When Yuuri looked down at the phone he’d rescued from the bedside table—the model practically prehistoric and enclosed in a scratched poodle covered case he hadn’t seen since the expletive-filled aftermath of Yuri Plisetsky phone-throwing incident #6—and added the bright “...2015” blaring at him from the screen to the cramped lonely single bed he woke up in and the mosaic of Victor—oh god, Victor—posters on the dirty walls, he barrelled headfirst straight through confusion, careened through every possible stage of panic like a champion sprinter in the anxiety Olympics, and landed in that uncanny state of calm that can only prelude a record shattering skate or life shattering recklessness.
Considering that his life had apparently already been shattered—because somehow it was 2015 again and he’s in his old apartment in Detroit and Victor isn’t here why isn’t he here oh my god what if he doesn’t remember me—he was hoping for the former.
“Okay,” he told himself, breathing slowly and carefully because he knew better than anyone that calm is a fragile, fragile thing. “Okay. So somehow you woke up back in 2015, before the Grand Prix Finals.” Before Victor, a tiny voice in his mind supplied. Before the banquet, before China, before Barcelona. Before your wedding. He squashed it down with all the stubborn determination that had kept him skating til his feet bled, day after day after day. “You’re in Detroit, with Phichit. That’s better than waking up in a hotel somewhere, right? At least I have Phichit."
I don’t want Phichit; I want Victor! the treacherous little voice wailed, and Yuuri fought down a sudden hot surge of guilt. Phichit was his best friend, after all. It wasn’t like he was picking Victor over him—except he was and he would, again and again and again, but he didn’t need to be reminding himself of what an absolutely terrible friend he was and how he was disappointed to see the boy who had unconditionally supported him through his college career and how oh my god, Yuuri, you literally travelled through time like fucking Marty McFly and you’re crying and sniffling into your pillow instead of doing something about it could you get any more pathetic weak weak weak—
“Thank you for your opinion, mind,” he said firmly, lowering the pillow that had somehow found its way to his face. It was a strategy he’d learned from the therapist he’d finally gone to (read: Victor had made an appointment in his name and given him the patented Nikiforov Puppy Dog Eyes til he caved and agreed to go) to manage his anxiety. It had sounded incredibly stupid when proposed, but putting that distance between him and his thoughts helped a little and he breathed in properly for the first time in two minutes. “Okay. Okay.” Not okay! his mind screamed. Yuuri shoved his tear grimy glasses back up the bridge of his nose and set his mouth. He could deal with this. He would deal with this. His future with Victor might depend on it.
...his future with Victor. Which meant that, somehow, he had to figure out if (please, please, please) his husband had come back with him.
Thank god and a drunken Christophe Giacometti’s habit of changing people’s contact information to amusingly lewd but misleading emoji’s he’d actually memorized his phone number.
Taking another deep breath, he picked up the phone he’d dropped on the bed once his situation had registered, opened up a new message—and promptly threw it across the room as the door was flung open and a certain Thai skater burst in with a cry of “Emergency best friend breakfast meeting! My hottest skinny jeans—the Fuck-Me Jeans, okay, this is serious!—got ruined in the wash and we need to plan the funeral. Only the finest send off will do, Yuuri, those jeans got me laid more than pole dancing. This is a tragedy and I need sugar to deal with it. Come help me in the kitchen, I’m nearly done with the pancakes but I can’t find the syrup.”
“I...uh...” Yuuri stared blankly at his now empty hands, trying to process this turn of events in his already overloaded mind. He latched on to the first thing that made sense. “I...pancakes? Are you sure that’s in the diet plan?”
“I’m in mourning, Yuuri,” Phichit said, draping himself over the nearby desk chair.
Yuuri’s mouth trembled, a familiar warm pressure gathering around his eyes. “I...” he said again.
Phichit looked up, and then jumped to his feet. “Oh, shit, are you okay? I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to just burst in here like that—well, I did, but I didn’t think I’d freak you out that badly! Shit. Sorry.”
“No, no, it’s not you, it’s...” Yuuri waved a hand vaguely, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. “It’s just a bad morning. I’ll be okay. Really.” He managed a brittle smile. “But pancakes do sound good.”
“Right,” Phichit said, standing to attention and throwing him a salute. Yuuri gave a watery laugh. “Pancakes it is. You can pet my hamsters, too, if you want. Just don’t let them get in the food again; I’m not having a repeat of the Mrs. Butterworth Incident of 2014.”
“My hair smelled like syrup for weeks,” Yuuri muttered, but he could feel his mind settling down. Phichit was a rose coloured Instagram filter on the moments he inhabited, and his incorrigible optimism, viral.
“And dozens of poor confused college students started having inexplicable wet dreams about breakfast,” Phichit said, snickering.
Yuuri threw his pillow at him.
After that, the “Emergency Best Friend Breakfast Meeting” was unavoidable, as Phichit set about on a mission to distract him from whatever had him so distraught. Thankfully (or maybe not) it was one of their rare off days, so at least he didn’t have to deal with practise on top of everything else. Yuuri was too distressed to properly appreciate the food and the company, but nevertheless grabbed onto the opportunity to put off the moment of truth—what if Victor didn’t remember? What if Yuuri was alone here, in the past? Clearly Phichit hadn’t come back, so why would anyone else, no matter how much he needed them to be here? No matter how terribly, achingly adrift he was without them. Yuuri without Victor was...still a whole person, but not one he ever wanted to be.
So he delayed, and delayed, alternating between staring blankly at the empty new message in his phone and throwing himself into increasingly aggressive games of Mario Kart with Phichit, fretting and clinging to the hazy fading hope that this was somehow a dream, that he’d wake up tomorrow morning with his Vitya’s arms around him and a tired, grey Makka snoring by their tangled feet. He should send a message. He knew he should. But to his anxious mind, the possibility of Victor still knowing him, still loving him, was momentarily preferable to the potential reality that he didn’t. And anyway, what would he even say? “Hi, Victor Nikiforov, four time world champion, I’m your husband from the future, human disaster Katsuki Yuuri! And apparently I can time travel and I really need to know if you can too.”
...yeah. Definitely not.
Then, as Phichit blue-shelled him for the third time that game, the decision was taken blessedly out of his hands, as his phone buzzed with a new notification and Yuuri nearly broke their crappy TV throwing his controller aside to grab it.
This is katsuki yuuri’s #, right? It read. From the same number he’d input tremblingly in the ‘recipient’ line of his messaging app. question? how would u feel about being yuuri katsuki-nikiforov?
Yuuri stared for a long moment, blinking back tears, because that was such an incredibly Victor way of asking and he’d been so afraid and here was his husband—his husband—right and okay and remembering and suddenly the twisting leeching knot that had taken root in his chest the moment he’d woken up alone and disoriented loosened and he could breathe.
Victor was here. Victor remembered.
He exhaled shakily, drawing a long breath before typing his answer. Phichit, in the background, demanded a rematch.
Vitya!!! i’m already mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov and i don’t intend on changing that
I’m so glad you’re ok <3
The reply only took a few seconds to appear, and then Yuuri’s phone was inundated with a long string of messages.
FROM: VITYA <3
YUURRRIIIIII!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3
i love you
u don’t even know
im crying on makka rt now
i woke up and u weren’t here and my phone says its 2015?!!
then i called yura and he screamed for a minute straight
and i couldn’t remember ur phone # and i had to get it from chris?
y did chris have ur phone # b4 me?! >_<
Yuuri glanced over at Phichit before making a hasty excuse and escaping to his bedroom before he could be roped into another match. This was going to take a while, and he definitely didn’t want his roommate to see him sobbing in hysterical relief over his phone. That would raise questions he definitely wasn’t prepared to answer. Typing frantically, he flopped down on his bed, a stupid grin on his face and tears blurring his eyes.
vitya its ok
we’re both here
we’re both ok
i don’t know what happened or why we’re back in 2015 but we came back together, and thats the important thing, right?
Well not together exactly
Im booking a flight to japan as we speak
Vitya im in detroit
I mean don’t you dare fly out here yakov will go completely bald
The gp series starts in 2 weeks
We gotta skate still
I don’t care about the stupid gpf ill win anyway zolotse i wanna see u and kiss ur cute face
And ur cute ass ; )
omg vitya no you are not flying across the world for my ass
ok but consider
that decision led directly 2 our wedding
and we’re in the past now?! So i can marry u again! Don’t u want 2 get married?
...you make a convincing argument
VITYA <3, UNKNOWN NUMBER
Anyone want to tell me why its 2015 and i’m stuck back in my shitty 15 year old body?
VITYA<3: YURA!!!! :- ) : -) im so glad ur here too!!! The whole podium fam is back!!
Yura: yeah whatever. its good katsudon is here or youd have died of dehydration from crying so much and i don’t want to deal with that gross shit
aw, thanks, Yura. I knew you loved us. : )
Yura: I love looking down at you from the top of the podium
Btw I guess you two idiots have been too busy sending sappy messages to each other to realize that since weve still got our skating skills from all those years in the future and you two are still old men even in the past im going to be completely owning gold for the next fifteen years
Suck it, nikiforov
That’s my line ; )
Yura: FUCK OFF KATSUDON NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT HOW YOU WANT THE OLD MAN TO SUCK YOUR DICK
VITYA<3: i do
VITYA<3: ok ok
well discuss it in person when i get to detroit ; * <3 <3
Yura: YOU ARE NOT LEAVING ME HERE TO DEAL WITH YAKOV ALONE
HE NEARLY KILLED US ALL LAST TIME AND THAT WASN’T RIGHT BEFORE THE FUCKING GPF!
VITYA <3: O no, i booked u a ticket 2
We can train at yuuri’s rink! Ill coach u both! Itll b fun!
I...don’t think Celestino will be thrilled with that
VITYA<3: Yuuri my love my star my life im victor katsuki-nikiforov
I have more gold medals than georgi has eye shadow palettes
I dont give a shit what he thinks
VITYA<3: hes a terrible coach for u and if we want to get married again u need to be on the podium at the final
i only kiss gold, yuuri, this lip gloss is chanel
That seems like a waste, but ok
No kissing til i win
VITYA<3:...wait this was a bad idea i take it back
Yura:For fuck’s sake you two
We have the opportunity of a lifetime to mess with the entire figure skating world and break all our records doing it and you’re bringing up this fucking argument again
We all know you’re going to throw yourselves at each other the minute you’re in the same room. The real question is: how are we going to play this for maximum shock value?
You’re taking this very well, Yura
Yura: Well i can’t do anything about it, can i, katsudon? You’ve got to make the most of shit or you drown in it
Now listen up geezers bc the ice tiger’s got a plan...
Yuuri stayed holed up in his room til the last rays of sun disappeared below the horizon, texting with Victor and Yuri til they were available for a Skype call. Messaging was nice and all, but something in Yuuri’s chest unclenched at the sight of his beaming husband waving delightedly at him from their old couch, Makkachin nosing her head into the frame and Yuri slouched over the back of the cushions.
He looked so young, Yuuri noted with a start. Objectively he had known, of course; five years is a long time to scrub away, particularly for someone barely out of their teens, but to see it here right in front of him was jarring in a way he wasn’t expecting.
Of course, he imagined it must have been much worse for Yura himself. At least he himself had arrived back long after his last growth spurt.
They stayed on until Victor and Yuri were yawning more than talking—with the time difference it was nearing midnight there and from what they’d told him they’d been at the rink all day being hounded by Yakov as they wobbled and fell trying to readjust to their five-years-past bodies. It was not their off days, and Yakov did not take excuses. Particularly not from his champion skaters a mere fortnight out from the opening events of the season.
(“It’s okay, zolotse! I’d never sleep again if it meant I got to talk to you,” was Victor’s response to his concern, which, while sweet, was not exactly encouraging. Yura just snorted and continued scrolling through his phone, slumped bonelessly on Victor’s shoulder.)
Eventually though, exhaustion won out over sentiment and his husband waved an unhappy goodbye with a promise to text as soon as he woke up. Yuuri waved back, blowing a kiss at the screen before ending the call and sitting back in his chair, exhaling slowly.
Victor was ok. Yuri was ok. His husband was flying out to Detroit in two days (they weren’t in any qualifying events together and no force on earth could convince Victor to wait for the final to see him, and to be honest Yuuri really hadn’t tried very hard. They’d never been good at being apart), ready to run roughshod over anybody who dared to suggest that the legendary Victor Nikiforov couldn’t or shouldn’t make an apparently insane decision to uproot everything to coach an unassuming Japanese skater all appearances suggested he’d never actually met. And if he was going to do it whilst simultaneously perfecting his own programs, well, genius had always kept a joint account with madness.
Yura, with a predatory grin that would have been unnerving if Yuuri hadn’t been rendered immune by long association, had opted to stay in St. Petersburg and force his way into the senior division a year early. (“Someone’s got to keep Yakov from killing Georgi,” he’d said reasonably. “And...I want to spend time with Grandpa. Before...”
They all heard what he left unsaid.
Before the cancer. Before the hospitals and machines and the bitter stink of antiseptic. Before Yura, standing like a brave little soldier in the muddy cemetery, mouth trembling and head held high as if his pride would be enough to patch the gaping hole in his heart.
It wasn’t. But Victor and Yuuri and Beka and Potya and Yakov and Lilia and Milla and Yuuko and piroshky and card games on the apartment floor and late night motorcycle rides for ice cream and leopard print blankets that smelled like home and a place where he was allowed to cry and scream and no one looked at him with pity or judgment or threw out platitudes like words could measure up to the things that were gone—
Well. Maybe that was enough to hold the edges together until they could scar.
Maybe this time around they wouldn’t have to.)
They’d been given an unexpected gift of years to create the future they wanted, Yuuri considered, squinting at his phone screen and running a hand through hair that was much shorter than he remembered. It would be a terrible waste not to make the most of it.
And if part of that involved sending the skating world into repeated paroxysms of shock and incredulity, well, he wasn’t above admitting that he would enjoy the implosion. What could he say? He was a sucker for surprises. He’d married Victor, after all.
With that happy thought, he stepped out of his room and dropped down next to a drowsing Phichit on the couch.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m okay now. Sorry for worrying you,” he paused, smiling down at his friend. “I hope I didn’t miss the send off for the legendary Phichit Chulanont Fuck-Me Jeans?”
The Thai immediate popped up from where he was slumped against the cushioned arm, beaming. “Yuuri! My bestie, my bro, my one true wingman!” he chirped, pausing a moment to make sure the contact would be welcome before slinging an arm around his shoulders. “How could I say a proper goodbye without you?”