It begins, of all places, at the supermarket.
(Truthfully, it begins before then, caught somewhere between when he dropped that first down payment on matching rings and danced a drunken flamenco with the most beautiful person in the room. But Yuuri’s historically unobservant, and Victor’s astonishingly closed-off for a man who wears his heart so fashionably on his sleeve, so yes. It begins at the supermarket.)
Two years and counting and Yuuri can almost successfully navigate the corner stop nearby. He’s near fluent in Russian, of course. Can carry on dinner party conversations without Victor stepping in every five minutes to translate or steal Yuuri away. He still does the latter sometimes anyway, because it’s Victor, who acts like a lost puppy when Yuuri leaves his side for too long and clings mournfully to Yuuri with all four limbs when he stumbles out of bed in the mornings.
Unfamiliar brands with unintelligibly tiny cyrillic labels, however, are a different story.
So they grocery shop together, Yuuri scowling down at Victor’s chicken scrawl handwriting and Victor pushing the cart, a gentle hand at his husband’s back as he guides him forward. There’s a sort of fluidity to it, like there is with most things they do. You can take a skater off the ice, and all that.
Or, at least, that’s normally how it goes, when Yuuri’s husband isn’t too busy cooing at Random Baby Number Eight.
“Victor,” Yuuri says, watching helplessly as his husband chats with a fellow shopper in Russian. His gestures are wide an animated, words too fast for Yuuri to understand anything beyond baby baby baby. “Victor.”
Victor stops mid-sentence, looks over at Yuuri with a breathtaking smile. Yuuri tries his best not to grin in return. He should know better by now.
“Sorry,” Victor says in English, sounding not very sorry at all. He turns back to the one-year-old seated in the cart. “He’s just so cute. Look at those cheeks.”
His cheeks are pretty adorable.
“Victor,” he says again, this time around a soft laugh. “If we stop and say hello to every baby in St. Petersburg, Makkachin will starve.”
“Makkachin’s a smart boy.” Victor waves at the mother and son and sulks back over to Yuuri’s side. “He’d figure it out.”
Yuuri thinks of the countless times he’s seen the poodle chasing its own tail, barking at its reflection in the window, growling at the vacuum cleaner. He hums his doubt. Victor lets out an affronted huff, frowning even as he dips down to press a kiss to Yuuri’s cheek.
“He takes after his father like that,” Victor murmurs against his skin, lips drifting toward his ear. Yuuri pulls away with a shiver. Slaps Victor’s hand, which has someone found its way into his back pocket.
“Stop that,” he says, flushed. Victor squeezes, and Yuuri jerks. “Victor.”
Victor withdraws the hand and raises it innocently beside his head. He doesn’t step back, though, and Yuuri doesn’t make him. When it comes to Victor, he’s learned to accept that some causes are hopeless.
“My Yuuri is so mean to me,” Victor says with a pout.
Yuuri rolls his eyes. “Your Yuuri is trying to finish up so we can leave.” He gives Victor a meaningful look. “I’m sure by then I’ll have thought of a way to make it up to you.”
Victor stares at Yuuri for a moment, then promptly dumps half the shelf’s contents into their cart with a swipe of his arm.
He doesn’t think about it for a while. It’s a quirk, one of Victor’s many. Victor likes drinking himself under a table. Victor likes draping Yuuri in his clothes. Victor likes talking to babies at grocery stores.
Victor likes stalking their fellow competitors on Instagram.
Yuuri's eyes flutter open, and the first thing he sees is Victor wrapped around him, head pillowed on Yuuri’s chest. When Yuuri yawns, the mess of silver hair bobs with it like a buoy. It’s a sight that leaves him inexplicably warm, from the tips of his ears to his sock-covered toes.
“Who?” Yuuri asks, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Instead of responding, Victor simply shoves his phone in Yuuri’s face. Yuuri ignores it as best he can, blindly fumbling for his glasses on the nightstand. It takes him a few tries, but he slips them on, squinting. He catches a glance of the screen and frowns. “Why are you following JJ?”
Victor just sighs and says, “Yuuri, pregnant,” like that’s supposed to mean anything to him at all. He pushes the phone closer and closer until Yuuri snatches it from his grip.
JJleroy15!: happiest day of my life <3 i love you my darling #betterthangold #JJstyle
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Yuuri blinks. “Is that a — ”
“Pregnancy test?” Victor finishes for him. “Looks like it.”
“Oh wow,” Yuuri breathes, for lack of anything better to say. “That’s — wow.”
Victor watches him. “Yeah?”
Yuuri hands the phone back, and Victor lets the screen shutter, sets it aside. He rolls over then, props his chin up on his folded arms and just looks at Yuuri, expression carefully neutral.
“But he’s so…” Yuuri trails off. At Victor’s raised brow, he continues. “Young.” He shakes his head. “How old is he? Twenty-two, twenty-three? That’s crazy.”
“I don’t know,” Victor says, as he takes one of Yuuri’s hands into his, idly tracing the lines of his palm. “It’s not that young.”
“Not that young? Are you kidding me? When I was his age, I hadn’t even — ” Yuuri bites his lip. It’s not a secret or anything. Unfortunately, Victor was more than painfully aware of his past inexperience. Still, hearing it out loud made his stomach twist with embarrassment.
“Not everyone waits for the posters on their bedroom walls, Yuuri,” Victor says, eyes sparkling with mirth. He threads his fingers through Yuuri’s. “Besides, I think it’s kind of nice.”
“Kind of?” Yuuri squawks, nearly capsizing Victor with his disgruntled flail. Victor chokes on a laugh.
“The pregnancy, Yuuri,” he says, grinning. He clutches Yuuri’s hand so tightly he can’t pull away. Gaze narrowed, Yuuri settles, and Victor’s smirk widens. He doesn’t say, You, on the other hand, were more than nice, but he might as well have.
Yuuri squeezes back. “I guess it’s not that weird,” he says after a while.
Victor looks up at him, wide-eyed. “No?”
Yuuri shrugs. “Weren’t they dating since they were like, what, sixteen? After six years, that’s probably normal, right?”
“Oh,” Victor says, eyes suddenly fixed resolutely on their intertwined fingers. He mumbles something under his breath then, so quiet Yuuri has to follow Victor’s lips.
“Six years, huh?” Victor whispers, almost mournfully.
Yuuri pretends he doesn’t hear, isn’t sure he was supposed to.
It’s around the NHK Trophy when he finally gets a clue.
The moment after Yuuri leaves the ice is always one heady with an odd blend of relief and adrenaline. Sweat-drenched and aching, he snags a plushie off the ground and tries to catch his breath. It’s a good run. Not his best, by far, but high enough to land him a later spot in the free skate.
He’s greeted by Yakov at the edge of the rink with a curt nod. At his side, Victor slides off his red-and-white runner and beams.
“Wonderful,” he says, cradling Yuuri’s face in gloved hands. He kisses his cheek. “Amazing.” His nose. “Breathtaking.” His lips. “Gor— ”
“On the ice, Vitya,” Yakov growls, yanking Victor back by the collar. “You can humiliate yourself on live television later.”
Victor nods, but defiantly raises his right hand to Yuuri’s lips. It’s tradition, after all. Yuuri presses an indulgent kiss to his ring finger. Through the thin fabric of Victor’s costume, he feels the chill of metal.
“For you,” Victor says. “Always for you.”
Yuuri releases his hand, smiling. “I know.”
“Your quad lutz could use some work,” Yakov says when he hands over Yuuri’s glasses, but his scowl is softer than usual. It’s about as close to a good work he thinks he’ll ever drag out of the man.
They stand, side by side, as Victor takes the ice, Yakov watching Yuuri from the corner of his eye.
“You’re not going to the Kiss and Cry, are you?” he realizes aloud.
He doesn’t sound particularly happy about, but Yakov’s always been a traditionalist. Settling into the ridiculous routine that came with coaching a student while said student coached another student had been difficult enough for the man as is. Yuuri’s still not positive they’ve completely won over Yakov’s approval, but Victor Katsuki-Nikiforov skates like a dream, and Yuuri’s not too bad himself. Embarrassing public displays of affection excluded, there’s not much to complain about.
“Not a chance,” Yuuri replies.
It’s rude to skip it, probably, but Yuuri doesn’t care. He wouldn’t miss this for the world. Not even for the tugging on his pant leg.
Tugging on his pant leg?
Reluctantly, Yuuri tears his gaze from his husband’s starting pose and peers down. Wide brown eyes meet his own.
In the distance, an announcer lists off his name, a stream of numbers. The crowd cheers. But Yuuri can’t hear any of it.
“Oh,” the Japanese girl staring back at him says. She’s a small thing; at full height, she barely reaches his hip. Yuuri’s brow furrows, as he looks around for the tell tale crazy eyes of a parent seeking a lost child. He finds none. She can’t be more than three, four? Certainly too young to be down here unsupervised.
Yuuri glances back down, and to his horror, notes she’s blinking back tears.
“Shh, shh, shh, it’s okay,” Yuuri says in Japanese, a little panicked, but the tears just come faster. Yuuri looks around again — Yakov unhelpfully quiet — but it’s hard to see beyond the sea of uniformed staff and press badges. “It’s okay,” he tries again, this time reaching cautiously for her hand.
Surprisingly, she lets him.
“Are you lost?” he asks. At the girl’s increased blubbers, he wonders if it were the wrong question. “Please don’t cry. We’ll find them, I promise, just…” Piano trickles through the stadium speakers, soft and wistful. He turns back to the ice, catching the tail-end of an effortless quad toe loop. He perks, struck by an idea. “You like ice skating, right?”
She nods, lip quivering, and Yuuri exhales his relief.
“Would you like to see?”
He points to the rink and she follows the motion. Tentatively, she nods.
“Here,” Yuuri says, crouching down to her height. “Put your arms around my neck.”
She stares at him, long enough that he’s worried the plan’s a bust, but then stubby arms slip over his shoulders and Yuuri’s hoisting the girl into his arms. She’s heavier than she looks, and she squirms a lot. Though, Yuuri can hardly blame her for that. He can never seem to sit still when Victor performs.
“He’s good, right?” he asks the girl, after the man executes a particularly gorgeous flying sit spin. She nods enthusiastically, her eyes long since dried, smile wobbly but wide.
“Pretty,” the girl adds, and Yuuri laughs, surprising himself.
“Very pretty,” he agrees.
“I’ll have someone make an announcement after scoring,” Yakov says when the song reaches its final chords and heads over to the rink’s entrance. Yuuri nods his thanks, considers his options. He should probably stay put, at least until Yakov speaks to an official, but there’s also this feeling, deep in his chest, that thinks it might have a better idea.
“Would you like to meet him?” Yuuri finally decides. The girls squeaks, bouncing so hard he nearly drops her. “Okay,” he grunts through another laugh. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
Yakov watches him uneasily as he approaches, which is strange even for him, but Yuuri tries not to think anything of it. It’s Yakov.
“Yuuri,” Victor calls from a few feet away, “did you — ”
The unmistakable scrape of a toe pick on wood, and Victor slaps a palm on the rink wall, just barely managing to save his knees from at least two weeks worth of physical therapy.
Yuuri and the girl jump, taking in the man, silver hair mussed and cheeks splotchy red, tripping over his own feet. Inexplicably human. Yuuri thinks if he could’ve seen this moment before, back when it was Victor Nikiforov, living legend, not Victor who sometimes leaves the faucet running, his head might have exploded.
Now, he just laughs. “Not as graceful off the ice, is he?” he whispers conspiringly to the girl. She giggles.
“I think we broke Victor,” he adds.
“Victor,” the girl repeats and resumes her bouncing. “Victor, Victor!”
“She’s your biggest fan,” Yuuri tells his husband, voice teasing. Second biggest, his own mind petulantly supplies. “You should probably at least say hello.”
“Hello,” Victor says in shaky Japanese. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Yuuri frowns at his husband’s odd behavior and throws a questioning look at Yakov, who just spins on his heel, grumbling something unintelligible in Russian.
“Victor, what’s — ”
The girl — Chicchan — thrashes in his grip, heels digging into the meat of his thigh and back. He gets her down on the ground as soon as he can, but there’s no doubt a handful of bruises purpling for his efforts.
Chicchan takes off after that, barrels straight into the knees of a man, bright-eyed and teary. He rests a palm on her head, ruffling her hair gently. He looks up then, catches Yuuri’s gaze. Thank you, he mouths, bowing.
Yuuri just waves, dimpling when Chicchan returns the gesture enthusiastically, and jabs Victor in the side until he does the same. His husband’s still wearing that expression — dumbstruck, soft, misty around the eyes.
And maybe a little wistful, too, like the song.
He gets a text from Phichit the day after they land back in St. Petersburg, but he doesn’t check it until later, when they’re lying on the couch in a tangle of limbs, stinking of plane and day old clothes, but both too lazy to get up and do anything about it.
Yuuri opens the messenger app groggily.
It’s a screenshot of Yuuri and Victor — from a livestream or fansite, he isn’t sure, though the quality would suggest the latter. It’s not uncommon for people to gush over the skating powercouple, as Phichit likes to so aptly put it, so Yuuri almost doesn’t even give it a second thought. It’s just him and Victor, Chicchan tucked on Yuuri’s hip, grinning toothily but —
But then he sees the look of Victor’s face.
Oh, Yuuri thinks.
“What do you think about kids?” Yuuri asks over dinner, and he’s actually an idiot, because he’d agonized over this for weeks, ran through just about every scenario in his head, and this was not how he wanted to do things. There were supposed to be flowers, champagne, and something other than Chinese takeout. Something mature and adult that said, hey, I’d possibly maybe be an okay(ish) co-parent, see?
Victor’s hand stills.
“Obviously not now,” Yuuri says in a rush. “Not while we’re both still competing, but — ”
“I could retire,” Victor says, and Yuuri tenses, horrified. “I could retire from skating and work part-time as your coach? Yakov’s basically co-coaching at this point anyway, and that way some days I could stay home with — ”
“Wait,” Yuuri manages to stutter out, head shaking violently. “I wasn’t saying you had to — You don’t need to do that. That wasn’t what I meant.”
“Okay,” Victor says, not looking up from his food, and that doesn’t sound right at all.
Yuuri regards his husband hesitantly, watches him push food around with his chopsticks. For the second time that night, Yuuri realizes he’s an idiot.
Abandoning his own his box of takeout on the coffee table, he reaches out, fingertips stroking Victor’s cheek. “Unless that’s what you want to do.”
Victor says nothing.
“Hmm?” Yuuri presses, scooting forward. Trails his fingers along his cheekbone, down the side of his face, until they’re tapping Victor’s chin. “Victor.”
When Victor looks up, his eyes are red-rimmed and shining.“Yes,” he breathes. “Yes, that’s what I want.”
“Okay,” Yuuri says, kissing the man once, twice. He tastes like soy sauce. Yuuri pulls back with a small smile. “You know, you’ve never been shy about asking for things before. What happened?”
“I love you,” is all Victor says, surging forward to capture his lips in another kiss, his takeout box crashing to the floor, spewing rice across the hardwood, completely and utterly forgotten, because this one’s deep and searing. Yuuri laughs and pulls away again.
“That’s not a good excuse,” he chides, but doesn’t bother dodging Victor’s hands as they reel him back in.
“You’re right,” Victor says. “I’m horrible. Simply unforgivable. From now on I’ll tell my Yuuri everything I want the second I want it.” One of the hands runs down his side, settling low on his hip. The other slides into his hair.
Yuuri’s pulse thrums, head tipping back when Victor gives a sharp tug.
“I want to fuck you,” Victor says against his lips, and Yuuri can’t help but groan. “I want to buy a house someday, a real house, with a yard for Makkachin.” He punctuates the demand with another tug that leaves Yuuri breathless. “And I want a baby with you. I want ten babies with you.”
“Ten seems like a lot.”
“You said whatever I wanted,” Victor reminds him, and not for the first time, Yuuri fears he’s created a monster.
It began, of all places, at the supermarket.
(“No, it didn’t!” Phichit says. “Yuuri, you’re kidding, right?”
Yuuri looks pointedly away from his laptop screen, where Phichit stares at him incredulously. “Um.”
“The wedding,” Phichit prompts. “Your wedding? You know, the one you got married at.” At Yuuri’s silence, he scowls. “You idiot! You had, like, four drinks!”
Yuuri shakes his head. “I don’t — ”
“You kept going on and on about Victor’s hair and his eyes and how beautiful they’d look with chubby baby cheeks, spent half an hour arguing with JJ about whose future kid would be a better skater, and — Seriously? Is none of this ringing a bell?”
Phichit looks physically pained. “Why are you like this.”)