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Let it be known that Yuri is equal parts possessive and shy when it comes to his public relationship with Katsuki Yuuri.

 

Maybe shy isn't the right word, because he's not embarrassed in the least to be with the man (even if the man himself can be embarrassing at times). He's just not a very public person, especially when it comes to certain matters, like well, anything related to his actual emotions. It's a distinction that only he can see the line for, and only he seems to know what he is and isn’t okay with announcing to the universe. And Yuuri with his endless patience and quiet understanding maintains a blessed complacency, and lets Yuri decide what he is and isn’t comfortable with sharing and doing. It only endears Yuri further to his sweet boyfriend.

 

They'd gone public not long after he and Yuuri had moved into their apartment, and since then Yuri had taken to snapping pictures of Yuuri in every conceivable activity life could provide. Some of these he shared on his social media so he could publicly fawn over and tease his boyfriend, but others were definitely reserved for his eyes alone. There were some not even Yuuri knew existed (lest the man become embarrassed and try to delete them). He had even posted selfies of himself and Yuuri, of the two kissing, holding hands, pretty much anything that brought that cute blush to Yuuri’s cheeks and made Yuri grin like a fat cat.

 

So as they spend their lives together, Yuri slowly - reluctantly - learned how to share his boyfriend with the world. Relinquishes his avaricious grasp on the way Yuuri’s eyes dart away when he smiles, the way he stretches and hums softly when he wakes up in their bed, and the gleam of golden hues that light up his face as they walk by the riverside. It’s difficult to let that knowledge spread to the world, but he is caught by the fact that he wants to advertise his love for Yuuri in equal measure. Inspire jealousy and envy, because he won. Nobody else. And Yuri was never going to let go of Yuuri now that he had him.

 

Either way it wasn't like he had a choice. Yuuri was undeniably easy to love, and both the world at large and their closer friends and competitors seemed keen on stealing all of Yuuri’s time away from the Russian. Something that, in the beginning, had driven him into bouts of sullen anger and pettiness. But Yuri knew the importance of not depending wholly on one another. They both needed their respective friends and family, because their worlds could not revolve solely around each other. Even if they considered one another to be the sun of their universe, there were other people who cared about them and wanted to be included in their orbit. It was just difficult to release his grip at first.

 

Yuri had been unspeakably terrified that Yuuri would grow tired of his recalcitrant nature, and realize that Yuri wasn't worth sticking around for. That Yuuri would disappear back to Detroit like a ghost. Or even worse, remain in St. Petersburg to haunt Yuri with his golden smiles and quiet laughter, where Yuri could not touch and kiss and love him as Yuuri deserved.

 

Needless to say Yuuri knew exactly the path those thoughts took in Yuri’s head. Had even revealed that he suffered from the same gnawing anxiety and doubt that Yuri was feeling. And he had enough experience to help erode the foundation of those fears, until Yuri was confident in the fact that despite Yuuri having friends and family outside of Yuri, his boyfriend would always come back home to him. Yuri in turn showed Yuuri every single day that he would not abandon him, that he loved every inch and flaw that comprised his beautiful boyfriend.

 

They're laying in bed after training when the revelation comes to Yuri.

 

Things come easier to the both of them when the lights are low and their tongues are loose with drowsiness. Words seem softer, easier to say, when shadows dance across their faces and judgment seems to fizzle away beneath the events of the day.

 

Yuuri has his back tucked up against Yuri’s chest as he does every night, gently lacing and unlacing their fingers. Idle hands, Yuri thinks fondly as he playfully tries to squeeze his fingers around Yuuri to try and trap his hand there. It only serves to make Yuuri withdraw faster, and they entertain themselves with this game of cat and mouse for a few sleepy minutes. Until Yuri makes a noise of discontent and grabs Yuuri’s hand, drawing him closer and burying his face in Yuuri’s dark hair. Yuuri settles easily in his arms as he happily gives up the game in favor of cuddling. Yuri gently swipes his thumb across the ridges and valleys of the hand he holds captive, caressing slowly. I guess I have idle hands too.

 

“Love you Yura,” Yuuri mutters softly in a voice already thickening with approaching sleep. He never fails to say it every night, even if it's just over text when they were miles apart waiting for the next competition. It seems to reassure him to say it nightly, to voice his feelings for Yuri like he’s afraid he won’t say it often enough.

 

“Love you too,” Yuri mumbles, not bothering to hide the twitch of his smile in the dark. He hadn't been able to say it freely for a long time, too embarrassed and overwhelmed to say something so precious - something he'd only ever said to his grandfather - every single day. Yuuri had never asked it of him though, and so Yuri had slowly grown more confident in his utterances of it. His cheeks still flush beneath the light of day when he says it sometimes, but it's always worth it to see the answering blush in Yuuri’s cheeks, the way his eyes glitter for a while after as he smiles.

 

Yuuri drifts off to sleep, but Yuri doesn't stop brushing his thumb gently across Yuuri’s hand. Lingers unsteadily on a finger that had once held a golden ring, an unrequited question. His mind stutters over itself, a voice suddenly whispering.

 

What if he had a ring again?

 

It's like a kick to the chest, and he can scarcely breathe. Where the fuck had that come from?

 

They'd been together for three years, had known each other for even longer. It seemed so small a time in comparison to his grandfather’s relationship, but perhaps that wasn't the best model considering the years that had passed since that time. Even Yuuri had presented rings to Victor in their first year, regardless of his intention behind the jewelry.

 

Why was he even justifying the idea?!

 

Yuri draws his sleeping boyfriend closer, trying to calm his skipping heart.

 

If he was honest...it wasn't an unpleasant thought. His ring on Yuuri. A physical testament to their devotion. Something to show off, to kiss and display proudly. Something he could use to smugly ward off the men and women who flocked to Yuuri, fawning over his foreign features and shy, blushing cheeks.

 

But it was more than a temporary fixture, it was a promise for more. Marriage. Vows. Unity recognized by the law.

 

They were still young. Yuri was 22, and Yuuri was 26. But...Yuri didn't want anyone else. And maybe that was forward of him, but he knew Yuuri felt the same. Neither were the type to play around, and while they'd undoubtedly had their knock-out-drag-down fights in their years together, it had never changed anything.

 

Marrying Yuuri…

 

Yuuri in a beautiful suit, Yuuri with a wedding band on his finger, Yuuri undoubtedly hiccuping his vows through happy tears. Quietly murmuring his vows for Yuri, gliding on the dance floor in Yuri’s arms.

 

Yuuri being his forever. Being able to call him his fiancé, his husband.

 

The thought alone was enough to leave him shaken and wanting. This was something he would have to explore further. Now that it had crossed his mind, Yuri wouldn't be able to let it go.

 

He falls asleep smiling over the fact that they would have the same name, Yuuri tangled peacefully in his arms.

 

------

 

Yuri doesn't have a death wish, so he avoids bringing it up to Victor, Mila, or Georgi. He contemplates waiting to ask his grandfather, but he's been biting at the bit all day and he can't stand the idea of waiting. So when Lilia spirits him away to practice his forms on the barre, Yuri seizes the opportunity.

 

It's not easy to cajole the woman into a talkative mindset, and he suffers a few insults for not paying wholehearted attention to his stretches. But Yuri won't give up, until he eventually just spits it out.

 

“I was thinking about proposing. To Yuuri.”

 

Lilia looks utterly stupefied, and Yuri can't help his smug pleasure over that. She wasn't an easy woman to surprise, after all. Except his preening shatters when her eyes begin to water, and he falls out of his stretch more than coming out of it, hurrying over nervously.

 

“Lilia? Are you okay?” God he's not even sure what to say, he feels immediately guilty for... whatever it was he'd said or done. But Lilia waves him away sharply, primly thumbing away her tears and offering a rare smile.

 

“No, no. I just...I am very happy for you, Yuri. It is an honor to see you two together, and I am touched you would tell me. But why?” Her eyes slowly sharpen, pinning Yuri in place as her emotions give way to logic. He squirms, because he knows exactly why he's telling her, but he doesn't want to say it. It might be easier with Yuuri in his life, but that doesn't mean it's easy . Yuri stares down at the faded, scuffed black of his ballet shoes and breathes shallowly through his nose.

 

“I...Lilia, you know you are like a mother to me,” he whispers, and it's like a shout in the quiet expanse of the training room, the once-lovely acoustics reflecting his admission back at him in perfect clarity.

 

Just as it reflects back to his ears the quiet sound of Lilia’s hitching breaths. Her tears startle him twice as bad after seeing them twice so quickly, and when she takes a sure step towards him ( Lilia is never clumsy, even now ) Yuri meets her halfway in an embrace. They hang onto one another for a few long moments, and neither mention the other’s tears.

 

Lilia is an imperfect woman. She is harsh and unforgiving in many things. But she had been devoted to his training, to him, since he was a foul-mouthed teenager with no respect or gratitude. She had opened her home to him. Fed and clothed him. Took him to operas, ballets, and even relented to bringing him to action movies at the local cinema. Yuri hadn't had a mother, but he'd had her. And maybe it was a little late in life, but it didn't change how he felt for her.

 

When they finally part and wipe their eyes, giving each other the privacy they both desire, Lilia claps her hands sharply and smiles.

 

“Now, tell me what you're thinking. But first, get back on the barre.”

 

Yuri grumbles but turns back to the barre, adjusting his angles with each reminding tap of Lilia’s hands as he begins to speak.

 

“I haven't thought about it very much,” he admits, and Lilia snorts and shakes her head.

 

“Of course not. Are you sure about asking him at all?”

 

Yuri remains silent, feeling the give and flex of his adductors.

 

“Yes. I...I can't see myself with anybody but him. He drives me crazy sometimes but I...I love him, you know? He makes me better and I don't want him to be with anyone else either,” Yuri grumbles, cheeks flushing even as his lips pull into a defensive scowl. Lilia sees right through him and she smiles slightly, tracing her fingers along the wood grain of the barre.

 

“Do you know when? How you intend to ask him? Have you brought it up at all, to ensure he's amicable prior to the surprise? Communication is key Yuri, it is not as the media presents it.”

 

Yuri grumbles to himself, because god damn it she's right and no he hadn't thought of that! But he knows Lilia, and so he doesn't answer right away. What she wants from him is a direct, thought out answer. Not excuses.

 

“Now that I know I want to I want to do it soon, but I haven't brought it up to him yet. I was so wrapped up in the idea of him being my fiancé…” the blush returns fiercely, and his hands flex angrily on the barre.

 

Lilia remains silent, and Yuri knows she's expecting him to keep thinking. He does, even as she sharply instructs him across the room. These wooden floors had known his most tangled thoughts anyway, and it's easy to fall into the rhythm of the music and the thoughts in his head. Until he spins in a loose pirouette and settles in fifth, staring at himself in the mirrors. Stares himself down, searching his face and heart for the answers.

 

Lilia doesn't ask him to move, standing silently off to the side. Waiting.

 

“I know how I want to ask him. But I need to see if he's even okay with the idea, and...I need a ring.”

 

The smile that crosses Lilia’s face is absolutely gleeful.

 

“Then let us begin!”

 

------

 

When he returns to the rink he's exhausted. Lilia never did go easy, but she'd wanted an excuse to keep him longer to talk and was not the type to believe in idle feet or empty hours that could be spent working.

 

Yuuri is still on the ice.

 

His bright eyes are trained on Yakov even as he skates a perfect backwards figure, listening to the gruff instructions the man is calling across the rink. Then he smiles and nods, and goes back to running through that part of his program when Yakov switches the music back on.

 

Yuri could watch him skate for days.

 

His new program theme was elegance, and Yuri was fucking ecstatic about that. So was Lilia, who had dug her perfectly manicured nails into the skater with gleeful proprietariness. She'd been nagging him for years to show more of his dancing abilities on the ice, and had often sighed enviously and muttered to herself on the sidelines. “What a Swan I would have made of him,” she would mutter longingly. Those comments had only become more satisfied and plentiful when she watched his new program. Yuri honestly couldn't blame her, because Yuuri was gorgeous going through the steps of his program.

 

He's so lost in his thoughts that he doesn't notice Yakov finally dismissing Yuuri. Yuri jerks when Yuuri kneels in front of him, peering curiously at him where he sits on the bench. They both smile simultaneously, and Yuuri reaches out to gently brush his chilled fingers across the curve of Yuri’s brow and temple.

 

“You seem tired, Yura, did Madame work you too long?” His sweet, quiet concern makes Yuri’s heart squeeze with painful affection. With engagement so prominently on his mind it's difficult to bite back the words, suddenly wanting to say them right then and there.

 

“I think she was pissed she didn't get to work with you today,” he teases instead, summoning a tired smirk. It's worth it to see the self-conscious blush on his beloved’s face, the way he sputters and quietly denies as if Lilia wouldn't kill ten men with her bare hands to get Yuuri to give up his skates.

 

Yuuri seems to notice his wandering thoughts. He places his hands on Yuri’s knees and tilts his head, something warm and happy on his face.

 

“Do you want to go home?”

 

Yuri smiles, already imagining the near future. They always cooked dinner together unless it was one of their mini date nights, and then they would curl up on the couch with Svetlana and catch up as they ate. Showers together, maybe more depending on moods. And an empty night to be filled with any multitude of things, until they fell into bed together, tangled up together until morning came.

 

“Yeah. Let’s go home.”

 

Yuri grabs Yuuri’s hands as he stands, lifting him from the floor and spinning them until Yuuri is the one sitting. Hands already moving to unlace the black skates on his boyfriend’s feet.

 

“Off with the skates, then.”

 

------

 

He brings it up as they're making dinner together. A stew, because Yuuri always insisted on excessive use of vegetables. Yuri doesn't mind too much, not when they comfortably move around each other in the kitchen. It's pure sappy domestic bliss, and if Yuri is particularly handsy and affectionate because of it, well Yuuri doesn't seem to have any objections.

 

Yuri doesn't bring it up very tactfully but that had never been in his vocabulary anyway.

 

They're standing in front of the stove, Yuuri stirring the last few ingredients in as Yuri wraps his arms loosely around Yuuri’s waist, cheek pressed against wayward black tresses.

 

“You ever thought about marriage, katsudon?”

 

Again, not very tactful. Luckily Yuuri was also pretty oblivious in contrast, because he just giggles a little under his breath and stirs the pot in a steady rhythm.

 

“Katsudon again? What happened to うさぎ?” It's a playful comment, and Yuri pinches his hip until Yuuri squeaks and laughs quietly.

 

“No, seriously. Have you thought about it? Even that asshat Canadian finally tied the knot last year,” he grumbles, recalling how Yuuri had gone to the wedding and dragged a very reluctant Yuri as his plus one. Unfortunately his boyfriend had taken a liking to the arrogant man after his flop in Barcelona, always evading the topic of how they mysteriously became friends. But it was a good distractor, just enough to keep Yuuri from being too suspicious about why he was asking for the time being.

 

Yuuri reaches for the lid on the counter, tapping the spoon off and setting it aside and sliding the cover into place before spinning in Yuri’s arms and looking up at him.

 

“What's this about? I mean I've thought about it. It's...it would mean a lot to me to be married, I had a lot of fun at JJ’s wedding,” Yuuri admits, eyes dropping in embarrassment at the confession. Yuri walks them backward until they lean up against the island that presses into his lower back.

 

“Have you thought about uh...what I mean to say is…” Yuri grinds his teeth angrily and looks up to the ceiling, stomach squirming nervously. Jesus this is hard, it wasn’t this hard when I asked him out was it?

 

“Yuri?”

 

Yuuri’s concerned voice brings him back, and he stares down at the shades of brown and copper that flicker back and forth between his own green eyes, Yuuri clearly searching for something that he couldn’t find. It makes it easier to say, looking at Yuuri’s earnest expression and the habitual purse to his lips when he was concerned.

 

“Have you ever thought about...about us getting married?”

 

And there it is finally. The question, laid bare.

 

Yuuri blinks owlishly at him, and for a second they just sit and stare at each other like they're both shocked by what was just said.

 

And then out of nowhere Yuuri’s face goes brilliantly red and he buries his face in his hands abruptly. Yuri startles and tightens his arms instinctively. Look what you did, idiot. You broke him.

 

“Yuuri?!”

 

The man just shakes his head feverishly and staunchly says nothing, palms pressed hard against his face. Hiding away from Yuri. Yuri lifts a hand and gently removes Yuuri’s from his face, feeling nervous and uncertain now with the reaction he’d received. Until he reveals Yuuri’s shy expression as his hands fall away, leaving stained cheeks behind; at least this is familiar to him. He waits until Yuuri speaks, not sure what to say himself.

 

“I...yes I have,” is all Yuuri squeaks when he eventually finds his tongue again. It's enough to make Yuri grin though, to ease the tension that had been building in his shoulders. He draws Yuuri closer smugly, shuffling his feet apart until Yuuri leans in against him in the Yuri space created for him between his thighs.

 

“I have too,” he admits quietly, smiling crookedly when Yuuri finally meets his eyes again. It seems to give Yuuri the same amount of courage.

 

“Really? Um...marrying? Marrying me?” Even with all the progress they'd made together, Yuuri still did not see his own worth sometimes. Even when Yuri had said over and over through his actions and words who are you, who is my beloved? And Yuuri had slowly learned to say I am, I'm your beloved. But it hadn't been an easy route, that kind of open affection and support, and some vein of anxiety would always run through Yuuri’s chest. It was embedded in the foundation of his character.

 

So Yuri takes the opportunity to do it again, to prove all over again that he does care.

 

“Yes, marrying you. I've been thinking about it, and I wanted to see...what you thought? If that was something you wanted? If...if you can see yourself with me, forever?” His voice wavers at the end, at the vulnerability he's subjecting himself too.

 

While Yuuri had his anxiety and doubt to battle against, Yuri had his fear of weakness and vulnerability.

 

It's eased when Yuuri’s face turns red again, as it so often does, but his smile is shy and gleaming like burnished gold.

 

“Of course I do,” Yuuri whispers, happiness radiating from his face.

 

Yuri laughs and hikes Yuuri up against his body in one strong lift, and the ensuing kiss is broken by their grins but it's sweet and feels like a promise.

 

------

 

After they talk about it, Yuri really can’t get it off his mind. It’s an addiction, and he can’t help envisioning it whenever he so much as glances at Yuuri. Imagining his face when Yuri kneels on one knee, or the way his hand would shine with Yuri’s ring on it.

 

Yuuri seems both confused, embarrassed, and smug beneath all the attention Yuri is giving him. It really does dangerous things to Yuri, to see Yuuri flourish and thrive beneath his shamelessly proprietary stares. They’d never had a problem keeping up a ‘spark’ in their relationship considering their personalities, but it’s a head rush nonetheless.

 

Yuuri had admonished him a few times in the past for his inclination towards possessiveness. No matter how secure it made Yuuri feel, neither wanted it to get too out of control. Still Yuri could feel it writhing happily in his chest, curling up the lines of his neck to whisper smoky delights in his ears. Mine, mine, he’s mine, I won. Nobody else will ever be able to do this for him. I get to keep him forever.

 

Of course he thinks Yuuri is the greatest person to belong to - belong with. He’d been half in love with the man since he was a gangly teenager still figuring out his quads.

 

On the other hand, though Yuuri is surely suspicious of the thoughts that are running through Yuri’s head and why he is being so handsy and possessive, his boyfriend isn’t curious enough to ask. Or maybe he just wasn’t willing to expend that kind of energy to try and reign in Yuri’s radiating self-satisfaction. Instead, Yuuri soaks in the attention like a sponge. Reveling in Yuri’s closeness, his touches, the glares he angles at any man or woman whose eyes linger too long.

 

Over the course of their relationship, Yuri’s protectiveness had diminished. He’d stopped holding onto Yuuri so tightly with both hands. The fear of losing him, of Yuuri moving on or gently letting him down, had faded with the comforting stability of their enduring relationship. Especially once Yuuri had sat him down and tentatively held his hands - still unsure, still remembering Yuri’s explosive temper that he’d used to conceal his embarrassment - and assured Yuri that he didn’t plan on going anywhere. That he found nobody else as attractive and engaging as Yuri, who didn’t baby him or treat him like a child because of his insecurities. Who demanded more of him, setting the bars higher because Yuri knew that Yuuri could reach them.

 

It had been both a revelation and a relief to realize that he made Yuuri a better person too.

 

------

 

Yuri tells Yakov next. It goes...pretty much the same as Lilia, amusingly enough. At least Yuri is better prepared for the emotional tears, this time. Though he can’t escape the curious stares from the rest of the skaters when Yakov sniffles his way through the remainder of practice, dewy-eyed and proud. He’ll have to tell them sometime, but for now he wants to keep it a secret from the gossip-hungry group he reluctantly aligns himself with.

 

It was such a big change in his life to even consider marriage, and he wanted to keep Yuuri all to himself - that was exactly why he wanted to be engaged in the first place. Yuri didn’t want to be rushed or pressured, as the rest of the Russian skaters undoubtedly would once they caught wind of his plans. Or Georgi would die in a puddle of romantic ecstasy, really it could go either way. Yuri couldn’t say he wasn’t tempted for that sole reason.

 

------

 

Life goes on as normal. They still bring it up to each other in the littlest phrases and questions, smiling at each other with pink cheeks. But plans are still loosely forming, the vague idea of engagement just an intermittent thought for the both of them. Yuri is more invested in it already considering he wants to be the one to propose, but they don’t focus on it too heavily. Yuuri seemed happy to let Yuri take things at his pace, and Yuri didn’t bother asking why when he already knew.

 

Still, Yuri can’t get it off his mind, and it bleeds into his daily actions slowly but surely. He can’t help but skate up on Yuuri’s inside leg as they do lazy circles, one hand drifting to Yuuri’s to tangle their gloved fingers together. Yuuri smiles at him endearingly, exasperated fondness in his eyes because Yakov is sure to yell at them to stop messing around once he notices. He doesn’t object though, letting Yuri lead him around the rink. Their hands pull at one another, a tug-of-war across the ice as they hide their grins.

 

Until Mila comes skating up quickly behind them, shouting “ Вожатый-вожатый!” as she breaks through their hands like an Olympic runner. Yuri stumbles, but Yuuri is giggling over to the side.

 

“Баба!” He shouts across the rink, skating after her. She squeals and skates faster, laughing. Yuuri is laughing on the side of the rink where he, Georgi, and Victor have taken cover from their antics.

 

“Yura, Mr. Feltsman will be unhappy if you don’t warm up,” Yuuri speaks up eventually, amused and smiling. Yuri grumbles and hisses hatefully but allows Yuuri advance onto the ice to pull him away from Mila’s grinning, mocking face. He flips her off as Yuuri takes him by the hand, but her eyes just glint with victory.

 

“Yuri is whipped!” She crows across the ice, and Yuri nearly dislocates Yuuri’s shoulder as he turns and shouts abuse at her. Yuuri huffs at his side, and yanks Yuri back to his proper place with a deadly calm look on his face. Yuri immediately goes mute, even though he casts venomous glances at Mila. He’s more afraid of Yuuri’s angry-smile than Mila’s potential to blackmail him with this.

 

“Yuri,” is all that Yuuri says, and the lack of the diminutive is frankly terrifying with how he speaks it so pleasantly in contrast, a tiny smile on his lips at odds with the sharp look in his eyes. It reminds Yuri of Katsuki Hiroko, and he goes mum beneath Yuuri’s stare. Yuuri keeps it up for a few seconds and then his smile turns into the one Yuri knows so well, and Yuri knows he gets to live another day. Yuuri leans up and kisses his cheek, squeezing his hand and skating away, tossing over his shoulder “Don’t let Mr. Feltsman catch you slacking, Yura!”

 

Victor’s cackling is too hard to ignore, and Yuri hisses at him as he moves to return to his warmups. Yeah, maybe he was whipped. But Yuuri was also terrifying with his silent anger and disappointment, and he’d still marry that man even if it meant putting up with having his pirozhki rights being taken away for a month. Or worse, sleeping on the couch.

 

And if that wasn’t true love, well. True love could suck it then.

 

------

 

Lilia looks infinitely pleased when Yuri updates her on his progress with Yuuri during their next session, and produces a list of jewelers from seemingly nowhere as if she’d been stashing it like a jealous squirrel somewhere in the training room. It’s overwhelming to say the least, but she’s a sharp woman and sits him down at the end of the session and just...asks what he wants in a stream of questions that break down his goals a lot faster than struggling through preset designs.

 

“Gold, white gold, or silver?”

 

That’s an easy one at least.

 

“Gold. It would look better on him.” That has far too many meanings considering their careers, and he doesn’t miss the pointed look Lilia shoots him. He just hunches his shoulders up near his ears and waits for the next question.

 

“Do you want more than one band, a braided band?”

 

“No...it’s distracting.”

 

“Gemstones?”

 

Here Yuri hesitates, because he’s genuinely not sure. As much as he hated to recall that period of time, Yuuri’s and Victor’s rings had been plain gold bands.

 

“Maybe? Depends on what it would look like,” he grumbles softly, hating how inarticulate and confused he was about something so simple. He’d never worn jewelry in the past, and so he had only a vague notion of how they appeared and what styles were more popular. Not that he cared about popularity or price. He just wanted something that reflected Yuuri’s personality and their relationship together.

 

Yuri watches Lilia shuffle the papers again, striking out a few with a black pen or just discarding full sheets entirely. She wouldn’t let him see them yet, not that he minded. The questions alone were already enough to contend with.

 

It was just so much easier to imagine engagement in terms of devotion and physical representation of love. The rest of it, societally driven though it was and could therefore be ignored if he really wanted, was a tangled briar of decisions. Where normally he would have given up, grown irritated, or decided on spontaneity, Yuri can’t do that now. Won’t. Yuuri deserved the engagement of his dreams, of their dreams. Yuri intended on being the first and last person to ever ask those four words of Yuuri, and he wanted it to be as perfect and memorable as he could make it.

 

So he suffers through Lilia’s badgering, even as his mind wanders past the hum of her questions and the examples she points out to him. Imagining Yuuri’s warm smile as he waits for Yuri to return from his practice, or the way their hands fit so perfectly together on the walk home. Maybe they would go out tonight, walk the streets in the fading light and bicker at each other playfully. Yuuri’s eyes would be bright with concealed amusement, smiling behind the palm of his hand as if his beauty is anything but a gift to everyone who is lucky enough to witness it.

 

“You are a fool in love, Yura,” Lilia’s voice cuts through his thoughts. He jerks, immediately wary and apologetic in equal measure for having drifted so far away from her when she was putting forth the effort to help him. Instead he stares at her softened features, the wistful edge to her words, and scoffs in embarrassment as he stares down at his feet.

 

“Is that an insult? You haven’t called me a fool in a while,” he points out.

 

Lilia stands, tucking away her papers primly, making Yuri look up. She pats his cheek firmly before cupping his cheek as she had so many times when he was younger, though with the passage of years she has to tilt his face downward instead of up.

 

“No, Yuri. It isn’t.”

 

------

 

“Yuri!” Yuuri squeaks when the blond wiggles his freezing toes up against Yuuri’s calves beneath the sheets. Yuuri flails his arm backward to thwack at Yuri’s side, trying to shove him away but Yuri just smirks and envelopes Yuuri in his arms, sadistically shoving his feet into closer contact. The man shrieks and writhes, but laughter bubbles beneath his words and pleas for mercy.

 

“You’re the worst! Yuri, get your feet off me! You’re freezing!” Yuuri whines petulantly as he kicks at Yuri’s feet, arms trapped in the world’s most one-sided hug. Of course he doesn’t relent, so Yuuri finally subsides in a fit of whining and grumbling as Yuri shamelessly heats up his extremities through direct access to the warmest man alive. Really, he was like a little space heater, and while Yuri was more than adjusted to any variant of Russian weather he still intended on taking advantage of it. And maybe there was something poetic to be said about how Yuuri’s warmth was too great to be constrained in the confines of his body, but Yuri was no poet. So instead he drags Yuuri closer to his chest, tickles his sides to start up the complaining again, and smiles against the nape of Yuuri’s neck.

 

In the morning, he awakes to the sensation of being dragged and a peculiar warmth around his ankle. Groggy and halfway to a very verbal complaint, Yuri is jerked straight off the bed and onto the floor, punching the air out of his lungs in one swift move. All that comes out of his throat instead of an objection is a horrendous wheeze. He manages to lift his head to find Yuuri standing triumphantly with his hands on his hips at Yuri’s feet, pure mischief in his eyes. They stare at each other for the long moment it takes for Yuri to process what just happened, and then Yuri glares at him and scrambles off the floor so fast he gives himself rugburn.

 

Yuuri yelps and spins to race out the open door, his nervous laughter trailing behind him as Yuri hollers and sprints after him.

 

“GET BACK HERE YOU COWARD I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!”

 

“SWEET REVENGE!” Yuuri screams back as he goes racing for the bathroom, the only room with a lock that he can actually run to without having to face Yuri. They go skidding down the hallway, Yuuri shrieking as Yuri’s fingers graze his shirt and nearly snag him, hand reaching the last few inches for the handle.

 

Except Yuri has far longer legs, and he manages to get a fistful of Yuuri’s shirt right as his boyfriend flings the door open, hauling him backwards in a flail of uncoordinated limbs and what is surely going to become a very stretched out t-shirt. Yuuri is a mess of sound and motion, and Yuri has to fight to get his arms around him, wrestling him down to the hardwood floor in a splay of limbs. He knocks his ankle hard against the wall and somewhere in the mix Yuuri slips and hits his elbow, but they laugh through the aches and Yuri pins down his slippery seal of a menace and sits triumphantly upon Yuuri’s waist. Chest heaving and both with horrendously tousled hair, Yuri reconstructs his glare and smothers his amusement.

 

“I’m going to kill you,” he says plainly, refusing to let his lips twitch with mirth. Yuuri has no such restraint, the cute bastard, and just grins merrily.

 

“That was for the cold feet and for dumping me out of bed in Hasetsu,” Yuuri crows, and god damn it even pinned under Yuuri with the collar of his shirt stretched to hell, a bruised elbow, and no escape from whatever Yuri intends to do to him for revenge, he still doesn’t seem even remotely guilty.

 

I’m getting soft, Yuri grumps to himself. As if he’d stood even the tiniest chance against the adorable force of nature that was Katsuki Yuuri once he got his head out of his own ass.

 

So he grins and wiggles his fingers against Yuuri’s lower sides by his hips, and the man immediately dissolves into a wheezing mess, bucking helplessly under Yuri’s weight in an effort to dislodge him as Yuri tickles him mercilessly. He doesn’t give in until tears stream down Yuuri’s cheeks and the man is begging for mercy, sitting triumphantly on Yuuri’s pelvis as the man beneath him regains his breath.

 

His eyes are bright with tears brought on by laughter, cheeks a healthy red of exertion, and his lips are still turned slightly at the corners from the tickling.

 

God I love him.

 

It’s easier to say in actions though, so he leans forward and kisses Yuuri slowly, uncaring of morning breath or how Yuuri’s chest is still off rhythm from their tussling.

 

Yuuri looks dazed and adoring when they part, and Yuri smiles a little at the sight. But then he presses a kiss to Yuuri’s cheek and bites gently but firmly at the cute little apple right over his cheekbones, making Yuuri let out a little wail of objection. When he lets himself get shoved back, Yuuri has a nice shallow imprint of his teeth on his red cheek - harmless really, but sure to linger long enough for everyone to see - and Yuuri rubs a hand over it petulantly, pouting. Yuri grins like a shark.

 

“What were you saying about sweet revenge?”

 

And that’s how their next prank war begins.

 

------

 

Yuri happens upon a decision for rings entirely by accident, which isn’t surprising and more helpful than anything. Considering his inability to decide on anything at all , he was starting to worry he’d never find something suitable for his boyfriend. It all seemed too plain, too intricate, too gendered...none of them fit. At this rate Yuri was tempted - in a fit of over-the-top pettiness that he would never admit to - to melt down one of Victor’s gold medals into a ring for Yuuri.

 

Lilia had given up trying to coax any further answers out of him, and had thrust the remaining papers she had at him and asked Yuuri to come in and replace him in the studio. Yuri had stuck his tongue out at her behind her back, and then been promptly flicked in the ear when he turned around to leave. He always forgets about the fucking mirrors.

 

As he’s reading the papers later waiting for Yuuri to get back from the studio, he comes across an interesting little tidbit of information on jewelry metals and their significance.

 

Platinum is a silvery, white metal that's extremely rare and considered more precious than gold. Platinum is extremely long wearing and very durable in comparison to other precious metals used in jewelry. It is most commonly known for being more expensive, and heavier than other pieces made from gold or silver. However its color is just as beautiful if not more so than silver, and of greater worth. Because of its price it is often paired with other metals or used in its alloy forms.

 

Beneath it are examples, and Yuri’s breath catches as a particular one catches his eye. But it’s not the appearance that truly sticks with him. It’s the explanation and meaning behind the metal.

 

Something as beautiful and brilliant as silver, one of the three metal colors of the skating world they lived in, but infinitely more precious. He had been contemplating a ring of silver and gold, but this...this was definitely the better option.

 

When Yuuri wanders back to the rink from the studio, Yuri folds the papers and shoves them in his pocket. It’s not like he has anything to hide, and they’d spoken about ring styles loosely just so they’d both be happy with the engagement rings, but Yuri still desperately wanted to leave most of it as a surprise. Luckily Yuuri was perhaps one of the easiest people in the world to get things past, so he didn’t even notice the papers sticking out of his pocket or Yuri’s odd behavior. He just smiled that same familiar smile and grabbed his bag, waiting for Yuri so they could head home.

 

At least Yuri finally had a plan.

 

------

 

Slipping away to speak to a jeweler is far more difficult than Yuri ever expected. He didn’t realize how intertwined his life was with Yuuri’s until he tried to come up with a reason to go somewhere - anywhere, really - without his boyfriend. They had their own friends and hobbies, but they still invited each other to those events for the sake of sharing the experience and time with each other.

 

Going for a run? Yuuri always joined him on those for support and to balance out their running styles.

 

Going to the store to get groceries? They always went as a pair, because Yuuri was better with lists and Yuri was the translator for words on boxes he couldn’t understand.

 

He had so few excuses, and it took a few days for Yuri to find the right opportunity. Sliding his wallet hopefully into his jeans, he leans over the back of the couch where Yuuri is sitting reading some weird supernatural novel and kisses his cheek.

 

“Hey, I’m going to Lilia’s, okay?”

 

Yuuri hums, a little smile tugging at his lips as he turns to glance up at Yuri.

 

“Tell her I said hello?” Yuuri asks, as if Yuri would even make it two feet in the door at Lilia’s without the woman asking after Yuuri.

 

Instead he just smiles and leans in to press a chaste kiss to Yuuri’s lips, only withdrawing when Yuuri hums softly. His cheeks are a soft pink when they pull away from each other, and Yuri has to remind himself of his mission lest he hop over the back of the couch and spend their rest day not resting.

 

“I will. See you tonight.” It’s still a novel experience, to be able to say that. To have somebody to come home to, who he could look forward to seeing at the end of the day. Something different than shouting a goodbye to his grandfather as he goes running out the door, or waving an idle hand at Lilia as he hops down the stairs with his phone glued to his face.

 

God, I really am whipped.

 

The thought really doesn’t bother him as much as it might have in the past, and when Yuuri calls a sweet goodbye and a plea to be safe as he closes the door, Yuri sees it more as a blessing.

 

The summer season was mild so far, enough to prompt a light jacket over his t-shirt but nothing more. It made strolling the streets easier between getting in and out of his car, looking through pristine windows to glance over gleaming arrays of rings, necklaces, watches...they were beautiful for sure, but not what he was wanting.

 

Each clerk was motivated and helpful, bringing out cases of rings on display to try and prompt him one way or another. Yuri grumbles and huffs his way through each meeting, impatient and disappointed. It’s just not right. He has the perfect idea of what he wants in his head, but none of them are even close to matching. And maybe he’s being too picky, as Lilia had accused him of being, but Yuri has been petty since he took his first breath and it’s not stopping anytime soon.

 

He storms out of yet another shop, ignoring the cries of offers and special orders behind him. He doesn’t want to wait, or to order a specialty ring, he just wants to find the right one and purchase it. And Yuri certainly wasn’t going to settle for something “similar”. Yuuri didn’t deserved second best. While Yuuri would undoubtedly be happy with any kind of ring, Yuri wanted to spoil him, because he was fiercely proud of his boyfriend and unashamedly smug about the fact that he’d been the one to capture his heart in the end. No second rate ring would cut it.

 

After a few hours of searching he’s almost ready to call it quits. The next store on his list is not as renowned as the corporate jewelers, so he’s not expecting a large selection from them. Still, it was pretty close. The least he could do was walk in. So even though all he wants is to get back in his car and head home to Yuuri, maybe destroy him at one of their video games, he forces himself through the front door to the annoying jingle of cheery bells. Don’t rip them off, Yuri. That’s vandalism. Yuuri will be angry if you get in trouble again.

 

The clerk is an elderly woman this time. No perky, smiling attendant in sight actually. Yuri tries not to be excited about that. He wanders closer, unsure. The woman is almost totally silent, humming softly under her breath snippets of a song and little notes to herself. She is analyzing a necklace, little tools working at one of the gemstones to get it back in place.

 

Yuri clears his throat in the most awkward, strangled sound he’s ever made. The woman lifts her eyes, one brow arched like she thinks he’s stupid for having assumed she hadn’t noticed him. But then she gets up out of her chair, all elegance and poise in a way that reminds him of Lilia.

 

As she comes around the counter Yuri stands there awkwardly under her scrutiny. Biting his tongue so he doesn’t snap something rude at her, because the temptation is strong and instinctual under his skin. It wouldn’t help him find Yuuri’s engagement ring though, which he wanted more than he wanted to ask her what her fucking problem was.

 

“Engagement ring, huh?”

 

It startles him out of his thoughts, and Yuri can’t help how his eyes narrow suspiciously at her subtly smug expression.

 

“Yeah,” he grunts, not letting his tongue run away with him. He was an adult, but it didn’t make him very much nicer some days.

 

“Come. Tell me about your beloved.” Her sharp face turns into something warmer, and she spins and walks away.

 

It’s so unexpected that Yuri follows stupidly after her as she directs him to the simple wooden stools lined against the display counters. All the others had jumped directly into asking him about gem cuts and metals, he doesn’t know what to make of the personal question.

 

“What about him?” Yuri hedges, still unsure, still doubtful of this woman and her perceptiveness. Wondering if he can even answer her, this stranger who has never met Yuuri. If he can handle the embarrassment that is sure to plague him if he tries.

 

The woman - and he glances at her tag because he can’t keep calling her that, notices her name is Yekaterina - only tilts her head and leans against the counter, brows rising silently.

 

“Why do you wish to be engaged? What is he like? Why do you love him?” Her Russian is oldschool, and he can tell by the length of her consonants that she’s not from St. Petersburg. It’s a southern accent, the syllables stressed differently, and it’s soothing. Not quite like his own lilt of Moscow that he finds in his own voice, but nonetheless intriguing. So he lets himself talk, though his words halt and stutter and he has to grind his teeth and resolutely not look at her for fear of mockery.

 

“He’s...kind. Patient. He’s not perfect but he’s so stupidly nice sometimes. He’s talented, and smart, and witty even though it pisses me off when he gets the last word. You wouldn’t expect it from him at all, because he’s so soft-spoken,” he chuckles to himself, finding the words come easier as he speaks them. Yekaterina’s silence is a comfort he can let himself fall into, mind filled with Yuuri.

 

“He forgives too easily. We didn’t get off to a good start when we first met, but even then I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I didn’t know how to show him I liked him, and I got so angry that he wouldn’t focus on me. But we got to know each other, and he trusted me so quickly. Like I said, he can be a little too open with people,” a sardonic smile stretches on his lips, because he may wish that Yuuri wasn’t so pure and trusting with people who could hurt him, but he’s unbelievably glad for that facet of Yuuri’s personality because it had drawn them together.

 

“And the more I got to know him, the more reason I had to...to love him, y’know?” The awkwardness slams back into his stomach with a vengeance, ears surely glowing red as he scowls. And he’s angry with himself. Yuuri was the best thing that had happened to him and he couldn’t even describe him the way he deserved to a stranger who he would never see again. If he wasn’t ashamed of loving Yuuri, why was he embarrassed to say why, to explain what Yuuri meant to him?

 

It was still a type of weakness, one he wanted to avoid. And maybe he can’t overcome it in one random, spontaneous conversation. But he can say the important things.

 

“I wasn’t worthy of his friendship back then. I was rude and arrogant, and I just wanted him for myself. It was more about winning than anything else. But he...he showed me, without even trying or knowing, that love could be so much more than that. And I just want to live up to the image he has of me, because he makes me a better person. If he could love me as the insufferable brat I used to be, I hope he can love me even more as someone who is proud to love him back. I want to give the entire world back to him, because he has never asked for more than what he has, but he deserves it.”

 

It sprawls out in front of him like gleaming tendrils, until it bridges the gap between himself and this enigmatic stranger. Laying there as evidence of his feelings, and it’s both a glaring discomfort and a relief to have said the words to somebody.

 

Yekaterina finally smiles, and it transforms her face into something warm and inviting. Understanding.

 

“Good. What ring are you looking for?”

 

Her lack of focus on his words is almost...easier. So instead he tells her of the ring he had in mind - platinum and gold, with or without gemstones. And she grins and bounces back into the back room without even saying a word, leaving him abandoned and perched uncomfortably on the wooden stool.

 

When she returns, she holds a simple cherry box that she places delicately on the glass where he rests his arms. When she opens it his eyes fall naturally to the pair of rings in the box, and his breath chokes in his throat.

 

Gold and platinum pairs wink back at him, a simple square diamond embedded in the metal at the top. A ring of platinum runs across the gold, bringing attention to the shine of the diamond.

 

Yuri’s jaw works soundlessly, trying to speak pst the sudden lump in his throat. Yekaterina just smiles and pulls a ring out, picking up his wrist and twisting his hand to place it gently in his palm. Yuri stares down at it, rotating it slowly in his fingers. Then he glances up at her and swallows hard.

 

“Can these be engraved?”

 

Yekaterina just grins.

 

------

 

Yuri had purposefully avoided telling his grandfather until the rings were purchased. But even with that hurdle finally overcome, the idea is still daunting at best.

 

Nikolai adores Yuuri, that was no question at all. Yuuri had been so anxious the day they’d scheduled to go meet Nikolai that he’d broken down in tears, terrified that the most important person in Yuri’s life wouldn’t accept him. It had been painful for Yuri to see and work through, because no platitude or assurance seemed to work. When he finally managed to guide Yuuri through the front door of his grandfather’s house, the man had been shaking and pale, hands trembling where they twisted nervously in front of him. Nikolai had greeted him with a firm, drawn out hug. He had whispered something into Yuuri’s ears that Yuri never got to hear, but when they had parted Yuuri had smiled bravely, and the rest of the visit went perfectly.

 

Nikolai was incredibly fond of Yuuri, and a year into their relationship as they were video chatting, he had wiped moisture from his eyes and smiled at Yuri through the screen.

 

“He is so good for you, Yurochka,” he’d murmured, and Yuri had flushed to the roots of his hair, but he’d kept the words with him for weeks after.

 

Yuuri made him happier, less angry, more open to the possibilities of the world that didn’t include gold medals and the loneliness that would have plagued him so much earlier than Victor. He was as relieved as his grandfather surely was to see that he wouldn’t be wholly bitter and competitive his entire life.

 

Still, it wasn’t easy to bring up the topic.

 

Yuri had used his grandfather’s advice, his soft wistful words about his grandmother to see that his heart was yearning for someone else. It had led him to Yuuri in the first place. There was no need to be afraid that Nikolai wouldn’t approve, but he found his palms sweating nervously nonetheless. Would his grandfather think him too young for such devotion? Too hasty despite three years of monogamous dating, and over six of friendship? And he was just plain nervous to admit to the most important person in his life that there was somebody else he wanted to love and cherish on the same level. That he was serious enough about Yuuri to consider marriage at all.

 

Would Nikolai be proud of him?

 

The questions eat at him as the train rumbles quietly down the stretch of tracks, and he tries to distract himself with the landscape that rolls by just outside his window. It’s not enough, but alongside his phone and music, it helps scrape the hours by. Time seems to warp, going from agonizingly slow to sudden jolts where he blinks and the time slips by him. Until he’s standing on his grandfather’s doorstep, feeling like a tiny trembling boy instead of the man he’d grown to become. Yuri towers over his stout grandfather, and could probably deadlift him no problem, and still he felt like he was shaking in his shoes.

 

Of course the second the door opens and his grandfather’s eyes fall upon him, the man ushers him inside with a gruff, “Well you certainly have something on your mind, boy.”

 

It’s actually comforting, and Yuri huffs a laugh as he complacently shuffles in and sits on the couch beside his grandfather’s armchair. Black tea sits steaming on the table, awaiting his arrival, and Yuri is grateful to have something to occupy his trembling hands. It burns his tongue to drink it too quickly, but his throat is suddenly painfully dry and gulping it down irrationally is all he can handle.

 

Nikolai is silent in his armchair, watching Yuri with a contemplative expression. They chat idly about everything and nothing; the words fill the silence physically but Yuri knows his grandfather is just patiently waiting for him to gather his nerve and speak what's really on his mind.

 

Yuri sets his cup down with a clatter, feeling tension ripple down his forearms and clenching fingers. Why are you acting like this, idiot? He’s not going to fucking care, just say it!

 

The words bubble up in his throat until they’re choking him, ballooning in his ears because he’s so damn nervous. Until he finally just spits it out, because he can’t hold it inside any longer. The seams are coming undone, stitches popping, and it rushes out in a jumble of sound.

 

“I want to ask Yuuri to marry me.”

 

Nikolai’s eyes widen, and in the surprised silence that follows, Yuri fumbles the ring box out of his pocket and opens it with trembling hands. He reaches forward and sets it on the table for Nikolai to see it before withdrawing, feeling like gelatin all over. The pair of rings shine in the velvet folds of the box, light reflecting off the diamonds when Nikolai slowly reaches forward to gently pick it up and marvel at them. Until he finally looks up and stares at Yuri, who sits perched awkwardly on the couch, and smiles.

 

The man heaves to his feet, no longer sprightly in his age, and swiftly circles the table to draw Yuri up into his arms in the tightest hug Yuri has ever experienced. Yuri hugs back just as tight, relief swelling in his eyes until they blur over. Neither of them speak until they part, and Nikolai’s eyes look suspiciously shiny as well. They don’t mention it, though both surreptitiously thumb at the corners of their eyes.

 

“I’m proud of you, Yurochka. You are becoming a fine young man, and Yuuri is a wonderful man as well. He makes you happy, that’s all I need to know,” Nikolai murmurs gruffly, at odds with the beaming smile on his whiskered face. Yuri can’t help his own watery smile, hands squeezing at his grandfather’s elbows because he can’t bring himself to break away just yet. Not when the questions that linger at the back of his tongue are so hard to say and admit.

 

“Do you...think grandma would have approved?”

 

Nikolai goes quiet and still beneath his palms, something wistful creeping into the soft crinkles of his eyes. A calloused, broad palm sweeps across Yuri’s cheek, brushing back long blond hair and tucking it with gentle care behind Yuri’s ear. Still as hesitant and purposeful as the day he’d promised to learn how to braid and brush Yuri’s hair when he had started growing it out.  Nikolai had embraced effeminate properties he’d never intended in order to give Yuri the childhood he deserved, and that simple motion drowns Yuri in his own gratitude.

 

“I think she would have loved Yuuri. And I think she would be so happy to see you reaching for your own happiness. You are good for each other, Yurochka. She would have boxed your ears for waiting as long as you have already!” Nikolai and Yuri dissolved into laughter at the thought, because it was far too accurate. The Plisetsky temper had not come from the actual Plisetsky family, after all. Yuri had taken after his grandmother in almost everything, from stature to hair color to crass personality.

 

It made missing her all the harder, for how little he’d been able to know her.

 

“I wish she could have met him,” Yuri admits quietly, gaze falling to his feet. Nikolai’s hand drops from his ear to his shoulder with a heavy sigh, and they sit in commiserative silence.

 

“I know, Yuri. I do too.”

 

When Yuri turns away to sit back on the couch, chest warm and content at last with Nikolai’s approval and excitement. It wouldn’t have really changed his decision to marry Yuuri, but it meant a lot to him that his grandfather not only approved of them being together for what would hopefully be forever, but was just as excited as Yuri about it.

 

As he reclaims his tea, Nikolai murmurs something that Yuri doesn’t catch and lumbers off down the hall. Yuri doesn’t follow, thinking he has to use the bathroom or something. So when his grandfather returns and does not immediately reclaim his armchair, Yuri glances up and sets his tea down, confused.

 

Nikolai reaches out with one hand to draw Yuri’s up by his forearm, gently twisting until Yuri’s palm rests outreached between them. But Nikolai holds him with a firm grasp, unmoving. Until Yuri finally stares dumbly at him, expression sufficiently confused.

 

“Rings were not as easy to acquire when I married your grandmother. I saved for months to buy her a ring with a small ruby, but before then I had these.” Nikolai uncurls his free hand and deposits a thin metal into Yuri’s empty palm. Already his heart wants to leap from his chest, because anything of his grandmother’s is more precious than money could buy or appraise. It's difficult to force his eyes down to the copper links curled delicately in his palm, with a beautifully carved wooden rose hanging from the links. Until he notices there are two of them.

 

Yuri slowly looks back at his grandfather's shining eyes, absolutely incapable of saying anything. Afraid to even move or twitch his fingers, lest he somehow break the beautiful bronze-colored necklaces in his hand.

 

“I...are these…?” Yuri sputters, not even sure what to ask or how to phrase the monumental question inside him. A piece of his family, a precious heirloom he'd only ever seen in photos; sepia-toned and grainy, with an old fashioned antique beauty that was lovingly dusted every week, hanging in the hallway of this house he'd grown up in.

 

“Yes, my boy. She would have wanted you to have them, as do I.” Nikolai releases Yuri’s wrist to gently curl the young man’s fingers down, fingertips pressing gently into the grooves of the links.

 

Yuri’s eyes are suspiciously wet again. He had never anticipated such a gift, such a selfless move from his grandfather. Parting with one of the few things Nikolai had left to remember his wife with. Handing it down to a boy who should have been his instead of his daughter's, entrusting Yuri with the engagement jewelry that had hung around his grandmother’s neck until days before she passed.

 

“He has her smile. He deserves it.”

 

A calloused hand cups Yuri’s cheek, swiping away a tear that descends without his consent.

 

“It blessed our marriage for many years Yurochka. May it do the same for yours.”

 

Yuri clenches his eyes against the torrent of tears, and though he is taller than his grandfather - no longer the frail, sickly boy who crawled stubbornly into his grandfather’s lap, whose feet could not touch the cracked linoleum floor for many years as he sat at the kitchen table - he folds himself inward and down, erasing years of time and distance to tuck himself into his grandfather’s strong, supportive embrace once more. And he cries his gratitude into a shoulder that had captured all his tears for years, hand gently cupping one of the last few items he had of a woman he barely knew but whose spirit and love lived on in him.

 

------

 

Yuri doesn’t intend to tell any of his fellow skaters about the proposal. Not yet.

 

Part of him wants to tell Victor, but he doesn’t like the implication that Victor has any sort of hold left over Yuuri. Nor does he want to imagine that it would hurt the man, because sometimes he can’t help but wonder what the man feels for Yuuri. Maybe it’s his own insecurities, or the belief that Yuuri is so easily beloved that any person would be lucky to be with him, but Yuri doesn’t want to know the answer to that particular question.

 

It’s a private affair, and he had told everyone necessary, right?

 

Until Yuri realizes he hasn’t told Yuuri’s family. Just his own. Which is just as daunting as telling his grandfather had been.  

 

It takes him a few weeks to even think about pursuing it, giving himself the chance to recover from the uncharacteristic display of weakness and affection. He has a quota damn it, he can't just go vomiting emotion everywhere like Victor or Georgi. He'd probably pull something. Or die. Honestly death would probably be preferable. How those two fluffheads manage it is beyond him.

 

Still he knows he has to. Though he deeply entertains the notion of telling them after Yuuri has his ring on his finger, Yuri knows he can't do that. No matter how badly he wants to just be engaged to Yuuri already after all the waiting, it would be immensely disrespectful. And Yuri would rather stab himself with his own skates than disrespect the ridiculously kind Katsukis.

 

Yuri had never known a home outside the little bubble he’d made with his grandfather. The memories of his mother and father had been shoved to the far reaches of his thoughts, only surfacing in nightmares and long hours of bitterness until he let Yuuri bundle him up and bring him to bed to quietly talk it out. Home had always been a vague concept - he’d left Moscow so young, living in the skating dorms and ignoring the silent tears on his cheeks as he listened to the crackle of the phone distorting his grandfather’s encouraging voice. He loved his grandfather, but home had always been a fantasy that he’d killed with his bare hands when he hit his teens and vowed to harden himself into a champion.

 

Then he’d flown to Japan, full of rage and abandonment issues, and been greeted by warm smiles and unassuming kindness. The Katsuki family had not cared that he had shown up out of the blue, demanding to be housed and fed for weeks on end as he disrespected and taunted their prodigal son. They had sat him down with a bowl of katsudon, catered to his childish demands to have a mini onsen of his own, and taken care of him when they didn’t need to in the least.

 

Even Yuuko and her family had taken him beneath their wings, never caring that he was competing against Yuuri, that he was threatening to take away the one thing Yuuri had always wanted in the world. They had cheered him on, drawing him into their little flock. And Yuri had been scalded by their warmth, so used to the bitter cold of his life back in Russia. It had taken him months to get used to their particular temperature, but they never gave up on him. Even when he didn’t text back for weeks, or spurned their friendly advances. Much like Yuuri, they didn’t so much force themselves on Yuri so much as linger on the very edges of his patience. Just enough to annoy him a little, until his boundaries receded bit by bit and they grew on him.

 

He owed them so much, for their hospitality and inhuman patience. For giving him a chance as a person, as a skater, as Yuuri’s boyfriend. Yuri had felt so lonely and bitter, and they had shown him the joys and wonders of home and family.

 

Yuri’s fantasies of home had been painted over with the smell of miso soup and the heat of kotatsu tables, gilded with the shape of Hiroko’s smile and Takeshi’s booming laugh. And Yuuri had come into his life, into his space, with the same unassuming, selfless love that he’d grown up surrounded by. Until one day Yuri looked up and realized that Yuuri was his home. That he’d transformed an empty apartment into a haven of laughter and safety. Where Yuri could be vulnerable, where he could return to each day and relax.

 

Family had always just been Yuri and his grandpa. Anything else outside of blood was foreign and unwanted, and he had closed himself off to even that. But when he and Yuuri cuddle on the couch with Svetlana purring at their feet, or when they shove and elbow each other as they play video games, Yuri has to admit that maybe he was wrong.

 

And when Yuuri stands on his toes to kiss him hello after a day in the studio, or when Yuri throws grapes at him while he’s trying to make dinner until it turns into a food fight, Yuri realizes he’s more than happy being wrong about family and love and the importance of creating a home.

 

Maybe Yuuri had represented home from the very start. Ever since Hiroko’s smile had welcomed him at the front door, and Yuri realized it was the same smile she’d passed on to her son. The one that shone so brightly with affection.

 

So he knows he can’t just ignore it. The Katsuki family deserved to weigh in on his decision to marry Yuuri. And Yuri wanted to know that in the end, they really did want him as part of the family. Officially.

 

So while he can’t spare a flight to Japan to ask them in person, he devises a plan to speak to them nonetheless.

 

It’s easy to fake being sick when Yuuri is such a mother hen, and when Yuri so rarely lets any kind of minor illness keep him from skating. It grants Yuri the freedom to fool Yuuri into thinking he’s worse than he is. So Yuuri departs for practice with a worried frown, pressing a few kisses across Yuri’s face. Avoiding his lips with a sad look because he doesn’t want to fall sick as well, as he surely would. Yuuri’s immune system was far worse than Yuri’s. You played yourself, Plisetsky.

 

But as soon as he’s gone, Yuri sets to work.

 

It takes a little bit of waiting because of timezones, but the Katsuki family are natural early risers just like Yuuri, especially with the inn to tend to. Maybe he spends a little too much time trying to fix his hair and tidy up, but he’s nervous as fuck okay?

 

And of course Mari is the one he has to call.

 

She answers on the first few rings after he texts her to let her know he’d be calling. Yuri had asked for her to invite the Nishigori family over, if only to spare himself an extra phone call. Or to spare myself the agony of admitting it to Yuuko’s face. Yuri wouldn’t be surprised if she burst his eardrums with her squealing excitement, as she almost had when she’d found out he and Yuuri were dating. And she wondered where her daughters got it from?

 

Mari is smirking when the image comes through, wiggling her free fingers in silent hello before plucking the dwindling end of her cigarette from her lips and putting it out while exhaling a puff of smoke.

 

“Ohayo, Yurio.”

 

Yuri can’t help the tick in his cheek at that. Mari’s eyes squint in mirth at his scowl, silently daring him to say something. Because she knows damn well that he won’t, not when she clearly suspects what he’s calling about. Still, the name had been a grievance for years. Yuuri had stopped calling him Yurio before they started dating, quietly confessing that it struck him as more childish than Yuri actually was.

 

“Hey Mari. Is uh...everyone there?” Yuri fumbles, switching the phone to one hand to nervously wipe his sweaty palm on his thigh. Relax, idiot. They were excited about you guys dating, it’s gonna be fine.

 

As if summoned, Hiroko pops into frame. Or rather, the top of Hiroko’s head. Yuri can’t help the little chuckle that bubbles in his chest because it’s unbearably adorable to see where Yuuri acquired his height from.

 

“Hello, Yuri!” Hiroko croons at her daughter’s side. Mari rolls her eyes but obligingly angles the phone to include the both of them side by side. Hiroko’s cheeks are warm and plumped from smiling, and Yuri is reminded again - so soon after thinking about it - that Yuuri has her smile. Though his meek boyfriend did not often unveil it, unfortunately.

 

“Ah, hello Hiroko,” Yuri mumbles softly. He’s glad they can’t see how he continually switches hands, trying to keep his hands busy and wiping them nervously across his sweatpants. Oh shit should I have dressed up for this?!

 

On the screen mother and daughter settle around the low table, the entire family gathered - even Minako. The swell of noise from their accented hellos helps ease his worries a little, and he gives a smile that looks a little too much like a grimace. Hiroko bustles up closer to the camera, a knowing look in her eyes that Yuri can’t look into for very long.

 

“So why did you call us, Yuri?” Hiroko encourages softly, tutting and shushing the others who try to clamor and ask questions. Yuri wonders how she manages to be so perfectly motherly in every way, knowing exactly what he needs without him ever saying. Letting him choose to just say it, all at once, so that he won’t kill himself with nerves.

 

Yuri understood Yuuri’s anxieties, but he’d rather be the type to jump off the bridge both eyes closed and feet forward than let it consume him. It was easier to be reckless in the face of nerves for him.

 

Doesn’t make it any easier to spit out, though.

 

“I...well, I know it’s stupid and old fashioned but uh…” Don’t drop the phone, god, please.

 

“I wanted the blessing of well uh...everyone? I...I intend to ask Yuuri to marry me.”

 

There’s a long stretch of silence after the words are spoken where everyone just kind of...stares. At Yuri, at each other. Waiting for the understanding to hit.

 

Yuuko is the first to get it, with her excellent English comprehension, and so she’s also the first to start practically screaming  in her excitement. The triplets and Takeshi are right behind her, shouting gleefully and bouncing on their knees. Mari jolts to her feet in a dizzying spin of the lens and a hand clasped excitedly over her mouth, and that’s the catalyst to set the rest of the family into motion. Everyone is suddenly on their feet and squeezing in to try and see Yuri, Minako cheering proudly in the background. But it’s Hiroko and Toshiya that Yuri tries to focus on, smile lifting to his face nonetheless at the excited reaction from the rest of them.

 

Toshiya is hugging Hiroko hard to his chest and beaming wider than Yuri has ever seen, and in his arms Hiroko is smiling and laughing as little tears spill from her eyes.

 

“Is that a yes, then?” Yuri jokes, a little waver of emotion to his voice.

 

Hiroko leans forward closer to the lens, Mari wrapping an arm around her parents to bring them in. Hiroko extends an arm to hold onto the other side of the phone, watery eyes soft and affectionate. Yuri can almost feel her soft palm against his cheek, and tries to ignore the sharp sting behind his own eyes.

 

“Of course, Yuri. You make our boy so happy, we can’t wait to make you family,” she enunciates with firm sincerity.

 

“As if Yuuri would ever let us try and stop you!” Toshiya laughs heartily, squeezing his wife closer. Yuri grins, because he knows exactly how stubborn Yuuri can be when it came to matters of the heart.

 

Minako and Mari lean over with matching devilish grins, and Yuri swallows a little hard.

 

“So Yuri,” Minako purrs, and Yuri is sure that he’s staring into the eyes of the devil herself.

 

“How are you gonna ask him?”

 

------

 

Planning the rest is...relatively easy.

 

It feels deceiving after all the trouble Yuri has put himself through to try and make this the perfect engagement. Like something is inevitably going to go wrong at this point, just to make Yuri’s life hell.

 

It’s both the easiest and hardest part of the process. Private and easy to plan but...the idea of actually going down on one knee, looking into Yuuri’s eyes, holding out the ring, asking him to be Yuri’s husband?

 

Fucking terrifying.

 

Which means, of course, that Yuri avoids it for a while. Until Yuuko inevitably verbally kicks his ass for not giving her updates (because there isn’t anything to update with his avoidance of it).

 

“Why are you avoiding it?! I know it’s scary, but don’t you want to marry him? Don’t you want him to be your husband?” Yuuko had pressed, exasperated and perhaps even a little concerned.

 

“Of course I do! I wouldn’t have done all this if I didn’t!” Yuri had pretty much shouted, feeling useless and frustrated, incapable of explaining why he was scared. Not wanting to even admit it in the first place.

 

“Then just do it! He loves you, he wouldn’t care if you proposed to him with a piece of string, Yuri!”

 

Needless to say, that had stuck with him for quite a while after Yuuko had hung up.

 

She was frustratingly right. Probably because she knew Yuuri as well as any of his family members. But as exasperatedly as she’d said the words, they had resonated in Yuri in a way he hadn’t anticipated.

 

It doesn’t even take more than a few seconds of thinking to realize that yes, Yuuri probably would accept a proposal from Yuri in any manner with any level of romance and planning. It was so frustratingly obvious, and Yuri was ashamed of himself for not realizing it earlier. Yuuri was not always good with words, but he expressed his love as clear as day through his actions. Yuri was stupid to doubt himself, to doubt Yuuri . Yuuri who had been so overwhelmed with Yuri asking if he’d ever thought about marriage that he’d hidden away, had clung to Yuri and confessed his answer with a straightforwardness that Yuri needed to return now.

 

So he nervously asks Yakov and Lilia for the day off for himself and Yuuri on the sunniest day he can find on his weather app, and prays for the best.

 

The night before he reaches out and gently touches Yuuri’s wrist at the dinner table, making his boyfriend look up with curious eyes and a mouthful of food. Yuri grins a little, because god damn it he’s so lucky. His boyfriend is adorable. Yuri waits until Yuuri swallows and sets his fork down, giving Yuri his full attention, before he speaks.

 

“I got the day off for us tomorrow,” he starts, ignoring the heat of his cheeks, especially when Yuuri slips his hand back and flips it over to hold Yuri’s hand like the sap he is. Yuuri lights up in excitement, a little smile pulling at his lips as he shuffles closer across his chair.

 

“Really? What are we doing?”

 

Yuri squeezes his hand and gives a little smirk, because Yuuri isn’t going to reveal himself that quickly. In fact he wants the entire thing to go down as a surprise, if possible.

 

“That’s for me to know and you to find out, got it?” Yuri grins at the look of almost pained curiosity on Yuuri’s face. He hated not knowing things, because he liked to plan and coordinate and structure until his face turned blue. Or his phone died.

 

But Yuuri finally subsides, though he clearly does so reluctantly. Still, he gives Yuri a little smile and refuses to release their hands, squeezing gently as he picks up his fork with the other hand.

 

“Okay. I trust you.”

 

Yuri’s heart squeezes with affection, and he knows that he’s making the right choice.

 

------

 

Yuri resolutely doesn’t plan anything for the morning of the big day. Yuuri was scarily astute in some ways and oblivious as a brick in others, and Yuri absolutely did not want to tempt fate and accidentally make Yuuri too curious. He’d surely figure it out that way.

 

Instead he rolls over onto his stomach, blearily staring at Yuuri who is sitting up in bed against his pillow, texting someone. It feels weird to sleep in on days off, but even Yuuri seems to have recently awoken; long past his normal god-awful hour. When he sees that Yuri is awake he turns and smiles, reaching out and tapping his phone playfully against Yuri’s cheek, making him scowl and hunch his shoulder up to try and protect it.

 

“Доброе утро, Yura,” Yuuri teases playfully, finally retreating with his phone. Yuri rolls over to place his head in Yuuri’s lap, scoffing.

 

“Still terrible at pronunciation,” he teases back, smirking when Yuuri makes an offended noise. It doesn’t stop him from running his fingers soothingly through Yuri’s hair though, which Yuri had expected. Yuuri loved his hair an embarrassing amount. Sometimes Yuri wondered if he should ask Yuuri whether he’d ever thought about growing out his own hair.

 

They lay in bed together for almost an hour. Idly catching up on their friends’ lives, talking quietly over their own training. Yuuri braids and unbraids Yuri’s hair, tracing the lines of his brow and tapping idly against his lips to interrupt his words. Yuri bares his teeth and snaps at them playfully, lazy and drowsy and stupidly amused by his boyfriend.

 

“I love you,” he mutters simply as Yuuri scrolls through his phone. Yuuri pauses and catches his eyes, smiling and leaning down to kiss Yuri in his lap.

 

“I love you too.”

 

Yuri hauls himself up and out of bed a few minutes after that, dragging Yuuri along to get them both fed, showered, and dressed. Yuuri still looks helplessly curious, but he doesn't object to any of it. Neither of them were the type to laze around in bed for too long as it was.

 

And then Yuri hustles them both out the door and into the sunshine.

 

It's a beautiful day, exactly what he had been wanting. And even though the nerves are starting to prickle at him again, Yuri ignores them  instead he reaches for Yuuri’s hand and gently laces their fingers together, giving a lopsided smile down at him when Yuuri looks up in surprise. Yuri wasn't big on public affection, but this was something he wanted right then.

 

Yuuri seems to read that on his face because he smiles and bumps their shoulders together, lightly swinging their hands as they walk.

 

It's not until they're halfway across the bridge that Yuuri looks around and brightens.

 

“Are we going to the park?” He asks excitedly, finally recognizing their route instead of blindly following along.

 

“You sound like a four year old,” Yuri grins, laughing when Yuuri sticks his tongue out as if to prove his point. Nonetheless his excitement doesn't die, tugging Yuri along down the bridge and into the shaded greenery of the park.

 

They don’t often go to the park. Part of it is their rigorous schedules and training, but part of it is that they both have very precious memories associated with it. Neither want to diminish the shine of it, the rarity of its beauty.

 

Yuri hopes this will only enforce those memories, make it even more precious to them as a landmark.

 

Together they stroll through the flowered walkways, watching the birds in the trees and speaking quietly. The trees offer shelter and privacy, sunlight dappling through the leaves in streaks of gold and yellow. Yuri can’t help but stare as Yuuri moves beneath it, the sunlight playing shadows on his face, bringing out the hues of red and gold in his eyes.

 

Yuuri blushes when he finally notices, still embarrassed despite the years of Yuri’s blatant appreciation of him. Yuri drags him closer with their clasped hands and drops a kiss onto Yuuri’s temple.

 

“Come on, let’s go to the pagoda.”

 

It’s still rather empty for being a weekday, reminiscent of the night they’d first visited it. The white of the structure gleams even more beautifully in the sunlight, the trees arching towards the stone as if to shroud it from view forever to preserve its simplistic splendor.

 

The shade is a welcome coolness as they walk through the gazebo, down the sun-bleached steps to the dirt path and the ducks on the water. Yuuri coos at them, but Yuri hangs back on the steps until Yuuri turns curiously, their connected hands extended between them.

 

“Yura?”

 

Yuri swallows hard, staring unblinking at Yuuri’s confused little smile, the quiet hum of noise and nature around them. And he slowly reels Yuuri back onto the last step, thumb massaging slowly over the hand Yuuri leaves trustingly between his fingers.

 

“You remember when we first came here?” Yuri murmurs quietly, the gravity of the moment weighing on him.

 

But the blessing that Yuuri has always been to his life, he doesn’t ask. Just nods and squeezes Yuri’s hand, the expressive eyes Yuri had loved since childhood staring up at him.

 

“Yeah. It was right before I went back to Detroit. You said that I would be okay when I was nervous to leave, you asked me not to forget about you. You even let me hug you,” Yuuri reminds him with a gleaming smirk, foxlike eyes mirthful. Yuri scoffs over his laughter, shaking his head ruefully. Of course Yuuri would remember something like that. Reminding Yuri of how childish he used to be, how terrified of affection and friendship he’d been back then.

 

But it also reminds him of how far he’s come. And how much of that progress had been because of Yuuri.

 

So he reaches out and gently cups Yuuri’s cheek, thumb brushing over his skin. And then he drops his hand and tries not to think about how it’s shaking, taking a deep breath.

 

“I was an idiot kid back then, but I knew I always wanted you to come back here. Even then, all I could think was that I wanted you to stay. Here in Russia, with...with me. Even back then I was still gone on you,” Yuri confesses softly, embarrassment kissing across his cheeks. It’s hard to look Yuuri in the eyes as he says it, but he has to. Though he does grip the nape of his neck, squeezing restlessly. Calm down. I practiced this. I got it.

 

So he reaches into his jacket pocket and brings out the ring box with a shaking hand, still holding tight to Yuuri’s with his free hand. It’s the one thing that anchors him, reminds him exactly why he wants to do this.

 

And Yuri kneels right there on the sun-warmed stone step.

 

Yuuri makes a strangled noise that Yuri will surely tease him about to his dying day, but he can’t focus on that right now. Not when he rests the box on his thigh, not wanting to unveil the ring just yet. He still has so much to say.

 

“I’m shit at words, you know that. But my grandpa told me once that I’d know I loved somebody the way he loved my grandmother when I realized that they made me a better person. Even if they infuriated me, challenged me. And I’ve known for a long time now that even though you drive me crazy, and sometimes we fuck up…”

 

Yuri’s voice warbles and he has to clear it awkwardly, before flipping open the box and revealing the matching pair of rings and the two necklaces. When he finally looks back, Yuuri is crying, one hand pressed tight over his mouth and tears cascading down through his fingers.

 

“Y-Yura,” is all he manages to force out, embarrassment turning his ears red at his own emotional reaction. Instead it bolsters Yuri, because the sincerity is too overwhelming a reminder that Yuuri wants this as badly as he does.

 

“Katsuki Yuuri...will you marry me?”

 

There’s no fear that Yuuri won’t say yes, not anymore, but when Yuuri shoves forward and nearly sends Yuri on his ass it’s still the best feeling in the world.

 

“Of course! Yes! Yes!” Yuuri is sobbing, wrapping his free arm around Yuri’s shoulders and tucking his tearstained face against Yuri’s neck. They part only long enough for Yuri to slide the ring onto Yuuri’s finger with hands that don’t tremble anymore. As it graces Yuuri’s fingertip, Yuuri pauses and asks through a choked voice what the lettering on the inside is.

 

So Yuri twists it to reveal the edges of the letters, clearly spelling out a singular word.

 

“Pragma,” he whispers through a tremulous smile. Finally sliding the ring onto Yuuri’s finger where it settles at the base, a perfect fit.

 

“We were always Agape and Eros. It’s how I first knew you, and without those programs I would never have come this far. And you were such a big part in teaching me about agape. But pragma is...deeply understanding love. Patience. Compromise. Learning to stand in love instead of just falling in love.” He lifts his eyes to Yuuri’s, which are welling up with further tears. It’s both distressing and satisfying to see Yuuri so moved.

 

“I want to learn to love you every day.”

 

Yuuri hiccups a half-formed word and surges forward to kiss him.

 

Yuri has kissed Yuuri in so many ways, so many times. But this was surely going in the top five. (Okay it was probably number one, but their first kiss together was a really close second).

 

Yuuri is tearful and grinning ear to ear when they part, little diamond tears still clinging to his dark lashes.

 

“I love you,” Yuuri proclaims, like he has no idea what else to say. As if there’s anything else that could replace that kind of sentiment.

 

Yuri grins right back, heart leaping to see his grandmother’s necklace curling in the hollow of Yuuri’s throat, the glint of gold and platinum on his right hand. Signifying that Yuuri was his and would be forever.

 

“I love you too.”