We talk a lot about Yuuri having to reconcile his idea of Viktor with the real Viktor–that is, Yuuri has this flawless, wonderful ideal of Viktor in his head which has to sort of be cut down to fit the person that Viktor really is. Which is a healthy part of their relationship, and which I completely agree is something Yuuri has to face at some point during that first summer.
But I think there’s also something to be said about Yuuri realizing that some of the horrible things he’s heard about Viktor through the skating community grapevine are not so true.
Yuuri, despite what he says, is much closer to is idol than most people ever get. If Viktor is a movie star, Yuuri is the secondary character–he’s there, and a lot of people definitely know he’s there, and he knows enough people who also know Viktor for the gossip mill to really get churnin sometimes.
I also think that at the back of every person who has ever had a celebrity crush’s mind is a little voice saying, “Never meet your heroes,” and Yuuri Katsuki is terrified of that little voice, and it contributes to the distance he keeps from Viktor–because at some point, that much distance from someone you’re facing off against in international competitions has got to be just a little bit purposeful.
So cue Viktor coming into his life all of a sudden one day, and all Yuuri can think about are the terrible awful no good very bad things people have told him about Viktor and the kind of person Viktor is.
“Fuck Viktor Nikiforov,” an older skater had told him after Skate America, six glasses into a box of wine and bitter as hell about missing the podium. “No, really, fuck him. The Russians are paying off the ISU to keep him at the top. He isn’t even that talented. I hear–I hear he doesn’t even train. I hear he just shows up and fucking does whatever and they give him gold because he’s Viktor Nikiforov.”
“I…don’t think…” Yuuri frowned at his own glass of wine. “I mean…that couldn’t be true.” He glances at Phichit next to him. “Could it?”
“Sour grapes,” Phichit advises, and Yuuri isn’t as familiar with English idioms at that point, so he thinks Phichit is talking about the wine.
Yuuri mostly forgets about it, but somewhere in the back of his mind–he can’t stop thinking about it. He watches and rewatches Viktor’s old programs and wonders to himself if the reason he thinks they’re so good is because he’s watching them through rose-tinted glasses.
Yuuri and Phichit are suffering through finals and trying to survive through twenty-hour days of nothing but studying and skating. They lay themselves on the bleachers one afternoon while they’re supposed to be doing warm ups.
“What if I just quit school and became and underwater basket weaver,” Yuuri mumbles directly into the metal seat of the bleacher. “That would be fine, right?”
“WWVND,” Phichit replies. “What Would Viktor Nikiforov Do.”
“You’re right,” Yuuri sighs.
“Viktor Nikiforov is dumber than a box of rocks,” says of the other members of the club as she skates by. “You know he never even finished high school? I mean, what counts as high school in a country like Russia. The guy probably thinks two plus two equals borscht.”
“That’s not…” Yuuri smushes his nose against the bleacher. “Hey, that’s not…”
“FUCK OFF OLIVIA,” Phichit shrieks across the rink, and Celestino definitely hears. They have to do twenty minutes of line drills.
“What Would Viktor Nikiforov Do, right boys?” asks Olivia as she watches Yuuri try not to heave after Celestino finally releases them from their Sisyphean torture.
“I’m gonna fucking kill her,” Phichit says, and he sounds so deeply serious that Yuuri is sincerely worried.
Several weeks later, someone mentions Viktor within earshot of Phichit and he jokingly says, “Watch what you say, that’s Yuuri’s future husband you’re talking about,” and it sort of makes Yuuri want to hit him but mostly makes Yuuri blush.
“Really?” replies that someone. “I don’t know about that, Yuuri. I wouldn’t touch that guy with a thirty foot pole. He sleeps around. Probably has all kinds of nasty stuff going on down there.”
“Oh, whatever,” Phichit says, rolling his eyes. “Like you would know.”
Yuuri ducks his head back into his book and tries not to think about it.
These are the things that Yuuri holds in the back of his mind about Viktor, the worries that travel with him anywhere he has even the chance of encountering Viktor Nikiforov.
‘Never meet your heroes’ becomes something of the unspoken mantra of Yuuri’s life.
Then Viktor Nikiforov catapults himself straight into Yuuri’s lap, and Yuuri learns a few things.
Viktor trains. Viktor trains hard. Viktor has neglected everything but training and skating and satisfying his own frantic need to be the best for twenty years. Viktor Nikiforov is a lonely, sad bookworm with one friend and a gaping, yearning need to be touched–and he did not get to be where he is without making sacrifices.
Yuuri has never met anyone who made more sacrifices for this sport and this art than Viktor Nikiforov. It opens something up inside of him, throbbing and raw. It makes Yuuri want to take Viktor’s heart and shove it inside his own chest so that it never feels cold or lonely again. It makes him want to stand on the top of a tall building somewhere and scream fuck you to every person he’s encountered whose jealousy tried to convince him that this man was less than what he is.
And yes, Yuuri knows now that Viktor is forgetful and brutally honest and often doesn’t say the right thing at the right time.
He knows that Viktor is only ambidextrous in that he can use a fork with both hands and that it takes him twenty minutes in the morning to decide on a shirt to wear. He knows that Viktor Nikiforov is a blanket hog and that if Yuuri wants to wake up still covered in the morning, they have to have no less than three blankets on the bed at all times.
He knows that Viktor sometimes descends into these loops of manic energy where he wants to do everything and can’t sit still and in those moments, Yuuri wants to lock him in a room and leave him there until he starts making sense again.
He also knows that Viktor Nikiforov has the most genuinely beautiful soul that Yuuri has ever had the opportunity to touch. He knows that very few people in his life will ever love him like Viktor, and that he himself has never felt for anyone quite what he feels for this man. His man.
He knows these things and he thinks that maybe Viktor is perfect after all, perfect in his imperfection. Every jagged edge of his fits into one of Yuuri’s, and every curve of Yuuri’s lovingly presses flush with Viktor’s until they fit together seamlessly, like a pair of puzzle pieces.
Yuuri is also still a very petty person on the inside, though–which is why he makes posts on Instagram that read things like Viktor received his sixth well-deserved Russian National gold today! Congratulations to my amazing fiance.
So proud of my husband for all of his hard work commentating at the #Olympics. Some people go to school for half their lives and aren’t half as articulate as my Vitya. #Proudhubby
After that last one, Phichit leaves a voicemail on Yuuri’s phone that is literally just two whole minutes of him laughing hysterically and then wheezing, “THE SALT!” before hanging up.
“Yuuri, why did Phichit just sent me…sixteen crying laughing emojis and a text that says ‘your husband I can’t,’ in all caps?”
“Because a lot of people tried telling me you weren’t perfect and I’m proving them wrong,” Yuuri replies, not even looking up from his phone.
“Oh,” Viktor says, and literally crawls on top of him.
Yuuri supposes that the moral of the story is that the heart wants what the heart wants, and you have to find perfection in the imperfections–Viktor is loud and ditzy and forgets the English word for tomato on an almost daily basis, but he’s Yuuri’s husband. And because he’s Yuuri’s husband, he’s perfect.