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(Only By You) My Heart Always Moves

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There’s something special about autumns in Torvill Cove.

But then again, there’s something special about every single day in this town, where the very air seems brimming with the promise of magic. From the moody sea-cliffs, to the ever-searching lighthouse, to the colourful buildings and lights of the town and its little pier, Torvill Cove is in turns inviting yet mysterious, familiar yet strange, fantastic yet ordinary.

Not unlike — and Viktor Nikiforov has thought about this for practically every single day since they first met — the dark-haired sleeping beauty currently lying next to him in their bed.

Yuuri Katsuki turns in his sleep, ignorant to the watchful gaze of his partner. A little snore burbles out of him, but aside from that his sleep is peaceful, undisturbed. A shock of dark hair, now getting a little long, falls in his closed eyes, and his t-shirt — Viktor’s worn old SPbSU shirt — stretches a little along one pale collarbone. Today is his twenty-fifth birthday, and Viktor still can’t believe it took so long for this man to enter his life.

Yuuri’s mobile buzzes with notifications from their group chat, all of them birthday wishes from their friends. It’s a Wednesday, which means many of them will only be free to celebrate after classes and work. Christophe and Phichit had taken it upon themselves to reserve for tonight the back room of the Cornerstone, one of the more upscale restaurants at the boardwalk. Everyone invited is expected to show up with presents, and for weeks beforehand the separate group chat dedicated to planning Yuuri’s birthday had been bursting full of discussions of things Yuuri liked or disliked, as well as pictures of purchases made so that people didn’t buy him the same things.

This means Viktor knows exactly what everyone else is giving Yuuri.

This also means that Viktor still has no idea what to give Yuuri himself.

As he lies there in bed next to Yuuri and listens to the buzzing of his mobile, Viktor can feel ice-cold panic seeping into his chest, curling in his gut. This is their first birthday together, and he’s already screwing it up by not having a present for Yuuri. Yuuri, who had fought tooth and nail for them, who had traversed the seven seas to return to him, who had taken the words they had shared in the early months of their intimacy and turned them into something beautiful, something perfect.

Yuuri Katsuki, the most wonderful man on earth, will not have a perfect birthday this year because his fool of a partner has spent too many weeks agonising over what sort of present to get him until it is too late.

That’s the problem with being Viktor Nikiforov, perfectionist extraordinaire. Nothing in the gift shop, nothing online, nothing from even the furthest corners of the world could suffice as a present for his beloved partner. After all, what does one give to one’s selkie partner after half a year of silence and separation resulting from a terrible mistake that one had committed this time last year? Not even diamonds and private islands and the entire galaxy would suffice.

(Not that he’d consider buying Yuuri diamonds. People in other countries have died to harvest those things, after all, and the only reason they’re so expensive is because the company selling most of them has the majority of the world’s diamond supply hoarded in some vault somewhere. But he digresses.)

Also, with all of those advances rolling in for Yuuri’s upcoming debut novel, it could arguably be said that his partner has become more successful than he. So if Yuuri had wanted diamonds, or a private island, or the entire galaxy, he could have gotten it himself.

The buzzing doesn’t stop. There’s chiming now, too. All of the notifications for the PR accounts set up in Yuuri’s name, all of the well-wishing emails from editors and publishers and Yakov, their agent — they’re all rolling in, in one giant cacophony of noise and light. Viktor is amazed that Yuuri can sleep through any of it, because he’s certainly awake now.

He reaches out, grabs Yuuri’s phone, swipes away all the notifications. He lowers the volume as well, and then returns to staring at his partner’s sleeping face in a state of quiet panic. What is he going to do? Everyone else in the world is prepared for today, but Viktor — the one person everyone would expect to have something extremely special — has nothing. Nada. Zip. Completely empty-handed.

He might as well accept the award for the universe’s worst boyfriend ever right now and be done with it.

Yuuri stirs in his sleep, brows scrunching as he surfaces from what Viktor hopes is a lovely dream. Slowly, his brown eyes blink open, dark lashes fluttering in the pale morning light. Almost as soon as his gaze lands on Viktor, they sparkle, and Viktor’s heart skips a beat in response.

“Good morning,” Viktor manages after what feels like an eternity, shuffling a little closer and cupping Yuuri’s cheek. Yuuri leans into the touch with a smile. “Happy birthday, love.”

Yuuri’s smile widens. One of his hands comes up, makes a half-awake attempt at ‘thank you’. Viktor chuckles, pressing their foreheads together briefly before claiming Yuuri’s lips. As always, he is just a little surprised at how easily Yuuri melts into it.

When he pulls away, Viktor moves his hands to cover Yuuri’s, and brings them to his lips. Though his mind had blanked out while Yuuri’s lips had been touching his, it now races almost as fast as his heart, desperate to try and find a solution to the panic that still sits tightly, knot-like, in his chest.

His own mobile rings at that moment.

“Be right back,” Viktor says, quietly. Yuuri nods, so Viktor grabs his phone and clambers out of bed, padding into the bathroom to answer it.

Viktor!” Phichit’s voice is too chipper even for nine in the morning. “You remember the reservation details for tonight, right?”

“Yeah,” Viktor grumbles into the receiver. “Six at the Cornerstone.”

Good.” Maybe he’s imagining things, but does Phichit sound a little… aggressive? “Try to keep this a secret from Yuuri for as long as you can, all right? We want him to be surprised. Just tell him to get dressed nice — and make sure he gets dressed nice, you know what he’s like when he’s not trying — and come with you to the restaurant.”

Viktor hums in assent. “Are they doing dessert?”

The cake?” Phichit makes a confused-sounding noise. “They do birthday ice-cream I think, but Other Yuri would kill us if we ordered that.” A pause. “What do you think we should do? I could ask Sara to ask Michele, or —”

“Don’t worry.” The words tumble out of Viktor’s mouth before he even has a chance to stop them. “I’ll take care of it.”

You will?” asks Phichit.

“I can bake it,” says Viktor. “I learnt how to bake for Cherry-Flipped, remember?”

Okay!” Phichit’s voice is bright again. “Just so you know, then — Yuuri will claim he’s not picky, but I know he’s a closeted chocolate fiend. You can make a chocolate cake, right?

“Chocolate cake?” Viktor wonders, and hopes that his voice isn’t too loud. “Easy peasy. I could bake one in my sleep.”

Great!” chirps Phichit. “Bring the cake over to the Cornerstone at five-thirty, then. And remember — don’t let Yuuri catch you!”

“Got it,” says Viktor, already starting to kick himself for his sudden impulsive decision. Why is he the one responsible for the cake? He doesn’t even have a present for Yuuri yet! And he’s probably expected to keep an eye on Yuuri today as well, just to make sure the selkie doesn’t end up uncovering the secret birthday dinner ahead of schedule.

He hangs up once Phichit hangs up, and puts his head in his hands. He is beyond screwed.

It takes him a couple minutes to gather his wits and return to the bedroom, where Yuuri is now sitting up in bed, checking his mobile messages with a smile on his face. He looks up when Viktor clambers back onto the bed, and shuffles forward for another good morning kiss that lingers on Viktor’s lips until his heart sings and his toes curl.

‘My mother says we’re invited over for lunch,’ Yuuri tells him once they break apart, his hands signing much more quickly now that he’s awake.

“For katsudon?” asks Viktor. Yuuri nods, and Viktor exhales just a little. Maybe the Katsukis might be able to help him out.

To: Mari Katsuki

From: Mari Katsuki
something wrong?

To: Mari Katsuki
i need someone to help me distract yuuri long enough so i can bake him a cake

From: Mari Katsuki

To: Mari Katsuki
look i didn’t get a present for yuuri bc i was too busy panicking over what to get him
and then phichit told me they didn’t have a cake
so i signed up to bake it
idk it just happened so soon and now i need someone to distract yuuri
and since we’re coming over for lunch anyway
thought i’d ask

From: Mari Katsuki
you can’t hear me but i’m laughing my ass off

To: Mari Katsuki
look just do me this favour ok
i’ll owe you
a lot
so many favours

From: Mari Katsuki
can you take my gre for me

To: Mari Katsuki
um… i could help you study?
though i’m not sure how helpful that would be

From: Mari Katsuki
ok w/e
you do know you could just convince him to go swimming right

To: Mari Katsuki
but could you keep an eye on him if he goes swimming then?

From: Mari Katsuki
i’ll see what i can do

Mari is clearly struggling not to laugh at him all throughout lunch. Every time her gaze shifts over to him, she hides a grin behind her hand, her eyes sparkling with mirth in a way eerily reminiscent of Yuuri’s. Viktor wants to kick her under the table, but there’s no way to do so properly when they’re all hunched together under a kotatsu in the last days before winter properly sets in.

Nevertheless, he hides his annoyance behind a placid smile and cheery words. After all, it’s entirely possible that they’ll really be family someday, and given how badly he messed up with Yuuri the first time, now he has to be extra careful.

In any case, it doesn’t seem like Yuuri has noticed Viktor’s silent annoyance at his sister. The birthday boy is avidly scarfing down a bowl of katsudon from next to him, the world around him narrowed to only the steaming rice and egg and the breaded pork cutlets. Viktor would feel excluded, if the sight of Yuuri utterly engrossed in his meal isn’t so damn endearing.

“Yuuri,” he says once Hiroko and Toshiya clear the dishes and Yuuri is fiddling with his phone, typing out responses to the group chat. “Want to go for a swim?”

‘Not so soon after eating,’ Yuuri replies, before shifting so that he’s half-leaning up against Viktor, half ensconced in the thick blanket of the kotatsu. Viktor swallows, hard. Next to him, Mari hides a snort in a bout of coughing.

Viktor presses a kiss to his hair and flashes Mari a glare. “But what about after you rest a bit?” he suggests. “I’ll go down with you. You brought your skin, right?”

Yuuri shakes his head. ‘We’ll have to fetch it from the cottage,’ he says, before returning to his scrolling.

Viktor nods. “Okay, then we’ll go to the little beach,” he concedes.

Yuuri nods, too. Viktor can see him responding to some texts from Phichit, and then turns away to glare at Mari, who flashes him the biggest shit-eating grin he’s ever seen.

“You’ve got that handled, Viktor?” she asks cheekily. “Can I return to the front desk?”

Viktor glowers at her, shakes his head. “You should come with us, Mari. Get some fresh air.”

“There’s no fresh air whenever I’m around,” replies Mari, tapping at the cigarette perched behind her ear with a grin. “But hey. If you insist.” And she continues to grin. Viktor sighs.

After a while, however, Yuuri shifts from his half-lying position against Viktor back up into a sitting one, and then clambers to his feet, putting his mobile away.

‘Let’s go swimming,’ he tells Viktor, and Viktor nods, taking his hand. He looks over at Mari, who’s also rising to her feet. ‘You’re coming, too?’

Mari nods. “I could do with the fresh air,” she replies.

There’s a little bounce in Yuuri’s step as he tugs Viktor out of the dining room at Yu-Topia and back through the lobby. Hiroko waves cheerfully at them from the front desk as they pass by, and Viktor waves back.

As they walk along the boardwalk, Viktor pulls up some chocolate cake recipes on his phone, bookmarking a couple before Yuuri entwines their fingers and leans his head on Viktor’s shoulder. Behind them, Mari is desperately trying not to laugh again.

At the cottage, Viktor takes the opportunity to rummage through the cupboards and grab his ingredients while Yuuri is busy hunting down his sealskin in their bedroom closet. Consequently, Mari ends up being the one lavishing Makkachin all of the attention, as the old poodle had been left behind to nap when Viktor and Yuuri went to Yu-Topia for lunch earlier.

“He’s getting on in years, isn’t he?” wonders Mari, scratching Makkachin behind the ears. Viktor turns in time to see her making the same kissy noises to Makkachin that Yuuri does, and laughs.

“Still holding on, though,” he points out. “He’s young at heart.”

Mari hums thoughtfully. Viktor returns to his cupboards.

After a moment, she speaks up again. “Why can’t you just tell him what you told me?”

Viktor sighs at that. “I just feel like I’m fucking up our first birthday together, and I don’t want him to feel bad knowing that,” he replies.

“You know, you hiding things from him hasn’t exactly been good for your track record,” Mari points out wryly.

“A cake is not a sealskin,” Viktor retorts, looking at the recipe again. “And I don’t have crème fraîche. Fuck.”

“Phichit could deliver some,” Mari points out.

Viktor nods, firing off a text to Phichit before returning to his inventory. There are footsteps, though, just as he takes out a set of mixing bowls, and Viktor has to set them hastily on the counter and block the other ingredients from view as Yuuri steps into the kitchen area with his feet bare and his sealskin folded under his arm.

They head down to the little beach together, Mari and Makkachin at a slower pace than Viktor and Yuuri. Being late November, the beach looks more desolate than usual, grey cloudy skies dimming the blueness of the water and a brisk breeze ruffling at their hair. Once upon the sand, Makkachin rushes for the waves, and Mari turns to give her brother some privacy as he begins to strip.

Despite Viktor’s internal clock yelling at him to get back to the kitchens and start baking, he stops to admire the slow slide of Yuuri’s hands along his body as the selkie undresses. Yuuri shivers a little in the cold autumn air as he finally steps out of his briefs and wraps his sealskin around him, and Viktor watches, with bated breath, as he wades out past a curious Makkachin and into the water.

He’ll never get used to this — the privilege of knowing that Yuuri is allowing him to see him like this, the knowledge that Yuuri trusts him enough to show such a vulnerable and hidden side of himself. Despite all that he has done, all that he has apologised for (and he has apologised for a lot in the months since their reunion in June), Yuuri still wants him in his life.

Stay close to me.

Katsudon the seal appears moments after Yuuri’s head submerges, and meets Viktor at the water’s edge. He bumps his head against Viktor’s hand before giving chase to Makkachin, dodging the dog’s lunges as he heads back for the rippling blue ocean. They play well together, Makkachin and Katsudon, even though now Katsudon has to give Makkachin more breaks than ever.

Viktor’s heart lodges in his throat for a moment before he looks over at Mari, who nods back towards the cottage.

And Viktor runs.

He doesn’t stop until he’s sequestered himself in the cottage’s kitchen, pulling up the chocolate cake recipe he’d bookmarked on his phone. Yuuri deserves something special for his birthday, something better than diamonds or a private island or the entire galaxy. New notebooks are too impersonal, poems too obvious. If Viktor could, he would pluck down every star and thread them through Yuuri’s hair, and turn the light of the moon so that it would reflect only Yuuri’s brilliance. But he can’t.

And so he must make do with a cake instead.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Ganache

by Rachel Stephens for BBC Good Food

There’s just something so quintessentially comforting about a good chocolate cake. Something loving in its sweet warmth and softness. Indeed, a truly good chocolate cake is a delicate balance of richness, moisture, and flavour, and I must admit, this particular recipe hits the mark just right.

I remember first making this cake for my cousin’s 6th birthday, when I had only been a couple years older than her. My grandmother helped me make the batter… [MORE]

Within an hour and after a delivery from an eminently amused Phichit, the kitchen is filled with the smell of a baking chocolate cake.

Viktor leans back against the counter, wiping some sweat from his brow as he now turns his attention to the chocolate melting in a bowl on the stove. Another bowl sits to the side with some melted butter and sugar, ready to be whipped into frosting. Yet another saucepan sits on the stove with nothing but chocolate, butter, and cream, ready to be turned into ganache.

Viktor is exhausted, and the cake’s barely just gone into the oven.

He’s folding the chocolate into the frosting mixture when he hears a dog’s bark and a set of footsteps on the threshold. Moments later, he feels a set of arms wrap around his waist, and a body press against his back. A shiver runs down his spine, though he is fairly certain he knows who is hugging him from behind. “Yuuri?” he asks, setting down the whisk.

Yuuri lets go of him so that Viktor can turn around, and once he does, Viktor almost wishes he hadn’t, because Yuuri is clad in nothing but the sealskin draped over his shoulders.

‘What are you doing?’ the selkie asks.

Viktor wonders if his cheeks match the current temperature of the oven. “Baking,” he says.

‘For what?’

Viktor swallows. “Um. Just because?”

Yuuri purses his lips. ‘I came back up, and you weren’t there,’ he points out. ‘Mari tried to keep me outside, but I had to know. She said you’d be in here, and then left.’

Of course Mari would throw him under the bus eventually. Viktor can’t blame her, though — Yuuri is very persuasive when he can be. For example, right at this moment, there’s a demanding tilt to Yuuri’s head, a dark gleam in his eyes. Viktor feels another shiver, despite the room being quite warm.

“I’m testing some new frostings for a new book,” he lies, gesturing to the bowl right behind him. “I’m thinking of moving it off the ice — maybe something about someone who works at a sex-themed bakery in Amsterdam.”

Yuuri raises an eyebrow, looking slightly sceptical before dipping a finger into the frosting and smearing it across Viktor’s lips. And then, before Viktor can lick it off himself, Yuuri leans in and does it for him.

It’s sweet. Probably a little bit too much. Not that Viktor really cares, of course, because the important part is that Yuuri is kissing him, and Yuuri probably already knows everything, because chances are, Mari has told him. Told him that Viktor’s such a bad boyfriend for not getting him any presents and now having to hide away the fact that he’s baking Yuuri’s birthday cake by foisting Yuuri like a burden onto his family members. Surely there’s no other explanation for this, for the heat and need that emanates from Yuuri’s kiss.

He shifts a little, so that he’s more heavily pressed against the counter, and with a soft flump Yuuri’s sealskin slips off his shoulders and onto the ground.

Yuuri pulls back from the kiss then, his breath coming fast and hard. Viktor buries his head in the crook of Yuuri’s neck, tastes the lingering seawater on his skin. He sees Makkachin slink out to the living room from the corner of his eye before returning his attentions to Yuuri’s neck, sucking a sweet line of marks down to his clavicle.

When he pulls back again, Yuuri has another fingerful of frosting, which he pops into his mouth with a very suggestive look in his eyes. Viktor swallows, feeling his trousers tighten in response. He looks at the timer on his phone, at the pots on the stove.

“Just a second,” he says, and stirs the ganache, lowering the heat on the stove before turning back to Yuuri and drinking in the sight of him with the thirst of a lost man in the desert.

Yuuri’s eyes sparkle a little. ‘Enjoying the view?’ he teases as he reaches past Viktor to swipe another dollop of frosting.

“Yuuri, please, that frosting —” Viktor begins, and then remembers that as far as he knows, Yuuri doesn’t know that the cake is for his birthday.

He’ll whip up another batch, if Yuuri ends up using this bowl for purposes other than frosting his own cake.

(Like, perhaps, himself.)

And with that thought in mind, Viktor grabs his phone and starts to unbutton his shirt. “Bedroom,” he mutters, and Yuuri is all too glad to comply.


The Party Train: chris and i are setting up shop at the cornerstone now!
lordofthedranks: we’re decorating ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Yuri Plisetsky: u guys are the worst at subtlety
Yuri Plisetsky: piglet’s going to look over at dogbreath’s phone and then we’re all screwed
Viktor Nikiforov: cake update
lordofthedranks: did u mean….
lordofthedranks: upcake
Yuri Plisetsky: fuck you
its_a_mila: wow /// such language yurio (((
Yuri Plisetsky: #blocked
Yuri Plisetsky: you’re no longer allowed to call me that
Yuri Plisetsky: no one in this chat is allowed to call me that
Viktor Nikiforov: ok ok upCAKE: it’s done baking
its_a_mila: is it #lit
The Party Train: aaayyyyy

Viktor Nikiforov is now Viktor NiCAKEforov

Viktor NiCAKEforov: thanks phichit
The Party Train: -bows-
The Party Train: drop it off w/e ur done ok
Viktor NiCAKEforov: i apologise in advance if it looks bad
Viktor NiCAKEforov: but it will taste good i assure you

The cake is.

Well, he’s not really sure what to call it. Good? Bad? It certainly doesn’t look like the picture on the recipe. But it doesn’t look inedible, either.

It just… is.

Viktor steps back from his creation, wiping at his brow with a sigh. Yuuri is asleep in the bedroom, having been lured into sweet dreams by Viktor’s hands and mouth. The bowl of frosting that he’d commandeered had to be discarded, of course, and another batch made to replace it. It wouldn’t do to have everyone at the party eat the old frosting after what they’d done with it, after all.

He’s out of chocolate, at any rate. So this will have to do.

Viktor hums, spinning the cake rack around again with a sigh. The frosting is dripping a little, oozing and mixing with the ganache. He’d tried a little of everything, and it all tastes fine, but the look?

Well, he’s not participating in the next Great British Bake Off, at any rate.

With a sigh, Viktor puts the cake into the cake holder that Phichit had conveniently dropped off for him earlier along with the crème fraîche. He checks in on Yuuri in the bedroom, satisfied to find him still asleep, before throwing on a set of trainers and rushing into town.

“Viktor!” Phichit exclaims, when Viktor arrives in the back room of the Cornerstone moments later, panting wildly as he looks around him. The entire restaurant is furnished like the lodge of a sea-worn captain, with numerous nautical memorabilia adorning the walls alongside old black-and-white photos of the Torvill Cove shoreline. However, in the back room for tonight there are the additional decorations of balloons and streamers in shades of blue and silver. A series of silver letter-shaped balloons are arranged to spell out ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY YUURI’, but the message is scrambled somewhat as the individual balloons seem to keep floating into different parts of the room.

Viktor hands the cake holder over to Phichit, who uncovers it and looks inside. “Wow!” Phichit says. “It… It looks pretty good!”

“It tastes better than it looks,” Viktor admits. “I learnt to bake for writing, not the other way around.”

Phichit laughs. “You know, it’s not too late for me to call Sara and have her brother come touch it up, you know. I heard he’s really good at that.”

“Probably should’ve had him bake the cake,” replies Viktor, shrugging. “I have to go. Yuuri will be waking up any moment.”

Phichit claps his forearm. “It’s a good cake, Viktor,” he says. “You can’t expect yourself to make a cake at Mickey’s level, okay? The guy went to Cordon Bleu. For the time and experience that you had, it’s really good.”

Viktor nods. “Right,” he says. “Thank you.” He’s not used to being the one on the receiving end of a pep talk, but Phichit is really quite good at giving them. With a smile and a wave, Viktor jogs back out of the restaurant and heads back for the cottage.

Sure enough, Yuuri is awake when Viktor enters the bedroom from the door leading through the bathroom, startling a little when Viktor closes the door behind him. The selkie wipes at his eyes, and Viktor’s heart immediately startles.

‘You weren’t there when I woke up,’ Yuuri signs as Viktor steps over to the bed. ‘I got a little worried.’

Viktor sighs. “You don’t need to worry,” he says. “I’m here for good.”

‘I know you are,’ Yuuri replies, and he bites his lip, looks down at his hands. ‘It’s just hard to remember sometimes. Especially —’ and he drops his hands, shakes his head, as if trying to chase some intrusive thought from his head that Viktor cannot begin to fathom.

Slowly, he clambers onto the bed and cups Yuuri’s cheek, running a thumb over glistening tear tracks. “I sometimes dream of the same thing,” Viktor admits quietly. “That I’ll wake up and things will be like they were last year. Without you.”

Yuuri swallows, blinks rapidly. Slowly he leans into Viktor’s touch, his hand coming up to meet Viktor’s.

He doesn’t need to say the words. He doesn’t even need to sign them. Viktor can tell, in the way Yuuri meets him halfway, just how much has grown and changed between them since their reunion. There are no more secrets and lies between them anymore.

Well, except maybe the fact that Viktor still hasn’t found a birthday present for him yet. But that’s something he could fix. He opens his mouth, and Yuuri raises an eyebrow, and the words get lodged in his throat.

“Let’s go out to dinner,” he says instead. “We’ll freshen up, get dressed in something nice, and go to the Cornerstone.”

Yuuri blinks. “You got reservations?” he asks.

Viktor swallows. “Well, in a way,” he replies, and kisses Yuuri’s nose. “I’ll see you in a bit, dear.”

Phichit the Nosy has sent a photo

To: Phichit the Nosy
!!! it’s perfect! how?

From: Phichit the Nosy
i texted sara for help and she brought sugared violets

To: Phichit the Nosy
thank you for dressing it up
i owe you one

They’re late for the party.

It takes Viktor ages to cobble together an outfit better suited for dinner. Of course, it also doesn’t help that he shares a closet with Yuuri now, and knows for a fact that the selkie is getting ready in the den just on the other side of the wall.

They feed Makkachin and keep the door open so he can go out, and then head off hand-in-hand down to the Cornerstone. The November breeze blows through the bare trees now, piles of leaves dancing in the light of the streetlamps. Viktor loves how the chill sends Yuuri burrowing deeper into his side.

It’s everything he’s ever dreamed of, and more — finally getting to spend more than just summer by Yuuri’s side is a life goal he’d never thought he’d attain. Until now, at least. Now, he gets to feel the warmth of a mittened hand in his, and pull his love in closer with a thick hand-knitted scarf, and kiss his wind-chapped lips as they listen to the steady roaring of the waves.

All of that means, however, that they’re late to Yuuri’s own party. Still, the look on Yuuri’s face when he steps into the room and the lights go on and his friends and family are wishing him a happy birthday is entirely worth it.

The rest of the night is a blur from then on, especially as the drinks and the food begin to flow. Viktor is content to stay by Yuuri’s side, translating his signs for people who are less adept at reading them, and pressing kisses to Yuuri’s hands whenever people aren’t looking (and sometimes when they are). He pointedly ignores the giant pile of presents in the corner of the room, focusing instead on the way Yuuri’s eyes crinkle when he smiles, or the way his mouth opens in sheer delight and silent laughter whenever someone tells him something funny.

Finally, though, the cake comes out, and Viktor can’t help the smile that splits his face as he watches Yuuri take in the sight with wide eyes.

The cake is beautiful now, covered within an inch of its life in sugared violets. Bits of the original frosting and ganache show through in bits and places, but on the whole, the cake now looks like a sugary masterpiece rather than the sad chocolate lump that Viktor had brought in.

Phichit puts candles into the cake, and Christophe lights them, and everyone sings together in some loud, slightly-off key explosion of celebration. Yuuri wipes at his eyes once everyone is done and thanks them in sign, and Phichit snaps a photo for Instagram.

Finally, the cake is cut and served, and Viktor cuts Yuuri the first forkful to feed to him. A little bit of frosting catches on the corner of Yuuri’s lips, and Viktor chases after it with his own.

“Get a room,” Yuri Plisetsky calls across the room.

Viktor flips him a rude hand gesture, and Yuuri giggles as he kisses him back.

‘This frosting tastes familiar,’ he remarks when they break apart, his brown eyes sparkling.

“That’d be because I made it,” Viktor replies with a smile. Yuuri gasps a little, and then lightly hits his shoulder.

‘So you mean to say you’re not actually writing a book on a sex-themed bakery in Amsterdam?’ he chides.

Viktor chuckles. “No, but now that you mention it, I do have some ideas.” He then takes one of the sugared violets, pressing it between Yuuri’s lips. “For example, I could have the couple in the novel do something like this.”

Yuuri raises an eyebrow, as if to ask him ‘like what’. Viktor grins in reply, and steals the flower from Yuuri’s lips in a sweet little kiss.

Natira Tucker @andorablecreature
Wishing @ykatsukiofficial a happy birthday

no.1 yk stan @shiftyshar
HAPPY BIRTHDAY @ykatsukiofficial

sixteen light years @costellations
it’s @ykatsukiofficial’s birthday! we can’t wait to read #onmylove next summer!

Madison Stuart @braveliedwrites
hbd to @ykatsukiofficial. wishing u all the best. can’t wait to read ur work xx

Viktor Nikiforov @vnikiforovofficial
Yuuri is very overwhelmed by the well-wishes of everyone on Twitter and Instagram! He says thank you. #onmylove

In the end, all of Yuuri’s presents somehow manage to fit into two cardboard boxes. The two of them each carry one back up to the cottage after the dinner, setting them down in the bedroom with extra gentleness so as to not startle Makkachin, who is sleeping on the rug at the foot of the bed.

“The kitchen’s such a mess,” Viktor laments, as Yuuri closes the doors to the bedroom and begins to pull his jumper over his head. “I should clean it before bed.”

Yuuri waggles a finger at him. ‘Tomorrow,’ he signs.

Viktor sighs, and begins to undo the buttons on his own cardigan. He’s interrupted by a soft touch at his shoulder, and turns to see Yuuri playing with the buttons of his own shirt.

‘Thank you,’ Yuuri signs, ‘for the excellent party.’

“Oh,” says Viktor. Because it does look rather apparent now that Yuuri thinks he’d set the entire thing up. “I — I can’t take credit for that. It was Phichit and Christophe.”

Yuuri raises an eyebrow. Viktor immediately feels that familiar clench of cold panic in his gut, and swallows.

“To be truthful, Yuuri,” he says, “I actually… only baked you a cake this year. I’m sorry. I should’ve gotten you another present, too. I just — I didn’t think it through. I didn’t know what to get you — there were too many things that I could have — but none were good enough —”

He’s cut off by Yuuri putting a finger to his lips. ‘Rambling,’ he explains with a smile. ‘It’s okay,’ he adds. ‘The cake was enough.’

“No, it wasn’t,” says Viktor. “This was my chance to show you that I knew you well and truly, and I blew it.”

He hears a little scoff. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ Yuuri tells him. ‘The cake was amazing. I could tell a lot of love went into it.’ The suggestive wag of his eyebrow makes Viktor’s collar suddenly feel too hot, as his mind hurtles back to the events of the afternoon. Just the memory of Yuuri coming undone beneath him, arching into the hungry licks of Viktor’s tongue as he devoured the stripes of frosting smeared all over his abdomen — it gets his heart racing and his breath coming short in his lungs, and Yuuri knows it.

Viktor steps forward, dropping to his knees before Yuuri. “I could make it up to you,” he says, tilting his head up to meet Yuuri’s darkened gaze. He watches the bob of Yuuri’s adam’s apple, watches Yuuri’s fingers come down and press teasingly at his hair partition, and smiles.

‘I told you once that I only needed you to be yourself to content me,’ Yuuri remarks after a moment, before extending a hand to help Viktor up. Viktor clambers to his feet, his heart pounding in his chest as Yuuri leads him back to their bed.

“Yeah?” he manages.

Yuuri chuckles. ‘Let me be myself, too,’ he pleads.

“Yeah,” says Viktor. There’s really nothing else he could say, at any rate.

Yuuri nods, satisfied. ‘Good,’ he says, ‘Because having you here with me again is better than any of those presents in that box.’

Viktor can’t help himself. He flings his arms around Yuuri, pressing him down onto the bed with kisses and heated touches. Yuuri responds in equal measure, his fingers tearing at Viktor’s shirt, fumbling with his buttons in his haste. Viktor’s heart is singing, his blood is pounding, his breath is stolen away.

Dimly, he remembers their first time together, but those memories are chased away in the heat of Yuuri’s lips on his pulse. Viktor barely has time to blink before Yuuri flips them, straddling his hips with a grin.

‘Happy birthday to me,’ Yuuri signs, shining in the starlight. He leans in, then, and kisses Viktor again.

And as he melts into his selkie’s touch, Viktor Nikiforov can’t help but agree.