“My feet huuuuuuurt,” Yuri whines, as if Otabek and Jean had not heard him the twenty-three previous times.
“That’s because your shoes are new,” Otabek explains flatly.
“What was I supposed to do? Wear them in town?”
“We can put up the tent over there,” Jean says as he points at a clearing between the branches. “The trees will protect us from the wind.”
He steps over a few bushes and pushes a couple of branches out of the way until he reaches the soft grass. Otabek and Yuri watch him drop his backpack, kneel, and take out a smaller nylon bag. He dives a hand in it and pulls out a mallet and a handful of pegs.
“Seriously?” Yuri deadpans. “You couldn’t get one of those tents that you throw in the air and are all set up when they hit the ground?”
“For three it’d have been tight. With this one we’ll have space to eat inside if it rains,” Jean explains patiently. “Beks, the canvas is in your backpack.”
Yuri kicks into a rock before slumping on a log. He thought he would be able to rest in his sleeping bag and now he will have to wait until the two others figure out how to put up a tent.
When they have gathered all the elements of the tent, Jean stands beside Otabek and gestures to explain how they will arrange their camp.
To Yuri’s great surprise, it only takes a few minutes before the canvas rises from the ground and Jean starts hammering the first peg in the soil. Otabek holds a pole up until the strings are taut enough that it stands by itself. He wipes his palms on his thighs and catches Yuri gaping at the scene. “What?” he asks.
“Nothing,” Yuri mumbles.
“You thought we decided to go camping without knowing anything?”
“How could I know he knew how to build a tent?”
“Just because he’s Canadian doesn’t mean he’s used to camping.”
“Jean’s a boy scout.”
Yuri winces. “Like the guys who walk around with high socks and flashy neckerchiefs?”
“He just put up your roof for tonight, don’t be a brat.”
“That’s still super gay.”
Jean dusts his knees and puts away his mallet when Otabek walks up to him. They watch Yuri pull his backpack that is almost as big as him inside the tent.
“Did you swear to stay physically strong and morally straight?” Otabek asks teasingly.
Jean has a side smile and shakes his head. “I’m not an American boy scout. I promised to do my duty to God and the Queen, and help other people at all times.”
“What’s your duty to the Queen?”
Jean shrugs. “I don’t know, but I’m going to help Yuri unfold his sleeping bag and take off his clothes, gotta carry out the spirit of the scout law.”
“You stink too, Princess.”
Yuri sniffs his armpit and winces. After three days of hiking under the sun the three of them smell like actual animals, and it’s not the quick face and hands wash they do in the morning that will change anything. While Yuri has never been against a bit of sweat and virile pheromones, he now feels like he is sleeping with two wild bears and can barely stand his own body odor.
“We can bathe after we’ve set up the tent this afternoon,” Jean says happily.
“There’ll be a bathtub?” Yuri asks in surprise.
Jean laughs. “Yeah, with bubble bath and scented salts.”
“It’s a spring with a cascade,” Otabek cuts seriously.
“You didn’t tell me to bring my swimsuit!” Yuri exclaims.
“Beks, do you have a swimsuit?”
Otabek shakes his head.
“Well I don’t either,” Jean shrugs, “so you’re good Yuri.”
“Don’t worry, the fish don’t bite.”
Yuri watches them put up the tent silently. The weather is hot and both Otabek and Jean’s already dirty clothes are soaked in sweat when they hammer the last peg. Jean stretches his arms high above his head, unbuttons his shirt, and hangs it up on the branch of a tree. He walks to the water, kicks off his shoes and, without waiting, pulls down his pants and underwear. After folding them carefully he places them on the shingle where they will stay dry. He takes three big steps into the water until he is thigh-deep, splashes his chest a couple of times, and dives in. He emerges a few feet farther and shakes his head like a dog to get the water out of his hair with a laugh.
Otabek gets naked too, walks into the water until he can swim, and joins Jean in the middle of the basin. “Yuri, come on!” he shouts as he waves toward the tent. “If you don’t-“ he starts, but Jean jumps on him and pushes him underwater.
“If you don’t wash yourself you can’t sleep with us!” Jean finishes.
Yuri feels stupid standing alone on the side, and so he takes off his shoes and socks and tiptoes to the water. It’s clear as glass and the pebbles are smooth under his toes, but it’s also so cold that the skin under his ankles is turning purple and the hairs on his shins rise.
Jean is already climbing on a rock by the cascade to dive from a higher spot and Otabek floats lazily around him.
Yuri takes a small step and his whole body gets goosebumps as the freezing water licks his calves.
“Yuri! It’ll soon be dark, hurry up!” Otabek calls again.
Yuri clenches his teeth and steps back on the dry land to get undressed. When he takes off his shorts Jean wolf-whistles and Yuri flips him off. Once naked he finds himself both eager to hide under the surface, and terrified to let the icy water touch his most intimate body parts.
He shivers and stops when he has water up to his knees. Jean and Otabek are trying to see who will drown the other first and it’s almost impossible to distinguish them in the splashes. Yuri is considering quickly rinsing himself and running out, but Jean tackles him and he barely has time to hold his breath before being pulled underwater.
Jean finds a piece of soap in his bag and Yuri gets to wash his hair under the waterfall. At the end of the day they wash their clothes in the river and let them dry by the campfire. Yuri’s underwear disappears, and Otabek nods when Jean swears he has seen a moose steal it while Yuri was in the tent.
They don’t usually do that together but this morning they all woke up with the same natural urge and headed together in the forest in search of a good spot to relieve themselves. Jean is rubbing his eyes sleepily when he hears his name, and wonders why Otabek suddenly wants to have a conversation while they are holding their dick.
“Can you look up and tell me what you see?”
Jean turns his head. “Your dick.”
“In front of you.”
For a second Jean blinks at the foliage, and then a branch cracks and he swallows uncomfortably.
Behind a tree about ten feet in front of them they can clearly distinguish the outline of a large black bear. They freeze when its head appears above a bush.
“He saw us, we have to talk to him,” Jean says.
“What?” Otabek asks in disbelief.
“Make yourself look big.”
“Yuri, make yourself look big,” Otabek repeats ironically.
“Can I zip up my pants?” Yuri whines.
“Don’t make any sudden movement,” Jean says.
“Yeah, don’t move your dick too fast, you’ll scare the bear,” Otabek sighs.
“We’ll just walk away very slowly, ok?” Jean says as he takes a step back.
Otabek buttons his pants and follows Jean as he slowly moves away from the bear. They are already several feet away when they realize that Yuri has not moved an inch and is still standing in front of the beast with his dick in his hand.
“Yuri!” Otabek calls.
“Yuri come on!” Jean insists.
“It’ll jump on me if I move!”
“No! Just move slowly!”
“I don’t want to!”
Jean flaps his arms at his sides in exasperation and exchanges a look with Otabek. Otabek rolls his eyes. With a firm step he walks back to Yuri, picks him up bridal style as he squeals in surprise, and turns around to head back to the camp. Jean follows them without looking away from the bear, trying not to trip on branches as he walks backwards between the trees.
Yuri is shaking like a leaf when Otabek puts him down, and his fingers tremble as he pulls up his underwear and zips up his shorts.
“You ok?” Otabek asks.
Yuri looks away and lowers his head so his hair hides his blush.
Jean joins them and has a loud sigh of relief. He stretches his arms and grins. “Narrow escape, hn?”
Otabek and Yuri look at him and he keeps his blissful smile, squaring his shoulders with his hands on his hips, seemingly very proud of himself. Yuri shakes his head.
“Jean,” Otabek says quietly. “You can pull up your pants now.”
Sat on a large log, Otabek leaves through the guide-book thoughtfully. Jean said they could stay by the river a couple more days but they would have to find a more sheltered place to put up their tent for the weekend. It’s Thursday and they still haven’t decided where they would go. Surely Jean knows a place. It’s his country after all.
A few feet away from him, Jean stretches his arms and pulls on his fishing rod. He hasn’t caught a fish in a week, but probably the whole point is just to nap quietly with his feet in the water.
Leaves crackle behind Otabek. He looks up to see Yuri stop right in front of him and sniffle. His cheeks are red and his lashes wet. Otabek raises his eyebrows and Yuri’s mouth distorts in a painful wince. “Something stung my butt,” he whines.
Otabek frowns. “Something?”
Yuri nods, turns around, and hooks his thumb in his waistband to push it down and reveal a bright pink ass-cheek.
Otabek’s eyebrows relax as he pulls Yuri’s shorts lower to see where the redness stops. “That’s a bee sting.”
“I’m going to die.”
Yuri sniffles again and wipes his watery eyes with the back of his hand. “You’re an ass. It hurts.”
Otabek looks behind Yuri. “Jean!” he calls. “We need someone to do the last rites over here.”
Jean stirs and turns around. He sees Yuri, flushed and bothered, and Otabek, looking at his bare ass. “Are you guys having fun without me?”
Otabek bites his lip to repress a smile and tilts his head to tell Jean to come and have a look. When he arrives up to them, Jean grins so wide it’s like he has never seen anything funnier than Yuri’s angry butt-cheek. “That’s a huge stinger in your ass Yuri, you’re taking it like a champ.”
Yuri groans, punches him weakly, and grabs the waistband of his shorts to pull them up. Jean takes his wrist to stop him. “Hold on, we need to take it out and clean the wound. I’ll get the first-aid kit.”
Jean walks to the tent and Otabek pats the top of his thigh as he nods towards Yuri. Yuri grumbles something, looks around as to make sure no one can see him, and kicks the ground in frustration. With a roll of the eyes, he bends over Otabek’s lap to lie on his stomach and raise his butt.
When Jean comes back he exchanges a glance with Otabek at the sight of Yuri’s round ass, smooth and pale everywhere but on the top of his left cheek, where the skin is red and hot around the stinger.
“How did you manage to anger a bee with your ass?” Jean asks as he fumbles in the small bag he has brought.
“I sat on a rotten fruit,” Yuri mumbles.
Jean removes the stinger with a pair of tweezers and reaches in the kit again. Yuri twitches when he wipes his skin with a compress. “It’s cold.”
“It’s already over,” Jean says, and he gives a little slap on Yuri’s ass for good measure.
Yuri pushes on his arms to straighten up but before he can understand what is happening, Otabek lifts him up and throws him over his shoulder, his butt still bare and pointing at the sky.
Upside down and his face right in front of Otabek’s ass, Yuri protests and kicks in the air. “Put me down!”
“We need to keep an eye on your ass to make sure it doesn’t swell,” Otabek says seriously as he walks to the tent.
“Let me go!” Yuri insists, but he can’t stop smiling at how ridiculous it is to feel the wind on his ass-cheeks.
Jean holds the flap of the tent open so Otabek can get in with Yuri. “We just saved you from a certain death, you could be grateful for once.”
Jean zips up the tent behind them. “Shhh you’re gonna scare the fish.”
“If you squint your eyes the stars write ‘Yakov’ in the sky,” Yuri says slowly.
Lying on the ground beside him, Jean folds his arm behind his head and looks at the sky. Otabek lies on Yuri’s other side. They have hiked all day long to reach a high spot between the pines, and barely managed to put up the tent before nightfall. After a quick meal and they soon lay down to rest their tired legs.
Now the wind has died down and the night is clear, and they can see more stars than Yuri has ever been able to count between the street lights in Moscow. The three of them lie outside the tent in their sleeping bags, sometimes pointing at the flickering lights of an airplane, once gasping at the long trail of a shooting star.
“Where?” Jean asks after a moment.
“Just there,” Yuri answers, without taking his arms out of his sleeping bag.
“You’re not pointing at anything.”
“The stars are like Lilia.”
“Yakov and Lilia are plotting to make Georgi an ice dancer.”
Jean stops looking at the sky and rolls on his side to blink at Yuri. His green eyes shine in the moonlight and he has a small content smile. For a second Jean finds that adorable, until he sees that Otabek is biting his lower lip.
“Yes,” Otabek repeats, knowing very well what Jean is asking.
“While we were putting up the tent.”
“And you let him do?”
Otabek shrugs. “He’s got to learn not to steal in other people’s bag.”
“He could have-“
“What? Overdosed on pot brownies?”
Jean rolls his eyes and pinches his lips. “I mean… you could have told me.”
“I wasn’t sure how many he ate, I wanted to see what he would do.”
“I know you’re talking about me you know,” Yuri says with a pout.
“Having a good time, Yuri?” Otabek asks smugly.
There is a light giggle in the dark before Yuri answers. “We should stay here forever.”
“Forever?” Jean repeats.
“Hm,” Yuri nods.
“What about skating?”
“That’s the right thing to do.”
Jean sighs and rolls on his back. He looks at the stars again. “Do you have any left?” he asks Otabek after a minute.
“In the front pocket.”
Jean wiggles and stretches to grab Otabek’s backpack.
“Beks, they’re better than last time,” he notes after the first bite.
“That’s my mom’s recipe.”
Jean turns and raises an eyebrow, and Otabek rolls his eyes. “The normal recipe, you know.”
“You’re talking very loud,” Yuri mumbles.
Otabek and Jean share the two remaining brownies.
“Can you pull up the zipper of my blanket for me?” Yuri asks after a long moment of silence.
Jean rises on his elbow and arranges Yuri’s sleeping bag over him. “Time to sleep, Princess.”
Yuri presses his hand against his mouth but fails to repress another giggle. “He called me ‘Princess’,” he chuckles in his palm.
“He’s cute though,” Jean says thoughtfully.
Otabek nods. “I don’t remember ever seeing him that chill, even when he was ten.”
“Who’s ten?” Yuri asks with concern.
Jean ignores the question, pulls Yuri’s sleeping bag up under his chin and brushes a strand of blond hair away from his face. “You feel like you’re doing him a favor, don’t you?” he asks Otabek.
“I told you! Stop complaining!”
“You could try and be more gentle!”
Yuri grunts and drags his hand down Jean’s back, rubbing his red-hot skin and making him tense with pain. The aloe vera gel gathers between his fingers as he applies it on Jean’s sunburns with rough slaps.
“You made fun of me because I put on sunscreen and now you’re a lobster, so you shut up!” Yuri snarls.
“You had spurts of cream on your cheek!”
Yuri smacks Jean between his shoulders blades and Jeans jumps up as he arches his back. He turns around and snatches the tube of gel from Yuri’s hands.
“You can stop thank you! Next time I want to be skinned alive I’ll call you.”
Yuri grins through clenched teeth and fakes a little bow. “You’re welcome,” he says as he turns to walk back to the tent.
Jean slumps back on his rock and looks at the gel tube bitterly. Otabek walks up to him and extends his hand. Jean hesitates a second, before giving him the tube and sighing when Otabek sits behind him.
The gel is cold but Otabek’s hands are surprisingly soft and light on his sensitive skin. They brush over his muscles, barely touching them, soothing the hot sting of the sun like a cool breeze.
Otabek watches the glimmer of Jean’s tattoos on his arm after he covers it with gel. His hands linger on Jean’s shoulders and neck, and run down his spine to the tattoo of his initials on his lower back. Jean twitches when Otabek pushes down the waistband of his shorts to reveal the stark contrast of his tan line.
“Yuri’s not wrong…” Otabek smiles. “You’re bright red.”
“I didn’t think I’d burn that fast, I mean just the time to build the tent…”
“Keep your shirt on next time?”
“It’s so hot, you were shirtless too!”
“Ask Yuri to use his sunscreen?”
Jean shakes his head and sighs again. Otabek’s hands keep massaging his back and reapplying gel until his skin does not absorb it anymore. Jean cannot help but enjoy the light pressure on his muscles. After carrying his backpack and sleeping on the ground for a week, Otabek’s fingers release accumulated tensions and rub out knots just the right way. Otabek presses his thumbs in the small of his back, right over the black ink of his initials, and Jean cannot help a small moan of relief.
“Really?” Otabek asks teasingly.
Jean does not blush. He tilts his head back to look over his shoulder. “I think I have a sunburn on my dick.”
Otabek eyes Jean’s lower back again, where his skin is still pale under the straight line of his shorts. “How about a deep massage of your white ass?”
Jean raises his shoulders and nods. “I’ll take what I can get.”
I realized I had never published the remaining drabbles for this little series and I don't want them to get lost. I'm too lazy to upload chapter by chapter and also I don't want to spam you guys with 5 updates in a row, especially for such short drabbles. I'll just post them all down below, including the zine piece at the end.
I loved to write otapliroy for this zine, they have such an incredible dynamic together, it was a true pleasure to write these little scenes. Also I didn't know I'd enjoy writing this camping AU so much haha.
I hope you enjoy!
It rained all morning and the path is just mud and wet moss. Yuri keeps repeating that it’s disgusting and that they’d better stop by a river so he can wash the dirt in his socks. He is still ranting at the end of the afternoon, and he slips on a dead leaf. He almost falls several meters down the side of the track but Otabek jumps to catch his backpack just in time. In his move, he scratches his leg against a sharp rock, and Yuri quickly notices the seeping red cut.
Otabek doesn’t even look down. “It’s ok, we can go,” he shrugs.
Jean turns around and Otabek rolls his eyes.
“You’ll get dirt in there if you don’t bandage it,” Jean says. “We can sit over there.”
“It’s just a scratch.”
“You’re afraid he’s gonna amputate your leg that’s all,” Yuri mumbles.
Jean has already dropped his backpack near a big stump and is taking out the first aid kit, and so Otabek reluctantly drags his feet to join him.
“Guys I’m not a nurse, if you could stop getting injured…”
“Your shoulders are still peeling from your sunburns.”
Yuri throws his backpack on the ground and sneaks to sit on Jean’s lap and roll his hips. “I’d like to see you in a blouse…” he purrs.
Jean blinks. “In a blouse?”
“With your really big syringe…”
“...I can’t believe I’m actually turned on.”
“I think I’m late for my booster shot.”
“Just wait till we put up the tent tonight...”
Otabek clears his throat. “It’s ok, I’ll just wait here while you play doctors and nurses.”
“Sorry Beks. Yuri, move… We’re doing something serious here. How’s your ankle?”
“It’s ok, I really just scratched my leg.”
“You didn’t miss it…” He fumbles into the bag. “It might sting a little.”
Yuri brushes Otabek’s arm. “You can hold my hand if it hurts.”
Otabek still winces despite himself when Jean drenches the wound in disinfectant and pats it with a compress.
Jean covers the cut with gauze and sticks it on Otabek’s skin with a nice amount of tape.
“Try to keep it clean and dry.”
Yuri examines the bandage. “You look like a warrior.”
Otabek shakes his head. “I don’t think you’ve ever seen a warrior.”
Yuri rises on his toes to whisper in Jean’s ear. “He didn't even cry, I think he deserves a lollipop.”
The night is cold but the air in the tent is hot and humid. There are pants and grunts, and they don’t come from the animals in the forest. On all four, Yuri is red with lust as he does his best to please Jean and Otabek at the same time. The hard ground hurts his knees and he is convinced there are ants running between his toes, but right now his mind is busy with a lot of other things.
With a powerful move of the hips, Jean pushes him forward and Yuri’s shoulder hits the central pole of the ridge tent. It’s dark, and neither of them cares about the metallic noise, until Otabek has to bend because the tent canvas has dropped on his shoulders. He pulls out and holds his arm up so the rest of the tent does not fall on Yuri.
Yuri tries to straighten up but he is pushed down face first in his sleeping bag.
But Jean keeps holding his hips and thrusting, like the tent is not falling on his head and he does not care that the middle pole is down across Yuri’s back.
“JEAN FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”
Otabek finds his phone after fumbling in the dark and uses it to light up the scene. Jean finally stops, and Yuri takes the occasion to slip out of his hands. They awkwardly feel around to try and find the zipper of the tent in the folds of the canvas. When Otabek opens the flaps they all crawl out and gasp for air.
The stand perplexed in front of the remains of their camp, all naked in the moonlight and shivering at the chilly wind on their flushed skin.
“We kind of asked for it to be honest,” Jeans says blandly.
“Don’t blame us because you can’t put up a tent,” Yuri grumbles, already going back to look for his sweater.
“I didn’t really have to worry about this kind of things with the scouts.”
“You had a boner just looking at your sleeping bag,” Otabek says quietly. “I don’t think it’s your first time fucking in a tent.”
Jean looks away and shrugs. “I can’t put it back up in the dark, I’ll lose the pegs.”
“We can relight the fire for tonight.”
With the light of his phone, Yuri picks up their backpacks under the canvas so they can slip on some clothes. He pulls out their sleeping bags and watches Jean light up a pile of twigs while Otabek gathers wood for the night. They sit silently around the flames until they are big enough to make their cheeks red with heat. Yuri wiggles to lie in his sleeping bag and Otabek and Jean do the same.
Yuri sighs. “I’m still hard though.”
“You didn’t answer earlier,” Otabek says when Jean sits next to him. It’s late and the night is clear. Yuri has gone to sleep after eating his weight in pasta, complaining about his blistered feet and his sunburnt arms.
“When Yuri asked about your next free skate.”
“Why didn’t you tell him?”
Otabek raises his eyebrows and Jean’s shoulders drop slightly. He knew Otabek would guess easily.
“I don’t know… I wasn’t in the mood for a tantrum?”
“You’ll just wait for him to see that your name isn’t in the assignments?”
Jean shrugs uneasily. “No… At the four continents. I…” He lowers his head. “I wasn’t feeling it, I was tired and... I just couldn’t focus. I went to the Worlds but it wasn’t the same. It’s not as exciting as it used to be, I don’t know…”
“You could take a season off and come back.”
“My sister will be in senior next year, my parents have already moved on.”
They hear a branch crack behind them. They turn and see Yuri, standing in front of the tent in his sweater and boxers, his hair messy on one side.
“And you didn’t want to tell me because you thought I’d get angry?”
“What am I supposed to do? Be happy? Wish you a happy new life four thousand miles away from St Petersburg?”
“It’s not that-“
“Then it’s what?”
“We can still see each other!“
“You know what? Fuck you! Fuck you! You and your fucking tent and your shit ass sleeping bag and your fucking sunburns!”
“I that what it’s all about? All this? A nice little trip before you say goodbye?”
“Go fuck yourself Leroy!”
Yuri storms in the tent, and a second later throws backpacks, sleeping bags, and clothes outside, before zipping the flaps shut.
Jean looks down and sighs at Otabek. “Man, he threw your stuff out too, I‘m sorry.”
In the morning Yuri sits on a large rock by the river, his chin on his knees, and watches the wrinkles spread on the water as he throws small pebbles in the current.
“Yuri?” Jean comes to sit beside him. “It’s not like I’m dying you know. And you knew I’d retire before you.”
“Don’t be like that.”
Yuri hides his face in his knees.
“I don’t need to wait for a competition to travel to Europe you know.”
Yuri does not move and so Jean raises his hand to gently brush his blond hair back so he can see his face. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before. I didn’t want to make you sad.”
Yuri lifts his head and exhales sharply. “You think I’m sad because I won’t see you? You really think you’re important, hn?”
Jean is glad Yuri finally accepts to talk. “I don’t know, you sounded rather upset yesterday…”
Yuri growls but lets Jean wrap an arm around his shoulders.
“What will you do?” Yuri mutters bitterly.
“I’ll see what my degree can get me I guess…”
“That’s it? Find a job and sit on your ass all day?”
Jean smiles. “No.. I’ll see. I guess I could coach or organize events… You’ll need a coach when Yakov retires, right?”
“You couldn’t even coach me into getting out of my bed.”
“If I’m in there with you it’ll be complicated, I really don’t know how Victor does it…”
“You promise I’ll still see you?”
“Come to see me for the Grand Prix.”
“For the assignments too.”
Jean smiles. “Well, that will be a lot of hours of flight…”
Yuri frowns and Jean’s grin widens. “Now that I’m retired I guess I can spend a couple of months in Europe.”
Yuri’s face lights up. “You can stay at my place!”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to negotiate a shared custody with Otabek.”
Yuri turns around to yell at the tent. “BEKAAA!”
“You can have him every other weekend,” Otabek says as he opens the flaps of the canvas and puts on his sweater.
“What!? I want him Monday to Friday and you can have him during the weekends and half of the holidays.”
“Yuri, your place is barely big enough for yourself and only because you’re tiny, I can’t believe you have a cat in there…”
“Alright but I move in your place with Jean!”
“I only have one bed.”
“You can sleep on the couch.”
“In my own place?”
Jean laughs. “Listen, I don't want to choose between you two, because Yuri would get pissed.”
Yuri gasps. “You're not welcome anymore!”
“How about I get my own apartment?”
“But if you don’t compete...?”
“You can save up a bit when your parents are your coaches…”
Yuri puts on his best sad kitten eyes. “Can I live at your place?”
“I have one!”
“If it’s a ghost in a church we’ve already heard it,” Yuri mumbles.
“Not this one!”
“Jean...” Otabek sighs.
“It’s not my fault if Yuri never has stories!”
The night is dark and the flames of the campfire dance in front of them. Yuri has taken his sleeping bag out of the tent and wrapped himself in it so only his face peeps out as he sits cross-legged on the ground. Jean is lying on his side in the grass and nibbles on a toothpick. Otabek has leaned against his backpack and thoughtfully picks up bits of grass and wildflowers.
It’s their last night together in the Canadian backcountry before they have to break camp and head back to the city. Yuri will probably not miss the insects and the hiking shoes that give him more blisters than rental skates, but his heart tightens at the thought of flying back to Europe and sleeping alone again. For over a week, he has shared his sleeping bag with Jean and Otabek and spent his nights comfortably nested between them, enjoying the warmth of their arms and the comfort of their chest. Lying in bed with his cat now sounds terribly depressing.
Tonight the wind is calm, but the clouded sky and the noises of the forest around them make the perfect atmosphere for horror stories around the fire. Jean’s usually involve a holy spirit in an old church, while Otabek somehow has had the weirdest encounters while going home after his shift at the club. He never fails to make Yuri shiver when he holds the flashlight under his chin.
Yuri would like to tell a creepy story too, but sadly, it seems that his life can be reduced to training, buying cat food, and going to sleep early enough to start again in the morning. After moving out of Lilia’s apartment a year ago he thought he would enjoy a whole new freedom, but Yakov is still waiting for him at the rink at 8 am, and it seems that the only new things he gets to do are cooking for himself and doing his own laundry.
“Ok, ok, here. I have one,” Yuri finally grumbles, and Jean straightens on his elbow to pay attention.
“It was like three years ago-”
“You were twelve.”
“Fuck you, Jean. I was sixteen, pure and innocent-”
“Yuri, don’t lie.”
“Whatever. I was still at Lilia’s. One night I wake up and Potya is not in my room. So I get up and I look for her in the house, but I had to be super quiet.”
Jean twists the toothpick he has in his mouth and Otabek has a curious smirk.
“I hear her meowl and scratch somewhere,” Yuri continues, “and I have to find her before she wakes up Lilia and becomes a flat rug. I see that the door to Lilia’s room is open and the light is still on, so I think it’s too late and Lilia has found her.”
Otabek winces and Jean bites his lip in anticipation.
Yuri hides his face in his hand. “There was Lilia, in a leather corset, holding a riding crop, and Yakov naked in front of her,” he says, and his eyes widen at the memory.
“That’s why he refused the whip last time…” Jean mutters to Otabek.
Otabek shakes his head slowly. “No, that’s because if one of you two has to hold a whip, it’s not you.”
“Jean, I’m talking,” Yuri cuts in sharply.
“Sorry,” Jean says immediately, and Otabek rolls his eyes.
“So there’s Yakov naked,” Yuri resumes, “and I want to run and bleach my eyes, but Potya jumps on him and claws at his ass! And Lilia does nothing because she’s using her hands to hide her boobs...” He shakes his head in consternation. “I should have known, Victor lived with them when they were still married… He says they had make up sex every week until Yakov accidentally called her Irina and they divorced.”
“Once I walked in on Victor and Katsuki…” Otabek says pensively.
“Oh, please.” Yuri sighs. “Everybody has walked in on them at least once… The whole Russia saw them when a cameraman walked in on them at the end of the live broadcast of the nationals. And that time Katsudon almost got disqualified because he was late? The real problem was that Victor was in his ass and they had not signed up for pair skating.”
“What did Yakov say afterward?” Jean asks to try and make Yuri even more embarrassed.
“I had two whole days without ballet or on ice training, and then they tried to give me The Talk, and that’s another horror story.”
“What do you mean they tried to?” Jean asks.
“That means no one ever told you about the birds and the bees?”
Yuri shrugs and immediately regrets it when Jean grins. “Beks, what do you think about that?”
Otabek nods seriously. “That’s very irresponsible.”
“We can’t leave him uneducated.”