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Viktor finds out about An An on a routine Sunday morning while browsing photos of Yuuri online. When Yuuri rolls onto his side to say good morning, he sees his name in the search bar on his husband’s phone and grins.


Viktor kisses the top of his head, shameless.

“Good morning! Someone on Twitter asked for my favorite recent photo of you.”


Viktor hums in distracted confirmation as he scrolls through photos. “Ah, Yuuri, you’re too photogenic,” Viktor sighs. “I can’t decide between this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one. Or this one. Oh, I didn’t notice this one. Aww, Yuuri, you were so young in this one!”

Yuuri smiles and takes refuge beneath his pillow and doesn’t emerge until he hears Viktor say, “Oh. Your little fan showed up, too.”

It’s spoken with enough knowing affection that Yuuri understands immediately who Viktor’s talking about. Sure enough, when he peeks at the screen he spots a shot of Minami mixed in with the search results. It’s a thing that’s been happening with more and more frequency lately, what with Yuuri living in Russia for the foreseeable future. The media back home have turned more and more of the spotlight on Minami, who absorbs it like an unfurling flower. His cheerful charisma and silver at Nationals last year have earned him more exposure, some big-name endorsements, and several appearances on variety shows.

The past year’s changes are somehow more apparent in print. Minami’s face is a bit slimmer and his hair has grown out a little more, all black now except for a thick lock in front dyed three separate shades of violet. The bit of added bulk from his short-lived experiment with muscle training has worn off since summer ended, and his body seems to have reverted to its natural state of lean and narrow.

“Ah, I think this is from An An,” Yuuri says, studying the neutral-colored background and the way Minami’s loose V-neck falls off his shoulder. “It’s a women’s magazine and a pretty big name to get. Good for him.”

Viktor’s eyebrows arch delicately with skepticism. “Isn’t he, like, fifteen?” he asks, as if he didn’t help Yuuri choose a birthday gift for him a few months ago.

“You know he’s not,” Yuuri says. “Don’t worry, it’s not like it’s the sex edition.”

There have been a number of moments in Yuuri’s life when something casual he’s said has resulted in cataclysm. Some people who experience cataclysmic moments eventually learn the ways of avoiding them, but not Yuuri. Not when Viktor’s fingertips have been massaging his scalp so slowly and sinuously that none of Yuuri’s higher brain functions are operating well enough to foresee danger.

All Yuuri can do in his incapacitated state is realize his mistake as Viktor prompts, “Sex edition?”

Within four hours, Viktor has become a fan.

He manages to find a few pages of past sex editions online, and when he runs low on those, he calls upon his fanbase to provide him with more. They perform this task with troubling speed, almost as if they’ve had their responses saved as drafts for months in advance.

Even Chris replies with a list of his favorite volumes and a few thumbs-up emoji.

By dinner, Viktor also manages to discover that An An’s editor-in-chief has politely requested Yuuri and Viktor to appear in the annual sex edition no less than six times over the last two years.

(Yuuri has politely turned her down an equal number of times.)

Even though it’s Viktor’s last competitive season and he has things of much greater importance to focus on, Viktor decides instead to try coaxing Yuuri to appear mostly naked on the cover of a Japanese women’s magazine.

“Is this an avoidance strategy?” Yuuri asks one afternoon at the rink as Viktor’s massaging Yuuri’s sore feet for him.

Viktor beams up at him. “Yuuri, your English is so advanced. I don’t think I need to tell you sexy I find it.”

Fourteen-year-old Nikolai snickers as he heads past them into the showers and Yuri gives an obligatory shudder of revulsion as he digs through his locker.

Yuuri smiles fondly and kisses the top of Viktor’s head. After three years together, he knows when to let Viktor avoid the subject.

Yuri turns and brandishes a damp sock at them. “Don’t let him sweet talk you into doing porn,” he tells Yuuri. Then he grimaces and mutters to himself in Russian, “I can’t believe my life has reached the point that I have to say things like this.”

“I won’t, Yura,” Yuuri says, mostly meaning it.

Viktor merrily pretends not to hear them as he works his thumb against the tender arch of Yuuri’s left foot.

Four days after finding out about An An’s very existence, Viktor manages not only to find but also order every An An sex edition from the last ten years. When the box arrives at their apartment early on Thursday morning, Yuuri watches from the sofa as Viktor takes out the first magazine with the same care he’d give a newborn puppy.

“2009,” Viktor says brightly. “Excellent year, but we could do better.”

Yuuri decides to ignore that. “Who helped you get these?” he asks instead.

“No one,” Viktor answers. “I’ve been studying Japanese for three years now, Yuuri, but thank you for underestimating me. In fact, I can even read this lovely note the seller included. ‘Dear Mr. Brighter Than His Husband Thinks He Is—’”

Yuuri smiles and pokes Viktor’s lower back with his socked toe. Viktor reaches back without looking and squeezes the sole of Yuuri’s foot.

The next ten minutes pass in relative silence, Viktor preoccupied with his new treasures while Yuuri catches up on their friends’ latest updates. On Instagram, Otabek’s posted a photo of a plane ticket to Russia, which explains Yuri’s distraction all week; JJ’s put up a video of himself trying to teach his daughter Celia Celina how to make C’s with her hands; and Phichit’s latest photo is a flawlessly-framed shot of himself resting his chin on the head of Seung-Gil’s husky, who appears to be wearing Seung-Gil’s Olympic silver medal from 2018.

Yuuri likes all of them and comments on Phichit’s: [I think that counts as ‘putting clothes on the dog.’] He grins and sits back as the inevitable unfolds.

No way!

Katsuki is right. Put my medal back.

What if I just hold it in front of her?

No. Only Olympic gold is good enough for her.

!!!!!!!! IS THAT A CHALLENGE!!!!?????


Yuuri laughs and switches over to Twitter, where news of Mathieu’s proposal has finally reached the general public. Predictably, Chris is still playing coy with his fans.

[WAIT OMG??? Are you married now!?!?] one fan has written.

Chris has responded with the eggplant emoji and a gif of a penguin falling over.

Judging by the sixteen comments that follow, his fans are pretty evenly split between amused and playfully enraged. The most recent tweet is, [WHAT DOES THAT MEAN??????] from an account Yuuri is almost positive belongs to Minako-sensei.

From the floor, Viktor coos, “Yuuri!” and presents the magazine he’s holding. Taking up the majority of the page is a male, mostly nude Japanese celebrity Yuuri doesn’t even recognize. The man is on his hands and knees over a foreign model whose arms are wound loose around his neck. “How could you turn down such a salacious opportunity?” Viktor asks, sounding wounded.

Yuuri doesn’t deign to answer that. He gives Viktor a tiny smile and shrugs, a gesture he learned and used often in Detroit. When Viktor sighs and returns to perusing the text with intense focus, Yuuri hides his broadening smile behind his hand and opens a message from Mila. She’s sent him several links to YouTube videos and a brief note in English that says, [Making a playlist for dinner with Sara. Thoughts?]

Yuuri dons his earbuds and makes it to the third verse of the first song before he actually starts to catch the meaning behind some of the lyrics. His face heats as he writes, [How strong is Sara’s Russian?] and sends it, thinking he already knows the answer.


[This is pretty…BDSM-ish.]

[And may I ask how you know what they’re saying?]

He isn’t about to tell her the truth and she’s been nosing a little too persistently into his sex life lately, so he writes, [Lilia.]

Six different horrified gifs appear in impressively rapid succession. He wonders if this is the entirety of her collection or if she has more stored up in case of an even more dire provocation.

[Foul, Katsuki. Red flag. Penalty crate.]

[Penalty box?]

[That, yes. Shut up.]


Yuuri tugs out one of his earbuds. “Yes?”

Viktor’s eyes, both amused and impatient from trying to get Yuuri’s attention, grow comically large as some of the lyrics leak out. “What are you listening to?” he asks in Russian.

Yuuri blushes furiously and closes out of the tab, cursing his karmic luck. “Nothing!” he says emphatically. “Mila—nothing. What?”

Viktor doesn’t push him. Instead, he rests his chin on Yuuri’s knee and gives him The Face. The sweet, adoring face that appears whenever Viktor wants something he suspects Yuuri won’t let him have. Why he thinks Yuuri would ever deny him anything is a perpetual mystery, especially after he let Viktor hang an ostentatiously large framed print from their wedding over their bed without complaint. Yuuri even helped choose the frame.

Still, Yuuri trusts in his remaining tendril of self-preservation and says, “Absolutely not.”

Viktor’s personal boundaries when it comes to photoshoots are much more flexible than Yuuri’s, so whenever they receive offers to model as a pair, Viktor defers to Yuuri. He’s even given his manager and Dalia, Yuuri’s manager, a standing condition to abide by: “If Yuuri’s not comfortable with it, the answer is no.”

In the beginning, Yuuri told Viktor about every offer he’d turned down, trying to gauge how much it bothered Viktor to miss out on those opportunities. But when it became clear that Viktor didn’t mind, Yuuri gradually stopped mentioning them, immensely relieved. He never even brought up An An; he somehow didn’t foresee his husband developing an obsession with it.

Which means Viktor must have heard about the sex edition offers from Dalia. Yuuri’s never been able to figure out when or how, but he knows the two of them trade information on him.

On Friday evening, after they’ve seen Yuri off from their apartment in a taxi, Viktor curls his arm around Yuuri’s shoulders and asks, “Do you think you’d ever reconsider?” and Yuuri leans on him and tells him, “Probably not. No.”

When Sunday rolls around again, Yuuri wakes up to early afternoon sunlight and Viktor gently massaging his neck. Yuuri moans and kisses Viktor’s forearm to encourage more of this, and Viktor obliges with a quiet laugh. Yuuri enjoys a few magnificent moments of pure sensation, moments that have him hot and shivering and hoping for Viktor’s hand to travel lower when—

“Is it the nudity you have a problem with?”

Inside, Yuuri fumbles to connect the language circuits he doesn’t usually need when Viktor’s touching him like this. “Ah…?”

“An An,” Viktor clarifies. He slides his fingertips along the outer shell of Yuuri’s ear. “You don’t want to be naked on the cover with me?”

Yuuri manages to swat Viktor’s hand away and turn onto his other side before Viktor can see, or worse, feel how his body is responding to just the suggestion. Photoshoots aren’t Yuuri’s favorite aspect of his career. They take ages to do, he rarely knows what the photographer wants from him—even when they speak the same language—and the finished result usually looks like someone else.

But a stupid, primal part of his brain likes the idea of a nude photo shoot with Viktor. Yuuri already keeps candid photos of the two of them in a folder on his phone, and every time he sees how Viktor smiles at him when he’s not looking, Yuuri’s heart pulls itself into knots. He wants to immortalize more of those intimate smiles. He wants the world to see what he still can’t believe he has, even though the smaller and more numerous parts of his brain that operate on logic insist that he doesn’t need it.

“I’m not sure how to interpret that,” Viktor says thoughtfully. “But it isn’t wild excitement, so! That’s that. No An An.”

Yuuri almost objects. But as Viktor climbs out of bed and calls Makkachin for their walk, Yuuri reminds himself that no matter how thrilling his fantasies seem at first, they’re all delivered by the same unreliable part of his brain that once convinced him to try sex in the shower and he’s not forgetting anytime soon how that ended.

While he’s out with Makkachin, Viktor finds, follows, and fanboys a former An An photographer on Instagram.

Yuuri knows this because six of his fans tell him about it almost simultaneously through Twitter.

Later, while they’re eating dinner on the sofa with their legs tangled on the cushions between them, Yuuri asks, “How did you find him?”

“Who? Oh, Hiroki? One of our Japanese fans mentioned he has an Instagram account. He’s taken quite a few shots of you, actually.”

Yuuri hums. He shifts topics to the hour he spent encouraging Phichit to win gold at the next Olympics so he can finally dress his boyfriend’s dog in people clothes.

“Motivation truly is a mysterious force,” Viktor says sagely in Russian.

Yuuri smiles and slurps his soup.

The next morning, while everyone is otherwise occupied—Yuri warming up, Mila helping Nikolai stretch, and Viktor consulting Yakov—Yuuri skates to the empty side of the rink and browses this photographer person’s account.

His name is Yamaguchi Hiroki and all of his Instagram photos are of models and his friends who look like models and sunrises and homemade dinners and a Maltese named Chad wearing designer sunglasses. There are only one or two shots of Yamaguchi himself, but Yuuri can’t stop himself from thinking he looks like the sort of person who’d try to hit on someone’s beautiful Russian husband if given the opportunity.

“Katsuki! That doesn’t look like warming up!”

“Ah, sorry!”

Viktor takes to reading An An every morning as they’re getting ready to head to the rink, even though Yuuri has told him in three languages that he still doesn’t want to pose for them. Viktor has calmly replied every time in the corresponding language that he knows and isn’t asking Yuuri to change his mind.

On the third morning of this ritual, Viktor laughs and says, “I just like the magazine, that’s all. It’s interesting to see how your culture views sex.”

Yuuri hums and braces his mouth against the hot lip of his mug.

Viktor is curled over the kitchen island in a black cashmere sweater and Yuuri’s plaid silver pajama pants (both a jab and a birthday gift from Yuri). He’s skimming the sex edition his Twitter following voted their favorite in the poll he posted two days ago.

Viktor’s expression is still soft with sleep, his hair fluffed and bristled behind his ears. Just looking at him is making Yuuri’s breath shallow. He’s so gorgeous like this, Yuuri’s body keens with the urge to drag him back to bed.

“It’s also good Japanese practice,” Viktor says earnestly without looking up.

Yuuri snorts. The spell he’s under isn’t broken, not even close, but suddenly he understands on a spiritual level the comments he used to hear from guys in Detroit about the owl place and their chicken wings.

Years ago, Viktor insisted on hearing Yuuri’s sexual history the night it seemed like they would finally be going down that path.

Scorched through with embarrassment, Yuuri managed a stammered, halting recollection of the hand jobs he’d exchanged with a classmate in junior high, the mortifying failed attempt at fingering with a skater from Nagoya in high school, and the blowjobs he’d received from a sort-of boyfriend in Detroit. (Viktor frowned at the “sort of” label but mercifully didn’t enquire further. If Yuuri has any choice in the matter, Viktor will never hear the whole Dmitri debacle.)

While Yuuri spoke, their erections gradually softened, but in the silence that followed, Viktor gently reassured Yuuri that it was important to him to know Yuuri’s experience and, by extension, any potential boundaries.

Yuuri nodded, feeling somehow more exposed with his erection gone, but mustered the courage to whisper, “Can I ask for yours?”

Viktor’s smile warmed him, and they spent the next hour giggling over Viktor’s surprisingly few—but ridiculous—sexual encounters.

“People think I’m into very weird things for some reason,” Viktor whined.

“I promise not to chase you with nipple clamps,” Yuuri told him solemnly.


It’s one of Yuuri’s fondest memories, and it surfaces one night while Viktor studies him in the dark, thumbing Yuuri’s jaw thoughtfully. Yuuri can tell he has a question he’s not sure how to ask, so he resolves to wait. Sometimes it’s a translation issue, other times it’s about finding the gentlest approach to a sensitive topic. Yuuri knows Viktor’s heart well enough by now to trust that anything he brings up has at least a well-intentioned foundation, so he smiles and kisses Viktor’s thumb when it passes close to his lips.

He’s prepared for nearly anything when Viktor takes a small, shallow breath and whispers, “I read about something that I want to try, but I don’t know if you’d be comfortable with it.”

Yuuri says, “Ask me.”

“Um,” Viktor says, glancing up and away. “This is…not a word I know in English. I don’t remember the Japanese word I read in the magazine, either.”

Yuuri smiles and kisses his nose. Seeing Viktor’s nerves exposed sometimes sets his own at ease. “Would you like a dictionary?” he murmurs.

Viktor snorts and, in Russian—more to himself—murmurs, “I’m pretty sure the dictionary on my phone doesn’t have the word for,” and some word Yuuri’s never heard before.

Yuuri repeats it, curious, and Viktor’s eyes bulge.

He covers Yuuri’s mouth, still staring. “Yuuri!”

Yuuri laughs, even though his curiosity is starting to shift into anxiety. “Does it involve pain?” he asks, once Viktor’s taken his hand away.

“No!” Viktor says, aghast. “Of course not! Yuuri!” He surges forward and cuddles Yuuri to his chest as if the protective curl of his arms can reverse time and prevent the question from being asked.

“It would feel amazing,” Viktor tells him, ignoring Yuuri’s relieved laughter. “Not a single moment of pain. But it’s…not…well. It’s not for everyone.”

“You mean like an acquired taste?”

Viktor draws back and gives Yuuri a startled look. Then it clears. “Oh, like food. Yes, like that.”

Somehow, that small moment makes it click for Yuuri. “You mean rimming?”

Viktor doesn’t respond, his lips parted around an answer he hasn’t yet decided on. Finally he decides on a tentative, “Yes…?”

Yuuri groans. “Right. You don’t know the word. Um.”

“I know what ‘rim’ means,” Viktor says primly. “Like a cup. But not a cup, obviously. So yes. That.” He runs his fingertips down Yuuri’s back, stopping just above the point of his tailbone. He meets Yuuri’s eyes more carefully this time. “I read tips in the magazine and…I wondered if I could try it on you.”

Yuuri considers, trying to ignore the way his body is heating under Viktor’s touch. “Can I shower first?” he asks.

Viktor’s lips part in surprise.

“Also, I want to…um. Read about it. A little bit. Before we—”

“Of course!” Viktor says, almost breathless.

“I just want to know a little more,” Yuuri says, his face warm. “So maybe not tonight…? But sometime, sure. Okay.”

Viktor’s joy is so transparent it takes Yuuri a little off-guard.

“You didn’t think I’d say yes?” Yuuri asks, curious.

“I…didn’t know how you’d react,” Viktor admits. “The first time I heard about it, I thought it was disgusting.”

“So did I,” Yuuri says. “But I’ve, um. I’ve also heard it feels good so…I’m okay with trying. If it’s you.”

Viktor smiles and kisses him, sinking his fingers deep into Yuuri’s hair. He moves his hand to Yuuri’s thigh and draws his leg around his waist.

The next morning, while Viktor is sleeping off the rigors of a more familiar, well-practiced kind of sex, Yuuri finds the magazine Viktor got his tips from and begins his research.

Technically, the whole An An thing stopped being a private thing between them the moment Viktor started asking his fans about it. But for Yuuri, it doesn’t officially enter the world beyond until Viktor brings one of the magazines with him to practice.

At twenty-six years old, Katsuki Yuuri decides he is either far beyond or far from the appropriate age to be dealing with the situation going on fifteen meters to his left.

As he practices jumps for keen-eyed, globally revered figure skating coach Yakov Feltsman, Yuuri has to pretend that his legally-wedded, world-famous, twenty-nine-year-old husband is not in the stands with gold medalist Mila Babicheva looking at what is essentially softcore porn while their de facto seventeen-year-old gold medalist son Yuri Plisetsky tries to subtly aim a lit lighter at the magazine.

In the midst of all of this, Yuuri’s chief concern is that Yuri’s going to burn himself. After all, if he succeeds in destroying the magazine, he’s only saving Yuuri from doing it himself.

When Viktor actually makes good on his claim that he’s using An An to improve his Japanese and starts translating the advice columns, Yuuri refuses to help him. At all.

One evening as Yuuri is brushing his teeth, Viktor hops onto the bathroom counter and says, “Female genitalia is fascinating! Did you know the labia can—”

Yuuri covers Viktor’s mouth with his free hand, the first sharp edges of a headache creeping in.

After the 2019 Grand Prix Final, Viktor descends into a bittersweet haze. His voice is quieter, his focus more distant, and whenever Yuuri kisses Viktor’s cheek to draw him back into the moment, his answering smiles are quick and a little shallow. Yuuri keeps him home as much as possible and tries to give Viktor everything he needs to better process the end of his last Grand Prix Final as a competitor.

“You don’t have to treat me like glass,” Viktor murmurs against his shoulder, but Yuuri whispers, “It’s for me, too. I’ll miss you,” and kisses his temple.

The press are meticulously penning the story of Viktor’s triumphant final season as it unfolds, likely unconcerned with the terrible pressure it’s put on Viktor’s shoulders to live above and beyond his legend. Every competition they’ve finished so far has felt like a closed stitch in the hem of a priceless artifact.

A number of journalists and experts seem to think Viktor is reluctant to retire, but Yuuri knows how badly Viktor wants this season to end. Every month, it becomes clearer and clearer to Yuuri that as much as Viktor loves skating, as much as he lives and breathes for every moment of his career, he’s petrified of ending everything on a flat, underwhelming note. That his last round of applause will stem from sympathy rather than adulation.

He’s never said as much, of course, but Yuuri doesn’t need him to.

Viktor lets Yuuri coddle him, safe from scrutiny in the warmth of something they’ve made together that will be around long after they both retire. Yuuri drifts on the edge of sleep, stroking Viktor’s hair and scratching behind Makkachin’s ear, sometimes alternating and making Viktor giggle.

The An An magazines go untouched well past Christmas and Viktor’s birthday. By New Year’s, Viktor’s fans stop bringing it up to him, assuming he’s lost interest in it.

One frigid January morning while Viktor’s walking Makkachin, Yuuri follows a whim and digs out last year’s sex edition. He sits on the sofa wrapped in a thick blanket, sipping from a mug of herbal tea while he studies the photoshoot inside with his nose skeptically scrunched. Yamaguchi was the photographer on this one (because of course he was), and the cover model was pop singer Akiya Souta, nephew of Akiya Makio, the legendary rock god who came out as gay with his partner—an equally famous and beloved baseball player—the year Yuuri was born and revolutionized the country’s attitude toward same-sex relationships.

Souta’s partner for the 2018 sex edition was a dark-skinned, non-Japanese male model with a straight nose, brilliant green eyes, and a body even more sculpted than Souta’s. On the second page, the full expanse of Souta’s back and backside are bared as he stretches out on a jade green comforter, peering coldly up at the camera. The model, in turquoise boxer briefs, has Souta’s hips in his hands and his mouth pressed to the edge of Souta’s tanned shoulder blade.

It’s easy to imagine Viktor doing a shoot like this. If Yuuri didn’t already have a copy (and backup copy) of every photo shoot Viktor’s ever done, he’d suspect he already has. His natural charisma, his beautiful face, his perfect body….

Yuuri wonders what it would be like to stretch out on a blanket surrounded by polite staff in a cold studio wearing nothing but a sock on his dick. Maybe they'd let him wear pants. With Viktor mostly nude next to him, no one would be looking at Yuuri, anyway.

When Viktor and Makkachin get home, Yuuri’s already put the magazine away and is back on the sofa watching a video Seung-Gil secretly recorded and posted of Phichit singing “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods to his hamsters.

“What’s that?” Viktor asks with a hint of laughter.

Yuuri grins and gets up to show him, curling around Viktor’s back to warm him up while Viktor takes Yuuri’s phone with frigid fingers. While Viktor watches, Yuuri studies Viktor’s profile, his heart thrumming with affection. This is his Viktor, the man who dresses in designer brands for a walk around the block and carries a bottle of purified water and a portable dish to keep his senior dog refreshed along the way.

At the end of the video, Phichit kisses each hamster on the head, sniffling with emotion, and Seung-Gil chuckles—a single exhalation that his phone barely picked up.

“I think they’re trying to beat Makkachin’s record,” Yuuri tells Viktor in a quiet, conspiratorial tone. “It’s already got over ten thousand views.”

Viktor snorts, surprisingly elegant. “No amount of hamsters will ever beat Makkachin’s record. Isn’t that right, Makky?”

Makkachin huffs, heaving up and leaning both paws on Viktor’s thigh. Both Viktor and Yuuri sink their fingers into soft fur, amused.

Before Yuuri lets Viktor go, he murmurs, “You don’t need me to do the An An thing, do you?” even though he thinks he knows the answer. “It’s not something you need to keep things exciting or…something. Is it?”

Viktor makes a surprised noise and turns in his arms. He gives Yuuri the first genuine smile Yuuri’s seen since the Grand Prix ended. “Of course not, zolotse. Waking up to you is still exciting for me. I just like showing us off.”

Yuuri lets out a breath and smiles back, his eyes stinging.

Later that evening, when Viktor playfully tells him the 2016 edition has a whole section about erotic massage techniques he thinks they should try, Yuuri asks him to read it aloud, just to see the look on his face.

The sex that follows is well worth the embarrassment.

Dear Mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov Yuuri,

We were pleased and humbled to receive your reply. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to both you and your husband Mr. Victor Katsuki-Nikiforov for agreeing to appear in 『an・an』 as cover models. We are very eager to embark on preparations for what we’re sure will be our most memorable “sex edition” yet!

As we’re sure you know, Tokyo has been selected as the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics, and to celebrate this exciting occasion, we have a number of internationally-themed volumes of 『an・an』 planned in order to inspire and encourage our readers. The theme for this year’s edition will focus on the role of communication in sex. We hope to offer educational columns, personal experiences, and advice from many international couples.

Thus, we can say with certainty that we can think of no two people more suitable for this theme than Mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov Yuuri and Mr. Victor Katsuki-Nikiforov, two of history’s finest and most celebrated Olympic gold medalists.

If you would forgive a brief description of our mission in this vein, 『an・an』 has produced the “sex edition” since 1989, and our aim has always been to embolden and educate…

The morning of their fourth Valentine’s Day together, Yuuri slips out of bed while Viktor’s still asleep and prints the contract An An’s representative sent for him and Viktor to sign. Makkachin joins him and sits next to the desk, acting as an official witness to Yuuri losing his mind for his husband.

Only after the contract is sealed into an envelope, tucked under the ribbon of the chocolates he bought for Viktor, and hidden at the back of the bottom desk drawer does Yuuri return to bed.

He moves at as glacial a pace as he can, settling under the blanket and cautiously pulling it up to his chin.

Viktor asks, “Were you printing my Valentine’s Day card or the gift itself?” with his eyes still closed.

Yuuri groans. “You let me do all that and you were awake the whole time?”

“I thought it would be rude to interrupt,” Viktor says, grinning. “All those slow movements. Good for your body. Like yoga.”

Yuuri deliberately says nothing, even though he already knows it’s a lost cause.

Sure enough, Viktor opens one eye and says, “Know what else is good for your body?”

Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and he loves this ridiculous creature more than he ever thought he could love anything, Yuuri says, “No, what?”

Viktor’s euphoric smile spears his heart. Yuuri decides he’s going to give Viktor his gift at breakfast just to see it again.

“Follow me to the shower,” Viktor murmurs, touching his lips almost chastely to Yuuri’s, “and I’ll show you.”

Yuuri almost says yes, mesmerized by the deep, honeyed tone in Viktor’s voice. Luckily, he manages to gather enough sense and willpower to shake his head and say, “No. Not even on Valentine’s Day.”

Viktor pouts immediately, like he was expecting to get shot down and had that look prepared as backup. “Yuuri, Chris and Mathieu had sex five times last Valentine’s, in four different places,” he complains. “You’re going to let them show us up again.”

“I don’t think it’ll surprise you to hear that that doesn’t bother me,” Yuuri says wryly. Chris and Mathieu have yet to break Viktor and Yuuri’s Christmas record; he'll let them keep Valentine’s Day.

Viktor tries to melt Yuuri’s resolve with smooth caresses and kisses in all Yuuri’s most sensitive places, but the Winter Olympics Shower Incident of 2018 is still fresh in Yuuri’s memory, a permanent stain on their record that not even Valentine’s lust can erase, so Yuuri holds firm and negotiates Viktor down to a mutually satisfying bath instead.

After all, with his luck, he’ll have to do the An An shoot in the shower anyway.

They exchange gifts in the kitchen after they’ve washed the dishes from breakfast. When Viktor realizes what the contract he’s holding is for, his mouth opens in unconcealed surprise.

Yuuri smiles and tucks his hands into the sleeves of Viktor’s gift to him, the team jacket Yakov gave Viktor when he made his senior debut. Yuuri had a printed photo of Viktor wearing this very jacket on the inside of his pencil case in junior high.

When Viktor finally looks up at him, Yuuri tries and fails not to blush. Sometimes he forgets exactly what Viktor once meant to him—and how much exponentially more he’s become in the time since.

“You're sure?” Viktor asks.

Yuuri nods. “I don't love the idea, but I've thought about it a lot, and…it’s like I told you that night, about…the other thing you asked about. I want to do it as long as you're with me.” He waffles on the next bit, then goes for broke and says, “I feel that way about a lot of things. I want to show us off, too.”

Viktor seems frozen for a moment, then he smiles with what looks like relief. “I thought you were embarrassed,” he says.

There’s an odd, sheepish note in Viktor’s voice that makes Yuuri frown. “Of you?” he asks, incredulous.

Viktor makes a neutral sound and avoids Yuuri’s eyes under the pretense of studying the contract, a document comprised of complex, formal Japanese that even Yuuri has trouble reading.

Yuuri can’t think of anything to say, his mind struck blank by shock. The idea of Viktor evoking anything like that kind of emotion in him borders on the ridiculous.

After a few moments, Viktor peeks up at him, and it’s the uncertainty in his expression that makes Yuuri blurt, “How could you think that?” with vehemence that startles even himself.

Viktor drops his gaze, pulling the sleeves of his long-sleeve shirt over his hands. “I don’t know. I’m thirty, I’m almost retired, most of the models in that magazine are a lot younger…. You saw. Minami was in it and he’s about twenty-five years younger than me—”

Yuuri gapes. “Stop,” he says. “Now. You—” He can’t even assemble the words in Japanese, let alone English. Viktor’s insecurities have always caught him off-guard, and even now Yuuri doesn’t always know how to address them. They creep out suddenly, and from the strangest sources.

Yuuri makes a frustrated noise, hoping his baffled expression says enough on his behalf.

By some miracle it seems to work, and Viktor’s smile eases into something lighter and more playful. “Well, I guess it’s not true?” he asks. “You’re not ashamed of me?”

Yuuri can’t summon enough outrage and indignation to give that the response it deserves, so instead he slides off his stool and circles around the island, ignoring the flicker of amusement on Viktor’s face. “Come with me,” he says, deliberately choosing his rusty-if-barely-functional Russian for the way it makes Viktor’s eyes go dark with want.

On the way to the bedroom, Yuuri mutters in swift and offended Japanese, “How do you expect me to answer something like that? Me, who kept posters of you in my bedroom and made stickers with my computer to keep on my school supplies. Idiot. It’s like you ignore how I look at you.”

Makkachin yawns as Yuuri leads Viktor by the sleeve past the sofa.

“Sorry,” Viktor says in Japanese, sounding less repentant and more like he’s on the verge of giggling.

Yuuri makes short work of the next step, which is pushing Viktor onto their bed and straddling him. He meets zero resistance as he holds Viktor’s shoulders down under the heels of his palms. “How much of that did you actually understand?” he asks in English, one corner of his mouth lifting despite himself.

“Not much,” Viktor admits, smiling fondly. “I heard ‘beautiful’ and ‘idiot’. Your Kyushu dialect gets much thicker when you're annoyed. Something about a seal?”

Yuuri presses a kiss to the corner of Viktor’s mouth. “Well, you are. A beautiful idiot, I mean. We've been married for two years and you still think there's any part of you I don't love? Also, you're so gorgeous it's honestly getting a little offensive.”

Viktor slides his fingers into Yuuri’s hair, still damp from their bath earlier. The next kiss takes them longer to separate from, and when they do, Viktor nuzzles his lips against Yuuri’s throat rather than pull away entirely. “I never know what to make of this crazy idea you have that I’m better looking than you,” Viktor murmurs.

Yuuri groans. “I don’t want to have this argument again.”

“Of course,” Viktor says sweetly. “But only because it’s Valentine’s Day.”

“And because you’d lose,” Yuuri mutters in Japanese.

“I could poll Twitter again,” Viktor says, grinning.

“Don’t you dare.”

Yuuri slides his hands down Viktor’s chest to his waist and rests his hands on the strip of hot bare skin between the shirt and pants Viktor seemed to think he’d need today. As far as Yuuri knows, their Valentine’s plans involve little more than this bed and maybe the kitchen island later.

Viktor lets Yuuri lead, but he responds enthusiastically to everything. At the first touch of Yuuri’s lips to his, Viktor moans and opens his mouth, letting Yuuri kiss him deeper at his own pace. When Yuuri slips his hand under Viktor’s shirt and grazes his fingertips across Viktor’s skin, Viktor arches his back for more.

The skin around Viktor’s eyes creases more now when he smiles, and the lines around his mouth are just the slightest bit more pronounced than they were when Viktor first came to Hasetsu, but Yuuri can’t understand the ugliness in those small changes that Viktor sees. His husband’s face is elegant and classic, his body lean and strong and graceful. Yuuri meant what he said—there isn’t a single part of Viktor he doesn’t love. Even his knees are beautiful and unique.

But Viktor grew up in the spotlight, under perpetual, exacting examination. At some point, inevitably, some of that got inside his head, and he started to believe that perfection was not only attainable, but required. Anything Yuuri says to convince him otherwise now has the same effect as trying to break through a brick wall with a flower petal.

Some time later, Viktor smiles against Yuuri’s mouth and smoothes his thumb over the full, flushed curve of Yuuri’s cheek. “Twice before noon and a contract for a nude photoshoot,” he teases. “Whatever will I get next year?”

“A mirror,” Yuuri says primly. He cups the back of Viktor’s neck and kisses his forehead, protective and stubborn. The world has done its damage, but Yuuri has the rest of their lives to layer over it.

The day drifts on through a shared nap and separate showers. When they return to the kitchen, the contract is still there, waiting to be signed. Viktor takes a seat on one of the stools, yawning as he uncaps a pen. Yuuri sits on the one beside him, holding an ink pad and the personal stamp his parents gave him for his twentieth birthday. At the bottom of the page is a blank line for Viktor’s signature and a small printed circle for Yuuri’s stamp.

Viktor signs his name with a flourish, glowing with joy.

Yuuri frowns as he follows the swooping curves of ink Viktor left on the page, the ‘c’ in his name a surprise after all the documents Viktor’s signed recently with a ‘k’. “Vitya, can I ask you something?”

“Of course, my love,” Viktor says, leaning over to kiss Yuuri’s cheek. “Anything.”

“Why do you spell your name both ways—‘c’ and ‘k’?”

“I spell it all three ways,” Viktor says.


“With a ‘c’, ‘k’, and ‘q’.”

Yuuri can’t tell if he’s joking. When Viktor flippantly adds an accent mark over the “o”, Yuuri decides not to give him the satisfaction of asking.

“I wonder if we can request Hiroki to do the shoot?” Viktor wonders aloud.

Yuuri can’t quite stop himself from grimacing. He’d forgotten about Yamaguchi. “They probably have someone in mind already,” he mutters.

Viktor grins and slips off his stool, coming to stand behind Yuuri where he wraps his arms firmly around Yuuri’s waist, pressing his fingers into the softness that’s creeping back despite all his training for Four Continents. Yuuri schools his expression into concentrated blankness as he presses his stamp onto the ink pad.

“Yuuri,” Viktor purrs, touching his mouth to the curve where Yuuri’s neck meets shoulder, “are you jealous of Yamaguchi Hiroki, master photographer, French onion soup connoisseur, and purveyor of cute YouTube videos about otters?”

“Only when you talk about him like that,” Yuuri says.

Viktor laughs, loud and delighted, and squeezes Yuuri’s waist so hard Yuuri squawks. “Oh, Yuuri, it’s adorable when you get jealous for no reason.”

“Whatever,” Yuuri says, stamping the contract with more force than necessary.


The next day, Yuuri wakes up with something that isn’t the flu, really, but Viktor tucks him back into bed anyway. “I told you not to push yourself too hard at Four Continents,” Viktor says. “Now your body is forcing you to rest. Listen to it.”


Viktor drops the the 2010 sex edition in his lap, the one with THE COMPLETE SEX MANUAL emblazoned in capital letters on the cover.

Yuuri gives him a flat look, sniffling.

Viktor kisses the top of his head and sneaks a hand down to squeeze the plushest part of Yuuri’s thigh. “Research!” he says. “I’ll be back in a few hours, my beautiful muse. Mind you don’t wrinkle the pages.”

Yuuri’s blush contributes to the heat his fever is already providing. “Out,” he says.

Viktor’s high-spirited laughter fills the apartment as he leaves.

Yuuri certainly doesn’t intend on reading it. It’s one thing to agree to the shoot, to maybe even enjoy himself if it means he’ll get photos of the two of them together as a reward. It’s quite another to take it to Viktor’s extreme.

He sets the magazine on Viktor’s side of the bed, cover down, and reaches for his phone instead. He spends a few minutes trying to enjoy the boundless wealth of entertainment the internet has to offer, but even with his glasses on, his phone screen makes his eyes ache and water. He can’t even focus on the photos Nishigori’s sent of the three kittens the triplets rescued—named Gold, Silver, and Yuuri (Lutz is undoubtedly the comedian behind that decision).

In a kinder world, Yuuri would be able to sleep, but his body doesn’t want to commit to the idea. He showers with some touch-and-go dizziness, dresses in track pants and two of Viktor’s sweaters, forces down a glass of juice, and then leans on the refrigerator until his legs tremble. It’s only the very real possibility of collapsing on the floor and potentially worrying Makkachin that finally pushes Yuuri back into bed.

With nothing left to entertain himself, Yuuri picks up the magazine. As he flips through the photos, he tells himself it’s just to stave off boredom until Viktor comes home. He’s a little surprised how tasteful this one is, everything properly covered up or hidden with carefully angled shots. Yamaguchi didn’t do this one, obviously. Yuuri smiles a little.

When he was fourteen, one of the many singers Mari liked was on the cover of the sex edition. She bought six copies the day it was released and hid them deep in the back of her closet, probably forgetting that Yuuri was supposed to collect all the futons for airing out the following morning before school. When one of the copies landed on the floor at his feet, Yuuri didn’t even hesitate before making off to his room with it.

He would have told Viktor this story ages ago except that the whole reason he took the magazine in the first place wasn’t for the brazen SEX EDITION emblazoned at the top, but for the tiny, unrelated bubble at the bottom that boasted, “Interview with Viktor Nikiforov!”

As such, no one will ever hear this story. Even Mari doesn’t know for sure; he’s sure she noticed one of her copies went permanently missing that day, but she never called him on it.

The soft pastel colors in the shoot are a balm of sorts, and the ache in his eyes starts to lessen. A little sheepishly, he tests his recovery by flipping to the section with experiences sent in by the readers themselves.

My boyfriend sends me dirty messages at midnight, but only sometimes. The thrill of not knowing whether he’ll send one or not always makes me wet. (Yokohama, 23 years old)

Yuuri snorts, his face hot. Simultaneously, he finds himself seriously considering doing the same with Viktor the next time they’re separated. He blames the urge on his feverish condition, and quickly moves on to the next one.

Last year, my beautiful coworker and I drank ourselves to oblivion at an office party. We shared a taxi to the station, and on the way, she kissed me. I was shocked! I thought she was out of my league! But she put her hand up my shirt and massaged my breasts until my nipples were aching. Because of the alcohol, I was brave enough to take her home, and I made her come that night with just my tongue on her clit. (Sapporo, 27 years old)

Yuuri stares at what he’s just read. Somehow, even after years of hearing about An An’s sex edition back home and months of Viktor reading him passages from it, Yuuri never actually believed it would be this explicit. He drops his head onto the pillow behind him. At least it’s in Japanese. The issue he and Viktor are set to appear in won’t be something he ever wants to hear that his parents read.

Beside him, his phone screen lights up with rapid-fire messages, seconds apart.

[You didn’t seriously agree to do porn with him, did you?! What did I tell you? What did I literally tell you not to let him talk you into???]

Yuuri laughs, which triggers a cough. As he types out a response, he snuggles deeper into Viktor’s pillow, vowing to wash it later. [It’s not porn. It just looks like porn.]

[You KNOW that’s not better, right!?]

He smiles wryly. [I do.]

[You can’t leave him unattended, by the way. He’s been so annoying all morning. He lifted me during practice. It was HORRIFYING. I’m NOT putting up with this tomorrow.]

[I’ll talk to him,] Yuuri writes, and switches over to Viktor’s chat screen. [Did you lift our son?]

Viktor’s response is prompt. [Weight training.]

Yuuri grins and sends back a laughing emoji. [I see.]

[I knew he’d tell on me.]

[Did anyone get a photo?]

[Mila got a photo and Nikolai has video.]

[We have a good family.]

[We do. How are you feeling?]


[Liar. More rest. I’ll bring you soup. ♡]

[Thank you. ♡]


Yuuri smiles and takes off his glasses, his eyes burning and leaking tears from the strain. He tries to nap while the pain ebbs. When he doesn’t fall asleep, he takes up the magazine again and skims some more until he finds a story from a male reader about his first night with his boyfriend. Just until Viktor gets home.

In May they find out that Yamaguchi Hiroki will indeed be their photographer, because in the aftermath of Viktor’s historic final World Championship with the press celebrating his remarkable career and the internet collectively remembering all at the same time how stunningly gorgeous and talented he is, Yuuri’s jealous streak really needed some prodding.

Then, to make the situation even more undesirable, Yamaguchi makes it known that he wants to be friends.

“Come on, you’re already in Hasetsu,” Yuuri’s manager coaxes over FaceTime. “Tokyo’s only a ninety-minute plane ride away. I checked. He just wants to have an informal meeting with the two of you to discuss the shoot.”

Even though Yuuri’s lived abroad now for eight years cumulatively, he’s ultimately too Japanese to deliver the cold, unfeeling, “No,” that lives in his heart. He can’t think of any other reason to refuse except the real one: he doesn’t want a guy who named a dog Chad near his husband.

What he ends up saying is, “Do I have to?” in his most professional voice.

When Dalia only raises her eyebrows at him, Yuuri knows he’s lost. She spent fifteen years managing the career of recently-retired Russian pop idol Irina Plisetsky, “Queen of the High C” and a woman Yakov once described as “the queen of noise and shenanigans”. Yuuri met her last year at the Olympics when she came to cheer Yuri on, and the four turbulent minutes Yuuri spent in her company flash before his eyes every time he and Dalia lock horns over something he doesn’t want to do.

Yuuri knows he’s no match for Dalia, the woman who stoically dove into the ocean off the coast of Greenland in February to retrieve the cackling drunk pop idol in her charge. Yuuri’s mostly come to peace with his humble place in their two-person hierarchy.

“Have you even met him?” Dalia asks.

Yuuri sighs. She’ll laugh at him if he jumps straight to No, and I don’t want to because he leaves overly friendly comments on Viktor’s Instagram photos and once I saw him use the sparkly heart emoji, which made me see visions of stealing his dog and giving him a proper name. So he goes with, “No. But we’ll be seeing him for the shoot next month. He could just email us if he has questions about how he wants it to look or…whatever he wants.”

Dalia lets his weak excuse sit between them for a moment, allowing Yuuri time to reflect on the audacity he had of thinking it would work. Then she says, “Hiroki’s pretty firmly established in Japan, and I think you could use the connection. Once this wild Ryosuke kid makes his senior debut, Minami won’t be your only competitor for domestic sponsorships. It wouldn’t kill you to network more, and don’t make that face at me.”

They finish their call on a vague note, with Yuuri promising to consult Viktor and let her know what they decide in the morning. Viktor will want to, of course. Viktor will be delighted to support Yuuri’s career, a model partner in every way, and Yuuri’s jealousy will lead to him making an ass of himself and hiding under the blankets in their hotel room.

Yuuri crosses the room to his bed and flops on top of it for some rehabilitative groaning. He only stops when he hears the door open.

“On a scale of embarrassment from one to ten,” Mari says, “where would you place your husband showing the customers photos of you snuggled against him on the plane?”

“Four,” Yuuri says into his pillow, because 1) Viktor has already done worse in the last twelve hours since they arrived and 2) Yuuri knows how many other photos Viktor could have gone with.

His sister sits on the floor and sighs with the full-body satisfaction of the Just Finished Work and Finally Sitting Down. “Was that your manager?” she asks.


“Who’s she want you to meet with?”

“Some guy. Photographer for the An An shoot.”

Mari chuckles. “Still can’t believe you’re doing that.”

Yuuri doesn’t answer. At every airport he’s visited with Viktor in the last four months, there’s inevitably been at least one man or woman who’s felt the need to approach Viktor with stars in their eyes and tell him that he’s the most beautiful man they’ve ever seen. At least one. Every time. Even people who clearly have no idea who Viktor is are impelled to stop him, presumably just because Viktor looks like the incandescently beautiful offspring of a supermodel and the god of supermodels.

Because of this, the small, primitive part of Yuuri’s brain that he used to be able to ignore is growing in size and has even developed a small vocabulary, mainly consisting of “mine” across multiple languages.

“So what’s wrong with the photographer guy?” Mari asks.

Yuuri almost tells her exactly what’s wrong with him until he realizes how it’s going to sound if he says he flirts with Viktor. So does Chris. So does Chris’s cat. He doesn’t know why he’s letting this one man neither of them has even met get under his skin like this.

So he goes with, “He named his dog Chad.”

“Oh. Weird. Yeah, okay.”

Yuuri smiles, hidden against his pillow. He loves his sister.

They go. Of course.

As Yuuri leads Viktor by the hand through Shinjuku Station, the familiarity of his surroundings calms him. The interlaced strokes of Chinese characters, the polite phrases shouted across great distances, the businessmen who weave impatiently through a sea of equally harried commuters, the high-pitched cries of friends meeting by chance, the teenagers whose unpolished manners allow them to stare after Yuuri and Viktor with unabashed interest—once, it might have overwhelmed him. Tonight, it fills his mind with memories and confidence.

The bustling ramen shop they pass reminds him of the night Viktor casually held his hand for the first time at a ramen yatai in Fukuoka. The tourism commercial for Kyoto blaring on the flatscreen before them reminds him of the time Viktor snuggled up to him on the bus to Kinkaku-ji as he tried to find a filter that would make his photo of poor unfinished Ginkaku-ji look properly silver. The word “honeymoon” spoken somewhere over Yuuri’s shoulder reminds him of the ostentatiously large room Viktor rented them at Arima Hot Springs for part three of their honeymoon. (Viktor regularly promises Yuuri there’ll be a part four someday even though Yuuri has argued many times that they should just start calling them “vacations” at this point.)

Yamaguchi is not Yuuri’s rival. Yamaguchi’s just some guy with an unnecessarily expensive camera and six thousand fewer followers than Yuuri on Instagram who thinks he can flirt with Yuuri’s husband. But Yuuri’s not going to let some big city punk mistake him for a weak country hick Viktor married by accident.

Viktor chose Yuuri over everyone else in the world for a reason.

By the time they reach the shabu shabu restaurant where they've agreed to meet Yamaguchi, Yuuri feels so emboldened he’s convinced he could pick up Sky Tree itself and use it to punt the restaurant across the Pacific.

Yamaguchi looks up from his phone as they approach and smiles first at Viktor. He takes a tiny step back when he sees Yuuri.

Viktor’s hand finds the small of Yuuri’s back. “Nice to meet you,” he greets Yamaguchi smoothly. Then, in thickly accented, over-enunciated Japanese he hasn’t used in ages, he adds, “Sorry to keep you waiting.”

Yuuri looks up at him with zealous, almost feral adoration.

“Pleasure to meet you both,” Yamaguchi says in fluent English. Not even a trace of an accent. He probably grew up abroad. Cheater. Probably asks Western people to call him by some stupid Western nickname he picked out like “Kevin” or “Jake” under the guise of it being easier for non-Japanese to pronounce, but actually because “Hiroki” isn't a cool enough name for him. Poser. “Katsuki-san, you picked a great place.”

Yuuri wonders if he can get away with passive aggressively insulting him yet.

Viktor, the undisputed champion of passive aggressive between the two of them, glances at Yuuri meaningfully.

“Thanks,” Yuuri says. Not even a slight ‘s’ on the ‘th’, and his ‘a’ was perfectly sharp like an American’s, but Yamaguchi doesn't look as intimidated as Yuuri feels he should.

Their waiter seats them at a booth near the back of the restaurant and offers to explain how the restaurant’s system works, but Yamaguchi tells her politely that they’re here on Yuuri’s recommendation. She smiles and says, “Ah, I see! Thank you for your continued loyalty. Please press the button here if you have any questions or when you’re ready to order.”

After she leaves, a subtle power struggle begins as Yuuri and the interloper who gave his dog an American frat boy’s name try to decide on which set to choose from the menu. Yamaguchi defers to Yuuri based on Yuuri’s familiarity with the restaurant, and Yuuri defers to Yamaguchi since this is Yamaguchi’s first experience here. After a few more rounds, Yuuri wins and Yamaguchi points to a set toward the top of the page.

“This one looks good,” he says.

“Viktor doesn’t like liver,” Yuuri says, triumphantly dismissive.

“I'm fine with anything,” Viktor says cheerfully. “I love Japanese food.”

Yuuri gives him a pained look that seems to amuse Viktor far more than is fair.

Yamaguchi grins at Viktor. “You’ve had a lot of different Japanese foods judging by your Instagram photos.”

“I have! To be honest, there is one thing I don’t like, but—”

“Did we decide broths?” Yuuri asks. He thinks his nostrils are flaring.

Yamaguchi gives the menu a cursory glance. “How about the twelve spices and the sukiyaki?” he asks.

Yuuri hesitates. He expected Yamaguchi to defer again, so he’s left without a prepared response. A little sullenly, he says, “Sure,” and tries not to glare when Yamaguchi smiles and closes the menu.

Yuuri makes sure to be the one to put it back in the metal holder off to the side.

Once they’ve ordered and Viktor is merrily raving about how much he hates mentaiko, Yuuri ignores Yamaguchi completely in favor of admiring Viktor’s bright eyes and soft lips. Yuuri’s heard this rant enough that he has most of it memorized, except for the few white lies Viktor always throws in to keep it interesting for himself.

Viktor has just finished exaggerating the mild food poisoning incident in Gifu when Yamaguchi says, “That’s beautiful.” It’s such a strange response to a story that disgusts most people that Yuuri involuntarily frowns and tears his attention from Viktor.

He’s startled to find Yamaguchi grinning at him. “The way you look at your husband is so full of raw emotion. It’s really refreshing. I’ve photographed newlyweds who don’t have that look. I just hope I can do it justice in print.”

Yuuri blinks. His mind works at lightning speed to figure out his angle, but it only produces a torrent of question marks.

“He’s extremely photogenic, isn’t he?” Viktor says warmly, tracing Yuuri’s cheek with the crook of his fingers.

Yamaguchi blushes. “He is. It’s a shame he doesn’t use Instagram more,” he says.

Yuuri blurts, “Eh?” and Viktor laughs, his eyes creased at the corners.

The waiter arrives with several trays of raw pork and various types of beef and proceeds to name each one in English for Viktor’s sake. Yamaguchi gives Yuuri a bright, innocuous smile while he swishes a thin slice of meat through the boiling broth.

Yuuri spends the rest of the meal reevaluating the man from the ground up. By the end, he’s decided that while Yamaguchi is indeed aware and appreciative of Viktor’s general charm and beauty, his smiles widen only when he looks at or talks to Yuuri. At one point, while Yamaguchi’s recalling the night he watched Yuuri’s gold medal performance at the Olympics from the stands in Seoul, the man even gives up on his second language and switches to heavily Akita-accented Japanese to better emphasize the emotional effect it had on him.

To make matters more baffling, Viktor doesn’t seem flummoxed by any of this at all.

When they part ways for the night outside the restaurant, Yuuri feels profoundly cowed. Yamaguchi insisted on paying, and he’s putting his wallet away when he acknowledges that Yuuri has become increasingly more reticent.

“I’m sorry to drag you away from your family on your vacation,” he says, jamming his hands into the pockets of his slim jeans. “The real reason I asked you here is so I could show you two around the areas we’ve been considering for the shoot and hopefully get your feedback, if you’re available tomorrow. I know the sex edition can be a little uncomfortable, so I want to make sure you’re as relaxed as possible on the day. I’m not on the best terms with the magazine, to be honest, so I had to fight a little bit to get the job.”

Yuuri says, “Oh.”

Viktor rubs Yuuri’s back. “That sounds great. You have our LINE information, so let’s make a group chat and you can tell us where to meet you.”

In the taxi on their way to the hotel, Viktor walks his fingers up Yuuri’s bicep and strokes the tuft of hair tied at the back of Yuuri’s neck.

“What just happened?” Yuuri asks him.

“You misread the situation, my love,” Viktor says. “He’s left more comments on your account than mine, by the way.”

Yuuri doesn’t believe him until he’s sitting on the hotel’s king size bed in his pajamas while Viktor showers. He finds several heart emoji-slathered comments on a few of his photos from Four Continents and Worlds. The tamer ones date all the way back to Seoul where Yamaguchi apparently watched Yuuri skate his first Olympics.

He’s sulking when Viktor emerges from the bathroom, and he keeps sulking until Viktor laughs and cuddles his embarrassment away under the heavy down comforter.

“You’re gorgeous, talented, charismatic, and sweet,” Viktor murmurs, “and you still think it’s only me who sees it.”

The next day, Yamaguchi gives them a tour of potential spots that ends with dinner at a ramen shop in Shibuya. He’s not so much a skating fan as he is a fan of passion, he says, which is the kind of thing Yuuri guessed he’d say based on his Instagram feed. Oddly, it’s less pretentious when he says it with bright eyes and a sheepish smile.

It also turns out Yamaguchi named Chad after the Navy Seal who saved his grandfather from drowning during a typhoon.

Viktor smirks all day long, and Yuuri pinches him twice.

Minami probably isn’t the first one to find out about the shoot, but he’s the first one to leak the news online in three languages (if Kyushu dialect counts as a language, which Yuuri thinks it does).

His post gets retweeted three hundred times within the first two minutes.





And that’s only their Japanese fans; as their Western fans start to wake up, the platform nearly crashes.


“Tell Viktor if he gives me a copy, I’ll put it in the microwave.”

“Yura? What time—”


“…Ah, Vitya—”

“I heard. He’s getting twenty-five for his birthday.”





49200 notes

Why is this a goal? Neither of us is even Japanese.


No. Obviously no?

you two are also #relationshipgoals ♡

Phichit, I could ask if they’re interested.

omg??????????? PLEASE DO!!!


…All the worst things happen when I leave you with my dog.

…so does that mean you guys are living together now or…?





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When Minami shows up at Yu-topia a month before the shoot, Yuuri smiles wryly.

“I thought we could run together!” Minami toes off his shoes in the entryway, almost vibrating with glee, and bows eagerly as Viktor peeks out of the room where their family is having breakfast. “I need to stay in shape over the summer, too!” Minami continues cheerfully. “And we live so close to each other, I thought…!”

A few years ago, Yuuri might have pointed out that Minami’s home in Miyazaki is about six hours away by train, literally no one’s idea of “close”. Even his Russian husband who thinks of St. Petersburg and Moscow as “right next to each other” looks tempted to point this out.

But Yuuri just nods and says, “Thanks, Kenjirou-kun,” and pretends not to notice when Minami’s ears turn red.

He’s glad of that kindness after they’ve invited Minami in for some breakfast and the soft, proud smile Viktor gives him over the table makes Yuuri’s ears turn red.

An An schedules them for an interview to go along with the shoot. They travel back to Tokyo just for the interview and Yuuri soon wishes he’d slept through it.

It begins innocuously enough. Their interviewer is a woman named Junko with hair the color of aluminum, and when she and Viktor first see each other, their faces light up in identical expressions of delight. Yuuri finds he’s content to watch, one hand casually over his mouth to hide his smile, while they take a few selfies.

“It’s amazing!” Junko says in Japanese. “It’s nearly the same color!”

“Almost!” Viktor replies.

“Is yours natural?” Junko asks him.

Viktor tilts his head. “I’m sorry?” he says in English.

Yuuri very carefully doesn’t roll his eyes.

The translator arrives soon afterward, and the four of them sit down on two sofas facing each other. This portion likely won’t be included in the official shoot, but a photographer catches a few shots of them regardless as they sip green tea from small ceramic cups provided by the An An staff.

Junko dives immediately into her questions. She thanks them for their time, congratulates them both on their performances at Worlds, and asks Viktor how he feels about retirement and his plans for the future. Even though Viktor likely understood the gist of everything, he allows the translator to do her job. He smiles politely she relays everything and Yuuri fights down the urge to hold his hand, pride and warmth warring inside him.

Viktor smoothly answers the question in English. Yuuri knows Viktor’s been keeping in touch with a torrent of contacts for months regarding his future, but he always gives the press answers that are vague when he’s on point and misleading when he’s feeling playful. Today he errs on the side of respectful and tells Junko that he has a number of promising career paths before him, and he’s interested in all of them.

When it’s translated to her, Junko laughs. Then, taking a hairpin turn, she asks Yuuri in Japanese, “Obviously you two have been married for quite a while now, but was there ever a time you found it difficult to communicate during sex?”

Viktor lets out a tiny laugh, hidden delicately behind his hand.

Yuuri regrets everything.

Several hours later, Yuuri bolts their hotel room door behind them and swears Viktor to secrecy.

“I understand, Yuuri, calm down,” Viktor giggles. “I won’t tell anyone.”

“What aren’t you going to tell anyone?” Yuuri presses. He sits Viktor down on the bed and kneels in front of him, his eyebrows drawn tight in pained determination.

“How adorable you were today,” Viktor says brightly.

Yuuri covers his face and moans. Viktor laughs even louder and pulls Yuuri close, shaking him gently until he unfolds and drops his head onto Viktor’s lap.

“They said they wouldn’t print that part,” he tells Yuuri soothingly. “No one will know, and I won’t tell anyone. It’ll stay between us. And Junko. And the translator. And—”

“Thank you, Vitya,” Yuuri says, twitching. “Stop comforting, please.”

Viktor’s hand smooths over Yuuri’s hair, playing with the waxed strands fondly. Yuuri knows better to think that means anything, though, and he’s proved right a moment later when Viktor bursts out in Japanese, “Oh, my sweet Yuuri, you’re so adorable when you’re embarrassed.”

“Yes, okay. Get it all out now,” Yuuri says morosely, switching to Japanese since his head is starting to ache.

“If it makes you feel better—”

“I guarantee you it won’t.”

“—Not every man always tells his partner when he’s about to come, and I’ve always thought it was very considerate of you.”

Yuuri wonders if it’s possible for the skin to actually melt off his face. He whines out a curse in Italian—one of many off-ice legacies Celestino passed on to him and Phichit—and crawls under Viktor’s pillow.

“Leave me here to die,” he calls out in Japanese, and Viktor laughs and curls around him, presumably to wait with him, ever loyal, until a lightning bolt arrives to put Yuuri out of his misery.

Yuri was kind enough to stay at their apartment with Makkachin while they’re in Japan. The evening before the shoot, he agrees to FaceTime with them so they can say goodnight.

When the call connects, Yuri’s placid expression is a neon flag.

“Good evening, Otabek!” Viktor calls.

Yuri scowls. “Your eyesight going already?”

“Hi, Yura,” Yuuri says. If the eighteen-year-old wants to pretend he hasn’t snuck his boyfriend into their apartment, he’s fine with it.

He and Viktor have set up Viktor’s iPad on the desk of their hotel room, and the sole chair they’ve been provided means Yuuri is sitting in Viktor’s lap. It’s a testament to Yuri’s willpower (or distraction) that he doesn’t comment on it.

“Where’s our Makkachin?” Viktor asks.

Yuri grunts and angles his phone so they can see the huge sleeping bundle in his lap. “I have to pee,” he says, sounding only mildly inconvenienced about it. “But she weighs more than Katsudon and she won’t move.”

“Please try not to pee on the dog,” Yuuri says mildly.

There’s a short, low noise on Yuri’s end that didn’t come from Yuri, and Yuri’s eyes flash furiously over the top of his phone.

In the same pleased tone he used earlier this evening to announce the presence of chocolates on their pillows, Viktor tells Yuuri, “Otabek.”

Yuuri pats the arm wrapped around his stomach, low enough that Yuri won’t be able to see it.

“Otabek’s not here,” Yuri says tightly. “We’re not attached at the hip like you guys.” He pauses to regard them with open disdain since they are almost literally attached at the hip at the moment.

“Sure,” Viktor says cheerfully. “Well, since Otabek isn’t there, I can ask you something about him, right?”

Yuri’s eyes go tight at the corners. His mouth parts.

“See,” Viktor carries on, beaming, “I was talking to the editor of An An the other day about Phichit and his boyfriend, and she seems interested in the idea of a series on figure skaters and their—”

The call disconnects. Viktor laughs with his head thrown back, and Yuuri tucks his face against his neck and snorts.

They’re driven into the countryside the following morning and arrive before dawn. Yamaguchi greets them at the site with a playful smile, the skin around his eyes dark with exhaustion. Even though Yuuri doesn’t recognize anyone else in sight, he forces his shoulders to relax. Viktor helps with a gentle rub on Yuuri’s lower back, and Yuuri leans into it.

“Morning, guys,” Yamaguchi says in English. “You look like you slept well.”

Viktor inclines his head primly, and Yuuri struggles to maintain eye contact. For the last forty-eight hours, they’ve been following their pre-competition rules: above-the-neck contact only, and a wall of pillows between them at night. The pillows always end up thrown to the floor in the morning, but it gives them at least the illusion of control, so Yuuri insisted on it.

Yamaguchi leads them from the company van they arrived in through the minefield of staff and photography equipment on the front lawn. “We got here a little while ago to set up,” Yamaguchi says. “So we’re almost ready to start. Kind of. This place was really affordable to rent, so we might be a little more exacting than we would be normally, since we have the time.”

As he talks, Viktor greets each staff member individually. Yuuri just tips his head politely every meter or so.

The venue they’ve ended up at is a small, family-owned hot spring resort some ninety minutes north of Tokyo. They never actually came here in person during Yamaguchi’s tour of potential venues, but when Yamaguchi showed them photos, Yuuri smiled and commented on the similarity to his own family’s inn, and that was all it took for Viktor to agree that it was perfect.

They toe off their shoes in the entryway, and Yuuri and Yamaguchi automatically turn the toes to face the door. Viktor notices, hurries to do the same, and Yuuri revels in the burst of warmth he feels. No matter how many times their cultural differences appear, Viktor has always, always taken them in stride, even reveling in them.

Yamaguchi walks deeper into the inn, calling over his shoulder, “I’ll show you where to leave your stuff, if you have anything you won’t need for the shoot.”

Yuuri takes Viktor’s hand and leads him through the maze ahead.

It becomes clear as they navigate the burnished wood floors and narrow hallways that this place is at least fifty years older than Yu-topia and likely made a lot more money in its prime. There are some signs of wear and age, like the corners of the columns rubbed smooth and the jagged bristle of rice straw at the edges of the tatami mats, but the heavy smell of cedar lends everything a timeless atmosphere. It almost erases the whole naked-in-front-of-cameras part of the day still to come.

When they arrive at a guest room at the back of the inn, Yamaguchi pushes the sliding door back for them. “I’ll have our makeup guy come in,” he says. “Then we’ll get you your clothes, and we’ll get started.”

“Thanks, Hiroki,” Viktor says, beaming.

“Thank you,” Yuuri adds in Japanese.

Yamaguchi tosses them a salute and vanishes the way they came.

“Nervous?” Viktor asks, reaching up to massage the back of Yuuri’s neck. “We could still call it off.”

“You said that before our wedding,” Yuuri complains.

What? I certainly did not!”

“You did.”

“I said if you felt we were rushing we could postpone, that’s not—”

One of the younger staff members stops in the open door, frowning. “Excuse me,” he says to Yuuri in almost petulantly formal Japanese. “Can I get you something to drink? Water, tea, coffee…?”

“Tea, please,” Yuuri says.

The guy gives Viktor a flat look and, in terrible English, says, “Yes. You? What you drink?”

Viktor grins. “The same for me, please,” he says in Japanese. His accent is thick, but his grammar and intonation are perfect.

The staff guy grunts, “Got it,” in Japanese, wholly unimpressed, and leaves down the hallway in the same direction Yamaguchi went.

Yuuri gives Viktor a wide grin. When he whispers, “I thought we left Yurio in Russia,” Viktor is already nodding and giggling.

When the makeup artists arrive, they explain that they’re aiming for a natural look in the shoot. Ten minutes later, the woman taking care of Yuuri’s makeup finishes first. Her only major addition is a touch of dark eyeliner to bring out his eyes and a few dabs of silver powder on his lids. As she zips her case up, she tells him, “You have beautiful skin,” her tone matter-of-fact. “You’re should moisturize your forehead more, though.”

The guy doing Viktor’s makeup, on the other hand, is having the time of his life and seems honestly tempted to make a mistake so he can start over. He sighs repeatedly over Viktor’s perfect bone structure while Viktor pretends not to understand a word he says.

“Yuuri,” Viktor says brightly at one point, “did he say crab cakes?”

The guy makes a wounded noise and says, “Your husband is precious.”

Yuuri gives Viktor a patient smile. “Yes, and he knows it.”

Viktor pretends not to understand that, either, even though Yuuri said it in English.

Yamaguchi starts them off on the front porch, where the pale light of the rising sun has drenched the dark cedar flooring. “I thought we’d start here since we won’t have the natural sunlight later,” he says.

Yuuri nods, focused on adjusting his belt. The yukata they’re wearing aren’t from the inn itself, but rather designed for them and brought along by the staff. The cool gray sets off Viktor’s eyes, and the dark belt cinched around his waist hints coyly at his slender figure. As Viktor gazes up at the sun, his bare (recently pedicured) toes curl around the edge of the porch.

Yuuri swallows too fast and coughs to clear his throat.

Viktor glances at him knowingly.

Somehow, his presence distracts from the extra lights and the staff standing around waiting for Yamaguchi to begin the shoot. He suspects the other reason they’re starting outside is so they can get accustomed to the naked aspect later.

Yamaguchi asks Viktor sit against the wall of the inn and then directs Yuuri to sit braced against his chest. Yuuri does it, but he can feel his muscles tighten and his shoulders rise awkwardly as Viktor’s arms settle around his waist.

Yamaguchi doesn’t say anything, snapping shots from various angles in rapid bursts, but Yuuri knows better than to believe Yamaguchi’s getting anything good enough to print.

Viktor kisses Yuuri’s neck and whispers, “Breathe out.”

Yuuri does so, but on his next inhale, his body locks up tighter.

Two of the staff are smoking and chatting quietly a few meters away. A woman is bent over one of the card tables, tapping furiously on a MacBook. Someone out of sight is laughing through a wet cough. Worst of all, a small group has gathered near the inn, just watching the shoot take place with an air of “since we’re facing this direction, we might as well watch”.

Yuuri exhales again and focuses on Viktor’s outstretched leg, at the pale scars and bruises on his feet. Viktor wriggles his toes playfully, but Yuuri only lets out a puff of breath to acknowledge it.

As the sun moves above the line of the trees, Yuuri squints into the glare. Finally, Viktor squeezes Yuuri’s waist with a hint of finality and says to Yamaguchi, “Maybe we can try something else?”

Yamaguchi pauses with his camera still up. “Sure.” He peeks around it. “What’re you thinking?”

Viktor pats Yuuri’s stomach gently to warn him and stands up. He crouches back down and slides Yuuri back against the wall, grinning at him.

Yuuri suddenly understands where he’s going with this and lets out a soft, amused sound. When Viktor settles back down against Yuuri’s chest, he pulls Yuuri’s arms around his middle and melts, his head dropping onto Yuuri’s shoulder.

“Ready,” he sings, peering up at Yuuri adoringly.

Yamaguchi doesn’t comment on the switch, but his smile is telling enough, and he quickly returns to taking shots.

Yuuri lets out a relieved sound and kisses the top of Viktor’s head, his face hot. He focuses on the scent of Viktor’s hair under his nose and spots a bird soaring over the trees. He follows its path through the sky while Viktor sneaks a hand under a fold of Yuuri’s yukata and squeezes his bare thigh gently.

This isn’t so bad.

When Yamaguchi’s satisfied with his outdoor shots, he ushers them inside to a futon so plush and soft it looks furnished for royalty.

Yuuri lets out an involuntary, longing sigh.

Viktor raises an eyebrow at him and Yuuri knows—with the same certainty he knew he would win gold if it would keep Viktor with him—that one way or another, this futon will be coming back to Russia with them.

Yamaguchi asks them to get comfortable while he adjusts his camera’s settings. “Just do what comes naturally,” he says, then smirks at Viktor over the top. “Within reason.”

Viktor ignores that and flops onto the futon, effortlessly ruining the pristine effect of the crisp, ironed fabric. Yuuri kneels beside him, his hands braced on either side of him and Viktor’s eyes soften. He holds his arms open wide for Yuuri and makes a soul-deep noise of contentment when Yuuri hesitantly curls around him.

“Not so bad, right?” Viktor murmurs, quiet enough that Yamaguchi probably can’t hear.

Yuuri shakes his head, touching his forehead to Viktor’s.

Another shutter burst. Yamaguchi winks at them. “Thank you for that,” he says.

Yuuri gives him a sour look and tugs the heavy down comforter over his and Viktor’s heads.

“Hey!” Yamaguchi laughs.

“Sorry!” Yuuri shouts. “I did what came naturally!”

Viktor tickles him until he gives up and reluctantly pushes the comforter back.

Yamaguchi gets another shot and cackles at the result. “The magazine won’t want this one, but I might send it to you if you behave for the rest of the shoot.” He turns his camera around and shows them the static-shocked duck fluff their hair has become.

Viktor’s makeup guy makes a wounded sound and rushes forward to fix the damage Yuuri’s caused. Meanwhile, their grumpy beverage provider from earlier appears at Yamaguchi’s shoulder with two cans of beer. “Nii-chan,” he says, “want a drink?”

“Later,” Yamaguchi says, peering down at his camera. At the crisp sound of the tab popping the lid, Yamaguchi’s head snaps up and his eyes go comically wide. “What the hell, Ryota?” He gives Viktor and Yuuri a horrified look, then grabs the guy’s shirt collar and drags him into the hallway.

When Yamaguchi returns, it’s to Yuuri and Viktor fixing the sheets with magazine-ready hair. Yamaguchi has a pained divot in his forehead. “I’m sorry for my brother,” he tells them in English. “He can’t find a job, so I’m letting him be my assistant for the day.”

Ryota bows sarcastically.

Yamaguchi looks tempted to smack him.

Viktor looks tempted to adopt him.

Yamaguchi’s brother regards everything around him with an air of beleaguered contempt for the remainder of the day. Whenever Yamaguchi wrinkles his nose in thought or asks Viktor and Yuuri to change positions slightly, Ryota makes his thoughts clear with a roll of his eyes or a cough under his breath.

Finally, Yamaguchi turns to Yuuri and says, “If he’s bothering you at all, please tell me and I’ll send him home.”

“No, please,” Yuuri says, giving Ryota a fond smile. “He’s helping.”

Ryota blinks and searches the space around him in honest bewilderment.

Yamaguchi seems even more confused. “Okay…well. Good?”

Viktor covers his grin behind the wide brim of the fan a staff member gave him earlier.

Their last stop is the open-air bath in the back of the inn, and Yuuri guesses the moment he sees it that the cover image will come from here. Unlike modern resorts that force the hot spring to work around the building, this inn was clearly built around the spring. Thick, smooth stones make up the border of the main body of water, and a small fall spills into a smaller pool below. Warm bars of late afternoon sunlight slice through the surrounding bamboo forest and paint over the steam lifting off the surface.

“Okay, so we’re going to try some mainly nude shots out here,” Yamaguchi tells them. “If you guys want to kind of ease into it, we don’t necessarily need the light from the sunset, but—”

Viktor lets out a startled, delighted laugh, and Yamaguchi stops dead in the middle of his sentence.

Yuuri, who grew up with the scent of sulfur and the lick of cold air and hot moisture on his skin, has already shed his yukata.

“So much for your speech, Nii-chan,” Ryota snickers, pulling out a box of cigarettes.

Yuuri stands a little straighter—glad at least for the flesh-toned boxer briefs—but the dread he was expecting to feel simply isn’t there.

Of every setting they visited today, this one involves the least amount of direction from Yamaguchi. Once they’re in the water, Yuuri tugs Viktor to him and Viktor automatically bows his head so Yuuri can kiss the spot between his eyes. It’s an impulsive move, and Yuuri draws back with a sheepish smile, but Yamaguchi makes wild, encouraging gestures with his free hand. “That was perfect! Just—just do that. More of that. Talk to each other, maybe? Ignore me, if you can, and do whatever. ”

“Even go home, if you like,” Ryota adds.

Yamaguchi exhales through his nose and ignores him.

Yuuri smiles wide enough that Viktor smirks.

“I’m telling Yura he was an integral part of our experience,” Viktor whispers.

Yuuri hides his amusement against the curve of Viktor’s shoulder. He closes his eyes as Viktor fits his arms tight around his back and presses his mouth to Yuuri’s temple.

Yamaguchi sends them negatives from the shoot before it goes to print and Viktor promptly has them framed. He spends an hour or two one morning hanging them in various configurations around the apartment before deciding to line the space around their wedding portrait with them.

“If we put them together like this, the hot springs shots look like our honeymoon,” he tells Yuuri brightly.

“Which one?” Yuuri murmurs, still tucked in bed with his phone.

Viktor eyes him coolly for a long moment, then dives down to tickle him until he’s squawking and breathless.

Yuri posts a photo to Instagram of his copy in the microwave.

(Otabek privately confirms later that it’s safe in a box in Yuri’s closet wrapped in a faded Yu-topia yukata.)

The cover does, indeed, turn out to be one of the shots from the open-air bath. Everything about it is unguarded and laid bare, and Yuuri has never seen his own face look so at peace.

He makes it his icon on all his social media platforms for a full year.

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