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let's start living dangerously

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Yuri wakes up partly because Makkachin is whining and partly because there's thumping sounds from Victor's room and Victor is singing -- not loudly, but persistently. It's not quite singing. More like a half-hum from deep in his throat. Victor has a nice baritone voice and also Yuri is beginning to realize, depressingly enough, that he loves Victor as a real human person, not a dream, even though that real human person eats natto and puts jam with red 40 dye in his tea and whines when his dog chooses to sleep with Yuri instead of him. So if Victor, that real human person, feels the need to sing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, with orchestration of dog whining and furniture moving, well, Yuri is going to open his door to let the dog in and put his pillow over his head until he falls asleep.

Yuri is almost back to sleep when it occurs to him that Victor usually goes to bed at nine, like an old man, and gets up at four, like a monster, unless he's been drinking -- and Victor hadn't been out drinking. So it's pretty weird that apparently he's cleaning house at -- Yuri squints at his clock -- two fifteen am.

Yuri lifts his head to look at Makkachin to see if Makkachin has any idea what's going on, but Makkachin turns a little and flops against Yuri with a sigh. He grinds his teeth a few times, and then falls asleep. He doesn't quite snore, but he breathes more heavily. It's very soothing.

It sounds nice, anyway. Victor's low, tuneful humming makes something in Yuri feel all safe and secure. In his half-awake thoughts, it seems only right that an alpha should be staying alert while he sleeps.

Makkachin wakes him up at eight am - still horribly early - because he needs to Go Outside and See A Man About a Squirrel, and cries at the bedroom door until Yuri staggers over and lets him out. Makkachin worked out how to open all the doors of the building a week after Victor moved in. It's ridiculous to expect Yuri to open doors for him, and Yuri sleepily tells him so.

Then Makkachin decides that he doesn't want anybody else but Yuri to take him Outside -- a trick Vicchan had been fond of too. It should have made no difference whatsoever if Yuri or Mari or their mom stood on the porch yawning and making encouraging comments about every blade of grass Vicchan examined like it was a matter of life or death that he chose the right one to pee on -- but Vicchan liked for Yuri to do it.

"Where's your real dad?" says Yuri to Makkachin, as Makkachin examines the exact blade of grass Vicchan always studied suspiciously before deciding it was unworthy, after all. "Why isn't he telling you how intelligent you are to poop here?" Makkachin sneezes. "You are very intelligent," Yuri assures him. "The second best dog."

Behind him comes a theatrical gasp.

"How dare you," says Victor. "Makkachin, don't listen to him!"

"The smartest best standard poodle," says Yuri.

"Well," says Victor. He comes closer and offers Yuri a cup of tea over his shoulder. Yuri takes it and then turns around to see Victor.

He blinks.

"Good morning," chirps Victor. Victor is completely dressed in darkwash skinny jeans and a hot pink button-up shirt, with the sleeves rolled up in a way calculated to display Victor's beautifully muscled forearms. He's wearing a full face of makeup: not just his usual mascara, foundation, and lipgloss, but like. Yuri remembers that look from the photoshoot Victor had done for C⋅O⋅N⋅Q⋅U⋅I⋅S⋅T⋅A⋅D⋅O⋅R by Chanel ("unleash your B E A S T"). Victor's eyeliner is stabbier than Phichit's. He's got some sort of bright blue eye shadow smoked out to his eyebrows, accented by a single streak of gold in the crease. His eyelashes are stained black and he's done something to his eyebrows to make them just a couple of shades darker than his hair. His lips are stained cherry red. There's gold dust on his cheekbones.

Yuri does not say "what the fuck", even though Victor is wearing a gold anklet with a diamond charm that drapes over the strong, sharp line of his bare instep. He's painted his toenails red. He's painted his fingernails red too, Yuri realizes, a cherry-black color that matches his lipstain. "Uh," he says instead.

"It's such a nice morning," says Victor, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as ever. "We should get an early start!"

"Uhhhhh," says Yuri, trying to sniff the air without being rude. Victor smells like α by Tom Ford, like he spent all morning tarting himself up to talk to Yuri. Like he's --

"Mama let me make lunch today!" says Victor. He steps up closer to Yuri, not quite touching him, but definitely getting into Yuri's space, directing him to the safety of the living room.

Makkachin finally picks a patch of grass to pee on and rushes up to be told how beautiful and clever he is. Yuri takes a moment to pray for strength while Victor coos over Makkachin because this - this is not a conversation he'd ever imagined having with Victor Nikiforov. "Um," he begins.

"We should go to the rink right away," says Victor.

"That would be a very bad idea," says Yuri. Of course Victor would consider the rink his territory. This won't end badly at all. This is exactly what Yuri's life is like, so he can't even wonder why it's happening to him. It's happening because the universe hates him.

"Oh, do you want to eat first?" says Victor. A gleam appears in his eyes, the same gleam Phichit had gotten like clockwork, every three months.

"What is it with alphas in rut and feeding me?" says Yuri. It just comes out, because Yuri is a disaster.

"What," says Victor.

"What," says Yuri.

"What?" says Victor. "I'm not in -- which alpha was feeding you? What did they feed you? Were they courting you? Did you --"

"I'm going back to bed," says Yuri.

Yuri does not go back to bed.

Mari walks in on Victor hanging off Yuri and whining because Yuri won't tell him what alpha he let feed him, and Makkachin jumping up and barking joyously, trying to join in this new game. Mari pulls the collar of her shirt up over her nose and yells, "What is that stench?", which is how Yuri realizes that Victor has begun to put out rut-scent to mark his territory. He has to physically drag Victor into the family's bathroom and stand over him while he scrubs off. Victor is very beautiful and extremely naked, and it takes an effort of will not to look to see if Victor is sporting a semi or not.

"I spent an hour on this look," says Victor, resentfully wiping off his makeup with (God help Yuri) Chanel wet wipes.

Yuri is sitting in front of the bathroom door so Victor doesn't try to pretend he's actually scrubbed with soap and water and then rub his scent glands against every doorframe and corner of Yutopia. It's bad enough in the bathroom. Yuri feels a little light headed and, well, hormonally interested. "And it didn't occur to you that something weird was going on?" he says.

"I haven't been in rut for … a while," says Victor. "I had one last winter, but --"

"A while," repeats Yuri.

"It's been some time," says Victor, even more vaguely. "You know how it goes. Being in training. Traveling so much."

"You haven't been in rut for so long that you've forgotten your symptoms?" says Yuri. That seems nice to Yuri, who has a heat, suppressants or no suppressants, like it or not, every three months. His endocrinologist says he is very lucky and should have no trouble having kids as soon as he wants them. Yuri's not so sure about his luck.

"Well, for one thing," says Victor, "The Federation oversees the suppressants I'm on."

"So?" says Yuri. His endocrinologist is technically hired by the JSF. Nobody wants an accidental breakthrough rut or heat during a competition.

"Hmm," says Victor, pausing with his scrubby puff in his hand. "Let me think how to put this. When I first started skating, there was a big scandal that they had to cover up, because one of the alpha girls was put on such strong suppressants that she lost her virility." Victor pauses to let that in. "And her fertility."

"Oh," says Yuri.

"Yes, oh," says Victor. He dabs reluctantly at the scent gland on his thigh and makes a face. "Do I have to --"

"Yes," says Yuri. "Don't make me come over there."

Victor slants a look over at him. His eyes are very bright, blue-fire hot. "Or what?" he says.

The air goes thicker. Yuri feels himself flushing bright red. He has a crazy moment where he wants to drop his eyes and let Victor entice him close. His chest feels heavy and hot, like he's about to have a let-down reflex. Yuri can just imagine if he did, if he actually started leaking heat-milk, the way that Victor would --

"I'll dump cold water on your head," he says firmly.

Victor pouts, but he starts scrubbing properly.

Yuri manages to get Victor safely into his room, but then he runs into more problems.

Victor wants to put all of his makeup back on, but Yuri doesn't let him. "Why not?" says Victor.

"Just -- just put some lipstick on if it makes you feel better," says Yuri. "Trust me."

Victor squints at him like Makkachin squints at diet kibble. "You seem to know an awful lot about this," he says. He sounds - he sounds almost jealous.

"Victor," says Yuri,"when I was sixteen I had to sit beside Takeshi and listen to a teacher explain to us how we were going to be responsible for a family, and how that included managing our alpha's cycle." It had been heavily implied that -- that not that alphas were too stupid to do it, but that omegas were just naturally better at it. More organized. Less apt to think that dragging the entire school into a passive-aggressive scent-marking war was a good idea. Willing to sit in one place and let alphas wear themselves out. "Then I ended up with Phichit for a roommate because Celestino thought it would be safer --"

Victor almost, almost turns the growl into a cough, so Yuri is willing to give him credit for trying. Not much though.

" -- since we shared the rink with the farm team for the Red Wings." Yuri hesitates for a second. "They're all pretty young, you know."

Celestino had managed to suggest, without actually saying the words, that it was probably good for Phichit to have an omega to focus on, and Yuri should use his lessons in discreetly managing alphas for both their goods. Yuri was fed up with having to manage alphas while they acted like he was a fragile glass sculpture waiting to shatter into uncontrolled sexual hunger, to be honest.

Fortunately for them both, Phichit had looked at him and said, "so, uh, Celestino is a little old school, isn't he?" He'd proven himself well able to manage both himself and Yuri's awkward, accidental harem of 18 year old Canadian boys named Chad who had never spent any real time around an omega before. It had been lovely. All Yuri had to do was listen when Phichit told him to frown or smile at somebody, and the hockey alphas just brought him piles and piles of food and trophies. Even the few betas and omegas on the team had followed the alphas' lead.

("Are they really that desperate for an omega's attention?" said Yuri, after the first month or so of the Detroit Deuces bringing him game-winning goal pucks like cats bringing humans dead squirrels. Yuri had no idea what on earth he was supposed to do with them. But they seemed very important to the Chads, so he accepted them anyway.

"Uh, sure," said Phichit, taking a salad out of its container and serving Yuri first. Phichit had really good manners, just like Yuuko. Some American alphas served themselves first and didn't even offer Yuri the best bit on their plate, which Yuri tried to accept as a cultural difference and not a reason to decide they hated him specifically. "We're going to go with desperate.")

Victor is staring at him with narrow eyes again.

"I don't know what you're thinking happened, but it's probably rude of you," Yuri tells Victor.

"Do you like hockey players?" says Victor.

This is possibly the weirdest thing Victor has ever asked Yuri, even including "do you have any past lovers" or "so what was Phichit to you". Yuri has no idea what brought this on -- well, clearly it has to do with Victor's rut, but what does Victor care about hockey players?

"They ... smell funny?" says Yuri slowly. "And they like to crowd people? They get a little weird."

For some reason, Victor winces.

"Is something wrong?" says Yuri.

"Is this weird?" says Victor. "Am I being weird? I've never - I've never been around an omega before when I'm like this."

Yuri takes the time to think about it. Firstly, he doesn't know if he really believes that Victor has never, ever had an omega around during his rut. There were probably beautiful omegas of any gender you cared to name parading themselves around the instant they caught the slightest whiff of his pre-rut. There was probably a sketchy Internet forum devoted to tracking it, to be honest, and a lottery system.

Also, Victor Nikiforov, his lifelong idol, is in Japan to coach him on the strength of a video his best friend's daughters secretly filmed of Yuri skating Victor's routine, like the cliché of an omega making a mating call. They're in Victor's bedroom and Victor has managed to place himself between Yuri and the door, and Yuri doesn't even mind. It had taken real effort to stop Victor from scent-marking everything he could reach on their way there. Yes, it is very weird. But -- "No," says Yuri. "It's not like you can really help it."

Victor opens his mouth, then closes it again. "I don't --" he stops and sighs. "Don't let me be too much."

Yuri is sort of uncomfortable, it's true, but it's only because he knows exactly what he's going to be thinking about during his next heat, and it's not the vague idea he'd had of Victor before. It will be of Victor in his bright colors and shiny jewelry, painting himself to make Yuri pay attention to him. It will be of Victor's room, all cozy and warm looking, with bright colors and soft pillows piled everywhere. He'll be thinking about Victor bringing him tea and making him food and watching him, always, always watching him.

"Am I too much?" says Victor. There's a raw quality to his voice that Yuri's never heard before, like it's being torn out of him.

Every instinct in his body is screaming at him to go all soft and yielding, to let the alpha groom him and bring him pretty things, and to make a nest in the alpha's bower. It'll be fine. He'll stay in Victor's bower and Victor will fuck him and pet him and knot him. He'll kiss Yuri and call him beautiful and his for a whole lovely week, and what happens after that will be whatever happens.

"Victor, you'd better sit down," says Yuri, as Victor's face goes all flushed again. He's beginning to make Yuri nervous. Not that he thinks that Victor is going to be turned into a ravenous alpha beast out of the type of manga Takeshi used to narrate aloud to Yuri while they were stuck in after school omega classes, but -- Victor looks pretty ill.

"I'm fine -" begins Victor, and then turns slightly green. "Someone's cooking fish," he says. "I - don't feel -"

Yuri sniffs the air. He doesn't really smell anything, but he believes Victor. When he's in pre-heat he can tell apart different varieties of rice. "So why don't you lie down and I'll go find you some water," suggests Yuri.

Victor's brows draw together, distressed. "Do you need water? Are you thirsty?"

Well that depends on his definition, thinks Yuri, a little hysterically. "I'm going to get you some water," he says firmly, and somehow manages to escape before Victor tries to find bottles of hand-pumped mineral spring water to give to him, which is a real and terrifying possibility.

Honestly Yuri doesn't even know why he calls Yuu-chan. It's an instinct. There's nothing she can do for him, but it seems very important that he hide in the bathroom and hiss, "Victor Nikiforov is going into rut and I think he just hit on me!!!" when she says "hello?"

"WHAT," shrieks Yuu-chan. Yuri hopes the girls are at school. "HE - OH?? MY GOD??? ARE YOU OKAY???? YURI??????"

"I don't know!" says Yuri. "Things are very weird right now! I had to make him take a shower and scrub behind his knees! I'm freaking out!"

Yuu-chan makes a noise like a dying cow and yells, "HOLY SHIT, SAME??? OH MY GOD????? HE'S REALLY IN RUT????? YURI --" There's a clatter like she had to sit down in shock, and then Takeshi takes the phone from Yuu-chan and laughs uproariously at Yuri for what seems like forever before lapsing into snuffling giggles. In the background, Yuu-chan is making high pitched shrieking noises, like a leaky tea kettle.

"This isn't very funny," hisses Yuri. "What if Yuu-chan did something like this to you? What if she showed up in - in bright pink and a tight skirt and her hair done and it was just after you woke up! Before you had coffee! When you were wearing a Carwash Cuties for Cancer shirt!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" says Takeshi. "You went to our high school. The only competition Yuuko had was you and she probably figured she could support both of us if you got enough sponsors. I let her knock me up before I graduated, for fuck's sake. She knew I was a sure thing."

Yuri ignores the part about Yuu-chan's only competition being him, which is a weird running joke between Yuu-chan and Takeshi. One of them is always reminding the other that if it hadn't been for Victor Nikiforov, they could have had internationally famous beautiful figure skater Katsuki Yuri as their arm candy. Takeshi is forever teasing Yuri by saying that if Victor Nikiforov deserts him with a shameful bundle, he definitely could marry Yuu-chan to save his reputation and Takeshi could take care of the baby while Yuri took his revenge by breaking all of Victor's records.

"I don't know what to do with him!" says Yuri. "I've never - no alpha has ever been this interested in me before!"

It's not that Yuri hasn't been propositioned before, it's just that usually it's Wayne State jocks at parties drunkenly saying things like "I wanna suck your cute titties till your milk comes in, baby", or "Ride my face and break my neck, gorgeous" . Or else it's the weird but very refined and polite person around Minako-sensei's age that comes to a lot of Yuri's shows and competitions. They'd managed to make it clear without actually saying the words that they would make it more than worth Yuri's time if he would be so kind as to wear two thousand dollar stiletto heeled shoes and step on their knot. Possibly that he could say things like "naughty alpha, distracting their Yuri-chan while he skates". Maybe wear eye-wateringly expensive lingerie under his clothes and let them catch a glimpse. Send them a few selfies every week, if he felt like it. Let them send him jewelry and flowers and gift baskets of gold-foil covered chocolates.

("I mean," said Phichit doubtfully, when Yuri consulted him and Ciao-Ciao about it. "Skating is expensive."

"Being chained to someone's bed is more expensive," said Ciao-Ciao, grimly, and made a call that led to Yuri's admirer being penned in by very large Italian men every time they showed up. It's not that Yuri and Phichit think that Ciao-Ciao is probably related to the Mafia, but also, things like that happened all the time.)

Takeshi snorts a little. "Oh, I want to be there when Souji hears about this. I want to see his face when he finds out an alpha got you into his bower."

"Souji?" says Yuri.

"You know, Motoyama in my year? Most popular boy in school? School council president? Rich? Kind of hot? Dyed hair? Looked like a Johnny's Boy? Got into fights every time you went into preheat?"

Yuri has no idea who he's talking about. He was gone for competitions so much in high school that his homeroom gave him sarcastic standing ovations for actually showing up.

"The one that was always crowding you up against walls, dumbass," says Takeshi, exasperated.

"Oh, him!" says Yuri. "... why would he care?"

"I'm going to hang up and I'm going to go tell him you said that," says Takeshi. "And then I'm going to record him crying into a giant bottle of sake, and my life will be complete. Make sure Victor stays hydrated, and let me know if you need in the rink. Victor probably doesn't want to be around other alphas right now." He pauses. "And you can always stay over here," he adds. "You know. Just keep that in mind."

"Thanks," says Yuri.

When Yuri gathers up the courage to come downstairs, Minako-sensei is drinking tea with his mother and staring at the stairs judgmentally. Mari has a facemask on, and his dad is eating squid snacks and tapping at a calculator.

"Buck alphas," says Minako-sensei, with a sniff. That isn't quite fair, because Minako-sensei isn't mated either, but she doesn't act like one. Maybe because she is with Yuri's family all the time, and not by herself. "Well, Yuri? What are you doing about it?"

"I have no idea," admits Yuri. He sits down and stares at nothing in particular. He doesn't even know where to start dealing with this. It's too much. He can't --

"You didn't see his advance directive?" says Minako-sensei, cutting off Yuri's panic spiral. "Shouldn't he have one?"

"I --" For some reason it hadn't even occurred to him that Victor would have one. It didn't seem like Victor would be faced by such mundane realities as advance directive or medical power of attorney forms. "He must. I'm sure he does."

"I'm not going up there to ask," says Mari. "It stinks."

Yuri doesn't think it stinks. It doesn't smell - well, it was definitely an alpha in rut, but it wasn't as nasty as some of the hockey players got, as if they thought they were more attractive the least they bathed. It just smelled masculine and enticing, like Victor is strong enough to find the best things to make the best bower, and Yuri could make a nest there and Victor would provide all the best things for him.

Minako-sensei can't really go up there either, without agitating Victor. Yuri wonders, a little hysterically, if they should send Makkachin up with a note on his collar. No - Victor should have his phone on, unless he's fallen asleep.

"Oh, that?" says his dad. "I think he gave us a copy when he moved in."

And now Yuri feels like a complete idiot. Of course Victor had.

"Hmm, I wonder where I put it?" says his dad. "Honey, did you see where I put Vicchan's paperwork?" He gets up and goes toward the office, talking to himself about the file cabinets.

Even if Victor had given a copy to his parents, it probably won't be that helpful. It will probably say "ask medical power of attorney" -- but at least it should have Yakov Feltsman's number, so they can ask him what they should do. Or, worse, it could be a list of designated partners, and Christophe would be the first name on the list, and he would have to call Chris and Chris would fly from Switzerland and Yuri would have to live with knowing they were having a week of passion under Yuri's roof.

"Ah, found it!" shouts his dad.

"How exciting," says his mother, leaning forward. "I've never had to open one of these before!"

"On that note," says Minako-sensei, getting up, "I'd better go back to the bar."

"I'd better go get the laundry going," says Mari.

After they leave, his dad brings out the paper and lays it on the table. The forms are in an expensive-looking envelope, sealed with string and a round of heavy red wax with some sort of monogram on it. Yuri desperately wants to snatch it away from his dad, but he forces himself to get up before his dad breaks the seal. "I'll - I'll be taking Makkachin for a run," he says.

His dad only hums in response as he draws out a sheaf of papers and spreads them on the table.

"Have fun, dear!" says his mother.

"Ah, Hiroko, look at this," says his dad, and Yuri tears himself away with an effort of will.

Yuri takes Makkachin for a long walk, up the stairs to the castle and then all the way to the temple and back. He lets Makkachin carry his leash, and he sticks his hands in his pockets and tries not to think about what the next day will bring. He goes to the beach and Makkachin brings him sticks to throw until he gets tired. Yuri sits down on Yuri and Victor's own particular driftwood log and Makkachin flings himself at his feet, panting a little. It's very quiet, especially without Victor, who fills a space with his presence even when he's silent. Makkachin sits up again and puts his chin on Yuri's knee, just like Vicchan had used to do.

Yuri puts his fingers in the soft curls of Makkachin's ruff and stares at the estuary.

He comes back to himself when Makkachin whines softly and licks his arm. "We should go back, huh?" he says to Makkachin.

Makkachin barks.

It will be fine, thinks Yuri. Maybe. Probably. If he texted Phichit right now Phichit would send him five weird English sayings that mean he should stop worrying. Phichit was probably right.

When he gets back his dad is carrying in boxes from the van. "Oh, Yuri," he says, slamming the door shut with his elbow, "your mom wants to talk to you. Nothing bad!"

Yuri's heart gives an unpleasant throb, and his stomach twists itself up in a cold knot. If his dad says it's nothing bad, Yuri can believe him. It's probably not horrible at all. His mom probably needs help calling whoever is on Victor's designated partners list and translating for them, since her English isn't very good. Yuri's Russian isn't great, but he can probably muddle through it if he has to, if Victor's partner is from Russia. They should know English, or be able to find someone who does? He unclips Makkachin's leash and sends him off. "I'll go find her," he says.

His mom is in the laundry room, folding towels. She looks up and pats the floor next to her.Yuri sits down beside her and begins to help without speaking. The repetitive motion of folding towels calms him, like his mother must have known it would.

"Now, dear," says his mom, "your father and I looked at Vicchan's paperwork, and he went and spoke with Vicchan, just to make sure."

Yuri swallows hard. "Do you - do you need me to translate for you?"

"Oh no, Vicchan must have filled out the forms at the Consulate. They were in Japanese," says Hiroko. "He says they were very rude about it, though. They said he had to pick someone who wasn't a celebrity!" She chuckles affectionately at the image of Victor trying to explain things to the harassed office workers. "Vicchan didn't know how to tell them he knew you already."

"Oh," says Yuri and then his mom's words sink in and he says, "What?"

His mom picks up a piece of paper on the ground beside her and passes it over. Yuri unfolds it. Victor's strong, slanted handwriting is stark against the printed kanji. It looks like he used a fountain pen to write his name in Cyrillic and Roman letters, like it was important to him that it looked - official. Like he meant it. Yuri skims over most of it. It's just Victor's place of birth and date, his next of kin and his bloodtype results, which is probably the one piece of Victor Nikiforov trivia Yuri had thought he didn't know. He hadn't known so many things about Victor before, and now he has to hoard up new things every day.

At the bottom of the form, just above Victor's signature and the signature of the notary and witness, is a place to list people Victor is willing to share his rut with. The first line is Yuri's name, and the rest have quick, firm lines stricken through them, so nobody can add a name after it was signed.

"Oh," says Yuri.

He sits for a long moment, staring ahead at nothing in particular. It doesn't feel real. It doesn't seem like something that's really happening to him.

"Mom," he says, "do you think he got confused? Or --"

His mom puts her hand on his shoulder, very gently. It's just a butterfly's worth of pressure against his shirt, but it feels heavy anyway. "I think Vicchan knows what he wants," she says. "Do you know what you want?"

Yuri helps his mom fold the rest of the towels and get ready for dinner service. He doesn't talk, and his mom doesn't make him. His dad wanders by and pats his shoulder, a little awkwardly, but Yuri knows that his dad just wants what's best for him. They all do. Sometimes that just makes him feel worse, being like this all the time, even with all the people who love him so much.

It's not that he really makes a conscious decision, but when his mom puts together a tray for Victor - miso and rice, steamed chicken seasoned with dashi and salt - he says, "I'll take it up, Mom."

Mari and his dad both look up. His mom studies him for a second. Then she smiles. "In that case, why don't you bring up some tea with you? I made some nice iced genmaicha."

"Whatever," says Mari, turning away. "I'll take care of Makkachin."

Yuri carries the tray up both sets of stairs, his heart beating a taptaptap against his ribcage. He's not scared, he doesn't think. As he climbs the second set, Victor's scent becomes stronger and stronger. It hadn't been bad in the restaurant, or even in the family area, but now it's almost overpowering. It smells -- Yuri likes it. It makes him feel good, like doing figures on the ice or sitting in the onsen by himself late at night.

He could just set the tray down, tap on Victor's door, and retreat to his own room. He could huddle up in his own pillows and blankets and stay there, close but not involved. Safe.

He shifts the tray so he can knock gently on the door. "Victor?"

He hears shuffling inside, a thump, like Victor was lying down and didn't quite make standing up on the first try. The door opens a crack and about half of Victor's eye is visible through it. His pupil is already blown wide, the iris a thin ring of electric ice blue surrounding it. "Yuri," says Victor. His voice has dropped an octave, from baritone to near bass. He's pretty close to being in rut, then.

Yuri opens his mouth to say, Mom made you food, can I come in? but what comes out instead is, "Did you mean it?"

"Of course I do," says Victor, opening the door a little wider. His makeup is all smeared, like he fell asleep wearing it. Yuri had told him to not put it on again. Victor never listens to anybody.

"Oh," says Yuri. He swallows hard and then shoves the tray at Victor. "You - you go eat this." Victor's face closes off and something sour rises in his scent. "I'll be back!" Yuri adds quickly. "I just have to - get some stuff."

He turns and skitters to his room before he can see what Victor's face does. He closes the door and leans against it, before he takes a deep breath in.

When he comes out again, dressed a loose shirt and leggings and holding a box of emergency supplies, Victor is still standing frozen in the doorway, holding the tray of food. Yuri herds him into the room and onto the couch. "You have to eat something, Victor."

He gets Victor to sit on the couch and sets down his box by the bed, where he can avoid looking at it. He coaxes Victor into drinking the bowl of miso, but when he puts the bowl of chicken and rice in front of him, Victor balks. "I'm not hungry," says Victor. "You eat it."

"I ate already. Just a little bit more," Yuri says. "Okay? You're almost done."

"Don't - don't manage me," says Victor.

Yuri tries not to snap at Victor, but his head is going all muddled from the miasma of pheromones that Victor is putting out. Victor should pay attention to him. He's paying attention to Victor, so the least Victor could do -- Yuri breathes in, slow, in and out. "I'm not," he says. "You'll feel better if you eat."

Victor eats the last of his food like every bite chokes him, and pushes the tray aside. Yuri picks up the tray and sets it outside the door. Possibly his mom will pick it up. Possibly it will stay there until Yuri gets out of the room again. He doesn't really care. He feels Victor's heavy gaze on him the entire way until he comes back again. He only stops to put his glasses on the bookshelf, where they'll be safe.

Victor reaches out.

Yuri finds himself, without really realizing it, sitting beside Victor on the couch, closer than he'd ever imagined being. Victor has his hand in his own, his wrist lifted to his nose. Yuri feels a thrill down his back as Victor takes a deep breath in of Yuri's scent. "You always smell so good," says Victor.

Yuri doubts that, but it's nice to hear.

Victor lowers his hand again and says, "You don't have to do this."

That just makes Yuri mad, though. Who is Victor to worry about what Yuri can or can't do? "Isn't that my line?" he says. They stare at each other. Victor's scent is rising, hot and thick, and Yuri imagines he can smell his own rising to meet it. He doesn't care if it's overpowering or not. "Take off your makeup."

"Why should I?" says Victor, eyes daring him to answer.

"I don't want it smeared all over me," says Yuri. A hot flush starts on Victor's cheekbones and spreads down to the low open neck of his shirt. When Yuri drags his eyes back up to Victor's face again, Victor looks ravenous. A sense of his own power sweeps over Yuri and he lifts his chin up. "Well?"

For a second he thinks Victor is going to tackle him and smear his face all over Yuri's face and chest, mark him all over and make sure Yuri knows he's claimed, and another thrill races down his back -- but Victor turns his head with a huff and then pulls off his own shirt, wiping his face off with it. It doesn't really do a lot but smudge Victor's makeup even more, so Yuri clicks his tongue and gets up to find Victor's makeup wipes.

"Hold still," he says. Victor stays as still as stone, watching Yuri with half-lidded, very blue eyes, as Yuri wipes off his makeup. Yuri touches Victor's face after he's done, dragged by an instinct he's never given into before, letting the scent glands on his wrists touch Victor's skin, marking him in a delicate web of pheromones. Victor stays still as Yuri drags his wrists lower, over Victor's throat.

Victor's eyes are incandescent and bright, waiting. He reaches out and touches the hem of Yuri's shirt, and hesitates a second, watching Yuri closely. Yuri looks down, yielding silently, and Victor pulls up his shirt slowly, his eyes darting between the skin he bares and Yuri's face.

It's hard not to be ashamed of what his body look likes, to wonder what Victor must think of it. It's a little easier when Victor pulls his shirt the rest of the way up and his hands go immediately to Yuri's torso, like he's irresistibly drawn to Yuri's skin. Yuri can't blame him. Victor's skin is so warm with his rut, and it's lovely to look at and touch, a pale creamy gold the color of a Greek statue, but so soft when Yuri puts his hands delicately on Victor's pectoral muscles.

Time seems to freeze while they stare at each other. Yuri can smell Victor's scent rising, heavy and overpowering. He lifts his chin up challengingly and the frozen moment explodes. Victor growls, deep in his throat, and gets into Yuri's space, crowding him further and further into the room until Yuri's knees hit the back of Victor's bed. Yuri can't see very clearly, but he's peripherally aware of shining things surrounding the bed, like there's glass or metal all around it, to make sure an omega sees the bower and thinks that Victor is a good alpha. That Yuri sees the bower and think Victor is a good alpha.

Yuri doesn't give a damn. Victor could decorate his bower with foil gum wrappers and broken beer bottles tied up in zip ties, and Yuri would still think it was the most beautiful thing in the world.

He slides his hands back up Victor's chest, puts his arms around Victor's neck. It's like performing Eros, but he's not, not really. This is the realest thing he's ever felt. "I'm waiting," he says, in a voice that he scarcely recognizes as own, it's so breathy.

Victor shudders, like some cord is snapping and setting him free. The next thing Yuri knows, he's falling onto Victor's bed, in the nest of pillows and blankets all deliciously smelling of Victor, and dragging Victor with him. Victor lands in a crouch over him -- so careful, even now, as his rut reaches the first crest, not to hurt Yuri. He presses kisses all over Yuri's face, bites softly at his shoulders and over his scent glands. Yuri convulses at the first touch of Victor's teeth, as soft as they are, against his scent gland, with a sharp gasp. He drags his fingernails down Victor's back and Victor purrs deep in his throat, arching into the drag of Yuri's nails.

"Oh, nice," sighs Victor. "Feels so good, my pretty Yuri." He nips at Yuri's collarbone, right below where Yuri already wants him to bite. He rubs his bonding gland against Yuri's skin and Yuri gasps out a sharp breath at how hot it feels against him. He grabs a handful of Victor's hair and pulls his throat to his mouth, not quite biting down on Victor's bonding gland. Victor moans, and there's a confused moment where Victor is trying to kiss him and Yuri is trying to kiss Victor, and both of them are trying to kick off their pants, frantic for more skin.

Yuri slides his hands to Victor's hips, digging in tight as Victor's hips grind up against his. Yuri can feel himself getting wet already. He has a brief flash of sanity and pushes Victor away - or tries, even though Victor growls low in his throat and nips warningly at Yuri's shoulder. "Wait, wait," says Yuri. "Victor, stop - just a minute!"

Victor freezes in place. His eyes clear from their haze and he says, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," says Yuri. It shouldn't be possible to flush this deeply, but here he is. "Just -- condoms? In that box? And, um. Lube?"

Victor blinks and then says, "Yeah. Yeah, okay hold on."

Yuri's on the shot, of course, but Takeshi had been on the shot too, and Yuuko had still managed to get him pregnant with triplets. Victor twists around - somehow still graceful - and grabs the box from the floor. His hands are shaking and it takes him a few tries to open the box. For a second Yuri thinks he's going to rip it open. He pulls out the box of condoms and the bottle of lube and shoves the box carelessly off the bed. Yuri half expects to hear things breaking, but there's only a dull thump. Then Victor is crowding him again, nuzzling impatiently at his throat and down his sternum to his chest. Yuri shudders hard as Victor puts his mouth on his nipple and sucks. He's not in heat, so his milk probably won't come, but he feels a dry let-down reflex anyway. His hand spasms, digging into Victor's shoulder.

Victor's going to be so marked up when this is over. The thought makes Yuri crazy - crazier. Everybody's going to look at Victor and know who marked him up, who Victor let mark him up. Yuri's going to walk around with bites and bruises, and everybody will know who did it.

"Hurry up," he says in a growl, bringing his knees up around Victor's torso. Victor fumbles for the bottle of lube and somehow manages to snap it open without it bursting open. The lube is cold against Yuri's skin when Victor puts his fingers against Yuri's hole. Yuri hisses and roll over onto his hands and knees, arching up in lordosis, his ass up so Victor can put his fingers into his hole and - Yuri hisses - put opened mouth kisses against it. It fees so good. Yuri digs his fingers into Victor's soft sheets and growls low, impatient.

Between the lube and Yuri's own slick, he's wet enough that Victor can fuck three fingers into him. It only feeds the itch Yuri feels up and down his spine, but Victor only presses open-mouthed, sucking kisses up his spine, even when Yuri's growl goes deeper. Then he pulls his fingers out, and Yuri feels a white-hot flash of anger at the loss before his head clears enough to realize that Victor must be putting on a condom.

Yuri had never imagined, when he'd gotten those in Detroit, that one day they would go on Victor Nikiforov's dick rather than a knotting dildo.

Victor presses up against him, his chest hot against Yuri's back. His breath is hotter than his skin against Yuri's ear. "Yes? Please?" His accent is very thick.

"Yes," says Yuri. He can't tell if he's speaking in English or Japanese or just the twist of his neck to try to get Victor to kiss him again. Victor tries, but he's too distracted by mouthing at Yuri's shoulder, at the nape of his neck. Victor shifts and Yuri moans at the feel of his dick sliding home in Yuri He arches his hips up further, like he can get any closer. Victor's so hot against him, in him, and Yuri feels like he's going to burn up. He digs his nails in Victor's sheets so hard that he feels the fine cotton start to tear. It doesn't take long enough Victor's panting turns into low growls that vibrate down Yuri's spine, and when Yuri moves his head, trying to toss away his sweaty hair, Victor lets out a deep, basso-profundo snarl.

His teeth fasten onto Yuri's bonding gland, not quite hard enough to bond -- Yuri's not receptive anyway, he's not in heat even though his body is a white hot scream of joy -- and Yuri yells, trying to snap his teeth into Victor's skin, even as he feels Victor's knot swell.

He thinks he comes, but he's not sure: everything is a flare of sensation that builds and builds until it's a relief when his brain shuts off. He's barely aware of Victor shifting them to lie on their sides, his knot still swollen, hot and dear in Yuri's body. .

It's good. It's so good.

Yuri sighs deep and lets himself relax into Victor. The last thing he's aware of is Victor purring, nuzzling against Yuri's neck and behind his ear, his arms wrapped tight, tight around Yuri. He's safe.

Yuri wakes up.

They're not knotted together anymore, and at some point when Yuri was asleep, Victor had gotten up and cleaned off the worst of the stickiness. Victor's lying half on top of him, arms around Yuri's waist. Victor's pretty heavy. Yuri wonders if he should feel trapped. It doesn't feel like that at all. Yuri just feels safe and surrounded.

He lifts up his hand and touches Victor's face delicately: the long, strong line of his nose, his cheekbone, the little crease of his philtrum, above the Cupid's bow of his lips. He touches the very tips of Victor's pale eyelashes, the line of his eyebrows and the sweep of the shell of his ears. It all seems impossibly dear to him. He pushes his fingers carefully through Victor's fine hair, cradling the elegant curve of his skull. It seems impossible that you could love someone this much without your heart cracking in two.

Victor stirs, turning his face into Yuri's chest. "You're still here," he says. His voice is slow and rough, like he's still mostly asleep.

Yuri finds himself scritching Victor's head without his conscious volition. The soft strands of Victor's hair feel good against his fingers. "Of course I am." Where else would he be?

"Will you stay?" says Victor.

"For as long as you need me," says Yuri.

(Barcelona, later:

"Will you stay?" says Yuri.

Victor kisses his mouth, the nape of his neck, everywhere, everything. "As long as you want me," he says.

Forever, then, thinks Yuri, and then he says it out loud, so Victor knows. "Stay with me forever."

"Of course," says Victor.)