Victor guided Yuuri off the train, his protective arm around his mate’s shoulder. They weren’t bonded but that was a matter of time at this point. But first, Yuuri wanted to stand on his own, to reclaim the ice and everything else that had been taken from him. Victor merely wanted his family to be safe and happy, and to no longer hide from the public eye. This was the first move towards both of their goals.
The Grand Prix Final was located in Fukuoka, Japan, and the couple were making their way towards the event to meet their friends but to also come out into the public. A private car waited to pick them up and Victor settled Yuuri and the baby before moving to the opposite side. Yuuri gave the driver instructions in Japanese. Victor was becoming more and more conversational but he still held back and let Yuuri handle these situations, not confident to try to his language skills on anyone outside of Hasetsu.
Shizuka dozed away, happy in her winter outfit, a canopy protecting her from the cold. Yuuri had a front pack where he could carry her. At four months, she was alert and loved to look around at the world surrounding her. Victor thought back over those four months, the two of them figuring out how to take care of her, arguing back and forth between co-sleeping and a dedicated bed. Much like with most fights, they ended up somewhere in the middle, a soft crib that defined her space but could be within Yuuri’s reach for midnight and three a.m. feedings.
At the hotel, Victor could already feel the excitement building in both of them. They had booked a room at the event venue, wanting to be near friends and familiar faces, many of which were now aware that Victor was playing papa bear to a new baby and had claimed the beautiful Yuuri Katsuki as his mate. The omega was anxious and eager to meet up with his coach Celestino and former rink mate/best friend Phichit.
“What if I’ve let myself go too much?” Yuuri fussed, looking down at the tiny bit of baby fat he hadn’t worked off. A less discerning eye would never have noticed it. However, Yuuri’s self critical eyes took in his every imperfection, something Victor constantly found himself battling. They would sit in front of a mirror while Victor would point out all of his Yuuri’s beauty.
“My sweet Yuuri,” Victor began. “You have worked hard and, since you’ve been cleared, you continue to be just as dedicated to your training.”
“But...I’m constantly having to stop and...well, be Mom,” Yuuri pouted. “That can’t be good.”
“I think you underestimate the work you put in. Yes, you stop to care for Flip,” he watched in amusement as Yuuri grimaced at the nickname, “But...you’ve always had things that interrupt training. School, friends, sharing a rink.”
Yuuri’s eyes squinted slightly, a shine Victor had learned as Yuuri’s thinking face, the one he adopted when he was considering a different opinion from his own...a rarity. “And...I don’t really have to share facilities.” Yuuri chewed his lip before asking, “But what about you...are you sure? Training me...is it enough?”
Victor smiled, he would never be able to convince Yuuri that his time away from the ice had been the best of his entire life. Back in Russia he lived in an apartment full of trinkets, expensive clothes, and even a few marble busts, but none of that mattered to him more than the pink Gucci shoes that Flip had thrown up on just last week. “I train you, I choreograph programs for others, I take care of you and Flip, I help out at the onsen and restaurant, and...I have a family. You give me so much of what I’ve been missing. You are my life, my love...and I wouldn’t trade those things for all of the gold medals in the world.”
Yuuri sighed before nodding, reaching across the car seat to take his hand. The legend he had a crush on his childhood had turned out so much better in real life as the flawed, silly man next to him. “I guess...it’s time to face the world, then,” Yuuri determined.
Victor smiled warmly. “I’m with you the entire journey.” Victor got out of the car and walked around to help out his mate and daughter while the driver unloaded their luggage. The porter loaded the pile with expert ease. Yuuri smirked at the amount of luggage needed for traveling with a baby and Victor. At least they didn’t have all of his skate gear this time.
They entered the hotel and Victor guided him over to reception and soon they were headed up to their room with their keycards. They arrived early and had taken care to cover up so they could get settled first, ahead of the paparazzi and any fans.
In their room, Victor went through the space marking it with his scent while Yuuri stripped off the layers so he could feed Shizuka. She was already tugging his shirt down when she found his nipple and latched on. Yuuri’s expression softened. She had taken to him right away and that closeness helped the bond he felt with his daughter. His mother would often sit with him as he nursed, reminding him of what a struggle he was, anxiously watching the world around him.
He held her cradled to his chest when a knock tapped at the door. Yuuri’s eyes followed Victor as he opened the door a peak. The friendly Swiss voice in the hallway announced their guest and Victor turned back to see Yuuri nodding, which was all the signal he needed to open the door wider. In walked Chris and a less familiar face, the latter carrying a little curly headed blond with green eyes looking around the room curiously. “Chris! Lawrie!” Victor greeted them, embracing them as they came inside. “Is this baby Gabriel?” Victor’s eyes were wide and tender as he took the boy from the tired omega’s hands. Chris was already kneeling before Yuuri.
“She’s beautiful,” he murmured, his expression tender as he studied Shizuka in her mother's lap.
Yuuri’s eyes remained on his daughter greedily suckling. “She’s a little piglet!”
“My little kobuta-chan,” Victor echoed with a grin. His eyes widened as the little one came off Yuuri’s breast and reached for her Papa. Victor handed Gabriel over and gathered his daughter up, giving her a good pat as Yuuri covered up. Her nose went directly to his scent gland and he scented her back as the doctors had instructed he keep doing for the first year. “So how was your trip?” Victor asked warmly.
“Not bad considering we were flying with our little angel,” Chris decided.
Yuuri’s eyebrows furrowed. “Did he fly well?” and the chew of his lip told everyone he was thinking about when Shizuka would fly.
Lawrie laughed a little lying his son on his lap to let the chubby hands grab his fingers. “A little fussy on takeoff but feeding him helped his ears pop and he was fine,” Lawrie assured the other mother.
Yuuri looked over at his daughter who normally got sleepy after a feeding pulling her head off Victor’s shoulder to investigate the three new people in the room. He wasn’t convinced that she would do well on a flight. “I’m just glad the Final is in Fukuoka,” Yuuri confessed. “Otherwise, I may not have come.”
“Your friend Phichit is here, though,” Chris pointed out.
Yuuri smiled and nodded. “Not yet or he’d be in here already, but yes. Victor’s going to meet with my coach about my training and they are going to work out a schedule. I think Coach is going to watch me skate while he’s here.”
Chris’ hazel eyes sparkled with admiration and something that looked like a challenge, “So you are coming back to the ice,” the Swiss skater confirmed and with Yuuri’s nod, he turned to Victor and added, “And you’re not?”
Victor sighed. It was part of an ongoing argument. Yuuri even insisted they could all train in Russia. Victor, however, wanted to focus on his family, on his Yuuri. And at almost twenty-eight, how many more seasons could he have? “It’s best for my family if I remain out of competition,” Victor stated but heard a huff from his mate. “And it’s my decision.” He added turning to see Yuuri’s lips twitch in irritation.
Chris quickly saw that he had opened a can of worms Victor had been trying to close for four months. “Perhaps once you get Yuuri settled into his training routine…”
Another huff and then Yuuri cut in stating, “Yuuri is in his training routine. Vitya refuses to try and see if this will balance.”
Victor bounced his daughter on his shoulder, sensing her tension with Yuuri’s annoyance. Their bond is so strong. It’s like she’s still attached in some ways. He only wished he could tell him of how much more important this was, and how it was what he wanted. “One of us will have to be with Flip and it may as well be me!” Victor argued.
Yuuri rose to walk to Victor’s side. “I could make the exact same argument! I am her mother...the one with the breasts feeding her.”
“You’re younger and have more years,” Victor interjected.
“You’re older and have a title to defend,” Yuuri possetted. He turned to his daughter leaning her cheek to Victor’s shoulder once more, blue eyes locking on his. Yuuri’s fingers moved to settle her as the little one began to wiggle and squirm at the upset. “It’s okay, Shizuka. Papa is just being stubborn.”
“No more than Mama,” Victor muttered under his breath.
Chris and Lawrie exchanged looks and finally Lawrie inserted, “Well, I think we’re going to get settled into our room. I look forward to dinner. Good afternoon, gentlemen.” And then he firmly guided Chris out.
“I didn’t mean to start a fight,” Chris defended as they left the room.
“No, you didn’t...you just want Victor to compete almost as much as his mate,” Lawrie stated as he pulled Chris down the hall. He may be omega, but he wasn’t dominated. In fact, Chris was putty in his hands.
Yuuri settled Shizuka into her bed, a cloth covered bassinet with a pattern of skates and ballet shoes. Yuuri liked it because she could sleep next to him without giving up her space. Victor thought of the unused crib in their room. Sometimes he just wanted to be intimate with his mate without worrying about whether or not the baby could see them. When he complained to Takeshi, the younger father laughed declaring he’s still tumbling girls out of his bed. But hey, it was good birth control . Victor didn’t feel reassured by that statement.
“I could call down and have them bring up a crib,” Victor suggested.
Yuuri screwed up his face in horror. “You don’t know how clean they are, who’s slept in them, pooped in them...no, she’s fine in her bed. It smells like us.”
“It’s just that…” A soft whine slipped from his lips and Yuuri’s expression gentled, his hand going up to cup his mate’s cheek.
“I promise to move her to the bed once the crib will no longer contain her,” Yuuri reassured him. Except, Victor suspected that Yuuri would have a hard time being far from her. It was one of the many things discussed in therapy. And deep within, Victor knew if having the baby close gave Yuuri the reassurance he needed, he’d always cave to that need.
“I’m sorry,” Victor murmured, turning into Yuuri’s touch. “I want to...be close to you.”
Yuuri settled her into the bassinet before leaning up on his knees to kiss Victor, resting their foreheads together before continuing. “We are close. Even when we disagree. I love you. Shizuka loves you. You aren’t discounted. You’re not overlooked.”
Victor felt frustrated. Yuuri always analyzed and took things deep even when it’s straight forward. “I didn’t...Yuuri...I want to make love to you.”
Yuuri started, glancing down at the infant, eyes closed, sucking on her fist. “She’s asleep.”
“What if she wakes up?” Victor whined.
Yuuri chuckled softly, moving into his space. The kiss was slow and languid and Victor could feel his inhibitions slipping when someone knocked on the door.
“Fuck!” he said under his breath.
Yuuri grinned knowing Victor only succumbed to profanity when he was most frustrated. “Later…” he promised. Yuuri backed off the bed leaving Victor to try and straighten himself out as his mate answered the door.
Phichit stood on the other side. “Do I get to see my niece?” he asked without preamble.
“Shhhh,” Yuuri murmured with a soft giggle. “She’s sleeping.” Yuuri led him across the room and soon Phichit was a bundle of gasps and coos at the adorable infant.
The Thai skater finally lifted his head, a smile on his face. “I can’t believe you made such an adorable human!”
“Hey!” Yuuri protested but his eyes laughed in response.
Sitting back, Phichit sobered. “So...are you really going to do it?”
“The interview is set with both Marooka-san and the American reporter Nick Zaccardi with NBC Sports,” Yuuri confirmed. “I need to face my demons.”
Phichit nodded, his expression grim. “Coach and I are behind you all the way. You know this.” Phichit searched his friend’s expression for reassurance. He knew that Yuuri was angry at the situation, angry at how he felt shoved aside, but there was still a difficult meeting between the skater and former coach that needed to happen.
Yuuri sighed but nodded. “I’m nervous but the attorneys assure me that legally, I’m protected. There may be some posturing. At worst, my...my rapist...he’ll come after me in the courts. However, I’m protected by law in the state of Michigan. I have more than enough grounds to prove rape in a civil court. Criminal court is another matter...thanks to the university's interference.”
“And you’re going against the university,” Phichit confirmed.
“It’s their interference that made a proper police investigation impossible. So yes.” He swallowed as he heard the tremor in his voice. He could feel his mate move close to him. Victor’s hand moved up and down Yuuri’s back to settle the omega. If going against a single person for rape would be a difficult battle, taking down an institution looked insurmountable. But he knew the university was in the wrong. Yuuri took a deep breath and added, “I think it’s important I make this fight.”
Phichit’s smile was wide and his dark eyes sparkled. “I agree...I just don’t want you to be blindsided.”
Yuuri smiled gratefully. “Me, neither.”
Victor slipped his arms around Yuuri’s waist from behind, something else they continued to work through in therapy. Sometimes Yuuri still stiffened but it was better. He also knew that occasionally, Yuuri would come undone, sinking into memory. Three days of torment and torture all hitting him at once. Yuuri talked about it more and more, not just to his therapist, not just to Victor, but to his mother, father, sister, best friends, and coaches. Yuuri reached out to Celestino two months ago pushing him to seek counseling, telling him that what happened was not his fault. Now, Yuuri stood much stronger than a year ago; he was ready to face the injustices that he had been dealt in Detroit.
Yuuri shifted in his sleep and Victor turned to settle him into his arms. The younger man sought his scent unconsciously, calming once he knew Victor was near. Victor stared up at the ceiling, worry in his thoughts. He was in the lengthy and difficult process of adopting their daughter, granting her the legal name of Shizuka Victorivna Katsuki-Nikiforova. They kept experiencing delays in the legal process, however. It was already difficult that Victor was not Japanese, but made more so that Yuuri had to prove there wasn’t a known alpha. An ugly prejudice that did little more than hurt victims of rape and abuse under the guise of “omega protection”.
Victor sighed, trying to shut his own mind down. He knew not to share these worries with Yuuri, especially before bedtime, especially before a breaking press conference, but he didn’t want anything or anyone to threaten his daughter or his mate.
Yuuri whined in his sleep and Victor knew his worry had leaked through his scent. Victor leaned in and brushed a kiss into Yuuri’s raven hair and felt the younger man snuggle impossibly closer to him. Victor’s hand went to the space where Yuuri’s shirt rolled up revealing skin and the dimple just above his ass. The simple sight of his Yuuri’s dimple was enough to bring a soft laugh to his throat, and next to him Yuuri hummed happily in his sleep. He moved his fingers in soothing movements. Tomorrow. It all comes out tomorrow.