The birth of Nikolas Katsuki-Nikiforov caused quite a rift in the neighborhood. Some didn’t know that Yuuri was pregnant at all, others were surprised on how quickly the due date came along, and one even wondered if the couple were to stay together after Viktor’s time in jail. Regardless, the name was befitting, they thought, being how the baby was born on St. Nicholas Day. Nicholas, someone else brought up, was also the name of the final czar of Russia, who’d died four or five years previously, and maybe they named him Nikolas after the czar, as Viktor was Russian?
Wait, wasn’t Viktor’s older relative, (perhaps his grandfather?) named Nikolai?
There were plenty of options, but no one got to ask as they weren’t invited to the christening of the baby.
The child will have an interesting time growing up, they’re certain. Born to Viktor Nikiforov and Yuuri Katsuki, who were as different as night and day, they wondered what his personality and manners would be like, how he would be raised, all normal gossip for a small neighborhood such as this. Yuuri, after all, was called awful names by some people who alleged he was a black widow, but in reality, he was sweet as can be. Viktor looked mean with the cold expression permanently on his face when alone in public. They hoped the child would be kind, and a respectable member of the community.
They just need to ensure the parents are suitable for such a deed, but that’s hard to judge.
For while Viktor is spotted at various parties over the winter, Yuuri Katsuki was last seen at the christening on December 26th, and wouldn’t reappear for some months. The party afterwards was lovely, they heard, and Yuuri wore an outfit that allegedly cost more than Mrs. Stanley’s mortgage. They also were told that not one member of the Katsuki side of the family attended, and that it was better that way.
Still, regardless of how wonderful the party was or wasn’t, Yuuri’s disappearance was a much more pressing topic.
When asked by someone’s husband after their wife pestered him enough, Viktor would insist that Yuuri was fine, just simply taking special care of their baby, but neighbors wouldn’t be soothed in their minds until someone volunteered to go call on Yuuri themselves.
Isabella Leroy was the lucky woman for the job.
Yes, Yuuri was always seen as shy and quiet, and yes it probably wasn’t acceptable or Yuuri to be flaunting about the streets after Viktor’s imprisonment over the summer, but it simply wasn’t like him to go so long without raiding the bookstore.
The owner of the bookstore complained, somewhat jokingly, that she’d have to close their doors due to lack of business from their most loyal customer. She knew Yuuri spent some time recovering from the baby, but not even after she had triplets did she spend so much time locked away at home.
It simply wasn’t right.
Mrs. Leroy was met at the door by Lilia, the Nikiforov’s lead maid, one midday in late March, and when asked to see Yuuri, she tried to turn the visitor away. But after some pleading, she made her promise to wait in the front hall while she went to tell Yuuri that he had a visitor.
She spent that time looking around the quiet front hall, puzzled that there wasn’t any sign of life. She supposed that perhaps the Nikiforovs had acquired quite a few maids, but even when she and Mr. Leroy had done so for their oldest, there was always a stray diaper or bottle lying around.
She was called up to Yuuri’s parlor in a few minutes, where she was luckily met by Yuuri himself. Clad in a simple pair of coveralls, hair pinned back, he smiled at her right away. (She’d share his questionable outfit choice with the neighbors, who weren’t horrified at what he wore, but at the reason he wore it, because he had been doing house chores). The baby was asleep in a bassinet nearby, and the spritz of black hair atop his head had thinned out, but covered more region under the knitted hat he wore. He slept on satin sheets, she was certain.
“Oh, hello, Mrs. Leroy, how are you?” Yuuri stood to shake her hand. “Have a seat, will you? I’ve asked Lilia to bring up some tea.”
“Splendid,” Mrs. Leroy sat on one of the fluffy couches. “My dear, I came to call on you because no one has seen you in close to three months. I know time is needed to recover from a baby, but we were getting worried!”
Yuuri’s smile faded, and his hands were clasped together. “I had an uneasy recovery, I was actually staying with Viktor’s aunt for three weeks in January, and just when I got back, my husband fell ill, so I sent him up there and have just been recovering here from a similar cold. I’m sorry I haven’t been very social, I’m just worried about the baby getting sick.”
“Well, that’s reason to worry, but that doesn’t mean you should hermit yourself in this old house. The baby blues might get to you when you’re spending all this time alone!” Coming from personal experience of witnessing her sister completely disregard her oldest child, of course. Isabella had never known such an experience in her own life.
“I know, but Viktor and I will be attending the Cipaldi ball next week, so I’m working up courage bit by bit. He’s even promised me a new gown just to urge me out of the house.”
“That’s wonderful of him.” Mrs. Leroy beamed. “Things really have gotten better for you, haven’t they? My, just remembering how stiff you two acted towards each other just last year…” Ah, last year when her husband called the house at some ungodly hour, panic in his voice as he said, Isabella, I might not be home again, filled her heart with dread.
She had always felt fortunate to have missed Feltsman’s party, and after hearing Yuuri’s experience and treatment, it only strengthened her opinion. Honestly, she couldn’t blame Yuuri for wanting to avoid such parties in the future, but it wasn’t good for him to have such a lack of socialization.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as it’ll get. However… he’s been acting strangely as of late, and I believe we’re approaching the fifth anniversary of his war-injury, which he is very touchy about. He’s been looking through old papers, letters, newspapers even— about the Great War, and he’s often complaining of back pain and that he’d be better off sleeping someplace else. I fear it’s because of something I’ve done, but according to his aunts, he’s worried he’ll sleep talk or have a nightmare, as he does when thinking too much about things of the past.”
“Ah, that used to happen to my husband shortly after the war ended. And sometimes if he drinks too much, he’ll cry about something he did back then. But I didn’t serve in a war, so what do I know of his pain?” Mrs. Leroy tried to read Yuuri’s expression to figure out if this really was all that bothered him, but it was hard to decipher.
“I wish Viktor would open up to me more. I’m willing to listen…” Yuuri looked up abruptly, fearing Viktor would be the one to walk through the door. Fortunately, it’s just Lilia with their tea. “I enjoy your company, Mrs. Leroy, and I wish our husbands got along. I think we’d make very good friends.”
“I feel the same way, Yuuri.”
When Mrs. Leroy gives her report to the other women, they’re disappointed. Being housewives, they craved exciting gossip to get them through their repetitive and oftentimes unhappy days. So to have Yuuri’s story end up being that he was simply recovering from a cold and being overprotective of his child ruined that excitement for them.
That night, Yuuri watched his husband comb through his damp hair after an unusually long shower through the mirror in their bathroom. Viktor had been quiet all evening, but still smiled quite a bit when holding the baby.
But now the baby was asleep for the evening, and Yuuri wasn’t sure he liked the quiet between them.
Just before he spoke, Viktor beat him to it. “I’ll be taking another room tonight.”
“The baby won’t be as fussy tonight, I swear,” Yuuri smiled weakly, “does his crying bother you that much? Perhaps we should buy earplugs.”
“It’s not that. I just need to sleep downstairs.” Viktor wiped his face with a towel, eyes shifting downwards to avoid Yuuri’s.
Yuuri pinched his lips together. “Did I do something to upset you?”
“No, dearest heart, you could never—“
“Then come to bed with me.”
Viktor mumbled something under his breath, but soon slid under the sheets in hopes that his husband would soon fall asleep and leave him alone, but Yuuri trapped him by laying his head on his chest. “You are upset about something and I want you to tell me.”
“Love…” Viktor’s sigh held a trace of annoyance.
“Okay, don’t tell me, but please stop hiding every time you’re bothered. It makes me feel like you’re avoiding me.” Which was the honest-to-goodness truth, and Yuuri was tired of being avoided by the man he married.
“I’m not trying to avoid you, it’s just—“ Viktor started to say, then shut himself up. He started stroking Yuuri’s hair, but Yuuri could feel his heartbeat quickening.
“What is it that’s troubling you… you can tell me…”
“I was going to kill Mr. Feltsman, that night at the party.” Viktor blurted out.
Yuuri didn’t move. A moment of silence passed between them, both likely recalling that horrendous night that nearly ended their lives together. Yuuri thought it was all behind them. “And you did?”
“Someone beat me to it. I was planning on doing it later, after sending you out to the car, but then you got sick, and we found him outside.” He stared up at the ceiling, eyes filling with tears.
“Why would you want to do such a thing?”
“Because of what he did to me, to you, to others and maybe just spite. It wasn’t the first time, you know. I’ve killed people before.”
“You had to, Viktor, you were a soldier…”
“I didn’t have to kill anyone. But because I had nothing to lose out there, I took the riskiest positions and I shot everything and everyone in sight. I kept thinking, after, how they had families waiting for them somewhere back home… maybe wives and children, too, maybe they were children, and yet I was still able to shoot them without hesitation.”
“Why is it bothering you now, all these years later?” Yuuri did his best to steady his voice, though he hated when Viktor talked this way about himself. He knew it was best not to interject when his husband was ranting, it made him feel better to be listened to.
“I was sent a letter a few weeks back. Some men in my old battalion wanted to celebrate later on this year. For our heroes' work, it said. Well, they might’ve been heroes, but I wasn’t. And that got me thinking about Feltsman, about everyone else I’ve hurt, including you.”
“You didn’t hurt me like that —“
“I left you in misery for so long. I was such a terrible husband, and I’ll keep being terrible because I’m a terrible person. I can see that now.”
“Viktor, please don’t say such things about yourself. I don’t think you’re a terrible person.”
“You love me?”
“Of course I do, I always have.” Yuuri squeezed his hand. “I love you, and so does our son. You may have made mistakes in the past, but you can make up for them.”
“Hey,” Yuuri leaned up and started kissing his shoulder, “I didn’t have to marry you. I wanted to. I know you’re a good man, Viktor, and you were the right person for me, and to father my children… I just knew.”
“How could you tell?”
“You had this look to you, I don’t know. Even when I was nervous to get married again, when I looked at you, I felt reassured. Your eyes are so beautiful… and when I look at our baby, I see us, and I see a bright future ahead.”
“What if we don’t have a bright future ahead, Yuuri?”
Sighing, Yuuri hugged him close. “That’s alright, too. Just don’t push me away anymore. Let’s work this problem out together.”
“Only if you promise to start going outside again,” Viktor mumbled, pulling Yuuri to his chest, “you’re nearly paler than these sheets.”
Mrs. Klein was sitting on her front porch when she was graced with the sight of all three Nikiforovs leaving that creepy, old house, and further advantaged when realizing they aren’t driving anyplace, but instead opting for a walk down the lane. The weather is pleasant, which is why Mrs. Klein was outside in the first place.
She can’t get a good look at the little one, but he’s in a lovely, light blue stroller with its own sunshade. She almost envies the child. Yuuri’s also in a light colored sheer frock, the thin material underneath barely covering his knees. It is cute, but she wouldn’t be caught dead in such a thing without her husband nearby. Which, well… Yuuri had his, so…
Still, she’d have to tell the other ladies about this. Yuuri would never know this, but he was a trendsetter in the neighborhood as he often wore fashion that was only available to the richest of socialites, and now was exposing it to the lower classes.
“Good morning, Mrs. Klein,” Viktor Nikiforov called from the sidewalk, tipping his hat in respect. “How’s little Michael?”
“Good morning, Mr. Nikiforov, Yuuri. He’s doing wonderfully, and your son?”
Viktor nodded. “Fit as a fiddle, thank you. Good day!”
She watches as the young couple disappear down the street, how Yuuri wraps an arm around his husband and leans his head against Viktor’s shoulder.
How she wishes she knew love like that, for the only thing she knows is gossip.