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Yuuri returned from grocery shopping with Yukachin expecting to find the apartment in a semi-presentable state. Instead, he opened the door to the same mess of moving boxes strewn across the living room he had left behind earlier that afternoon. The only change was that the couch was now pushed up against the far wall, a large box marked KUKHNYA set in front of it like a table. 

Viktor was sitting on the couch a mess of papers and photographs in his lap. Upon hearing Yuuri’s mumbled, “Tadaima,” he looked up and smiled wide. “Yuuri, you're home!” 

Beside him, Yuri looked up from his phone long enough to roll his eyes. 

Yuuri set the groceries down on their dining table – currently pushed against the wall next to the apartment’s front door – and reached over to unclip Yukachin’s leash, frowning. He and Viktor were supposed to keep unpacking boxes today. He didn't blame his fiancé for taking a break, especially if Yuri dropped by, but this looked like much more than a mere break. 

“What are you two doing?” he said as he gave Yukachin one last pat and released the poodle. 

Viktor patted the spot on the couch next to him, beckoning Yuuri to join him. “Yukachin’s birthday is coming up. I'm planning his party.” 

Yuri turned his phone to show Viktor something on the screen. “Here's a baker. Call and see if they can make your stupid cake before they close.” 

The silver-haired man started to take the phone, but Yuri shot him a withering glare and he took out his own phone instead, typed in the number Yuri indicated, and leapt to his feet as the phone rang. He stopped by Yuuri to hug him, resting his head on his coach’s shoulder briefly with a smile that Yuuri happily returned, and then darted into the kitchen to talk to the bakers. Yuuri watched him go, still smiling in affection. 

“Stop being gross,” Yuri muttered without even looking up from his phone. 

“What's this about a party?” Yuuri asked, sitting down next to the teenager. 

Yuri snorted. “Viktor does this every year. He goes all out on a party for his beloved Yuka and invites everyone from the rink. Usually, only Mila and Georgi come but he still makes me help him plan a whole big thing meant for a dozen or more people.”

“How long have you been helping?” 

“Since I started coming to these things. Viktor is absolute shit at planning parties. I don't know why I bother; nobody comes anyway and it's for a dog. Yukachin probably doesn't realize it's not just another normal day.”

At the sound of his name, Yukachin barked once and darted around the boxes scattered around the room to stand in front of Yuri, tail wagging. The teenager sighed but scratched the dog’s head affectionately, and Yuuri had to turn away to hide a smile. 

Viktor finished up his phone call and returned to the living room. He sat down on Yuuri’s other side, legs tucked underneath him, and leaned over to rest his chin on his fiancé’s shoulder. 

“How’s the planning going?” Yuuri asked. 

Viktor hummed. “Good, good. We still need to figure out some decorations but most things are already set.”

“When is Yukachin’s birthday? I thought you didn't celebrate before the date.” 

“We don't,” Viktor said, grinning. “Yuka’s birthday is today. We’ll have the party on Saturday. Yura, are you making invitations again?” 

Yuri had his nose in his phone again, but he looked away long enough to give Viktor a withering glare.

Viktor chuckled. “That's a yes, then?” 

“Fuck you.”

Once Yuri had gone home and the groceries had been put away properly, Yuuri looked around the apartment and inwardly despaired at the mess. They had unpacked quite a bit the day before, but there was still so much left to do – boxes to unpack, furniture to rearrange, pictures to hang up. It was hard to find the motivation to do so when he had Viktor draped all over him, showing him pictures from Yukachin’s past parties with an affectionate eagerness tempered by gradually increasing sleepiness. The younger man had to keep pausing every few moments to yawn, and every time he did so he put more and more of his weight onto Yuuri until they both fell sideways. Viktor carefully set the photographs aside and snuggled into Yuuri’s side.

“Viktor, we should get back to work,” Yuuri chided gently, trying and failing to hide a yawn. 

“Is it too early to go to bed?”


“But Yukachin’s already in bed.”

“He has a bed; we don’t.”

Viktor harrumphed and shut his eyes. “We’re fine right here.”

Yuuri was tempted to agree; the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the apartment’s large windows made him feel pleasantly warm, and while the couch wasn’t exactly comfortable to lie on, being curled up with Viktor like this more than made up for it. He could stay like this for hours, idly running a hand through Viktor’s hair. He felt himself slipping further and further into sleep before, finally, he forced himself to sit up.

“Come on. The sooner we finish, the sooner we can relax. We also can’t start decorating for the party until we’re done unpacking.”

Viktor sat up as well and took his hair out of its ponytail to retie it. “Fine. But we’re doing real unpacking, not just putting everything into piles and setting it aside.”

Yuuri crossed his arms, faking indignation. “That counts as unpacking, doesn’t it?”

“Everything has a place for a reason.”

“I suppose you’d know.” Most of the things strewn across the apartment were Viktor’s, though small signs of Yuuri’s habitation began becoming more and more evident as time went on. Still, this was their apartment, and both Yuuri and Viktor had an equal say in where everything went. They shared a small smile, the argument quickly forgotten, and Yuuri reached over to open the box directly in front of him, marked КУХНЯ

“Ah, that goes in the kitchen,” Viktor said. “Let’s save that for when we can get across the living room.”

“Okay.” Yuuri edged his way around the box to the one next to it. This one was marked КНИГИ . He spent a minute trying to decipher the word based on his limited command of Russian before he turned to Viktor, muttering, “Why didn’t we label these in English?”

Viktor grinned sheepishly. “Oops. I should’ve thought of that. Those are books. The box next to it is movies and CDs.”

The bookshelf was already in its permanent place, so Yuuri moved the two boxes over to it and began putting the contents away, humming softly under his breath. He was tired and sore and gave himself too many paper cuts to count while handling the books, but he was happy. Viktor was happy too, as evidenced by the way he kept catching Yuuri’s eye and smiling as he set up the television. The pure adoration in his expression made Yuuri’s breath catch in his throat. How had his life taken such a turn? A year ago, he had no idea what his future would hold. He had been so tired – of fighting to keep up with younger skaters, of keeping hold of his love for the ice, of finding joy in life. Yet here he was, half the world away from Japan, covered in dust and cobwebs, trading silly expressions with his fiancé whenever their eyes met while they partook in what was probably Yuuri’s least favorite activity of all time. 

He was happy.

He was so, so blissfully happy; the kind of happy that made his heart feel like it would overflow with pure joy. It scared him, in a way; he had grown so used to the lack of emotion in everything he did that being this content felt like a crime. He didn’t want to go back to the way things were before, where his struggles were his alone and nobody or anything could elicit any sort of feeling from him.

Without realizing it, he reached the bottom of the box of books. The last book was a large photo album with a blue cover. Viktor saw Yuuri holding it and chuckled. 

“Those are all pictures of Yukachin. I forgot I’d put it with the rest of the books.”

Yuuri opened the photo album and began flipping through it. “How many pictures do you have in here?”

Viktor shrugged. “Lots. I lost count a long time ago.” He reached over to the second box next to Yuuri and began sorting out the movies and CDs. “We’re almost out of room on these shelves. Should we keep the movies here and put the music with the books?”

Yuuri glanced at the stacks Viktor was forming, gauged their sizes, and nodded. “Sure, that works.” 

The photo album was truly massive; Viktor had documented a significant amount of Yukachin’s life in great detail. Yuuri stopped at one of the last pages and recognized the cake Viktor had shown him earlier in one of his photographs he had been looking through with Yuri. These were from last year’s party. The vast majority of the pictures had Yukachin alone in them, but there were a few with Viktor and Yukachin, and one selfie with Viktor, Yukachin, Georgi, Mila, Yuri, and a fluffy black and white cat in the blond teenager’s arms. Yuuri went back a few pages and found the party from the year before that. And before that. And before that. He came to what must’ve been the first party Viktor threw for Yukachin – the poodle was still clearly growing out of his puppy stage – and felt a stab of sadness for his fiancé. There was nobody in any of these pictures except for Yukachin and all of the decorations were clearly hand-made by Viktor. How long had he been alone like this, with no one to shower affection onto besides his dog? Had he had anyone to show him as much love as he gave? 

The thought filled him with immense sadness.

The day of the party, Yuri burst into the apartment as Viktor and Yuuri finished up washing their dishes from breakfast, laden down with bags.

“Are those the decorations? Give us a minute; we’ll help you put them up.”

Yuri shook his head. “Nope. Hurry up and get out. Take Yukachin with you.”

“Kicking us out of our own home? Yura, you wound me,” Viktor said. He leaned his cheek on his hand dramatically, splashing water on Yuuri, who flicked him lightly with the cloth he was using to dry the clean dishes. 

“We don’t mind helping,” Yuuri said. “It is our party, after all.”

“And have you two be disgusting on the couch while I do all the work anyway? No thanks. Go.”

Viktor grinned. “If you say so.” He dried his hand off and kissed Yuuri on the cheek before darting off into the bedroom to get dressed. The older man finished putting away the last bowl and followed. When they returned to the living room, Yuri was still standing in the same spot. He had set the bags down to get his phone out and text somebody, cursing under his breath. Viktor clipped on Yukachin’s leash while Yuuri confirmed one last time that the teenager didn’t want their help. 

“Get out,” Yuri growled. “And don’t come back until I tell you I’m done.”

“If you say so,” Viktor said. He took Yuuri’s hand, and they left the apartment. 

They walked around a nearby park for several hours, relishing the feeling of finally being able to relax. Not even moving had been enough to interrupt training, and it had been several days since the last time Yuuri and Viktor had been able to spend the morning outside of the rink. They set Yukachin loose to run around and sat down on a bench to watch the dog chase squirrels. 

“Do you think Yuri needs us to go pick up the cake?” Viktor said suddenly. 

“I don’t know. Let’s ask him.”

Viktor sent him a text, and received a reply almost instantly.

Stay the fuck away .

Yuuri chuckled. “He’s really taking this seriously.”

Finally, shortly before noon, Mila sent them a text to let them know that everything was ready. She was right on time. Viktor had spent the previous fifteen minutes describing the cake with accompanying dog-safe cupcake that he had ordered, and Yuuri was famished. They collected Yukachin and Viktor took a moment to smooth down the poodle’s fur and pluck out the leaf fragments he had collected. 

“Are you ready for your surprise, Yuka?” he cooed.

The dog barked once and wagged his tail eagerly in response. 

They walked back to the apartment and once again Viktor checked Yukachin’s fur. 

“Viktor, he looks fine. Let’s go in.”

Viktor stood up and smoothed down Yuuri’s hair as well. “Not until we all look nice.” Once he was satisfied with the state of Yuuri’s hair, he unclipped Yukachin’s leash and opened the door.


Yukachin darted inside the apartment, barking in excitement at the noise. It quickly became apparent to Viktor and Yuuri, though, that this party wasn’t entirely meant for Yukachin. Mila, Georgi, and Yuri were here, standing in front of the couch with a pile of gifts on the table next to them. Christophe and Phichit stood next to them, holding a banner that read, Welcome Home!

“Did you plan this?” Yuuri asked Viktor, eyes narrowed.

His fiancé shook his head. “No, no. What’s going on here?”

“Yuri thought we should throw you two a housewarming party, and we figured the best way to surprise you was to combine it with Yukachin’s birthday party.”

“I did not ,” Yuri hissed.

“He did,” Phichit said with a grin. “He invited me and Chris too.”

At that moment, Yukachin found Yuri’s cat, who had hidden behind the couch at the first outburst of noise. The sudden onslaught of hissing and barking nearly drowned out Yuri’s angry shouts as Georgi continued to tease him. 

It was chaos.

It was family.

And when Yuuri turned to Viktor and met his fiancé’s eyes, he knew he felt it too.