"The last competitor here tonight at the Sochi Grand Prix Final is a living legend in the world of ice skating. Having won five consecutive gold medals at the World Championships and Four Continents, he's here to see if he can also win his fifth straight Grand Prix Final. Please welcome to the ice, Yuuri Katsuki! Tonight, he'll be skating to 'Stammi Vicino'."
"Chris! Chris! Are you watching?! It's his turn! Yuuri's up next!"
"Yes, yes, I'm here Victor. Calm down. Unlike a certain obsessed fanboy, I spent more than 2 seconds with the reporters and sponsors. Now let's try and squeeze up to a better spot. Your gold and my silver medal should help with that, don't you think?"
Chris' words proved to be correct as the crowd parted to let the two Junior medalists up to the railing. The music started, and Victor was captivated. But as he continued to watch, something began to bother him. It wasn't until the music was over and Yuuri had received his scores that it dawned on him.
"Chris, did he seem, I don't know, sad to you?"
"Well, the music itself wasn't exactly upbeat. How did you say it? 'He skates like his body itself is making the music' or something like that. It's a song about longing, so of course he'd come across as sad."
"No, no, I know he can skate the feeling of his songs, but this was different. I don't know how to describe it. It's like when someone smiles but it doesn't quite reach their eyes. There was some sort of disconnect. He was surrounded by an entire stadium of people, but he seemed...lonely? Is that the right word to describe it? Does any of that make sense?"
"Not really, but I'm not the one that has compulsively followed the man's career since my childhood. You know him better than I do. If you say something was off, I'll take your word on it. But I wouldn't worry too much. I'm sure it's nothing major."
"I'm sure you're right. I just hope everything is okay."
* * * * *
"Hisashi Morooka, your question please" the emcee called.
Morooka stood and smiled. "Yuuri, with such an amazing record and at only 24 years of age, people are wondering if you plan on trying for another sweep of gold medals. Would you be willing to appease the inquisitive masses with an official statement for your plans next season?"
Yuuri returned the smile. Morooka had been a staunch supporter of Yuuri's career over the years, and was honestly glad the question of his future had come from him.
"Yes, of course. I had already been planning on saying something, so I guess this is perfect timing."
The room went silent in anticipation.
"As of now, my official plan is retirement."
A quiet cough was the only sound for several moments before cameras started rapidly flashing, voices were raised, and suddenly everyone was speaking at once. Sitting beside Yuuri, Minako cleared her throat and glared at the audience. Quickly, the room went silent again.
"I'm at a point in my life where I'm ready to calm down and settle back down a bit. For years, I've enjoyed training, traveling, and competing, and I've made some very good friends along the way. But I've reached a point in my career where I'm starting to feel a bit lackluster in my performances. A loss of inspiration you might say. Don't get me wrong, I still love the sport, but having been at the top for so long, it's gotten a bit dull. Everyone expects me to do well. Everyone expects me to win the gold medal. And with such expectations, it's not as satisfying as a competitor. When I win, I don't feel the burst of joy and pride in myself for having won; it's just another day. When I step up on the podium, I no longer feel the exhilaration of my win as my national anthem is played; I just look forward when it's all over and I can go back to my hotel room and take a long, hot shower to relax my aching muscles. I'm on the top of the figure skating world right now. I've be lucky to have not suffered any major injuries and while there have been moments, the sport still feels more like a hobby than a job. So why not leave at such a positive time? So, instead, I plan on taking a year off, to just be myself. A year to find out who I am outside of being 'Living Legend Katsuki Yuuri'. A year to catch up on giving my dog all the love and cuddles I've missed out on over the years due to my schedule. A year to not have my life revolve around training. I want to give tracking calories the middle finger and indulge myself in my mother's cooking. You laugh, but if you had ever tried her katsudon, you'd understand. Then once I've had my 'me' time, I plan on working with my current coach Yuuko-sensei and choreographer Minako-sensei and become a coach in my own right. I've gained so much from my time on the ice that I absolutely want to be able to share my love and passion with the newer generations of skaters, regardless of their skill level. Thank you, that will be all. No more questions at this time."
* * * * *
Chris sighed. Victor had been inconsolable ever since Yuuri announced his retirement. Chris knew he needed to calm his best friend, but was running out of ways to do so. And with only 2 hours till the banquet started, he figured he'd need divine intervention to stop the weeping.
"Chris!" Victor whined for the umpteenth time, "How can you even talk about going to the banquet at such a time. I can't go and see him. I'll start crying again, you and I both know it! How am I ever supposed to skate on the same ice as Yuuri now? I waited till I was 17 to announce that I was going to move to the Senior division, just like Yuuri did, but now I'm too late! I was confidant and ready last season, but I stayed in the Juniors. Why? Why didn't I move up?" Victor began to sob on Chris' shoulder, yet again. "Now I'll never see him again!"
"Victor, what are you talking about. Of course you'll probably see him again. It might take a few years, but I wouldn't be surprised if he started appearing at competitions again."
For whatever reason, that seemed to get Victor's attention.
"Why?" Victor sniffled. "Why would he be going to competitions if he's not competing? I'm sure he's managed all his winnings and sponsorship money reasonably well, but could he really afford to do that? We all know international flights aren't exactly cheap. And would he really be content to just sit in the spectator seats? I know the camera's aren't the best at capturing our emotions while we skate, so I'm guessing someone who consistently maxed out his GOE when it came to his step sequences and spins and was known for being especially emotive would not be particularly pleased with nose-bleed seats and viewing capabilities."
"Victor," Chris mumbled, slightly dazed at his friends obtuseness, "did you even listen to what was said at the press conference?"
"Yes! No. Well, maybe not all of it. I heard the obvious retirement, how he had lost inspiration, and something about taking time off to be himself. I'll be honest, I'm not totally sure what he said after that point because I couldn't take it and walked out. But I'm sure I didn't miss anything important. At least not as important as him leaving ice skating. I couldn't listen to my idol, the man of whom I have so many posters of it's like wallpaper, the person I've always looked up to, talk about retirement."
Chris sighed. Hmm, how many times is that now? I should've really been counting. Pulling his laptop out of his bag, he sat down on the bed started searching for a replay of the announcement. Once he found one, he patted the bed beside him, and Victor sat down.
"Victor, I know this will be hard for you to hear again, but I need to you pay attention. Seriously. Pay attention. Because no, you didn't hear all of what Yuuri said, and you need to hear what Yuuri said. Especially since I know you've been clashing with Yurio this past year over creative differences in your routines. So sit down, shut up, and pay attention!"
What does my coach have to do with my idol? Victor cringed at the thought of hearing the worst news ever, all over again, but nodded his head in dejected acceptance. His eyes filled with tears when the word "retirement" was spoken, and then the tears rolled down his face as Yuuri spoke of his struggle to enjoy that which he had loved for so long. But as it got to the parts that Victor had missed, the tears stopped, his eyes grew big, and a calculating look flashed across his face.
"Still don't want to go to the banquet?" Chris 'innocently' asked.
* * * * *
Yuuri woke up to light streaming across his face and immediately groaned in pain. I really shouldn't get so drunk, especially not the night before a flight. I'm so weak to hangovers. He blindly scrolled through his phone, but surprisingly saw no incriminating photos or articles or messages from or about the banquet. That's probably a good thing. I know I got absolutely trashed as a final hurrah, and I know I'm not the best at holding my alcohol, so I'm glad I didn't make an ass of myself last night. Yuuri slowly rolled until he half fell off the bed, then grumbled as he pulled himself upright to begin packing. Once he got through the airports and crowds, he'd be at home for good, and for the first time in a long time, he'd be able to truly relax.
* * * * *
Yuuri jerked awake to the sound of someone knocking on his door.
"Yuuri, wake up. You have a visitor out front."
"I...ugh...who is it Mom?"
"I'm not sure. But sweetie, I thought you weren't going to take on any students for a season."
I'm not. What the hell? Why are people bothering me? This is supposed to be my 'me' time. I just want to sleeeeep. As the silence dragged on with no sign of his mom leaving without an answer, Yuuri slowly opened his eyes.
"I certainly wasn't planning on it. Why?"
"Well a handsome young man arrived today and he said he was here to train with you, so you might want to find out what's going on. Your father is with him right now, so once you're ready, head down and figure out the situation. You know we'll support you if you start coaching now or if you wait a year. But whatever you decide, make sure this young man knows what you want."
"Okay, thanks mom."
As he heard her footsteps shuffle away, Yuuri groaned and rubbed his eyes, attempting to more fully wake himself up. Once Yuuri was dressed, he realized Vicchan was nowhere to be seen. Wanting a bit of puppy love before confronting his new so-called student, he decided to search for his dog first. He wandered around the family wing before hearing muffled barking coming from the entry area. Opening the door, he was greeting with the sight of two different sized Vicchans running around and playing with each other. At the sound of someone entering the room, the larger Vicchan ran and jumped up to put its front paws on Yuuri's chest, knocking Yuuri to the ground. Once he regained his breath, he smiled and rubbed the ears of the larger dog.
"Well hello there. Who might you be?"
Hearing someone chuckle, he turned his head to see his dad laughing and smiling down at him.
"Isn't it just like Vicchan?"
"Hey Dad. Yeah, it really is. Um, Mom said there was someone here for me?"
"Yes. The dog actually came with your really good-looking foreign guest."
"Where is this mysterious person that's looking for me now?"
"Either his new room or the baths. He said he was very excited to try the hot springs Katsuki Yuuri always talked about in interviews."
Yuuri paused. "His new room?"
"Well, since he said he was here to stay and train with you, I helped him take his stuff to the unused banquet room. It's away from the regular guest rooms so your odd training hours wouldn't disturb the other guests. It also has plenty of room for his dog."
"Ugh, okay. Thanks dad."
After his father walked away to tend to some of the guests, Yuuri stayed on the floor for a couple more minutes, playing with the two dogs, delaying the inevitable. He was determined to take some time away from the fast-pace life of skating, but he was not at all looking forward to letting someone down by telling them that he would not coach them this season. Especially since they had come all the way here, dog included. Filled with a sudden burst of confidence and determination, Yuuri stood quickly and marched towards the old banquet room. He stood in front of the door, took an exaggerated breath in through his nose, then slid open the door with probably more force than was necessary. His foot froze mid-step as his eyes took in the contents of the room. Boxes upon boxes were stacked on each side of the room, Cyrillic writing covering everything. What the...? How much stuff did this person bring? Did they literally move here? Did they leave anything behind in...I don't know; where is this person even from? He continued to scan the room, but other than the boxes, the only thing he immediately saw was a futon rolled out on the floor. As he took a step inside the room, a hint of red caught his attention. He took a couple more steps into the room and saw a pile of luggage partially hidden behind some of the boxes. One still had the handle fully extended and was covered with a red and white Team Russia jacket. Well, I guess that answers one question. Seeing nothing else to identify the newcomer, Yuuri walked out, shut the door behind himself, and walked towards the hot springs. The rooms inside were filled with familiar faces, all older and Japanese. No one that stood out as a 'good-looking foreigner'. Taking another deep breath, he slid open the door and walked outside. As he rounded the corner, he was floored by the person relaxing in the water.
"Victor? Victor Nikiforov? You were the Junior Grand Prix Final champion, right? Why are you here?"
Looking up and suddenly smiling, Victor stood, naked as the day he was born, stretched his hand out towards his idol and proclaimed, "Yuuri, starting today, you're my coach! I want you to help me win the Grand Prix Final for my Senior Debut!" He even gave Yuuri a flirty wink once he was done talking.
Yuuri stood stunned, confused with everything that had happened in the last 12.7 seconds. Overwhelmed by what had just been said, he struggled to produce proper words.
Comments (0)See all