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Don't Cry, Solnyshko, For I Will Always Be At Your Side

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Viktor studied himself in the mirror. Soon, it was going to show. Soon, he wouldn’t be able to hide the truth from Yuuri anymore. He frowned at his reflection and leaned a little closer to inspect his eyes. Sure enough, they were turning a little yellow. He sighed softly and blinked a few times as if that would make the tint go away. Unsurprisingly, it didn't help.

Glancing back towards the bedroom where Yuuri still slept, he quickly shed his sleep shirt and inspected himself. He couldn't lie, he wasn't looking fantastic. He turned to the side and bit his lip, noting that what was once a thin but muscular build now looked a little emaciated. He poked sadly at his own ribs that were protruding and chewed a little harder than before on his bottom lip. It was a miracle that Yuuri hadn't noticed anything suspicious yet, he decided, despite the lengths he had gone to hide his appearance. Before he could cover up again, the bathroom door swung open and a semi-conscious Yuuri walked in. It took all of Viktor’s will power not to jump out of his skin.

“Morning,” Yuuri muttered, walking into the bathroom behind Viktor. He paused on his way to the shower. “Are you eating enough?”

“Ah,” Viktor turned and beamed at Yuuri. “I’m fine.”

Yuuri tilted his head to the side. “You’re looking a little… green, maybe? Are you sick?”

Viktor’s smile faded a little. “Yuuri…”

“Do you need to go to the doctor?” Yuuri walked forward and pressed a hand to Viktor’s forehead.

Viktor slowly took a step back and sighed. “No. I don’t need a doctor.”

Yuuri narrowed his eyes at Viktor. “If you’re sure… You’re not warm, but you really don’t look too good.”

“Just shoot me through the heart, Yuuri,” Viktor tried to joke to get the attention off of his condition.

“You know that’s not what I meant!” Yuuri rolled his eyes but smiled anyway. “We have to be at the rink in 45 minutes to meet Yura.”

Viktor nodded and gave Yuuri one more smile before heading out to get dressed for the day. Not yet. Yuuri didn’t need to know yet. Viktor could keep up the charade a little bit longer.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“What’s wrong with the old man?” Yuri skated over to Yuuri, who was standing on the side of the rink, leaning on the barrier.

A few years before, Yakov had announced his retirement and Yuri’s training has fallen to Viktor. Yuuri had joined once he retired from competing last year. At the moment, Yuuri was their only student, but they were considering taking on more as neither of them could seem to stay away from the ice.

“Nothing?” Yuuri said, watching Viktor glide over the ice.

“Don’t give me that bullshit, you have eyes,” Yuri crossed his arms. “You can’t tell me you’re not seeing what I’m seeing.”

Yuuri bit his lip. “He said he’s fine.”

“He looks like he’s about to pass out,” Yuri frowned, the look more concerned than his usual scowl. “Has he not been sleeping?”

Yuuri chewed on his lip, thinking about it. “He’s been sleeping a lot more recently, actually.”

Yuri sighed. “I don’t like it when dad keeps secrets from mom.”

Yuuri laughed quietly. Yuri had matured so much in the past five years. While on the outside he had sprung up in height, his body gaining muscle tone and definition, mentally he had grown as well. He no longer had problems accepting Viktor and Yuuri as the parental figures he had previously lacked and wasn’t shy about using the newfound comfort to make them smile. He knew that when he referred to them as such it lightened their moods considerably, even more so when he teasingly called Yuuri ‘mom’. The first time he had used it Yuuri had blushed and stuttered out an objection but quickly decided he didn’t mind the designation. He always had been more like his own mother than his father, blackout drunk antics aside.

They had been more than happy to sign the adoption papers he presented them with as a birthday gift for Yuuri’s 25th. He would never admit it, but Yuri had been so nervous that they would turn him down that he had cried when Yuuri’s eyes had widened and he had pulled Yuri into a hug that nearly squeezed the life out of him while simultaneously demanding a pen.

“I don’t like it either, but I’m sure he has a reason if he’s keeping it from me, right? I’ll just have to trust him like I always do,” Yuuri sent a small smile to Yuri.

Whatever Yuri’s response was going to be was cut off as Viktor suddenly gasped and clutched at his chest. He fell to his knees, his other hand clapping over his mouth as he coughed.

“Vitya?” Yuuri’s eyes widened as sped across the ice with Yuri on his heels. “What’s wrong?”

Viktor was panting harshly, the hand over his mouth latched on so tight that his fingers were digging into the skin of his cheeks, his other hand fisting into his shirt roughly. His eyes were wide as blood started to leak through his fingers and drip onto the ice.

“Jesus Christ, I’m calling an ambulance,” Yuri gasped and raced for the side of the rink.

“No,” Viktor gasped out hoarsely, reaching out after Yuri with the hand that had been over his face, but he immediately regretted it as Yuuri’s eyes widened, watching the blood run down his chin. Viktor’s body swayed a little with the movement, a sudden rush of dizziness coming over him. His vision blurred and the last thing he remembered was rocking forward into Yuuri’s strong arms.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“Yuuri Katsuki-Nikiforov?” A doctor called to Yuuri who had been tensely sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, kept calm only by Yuri’s reassuring presence next to him.

“Yes. That’s me,” Yuuri stood quickly and walked over to the doctor. “What happened to Vitya?”

The doctor eyed Yuri who had followed him over. “This may be a private conversation?”

“Yura is our son,” Yuuri waved his hand dismissively. “Tell me what happened to Vitya.”

The doctor hesitated and then nodded. “The episode you witnessed was due to a pulmonary embolism, as a result of the deep vein thrombosis we had previously diagnosed him with when we discovered the cancer.”

Yuuri gasped and he felt his knees go weak, Yuri’s arm coming around his shoulders to support him in an instant.

“What do you mean, cancer ?” Yuri growled out.

The doctor looked confused, glancing back at his chart as if he momentarily thought he had the wrong family. “The pancreatic cancer? We would like to recommend he stay in the hospital from now on.”

“Where is my husband?” Yuuri choked out. This wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. Viktor would have told him. He wouldn’t leave Yuuri to find out like this. There was a mistake. Viktor was sick, sure, but it wasn’t cancer. It was some bug, the flu, maybe.

“Mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov,” the doctor started, but Yuuri couldn’t hear him. His whole body was shaking. At first, there was a rushing in his ears, and then his senses tuned acutely to the sound of Yuri’s rumbling voice.

“Listen, you can tell us whatever later, just tell us where to find my dad, okay?” Yuri’s voice wasn’t calm or angry like Yuuri was used to hearing. Yuri sounded…terrified. He suddenly became aware that the hand on his shoulder was digging harshly into his skin and he turned to Yuri to see tears threatening to fall from his eyes. Yuuri’s brain clicked into calm. The last time he had heard Yuri like this was when the younger skater had fallen badly and sprained his ankle. At the moment of impact almost everyone had thought he had broken it. It had been the first time he had referred to Yuuri and Viktor as his dad and otousan, and it just continued from there (the teasing “mom” coming into play later).

At the time, Yuri had been crying as Viktor deftly scooped him off the ice and carried him towards a nearby bench. Once he was seated, and Yuuri was rushing to his side, Yuri had grasped at Viktor’s shirt. Not letting him pull away, Yuri had begged. Dad, don’t leave me, I’m scared. Dad, it hurts. Viktor’s eyes had widened, and he had gently wrapped Yuri in his arms and cooed to him softly, Hush now, Yurochka, I’m not leaving you. We need to get you to the doctor, but Yuuri’s Russian isn’t good enough. I have to call the ambulance. Hold on to Yuuri, alright? He’ll hug you. He’s your dad, too, right? And to Yuuri’s amazement, Yuri had nodded and leaned into him, sobbing and clinging to him. Yuuri had known he needed to be strong for Yuri then, just as he needed to be now.

“Yura,” Yuuri spoke softly, placing a hand over the one on his shoulder. “Take a deep breath.”

Green eyes shot to brown ones, and he took a slow, shaky breath. “I’m okay, otousan,” Yuri smiled weakly. Yuuri forced a smile in return.

Yuuri turned back to the doctor. “What room do we go to?”

After getting a room number, it took all of their self-restraint not to run to Viktor’s side. Once there, Yuuri rushed to the bed, as Yuri hung back. “Vitya… God, Vitya…”

Viktor smiled from the bed, reaching out and gently patting Yuuri’s head where it had fallen next to Viktor. “Hello, solnyshko.”

“I think you need to start talking, dad,” Yuri said quietly when he saw that Yuuri wasn’t going to start the conversation.

“What-” Viktor started, but Yuri cut him off.

“Look at otousan,” Yuri nodded to Yuuri, whose shoulders had started to shake with the tears he was hiding in Viktor’s sheets. “Does that look like someone who didn’t just have a bomb dropped on him?”

Viktor’s smile faded. “What were you told?”

“Pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, cancer,” Yuri whispered the last word.

Viktor took a shaky breath. “I… I didn’t know how to tell you.”

“Words would have worked,” Yuri snapped, stepping forward to place a hand on Yuuri’s back.

Viktor sighed. “I have stage 4 pancreatic cancer. They only found it a few months ago and... “ Viktor drifted off and looked out the window, smiling bitterly. “I’ve already passed my expiration date. I thought, maybe if I ignored everything it wouldn’t be true; it wouldn’t come. Even the doctors said they were amazed I was holding up as well as I was.”

“Vitya,” Yuuri whimpered and nuzzled his face into Viktor’s side. “We promised to share our lives, in sickness and in health, remember?”

“Ah,” Viktor ran his fingers through Yuuri’s hair. “I didn’t want our beautiful dream to end so soon, my love. How do you tell someone who is your very soul that you are dying?”

“With trust,” Yuuri whispered.

Viktor’s fingers stopped moving, and he let his hand drop back to the bed. This had been why he hesitated to say anything. He hated that he was the reason that Yuuri suffered. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, and I’m sorry that I’m going to be leaving you. Both of you.”

“Isn’t there anything that can be done?” Yuri asked.

“They found it too late. Even if I were to go through treatment, there is a very low chance of success and… I decided that I would rather live the rest of my life as I always had.”

“Without consulting us. God damn it, we are your family , doesn’t that count for anything?” Yuri growled out, and Yuuri lifted himself to pull Yuri into a tight hug.

“Yura, your anger won’t help. I understand, but please, please, don’t fight. Not now, I can’t,” Yuuri choked out and after a moment, Yuri wrapped his arms around the brunette and held him close.

“I’m sorry, otousan,” he whispered and rested his chin on Yuuri’s head. He was so tall now, taller than even Viktor, that sometimes Yuuri seemed so small to him. Right now, he seemed even smaller than usual. “How long have you known?” he asked, turning his eyes back to Viktor.

“Four months,” Viktor watched the two most important people in his life clinging to each other. “I’ve barely processed it myself.”

“The doctor said that he thought you should stay here from now on,” Yuuri muttered into Yuri’s chest.

“I know. He said the same to me. I suppose he told you because I refused,” Viktor shrugged.

“Why?” Yuri asked.

“Because if I die, I want to die in the only home that has ever mattered to me,” Viktor smiled sadly.

“I’ll stay here with you,” Yuuri replied softly. “Maybe being here the doctors can…” He made a loose motion with his hands.

“What do we do about the team?” Yuri asked, suddenly. “I can practice my routines on my own, that’s no problem, but everyone will definitely notice when both of you aren’t there.”

“I don’t think you can hide this anymore, Vitya,” Yuuri levelled Viktor with a no-nonsense stare. “Let not only Yura and I, but everyone who loves you support you.”

Viktor’s eyes filled with tears, even as he nodded his consent. “Tell them.”

 

``~`**`~``

 

Yuuri sat quietly in the stark white room. Why were these rooms always white? White was such a sterile, bland color. It didn’t suit Viktor at all. Viktor was everything that was bright and bubbly and sunshine, not this sterile white room. Yuuri slowly buried his hands into his hair.

“It’s too soon,” Yuuri whispered into his knees. “Too soon. You stay with me.”

“Yuuri?” There was a soft voice from the door and Yuuri’s head shot up to see Yuri, Georgi and Mila in the doorway. It was Mila who had called out to him.

“Hey,” Yuuri quickly swiped at his face to try and hide any sign of his tears. Right now he had to be strong. Viktor needed him to be the strong one.

“How is he?” Mila asked, cautiously walking into the room like she might shatter Yuuri if she moved too fast.

“He’s, uh…” Yuuri paused to take a deep breath. “He’s not great.”

“Oh, Yuuri,” Mila looked like she was about to cry herself and it was too much for Yuuri. His shoulders shook and the tears he had been forcing down started to flow freely.

“I’m sorry,” Yuuri gasped out, trying to reign in the tears.

Before anyone else could react, Yuuri was enveloped in strong arms. “Shut up, otousan,” Yuri said quietly, hugging Yuuri to him. “You have every right to cry.”

Yuuri buried his face into Yuri’s shoulder. “Why didn’t he tell anyone? Why didn’t he tell me ?” Yuuri sobbed.

“I wouldn’t put it past him to have forgotten,” Yuri said, squeezing Yuuri tighter when he let out a hoarse laugh.

Viktor had been in the hospital for over a week now. Yuuri had sat constant vigil next to the hospital bed, only dozing off when someone else came to visit. Yuri was there more often than not. Viktor was only getting worse, spending more and more time asleep, as he was now. This conversation wasn’t new, everytime Yuri caught him cracking it would happen.

“It’s too soon. We…we were talking about adopting,” Yuuri whispered.

“One kid not enough for you?” Yuri leaned back and looked quizzically down at Yuuri, keeping one arm around the shorter man’s shoulders.

“Ah, you’re grown up now, Yura,” Yuuri coughed a little.

“So you’re just going to give away my bedroom? I’m offended, Mom,” Yuri gently teased Yuuri.

“Yura,” Yuuri whispered and for a second, Yuri thought he had said the wrong thing, but Yuuri looked at him with watery eyes. “When we go back home, will you move back in?”

“Of course,” Yuri said without hesitation. He had moved out of Yuuri and Viktor’s house when he had turned 19, but now he couldn’t imagine leaving Yuuri alone in that house.

“Thank you,” Yuuri whispered.

“Yuuri,” Mila stepped forward and gently placed a hand on his arm. “What can we do?”

Yuuri coughed, as if he had forgotten that he and Yuri weren’t alone. “I-I’m fine.”

“Don’t do that, otousan,” Yuri shook him gently. “Tell us what you need.”

“Ah, um, can you guys sneak in some food? Viktor was asking for katsudon last time he was awake, but obviously we can’t get it here,” Yuuri blushed.

“Pirozhki?” Yuri asked. “I can make those. I can’t make the regular one like you do.”

Yuuri nodded. “That’s fine. It will be a little easier to sneak in, too.”

“Done, you’ll have them next time I come,” Yuri nodded. His eyes swept over the sleeping form of Viktor, the only signs of life being the beeping of the various machines connected to him. “When was the last time he was awake?”

“Um, yesterday,” Yuuri glanced back at Viktor. “I think… I think it’s coming.”

“We have a board game,” Georgi offered. He had been quiet up until now, his usual sweeping statements of love seeming callous given the situation.

Mila nodded. “We thought that maybe you’d like some distraction, but if you want to sleep we’ll sit with Viktor. You look tired.”

Yuuri smiled gratefully. “Can you guys watch him while I get a little sleep? We can play after if you guys are up for it.”

“Of course. We’re here for you, Yuuri,” Georgi reached out and patted his shoulder.

Yuuri gave them another small smile and he turned and climbed carefully into the hospital bed with Viktor, mindful not to jostle the older man as he curled up on his side. He blushed. “T-this is the only place I can lay down,” he stuttered out. “Besides, there’s not enough chairs.”

“You don’t have to explain yourself,” Mila assured him and they settled down to keep watch while Yuuri slept.

 

``~`**`~``

 

Yuuri stirred to soft voices, he groaned slightly and stretched out his legs, forgetting where he was for a second. “Good morning, Solnyshko,” a soft voice called to him.

Yuuri’s head jerked up. “Why didn’t you wake me?” He demanded, staring into Viktor’s eyes that had dulled significantly. His skin was tinted yellow, as were his eyes, but he smiled at Yuuri despite it all.

“You were sleeping so soundly, I wanted you to get your rest,” Viktor weakly applied pressure with the hand he had draped around Yuuri. “I know you haven’t left my side, but you’re allowed to take care of yourself, too.”

Yuuri rubbed his eyes and took his glasses that Georgi held out to him. He wanted to object, but even in the state he was in, Viktor was giving him the look that said there was no room for argument. Instead, Yuuri nodded his head before looking around. “Where’s Yura?”

“He went to get what you asked for,” Mila smiled. “He should be back soon.”

Yuuri smiled. “I should have known he would leave as soon as I fell asleep once I said I wanted something.”

“What is he getting?” Viktor asked curiously.

“It’s a surprise,” Yuuri reached up and planted a gentle kiss to Viktor’s cheek, trying not to notice how much sharper his cheekbone felt.

“Hmm,” Viktor hummed softly and nodded. “If you say so.”

“I do,” Yuuri smiled. “You’ll like it, I promise.”

As if on cue, Yuri walked in. “Oh, good. You’re awake. Both of you.”

“Hey, Yura,” Viktor smiled. “I hear you have a surprise for me.”

“Da,” Yuri nodded. “I heard you have a craving.”

Viktor’s eyes lit up. “Katsudon?”

Yuuri laughed. “Close.”

Yuri tossed the bag onto the bed, gracefully arcing it to hit Yuuri in the chest. “As promised.”

“Yura made pirozhki for us,” Yuuri opened the bag and held one out to Viktor who took a tiny bite.

He groaned happily. “Tastes like home.”

Once the pirozhki were distributed, the group munched and played the board game that the others had brought. If not for their surroundings, it was almost possible to forget what was going on for a few blissful hours. Finally though, Yuri, Mila and Georgi had to leave, but only after promising to come visit again.

Yuuri smiled up at Viktor. In the end, he had never ended up moving from his spot curled against the older man. “It was good to see them.”

Viktor nodded in response, his eyes drooping. “I wish I could see Yura skate.”

Yuuri’s eyes filled with tears, but he blinked them back. “The qualifiers are coming up soon.”

Viktor bit his lip. “How is he supposed to compete without his coaches?”

“Yakov came out of retirement for him while we are here,” Yuuri said quietly. “He came to see you, too, but you were sleeping.”

Viktor’s eyes widened a little and it looked like he was trying to shake off the tiredness. “Next time, please wake me.”

Yuuri nodded hesitantly. “Alright.”

“Yuuri,” Viktor looked down at him. “If I’m… If I’m still here, I want to go to the qualifier.”

Yuuri opened his mouth to object, but then closed it. Yuri’s second qualifier was in Russia this year. “The second one. Then you don’t have to go as far and we’ll still be in Russia.”

Viktor nodded. “Promise?”

Yuuri crossed his heart. “Even if I have to break you out.”

Viktor smiled sleepily. “You’re too good to me, solnyshko.”

“Sleep, Vitya,” Yuuri whispered and curled back into Viktor’s side. Sometimes everything was too much, but other times, Yuuri felt strong enough to carry the weight of everyone’s pain. Even his own. Right now, he felt strong enough.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“Yuuri!” Phichit’s head popped into the room, followed by Chris’.

“Ah,” Viktor pushed himself up weakly and coughed. “Yuuri’s in the bathroom.”

“Mon cher,” Chris walked over to the bed and took Viktor’s hand. “I can’t believe this happened.”

Viktor smiled weakly. “Me either, most days. Tell me honestly, how bad do I look?”

“You’re in a hospital, mon cher,” Chris said gently.

“Ah, I know, but Yuuri insists I’m just as beautiful as ever but no one will give me a mirror,” Viktor laughed, weakly. Today hadn’t been a good day for him, but he was determined to stay awake to see his friends.

“You are,” Yuuri’s voice called from the bathroom door. “You’re gorgeous.”

“Yuuri,” Phichit turned to him and embraced his friend. “It’s been too long.”

“Yeah,” Yuuri smiled.

“I agree,” Chris said. “To both. You look fantastic, all things considered and it has been too long.”

Viktor rolled his eyes and flopped back onto the pillows. “I bet I look like death.”

“Death has never looked better,” Chris replied smoothly.

Yuuri coughed, torn between laughing at the ridiculousness and crying at how close to home it hit. It was Phichit who smoothly moved the conversation on. “I hope you don’t mind, but Yurio gave us keys to your place for our stay.”

“I told him to,” Yuuri smiled.

“Yuuri, can I talk to you?” Phichit took hold of Yuuri’s arm and all but dragged him out of the room.

“What is it?” Yuuri looked anxiously at the door.

“You look like hell,” Phichit crossed his arms. “When was the last time you slept properly or ate something that wasn’t hospital food?”

“I sleep for a few hours when someone comes to visit usually, and Yura brings me food,” Yuuri blinked.

“I get it. You’re lost, it hurts to see Viktor like that, but you have to take care of yourself, too. You know I’m only saying this because I love you,” Phichit held onto his hands.

“I can’t… I can’t leave him…. What if… What if,” Yuuri can’t bring himself to say it.

“Listen, Yuuri, do you think he wants to see you wasting away sitting next to his hospital bed?” Phichit asked gently.

“No,” Yuuri chewed on his lip. “I know he doesn’t.”

“I have a thought. Get out of that room. Come grab a bite to eat with me, Chris will stay with Viktor. He’ll call us the second anything happens,” Phichit urged.

“I…” Yuuri stared at the ground.

“Go. Viktor says if you don’t go he’ll pull off his monitors and terrify all the nurses into thinking he died,” Chris poked his head out of the room. “You guys aren’t quiet, by the way.”

Yuuri leaned into the room and stared at Viktor who arched his eyebrow challengingly. “I might be stuck here, but that doesn’t mean you are, solnyshko.”

“But... “ Yuuri’s objections died on his lips as Viktor raised his hand to rip the heart monitor off. “Okay! Fine! I’ll go, but only for a little bit. A short trip.”

“Good,” Viktor coughed. “And when you come back I’ll let you fuss over me.”

Yuuri smiled gently. “You better.”

Viktor nodded and then Phichit lead Yuuri out of the hospital. They ended up in a small cafe nearby.

“So, tell me everything. We only have the basics,” Phichit held Yuuri’s hand across the table as they waited for their food to come.

“He’s not... He’s living on borrowed time,” Yuuri whispered. “By all accounts, he should have died already. I keep thinking… Maybe one day I’ll wake up and he’ll be fine.”

Phichit nodded. “Yuuri, have you… Planned?”

Yuuri froze for a second but then he nodded. “Yes, I’ve made all of the arrangements.”

Phichit breathed out a sigh. “This is a lot for you to do on your own.”

Yuuri squeezed his eyes shut, pushing back on his emotions, trying to keep them from overflowing in public. “Yura has helped me a lot.”

Phichit nodded. “He really has grown up.”

Yuuri took a deep breath and opened his eyes again. “Yes, he has.”

Phichit gave Yuuri a smile, though it wasn’t as bright as his usual ones. “You’re not alone, you have Yurio and me and Chris and everyone else who loves you.”

Yuuri nodded. “Most days I know that, but then sometimes I feel so alone.”

Phichit squeezed his hand. “Chris and I agreed already that we are just going to stay until you kick us out.”

Yuuri smiled weakly. “Thanks, Phich.”

“Anything for you,” Phichit grinned.

 

``~`**`~``

 

Yuuri sat, curled up with Viktor on the bed, singing softly to the older man. Yuuri had been singing more recently, Viktor claiming he felt better when he heard Yuuri’s voice. He had sung every song he knew over and over until, out of desperation, he had made Yuri bring him his old iPod and started singing along to the songs on there.

Viktor sighed contently and nuzzled into Yuuri’s side, his eyes beginning to slide shut. Yuuri ran his fingers through his silver hair. Once he was sure that Viktor was asleep, he leaned back and watched him sleep.

“You can’t leave me,” Yuuri whispered. “Beat all the odds, get better. I don’t know how I’m going to survive without you.”

Yuuri curled into himself and started to cry in earnest, knowing that no one would come and see him any time soon. Today, it was too much. Viktor’s condition had been steadily declining. While usually he still smiled at Yuuri like he used to, occasionally his eyes seemed to cloud over and he would cry and confess how terrified he was. Today had been a very bad day for Viktor and by proxy it had been a bad day for Yuuri.

Yuuri eventually cried himself to sleep next to Viktor that night.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“I promised I'd take him,” Yuuri looked determinedly into the face of the doctor.

“Mr.Katsuki-Nikiforov, I will be completely honest with you, I'm giving him 72 hours. Your husband is in rapid decline. I don't think he should go anywhere,” the doctor frowned.

Yuuri bit his lip. “You gave him three and a half months in the first place. It's been five.”

The doctor looked at him sadly. “It's always an estimate, but what I'm trying to tell you is he has days, Mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov.”

“Then let him die where he’ll be happiest,” Yuuri whispered. “At my side, near a rink with our son on the ice.”

The doctor hesitated, but then nodded. “Fine, but you must keep his fluids bag hooked up. Do you know how to do that?”

Yuuri nodded. “I've seen it done enough times.”

“You have my endorsement to take him, Mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov,” the doctor said.

 

``~`**`~``

 

The wheelchair was rolled up to the side of the bed and Viktor looked at it like it was the best thing he’d ever seen. “Am I going somewhere?”

“I promised to take you to Yura’s qualifier, didn't I?” Yuuri smiled and then teased. “Did you forget?”

Viktor’s face lit up. “I didn't think they would let me go.”

“Yeah, well, I can be pretty convincing when I want to be,” Yuuri sent him a wink and helped Viktor lift himself up and out of the bed and into the chair. Yuuri ignored the fact that he had to practically do all of the work as Viktor's once powerful legs had become frail with the way his body was unable to take in substantial nutrition.

“Yuuri, after the qualifiers, can we go home instead of coming back here?” Viktor asked quietly.

Yuuri paused, standing behind Viktor, the doctor’s words echoing through his head. 72 hours. “Sure, Vitya,” he whispered.

The trip to Moscow was relatively uneventful, Viktor slept through most of it and anytime he needed to be moved, Yuuri would carry him. Yuuri had never had trouble lifting Viktor, but now he was so light it was almost like he wasn't there. He tried not to think about strong arms around him, lifting him into the air, making him giggle. Viktor had always loved holding Yuuri and no matter how much Yuuri complained, he would find himself being carried bridal style around the house. How Yuuri longed for that feeling now.

A finger prodded him in the side and Yuuri jumped. “What are you thinking about, solnyshko?” Viktor asked softly.

“Nothing,” Yuuri replied shakily and offered Viktor a small smile.

“You looked you were about to cry,” Viktor replied. “It’s my fault, huh? You can tell me anyway. It's okay.”

Yuuri’s eyes filled with tears and he leaned over, resting his head on a bony shoulder in the back of the cab taking them to the hotel. “I was just thinking I miss you carrying me around like a baby all the time,” Yuuri whispered.

“Ah,” Viktor rested his head against Yuuri’s. “I'm sorry.”

Yuuri hummed. “It's not your fault.”

Viktor remained silent for a little while and then his voice came out small. “Maybe it is. Maybe they could have found it sooner if I was more diligent about doctors appointments.”

Yuuri jerked back like the words burned him. “Don't you dare. This is nobody's fault, Vitya.”

“I know that, it's just sometimes I can't help but blame myself,” Viktor sighed as the cab pulled up in front of the hotel. Yuuri planted a kiss on Viktor's cheek and then set up the wheelchair and got him in it.

Once they were in the lobby, they were almost immediately swarmed by reporters. “Shit,” Yuuri muttered and Viktor was honestly surprised to hear the word from his mouth. Yuuri steeled himself and stood in front of the chair, blocking Viktor from prying eyes and cameras. “If you don't move and leave us alone, I’ll ruin you,” he said, his tone low and dark.

Before the reporters could respond one of them was roughly shoved to the side by a clearly angered Yuri. “Get away from my dads,” he growled out. And suddenly, Yuri, Mila, Georgi, Otabek, Phichit, Chris and, surprisingly, Minami surrounded them, blocking any access to them.

“Move,” Yuri growled and the reporters standing in front of them wisely shifted out of the way.

“Thank you,” Yuuri whispered. He mentally kicked himself for having forgotten about the media.

“No problem, otousan. We’ve arranged shifts so you guys will have at least one guard at all times to keep those bloodthirsty hounds off of you,” Yuri flashed them a smile as the whole group escorted them to their room.

“I suppose I can’t hope that my picture won't be all over the news tomorrow,” Viktor joked weakly.

“Vitya,” a gruff voice called from behind them.

“Yakov,” Viktor whispered, not needed to expend the effort to crane his body.

“Vitya,” Yakov walked through the crowd of skaters and fell to his knees in front of the wheelchair. “You stupid boy. You're supposed to outlive me.”

Viktor’s shoulders shook as he watched Yakov cry. He reached out and Yakov caught his hands and pulled Viktor into a hug. “I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry,” Viktor whispered over and over into the embrace.

The two of them stayed like that for a while before Yakov pulled back and took a deep breath. “Your student is in excellent form,” he said as if trying to hide the fact that he had just been crying.

“Thank you for looking after Yura for us, Mr. Feltsman,” Yuuri said quietly.

“Katsuki,” Yakov turned to him and for a second, he was certain the old man was going to give him a lecture for something but then he pulled a frozen stiff Yuuri into a hug. “I can't imagine what you're going through,” Yakov said softly.

“Katsuki-Nikiforov,” Yuri corrected. “Get it right, grandpa.”

“Yura,” Yuuri chided softly. “Mr. Feltsman can call me what he wants.”

“Sorry,” Yuri huffed.

“Grandpa,” Viktor muttered.

“What?” Yuuri pulled back from Yakov’s embrace and looked at his husband.

Viktor’s eyes were glassy, and it was clear that he wasn’t all there right now. “That’s how I hoped you would see him….”

“I- I was just kid-” Yuri started to sputter, but Yuuri held up a finger to silence him.

“Yura, help me with Vitya, please. Can everyone else give us a little bit of time?” Yuuri glanced around at the group of friends who nodded immediately. He paused as he pushed Viktor into the hotel room. “Mr. Feltsman, would you mind staying as well? I’m sure Vitya will want to see you more.”

Yakov nodded and followed the trio into the room. Once Yuuri had lifted Viktor into the bed and Yuri had helped him set up the IV bag, Yuuri went to move away but Viktor grasped weakly at his sleeve. “Yuuri… I love you, but I think it’s almost time. I don’t want to leave you,” he whispered.

“Hush,” Yuuri said softly, cupping the side of Viktor’s face in his hand. “It’s alright.”

“Don’t leave, okay?” Viktor whimpered.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m just going to be on the other bed, talking to Yura and Mr. Feltsman. I promise I’ll be here with you. Go to sleep, Vitya,” Yuuri spoke soothingly, gently running his thumb over the sharply protruding cheekbone. Viktor nodded and closed his eyes. Once he was sure that Viktor was asleep, Yuuri stood straight and walked over to where Yakov and Yuri stood, motioning to the bathroom.

The three of them crowded into the spacious bathroom and Yuuri leaned against the sink. “Yura, those were your dad’s true feelings. That’s why I stopped you. He was slipping towards unconscious and these days, when that happens he is the most truthful. Mr. Feltsman is like a father to him just like we are for you.”

Yuri blushed a little. “I… I always kind of knew that, even if he didn’t say it.” Yakov nodded his agreement.

Yuuri nodded and turned on the water, splashing his face with cool water before he spoke again. “That being said, is why I wanted both of you here.”

“Why, what’s happening?” Yakov spoke up.

Yuuri took a deep breath. “When I got permission from the doctor to bring Vitya here, he told me that... “ Yuuri trailed off and bit harshly on his bottom lip. Yuri stepped forward and placed a hand on Yuuri’s shoulder. “It is unlikely that Vitya will make it home.”

“What?” Yuri gasped out.

“I’m sorry, Yura,” Yuuri whispered. “I don’t want to distract you, but he wanted to see you skate one last time and I couldn’t tell him no and…”

“It’s okay, otousan,” Yuri spoke softly and wrapped his arms around Yuuri.

“What was the time frame you were given?” Yakov asked, his voice uncharacteristically soft.

“The doctor estimated 72 hours,” Yuuri said. Yuri’s arms tightened around him and Yakov nodded mutely. “I just wanted… I just thought the family should know.”

“We’re in this together,” Yuri agreed.

Chapter Text

Viktor sat, watching Yuri skate his free program, a small smile tugging at his lips. He was so tired, but seeing this was worth the effort to stay awake. This was truly the best program Yuri had ever done. They had been in Moscow for three days now and there was a constant stream of friends standing nearby at all times, keeping curious eyes from looking too closely. Viktor couldn’t have been more grateful.

Still listed as his coaches, Yuuri and Viktor had been allowed rinkside, though no one doubted that they would have been let there anyway. After the program, Yuri paused by them before heading to the kiss and cry with Yakov. First he wrapped Yuuri in a tight hug and then leaned down and kissed Viktor’s cheek and whispered. “I skated for you, dad.”

Vitkor’s eyes filled with tears and Yuri pulled back and went off with Yakov. The score was announced, easily breaking the previous world record. Viktor took a shuddering gasp of breath and reached out, grabbing Yuuri’s hand.

“Yuuri, Yuuri, we have to leave. Now,” Viktor gasped out.

“Vitya?” Yuuri glanced at him curiously as Viktor trembled.

“Now, to the room,” Viktor whispered. He felt like he was grasping at tendrils. He was so, so tired.

Yuuri obeyed, rolling Viktor towards the elevator, pausing only to call to Chris who was nearby. “Ambulance,” he said in a low voice when the blonde leaned in to hear the whisper. Chris nodded and pulled out his phone as Yuuri rolled Viktor away.

Once in the room, Yuuri lifted Viktor out of the chair and put him in the bed. “What do you need?” He asked frantically.

Viktor reached for him. “You, I need you.”

Yuuri fell forward, leaning into Viktor’s weak embrace. “What’s happening, Vitya? Talk to me.”

“It’s time, Yuuri,” Viktor whispered. “I can feel it.”

Yuuri looked up at him, panic written all over his face, tears streaming freely from his eyes. “No, it’s too soon,” he sobbed out.

“It will always be too soon,” Viktor said hoarsely. “You’ll tell Yura how proud of him I am, won’t you?”

“Tell him yourself. Don’t leave me,” Yuuri whimpered and clutched Viktor’s shirt tightly in a fist.

“I love you, Yuuri, always, always love you,” Viktor took a slow, labored breath. “Now and in the next life.”

Yuuri’s whole body was shaking with the intensity of his sobs. “I love you too, Vitya. Stay with me, please, please. I need you.”

Viktor’s fingers shakily wiped at Yuuri’s cheeks. “Don’t cry, solnyshko, for I will always be at your side.”

“Please,” Yuuri gasped out and as he watched, the light left Viktor’s eyes. “No, no, no.” Yuuri gasped and cried and wrapped himself around Viktor’s body like an octopus, desperate for the warmth that was Viktor.

He didn’t know how long he stayed there, screaming and crying, but suddenly strong arms were pulling him away. He clawed at them, trying to get back to Viktor, but the arms kept pulling.

“No!! Vitya!” Yuuri screamed and then he realized that he was being rocked. He blinked several times and turned to see Yuri clinging on to him.

“Otousan… Dad… Is dad…?” Yuri was crying too, holding Yuuri tightly, rocking them both.

Yuuri turned into him and let his tears soak into Yuri’s chest, and then there were more arms coming around both of them, Chris’ voice telling them that the paramedics had to take Viktor’s body. Phichit’s soft voice cooing gentle words that the rushing in Yuuri’s ears wouldn’t let him discern. Yakov’s rumbling voice laced with tears as he watched the closest thing he had to a son lay motionless. Soft crying from others, Yuuri was sure that everyone was there, watching his pathetic display, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He just cried and cried as Yuri swayed them back and forth, crying with him.

Part of him told him he had to be strong for Yuri now. He was supposed to be the parent. He was supposed to stand tall and comfort the boy who looked to him as a father, but here he was, sitting on the floor entirely enveloped by Yuri’s arms and legs letting himself be taken care of. Another part of him told him it was fine. He was allowed this. After all, Yuuri had just lost the very beat of his heart, he was permitted this. Later, he would be strong and look forward and take care of Yuri like Yuri was taking care of him now.

After what could have been seconds or hours, Yuuri couldn't tell, his tears ran out and he just heaved dry sobs into Yuri’s chest. Yuri was still clutching to him, but Yuuri was beginning to register that it was probably more for himself than it was for Yuuri. Slowly, he breathed in and reached out, wrapping his arms around Yuri.

“Yura,” Yuuri whispered.

Yuri’s face was scrunched up and tears were falling from his eyes. He wasn't wailing like Yuuri had been doing, but aborted half sobs kept escaping from his throat. Once he registered that Yuuri had calmed down enough he let out a small whimper and buried his face into Yuuri’s shoulder.

They remained like that for a long time, Yuri’s long limbs keeping Yuuri squeezed tight to him, face buried into his shoulder, occasionally letting out small sounds of anguish. Yuuri’s own arms looped around Yuri’s head, and slowly, Yuuri realized that the dynamic of the room had changed.

At some point, Viktor’s body had been moved. Phichit was sitting on the other bed, watching over the two of them on the floor and Yakov was sitting next to him, his head in his hands. Everyone else had left them alone. Yuuri felt a little guilty that he hadn’t even taken the time to see who had come in.

“Yura,” Yuuri whispered out again, trying to control the shake in his voice. “Vitya asked me to tell you how proud of you he was.”

Yuri cried out, the first unrestrained sound he had made and pressed his face harder into Yuuri’s shoulder. “I’ll never forgive him for leaving us,” he whispered, his voice muffled.

Yuuri hushed him and gently stroked his hair. “He wouldn’t have left us if he could help it,” Yuuri spoke, even as he felt a curious calm, numbness sweep over him.

Yuri’s arms tightened around Yuuri more. “You won’t leave me, too, will you, otousan? Everyone leaves me,” Yuri’s voice sounded impossibly small, like he wasn’t a strong man of twenty who had just broken world records in figure skating. Everyone left him. His parents, his grandpa and now Viktor.

“I won’t leave you, Yura,” Yuuri returned the squeeze. “We have each other, and you have Otabek.”

Yuri nodded. “Where is Beka?”

Yuuri shot a glance to Phichit who stood quickly and stepped out into the hall for a minute before returning with the other skater. “Yura,” Otabek called softly, running his hand down Yuri’s back.

Yuri lolled his body to the side, leaning into Otabek’s reassuring presence. Carefully, Yuuri disentangled himself from Yuri and walked over to Phichit. “Where…” he started, but he couldn’t finish the sentence.

“The paramedics took him,” Phichit’s eyes were filled with sadness. “Chris went with them.”

Yuuri nodded. “Phichit, I need a drink.”

“Alone, with me or with everyone?” Phichit asked without hesitation.

“Everyone,” Yuuri muttered.

Phichit nodded and pulled out his phone. They had a group text the group had set up for guarding Yuuri and Viktor from the press, so he opened that and sent out the message that they were all going to a bar. Everyone immediately agreed to go.

 

``~`**`~``

 

Going home was difficult. It was like Viktor was whispering to Yuuri from every corner of the house, there but just out of reach. If not for the persistent numbness in his mind, Yuuri was sure that he would have broken down. It was only worse when Makkachin bounded up to greet them, only to look curiously behind the small group, looking for Viktor. She let out a soft whine when he didn’t appear.

Yuuri sunk to his knees and wrapped his fingers into her soft fur. “He’s not coming, Makka,” he said softly. “Viktor isn’t coming home anymore.”

Makkachin nuzzled him and gave a soft lick to his cheek, even as she whined again, almost as if she understood.

Phichit reached out and gently touched Yuuri’s back. “We’ve been sharing the spare. That’s fine to continue, right?”

Yuuri nodded, reluctantly pulling back from Makkachin. “That’s fine. Not, Yura’s room, right? He said he was coming home.”

“No, the third room,” Phichit smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes like it used to.

“Perfect,” Yuuri replied and walked into the kitchen. He ran his fingers over the counter like he wasn’t in his own home before standing on his tiptoes and opening the cupboard over the refrigerator. “Aha,” he muttered, pulling out a bottle of vodka.

“Yuuri?” Phichit looked at him in confusion and Chris stepped forward.

“Are you sure about that, mon cher?” he asked carefully.

The look on Yuuri’s face shut both of his friends up quickly. He opened the bottle and downed a swig without bothering to find a glass. They both watched and he grimaced a little bit at the harsh taste.

“Vitya thought I didn’t know he had this stashed up there,” Yuuri muttered, taking another swig.

“Yuuri...” Phichit bit his lip, looking like he wanted to say more,but instead he went around Yuuri and retrieved three glasses and took the bottle from Yuuri’s hands, pouring them each a shot.

They drank until Yuuri couldn’t remember which way was up, let alone anything else and the bottle of vodka was gone. Chris and Phichit drank slowly, keeping their heads, but Yuuri drank like his life depended on it.

“Vitya,” Yuuri called into the empty house. “Vitya, where are you? Come dance with me and call me sweet things.”

“Yuuri,” Chris stood and tried to get Yuuri’s attention, but the brunette wasn’t having it.

“Why won’t he come?” Yuuri demanded.

The look on Phichit’s face could only be described as devastation. “Hey, why don’t you go to bed,” he choked out, trying to keep his voice clear of the tears that were welling in his eyes.

It was then that the front door opened and Yuuri’s face lit up. “Vitya!” he cried and started towards the entry way only to sway on his feet and almost fall.

The arms that caught him weren’t Viktor’s like his alcohol addled mind thought they should be. “Otousan, I’m home,” Yuri said softly, looking down at him with sad eyes.

“Oh, Yura, where’s dad?” Yuuri grinned sloppily at Yuri.

Yuri’s bottom lip quivered before he turned a harsh glare to Chris and Phichit. “Why did you let him drink so much? Can I not trust you two to do anything?” he demanded.

Phichit lost the battle he had been waging and burst into tears, fleeing further into the house where he and Chris were staying. Chris swallowed hard and looked down at Yuuri who might as well be made of jello, only supported by Yuri.

“How were we supposed to stop him?” Chris muttered.

“Any way necessary,” Yuri grated out. “Come on, otousan, let’s get you to bed.”

“No, I want to wait up for Vitya,” Yuuri whined like a petulant child.

Yuri swallowed hard and hoisted Yuuri to his feet. “Dad wouldn’t want to come home and find you sleep deprived. You know that. He wants you to take care of yourself.”

Yuuri nodded and swayed in place. “Okay, I’ll go to bed.”

“Good,” Yuri’s smile was tight.

“Yura, carry me, I don’t think I can walk,” Yuuri said after a second of not moving.

“I’ve got you, otousan,” Yuri said gently and scooped the older man into his arms carefully.

After Yuuri was tucked in, Yuri returned to the kitchen and sat down at the counter, resting his elbows on the granite, burying his face into his palms. Chris watched him from a few stools down.

After a few moments Yuri sighed into his hands. “I’m sorry I snapped at you.”

Chris stood and walked over, resting a gentle hand on Yuri’s back. “Don’t apologize. As much as Yuuri is dealing with the death of his husband, you are dealing with the death of your father. Phichit is more sensitive than most, but this is why we are here. We are here to support you both, so lean on us. We are your family, too.”

Yuri dropped his hands and turned to Chris. “It hurts.”

“I know, mon cher,” Chris said gently and pulled Yuri into a hug. “I’d be surprised if it didn’t.”

“I have to be strong for otousan. He needs me,” Yuri whispered into Chris’s embrace. “But I want to scream and cry, too.”

“Yuuri won’t blame you for crying,” Chris replied. “You’re only human, like the rest of us.”

Yuri was silent for a few minutes before he spoke again. “I’m terrible.”

“You are not,” Chris gently smacked Yuri’s back.

“I am,” Yuri snorted. “I’m angry, Chris. I’m angry at Dad leaving us.”

Chris paused. “That’s not an unexpected reaction, you know. I’m sure there are parts of Yuuri that are angry, too.”

Yuri sighed and pulled out of the hug. “I just can’t stop thinking that Dad knew how many people have left me, how could he let himself be one of them and I know that’s not fair. This wasn’t his choice, but I can’t help it.”

Chris sat down on the stool next to Yuri. “You’ve not been dealt a good hand in life, Yuri, but you are not alone. There are quite a few people who love you, and even though Viktor is gone now, his memory will keep us all linked together. Officially, you and Yuuri are family, but we are all in this together. We are all related by love.”

Yuri nodded. “I know that. I just don’t know what to do with this anger.”

Chris tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Why not skate it out?”

Yuri bit his lip. “I don’t want to leave otousan alone.”

“He won’t be alone. Phichit and I will be here, and I promise we will do a better job at keeping him sober. No matter what, you still have a life you must continue. You are still competing,” Chris pointed out.

“I know,” Yuri leaned against the counter again and reached out for one of the abandoned glasses, poured himself a shot and drank it down quickly.

Chris frowned. “I am yelling at you in place of Yuuri right now. You shouldn’t be drowning your sorrows in alcohol.”

Yuri snorted and placed the glass back down. “Relax, I’m Russian.”

Chris rolled his eyes. “Your father used to tell me the same thing, but I bet your otousan would still reprimand you.”

Yuri laughed slightly. “He would. You should have seen the fights they would get into whenever otousan caught dad slipping me drinks before I turned 18.”

Chris smiled. “Tell me all about it.”

Yuri let a small smile fall to his lips and he parroted some very convincing impressions of Yuuri and Viktor. “‘Yura, you put that drink down, Vitya, you know he’s too young. Stop giving him alcohol!’ ‘But, solnyshko, we are Russian!!’ ‘I don’t care if you’re from Mars, no alcohol for the minor .’”

Chris laughed. “That sounds just like them.”

“I’ve spent enough time around them to get pretty good at impersonations,” Yuri replied. “Dad used to hate it when I would do them back at him when I didn’t want to do what he said.”

“I could imagine just how he would react. Viktor always had a flair for the dramatics,” Chris poured himself another drink.

Yuri hummed in response and then stood. “I need to go to bed. Get rid of the rest of the bottle, would you? Otousan doesn’t need any more alcohol.”

Chris nodded and watched Yuri retreat towards his bedroom. He frowned and took a quick swig from his glass. From what he could tell, neither of the Yu(u)ris were handling this well. Yuuri seemed prepared to drink himself into a stupor until he forgot that Vitkor was gone and Yuri appeared ready to pretend that he didn’t have the negative emotions.

He slowly poured the remaining vodka down the sink. He and Phichit might need a bit of help. His frown deepened. No, he needed help. Phichit seemed to be struggling to deal with the raw emotions already. The usually bright-as-the-sun man didn’t appear to have to ability to deal with just how depressed Yuuri was. It was time to call in the reinforcements.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“I need help,” Chris spoke quietly into the phone. He was alone in the living room, the early morning light streaming into the room, the events of the night before playing in his mind. “Phich can’t handle it, Yuuri is… Not doing well, Yurio is trying to pretend he’s not hurting, I can’t hold them all up on my own.”

There was silence on the other end of the line for a few moments before Minami’s voice crackled through. “Team Russia can’t help?”

“I’m sure they can, but I was thinking that maybe Yuuri’s family would help him the most. I’m calling you because I was relying on Phichit to be Yuuri’s light and now that I’m seeing he is struggling, you’re the closest to the sunshine boy.”

Minami laughed softly. “Thanks for that. I want to help, but... Do you think I’ll be able to use the rink in Russia? I’m still competing.”

“I don’t think anyone will deny you access, not if you’re here for Yuuri,” Chris ran his hand down his face.

“Alright, I’ll see what I can do,” Minami replied. “I’ll text you when I have a more concrete answer. As it stands now, at least I’ll be there as soon as possible.”

As the call ended, Chris heard a creek behind him. He turned around and smiled. “Yuuri.”

Yuuri blinked at him sleepily. “How much did I drink? My head is killing me…”

“You drank more than I’d have recommended,” Chris replied. “How are you feeling otherwise.”

Yuuri made his way to the kitchen and filled a glass with water before coming to sit across from Chris. “I’m fine.”

“Forgive me for not believing you, mon cher,” Chris said gently.

Yuuri scowled for a moment before his face cleared to a blank expression. “Who were you on the phone with?”

“Minami,” Chris responded honestly.

“Ah, Japan,” Yuuri frowned. “I have to contact my parents… They don’t know that Vitya is gone yet.”

“You should call them then,” Chris replied.

Yuuri looked away. “I don’t want to face them yet.”

“You are going to have them come to the funeral, aren’t you?” Chris asked.

“I… Of course,” Yuuri stood slowly. “I need a shower.”

As Yuuri retreated, Chris frowned. He knew that this was still raw for everyone involved, especially Yuuri, but the Japanese man seemed almost too calm, even in his avoidance. Chris knew that Yuuri was just hiding from what would be his parent’s reactions to the news, even if they most likely already knew by now, with the news covering the death of Russia’s living legend and all of the friends that had gathered to Yuuri’s side. However, ever since the hotel room, he hadn’t seem Yuuri cry. In fact, the only emotion he’d seen that wasn’t alcohol derived was the flash of anger moments ago. Yuuri wasn’t coping, he was denying and Chris couldn’t wait for help to arrive.

 

``~`**`~``

 

Yuuri knew that Chris was trying to help. He knew that, but he couldn’t stop the anger rising inside. It seemed to be the only emotion that would break through the pervasive numbness that coursed through his veins, through his very being. He didn’t want to stop it even though he knew whoever it was directed at was undeserving. It was relieving to feel something , even if that feeling was anger like he never had before.

And yet, the numbness was welcomed in a way. As long as he was numb, the wound left by Viktor’s death stayed closed. It stayed away from the forefront of his mind and he was able to do what he needed to.

As Yuuri stepped into the shower, he sighed. It was too early in the morning to drink, but he craved the taste of alcohol on his tongue, the burn of liquor sliding down his throat, the feeling of the world growing dim as he forgot his surroundings, his circumstance. Somewhere, in the back of his mind he registered that was bad. He shouldn’t allow himself to follow the call of relief induced by alcohol, but, his brain replied, who was there to care? Viktor was gone and there was no one left to look at him in disappointment if Yuuri drowned himself in liquor. Yuuri was alone again. Somehow the feeling was worse than when he had returned to Hatsetsu after five years, but it was also dulled by that numbness like everything else.

The inside of Yuuri’s head was a confusing place for him right now. He wasn’t entirely sure which way was up in his own mind. What emotions he was actually feeling, what was a bad thought, what was a good idea. He didn’t know anymore. All he could really identify was that one single sensation. Alone. You’re alone. All alone. Alone. Viktor left you alone. Alone again. ALONE.

Yuuri gritted his teeth and finished his shower. Alone. He dried himself off as he got dressed. All by yourself . He left the bedroom. Viktor abandoned you. Yuuri started making breakfast. If he had loved you, he wouldn’t have left you all alone. He slammed a pan down on the stove a little harder than intended. Maybe you should join him. “He doesn’t deserve my company,” Yuuri growled out.

“Yuuri?”

Yuuri whipped around and glared at Phichit who took a visible step back at the unbridled rage on his face. It took him a second to relax, to reign in the anger, to let his face relax. He took a deep breath and turned back to the stove. “Good morning, Phich. Do you want some breakfast?”

Phichit was quiet for a moment before he responded. “Sure, Yuuri. That sounds great.”

“Alright. Can you go see if Chris and Yura want some, too?” Yuuri replied, forcing false cheerfulness into his voice. Look how much like Viktor I am.

“Alright,” Phichit said quietly.

A few minutes later, Yuuri registered someone behind him. “Otousan.”

“Good morning, Yura,” Yuuri replied, focusing on the breakfast he was preparing.

“Look at me, please?” Yuri asked, his voice just slightly strained.

Yuuri slowly turned around, the smile plastered to his face tasting fowl and fake. “What is it?”

Yuri studied him for a few moments before he stepped forward and hugged him tightly. “It’s not like you to put on one of Dad’s media smiles.”

Yuuri froze for a moment, his arms limp at his sides. “I’m fine, Yura,” he said quietly.

“You’re not fine, I’m not fine, no one is fine. We’re all hurting, some more than others,” Yuri replied. “We’ve lost something precious, but otousan,” Yuri pulled back, his hands on either of Yuuri’s shoulders. “You’re not alone.”

Yuuri quietly stepped backwards, pulling himself from Yuri’s grip, turning back to the stove. “I am fine, Yura. Set the table for me, would you?”

“Otousan…” Yuri started again, but Yuuri cut him off.

“I said I’M FINE,” the anger in his voice stopped anything that Yuri would have said.

 

Alone. Alone. Alone. Alone.

 

Alone.

 

ALONE.

 

ALONE.

 

``~`**`~``

 

It was the next day that the doorbell rang. There was silence inside for a few moments, all of the occupants had already figured out the necessity to walk on eggshells in Yuuri’s presence. He’d drunk himself into a stupor again the night before, the other Chris, Phichit and Yuri unable to stop him, not even aware of where he was getting the alcohol from. It wasn’t until Yuuri called from the kitchen for someone to get the door that anyone moved.

Phichit answered the door only to be greeted by the bright smile of Kenjiro Minami. “Hiya, Phichit!”

Phichit blinked in surprise. “What are you doing here, Minami?”

“We’re the reinforcements!” Minami said joyfully. Phichit could see a little bit of sadness in the young skater’s eyes, but he still grinned as he always did.

“We?” Phichit glanced over Minami’s shoulder and his eyes widened as he observed what might as well have been a bus load of people swarming in the hallway.

“I brought… Hatsetsu,” Minami laughed.

Chris appeared behind Phichit. “Minami, I have never been more happy to see you.”

“No problem, Chris. Can we come in?” Minami smiled at him.

“Yes, but there’s some things I need you all to know first. One, Yurio needs lots of love and attention,” Chris started and Minami started relaying Chris’s words back to the group behind him in rapid fire japanese. “Two, everyone has to be very careful around Yuuri. He’s angry almost constantly and he might snap at any one of you.”

After Minami was done, Hiroko stepped forward. “Where is my son?”

“This way,” Phichit said quietly, leading the group into the apartment. Fitting everyone in would be tricky. The apartment was huge, sure, but it was still an apartment and there had to be 15 people coming in.

Hiroko entered the kitchen and found Yuuri leaning against the counter, a glass halfway to his lips. It took her less than a second to understand the situation. Before she can say a word, however, a voice rang out behind her.

“Katsuki Yuuri, you put that drink down this instant. It’s two o’clock in the afternoon,” Minako’s sharp voice called.

Yuuri looked up at them and then squinted down at his glass in confusion. “I’ve obviously drunk enough to start hallucinating…” he muttered. “What’s in this anyway…”

Minako marched into the room and took the glass from Yuuri’s hand. “Don’t do this to yourself.”

Yuuri looked at her blankly. “My hallucination just took my drink. That probably should be concerning.”

“Oh, Yuu-chan,” Hiroko sighed softly. “My son, you’re hurting.”

“I’m fine, okaasan,” Yuuri said tensely. “I’ve said it enough times, I don’t need figments of my imagination questioning me, too.”

“Yuuri!” Minami appeared behind Hiroko and slowly Yuuri began to notice more Japanese people than he’d seen in one place since he moved to Russia milling around the apartment behind them.

“Oh,” Yuuri said quietly. “Look at that, I’ve lost my mind.”

Yuri walked into the kitchen looking bewildered. “Otousan, why is all of Hatsetsu in the living room?”

“You can see them, too, Yura? That’s reassuring,” Yuuri replied. He paused and then his eyes widened. “Wait, you can see them, too? I’m not hallucinating??”

Yuri’s brow crumpled in confusion. “You thought you were hallucinating and we’re just… Alright with it?”

Yuuri just blinked at him for a moment before he shrugged. “I mean, it wouldn’t be the worst thing that happened this week.”

Yuri’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. He couldn’t seem to find a response to that and before he could really do anything he was being pulled into a hug by Hiroko. “Yurio, how are you, child?”

“Ah, babushka,” Yuri said, sounding almost nervous as he accepted the hug. “I’m alright.”

“Hush, now, you’ve lost your Papa, we are here for you as much as your otousan,” Hiroko soothed him.

“What’s going on?” Yuuri asked slowly.

“Chris called me,” Minami grinned. “So I called your parents and they had a collection running to pay for them to come to Russia for the funeral, but it wasn’t enough yet, so I made a gofundme page.”

Yuuri blinked. “How is everyone else here?”

“Well, the gofundme raised so much money we just decided to buy as many extra plane tickets as we could and here we are!” Minami walked into the kitchen and hugged Yuuri tightly. “We’re here to support you, Yuuri.”

“I… I need a minute,” Yuuri muttered. He felt like his head was swimming. There was too much happening and he didn’t know about any of it. He pulled out of Minami’s hug, reached out and took his glass out of Minako’s hands and downed it quickly before walking briskly to the bedroom and shutting the door behind him. It was too much. There were so many people and he was still alone. He slid down the wall and pulled his knees to his chest.

“Vitya,” he whispered into his knees. “Vitya, I need you… Where are you? Why did you have to go?”

He wanted to cry, but no tears would come. Instead, the anger rose again. Anger at Viktor for leaving, at himself for not being able to feel anything but the rage inside him, at everyone around him for keeping on insisting he wasn’t alright, at the whole world for daring to exist when Viktor no longer did. How dare they. How dare they.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“How long as he been like that?” Minako asked quietly.

“I haven’t seen him anything but that or drunk since the hotel room,” Chris replied.

“When we found him he was just screaming and crying, clinging to Viktor’s body. They were alone when it happened... Yuuri was the only one with him when he died,” Phichit bit his lip. “That’s more than anyone should have to experience.”

“It’s my fault,” Yuri interjected.

“What, no, nothing is your fault,” Hiroko chided him from where she still hugged him.

“No, this started while I was crying. Otousan calmed down and turned to comfort me and now he’s just… I think it broke him,” Yuri finished the sentence at barely a whisper.

“Yuri, you can’t blame yourself for this. Yuuri isn’t coping in healthy ways, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t as well,” Minako said gently.

Yuri was tense for a moment and then tears began to slide down his face. He turned and hugged Hiroko closer, her petite frame almost swallowed up in his much larger one. “I miss him so much. Dad brought us all together and I miss him,” he sobbed.

Hiroko squeezed him tighter and rubbed his back. “I know, child.”

“Otousan is falling apart and I can’t help him and I don’t blame him either and I just want my family back together,” Yuri gasped out in shuddering breaths.

“It’s going to take time, but things become easier,” Hiroko said comfortingly. “You have a family still and as long as we remember Vicchan in our hearts, he will stay with us.”

Yuri nodded and then pulled back with a sniffle. “Sorry, I probably crushed you a little.”

Hiroko clicked her tongue and reached up to place a hand on his cheek. “Grandmas are for this, yes? This and spoiling their grandbabies.”

Yuri laughed slightly through his tears. “You don’t have to spoil me, babushka. I’m too old for that anyway.”

“Nonsense,” Hiroko chided. “You’re never too old. I only got to have you as my grandson officially when you were 17, I need to make up for lost time.”

“I think otousan needs it more than I do,” Yuri said quietly.

“You both need it,” Hiroko said firmly. “Now, I need to cook a meal for everyone. Show me around your kitchen.”

 

``~`**`~``

 

Yuuri emerged from his room sometime later to find everyone laughing and talking, crowded in the living room and kitchen. He felt a spike of anger at their happiness before the scent of food hit his nose and he managed to notice that there were even more people in his apartment than before. At quick glance he could see Georgi, Mila and Yakov in the fray.

“Yuuri!” Minami beamed at him and grabbed his hand. “Come eat!”

He found a plate of food shoved into his hands before Chris was standing in front of him. “This was one of Viktor’s final wishes he communicated to me,” he said softly. “He asked me when we were alone to hold what he called an Irish wake. He said that he didn’t want to be remembered with tears. He wanted everyone who loved him to rejoice in the life he lived.”

Yuuri bit his lip. “Why didn’t he tell me?”

Chris smiled. “Probably because I’m the only one as crazy as he was. I suppose he was trusting my party planning.”

Yuuri snorted. “I…” he started, but couldn’t find the words.

“Just listen to people’s stories, eat the food your mother made, you don’t have to participate. No one will blame you,” Chris gently took hold of Yuuri’s arm and lead him to a spot on the couch recently vacated.

As Yuuri listened to friends and family recount stories of Viktor’s antics, the anger boiled. How dare they. How dare they sit here and laugh while I’m alone. Makkachin wandered over to Yuuri and put her big soft head in his lap with a soft whine that his ears immediately tuned to. He slowly ran his fingers through her curls, taking comfort in her presence. Out of everyone, Makka probably understood him the best. After all, while she had become theirs she had been Viktor’s constant companion before Yuuri was in their lives. Slowly, he felt the anger melt away.

He quietly set the plate of nearly untouched food to the side and slid off the couch onto his knees, wrapping his arms around her. Makkachin let out a series of small whines and huffed into his hair, licking him wherever she could reach. Yuuri felt the first real smile he’d had since Viktor’s death crack his face. It almost felt unnatural, but he ran his hands up and down her soft fur. She understood. She knew how Yuuri felt. Even if he couldn’t count on anyone else, he could rely on Makka.

“Thank you, sweet girl,” he muttered into her fur. She boofed softly back at him. After a moment he reclaimed his spot on the couch, and if anyone questioned why he had been on the floor, hugging the dog, they didn’t say anything. The party continued to swirl around him, but Makkachin stayed by his side, sensing his need for her close by and the rage didn’t rise again for the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Yuuri stood and walked slowly to the podium. The numbness that had extended over his body since Viktor’s death kept his anxiety at bay, even as he felt the entire room’s eyes on him. Once there, he stilled for a moment before taking a deep breath and looking out over the crowd. Everyone here were people who loved Viktor. Everyone here was someone who was hurting, just like he was.

He opened his mouth. “Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov will be remembered by the world as the most decorated figure skater in history who was never too busy to make a fan happy. He will be remembered by the world for his poise and grace and beauty, but there was so much more to Viktor. Those who knew him will remember his heart shaped smile, the way his eyes sparkled when he laughed and how almost comically forgetful he was. And I will remember Viktor as the man who saw something in me that I couldn’t. I’ll remember Viktor as the man who always met me where I was. I’ll remember Vitkor as the love of my life, who liked to take naps on the couch cuddled around Makkachin and who would pout at me to get his way. I’ll remember Viktor as my husband and the other half to my soul. I’ll remember Viktor as the place home was, no matter where we were.

“I know I’m not very good but whenever Viktor was sick, he liked me to sing to him. Towards the end, I spent a lot of time singing. I hope I was able to give him comfort. I can’t think of a better way to honor him than to perform for him and singing is all I can do in a church, so bear with me, okay?”

Yuuri paused and took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He didn’t need cue cards for the lyrics. He wrote this song for this and the words were already engraved into his heart, just like Viktor was.

 

“I took the supermarket flowers from the windowsill

I threw the day-old tea from the cup

Packed up the photo album Phichit had made

Memories of a life that's been loved

 

Took the "Get Well Soon" cards and stuffed animals

Poured the old ginger beer down the sink

Dad always told me, "Don't you cry when you're down."

But, love, there's a tear every time that I blink

 

Oh, I'm in pieces. It's tearing me up but I know

A heart that's broke is a heart that's been loved

 

So, I'll sing Hallelujah,

You were an angel in the shape of my love

When I fell down you'd be there holding me up

Spread your wings as you go

And when God takes you back

He'll say, "Hallelujah, you're home."

 

I fluffed the pillows, made the beds, stacked the chairs up

Folded your nightshirts neatly in a case

Yura said he'd drive, then put his hand on my cheek

And wiped a tear from the side of my face

 

And I hope that I see the world as you did 'cause I know

A life with love is a life that's been lived

 

So, I'll sing Hallelujah,

You were an angel in the shape of my love

When I fell down you'd be there holding me up

Spread your wings as you go, when God takes you back

He'll say, "Hallelujah, you're home."

 

Hallelujah,

You were an angel in the shape of my love

You got to see the person I have become

Spread your wings and I know

That when God took you back, he said, "Hallelujah, you're home."”

 

Yuuri took a deep, shaking breath and felt tears spilling down his cheeks and he whispered weakly. “Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov was the most beautiful idiot I’ve ever met and he’ll be sorely missed. Thank you.”

Yuuri half stumbled down the steps back to his seat and collapsed into it. The first tears he had shed since crying on the floor with Yuri hit him like a truck. That stubborn numbness still sat in the back of his mind, but it was lighter now and with these tears it seemed like maybe he could feel something besides anger again.

The rest of the funeral passed in a blur, Yuuri unable to focus on the other beautiful tributes to his husband, the tears sliding down his face unstoppable. He cried silently until it was time to go to the cemetery and he barely remembered how he got there, let alone what happened afterwards.

The next thing he knew, he was kneeling next to the grave, a handful of dirt clutched in his hand, as he leaned his forehead against the gravestone Yuri had helped him pick out.

“You’d yell at me, wouldn’t you, Vitya,” he whispered. “You didn’t want us to cry over you and here I am, I can’t stop it. Or would you scold me for the dirt on my suit? I wore the Armani you made me get because I knew you’d like to see me in in one last time, but now I’ve made it dirty. You’d be absolutely scandalized.”

“Do you know how hard it will be to get the dirt off of your knees? Yuuuurrrriiii, stand up, that’s Armani ,” a voice with called out from behind him and Yuuri whipped his head around to see Yuri standing behind him. The blonde smiled weakly. “You’re right, he’d lose it.”

Yuuri just stared at him for a few moments and the started to laugh. Real laughter that Yuuri had been uncertain was possible ever again. He slowly released the handful of dirt and brushed his and off on his already dirtied trousers before he stood and pulled Yuri into a hug.

“Yura,” he said softly. “I’ve been unfair to you.”

Yuri snorted. “No one blames you for how you’ve been, otousan, least of all me.”

“Let’s go home,” Yuuri muttered and took Yuri’s hand, leading him back to the car that was waiting to take them back to the apartment.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“Yuuri,” Phichit spoke softly.

Yuuri looked up from the bed. He had been sitting here for the better part of an hour, unable to join the friends and family who had gathered in the apartment. “Hey, Phich,” Yuuri tried to smile, but he could tell how absolutely he had failed with the look on Phichit’s face.

“I’m so sorry,” Phichit whispered and came into the room, sitting on the bed next to Yuuri.

Yuuri sighed. “I think… I’m doing a little better that I have been, but… Phich, I don’t remember how to live without him.”

Phichit wrapped his arm around Yuuri’s shoulders and pulled him close. “You don’t have to. He’s still here with you, Yuuri. Do you think that someone who was as in love with you as Viktor was and frankly, as extra as he was, will let something as simple as death keep him away?”

Yuuri huffed out a laugh. “Alright, I don’t know how to exist in a world where I can’t see Vitya anymore.”

Phichit bit his lip. “That one is harder. You might not like my answer.”

“Lay it on me,” Yuuri muttered.

“As you always have,” Phichit said quietly. “The world does not stop turning because Viktor passed away. He would want you to keep living as you had, take on the new students you told me that you guys were talking about. Viktor would want you to find a way to be happy.”

“Easy for you to say,” Yuuri frowned.

Phichit grimaced. “I thought about this for a long time, Yuuri. I thought… What if it was Chris. What if our roles were reversed and Chris was the one who died and I couldn’t bear the thought. And then I thought about… What if it was me? What would I want for Chris? Tell me, Yuuri, if it was you gone and Viktor was left, what would you hope for him?”

Yuuri chewed on his lip. “It’s just as you said. I’d want him to figure out how to be happy without me.”

Phichit nodded. “And it will take time for you to figure out how to do that, but you have us to help you. Yuri and Chris and me and everyone else who loves you.”

Yuuri felt his eyes fill with tears as he sat there, cradled in Phichit’s arms. Now that he didn’t feel so numb, the feeling of being alone wasn’t as strong, but it was still there.

“I… I want your help, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be kind,” Yuuri whispered.

“I know, Yuuri,” Phichit said softly. “You’re hurting and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that you feel like we don’t understand. To a degree, you aren’t wrong. The closest anyone can get is Yurio, he lost his dad, but even if we can’t fully understand, we love you and we’ll be here by your side until you can be happy again.”

“What if I can’t ever be happy again?” Yuuri muttered into Phichit’s shoulder.

“Well then you’re stuck with us forever,” Phichit waggled his eyebrows.

Yuuri laughed hoarsely. “Don’t you and Chris have jobs and lives to get back to? You’ve both been here for so long already.”

“Well, that’s the thing Yuuri. We both quit to move here. We were kind of hoping that when you went back to coaching you’d let us tag along,” Phichit said quietly. “We weren’t planning on leaving. We even have been looking for an apartment around here so you aren’t stuck with two vagrants in your house.”

Yuuri blinked at this. “Phich…”

“If you want us gone, that’s fine, too,” Phichit said, hurriedly. “No pressure.”

“You know I love you both, right?” Yuuri pulled back. “I’ll go back to coaching and you two can be my assistants. Thank you, Phich.”

Phichit smiled. “You’re our family, too, you know.”

Yuuri found himself smiling back. “I suppose we should go back and talk to the guests, huh?”

“Probably,” Phichit stood and lead the way back to the group in the living room.

 

``~`**`~``

 

As time passed, Yuuri found himself able to smile with more honesty. They were less frequent than they had once been, but he stopped forcing fake smiles onto his face. He went back to work. Mila started to train under him, something that she had spoken to Viktor about before. He took on a few other students as well, younger ones that had potential.

He still had bad days, ones that had him curled up in a ball at home, sobbing and miserable, but they were less and less frequent as time went on. On those days, Phichit and Chris handled the students all on their own. They had finally found an apartment a few blocks over and usually worked alongside Yuuri. He was unendingly grateful for their presence.

Minami visited more frequently than Yuuri thought he should be able to while still competing. He was more than happy to let the young skater use the rink when he was there and offer some tips with Minami’s coach’s permission, but he knew that the back and forth was probably detrimental to his career. One day, he never left. When Minami’s coach called him and begged Yuuri to take on the young man, Yuuri was more than happy to oblige.

His family back in Japan called him like clockwork, once a week. It wasn’t an new occurrence, but Yuuri was grateful for the consistency just the same. They seemed to sense his need for routine and fell into the role without a problem.

But the one he owed the most to was Yuri. The man that looked to his as a father and mentor had fallen almost seamlessly into the role of protective son. After he had moved back home, he never left. The apartment he had been renting was forgotten about and when Otabek expressed interest in moving in together, the blonde asked Yuuri, blushing and embarrassed, if a third person in the apartment was alright. It was Yuri who sat on the floor with Yuuri, surrounded in pictures of Viktor and sobbing together. It was Yuri who picked up the slack around the house, doing the tasks that Viktor had done before. It was Yuri who stood between his otousan and a too pushy reporter when he saw Yuuri getting overwhelmed. It was Yuri who threatened a rude paparazzi when they asked too many questions about Viktor. It was Yuri who gently placed his hand on Yuuri’s shoulder and smiled to drag the older man back to the presence when he saw him drawing in on himself.

Before he knew it, a year had passed. Then two. Yuuri had finally found his new rhythm. He found his new routine and let himself fall into it wholeheartedly, even as Viktor lay in the back of his mind, sitting in the place of honor in his heart, he allowed himself to feel happiness fully again.

He leaned against the barrier of the rink, watching Yuri run through his program when he heard ringing. He frowned at the unknown number on the screen of his cell, but swiped to answer anyway.

“Hello?” Yuuri answered.

“Mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov? This is Ella, with the adoption agency,” the smooth female voice said through the line. When Yuuri didn’t say anything she called out again. “Mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov?”

Yuuri coughed. “Yes, I’m here. Just Yuuri is fine.”

“Yuuri,” Ella said warmly. “I had heard the news about your husband, but I was wondering if you were still interested in adopting? I know it’s been a long time, but I have a child that I think would be perfect for you.”

“I-” Yuuri cut himself off as he turned his back on the rink, trying to keep Yuri from seeing the look on his face. “Can I have a few days to think about it?”

“Absolutely,” Ella said. “Would you like to know about the child or would you like to wait until you’ve made a decision?”

“Tell me,” Yuuri said weakly. Adoption had been his dream with Viktor. Could he do it alone?

“It’s a little girl, age 16 months, her given name is Victoria,” Ella said softly.

Yuuri’s hand flew up to his mouth, trying to suffocate the soft sob attempting to make its way out of his throat. “Victoria?”

“Yes, Victoria. I’ll email you a picture. I honestly thought of you when I saw her because of her attitude. She reminded me of a tiny version of your husband,” Ella said quietly.

Yuuri bit his lip. “I want her. I want to go through with it.”

“Lovely,” Ella said warmly. “I’ll need you to come in and meet her, sign some papers and such.”

“Can I bring my son with me? Yura is twenty two, but he is currently living with me,” Yuuri said quietly.

“Of course,” Ella replied. “Can you come in tomorrow? I know it’s soon, but I’d like to get you together as soon as possible.”

“Alright,” Yuuri bit his lip. “We will see you tomorrow.”

Hanging up the phone he turned back to the rink and noted Yuri standing in the center, looking at him curiously. When he saw Yuuri was off the phone, he skated over. “Are you okay, otousan?”

“Yeah,” Yuuri said softly. “Yura, do you remember when I told you that Vitya and I had been talking about adopting?”

Yuri nodded. “Yes.”

“Well, what I didn’t tell you is we had already started the process. We talked about it an awful lot, until… I suppose he stopped mentioning it when he got diagnosed. I didn’t know at the time, I just thought… Maybe he had lost interest,” Yuuri studied the barrier between them.

“Why are you telling me this now?” Yuri asked.

“I just got off the phone with the adoption agency,” Yuuri turned his eyes up to Yuri’s to gauge his reaction.

Yuri’s face remained impassive. “You’re not alone,” he said quietly. “If you still want a kid, you won’t be by yourself to raise it.”

“Her,” Yuuri corrected. “I won’t be alone to raise her. Ella, the agent assigned to me, offered me a baby girl named Victoria.”

“Oh, otousan,” Yuri’s eyes softened. “Is that what they call fate?”

“I don’t know, Yura, but will you come with me tomorrow to meet her?” Yuuri smiled a little bit.

“Of course,” Yuri said without hesitation. “Do you think I’d pass up the opportunity to beat out Chris and Phichit to holding my baby sister?”

Yuuri laughed. “Fair enough. Thank you, Yura.”

“Otousan, you know I meant it, right? You’re not going to be alone with this kid. In fact I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to beat people off with a stick to get alone time once she arrives,” Yuri grinned.

“I know, Yura,” Yuuri smiled back. “It’s been a while since I’ve felt alone.”

“I’m glad. I know it’s been difficult, but I didn’t like seeing you suffer,” Yuri turned away and skated to the center of the rink to start running through his program again.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“Hello, Victoria,”  Yuuri said quietly, smiling down at the little girl who shyly blinked up at him. “I want to be your otousan. This is Yura.”

Yuri shuffled forward and smiled down at the bright eyed child. “Hi, Victoria. I’ll be your big brother,” Yuri turned and grinned at Yuuri. “Otousan, look at her, she looks like she really is my sister! And her eyes kind of look like dad’s.”

The little girl looked between them and then a huge smile broke out on her face. She babbled at them and then reached out and pulled on Yuri’s long hair, much to his amusement. Yuuri laughed watching them interact and soon found himself with the little girl in his arms, clutching onto the strings of his sweatshirt. Viktor’s sweatshirt. Yuuri had worn it today to feel like Viktor was close to him while he went through with this. She studied the end of one of the strings for a moment before she shoved it in her mouth and Yuuri was suddenly struck with the memory of Viktor chewing absent mindedly on the very same string as he planned choreography at their kitchen table.

He smiled wistfully as he watched her in his arms until Yuri touched his arm. “You okay, otousan?”

Yuuri blinked and nodded. “Ella was right, she makes me think of Vitya.”

Yuri nodded. “That’s not a bad thing, right?”

Yuuri shook his head. “Not at all. I love her already.”

“That’s good,” Ella said from behind them. “As much as I’d love for you to be able to take her with you today, I have a lot of paperwork we have to get through and I need to set up a home study to look at your apartment.”

Yuuri smiled down at the little girl. “Whatever I have to do.”

 

``~`**`~``

 

Yuuri was running around like a crazy person. To be honest, if Yuri had to watch him nervously wipe down one more surface for the thousandth time, he might have to tie the older man to a chair.

“Otousan, put down the rag, everything is clean,” Yuri said finally, crossing his arms.

Yuuri stilled and took a deep breath. “I just want this to go well. Everything in the nursery is set up, right?”

Yuri rolled his eyes and walked over to Yuuri, placing his hands on the older man’s shoulders. “Everything is perfect.”

Yuuri bit his lip and looked away. “I wish…”

“I know,” Yuri said quickly. “Me too. Dad would have known just how to keep you calm.”

Yuuri looked up at Yuri, his eyes filling quickly with tears even as he tried to blink them away. “I’m sorry, I’m just nervous.”

Yuri smiled. “Who wouldn’t be?”

“You’re right, I just… Am I doing the right thing, Yura?” Yuuri fidgeted.

“Do you want Victoria?” Yuri asked after a moment.

Yuuri nodded without hesitation. “Of course I do.”

“Then you’re doing the right thing. Don’t second guess yourself, otousan. You’re a wonderful parent,” Yuri said gently.

“Am I? I feel like I’ve done so many things wrong with you,” Yuuri studied his shoes.

“I think I’d know best if you were a good parent or not, hm?” Yuri frowned. “Out of anyone I’m the most qualified to make that judgement.”

Yuuri smiled weakly. “But you were 15 when we met, 17 when we got the papers through. Victoria is a toddler. It’s different.”

“It is,” Yuri nodded in agreement. “But it’s also the same. Don’t overthink it, just be yourself and everything will be fine.”

Yuuri narrowed his eyes. “I think those two things are mutually exclusive.”

Yuri bit his lip to try to keep from laughing. “Fair enough. Okay, how about this. Channel your inner dad.”

Yuuri just stared at him and Yuri began to wonder if he’d said the wrong thing. After a few moments Yuuri took a deep breath. “So, stupidly confident and obnoxiously enthusiastic?”

Yuri couldn’t stop the laughter this time. “I think maybe just don’t panic?”

“Okay. I think I can do that,” Yuuri smiled and pulled Yuri into a hug. “Thank you, Yura.”

Yuri was going to respond, but the door buzzer rang before he could open his mouth. Yuuri went stiff before he pulled away and nervously smoothed imaginary wrinkles from his clothes before going to the entryway to buzz in the home inspector.

The inspection went smoothly, better than Yuuri could have hoped for. Yuri was a calming presence, even if he didn’t speak much while the inspector was in the house. Now all they could do was wait.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“Welcome home, Victoria,” Yuuri said softly. He was cradling the toddler in his arms, having just picked her up from Ella.

Her bright eyes looked around the apartment as she clutched onto the front of Yuuri’s shirt. After a few moments of looking around she blinked up at him and grinned. She babbled incoherently at him for a little while before she was trying to stretch out of his arms.

Yuuri laughed, watching her squirm. “Okay, okay. You want to explore?” He leaned down and placed her on the floor and she was immediately walking around like a tiny drunken person. Yuuri bit his lip, snorting a soft laugh to himself as he walked just behind her.

“Otousan,” Yuri called, coming out of his bedroom. “You’re back?”

“Yes, we’re in the living room,” Yuuri called back.

He heard some movement and then Yuri and Otabek appeared from down the hall. “Look, Beka, look, it’s my baby sister,” Yuri said, tugging on Otabek’s sleeve like a little kid.

Otabek squatted in front of the child and offered her a little smile. “Hello there, I’m Otabek. Nice to meet you.”

“Her name is Victoria,” Yuri said, kneeling next to Otabek. “Do you remember me, Victoria? I’m your big brother.”

Victoria blinked suspiciously at Otabek before she waddled over to Yuri and pulled on his hair. Yuuri giggled quietly. “She really likes your hair, Yura.”

“She’s going to rip it out if she does that every time she sees me,” Yuri grumbled, but he was beaming at the little girl.

Yuuri stood back at watched as his two children interacted, smiling to himself. Maybe this would go well. There was still a nagging fear inside him that he couldn’t do this without Viktor, but he knew he wasn’t alone now. He knew that he had a support group that stood by his side no matter what was thrown at him. He had a family that spanned more than blood ties and official papers. He wasn’t alone.

 

``~`**`~``

 

“Look, Victoria, that’s your grandpa. He was like a father to your Papa. I’m sure you’ll love him,” Yuuri smiled as he bounced the little girl in his arms. Yakov was sitting on the couch, tears glistening in his eyes as he looked at them. “Do you want to say hi?”

He moved to sit on the couch next to Yakov. Victoria looked over at him with wide eyes. She stretched halfway out of Yuuri’s arms and placed a tiny hand on Yakov’s nose. “Hi,” she said. It was a little garbled, her speech still developing, but it was clear enough.

“Can you say ‘grandpa’?” Yuuri asked gently.

Victoria looked back at Yuuri and them shyly buried her face in Yuuri’s shoulder, clutching to his shirt. “Toan,” she squeaked out.

Yuuri giggled softly and ran his hand up and down her back. “She can’t pronounce otousan yet,” he explained, looking down at the child in his arms fondly. “She just calls me ‘toan’. Isn’t it cute?”

Yakov smiled slightly, but he hesitated. “Are you certain you want me to be her grandfather?”

Yuuri studied the little girl in his arms as she chewed on her finger. “You were very important to Vitya, Mr. Feltsman. If he were still with us, he’d want you to have that role and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. Plus, I want her to know exactly who her Papa was and you’re part of that.”

Yakov reached out and let Victoria curl her little hand around his finger. “Perhaps you should just call me Yakov then,” he said softly.

Yuuri smiled at him. “Does that mean you’re going to stop calling me Katsuki?”

Yakov huffed to himself. “Yura already yelled at me for that, if you’d remember.”

Yuuri blinked a few times, the memory from that time rushing over him but he shook it off. “I meant, you could call me Yuuri.”

“Yuuri,” Yakov said in an agreeable tone. “I think I could manage that.”

“Yuuri!” A voice called as they heard the front door close. Yuuri turned and smiled as Phichit and Chris came in.

“Hey guys,” Yuuri said warmly. “I have someone I want you to meet.”

“It’s about time. Hello, Mr. Feltsman,” Phichit bounced into the room, waving to Yakov before he turned to Yuuri. “Give me my god-niece!” He held out his arms excitedly.

Yakov nodded his greeting as Yuuri stood up, rolling his eyes. “If I hadn’t planned on asking you already, I would probably be offended that you just assumed you are going to be her god parents.”

Phichit scoffed. “Of course we will be!”

Yuuri tilted his head to the side, a teasing glint in his eyes. “Maybe I’ll ask Minami-kun. Or Yura and Beka.”

Phichit pouted. “Can I just hold her?”

Yuuri laughed. “Victoria, can you say ‘hi’ to Uncle Phichit and Uncle Chris?”

Victoria looked at Phichit for a long moment before she looked back at Yuuri and said several half formed words and ended her little unintelligible rant with ‘toan’.

Yuuri nodded along with whatever she was trying to tell him, a serious look on his face. “Yes, Victoria, I understand. Do you want Uncle Phichit to hold you?”

Victoria seemed to think about if for a few seconds before she reached out for Phichit. Phichit gladly took her and cooed. “Aren’t you just the cutest? I’m going to be your favorite uncle, you’ll see. We’re going to have a ton of fun together!”

Yuuri snorted out a laugh. “You have a long line to beat off to be her favorite Uncle, Phich.”

Phichit hugged Victoria to himself and sent an offended look to Yuuri. “Do you doubt me?”

“I’m not even going to touch that. I’ll just settle for second favorite,” Chris said with a laugh. He turned to Yuuri and hugged him. “How are you, you look tired.”

Yuuri smiled. “Parenthood isn’t the easiest,” he admitted. “But I’m happy.”

“Good,” Chris smiled.

Victoria was squishing her little hands into Phichit’s face as the man made faces at her. She giggled happily as he crossed his eyes. “She’s so precious,” he sighed happily.

“She really is,” Yuuri laughed while watching his best friend play with Victoria. He glanced back at the clock. “Yura and Beka should be home soon. You’re all staying for dinner, right?”

“Sure, that sounds great,” Phichit grinned.

“Okay,” Yuuri smiled and reached out, booping Victoria on the nose. “Stay here and play with your Uncles and your Grandpa, alright, Victoria? Otousan has to make dinner.”

Victoria squealed happily and Yuuri laughed before turning away to head to the kitchen.

 

``~`**`~``

 

Yuuri smiled down at Victoria who was wearing the onsie that Yuri had made for her that looked like Viktor’s Stammi Vicino costume. Today, Chris and Phichit had agreed to coach the students on their own, giving Yuuri a whole day to himself with just him and the toddler. As grateful as he was for the support network he had, sometimes it was nice to spend time alone with his child. Recently, it had seemed like there was a constant stream of people in and out of the apartment.

Victoria sat on the floor, shaking a rattle happily a foot or so in front of Yuuri. He smiled down at the little girl. “I wish you could have met your Papa,” he said quietly. “Vitya would have loved you so much. I’m sure he’s watching us now, loving you just as much as I do.”

Victoria cooed at him and suddenly, Yuuri felt a chill run up his spine, like familiar eyes on him. He shivered and looked around as if what he felt could have actually been real. He sighed softly to himself. “You’re with us, right, Vitya?” he whispered to the empty room. “Isn’t our little girl beautiful?”

The chill tightened his back muscles again and as much as Yuuri’s logical brain told him he was imagining the feeling he couldn’t help but smile at the thought that Viktor was still with him, despite everything.

“Vitya, are you proud of me?” He asked, reaching out to stack up some of Victoria’s blocks.

Victoria looked at him curiously and reached out for him. “Toan.”

Yuuri smiled and took the little girl in his arms. “Don’t ever forget, Victoria, no matter what happens, we aren’t alone. No matter what, we have family and your Papa is always with us.”

 

 

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