Their preheats start on a Wednesday morning. Yuuri wakes up first—which is already a clear sign—, sitting up with their bland cotton sheets resting in his lap and blinking blearily at Victor’s sleeping form next to him. Victor is usually up by seven whether he wants to or not, but from the look of his deep breaths and the open angle of his mouth, it’ll probably be hours until he wakes on his own. For an awake, clear headed Yuuri, this would be the point where dots start to connect, but for today’s sleepy, content Yuuri, the arrangement of Victor’s rarely seen bedhead is a much more interesting phenomenon. The silver strands part easily between his fingers, soft and silky and a little wavy after Victor’s shower last night. Yuuri combs it down and then to the side to reveal his mate’s face in all its lightly-snoring glory.
Victor’s expression is blank and relaxed, but Yuuri finds small pleasures in watching the pointed tip of his nose, probably as cold as his toes and fingers usually are; the lovely arch of his eyebrows, undisturbed and unworried in sleep; the shadows cast on his cheekbones by pale lashes, long and sometimes twitching in his dreams; and of course, the cupid bow of his softly parted lips, steadily puffing out air into the pillow beneath his head.
Yuuri shifts, wanting to ensure Vitya pleasant dreams by lightly scenting the edge of his pillow, and that’s when he notices; something is rubbing against him. He shifts again, a low whine building in his throat as the cotton sheets chafe against his sensitive, almost raw skin. The sunlight streaming in through their bedroom window is harsh and bright to his eyes, but retreating back to the safety of his pillow will be like burying himself in swathes of burlap and sandpaper. Neither option is favorable, and so Yuuri rolls himself out of bed.
The cold air against his bare legs is enough to chase the preheat morning haze from his mind, and with it goes the content feeling of a night spent cuddled up with his mate. Victor snoozes on, face buried in his pillow like it’s his personal savior, and Yuuri is, admittedly, a little jealous of both. He pulls on a fluffy bathrobe—soft, purchased for the sake of days like these—and closes the bedroom door quietly behind him as he slips into the blessedly dim lights of the hallway.
He needs to make some calls — first and foremost to Yakov so that he knows they won’t be in for the rest of the week, but also to Nikolai across the hall so he can give notice to all the alphas in the building to be careful with their scents in the hallway. There are other preparations to be made, sheets to be changed, meals to be planned, and supplies to be bought, but right now it’s a Wednesday morning with Victor sleeping in the other room, and Yuuri would like a cup of tea.
It’s nearing noon by the time Victor appears, dressed in his softest pair of pajamas with a blanket draped over his shoulders to trail behind. He pads in with his hair combed, though still tousled, and two pairs of fuzzy socks soften the sound of his footfalls.
“Morning, love,” he mumbles, voice still heavy with sleep.
“Good morning.” Yuuri presses a warm cup of chamomile tea into his hands and tilts his head willingly to the side so that Victor can nuzzle into the scent gland on his neck. His hands find their way into Victor’s hair, carding through the soft strands with greedy fingers and scenting him as he works his way from the crown of his head to the nape of his neck, releasing some of the tension trapped in his scalp. Victor’s pleased sigh washes over his neck, his hands brushing along Yuuri’s sides to leave his own scent to soothe the sensitive skin beneath the bathrobe, and Yuuri’s eyelids go half lidded as the sensation works itself up his spine.
“I called Yakov. He’ll handle things at the rink. Will you call Tasha later and check if she’s still free to take Makka for the weekend?” Victor nods into his shoulder.
“Are the sheets bothering you yet?” Victor asks, pressing the cold tip of his nose into Yuuri’s neck, feeling the short nod himself. “I’ll help you change them later.”
Yuuri hums in affirmation, latching his arms around Victor’s waist. “Later. Tea first.”
“Great idea,” Victor says, and Yuuri can smell the love on him.
It’s Thursday afternoon and their living room is now officially ready for a heat. With the help of Nikolai, who is not only a true sweetheart but also blessedly scentless, all living room furniture has now been either pushed back to the far off wall or carried off into the guest bedroom. Clearing the living room leaves Yuuri with plenty of space, space that can now be refilled with their scents and supplies without any distractions.
A spacious mattress has been rolled out on the floor next to stacks of fresh, scent free bed sheets and blankets that’ll be heaven against Yuuri’s sensitive skin. There’s a pile of other comforts on the floor; clothes of Victor’s that Yuuri has pillaged from the closet, fluffy towels, some plushies they’ve kept from skating competitions and ice shows, the blue pillow from the guest bedroom, and a few articles of clothing he brought from Hasetsu. He won’t start dressing up their nest until Victor returns from his errands and gathers his own pile of supplies, but for now Yuuri is pleased with his progress. The floor has been swept, heavy curtains block the windows, the cupboards are filled with snacks, the fridge is loaded with water bottles and fruit, and Nikolai has agreed on taking Makkachin for walks in the mornings and evenings until their heats fully start.
The only thing missing now is his mate, who—Yuuri checks the clock on his phone—is supposed to be back in no less than twenty minutes. That means he’s got enough time to cook up a meal, something tasty and indulgent like Victor always craves before heat. Biology demands Yuuri to take care of his mate, and so their diets will simply have to be put aside for now.
A small smile grows on Yuuri’s face as he opens the fridge to retrieve eggs, pork and spring onions. Biology is great sometimes.
Victor comes home exactly at four pm on the dot, just in time for Yuuri to place the two steaming bowls of ramen on the kitchen counter.
“Okaeri,” he calls back. A fresh wave of Victor’s scent seeps into the room once the front door clicks shut, something almost as soothing to the soul as the smell of the dishes in front of him. “Are you hungry?”
“For you? Always.” Victor appears behind him—still dressed in four layers—to press his cold lips to Yuuri’s neck. He blows a loud raspberry and smiles as Yuuri squeals with laughter and wiggles away. “Ramen fits into that category, by the way,” he says and presses his lips to Yuuri’s cheek, this time for a short peck.
“Great,” Yuuri says, gently pulling Victor by the hand into the open living room. “I was thinking we could put the sheets on and eat here? I didn’t want to get started without you.”
Victor squeezes back, entwining their fingers as he pulls out the sheets so they can scent them together before putting them on the mattress. They spend a couple of minutes smoothing out the wrinkles and creases in the fabric before they’re both happy with the first layer of their nest, and only then do they sit down with their bowls and chopsticks, feeding each other bites off each other’s plates until they’re full.
When Victor eventually gets up to change and gather his own pile of supplies for their nest, he comes back with an armful of clothes—some his own, most Yuuri’s—, a scarf they shared while out on their last date, a Makkachin plushie, and two bags from a boutique Yuuri rememberers being fairly upscale. Inside are four blankets, all unbelievably soft and luxurious to the touch in mellow pastel colors.
“I couldn’t help myself,” Victor mumbles into his shoulder, watching keenly as Yuuri drags his palms over them again and again. They’re so soft .
“It’s fine,” Yuuri says, valiantly battling the urge to bury them both beneath all these warm, good things. It would be bad to do so now; they would never sleep well in an unfinished nest. But once it’s ready... They can cuddle beneath all the warm, good things then.
“They’re lovely, Vitya."
A sweet blush works it’s way up to Yuuri's ears at that, but the faint purring Victor feels vibrating against his chest is a greater achievement. He presses into Yuuri’s neck and the scent gland which rests there, right where he left their first mating bite. It faded months ago, but it’ll be replaced soon enough. He leaves a kiss there, smiling at the small shiver it causes beneath him, and lets his mind drift to his own faded mark and how lovely it’ll be to have it renewed.
Makkachin has made herself scarce since yesterday, but now she comes trotting in to demand pets—which she of course gets—, but otherwise she stays out of their way, stepping carefully over their stray articles of clothing so as not to leave her scent on them before they’ve been placed correctly.
They work around each other, both settled in the middle effectively building the framework of their nest. The clothes that smell the strongest go up to where their heads will be, the fluffy blankets need to be by their feet together with the skating plushies—except the sushi roll and the minimakka, they go up, and the blue pillow goes on Yuuri’s side, though it needs to be close to the cushion on Victor’s side, and the towels can’t be on the inside edge of the nest, only on the outside. Yuuri holds Victor’s dress shirt out for him to scent, and then scents the collar lightly himself again before stashing it next to the sushi plushie. There’s too much blue on the right side. Yuuri fuzzes over some of the items to make it right while Victor arranges the minimakka just so, perched on top of a training shirt that Yuuri bought but only Victor uses.
There , Yuuri thinks, at the same time as Victor sits up and says, “I think it’s ready, love.”
With the nest finished and all preparations taken care of, they can finally succumb to the haze of preheat without any worries. They nap through the evening, curled up together in their nest with Makkachin at their feet and one of the new blankets draped over them, occasionally waking for brief periods of time to eat, drink and re-scent their space. The few times only one of them sleeps, the other watches them rest with a deep rumble building in their chest.
Thursday bleeds into Friday, but Yuuri can’t be bothered to check the time where he lays on his stomach, face buried in the sushi plushie as Victor rubs and kneads at his shoulders. Deep, contented purring flows freely from his chest, echoed back from Victor as he works his way down with skilled and attentive touches intent on reducing Yuuri to a happy puddle — and succeeding.
Time passes and Yuuri is running out of lives in the game he’s playing on his phone. He tosses it to the side into a pile of newly scented training tees and reaches instead for the plate of cut fruit by his elbow, popping a juicy piece of mango into his mouth and humming as the sweet flavor lands on his tongue.
“Do you want some?” he asks, looking behind himself at where Victor lays on his stomach, arms wrapped around Yuuri’s hips and head resting on his bum.
“Yes, please,” Victor says and makes no effort to move. He opens his mouth expectantly, waiting for Yuuri to feed him a piece—which he does with a fond huff—and as he wraps his lips around the fruit, he also leaves a sticky kiss to Yuuri’s fingers. He hums at the taste.
“You sure you’re comfortable down there?” Yuuri asks, raising one of his eyebrows as Victor makes a point of nuzzling his cheek further into his improvised pillow.
“Darling, I am plenty comfortable . ”
Victor practically collapses onto Yuuri, wrapping his arms around Yuuri’s middle to bury himself in his soft sweater and sweet embrace as a pitiful whine escapes him. Yuuri pets his hair, lightly raking his nails against Victor’s scalp until the scent of despair melts away.
“It’s only for a couple of days,” Yuui reminds him, carding his fingers through the small tangles. Another muffled whine sounds from Victor as his arms tighten around Yuuri’s middle, pushing his face closer to him.
“Tasha will take great care of her. Three long walks a day, her favorite dog food, all the pets in the world! It’s like a vacation.”
Victor remains buried in Yuuri’s arms, seeking comfort in the way his mate scents his clothes and hair until the preheat haze has him purring like an engine into his Yuuri’s belly. It’s getting warmer now, and Victor’s three layers of pajamas is finally starting to feel like too much.
They’re getting closer, then. The hands in his hair eventually still, and when he peeks up at Yuuri’s face his eyes are closed. Small puffs of air escape through his parted lips and his hair falls messily across his forehead, almost long enough to shield his eyes in the front. Yuuri’s sweater smells a little bit like cinnamon and a lot like the two of them, and the hand still resting on his head is a comforting weight. Feeling warm and safe in the arms of his Yuuri, Victor drifts off purring.