Victor flopped down on the couch as he and Yuri walked back into their apartment after a long day of practice. Yuri sat next to him, but quickly scrunched his nose and sniffed at his shirt.
“I’m going to go take a shower,” the younger man declared, standing again.
Victor chuckled. “It’s not that bad is it?”
“I smell so bad I’m offending my own nose.”
Victor smiled and tugged Yuri down for a kiss. “Don’t take too long. Yurio will be over for dinner in a bit.”
“I remember. Don’t worry, I won’t take long.”
Victor turned to watch his fiance stroll into the bedroom, then decided to take a few minutes to update their calendars and make sure that their schedules didn’t have any conflicts.
“Yuri?” he called as he remembered one of the Japanese man’s sponsors had wanted to change the dates of an appearance. “When were the new dates of the exhibition in Sapporo?”
Yuri poked his head and shoulders back out of the bedroom. “I forget, but they sent the details this morning so it should still be in my recent emails.”
“Will I be able to read it?”
“They sent it in English as there are a couple non-Japanese skaters performing.”
Victor heard the water start in the shower and he pulled Yuri’s laptop over and turned it on. After a startup sequence long enough that he made a mental note to buy his fiance a new computer, he finally was able to open Yuri’s email client. As Yuri had thought, the email was near the top. Victor opened it, checked it against their calendar then changed the dates since they had no conflicts.
He was about to put Yuri’s computer to sleep when a new email arrived. At first glance it looked like an advertisement, but it had an important flag on it. He hesitated, but curiosity got the better of him and he opened it.
Subject: Help Detroit’s Dogs! - Semi-Annual Donation Drive.
Every dog deserves a good home, and we at Detroit Lap Dog Rescue are committed to ensuring that each of our adoptable companions are paired with a loving family. However, we need your assistance to continue in our mission.
As a no-kill shelter we often see higher expenditures as we work to place elderly or special needs pets, and our facilities are frequently at capacity.
By donating to a local shelter you can be assured that your support goes where it’s needed, to care for the animals awaiting placement.
The Staff and all our canine companions at Detroit Lap Dog Rescue
Victor blinked a couple times, and wondered why a charity email garnered an important tag. Then a second email arrived.
I’m sure you just saw that our fundraising mailer went out, but I wanted to reach out personally since you’re like family. Everybody here misses seeing you around, and we all hope you’re doing well in Russia (yes, we’ve kept tabs through your career).
Yuri you’d love so many of our new adoptables lately. We’ve got a ton of mini poodles, and in that brown you love. And that little Jack Russel that used to follow you around, Gizmo, he finally found a home with a couple of children who can actually tire him out.
We miss all the toys you used to donate, the kennels feel so cold without all the new plushes decorating them. Lonnie says that the new volunteers don’t connect with the dogs as much as you did.
Anyway, I’m rambling. I’m attaching several photos showing your favorites with their new families. I hope you can come see us next time you’re in the States.
Victor blinked, then smiled as the pieces slotted together. He heard the shower shut off as he set the computer aside. He padded into the bedroom, walked up behind Yuri and wrapped his arms around Yuri’s middle. He dropped kisses onto the other man’s bare shoulder.
“Yuuuuuri….” Victor murmured in his ear. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Yuri turned in Victor’s embrace and blinked adorably. “Tell you what?”
“That you used to volunteer at a dog rescue.”
Yuri blushed. “It… I missed Vicchan so much… they didn’t allow dogs in the apartment… I…”
Victor kissed Yuri sweetly, just a press of lips before parting again. “Why do you sound like you’re apologizing? That’s something to be proud of.”
Yuri blushed and smiled. “I liked it, and playing with the dogs after practice helped me relax when the anxiety got bad.” He paused. “How did you find out?”
Victor blushed then rubbed the back of his neck. “An email or two might have arrived while I was updating our schedules.”
“Oh!” Yuri laughed. “Is Maggie out of toys again?”
Victor smiled and nodded. “Is that what you did when you got too many?”
Yuri nodded. “I know a lot of skaters donate them to places that give them to children, but I saw all the dogs in their lonely kennels and decided that I want to give them to the dogs instead.”
“You could have told me you know,” Victor murmured. “We didn’t have to give them all to the children’s hospital.”
Yuri smiled up at Victor. “It’s ok.”
Victor shook his head. “No Yuri. If you want to donate your extra gifts to dog rescues, then say so. They’re yours to do with as you will.”
“If it’s not a problem…”
Yuri smiled and nodded. “The dogs always got so excited.”
“How about after worlds we go to Detroit and give plushies to the dogs at the rescue. We’ll already be in the US, and in the scheme of things Boston isn’t that big a distance. “
“You mean it?”
Victor nodded, and Yuri hugged him tight. “Thank you Vitya!”
Flowers and plushes rained down onto the ice as Yuri held the final pose of Yuri on Ice for the last time that season. He’d been only a couple of points ahead of Victor after the free skate, and hoped that his performance had been enough to hold on for gold.
The cheers of the crowd gave him hope that he had a chance. He grabbed several onigiri plushies and a stuffed poodle before making his way to the kiss and cry. His knees bounced, and he stared at Victor’s skate guards while he waited for his scores. Would he or his coach take the top spot?
He watched the pile of plushies grow out of sight of the cameras as little girls laden with gifts came off the ice.
The scores were announced, and Yuri saw his name appear on the board, above Victor’s. The crowd erupted, and Victor hugged Yuri tight.
“You did it Yuri! I knew you could do it!”
Yuri had taken gold at worlds.
Later that night in their hotel room Yuri and Victor dumped out their bags of plushies and picked through for their favorites. Once they’d retrieved a few token items Victor laughed and jumped into the pile. “So many happy puppies!”
Yuri took a photo with his phone, then sighed.
“I just wish they were smaller. These are fine for large dogs like Makka, but can be a bit much for smaller breeds, especially when they’re already shelter nervous.”
“So just ask for smaller things.” Victor stood and walked over to Yuri, tipping his chin up for a kiss.
“I couldn’t impose on what people want to give me.”
“Why not?” Victor asked. “People throw things hoping that they’ll make you happy and to show their support.”
Yuri blushed and ducked. He knelt and started to return the plushies to the bags they’d carried from the arena. He glanced up at the sound of a camera to see Victor typing away.
“What are you doing Vitya?”
“Just posting to instagram.”
Yuri sighed, then turned his attention back to bagging the toys.
“Yuri!” A petite round middle-aged woman beamed as she walked around the counter at the rescue. She reminded Victor of Hiroko.
Yuri dropped several bags of toys at his feet and strode forward to embrace the woman. “It’s good to see you Maggie.”
Maggie held Yuri at arm’s length and clucked disapprovingly. “Are you eating enough Yuri?”
Yuri laughed. “I’m a competitive athlete Maggie. This is actually the weight I need to be at.”
She made a face. “You’re coming to my house for dinner so I can get some food in you. No arguments, I watched worlds, it’s the end of your season.”
Yuri blushed, then the kindly woman turned to Victor. “Maggie, this is my fiance, Victor.”
She marched up to him and stared up.
Victor only gazed back, waiting for her to speak.
“You’re coming too young man,” she declared. “I won’t take no for an answer.”
“Maggie…” another man started, rounding the corner. “We’re going to need more puppy pads soon. Also…” he stopped when his eyes landed on Yuri. “Yuri!”
Lonnie strode forward and grasped Yuri’s hand. “I’ve missed you man! How’s life in Russia? You haven’t lost any digits to hypothermia yet have you?”
Yuri laughed. “It’s not that much colder than here in the winter!”
“Lonnie,” Maggie started. “Go let all the good natured pups into to play area. We’ll let Yuri and his handsome fiance play while the dogs pick out their favorite toys.”
“I’m assuming you’re a dog person,” she said, turning to Victor.
Victor whipped out his phone, and opened his folder of Makkachin photos. He handed it over with a grin. “That’s my Makkachin!”
“A poodle man, just like Yuri,” she smiled. “No wonder he fell for you. You have good taste.”
“Come on Vitya!” Yuri said, poking his head back around where he’d already started dragging the bags of toys. “The dogs are this way.”
Victor left Maggie at the front and followed the sounds of excited yipping until he reached a brightly painted cement play area. Yuri knelt in the middle, chihuahua in his hands licking his face while a terrier breed pawed at his legs. A corgi had already dragged away a stuffed tempura to chew on while a dachshund moved from plush toy to plush toy, sniffing at them.
“Here comes round two!” Lonnie declared as another six dogs ran into the space.
Victor couldn’t help but chuckle as the dogs surrounded Yuri, who quickly fell over laughing as they jumped up on him excitedly.
“Can you handle any more Yuri?” Lonnie asked, leaning on the low cinderblock wall that surrounded the play area.
Yuri just raised his hand with a ‘thumbs up’ sign.
By the time the fourth round was brought in Yuri was surrounded by twenty small dogs: two corgis, three pugs, two shih tzus, two chihuahuas, a maltese, the dachshund, five miniature poodles, and several terriers. Yipping mingled with Yuri’s laughter and bounced off the walls, and Victor wondered if he could be any more in love.
“Are these for the pups too?” Lonnie asked, eyeing two more huge bags of toys at Victor’s feet.
Victor nodded. “Da.”
Lonnie grinned. “Oh this is gonna be the best photo yet!” He grabbed the bags, carried them to the far side and dumped them out over the wall. “Ready Maggie!”
Victor watched Yuri pull himself over to the pile of toys and lean against them while dogs jumped all around him.
Maggie appeared at his side with an old polaroid camera and snapped several photos.
“Pictures?” Victor asked.
Maggie nodded. “It just started one time, and it caught on. Put the toys in a pile with Yuri at the center and the dogs all around. That boy has the biggest smile with the pups. It helps too. I post these on the bulletin board, and when people see how friendly the dogs are they’re more inclined to adopt.”
Maggie nodded. “So many people think they have to get puppies or end up with behavior problems, but that’s just not true. Some of these pups are here because of elderly owners who passed or otherwise could no longer care for them. There are sad cases where a new baby was allergic, or even worse when new parents decided that they couldn’t handle both a baby and a dog. There are the ‘we’re moving and the new apartment doesn’t allow pets’ group…” She sighed. “Only a tiny percentage are given up for behavior issues, and we work with them to train them for life with a new family.”
“Wow…” Victor said, sad for the dogs excitedly trying to get his fiance to play. He pulled out his phone and opened the camera app. “May I?”
Maggie smiled. “Have at it! I love the old polaroid photos so that’s what I use, but I bet his fans would love seeing him like this.” She strolled back to the front counter, waving her photos to develop them.
Victor grinned and snapped several photos of Yuri surrounded by the dogs. He posted his favorite to Instagram, Yuri laughing so hard his eyes were closed with crinkles at the corners. He was reclined in the pile of plushies and had three dogs with front paws on his chest with several more surrounding him and one of the chihuahuas on top of the pile lording over it all.
He captioned the photo with Worlds Gold Medalist Yuri Katsuki celebrating his win with the adoptable dogs at the Detroit Lap Dog Rescue.
Within minutes the post had gone viral, with more than a thousand likes. But it was the comments that took Victor by surprise:
OMG those corgis!
Yuri with a shih tzu! I didn’t know I needed this until now.
Need the address so I can adopt all of them!
So many happy puppies!
More photos of Yuri with the dogs!
Victor laughed, and soon spotted a trend. As many people were asking about info on the dogs as they were gushing over the photo.
“Yuri!” he sing-songed as an idea popped into his head.
Yuri looked up from the pile, a huge grin on his face. “Yeah?”
“Your fans want introductions to your new friends.”
Yuri fixed his glasses from where they had gone askew, then smiled. “Ok.” He turned and found Lonnie. “Tell Victor their names?”
Lonnie grinned. “Of course!”
Victor spent the next hour photographing Yuri with each of the dogs and uploading the photos to instagram.
Victor eyed the deep fried meat smothered in something white. It smelled delicious, but he could tell just by looking that it was a meal their nutrition plans would never allow during the season. “What is this?”
“Chicken-fried steak,” Yuri replied, licking his lips. “Maggie makes the best chicken-fried steak.”
“So… it’s chicken?” Victor looked at the piece of meat, and doubted it was chicken. At least he recognized the vegetable as steamed green beans.
“No, it’s beef. But breaded and fried like chicken, then covered in white gravy. Definitely not in our diets, but so worth the cheat.”
Maggie, her husband, and their children sat down and said a quick grace before everybody started eating.
They were about halfway done with the meal when Maggie’s attention turned to Victor. “So I have to ask, what did you do?”
Victor blinked several times. “What are you talking about?”
“Our phones were ringing off the hook all afternoon. We’ve got eight appointments tomorrow, and another five the day after. We’re trying to decide if we can open up more appointments to meet the adoptable dogs. People kept saying they saw the photos online.”
“I just posted photos of Yuri with the dogs to instagram.”
“Well, thanks to you we’re looking at two of the busiest days in years.”
“Ummm…” Victor didn’t know what to say.
“Thank you!” Maggie cried. “I just hope all the pups find good homes.”
Yuri blinked adorably at his phone, which had just chimed with an incoming email.
“Spam in bad English?” Victor asked.
“No…?” Yuri tilted his head. “It’s a request for an interview.”
“You just won the World Figure Skating Championships Yuri. That’s to be expected.”
“But… they don’t want to interview me about skating. They want to interview about donating my plushes to the rescue.”
“Really?” Victor walked around Yuri and peered over his shoulder at the email. It was for a dog aficionado website. He thought about it for a minute. “Well I don’t see any harm to it, so I’ll support whatever you decide.”
Compassion on Ice
- By We Heart Small Dogs Staff
Yuri Katsuki is on top of the world. The competitive men’s figure skater recently won the World Figure Skating Championships. But while many athletes head to famous amusement parks or exotic locales to celebrate, Katsuki took a far more modest victory trip. He returned to Detroit, where he’d trained for several years, laden with bags of plush toys to make a special delivery to the Detroit Lap Dog Rescue.
Photos posted to Instagram by Katsuki’s fiance, fellow competitor and five-time world figure skating champion Victor Nikiforov, went viral. They showed Katsuki surrounded by the plush toys that had been tossed to the ice by his fans, and rescue dogs vying for the skater’s attention.
We at We Heart Small Dogs saw the photo and immediately wanted to know more about the skater, the rescue and how he came to donate his plush toys to the dogs.
“I moved to Detroit to train when I was eighteen,” Katsuki said in an interview. “But due to the cost of bringing a dog overseas I had to make the difficult choice to leave my miniature poodle, Vicchan, with my family in Japan. I missed him terribly, but a classmate suggested that I spend some time volunteering with a local rescue.”
According to staff at the rescue, Katsuki quickly became a regular face among their volunteers, and the dogs took to him immediately. But they were surprised the first time he dragged a large bag of plush toys through the doors.
“Small rescues have tight budgets,” said Maggie Smith, operations manager at Detroit Lap Dog Rescue. “We rely on donations of time, money and materials. We often take in elderly and disabled dogs and a large percentage of funds covers veterinary fees. While we do our best to provide proper enrichment to all our dogs, we always wish we had more in the budget for extra toys.”
As Katsuki rose through the ranks of competitive figure skaters, the donation of his extra plush toys became a regular occurrence at the rescue.
“As a skater I love receiving all the tokens of appreciation after a skate, but it’s impossible to keep them all. I’d quickly run out of room,” explained Katsuki. “It’s common for skaters to donate the extras. Most go to organizations that distribute them to children in need, but I looked at the dogs awaiting their forever homes, and I wanted to see them excited by new toys.”
The donations were the inspiration of the viral photo posted by NIkiforov. It was a tradition started by Smith, and expanded upon by the famous skater during their recent visit, who also posted several photos of Katsuki posing alongside adoptable dogs.
“I never saw that boy smile bigger than when he was surrounded by excited dogs, each picking their favorite new toys,” Smith said.
“It was a magical moment,” said Nikiforov. “Yuri was laughing and all the dogs were barking with excitement.”
“The tokens are meant to make skaters happy, and I missed my own dog so much that nothing made me happier than seeing all the dogs enjoying the toys,” concluded Katsuki.
When asked if he planned to continue the tradition now that he trains in Russia, Katsuki answered, “Absolutely, there are always dogs in need, and I love seeing them when they get a new toy. While I think that trips to Detroit after each competition might be a bit much, Victor and I have discussed it and we’ve decided to seek out a worthy rescue wherever we compete.”
The World Figure Skating Championships officially ended the season, but Katsuki and Nikiforov are scheduled for several exhibition performances this summer, and both will be competing again when the next season starts this fall.
By the time Yuri and Victor returned to St. Petersburg Maggie had reported several adoptions, more families waiting for better fits and a handful of new foster families. The article had also been picked up and republished by several larger web news outlets, and threads had popped up on figure skating forums asking what other skaters did with their extra plushies.
Victor and Yuri quickly forgot about the instagram posts and the article. There was training and preparing for the next season, and exhibitions to skate.
Yuri had won gold the prior nationals, so he was automatically qualified and didn’t need to move up through the block championships. Therefore his first competition of the season was Skate America at the beginning of October.
Yuri wore an ombre outfit that faded from black through royal blue to white, flashing into a blur as he concluded his final combination spin.
Applause thundered around him as he bowed, and plushes immediately started littering the ice. At first he thought they looked somewhat different than normal, but once he’d grabbed several cute looking ones he realized that they were smaller but more numerous than normal.
Victor hugged him, radiant in his suit, and passed over his skate guards. He grabbed a purple dog from Yuri’s arms and held it up, play barking, to distract Yuri from his nerves as they waited for the scores.
What neither of them were prepared for was the loud squeak the toy emitted when Victor squeezed its middle.
They stared at each other, then Victor squeezed again.
“It’s a dog toy!” Yuri laughed. “I guess somebody remembered where I donate them.”
Victor’s eyes wandered to the other toys coming off the ice. He grabbed several from the little girls at random.
Almost every one of the toys squeaked or crinkled.
Victor grinned and Yuri’s eyes sparkled with delight at knowing so many people had remembered and considered what Yuri did with the toys.
The scores were almost forgotten as Yuri gazed at the two huge bags of toys waiting to go to the shelter.
Yuri and Victor were staying in Detroit during the week between Skate America and Skate Canada, which Victor was competing in. They’d worked out rink time with Celestino, and the arrangement saved them unnecessary jet lag while also allowing Yuri to catch up with Phichit, who’d moved back to the US.
Of course they set aside time to visit the lap dog rescue and present the dogs with all the new toys. Maggie was thrilled with the sounds of squeaking as it mingled with Yuri’s laughter, and Victor smiled the entire time as he took a whole new round of photos showing his fiance and the pups.
“That was gorgeous Vitya!” Yuri cried as he hugged his fiance as he came off the ice. “I’m going to have to watch my back. The enthusiasm really propelled it to a whole new level.”
Victor beamed as he took his place between Yakov and Yuri in the kiss and cry.
Yuri poked through several of the plush animals coming off the ice, noticing that they had more than the normal poodles.
Yuri blinked and pulled free the offending toy. He squeezed it again.
Both he and Victor started laughing.
“I guess you’re included now,” Yuri joked.
Victor smiled and pulled him close. “I could think of worse things to do with the toys.”
“Oh Yuri, thanks for thinking of us, but why not spread the love? I know Mississagua has shelters too. How about I make some calls and you can drop off the toys there?”
“Of course. Thanks to you and Victor we’ve gotten several dogs into new homes again. So do that for other pups.”
“Great. I’ll make some calls and send some contact information later.”
“Ok, talk to you then.”
Yuri ended the call and padded over to the bed where Victor reclined against pillows, reading a novel. He set the book aside and opened his arms to cuddle.
“Maggie says though we’re close enough for a quick detour, to find a shelter here. She’s gonna get some names to me,” Yuri said as he settled against Victor’s chest.
Victor pressed his lips to Yuri’s hair. “Sounds like a plan.”
Yuri turned his head up and kissed Victor softly. “Are you ok with this? I mean… didn’t you donate to children’s hospitals? Donating to shelters was my thing and I don’t want it to be imposed on you.”
Victor smiled. “Knowing that they’re going where they’re needed is the most important thing. Besides, the photos of you in the middle of a pile of dogs and plushies is the best thing ever.”
“Oh no,” Yuri said sitting up slightly.
“What?” Victor asked, slightly alarmed.
Yuri smirked. “Your toys this time, that means you get to be at the center of the pile.”
Victor’s eyes widened, then he started laughing. “Ok, I see how it is. Deal.”
Maggie had explained to her Canadian counterparts how effective the impromptu marketing campaign had been, and by the time Victor and Yuri dragged the bags of toys into the shelter they were as excited as the skaters.
Yuri watched from just outside the play area, cement painted like a cartoon forest, as small dogs were let in to jump at Victor’s legs.
“They’re not Makka sweetheart,” Yuri teased. “You have to get down to their level.”
“They’re so little!” Victor exclaimed in delight.
“They’re called lap dogs. Makka thinks she’s a lap dog, but she’s really a whole couch dog.”
Victor looked around to make sure there were no dogs behind him, then sat on the floor. He started laughing even harder, mouth in a heart shape, as the dogs starts jumping on his chest, trying to lick his face.
“So how does this work Yuri?” Victor asked, holding up a miniature poodle.
“They’ve still got one more group of dogs I think. Then just relax against all those toys for a good photo. I’ll get photos of you with the adoptables this time.”
Victor flopped back against the pile of toys and laughed as the dogs clamored over him, trying to decide if he or the toys was more interesting. The entire time Victor wore his heart-shaped smile.
Yuri walked over and curled himself against Victor’s chest.
“You know you don’t need to ask for a cuddle.”
Yuri smiled. “I know, but I wanted to get comfortable before talking. I’ve been thinking.”
“Oh, about what?”
“If we’re going to do this… with the plushies in every city… I don’t want to have Maggie do all the work. So let’s set some rules about what we look for in a shelter.”
“Ok, what do you have in mind?”
“Local, if at all possible,” Yuri said immediately. “The ones who don’t get funding from government or bigger groups.”
Victor ran his fingers through Yuri’s hair. “Help where it’s needed most.”
Yuri nodded. “Also, unless there just isn’t one… no-kill shelters.”
Victor scrunched his nose. “Agreed. I don’t like the thought of putting down dogs just because they aren’t adopted in time.”
“What do you want?”
“Anything that makes you happy.”
Victor smiled down at where Yuri blushed adorably. “I’m serious. I see how happy this makes you. Besides, I’ve not dealt much with shelters. You at least volunteered, so I bet you’ll have better ideas of what to look for.”
“Are you sure?”
Victor nodded. “As long as you’re happy, then I’m happy.”
It was after Yuri’s win at the Trophee de France that they really started to get an idea of just how big an impact they could make. Yuri had carefully researched Paris shelters before choosing one to receive the toys.
When they arrived they were greeted by a harried-looking woman, who immediately apologized for not being more prepared.
Yuri looked around. The building was older, and, while it was obvious that the staff did everything they could, was in need of repairs. When they were led to the play area the bright colors had muted and faded over time.
For a moment Yuri wondered about his decision. Then the dogs came in, happy and healthy. Their coats were shiny, and eyes bright with excitement.
Victor conversed with the manager in rapid French as they took photos, and Yuri’s initial concerns dissipated as he was greeted by one excited pup after another. It was only at the hotel that evening that Victor filled Yuri in on the conversation.
“She cried you know…”
“Hmm?” Yuri asked, tilting his face up to look into Victor’s eyes.
“When I was talking to the manager of the shelter. She said she cried when she received our call.”
“You saw the building versus the dogs. Every spare Euro goes to taking care of the dogs. But she recently had a major repair to the heating system, then a severely ill dog came in and was expensive to treat. She didn’t have any discretionary budget left for anything like new toys, she’d even sent out an emergency donation request to cover food.”
Yuri felt tears at the corners of his eyes. “Really?”
Victor nodded. “She said our call was like a miracle.”
“Hmm?” He wiped away a tear.
“I know we normally discuss big purchases, but you were so happy with the dogs… I made a big order of food to be delivered. Five hundred euros worth.”
Yuri threw his arms around Victor’s neck and kissed him. “Thank you!”
The news that Victor had made a food donation went as viral as the photos of the dogs after France. The manager of the shelter was seen crying in joy in more than one photo, and the news on social media was that most of the dogs quickly found new homes.
From there the fervor only grew. Victor received a stuffed poodle after his performance in the NHK Trophy with a donation receipt pinned to it. Other people threw toys bagged with gift certificates for local pet stores.
“Oi! Losers!” Yurio called as he scratched to a stop. “I want in.”
Yuri blinked at the teen, “In on what?”
“This shelter thing you two have going on. Except I want cats.”
Victor leaned over the barrier from where he’d been talking to Yakov on the side. “You do know we’ve been visiting dog only shelters.”
“Well visit one with cats after the Final, and take me with you.”
“Why not find cat only shelter on your own?” Yuri asked.
Yurio’s eyes widened. “They have those?”
Yuri nodded. “Yes.”
“Ok, but you’re coming with me. I need somebody to do the photo bit.”
“Do cats like big plushes?” Victor asked.
“Tch,” Yurio responded. “If nothing else my angels at least listen when I say something’s important. I saw the bags of toys in Japan. I said that I wanted to do the same with cat toys. Besides, kick toys are bigger.”
“Kick toys?” Victor asked.
Yurio rolled his eyes. “They hold onto one end with their front paws and kick and scratch with the back. What are you, senile?”
“Be nice Yurio,” Yuri chided.
“I’m just not versed in cat toys,” Victor laughed and said at the same time. “I’m a dog man.”
“Whatever. So you’ll do the photo part for me?”
“Sure Yurio,” Yuri replied.
“Good.” Yurio pushed off again before Yakov could scold him.
“I think we may have started something,” Yuri mused.
Victor moved and wrapped his arms around Yuri’s waist, the barrier between them. “That reminds me… I’ve been thinking.”
“Oh? Should I be worried?”
Victor pouted. “Hey…”
Yuri smiled and kissed Victor lightly. “What were you thinking?”
“Well you know I co-produce exhibitions… What if we start doing some for charities? That would let us help with money, and we could expand to do things like assist shelters for other animals too.”
“Really?” Yuri’s eyes grew wide.
Victor smiled and nodded. “We’re in a position to do good, so let’s go for it. I see how happy it makes you, how happy it makes the dogs, the people running the shelters, and it makes me happy too. What’s a bit of extra work when so many benefit?”
Yuri squeezed Victor tight. “I love you Vitya.”
“I love you too.” Victor replied. “So is that a yes?”
Victor grinned, then stepped away. “Oh Yakov! Yuri and I were talking…”
Yurio skidded to a stop again. “I know that tone… whatever he’s thinking, I want in.”
“You already are Yurio, you already are.”