Early July, Three Years Ago, Somewhere between Russia and Japan
“I love you.”
“Shut up. I love you too. I’m still mad.”
The handsome Japanese skater huffed a sigh of frustration as he turned in his seat. “Do you really want to have this conversation a mile in the air Victor?” The silver haired beauty in the chair beside him widened his eyes in an unfairly lovely pout. “No. No puppy eyes. I am not being swayed by puppy eyes this time Vitya.”
“I don’t understand why you’re so upset dorogoy! Don’t you want to see our friends?” Victor was genuinely perplexed at his new husband’s anger.
“Augh. Victor. We’re supposed to be partners, correct?”
“Hai!” Victor chirped, earning an eyeroll from his lover.
“So… when booking plane tickets from Russia to Japan with NO NOTICE, don’t you think that maybe you should have talked to me FIRST?” Yuuri fixed his adorable yet infuriating spouse with a thin-lipped glare.
“Yuuko asked us to be godfathers! We have to see our new godson Yuuri!” Victor was frantic in his attempt to wipe the disapproval from Yuuri’s face.
The raven-haired man closed his eyes, asking whatever deity was listening for patience. “Vitya, I love you. I do. More than anything. But your lack of self-control can be… frustrating. We just took time off for the wedding. Yuuko didn’t expect us to drop everything to visit this soon! She understands that we have practice, that this is an important year for us. The Grand Prix is only a few months away, the Olympics are only a few months after that! We can’t just drop everything and go globe-trotting!” The slender Russian recoiled, chastised. Blue eyes were downcast as he absorbed Yuuri’s words.
“I’m sorry. I… I’ve never had anyone want me to be a godfather. I… I just got excited when Takeshi messaged that the baby had arrived. I should have talked to you instead of booking a trip back to Hasetsu with no warning.”
The younger man closed his eyes, feeling a twinge of guilt wash over him at the bewildered pain in his beloved’s voice. “Let’s just get some sleep, okay Victor? You sprung for these ridiculous first-class seats, we might as well try to get some rest.” The Russian man hummed a tentative agreement, tentatively reaching out a hand to rest against his husband’s waist, sighing in relief when Yuuri didn't shrug him off. Unhappy but connected, they drifted into slumber.
Stepping off the plane a few hours later, Yuuri raised his arms in an exaggerated stretch. When he felt slightly more human, he absent-mindedly reached for his partner’s hand. Feeling a convulsive squeeze, he glanced inquisitively at the rumpled but stunning man by his side. “Vitya?”
“I… I thought you’d still be mad,” the Russian man admitted. Japan’s Ace quirked a smile.
“Oh. Well, I mean, I am. But Victor, I still love you.” The taller man’s shoulders seemed to suddenly collapse as he sighed in relief.
“I was scared you would block me out. That you’d leave me.”
Yuuri stopped and stared in surprise at the man he loved. “Victor. Why… why would you think that? I’m mad at you, but I would never shut you out! We’ll work through this and we’ll be stronger for it! That’s how this works, ok?” He shook his head, still amazed after all this time that someone so outwardly strong could have such crippling doubts when it came to letting himself be loved.
The taller man pulled his dark-haired lover closer, resting their foreheads together. “I’m sorry, I’m just… I’m still not used to having someone love me even when I’m not perfect. I know I made a mistake, but, please Yuuri, don’t leave me?” His voice cracked at the last phrase, evidence of deep seated pain.
Brown eyes blew wide with shock. “Vitya! Look at me! I am mad at you, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you. You are my husband. Thick and thin, right? That makes us family. Family doesn’t walk away. We might fight, we might struggle, but… Family. Doesn’t. Walk. Away. I promise you. No matter the struggle. No matter how rough things get. You are mine and I am yours. We will get through it. Ok?”
Sea-blue eyes shone fiercely, the fervent words salving a deep ache within his soul. “Ok.” He squared his shoulders and began moving forward. “Let’s go see our godson Yuuri.”
Yuuri nodded in agreement. “A new member of our family!” Beside him, Victor glowed at this confirmation of his place in Yuuri’s world. He raised their joined hands to his lips in a kiss, before groaning.
“Yuuuu-uuri. What on earth possessed them to name the poor boy Flip???”
Early July, Present Day, Ice Castle Hasetsu
“UNCLE YUURI!!” chorused a trio of identical pre-teen girls. He braced himself as the sisters slammed into him in a whirlwind of enthusiastic affection. Grinning, he winked over their heads at their laughing mother.
“It’s good to see you all! Where’s the man of the hour?”
“Yuuri, he’s not a man!” Chirped Lutz.
“Yeah, he’s still a baby!” Loop agreed.
Axel merely contented herself with angling her phone for a selfie of the group hug, humming happily as she added hashtags and a fancy border to her post.
“Yuuri!” Boomed a cheerful voice behind him. “It’s so good of you to make it out for the party! We weren't sure if you'd be able to take time off before your season started!”
Yuuri turned to greet the burly man and was taken by surprise when a sturdy, solemn eyed toddler was deposited into his arms. He propped the boy on his hip and smiled down at his godson. “Happy birthday Flip,” he crooned gently. The child placed a small hand in his mouth, wriggling shyly as he peeked up at the unfamiliar man holding him. A spark of recognition suddenly seemed to fill his eyes and he offered a small smile and a tentative “Unca Yuuri”.
The skater raised an eyebrow at Takeshi, knowing that it was unlikely for the boy to recall his face from his last stay in Hasetsu more than a year ago. The larger man laughed. “The girls show him your pictures and videos all the time. He knows his ‘Uncle Yuuri’!” The younger man blushed and buried his face happily in the boy’s sweet-smelling hair. Unfortunately, his cuddling had repercussions, as he had placed his tempting blue frames within reach of the toddler’s clever hands.
“Whoops!” Came a familiar voice, and boy and glasses alike were plucked from Yuuri’s grasp. “Sorry Yuuri,” Yuuko giggled, “Flip is in a grabby phase!” She offered his slightly smudged lenses back to him with a cheerful smile.
“You all look wonderful Yuuko-chan!” He leaned in the press a tentative kiss to his oldest friend’s cheek. “I can’t believe he’s three already!” Yuuko grinned up into his brown eyes, then sobered.
“Yuuri-chan, how are you? I worry, you know?” She gazed at him searchingly, careful not to voice her true questions.
“I’m fine Yuuko. I promise. Please, don’t worry about me. It’s Flip’s birthday, we should be opening presents and eating sweets that I will absolutely lie to Celestino about consuming!” He winked broadly at the still-youthful mother before turning towards the groaning refreshments table. She held her son close and stared pensively at her childhood chum. That flirty wink… He had picked up more of Victor’s habits than he realized. She shook her head, forcing herself into the present.
“Alright little man, time for gifts!” She crooned, smiling broadly at little Flip’s excited warble. “Everybody gather ‘round!” The crowd of family and close friends cheered and gathered close to the rinkside bench covered in a mound of brightly colored gifts. Her tiny boy wriggled in her grasp, reaching excited hands towards the beguiling ribbons. With a chuckle, her husband retrieved the toddler, allowing her to take charge of pulling cards off the gifts before the child eagerly shredded the shiny wrappings.
Flip burbled excitedly with each new gift, posing eagerly for his sisters as they brandished their phones towards him. Yuuko smiled happily at one card, before handing the soft package to the little boy. “This gift is from Flip’s godfather, Katsuki Yuuri,” she called off, before watching her son shred the wrapping. A blue and black packet of cloth fell to the floor and Yuuko clapped her hands to her face, eyes sparkling with tears as she recognized a tiny replica of the official JSF team jacket.
"Ohhhh, Yuuri! It’s adorable!” The famously shy Japanese Ace ducked his head, blushing, as Takeshi helped the little boy pull on the windbreaker.
“I just… I talked to one of my sponsors at Mizuno and they helped me with the request… I just… I thought he’d like it,” Yuuri stammered, desperate to get the eyes of the party guests back onto the guest of honor. Yuuko chuckled, familiar with her friend’s nervousness. She turned her eyes back to the dwindling stack of gifts, selecting a rectangular box. No card was attached, so she handed the gift to Flip, hoping that whoever had provided the present would identify themselves, so she could properly thank them. A flurry of golden wrapping paper filled the air and a lidded box was revealed. Takeshi helped his small son pry the top off and the guests cooed at the revelation of tiny ice skates, a perfect follow up to the previous gift.
Yuuko raised inquisitive eyes towards Yuuri, assuming the skates must be a second gift from the famous athlete. She was surprised to see him staring intently at the blades, brow furrowed in thought. He knelt carefully at his godson’s side, carefully pulling one of the tiny boots from its protective wrapping. His shadowed gaze briefly met Yuuko’s before he removed the guard from the shining blade. The shining golden blade. She raised a hand to cover her mouth, feeling as stunned as Yuuri looked. It seemed Flip’s other godfather had also sent a gift today.
Late that evening, Yuuri snuck down to the onsen, reveling in the late-night solitude and steaming, hot water. He allowed his mind to wander over not only the events of the day, but of the previous few years. Today’s party had farther solidified the path his thoughts had been traveling in the last few weeks. The flowers on their anniversary had made it clear that Victor hadn’t given up on him… and somewhere along the way he had decided not to give up on Victor either. Yuuri pulled himself out of the water, reaching for a towel and yukata before heading back to the small room that had once held so many images of his idol turned lover. He knew there was a lot of work ahead of him, ahead of them both, but then… broken relationships didn’t heal themselves. He and Victor were worth repairing, he knew that in his heart. They were each taking slow steps back into each other’s lives… perhaps it was time for him to take the next.
The solemn eyed man pulled out his phone, scrolling through the images the triplets had taken after commandeering it during the party. He pursed his lips, struggling to compose the text he wanted to send. Sighing, he deleted yet another attempt and once again contemplated the images. Finally, nodding to himself, he selected a different photo and attached it to the draft message. Mentally checking the time difference, he realized Victor was likely just finishing at the rink. He was torn, not sure if he hoped for or dreaded the possibility of an immediate response. Biting his lip, he pressed send and leaned back against the pillow, determined to ignore the phone. After a few minutes, his anxiety got the better of him and he snatched the device from his nightstand. Cinnamon colored eyes widened as the dancing dots appeared, indicating a message being composed on the other end. Huffing out a nervous breath, he waited.
The other end of the line, St. Petersburg
The tall, silver blond man groaned in pleasure as the hot water hit his aching muscles. Today’s practice sessions had been particularly brutal, with all three of his senior level competitors in top form. Young Alexei had finally landed his quad toe loop, Plisetsky had insisted on running his step sequences half a dozen times, and Mila had managed three absolutely perfect triple axels, all but guaranteeing her place in this year’s Grand Prix Final.
Shutting off the pounding water, he reached for a large towel, pausing when he heard his phone buzz from the bedroom. Ignoring it for a moment, he rubbed the rough material through his hair, then made his way towards the bed, tossing the towel to the side as he negligently flopped his bare, leanly muscular body onto the bed. Reaching for his phone, he quickly thumbed through his notifications, stilling when the latest text registered. An image. From Yuuri. Instagram wasn’t a fluke, apparently. He closed his eyes, swallowing convulsively. It was one thing for his long-absent husband to unblock him from a social media app. For him to reach out so directly…
Blinking tears from his eyes, he clicked into the text, gasping a choked breath when the image loaded. Yuuri, eyes sparkling, looking happier than he had seen him in years, carefully holding the tiny hands of a boy wearing a JSF jacket and golden blades as they both stood on the rink at Ice Castle Hasetsu. Victor pulled his fist to his mouth, the emotion surging through his soul too much to take. Yuuri had recognized his gift. More than recognized it… had acknowledged it. The Russian man hesitated before clicking to respond. Heart racing, he began to type.
Vitya: He’s gotten so big!
Victor held his breath, unsure if Yuuri’s communicativeness would extend to an actual conversation.
LifeandLove: He really has. He loved your gift.
The tall Russian felt tears prick his eyes and he suppressed the urge to jump wildly. Yuuri was talking to him! ‘Okay. Play it cool Nikiforov,’ he murmured as he typed.
Vitya: I’m so glad! You look good.
Victor groaned. Smooth.
Vitya: I mean, you look like you had fun!
LifeandLove: Thanks. It was good to visit.
LifeandLove: I’m sure Flip would have loved to see you in person.
LifeandLove: … We would all have loved seeing you in person.
Silver hair flew as Victor’s head snapped back in a moment of shocked joy. Was Yuuri saying what he thought he was saying?
Vitya: I wish I could have been there.
Vitya: But the Grand Prix series is soon…
Anxious sea-blue eyes watched the jumping dots, waiting. And waiting. Finally…
LifeandLove: I’ll see you there.