What You Don’t Know
Every day is spent feeling Yuuri out,
fitting them together in a way that doesn’t destroy who either of them is as a
person. Viktor loves that they fit this way; loves that he has sharp edges and
awkward corners and that Yuuri still folds around them, that together they
Yuuri continually surprises Viktor, but Hiroko is another matter entirely.
Yuuri is forbidden from watching his competitors, at least in the few days before Rostelecom. This doesn’t mean that Viktor can’t watch—so after Yuuri’s disappeared to his room to briefly recharge, Viktor settles to watch a recording of the Trophee de France. Hiroko bustles around him, wiping away the last remnants of the dinner rush and clearing bottles of sake. He offers to help, but she shakes her head and hums her disagreement. Viktor’s still not sure how much English she knows. Viktor’s still not sure how much Japanese he knows, in Hasetsu’s dialect. There are times when she beams and nods and chatters to him slowly, clearly, and there are other times where she falls silent, smile warm but vague.
Viktor has long suspected that it isn’t just a language barrier. There is private, and then there are the Katsukis.
Still, the onsen is quiet, devoid of guests except one tipsy gentleman that is already snoring softly into the table he sits at. Viktor pats the ground beside him. “Mama?” Mama, a word Hiroko had insisted he use and one he’s taken gross advantage of ever since. She kneels, lays a hand atop his.
“It’s late, Vicchan. Late for you.”
“I’m on the free skate,” he explains, “just a little more time.”
She glances at the screen, and Viktor can only imagine what her inexperienced eye sees. A man, in a sparkling outfit, moving from a nameless spin into a jump whose rotations she probably doesn’t realize to count. ‘Somehow, the Katsukis don’t know anything about figure skating!’ The triplets had declared. Viktor will adjust. “Good music, isn’t it, Mama?”
Hiroko huffs, breath slight. “Doesn’t matter,” she declares, “if he wants to beat my Yuuri, he’ll need better base value than that, especially with his GOEs. Ah, but he’s young, so his mistake on the takeoff of the triple axel is…” she gestures, small and soft hand incapable of grabbing the word in English. She settles, finally, on a different word. “Normal? Yuuri did the same. Hm. This boy, though, they overscore his transitions and choreography.”
Viktor is too elegant to gape, or so he had always thought. “Mama,” he says, slowly, “have you been studying figure skating this season?” Mari has only now found her interest—perhaps it’s spread to her parents, as well.
Rather than answer, Hiroko stands. “My son doesn’t like pressure, Vicchan. Yuuri works very hard. We support him, but we must be careful, yes?”
Viktor had assumed that the onsen and Yuuri’s family, in all their unconditional love, was an accidental haven for Yuuri. If Yuuri can be a dime-a-dozen skater—if Yuuri can be a man not under the tremendous pressure that comes with world records and being one of the best six skaters in the nation, Yuuri can begin to cope.
Yuuri needs someone to believe in him, and trust him, without expectation. If Yuuri can be a man who returns home to parents who aren’t invested in, don’t understand, the world of skating…
“Careful,” Hiroko repeats, Hiroko who is not even supposed to know the first thing about skating, “yes?”
Oh, Viktor is always a stroke behind, when it comes to anyone named Katsuki. They know their beloved Yuuri so well. They know his sport, too.
“Yes. Thank you, Mama.”
“You are a good son,” says Hiroko before she shuffles off. Viktor gives up on the Trophee de France, and finds himself at Yuuri’s door. Let us love you.
At the sight of him Yuuri lights up, quiet and bright, and he holds out his arms.