Victor guided Yuuri off the train, his protective arm around his mate’s shoulder. They weren’t bonded but that was a matter of time at this point. But first, Yuuri wanted to stand on his own, to reclaim the ice and everything else that had been taken from him. Victor merely wanted his family to be safe and happy, and to no longer hide from the public eye. This was the first move towards both of their goals.
The Grand Prix Final was located in Fukuoka, Japan, and the couple were making their way towards the event to meet their friends but to also come out into the public. A private car waited to pick them up and Victor settled Yuuri and the baby before moving to the opposite side. Yuuri gave the driver instructions in Japanese. Victor was becoming more and more conversational but he still held back and let Yuuri handle these situations, not confident to try to his language skills on anyone outside of Hasetsu.
Shizuka dozed away, happy in her winter outfit, a canopy protecting her from the cold. Yuuri had a front pack where he could carry her. At four months, she was alert and loved to look around at the world surrounding her. Victor thought back over those four months, the two of them figuring out how to take care of her, arguing back and forth between co-sleeping and a dedicated bed. Much like with most fights, they ended up somewhere in the middle, a soft crib that defined her space but could be within Yuuri’s reach for midnight and three a.m. feedings.
At the hotel, Victor could already feel the excitement building in both of them. They had booked a room at the event venue, wanting to be near friends and familiar faces, many of which were now aware that Victor was playing papa bear to a new baby and had claimed the beautiful Yuuri Katsuki as his mate. The omega was anxious and eager to meet up with his coach Celestino and former rink mate/best friend Phichit.
“What if I’ve let myself go too much?” Yuuri fussed, looking down at the tiny bit of baby fat he hadn’t worked off. A less discerning eye would never have noticed it. However, Yuuri’s self critical eyes took in his every imperfection, something Victor constantly found himself battling. They would sit in front of a mirror while Victor would point out all of his Yuuri’s beauty.
“My sweet Yuuri,” Victor began. “You have worked hard and, since you’ve been cleared, you continue to be just as dedicated to your training.”
“But...I’m constantly having to stop and...well, be Mom,” Yuuri pouted. “That can’t be good.”
“I think you underestimate the work you put in. Yes, you stop to care for Flip,” he watched in amusement as Yuuri grimaced at the nickname, “But...you’ve always had things that interrupt training. School, friends, sharing a rink.”
Yuuri’s eyes squinted slightly, a shine Victor had learned as Yuuri’s thinking face, the one he adopted when he was considering a different opinion from his own...a rarity. “And...I don’t really have to share facilities.” Yuuri chewed his lip before asking, “But what about you...are you sure? Training me...is it enough?”
Victor smiled, he would never be able to convince Yuuri that his time away from the ice had been the best of his entire life. Back in Russia he lived in an apartment full of trinkets, expensive clothes, and even a few marble busts, but none of that mattered to him more than the pink Gucci shoes that Flip had thrown up on just last week. “I train you, I choreograph programs for others, I take care of you and Flip, I help out at the onsen and restaurant, and...I have a family. You give me so much of what I’ve been missing. You are my life, my love...and I wouldn’t trade those things for all of the gold medals in the world.”
Yuuri sighed before nodding, reaching across the car seat to take his hand. The legend he had a crush on his childhood had turned out so much better in real life as the flawed, silly man next to him. “I guess...it’s time to face the world, then,” Yuuri determined.
Victor smiled warmly. “I’m with you the entire journey.” Victor got out of the car and walked around to help out his mate and daughter while the driver unloaded their luggage. The porter loaded the pile with expert ease. Yuuri smirked at the amount of luggage needed for traveling with a baby and Victor. At least they didn’t have all of his skate gear this time.
They entered the hotel and Victor guided him over to reception and soon they were headed up to their room with their keycards. They arrived early and had taken care to cover up so they could get settled first, ahead of the paparazzi and any fans.
In their room, Victor went through the space marking it with his scent while Yuuri stripped off the layers so he could feed Shizuka. She was already tugging his shirt down when she found his nipple and latched on. Yuuri’s expression softened. She had taken to him right away and that closeness helped the bond he felt with his daughter. His mother would often sit with him as he nursed, reminding him of what a struggle he was, anxiously watching the world around him.
He held her cradled to his chest when a knock tapped at the door. Yuuri’s eyes followed Victor as he opened the door a peak. The friendly Swiss voice in the hallway announced their guest and Victor turned back to see Yuuri nodding, which was all the signal he needed to open the door wider. In walked Chris and a less familiar face, the latter carrying a little curly headed blond with green eyes looking around the room curiously. “Chris! Lawrie!” Victor greeted them, embracing them as they came inside. “Is this baby Gabriel?” Victor’s eyes were wide and tender as he took the boy from the tired omega’s hands. Chris was already kneeling before Yuuri.
“She’s beautiful,” he murmured, his expression tender as he studied Shizuka in her mother's lap.
Yuuri’s eyes remained on his daughter greedily suckling. “She’s a little piglet!”
“My little kobuta-chan,” Victor echoed with a grin. His eyes widened as the little one came off Yuuri’s breast and reached for her Papa. Victor handed Gabriel over and gathered his daughter up, giving her a good pat as Yuuri covered up. Her nose went directly to his scent gland and he scented her back as the doctors had instructed he keep doing for the first year. “So how was your trip?” Victor asked warmly.
“Not bad considering we were flying with our little angel,” Chris decided.
Yuuri’s eyebrows furrowed. “Did he fly well?” and the chew of his lip told everyone he was thinking about when Shizuka would fly.
Lawrie laughed a little lying his son on his lap to let the chubby hands grab his fingers. “A little fussy on takeoff but feeding him helped his ears pop and he was fine,” Lawrie assured the other mother.
Yuuri looked over at his daughter who normally got sleepy after a feeding pulling her head off Victor’s shoulder to investigate the three new people in the room. He wasn’t convinced that she would do well on a flight. “I’m just glad the Final is in Fukuoka,” Yuuri confessed. “Otherwise, I may not have come.”
“Your friend Phichit is here, though,” Chris pointed out.
Yuuri smiled and nodded. “Not yet or he’d be in here already, but yes. Victor’s going to meet with my coach about my training and they are going to work out a schedule. I think Coach is going to watch me skate while he’s here.”
Chris’ hazel eyes sparkled with admiration and something that looked like a challenge, “So you are coming back to the ice,” the Swiss skater confirmed and with Yuuri’s nod, he turned to Victor and added, “And you’re not?”
Victor sighed. It was part of an ongoing argument. Yuuri even insisted they could all train in Russia. Victor, however, wanted to focus on his family, on his Yuuri. And at almost twenty-eight, how many more seasons could he have? “It’s best for my family if I remain out of competition,” Victor stated but heard a huff from his mate. “And it’s my decision.” He added turning to see Yuuri’s lips twitch in irritation.
Chris quickly saw that he had opened a can of worms Victor had been trying to close for four months. “Perhaps once you get Yuuri settled into his training routine…”
Another huff and then Yuuri cut in stating, “Yuuri is in his training routine. Vitya refuses to try and see if this will balance.”
Victor bounced his daughter on his shoulder, sensing her tension with Yuuri’s annoyance. Their bond is so strong. It’s like she’s still attached in some ways. He only wished he could tell him of how much more important this was, and how it was what he wanted. “One of us will have to be with Flip and it may as well be me!” Victor argued.
Yuuri rose to walk to Victor’s side. “I could make the exact same argument! I am her mother...the one with the breasts feeding her.”
“You’re younger and have more years,” Victor interjected.
“You’re older and have a title to defend,” Yuuri possetted. He turned to his daughter leaning her cheek to Victor’s shoulder once more, blue eyes locking on his. Yuuri’s fingers moved to settle her as the little one began to wiggle and squirm at the upset. “It’s okay, Shizuka. Papa is just being stubborn.”
“No more than Mama,” Victor muttered under his breath.
Chris and Lawrie exchanged looks and finally Lawrie inserted, “Well, I think we’re going to get settled into our room. I look forward to dinner. Good afternoon, gentlemen.” And then he firmly guided Chris out.
“I didn’t mean to start a fight,” Chris defended as they left the room.
“No, you didn’t...you just want Victor to compete almost as much as his mate,” Lawrie stated as he pulled Chris down the hall. He may be omega, but he wasn’t dominated. In fact, Chris was putty in his hands.
Yuuri settled Shizuka into her bed, a cloth covered bassinet with a pattern of skates and ballet shoes. Yuuri liked it because she could sleep next to him without giving up her space. Victor thought of the unused crib in their room. Sometimes he just wanted to be intimate with his mate without worrying about whether or not the baby could see them. When he complained to Takeshi, the younger father laughed declaring he’s still tumbling girls out of his bed. But hey, it was good birth control . Victor didn’t feel reassured by that statement.
“I could call down and have them bring up a crib,” Victor suggested.
Yuuri screwed up his face in horror. “You don’t know how clean they are, who’s slept in them, pooped in them...no, she’s fine in her bed. It smells like us.”
“It’s just that…” A soft whine slipped from his lips and Yuuri’s expression gentled, his hand going up to cup his mate’s cheek.
“I promise to move her to the bed once the crib will no longer contain her,” Yuuri reassured him. Except, Victor suspected that Yuuri would have a hard time being far from her. It was one of the many things discussed in therapy. And deep within, Victor knew if having the baby close gave Yuuri the reassurance he needed, he’d always cave to that need.
“I’m sorry,” Victor murmured, turning into Yuuri’s touch. “I want to...be close to you.”
Yuuri settled her into the bassinet before leaning up on his knees to kiss Victor, resting their foreheads together before continuing. “We are close. Even when we disagree. I love you. Shizuka loves you. You aren’t discounted. You’re not overlooked.”
Victor felt frustrated. Yuuri always analyzed and took things deep even when it’s straight forward. “I didn’t...Yuuri...I want to make love to you.”
Yuuri started, glancing down at the infant, eyes closed, sucking on her fist. “She’s asleep.”
“What if she wakes up?” Victor whined.
Yuuri chuckled softly, moving into his space. The kiss was slow and languid and Victor could feel his inhibitions slipping when someone knocked on the door.
“Fuck!” he said under his breath.
Yuuri grinned knowing Victor only succumbed to profanity when he was most frustrated. “Later…” he promised. Yuuri backed off the bed leaving Victor to try and straighten himself out as his mate answered the door.
Phichit stood on the other side. “Do I get to see my niece?” he asked without preamble.
“Shhhh,” Yuuri murmured with a soft giggle. “She’s sleeping.” Yuuri led him across the room and soon Phichit was a bundle of gasps and coos at the adorable infant.
The Thai skater finally lifted his head, a smile on his face. “I can’t believe you made such an adorable human!”
“Hey!” Yuuri protested but his eyes laughed in response.
Sitting back, Phichit sobered. “So...are you really going to do it?”
“The interview is set with both Marooka-san and the American reporter Nick Zaccardi with NBC Sports,” Yuuri confirmed. “I need to face my demons.”
Phichit nodded, his expression grim. “Coach and I are behind you all the way. You know this.” Phichit searched his friend’s expression for reassurance. He knew that Yuuri was angry at the situation, angry at how he felt shoved aside, but there was still a difficult meeting between the skater and former coach that needed to happen.
Yuuri sighed but nodded. “I’m nervous but the attorneys assure me that legally, I’m protected. There may be some posturing. At worst, my...my rapist...he’ll come after me in the courts. However, I’m protected by law in the state of Michigan. I have more than enough grounds to prove rape in a civil court. Criminal court is another matter...thanks to the university's interference.”
“And you’re going against the university,” Phichit confirmed.
“It’s their interference that made a proper police investigation impossible. So yes.” He swallowed as he heard the tremor in his voice. He could feel his mate move close to him. Victor’s hand moved up and down Yuuri’s back to settle the omega. If going against a single person for rape would be a difficult battle, taking down an institution looked insurmountable. But he knew the university was in the wrong. Yuuri took a deep breath and added, “I think it’s important I make this fight.”
Phichit’s smile was wide and his dark eyes sparkled. “I agree...I just don’t want you to be blindsided.”
Yuuri smiled gratefully. “Me, neither.”
Victor slipped his arms around Yuuri’s waist from behind, something else they continued to work through in therapy. Sometimes Yuuri still stiffened but it was better. He also knew that occasionally, Yuuri would come undone, sinking into memory. Three days of torment and torture all hitting him at once. Yuuri talked about it more and more, not just to his therapist, not just to Victor, but to his mother, father, sister, best friends, and coaches. Yuuri reached out to Celestino two months ago pushing him to seek counseling, telling him that what happened was not his fault. Now, Yuuri stood much stronger than a year ago; he was ready to face the injustices that he had been dealt in Detroit.
Yuuri shifted in his sleep and Victor turned to settle him into his arms. The younger man sought his scent unconsciously, calming once he knew Victor was near. Victor stared up at the ceiling, worry in his thoughts. He was in the lengthy and difficult process of adopting their daughter, granting her the legal name of Shizuka Victorivna Katsuki-Nikiforova. They kept experiencing delays in the legal process, however. It was already difficult that Victor was not Japanese, but made more so that Yuuri had to prove there wasn’t a known alpha. An ugly prejudice that did little more than hurt victims of rape and abuse under the guise of “omega protection”.
Victor sighed, trying to shut his own mind down. He knew not to share these worries with Yuuri, especially before bedtime, especially before a breaking press conference, but he didn’t want anything or anyone to threaten his daughter or his mate.
Yuuri whined in his sleep and Victor knew his worry had leaked through his scent. Victor leaned in and brushed a kiss into Yuuri’s raven hair and felt the younger man snuggle impossibly closer to him. Victor’s hand went to the space where Yuuri’s shirt rolled up revealing skin and the dimple just above his ass. The simple sight of his Yuuri’s dimple was enough to bring a soft laugh to his throat, and next to him Yuuri hummed happily in his sleep. He moved his fingers in soothing movements. Tomorrow. It all comes out tomorrow.
Yuuri speaks out in an interview with Victor's support.
Hey, all...it was hard to wait so long to post this but I don't want to run out of story before I get too much written. I've got 9 written so far and 6 edited (including these two). Thanks to BluSkates for keeping this going.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Victor tamped down his own fears as the car drew closer to the arena. Although the official interviewers the couple had contacted knew what to expect, this moment would create a sensation in the figure skating community. He stepped out of the car and already his silver hair drew the attention of reporters even as he walked around to Yuuri’s door. He heard the twitter of excited fans, keeping a respectful distance behind the ropes, a few beeps from phone cameras telling him they were already being tagged on instagram. His eyes caught Yuuri’s through the window and the beautiful brown from within the car gave him courage. He opened the door, taking Yuuri’s hand to stand and he and their daughter rose. As they moved away from the car, tending to the baby carrier that would turn into a stroller, the atmosphere changed quickly.
A hush filled the crowd as they watched the new parents settle their child into the stroller. Finally, with diaper bag thrown over Victor’s shoulder, stroller in Yuuri’s hands, they moved towards the throng. Victor saw the eyes of fans, some hardening against him, others turning damp as they looked at his beautiful daughter smiling to the crowd. The voices of reporters might have been prying or harsh, but at least they spoke softly in the presence of a baby. “Mr. Nikiforov, are you and Katsuki mates?” “Mr. Nikiforov, is this child a result of events in Sochi?” It didn’t take long for them to draw conclusions. Not that either of us gave them anything to go from. “Mr. Nikiforov, is this the reason for your disappearance over the past months?”
Victor held a hand and leaned in to check with his partner before turning to answer the crowd of reporters. “My mate Yuuri and I are here to support friends competing in this year’s Grand Prix Final. We have already agreed to exclusive interviews, so you’ll have to hold onto your questions until after those have been aired.” Victor then guided Yuuri through the crowd with a firm hand and purposeful step ignoring the questions that fell at his back.
“They think…” Yuuri murmured as they cleared the reporters and showed their badges to move into the entrance reserved for skaters and coaches. Celestino had managed to pull strings, obtaining coaching passes for the two of them. Victor was sorry they hadn’t found a way to get one for Flip, but then she didn’t need one.
“I know...it will be fine. They’ve been thinking it since Sochi,” Victor reassured him.
Yuuri’s lips parted as he thought about what Victor went through without cause. It must have been awful to shoulder that lie, the same one that had pulled him from his nest, saved him from a deadly drop. While that lie may have saved Yuuri’s life, it potentially ruined Victor’s life, his career. He had to live with being seen as a rapist for months, all while knowing he would...could never do something as horrendous. “I...should have said something.”
“It wouldn’t do any good. You didn’t remember.” He saw the doubt on his mate’s face and quickly smiled. “It’s fine, Yuuri. I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out.” Yuuri knew his smile, could see how forced it was but also knew it was his mate’s armor. He let it be. Victor then spotted Celestino and Phichit, waving at them as he continued to guide Yuuri through the stares of the crowd.
The coach’s expression was longsuffering, a patient smile on his face. Yuuri knew that he hadn’t been an ideal student, headstrong, stubborn...but he was nothing in comparison to one Phichit Chulanot. That skater was an army within himself. “Is this her?” he asked to fill the space. He reached out towards the baby in the carrier, his fingers dancing over her tummy as she grabbed hold of it. His laugh tumbled out warmly at her hold. “She’s a strong one, Yuuri. Tell me you plan to introduce her to the ice.”
Yuuri glanced up at Victor, his own smile settling on his face. “She already spends about four hours a day on the ice. Victor has her in a front carrier while I skate. She loves to watch.”
The coach straightened up and held the other man’s eyes. They had discussed at length Victor’s part in Yuuri’s situation once the truth came out. It took time but the Italian, an omega who had suffered his own horrific events, finally recognized Victor as an ally. Now, he was part of Yuuri’s team, choreographing his upcoming season and standing in as coach so Yuuri can stay close to his family. It began as an uneasy arrangement but then video came from Yukko to the older coach and he could see Yuuri laughing, bright smiling eyes as he skated up to Victor to tease his daughter on the ice before going back into his routine. Yuuko knew only a little of Celestino before using her own daughters as a means of investigation, the three girls were some of the most knowledgeable people of the skating world beyond Japan. She soon saw it was imperative the video include how the couple worked as a coaching team, and as a family. Through this medium, the older coach could see that Yuuri had kept his daughter and was in the process of making peace with his past. Victor was an important part of that, stabilizing the skater, unwavering in his support.
Yuuri shoved a loose strand behind his hair, the top half mostly held by an elastic . Victor loved his mate’s hair pulled back, the longer length just reaching his shoulders. His hair had grown and thickened during the pregnancy assisted by the generous vitamins and well regulated meals. They talked about haircuts but Yuuri was reluctant and Victor started playing with the new length of hair, getting Yuuri used to it. Yuuri’s fingers slid over the thick dark locks of his daughter. “She’s grown quite a bit,” Yuuri said as he lifted the chubby infant out of the carrier and settled her into the coach’s arms. They all chuckled as she reached for the lanyard pulling the ID badge into her mouth.
It hadn’t taken long for the couple...for the baby to attract the attention of others. Skaters who were on the outside of their story watched curiously, questions on their tongues but knowing Victor wouldn’t spill information before planned. The alpha rested a protective arm around Yuuri’s shoulders purposefully ignoring them. The competing skaters would be herded into a room soon enough for interviews. Yuuri and Victor were scheduled right after to meet with Morooka and Nick Zaccardi.
Morooka worked to help Yuuri relax, talking about the mundane as he bounced Shizuka on his knee. Nick spoke with Victor and went over the interview questions with him one last time before they began. The American journalist had covered Yuuri’s climb in the States and had been one of the few to decline speculation about Yuuri’s sudden departure, even going as far as to get into a shouting match on Around the Horn with Bomani. Finally, the producer signaled for the four of them to have a seat. “Good afternoon, and welcome to the Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka, Japan. We are treated this afternoon with a rare interview from omega skater Yuuri Katsuki and last year’s champion Victor Nikiforov. I am Nick Zaccardi and this is Morooka Hisashi. Welcome to our first collaboration for ESPN’s Sports Center !”
“Thank you, Nick,” Morooka responded. “And thank you, Victor and Yuuri, for agreeing to this interview. Why don’t you tell us about the past few months?”
Yuuri glanced shyly towards the camera then focused on his daughter now sitting in his lap. “I think I’ll have to go a little further back,” Yuuri began. He met Victor’s eyes and the alpha placed a calming hand on his back. “Take her,” he whispered and as he handed off his daughter, Victor could see the tremor in his hands. Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly lifting his beautiful countenance to the camera. “Last November while training in Detroit, I...was taken, held captive, and forced into heat by an unknown assailant. O-once I was free, I couldn’t recall many details and my university was quick to brush it under the rug. I thought...I was fine. I went to the Final, however, and well...you saw the results. I unraveled before everyone. A delayed effect from the trauma pulled out in a time of stress.”
The two reporters allowed for a moment while Yuuri settled himself. The young man was clearly upset, but also a remarkable example of strength, holding himself together. “So...your daughter Shizuka is not Victor Nikiforov’s,” Nick clarified.
Yuuri initially shook his head but then stopped and looked at his mate, nodding. “It’s not as simple as that. Victor is in the process of adopting her. But she is not his...genetically.”
“I assure you, as far as I’m concerned, she is my daughter,” Victor interjected, shifting the baby in his arms as she cooed and reached for his nose. He smiled at her and let her settle into his lap easily. “However, that night that everyone speculated on...I only looked out for Yuuri keeping him safe. We spent the night in my room, sleeping side by side. But nothing happened, I would never. Yuuri was in no condition to consent. We didn’t become intimate until months later.”
Yuuri blushed, unused to his life going on display. “I...it was a struggle. I didn’t...realize that I had made such an impression on Victor. However, as I fell apart, Victor came to Japan...and found me. Once more.” Yuuri rested soft eyes on Victor before continuing, “It’s been a journey, getting to know one another and learning to lean on Victor when I need to. He encouraged me to make my own choices. In the end, I chose to keep my daughter.”
“Some would suggest that your decision to keep your child contradicts your claim of rape,” Nick stated, not managing to completely hide the wince at his words.
“They might,” Yuuri countered. He had prepared for that question knowing that people would ask. “It’s about choices. I was denied my first choice when I was forced to mate and carry the child of my rapist. The government denied my second when it refused me an abortion, a legal option for any woman in the United States, but denied to male Omegas in almost every country. The only choice I had left was whether or not I’d keep and raise my daughter.” He stopped thinking back to the emotional turmoil he went through during that time, some of it blurred out by how close he came to dropping. Should I even mention that? How ignored my health was by the medical community, to the point where a doctor wouldn’t even look at me until it was too late? He shook his head, one battle at a time. To his side he felt Victor shift closer to him, giving him the assurance he needed. “I...would not have...if I didn’t have the support of Victor and my family. I couldn’t see past my own pain. Mentally, I would not have been in a place where I could have properly cared for her. However, I never entertained the thought that I didn’t love her. I worried...I didn’t love her enough. I misread my pain. But when I laid eyes on her, that all went away.” He looked at the little girl playing on his alpha’s lap, her eyes were concerned but returned his smile. “And...well, over thirty percent of people impregnated through rape keep their child. So...those who make the suggestion that a loving parent couldn’t raise a child because of the horror of their conception are working on assumptions and not facts. But more importantly, the question is not why I kept my child. The question is why wasn’t I given the same choices my female counterparts are given. The law is flawed and it oppresses male omegas under the guise of protection.”
The two reporters were quiet for a moment before Morooka asked, “What are your next moves?”
Yuuri met Victor’s eyes and smiled. “With Victor’s help, I’ll be reclaiming my place in the figure skating community.”
Both reporters blinked at Victor before Nick asked, “So you’re not returning to figure skating?”
Victor sighed, his eyes resting on Yuuri. “That’s a question still up for debate. Yuuri would have me return and I lean towards watching over my family. As you know, I lost my own fathers a number of years ago and to be blessed with this family at this point, I just want to cherish every moment.”
“But I argue that you can cherish those moments while still doing what you love, while still skating,” Yuuri argued emphatically. He then blushed and then turned towards the reporters. “As you can tell, this is a point of contention between us. Although I respect Victor’s choice, I still long to see him skate and I don’t want him to give up the ice for me.”
“I haven’t given up the ice,” Victor countered softly. “I simply approach it differently. As your coach and your choreographer.”
Yuuri sighed and refocused on the reporters. “As for other moves, I have a legal team in place and with their help, I am planning to bring suit against the university to hold them accountable for their actions. There was no investigation, and I was shuffled off as quickly and quietly as they could make it. I wasn’t a rape survivor, I wasn’t a person. To them, I was a scandal waiting to erupt and they swept me aside. I will also be speaking to the Council for Omega Rights at the United Nations in New York City. I haven’t been back to the United States since I left months ago with the news of my pregnancy. Coach Celestino has since moved all of his skaters to another location. That should not have had to happen but he did this to ensure their safety. So we are here today to support my former rinkmate and friend Phichit Chulanont and Victor’s friend Christophe Giacometti.”
“We appreciate the courage it took to come out with your story,” Nick stated.
“And we look forward to seeing Japan’s Ace back on the ice,” Morooka added, clearly happy to write on his favored subject for many more seasons. “Thank you for sharing your story with us, Skater Katsuki and Skater Nikiforov. And we can’t wait to see baby Shizuka follow in her mother’s footsteps!”
The interview aired as a special before the opening ceremonies of the final and by the next day those skaters who had held back the previous day came up to talk with Yuuri and Victor. “I...didn’t know. Are you okay?” Leo de la Iglesia asked breaking the awkwardness.
Yuuri sighed. He had to start talking about this. To get himself past this. To get everyone else past this. “I...am having a good day but I know there will be bad days along the way.”
“Can I hold your baby?” Yuuri turned to see Sara approaching curiously. Her dark eyes were taking in the beautiful baby.
He looked down to his daughter who was reaching towards the long-haired Italian twin. “Of course,” Yuuri responded warmly, settling her into the Crispino twin’s arms.
As she stepped back and became enraptured in the little bundle, her brother leaned into Victor and murmured, “This is why I’m so protective of my sister. I know everyone has always thought it was weird, or that I’m a dick but it’s a scary world. Being a skater makes her even more visible.”
Victor would like to have been able to tell him that she would be fine but since Yuuri, he knew that bad things happened to good people. “The hardest part is letting them be independent while keeping watch over them.”
Michele grimaced before responding, “I don’t think I’ve mastered that yet.”
JJ watched from the edge not sure how to approach the crowd but Georgi pushed past him and embraced Victor before he had a chance to respond. “I knew you were a good man,” he echoed. “I just didn’t...you walked away from everything to be there for the love of your life! Would that we all have the courage to sacrifice all for our love!”
“Ummm...thank you?” Victor choked out, pulling back he surveyed his friend from the rink in Russia. Georgi always came across to him as a little corny in his romantic ways, but he was at least completely sincere, and that was the best part of him. Looking past the honest smile Victor spotted Yakov at the edge of the crowd. As the Russian skater released him, Victor approached the old coach who regarded him thoughtfully.
The older man huffed out a sigh, removing his hat from his head and placing a hand on Victor’s shoulder. “You let me believe the worst,” he stated gruffly.
Victor reached up, cupping the withered hand with his, the skin etched with time. “I thought...it would be easier to let me go. And...as far as I’m concerned, she is my daughter.”
He sighed then walked over to Yuuri who now bounced the infant on his hip. “Well, let me see her.” The coach lifted her out of Yuuri’s arms and held her up, squinting his eyes as he studied the child critically. “She’s sturdy...and doesn’t appear nervous at all.”
Yuuri laughed softly leaning into Victor as he stood to the younger man’s side, sliding an arm over his shoulders. “Well, she’s better when Vitya is near. His scent soothes her.”
The coach held his brown eyes before responding, “As well as yourself. You...you are planning to skate?”
“Yes, sir,” he answered.
He then narrowed his eyes at Victor before turning back to Yuuri. “And you want him to skate?”
“I’m not going to leave my Yuuri in Japan,” Victor protested. The coach waved him down holding onto Yuuri’s eyes. He was clearly talking to the head of the household...Yuuri.
Yuuri held his gaze, brown eyes narrowing with determination. “Yes, sir, I do. Celestino is working with me through Vitya but Victor could train. There is time.”
“I help with the family business,” Victor argued. His foot began to tap in annoyance with being ignored.
“A business that thrived in my absence and before it even knew you,” the Japanese skater argued. “My family’s onsen will continue on without us. It’s Mari’s to run someday.”
“And you need to stay in Japan?” the Russian coach continued.
Yuuri considered the question before shaking his head slowly. “I don’t need to stay here forever, but now, I’m in therapy and I’d like to stay with my current doctor until I found another I trusted as much.” He chewed his lip, considering his options...his choices. “I know I don’t want to return to the States.”
Yakov listened to the young man speak, ticking off everything on the list in his head. “You...come train in Russia. And we’ll get Victor back on the ice.”
Victor’s eyes widened. “What? No?!!”
“You say ‘no’ like a question...you aren’t committed to your decision, Vitya,” the coach stated gruffly. He knew Victor, he knew the man he had a hand in raising was unshakeable in his commitment to his family, but he also knew this man loved the ice, the competition. “You want to skate but are holding onto your obligations. You can do both.”
Victor’s eyes went from his mate to his coach not sure what had just happened. “I…”
Yuuri turned to face Victor, a hand on his forearm. “I don’t want you to regret us. We can stay in Japan a while longer but you eventually have to return to your own life. And if you want, I’ll make my place with you. Your life has been on hold long enough.”
Victor swallowed, dizzy from the out of control feeling his life took on. “But…”
“Your lawyers are working out of Europe. It will be easier to communicate and meet with them if we are closer,” Yuuri continued. He then thought about his own life, what he wanted to accomplish with the time he had reclaimed. “I can’t hide in Hasetsu forever. I have to face the world.” Turning to the coach, he added, “I’m in intensive therapy. I’d like to finish that course before making any moves. It’s important for my daughter that I’m mentally stable. However, I’ll have Dr. Hashimoto prepare a referral.”
“Where would we live?” Victor asked.
The old man rolled his eyes. “If you hadn’t put your place on the market, you could have moved back home. I’m sure Lilia will let you stay in the gatehouse for as long as you like.”
Victor squirmed at how quickly things were moving and falling into place. “The dogs…”
“Makkachin has stayed there before. What is one more?” Yakov was able to counter each of the predictable concerns easily.
Victor looked at his daughter in his mate’s arms. “Who will take care of Flip while I practice?”
“I think I can handle Shizuka by myself,” Yuuri grated. He shifted the little girl as she pulled at his ID lanyard, kicking her leg against the last bit of soft on his tummy.
Yakov grimaced, catching the odd nickname. “Did you just refer to your daughter as Flip?” the coach asked warily.
“Maybe? Yuuri’s friends, their daughters are named after jumps. It sort of started as a joke,” he defended.
He grunted before turning back to Yuuri. “I’ll be able to expedite the paperwork once you are ready. Just contact me directly, don’t go through the consulate.”
“Yes, sir,” Yuuri answered.
Victor watched his coach walk away. What just happened?
Wow! I didn't expect that to happen, either. I even had it plotted out with them in Hasetsu. Sometimes characters have their own ideas!
The changes before them...
Hey, all...I know. I haven't replied to any of your lovely comments. I'm on my way there next. I did enjoy a lovely visit with my mom so that makes it entirely forgivable. ;)
Send love to BluSkates who did my edits. She makes my writing look beautiful.
Also...I realize the between times are important. I will be putting up a short series between these two stories. I'm thinking to call it "Between Truth and Lies". It will have Yuri meeting Shizuka among other things. Yuri was the first skater to meet the baby and it's mentioned in the text of Truth but I want to tell that story among others. So...if you're missing anything that might have happened in between, let me know. Maybe I'll pull it into the middle story.
As for now, enjoy...we jump into just a touch of angst. Not a lot...Yuuri knows how to handle his man.
Victor and Yuuri maintained face while with friends but back in their room, Victor turned on Yuuri, his eyes taking on a dangerous glint. “How dare you make decisions for me!” He had been holding that behind his teeth the entire return to the room.
Yuuri, unabashed by the outburst, just cocked an eyebrow as he prepared to feed their daughter, who smiled at her father, unphased by his anger. “All you had to do was speak up,” he stated simply.
Victor wasn’t ready to back down, “You’re safest in Japan!”
Yuuri shook his head in disagreement. “I’m not...not really. There are dangers no matter where we live, Vitya. And although the United States has left a bad aftertaste in my mouth, I’m no safer here than there.” He watched his boyfriend’s face settle and knew he was helping with one of the issues that faced and terrified Victor. “The problem isn’t location, it’s attitude. We live in a culture that fetishizes male omegas. Do you think that’s not happening here? Before I left for Detroit, I was propositioned on multiple occasions, men wanting me to be their concubine, their mate. Once was just when I had turned sixteen and newly presented… Victor, I was only sixteen and that happened right here in Japan.” He watched as Victor sat down on the bed next to him, cradling their daughter’s tiny head as she fed. “It’s part of why I need to stand up for omega rights. It didn’t just start with my rape. I’ve been fighting this fight since before I left Japan. Since I presented. And...it’s time to take it up once more.”
Victor kept his eyes locked on Shizuka’s small face, partially hidden as she nursed from Yuuri. His words had become weaker as he listened to Yuuri’s argument. Yuuri, as usual, was right. “But your parents…”
Yuuri sighed. “Let me handle my parents. If you want to be part of the conversation, fine, but...I’ve fought for my freedom once before.”
Victor looked up, taking in the determined eyes before him. “I...don’t want you to have to fight for your freedom. That should be a given.”
“But it’s not.” Yuuri reached out his hand and Victor moved in closer. “We have to talk about the second elephant in the room.” He watched Victor squirm where he had settled. “If you really don’t want to return to the ice, I will respect that. However, I don’t think you are listening to your own heart. You...don’t sleep well. There’s a restlessness in you. You’re not finished yet.”
Victor shrugged, but Yuuri felt his hand grow cold. “I...I am worried about Shizuka.”
“I know,” Yuuri whispered.
Victor blinked, hoping they were talking of the same worry that plagued him nights. “You...do?”
Yuuri regarded his mate, shifting to settled Shizuka into her bassinet but remaining close to Victor. “Most people think I’m...unaware. I notice everything. I just...keep my thoughts close until I know what I’m feeling.”
“I don’t want to lose her.” Victor’s fingers brushed over her sleeping form.
Yuuri reached out and turned his face towards him, holding him with intense brown eyes. He’d gone over all of the risks with the attorneys. He knew what could happen as well as what would likely happen. Still, Victor needed assurance. Yuuri’s thumb brushed over Victor’s cheekbone as he reassured him. “You have me. And because of that, you have her. I’m not going to lose her. The press will be in my favor, more importantly the law is on my side. No court will be able to ignore my claim on her. Besides, he will likely never show up. That would be tantamount upon admitting rape.”
Victor understood all of that, however the worry never left him. It was like he traded old fears for entirely new ones the minute she was born. “I know what the lawyers say…”
“You trust your lawyers,” Yuuri pointed out.
“I...I just don’t want you at risk. You’re too important to me.” He looked back at the little girl, now sleeping soundly. “Shizuka is too important to me.”
Yuuri leaned in and kissed him, his fingers tracing down Victor’s jawline. “I know...and I know you will keep us safe. And I will take care of you. Either we’re in this together or we fall.”
“I’m...with you,” Victor agreed reluctantly but Yuuri could taste his fear.
“Trust me,” Yuuri whispered. Moving even closer, the thighs touching, sharing their warmth.
“I...almost lost you,” Victor whispered back. Yuuri could feel Victor’s emotions through his touch, knew the fears that wracked through him.
“I have always been yours...since before...Shizuka ever happened. You would not have lost me.”
“If he...he took you from me…” A sob broke Victor’s voice.
Yuuri titled the head up, catching his eyes. “I fought to stay alive. I fought to see you that day on the ice…” The resolve in his voice caught Victor’s breath, stunning him for a moment.
Victor’s tears released as if he’d been holding them back for months. “I...knew you. There was something familiar about you…”
“Just a letter from a scared twelve-year-old,” Yuuri said softly.
Victor shook his head. “I don’t..I’ve never sent anything like that bunny before...or ever again. Something instinctively took over.”
Yuuri’s lips parted a moment before he closed the distance. Emotions ran high as Victor felt his world fall away, leaving just the two of them. Yuuri shifted in his arms pushing Victor onto his back. It seemed every time they fell into bed like this it was due to high emotions. Victor wondered what it would be like to intentionally take his Yuuri apart. But then again, Yuuri’s emotions were strong and ran wild. Especially with Victor.
Blue eyes watched as Yuuri pulled his shirt and bralette over his head, the slight swell of his breast still providing more than enough milk for their daughter. The white liquid leaked down his body in a small rivulet in Yuuri’s desire. Victor traced the path, drawing his finger back to his lips tasting Yuuri’s essence. It wasn’t the first time he’d tasted Yuuri’s milk but for some reason while Yuuri breast-fed, Victor couldn’t bring himself to suck and tease at those pink buds. That didn’t stop Yuuri, though, as Victor was quickly reminded by the smaller form dipping down to slide his tongue over Victor’s nipple, blowing on the sensitive surface causing Victor to shiver. “Yuuriiii,” he moaned and was rewarded by those beautiful lips closing over his nub and sucking steadily, tongue flicking at the tip. For all of Yuuri’s lack of experience when Victor came into his life, Yuuri made up for it as soon as Dr. Ito cleared him for physical activity (including sex...she explicitly stated sex). And Victor learned just how aggressive Yuuri could be when encouraged.
Victor gasped as Yuuri bent over the other nipple ensuring it didn’t feel neglected, his tongue laving over the surface hungrily. Victor wanted the torture to continue. He also wanted Yuuri on his cock. Those lips moved back up Victor’s chest, across his jaw, teasing the sensitive flesh beneath his ear. A scrape of teeth brought an “nnngg” from Victor’s throat.
“Yuuri, need you…” The whine came from far back in Victor’s throat.
He received a chuckle in reply, a hand reaching down to graze along his length through his pants. “I suppose we should do something about these clothes, then,” Yuuri answered. His hands reached for the button and soon Victor felt Yuuri pushing him free of his slacks, Yuuri returning without his own pants. Victor reached down for him and Yuuri crawled back up him, settling in his lap.
Victor sat up to meet his kiss, the younger man lifting his hips seeking to settle onto his mate’s length. Yuuri’s lips parted with the stretch, his eyes closing as he focused on relaxing, willing his body to give to Victor. It didn’t take much. Yuuri’s body knew Victor’s now and responded to it without hesitation.
Yuuri captured Victor’s lips once more as he began moving up and down Victor’s length, his slick filling the space between him, the glide and pull catching their breath. Yuuri belonged to Victor and the older man knew it, knew Yuuri only responded to him like this, knew Yuuri would only give himself over to Victor.
Victor watched in rapt adoration as his mate sought his pleasure on Victor’s length. “Come for me, my Yuuri,” he whispered as he felt the muscles in Yuuri tense, his own quickening barely held in control. Then those muscles spasmed around him as Yuuri released, Victor capturing him as he came down from his orgasm, shifting Yuuri onto his back. He continued to move in and out of Yuuri chasing his own orgasm, Yuuri a relaxed mess beneath him, his fingers sliding lovingly over his body until Victor found the edge he sought, tumbling over and releasing into Yuuri.
He lay breathless in Yuuri’s arms, fingers tenderly carding through his hair now damp with sweat. When did they become this, where sex and love flowed so freely between them? A comfort settled between them, a confidence that they were home. Which was why they could argue without fear, speak their minds, fight with one another...they knew in the end, the other was there for them.
Victor pushed up with his arms and looked down at his very relaxed lover. He knew Yuuri, knew him in this state. He’d need to care for him. It was an added pleasure to Victor to have this honor. Yuuri hid his vulnerability from everyone except him. Slipping from Yuuri’s side, he padded to the bathroom, returning with a warm dish of water and cloth. He wiped down Yuuri’s body. The smaller form turned into the cleanliness, a soft purring escaping his throat. Victor smiled, appreciating the trust Yuuri gave him.
Once clean, he pulled the blanket over Yuuri and leaned over the smaller form to check on their daughter. She slept unaware of her parents’ activities. Settling in beside Yuuri, he pulled the smaller body into him, nesting his back against Victor’s front. This was a hard fought position, Yuuri letting them sleep like this and Victor now claimed it every time he had a chance.
Yuuri sat with his parents, his hands worrying the tail of his shirt. He could feel Victor’s presence nearby, his mate holding his daughter protectively in his arms. “I...I’m going to Russia. After my therapist agrees, but we are going to train. With Yakov...and I guess I’ll continue to train there.” His hand nervously rubbed the back of his neck not sure how his mother would react.
She studied him and Victor and then sighed. “This town was never able to hold you, my son. It was only a matter of time before you left again.” Looking up to Victor, she stated, “You have to promise me you will watch over him no matter what.”
“Of course I will,” Victor assured her. He let out a small breath of relief. He wanted his family to stay in Japan, to stay safe, but he knew that this was no longer what they needed. He had been preparing for a fight and was grateful when it didn’t happen...but in a smaller sense sorry it hadn’t.
Toshiya remained quiet, his eyes watching his son. Finally, he added, “You will come home to us.”
Yuuri reached across the table, “Yes, of course.”
The father’s eyes moistened, “More often than before?”
Victor smiled knowing how much Yuuri’s parents loved him. “I’ll make sure of it.”
The old man nodded, “I know you will.” Turning back to his son, he added, “We will always give you the space you need. Just don’t forget to come back to us. It’s too hard on the heart when you stay away so long.”
Yuuri nodded. “I’ll do better.”
Toshiya smiled at his son, knowing he would take this to heart. “You don’t have to prove anything to us. We know you are strong and courageous. Now, is this what you want?”
Yuuri considered his father’s words, the man who kept quiet and rarely entered into a dispute. He had his own ways for dealing with things and Yuuri only just realized how his continued absence hurt the man, hurt both of them. “It’s what I need. I came back...and I had time to heal. Now I need to know the world won’t swallow me alive once again.”
Toshiya smiled softly. “You’ll do fine. Now hug your mama so she can hide her tears.”
Yuuri smiled, feeling the sad pull at his heart before pulling his mother to his chest. She didn’t shake in his arms. It always amazed him she was such a quiet cryer. But he felt the dampness of her cheeks against his neck. “I promise I’ll come back,” he whispered.
“I know...it’s just so hard to let you go.” The unspoken again hung in the air between them. Yuuri fought so hard to convince them to let him go the first time. She reached up and wiped the remainder of her tears away. “I’ll be in the kitchen,” she declared and Yuuri watched her walk off.
His father smiled indulgently towards his wife. “She’ll come around. You are...so much like her.” He smiled thinking of his stubborn, emotional wife. “She just has to prepare her heart.”
“Don’t be, son. You did nothing wrong. Now...you have therapy this afternoon. Work hard. Your dreams have been on hold long enough.”
And with that, Victor and Yuuri were left alone. Neither of them commented on the gruffness in Toshiya’s voice or the casual wipe of the tear. Victor picked up the carrier and took Shizuka out to the car. Yuuri followed, still shell shocked from the encounter.
On the drive, Yuuri whispered out his fear, “I’m hurting them.”
Victor considered the little girl in the back, “One day we’ll have to let our own little girl go to chase after her dreams. I suspect that will be one of the hardest things we do. But we will. Because we love her.”
Yuuri took in a deep breath and let it out. Nodding with determination, he reached over and squeezed Victor’s hand.
It took two months before his therapist comfortably released him from counseling. “You still need care to maintain and continue your improvements. And you will have rebounds, I want you to be ready for them and know how to deal with them once they arrive. I’ve been put in touch with a Dr. Abramovich in St. Petersburg that is well versed with our techniques. I’ll send you with a copy of your file but I leave it to you to decide if he’s the one for you. His contact information is in the folder.”
Yuuri had his six month check up with his daughter later that afternoon, both in good health. Leaning into Victor’s arms, he whispered, “It’s time.”
“I know. Are you ready?”
Yuuri nodded. He watched as Victor made the call to his coach listening to the warm flow of Russian from the silverette. Disconnecting, his mate declared, “He’s putting everything in motion. And...I guess we’re staying in the gatehouse.” He stretched and laughed. “You know, I stayed there off and on during my youth while my parents traveled and then full time until I was old enough for the dorms after they passed. I used to drive Lilia up the wall.” He settled into a soft smile. “It will be good to be back.”
Yuuri in Russia!
I know it's late...I was chilling out reading and watching Insidious...because it's that time of year.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
While Victor was uneasily becoming more comfortable with their move to Russia he had determined that he would do one thing prior to their departure with or without Yuuri’s blessing. Yuuri had to have a decent coat, one that could last through the unforgiving winter, one that cost a shit-ton. Yuuri now stood in the blue wool peacoat with a brown scarf wound round his neck waiting for their ride in St. Petersburg. Shizuka was bundled up in a baby snowsuit in the frontpack beneath the layers. “Go back inside,” the alpha ordered. There was no point in both of them standing in frigid temperatures. Yuuri’s initial stubborn streak flared and he had a ready retort on his tongue, but pressed his lips together and retreated into the warmth.
They had shipped all of the necessary items including the entrity of the baby room along with supplies that Yukko insisted they would need as Shizuka grew. Yuuri knew she was only a facetime away, but he would miss having her calming reassurance readily available. The items now sat waiting for them in the carriage house at Lilia’s home. It had taken some ingenuity but Victor even figured out how to ship the rocker. Victor was a problem solver and he knew his mate was sentimental.
Victor spotted Lilia’s driver and car as he pulled into the pick-up line. Standing up from where he leaned against the wall, he stepped inside where Yuuri had taken shelter with the baby. The omega was putting himself back together after feeding their daughter. Victor could see others staring and let out a low warning growl. Heads dropped automatically as Victor knelt before Yuuri and helped him reassemble himself.
“She was hungry and I didn’t want to step out of sight,” Yuuri flustered and Victor could see the small hands shake as he fastened the coat around the two of them.
“It’s fine, my Yuuri. You shouldn’t have to explain feeding our child.” Victor helped Yuuri to his feet and guided him outside, their luggage in tow. Victor also had to admit he didn’t want Yuuri to step out of his sight either. Russia was his home, but it could also be dangerous.
By the time they reached the curb, the driver had worked his way up the line and was now parked to receive his passengers. He first settled Yuuri and the baby before turning to help Victor load up the trunk. “You shouldn’t be doing this, sir,” he argued.
Victor laughed before responding, “How many times are we going to have this conversation, Lev?”
The driver grinned and answered, “With you, likely several more.”
Climbing into the car, he could already see the droop of Yuuri’s eyes as the tension from travel left him now that he was out of the public eye. Victor reached over and smoothed his hair out of his eyes and smiled as those brown eyes fluttered open wide. “Are you ready?”
Yuuri nodded but took his hand holding it tightly. The alpha knew his mate well enough to know that although Yuuri wanted this, he was afraid of all of the changes. However, Yuuri was never one to let fear hold him back. Victor felt that head rest against his shoulder. Just as well . Lilia’s place was on the outskirts of St. Petersburg in an affluent and private community.
It was a little over an hour when Victor roused Yuuri from his sleep, drowsy brown eyes lifting up to him. “We’re here, solnyshko ,” Victor greeted with a warm smile.
Yuuri sat up, now looking around in interest and then his eyes widened at the cottage . “It’s so big!”
“Well, it looks bigger than it is. It’s a little chopped up. But it has two small bedrooms upstairs. The closets are small but there is a huge unfinished area I’ll turn into a closet for all of us. The living room, kitchen, dining area, and hall are on the lower level.” He guided Yuuri to the door, taking the key from the driver. “Lilia said we can use her driver until we get our own transportation.”
Yuuri’s lips parted as he stepped inside. His eyes went to the stairs and then turned towards the living room. Setting the carseat down, he freed his daughter and carried her into the living room . A fireplace warmed up the space and the furniture was classic in design, soft fabrics and woodwork.
“Lilia must have redecorated. Some of these pieces came from the main house.”
“It looks...homey,” Yuuri decided, picturing some of their belongings filling the space. He turned and wandered into a space that was the dining room filled with a country painted table and china cabinet. “Oh! I didn’t think they made those anymore!”
“In old Russia, you will find it,” Victor reflected, his expression amused. “I’ll see if Lilia has a high chair for my zvyozdochka .”
Yuuri looked his way in surprise. “Why would she…”
Victor smiled at his mate’s incredulity, “The house is an old family home. Many generations of her family have lived here, some even being born here. There have been babies even if Lilia hasn’t been blessed.”
“Is she...okay that we are here?” The lack of children between coach and wife was known as one of those hushed topics of conversation.
Victor chuckled warmly. “I’m sure she insisted on it. Lilia...she may be stern but she’s adopted each and every one of us. She makes us her family.”
Yuuri smiled warmly, “Like Ciao Ciao!”
Victor nodded, a grin on his lips. “Exactly! Prepare for our little princess to be quite spoiled.”
Yuuri huffed. “You do that already.” He followed Victor into the kitchen. It was quite modernized although there were touches that spoke back to a bygone age. “I like the red stove .” The patterned tile behind it drew Yuuri’s attention as the omega traced along the surface. “The ceramicists back home would appreciate this work.”
They went upstairs next and Yuuri found the master bedroom next. “Oh! The bed is small!”
Victor chuckled. “It will seem so with our old bed. You might have to pull the crib up beside the bed for a change.”
Yuuri frowned as he considered that option before sighing in agreement. “I suppose that would be a fair transition. Do you think it will fit?”
“It will be tight but if you are fine with climbing across, I think we could make do for now,” Victor answered thoughtfully.
Yuuri looked around the room thoughtfully. “I’ll be glad to have my quilts and other bedding. But...where will we store everything?”
“There’s an extra room. It’s not exactly finished but I think we can put hanging racks and trunk spaces.” Victor led him across the hall and opened the door. It was too narrow with the eaves of the house to put a living space in that room but it was perfect for storage. Yuuri shivered realizing that part was not heated and Victor closed it behind him. “Now for our sweet little angel’s room.” They crossed the hall, and opened the door. Victor let out a laugh and Yuuri peered inside. “It seems Lilia has already taken grandmotherly privileges with our baby girl.”
The room had an almost fairytale appearance but with a decidedly ballerina appearance. Yuuri studied the space taking in all of the details from the mobile topped with a tutu and dangling ballerinas to the chair in the corner. “Our stuff is here already?”
“I sent her things express, at Lilia’s request. I should have known she was up to something.” He watched Yuuri run his fingers over a pink faux sheepskin rug as he set the baby down, her tiny eyes staring up at the fairy lit room as she chewed her fist.
“It’s very...pink,” Yuuri surmised. He bent over and picked up a knitted bunny. “She seems to have caught our aesthetic, however.” He dropped down on the rug next to Shizuka and began teasing her playing where’s the bunny . Her giggles filled the room.
Victor grinned. “She probably influenced part of that aesthetic.” He sat down with his knees butterflied on the other side of his daughter. “I don’t think that crib will fit in our room,” he said finally.
Yuuri lifted his eyes and considered the crib. “Well, she’s outgrowing the bassinet. I guess...I’ll have to get used to her being in the next room.” Victor could hear the wistfulness in his words. “You sent the baby monitors, didn’t you?”
“Of course! And the nanny cam!” Victor reached across to touch Yuuri’s face, the light tickle of his fingers brushing the other man’s face.
“We’ll just make sure they are in good order before we put her down for the night.” Yuuri forced a smile putting on a brave face.
Victor admired his mate’s positive attitude but he knew otherwise. Yuuri would have a long night and, by extension, so would Victor. “So, the bathroom,” he said, his own voice surprisingly gruff.
Yuuri gave him an amused look and rose to his feet scooping up their baby girl to continue the tour. At the end of the hall, he opened the door to reveal a clawfoot tub with a shower connection, hex-tiled floors in black and white, and wainscotting up the walls. The sink was a rectangle pedestal. Storage was nonexistent.
“Is there...a linen closet?” Yuuri asked, his eyes going around the room. There was none. “We...may have to get creative.”
“There is a closet next to the stairs,” Victor suggested. They went to check it out only to discover an apartment sized stacking washer and dryer unit. “Oh...well, at least we have laundry.”
Yuuri nodded and then he hugged his daughter close. “It’s really a nice place, Vitya. Much nicer than my place in Detroit.”
Victor couldn’t help but remember the amenities of his former home. “Oh...it’s...so different from my last place.”
“You lived in a fancy condo,” Yuuri pointed out. “This will be fine. But I suppose if you’re not comfortable, we could look elsewhere. I just want to settle in and nest.”
Victor smiled at Yuuri’s acceptance. “I guess...it’s more than what we have back in Japan, too. And it’s private.”
“No Mari complaining about how loud our sex noises are,” Yuuri pointed out. Those complaints would still cause Yuuri’s cheeks to rosey up. Still, he loved his sister and the affection was evident between the two.
Victor chuckled. “I guess that’s a plus.” They spent the next hour unpacking and then Yuuri settled into their new bed to nap with his daughter. Victor promised to wake them for dinner. “Lilia wants us at the main house tonight.”
Yuuri nodded drowsily, his shirt off while Shizuka found his nipple to nurse. He was asleep before she finished, Victor scooping her up to pat her on the back then settling her in Yuuri’s embrace. He drew a quilt over the two of them making sure he left trace amounts of his scent along the surface.
Downstairs, Victor began sorting through the pantry. It was well stocked but very Russian. He began to make a list of things he knew Yuuri would want. A knock at the door drew his attention and he answered it to welcome in the blond tiger.
“I can’t believe you’re here!” The surly teen managed to get out before being pulled into a hug.
“Well, my Yuuri made that decision and I was dragged along for the ride.”
Yuri rolled his eyes and answered, “You’re just pissed he didn’t let you play the martyr.”
Victor turned a pout as Yuri moved into the house, examining the arrangements. “I was not!”
The little blonde turned, walking backwards as he moved to the overstuffed couch, plopping down onto it. “Sure you weren’t! Where is she?”
Victor then realized the blonde was going from room to room looking for his little mite. “She’s sleeping with Yuuri but knowing her, she’ll be up in another five minutes. Yuuri on the other hand will probably sleep until I wake him up.”
As if on cue, her cry rang down the stairs and Victor climbed up to grab her, Yuri not far behind but hanging in the hall while Victor went into their room. As he emerged, the blonde reached for the baby and hugged her to his chest. “She’s gotten so big!”
Yura had been the only one in their community with time to visit after she was born since he wasn’t skating in any major competitions during the current season. And now he cooed and played with the baby girl who grabbed his nose and giggled as he blew raspberries on her tummy. Looking up, he asked, “When do the dogs arrive?”
Victor smiled as the teen was able to show such open affection for his daughter but still stumbled over every word when talking to Otabek. “Tomorrow. I think with the rest of our things.”
“Are they being delivered?”
“Yes, everything’s been arranged.”
Yuri entertained the baby over the next hour when a cry was heard from above. Victor was on his feet headed up the stairs, Yuri held onto the baby protectively, his green eyes wide. Victor entered the room and found his mate disoriented. He immediately went to Yuuri’s side pulling him to his scent.
“It’s fine, Yuuri,” he murmured. “This place will smell like us soon.” He pressed his lips against Yuuri’s head, holding him close. “Breathe, Yuuri. I’m here.”
Yuuri gasped for breath and then settled into his arms. The tears came next. Then he started looking around, searching the bed. It took a moment for Victor to realize he was looking for Shizuka. “Yura’s here. She’s with Yura. Downstairs,” he stated firmly.
Yuuri looked up, his face now splotchy from the cry. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“Don’t be. We have that name. The one Hashimoto gave you. We’ll call tomorrow and see if you can get acquainted with your new therapist.”
Yuuri fell quiet for a moment. He knew the move, and all the changes would be an adjustment. But he didn’t expect to wake from a nap horrified by his unfamiliar surroundings. “I didn’t know...it would be this hard.” Please help me make this work.
“It’s a new place, new surroundings. I expected you to be a little unsettled.” He hugged Yuuri once more then murmured, “Let’s get cleaned up. We can visit with Lilia and Yakov before dinner.”
“I hope you didn’t mind that I decorated the little ballerina’s room,” Lilia chuckled. She had taken over the baby since they arrived, only giving her up for feedings and changings.
Yuuri laughed warmly. “Not at all. I didn’t decorate the last space either. That was all Victor.”
Lilia blushed a little, realizing she had robbed a new mother of his opportunity to decorate. But Yuuri seemed happy for the help. “It’s just...I felt like she needed to have a space ready as well.”
“We greatly appreciate that you made us feel so welcome. I didn’t know what to expect.”
“You brought our Vitya back to us. At least now he can skate to a proper retirement.”
It was Yuuri’s turn to blush, feeling guilty for something he didn’t control. “I...never meant to take him away.”
Lilia smiled, closing her eyes as the warmth filled the room. “Vitya was gone before he left. He knew where he belonged. It just took some of us longer to accept it.” Opening her eyes, she rested them on her husband. “It’s not always about blood calling to blood. Sometimes, there is something deeper that connects us to someone.”
Yuuri was stunned at her intuitive nature. “Victor said...he just knew.”
“So he did…”
Don't get too comfortable...
How does Yuuri-mom handle Shizuka sleeping separately?
Hey! Are you ready for another chapter? A little Yuuri angst which can only create Victor angst headed your way.
Thank you, BluSkates, for the edits! :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Yuuri glared at the alarm as it went off too close and too loud. Unfamiliar space combined with his daughter not sleeping next to him had him set on edge. He had checked on her no less than ten times during the night. She was still asleep and part of him resented that she adjusted to the separation more easily than him. He shoved his blankets back and rolled out of bed. Victor was already up and by the sound of the water running in the bathroom, in the process of getting ready.
As Victor came into the room, he dropped a kiss on Yuuri’s forehead. “It’ll get easier,” he promised.
“She doesn’t even need me anymore,” Yuuri hissed like it was Victor’s fault.
Victor chuckled taking the tiny abuse with good nature. He understood his mate, possibly better than the man did himself. As Yuuri huffed in front of him, a grumpy mess, Victor gave a gentle shove towards the bathroom. “Shower! You’ll feel better.”
Yuuri stood under the running water, a pout settling on his face. So much had changed at once and part of him was rebelling hard against it. I want my baby nearby. There has to be a way. But he knew she was too big for the bassinet and that he’d even agreed once she outgrew it, he’d move her to the bed. The only other option would be to place her between them. Getting out, he called to Victor as he dried off. The silverette poked his head into the bathroom, a warm smile in place.
“If we create a bed for Makkachin and Vicchan in the corner, maybe she can...sleep between us?”
Victor smiled indulgently as Yuuri formed his words. The dogs already had to sleep elsewhere, the smaller bed would soon turn into a territory war. “On stormy nights and when things are more uneasy, of course. But it’s good for her to sleep in her own bed.”
Yuuri huffed, he hadn’t wanted to compromise, he wanted his way. He wasn’t sure he agreed. They apparently read different articles on parenting. He moved past Victor still annoyed and into the bedroom to get dressed.
Yuuri stood in front of the mirror tugging at his practice clothes. Nothing seemed to sit in the right places. He felt fine with how the clothing settled on his body in Hasetsu. That small town had seen him go up and down so much in weight, no one really cared. But here...training with Victor’s rink mates...Yuuri cared. Those perfect Russians had a discipline that challenged gravity and aging. They looked chiseled from stone, but moved with fluidity. He stiffened as a pair of familiar arms slipped around his waist.
“Yuuri,” Victor murmured. “You’re beautiful.” The words fell off his lips too easily.
Yuuri looked up at him sharply through the mirror. “You’re just a little biased.”
Victor smiled at the mirror image of Yuuri. “Maybe...but I also know what you’ve fought back from over the last few months. The struggle...it has its own beauty.”
He raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “Not everyone sees that. All people will see is me...all lumpy and dumpy.”
Victor was undeterred. Pressing a kiss into Yuuri’s hair, he murmured, “I disagree. They will see a fearless warrior that puts his family first, a mother that loves his daughter without limit, and a beautiful omega in all of his grace and dignity.”
Yuuri sucked back his breath, turning into his arms. “I don’t know where I’d be without you.”
“Don’t think about it...you and I are together. This is us.”
Yuuri nuzzled into his scent gland and breathed him in. “I...need to wear your scent,” he confessed.
Victor began to run his wrists over Yuuri, making him feel claimed and protected. Slowly, that vulnerability fell away and Yuuri stood up, stood stronger. “Better?”
Yuuri nodded. “Much.” He hugged Victor close once again and murmured, “I wish...I didn’t need this. That I was strong on my own.”
“It’s not weakness to take what you need. I love you and freely offer myself to you.”
Yuuri sniffed back. “One of these days...I’m not going to cry.”
Victor’s expression remained soft as he slid his fingers through Yuuri’s hair. “Take as long as you need. I’m yours for life.”
Yuuri clutched into his shirt as Victor held onto him, his cheek resting against his mate’s chest. A baby’s cry broke through the moment. Yuuri giggled...the tension in his body releasing from the sound of his little one. Then he laughed. As he pulled up, Victor could see a smile behind the tears. “I’m glad...I kept her.” He then ducked away and headed into the nursery.
The omega missed her, missed her snuggles, her scent. Holding her to his chest, he soon forgot about the ill fit of his clothes and just remembered how his body provided for his daughter. Sitting in his rocking chair, he soothed her with a light touch to her thick crop of hair. She watched him and hummed as she suckled. He looked up as a shadow crossed the door.
“I’ll go get her rice cereal ready,” Victor offered. Yuuri smiled, nodding. Victor loved feeding her making silly noises to engage her. For now, Yuuri focused all of his attention on this moment, his moment, one that only he could share with his daughter. He knew they only had half a year longer like this. He planned to wean her at one year. Just before competition season begins.
Taking her downstairs to Victor, he received his own breakfast of eggs and toast. “Are you ready?” the Japanese man asked his mate.
Victor hummed as he nodded, taking the baby from him. “I have my gear in order. The playpen is by the door. Not sure what you and Lilia cooked up.”
Yuuri chuckled as he watched his mate make silly motorboat noises to feed their daughter. “She says she has a space for us. I thought we’d leave the playpen there, give her a place to move around while I do my stretches and dance.”
“A studio! Of course!”
“I just don’t want to inconvenience anyone.” Yuuri chewed his lip, pushing the toast with his fork.
Victor huffed. “You are not an inconvenience, my Yuuri. You breathe life wherever you go.”
“Again, just a bit biased,” Yuuri teased. Rinsing his dish, he kissed Victor on his way out of the room.
Yuuri packed for the day, his training bag more of a diaper bag these days. They had a playpen to set up at the rink. Blankets. Layers of clothes. Diapers, wipes, and more food. Added to that were the pads Yuuri used to keep from leaking through his shirt. “I need Hermione’s bag with its extension charm,” Yuuri muttered under his breath before looking up to see Victor carrying their daughter unhappily strapped into her carrier. “I see she’s not happy.”
“I think she is tired of travel. Perhaps we should take an extra day of rest,” Victor suggested.
Yuuri laughed but shook his head. “We start today!” A determined Yuuri was unstoppable. Victor couldn’t help the warmth in his chest. He watched Yuuri crumple but when shored up, he found his strength.
Yuuri took the carrier, leaning forward to release his calm over Shizuka. She sputtered then sniffed before settling. It was cheating, something Yuuri rarely used. He wanted her to use her voice. But they had a journey and she needed to become used to their new life.
In the car ride over, Victor hummed thoughtfully and Yuuri more than once cast a curious eye his direction. “What’s on your mind?”
“Just...a list,” Victor conceded. “There are so many things we need.”
Yuuri frowned, a little confused by his mate’s scheming. “A car would be useful but otherwise, I don’t know what you’re worried about.”
Victor kept his eyes out the window, “It’s just...you...you are not happy, Yuuri.”
“I just got here,” Yuuri argued, laughing wryly. Shrugging, he added, “I just need to settle.”
“And you can’t sleep.” Victor countered.
“It...takes time to adjust. And…” His eyes rested on Shizuka. “I don’t like being so far away.”
Victor studied Yuuri for a moment then asked, “What’s going on?”
Yuuri’s fingers danced over his daughter’s tummy as she watched him with interest. “I almost messed up,” he whispered. “I almost let her go. I don’t want her to disappear.” The words gave Yuuri’s fears substance and he felt Victor’s arm go around his shoulder. “I...I was so afraid...of everything. And I might...I would have…”
“Yuuri, you were just trying to survive,” Victor stated quietly.
Yuuri’s eyes rested on her. “Can I...speak for omega choice when I doubt the ones I would have made right now?”
“Yes,” Victor answered without hesitation. “You would bear the weight of your choices but they would be yours . And everyone else does the same. Do some have regrets? Yes. But they were allowed to have those regrets. It’s only right that male omegas have those rights. You should have had the choice...all of your others were taken away. You should have had this choice.”
“If I had...If I a...aborted…” He gasped for air, panting as he worked through his anxious thoughts. “If...there was no Shizuka...would there be an...us?”
Victor frowned as he thought about Yuuri’s question. “I...think there would be. I believe we are meant to be together. But...I can’t predict what might have been. I can only tell you what is. And what is is that I love you, with every part of my being. I can’t believe that hinges on a choice. Yes, I love our daughter, I consider her every bit my child and bonded with her when she was born. However, I said from the beginning that that choice was yours . If...if you gave her up, I would still be by your side helping you move forward with your life, with our life . I would mourn her but I would have respected your choice. Because you should have always had a choice.”
“I don’t know why this is so hard for me,” Yuuri whispered.
The sedan pulled to a stop and Victor sighed as he took in their location. “I think we should go home. You’re too upset right now and I worry you might hurt yourself.” He took in the brown eyes begging him to reconsider, “Can you skate?”
Yuuri looked up, his eyes moving out to the facility before nodding. “I...I need to skate. Maybe it will help me get out of my head.”
Victor helped Yuuri out of the car before going to the trunk to get their things. Yuuri held his daughter close to his chest as Victor situated her stroller. He then settled her into the seat tucking a blanket around her. She cooed and reached to her mommy as Yuuri placed her bunny next to her. It had a hot water bottle inside it to help keep her warm. She reached over and pulled the ear to her mouth, actively chewing on it.
Yuuri sighed as he smoothed his fingers over her hair before standing up. “Did you bring the tylenol? She’s teething.”
“It should be in her meds bag. I picked up an extra to keep with us for traveling.”
Yuuri nodded before turning to his new rink. He never imagined he’d be in this place, the ice where Victor grew up training. A solid hand on his back gave him the courage to step forward. As they stepped inside, both were surprised to be greeted by Lilia but it was soon apparent she was waiting to see Shizuka as she knelt down to check on her.
Standing, she took in the load Victor was carrying. “I checked studio assignments and there is one upstairs where you can set up her crib. I took the liberty of assigning it to the two of you. The custodian just finished giving it a fresh cleaning and we made sure the closet inside was clear in case you need to store things for the baby.”
“That’s most generous…” Yuuri began only to be waved off.
“Nonsense. You need a practice space. It makes sense that you have a dedicated space.” Her smile turned rye as she added, “I will say that Yura also claimed that he needs to practice with you.”
The Japanese skater laughed warmly. “I have no problem with that. We work well together.”
“Good, I’ll make the move.” She passed one door and gestured in it’s direction. “If you need to work with me, this is my preferred studio. I’ve worked with some of Russia’s best skaters and ballerinas as they worked through their choreography.”
“I’d be honored,” Yuuri replied, his voice properly awed.
She raised a well-sculpted arched brow in something that appeared to be amusement. Opening another door, she motioned inside. “Very well, Yuuri, this is your space. Feel free to get settled in but Yakov wants to see both of you on the ice once you can be made ready.”
“Oh, okay…” Yuuri’s eyes widened and he caught himself before he bowed before she walked away. He turned back to his mate, his cheeks red. “I-ah...Vitya, does he expect us on the ice at the same time?”
Victor chuckled. “Of course not, my Yuuri. We’ll take turns. And if it is so, there will be someone who will be happy to hold our little angel.” He opened the door to the studio and guided Yuuri inside. The younger man let his eyes move over the space, small but definitely would meet his needs. Yuuri spotted a hanging rod in one corner and he began to unload his bag. Victor set up the crib and then scooped Shizuka out of the stroller so she could stretch out while they set everything up.
Half an hour later, they were changed and down at the ice floor, suddenly surrounded by Russian skaters. Yuuri knew a few faces...Georgi, Anya, Yura, Mila...but others weren’t as familiar. Victor quickly made introductions. Katya, Ivan, Dmitry, Pyotr. They all fussed over Shizuka.
A sharp whistle startled the baby and made her cry, Yuuri quickly patting her to quiet down. Yakov actually looked apologetic but sent the skaters back on the ice. “Which is going first?” he finally asked looking from one to the other.
Victor checked the time then declared, “Yuuri will go. Flip needs to eat in an hour and a half.”
The coach narrowed his gaze at Victor before turning to Yuuri. “You let him call your daughter that?”
Yuuri gave an exasperated shrug. “I’ve tried to curtail him but that just seems to encourage him.”
The coach snorted. He knew the skater well. As Yuuri handed the baby over to Victor, he moved towards the entrance onto the ice. “Warm up, Katsuki, then move to the middle and show me your program,” the old coach ordered.
“But I’m supposed to be coaching him,” Victor fussed even as he bounced the baby in his arms.
Yakov grunted. “You’re green as a coach, Vitya. He’s on my ice, I will coach.” He watched Victor twist uncomfortably and pout from the corner of his eye before adding, “You may assist...but you will assist others, too. Yura and Mila. For your rent.”
“I thought you wanted me to skate,” Victor pointed out.
The coach chuckled but his eyes were trained on the Japanese omega warming up on the ice. “His form is good. Most don’t come back so quickly. How are his jumps?”
“His triples are solid but he needs work on his quads,” Victor confirmed. “He has a beautiful triple axel.”
“I remember,” the coach stated surprising Victor. “What! You don’t think I watch the competition as well?”
Victor turned his attention to his mate as Yuuri moved into his start position. They both remained quiet through the four minutes of Yuuri’s movements. Finally, the coach leveled a stare at Victor.
“The boy is too innocent for that program.”
Victor smirked. “He does innocent well. This will surprise the audience.”
“You and your obsession about surprising the audience. Have Lilia work with him on his presentation.”
“Of course,” Victor agreed.
“And those jumps, bring them up to quads. He needs at least twenty points to break a hundred.”
Victor nodded sharply.
“And have Katsuki work with Yura on his step sequences. The boy doesn’t value them enough.”
“He could skate school figures like my Yuuri does to relax,” Victor pointed out.
The coach stared at him then erupted in a laugh, “Bah! I’d love to see you get that out of the boy!”
Victor took it as a challenge, even as his daughter snuggled into his scent seeking comfort from the loud, noisy Russian.
Yuuri was exhausted by the time they called it a day. Balancing the back and forth of parenting and skating seemed to make for a longer day. He stretched as she napped. She played from her stroller while Yuuri lifted weights, Victor fussing about a critique his coach provided. They traded off at lunch eating while the other fed Shizuka. Then they traded off practices in the afternoon. By the time they climbed into the sedan that would take them home, Yuuri was leaning against the door, half asleep. Victor kept watch over both his mate and daughter.
Back home, they took turns showering off, Victor built a fire in the living room after taking the dogs out, and Yuuri made dinner. Finally, they curled up and watched a movie but Yuuri fell asleep in Victor’s lap. With a gentle tap, Victor suggested they go to bed.
Yuuri checked on Shizuka, sound asleep in her crib, before going to bed. Dressed in his pajamas since his shower, he climbed across and settled into the space he claimed for himself. Victor lit the fireplace in their bedroom, the coals casting a soft glow across the space. Yuuri watched as Victor settled in next to him. Now that he was in bed, sleep seemed hard.
Victor watched him and Yuuri knew he was making note of his anxiety. He tried to will himself to settle and even allowed Victor to pull him into his embrace. Even breathing in Victor’s scent did little to relax him. Yuuri pulled back and rubbed his arms, staring up at the ceiling. He swallowed a sob trying to work its way out.
Victor leaned forward to kiss him before slipping from the blankets. Yuuri heard the water in the bathroom through the wall and turned to face the wall. She’s fine. She’s fine. She’s fine . He continued his mantra until he felt the mattress dip, turning to see Victor stretch out next to him...and place their daughter into Yuuri’s arms. The sob he had been fighting hitched out of his throat as she snuggled into him.
Victor smoothed Yuuri’s hair. “I listened to you, my Yuuri...I can tell that it’s important for her to be here.”
“It’s so small,” Yuuri whispered.
“We’ll make the adjustments. She can stay between us as long as you need her to be here.” Victor’s hand moved down Yuuri’s arm and rested on his waist. “Rest now, my Yuuri. She’s safe. You’re safe. It’s time for sleep.”
Yuuri nodded. He slowly breathed through to settle his residual nerves. Finally, peace found its way into his demeanor and his eyelids grew heavy. A warm blanket settled around Yuuri covering the baby and surrounding her with warmth. Finally, Victor also relaxed, his hand on Yuuri’s hip. He would prefer to have Yuuri spooned into him but for tonight, this was what Yuuri needed and he listened as the younger man’s breathing evened out. Finally, Victor’s eyes shuttered and he slept.
That bed is going to get awfully small...
Sometimes we need a little help to get over a hump...and sometimes we need to adjust a few things.
Hey, all...enter Dr. Abramovich. Thanks, BluSkates, for the edits!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Victor held onto Shizuka as he walked Yuuri into the unfamiliar building, unsure of whether or not there would be a language barrier. Hashimoto had assured Yuuri this psychiatrist studied in the UK and spoke English fluently but that didn’t mean his staff had the same skill. Meeting with the receptionist, Victor found her English not too bad for someone who only studied in Russia and both Yuuri and the Russian lady seemed to communicate well enough to work through the appointment details. Victor also had to admit he wanted to see Yuuri in to make sure he kept the appointment. It had taken a little more effort on Victor’s behalf to get the time scheduled and Yuuri’s stubborn will had flared its head.
Yuuri visited with an intake nurse who gathered some basic history, then handed her his file explaining, “My previous doctor, the one who wrote the referral, sent this with me. I’d...like to hold onto the original if you don’t mind.”
She smiled indulgently and nodded. “That won’t be a problem Mr. Katsuki. I’ll make the copies while you wait here. If you prefer, your mate can wait with you.”
“Yes...please.” Yuuri smiled over to Victor, who breathed a sigh of relief that his mate wasn’t going to hold this against him.
While they waited, Shizuka started to fuss and Yuuri pulled her from the stroller with a sigh as he realized he’d lost track of time. She was hungry and the ache in his chest answered her fussy behavior. Victor reached for a blanket while Yuuri freed himself to feed her. It was the sight of Victor kneeling before the omega, watching over him while Yuuri fed their daughter, that the nurse walked towards smiling indulgently as she re-entered the waiting area.
“It’s refreshing to see such a devoted alpha,” she murmured softly.
Victor looked up surprised. “I thought...this was the norm.” He thought of his devotion to Yuuri, knowing that while some of it came from his conscious thoughts, most of it was driven by something deeper within him.
She waved off his concerns. “In this business, one becomes jaded.” Turning to Yuuri, she added, “Dr. Abramovich is ready to see you once you are finished. I’ll let him know that you are tending your daughter.”
Yuuri smiled his appreciation and nodded. He was nervous but he knew he needed this. He’d had too many breakdowns since the move for him not to admit he needed help. Finally, relinquishing Shizuka to her papa, Yuuri gave him a nervous smile as he put himself back together.
“It will be fine,” Victor assured him. “And if you don’t like this one, we’ll find another.”
Yuuri nodded as he stood up shaking his nervous energy out of his hands. “It...it will be fine,” Yuuri echoed. Stepping through the door, the nurse smiled warmly and guided him into the office. “Dr. Abramovich, this is your new referral, Yuuri Katsuki.”
The older man stood up and Yuuri’s eyes widened at the barrel chest and the salt and pepper beard. The mustache was pronounced, formed by thoughtful twisting of the ends. The smile was warm as the psychiatrist greeted him. “Come in, come in. Have a seat. Let’s get to know one another.”
Yuuri took a steadying breath and approached the man, his hand nervously going to his neck. Taking the offered chair, he sat stiffly chewing his lip. It was always hard, these first meetings. “I...I suppose I should have sent my file ahead. I didn’t want to let it go.”
“Don’t worry about it. Your previous therapist left some concise notes at the front that summarized the situation. So...you’ve just moved to Russia.” Yuuri nodded in answer, his brown eyes wide as he took in the bear of a man. “And I bet you’re feeling just a bit unsettled.”
“I mean...I’ve lived elsewhere before. Five years in the United States...most of that was...good.” Yuuri’s eyes went down to his hands and he realized he was twisting them nervously. He forced them to still, stretching them out flat on his lap. “It was good...until that night,” he finished, his voice dropping to a whisper.
The doctor nodded, understanding the young man’s hesitancy to speak of his horrifying experience. “We will have plenty of time to delve into the past as needed. What’s going on now?”
Yuuri drew in a deep breath and let it out. “I suppose...I’m not dealing with the change too well. I thought it would be easier but even the small things...like a bed that’s too small...are crowding in on me. All of these things are wearing on me.”
“What are the big things?”
Yuuri took a deep breath and let it out. “My daughter. My husband now training along my side. New country. New culture. My...family. I have to create an entirely new support system. And well...Victor and I...we have some differing parenting philosophies.”
Abramovich listened quietly as Yuuri ticked off his list. He smiled, impressed that the young man was so in touch with his difficulties. “Are you able to work them out?”
“For the most part...but well, I strongly believe in the benefits of co-sleeping. I want to keep my daughter close. And he...well, he thinks she should be moved to the crib. I thought...well, I thought I could do it once she outgrew the smaller bassinet, but it’s a lot harder than I thought. And that damn bed...it’s just too small.”
“Perhaps some of these things can be changed,” the psychiatrist suggested.
“Shouldn’t I try and make it work? I mean, the house was offered to us freely so that we could move here. I don’t want to put anyone out. Lilia...she’s been so gracious and kind.”
“Perhaps you are reading more into the intention than she had in mind. Sometimes we dance around a topic when straightforward communication can achieve much better results.”
Yuuri fidgeted, studying his hands as they worried his sleeve. “It’s such...a little thing.”
“It doesn’t seem like a little thing. Let’s talk about that. Why is it so important?”
Blinking his eyes rapidly, he didn’t know when the tears came forward. However, they were there now. “I...I would have given her up...aborted her if I had the chance. How...do I let those thoughts go? I love my daughter. I don’t resent her. I want her in my life...but then...I wasn’t myself back then and I would have taken a different path.”
The doctor smiled thoughtfully. “I think now we are getting to the root of the problem. It sounds like we have some guilt to work through.”
Victor sat across from his coach distracted, his thoughts on Yuuri and his daughter. The last few nights had been better but there was a hanging nervous energy with his mate. He didn’t know how to take it away. Even with the visit to the psychiatrist and more scheduled, he didn’t feel like the matter was resolved.
“Vitya, did you hear what I said?” Yakov’s gruff voice cut through the worried thoughts.
He looked up, startled. “I’m sorry, coach...my mind...was elsewhere.”
Yakov huffed. “It’s been elsewhere since you’ve been back. Do you want this?”
Victor considered his coach’s question before nodding slowly. “I do want this...but not at the expense of my family. So seeing to their needs is foremost.”
“What need is not being met?” the coach asked in confusion. From his eyes, they had a furnished house. What more could they need?
Victor sighed. Maybe another perspective would help. “It’s just that...Yuuri...he’s a nester. And well, the bed is too small. By the time we’re all in it, there is no space.”
“Get a bigger bed,” the coach suggested as if it was the easiest thing in the world.
“Those upper rooms are small in general. With the other furniture…”
“Figure out what you need, get rid of the rest, make room for the bigger bed. Or...if the kid is going to sleep with you, move some of the furniture to the other room.”
Victor thought about it. “I...do you think Lilia would mind?”
Yakov’s face dropped into the exasperated look he wore when Victor was being ridiculous...so the face he wore always. “Look, she wanted to make sure you had something to start with. She never expected you to just go with her suggestions. If you need to get rid of something, just tell the household servants and they’ll move them into storage. And there is no obligation to stay. If the layout of the house doesn’t work, look for another place.”
“But...it’s only for a couple of years.”
“Two years in a cramped space can make or break a marriage.” Yakov’s knowing tone sounded heavy to Victor.
“But we’re not…”
Yakov sighed. “You’re as good as married so you may as well accept it. Make the changes you need to make and move forward.”
Victor considered his coach, his mentor’s words. Victor skated around the ice watching Yuuri as he came close, cuddling their baby close. Yuuri walked away from the safety and support of his own world so Victor wouldn’t give up his own dreams. It was up to Victor to restore that sense of security. When he came off the ice and Yuuri relinquished the baby to his arms, he followed the omega down the hall to the studio.
Entering the room, he smiled. Yuuri had laid out a picnic. He reached into the crib and spread out the blanket where Shizuka could stretch out her limbs. Yuuri pulled the food out of the cooler and Victor couldn’t help but appreciate his multi-talented mate. “When did you do this?”
“Last night when cleaning up in the kitchen,” Yuuri answered. His eyes were shy, as well as his smile. “I know...I’ve not made this move easy. I didn’t know it would cause me so much stress.”
Victor reached over and took his mate’s hand, his thumb rubbing circles into the soft flesh. “I’ve been thinking...perhaps we should look at the cottage as a temporary residence. Like staying at a roomy hotel.”
Yuuri looked up, his brow wrinkling in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“I know we talked about staying because it was such a short period...but it really doesn’t suit us. We like to live in each other’s spaces and to have a home so chopped up…”
Yuuri chewed his lips thoughtfully and Victor was surprised he didn’t reject the idea initially. “If we...look for something different, could we look for something in walking or running distance to the rink? I’d prefer to go by foot or bike if possible.”
Victor smiled brightly, “I think...that’s a good idea. There are a number of loft spaces we can consider in the area. So...are you okay with me calling a real estate agent?”
Yuuri looked at Shizuka, watching as she rolled on her back, “I...I’m okay with it. But I want to help, financially.”
Victor sighed and clicked his tongue at Yuuri. “I still have the money saved from the sale of my condo. It should give us a good down payment and anything else should be reasonable.”
Yuuri frowned, unhappy at not contributing to their income. “It...doesn’t have to be big.”
“No...but it does need to accomodate a large enough sleep space.” Victor watched Yuuri’s eyes brighten and a smile play on his lips. He reached across, taking his mate’s hand. “I want you to be a part of this process.”
Yuuri nodded hesitantly. “I’ve never really picked out a place before. My apartment in Detroit was picked out by my coach. He had several skaters in that building.”
“The realtor will make that process easier. And I’ve gone through both the buying and selling process.”
Then Yuuri shook his head and Victor watched Yuuri backpedal. “I...I will be okay where we are at,” Yuuri said after a moment. “This is a lot of trouble and Lilia...she made a space for us.”
Victor sighed, taking his hands in his own. “I don’t want you to be just okay. I want you to be happy. I’ve already talked it over with Yakov. He’s already assured me that Lilia would not be upset. This house is fine...for now. But it doesn’t suit our lifestyle.”
Yuuri hugged himself as he let the words set in. Finally, he stated, “You’re the one telling Lilia. She’s been nothing but kind to us.”
It turned out telling Lilia produced a surprising response. They were at the big house for a team dinner, something Victor missed. Lilia was bouncing the baby on her knee making teasing noises which drew a number of curious stairs. “What? It’s not like I have grandbabies to spoil! This may be my only chance.”
Smiles slipped into the skaters’ expressions although they turned them away from her. Lilia’s series of miscarriages were all something that everyone knew of and no one spoke of. As a result, she adopted them each as they walked into her husband’s care. Of course, her attention was back on the baby as eyes returned to her. Yuuri sat on a cushion nearby, ready to take her back when Lilia grew tired. Finally, the wizened lady focused on Victor who had been shifting anxiously, his eyes darting to her nervously. “Out with it, Vitya. I don’t have all night for you find your courage.”
Victor smiled his charming smile and responded, “I don’t know what you mean.” He saw how she leveled a look of disapproval at the dodge and he took a deep breath before spitting out. “I think Yuuri and I are going to look for a place closer to the rink, something with a more open concept.”
She blinked in surprise then turned to Yakov. “Do you have something to do with this?”
Yakov held her gaze before responding, “Of course...I know you want Yuuri and Victor to settle in and be happy so they will stay longer, dear.”
She frowned as she considered his words. “That house...it really is too small. Yakov and I hated it and there was just the two of us. No pets, no...children.” She stuttered out the last word and Yuuri glanced at Victor in concern. The alpha held a hand up just slightly to stay his thoughts. “I think...if things had been different, I too...would have been happier closer to work.” She then focused on Victor and added, “That doesn’t mean you have permission to stop bringing this little angel over to see me.”
“Of course not!” Victor responded, his expression easing back into a smile. “And Yuuri and I appreciate your graciousness in allowing us to stay until we find our own place.”
She huffed. “Of course you would be allowed to stay. That house has been a revolving door for skaters and dancers through the years.”
“Thank you still the same,” Victor repeated, winking at Yuuri.
Later that evening as the party broke up, Georgi approached Victor. “The building where I stay...it has a few units open. In fact, Dmitry and Ivan stay there as well. It would...I mean, you might need a quick babysitter and we’re all right there.”
Yura who had been watching them all curiously pouted. “What about me? I thought I was your standby babysitter.”
Victor smiled at the youth and nodded. “Always...but sometimes you need an emergency plan. You are our first choice, however.”
It took a few days to set up an appointment and then Yuuri and Victor found themselves touring a flat. The open layout was much more socially inviting with kitchen, dining and living flowing into one another. It had two bedrooms on opposite ends of the apartment, two bathrooms but one ensuite. The master bedroom, however, held the spaciousness Yuuri craved. Victor could already imagine the oversized bed. Yuuri could see it holding their things as well as the baby’s.
“Do you think the second bedroom is too much?” Yuuri asked.
Victor shook his head. “We’ll set it up as a guest room and office. I do not like work in my living space if it can be helped.”
Yuuri nodded in agreement. “I think...we could make this work. How about the cost?”
“My other place was in a more exclusive building so it was more expensive. I can purchase and furnish this one with what I have.”
Yuuri chewed his lip and shifted uncomfortably, his eyes going to the large floor to ceiling window and the park it revealed nearby. “I...want to contribute to our space.”
“I think you should. It should have a bit of both of us. But I don’t want you to feel constrained.” Victor knew his mate would never be satisfied with simply allowing him to pay for the flat. However, there would be opportunities for them to work out an economy more to Yuuri’s liking later.
“I...know I don’t make as much as you. I hate photoshoots and want to focus on my skating. But...I do have an income.” He stopped and thought about what he could bring into their home. “I want to put a portion of that towards the furnishings and household needs.”
“Okay...we’ll need quite a bit. Just outfitting the kitchen will take a good amount.”
Before they left, they had entered into a lease-purchase agreement, lease until the purchase was final. Three weeks after making it to Russia, Yuuri and Victor found themselves packing once more, making sure to take the gifts from Lilia for their daughter. Victor already had an idea of how to set up the bedroom.
Buying furniture took some time as Yuuri didn’t quite know what his personal style entailed. He had moved from his childhood room into an apartment a step up from a dorm room. Then he returned to his childhood home. This would be his first opportunity to see what his adult tastes would choose. They looked at a number of sofas to start and he kept coming to some more modern pieces. However, when he started weighing in on what would go with it, Victor realized he liked the more vintage mid-century modern style. They used grey and wood as their main scheme and soon they had the dining room table , black with wood stained chairs, a mission style bed frame with an armchair and stool for the bedroom, a gray shag rug to soften the living room floor for baby (the bedrooms were already carpeted), geometric accents and soft comfort items. Victor found an omega store that allowed Yuuri to outfit his nest properly. The bedroom was accented in pinks and purples to go with the nursery. The living room had blues and reds. The kitchen had golds in the way of a brass drink cart and changing out the pendant light over the dining room table. Soon the apartment was in order and they were moving in.
Although they had a nook planned for baby’s bed, Victor placed it at the foot of the bed to Yuuri’s surprise. “Why there?”
“Because you and I know she’s going to be in our bed but...she needs a place nearby for when we become...more intimate.”
Yuuri gave him an amused look. “You can say sex,” he pointed out sardonically.
Victor dramatically covered Shizuka’s ears. “Not in front of the baby!”
Yuuri rolled his eyes as he lifted their daughter out of his arms. “And how do you propose we keep her from seeing us?”
“I thought...a blanket. Sort of like a fort.”
Laying Shizuka on the bed to stretch and wriggle, Yuuri chuckled but as he ran his fingers over the edge of the bed, he knew it was an appropriate transition for them. “I can live with this. Much better than before.”
“Are you...happy?” Victor chewed his lip uncertainly, a habit he picked up from Yuuri.
Yuuri nodded, his eyes resting on the small alcove that was originally designated for the crib. “Maybe...we can put the rocker and her toys in the nook. A place to read to her, rock her, and let her play freely.”
Victor brightened. “I think that’s an excellent plan.”
Mama settled baby into the crib before turning to Victor, wrapping his arms around him. “Thank you. I really want us to be here...I just didn’t know how it would unsettle me.”
“It’s understandable. You just had a baby. Do you feel...safe?”
Yuuri considered the question before nodding. “Georgi, Dmitry, and Ivan all live here and run to and from the rink when the weather permits without a problem. We have built in walking mates. And...it’s not like I’ll be there late at night without you and the baby. So we’ll probably...take a cab?”
“Not for long. I’ve ordered up a Subaru Crosstrek ,” Victor stated. “Since you insisted on helping with the household goods, I put the extra towards a car.”
“Are you sure that’s not too much?” Yuuri argued.
“Before you protest, it’s midrange in price and handles snow and ice well. It makes me feel like you are safer and that’s important.”
Yuuri sighed but nodded in acceptance. “Fine. I’ll quit fussing.”
Victor smiled at his mate’s agreement. Sometimes you have to appreciate the small wins.
Who wants to see scenes with Hashimoto in the between chapters? I've actually plotted them out and it was more substantial than I thought it would be. I have one chapter per week...4 mos/16 weeks.
And this is what I meant by "don't get too comfortable"...but it was a twisted kind of fun to watch you all squirm. My apologies for my dark sense of humor. I hope you enjoy these changes. In the end, the cottage just didn't suit our couple. I almost rewrote it but then I decided to let it ride and have them struggle through the choice. At least they didn't have deposits to lose!
Sometimes when we are most at ease, things start to unlock inside...
I have another chapter for you...10 glorious pages in type. I hope you enjoy it!
Victor spent the evening putting the kitchen in order and making dinner, leaving his mate to the bedroom. Clothes were tucked away into drawers or hung in the closet. The bedding was pulled askew in preparation for the nest, and the nesting materials were put through the wash, removing any lingering scents from the store. Shizuka played happily in her corner, two poodles checking on her regularly and often lying protectively just out of reach of little hands that would pull at fur. Yuuri cast a warm smile in their direction.
The beep from the dryer pulled his attention and he scooped up the baby, walking into the kitchen. A highchair sat at the table and Yuuri settled the baby into its confines before pulling out the laundry to tend to his nest. When he returned, he smiled at his mate sitting before her playing peek-a-boo and making her giggle. He knew his heart couldn’t feel more full than at this moment.
In the bedroom, he began building the walls to his nest, first laying out the cushions, then snaking the long fabric around it that held it all together. Once the foundation was built, he began searching the room for the finishing touches, things that held the scents of their family, things that Yuuri needed to keep close. The blanket they wrapped Shizuka in the day she was born, a handmade scarf from his mother quilted together in shades of blue silk, a ribbon his sister had bought him at a festival embroidered with poodles, a handkerchief that Vicchan sometimes wore as a puppy, a leather bracelet his father gave him when he was small but he’d since outgrown, the red cashmere scarf Victor had wrapped him in that night in Sochi, the rabbit Victor sent to him as a child freshly scented by his mate…
Studying the nest, he knew it was coming together but it was missing something. Going into the closet, he frowned as he studied the clothes hung up with care. He stroked his hand down the red and white sleeve of Victor’s Olympic jacket.
A hand snaked around his waist from behind and Yuuri gasped and all of the sudden everything fell away and Yuuri was in a darkened room. It was impossible to breathe. Dark hair fell over his shoulder and Yuuri looked back to catch a glimpse of blue eyes. Yuuri whined in fear, begging, bargaining. “Please let me go.”
“Yuuri!” The softly accented cut through the nightmare, but the memory held him. The name came to him from the distance. The voice familiar but different, not belonging to this time. The room struggled to change from a horribly dark empty room of his memories to the light-filled bedroom of the present.
The voice pulled to him, asking, not demanding, “Breathe with me Yuuri.”
Yuuri struggled to do what the voice suggested, the warehouse all too real, the smell of mold and mildew choking him as he drew in breath. The hard surfaces he was pushed down on, all too present, hands pressing him against a flat surface.
Oh, I’m supposed to breathe. Will breathing get me out of this nightmare?
Exhaling, the world around him dimmed for a moment.
He breathed in and light found its way to the edge of his vision.
“Come back to me, Yuuri.”
Slowly the scents of his nightmare faded until they were only small traces like burnt toast in a large house. Other aromas, welcoming, warming reached out to him. He could smell...a familiar scent, a comforting scent.
“Come back to your Vitya.”
The room flooded back into focus. The clothing hanging in front of him, the woodwork of the closet door, the warmth of the room, the wide bed with a nest in the process of being completed, all came rushing at him. The present washed away the last traces of the past’s hold on him for that moment.
Oh...I’m not...there. Yuuri’s breathing slowed and his eyes came back into focus. Where am I? Looking up, he could see the clothes hanging above him. Turning his eyes forward, he could see worried blue eyes...so different from the other man’s. Yuuri’s eyes widened in realization. “I saw him...that night!”
Victor frowned, reaching for him, pulling Yuuri out of the corner of the closet into his arms. Yuuri pulled at his shirt needing to be closer to his scent. “You’re safe now, my Yuuri. He can’t get to you.”
Yuuri breathed in his scent. The recovered memory had him shaken. He rested his head on Victor’s shoulder. “I thought...he always kept me turned away from him…” he gasped. “But I...looked back. At least once, I must have. I saw him. Blue eyes. Hair...dark...long...wavy. Like it came out of a ponytail. My age. There were things in the room. Not many, things he had discarded when he… Expensive things. Like a cashmere sweater. Designer jeans. He was wealthy. His voice...he saw me as nothing but he sounded...well educated.”
Victor listened as Yuuri ticked off the details, careful to wait until Yuuri had completed his thoughts before he spoke. “Like he’d been to private schools?”
Yuuri nodded. “Exactly.”
Victor settled Yuuri into his arms. He’d suspected as he learned more about that series of days and the haste the university showed in shuffling Yuuri out of the country that wealth and privilege were involved. Someone had paid, handsomely, to shut the university up. Running his hands through his mate’s hair, he made soothing sounds but felt troubled inside. “I know this is hard, but I want you to repeat what you said while I record it. Then we’ll have something to turn over to the lawyers. Okay?”
Yuuri nodded, his eyes wide as he went to stand up. Victor reached out and held his hand, studying him with pensive eyes. “Yuuri...I’m sorry I startled you. I should have said something before touching you.”
Yuuri drew a shaky breath and released it slowly. “It’ll be okay. Let’s just...get this over with.”
As had happened many times before, Yuuri astounded him with his bravery and strength, recounting the memory into the voice note, this time with even greater detail. Victor then made an appointment to see Dr. Abramovich. Yuuri would need the support through this recovered memory. Finally, he sent word to Yakov that they’d be late to practice.
“Do you think you can eat?” he asked gently.
Yuuri was curled up in his nest, Shizuka playing next to him. He was pale, eyes unseeing although he kept a hand on their daughter almost like an anchor. Finally, turning large brown eyes his direction, he nodded and sighed. “I need to. I’m not sure how much.”
He watched Yuuri pick at his plate but slowly begin to eat. Victor took care of Shizuka and himself, keeping a watchful eye on his mate. Reaching for the damp cloth, he wiped down their daughter and carried her into the living room where she played on the rug blowing bubbles at the dogs. He then came to his mate.
The younger man blinked and then looked at him, his eyes refocusing. “How is this going to change things? I can’t...un-remember. Does that put us in greater danger?”
Yuuri looked up, facing Victor, voicing the fear both of them held. “He has money. What if he tries to take her from us?”
Yuuri speaking his own silent fears aloud now solidified Victor’s resolve. “We’ll talk to the lawyers. It’s their job to handle it. No one is going to take her from us.”
Yuuri stared at him in surprise. Then he moved into Victor’s arms, the alpha’s solid strength supporting the omega when his own failed him. He took a deep breath then released the sob gnawing at his chest.
“I’ve got you,” murmured Victor, pressing kisses into his hair. “I’ve got you.”
Later that night, Yuuri sat in the middle of the nest. Victor came to him with the Olympic jacket. “I think you were wanting this,” he murmured. He draped it around Yuuri’s form and smiled at the beautiful omega. “May I take a picture of you...like this. Just for me.”
Yuuri reached up and pulled the jacket tighter around his shoulders and nodded. Yuuri, always the picture of strength and vulnerability, captivated Victor. How the omega balanced the two so well astounded the alpha. How did I become so blessed? A soft cooing from the crib drew his gaze and softened his smile further. Doubly blessed.
As he returned to his mate’s side, Yuuri reached up and cupped his cheek, seeking his kisses and as Victor’s hands slid down to Yuuri’s hips, he found his lap full of his omega. Pulling back, he murmured, “The baby.”
“She’s asleep,” Yuuri whispered.
“I...heard her,” he argued.
Yuuri sighed, climbing off of him and they crawled across the bed to look into the crib, their view blocked by a blanket draped over the side. Although small coos and sighs escaped her lips, she was indeed asleep. Yuuri’s expression was soft as he studied the sleeping form. “Mom said I would talk in my sleep and later, sing.”
“You still do,” Victor responded softly and was charmed by the bashful blush in Yuuri’s reaction. Satisfied that he wouldn’t scar his daughter for life, he crawled back up the bed leading Yuuri into his lap once more. “So...what do you need?”
Yuuri leaned in to kiss him, allowing his tongue to dip into his mouth and tease along the Russian’s white teeth. Pulling back, he murmured, “I need...to feel like I’m yours...to know I’m claimed. I want...you to wipe away the vestiges of those memories...if only for a little while.”
Victor nodded even as he leaned in to claim Yuuri’s lips once more, removing his lover’s shirt as he turned him to lie into the pillows and mattress. Yuuri laid in nothing more than his underwear cradled in the red and white of Victor’s jacket. Victor cleared his throat as he reached for his phone once more. “Just for me…” he murmured before he took the picture, Yuuri’s skin blushing, his knee sliding over the other leg, his hands toying with his hair, glasses off and brown eyes watching him. Like I’d share this with anyone.
Setting his phone aside, he leaned in and began to run kisses along Yuuri’s neck, the omega turning his head to give Victor better access, fingers sliding beneath his own shirt, pushing it up, hands exploring until Yuuri pushed it over his head and tucked it with expert ease into the nest with a smirk.
“How long are you keeping that?” Victor asked, noting several other items of laundry wound into the twists and turns of the fabric lining the walls of the nest.
“Until the nest is saturated with our scent,” Yuuri promised. “When I’m...calmer.”
Victor smiled indulgently. “So it’s...sort of a cheat.”
Yuuri nodded. “It pulls our scent in sooner...then I’ll pull it apart and rebuild it with just the nesting kits and treasures.” Looking around, he shrugged. “I need it to smell like us.”
“Then...let’s work on that,” Victor responded with a wicked gleam in his eyes but an edge of concern watched from behind making sure Yuuri was truly in this. Then his omega pulled him down, his wrists running down Victor’s naked back. Yuuri’s kisses were demanding, and Victor soon found himself drowning. Thumbs slipped along the waistband of his pants and soon Yuuri was pushing them down his hips. Victor pulled back to free himself of the pajamas and underwear, taking Yuuri’s along with him.
Naked, they stretched out next to each other, fingers exploring, wrists sliding over the other scenting the other. And then Yuuri’s teeth scraped against the gland on his neck causing the alpha to groan with need. “Make me yours, Vitya…”
“I thought you wanted to wait,” he whispered in reply.
Yuuri nodded in agreement. “I did...but now...I’m scared,” he whispered. “I don’t want him to take me away.”
Victor pulled back and studied the figure beneath him. “As much as I want to give you what you ask for, I don’t think you’re in the right state to make that decision.”
Yuuri whined in frustration, reaching up to him, pleading with his touch, with his eyes, with his words, “Please, Vitya...I already belong to you.”
Victor sighed heavily, taking both of those hands in his, kissing his fingers. “I will make love to you. I will even make you feel claimed. But I won’t bond with you until you feel settled and are sure of your decision.” He watched the omega’s pout, knowing how stubborn Yuuri could be even in his most emotional decisions. But he held firm.
And Yuuri surprised him. Drawing a deep breath, he nodded. “I...I feel...vulnerable,” he whispered. “I should feel safer knowing what he looks like...but now I feel like he’ll come after me.”
“I get that, Yuuri...but this just happened.” Victor stopped and realized something important. “You just remembered...just now. He doesn’t know that you know. As far as he’s concerned you left, returned to Japan and he hasn’t heard about you since. There’s no reason to worry about a fight until you are ready to take it to court.”
Yuuri took a deep breath and turned those words over on his tongue. “He doesn’t know that I know.”
“We’ll talk to the lawyers. You’ll talk to Dr. Abramovich. Then we’ll make the appropriate plan of attack with the guidance of our team. Until then, remember he doesn’t know that you know.” He watched Yuuri’s eye sharpen with the understanding, felt his biceps tighten around him, pulling Victor’s body into Yuuri’s embrace. Victor smiled, too often people forgot that Yuuri was the stronger of the two men. “How do you feel about that bond now?”
A soft whine came from Yuuri’s lips but he shook it away. “Part of me would be more settled but I know that is only temporary. I think...you’re right. I should wait. But...how can I feel more yours?”
Victor ran his hand through his hair as he considered their options. “How do you feel about...fluids…”
“What do you mean?” Yuuri asked, a frown furrowing his brow.
“I mean...when we scent each other with our wrists, it lasts until the next shower or two. Then it washes away. If we...our cum, it…” He faded off, thoroughly red himself as he fought for the words. “Well...it lasts. For a few weeks at times.”
Yuuri frowned at the thought before he asked, “Can we...wash it off?”
Victor blinked, “The scent?”
Yuuri shook his head. “No...the cum. I don’t want to…”
A soft laughter, held in to keep from waking the baby escaped from Victor. “Oh, no no...no. We wash up...but the scent holds...because it’s directly applied...well...to our scent glands.”
Yuuri mulled it over before finally saying, “Show me.”
Victor chuckled. “Maybe...on the other end of making love. I just...I wanted to see where you stood on the matter.”
Yuuri shrugged. “I may hate it...but I don’t know?”
Victor nodded even as he pulled Yuuri back into his arms, nuzzling their noses together before leaning in for a kiss. It stayed on the surface at first but then Yuuri licked into his lips and Victor opened to him allowing the omega to take control. He knew Yuuri, knew that control settled him. Rolling onto his back, he felt Yuuri straddle over him, his hands reaching down for Victor’s length, the smaller hands creating a different contact than his own. Victor could enclose his mate’s entire length with his long fingers but Yuuri would tease him with both hands, soft skin sliding along his length and when Yuuri used his own slick to lubricate his touch, Victor felt a growl vibrate through him. Yuuri reached for his hand pulling it down to enclose them both, his hand covering their shafts in tandem, Yuuri’s hips rolling into the touch. Victor found his timing with his partner, his eyes searching for those cinnamon brown eyes blown with desire for him. Shit, Yuuri… And then he felt himself tumbling over the edge releasing across his own stomach and chest.
Yuuri’s eyes rested on the mess in front of him unsure, chewing his lip. Victor’s occupied hand remained still between them for a moment. With his free hand, he ran his wrist along the fluid and then along Yuuri’s scent gland. He didn’t know what to expect but for Yuuri to tighten up and then release into his other hand, his eyes fluttering in orgasm almost like a biochemical response...that took him by surprise.
As Yuuri came to, became more aware, he repeated the process to Victor and the older man gasped as he felt the contact, felt the chemicals combine as his body received Yuuri’s pheromones, Yuuri’s scent and he felt...more connected than ever to his mate. As Yuuri pulled back, sitting on his lap, still straddle Victor’s legs, he studied Victor, eyes large and searching Victor’s face.
“I...didn’t know what to expect,” Victor murmured. “I...never did that with anyone.”
“I didn’t expect that you would...you said you never scented anyone...before me.”
Victor shook his head. “It always felt too...intimate. But with you, it feels natural.” He studied Yuuri for a moment trying to get a read on the omega before asking, “Are you okay?”
Yuuri nodded slowly. “It’s just...so much. Is that...a taste of what it will be like when we bond?”
Victor shrugged as much as his sated body allowed him, “Maybe...I haven’t…”
Yuuri shivered...his thoughts slipping back to his one experience. “I felt...all of him. So much...disdain. I was an object...to be used as he wanted. He...wanted to control me. I think...he didn’t plan to abandon me but realized I was too well known to hold onto. I fought him...continued to fight him...until it was over.”
Victor studied Yuuri before sitting up and pulling him into his arms. “You’re remembering more and more.”
Yuuri nodded even as he nuzzled into Victor. “But...I’m yours.”
Yuuri sat in Dr. Abramovich’s office, the words tumbling out in great detail of the memory. “So...the EMDR didn’t work…” Yuuri tugged at his hair in frustration just wanting all of it behind him, wanting to move forward.
“It did work,” the therapist assured him. “This is not a set back. Think of this as a rollercoaster. You will have times when information comes too fast, and too harsh. It’s how to use those uphill slow moments to prepare for those other moments that proves this is working. But sometimes we find bigger triggers. And...perhaps as you felt safer, your mind was able to release greater information to you.”
“I do feel safe with Vitya...although I’m afraid now...in a different way.” Arms wrapped around himself, hugging himself, blinking rapidly to hold back the tears and feeling the panic on the edge of his thoughts. “It’s silly...but maybe now that I know him, he might come after me, come after her.”
“Legal matters are frightening no matter how well we prepare for them,” Dr. Abramovich reassured him. “Go over the matter with your attorneys and we’ll handle the trauma here. I will make sure you can testify in court...and before the omega council. I’m on your side.”
Yuuri drew himself up and offered a small smile. “Thank you. I think...I’ve been gathering allies as I move forward.”
The doctor smiled at his patient. “What you may not realize is that your allies are gathering more allies. This will roll in like a storm. You can do this.” He leaned his large frame back in the ancient chair, crossing his legs. “Now, let’s go over this trigger. You said your mate touched you from behind without warning…”
The attorney Bogdan Lievich that worked directly with Yuuri listened to the recorded statement and then asked Yuuri a number of questions testing the consistency of his story. “I have a suggestion, something to think about. And we will only do this if needed. But we know the DNA evidence gathered from your rape and kidnapping did not hold to a chain of custody test. However, locked up inside your daughter is proof of the father. There is photographic evidence taken at the scene. I don’t think this case is dead and if we approach the Detroit PD, I think they will reopen it.”
“He’s got money. Or at least, I’m pretty sure he does,” Yuuri argued. “What if he uses that? What if he tries to take her away?”
Lievich laughed, his warmth putting Yuuri more at ease, and pointed out something Yuuri hadn’t realized. “Many defendants have money on their side, but so do you...and more importantly you have the press on your side and an arsenal of fans. Your support is overwhelming. But the end of the matter is settled that you have the hard cold facts on your side.”
Yuuri considered the attorney’s words and looked over at his mate who smiled encouragingly. “We...have money?”
Victor shrugged. “I don’t know our current net worth but yes. We do have money. And sponsors clamoring to support us through this. Two human rights groups want you to be the face of their causes...one specific to omegas.”
Yuuri pulled back a little, “But that means...I have to open up.”
Victor nodded. “You will have to let go of some of your privacy.”
He chewed his lip, this decision wasn’t his entirely. “And...Shizuka?”
Victor saw the horror in the brown eyes as they searched his, “We’ll protect her from it as much as possible but...she’ll know what happened to you as she grows up. That’s...already out there.”
Turning to the lawyer, he frowned. “I don’t know if it’s wise to put out there that I know what he looks like.”
“I agree...but we can still use this information,” Lievich acquiesced. “We have the advantage. Knowledge is advantage.”
Taking a deep breath, Yuuri nodded. “Then...let’s fight.”
The ice held all of Yuuri’s emotions as he skated through his program. Yuri on Ice was about his fall, how he felt alone, how he thought he was fighting alone. Then the realization that he didn’t have to face the world alone. He had friends, family, Vitya, and his daughter. He had purpose. He would win this battle and the next and the one after this. And he would use every weapon in his arsenal even if he had to bare his soul to the press.
Business travel...it's just a little trip. What could go wrong?
I meant to post this yesterday! Life happens and fall tends to make me all fuzzy in the head. Here it is, though.
The jogging stroller was just what Yuuri wanted, the large wheels made it stable for running. With the weather finally cooperating enough for a man from southern Japan to tolerate it, Yuuri and Victor packed up for the day. Tucking Shizuka into the seat, Yuuri settled her hot water bottle bunny next to her and then tucked the blanket around her. She snuggled into the furry plush of the pink bunny and cooed up to her mama. Now that they had a fair store of supplies at the rink, they could get by with their backpacks for the day. Taking off, they headed to the elevator and waited for the trip down meeting their rinkmates inside.
“Great timing, Vitya!” Ivan called out watching as Dmitry knelt down to tease Shizuka, the baby gurgling in response.
“I thought we could run together since the sidewalks are clear,” Yuuri murmured, his expression soft as his new friend teased his daughter.
The elevator door opened and Georgi joined them, his face blotchy from a fresh cry. He’d been by the previous evening to cry out his frustration about Anya. Victor’s jaw tightened as he listened to his friend’s explanation. After he left, he muttered, “She’s just stringing him along.”
Yuuri didn’t know anyone well enough to weigh in but it was clear Georgi was hurting. This morning showed further evidence. However, no one commented on it.
As they ran, each jogger took turns with the baby talking about how well the stroller rode. As Yuuri’s turn came back around, he knelt down to make sure she was still tucked in and warm while the others jogged in place. Satisfied, he stepped behind the stroller and nodded for them to continue. Three miles they continued like this until they arrived, Yuuri lifting Shizuka out of the stroller as they came inside. With the change in routine, their arrival time meant feeding time and he slipped away from the crowd to tend to his daughter.
When he returned, he found the hot water bottle bunny refreshed and when he went to thank his mate, Victor nodded towards Georgi. “Oh, thank you.”
The dramatic Russian (which felt weird thinking as much being mated to Vitya...but still, it was possible that Georgi was even more so) blushed at Yuuri’s response and murmured a “you’re welcome” before disappearing.
“You’re going to make them all fall for you,” Victor teased.
Yuuri’s eyes widened as his hands fluttered in protest. “I’m just me! I smell like you...shouldn’t that put them off?” Yuuri replied. He hated garnering unwanted attention...even if he counted the person as a friend.
Victor shrugged, a knowing smile on his lips, and let his eyes drift around the room. “I don’t mean that way, Yuuri. They all see you are beautiful, but the love they have for you, the love that will grow, is one of family. Georgi is the first to feel it. He’ll look after you and he’s an honorable man. I think he’s just real emotional. And he does seem to adore our solnyshko .”
Yuuri smiled and nodded in response. He couldn’t argue with that. Holding Shizuka cheered him as nothing else did last night. He finally agreed to go down and rest himself, Yuuri taking the baby and explaining it was time for her to go down for the night. She was becoming fussy and Yuuri disappeared into their bedroom to feed her while Victor saw their friend off. He heard Victor on his phone, likely talking to Ivan and Dmitry. They were next on Georgi duty. Yuuri smiled as he looked down at his daughter suckling, rocking in his chair. Soon his mate joined him, a tired smile on his lips. “About ready to sleep?”
The next morning didn’t seem to provide a cheerier perspective for Georgi. As the day progressed, he continued to dissolve into tears, often found near Yuuri and the baby. “Maybe once I have a family, things will settle down…”
“I don’t think that’s how it works, Georgi,” the Japanese omega murmured softly.
“Is it wrong to want love, to want a family?” he plied.
Yuuri shook his head. “Not wrong...but you can’t force those wants on another.” He’d caught Anya’s gaze more than once as they sat waiting their turn on the ice.
Mila plopped down next to the ice dancer and nodded his way. “Georgi looks good with a baby.”
She sniffed and shrugged. “Maybe so...but that’s...not for me.”
Mila’s blue eyes widened and turned back towards Yuuri. “Oh, you don’t want a family.”
Anya snorted and shook her head. “No...people stop looking at you once you have a kid. It’s all about the kid.”
Mila couldn’t help but disagree. Yuuri garnered a lot of looks. He was beautiful and kind. As she watched Yuuri handling Georgi with patience, she couldn’t help but think she wouldn’t mind having Yuuri as family.
Victor looked over the contracts presented by his manager. “This is a lot of travel, Daniil.”
“Initially. There are a number of sponsors wanting to show that you are still with them. And that they are still with you. It’s a good financial sum. And, as always, the Grand Prix is slotted by lottery, that’s out of our control.”
Victor sighed as he flipped through the papers. He hated the idea of being away from Yuuri. He’d been back to see Abramovich twice a week since the memories flooded back. They visit with their attorneys at least once a week. It was expensive and although Victor was well off, he knew all of this had a cost. The attorneys were gearing up for the suit against the university, they had hired local private investigators to look for other victims. He knew what they would receive from the fight would barely cover attorney fees if that...but Yuuri needed this. He thought of all the brave girls standing up to United States’ Gymnastics. They knew it was about fighting a monster, and worse, an organization that let him...helped him, hurt them.
“I’ll need to make some arrangements. Can you book this initial run in one trip? I’d like to spend as little time away from my mate as possible.”
“I’ll see to it. And...you’ll just be in Moscow. You could travel as a family.” He thinned his lips as he considered what laid before them on the table. “Some...would prefer that. Photos of the skate family. Insight into your lives.”
Victor shook his head. “Yuuri prefers to travel as little as possible until she reaches a year. And...I’m not sure how much Yuuri wants the press in our lives. It’s one thing to talk with me, but I want to respect his privacy.”
“Very well, I’ll make some calls and get this arranged.”
Victor studied the blond as he worked through the program. Agape suited him even if the hissing kitten fought against it. Victor knew the big heart that beat in that tiny chest. As the teen came to the barrier, Victor handed him his water bottle.
“What’s up, Old Man?” he asked suspiciously after taking a long drink.
“A favor,” he said quietly.
The boy narrowed his green eyes before shrugging. “What do you need?”
“I’ve got to be out of town for a few days. Moscow. Business with sponsors and a few interviews. I was hoping you would stay with Yuuri.”
Handing back the water bottle, blond assessed him thoughtfully. “Does Katsudon know?”
Victor shook his head. “Not yet. I want to tell him that you’re going to stay with him...to help him out with the baby.”
Yuri frowned and tilted his head before stating, “But you want me to stay with Katsudon and keep an eye on him.”
Victor nodded. “He’s been having nightmares and I’d just feel better if someone I trusted was there...looking after him...making sure he eats.”
“He’s not eating?” Those blond eyebrows furrowed.
Victor shook his head, raising his hands to calm the young teen’s nerves. “It’s not total avoidance, at least, not to that point. When he feels stressed, he doesn’t eat as he should. He’s...remembered some things. It has him shaken up.”
Yura hissed and frowned. Victor could tell he didn’t approve. “Then why are you going?”
Victor tried to control the strain he felt from showing in his voice, but he could hear it easily. “Attorneys cost money. I have a large net worth but most of that isn’t liquid. Yuuri as well.”
“I see…” He thinned his lips then nodded sharply. “Fine. I’ll keep Katsudon company. When do you need me?”
“In a couple of days.” Victor felt some of his worry slid from his shoulders. “I don’t have the itinerary just yet.”
“Let me know when you have the details.”
Over dinner, Victor broke the news to Yuuri who studied him thoughtfully. “I have Dmitry and Ivan upstairs and Georgi downstairs.”
“I’d feel better if Yura was here with you.” He tried to keep his voice light. “He can help with the baby.”
“I can take care of myself,” Yuuri argued, seeing right through him..
“I know, love,” then changing the tactic he started again, “but I think Yura would benefit from this as well. He adores Shizuka and dorm life...well, it’s lonely.”
Yuuri sniffed, his eyes resting on his mate suspiciously. “You’re a lousy liar, you know.”
Victor blushed. “It was only...half a lie,” he confessed. “With your nightmares...”
Yuuri shook his head. “He can’t do anything about the nightmares...but if it will make you feel better, he can stay and keep me company. How long?”
“Close to a week.” It seemed longer now that he said it out loud.
Yuuri frowned and sighed heavily. “We...haven’t been apart since you came to me. Not really.”
“I know...it’s hard for me as well.” Victor wanted to reach out to him, cancel the plans right away, but he knew that Yuuri was just as aware of their need for this as he was. “Can we do this?”
Yuuri nodded straightening up. “It’s the business. We have to have sponsors.”
Victor refused to let Yuuri see him off at the airport, taking a cab instead. He knew watching that pathetic figure would break his resolve. He left while Yuuri was at practice saying his goodbyes in the morning.
In Moscow, he texted his mate from the hotel.
Victor/ I’m here!
My Yuuri/ How was the flight?
Victor/ Uneventful. How is Yura settling in?
My Yuuri/ Cranky. He took over the kitchen and I’m sitting at the table watching him cook while Shizuka plays in the floor.
Victor/ He doesn’t get to cook at the dorms. He’s going to take full advantage.
My Yuuri/ He said I’m about to get used to good Russian food.
Victor smirked at the message glowing from his phone.
Victor/ I make you good Russian food all the time.
My Yuuri/ Not according to Yura.
Miles away in a bland hotel room Victor Nikiforov threw himself backwards onto the bed in mock distress.
My Yuuri/ ;)
The next few days were a blur of negotiations, photoshoots, and interviews. One of the magazines asked him to do an insight into his new life with his mate.
“I’ll need to run that by both my Yuuri and our attorneys,” Victor answered thoughtfully.
The journalist, an American woman Victor knew from previous interviews sat forward in her chair. “We’ll come to you. Perhaps do a photoshoot at your new home?”
Victor laughed wryly as he thought about the homey space, so different from his previous condo. “Well, it’s not been professionally decorated if that’s what you’re hoping for. It’s just...us.”
He watched as her eyes lit up, evidently she was tired of the show rooms and fake living spaces that most professional athletes kept for magazine covers only, while they actually used those spaces as storage and lived in comfortable, warm rooms that the fans never saw. “ That’s what we’re hoping for. The look at the real Victor Nikiforov. We’ve…” she blushed, “the fans, even the journalists have noticed the changes in you since you’ve chosen your mate and it’s more...genuine. The public likes what it sees and trust me, we want to see more.”
I’ve fooled no one over the years, he thought even as he found his smile. “Yuuri has brought such life, such love into my world. I didn’t realize the lack of substance until I held him.”
She smiled back at him, her expression holding no artifice. “Let us show that to the world. Talk to your mate but this is what we want to explore.” She played with the words in her head for a moment, the smiled directly at him, moving her hands as if revealing a title for a documentary, “ The Life and Love of Victor Nikiforov .”
As Victor looked over his itinerary in his hotel, he knew he had a few more days before he could rejoin his mate. Pulling out his phone, he frowned realizing it was still on silent from the interview. A flood of messages greeted him.
My Yuuri/ Shizuka isn’t feeling well.
My Yuuri/ I called mom, she said it could be teething.
My Yuuri/ She’s sneezing and sniffling. I don’t think it’s teething.
Angry Kitten/ Katusdon is freaking out. The kid has a little cold. We’re going to the doctor in the morning.
He dialed his mate and the phone was answered immediately. “My Yuuri, how is Flip doing?”
He heard Yuuri huff at the nickname. “I gave her the medicine Dr. Ito recommended over the phone. He said it is probably just a cold. Change in environment might be pulling my immunity down and affecting hers.”
Victor smiled. Of course Yuuri called the doctor back home in Japan. They had a pediatrician in Russia but Yuuri liked the Itos much better, planning to fly back for his own wellness check before his next heat. However, Flip needed to see someone more often and the team physician found them a qualified professional near the rink.
Victor spoke slowly into the phone, “Go to Dr. Romanova in the morning to get her checked out and to give you some peace of mind.”
“I will...that’s what I was planning.” Yuuri’s voice sounded a little unsure. “Yura wanted to go with me.”
Victor chuckled. The blond teen took his job seriously. “It will be okay. Babies get colds all the time.”
Yuuri drew in a shaky breath and offered a weak, “I know.”
“Now, don’t neglect your own rest. You don’t need to get sick as well.”
Victor’s heart broke with how little that okay sounded. Not dozens of miles away, but millions. He reached out across the distance, “I love you, my Yuuri.”
“I love you, too.” Yuuri answered back right away, the voice stronger, fuller.
As the call disconnected, Victor laid back and frowned at the ceiling. Of course his little angel would get sick while he was away. He texted Chris.
Chris/ Gabriel has had three or four colds this winter. Lawrie handled the last ones like a pro but the first one, he drove the pediatrician and his mother nuts.
Victor/ But I’m in Moscow.
Chris/ Shizuka would be sick whether you’re in Moscow or St. Petes. Just take care of business so you can get home sooner. Maybe you can move up your flight a little.
Victor considered his friend’s words and looked back over his itinerary. Seeing some gaps in time, he sent an email to his manager to see if they can get those closed up and help him to get home sooner.
Shizuko fights her cold with Yuuri's love and how others love Yuuri in return.
So this chapter was originally two or three chapters before this but I realized it needed more in between. So I wrote backwards to where I met the rest. I hope you enjoy this bit of love and kindness.
And don't forget to be kind to yourself along the way. So many times we get busy taking care of others and forget to take care of ourselves.
All of the thanks and appreciation to BluSkates for her lovely edits for this chapter. I do have a soft spot for this chapter. I don't know why in particular, but it is one of my favorites.
Yuuri held Shizuko in his arms as he rocked in the familiar chair, the chair where his mother held him when he cried, comforting him and drying his tears. Victor was away for a publicity run, press conferences and ads, and Yura stayed in the guest room in case Yuuri needed help. For now, the youth was at the rink. Yuuri stayed home with his daughter, her body warm with fever, her nose running, forcing her to breath through her mouth now chapped from the ordeal. He’d called his mother no less than five times and now had a humidifier releasing Vicks vapor into the room. His own nose stung even as he sniffed back.
A small sneeze broke the silence and Makka came over to sniff and make sure they were both okay. Vicchan lifted his paw to Yuuri’s knee and looked on with concern. The blond human pup had taken them out which told them something was off about their younger master.
The phone rang and Yuuri answered. “Vitya?”
Victor’s voice sounded tinny from the distance, “My Yuuri...how is she?”
“She’ll start feeling better then her medicine wears off.” He loathed to sound like the nagging wife, but... “Will you be home soon, Vitya?”
Victor’s voice rang through with good news. “I catch my plane this afternoon. I’ll be home before night. Is Yura helping?”
“Yes...but he’s at practice right now. It’s just me and the dogs.” He looked down at his daughter, struggling through her first cold. “What if I mess up?”
“You’re a wonderful mother, Yuuri. Don’t doubt yourself. It’s just a cold. She’ll be fine.”
“I-I shouldn’t have her at the rink all day. It’s cold…” His voice started to quaver, the illogic of his statement meant nothing in the face of his insecurities.
“Yuuri…” Victor began.
“No, Victor!” His name sounded harsh on Yuuri’s tongue and Victor waited. In his panic and anxiety, he was building up walls against the logic and reason his mate would offer. “This isn’t fair for her. I should...I should retire.”
“Yuuri...if anyone should retire, it should be me,” Victor argued softly.
Yuuri felt the first tear fall, “N-no! Y-you can still win.”
“Yuuri, my time is passing. Others will surpass me. You. Yura. Lord forbid, even JJ, although I’d prefer Georgi or Chris. I need you to keep fighting. I only skate now...for you.”
The crying hadn’t become the torrent of sobs, and had quieted with Victor’s words. “Vitya…”
“My Yuuri...you are the only reason I agreed to this madness. I do everything for you. Haven’t you figured that out yet?”
Yuuri took a deep breath and released it. He felt calmer, looking at Shizuka who had managed to fall asleep through her cold. Then he keyed in on something Victor said. “Y-you don’t want this?”
“I will always want to skate," Victor assured his mate gently, "but you and I both know we have a short shelf life. I’m already nearing my expiration date. We can’t all be Carolina Kostner.” He heard Yuuri chuckle, knowing he had scored some points naming one of his mate’s favorite skaters. “My time is ending. But I will skate...for as long as possible...because it makes you happy.”
Yuuri breathed into the phone for a few moments before he spoke again. Clearer this time. “I think...I need to be more clear-headed.”
Victor sighed in relief down the other end. “I think so as well. Once she is better, I think you’ll see things differently. I’ll be home tonight.”
Victor came in to find Yura in the kitchen wrapping up piroshkis. Victor swore that was the only thing the kid knew how to cook. “I should show you how to make a proper borscht,” the older Russian suggested.
“Blech,” Yura responded with exaggerated gagging motions. Teenagers! But someone does need to take Yura hand and show him how to care for himself. Proper diet, budgeting, how to handle your income, get sponsors… Victor shook his head, one thing at a time.
Victor left the young teen to his own devices. He knew where to find Yuuri. Opening the door to his room, Victor’s eyes found his mate easily. Both were in bed, Yuuri’s body curled protectively around their daughter, his hand sliding over her dark head. Vicchan and Makkachin were keeping watch from their corner of the bed. Shedding his outer clothes, he started to climb into the nest only to receive a hiss from the omega. Startled, he stepped back, eyes wide.
“You have every germ possible! Shower!” Victor staggered back at the command from his omega. He nodded, still at a loss for words and stumbled into the bathroom. The shower was quick but thorough, Victor aching to return to his mate. Dressed in fresh pajamas, he returned to the nest and waited.
The omega studied him a moment before finally patting the bed. It was the night at the beach when Yuuri finally opened up at him all over again. Victor closed his eyes as he allowed the memory to wash over him. Taking a deep breath, he joined Yuuri in the nest. A welcome hand fluttered over him and he opened his eyes just in time to receive Yuuri’s arms around him pulling him into a kiss.
As they parted, Yuuri leaned his head into Victor’s. “I’ve missed you.”
“I hate being apart from you,” Victor replied.
“How is she?”
“The fever finally broke. She’s sleeping but not running a temp.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you both.” Victor answered softly.
Yuuri blushed. “I panicked. I worried I was going to mess up, that she would get worse and I wouldn’t know what to do. I called Mom at least six times. No, seven. Of course, she said she didn’t mind.”
Victor smiled at the thought of Hiroko knowing to keep the phone next to her on the wooden table as she made dinner. Chopping vegetables and comforting Yuuri was probably a skill the woman had honed her entire life. “I’m sure she didn’t. She probably felt the same way when you and Mari were sick.”
Yuuri sighed, his eyes resting on the sleeping form. Her breathing cleared, her body relaxed, he could believe she had never been sick. “About what I said…”
“Yes, Yuuri? Do you want me to retire? Shall we pack up and move back to Hasetsu?” His eyes were teasing although if Yuuri said the word, the offer would be genuine. He’d drop everything for his mate.
Yuuri blushed and laughed inwardly. “I think...a third move in as many months might border on the extreme. Maybe...we should try a bit longer.”
Victor smiled indulgently. “Anything...for you.” Victor’s phone buzzed from a text and he sighed, breaking free long enough to retrieve it from the nightstand. “Yura said if we through sucking face, he has dinner ready...and that you haven’t eaten enough in his opinion.”
“I was a little distracted in my defense,” Yuuri protested.
Still, Victor dragged him out of bed and sorted his hair out by hand. “Let’s eat. Yura slaved in the kitchen, which he probably also destroyed, to feed us!” They entered the living space hand in hand and received an eye roll from their teen guest. “What grand feast have you prepared for us, fair Yura?”
“Fucking asshole,” Yura responded. “You know what I made already. And for your information, I can cook something other than piroshkis. It’s just that Katsudon requested them.”
Victor turned to Yuuri who shrugged. “I did...Yura always talks about them and I told him he should make some so I know what he is talking about.”
They sat around the table, the meat buns before them, water in their glasses with an additional glass of milk set for one. “Milk, Yura?” Victor asked.
Yura’s face was an incredulous smirk as he turned to Victor, equally freaked out by the unwelcome liquid at the table. “Ask your mate...he’s practically demanded it every time we turn around.”
Yuuri blushed. “I crave it. Maybe...it’s the breastfeeding?”
Yura gagged in his chair but remained silent.
“Possibly. It can’t be the Vitamin D deficiency. Not yet, anyway,” Victor supplied. “Milk is good. We will all drink milk, da , Yura?”
The blond grumbled but stood up to get two more glasses and the milk from the refrigerator. “I can’t believe I’m drinking milk with my food like in grade school,” he mumbled. Still, he followed suit, meeting Yuuri’s eyes and seeing the pink on his cheeks.
Yuuri took a bite and his eyes widened in surprise. “This is wonderful, Yura!”
It was the teen’s turn to blush. “ Da , I know. My grampa taught me.”
“I’ll make katsudon for you after I gather the ingredients,” Yuuri promised. They ate talking about Victor’s trip, the photo shoots he was on and when the ads would launch. Yura bringing up his plans for the Grand Prix, slyly working in his hope that he would see some familiar faces, but careful not to mention one.
When finished Victor washed dishes even though Yuuri argued. “You’ve been traveling.”
“You’ve been taking care of a sick infant. I think I win this time.” Victor then proceeded to take care of the dishes while Yuuri joined Yura on the sofa. He listened as they talked quietly.
“Are you going to stay a few more nights?” Yuuri offered.
The blonde shrugged. “I probably should get back to the dorms. Unless Lilia decides to play mom again.”
Yuuri watched the boy’s face for betrayal of his emotions. With Yura it was never a straight line. “Does she do that...I mean, play mom?”
He grimaced. “I mean, I get it. She couldn’t have any kids. And it’s not weird or anything. But yeah, she plays mom. And she has strict Russian mom down to a tee.”
“Does that bother you?”
Yura shrugged. “I mean, I guess it’s nice she cares. It just makes me miss not having time with my own.” He sat quietly studying his fingers. Now that Victor was back, he felt safe asking his question. “Are you really...going to fight?”
Yuuri sighed, his eyes resting on the TV that played music from Spotify. “I am...but I’m scared. The crime happened in Michigan and the laws protect me. He...her, ah…”
“Fucking rapist sperm donor,” Yura supplied.
Yuuri blushed and nodded, sometimes it was a straight line with Yura. “Yeah, that...he can’t file for custody. I have enough evidence for a civil court. But part of me is still scared.”
“Then why are you doing it?”
Yuuri met his eyes and murmured, “I think it’s important for her to know that sometimes the monsters don’t win. We’re public figures, people will learn about what happened to me. She’ll learn about it eventually. Someday she’s going to ask me about him. I want to tell her that although he hurt me, I didn’t let him break me. I want to tell her that Papas, like Victor, protect the Mamas and babies, not hurt them. I want her to know that just because he provided the genetic material, she has a loving Papa...but honestly, I’m afraid of when she starts asking those questions. I think I’m more afraid of her questions than any I’ll face in court.”
The large green eyes narrowed, “How...does it start?”
“We’re suing the university for covering it up and for breaking the chain of evidence rather than turning it over to the court of law. And I’ve reached out via lawyers and investigators in The States. There have been others who were attacked by the same man, possibly. And they’ve found even more. We are making it a class action lawsuit.”
“Any ideas who it is?”
Yuuri shrugged, “Some rich, privileged alpha who thinks the law doesn’t apply to him. So probably someone in one of the more elite fraternities. It would explain the coverup. We have investigators digging up more evidence. But...it’s not just my fight at this point. It belongs to all of us.”
Yura’s lips turned up into the smile that he held for gold medals...and Otabek. “I’m glad...that you’re fighting. I know it hurts but she’ll be glad as well.”
Yuuri smiled softly. “I keep my focus on her...but you helped open my eyes.”
The boy dropped his eyes. “I probably...shouldn’t have said anything.”
Yuuri shook his head. “You have a right to your emotions. They come from an honest place.”
“Victor knows you still have nightmares.”
Yuuri nodded. “He’s more aware than I am at times. But you took good care of me. Tea is what my mother would have done.”
Yura smiled again, this one showed the little boy that still lived in the teen’s body. “My grampa always gave me tea.”
“Thank you, Yura, for looking out for me. It’s a lot, I know...I can be a bit of a basket case when I’m stressed.”
“I...understand that better. I used to think...that was weakness. But it’s not. Some of us...carry a bigger weight. I guess if the rest of us don’t help, it’s no wonder you falter. So...maybe I can help you carry the load when you need it.”
Yuuri reached over and squeezed his hand. “I’d like that.”
Shizuka wakes up and with her fever gone, she melts hearts.
If I was to pick one word to describe this chapter, it would be family. Enjoy...we're gearing up in the background for a trip to America.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Victor rolled over in bed, movement pulling him from his sleep. Blue eyes met his, a tiny mouth breaking into a smile as she bounced up and down in her diaper repeating “pa papa pa pa pa” and then reaching for him. Yuuri slept but his state of dress told Victor he had woken earlier for a feeding.
“Good morning, moya zaichik , did you sleep well?” She answered by crawling into his arms, his wrist automatically sliding down her back, scenting her to himself. She buried her nose into his neck and snuggled and Victor smiled softly thinking how Yuuri did the same. Always. From the beginning . As if he knew he already belonged with Victor. Shizuka was the same. His . She took to him from the first words he murmured to her, knowing his voice from the stories read to her in the womb, soft lullabies sung while he held onto her mother.
Yuuri’s eyes opened slightly, and Victor could see the exhaustion in his partner. “If you loved me, you’d change her diaper,” he muttered, an arm stretching up to cover his eyes from the slivers of light coming through the break in the curtains. It was early, still dark, but the street light sometimes disturbed Yuuri’s sleep and they kept heavy drapes closed at night.
Victor chuckled warmly holding his daughter close as he rolled to sit on the edge of the bed before rising to tend to her needs. She wasn’t fussing so he knew the diaper was keeping the moisture from her skin but he could smell the offending odor and knew Yuuri’s nose was more sensitive than his own.
Laying her on the changing table, he teased her with the wipe, murmuring “boo” as she giggled and reached up to him, attempting to roll over and crawl away once free of her diaper. Victor laughed as he turned her back over and deftly fastened the tabs. He remembered those early days when he thought he’d secured her diaper perfectly, only to pick her up and it fall right off of her. Yuuri would roll his eyes, taking her from him to redo the work.
Settling her back in bed next to her mother, he smiled down at Yuuri whose brown eyes were open and slowly taking in the world. Shizuka flipped over, tugging at the blanket seeking Yuuri’s nipple. Victor’s eyes took in their interaction, watching Yuuri’s sure but tired touches as he settled her into him. “How are you this morning?”
“Better,” Yuuri murmured. “It’s hard to be apart from you.”
Victor slid into the bed next to them, “I feel the same. Like a piece of me is missing.”
Yuuri nodded letting those words settle between them. Supporting his daughter and turning on his side, he stretched, his back arching beautifully. Victor’s fingers drifted down Yuuri’s arm, feather-light touches dancing across the surface. Yuuri sighed, his eyes blinking away the vestiges of sleep. They both had practice to attend and Yuuri felt the aches of the last few days of being holed up at home with his daughter, in his nest. Although a comfort, Yuuri needed to move.
“We should get ready for the day,” Yuuri suggested as she came off his nipple. Soon they were all in the shower handing the baby back and forth, her gurgles as Mama held her and Papa applied her gentle soaps. Out of the shower, wrapped in towels, Victor focused on applying lotion to their daughter’s skin while Yuuri set out her clothes, building layers where they could adjust to the temperature changes with ease. Victor laid her on the bed next to Yuuri’s pile and his eyes widened. Next to the pile of clothes laid a pair of booties crocheted into the shape of a pair of figure skates.
“Yuuri, are those skate booties?”
Yuuri blushed and nodded. “They were sent in some fan mail. I washed them in her soap and tried them on her. They have some give but they stay on as well as anything.” He quickly put her into her clothing, placing the small booties on her feet.
Victor’s eyes sparkled with joy as he lifted his daughter dressed in the booties. “Oh, we need to have a family picture.”
Yuuri chuckled and pointed out, “I’m sure Mila or Yura will oblige.”
Breakfast out of the way, dogs walked, they headed out the door. On their way to the elevator Yuuri sighed as he glanced back towards their apartment. “Speaking of Yura...he was a lot of help while he stayed here.”
Victor smiled thinking of the teen, the first of their friends to fall completely in love with Shizuka. “He’s a good boy...I knew you’d be well taken care of.”
“But you had him stay...for Shizuka,” Yuuri smirked.
Victor blushed and murmured, “Of course.” Yuuri rolled his eyes. They decided to drive that morning in case Shizuka relapsed. Settling her in the car seat, Victor negotiated out of the parking garage and into traffic.
Everyone at the rink was glad to see the official little sister of every single skater was alert and feeling better. It took the coaches a few minutes to get them back on task. Yakov huffed, “Let me hold her. Get on the ice.”
Victor grinned and soon skated backwards while waving towards his daughter. Yuuri rolled his eyes and shrugged towards Yakov. What could you do?
They moved through general practice, working on various elements. Yuuri knew before the first pucker when it was feeding time and was there to relieve Yakov whose gruff voice now comforted Shizuka. The old man frowned as he relinquished the baby. Yuuri didn’t quite hide the pleased sparkle in his eyes. He had found family in Russia.
In the privacy of the studio, he settled down to feed his daughter. His milk was what she craved but she wasn’t fully satisfied and soon Yuuri was breaking out the pouch of baby food. Her current favorite packet was apples, carrots, and parsnips. After getting her cleaned up, he let her stretch and move while he did the same , incorporating his yoga moves with baby care. She gurgled and reached for Yuuri’s face, repeating “ma ma mama ma”.
Free to roam on her tummy, Yuuri watched her as he continued his stretches, rolling on her tummy, rocking back and forth on her knees, and scooting towards the rattle/teething ring she preferred.
The door opened and Yuuri looked up to see his partner joining him. “You missed feeding her,” Yuuri teased and watched Victor’s pout form. “I promise I’ll save that part at lunch. How are you doing?”
“I’m fine...just finding my story.” Victor laid on the floor next to his daughter, wiggling his fingers at her, eliciting a high pitched squeal from the happy baby.
Yuuri watched the interaction between the two, “Are you sure you’ve found your story?”
“Maybe?” Victor sat up. Then he sighed and shrugged. “Maybe not. I just...I want to talk about us, about Shizushka.”
Yuuri smiled at the diminutive. Last week it was Shizulya. At least it’s not Flip , Yuuri thought with an eyeroll. “And have you settled on music?”
Victor shrugged. “It seems all I listen to these days are lullabies.”
You’re going to give Yakov an ulcer...another ulcer. Yuuri chuckled. “Well, that’s what you sing...but we listen to more. What...does our relationships mean to you...how does it change you?”
He considered for a moment. Going to Yuuri, loving him, supporting him had all been so natural that he never considered any other life. Before Yuuri’s life and love Victor had been empty, filling his life with stuff. This pushed him out of that. “I...stepped out of myself. For the longest time I was...untouchable. I kept everyone at arm’s length. But...I longed for someone to hold close. I longed for...a family.”
Yuuri softened his features, tilting his head to his mate. “Hard to have that if you don’t let anyone in.”
Victor nodded as he stared off in the distance. “I mean...I had friends. I had Yura. Yakov. Lilia. But...those who wanted to be with me intimately...they didn’t want me , they wanted the celebrity. So...I stopped letting them get close. They used me. I...used them.”
“And it was okay...because it was fair trade.” Yuuri watched him nod before continuing. “Maybe you gave more than you realized. A little humanity lost each time you hardened the crust around your heart.”
Victor thought of his mate’s words, “But you broke through…”
“I don’t know...how...I was falling apart myself,” Yuuri whispered.
“I knew...you.” Victor knew how impossible it sounded, falling in love with someone over a night...a dance, but that’s what happened. “Maybe it was your scent, but I knew you. And I wanted to know more.”
Yuuri reached for his phone and scrolled through music and hit play . “The music is out there. I think...for a time I was a wayfaring stranger. I think...I was lost for some time. I think you were too.”
Victor listened to the guitar, the beat both uplifting but holding an edge, like a declaration. “I felt at times like I was shouting and no one was hearing me. They heard the celebrity, they did not hear the man.”
“I heard you,” Yuuri whispered.
Victor hugged his knees and smiled towards his mate, remembering a letter, a scented bunny sent in reply. “I heard you, too.”
Yuuri scrolled down his songs and then hit play once more . “Sometimes we are screaming and no one hears us...like we’re in a wind tunnel.”
Victor listened as the words washed over him. He felt the darkness like shadows, the lost words, the lack of understanding, and he nodded. “I could work with this.”
“I know it’s a departure from where you were thinking and it’s nothing like what you’ve done before...but maybe you need to explore and close out the past.”
Victor nodded in agreement. “I think so as well.”
The music clicked over to another song and Yuuri stood to his feet with the grace of a dancer. Holding out to take his partner’s hand and pulling him to his feet, they moved across the room. They could see their daughter playing in the corner, babbling and rattling her toy.
“Dance with me,” Yuuri invited.
Victor was most at ease in those arms...as if he found his other half, his home. They danced, moving in one another’s space, making love with their movements. Victor’s body answered Yuuri’s questions and offered questions of its own.
As the song finished, they held onto each other breathing deeply. “You did hear me,” Victor whispered.
Yuuri looked at Victor’s hands, lacing their fingers together. “Every time you skated, you spoke to me.”
Victor leaned down, placing his forehead to Yuuri’s, “I’ve been shouting for so long.”
“I know.” Yuuri’s voice was almost breathless.
A sputter in the corner brought them out of themselves and Yuuri turned, his smile warm and loving, Victor following and scooping up their daughter pulling her into their circle of love. “And it took this little angel to truly pull us together.”
They each kissed her downy dark hair before Yuuri rested his head on Victor’s shoulder, the music fading into another song , Yuuri’s movements leading them into another dance, slow movements, the waltz of a family.
That evening, they had Yura over for dinner, Yuuri cooking for him. “I wanted to thank you for staying with me while Victor was gone.”
The blond huffed, focusing his attention on the baby teaching her a Russian nursery rhyme . Looking up, he nodded at the dish Yuuri was preparing. “Is that katsudon?”
Yuuri chuckled. “No...I haven’t earned katsudon. I will invite you when I do make it, however.”
The blond leaned against the counter. “What if I win?”
Yuuri chuckled at the childlike bargaining. “Yes, of course. If you win, I’ll make you katsudon.”
Yura hugged himself, his eyes looking inward. “Maybe I’ll sleep here tonight.”
“You can sleep here anytime, Yura,” the omega invited. Looking over at Victor, he nodded to the older man.
“Of course. Yuuri and I talked...and the guest room. You can stay there any time you want. I know the dorms...they aren’t the best place to grow up.”
Yura shrugged, “Mila…”
“Stays with her sister as often as she can.” Victor cut his argument off. Mila’s family was close and her sister had moved out of the dorms into her own flat. “The dorms are a place to lay your head down...but family, it’s important.”
Yura wrapped his arms around himself. “I only have Grampa, and he’s so far.”
Yuuri and Victor both came around the table, Yuuri pulling the younger man into his arms. It happened without conscious thought, the boy lifted his chin, breathing in the omega’s scent, breathing in the mother scent. Then the tears came, Victor’s solid hand running up and down his back. They didn’t want to steal away the boy’s independence but they had decided to offer him a place to call home, to offer him family.
Something new is on its way! For those who love "Lost and Found" and "Semicolon", I think you're going to love "Gravity". For those who've been with me awhile, you know it's hard for me to work solely on one project. I'm hoping to put this up on Friday but it should be up starting next week for sure.
"Gravity" starts with 19-year-old Yuuri who is facing an injury that is similar to one his idol had five years before. He is surprised when Victor reaches out to him out of the blue. This is the story of their developing friendship moving in a slow burn to lovers. Yuuri isn't certain of his sexuality in this one and may possibly be in the Ace spectrum (which includes Demi). Six chapters are written so far and it will be a lovely one to trade off with Truth.
As always, thanks for reading! And thank you, BluSkates, for all of the lovely edits.
The last bit of peace and a few anxious thoughts before Detroit...
Greetings, all! It's Sunday and I have another chapter for you. And a good thing it's break because I only have one more written. Don't worry, I have the next arc plotted out. All the love and thanks to BluSkates for her attention to this story.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Yuri didn’t stay with them every night but over the next week, the spare bedroom started to fill up with treasures. Then one day, Yura showed up with a kitten, gray and fluffy. “I named her Sophia. She was abandoned. I couldn’t just leave her.”
Victor took the kitten in his hands and studied her small form. “You aren’t allowed pets in the dorms unless you have a written prescription from a doctor.”
“I-I know...but you said this was my home, too.” Those green eyes could be fierce when it came to someone threatening him or those he cared about. Now they were beseeching and Victor knew he was soft to them. Looking up at his partner, he watched Yuuri set down the basket of laundry and walk over to the boy and slide an arm around his shoulders.
“Of course she can stay. We need to get her checked out by the vet and pick up what she needs, but she can stay.”
Yura hugged him and then Victor before taking the kitten to his room. Victor watched him depart before turning to Yuuri. “I thought I was going to be pushover parent.”
Yuuri rolled his eyes and sighed. “Saying yes does not make me a pushover. But really, what’s one more in this family and a baby kitten isn’t going to take up a lot of room?”
“But…” Victor started to argue, only to have his words die on his tongue as those brown eyes turned on him. It was a stern look, but one that melted quickly.
“ But Yura will have someone that loves him unconditionally. Like you and Makkachin...and me and Vicchan. And one day, we will find someone for Shizuka.”
Victor smiled softly. How could he argue against that? “I suppose you’re right.”
“Of course,” Yuuri murmured as he reached down to scoop up the basket of laundry and continue his task. “Yura, do you have laundry?”
“Left it at the dorms,” the teen called down the hall.
“Well, bring it next time.” Yuuri disappeared into the utility room and put the load on before rejoining Victor who was on the phone making an appointment for the kitten.
Covering the receiver, he asked Yuuri, “Do we want to get her spayed?”
“Eventually.” Yuuri called from the other room, “We don’t even know how old she is.”
“I’ll just have a checkup and shots then. We can take her back for the other.” He returned to the call and finished the arrangements before hanging up.
Yuuri reached for the keys and handed it to Victor. “I think you need to go with Yura to get supplies for the new kitten.”
Victor wrinkled his brow, “Supplies…”
“Food, kitty litter, a litter box...at the very least.”
“Oh…” He looked over at Yura who simply shrugged. Evidently the teen had given this as much thought as Victor had, which is why they both needed Yuuri.
The pet store was familiar territory to Victor but not necessarily the cat department. He trailed behind the teen watching Yura pick up things he needed and maybe a few he didn’t need. “You know, I have a cat at Grampa’s. Potya.”
“I remember,” Victor murmured picking up the feathered wand.
“Get that, too,” Yura demanded before continuing. “I’d just see about getting Potya but she keeps Grampa company.”
Soon they were checking out and Victor picked up where Yura left off. “She would be welcome as well but we can’t take in every stray off the street.”
“I know,” Yura replied although Victor could hear the hurt in his voice. He waited. Perhaps waiting is good for both Yu(u)ris. “Is that what I was that day?”
Victor climbed into the car as he mulled over those words. “No...I saw something in you, a fire...and you didn’t allow yourself to be dictated by what you lacked. I knew if someone would take the time to see you, that you’d do great things.”
Yura was quiet on the drive, staring out the window. But Victor knew he was thinking and left him to his thoughts.
When they arrived at home, they found Yuuri in the kitchen, baby on his hip, kitten once more being removed from the counter. “Boundaries are a hard lesson, little one,” Yuuri stated patiently. “But you will learn them.”
Yura snorted as he watched the battle of wills. “Potya never fully learned.”
“Potya?” Yuuri asked with interest.
The boy moved into the kitchen space, settling his bags on the table. “My other cat. She lives with Grampa.”
“Maybe next time we’re all in Moscow, you can introduce us,” Yuuri suggested as he watched the teen start setting up a feeding station for the kitten on a shelf and out of reach from the dogs. The little furball ate voraciously, growling as she went. Two poodles watched the new resident curiously. When she hopped down, Makkachin started to sniff her receiving a hiss in response. He backed up, narrowing his eyes in confusion. Vicchan bounced towards her and she swiped at him. As he took off with a bit of a cry, Yuuri laughed, scooping him up. “You need to give her time to come around. If you scare her, she’ll fight back.” Much like our Yura . The Japanese omega lifted his eyes to meet the boy’s.
“It will be okay, though, won’t it?” he asked shyly.
“Of course,” Yuuri reassured him. “And we’ve already enlisted one of the neighbor’s kids as a petsitter and dog walker. She takes Vicchan and Makkachin out when she gets home from school and if we happen to be late at the rink.”
“And when we’re both traveling or at competitions, she’ll take them out more often and make sure there is food,” Victor added.
This compromise seemed to settle Yura but the teen pointed out, “I need to meet her if she’s going to be taking care of Sophia.”
Both men chuckled and Victor reassured him it wouldn’t be a problem. “I’m sure Daria would like that as well,” Victor added.
Yura spent the evening playing with the kitten and laughing at Shizuka’s curious stares. She blue bubbles at the kitten and the fluffy creature now deflead and clean bobbed noses with her as she scooted on the floor. Makkachin would sometimes lift the kitten by her scruff when she got too close to the baby moving her across the room. It was a never-ending battle and the old dog would beg askance of her owner.
Victor and Yuuri would chuckle at their antics. The floor full of their babies warmed up the evening and the older man whose stares would stray to his mate, a slight line of worry in his expression, memories of the previous night’s nightmares making him worry about the coming night. Maybe the kitten is a good thing, distracting you from your worries. At least...for now.
Yuuri lifted his eyes and smiled adoringly towards Victor. “I love you,” he mouthed, cuddling into his space.
For now...we have peace.
Victor watched his mate study the calendar on his phone with a frown in the privacy of their room. Their first court date was approaching. The omega began fretting and tugging at his sleeve, unconsciously revealing his anxiety. “The lawyers are ready,” Victor reassured him.
Yuuri nodded, eyes not quite focusing on him, almost looking past him, out the window. “I haven’t been back since...Japan. What if…”
“Shhh,” Victor whispered pulling Yuuri into his arms. “I’ll be with you the entire time.”
“It will be hard on her,” Yuuri whispered resting in Victor’s embrace. “The travel...she’s so small.” Victor knew Yuuri was putting all of his anxieties out in the open. “What if...he sees her...tries to get her.”
“Then he’d be basically admitting to the rape,” Victor murmured.
“Yura’s going to stay here in our absence,” Yuuri continued. “Are you sure he can handle staying on his own?”
“The others said they’ll keep an eye on him. He already stays on his own at the dorms. This just has the added convenience of a stove...something he’s already proved competent in handling,” Victor continued.
Yuuri nodded into his shoulder clinging to him, letting Victor’s calm slide over his skin. Finally he murmured, “I’m scared.”
“What will help?”
Yuuri closed his eyes and considered the question but really there was only one answer. “For it to be over, behind us.”
“Let’s go to bed...let me scent you thoroughly.”
Yuuri looked up at him, his eyes earnest. “The other...what we did before. It’s faded.”
“Is that what you want?” the alpha asked just to be sure. Yuuri nodded slowly, his eyes closing and then he gasped as Victor lifted him up into his arms. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
“But...Yura...he’s down the hall.”
Victor smirked. So that’s why Yuuri always pushes him away when Yura visited. “He’s across the apartment and I happen to know he sleeps with earbuds.”
Yuuri frowned a moment. “I guess...it’s no worse than than the walls at the onsen.”
Victor snorted. “No, I think these walls are a little thicker than that.” Victor began teasing the sensitive skin beneath his ear. A soft giggle slipped from Yuuri’s lips as he ducked into Victor’s neck. The smaller body began relaxing under his touch. He lowered Yuuri back onto the mattress. Glancing at the foot of the bed, Victor smirked. Picking up the blanket to block off curious eyes from the crib, he returned to Yuuri’s side. “Now, you appear to be overdressed.”
Yuuri rolled his eyes at Victor’s overacting. “Whatever shall we do about that?” he cued in but the amused sarcasm wasn’t lost on Victor who snorted in response. “If the press gets a hold of a clip with your snort-laugh…”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
Yuuri’s eyes took on a dangerous glint as he rolled Victor over. “Don’t dare me...that will get us both in trouble.” And rather than talking about it, fingers began working Victor out of his clothes, kissing varying patches of bare skin. Yuuri never liked feeling vulnerable. Victor easily caved to that need in him now.
“I’m torn between wanting you in me and needing to feel you on me,” Yuuri confessed as he reached for Victor’s length, his fingers toying with the foreskin causing Victor’s eyes to roll back in pleasure.
“M-maybe we can do both?” he groaned.
Yuuri leaned forward to tease their lips together, his tongue tracing around the perimeter of that heart shaped smile, Victor’s breath stuttering at the touch. “Do you think we can?” he whispered.
Victor could only groan in response as Yuuri ducked down, crawling down his body to tease the head peeking out of the foreskin. He slid his tongue around the rim, and Victor’s fingers tangled into Yuuri’s hair, tightening at the unexpected stimulation. “Yuuuriiii,” he moaned.
A soft giggle vibrated against Victor’s head causing the alpha to tighten his hold once more then stroke through Yuuri’s hair. Yuuri’s tongue slid along the slit before he continued to kiss down the length. At the base, he teased that sensitive spot at the juncture of shaft and balls, lips and tongue taking turns with a sucking motion.
Lips fluttered back up the length, a tongue slipping out to trace up the vein as he went. Victor could already feel a pooling in his belly, could already feel himself coming undone. “Don’t fight it,” Yuuri whispered against his skin as fingers wrapped around the now spit-wet surface and slid up and down, the other hand reaching down to play with his balls.
“What did I do to deserve this?” Victor cried, feeling completely undeserving. Another giggle vibrated along his length and he felt himself tumble over, spilling across his belly. Yuuri stretched his neck into the milky fluid before rising up on his hands and knees and leaning back on his haunches.
Victor sat up reaching for Yuuri, drawing him into a kiss. He could taste the saltiness of his own flavor on Yuuri’s lips. His hand continued to massage the cum into the scent gland, tasting Yuuri’s moans in the kiss. “I’ve got you,” he whispered as he held Yuuri close.
“I need...you…” Yuuri stumbled through his words but then reached down to touch himself begging for release.
“Not just yet, love,” Victor grinned and was surprised when Yuuri allowed him to settle him back into the pillows. “Is this okay?”
Yuuri nodded, reaching for him, his hands shaky. Victor’s eyes widened at the realization that Yuuri had come close to orgasming untouched. Yuuri had all of the indications of his post-orgasm state. Curling in on himself, hugging himself, he looked beautiful laid out beneath Victor and the alpha could feel himself already starting harden again. He leaned forward over the omega and kissed him, deepening the kiss. Yuuri’s hands slid around him, pulling him closer. Victor could feel Yuuri rutting against him, seeking release. Rising up on his knees, Victor began to move down the body lost in pleasure.
Yuuri moaned out “yes” as Victor’s lips hesitantly latched onto his nipple. He could taste Yuuri’s milk and he felt the mixture of enjoyment at his partner’s obvious pleasure and discomfort at knowing this was where his daughter fed. He didn’t linger. Moving further down Yuuri’s body, he tongued into Yuuri’s belly button and watched in fascination as Yuuri arched into the touch supported by Victor’s hands on his waist, dancing into the touch.
Victor lowered his kiss further teasing along the smaller but still beautiful length, sucking and licking along the shaft. Yuuri groaned, his hands clenching into his pillow as he writhed into Victor’s mouth. “V-v-vitya…”
Victor smiled against the head before sucking him down, tasting the salty pre-cum, swallowing him easily. Yuuri’s breaths shallowed, as his fingers now stroked into Victor’s hair, and Victor knew he would need to pull up soon. He also knew he was about ready to meet Yuuri’s other need.
Pulling off of him, he looked up at Yuuri panting from beneath him. “Yuuri?” he whispered, never knowing this submission of his omega.
“N-now...please,” Yuuri begged, his legs opening for Victor, inviting him in. “N-n-need you.”
Victor stroked his length as he lined up, lifting those hips to take him in. Blue eyes watched for any indication of hesitance. However, Yuuri’s lips parted in ecstasy as Victor slowly pushed inside. Victor would submit to Yuuri any and every time if that was what he needed, but having Yuuri come apart beneath him was sublime.
As he bottomed out, Victor leaned forward to lick into a kiss. Yuuri rose up to meet him, his arms wrapping around his neck. “Love you,” he murmured into the kiss.
“Love you,” Yuuri responded with a moan, his hips starting to grind into Victor. “Need...more,” he demanded as he released the kiss, his head falling back. “Now!” Those eyes met his, the command was there. Submission my ass. Yuuri has me wrapped around his finger, has me on a string, at his beck and call. With a chuckle, Victor began to move within Yuuri, their bodies building into that rhythm that was so much a part of them, a song that belonged to just them as they danced the oldest dance.
Then Yuuri cried out, spilling into the space between him, giving Victor what he needed. Brown eyes held his as he reached down into the cum and then moved with determination to make sure Victor smelled as much like him as Yuuri smelled like Victor. He groaned his release at the contact, as they became more a part of each other, holding Yuuri close to him, feeling his lover’s heart beat through his chest.
They remained in one another’s embrace for some time, Yuuri clinging to him as much as he held onto Yuuri until the younger man began to grow restless, frowning almost pouting.
“I need a shower,” he demanded.
With a chuckle, Victor couldn’t say he was surprised. As much as they needed it, it was messy work. He reached for his lover, helping him out of bed and guiding the younger man on shaky legs towards the bathroom to shower with one another.
I hope you've discovered Gravity, my new story. And oh, have I plotted out others. I haven't decided what will go up as my third. (some are saying...you COULD finish Lifeline Olympics...and I can. It is on the list for consideration.) I have a short story (I'm thinking it can be done in 50k) plotted out. Then I have another that's rather dark. I'm not sure how long that one would take. Maybe 80k? And then there's the one that I plan to follow this one...it's an age reversal with Victor and Yuuri and an ABO fic. Baby omega Victor. I do love that one greatly. SO many stories, so little time. Well, at least you know there is plenty to write.
The couple heads to Detroit leaving Yura in charge of the house. Don't worry. He has Georgi, Ivan, and Dmitry nearby.
It's time for Detroit...but Yuuri gets to see Phichit! So there's at least that.
(sets out fuzzy blankets, chocolate, tea, tissue boxes, plushies, kittens, and puppies for this arc)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Grumpy Yuri met them at breakfast not quite meeting his hosts’ eyes. Victor was busy with preparing breakfast and Yuuri cleaning house and didn’t notice the discomfort at first. “Yura, are you sure you’re fine staying here on your own while we are gone?” Yuuri fussed.
“Yeah, I’ve got this,” he muttered.
“You could always call Mila if not,” Victor suggested.
Victor chuckled and rolled up another blini but as they sat down for breakfast, he noticed the lack of eye contact and the pink cheeks. Thinning his lips, he thought about his previous night with Yuuri. “You know, with omegas sometimes you have to figure out what settles them,” he began quietly, hearing the vacuum running in the next room. Yura would be going to practice soon and they would continue to prepare for their trip.
Green eyes went wide and hands to his ears. “I don’t need to hear anything else! I think I heard enough.”
Victor chuckled even as a slight blush rose up his cheeks. As Yura stomped out the house, Victor’s mate stopped and watched him go. “What’s wrong with Yura?”
“I think just a little embarrassed,” Victor suggested.
Yuuri turned back, his eyes wide with confusion but as Victor nodded towards the bedroom, Yuuri’s own face shot red. “Oh, my god…” He covered his face with a squeak. Peeking between his fingers, he whined, “He heard us?”
“I think that is a given. We need to get the boy some better earmuffs .”
Yuuri checked his bags a third time, annoyance in every motion. “Vitya, do you have Shizuka’s favorite bunny?”
“In the carry on, lyubimiy ,” Victor called back from the kitchen.
Yuuri emptied the bag with a frown finding the wrong bunny. “It’s the wrong one!” he called back out to his mate.
Victor heard the tone of Yuuri’s voice and walked into the room, unobserved. “Not at all. She’s favored Lena more of late,” Victor argued.
Yuuri grumbled under his breath, stuffing the little rabbit into the bag a bit harsh. “We’re going to get to Detroit and she’s going to pitch a fit because Victor can’t keep track of the bunnies. Like I don’t have enough to worry about.”
Coming up behind Yuuri, Victor went to embrace the other man, but thought better of it immediately. Instead he used his voice as a calming presence. “Darling…”
Yuuri closed his eyes realizing Victor had come into the room and knowing he heard pretty much everything. “She prefers Lulu,” Yuuri huffed.
Unseen still, Victor shrugged as if it was no big deal. “Why don’t we bring both?”
Yuuri rounded on him, narrowing his eyes. “There is a limit to how much we can bring.” He knew it wasn’t the rabbits, it wasn’t the bags. It was something much darker and scarier. But he could control this problem, and it was going to get all of his attention.
“Yuuuuuri,” Victor murmured, elongating the u in a way that made Yuuri shiver. “Take both bunnies. It’s not going to put us over the limit.”
Yuuri frowned, not happy but not wanting to argue further. Repacking the carry on, he included both bunnies. He was nervous traveling with his daughter back to Detroit. He knew he was masking his worries with petulance about packing. A familiar chime on his phone alerted him to Phichit’s text.
Phichit/ Ciao Ciao got us ice time at our old rink!
Yuuri/ Good. Victor has booked us a suite of rooms to share.
Phichit/ Ciao Ciao has the reservations. I think we’ll beat you there.
His delight at seeing his friend after so long a separation was spoiled with the purpose of this visit to the States. Yuuri’s fingers stilled over the letters closing his eyes. Finally, he sent the worry through.
Yuuri/ Be careful.
Yuuri watched three dots appear and disappear, knowing his friend was trying to write something to support him. Phichit lived in a bubble of constant happiness. The closest he had come to harm was when he learned of Yuuri’s attack.
Phichit/ I will. Nowhere on my own.
Taking a deep breath, he let it out. “It’s going to be okay.” Closing his eyes, his mind echoed, if only I believed it.
Yuuri held out until Victor had agreed to the business class flight and he was thankful to have a bassinet and baby kits to help with the journey. Air France had wonderful flight attendants and once they cleared the initial takeoff, Shizuka worked her magic charming all of those around her. She played peek-a-boo with a grandmother in the seat behind them. She high-fived the flight attendants. She cooed and sang with the three- and five-year-olds in the seats across the aisle.
Victor and Yuuri took turns with baby care and the alpha made sure to take the time to brush his wrist over Yuuri’s cheek as he passed, releasing his calming scent for the omega. As the lights dimmed for sleep, Yuuri and the baby curled into Victor’s protective embrace. Although Victor wore patches to cover his scent, he carried a silk scarf with his scent tucked into his sleeve, another just inside his shirt. Unbuttoning the top button, he allowed the scent to wash over his two great loves. Yuuri was quickly asleep. Shizuka fussed for a few moments before settling down next to her mother.
They finally landed in Detroit, met at the airport by one of the coaches that remained at the Detroit rink. Yuuri recognized the man who had worked with some very promising pairs skaters who were getting ready to move out of juniors. “Celestino and Phichit have already arrived. They are resting in their hotel, Katsuki,” he relayed.
“Thank you, Coach Greer,” Yuuri appreciated. “This is my mate Victor.”
The old coach chuckled. “There isn’t a skating veteran alive who doesn’t know who this man is. Pleasure to meet you. I focus on pairs and ice dancing but I have had the pleasure of working with Katsuki. However, Katsuki was seen helping a few of our ice dancers with their sequences on more than one occasion.”
Victor chuckled. “He does shine in his sequences.”
“How are you settling in St. Petersburg?” the coach asked as he guided the couple out to his car. Victor busied himself arranging Shizuka in the back seat while Yuuri focused on their host.
“It’s been a little bit of a process although I’m sure part of it is being a new mom.”
Greer nodded. “I’m sure. Now the time Celestino booked for you all is evening skate. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The gym is open for your use.”
Yuuri blinked. He hadn’t been prepared to make decisions this soon and was quickly becoming overwhelmed. “Oh, ummm...I think we were planning to use the hotel gym but the ice time sounds great. Thank you.”
“Allow me to open the door fo you,” Greer pressed, stepping a little closer to Yuuri and causing the omega to shrink back a little, his eyes flailing about for help.
Swallowing, he muttered, “Ummm,” stepping back to find a solid hand in the center of his back. He looked up thankfully at the sight of his mate.
“Yuuri has a thing about riding in the back with the baby,” Victor supplied smoothly. “Overprotective mom. I’m sure you understand.” The press smile the alpha offered worked its magic, the cold veneer letting the other man know to back off.
“Oh, of course.” He moved away and walked around to his own door while Victor held the back door open to Yuuri, mouthing thank you with his back turned to the coach.
Victor didn’t let his smile falter as he knelt inside the door and settled the seatbelt in Yuuri’s lap. The solid touch of his hand as he secured Yuuri in the car gave the anxious omega what he needed to settle back for the ride. Taking the front seat, he closed the door and nodded for them to proceed.
“We were quite surprised when Celestino returned to the rink without Yuuri. Imagine our greater surprise to learn he was pregnant. I thought it was just rink gossip.” Greer chatted amicably, unknowing the truth of the situation.
Victor froze his expression and glanced down to his phone.
Yuuri/ I’m sorry.
Yuuri/ I don’t know what Ciao Ciao was thinking sending him.
Putting his phone back down in his lap, he put on his most charming expression. “I tend to ignore rink gossip as well.”
Greer took his eyes from the road to flash a smile at Victor, “I’m sure you were also taken by surprise. Especially after learning the baby isn’t even yours.”
Victor’s smile faltered as his eyes went back to see Yuuri shrink back into the seat. “Whatever gave you the idea she’s not mine?” Victor stated coldly. “I assure you, she has every claim on my heart.”
“I didn’t mean to imply…” the older coach started to backpaddle.
Victor sighed, leveling his gaze at the coach. “Perhaps not, but both my mate and I are quite tired and perhaps a little on edge. We appreciate the ride to the hotel but perhaps for the trip back, we’d take an uber. I’d hate to inconvenience you further.”
Greer squirmed in his seat, gripping the steering wheel. “Oh, it’s no trouble. I was hoping to get a chance to visit with Yuuri.” He seemed to want...to need to keep Yuuri close.
“And now you have,” Victor stated, driving his point home. The car pulled smoothly into the porte-cochère and they were soon greeted by the bellman who helped to unload their bags. Greer jumping out of the car in an attempt to help, but only ending up in the way.
Yuuri offered a nervous “thank you” to Coach Greer. Victor felt those words grate at his nerves but held his tongue.
Greer fluttered around as the luggage was loaded onto pallets. The bellhops stood waiting, but Greer didn’t seem ready to leave. “Perhaps I’ll see you at the Detroit Skate Club,” he offered.
“Ummm, perhaps?” His eyes went to Victor and his mate placed a protective hand on his back, the baby carrier in his other hand. “Okay, ummm, bye.”
Inside the hotel, Yuuri opened his mouth to talk only to be hushed by a single finger in front of Victor’s lips. He guided Yuuri up to the front desk where they greeted the guest services associate. Here, Victor used his charm for good and she assured him their room was in the corner and the other two members of their party had arrived earlier and were already in the adjoining room.
Finally upstairs, the bellman unloaded their bags and Victor tipped generously. The bellman, very appreciative, thanked them profusely before leaving. Yuuri raised a curious eye.
“Tip well those who make the least and they will tell the others. You get the best service along the way.”
Yuuri smirked at the bizarre philanthropy, “Vitya…”
Victor would hear no argument against this, “This is our home for the next week.”
Yuuri turned around, his arms spread wide. “It’s...so much!”
“It was a phone call to a sponsor. I have to leave a review about our stay and endorse the chain.” Victor smiled like a small child expecting a gold star for effort and execution.
Yuuri turned wide brown eyes in his direction. “And the cost, right?”
“The price is my endorsement...and it’s available for our next trip to Detroit should we desire to stay again.”
Yuuri could find nothing more to argue against, his frugality was satisfied, even if he had a hard time believing their luck. “Oh…”
A knock from the adjoining door brought Yuuri’s attention and he went to open it, excitedly hugging Phichit. “I missed you, Roomie,” Phichit squealed. A tired Celestino peered over his shoulder.
Yuuri’s eyes focused on his coach. “How could you send Greer to get me?” he asked accusingly. He hadn’t wanted his first words facing his coach to be those of anger but had to understand what the man was thinking.
The coach frowned in confusion. “No...One of the ice dancers, Cassandra, wanted to pick you up.” He rubbed the back of his head, trying to pull his thoughts into order. “She was so happy you were back and hoped to pick your brain about her step sequence. I don’t…”
Yuuri’s groan interrupted the coach. “He’s Cass’s coach. She must have told him what she was doing and he bullied her into letting him do it.” Turning to Victor, he explained, “I helped some of the juniors and Cass just moved up. I usually avoided Greer.”
“We all did,” Phichit pointed out. Yuuri turned to see the grimace on his friend’s face. With Phichit’s stamp of disapproval Yuuri felt justified in his discomfort of the man.
He turned back to Victor, “He’s...creepy,” Yuuri muttered, running his hands up his arms to soothe the goosebumps.
The coach nodded, giving Victor apologetic eyes. “I should have arranged the Uber instead. He’s...another reason I moved my skaters.”
“Did he…” Victor began, moving closer to Yuuri. He felt his emotions jump with the thought of Yuuri being exposed to another predator.
Celestino quickly shook his head. “No one’s ever come to me with anything other than a general sense of being creeped out by him, little things like standing too close, or trying to talk young. Nothing I could put my finger on. But he did make a number of skaters uncomfortable.” He stopped, leveling his dark eyes on Yuuri, but still addressing Victor, “I thought...when Yuuri first disappeared…”
Yuuri groaned in irritation. “It wasn’t Greer. He’s creepy but he’s never...pushed.”
“You’ve always played clueless to his advances,” Phichit pointed out. Then he shrugged and admitted, “Of course, you never noticed when guys were checking you out...girls too for that matter.”
Yuuri sighed, closing his eyes as if he was seeking all of his patience. “It wasn’t Greer. I avoided him on purpose and being clueless helps deflect a lot of unwanted attention.” He took a deep breath and slowly released it. “I...I remember what he looks like. He was...younger, my age, blue eyes, dark wavy hair he wore in a pony tale or a bun. H-he seemed wealthy.”
Both Celestino and Phichit stared at him with wide eyes. “You saw him?” the coach choked out.
Yuuri nodded slowly. “I...didn’t realize it until later, until I had another scare. Oddly, my psychiatrist said it was because I feel safer. As if my brain was releasing information when I was in a place where I could handle it.”
“Well, this changes things,” Celestino stated and the others could only nod in agreement.
What's going through your minds?
Witness prep, a little practice, and time in court.
Greetings, folks. If you didn't catch the baby Victor fic I started up yesterday, check my posts. Sirin's Child. I have a fourth story going up Wednesday. I'll try for weekly posts on all unless I get behind on one of them.
Now, on with the Truth!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The buzzing of Yuuri’s phone drew his attention down, frowning as he saw the message from the young skater. He hated that his world collided so closely with the blonde’s and he couldn’t protect him from the darkness. Then again, he wasn’t sure he’d have found the courage to fight without him.
Yura/ Is everything okay?
Yuuri/ We are headed to the attorney’s office now. Witness prep. Don’t worry.
Really, I worry enough for both of us. As if on cue, he felt Victor’s firm hand on the small of his back. Yuuri leaned into the touch, his eyes going to the stroller to watch his daughter’s kicking legs and hear her gurgles. At least someone is happily oblivious. They entered the building, Yuuri checking his phone to recall the office number. The modern structure was full of suits as attorneys and other businessmen rushed too and from appointments and court proceedings. Yuuri checked his appearance, tugging at the sleeve. He had chosen what he would wear in court so he could settle into the correct mental state.
The elevator opened and Victor guided him, his hand grounding him as Yuuri pushed the stroller. When they stopped at the receptionist, Shizuka giggled and cooed working her magic ensuring they were received with coos and aaaws. They were placed in a small meeting room, a table surrounded with half a dozen chairs. Soon, their attorneys joined them. Victor smiled as Liam knelt down to tease Shizuka and she gurgled her approval.
Liam was the second youngest attorney and he had three kids seven and under. He was quick to say he doesn’t know how his mate handled them but they both love the noise and energy kids bring into a place. “She is growing,” he commented warmly.
“Too fast,” Yuuri agreed. He then turned to greet the other attorneys, half bowing and half shaking their hands. “Alec, Bogdan.” Taking his seat, he watched Victor go through the same greetings as he reached down to pull his daughter into his lap.
Liam studied Yuuri with a frown before asking, “Have you encountered any difficulties since coming to Detroit?”
Yuuri laughed harshly. “Not related to the case. A coach from my old rink was a bit of an ass.”
“Ah,” Liam answered but made note of it. “Detroit Metro PD has told us they will have a presence in court. I believe they would like an interview with you while you’re in town.”
Yuuri exchanged glances with Victor in surprise. “I thought...the case was dead.”
“If it was just your case, then that might be true. However, we’ve linked several together with the same MO,” Bogdan stepped in. “They want to follow up on them and with the connections, they could build a circumstantial case at the very least.”
Yuuri’s lips parted as he took in this information. “We could...catch them and stop them.”
Alec leaned forward and nodded. “And we still have private investigators on this. Now, for our case. We’re asking for a charge of gross negligence with the mishandling of evidence. We are going for the stronger charge rather than merely negligence because this happened repeatedly. However, if we can prove intent, then we have criminal misconduct and someone will go to jail.”
Yuuri’s eyes widened reaching a free hand over to grab Victor’s while his other rested securely around his daughter.. “How many do we have testifying?”
Alec, took a breath worried he might upset their client with the news. “I have thirty six complainants.”
“So many,” Yuuri breathed. He looked over at Victor who held his gaze.
Alec started again, “And twelve of these have the same modus operandi as yours, Mr. Katsuki.”
“Same DNA?” Yuuri asked, his eyes meeting Alec’s eyes steadily.
Yuuri watched as Bogdan and the others exchanged glances before the older attorney responded. “No, it appears there is a mix of DNAs. We are thinking there might be a ring involved and have alerted the police.”
Alec nodded and reiterated, “This is not a criminal case but a civil suit. Sometimes it’s easier to prove things in a civil court than in a criminal court. We can’t bring your perpetrators to justice, but we can bring to justice the ones who stood in away of that investigation either through negligence or intent.”
Yuuri nodded, he’d heard much of this before and knew they were repeating it for the coming court days. “What can I expect their lawyers to pull on me?”
“They are going to make it look like you made these decisions. We have to show that they did not use due care. For each case they’ve breached due care, we can gain an award of damages.”
Yuuri nods. “Then let’s do this.” He handed Shizuka over to his mate. “I need to sit on that stand alone. So I want you to wait for me outside. Okay?” He watched Victor hesitantly nod. This was Yuuri’s fight and they both recognized it.
That evening, Yuuri and Victor joined Celestino and Phichit at their old rink. Yuuri walked in, running his fingers along the rail. “I spent a lot of evenings here.”
“Did you typically practice in the evening?”
Yuuri snorted and shook his head. “I typically snuck in after hours.” He then sobered. “If I hadn’t...maybe he wouldn’t have…”
Victor settled Yuuri with a touch stating firmly, “Don’t take his blame on yourself. You had every right to jog that path and skate when you needed to. The university created a false sense of safety on their campus.”
Yuuri turned, nuzzling into Victor’s space and the alpha reached up to unzip his jacket so Yuuri could draw close and breathe in his scent. When he pulled back, he shivered.
“Cold?” Victor chuckled.
Squeezing his arms he laughed. “It’s silly. It just...felt like someone was watching me.”
Victor leaned in and pressed his lips against Yuuri’s forehead. “Maybe not so silly. There are probably workers still here.”
Yuuri nodded accepting that explanation. “Let’s go change, I want to skate.”
Twenty minutes later, Celestino was conducting practice for the three skaters in his charge. “From the top, Katsuki.” He happily donned the baby pack, letting Shizuka kick and squeal every time Papa, Mama, or Uncle Phichit skated by. He chuckled when Victor made a silly face towards his daughter. Yuuri had completely undone his facade, and Victor was ridiculous when it came to his daughter or his mate. Celestino would be hard pressed to say he was surprised.
A rattle from the catwalk drew the coach’s eyes and he squinted up into the shadows. Detroit Skate Club’s official rink was unique in that it had overhead walkways for occasional non-skating events supporting various lighting and sound apparati. Skaters were told in no small terms they were to never roam around up there and coaches were too smart to go. “There isn’t supposed to be anyone here,” he muttered but as Shizuka started to fuss, he refocused on her, ignoring the uneasiness. I’m on edge. It’s just because of the reason they we’re here , he decided. But in the back of his mind he kept thinking, they never found him and now Yuuri can identify him...what if...
As the three hour time slot came to a close, Celestino blew his whistle and smirked as Yuuri pushed in another quad-crash. The Italian coach winced as Yuuri came down on his hip, then rolled to his side. Not the best landing to his quad-sal, but one that Yuuri knew well. Some things never change. As they skated to the exit, Celestino waited for the others to put on their guards before handing the baby over. He watched the parents fuss over her, baby pulling hungrily at Yuuri’s shirt as he prepared to exit.
“There’s no hurry if you need to take care of her in the locker rooms,” the coach suggested. They had agreed to come and go as a group and he noted Yuuri’s sigh of relief. The young mother look like he was as eager to feed his daughter as Shizuka was to eat. He’s going to have fun weaning her off the breast.
Phichit watched as the other two headed towards the locker room waiting until they were gone. Then he turned his black eyes to Celestino with a frown, murmuring, “Did you see Greer in the catwalk?”
Celestino furrowed his brow. Why would a coach be up in the catwalk? None of us use that. “I thought I had heard someone. Why do you think it was Greer?”
Phichit shrugged as if the answer were all to obvious, “Because he has a specific gate due to his knee injury. Not too noticeable when you see it, but enough to throw his rhythm off, and obvious to the ear, especially on that rusting nightmare.”
Phichit, always the one to notice the details. “I’ll confront him tomorrow.”
“Can’t,” Phichit sighed. “We’re in court all morning.”
Celestino ran his hands through his hair in frustration as Phichit headed towards the lockers. He knew he didn’t have to ask the young man to keep from mentioning it to the others. However that didn’t ease his own worries. He sat on the bleachers to switch his skates out before gathering their gear. He didn’t know how long it would take Yuuri to feed and change his daughter. They had taken a break during practice to change her once but Yuuri was very attentive to her skin care and noted that he didn’t want to leave her wet long in a cold environment.
He closed his eyes, remembering the fight they had before he took Yuuri home all those months ago. Yuuri, hurt, confused, and terrified, was so ready to give her up then. Would you have regretted it if you aborted her? He knew he regretted his decisions but part of him wondered if it was because the illegal methods led to him being unable to have others. He rushed, dangerous abortion had almost killed him. The surgery to remove the infected tissue after the fact saved his life, but made it impossible for him to ever be a mother. I know you love her now but there is a ghost in your eyes sometimes when you look at her. You wonder if there is a little bit of him in her. I’ve seen you cover it up in a hurry but it’s still there. But you do love her.
He looked up and smiled as Victor came out soon followed by Phichit and Yuuri, the former fussing over the baby now in Uncle Phichit’s arms. Then the coach warmed up when the baby reached for him when she saw him. It was the hair. He knew that. She was fascinated by it. He’d take whatever advantage he had over the vivacious Thai skater.
Yuuri curled up into his mate’s arms, having trouble shaking off the shivering. “I think it’s my anxiety,” he admits. “Sometimes it makes me cold.”
“Let me hold you,” Victor offered, pulling Yuuri into his embrace. “Do you want to talk?”
Yuuri nodded. “I miss home...I feel safe at home. Here...I didn’t realize how much I would be looking over my shoulder. I keep looking, thinking I might see him. I want to and I don’t want to...part of me wants to confront him. Part of me really doesn’t want him to be near me,” he paused, coming to terms with what truly terrified him, “near her.”
“I’m going to stay near you during this time in Detroit,” Victor reassured him, pressing a kiss into his hairline. “I feel unsettled when you are out of reach in strange places and knowing this place held harm, I can’t not be diligent.”
Yuuri sighed, snuggled in closer as Victor released a calming pheromone. Maybe his omega could at least sleep.
Yuuri waited in a holding room set aside for witnesses. He was welcome in court during the proceedings but he decided he didn’t want to watch, worried it would set off his anxiety. Victor sat with him, Shizuka sleeping at that moment in her stroller beside him. He hoped it wasn’t too long before they got to him. He really didn’t want her staying in the stroller too long. Looking around the room, he noticed a familiar face. She was eying him as well. Hesitantly, she stood and approached him.
The girl cradled her elbow in a hand, almost caving into her own thin frame. “Can I...can I sit here?”
Yuuri nodded and patted the empty part of the bench next to him. “I think we had a class together.”
She nodded, smiling nervously and settling lightly in the seat. Holding out her hand, she introduced herself. “Hillary.” She made a face then shrugged. “My mother named me after Hillary Clinton. She said it couldn’t hurt to have a strong omega as my namesake.”
“Yuuri,” he returned taking her hand.
“I...I know.” She looked down at her hand, clasped in her lap. “I didn’t know...it happened to you, too.”
Yuuri looked down towards his daughter, not sure how to respond. Finally, he whispered, “Three days...forced heat.”
She pursed her lips but couldn’t pull her eyes up, “Two days...they caught me in my heat.”
Yuuri blinked at the pronoun, “They?”
She frowned, the memory washing over her. Shaking it off, she pushed forward and then turned to look at him. “There were two of them. Seem to think it was a good joke. Fraternity brothers. A few of us...we were thinking it might be tied to a fraternity. Like a sick initiation.”
Yuuri considered what he remembered. “I’m not sure...I mean, it could be?”
She saw the hesitation in his face, “But you think there might be something more to it?”
Yuuri nodded. “I think all of us are wanting answers.”
“And maybe...this will throw some awareness and stop the cover up.” She seemed to have gathered some courage and strength from talking to Yuuri, he hoped his own would see him through his testimony.
His daughter woke up with a pucker and Yuuri quickly turned to her, lifting her out of the stroller. “I just want to be able to tell her I fought against them.” He settled her into his arms and she wormed her way up to breathe him in. His expression softened and he felt stronger renewing his purpose.
“Yuuri Katsuki,” the bailiff called from the door. Perfect timing.
Standing, he nervously handed her over to his mate. “I’ve got to go.”
“I’ll be at the back of the courtroom,” Victor promised.
They both slipped out of the holding room but Yuuri turned back and offered a reassuring smile. She returned it and murmured, “Give’m hell.”
Yuuri gave an hour’s worth of testimony describing in detail the negligence of his care providers. He knew he’d be followed by Celestino who documented Yuuri’s care as his coach. The university hospital really didn’t have anything to counter their complaint and Yuuri was dismissed with minimal cross examination.
Yuuri was outside the courtroom when a recess was called for lunch. He looked up in surprise when a woman approached him, her stride firm and confident. “Hello, I’m Lt. Olivia Benson with the Metro PD and I’d like to talk to you about your case.”
Yuuri blinked at the woman. He hadn’t expected the police to follow through so quickly. “Oh, my attorney’s said you might be contacting me while I’m in town.”
“Do you think you could come by the precinct tomorrow?” she asked as she handed Yuuri her card.
Yuuri reviewed the address then looked up with a nod. “If it will help us find my rapist, I can definitely come by. Do I need to bring my attorney?”
“This will have no bearing on your case with the university but feel free to discuss it with your attorneys.” He watched her sharp grey eyes lock on him. Athena’s eyes. This woman is a warrior. We need to take a statement and based on your testimony, your memory is quite clear with regard to the events.”
Something in the determined way she spoke relit the fight within him. “I’ll be there.”
Yes, I moved Olivia to Detroit for this case. It’s an AU. ;)
On a personal note, shivers is one of the way my anxiety manifests itself. I often feel cold in my extremities which makes sense because your blood rushes to the center when the body is stressed. So I shared this trait with Yuuri.
I really appreciate BluSkates attention to this story. The one going up Wednesday also has a bit of a soft spot with her. Now, for the bad news...in my head, it wasn't a noncon but one of my betas pointed out that it definitely is...so, for those thinking about reading First Class on Wednesday, I want you to know that it does have noncon elements, underage elements, abuse and neglect. I'm actually pretty much starting this when Yuuri gets out, so it's a recovery fic. But there will be flashes back. It has a lot of fluff so it's nature slipped my grasp. But I would love for you to read First Class on Wednesday. Thank you!
Yuuri visits with the Detroit SVU.
Okay, in my head, this was the day I post Truth. Apparently I can't keep anything straight. Well, I'm half way here...so I'll put Sirin up tomorrow.
Because life is suddenly crazy! ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Yuuri hugged himself as he stood before the police precinct. He could feel Victor nearby, knew his daughter was safely held in his arms. Swallowing, he closed his eyes and remembered the statement he gave all those months back. He didn’t have much to say then, he was horrified, his memory was a jumbled mess. At that time Yuuri was more interested in the immediate, he had survived and that was the most important part. He wasn’t ready to face the rest of it then.
Now, with therapy and the support of friends and family, he was beginning to better remember what happened. He could focus on the details and push away the pain to find information that would be helpful. He must...but he found himself swallowing down the whimper.
Victor’s hand rested on his back. “Are you ready?”
“N-no?” he squeaked. He could feel his own tremble. Victor waited and let him find his own feet. Taking deep breaths and letting them out slowly, he finally nodded. “Stay close to me,” he whispered just before they opened the doors.
“Always,” Victor answered equally softly.
The chaos of police work surrounded them and Yuuri immediately felt overwhelmed. He took a step backwards, but felt his mate’s grounding presence and was grateful for Victor. He made his way to the counter and in a voice that sounded far more high pitched than he liked, asked, “Is Lt. Benson here?” showing them the card.
Soon he was directed into a quiet space and Yuuri felt a short reprieve of relief. Victor kept a firm hand on him and then Shizuka started to fuss picking up on Yuuri’s stress. As Victor lifted her out of her carrier, Yuuri said, “Hand her to me,” his hand shaking but steadying as he felt his daughter settle into his hold. She nuzzled into her mama’s chest and Yuuri sighed knowing she just wanted to nurse to calm herself but at the moment, he couldn’t deny her need. He began unbuttoning his shirt and pulled the bralette and pad to the side giving her the access she needed. He felt calmer instantly, realizing he needed to do this as badly as she did. She was straddling his lap with Yuuri bouncing her, his hand patting her back when the door opened.
The detective walked in, smiling at the omega, “Yuuri Katsuki, I’m Olivia Benson.”
Yuuri blushed a little caught in something so intimate, but Olivia seemed to take it as natural. “Yes, I remember...you weren’t here when I reported the rape originally.”
“No, I’m sorry...I wasn’t.” Her voice was sincere and Yuuri felt instantly that had she been there the investigation, and possibly his treatment at the hands of the university would have been vastly different. “I was in the process of transferring. We’ve been building up the Special Victims Unit and working hard to secure more convictions since I arrived .”
Yuuri was impressed, but he was a little confused by her conviction. “About my case...I was told it was dead, that the mishandling of evidence would make a conviction impossible.”
“It wouldn’t have been impossible...but much more difficult. And we would hate to prosecute and risk him getting off so that double indemnity set in. So we waited, and watched.” He watched as her eyes narrowed, and he could tell that waiting and watching criminals walk free was highly frustrating. “My partner and I were particularly concerned when your case came across our desk given the brutality of the attack.”
Yuuri’s eyes were downcast, not exactly focusing on Shizuka and his hand stilled, knee no longer bouncing her. She fussed a little, breaking away and he blinked seeing to her and handing her off to Victor, turning to put himself back together. “I’m sorry,” he murmured.
Olivia smiled warmly, “Don’t worry about it. I want you to feel comfortable.”
“I’ve been in therapy...and it’s helped. But still...I...I’ve remembered things since then and I am afraid.”
“We’ve learned things since then as well.” She opened a file she had brought into the room. “There have been other cases, omega disappearances. And we think they are related.”
Yuuri looked up, a shiver going through him. “He wanted to keep me...and...I don’t think it was random. When I talked before...to the other officer...he seemed to think it was a crime of opportunity. But...he knew my name and I know I didn’t give it to him.”
Olivia grimaced, knowing his case and how it fit with three she was investigating currently. “That goes with what our information is telling us. We believe omegas are targeted specifically, shopped and after the selection has been made, they are force-bonded.”
Yuuri nodded in agreement. “He forced me into a one-way bond. It was terrifying. I could tell that although he wanted to possess me, he felt nothing for me but...condescension?”
“He didn’t value you as a person.”
Yuuri shook his head and added, “Only as property.”
Olivia paused, giving Yuuri a moment to settle, the she dug for the information they desperately needed, “That night you and your coach filed a report, and you gave a statement, you said you didn’t know what he looked like...but after three days, are you sure?”
Yuuri’s brown eyes rose sharply, locking with her in determination, “I...I’ve remembered some of his appearance. Dark hair, blue eyes...it was long and wavy. He kept it in a ponytail. He was...hairy. His skin darker...like it was tanned. He talked...wealthy?” Yuuri hated that he couldn’t better explain the last part, but there was something about the man’s carriage.
Olivia wrote down the words he shared. “Anything else?”
Yuuri’s eyes rested on his daughter knowing she carried the monster’s DNA and hating to acknowledge it. “My daughter...sh-she’s his.” The words were barely whispered and he suddenly needed to hold her once more, protective arms wrapping around her.
Olivia watched as the omega cuddled his baby. Gently she asked, “Will you allow our criminologist to take a cheek sample for both you and her? It could validate the rape kit.”
Yuuri lifted frightened eyes to Victor. “I-I...don’t want to risk him getting her.”
Olivia held up a hand, shaking her head, “No. You are protected by state law. He can’t get custody of her, he can’t even get visitation rights. He has no rights to her, no claim. There is enough evidence to protect you from that, even if we can’t get him for rape.”
Yuuri held onto Victor’s eyes, not sure what to do, waiting. Victor said softly, “It’s up to you, Yuuri. I support you in this.”
Swallowing, he slowly nodded. As he signed papers, Lt. Benson called in the criminologist. They took a cheek sample from both baby and mother. Yuuri could feel himself trembling, to the point where Victor took Shizuka back into his arms and gathered Yuuri into his side. Yuuri signed more papers, his witness statements, permissions. Then he waited.
Olivia Benson sat across from him, her expression gentle. “I know this is hard. Do you think you could identify your rapist if we found him?”
Yuuri nodded hesitantly. “I know I could recognize his voice.”
“How long are you here?”
“Until the end of the week...I have to finish my part of the trial with the university.” He looked at her curiously, “Y-you were there.”
She thinned her lips and Yuuri got the impression she knew, or suspected something, she wasn’t letting on. However, she dodged that statement and returned with, “I am looking for witnesses in your case, connections that will allow me to make progress with your case.”
Yuuri looked up towards Victor, chewing his lip and then his mate nodded. Turning back, he left her with the assurance, “I can come back if needed. I mean...I have competition schedule and a heat coming up…”
“We can make arrangements and hold off picking up the suspect if needed.”
Yuuri ran his hand over the back of his daughter’s head before asking, “Do you think...he’s still after me?”
She was reluctant to answer but due diligence forced her to answer. “Often with predatory alphas, they view their victims as their property. And rapists are sadist by nature, even if he didn’t want you back, he wouldn’t hesitate to hurt you to keep himself safe. So I do caution you to be careful. Stay with your mate and if you have a group, keep in larger numbers. And stay in populated spaces.”
Yuuri took in this information. Then he thought her what she had said about him, his nature, “Is this...how he was born?”
She half nodded and half shook her head as she thinned her lips. “Some say they are born that way, others say it was the way they were raised. Based on our investigation, it seems to be more of a group mentality, pack hunters with one feeding the others. It’s easier to give yourself permission to do these things if you are backed up by others doing them as well. So no, I don’t think he was born this way.” Her eyes rested on Yuuri’s daughter before she added, “This is not a genetic thing.”
Yuuri left his contact information as well as their hotel accommodations. She pressed another card into his hand. “Please call if you have more information.”
Yuuri studied the card then asked, “Can I call to check on progress with the case?”
“Of course,” she assured him.
Victor helped Yuuri gather up Shizuka’s things as Olivia left them alone. It was done. The police knew that Yuuri could identify the rapist. He glanced up under his lashes. “This is so hard.”
Victor looked at his mate, wrung out from the interview, “I know, my Yuuri. We need to do something to break the tension.”
“I...don’t skate tonight. I was hoping to catch up with an old friend.”
“I don’t want you going alone.” Victor’s voice was adamant.
“Phichit wants to go as well.” Yuuri considered his friend, forever vigilant. Then he remembered who they were meeting. “Ketty is an alpha. She is the one that composed my music for my Free Skate.”
Victor smiled, “Do you mind if I meet her?”
Yuuri chuckled, not sure if Victor was jealous, or interested in stealing her as a composor. “No, not at all. She’d want to meet you. Will you...keep Shizuka with you?”
Victor was surprised but nodded, his voice breaking slightly as he answered, “Of course.”
Yuuri nodded before hugging him. “I’d just feel better.”
Both Celestino and Victor watched the two young omegas with trepidation as they waited for Yuuri’s friend in the hotel lobby. “Are you okay with this?” Celestino asked under his breath.
Victor’s head shook almost imperceptibly. “Not really but I don’t want to put my fear off on Yuuri. He needs some time off from his stress.”
“You could ask to go along.” Celestino looked like he was ready to volunteer as chaperone.
Victor hummed, shifting where he stood, “I could...I want to...but Yuuri didn’t exactly invite me.”
Celestino’s grey eyes rested on the other two skaters. “I don’t like this.”
Ketty came in, though, and Victor quickly realized she was a force of nature as she ran up and wrapped both Yuuri and Phichit in her embrace. She was...a giant of a woman, over six foot tall and filling the space. “Is this your baby?” she squealed excitedly, kneeling down by the carrier. As she fussed over the baby, she lifted golden eyes to meet Victor’s. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep them safe,” she said softly.
Victor finally felt comfortable, Yuuri would be spending the evening with a girl that could easily kick his own ass. “I’m trusting you with my mate.”
“I know...he’s been one of my closest friends for the last five years.” Her voice was teasing, implying that she did have prior claim for knowing Yuuri first and longer. Then she softened and spoke to Victor aside, “I won’t let anyone hurt him.”
They stared at one another sizing each other up before Victor stepped back and nodded. Yuuri knelt down hesitantly saying his goodbyes to Shizuka. Victor knew that was hard as well. Yuuri always had his daughter in reach. But he pulled back, standing up to lean into Victor’s embrace. “Don’t leave her side till you’re home with me,” he murmured.
“I won’t. Thank you.” Yuuri then stepped back and turned to join Ketty and Phichit.
They were sitting in the greasy spoon just off campus, a basket of fries between them and bacon cheeseburgers so deliciously terrible that it had to be where the term greasy spoon came from. Sodas in diner tumblers, and straw wrappers littering the table where they blew them at one another before collapsing in giggles. Yuuri looked across at Ketty, easily taking half the burger in one bite, then to Phichit next to him picking at the fries and licking the salt from his fingers. I missed this. I needed tonight. Yuuri giggled at his friend dipping into the honey mustard and then grimacing as he realized for the umpteenth time he hated honey mustard.
However, Yuuri’s laughter was more subdued than normal and Ketty picked up on it. “Missing her already?” she asked softly.
He laughed weakly and shrugged. “I...have trouble leaving her. I don’t even even like for her to sleep in another room.”
Ketty raised an amused eyebrow and asked, “What does Victor think about that?”
Yuuri shrugged. “He...is patient with me. We have the crib at the foot of the bed but she still ends up in bed with us quite often.”
“All the time,” Phichit corrected, giggling. “She’s a wriggling, giggling bundle of birth control.”
“Well, I mean...we do…” Yuuri trailed off, his face going red.
Ketty laughed as she took a sip of her soda but Phichit looks traumatized. “You have sex in front of the bambino?!!!”
Yuuri drops his head down on the table, hiding at this point as he says between his teeth, “Not so loud, Phichit. And don’t use Ciao Ciao’s words, it’s just weird coming from anyone but him.”
Ketty set her glass back down and pressed in gently, “So, you found a work around.”
Yuuri turned his head sideways to answer her but still laid it on the table. “Yeah...sort of. We...tent her bed.”
Both Phichit and Ketty giggled at his discomfort. “I’ll have to keep that in mind for when I have a mate.”
“What do you mean when...what about Jules?” Yuuri asked, brow wrinkled as he raised his head. Jules had been another in their friend group and it looked like she and Ketty would get together but he hadn’t heard from the dancer since he’d left.
She sighed, shrugging. “I mean...we were fine but then you left. A few weeks afterward, a lot of omegas ‘unenrolled’ suddenly. Class one day, gone the next. Her parents started freaking out and pulled her out of the university. So...I suppose...she hasn’t really talked to anyone.”
“She’s...not talked to me either. I didn’t even know she had left,” Yuuri confessed and Phichit frowned realizing the same was true for him as well. “Is Ashley still here?”
“Yeah, but she’s in her internship so not really on campus all that much. We don’t really see each other.” They watched at Ketty grew somber, thinking of her dwindling group of friends. “Natalia moved off as well. Of course, she graduated, so I guess that’s to be expected.”
Yuuri considered his other friends. Ashley shared his love of dogs and was a veterinary science major. Natalia was another music major along with Ketty. They all lived in the same complex and had developed fairly solid friendships. “I’m sorry,” Yuuri whispered.
Ketty’s expression was soft as she reached across the booth to him. “Hey, it’s not your fault, honey.”
“Yeah, but sometimes it feels like it is. I mean, I’m the one that put myself at risk.”
“No, you have the right to not be assaulted. The person to blame is the rapist,” Ketty sighed shaking her head and Phichit slid his arm around his shoulders. “Yuuri, you went for a run, something you’ve done a thousand times.”
“Enough that someone noticed,” Yuuri argued bitterly.
“You think it wasn’t random?” Phichit asked, his eyebrows narrowing as he considered Yuuri’s words.
Yuuri pursed his lips, shaking his head, “It...was easier to think it was random...but...he knew my name.”
Ketty and Phichit met each other’s eyes. “You...were so disconnected after it happened,” Phichit began.
Ketty nodded. “And then you avoided thinking about it throwing yourself back onto the ice.”
Yuuri thought back to where he was those days after he was found, how he had changed once he found his footing again, “I think...once I started feeling safe, things came back to my memory. I...sometimes wish they stayed locked away.”
An hour later, they argued over who would get the check and while Ketty and Phichit flipped a coin to decide, Yuuri slipped his credit card to the patient waitress. They started walking out to the parking lot but then Yuuri stilled, his eyes darting around him.
“What’s wrong?” Ketty asked noticing that Yuuri was on alert. Phichit drew close.
“I...don’t know. It feels like someone is watching me.” He then shrugged it off as they climbed into the car. “I’m probably just on edge because of the police station. It’s brought a lot of memories up.”
Phichit glanced around through the window as they started to pull out of the parking lot and spotted movement in the shadows. He shivered and turned to meet Ketty’s eyes in the mirror. “Let’s just get the two of you back to your rooms,” Ketty stated firmly.
Back at the hotel, the alpha insisted on escorting them back up to their room. “It will give me a chance to see Yuuri’s mini-me.”
Yuuri smiled at that thought and couldn’t deny her. Using the key card, Yuuri called out, “Vitya, are you decent? Ketty wants to see the baby again.”
Victor came around the corner in sweatpants and a t-shirt. “Yuuri!”
He stepped into the room inviting the other two in and Yuuri noted the door connecting the rooms was open and Celestino was sitting at the table. “Poker?”
“A good way to pass the time but Celestino is a card shark!”
Yuuri and Phichit both snorted. “Who do you think taught me to play?” Yuuri added. “I hope we still own a house.”
Victor shrugged and answered, “I figured it was Minako...or maybe Mari.”
Yuuri shrugged, a non-committal smile on his lips as he gathered his daughter in his arms. She fussed happily and buried herself into his neck. “Oh...you fed her,” Yuuri murmured in disappointment.
“That’s why you express your milk, my Yuuri.”
“Did she...was she okay with the bottle?” Yuuri was happy his daughter was sated, but had to admit that small pang of jealousy.
“She fussed a little around the nipple but then figured it out. You selected that type because it was the most natural.”
Yuuri knew Victor’s words were meant to be reassuring but he felt like something was taken from him. He forced a smile and handed her over for Ketty to play with. His friend bounced the baby on her hip.
“How was your evening out?”
Yuuri opened up his mouth to say something about how he got creeped out in the parking lot but then closed his lips over the words. Victor noticed and looked from Yuuri to Phichit to Ketty.
It was Ketty that spilled...perhaps because they had a promise alpha to alpha. “It was fine but Yuuri got spooked in the parking lot.”
Yuuri shot Ketty a look, then turned back to Victor, “It was nothing...I told you I was just on edge.”
Phichit darted eyes from one to the other but then said, “Well, I thought I saw a shadow moving as we pulled out of the parking lot.” He saw Yuuri’s eyes on him, and shrugged.
Victor met Celestino’s eyes and an unspoken agreement went between the two. “I think it might be best if the two of you don’t go out alone while we are here,” Victor stated. “Even together.”
“Even in this hotel,” Celestino added.
Both of the omegas looked stricken as they felt their world get smaller but then Ketty echoed their words. “I think it will be for the best, boys. And don’t ignore your instincts, Yuuri. You were right tonight.”
She handed the baby over before hugging each of her friends. “I’ll be in touch.”
“Thank you for going out with us,” Phichit called. After she left, he turned and hugged Yuuri goodnight before following his coach back to their room.
In bed that night, they could hear Phichit and Celestino talking in the next room over. Victor was quiet at first but finally murmured, “Are you mad?”
Yuuri shook his head. “No...not really. Just...I wouldn’t have said anything.”
“Why?” Victor worried that Yuuri would ignore his instincts and get hurt.
“It seemed like...nothing.” Yuuri couldn’t put it in words, I just had a feeling, that’s all. “I just didn’t want to alarm anyone.”
Victor reached out, touching his shoulder, “But what if it’s not?”
So tomorrow (Monday), I'll put up Sirin. Wednesday, the new fic...and I will put Gravity up somewhere between Thursday and Saturday depending on how my schedule works out. It's all good. One crazy week...I think. I can deal with this. Also, this is the last written chapter of Truth. It's plotted out. I just have to sit down and write and the new story took up all of my head space last week (and it's BluSkates' current favorite...). So if the next chapter is delayed, don't lose heart. It's the next one up to write. I just have to work through my crazy week. ;) Have a happy first week of December!