him look at the other man from all angles, and see the soft fan and swish of the cloth as he moves. “It’s nice.”

Yuri expected to be mauled right away. That’s what he would’ve done to Otabek if Otabek showed up on another continent dressed exactly like one of his extremely vivid fantasies. But, it’s clear in the way that he kisses, and the way that he touches, and the way that he makes Yuri wait to come that their approaches to all of this are very different.

Otabek guides him to the small sitting area in the room. He pulls the thick sickly smooth nylon curtains back so that he can see the late afternoon skyline of Salt Lake City. The shape of mountains remind him of Almaty. The sterile curtains that frame the window remind him he’s in America.

“Where’s your hairbrush?”

“Um, I think it’s in the small yellow bag?” He vaguely can remember throwing it onto the nightstand. Behind him he can hear the sharp sound of a zipper being unzipped.

Otabek moves his hair so that it spills down the back of the low armchair. All too soon Yuri is lost in the soft scraping sound of the bristles bumping up against the back of the chair, and the soothing drag of Otabek combing the sleep tangles from his hair.

It threatens to lull him back to sleep, but Yuri forces his eyes open.

Otabek doesn’t waste a breath, let alone an action. Yuri has built the foundation, pushed the fantasy into reality. Otabek is going to fill in the cracks with every little detail that he craves, and Yuri is going to go along for the ride.

Otabek twists and manipulates his hair into a long thick braid. Wordlessly, Yuri offers him a hair tie off of his wrist when he can feel that most of his hair has been put into place.

Yuri can feel Otabek’s hand reach over the back of the chair. His fingers graze lightly over the tender skin where ear and neck meet. His fingers trail down his jaw line, and then flutter to his collarbone. Then his hand dips lower, beneath the loose fitting neckline of Viktor’s hand me down sweater. He quickly cups at Yuri’s chest and then his hand darts back upward to his neck.

Otabek’s hands only flit from place to place like that without clear purpose or intent when he’s overwhelmed and can’t quite decide what to do next.

“What’s next Otabek?” Overwhelmed as the other man may be, it’s unlikely that he doesn’t have the next step in the back of his mind. 

“May I dance with you?” Otabek offers him his hand over the back of his chair.

He notices that his marigold leather bag, the one that not only contained his hairbrush but his condoms and lube, was placed in the windowsill.  

 “We need music.” Yuri whips his phone out of the elastic hem of his skirt, and the wide eyed, near scandalized expression Otabek gives him is priceless. “Pick something.” He hands Otabek the phone, it’s still warm from being stowed so close to his body.

Otabek fiddles with the phone, first selecting a song on screen and turning up the volume through the use of the side buttons. The sound of low meandering piano chords fill the room. Otabek tosses the phone onto the chair.

“Of course,” Yuri snorts as Otabek’s hands close around his waist once more. Immediately he recognizes the melody as Moonlight Sonata. Otabek used it as his expo piece the season they met in Barcelona.  

“I’m out of practice,” and the way Otabek says it, he’s not sure if he’s referring to the piece or to what will inevitably happen between them.

For a pair of Olympic medalists, Yuri can only assume that their dance is laughable. Yuri tries to keep his hands on Otabek’s shoulder, like a proper dance partner who is being led. It doesn’t go well.

An unapologetic butt squeeze.

A kiss sealed with a smack.

Neither of them seem to care too much about the music at all, but it’s what Otabek wanted.

Otabeks hands and fingers are preoccupied with the way the lace of his skirt rests against his slip. Yuri himself cannot help but notice the nuances in the way the lace feels when it’s raked against the satiny slip in one direction versus the other.

The movements of their feet aren’t clumsy, but they certainly don’t match the grace and the skill they posses on ice. Otabek guides him into a turn and holds him with his back to his chest. Yuri can feel the tight muscles, the expanse of his chest. Can feel him rocking up onto the balls of his feet to bridge the distance they have in height.

His breath is hot against Yuri’s neck, and he bathes Yuri in hot little half movements of the mouth that aren’t quite kisses, and aren’t quite the devilish gentle biting motions that leave deep and possessive marks on his neck either.

They leave his neck damp, leave him silently begging for more.

The notes of the piece drift upward, and in tandem with the music Otabek’s hands drift under his sweater and upward. Otabek grazes his hipbones, counts each of his ribs with care, and  encircles each of his nipples with a feather light touch that is vastly different from the way he usually pinches, twists, and teases a reaction from this part of his body.

As always, Otabek answers his silent request. Albeit at his own pace. He turns them again, and they break their unrefined and simple dance for a kiss. It’s the long and breathy open mouthed, no tongue kind. The kind that shouldn’t be so good. Because it’s Otabek, and Otabek is good, it goes straight to his cock.

Otabek’s kisses continue. Each one asks something more of Yuri. A long languid trace of the roof of his mouth, a demanding tongue, a bite to the lip. It keeps Yuri guessing, and gasping for air. Yuri barely notices being backed against the wall near the window.

Otabek locks eyes with him. It’s a wordless plea.

Yuri bunches up the skirt in his hand and takes fistful after fistful until one side is bunched up in his hand and the other dangles loosely at his hip.

He’s not wearing underwear, and the air feels cool against the underside of his cock.

Yuri gives himself a few slow strokes. He wants to watch Otabek squirm. It seems that no matter what the situation, no matter how much he wants to lead Otabek to his own undoing, the other man exerts a natural sense of control over their encounters.

“Do you like what you see Beka?” Yuri makes sure to bite his lip for good measure. Otabek likes it when he does that.

Yuri finds his answer in Otabek’s hands, which push his away to grasp at the skirt. He pushes the fabric of the satiny slip up over his hips. Then, Otabek’s hand is on him, firm and commanding. Then, after awhile, Otabek pulls the skirt back down. He palms Yuri’s crotch through the thin fabric until there’s an obscene damp spot on the skirt.

Then, it goes back up. “Beka, please.” More rough thrusts of the hand. Otabek plays him like the finely tuned grand piano in Almaty, up and down, “Beka, please.” High and low, “Beka, please,” over and over again, for what feels like hours. The piece never crescendos. It leaves Yuri feeling light headed and fuzzy, like when he steals drinks from an already tipsy Katsudon.

Before he knows what’s going on Otabek’s turning him around once more and arranging his body how he wants. Hands against the glass of the window, legs spread wide. Fully clothed.

“You’re radiant today Yuri,” Otabek says it like they’re out to brunch or waiting for a cab. That’s all the warning he gets before he feels the skirt being lifted once more and held firmly against his hip. There’s a finger, wet with slick at his hole. “Are you ready?”

Yuri looks over his shoulder at Otabek and nods.

Otabek’s fingers are wider than his own, but even when Otabek tries to relent on the endless teasing, he just can’t do it. Otabek’s fingers make him stretch and burn in all the right kind of ways, but they’re shorter than his own. They don’t reach- They come close. When Otabek scissors in and out and in and out in time with his own hot breath in Yuri’s ear, Yuri can feel the faint tug of absolutely divine pleasure that he knows can come from being touched like this. Unfortunately, even when Otabek is knuckle deep inside, it falls just short of the white hot sparks that Yuri sees when he closes his eyes and does this to himself.

Instead, it’s nothing but pastels and soft blush lighting when he screws his eyes shut and prays that he can come soon.  

Otabek will pause the deep movements of his fingers to reach around and toy with his cock. He continues to grab it through the fabric. Then, without warning he’ll move back to his hole, “can you take a third finger?”

“Of course I can,” and he wants to say something else, but he catches his and Otabek’s faint and translucent reflection in the window against the glare of the crisp afternoon sky and it dries in his throat.

Otabek adds the third finger.

His own eyes go wide. Otabek’s jaw is clenched tightly. He too is watching, eyes clouded with lust.  

Otabek scissors his fingers a few times experimentally before pressing them all together and rotating his wrist just so “Can you take one more?”

Yuri says something, but he can’t hear what. There’s an unintelligible sob that masks the sound of what he’s trying to say, and it takes him a moment to realize that he’s the one who is a sloppy mess right now from all the teasing. The arms of his sweater is pulled over his hands and his arms keep sliding down the glass of the window.

Otabek entraps his hands with his and holds him in place. “Please, just a little more.” Otabek’s leaning into his arched back now to whisper and mouth into his ear. The position is awkward, but Otabek could ask him for the moon right now and he’d probably say yes.

“Otabek I’m so close.”

“Hold on for me. Trust me. Yura. Please.”

Yuri can feel the nudge of Otabek’s little finger. He’s never gone this far with himself before, and he had no idea that he could feel this full without- God damn it he wants Otabek’s cock.

Yuri becomes a slave to every twist and turn of Otabek’s wrist. His fingers wring out all sorts of noises he would have never imagined making. “Beka, please.” Everything begins with the firm thrust of his digits, and everything ends when they pull back. “Beka, please.”

The question, “Do you want to go to bed now Yura?” pulls him back to reality. Otabek’s hands clasped over his own are no longer enough to keep his boneless body upright. He’s weak in the knees and slumped over awkwardly because of it, and in their current position, Otabek can’t move to support his weight without risking sending him face first into the thick windowpane.

“Yes,” Yuri sobs.  

Otabek’s withdrawals his fingers slowly, one finger at a time. He makes sure to swallow up any hoarse and needy moans of protest with kisses that scorch his already bruised and over kissed lips.

“On your back okay?” He’s not sure why Otabek asks. He’s so fucked out and love drunk and needy he can’t do much of anything other than let Otabek manipulate his body and shove pillows underneath his hips.

Yuri toys with the lace hem of the sweater, rucked up over his abdomen.  Yuri wonders if he should get naked. He shimmies out of the sweater at the very least. While he struggles with the sweater, he can hear the crinkle of a condom wrapper in the distance. “Otabek, take your clothes off,” he begs.

When he returns to bed, Yuri can discern that Otabek did in fact listen. He wears nothing but the black knee brace.

Otabek presses his knees to his chest, and thrusts in one slow and fluid motion.

“Otabek-“ his partner’s name spills out of his mouth in a quick gasp.

“Yuri,” Otabek kisses him again. Kisses him long and slow like he’s still trying to seduce him and isn’t buried impossibly deep inside of him. “Relax.” Otabek gives him another kiss. This time, a peck on the mouth. “You need to relax Yuri, or I’m going to come.”

Otabek waits for him to cool down by doing little more than tracing his collar bones with his lips and saying all kinds of things in Kazakh that Yuri didn’t understand.

“Okay,” Yuri breathes finally. “I’m ready for you Otabek.”

Sometimes between the skating, and carefully chosen words, and the nice clothes, and the calm demeanor, it’s hard to remember that Otabek is human. Otabek is human and has human limits too. Otabek has teased him relentlessly for god knows how long without so much as allowing himself to be touched.

That becomes immediately apparent in Otabek’s rough and uneven thrusts. Otabek is relentless with his body.

Yuri accepts it completely. Can’t believe that he went so long without it. Otabek’s unyielding pace is consistent with his iron hand and velvet glove personality. He loves it, wants nothing more than to accommodate it.

Yuri widens the position of his hips, grabs the balls of his feet with his hands, and pulls his legs downward to the bed.

It allows Otabek to somehow thrust deeper until there is nothing left but the sensation of Otabek inside, the slow stretch of his muscles, and the slight scratch of the lace skirt against his thighs.

Yuri can tell that Otabek is close. His touches are erratic. A hand raked down his cheek and chest, a firm squeeze to the exposed bottom of his thighs and the cheeks of his ass. Otabek all but lays on top of him to kiss him, and Yuri fights to sneak a hand in-between and tend to his cock.

Yuri’s name is on his tongue, like a spell to keep them grounded. “Yuri,”

“Yuri,”

“Yura,”

“Otabek,”

“Please come now Yuri.” It’s a request that he’s rarely able to deny Otabek. He spills shamelessly into his own hand. Otabek fucks him through the orgasm. Even though the condom prevents him from feeling everything he can feel the other man’s cock twitch in release within him.

The rest of the evening is kind of fuzzy after that. He remembers at some point Otabek peeled the sweat and pre-come damp skirt off his body and coaxed him into the shower. They ordered room service, and talked about the next day’s short program. But for most of the evening, hell for most of the rest of the time he spent in Salt Lake, he dwelled on a single question to which he knew there was no answer. Why hadn’t they tried it that way sooner?


“Hey um,” Yuri gestures to a red box lined with a thin gold embossed border the second that Otabek answers his Facetime call. “What the fuck is this?”

“Your birthday gift. Did you open it?”

Yuri grouses. “I’m not some high maintenance bitch. I don’t need fancy shit from you.”

“Did you even open it Yuri?” Otabek draws his mouth into a thin line. Like he’s trying really hard to not get pissy. Otabek speaks again before he can argue. “Just open it. If you don’t like it or think it’s too much, we can send it back.”

Yuri doesn’t have to open the Cartier box to know that whatever it is, it’s too fucking expensive.

Yuri opens the box and immediately slams it back closed. If he saw what he thought he saw, there’s no way he’s going to have the wherewithal to send it back.

“Go on actually look at it,” he says in short terse syllables. It’s the same exasperated tone of voice that tells him during break at the rink, “Yuri, I assure you I get it. I just don’t find it funny,” to a hilarious meme.

Yuri does as he’s told. There’s a long thin gold chain wrapped around the raised white middle of the box. At the bottom, the chain droops at the weight of a small gold charm. It’s the outline of a panther facing front ways with it’s head turned and paws crossed. It’s single eye is emerald, and the nose is a minute piece of onyx.

 It’s fucking rad.

“You really did not need to,” but he’s already propping his phone up against his open laptop screen and scrambling to put the necklace on.

“But it is something you like?”

“Um yeah.” Yuri says with an incredulous tone in his voice. “Just don’t think that I ever like, expect it. Okay?”

“I wanted to.” Otabek says firmly. “I can’t bake cake, and Farida was on a class trip last weekend. I couldn’t get anyone to help me.”

“This? For not being able to bake? Talk about overcompensation.” Yuri really shouldn’t bitch. Almost anything Otabek’s ever done to induce irritation in him is something that he’s done as well. This includes sending over priced gifts on a whim. “It’s really nice,” Yuri says in a dreamy tone as he strokes the pendant. “Thank you Otabek.”

“So what is it that you wanted to show me?” Otabek asks, effectively deciding that he’s done well enough with the necklace, and there’s no need to dwell on it. He moves onto last night’s conversation, a barrage of text messages sent after Otabek had gone to sleep.

“Oh, man I don’t know. I don’t wanna make it feel like I’m not appreciating your gift.” If Otabek’s gift was extravagant, Lilia’s was…..

“Show me.”

“Okay,” Yuri tries to hold his phone steady as he moves through Lilia’s enormous house. “So you know how you saw my nails were all fucked up when I met you at Four Continents?” Hard to tell. Four Continents was an event that Otabek historically owned. He was positively livid afterwards. Like aggressively turned down desert at dinner. That kind of livid.

Awarded silver due to an unfortunately great performance by JJ. Fucker had to peak eventually.  

Otabek nods.

Yuri reaches the front door, throws on the pair of sandals that only get worn when Lilia bitches at him to take out the trash, and goes outside.

“Are you going outside?”

“Just wait okay?” Yuri can hardly contain his excitement. He fishes a key out of his pocket and unlocks the cream colored door in front of him. He throws on a light, and turns the phone around so he can show Otabek the room.

“You got…an empty room?”

“No,” Yuri scoffs. “So you know, Lilia lives in a big old house. And big old houses have carriage houses.” He knows Otabek knows this, cause his mother’s house has all that bullshit: carriage houses, a guest house, a long abandoned servant’s quarters. “So Yakov stayed here when he lived with us because “boundaries.” He moved out last May, and Lilia and I have spent the past year repainting and getting the old man funk out of the walls.” Yuri shows him the impossibly small kitchen and sitting area that blend together into one room. “Look,” he angles the camera “spiral staircase.”

“You don’t have any furniture,” Otabek notes when he pans his phone around the upstairs space.

“Nothing gets passed you Altin.”  Yuri turns the phone back to his face. There’s nothing more for Otabek to see.

“It’s nice.”

“It’ll be nicer when you come visit.” Yuri sinks down to the carpet and lays back. There’s no urgency to go back inside. His hands immediately fly back to the pendant. Otabek is one smooth fucker. How can someone be so smooth and also not understand how “Spicy Boys,” is a hilarious meme or how snapchat filters work?  He’s basically an old man trapped in a twenty year old body, and yet he’s still smooth like untouched ice.


 “Oi, shouldn’t we be sleeping and stretching right now?” Yuri asks. It’s the same kind of, “but since you’re not, I’m not,” tone that indicates he’s willing to go along with whatever absurd plan that Otabek has cooked up.

He’d like to be honest and say that compared to Worlds and Grand Prix finals of the past, this is relatively tame. The fact of the matter is, Yuri’s slightly pissed off, but simultaneously interested tone makes him lightheaded and reckless in a way that no one else can.

“We’re crossing something off our list.”

Yuri rolls his eyes. It’s not rush hour traffic anymore, but the train car is cramped. He’s pushed up into Yuri’s chest, and Yuri’s splayed out against the window. “You got me there,” he grins and catches his lip in the bottom of his teeth. “Got me on JR.” Yuri looks from one end of the car to the other. “We could fit so many more people in here.”

“No,” Otabek’s eyes widen. The car is already cramped.

“Seriously, if this were rush hour? So many more. Look. I turn right or left,” Yuri does so. “I can take a half step before I’m hip to ass with that businessman. We’re good for another ten or so people in the car.”

They ride the train for three stops exactly. When they get out they walk past ramen shops with low hanging red lanterns, and a news stand that sold a hodgepodge of items such as used books and face masks and band aids. They pass dozens of other signs in red and yellow and blue that pop out against the blackness of the night. Otabek can’t read any of them. The restaurant signs are universal. Big display windows with plastic renditions of the dishes served inside. Otabek can only assume that the logic is, simple. If the facsimile looks good enough to eat, the real thing must be divine.

“This is the third time I’ve gone to Japan.” Otabek notes dryly. “First time I’ve gotten to do much of anything.” Above all else, he’s amazed at how quiet things are. He could hear a pin drop on the rush hour train. Even now as people walk passed them on their way home from work and school, the streets are near silent.

“Oh yeah, that’s right. You weren’t feeling well last year at NHK huh? Then we’ll have to take the train to Kabuchiko tomorrow after the free.” Yuri smirks, and Otabek isn’t quite sure why.

The conversation stalls between them for a few blocks.

“It’s a shame it’s not quite cherry blossom season yet,” Yuri notes.

Otabek hums, “hm” in response. He knows that spring still hasn’t quite made it to Saitama yet. The air remains crisp and damp as if it could start snowing again on a whim despite the fact that heavy jackets and gloves could be discarded.

“Do you know where we’re going Otabek?” Yuri asks after they cross a pay by the hour parking lot and duck into an alley. It’s not an impossibly narrow road of the uniquely Japanese variety. A real alley way where shop keepers placed garbage for municipal pickup and smoked cigarettes on hasty breaks.

“I think so.” He steers Yuri by the elbow around the corner and back onto another side street, oh. There it is.

A crimson red torii marks the entrance to the tiny shrine. He guides Yuri towards the entrance.

“What’s this about?”

“It’s not a pilgrimage, but it’s a start right?”

Yuri nods. Otabek wants to hold on to Yuri’s wide eyed, slack jawed stare forever. He didn’t know that anything other than skating could induce it.

“Yeah,” he whispers finally. It’s Yuri that steers them underneath the arch of the torii and to the actual shrine.

“Okay,” Otabek fishes a few one yen coins from his pocket. “Do we make a wish? Or pray? How is it done?” he speaks rapidly because he can’t remember the specifics of what they’re supposed to do even though he looked it up online.

“It’s whatever Otabek. There’s no right way to do it. Just think about whatever you want to think about…Watch.” Yuri tosses the coin, claps his mitten clad hands twice, and goes silent for a moment. Then, he pulls on the long coarse rope that hangs between them.  The sound of the bell should cut across the near silent night air like a knife. It doesn’t. The sound of metal against metal is nothing more than a muted crinkle. “Now you.”

Otabek repeats the same actions as Yuri. He hopes it worked.

“Okay, one more,” Yuri digs into his pocket and thrusts another coin into his hand.

“I’m not a cheapskate like  you.” Yuri supplies when he opens his palm and sees the hollow centered five yen coin in his hand. “Besides we need to wish for a good summer.”

“What if I already did?”

“Bullshit,” Yuri interjects. “You wished for a good free skate tomorrow, just like me.”

Otabek smiles and looks back toward the wooden box which holds countless offerings beneath wooden slats on top. Is he that predictable? Or, is it that Yuri can read him that well? They go through the motions again, this time in tandem. The bell is louder when they both pull on the rope.

Afterward, Yuri locks his pinky with Otabek’s. It’s strange how their bodies can touch so slightly, yet it can generate so much heat between them. “Wanna talk about it?” Yuri asks after a long moment of nothing but silence between them. The question is usually reserved for after the podium.

“Not particularly.” Otabek clenches and unclenches his jaw. He feels the muscles in his face constrict and relax alongside the low simmer like burn of Yuri’s eyes upon him. Fifth is a difficult spot to get out of and still medal. Not impossible, just needlessly complicated. Otabek often does not have the patience for things that are needlessly complicated.

 “Want me to take a picture of  you underneath the torii?” Otabek asks on the way out.

“No, even with the flash on, it will probably look stupid,” Yuri responds. “Let’s get dinner instead. And Otabek?”

“Hm?”

“I’m actually really hungry, so don’t spend fifty million hours looking at all the window displays.”


“Beka,” His name drips out of Yuri’s name like a fine port from a green glass bottle. “Fuck me.”

Otabek releases the patch of skin on Yuri’s inner thigh that he’d been worrying between his lips and teeth with great care for quite some time now. “Trying to give me a consolation prize already?” He tries to make his voice sound even. He tries to hide the rapidness of his breath and the hoarseness in his voice. He knows where this is going and he should just shut it down. Shouldn’t tease, but he can’t when Yuri’s legs are so long and inviting.

“It not always about us competing against one another.”   Otabek can feel long cool fingers trace the nape of his neck and the shell of his ear before sinking into his hair and tugging his head upward to meet Yuri’s impossibly heavy gaze. “Remember the European Championship?”

Otabek stares at him with a slack jaw and eyes clouded with desire. How could he not? They stayed in a stylish Air BnB in Minsk. Yuri bent him over the desk in the study and had his way with him within thirty minutes of check in.

“Four Continents?”

Otabek gasps into the soft flesh of his thigh at the memory.

“That’s what I thought. So, you could just fuck me now.”

Otabek’s first and immediate thought is not unlike any other time that Yuri wedges his way underneath his painstakingly collected demeanor and kicks him right in the ego. Do it. Do it because he said so. Do it because he wants it, and because you want it too. Just when he thought that his body ached for Yuri all that it could, Salt Lake happened. The image of bending Yuri over and making him his wouldn’t leave him alone.

There’s a simultaneous tug at Otabek’s consciousness. One that says that if Yuri can’t see the immediate consequences, he should. Nothing about tomorrow is certain. It’s bad enough that they have to go into the competition with aches, pains, and bruises as it is. No matter how slow or how gentle, there was always the distinct possibility that it could leave Yuri feeling sore.

He knows this. Vancouver, Minsk, he’s woken up with a faint sting in his backside several times now, and Yuri is always cautious.

“No,” Otabek breathes hotly against his thigh. “We’ll wait.” He turns Yuri onto his stomach with little protest from the other man. It’s strange for Yuri to be this pliant, but he must understand deep down that Otabek is right. “I’ll use my mouth instead. Like in Almaty.”


 

It’s strange, how Yuri gave him an opening at the shrine, just a few hours ago. It were as if he somehow knew.

He looks to the man next to him. They don’t have any lights on in the room. He can only see Yuri by the light of the city which streams in from outside, and the thin strip of blinding light that seeps under the doorway from the hall.

Yuri’s sprawled out flat on his stomach. Long hair spilled down his back and around him on the pillows. He looks like he’s moments away from nodding off. Yuri wanted to know everything. Didn’t he?

Otabek sucks in a breath and, “I’m having surgery on my knee.”

Yuri slinks out from underneath the sheet. He doesn’t meet his gaze. Just takes the time to stretch, almost leisurely. He rocks up on the balls of his heels and arches his back. He’s still completely naked from earlier.

Despite the heaviness of what he just said, the sight makes something stir within Otabek.

Yuri walks to the mini fridge, bends at the waist, and extracts a bottle of Perrier. The crackling sound of the bottle being opened followed by the soft, “pssh,” of the carbonation cut the silence in the room between them. Yuri takes a long pull from the bottle. Then, he walks back to the bed. Instead of going to his own side, he crowds in on Otabek, sitting on the edge of Otabek’s side of the bed, and offers him the bottle.

Otabek can feel Yuri’s eyes on him as he swallows a bit of the bubbly liquid.

Yuri takes the bottle back. “Why the fuck would you say that out loud the night before the free skate?”

“Otabek,” Yuri says his name firmly. “I’m not stupid.” He laces their fingers together. “In skating, injuries don’t go away. They don’t always get better either. They’re weird. Not bad enough to stop completely, but not minor enough to ignore. Yuuko told me that once. Apparently Takeshi fucked his feet up really bad with stress fractures, and he didn’t even really know anything was wrong for a long time…”

Given Yuri’s reaction at the GPF, he didn’t expect such a soft reaction.  Yuri loses patience with chemistry problems easily. He uses the calculator on his phone to figure out a fifteen percent tip, even though Otabek has shown him how to do it mentally dozens of times. Yuri growls through his teeth in polite conversation, and calls his closest friends and companions awful names. Yet, somehow this man who is neither conventionally intelligent or appropriately expressive can express high levels of emotional intelligence on a whim.

Otabek sucks in a shallow breath, with the intention to speak, but Yuri keeps going. Keeps stunning him with words that are so calculated and poignant in the angry and unrefined way that only Yuri can be.

“The Nishigori brats sent me a link to an article just after Christmas and asked me to confirm or deny your injury. Sure it was a link to their blog, but if it was out to the media…” His voice trails off slightly. “I blocked them on twitter for like a whole week. They almost died.”

Yuri continues. “Not to mention,” Yuri purses his lips together as if he’s considering whether or not to keep talking. “Two time consecutive Four Continents champion Otabek Altin wouldn’t succeed that title without a fight. By the time I left Salt Lake, I knew for sure.”

Otabek nods. He feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of his shoulders, but at the same time he feels like another has been added. Yuri makes him feel far more stripped bare and exposed in ways that went beyond his skin against the thin hotel sheets.

“You clearly decided to stay the rest of the season for a reason.” Yuri takes another draught of Perrier. It’s strange to hear him talk so much at once, but he hangs onto every single word as if it is a lifeline. “Whether the injury isn’t urgent, or you’re stubborn I don’t know. It’s something we won’t be discussing tonight either.”

 Yuri puts the cap onto the bottle and sets it on the night stand. He then moves to straddle Otabek’s hips.  Yuri cards his fingers through Otabek’s hair, pushing stray strands back into place. Strips of fluorescent city lights lap at his skin. It makes him look washed out. It makes him look ghost like, ethereal.

 “Why would you go through all of this to sabotage yourself like that? Dwelling on it isn’t getting you to the podium jackass. You said so yourself.”

“What would you have me do? You were upset with me after the Grand Prix Final.”

“I know.” Yuri kisses his temple. “I’m sorry.” Yuri moves out of his lap and retreats to his side of the bed. He quickly draws Otabek’s hand back into his own. ”I fucked up.”

Yuri stops speaking, and Otabek cannot think of anything to say in response. He can feel the faint yet acidic burn of ineptitude blossom in his gut and rise up his throat like bile. It could be his body rejecting the Perrier. It’s foul at a basal level.

It very may well be the first time he’s ever felt compelled to fill a conversational silence. That’s how raw and confused he feels right now.

“Why did you not fuck me tonight?”

Otabek squints at Yuri. Maybe on a different night he’d be able to attach the non-sequitur to their current conversation and carry it forward seamlessly. At present, he cannot.

“You didn’t want to hurt me. Right?”

Otabek nods.

“But you wanted to fuck me.”

“Very much so.”

“And I wanted to. But we didn’t, because we both have to get shit done tomorrow. Right?”

Otabek nods again. Yuri’s words have slipped from strange and alluring to painfully obvious, and yet he blindly continues to cling to each word.  

Yuri laces his long thin fingers into his. The sharp raised bump of Yuri’s knuckles remind him of the way his mother’s wedding set digs sharply into his curled fingers. He finds this feeling more comforting than he should. “I don’t fucking know, Beka.” Yuri usually only calls him that when they’re naked and crashing against each other. It’s jarring to hear him call him that so tenderly now. 

“I want to know about everything that goes on when we’re not together. But, I don’t ever want to hurt you. If we need to wait to talk about it until after tomorrow, that’s fine.”

Otabek may never completely understand why Yuri reacts to certain things the way that he does. Otabek is still just as confused now as he was when he prayed for Yuri’s understanding at the shrine. However, there’s something else there too. Thin, and glimmering, and dangerous. It’s the feeling of gratitude. Yuri is confusing and flighty. Relentless and frustrating.

Yuri  could've easily responded in anger, or rejected him for the sake of thinking about the free skate. Instead, Yuri met him halfway with understanding. With a squeeze of Yuri's hand, Otabek tries to tell his partner that he is grateful for it.

"I love you Otabek." 

Chapter Text

The sound system is cranked too high so the sound of the horns that introduce the Russian national anthem is almost deafening.

Rossiya – svyashchennaya nasha derzhava

“I don’t know how the fuck you managed to claw your way up to the podium, but I am so fucking proud of you.” Among Yuri’s many talents, it includes talking through his teeth and never making his podium smile budge.

Rossiya – lyubimaya nasha strana.

His free skate wasn’t a disaster by any means, but it wasn’t easy. There were a lot of changed spins, and he had to reduce one of the single quads to a triple. No raised arms today. He collapsed on the ice as soon as the music faded away.

Moguchaya volya, velikaya slava –

In the back of his mind, he knows that he should feel proud to have the flag of Kazakhstan fly high in medal ceremony at all. Yet and still, this is the first time in a long time that he’s competed against Yuri and hasn’t taken gold to Yuri’s silver, or silver to Yuri’s gold.

Tvoyo dostoyan'ye na vse vremena!

Otabek is a man of habit, and it’s often difficult for him to remember that the world does not accommodate men of habit. The world which is filled with unpredictable people, unseen consequences, and unknown futures. The world knows few true habits.

Slav'sya, Otechestvo nashe svobodnoye

From the corner of his eye he can see JJ on the other side of Yuri glaring at both of them, not in annoyance at their disrespect. He looks upset that they’re speaking in Russian, and he’s being purposefully left out of the conversation.  

Ot yuzhnykh morey do polyarnovo kraya

“How badly are you in pain?”

Raskinulis' nashi lesa i polya.

“I’ll manage.” He manages to mumble.

Odna ty na svete! Odna ty takaya

“We should talk about our plans for the summer. Shouldn’t we?”

Khranimaya Bogom rodnaya zemlya

Otabek can’t talk through the corner of his mouth as skillfully Yuri can. So he bites his tongue and waits to speak until after the anthem is over. During the closing versus of the Russian national anthem, Otabek clutches his medal to the satin of his costume for fear that his heart will beat out through his chest.

Yuri has grown so much since he reintroduced himself in Barcelona. He’s found a way to process and refine his raw natural talent without losing a bit of the unbridled momentum and bite which demands the audiences’ attention when he skates. Somehow, against all odds; Yuri has let him in and allowed him see all of that and more.

As if he can sense the other man’s discomfort and anxiety, Yuri pulls him close. Too close for a friendly press photo, not close enough to quell the torrent of emotions that swell just below his throat.

“You’re the world champion. Your pride should belong to you and you alone,” he says for lack of ability to process much of anything else. It was a long time coming for Yuri. Like him, he climbed the ranks season by season. First bronze, then silver, and then gold. “I do feel pride for you Yuri.”


It’s crowded in St. Petersburg, even when he’s wandering through the large vacant corridors of Lillia’s Russian Revival style home looking for whatever object it is that Yuri had forgotten to move from the main home to the carriage house.

It’s crowded when he wakes up in Yuri’s bed between unimaginably expensive white tiger striped Versace sheets.  The bed is jammed into the small living room of the carriage house instead of where it should be, upstairs in the bedroom. He’s healed enough by now that he could probably make the trek up the narrow spiral staircase each night to go to bed, but Yuri insists that the mattress isn’t going back upstairs until he’s fully healed. The sofa and arm chair wasn’t moved upstairs in its place. They’re pushed haphazardly against the wall, and because the carriage house is small to begin with, the living room looks stuffed. Otabek has suggested they bridge the slight gap between the couch and the bed and just push it up against the bedframe in case if Yuri falls out of bed (again).

 The full-sized bed would be barely large enough for the both of them, if Yuri were a restful sleeper. Otabek endures the tossing and the turning. He’s usually able to kiss away Yuri’s distress and sooth him back into a restful sleep. That alone is worth the occasional elbow to the chest, or waking up with a mouthful of satin blonde hair. Sharing a bed with Princess Organ Grinder on the other hand is a different task.  The cat lives up to her title of royalty, and she commands her share of the bed. Her favorites include laying on his chest, or right between his and Yuri’s feet where she’s easily kicked off the bed.

This morning he wakes with Yuri laying on his side, albeit taking up the bulk of the space on the bed. He lays in a “c” shape, and his is rear pressed into Otabek’s crotch.

Carefully, Otabek cards the long flaxen strands of hair away from Yuri’s face, and plants a feather light kiss on his neck.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Yuri catches his wrist when he turns to rise from the bed.

“Physical therapy,” he says simply.

Yuri fishes his phone out from underneath the pillow and stares at the screen. “It’s so early,” Which is accompanied by a roll of his hips. “Lay with me a little longer.”

Otabek leans onto Yuri’s side of the bed, tilts the other man’s chin, and goes in for a lazy and barely there kind of morning breath kiss that he pretends to hate. Of course, it takes Yuri seconds to deepen the kiss and continue to roll his hips in ways that Otabek can only describe as sinful. 

“Yuri,” he warns with a firm hand on the other man’s hip.

“I’m the World Champion,” Yuri says in a jumbled mass of sleep addled syllables that are intended to sound firm, yet captivating.

They’re endearing to the opposite effect of what Yuri wants. Otabek wants to caress Yuri’s cheeks and give him chaste butterfly kisses, not turn him over and ravish him.

Yuri turns over so that they’re facing one another. Yuri hooks his legs over Otabek’s hip and grinds into him once more. The action makes his own arousal undeniable, and it finally wakes up in Otabek what Yuri was goading all along.  Yuri wets his lips with his tongue before he speaks again “Let me show you just how humble a winner I can be.”

Otabek doesn’t mind that Yuri’s still riding the high from his gold at Worlds almost two months onward. He felt the same way last year.

Not to mention, in St. Petersburg, there are no informal races to determine who makes dinner. No informal bets on who bottoms or tops based on who can land the most quads during practice. His body won’t allow for this kind of playful competition between them just yet.

Otabek runs a hand down Yuri’s flank. Yuri’s skin is far silkier than the 1000 thread count sheets he’s twisted up in, and in an instant he decides that he can take the later train. It’s worth it, even if that means dealing with the morning commute crowd.

He lets Yuri tease him to full arousal with a few flicks of the tongue. He holds his hair high on the crown of his head in a sloppy makeshift bun so he can see the hollow of Yuri’s cheeks and the delicate bob of his throat.

Yuri pulls away when he’s satisfied with the state that Otabek is in: hard, dripping, and needy. He climbs up onto his chest so that he’s straddling Otabek. Then, he presses the pads of his index and middle finger gently to Otabek’s mouth. “Suck.” It’s an order, not a request.

With an arched eyebrow, Otabek asks him, “This is how you show me your humility?” He complies with Yuri’s request by accepting his fingers and mirroring the actions that Yuri just performed on his cock.

“You like it,” Yuri says simply. “When I tell you what to do.”

He’s rewarded by the sight of Yuri’s eyes going wide when he breaches himself, first with his index finger and then with his middle. Otabek would prefer to open Yuri up with his own fingers. He loves to tease Yuri…To the point that if he had to choose one or the other: teasing or going all the way, he’d chose the teasing every time. However, with Yuri’s hands occupied, it gives him the chance to tease in other ways. He rubs Yuri’s perineum until he relaxes around his own fingers, then his hands slide upward. He lets the weight of Yuri’s sac rest in his hand, and gives him a few slow teasing pumps with his fist.

“That’s enough Altin,” It comes out as a low growl, but Otabek knows. Eyes blown wide and covered in a sticky sheen of sweat, Yuri is ready for him. He reaches to the side of the bed and locates the bottle of lube they always keep nearby.

The rest he leaves up to Yuri.  He lets the other man pin his wrists down to the mattress.  He watches Yuri slide down his body passively, as if this were some kind of dream.  He gets lost in the drag and the friction as Yuri rides him. Can hardly believe it when Yuri comes on his chest, completely untouched.

Aftewards, they sip coffee in bed. “Let me take you?” Yuri asks. Yuri has at least two coffee mugs, and he takes great pride in reminding him this each day when he pours two separate cups of coffee and adds sugar only to one.

Otabek almost misses the taste of black coffee, that is until he kisses Yuri and gets the taste thick and bitter on his tongue.

“No,” Otabek rises and stretches. He places his palms on the small of his back and rubs slightly. He wonders what clothes he has in the suitcase stowed downstairs. He hopes there’s something suitable in there, so that Yuri doesn’t have to clamor upstairs and get him something else. “You need to run. I’ll take the train.”

He can see Yuri’s face fall slightly. “You can pick me up.” That pushes a smile back onto his face.  

St. Petersburg is crowded, especially when he misses the early train, and is forced to mingle with the commuter crowd. On the train, he’s wedged between an old woman with a shopping basket filled with far too much summer squash for one person, and a man who is dressed in a fine suit. Inexplicably, he smells like pungent cheese. Otabek hopes the scent isn’t contagious. He chose to laze in bed for an extra hour, and so he may be deserving of the punishment. His physician is an innocent party, and does not deserve to deal with that smell on this clothes.

Dr. Rebane is a mousy woman who is clearly middle aged, but has the voice and the face of a child. She’s an Estonian transplant. She blinks at him through large cola bottle glasses and says “I attended medical school here and never left. I doubt you will either.” She says it with a smile before having him get onto a yoga mat and do stretches. Her husband is Yuri’s chiropractor, and his examination rooms are right down the hallway.

Otabek wants to respond, “You’ve never been to Almaty then,” but the response dies in his throat when she has him switch over to a hamstring stretch. These always make him shiver and sweat like he’s run a great distance immediately after performing his free skate.

“Your making good progress Otabek,” she says after subjecting him to her scrutinous, over the rim of her glasses stare. “You’re not still in pain are you?”

“Not really,” there’s still an aching tenderness in his knee, especially after physical therapy sessions, but it’s lessened substantially since before his surgery in mid April. For that he is grateful.

“I expect you to make a full recovery.” Dr. Rebane’s smile is almost as unnerving as her smile. Tight and thin lipped, it contrasts starkly with her high pitched, round ended voice. He hopes he’s not subjected to it again any time soon.

“When can I get back on the ice?”

“Not yet. Your progress is good, but you’re still human and need time to heal.”

“Not full practice. Compulsories?” He misses the long and languid figure eights that cleared his mind like nothing else. He can manage off ice exercises just fine. But there’s no off ice alternative to clearing his mind like the way a smooth and nonplussed loop around the rink. Running is a close second, but he’s limited to the artificial terrane of ellipticals and treadmills. Reading is good, but it’s difficult to enjoy literature when it is the body holds the excess energy, not the mind. In short, Otabek suffers from a cluttered mind and little outlet.

“I can’t tell you those are fine. If I do, you’ll just go back to regular practice.”

After Dr. Rebane escorts him out of the examination room, Otabek can hear the low roll of the Ducati’s engine. The sound hits his ears before he can even get out of the “waiting room” which is little more than a glorified living room. Dr. Rebane’s office is little more than the downstairs portion of a large art deco home on the edge of the city’s center.

“Hey,” Yuri greets him simply.

St. Petersburg was crowded, and this was never more apparent than when he was on the back of the Ducati. She was brand new, with a fresh coat of factory issue, “Star White Silk,” paint. The gas tank had a very non-standard tiger decal hastily slapped on. The Multistrada, would begrudgingly hold a passenger, but not without protest. It’s painfully apparent whenever Yuri takes turns too quickly and the bike dips low to the pavement. It’s something that is never a problem with the Harley.

However, Otabek understands the love and fascination of a new toy. Especially one that has been coveted for so long. He and Yuri poured over almost every model on the market just after his surgery. It may have been the only kept him sane during the few short weeks they spent in Almaty together just after Worlds. 

Mother had moved him into the only bedroom on the main floor. It was a large room that housed two full sized beds which were separated by an end table. Yuri of course was intended to occupy the other bed...Unless he didn’t want to. Of course, he didn’t want to. Each night, he slunk under the covers of his bed and left the other untouched.

Otabek had found it unsettling. “Yuri, I’m being toyed with.” He said the day after the procedure, while Yuri was trying to coax him into taking his pain medication. Rapidly, he explained that the bedroom was one that his cousin and her boyfriend of nine years, happily unmarried of course, stayed in when his particularly prudish aunt traveled with them. She would insist they stay in separate rooms, and his mother would house them in the same room with separate beds when his aunt insisted on the arrangement.

 “Don’t be stupid,” Yuri says while he aggressively offers him a bottle of pomegranate juice. “First of all, and don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t think your mom would know a joke if it bit her in the ass.”

To that Otabek nods blankly. There’s no malice in Yuri’s voice, just something that is almost close to the truth.

“Second, your mother said that this is the only bedroom on the ground floor. Trust me, you do not want to have to climb up stairs. Plus, she knows I need to be close.” To this, Yuri shakes the bottle of juice in his face again and he finally accepts it. “I’m the only one that can get you to take your fucking pills on time.”

He takes the few pills from Yuri’s hand. He puts one pill on his tongue at a time, and follows it up with a small sip of juice.

“Your mother’s obviously cool with everything.”

Otabek nods. That is true, he’s asked her for help enough times in the past.

“Yusef is cool with it too, I think. I can’t tell. He’s kind of a weird guy. Nice but weird.”

Otabek nods. It’s an apt descriptor of his stepfather. It helps ease the discomfort he’d felt towards sharing a bed with his lover in his parents’ home, but doesn’t make it dissipate completely.

“He was showing me their wedding china yesterday. No context at all just, “Hey, look at these. Look at that gold leaf inlay. Aren’t these nice?” Then, he dropped a serving plate explaining how to tell the difference between bone china and regular china.”

Otabek laughs.   

“But I think I understand. When we go to Moscow next month, I’ll probably freak out too.” Yuri opens his laptop and climbs in bed next to him. “I’ll take your mind off of it. Help me pick something. I’m doing an ad campaign for the IFS magazine when we get back.”

“It’s imprudent to spend money you don’t yet have.”

In the end Otabek can’t steer him away from racing models, even though there are several styles that would give him just as much sleek and speed as the Ducati. Yuri wouldn’t be bothered with vintage styles either, even though Otabek knows that Yuri would’ve looked stunning on a 70s Scrambler. They decided on the 950 together. Although the raw power of the 1200 was appealing, Yuri would be using the bike mostly for commuting. The 950 served that purpose better.

Despite his qualms with the Multistrada, he finds himself on the back of the bike often. He’d had his bike shipped to St. Petersburg as soon as they left Almaty, but there’s something about wrapping his hands around Yuri’s slim waist and burying his face in Yuri’s shoulder. It feeds that painful addiction to be led wherever Yuri’s whims decide to take him.

Yuri leans up to let Otabek situate himself on the bike.

 “Can we ride past the beach?”

Otabek carefully arranges himself on the back of the bike.

“You’ll have to settle for the riverfront if we’re going to make lesson on time. You wanna drive?”

Otabek nods “no,” into his shoulder. He’s already sunk forward into Yuri’s back, and has no intention of moving again any time soon. Perhaps sensing the spark of rebellion in him, Dr. Rebane put him through the wringer during floor exercises today.

The fact of the matter is, Otabek had expected his uncertainty to recede with the passage of time and tangible proof of progress. This isn’t exactly so. The pain in his knee is reduced, and that raises more questions, Is it fixed, or did he just by himself a little more time? His range of motion is improving, but what will that mean in less than an hour when he steps into a dance class for the first time in almost a decade?

The people of Kazakhstan were kind enough to find importance in his off ice training with the top dancers in St. Petersburg over the summer. His fans were thrilled that his routines for the next season were to be choreographed by figure skating legend, Viktor Nikiforov. Yet and still, it implied that they expected more of him this season than ever before.

St. Petersburg is loud. It’s filled with the indistinguishable chatter of millions of strangers going about their lives, much like Almaty, but the context and the intensity is vastly different. It’s not uncommon for he and Yuri to get stopped at the market by the shrill cry of “Yuratcka,”while fans ask for photos. Lilia’s neighbor is a conductor in training at St. Petersburg’s Philharmonic Orchestra. His young daughter has taken an affinity for the trumpet, but her talent does not match her ability. Her father makes her practice outside on the porch.

St. Petersburg is loud, especially when he experiences most of the city against the low and constant purr of the Ducati’s engine. The whip of the wind blocks out the rest, and the noise distracts him from thinking about all of these newer, little uncertainties that crop up.

It’s perfect riding weather. The breeze is cool, and it balances the heat that comes with the days which skirt on the end of spring at the cusp of summer. They’re lucky today. The riverfront smells of wet-meets-dirt petrichor and little else. Their past few visits have been sullied by the pungent odor of algae bloom.

Yuri takes them the long way around. Across the Troitskiy bridge and around the long curvy road near the museum.  No matter how many time they take this route, the long golden spire of the cathedral makes him go slack jawed. In the absence of other, taller buildings around it, the cathedral does in fact look as if it successfully reaching upward into the heavens and touching god.

Yuri revs the engine and pulls forward past several cars in the slow lane. The thunder of the engine causes several pedestrians on the side walk to turn and gawk. Otabek can’t blame him for the flashy behavior. When he does this, Yuri pulls his body closer on the bike without fail.

Otabek does the same, and he wonders just how many bad habits he’s instilled in Yuri over the past year.

Yuri stops and pays for by-the-hour parking near a small tourist trap on the riverbank. There are a few small souvenir stands, kiosks which offer guided tours of the island, and lots of food stands. Yuri buys them some kvas and savory blinchiki. “Lilia will not be pleased,” he notes as he takes a small bite of the crepe. Typically, they have an early lunch at the main house before going off to other things. Usually for Otabek it’s upper body strength training, repeating his physical therapy exercises, and putting as many kilometers as he can on the treadmill at an agonizingly slow pace.

Lilia can’t prepare an appetizing meal to save her life, but she can provide something that is designed to help them hit all of their macronutrients.

Yuri scoffs. “You wanted a distraction right?”

“Hm.”

“I don’t understand it,” Yuri huffs. Otabek opens his mouth to respond, but doesn’t get the opportunity. A seagull wanders up to Yuri’s feet and begins screeching loudly, demanding a piece of crepe.  “Fuck off, fucking bird,” Yuri yells through his teeth and waves frantically at the bird to get it to go away. “That’s always the fucking problem with hanging out down here. It takes a lot of fucking nerve.” He shakes his fist at more nearby gulls in an attempt to get them away. 

Yuri pauses after the birds have scattered. After a long while, he speaks again. “Look, I know. There’s more than one path, or whatever. But you’ve dealt with way scarier shit than a dance class.”

Otabek cannot deny the truth that’s embedded in the statement, but the feeling of something dark and indiscernible still clenches at his gut.

“Besides, I’ve made arrangements so that you’ll be begging to have Lilia staring down her crooked hag nose at you while you’re at the barre.”

“Huh?”

“You’ll see.”

“Yuri, tell me.”


It becomes very apparent what the “arrangements” are when Yuri arrives at Lilia’s studio ten minutes late and finds the door locked. “Oi, fuck heads.” Yuri pounds on the door. “I’m coming in, so put your clothes back on.” Yuri extracts his key ring from his pocket, and takes extra time to find and extract the long silver key from the rest.

Otabek knew that he and Yuri would be working with the Katsuki-Nikiforov duo, although they’d been pretty tight lipped on when he’d actually arrive in St. Petersburg. “Well you know, my Yuuri,” and of course he always says it in that way. “My” Yuuri to differentiate from “his” Yuri. “Has to finish out the semester. I can’t believe he’s finished with the first year of his MFA already!” During these calls, Otabek has to wrestle the phone from Yuri’s hand to keep him from hanging up on their choreographers.

Yuri locks pinkies with him and leads him into the studio. They find Yuuri inconspicuously stretching at the barre while Viktor stretches on the floor.

“Whatever made you think that we wouldn’t be clothed Yuri?” Viktor beams. But it’s obvious in the way that Yuuri’s face flushes and the dust of a blush on Viktor’s collarbones that perhaps the door had been locked for a reason.

It’s loud in St. Petersburg. His career is no longer himself and Anton quietly discussing what needs to be done in order to medal as much as possible this season. It’s Lilia catching him fumbling with his key to the carriage house with a latte in hand. She scolds him relentlessly for having the extra sugar and caffeine.

It’s Viktor Nikiforov and Yuuri Katsuki arguing about which choreography to reveal first while they change clothes “Yuri’s is so exciting.”

“Yes, but Otabek’s will require more time to explain, Viktor.”

Otabek tries to tune it out. He focuses on the contrast of soft meets hard lines on Yuri’s body while he changes clothes.

Yuri looks up from his bag and locks eyes with him when the feeling of being stared at becomes too intense. “Later Altin,” his tone is heavy and no-nonsense. Otabek hasn’t heard it off ice before, but it makes sense given the context.

Later; once he gets back out on the ice, it will be Yakov. He’s sure of it. Contrary to Yuri’s prediction that he would take on another student he hasn’t done so thus far. Time is running out if he wanted to have a third skater competition ready by this year’s season.

While Yuri skates, it’s not uncommon for him to rotate through his physical therapy exercises in the spaces between where the foldable bleachers are pushed back and stowed away and the low rink wall. Earlier in the week, Yakov corrected his work with the resistance band, and then asked, “are you doing it like that because you want to fuck up your knee worse?” 

It's loud in St. Petersburg. When they emerge from the changing area, and Viktor Nikoforov proudly proclaims, “We have planned two gold medal worthy short programs.” His gaze shifts from Otabek to Yuri and back again. “So which one of you will capture their full potential?”

It’s a needlessly histrionic question.

“Otabek,” It’s loud in St. Petersburg, even when Yuri Katsuki says softly, “we’ve decided we’ll show you your routine in off ice form first, and then we’ll work on some of the basic motions that you might need to alter for off ice training.”

“And don’t worry!” Viktor gets up into his space and grasps onto his forearms like their old friends. Perhaps Plisetsky was correct. He’d understand and be able to process being barked at by Lillia right now. The screeching noise of a crow can be understood because crows are cunning and intelligent. Viktor’s current behavior makes Otabek want to crawl out of his skin and hide from the veteran skater. “My Yuuri’s insisted that the movements are all very modern. You can’t escape the ballet elements, but under no circumstances.” Viktor releases his forearms, “should you think of this as a ballet class!”  

Yuuri cuts in, “that’s correct. We decided on a mixture of-“

The sound of one lovebird squawking to another is garbled unintelligible, as the only one who can truly understand is the love bird’s mate. 

“Let’s begin,” Yuuri decides and queues up the music.

The shriek of birds with delicate plumage is deafening in St. Petersburg.


May melts into early June, and very little changes. It’s still loud in St. Petersburg, even if the bickering between Mila and Yuri has finally stopped. Yakov said they could go home, and Mila actually listened. It’s loud still in St. Petersburg, even after Viktor, Yuuri, and Yakov have called it a night. Yakov has finally accepted Viktor’s invitation to go drinking with them.   

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Yuri’s yelling, but they’re only a few feet away from one another.

Otabek sits on a low bench and tests the laces of his skates. He looks up at with his mouth open slightly. They’re separated by the low rail around the rink, but he feels exposed. He doesn’t quite know what to say to make the crease in Yuri’s forehead and the venom in his voice go away.

Slowly, like he’s trying to deactivate a bomb or show the police that he’s unarmed, he fishes a small piece of paper from the front pocket of his pullover. “Here.” He hands Yuri the piece of paper. This afternoon, Dr. Rebane cleared him for the following activities on ice: compulsories and step sequences EXCLUDING sit spins and layback spins. The letter even had it in big capital letters which were then highlighted in yellow. Jumps were also off limits, but he could practice a handful of upright spins.

Otabek watches Yuri’s eyes crawl across the paper.

“So, why’d you wait?” Yuri’s often the last in Yakov’s trope to leave the ice. They don’t actually have to vacate the rink until public skate finished. The rink on the other side of the arena was open for public skate, but this one was kept empty for the rest of the evening, just in case if the skaters needed to practice late into the night. Otabek always knew that Yuri had access to more resources than he did, but the option to have so much additional time on the ice really solidified the differences in their training regimens.

Yuri hands the slip of paper back to Otabek, and he zips it back up in his jacket. He locks eyes with Yuri, looks into those deep green stained glass window like eyes, and hopes that is answer enough.

“Well I know there’s no way the former World Champion would have any reason to feel self-conscious. So, you must want to show me something good.”

“Hm,” Otabek hums in response. Maybe. No matter how many times they exchange “I love you’s”, Yuri is still able to shock him and awe him by handling his emotions as if they were made of glass. Yet he simultaneously forces him to be stronger.

Otabek has always found that the past isn’t worth mulling over. It’s gone and it’s done, and as long as something is learned from the past, then it’s better to look forward to future action. It’s increasingly hard to do the longer he spends with Yuri. It’s hard not to think of his haphazard attempt at teaching Yuri the death spiral in a fool hearted and lovesick attempt at showing him, “something good.”

The differences between them, both on the ice and within their relationship, are monumental. Still, he cannot help but draw parallels between now and last summer in Almaty. It’s hard not to think about how a year ago, he picked the other man up at the airport, and tried not to stare too long when he walked around his apartment half naked.

“Something like that.” Wordlessly he moves to the ice and skates a few figure eights, long and slow. It’s like he’s just started skating lessons again. It’s like he never left the ice at all.

Yuri follows right behind him, and with an almost clairvoyant instinct picks up in his subtle changes from laps, to figure eights, to diagonals. Otabek pulls back after a few laps alone and grabs Yuri’s hand into his.

“How does it feel? You’re clearly taking your sweet time like always.”

It’s true, he longed for the slow drift of a compulsory movement around the rink more than any crowd stunning jump or spin during his time off.  

Otaek closes his eyes and does nothing but listen to the sharp and distinct sound of blades against ice.  He takes special care to listen to the constant sound of four blades, and notes how it differs from the steady hum of two.  It reminds him of the gold medal buried deep within the bark of the date tree in Almaty, and all of the rest which he keeps tucked away in his old room at his mother’s house. It intensifies the weight of Yuri’s hand against his own. Yuri’s right hand, the one that if you held it just right in the light, you could still see the faint scar from last summer.

“Good,” Otabek responds simply. “Better than you know.” He leads Yuri out to the middle of the rink and they spin around and around hand in hand several times.

“I understand more than you think,” Yuri responds with a scoff that tries to displace the softness that’s hidden there in his voice.

“Hm.” Otabek speaks again after a long silence. “Can I teach you another pairs move?”

“Nothing crazy. I know what you can and cannot do,” Yuri responds in the gruff, too fast tone that indicates he’s this close to showing more emotion than the situation warrants. He’s self-conscious about it.

“Nothing complicated,” Otabek says as he notes the red and blue lines beneath the ice. Absent mindedly, his eyes drift upward toward the hockey scoreboard and then to the high rafters of the ceiling. “Something simple. A pair camel?”

Yuri makes another incredulous scoffing noise. “That’s a legit pairs move? And you had me out doing the most dangerous one?”

“I’d wanted to impress you Yuri. You’re not easily impressed.”

“Whatever,” Yuri breaks eye contact to stare at the ice. “I still think we did it ass backwards.”

“Hm,” Otabek agrees. “We’ll go out for momentum, and meet at the center line? Your back to my front?”

“Standing on your left leg?”

“Correct.”

Yuri gives him a sharp nod in acknowledgement. They do a long half lap around their respective ends of the rink at Otabek’s pace. Then, almost as suddenly as they’d separated for momentum, they rejoin one another. Yuri falls into place behind him, and Otabek grabs the other man’s hand firm in his own. He lifts his right leg, and for the first time in almost a month and a half does something on the ice that’s more advanced than simple laps.

Yuri lifts his free leg too, so that both of their legs are extended outward and perfectly parallel. Although the way that Yuri grips him isn’t lost on Otabek; it’s loose and ready to separate at a moment’s notice of the first sign of something going wrong. After four rotations their natural momentum is gone, and they break away from each other.

Naturally, as if they hadn’t spent the nine months apart, they slide seamlessly into an impromptu step sequence. The movements are simple, and of course wildly unsynchronized. Yet, Yuri follows them without question letting Otabek set the pace.

Side by side Ina Bauer, because Yuri rarely has a routine without one. His long legs always look fantastic when splayed out on the ice. It highlights his slim frame as well as the new found elegance he worked tooth and nail to harness last season.

Then, onto a spread eagle. That’s about all he can do without violating the doctor’s orders. He’s at a loss for what to do next, and so is Yuri so they just sort of drift on the ice in opposing directions.

His body itches for more. He’d love to the end of the rink and do a long and loud cantilever all the way back to Yuri, but he knows his body’s limits and he knows why he’s only been cleared for mild work on the rink.

Yuri’s on the other end of the rink, unabashedly taking photos of him. He’s noticed that it’s habitual for him to break off whatever it is that he’s doing and reach for his phone.

Otabek closes the distance between them. Yuri, without missing a beat shoves his phone back into the pocket on his pullover and kisses him. Otabek hasn’t completely stopped, and Yuri has to steady them both. Their noses don’t quite slot against each other properly. They bump awkwardly against one another, which only makes Yuri double down on the kiss. He tilts his head slightly and demands even more of Otabek, teeth and tongue, and something else too that Otabek can’t describe. It’s deeper than simple affection. It’s more innocent than desire. Simultaneously, it says, “let’s go home,” and “let’s keep skating.”

“You’re still a sap,” Yuri insists when they part. Never mind the fact that he’s laced both of their hands together. “First time back, and your first thought is to ice dance with me?” From the moment he wakes up til the moment he falls asleep, Otabek is teased relentlessly by his partner. He has the wit and the patience to give as well as he gets with Yuri, but sometimes he doesn’t even have to try to rib back. He lives for the moments when Yuri’s façade cracks away, and there’s nothing left in the jest but tenderness in his voice.

Moments like right now.

“You like it,” it’s not a question. Otabek knows the truth.

Yuri breathes a simple response, “yeah.” Otabek notices how Yuri’s wormed one of his hands out of his grasp.

Yuri slides behind them so that Otabek’s back is pulled close to his chest. With his other arm draped across Otabek’s chest, Yuri holds his phone out in front to snap a photo. “Smile Otabek. Show me how much you love St. Petersburg.”

Yuri snaps a few photos, and then tries to make Otabek look at them. He’d much rather kiss at the places on Yuri’s body that he can reach. His strong jaw, his cheek, maybe he can catch his mouth if he turns a little more…

“Are you going to post those?” he asks when Yuri’s done scrolling. From the step sequence to the pose Yuri placed them in, they’re largely chaste.

“Maybe a few,” Yuri says with a tinge of uncertainty. “For sure, I’m going to print them and put them in frames.”

Otabek raises an eyebrow. “Sounds serious.”

“Are you fucking kidding me Altin?”

Otabek breaks away fully from his boyfriends’ grasp and races to the other end of the rink. Nothing matters except for the cold bite of the ice against the tips of his ears, and the sound of Yuri’s skates scratching the ice in alternative succession to his own.


Otabek smooths back the dogeared page in Yuri’s copy of God Bless You Mr. Rosewater. It doesn’t surprise him that his boyfriend enjoys the strange and occasionally circumlocutions satire of Vonnegut. He liked Player Piano well enough, he’d just never bothered to pick up anything else by the author.

“Why even bother?” Yuri looks Otabek up and down. He’s sprawled out on the sofa, which is butted up close to the bed. Otabek’s arm is draped up onto the bed, and pats at a disinterested Princess.

“Change of scenery.”

“Hm,” Yuri climbs into his side of the bed. Otabek can hear the unmuted electronic clack clack of Yuri typing something on his phone.

Otabek’s phone makes a chiming noise, which indicates a notification from…some app. Otabek doesn’t look at his phone for another two chapters.

@yuri-plisetsky tagged you in a photo.

It’s a front facing photo. The top portion of Yuri’s face is in the foreground of the photo. Otabek is in the background, practicing a solitary camel spin. You can’t see Yuri’s smile, but it’s undeniable that he’s beaming in the way that his eyes are wide and glimmering. His own form is sloppy and unpracticed, but in that moment, it felt so good.

From Almaty to St. Petersburg. We’ll see you in #Turin #2019.