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Sweet on You

Chapter Text

People came from all over to visit the small but well-known cupcake shop located in the heart of St. Petersburg, owned by world-renowned pastry chef Victor Nikiforov. Not only did they come to try his delicious sweets, but nearly everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the man himself. At 27, Victor was young, successful, and very handsome, but despite having plenty of suitors he remained single, with only his poodle Makkachin for company in his studio apartment located above the bakery. He preferred it this way, he always told himself. Victor loved what he did, and he always stayed so busy that he didn't really want a relationship. He did sometimes get lonely on especially chilly nights, but he was grateful to have Makkachin's excited, slobbery kisses to come home to, as well as the love of his friends and support of his customers.

On an unusually slow afternoon he was leaning on the counter, playing absentmindedly on his phone with a sigh. Maybe he could close the shop early and take Makkachin for a walk. It was a beautiful, sunny, not too warm day, he was feeling restless, and as the owner there was nothing stopping him from locking the door and taking the evening off.

Nothing, that is, except for the customer talking on his phone and walking inside at the exact moment Victor grabbed his keys. He looked like he was in his early twenties, Victor noticed, and very obviously not from the area. In fact, he didn't look like he was from Russia at all; if Victor had to guess he would say the man was Japanese.

“All the signs are in Cyrillic,” he overheard him tell whoever he was on the phone with, in heavily accented English. “I don't know if I can read much of it...just get you anything? Okay.” After hanging up he nervously approached Victor, anxiously chewing his lip.

“Welcome! What can I get for you today?” Victor asked him with a dazzling smile.

“Oh, h-hello...you speak English too?” the Japanese man asked, suddenly looking much more relieved. “I, um...s-sorry, I don't speak much Russian, so I may need a minute...”

“Take your time,” he assured him with a wave of his hand. “You must be on vacation then, da?

The other man blinked in surprise. “Oh, um...I”m here for school, actually,” he explained. “Just for a year, then I'll be finishing up back at home...”

Victor nodded. “I see.” He could tell by the way he nervously chewed on his bottom lip that he was still struggling with reading the signs and smiled patiently. “You can take a look at the display case here if you like,” he said. “Just point out anything that appeals to you, or I can even give you some samples!”

“Really? Thank you...” He nodded and smiled back. “Everything looks delicious...”

Victor blushed a little at the compliment, despite hearing it nearly every day. Maybe it was the cute accent, he thought. While his customer examined the contents behind the glass window he took a moment to get a closer look at him. When he had walked in, Victor immediately noticed he was a few inches shorter than him, and behind a pair of blue plastic-framed glasses was a pair of pretty, dark brown eyes. He appeared to be a little on the pudgy side, with round cheeks and a slight belly that, while camouflaged by his coat, was still pretty noticeable. Victor couldn't deny that he was adorable.

“Um...this one in the front looks good. What flavor is it?” the younger man asked, snapping Victor out of his reverie.

“Oh! That's actually one of my best sellers, as well as a personal favorite,” he said cheerfully. “It's dark chocolate with strawberry filling and strawberry frosting.”

The customer's eyes lit up. “That sounds amazing! I'll take two of those, please. But only one wrapped up to go.”

“Coming right up,” Victor grinned before ringing up the order. The cute foreigner handed him his credit card and he quickly looked at the name before sliding it in the machine and handing it back to him.

He took two of the chocolate-strawberry cupcakes out, put one in a gold-trimmed purple to-go box, sat the other one on top of it and slid them across the counter. “Here you go, Yuuri Katsuki.”

Yuuri blushed and gave him a surprised look when he said his name. “Oh, um...t-thank you.” He picked up the unboxed one and poked his finger into the icing, then slowly licked it off. The gesture made Victor's breath catch in the back of his throat, but he tried to play off the choked noise he made as a giggle.

“So, what does Yuuri think?” he asked with a smile.

“It's just as good as it looks!” he replied, returning the smile. He took a bite and checked his phone. “Oh, my roommate is outside, I should go. Thanks again!”

“It was my pleasure! Feel free to come visit again anytime!” Victor said cheerfully as Yuuri picked up the box and headed for the door. As he watched him leave with another dark-haired young man around his age, he locked the door and went upstairs to his apartment, where a large brown poodle was eagerly waiting for him.

“Oh, Makkachin! You have to hear about the customer I met today!”

~~~

"Oh my god, this is amazing!"

Yuuri smiled at the way Phichit's face lit up after trying the cupcake he gave him. "Well, you said you'd heard really good things about this bakery so I figured it was worth a try," he said, finishing his own.

"The owner looks pretty delicious too, if you ask me."

"You're unbelievable," Yuuri chuckled dismissively, throwing his cupcake wrapper away. The blush dusting across his cheeks was subtle, but Phichit, ever alert, noticed before he turned to face the other way.

"You can't lie to me, you noticed too didn't you?" he teased, nudging Yuuri playfully. "He's totally got that silver fox thing going on but there's no way he's over thirty. And..." he paused for dramatic effect, smirking before he continued, "...he was totally checking you out."

"What? No way," Yuuri scoffed as they made it to the bus stop. "I mean...maybe I caught a lingering glance or two but I probably just had, oh I don't know, a stain on my coat or something in my hair..."

"Yuuri, you know I wouldn't let you out of the dorm if that were the case."

Yuuri laughed, unable to argue. He was actually grateful for his friend's sometimes brutal honesty; it had spared him from embarrassment more times than he could count. And he was definitely right about the bakery owner being quite attractive, with shiny silver hair, eyes that reminded him of the ocean back home in Hasetsu and a million-dollar smile.

Combining all that with the delicious cupcakes he made, Yuuri knew he would definitely have to come back.

Chapter Text

“So have you seen that Japanese student again?”

The sudden question, as well as the tone in which it was asked, made Victor almost regret telling Chris about Yuuri a few days after they met. The look on his face when he asked didn't help.

Christophe Giacometti was a longtime friend and former apprentice of Victor's, and now owned a small chocolate shop with his husband in Switzerland. He always tried to keep in touch with Victor regularly, and he had a habit of sometimes meddling in his elder's love life, whether he wanted him to or not. And when their weekly Skype call revealed a cheerier-than-usual looking Victor, Chris immediately noticed and pried the details out of him.

“Well, um...not since the first day he came in, no,” he admitted. “I'm sure he's busy with school though.”

“You'll tell me if he visits again, hm?” Chris asked. “You know how nosy I am, Vitya.”

Victor blushed and looked down. “I know all too well.” He caught a glimpse of the clock on his laptop screen and gasped. “I have to get ready to open up for today. I'll text you later, okay?”

“Tell Yuuri I said hi!” Chris teased before ending the call. Victor powered down his laptop and got up, then went to make sure Makkachin had food and water.

“You think he'll come back, don't you Makka?” he asked the half-asleep dog still lying on the couch, who tilted his head to the side in response. He chuckled and patted him softly on the head. “You behave while I'm gone, okay?”

Makkachin yawned and went back to sleep, and after blowing him a kiss, Victor left his apartment and went downstairs

~~~

With a sigh, Victor looked out the window of his shop as several familiar faces passed by, disappointed that none of them were Yuuri. He wasn't sure why he was so hung up on this one customer who'd come in over a month ago, but he would have given nearly anything just to see that adorable smile or hear him speak in that cute accent again. He'd even started staying open a little later than usual, hoping that he'd stop by when the area was usually bustling with college students, but so far even that tactic hadn't gotten him anywhere.

Just when he was about to give up for yet another evening and close up, the small bell on the front door jingled as it opened and a shivering Yuuri stepped inside.

“Hello again!” Victor said in what he knew was a much cheerier voice than necessary. “Long time, no see. How are your studies going?”

Yuuri blinked and smiled back at him, obviously surprised that Victor even remembered him among the countless other customers he got daily, much less that he was interested in making small talk. “They're going well,” he said shyly, approaching the counter. “They're keeping me pretty busy though so I can't get out much. Well, that and I'm not used to it being this cold...” he admitted with a chuckle, and Victor noticed that his cheeks, already flushed from the cold, turned a slightly darker shade of pink.

“I hear that a lot from foreign students,” he said with a smile. “I've lived here my whole life, but I've done a lot of traveling so I can see how one would consider Russian winters hard to get used to. I can make you a cup of coffee to warm you up, if you'd like.”

Yuuri's eyes lit up. “Ah, that sounds great! Spasibo!

Victor beamed as he turned around to make a fresh pot of coffee. “You've been working on your Russian, I see.”

Another shy nod. God, could he be any cuter? “I've been practicing with my roommate. Does it sound okay?”

“Your pronunciation could use some polishing,” Victor told him, “but it's quite good. I personally think your accent is really cute.” He gave him a flirty wink as he tapped the power button on the machine.

Yuuri looked at Victor like he'd grown a second head. “C-cute? Me? Y-you can't be serious...” He nervously scratched the back of his neck and looked at the floor.

“I am serious. In fact...” Victor reached across the counter and gave Yuuri's scarf a playful tug. “At the risk of sounding too forward, I would like to treat you to dinner sometime, Yuuri Katsuki.”

“Ah...”

Yuuri tried to respond, but suddenly felt himself unable to say anything. Did this shop owner that he barely knew, who happened to be easily the most beautiful man he'd ever seen, really just ask him on a date? This had to be a dream.

Still, maybe it was the look of sincerity in Victor's eyes, or maybe it was the way he said Yuuri's name, but finally he smiled and nodded. “That sounds nice. I'd like that. I-I'm actually free this Saturday...”

“Great!” Victor started to pull his phone out of his pocket when the coffee maker beeped, indicating that it was finished. He went to tend to it, humming cheerfully. “So what do you take in your coffee?”

“Um...four sugars and two creams, please,” he replied shyly. “I've, uh...got kind of a sweet tooth...”

Victor nodded and prepared two cups, then walked back over and handed one to Yuuri. “Well, Yuuri, as someone who makes sweets for a living, I obviously consider that a plus.” He took a sip from his own cup and reached for his phone again, unlocking it and holding it out to Yuuri. “If it's no trouble, I'd like to text you later. Would you mind giving me your number?”

Yuuri took the phone, his hand trembling slightly. “N-no, I don't mind...” He gasped when he saw his home screen picture. “Cute dog! Yours, I'm guessing?”

Victor nodded proudly. “That's Makkachin! He lives with me upstairs.”

“Well tell Makkachin that he's adorable,” Yuuri said with a smile as he added his number to Victor's contacts, then sent a text to his own phone so he could save Victor's number as well before handing it back to him.

“I'll do that,” Victor said, returning the smile as he pocketed his phone. “I can send you home with some cupcakes too if you like. No charge, since most everything's been sitting out for a couple of hours now...”

“Oh, I couldn't do that! I'd be happy to buy a few from you though!” Yuuri sat his coffee cup down and fumbled in his pockets, suddenly flustered again. He jumped in surprise when Victor reached over and gently grabbed his wrist as he pulled his wallet out.

“How about I consider you agreeing to a date as payment for the coffee, and your number for the cupcakes, hm?” he asked, flashing that smile again that caused Yuuri to forget how to think. He reluctantly nodded and put his wallet back, then he silently drank his coffee as he watched Victor put several cupcakes into a box for him; a few of the chocolate-strawberry ones he'd bought last time, some red velvet ones, and what appeared to be vanilla with lemon-flavored frosting. He didn't realize he was licking his lips until Victor looked at him, and he blushed as the Russian man repeated the gesture back at him. It was then that he noticed how soft Victor's lips looked, and...no, he told himself. It was way too soon to be thinking about kissing him, even if he had agreed to a date. After filling the box, Victor closed it and carefully set it inside a paper bag to make it easier for Yuuri to carry before sliding it across the counter.

“So I'll see you on Saturday, then?” he asked.

Yuuri took the handle of the bag and nodded. “Yeah...I'll text you later, okay?”

“I look forward to it, Yuuri!” Victor smiled again, eliciting a small chuckle from Yuuri as he waved and turned to leave. Once he was alone again he immediately pulled his phone out again, wanting to text Chris about the encounter.

 

Chapter Text

On Friday morning, Victor was abruptly woken up, not by Makkachin wanting his morning walk as usual, but by a phone call. He groggily felt around his bedside table until he found his phone and pried his face away from his pillow so he could answer, not even bothering to check who was calling at this ungodly hour.

“Hello?”

“Vitya, did I wake you?”

Victor sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Yakov? Is that you?” he asked, his voice still slightly hoarse from sleep.

“I have a bit of a...predicament,” replied Yakov, the head baker at the academy in Moscow where Victor had received his training several years ago. “One of my students decided he wanted to train under you and has left without consulting me first. He's probably on his way to St. Petersburg as we speak.”

“W-what? Why me?”

“The hell if I know! You were a stubborn and willful teenager too, if you recall!”

Victor couldn't help but chuckle. Yakov had him there. “So what do you want me to do, try to talk him into going back to you?”

“Ideally, yes,” the old man sighed. “But on the other hand, an apprenticeship might be good for Yuratchka. He's young but he has a lot of potential. Reminds me a lot of you.”

“Well...I suppose I could,” Victor said hesitantly. “Is he supposed to live with me as well? Because I don't exactly have the space for--”

“Work that out with him when he gets there. And let me know he's gotten there safe, since I doubt he will. I'll send you a photo of him.”

Victor sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose as he stood up and stretched. Yakov had done a great deal for him in addition to just training him, so he supposed it was only fair to do this in return. “Okay. I'll do it.”

“Thank you, Vitya. I'm sorry to trouble you on such short notice.”

“It's no trouble!” Victor insisted. He had honestly been toying with the idea of taking on an apprentice anyway, and who better than a fellow pupil of Yakov's? After saying goodbye, he hung up and proceeded with his morning routine, since his alarm was set to go off in about fifteen minutes anyway.

**

At fifteen years old, Yuri Plisetsky hadn't done much traveling outside of Moscow, and had definitely not traveled without his grandpa or Yakov with him. But his grandpa wasn't exactly as healthy as he used to be, and Yakov had the pastry school to run, so if he wanted to train under the one and only Victor Nikiforov he didn't have much choice besides taking the train to St. Petersburg by himself. And he'd already Googled the directions from the train station to the bakery, so he figured he'd have an easy enough time finding it. He felt his cat stir from inside the pet carrier in his lap and stuck his fingers through the bars.

“I know, Potya. We're almost there; I can let you out soon,” he said in a gentle voice, calming his beloved pet.

When he reached his destination, he stood up and stretched before getting off and grabbing his suitcase. The blond-haired teenager scrolled idly on his phone while he waited for his cab to pick him up, growing more confident by the second that he'd made the right decision in coming here. He could tell St. Petersburg was much different from Moscow just from looking around, and despite not having a very good sense of direction he was confident that he would do well on his own. Yuri loved Yakov, almost like another grandfather, but there were just some things that he felt the veteran baker just couldn't teach him as well as somebody like Victor could. Finally, when his cab showed up, he loaded his bags into the trunk and got into the back seat, his beloved cat by his side.

The ride from the train station was quiet, for which Yuri was grateful. The person sitting next to him on the train was pretty chatty, asking questions varying from what his cat's name was to if Yuri was visiting family, as well as feeling the need to share his own life story. He was glad to have a cab driver that minded his business. Potya meowed impatiently again from inside his plastic and metal confines and Yuri peeked inside and smiled softly at him.

“I know. Just a little longer, I promise. Here, I have something for you.”

Yuri reached into his backpack and opened a plastic bag containing the homemade cat treats he'd baked before leaving Moscow. He took one out and poked it through the cage bars. Potya sniffed it first, then eagerly accepted it as a peace offering. Satisfied, the cat calmed down for the rest of the car ride.

When the cab driver stopped in the middle of a fairly busy shopping district, Yuri pulled some cash out of his pocket to pay him and then unloaded his things. Directly in front of him was a two-story building, painted a light lavender, with a sign above the door which read “Nikiforov's Bakery” in polished golden lettering. On either side of the door were few small wooden tables with three wrought-iron patio chairs each, and sitting at one of the tables was the silver-haired living legend himself. He stood up, flashed a smile that Yuri had previously only seen in magazines, and extended a hand in greeting.

“Hello! You must be Yuri Plisetsky. Yakov told me to expect you.”

 

Chapter Text

Yuri looked around as he entered the bakery. It wasn't quite as big as he'd pictured, but as far as independently-owned businesses went it was reasonably sized, and even though it was currently empty except for himself and Victor he could easily imagine it being packed with a line going out the door. The next immediate thing that he noticed was the faint music he heard—classical, not really his thing--drifting from the speaker of a small radio sitting next to the register. The walls were painted the same shade of pastel purple as the outside and the one on the left, closest to the register, had a chalkboard that served as the menu, with various offerings written in what he assumed to be Victor's own handwriting. The smell of sugar and frosting still lingered, which surprised him considering there didn't seem to be anything in the display cases.

“I've actually just closed for the evening, so your training won't start until tomorrow,” Victor explained, helping Yuri carry his things upstairs. “We'll just get you settled in tonight, and we can get to know each other a bit.” When they reached the door to his apartment, Victor reached into his pockets for his keys. “I know Makkachin will love you and your little friend there.”

“Makkachin?” Yuri asked, his grip tightening a bit on the handle of Potya's carrier. “Who's--?” Before he could finish, a large curly-haired brown poodle nearly knocked him over the second Victor opened the door. After adequately soaking his face with kisses, Makkachin moved his attention to the carrier, sniffing it curiously. Potya glared cautiously at him from the back of the cage, emitting a low warning growl.

“Makka! Calm down,” Victor instructed sternly, trying to distract the dog. He turned to face Yuri again, his friendly smile returning. “You can let your cat out, he won't hurt him.

Yuri nodded, setting the carrier on the floor and unlatching the door. Potya immediately darted out and hid behind the couch. Makkachin tried to follow him, but Victor kept him in place with the promise of ear scratches. “The apartment isn't very big, but go ahead and make yourself at home!” he offered. “I'm sure you're tired, feel free to rest on the couch over there.”

“You can teach me some things tonight, right?” the teen asked eagerly. “I've been waiting for this all day.”

Victor chuckled again and started to take Yuri's things to the living room. “Well I suppose I could tell you a few things, mostly tips Yakov has taught me and that you probably already know yourself, but the hands-on training won't start until tomorrow, and--” He paused, suddenly remembering his date with the other Yuuri tomorrow night. With the sudden announcement of his guest he'd nearly forgotten. “Actually,” he said, turning to face the younger boy, “tomorrow evening I have a...prior engagement that I arranged before Yakov told me you were coming. So while you're free to help out downstairs for most of the day, you'll be spending the evening with Mila. She helps me out every weekend.”

Yuri definitely looked surprised, but if he was disappointed at all by the news, he didn't show it. “Okay! I'll show you what I can do then. I bet you'll be wanting to hire me full-time by the end of the month!”

~~~

Yuuri frantically looked through his closet on Saturday morning, trying to find something he could wear on his date with Victor. He didn't exactly have what one would call an active love life, and it had been a while since his last date. Most of his wardrobe consisted of sweatshirts, jeans, and leggings, and Victor seemed like the type who would probably end up taking him to dinner somewhere fancy where such attire wouldn't be considered acceptable. Sure, he could just text Victor and ask him what he had planned, but that just seemed...well, Yuuri had sort of been waiting for Victor to text him first, like he had the evening after they first exchanged numbers.

“From what you've told me about this guy, I don't think he'd mind what you wore,” Phichit commented, watching him as he sat at his desk. “Just wear something that shows off your ass and you're golden.”

Yuuri blushed, refusing to turn around and let him see his expression. “Like it needs any more attention drawn to it with how much weight I've gained since school started,” he joked, finally finding a pair of dress pants in the back of his closet. He stripped out of the leggings he was wearing and stepped into them. As he pulled them up he could feel that they were a little tighter on his thighs than he remembered, and though he was able to button them, the way they dug into his waist was far from comfortable. Or flattering, he thought, cringing as he looked in the full-length mirror on the closet door. Even his loosest-fitting shirt wouldn't be able to hide the way his stomach obviously stuck out. With a resigned sigh he took the dress pants off and put his leggings back on before turning to face Phichit.

“So...does this mean I finally get to take you shopping?” the Thai boy asked with a cheeky grin. Yuuri pouted and tossed the too-small pants at him.

Yuuri wasn't a huge fan of going clothes shopping. He'd accepted long ago that his weight tended to fluctuate, so it wasn't a body image issue (at least not usually), but it was more that the concept as a whole didn't interest him. He only did it out of necessity, usually just replacing things when they became too stained or worn out to continue wearing outside the house (he did have a few t-shirts that he kept for sleeping in, that he'd grown attached to and refused to throw out despite the number of holes they had).

And yet here he was, in the fitting room of a locally-owned shop, trying to decide whether or not he actually liked the outfit Phichit had picked out for him. The blue plaid button-up shirt wasn't his usual style, but he couldn't help noticing how well it complimented his shape. It was still a little formal for his taste, so maybe he could wear it layered over a T-shirt that he had at home. And despite what he'd said back at the dorm about drawing attention to it, he thought as he turned to look at his reflection from the side and the back, even he couldn't deny that the jeans made his ass look pretty amazing.

“So, what's the verdict?” he heard Phichit ask from outside the stall. With a deep breath, Yuuri opened the door and stepped outside for his friend to see. He wasn't surprised to see that he already had his phone out and ready to get a picture of him, but he was a little caught off-guard by the wolf whistle. “Wow, Yuuri, that looks even better on you than I thought it would. Twirl for me?”

Yuuri did as he was told, a little flattered but mostly embarrassed as he heard the click of Phichit's camera a few more times. “Yeah, I actually really like this outfit too. I'll admit, I wasn't sure about the flannel at first, but...”

“But you pull it off perfectly!” Phichit grinned as he moved close enough to Yuuri to take a selfie with him. “You should send a mirror selfie to Victor before you change out of that,” he suggested, winking playfully. “Give him a little preview of what he'll be seeing tonight.”

“Phichit, I don't want him to think I'm too eager,” Yuuri protested, going back into the fitting room and changing back into his gray sweater and black leggings.

“You haven't texted him since Tuesday, have you? He's gonna think you're not interested, Yuuri!” his friend said, opening up the contact list on his own phone. “Keep in mind he's the one who asked you out after you came into his shop twice...”

“Well, you do have a point, I guess,” Yuuri said with a shrug as he came back out, his date clothes carefully put back on their hangers and draped over his arm. “I'll text him a little later; I'm sure he's busy at this time of day anyway.”

Phichit nodded and headed to the checkout desk with Yuuri, giving his friend a teasing nudge. “I still wish you'd let me come with you to the shop tonight. I still haven't met him yet to give him my seal of approval.” He slipped his phone into his pocket after sending the selfie of him and Yuuri to Victor, whose number he'd gotten from Yuuri's phone last night while he was in the shower, accompanied with the message, “Yuuri's being shy but he's looking forward to seeing you tonight ;P”

 

Chapter Text

“Are you sure I can't come in and meet him?”

“Not after you sent that picture of me to him. You're grounded.”

Phichit pouted and gave Yuuri a playful nudge toward the door of the bakery. “I couldn't help myself! And he said you looked really cute, so who's the real winner here?” He smirked as he watched Yuuri open the door. “Tell me everything the minute you get home, Yuuri! I expect details!” With a final wave, he left and headed for the bus stop.

Victor's eyes immediately lit up the second he saw Yuuri walk in. “Yuuri! I didn't expect you this early,” he said, smiling brightly. “Not that I'm complaining, of course!”

“Um...my bus was a little early, sorry,” he replied, blushing. “I wanted to let you know but Phichit said you'd like the surprise...”

Victor chuckled. “Well Phichit was right, I must say. I was hoping to thank him in person for sending me that picture of you earlier, actually,” he said with a wink. “Blue is such a good color on you, Yuuri.”

“What are you talking about? I'm not wearing--” Yuri peeked out of the kitchen with a confused look. Victor turned around to face him, still smiling.

“Oh, did you find the icing bags?” he asked the teenager, before realizing that he'd been misheard. “Oh! Yuri, this is my date tonight, I told you about him this morning. His name is Yuuri too!”

The older Yuuri smiled shyly and waved at him. “It's nice to meet you, Yuri.”

Yuri nodded, not returning the sentiment as he sat the extra icing bags on the counter. He couldn't believe this pig was the reason Victor was cutting his training short today.

“Ooh, Vitya, do I get to meet him before you leave?” came a singsong voice as a pretty, slender redhead came from the kitchen behind Yuri. She grinned at the sight of the newcomer and immediately rushed over to greet him. “So you're the cutie with the glasses that Victor keeps gushing about. I'm Mila. It's nice to finally meet you!”

Yuuri nodded and smiled back at her, suddenly feeling a bit overwhelmed. It wasn't as if he'd expected only Victor to be there since he knew he'd be leaving before the shop closed, but it didn't help the fact that he was already nervous to begin with either.

“I should be back in time to close up; Mila, you're in charge while I'm gone!” Victor said cheerfully as he made sure he had everything he needed. The redhead nodded and threw her arm around Yuri's shoulders.

“I'll teach the new kid everything I know!” she replied. “Have fun, you two!”

Victor chuckled and waved as he walked out the front door with Yuuri, giving him a reassuring smile.

“Um...they seemed nice,” Yuuri said, trying not to seem as anxious as he was.

“Ah, yes! Mila is quite friendly,” Victor explained. “She's just finishing high school this year so she only works on weekends, but I love having her around. And Yuri...he kind of dropped in on me yesterday with not much warning. Apparently he wanted to be my apprentice and I couldn't exactly turn him away after he took a train all the way from Moscow...”

Yuuri nodded, then looked ahead as they continued to walk down the sidewalk. “So um...where is it that you're taking me?” he finally asked after a few moments of silence.

Victor smiled excitedly, as if he'd been waiting all day for the question (in all honesty, he had). “Well, it might have been a bit presumptuous of me, but I thought I would surprise you and take you to one of my favorite Japanese restaurants. It's not far from here,” he said. “But if you'd prefer something else, I'd be happy to take you anywhere!”

Yuuri perked up and blushed a little. “That sounds really good, actually. Thank you!”

Victor nodded, smiling at the adorable expression on Yuuri's face. They walked a little further until they reached a building near the end of the street. Victor held the door for Yuuri before following him inside, and it wasn't long before a petite older woman approached them and led them to a table near the back.

“I actually know the couple that owns this restaurant. They're older and really friendly,” Victor said as he picked up his menu. “They're from a small seaside town in Japan called, um...Hasetsu, I think?”

Yuuri gasped, and Victor could have sworn that his smile lit up the entire restaurant. “Hasetsu is where I'm from! I lived there my whole life, up until I left for college...” He looked down at the menu on the table and read over it for a moment, suddenly realizing just how hungry he was.

“That's interesting. Small world we live in, I guess,” Victor said with a grin. “What's it like there?”

“Usually pretty quiet, but there are of course a lot of beach tourists in the summer,” Yuuri explained. “And my parents own one of the few onsens that are still open, so I was always on a first-name basis with some of the regular guests there.”

“Oh, so you would help out there?”

Yuuri nodded. “Yeah, usually cleaning the rooms and stuff. My older sister tends to handle the front desk since she's more...extroverted. I never did have much of a gift with people...”

“Well personally, I find your shyness endearing, Yuuri,” Victor said, causing the younger man to blush. “You might not believe this but I usually prefer Makkachin's company than that of most people,” he added.

“I've always had more of a way with animals too,” Yuuri said. “That's why I'm studying to become a vet.”

“Ah yes, you said you traveled abroad for school, I remember,” Victor said. “I didn't know that was a field that usually involved travel.”

Yuuri adjusted his glasses and set his menu down, having made his decision. “Well, it was actually because of Phichit. He's a film major and he got this amazing offer to study overseas, and he invited me to come with him,” he explained. “And, well, he's my best friend so of course I wanted to share this with him.”

Victor smiled. “You seem like good friends. I'm glad both of you got to come to Russia.” A few minutes later, the same woman who had seated them came back with a small notepad to take their orders. She looked at Victor first, giggling softly when he smiled at her.

“I'll have my usual, Moriko, thank you,” he said, handing his menu to her. “And what will you have, Yuuri?”

“Um...I'll have the katsudon, please,” he said in Japanese, offering her a kind smile. “And just water to drink.”

The waitress nodded and left them alone again, and Victor immediately looked back at Yuuri with clear admiration in his eyes.

“Japanese is such a pretty language,” he said. “I've picked up a bit from my travels but I wouldn't say I know enough to have a conversation. At least, not a long one.”

Yuuri smiled shyly under Victor's gaze. “Well...I suppose if you helped me with my Russian, I could teach you some Japanese in exchange...”

“I'd like that very much, actually,” the other man said eagerly. He thanked Moriko with a smile and a wave as she brought their drinks to the table.

“You've asked a lot about me, but you haven't talked much about yourself, Victor,” Yuuri commented “What do you like to do?”

Victor thought for a moment. “Well, of course I love to bake. I helped my mother out a lot in the kitchen as I was growing up and she always told me I had a gift for it,” he said. “She's the one who encouraged me to go to school for it and to open my own shop.”

“She sounds really sweet,” Yuuri said, making a mental note to call his own parents the next chance he had. “What else do you do for fun?”

“Well...I'm a bit rusty at it, since I'm so busy at the bakery that I don't get to practice much, but I like to ice skate,” he said. “In the winter I usually just skate on the lake, but there's a rink about half an hour away that I really like to go to when I can...”

Yuuri smiled and nodded. “I haven't done that in years, but one of my friends back in Hasetsu works at a rink part-time and when we were kids we both spent a lot of time there...”

“Well I guess I know where I'm taking you for our next date,” Victor teased. “That is, if you're interested in another date, of course.” He winked at the exact moment Yuuri took a drink of his water, and when he noticed he nearly choked. When he recovered, he nodded, giving Victor a nervous chuckle.

“That sounds great! I'd really like that,” he said. “Tonight's been really great so far...”

After dinner, they walked mostly in silence back towards Victor's shop. Yuuri hummed to himself, unsure if the pleasant warmth he felt was from the katsudon (not quite as good as his mother's, of course, but still delicious) or from getting to spend this time with Victor. He decided it was a little of both; he'd spent most of his time since coming to Russia worrying about his studies, and it was nice letting himself relax for once, especially with a handsome local.

“I had a great time tonight,” he said again when they reached the shop. “Thank you for inviting me out.”

“Oh, Yuuri, it was my pleasure!” Victor said. “Are you sure you don't want a ride home?”

“Ah...n-no, it's okay, the bus should be here soon,” Yuuri said. “Besides, you said you needed to be back at closing time, right? I wouldn't want to keep you.”

Victor looked through the window at Mila and the younger Yuri; they weren't too overwhelmed but they did look like they could use some help. “I suppose you're right,” he said with a shrug. “But there's always next time of course. And you'll come visit in the meantime, right?”

“Of course,” Yuuri said. “You're a lot of fun to talk to, and you make the best cupcakes, so I'll definitely be around for a while.”

“I'm glad to hear that,” Victor said, reaching toward him. Yuuri hadn't expected any sort of physical contact after one date, so he was taken by surprise when Victor took his hand in his own and softly kissed it. It was, however, not an unpleasant surprise. “You'll let me know you've gotten home safe, right?”

“Um...y-yeah,” Yuuri stammered, blushing as Victor let go of his hand. “I'll text you. Thank you for dinner tonight!” He turned and started to walk in the direction of the bus stop, but paused, facing Victor again. “Oh, I almost forgot. Tell Makkachin I said hi,” he added with a playful grin.

“I'll be sure to do that,” Victor replied. With a final wave, he watched Yuuri walk away.

 

Chapter Text

A couple weeks had passed since Yuri had come to St. Petersburg, and he'd become accustomed to the routine rather quickly. Victor was teaching him a lot (even if he did get distracted easily whenever that other Yuuri came into the shop), and though he'd never admit it to her, he'd grown fond of Mila and her teasing as well. He woke up a little earlier than usual one morning, and as he became more alert of his surroundings he noticed that Potya wasn't on the pillow next to him like he usually was. In the cat's defense, he was still in a fairly new environment; maybe he'd gone back behind the couch and slept there, Yuri thought with a shrug as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He reached into his unzipped suitcase, looking for something to wear for the day, and suddenly caught a glimpse of a fluffy tail out of the corner of his eye. Looking up, he was surprised to see Potya, asleep at the foot of Victor's bed, curled up right next to Makkachin. The cat slowly opened his eyes and looked up at his visibly shocked owner.

“Potya, you fucking traitor,” was all Yuri could manage to whisper. Potya replied with another swish of his tail and went back to sleep. Yuri glared at him for a moment before grabbing his tiger sweatshirt and a pair of jeans, then he got up and headed for the bathroom. He thought Victor was still asleep as he walked past his bed, but the sound of the bed creaking a bit told him otherwise.

“Oh, good morning, Yurio!” he said in a tired but cheery voice. “You're not usually up before me, did you have trouble sleeping?”

Yuri scowled at the nickname, given to him by Other Yuuri's friend—Phichit, if he remembered correctly—because “having two Yuris was confusing”. “No, I slept fine,” he said. “I was a little colder when I woke up though.” He glared pointedly at Potya again.

Victor glanced toward the foot of his bed and was surprised to see the cat curled up with Makkachin, who was just waking up. “Oh! It seems Potya has made a friend,” he said, smiling as Makkachin sniffed Potya curiously and nuzzled him. “That's so cute!” He reached for his phone on the table beside his bed and snapped a few pictures of them together.

“Yeah, yeah,” Yuri mumbled. “Makkachin should consider himself lucky to be graced by the presence of royalty.”

Victor chuckled and stretched as he sat up. “I'm sure he does. So what would you like for breakfast?”

Yuri thought for a moment. “Hmm...pancakes?”

He nodded as he got out of bed and headed for his closet. “Okay, I'll have it ready by the time you're finished with your shower.”

**

The day seemed to go by more slowly than usual; Yuri chalked the lack of customers up to the weather. It had been raining off and on for most of the morning, and while it never became a harsh downpour it did make it quite a bit colder than usual. He didn't blame people for not being out and about on a day like this, and he was actually glad to take the opportunity to have some one-on-one training with Victor rather than observing in between waiting on customers.

“Has Yakov started teaching you piping techniques yet?” Victor asked, bringing a fresh batch of pumpkin spice cupcakes out of the kitchen.

Yuri shook his head. “I kept asking him to, but he kept telling me to wait,” he said, a hint of a pout in his voice. “I can do it though, I know I can!”

“Great! I'll give you some pointers and let you help me with these then,” Victor said excitedly, setting the tray on the counter. He picked up the icing bag and carefully piped a generous spiral of cream cheese frosting onto a few of the cupcakes, making sure to show Yuri the proper angle and amount of pressure to give it before handing it over to him. He watched in silence as the younger boy repeated what he'd been shown, and he smiled proudly as he noticed that several of them looked even better than his own. “You really do have a natural talent for this. I noticed pretty early on and have been meaning to tell you.”

Yuri shrugged, trying not to look as proud of the compliment as he really was. “I'm just a fast learner, is all.”

“And Makkachin seems to love those treats you give him. Those are homemade too, I'm guessing?”

Yuri froze, not realizing that he'd been seen. He'd modified his cat treat recipe a few days ago a bit so that it was dog-friendly, and he gave a couple of them to the poodle. But he did it while he was sure Victor wasn't around because he couldn't let it get out that Yuri Plisetsky, known cat person, had warmed up to a dog after a week. “Y-yeah, I make Potya's treats myself too, it's no big deal...”

After finishing the cupcakes, Yuri sat the bag down and started to place them carefully into the display case. He was about halfway through when he heard Victor gasp in excitement before rushing back to the kitchen. He didn't even need to look at the door when it opened to know who had walked in. He wasn't even surprised to see that Phichit had come with him again.

“Back to steal Victor away again, hm?” he asked Yuuri with a smirk.

“Ah, n-no, I was just saying hi...” he said, blushing and looking at the floor. “Victor isn't busy, is he?”

“Here I am!” Victor returned, bringing a medium-sized bowl with him. “You two are just in time, we just put some fresh cupcakes out!”

Phichit looked excitedly at the display case. “Oh my God, are those pumpkin spice? Yuuri, I know what I want. And also, please marry this man. He's clearly perfect.”

Yuuri stammered in embarrassment and covered his face, while Victor just chuckled playfully. “These are one of my more popular seasonal offerings,” he said simply as he reached into the case for one. “And what would you like, Yuuri?”

“I'll take a white chocolate mocha one,” he said, eyeing two of said cupcakes on the bottom shelf and already reaching into his pocket for his wallet.

Victor nodded. “I actually have some in the oven now that should be done in about five minutes, if you'd rather have a fresh one,” he suggested. “If you two aren't in a hurry, that is.”

Yuuri started to protest, not wanting to make any extra effort, but Phichit was quick to intervene. “We're both done with classes for the day,” he said with a wink as he threw an arm around Yuuri's shoulder. “We've got all the time in the world.”

“Great! In that case...” Victor set the bowl down on the counter and dipped his finger in it before holding it out to Yuuri. “I made a bit too much frosting for the pumpkin spice ones, if you'd like a taste.”

The younger Yuri gagged at the display, while Phichit immediately pulled his phone out, ready to take a picture. Yuuri blushed when Victor touched his finger to his lips, then hesitantly licked the frosting off of it. “It's really good,” he said after a moment. “But then, everything of yours that I've tried has been, so I knew it would be...”

“For God's sake, Victor, have some shame,” Yuri mumbled. “One day you're going to be eye-fucking each other and an actual customer is going to--”

He was interrupted by a loud screech, followed by a clattering sound coming from the kitchen. A moment later, all of them were surprised to see Potya limping out of the kitchen. Yuri immediately rushed to his side.

“Shit, how did you even get down here? What happened?” he asked the cat, who refused to let him see the paw that was obviously somehow injured. “Victor! Did you leave your apartment door open?”

“No! I always make sure it's closed so Makkachin doesn't get out,” he insisted. “Cats are much smaller and quieter, but I still can't imagine how he could have gotten down here without us noticing.”

Yuuri peeked across the counter. “Hand him over here, Yurio. I can take a look at him,” he said as he took his jacket off. When all he got in response was a startled glare, he elaborated. “I'm studying to be a vet.”

Yuri sighed and reluctantly handed Potya over to Yuuri, who wrapped the jacket around him to prevent getting scratched. He was able to calm him down rather quickly before getting a closer look. “He must have gotten too close to the stove back there; it looks like he burned his foot,” he said. “Fortunately, it only looks like a first-degree burn. One of you, go to the kitchen and run a cloth under some cold water and bring it here.”

Victor quickly disappeared into the kitchen, coming back a few minutes later. Yuuri took the wet cloth and wrapped it carefully around the burn. He looked back at the visibly distraught teenager. “A cold compress is the best I'm able to do. You'll want to take him to a real vet to make sure he gets proper care, but he should be just fine.” He handed Potya back to him with a smile.

Yuri nodded, scratching the still shaken cat behind his ears. “Thank you,” he managed to say, holding the cloth in place. After a few moments, he smiled. “I guess you can't be all bad, Katsuki.”

 

Chapter Text

Yuuri pulled his scarf up a bit, shielding his face from the cold. Victor chuckled at him as they walked hand-in-hand to his car.

“I wish you could see how adorable you looked right now, Yuuri,” he said as he opened the passenger door for him. “Your nose looks like a little cherry.”

“I think it makes me look like a kid, personally, but I'm glad you take joy in my suffering,” Yuuri replied with a playful smirk as he got in the car. Usually Victor took him on dates to places within walking distance of either campus or the bakery, so there was no need to drive anywhere. Today, however, Victor surprised Yuuri when he picked him up for their ice rink date, showing up outside his and Phichit's dorm in a pink convertible. Yuuri didn't expect him to have such a flashy car, but somehow it suited him. “You're not going to have the top down with it this cold, are you?” he asked hesitantly.

“If it's too cold for you, then of course I want you to be comfortable, Yuuri,” Victor said with a smile as he started the car and raised the top. Yuuri smiled when he noticed that he even turned the heater on as he backed out of the driveway. “How are your classes going? The semester's about half over now, right?”

“It is, yeah,” Yuuri replied, relaxing a little as his body adjusted to the change of temperature. “I go on break at the end of November. I have finals during the week of my birthday though,” he added, sounding a little disappointed. “Oh! But Phichit said he'd take me out for drinks to celebrate afterwards, and I'm sure he'd be happy if you joined us...I know I would be...” He tugged his scarf up again to hide the blush he could feel creeping up on his cheeks.

Victor reached over and patted Yuuri's leg gently, smiling as he pulled onto the main road. “I'd be happy to spend your birthday with you, Yuuri.” He went silent for a moment before speaking up again. “I'll have to start thinking about what to get you, won't I?”

“Oh, you don't need to get me anything,” Yuuri insisted. “I'd just like to spend time with you, honestly...”

“You're adorable, you know that?” Victor said, more as a statement than a question, as he reached for Yuuri's hand and kissed it gently. “I'll come up with some sort of birthday surprise for you.”

Yuuri smiled and watched the road ahead of them. “That's really nice of you, Victor, thank you.”

The majority of the trip was quiet, save for the music coming from the radio and Victor occasionally singing along when a song he liked came on. Most of the songs were in Russian, but Yuuri found himself humming along if the melody was particularly catchy. Before much longer they arrived at the rink and Victor parked his car in the mostly empty parking lot.

“I hope I still know how to skate,” Yuuri said as he got out of the car. “I was probably about 17 the last time I set foot on the ice...”

Victor took his hand as they walked inside. “I'm sure you'll do fine. And I'll hold onto you to make sure you don't fall...”

After getting their skates from the rental desk, Victor led him through another door to the rink itself. Yuuri was immediately reminded of the rink back home, and spending time there after school with his friends Yuuki and Takeshi, who were now married with triplets. He sat on the closest bench he saw and put his skates on, making sure they were tied tightly enough before standing up. He felt himself wobble a little bit as he made his way to the railing but he kept his balance, smiling when Victor took his hands and helped him onto the ice.

“I might need to just do a lap around the edge to warm up, but I seem to still have the hang of this,” he chuckled, gripping the railing with one hand and still holding onto Victor with the other. Victor nodded, skating alongside him and helping him maneuver around others who were clinging to the side. Both of them were grateful that the rink didn't seem too crowded today; it meant that they had at least a bit of privacy.

“I did think about reserving the rink for just us for today,” Victor said offhandedly, “but...I thought that might make you uncomfortable or feel like I was putting you on the spot, so I didn't.” He looked over at Yuuri curiously. “Would that have been okay with you if I had?”

Yuuri thought for a moment. “Probably, but I like to people-watch so it's sort of nice to skate around everyone else too.” He started feeling a bit more confident on his feet and let go of the rail. After a few minutes he reluctantly let go of Victor's hand as well, gliding effortlessly across the ice. Victor watched him, enraptured in the graceful movements he made, as if he were making music with his body.

He also may or may not have taken the opportunity to check him out whenever he swayed his hips or bent over.

“Wow, Yuuri, you're very good at this,” he said, impressed.

“Thank you,” Yuuri said, smiling modestly. “My friends back home are pretty big fans of figure skating and I used to watch competitions with them on TV sometimes.” He sighed wistfully as he took Victor's hand again and gently pulled him along. “I like to think sometimes that I could have gone pro myself, in another life...”

“I'm sure you could have,” Victor said. “You move so beautifully.”

When Yuuri noticed that they were at the far edge of the rink and that there was a pretty clear path to the other end, he gave Victor a playful smile. “I'll race you,” he said. “To the other side and back. Winner gets his choice of prize.”

Victor's eyes lit up. “I love this sort of thing! I had no idea you could be so competitive...”

“Oh, I can be very competitive when I want to be,” Yuuri replied, taking his position at the end and waiting for Victor to do the same. “What do you want if you win?”

“Hmm...” The Russian thought for a moment. “How about a kiss?”

Yuuri's sudden spike of confidence faltered slightly as he blushed. “O-okay...that's fair enough,” he said. “And if I win...you let me treat you to dinner tonight for once. You always pay and that's not fair to you.”

Victor smiled. “I absolutely don't mind paying, but that's pretty fair too. I accept your challenge.”

“Good. Ready?” he asked. When Victor nodded, he smiled. “All right. Go!”

They both took off, darting across the ice and being careful to avoid the handful of other skaters. They remained pretty close to each other even as they both made it to the other end, but about halfway across on the return lap Yuuri gained a bit of a head start, giving Victor a playful wink over his shoulder as he looked back at him.

“I can still catch up to you,” Victor called from about a foot behind him.

“We'll see!” Yuuri teased. He made it back to where they started and gave Victor an encouraging smile when he joined him a few moments later.

“My stamina isn't what it used to be, it seems,” he panted, leaning against the rail. “I guess this means I'll let you pay for dinner later.” He couldn't help but pout a bit at the prospect of Yuuri paying, even this one time.

“That's right,” Yuuri said proudly. “Although it was pretty close there at the end, so...” He paused, letting his eyes linger on Victor's pouty lips for a second longer than was probably necessary. He tried not to think too long about how soft they looked, or how adorably flushed they were from the cold air. Before he could stop himself, he reached for Victor, picking him up by the waist and pressing him against the wall as he captured him in a brief, chaste kiss. Victor blinked in surprise, but smiled before returning the kiss, wrapping his arms around Yuuri's neck and his legs around his waist.

“You won, Yuuri, you didn't have to do that,” he said quietly when they parted again. “Not that I'm complaining, of course...”

“I-I know, I just...” Yuuri looked away, suddenly becoming flustered as he was hit with the realization of what he'd just done, After a moment he carefully put Victor back down. “I guess when you brought it up, a part of me realized I wanted it too...”

“Well, I'll be happy to indulge that part of you whenever you like,” he teased. “If it means you'll sweep me off my feet like that again...”

Before Yuuri could respond, he gave him a flirty wink and skated away.

 

Chapter Text

“Victor texted you while you were in the shower,” Phichit said, not looking up from his phone as Yuuri came back into their room. “You got a call from home too. Probably your dad since Yu-topia showed up on the caller ID.”

“Dad called?” Yuuri asked as he sat down on his bed and picked up his phone. He got a call from home usually a few times a week, though they apparently had gotten a surge of business in the last month and were sometimes too busy to talk for very long. It was usually his mom who called him from her cell, though if it was from the landline it was almost definitely his dad since he worked at the front desk, with Mari doing most of the cleaning and bed making in Yuuri's absence. He tapped the call button and flopped onto his back as he listened for someone to answer.

“Yu-topia Katsuki, this is Mari speaking.”

“Mari-neesan!” he greeted with a smile. “Sorry I didn't answer earlier, I was in the shower.”

“You mean you weren't out with your new boyfriend?” she teased.

“Victor's not my boyfriend, we've just hung out a few times,” Yuuri protested, his face suddenly burning. He heard Phichit cackling from the other side of the room. “I mean...things have been getting a bit more serious, but it's not like we're officially a couple or anything...” He trailed off, suddenly wanting to change the subject to literally anything else. “So you're working the front desk today?”

“Yeah, about that...” Mari began, choosing her next words carefully. “Dad's been taking the last couple days off, but I can go get him if you need him.”

“Is he okay?” he asked, trying not to let his anxiety get the better of him.

“He says he is, but Mom's the one making him stay in bed, you know how she is,” Mari said. Yuuri could hear the click of a lighter punctuating the short pause as she lit a cigarette. There was something she was hesitating to tell him, he could tell.

“Mari, what happened?”

She sighed and continued. “He was shoveling snow the other day and slipped on some ice. The doctor said he pulled a muscle in his back and it wasn't anything to be too worried about, but since he's got a bad back already it didn't really help much.” She took another drag from her cigarette. “I would have texted you but Mom didn't want you to worry with finals coming up since it wasn't too serious.”

“Do you need help at the onsen until he gets better? I can come home after the semester ends and finish my degree in Japan if I need to--” Yuuri could feel panic rising in the pit of his stomach as his mind immediately started running different scenarios.

“Yuuri, you don't have to—Yuuri, breathe,” she said, her tone stern but calm. “You know Mom and Dad wouldn't want you to put your studies on hold for us. He'll just be on bed rest for a few weeks; we're gonna be fine, okay?”

Yuuri nodded, taking a few deep breaths. “Are you sure? I was kind of planning on coming to visit for Christmas anyway, I really wouldn't mind to help out at least during my break...”

Mari sighed. “Well...it does get pretty busy around the holidays,” she admitted. “The doctor said Dad should be up again by the time school starts back as long as he doesn't do any heavy lifting so you shouldn't need to stay any longer than that.”

“Okay,” he said. “I'll start looking into booking a flight when I get home, I'm meeting Victor in half an hour.”

“Ha! I knew it!”

**

Yuuri frowned as he got off the bus across the street from Victor's shop. They'd planned on having lunch with Yurio and Mila at the park today, but as it had grown increasingly more overcast during his bus ride, it looked like Mother Nature had other plans. Not that he minded of course; he was looking forward to what Victor had planned as a backup. His expression quickly changed to a grin when he saw Victor sitting with Makkachin at one of the tables outside. He barely made it to the other side of the street when Makkachin ran to greet him.

“It's just going to be you, me, and Makka today,” Victor said as he stood up, giving Yuuri a soft peck on the cheek. “Yurio and Mila ended up not being able to join us. I hope that's okay.”

“That's fine!” Yuuri said, scratching Makkachin behind the ears. He was actually a little relieved that he and Victor would get some time alone today. It made the prospect of having to break the news of him going back to Japan a little less intimidating.

Victor smiled at the sight before him. “I'd never pass up the opportunity to have you to myself,” he said. He took a step toward the door, opening it to let Yuuri and Makkachin inside first before following them. “I noticed before your bus got here that it looked like it might rain. You wouldn't mind having lunch with me in my apartment, would you?”

“Of course not!” Yuuri replied, smiling. “I actually noticed too, so that sounds really nice.” He followed Victor up the stairs leading to his apartment, realizing that, until that moment, he hadn't put much thought until now into what it might look like. Victor clearly had expensive tastes, so what waited on the other side of the door was surely much nicer than the dorm room he shared with Phichit. When Victor opened the door he was surprised to see how...understated it was. It still beat his own living space, but the décor was overall pretty simple. Looking to the right, he saw the living room, which was pretty free of clutter with the exception of what he assumed were a few of Yurio's things scattered across the coffee table. In the corner beside the couch there was a leopard-print cat bed where Potya was sleeping soundly, not even waking to the sound of their arrival. There were various framed photos on the walls, most of which featured Makkachin at different ages, some were of Victor at promotional events and a few were of him with friends or family. In the back he could see a king-sized bed, with a bookcase next to it on one side and a nightstand on the other. There was a small kitchen area to the left, and a table similar to the ones outside, but a bit taller and with two bar stools instead of chairs.

“You can have a seat, if you want,” Victor offered, gesturing towards the table. “Or you can have the couch, if you prefer, so you can watch TV while I cook.”

“I'll sit here,” Yuuri said, pulling out one of the stools and sitting on it. “I always find cooking more fun when I have someone to keep me company. I can help you if you want.”

Victor smiled and walked around the corner to the stove. “You just relax. Your company is help enough, Yuuri.” He gave a playful wink as he turned the stove on and poured some oil into a pan before placing it onto one of the burners. Yuuri watched him gather ingredients from the cabinet and fridge and perked up as he recognized what a few of them were, despite the Russian lettering on the packages.

“Are you making katsudon?” he asked, smiling eagerly as Victor put some water and rice into the rice cooker. Victor returned the smile and nodded.

“I remember you mentioning it was your favorite,” he said casually. “I found a recipe online and asked Moriko-san for some tips.” He carefully prepared two pork cutlets with the egg and bread crumb coating before putting them into the pan. “I told her I wanted to make it for you as a surprise sometime, but she had me help her make it at her restaurant at a few times first.” His cheeks suddenly turned strangely pink as he busied himself with cooking. “I was, ah...reminded more than once why desserts come much more easily to me...”

“Ah, so that blister you had last week wasn't from getting too close to your oven downstairs, then?” Yuuri teased. “I thought it looked more like it was caused by oil splatter...” He smiled at the thought of Victor going to the effort of learning to make his favorite dish and dealing with the resulting kitchen mishaps. “That was really sweet of you, thank you,” he said after a few minutes. “I can't wait to taste it.”

They stayed silent for a while, the sound of the pork cutlets sizzling filling the small apartment. Once they were done, Victor removed them from the pan, sliced them and set them aside, and drained the oil before putting the ingredients of the sauce in.

“Oh, I almost forgot! Would you like something to drink?” Victor asked suddenly, covering the pan to let it simmer. “Some champagne, maybe?”

Yuuri started to say no, that water was fine, but then the thought of his dad crept back into his mind, as did the thought of having to tell Victor he had to go back home in a few weeks. Maybe a little bit of alcohol would help him relax and make that easier, he thought. “Yes, please,” he finally said.

“Okay, coming right up!” Victor walked over to the counter where a bottle was chilling in a bucket of ice. He brought it, along with two glasses, to the table before going back to his cooking station so he could finish up. He took the lid off the pan and slid each pork cutlet out onto a bowl of rice. “Lunch is ready!” he said happily as he brought both bowls to the table. He set one in front of Yuuri first, then placed the other on the opposite side of the table. Rather than sitting down, however, he went back to the kitchen, calling for Makkachin to follow him. Yuuri watched with a fond smile as the poodle sat patiently while Victor refilled his water bowl, then opened a can of dog food and emptied the contents into the bowl next to it. After kneeling down to give Makkachin an affectionate kiss on the head, he stood back up and joined Yuuri at the table, pouring a glass of champagne for each of them.

“It's so cute, seeing how close you and Makkachin are,” Yuuri said as he picked up his fork. “How long have you had him?”

Victor looked over at the dog with a smile. “Ten years this Christmas,” he replied. “He was actually a birthday present. Oh, Yuuri, you should have seen how tiny he was! He could fit in my hand back then,” he sighed fondly. “I have a picture around here somewhere of him riding in the hood of my jacket while I was on my bike...”

“That sounds adorable,” Yuuri said before taking a bite of katsudon. “Victor, this is amazing!” he suddenly exclaimed. “It almost tastes like my mom's...” He took another bite and hummed softly, before realizing what else Victor had said. “So...your birthday is on Christmas?”

Victor stopped in the middle of taking a sip of his drink, then put his glass down. “Well, Christmas actually isn't very widely celebrated here, but yes,” he answered. “Speaking of birthdays, have you thought any more about what you'd like for yours?”

“Not really,” Yuuri shrugged, drinking from his glass. “I told you that you don't need to get me anything special...” He drank some more of his champagne and tried not to make it obvious that his anxiety was starting to spike.

“Is everything all right?” Victor asked after a few minutes of tense silence, reaching across the table and taking Yuuri's hand. “Are you sure the food's okay? I overcooked the egg, didn't I?”

“N-no, the food's perfect!” Yuuri assured him. “It's just...” He downed the rest of his champagne and sighed. “I sort of...need to go back to Hasetsu at the end of the month. Probably the day after my birthday.”

“What? Why?”

“I found out this morning that my dad's on bed rest with a back injury,” he explained. “I need to go help my family with the onsen while he recovers. I should only be gone for a couple weeks but my dad sort of had a bad back before he fell so depending on how well he recovers I might end up staying and finishing my degree in Japan...”

“Oh, Yuuri...” Victor frowned, squeezing his hand. “I'll miss you, but I do understand, not to mention greatly admire, that you're doing this for your family.”

Yuuri gave him a small smile, feeling relieved at how well he was taking it. “Thank you, Victor. I hope this doesn't...y'know, change things between us,” he admitted shyly as he watched Victor fill both their glasses again.

“It doesn't change a thing, I promise,” Victor assured him, and to drive the point home that he was serious he leaned across the table and gave Yuuri a soft kiss on the lips. “Now, what would you say to watching a movie with me after we eat?”

Yuuri blushed at Victor's gaze, but slowly nodded. “I'd like that. Very much.”

**

“Yuuri Katsuki, where have you been?” Phichit asked in mock indignation when Yuuri arrived home later that evening.

“I sort of...dozed off on the couch during the movie we were watching,” he admitted sheepishly. “Victor let me sleep the champagne off and then drove me home.”

“Ooh, you had champagne? Did anything...happen?” he teased.

“I only had two glasses, Phichit,” Yuuri laughed. “And he made katsudon, which almost always makes me sleepy...” He sat on his bed and plugged his phone in to let it charge, feeling embarrassed that he'd forgotten to do so before leaving and letting it die while he was at Victor's.

“Did you tell him about your dad?”

“Yeah, and he took it really well, actually,” he said, smiling at the memory of what Victor had told him. “I can't believe I was as nervous as I was about telling him.” After waiting a few minutes, he tried turning his phone back on, immediately expecting a barrage of unanswered texts from Phichit.

“You really didn't blow my phone up, huh?” Yuuri teased, surprised to only see one message from Victor.

“Didn't need to. Victor let me know it was off.”

Yuuri smirked, remembering that Phichit had gotten Victor's number weeks ago. He opened the text from him and was surprised to see what looked like a screenshot of an email, which was entirely in Russian, and a follow-up text with a confirmation number.. Puzzled, he started typing out a response.

 

To: Victor

What's the confirmation number for?

 

The reply was almost instant.

 

From: Victor

I went ahead and paid for your flight home. Happy early birthday, Yuuri.

 

Chapter Text

Yuuri turned his phone back on as soon as he left the lecture hall after his last exam, wondering if Victor had texted him yet.

 

 

 

From: Victor

I hope your finals went well! I'll see you soon <3

 

 

 

To: Victor

Thank you, I think I did pretty well today. Phichit and I are going back home to change and then we'll be ready.

 

“Texting the bae?” Phichit teased, running up and hugging Yuuri from behind when he was about halfway between the science building and the dorm. Yuuri blushed and put his phone in his pocket. When they got back to their room he immediately went for his closet to find something to wear. The original plan for today was to go out for drinks to celebrate both his birthday and the end of the semester, but since Yuuri had an early flight the next morning, he decided he'd rather not have to deal with traveling with a hangover and they'd just meet up with Victor, Yurio, and Mila instead. Since he usually kept things more casual when he went out with Victor, he decided he'd dress a little nicer for once since he'd recently updated his wardrobe anyway. He finally decided on a dark green sweater and a pair of patterned leggings. He jumped in surprise when he heard Phichit whistle from the other side of the room.

“I bet those won't stay on for long if you end up spending the night with him,” he said with a playful wink. “Didn't he pick those leggings out for you?”

“Well...yes,” Yuuri said, cautiously looking at his reflection in the mirror on his closet door. “I personally don't think they're all that flattering, they draw more attention to my ass than I'm usually comfortable with, but...”

“But that's probably exactly why he picked them,” Phichit said. “And probably, at least on a subconscious level, why you decided to wear them today.”

“Who says I'll even be sleeping over there tonight?” he asked defensively. “It'd be too awkward to do anything anyway, with Yurio practically right next to us...”

“I'm not saying for sure that you will,” his friend said, playing innocent. “But do you really not think that he'd at least ask? He'll probably even offer to drive you to the airport,” Phichit said. “You have to admit that it's not too out of character for him to suggest you spending the night with him. It might be easier on you that way, come to think of it.”

Yuuri shrugged. Phichit did have a point, though he couldn't bring himself to admit it.

**

“Everything's ready, right?” Victor asked again as he adjusted one of the decorations on the wall. “I want everything to be perfect when Yuuri gets here.”

Yurio rolled his eyes. “For the last time, yes. Not that it even needs to be,” he said, annoyed. “As long as the two of you have somewhere to be gross and flirty together, I doubt he cares if there are balloons and streamers everywhere. Besides, he's what, 24 today? Aren't balloons a bit juvenile?”

“You're never too old for balloons, Yurio!” Mila beamed, inflating the last one and letting it float up to the ceiling. “And I think it's cute, not gross, how utterly smitten our Vitya is.” She winked at Victor, who was anxiously looking back and forth between the kitchen and the window. He pouted when the oven timer went off at around the same time he saw the bus arrive.

“Mila, go ahead and take Yuuri and Phichit upstairs,” he instructed. “Yurio, can you come help me in the kitchen, please?”

The teenager scowled. “Fine, but only because of the experience this gives me.” He followed Victor to the kitchen while Mila went to the front door, waving at Phichit and Yuuri when they got close enough to see her.

“Happy birthday, Yuuri!” she said cheerfully, giving him a hug as soon as he walked through the door.

“Thank you Mila,” he replied timidly, returning the hug. He looked around at all the decorations. “What is all this?”

“Victor wanted the shop to look festive when you got here,” she said with a giggle. “Your party's actually going to be in the apartment but he wanted it to look nice down here too.”

“Yuuri, your boyfriend is so extra,” Phichit teased, nudging Yuuri's side playfully.

“He knew that all of this wasn't really necessary, right?” Yuuri asked. “I mean, it's nice and everything, but it's just stuff you'll have to clean up later on, and--”

“Oh, don't worry about all that!” Mila assured him. “Now come on, I have a present for you upstairs!”

Yuuri and Phichit followed her, both trying to sneak a peek into the kitchen on the way.

“Your surprise is almost ready, lyubov moya, I'll bring it up to you soon!” Victor called, looking over his shoulder at Yuuri with a smile. Yuuri responded with a wave before Phichit and Mila pulled him away.

“So, Yuuri,” Phichit said as they walked with Mila up the stairs. “You never did tell me...what's his apartment like?”

“It's nice,” he said. “It's small but really cozy. He's got a lot of pictures of Makkachin hanging up...” His eyes lit up and he grabbed his friend's arm excitedly. “That's right, you get to meet Makkachin!”

“Potya too, if he's feeling social today,” Mila added. She opened Victor's front door and immediately crouched down to greet Makkachin. “Your present is in the purple bag on the couch, Yuuri. I hope you like it!”

“Oh, I'm sure I will,” he said as he and Phichit walked over to the couch and sat down. Phichit immediately reached out to pet Potya, who cautiously sniffed his hand before deeming him worthy of his presence and jumping into his lap.

“Yuuri, look! I've been blessed!” he beamed, scratching the cat behind his ears.

“God, he didn't even trust me that much until after I helped him with that burn,” Yuuri said as he reached into the gift bag and pulled out what was inside. He smiled when he saw what looked like a hand-knitted blue scarf.

“Mila, did you make this yourself?” he asked, rubbing it between his fingers and taking in how soft it was before wrapping it around his neck.

“I did! Victor told me your favorite color was blue, and that you weren't adjusting well to the cold weather here,” she said with a teasing gleam in her eye. “And it looks adorable on you!”

“It's so warm!” he said, smiling. “I love it. Thank you,” he told her, taking it off and putting it back into the bag.

A few minutes later, the door opened again and Victor entered, with Yurio following behind him. He was carrying a tray of cupcakes, which he set down on the counter before searching through his kitchen drawers for something.

“You put the pack of candles in your jacket pocket, you senile old man,” Yurio said with a chuckle.

Victor chuckled as he patted his pocket and felt the item in question. “Oh, silly me!” he grinned as he took one out and stuck it into the middle of one of the cupcakes on the tray. Next he lit a match and used it to light the candle, then he picked the cupcake up and brought it over to Yuuri. “Make a wish,” he told him, stroking his cheek.

Yuuri grinned shyly at him before blowing the candle out, silently wishing for his dad to make a quick recovery. When Victor took the candle back out and handed the cupcake to him, he looked at it and smiled.

“How did you make a cupcake look like katsudon?” he asked, admiring the details and almost unable to bring himself to actually eat it. Phichit took the opportunity to take a few pictures of it.

“Well, Yurio actually helped me a lot with coming up with it,” Victor replied. “But the rice is coconut shavings, the pork cutlet is a marshmallow rolled in graham cracker crumbs, and everything else is food coloring and fondant.”

“Victor, this looks like so much work!” he said, hesitantly taking a bite of it. He was pleasantly surprised to taste that the cake itself was the white chocolate mocha flavor that had quickly become his favorite. “You're so talented,” he added, pulling Victor down for a kiss. “Thank you. And thank you too, Yurio, for helping!”

“You're not going to kiss me too, are you, katsudon?” Yurio asked, looking slightly horrified, sitting on one of the barstools on the other side of the room.

“Only if you want him to!” Mila teased back, walking over to grab a cupcake for herself. “Victor, these really do look adorable. You've outdone yourself!”

“Of course I did. My Yuuri only deserves the best!” he said as he sat next to Yuuri on the couch.

 

Chapter Text

“Yuuri! How was your flight?”

Yuuri looked absolutely exhausted as he stood at the baggage claim carousel. “It was fine. There was a bit of turbulence about halfway in but it wasn't awful,” he yawned. “How's everything back in Russia?”

“Not the same without you, lyubov moya,” Victor pouted, ignoring Yurio's irritated “He's barely been gone a day, Jesus!” from the kitchen. “I'm glad you made it home safely though. You look like you could use some rest though. Did you sleep on the plane at all?”

“A little, but it's hard for me to stay asleep when I fly,” he admitted, perking up a bit when he saw his luggage come by. “I even tried to take a nap during my layover but that was a no-go too...”

“Well when you get to your parents' house, promise me you'll get some sleep, okay?” he asked, giving Yuuri a loving smile.

“I can do that,” Yuuri giggled, rubbing at his eyes. “I should go, I need to get to the train station.”

Victor frowned. “Okay. Thank you for letting me know you landed safely. I love you, Yuuri, and I'll talk to you soon.”

“Love you too,” he replied with a yawn. “Oh, and tell Yurio I said hi! Mila, too, the next time she comes in.”

“Of course,” Victor said with a chuckle before ending the call. He pocketed his phone with a sigh. It may have only been roughly a day and a half since he'd last seen Yuuri, hugging and kissing him during their emotional goodbye at the airport, but he already missed him dearly. At least he had his work to occupy him for the next couple weeks, he told himself. He put on a cheerful smile as a group of customers walked in.

**

Yuuri pulled up to the onsen and smiled fondly as he paid the cab driver. Usually he would have walked home from the train station, but after a grand total of 32 hours of travel, he could barely form a coherent thought, let alone walk any significant distance. He got his bags out of the trunk and gave the driver a friendly wave before watching him drive away.

It had been a few years since he'd last been home, flying in from Detroit for the summer to join the celebration of both Mari's birthday in June and his parents' thirtieth anniversary in August. With a yawn, he carried his bags up the stone path between the entry arch and the front entrance. His mother was there to greet him before he could even make it to the door.

“Yuuri! It's so nice to have you home!” she said happily, embracing him in a tight hug. “How was your flight? Are you hungry? I'll make you some katsudon!”

“I'm so tired I can barely stand, much less eat,” he told her apologetically. “But maybe later. I'll tell you and Mari and Dad all about my trip after I have a nap, okay?”

Hiroko nodded and patted Yuuri on the cheek affectionately. “Of course, dear. I'm sure you're exhausted.” She took one of his bags while he took his shoes off at the door and helped him carry his things inside. “You'll have to tell us all about that Russian boyfriend of yours too. Victor's his name, right?”

Yuuri's eyes widened and he blushed. “Y-yeah, it is...”

After a dip in the hot spring and a much-needed nap, Yuuri sat at the dinner table with his family, including his dad who was still incredibly sore but wanted to welcome him home regardless.

“So, little brother,” Mari said with a smirk, right as Yuuri took his first bite of katsudon, “do we get to meet Victor?”

Yuuri nearly choked at the sudden question. “Well...I'd like him to meet you, of course,” he said, poking at his food nervously with his chopsticks. “Maybe if I get a chance to Facetime him later you could say hi to him? He's still a bit rusty on his Japanese though...”

“That would be nice,” his mom said with a smile. “What's he like? You haven't really told us that much.”

“Well...” Yuuri thought for a moment. “He's 27...actually he'll be 28 in a few weeks,” he said. “And the bakery he owns is really well-known all over Russia. Which isn't surprising, because he makes the most delicious cupcakes...” He sighed wistfully, already missing the taste of them. “Oh, and he has a poodle named Makkachin!” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and found a recent picture of Makkachin to show his family.

“From what we've seen of you two on Facebook, he seems pretty smitten with you,” his dad teased. “How did you meet?”

“Phichit and I went sightseeing one evening,” he explained, “and I was craving something sweet and he told me about this bakery one of his classmates had recommended before suddenly taking off. So I went off to find it while I waited for him, and, well...” He shrugged and smiled at everyone. “He was really nice about me not knowing that much Russian yet. I think he could tell how anxious I was when I walked in.”

“So did he like, ask you out right then and there?” Mari asked with a teasing smirk.

“No, he didn't until the next time I went,” Yuuri said. “That was about a month later, and I was honestly surprised he'd even remembered me out of all the customers he'd probably gotten in that period...”

While he was explaining that day to his family, his phone pinged with the notification of a text from Victor. He quickly opened it, very aware that all eyes were on him in that moment.

 

From: Victor

Facetime?

 

To: Victor

I'm having dinner with my family, maybe in a few?

 

“Oh, go ahead and call him, everyone's finished eating anyway,” Mari said, nudging him as she read the conversation over his shoulder. “Let us meet him!” Yuuri looked up, blushing, and saw that his parents were nodding in agreement with his sister. With a resigned sigh, he tapped the video call button under Victor's contact name.

“Yuuri!” Victor's cheery voice and heart-shaped grin greeted him almost instantly. “You look much more rested.”

“I'm glad I look it, because I'm still feeling the jet lag pretty hard,” he replied with a chuckle. “Oh! My family wanted to meet you. This is my sister, Mari.” He moves his phone so that his sister is in the camera's view.

“It's nice to meet you, Mari! Yuuri's told me a lot about you!” Victor says eagerly. All she could do in response was wave politely, as he'd greeted her in English. It took Yuuri a moment to remember the language barrier, and he quickly apologized and translated, then gave Mari's response back to Victor.

“She said it's nice to meet you too,” he said. “And...these are her words, not mine, 'if you make my baby brother cry, ever, I will hunt your Russian pretty boy ass down'...”

Victor chuckled. “Noted. And she won't have to worry about that.”

Yuuri translates for Mari again before moving on. “My parents wanted to say hi too,” he said, pointing the camera at them. Both his mom and dad smiled and waved, and Victor returned the gesture.

“Tell your dad I hope he gets well soon, Yuuri!” Victor instructed. Yuuri translated, and then gave Victor his dad's thanks in response. “And tell Mrs. Katsuki that she's very beautiful and that I can tell where you get your good looks from.

Yuuri's cheeks flushed a deep shade of pink, but told his mom what Victor had said. Giggling, she replied. “You're so sweet, Vicchan, thank you! And no need to be so formal; you can call us okaa-san and otou-san!

“Mom!” Yuuri pouted, clearly embarrassed. Mari laughed, and Victor tilted his head to the side in confusion.

“What did she say, Yuuri?” he asked.

“She...she she said thank you for the compliment, you're very sweet,” he said slowly. “And...she gave you a nickname, “Vicchan”. And...” he gulped. “She said not to be so formal and you can call her and Dad okaa-san and otou-san, which are the Japanese words for Mom and Dad...”

Now it was Victor's turn to blush. “She really said that?”

Yuuri chuckled nervously. “She did. I guess this means my parents approve of you.”

 

Chapter Text

Yuuri had been gone for three weeks today, Victor realized as he caught sight of the date on the calendar by his front door. Yuuri's dad was recovering, though a little more slowly than originally expected, so it was looking like he wouldn't be able to leave Hasetsu now until at least the beginning of January, when his final semester started. Victor knew that he needed to be there to help his family, and he respected him for doing it, but he still missed him terribly.

“Oh Makka,” he sighed as he straightened up the living room a bit. “Is it selfish of me to hope Yuuri can come home soon? I know he's still in Japan because his family needs him, and I know I talk to him almost every day, but I just can't wait to hold him in my arms again...”

Makkachin whimpered softly, empathizing with him. Victor knew the poodle missed Yuuri as well, excitedly greeting him during video calls. Even if he was in the middle of a nap, he would come running as soon as he'd hear Yuuri's voice coming from Victor's phone. Victor patted him on the head gently before going downstairs to the bakery, where Mila and Yurio were waiting for him.

“You miss him a lot, don't you?” Mila asked, giving Victor a hug as soon as he got to the bottom of the stairs. He nodded, her kind gesture making him even more emotional.

“God, Victor, he's away visiting his family, not dead,” was Yurio's much less sympathetic response. “Pull yourself together, old man, this is getting painful to watch.”

“I know,” he said, going to the front door to unlock it. “I just was hoping that he'd be back by now, and finding out yesterday it'll probably be another couple of weeks just..stung a little.”

“I'm sure Yuuri misses you as much as you miss him,” Mila offered consolingly. “And he'll be back before you know it!” Her blue eyes lit up as a thought occurred to her. “I have an idea! Vitya, maybe you could go to Japan to be with him and you can come back together!”

Victor flipped the 'closed' sign to 'open' and turned to face her with an incredulous look. “I can't do that, I have the shop to run. And besides, I wouldn't want to impose on his family...”

“Yurio and I can handle things while you're gone!” she offered, ignoring the immediate protests of the younger teen. “It'd only be for like two weeks, right? And I doubt his parents would consider you an imposition. Didn't you say they gave you permission to call them Mom and Dad?”

Blushing, Victor turned to face the door again. “Well, yes...” He still hadn't used those names yet when referring to Yuuri's parents, and still got flustered whenever Hiroko would call him Vicchan. Though he didn't have any room to talk regarding moving quickly; it was his decision to ask Yuuri out after meeting twice to begin with. “I don't want you to be here full-time when you still have school to focus on,” he said to Mila after a moment.

“Oh, that's nothing! You'll be back before my break ends, and I've been spending most of my break here anyway. I love working here!” She playfully pouted at him. “Please, Vitya? Let us do this for you?”

“What do you mean 'us', hag?” Yurio protested. He started to outright refuse to help, but then he realized that if Victor went to Hasetsu, then he wouldn't have to deal with him moping for another two weeks. “All right, fine,” he finally grumbled. “So what'll it be, old man?”

Victor considered the offer for a moment, incredibly touched that his friends would do this for him. “Well, okay, if you insist, I guess I can't really say no, can I?”

Mila chuckled as she watched him make his way back to the counter. “See, I told you you'd get to see Yuuri sooner than you thought! Oh, and maybe you could wait to tell him until you've already landed in Japan. Won't he be surprised?”

Victor nodded and hugged her again. “Thank you for doing this for me. I really owe you one.”

**

Yuuri was starting to get worried. Victor hadn't been available to Facetime him in almost two days now, and even though they'd still been texting regularly, it was unusual for them to not chat face-to-face like they had been. Sure, maybe Victor was just busy at work, with the holiday rush and everything, but his anxiety couldn't help but get the best of him. Had he said something to upset Victor? Was he sick? Had something happened to Makkachin? He frowned as his thumb hovered over the call button, deciding to try contacting him one more time before jumping to conclusions. Before he could, though, he was surprised by Victor calling him.

“Vitya, hi!” he said cheerfully as he answered. “I was starting to get worried!”

“Oh, my Yuuri, I'm so sorry to worry you,” Victor replied, looking equal parts apologetic and, much to Yuuri's alarm, like he hadn't slept recently. “I've just been, ah...preoccupied. Working on a surprise for you. Your Christmas present, actually.”

“A surprise? Really?” Yuuri repeated. “Victor, you already paid for me to come home, that's more than enough for my birthday and Christmas combined. You didn't need to--” After a moment, he heard a faint voice over an intercom on Victor's end. Speaking in Japanese. “Um...V-Victor...where exactly are you right now?”

“Oh, just out and about, running some errands,” he answered, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Why did I just hear Japanese?”

“I got some language CDs to learn a bit while you were gone?”

“Victor...are you in Japan right now?”

He smiled a bit nervously. “Surprise?”

Yuuri wasn't sure what to think. On one hand, Victor really dropped everything, put his work and life in Russia on hold and flew to Japan on a whim, presumably to reunite with him. On the other hand, that was definitely the most romantic thing he could imagine anybody doing for him. All he could manage to ask, in a choked whisper, was “Why?”

“Because I missed you, of course!” he was quick to reply. “I know you had to stay here to help your dad but I just couldn't bear the thought of waiting another second to see you, much less two weeks. So I decided to come and help your family with you, if you couldn't come back to St. Petersburg just yet.”

“You didn't close the shop down just to come see me, did you?”

“Of course not! Mila and Yurio are taking care of things while I'm gone,” he explained. “It was actually Mila who offered, and I owe her the world for doing this for me.” He frowned a little at Yuuri's response to his arrival. “Yuuri, are you...not happy that I've come here?”

“N-no! It's not that at all,” he hastily replied. “I'm just...really shocked, is all. I won't lie, some notice would have been nice...” he admitted. “But...I know you just wanted to surprise me, and I appreciate it. Thank you, Victor.”

“Anything to see you again, Yuuri,” he said. “I just got to the train station in Hasetsu, so I'll see you soon.”

Yuuri smiled and bid him goodbye before hanging up. He turned around and saw Mari standing in the doorway of his room.

“Going by the surprised look on your face, I'm assuming that was Victor?” she asked with a smirk, holding a cigarette to her lips.

“Yeah, uh...he's here in Hasetsu,” he told her. “He wanted it to be a surprise for me but he came to help out at the onsen...”

“Came to be with you because he misses you, you mean,” she said, pulling her lighter out of her pocket. “Paying to fly you home, coming after you three weeks later...this guy's big on grand love gestures, isn't he?”

Yuuri laughed. “Yeah, Victor isn't exactly one for subtlety...” He stood up and stretched. “I guess I should go tell Mom and Dad he's on his way. He's probably leaving the train station soon.”

Mari smiled at her younger brother. “I'll go let them know. You go sweep the entryway a bit; I was actually gonna ask you to do that anyway.”

Yuuri nodded and walked by her, heading to the front room to clean up a bit before Victor's arrival.

After sprucing up the front room of the inn and shoveling snow off of the stone path outside, Yuuri stood at the door and watched for Victor to show up. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and was ready to text him when a cab pulled up in front of the inn. He ran down the path, ready to greet Victor with a kiss as he stepped out of the car.

“I can't believe I get my own personal welcome committee,” Victor teased as he grabbed his bag from the seat next to him. “And such a handsome one too.” He stroked Yuuri's cheek and leaned in for another kiss.

“Oh, stop,” Yuuri smirked. He gasped when Makkachin jumped out of the car and tackled him to the ground. “Aww, you came to see me too, boy?” he giggled as he looked up and scratched behind his fluffy ears. After a moment he stood back up and walked around to the trunk of the cab. “Victor, did you bring anything else you need me to carry in?”

“Just one more bag, since I only packed for two weeks,” he told him. “You don't need to carry anything, Yuuri.”

His boyfriend ignored him, pulling a large suitcase out of the car. “I can't make you carry everything after you came all this way. Come on, let's get you settled in. Just a heads up though, my room's a little small...”

Victor's eyes lit up. “We could share a closet and I wouldn't mind as long as I was with you. I'm sure it's perfect. Thank you, Yuuri.”

“I should be thanking you. I can't believe you're really here...” Yuuri said, blushing as he led Victor back inside, Makkachin walking alongside both of them. When they made it to the door, Hiroko was there to greet them.

“Welcome, Vicchan!” she exclaimed, hugging him tightly the second he was close enough, then greeting Makkachin with the same enthusiasm. She then turned to face Yuuri. “Go take Vicchan to the onsen; I'm sure he could use a soak after his trip. I'll have dinner ready for both of you shortly.”

Yuuri nodded and thanked her before leading Victor down the hall. “Mom said she'll get started on dinner for us. I'll show you where the hot spring is first though. It works wonders after a long flight, trust me.”

“Your mom is such a sweetheart, Yuuri,” Victor told him, still smiling. “And that actually does sound really nice...” When they got to the bedroom they put both of Victor's bags down at the foot of Yuuri's bed, and Victor pulled Yuuri tightly against him. Yuuri easily melted into his embrace with a smile, unaware of just how much he missed Victor's touch until that moment.

 

Chapter Text

“Yuuri, I'll be honest. As upset as I am that we won't be roommates anymore, I'm really happy for you. You got your dream job and that's amazing,” Phichit said, hugging his friend tightly. “I'll really miss you.”

“I'll miss you too,” Yuuri said, trying to keep his emotions in check. With all that had happened this past week—graduating college, getting accepted to work as a veterinary assistant at a fairly prestigious animal clinic, and moving in with Victor—it was bittersweet having to say goodbye to Phichit, who was flying back to Thailand today. “You'll let me know when you've made it home, right?”

“Oh, Yuuri, of course! I'll text you the second I land, I promise!” Phichit smiled and grabbed the handle of his bag again. “I should go; my flight should be boarding soon.”

“Yeah, you're right...I should probably head back home and finish unpacking too,” Yuuri sighed. He hugged Phichit one more time. “Take care of yourself, okay?”

“Of course I will, because if I don't I know that your Mom Friend senses will go off and you'll hunt me down,” he teased. “Tell Victor I'm sorry I couldn't see him before I left! Bye, Yuuri!” He waved goodbye before heading towards the line to have his luggage checked in. Yuuri stood and watched as his friend disappeared into the crowd of other travelers before finally leaving. He made it across the street to the bus stop before he was no longer able to hold the tears back. He cried silently by himself until the bus arrived, and even then he still felt strangely lonely until he eventually made it back to the apartment. Victor was still working and Yurio had gone back to Moscow a few days ago, so only Makkachin was there to greet him. All it took was one look at the poodle's excited face, though, and Yuuri's loneliness instantly disappeared, at least for the moment.

**

Yuuri was so engrossed in the music playing on his phone while he unpacked the last of his things that he didn't notice at first when the door opened to signal that Victor was home.

“Yuuri! I thought I'd close up early tonight so we could celebrate you moving in,” he said cheerfully, walking up to him. Yuuri still didn't hear him over his music so he jumped when Victor hugged him suddenly from behind.

“Don't scare me like that!” he yelped, setting a framed picture of his family on the coffee table before turning to face him with an apologetic pout. “Sorry I didn't hear you coming,” he said softly. “What was it you were saying?”

“I'd like to take you out to dinner tonight,” Victor explained, a sly grin playing at his lips. “In celebration of you moving in with me. And landing your new job, I suppose,” he added. “Though I wish I could have convinced you to work at the bakery with me...”

“I said I'd help out on weekends, I just wanted to do something with the degree I worked for an extra year to get,” he said. “Besides, do you really think I should be working around your amazing cupcakes full-time with my metabolism?” He asked the question somewhat seriously, but then suddenly burst out in a fit of giggles when Victor squeezed him around his waist again.

“You ask that as if the prospect of me having more of you to love is a bad thing,” Victor teased, slipping his hands up Yuuri's shirt to tickle him. “I love your softness, Yuuri.”

Yuuri tried to wiggle out of Victor's grasp, only succeeding in awkwardly pulling him around the living room before collapsing on the couch with him. “V-Vitya, please!” he managed to gasp out after several minutes. “Vitya I'll only go out with you if you stop tickling me!”

“You don't play fair, Yuuri,” Victor pouted, letting go of him and standing up. He went to the kitchen to feed Makkachin while Yuuri finished unpacking the box he'd been working on. “Where would you like to go tonight?”

Yuuri thought for a moment. “I think I'll just let you surprise me,” he said, smiling. “You've always been really good at that.”