“Mama! Don’t leave me, I’m scared—”
“Shh, little one. I’ll be back. I promise. Once it is safe, I’ll come back for you.”
“I don’t want to be alone, Mama! Please!”
“Oh, Vitya, I’m so sorry. Shh, shh, shhhh. It’ll be okay. Mama will keep you safe, and then Mama will come get you, and everything will be okay. Just hide here for a little while, alright? Just wait a little while. Makkachin will keep you company.”
“But Mama, you can’t! Please! I don’t want you to go!”
(A tender kiss pressed to his forehead. The warmth of her final embrace.)
“Oh, my precious baby. Be strong. Be strong for Mama, okay? I will come back for you, Vitya. I promise.”
(The light of her ship, fading far, far into the distant stars.)
(The Empire, chasing her, chasing her for her light and her magic, he knows—)
(And last, but all-encompassing: the silence.)
Two—no, three alarms start blaring as the ship rocks from another hit, and frantically, Yuuri slaps at the buttons on the control panel and jerks the wheel to the side, throwing his ship into a tight barrel. He’s technically out of imperial territory, but they’re ruthless, and they’ve been chasing him for hours.
A fourth alarm begins to scream shrilly into the cacophony, and his eyes widen. His main reactor core is giving out.
He can’t get away. He’s going to die out here, or worse, get captured.
“Shit, shit, shit—”
Knowing that the only reason he’s not on fire is the vacuum of space, he swallows hard and throws himself into a steep dive, twirling expertly out of the way of the blaster fire behind him. If he’s going to die out here, fine, but he’s not going down without a fight, and he’s gonna make these bastards suffer for it. After what the Empire did to Yuuko…
With a shout, Yuuri throws the controls around and whirls, wildly firing a volley back towards the fighters, before he fires the emergency thrusters to push himself into a new trajectory. It sends him spinning off to the side, and he can see Nama down below; he’s caught in its gravity, and in a matter of minutes, he’s going to crash.
(So much for quietly finding the Starborn Queen’s treasure and getting it back home. God, he’s so sorry—if he’d been more careful, they sold it to get medicine for Yuuko, but now he’s going to die out here, with no treasure and no medicine, and he’s sorry, he’s so sorry for failing.)
But then his breath catches in his throat, because one of Nama’s moons is right there, and wild, desperate hope flares up in his chest. Maybe he can crash-land on that moon—Nama isn’t a hospitable planet, but maybe this moon will be, and maybe if he crashes spectacularly enough they’ll think he’s dead, and if they think he’s dead, then he can figure out how to get home.
Breath in his throat, Yuuri swallows hard. He has to play this right.
When the next shot comes, he lets it. He sits, doesn’t evade, and lets it collide with his ship in an explosion of sparks, lost in the darkness of space.
And then he lets Nama VI’s moon take him, lets gravity’s pull drag him in, lets himself begin to spiral…
…and then he flicks the switch for the atmospheric reentry shields, holds his breath, and hopes against hope that he’ll come out of this alive.
To say that the landing is rough would be an understatement.
With the power core as destroyed as it is, the stabilizer thrusters never activate, and Yuuri’s ship thuds to the ground and skids, metal scraping and screaming, to a halt against a large boulder. Something is on fire—the acrid stench of smoke burns his lungs—and terrified that it might be near the backup fuel cells, he fumbles to unclip his seat straps and scrambles out of the emergency escape hatch.
There’s a large plume of smoke rising into the sky already, and a huge trail of disturbed soil and rock from the skidding. Yuuri looks at his burning ship and tries not to despair, but his heart sinks anyway. How is he supposed to get back to his family now?
But moping won’t get him anywhere, and for Yuuko’s sake he needs to get somewhere, so he squares his shoulders and gets to work. Once the fire is out, he takes stock of his ship, but the outcome is grim; the engine is completely dead. Eternity-class engines aren’t supposed to ever stop completely, instead maintaining a constant low hum of background processes and storing power, and unless he can find a way to kickstart it back to life, he’s marooned.
Alright. If he’s marooned on a moon he doesn’t know well, he needs to scout out his location to make sure it’s safe. Especially if the Empire scouts come looking. Which—hopefully they think he’s dead and are careless enough they won’t search, but if this mission has reinforced anything, it’s that he needs to expect the worst.
Groaning, he climbs out of the hatch again and takes a moment to slump against the side of the ship, exhausted. The adrenaline of the chase and crash has worn off, and he wants to curl up and drop into a deep, dark sleep, but—
The breath catches in his throat as the hairs on the back of his neck prickle.
He’s being watched.
Years of battle experience keeping him on his toes, he scans the horizon surreptitiously, as if stretching, and looks for any sign of movement. There’s a small blaster on his hip, but other than that, he’s unarmed; most of his salvage and treasure-hunter equipment is on his speeder, which is in the cargo bay of his dead ship. Surprise is all he has.
There’s a flicker of movement behind one of the boulders to his left, and he casually lets his hand slide down toward his blaster, disguising the motion by rolling his shoulders. His fingers curl around the smooth metal of its hilt, and he starts to pull—
“Did Mama send you?”
Yuuri stiffens in surprise.
A young man, approximately his own age, if he had to guess, stands in front of him, peering around the edge of the boulder and looking at him with wide eyes. His hair is long and unnaturally silvery, falling all the way down past his hips, and he’s dressed in some ill-fitted, loose robes, but none of those things really catch Yuuri’s eye so much as, well…
And suddenly, everything falls into place, so alarmingly fast that Yuuri’s heart stutters and nearly halts from the shock of it all: the Queen of the Starborn told her most loyal advisor that something precious of hers was in the Nama sector, hidden for safekeeping; the advisor revealed her secret on his deathbed to someone who betrayed his trust, and the rumors spread like wildfire through the junker community: the treasure of the Starborn Queen lay somewhere in the Nama sector…
…and the man standing in front of him is Starborn, hiding in the Nama sector, and thinks Yuuri was sent by his mother.
“Oh my god,” he wheezes, letting go of the blaster and stumbling back against the side of his ship. The blaster would do him no good anyway—the Starborn are terrifyingly strong with magic, if even a fraction of the stories are to be believed—and if this man is the Queen’s treasure, the Queen’s son…
“Well?” the lost prince of the Starborn asks, cocking his head impatiently. “Mama sent you, right? You’re the first person to make it down here since she left. She must’ve sent you!”
“I—not—not exactly,” Yuuri breathes, head spinning. Is there really no treasure? If there’s no treasure, he can’t sell it to buy medicine for Yuuko. Damn it all! This entire trip was worthless! And he’s stuck here, and this prince doesn’t even know that his mother is dead, and… “You’re. You’re Starborn.”
“Yes,” the prince says, suddenly guarded. “Are you with the Empire?”
“Hell no!” Yuuri physically recoils at the thought, shuddering. “Of course not! They’re the ones that just shot me down—no. No. I would rather die than work for them.”
The prince cocks his head again. “So Mama didn’t send you, and you’re not hunting me. Then who are you?”
Yuuri groans, rubs the back of his head, and wonders how his life spiraled so incredibly out of control so fast. “I… uh… kind of was hunting you, but not intentionally?”
The prince edges back a step. “What do you mean?”
Yuuri bites his lip hard. “Um. I’m, uh, really sorry to have to tell you this, but. Your mother is. Uh. She’s… not coming back. I’m sorry.”
The prince stiffens. For a moment, he’s silent, the glow under his skin flickering dangerously, and his eyes go cold and hard and unreadable, and when he finally speaks again, his voice is low. “What do you mean?”
Yuuri takes a deep breath. “Your mother is—was—the Queen of the Starborn, right?”
The prince nods once, imperious and terse.
“It’s, um. Pretty common knowledge, in most of the outer systems, by now. She—she had a final stand against the Empire’s hunters. Most of her people, including her, died in that fight.” Yuuri swallows hard. “A lot of systems saw that as a turning point. She took down a lot of the Empire’s fleet when she went. And, um. Inspired a lot of people. There were a lot of rebellions? But—but, um, that’s. That’s beside the point. I’m sorry. I… she’s dead. I’m so sorry.”
The prince sways suddenly, reaching out to clutch at the rock next to him for support. “No,” he whispers. “No, that can’t be right, you’re lying—”
“I’m not,” Yuuri begs. “I swear, it’s true, I’m sorry—”
The prince lets out an anguished scream and falls to his knees with an explosion of light that leaves Yuuri temporarily blinded. When the spots clear from his vision, the prince is sitting on the ground, weeping into his hands, and he’s no longer glowing at all.
Well, Yuuri thinks to himself awkwardly, this is probably a record for the fastest he’s ever broken a stranger’s heart.
“I’m really sorry,” he says, again, several hours later, over a cup of strange Nama IV tea, brewed from the prince’s garden. The prince—Viktor—looks up with a small, sad smile from where he sits on the floor, petting a large celestial hound, the likes of which Yuuri has never seen before outside of textbooks. Her name is Makkachin, she loves belly rubs, and she’s made of stardust.
“It’s alright,” Viktor answers, scratching under Makkachin’s chin. “Somewhere, deep down, I think… I already knew. She would’ve come back for me by now, if she was going to.”
Yuuri nods, hesitating. “So… have you made up your mind?”
Viktor sighs very deeply, looking around the room. His hideout here is simple—it’s comfortable enough, clearly very lived-in, but lonesome, too. It’s been just him and Makkachin for years. “I… I mean, if Mama’s gone, there’s really nothing left for me here, so… if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to come with you.”
“I wouldn’t mind.” Yuuri takes a slow sip of his tea—it’s more pungent than most teas he prefers, with a slight tang, but it’s not bad—and shifts his weight. “I mean, it really depends on whether I can get the engine working, but yeah. I’m planning to go from here to the Intermezzo, so I could drop you off, no trouble.”
Viktor looks down at Makkachin, something unreadable in his face. Makkachin butts her nose into his hand. “Can I ask you something?”
“When you first came here, you said you were ‘kind of’ hunting me. What did that mean?”
Oh, hell. “When your mother died,” Yuuri begins softly, looking down into his tea, “she told someone that she hid something precious in the Nama sector. Rumors spread. I came here looking for treasure. But…”
Viktor gives him a slow, calculating look. “And what did you want with treasure, Yuu-ri?”
Viktor says his name with a strange lilt, like nobody Yuuri’s met before. Perhaps it’s a remnant of the language of the Starborn. Perhaps it’s just Viktor.
“I wanted to sell it. I wanted money,” Yuuri answers quietly. Worry settles into the pit of his stomach again as he thinks of his crew, his family, somewhere in the outer worlds, probably thinking he’s dead. Thinks of Phichit trying to keep everyone’s spirits up, of Mari withdrawing silently, of poor Yuuko wasting away in bed. “The Empire… hurt my friend. Badly. And the medicine she needs isn’t cheap. So I wanted to find the treasure so I could help her.”
Viktor softens. “The Empire has taken from you, too, hasn’t it?”
Yuuri nods stiffly. Sometimes, when he closes his eyes, he can still taste the bitter ashes of Hasetsu coating the back of his throat. “They took my mother, too.”
Viktor is quiet for a long, long moment. Then he holds out a hand and beckons.
“Come here,” he says. There’s a new, gentler note in his voice, one Yuuri hasn’t heard before. “Makkachin loves attention. I can show you the spot behind her ears that always makes her foot thump.”
“Okay,” Yuuri breathes, draining the last of his tea. It tastes like a new beginning.
“Tell me about yourself,” Viktor says, three nights after Yuuri’s crash.
They’re lying on a blanket spread on the roof of his hidden home, tucked away into the rocks in a nearby valley, and the stars above roll by in a series of constellations Yuuri has never seen before. Nama’s rings extend far out into the sky to their north, and he swallows a lump in his throat, thinking—his mother always wanted to see a planet with rings. Look at them, through me, he wants to say, reaching for her, reaching for a barrier he can never quite grasp. Perhaps his soul is crying out into the cosmos, searching eternally for an end to the grief.
“About myself?” he asks, finally, responding several seconds late. “What is there to know?”
“Well, you know who I am, who my mother was, what my life has been like for the past several years.” Viktor shrugs, fluid and elegant, and twirls a lock of silver hair about his finger. “It’s only fair that I know about you, too, right?”
Yuuri sighs, trying to stop thinking about his mother’s smile. It’s more difficult than he’d like, in this loud, glittering silence. “I guess… I’m not really very interesting, though. What do you want to know?”
Viktor lets out a wistful breath, rolls over to face him, and smiles, luminous and glowing, just like the myriad stars twinkling above. His gaze is so piercing, so bright, so dazzling, that Yuuri almost melts under its intensity. “Everything. What makes Yuuri Yuuri?”
“Anxiety, probably,” Yuuri deadpans on reflex, and Viktor blinks at him, clearly taken aback.
And then he laughs, and, oh, Yuuri realizes, looking at the joy in his face: oh, he’s beautiful.
“Alright, then,” Viktor says, eyes dancing. He props himself up on one elbow, his hair spilling over his shoulders, and leans over to boop Yuuri’s nose. “What do you do, when you’re not hunting for treasure?”
Yuuri wrinkles his nose at the offending finger. “I—well, I’m captain of a small crew, and we mostly travel through the outer sectors, doing odd jobs here and there like smuggling medicine or food goods to planets under Imperial embargoes,” he answers, thinking wistfully of the Aria and of his poor crew who must be mourning him by now. God, he hopes they’re all okay.
“So heroic,” Viktor murmurs. A lock of hair falls across his face. He ignores it, but Yuuri has the urge to reach over and tuck it behind his ear. He doesn’t, of course, because that would be weird, and to distract himself, he keeps babbling:
“I say ‘crew’ but really we’re family, honestly. There’s my older sister Mari, and a bunch of others who aren’t blood relatives but who might as well be. Phichit is our navigator. Yuuko’s an engineer. There’s her husband, Takeshi, who helps with ship repair and also is a great cook, and Kenjirou—he’s barely more than a kid, but he’s great at languages, so he’s more or less our interpreter when we need one—and Seung-gil, the doctor.” He counts them off on his fingers as he goes, chest aching with the yearning to see them again.
“Sounds like you have a great crew and a big family,” Viktor observes, more quietly than before. He sighs, rolls onto his back, and stares up into the lonely darkness. “It must be nice.”
“Yeah,” Yuuri mumbles, awkward now because here he is, rambling about his loved ones, while Viktor’s family is dead and gone. “I, um. Sorry. Yeah.”
Viktor doesn’t say anything, but after a few seconds, he shifts until they’re lying shoulder-to-shoulder, just barely touching. He hasn’t had anyone around to be like this with, Yuuri realizes, and so he stays. Viktor seems to relax when Yuuri doesn’t pull away, and for a few more hours, they lie together, watching the stars go by.
Days melt into weeks, and the Empire does not send scouts down to Nama IV to hunt him down. Yuuri thanks his past self for taking the unmarked shuttle; if the Empire knew that the fugitive they’d chased away was Captain Katsuki, they would definitely have made certain he died in the crash.
But the Empire is assured in its power and perhaps growing complacent because of it, and they do not follow, and at the culmination of over a month of careful repairs, Yuuri finds himself aboard his shuttle again, staring despondently into its dead engine.
“I don’t know how to get it running,” he finally says, despairing, as Viktor clambers in behind him. “I don’t have a way to provide the power it needs, and…”
Viktor rakes his hands through his hair, tying it effortlessly into a messy ponytail at the top of his head. “Is power the only problem left?”
“Yes,” Yuuri sighs. “I fixed everything else. I just… I guess I could try to rig something up if we could find—I don’t suppose you have a generator, or—”
Viktor gives him a baffled look as though he’s started speaking ancient Terran, and brushes past, places a hand on the engine core, and closes his eyes. There’s a moment when the silvery glow under his skin fades, and then pulses like a flare, and something that’s not quite wind but feels like it sweeps through the room, riffling through Yuuri’s hair and making him blink. The engine kicks on and starts humming, its pleasing blue glow suffusing the engine room, and Viktor steps back, satisfied.
“Why in the world would I have a generator, Yuuri,” he says, smug. “I’m Starborn.”
“Ah,” Yuuri says, faintly, rubbing his head. “Right.”
“Wow, Yuuri! You’re so good at flying!”
“I appreciate it—shit!—but can you please use the seat straps until we’re not in an asteroid field?!”
“Okay, we’ll get there in…” Yuuri checks the system clock. “Four more hours.” He sighs, stretches, and yawns. Four more hours until he can get Feltsman to send to the Aria. Four more hours until he can tell his family he’s alive. Four more hours until he bids Viktor farewell.
Is it bad that he doesn’t actually want to bid Viktor farewell?
Makkachin pads over and lays her chin on his knee, gazing up at him with big, soulful eyes, and since Yuuri is not a monster, he immediately abandons everything else to scratch behind her ears and croon to her that she’s The Best Girl. She rumbles, tail thumping against the floor, and blinks in appreciation.
Viktor, sitting in the chair next to him, is watching them with the same unreadable look that Yuuri has come to associate with his grief for his mother and his people. He hesitates—should he ask what’s wrong? Something, clearly, is wrong (and for a moment, he hopes, desperately, that it’s that Viktor doesn’t want to say goodbye either)—but Viktor looks away before he can say anything.
“You’re the first person other than me that she’s seen in years,” Viktor finally says, his voice so light and carefree that it almost isn’t brittle. “I think she’s going to be sad, in four hours. You’ve been so good to her. It’s made her very happy.”
“In three hours and fifty-nine minutes,” Yuuri corrects, heart in his throat as he keeps stroking Makkachin’s stardust ears. “She’s not going to be the only one sad. She…” …and you… “…has made me very happy, too. I’m going to miss her a lot.”
Viktor gives him a long, slow look. Then his hand comes to cover Yuuri’s, resting atop Makkachin’s head, and stays there.
The unsaid words settle into Yuuri’s chest like a weight, dragging him down down down toward a black hole. He glances at their joined hands, at Viktor’s thick braid, at Makkachin’s gently-glowing fluff, and feels himself slipping away, falling toward the event horizon, until the words bubble up his throat and threaten to choke him unless he lets them spill out—
“Vitya.” Don’t leave me stay with me please come home with me I’ll miss you and I don’t want to let go— “Where are you planning to go?”
Viktor shrugs. His hand threatens to slip away and Yuuri seizes it desperately, clutches it tight. After a moment, he squeezes back. “I don’t know. I suppose I’ll… try to find out if there’s any others of my people left alive and free. I… I can’t be the only one…”
He sounds so small in this moment that Yuuri can’t hold back any longer. “Y-you could come with me,” he offers, filled with some sort of wild hope. “I mean. If. If you wanted to do that? We could—me and my crew I mean—my family—we could always. We can help you look? And, um—even if you don’t find anything—or if you do, I don’t mean this as a conditional offer or anything, I’m rambling oh my god, uh—there’s, uh. We always have room for one more?”
Viktor is slow to look at him, but when he does, he’s glowing bright, bright, bright, like the light of Yuuri’s hope, and his smile, oh, his smile is breathtaking. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Yuuri breathes.
Viktor brings their joined hands to his lips and very slowly, very deliberately presses a kiss to Yuuri’s knuckles. Yuuri’s breath catches in his throat. “I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.”
“Me too,” Yuuri says, and then impulsively, he leans over Makkachin and presses a swift kiss to Viktor’s cheek.
(Viktor’s glow shines as bright as the fierce joy in Yuuri’s chest.)
The Intermezzo is just as Yuuri remembers it: sprawling, seedy, and secretive. On the outside, it’s a simple shopping district. On the inside, it’s the capital of the galactic underbelly, the place where all the criminals come to sell their goods or to find new jobs, to check on spy networks, whatever it may be. It’s a shifting sea of alliances, and one wrong step could easily get anyone shot.
Yuuri has qualms about bringing Viktor here—gentle, sheltered Viktor, who has no experience with places like this and who already stands out in a crowd—but it’s the only place he can get in touch with Celestino, and Celestino is the only one who can get in touch with Phichit. So he tells Viktor to tie his hair up and out of sight, and to dress as casually as possible, and to make sure he doesn’t glow at people, and then he gets them both nondescript cloaks and takes him to Ciao Ciao’s Corner Café And Bar.
It’s late, so Sara’s working the bar when they enter, and Yuuri takes Viktor’s hand and murmurs, “Stay close to me,” as he leads him through the throng. Ciao Ciao’s is always crowded, especially at night; Celestino’s information services are notorious, to those who know where to look.
Once he’s at the bar, he flips a few credits onto the surface and leans over, waving Sara down. Viktor is looking around curiously, and Yuuri gives his hand a sharp squeeze—looking curious in a place like this is a surefire way to get attention.
“Yuuri!” Sara exclaims, eyes going wide, and then she breaks into a big smile. “Long time no see! What’ll it be for you?”
“It’s been a while,” he agrees pleasantly, before delivering the code phrase for I need to speak to Celestino, urgently. “I’ll have the house special, please, with a lime on the side—both of us will, actually.”
“I don’t like limes,” Viktor starts to object, but Yuuri pointedly steps on his foot, and he falls silent.
Sara frowns. “Now, Yuuri, you know we love you, but rules are rules, and strangers don’t get the lime special. It’s outta my hands.”
Yuuri blows out a breath, frustrated. He can’t just leave Viktor here—but he has to talk to Celestino, and the sooner he does that, the sooner they can get back to the shuttle to wait. Biting his lip anxiously, he glances up at Viktor. “Stay here for a minute, okay? I won’t be long.”
Viktor, for the first time since they’ve arrived, looks a little frightened. “You’re leaving me alone?”
“Just for a minute,” Yuuri promises. Viktor gives him a wide-eyed, skittish look that tugs at his heart, but he has to speak to Celestino. “Sara, can I go?”
Sara nods, and Yuuri gives Viktor a quick peck on the cheek and ducks around the bar to follow her into the back. Viktor will be alright for the ten or so minutes it’ll take him to inform Celestino of his predicament, and then he’ll head right back out to him. It will be fine.
It is not, in fact, fine.
When Yuuri returns, Viktor is frantically clutching at his cloak, trying to keep it about himself as the drunken man next to him tugs at it. “I’m just askin’ for a dance, there’s no need to be so shy!” he cajoles.
“I said, I don’t want to dance,” Viktor answers, pulling away. “Please go away!”
“You’re gonna dance with me,” the man insists, and—
Yuuri, quietly furious, steps in, sliding one arm about Viktor’s waist and drawing his blaster to press it against the man’s temple. The hood of his cloak falls back with the movement, and he makes no move to stop it, staring the man down. “He’s mine,” he says coldly.
Recognition dawns slowly in the man’s face—Yuuri’s face is known seventeen systems over, ever since the Eros incident. Yuuri kind of relishes the look of alarm. “C-Captain Katsuki?!”
“Apologize to him,” Yuuri demands. “And never pressure anyone like that again. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, sir,” the man stammers. “So sorry! Sorry!”
Yuuri only holsters his blaster after the man has disappeared into the crowd again, and then he turns to Viktor, worried. “Are you alright? Did he hurt you?”
“I’m fine,” Viktor manages, eyes wide as he presses into Yuuri’s side. “Y-you’re famous, huh?”
Yuuri offers a grin. “I may be kind of near the top of the Empire’s wanted list for destroying their records of all planets to be punished for treason?”
“Oh my god,” Viktor breathes, starry-eyed. “I may be kind of in love with you.”
Yuuri laughs and turns his face up. When Viktor kisses him, somewhere deep in the sky, a star is born.
“YUURI!” Yuuko screams, throwing herself at him, and the rest of the crew isn’t far behind. Yuuri finds himself on the bottom of a pile of all of his loved ones, laughing and crying as they all hug him and assure themselves that he’s really alive. “We’ve been so worried, oh my god—”
“I’m okay,” Yuuri promises, and then he clambers to his feet and holds out his hand and tugs Viktor forward, too. “Look, everyone! I even found the Starborn Queen’s treasure!”
Immediately, silence falls. Everyone stares.
“Hi,” Viktor says, smiling shyly. “Um. Starborn Prince here?”
“And also my boyfriend,” Yuuri adds, hooking his arm about his waist. “And newest member of our crew!”
“Boyfriend?!” Phichit shrieks. “Excuse me, Yuuri Katsuki, you better explain yourself—”
“Boof!” Makkachin comes bounding down the shuttle ramp, and Kenjirou squeals with joy as he kneels and holds out his arms and enthusiastically lets her bowl him over.
“Newest two members of our crew,” Yuuri amends, looking down at them. Viktor laughs. “Makka and Vitya.”
“Okay, little brother. You have a story to tell,” Mari says, ruffling his hair. “C’mon. Let’s make some tea, and you can tell us everything.”
“Yeah,” Yuuri says, beaming. He’s happier than he’s ever been.
“Both of you,” she adds, “welcome home.”
“Yuuri? You… you won’t leave me, right? Sometimes I’m just scared—”
“Shh, Vitya, of course not.”
(Gentle hands cupping his cheeks, a soft kiss pressed to his lips.)
“You don’t ever have to be alone again. You have me—all of us—now. I’m here.”
(The warmth in Yuuri’s brown eyes, kind and sweet.)
(The tenderness in his touch as he cradles him close, like he’s treasured.)
(The sincerity of his voice, soothing and genuine and real.)
(And last, but all-encompassing: his love.)