It is a week after the Grand Prix final and Yuri Plisetsky is terrified. This time last year he was preparing for his first season in the senior division, tracking down Viktor in Japan and forcing him to honor his promise. The result was a short program that beat the record Viktor had set and won him a gold medal, even if Viktor's piggy little protégé came within a fraction of a point of his score. It's a fantastic accomplishment, but there's just one little problem: what next?
Viktor told everyone he's coming back from retirement, though Yuri doesn't know how he's going to manage to compete while coaching his own competitor. And, while, Yuri is sure he could match Viktor with four more gold medal wins, there's no way he's going to try to match Viktor's unbelievable relationship with Yuuri (nor would he want to). Even setting that aside, four more gold medal wins is four more years of treading water, just maintaining his spot at the top. Yuri isn't sure he can afford to spend those years. In fact, he knows he can't. He spent his soul to win, after all, as Lilia said he would.
So. That soul's spent. But he learned things about himself during the season, things that make it impossible to tread water as the top male skater in the world. Things that turn that treading water into drowning. It started in Lilia's studio, dancing under her instruction, just like he was one of the girls that wanted to learn ballet from Russia's best teacher. That training fed into his skating program and powered him to his win. It was something he never would have gotten from Yakov. And it's what let Yuri realize something he'd been running away from without realizing it: He should have been a girl. He wanted to be a girl, in fact, even though as a girl he could never have really tested himself against Viktor.
It is with a bitter heart that Yuri considers her soul. Oh, she could go on, pretend she'd never figured it out. And her body would continue to mature and change. She'd have ten, maybe fifteen more years as a champion skater, a champion male skater, and then she'd retire, and find some way to repair her soul from what those years would do to it. Or she could retire now. She knows a little of what would happen if she started to change her body to what it should be. She'd lose strength, maybe lose stamina. She could be competitive for a season or two, but she would slip down the rankings and be quietly forgotten. She'd never be permitted to skate in the ladies' competition either, not even if her scores slipped to be mediocre by even those standards. It would be the end, and everyone would say she had only won because Viktor took the year off.
Well, so be it. She knows the truth about herself. She just has to make everyone else understand. She needs to skate a program that will be the culmination of all she could ever be as a skater, so there will be no need for her to do anything but retire.
It is two weeks after the Grand Prix and Yuri Plisetsky is still terrified. Viktor and Yuuri have come back to St. Petersburg to train for the season, though she has no idea how Viktor is finding time to practice, given all the time he's spending on Yuuri. She overheard them talking about Viktor's theme, though. He's going to show the world who he is now, after the year spent training the little piggy who huffed and puffed and blew everyone's expectations down. Yuri doesn't know what the piggy himself is going to try to skate, though she's heard more Greek words discussed; something about "arete"?
She has no idea what her own theme could be. She can't possibly skate any of the themes Yakov is coming up with, and she knows that's at least partly her fault for not telling him the truth, but she can't tell him just yet. She needs to tell someone, but not Yakov, not Lilia or Mila either. She could tell Viktor, but he wouldn't get it. There's a lot of things Viktor doesn't get, because they just don't matter to him. That's why he abandoned his career to coach Yuuri; that's why he begged Yakov to take over coaching on the eve of the Rostelecom Cup. Yuri knows this won't matter to Viktor, and she needs to tell someone for whom it will matter.
She's been distracted, lost in thought this whole practice session, and it takes her a few moments to realize everyone else has already left the ice. She's practiced jumps, pushed her stamina, but she's no closer to having a program figured out. And then, as she's leaving the ice, she hears Yuuri and Viktor talking about their programs, and all at once she has a realization. While everyone else finishes changing back into street clothes, Viktor has run ahead to get Makkachin, and she has a moment alone with Yuuri.
"Yuuri?" she says. No response. "Yuuri?" Still nothing; he's staring off into space in much the same way she supposed she must have done the entire practice. "Hey, porkchop!" she yells at him.
Yuuri blinks behind those glasses. "What?" He sounds defensive, like he's expecting her to kick a bathroom stall door again.
"Yuuri, I need—" she breaks off, breathes deeply, tells herself she can do this. "Yuuri, I need your help. I need you and Viktor to design my program."
Yuuri's expression rapidly cycles through surprise, fear, anger, and back to surprise again. "What? Why?"
This is it. She can stop here, pretend it's some kind of joke. Or she can tell him the truth. "There's something I need to tell you. Something… something I need to tell everyone. I need the whole world to understand who I really am."