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Someone wrote in
2017-01-21 10:38 am (UTC)
Re: Yuri P/Lilia Baranovskaya
"That's right, lift your arm higher," she instructs and she can't deny he's worth it: being faced with Yakov's pinched face, his bad teeth, and his constipated personality on a daily basis.
"Beautiful, now on to the bar!" she says, and he's learned the entire series of stretches already. He executes with fluidity, grace, determination, precision. He's the kind of student whose work ethic deserves yours.
She's learned things about him along the way: he's being raised by his grandpa, who is his only surviving relative; he was deeply hurt when Viktor left, and like most too young to know better acted out against the one that took him away. He dropped out of high school after grade eight, and he burned all his bridges--it is skating or bust now, and with his temperament, she's not too sure she wants to know what bust would look like. Just like he quit high school, she retires early from her job at the Bolshoi. All her colleagues think she is crazy. She tells them she's finally found a student worth teaching.
It doesn't make her protective. Liliya never wanted children, and she wasn't about to adopt any now, so she doesn't mother him, she respects him. Yuri calls her with her full name and he uses the second person plural to address her, so she thinks that he respects her, too.
She watches him breathe exactly right with his stretches, iron focus on his body. He's at the stage where he feels it, now: he self-corrects before she does. He's only fifteen, and he is already past discipline--he is in flow. He's past being a champion, or a medalist--he's art, and she hopes she'll be around to watch him grow.
After practice, they sometimes go to hers to eat. She's got the grandfather's number so she texts him with a pick-up time, and pictures him put on his thick-framed glasses at peer at his old-style Nokia, busted god knows how many years ago and currently held together with one of Yuri's hairbands. She knows he's glad she keeps Yuri out of trouble, and that he may never tell her, but any meal she feeds him helps. She's scolded Yakov into securing another sponsorship, and anything past that, she provides herself--track shoes, socks, ointment for his feet. She's a dancer; she understands what it took to get those calluses.
He turns sixteen and he enters the European Championship. Victor and his husband come to watch him perform. In spite of that, he gets silver. Victor hugs him, after, and her throat burns together with his.
He's not supposed to, but he's snuck booze from somewhere that night. He knocks at her hotel room door at ten thirty, drunk and in tears. "Please, Liliya Baranovskaya, I can't-- I can't watch it anymore, please, anything," and throws himself in her arms. She holds him and remembers--not only how deep a first love can go, but also how people love when they've got nothing to lose. She wants to tell him that it will be OK; that one day he'll move past Victor and find someone of his own, but she can't. It's not true, and she'd never lie to him. Oh, he'll find someone, allright--she's not naive, she knows he would have found someone
if he'd cared to--but whoever he is, Victor's shadow will be always between them.
She holds him and she pets his hair while he cries himself to sleep, then she puts him to bed and sleeps in the chair.
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