YoI Snapshots 5: First Times

Leaning over the top of the wall, Yuri watched Yakov finish instructing his last class for the day. He’d been here for hours just watching others skating, every now and then digging out his parents’ phones from the bag they’d left him to guard, but it was only now he was starting to feel anxious.

He’d practically grown up in the skating rink, coming down every few days to either watch his parents skate or help teach some of Yakov’s students, but this was the first time he could remember feeling uneasy. He was mostly just annoyed with the lack of skill or grace most skaters had compared to his family.

Victor and Yuuri were on the other side of the rink working with their own coach in making a new routine for a competition, but Yuri could see the day was about to come to an end. Yakov’s students were getting ready to hear his final critiques for the day and the rink staff was preparing to clean up after them.

Looking down at his feet, Yuri made sure his skates were on properly and the laces were tight enough to ensure they wouldn’t fly off as soon as he raised his foot. The last thing he wanted was a technical problem keeping him from doing any good on his first real skating lesson. He’d never really been on the ice before, apparently he’d run on every now and then when he was a kid, and there was stress that came with knowing he had to impress the adults in the room.

Far too soon for him the ice was mostly empty and Victor, Yuuri, and Yakov were looking to him expectantly. Victor skated out to his side and brought him to the opening in the barrier and asked, “Are you ready to take your first steps on the ice?”

The four year old didn’t want to show just how nervous he was, but he felt like Victor might have some idea judging from how tightly Yuri was gripping his hand. Making sure not to take his hand out of Yuri’s, Victor stepped over him onto the ice to be right in front of his son as soon as he stepped through the barrier. Yuri glanced around the room a few more times but he softly put his left step on the ice making sure his father was holding all of his weight. Victor moved his free hand to Yuri’s side and helped him balance both of his feet on the ice.

Neither of them moved for a few seconds, Yuri’s legs feeling like lead he didn’t think he was strong enough to lift, before Victor asked, “Do you want me to let go?”

“No,” Yuri said quickly. The last thing he wanted was for Victor to let go.

“How about I push you to the center like we did with the bike?” Victor asked. “It will help you get used to the ice.”

Yuri remembered learning how to ride a bike, he distinctly remembered Victor saying he wouldn’t let go and breaking that promise soon after, and he mumbled, “You better not let me go like.”

“Sure,” Victor said smiling before looking up to Yuuri and getting a nod of approval. Victor moved behind Yuri and leaned down to almost his level as he placed firm hands on his shoulder and pushing him forward softly. As soon as they began moving Yuri’s hand shot behind him to grasp Victor’s pant leg as his own safety precaution. The ice didn’t seem as forgiving as the grass he’d learned to ride a bike on and he still wasn’t sure his father wasn’t going to let him go.

Slowly and steadily they made their way to the center of the ice and Yuuri was sure to clap his praise for Yuri’s bravery. Yuri didn’t get a lot of time to revel in it before Yuuri asked, “Do you want to try moving by yourself?”

“No,” Yuri said just as strongly as he had the last time he’d been asked that question. That step could wait a few more weeks, maybe even years if he was able to convince his parents, but it definitely shouldn’t happen right now.

With his own plan in mind, Yuuri sat on the ice and motioned for Yuri to step forward. He explained, “It can only be a few steps between the two of us. If we think you’re about to fall we’ll catch you, okay?”

Feeling Victor sit down across from Yuuri and his hold on his shoulders getting softer, Yuri knew he wouldn’t be able to hold out for long. They couldn’t stay here watching him do nothing forever.

Victor’s hands slowly softened their grip until he was just barely touching Yuri’s back. Yuri decided he didn’t want to have his father be the one to push him forward. Instead, he tried to walk forward slowly, cautiously trying to keep his balance and not fall over. It took him a lot longer than he expected to, it just didn’t seem possible to balance on those thin blades, but soon enough he was in the safety of Yuuri’s hands.

“You did a great job, Yuri,” Yuuri exclaimed, “but how about trying to skate instead of walk?”

“Are you sure?” Yuri asked cautiously. “I think I’ve done enough for today.”

“We’re sure,” Victor said from behind Yuri. “You can’t be the best skater if you don’t learn how to skate.”

Although he knew Victor was trying to play to his pride, Yuri couldn’t help but let it work. He twisted around in Yuuri’s arm and noticed that Victor had moved a few paces back, increasing the distance Yuri would have to skate. Not wanting to be too sensitive and complain, Yuri decided he wouldn’t say anything. Instead, he waited until Yuuri’s arms were no longer holding onto him and kicked off the ice towards Victor. Just as he had expected Victor moved a few more paces back while Yuri watched, probably goading him to see if he could get him to say anything, but soon enough Yuri was right at his feet.

There was a slow clap from behind them as Yuuri excitedly said, “Congratulations, Yurio. You’re first time skating and you didn’t even fall.”

Instead of basking in the praise, Yuri asked, “What should I do next? I can try a jump.”

Victor was the one to stand up and say, “You’re not ready for jumps just yet.”

“So what should I do?”

Mapping out a lap around the link, Victor came back around and said, “Try skating one full circle. You don’t have to go very fast just yet, but try not to fall or lean on the side for help.”

Determined not to mess up, Yuri lined up parallel to the barrier and began slowly skating a circle around the rink. He had to stop and through out his arms to balance himself more than he liked to admit, but he felt like he made it back to the starting point in a respectable amount of time.

“That was a great job, Yuri,” Victor praised, “but try going a little faster and without as many stops.”

Yuri nodded and retook his position as he began skating. This time he didn’t stop to regain his balance every time he lost felt like he might fall and while he did run into the barrier a few times he managed to make it full circle a lot sooner. Yuuri and Victor made him repeat the same route a few more times, wanting him to get more comfortable skating, before telling him to do the same in the center of the rink. Yuuri reasoned, “You won’t keep holding onto the barrier every time you feel like you might fall. It’ll help with your confidence.”

Although Yuri wanted to say he already had enough confidence, he followed Yuuri’s instruction and could see his point. He felt the need to focus more on learning to balance and while it was definitely more frightening Yuri knew he was getting better.

It was almost an hour later that Victor finally said, “I think we’ve done enough for today. It’s getting late.”

A glance out the window showed that it was getting dark, but Yuri felt the need to say, “I can last longer. I haven’t even tried a jump yet.”

“It’s your first practice, Yuri. You don’t need to start a jump yet. Maybe next weekend.”

Relenting to fact they probably didn’t have enough time to do much else, Yuri glided over to seats so that his parents could help him take off his skates. It felt weird transitioning from the tight skates to much more forgiving sneakers, but it wasn’t a long trip to the car. In any case, Yuri wondered if he’d be able to sneak his skates away from his parents and practice on the pond near their house when it froze over.

YoI Snapshots 4: Impressions III

After days of having been locked up in his room, Yuri was reaching the limit of his patience. From everything the doctor had said in the infirmary and the many others had said in the hospital visits from then on, Yuri knew the injury wasn’t that serious. For the life of him he couldn’t see why he should have to stay in his room when he had already replaced the cast with a boot that moving around easy.

The only thing Yuri had to entertain himself was the internet and the laptop that his parents had given him as a reward for his patience, but by now he had already seen his favorite shows many times over and won every game that was interesting to him. That left him at the whim of his curiosity and soon he found himself typing his name into Google. He had been hiding from what everyone had been saying about his injury, but this seemed a good a time as any to find out.

To his surprise there were thousands of links that came up in the instant he finished the search and it only fed his curiosity more knowing he was this popular. The first couple of links were to news articles that gave a good summary about the events of the tournament, Yuri was great until he tried to surprise everyone with a move not in his program and he fell twisting his ankle and still won first, but most everything after that went downhill.

Some people were making jokes at his expense, he would be lying if he said some of them weren’t funny and he did let out an occasional chuckle, but others were assuming he would never be as good as his parents. There were a few comments about how this was an early end to his career, that he would never skate again and that he didn’t have the talent to continue, while others went as far as to say he’d never walk or show his face again. The comments weren’t the worst that he’d ever heard, being a semi public figure meant introducing the criticism of anyone with an opinion, and the goodwill sent his way was definitely in the majority, but Yuri found himself closing the laptop and pushing it aside to make more room for Makkachin to join him on the bed. If he wanted anything right now it was some unconditional love.

The two found themselves back in their regular position, Yuri on his side with Makkachin wrapped in his arms, for a few hours and almost dozed off to sleep. It was really the only thing left for him to do. The only thing that stopped him was the sound of the door creaking open and soft footsteps coming their way. Yuri was so close to sleep it took all of his energy to straighten up and face who it was and he softly lowered himself back down as he watched his father take a seat beside him on the bed.

Victor softly raised a hand to his hair and smoothed some of the runaway curls as he asked, “How are you feeling, Yurio? Do you feel sick?”

“Nope. I was just bored so I decided to take a nap,” Yuri complained hoping this meant he could finally leave.

Looking around the room and seeing the laptop thrown to the end of the bed, Victor asked, “Were you watching something? Did you find a new show?” He knew his son had been complained about even the internet being boring by now so it came as a surprise for him to find it on his bed.

Not wanting to have an uncomfortable conversation with his father about the comments he’d just seen, Yuri lied and answered, “I was just watching the same ones over again. I think I’ve memorized the lines by now.”

Moving the laptop to the desk to give them all more room and rubbing Makkachin’s head in welcome, Victor stood at the foot of the bed and said, “Well, for all your trouble I decided to get you a gift. I know how hard this has all been for you and I know how long you’ve wanted one of these so I decided this was a good a time as any.”

Yuri squinted his eyes in consideration before deciding this wouldn’t be one of Victor’s pranks and asked, “What is it? Can I see it right now?”

“Don’t you want to guess first?” Victor asked to give his son a hard time. “We don’t have go to it right away. I spent a lot of time tracking it down and I wouldn’t mind talking to you for a bit.”

Using the puppy face he’d perfected over the years, Yuri begged, “Please, Papa? I really want to see it and I’ve been so bored being here. Please can I see it? It would probably make me feel better. I’d love you forever.”

“You already love me,” Victor said smirking. Although he always knew he’d give into his son, Victor pretended to contemplate his options before saying, “Okay, you can see it right now.”

He moved out of the room with exaggerated stress while pretending not to notice Yuri staring at his back in anticipation. Even though the gift was sitting on the counter of the kitchen ready to be shown to Yuri, Victor took a few minutes to talk to his husband and keep his son wondering about what happened. It wasn’t like Yuri could run down the stairs and get upset.

After a quick exchange, Yuuri said, “You should probably head upstairs. He’s probably going to blow up if he doesn’t get his gift as soon as possible.”

Victor knew Yuuri was right and he peeked into the box one last time before asking, “Are you sure he’s going to like it?”

Laughing lightly, Yuuri promised, “If he isn’t over the moon then our son has been kidnapped and replaced by a look alike.”

Victor felt the box in his hand shift and carefully made his way back up the stairs until he was back in Yuri’s room. By now he was standing on the bed in anticipation while Makkachin perked up immediately at the new scent in the room. Victor motioned for the poodle to stay in bed and for Yuri to settled down before hurt himself again before softly setting the box down on the bed. He warned both of them, “You have to be careful, okay? This is very delicate and I will take it away from you if you hurt it. I promise.” After a quick nod from both of them, Victor motioned to Yuri and said, “Okay, son, go ahead and open the box.”

Yuri forwent any questions about why the box had an opening along the top and if it meant his gift was broken and instead held his breath as he slowly pulled the flaps away. He had taken his father’s warning to heart. As soon as he could make out the contents of the box Yuri let out an uncharacteristic yelp before slowly reaching in and lifting the small kitten giving him room to move around on the comforter. No one said anything for a few minutes as they watched him take furtive steps around the bed and investigate his new owners, Makkachin did take some liberties in smelling the kitten but was quickly warned against it after a few light taps from his paws, and the kitten finally decided to make his way to Yuri. Yuri seemed like the one most likely to give him his deserved attention and after being placed in a box for so long the kitten wasn’t too fond of Victor at the moment. For a few minutes no one did anything but watch as Yuri started playing with the cat trying to make sure he felt comfortable all the while appreciating the soft fur and occasional purrs.

Finally breaking the silence, Victor asked, “What do you think? Do you like it?”

“I love him,” Yuri in amazement as the feline starting licking one of his fingers. “Can I really keep him? Is he really mine?”

“Of course. He’s all yours, Yuri. Do you have a name picked out?” Victor asked curiously. He knew his son had been waiting for a cat for years and it wouldn’t surprise him to have a name he was particularly fond of.

“I had a few I was thinking about, but…” Yuri drew out the last word as he lifted the kitten to his face and realized, “They don’t really fit him.”

“What do you mean?” Victor asked perplexed.

“He reminds me of Yakov,” Yuri explained. “He has an angry face, especially when I lift him up, and I can imagine him yelling and shouting but he’s still very soft.”

“When have you heard Yakov yelling?” Victor asked with a chuckle. “You’re the only person I’ve never heard him be angry with.”

“I was talking about you, Papa,” Yuri said still in deep thought. In the end he decided, “I’m going to name him Mini Yakov. We can call him Mini too, but his full name is going to be Mini Yakov.” Finally looking away from the kitten to see his father, Yuri asked, “Do you like it?”

“I love it, Yurio.” Reaching over to show Yuri the perfect spot between the ears and the right about of pressure to use, Victor assured him, “I think Yakov will love it too. He’s always wanted to have something named after him.”

“Go get your phone,” Yuri practically ordered once he had the confirmation. “I want to show everyone Mini and see what they think.”

Happy to see his son light up after weeks of feeling down, Victor promised, “Anything you want, Yuri. Anything you want.”

YoI Snapshots 3: Impressions II

Despite what Yuuri and Victor had expected a few months ago, the ice rink was packed to the rim with an excited crowd. It seemed like word had gotten out that Victor and Yuuri’s son would be making his debut today and now everyone who was even marginally interested in skating wanted to know how he was going to do. From their position on the sideline Victor could even see that some people were here hoping Yuri would fail, he was just lucky Yuri wasn’t old enough to understand what the rude words and intentions on the posters meant. He had never thought he could want to assault someone as much as he wanted to do now, but his sense told him to find an employee to remove the offending signs and people before too many people got wind of the controversy.

The stress of the large crowd seemed to work a number on Yuri too because what had only a few hours ago been excitement at showing everyone his tiger suit was now fear that he might trip up and embarrass himself. He had wanted to mimic the exercises he’d seen his father’s do before their big performances, but Yuuri was able to calm him down enough to simply lay down in the locker room and warm up his muscles.

Looking back at him from their position by the wall, Yuuri leaned into Victor and asked, “Do you think we should make the program a little easier. It’s probably harder than anything the other kids are going to do and if we change the last combination it would be easier on his stamina.”

Although Victor had the same concern, he shook his head and explained, “He’s going to freak out even more if he thinks we don’t think he can do his program. It’s going to sike him out and cause him to break down on the ice.”

“So then what should we do?” Yuuri asked anxiously. “I don’t like seeing him this stressed over something he knows like the back of his hand.”

“He did fine on the warm up,” Victor said optimistically. “He landed all of his jumps and the under rotation was mostly because he was trying to find us by the sideline. If he stays focused we shouldn’t have a problem.”

Yuuri shook his head and countered, “There was hardly anyone else there during the warm up. It’s the people freaking him out and unless we can somehow convince everyone to leave he’s going to be scared.” He nervously added, “He’s also had a problem with under rotation every practice this past week.”

“Should we pretend not to notice that everyone’s looking at him?” Victor asked. “If he asks we can say they think his outfit’s the cutest one here.”

Looking around Yuuri had to admit, “It really is. Most of the people here are pretty forgettable and the ears and whiskers really pull it all in together.”

“Do you think we made a mistake not letting him wear the paws on his hands?” Victor asked comparing the images in his head.

“Nope,” Yuuri said with certainty. “That would have made him look gimmicky and over the top. This is a good medium where he looks cute and has the talent to back it up.”

Not wanting to leave his son to worry on his own, Victor decided, “We can get Makkachin to go over and show him a lot of love. That always calmed me down when I was worried.”

It only took a signal from Yuuri for Makkachin to get the point. He had been worried about his youngest owner to and once he had permission he immediately leaped past everyone else and tackled Yuri until he submitted to his kissed. Yuri tried to swat Makkachin away from him, but it obvious he enjoyed the support. Still, once he saw his parents coming closer to investigate he complained, “He’s bothering me and I can’t concentrate. I can’t finish my stretches with him on top of me.”

Victor leaned down beside him and assured him, “You don’t need to finish, kiddo. You’ve already done them all once and you’re going to win to matter what.”

“How much longer do I have?” He didn’t know if he wanted more or less time, but he needed to know something.

Yuuri peaked out to see what number they were at now and said, “Three more people have to go before you. You have at least fifteen minutes.”

Nodding along, Yuri decided, “I can do my jumps over. They might help later.”

“Actually, I think you should do out to the rink and watch the others perform.” At the curious looks from his family Victor explained, “It will show you how much better you are than everyone else.”

Yuuri seemed to agree and said, “You’re going to do great, Yurio.” The use of the nickname bothered Yuri, but it did it’s job of distracting Yuri into think about something other than his stress. It only took an outreaching hand from Victor to convince him to leave the locker room and see the routines from the competition.

To his surprise there was nothing near as technical as the program his parents had made for him. Most of the other performances only involved two jumps, little to no combinations, and not a single one was completed with no mistakes. Victor had that verified by a few of the employees and it immediately calmed Yuri down to the point he was practically a limp cat in Yuuri’s arms. It was only when the last skater before him went on the ice he frantically began to ask, “What if the music is wrong? What if my ears fall off and I trip on them? What if they don’t like it?”

“They’re going to love you.” Seeing their couch out of the corner of his eye, Yuri added, “If even Yakov liked what your program there’s no way you won’t completely win over everyone in the arena.”

At one point they had to let him on the ground and Yuri immediately began jumping in place to warm up his legs. For all he knew the smallest incremental change could be the difference between a gold or silver. It was only when the skater in front of him fell down that his spirits lightened up enough for him to feel optimistic. He gave her a small smile as she got off the ice and went to her family before the score was announced, but smiled confidently to his parents.

Leaning up close so someone might not hear, Yuri whispered, “I think I’m going to be fine. If everyone was like that then I’ll be fine, even if I do mess up.”

“The good thing is you aren’t going to mess up. You’re going to do great and everyone here is going to know just how good of a skater you are.”

They announced the score, it was a respectable 72.45, and it lifted Yuri’s spirit enough to know he’d do fine. It only increased when he heard that she was ranked third and only 7 points behind the person ranked first. As long as he performed as well as he had in the warm up he had first place locked.

The announcer called out Yuri’s name and he took a final hug from both of his parents before skating onto the ice and giving a polite smile to the judges. He took a deep breath and shook off his nerves like his Papa had taught him and prepared for the music to start.

Victor had decided they could use the song “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” considering it was traditional enough to not shock the judges and relevant enough to Lion King to not bother Yuri. It took a few seconds for people to catch onto what the song was, most of the other music was popular contemporary song and no one had expected a love song from a 90s animated Disney movie, and the happy faces from the crowd spurred him onto his first combination. It wasn’t like any of the combinations his fathers’ performed in their routines, an impressive jump and spin before moving onto the exciting footwork that was Yuri’s favorite part. His dad had come up with something that actually reminded him of a big cat and he pranced around the rink imagining he was actually in the jungle with the cheer of the crowd spurring him on. As the melody picked up he knew he had to move onto the second combination, it was the only one with three jumps, and the crowd cheering on when he landed everything almost perfectly. It took a few moments for him to remember that he had to finish the rest of the song instead of basking in the feeling of everyone clapping for him and when he finally got back on track he was a few seconds behind the music. He rushed past the rest of the footwork, he hoped the judges didn’t notice and thought it was meant to be more difficult, and he had thought he covered for the mistake until he saw his parents looking cautious behind the barrier. Suddenly all the more cautious, Yuri decided to make up for the mistake by changing his last combination to something harder. Instead of a single jump, Yuri decided he could add another spin. He wasn’t completely sure he could land it, the last jump was challenging enough for his stamina, but if he did he knew it would make up for any mistake he had made.

The jump was almost perfect, in the moment of clarity he had he could tell everyone was excited, and the slight under rotation was probably not noticeable to anyone other than him and his parents. Yuri debated not adding on the final spin, but as soon as his feet touched the ice he was in the air again. Only this time instead of landing on his skates he landed on the side of his leg and screamed out in pain.

Yuri couldn’t tell from his position on the ice, but as soon as Victor and Yuuri saw the failed landing they were leaping over the barrier and running on the ice. It took them a moment to get used to the feel of ice under their regular shoes, Victor even needed to use his hand to keep from falling on his ass, but soon enough they were beside Yuri asking him in unison, “What hurts? Do you think you broke something?”

Through tears Yuri reached out for Yuuri to hold him and motioned to his landing leg. “I think I broke my foot. It really hurts, really, really hurts, and I can’t get up.”

Victor was ready to carry Yuri to the medic tent, but before he could move a muscle a medic slid down beside him and asked, “Where does it hurt?”

Pointing again to the same foot, Yuri repeated, “I think I broke it,” before letting the medic mess with it while he focused on his parents.

He didn’t do much, only pressed on the wound from outside the shakes and asked some questions before smiling at Yuri and saying, “I doesn’t look broken. You probably only twisted it and after couple weeks in bed you should be perfectly fine.”

The medic was about to carry Yuri, but he clung onto Yuuri tight enough that no one dared trying to remove him. Before they got up from their position on the ice, Victor took his jacket off and draped it over his family to keep any wayward cameras from catching a glimpse of Yuri’s face covered in tears. He knew the last thing Yuri wanted was to see a clip of him crying all over the news for the next couple of days.

From what Victor could tell leaving the rink, Yakov had also made sure no press came near them as they exited through a tunnel and followed the medic back to the infirmary. For a moment Yuuri was about to ask if Yuri would rather sit on the gurney, but the white knuckles holding onto his jacket told him to dismiss the question. Instead he tightened his hold on his son, hoping it would calm him down, while Victor ran a hand through his hair and whispered soft praises in his ear.

The doctor in the infirmary was prepared for them and calmly instructed Yuuri, “Please place him on the bed and we can see how bad the problem is.”

This time Yuuri and Victor took their place on either of Yuri’s sides and held onto their hands while they tried to coach him through some breathing to calm his nerves. The doctor was confused for a second, but one strong look from Victor was enough to know not to question anything.

Instead, she pulled a stool out from under her desk and rolled over in front of Yuri before asking, “Can you tell me how much it hurts, Yuri? Scale from 1 to 10.”

“A million,” Yuri quietly wept out. He knew it wasn’t the right answer, but it was how he felt right now.

“Okay,” she said calmly, “I’m going to take off your shoes to see the injury.” Yuri cringed in preparation, but to his surprise she took off the skate from the uninjured foot. He didn’t know why, but feeling the skate come off made the ordeal seem easier and it didn’t seem like that much of a struggle anymore. On the injured foot she took some more time and made sure to loosen the laces as much as possible. Once she had created as large of an opening as she could, the doctor slowly removed the shoe with the least amount of force as possible. After placing the shoe to the side, the doctor went back to the desk and pulled out a pair of scissors before returning to her first position. Seeing the concerned look on Yuri’s face, she assured him, “I’m just going to cut off the sock. It’s going to hurt a lot less than if I used my hand and pulled it off.”

After getting an affirmation from his parents, Yuri held out his foot a little closer to the doctor as his signal to move along with the procedure. She took her time cutting it off, she didn’t want to accidentally pierce the wound, and when the scrapes of the sock were on the ground she silently examined the swelling.

Turning the foot over in her hand, she warned, “I’m going to examine the swelling and it might hurt, okay? You might want to hold onto your fathers’ hands to have something to hold onto.”

Following orders, Yuri squealed at the touch but was able to put it out of his mind long enough to focus on anything else. Happily for him the doctor didn’t spend a lot of time looking it over and quickly placed it down before explaining, “I doesn’t look like anything is broken, but we’ll do an x ray just to be sure. If I’m right I can wrap this up and you can leave soon.”

“Do x rays hurt?” Yuri asked cautiously. “Do they hurt more than you touching my foot?”

“No,” she said smiling. “It’s just like taking a picture, but this one goes all the way down to your bone. You can see what your foot looks like under all the skin and muscle when we’re done.”

After getting a quick confirmation from his parents, Yuri nodded and lit up seeing one of the assistants rolling in the wheelchair. “Can I roll myself around?” he asked excitedly.

“Not yet, but we’ll take you to the room where we do the x rays and when we see the results we know what to do.”

Once they were alone in the room, Victor turned to Yuuri and asked, “Is it bad that I want to know the score?”

Shaking his head, Yuuri suggested, “It might be the only thing that makes him feel better right now. I want to sprint up to the arena and see how everything is going. All things considered, the program went pretty great if we forget the last few seconds.”

“I still don’t understand why he added that spin though,” Victor sighed. “His program had been perfect up until then. Even if he didn’t do any of his jumps he would have landed on the podium.”

Not paying attention to his husband, Yuuri realized, “Yakov probably knows the score, but I don’t want to leave and have Yuri find the room empty.”

Victor tried to think of someway to find the results, his phone was god knows where and he didn’t want to waste too much looking hunting down a recognizable face, but an opportunity showed itself as soon as someone walked past the door. He leaped out the room and said, “I want you to go and find Yakov Feltsman and have him come down here. If he groans, say Victor and Yuuri want him here.”

He quickly returned to his seat beside Yuuri and said, “We probably won’t have to wait long.”

While they waited, the couple quickly deliberated on what they thought the score might be, Yuuri more optimistic than Victor, and were able to settle on a 5 point range between 82 and 87. Before they could make any adjustments, Yakov rushed in and asked, “How is he? Does he need surgery?”

Knowing how worried Yakov could get even when he didn’t like to show it, Victor enveloped Yakov in a hug and assured him, “He’s going to be fine. They think it was just a twist and he should be back on the ice in a few weeks.”

Yakov took a moment to take in the good news before breaking out of a hug and demanding, “Who decided to add a spin in the end? He could barely handle the last jump and someone added a spin?”

Looking between them, Yuuri assured him, “Neither of us did. We actually wanted him to lose the last jump, but we didn’t say anything because we knew it wouldn’t do him any good to change the program last minute.”

“Then it must have been a change he made.” Looking around the room and finding it empty, Yakov asked, “Where is he now?”

“Getting an x ray just to be sure nothing’s broken.”

Anxiously looking back at Victor, Yuuri asked, “How was the score?”

“86.79,” Yakov said proudly. “He’s in first right now and there are only a few people who still have to go up.” Thinking back to every other time one of his students had an injury, he added, “Yuri should be back in enough time to get his medal.”

Not having anything else to do, the three sat back in silent contemplation while they waited for the doctor to bring Yuri back in. The only reason it took longer than they had expected was because Yuri was trying to roll into the room all by himself. His tiny little arms didn’t have the energy to make it all the way, but for the sake of his pride the doctor was hiding the fact she was doing the pushing. Soon enough he was trying to maneuver himself through the doorway and once he was in the room he shouted excitedly, “Yakov! How did I do?”

The usually stoic coach leaned down towards the boy to ruffle his hair and assure him, “You did wonderfully. You’re in first place and no one else has even come close.”

Peeking out behind him, Yuri asked, “Did you hear that? Daddy? Papa? I’m in first!”

“That’s great kiddo,” they both said pretending not to have already known the information. Yuuri added, “Now you’re going to get your first gold medal ever.”

After letting the family have the moment, the doctor pulled out some gauze and explained to Yuri, “This is going to protect your ankle and keep it from getting hurt.” She sat him back on the bed and showed him a tube of salve. “This is going to help with the swelling and make you feel a lot better.”

By now Yuri was ready for the night to be over and nodded his understanding as he held out his foot in wait. “This isn’t going to take long, right? I have to go pick up my gold medal.”

“It’s just going to be a little longer than the x ray.” Warming up the salve in her hand, she softly began massaging it into the swelling and asked, “This doesn’t hurt, right?”

At the nod Yuri gave her in response, she finished up with the salve before wrapping the foot in gauze and explaining solemnly, “You’re going to need it wrapped up for a few weeks, but you still shouldn’t stake until it’s fully healed. You don’t want to hurt it again and make the problem worse.”

Only a few minutes later Yakov was pushing him up to the arena where the skaters who had finished were waiting for the medal announcement. There weren’t as many skaters as Yuri had expected, but he assumed some had left after receiving a low score.

Yakov and his fathers must have looked threatening enough from their position beside him because no one risked going anywhere near Yuri until the final score was announced and they had all the rankings. Just as everyone had expected Yuri was still ranked first in the competition, but rolling up closer to the ice he realized, “How do I get up there on the podium? It’s too high and I can’t stand up yet.”

Victor offered, “We can lift you up to the top, but you have to make sure not to move so you roll off.” Mentally doing the measurements, he decided, “There’s enough room to fit the chair at the top, but be careful.”

Motioning for Yakov and Yuuri to join him on the sides of the wheelchair, they slowly and carefully pushed Yuri onto the ice. As soon as they became visible to everyone in the arena there was a loud cheer, but considering they were still in their regular shoes the adults took slow steps before reaching the podium and lifting Yuri up to the top spot.

Before stepping away to give his son the moment to himself, Victor could see his flushed face and tears ready to drop. He quickly leaned in and whispered, “Remember to kiss the medal. There’s nothing in the world like it.”

YoI Snapshots 2: Impressions

Victor groaned from his position on the coach as he watched Yuuri and Yuri look over skating outfits online. They hadn’t moved from their seats in a few hours, had hardly done anything to increase Yuri’s skill in the rink in a month, and Victor was reaching his limit.

In the years since they had decided to continue their careers in Russia and started a family, Victor’s goals had expanded. He didn’t want to just be the best couple in figure skating, Victor wanted to have the best family anyone on ice had ever seen. Yuuri had the same ambitions, but he was willing to move slower in training their son. Looking at outfits online was what they considered preparing for Yuri’s first skating competition next month while Victor thought they should have been in the rink.

Although he could easily tell that Victor was annoyed, Yuuri made the decision to ignore the occasional furtive glances until Victor decided to start a legitimate conversation. In the end it only took a few minutes before the game show could no longer hold Victor’s attention and he turned to his family and asked, “Shouldn’t we be in the rink practicing skating? We’ve spent more time looking over outfits than we have coming up with a program.”

“You’ve been trying to come up with a program since you heard about the competition,” Yuuri countered. “You go as far as waking me up at night to see what I think about your new idea for footwork and what combination would be best to end with.” Pointing to something Victor couldn’t see but could tell by Yuri’s reaction he hated, Yuuri added, “Artistry is just as important as technique, Victor. We have to make sure Yuri looks as nice as he skates.”

Just to make a point, Victor turned to his son and asked, “Did you find something you like, Yuri?”

Taking the computer out of Yuuri’s lap to show Victor, Yuri pointed to one in the center of the screen and explained excitedly, “This one is my favorite. It looks just like a tiger. It has the stripes and tails and everything.” Victor couldn’t remember ever being as excited as Yuri as he added, “Daddy said we could even get my cat ears and use makeup to make it look like I’m a real tiger.”

Raising an eyebrow to his husband silently making the point that kids with cat ears and whiskers was not artistry, Victor diplomatically said, “That’s one thing we could do, but don’t you want to wear something more tradition like the outfits Daddy and I wear? The judges might not like this one.”

Yuri’s nose crinkled up at the suggestion and he stressed, “I want to be a cat, Papa. I want to dress up like a tiger and have the song from Lion King. This has some sparkles likes the ones you and Daddy wear. Is that good enough?”

There was a point he could make about the fact there weren’t any tigers in the Lion King, but he knew pedantics would be lost on his son. Instead, Victor tried to argue, “The judges aren’t going to like that, Yuri. They are going to think you look weird.”

“I don’t care what they like, Papa. I like cats and I want to be a cat.” As he ran back to Yuuri and pressed his face into his lap hoping he would come to his aid, Yuri repeated, “Cat, Papa. Cats!” just for good measure.

Knowing a losing battle when he saw one, especially when he was outnumbered with Yuri and Yuuri, Victor turned back to skating. Maybe if he could get Yuri to nail the program the judges would look past the untraditional debut. “If I let you be a cat can we start with the skating now.” Just to make sure he could get as much as possible from the situation, Victor added, “You’ve only gone through your program a few times and I think we can make it a little harder, too. You’ll be able to be a tiger the whole time if you want.”

Yuri looked up to Yuuri from his position on his lap for direction and when he got a nod he said, “Okay, we can start again, but I have to wear my ears so I know they won’t fall off. If they do we have to change it.”

Ready to leave as soon as possible, Victor stood up and grabbed Makkachin’s leach before instructing, “Yuri, grab your skates and cat ears and we can leave in fifteen minutes. We’re going to be there for a while so make sure to get a snack if you think you might want one later.”

Excited, Yuri lept up from his position on the floor and ran up to his room leaving his fathers to discuss the boring side of skating. He needed to be alone to contemplate whether or not including Makkachin in the performance would be going too far. They might be able to dress him up like a wolf and pretend like they’re fighting, maybe Scar from Lion King if Yuri could be Simba, but Yuri wasn’t sure how good of an actor the dog was. Makkachin mostly just did whatever he wanted.

As soon as they couldn’t see their son Victor turned to Yuuri and asked, “Why a cat? He could be anything he wanted to and he chose a cat. If he wanted to be a superhero or cowboy like a normal kid it wouldn’t be a deal, but I’ve seen a debut as a cat.” He walked over and his head on Yuuri’s shoulder as he lightheartedly complained, “You’re too easy on him, Yuuri. You let him get away with whatever he wants.”

“He’s four, Victor.” Thinking back to the past competitions Victor had had them rewatch on video repeatedly to gauge their competitions, Yuuri reminded him, “Most of the kids there aren’t going to be able to stay up straight and the ones who do are going to start crying as soon as they mess up.”

“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be focused on his program,” Victor stressed. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, especially with his wobbly jumps.”

Tilting his head to the side just far enough that Victor could see the amused look, Yuuri asked, “Remember what Yakov said when you showed him your first program? I just wish I had my phone with me because I’ve never seen him that freaked out.”

“This wouldn’t be the first time he was wrong,” Victor said smirking. “I seem to remember him saying a lot about me becoming your coach.”

“A four year old can’t do doubles, Victor. They can barely land when they jump and even then it’s mostly always shaky.” Yuuri was sure Victor couldn’t even do doubles at that age, but he didn’t want to challenge him on it and be proven wrong. One thing worse than an annoying Victor was a righteous one.

“Yuri isn’t most four year olds. He could do anything he wants on the ice, but he’s more focused on the cat costume. If he focused he could win.”

“And he can dress up like a cat and still win.” Repositioning them so they couldn’t avoid looking at one another, Yuuri said, “You and I both know that, you just don’t like that it’s too easy. You want a challenge to excite him.”

Victor sighed and said, “I guess it’s a good thing that he’s excited at the very least. He’ll care more about it now.” Suddenly inspired, Victor realized, “I might be able to get him to compromise on a solid black suit and say it’s a panther or jaguar, whichever one he likes the most. The music and makeup might be a problem, but if we keep the whiskers clean and thin enough they might not notice.”

“He’s still going to want a tail and ears,” Yuuri pointed out. “Maybe even a song from The Jungle Book instead of Lion King.” It always surprised Victor how cute Yuuri could look while he was breaking Victor’s heart.

Looking back to the laptop, Victor decided, “I guess a tiger might be cuter. If anything we can make Yuri the cutest kid they see and appeal to them from that direction.” Taking it as a new challenge, Victor decided, “When he’s done all the other parents there are going to wish he was their son.”

Happy enough that Victor was starting to enjoy the new direction, Yuuri reminded him, “I think you should focus on adapting your program from a song from the movie. If the step sequence doesn’t make him think of a tiger he’s not going to be impressed.”

Grabbing the keys to their car and mentally working over program that could win first, Victor groaned, “If he doesn’t win first I won’t be impressed.”

Yuuri laughed as he woke up Makkachin from his nap and said, “If he doesn’t make all the judges faint from excitement you won’t be impressed.”

YoI Snapshots 1: Last Chance

Huddled around one side of the rink, a group of skaters pointed towards Yuri and began chuckling among themselves. At first it started low whispers among themselves, but soon enough they forwent trying to hide their intentions.

“His hair is too long. He practically looks like a girl.”

“Did you see his skates? They look like he found them inside a dumpster.”

“I’m pretty sure my mom throughout that outfit last week.”

“He probably won’t be able to stand up straight when it’s his turn.”

Yuri didn’t want to say anything, but it wasn’t like he couldn’t hear what the other skaters were saying about him. They weren’t trying to be discrete, but he was thankful that his grandfather wasn’t close enough to overhear their rude remarks. He would have a hard time explaining their cruelty to someone as gentle as Nikolai.

Bored of the least creative group of kids he had ever heard, Yuri looked around the room to the other skaters lacing up their skates for the warm up. Just by looking at them he could see most of them were idiots that had no reason to think they deserved to be on the same ice as him, but he didn’t say anything for the sake of being humble.

There weren’t many people on the ice, nothing at all that was impressive, and Yuri’s eyes immediately landed on his grandfather as he began his stretches. They hadn’t been sure he would be able to make it to the tryouts, his health hadn’t been the best as of late, and even now Yuri could catch him sneaking coughs into his handkerchief no matter how hard he tried to hide them for Yuri’s sake. Nikolai always liked to say Yuri got his stubborn persistence from him, but Yuri’s primary concern was proving to Nikolai that his efforts in making the trek over had been worth it. He gave his grandfather an uncharacteristic smile as assurance that today would be a great day for them which Nikolai returned with sincerity before Yuri returned to focus on his skating.

Behind him someone else complained, “It’s too cold in here. My usual rink is warmer than this. It’s probably going to affect my skating.”

A few of the other skaters seemed to agree and some went further to complain about things such as the new outfits their parents had gotten them or that their skates weren’t tying up properly, but Yuri knew they were all just making excuses for any possible bad performance.

Yuri didn’t need to make excuses because he knew he was going to win even when he was going completely out of his element. His family could only afford a few hours of professional coaching in well maintained rinks so most of his practice usually took place on frozen lake near his home. Most of the year it was frozen over, Yuri wasn’t too sure how any life could survive in conditions that cold, but in the few months it wasn’t Yuri wasn’t above breaking into nearby rinks to practice after hours. It wasn’t like he needed anything other than his skates and ice to practice anyway.

Yuri knew this competition was important and forced himself to focus. It wasn’t always that the legendary coach Yakov Feltsman was prepared to another skater under his wing. One of his senior skaters was retiring after an amazing career and there was an opening for anyone Yakov thought worthy of it. This was an opportunity Yuri couldn’t let slip by, one he and his family quite literally couldn’t afford, and if he didn’t start to focus his dreams of becoming a professional skater were as good as done.

Breaking him out of his thought, a powerful voice called out, “Everyone get in line,” and the skaters rushed to follow his orders. They quickly assembled in the center of the rink, a few of the skaters definitely more confident than others, and pulled a number out of the bag one of Yakov’s assistants held in front of them. He explained, “This is the order you’ll be skating in. This is your only opportunity to impress me so make sure it’s worth my time. You will know directly after you skate if you will be accepted as my student.”

After Yakov left the ice to watch from the sideline the assistance asked, “Can everyone get off the ice so we have a chance to clean up before the first skater? Please line up in order so we can move faster, hand your music off to the person who will ask for it, and use this time to go to the restroom if you need to.”

As they began forming a line it was obvious to Yuri that the person in front wasn’t ready for the stress and fidgeted from foot to foot in anticipation. The people directly behind her were trying to be encouraging, but Yuri could tell they were just as nervous. It pleased him to see that some of the people the most nervous were the same as those you had been insulting him only a few minutes ago, but he knew it would do him no good to focus on their own failings.

Yuri was ready to trade spots with any of them, he wasn’t one to wait for his turn and as it stood he was second from last, but he didn’t want Yakov’s first impression of him to be one of insubordination. That would come after when Yuri became one of his students.

In Yuri’s opinion the first three people in line had had reason to be worried. Their music selection was horrible, annoying pop music that did not compliment their skating in any way, and their talent was only slightly above average, if that. Glancing back he could tell Yakov shared his opinion as he swiftly dismissed them from the rink and ushered the next person forward with little to no shown interest.

The only person of note was a somewhat talented boy, Yuri thought his name was Vlad from what his parents were saying, and so far he was the only one Yakov didn’t immediately dismiss from the room. He instead rushed to his parents as they beamed at his performance and offered him encouragement. The remaining parents were growing almost as anxious as their children as they saw just how many skaters Yakov was harshly dismissing, but turning to his grandfather Yuri could see that he looked as calm as other. His only worry seemed to be the pirozhki he was eating as he waited for his grandson to get on the stage.

Shaking his head to keep from getting distracted, Yuri did a few quick jumps to keep his body warmed up as the line became shorter and the ice rink became emptier. Most of the skaters’ programs were completely forgettable, all the money in the world couldn’t buy talent, and the only thing that eventually broke him out of his concentration was when a familiar face came rushing into the rink and towards Yakov. At first the guests thought it was some kind of emergency considering just how fast he was running, but in the end he simply stood beside his couch and asked, “This is the trials for the new skater, right? See anything interesting?”

Yakov sighed and said, “Not really, but there’s one I would be willing to settle for if necessary. There aren’t many skaters left and I’m not that hopeful we’ll see anything interesting.”

Now that he wasn’t moving, Yuri could tell why the face seemed so familiar. It was Victor Nikiforov, the only skater Yuri felt truly inspired by, and he must have felt Yuri’s gaze on him because he directed a kind smile his way soon after. It was a stark contrast to the atmosphere in the rest of the room, it felt like each student was going toward his or her execution, and Yuri immediately cast the other skater’s harsh words aside as he stood in the front of the line waiting for the next routine to start.

Even though Yuri was actually playing attention to the performance, it was just as forgettable as anything else he’d seen and he wasn’t surprised when Yakov dismissed him with the same harsh attitude he had given the other students. If anything he seemed even more annoyed being that there were only two skaters left and his chance of finding a student worthy was growing slimmer and slimmer.

Once the ice was clear and Yakov motioned Yuri forward, he took his place on the center of the ice and waited for the music to start. It was a smooth calming melody, incredibly different from the music others had played, and he immediately began moving into his step routine. It wasn’t too difficult, his grandfather had suggested he start off easy to get used to the stressful situation and calm his nerves, but he quickly went into an axel jump and quickly after a double axel. Harder footwork followed the double axel, it gave him enough time to gauge everyone’s reaction to his routine so far, and he could see that Yakov was interested but not excited. Victor looked slightly more interested, but he still didn’t think Yuri’s performance was quite that memorable.

Accordingly, Yuri went into his combination, a double lutz and double axel combination that was only slightly over rotated but one he landed firmly. It gave him enough time to look back to his grandfather watching him proudly and with a simple spin he could see Victor wearing a big smile.

As he entered the last third of his performance Yuri decided against the single flip and single axel his grandfather thought was a fitting end that wouldn’t challenge his stamina. Instead, he went for a double single combination before going into his combination spin. His landing wasn’t as firm as the previous one, but he quickly regained his balance before skating towards the center and using the last of his stamina in his spin. He extended one leg out for a few spins but as soon as the music began to wind down he pulled his arms and legs in to gain as much speed as possible while he ended the routine.

Yuri was sure he must have missed Yakov’s instructions as the blood continued to rush into his ear and he labored to catch his breath. When he finally mustered up the energy to look up he found Victor and the other assistant in the room clapping at the performance, Yuri thought it might have been the first time they did that but he wasn’t paying enough attention to be sure, while Yakov stood as still as ever. For a moment Yuri thought he might have been just like the other kids who had gone before him, too sure of his talent and mediocre to the trained and unbiased eye, but as soon as Yuri could stand up again Yakov instructed, “Ivan will take your information and brief you on some routine things. Be here again on Saturday and we’ll begin on your training.”

Still in disbelief, Yuri didn’t remember how but he managed to find his way to his grandfather and leap up at him in an excited embrace.

Nikolai easily returned the sentiment and whispered, “You did great, Yuri. I’m really proud of you.”

The two were stuck in their embrace until the assistant, he introduced himself as Ivan, asked, “Can we go somewhere and talk in private? This rink is going to be used for the junior practice in a few minutes and it will be easier to talk in one of the office rooms.”

They followed him quietly, there was still one more routine going on and Vlad was now worried about not getting the same response as Yuri, and they found themselves in a quant office and offered paperwork to look over. Ivan explained, “It’s all pretty standard and you can look it over in your free time and contact us if you have any questions, but I can give you a summary right now. You will join our training group and have regular meetings, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday for 3 hours. Once Yakov thinks you’re ready and have enough skill you will join the preteen league and compete as such. Competition will be held nationally and if you have the talent for it you will be competing all over the world. Do you have any questions right now?”

Cautious of Yuri’s growing excitement, Nikolai asked, “How much is this going to cost?”

Used to the question, Ivan said, “I can’t say for sure right now, but we are pretty good with financing. If you have any financial difficulty it’s taken into account in deciding how much we ask you to pay and so far no one has been turned away because of financial difficulty.”

Right on time, Yakov entered the room and added, “We want the best of the best, regardless of how much one might make.” He could see Yuri beaming up at him and added, “If you decide to join us, then you will be one of the greatest skaters in the world.”

Yuri smirked and said, “I can’t wait.”