“They can’t fucking do this. You earned…” Yuri stared at the listings for the Russian Federation’s team for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Victor shrugged. “We knew it was a risk.”
“But I want to skate against you both. I’m strong again, I can keep up… I want to beat you, and I can’t fucking do that if those homophobic assholes won’t let you fucking skate!” Yuri was vibrating with rage so hard that Yuuri was afraid he’d come apart the seams.
Otabek reached over and put a hand on his shoulder. “Skate against the records.”
“I don’t want to skate against fucking records. I already broke that record.”
“Which I broke again,” Victor said.
“For about ten minutes,” Yuuri says, laughing.
“I know I can beat the records. I want to stand on a fucking podium with that idiot on one side and that idiot on the other.” Yuri pointed at Victor and Yuuri in turn.
“It could be me,” Otabek said, his voice even and his expression thoroughly bemused. “I have the quads for it.”
Yuri’s eyes widened. “Oh god. Beka. Yes, of course.” He flushed in embarrassment, and Otabek laughed.
“Yurotchka, I know what you’ve been fighting for. And I know you’d be just as happy to have this idiot,” Otabek said, pointing to himself, “standing up with you as either of them.”
“Only if they can fucking skate,” Yuri said. Then his eyes widened. “I need to call my agent.”
“Yura,” Victor started, looking alarmed. “What are you… you can’t…”
Yuuri frowned. “What?”
“I fucking can and I fucking will,” Yuri said.
“They can take you off the list as easily as they took me,” Victor said.
“I’m not gay,” Yuri said.
“The optics on that aren’t ideal,” Otabek said. “How much do you want to explain it to them? You know they’ll ask.”
“Fuck optics,” Yuri said. “I don’t fucking care. Either they let Victor on the Olympic team and I’ll stay, or I’m not going. It’s not as if they can make me.”
• • •
The press conference was startlingly well attended for such short notice. When Yuuri said so, peeking in from behind the temporary curtain, Victor laughed and said, “That’s the benefit of being in New York. Everyone’s already here.”
Yuri’s agent, Annette, one of Goldie’s employees and a brisk Black woman in her mid-twenties, had set up the conference in a cafe on 42nd Street, in a surprisingly spacious private room that was packed, wall to wall, with reporters.
Annette stood at the small podium and said clearly, “If you’re here, you have our press page. Please pay attention to spellings. Yuri’s last name is Plisetsky. There is a Y at the beginning of his first name and the end of his last name. All pertinent information is in the press kit. Mr. Plisetsky has an announcement to read. Whether he answers questions probably depends on what you ask him. Please remember that he is a minor, emancipated, but a minor nonetheless. With that, I’d like to introduce Yuri Plisetsky.” She stepped back, clapping her hands, and looked to the temporary “wings” formed by the curtain that draped the walls.
Yuri stepped out of the wings, back dancer-straight in his tailored grey suit, and took the microphone.
He read from a sheet of paper gripped in his left hand, resting on the podium but not letting go. “I found out yesterday that I have been offered the privilege of representing the Russian Federation at the Olympic games. I wish I could say that I was thrilled by this, but it is difficult to be happy about being on a team where our most valuable member, someone who earned his position dozens of times over, was denied a chance to compete for reasons unrelated to sport. Like any athlete, my goal is to win, but a victory is no victory if the best competition is defeated not by my own skill, but by my skating federation’s fear and bigotry.”
He paused, looked over at the wings, and then continued. “Victor Nikiforov is not only the most decorated men’s figure skating champion in history, but he has been instrumental in bringing the sport to new levels of artistry, and has pledged to be my coach when my current coach, Yakov Feltman, retires after the Olympics. He and his husband are some of my best competition, and I’ve been working incredibly hard to develop the skills and stamina to push them off the gold medal podium and take their world records away.”
A low murmur rippled through the audience. He ignored it. “I want to beat them, and I can’t do that if Victor is not competing. Japan doesn’t recognize their marriage, so he can’t compete for Japan, and he’s given his life to bringing glory to Russia. He is the reason that we have three slots at the games, and while I may be certain of my current abilities, the fact of the matter is that at our last competition together, he beat me up, down, and sideways, and it’s ridiculous that he’s not even on the list.”
The murmur grew to a rumble, and he said, “So with that, I’m giving Russia a choice. They can have both of us on the team, and have the best possible shot at two medals in the Olympics, or they can have neither of us on the team, and good luck getting slots for next year’s Worlds.”
The room erupted in shouting. Annette looked out, spotted a reporter she knew well, and said, “One at a time. Joyce?”
The room stilled, and a reporter’s voice called out, “Just to clarify, you’re giving an ultimatum saying the only way you’ll compete for Russia is if Victor Nikiforov is also allowed to compete?”
“He earned the spot more than I did,” Yuri said. “I’m not interested in medals that the best people aren’t allowed to compete for.”
A masculine voice cut through, “Are you sure you don’t have a more personal interest?”
Yuri looked baffled and annoyed. “He’s my friend. He’s going to be my coach. He choreographed the routine that broke his own world record at the Grand Prix final last season when I took gold. Of course it’s personal.”
“Are you gay, too?” the same voice said.
“No, I’m not,” Yuri said, without hesitation.
The same guy’s voice rang over the clamor. “Is it true that you’re currently living with Otabek Altin?”
Annette started to step up to the podium, but Yuri held up a hand. “Look, I didn’t say I’m not gay because I would be ashamed to be gay. I said I’m not gay because I’m asexual and aromantic, and I’m living in a queerplatonic relationship with my best friend. And if you don’t know what that means,” he hesitated a split second to bite back an expletive, “Google it. I’ve said my piece.”
He balled up the paper in his hand, stuffed it into his trouser pocket, and stalked back into the wings.
Victor gave him a hug and murmured, “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Yurio, than are dreamt of in their philosophy. Thank you.”
Then Yuri moved into Otabek’s arms and bent his head against Otabek’s shoulder. “Fuck.”
• • •
Most of the immediate reaction was confusion, with a large percentage of the negative responses coming from people who heard the “queer” in “queerplatonic” and failed to understand any other words from the press statement. Several conservative media voices launched into tirades about how unnatural it was, until someone pointed out that most clergy were expected to be at least performatively asexual, and that living with someone platonically was what most conservatives would think of as “good behavior” in a 16-year-old kid. That didn’t stop the tirades, but it did change the discussion in more lucid circles.
The Russian Federation made no public reply, but Yuuri Katsuki received a call from the JSF three days later.
He was at the rink when the call came in, and he listened for a few moments before his face went dead white and he landed on his knees on the ice, rested his head against the boards, still listening, waving blindly until Victor, Yuri, Otabek, Phichit, Celestino, and Yakov had gathered curiously around him as he asked questions in Japanese.
Phichit and Victor startled as they got the gist of what Yuuri was saying, and Victor knelt to put his ear up against the other side of the phone in a vain attempt to hear more.
“Jesus, what?” Yuri said, and Yuuri held up a silencing hand.
The call went on for another minute, and then Yuuri said, “Doumo sumimasen, arigatougozaimasu!” and let the phone slip out of his fingers. Victor caught it.
“Oh my god, what?” Yuri said, alarmed. “Why were you apologizing?”
“That was more of a ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart for going through the trouble,’” Phichit said. “But yeah, tell us!”
Yuuri looked completely shocked, and Victor put a gentle finger on his cheek to turn his head. “Yuuri? Can you talk?”
Yuuri blinked, and then said, “Victor Nikiforov, will you do me the honor of marrying me?”
Victor laughed. “We did that, remember?”
“... In Tokyo?” Yuuri finished.
Victor blanched, and then flushed, and finally said, “What.”
“They didn’t call right away because they had to talk to the ISU and the IOC, but apparently your situation is odd enough and public enough that the IOC really doesn’t want to let Russia win on this one. Japan is willing to authorize extraordinary naturalization for you. And if I adopt Yuri, both of you. They’ve never done that for anyone, but the legal option exists.”
Yuri sagged against Otabek, who threw an arm around Yuri’s waist without seeming even remotely surprised.
“But the ISU says two years, and the IOC…” Yakov said.
“The IOC is barely willing to let Russia come to the Olympics at all. The fact that they refused to let their national champion compete without even giving a reason? Apparently the IOC was exploring options for putting you on the refugee team, but there was some resistance since you’re still able to travel for now, and aren’t technically a refugee,” Yuuri said. “They’re willing to waive the time requirements on the grounds that we’ve been married for almost a year anyway, that you have spent the majority of the past two years in Japan, that both of you put in your good faith efforts to go through the steps required by your home country, and the fact that this option has not been available to us until now because of Japan’s laws. Which have apparently been quietly changing in spots. Including Tokyo.”
“But adoption?” Yuri asked.
“You’re able to consent because of that thing you did in the fall with the emancipation, and there’s actually a really long history of adopting young men into families without sons, to provide heirs, traditionally,” Yuuri said. “I think it’s actually more common than infant adoption. From Russia’s perspective, you’re legally an adult.”
Yuri took a deep shuddering breath. “Japanese citizenship?”
Yuuri nodded. “Both of you.”
• • •
Later, they did a conference Skype call with both Yuuri’s parents and the Nishigori family. Yuuri began by explaining the legal situation. When he said, “And if Yuri is adopted by a Japanese citizen, he can compete for Japan,” both Hiroko and Yuuko said, “We’d be happy to…” and then started laughing and apologizing to each other. It took several minutes for a gobsmacked Yuri to fully process the fact that he had not one offer, but three.
“It’s all a technicality since you’re an adult and supporting yourself,” Victor said. “I suppose it boils down to whether you want to have a bunch of younger siblings, or whether you want Yuuri to be your brother or your father, legally. And me, I suppose. I’d be fine with either.”
“It’s not like we’d abandon you, regardless,” Yuuri said.
“We like having you around,” Toshiya said. “But you’ll be welcome as family whether or not you’re legally ours or Yuuri’s.”
“I need to think a bit,” Yuri said. “Thank you all. It… means a lot.”
• • •
It was ultimately the triplets that decided him. They swiped their mother’s laptop after she went to bed and sent a video chat request.
“Yeah?” Yuri said, as their faces appeared on the screen.
“We figured it out,” Lutz said.
“You can’t be a Katsuki, it would be too confusing,” Loop said, shaking her head.
Axel said, “We really want you to be our brother.”
“I might not be around much,” Yuri said. “The lease is up on the rental and I don’t know where we’re going next once we come back to Japan.”
“We do,” all three girls said at once.
“Tou-san and Victor have been doing a secret project that we aren’t supposed to know about,” Lutz said.
“But it’s so obvious. And we heard them talking about it at night,” Axel said.
Loop continued, “It’s next to the rink, we pass it every day.”
Axel grinned. “We snuck in and looked and it’s got room for everyone.”
Lutz said, “There are two closed onsen there. We think that Victor bought one of them for a skating school.”
Loop finished, “Anyway, there’s going to be plenty of room and I think we’re moving there, too. Our apartment is very small for six people and Victor was talking to Tou-san about it. Before.”
“Be our brother,” Axel said.
“We really want you to,” Lutz agreed.
“It’ll be fun!” Loop said.
Yuri laughed. “Yeah, okay.”