Yuri!!! On Ice.Disclaimer:
Rien n'est à moi.Prompt:
Je suis là, à tes côtés.Note1:
C'est mon Secret Santa de cette année. Pardon, c'est en ANGLAIS, mais je suis trop contente d'avoir réussi à l'écrire!Note2:
Débuté hier, fini aujourd'hui. AVERTISSEMENT : Victor est dépressif++, mais pas d'idées suicidaires.
- Landscape -
"Annnd, this is another World Record for Victor Nikiforov!"
Victor sighs before he can stop himself, not from relief; that's not relief, squeezing his heart, ribs constricting. Victor puts a hand on his chest, momentarily confused by the feeling. The crowd roars his name but it barely registers in his mind, the sound familiar.
Beside him, on the bench, Yakov smiles; his secret smile, his proud smile. He looks too at ease, though, too relaxed, arms spread out confidently around his plump body. He turns to Victor and he says :
- Good job, kiddo.
But it's mechanical. A given.
Yakov is not surprised by the results.
"Although, Nikiforov's results were to be expected, since his performance was..."
Victor's chest squeezes, and squeezes, and squeezes.
It's not relief. And it's not happiness, either.
When did it begin? Victor doesn't know. The ice is still his shelter, still his home; he doesn't feel at peace until he has his blades on and the artificial cold of the rink on his cheeks. But, something is missing. The ice is still home but ice skating competitions are eroding at Victor's core, little by little. The forced cheering, heavy expectations on his shoulders met with expected results, the well, he's Victor Nikiforov, so. Of course.Of course.
Nobody is surprised anymore. Victor trains, and trains, and wins
but it's not enough
. There's no happiness. He feels empty.
At World, Victor competes with Chris and wins first place and Chris is second. Again.
"I won't give up, mon ami
", Chris says, eyes blazing. "I won't. I'll beat you one day. But..."
Chris lowers his head, a small smile on his face; more proud than disappointed, blasé but warm. Not even bitter :
"I admit it : you're still the best of us all. At least today, hein
He is not surprised. He is not surprised
Victor's heart squeezes on nothing.
Victor is still home on the ice, and home has never felt colder.
This is loneliness. Crippling, icy loneliness, paralyzing Victor little by little. He doesn't see Makkachin as often as he would like, and his dog's absence is an ache under his ribs, expanding the emptiness already there. Something is missing.
But Victor keeps smiling, because a young skater could watch and he would hate himself even more if he disappointed them
; he keeps training, he keeps winning. And he tries to ignore how the world becomes duller as a result, its colors fading away in a reverse spring.
Loneliness is a monster trying to swallow him whole, and nobody sees it.
Victor keeps smiling. It looks better on photographs, doesn't it?
- ONE DAY, I WILL BEAT YOU !
The declaration struck Victor like lightening, not surprising in itself but confounding in its intensity, the words thundering like absolute truth. Victor stops his current training to look back at Yuri Plisetsky. The young skater is studying him from the outside of the rink, breathless from his outburst, chin tilt up in a clear challenge. His blue eyes are angry like always but something else seems to hide in their light, something shrewd, and Victor feels his throat closing up. This kid has always been too perceptive for his age.
Yuri opens his mouth :
- One day, I'll beat you. I will. Just you wait! I will stand soon on the same rink as you and I'll beat you with my own strength. You hear me, Victor?
Victor's lips thin. He doesn't smile. He watches his junior, his gangly limbs, his slouch that hides so well the gracefulness he has on the ice, his still small frame. His cat-like hissing.
Victor's lips stretch, wide and void and just a little bit dishonest, his eyes automatically falling shut. He doesn't know what is in his heart, at this moment : it's murky and afraid and maybe angry, too, and maybe grateful; but it feels like a challenge all the same.
- Aaaww, Yuri. For the time being, you're still a kitten without much experience but I congratulate you, it's good to be ambitious!
He takes off his blades, suddenly tired, and exits the rink. Yuri's fists clench at his sides, his face crumpling despite his best efforts to hide it, and Victor feels himself softening, his smile small and warm. He pats his junior's shoulder and mouths slowly, low :
- Thank you...
Yuri's eyes flare open at that, flabbergasted, and Victor shuts himself off before the young man can try to read him, schooling his expression in the best smile-armor he has in his arsenal :
- But really, you still have a long way to go, so you should begin now! Didn't Yakov just criticize your sense of balance? You won't be able to do anything if you go too fast, Yuri.
Yuri's scowl at that is glorious
, his hair dishevelled, his eyes two fiery suns; it lightens Victor's mood and alleviates his heart, makes him breathe.
- I DON'T NEED YOU TO KNOW THAT !
Victor grins suddenly, the boy's predictability touching. It seems to baffle Yuri, the young man sending him a weird and suspicious look. Victor only keeps smiling and pats Yuri's shoulder again in response.
He is about to leave when Yuri calls him back, not a danger anymore :
- Hey! You promised you would help me with my programs if I win the Junior Grand Prix without any quad. When the time comes, I hope you remember it, Victor.
Victor cackles. He feels like a Disney villain.
He doesn't look back.
Victor doesn't know what to think about Yuri's declaration. On one end, he can't help being afraid. He knows, rationally, that he won't be able to stay the best forever, that he's getting older and Yuri's getting stronger, all grace and angry determination. He knows that the other skaters also watch him like vultures, waiting for the day he will fall from his throne and burn his wings. He knows that they are just waiting for the first sign of weakness. He knows that.
If it's not another skater, then it's time that will kill him. And yet, that is not the thing that he is most afraid of. What scares him; what keeps him from sleeping, what makes his hands tremble and his heart sick, is a unique question : who is Victor Nikiforov, without ice skating?
He doesn't have an answer. He doesn't have an answer, only this void inside his chest, threatening, all-encompassing, nightmarish emptiness blowing the candle of his motivation like nothing and pushing its tendrils of despair to the tip of his fingers, the point of his blades. He only has loneliness.
And on the other end, this loneliness screams, screams
for him to give up his crown, to let Yuri take it; because, then, maybe someone will be able to see behind the mask, see behind the blades and the glory, and care for the ghosts he hides within.
xxxStammi Vicino, Non Te Ne Andare
is nothing more than a cry for help; it makes him bleed, it makes him cry when noone can watch him, it takes his heart out and opens it for everyone to see. Victor feels lighter when he skates it, though, the pain in his legs after each performance comforting, the jumps like coming home.
Something is still missing; this song, the dance, Victor's bones are calling for someone else, praying the loneliness away. Victor is waiting.
He didn't know. He didn't know that someone would answer, calling right back at him.
With a gasp, Victor wakes up.
And he doesn't have the time to feel it - the crushing loneliness of his dream, of his memories, this hole of despair where nothing seems to shine anymore - because there he is, immediately. Yuuri gathers him in his arms with shushing sounds, soft and warm, and lets him find his breath again against his clavicle. His body is not a cage; it's a shelter, it's home, and Victor chokes, trembling, arms and legs around him, wet noises escaping his mouth.
Makkachin presses against him too, licks his back and whines, and Victor laughs weakly. Without letting go of Yuuri, he pets his dog with one hand, his heart full. He sighs against Yuuri's temple.
Slowly - so very slowly, to be sure Victor is okay with it (and, oh, how Victor loves him for it) - Yuuri disentangles himself enough to be able to look at his face. He doesn't have his glasses on but that doesn't change the intensity of his chocolate gaze, eyes glinting worriedly in the light of dawn bathing their bedroom. He puts a careful hand on Victor's cheek, gently wiping away his tears. His brow furrows when Victor sighs again, leaning into the touch.
- This nightmare looked horrible.
Victor snorts inelegantly, self-deprecating. He grips the sheet tightly and Yuuri notices; his free hand, the left one, comes to rest automatically on Victor's right hand, his fingers drawing soothing patterns on his skin, so lovingly that Victor wants to cry.
- This wasn't really a nightmare... More like memories.
Memories and fear and doubt, the screams of an old wound that refuses to heal wholly.
Yuuri's face crumples, his eyes wide and sad. And then, like a match being lit up, he squints, sudden and burning determination in the planes of his face. He takes both of Victor's cheeks in his hands and leans in, thunder in his iris, his knees knocking against Victor's.
- I don't know what you dreamed about... But I think I can guess.
Victor's eyes fly open, his throat thick. Yuuri's gaze softens, kind and so understanding it hurts.
- It's over, Victor. I promise. You're not alone anymore.
And Victor shatters
. There, in the intimacy of their shared bedroom, he crumbles into Yuuri's arms, ice skating champion breaking apart to leave only Victor
, sobs wracking his frame. His heart bursts
but it's to stitch itself back again, the needle in Yuuri's hand. How did he know? How can Yuuri exist, how could Victor be so full, now? Since when does the sun shine inside of him?
He knows. He knows since when.
- How did you know?
And his words are faint but Victor's eyes burn brightly, nothing extinguished about them. Yuuri looks away, cheeks flushed, arm coming to rub his own scalp bashfully and Victor loves him
, he loves him, he loves him with everything he is and everything he will be. He loves him on the ice, he loves him outside of it, he loves him sleepy in the morning and fully awake at night, he loves him laughing on the beach and full of anxiety. He loves him.
- Well... Hum.
Yuuri smiles and laughs, suddenly shy and Victor is so lucky
, to have Yuuri by his side, beautiful, passionate, amazing Yuuri, mesmerizing in his complexity, full of stubbornness and pride and modesty and will.
Yuuri looks at him, soft and there :
- I know you. And I feel the same, too. I think about the time before I properly met you, and... Sometimes, I still can't believe it's real. That I'm not alone. You're too good to be true.
Victor moves closer and takes Yuuri's hand in his, shaking his head. He is not. He has to say it :
- I am not. You
Yuuri laughs again, just a little. It's a beautiful sound, like bells inside Victor's heart.
- If I have to accept that you're real, you have, too. Okay?
He looks up and it's his Serious Face again, thundering determination that nothing can stop :
- This is real, Victor. I am here, I am with you, and you deserve everything.
Victor breathes. Delicately, he puts his forehead against Yuuri's, his eyes falling shut :
- Yuuri, this is real. I am here, I am with you, and you deserve everything.
Yuuri smiles. Victor feels it against his lips, hands intertwined, their rings glinting in the morning sun.
Later, at the rink, Victor feels a finger on his brow, Yuuri scowling :
- Nu-huh. No bad thinking, forbidden. You'll get wrinkles.
Victor chokes, falsely scandalized :
- Are you saying that I'm old??
Immediately, Yuuri backs down, flushing :
- No, I'm not! I-
But Victor doesn't let him get away with it. His eyes twinkle teasingly and he screams, waking up his poor dog who was sleeping under the benches outside of the rink :
- MAKKACHIN! Did you hear? Yuuri said I'm old
- I did NOT!
And Victor laughs, skating away. Yuuri follows after him :
- Victor, come back here!
This is real; Victor is not alone at the top anymore, Yuuri is there by his side.
The world is so large, now.