theglassheart: By Existentially (Until we die)
[personal profile] theglassheart
It takes Yuri all of about two minutes to realize that down might have been just as bad an option as up.

That downstairs in the hotel, at the buffet, involved a world of national jackets. Dozens and dozens of men and women, in various states of dress around and under and without those jackets, some picture perfect and some all but in pajamas and bare feet still, in various states of awake and asleep. Still on their feet, putting food on plates, sitting on their own and others, carrying them back upstairs. Not to mention those fans who could afford to stay here, watching from nearby tables and occasionally thrusting one of their own with a pen and napkin at some skater's table.

There are so many more of them here. There hadn't been this many last time.

(But, by last time, he means in October.




There were totally this many last time
- this time, two years ago.
A sea of people.)



His body snags back and forth between the urge to clutch his plate full of food to his chest, and gulp each bite down, while dragging it under the table with him, and just to slide under the table, without it or someone else, especially Victor, noticing he's vacated his seat and relocated there.

It doesn't help he can't quite seem to focus right. To hear what Victor is saying. To know what to say when he can. When he can't seem to more than flit his gaze that way and away. (That he was an absolute idiot, and jumped like he'd been hit, or expected to be, the first time Victor threw an arm around his shoulder headed to the elevator to come down here. Even though Victor's been nothing but sane and sober and normal since they woke up.)

People keep laughing and talking. Nails on the chalkboard inside his skull. His jacket feels odd at the edges of his shoulders. The booth is too big. The room is too small. He watches the clock. Time is slipping away already. Practice, then performance. Practice, then performance. Breakfast ends. Uncertain if he ate too much. Trying to counter that he didn't eat enough last night. (Or maybe sleep enough. And what if he crashes on the ice because he didn't take care of both of those?

What if he's ruined it all because he couldn't even manage his first twenty hours in the Prix Qualifier even?)

They leave when they have to. Early enough to look at everything. Early enough to make sure everything is ready for practice, and practice is practice. He's so in his head. He can't stop watching the people around him as they practice their routines. His skin prickles at just the bite of the air on it. He can't outrun the itch in the back of his head.

It's like a wall in front of him, always two inches in front, no matter how fast or how slow. Goading him to run, with sharp prods, but staying two inches away. Always two inches away. Never closer. Never in reach. His feet are a hiss on the ice, jumps a little too sharp, and his mind still won't stop tossing up and out, in front of his skates, all the things that don't belong out here.

Date: 2017-04-02 12:12 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by niedola (serious for a second)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
By the time Yuri got out of the shower, Victor had thrown the drapes back even further and pulled Yuri's workout clothes and trainers out of the bag, helpfully placing them on the comforter of the bed nearest the window, that was still untouched.

Perfect and pristine. As smooth as when it was made the day before, when they checked in.

(How did that ... ?)

Strange. Stranger still, how Yuri doesn't meet his eyes when he leaves the bathroom, towel-wrapped with soaking hair, but if they're going to eat before the morning practice, they have to get down to breakfast, so Victor shelves it for now, and settles for an icy blast of water from the showerhead that's a poor substitute for a frozen-over swimming hole, but manages to wake him up completely and spark his circulation, so he can think more clearly as he's brushing his teeth and swishing his mouth out.

The Cup of China. Yuri's first real pass against a slate of elite competitors, but only a few are real challengers: Chris, of course. Georgi, if he's gotten his head out of his ass and learned to focus. Leo de Igliesia won Skate America, but his program is nowhere near the intricacy and technicality of Yuri's.

Possibly Phichit, the Thai skater, with a good showing already and a burning desire to bring his country to the table.

To win, Yuri will need to be perfect. There's no room for the mistakes he made back in September: it's time for him to step up and be the skater Victor knows he can be.

Except, once they're in the rink, and Yuri is in the midst of his practice rounds, he doesn't look like that skater. Tight in the legs, speed a little too uncontrolled. Nothing dialed in the way it should be, none of the flow and grace that make him stand out.

Add that to how jumpy he'd been in the hotel hall, and downstairs at breakfast, and how quiet he's been, and it makes Victor frown as he leans on the rink wall, eyes narrowing. "Your shoulders are dipping," he scolds, when Yuri comes close enough to hear, bangs sticking to his forehead. "You'll overbalance and lose it. Take it one element at a time."

Date: 2017-04-02 01:00 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by plastic (fight with your own power)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
He finds the bottle, sitting there on the rink edge next to the poodle tissue box, and hands it over, looking back over the ice as he does.

(There's Yakov, talking with Georgi. The one skater who has always listened to him, and done exactly as he's said ...

that must be a new feeling for him.)

"You just need to relax." Simpler said than done, and not helpful: he might as well tell Yuri that all he needs to do is spin the Earth backwards –– it's just as impossible, so he searches for something solid, something constructive. He has to motivate Yuri, not frustrate him further. "Focus on nailing that first quad before you think about the rest, okay?"

When Yuri gets it, he tends to get a rush of confidence that carries the rest of the program. When he doesn't ...

Well, he will. Victor just needs to be confident: he has the skill and he has that jump. It's been looking better and better in practice, and when he hits it, it's like a dream. "How do you feel?"

Date: 2017-04-02 01:25 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by cherrytini (I'm disappointed in you)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
His expression flattens, and there's a low hum of annoyance in his voice. "Yuri."

The name getting dragged out, because Yuri is not paying attention to him, and Victor feels it like the lack of a spotlight, or like a door suddenly shut against the sun. "Weren't you listening to me?"

(So this is how Yakov felt. He doesn't care for it.)

But Yuri's attention is still wavering, gaze flickering from face to face around the rink, on the ice, even as he's sipping his water, and Victor leans forward to try and wrest his focus back to center. Back to him. Refusing to follow Yuri's glance as it skips around, landing with no comprehension.

It's frustrating, and worse, it'll only add to Yuri's anxiety: send his thoughts into a spiral about what everyone else will do, instead of what he needs to do.

"Don't look at everyone else. Just look at me."

Date: 2017-04-02 01:59 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (my glorious debut)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
Yuri listens, but it looks like he's moving through molasses, and the whites of his eyes are nearly showing. He looks pale and unfocused, and Victor's not sure what to do: at home, he'd joke or tease or bring Yuri back to the moment with a hand on his, or a gentle grip of his shoulder, but Yuri's already flinched away from a touch once today, and it could harm as much as it might help.

So he settles for keeping his own voice and face calm and confident. "Build to your first jump to push your momentum forward, but don't rush the take off. Slow down a little: it's a short program, but you have time. Remember, you're telling a story, not checking off boxes."

He takes the water bottle back, and offers the tissues, just in case, and –– Yakov wouldn't, would consider it coddling, but he isn't Yakov, and Yuri, who has a history of spiralling into emotional black holes, isn't him. "How are you feeling?"

Date: 2017-04-02 02:56 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by plastic (catch the last weekend of the last week)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
Of all the notes he can give, and all the help he can offer, the ones he's most tempted to put out there are also the least useful: Yuri knows Victor believes in him, and Yuri knows this program like it's been burned into his skin, and Yuri knows he has to relax and focus. Victor doesn't need to tell him any of that.

But sometimes athletes, under pressure, need the external motivation, the unwavering support from an outside source.

"Relax into your legs, they're looking tight on your landings. And I want to see those deep edges, really lean into them." Create those lines that look like the slinky bluesy scale of a jazz saxophone, or the low thrill of a bow across the strings of a violin. "Paint it for me."

Every step, perfected, refined down to the purest expression of desire. "It'll feel good if you let go, a little."

Right now, Yuri looks like he's holding onto his fears like grim death, and that doesn't bode well: he has to relax, so Victor smiles, easy and untroubled. "You know what to do."

Date: 2017-04-02 03:42 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (on the sidelines)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
Yuri nods, and it looks like he hears him, and it looks like he's trying to listen and do as Victor says, but that's part of the problem. That he looks like it. That it's so easy to tell he's trying hard.

Still rushing, still cutting some elements short, and pushing into others, frustration pouring off him in waves while Victor watches, finger against his mouth, elbows on the rink wall. It's fine if Yuri can work through his nerves here: a rough practice doesn't mean a similarly dicey performance, and sometimes it's good to get the shakes out where and when he can. Still, it's a relief to see him slip into a spin and stay there, like he's unwinding whatever's tied itself up around his spine and nerves and heart and lungs. Screwing himself back into place, into this moment. Moving back into the footwork he'd once been so nervous about.

Uncertain if he could do it. Not sure he could sell it.

As a crutch, the katsudon has worked well as far as it could be useful, but Yuri's so much better now that a crutch might actually trip him up, rather than help him. It's something to think about, even as he's smiling in satisfaction as Yuri finds his way back to the steps.

Better. It doesn't need to be perfect until the next time he takes the ice, but it's better.

Date: 2017-04-02 04:45 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by plastic (have been replaced)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
It's not as relaxed as Victor would like him to be, and it lacks the flow they've worked so hard to create, but neither of those things are unusual in a practice session, when last problems are being ironed out and the final edges to technique are being honed.

But it is better, and he makes a small and satisfied noise when Yuri lands the Salchow and manages to hang onto it, tension blossoming and unspooling again between his shoulders when Yuri tosses himself at another, wanting it right, wanting it perfect, just as the ice begins to clear. Considering everything, he looks good, and he'll look better later: Yuri might be nervous, but Victor has no doubt he can turn it on when it counts. He did at Yu-topia, at Onsen on Ice, and he fought through it last month. He can do it.

(Even if Victor hasn't seen this kind of nervous energy from him before, isn't sure how to deal with it, whether he should be stoking it or trying to make it dissipate.)

Still, he's pleased when Yuri skates back over, and hands over one, than the other, skate guards. "Good. How did it feel?"

Better, he thinks. At least, more focused. Even if Yuri was still tight, it seemed like his mind was on what he was doing, and not running away with him, and with Yuri, that can be the vast majority of the battle.

Date: 2017-04-02 12:33 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by plastic (catch the last weekend of the last week)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
He's not sure if Yuri's mood is on the good or bad side of the very thin line that separates motivation from frustration: the drive to keep doing it until it's perfect can be useful during training, but on competition day, it can just exhaust a skater, both physically and mentally. And Yuri –– hard on himself, prone to over-thinking, with so much to prove –– already looks tired and jittery.

"Well, we have a few hours before we need to be back." Time to eat, to relax, to discuss strategy, to do whatever needs to be done to get a skater's head in the game. Personally, he'd always just gone back to the hotel to sleep for a few more hours: usually jet-lagged and tired from a long flight, and secure in his ability to perform perfectly, only wanting to keep his energy high.

Yuri has no such security in himself, but he should: even if he isn't always perfect, he's far more consistent than he used to be. All the hours and days and months they've spent working out every last detail of these programs, drilling them again and again, drilling basics, drilling jumps, working with Minako, they've all forged Yuri into something totally different than what he once was.

And soon, the whole world will see it, just like Victor does.

But for now, he stands by, handing Yuri his water bottle when it's needed. "I'll wait for you outside the locker room."

Date: 2017-04-02 03:45 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by plastic (too early to say goodnight)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
With Yuri out of his line of sight, he can start working through everything he just saw, make mental notes (and a few jotted on the small notepad in his coat pocket) and take a careful look at the line-up. Yuri's last in his group, which isn't a bad spot to be: he won't be able to tweak his program to counter whatever Chris and Georgi do, but Victor doesn't want him making sweeping, unilateral changes to the routines anyway.

All he needs to do is skate clean and get a technical score to match his performance, and he'll hit the podium for sure. No one else has the level of technical difficulty they've worked into Eros, so if he gets it right, the way he has been, he'll blow them all away. The judges. The audience. The skaters coming after him. It's a simple matter of numbers ... or should be. Would be, for him. Has been, in all the hours they've spent calculating what Yuri needs to win, and how to build a program to showcase his skill and artistry to their best effect.

Was, before Yuri woke up this morning like ... whatever this is, that doesn't seem like simple nerves. It's not like before, when Yuri seemed distracted and low-energy, and it's not like Onsen on Ice, where it seemed like any errant breath might shatter him into a million pieces.

This is something new, and Victor's tapping the stub of a pencil at his lips, considering how best to utilize it or settle it, when there's a click-click-click of skate guards on carpet, and he turns to see Georgi, who returns his wave, with Yakov behind him, who doesn't, but who pauses after Georgi turns towards the locker rooms, even if his back stays to Victor.

Hmm?

"I hope you're enjoying yourself."

Making Victor bark a short and startled laugh, that sounds more uncertain than he'd like. "Of course. Don't you find coaching to be fun, Yakov?"

The shoulders in front of him tighten, and then there's Yakov's bulging eye, glaring at him from under the brim of his ever-present hat. "If it's a joke to you, you'll ruin his career as well as your own. But when have you ever thought of anyone but yourself?"

He can't count the number of times in his life when Yakov has called him selfish. Arrogant. Self-absorbed, thoughtless. It's easy enough to pretend this one doesn't land, either, but there's a cool tension to his smile and it never makes his eyes crinkle, even as Yakov turns to stomp away, obviously feeling he'd done his duty by issuing his dire warning.

That wasn't helpful.

Date: 2017-04-02 04:45 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (my glorious debut)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
When he gets to the locker room, Yuri's nowhere to be found, but he's not hard to spot, once Victor heads towards the main hall: he's the one squirming under the too-close gaze and smothering figure of Christophe Giacometti.

A visual which, any other day, might amuse Victor –– Yuri, who blushes at the drop of a hat, and Chris, who has never met a boundary he didn't want to shatter –– but he doesn't need Chris intimidating his skater today, no matter how genial it might be. (Or how welcome a certain sequence of photos might suggest it is ... but then, he's been proven wrong on that count before.) "Chris!"

Lifting a hand in greeting as he saunters up, looking a little out of place, maybe, in his crisp suit among all the skaters in their warm-up gear, but he doesn't mind. "How's it going?"

Chris detaches –– there's really no better word –– from Yuri, and Victor's not surprised either by the way his tone drops into annoyance or how he appears to forget Yuri's there entirely, reaching to take Victor's ID badge and glancing at it with a scoff. "I'm not motivated without you."

Also nothing new: "You're always like that at the start of a season." Chris has been chasing him for as long as they've been skating together, and they've shared many a spotlight and podium together, but Chris has always viewed their rivalry far more seriously than Victor has. Being scolded for disappearing out from under him hardly comes as a surprise.

"Victor!"

Josef, with his red glasses and the same badge Victor's wearing. "Chris is right. He can't get serious without you."

Whether Chris can get serious at all is a better question, in Victor's mind, but that's hardly a politic thing to say, and, anyway, how do they expect him to respond to come back into the fold, anyway? Chris' career isn't dependent on Victor's, anymore than Yurio's or JJ's or Michele's are.

(There are times when he feels like the mechanical bunny released at the start of a dog race: just another unreachable goal for the others to try and catch.

And where's the inspiration in that?)

But there's no time to say anything, even if he found something less cutting and more appropriate, because he's being called again, and it is nice to see familiar faces and talk to them, even if they're all saying essentially the same thing: Come back. Why did you leave in the first place? Are you really a coach now?

The amused laughter following just split up with him, you know it won't last and don't you feel sorry for him? never touching the mildness of his smile, or his polite remarks.

It's not long now, and then Yuri will prove them all wrong, for both of them.

Date: 2017-04-02 06:50 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (what are you talking about?)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
Somehow, the hours between practice and the afternoon always seem to slip away without giving any kind of warning or leaving any sort of sign: there's a light lunch that Victor tries to make sure Yuri eats, and run-ins with reporters and announcers –– the Japanese commentator who came to Onsen on Ice and the Southern Regional Championship is there –– and they're familiar enough, but all of their questions seem as directed at Victor as they are to Yuri.

Victor, will you be returning to compete after the Grand Prix Final this year?

Aren't you interested in defending your status as World Champion?

Do you think Katsuki Yuri will be able to beat your scores? Has it been difficult to find momentum after he took the last year off? What do you think of his chances, is he ready? Is it strange to be back here as a coach and not a competitor?


All of which he fends off with the same handful of answers: He won't decide on any plans until after the Grand Prix Final; coaching has been a new and exciting challenging for him, and coaching Yuri, specifically, has been hugely rewarding; it is strange, he's happy to be able to be here and eat absolutely whatever he wants.

(Pause for laughter.)

Somewhere in the mix, Minako appears, banner in hand, and it's a strange sensation to be a little relieved to see her, a small piece of Hasetsu here.

It makes him feel almost homesick.

He gives her as much time with Yuri as he can before they're called back to the locker rooms and she has to go take her seat, walks back through the crowd of people and press with one hand on Yuri's shoulder and the other waving amiably at the faces they pass, tossing smiles and a few short answers to shouted questions, but it's all just running interference. Under his hand, he can feel Yuri thrumming like the engine of a car left in park, ready to burst at any second.

He just needs to let it out at the right time, and Victor can help with that.

And then they're back: Chris stretching nearby, Guang-Hong looking pale and a little green around the gills in a corner, Ciao Ciao and Phichit in deep conversation ... and Yuri, focused on some inner thought, lost in his own world.

And, outside, the crowd beginning to grow.

Date: 2017-04-03 02:32 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (a sharp-dressed man)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
He's grateful for Minako, familiar and focused, and glad she was able to come, not only to cheer Yuri on, but to coach him and correct him as she has been for the last eight months. Getting to know her was a big leap forward in understanding Yuri: unlike Yuuko and Hiroko, she doesn't cast an affectionate eye on Yuri's weaknesses, and she doesn't pussyfoot around. Her manner is blunter than he'd expected in Japan, and her demand for precision rivals that of his own past ballet instructors, Bolshoi legends with ice in their veins and what seemed like a physical inability to smile.

Minako is in many ways very nearly Russian, and that makes her easier to understand and to talk with, and she's and excellent instructor, which makes her useful ... and she knows Yuri better than anyone else, and that makes her invaluable.

So he doesn't miss the glances she slides his way, but waits on them as she patiently corrects Yuri's posture, his shifting weight, the line of arm and neck and back and leg, how to let his fingers drag gracefully through the air. Everything looking like it should, and Yuri almost beginning to relax, but it doesn't last. Not Minako's time with them, and not the slight reprieve from tension for Yuri, but she does pull Victor aside briefly as she heads on her way out.

It's nothing he doesn't know –– that Yuri looks and is tense, that his nerves act up before a competition, but that he looks good, and that Minako will be cheering for them in the seats –– but he appreciates it nonetheless, and tells her they'll see her after the performance, but he doesn't mention what he saw, in their practice.

That what she taught Yuri, the backbone he wrapped this program around at Onsen on Ice, picturing himself as the beautiful woman who seduces the playboy, isn't working anymore. Was never supposed to work. It was always just a method of getting Yuri back to that place, that golden, perfectly unbreakable place, winning on the ballroom floor. If he had to imagine katsudon and women to get there, that was fine, but Victor built this program with one purpose in mind: for Katsuki Yuri to sweep in, and steal the hearts of everyone watching. Not a character. Him.

Letting the thoughts roll about his mind in a calm circle without trying to pin them down, as Yuri warms up and the tension in the room stretches and stretches. He's glad to see Yuri pauses to watch his friend Phichit, at least. That doesn't seem to be preying on him: he looks stressed, but not with the performance on the screen. So it's internal, then.

And the reprieve doesn't last long: soon, Yuri's jogging up and down the short hall as Victor stands nearby, but he goes longer than usual, like he's forgotten how many miniature laps he's done. It's odd enough that even Chris, in the midst of his own warm-up routine, leans over to ask Victor if Yuri's alright, but Victor only shushes him, smile mild as ever. Yuri is alright, but he's something else, too. Something Victor hasn't see before, some shade of his anxiety that has simply never shown itself in the last eight months.

He's never seen Yuri quite like this, before, but their mission is the same, and hasn't changed, and neither has his certainty, which remains unwavering and clear.

He seems to be focusing better now, at least, and that's good, because on the television, Guang-hong is finishing, and that means it's just about their turn.



Date: 2017-04-03 06:41 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by plastic (fight with your own power)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
He wishes Yuri didn't look so much like he's heading to the gallows instead of just walking down the hall back towards him, but it's difficult to focus, even for him. The energy of competition day buzzing through his veins like wine. It's not his performance, but he's not immune to the tension, the expectation, the hard curl of anticipation in his stomach. This is the world he knows best: the locker room halls and the sound of laces through leather, the clumsy click-click of skate guards, how the hall between locker room and rink seems to expand, growing longer with every step they take.

All of it folding together into a blur with a single focal point: his hand on Yuri's shoulder, the nearing doorway. Even the roar of the crowd seems to come from underwater. (But he recognizes it, loves it; some part of himself reaching back as they reach for him, wanting more.) Minako is up there somewhere, and plenty of Yuri's other fans, many of whom have been ecstatic at the prospect of his return. He's far more loved than he knows or believes, but all that can wait, and right now, he doesn't want Yuri thinking about them and getting overwhelmed, anyway. He has to bring Yuri's focus back, somehow, let him send Eros off as an arrow speeding directly for a single heart, and, in that, win them all.

Taking his jacket and skate guards, setting them to the side as Yuri steps onto the ice, a slim sleek line of black. Looking gorgeous. Looking dangerous.

There are only seconds left, but Victor doesn't want to rush this, leans forward to rest his hand over the one Yuri has fisted on the top of the rink wall, warmth filtering through the material of his gloves. "Yuri, listen."

He's ready. The program is ready. This is how he's going to make it his own. This is how he'll win. "The time to seduce me by picturing katsudon and women during your skate is over."

No tangling egg or ecstasy of taste, no matter how delicious. No beautiful seductress. No crutch. He doesn't need it. Calm, but with absolute confidence in his assessment, he continues. "You can fight with your own personal charm."

A force no character he might portray can ever live up to. A fickle playboy, stealing hearts and setting souls afire; a sweet and uncertain young man; a world-class athelete. Victor's demon and doom and delight. It feels like electricity is crackling off him –– off them –– already. He hasn't touched Yuri this specifically in months, but he allows it now: an index finger, sliding along the back of his hand. The pad of his thumb, sliding along the back of Yuri's. "You can envision it just fine, can't you?"

He should. It's easy. All he has to do is look at Victor's face, and read what's written there for anyone to see.

All he has to do is remember how he did it before, when he burned down the ballroom and brought the banquet to a screeching, screaming halt.

Date: 2017-04-04 01:28 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by cherrytini (a bit surprised)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
To say he isn't expecting Yuri to take his hand would be to say he isn't expecting the ground to open up beneath his feet and swallow him whole.

To say he isn't expecting the flash in Yuri's eyes, and the force with which his hand is suddenly gripped –– no, taken. No, claimed –– is only to say he's gotten to know Yuri over the last eight months. Polite, reserved Yuri, who only ever occasionally blurs those lines, and it's only ever innocent on his part, and only ever anything more on Victor's. Yuri, who might hug him, or sling an arm around his shoulder, or allow Victor to move him on the ice until he's found the right line, the correct pose. Yuri, who last time said Please watch in a tremulous request.

Nothing like the dull shock of his forehead hitting Victor's, even if Victor lets it hit, without flinching or stepping back, fingers gripping on instinct. Nothing like the sudden burn of his eyes, or the harshness behind don't ever take your eyes off of me. Yuri has never been nearly violent before. Yuri has never demanded that of him before. Yuri has never demanded anything before, and Victor is starting to worry, as Yuri rips himself away, that what he'd thought was something new might in fact be something far too different. Something's flipped his switch ... but what?

(It's more like that night than anything. Calling out Yurio, Victor, Chris in turn, challenging, throwing demands like darts. Grabbing Victor out of nowhere. A force of perfect confidence.)

He barely hear the cheers of the crowd, or the voice on the loudspeaker announcing from Japan, Katsuki Yuri. The rush of blood in his ears is too loud, the sudden quick sprint in his chest that he needs to calm, because Yuri is sliding into the center of the ice like he owns it, and ––

And it looks familiar. Feels familiar. And when the music starts, sultry guitar strings raining music onto the ice, and Yuri starts to move, it looks familiar. Not like the program they've been practicing for months, that they could both dream in its entirety.

Like something else. Like someone else. From a lifetime and two years ago.
Edited Date: 2017-04-04 01:28 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-04 02:42 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (perfect!)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
The music starts, sinuous and seductive, and Yuri's moving with it, and it looks right –– it's all the same movements, everything he and Yuri and Minako have worked over and over again –– but not, too.

Not wrong. More right than right.

A low, thoughtful sound at the base of his throat when that look burns across the ice towards him, and he still doesn't get it, where all this was for the last eight months, for the last two years, but he's not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, because Yuri has never owned Eros, or the audience, or even his own body, the way he is now. Each step and turn and slide taken in a perfect fluid dance; no hesitation, no questioning. Whatever had been worrying him seems to have dropped away, leaving nothing but the demon from Victor's dreams and memory and more photos still saved on his phone than he'd admit to keeping –– but it's not like that, either. Not even that night was anything quite like this.

But it's certainly working. Victor watching, finger pressed to his mouth, eyes following Yuri everywhere around the rink, as his hands go above his head and slip down to send him into a modified Ina Bauer that pushes Victor's spine straight, sudden delight diffusing his uncertainty.

"Perfect!"

All of it is. Even without Yuri's demand, he could never have looked away from this: this is no katsudon, and it's no beautiful woman. It's pure masculine sex appeal, barely contained, never coy. It's a huge triple axel that soars over the ice like a boast, followed by a perfect quad Salchow that Yuri hadn't nailed in practice, but which now seems impossible to miss. Just like it's impossible for the audience to do anything but fall for him, the way Victor has, is, keeps doing. Every step, full of arrogant confidence. Every jump proof that arrogance is warranted. Every coaxing, graceful slide of his hands feeling like they're running over skin instead of through air.

Impossible to look away. Impossible to register. Impossible to breathe.

Date: 2017-04-04 02:36 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by cherrytini (\o/!)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
It's incendiary. Around him, the crowd is on its feet, thrilled: they can't stop cheering, applauding, calling Yuri's name, and when he slams to a stop, arms wrapped around himself, hair in disarray, flace flushed, taking, taking, taking, a roar runs through the arena that feels like it won't ever stop, and Victor's arms are in the air, head thrown back in a triumphant yell.

Everything they needed to prove, and more. Yuri delivered it all. Seamlessly. Excellently. Setting the rink on fire and carelessly letting it burn, and it was perfect, perfect. Beyond anything Victor's ever seen him do. Meeting every impossible expectation Victor's ever leveled at him, and doing it flawlessly. Owning the program, and himself, absolutely.

Leaving Victor in a state of shock as he watches Yuri bow to the audience, arms spread to accept their cheers and love, and modestly returning it with the grace of a dancer, and he still can't look away. "That was perfect."

Numb surprise, but he shouldn't be surprised, right? He'd known, all along, saw it was possible, knew that if Yuri had the right motivation he could get there, and he did, had, better than Victor could have ever dreamed. Overwhelming him with joy and pride. "Yuri!"

Calling to him, arms open, face beaming.

"The kiss-and-cry's that way."

"Huh?" Knocked from the blissful world where only he and Yuri exist, to see Chris making an exasperated face at him, and pointing back in the direction they came from. Where Yuri's skating, apparently oblivious to Victor and Victor's mistake. "Right. Good luck, Chris!"

Before he's gone, walking quickly, waving to the crowd and to the cameras, smile brilliant, every worry laid to rest. He knew it. And Yuri did it. And they proved it to the whole world.
Edited Date: 2017-04-04 02:37 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-05 02:15 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (show you off to all of my friends)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
His steps become a quick dog trot when he sees Yuri looking for him, skate guards in one hand, tissue box in the other, Yuri's jacket under his arm, the grin on his face threatening to crack straight through to his chest. "Yuri!"

All he can do for a moment is hand Yuri the skate guards, one after another, and wait until he's wiped the snow from his blades and put them on, but it feels like an eternity before Yuri can finally step off the ice and Victor can embrace him, arms tight around his neck, cheek pushed against Yuri's sweat-damp hair. "That was perfect! You were perfect."

It's not even the right word. "Everyone loved it, listen!"

The crowd, still cheering as girls skate around the rink picking up flowers and stuffed toys and small gifts. Still on their feet. Still lit from within. "I knew you could do it."

Every word suffused with proprietary pride. He has known for months. Years. He saw what no one else did: not Celestino, not the fans, not even Yuri himself. He'd always known Yuri was capable of this, that if his confidence was high enough, nothing could stop him, that if he could lift his skill level to meet his artistry, he'd be unforgettable.

Finally pushing back enough to see Yuri's face, laughing, before handing him his jacket and starting the short walk to the kiss and cry. "It's going to be a personal best for you, I know it." There's no way it couldn't be. He's never skated that program like that before. He's never skated that way before.

Arm finding it's way back to Yuri's shoulders, while he waves at the fans who are still cheering them off, feeling like this smile is untouchable, feeling like there's a tiny sun glowing in his chest that won't ever go out. "Let's go see!"

Date: 2017-04-05 05:33 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by plastic (catch the last weekend of the last week)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
Yuri looks shellshocked, too tired and wrung out to respond, but he folds into Victor's hug like that whole performance was a gift just for him, and he follows along when Victor directs him towards the kiss-and-cry, sitting without any argument. Cheeks flushed, hair in disarray, sweat-dislodged bangs that have started falling into his face, and an unconscious grip on an onigiri plushie some lucky fan brought and tossed onto the ice for him.

(He doesn't always remember it, but he does have fans, and Japan is well represented in the seats tonight to cheer on their hometown hero.)

He doesn't resist or seem to pay much attention when Victor sits and pulls him in with an arm around his shoulder, but that's fine: of the two of them, Victor is the one who prefers playing to a crowd, and he waves at the cameras facing them, steals his arm back from Yuri's shoulder to make a heart with his hands, beaming, unable to recall the last time he was so thoroughly pleased, even if Yuri is still looking too tired to be happy with his own performance.

Making Victor slid a fond glance over his shoulder in his direction, amused. "Yuri, did it feel that great?"

Great enough to wipe him out, great enough to remind him of who he is and what he can do? As great as Victor feels?

It should.

Date: 2017-04-05 08:56 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by plastic (invitation only)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
It's not long to wait, because no sooner has Yuri finished speaking than Victor catches the change of the screen out of the corner of his eye and turns to see the scores:

Yuri KATSUKI

Technical Elements 58.91
Presentation 47.93

SP SCORE 106.84 PB
RANK 1


He feels like a suddenly filled balloon, hands fisting and elbows thrusting back in triumph, while his smile goes from expectant to incandescent and his palms feel numb from clapping. 106.84 –– a personal best for Yuri, demolishing his previous scores and skyrocketing him into first place.

He knew it. That high technical score could only be brought to life through Yuri's skill. That high presentation score could only come from Yuri's ability to express himself, andhe can no longer containt himself, throws himself at Yuri in a bliss of ecstasy, arms squeezing around his shoulders, temple pressing into his damp hair, the bridge of his nose against Yuri's cheek. "Yuri!"

He did it. They did it. With style, grace, precision, and that particular element that is only Yuri.

He's the only one who could ever skate that program this way.

Date: 2017-04-06 12:08 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (that was amazing!)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
Against him, Yuri is nearly limp, still staring at the screen like he thinks the numbers on it are going to dissolve into a laughing face, but Victor doesn't know why he's so surprised. He was superlative, extraordinary, a devil of seduction both passionate and playful. His technical elements were perfect. His performance was sublime.

Of course the judges noticed, and rewarded him. How could they not? How could anyone be anything but swept away? "Of course they'd feel great, watching a performance like that."

There's no room for doubt in any cell of his body, and there shouldn't be in Yuri's, either, but he can't stop smiling and he can't let go of Yuri and he can't douse the thrill of excitement at being in the lead, the only place he knows how to be. And Yuri ––

Yuri has brought them both here. Fought hard, trained well, learned everything he could, and made it his own. It's all overwhelming, dumping bucket after bucket of happiness over Victor's head, making him give Yuri another squeeze. "You're the best student."

Tipping his head against Yuri's, he grins at the cameras in front of them without letting go, gratification in every centimeter of his smile's curve. "You've earned half a katsudon tonight, anyway. You can get the rest tomorrow."

Date: 2017-04-06 02:36 am (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (what are you talking about?)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
Whatever possessed Yuri to grab his hand and demand his attention in front of all the crowd here and those watching at home seems to have departed and left no trace of itself, but that's all right. It served its purpose, he supposes, pushed Yuri into his best performance yet, and the boy left next to him is the one he knows better, even if it's the one he came to know later. Uncertain of his own ability, even after proving it without a doubt, and worried about the next three skaters to come.

None of whom are likely to be a real threat for the short program, even if Victor bases his assessment on the possible technical scores alone. Of the three, Chris is the only real threat, and he almost never peaks with his short program, preferring to put his best foot forward in the free skate. Added to his usual slow start at the beginning of the season, and Victor would be surprised if he knocked Yuri out of first place tonight.

As for Leo de Iglesia and Georgi ... their programs don't have the technical components to compare to Eros, and neither of them are likely to get anywhere near Yuri's level of PCS points. "I'm not worried about them tonight."

No: Yuri's in first place, and he's likely to stay there, and Victor couldn't be more pleased, but the reporters are clamoring, and they'll have to go answer questions if they want to be able to watch the rest of the performances, so he gets up, hand dropping to Yuri's arm, and tips his head towards the waiting cameras. "We can watch them in the back with the others, but first, I think some people would like to congratulate you on your new personal best."

Date: 2017-04-06 04:33 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by cherrytini (pleased as punch)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
He hangs back to let Yuri get the spotlight, as he should, and just watches with a smile on his face and his arms full of the onigiri plushie, the poodle tissue box, and Yuri's water bottle, and it's a little bit of a strange feeling, honestly, but he thinks it's a good one, watching someone else answer questions and blink against the photographer's flashes.

Besides, Yuri is doing fine. He's obviously too tired to think clearly, but he answers politely and modestly, exactly the way he should when there are still three other skaters to come. Even if everyone knows it would take a miracle to bump him from first place tonight. Even if it would seem like the height of vanity to say so.

But he looks relieved when the next group finishes their warm-up, and Georgi is being announced, so he can squirm his way out from under their peering eye, and Victor sidles between him and the reporters and interviewers, smiling and waving and brushing off their questions with the ease of long practice.

Is he proud of Yuri's performance today? Absolutely, he was as blown away as everyone else who saw it was.

Does he think the competition that's left is stiff enough to steal Yuri's current first-place position? They're all excellent skaters, he's looking forward to watching them do their best, just as Yuri did.

This program was such a departure from Katsuki's usual style, where did the inspiration for it come from? Well, he's seen great potential in Yuri's skating to go far beyond what he had attempted before, and between the two of them they had created a program to maximize his strengths and show off his technical ability as well as his artistry.

Which is the last question he answers before he ushers Yuri into the waiting room where Phichit and Guang-hong are watching Georgi's Carabosse routine, but splits off, briefly, to set their things down and move over to chat quiet with Celestino, who gives him a grin and a pat on the shoulder that Victor returns.

They've done all they can do, today, and tomorrow isn't here yet: might as well congratulate each other on a brilliant start.

Date: 2017-04-06 06:14 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (what are you talking about?)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
There's some chatter from the skaters clustered around the tv about first Georgi's and then Leo's short programs, but Victor only needs to glance at the scores to know he was right and neither of them are going to be offering up a challenge today. Tomorrow will be a different story, but that's tomorrow: right now, he waves to Celestino (who seems to be a little off-kilter today, himself, and keeps shooting Victor annoyed looks) and wanders over to join Yuri and the others as Chris takes the ice.

Chris. No shrinking violet, in his shimmering catsuit, with choreography that looks as if it was taken directly out of a strip club, and Victor's amused as he leans in to wrap his right arm around Yuri's waist, left hand cupping the inside of his shoulder so Victor can settle his chin on Yuri's shoulder and rest his cheek against the side of Yuri's head, while on the screen, Chris' quad turns into a triple. His laugh is a quiet huff of amusement: Chris is good, and he's widely regarded as a sex symbol among their community, and Victor can't say it doesn't have its appeal, but he prefers the fiery, playful passion of the skater he's currently using as a full-sized body pillow to Chris' overt sensuality.

On the television, Chris recovers, and Victor snorts a breath of fond laughter. "He said he wasn't finding motivation, but Chris never goes into a major slump." Which is what he'd said before, earlier. Even when he was competing, Chris never started the season off as strongly as he ended it. "He's a slow starter, so he doesn't try to peak in the main event."

Amused, as Chris sweeps about the ice to a throbbing, sultry song: "But today he's really going all out on sex appeal."

Not that it matters. A totally different animal from Eros, where the chase is part of the point, and passion's fickle nature is both highlighted and criticized. Chris lays it all out there for anyone to see or have, there's no subtlety to it anywhere, and he can't agree when Yuri says Chris won the day's sex appeal award, though he pats Yuri's shoulder encouragingly. It doesn't matter: he was right. Nothing those three did was enough, and now?

Now they'll fight their way to the top.

Date: 2017-04-06 09:41 pm (UTC)
fivetimechamp: by me (nailed it!)
From: [personal profile] fivetimechamp
As the roar from the crowd goes up at the realization, Victor gives Yuri a squeeze, grinning into his cheek, saying "I knew you could do it!" before letting go to run interference with the reporters and cameras until Yuri is ready to talk to them.

Hearing Phichit say he's gunning to pass Yuri tomorrow in the free skate, and walking past a determined-looking Leo de Iglesia and his coach, there's a sea of tossed congratulations and an exuberant feeling of accomplishment saturating the air. No one is going to feel like they're out of the running after the short program, with the much higher possible scores of the free skate to come, so the skaters are effervescent and optimistic, congratulating each other and posing for selfies before heading out to talk to the cameras waiting outside.

For his part, Victor can't stop smiling, even if he tries to make it look like he knew this would be the result all along. Is he surprised that Yuri is currently in first place? No, he is not: he's always known Yuri had the ability to do as well as he had today. Does their success in the short program make him pleased with his decision to turn to coaching? Well, he'd already been pleased with it, but this is nice, too. Is being back at the rink during a competition enough to make him want to come back as a competitor himself? It's good to be back, and interesting to be on the other side of the wall during the perfomances, and, look! Here's Yuri! Please focus on him, after that outstanding performance.

Stepping to the side, alight with pride, as Yuri stammers through his answers, steadily gaining steam and confidence, even if his voice shakes a little when he declares they'll win together tomorrow with the power of love, making Victor step into frame, beaming genially and tossing up victory symbols. "Win, win!"

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勝生 勇利, Katsuki Yūri

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