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Fiancés Wear Gucci

Chapter Text

He was happy. He was the happiest man alive. So why did he have to keep telling himself that?

Victor Nikiforov, editor-in-chief of Runway, a famous women’s fashion magazine, stood before a mirror and adjusted his shirt.

Even his reflection was giving him the look of someone who wasn’t fooled.

Any minute now his dear fiancé would come in, see the look on his face and ask if something was wrong. And Yuuri Katsuki, who also just so happened to be a journalist for the New Yorker (as well as the best fiancé in the world) was the one person Victor couldn’t lie to. No, not just could: would dare lie to.

“Good morning!” Yuuri came in, a big smile on his face. He planted a kiss on Victor’s cheek.

“You’re cheerful this morning,” Victor said, his smile sincere now.

“It’s this article,” Yuuri told him. “I don’t know if you’ve read it, but it’s in every single newspaper.” He took his phone out of his pocket to show a headline.

The Editor of Runway Pops the Question at Last,” Victor read.

Yuuri caught the expression on his face and put an arm around him. “Is something wrong?” he asked softly.

Feeling trapped by a question he didn’t know how to answer, Victor looked away.

“It will be fine,” Yuuri assured him and pressed another kiss to his cheek, “and you need to stop feeling so guilty,” he added in a whisper.

“I’m just…” Victor raised his eyes again. “I can’t suppress the feeling that some dark secret from my past is about to surface and ruin everything.”

Yuuri stepped back and gave him an odd look. “Do you have a dark secret in your past?”

Victor chuckled and took Yuuri’s hand. “You tell me.”

Yuuri laughed softly. There was that twinkle in his eyes that Victor had never seen in anyone else’s.

Victor adjusted the handkerchief in Yuuri’s breast pocket and took his face with both hands, bringing his mouth close for a proper kiss.

I can deal with any dark secret as long as I’m with you, Victor thought, feeling Yuuri step closer and trail his fingers up Victor’s back. Heart beating fast, Victor let his mind drift off, losing himself in every sensation.

Yuuri pulled away. “I… we… um,” he cleared his throat, “work… uh…” he stammered out.

Victor stepped closer and buried his nose in Yuuri’s hair just behind his ear. “Do we have to go?” he whispered.

A blush spread over Yuuri’s cheeks. “I will come visit you right before lunch,” he promised and trailed a finger down Victor’s handkerchief.

“I’ll wait for you.” Victor pulled Yuuri into an embrace and whispered something into his ear that made Yuuri turn bright red.

 

A nitpicker would say that Victor didn’t really wait for Yuuri: he spent his entire morning going over the next collection.

His two assistants took notes as he and Chris went over what the designers had put together. They didn’t just go over the collection: to the designers it seemed as if they bulldozed over it. Nothing was good enough. Everything was unoriginal or uninspired.

Partway through Victor turned away from the rack of clothes and launched into a lecture.

He thought that they’d all worked for him long enough to know how to do their jobs properly. He didn’t expect to have to tell them what they should already know.

“Fashion isn’t about nice clothes,” he said coldly. “It’s about making a statement, having some kind of meaning behind it all. But unless your statement is that you have no sense of fashion whatsoever,” he thought of Yuuri and threw a quick glance at the clock on the wall, “then I’d say that you failed to make any statement at all. Wouldn’t you?”

They stammered out something incoherent and he gave an exasperated sigh.

Victor threw another glance at the clock. Another 2 hours and 15 minutes.

He turned and met the second assistant’s eye. “Get me a coffee, Minami, please. Make it black.”

The assistant ran out and Victor dropped into a chair, folding his arms over his chest.

“Well, I think we aren’t completely doomed,” Chris began, making two steps towards him. “I see some elements that we can work with…”

By the time Minami returned with the coffee Victor and Chris were designing the fourth piece, all their troubles seemingly forgotten.

Victor only got even more carried away after that, which was why when one of his assistants came in to let him know that Mr. Yuuri Katsuki was here he was caught momentarily off guard.

“Thank you,” he said and then gave Chris a look. “I will return after lunch,” he told his old friend, “and I’ll go over what you came up with then.”

That said, he almost ran out of the room. Not only did he not like making Yuuri wait for him, but he was impatient to see Yuuri. He cursed himself for not scheduling the meeting in his own office as he hurried down several halls and then took the elevator up to the top floor.

He found Yuuri in his office with a big square bag in his hand.

“Yuuri!” he exclaimed, as if they hadn’t seen each other for months. He kissed Yuuri on the cheek. “What is this?” he asked, indicating the bag.

Yuuri held it out to him. “My engagement present to you.”

“But I didn’t get you one!” he protested.

“You mean the three presents last week don’t count?” Yuuri teased him.

Victor chuckled. “I mean today. I didn’t get you one today.” He accepted the bag and looked inside it. All he could see was a white box. “What is it? Or would you prefer to keep it a surprise?”

“It’s clothes,” Yuuri told him. Victor’s face must’ve given away the first thought that came to his mind, because he added, “I asked Phichit to design something unique for you.” He hesitated. “You don’t mind wearing something he designed, do you?”

“Not when it’s a present from you, Yuuri,” Victor told him, relaxing slightly. Yuuri had no sense of fashion whatsoever (and followed a guidebook when deciding what to wear every day), but Phichit was the editor of a men’s fashion magazine and knew what he was doing. “Do you want me to try it on now?” Victor offered.

Yuuri nodded. “I was hoping you would wear it to lunch.”

They headed down to the Closet together.

As soon as they reached the right floor and the elevator doors opened Yuuri took Victor’s hand, holding on tightly. This place was full of all kinds of memories for both of them. For Yuuri, he suspected, most of them were too painful to talk about. All he could hope for was that his presence and love for Yuuri would help him face them.

They passed row after row of clothes made by the most famous designers in the world as well as stacks of bags and shelves full of every accessory anyone would ever need. It made the place into a kind of fashion museum.

At the very back was a line of fitting rooms. They were all empty at the moment and Victor got to choose whichever he liked.

Yuuri stayed outside.

The editor took his time to get dressed, taking great care with each part of the outfit from the red pants, to the red vest and the red jacket. He hesitated before buttoning up the vest, distracted by the big opening at the top.

The curtain parted. “Are you d–” Yuuri smiled. He stepped up to Victor and buttoned up the vest himself. “I’m glad it suits you so well,” he said softly and his face turned as red as the suit.

Victor held his breath as Yuuri’s hands rose, hesitated and then traced out the heart-shaped opening in the vest, right over the middle of his chest, his fingers moving over bare skin.

“Will you wear it for the rest of the day?” Yuuri asked.

The fashion designer in Victor jumped in before he could even think about his answer. “It’s more of a date outfit than a work one,” he said and mentally kicked himself.

“R-right…” Yuuri took his hands away.

Victor caught both of Yuuri’s hands. “But I’ll wear it for the rest of the day gladly.” He leaned forward to whisper, “And at night too, if you want.”

There was no mistaking the expression on Yuuri’s face when he raised his eyes.

“I’d offer to skip lunch,” Victor went on, encouraged by Yuuri’s response, “but there is someone waiting for us and I need to thank him for such an interesting piece.”

Yuuri slid a finger down the middle of Victor’s chest and then pressed his lips against Victor’s skin.

“You’re only making it harder, you know,” Victor whispered.

Yuuri raised his head. “Sorry,” he whispered back, but there was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes that made Victor’s heart race.

“I love you,” Victor said. It felt so good to be able to say the words out loud and to hear them said in return. What more could he possibly need?

 

Half an hour later they arrived at the restaurant, their cheeks still a little red. Victor knew Phichit would see what went on between the two of them, but in that moment he couldn’t care less. He put his hand over Yuuri’s and smiled at their friend.

“I’ll need to come up with a good way to thank you for this,” he said. He looked at Yuuri. “I can’t remember how many other presents made me this happy.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Phichit said.

It was a lunch unlike any other. He and Yuuri had come up with a private code and had a secret conversation on the side while they ate. Or, to be more specific, they made plans for the night.

 

Victor was still smiling happily when he returned to his office. Then he remembered about his big problem. No, he wasn’t worried about what would go into the next issue: that was a problem he was convinced he could solve. There was something else that was giving him a lot of trouble: what would he and Yuuri wear to their wedding?

He’d already worked out the perfect venue (that hadn’t been difficult – there was really only one venue in New York where Victor Nikiforov would get married). No, the big problem was one that he knew he had to get right, not only for his own peace of mind, but also because the fashion world was watching.

He found himself so concerned by this that as he reviewed every piece put together for the next collection he found himself evaluating it based on whether it would make good wedding wear or not. Needless to say, none of the pieces passed his criteria.

But evening came and he had his dinner with Yuuri to think about. This time he was determined to use all the weapons at his disposal.

He went down to the second floor and caught the hair stylists and makeup artists as they were about to leave.

They froze before him with terrified looks on their faces. He let his eyes pass over them slowly before making his choice. “Georgi,” he said, nodding at the head of hair and makeup, “I need your help with something. The rest of you can go.”

He waited for them to leave before stating his request. “I have an important dinner with my fiancé tonight.” Knowing that Georgi needed no other explanation, he sat down in one of the seats in front of the long wall of mirrors.

It wasn’t exactly a special dinner. Or, to be more precise, every dinner with Yuuri was special, but this time he had the red suit at his disposal, which meant that if he put in a little more effort, then, perhaps, he’d get a little more.

He did his best to forget that this was Yuuri Katsuki who wouldn’t catch the nuances of Victor’s appearance and thought instead in terms of what would make him look better in Yuuri’s eyes. He just needed to look really good.

Georgi followed the tradition set down by all hair stylists and barbers everywhere and chatted away about something on the news. Victor made a few non-committal noises in reply.

Yuuri had a lot of opinions about current events, most of which he published for the world to read. Some mornings Victor would try to talk to him about it, but too often he would get lost and just nod along.

He trusted Yuuri to be right and soon found himself adopting all of the journalist’s opinions.

As soon as Georgi alluded to a topic that was sensitive for Yuuri, Victor stated Yuuri’s opinion in a tone of voice that suggested that it was the absolute truth and that no more discussion was required.

“Ready to get married, Victor?” Georgi asked in the voice of someone scraping the bottom of the barrel of conversation topics.

“Almost,” Victor admitted.

Georgi finished and put his hands on either sides of the chair. “What do you think?” he asked, nodding at Victor’s reflection.

A smile spread over Victor’s face and he gave a nod of approval.

 

His reward came not too long after: it was in the way Yuuri looked at him when he got to their table at the restaurant and the way he continued to gaze at him all through dinner.

Victor smiled and took his time eating. He asked how Yuuri’s day went. Yuuri’s hand rested on Victor’s the whole time. Under the table Yuuri pressed his knee lightly against Victor’s.

It was like the end of a very good first date. Yuuri watched him like something new he’d just discovered and Victor’s heart beat fast as if they’d never done any of this before.

They held hands in the back of the car and spoke very little on the way home.

“You’re beautiful,” Yuuri finally whispered.

“And you’re too handsome for words,” Victor countered as if it was some kind of competition.

Yuuri laughed softly and rubbed his thumbs over Victor’s knuckles.

It was getting hard to breathe. Victor knew what it meant when Yuuri kept himself under control so well in the car.

They went up to their apartment, arm in arm, as innocently as before.

As soon as the door closed Yuuri picked Victor up in his arms and carried him into the bedroom where he lay him down on the bed. He took Victor’s shoes off, tossing them aside one by one. He placed a hand on the bed on either side of him to lean forward for a kiss. There was no holding back this time.

Victor’s head dropped onto the pillow and he pulled Yuuri down with him. Take me, he urged Yuuri on, forget everything else, just take me.

Yuuri pulled away, almost taking Victor up with him, and sat up. He undid Victor’s pants and slid them off his hips slowly, pausing as he noticed what Victor wore under them.

That afternoon Victor had smiled confidently as he pulled on a pair of underwear that was all straps and lace and, if truth be told, was more a thong than anything else. Now he was blushing at the way Yuuri stared at it.

Yuuri removed Victor’s pants as if he hadn’t stopped. Victor’s socks went next and finally Victor’s jacket (which, like his pants, Yuuri was very careful to drape over a nearby chair).

Victor lay on the pillow and waited. Yuuri had removed the clothes very slowly, as if he was unwrapping Victor and the thought was making it hard to breathe.

Yuuri leaned down and kissed Victor’s chest.

“Yuuri…” Victor whispered, pulling his fingers through his fiancé’s hair. Yuuri, you don’t need to take your time. You don’t need to be so gentle with me.

As if he’d spoken the words out loud, Yuuri raised his head and whispered. “You need another vest like this one that opens wide enough to show your nipples.” He blushed and trailed a thumb up over Victor’s skin.

Victor closed his eyes.

Yuuri’s tongue followed his thumb.

“Take me,” Victor whispered and got another kiss pressed to his chest. Victor kept his eyes closed as Yuuri slid his underwear off.

Their wedding was a few months away and he wasn’t ready at all. The question of what they would wear rose in his mind, but only for a second, because in the next minute he became all too aware of Yuuri’s presence between his thighs.

I will fight for your love every day of my life, he promised Yuuri mentally. He gripped the bedsheets under him and gasped.

Yuuri released him and sat up. Victor opened his eyes and watched Yuuri undress. This time Yuuri rushed through every button, getting so carried away he wasn’t even blushing anymore. He tossed his clothes in the general direction of the chair and it was a miracle that they made it there at all.

And even when he was completely naked he sat before Victor, his expression gentle and his fingers slipping over Victor’s skin the same way they’d traced out the heart on his chest. This time Yuuri’s fingers were lower and under Victor.

Victor waited for Yuuri to turn him over, his eyes fixed on his fiancé.

“I got a new scent this time,” Yuuri told him, his fingers sliding down, around and then up. “I thought you’d like this one more. I’ll get it in a minute.” There was the blush again. “I was thinking about our wedding night recently…” He lowered his eyes, his eyes falling on where his hands were now as if they weren’t his hands, as if he wasn’t the one stroking Victor.

“And?” Victor asked as a shudder passed through his body.

Yuuri’s eyes trailed up over Victor. “I was… I guess I was wondering if we should take it as an excuse to do something special. What do you think?”

“I’ll do anything you want.” The response had come to him without thinking.

“No, no,” Yuuri shook his head, “it needs to be something both of us want.” He sat up straighter, as if they were having a serious conversation over breakfast, as if he wasn’t sitting between Victor’s legs, as if they weren’t in the middle of having sex. His hands moved aside to rest on Victor’s thighs. “I won’t settle for something that only I want.”

“How are you so perfect?” Victor whispered.

“Wh-what?” Yuuri turned bright red. “I’m not!”

“Are you sure you want to marry me?” Victor went on.

“Victor!” Yuuri leaned down and pressed his nose against Victor’s. “I couldn’t be more sure of anything in my life,” he said.

Victor closed his eyes and gave an unconvinced sigh.

Yuuri rubbed his nose against Victor’s cheek. “Let’s take a bath together,” he whispered.

“Yes…” Victor breathed out. He felt Yuuri’s fingers scramble up to the buttons of his vest, their faces still wonderfully close. Yuuri pulled the vest open and sat up, taking Victor with him so he could slide the vest off and take him to the bathroom.

There was something incredible in crossing the room, hand in hand and wearing absolutely nothing.

He watched Yuuri turn the taps on and fill the bathtub with soap bubbles, taking care to get the water’s temperature just right.

“Shall we?” Yuuri asked, motioning at the bathtub once it was full.

Victor nodded and climbed in first. He waited for Yuuri to climb onto his lap, but Yuuri slipped in behind him and wrapped both arms and legs around Victor, planting a kiss on the back of his neck.

Yuuri’s hands slid down over Victor’s chest. “I love you,” he whispered, “so much.”

Victor breathed slowly, letting the hot water drain all the tension out of him and for Yuuri’s words to sink deep into his bones. Yuuri rubbed his shoulders, getting a quiet groan out of Victor.

What more did he need? Wasn’t this perfect?

But deep inside Victor was that drive to get more. He needed a perfect wedding. He needed to fight to keep his position in the fashion world.

“Stop worrying,” Yuuri whispered, “isn’t that what you often tell me?”

He reclined his head and Yuuri planted kisses on his neck. “Yes…”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Yuuri offered after a while.

“It’s not… I can deal with it,” Victor assured him, “honestly.” He slid a hand up to catch the side of Yuuri’s head. “You’re right: I’m worrying too much about it.”

“So you’re ready to have sex with me now?” Yuuri asked.

“Right here?”

Yuuri chuckled. “I was thinking of going back to bed so you could put that vest back on, but right here is fine too.” There was a short pause filled with another two kisses. “What would you prefer?” he whispered right into Victor’s ear and pressed his lips against Victor’s earlobe.

“Let’s go back,” Victor decided. “You’re right: I need to wear that vest as you make love to me.”

Yuuri moved Victor’s hair gently out of his way and kissed behind Victor’s ear. “Let’s go.”

 

Morning came and this time Yuuri was the first to wake up. They’d fallen asleep facing each other, arms wrapped around one another for comfort.

Yuuri looked into Victor’s sleeping face and trailed a finger down his cheek. His hair still had curls from the evening before, despite the fact that they’d gotten really carried away this time. It made Yuuri feel even more dishevelled than he probably was.

“I love you,” Yuuri whispered even though Victor couldn’t hear him.

The man had no idea how charming he could be. He’d bewitched Yuuri over dinner. If they hadn’t already been engaged, Yuuri would’ve proposed right there and then, whether he was actually ready to do it or not.

Victor slept on, but even now there was a little crease of worry in between his eyebrows. Yuuri kissed it and the crease flattened out.

Every day he learned more about his fiancé. He’d learned to understand how he felt at a single gesture, a single look and he did his best to make Victor acknowledge his own feelings too. He taught Victor how to talk about them and not keep them bottled up inside.

He smiled at the heart-shaped hole in the vest and pressed his face against it. I love you and I want to make you happy. Everything will be fine, I’m sure of it!

Chapter Text

It was April, which meant that, once again, it was time for the Paris Fashion Show – an event that Victor dreaded with every fibre of his being. It was also the event he’d spent every waking moment preparing for. Paris was every couple’s dream destination. It was just a shame that the city carried so many painful memories for the two of them. Victor avoided mentioning the city to Yuuri as if it was some sort of curse.

Paris was where they’d broken up a million years ago (in another lifetime, as he often tried to tell himself). He knew it had all been his fault, but he couldn’t help shifting some of the blame on Paris.

City of lovers, yeah right!

There was a week left before he had to go and still he hadn’t mentioned it to Yuuri.

The door of his office opened, admitting his second assistant. “I brought your coffee,” the boy said, setting two cups down on the table. “About… um… Fashion Week. Do you want… Should I buy another ticket for…” The words froze on his lips under Victor’s icy stare.

“Yes?” He braced himself for the question.

“Will… Will your fiancé be going with you to Paris?” And there it was.

“I don’t know,” Victor answered.

“Do-do you want me to call him to confirm?” Minami offered.

Victor wasn’t sure how, but Yuuri was on good terms with both of his assistants. More than that, he was good friends with Yuri, his first assistant. He wasn’t sure what the relationship between Minami and Yuuri was, especially since Minami now had what used to be Yuuri’s job.

“No,” he said dryly. “This is a conversation I need to have with him myself.” He did. He knew he did, but he kept procrastinating it, terrified of what it would stir up for both of them.

“Thank you.” The conversation over, Minami nearly ran from the room.

Victor glanced at the clock. It was almost time for lunch. Well, maybe now was as good a time as any.

 

Something was bothering Victor, Yuuri could feel it. He’d seen it in the way Victor had acted that morning. But what could is possibly be? Whatever it was, it was making it hard for him to focus on his work and he kept throwing looks at the time, urging it to go faster.

He needed to see Victor and he needed to get it out of him before it got out of control.

Someone dropped by his desk for a conversation, as if they could see how much agony he was in and wanted to make it worse.

Finally the time for lunch came and he left his desk with a determined step. He stopped by the bathroom to fix his clothes in front of the mirror and brush his hair. A small adjustment here and another there and he was ready.

He stepped out of the building and there Victor was – a bouquet of flowers in his hands and a happy smile on his face. “Hello, Yuuri!”

“What’s the occasion?” Yuuri asked, taking the flowers from him. He panicked. Was it their anniversary and he’d somehow forgotten?

Victor lowered his eyes. “Well, I suppose it’s a way of me saying sorry.”

“For what?” he asked, feeling really alarmed now.

Victor motioned at his car. “Can we talk inside?”

Yuuri nodded and climbed in, moving aside to make room for Victor next to him.

The flowers were beautiful and very carefully arranged. There were roses of several colours in the bouquet, a few flowers he couldn’t name, lace all around it and several ribbons holding everything together. It could almost have been a wedding bouquet and must have cost a fortune.

Yuuri’s heart fell. “What is this about?” he asked again.

He saw how Victor avoided making eye contact with him, how the man did all those little things that gave away how terrified he was and how he was trying his best to hide it. “I’m going to Paris next week,” he finally said. Another long agonizing silence passed. “For Paris Fashion Week.” His eyes were closed, as if he’d lit a fuse and was waiting for the explosion that would follow.

Yuuri breathed out. That’s what it was all about.

“But that’s not important!” Victor suddenly protested. “I mean – I can send someone to go in my place. There’s a dance…”

Yuuri put his hand on Victor’s and the man stammered to a halt. Their eyes met.

Yuuri knew nothing about fashion, that much was true, but he knew enough about the fashion world to be able to imagine the kind of scandal that would follow if Victor skipped Fashion Week. That the editor of one of the major fashion magazines would miss a fashion show was unthinkable.

“I want to go with you,” Yuuri said, “to Fashion week.”

“Are you sure?” Victor asked.

Yuuri slid closer to him. “Definitely.”

“But what about your job?”

Yuuri couldn’t help smiling at that question. “I’ll get him to give me an assignment to work on while I’m there. I don’t think he’ll argue if I cover all the trip expenses myself.”

“I’ll get one of my assistants to find you a ticket,” Victor promised.

And that seemed to be it. A few words and the problem was sorted out.

After a long pause Victor said, “I hate Paris. I never enjoy Paris Fashion Week and I never get the chance to explore the city.”

Yuuri lowered his eyes to the bouquet. “Maybe we should do that this time.”

Victor put an arm around him. He leaned close to say something, maybe drop a suggestion into Yuuri’s ear about something else they could do in Paris, but the car stopped, cutting him off. They’d arrived.

 

When Victor returned from lunch he was in a much better mood than he’d been that morning. He stopped at the second assistant’s desk on his way to his office. “Minami, I need a second ticket to Paris. Also, find out if there are any events during Fashion week that we can attend in the evening.”

 

It was all so easy, as if someone had waved a magic want and made everything appear out of thin air. Here was the ticket. Here was the permission to leave and an assignment for Yuuri’s trip. There was, of course, a mad scramble on Yuuri’s part to pack everything he needed, but that was a minor detail. Minami had even managed to get two tickets to a costumed ball (of all places!).

Yuuri had no time to really think about where they were going, not until they arrived at the airport check in desk and Paris appeared on all the screens, following them around.

His grip on Victor’s hand didn’t tighten and he went on smiling as if it was just another trip together. It was fine. Everything would be fine, of course it would.

This time they wouldn’t attend the fashion show together: Yuuri would spent the days working so that his evenings would be free. They’d agreed on this before even leaving New York.

 

Yuuri raised his eyes at the apartment as he stepped out of the car and braced himself for the memories that would hit him. But they weren’t there. Even when they both entered the apartment nothing happened. He looked around in confusion.

But they’d spent several days here, hadn’t they? Why did the place feel so foreign to him?

He caught the expression on Victor’s face and gave him a questioning look.

“I redecorated completely,” he explained and disappeared into one of the rooms.

Yuuri walked through the living room and into the kitchen where the chef (a different one from last time) was making them dinner. He walked down a corridor with a sad sigh. It really was completely different. He barely recognized the place. It was probably for the best.

He turned around and went to find Victor, catching the editor halfway through changing his clothes.

Victor froze on the spot, half-naked, and to Yuuri’s wild imagination it felt as if the man had bared his soul to him.

He walked up to him and embraced him from the back. “Thank you,” he whispered.

Victor nodded. “Do you want to go for a walk after dinner?”

“Or we can stay in,” Yuuri whispered into his ear.

They had the most delicious dinner Yuuri could ever remember. And, to make it even better, they were all alone while they ate.

Afterwards, they slipped through the house together, admiring the furniture and paintings.

“I think the bedroom is the most interesting room in the house,” Victor suggested in a low voice.

“Really? Why don’t you show me then?”

They were all giggles in the bedroom and wouldn’t calm down even when they got completely naked.

They had fallen into a kind of routine and this time was no different. After thirty minutes of sex Yuuri took Victor to the bathroom where he sat him down in the bathtub and washed his hair.

Victor reclined against Yuuri with his eyes closed. Yuuri’s soapy fingers slipped down over his cheeks and nose, past his neck and down to his chest.

“Every day I…” Victor whispered, pausing to take a slow breath, “I fall deeper in love with you.”

Yuuri kissed his head. “Maybe you can wash me next then, hmm?”

“Of course!” Victor exclaimed and they both laughed.

“And… same,” Yuuri whispered into Victor’s ear once their merriment died down.

And they did switch. Victor sat in a fluffy white bathrobe on a stool and washed Yuuri. It felt good to entrust himself so completely to someone else and to feel so wonderfully safe.

They slept back to stomach afterwards under a single thin blanket. Nothing could compare to that feeling of clutching your loved one tighter and feeling them move closer in response.

 

The next morning started off well. After breakfast with Victor and seeing him off he spent some time making phone calls. He put together a schedule for his next few days, filling in more time slots after each conversation.

A polite knock sounded just as he finished his last call. He answered the door, wondering who it could possibly be at this time of the day.

Minami stood in the doorway. He turned bright red at the sight of Yuuri and stammered out something that sounded like “good morning”.

“Good morning!” Yuuri said brightly. “Did Victor ask for something?”

Only then did he notice the big stack of magazines in Minami’s arms. “I… uh… I forgot to bring him these…” he began. “I thought…I thought you went with him…”

Yuuri smiled and stepped aside to let the assistant in. “I would, but sadly I have my own work to do. Come in. You can leave them here,” he motioned at a table in the corridor.

Minami entered hesitantly and lowered the pile onto the table Yuuri had indicated.

“Do you want a glass of water, or… something else, maybe? Coffee? Tea?”

“No, no, I can’t…” Minami began, looking really flustered.

“Come on. If Victor gives you trouble afterwards, just blame me,” Yuuri insisted. Something about the boy’s behaviour suggested that he wanted to stay. More than that, he wanted to talk to Yuuri, he was sure of it.

Minami followed Yuuri further into the apartment and into the kitchen where Yuuri repeated his question.

“A glass of water, please,” Minami said after some hesitation.

Yuuri poured one for him and they sat down at the kitchen table together.

“The cook is out for his break,” Yuuri said, “but I can make you something, if you’re hungry.”

“I’m ok. Honest.” He fidgeted with his cup, eyes lowered.

Yuuri looked around for a conversation topic, doing his best to avoid commenting on Minami’s job.

“Do you miss your old job?” Minami burst out. He turned bright red under Yuuri’s surprised stare. “I… I’m sorry I have it now… uh…”

“I’m sorry you have it too,” Yuuri said softly, “but don’t get the wrong idea – I wouldn’t trade jobs with you for all the money in the world. I love Victor, but I never want to work for him again.” He barely suppressed the shudder that passed through him at that thought.

 

Minami sat in his chair, feeling ready to melt. It was no wonder Victor worshipped the ground Yuuri walked on (and he really did – anyone who’d been at Runway long enough knew it): Yuuri was handsome, very well-dressed and the nicest man on the planet.

He couldn’t help his little crush. The feeling was completely innocent, like a crush on a long-dead celebrity that would never lead to anything, because there was no expectation of feelings in return.

But here Yuuri was and they were drinking together. Sort of. And chatting like close friends. Sort of.

He remembered about one of the magazines in the pile. “The… uh Elegant Wedding interviewed Victor about your upcoming wedding,” he began. “Everyone wants to see what you two will be wearing.”

Yuuri put his chin in his hand and smiled. “Of course they do.”

Minami felt like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. He opened and closed his mouth, unable to say a word at the sight of that smile.

Yuuri’s phone rang and his face radiated all the happiness in the world. “It’s Victor!” he exclaimed. Excusing himself, he left the room to answer the call.

Here he was, having water with Yuuri Katsuki. Minami breathed in, feeling very star-struck.  He barely moved an inch before Yuuri got back.

“You have to go back,” he said, entering the room again. “I told Victor you were with me and he has more errands for you.” There was that smile again. “Sorry.”

Minami rose from his chair, thanked Yuuri for the water and left. He carried the memory of that meeting in his heart for the rest of the day.

 

Yuuri went through the stack of magazines that Minami had brought to the apartment.

Weddingbells, Brides, Inside Weddings, The Knot, The Rustic Wedding, Elegant Wedding… The theme was obvious after the first three.

Well, it wasn’t surprising, was it? After all – they were about to get married. Victor and Him. It still felt a little surreal, but he was getting used to the idea (or so he told himself). He had a lot of time to get used to it: Victor had insisted on a spring wedding, so they picked a day in the middle of May.

He picked up Elegant Wedding and flipped through until he found the interview Minami had mentioned. A photo of Victor in white smiled at him from the page as he read what the man had told the magazine.

And, of course, we’re all dying to know what you two will be wearing.

I can’t answer that, I’m afraid. You’ll have to wait to find out.

Oh, Victor. Yuuri shook his head. He wondered if it was as obvious to everyone else as it was to him that Victor had no idea what they would wear for the wedding. And the question was worrying Victor night and day, Yuuri was sure of it.

Unfortunately, it was one area he knew he couldn’t help with. To be fair, Victor wouldn’t accept anyone’s help anyway, not when it could get out that Victor Nikiforov got married in something designed by someone else.

Yuuri returned to the room he’d turned into his office, taking the magazine with him.

He just had to hope that Victor would find his inspiration soon, maybe even from the costumed ball they were going to that evening.

He sat down at the desk, opening the magazine to the page with Victor’s photo on it and placed it before him. It really was a very good photo. He smiled and returned to his work, throwing glances at the photo from time to time.

 

“Yuuri Katsuki,” a person said.

“What about him?” a second one asked.

The first one laughed. “That’s what I keep saying! Everywhere I go I hear his name. He’s having an affair, he’s getting married. What do I care? Why do I need to hear about him day in and day out?

The two speakers were in a room full of people in all kinds of costumes. The first one was dressed as a bull. The second one – as a cow.

“What’s so special about him anyway?” the one dressed as a cow asked.

“Agreed!” the bull seconded.

They stood by a table covered with drinks and food. It wasn’t just a bit of food – every inch of the table held either a dish, or a glass filled to the brim with a drink of some sort. On one side of the table a fountain of champagne poured down over a pyramid of glasses. The dishes were all small, but each one was a work of art that said “you see this? This one little thing is worth more than what most people earn in a week”.

The venue – a little palace decorated on the inside in Rococo style – was host to, if not society’s finest, then definitely society’s richest. The walls were covered with frescoes of happy figures dancing together.

And the costumes were all very elaborate, as if trying to outdo each other in the number of details. To say that the speakers were dressed as a bull and a cow is to do their costumes injustice. The first speaker had the mask and horns of a bull, but was dressed as a gentleman in from seventeenth century France – in a long blue coat, embroidered in gold. There were gold sparkles on the horns as well. The second speaker’s costume of a cow matched the first in style and details.

The two speakers leaned closer to each other to make a few jokes when a ripple of excitement went through the crowd. Everyone turned to the doors to see who it was this time.

“Who is it?” the cow asked. “Is it someone from the royal family, or something?”

“I doubt it. Knowing my luck it’s Yuuri Katsuki,” the bull grumbled.

The new arrivals were Victor Nikiforov and Yuuri Katsuki.

Victor was in a wig with long messy hair. There was make up on his face and a frown on his lips. He was in a sparkly long blue coat, a pair of grey leggings and black boots. There was something terrifying about him. His eyes went around the room, making several people feel uneasy. Finally he turned to Yuuri and his expression softened.

Yuuri was in a big white gown. There were glittering stars in his hair and a happy smile on his face. A whisper about weddings went through the crowd, but the two new guests didn’t hear a word, so preoccupied they were with each other.

The cow and the bull found their attentions fixed on Yuuri, despite all their earlier complaints. They watched Victor lead Yuuri by the arm to the dance floor where they joined the slow, graceful waltz.

 

Yuuri’s gown was from the gentlest white imaginable. Victor had picked the fabric for it himself. They’d spent what felt like all eternity trying to decide on costumes until Victor stumbled into an article about old movies and his eyes fell on a poster for a certain movie. He’d managed to convince Yuuri that it would be fun to dress up as the two main characters, but as he worked away on his own version of the costumes he wondered if that was the only reason he’d picked them.

Now he found himself fascinated by how well the gown suited Yuuri.

Yuuri fiddled with the ends of Victor’s hair and whispered, “Now everyone is wondering why we’re dressed like this.”

Victor chuckled. Yuuri had played with the long hair the whole way here, unable to let it go.

“You know,” Victor whispered into his ear. “I used to have long hair once.”

Yuuri raised his eyes. “Really?”

“Yes. I cut it all off when I was a teenager,” Victor confessed.

There were stars in Yuuri’s ears and a big one on his chest. Victor thought of clouds parting to reveal a beautiful night sky and tightened his hold on Yuuri’s waist.

Yuuri’s nose brushed against Victor’s cheek.

“I want to elope with you right now,” Victor whispered.

The colour rose to Yuuri’s cheeks. “Me too.”

But still they continued to move with the other dancers, following the slow music. After they got engaged Victor had suggested they learn other dances. They’d found the waltz very easy. He had yet to pluck up his courage to suggest they try the tango.

“What are you thinking about?” Yuuri asked after a long silence.

Victor pressed his cheek to Yuuri’s. “How you rescued me from the labyrinth.”

 “So did you,” Yuuri whispered back.

 

Much to his own surprise, Victor stayed with Yuuri late into the evening until the ball ended and everyone went home.

He watched his car drive up to pick them up and gave a little shake of the head. On a night like this he should’ve arranged for a carriage.

The car stopped and the driver got out to open the door for them. Victor helped Yuuri into the car and followed him in, taking great care with the white gown.

As soon as the car drove off his hands were around Yuuri and his mouth was pressed against his fiancé’s. How had they been so calm all this time? More than that – they’d giggled the whole way here. Now they wouldn’t let each other go.

Forgetting himself, Victor tossed his coat off impatiently, his lips still on Yuuri’s. They weren’t going to make it back to his apartment, he was sure of it.

Yuuri’s hands rose and caught his before he could unbutton his shirt. He broke the kiss. “Not here,” he whispered.

Victor dropped back in his seat and urged the car to go faster.

But Yuuri was the first one to get out of the car when they arrived. He circled the car and opened the door for Victor who was still in his seat.

“Are you alright?” Yuuri asked.

Victor stepped out, putting his hand in Yuuri’s. “Yeah…”

The moon shone down on two figures who slipped into their own apartment like two thieves in the night. They turned no lights on as they passed from room to room. Only in the bedroom did Victor remember about the small bedside lamp.

Yuuri was about to remove the dress when Victor caught both of his hands with his own.

“Let me,” Victor whispered. He stepped closer and caught the big star on Yuuri’s chest with his teeth. It had been a clever trick on his part – to make a little fold in the gown that hid the zipper that went down the middle of the front. Victor pulled the zipper down with his teeth, his eyes twinkling mischievously. The gown split in half and slid off Yuuri’s shoulders.

Victor reached the end and lingered there, his hands on Yuuri’s hips and his mouth over Yuuri’s stomach. He released the zipper and whispered, “This is why I designed it to be like this.” He kissed Yuuri’s stomach.

Yuuri lowered his hands onto Victor’s head, but Victor pulled away and tossed his wig aside impatiently. It was much better to feel Yuuri’s fingers slide into his actual hair as he kissed Yuuri’s stomach and worked his way down.

He had to get up and take his own clothes off and then help Yuuri climb out of the gown, he knew that, but it was so much better to linger here and forget everything else.

“Victor,” Yuuri said, a note of impatience in his voice.

Victor felt his head turn, but instead of getting up and doing what Yuuri wanted, he planted another kiss.

Yuuri pulled him up to his feet. Gown, dress shirt, leggings, underwear – everything was tossed aside and, for once, it didn’t trouble Victor in the slightest that it all lay on the floor. Yuuri was carrying him to the bed with a smile on his face.

Victor fell onto the bed, holding Yuuri’s head with both hands, their lips joined in a kiss. He spread his legs apart and Yuuri moved in between them.

“Do you know what I want?” Yuuri whispered after pulling away.

“Me, I hope,” Victor said in a tone that was only half-joking.

Yuuri gave him another kiss. “I want…” But the rest of the sentence was lost to another dozen or so kisses.

He felt one of Yuuri’s arms slip past him and Yuuri sat up, holding a bottle in his hand. “Do you want to do the honours this time?”

“No, you should,” Victor whispered.

He saw the way Yuuri’s face changed, but the man said nothing. He turned Victor over and rubbed the contents of the bottle into his skin. There’s a conversation for another time, Victor thought. Just not now. You know this, don’t you, Yuuri?

Yuuri’s fingers rubbed gently back and forth, but there was just a hint of frustration in his movements now. There was that guilt again. He’d failed Yuuri time and again. He was failing him now and he would be failing him in the future.

There was still nothing for them to wear to the wedding. With barely a month to go, he was getting dangerously close to running out of time. He thought of the gown he’d designed based on another one that appeared in a movie, light and full of innocence. But he couldn’t get married in that! It would feel like a lie, for a start.

Yuuri turned him over and gave him a serious look. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, really!”

Yuuri’s eyebrows shot up. He wasn’t going to take it this time. Victor sat up. His eyes drifted down over Yuuri to where he’d lowered his hands. They were still covered in liquid, the same liquid that was spread over his backside.

He realized with a shock that the thought wasn’t as distracting as it usually was.

“Victor?” Yuuri asked.

He closed his eyes. “I don’t know what we’ll wear for the wedding and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m sorry,” he opened his eyes again and met Yuuri’s gaze, “that’s just how I am. The happiest day of my life is coming up and all I can think about is that I have nothing to wear for the big day.”

Yuuri opened his mouth to say something, but now that he’d started, Victor was determined to get the rest of the words out.

“At first I thought I’d lost all my inspiration, but I had no trouble with everything else up until now.” He turned away. “I try to imagine how our wedding will go and…” he opened and closed his mouth, unable to get the full horror of the rest of the sentence out, “and… and I can’t. It’s like… It’s like I’m not sure I will get to marry you.”

“Victor,” Yuuri said, putting his hands on his shoulders, “Victor,” he called a second time and Victor turned to face him, “what are you trying to say?”

He searched for the answer to that question in his mind. He, who was always so good at finding the right words for any occasion, was at a complete loss.

“Let’s elope,” Yuuri whispered. “Forget the fancy wedding for now, let’s slip away together, sign a piece of paper in secret and get married while no one is looking.”

Chapter Text

“No, Yuuri, I can’t,” Victor said, moving away. “I need to marry you officially, for all the world to see.”

Yuuri gave him a puzzled look. “Why?”

It was a good question and Victor had his answer ready, but he suspected that Yuuri wouldn’t accept it. He wouldn’t understand about having a reputation like Victor did and what it brought with it. He hadn’t seen the stack of letters in his office, all with pleas to be invited to his wedding. It was supposed to be the most fashionable event of the year. Some magazines were already calling it that, even though it hadn’t even happened yet.

“I’d rather have a quiet wedding,” Yuuri admitted. “You never asked and I know that famous people are expected to have grand weddings, but I’d rather have a quiet one, to be honest.”

Victor was silent. How could he explain something like this?

“We can just go and sign a paper and that will be it,” Yuuri went on. “I mean, that’s really all it is, at the end of the day. That and the party after, of course. You don’t need to wear special clothes to sign a paper.” He laughed. “We can get married in the ugliest sweaters in the world.”

“Yuuri, don’t you know how much a proper wedding means to me?” Victor asked.

“I do,” Yuuri said, his expression serious again, “which is why that was just a joke. I don’t mind getting married the way you want, but not if it’s going to torture you like this.” He took Victor’s face with both hands. “You’re worrying too much about this, Victor. You should relax and stop thinking about it for a while. Let the inspiration come to you.” He gave Victor a sad smile. “Believe me, I know from experience.”

Victor sighed. “Everyone is calling this the most fashionable event of the year. Every single magazine (wedding or not) is sitting on the edge of their seat, waiting to publish every detail of my wedding, starting with what the two of us will be wearing. Every little detail is going to be discussed and evaluated by every fashion critic from here to the other side of the world.”

“I know,” Yuuri said. “And I have complete faith in you, I really do. I just don’t think it’s worth all this worrying.”

Victor caught a kiss and reclined against the pillow, taking Yuuri with him.

He felt Yuuri raise his legs and slip under him.

“I’m willing to do my best to distract you,” Yuuri said between kisses. “Do you want me to try?”

Victor nodded, feeling the blood rise to his face. “Yes.”

“Maybe I should do something really different,” Yuuri whispered dangerously, “like tie you up, or handcuff you to the bed.”

“Yes.”

“Yes?” Yuuri sat up and pushed the hair out of his face. The light from the bedside lamp fell on his chest and face, making Yuuri shine.

“Yes,” Victor said, gripping the railings of the bed behind him. It was hard to keep eye contact with Yuuri, so hard to hold that heavy look with his own.

Yuuri breathed slowly and leaned forward. “Admit it,” he whispered. “You’re only thinking about me right now.”

“Yes,” Victor nodded.

He had no idea how long it lasted, but there were a few blissful moments that were completely free of any worries and only thoughts about his fiancé as the fiancé in question took him.

There was an innocent smile on Yuuri’s face as he pulled away. “We’ll need to think of another way to take your mind off it all that doesn’t involve me getting naked,” he said.

“I love you,” Victor whispered in return.

 

Morning came, as it always did. Crawling out of bed was hard, especially with how Yuuri clung on to him in his sleep, his face buried in Victor’s chest.

Victor pulled free as gently as he could, not wishing to wake Yuuri. He sat up, hesitated and turned back to plant a kiss on Yuuri’s forehead.

He had to get ready. He had to attend Fashion Week. He had to be seen there. He knew all that, but why did he have to do any of it? Why couldn’t he stay here with Yuuri?

He’d never questioned any of it before, but now…

He stood before the mirror as he buttoned up his shirt and watched his reflections, as if suspecting it of getting ready to do something terrible.

Yuuri had turned his life upside-down and made him question everything he ever thought he knew.

Victor raised his right hand and kissed his ring.

Yuuri was right: it wasn’t worth all that worry, but he was Victor Nikiforov and he couldn’t settle for a different wedding.

He glanced at the time. There were another ten minutes before his car would come to get him. Normally, he would just call the driver and demand the car come earlier, but this time he had something else he could do.

He walked out to the hall where Minami had left the wedding magazines he’d asked for. He went through the stack. One title was missing. He trusted Minami to bring them all and wondered what could possibly have happened to it.

Was it possible that Yuuri had taken it?

Curiosity led him to Yuuri’s office. He wasn’t the kind of person who would go through someone else’s stuff. He merely stepped in and looked around to see if he could spot the magazine anywhere.

His eye passed over the stack of papers on Yuuri’s desk, the little calendar he’d marked up in his neat writing and fell on the magazine propped up against the wall, opened to the page with Victor’s photo.

He smiled.

 

Yuuri woke up late. He rushed through his morning routine, brushing his teeth and putting his clothes on as quickly as he could. He had an interview in an hour and a half and he needed time to go over his notes.

After breakfast he stumbled into his office to go over what he had. His eye fell on the opened magazine on his desk. He’d completely forgotten about it! He reached out to put it away when he noticed that it was different from the day before.

Now there was a note scribbled on it in black pen.

To my dear Yuuri from his biggest fan,

Victor

The signature was made up from several big curls and ended in a little heart.

Yuuri smiled and closed the magazine. After some thinking, he very carefully tore the page out and added it to the stack of papers he’d prepared to take with him.

 

It was the second day of Paris Fashion Week and something about Victor’s expression told Phichit that the man was suffering. They sat side by side at the very front and watched the models walk by one at a time without saying a single word. The editor of Fantastic Man was sure that the current collection had nothing to do with Victor’s mood.

Phichit, who’d learned to accept that not only was Yuuri dating Victor, but also about to marry him, felt it was his duty to help Victor out. He merely had to wait for the right moment.

It came when everyone took a lunch break. He stood up next to Victor, started a very innocent-sounding conversation with him and casually led him away to the washrooms. By a stroke of luck, they were empty.

“Phichit, what –” Victor began.

“Should I be worried?” Phichit asked, not bothering with beating around the bush.

“Worried about what?” Victor asked in return, his expression turning cold.

“About everything – you, Yuuri, the wedding, to name a few candidates,” Phichit said.

He marvelled at how Victor’s face remained carefully neutral. How did the man do it? “Why do you need to be worried about any of that?”

Phichit sighed. “Look, I’ve been friends with Yuuri since we were both kids. You don’t have to keep up the façade in front of me.” He saw the way Victor raised an eyebrow and added, “I’m not your enemy, remember? I won’t try to get in the way of your wedding and I promise that whatever it is, won’t become public knowledge. Can we talk now?”

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Victor said coldly. “Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He brushed Phichit aside and made for the door.

“You don’t need to feel embarrassed about asking for help,” Phichit went on. “After all, that’s what friends are for.”

Victor stopped at the door and Phichit held his breath. “Not for this,” Victor whispered and left the room.

Phichit gave an exasperated sigh. Why did the man have to be so stubborn?

He’d been at the ball the night before too, of course. He took great pride in his costume and was sure that no one could hope to rival it. Or, at least, he had been until he saw Yuuri and Victor and the way they danced together. The best costume in the world couldn’t hope to compete with the kind of chemistry those two had.

The wedding was nothing more than a formality: for all intents and purposes Yuuri and Victor were already married. They’d gotten married the day Victor finally found the courage to propose. And, since it had been at a photoshoot Phichit himself had organized, he got to be one of the witnesses.

 

They took the chair away and Victor dropped to one knee before Yuuri. Before Yuuri could protest or even pull him up to his feet, he grabbed Yuuri’s right hand in both of his own and whispered,

“Will you marry me, Yuuri?”

Yuuri’s eyes widened and a blush rose to his cheeks. He was silent for several seconds before finally giving his answer.

“Yes.”

Victor pressed a kiss to Yuuri’s hand, but Yuuri pulled him up to his feet and caught him in a proper kiss. They got carried away, sharing the kind of kiss that people only ever shared in the movies.

Phichit’s staff, unable to help themselves, broke out into applause.

Yuuri broke the kiss and, his arms still wrapped around Victor’s neck, turned his head as a deep blush burned on his cheeks. “Um… Sorry about that.”

 

After that there was something different about the way they acted around each other. It was there in every lunch they had together and also there in the way they danced at the ball.

Maybe he’s just upset they can’t be together the whole day, Phichit thought, but deep inside he knew that wasn’t it.

He considered asking Chris if he knew what it was, but decided against it. He would figure it out, he was sure of it.

 

Ivory white dresses, cream white dresses, lace, cotton, tulle, suits, ties, light pastel tones and the strict combination of black and white…

Victor sighed. No, it was no use.

What if he…? No, that was no good either.

But what about…? No, that was just ridiculous.

He could always start with the shoes and work his way up. Think about the style, colour and heel of the shoe and maybe that would help with everything else. His mind became a shoe-lover’s paradise as it filled with the image of every style of shoe imaginable.

He groaned in frustration. No, it was just no good.

“Victor?”

He turned at the sound of his name and saw Yuuri standing in the doorway.

Yuuri’s eyes widened as he took in the state of the room. The floor was covered in pages Victor had torn out of the wedding magazines. He’d picked out those clothes that had at least one element that had drawn his eye and laid them out so he could look at all of them at the same time.

“Hello, Yuuri,” he said in what he hoped was his usual tone of voice. He got up to give Yuuri his welcome back kiss. “How did your day go?”

“Fine. What’s all this?” Yuuri asked, motioning at the floor.

“I’m looking for inspiration,” Victor admitted.

Yuuri took Victor gently by the arm and led him out of the room. “Let’s go for a walk,” he said.

Victor let Yuuri lead him away without argument. He only insisted they get changed into proper clothes before they went.

 

It was getting dark when they stepped out onto the street.

Yuuri leaned on Victor’s arm and told him all about his day, trying to make it sound much more interesting than it really was. He’d seen the look in Victor’s eye when he’d entered that room and it had terrified him. So he went on about everything that came to mind.

After telling Victor how his day went, he questioned Victor about the Fashion Show.

When Victor admitted that Phichit had cornered him and demanded to know what was wrong (even though Victor hadn’t used those words, of course) Yuuri felt his heart sink. It was becoming obvious to everyone around him that something was wrong.

He’s actually losing it over our wedding wear! Why can’t he just settle for something simple? Two white suits will be just fine, I’m sure. And with Victor’s reputation being what it is, I’ll bet every magazine will publish articles about the brilliance of simplicity and the importance of tradition, or some such nonsense.

“Victor,” Yuuri said, letting his hand go, “take a picture of me.”

He flirted with Victor, as if nothing was wrong, and Victor flirted back in a way that said that he was willing to play along with this deception.

Yuuri caught a kiss and slipped away with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, making Victor chase him.

Victor trapped Yuuri in an embrace and kissed him hard

Just don’t think about it, Yuuri pleaded with Victor mentally. Forget it for a moment. Focus on me. Let me have a perfect date.

One of Victor’s hands held Yuuri’s head, his fingers slipping into the boy’s hair. Yuuri felt his head spin.

Overhead the stars were appearing in the sky. The moon would be up soon. Something was blooming not far from where they were and the sweet smell of flowers washed over him, mixing with the cologne Victor always used.

There was something honeymoon-like about their trip. He smiled as it occurred to him that he and Victor were already married.

Victor released Yuuri’s mouth and looked into his eyes. “What is it?” he asked softly. “What are you thinking about?”

Yuuri held Victor by the shoulders. “Don’t you think this feels like a honeymoon?” he whispered.

“I hope our honeymoon will be better than this!” Victor protested, straightening up.

Yuuri laughed and buried his face in Victor’s chest. His hands slid down to catch Victor’s hands and he turned his head to look at the ring on Victor’s finger. He brought it to his lips.

“Let’s go back,” Victor whispered into his ear.

But something was pushing Yuuri on. He slipped out of Victor’s embrace and pulled him along, continuing down the street. He had no idea where he was going, but what did that matter?

And maybe the darkening shadows should’ve inspired fear in his heart, or made him think about the warm lights of their apartment, but he thought about none of those things. The stars twinkled brightly and that was enough to put him at ease.

But the city was full of traps for the unwary and monsters lurked in the shadows.

One such monster (if such a word could be used in this situation) loomed up ahead. Yuuri and Victor, too preoccupied with each other, didn’t notice until they almost walked into it.

Yuuri turned to see what it was and the smile froze on his lips. He stared in silence, unable to even move.

“Yuuri?” Victor asked in alarm. “Are you alright?”

The thing in front of them had risen like something out of a nightmare.

Yuuri felt a tremor pass through his body.

Somewhere a bell struck the hour, filling the air with long mournful sounds.

Victor put an arm around Yuuri and the man felt something crack inside him. A single tear rolled down his cheek, followed by another and then – another.

“This is the place…” he managed to say.

“What place?” Victor asked softly, as if afraid of disturbing something.

Yuuri turned and buried his face in Victor’s chest. He trembled from head to toe as Victor wrapped his arms around him.

“I was here after…”

 

Free. He was free at last! It hadn’t been easy, but he’d done it: he’d walked away. But freedom came with a price.

He made a few phone calls, his voice steady as he arranged for a way to get home, he told Phichit about his decision and asked to be left alone. He needed to make all those calls. They were important.

But then he finished the last one and found that he’d run out of things to do. He had to stay and wait for the taxi to come get him and take him to the airport.

He’d ended up in a little square with a fountain that seemed to be lost in Paris’ streets. No tourists ever came here to visit it and it stood forgotten by everyone, the faces of the statues blank and unseeing.

He leaned against the fountain and lowered his head.

He felt like a man who’d pulled a thorn out of his side and was now exploring how deep a wound it had made.

Warm tears poured down his face as he thought of the cold, selfish editor he’d so foolish fallen in love with. He’d done more than fallen in love – he’d blindly handed his whole self over to him.

Life together had become impossible, but could he really hope to live apart?

 

Yuuri clung on tighter as the memories threatened to choke him.

“Let’s go back,” Victor said softly. “We’re both tired. We need to rest and… not think about anything. Just rest.”

Yuuri raised his head and met Victor’s eyes. “Rest?” he repeated.

“Yes, I…” Victor looked uncomfortable for a moment. He lowered his voice. “I brought sleeping pills with me,” he admitted. “They should help us both calm down.”

“Don’t you want to talk about this?” Yuuri asked in disbelief.

“I didn’t think you want to.”

“I do,” Yuuri whispered, stepping back and taking one of Victor’s hands with both of his. “I need to talk about this.”

“You’re tired, Yuuri. Let’s go back. We can talk about this tomorrow.”

Yuuri made a frustrated noise. “There you go again – avoiding an uncomfortable topic. How many of those are there now? How many things do you refuse to talk about?” He took Victor’s other hand as well. “When I marry you, I don’t want there to be uncomfortable topics for us. I want us to be able to discuss anything, any problem.”

Victor stared at him in silence.

“And…” Yuuri swallowed, “and if that means that I have to marry you later, then that’s fine by me.” He waited for Victor to say something. It was some time before he caught on.

There was a look of horror on Victor’s face.

Yuuri waited for him to say something, anything, his heart beating fast.

“I don’t know how to talk about any of it,” Victor finally admitted in a whisper, lowered his head. “I’m worried I’ll say something wrong and only make it worse.”

Yuuri stared at the fountain, unsure what to say to that.

Victor put an arm around him. “Teach me,” he said softly. “How do I talk about painful topics?”

“There… I’m not sure there’s a way to do it that works every time,” Yuuri began, looking into Victor’s face. “Can I tell you about that day?”

“Please.”

“This will be painful for you,” Yuuri began, giving Victor’s hand a gentle squeeze.

Victor accepted this without arguing. It was a given now that any topic painful for one of them would hurt the other person too.

Yuuri considered how to start. More than that, he needed to find the right words. He didn’t want it to sound like an accusation, but he also didn’t want to lie by omission. Luckily, he’d had lots of practice with words in tricky situations.

He pulled Victor closer and began. “The day I left you I found my way here…”

Victor listened without saying a word. Yuuri threw a look at him from time to time, trying to see how he was taking it. But it was hard to read Victor’s face – he retreated deep within himself. It was even harder to keep eye contact and, so, Yuuri found himself looking at the fountain, remembering how it had looked that day in the light of the sun’s rays.

As Yuuri neared the end he felt the tears rise to his eyes and a lump form in his throat. He did his best to soften the blow – watch his words and avoid hurting Victor more than he had to, but some words spilled out of him against his will.

Now the tears came. He pulled the handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it to his face. “You know,” he said, his voice trembling, “ever since I left, I… when things got hard I would hold your handkerchief to my face – just like this – and it would bring me comfort.”

Victor remained silent.

Yuuri raised his eyes. There were tears on Victor’s face. The man stood still like someone who didn’t know what to do or say as the tears flowed down his cheeks.

“Oh, Victor!”

He drew a shaky breath. “Tell me more,” he whispered. “What did you do after that? How did you live? How did you get into the New Yorker?”

Yuuri raised the handkerchief to Victor’s face and wiped the tears away. He spoke about going back to his parents and Phichit’s visit before finally getting to his interview for the New Yorker.

“My boss told me once that it’s part of the magazine’s policy to interview the applicant’s previous employer,” Yuuri remembered. “I never got a chance to thank you for that reference,” he said.

“There’s nothing to thank me for,” Victor said, pulling Yuuri close. “Do you want to hear about my day after you left?” he whispered.

Yuuri wiped more tears from Victor’s face. “Yes.”

“When you left, I went on as if nothing was wrong. I went to the fashion show and attended an official lunch. By the evening I was convinced that everything was fine and I could carry on like this. I told myself that I had to.” He gave a sad laugh. “When I saw you with Phichit the night before I felt more betrayed than I’d ever been in my whole life. I can’t describe to you what that night felt like. By the morning I’d decided that you won and that I was willing to go on and then you…” He turned away. “I kept going, because I had to, not because I really wanted to. The first night after you… left was worse than the night after I found out.”

Yuuri stepped in front of Victor and held his face with both hands. “Why are you hiding your tears from me?” he whispered.

“I don’t think I can do this,” Victor suddenly admitted. “I’m too used to putting on a brave face and just carrying on as if nothing is wrong. I was just gritting my teeth and bearing it. I wouldn’t have been able to tear myself away, if I had been in your place.”

Yuuri put his forehead against Victor’s. “Let’s go home,” he whispered. “I’m sorry for pushing you like this. Maybe we should’ve saved this for another time.”

Victor pulled Yuuri close. “No, don’t say that. It reminds me of what I have now.”

They held each other as tightly as they could.

“I’m not alone anymore,” Victor whispered into Yuuri’s ear, “and maybe I don’t really understand what that means yet, but one day…” He pressed his lips against Yuuri’s cheek.

Yuuri closed his eyes as Victor’s kisses moved down to his neck. Victor buried his nose in the collar of Yuuri’s shirt, reaching for more places to kiss.

“Victor!” Yuuri exclaimed. “We’re still outside!”

“There’s no one here,” Victor reassured him, but Yuuri pulled free as gently as he could.

He took Victor by the hand and led him back the way they’d come, using his phone as a guide to avoid getting lost.

They said very little on the way back and, for the first time in a long while, they let each other go when they returned to their rooms.

An hour later they were both asleep, next to each other in their pajamas.

 

The next morning they had breakfast together.

Yuuri sat across from Victor, drinking his second cup of coffee with a faraway look in his eyes.

Victor reached out and put his hand over Yuuri’s. “Penny for your thoughts?”

A faint smile appeared on Yuuri’s face. “It’s about time I introduced you to my parents.”

Chapter Text

The last day of Paris Fashion Week was a real treat for everyone (or so some magazines would have their readers believe): Victor Nikiforov arrived with Yuuri Katsuki at his side.

Victor was in a white vest and a pale pink shirt with billowing sleeves. His white pants were lined with golden buttons to match the gold details on his vest. As always, his handkerchief was tucked in his breast pocket. Yuuri was in a black vest and pants with silver details. His shirt was cobalt blue.

The press got carried away and snapped at least a thousand photos of the editor and his fiancé.

 

Yuuri smiled as Victor whispered something in his ear…

 

Yuuri sat between Phichit and Victor as all three of them watched with interest. Victor’s hand rested on Yuuri’s knee and under Yuuri’s hand…

 

Yuuri and Victor raised glasses, eyes on each other as they toasted the end of another successful Fashion Week…

 

“Victor?” Yuuri called, opening the bedroom door. He froze in the doorway with his mouth slightly open.

Victor lay on the bed in something elaborate. No, Yuuri corrected himself mentally, he wasn’t wearing anything, but he was all tied up with red rope and… No, a second correction – Victor was wearing something that was made up of red straps criss-crossing over his body with flowers at his neck and waist.

The blood rushed to Yuuri’s face as he realized that anything that would’ve normally been covered wasn’t this time.

Victor folded one arm under his head. “Hello, Yuuri,” he said casually, as if they were just sitting down to dinner (oh god, why did Yuuri think about dinner?). “I thought I’d have a go at designing lingerie again. What do you think?” He turned over and demonstrated the definitely-not-fine mesh that covered his buttocks.

Yuuri walked over to him and trailed a hand over Victor’s back up to his right shoulder. “Are you trying to seduce your fiancé?” he asked in a whisper.

Victor raised his head. “Is it working?”

Instead of answering, Yuuri pressed his mouth against Victor’s. He thought they’d spend their last night in Paris doing something special – go out to an old restaurant, maybe share a few drinks, visit the Moulin Rouge, but this was much better.

He sat down on the bed as the kiss got more enthusiastic.

They’d spent a good day together – Victor had been his usual charming self while giving Yuuri a mock commentary of the collections on display. Then there had been all those important meetings afterwards. Victor had held his hand in that way that said that he needed Yuuri to stay close.

Victor had looked very good in white. He was cool and in control of the situation. Yuuri had seen the half-terrified, half-adoring looks on the faces of everyone around him.

Yuuri climbed over Victor as the man turned onto his back and lowered himself onto the pillow.

Victor broke the kiss and smiled. “I think we can say that this piece will be a big success. What do you think?” He slid his hands over Yuuri’s shoulders and gave him a playful look.

Yuuri lowered his head and planted two kisses on Victor’s chest in two spots that the designer had left bare for him.

“I want to see you try this on later,” Victor breathed out.

Yuuri’s hands slipped onto the bed and he sat up to get a better look at what Victor was wearing. “How do I take it off?” he finally asked.

“That’s for you to find out,” Victor teased.

There was a sparkle in Victor’s eyes. His hair was dishevelled more than Victor had ever seen and Yuuri realized with a shock that Victor was wearing lipstick.

“Do you want a hint?” Victor asked, acting as if Yuuri’s expression wasn’t unnerving him and failing.

“Hint?” Yuuri echoed, not understanding his fiancé at all. There was eyeliner around Victor’s eyes too! How had he missed that?

“Try down below,” Victor whispered. He pointed and Yuuri followed the direction he was pointing in without stopping to think what he was about to look at.

He turned deep red.

“I’ll have to think of something better for our wedding night,” Victor said.

Yuuri raised his eyes and watched the colour drain from Victor’s face. He’d almost gone a whole day without worrying over what they would wear for their wedding. Almost.

Victor put his hand over his mouth, as if trying to snatch the words back.

“I’ll look forward to it,” Yuuri promised, planting a kiss on the hand over Victor’s mouth.

He worked his way down gradually, sliding the tips of his fingers over a strap here and planting a kiss there.

Where was the clasp that held it all together?

Victor reclined further and slid his legs up to his body and Yuuri realized where the clasp was.

“Turn over,” he whispered.

“I’d much rather stay like this,” Victor insisted.

Yuuri didn’t argue. Something in Victor’s tone reminded him of the cool figure that was always in control of every fashion event. The thought vanished as soon as it came: as Yuuri’s fingers scrambled around for a hold on the clasp Victor pleaded for more in a weak voice.

“Take me,” he breathed out as soon as the stubborn clasp came undone.

A shudder passed over Yuuri’s body and he lowered his head to where his hand had been seconds before.

 

It had been a really good idea. Victor hadn’t doubted it for a minute and he enjoyed the proof that he was right.

Yuuri raised his eyes and Victor did his best to smile nonchalantly as he said, “I designed... several pieces like this. …Would you like to see them?” He was still gasping for breath, but he went on pretending that it was nothing.

Yuuri’s hands slid up Victor’s thighs, taking the straps with them. “I would love to.” He pressed his lips against the bottom of Victor’s stomach.

Later they both agreed that it was the best fashion show that week. Victor changed from one piece to another as Yuuri sat on the bed with his eyes closed, promising not to peek while Victor was changing and then opened his eyes to blush at what Victor was wearing this time. Victor had stuck to adding flowers to every piece and it had worked amazingly well.

Each time Victor strutted towards Yuuri as if he was on the catwalk and Yuuri pretended he was fashion critic, putting on a critical expression and making a comment that made Victor laugh.

The last piece was an over-sized shirt made of lace with a row of buttons that went down the back. In fact, there were buttons hidden everywhere as Victor soon demonstrated. His fingers slid slowly over his shoulders as he undid two rows of buttons and let the sleeves slide off his arms. Next came the row of buttons around his waist and the long shirt became a short one. His hands slid up into his shirt and over his chest, stepping closer to Yuuri.

He reached for Yuuri’s knees and thought of his words from that morning. “When do you want to go visit them?” he asked, as if the fifteen hours between their breakfast together and now hadn’t happened.

Yuuri gave him a questioning look.

“Your parents,” Victor explained.

“Oh. I was thinking when we come back we can go up for a weekend,” Yuuri said, the expression on his face turning serious.

Victor nodded. He hadn’t said anything when Yuuri had said it, but he’d mentally agreed to it. Why hadn’t they met before? Oh yes, Victor realized with a pang of guilt, because there was always something, or they had plans for the weekend.

He took Yuuri’s hands and gave them a squeeze. “I look forward to meeting them.” He stepped in between Yuuri’s thighs, looked him over and wrinkled his nose. “Yuuri, why are you still dressed?”

Yuuri smiled, raised one of Victor’s hands to his lips and gave it a kiss. “I love you.”

 

The prairie spread out forever in every direction, flat and featureless, apart from the occasional electricity pole alone the road. A little town appeared from time to time, accompanied by a big sign, announcing its name and population, but most of them were just three roads, ten large farms, a greasy diner, a dusty convenience store and a gas station that was falling apart.

Their destination was at least a two hour drive from the nearest airport in the middle of nowhere. Victor turned away from the boring scenery and stared at Yuuri instead. His fiancé was giving the scenery a wistful look.

Makkachin and Vicchan lay on one of the seats, curled up next to each other. This time Yuuri and Victor had decided that the dogs had to come with them.

It hadn’t occurred to Victor until Yuuri had suggested that they meet that he had no idea what Yuuri’s parents were like and, what was worse, he couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask about them. He’d never even considered where Yuuri had grown up.

We really do have a lot of things we never talk about, he thought sadly.

Victor had spent all of his life in big cities and a very large portion of it in New York. He had no idea what life was like out in the rural areas.

There were farms out here, so it stood to reason that most people were farmers. Did that mean that Yuuri’s parents were farmers? Would he have to stay in a house full of chickens and pigs and then go out into the fields with the cows?

He was in a new suit and the designer suitcase in the trunk of the car was full of designer clothes he’d picked out for his trip. For the first time in his life he wondered if he’d made a mistake in his choice of clothing.

“What are you worrying about?” Yuuri asked, startling Victor out of his thoughts.

He considered how best to say it. “I’m starting to think that I should’ve consulted you on how to dress.” He burst out laughing as soon as he realized what he’d said.

Yuuri nudged him with his elbow and giggled. “No, but really?” he asked after he managed to calm down.

Victor smiled. “I mean it.”

Still Yuuri didn’t seem to understand, but before Victor could explain the car turned off the highway. Victor turned, expecting to see another empty diner and half-dead convenience store and saw instead what looked like the very beginning of the suburbs and a sign.

Welcome to Hot Springs, Arkansas,

Sister city of Hanamaki, Iwate, Japan

Yuuri clutched Victor’s hand tightly and they exchanged nervous looks before turning back to the windows.

The car went through a grid of streets, making very few turns and after a while it started to feel like proper suburbs. Inns appeared along the road, inviting tired travellers to stay for the night. Why did the place need so many inns?

“The place is known for its thermal springs. My parents keep an inn here,” Yuuri said after a while. “I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before.” He smiled at Victor.

“Which one?” Victor stared out the window at the line of small old-fashioned inns. Most of them had dull and original names, which made them even harder to tell apart.

“We’re almost there,” Yuuri said.

Victor tried to see what was ahead and his eye fell on a tall building with countless small windows. Surely not! He threw a quick glance in Yuuri’s direction.

He thought about Yuuri’s small apartment in New York, the one he’d lived in before that terrible fire. He remembered lunches when they split bills and numerous cab rides. Then he tried to remember Yuuri as he’d first seen him, in that awful suit that hopefully died in that awful fire, or preferably earlier than that. No, no, there was that pole dancing job and…

Victor bit his lip. How many things had they not talked about with Yuuri? He had no idea what his parents did for a living. He had no idea even if Yuuri came from a rich or poor family! He lived with the man under the same roof, for goodness’ sake!

Then another memory slipped into his mind without any warning.

 

 

Yuuri stood before Victor, wearing nothing but pants while Victor folded Yuuri’s shirt and set it aside out of his way. He raised his hands and ran them up Yuuri’s back. The man half-closed his eyes.

“I’ve seen you before, you know,” Victor said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. “I didn’t recognize you when you came for your interview, but one day it just clicked.”

“You’ve seen me before? You mean in the street?” Yuuri asked as his eyes widened in surprise.

Victor smiled as he remembered that day. “I don’t remember what it was called. The … Blue something Club… What was the second word now?” He could remember it really well, even the big sign made out of flashing blue neon lights. He remembered his own state when he’d stumbled into the place and how he’d laughed at the sign and the name and everything else.

The blood rushed to Yuuri’s face. “Y-you saw me at…?”

“Yes. I thought you were rather good.” So good, in fact, that Victor had returned there a few times to sit through other dances before he realized that he would never see the handsome pole dancer again.

“What were you doing there?”

Trying to find something stronger than drink, Victor remembered. He’d been so drunk that night that climbing down three steps into the club had felt like the hardest task in the world, so drunk that he almost crawled over those steps Afterwards, when the pole dancer didn’t come back he’d assumed that he’d imagined him while watching someone else.

“I think the real question is what were you doing there?” Victor asked, deflecting difficult questions like always. He wasn’t going to talk about why he was drunk out of his mind that night. It was none of his assistant’s business.

Yuuri looked up into Victor’s face. “I needed money for college,” he said, a note of defiance in his voice.

“Usually people work at a shop or a café,” Victor pointed out, continuing to steer the conversation away from getting drunk that night. He did it without thinking, had always done it without thinking. Deflect awkward questions in a way that makes the other person uncomfortable that was the way to win.  Don’t ever get caught out.

“Well I didn’t,” Yuuri said simply. There was more defiance than embarrassment in his face at that announcement.

“But pole dancing? Really?” Victor insisted.

Yuuri’s face turned redder and he nodded.

Victor remembered himself and what they were about to do. This was a date after all and not a sparring match. “I’m sorry, I got distracted and didn’t finish,” he said in a tone that always left the other person helpless.

Until they returned the favour.

 

“Victor?” Yuuri asked, bringing him back to the present.

“You’re right,” Victor said, looking at Yuuri. “All this time we’ve been together and we barely ever talk! I don’t know much about you and you don’t know about me.” He swallowed. “You need to know some things.” He had to, if they were going to get married.

Yuuri put an arm around him. “We’ll talk,” he promised, “but not now.” He indicated the window and Victor realized that the car had stopped.

He leapt out of the car to open the door for Yuuri and only when the man stepped out and took his hand did Victor look to see where they’d arrived.

It was a small inn, just like all those ones along the road. The big building he’d spotted earlier was behind them now. Victor ignored it and studied the inn instead.

Katsudon Inn and Spa the giant sign read.

“Ready?” Yuuri asked softly.

Victor gave a nod. Makkachin and Vicchan slipped out of the car and sniffed their surroundings curiously.

The door opened and a woman burst out of the house. She threw her arms around Yuuri, exclaiming his name loud enough for the whole town to hear.

Finally, she released him and stepped back. “You never call, never write and suddenly I get an invitation to a wedding and next thing I know you’re coming here to introduce your fiancé!” At the last word the woman remembered that Yuuri wasn’t alone and turned to look at Victor.

He tried to smile as winningly as he could. “Victor Nikiforov,” he introduced himself with his hand held out. “Nice to meet you.”

She turned her head and gave Yuuri a Look.

Victor felt his heart sink. Hadn’t Yuuri told them who he was getting married to? He was suddenly struck by the realization that he – Victor Nikiforov, of all people! – was terrified of Yuuri’s family.

“Victor, this is Minako Okukawa,” Yuuri introduced her. “She’s an old friend of mine.”

Former girlfriend, Victor suddenly thought and told himself that he had no right to be jealous. He lowered his hand as calmly as he could and kept his expression perfectly neutral.

She took Yuuri by the arm and hissed, “Can I talk to you for a few minutes?”

“No,” Yuuri shook his head. “My parents are waiting for me.”

She didn’t argue with that, but Victor knew that at some point that evening she would corner Yuuri and make him explain why he picked Victor of all people to get married to.

And, to think, this morning I was panicking about our wedding clothes again!

He studied Yuuri’s face. He was furious, but keeping his anger hidden behind a calm expression. Victor wondered if Minako would notice.

She gave a half-shrug and stepped out of their way.

Yuuri took Victor’s hand and made for the door of the inn. He had that determination in his step that Victor loved so much about him.

Despite that, he paused at the door and whispered, “They will accept you, I promise.” He looked into Victor’s eyes.

Victor nodded. He wanted to kiss Yuuri now more than anything. He thought of that morning when he’d woken up next to Yuuri.

 

Yuuri slept on his stomach, his head turned to the side facing Victor. His arms were draped over the pillow. The blanket covered him to his shoulders.

Victor shifted closer and touched the tip of his nose against Yuuri’s. Still Yuuri slept on.

Smiling to himself, Victor sat up and pulled the blanket off slowly, planting kisses on Yuuri’s shoulders and back. He got halfway down Yuuri’s back and still the man slept on.

It took a lot of effort to wrench himself away, to tell himself that Yuuri was tired and needed to rest. Victor tried to go back to sleep, but when he realized how unrealistic that was he got up and dressed for work.

 

Yuuri raised his hand and knocked.

Several things happened at once: the door opened, something banged loudly, something rained from the ceiling and a group of voices shouted “Welcome home, Yuuri and Victor!”

The next moment everyone was hugging everyone. Someone shook Victor’s hand and maybe the same person, or perhaps someone else, clapped him on the back.

“Victor,” Yuuri called and he turned at the sound of his name, “let me introduce my family! My mother, father and sister, Mari.” They all took turns shaking Victor’s hand.

There were other people in the room. These all turned out to be other friends and they all accepted Victor with happy smiles. Finally, after a good half hour of introductions Mrs. Katsuki caught her son and future son-in-law by the arms.

“You boys must be hungry,” she said with the expression of someone very happy about the fact. “Time for dinner!”

Victor opened his mouth to protest: he was still in his travelling clothes. He had his dinner clothes in his suitcase, still in the trunk of the car outside. He needed a quick wash too and…

He caught Yuuri’s eye and looked back at Mrs. Katsuki and followed her to the dining room where she served him the best dish ever invented by human beings.

 

Victor sat down on the bed, dressed in nothing but a bathrobe, and gave a happy sigh. The day had gone very well after all. First they had a very delicious dinner with Yuuri’s family and their close friends. Then he and Yuuri were sent off to enjoy the hot springs and spa.

He dropped onto his back.

Yuuri sat down next to him.

“How did you ever leave this place?” Victor asked, his hand sliding over to Yuuri’s thigh.

Grinning, Yuuri leaned down over him and whispered, “If you like it so much, we can get married here. Have a wedding in the hot springs and no one will have to worry about what they will wear.”

Victor laughed and pulled Yuuri down for a kiss.

“What was that dish called?” Victor asked, breaking the kiss. “The one your mother made?”

“Katsudon,” Yuuri answered. “Used to be my favourite dish when I was a teenager.”

Victor hummed happily and trailed his fingers down Yuuri’s back.

Yuuri kissed Victor’s neck and rubbed his nose against Victor’s jaw. Victor closed his eyes as his hands trailed onwards over Yuuri’s back. He untied Yuuri’s robe and then his own.

“Victor?” Yuuri whispered.

“Hmmm?”

“I want you to be on top this time.”

Victor’s eyes opened wide. “What? But I…”

Yuuri sat up on Victor’s stomach. “Why not?”

Victor stared up at him. “Because…” He had no reason that Yuuri would accept and he knew it, but he couldn’t. He just couldn’t.

“Why?” Yuuri asked again. He sat and waited, wrapping his bathrobe around himself.

There was no way to avoid it now, not when Yuuri had that determined look on his face.

Victor opened and closed his mouth several times.

“You seemed to have no trouble the first time,” Yuuri reminded him. There was an edge of anger in his voice. But how could Victor hope to explain something like this? Yuuri climbed off Victor, tying the bathrobe around him.

Victor sat up and dropped his head in his hands. “That time I saw you…” he began.

“What?” Yuuri asked in confusion.

“…at that club,” he went on with his head still lowered, “I was drunk out of my mind.” He took a deep breath. “That day another lover walked out on me. Again. It happened to me all the time. No one ever stayed long. Sometimes I knew they were just using me and I let them.” He raised his eyes and met Yuuri’s gaze. “But that time was different, not because I was in love…” he gave a sad laugh. “I’ve only been in love twice in my life. No, that time it turned out that the only reason they dated me was the heartbreak they wanted to cause me. They laughed in my face as they said it and… I don’t know why I took it so hard, but I did…” He sighed. “Maybe I just felt like an idiot for letting someone in to hurt me like that.”

Yuuri wrapped his arms around Victor’s neck. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“And then I saw you and wanted to date you.” He laughed. “I guess you could say I almost chased you. I tried to find you again, but…”

Yuuri pressed his lips against Victor’s temple.

“Lie down,” Victor whispered. “You’re right – there’s no reason for us not to switch.”

After all, he thought as Yuuri tossed his bathrobe off and lay down on the bed. I’m willing to grant your every wish and if this is what you want…

He got the bottle and squeezed some of its contents onto his hand. “I often wonder,” he said as he rubbed it into Yuuri’s skin, “what I would’ve been like if I’d met you when I was younger.”

Yuuri gasped. “I…I never thought about it,” he admitted. “What… ah! …what do you think?”

“Better,” Victor answered and leaned down to kiss Yuuri’s back.

“Really, I –” Yuuri tried to protest.

“I adore you,” Victor whispered, leaving a trail of kisses over Yuuri’s back. He climbed over Yuuri and pressed his face against Yuuri’s back. “I really adore you,” he breathed out.

 

Yuuri woke up and smiled. Victor’s arms were wrapped around his waist and his stomach was pressed against Yuuri’s back. Last night he’d been all gentle touches and kisses. At some point it had occurred to Yuuri that it didn’t matter who was on top – Victor was handing his whole self over to him in the same way he’d always done.

 

“It turned out that the only reason they dated me was the heartbreak they wanted to cause me,” Victor admitted, looking crushed.

Yuuri felt tears rise to his eyes.

He thought about this again throughout the night especially at the very end when Victor pulled away and turned Yuuri around to face him.

“I’m better when I’m with you,” Victor said, “so, please, no matter what happens, please don’t leave me.”

 

Yuuri turned over to face Victor and fell asleep again with his ear pressed to Victor’s chest, listening to the sound of Victor’s heart beating.

Chapter Text

Yuuri and Victor walked side by side, Makkachin and Vicchan leading the way at the end of two long leaches.

After a breakfast with a dozen other people Yuuri and Victor needed some time on their own.

Yuuri wrapped his free arm around Victor’s. Once again, the question of what to wear had come up the moment they decided to go outside.

 

“You don’t need to wear a suit to walk a dog,” Yuuri insisted as Victor contemplated the clothes he’d brought with him. Victor would never admit it of course, but Yuuri was convinced that he’d been overdressed for breakfast. They both had been (that was a battle Victor had won and Yuuri didn’t bother fighting).

“And what if someone sees me and takes a picture and then posts it?” Victor countered.

Yuuri shrugged. “What then? Aren’t you allowed to dress in something casual at least once in your life?” He walked up to Victor and lowered his voice, “After all the bad press, I don’t think something like this will really make a difference.”

Victor gave him such an offended look that Yuuri almost broke out into apologies. Of course, Victor would insist on this. There was nothing worse than the press saying he was badly dressed. Yuuri should’ve known.

He ended up dressing in a way that reminded Yuuri of an athlete in a photoshoot for a magazine. More than that, with his white polo shirt and white shorts Yuuri couldn’t suppress the feeling that he was about to go play a game of tennis.

Yuuri then wondered what exactly Victor’s expectations for their weekend had been when he’d packed those clothes, but said nothing.

 

Now Yuuri watched Victor with a smile.

“Is something wrong?” Victor asked.

“No. I was just thinking you look like a professional athlete. It really suits you,” Yuuri said. “Although, I am tempted to ask where your racket is.”

“Back home,” Victor answered.

Yuuri laughed.

And, of course, once Victor had sorted himself out to his own satisfaction, he’d made sure he was happy with Yuuri’s appearance too. That was one of Victor’s talents (as Yuuri had learned much earlier) – making even casual wear look good on someone else. At least it meant that Yuuri got to relax in something that wasn’t a suit.

“What are you thinking about?” Yuuri asked after a short pause.

“I already met your parents, but I’m still so nervous,” Victor admitted in a low voice. “I keep waiting for them to say something…” He paused and met Yuuri’s gaze.

Yuuri gave a little nod to show he understood what Victor meant. Victor was waiting for some hint at what had happened between them. All the conversations he’d had with Yuuri’s parents so far were innocent enough. Of course they didn’t need to ask him about his work: they knew the answer to that question, but to not have a single serious conversation about their marriage seemed strange.

“They won’t say anything about it,” Yuuri told him. “They’re not like that.”

“What are they like?” Victor asked. “You never really said.”

“They are…” Yuuri considered the best way to answer the question. “They are the nicest people in the world. They never told me what I should be when I grow up. Mari and I were always given the freedom of choice to do what we wanted.”

Victor was silent.

“What about your parents?” Yuuri asked. “You never talk about them, either.”

There was a long silence before Victor answered. “My father drinks a lot. My mother doesn’t.” The silence that followed was a lot heavier.

Yuuri took Victor’s hands, thinking of all those times Victor drank more than he should’ve. Ever since they got back together he didn’t seem to have that problem anymore, but Yuuri couldn’t help fear that it would come back.

“Do you remember…” Victor began, hesitated and continued, “do you remember the New Year’s Eve when… when you were still my assistant?”

How could Yuuri ever forget that strange call or the two weeks around it when Victor had gone to St. Petersburg without warning? Two weeks of panic, fear and loneliness that ended with Victor arriving at his office looking cool, unattainable and in complete control?

“Yes,” he said, lowering his eyes and letting Victor go.

Makkachin and Vicchan stopped and watched their owners with interest, as if they also wanted to know what Victor would say next and how Yuuri would react to it.

“I…” There was that unease again. Yuuri raised his eyes and watched Victor look carefully around them, as if afraid to see someone listening to their every word. He stepped closer, reached out for Yuuri’s arm and changed his mind, lowering his hand again. “I got drunk,” he said just loudly enough for Yuuri to hear, “with my father and then I called you.” There was more, Yuuri could see it in his face, but Victor was struggling to get the words out. Finally, he cleared his throat and turned away.

There was something terrible, Yuuri could feel it, so bad that Victor couldn’t talk about it.

They continued walking, the silence getting heavier with every minute. Yuuri regretted bringing Victor’s parents up. It had been so much better a mere ten minutes ago when he could lean on Victor’s arm and flirt!

How much longer would they walk like this? How many more times would they go from an innocent conversation to a painful one in a matter of moments?

We have to get through this, Yuuri thought, but his mind reminded him again and again of his old self – running like mad to satisfy Victor’s ever whim, missing sleep and skipping meals to get things done before a really aggressive deadline. He thought back to every hurtful thing Victor had ever said to him, of all the humiliation of their affair, of his vow to never return to the Elias-Clarke building.

And, yet, here he was.

No, I can’t think like this! I love him! Don’t I?

He raised his eyes and watched Victor. The man walked with his head lowered and the same struggle on his face.

Yuuri took Victor’s hand. I love him, he told himself, and I know that it won’t be easy, but I still love him and I know that he is trying his hardest to make me happy.

Victor raised his eyes like someone who was afraid of what he would see.

“You know, when I was younger,” Yuuri said, snatching the first thought that came to mind and making a desperate leap for a different conversation topic, “I used to take walks down this street all the time! The trees are really nice in the spring.” He raised his head to look at the branches covered with leaves, remembering how they would look all covered in blooming flowers.

“Yuuri,” Victor said in a tone that made Yuuri’s heart tighten in fear, “you know what I was like in those days.” He was hesitating and taking care with his words, but, despite how painful he was sure it would be, he was still determined to tell Yuuri everything.

Yuuri’s hold on Victor’s arm tightened as he drew a deep breath.

“I should’ve called,” Victor said. He raised his other hand and pressed it against Yuuri’s face. “I thought… I was foolish enough to think that I should keep my feelings under control. I thought no one should have any control over me. I thought that affair had been a lesson I was supposed to have learned from and so I wanted to be in control of my own feelings and actions.” He gave a soft mirthless chuckle. “I thought you’d try to manipulate me somehow, or hurt me.” He put his arms around Yuuri. “How was I supposed to know I’d met an angel,” he whispered.

Yuuri felt the blood rise to his face. “I’m – I’m not an angel!” he protested.

Victor pulled him closer, wrapping his arms along with the leash around him. “You are,” he insisted.

After a few minutes he let Yuuri go and they continued walking, teasing each other as they went, as if there had been no heavy conversation, as if it was all still fine.

Once they reached the end of the street, they turned around and headed back.

At the door to the inn Victor took on a serious tone again. “I was wrong,” he said, “a million times towards you. I did so many terrible things to you and hurt you more than anyone should, but still you forgave me.”

Yuuri nodded. “I did,” he agreed. “I do.” His grip on Victor’s hand tightened. “But then, I can’t help it, can I?” He saw the confusion in Victor’s eyes and explained, “because I love you and because I know it hurts you as much as it hurt me.”

“If ever I do something terrible again…”

Yuuri interrupted before Victor could get to the end of the sentence, “I don’t expect you to –”

“But if I –”

“And I’d rather not think about it.” He sighed. “Who knows what the future will bring? We make plans, but things turn out very differently.” He looked into Victor’s eyes. “I once vowed to never enter the Elias-Clarke building again.” He saw Victor open his mouth to say something, but continued anyway, determined to finish. “I want to stay by your side, no matter what happens. Separation is too painful.”

“Yuuri…”

He put a hand on the door’s handle. “Shall we?”

Victor nodded.

They entered the inn and set both Makkachin and Vicchan loose.

“You’ve both been really good,” Yuuri said, petting Vicchan and then Makkachin. “And I have treats for both of you.”

At the sound of the word “treats” both dogs sat down, wagging their tails happily.

Yuuri gave them a treat each and Victor crouched down to pet both dogs as well, getting his hands licked in return. Vicchan leapt happily at Victor and licked his face.

“He really likes you now,” Yuuri observed. At the sound of his owner’s voice, Vicchan left Victor and jumped on Yuuri instead. Since Yuuri was still crouching, the puppy ended up knocking him onto his back.

Yuuri laughed as his face was licked in return.

His mother rushed out to see what was happening, drawn by all the noise.

“Vicchan is very sweet,” she said with a smile as soon as she saw the happy scene.

Vicchan barked happily at her. Yuuri set him down and Vicchan leapt happily at Hiroko too.

“Do you need my help with anything, mother?” Yuuri offered between happy laughs.

“Not really,” she said.

But Yuuri went on insisting until she relented and admitted that there were a few record-keeping tasks for him to do.

 

Victor watched Yuuri leave and got up to join him, but Mrs. Katsuki spoke up before he could go. “Please stay here, Victor. You’re our guest,” she said. “It would be wrong if I made you work.”

“I…” he began, saw her expression and nodded.

“Come to the breakfast room. Yuuri will finish soon and then we can have lunch together.”

He followed her, feeling a little lost. He didn’t know how to talk to mothers, especially to the mother of his fiancé. Yuuri was present for all their conversations that morning and the day before so he didn’t have to think of anything himself.

But he was Victor Nikiforov, afraid of nothing and able to speak with anyone, so he fell back on old habits. “Have you been running this inn long?” he asked.

“Most of my adult life,” she answered. “It used to belong to my mother and she bought it from a family that had lost most of their money. She put a lot of work into this place and made it what it is now.”

“I’m sure you put a lot of work into it as well…” He went on to compliment her skills at running the place.

She blushed at all the praise, reminding him of the way Yuuri blushed. He smiled and complimented Yuuri next.

Maybe he was getting carried away, but what did it matter? She was a kind lady and he wanted her to accept him. More than that, he wanted her to see that he really treasured Yuuri.

An idea occurred to him then. There was more he could get from this, if he worked his charm to arrange for a nice surprise.

 

Yuuri knew something was up as soon as he returned and saw the way his mother was talking to Victor. If it had been someone other than his mother, he would’ve suspected them of plotting something.

“Victor?” he asked, appearing at their side without them noticing him walk over to them.

“Hmm?” he turned, smiled, turned back and winked at Yuuri’s mother with a finger pressed to his lips. Finally he got up as if Yuuri hadn’t seen all that. “How are you, Yuuri? Finished with everything?”

“What were you two talking about?” he asked, curiosity piqued.

Victor gave him a wink this time. “You’ll find out soon,” he promised. He must’ve caught the expression on Yuuri’s face because his own expression turned serious as he asked, “Do you trust me?”

Did he really need to ask?

“Yes,” Yuuri said, taking Victor’s hand.

“Thank you. Now, I think it’s time for lunch. You must be starving, dear Yuuri.” He put a hand on Yuuri’s back and led him gently away.

Yuuri wasn’t sure where Victor’s sudden confidence had sprung from, but he wasn’t going to complain, not when the old charm was back and having its effect on him. Yuuri found himself ready to rush off and do something for Victor and the realization troubled him.

But Victor went on as if nothing was wrong, as if everything was following a pre-established plan that had already received his signature of approval. It was different from Victor, the editor of Runway, who was giving a dozen instructions a minute and was upset that no one was ready. This was Victor before a client, or some panel of judges who were there to evaluate how he was doing.

With a pang of shock Yuuri realized that this time he was the judge: it was up to him to judge how well things were done.

But judge what? Did Victor change his mind and decide to get married here and now? Didn’t he want to invite his parents too and what about what they would wear? Had he solved that dilemma while Yuuri was away?

He couldn’t fight the mounting sense of panic, but when he looked at Victor’s calm face again he let out a slow breath. If they were about to get married, then Victor had it all under control.

So Yuuri had lunch and pretended not to notice the mad running around. He stayed in the spot Victor had singled out for him and listened to his father talk about their neighbours and all the other news that Hot Springs had to offer. There were all those houses someone had built and something about a road as well as a number of things that made no sense to Yuuri whatsoever.

He’d forgotten what small town life was like and had gotten used to big city life.

“And, then of course, there’s your visit,” his father added.

“What?”

“Big thing for everyone – here you are back home and with your fiancé too!” his father explained.

Had life here always been like this? Had he somehow forgotten or had it once been different?

“I hope you visit more often,” his father went on. “Your mother and I are always happy to receive you two.”

“Thank you.”

“And if you want to have children –” his father began.

Yuuri turned a deep red. “Children? We can’t have any!” he protested, getting really flustered. “We- we’re both men and… and… and…”

“It’s amazing what science can do nowadays,” his father said conversationally.

“Yes,” Yuuri agreed, too embarrassed to think of anything else to say.

Children…

He looked around the room and realized that at some point in the past fifteen minutes Victor had completely vanished.

Yuuri turned back to look at his father again. He didn’t dare admit that he and Victor never discussed having children before. Yuuri wondered what Victor’s reaction would be. He couldn’t avoid this conversation. This was one talk they needed to have and soon.

“You’ll probably want them to go to school in New York,” his father went on, “but schools here are good too.”

Yuuri nodded absently. Victor’s mad timetable barely gave them enough time together and even then they both had to fight for it, but children? Children they would have to raise, and look after, and take to school? He tried to imagine Victor taking a child to school and smiled at the mental image. Victor hired dog walkers for days when they were too busy to take Makkachin and Vicchan out, but you couldn’t do that with a child. You had to be there. You had to care for them, otherwise what was the point?

He didn’t notice how an hour went by in this half-conversation with his father.

Finally Victor returned with a smile on his face and a different set of clothes.

“What have you been up to?” Yuuri asked, rising to his feet. “And what does this mean?” he gestured at Victor’s clothes, wondering if this was a secret code he was supposed to have learned by now.

Victor was in a suit that Yuuri recognized as one he’d once been lectured about. He took in the shape of the pants and the length of the coat that both placed it as typical semi-formal wear of the 1940s and waited for the explanation that was bound to follow.

“I have one for you as well,” Victor told him.

“Oh.” Yuuri knew what came next. “I better change into it then.”

Victor smiled and led him back to their room where he produced the clothes for Yuuri to wear.

As he got dressed he wondered how many other couples always wore matching clothes. Not identical clothes, as someone else might’ve assumed, but clothes that actually matched. Victor put a lot of effort into making it look right. Sometimes there would be subtle details, sometimes it was just the style and sometimes they would wear the same thing in different colours.

I’m engaged to a fashion designer, Yuuri told himself time and time again, not an editor of a fashion magazine, but an actual designer who takes his job a little too seriously.

There were people who talked about work whenever they were elsewhere to the point of making other people wonder if they had nothing else to talk about. Some people would go so far as to always wear clothes with their company’s logo, but how many people really lived by the rules set down by their job?

Yuuri threw a smile at Victor as he donned his shirt and did up all the buttons.

“It really suits you,” Victor said once Yuuri finished getting dressed. He put an arm around Yuuri’s waist and whispered, “It’s so tempting to help you back out of these clothes.”

“Stop it!” Yuuri exclaimed and kissed Victor on the cheek.

“No, no,” Victor protested faintly and turned his head to catch a proper kiss. He moved to let Yuuri go, but now it was Yuuri’s turn to keep hanging on. His hands gripped Victor’s shoulders as his mouth held Victor’s.

“Yuuri,” Victor said, breaking the kiss after a good ten minutes went by, “Yuuri… they’re… they’re waiting,” he whispered breathlessly, pressing his forehead against Yuuri’s.

“Later,” Yuuri promised in a whisper and watched the way the blood rose to Victor’s face.

He let Victor lead him back down and to the banquet hall where a big group of people was already gathered and waiting.

“Wha –” Yuuri began.

A band – they got a band! Where did they get a band from? And when did they find the time to do it? – struck up Yuuri and Victor’s tune and Victor held out his hand.

“Will you dance with me?” he asked as the drummer started to really get into the music.

“You don’t need to ask,” Yuuri told him and gave a little nod before taking Victor’s hand and following him into the dance.

They moved too fast to stop and think about their next steps, letting the beat dictate what the next move should be.

Yuuri spun, and laughed, and kicked up his feet. Victor let him lead, following the way he always did – with a tenderness in his eyes that made Yuuri’s heart beat faster in his chest.

It got warm fast. They removed their jackets and kept going, refusing to let the heat stop them. It was their last night of their vacation from everything. Tomorrow they would have to go back and get ready for work. They would have to remember about deadlines and articles that needed writing and editing, but today, in this wonderful moment, all of that was still a long way away. It didn’t matter. It could all wait.

And so they danced away into the night.

 

They sat in the bathtub together – Yuuri was between Victor’s legs with his head reclined on Victor’s right shoulder and his hands resting on Victor’s knees. It was late, but that didn’t matter to either of them (almost didn’t – Victor had that sleepy look in his eyes that warned Yuuri that he was ready to drift off any moment).

“Thank you,” Yuuri whispered. “That was really fun.” He raised one hand to the side of Victor’s face and brought it close so he could press a kiss to Victor’s cheek.

“You don’t need to thank me,” Victor protested. “I had lots of fun myself.”

Yuuri shifted closer. “My father said something today that got me thinking.” He lowered his hand and fidgeted. “I mean, we never talked about it, but I don’t think it means that we shouldn’t think about it.”

“What is it, Yuuri?”

Again he thought of Victor as the editor of Runway – always busy, always on a tight schedule. He hesitated, the words hanging on his lips, waiting to be said. Was it right to bring this up now? Was it better to wait?

“What’s wrong?” Victor asked. “You can say it, whatever it is.” He kissed Yuuri’s ear. “I promise to do my best to not be upset.”

“Well…” There was no avoiding it now. He had to say it. “Victor,” he gave him another brief peck on the cheek, “how do you feel about having children?”

Chapter Text

Victor was, as many would’ve been glad to point out, a career-driven man. To him, work was everything. Other, less kind people, would just laugh and insist he had no feelings whatsoever, no heart and therefore no room in his life for things like family or friends. Who knew what these people made of his engagement to Yuuri? But, perhaps, their prediction of Victor’s reaction to Yuuri’s words wouldn’t have been far removed from the truth.

Children… Why hadn’t the thought occurred to him earlier? At least then he would’ve been ready for this conversation. He could’ve come up with the right thing to say instead of gaping like an idiot before finally saying,

“Children? Are you sure that’s a good idea, Yuuri?”

Yuuri was silent. He was facing away from Victor, making it hard to guess what his reaction was.

Victor mentally cursed himself. He should’ve said something that would’ve inspired confidence, something that would suggest that he would get it sorted out somehow.

But this was about children, he reminded himself. This wasn’t about a vacation somewhere, or some formal occasion that Yuuri needed to attend for his magazine and didn’t know how to dress for. You couldn’t just get children “sorted out”.

“I don’t know,” Yuuri finally admitted. “I want to know what you think.”

Little children running around, sneezing or throwing up on his expensive clothes, crying at all hours of the day, needing feeding and looking after…

Victor suppressed the shudder that came with that thought. “I’m…I don’t think I’d make a good parent,” he finally said and braced himself for how Yuuri would respond.

“That’s what I thought,” Yuuri whispered and pulled his knees up to his chin, wrapping his arms around his legs.

Victor couldn’t help getting indignant at this. A minute ago he wouldn’t have gone anywhere near a little baby, but now the thought that Yuuri didn’t think he would make a good father stung.

Still he couldn’t find the right words to say. He played a few scenarios out in his head instead.

 

“We can have as many children as you want, Yuuri,” he whispered.

Yuuri turned to face him. “R-really? You mean it?” There was a blush on his cheeks.

“Well, yes of course.”

The wedding and the honeymoon swept by and before Victor knew it he had three little babies that all looked a bit like him and a bit like Yuuri and, most importantly of all, they were the most fashionable babies in the world.

 

His phone rang and he excused himself from the meeting, knowing he had to take the call right away.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Nikiforov, sir,” the nanny stammered out. “The babies are all crying. They want you here.”

And with a sigh he would drop everything and go see them, knowing he had no idea how to help and suspecting that he would soon have to face the inevitable and call Yuuri for help.

 

He was sitting in a meeting with a baby on his lap.

Chris handed him the mock up for the cover of the next issue and the baby threw up all over it before Victor could even see what it looked like.

 

“Victor?” Yuuri called, rousing Victor from his thoughts. He was facing Victor now.

Victor’s eyes swept down over Yuuri’s figure, the babies forgotten. What were we talking about? What was I thinking about? Does it matter?

It didn’t matter, because here was Yuuri and what else did he need? He pulled Yuuri close and the world faded away…

 

Yuuri panicked as soon as Victor passed out, but, after watching him breathe steadily for several minutes, he shook his head. He was just asleep.

He made sure Victor was comfortable, turned away to drain all the water out of the bathtub and climbed out to dry himself. He dried Victor off next and then carried him away to the bed where he lay him down and covered him with a blanket.

Yuuri sat down on the edge of the bed and smiled at Victor’s sleeping face. Sometimes the man was like a child himself. He planted a kiss on his forehead and then walked around the bed to slip in under the blankets next to Victor.

His reaction to Yuuri’s question was exactly as he’d expected. Yuuri suppressed the tinge of disappointment at the thought.

 

The next day was full of goodbyes and packing, giving them no time to return to their conversation from the night before. Neither did they mention it in the two hour car ride to the airport.

Both of them found other things to talk about and when they ran out of conversation topics they fell to checking their phones.

Victor found messages that needed his urgent attention and, although he’d promised himself not to do it, ended up calling Yuri to sort a few matters out.

Yuuri’s question weighed heavily on his mind and he feared Yuuri would bring it up again, but for some reason he didn’t.

Their wedding was approaching fast, but now the worry about their wedding clothes took the backseat to another question.

What if Yuuri hadn’t asked the question out of curiosity? What if he’d asked because it was really important for him to know? What if Yuuri really wanted children and Victor’s answer had really disappointed him?

Was Yuuri colder with him now? Was it just his imagination?

Victor put his hand over Yuuri’s and got a smile in return. But was it the same smile he always got, or was it an uneasy one? Was Yuuri just smiling because he knew it was expected of him?

What was Victor supposed to do now? If Yuuri really wanted children Victor would find a way to…

Yuuri shifted closer. “What are you worrying about?”

“Nothing,” Victor lied.

“If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine, but please be honest with me,” Yuuri insisted.

“I…” Victor hesitated. The words hung on his lips. “I’d rather not talk about it. Not yet, anyway.” He turned away.

Damn! He was being selfish again and not thinking about Yuuri’s feelings.

“Please don’t be mad,” he said, eyes on the featureless scenery outside.

Yuuri put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m not mad. Why would I be? If anything, you should be mad at me for dragging you all the way out here.”

Victor turned and caught Yuuri in a hug.

 

“Yuuri is the most precious person to me,” Victor told Yuuri’s mother. He saw the surprise in her face, but went on, “and I will do my best to make him happy, I promise.”

She smiled. “Thank you. I really hope you two will be happy together.” She got up on her tiptoes and motioned him to crouch down. To his surprise she kissed him on the forehead as he got low enough for her to reach.

 

“Victor…”

“Please don’t leave me,” he whispered. “I know it’s hard to be with me, maybe even impossible at times, but please bear with me. I will get better, I promise.”

“You are better,” Yuuri said. He pulled away and looked into Victor’s face. “You are getting better all the time. I can see it and it really means a lot to me.”

Victor lowered his eyes, but Yuuri’s head dipped so he could look into Victor’s face. “I mean it – it means a lot to me.”

“Thank you.”

They didn’t look for other things to do after that, but spent the time talking about small, insignificant things, just enjoying their time together.

Afterwards a short flight took them home and they returned to the usual mad routines of their lives.

 

Yuuri was running late as always and didn’t bother waiting for the taxi to take him right to the doors of the restaurant – he leapt out as soon as it stopped, paid and ran to the restaurant.

For the first time in a very long while Phichit cancelled and only Victor was there to wait for him, but that didn’t make Yuuri feel any better about coming so late.

Yuuri spotted Victor and rushed across the room towards him.

At the next table over a mother sat with a little child, struggling to coax the little girl into eating something. Victor was so absorbed in watching them that he completely missed Yuuri’s arrival. Yuuri froze a few steps away, unable to find the courage to interrupt the scene.

The little girl turned away with her mouth firmly closed. Then, seeing that her mother was still trying to trick her into opening her mouth, she picked something up from the table and flung it. Her mother dashed to get it and the girl, delighted to be free at last, slipped off her chair.

She looked around, spotted Victor and marched boldly over to him.

Yuuri panicked.

“Hello, mister!” the girl said, breaking out into a smile. “My name is Anne. What’s your name?”

Victor stared at her in amazement and then a smile spread over his face. “Victor.”

The mother ran over to them just as Yuuri made the last two steps to their table.

“My mommy is an actress! What do you do, Victor?” the girl asked, giving him a curious look.

The mother cut in, panic in her voice. “Sir, so sorry to disturb you.”

Victor raised a hand and the mother stuttered into silence. This made the girl raise her hands to her mouth and giggle.

“I design clothes,” Victor answered. “Do you want to design clothes when you grow up?”

“Nope!” the girl shook her head. “I want to be a figure skater!”

Victor laughed. “But then you’ll need nice costumes to wear to your competitions.”

“Yeah, but I will do pretty jumps! I can do one now – look!” She jumped with her arms flung out, making him laugh.

“Anne, please don’t bother the nice gentleman,” the mother said, taking her daughter’s hand and leading her away. “Sorry, sir.”

“I’m not bothering him!” Anne protested. “We were talking and you interrupted!”

Victor noticed Yuuri standing next to him and jumped to his feet. “Yuuri,” he gave his fiancé a quick kiss. “I missed you.”

Yuuri smiled. “I missed you too. I see Anne kept you company while you waited.”

They sat down, exchanging happy looks.

“Yes…” Victor threw a quick glance at the girl and turned back to smile at Yuuri. “I’ll call the waiter over so we can place our order.” He had a faintly embarrassed air now.

“Sorry for making you wait,” Yuuri said, but Victor waved the apology away.

“No need to apologize, Yuuri. You know I don’t mind waiting for you.”

Yuuri shifted his chair closer, letting his knee press against Victor’s lightly. “Tell me about your morning.”

 

Lunch ended and they went their separate ways again, promising, as always, to meet after work.

Victor watched Yuuri smile at him before disappearing inside an office building. He sat back and ordered the driver to take him to work.

He let his mind wander. He had a week and a half left until his wedding and still no idea for what they would wear. Panic fluttered in his chest. How many wedding magazines had he studied? Why hadn’t any of them inspired him? (He was extremely disappointed by everything he’d seen and was amazed that any of the content was published at all when it wasn’t fit for publishing anywhere.)

By the time he arrived at the Elias-Clarke building he was furious and all the joy the lunch had brought him drained away. He marched into his office, feeling ready to commit murder.

It was his own wedding! Why couldn’t he design something worthy of it?

He dropped into his chair and produced a stack of papers from his drawer. This time it was serious. He wasn’t going to stop until he got something he was happy with.

But his hand seemed to have a mind of his own: instead of jackets and veils, it was tracing out little dresses with bows and shoes to match. Small pants with shirts followed soon after.

Victor tried to focus, but it didn’t help.

Little jackets, sweaters, vests, jumpers…

He tossed his pen aside and rose to his feet. What was his next meeting? He needed to get ready for it.

The editor was really restless – he couldn’t sit through a single meeting or listen to anyone else talk for very long. As soon as the meeting was over he went down to the Closet, telling himself he needed some inspiration for another photoshoot, or that maybe he would find an idea for their wedding clothes there.

What he found instead were two women, trying on suits with coat-tails and admiring each other.

“I’m telling you,” the red-haired woman said and Victor recognized Mila, “we should wear something like this! Just in white.”

The other woman considered this. “I was really looking forward to seeing you in a white dress,” she admitted, “but…” she tilted her head to the side and walked around Mila, admiring her from every angle, “this really does look good on you.”

Mila blushed and the other woman gave her a kiss.

Victor stepped back, feeling like an intruder. He thought about Yuuri and all the times they were alone together. He wouldn’t have wanted someone to be watching them.

The model turned and spotted him. “Victor!” she exclaimed.

Mila joined her in exclaiming Victor’s name and then both women tried to stammer out some sort of apology.

Victor waved it away. “I’m the one who should be apologizing,” he said and got two surprised looks in return. “What are you trying the suits on for?”

“Oh,” Mila gave the other woman an embarrassed grin, “we haven’t formally announced it yet, but we’re going to get married in two months!”

Only then did he notice the rings on their hands. He nodded, as if the announcement had met with his approval. He circled both women with a thoughtful look on his face. “Hmm… I’d say white suits would be a good idea. I would change the shape of the coattails on the back though…”

Mila and the other woman exchanged a look.

“Um… will you… I’ll send invitations soon, but will you and Yuuri, of course, come to our wedding?” Mila asked.

He nodded, not missing the “of course” after Yuuri’s name. How many among his staff were friends with his fiancé? He wondered then how many of them still kept in touch. “I can do more than that,” he offered, “I can redesign the suits for you to get married in.”

The two women exchanged an excited look. “Really?”

“Yeah…” He realized then that while he barely knew the two women he was having more luck designing their wedding clothes than his own and gave a heavy sigh.

“Is… is something wrong?” Mila asked.

Everything is. He stiffened and straightened up. “Wrong? Why would something be wrong?”

“Only you look troubled,” the other woman said. Victor really wished he could remember what her name was. He’d seen her often enough. Now what was it? But his memory wouldn’t help him out.

“Everything is under control,” he lied and saw in their eyes that they didn’t believe him.

“Is Yuuri okay?” Mila asked softly.

He opened his mouth and felt the truth rise in his throat. He was ready to admit everything to her and the thought frightened him. Worse, if she knew, he was sure that everyone in the building would soon find out Victor’s terrible secret.

He couldn’t design clothes for his own wedding.

Mila stood next to him as if she was about to put her arm around him. The other woman was on his other side.

Sara! Her name is Sara! He almost laughed when he finally remembered what her name was.

“Maybe we can help?” Sara suggested.

Victor shook his head, “No, there’s nothing wrong. Everything is fine and under control.” He straightened up and adjusted his coat before heading for the elevator.

He could tell they could see that he was lying, but no force in the universe could make him admit the truth to anyone other than Yuuri.

 

Mila and Sara watched the editor leave with puzzled looks on their faces. They waited for the elevator door to close and for the editor to be well on his way back to his office before turning back to each other.

“He doesn’t really think we believe him, does he?” Sara asked.

Mila took the jacket off and headed for the fitting rooms. “Maybe. I wonder if I should call Yuuri and find out what this is all about.”

“Maybe he’s just getting nervous before the wedding,” Sara pointed out. “Afraid things won’t go according to plan, or that Yuuri will change his mind and not show up.”

They stared at each other in silence for several seconds before they burst out laughing at the same time.

“Victor isn’t scared of anything,” Mila insisted. “That man has a heart of steel.”

Sara made an unconvinced noise. “Do you think he’s really going to design clothes for us?”

Mila caught Sara around the waist. “Maybe,” she said and gave her fiancée a kiss.

That evening Mila found detailed drawings of two wedding suits in her office.

 

Victor doodled on his napkin in the restaurant as he waited for Yuuri to come and join him. Yuuri had already texted him to say that he needed to finish something and would be a little late.

There were three children in the restaurant and Victor found himself drawing clothes for all three of them. One was a little toddler who couldn’t walk yet and Victor played with designs for a little onesie for him. The girl who was old enough to sit at the table like an adult got a plaid school uniform look. The moody teenager who sat in the darkest corner at his table inspired something made mostly out of leather.

Had there always been so many children everywhere? He found to his surprise that the world was full of children and wondered where they usually went and how he’d missed them most of the time.

His children wouldn’t throw tantrums, they would be intelligent.

 

Victor attended Fashion Week with his five-year-old daughter sitting next to him. Yuuri was busy as always, but at least his daughter was there to keep him company. She watched the new collections and in the evening while they both waited for Yuuri they would tell each other which clothes were their favourite.

 

He was doodling white suits now. Maybe they should do the opposite of what Mila and Sara were doing and get married in two big white gowns…

 

Yuuri carried Victor in his arms as he climbed the stairs to a church. Victor’s dress made him many times bigger than he actually was. The veil was so long it had to be carried by someone else and another person had to help carry the back of Yuuri’s dress. White lace covered both of their chests and sparkled. Victor traced the pattern out on Yuuri’s chest with his finger…

 

He spotted Yuuri entering the restaurant and folded the napkin away.

“Sorry for making you wait,” Yuuri breathed out as soon as he arrived at their table. He’d almost run the whole way, doing his best to avoid running into people and tables.

Victor smiled, rose to his feet and pulled a chair out for Yuuri.

Yuuri caught him by both hands and gave him a kiss on the cheek. He pressed the side of his face against Victor’s. “How was your day?” he asked.

“I…” Victor held Yuuri close, “I love you, Yuuri.”

“Victor, what…?”

“I really, really love you,” Victor whispered.

Yuuri pulled away and looked into his face. “What is it?” he asked softly. “What happened?”

Victor smiled.

There was a look of alarm on Yuuri’s face now. He sat Victor down and asked him softly, “You still don’t know what we’re going to wear for the wedding, do you?”

“I don’t,” Victor admitted.

“You’re not going to delay the wedding because of this, are you?” Yuuri whispered. “This is getting ridiculous, Victor. Let’s just buy something.”

“We can’t buy something!” Victor protested in a low tone.

“Then I’m getting married in a shirt and a pair of pants,” Yuuri told him. “I’m tired of all this –”

Victor leaned forward and caught him in a kiss. “I love you,” he whispered, breaking the kiss. One hand stayed on Yuuri’s cheek.

“I’ll talk to Phichit,” Yuuri offered, his face a deep red now. “I’ll promise him anything he wants, if he keeps this a secret. He’ll design something for us.”

“You’re so beautiful, Yuuri,” Victor whispered, trailing a finger lovingly down his fiancé’s nose. “Have I ever told you that?”

“Yes,” Yuuri whispered. “Do you want me to go talk to Phichit, then?”

Victor shifted closer. “I’ll take care of it,” he promised and pressed his nose against Yuuri’s.

“What’s gotten into you all of a sudden?” Yuuri whispered.

“I’ll take care of everything,” Victor promised.

“Victor!” Yuuri protested faintly. “We’re still at the restaurant!” He pulled away and looked around himself in panic.

Victor raised one of Yuuri’s hands to his lips. He went on smiling at the confusion on Yuuri’s face as his heart thumped in his chest.

What would Yuuri say? What would he think?

“Yuuri,” he began, “I want us to have children.”

Chapter Text

“What?” Yuuri stared at Victor in amazement.

“Children,” Victor repeated. “I thought you wanted them too?”

“You don’t have to do this for me,” Yuuri protested. “I won’t agree to that.”

Victor took Yuuri’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “I was against the idea at first,” he admitted, “but then I thought – children, Yuuri! Someone to be with me when you’re away and someone to keep you company when I’m busy.”

“Children need taking care of,” Yuuri said carefully.

“They do,” Victor agreed, “but both of us can take days off. We can work from home, if we need to.”

For a moment Yuuri was silent and then he whispered. “Really?”

Victor nodded.

“I love you, Victor,” Yuuri said. “I really, really love you,” Victor could hear the “but” before Yuuri even said it, “but I’m really worried that you don’t actually mean it.”

“Of course I mean it!” Victor protested.

Yuuri took his hands. “You’ve been working yourself too hard, Victor. I’d rather not make big decisions when one of us is really tired. Let’s have this conversation later, okay?”

Victor opened and closed his mouth before finally giving a nod. “You’re right,” he agreed. He straightened up and called the waiter over.

“There’s one thing I won’t budge on,” Victor announced after their food arrived.

Yuuri grinned. “If we do have children, you can decide what they wear, Victor.”

He opened his mouth, gave Yuuri a puzzled look and then said, “Well, yes, of course, but I was going to say something else.”

“Really?” Yuuri picked up his knife and fork.

“I am completely against stag parties,” Victor declared. “If you want to see a stripper before your wedding. I’m willing to do my best, but –”

Yuuri lowered his fork and knife and reached out to trail a finger under Victor’s chin. “Oh no,” he breathed out. “I think we will both agree that this is my specialty.”

Victor felt himself tremble. “W-will you take me to your club?” he asked, doing his best to keep his voice as steady as possible.

Now there was an outrageous grin on Yuuri’s face. “What a good idea!”

“I suppose that sorts everything out except the wedding clothes,” Victor said, returning to his food.

Yuuri shifted forward in his seat and looked up at Victor through his eyelashes. “Shouldn’t be a difficult task for the editor of Runway,” he whispered.

 

The Blue Something Club, as Victor had called it, didn’t have blue in its name at all. It’s possible that what Victor was remembering was the sign with the name – it was made of blue neon lights – and not the name itself, but Yuuri never asked about this.

The Hard Pole Club was one in a long line of similar clubs in a back street full of people who were looking for a good time, whatever shape it would come in. The clubs all boasted photos of strippers in seductive poses and tried to lure customers in with promises like “completely naked dancers” as well as “private rooms available”.

That night The Hard Pole Club saw the return of Eros – a dancer who’d worked there a few years ago and who was so popular in those days that they’d put up a sign just outside to advertise his return.

A well-dressed and very handsome tall man stood right at the stage and clapped happily as soon as Eros walked out.

Eros started out in a white shirt and a pair of tight leather pants. A woman stepped out, dressed in a very tight leather bodysuit and handed him a bottle of water, which he poured out over himself to excited screams from the audience. He handed it back to her and walked towards the pole in the middle of the stage, the wet white shirt clinging to his skin. He circled the pole, winked at the man in front of him and undid the top button of his shirt.

Someone screamed, making him pause, raise an eyebrow and wait until someone else shouted, “keep going!”

Two, three, four, five buttons…

Eros reached the last one, turned his back to the audience and let the shirt slide off his shoulders and fall on the man at the front.

A crowd gathered at the stage, but the man claimed the shirt for himself and held it reverentially to his cheek.

Eros swung his hips, his back still to the audience and circled the pole. He raised one leg and spun around, one hand held out gracefully in front of him.

Someone shouted to Eros that he needed to take off his pants and the rest of the audience turned it into a kind of chant. “Take them off!” they all demanded.

Eros smiled. Was it a trick of the light, or was there a blush on his cheeks? But no one seemed to notice, not even the man at the front.

Still moving to the dull repetitive beat that passed for music in the club, Eros leaned against the pole and unzipped his pants.

The screams were deafening now. And then it grew very quiet. The pants were really very tight and didn’t want to move off the stripper’s hips.

Were those straps? Was he in a thong?

Now the pants tried to take the thong with them and the audience cheered them on.

Eros turned his back on them again and wiggled out of his pants, getting some laughter and cheers. There were only a few straps covering him now.

He spun the pants over his head before dropping them on the head of the man at the front.

Now there were no annoying clothes to hold him back and he could spin around the pole as much as he wanted, one leg raised up and the other pointing downwards in a graceful sideways split.

Eros glowed under the dim lights. His eyes burned and his skin sparkled. Every person in the club was willing to do anything for a little more of his attention.

The pole dance ended and Eros climbed down from the pole. He walked over to the man at the front and dropped down to his knees to take his clothes back. As if by accident, the man got to stand between the stripper’s thighs for several wonderful moments.

Finally Eros rose to his feet, slung his clothes over one shoulder and walked away with a slight sway of the hips.

The audience whistled and howled with joy.

 

Yuuri blushed the whole way home even though he spent most of it with Victor’s arms around him and Victor’s lips pressed against his. He’d planned to keep himself under control in the car, but Victor wouldn’t let him go.

Finally Victor released him and looked into his eyes. “That was…” he snatched another long kiss, “…amazing.”

Yuuri blushed deeper, holding on to Victor. He didn’t have the heart to tell Victor that he used to get drunk before every pole dance to spare himself the memories of what he’d done and that this was the first time he actually had any memories after the fact.

Yuuri watched Victor very carefully. He’d only agreed to all this because he could see how hard Victor had been working himself. Most of the day was spent hard at work and at night he did his best to please Yuuri.

You’re not just working: you’re killing yourself, Yuuri thought. It’s the wedding and even the honeymoon.

Victor was going to take a whole month off for their honeymoon. As was Yuuri. Except that when a journalist took a month of vacation no one noticed, but the absence of the editor of a major fashion magazine would draw everyone’s attention, especially if it meant that the next month’s issue had to be prepared without him. Yuuri had already seen several articles wondering if Runway would survive the test.

So much trouble over their wedding and that’s not taking into account all the planning efforts of Victor’s two assistants, who had to book the venue, flight tickets, hotels and arrange for a car and a driver.

“What are you thinking about?” Victor asked, his arms still around Yuuri.

“How strange it is that a wedding is meant to be a happy event, but it’s been wearing you out and causing so much trouble.” He took one of Victor’s hands in his. “I’m sorry it’s like this,” he said. “I hope marrying me will be worth it.”

Victor pulled Yuuri into a kiss. “Of course it will be!” he exclaimed.

 

They slipped into their bedroom as if they were a pair of thieves sneaking around, looking for something to steal, treading quietly and not turning any lights on.

Victor caught Yuuri against the wall and kissed him as his fingers worked their way down the buttons of Yuuri’s shirt.

I want you, he thought, pressing his lower body against Yuuri’s.

Yuuri broke the kiss and breathed heavily. “I…” He wrapped his arms around Victor’s neck and struggled for breath. “Bed…” he finally breathed out.

Victor led him gently and lay him down with a smile. His fingers undid the zipper of Yuuri’s pants and he pulled them off. He’d wanted to do that from the moment he’d seen Yuuri put the leather pants on.

His hands slid over Yuuri’s thighs reverentially and he planted a kiss on the inside of each before pulling both close to his head so he could touch both at the same time. His hands slid up and down Yuuri’s legs.

“Victor…” Yuuri whispered.

He really enjoyed taking the thong off next, his fingers tracing out the straps before pulling them down. He especially enjoyed sliding his fingers down under Yuuri to trace out the vertical strap that went between his legs. He got a gasp out of Yuuri and grinned.

Victor didn’t leap on Yuuri after that. No, first he made sure his fiancé lay comfortably on his pillow and then he leapt, metaphorically, of course.

Yuuri’s fingers pulled through his hair and everything inside Victor sang.

I will love you and worship you every day of your life, Victor promised. Every day for as long as you want me to.

He sat up when he finished. Yuuri smiled up at him. “I love you.”

Victor lowered his head onto Yuuri’s chest. “Take me,” he whispered.

This time Yuuri turned them both over without argument.

 

There were two days left to the wedding. The editor of Runway sat in his office doing his best to calm down. He’d sorted everything out, every last detail. He hadn’t forgotten anything.

Right?

He’d decided that Chris would be in charge while he was gone and no one argued with this. More than that – they all seemed to approve. Out of everyone Victor felt he could only trust Chris to make decisions on his behalf and the staff of Runway seemed to agree.

They’d already booked two tickets for their honeymoon destination and Victor booked the venue he’d had his eye on from the start.

He went over everything he’d left behind, all the notes he’d prepared for Chris. This time Yuuri had insisted on no contact with anyone at work at all and he hadn’t argued. It was their job to deal with whatever came their way. And, so, the notes he’d left for Chris weren’t notes, but several sketches he’d made of pieces he wanted featured in next month’s issue.

The door to his office opened and Yuri ran in, looking really flustered. “Victor, your –”

“Please, Yuri,” Yuuri interrupted, entering Victor’s office, “I told you – you don’t need to announce me.” He stopped and gave Yuri an apologetic look. “Please forgive me for interrupting you.”

Yuri turned on his heel and walked out of the office.

Victor rose to his feet. “Yuuri! What’s wrong? What happened?”

Yuuri walked over to his desk. “Nothing happened, Victor. I finished my last assignment and thought – well, why don’t we just go now? You haven’t had a proper rest in over a month and I’m sure that a day and a half won’t make much of a difference.” He stopped and took Victor’s expression in. “You don’t have anything urgent left, do you?”

“No,” Victor admitted.

“Then, dear fiancé, may I invite you to go home and rest?” He held out his arm.

The door of his office had remained open and Victor could see both his assistants watching with interest.

Yuuri smiled. “Give them the rest of the day off,” he suggested as soon as Victor walked over to him.

Victor opened his mouth to point out that they had lots of things to do, but he saw the happiness in Yuuri’s face and remembered that he was supposed to be equally happy.

“But only the two of them,” he said.

Both assistants exchanged a look of shock. Victor Nikiforov was giving them half a day off!

“And only if you make sure that no one finds out,” Victor insisted.

Yuuri led him towards the elevator as gently and as forcefully as he could. As soon as they stepped outside, he directed Victor to his car, which took them home. To Victor’s great surprise, Yuuri led him straight to the bedroom where he undressed him as carefully as he could.

“You should’ve said –” Victor began, giving Yuuri a sly look.

But Yuuri cut in with an impatient sound and said nothing. Once he stripped Victor of all his clothes he lay the man down in the bed and sat down next to him. “Sleep,” he said softly. “We’ll talk in a few hours.”

“Sleep?” Victor exclaimed indignantly.

Yuuri turned him over onto his stomach and rubbed his back. “Sleep,” he breathed out in a voice that sent shivers up Victor’s spine. “Sleep, my love.”

Victor blushed into the pillow. Yuuri sat closer and continued to gently rub his back. He felt himself relax. His eyelids grew heavier and darkness enveloped him.

 

Nothing could compare to the feeling of freedom when he woke up several hours later and new that he didn’t have to do anything, that he could just relax and lie in one spot for as long as he liked.

Yuuri lay over him. Victor could feel his fiancé’s chest pressing against his back and the man’s thighs on either side of his own.

He felt truly at peace.

Or he did until he realized that Yuuri lay over him wearing the same thing he was wearing, which was absolutely nothing and there wasn’t even a blanket between them.

Still Yuuri slept on.

What could he possibly do in a situation like this?

He lay with his eyes closed, unable to wake Yuuri and move from his spot. How long had they been asleep for? Did it matter?

He had two tickets to a place where it would be nothing but warm, sunny beaches, which meant four weeks of rubbing sunscreen into Yuuri’s skin (and getting some rubbed on in return), swimming in clear blue water and as much love making as they could take.

Everything was going to be fine.

He couldn’t help the rising sense of panic. It started in the pit of his stomach and went up to his neck.

“Stop worrying,” Yuuri whispered into his ear. “Everything will be fine, I promise.”

“Yuuri?” he whispered back.

“Hmm?”

“Why are we lying like this?”

“I didn’t want you to go anywhere while I slept,” he admitted, brushing Victor’s hair to one side and burying his face in the back of Victor’s head. “Or to start designing more clothes,” he added.

Victor went very still. He wanted to protest against this, but Yuuri was right – in the past month whenever Yuuri wasn’t there Victor would spend every spare minute designing clothes. Too often he barely thought about anything else.

As always Yuuri was worrying about and taking care of him while he only made things harder for his fiancé. Yuuri had even helped solve his biggest problem.

 

“I’m supposed to write something about it,” Yuuri confessed, “but I thought you should come with me. We’ll make a date of it.”

There was an art exhibit at the Metropolitan museum. It used the Metropolitan’s own collection to do it. The paintings were rearranged to give the exhibit more meaning. Some paintings were put close together, others were given a room of their own.

Yuuri took notes as he went from room to room. Victor stuck close to him, his thoughts going on a trip of their own.

Some paintings fit together, as if they were the pieces of a puzzle and made people wonder why they weren’t always arranged that way. Other paintings got a chance to stand on their own when they were usually overlooked. Yuuri pointed all this out to Victor in a quiet voice.

After four rooms Victor decided it was time to play a more active part in the conversation. He took Yuuri’s hand. “Do you see what she’s wearing there?” he asked, nodding at one of the paintings. “It’s called…”

Everyone in the room turned at the sound of Yuuri’s laughter, curious to see what was so funny.

“What?” Victor asked.

Yuuri leaned closer. “Nothing. Keep going. I’m listening, I promise.”

Victor went on, telling Yuuri about everything everyone was wearing in the painting.

It was a good day. Victor and Yuuri told each other what they knew about art and history, enjoying every painting on display.

As they got to the end of the exhibit Victor snapped his fingers. “I got it!”

“What?” Yuuri looked around in confusion. “Got what?”

Victor chuckled and lowered his voice to whisper into Yuuri’s ear. “I know what we should wear for our wedding.”

Yuuri smiled in relief. “Will you tell me, or do you want to keep it a surprise?”

For a while Victor was silent. “No, I think I’ll show you.”

And he did, but, sadly, Yuuri didn’t understand.

So Victor had to arrange things so that Yuuri would understand when the time came.

 

Yuuri climbed off Victor and stood by the bed. “Let’s have dinner. I’m starving.”

A wonderful evening and day followed when it was just him and Yuuri, when he managed to convince himself that everything was fine and under control.

There was no insomnia now, no worries and no work to take up his time. The feeling was like nothing he’d experienced before.

 

Yuuri let himself enjoy the two days before his wedding. He knew that everything that needed to be done was done and that all he had left to do was to wait.

Normally he would’ve been anxious about it. Would the wedding go as planned? Would everything really be alright? Did they really not forget anything? But not this time. This time he got to see a side of Victor he rarely ever saw and it did a great job of helping him stay calm.

It was one of those times when Victor wasn’t lost in his own head but paid attention to Yuuri. The charm was back in full force and no one could hope to resist it, certainly not Yuuri.

Magazines, newspapers and social media filled with images of the two of them: fashionable, graceful and happy. Yuuri didn’t read what they wrote about them, but Victor collected all the photos and showed them to Yuuri as more joined his collection. There were even some from their trip to the exhibit.

Happiness is difficult to describe and often people have no interest in hearing about the happiness of others. But happiness is always relative and nothing is ever truly ideal. There will be the little everyday things, of course, and even after a big fight for happiness people will often forget how much they’d suffered before and focus on the now.

But not Yuuri and Victor.

Victor took care with what he said and did, doing his best to keep Yuuri’s feelings in mind. Yuuri was set on them having an equal say every time, so that Victor wasn’t always doing things that would only make Yuuri happy.

 

The evening before the wedding there was an official party that everyone who was anyone in the world of fashion had to attend and, reasoning that a party wasn’t really work, Victor attended with Yuuri as his date.

Everyone flocked to them as soon as they entered the big hall. Everyone tried to get their greetings in and to catch the editor’s eye. Navigating through the crowd was almost impossible and both men found themselves chatting with the people around them less than with each other. This kind of torture went on until the band struck up a tune, inviting all the guests out onto the dancefloor.

“I’m sorry about this,” Victor murmured into Yuuri’s ear.

“Don’t be,” Yuuri said. “I’m about to get you all to myself for a whole month. What is a few hours compared to that?”

Their eyes met.

“I’m yours forever,” Victor whispered, “to have and to hold, in life or in death…”

Yuuri’s mouth opened slightly as a blush rose to his cheeks.

“…in sickness and good health,” Victor went on, “in good and bad days…”

“Are you…?” But Yuuri didn’t get to finish.

“…in poverty and in wealth, regardless of what is happening around us, even if the world should end,” Victor continued, “I will always be yours even if death does as part.”

They weren’t dancing anymore, not even swaying slightly to the music. Victor held both of Yuuri’s hands in his.

“You can now kiss the groom?” Yuuri suggested softly and leaned forward to catch a kiss. It was briefer than they both would have liked, but Yuuri pulled away and looked into Victor’s face. “And same,” he whispered.

“I want to hear you say it,” Victor insisted and Yuuri laughed.

“While we still have time to get more practice in?” he suggested, a twinkle in his eyes. Then, not waiting for what Victor would say to that, he pulled him into the next dance, repeating what Victor had said between steps.

A magical evening descended on New York. Were evenings always this warm? Were the sounds of the city always this pleasant? Did it always feel so good to be alive?

There was no way either of them could sleep the night before their wedding. They knew this instinctively and didn’t even try.

Yuuri lay on the bed with absolutely nothing on. Victor sat beside him. His clothes lay in the same place as Yuuri’s. Half the night was already behind them.

Victor held a bottle of an oil that had a very pleasant smell and wondering if it was a good idea to tell Yuuri how much it had cost him.

Finally deciding against it, he poured a small portion into his hand and trailed a thumb coated with the thick liquid down Yuuri’s back.

A gentle sigh escaped Yuuri’s lips.

Victor set the bottle down, rubbed his hands against each other and trailed both thumbs down Yuuri’s back. And then slowly up, pressing down gently. He lowered both hands onto Yuuri’s back and rubbed them both.

Down…

Up…

Yuuri groaned.

His shoulders and neck came next. Then his back a second time, getting lower and lower with each stroke. It took some concentration, but Victor did his best to keep his focus. So his hands were on Yuuri’s buttocks now, so what? He tried to tell himself. It was just skin. He had to keep going.

He picked the right leg first and rubbed both hands over Yuuri’s thigh. It was even harder to keep going, but Victor poured more oil out onto his hands and continued. He got to the end of Yuuri’s leg, rubbed the heel of his foot and switched to his left leg.

I want to cover all of you with kisses, he suddenly thought and promised himself to do that next.

A part of him was scared to turn Yuuri over. That was when keeping himself under control would be the hardest, he knew.

But he braced himself and did it anyway.

Later, he told himself as he worked his hands over Yuuri’s chest.

Yuuri lay with his eyes closed, sighing and gasping as Victor caressed his skin.

His fingers trailed up over Yuuri’s neck, over his face and into his hair.

Yuuri’s forehead was still covered with sweat, making his hair stick to his skin.

Victor’s hands trailed back down. He let them slide over Yuuri’s nipples this time as he watched the shudder pass over Yuuri’s body.

He caressed the man’s stomach, spilling oil right onto Yuuri’s skin this time and spreading it around with his thumb. His hands swept over two hips and on to a pair of perfect thighs. He let his hands stroke up and down over Yuuri’s thighs and watched the reaction he got.

“Victor…” Yuuri whispered weakly.

He lowered his head and pressed a kiss to his thigh.

“I love you…” Yuuri gasped out.

Forgetting about what he was supposed to be doing, Victor rubbed his nose gently against Yuuri’s skin.

“I…” Yuuri breathed out, shuddering at Victor’s touch.

Victor slid his nose up Yuuri’s thigh and planted another kiss.

Yuuri gasped louder.

Victor switched to the other thigh.

He looked forward to sitting on a beach, rubbing sunscreen onto his beautiful husband’s back in front of everyone. Would any reporters sneak photos of them while they did? Could he get a whole magazine’s worth of their vacation photos just from fashion magazines?

He smiled and kissed Yuuri’s thigh again. Victor raised his head and saw the wish in Yuuri’s eyes. Yes, of course, my dear Yuuri.

 

The following morning found them both feeling very awake and very nervous. Yuuri’s hand shook as he drank his tea and Victor found to his great surprise that he couldn’t piece together a full sentence.

They exchanged helpless looks, too terrified to even laugh at themselves.

We’re already married, Yuuri reminded himself. This is just a formality, just signing a piece of paper and celebrating the fact. That’s all it is.

But he was terrified out of his mind. All of the worries he thought he’d succeeded in dismissing returned with a vengeance and refused to be scared of rational thought.

Something will go wrong. We forgot something. We’ll mess something up. We can’t get married because of a law neither of us had ever heard of. His imagination kept painting him horrors with gruesome details.

A good imagination is a terrible thing to have as Yuuri discovered that day.

He didn’t want to be separated from Victor, having become suddenly convinced that at least one of them wouldn’t survive the trip to the city clerk’s office for their marriage license.

They’d decided to split up earlier to make a nice ceremony of it, but now…

Yuuri remembered Chihoko. He thought back to that terrible fire and wondered if her spirit would rise from the grave to prevent their marriage.

It was an odd thought that he normally would’ve laughed at, but that morning it wouldn’t leave him in peace.

“Can we go together?” he asked Victor.

Victor gave him a surprised look. “What’s wrong, Yuuri?”

“I… I know it sounds silly, but I can’t help being scared that something will go wrong.” He lowered his head. “Sorry, I…”

“There’s nothing to apologize for,” Victor assured him. Pulling Yuuri close, he confided in a whisper, “I know what you mean.”

They stared at one another in silence.

“Does anyone know we’re supposed to arrive separately?” Yuuri asked.

Victor’s face split in a smile. “Only my two assistants.”

“I’ll cancel the other car,” Yuuri said, stepping away.

“No,” Victor caught him by the arm, “I will.”

There was a long moment of silence as Yuuri stared at Victor in shock.

Finally Yuuri nodded with a smile. “Ok.”

 

The first part of the wedding was a concession on Victor’s part: he’d wanted something grand, but agreed to settle for a simple ceremony to get their marriage licence in exchange for a big party afterwards. Only their friends and family were invited to the first part. Part two would take place at the Plaza Hotel – every bride and groom’s dream location (or so Victor had told Yuuri and Yuuri hadn’t had the heart to argue).

A long white limo decorate with flowers and ribbons pulled up at a grey building. Victor stepped out, walked around and opened the door for Yuuri. He held out his hand, which Yuuri accepted as he stepped out. They entered the building together like two people who only had eyes for each other.

The guests, those few people Yuuri had actually wanted to be with him at this moment, followed soon after.

Once they reached the clerk’s office Yuuri remembered that there were other people besides him and Victor there and threw a worried look over everyone present. “Your parents aren’t here,” he whispered to Victor.

“They’re late,” Victor agreed and pursed his lips.

Yuuri gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “We’ll wait for them.”

To his surprise, Victor gave a small shake of the head. “No.” There was so much betrayal in that face that Yuuri didn’t even try to argue.

He raised Victor’s hands to his lips, his eyes locked on Victor.

“I don’t have all day, you know!” the clerk grumbled.

Yuuri didn’t take his eyes off Victor. He didn’t even flinch, as if he hadn’t heard the clerk at all.

“We’ll wait,” Victor decided softly.

I want to really treasure this moment, this instant…Yuuri thought of that magical moment when Victor had entered the living room, all dressed in white and ready to go, when they took each other in and blushed like two people about to go on their first date.

I love you, Yuuri’s eyes said.

I love you more, was Victor’s response.

Oh really?

A murmur passed through the guests as they looked at each other and calculated who was missing. They held a conversation in urgent whispers and Phichit was picked out as the one responsible for finding out what was happening.

But he didn’t get a chance to ask his question: as soon as he opened his mouth two people who could only have been Victor’s parents burst into the room.

Victor turned away. Yuuri walked over to them with his hand held out.

All this time Victor had claimed that he was too busy to introduce his parents to Yuuri, but deep inside Yuuri suspected that he was secretly delaying the meeting for as long as he could. Nevertheless, Yuuri put on his most welcoming smile and greeted the people who had brought Victor into the world.

Mrs. Nikiforov had her arms around Yuuri in an instant. She held him close and spoke fast with a strong accent that made her words incomprehensible. Then she planted a kiss on his cheek.

He stepped back from Mrs. Nikiforov and took them both in. Mr. Nikiforov looked so much like an aged version of Victor it made Yuuri smile. It didn’t take long for Yuuri to spot Victor’s hand in their appearance.

Ah.

“I’m so happy you both came,” Yuuri said and returned to Victor’s side.

Everyone held their breath, waiting to see what Victor would do. His own parents kept throwing fearful glances at him. But he disappointed everyone by limiting himself to a single nod before taking Yuuri’s hands again.

The clerk walked over to them, adjusting his thick glasses and holding a few papers in his hands. “Are we all gathered here? How wonderful. Now –”

“Hold on,” Victor interrupted.

Yuuri raised his eyes and watched Victor motion Yuri over. The assistant handed him a box that Victor opened to pull out a veil made of thin lace.

“It’s our family heirloom,” Mrs. Nikiforov whispered loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

Victor draped it over Yuuri and himself.

Their eyes met.

Yuuri’s heart beat fast. Married! Were they really getting married at last? He studied Victor’s face, committing every line lovingly to memory, making sure to remember the expression on his face as they stood together under the veil.

Victor smiled. There was so much honest happiness in his face that Yuuri felt happy just looking at him.

How can there be any misery in the world when I feel so happy right now? I feel like I have enough joy for every human being on Earth!

Victor kept his eyes locked on Yuuri’s and knew in that moment that he wouldn’t just do everything for Yuuri, but that he was ready to fight anyone who brought a single tear to that face.

“We are gathered here today,” the clerk began in a bored voice.

We should’ve gotten married on a deserted island, Yuuri suddenly thought, just the two of us.

Victor watched the line of Yuuri’s mouth and waited for his turn to speak. He waited for the final kiss that would seal it all better than any official signature or stamp.

How many other couples had gotten their vows this perfect? How many of them actually meant every word and made them all sound so convincing?

Victor’s hand shook as his fingers slipped the ring over Yuuri’s trembling fingers. Yuuri slipped a ring over Victor’s finger next trembling so much he feared he’d drop the ring.

“I’ll always be yours, to have and to hold,” Victor added, raising Yuuri’s chin.

“I now pronounce you…” the clerk droned on, throwing a glance at the clock on the wall.

Phichit looked at Chris. The man smiled at his husband before sensing that someone was watching him and turning to see who it was.

“If someone had told me last year that I’d be best man at this wedding…” Phichit shook his head.

Chris chuckled. “We live and learn.”

The newlyweds let themselves get carried away. The veil slipped off Victor’s head, but stayed on Yuuri’s so that when they pulled away at last Yuuri held the veil to his head and looked at Victor. Victor’s mouth opened slightly as he stared at what he was sure was the most beautiful sight in the world.

 

That day The Plaza Hotel was host to the most fashionable wedding of the century (as predicted by pretty much everyone). The dress code was so strict that the security guards had special instructions to escort anyone who wasn’t dressed well enough out of the building.

What Victor had designed for them was a real work of art. Photographers – both the ones they’d hired for the wedding as well as the ones working for the leading fashion magazines – flocked to them to capture all the details as soon as they stepped out of the limo and walked the three or four steps to the hotel. Victor had stayed up late getting all the details right and had even slipped away from work to supervise the making of the clothes in person. He’d been set on not just every detail, but even the exact shade of white they were to use.

From a distance they looked as if they were wearing two white suits with a flattering cut. An observer who stood closer would notice the gold details here and there, but to really appreciate every detail of the suits one had to stand really close to get a good look at everything sewn into the fabric by hand in gold thread. An entire issue of Fantastic Man came out later dedicated to a thorough analysis of the symbolism in their clothes (of course, Phichit saw it as his duty to creatively misinterpret a few details here and there to avoid some of the messages Victor hid in the clothes). It was poetry written with thread. More than that – it was a collection of Victor’s wedding vows.

The other magazines got to write about what the guests wore.

The party started off with a grand banquet. Victor hadn’t held back and even flew a chef from France to prepare all the food they would eat. An orchestra played for them and, contrary to all traditions, the first dance wasn’t a slow and romantic one, but the swing dance to a music piece that had become theirs.

The newlyweds barely ate, preferring to dance the whole night away.

 

Morning came, bringing a bright dawn – the kind of dawn that you only got on clear mornings when there isn’t a single cloud in the sky, when nothing gets in the way of the gradual rise of the sun and no words can describe the play of colours over the horizon as the sky goes from black to a tender light blue.

The orchestra, worn out and falling over from exhaustion, put their instruments away and left to get some sleep at last. The guests drove away in little groups, except for a select few – the close friends and relatives as well as those who were curious to see what would happen next.

Victor and Yuuri, walked out of the hotel and, as if forgetting that cars existed, strolled in the direction of the harbour. Spotting their destination, they ran, laughing happily. The veil was still draped over Yuuri’s shoulders and he held it with both hands to keep it from flying off.

The sound of happy barking made them speed up until they reached one of the yachts floating on the water.

Yuuri stepped down a short board and onto the yacht where Makkachin and Vicchan greeted him, jumping up and down in joy. Victor followed.

They turned and saw the guests who’d followed behind them as best as suits and dresses would allow them.

“We didn’t throw a bouquet!” Victor suddenly remembered.

Yuuri looked around and spotted the flowers that lined the inside of the yacht. He took the closest bouquet out of its vase and held it out to Victor, “Will this do?”

Victor nodded.

They turned their backs on the guests together and each of them took the bouquet with one hand.

“Ready?” Victor asked.

“Ready.”

“One, two, three…”

 

Of course the media filled with all kinds of photos afterwards: the two of them on beaches around the world, Yuuri sitting at the front of the yacht and looking out over the ocean as the sun beat down on him, Victor looking fashionable while dressed in swimming trunks and nothing else. Of course, there were a few scandals: something Victor had done in public and a mad story about two drunks. But, they’d found their own happy ever after.

 

“It’s not really a happy ever after!” a little girl protested, pushing her long black hair out of her face.

Victor smiled, his arms wrapped around her as she sat on his knee. “And why not?”

“Because you and daddy still fight sometimes,” she said, looking at Victor with her big blue eyes and then turning her head to look at Yuuri sitting on the other side of the table.

“We don’t fight,” Victor insisted gently, “we just disagree about some things.”

Yuuri nodded and sipped from his cup of tea.

“And you’re telling the story all wrong!” she insisted.

“How would you tell it?” Victor asked, catching Yuuri’s eye and suppressing a laugh.

Yuuri shifted closer to listen and Victor leaned his head against hers, his eyes still on his husband.

 “Once upon a time there was a king in a castle (that’s you, papa),” she added, giving Victor’s sleeve a poke, “and all his subjects were terrified of him…”