Yuri on Ice, Skipped Stitch

Title: Skipped Stitch [Yuri/Otabek]
Rating/Warnings: PG
Summary: Renting an apartment together in St. Petersburg for the summer means that Yuri gets to learn all of Otabek’s quirks. The knitting is a surprise.
AN: Written for Shiritori, where despite being Team Captain I posted to the wrong team. NICE JOB. We decided on Twitter a couple days ago that Otabek surely knits to calm his nerves and I informed everyone what every knitter or crocheter knows: that if you make somebody who you’re dating a thing, and the relationship isn’t made to last, it totally ends right after that. Go ahead and laugh but it’s real. I’ve done it. Once you’ve done it once, you think really hard about doing it a second time. So here’s Otabek refusing to knit Yuri a thing for reasons. That I wrote in one sitting this afternoon rather than work on my grad school paper, fuck everything.

Skipped Stitch

The guy had some interesting quirks, Yuri had to admit after living with Otabek for a few weeks. Some of them weren’t that much of a surprise, like the borderline neurotic jogging schedule and his refusal to drink anything more caffeinated than black tea (even though Yuri had caught him secretly throwing back the last mouthful of Yuri’s coffee before washing the mug, so it wasn’t that he didn’t like it). The way Otabek just couldn’t leave dishes sitting in the apartment’s small sink was sheer pleasure because Yuri hated doing the dishes so much that he would let them stack up until they overflowed across the counter and he was eating yogurt out of a measuring cup with a fork.

The knitting was unexpected.

Yuri had known in some distant way that Otabek did knit ever since the beginning. When Yuri had commented on Otabek’s scarf in Barcelona, Otabek had replied without any embarrassment that he had made it himself. His mother had taught him, Otabek added much later over Skype, and he found it relaxing. Sometimes he mentioned making something for his mother or sister, and after a while Yuri could tell which sweaters were handmade versus store-bought. Yuri preferred the handmade ones, vocally, because they fit Otabek’s frame better instead of straining across his shoulders and hanging too loose over his waist or hips.

But the big reveal didn’t happen until two weeks after Otabek had arrived to stay the summer. It was long enough for them to settle into the start of a routine of runs, practices, meals, who sat where on the couch (Otabek on the reclining part to elevate his ankle) and who needed the shower first in the morning (always Yuri) and whether their bedtimes were incompatible (a little, but Otabek could sleep easily through Yuri’s soft tapping and grumbling at his phone). The excitement of being together had worn off a little, not in a bad way, just that they could make an entire meal without interrupting to make out about half the time, and Yuri had stopped startling every time Otabek put an unexpected hand on his waist or back or shoulder.

So they were at home for the evening, Otabek on the couch trying to watch at least ten minutes of the international news while Yuri was busy stretching on the floor. Both of them were still shower-damp and a little flushed from all but falling into bed as soon as they were home from practice (that part hadn’t lessened at all, but Yuri couldn’t help it that Otabek somehow smelled as appealing coming off the ice as he looked skating on it). So Yuri was not-so-secretly eyeing up his boyfriend while he reached past his toes and counted to twenty and breathed through the burn of it. Otabek made a more than good enough distraction, that was for sure.

Otabek was fidgeting, Yuri noticed. It made him hide a smile against his elbow because only Otabek fucking Altin could do hours of grueling athletic practice, come home to have a round of equally athletic sex, and still have energy to burn. And then Otabek looked up and noticed Yuri noticing him, and that tiny blush spread across his nose, the one that drove Yuri absolutely out of his mind. Fucking adorable, fuck this fucking guy. Yuri made a noise in his throat that he hoped Otabek would chalk up to the pain of stretching.

Otabek cleared his throat. “I have something to tell you.”

“Yeah?” Yuri asked. Otabek wasn’t looking at him squarely, fingers digging into the couch a little in a clear attempt to stop himself fidgeting. “Is it bad? You’re making a face.”

“N-no. No, it’s just.” Otabek stopped and the start of some actual anxiety crept into the center of Yuri’s chest. “I’ve been meaning to tell you…” Otabek made an irritated noise and pushed himself off the couch. “I’ll be right back.”

“Beka!” Yuri said, more alarmed, but he was already halfway across the room.

Sitting up out of his split, Yuri chewed his lip as Otabek retreated to the bedroom. The anxiety inflated slowly as he tried to figure out what, after all of the weird shit they had said and done over Skype in three years, he could possibly have a hard time saying to Yuri’s face. Was he regretting coming here for the whole summer? Was Yuri being too clingy? Did he snore?

Otabek was back before the anxiety balloon got too out of control, but some of it must have shown on his face because Otabek looked immediately apologetic as he sat on the floor next to Yuri. There was a large tote bag in his hands.

“It’s nothing bad,” Otabek assured quickly, reaching over to cup Yuri’s jaw, brushing over his cheekbone with his thumb. Yuri glared at him, eyes narrow. “Look, here.”

The tote bag was full of yarn. On top of the pile was a half-finished scarf with two knitting needles stuck through it.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Yuri huffed. “I know you knit!”

Otabek rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “Yeah. But you’ve never seen me do it. It’s not exactly cool.”

“As if you give the tiniest fuck about looking cool,” Yuri said, some of the jealousy leaking in because it was the very act of not giving a fuck about it that made him look so cool. Ugh. Otabek shrugged, awkward. “What? Why would I care about this even a little? And if it’s such a big thing, why haven’t I ever seen you do it? I’ve seen you for weeks at a time before this.”

“Usually when I’m with you my hands are full,” Otabek reminded, sneaking a pinch of Yuri’s waist. Yuri slapped his hand off, cheeks going pink just like Otabek’s nose. “It’s just…well, you want to cling and be cuddled when we’re on the couch, and I like that too!” Otabek hurried to add when Yuri opened his mouth. “But I can’t do this and that at the same time, obviously. So when I come to visit you, I don’t bring it on purpose. But two weeks is one thing and a whole summer is another.”

Yuri chewed on his lower lip a minute. “Yeah, okay, I get it. I mean it’s fine, obviously. Should I, you know, not interrupt you? When you’re…” Yuri wriggled an eyebrow. “Involved.”

“Yura!” Otabek snorted a laugh. “No, that’s fine. But a little warning would be nice, because see these loops here?” Otabek pointed to one of the small loops at the top of the wood knitting needle. Yuri nodded, and Otabek drew his finger down the bumpy line of the scarf. “If I drop a stitch it unravels the entire way down. And no batting at my yarn balls either.”

“I’ll do whatever I want to your balls and you’ll like it,” Yuri said, because clearly it needed to be said. He climbed into Otabek’s lap and let Otabek kiss away the last flickers of his anxiety, slowly and thoroughly, until Otabek was leaning back against the couch, both of them boneless and flushed. Yuri sighed when Otabek’s mouth moved down, just under his jaw. “Weren’t you going to knit or some gay shit?”

“This is gay enough for me at the moment, thanks,” Otabek murmured, lips to Yuri’s throat.

After that, Otabek had no shame at all about pulling the knitting out anywhere and everywhere. It turned out that when he said “a lot” he meant it, and he always had several projects going at once. The mostly-done sweater he kept at home, since it was awkward to lug it around, but the scarf came with them to Yuuri and Victor’s apartment for dinner, where Yuuri oohed over it and asked if Otabek gave lessons because somebody (Victor whined) had too much spare time on his hands in retirement. They went to the movies on a free afternoon and Yuri swore that Otabek knit an entire sock all at once.

“A whole sock!” Yuri was telling Mila the next day as they loitered around the edges of the rink, waiting for Yakov to notice and holler at them. He wasn’t sure whether he was proud or horrified by the sock thing, his voice kind of doing both. “He’s like a machine.”

“Yes, you might have called him that before,” Mila teased, cackling when Yuri punched her hard in the arm. “It’s sweet though, isn’t it? So domestic. Has he made you anything?”

“Eh?” Yuri blinked. He hadn’t thought about it like that at all. “No. What?”

“Really, nothing?” Mila hummed. “He’s your boyfriend, he should definitely make you something.”

“He gets me stuff all the time,” Yuri grumbled defensively, which was true. Little stuff like picking up a coffee or dinner, and better stuff sometimes like a shirt that matched Yuri’s eyes perfectly or the silver cufflinks studded with aquamarine for his birthday.

“That’s not the same as making you something!” Mila insisted.

“What do you know, hag?” Yuri said, skating off to join Otabek in his easy but perfectly measured warm up laps.

“Something up?” Otabek asked without breaking stride.

“Just Mila being a freak,” Yuri answered. He should have just asked about it right then, but Otabek reached for his hand and twirled him backwards, so that they were almost waltzing the next warm-up lap. Yuri was so flustered by the unusual PDA that he forgot about the other thing, occupied with Otabek’s fingers laced through his and his other hand warm on Yuri’s waist, and the delighted whooping of Victor and Mila echoing across the ice, almost drowning out Yakov’s shout that he was going to kill himself right on the ice if he had to put up with more than one couple at a time.

But then of course, Yuri kept worrying at the thought after that, quietly, for days. Why hadn’t Otabek ever made him anything? At first Yuri thought maybe it was the amount of time and effort involved, and the fact that he was already in the middle of projects for other people. But really Otabek was surprisingly prolific given the limited hours a week they were free and upright. One week they found out that the wife of one of the rink staff was expecting in the fall, and Yuri watched Otabek shake out a delicate pink and yellow baby blanket in less than two weeks.

He still could have just asked, which would have been sensible. Instead Yuri gradually developed the entirely unreasonable position that Otabek shouldn’t have to be asked to make him something, he should do it because he wanted to. He took to borrowing Otabek’s sweater and socks, hoping to get the hint across. Otabek seemed to like that a lot, but not in the way Yuri was trying for.

“You can keep that one if you like it so much,” Otabek said about the one Yuri wore the most often. It was too big on both of them but soft, a charcoal gray that made Yuri’s pale skin too much for Otabek to resist when it slipped off Yuri’s shoulder. Otabek pulled him close by the waist and mouthed along the edge of his collarbone where it just barely peeked above the sweater’s collar. “In fact I wouldn’t mind seeing you in nothing but this.”

“Your fiber arts kink is out of control,” Yuri complained, but they ended up in bed anyway, the sweater tugged out of harm’s way only at the last second.

The last straw, though, happened in Mid-July when the touring of one of the international Ice Shows brought a handful of the American and Canadian skaters into St. Petersburg for a few days. Victor insisted on throwing a dinner party, because that asshole really did have too much retirement time on his hands, and Yuri’s threats not to go were roundly ignored by his traitor boyfriend.

“Yura, get up,” Otabek said, fully dressed and looming over the bed, arms crossed. Yuri was starfished on his back in only his briefs, refusing to get dressed and loudly complaining that Otabek loved Jean-Jacques Leroy more than him “We both know you aren’t really jealous. Victor is going to kill me if I don’t have you there on time, so let’s go, already.”

“I’m not jealous of that maple-scented asshole!” Yuri replied. Sitting up so that he could be indignant more properly. Otabek yanked him to his feet and shoved his slacks into his arms. “I just hate the way he acts like you two are super tight from sleep-away camp or some shit. ‘Oh, Oats, remember the time we broke into the rink together?’ ‘I went to our favorite restaurant the other day, Beks, you remember the one!'”

Otabek tried and failed not to laugh at Yuri’s cruel impression of JJ’s over-friendly tone. “But we are friends, though.”

“Not like he thinks you are,” Yuri grumbled.

They were on time in the end, or nearly enough that Victor was willing to overlook it. Even Yuuri did nothing more threatening than give Yuri a push towards the makeshift bar that Phichit was monopolizing and warn him in a low, pleasant voice, “Play nice.”

“He learned to say that in Russian just to spite me,” Yuri complained, then downed a shot of vodka to hopefully loosen up a little. He’d learned from experience that Yuuri wasn’t fucking around during the dinner parties.

“Yes, it does sound more threatening than in English,” Otabek agreed, taking two large swallows of his rum and coke before demanding Phichit top it up with coke only, damn. “Also you broke one of his plates last time.”

“That barely happened.”

The drama didn’t happen until halfway through dinner, when suddenly JJ clapped his hands as if he’d just remembered where he’d left his keys.

“Beks!” he exclaimed, reaching across Leo to get Otabek’s attention. Yuri gritted his teeth because he hated it when JJ used that nickname for Otabek. “So the other week I was taking the last of my university stuff out of my parents’ attic, and do you know what I found?”

“Your brain?” Yuri muttered. Otabek jabbed him in the side hard enough to shut up him but too fast for anyone else to see.

“What?” he asked gamely.

“The scarf you made me!” JJ exclaimed. Yuri whipped his head up towards Otabek, mouth hanging slightly open and Otabek’s own face was locked in the vaguely pleasant expression he’d been wearing all night. Everything seemed frozen except for JJ, still carrying on all on his own. “Do you remember? I had forgotten how hideous it was, but that wasn’t your fault! Who ever decided to make university colors orange and purple, I’ll never know…”

“Yura,” Otabek said urgently.

“Don’t even,” Yuri hissed, looking away before he said or did something that would make Yuuri ban him from their dinner parties forever. He stood up, suddenly enough that his water glass rattled. “Phichit, get over here and make me another drink!”

“Obviously!” Phichit called in glee, scrambling up from his spot beside Yuuri. Yuuri raised an eyebrow at Yuri, but Yuri shook his head and turned to follow Phichit. Phichit was hollering back at Leo, “Leo what was that thing you and Guanghong came up with?”

“He called it a Harbin Hummer,” Leo called back.

“Not that, I meant the drink!” Phichit said, just to make everyone crack up and Leo’s face turn beet red. Everyone distracted, Phichit turned to Yuri and said lightly, “You look like you could use something sweet and strong, right? I’m never wrong.”

Yuri came back to the table with an electric green drink that tasted like a sour apple hard candy. It was the only thing that made it possible for him to curtly tell Otabek, “Not until home,” and then set it aside for the rest of the night.

They were barely in the door when Otabek was asking in a low, apologetic voice if they could talk about it now. Yuri shut his eyes for a long second and thought very hard about saying no, just because he was reasonably drunk on green apple thingy and so it was only Otabek who would suffer until morning. Then he heaved a sigh and turned around to give Otabek his best narrow-eyed look, hands on his hips.

“It was before I even knew you,” Otabek started. “It was just—”

“Stop it,” Yuri cut him off. “You know I don’t give a fuck about that. What I don’t get is why you’ve been here for two months and everybody we know has something from you, including that quad toe boob’s heinous scarf, while you haven’t knitted me, your actual boyfriend, so much as a hair tie.”

Otabek’s shoulders slumped somehow lower. He wasn’t looking Yuri in the eye. “It’s hard to explain.”

“Yeah, it seems like it is!” Yuri turned on his heel. “I’m taking a shower.”

He made himself sit up and stay awake while Otabek took his turn in the shower, until Otabek climbed gingerly into bed as if Yuri was a bomb that might go off at any moment. Yuri rolled over on his side, facing away from Otabek as Otabek clicked off the light, but then reached back to tug Otabek’s arm over his waist. Otabek shuffled forward into the spoon immediately, hugging Yuri snugly to his chest.

“I’m not mad at you,” Yuri said, just to clarify. “I’m just irritated that it’s no big deal with you for everybody else but not me. It’s not the dumb thing I want, it’s that I want you to want to make it for me.” He cuts himself off from rambling at that point, because clearly he’s still too drunk to make Otabek get what his problem is.

“I do want to,” Otabek murmured against Yuri’s shoulder. “We can go get stuff for it tomorrow? I want to. I’ll make you anything you want. All you had to do was ask.”

I wanted to not have to ask, Yuri thought, but he bit down on it and went to sleep instead before he started an actual fight.

In the morning they were both pretty miserable, but Yuri agreed to go with Otabek to the craft store anyway, bribed by the promise of hot, sweet coffee from the overpriced place on the corner. Yuri didn’t know anything about yarn, other than what he’d seen Otabek stashing around the apartment, so he was vaguely amazed by the dozens of colors and textures. Otabek watched in cautious amusement as Yuri trailed fingers over the bins in a vague, hungover way.

“Do you know what you want me to make?” Otabek asked. Yuri shook his head; he hadn’t gotten that far and stringing two thoughts together was difficult after only half his coffee. “I was thinking…maybe leg warmers?”

“Oh,” Yuri said. “Yeah, that’s. Yeah.” He chose the colors, black and bright pink that reminded both of them of Yuri’s free skate costume from his first senior Grand Prix, the black shot through with a string of silver tinsel so that they would be just obnoxious enough to satisfy even a professional figure skater so inured to glitter and rhinestones. At home they took apart a threadbare pair of Yuri’s old leg warmers so that Otabek could measure and estimate the fit.

“I’ve never made these before,” Otabek warned when he was starting, later that night. Yuri shrugged a shoulder; he was supposed to be watching the action movie that he’d argued loudly was so preferable to the news, but mostly he was watching Otabek knit, cheek against Otabek’s shoulder. It seemed like magic to him, how Otabek’s hands could coax string into the shape of a real object with nothing but steady rhythm.

Otabek unraveled the first two attempts, but seemed satisfied enough with the third to produce its mate. He’d finished the project in secret somehow, while Yuri was doing a round of promotions with Victor. When Yuri returned home, cranky from too many people and questions, Otabek presented him with the leg warmers, thick stripes of pink and black, soft and warm against Yuri’s hands.

Or at least, he held them out. Otabek didn’t let go even when Yuri tugged a little.

“Look, there’s a…thing,” Otabek said. His eyes were glued somewhere around Yuri’s shoulder, only flicking up to meet Yuri’s gaze briefly before dropping back down. “About knitting.”

“Oh, now you want to explain?” Yuri asked in some exasperation. “Let go of my present, you.”

Otabek didn’t let go, but he did manage to look Yuri in the eye and keep it there. “If you’re dating somebody and you make them a thing, if it isn’t made to last they break up with you right after. If it’s, you know, not meant to be.”

Yuri blinked. “What? Beka, come on.”

“It’s like a terrible magic trick,” Otabek said. “Mom told me when she taught me, and I’m sure I looked at her like you’re looking at me, but it’s real, trust me. Or call my sister, if you want. She’s engaged and still won’t make the poor guy a scarf. So I wanted to, but.”

“But…” Yuri frowned, searching Otabek’s face. He felt stung, somehow. “You don’t think this is made to last? Beka—”

No,” Otabek interrupted, bringing Yuri up short because Otabek never interrupted. “I do, that’s the thing. I really do think this is meant to be, I want it to be, so much. But it always feels like that when you’re in the middle of it, so you can’t be sure. I thought, if I was going to wreck everything, I couldn’t bear it if I wrecked it this summer.” Otabek stopped, and when Yuri didn’t answer right away, he added, “I know it sounds silly. Please say something.”

“What,” Yuri took a deep breath, “absolute fucking moron broke up with you right after you handmade them something awesome?”

Otabek smiled the tiniest, relieved smile, and it was so beautiful it nearly tore Yuri’s heart right in half. “How do you know it was something awesome?”

“I guess I don’t, because you won’t fucking let go of my present.” Yuri grinned, finally yanking the leg warmers free and clutching them possessively to his chest. “I can’t believe you just made me have a serious relationship talk over knitting, you fucking dweeb. Like, listen, if one of us is going to fuck this shit up, there’s literally no universe in which it’s you.”

Otabek rolled his eyes, looking fond but pained. “Are you trying to reassure me? You’re quite terrible at it. Do I even get a kiss for all this effort? I made those by hand, you know.”

“Get over here, you giant baby,” Yuri said, pulling Otabek in for a kiss that started out firm and ended up messy, his leg warmers still clutched half-forgotten in his hand behind Otabek’s back as Otabek pushed him up against the wall. “Hey,” Yuri said, making Otabek pull back just far enough to look at him. Yuri wanted to drown in the dark of his eyes. “I meant it. I totally think this is made to last.”

“Hope so,” Otabek said, brushing his nose against Yuri’s. “Because there’s no choice now but to try it and see.”

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