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“FUCK this fucking flying lady!” Viktor shouted, frantically clicking the mouse and smashing keys at random as his character—beautiful, perfect Zarya—fell over dead. The screen read, YOU WERE ELIMINATED BY XXJOEBLOW69. How mature, Viktor thought, and fuck your mother.

“That’s Pharah. Throw up your barriers, they'll protect you and raise your attack if you get hit!” Yuuri’s voice came through the speakers in group chat half a second after it rang from the living room, where he and Yurio had set up their laptops and USB mice on the coffee table while Viktor used the computer in his office.

“Also, language!” Yurio snapped. “If I don’t get to say ‘fuck’ in this apartment, neither do you!”

“I used my fucking barriers and she still got me,” Viktor muttered.

“You could always change to somebody who’s stronger against her if she keeps singling you out. Widowmaker can snipe her out of the sky if your aim is good,” Yuuri explained in the same tone he’d used the last several times he brought up Viktor playing a different character. Was it Viktor’s imagination, or did Yuuri’s patience seem a bit strained?

“No. No. Noooo way. I am staying on Team Gay Russians, and nothing you say can stop me.” Zarya respawned and Viktor moved her into the portal Yuuri’s Symmetra had set up. He stepped out near the defense point and promptly took a Discord Orb from an enemy robot (What was that one called? He could only remember what he, Yuuri, and Yurio played so far. And was impossibly cute.) before Yurio’s Tracer dashed in and destroyed the robot in a neat burst of gunfire.

“You make up Team Gay Russians all by yourself.”

“Shut the hell up, Yurio.”

“That is not my name and it’s not my fault you suck at this.”

Viktor was thankful to have a wall between him and Yurio at that moment. Frustrated as he was, he still didn’t want either Yurio or Yuuri to see how his face twisted in anger at the insult. It was just a game. His failure to become a pink-haired, lesbian death machine was not going to reflect badly on him as a person. And yet...

Yurio.” For some reason, Yuuri was the only one exempt from Yurio’s ire at the nickname. “He’s trying. Let him learn.”

“Then maybe he should try learning to be a character he doesn’t suck at. Our Mercy may as well be AFK, their Bastion keeps taking out your and Torb’s turrets before they can hurt anybody, and I’m sick of carrying this team,” Yurio grouched.

Truth be told, Viktor wasn’t exactly invested in this Overwatch business in the first place. He didn’t play many video games at all, even as a kid. But gaming was a major hobby for Yuuri, who had gotten addicted to Overwatch on its beta weekends back in Detroit after he failed at the GPF and Japanese Nationals. The return to training later that spring meant Yuuri couldn’t find time or energy to play when the game officially launched during the lead-up to the Grand Prix series, but after moving to Saint Petersburg and dominating at Four Continents he had become more confident in his skating abilities and unpacked his gaming mouse again.

Within days, Yuuri had dragged Yurio into playing with him, and that left Viktor more or less by himself in the evenings. He had tried to observe over their shoulders but found he couldn’t understand what was going on, and his questions were met with tense, one-word answers. This was not, Viktor had sulked to himself, the way he had imagined moving in with the love of his life. So, in possibly his most over-confident attempt to be close to Katsuki Yuuri since he had stood naked in a hot spring and promised victory at the Grand Prix, he bought the game and made an account.

Viktor’s back couldn’t handle hunching over his laptop at the coffee table like Yuuri and Yurio, so he set up in his office, a space which previously he had only used for Skyping with sponsors, costume designers, and composers. It made up for its physical isolation with the promise of virtual fiancé bonding time. Yuuri had cheerfully offered pointers during the tutorial and suggested that Viktor might enjoy playing as since she would balance well with Yuuri and Yurio’s mains. But no, adorable as was, Viktor was determined to be Zarya the second he caught a glimpse of her name and her pink hair. And so Team Gay Russians (team captain: Aleksandra Zaryanova, head cheerleader: Viktor Nikiforov) was born. “Playing with you is going to be so fun, Vitya!” Yuuri had declared, and Viktor had kissed him without another thought.

The problem was that Viktor was, apparently, terrible at video games. Even after three days of playing for hours every evening, he couldn’t remember the keys to press, and borrowing Yuuri’s gaming mouse with its shortcut buttons just made everything more confusing. Despite Yuuri’s gentle suggestions and Yurio’s increasingly angry demands that Viktor try a different character, he felt committed to Zarya at this point, as if giving up now would be abandoning some implicit promise he’d made to the character. He also suspected, in the small part of him that wasn’t devoted to dramatics, that choosing a new character wouldn’t make him any better at the game.

Viktor died eight more times before the match ended. He’d been shot, frozen, blown up, and smashed with a giant hammer. He managed to kill the floating robot once, but seconds later he walked right into a bear trap and died in an exploding tire fire. Despite all this, the rest of the team eventually banded together and dragged Viktor along to a win in overtime.

As soon as the match ended, the chat flooded with quick “good game” messages, Yuuri’s username among them. Viktor opened the chat box and typed his own: “gg that was close.” The Play of the Game screen appeared. The enemy flying lady—what was it? Pharah!—had achieved a full party kill with her ultimate attack early in the match. As the replay ended, a username popped up that Viktor was pretty sure belonged to the dwarf on his team.

[Torbs8Kids]: zarya git gud or kys

“Oh, HELL no!” Yurio yelled so loudly the speakers crackled.

[YKatsudon]: calm down he’s new
[plisetskitty]: stfu
[Torbs8Kids]: KYS ZARYA
[Torbs8Kids]: not carrying some noob too stupid to play

Viktor felt his teeth clench involuntarily. He forced himself to look away from the chat just in time to click Yurio’s card for MVP. What did it matter if somebody thought he was bad at a game? He was just trying to hang out with his fiancé, not win anything. Yuuri’s voice came softly over the speakers.

“Vitya. If you right-click their name, you can block them and won’t see them talk anymore. You can report them for abusive language too, if you want. Or I could do it.”

“Beat you to it,” said Yurio. “They told you to kill yourself. Twice. Who even does that?”

“It’s fine, Yura,” Viktor answered, his still-clenched jaw belying the calm he was trying to project in his voice. “It’s just a game.”

“Well, they’re the one who wants people to commit suicide over ‘just a game,’ so fuck ‘em.”

“Language,” Viktor and Yuuri responded in unison.

“Shut up, you’re not my dads.”

The character selection screen for the next match loaded, but Viktor didn’t feel up to clicking on Zarya again.

“Hey, could we take a break?” he asked. He closed out of the program without waiting for an answer, standing and stretching until his back and shoulders popped. By the time Viktor strolled into the living room, Yuuri had closed his laptop and moved from the floor to the sofa. Yurio, however, insisted on playing another match, especially once he realized Torbs8Kids had been shuffled to the opposing team.

“Who needs to get good now, asshole?” he muttered, chuckling darkly as Tracer teleported behind the Torbjorn and whittled his HP down to nothing before he could react.

Yuuri patted the sofa cushion next to him and Viktor sank down gratefully, swinging his legs across Yuuri’s lap. They rested their foreheads together and slowly felt their breathing sync up. Even now, after months of being romantically involved, weeks of living in the same apartment, Viktor could hardly contain the happiness that flooded through him every time Yuuri offered affection. How was this his life? How was this going to be the rest of his life?

“I’m sorry,” Yuuri murmured. “I know you were just trying to spend time with me, and it wasn’t even fun for you. I’ll try to play less.” He craned his neck to place a kiss on the top of Viktor’s head.

“No, it’s okay. It helps you relax. I don’t want to interfere with that.”

“Other things help me relax too, you know,” Yuuri countered, keeping his voice low. Yurio overheard anyway and gagged, loudly and repeatedly.

"I know, but that can't be the only thing we do with our evenings, can it?" Viktor practically purred. Yurio's gagging took on a new level of theatricality.

“Although…” Yuuri looked thoughtful. “Maybe Overwatch just isn’t your kind of game? I brought my old Wii with me from Japan. We could just all play together in real life, no internet trolls. Have you ever tried Mario Kart?”

Viktor grinned. “No, but I can’t be worse than I was as Zarya. Let’s set it up.”

Thirty minutes later, Yuuri was staring at the TV in disbelief.

“How the… NIKIFOROV! Did you just nail me with a GREEN SHELL for the THIRD FUCKING TIME?”

Viktor and Yurio shared a look of absolute delight before they answered, in perfect harmony, “Language!”