"You're going to do great," Victor assured Yuuri as they walked toward the rink entrance.

"Why'd I have to draw first?" Yuuri mumbled sullenly, palm damp as his fingers twitched nervously against Victor's.

"Look at it this way, you'll be able to get it out of the way instead of waiting around for all of the other competitors to go," Victor replied as he held open the door and they tried to ignore the hushed whispers as they walked by. The small rink was packed to the brim with media and fans alike. It was as they'd expected, but somehow they never could've prepared themselves for the level of attention they received.

The world had been enthralled with the 45-second preview of Yuuri's short program that Victor had posted. The news outlets, bloggers, and fans of the sport wanted to see if Yuuri would soar to new heights or fall flat on his face.

"Everyone's staring at me," Yuuri hissed out once they'd reached the edge of the rink. "They probably think I'm a joke."

Victor glanced over Yuuri's shoulder, his gaze skimming across the competition. He took in the mix of awe-filled, anxious and excited expressions on the other skater's and coach's faces. Victor knew that they'd all seen the video online and had to be anticipating seeing this in person. However, he also knew that's not what Yuuri needed to hear at the moment.

"No, I'm quite sure they're all admiring how fantastic I look in this suit," Victor murmured teasingly in Yuuri's ear as he took his skate guards from him. The Omega didn't seem amused at his attempt at humor.

"Right…" Yuuri muttered, seemingly deep in thought as he readied himself to step out on to the ice.

"Skaters, you may begin your warm-up," the announcer's voice rang out through the rink.

"Well, as your coach, it's my job to send you out there feeling confident," Victor explained, trying to cheer Yuuri up with a bright smile. "I know it's been tough, but I truly believe that you-"

Victor's eyes widened in surprise as Yuuri skated out onto the ice before he'd finished his sentence. The Alpha frowned, arms crossing on his chest with a soft huff. It took only a few moments for his annoyance to fade as he felt the thrum of tension and anxiety through their bond.

He's so nervous. Oh, Yuuri, how can I help you through this?

Victor focused on feeling confident, self-assured…hoping that his pride and faith in Yuuri's abilities shone through their connection as well.

You can do this Yuuri. Believe in yourself, in all the hard work you've put in. I'm here with you, every step of the way.


I've got to focus. I can't let Victor down after all the effort we've made to get me ready. He gave up skating to be here, gave it up for me. His fists clenched, heart beating so hard it felt like it might break free.

I can do this. Yuuri let out a shuddering breath as he felt the tightness in his chest ease, a sense of warmth filling every inch of his body. He smiled slightly as he felt his mate's love wash any doubts away. Yuuri glanced over to where Victor was watching him and nodded in acknowledgment.

Thank you, Vitya. He thought as he continued his warm-up, body more relaxed and tingling with expectation rather than fear.

The announcement that the warm-up time was ending came all too soon and Yuuri found himself standing before Victor at the boards once more to hand him his jacket. Victor's gaze raked downward, taking in the form-fitting costume. It was an ombre wash of green hues that started as a pale pastel at the mandarin collar and deepened to a nearly black shade of green at the hems. A smattering of small crystals spread across the chest and shoulders; a small half skirt at Yuuri's hip rounded out the look. Yuuri loved that it paid a small, but meaningful homage to one of his favorite costumes Victor had worn when he'd won Junior World's so many years ago.

"Perfect," Victor smiled as he set the jacket aside and reached up to gently smooth a strand of hair from Yuuri's face, subtly brushing his wrist against the marked scent gland peeking out from the top of the collar. Yuuri blushed at the hint of arousal and possessiveness that thrummed across the bond from Victor.

"You're terrible," Yuuri laughed quietly, unable to keep from smiling as he reached for a tissue and wiped his nose.

"I can't help it. You look amazing in that costume," Victor grinned and shrugged unapologetically. "Now, go out there and skate just like you do in practice."

"Yeah," Yuuri beamed and pushed away from the edge of the rink, making his way out to the center of the ice. Just like in practice.

Three minutes later, Yuuri was breathing heavily, hand reaching to the sky in his ending position and wondering what had just happened as thundering applause filled his ears. He made his bows in a daze before heading to the side of the rink to meet Victor and receive his scores.

"Yuuri, that was great," Victor murmured, voice brimming with pride as he handed Yuuri his skate guards.

"I put a hand down on my salchow…and my triple on the second half of the combination turned into a double," Yuuri muttered as the whirlwind of his performance came rushing back and he began to criticize every detail. I need to work on my salchow…God, I'm never going to hear the end of this from Yuri.

"There's room for improvement, but it was a solid start for your first competition. Not to mention you're now the first Omega to officially land a quad in competition," Victor replied with a proud grin as Yuuri took a tissue from the box he held.

"And now the scores for Yuuri Katsuki," the announcer's voice boomed out across the rink. "Short program score, 90.36."

It was a great score and a new personal best. Yuuri felt pretty good about it until he heard the low growl Victor let out next to him.

"Victor?" He asked questioningly as the Alpha forced a smile on his face.

"They underscored you," Victor replied through gritted teeth. "Your score should've been closer to 95, at a minimum."

"Are you sure you're not biased, coach?" Yuuri responded quietly, doubt seeping in once more.

"No," Victor mumbled as he gave Yuuri a hug and led him out of the main rink area, away from the prying eyes, ears, and cameras of the press. As soon as they were alone, he turned to Yuuri with frustration in his gaze.

"Mark and I talked about the possibility of skewed scoring from the judges due to lingering conflict amongst them regarding an Omega competing. We'll take a look at the final scorecard once it's available. If they try it again tomorrow we'll take it up with the JSF and the ISU," Victor explained. Yuuri nodded in understanding.

"For the free skate, I'd like you to work on really refining the program and skating solidly," Victor seemed thoughtful as they found a bench and Yuuri sat down to change out of his skates. "It might be a good idea to lower the jump difficulty to-"


"It's a pretty common thing for skaters to do early in the season. This way you can gradually increase the difficulty and plan to peak at the Grand Prix Final," Victor assured him. Yuuri scowled and focused on removing his skates.

"If I don't give it everything I have now, I might not even make it to the final," Yuuri countered as he pulled on his sneakers. "And what would be the point then? I can't hold back…"

Victor sighed heavily and sat next to him.

"I know it feels that way. Let's see how you feel tomorrow and make a decision then?" Victor took Yuuri's hand and squeezed it.

"Okay," Yuuri said as he finished tying his shoes so they could head back to watch the other skaters perform.

At the end of the day, Yuuri found himself with the top score amongst the four senior division skaters heading into the free skate despite Victor's grumbling about Yuuri being underscored. They made their way from the rink to head back to the hotel for the night and were confronted by a barrage of reporters. Unfortunately, these were the ones that were not approved for media coverage within the rink, so they tended to be more aggressive in their efforts to snag a story.

"Yuuri! How do you feel about making history today with that quad?"

"Mr. Nikiforov! What do you think about your Omega's score?"

"Will you be attending Kin Kuromizu's trial while in Japan?"

Yuuri could feel the anger spark inside his mate at the reporter's question about the priest. It had been in the back of their minds the entire time, even though they'd both attempted to ignore it.

"The police have my husband's statement," Victor replied curtly as they kept walking toward the town car waiting for them at the curb. "There is no need for us to-"

"Don't you want to see justice served for your Omega? Don't you care about protecting him?" The reporter interrupted. Victor stopped dead in his tracks, turning around to face the reporter with a smile full of teeth, like a shark ready to snap up its prey. The crowd fell silent as Victor stepped toward the now nervous reporter.

"We trust that the legal system in Japan will do its part to ensure he's locked behind bars for a very long time," Victor finally replied, eyes narrowing at the Beta reporter. "Besides, I think the ass-kicking my mate gave Mr. Kuromizu was proof enough that Yuuri doesn't need my protection from the likes of him."

Yuuri's hand shook as he pulled Victor away from the stunned horde of media hounds so they could slip into the car.

"Please put the partition up," Yuuri asked the driver, trying not to let his voice waver. As soon as it was closed, he climbed into Victor's lap and wrapped his arms around the Alpha's neck to hold him close. He hoped that it would calm the roiling emotions that flittered between them on both sides of the connection they shared.

"I'm sorry, I just…" Victor finally whispered, voice trailing off as he tightened his grip on Yuuri's body. He buried his face in the Omega's neck and breathed deeply of his scent. Victor's shoulders relaxed as he let out a shuddering sigh against the skin of Yuuri's throat. "I promise, I'll do better next time and stay calm. I won't let them get to me."

"I thought you did just fine. Those reporters were jerks," Yuuri assured him before placing a gentle kiss on Victor's lips. "I love how protective you are, Vitya."

"Really?" Victor asked hopefully, running his hands along Yuuri's body. The Omega nodded and kissed him again.

"Yeah, really," Yuuri nuzzled his cheek, eyes closing as his mate's scent filled his consciousness, soothing any residual anxiety.

They arrived at the back entrance of the hotel without incident and the evening passed quietly as they enjoyed a marginally healthy meal from room service and ended the night falling asleep in one another's arms as they watched a movie together.


"Ready?" Victor asked as they walked into the rink the next day. Yuuri simply nodded. He'd felt wound tight since he'd woken that morning, the tension in his body was nearly a palpable thing as they made their way further inside. "Just remember, it's okay to change things and lower the difficulty if you feel you need to mid-program."


Warm up was rough, jumps shaky as anxiety bloomed in Yuuri's gut. The Omega went into the halls to stretch some more as the first skater started. Victor silently followed behind him and allowed Yuuri the quiet and space he needed to regain his peace of mind and focus.

I can do this. No one can take this away from me…not anymore. Yuuri thought with determination as he jogged in place to keep his body warm and limber until his performance began. I'm not the same person I was back then. Even if Victor wasn't here for me I'd fight back to ensure I could keep skating.

I'm stronger now. Yuuri felt his heart swell with joy at the realization. And I'll prove it at the Grand Prix Final, with a gold medal.

"Yuuri, it's time."

The Omega turned around to rejoin him. He felt steadied by Victor's presence at his side as the headed for the rink entrance. He glanced at Victor and felt excitement coursing through his veins. His Alpha paused at the door, leaning in for a brief kiss in the hallway as the current skater's music continued to play.

"You're going to be amazing," Victor murmured. Yuuri nodded, breathless as he saw the love that filled Victor's gaze. Yuuri licked his lips, taking in the familiar blend of Chanel lip balm and the taste of his mate on his tongue before he shrugged off his jacket and handed it to Victor.

"You look stunning," Victor muttered as he ran his fingertips along the zippers and seams of the long-sleeved black top Yuuri wore. Its deconstructed design fit close to his lithe form while still leaving a full range of motion for the skater. The uneven hemlines, with added strips and lengths of fabric, created a wonderful bit of extra movement as Yuuri skated. They'd paired the top with simple black pants to match.

"I still can't believe your costumer was able to knock this out in time," Yuuri replied happily, face growing warm under Victor's heated gaze. He shyly glanced away, but his attention was quickly drawn back to Victor as the Alpha touched his cheek with wide eyes and scented the air.

"Yuuri…" The Alpha mumbled worriedly as he brought his hands to the collar of Yuuri's top and leaned in closer, pulling back the fabric a bit and letting out a soft sound of surprise.

"Victor, what is it?" Yuuri asked, panic clear in his voice. "Is something wrong with my costume?"

"No, it's not that," Victor reached into the bag slung over his shoulder and pulled out two scent inhibiting patches they kept there in case of emergency.

"I think you're in pre-heat, moya lyubov," Victor explained as he peeled the backing of the patches away and quickly applied them to each gland before smoothing his collar back in place.

"What are you talking about?" Yuuri muttered in disbelief. "My heat doesn't start until next week…I've never had an early heat."

"It could be the stress or the change in your routine over the last couple of months, not to mention being mated now," Victor replied as he pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and patted gently at the sheen of sweat on Yuuri's brow. The last strains of the skater finishing up on the ice filled the air as the evidence of Yuuri's approaching heat grew all too clear. "Your body has changed considerably. You've put on more muscle, lost weight…"

"But you can't smell me, right? With the scent patches in place?" Yuuri asked as his hand instinctively moved to his throat.

"No, it was very subtle so far. I don't think anyone else would've noticed," Victor assured him. "Are you sure you feel up to competing? Maybe you should lower the jump difficulty-"

"Absolutely not," Yuuri replied firmly as he turned once more to head out to the rink. "I'm not letting this influence my skating…not anymore."

Somehow, he managed to make it through his free skate, even though he struggled through his jumps. He was thankful that he didn't fall completely, but he was still frustrated at the two-footed and wobbly landings sprinkled throughout the routine. Yuuri cursed his biology as he misjudged his last jumping pass and nearly slammed his face into the rink wall.

Just need to get through this last spin. Yuuri told himself. Then we can go to Hasetsu for my heat.

They'd already planned to do so anyway given the timing of his upcoming heat and the familiar comfort of the heat den at the rental house. Besides that, Yuuri had been concerned that it would raise questions if he went into heat in Russia where he was supposedly on suppressants. He didn't want to take a chance that anyone would discover they'd been giving them to Yuri. He was confident that in a small town like Hasetsu, no one would question what they were up to if they disappeared for a week.

Yuuri made his bows before quickly heading to the edge of the rink where Victor enveloped him in a hug. Yuuri knew without being told that his cheeks were bright pink as Victor gave his heated face a concerned once over.

"It's going to be okay," Victor assured him as he felt Yuuri's fear through the bond, terror mounting that he'd messed it all up. "Even with deductions on the jump elements, your base value is far higher than any of the other skaters."

"And now the scores for Yuuri Katsuki," the announcer's voice boomed out across the rink. "Free program score, 160.20. His combined score is 250.56. He is in first place."

"Still a bit underscored," Victor murmured thoughtfully as he pulled Yuuri close.

"I'll have to do better next time," Yuuri whispered, ignoring the sound of cameras clicking as the nearby reporters took their pictures. He buried his face against Victor's shoulder, thankful that he could blame his flushed cheeks on the performance he'd just completed.

"Your unwavering determination is inspiring," Victor chuckled as he leaned back to smile at him. "Let's get the ceremony and interviews out of the way so we can head home to Hasetsu."

"Yeah," Yuuri replied as a shiver of anticipation ran through his body, thinking of just what they'd be doing once they got there. "Let's go home."