May 20, 2028
On the day of his wedding, Yuzu woke early, far too early -- the sun had barely lifted over the horizon -- to Shoma moaning on his right.
Yuzu stuffed his head under a pillow. Even then he could hear the murmur of Javi near Shoma, like bird’s wings fluttering over the sheets. Very sexy bird’s wings, speaking in Spanish. Yuzu stuck his head out a little and caught Javi saying he was going to fuck Shoma until he ached.
Usually Yuzu would insert himself between them. Since his lovers were used to it, they would have welcomed him, and he would have been fucked by both. But he didn’t care. Or, more precisely, something else consumed him. He threw himself out of bed. His pale limbs prickled with the morning chill before he drew on his bathrobe and scuffled to the kitchen.
The apartment was too small and he was always telling Javi they should get a bigger one. Javi would shrug and say “it’s the best we can do in Madrid this close to the rink”. So they were stuck in this stupid apartment, with pictures from their travels cluttering every extra space, and the two cats.
Yuzu grabbed a box of cereal out of the cabinet and poured himself a bowl. He heard Shoma make a noise between a sigh and a groan, and he slammed the cabinet door. He went to the refrigerator for milk, poured himself some, and then stomped his way out to the patio. Roni II came in tow, yoweling. Yuzu did not want to deal with him rubbing against his heels, so he shut the patio door on the ginger cat.
The cool city air of Madrid swept against his face and the sun seeped her way through the many ochre and cream and orange spires in the old parts of the city and through the silver and glass spires of the newer, striking the pavement and turning it gold. Madrid was old, Yuzu knew, far older than Sendai. People had been there since the stone age. And yet, surrounded by such beauty, by such age, he still missed Sendai, and Japan. He always missed Japan, a constant toothache. But it was easier here. They had lived in Nagoya for three years, after Yuzu retired and while Shoma still competed. The Japanese media had been so omnipresent that Javi and Yuzu had had trouble with their own coaching careers, simply because the media would descend on them regularly. Especially knowing they were together with Shoma -- it provided so much titillating fodder. So it was better this way; they had all agreed. No-one knew them in Madrid. Javi’s family treated Shoma and Yuzu like their own, Yuzu avoided the press, and Shoma wouldn’t have to be reminded of his family’s silence and coldness since coming out.
But right now, Yuzu missed his mother. She had moved back to Sendai when he retired, He knew she was in a hotel nearby, but it was more than that. He missed it being like it was, when he was in Toronto. When he could just go to his mother and cry about Javi or Shoma, or both, and his mother would hold him and tell him it would be okay. He would still be himself afterwards. He would be more himself. Being with his mother would purge him of doubt and make him feel hard and unyielding. Now he was just left feeling soft and boneless.
What the heck. He would call her anyways.
But his phone was in the bedroom and he could hear Shoma’s shouts now, even from the patio.
Despite his foul mood, Yuzu muttered “Vamos, Javi,” after Shoma’s next shout. Only Javi seemed able to get the otherwise shy Shoma to be so vocal.
He sat in one of the coarse wooden chairs and ate his breakfast. All the while his spirit felt -- kuro. Curiously black. He hadn’t felt something like this since 2017, when he’d injured himself practicing for NHK, and when Javi and Shoma had formed a relationship without him.
He thought of their wedding that evening and only felt dread. It crowded him, as it had the last weeks, and he felt breathless for a moment.
He heard Javi this time, grunting, while Shoma whimpered.
Usually he left when they had sex together because he got too jealous. But right now, he needed something to aleve the pressure in his chest. He got up, and, wobbling a little, took the empty bowl to the sink. There he washed it. He stuck it in the dish drainer and his hands were still damp when he went back to the bedroom.
They both looked at him when he came in. Shoma, with those wide, dark eyes, and Javi with those sweet, honey colored eyes. Both pairs could belie how aggressive they were in the bedroom. They were naked, Shoma on his back, knees hooked around Javi’s wiry shoulders and Javi buried in Shoma. The air was warm, humid, and smelled like fresh cut onions.
“I just want to watch,” Yuzu said in Japanese, sitting on the edge of the bed. There was something true in that, though there was a lump in his throat. A rock of dread, or jealousy -- he didn’t know.
“But Yuzu, you always get jealous,” he replied in Japanese.
“Just let him,” Shoma said. “It’s our wedding day.”
He rubbed his nose against Javi’s and Javi rolled his eyes.
Yuzu admired how well Shoma’s body folded still, though they had not been competitive for some years. He was always very flexible, more flexible than his programs let on.
They began kissing again, slowly, then deeper. Shoma’s fingers carded through the short hair at the back of Javi’s head, and the muscles in Javi’s back and ass tensed and rippled.
Yuzu knew Javi usually topped with Shoma, but seeing it made him a little dizzy. Seeing Shoma open, vulnerable, trusting under Javi, his face full of pleasure, was very strange, and it was not making Yuzu feel any better.
Shoma sighed, and ran his hand down Javi’s shoulder. Javi looped his arm around Shoma’s waist, hoisting him up so he was settled between Javi’s thighs. Shoma moved his legs around Javi’s waist, pulling them closer. He arced beautifully and it immediately reminded Yuzu of the biellmann he caught Shoma demonstrating to his student at the rink.
They were kissing again and Yuzu wished he were in the middle, but it felt . . . rude. Javi growled, fingers buried in Shoma’s hair. They rocked together with increasinging intensity, until the bed bounced and the springs squeaked. Shoma leaned back, put his hand on his cock and stroked. Sweat glinted silver along their temples and between their shoulder blades.
“I’m going to --” Javi managed in Spanish before his eyes closed and his whole body tensed.
“You jerk,” Shoma teased, then bit Javi’s lip.
Shoma’s thick black lashes fluttered like moths in the dark as he came with a cry.
Yuzu wasn’t aroused. He wasn’t jealous. He was afraid.
They crumpled on one another, a tangle of limbs, but they were looking at each other. It was as if Yuzu wasn’t even there. He was nothing.
And that’s what terrified him. The lingering black. Not that they would leave him -- that fear had vanished long ago. No. Of being -- like them. So absorbed into this relationship with them, of being so totally a part of them he would stop being himself, would stop being Yuzuru Hanyu. It was silly maybe, but he had never loved anyone as much as he loved Javi and Shoma. He was sure he would die for either of them. He had given up his homeland for them. He had moved to a foreign place for them and begun his life again, had learned another language. He’d given up his family.
Where did the giving end?
Yuzu left his two lovers and went to take a bath, to see if that would put him in a more optimistic frame of mind.
* * *
The night was black and starless -- kuro, kuro -- the pit of it pressing into his eyes and nostrils and ears and mouth, making Yuzu feel sick so he had to sit down on the wooden bench outside the little stone chapel. His kimono fell heavy around him, and he was suffocated by the weight of non-being, which was approaching, and rapidly. He closed his eyes and dug his fingers into the splintering, sea-sanded wood.
He thought of when he fell in love with Javi. It was with a sudden jerk, during Worlds 2015. You are always the champion in my heart. Those words like a whisper of Spanish jasmine, and they had awakened a yearning in his soul. He thought of their first kiss that very night, ardent, pushing Javi back into the wall while Javi pushed him away, laughing.
“Not so fast, not so fast.”
The first times they’d had sex, fumbling, Yuzu bewildered and angry.
“It’s supposed to be easier than this,” he’d said and Javi and had told him, no, it wasn’t, and then held him until he felt better.
Javi, Javi, Javi, the word a drumbeat in his heart.
He thought of when he fell in love with Shoma. Slowly, over time. Like primrose, their first kiss without Javi watching. Fragrant but not overpowering. Just comforting. Calming. Like home. He didn’t dwell on those first months, when they had hid their flirtation from Javi. Instead he thought of their talks. They could talk about anything: death, cosmology, skating, bees, their families. Instead he thought of the first time they had sex, and how it was easy, sweet and lingering. He’d ridden Shoma breathless, Shoma’s jaw painted red, his dark eyes half lidded, and Yuzu had felt more triumph in that than winning. The feeling had so shocked him that he withdrew, until Shoma grabbed him around the waist and held him.
Shoma, Shoma, Shoma, another drumbeat.
Shoma kicked a pebble as he paced, the drapes of his pale green kimono falling around him. He looked handsome. Javi had said so and Yuzu agreed. There was a flash of pink and red when he turned. Cherry blossoms. Life, death, and rebirth, and the temporary nature of life.
If life is only brief, Yuzu thought, I have to marry them.
For his part, he did not feel the vitality and power of his red kimono, nor the sizzling potency of the phoenix embroidered in it. He felt drained. The black sky pressed down on him and he told himself he could do this. He wanted to marry them. It had been his idea, two years ago. He did. He was just afraid.
Yuzuru Hanyu was afraid, and did not know how to face this fear.
Javi, somber in a dark suit with a tie, checked his watch while they waited on the stony shore for the procession to begin. Many of the wedding party lingered in the background, including his own mother. He wanted to race to her, to throw his arms around her and cry, Mom, I don’t know how to do this.
Yuzu leaned over when he saw something flash in Shoma’s obi.
“What’s that?” Yuzu pointed, grateful for a distraction.
Shoma looked down.
“Oh, that’s just my vows.”
“You wrote them down?”
“Sometimes I’m organized. When it matters,” Shoma said tersely.
“Tuck it in so we can’t see it,” Javi said, his hand in Shoma’s obi. Shoma watched, as though curious, but didn’t say anything.
Yuzu almost laughed. He almost felt left out and therefore, jealous, and this made him feel a little bit more normal.
The salt air blew through and finally the pastor came out of the crowd, chatting cheerfully.
“Are you guys ready?” she asked in English. They had agreed to a mostly English ceremony, as a way of saying “I have come this far for you”. Each of them had left a mother tongue to reach one another.
Yuzu nodded, feeling queasy again. Shoma nodded, and Javi said, “Yes.”
The procession organized itself and began. Yuzu finally, finally put his arms around his mother as she came to the front. She turned and smiled at her son.
“I am so proud of you,” she said in Japanese.
Yuzu felt the rupture truly begin then, a black fracture working its way through him. Because that’s what she used to say, when they lived in Toronto.
Yuzu’s mother lead. It was a Spanish custom for the mother of the groom to give him away, which Yuzu quite liked. His mother lead because both Yuzu and Shoma had come from a long way. And since Shoma had only Itsuki and chosen family remaining, that left Yuzu’s mother.
As she lead them to the chapel, he admired how the lights bobbed on her black and silver hair, how much dignity she had in carrying herself, even with the weighty kimono.
“Am I doing okay?” she whispered to Yuzu.
“You’re doing great,” he said.
“I’m trying not to fall. Stupid stones,” she said.
Yuzu laughed and the fracture deepened.
The procession made it into the church, which was musky, old, and candle-lit. Yuzu’s heart hammered as badly as before any competition. This was really happening. The thing they had talked about, and planned, and paid too much money for, was finally happening.
The bright and reedy notes of a koto reverberated in the air as his mother lead him to the altar.
Yuzu thought: run .
He turned around and there was Javi, whose smile illuminated the dim light, and then Shoma.
Filling the church pews, all dark wood, were each of their families. Javi’s family, from his parents down to his little cousins. Yuzu’s own family, missing his father and some cousins, and not because they couldn’t afford the trip. There was Brian and Tracy, who waved at him. And then Itsuki, Keiji, Jason, Daisuke, and Mihoko were the only ones for Shoma. It would have shattered Yuzu’s heart, if he wasn’t already breathing heavily from panic.
Yuzu stepped onto the altar, followed by Javi and Shoma. His mother smiled at him and stepped away, folding into the wedding party and sitting on the benches with the rest of his family.
He turned to the pastor. He tried to pay attention to her as she spoke, because it was obviously polite, and obviously his wedding. Yuzu choked on his own heart a bit and all he could hear was ai, ai, ai, love, love, love, pure love, but it made him ill, and the black split wider.
The sakasuki arrived and Yuzu groaned inwardly. He had not looked forward to this for a long time.
“So you want a Japanese and Spanish wedding or not?” Shoma sat at the kitchen table during one of their late night planning sessions some months ago, a cold beer sweating at his elbow.
“I want one,” Yuzu had hissed.
“Then we have to bring out the sakasuki.”
“What’s that?” Javi asked, drinking his own beer.
“It’s three different cups of ceremonial sake, stacked on top of each other,” Yuzu explained petulantly. “You take three sips from each cup -- the bride and the groom --”
“Or three grooms,” Shoma said.
“ Or three grooms, ” Yuzu corrected. “There are many ideas about the symbolism of the sake cups though. Some think it’s heaven, earth, and mankind. Others think it’s love, wisdom, and happiness for the marriage. Another says it’s purging the -- triad -- of the three human flaws of hatred, passion, and ignorance.”
“Passion is a flaw?” Javi asked and then winked at both of them.
“I don’t want to drink the sake,” he said.
“Because you’re allergic,” Javi said.
“I’ll break out in hives.”
“We will love your hivey ass anyways,” Shoma said.
“Can’t we drink water?”
Shoma shook his head. “The priest who would do that part of the ceremony said no. He was pretty adamant. And he was the only legitimate guy I could find for a reasonable price.”
So here he was, in front of the Shinto priest who was administering this part of the ceremony, taking a sakazuki cup in hand. He took three quick sips, like they had rehearsed, but with water. The rice wine was so sweet it parched him and he knew he’d have a rash later. But then Javi would soothe it with chamomile lotion, so it made the sake going down a little better. He handed the cup to Javi, on his right, who then handed it to Shoma on his right.
The second cup began with Shoma and ended with Yuzu. This was worse. All the waiting. But he found he could delay his distress by studying Javi and Shoma’s profiles in the candlelight. Their beauty was ethereal.
Shoma’s gentle handsomeness reminded Yuzu of a katana. There was power there, and immeasurable strength, which Shoma’s small stature did not convey until he hit the ice. He was fine forged steel which sang through the air. Unbendable, unbreakable.
Then there was Javi, all angular grace. Javi always made Yuzu think of a river. Whatever hard surfaces there were would be worn away by Javi over time. He was patient as water. He could outlast. He wound his way slowly to where he needed to go.
Yuzu hated them both for their beauty and blinked back tears as Javi handed him the third and last cup.
As the first pastor began talking about the sacredness of making vows, Yuzu thought he might throw up. He had written and rewritten his vows more times than he could count. Sometimes by hand, sometimes on the computer. He had practiced in front of Roni II, and with his mother over the phone, but it didn’t matter. They weren’t adequate for Javi and Shoma. He wasn’t getting married anyways. He knew this even before he found himself leaving the altar and running for the exit.
“Yuzu! Yuzu!,” Javi called, but his voice receded and then vanished altogether as Yuzu left the church.
He crouched amidst the stones and thought of how stupid it was to drive all that way from Madrid just so they could have a seaside wedding. The black sky and black sea of nonthing-ness widened the crack in him until he was splitting open, doubled over, bile in his throat.
He heard footfalls as he vomited, and felt Javi’s cool, firm hands pulling the hair from his face. He shook Javi off.
Both Javi and Shoma had come and he wanted and didn’t want either of them right now. Javi was nearest, while Shoma stood away, salt-wind blowing the folds of his kimono.
“Yuzu, what’s going on?” Javi asked.
Yuzu felt the tears in his eyes.
“I can’t,” he said.
Javi was stroking his back now and the contact was too much. Yuzu shrugged him off. In the vague light cast from the church, Yuzu could tell Javi was hurt. Even if it had been utterly black he would have known, because he knew Javi. Sixteen years would do that. They could be in a room without speaking and know what the other was thinking.
A part of Yuzu’s mind shrieked if you love this man you would marry him , while another part shrieked kuro, kuro, kuro.
“I can’t get married.”
The tears were thick and heavy.
There was a pause. Javi and Shoma looked at each other and Yuzu almost screamed look at ME! I am here! I exist!
“We don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Shoma said in Japanese, stepping forward so that he was right in front of Yuzu. He was so matter-of-fact, it was calming. This was one reason why he had always liked Shoma.
But Yuzu’s mind was still a riot.
“I can’t,” Yuzu said, sniffling and feeling like -- well, shit -- because here they were at the church, ready to get married, and he was baulking.
Shoma took Yuzu’s hands and Yuzu flinched, but he didn’t recoil. Shoma’s smaller hands, with their beautiful nails and gentle palms, soothed him.
“Tell me,” Shoma said in Japanese.
How could Yuzu refuse Shoma, his soft and handsome face, luminous even now, black eyes full of light and life? That face he’d seen angered, and upset and elated? And this morning, seen glowing with pleasure and desire? How could he refuse the man he’d loved for over a decade?
“I won’t be me,” Yuzu felt more tears. “I will just be -- all three of us. I will disappear.”
It sounded stupid when he said it, but that’s what he feared.
Javi looked at him softly, but kept his distance.
Shoma got on his tip-toes. Yuzu curled over so their foreheads would meet, and he welcomed that warm, familiar touch. It grounded him.
“You will forever be Yuzuru Hanyu,” Shoma said. “We have been three for nearly eleven years. Nothing is going to change.”
“But it does change.”
“And it doesn’t,” Shoma countered, pulling back. “Life is change. You told us that once, remember?”
“You are our precious Yuzu. You are my precious Yuzu. You are Javi’s precious Yuzu.”
Yuzu kept his head down so Shoma and Javi wouldn’t see him crying more.
“We don’t have to,” Javi said.
Yuzu wanted his mother to tell him what to do. He closed his salt-rimmed eyes and listened to the sea, the sky. He was afraid. But he was Yuzuru Hanyu. And he had always faced his fears.
“Alright,” he said.
“Okay?” Shoma squeezed his hands.
“Yeah, I’m okay now.”
Shoma let go of his hands and Yuzu felt the loss. He scrubbed his eyes dry on the sleeve of his kimono.
He wasn’t going to kiss either of them because he’d vomited, but Shoma pressed a quick kiss to his lips, and then Javi.
“You guys are gross,” Yuzu said in English as they walked back to the church. He took each of their hands and felt better.
“We’ve both rimmed you,” Javi said cheerfully.
Yuzu shuddered happily at that idea, at the memories.
The church was so quiet, Yuzu felt like it might smother him. He felt eyes on him, the glassy whites bright in the the faint light.
And he felt so embarrassed. Ashamed. He wanted to cover his face. But he was Yuzuru Hanyu, and even though he was afraid, he was going back to the altar with the men he loved. And he faced his mistakes, no matter how mortifying.
Javi put his hand in the small of Yuzu’s back, as if to support him. Yuzu looked at Shoma and then Javi, and thought: I’ve lost all my strength, but from your power, I am able. *
“Well,” the pastor said. “We’re so glad to have you all back.”
Yuzu bowed to the wedding assembly. “I’m so sorry everyone. I’m just very nervous.”
“It’s okay, Yuzu,” Javi said, rubbing his back. Shoma nodded.
“We were getting to the vows,” the pastor said amiably. “Did anyone want to start?”
Yuzu nudged Javi to go first and Javi shook his head at him, though he was smiling.
“Shoma?” he asked.
“You go first,” Shoma said quickly.
The wedding assembly laughed when the translators caught up.
Javi took out a sheet of paper from inside his suit jacket, presumably a pocket, and unfolded it. He cleared his throat.
“Now it’s my turn to be nervous,” he said, and everybody laughed after a minute.
“Shoma,” Javi called.
Shoma looked surprised but Javi gestured. Shoma navigated his way around Yuzu. Yuzu was confused, and then jealous -- angry and red, redder than his kimono. Javi took one of Shoma’s hands in his own while holding the unfolded paper in the other.
“Shoma,” Javi said, voice weak at first, and then gaining strength. “It’s been an honor and joy knowing you. You remind me to be patient and kind. You make me a better coach, a better partner, a better man. I promise to love and cherish you with all I have, for my whole life.”
They kissed and Yuzu still felt jealous, though the vows were also making him teary. The translators were working with fervor.
Shoma stepped back behind Yuzu, which felt oddly comfortable, and not because Yuzu was feeling jealous. It just felt -- like it used to be. Shoma tucked behind him at times.
“Yuzu,” Javi said, taking one of Yuzu’s hands. Javi’s hand was warm and soft.
“Yuzu, we’ve been together for awhile. First as teammates and rivals, then friends, then as lovers. You burn like a fire in me. You remind me to strive for what I think I can’t achieve. I will always try to be my best for you and Shoma because of you. I will love and adore you with all I have, my whole life.”
Their kiss was home, and family too. It reminded him of their first kiss, thirteen years ago.
Javi gently pried Yuzu off him and then nodded to Shoma.
Yuzu growled but stood back to give Shoma room.
Shoma pulled his vows out of his obi and looked at the wedding assembly.
“Hello,” he said, and then gave off that high pitched, squeaky laugh he was especially prone to when he was nervous. Now Yuzu wanted to kiss him.
Shoma turned to Yuzu first, his bright, dark eyes wide and beautiful.
“Yuzu,” he said. “We have been friends a long time. I love you. I am so happy to be with you. I promise to love you forever. And I still want to follow you forever,” he squeaked that last sentence.
There was a lull as Yuzu and Shoma kissed, and it was like home, but a different kind. Javi was home like warmth and sunlight, whereas Shoma was cosy and dim, but both were good in their own ways.
The wedding assembly chuckled once the translators caught up to Shoma’s last line.
They shuffled around so Javi and Shoma would be next to each other.
“Javi,” Shoma said. “I love you. I am so happy to be with you. I will love you forever.”
Javi laughed, and eventually so did the assembly.
“I love them both equally, I can’t just make different vows,” Shoma muttered.
Javi cupped Shoma’s face and kissed him, and Shoma bent into that kiss like a flower bends towards the sun.
Yuzu didn’t feel jealous, because now it was his turn. Yuzu, who had run out on his own wedding like a coward. Like someone who was not, well, him. But he supposed he hadn’t set the church on fire, so maybe that was something.
Yuzu felt the inky black again. He had practiced his vows. He knew them by heart. He wasn’t going to run away.
He drew a breath and felt the resolve in him. Like Shoma’s strength, that katana steel, in his spine.
Things were going to change. Things were going to be different. And that was okay.
“Shoma and Javi really said it all,” Yuzu said. “I had something prepared, but. Javi once said to me I was the ‘champion in his heart’ and I just wanted you both to know you are the champions in my heart. I love you both dearly. With all that I have. And Shoma, you once said that ‘nothing matters except that we love each other’. I think that’s true. We work hard for our love, but nothing else matters.”
It wasn’t bad . Both Javi and Shoma kissed him, Javi cradling the back of his head.
The pastor actually clapped, and so did the assembly, and Yuzu resisted the very potent urge to bow. Yes, I am Yuzuru Hanyu, and yes I completely made up my wedding vows on the spot.
“How lovely,” the pastor said.
She also said something about commitment, about binding people together with a symbol.
Yuzu swallowed back the black rock in his throat.
Keiji came forward with the rings and held them out so that Javi, Shoma, and Yuzu could put them on each other. A little unconventional, but it was nice to see Keiji, and it was better to see how Shoma beamed when he saw Keiji. He had always loved him, Yuzu knew.
They fumbled at first, trying to find whose was whose, since it was three plain, platinum bands (Yuzu wouldn’t have any less). Javi stuck Shoma’s ring on Yuzu’s finger at first.
“No, it’s too small!” Yuzu said.
“That’s not what you said the other night,” Javi whispered.
Shoma, who was in earshot, laughed while Yuzu tried not to blush.
Finally they figured it out and Javi placed a ring on Shoma and Yuzu’s right ring fingers, as was the Spanish custom. Then Yuzu slid Javi’s on.
The pastor said a few words. Again, Yuzu was only half paying attention. He was preoccupied with the weight of the ring on his finger, and the fear it evoked.
The wedding concluded. They left the church, and, as they did, firecrackers popped all around them. Yuzu started.
“It’s a Spanish custom, remember?” Javi said, drawing Yuzu close.
All he had to do was get to Javi’s car. And then the reception, where he and Shoma would change out of the heavy kimonos and into suits. Then the eating and dancing and drinking until late, late, into the night.
Mihoko had come forward to dote on Shoma, as was her way. It didn’t matter that he was thirty.
Javi was talking with his sister about something. And Yuzu’s mother -- he couldn’t see her in the dark.
Yuzu told himself to breathe.
He looked up at the black black sky (kuro, kuro), empty of stars and thought of not being. Maybe that’s what death was. Maybe it was just something which happened. He thought of himself as a light extinguished in that blackness and he found he wasn’t afraid. He thought of Javi and Shoma this morning. Of the three of them a few nights ago, their bodies and laughter and moans mingling. He looked at the ring on his hand and thought: maybe on the other side of nothingness, of non-being, is something.
“Yuzu,” Javi called.
“I’m coming,” Yuzu said.