"Please," Yuri snorts, scrolling through his feed with dismissive flicks of his thumb. "JJ just tagged a shot of us with 'I always knew!' That dickbag doesn't know his left skate from his ass."
"Uh-huh," Otabek agrees, already flat on his back in bed and clearly wishing Yuri would put the phone down and turn the light off already. The jet lag always does a much worse number on Otabek than Yuri, their first night back in St. Petersburg. Yuri will, in a second.
"Our friends are the worst," Yuri announces a minute later, flopping the phone down dramatically, getting another sleepy, "Uh-huh" from Otabek. Rolling onto his side, Yuri reaches for the light and regrets deeply not finding his phone charger before he crawled into bed, because there's no way he was getting up now.
He stays on his side like that, one arm still flopped out towards the light, and sure enough as always, Otabek curls up against his back a second later, their usual sleeping position. Well, start sleeping position. Yuri isn't exactly a restful sleeper. He closes his eyes, heaving a small sigh and fully expects to fall asleep just like that.
"Yura?" Otabek says softly, near Yuri's ear. "There's something I want to ask you."
Yuri's eyes snap open. He knows that tone of voice. Otabek only whispers cutely in the dark to him when he has something to ask that he thinks will make Yuri really angry or really uncomfortable. Yuri is definitely too exhausted for this shit, but…well, Otabek didn't use that one pet name, so it might be all right.
"You're still awake, aynalayin, don't pretend."
Fuck. Yuri grunts in surrender to show he's awake.
Otabek's arm over his waist tightens, pulling them more snugly together. "I've been thinking about the Olympics."
"That's like five years away," Yuri groans.
"No no," Otabek corrects. "These Olympics. Almaty."
Yuri goes still and tight all over. "Beka, that's in two months. Are you drunk? Qualifiers were months ago!"
"Kazakhstan didn't have a pair to qualify in the fall, and as host country they can enter in every event if they wish." Otabek sounds so reasonable and coaxing that Yuri wants to strangle him with his pajama pants' drawstring.
"They STILL don't have a qualifying pair!" Yuri protests. "I'm Russian! I'm not a citizen, I'm not even a resident yet! The ISU might let us bullshit our way through but the Olympic Committee isn't fucking around."
"It's possible I have a solution," Otabek says. "Do you perhaps want to get married? Like, immediately."
[SAVE THE DATE ALMATY CHRISTMAS WEDDING, FUCKERS] Yuri's instagram post reads first thing in the morning, or at least it would if his phone weren't dead and his charger weren't lost in his luggage. Or if there were any chance of them crawling out of bed.
But it reads that eventually, around noon or so.
"Okay, so what do we have to do?" Yuri asks. He's sitting at the counter on the slightly less rickety stool in just sweatpants, hands wrapped around his mug of tea and swinging his feet against the stool rungs. "Just like some paperwork, right? Wear a nice suit? Buy a cake, I guess. Do you want to do it here or wait…until…"
Otabek starts laughing, quietly at first, and then harder until Yuri trails to a stop.
"What?" Yuri demands.
"Kazakh weddings are…" Otabek's lips twitch, his eyes sparkling. "Complicated."
It takes Otabek half an hour to explain everything. Yuri can't imagine how much time it'll take to actually DO.
Kalym - Bridal Payment
The call home to tell Otabek's parents goes well enough that Yuri ends up blushing all over from the excited whooping of Otabek's mother and sister. He gets the feeling they'd given up hope of ever getting to plan this kind of insanity for Otabek, and now intend to make up for that by planning every kind of insanity.
His fears are not allayed by how Otabek shoos him from the room and shuts the door to plot with his family in private.
Three days and one overnighted package later, Yuri and Otabek are standing on his grandfather's doorstep, and Otabek for some reason has a chicken from the grocery around the corner. Otabek has met his grandfather any number of times over the years, so Yuri can't figure out why he feels so nervous.
When the door opens, Nikolai Plisetsky gives them a long once-over, blocking the doorway with his body, arms crossed.
"So what's this I hear about you wanting to marry my grandson?" he asks.
"Hey!" Yuri snaps, irrationally irritated his surprise is ruined. "Who told you?!"
"You had it all over Instagram! I'm old, not dead," Nikolai informs them. He grunts, as if he is not entirely sure about the quality of the merchandise in front of him. "I suppose you'd better come in to talk."
"Aw, geez, Grandpa…"
"Shh, be nice," Otabek murmurs. "I need his permission to marry you, after all."
"Say WHAT?!" Yuri demands, only to be shushed again.
Otabek explains briefly that it should be a delegation of his family members coming to negotiate the bride price, but distance and time being what they are, he has to make his case for himself.
"Traditionally the bride price is livestock," he says, handing over the bag with the chicken in it. Every time Otabek says "bride price," Yuri twitches. Yuri's grandfather considers the chicken seriously, then eyes Yuri.
"A whole chicken seems a little much," Nikolai says. "For this kid, anyway."
"HEY," Yuri protest. He's worth like five chickens, at least.
"What can I say? I am blinded by affection," Otabek answers. Both of them are struggling to keep a straight face and Yuri huffs that they are both terrible people. They give up the pretense of seriousness when Yuri's grandfather says that he can let Otabek take Yuri off his hands, he supposes, and they shake on it, hands clasped warmly.
Nikolai goes to finish the meal he's been working on, and Otabek turns to Yuri to hand him a small box from his pocket. "Now that I've been accepted, it's my duty to give you this from my mother."
"Eh?" Yuri asks. Otabek squeezes his hand for a second as he hands the box over, and cryptically says that his mother chose whatever is inside, as is her right, and Yuri can't get mad at him about it. "For fuck's sake…" Yuri sighs, then pops open the lid.
It is an incredibly flashy pair of gold hoop earrings. Otabek's eyes roll towards the ceiling, as if praying for strength.
"I told her something understated!" Otabek heaves a sigh. "The earrings are the traditional gift from the mother-in-law, to show your change in social status." He pauses. "I am not sure what those show, realistically. You don't have to…"
Yuri is already taking his earrings out and trying them on, and yeah, they weigh enough to pull his lobes after only a few minutes, but the way Otabek smiles at him while he snaps a picture for his mother is worth it, at least for a little while.
Kyz Uzatu - Bride's Farewell
"This is completely unnecessary," Yuri protests, but he's not able to hide all of his smile. "Nearly all of these people are coming to our actual wedding."
"You like having a fuss made over you," Otabek counters, and to some extent he's right. But on the other hand when his Russian rinkmates throw a party, they really, really throw a party.
"Yuriooooo," Victor is whining, throwing himself against Yuri and squeezing him around the waist. He was trading shots with Georgi earlier, and that's never a good idea. "I can't believe you're leaving! I'll miss you sooooo much!"
"You live in Japan, you moron," Yuri reminds him, patting Victor's back. Yuuri shows up to collect him a minute later, a little pink-cheeked but nothing like drunk enough to start a dance off.
Katsuki Yuuri can bring it, for all Yuri cares, because there's no fucking way he's losing another dance contest during his Bride's Farewell. Er, engagement-slash-going away party.
There's some sort of ruckus going on behind them, but before Yuri can turn, Otabek's hands are on his shoulders.
"Do not look," Otabek says, some pain in his voice saying he wishes that he hadn't. "It is Coach Yakov and Lilia on the dance floor."
Yuuri's face pretty much says it all, and Yuri shudders when Yuuri mutters a horrified, "So flexible!" He covers his face in his hands when Victor murmurs sweetly that that will be the two of them someday.
"Unless you divorce me when I lose my hair," Victor says in sudden, drunken horror. "Yuuuuri don't leeeeave meeeee!" Yuri wishes his glass weren't empty so that he could dump it on Victor's head.
Eventually, Otabek can tug Yuri away for a minute of privacy, but that's all he needs to thank Yuri for tolerating the on-going level of wedding madness. Yuri tries to shrug it off. He's getting cranky, worn out from too many people and too much chaos, plus the fact that they were on the ice all morning, but he's doing his best to keep it in check for Otabek's sake. Aside from telling Victor to fuck off, but nobody expects any better of him on that account.
"We can go soon," Otabek promises.
"It's important to you, right?" Yuri grunts when Otabek sweeps him into a sudden, fierce hug.
"You're important to me," Otabek tells him. Yuri blames the flush of his cheeks on the drinking as he leans into Otabek. "Do you have any Russian customs you wish to do before we leave St. Petersburg?"
"Yes, my favorite is the traditional strangling of the groom at the engagement party," Yuri grumbles.
"You'd have a hard time skating pairs if you murdered me, gingerbread," Otabek reminds, and Yuri regrets intensely ever teaching him that one.
Betashar - Bride Reveal
They've had a few interviews with the media in Russia, since the upcoming wedding isn't a secret, but it's nothing compared to the descent of reporters in the airport at Almaty. Yuri just wants to go home to Otabek's apartment, to snatch a few hours' sleep before jet lag and early practice drag them out of bed again, but Otabek answers question after question patiently. Yuri can follow some of the Kazakh at first (yes, the wedding is next week, yes, our families are very happy, no, we'll be training in Almaty for the time being) but he tires out quickly, head fuzzy from exhaustion.
The sudden sharpness of Otabek's voice pulls Yuri back to the conversation, a small snort of air through his nose that Yuri knows as the sign that something really got to him. He tries to pick up the thread of Otabek's answer, but it's too fast; instead he leans into Otabek a little more, and Otabek's arm is around his waist suddenly, fingers pressing into Yuri's hip in thanks.
"What did she ask?" Yuri asks once they're in the taxi, luggage collected, no one to overhear but the driver. Otabek's head is back against the seat, and his mouth thins at the memory. He doesn't bother to pretend he doesn't know which question Yuri is asking about.
"If it was a stunt." Otabek gives another soft snort. "Just a rush job for the Olympics. You know," Otabek's accent is harsher than usual on the English words, "Rent-a-Russian. She may have implied I wasn't renting you just for the skating, either."
Yuri can't help it, he laughs. "That bitch! And what did you say?"
"That I don't give half a fuck about the Olympics," Otabek says coolly, like it's nothing, like he doesn't spend just as much time as Yuri thinking about wearing gold, hasn't spent his entire adult life driving his body into the ground for it.
"That's such a sweet lie," Yuri says, chest full of jet-lagged affection. "That's not all you said, though."
Otabek goes still, and probably charmingly pink, although it's too dark in the cab to see. "I said the hurry was because traditionally it's unlucky to marry in January."
"Is it? Why's that?"
"Brides that marry in January won't get pregnant for a long time," Otabek mumbles. After a moment of surprise, Yuri loses it, laughing so hard he sags limply against the seat, only the seatbelt keeping him upright. "Beka, you're an idiot."
Otabek reaches across the seat to take Yuri's hand, threading their fingers together. "You're the one marrying me, zhanym."
After practice the next day, Otabek takes Yuri over to his parents' house for dinner, warning him that he was in for what amounted for yet another party, the bride reveal, but that he had talked her down from a restaurant and a lace veil.
"That is not to say lots of other things won't happen," Otabek says, somewhat sheepishly, but his mother is throwing the door open before Yuri can ask any more questions.
"My lambs!" she exclaims, lit up with excitement just for them, and Yuri notices with some amusement that the earrings she sent him match hers almost exactly. She hugs Yuri tightly, her strength always a surprise given her slender figure, and then turns to scold her son, "You should have come over as soon as you flew in!"
"It was midnight!" Otabek protests, accepting a hug of his own.
"Pshaw. I would have made you manti." She winks at Yuri, because she knows the dumplings are his favorite. "Hurry in, everyone is waiting."
A staggering number of people are packed into the house, and the cheer that arises when they are noticed rattles Yuri's teeth. They are handed drinks and passed around for hugs, and everybody tries to get Yuri to eat something different, try just a little, here taste this.
"Are all these people related to you?" Yuri says in awe. Otabek nods, and then shakes his head.
"You wouldn't say so, no," he laughs. "But here we say so, yes. I would say you are a hit, Yura. My aunts won't stop chattering about how beautiful you are."
"Oh shut up," Yuuri says, trying to cool his face with a long drink of whatever's in his cup. He's forgotten what it's called and hopes it isn't alcoholic or tomorrow on the ice he'll be pulling a Nikiforov Special.
Yuri likes Otabek's mother very much, but her continuous, showy affections often leave him flushed and somewhat overwhelmed. She clearly has been cooking for days, pressing treats into Yuri's hands and telling him he's far too skinny in the same breath as she reaches up to pinch his cheeks, saying how tall and handsome he's turned out. Otabek is being similarly manhandled by his uncle among the menfolk, and Yuri gets the idea that's the general way that this party goes as they catch eyes across the room to roll them at each other.
"Yuriym!" Otabek's little sister calls, my Yuri, a nickname only she uses, and she slips her arm through the crook of Yuri's elbow as she pulls him away from her mother. She's not so little anymore, Yuri sees, a bright teenager with her mother's figure and gold bangles on her wrists, dark curls bouncing at her shoulders, never still. "Ah, I've come to save you from the aunts."
"Have you?" Yuri asks, amused deeply.
"Yes, of course!" she laughs as she tugs Yuri into a corner, two stools appearing clustered together as if by magic, and presses another full cup of something sweet and fizzy into Yuri's hands. She bends her head close to Yuri's over their cups so they can hear each other perfectly. "Did you know? The sister-in-law is your best friend and confidant in the husband's home. So please tell me all the embarrassing details about my brother."
Her laughter rings out over the noise of the party, like a bell, and twenty minutes later Otabek finds them still giggling together in the corner. He looms over them threateningly.
"What have you been telling her?" he asks, frowning underneath sparkling eyes.
"I'll never tell," his sister says airily, miming locking her lips and throwing away the key. Behind Otabek, there's the sudden twang of the dombra, one of Otabek's endless cousins apparently something of a talent with its strings.
Otabek tugs Yuri by the hand up to dance, and there is literally no chance of either of them making it to early skate practice tomorrow.
"What are you even doing here," Yuri grumbles as Yuuri fusses with the drape of his ruffled shirt. "Go back to Japan, pig."
"You're supposed to have someone respectable help you dress you for your wedding," Yuuri says, smoothing the direction of the velvet on the vest. "We read it on the internet."
"If you're the best I can do for respectable, then we should call off this wedding right now," Yuri snaps, making Yuuri bark a laugh. Yuuri himself is wearing red too, since he says red is a lucky wedding color in Japan. It's a traditional hakama like the kind he wears for the New Year's first shrine visit, and Yuri can never figure out how Japanese men wear a dress and still look somehow masculine. Meanwhile, Yuri wore nothing but faux leather pants on the ice two years ago and they still call him Russia's fairy.
Well. All right, maybe that one he brought on himself.
"All set." Yuuri drops his hands to his hips, admiring his handiwork. "See for yourself."
Yuri turns to the mirror and looks himself over critically. The form-fitting red pants match the red velvet of the vest perfectly, covered to the knee by black leather boots. The vest itself is stiff with so much twirling gold embroidery, but the white shirt under it is comfortable enough, the voluminous sleeves gathered at Yuri's wrists. Yuri had vetoed the hat, but his sides were braided back, knotted with gold ribbon. It isn't nearly so overdone as some costumes he's skated in, but he feels more like he's about to do the Nutcracker Waltz than get married.
He isn't 100% positive that isn't another Kazakh wedding tradition that no one has warned him about yet.
"I like it, too," Yuuri says, voice wobbling. It's a good thing Victor has gone to pick up Yuri's grandfather from the hotel or else he'd probably be sobbing all over Yuri right now, ruining the velvet. Yuuri checks his watch for the three hundredth time. "Can we go yet?"
"Beka says nobody will bother to show up before seven at the earliest," Yuri says, twisting to the side to see if the flare of the vest was lying over his ass right in the back. Yuuri makes a derisive noise, his punctual Japanese heart still distressed that the invitations read 5 o'clock when you aren't actually supposed to show up until much later.
"Let's at least go find the others," Yuuri says. "There's no telling what trouble Christophe and Phichit are getting your fiancé into."
"Husband," Yuri corrects. They've already been officially married at the Russian-built civil service office that morning, hours ago, gold band bright on Yuri's right hand. He and Yuuri grin at each other in the mirror's reflection. "Come on, let's go."
None of Otabek's explanations could have prepared Yuri for what the wedding was actually going to be like. There are people everywhere, so much food it's ridiculous, speeches from everyone they know, everyone taking their turn to congratulate them and present their gift. Some of them present a song or dance instead of a speech; Phichit has organized a few of the younger skaters into a passable boyband imitation, and Otabek's sister and a group of her friends do a well-practiced group dance that looks like it's out of a music video, all waving arms and swaying hips, sending their fluffy skirts and curls swirling.
"It's like Eurovision," Yuri laughs, half delighted and half horrified. "If Mila shows off her belly dancing lessons, I'm getting the fuck out of here." Otabek is one hundred percent delighted by it, clapping and whistling for his sister (his father, down at the table, is less amused). Otabek is wearing a jacket rather than a vest, the colors a reverse of Yuri's with much more white and only his shirt underneath red, but the swirled gold embroidery is the same. Yuri watches him at least as much as he watches the dancing or speeches, and Otabek smirks at him every time he catches Yuri staring, filling Yuri's stomach with heat.
There's professional dancers eventually, women in the kind of furred, pointed hats that Yuri refused, spinning like tops along with the dombra player's rhythm, and then a group of male acrobats doing some kind of breakdance. There are games too, Otabek cheering for his cousins as they do something with clown pants and balloons which Yuri is a little too drunk to follow other than to know that it's hilarious. And always, always more food, in between everything and sometimes during, until Yuri feels like a balloon himself, near to bursting.
Relatives come over to Otabek and Yuri's seats frequently, offering marital advice and admonishments. More precisely, they offer them to Yuri specifically, which Otabek finds so patently amusing that he keeps giggling during his half-drunk translations. Neither Yuri nor the well-meaning aunts find that as funny as he does.
"Why am I getting all the lectures, huh?!" Yuri snaps. He shoves at Otabek's shoulder, but Otabek is like a sack of wet cement at this point and probably nothing can hurt him. He has enough Kazakh, barely, to tell the woman in front of them, "Scold him too!"
Whatever she says in response reduces Otabek to helpless snickering, and Yuri shoves him again. Eventually Otabek manages to say, "It's a saying we have. She said, women have more devils, so…"
"I'm gonna show you a devil, all right," Yuri growls, standing up and yanking Otabek out towards the dance floor. Otabek grabs him by the waist and says he hopes so.
Hours after midnight, the wedding finally starts to break up. Yuri is boneless in a chair next to Otabek's sister and Yuuri, who somehow still have the energy to gossip like twittering birds in their confused mix of English and Russian. The women are handing out bags to help guests pack up the leftover food to take with them, and the girls are busily dividing up party favors of bracelets and scarves. Otabek hugs his father and mother goodnight, and then comes to ruffle his sister's hair and stand over Yuri's chair.
"Ready to go?" he asks. Yuri stares up at him without answering for a second, just taking in Otabek's mussed curls and dark eyes, the ties of his shirt fallen partially open, the breadth of his shoulders under the stiff jacket. He looks every inch a prince and Yuri is so entirely drunk that he tells him that and doesn't even blush. "Do you think so?" Otabek asks, transparently pleased. "Worth all the fuss?"
"At least a chicken's worth," Yuri answers, and Otabek snorts a laugh that only they understand as he swings Yuri to his feet.
When they finally make it home, thankfully in a hired car instead of on Otabek's motorcycle on which he would certainly kill them, Otabek will barely stop touching Yuri even long enough to strip off their complicated clothing, full of affection and syrupy endearments in both Kazakh and Russian. He might even be drunker than Yuri, if that's somehow possible.
"You could always leave the boots on, they suit you so well, bakytym, my moon," Otabek suggests, snickering at Yuri's attempts to shake him off while trying to balance on one foot long enough to kick off said boots. "So graceful, botam," he adds, just because he knows that one is high on Yuri's list of least favorite endearments.
"You're a fucking camel," Yuri growls. He sighs in relief when the boot finally comes off, stretching his toes. "Fuck, you weigh a ton! Get into bed, idiot, THEN you can call me all the stupid things you want, damn."
Otabek is entirely willing to take Yuri up on that offer while he works his fingers into Yuri's hair to tug out the remains of his braids. Yuri hardly cares, so long as he can flop against Otabek's side. Otabek is so warm, and Yuri aches all over. He should take a hot bath or he's going to wake up in agony, but he can't even think about moving. Or food, he's definitely never going to eat any food ever again.
But only a minute later Otabek gives Yuri's hair a little yank and asks if he's paying attention.
"Whaaaaaaat?" Yuri asks.
"My sunbeam, altynym, my little fish, I have a present for you."
"Eh?" Yuri whines with displeasure when Otabek moves away and takes his heat with him. "Beka, I don't care, it can wait until morning." Otabek drops an envelope on Yuri's chest and waits expectantly, grinning like a lunatic. The envelope's already been opened, the edge ragged. Yuri heaves a terrible sigh and pulls the letter out. "What kind of shitty present…is…"
It's from the Olympics committee. It says they can skate. For five heartbeats, six, Yuri is speechless, and then,
"You've had this letter for a WEEK," Yuri roars, pouncing on Otabek because he's going to murder him, pairs or no pairs. "I'm going to KILL YOU."
"Think of our routine!" Otabek protests, having collapsed on his side at Yuri's first punch and now laughing helplessly as Yuri pummels him mercilessly. He can barely get the words out, he's laughing so hard. "Think of our gold medal!"
"I'll RENT A RUSSIAN," Yuri hollers. He punches Otabek twice more, then collapses on his side, panting. Otabek is facing him, grinning, nose scrunched with the size of it. "Fuck you, Altin. I'd divorce you, but that would probably mean seven more parties."
"At least fourteen," Otabek agrees, tugging Yuri in close and pressing his face into Yuri's hair. "Speaking of that, it's only fair to warn you that probably every person we know will be coming over here tomorrow so you can serve them tea and show what a demure bride you are."
Yuri doesn't have enough arm strength left to smother his husband with a pillow, unfortunately.
Kelin Tea Ceremony
"Well, I don't know anything about Kazakh tea service," Yuuri says, ever helpful in the face of Yuri's grumbled plea for help. "But I know how we do it in Japan?"
"Sold," Yuri grunts. Tea with Otabek is how he got into this situation in the first place. Fuck tea.