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Strange Times

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Hiroko always knew her son was gay for Victor. It was painfully obvious to anyone with eyes, and ears, and a brain that her darling Yuuri was obsessed with the attractive Russian athlete. Her and her husband had long since accepted their son, queerness and all, though they never said anything to him about it directly. They simply waited and hoped that, one day, their son would come out and tell them, himself. 
That day never seemed to arrive, however, and their darling Yuuri moved to America without once bringing home a young man, or young woman, for that matter, for his parents to coo over. It hurt, more than they could ever let Yuuri know, him moving away. They accepted and understood his dreams, but sometimes, they couldn't help but wish that their son would one day open up to them. 
It broke Hiroko's heart to call her son and tell him Vicchan had passed away. It hurt even worse to watch him fall on the ice, again and again, every movement full of grief and sorrow. She wanted nothing more than to fly over there, her inn be damned, and scoop him up in her arms and just protect him from the world. 
She would never do that, though. She loved her son too much to take away his chance to grow. As much as she and her husband wanted him to come home, they knew that he needed to find his path on his own. So every time Yuuri called home, their voices remained strong and cheerful. They knew their duty as parents was to remain a steady, supportive presence in their child's life, whether he wished for it or not. 
That was why, when Yuuri announced that he would be moving back home after his disastrous season, the news was bittersweet. They welcomed their son home with a cheerful disposition and an open mind, but found it hard to hide their worry as they watched him become more reclusive.

****

"Yuuri! Come and help your mother in the kitchen!" Toshiya's voice was calm as he knocked on the door to his son's room. When he got no response, he knocked again, his voice quieter, "Are you okay, Yuuri?"
"I'm fine, dad. I'll be down soon."
Toshiya frowned, he did not sound fine. However, he knew that nothing would come from pushing Yuuri into talking to him, so he simply replied, "Okay, come downstairs when you feel like it. We're making Katsudon, your favorite." 
He waited for a response, got none, then turned to go back downstairs. Sometimes he wondered if he and his wife had made the right choices. Leaving their children to their own devices seemed to turn out great for both of them, but sometimes, Toshiya and Hiroko would crave the intimacy of a more connected family. Hiroko especially would feel doubt about them doing the right thing. It was during those times that Toshiya would just hold her and smile cheerfully, "Our children are amazing and wonderful people. I love them and I love you."
He entered the kitchen, wiping the frown off his face, instead beaming at the sight of his darling wife, puttering around the kitchen. Time had aged them both, neither of them were as youthful as they once were, but the love was still there. It was there in the comforting curves of his wife, it was there in the laughter lines around his eyes. The love was in Yuuri's bashful smile, it was in the way that Mari's eyes would light up every time she saw them. Yes, their children might be quiet and distant, but there was still love and trust to be found among their silent and cheerful family. 

****

It had already been a few weeks since Yuuri had returned and he had easily assimilated back into the household dynamic. His family and friends were beginning to worry, however, when he showed no sign of moving forward with his life. They understood and respected his desire for a break, but they couldn't help but noticed the way the was wasting away.
When they saw the video of him skating Victor's routine, a sigh of relief burst from every one. 
When Victor himself showed up at their door, with only broken English to make his intentions known, they had held their breath in anticipation.
When Yuuri translated Victor's request to them, they smiled and waited.


****

It was Yuuri's sister who had found them out first. Not like she could help it though, Victor was so damn loud. She calmly took a drag from her cigarette and smiled. During the past few years, she had settled down. Her once rough, slurring voice had become a calm, accented drawl. Instead of picking fights with gangs and causing problems, she simply did what needed to be done at home, and kept to herself.
Some people might see her continuing to live with them, despite already being in her late twenties, as a sign of degenerative behavior. Others might commend her for helping her parents, despite the wasting away of her youth, and learning to succeed the family inn. Only Mari herself knew the reason why she stayed in this small and dying town, but her parents respected her decision and loved her all the more for it. No matter how many times she said that their gratitude was unnecessary, her parents continued to treat her presence in their lives as a gift and never stopped thanking her when she did something for them. She'd never admit that she loved living with her kind and doting parents, just as she'll never admit that Yuuri moving away had hit her harder than she thought it would. 
The dynamic between the two siblings was always considered enviable by their peers. When they were younger they were near inseparable. Despite their age and gender gap, they always preferred each other's company to that of other children. Mari would lead her young brother into many different adventures and misdemeanors, and Yuuri would follow her with a happy grin on his face, even when his knees and hands got scrapes and bruises. Even when Mari grew older and joined a local kids gang, just for kicks, he still would hang around her, her loyal sidekick. Mari fell into the wrong crowd, when she was in high school, smoking and drinking, but she still would pick Yuuri up from ballet class every day, and kept good grades to better help her brother with his homework. The local kids learned early on not to bully Yuuri. He might do ballet, and was weak, but his sister was terrifying and would make anyone regret picking on him.
When she graduated high school, she stayed at home, helping her parents with the inn, and helping her brother with his studies. Peers and neighbors often asked why she never attended college; outward appearance aside, she had the brains for it. She'd just take a long drag of her cigarette and smile, "I don't like school."   
When Yuuri moved to America, she didn't cry. When the months turned into years without seeing him, she'd just pick up Vicchan, hold him to her chest, smile to herself and say quietly, "I hope he's making friends." 
She too had long figured out her brother's preferences, and had long since accepted him. His getting together with Victor was a surprise, but not an unwelcome one. Realizing that her brother had somehow managed to top the Russian skater, however, was less of a surprise and more of world changing shock! She chuckled, putting out the cigarette and headed to their room. It was about time they told the parents they were dating.

****

When Yuuri came downstairs, that morning, hair mussed and lips swollen, with an equally rumpled Victor clinging to his arm, it only took the pure joy on their faces to settle any concerns Hiroko and her husband might've had about their son and his new lover. However, it did lead to a sudden realization and an interesting conversation that everyone involved never wanted to have again.
Victor moved into Yuuri's room, with parental blessing, that same evening.