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Eyes of a Solider

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Most people were born with the eyes of their soulmate on their wrist. It would not matter what age. The eyes would mature as the soulmates grew up. When people were born before their soulmate, a pair of closed eyes would rest on their wrists. Yet, that was just for most people. Some were born without any eyes on their wrists, and they were ostracized by others for being ‘unloveable’. Yuri Plisetsky never felt unlovable.

His parents originally thought that his soulmate just was not born yet, but by the time Yuri was five, they realized his fate. He had a happy childhood. His mother seemed to love him, but Yuri knew what love is. His grandfather, Nikolai, took him out for piroshkis every weekend, would tell him stories about his grandmother when she was alive, and let the young boy come over to his cottage whenever he needed anything. One time when Yuri was seven and his mother was passed out on the floor, Nikolai came over at two in the morning to come help the family. Yuri got to live with his grandpa after that night.

Even after moving in with his grandpa, no eyes appeared on Yuri’s porcelain skin. Whenever Yuri would leave for school, he would wear a thick coat with gloves and never take it off. All of his classmates would show each other the different shapes and colors of their soulmate's eyes while Yuri sat in the corner pretending to read some book. He needed something. Something to make him feel apart of anything in his world. Yuri came home crying to Nikolai one afternoon, and the older man knew what needed to be done.

The two sat on the floor of the living room sketching different sets of eyes on copy paper from the printer. Yuri’s were sloppy and cartoonish while his grandpa’s were defined with shading, just like his own mark. Nikolai grabbed his grandson’s left wrist and carefully took the pen to his arm. Yuri flinched at first due to the coolness of the black ink; the feeling of the pen across his arm became calming after a couple of minutes. It took an hour for Nikolai to finish the eyes, but by the end, the eyes looked as real as any soul mark either had ever seen. Warm tears began to decorate the arm. Yuri had started crying once he realized what his grandpa was doing, but by the end, he was bawling. He clung to his grandpa with tears of joy streaming from his face as Yuri thought of his new mark.

After that night, the two would sit down every Saturday for a re-inking. Yuri gained confidence with his new mark now proudly on display for everyone to see. Nikolai even signed him up for ballet and skating lessons. Yuri would come back every day after lessons and tell his grandfather stories about Yakov, his coach, or some of the other skaters. The joy in his eyes was unmatchable to anything Nikolai had seen before.

Once Yuri turned thirteen, he asked to move in with Yakov in order to train full time for figure skating. Although his grandpa worried about what would happen, he reluctantly agreed. The night before Yuri left to move in with his coach, Nikolai gave him a small wooden box. Yuri opened it to see a variation of different pens, markers, and ink, along with some blotting cloths and cotton. He never considered what leaving his grandpa actually meant: all the traditions the two shared would now be broken. Yuri had not cried since the night that they first drew the mark, but the last night at home broke the streak.

Yakov trained Yuri until the young boy had blisters covering his body. He was not a warm man when they first met and trained idiotic skaters, excluding Yuri. Viktor Nikiforov probably was the worse of them all. Yet, Mila was a close second. They all matured together: eating dinner every night around nine, living basically in the rink, and learning everything about each other. Mila would show off her soul mark to Yuri all the time, remarking how feminine the eyes looked. Sometimes when she would date a new hockey player, she would take foundation and change the way the eyes looked slightly in order to make him think he had a shot. He never did. Unlike Mila, Viktor revealed his mark to Yuri once. They were about to go to practice when the two had to try on new costumes. Yuri saw a set of eyes staring back at him from Viktor’s arm and felt a constraint in his chest. Viktor leaned down and kissed the mark before turning to Yuri. “One day, I am going to meet this man, and we are going to fall in love. Until then, I will show him love.”

He was not jealous. The pair of eyes on his own arm slowly matured as he got better at drawing, but they would never be the same as Viktor’s or Mila’s. Yuri did not have someone disguising their mark in order to make sure he was the one even after meeting him or kissing their mark before competitions. Yuri had no one.

The first banquet Yuri went to when he was fourteen sealed his fate. Both of his closest friends found their soulmates. Mila met another skater named Sara, who was the Italian qualifier at the Women’s Grand Prix Final. Viktor found his soulmate in Yuuri Katsuki, the drunk disgrace from Japan. The boy started pole dancing in the middle of the banquet! He had a soulmate while Yuri had no one. The Russian team went back to the hotel, dragging Viktor along. Yakov sent everyone into their rooms under lock and key, so that no one would ‘ embarrass him even further’.

Immediately after the door shut, Yuri went into the restroom and scrubbed his arm. The black ink slowly melted off his skin and dripped into the white basin of the sink. Tears cascaded down his cheeks like small rivers flowing into an endless pool of grey water. He never heard the bathroom door open. A gasp shook him from his anger. Fear ran straight to his core.

Viktor saw the prodigy and his roommate scrubbing away his soulmark. At first, the older man thought it was a dream. No one could just erase their soulmark, unless… “ You fake your soulmark?”, he cautiously said. There was no reason to hide it anymore.

“ Yes”, Yuri replied, refusing to look Viktor in the eyes. Viktor took a step forward and reached out for Yuri’s arm. At first, the young teen flinched backwards, but Viktor was quicker. He examined the skin, only to see the fading eyes that have sat on Yuri’s skin for years. After a few minutes of Viktor inspecting the arm, Yuri whispered, “Please don’t tell anyone.”

“Why would I tell anyone?”

“ You think I’m a freak, like everyone else”, Yuri spat. He ripped his wrist out of Viktor’s hands and walked out of the bathroom. He ran to his bag and began hastily throwing his clothes in it. Viktor walk out to see the manic act; however, he did not matter at the moment. Well, he mattered. With his loud mouth, he would tell Yakov, Mila, and maybe even Georgi. Everyone in Yuri’s life will turn against him, leaving him all alone again. They never cared for him. They never cared. He felt his chest seizing up as his breaths became more labored. Yuri sunk into the pile of black and leopard print clothes as he tried to breathe normally. In the midst of his panic, Viktor moved behind the boy and placed a hand on his back. Breathing was still hard, and he could not see past his tears and blurry vision. Yet, Yuri felt comforted.

Once Yuri calmed down, Viktor carried the tiny teen into his bed and pulled the blankets over Yuri. “ You will never be a freak ,Yuri, because of your lack of a mark. You are more of a freak since you never take a break and yell at us for no reason”, Viktor said. He smiled before going to the bathroom to get ready for bed. Yuri laid in his bed and began thinking. Viktor could never hate him. He could never hate anyone. He is a buffoon, but he is a kind buffoon.

After the shower started, Yuri lifted his wrist to see the faded shadow of his mark. The skin around it was red and raw. He really tried to scrub his skin off. Never again. He needs to stop hiding it.

~~~

He never stopped hiding it. Even though Viktor was accepting, Yuri could never trust anyone else with his secret. Not even the stupid Katsudon, Viktor’s now lover. Throughout his journey to the GPF, Yuri concealed his arms with long jumpsuits and jackets. A few time he almost slipped up. One night, Yuuri came into his room after Yuri feel asleep with just a t-shirt on and tried to have a heart-to-heart while they trained for Onsen on Ice. The entire house woke up from Yuri screaming at his to get out. Viktor ended up calming both of them down before going back to sleep.

In Barcelona, Yuri became careless. Maybe, it was the bright lights. Maybe, it was the excitement of making it to the finals. But, it was most likely from meeting Otabek. The Kazakhstan native swept in like a hurricane on a motorcycle, wrecking every one of Yuri’s plans. He was everything Yuri despised in life. He wore sunglasses indoors for starters; yet, Otabek was the most intriguing person who was never afraid of the Russian punk. They spent the afternoon exploring the foreign city, since it was the first time either had been, and talking until sunset.

Dinner was eventful, with Viktor explaining to his fiance how they officially met, which was only a surprise to Yuuri. Once JJ showed up, everyone left to go back to the hotel. A cool air creeped into the city while they ate, causing for Yuri to be freezing in his jacket and light hoodie. He felt a coat be draped over his shoulders to see Otabek had removed his own coat to let Yuri be warmer. Yuri first noticed the gloves Otabek wore extended to cover his forearms too before seeing his new friend was only wearing a sweater and scarf. They argued the rest of the way to the hotel, mainly Yuri yelling while Otabek remained silent and shrugging his shoulders.

Yuri wished they had kissed. It was an odd feeling in the pit of his stomach when they reached Otabek room. He knew he needed to say goodbye and go to sleep, but something was keeping him with Otabek. He had to have had a soulmate. The mark on his arm had to be of a pair of soft eyes. Soft and gentle,a perfect match for Otabek. The older boy had to have felt something at least since he invited Yuri into his room. Nothing happened after Yuri said yes. All they did was talk some more. Around one am when the two were feeling tired and awake at the same time, Otabek finally told the blonde something he will never forget : “ After this is all over, I am going in for surgery on my eyes. I’ve been putting it off for a while, and my coach says it could be it for me.”

The silence hung in the air for a couple of minutes afterwards. They both laid on the bed beside each other. Yuri was in shock. His competition, his friend could be out. Out for good. “ Why are you telling me this?”, Yuri asked.

“ I need to see someone’s reaction to this”, Otabek said. He sat up and grabbed his leather glove on his left wrist. Yuri inhaled at the thought of seeing Otabek soulmark. Pain ran through his veins from the fear of it not being him. He knew it would not be, but the impossible chance that the eyes were Yuri’s still clung to the teen’s young heart. Otabek pulled off the glove to reveal olive skin. No black marks interrupted the flawless wrist. When Otabek took off his other glove, Yuri realized he was not alone. The usually stoic boy looked complete scared.

“ You are stupid if you think that is going to make me not want to be around you”, Yuri started. Otabek looked up from his wrists. Water glazed over his eyes. “ I thought you were going to show me something serious, Beka.” Otabek wrapped his arms around Yuri, and the two fell down onto the mattress with a soft thud. Warm tears hit Yuri’s shoulder, but the younger teen did not mind. He was not alone.

Yuri said goodbye after they finished crying. He should have shown Otabek his blank arms. He should have, but he did not.

~~~

Otabek’s surgery did not look promising. The doctors said he had a small chance of getting his vision back perfectly, but also a miniscule chance of him being fully blind.Yuri sat in the waiting room at SOS Kazakhstan with the rest of the Altin family. Otabek’s mother, a beautiful woman with deep brown eyes like her son, kneeled into her husband after the surgeon came out of the room. Dina, Otabek’s younger sister, laid down on her mother’s skirt as the entire family wept for Otabek. Yuri wanted to join in, but he felt awkward watching the moment. It was not until Otabek’s father, Ulan, stretched out an arm for the Russian boy that he joined the family in misery.

Nothing about it was right. Watching Otabek open his lifeless eyes after being asleep said everything. He asked when there were going to take the cloth off after it had been off for five minutes. Both eyes. Gone. His skating career. Gone. Everything he had worked for in the past twenty years. Gone. Everyone cried. Yuri latched onto Otabek. Nothing was right.

Chapter Text

Competitions never felt right after Otabek unwillingly left. Yuri still did them for money and sponsorships. He got a silver in the Olympics, but it just felt cheated. Viktor coached the teen after Yakov retired, and whenever there was less than ten seconds of silence, Viktor would begin talking about Katsudon endlessly.

St. Petersburg never gleamed as it use to. Having Otabek move into Yuri’s apartment would have made him feel elated, yet it was a melancholy choice. The Kazakhstani needed help flying to Russia, his motorbike was sold right after the surgery since he had no use for it, and he could no longer skate. Depression settled in, and after a year of living at home, Otabek needed a change. Yuri tried supporting his friend through daily phone calls and visits during the off-season, but the Hero of Kazakhstan had fallen.

Dina ultimately called Yuri and asked him if Otabek could move in. It did not take long for the blonde to say yes. A few things had to be moved around Yuri’s apartment beforehand. His inking station that he set up in his living room was condensed into a small box that he put in his bathroom. The spare bedroom that had been used to store all of his medals and costumes was emptied out and replaced with a minimalist bedroom suite. Even though Otabek could not see it, he would appreciate the gesture.

In the first few months of living together, Yuri had trouble adjusting to having to look out for someone. He would wake up early and leave for practice, and halfway through practice, he would get a call from Otabek, asking where any breakfast food was.

“ You don’t have any fruit”, Otabek started.

“ Of course, shithead. Why would I have any?” Yuri replied.

“ All you have in your pantry is cans.”

“ So…”

“ I am not playing can roulette for my breakfast.”

Yuri groaned, “ Just grab something out of the fridge.”

“ I don’t know which leftovers are good or not.”

“ Then, just smell them!”

“ Don’t yell at me since your apartment has no food!”

“ It’s OUR apartment, you asshole. I will show you the way to the store after practice”, Yuri yelled, slamming his phone into his bag. He went back to practice for another hour before the guilt of yelling at Otabek overwhelmed him. Viktor excused him for the rest of the afternoon.

When Yuri returned home, he heard shuffling from the living room. He found Otabek laying on the couch with his eyes wide open. His left wrist rested above his head while his fingers moved melodically like they were recalling a song from years ago. Otabek just looked so helpless. “Yuri, is that you?”, he called from the couch.

“Come on, we are getting food”, Yuri said as he walked towards the couch. His hand reached for Otabek’s one in the air. Their fingers laced together as they walked out of the apartment. Yuri began describing the route to Otabek as they went to the store. He told him the amount of stairs to the bottom floor, the number of steps he would need to take before getting to each corner, and once they reached the store, how to get to the fresh section. “Use this card”, Yuri said, shoving a card into Otabek’s free hand, “ and push these numbers in the reader”, he added as he released Otabek’s left hand.

After that day, they both began to understand each other’s needs more. Yuri needed warning before any changes were happening, such as Otabek moving the furniture around in the living room since he would hit the glass table each time or moving his toothbrush to a different jar. Otabek needed help with things Yuri would see as simple, like pushing the right time on the microwave or labeling the cans in braille. Things began to get more and more routine as time went on.

Waking up together did make Yuri wonder why he ever thought life was pointless. Otabek would sleep on his side of the bed, which faced the window since the sun would feel good on his face in the morning, while Yuri ended up snuggled into his back halfway through the night. “Otabek”, he grumbled, pawing at the front of Otabek’s shirt. He shrugged the younger man off of him before twisting into the sheets. Yuri turned to the clock to see four am glaring back at him. His legs swung off of the king sized bed, and Yuri stretched his arms out. “ I’m getting ready now. Don't get pissy at me when you wake up alone later”, Yuri said to the lump in the bed. Otabek’s face turned towards Yuri before a thumbs up snuck out of the sheets. Soft snores escaped his mouth as Otabek fell back to sleep.

The bathroom had changed a lot in the past three years. Instead of Yuri’s lonely toiletries, he now had multiples of everything scattered across the counter. The things covered in tape were Otabek’s, who claimed he could feel the difference. There was however, now a secret box in the bottom drawer that only Yuri knew about. His ink. He took out the pen and began to retrace the strong pair of eyes on his wrist. After four years, he thought that his skin would permanently have Otabek’s eyes sunk in, but they would always fade after a week. Everyone had just assumed they were soulmates. The only person who questioned was Mila, who claimed Yuri needed someone more wild, and Viktor and Yuuri shut her down quickly.

Viktor and Katsudon understood more than anyone. They would invite Yuri and Otabek over for dinner when they were in Russia, and the entire topic of soulmates would leave the room. After they got married two years after Otabek’s surgery, Yuuri convinced Viktor that they should move to Japan in the off-season and train in Russia during the season. It allowed Yuri to take a break from the couple being so couple-y for a few months, even though Otabek knew that he missed his other two friends.

Once Yuri finished his final touches on the eyes, he grabbed a hair tie and his brush and walked back into the bedroom. He turned on the lamp by the windows and reached into the pile of blankets to find Otabek’s hands. They made a grabbing motion, and Yuri sat down after placing the brush and elastic in Otabek’s larger hands. Fingers slowly brushed through Yuri’s hair, which reached his mid-back. The blunt tips of Otabek’s fingers would graze Yuri’s scalp before trailing down to the ends. This was another ritual between the two men. Otabek loved touching Yuri in any way : a light touch of the Russian’s hand while they were in the kitchen, running a hand through the hair, even Yuri hitting him playfully when they are talking. In return, Otabek would give Yuri small compliments throughout the day, such as how soft his hair is or how good the cooking was ( even though half the time it was take out). Otabek finished braiding Yuri’s hair, and Yuri left to go make breakfast while he fell back asleep.

Nikolai was coming up from Moscow today, and Yuri wanted the apartment flawless for his grandpa. It would be Otabek’s first official time meeting the older man. They had crossed paths at a Nationals once when it was held in Moscow, but Otabek never talked at the competitions. He knew he would get choked up.

Otabek missed skating more than anything. Everything in his life revolved around the sport until three years ago. After devoting nineteen years of his life to something, it was hard to believe that it was all for nothing.
Exceeding expectations was all Otabek did when he was on the ice. Not having a soulmark already set in back in life, and it did not bother him as much as he was bothered by people’s reactions to seeing his blank wrists. His parents tried to explain to him how they loved him. They gave him all the speeches. Since they were not soulmates, they never pushed him to cover up who he was. Going to Russia for training truly set him off.

Already, his body was not built for the elegant sport. At 5’6 and stocky, he would have been more suited playing a more physical sport, but it was the ice that called him. All of his competitors were tall and graceful, meaning he needed to beat them by pure force alone. The anger he felt from being the outcast drove him to become better.

Yuri Plisetsky. The boy with the eyes of a solider. He was the one who made Otabek feel weak. If Otabek had a mark, Yuri’s eyes would be on his wrist. He had to have had a soulmate. Someone as beautiful as him needed someone equally as compelling.

Going back to Altamy sucked. Otabek began outlashing on his family. Everyone tried to get him to talk about his feelings, but it was Dina who convinced him to put all his emotions into skating. He did exactly that. He would work his way into the Grand Prix Finals.

The blurriness came suddenly. His coach said it had to be a concussion, so Otabek kept skating. After two months of not knowing why his sight would go in and out, he went to the doctor. The sixteen-year-old was told it was a simple eye infection and was sent home, so Otabek kept skating. When he turned eighteen, Otabek woke up and could not see anything. He screamed for his mother, and she came running into his room, expecting to see him being murdered. She did not expect to see him crumbled in a ball on the floor crying. It had turned out the simple eye infection was a bacteria infection in his corneas.

The first surgery was easy. All he had to do was start wearing glasses; however, it had spread further than the doctors originally noticed. A full cornea transplant would be needed for Otabek to get back to perfect vision. Otherwise, he would become blind by his twentieth birthday. The Altin family all decide that Otabek would get the surgery if he did not qualify for Worlds. After he won bronze, they decided to wait until after the Grand Prix Final for the next season.

Then, Yuri came back into his life. Seeing him in Barcelona reminded Otabek about everything about his childhood. All the effort he had put into skating and why he did. Yuri’s jacket covered his wrists, making Otabek wonder if he had met his soulmate yet. The Russian Punk, as he was called, made a comment about people wearing sunglasses inside, which made Otabek lift his prescription shades to look at the teen. He still had the eyes of a soldier, and all of the emotions Otabek had forgotten appeared all at once.

Yuri was worth it. He was worth seeing. Otabek texted his mom, telling her that he was going to do the surgery to try to keep his eyes. Telling Yuri was one of the scariest moments of his life. The blonde looked at him with no pity in his eyes, mostly confusion. Then, Otabek showed him his blank wrists. Yuri seemed more shocked than anything. He never judged Otabek though. That was all that mattered.

Impressing Nikolai would only seal Otabek’s love for Yuri. If the dinner went well, Otabek would tell him how he felt. He no longer cared if Yuri was ignoring his soulmate for Otabek. Yuri would be his, and no one else’s.