So it was possible that Yuuri might have imagined Victor naked a few times.

It was only natural. Yuuri had grown up at a hot springs, he was used to admiring the naked male body in a dispassionate, objective way, as an object of aesthetic and scientific curiosity. And Victor was an admired athlete in Yuuri's field, a field whose effects could be seen on the body. Why wouldn't Yuuri have imagined how all those years of spins and jumps might have sculpted Victor's pale torso, what scars he might have on those long legs?

And, yes, perhaps some of this imagining may have, sometimes, involved Yuuri himself. After all, he needed a context for Victor to be naked, and what was more plausible than him visiting Yuuri's family's hot spring? And given that context, why wouldn't Yuuri then imagine the two of them bathing together? Why wouldn't he have thought about them comparing bodies, about Victor's long fingers guiding Yuuri's legs into position to show him new routines choreographed just for him?

That was all entirely natural and unremarkable.

But in all that imagining, he'd never thought he'd ever actually see Victor naked in real life. And absolutely none of these imaginings had included Christophe Giacometti being naked as well.

Yuuri quickly backed behind the corner of the wall he'd just innocently walked past. Had they seen him? They'd seemed pretty…distracted. Victor's eyes had definitely been closed, his expression…occupied. But had Chris's eyes been open? How could he be thinking of other things while he was doing that?

From the sounds coming from around the corner, they were still under the impression they were alone. Yuuri was safe. But for some reason he still felt awful, his heart wouldn't stop beating and he couldn't bring himself to leave.

What were they thinking? This was an out of the way part of the hotel, sure, but it was hardly private. Why not go back to their rooms, instead of exposing themselves on some random couch where anyone could come across them? What if Yuuri had been a member of the press? Or an innocent child? Not that many children were walking around the hotel at midnight, right now the hallways were the sole province of people in the throes of anxiety and…other feelings. But that wasn't the point!

Yuuri was so busy being annoyed that he almost didn't notice when the noises stopped. And he was standing in the only exit! He barely had time to duck into a doorway before Victor and Chris walked past him, their shirts half buttoned and faces flushed. Victor floated off towards the elevators with an airy wave, leaving Chris standing at the end of the hallway Yuuri was hiding in. Why wasn't he leaving?

And then, a moment after the door closed on Victor's sleepy, smiling face, Chris turned towards Yuuri. Yuuri shrank back as far as he could into the shadows. Christophe squinted against the light and then gave a satisfied hum as he got closer and could see Yuuri more clearly.

"Enjoy the show?" he said with a smile that dripped with sleaze. Oh God, did he think Yuuri was a peeping Tom?

"No!" said Yuuri. "That is…I'm sorry! I didn't mean to see anything! I was just walking around to calm my nerves, and then I, uh…"

Chris gave a shrug "Hey, the more the merrier," he said. "Yuuri Katsuki, right? Maybe you could join us next time. You're kind of cute. Just ask first, ok?"

"No!" squeaked Yuuri, way too loud. He didn't want to have sex with Chris! And he definitely couldn't have sex with Chris and Victor. He didn't want to share Victor, if he had him to himself he'd…he'd…that wasn't the point.

Yuuri tried to calm himself down. "I mean…not that I think theres anything wrong with it! If you're in love then that's….beautiful, right? I hope you and Victor will be very happy together! I'm just…not…"

His voice petered out before he could say "interested in men". It was hard to ignore the image of a naked Victor in the throes of passion that had seared itself into the very bedrock of Yuuri's brain. His physical reaction was no disinterested appreciation of an athletic physique.

But that was gross. Yuuri didn't want to be like one of those creepy fans who ogled paparazzi shots of their idols in private moments. Obviously he was just happy for Chris and Victor. How…nice that they'd found love. Together.

Chris chuckled. "Love? That's sweet but…no. We were just blowing off steam. Getting ourselves ready to tussle on the ice with some sexy tussling on the couch."

Blowing off steam? Was that a thing people did? It was apparently a thing Victor did. With people.

Chris was set to stand on the Grand Prix final podium with Victor, was that what it took? If Yuuri managed to stand with Victor, would Victor be interested in him that way? Would it…help their skating? After all, Chris and Victor were both top skaters, obviously they knew what they were doing. It was ok to imagine this sort of thing if it was skating related, right?

Yuuri felt his face flush.

"Aw, I've embarrassed you," said Chris. "Look, if you'd rather wind yourself into a tight little ball walking around all night, that's ok! But I'm going to sleep like an angel." He patted Yuuri on the cheek. "See you tomorrow."

Tomorrow. The Grand Prix. The reason Yuuri had been pacing the hotel in the first place. Yuuri's first and possibly last chance to stand on a podium with Victor. The thought filled Yuuri with even more anxiety than it had before, and it had led him to a great many sleepless nights.

Yuuri let Christophe head back to the elevators ahead of him and then made his own way slowly to bed. But his racing thoughts didn't leave him much room for sleep.

Yuuri had decided that there were two possible explanations for Victor's behaviour over the last few months:
1) He had never hit on Yuuri. Everything: the touching, the affectionate glances, was all just him being a friendly coach.
2) Victor had always been hitting on Yuuri, even when all he knew of Yuuri was that one video. Victor's interest in Yuuri was purely physical, the flirting had no romantic component and was just about getting into Yuuri's pants.

The first explanation was depressingly plausible. Sure, Victor seemed fond of Yuuri, and that was…that was great. And he certainly could be…unusually demonstrative about that affection. Yuuri couldn't imagine acting the way Victor did around him unless he was…well, he couldn't imagine doing it at all. But if he did, it would only be with someone he was really interested in. But Victor was not Yuuri.

The second explanation was even more depressing. Maybe Victor didn't even like Yuuri, not as a person, he just thought he was hot. Which would be great if Yuuri was interested in casual sex! But unfortunately, Yuuri was more of a deep obsessive love sorta guy. Specifically, deep obsessive love for Victor, of the sort that would crush Yuuri's heart into tiny pieces if he let himself become Victor's friend with benefits. No matter how attractive the proposition might seem.

Given what he knew of Victor's history of casual sex with fellow skaters, the second explanation had been Yuuri's assumption at the start. Victor did have a reputation for being a playboy, after all, and as much as Yuuri admired him he was well aware that Victor's friendly persona could be self serving and insincere. But for all that Yuuri was prone to self doubt, he felt pretty sure at this point that Victor did like him, that he genuinely enjoyed coaching Yuuri and cared about his well being. And it had been months, if he was just interested in sex there were plenty of other fish in the sea.

This led to a third possibility: that at some undefinable moment Victor's behaviour and feelings had changed. Either he'd switched from being innocent to being flirtatious or he'd switched from just wanting Yuuri for sex to being interested in a deeper relationship.

But that possibility felt too much like wishful thinking to consider for very long.

Yuuri sometimes wondered how his own behaviour appeared to Victor. Yuuri had rejected Victor's many advances (assuming they were advances) so he was pretty sure Victor didn't think Yuuri was interested in him that way. The fact that Victor hadn't become more stand-offish as a result made Yuuri more sure that he'd never really meant to hit on Yuuri in the first place. Victor had a lot of self confidence, but Yuuri couldn't imagine anyone keeping their spirits up in the face of that much rejection.

And then…there was the inconvenient fact that Yuuri was interested. He'd been wanting Victor so long it hadn't felt like wanting, just the unquestioned nature of things, like wanting to breathe. He'd only recognised his attraction for what it was after being forced to consider Eros in the abstract. It was only after he'd learned what desire was that he had realised how much of it he felt for Victor.

But even if, somehow, that desire was returned, there was no way he could ever act on it. By the time Yuuri realised how much he wanted to take Victor up on those ambiguous invitations it had been far too late. Yuuri's feelings for Victor might have started out as a mixture of professional admiration and shallow crush, but after working with him, knowing him for all this time they had grown into something more. Into a love Yuuri could barely contain, and could not express. He'd tried and couldn't even begin to get the words out. Every time he was paralysed by imagining Victor's reaction: at first laughter, then pity, and then guilt. And there'd be no going back from that, no hiding the giant gaping hole in his heart.

So Yuuri just acted like Victor wasn't flirting with him, and pushed all his feelings onto the ice. He couldn't tell Victor he loved him as himself, so he poured it all into his routine. He couldn't just tell Victor he wanted to touch him, to be held, but he could hug him before competitions for good luck. That was enough. Victor was still his.

Maybe only for now. Maybe only as his coach. But that was enough.

Victor had kissed him.

Yuuri stared up at him, the cold of the ice against his cooling back nothing compared the the sensation of Victor's whole body lying on top of him, Victor's face close, so close… What was he…he couldn't even process it. Yuuri struggled to speak but was too consumed by shock.

Victor smiled and said "That was the only thing I could think of to surprise you more than you surprised me."

Oh. Victor had seen Yuuri's love and accepted it. Accepted it within the context of skating, but that was for the best. Right now, that was the only context where it could survive. One day Yuuri would be strong enough to express his feelings to Victor in full, but he wasn't quite there yet.

"Really?" said Yuuri, and then he smiled.

After dinner, Victor walked Yuuri back to his room. He was making small talk at high speed, babbling plans about the final in Spain. Was he nervous? Was he…did he want to kiss Yuuri again?

Did Yuuri want him to?

Just thinking about it made Yuuri's hands fumble at the lock. Maybe it was time to stop resisting what they both wanted.

Victor stayed at the door as Yuuri entered the room, still talking but not following Yuuri inside. Yuuri took off his shoes and socks and watched Victor rattle off opinions about the other skaters, waiting for Victor's momentum to run out so that he had to decide if he wanted to stay or go. Yuuri put his jacket on the hook and then pulled off his shirt: he felt sticky, but also he wanted to see what Victor's reaction would be.

Victor went visibly pink and his eyes became fixed on Yuuri's face, like he was trying really hard not to look down at Yuuri's naked chest. Good.

"So, I should let you sleep!" said Victor. "Since you apparently didn't manage to do it last night."

Yuuri leaned forward, grabbed Victor's tie, and pulled him into the room. Victor's eyes widened and his mouth opened slightly, like he was daring Yuuri to kiss it. Yuuri pushed the door closed with his other hand and pushed Victor against it before doing just that.

Victor made a sound of surprise. Was that good or bad? Yuuri didn't know how to express himself physically, not off the ice, and he couldn't put it into words. So he loosened his hold on Victor's tie and looked him in the eye. Victor looked down at him and smiled.

Victor pulled Yuuri into an embrace, his arms tight around him. Yuuri gently ran his hand over Victor's head. Victor nuzzled his head into the crook of Yuuri's neck and it was better than kissing, and that had been better than anything Yuuri had thought possible.

"Ah, Yuuri," said Victor, with an affection that made Yuuri's heart feel like it filled his whole chest. He sighed into Yuuri's shoulder.

"I…I want to kiss you again," said Yuuri. "But I'm not actually sure…how it works…"

It wasn't like Victor hadn't known that already, but it still felt awful to have to admit to his inexperience out loud. It felt like going back to his old self, the self who'd barely been able to look Victor in the eye let alone kiss him.

Victor squeezed Yuuri extra tight, then put his hands on Yuuri's shoulder, smile widened into a grin. He ran a long finger up Yuuri's face and gently placed his thumb on Yuuri's mouth, softly wiping the slight wetness across his lower lip. "Then I'll just have to teach you," he said.

Yuuri let out a small laugh, affectionate and embarrassed. But this was no good, he didn't want to feel like a blushing kohai, always passive and on the back foot. Yuuri tilted his head to the side and lowered his eyelashes. "Go on then," he said.

Victor's eyes widened. Yuuri smiled at him, eyes narrowed in challenge. Victor smiled back, eyes bright. Challenge accepted.

Victor stepped forward, so that Yuuri had to take a step back. "You began well," said Victor, his hands sliding from Yuuri's shoulders to cradle his head. "It is good to start with small, chaste kisses." He leaned his head down and gave Yuuri a small, light kiss. "But then…" He tilted his head and opened his lips slightly. Yuuri followed suit, and was rewarded with a softer, more intimate kiss and a small hum of approval from Victor. Yuuri felt the vibration in his own lips, felt Victor's saliva on his mouth. Felt Victor's arms around him, his back under Yuuri's fingers. They kissed again, and again, until Yuuri felt himself wobbling on his feet. It was almost too much, and they'd barely begun.

"Yuuri?" said Victor.

"Sorry," said Yuuri. "This is just…" He slowed his breath, took comfort in the safety he felt in Victor's arms. He pushed his fingers up into the hair at the nape of Victor's neck (so soft. As soft as he'd always imagined it) "But don't stop."

Victor looked down to Yuuri's lips and blushed slightly. His eyes were wide and dark. He wants me thought Yuuri.

Yuuri kissed his slightly open mouth, still not sure what he was doing but needing Victor to be closer.

Victor's mouth opened further and Yuuri felt a soft pressure- Victor's tongue. Oh God. Victor was inside him. At first it was all he could do to keep his balance, but this was a dance like any other and he was going to learn it. He followed where Victor lead, gently gliding along teeth and lips, sucking and sliding and feeling like his body and Victor's were merging into a single strange being.

Suddenly Victor pulled away, panting.

"Oxygen," he said. "But…ahh…Yuuri…you…" His mouth was pink now, is eyes a little unfocussed. I did that thought Yuuri.

Yuuri grabbed his tie and pulled him back closer. "I didn't say you could stop."

Victor let out a tiny involuntary groan. You don't need oxygen when you've got me thought Yuuri and pulled Victor into another kiss. He didn't follow this time. He dominated, pushing his tongue into Victor's mouth and then pulling away just as Victor started to find his equilibrium. He kissed into the nape of Victor's neck and felt his teeth scrape against Victor's skin. He pushed Victor into the door again and felt Victor squirm and gasp, pushed up Victor's shirt and slid his hands up onto Victor's chest. Felt his smooth skin, rounded muscles, the light scratch of hair.

"There you are," said Victor, softly. Like he'd just been waiting for Yuuri to make this last step.

"How long have you wanted this?" said Yuuri. How long have you wanted me.

Victor's eyes widened and he let out a gasping laugh. "Did you really…not notice? Was I too subtle? Should I have have written please fuck me on my chest after I got naked?"

"Oh," said Yuuri. Victor laughed again and Yuuri could feel tears prickling at the corners of his eyes. He couldn't let Victor see him crying! It would be too hard to explain, too intimate, too…too much.

He rested his head against the rumpled folds of Victor's shirt. So Victor really had been trying to get into his pants from the beginning. He obviously did care about Yuuri beyond that, now, but this was probably still just…sex to him. Like Yuuri had always known, deep down.

Should he stop?

He didn't want to stop. He wanted to keep going, wanted to make Victor his in every way he could. It felt like letting go of a heavy weight to accept that this was all he could have. It was almost like a relief.

And there was a momentum to sex, base animal desires that pushed away thought. Yuuri could feel that momentum pulling at him now, surely if he could just give in to it he could stop worrying about what Victor felt, what Victor might do in the future, and just enjoy having him here, now.

Yuuri slowly moved one hand down Victor's chest, past his belly, feeling Victor's muscles twitch. He looked up as his hand reached below Victor's belt. Victor's eyes were closed, his hands loose on Yuuri's back, his expression reminiscent of the one he'd worn when Yuuri had seen him with Chris. I'll make you forget all about Chris he thought.

Somehow. Despite not knowing what he was doing at all.

Victor's breath began to speed up, and Yuuri's did in turn as he saw the effect he was having on Victor. Yuuri started to undo Victor's belt, fingers tangling in the metal and leather.

"Yuuri," said Victor. Yuuri stilled. Had he done something wrong? "Are you sure you want to…" Yuuri replied by pushing into Victor, kissing him and rubbing against him so that neither of them could be in any doubt of their mutual desire.

Yuuri kept his body close and pulled his head back just far enough to talk. "Do you want me to stop," he said. It wasn't a question. It was another challenge.

"I want…a lot of things," said Victor, breathless. "You amongst them. But we only just started…this. And I don't want to hurt you, or mess things up. You're important to me."

"But…but it's j-just sex," said Yuuri, voice weak. Victor wanted to protect him from pain, as if that were possible now. Yuuri loved him so much.

Victor's eyes became sad. Was that pity? Did he not believe Yuuri's sincerity? Was he going to make them stop, after they'd come so far?

Yuuri did his best to sound confident and cheerful. "You don't have to worry about me! I might…might not have done this stuff before, but I know not to read too much into it. We're…just friends, right?"

"Mmm," said Victor. He covered his mouth and rubbed his chin with one hand. He looked at Yuuri through his eyelashes in that way that made Yuuri feel like Victor could see all the way into his soul. See me thought Yuuri. But then Victor turned his eyes away.

"So, part of me would…very much like to continue," he said. "And we are…friends. But I am also your coach, and as your coach…I think you should go to bed." He put his hands on Yuuri's shoulders and then ever so gently pushed Yuuri backwards.

"If you insist," said Yuuri. He undid his pants and pulled them off, along with his underwear, before throwing them to the side. He sat himself on the edge of the bed, naked, and looked up at Victor. "Are you coming with me?"

Victor stared at him for a long moment. To Yuuri's satisfaction, his eyes flicked down to pass over the length of Yuuri's body before he managed to look back up to meet Yuuri's eyes. Yuuri had never thought of himself as especially good looking, but he seemed to fit the general shape of what was considered attractive in men, and he was increasingly sure that he fit the exact shape of what was attractive to Victor.

Just when Yuuri was wondering if he had taken things too far and he should apologise and let Victor leave, Victor took a step forward and sank to his knees in front of Yuuri. He put his hands on either side of Yuuri's, their fingers touching, and leaned forward and gave Yuuri a kiss, not gentle this time but hungry and needy. Yuuri kissed him back and they fell onto the bed, scrabbling up the sheet to find purchase while not wanting to let go of each other for a second. It felt like they were falling, holding on to each other as the wind whipped past and they plummeted towards something they couldn't escape.

Victor rolled himself on top of Yuuri, arms either side of his head. "Are you sure you want this?" he asked.

"I want you," said Yuuri, the words wrenched out of him and leaving him weak, the closest thing he had ever managed to a direct confession. He stared up at Victor, unable to move or speak. Victor stared back, short of breath, eyes wild.

"I know," he said, so softly he was almost inaudible. "I know." He leaned down and kissed Yuuri gently on the chest. Yuuri put his hand on Victor's head. Victor tilted his head to kiss Yuuri's palm. And then he started to kiss his way down Yuuri's torso.

Was he…but at last Yuuri's mind was being clouded enough by the fog of desire for him to stop worrying, to stop refusing what he wanted out of fear. He felt Victor's fingers trail up his leg, nails scratching light circles on his thigh, and then there was that oblivion Yuuri had hoped for, all thoughts and worries washed away.

Afterwards they kissed some more in bed, slow and unhurried. When Yuuri tried to tug again at Victor's belt Victor gently moved his hands away.

"Do you not like that sort of thing?" said Yuuri. That would be…strange. But he could accept it, as long as Victor wanted him most, to the extent that he wanted anyone.

Victor blinked at him. "Does anyone not like that sort of thing?"

"Maybe?" said Yuuri. "But if it's not that, then why…"

Victor kissed his cheeks, under each eye. "What you need is sleep," he said. "You can return the favour another time, it's not important."

Not important. Like he'd just lent Yuuri 10 yen and would get it back from him 'another time'. Like none of this really meant anything.

"Will you stay?" Stay mine forever. But he couldn't ask that.

"Of course," said Victor. He pulled off his shirt at last and then laughed. "I seem to be doing this in the wrong order…"

Victor was warm and felt so, so good in Yuuri's arms. Yuuri had to stop himself squeezing Victor so tight he wouldn't be able to sleep. He settled for giving his shoulder a soft kiss. Victor responded with a small sound of satisfaction. Yuuri was so happy he thought he might cry.

Yuuri woke to the sensation of Victor sprawled over his chest, his stubble digging into Yuuri's skin. He'd never really thought about Victor having stubble but found it strangely endearing.

Victor woke slowly, nuzzling into Yuuri as Yuuri petted the top of his head. His hair was a mess, a tangle of gravity defying locks at all different angles surrounded by a halo of fine hairs that glistened silver in the dim light. It was even cuter than the usual smooth fall of hair. Victor rested his chin on Yuuri's chest to smile at him before sleepily rolling over onto his back. He stared up at the ceiling and then frowned ever so slightly.

"Victor…" said Yuuri, not sure what to say next.

"We should get breakfast!" said Victor. "I'll call room service." He sat up and then jumped off the bed and strode naked towards the phone.

"Thank you," said Yuuri.

"I need to eat too," said Victor, smiling.

"No, for…helping me blow off steam." Yuuri blushed and tried not to look away.

Victor's smile fell for a moment. Had that been the wrong thing to say? But then he smiled even wider than before. "Of course," he said, sunnily, hand clenched tight around the receiver. "Any time."