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Translations: Terminations and Transitions

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Thursday morning, they woke up at 6 am to loud knocking. Victor threw on a robe and opened the door to find Phichit, Christophe, and Mike outside their hotel room door.

“I thought there was some superstition about couples being apart the night before a wedding,” Mike said, grinning.

“Neither of us is a bride, and Yuuri would have been awake all night without me,” Victor said.

“Who is it?” Yuuri called from the bed.

“The worst men,” Victor said. “We were going to sleep until 6:30.”

“There’s going to be so much to do,” Mike said.

Victor closed his eyes, raised his eyebrows, and took a deep breath. He sighed. “Okay. I’m up. Give us a few.”

“I’m ordering breakfast downstairs,” Christophe said. “If we don’t see you in half an hour, we’re sending a search party. So don’t do anything I’d do.”

Victor snorted. “Half an hour,” he said. As he closed the door, he saw Chris proffer a solemn elbow to Phichit as they followed Mike to the elevator.

“The worst men?” Yuuri asked as Victor dropped his robe and climbed back into bed naked.

“Anyone who makes me get out of bed with you at six in the morning is the worst, I don’t care if it’s our best men.”

Yuuri sighed. “We should get up.”

“You’re already nervous again?”

“It’s only the most important day of my entire life,” Yuuri said.

Victor grinned. “Then we should start it off right. I will help you relax.”

With a grand flourish, he pulled the blankets over his head.

A moment later Yuuri squeaked, “Victor!” when he felt a hand and mouth latch onto his cock.

Victor threw the blanket back and looked up at Yuuri, then pulled away just enough to say, “Shhh, I’m helping.” He resumed his ministrations.

Yuuri watched him for a long moment, and finally said, strained, “Vityenka, darling.”

Victor froze and looked up, cock still in his mouth. He let Yuuri go. “Yes, Yuuchan?”

Yuuri reached down and stroked Victor’s cheek. “This would work better if you came up here and kissed me.”

“I’m not that flexible,” Victor said.

“Sex, not the blowjob,” Yuuri clarified. “When you’re down there, it leaves me too much time in my head thinking things like, ‘Oh my god, Victor Nikiforov is blowing me. Oh my god, I’m marrying him, today.’ And then I panic, because part of me is always going to be a star-struck fifteen-year-old and it’s a lot easier to turn my brain off and enjoy myself when I’m kissing you.”

Victor grinned. “Are you saying you’d rather be fucking me?”

“Just kiss me, Vityenka,” Yuuri said, and reached over for the lube.

“No blow jobs?” Victor asked.

“Not never, just not right now,” Yuuri said against Victor’s lips as he reached a slick hand between them.

Victor groaned and thrust up into Yuuri’s hand. “God, do that more.”

With a gasping chuckle, Yuuri used his other hand to bring Victor closer, in order to better press sucking kisses to Victor’s neck.

Ten minutes later they were in the bean-shaped bathtub, using the hand-held shower to get clean quickly.

“Thank god we’re getting dressed there,” Victor said, waiting for Yuuri to finish with the showerhead. “This is awkward.”

“There is no way I’m eating anything in my wedding clothes until after we’re married,” Yuuri said, rapidly washing his hair. “Even then, I want to switch to the suit.”

“So the fancy sparkly ones for the wedding itself and the performance, and the suit for the reception?” Victor asked.

“Let’s do the long sleeved tops without jackets for the skate,” Yuuri said. “It would feel weird to skate Eros in my free skate costume.”

“You’re going to wear it to skate in after this?” Victor asked, taking the wand as Yuuri climbed out to dry off.

“‘Yuri On Ice’ is about my life as a skater. What better way to tell that story than skating it in my wedding clothes? Besides. They’re more comfortable than the costume.”

“I’m going to cry like a baby every time I see you in it,” Victor said.

Yuuri grinned. “Glad I’m not the only one.”

Victor looked back at Yuuri over his shoulder. “You know, every day I look at you and it leaves me breathless that you want to be with me forever.”

“Stop making me teary,” Yuuri said. “I need to put my contacts in.”

He stopped, while he was getting dressed, and took a deep shuddering breath.

Victor looked over. “Nerves?”

Yuuri nodded.

“Yuuchan, remember that this is just us. You didn’t invite anyone who doesn’t care about you. There’s no one here you have to impress. You could fall down on your butt and get married sitting down, and if you’re married at the end of the day, that’s what matters, right?”

Yuuri nodded, and then asked, “Taking notes from Yura?”

Victor grinned.

A few minutes later, dressed in their warmups, with Yuuri carrying their garment bags and Victor carrying their skating bags, they stepped out of the hotel room. Victor immediately said, “Wait!” and dashed back in, and then came back out again a moment later.

“What?” Yuuri asked.

“I wanted to make sure I had everything,” Victor said, patting his pocket.

At the rink, Phichit, Hiroko, Minako, and Yuuko dragged Yuuri into one of the luxury box suites while Christophe and Yakov took Victor into another to get ready. Before they went in, Yuri confiscated their rings and headed out to where the wedding preparations were happening on the ice.

“Your hair is getting so long,” Hiroko said as Yuuko brushed it back and applied an absurd amount of product to keep it in place. “You’ve been wearing it back so much, I don’t usually notice.”

Yuuri shrugged, his thumb rubbing against the skin where his ring was missing.

Yuuko swatted his shoulder. “Don’t move.”

“If I’d thought about it, I could have given you a haircut when we arrived,” Hiroko said absently.

“I’m growing it out,” Yuuri said.

“When you tried that when you were thirteen, it didn’t go very well,” Minako said.

Yuuri started to shrug, then remembered not to, and said, “I was surrounded by people who threatened to beat me up. Now, it’s actually pretty good camouflage. Or it will be.”

“He looks really pretty with long hair,” Phichit said. “It looks fine now. This costume feels amazing.”

“It feels even better on,” Yuuri said. “I think it’s going to be easier to skate in. The other one has so many sequins that even with the liner it gets to be too much.”

“I can’t believe my baby boy is getting married,” Hiroko sniffed, petting the silk.

Minako grinned. “I can.”

Yuuko stared at Yuuri’s head for a moment, and then pulled a hair elastic off her wrist, and pulled the top half of Yuuri’s hair back. “Ah, that’s definitely better.”

“It’s long enough?” Yuuri asked.

“Take a look!”

They walked over to the full length mirror that had been brought in for them, and Yuuri blinked. “Wow. My face looks so different.”

“Victor’s going to flip,” Phichit said, and then hurried to add, “In a good way!”

“How much do I get to doll you up?” Yuuko asked.

“No glitter on the face,” Yuuri said. “Whatever you have to do to keep me from looking completely dead in front of the cameras. Nothing fancy.”

“Can I do your nails?” she asked. “I have galaxy polish. Quick dry.”

Yuuri blinked. “I can’t remember the last time… Do we have time?”

“I can go check,” Phichit said. “Do a base coat at least.”

“Makeup first,” Yuuko said, opening Yuuri’s performance kit. “That won’t take long.”

“It’s been a while since you did this,” Yuuko said as she mixed a little moisturizer with foundation on a little mirror. “Remember when we did the glitter?”

Yuuri laughed. “We were finding it for weeks afterwards.”

She sponged the mixture on in a thin layer.

“He needs some concealer under the eyes,” Minako said, holding out a tube, and Yuuko nodded.

Once the concealer was on, Yuuko dusted on a light, translucent powder. She looked in the kit and found a matte lip treatment that matched his natural color, and said, “Your lips are in a lot better condition than the last time we did this.”

Phichit laughed at that. “Have you seen Victor with him? Always with the lip balm. Then again, he probably has an ulterior motive.”

Minako snorted.

Yuuri’s ears turned pink, and Yuuko promptly spread the lightly tinted moisturizer there and powder after, holding a curved piece of paper behind his ear to keep the powder off of the hairline.

Phichit handed Yuuko a clear mascara. “For his brows.”

“Really? Are they that bad?” Yuuri asked.

“It’s your wedding,” Phichit said. “Let us primp.”

“Go check the timing,” Yuuri said abruptly. “So we know if I can get my nails done or not.”

In the other box, Victor was applying his own makeup perched on one of the box’s elevated bar chairs, while Chris sat on the bar next to him, watching. Yakov sat on a stool on the other side, pretending to read a newspaper.

They’d propped a mirror against the plexiglass that separated the box from the rink below, and Victor kept glancing down to where he could see the seats being set out and the small raised platform at the front of it.  

“I don’t know why you won’t let me do that,” Chris said.

“I always do my own for performances,” Victor said. “I have a routine. I should be there to do Yuuri’s…” He started to stand up, and Yakov’s hand fell on his shoulder, a heavy, implacable weight.

“There’s a reason we separate people when they’re about to get married,” Yakov said. “Let the boy have some time with his oldest friends. Phichit and Yuuko know what to do. So does Minako. One of them will take care of it.”

A few minutes later, Victor brought a steely grey mascara up to his eye, and then hesitated.

“Hmm?” Chris looked at him inquiringly.

“Maybe you should do this part. My hand is shaking too much.”

Chris gave a wide, serenely smug smile. “I told you we should have pulled the curtain on the rink.”

“The rink isn’t the problem, I’m just…” Victor sighed.

“Second thoughts?” Yakov asked. “Wondering if you’re doing the right thing?”

“Not for a second,” Victor said. “I just… what if I pushed him too hard, too fast? I don’t have a doubt about wanting to marry him, it’s just I thought it was over six weeks ago, and I know I want him forever, but there were so many times last year when I was just at sea and what if I pushed him into this…”

Chris laughed, a short, bright bark of glee. “You’re wondering if Yuuri loves you as much as you love him? Have you met Yuuri?”

Yakov muttered, «Seventy years and never once has anyone looked at me the way that boy looks at you.»

Chris slid from the bar into the chair next to Victor, and said, “Turn,” as he held out his hand for the mascara.

As he leaned in close to apply the mascara to Victor’s lashes, Chris looked at the color and said, “Where do you even find mascara two shades darker than your natural color?”

Victor said, without moving, “Custom blend. Just dark enough to make my eyes more visible and not dark enough that people think I’m wearing it.”

When Chris finished, Victor handed him eyeliner several shades darker than his natural skin tone. “Do you think you can float a paper-thin line along the lash line?”

“Please,” Chris said, rolling his eyes and taking the brush and tube.

“This seems so unnecessary,” Yakov said. “Under the lights of a performance, certainly. But no one here will mind.”

“There are HD cameras out there,” Victor said. “I don’t want to look back at pictures of my wedding and cringe because I look washed out.”

“I already did mine,” Chris said.

“What do you do about the beard?” Victor asked.

“Just a quick light wipe that doesn’t touch the skin,” Chris said. “Why don’t we ever see you in a beard, Vitya?”

Yakov laughed at that one. “Because he looks like an old fisherman. It’s completely white.”

“How did you end up with grey hair? You’ve had it as long as I’ve known you, I don’t think I’ve seen a picture of you without it,” Chris said.

Victor shrugged. “It went silver when I was a child. Some fright, or stress, I suppose. I decided to wear it proudly, as something unique rather than a flaw. It was a sandy light brown, in the oldest pictures.”

“I asked your mother and she said you’d been ill when you were very young,” Yakov said.

“Tell me you didn’t tell her about this,” Victor said.

Yakov said gruffly, “Of course not. You did not want them here, I did not tell them.”

“I don’t think I could deal with them right now,” Victor said. “Am I terrible for not inviting my parents to my wedding?”

“I know your parents,” Yakov said. “And I wouldn’t want them at my wedding either.”

“My father would be looking for the vodka and my mother would be looking for anyone but my father to take her home,” Victor said. “And they’d berate me for marrying a man, but also for neglecting them when they sacrificed so much for me.”

“They got their money back and then some,” Yakov said. “You owe them nothing.”

“You know, they just wrapped me up in their family and made me theirs,” Victor said, looking past Chris’s shoulder as Chris drew the thin line along the top of his lash line.

“Yuuri’s family?” Chris asked, after a puzzled moment.

“It’s so strange,” Victor said. “They’re fantastic, and they love him dearly, and they’ve welcomed me with open arms, but I have no question at all why Yuuri is so anxious. They don’t say things with malice, but there’s always this little pull, this social pressure, this little seed of doubt. Yura had the right of it last night when he yelled. I adore his parents, but I wouldn’t see him live with them again. I think he drowns a little in his past anxiety when he’s there. I’m thinking about buying a place for us in Hasetsu for when we visit, so that we can just visit, and be guests. They’re nice to me the way you’re nice to Yuuri now.” The last was directed at Yakov.

“He’s polite, and he listens, and he was willing to throw his career away to bring you back to the ice,” Yakov said. “He got Yura working harder, and he learns quickly. And your skating has more emotional depth since you returned. Of course I’m nice to him. He’s not like the rest of you lumps who only respond when I scream.”

Chris pulled his hand away just in time to keep from jabbing Victor in the eye when Victor snorted.

“I love you, too, Yakov,” Victor said.

“You and Yura are as close to sons as I will ever have,” Yakov said, abruptly. “So you’d better.”

“Blink,” Chris said. “It has to dry before you can get weepy.”

“I hope Yuuri is using something waterproof,” Victor said, blinking rapidly. He pulled a pair of glasses out of his pocket. “Don’t let me forget to take these out there.”

Chris took the glasses out of Victor’s hand and slipped them into his own pocket. “Your wedding clothes don’t have pockets.”

“I told the designer not to because it would ruin the line,” Victor said. “The suit has pockets.”

Chris frowned. “Since when do you wear glasses?”

“They’re not mine,” Victor said.

“Anything else you need me to carry?” Chris asked, capping the eyeliner.

Victor nodded, and handed Chris his notes.

There was just enough time to get the quick-dry polish and top coat on and dried before it was time for Yuuri to put on what Yuuko had dubbed his “finery.” Yuuko and Hiroko stepped out; Phichit stayed, waiting for Yuuri to come out of the private bathroom. A drape separated them from the rink.

“I don’t know why you care about them seeing you in those boxer briefs you always… Yuuri!” Phichit stared as Yuuri walked back into the room. “Does your mother know you wear underwear like that? It’s like a glorified dance belt.”

“That’s because it’s basically a glorified dance belt,” Yuuri said, blushing furiously under his makeup. “Why do you think I sent them out? I knew you’d be bad enough about it.”

Phichit laughed. “I’m sure Victor will love it later. It’s just a side of you I don’t see very often.” He took the two-toned tank off the hanger and held it out.

“You’ve seen my ass a thousand times,” Yuuri said, sliding his arms into the tank and gingerly pulling it over his head without letting it touch his face or his hair. He put a foot up on a bar chair and snapped the crotch. “How are we on time?”

“Time enough for you to put your clothes on and warm up a little,” Phichit said. “It would be really stupid for you to go through all this trouble and pull a muscle skating without a warmup later.”

“We’re supposed to warm up while they’re tearing down to give us the full rink after,” Yuuri said.

“I’m glad you’re not trying to skate out to the altar,” Phichit said.

“Ha, no, me too,” Yuuri said. “I think it’s enough that we’re skating after. I’ve never seen Victor look quite so awkward as when he was trying to put on guards with no rail. And I nearly shook off my skates just standing there at the rehearsal.”

“I saw the little girls this morning. They’re so stinking cute I can’t stand it,” Phichit said. “They have these little flouncy lace skating costumes, in three different colors.”

Yuuri laughed. “Yuuko was so scared she’d mix them up when they were born that she color-coded them, and it’s stuck ever since.”

“You didn’t let me get a flouncy skating costume,” Phichit said. He was wearing the suit he always wore to banquets.

“There wasn’t time, and I didn’t know you wanted one,” Yuuri said.

“I didn’t know I wanted one until I saw theirs.” Phichit held out the trousers and Yuuri shook his head.

“I need those first.” Yuuri nodded at a package, and blushed.

Phichit raised an eyebrow and opened the package and shook out a pair of black silk thigh-high stockings and a couple of small suspenders.

“That dance belt…” Phichit asked.

“Has tabs for these to clip on,” Yuuri said, rolling the stockings on.

“Wait, did you shave?” Phichit asked.

“Hose are a pain if you don’t,” Yuuri said. He clipped the suspenders into the little tab pockets on his underwear and then clipped the other end of each to the top of the hose.

“Victor is a very lucky man,” Phichit said. “And I’m totally taking notes.”

“Like you’d ever let someone tie you down,” Yuuri said, and then stuttered, “I don’t mean… not like…”

Phichit lost it completely, laughing so hard that tears were running down his face. “I would totally let someone tie me down like that, but not the other way. But I’m only a babe of 20, not like you old men.”

“If the world wasn’t so fucked up right now, I’d have wanted to wait,” Yuuri said. “But with the way things are going…”

“Say no more,” Phichit said. “This is a happy day. You are marrying Victor Nikiforov.”

Yuuri blinked at him.

“This can’t be a shock to you,” Phichit said. “You just put on fuck-me hose for Victor.”

“Oh god. What if he wakes up and it’s like I’ve trapped him and he suddenly gets freaked out and…”

“Put your pants on,” Phichit said. “The man showed up naked in a hot tub with no warning. You are totally even on the grand, embarrassingly obsessive gestures.”

“I thought I was going to die of heart failure on the spot,” Yuuri said, pulling his trousers up. The silk twill was cool as it slipped against the stockings. “Oh my god, these clothes,” Yuuri said, rubbing a hand on his knee to feel the fabrics shift.

“Gotta put your jacket on,” Phichit said.

“Right!” Yuuri said, sticking his arms out for Phichit to slide the jacket on.

“Should I get your mother?” Phichit asked.

Yuuri blinked. “You should get my mother.”

“Are you losing your shit completely?”

“The shit is beyond lost,” Yuuri said.

“Right.” Phichit walked over to the door and opened it it. Yuuko and Minako were leaning against the far wall, speaking rapidly in Saga-ben with Hiroko, who stood with them, so fast that Phichit couldn’t catch a single word. “Yuuri’s decent now,” he said, and they looked at him.

“Right,” Minako said. “Freaking out?”

“Past that,” Phichit said. “I think he’s almost catatonic.”

Yuuko brushed past him. “Okay, Yuuri, you have your notes?”

Yuuri looked up at her and then down at his clothes. “I don’t have a pocket.” His forehead twisted with worry.

“That’s why I’m standing up there next to you. What do you need me to carry?” Phichit asked.

“I wrote a thing,” Yuuri said, rummaging in the pocket of his training jacket. “Here.” He held out a notecard.

“Yuuri, are you saying this to him in Japanese?” Phichit said, looking at the card.

“Oh god, I should translate it into Russian. I don’t speak Russian well enough. Oh my god, I should be able to speak Russian better by now!”

“English will be fine,” Hiroko said. She opened her handbag and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. “Go ahead and translate it now. You have time, and it will calm you. It’s not that long.”

Yuuri took a deep breath and got to work.

art by bowldeepfannish

Later, Yuuri would look back on the ceremony and remember it in snapshots, most of it a blur, but with moments standing out in sharp relief (helped by the amazing photography.)

Meeting Victor at the entrance to the rink before the music started, and being folded into one of the best hugs he’d ever experienced.

The little girls bouncing with excitement in their colorful little lace tutus and bows and their black patent Mary Janes.

Yuri giving each of them an unexpected hug before the music started, more hugs from Yuuri’s parents, and a gruff clap on the back from Yakov as they all went in to find their seats.

The music starting, so familiar to them now but new to most of their guests, and Christophe and Phichit making a grand show of linking arms to walk each other down the aisle before taking their places to each side of the minister.

Their vows were a blur in his memory until he looked at the video later. When he saw it on the screen, he could remember being there in the moment, listening to Victor talk about how he, Katsuki Yuuri, had transformed Victor from a shell of a man—a stage presence only—to a whole human being. He’d cried so hard his contacts had come out, and then had a shaking panic when the minister said it was his turn to talk and he took the paper of the English translation from Phichit only to discover he couldn’t even see the letters on the paper, his eyes were so blurry.

Things had cleared up suddenly—later he went to the video to figure out how, and saw Chris slapping something into Victor’s hand. Then, Victor tenderly setting Yuuri’s glasses on his nose so that he could see the paper.

And so, of course, nothing he’d said after had even been on the paper. He’d started with, “You keep on saving me, Victor Nikiforov, so it seems only fair if I saved you, too,” and that had gotten an affectionate chuckle from everyone in the room, and he’d looked over the words he’d written before, decided they were wholly inadequate, and spoken off the cuff anyway.

They’d only made one change to the actual vows they spoke after, a standard Western set of vows close enough to what they were both used to that they didn’t feel much need to change anything. But they did add, along with love, honor, and cherish, “support, respect, and defend.”

Nothing had ever felt truer.

Victor etched the whole thing in his memory and then went back over all the video later to make sure he’d gotten it right in his mind, that it had all happened the way he remembered, that it had really happened, that he’d gotten them both through with an acceptable number of tears and managed to get ahead of Yuuri’s absolutely inevitable panic attack. He’d cried more than he expected, but he didn’t mind.

Hearing Yuuri say, “I’ve only ever asked you to be yourself, because there is no one I’d rather you be,” was a balm to his soul. He’d heard much the same from Yuuri before, but really, one could never hear that too often when one had spent one’s whole life trying to fit one image or another.

And yes, maybe he was playing a part with Yuuri, too, but it was the part of his choosing, and that was part of who he was, this putting on and taking off of costumes, of roles. He’d been a lot of different people with Yuuri, and Yuuri had embraced every one that felt true. And if he finally figured out who exactly he was, he no longer had any doubt that Yuuri would love him regardless. “I am the one Yuuri loves” felt not just sufficient, in that moment, it felt like everything.

They both remembered Yuri fumbling in his pockets and swearing before handing over the rings.

And they both remembered clearly the moment their lips met after the minister said they could kiss, and the flower crowns dropping on their heads, but the bustle afterwards was a blur of music and laughter, of talking and dashing in to change for their performance.

(A literal blur for Yuuri, because Victor had stolen the glasses back for the kiss.)

Things got a little less fuzzy for Yuuri once they were warming up after, in their long-sleeved tops, flower crowns now more firmly anchored with clips, while the crew took the chairs and the runners and the ice swans that had been on either side of the aisle and the endless draped flowers, and shifted everything out of the way to make most of the rink open to them, draped and lit like an exhibition.

Putting on his skates always brought clarity, and this was no different. His bag had another pair of disposable contacts in it, which he put in for Victor’s sake. It was easier to be daring when you could see what you were doing, even if it was harder to be brave when you could see everyone watching you try.

But it had become clear, one of the only clear things in that moment, that the people who were there with them cared about them and did not take his faltering personally, just wanted him to succeed. He wrapped that feeling around his heart like a blanket while they skated together to warm up.

“Did we sign everything we needed to sign?” Yuuri suddenly asked Victor, as they turned together on the ice.

Victor laughed. “We did.”

They came back together for another move, and Yuuri said, “So we’re really married.”

Victor gave the widest, brightest smile Yuuri had ever seen, and nodded.

Yuuri couldn’t help but grin back.

As they glided off the ice to wait for everyone else to take their places, Victor said, “Oh, I got Yakov to agree to let Phichit stay after, so you have someone to hang out with at Europeans who isn’t competing. If I had my way, we’d run away together for the next six months and ignore everything, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to skate if you want to go to the Olympics.”

“Don’t you want to go?” Yuuri asked.

Victor shrugged. “I’ll go. I said I’d skate until then, but it’s mostly for you. I want to skate with you, but I honestly could have been done without the comeback and been okay.”

“You would have regretted it. Or at least, I’d always have wondered if you did. This way…”

“I don’t mind coming back. I did miss it a little. But this, with you, is more important to me than the ice ever could be,” Victor said.

Yuuri stared at him and was still stunned when he trailed Victor out on the ice to skate their combined programs to “On Love: Devotion.”

Victor’s choreography for his solo had been designed specifically to fit with Yuuri’s. It would be another week before their non-Russian guests would see it performed alone, and no one who saw them skate it together would ever forget Yuuri when watching Victor.

As Yuuri began the seductive opening moves of Eros, Victor’s gestures were worshipful. Their footwork took them dancing around each other, coming closer and pulling away. The spins were done in tandem. The only jump that was in unison was the triple axel; Victor’s lutz came early in the program, tied neatly in with the story of Yuuri’s footwork, and his quad flip triple toe preceded the slowing break that marked the transition to the second half. He kept the lutz to a triple, but no one batted an eye at downgrading a jump. Yuuri kept all of his to triples, but kept them in the second half of the program.  

Their ending sequence landed them in each other’s arms, breathless and happy.

As they skated off the ice, Yuuri said, “I forgot to dip you.”

“Later,” Victor said with a leer.

The skating after their program really was a blur, they were so wrapped up in each other. Phichit, Christophe, and Mila all skated their exhibition pieces individually, to the delight of the rest of their guests. Their attention returned to the ice when the little ones and Yuuko did something unspeakably cute in their lacy ruffled skating outfits in pink, purple and blue—Yuuko in black .

Yurio and Otabek had apparently been sneakily working with the little girls to pull together something Yakov called “schmaltzy” that made everyone cry again. Later, they would go over that performance on the video that Yuuri finally came to peace with over and over until they had it memorized, but in the moment it was haunting and sentimental and closed out the time at the rink on a suitably poignant note.

Yuuri was feeling so giddy already by the time they got back to the hotel for the small, informal reception that he didn’t dare take a drink. Something got under Yurio’s skin and he and Otabek disappeared early in the evening, but there was an impossibly large cake for their small wedding party, and dancing, and the triplets were buzzing so hard on the sugar that it felt like there were six of them.

Chris and Phichit both gave rambling, embarrassing speeches in excruciating detail—which they managed to ignore almost completely in favor of sitting snuggled on one of the cozy loveseats in the lounge they were using. Victor wrapped himself around Yuuri, and Yuuri leaned into it, threading his arm around Victor, closing his eyes and letting the warmth of the moment wash over him.

When it was time to eat dinner, Mari was nowhere to be found, but Hiroko did not seem the least bit concerned with her daughter’s absence. The mystery was solved when the wait staff served katsudon as the main course. The appetizers were reminiscent of Ivo’s cooking, but the katsudon was clearly the family recipe. Mari appeared looking mussed and triumphant to join them for the entrée.

“How long have you been planning this?” Yuuri asked her.

“Okaasan tried to insist she should do it, but as soon as we got the invitation, we thought you should have your favorite. This is, after all, the best gold you will ever get. You could win the Olympics and I don’t think it would top this.”

Victor laughed. “Careful, the last time we brought up gold medals, our dearest friends got grumpy at us.”

“You basically told us that none of the rest of us could win,” Chris said, and then took a bite of the food in front of him. His eyes widened, and he nodded and pointed at the dish, mouth too full to say anything more.

Mila, watching, laughed, saying, “I cannot believe you managed to make food so good that it shut Christophe up.”

“Take a bite,” Victor said.

She took a small one and blinked. “Dash ermayshing” she said around the mouthful.

Off to one side in the dining room, Hailey was sitting, going over something on her tablet. Victor called over, “Oh, Hailey, did Ivo have something to do with the rest of the meal?”

She looked up and smiled. “I talked to him and your sister on the same day, and we all ended up on a conference call with the hotel. Mari-san was so helpful yesterday with the prep for the tonkatsu, and Ivo designed the rest of the menu.”

When Yuuko finally dragged the little girls off to bed, Christophe said to Victor, “I’m shocked you two are still here. Don’t you get to go debauch each other now?”

Phichit overheard, and leaned over to whisper something in Victor’s ear. Victor’s eyes widened and he said, “Christophe, you’re brilliant.”

The conversation finally registered for Yuuri, who blushed and said, “Everyone is terrible.”

“Yes, but you’re going to come upstairs with me now, right?” Victor said hopefully.

At that, Yuuri grinned, and sighed, and stood up. “I need to say goodbye first, they’re all leaving in the morning.”