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Viktor had never had a family. A lot of skaters were orphans of the sport, but he had been genuinely alone. He’d had an uncle who had taken him in as a baby but he’d had no interest in Viktor. There had been nannies, and after-school programs, and then more advanced programs as he showed potential, and by the time he was noticed his uncle had been more than happy to ship him off into Yakov’s accelerated program. When Viktor had been 14 he’d gotten a notice that his uncle had died, and Yakov had become his guardian, and then a few years later he’d been emancipated.

He’d been so fascinated by Yuuri’s family, by the fact that their affection and intimacy was strong even though they’d been apart for so long. He’d been staggered the first time Yuuri had brought him back and it felt like he was picking up just where he’d left off. There was warmth and love that survived and thrived through long absence, and Viktor loved Yuuri for so much, but he was immeasurably grateful that; for his unquestioning inclusion of Viktor into a real family.

Sometime around the 2018 Olympics Yuuko had called to furiously tell Yuuri she was going to have another kid and he needed to come help her kill her husband. Yuuri had told her that the Katsuki she wanted to help with murder was obviously Mari, and he’d hung up with a fond smile.

“Do you want children?” he’d asked Viktor later that night, after Viktor had bullied Yurio off of videochatting the triplets and into bed.

Viktor, unthinkingly, had laughed at him. They had Makkachin and the puppy and a 17-year-old Yurio. Yurio alone was child enough.

“Do you?” Viktor had asked, nervous suddenly.

“Not right now,” Yuuri said. “Maybe someday, but our family is nice as it is.”

“I CAN HEAR YOU TEXTING,” Viktor yelled.

“FUCK YOU,” Yurio shouted back, and there was the soft sound of one of his many plush cats hitting the door, and then the sound of him getting out of bed to retrieve it.

“Such a sweet child,” Yuuri murmured, and then dissolved into laughter.


They had inherited Yurio when Nikolai died.

“Oh thank God,” Mila had said when they’d walked into the practice arena, summoned by texts from eight members of the Russian team. “Lilia tried to talk to him but he just asked her if she was going to start the lesson or keep wasting his time. Then Yakov tried and you know how he handles feelings, so Georgi got it in his head that he’d step in, and well—I think that actually did help because Yura yelled at him for a solid two hours while Georgi kept just encouraging him to let out his feelings and cried at him. But now he’s down at the rink and Yakov is certain he’s going to break a leg or something.”

“He’s skating?” Yuuri asked, then shook his head like he’d asked a stupid question. Which was true, because if any of them had claimed they hadn’t run to the ice to avoid the realities of the world they’d be lying, and Yuuri knew that better than most.

“Of course he is,” Viktor said, and went down to the empty rink where Yurio was whipping around, setting up jumps he didn’t go through with because he might be an emotional wreck and an idiot, but he wasn’t stupid enough to derail his career and risk injury like this.

Yurio glanced at him, and then did a double-take, slowing. His eyes were bright and red-rimmed and his face was too pale, and he had his hair pulled back in a ponytail. Viktor wondered if he’d looked that young at 18, and then thought he probably had. That had been when he’d cut his hair; when he realized that even though he’d been skating at the senior level for two years he still wasn’t being taken seriously. It seemed fitting that Yurio was going to do the opposite: make everyone take him seriously as he grew out his hair and continued to look like a fragile bird. What a terrible, wonderful child.

“You need to sharpen those skates,” Viktor said briskly. “Or you’re going to hand JJ the Grand Prix this year. Maybe you feel bad about the last three years?”

“I fucking hate you, old man,” Yurio spat at him him, and Viktor smiled at him and continued to criticize every little detail until Yurio stomped off the ice. He let Yuuri unlace his skates and help him into his boots, and the simple kindness seemed, more than anything, to be what deflated him.

He was subdued as they gathered up his things, and Viktor tucked him into the back seat of the Bentley before settling behind the wheel and ignoring the way Yuuri closed his eyes fatalistically.

Yurio stayed silent as they sped through the streets of St. Petersburg for exactly twenty seconds, and then he started pounding on the back of Viktor’s seat and shouting that that feeling, just then, was them HYDROPLANING YOU ASSHOLE.

He took Yurio back to the penthouse instead of the shitbox apartment Yurio insisted on keeping for inexplicable teenaged reasons. Yurio shouted at him all the way up into the penthouse, and kept yelling as he showered, changed into the clothes Viktor kept for him, and collapsed onto the couch.

They ordered pizza from Mama Roma and Yurio demolished exactly two slices before he collapsed, dead asleep with his face pressed into Viktor’s shoulders and his legs sprawled over Yuuri’s lap.

“That was better than I expected,” Yuuri admitted.

“Except now we can’t move,” Viktor pointed out, and they spent the better part of the next ten minutes trying to get the remote control and the pizza box off the coffee table, which was so close and so far.

Otabek had shown up two hours later, just when Viktor was resigning himself to having to sleep on the couch, sitting upright. Otabek looked harried and a little stale, the way people did after long flights, and Yurio, with some kind of sixth sense, sat straight up, stared at him for a beat, and started yelling at him for missing Grand Prix training and how stupid he was for coming, honestly, didn’t he care about his career at all?

“I care about you more,” Otabek had said, and Yurio had stopped right there, like someone had pushed mute, and then he started sobbing.

Otabek, Hero of Kazakhstan, picked him up and took him into the guest bedroom.

"He has a KEY," Viktor hissed at Yuuri accusingly. Yuuri rubbed his eyes and then gave Viktor a long, long look.

“You gave him the key,” Yuuri said as he headed to the bathroom. “You told him to come.”

Viktor ignored that obvious lie, and listened hard, but mostly what he heard were tissues being pulled out of the box and the low murmur of Otabek’s voice. "Did you know they were this serious?” he demanded as he came into the bathroom to brush his teeth.

"You did too," Yuuri reminded him from the bedroom, climbing under the covers and yawning widely. "You told him you had connections to the mob."

"I do," Viktor said. He had connections to Putin, which was practically the same thing. Well, they’d had dinner a couple of times, but Viktor was a goddamn national treasure.

“He’s going to slaughter at the Grand Prix this year,” Yuuri predicted. “I almost feel bad for everyone else.”

He hadn’t been wrong.


At the 2018 Olympics Yurio had been 17 and won silver, and if anyone other than Otabek had taken gold, Viktor was pretty sure Yurio would have pulled a Tonya Harding. Luckily it had been Otabek, and Yurio had pulled a Yurio, going after every major award there was and, in the intervening four years, winning Nationals 3 times, 4 Grand Prix golds, and 4 Worlds. By the time the 2022 Olympics rolled around, it was a given that the gold was his to lose, and at 21 Yurio was looking at a long career.

Viktor thought that Yurio might even manage to not have the existential crisis Viktor had had at 28. He might get all the way to 30 out of sheer spite. Viktor was sort of looking forward to it, to be honest, but first they had to win Yurio’s first Olympic gold.

"Remember how JJ croaked at the Grand Prix in ‘15," Viktor said as Yurio took off his guards to get ready to warm up. The short program was going to be no problem for him. Technically and artistically it was beautiful: the only thing that could hurt Yurio at the Olympics was himself, and Viktor wasn’t stupid enough to think that Yurio couldn’t choke. Everyone could choke.

Predictably, Yurio’s head snapped up, and he glared furiously. Behind him Yuuri sighed and rolled his eyes.

“You look like a drowned cat when you’re angry,” Viktor told him cheerfully, and sent him off into warm up.

"Jesus Christ I hate you," Yurio swore, throwing his guards at Viktor’s head. "JJ."

“That was mean,” Yuuri said around a grin, and Viktor shrugged. Maybe it was mean, but it always worked. Yurio’s buttons were obvious and Viktor’s dearest friends. He’d never had a knack for music, but Yurio he could play like a maestro.

Yurio did a few laps before coming back over to the boards.

“Do you need to do the jumps, or skate through?” Viktor asked.

“Skate,” Yurio said, taking the water bottle Yuuri offered him. He looked calm, and Viktor nodded.

“Single all the jumps, don’t do the combos,” he said. “We both know you can do them, just get a feel for the ice, the space.”

“I’m going to kill them all,” Yurio said, and Viktor laughed.

“I know,” he said, and gave him two thumbs up as Yurio sped away to go through the program.

Viktor watched carefully as he skated through, not quite fully committing to the motions, but it was obvious he’d been taking ballet for years. There was a grace in his fingertips, even his most casual motions seemed deliberate. He was, Viktor could admit, better than Viktor had been. He didn’t have Viktor’s talent for choreography or music, but in execution, if they’d been competing against each other, it would have been a bloodbath.

“He’s going to do the sow,” Yuuri said, and Viktor sighed.

“He can’t help it,” he said. “He’s a show-off.”

Yurio did set up the jump, and then it faltered almost like he was trying to turn it into a single anyway, but he was too high, and he wound up hitting the ice on his side and sliding into the boards.

“So dramatic,” Yuuri sighed, and he was—Yurio was the most dramatic person Viktor had ever met, including himself, but this wasn’t that.

He was halfway across the ice before he realized, but of course Otabek beat him to Yurio because Otabek had skates and it was his practice time too.

“—your eyes,” Otabek was saying when Viktor crashed to his knees beside them. Yurio’s eyes were closed, and that seemed—in movies, when people died their eyes were open, so he couldn’t be dead, just passed out or—

“Oh my God,” Otabek said, pulling Yurio against his chest. “Oh my God.”

“Beka,” Viktor said gently, reaching out to touch the top of Yurio’s head, holding Otabek’s shoulder with his other hand. The paramedics reached them, and Otabek said, stupidly as they gently pulled Yurio from him,

“But I was going to marry him.”


MikeTirico
@miketirico
21yo Russian mens figure skater Yuri Plisetsky just collapsed during practice ahead of tonight’s short program. bit.ly/2m3-bf3Tf

Stéphane Lambiel
@StephaneLambiel
Yuri Plisetsky was just rushed off the ice by paramedics after a bad fall during practice


The first time Viktor could remember seeing Yuri Plisetsky, Yuri had been nine and attending one of Yakov’s bootcamps.

It had been late at night, and Viktor was sure that Yuri was not supposed to be out of bed, but he’d been this tiny little thing whipping around the rink, his round cheeks flushed and his clear blue eyes peaceful. He’d thrown in a couple of effortless jumps, just for the joy of doing them, and Viktor had been enchanted.

He’d been fascinated the next day in the locker room when he’d seen the tiny angelic child snarling at a boy who had a least forty centimeters and thirty kilos on him. Viktor didn’t have a talent for remembering people, but he’d remembered Yurio each time, that stubborn jaw and the absolute contradiction in him.

When people asked Viktor if he regretted giving up his skating career to support Yuuri’s, and then Yurio’s, he was always been baffled. He’d loved skating because it was all he’d had, it had been a small, narrow world, but it had been his. And then he had Yuuri, and then Yurio—different, certainly, but Yurio hadn’t let Viktor push him away and Viktor was grateful every day that he’d stalked him to a tiny town in Japan at 15, because it had been his privilege these last six years to watch Yurio grow from a delightfully mean, angelic child into a delightfully mean, beautiful young man.


“I’m sorry,” the doctor said as he came into the waiting area. “There was nothing we could do. It was a brain aneurysm. He was probably dead before he hit the ice. It was very sudden, he would have felt no pain.”

“He had a headache this morning,” Yuuri said, his grip on Viktor’s turning painful. “He had two cups of coffee, because he had a headache.”

Yuuri had cut him off at two. Yurio had sulked aggressively at him all the way to the venue.

“Sometimes that’s a symptom,” the doctor said, nodding gently, “but it could just have been an unrelated headache. Often there are no symptoms, no warning. I’m very sorry. We will do a full autopsy, of course, but—“

“Can we see him?” Viktor interrupted.

The doctor looked at him, surprised, but Viktor was looking at Otabek. Viktor didn’t know, if it was Yuuri, if he would want to see him, if he would want that to be his last memory, but how could this be worse than holding Yurio’s limp body in his arms, pleading with him to come back?

“Ah-yes,” the doctor said. “If you—would like, yes. You can say your goodbyes.”

“No,” Otabek said, and his eyes didn’t quite meet Viktor’s, sliding instead to Yuuri. People did that sometimes, when they couldn’t look at Viktor, they could always face Yuuri. When people couldn’t—hadn’t been able to—face Yurio they had looked at Viktor. “I can’t—I just. I can’t.”

“You don’t have to,” Yuuri said instantly. “Of course you don’t have to.”

“I just—he hates being alone,” Viktor said helplessly as he took a step towards the room. It was the wrong thing to say, even if it was true, and Otabek’s face crumpled for an instant. A loud, wracking sob shook him, and Yuuri went to him while Viktor went into Yurio’s room. It was blue-lit, and Yurio looked so small on the bed. Someone had pulled a blanket over him, covering his body. There were remnants of his costume in the trash, hastily cut away, and that was some comfort.

They had tried. They had tried to save him, bring him back. They hadn’t just wheeled him into the room and called it. Yurio deserved to have people fight for him when he couldn’t.

“You’re a terrible child,” Viktor told Yurio, dragging a chair over to the bed and sitting in it. “You were always terrible. Loud and angry and too talented and determined. Yakov was always convinced you’d either be the greatest skater who ever lived or you were going to break every bone in your body trying. This—this is excessive, even for you. No one else takes ‘die trying’ as a challenge, Yurio.”

He didn’t look like he was asleep. Viktor didn’t know why people said that, “Oh, he looks so peaceful.” He didn’t. He looked…gone. Like the wax figurine of Viktor in one of those American museums, modeled after him but off, not quite there, somehow. For one thing, the room was quiet. He got up, unable to sit anymore. His chest felt tight. “Goddamnit,” he whispered, tears starting to slide down his cheeks. He brought a shaking hand up to wipe at his face. “Yurio.”

At least he wouldn’t have to tell Yakov, or Yurio’s grandfather. They were probably already yelling at Yurio in heaven, which was cold comfort, but at least some comfort. Lilia would just disappear and get drunk, but Viktor was going to have to tell Mila and Georgi. Yuuri wrapped his hand around Viktor’s as he pulled his phone out. Viktor hadn’t even heard him come in.

“I already texted everyone who needed to know,” Yuuri said, his voice shaking, and his cheeks were wet too. Viktor thought that Yuuri had loved Yurio just as well as he had, maybe better, in his own way. Yuuri had been the one Yurio had adored—

“The doctors said they have to take him, now. To do an autopsy. Apparently someone on the American side already said something about doping.”

Viktor stared at him, and then at Yurio. “Yes, this is clearly the figure of a man on steroids,” he snarled.

“I know,” Yuuri agreed, and his eyes didn’t quite make it to Yurio—glancing over and halting halfway, like he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. Viktor didn’t want him to. He knew he should take Yuuri out of this room, because Yurio was past the point of caring, but he just couldn’t bring himself to leave him alone. Even when Yurio had wanted his space he had done it in an aggressive kind of way, invading rooms and suites and apartments and sulking on public couches or in corners. Yurio had been alone a lot as a child. Viktor understood that.

“I’ll be right out,” Viktor said. “I just need another—I just need to finish saying goodbye.”

He sat in the chair after Yuuri left, and composed and erased the tweet eight times before pressing his thumb to the blue Tweet button on the screen.


Viktor Nikiforov
@ViktorNikiforov
Yuri Plisetsky died of a brain aneurysm at practice today. He was the greatest skater I have ever seen, and I was privileged to be his coach

Viktor Nikiforov
@ViktorNikiforov
I loved Yurio. He was a son to me. I am truly devastated.

AP
@AP
Russian Olympian Yuri Plisetsky, 21, dies during practice skate. apne.ws/2medx6YU88249z
Phichit Chulanont
@phichitchu
Yuri. No. NO. I can’t believe this. I am heartbroken.

Katsuski Yuuri
@YuuriOnIce
Yurio.
RT @ViktorNikiforov I loved Yurio. He was a son to me. I am truly devastated.

Christophe Giacometti
@ItsChristophe
The first time I saw Yuri Plisetsky skate I knew I wanted to watch him forever. He had so much left to give. I’m destroyed by grief.

Leo de la Igelesia
@LeodelaIglesia
Yuri Plisetsky was an inspiration to us all. I can’t believe he’s gone. No words.

Olympics 2022
@Olympics
The Olympics are about being the best and brightest. Yuri Plisetsky was both of those, and our community is darker in his absence.

Mila Babicheva
@itsjustmila
There are no words. I will skate for him, because i know he’d be so pissed if i didn’t but i am destroyed

Johnny Weir
@JohnnyGWeir
After devastating news about #Yurio, @Olympic s considering canceling tonight’s men’s skate.

Ji Guang-Hong
@jiguanghong
Terrible news about Yuri. I can’t believe it.

Michele Crispino
@mickeycrispino
Figure skating lost a giant today. Rest in peace Yuri, you’re gone too soon.

Olympics
@Olympics
Due to today’s tragedy mens figure skating is postponed until tomorrow night. The women will skate tonight at planned.

Sara Crispino
@saracrispino
My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones. We all lost a family member today.

JJ Leroy
@KingJJStylez
Devastated to hear about the death of Yuri Plisetsky. A great skater and a greater friend, I’ll miss you Yuri.

FigureSkatingRu
@figureskatingru
Yuri Plisetsky died earlier today. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. We are deeply saddened by his loss.

Emil Nekola
@EmilNekola
I always felt like we were all just chasing after him. Devastated he’s gone where we can’t follow.

Isabella Yang
@isabellayang
Yuri Plisetsky was a gift to the skating world. I can’t believe he’s gone.

Celestino Cialdini
@celestinocialdini
Yuri Plisetsky was a true artist who redefined the sport every time he stepped onto the ice. I am devastated that we have lost him so soon.

Lee Seung-Gil
@LeeSeungGil
There will never be anyone like Yuri Plisetsky. Today is a dark day for everyone who knew him.

Georgi Popovich
@GeorgiSkates
Goodbye, my friend, goodbye
My love, you are in my heart.
It was preordained we should part
And be reunited by and by.

NBC Olympics
@NBCOlympics
Viktor Nikiforov to give a press conference on the death of Russian Olympic skater Yuri Plisetsky. Watch live tw.nbcsports.com/8z21101q 


They couldn’t cancel the Olympics, not even the men’s figure skating portion of it, and they were furious Viktor had held a press conference already.

“Of course, if you feel the need to recuse yourself—“ one of the IOC officials said to Otabek, who looked up and made eye contact with someone for the first time since the doctor had come out to them in the waiting room of the hospital two hours ago. They were all still there, squirreled away in a conference room that felt straight out of some kind of gleaming corporate building, not a place where people came to be sick. The lights were bright, the table glass and spotless, the chairs sleek metal and leather, and it seemed like the least comforting place in the entire world. Viktor hated this city.

“No,” Otabek said, and he glanced over at Viktor, at Yuuri, whose hand was cold in Viktor’s no matter how long Viktor held it. “No, I’ll skate.”

Karpisek, Otabek’s coach, shot him a narrow look, but Viktor nodded. “Of course he will,” he said into the dubious silence. “Yurio would kill him if he got anything less than gold.”

Karpisek went from looking worried about Otabek to furious with Viktor, shooting him a truly venomous look, but it was the truth. Viktor was half-tempted to demand they let him skate so he could win Yurio the gold himself, but if at 25 Otabek was old, at 33 Viktor was ancient. And Otabek had been training for the Olympics and Viktor absolutely hadn’t been, so fittingly, Otabek was still Yurio’s champion.

The IOC members exchanged looks, all eight of them with their pressed suits and their slicked-back hair, worried about saving face and pressing onward and not about the gaping hole in the center of this room. Not about the boy in the morgue. It was all about optics and the integrity of the games.

Yuuri squeezed Viktor’s hand and he realized he’d been grinding his teeth.

They delayed the short program, pushed everything back a day. One of them made a statement from the hospital, and the others vanished into their black SUVs and headed towards whatever hellscape they’d come out of.

The hotel was a riot zone. All of the skaters were in Viktor and Yuuri’s suite, crying and confused and their coaches let them listen to Viktor’s explanations and then hauled them back to their rooms in the Olympic Village.

Viktor went back to the Village to get Yurio’s things. Costumes, a bottle of vodka because he was terrible, a carryon of clothes, and that stupid stuffed tiger Yuuri had given him for his sixteenth birthday.

He came back feeling disconnected, and he could hear Yuuri but couldn’t see him, and then he found him in the bedroom at the desk. His face was red and swollen and Viktor’s Japanese was nearly-fluent at this point but he could barely understand Yuuri through the sobbing. He carefully put everything down and joined him at the computer, and when the Katsukis saw him there was an outcry, deep sympathy for him specifically, because of course he had lost Yurio.

Viktor bowed and thanked them and got up quickly, his eyes hot. He sat down on the couch and turned on the TV, groaning at the sight of his own press conference behind Johnny and Tara’s heads. Save him from American broadcasts—and then his finger froze because they were talking about the doping allegations. Or, Tara was talking about it with the anchor-of-the-moment, and Johnny was texting.

Viktor’s phone buzzed.

WTF Johnny had sent.

fucking no Viktor texted back. It was kind of fascinating to watch Johnny glance back down at his phone and then nod and reengage in the conversation. Viktor flipped the channels until he found a rerun of Pleasant Goat and Big Grey Wolf, which had been his constant companion while staying in Chinese hotels.

Eventually Yuuri wound up beside him, and Viktor supposed they must have dozed because eventually his alarm went off, and it was time to go to the venue.

In its infinite wisdom and empathy, there was an organizer there with three lawyers who decided to lecture the skaters pre-warm-up about how no deviations would be allowed. However much the skaters might like to make an homage to Mr. Plisetsky, stick to the routines. Honor him by doing their best, and know that the judges would not be making allowances or excuses.

The hostility in the room was beautiful, and Viktor caught himself looking for Yurio, certain he was the source of it.

For a second he forgot. For a second he was okay.


The 2022 gold medal had been Yurio’s to lose, and he had in the most ostentatious way anyone ever had.

Otabek won it for him.

In the kiss and cry after the long program, Yuuri and Viktor held onto Otabek, who clutched Yurio’s plush tiger. The three of them pretended that they were crying tears of joy and that their hearts weren’t breaking all over again.

“He would be proud of you,” Yuuri told Otabek.

“Well, he’d’ve been furious, and he might have kneecapped you,” Viktor amended, and Otabek stared at him for a second before choking out a laugh that caught in his throat, and he buried his face in the plush tiger and Viktor held onto him, because right now they were all doing the things that Yurio couldn’t.


Surprising no one who had ever been to an Olympics before, it was glaringly apparent that the IOC was more concerned about the optics than the skaters. A grim-faced man warned Viktor that he couldn’t go up on the podium; he couldn’t step onto the ice. There would be security guards, he insisted. Viktor thought about punching him, but ultimately he just felt too exhausted to even bother, so instead he clutched Yurio’s tiger and went to congratulate Phichit and Guang-Hong.

“What did they think I’m going to do, take Yurio’s ashes and throw them like confetti all over everyone? He hasn’t even been cremated yet,” Viktor muttered to Yuuri a little later, slouching down next to him and watching Karpisek stand in front of Otabek, who was slumped down in his chair. The frustrated officials kept trying to get to Otabek, but Karpisek just shifted his bulk and narrowed his eyes behind his violet sunglasses.

They weren’t so terrible, really, upon review. Viktor had been unkind in the past, he could see that now.

“Maybe,” Yuuri sighed, looking just as worn down as Viktor felt, taking the tiger from him and clutching it tight. “I don’t think this has happened before. They’re just being—thorough.”

As soon as the lawyers left Otabek lurched out of his chair and stormed over to them, his face hard.

“Fuck them,” he snarled. “Just. Fuck them.”

“What?” Viktor demanded, leaping to his feet and furious already. He felt like he was swinging between numb and angry and was terrified to settle anywhere else. Yuuri had already booked them tickets to Hasetsu, and Viktor just had to hold on until then.

“They told me that I could be stripped of my gold if I do anything at the ceremony,” Otabek said. He pointed at Viktor, his dark eyes glittering. “I’m going to do something at the ceremony.”

“I know,” Viktor said, gripping Otabek’s shoulder hard.


Otabek stood on the podium, and accepted his gold medal, and then he looked at Phichit, who was openly weeping, and who instantly made room for him to join him on the silver podium. Otabek took off his gold, kissed it, and laid it and his bouquet on the winner’s step. Phichit and Guang-Hong laid their bouquets down as well, and beside him Viktor could feel Yuuri crying. He felt—numb. Furious and numb. This stupid child, this was just so—typical. Of Yurio.

Around him the crowd hushed, and then leapt into a deafening, wordless roar of grief and approval. Flowers and plush tigers and cats showered down onto the ice in direct violation of IOC regulations, and Yuuri pulled him out onto the ice, walking up the blue carpet as officials yelled at their backs.

Yuuri picked up the medal with shaking fingers, and then looped it around the neck of Yurio’s tiger, holding it up. The crowd screamed, and Viktor smiled, wrapping an arm around Otabek’s shoulders.

“This isn’t how I pictured this,” he told Otabek.

“I was going to propose tonight,” Otabek said, staring up at the crowd, his face tight.

“Fuck,” Viktor exhaled, and watched as Phichit took the tiger from Yuuri, who was crying unashamedly and held it above his head. The entire ceremony had been derailed, and people would be furious, and Viktor couldn’t help thinking that Yurio would have loved this, too.


“I hate people who die,” Yurio said after his grandfather’s funeral. He narrowed his eyes and pointed at them both. “Don’t even think about it.”

“How old do you think I am?” Viktor had demanded as they walked to the car, looking at Yuuri for help, which was a mistake because Yuuri was very cruel about Viktor’s hair. Which was rich, given Yuuri’s frankly sexual feelings about said hair.

“I don’t know, like, sixty? Don’t sixty-year-olds go bald?” Yurio asked, with the callous cruelty of youth and the targeted cruelty of the meanest little shit to ever walk the face of the Earth. God, Viktor loved this stupid kid.

Yuuri laughed and smothered it quickly at the sharp looks from the other funeral-goers as they walked back to Viktor’s Ferrari.

“I should probably drive,” Yurio mused. “So we don’t die.”
He held his hand out expectantly and Viktor reached out and ruffled his hair. “You’re a terrible, terrible child,” he said fondly, and shoved him towards the back seat.

“Well, you’re stuck with me now,” Yurio told him, and Viktor rolled his eyes and sighed heavily as he started the car before exchanging a smirk with Yuuri. They’d been stuck with Yurio since he’d been 15, and really Viktor’s only hope of getting rid of him was to marry him off to that nice Kazakh boy.

But not until he was 30 or so.

Maybe 35.

“What a terrible thing to say,” Viktor said instead. “Now let’s talk about how you’re going to win gold in 2022 and not let your illicit love affair kneecap you.”

“Oh my god it’s not illicit,” Yurio groaned, and then, “OH MY GOD HOW DID WE JUST SKID IT’S FUCKING JULY THE ROAD IS DRY.”

Viktor smiled and flicked on his sunglasses and glanced into the back at the cemetery they were leaving in the rearview.

Don’t worry, Nikolai, he thought. I’ll take care of him.