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Songs in a Minor Key

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Yuuri stared at the piece of paper in his hand.  His alpha’s words blurred out as he looked at the print.  After more than a decade, he was free. And it didn’t involve him being the main character in an episode of Deadly Omega .  (Not that he ever considered murder.  Not seriously, anyway.) He could finally walk out of this house and into the world.  Of course, he was walking out with practically nothing to his name. He wasn’t allowed to take anything he didn’t bring with him, which meant his suitcase was much lighter than it began.  His alpha had been reluctant to replace clothing, and the tiny rolling case had a few pieces of athletic clothes. He was standing out in front of the large house, the door shut and locked firmly behind him.  He didn’t know where to go, but the worn out cell phone that was his only connection to his previous life held the numbers of family and old friends.

 

Tokyo.  Who do I know in Tokyo?   He scrolled down the list and hoped he could get a connection.  The number rang on the other end. He knew it was up to date. He was meticulous about keeping numbers up to date just in case this day would come.  “Phichit?”

 

“Yuuri?  Oh, my god!  Is that really you?”

 

He sniffed and had to fight the sob rising up in his throat.  “Y-yes. Will you come get me?”

 

“On my way.  Are you someplace safe?”  Phichit’s voice didn’t waver, as if he had spent a decade waiting to say those very words.

 

Yuuri looked around the darkened drive.  “I’m outside his house. I don’t...know where to go.”  Thankfully, Phichit kept tabs on where he was located. Once he learned Yuuri’s story, he latched onto the omega, promising to be there as needed.  This new house, Yuuri hadn’t lived here long. It was spacious...and clearly not meant for him.

 

Yuuri had felt the slow freeze out with his last failure.  Another pregnancy that ended in miscarriage. They moved and Yuuri was given a room far from his alpha.  Yuuri didn’t complain. He waited, hoping soon he’d be free. After weeks, or possibly months of daily degradations informing him of how bad an omega he was, his alpha finally told him, “You’ve been replaced.  I won’t continue to support a useless leach.”

 

The words were harsh but Yuuri didn’t even wince.  In his hands, he held his freedom, a document that would allow him to move forward.  It was a half freedom, really. There was a stigma for omegas set aside by their alpha; used, worn out, useless.  But the annulment would allow him to have the connection to Shuji completely severed. He’d no longer be a bound omega.  He...could go home.

 

He shuddered, his tears shaking through his body as he continued to walk down the drive, dragging his suitcase behind.  The clothes within should be too small but Yuuri had been held to a strict diet by Shuji. It was clear to him he was undereating; he often felt dizzy, and his hands would shake.  The cold would blow through him and he couldn’t get warm not matter how he tried. He took a sharp intake of breath as he realized what his freedom would mean.  I can eat.  I can...dance.  I...can skate.

 

He stopped at that thought.   How long had it been?  Reaching the bottom of the hill, he stood on the corner and waited for his ride.   How long had it been since I even wore a pair of skates?  I don’t care that I can’t compete, just to be able to glide across the ice and feel that freedom…

 

A silver sedan drove up and the windows powered down.  Yuuri almost cried, he was so glad to see his best friend.  “Get inside,” Phichit directed. “We don’t want to give him a chance to change his mind.”

 

Yuuri laughed bitterly, wincing at the hollowness in the sound.  “He won’t be coming after me. He has another omega to torment.”

 

Phichit’s eyes went up the hill.  He hated to hear that another was about to face the years of horror that his friend endured, but...Yuuri was free.  “Did they...at least have a choice?”

 

Yuuri cast a long glance over his shoulder before putting his suitcase in the back seat.  “I don’t know. I didn’t meet them. He just came into the room and told me I was gone. I got an entire half hour to pack...it took me ten minutes.”

 

Yuuri was sixteen when he met Phichit, a thirteen year old junior chasing after him determined to be his best friend.  Yuuri typically distanced himself from other skaters, but he found the boy’s enthusiasm and light infectious. After they retreated to their rooms, Phichit came to his room and they stayed up late playing Call of Duty and talking.

 

Through Phichit, Yuuri was able to forget his horrible future, the ticking clock that chased him relentlessly.  For a few years, gathering blissful memories, Yuuri had the sweetest friend and an exciting skating career. It was later, when Yuuri announced his retirement, that his best friend found out Yuuri’s bitter story.  “Why?” he demanded.

 

Yuuri sighed, hugging himself.  “My alpha won’t let me compete anymore.”

 

Phichit stepped back, they were in the privacy of Yuuri’s room.  “Your...alpha?” Phichit had trouble accepting that. Yuuri could see the dark eyes working quickly, putting the pieces together.  “You’re only nineteen. Wh-why?”

 

Yuuri shrugged.  “Some...don’t think omegas should stay in athletics.”

 

The dark eyes turned hard, brows knitting, “That’s bullshit!  I’m omega and I have no plans to take an alpha until I’m good and ready!”

 

Yuuri turned, it was too much.  “Some of us don’t get a choice, Phichit!” he forced out, his voice shaking.

 

The desperation in Yuuri’s voice shook Phichit up.  The Thai man put a gentle hand on his friend’s shoulder, turning him back around.  With a soft voice he began again, “What...do you mean?”

 

Yuuri hugged himself, his hand resting on his opposite elbow.  “I’ve...been bonded since I was fourteen. I didn’t get a choice.  And now...I’m pregnant. So it’s not like the ISU and JSF are going to let me skate now.”

 

Phichit’s eyes tracked down from Yuuri’s face to the slight swell of his stomach.  “You could skate after the baby,” Phichit suggested weakly, his voice threaded with tears.

 

Yuuri shook his head.  “I don’t think he’ll let me.”

 

Phichit then made Yuuri to promise, “You have to stay in touch with me.”

 

Yuuri couldn’t bring himself to look his friend in the face, “Why do you want to still be my friend?”

 

“Because us omegas have to stick together,” Phichit answered.  Yuuri could tell the younger man was struggling to accept his fate.  Yuuri struggled with it. This was not where he planned to be at this point in his life.  He hadn’t planned any of this; all the planning had been done by Shuji, without consent.

 

He didn’t go through a matchmaker.  He wasn’t courted. He was cornered in a hallway, at the end of a competition by the alpha.  An ISU official who had decided Yuuri would be his omega had forced the newly presented skater into the bond then threatened to jerk his skating credentials if he told anyone.  Yuuri was only fourteen and the world was already cruel to omegas. He assumed the law would side with this man. His parents didn’t find out until he was seventeen and by then, they couldn’t do anything.  When Yuuri graduated high school, his alpha came to collect him, telling him to leave childish things behind. He was allowed to bring only his clothes. His mother managed to slip a blanket to him that held her scent.  Yuuri, all of eighteen and afraid, followed the alpha to his car.

 

He reached behind him now and pulled that blanket out of his suitcase, snuggling into the worn threads.  His mother’s scent all but gone, he still swore he could smell her.

 

“So, what’s your plan?” Phichit asked quietly as he negotiated traffic.

 

Yuuri blinked, I get to make a plan.   “I’m...going to begin again.”

 

“I might be able to get you on at the app company I do freelance work for,” Phichit suggested.

 

Yuuri shook his head slowly.  He knew without a college degree, he wouldn’t get far down that path.  At twenty-seven, college seemed impossible. “I...want to go home. See my family.  Maybe I can figure out where to go from there.”

 

“I want to help,” Phichit whispered, hitting the steering wheel in frustration.

 

Yuuri jumped and had to focus to keep from shrinking on himself.  I’m safe.  I’m with Phichit.  It’s okay. He won’t let anything happen to me.   Finally he drew a settling breath.  “I know...you can help me by getting me to my parents’ home.”

 




Yuuri stepped off the train, the weather having turned windy and rainy.  He could feel the cold seep through him. Phichit had given him food, bought him the tickets, and reluctantly let him go.  Yuuri had held onto him for as long as he could, hugging him close. “Thank you. I don’t know what I would have done without you here.”

 

Phichit was openly sobbing at the departure of his friend, even if it was to send him to his family.  “I’m always here for you, Yuuri. Stay in touch.”

 

“I will.  I promise.”  If Shuji couldn’t keep them apart, he knew that he could hold onto his friend now that he was free.  “I have to find my feet again.”

 

“I know.  I just want to keep you safe.”

 

Yuuri loved his friend, but he needed to leave Tokyo, it was too close.  “Maybe...I’m safest far away from him.”

 

Now in Hasetsu, Yuuri walked down the road that would take him home.  He ignored the rain and wind. He ignored the strange looks from other people probably wondering where they’d seen his face before.  He kept walking, one foot in front of the other. Ten kilometers. Two hours. He stood before the entrance to Yuutopia, his parents’ business and home.

 

Opening the door to the residential entrance, a startled body came around the corner and stared at him with wide eyes.  “Y-yuuri?” And then he was enveloped in his mother’s embrace, her warm tears combating the cold from the rainy walk, her cry drawing others into the room and soon he was being held by his father, his sister, his ballet coach Minako smelling faintly of liquor…

 

With a sob of his own, he murmured, “I’m home.”

 

Then in a whirlwind of action, he found himself being changed into a dry yukata, warm from the spa.  The material and scent was heavenly in its familiarity. He was seated at the family table and food placed before him.  Yuuri stared at the steaming bowl, feeling overwhelmed from the knot of anxiety he’d held in his stomach for a decade. Fighting it, he slowly took a bite then another and he would have loved to have finished it but after half a dozen bites, he knew he couldn’t hold any more.  He had been half-starved for so long his stomach shrunk, only allowing small bites here and there.

 

“Is it okay?” his mother worried.

 

Yuuri nodded, his smile soft, his expression exhausted.  “I’m just tired, Mom.” How could he tell his mother how little he’d been able to eat?

 

“Don’t worry,” she reassured him, seeming to accept his explanation at face value.  “Your sister and Minako are upstairs freshening your room.”

 

Yuuri looked around as he took in the space and a poodle came barking and sniffing at him.  “Vicchan...you’re still here,” he whispered.

 

Both of his parents exchanged troubled glances.  “Yuuri,” his father began softly.

 

Yuuri traced an unfamiliar mark in the poodle’s fur and lifted him, no her, up.  “This isn’t Vicchan,” he murmured.

 

“He waited and watched for you for a long time,” his mother continued softly.  “And he was already well past his years.”

 

Yuuri let the tears fall, “How long?”

 

They exchanged looks.  “Six years ago,” his father answered quietly.

 

Yuuri thinned his lips, his hand going down to his abdomen.   That was when he lost his second, a boy. Yuuri had carried him almost full term.  When he opened his brown eyes slowly, Yuuri knew he was slipping away. The doctors and nurses worked to bring him back but he was gone in a blink.  The loss of all his children had been horrible, that one was devastating. He had shut down, mourning for the short period he had been allowed before he was back under his alpha.

 

His mother’s eyes held understanding.  She gathered him into his arms and he wept, giving into long held back tears, mourning four babies, fourteen years lost, a childhood tainted by the future ahead, and a dog that waited for him to come home.  He was broken.

 

He didn’t remember coming to his room.  He had fallen asleep in his mother’s arms.  He suspected his father took him up the stairs.  Although small, he was always uncannily strong. He could tell by the scent on the blankets, though, that his mother tucked him in.

 

The next days slid by in slowly dawning awareness of his situation.  It started with Yuuri regaining his strength under his mother’s watchful eyes, gently prodding him to take one more bite.  The foods she provided were mild so as not to tear at his stomach with their richness. Miso and rice were his standby foods.  She always had a hot cup of tea ready, ginger for his stomach. He moved through the inn at first reacquainting himself with the space, studying and taking in the smallest changes.  The new poodle, Ren, or lotus, meaning rebirth, took to following him, trying to get his attention. She wasn’t Vicchan but slowly, she found her way into his affection.

 

Yuuri reclaimed his freedom over the next weeks.  He went to the clinic with the legal papers and they began the series of shots that would sever his connection to his mate.  The clinicians were efficient in their care. Yuuri knew his bond with Shuji had died long ago, this was a necessary medical procedure to allow him to choose a new mate.  He practically laughed when the doctor explained that to him, and he saw in her face how ridiculous the idea was. He felt the judgmental stares of the entire staff. They didn’t know what Yuuri had endured and how hard won his freedom was.  They only saw an omega sent away by their mate. And he could hear them gossiping behind his back.  He’ll never find an alpha to take him.  Better that the alpha had died then leave him abandoned.  It says on the papers he couldn’t produce a child. That cinches it, no alpha will take him now.

 

Over the following months, Yuuri tried to work, to reclaim and find purpose in life.  He helped out at the inn working quietly with the other employees but he heard them whispering when they thought he was out of earshot.  Minako asked him to help at the studio, and he enjoyed teaching beginning dance classes, however parents started taking their children away.  If an alpha doesn’t want him, there must be something wrong with him. Minako would never ask him to leave, but Yuuri couldn’t let her business suffer for him.  He left.

 

His parents loved him, unconditionally...and their hearts ached for their son.  Mari fought for him, quieting the rumors when she caught wind of them. But they were fighting society, custom, tradition.  And those were three warriors that seldom lost.

 

It was Yuuko who found him one day after he’d stopped going to the studio.

 

“I heard you were back in town,” her soft voice came up from behind him.

 

Yuuri turned, the Madonna of the Ice Castle, just as pretty as ever.  “Yuuko,” he rose, they embraced. “It’s good to see you.”

 

She laughed, “You would have seen me a lot sooner if you’d stopped by the rink.”

 

Yuuri blinked, he started to shake his head.  “I don’t know…”

 

“Well I do.”  She took his hand, leading him out of the inn.  “It’s after hours, we can give you the whole sheet, freshly zambonied.  You can even meet my girls.”

 

“Girls?”  Yuuri followed her into the fresh air of the street.

 

“Yeah, three, all at once.  Where’d I get that luck?” She sucked in a breath, the minute the words left her mouth she wanted to pick them up and put them back in.  “Oh Yuuri...I…”

 

He shook his head, “No, it’s okay.  I really want to meet them. And see Takeshi.”

 

She smiled back.  They were at the steps of the Ice Castle, it looked exactly the same as Yuuri’s memories.  He remembered group lessons when he was four, his first one foot spin, splitting his lip from his first flip.  It was home, or at least part of it.

 

They laced up, Yuuri was surprised to find that Yuuko had snagged his skates before even coming to get him.  He stood at the barrier, looking out on the clean, uncut ice. Frozen.

 

“I don’t know.”  He turned, looking at his friend standing behind him.

 

“Take your time.”  She walked up to lean on the barrier.  “Remember when you showed me your best snowplow stop?”

 

He furrowed his brow, then erupted into a broad smile.  “Oh god!”

 

“Show me your best snowplow stop.”  Her voice was warm, but firm.

 

He took that first step, toe pick down, free leg gliding out.  The sound of the ice under him was mystical. He felt wobbly, afraid to do a three turn after a decade off ice, but he felt strong enough to do a set of forward powerpulls.  The grind of his edge was like music. He turned, saw his friend, the tears gleaming in her eyes. He skated up to the barrier. One foot, inside edge, pushing out, coming to a perfect snowplow stop.  He put his arms behind his head, “ta da!”

 

Yuuko couldn’t keep the tears back.  She stepped out, pulling him into an embrace, holding him as he cried.

 

Takeshi had been watching from the warm up room, and came down.  He waited, letting his wife work her magic on her...their friend.  When he noticed they were slowing he came forward, “Well, it’s good to see you back.  No quads, okay?”

 

Yuuri snorted, “I couldn’t do those when I could skate!”

 

“You can land one!”  A gruff voice came from somewhere, Yuuri couldn’t see the owner.

 

“I bet you can land lots and lots!”  A second voice joined it, and soon Yuuri was able to see two...no three little heads peeking out over the barrier.

 

“Yuuri,” Yuuko pulled him over to the three munchkins.  “These are my girls, Axel, Lutz, and Loop.”

 

Yuuri watched the little girls fight over who could take pictures on ‘momma’s phone’ and he had to admit he loved them.  He was delighted his friend had found such a happy family and was able to stay in Hasetsu, but he did feel a twinge of jealousy.   I could have had this too...if…  Yuuri shook himself, skating into a familiar school figure.   No point thinking of what’s lost.

 




The Nishigoris let him use the ice as often as he wanted, and he found himself there almost daily...as soon as the rink closed to others, of course.  He sat in the sound booth one day with both Yuuko and Takeshi warming up from the chill before heading on the ice once more when Yuuko brought up an old topic.  “Do you still look up to Victor Nikiforov?”

 

Yuuri shrugged.  He’d lacked means and was forbidden from collecting memorabilia commemorating the skater.  “Shuji didn’t like me holding onto things from other alphas.”

 

“I didn’t ask about Shuji,” Yuuko clucked.  “Anyway, he was widowed like two years ago. And he retired at the end of the last Worlds.  He said he would be coaching at his old rink and focusing on raising his son.”

 

Yuuri frowned, “I’m sorry he’s widowed and retired.  I would have liked to see him skate again, now that I can watch TV.”

 

Yuuko laughed, “Well, I was thinking that this might be something you were interested in.”

 

Her voice was leading and Yuuri shook his head, shrugging.  “What’s that got to do with me?”

 

“Well...I found this!”  She turned the laptop his direction.  It was a personal ad. Widowed father seeking companion omega as mother-figure for his son.  Omega will have their own room and will be employed as a live-in nanny for son.  Room outfitted for omega’s safety and privacy. Asking for one year contract as a trial period.  This is a paid position unless and until we decide we wish to bond.

 

Yuuri’s eyes flicked up to the picture and it certainly looked like a likeness of Victor but he couldn’t believe it.  “I’m sure if it were him, he’d be looking for someone more suitable than me.”

 

“What do you mean?  You are great with kids!”

 

Yuuri rolled his eyes, he knew he was terrific with children, it was adults who had problems.  “Tell that to the parents that pulled their kids from ballet when I tried to teach.”

 

“Yeah, and all those asshats thought you were the best teacher their darlings had ever had until they learned about your...past.  They are idiots who are more interested in gossip than truth.”

 

He looked at the ad again.  “It’s probably someone putting his picture up to trap some omega into a bonded relationship.  I’ve already been down that road.”

 

Yuuko shook her head, “This one goes through a placement agency.  You could meet him before you decide to go. Set it up for a public place and take a friend.”

 

Yuuri’s fingers slid over the image but then shrugged it off.  “What’s the point? When he finds out how I was set aside, how my bonding was...annulled...he’s not going to want me around his son.  Let alone himself.”

 

Yuuko turned to her mate desperately.  “Talk to him!”

 

Takeshi, who had cleverly used that time to start stacking skates, felt the need to make sure the zamboni was filled.  Leaving the room quickly he said, “This is your thing, Yuuko. I told you he wouldn’t go for it.”

 

Yuuri was soon rescued when a trio of six-year-olds entered the building calling out to their mother and father.  He decided he’d had enough of the ice that day and packed up to head home.

 




After his evening shift at the restaurant serving his mother’s food, he trudged upstairs and washed off the scent of the inn.  He loved his mother’s cooking but lately he’d grown to hate the restaurant. The smells cloyed at him and reminded him how hard it was to eat.

 

In the privacy of his room, he checked his messages and smiled to see one from Phichit only to frown.

 

Peaches/ Did you see the ad VN put up?

 

He rolled his eyes.   The universe is conspiring against me.

 

Yuu-chan/ I saw the ad SOMEONE put up with VN’s picture.

 

Peaches/ I thought that, too, but it’s genuine.

 

Yuuri stopped, holding the new phone.  Mari had insisted he get an update, and he did like the sleek new model.  He was interested in Victor, but he shook himself free of thoughts of the skater.

 

Yuu-chan/ Even if it’s legit, what does that have to do with me?

 

Peaches/ What if that is your second chance?

 

Yuu-chan/ I am too messed up for this.

 

Peaches/ You do have some healing to do.  It’s easier to heal surrounded by love.

 

Yuu-chan/ Which is why I’m here.

 

Peaches/ How are you?

 

Phichit would break off and focus on the important, to check on him.

 

Yuu-chan/ My family loves me...everyone else seems to have branded me as a pariah.

 

Peaches/ People are always ready to believe the worst.  Think about this, though. Clean slate.

 

Yuu-chan/ I’d have to go somewhere completely oblivious of my identity.

 

Peaches/ St. Petersburg might be that place.

 




Yuuri spent the morning cleaning rooms on checkout.  He knew how to efficiently turn a room, quickly nullifying scents and freshening the surfaces.  New linens, and the space was good as new. One of the drawbacks was that sometimes the customers returned looking for things they forgot...and found it necessary to hit on the help.  In this case, the owners’ omega son. He hated the entitled behavior of rich alphas thinking they can have an omega for the asking. As he brushed off the unwanted affections of yet another alpha, careful to get himself out of a corner, he spotted his sister down the hall keeping a careful eye (or ear) on things.  As soon as she spotted him, she called out, “Mom was looking for you.” Yuuri took the easy out and ran down the hall towards the kitchen.

 

It had been the third offer that week, none of them attractive, all of them insulting.  An omega in his position doesn’t have a lot of options, they would begin. They would then offer them their protection, offering to put him up in a house and to take care of him...as their mistress.  Yuuri pushed those offers aside. He wanted to be able to take care of himself, not to be taken advantage of, to be used at will by an alpha. But no one was giving him a chance.

 

Sitting in the quiet of his room, his eyes fell upon his laptop.  He remembered the ad he read earlier that week. Would it be so bad; it’s not like I’m a mail order bride?  A companion omega doesn’t have the implied sexual expectations.  Maybe he’s still not over his wife. Maybe he really is just looking for someone to help with his son.

 

He opened his computer and found the link Phichit sent him.  Opening the ad, he did a quick search on the placement agency.  Ren crawled into his lap and licked up at his chin. “It’s ridiculous to try.  Why would he want me?” He read through the ad, the more detailed version. “Matchmakers put omegas like me in old alpha’s homes.”

 

But something in Yuuri had to try.  He opened up the link and began the application process, entering his name and contact information and moving through the questionnaire.

 

Have you been in a bonded relationship before?   Yes .

 

Do you have children?  Yuuri’s fingers stilled as he stared at the question before tapping out No .

 

Do you like children?   Yes .

 

Do you like pets?   Yes .  Yuuri wasn’t leaving without his dog this time.

 

Are you single, widowed, or divorced?

 

Yuuri looked at his papers.   Annulled .  That’s like divorce.  He started to select that when his fingers stilled, taking in a deep breath as he remembered how the customers treated him.  I don’t want to be a mistress.  If I’m a widow, at least I’m considered matable.  But...it’s a lie.  He moved past that question intending to go back.  Working through the rest of the questions, he submitted it then stilled.

 

“Oh, shit!  I meant to go back to that question!”  He hugged himself, before trying to go back into the application.   Submitted .  Closing his eyes, he felt the sting of tears.   I can’t even do this right.   He curled up in bed wrapping himself in the worn blanket he carried with him to Shuji’s and back.  Ren was up in his space, licking at his face until she circled her body and settled down in front of Yuuri.

 

Yuuri slept.  He slept through dinner.  He barely woke up when a soft knock landed on his door and felt his mother’s hand on his forehead, a soft touch of her scent down his back.  “Hard day, dear?” Yuuri nodded but didn’t speak. She tucked him in and let him sleep some more.

 

The next morning, he left only as necessary.  Bathroom. Shower. Picking at breakfast. By afternoon, however, he couldn’t mope any longer and left to go downstairs.

 

“Yuuri, feeling better?” his mother greeted warmly.

 

“A little,” he lied.  She gave him a knowing look but didn’t push.

 

She knew that sometimes tasks were the best way to help her son.  “Well, if you’re up to it, we could use someone to shovel the snow on the walk.”

 

Yuuri looked up, eyes searching for a view of the outside.  “It snowed?”

 

“Last night and most of the morning,” she replied cheerily.

 

Yuuri worked through his demons with physical labor and found his laugh as Ren would leap and disappear into the drifts, setting the shovel down to fish her out.  “Well, at least I’ve got you,” he murmured softly. Which was true because the poodle had taken to Yuuri to the point where his family referred to her as Yuuri’s. He gathered her up to bring her inside.  Drying her off, he remembered similar incidents with Vicchan. Then his thoughts drifted to leaving her behind at eighteen. He didn’t want to but Shuji said there was no place for pets in the house.

 

Drawing in a shaky breath, he moved into the family space and pulled out his phone.  He was surprised to see he had an email. “The client has requested to meet with you.”

 

Yuuri blinked and blinked again.  He knew it was the matchmaker agency but it seemed unreal.

 

He cautiously tapped out a response.  “A meeting could be arranged after we talk.”

 


 


That night, Yuuri sat before his computer, his hair washed and pushed back from his forehead, dressed in a blue pullover waiting on the skype call to go through.  The screen lit up and before him was none other than the living legend himself. Yuuri’s breath caught.

 

“Hello, Yuuuuri?” the silver-haired man greeted.

 

Yuuri was dumbstruck before he finally found the words.  “H-hi. I can’t believe...why me?” The worst words possible, he groaned as soon as they left his lips.

 

Victor chuckled in response.  “Well, honestly, I had a friend screen these first.  And Chris said it had to be this one. So...I don’t know?”

 

Yuuri felt a pang of disappointment but forced a smile.  “What do you want to know?”

 

“Everything...but for now, you didn’t say your marital status.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself, his lip trembling.  “I-it’s hard to say.”

 

Victor’s expression softened.  “Aaah, I understand. It’s okay.  Even after two years, it’s sometimes hard for me to accept she’s gone.”

 

Yuuri knew he should correct Victor’s possible misconception but he couldn’t say the words.  He just nodded. “You wanted to meet?”

 

Victor’s face lit up, “Yes!  I do. You’re in Japan, right?”

 

“Yes.  And you’re in Russia.”

 

“Ah, yes...I am.  But I’m going to be in Japan soon.  I have skaters in the NHK. Perhaps we could see each other then.”

 

“Tokyo?” Yuuri confirmed, chewing his lip.  He worried at the prospect of being in the same city as Shuji.

 

“Yes...is that possible?  I mean...I can pay your travel, your room.”

 

“N-no, I’m okay.  I have a friend I can stay with.”   Phichit will think of something, he always does.

 

“Then let me at least leave you with tickets.  You can watch them skate,” he offered. “Then after, maybe we can have dinner.”

 

Yuuri’s mind was scrambling.   I can’t go to the NHK.  Shuji will be there.  “Could we...meet the first time in a group?  Maybe I bring my friend and you bring yours?”

 

Victor chuckled and nodded.  “I think that’s a smart move.  Yes, we can do that. I’ll bring Chris.”

 

“I’ll bring Phichit.  Oh, he’s my best friend.”

 

“Sounds perfect.  I’ll email my itinerary once it’s set and we can make a plan from there.”  An impatient voice called from the other room. Victor answered back and then returned to Yuuri.  “My son...I did mention I had a son.”

 

Yuuri nodded, his heart in his throat.  “Y-yes.”  That was the reason for this, wasn’t it?

 

“Tokyo...then we’ll decide if we will move forward.  Thank you, Yuuri.”

 

“Thank you.”  And then he was gone, the call disconnected.  Yuuri glanced towards the hall that would lead to his parents.  How would they take this? They just got him back. But even Yuuri could admit he was just existing.  He needed to make a move forward. Maybe he could work as a nanny. He began searching Companion Omega contracts.  They turned out to be varied in duties but often involved a grieving alpha. The one he’d probably be signed to was for child care since the alpha requested nanny services but it wasn’t the same as hiring a nanny.  There were more boundaries in a straight nanny contract. In this one, he could court Yuuri but there was an out clause letting Yuuri leave if offered unwanted affections. Who could look over this contract for me?  He didn’t want to go through his family attorney.  He thought back through his small network of friends.  Most of his contacts in Tokyo were through Shuji and untrusted.

 

Yuu-chan/ Do you know any attorneys?

 

Peaches/ I’m dating one.  It’s long distance, though.

 

Yuu-chan/ I need someone to look over the Companion Omega contract should I decide to consider it.  I don’t want to be roped into something unexpected.

 

Peaches/ You’re going to answer the ad?

 

Yuu-chan/ I did...and we had a skype call.  We’re meeting in Tokyo. Could I stay with you?  This is sort of your fault.

 

Peaches/ Of course you can stay with me!  And I’ll contact my bf to see if he’d read over the contract.  I’m sure he won’t mind. He hates it when omegas are unfairly taken advantage of.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 2:  Once bitten, twice shy

 

Victor couldn’t believe what Chris had done.  He was furious...almost. After watching his fifth nanny walk out, he was also desperate.  “What am I going to do?”

 

“You’re going to go through these applications,” Chris prodded.

 

Victor huffed.  “That was not the kind of ad I asked you to set up.”

 

“Sometimes we have to take a new approach.  This one obviously isn’t working.”

 

As he watched his blond hellion pouting in the corner, Potya held in his small arms in an impossible position but purring happily so obviously not upset, he knew he was at his wit’s end.  “I’m not ready for a new mate,” he breathed.

 

Chris let his friend sit for a moment before approaching him, “I know...but maybe you can find someone and...mourn together.  Perhaps as you heal, you can find happiness.” He saw his friend’s face soften at the idea of being able to talk to another person about how he felt.  “And this is a companion omega. There is nothing that says this has to go any further than being a friend and a nanny.”

 

Victor seemed to perk up at the thought, “So you suggest...another widow?”

 

Chris frowned not necessarily wanting to hem in opportunity.  “ Maybe a widow...but sometimes we have to help someone else to find our own relief.”

 

“I don’t want someone who can’t handle Yura,” Victor protested.  The five-year-old was rambunctious and energetic and had somehow managed to run off every single nanny so far.

 

Chris chuckled as he studied the pouting boy.  “I think that if you change the stakes, you might find more what you’re looking for.  Remember, a companion omega can have greater authority than a nanny and they form a closer relationship with the children.  They...can be affectionate.”

 

Remembering how cold the last nanny, a German named Helga... Helga!... had been, he had to nod in agreement.  Yura hated her. But to be honest, he hated all of them.  He missed his mother and none of these women were ever going to be her.  And Victor missed her as well. Had it really been two years?

 




Three weeks later, Chris laid an application across his desk.  “This is the one.”

 

Victor took the paper from his friend and he may have frowned in irritation.  “It doesn’t say a whole lot,” he answered after the fact. He narrowed in on the unanswered question.  “And he avoids marital status.”

 

“Makes you wonder why?” Chris suggested, waggling his eyebrows.  

 

Blue eyes flicked up to his friend before asking, “Why are we friends?”

 

Chris grinned.  “Because I know your deepest, darkest secrets.”

 

Victor groaned.  He was right. He knew what led to his bonding to Yelena.  He loved his mate and mourned her loss...but he knew he wouldn’t have bonded her if it hadn’t been for Yura.  Of course, it wasn’t the story everyone assumed.

 

He tried one more why.  “Why this one?”

 

The hazel eyes sparkled with that secret smile that showed Chris was up to something.  “I have danced with him before.”

 

That took Victor by surprise.  “Really?”

 

Victor watched as Chris settled himself in a chair across the room.  “I doubt he will remember it but I remember it clearly and...if Yelena hadn’t been in the picture, I would have found a way for you two to meet.”

 

Victor smiled at the thought.  Then stopped, “Was he bonded at the time?”

 

Chris shrugged which meant technically yes.  “He wasn’t happily bonded which led to a large amount of champagne and some bad decisions.”  At Victor’s narrowing eyebrows, Chris waved him down. “Not that bad...he didn’t cheat. But we did spend the evening running and hiding from his alpha.”

 

“I hope he didn’t pay for your little game, Chris,” Victor stated clearly annoyed.

 

Chris frowned and Victor suspected that the omega may have been dealt with harshly.  “He needed cheering up. He had his friend there, too. We watched over him.”

 

Victor looked at the file once more.  “He’s in Japan.”

 

“He is...and you will be there soon...”

 

“The NHK.”  Victor saw where Chris was taking this.

 

“Exactly.”

 

Victor frowned, he had dozens of reasons why this was a bad idea, why it would never work.  He was old, he was sad, lonely, and broken. Two blue eyes rose up to see the hazel eyes of his friend shutting down any arguments.  Defeated he shrugged, “Why not...I can at least meet with him.” I need a nanny.  He’s too much for Nikolai and Olga.

 

Chris slapped his thigh, “That’s the spirit.  He’s also sent in the necessary background checks and has requested those things from you as well.  He wants...to talk to you.”

 

“Well, he will when we meet in Japan.”

 

“No, he wants to talk to you before he agrees to the meeting.”  Chris saw the confused look on his friend’s face and filled in his understanding.  “I think...he’s skeptical it’s you.”

 

Victor sighed as he considered his options.  He’d never had to jump through hoops for a nanny.  But then again, they didn’t stay, and this wasn’t just a nanny.  Even with all of the protections clauses in the contract, it still put Yuuri in a vulnerable position.  “Authorize the background checks and forward his contact information. I’ll set up the call.”

 

“I suggest something where you both can see one another.  Maybe Skype?”

 

Victor nodded in agreement.  “That would put him more at ease.  I guess one can’t be too careful.”

 

“I’ll see to my end.  Do you want me to prepare the contracts?”  Chris could have bitten his tongue for moving too quickly.

 

Victor frowned.   Am I ready for that?   Finally he nodded and said, “Make sure there are solid protections for both parties.  If his alpha was an ass, he’s probably extra cautious.”

 

“You know I always protect the omega’s interest.  I don’t work for alphas who do otherwise.” Chris left to do the legal work Victor needed and his friend watched the door as he considered this next move.   Companion.  That just meant friendship .  He could accept a new friend.  He wasn’t ready to let go of his wife, though.  They came together under odd circumstances but he didn’t care for her any less for it.  And their love for each other grew as they continued to protect and love Yura.

 

He looked down as he felt a wet nose press into his palm.  “Hey, Makka. What do you think about a new person in this house?  Maybe someone...more than a nanny?”

 

Makkachin barked with approval.   Well, if Makka approved…

 




Victor stared at the blank screen after the Skype call.  The omega appeared to be shy but determined, but those eyes...they were open and tender.   Would you be able to form a bond with my son?  He needs a mother...he misses his own so much.   He could tell there was something the omega was holding back but his background check showed no criminal history, little credit activity, and a past work history that ended abruptly at nineteen.  Figure skating.  No wonder Chris knew him.  How did we not meet?  Whoever his alpha had been, he had not registered the relationship...which was odd but Chris did hint at abuse.  At least he’s out. No wonder he’s hesitant to trust an alpha.

 

He remembered Yelena coming to him desperate and pregnant.  “He’s not a good alpha, Vitya...I need someone to protect me from him.  Someone to keep my son from him. If he finds out I’m pregnant…” It had been awkward bonding with his friend.  He loved Yelena, but as a friend. They had never been intimate. When she moved in, she occupied the room where Yuuri would stay...he stilled at that thought.  He already had Yuuri moving in.

 

He pulled up the pictures provided by the omega.  Thumbing through, he could see a happy childhood in those pictures, a boy playing with a dog, dancing, skating.  But as time went on, he could see sadness creeping in. When did you get involved with this apha?  The recent pictures showed him a bit on the thin side.   Maybe you stop eating when stressed.  Olga will get you healthy again. Well, between her and Nikolai…

 

He thought back to the video call and reflected on those eyes.  They were open but he could see the despair in their depths. You need this, too.  Someplace to find your feet.  He knew Chris had a good instinct when it came to people and if he’d met the omega in person, he’d already have a gauge on his personality.  Maybe…

 




Tokyo, Japan

 

Victor was disappointed to find the tickets were unclaimed but he had the location for their meeting in his phone.  Chris couldn’t come with him but Victor wasn’t worried. He just knew Yuuri was nervous about meeting him alone.

 

When he arrived at the restaurant, he was shown back to their table.  Yuuri was there waiting, standing and bowing as he met Victor with awkward greetings in Japanese then English.  “S-sorry.” He waved at his companion. “This is my friend Phichit.”

 

Victor’s eyes blinked at the familiar face.  “Chulanont? You took silver at Worlds last year and then announced your retirement.”

 

Phichit’s melodious laugh rang through the air.  “It didn’t create as big a stir as your retirement announcement.  I wasn’t sure anyone noticed.”

 

“I always pay attention to my competition...especially when we share the podium.  I didn’t realize you were Yuuri’s friend.”

 

“I’ve known Yuuri since junior days.  Too bad he didn’t continue skating. He may have knocked you off the podium.”

 

“Phichit!” Yuuri muttered warningly.  

 

The retired Thai skater reached over to settle his friend.  “Are you okay now if I leave?”

 

Yuuri hesitantly nodded.  “I...I think I’ll be fine.”

 

“Call me if you need a ride home!”  Then the spritely friend was gone.

 

They awkwardly took their seats.  Victor watched Yuuri gracefully pour both of them tea as he worked out his words.  It was clear that Yuuri was more skittish in person. “I hope your journey went well.”  Victor watched the thin wrists working as the earthenware pot was moved over his own cup.

 

Yuuri forced a smile.  “Traveling alone on the trains as an omega is always an adventure.”

 

Victor hated that, how alphas would reach out and become handsy with an unattached omega.  “I wish I knew how to change that mindset,” he murmured.

 

“Me, too,” Yuuri whispered in reply.  

 

As their food was delivered, sushi, he watched Yuuri deftly serve him and didn’t know what to say at first.  “I’m not looking for someone to take care of me,” he protested.

 

Yuuri sat back his hands in his lap.  “Habit. I had certain expectations from...him.”

 

Victor felt bad, he didn’t know what to say.  He didn’t want Yuuri to think he had to serve him, but he didn’t know how to say that without sounding like he was rejecting the man.  “It’s okay...I just didn’t want you to feel...obligated.”

 

Yuuri shrugged, his eyes downcast.  “I don’t know how to act in this situation.  It’s not a date…”

 

“Think of it as an...interview of sorts?”

 

Yuuri nodded, lifting his eyes slowly.  “What...do you want to know?”

 

Victor considered the question as he popped the first piece of sushi into his mouth.  “I suppose the most pressing thought is...why did you answer my ad?”

 

My friends wouldn’t stop pestering me about it…  Yuuri thinned his lips and swallowed.  “I...was very young when I went to my alpha.  Eighteen. I don’t have a lot of skills beyond taking care of house and home.  I can teach dance but the town where I live is small so they don’t really need multiple dance teachers.  And I’ve not studied beyond what could be found in a local studio. I could skate, but then again, not a lot of demand.  I...I help out at my parents’ inn but...well, I’m an older, unattached omega. There are certain...ideas...that our customers have.  I guess, I want a position where I can stand on my own feet and not feel...sexualized.” A blush climbed up in his cheeks at that final word.  “What about you...why did you put that ad up?”

 

My friend posted it and wouldn’t stop pestering me about it.   Victor considered telling him he that but wasn’t sure how Yuuri would receive it.  “I...have had several nannies over the past two years but my son, he’s spirited and those situations haven’t worked out.  I need someone that can meet him where he’s at. He needs a maternal figure, someone that will give him the affection as well as the care he needs.  Nannies are bound by a professional code. All business. Yura...he needs a companion, a friend.”

 

Yuuri considered those words for a moment before asking, “And you?”

 

“Me?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “I researched companion contracts.  They involve both the children and the parent in these cases.  What will my duties be towards you?”

 

Victor hadn’t really considered that end of it, but now that he was there with this man, looking in those rich chocolate eyes he had to admit he was starting be interested.  “I...hadn’t really thought about me. I guess...it would be nice to have a friend, someone to talk to at the end of the day. Maybe a plus one at events, not an obligation but sometimes it’s nice not to attend these things alone.”

 

They ate in companionable silence for a few moments before Victor asked, “Do you have a dog?”

 

Yuuri blinked at that.   Do I?   “M-my dog passed away while I was gone.”

 

Victor seemed puzzled, “While you were gone?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  It was a painful memory, one he didn’t want to relive and he answered with little detail.  “I wasn’t allowed to take him when I moved in with my alpha.” Victor’s eyes widened, holding a bit of anger towards that.  Something about that flicker of anger gave Yuuri the ability to continue. “I was gone for ten years before returning to my parents’ home.  In that time, he passed away. I’ve been spending time with the family dog, a poodle named Ren. She’s become fairly attached to me in the short time I’ve been there.”

 

Victor hated to pry too deep but he couldn’t help but ask, “How long?”

 

Yuuri looked up as he gathered his thoughts.  “I’ve been...on my own for around six months.”

 

“If you want to bring your dog, I want you to feel free to do so,” Victor rushed before adding, “that is, if we decide to go through with this.”

 

A soft smile settled on Yuuri’s lips.  “Thank you.”

 

Victor began going through his mental list of topics.  “You have no children.”

 

Yuuri slowly shook his head, his smile disappearing.  “No...I can’t...they never survived the pregnancy.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Victor whispered.  He watched Yuuri close off and noted this was a taboo topic.  “Are you okay...with taking care of children?”

 

Yuuri looked up in surprise and nodded.  “I am...I had hoped to teach when I retired from figure skating.  Well...before him.”

 

“He didn’t let you go to university.”

 

Yuuri shook his head and Victor was getting a clear picture of the controlling environment the omega escaped...through death?  Divorce? He couldn’t be sure.

 

“You’ll have quite a bit of free time during the day.  Maybe once you settle in, you could take classes. You’d probably need to learn Russian first.  Don’t worry. Olga, Nikolai and I all go back and forth between English and Russian...and sometimes French.  Yura has picked up on quite a bit of English.” He paused before admitting, “I’m afraid none of us have picked up Japanese.”

 

Yuuri tilted his head, lips parted as he considered Victor’s words.  “Are you...offering me the position?”

 

Am I?  Did I?  But Victor knew his instincts said yes.  “If you agree to the terms of the contract, then I’ll arrange for passage.”

 

“Do you mind if I have an attorney look it over?”

 

Victor grinned.  Once bitten, twice shy.   “Always a wise move.  I’ll have the contract sent to you and you can have it looked over.  Shall I arrange for a ride home?”

 

Yuuri looked at the door and shifted uncomfortably.  “Unattached omegas travel in pairs when in Tokyo,” he whispered.  “I’ll call Phichit.”

 

Victor frowned.  He hated that Yuuri wasn’t even safe in his own country.  “I will wait with you...or if you feel comfortable, I’ll escort you back to your friend’s home.”

 

Yuuri regarded him thoughtfully and Victor could see a myriad of thoughts going through his head.  “I suppose...if I’m considering entering in your home, I...could let you escort me home.”

 




An hour later, Victor walked Yuuri up to the door of Phichit’s apartment, a protective hand on his back but nothing more intimate.  Yuuri appreciated it and felt it gave him further insight on what to expect living with him.  As Phichit opened the door, Yuuri turned to thank him.  “I will let you know my decision as quickly as possible.”

 

“Thank you.  I feel confident Yura will do well in your care.”  As Victor walked away, Yuuri slipped into Phichit’s apartment.

 

“Well?” Phichit asked excitedly.

 

“He’s offered me the job.  The contract will be sent to me for review.”

 

Phichit broke into movement, hugging Yuuri then diving into his phone to send a series of texts, “I’ll alert my friend!  I’m so happy for you, Yuuri!”

 

Yuuri hugged himself as he found his smile once more.  “Me, too.”

Chapter Text


 

Chapter 3:  My piece of happiness...

 

Yuuri tugged nervously at his sleeves as he waited for his family to join him in the family dining room.  They were at the end of the day and the family often left the staff to finish up the closing procedures. He watched his mother’s tired expression as she placed their meal on the table.  His father and sister sat on either side of him. His mother took her place across from him.

 

As food was passed around, his father broke the silence.  “So what is this news you have for us?”

 

Yuuri put the dish of rice back into the center of the table before answering.  “I’ve...accepted a position as a nanny.” Sort of...close enough .  The other title might make his family worry.

 

His mother blinked in surprise.  His sister tilted her head suspiciously.  His father waited for him to continue.

 

“When I went to Tokyo to visit Phichit, it was for a job interview.  The father is a widower and he needs someone to help with his son. His job requires a lot of travel seasonally, so he wants someone he could leave his child with for extended periods.”

 

“Is this an alpha?” Mari asked, never one to beat around the bush.

 

Yuuri looked at his sister with wide eyes and nodded slowly.  “We’ve both had background checks.”

 

“Yuuri,” his mother said softly, “If someone ran a background check on Shuji, would they have found anything?”

 

No , Yuuri knew they wouldn’t.  “This is different. Phichit knows him...knows of him, at least.  And I...I need to do this. He’s a good man. And...I can go to university while his son is in school.”

 

“Do you mind if I look over the contract?” Yuuri father prodded gently.

 

Yuuri reluctantly stood up and went upstairs to retrieve the contract.   Of course they won’t trust my decisions.  I kept Shuji’s actions from them until it was too late to do anything legally .  But he knew in his heart they just wanted to protect him.  He walked down the stairs slowly, thankful for Ren’s company.  As he sat back down with his family, the poodle wriggled into his lap.

 

Toshiya took the contract and started looking it over as Yuuri continued, “I had it checked out by Phichit’s boyfriend.  He’s an attorney that looks out for omega rights.”

 

“Still, for our peace of mind, let your father read through it,” his mother said gently.

 

His father’s eyes tracked through the document, with a few grunts and mmmhmms before he handed back the contract.  “This is a companion contract. Do you know what that means?”

 

Yuuri nodded, his eyes resting on his hands.  “It means that I’m more of a member of the family than an employee,” he said softly.

 

“It also means that this alpha can court you and you aren’t protected by employment laws.”

 

Yuuri was surprised that his father, a beta, would know this.  “I kn-now. He wants someone to take care of his son. He didn’t make any move towards me during our meeting.”

 

“He wouldn’t, though, would he?” Mari pressed, but her voice had softened.  “You were in public. It’s a different thing inside his home.”

 

Yuuri looked at each of his family members before he closed his eyes.  Sometimes he felt so defeated by his secondary gender. “Stop treating me like an omega!”  He watched his family fall silent, then he calmed. “I...know what happened to me...it wasn’t good.  I never asked for it. But I was a kid when that happened. I...know my instincts, but I took Phichit with me as well.  Both of us felt the sincerity of this alpha.” He knew he had to be just as sincere with his own family, “And I...don’t feel at ease working at the Inn.”

 

He watched the troubled glances between them.  “We could move you to a different job,” his mother suggested.  But Yuuri had worked in all of the jobs. He was still hit on and he didn’t like it.  He felt vulnerable. But he didn’t feel that way with Victor.

 

“I need to stand on my own two feet,” Yuuri continued.  “I need to do this...and there are protection clauses in the contract.  I...want to do this, to at least try.” As he met their eyes, they could see the stubbornness set in.  “It would mean a lot to have your support.”

 

“If this doesn’t work out…” his father began.

 

“Part of this contract guarantees passage home.  That amount is set in trust should I decide to dissolve my end of the contract for any reason.  I’ll come back.”

 

Mari reached over and squeezed his hand.  “I can’t look out for you there.”

 

“Maybe...it’s time for me to learn how to look after myself,” Yuuri suggested.

 

“When...do you leave?” his mother finally asked.

 

“He’s arranging for my travel.  I don’t have much. Just my clothes.”

 

The dog wriggled into his lap and then barked up at him causing them all to laugh.  As they quietened, his mother’s eyes rested on the poodle. “Can you...will he let you take Ren?”

 

“No, I couldn’t,” Yuuri protested.

 

She looked up sharply.  “He won’t let you?” Memories of Yuuri having to leave Vicchan behind settled between them.

 

“No...h-he said it would be okay if I brought a pet.  He has a dog and his son has a cat. But...Ren is your dog.”

 

His father shook his head slowly.  “Ren hasn’t taken to any of us the way she’s taken to you.  She is your dog. Take her.”






Yuuri stared in surprise at his flight itinerary.   First class!  He’d never flown first class.  Shuji kept him at home, and the few times he was dragged along, he was put in omega class while his alpha stretched out up front.  He traced his fingers down the flight arrangements which included accommodations for Ren.  I’m doing this.  It’s really happening.

 

He felt like he’d finally made a decisive move in his life rather than reacting to the events around him.  As he packed his one suitcase, he realized this was the first time he’d been excited in years to pack; excited to be going somewhere and doing something.  Hell, excited at all! He had a crate for Ren and had seen to the poodle’s vet papers.

 

His sister and Minako both insisted on driving him to the airport in Fukuoka.  He was relieved as he didn’t want his last memories of Japan for now to be getting grabbed on the train.  “I can’t believe you will be working as a companion in the Nikiforov home,” Minako buzzed in excitement. “I remember how much of a crush you had on him as a child.”

 

“Maybe...but it didn’t matter,” Yuuri said quietly.  They all knew what he meant. His choices were taken from him.

 

The dance teacher never lost her positivity, it (and the booze) kept her eternally young.  “Still, you get to know him better and who knows?”

 

Yuuri leveled her a look and said firmly, “I’m not looking for romance or an alpha.  This is a job, and an amazing opportunity. I’m hoping this will get me the credentials I need to take on other nanny positions.  I’m going to go to college and study child psychology. If I-I…” He stopped and took a deep breath before continuing. “If I can’t have my own children, maybe I can help someone with theirs.”

 

Both women were quiet for a time before Mari broke through the silence.  “I hope you get all of that, little brother. You deserve your piece of happiness in this world.”

 




Yuuri had never traveled with such attention and care.  First class was way out of his price range but to be able to fly without being hit on and not in the crowded omega class full of screaming children and harried omega mothers was a tremendous relief.  As the darkness filled the cabin, Yuuri slid his sleep mask in place and drifted off.

 




Yuuri gathered his luggage and checked the messages on his phone.   Oh, Victor can’t pick me up.  He’s sending his father-in-law.   Luggage and Ren’s carrier in hand, he walked out to look for his ride and spotted a gruff old man holding a sign up with his name.  “I’m Nikolai,” he introduced. “Yura’s my grandson...he was his mama’s world.”

 

Yuuri was a little intimidated by the man’s introduction, but he could feel that the grandfather was looking out for a little boy who had managed to run off a litany of nannies.  “I promise to take good care of him,” Yuuri stated solemnly.

 

“You’d better,” he responded gruffly.  He loaded Yuuri up in an old pickup which was a far cry from what Yuuri was expecting.  “Vitya has been delayed at work and Yura is at home with Olga. You come with me to the house.”

 

Yuuri rode along taking in his new home, his eyes studying the people they passed on the street.  He’d never lived outside of Japan although he’d traveled with competitions. He had to get his work visa arranged by Victor’s attorney and he took the time for the visa to get a pet passport for Ren.  It had required two more trips to Tokyo, all funded by Victor, to deliver and receive the required documents from the consulate. Now he was here.

 

His eyes widened as the truck pulled up to a single attached residence.  Perhaps not as wealthy as the one he left when he walked away from Shuji but certainly well appointed.  But there was something more. Warmth .  Yuuri didn’t feel fear beyond the normal nervousness of someplace new.  He unfolded from the car as the old man drew up. An older woman stood in the door greeting him.

 

She sounded stern, but her voice held something welcoming.  “I’m Olga, Victor Andreivich’s housekeeper.”

 

Yuuri wrinkled his nose.  “I...thought his name was Nikiforov.”

 

She chuckled and answered, “Andreivich is a patronymic.  It is how we address each other. What is your father’s given name?”  

 

“Toshiya,” Yuuri answered.

 

“So Yuuri Toshiyavich.  There we go.” She guided him inside as she continued, “You’ll have to forgive us old folks.  We hold onto our old ways.”

 

Releasing his toy poodle into the room, he watched as she began to explore the new space.  

 

Yuuri hugged himself, feeling welcome in this warm home.  “Where is...Yura?”

 

“Oh, he’s pouting.”  She turned to survey Yuuri, summing him up under her wrinkled eyes.  “You’ll have fun with that one. Don’t get discouraged. He doesn’t realize that he needs another mother.”

 

Yuuri sighed, looking upstairs where the housekeeper’s eyes trailed.  “Maybe we can start with friends.”

 

He mounted the stairs and walked up to the landing, his ears listening for the sound of a child playing.  A cat ran out of a room and he heard someone cry out “Potya, come back” only to come face to face with a blond child.

 

Yuuri’s heart crawled up his chest as he took in the child regarding him with distrustful eyes.  “I don’t need a Mama!” he declared and then took off after the cat. A chuckle behind him drew his attention back to Olga.

 

“Don’t worry.  He will come around.  All prickly on the outside but he’s soft and gentle on the inside.”  She smiled as Yuuri regained his feet. “Why don’t I show you your room?  You can get settled before Victor Andreivich comes home.”

 

Yuuri found himself ensconced across the hall from the boy.  However, he did have a private bathroom and the closet was as big as his room back home.  “This space...is generous.”

 

“Yes, Victor Andreivich wanted you to be comfortable.  He’s a good man. You don’t have to worry about him.” She waved him to the controls by the door.  “It has a standard lock but both Victor Andreivich and myself have the keys. However, because this is an omega room, it also is equipped with a scent lock.  Should you need complete privacy, such as during your heats, you can activate the scent lock.” She took his arm and set his wrist into the receptacle. “There is a remote device by the bed and an outside device.”

 

Yuuri blinked at the extra precautions taken for his safety and...comfort.  “He...thought of everything.”

 

She laughed warmly and Yuuri knew he would like her.  “He did...four nannies ago. She was an omega and he wanted to make sure she felt secure.  He went through the expense only for her to be gone within three months.”

 

Yuuri had to admit it was admirable Victor would do this for a stranger, and he felt a small pang of jealousy realizing it wasn’t done just for him.  “Why...do they not stay?”

 

“Impatient lot.  They don’t want to take the time to figure out how Yura ticks.”  She considered the little fiery blonde across the hall, locked in his own world.  “He’s a good child once someone takes the time. His teachers adore him...most of the time.  Such an imagination! But he’s got a temper, a tough exterior. Yelena was such a sweet tempered lady, she didn’t believe in corporal punishment.  Vitya agreed.”

 

Yuuri smiled softly at the heavy handed hit.  But he was happy to know they had similar disciplinary beliefs.  “Yelena...his...wife?”

 

“She was sweet, a dancer.  However, her body was weak.  She didn’t fully regain her health after having the boy.  She loved him dearly, though, and wouldn’t have given him up for anything.”  Yuuri heard something in her voice that implied there was more to the mother’s background, something the housekeeper wasn’t sharing.  But the moment was gone as she patted Yuuri’s back and glanced around the room. “I’ll leave you to unpack and get settled then we can talk about anything you need.”

 

Yuuri slowly unpacked, his belongings not coming anywhere near to filling the space.  He could hear Yura racing around, chasing the cat then his cry of glee when the small poodle joined in.  “This is like a baby Makkachin!” Yuuri smiled to himself. He’d seen pictures of Victor, Yura, and their two pets, Potya and Makkachin.  Well, at least poodles are accepted in this home.

 

He then heard a boisterous greeting from the front door and feet scrambling downstairs.  “Yura, your papa’s home!”

 

Yuuri took a deep breath to settle his nerves and went to the rail of the stair.  Victor lifted blue eyes to meet his and his breath caught. Yuuri could almost imagine greeting him as his mate and that unsettled him inside.   This isn’t what I came for...I just need to find my feet.

 

Victor seemed equally transfixed, his voice lost for a moment before the omega’s name leaves Victor’s lips.  “Yuuuuri,” he murmured, “You’re finally here.”

 

The shy Japanese omega descended the stairs.  Yura was annoyed that someone had his Papa’s attention other than him and fidgeted, hanging onto the alpha.  Victor stepped towards the omega and Yuuri moved within reach, his eyes downcast, a shy “hi” on his lips.

 

Victor’s voice softened, “I apologize for not meeting you at the airport.  One of my students was injured and I had to see to them.”

 

Yuuri looked up, curious, “You...teach?”

 

Victor ran through his words, “I guess...yes, I’m their coach.  I still perform in ice shows but I’ve retired from competition. Yura is one of my students but the young ones only spend a few hours during the week on ice.”

 

“My coach is Georgi,” the blond argued, breaking in, jealous of not being the center of attention.  “He coaches me and Mila.”

 

Yuuri smiled shyly, returning his gaze to the small boy.  “I’ll have to acquaint myself with your schedule.”

 

The blond shrugged and ran off chasing Ren and Potya now joined by Makkachin.  “He’s fun,” Victor murmured as he watched his son run off. Turning back to Yuuri, he blushed and shrugged.  “You’re probably wondering what in the hell you’re doing here.”

 

Yuuri’s eyes rested on the door where Yura disappeared.  “I have to admit I didn’t expect…” He waved his hands around the large, well appointed home.  “...all this.”

 

Victor chuckled.  “I’m not worried about finding someone to watch my son.  I have Olga and Nikolai. But...he needs someone...he needs the nurturing of a mother.”

 

“I’ll...do my best,” Yuuri promised.  

 

Victor sighed, his eyes resting on a picture across the room.  “I loved my wife. Yelena was...beautiful and full of grace. She retired from the stage and would teach the dancers at the skate club.  She enjoyed working with the young ones.” He came back to himself an abashed blush touching his cheeks and refocused on Yuuri. “How was your trip?”

 

Yuuri watched the wistful sorrow disappear, replaced by ardent interest.  He found himself smiling at this man, “It was...more than I expected. I normally don’t have that nice of a travel experience.”

 

Victor frowned, “I just remembered what you said about traveling alone in Tokyo and wanted to ensure you didn’t have to worry about fending off unwanted suitors on the trip.”

 

Yuuri smiled, a blush tinting his cheeks.  “Th-thank you. Most would have put me into omega class.”

 

Victor narrowed his eyes.  “What is that?”

 

Yuuri blinked in surprise.  “I guess it’s like coach...but focused on omegas.  Lots of mothers and kids.”

 

Victor frowned and shook his head.  “That sounds exhausting. I think First Class is more appropriate.  Now, are you settled?”

 

“Yes, I’m unpacked and ready to work.”

 

Victor chuckled at his eagerness, his discerning eyes noting the tiredness in Yuuri’s eyes.  “How about dinner? We eat as a family in this house. Olga, when she’s here, as well as Nikolai, Yura, and myself.  Care to join us?”

 

Yuuri hesitantly agreed.  They walked through the kitchen into a dining room set for a casual family dinner.  Victor invited Yuuri to sit at his side and Yura clamored to the other side talking about his day in rapid Russian.  Victor responded in Russian, laughing, warmth in his voice before turning to Yuuri. “He’s telling me about a new student at school.  His name is Otabek.”

 

“Beka!” Yura broke in.  “He’s so cool.”

 

“And three years older than you.  He may be more interested in those his age once he settles in.”

 

Yura shrugged.  “He has a sister my size.”

 

Victor winked towards Yuuri.  “I think someone has a little crush.”

 

Yura’s eyes widened, his cheeks red.  “Nononono. Gross, Papa!”

 

Yuuri hugged himself as he took a few bites of the food in front of him.  Maybe...he was already falling in love with this little one.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 4:   At least out loud I won’t say I’m in love...

 

Yuuri walked Yura up the stairs after sleepy good nights.  “So what now...bath and story?” Yuuri suggested.

 

The blond hellion wrinkled his nose.  “I don’t need a bath.”

 

Yuuri laughed and shook his head.  “I don’t think that’s how it works.  Why don’t you pick out a book and some pajamas while I run your bath.  Do you want bubbles?”

 

“Of course?”  The look the little green eyes gave Yuuri let him know exactly what level of idiot he was for suggesting otherwise.

 

Smiling at the antics of his little charge, Yuuri went into the bathroom and acquainted himself with the oversized tub, then began filling it and finding the basket of toys nearby.  Soon, Yura was back with Spiderman pj’s in hand. He stripped without care and marched his naked tokhis over to Yuuri. The omega shook his head in amusement and lifted him over the edge and into the water.

 

As Yura began acquainting himself with the toys, he frowned when Yuuri settled down to help wash him.  “So you’re going to stay?”

 

Yuuri felt a double meaning in that question, this little boy was used to being abandoned by caretakers who quit before even trying.  He decided to focus on the task at hand, “Did your other nannies leave you unattended?” Yuuri asked in surprise.

 

The blond huffed before shaking his head.  “No, but I’m a big kid.”

 

Handing over a washcloth, “Well, show me how a big kid washes up and maybe I’ll give you some space.  But I won’t leave you alone.”

 

“Fiiiine!”  He took the cloth and began a snapdash wash job and then looked up to see Yuuri’s arms crossed in disapproval.  “What does it matter? I’m just going to get dirty again anyways.”

 

“Anyway, singular.” Yuuri corrected, taking back the cloth and rubbing it with soap then returning it to the boy.  “And dirt carries germs which, over time, breaks the body down and make us sick.”

 

Yuuri watched as the little blonde thought about it before he began to work slowly to remove his dirt being a little more thorough about it.  “Can you wash too much?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “Some do...but they also have to see special doctors called psychiatrists.”

 

Green eyes narrowed at the familiar word, knowing only the simplified stereotype associated with it.  “So...they are crazy.” He dropped the washcloth into the tub. “Well, I’m not crazy.”

 

Yuuri laughed at the decisive action, “You’re also not clean,” Yuuri argued.

 

“Wouldn’t want to get too clean .”  Yura turned his back on Yuuri while he played with some animals made for the tub.

 

Yuuri narrowed his eyes and then pulled out the phone, texting Yuuko.

 

Yuu-chan/ How do I get a five year old to wash up in the bath?

 

Yuuko-chan/ Yuuri!  Is he five? Is he adorable?

 

Yuu-chan/ Yes.  We’re in the bathroom.  This conversation is awkward.

 

Yuuko-chan/ Oh, right.  Rewards. What does he want?  Phrase it like you wanted to do something with him, but you can’t because...

 

Yuuri considered what he had to offer.  Looking at his nails nonchalantly, he bargained, “I was going to read to you after your bath, but I guess if we can’t get you clean in time…”

 

The child turned towards him, sizing him up before shrugging and picking up the washcloth.  He did a much more thorough job of washing and let Yuuri wash his back and hair. As he carefully rinsed the soap from Yura’s hair with care, the blond admitted quietly, “You’re better at that than Ghitta.”

 

Yuuri frowned in confusion, “Ghitta?”

 

“Nanny before Helga, Helga was two nannies before you.  She’d get soap in my eyes and didn’t even care. She was an omega, too.  But I don’t think she cared.”

 

“I’ll do my best not to get soap in your eyes,” Yuuri promised solemnly.  “I grew up at an inn and a spa. Do you know what that is?”

 

Yura slowly shook his head.

 

Yuuri thought of the best way to explain something as complex to a child with no true cultural reference.  “People came there to take baths that made them feel better.”

 

Yura thought for a moment, “So you know how to do this bath thing good?”

 

“Well, not good, and yes.” Yuuri corrected gently.  He watched Yura play with the toys a bit longer then held up a towel.  “Why don’t we dry off so we don’t get too pruney? Then we can read.”

 

Yura remained in the tub, green eyes narrowing.  “Can I...have two books?”

 

Yuuri looked at him thoughtfully before answering, “This time.  But next time you have to wash up without a fight for two books.”

 

“I can do that!”  The little form was standing, reaching out for help out of the tub in an instant.

 

Yuuri chuckled at the enthusiasm.  “Show me, don’t just tell me.” Drying him off thoroughly, he handed Yura the pajamas while he let out the water and spread the towel on the bar to dry.  He turned to find Yura dressed. Sitting on the toilet, Yuuri guided him between his legs while he combed through his young charge’s hair. “Are you growing it long like Papa?”

 

Yura turned a little to look curiously at Yuuri, “Papa’s hair isn’t long.”

 

“It was when he was younger.  Maybe he’ll show you pictures,” Yuuri suggested.

 

He watched shoulder’s squeeze together with barely suppressed excitement.  “Can I go ask him now?”

 

“We’d have to give up a story,” Yuuri stated.  “You have school tomorrow.”

 

Yura tapped his lip as he decided.  Yuuri thought the learned gesture from the father looked even more adorable on the son.  “I think...I want to see Papa with long hair.”

 

They walked down the stairs hand in hand and Yuuri spotted a lamp lit up in the family room.  “Papa may be busy. We’ll have to see what he says,” Yuuri hedged, keeping his voice soft.

 

Victor heard them talking and turned, a heart shape smile erupting upon seeing them together.  “Yura, come to tell me good night?”

 

“Nope!” the little hellion declared.  “I want pictures. Yuuri said you had long hair.”

 

Victor looked startled, his blue eyes going up to Yuuri with surprised, the Japanese omega blushing in response.  “I...did.”

 

Yura had already cleared the distance and was standing before Victor, “Show me!”

 

Sighing, Victor stood up and walked across the room, pulling out a couple of photo albums and moving to the couch.  He sat in the middle so that one could sit on one side and the other on the opposite but when he spotted Yuuri’s hesitance, he declared, “You opened this can of worms.  You will join me in my struggle.”

 

Shifting nervously as he considered his place in the house, he slowly walked towards the pair and took the indicated seat as Victor opened the album.  “You’re going to be a bad influence, I can see that now,” he muttered under his breath but Yuuri could see the sparkle in his blue eyes and relaxed into a grin in response.  “I think I was about...nine when I started growing it out.”

 

Yura peered over the pages, “Did your Papa say it was okay?”

 

“He wasn’t sure at first but my Mama told him it was my hair, my decision.”  He showed the early pictures of him in a dance recital followed by a skate show and they progressed through the album, stopping every so often to tell one story or another.  The clock wound on until Yura was curled up into Victor’s side asleep. “It seems it’s bedtime.” He started to pick up the little sleeping bean when Yuuri interrupted.

 

“Let me,” he said softly, scooping up the little one.

 

Victor watched nervously, seeing Yuuri sway a little under his small son’s weight, his hand going out to steady him from behind.  He really needed to fatten this boy up. “Let me go up with you. It’s been awhile since I’ve tucked him in.”

 

Victor followed Yuuri up the stairs, a protective hand staying on his back.  They settled him into his bed and Yuuri unconsciously ran his wrist over Yura’s pillow next to his cheek.  Victor tucked the blanket around him and then looked around until he found a tiger in a ballet dress. Tucking it under the child’s elbow, he guided Yuuri out of the room.

 

“I owe him a story,” Yuuri said softly.

 

“Trust me, you’ll more than make it up,” Victor chuckled.  “How are you settling?”

 

“Well, it’s just the first day...but I think...I’m going to like it here.”  He could feel the blush rising into his cheeks at the close proximity with his employer.

 

Victor nodded, “Let me know if you need anything, for yourself as well as for Yura.  And if I’m not available, talk to Olga. She shops for the household.”

 

“Okay.  Thank you.”  Nodding towards his door, he added, “It’s been a long day.  I think I’ll turn in early as well.”

 

Victor took a step back and Yuuri thought he saw something sorry in his eyes.  “Okay,” Victor said reluctantly. “Good night.”

 

In the privacy of his room, Yuuri’s mind was racing.   Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.   He pulled out his phone and thought about who to contact.

 

Yuu-chan/ Phichit!

 

Peach/ Yuuuuuriiii!

 

Yuu-chan/ I’m here...and Yura is adorable...and I feel...more together than I have in a long time.

 

Peach/ That’s wonderful...and a certain handsome Russian?

 

Yuuri frowned at the phone, as if the texts could carry his facial expression to his friend.

 

Yuu-chan/ This is a job.

 

Peach/ Sure.  Tell yourself that.

 

Yuu-chan/ Peeeeeeaaach!!!!

 

He showered and dressed in an almost dreamlike state before settling in bed, pulling his blanket up to smell his mother’s scent.  She made sure she scented the old blanket well.  I’m not falling for my boss.  He fell back into the mattress.   Nope!  Not at all.  Turning over on his side, his eyes rested on the door and he thought about the sleeping form across the hall.  But I may be a little in love with his son, though.

 




Yuuri woke up a little while later to a scratching at his door.  At first he thought it was Ren but she was curled up asleep in his bed.  Slipping from the covers, he went to investigate. It was dark and colder than he was used to.  Peeking into the hallway he at first saw nothing until he heard a sniffle. Outside his door stood a sleep disheveled little boy clutching a blanket and stuffed tiger in one arm.

 

“Are you okay?” Yuuri asked, dropping down to his level.

 

Yura shook his head slowly.  “Bad dream,” he whispered.

 

Yuuri scooped the little boy into his arms, surprised when he snuggled into his neck breathing in the scent.  Yuuri held still for a moment, letting the boy find comfort and relax. Then he took a step towards Yura’s door but stopped when he heard a whimper.  Yuuri turned to see the little face scrunch unhappily, “What would you like?”

 

The little voice was sincere, “To sleep with you and Papa.”

 

Yuuri sighed.   Nope, that wasn’t a complicated request at all.   “I don’t sleep with your Papa…” he began.

 

Yura seemed confused by that, which was odd since he knew what room to go to, “But...you’re our omega.  Can’t we just go to his room?”

 

Yuuri nuzzled into the blond hair.  Yep, I’m gone.  This one has my heart for sure.  “I tell you what, you pick who you want for the night.”

 

He was still, his small hand knotted into Yuuri’s sleep shirt.  Yuuri could tell the boy was debating between sleeping with his father but giving up the omega’s scent.  Snuggling back into Yuuri’s neck, he decided. “Maybe tonight I stay here.”

 

Leaving the door open, he carried the boy over to his bed.  Not quite a nest yet as Yuuri wasn’t certain if he were allowed to make one.  He settled Yura into the sheets, tucking the bedding around him before stretching out over the surface.  Lying down next to the boy, Yuuri wrapped the blanket he brought from home around himself. The boy curled into him, his hand once more fisting into Yuuri’s shirt as he tucked under the omega’s chin.  For someone who doesn’t need a mama…

 




Yuuri woke up to Olga singing in the hallway and sat up sleepily, looking at his phone.  It was dark but Yura needed to get ready for school. Then he looked around realizing Yura was gone.  He stepped into his slippers and walked through the open door towards the hallway. Yura was sitting in his room across the hall talking to Potya in Russian.

 

“Good morning, Yura,” the omega greeted warmly.

 

The blond child looked up, his cheeks pink, his eyes full of resolve.  “I sleepwalk.”

 

“Oh...okay,” Yuuri answered, have your fiction if it helps you .  “It’s fine, you know.”

 

Yura didn’t seem to agree but wanted out of the conversation quickly, “I need to go to school.”

 

“Let’s get you ready then.”  Soon he had the uniform laid out and in order, something he was familiar with from growing up in Japan.

 

Yura fought some of the parts of his uniform, namely the tie.  He pouted about the sweater but it was cold outside and Yuuri insisted on an extra layer.   He tried to tell Yuuri he didn’t need socks. Yuuri said he’d hide a surprise in his sock but he couldn’t have it until he was on his way home from school.  He slipped the stick of gum just inside the cuff. Then he marched Yura downstairs to have breakfast.

 

They both ate a bowl of oatmeal but Yura looked across the table critically at Yuuri’s.  “You didn’t eat all of yours.”

 

“I’ll finish it later,” Yuuri promised.  “We’re late and I need to get you to school,” he covered when he spotted the doubtful frown.

 

Then they were out the door.  Olga had described the route and Yura swore he knew the way.  With Ren on lead, they began to make their way down the street.  “Where’s your coat?” Yura asked halfway down the block.

 

“Oh, I guess I forgot to pack it.”  Yuuri covered quickly with a lie. He was hoping no one would notice he didn’t have a coat, nor boots, nor a great deal of clothing.  Perhaps with his first paycheck he could replace some of the items he needed.

 

Yura stopped pulling on Yuuri’s hand and frowning with adult concern, “This is Russia.  You have to have a coat.”

 

Yuuri laughed and tugged him back into motion, “Says the shortstop that refused to wear socks this morning.”

 

“I got a stick of gum out of the deal.”  Yura skipped happily next to his omega. He never had a nanny give him gum, or hold his hand on their way to school...or talk to him.  The Japanese omega even got down to his level and looked him in the eye.

 

“Such a shrewd bargainer,” Yuuri praised.  They walked two blocks, took a right and walked four more before arriving at the front steps.  Yuuri straightened his sweater before sending him inside. “I’ll be here when you get out, okay?”

 

The kindergartener nodded, his eyes going up the steps.  “Oh, there’s Beka! Bye, Yuuri!” and then he was gone.

 

Yuuri watched for awhile, and he didn’t know why he felt a little moisture at the corner of his eyes.  Turning to head back slowly, he thought about his day unsure what he was supposed to do once he left Yura at school.  Victor was long gone, his day starting much earlier.

 

Yuuri had planned to enroll for classes but he wasn’t sure how to do that without a computer, or a credit card, or a school in mind.  Freedom was a wonderful, terrifying thing. Arriving back at the house, he looked around kind of lost until he settled into the kitchen.  “Can I help?”

 

Olga looked up surprised.  “Oh, ummm...sure.” None of the nannies, not even the previous omega, had condescended to even speak with the help.

 

Yuuri shrugged.  “I grew up in my parents’ business, a restaurant and inn.  I’m used to helping where needed.”

 

Olga nodded, impressed.  She was happy to know he understood the value of work.  “Well, I was going to do the shopping, then prep for dinner before making lunch.”

 

Yuuri had nothing to do until Yura got out of school so he fell into step with her, walking down to the market.  He became lost in the quick chatter of Russian but listened and paid attention all the same. Olga noticed his watchful eyes and took the time to teach him the different names of the foods in Russian.  “You won’t get it the first time, Yuuri Toshiyavich, but you will learn,” she reassured him.

 

Once home, he was given the task of peeling vegetables while she chopped, dropping them into a broth on the stove.  “A cold wind will blow in tonight. You’ll appreciate a warm soup for dinner.”

 

For lunch, they had a simple baked chicken and steamed vegetable but Yuuri still didn’t eat all of his serving.  “Are you sick?” Olga fussed.

 

Yuuri shrugged.  “I don’t think my stomach’s on schedule yet.  Give me time,” he murmured, dodging the question.  After he helped clean up, he went down the hall to get his lightweight jacket and walk down to pick up Yura.

 

The walk was slower or maybe he wasn’t distracted by a five-year-old’s chatter.  He felt tired and figured it to be jetlag. He hadn’t taken any catch up time sleeping, but instead jumped right into taking care of Yura.  Reaching the step, he saw the blonde sitting on the step, waiting. Am I late?  A teacher stood nearby and started walking his direction.

 

“Yuuri Katsuki?”

 

Yuuri felt a knot of worry forming, “Umm, yes...I’m the…”

 

“Companion Omega.  We’ve been informed.”  The woman spoke a clipped English and he could tell she was annoyed.  “I’m Yura’s teacher. I was hoping to catch you.”

 

Yuuri squirmed under her scrutiny of him, but felt comforted as Yura left her side to stand close to him, clutching his pant leg.  “What’s wrong?”

 

She sighed, indicating to the little blonde standing half hidden from her view by Yuuri.  “Well, Yura was fighting earlier and we were concerned.”

 

Yuuri continued to listen to her even as he knelt to examine the boy in his charge.  He could see the scrape on his cheek and the darkening around his eye now. “And the other one?”

 

Others ,” she pointed out.  “Some of the students were deriding the new student.”

 

“Otabek,” Yuuri supplied, glancing up her direction.

 

She seemed a little taken aback that Yuuri, a lowly companion omega, would be as forward as he was.  “Ummm, yes...and well, Yura thought he needed to step in.”

 

Yuuri rose, looking directly at her.  “So he was defending another student.”

 

She took a step back, pursing her lips.  “It’s not that simple. Yura...threw the first punch.  That means...he’s suspended for three days.”

 

Yuuri hated rules that were black and white and failed to look at the situation.  However, he was caught in the educational bureaucracy. “Perhaps if the bullying had been curtailed to begin with,” Yuuri stated harshly, “We could have avoided this incident.  However, I will make sure Yura’s father is informed of the situation and keep him on track with his studies. Do you have his work?” Yuuri stood up as he spoke and held out his hands.  The teacher was harried and he hated that he made her day harder but he also hated that Yura was being punished for stepping in when adults failed to do so. She handed him the work. “We’ll return on Friday ready to go.  I’m not sure what his father will say about this.”

 

Green eyes looked up at him, regarding him thoughtfully, before taking Yuuri’s spare hand.  They walked quietly back towards home. Finally, he asked, “You’re not mad at me?”

 

“Nope,” Yuuri said although he was mad.

 

Yura didn’t say anything for another block before he asked, “You seem mad.”

 

“Not at you, Yura.”

 

Entering the home, Yura reluctantly went to the kitchen to get his snack, seeming to want to stay closer to the omega.  Yuuri went to the family room and organized Yura’s work. He then pulled out his phone and sent a message to his sister.

 

Yuu-chan/ How did Mom handle it when you got suspended for fighting?

 

Mari-neesan/ Depended on why I was fighting.

 

Yuu-chan/ Defending me.

 

Mari-neesan/ We talked about what happened and why.  Then we took care of my schoolwork.

 

Yuu-chan/ You didn’t get grounded?

 

Mari-neesan/ Not if the fight was just...even if it wasn’t over you.

 

He was still sitting in the living room when green eyes peeked around the corner.  “Am I in trouble?”

 

Yuuri sighed and patted the sofa beside him.  The blond bundle of energy crawled up and set beside him.  “I’m...not mad at you,” he reiterated. “Today the adults didn’t do their jobs well enough and you got hurt because of it.  That makes me angry. But defending someone that is being picked on...that...is noble.”

 

Yura looked up at the unfamiliar word.  “What...does noble mean?”

 

Yuuri thought how to explain to a child, “It’s like...knights and princes.  They do the right thing even if there are unfair consequences.”

 

Yura nodded, then added brightly, “Like the school sending me home.”

 

“They...have rules.  And sometimes they don’t look at the reason behind the action.  I don’t agree with that but we will take their punishment in stride.”  He paused and brushed the blonde hair down. “What I don’t know is how your father will react.”

 

Yura shrugged.  Neither of them knew what to expect and maybe that put them on pins and needles as they waited for him to come home.  Yura followed Yuuri through the house as he cleaned in nervous energy. Olga stepped out of his way not knowing what was going on in Yuuri’s head.  And maybe Yuuri didn’t know either. He was simply waiting for the shoe to drop. And when Shuji was mad, Yuuri wanted to remove anything else that could add to his anger, making sure everything was perfect.

 

Then Victor came home.  He watched Yuuri’s nervous energy for a moment and then his eyes fell on the little boy hiding behind him.  “What happened?”

 

Yuuri tried to gauge Victor’s mood by his tone but only heard concern.  “Yura was in a fight at school.”

 

Victor went down to his knees and held out his gloved hand towards his son.  “What happened?” he repeated, his eyes fixed on his son.

 

“They were picking on Otabek because he got held back and calling him bad words and the teachers were across the schoolyard not paying attention so I walked in between Beka and the bullies and shoved one...and they hit me back.”

 

Victor sighed as he lifted his son’s chin and studied the damage.  “I’d rather you find a way to handle these things without fighting.”

 

“Sometimes you can’t,” Yura argued.

 

“I know,” he murmured.  “What’s the school say about this?”

 

“He’s suspended for three days,” Yuuri said quietly.

 

Victor held his eyes for a few moments.  “Are you up for this?”

 

Yuuri blinked in surprise.  “I can handle his lessons, if that’s what you’re asking.”

 

Victor smiled at the resolve, but had to point out the obvious problem.  “Well, they’re in Russian.”

 

Yuuri stilled.  He hadn’t thought about that.  “Oh.”

 

Turning back to his son, Victor suggested, “Maybe you can be the teacher for the next three days and show Yuuri what you are learning.  Do you think you can do that?”

 

Yura nodded vigorously.

 

“And if it’s too hard, ask Olga or Grandpa, okay?”

 

“I can do that, Papa,” Yura reassured him.

 

Looking back up to Yuuri, he shrugged.  “This is my son.”

 

“And he’s very noble,” Yuuri said firmly, holding a hand out to Victor.

 

Victor hesitated, but then took the outstretched hand.  Rising to his feet, he followed the two of them into dinner already losing himself into his son’s chatter, but...Yuuri didn’t let go of the hand...and part of him was glad.  He glanced at the picture of Yelena, his eyes almost asking permission. Then something his son said caught his attention.

 

“Yuuri needs a coat, Papa.”

 

“Yura!” the Japanese man protested, dropping Victor’s hand to send his arms fluttering.

 

Victor laughed at the sudden surprise, “Did you not bring a coat to Russia, Yuuri?”

 

Yuuri huffed, dropping his head in shame.  “I don’t have one.”

 

Victor took a long look at Yuuri, noticing the condition of the clothing he wore.  They weren’t shabby but older, and very dulled from too many washings. “Maybe we should take you shopping and help you get properly settled.  I’ve only seen you in workout clothes and as comfortable as they appear, it looks like we need to consider some upgrades.”

 

Yuuri immediately felt uncomfortable at the idea.  “I don’t...really, I’m fine,” Yuuri protested.

 

Placing a hand on Yuuri’s back, he leaned in and stated firmly, “I insist.”

 

Yuuri could see he wasn’t getting out of it.  “I guess...we can take it from my pay?”

 

Victor shook his head.  “We will not take it from your pay.  Room and board is part of our agreement and making sure you are properly clothed is part of board.”

 

“Oh.”  Yuuri didn’t know what to say to that argument.  He knew his mother would say the same, all he would have had to do was say something to them in Japan and they would have taken care of it.  But Yuuri wanted to stand on his own two feet. Letting Victor take care of him...that felt contrary to his goal of independence. “I want...to take care of myself,” he argued stubbornly although his voice was soft.

 

“I know...and I don’t want to take away from that.  However, my job is to make sure everyone in this house has their needs met.  Yura was right to let me know, don’t you agree?”

 

Yuuri’s eyes rested on the boy, his green eyes blinking up at him worried and a little afraid.  “I agree...Yura is very noble and caring. I...don’t want to take away from that.”

 

“Let me call Yakov and I’ll go in late tomorrow.  We can go shopping in the morning.” And then Victor promptly changed the topic closing the matter, something Yuuri noticed the son was picking up on.  Yuuri watched the alpha as they settled around the table not sure what to think about him.  Maybe I could use a few things , he admitted to himself.  He looked across the table and caught a smirk from the green eyed monster.   At least you use your powers for good.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 5:  These are a few of my favorite things…

 

Yura had remained close for the evening, still shadowing all of Yuuri’s steps.  It wasn’t until he was tucking the little blonde in that he found out why.

 

“Are you going to stay?”

 

Yuuri pulled back, a little startled by the question.  The voice was gruff from under the covers, but the little green eyes peeping out from the Lion King comforter were sincere, and frightened.

 

Yuuri rubbed the little tummy, watching the feet wiggle.  “Why do you ask?”

 

“The others, they would have left after today.  Helga said this was above her...pay grate.”

 

Yuuri smiled at the childish misunderstanding, “Pay grade. It’s an expression used by people who are lazy.”  He studied the little boy, who seemed more relaxed but was still worried. “I would like to stay. Would you like that?”

 

The boy relaxed so much Yuuri could have sworn he sunk into the soft mattress.  “Yes.” He blushed, realizing how eager he sounded. “You aren’t too bad.”

 

“You’re not so bad, yourself.”  Yuuri rose to leave but felt a tug at his sleeve.  His eyes watched as Yura pulled his wrist free of the hem and rubbed his ballerina tiger against the gland.  The boy returned to snuggle into his bedding, tiger tucked to his nose. His breathing evened out and Yuuri could tell he had drifted off quickly.

 




The next morning Yuuri stood nervously near the door as Victor talked with Olga and Grandpa.  “Yura would prefer to stay home if that’s okay,” he began looking between the two.

 

Yuuri smiled, the boy had returned to his normal, impish self after he woke and found Yuuri still in his room.  Declaring shopping boring, he had decided Victor could be trusted with his Yuuri for this one day.

 

Olga waved away his concerns.  “He can get a head start on his homework at the table while I’m prepping dinner.”

 

Smiling his beautiful smile, Victor nodded at that plan.  Victor had already donned his coaching jacket, and pulled his heavy wool jacket from the closet for Yuuri.  Draping it over Yuuri’s shoulder he frowned, seeing the omega sag a little under the weight. He’d noticed Yuuri struggling to finish his meals, each time a silly excuse was given.  However, Olga had reported as much for the meals he hadn’t been present for. Maybe this isn’t just depression.

 

Victor placed a supportive hand on Yuuri’s back and guided him to the dark sedan, settling Yuuri into the front seat, brown leather, heated.  Yuuri felt a sigh as he relaxed into it. He was also surprised to sit up front with the alpha, let alone to be seated with such care, Victor reaching over to fasten his seatbelt.

 

Victor came around and took the driver’s seat moving into traffic.  “Do you drive, Yuuri?”

 

The omega shook his head before looking out the window.  “I never had a chance to learn,” he said quietly. “I was eighteen when I went to live with my alpha.  He didn’t see the point.”

 

Victor flicked his eyes quickly to the small framed man who was occupied with the sights they were passing.  “Maybe we can arrange that as well.”

 

Yuuri looked over at him in surprise.  “Oh...I…”

 

Victor heard Yuuri’s struggle, “I know you’re probably overwhelmed with learning a new language already.  We’ll take it step by step.” He took another cautious glance, and saw the younger man relax. “But I want you to be comfortable here and you’ve already expressed concerns about public transportation.”

 

Yuuri nodded and it was true.  All of it. “I wanted to take classes,” he reminded Victor quietly.

 

Victor frowned as he thought about it.  “Maybe you could start out with something online until you have the language down.  There’s a laptop on my desk. I don’t like to bring work home but sometimes it can’t be helped.  However, you are welcome to use it for your classes. It’s not locked, just pull down the desktop.  You’re welcome to take it with you while you work.”

 

Yuuri smiled at the generous offer, but there was a larger problem.  “I don’t...they require a credit card. I looked it up on my phone.”

 

Victor thinned his lips thoughtfully, realizing how cut off the omega had been from the world.  “I have an open card, one that I don’t use but Yelena kept in the house for emergencies. It has a large enough credit limit that you could charge your tuition and books without a problem.”

 

Yuuri started to shake his head, “I can’t…”

 

Victor reached over and settled a hand over Yuuri’s arm.  “I know...you want to do this on your own. I...can take the credit card payments out of your pay.”

 

Yuuri considered the offer, “I’d...need to have it paid off before the next group of classes.”

 

“We’ll work out the payment schedule and get it taken care of.”  He wanted to help this man reclaim something of what was lost, even if he didn’t truly know what he had been through.  “I know this is important to you. I promised you we could make it happen. I’m...just backing the loan of sorts. Besides, as you work and earn credit you’ll have more options for payments in the future. This is to help get you started.”

 

Yuuri studied his hands in his lap before nodding reluctantly.  “I guess...I can work with that.”

 

Victor smiled happily as he pulled into the parking spot.  “This store is one I frequent and they will take good care of you.”  He then frowned as he watched Yuuri nod, abandoning the coat as he left the car.  Thinning his lips, he followed, muttering, “You make it very hard to take care of you.”  The omega was already at the door and out of earshot especially with the wind but Victor could see him shiver violently before going inside.

 

Victor came up behind him at the front entrance.  “The guardian to one of my students works here as an associate.  I always go to her, that way she can get the commission.” He then smiled as the redhead came up and greeted him in Russian.  Victor replied in kind adding, “This is my companion omega that just came to live with us and he needs a decent wardrobe. One suitable for Russia.  I know you’re discrete. Could you...take his sizes in private and allow for growth where possible?”

 

“He’s so thin,” she blanched, her eyes wide.  Then covered her mouth.

 

Victor blushed and felt Yuuri tense next to him, he put a comforting hand on the small of his back noticing that Yuuri settled into the touch.  “He doesn’t speak Russian yet but I’m sure he’s aware we are talking about him. Please work your magic and make him feel at ease. I’m not worried about the cost but...he doesn’t seem to have a lot in the way of clothes.”

 

“Of course.  You know I’ll take care of him.”  Switching to English, she greeted the omega warmly.  “I’m Katya Babicheva and I’ll be taking care of you today.  Let’s step back to the dressing room so I can get your measurements.”  She noticed his uncertain gaze towards Victor and added, “He can come if you would like, or we can go alone.”

 

“I-I would rather just us?” he squeaked, a blush going up to his cheeks.

 

She laughed warmly and tossed back a teasing remark towards Victor.  “Keep him guessing. I like that.”

 

In the dressing room, she pulled out her tape measure and began the process.  She saw the sunken chest, the hip bones that jutted out, the wrists, so thin she could snap them and covered her reaction as best she could.  “You have a slender frame and a smaller stature. Do you skate? Dance?”

 

Yuuri shivered a little, the room was warm, he was just feeling exposed.  “I did both...at one time.”

 

“I thought so.” She put a soft robe over his shoulders, letting him relax.  “My sister Mila is one of Vitya’s students. We’ve been friends for a long time.  I used to take care of his Yelena.”

 

Yuuri nodded as he thought about those words.  “He still misses her, doesn’t he?”

 

The redhead worked quickly, taking and recording his measurements.  “He does...but theirs was a great friendship. He knew her from childhood.  I think his mother and her mother were close friends.”

 

Yuuri processed those words.   Friendship.  “He...hasn’t talked much about her.”

 

Katya rose, she signaled for him to sit in one of the chairs of the fitting room and lowered the robe, measuring his back and chest.  “She...was a fragile creature and when she had Yura, we all knew something had changed in her. She kept losing weight and then they found the cancer.”  She pursed her lips and watched Yuuri take in a breath. “It was too late. So Victor made sure she was comfortable. But Yura...he’s so dedicated to her son.”

 

Her son?   Yuuri frowned at the wording but shook it off as a mistranslation.  He smiled thinking of the little boy back home. “I’m here to take care of Yura...well, mainly.  But Victor doesn’t tell me how to take care of him.”

 

Katya laughed warmly.  “He wouldn’t. He’s the type of alpha who takes care of everyone around him and neglects his own heart.”  Finished with the measurements, Yuuri was startled that she kept him so distracted he didn’t realize it. He looked up as she continued.  “Just be his friend, listen to him and watch his expressions. He’s had to be strong for so long.”

 

Yuuri nodded realizing how much she’s told him.  “You and Yelena…”

 

She smiled remembering her friend, “We’d get coffee together...and when she couldn’t come out as much, I’d go to see her and have tea.  There was a chocolate tea I smuggled her.” She laughed caught in a memory. Then her beautiful eyes turned to Yuuri, “Perhaps you and I can be good friends as well?”

 

Yuuri smiled and hugged himself.  “I think I’d like that.”

 

She extended a hand to him, helping him up. “Now, let’s see what we can find you to wear.”

 

As they walked into the store, she talked to him about lifestyle.

 

Yuuri was surprised again at the options he had.  “Well, I was really physically active before…I would like to regain my active lifestyle...but I need to get stronger.”  He looked down at his wasted figure and said quietly, “I don’t know how to do that.”

 

“In time,” she said quietly with understanding.  “We have to learn new habits in time.”

 

“I didn’t realize how bad it was...until I left him.”  The words came out before he realized it and he covered his mouth.

 

She reached out a comforting hand and gave his a squeeze.  “Don’t worry. Your secrets are safe with me. Let’s see if we can find you something for now...then you can come back to me as you start to overcome your obstacles.”

 

Yuuri nodded in agreement.  She led him through the store and they started with activewear, something he was comfortable with.  Sweats that tied in the front allowing him to gain, t-shirts that were loose but fit his frame, hoodies and pullovers to help him stay warm.  She suggested Underarmour to help him build layers and stay warm without weighing him down. And thermals to go beneath his sweats.

 

Katya smiled thinking it had been too easy with the omega.  He was comfortable in the activewear section but she had to drag him over to more appropriate clothing for going out.  “Now, I know for daily life, Vitya himself will dress casually like this. However, he’s going to want to go out from time to time.  So let’s find you some nicer things.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself and looked around the store.  “How nice?”

 

“Don’t worry, we’re not fitting you for a tux.  Yet.” She winked. “I think we need to get you a couple of pairs of jeans, some button ups, and sweaters.”

 

He looked at the pile doubtfully.  “It’s...already so much.”

 

She turned to face him, her expression open and sincere.  “It’s hard to let someone love us when we’ve gone so long without it.  However, this is important to him. He needs to do this. He needs to know he’s taken care of you.  So let him love you.”

 

Yuuri’s eyes dropped down as he struggled with her words.  Then he lifted his chin and nodded. “Okay.”

 

“Now, this isn’t where Vitya goes for suits or I’d be taking care of you in that department as well.  He’ll probably wait until there is a need. But he did mention a coat.”

 

Yuuri squeaked a little and then whispered, “They are so heavy.”

 

She looked at him with understanding.  “I think I have some lighter weight options that will provide the necessary warmth.”  Soon, he had jeans, a black and blue pair, and button ups and sweaters, underwear, pajamas, a beanie, scarf, gloves, and a coat that wasn’t too weighty but definitely warm.  He was overwhelmed with Victor’s generosity as he didn’t bat an eye at the price.

 

“Let’s get you home so you can get these put away,” he said warmly, making sure Yuuri was wearing the coat and scarf and hat before heading out the door.  Yuuri didn’t know that Victor was satisfied twofold with the purchase because he now made sure his student had plenty to eat. “Katya is a family friend so we always make sure she gets the commission.”

 

“She’s...very kind,” Yuuri said quietly as Victor settled him into the car.   Let him love you .  Those words echoed back and he realized how much Victor found joy in these little attentions, and made a point to start paying attention...and perhaps find a way to return them.  After years trying to figure out ways to stay out of his alpha’s radar, he now found he wanted that attention. From this alpha.

 

Climbing into the driver’s seat, Victor continued to talk about the sales associate.  “She is...Yelena took her under her wing when her parents died, helping her to find a place she could afford and take care of her little sister.  She was also a dancer...at one time...but she knew she couldn’t take care of the two of them on that income. She wasn’t a prima, and sometimes the ballet world is gathering scraps of work while you can.”

 

Yuuri nodded, “She knew I danced and skated…”

 

“She probably noticed your form and posture.  You carry yourself like a dancer.” He was quiet as he negotiated the car into traffic.  “You...don’t dance anymore?”

 

“I’d like to,” Yuuri said quietly.  “And skate...but I mean, I’m almost thirty and haven’t really trained in ten years.”

 

“Sometimes...we do these things because they bring us joy rather than medals.  I can get you on ice...and on a dance floor. You should come with Yura when he has his lessons.”  He held his tongue a bit longer before breaching another difficult topic. “You would be free to stretch out in the rink’s dance studio while Yura is on the ice.  However, I can’t let you on the ice...yet. Yakov has very strict rules, for safety.”

 

Yuuri held his eyes forward before he said quietly, “It’s my weight, isn’t it?”

 

Victor nodded.  “We’ve all noticed your lack of appetite.  I don’t want to pry, but I can’t help if I’m not sure what I’m dealing with here.”

 

Yuuri tried to find the words to explain it to Victor, impossible since he wasn’t sure he could explain it to himself.  “I...want to eat. And I start eating. But then I stop and I just...can’t seem to hold any more.”

 

“Maybe...we can talk to the nutritionist at the center and figure out a healthy approach,” Victor suggested.

 

Yuuri blinked, “Where you work?”

 

“If you’re going to be skating there, it’s part of it,” Victor stated although Yuuri knew otherwise.  Those services were for the athletes training for competition. “You reach your goal weight, though, I’ll make sure you have the skates you need.  Fitted to your feet properly. And then we’ll get you on the ice.”

 

Yuuri blinked up at him in surprise.  “How do you make any money if you are constantly giving it away?”  Yuuri covered his mouth, shocked that he had voiced the thought.

 

However, Victor, far from offended, laughed and shrugged.  “It was never about the money. The house I live in is the city residence for my family, passed from generation to generation.  I do what I love because I can...and my mother raised me to be generous.”

 

Yuuri warmed at the mentioned of Victor’s family. “I’d...like to meet your mother one day...and your father?”

 

Victor laughed warmly.  “He’s the business side of matters but indulgent of my mother’s generosity.  He’s...good to his family and raised me to be aware of those around me.” Then he laughed again, saying, “They do think I’m a bit too informal with the staff.  But we make family where we can.”

 

Yuuri thought about family dinners with Victor and Olga’s teasing, Nikolai’s gruff humor, and then him and Yura and realized that Victor was very different from anyone he’d met.  Yet, he felt like home. Looking out the window, he thought about these things until Victor interrupted his thoughts.

 

“Yelena used that shop for her nesting supplies.  They delivered the things as needed on the schedule she set with them.”

 

“I...I haven’t really nested in a long time.  Shuji saw it as clutter,” Yuuri then covered his mouth, bits and pieces of his previous life leaking out when he was caught unaware.

 

Victor thinned his lips and Yuuri knew there was something he was choosing not to say.  A part of him was thankful. But then Victor continued. “If you want or need to nest, Olga can help you set it up, get the things you need.  You should feel free to express yourself, your gender, as you wish.”

 

Yuuri felt hopeful at the prospect of a nest for his next heat.  They were uncomfortable at best but being surrounded by his scent, and in something soft and safe made it tolerable.  “Before...I nested when anxious or before my heats.”

 

Victor hummed, “I guess we haven’t talked about how to handle your heat schedule.”

 

“I’m not due for another month,” Yuuri said quietly, turning towards the window.  He could feel his cheeks warm with the topic. “I haven’t been allowed suppressants...so I have my heats every three months.  Two to three days.”

 

If Victor had felt awkward about the topic he was completely baffled now.  “Haven’t...been allowed…”

 

Yuuri realized he let something else slip and began to squirm, stressing over his words until he felt a warm hand on his leg, not...intimate, just grounding...like the hand on his back.  “H-he was very restrictive,” Yuuri confessed quietly.

 

Victor pursed his lips, clearly holding in his annoyance at Yuuri’s last alpha.  “I’m not, Yuuri. I want you to find your comfort place. Olga and Nikolai can handle Yura without a problem during your heats.”  Victor’s cheeks turned a little pink and his eyes were LOCKED on the road before them. “Do you...ummm...need anything?”

 

Yuuri furrowed his brow, Need?  Oh! Need!  Yuuri chewed his lip, thinking of how little he brought with him.  His meagre collection of...toys had been tossed by Shuji who insisted that heats were for breeding not pleasure...at least not Yuuri’s pleasure.  “It’s not...something I’d shop for with my...umm…” He trailed off, knowing he was beet red.

 

“Maybe...order online?” Victor suggest, his voice a little high pitched and his words coming out very fast.  “That card...you can get those things, too.”

 

Yuuri kept his eyes straight ahead as well.  “I guess...since we’re taking it out of my pay it would be okay?”

 

Victor nodded, he seemed to relax now that THAT topic had been covered.  “And don’t worry about Olga. She sorts the mail but doesn’t really think anything of it.  I still get...questionable fan mail.”

 

That pulled curious brown eyes Victor’s direction and the alpha chuckled.  “Yes, I get things very inappropriate along with offers to share heats and other...things.  My fans don’t really know me or how much of a serial monogamist I am.”

 

Yuuri thought back to when he was 12 and sent Victor a birthday card.  His own career never truly got off the ground, over before he made an impression on the ice, “I guess...I never got to the point where I had obsessed fans like that.”

 

They arrived home and Victor helped him unload the car depositing the packages on the bed.  Victor’s eyes cast about the room and noted that very little of Yuuri existed in the space. A few pictures similar to the ones he shared with Victor but mostly of his earlier years, all before marriage.  He saw a family picture and could tell he came from loving parents. Of course, Yuuri’s care and concern over his son told him that. But none of them showed him with his alpha.

 

“Feel free to make changes to the room so that it suits you,” Victor encouraged.

 

Yuuri smiled at the offer, but hugged himself as he looked around.  “I guess I didn’t bring much. Maybe...with time?”

 

Victor smiled warmly.  “Of course. I just...want to make sure you know it’s okay.”

 

“Thank you.”  He watched Victor leave, closing the door behind him.  Yuuri sat on the edge of his bed considering how different the two alphas were.  Shuji had only cared for himself, making sure Yuuri knew what a failure he was. Victor put everyone else first, and only wanted to help.

 


 

NOTE:

 

As a parent, my best conversations with my daughter were in the car.  That’s where we delved into those uncomfortable topics because eye contact wasn’t required.  So I made that a safe place for Victor and Yuuri to talk.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 6:  Whiskers on Kittens

 

Yuuri removed tags and prepared to wash a load of laundry.  With the laundry bundled up, he went in search of Olga. Every step was shadowed by Ren who had missed him that day and was now demanding his attention.  Yuuri smiled at the antics of the little dog. She had grown so affectionate at the inn and it only increased after the move. Not that she was starved for attention, Yura loved the tiny dog.  

 

Stooping down, he teased her, petting her head, “Okay, I’m here...go find a toy.”  Understanding the promise of play, she took off searching for her basket of toys. Yuuri looked at the pile of choices she had.   I brought more for you that I did myself.  Finding his smile a little easier than before, he took the time to spend time playing with the poodle thinking sadly of the one he was forced to leave behind.  “You will stay with me...I promise,” he murmured.

 

Her tail wagged happily, chasing after the toy Yuuri tossed bringing it back.  Then a noise sounded in the hall drawing her attention and she went to investigate.  As Yuuri bent down to pick up the laundry basket, he heard the warning yowl of a cat.   Potya .

 

Continuing his search for Olga, Yuuri found himself in previously unexplored spaces downstairs.  Opening a pair of French doors, he gasped. The room was breathtaking. Brightly lit but not glaring, the polished floor shone.  He entered and twirled to face mirrors and a ballet bar. Turning back around, he faced three floor length windows that let in soft light from the wintry yard beyond.  It was small, but Yuuri could tell it was not neglected. Is this what Nikolai does?   He really didn’t know much of the man, just that he was Yelena’s father and he worked somewhere in the home.  The father and daughter were friends of Victor’s parents, though...Yuuri frowned as he thought of pieces that didn’t fit in that picture.  Katya would probably know the truth of it.

 

He turned to leave the room when he heard a weak rustle and went to investigate.  Behind a chaise was a pair of tiny kittens peeking out of a box. Yura .  He wondered if his mischievous charge had rescued them.  It wouldn’t surprise him. He looked for food, water, and litter and further felt certain of it.  The little boy had left adult cat food, which wouldn’t do for ones so young, and while there was no litter to speak of, at least they had water.

 

He gathered them into his arms and went looking for his charge and Olga.   Where is everyone?   He finally found them in a work room, of sorts, but that room held the laundry and a large folding table along with pantry items and other storage.  Yura spotted the kittens in Yuuri’s hands and ducked behind a stack of boxes. Mmmmhmmm, that’s what I thought.

 

He brought the box forward and placed it gently on the table Olga was working at.  “I seem to have found a couple of trespassers, Olga,” Yuuri began, keeping a side-eye on Yura.

 

Olga smirked at his find.  “I wonder how they got here,” she picked up where he left off.  They shared a knowing glance but silently agreed to keep up the charade to see if he would confess.

 

“We might have to take them to the shelter if we don’t figure it out,” Yuuri suggested.  He heard a whimper behind the box.

 

Olga knew her face was hidden from Yura and cracked a smile at the omega she had decided she would like a great deal.  “Oh, I hate those places,” Olga fussed. “Cold, damp. And no telling if they’ll end up in a stew…”

 

Yura came out of hiding.  “They’re mine!” he trilled, his voice high with panic.  “Don’t give them away.”

 

Yuuri, struggling to hide his smirk, knelt down and let Yura cradle one of the kittens.  “We need to get them some kitten food. Potya’s food isn’t good for them. And maybe a litter box.”

 

“Okay,” Yura agreed reluctantly.

 

“Do you want to help me make a more appropriate space for them?  Then maybe someone can get some kitten food from the store.”

 

Yura was thoughtful for a moment, “I think...Grandpa needs to go to town.”

 

Yuuri looked up at Olga for confirmation.  She smiled down at them, “I’ll add it to his list.”

 

He took Yura back to the room where he had found the little pair and together he and Yura began cleaning up the mess, scrubbing the messes left by the kittens.  “Was this your Mama’s room?”

 

Yura looked about the room, little ghosts of memories coming to him.  “Yes...when she got really sick, she’d come here to dance.”

 

They went back and forth to get the supplies and discard the refuse, building a small area for the kittens to climb and play, a food and water station, and a litter zone.  Finally satisfied with their work, they reintroduced the kittens to the space. Yuuri watched Yura play with them, his excited squeals at their antics drawing a smile from his lips.  Yuuri had known enough of Victor to see that the father would welcome these kittens easily, he just had to make sure they were healthy and would get along with the already existing menagerie.

 

Turning back towards the mirror, he thought about Victor’s offer earlier.   Studio time at the rink...why, when this is right here?  Perhaps we aren’t supposed to be there.  “Yura, are we allowed in here?”

 

The boy shrugged.  “No one comes back here anymore.”

 

Yuuri began to feel awkward in this space, something set aside for just Yelena.  Now abandoned, like a shrine. “Not even Olga?”

 

He shook his head.  “This was Mama’s room.  Papa closed the door when she died.”

 

He shivered, suddenly feeling like an intruder.  “Maybe we should move the kittens upstairs.”

 

Yura’s eyes widened and he cried out, “But Papa…”

 

“I’ll talk to Papa...but I don’t want to be in a room your father isn’t ready to face.  I think...that would be disrespectful of his feelings.” He picked up the box with kittens and started moving towards the door.

 

Yura hugged himself as he sorted through those words.  “Okay…” The little boy had lived in the home his entire life, the idea of closed off areas made no sense to him.  But Yuuri was still uncertain where he stood in the house. This intrusion could upset Victor, who had been so kind.

 

It didn’t take them long to transfer their work upstairs, finding a corner for the litter in the bathroom.  Olga insisted the feeding station should be where the other animals ate and the kittens could learn to find the food.  Finally, after an afternoon full of problem solving, Yura crawled into Yuuri’s lap and leaned his head back against the omega’s chest.  “I’m just worn out.”

 

Yuuri chuckled.  “Are you now? Well perhaps if you had just admitted to housing kittens instead of hiding them...”

 

Yura huffed and rubbed his head against Yuuri’s chest, blond hairs sticking out, “ Da ...can I put on my pj’s?

 

Yuuri warmed at the childish ways the boy showed affection.  Thinking about the request, he thought about the father and how he’d have a late evening.  Victor loves to eat as a family.  He spent time with me and now he’s going to be home late.  “Olga, could we push dinner out so that we can eat with Victor?”

 

The housekeeper had been working nearby and narrowed her eyes on Yura, knowing his desire to skip bathtime.  “What will we do about Yura’s bath and bedtime?”

 

“I’m going to flip dinner with bath time...we’ll have a pajama dinner.”

 

She considered his request and then narrowed her eyes.  “So...we all dress in pajamas?”

 

Yuuri grinned at her, “Why not?”

 

She smiled and shrugged.  “I’m game.”

 

Yuuri decided he was going to like Olga, quite a bit.

 




Victor walked in the door, tired from a long afternoon to find his home in disarray.  Yura ran past him giggling wearing pajamas chased by Yuuri...also in pajamas. The latter twirled around, looked him up and down and stated, “You’re overdressed.”

 

Victor followed him further into the room and discovered Nikolai in his striped flannel pajamas, Olga wearing a flannel nightgown, her hair in curlers, his son in his favorite dinosaur pajamas, and Yuuri dressed in a long sleeved blue sleep shirt with matching plaid striped pajama bottoms.  The hem of the pants dragged along the carpet, and the sleeves reached his knuckles. Victor noticed how well blue suited Yuuri...especially pajamas.

 

“Victor Andreivich, dinner is waiting on you,” Olga clucked.  “Get properly dressed and we’ll begin.”

 

Victor snapped out of his concentration on Yuuri...Yuuri’s pajamas...and shrugged at the suggestion.  Never one to be the strict disciplinarian, it shouldn’t surprise him that he lost control of his house.  But Yuuri seemed to be the ringleader. Turning, he went into his room and found a set of pajamas, grey flannels and a black t-shirt.  Slipping on his slippers, he returned and joined his family around the table.

 

“What brought this on?” he asked as dinner was passed around the table.

 

Yuuri shrugged, a blush on his cheeks.  “I just...didn’t think you should eat alone.”

 

Victor’s eyes widened as he realized Yuuri did this...thinking of him.  “Oh...ummm...thank you.” He felt some warmth growing inside as his eyes kept straying to the omega who was now keeping the conversation flowing and lots of laughs filling the air.

 




As dinner broke up, Victor watched Yuuri help Olga clean up.  His attention was pulled by his son. “Will you read to me, Papa?”

 

Victor smiled down, “I’m sure that can be arranged.  Why don’t you bring me down a book?”

 

“TWO books?” he bargained.

 

“As long as it isn’t a novel,” Victor chuckled playfully swatting his behind as the boy took off up the stairs.

 

He was finding his seat in the family room when Yuuri joined him.  “Thank you...for tonight.”

 

Yuuri shrugged and smiled.  “I know family dinner is important to you.  I didn’t want you to give it up because you were taking care of me.”  He then stepped closer and shifted on his feet before whispering, “Thank you for that, by the way.”

 

“It...was my pleasure,” Victor responded.  They were still staring awkwardly at one another when Yura jumped in the middle of them, climbing into Victor’s lap.  “What have we here?”

 

“Berenstein Bears!”

 

Soon Victor was caught up in the antics of Brother and Sister with Papa finding trouble.  Yuuri sat with the laptop balanced on his butterflied knees looking at course options but nearly dropped the computer when he heard Yura at the close of the story, “I want a baby sister.”

 

Victor’s eyes lifted awkwardly when he noticed Yuuri struggling, his entire body tight.  Patting Yura’s leg to get down, he went over to Yuuri’s side and gently set the computer aside, putting a hand on Yuuri’s thigh and another to his face.  “Yuuri?”

 

Those brown eyes began to blink rapidly and he could hear his breathing become jerky.  Turning, Victor commanded Yura, “I need you to go to bed.”

 

The little boy was loathe to leave the omega, “But...Yuuri…”

 

“I’ll take care of him, Yura, but I need to know you’re safe in bed.” Victor checked to see his son rooted to the spot.  He didn’t want to scare the boy but the situation could be very scary if he didn’t leave the room immediately. “Do as I say!  Now!”

 

Yura’s breath hitched and he nodded, a squeaky “okay” in his wake.  Olga came at the raised voice and saw the omega in distress, hurrying to see to the boy.

 

Victor knelt to maintain eye contact, “Yuuri, you’re in a safe place.  I need you to calm down.”

 

Yuuri’s eyes remained unfocused and his breathing barely getting through.

 

“Yuuri, I need you to breathe with me.  Breathe in,” Victor guided but received rapid shallow breaths from the omega.  Finally, sighing, he whispered, “Forgive me. Yuuri I can’t think of another way to help you.”  Gathering the omega into his arms, he settled Yuuri’s head on his shoulder and began releasing calming pheromones.  The body was tense at first but slowly relaxed into Victor’s arms. Yuuri remained still for a long time but Victor could feel the movement of Yuuri’s eyelashes against his neck.  He continued to rub his hand up and down Yuuri’s back, holding him securely, making him feel safe.

 

Finally the omega drew up, his body weary, his eyes downcast.  “Sorry,” he whispered.

 

Victor’s hand stroked into his hair and leaned their foreheads together.  “You don’t have to apologize for this. Does it happen often?”

 

Yuuri felt his emotions bubbling over.  “I...don’t...maybe?”

 

“We have a skater that has anxiety.”  Victor hoped Yuuri would feel safer knowing he wasn’t alone, that Victor understood.  Smiling he lightened his voice, “Of course...I can’t do this with them. Professional lines and all.”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “Companion omega,” he whispered.

 

“Exactly.  I want to respect your space, but I couldn’t bring you back.”

 

“It’s bad...when I have a panic attack,” Yuuri admitted.

 

Victor held onto Yuuri, noticing he wasn’t trying to move from Victor’s embrace, “So...you’re okay...with me doing this if needed?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  Hesitantly, he asked with a blush, “Can I...once more?  To clear my head?”

 

Victor nodded and soon his arms were filled with the omega once more, breathing in his scent while Victor’s hand moved up and down his back.   Oh, Yuuri...what set you off?

 




Victor had scooped Yuuri up in his arms and carried him upstairs, settling him into his bed.  “What about Yura?” the omega tiredly fussed.

 

“He’s fine, Olga tucked him in.  Take care of you for now.” Victor reached for the worn blanket he suspected came from Yuuri’s home and spread it over him.  “Sleep. We’ll all be here and in one piece tomorrow.” He then leaned in and brushed a kiss into Yuuri’s hairline. Pulling back he held those brown eyes for a moment before murmuring, “Good night, Yuuri.  It will be fine come morning.”

 

He felt those eyes follow him as he left the room.  He closed the door softly, listening for the telltale snick of the latch catching.  Walking across the hall, he found a pouting Yura waiting for him. Sitting on the side of his bed, he took the small hands into his.  “I’m sorry I had to send you away.”

 

“He’s my Yuuri, too, Papa,” came the pouty response and Victor could see the remnants of tears.

 

Victor had to hide a smile at the possessive affection his son felt but couldn’t really express correctly.  “He is, baby, I know that. But Yuuri needed my complete attention.”

 

The little boy was working hard to understand what had happened.  “Is he okay?”

 

Victor sighed, he wasn’t sure how to explain what he suspected to his son without upsetting the boy more.  “I think something happened to him before he came to us and maybe a memory took him by surprise.”

 

“A bad memory?”

 

Victor nodded.  “I needed to calm him down.  And now ne needs to sleep. What he experienced just now, that was called a panic attack...and if they are bad enough, they have to go to a hospital.”

 

Large green eyes met Victor’s, “But Yuuri’s okay?”

 

Victor ran a hand over the blond locks, “Yes, Yura, he’s going to be okay.”

 

Victor leaned forward to kiss his son’s cheek before tucking him into bed.  He then handed him his ballerina tiger. As he walked towards the door he stumbled over something moving and looked down with wide eyes at the two kittens wrapped around his feet.  Turning back, he asked, “Do you know anything about these kittens?”

 

“Maybe?” the child squeaked.

 

Victor sighed, lifting them up to study them.  Both tabby, both fluffy, one grey and one orange.  “Do they have names?”

 

“I haven’t decided,” came the small voice.

 

“Well, figure it out.  We’ll need to make a vet’s appointment tomorrow.”

 

Even in the dark he could see his son’s beaming smile, “Okay, Papa!”

 

Pulling his son’s door mostly shut, he looked at the omega’s door, his hand going to his neck, remembering the feel of him in his arms, of him breathing in Victor’s scent.  “Yuuri…”

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 7:  Dancing through my Demons

 

Yuuri woke up in the deep of the night with an uncanny awareness of self...and of the alpha sleeping downstairs.  Somehow Victor’s scent clung to Yuuri’s clothing, mixing with his own. For a moment Yuuri buried his nose in the sleeve of his shirt, inhaling the salt and cedar mix.  The aroma worked its magic, settling him further. For a blissful moment Yuuri felt relaxed, then guilt crept up his spine. It’s a job , he reminded himself.  Looking at the time, he did some quick calculations and knew he could call Phichit.  Pulling out his phone, he used the Skype app to connect with him.

 

Phichit picked up almost immediately, his face full of concern, “Yuuri! Why aren’t you sleeping?”

 

Yuuri pushed himself into the backboard of the bed, chewing his lip.  “Phichit, god, I’m in so much trouble.”

 

The Thai man narrowed his dark eyes.  “What’s going on? If he hurt you, I’m going to kill him!”

 

“Nonononono,” Yuuri protested, eyes flying wide.  “He...wouldn’t. He’s...kind, generous...noble. Like a knight in fairy tales.”  Yuuri sunk into the bed, his light form sliding easily over the soft sheets. “And...I think I’m falling for him.  It’s too soon, though, isn’t it?”

 

Phichit frowned as he considered his friend’s words.  “Well, you liked him before...maybe it’s...just kind of was suspended while you were with him... other him.

 

Yuuri considered the idea.   I had such a crush on you, for so long.  And for a decade I shoved it out of my mind...maybe everything is just coming to the surface.  Yuuri remembered what else was bubbling underneath his skin, “I...I had a panic attack earlier.”

 

Phichit nodded, examining Yuuri’s face through the screen.  “Are you okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded, his expression open to his friend.  “Victor was there.”

 

“How did he handle it?” Phichit asked leaning forward to study his friend.

 

“He took care of me.”  Yuuri hugged himself, remembering how warm it felt in those arms.  “But...Yura...he wants a baby sister. I-I can’t…”

 

Phichit snorted holding up a hand, “Whoa Nelly!  First of all, we are a long ways from babies...sister or otherwise.”  He took a beat and turned softer. “Secondly, you weren’t...in good shape.  It’s no wonder you couldn’t carry a baby to term. I know you hold yourself responsible, but Yuuri, it was him.  And look at that inadequate care you got before and after. So...we don’t know that you can’t. Get healthy and see what happens.”

 

“I don’t think my heart can take another miscarriage, Phichit,” Yuuri murmured, hugging himself with his free arm.  He could feel how even in just this short amount of time his body was relaxed, healthier. But he didn’t know if he would ever be strong enough.

 

Phichit tapped his cheek thoughtfully before answering, “Then consider other options.  Adoption...surrogacy. It’s what gay beta men have to do.” Phichit craned his neck around in the camera, pretending to look around the room.  “Now...how are you settling?”

 

Yuuri smiled at his friend’s antics.  “I think...I think...I’m in love...with all of them.  Can you fall in love with a whole family? Yura...I want him to be mine.  He’s so sweet and spunky. Victor, he is so much more than I ever imagined.  We all knew he was kind and caring, but Phichit he looks after people so well.”  Yuuri laughed, shoving away tears as he realized he was crying. “I even love the housekeeper Olga, Grandpa Nikolai, and the cat...and…and...”

 

Phichit sighed warmly, “Oh, Yuuri...you deserve good things…”

 

Yuuri sniffled as the laughter slowed.  “But...it’s been so hard…”

 

“I know.  What he did to you...it should have never happened.”  Yuuri watched Phichit’s eyes flash with that grey rage he admired, then soften.  “But you are free...free to find happiness.”

 

“I’m scared, Phichit.”  Rolling to his side he whispered to the phone.  “What if...it doesn’t work out?”

 

Phichit winked, “What if it does, Yuuri?”

 

Yuuri wiped his face with his shirt, he knew he was a mess.  “I don’t know how to do this. I’ve never...been able to do this.”

 

“And that’s okay...believe it or not, there is no instruction book.  Just take each day and see what happens.”

 

Yuuri took a deep breath in, organizing his thoughts he started with the thing he wanted most at the moment.  “I...want Yura to love me as a mother, and to support him as his mother would...my heart will break if I mess this up.”

 

“It’s okay to take it slow and easy.”  Phichit felt now was a good time to point out the obvious.  “You just got there.”

 

Yuuri sat up, it’s been a week...not even.   “Oh, my god, Phichit...I just got here!”

 

Phichit chuckled from the other end.  “So...what now?”

 

Right, plans.  I get to make lots and lots of plans.   “I...I’m going to take classes.  Online. And...take care of Yura.  Figure out how to get healthier...Victor said something about a nutritionist.  Learn Russian and how to drive.” Yuuri felt himself trembling with excitement but also terror.  “It’s so much…”

 

“It’s living, Yuuri.”  He knew his friend needed an example.  “Remember when I first moved here and had to learn Japanese?”

 

“Yes...I remember.”  Yuuri smiled remembering how much fun it was explaining the bathroom alone was.  Sneaking out when Shuji was out of town to spend a few days of freedom with the other omega.  Then a thought hit him. “Oh...my heat. It’s in a month. I don’t have...anything.”

 

“That’s not a problem, there are supply stores all over now.  You can even contact them online to deliver. Make a doctor’s appointment in the next two weeks for a check up and another one for afterwards.  Just to make sure you’re okay...and don’t argue.” Phichit saw the rebuttal on Yuuri’s lips and shut it down. He was running through the list of pre-heat items in his head.  His eyes sparkled again, “Hmmm...and what do you have for toys?”

 

Yuuri shook his head, glancing away from the screen.  “I...wasn’t allowed...heats were for... his pleasure.”

 

Phichit seemed a little stunned and Yuuri grew pink with embarrassment.  Both omegas knew how painful heat could be if they weren’t allowed relief.   “Oh, Yuuri...then let’s figure out what you need.”  He could see that Phichit was typing into his computer, chewing his lip as he looked at some options.  “I’m going to link you some of my favorite toys. Some I use with a partner...some I prefer when I’m alone.”

 

“I don’t…” have a partner .

 

“You don’t... yet ...but Yuuri, let yourself have this.”

 

Yuuri nodded and waited for the first link, clicking on it and studying the suggestion.  “Does that dildo have a knotting function?”

 

“Yep!” Phichit said proudly.

 

“I’ll save that for later.  I don’t think I’m ready to think about knotting.”  Yuuri closed his eyes and remembered the painful connection that trapped him to Shuji for long periods of time.   I should start..smaller?  “Something...more simple.  Think about what we would have used before we had an alpha.”

 

Phichit ran through his searches then sent him another link.  “It’s your basic dildo but the size is a little more generous like an alpha.”

 

Yuuri studied the purple monstrosity then nodded.  “Does it come in blue?”

 

Phichit grinned.  “That’s the spirit.”

 

Soon the link came through and Yuuri started building a cart.  Soon, he had a pair of vibrators, one internal and one external, lube, nipple clamps, and a fleshlight.  “God, I hope nobody opens the box by mistake,” Yuuri moaned.

 

Phichit chortled on the other end.  “Maybe Victor will open it...and offer to show you how to use them.”

 

Yuuri covered his face at the thought.  “Oh, god...no!”

 

Sobering, he asked, “Do you have a safe place?”

 

Yuuri looked around his room and nodded.  “I’m basically in an omega den, complete with scent locks.  Only rescue workers can override.”

 

“He takes good care of you,” Phichit murmured.

 

Yuuri hugged his knees.  “Yeah, he does.” He remembered Katya’s words.   Let him love you.   Opening his eyes, he answered both her and Phichit.  “I’m trying.”

 

“I know...and I’m here for you if you need me.”

 

“Thanks, Peach.”

 

“Anytime, Yuu-chan.”

 





Yuuri came down to breakfast and ducked down at the watchful eyes from both Yura and Olga.  “I didn’t mean to oversleep.”

 

“Victor Andreivich left orders for you to sleep as late as needed,” the housekeeper clucked.  “What do you need to take care of today?”

 

Yuuri went through the checklist in his head, “Besides Yura’s lessons...I need to visit the omega store.”

 

Olga smiled nodding, “I know the place.  We can go before shopping and set up an account.”

 

“I’m going with Grandpa to the hardware,” Yura chimed in.  Yuuri noticed the ease the little one spoke with and determined he must have forgotten last night.

 

“Maybe homework after we both are back home?” Yuuri suggested.

 

The little green eyes narrowed, “Will you read to me tonight?”

 

“Of course,” Yuuri chuckled at the born negotiator.

 

A chorus of nods set everyone into motion, attending business.  Yuuri looked up as Nikolai came in, a concerned smile was on his face as he studied Yuuri.   He’s worried about me being able to take care of his grandson .

 

The gruff man’s exterior dropped a little, “Do you mind if I take the boy with me to get supplies?”

 

Yuuri blinked in surprise.   He’s asking me for permission?  “Umm, no, of course not,” Yuuri answered.

 

Nikolai’s eyes lit up, “We should be back before lunch.  I need to fix a leak in Vitya’s bathroom.”

 

“You...do the repairs?”

 

The older man laughed and indicated to the housekeeper, “Pretty much anything Olga doesn’t handle...in return, I get my apartment and a small allowance.”

 

“Have you always…”  Yuuri trailed off, worried he was overstepping his bounds.

 

Nikolai stared at him, his eyes hard for a moment before the old man snorted in laughter.  “Nope. I was the plant manager of one of Andrei Nikiforov’s holdings. I retired and moved  here when Yura came. Victor needed a handyman. This old house is too much to handle on his own.”

 

“I’m sure he’s reassured you’re here,” Yuuri amended quietly.

 

The old man huffed and then guided Yura out to his old truck.  Olga watched the exchange quietly before grabbing her coat and handbag.  “He lost his savings due to a bad investment and had nothing. Thankfully, his wife was no longer living to see him fall.  But Victor found out and brought him here.”

 

Yuuri smiled, that sounds like Victor.   “Have you always been here?”

 

She shrugged.  “My alpha left for the military and never came home.  I lived with my sister then this position came open. Victor Andreivich needs someone to look out for him.   He...spends much of his time looking out for others.”

 

Yuuri shifted nodding towards the door the grandfather had left by, “Do you think...Nikolai was insulted by my question?”

 

She shook her head, smiling sadly.  “I think we all came here from a sad place.  When you are ready, you will share your story.”

 

Yuuri appreciated how she didn’t push him, knowing by all rights she could.  He pulled on his coat, hat, and scarf then grinned when she handed him the gloves.  Soon they were out the door.

 




The omega nesting service was very cut and dry and soon Yuuri had everything ordered to be delivered two weeks before his scheduled heat.  He also had an extra kit for anxious nesting to be delivered at the same time. The sets were both comfortable and very soft, something he was looking forward to trying.  Once that task was accomplished, they went grocery shopping and returned home for meal prep. Yura hadn’t come home yet and Olga was humming quietly, lost in thought. Yuuri thought he was all but forgotten when she asked him, “Are you settling in okay?”

 

Yuuri frowned, caught by surprise then nodded, his eyes wide and sincere.  “It’s been...much easier than I expected. Everyone has worked so hard to make me feel welcome.  I can’t believe Victor couldn’t keep a nanny.”

 

She huffed at that.  “No one wants to work these days.  Yura needs someone who interacts with him, not just keep an eye on him.  I can’t do that...he’s just so much energy.”

 

Yuuri smiled, his eyes dropping shyly.  “I don’t mind spending time with him. I enjoy it.”

 

“Victor Andreivich said if you were up to it, I was to show you how to get to the rink for Yura’s skating and dance lessons.  I don’t drive.” When Yuuri looked at her in surprise, she pointed towards the thick glasses. “It’s the eyes. I’m legally blind.”

 

“Oh...I didn’t realize.”

 

She waved him off before he could be conciliatory, “Most don’t...and I like it that way.  But...if you could take Yura to skate, that would relieve some of my worries. I don’t like to stray too far from home, when it grows darker it’s harder to see.  The only exception is when I visit my sister.”

 

“I can go...I know how to handle public transportation.”  Yuuri assured her. “And usually the undesirable behavior is less when I’m with someone.”  Omegas were often left alone when they were accompanying a child, being seen as the caretaker was evidently a turn off...for scumbags.

 

“I agree...when you get older, they leave you alone more.  But I remember when I was younger…” she shuddered at a memory and pulled a face.

 

Yuuri smiled his appreciation to her.  “If Yura was old enough, we could go on our own the first time.  I just would hate to get lost.”

 

“It is fine.  I’ll show you, and then you can do this for me.”  She turned back to her work.

 

Yuuri smiled softly, and hugged himself at the prospect of studio time.  And maybe... visit with the nutritionist .  He wanted to get better.  Really.

 




St. Petersburg, for a city as large and old as it was, was a marvel of efficiency.  The trip only required two bus changes and Yuuri actually found the schedule printed in English and Cyrillic.  Armed with the correct currency, he led Yura off the bus then watched Olga wave as she got ready to ride back. They would stay until Victor finished his day and go home with him.

 

Yura practically skipped inside, meeting with his teacher and introducing Yuuri.  “This is my Yuuri, he lives with us now.”

 

Yuuri blushed at the introduction and the teacher chuckled.  “I’m Georgi. I work with the Novices and Juniors. I think we may have skated together, though, in my earlier days.”

 

“Oh, um...yes...maybe?”  Yuuri thought the man looked vaguely familiar, but something was missing... eyeshadow!

 

Georgi smiled, he never forgot faces and did recall the man as a younger skater with impeccable technique.  “I thought so when Victor shared your name. My mate, Svetta, teaches third grade so I settled for the younger ones so I could stay closer to home.  We’re expecting our second baby.”

 

Yuuri hid his wince, he knew Georgi only meant to share happiness with him as a friend.  “Oh...um, congratulations?”

 

“I think babies are such a wonderful gift,” he went on effusively missing that Yuuri’s eyes went downcast.  “My first is two, Mikhail. Such a sweet boy.”

 

“Oh...I have my hands full with Yura,” the omega sidestepped.  “Victor said something about a studio?”  Did my voice just go high pitched?

 

Georgi looked like he had been pulled from his thoughts, “Oh, yes...up those stairs and to the right.  If it’s open, the door will be unlocked. Make yourself at home. Yura knows his way around.”

 

“Thank you.”  He took off running, holding in his sobs until he reached the privacy of the studio, locking the door behind him.  He knew the alpha didn’t mean anything...he was still hurting. He didn’t hear Yura tug on Georgi and tell him he made his Yuuri cry.

 

The studio was a beautiful space, a full wall of mirrors on one end with a bar for ballet and more advanced stretching.  Another wall was glass, allowing one to see down the long corridor. This part of the rink was practically vacant, a young girl working on a routine adjacent from him.  But Yuuri still felt the security of the room. Once he cleared his head of tears, he plugged his phone into the port and started playing music. Practiced classical that he had used to warm up since he was a child.  One of the few rituals that Shuji couldn’t take from him. Yuuri had stretched daily, it helped with stress and anxiety. He began running through the rote routine, moving through the positions until he was limber. When he switched to music, he freeformed his dance to work through his demons.  He was unaware he drew someone’s attention, her slender form watching him through the window thoughtfully.

 

Victor stepped up behind her and watched the body move through the music.  “I wondered if he still had the music in him,” Victor murmured quietly.

 

“That kind of talent never dulls, and rarely marries early,” Lilia responded.  Her perfectly narrowed eyebrow rose in suspicion. “I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he was tricked or forced into bonding with his first mate.”

 

Victor grimaced, “I’ve been suspecting the same thing.  He’s let slip a name...Shuji. You don’t think it’s Shuji Kobayashi, do you?”

 

She frowned as she considered the ramifications.  Skating was a small world, made smaller at the international level.  All coaches knew which officials were to be trusted and which...weren’t.  And they guarded their students from them like hawks. “When do you think it happened?”

 

Victor thought about Yuuri’s programs.  “His expressions started becoming more guarded in his mid-teens.  I hate to think...but then again…”

 

Lilia’s expression became harsh when she was angry.  Her cane stamped against the ground as if she were stabbing the man now.  “Another skater disappeared...was it six months? Eight months back?”

 

Victor nodded.  “I want to keep Yuuri safe but do you think his ex has another child, another teen in his hold?”  The skater in question was eighteen. Technically an adult but very much a child. Especially to a man in his mid forties.

 

“I’ll begin making inquiries.”  She turned, headed to Yakov’s office.  This would not be the first time she tasked him with sniffing out the nasty element in their field.  She stopped and spoke over her shoulder, “If what you suspect is true, you might want to get him into counseling.  Abramovich would be my first choice.”

 

Victor turned his eyes to the dancer in the studio.  “I’ve already talked to him about seeing a nutritionist.  I worry it’s also psychological. That man...starved him.”

 

“Monstrous.”  She turned her sharp cheekbones back towards the lovely form floating through motions.  “Make sure he sees the nutritionist. Yakov said to use whatever resources you need.”

 

Victor smiled as the tiny soldier continued on.   I almost pity the person you declare war on.   “Thanks, Lilia…”

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 8:  I hope you dance...

 

Lilia left him behind, heading to Yakov’s office.  Victor watched Yuuri’s graceful form as he continued to embrace the music, classical ballet mixing with modern in a freeform expression of his emotions.  The alpha could see Yuuri’s pain but also his strength. Yuuri refused to be beaten.  You would have been amazing on the ice.  A small tinge of jealousy ran through Victor knowing he had been denied competing against this man.   You would have made gold very hard.   He couldn’t wait to see what Yuuri retained.

 

But first, he needed to get Yuuri healthy.  Pulling out his phone, he reached out to a colleague.  The phone rang twice before a cheerful female voice greeted him.

 

“Victor!  What’s going on?”

 

“Hey, Natasha.  My…” He hesitated, not knowing how to refer to Yuuri.  Sighing, he decided to go with the facts. “My companion omega...I’d like you to visit with him.  He’s having some eating issues.”

 

Over the line he could hear the rustling of papers and the quick scratches of her pencil.  “Oh, when would be a good time?”

 

He mentally crossed his fingers, “Are you available now?”

 

“Now?”  Another pause as she checked her schedule.  “Well...yes. Is he here?”

 

“In Studio 8B.  So yes.” He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing it would be easier to get Yuuri in sooner, rather than allow him to think up excuses to avoid meeting her.

 

“Bring him here.”

 

Victor hesitated interrupting the beautiful dance but it had been twenty minutes since Yuuri’s last break and yet the omega pushed on.   God, that stamina!  Even in the shape you are in.   He knocked sharply and watched as Yuuri settled his movements, drawing his arms into his chest, his eyes lowering as he curved his back into the lowered chin.  Victor stood breathless.

 

Yuuri looked up, meeting his eyes...and then he smiled, moving across to flip the lock.  Victor felt a small thrill vibrate through him knowing Yuuri was pleased to see that he had watched his dance and went as far as to invite him in.  Victor entered the studio as Yuuri toweled off, grabbing his water bottle after.

 

“Thank you for this,” Yuuri responded and Victor could hear the bittersweet happiness in his voice.  “I couldn’t skate...he wouldn’t let me...but I found a way to keep dancing. There was this room in the back of the house, unused and I claimed it.  A quiet place for me. It didn’t require anything so...he didn’t fight me on it.”

 

“I can tell you still danced, you move beautifully and you’ve maintained your flexibility and skill,” Victor commented, his voice gruff causing color to rise into his cheeks.  He then waved towards the room. “This...you’re considered my family You get to use the facilities because I work here. And once your weight is up, once you’re cleared…”

 

Yuuri breathed in, his eyes closing, a dreamlike expression as he whispered, “I can skate.”

 

Victor knew that desire...recovering from an injury or suffering through being banned, he knew that feeling.  “We’ll get you there. That’s...why I’m here.”

 

Brown eyes blinked towards him curiously.  Yuuri removed the dance shoe, worn and broken down from too many years use.  Victor made a mental note to replace them. He watched as Yuuri moved slowly, as if suspicious of what was coming next.

 

“Natasha, the nutritionist, she has an opening.”  He watched Yuuri’s eyes dart around the room, looking for a way out of the conversation.  “Do you think you can meet her...now?”

 

“Now,” Yuuri repeated, his hands on his knees, his eyes forward.  “Now...ummm...now.”

 

Victor knelt before him and placed a grounding hand on his shoulder.  Yuuri’s eyes lifted and Victor continued to reassure him. “She’s just going to help you figure out how to take better care of yourself.  Then you can let us know how to help.”

 

Yuuri nodded and Victor watched him squash his anxiety with resolve.  “I’m ready,” he murmured finally.

 

Leading Yuuri through the maze of the enormous sports complex, he continued to chat lightly about his day, one of the jumps a skater was struggling with, how the zamboni might need replacement, anything to keep Yuuri’s mind busy and away from his panic.  Soon they were there. He greeted Natasha then introduced Yuuri. “Yuuri, this is Natasha. She is amazing...even helped me figure out how to get Yura to eat more vegetables.”

 

After Victor walked off, Yuuri muttered, “He hides them under a napkin.”

 

Natasha snorted in response.  “Well, he’s five.”

 

Yuuri smiled, liking her instantly.  “True. I guess...we should talk.”

 

She nodded, guiding him into her office and closing the door.  “I am a registered dietitian and a nurse. So I do have extensive medical background.  Let’s talk about how you ended up in this place.” She took out a chart and got ready to make notes as he spoke.

 

Yuuri took a deep breath and let it out.  “I...I was in a bad...ummm...not marriage, but my bondmate wasn’t good to me.”

 

“An abusive relationship?” she suggested gently.

 

Yuuri looked at his hands, shrugging.  “He...never physically hurt me...but, well, he’d…”

 

She shifted in her chair slightly, drawing his attention to her.  “Sometimes our partners can be emotionally abusive, controlling us through guilt.”

 

“Maybe?  I mean, I didn’t care...I didn’t want…”  Yuuri released his breath in frustration.  He wasn’t ready to talk about Shuji and how he took his pleasure in Yuuri’s torment.  “I just want to be able to eat...normally. And to gain weight. I want...to skate.”

 

Her smile was warm although he could tell by the corners that she knew there was a lot to his story.  “Well, let’s see what’s keeping you from that goal. It’s a lot easier if we know where we’re going.” They spent the next fifteen minute taking vitals.  However, when it came to the scale, he found he couldn’t step on. He was afraid of that number. She thinned her lips before suggesting, “Why don’t you step on it backwards?  You don’t have to know the number you’re starting at, just how far you have to go. We can monitor you weekly and discuss it if you aren’t making progress.”

 

“O-okay.”  Yuuri turned around and closed his eyes just to be sure.  He heard her humming as he stepped back on the scale as well as the scratch of the pencil.  After a minute, she reset the arms on the balance and had him step off. “H-how bad is it?”

 

She tapped him lightly with a pencil, eliciting a smile.  Then hummed as she did some calculations. “It’s not about good or bad, but moving forward.  To get on the ice, you’re about seven kg from the line...but I’d rather see you gain ten.”

 

Yuuri frowned at the numbers.   So much.  “H-how do I do that when I can’t get past that sixth bite?”

 

She considered his words and what they revealed about the restricted life he lived before coming to her.  However, she wanted his focus on solutions so she asked, “Well, how often do you eat?” She indicated for him to sit again and joined him.

 

He shrugged as if the answer were obvious.  “Three times a day.”

 

She tapped her lip thoughtfully.  Yuuri blinked at the familiar action.  Is that a Russian thing?   “Let’s try this approach.  Let’s double it...you eat six times a day.”  She saw the panic on his face, and held up a hand.  “You aren’t eating six big meals, but smaller portions more often.  Set a timer on your phone. And then practice the one more bite rule.  Don’t look at the entire meal. That can be overwhelming. Eat what makes you comfortable and then take one more bite.”

 

“But...six times a day instead of three.”  That felt like a lot. Too much.

 

“Yes,” she agreed.  She then handed him a food list .  “I want you to be eating these kinds of things when possible.  They are higher calorie and will help you get the most out of your six plus one bites.”

 

“So...it’s not that bad?”  Yuuri felt a little relaxed at the idea.   This is manageable.

 

She thinned her lips and sucked her teeth.  “Well, I’m going to be honest. I am concerned.  In fact, I’m concerned enough that we’re going to walk down and talk to Dr. Romanov and do a quick physical with some blood work.  But...I’ve dealt with worse, and I believe that you can be trusted to work towards your goal of skating again.”

 

Yuuri felt better now that he had an approach to take.  He looked over the foods list and happily found most were familiar.  His mother’s cooking had been high calorie, too. Maybe he could make katsudon on one of Olga’s days off.

 

Dr. Romanov welcomed him warmly and clucked over him when he learned he was Vitya’s companion omega .  “So sad, that boy...and now I see smiles on his lips.”

 

Yuuri blushed and tried to protest the assumption but it was brushed under the rug.  The doctor then examined him. He hummed a frown taking Yuuri’s blood pressure, and that deepened when he checked his pulse.  However once Yuuri took off his shirt, the expression became much more concerned.

 

“You know you are several kilograms underweight,” the doctor commented.  “Are you taking advantage of our services?”

 

He was determined to be confident through this.  “Starting today. I met with Natasha and made a plan for healthy weight gain.  Victor had me bring Yura but I didn’t expect to be seeing the nutritionist and, well, you so soon.”

 

“Well, it’s better sooner than later.  I’d rather get you on track.” He was examining Yuuri’s glands, noting that Yuuri would wince slightly at some pressure.  “How do you feel?”

 

“Feel?  I’m tired a lot but I’m chasing after a five year old.  I get dizzy sometimes. I have no appetite to speak of.”  Yuuri looked at his hands before pushing in with his words.  “I know...I’m underweight. I know I need to eat more. I just...can’t.  I...wasn’t allowed.”

 

This gained him a sharp look by Dr. Romanov.  “What do you mean ‘wasn’t allowed’?” the doctor encouraged, his voice warm and quiet.  The doctor stopped his examination, giving Yuuri a little space.

 

Yuuri pulled on his fingers a little, noticing the swelling of his knuckles.  “My alpha...my first alpha, before I came here...he...wouldn’t let me eat more than small portions.  And when I try now, I feel anxious.”

 

Romanov nodded slowly, pursing his lips.  “Did he...deride you if you ate more?”

 

Yuuri nodded, a blush on his cheeks.  In a soft voice, he added, “I...never wanted to be there to begin with.  I didn’t have a choice. So his suggestion to eat less...well, in my mind, I hoped to disappear.”

 

The doctor stayed quiet for a moment, waiting to see if the omega was alright with the admission.  “He...forced you into mating.”

 

Yuuri nodded, chewing his lips and feeling the heat of shame wash over him.  “I...couldn’t get away. Not until he let me go.” Yuuri huffed a bitter laugh, “Well, not until he tossed me out like trash.  Then I took my papers and ran.”

 

“That was smart,” the doctor reassured him.  “I...want to give you a couple of referrals and I highly recommend you follow up.  The first is to one of our psychiatrists...Abramovich. He’s not a sports psychiatrist although we have those as well.  He catches everyone else. People come from different backgrounds and have their own stories. He will help you find your normal.”

 

Yuuri nodded taking in the information.  Then he lifted soft brown eyes and asked, “And the other?”

 

“An omegologist.  I want to make sure there are no physical damages from your...relationship.  I’m going to run some bloodwork to check your nutritional deficiencies.” He slowed his voice and held out a hand to the younger man.  “If you like, I can also run a standard sexual battery panel.”

 

Yuuri’s eyes shot up to his face, “But I wasn’t…”

 

The doctor leveled a gaze at him and didn’t back down from the ugliness.  “Yes, Yuuri, you were...I don’t know when he took you, but you were...you didn’t go of your own free will.  And I want to make sure he didn’t leave you with any lifelong consequences.”

 

Yuuri gasped, the thought never occurred to him.  “I went to doctors,” he protested.

 

Dr. Romanov grimaced thinking of the faults in his field.  “Often times doctors can only see what they hear from an alpha.  When did you visit a doctor and for what?”

 

Yuuri’s eyes dropped.  “For...my pregnancies. I don’t know what kind of doctor...they were...in the E.R.?”

 

The doctor frowned, making a note on his chart.  “You didn’t see a doctor for regular checkups?” Yuuri shook his head.  “And during your pregnancies, for prenatal visits?” Another slight shrug was all he provided.  “How many times were you pregnant, Yuuri?”

 

“Four,” he answered, a soft whine slipping from his throat.  “None of them survived,” he added in a whisper.

 

Dr. Romanov scribbled notes on his chart and did his best to keep his voice low.  “Did you see a doctor for prenatal care?”

 

Yuuri thought back.  “The first time, to confirm the pregnancy.  That’s when I was pulled from competition. But then I never saw that doctor again.  He...my alpha would switch doctors often. I didn’t see the same one each time. My alpha kept canceling my appointments or not showing up to take me.  I couldn’t go alone as I was never allowed to learn to drive and never had money for public transportation. Then...with the fourth, he said there really wasn’t a point.”  Yuuri quieted for a moment, biting his lip to fight off tears.

 

The doctor turned away, hiding his expression for a moment.   Likely moved him before he could be reported for omega neglect.  Turning back to his patient, he stated, “Even more reason for you to see an omegologist.  I’m going to bring in a lab tech, he will take a blood sample, but I want you to tell me when you are ready.”  Romanov let Yuuri sit for a few moments, steadying himself. When the younger man nodded he called the labtech in to do the blood work.  

 

After giving blood, the doctor returned and revisited the topic of the referral.  “You need to see the omegologist to make sure you are healthy and ready for your next heat.  You also need to be as open with them as you have been with me. They can’t help you if you don’t talk to them.”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “I will.” He was there when I went to the E.R.  They asked him all the questions, and he did all the talking.  I couldn’t have spoken up then. But maybe...now. He stepped into the hallway with his referrals and prescriptions for nutrition supplements along with the papers from Natasha.  He then found his smile as he spotted Victor striding up the hallway with Yura bouncing happily at his side.

 

“You had to go to the doctor?” the blond asked with concern.

 

Yuuri was grateful Dr. Romanov had made sure he was calm before letting him leave his office.  He was able to greet the little blonde with a smile, “I’m okay, Yura...they just need to get to know me better if I’m going to use the facilities.”

 

He looked relieved, turning green eyes to his father.  “I don’t want Yuuri to get sick, too.”

 

Victor’s expression softened, his hand carding into the boy’s hair for a little rustle.  “Yuuri is going to be fine. But seeing doctors is sometimes about making sure everything is alright...early.”

 

Yura frowned then turned back to Yuuri.  “Did they poke you?”

 

Yuuri laughed and answered, “A little.”  He showed Yura the bandaid from where they took blood.  “Not too bad, though.” The child grimaced and then hid behind his father to both adults’ amusement.

 




Yuuri watched the city slip by while Yura chatted with his Papa about his day.  He was only half paying attention, his thoughts on the words of the doctor when he heard Yura say, “Gosha made Yuuri cry.”

 

Yuuri stilled, trying to ignore the intense blue eyes that glanced his direction.  Covering his face, he curled into the door and mumbled, “It’s nothing. Georgi didn’t mean anything.  He mentioned something that brought up a memory.”

 

Victor didn’t push it and Yuuri felt relieved.  Yuuri slowly unfolded as they continued the journey home.  Finally, Yuuri was helping Yura get his things together and head inside.  Victor seemed to take a little longer, a message on his phone distracting him.

 




Chris/ Lunch tomorrow?

 

Victor/ Yes, please.  I want to talk about Yuuri.

 

Chris/ I thought things were going great.

 

Victor watched as the omega helped his son into the house.  The two were playfully tugging a scarf between them as they entered.  Yuuri’s brown eyes called back to him and he smiled his excuse, indicating to the phone.

 

Victor/ They are...it’s just, tomorrow.  Lunch. We’ll talk then.

 




The house was full of warm scents when Victor followed them through the door.  “Olga, are we celebrating?” his voice sang.

 

Her laugh met his.  “I caught a brisket on sale.  Thought you’d all be hungry when you got home.”

 

Soon, they were all around the table, the thin sliced meat served with sauce and vegetables filled the house with a homey aroma that made the family relax into the wintry night.  Even Nikolai groaned in approval.

 

Six bites plus one.  Yuuri began to eat, tasting the braising sauce with the meat, the richness of the meat complementing the country vegetables of carrots, parsnips, and cabbage combined with the onions and mushrooms.  Yuuri began working on his small portions, and lost count of which bite he was on when Victor distracted him asking him about his dance training.

 

Yuuri blinked thinking of his first ballet class as a child, “I trained under Minako Okukawa.  She was a very accomplished dancer and traveled through Europe when she was younger.”

 

“Lilia was talking to me about your form.”  He hoped Yuuri would dance more, perhaps talk with Lilia about it.  “You impressed her...and she doesn’t impress easily.”

 

Yuuri blushed and returned to his meal.   Three, or was it two?  Olga tugged at his attention as he pushed his food around a moment before taking a bite.

 

“I’m leaving in the morning to go see my sister and won’t return until Monday morning.  Do you think you can handle the kitchen?” She spread her hands, hoping he would do this favor.

 

“I’ve got the kitchen,” argued Nikolai.

 

Olga clearly had tried this once before and rejected the idea immediately.  “The mess you leave? I think not. I’d just as soon leave it in Victor Andreivich’s hands.”

 

“Hey!” Victor protested and she just gave him a look.  Sometimes, Yuuri wondered if they worked for Victor or if he worked for them.

 

“I’ll be fine,” Yuuri reassured her.  She seemed satisfied and Yuuri looked down at his plate.   When did I finish it?  Then his eyes widened and he met Victor’s blue eyes, seeing approval there.  He didn’t know if they planned the distractions or not but...it worked. He felt warmer, not just the food filling him, but knowing that the entire family would work together to help him as well.

 

They didn’t talk about it and soon Yuuri was in the whirlwind of getting Yura in his bath and ready for bed.  They read two books and finally Yura stretched and curled on his side. Yuuri settled the blanket around the boy’s shoulders, sliding his wrist on the pillow.  On impulse, he leaned forward, and kissed his blond head, tousling it as he pulled back. He heard a contented sigh. As he left the room, Yura called out, “Good night, Yuuriiii.”

 

He was tired.  The day was emotionally and physically draining.  But he felt a sense of satisfaction.  I finished it!  Heading downstairs, he entered the kitchen now clean and dark except for a small light over the stove and pulled a water bottle out of the refrigerator.  Turning, he jumped before he realized the form that caught his eyes was Victor.

 

Victor held his hands up, “I’m sorry, Yuuri...I didn’t mean to startle you.”

 

Yuuri breathed out, almost laughing at himself.  “It’s okay...I just didn’t know you were there.”

 

Victor held his eyes before tilting his head towards the living room.  “Keep me company for a little bit?”

 

Yuuri felt tired but not so sleepy that he couldn’t sit up with Victor for a bit.  They moved back into the living room and Yuuri took his favorite place on the sofa, pulling the crocheted blanket over him.  He then barely covered his gasp when Victor took the seat next to him.

 

“I want to talk about earlier...in the car,” Victor said softly, and Yuuri felt his breath hitch.  “Gosha...or Georgi...what did he say?”

 

“It was nothing, really,” Yuuri insisted.   Why won’t people just let things go around here?

 

Victor took a breath in, pressing, “I don’t think it is...I can tell you are still upset.  Talk to me.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself and murmured, “It’s just...he was telling me about his kid and then he started talking about how he and his wife are expecting a baby.   The clear joy on his face, and then his love of his children...his family...it sort of became overwhelming...” He sniffed and his vision blurred as Yuuri tried to wipe them away.  The tears kept coming. “I...I couldn’t have mine. I lost them. All of them. And h-he said it was because I was a bad omega. A good omega would be able to carry their children. But...I was so tired.  And it hurt so bad every time I lost one.”

 

“How many times did you go through this?” Victor asked softly and Yuuri realized he had a hand on his back.

 

Moving further into his arms, Yuuri stuttered out, “F-four.”  He rested his head on Victor’s shoulder, tucked under his chin.  That hand continued to run slow circles on his back and Yuuri focused on the motion, shaking, his heart crying.

 

“Oh, Yuuri,” Victor said softly.  “So much pain and heartbreak.” They stayed like that, locked into each other’s arms until Yuuri settled.

 

Finally, Yuuri sat up, shoving his tears away as if they were not warranted.  “I just need to get stronger.”

 

Victor sighed, and took the omega’s small hands in his own.  “You need...to mourn. That...man never allowed you to mourn, and he certainly didn’t mourn with you.  After losing so much, you need to mourn each one.”

 

Yuuri stopped, thinking back.   I could never mourn them.  He was furious with me until it was time to breed again.   “I-I don’t know how.  All I do is cry when I think about them.”

 

Victor squeezed his hands and murmured, “That’s...a start.  Four...that’s a lot of tears to cry.”

 

“I...wasn’t allowed to cry.  He...wouldn’t let me,” Yuuri said quietly.  “I did anyway. In the times when I was alone...but I never truly put them to rest.”

 

Victor thought of how awful it was to lose someone, but compounded with denial made it insufferable.  “One of your referrals is for Dr. Abramovich. I...visited him when I lost Yelena. I didn’t know how to face my tears,” Victor confessed.

 

“So...you think I should go,” Yuuri said quietly.

 

“Yes,” Victor murmured.

 

Yuuri stilled for a moment, looking at Victor, “And...you are fine with it?  It doesn’t make me weak?”

 

“Only the strong find courage to ask for help when they need it.”  Victor squeezed his hands again.

 

Yuuri felt he had a lot to think about and nodded as he slipped out of Victor’s grasp.  “I’m going to bed now.”

 

“Sleep well, Yuuri.”  Victor worried he had pushed too hard, but knew to give the younger man space to work through this.

 

Yuuri’s eyes dropped down before he nodded.  Turning, he went upstairs, his steps slow as he contemplated Victor’s words.   Would he still want me here if the psychiatrist finds out I was a bad omega?  A weak omega? What if I’m unstable?  Slipping into his room, he spotted Ren in her bed.  Reaching down, he pulled her to his heart and he felt the sob release into her curls.  They cuddled into bed while Yuuri shook through his tears.

 

“I’m sorry,” he repeated over and over again.  He didn’t know who he was apologizing to...Victor for leaving his side, Yura for not being his mama, his...babies...for not being strong enough to carry them.  Pulling out his phone, he sent a message.

 

Yuu-chan/ What’s wrong with me?

 

The reply came quick.

 

Peaches/ Nothing.

 

Yuu-chan/ I can’t seem to stop crying.

 

Peaches/ Oh, Yuuri.  You are hurting and need to take the time to heal.  What's going on?

 

Yuu-chan/ I went to see a nutritionist today...and a doctor.  Everything feels so opened up.

 

Peaches/ I’m glad you’re getting help.  You need to learn to take care of yourself.  For a long time, you weren't allowed.

 

Yuu-chan/ But my babies…

 

Peaches/ Loved you...every one of them.  You would never have been able to take care of them there.  You need to learn how to let them go and move forward.

 

Yuuri studied those words and hugged himself.  I need something to help me mourn...and let them go .  Pulling his phone back out, he texted his mother.  He didn’t know if she was up yet but she’d see it when she woke up.

 

Yuu-chan/ Okaasan...help me know how to mourn my babies.




 

 

Victor slowly prepared for bed thinking about all that he suspected and had learned about Yuuri.  He had been through so much and for some, that might scare them away. For Victor, it solidified his resolve to help him through this.  His eyes rested on a picture on his dresser, Yelena holding Yura.

 

“How do I help him?”

 

As the words left his lips, he could hear her laugh as she would answer him, be yourself.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 9:  Tears falling like raindrops on the keys of a piano…

 

Yuuri huffed, blowing his hair out of his face.  The morning had been spent wrestling the five-year-old into his school uniform, getting the backpack together, searching for a book that had “gone missing” and oddly was found stuffed under Yura’s mattress, and then came the battle of wills over socks.  Yuuri wasn’t sure what the boy’s reticence about school was, or maybe it was leaving the home, but he knew it was a conversation for the weekend when the little blonde was in a calmer state. The battle over, he wasn’t sure who won at that point but strongly suspected it was Yura, even though he sat on the bottom step pouting.

 

Yuuri took one last inventory, checking that all of Yura’s schoolwork was organized and tucked away in his backpack.  He then went through the mental list of what he needed to do while out. With Olga leaving, he’d been put in charge of the shopping.  He had the small change purse Olga had given him that held the shopping money for the day. He had a list of ingredients for katsudon, as well as some other staples he wanted to keep in the home for everyday cooking in case Olga was unwell.  The kitchen, cooking, preparing for meals was something he knew he could handle. There was almost something rhythmic to preparing food and cooking it. Yuuri wasn’t worried over this, only about the travel and language barrier inside the stores.  However, he had another task he was going to undertake today, one that would bring up unacknowledged emotions. His mother had sent him a list of what he needed for the shrine. It wasn’t an exhaustive list, nor would any of the items be difficult to find, however it was the purpose that weighed on him.  Finally mourning the loss of his sons and daughter, giving himself over to that grief, was going to hurt. He worried he wouldn’t be able to face it when the time came. He ran fingers against the list in his pocket and felt very overwhelmed at the moment.

 

Nikolai walked in after seeing Olga off.  Taking one look at the scene of a frazzled omega and a stubborn child, he waved to his grandson.  “Why don’t I run you to school?”

 

“Yuuri has to take me,” the five-year-old demanded.  Little green eyes darted to Yuuri’s, but softened when he saw Yuuri’s approval.

 

“You can ride in the big truck,” Yuuri pointed out, knowing how Yura adored pulling up in front of his fancy school in a truck that probably came from the Soviet era.  He appreciated Nikolai watching out for him.

 

The old man leveled a gaze at his grandson.  “Yuuri is doing a fine job but even the best...ah…” the older man’s eyes faltered looking a little embarrassed in his search for the more modern term and knowing nanny wasn’t quite right, “caretakers need a break.  Let’s go.” Yura shrugged, looked once more at Yuuri who nodded in approval, and then skipped out the door. The old man turned back to Yuuri and added, “Maybe you and I can talk about this kitchen business when I get back.  And I’ll take you about your errands. Can’t have you getting lost not knowing the language.”

 

Yuuri blushed and murmured, “Oh, okay...thank you,” appreciating the offer of help.  And then he was alone, something he hadn’t really experienced since arriving. The house was quiet, little Ren was in the living room, sleeping on her favorite spot on the couch.  Yura’s cat Potya had left the room and found a sunny spot to snuggle in contentedly. The kittens were still in the boy’s room, safely living in their small space. Makkachin accompanied Victor to the rink as was her habit. She only stayed behind when her aches and pains had her moving slowly.  Even with the animals, the house felt still.

 

The raven haired man wandered about the kitchen, cleaning Yura’s plate and tucking it away.  He knew Nikolai had some errands to run and it would be a couple of hours before he returned to take him to market.  After a moment of thought, he decided to inventory ingredients and see what he needed for what he planned to prepare over the weekend.  Olga let him know the grocer would deliver the bulk goods that day...in the late afternoon. He knew she put an order in the previous day and left a list on the counter...in Russian.  “ くそ. ”  The small curse slipped past his lips as he studied the words.   Nikolai will be able to help me, but I can’t wait until at least some of these words look familiar.

 

Setting the paper aside, he found his feet leading him down the hall to the room he closed off after discovering the kittens.  He heard the light tap of tiny claws on the polished floor and knew Ren was not far behind. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door.

 

The room was just as beautiful as the other day.  Light poured into the space, softly reflecting on the floors and walls.  He walked along the mirrored wall, his hand sliding down the barre. He closed his eyes and found his center.  Minako, I am so thankful you took the time to instill this in me.  You don’t know how much ballet kept me alive. I couldn’t skate...but I could dance.  Lifting his eyes, he saw himself in the mirror, really looking at the man he was for the first time.   How much of me did he try to chip away?  Did he succeed?  Yuuri looked at his frame, knowing skinny wasn’t the word,he was gaunt, hollowed.  His skin looked better, and he knew that Russia, even with the weather, was suiting him well.  His hair was softer, thicker...and desperately needed a cut. He laughed at some of the fly-away strands sticking up.  He considered his eyes; they lit up with laughter but soon that light faded, and he was left looking haunted. I hope Yura doesn’t see this when he looks at me.  He straightened his position, improved his posture, and grabbing the barre, feeling a confident opinion resonate back from the wood.  He began to work through the positions, opening his hips with first, into fifth, stretching his arms above and behind himself, breathing in time with the motions, hearing the tap of his teacher’s cane in his mind.

 

Limber and warm, he stepped onto the floor,  beginning a series of Fouettés. The feeling of gravity on his body as he leapt and spun, closing his eyes, helped him to give over to the emotion that flowed through him.  In his mind, the memory of a song or perhaps a song he created played, a rambling piano that seemed to tumble out of him, cascading up and down the scales. He struck a chord with sudden power, only to soften it almost into a childlike procession up the range.  The complexity of one section was contrasted by the simple beauty of what followed. His steps showed this, complex footwork moving swift breaking into a slow stretch that demonstrated his power and control. Then the music broke, small drops of rain on the keys, and Yuuri faltered, standing for a moment, before stumbling to a knee and falling onto his hips, catching himself with his hands.  The dance had been a war, not against gravity but his control, and the emotions won, opening the floodgates. Feeling himself break, a sob wretched out of him after months... no…. years of trying to hold it in.

 

He didn’t hear him enter, but he felt the warmth of large, rough hands on his back, pulling him into the older man’s chest, giving Yuuri the nudge he needed to let the rest of it out.  “Cry it out, boy, cry it out...let your heart empty.” The voice was sober, heavily accented and sincere.

 

And Yuuri did, sobbing a hard, violent torrent of tears, clinging to the older man as he let his sorrows free.  Pain. Grief. Anger. Loss. Shame. The heavy emotions blended together, leaving his body with racking sobs, as if he were exorcising them from him.

 

“Let it all out,” Nikolai encouraged.  He gently relaxed his hold on Yuuri as the younger man shifted, his energy failing him, his body laying down on the floor.  A gentle hand maintained the connection, smoothing circles into his back, grounding him into the moment.

 

Yuuri finally stilled, sniffing occasionally, staring ahead of him but not seeing.  Then he started to talk. “I never wanted to be with him...never wanted to mate, not with him, never wanted to get pregnant by him.  But my heart wept for each of my babies, why?”

 

“They were an extension of you, not him.”  Nikolai’s voice was hard, something in this man knowing the pain of an unwanted mate.  “And you loved them, even if you never got to meet. It is so hard to mourn for our children,” Nikolai’s voice murmured softly.  “We are supposed to go first, they are supposed to live long lives, dream big dreams, love deep loves.”

 

Yuuri looked down at his empty hands.  “They...didn’t even get to take a breath...except one...the second one...and then he was gone in the same moment. He was the only one I held.”

 

The man behind him hummed in sympathy.  “Did anyone take a picture? My wife lost two before Yelena and her sister took a picture of her with them...twins...she held onto that picture and sometimes...I’d see her weep for the children she had held close to her heart that day.  The picture helped.”

 

Yuuri’s cheek pressed against the floor, his palm spread over the cool surface before him.   Did...I?  He thought of Phichit, “My best friend was there for that one.  H-he might have a picture.”

 

“It would be a start.”

 

Yuuri thought of the possibility, “And the others?”

 

The hand on his back squeezed as the older man shushed him, “One at a time.  My wife never mourned the children she lost all at once. Except for the twins...but they were of one soul, she would say.  She focused on one at a time.”

 

“There were more?”  Yuuri blinked; as his mind became clearer he remembered Nikolai saying there were two...twins.

 

Nikolai’s breath hitched, were Yuuri to turn he would see this pillar of strength crying as well.  “Two before our Yelena. Three after. My wife decided after that that her heart couldn’t take any more.”

 

“Sometimes...I think that I can’t...but I want… sometimes I want a baby so much…”

 

The hand on Yuuri’s back traveled up, grabbing his shoulder with a firm grasp, “Then you’re not through yet.  Keep fighting for what you want, like my wife did...like my Yelena did.”

 

Yuuri sat up slowly and turned to see the face of the man who had comforted him, held him as he broke.  The tears were no longer there but the trails they left behind still shone. Whoever wrote that Russians were stoic clearly never met any.  He smiled his thanks to the man, then looked around the room guiltily.  “I’m probably not supposed to be in here.”

 

Nikolai’s eyes narrowed in confusing, looking around the room.  “No? Who said that?”

 

Yuuri couldn’t explain it; if Victor had this studio, why encourage him to dance at the rink?  “No one...but Victor, he never suggested…”

 

The old man huffed.  “Likely he never thought about it.”  He saw the confusion on the young man’s face and laughed, “In some ways, Vitya is considerate as hell.  In others, he’s an idiot, missing what’s right before his eyes. Likely as not, he just never thought of this room.”

 

Yuuri chuckled at that, his laugh coming out rough but sincere.  Remembering his list, he asked, “Do you...think you can help me with something?”

 

Nikolai groaned as he rose on old knees, “Sure.  What do you need?”

 

Yuuri followed, this time it was his turn to help the man find his feet.  “I’m...trying to put together an alter of sorts? A shrine?”

 

“Well, I don’t know much about those things.”  He thought of his wife, the tokens she kept to remind her of her losses.  Traditions that his people had might that not fit what this young man needs.  “Let’s talk about what you want and build from there.”

 




After Yuuri shared what he needed, he decided he needed to bathe before going out.  The old man excused himself to tinker with Victor’s leaky shower once more. “Call me when you are ready to leave,” he offered.  “We can pick Yura up from school on the way back.”

 

The omega was thankful that his own shower was in good order, slipping under the steamy rainhead and letting the water wash away his sorrows.  Yuuri smiled at that thought. It would be nice if it were so easy. At least I can wash away the evidence of my pain.  He glided the soap over his skin, smooth and well tended, the lotions provided by his mother when he had left Japan softening the years of neglect away.  I hope I didn’t freak Nikolai out.  Remembering the affection the old man bestowed upon him, how he held Yuuri’s tears while he cried out his heart, he knew the old man was not upset, but merely giving him the space he needed to put himself to rights.

 

Dressing with care, he craved the comfort of the soft clothes that Victor had provided him.   I would prefer to wear something of his, maybe an oversized sweater .  Then he stilled at the thought, realizing he was craving the comforting whiff of the alpha’s scent.  He remembered how the soft fragrance had calmed him through his panic attack, and then smiled thinking of how Victor’s subtle scent clung to clothes.  For a moment he turned, thinking of gathering something that had his... Get it together Katsuki!   Pulling on the sweats and a soft t-shirt, he slipped a hoodie over the top, the soft greys and dark blues calming him.  He quickly dried his hair, combing it into order before retrieving his phone. They still had four hours before picking up Yura.   Would it be enough time?  The shopping list was extensive and he had Victor’s credit card tucked into the change purse, a way to track his personal purchases.

 

Downstairs, Nikolai worked in Victor’s bathroom lilting an old song his own father had hummed while he worked.  He noted when the shower went off, the sound traveling through the old pipes. Old pipes.  That is likely the problem .  He had the pipe wrench in hand and was in the process of breaking the seal when he heard the doorbell.  He paused but really it wasn’t the best time to stop his work. “Yuuri will have to get it,” he muttered to himself.

 

Upstairs, Yuuri heard the doorbell, wrinkling his brow.   We aren’t expecting anyone that I know of.  Not until the afternoon .  He gave his hair another pass with the towel then ran, hopping down the stairs to see to the door.  Through the side windows set next to the door, he spotted a heavyset gentleman around Olga’s age standing expectantly outside.  The bundles under his arm signaled a delivery but Yuuri still felt wary of letting this man in.

 

“Hello?”  Yuuri opened the door cautiously, peering outside.

 

The man smiled, then in the fastest Russian Yuuri had ever heard, fired off what could possibly be a list of food, or maybe the instructions to Operation Deadhand.

 

Yuuri held up his hands only to have a well wrapped goose shoved into them.  He stuttered an apology and moved back, a mistake as the man, still speaking, followed him in with more bundles.

 

“No, I don’t…”

 

The man stopped, gave Yuuri a sharp look and consulted his clipboard, “Nyet, дыня.”  He began his rapid fire cataloging, moving into the kitchen further while Yuuri, unsure what to say followed him helplessly.  At the pantry the man piled a box, pointing at the box and repeating...or maybe not repeating...a series of words.

 

Yuuri pulled back, thinking to settle his goose on the table.   Oh, can’t go there.  He juggled the bird, growing heavier by the moment, “I’ll go ge…”

 

The man seemed thrilled. Communication at last.  He pulled out two cucumbers shoving them on top of the bird already occupying the Japanese man’s arms, “Da!  Огурец.”

 

Large brown eyes narrowed.   This can’t be real life right now.

 

From behind him came a saving call of Russian, Nikolai began speaking to the man, who shifted gears and lost interest in Yuuri immediately.  The two men exchanged talk for a moment, then Nikolai turned leading the man out again, the receipt in hand. But the stalky delivery man insisted on shaking Yuuri’s hand with a farewell.

 

Once the door was closed and order restored, Yuuri, two cucumbers, and a goose stood in the middle of the kitchen wondering how Olga managed.  Nikolai walked in, laughing from deep in his belly at the sight. Crossing the room, he relieved Yuuri of the bird and fruit (cucumbers are fruit).  “So that was Lev, he’s got something of a crush on Olga. I think he was hoping you would put in a good word. He’s been chasing her for years now.”

 

Yuuri snorted a laugh, “I’ll see what I can do.”

 

The two worked together to put the supplies away, Yuuri finally learning of the cold cellar for storing large meats and preserved goods.  He also saw the artistry of Olga’s canning, making a note to ask the woman to teach him. The way she runs this house really is amazing , he appreciated.

 

Clapping his hands together at the completed task, Nikolai asked, “Shall we have an early lunch and then run those errands of yours?”

 

Oh, food...I forgot the second meal .  “I-I think I can put something together,” Yuuri offered.

 

“Oh, good.  I’ll just go clean up the mess I left in Vitya’s shower.  If that doesn’t work, I may have to replace the pipe altogether.”

 

“I used to help my father work on the onsen pumps.”  At the confused look from the old man, he added, “It’s a hot spring.  My parents own and run a hot spring resort and inn. There is even a restaurant attached.”

 

“And you probably filled in where needed,” the old man admired, knowing a hard worker when he saw one.

 

“Yes, well, it was a family business.  We had employees but sometimes it wasn’t enough.”

 

“I might call on you if I need to pull that pipework apart.  Plumbing is my least favorite chore.” Nodding towards the door, he added, “I’ll be back shortly.”

 

Yuuri felt a renewed sense of purpose and began assembling a quick sandwich.  When Nikolai returned, he took one bite. The older man closed his eyes, enjoying the mixture of flavors.  “Mmmm, dill. I didn’t know if you’d think of such things.”

 

Yuuri smiled, the man before him was a lover of the simple in life, and he could appreciate that.  “I’ve been helping Olga since I arrived. I guess...I picked up on it. We use different seasonings in Japan.”

 

Nikolai hummed in interest, then looked at the younger man, “Perhaps you can make us something from your family’s kitchen?”

 

“I’d like that,” Yuuri murmured as he took another bite of the small sandwich.

 

“And while we’re talking about the kitchen...I have to gain access.”  Nikolai’s phrasing sounded like he was requesting the keys to the kingdom but the look on his face was sincere.  “I must pass down the family traditions...and that means piroshkis.”

 

Yuuri chuckled and shrugged.  “I don’t know what that is but if we work together to put things back in order before Olga arrives, I don’t see the problem.”

 

The old man grinned.  “You’ll see. Entirely worth raising Olga’s ire.”

 

Yuuri smiled, not sure if he agreed, but he was in for the adventure all the same.

 

A quick clean up after lunch and they were out the door.  “Why doesn’t Olga order the rest of her shopping?” he asked as he climbed into the truck.

 

Nikolai grunted.  “Has to check some things out herself.  I think it just gives her an excuse to get out.”

 

“Well, I hope I don’t disappoint her trust.”  Yuuri pulled at the cuff of his hoodie.

 

The old man cast dark grey eyes his direction.  “You won’t disappoint her. You’ve more than impressed...both of us.  After those heartless hags that came through here, we are relieved to see someone truly care for our Yura...and that alone is enough to cement you to us.  All of us, not just my Yurashka. You understand this, da?”

 

Yuuri blushed, his eyes staring out the window, bouncing as the truck hit a pothole here or there.   It really must be Soviet era.   “Maybe...I needed to love someone.  Needed to be needed.”

 

The old man grunted once more and Yuuri took that as approval.

 



Their first stop was at a hardware that had reclaimed wood.  “I always like to find something with history for projects like this.  Like they bring their own story in to mingle with yours.”

 

“My mother would say they bring their spirits to protect the home.”  He ran his hands over the maple.

 

Nikolai came over to inspect the piece that seemed to call to the young man.  “That piece has been well loved. We might look at maple, cedar, or possibly beech for your purposes.”

 

“Which...would you use?” Yuuri asked softly.

 

The old man studied the woods for a moment.  “I...made Yelena’s crib out of cedar. You can stain it but I’d just use urethane to bring out its natural grain.”  With Yuuri’s nod, he helped the omega pick out several good pieces for the project and picked up a can of polyurethane in the purchase.  “Now, for the next.”

 

Yuuri paused, working out how to explain it across culture and language.  “It’s...some vessels, like vases and such. Like china?”

 

The old man grunted once more.  “I know a place.” He drove Yuuri to a resale shop and Yuuri was surprised to see the fine china on the shelves.  “Folks give up their heirlooms at times for food on the table.”

 

Yuuri froze a moment.   This is already sorrowful, do I want to bring in items already carrying their own pain?   “I don’t want to build on someone’s heartbreak,” Yuuri argued.

 

Nikolai saw the hesitance in the younger man, and reached out to him, “You could see it like that...or you could see it as an honest trade.  Over here, these aren’t valuable but they might have allowed someone to buy a wedding ring for their sweetheart. These all had a purpose at one point, now they have lost that.  They could be redeemed by you.”

 

Yuuri smiled at how the old man created stories for the objects he pointed out much like how the omega once created stories on the ice.  “I like this,” he said quietly. The selection he made was delicate white china, pure and simple, the shape elegant.

 

Once more, Yuuri left the store with his bundle.  He knew his mother was sending what he wouldn’t be able to find in the store, but this was a start and with Nikolai’s guidance, he’d be able to create what he needed.

 

They stopped at the market last, picking up the things Yuuri needed with Nikolai reading the labels for him.  “I’ve taken you from all of your chores,” Yuuri fussed at one point.

 

The old man chuckled.  “I don’t have a schedule.  It’s nice to get out like this.  And I know Vitya would want you to have this.”

 

“Thank you,” Yuuri murmured, hugging himself before gathering the last of his goods.  Checking his phone as he checked out, he knew it was drawing near time to pick up Yura.  The afternoon had been spent but he felt it was well worth it.



The old truck pulled up in front of the school and Yuuri spotted the blond who looked both excited and disappointed.  Opening the door and stepping out, however, he watched the boy perk up and break into a sprint to meet Yuuri. “How was your day?” The omega greeted, his hands smoothing out the blond flyaways.

 

“It was fine,” Yura answered, Yuuri felt a lie in the statement.  “Better, now.” Yuuri bundled the boy into the middle of the bench seat of the truck and they lumbered back home.  Maybe he could pry out of the child what was going on sometime over the weekend.






Notes:

 

On the grief of miscarriage:

https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/blog/2017/09/grief-miscarriage

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/unpregnant-the-silent-secret-grief-of-miscarriage/article27576775/

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/miscarriage.aspx

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/miscarriage-the-loneliest-grief-of-all-1516750.html

https://www.verywellfamily.com/stages-of-pregnancy-loss-grief-miscarriage-grief-2371330

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-s-mental-health-matters/201510/when-you-are-grieving-after-miscarriage

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/notes-self/201210/real-stages-grief

 

On rituals and shrines for recovery:

https://www.npr.org/2015/08/15/429761386/adopting-a-buddhist-ritual-to-mourn-miscarriage-abortion

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/well/family/the-japanese-art-of-grieving-a-miscarriage.html

https://www.thisisinsider.com/japan-buddhist-tradition-jizo-grieving-miscarriage-lost-pregnancy-2018-10

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/shrine-altar-grief-healing/

https://modernloss.com/mizuko-kuyo-japans-powerful-pregnancy-loss-ritual/

 

On Shinto and Buddhism:

https://www.wikihow.com/Set-up-a-Kamidana

http://www.econdolence.com/learn/articles/shinto-understanding-shinto/

https://jpnreligions.weebly.com/household-rituals.html

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/pagantama/2017/01/22/anatomy-kamidana-shinto/

https://www.finewoodworking.com/readerproject/2015/06/01/butsudan-japanese-altar

 

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 10:  For a son, for a brother, for a friend...for a mom...

 

Hiroko reached for her phone as she woke up, the text had come through in the wee hours and unfortunately had gone unnoticed in her sleep.  She brushed aside her bangs and brought the screen within inches of her nose, not wanting to reach for glasses. Her eyes brightened as she read the words from her son.  A small sob escaped her lips before she could cover her mouth to stop it. Next to her she felt her husband stir and then his warm hand was on her shoulder, pulling her towards him.  With a hitch in her voice, “He’s going to be okay.”

 

Toshiya smiled, happily hearing what he already knew.  Rising from the bed, “Perhaps...he feels safer far away from that bastard,” Toshiya answered.  He pulled on his clothes for the day, then stopped, considering his family. “Best let Mari know.”

 

Hiroko lay in bed, answering the text, a smile playing across her lips as she tapped out her reply.

 

Hiroko/ Sweetie, I’d love to help you figure your way through this.  Let’s start with an altar or shrine, a place to leave your sorrows.

 

His reply came through immediately.

 

Yuu-chan/ Thank you, Okaasan.  I don’t know where to start.

 

Hiroko rose, thinking of her day and got ready quickly.  As she entered her workspace, she called Mari into the kitchen.  “Your brother...he’s finally ready to mourn his babies. Can you get these things for me?  He won’t be able to find them where he’s at.” She handed the older sister the list.

 

Mari was stoic as always, keeping her emotions under tight control.  But Hiroko saw a twitch around her daughter’s eye when she said, “You know, we all had gifts for those babies.  Maybe there would be something in those things.”

 

“I...know.”  She reached out, patting Mari’s hand.  “I gathered them into a box in case Yuuri would want them later.  Especially...after the boy.”

 

Mari cleared her throat, covering up her grief in her own manner.  “I know Minako had a tutu for the first,” Mari reminded her.

 

“And I think Yuuko made some booties for the third.”  Hiroko smiled, thinking of all the love these little children would have had were circumstances different for Yuuri.

 

They then put their heads together...something for the fourth child, the one that never stood a chance.  “I have...something. It’s a little something, a rattle that belonged to Yuuri,” Hiroko suggested.

 

A call to Yuuko, and the cheery mother stopped by, triplets in tow.  “So what are we working on?” she asked, her eyes dancing.

 

Hiroko waited until the three girls were amusing themself with reorganizing the souvenir display, then leaned in to Yuuko.  “A...memory box. Something to send Yuuri for him to go through as he mourns his babies.”

 

Yuuko’s soft brown eyes fell, a soft ‘Yuuri’ passing from lips as she thought her of friend’s sorrow.  Then she lifted them brightly, “Have you contacted Phichit?”

 

The mother blinked her eyes in surprise.  “I have not!”

 

“I can do that for you.”  Yuuko smiled over a cup of tea, “Phichit and I commiserate often over Yuu-chan.”

 

“Thank you,” Hiroko said softly.

 




At her home, a trio of girls following her steps, she began gathering scraps of memories, calling Phichit as she walked through the house.  “We’re putting together a memory box for the babies! I’ve got the dress I made for his first, she was a girl...and a blanket I crocheted for his fourth.  There are booties around here somewhere.”

 

Down the line he heard Phichit click his tongue, “You must have talked to Yuuri.  He sent me a text half an hour ago asking for a picture of the baby. The one that breathed.”

 

Yuuko brightened with hope, “You have one?”

 

“I do...I was there each time he lost his babies.  Someone had to be and that piece of shit wasn’t going to step up.”  She heard his voice hardened at the end.

 

Yuuko considered what support Shuji would have offered were he there.  “It’s probably best he didn’t.” She shuddered thinking of that man with someone like Yuuri.  Nishigori was gruff and blustering to everyone else, but to her, and their girls, he was a gentle kitten.   That’s what a true alpha should be.  “What else do you have?”

 




Off in Tokyo, Phichit rustled through some things, reaching far into the back of a closet before he pulled out his own Yuuri box.  Pausing he ran a hand over the folded cover, silently taking a moment to pray he will never again add a sorrowful memory to this box.  “I have...his ID bracelets for each hospital visit, the bracelet of the baby he lost, the blanket and cap they wrapped the baby in, the photo of Yuuri holding the baby, a silver brush he bought for the first, and a blanket I stitched for the last one.”  Phichit’s fingers found the little cap and held it out. So tiny...will my children...

 

“That sounds amazing.”  Yuuko’s voice buzzed in his ear, interrupting his thoughts.  “Can you ship those things here? Either to me or his mother!”

 

He pulled himself from his thoughts.  Kissing the little hat he placed it back in the box.  “I can. I’ll put them together and overnight them.”

 

Her voice was rich with warmth, “You’re amazing!”

 




Two hours later, Hiroko had the items for the shrine, the kamifuda, the mizuire, a Jizo statue, each object wrapped with great care and placed into the box that would be sent to her son.   She went to her room and pulled out a box, taking out the things that she had made for these grandchildren, then tucked away with care.  Now she was looking at each and wrapping it for travel. May you find healing in these tokens and not more pain .  She thought of her son and how he had merely existed over the past months.  Like a ghost walking through life, only leaving the inn if someone or something dragged him from its safe confines, dancing or skating when the spaces were deserted.  Even as he took steps forward, something would happen to cause him to retreat. His eyes would tell her of the sorrow he carried, and the fear of the unwritten future.  She’d been afraid to let him go when he told her his plan but she had also been afraid for him if he stayed. He had been stuck, and this move to Russia with its challenges had helped him.  With her own prayers, she added her offerings to the box and waited for the rest.

 

Minako stopped by later, carrying a few things she’d gathered for the babies of her favorite student.  “It’s not much,” she fussed. Hiroko knew better. The woman who claimed to never be the mothering type had played the role well for her son, giving Yuuri what he needed when Hiroko could not.

 

“I’m sure Yuuri will appreciate the good thoughts that went into each object,” Hiroko reassured her.  Minako reluctantly relinquished her items and Hiroko watched her friend’s spirit lift...at least a little.  Much like Yuuri, they had all been holding onto their grief stored into these small treasures, unable to move forward.  Grief for the babies lost, grief for the omega enslaved by a cruel alpha. Hiroko realized that this was something they needed just as badly as Yuuri.

 

Yuuko arrived later bringing more to add to the box.  Slightly embarrassed she offered, “The girls...they wanted to bring something as well.  Do you mind?”

 

Hiroko’s eyes were soft, accepting the offerings from the young mother’s family.   Yuuri, so much love surrounds you.   “I’m sure Yuuri would treasure each one,” Hiroko encouraged.  Small trinkets went into the box from their small hands. “Now, what are we waiting for?”

 

“Phichit...he’s expressing some things to you.”  She paused, thinking of Yuuri alone in a hospital, no alpha, no family.   Thank goodness for you, Phichit.   “They...are from the hospital and things he shopped with Yuuri for the babies.”

 

Hiroko smiled, comforted that his friend stood by him at that time.  “That sounds like the finishing touches. I’ll mail the boxes as soon as they arrive...maybe he can get it fairly quickly.”

 

“I’m so afraid they will be held up in customs,” Yuuko fussed.

 

“We will pray warm thoughts over this gift,” Hiroko guided her and they continued to bless each item within the box.  She would send it off after Phichit’s additions were in the box.

 




The blonde watched the other children running about the playground.  Their chatter drifted over to him, but he only looked away, digging his foot into the dirt in front of him.  He sat away from the other kids and ignored the worried glances given by his teachers. They had stopped trying to get him to join in after the first two weeks and he was happy to be left alone.  Beside, after the conversations with his own teacher this entire week, he knew they didn’t really care. Yura was thinking of the latest talk that bordered on a shouting match when he started as a tall figure dropped into the grass next to him.

 

“What’s up?”  The little boy next to him ran his hands through the soft grass, it was cold enough to stay in, but Russians loved to defy the weather.

 

“Nothing,” he answered.  He smiled at the new student’s appearance.  He knew the school’s opinion of him had flipped after he proved himself excellent at dodgeball.  Otabek, true to form, was cold but polite to those who had teased him and stuck with Yura. However the smile left, and he frowned.  “Are you going to talk about your mom for parents’ day?”

 

Otabek shrugged.  Looking ahead of them at the others playing a nondescript game of catch.  “I mean...which one would I pick?”

 

Yura clucked his tongue, “I mean...your real mom.”

 

Otabek smiled, knowing the little blonde meant no harm, “They are all my real moms.  But I know you meant my birth mom, and I could. I mean, she was amazing.” He smiled, thinking of his mother.  “But it’s kind of a bummer to talk about someone who is dead. So I might talk about my other moms.”

 

“Yeah, I suppose,” Yura sighed.  He was looking for something in his friend’s confidence.

 

Otabek let him sit for a moment, before prompting.  “You want to talk about your mom?”

 

The blond shook his head, hair flying out in the action.  “I want...to talk about my Yuuri,” the voice was determined, full of the fiery passion he had to bottle up earlier.  “But the teacher said Yuuri’s not a parent.”

 

“Oh, that sucks.”  The little Kazak boy sighed, keeping his mouth shut.  He had overheard some not choice comments about his own family, specifically his father.  Plural marriages were not common, even though they were legally recognized. Otabek stared across the playground thoughtfully.  After a moment, he said, “You could do it anyway.”

 

Yura sat up a little, looking at his friend’s dark eyes.  “I’d get a bad grade!” Yura argued, green eyes wide.

 

The older student grinned and nodded.  “Yep! You would, but you’d also be kind of badass!”

 

Yura’s eyes widened at the use of the curse word, a mischievous smile played on his lips.  Then he hugged his knees, turning thoughtful again. He really wanted to talk about his Yuuri.  Yuuri played with him and listened to him. Yuuri told him new words and stories about Japan. He loved his mother, but he loved his Yuuri, too.  “Maybe...maybe I will,” he determined.

 




Chris waited patiently at the restaurant for Victor’s arrival toying with his phone.  He smiled when he saw his lover’s name come up asking for him to call when he had some time.  He quickly replied that he was free after lunch. His eyes met blue and he stood to greet the alpha striding through the restaurant.  Chris liked to think he turned heads but he never had the presence of his friend. Even with years off the ice, Victor still had an air about him making him look as those he floated through the room.  Women, and men, flicked their eyes towards his form. Chris had to smile, his friend still had it, and was still just as completely oblivious to it.

 

“Chris, so glad you could meet with me at the last minute,” Victor greeted, taking Chris’s hand in his and covering it with the other.  That was just like Victor. You could tell how close you were to him in his touches. A crisp, business-like handshake even if his voice was warm and inviting said you were just under the surface of his awareness.  However, when he took you by both hands, you were close, a confidant. He knew only a few that shared that distinction.

 

“For a friend, I’d clear my schedule if possible.”  They took their seats, and Chris continued. “So tell me, what’s got you concerned?”

 

Victor raised a sardonic eyebrow.  “Straight to the heart of the matter, I see,” Victor murmured.  “I’m wanting to know more about Yuuri.”

 

Chris straightened in his seat, “I don’t know what I can tell you…”

 

“Is he a widow?”  Victor asked, then looked down shaking his head, “I think not...and now I wonder who his ex is.  He mentioned his name was Shuji and I’d hate to think it is who I think it is.” He stilled his words, studying his hands folded on the table.  “He’s been tortured, Chris...maybe not physically but in every other way. He...struggles to eat. He flinches at loud sounds. He...he thinks he’s a bad omega...when I couldn’t imagine a better caregiver for my son.”

 

Chris watched as his friend worked through what he supposed, and what he feared, the blue eyes darting around, then settling on the table.  “So he’s working out,” Chris concluded softly.

 

The blue eyes flicked up, narrowing, “Chris...you know much more than you’re telling me.”

 

The Swiss man took a slow breath in, sighing as he said, “I do...and I can’t tell you what you want to know.”

 

Victor paused a moment, blinking, “Why?”

 

“Let’s call it...attorney-client privilege,” Chris suggested.

 

“But Yuuri’s not your client,” Victor argued.

 

Chris shrugged.  “That contract was created to protect both parties.  Under its stipulations I wouldn’t be able to disclose information about you to him either.”  With the legality out of the way he moved to what Victor really needed to focus on. “Now, how do you feel?”

 

“I…I…” Chris was an expert at derailing a person’s thoughts and he studied his friend as Victor floundered with his words.  Closing those eyes and opening them again, Victor shrugged. “He’s part of us. It’s like he’s always been with us. Yura is happier, and showing affection freely now, and I know it’s Yuuri’s influence.  I just...I want...You know I have to protect him.  It’s in my nature.  The moment you put him in my care, you knew he’d be safe.”

 

“Yes, I did,” Chris agreed quietly.

 

Victor held his eyes before asking, “Is he free?”

 

“He is not in a relationship.  I wouldn’t have done that to you, or Yura.  But free...” Taking a drink, he said softly, “For now.”

 

“You’d tell me if he were in danger,” Victor pressed.

 

Chris nodded as they were brought their meals.  French protected their privacy to a certain degree but he waited until the server was gone before he continued.  “Yuuri’s safety is very important to me. But for now, it’s his story to tell. Trust me on this.”

 

“He’s determined…”  Victor smiled softly thinking about the omega that took his home by storm and didn’t back down from a challenge.  “He asserts himself, knows what he wants. Sometimes I have to get him to open up, but if it’s important, he speaks out.  And...he made himself a part of the family. From the beginning. It’s not...just a job for him.”

 

Chris smiled thinking of his friend’s happiness, both of them.  “It wouldn’t be. For him, it’s a fresh start...and I think he needed that.”

 

“In a safe place,” Victor added softly hoping to get Chris to talk but his friend just smiled.  Sighing, they continued their lunch discussing other legal and personal matters. As lunch wrapped up, Victor extended an invitation.  “Perhaps you could join us for dinner one evening.”

 

Chris leveled a stare at his friend before answering.  “Let him get more settled before you bring me in to upset matters.”

 

As Victor left, Chris pulled out his phone and texted his boyfriend.

 

SexBomb/ Our project seems to be progressing nicely.

 

EvilGenius/ I’ve heard from my end, too.

 

SexBomb/ I’ll call when I get home.  Love you!

 




Yuuri stared at the email from Phichit afraid to open it.  He marked it so it wouldn’t get lost but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to see his baby.  Looking across the room, he found his smile as he watched Yura stretched out on the floor playing with the kittens.  The little boy’s mood seemed to improve after he arrived home but the omega knew something was still hanging over the child.   You’ll talk to me soon.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 11: Dance to your songs of laughter...

 

Victor woke to the silver light of early Saturday morning greeting him.  Stretching into the soft smoothness of his sheets he hummed at the idea of a late morning followed by a free day.  He had nowhere to be this day and planned to take full advantage of the weekend knowing competitions for many of his students and others at the rink whom he oversaw were looming in the not too distant future.  He rose and washed, changing into soft sweats. He leashed Makkachin with the plan to take a nice morning walk while he worked through his thoughts.

 

He could hear the quiet clatter of dishes and peeked into the kitchen to see Nikolai working quickly.  “Best not let Olga catch you,” he teased.

 

The old man huffed.  “That old woman is a tyrant!”

 

Victor chuckled as he tugged Makka’s leash.  “I’m going to take a long walk should Yuuri wake up in my absence.”

 

Nikolai grunted his acknowledgement and Victor guided the poodle out the side door and into the street.  It was a slow morning for all of St. Petersburg and the streets were quiet as he followed his dog on her route.  Makka knew the way and soon was weaving through the morning pedestrians. Victor let her take the lead; he had thoughts to puzzle through.

 

Chris...it was so frustrating that you wouldn’t tell me anything.  I know you could. It was clear that you knew far more than you would say.  The answer was right there on the tip of your tongue. Why won’t you tell me?  What are you protecting him from? Certainly not me.

 

Victor stilled at that thought.  The timing was perfect because he had to wait for the traffic to clear.  Then they moved across the crosswalk, the flow of pedestrians picking up as he continued, familiar dogs being led or leading familiar owners.  Victor found himself forcing a friendly but distant smile for them as he passed. He didn’t know their names, but he was familiar enough from his career to still stand out.  A few called out hellos and Victor waved and gave the the hundred grand smile before continuing with his puzzle.

 

If you are protecting Yuuri, then there is something...or someone...to protect him from.  That bastard is alive and I need to be able to protect Yuuri. But I can’t do that if I don’t know what I’m up against.

 

He tried to think of someone that might know, someone who would tell him.  Names clicked off, people who skated with Yuuri’s generation.  Two names came to his head quickly, Lee and Crispino. Victor tapped his lips thoughtfully.  Seung-gil Lee and the Crispino twins had skated with Yuuri in juniors and then stayed in skating for a few years after Yuuri’s retirement. They seemed the best fit.  However, while Lee could be tight lipped, the Crispinos suffered from just the opposite. He pulled out his phone and hesitated.  Am I risking putting him in greater danger just to sate my curiosity?

 

He looked at the names and out of all of them, Seung-gil would be the most closed mouth.   I might not get any information from you, but then you wouldn’t tell anyone a word of what I say either.   He sent a text, short and to the point.

 

Victor/ What do you remember about Yuuri Katsuki?

 

No answer came immediately so Victor continued his walk until he stopped at a coffee shop.  The atmosphere was casual and relaxed, the Saturday morning crowd there to wake up slowly and enjoy one of the last fine mornings before winter set her fingers into the city. There was a buzz from his phone just before he reached the barista.  He forced himself to wait until he made his order and took a seat before pulling out his phone. Makka curled up next to his feet.

 

Lee/ I haven’t heard that name in a while.  He was Phichit Chulanont’s best friend. Then he sort of disappeared.

 

Victor frowned, thinking of the bizarre background Yuuri came from, and the phrase “sort of disappeared” worried him.

 

Victor/ What do you mean?

 

Lee/ Announced his retirement at 19.  Rumor was that he was pregnant but I never saw him with anyone.

 

There was a pause and during that time, his coffee came up at the counter.  He went to retrieve it and almost stumbled when his phone buzzed again. Sitting down, he pulled it out to see Seung-gil sent a second text.

 

Lee/ Now that I think about it, I saw him a couple of years later at a figure skating event.  He wasn’t skating, but was at the banquet as a guest of another. He was with Phichit and that Swiss skater Chris.  I overheard them talking about hiding from his alpha.

 

Victor pursed his lips, this was the same situation Chris had mentioned.  Perhaps he could offer more information than his friend had.

 

Victor/ Did you hear who that alpha was?

 

Lee/ Not directly but I saw him later with that ISU official Shuji something.  He seemed to have a tight hold on Yuuri.

 

That’s closer .  He had a little more information.  Victor chewed his bottom lip, he began feeling a little uncomfortable about his texts.  But it was fine because Yuuri was watching his child. He had a right to know. Taking a deep breath, he put his phone away.   So why do I feel so guilty?

 

Victor pulled his phone back out,  startled by the query he read.

 

Lee/ Is he free?

 

Victor/ Yes.  Keep it quiet, please.

 

Lee/ Hate to see an alpha hurt an omega like that.  I dated Phichit before Chris but only for a short period.  Phichit was very upset but wouldn’t talk about it.

 

Victor stared at that information.   Chris and Phichit dated.  They...dated. Were they still dating?

 

Victor/ Thanks.  You were a big help.

 

Lee/ Just glad to know he got out .

 

Victor drained his cup and crumpled it before dropping it into the trash.

 





Returning, he heard Yuuri’s warm voice coupled with the deep timbre of Nikolai’s floating from the kitchen.  He released Makka and watched her run off to look for Ren. She didn’t get around as well but today was a good day.  The younger poodle seemed to make her happy, they spent many days cuddling in sunlight. If Victor didn’t take her to the rink with him, he wondered if she would just follow the little toy poodle around all day.  He moved into the kitchen and looked around for his son. “No Yura?”

 

Yuuri chuckled shaking his head as he sipped his tea.  “He’s still asleep...in the middle of my bed.”

 

With a groan of a father who’s had his son crawl in bed with him only to have him toss and turn, stealing the blankets and kicking everyone away from him or snuggling so close that he scoots you off the bed, he asked, “And you survived?”  Victor watched as Yuuri laughed once more, nodding, eyes crinkling. Thinking about it, though, Victor frowned. “Did he have a nightmare?”

 

Yuuri put his mug down on the counter and turned thoughtful, “I’m not sure...he seems intent on keeping me close.  Hopefully I’ll get it out of him before Monday. If not, I’ll try to get a meeting with his teacher.”

 

“So you think it has to do with school,” Victor surmised and watched the omega nod once more.  Victor’s nose then called him further into the kitchen and he found a plate of eggs and rice kept warm for him.  Returning to the bar, he asked, “How do you dress this?”

 

“Well, the eggs are seasoned and have ginger mixed into it.  You could add a little soy sauce.”

 

Victor tasted it and nodded in approval.  “I think I like them as is.” He caught Yuuri’s smile of approval and watched the omega slide off the stool and go to wash his cup.  As he ate, he listened as Yuuri and Nikolai continued their discussion.

 

“So it’s basically a box,” Nikolai surmised.

 

Yuuri hummed, it both was and wasn’t.   “Well, the kamidana is more like a shelf, a place I can make an offering and pray.  The butsudan is more of a cabinet, it has doors. The one in my parents’ home is ornate but I’d prefer something...simpler.”  He thought for a moment before adding, “And a low table with maybe a large cushion.”

 

Nikolai nodded thoughtfully.  He stood against the sink, running through a plan in his head.  “We can build the cabinet and shelf with the cedar we picked up on Friday.  But the table, maybe there is something around the house.”

 

“It’s possible,” Yuuri agreed before turning to meet Victor’s eyes.  The blue orbs had watched the two of them, following the conversation with interest until he was invited in.  Yuuri started cautiously, still scared to overstep, “Is there something...maybe not used?”

 

“Here?  This house is full of unused things.  Likely a table. We can explore and look for one later,” Victor offered.

 

Yuuri’s eyes dropped and Victor waited for him to find the words to ask for what else was seeking.  “I’m...trying to let myself mourn,” he said softly. “Is there...a room? Maybe a quiet place to dedicate to this process.”

 

Victor held his eyes and then nodded.  “I’m certain there is a space for you. I want you to have what you need here.  We’ll go explore and see if we can find an appropriate room for your purpose.”

 

Turning back to Nikolai, Yuuri began, “Now...about Yura…”

 

The grandfather waved him off, “Leave him to me.  I already had plans, so I’ll take care of him.”

 

Taking Victor’s dish, Yuuri washed it and put it in the rack to the drain before he nodded towards the door.  As they stepped into the hall, Victor placed a hand on the small of Yuuri’s back catching a whiff of the omega’s scent.  In the close proximity he could make out the details of the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. It was warm and rich, enticing, but there was something earthy and comforting in it as well.  For a moment, his breath caught before he recovered, guiding Yuuri into a less used hallway.

 

Victor cleared his throat, focusing his thoughts, “This house has so many unused spaces, I’m sure we’ll find something that will meet your requirements.”

 

Yuuri laughed softly.  “Just some place private...and quiet.”

 

“That’s why I thought the back of the house.”  He opened a door and peered inside. “Oh, this room is the music room.  I took my piano lessons here as a child before I decided I’d rather learn violin.”

 

Yuuri walked over to the piano and lifted the cover, his fingers tickling across the keys with expert ease.  “I only studied piano but my teacher said it was a good place to start for any musician.”

 

Victor smiled, looking at Yuuri behind the beautiful instrument.  He admired how the younger man never lost his touch. He moved forward, closer to Yuuri, saying, “My mother played piano and was very popular in her time.  She loved parties that were more old fashioned, cards, piano, tiny sandwiches, fancy clothes. When they retired, they left the townhouse to me. They stay in the country.  My brother took over the companies but most of their holdings are outside of St. Petersburg. So, I live here...close enough to work, social life, friends. On Sundays, I call home.  During the summer and holidays, I visit.”

 

Yuuri had seated himself while Victor rambled, turning he grinned up at the silver haired man as he eased into a familiar tune that after a moment caused Victor’s eyes to widen.  “ Rhapsody in Blue !”

 

Yuuri nodded, his smile turning sad softening the edges on his expression.  “My last skate before I retired. It felt like...giving up on a dream.”

 

Victor saw the disappointment in the younger man, “You could still skate...adults, international...I have considered it for fun but…” he sighed, his knees, his back, his...everything forbade it.  Shrugging it off, he added, “Filling Yakov’s shoes isn’t an easy thing.” His eyes brushed over Yuuri, watching the omega pull his knees up on the bench then butterflying out. He remembered Yelena doing that and wondered if it was a dancer’s thing.

 

“You could...get an assistant,” he suggested thoughtfully.  “If you burn out, you’ll do nobody any good.”

 

Victor sat down on the bench next to the omega, “I sometimes miss the days when I was independent, a choreographer.  These last three years weigh me down sometimes.”

 

Yuuri put a hand on Victor’s arm, “Why did you accept it?”

 

He shrugged.  “Yelena. Her treatments were...expensive.  I probably would have been fine but...I wanted the stability for my family.  I think...the treatments gave her a few more months with Yura.” He felt the weight of his emotions and decided it was time to move on.  He rose, offering a hand to Yuuri, “Shall we continue?”

 

Yuuri sighed, half regretful, and turned to close the cover before taking Victor’s hand and sliding off the bench, rejoining the man.

 

The next room was an office of sorts but Victor shook his head.  “I think that was my father’s. I wasn’t allowed in there.”

 

Yuuri looked up at the face, still impressed with the importance of the room, “But now…”

 

“I try to leave my work at work when possible.  Family time is too valuable. My father spent too many hours running the company even when he was home.  I...never felt close to him. Not like my mother. I don’t want that for Yura. I travel enough with work.”

 

They closed the door and continued on down the hall.  Yuuri unconsciously hugged into his bicep causing Victor’s heart to skip a beat.  He opened another room, it was a cluttered sitting room and would take some work to clear out but Yuuri went inside running his fingers along a low bench.  “Is this cedar?”

 

Victor examined the bench, “It looks like it.  We’ll ask Nikolai to be certain. Will that work for your table?”

 

Yuuri ran a hand over the object, getting a good feeling from the smooth texture of the grain, “I think...do you mind?”

 

“Take what you need,” Victor smiled softly.  

 

A bit of happiness showed in Yuuri’s steps as they opened two more doors.  One room was too big, the other looked more like a closet used to store cleaning supplies.  Then they opened one towards the end of the hall and Yuuri’s eyes lit up. As he stepped inside, he took in the light and the flow of air.  “This one,” he breathed. The floor was bare, a few pieces of furniture were piled against one wall but would be easy to move into another unused space.  “I want this one.” He blushed at his directness, but saw Victor smiling at him.

 

Victor nodded in agreement.  “I just want you to make yourself at home.  No rooms are really off limits...although Olga might disagree if you walk into her quarters and catch her in her curlers.”

 

Yuuri giggled at the mental image but then sobered.  “What about...the ballet studio?”

 

Victor frowned at the reference.  “You mean...at the rink?”

 

Yuuri smiled, in a house this size you would forget you had a ballet studio, “No, the room with all of the windows.  It looks like it was used for ballet.”

 

Victor turned over his words then brightened.  “The solarium! Oh, that was Yelena’s favorite room.  She took it over because she loved the sun.” His expression soft, he rested his eyes on Yuuri.  “Of course you can use it. I want you to be happy here. This is your home now.”

 

The smile Yuuri returned was fond, affectionate, making Victor feel warm inside.  His voice came out soft, “That’s...how it feels. Like home. I just...I didn’t want to intrude if the space was private.”

 

Victor shook his head.  “I suppose some would make a room into a shrine.”  He thought of the mementos he kept of his best friend, “I...have her painting, a picture in my room, and several albums.”  His eyes drifted to Yuuri, somehow Victor knew it was deeper than keeping images around. It was like how he still felt her in his life, “And...I still talk to her sometimes.  Especially when it comes to Yura. I want...to respect her wishes with him.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself as he listened to Victor’s words.   That’s sort of it.  Here but not. “I...I guess everyone mourns in their own way.  This…” He motioned into the room and shrugged, “My family...we make shrines, put pictures in them...it’s more complicated than that but then again, simple.”  Yuuri moved further into the room, looking at the odd bits of unused furniture, wondering if they would store it elsewhere or if Viktor would give it away to others.  Turning he looked back at the silver haired man standing by the entrance. You are the type that would give freely to another in need.  “I contacted my mother...I don’t think I was ready until now.  I...feel...relaxed here. Like I can allow myself to let go of my grief.  Maybe...because you suggested it.”

 

Victor dropped his eyes, suddenly feeling like he might be intruding.  “He...discouraged it, your alpha,” Victor murmured softly, more of a statement than a question.

 

Yuuri waited for the blue eyes to rise again then nodded, tightening his arms around himself, turning to survey the room once more.  “He...discouraged a lot of things.” Walking to a small table with an overturned chair on it, Yuuri picked at the exposed bottom of a leg.  Bits of dust flew away from him. “I never understood why, what... pleasure he got from it.  He kept me from everything that made me happy - family, friends, my dog...and then he didn’t let me mourn my sadness.”

 

Victor had so many questions.  How did he end up with this alpha?  Is he alive? Of course he’s alive, but he wanted to hear it from Yuuri’s lips.  Did he hurt him? Was he still a threat? But he knew instinctively to wait. Yuuri was already opening up.  He felt safe. Victor didn’t want to threaten that safety.

 

He walked over to the smaller man who was still swatting away dust like bad memories and draped his arm around the slender shoulder, tugging him back towards the kitchen, the warmth, the happiness.  “Saturdays are for family, until competitions take me away. Let’s see what Nikolai and Yura are working on.”

 

They walked into the kitchen to find flour on the counters, on the floor, in Yura’s hair, and painting his chubby, ruddy cheeks.  The boy wore an oversized apron with the strings wrapped around twice before being tied into an efficient, albeit crooked, bow. But the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eyes could not be dulled.  Victor knew these moments were priceless.

 

“Grandpa is showing me how to make piroshkis!” came the excited response.  “I’m making them for our lunch.”

 

“Well, you couldn’t find a better teacher,” Victor praised and as he scratched his fingers through Yura’s hair, it came up in puffs of flour.  He turned back to see Yuuri’s eyes sliding over the messes, anxious doubt in his expression. Unlike the rest of the family, the omega didn’t fear Olga, but he would have hated to have lost any of her respect.  “Don’t worry, Yuuri, we’ll get it cleaned up.”

 

Yuuri nodded doubtfully but then pushed up his sleeves with determination and joined into the process.  Victor watched Yuuri soon become just as flour-covered as his son but a smile formed on his lips and grew as the mess on his clothing did.  This was what Victor wanted when he hired a nanny, someone who would integrate themselves naturally into his home and their lives. Everyone in this makeshift family worked together to keep things running and took care of one another.   While others kept their distance...Yuuri jumped in with both feet and soon...he was making piroshkis.

 

Victor knew already that a part of him wanted more but their home was a carefully crafted balance.  He also knew Yuuri needed to heal, and that meant time and space. Victor watched the movements of the younger man.  He needed to heal from more than the loss of his babies. He carried pain with him, and it weighed on his small frame mightily.  However, the omega was making forward strides.

 

Time...you need time.

 

Yuuri’s warm laugh filled the room and then brown eyes met Victor’s blue.  They held each other’s gaze for a long time before Yuuri’s attention was called back by Yura.  Not for the first time, Victor determined to watch over him, to take care of him, and maybe one day, they would have more.  For now, he wanted Yuuri to have enough. He wanted the younger man to have what he needed, what would help him heal, and what would make him feel safe.  He knew that Yuuri had to reach for these things himself. Yuuri wasn’t comfortable with being handed anything, and Victor had to admire that stubbornness, even if he worried it would be frustrating.  However, Yuuri’s recovery would be all the stronger as the young man battled his demons himself, working for the goals he created and measured.

 

Victor was pulled from his thoughts as Yura tossed a handful of flour at Yuuri.  At first the omega tried to pretend at being indignant, but no one was fooled. Then he smiled, brown eyes crinkling in delight, as another laugh filled the air along with a well aimed handful of flour towards the child giggling in protest.   Victor realized he loved the sound of the laughter in his home. I will dance to your songs of laughter, and hold you as you cry out your sorrow.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 12:   Silencing my soul...

 

In the quiet of the night Yuuri woke up crying, feeling the heaviness of his heart.  Sliding from his bed, he padded down the hall and crept down the stairs before entering the studio.  He sat before the mirror, allowing his tears fall freely, Ren curling up in his lap, her presence comforting and grounding him.  Yuuri sat there for the longest time, feeling his body quake with sorrow, then calm into the dull ache he had carried for longer than he remembered.  Slowly he pulled his phone from his side. Taking a deep breath he hit play, earbuds in place as the music washed over him.

 

Rising, Yuuri found himself slipping into the grace of the dance with ease, letting his movement capture the sorrow of the music building inside of him and echoed by the notes.   I lost so much.  A decade taken from me.  More than that. My future was taken from me.  I don’t know that I can reclaim any of it. Is a new start just that?  Do I have no claim on my prior life, on what I would have been? Do I just walk away from who I was before him?  Do I have to do that?

 

He stilled, letting the song bridge through with music.

 

What I would have been…

 

A figure skater...I’d likely have retired at this point.  How far would I have gone?  He allowed his chest to pivot down, back arched beautifully as his leg rose behind him before reaching back to catch his foot with his hand creating a breathtaking teardrop Beilman.

 

Closing his eyes, he recalled his last program, switching the song over to play Rhapsody in Blue .  He took a moment, remembering his opening position on the ice and began to recall the steps, the choreography he built as his final dance.  Even then he knew his time was running out, that each skate could be his last appearance on ice...anywhere. Shuji made sure he knew it had been a privilege for him to skate once Yuuri went to his home.  A privilege that ended the minute the alpha appeared at the onsen to claim him. Years of training were cast aside at the whim and will of a man Yuuri barely knew and greatly feared.

 

The alpha had been intent on keeping Yuuri subdued, slowly stripping away each pleasure in Yuuri’s life, isolating him, keeping him close.  Losing the ice had been abrupt, but forcing him to leave Vicchan behind was heartbreaking. As soon as they reached Tokyo, Shuji introduced new rules into the home.  No outside contact. No computer. No visitors. He cancelled school immediately, forcing Yuuri to drop out. The cupboards and refrigerator were locked until Shuji said Yuuri had reached his ‘ideal weight’ and then they remained on until the alpha knew he had broken the omegas will to eat.  Even when Shuji was out of town, Yuuri felt the leash tight upon his neck. Everything had to be in place...perfect...The omega found himself folding and refolding towels one day, realizing he had spent three hours on the task. But the worst was learning to pushing himself down into nothingness.  Yuuri learned to walk around on tiptoes, to be invisible, to silence his laugh, to quiet his tears...until he felt nothing.

 

As each moment of joy ripped from his fingers, he kept reminding himself.  But through all that he focused on memories of freedom. Survive. Live.

 

I’m still here…

 




From the shadows of the back yard, a lone figure stood watching Yuuri’s movements, his own grief reflected in the soul of the omega.  Makkachin settled at his feet, her business finished. “How do I help him find his way, Makka?”

 

A tongue licked at his hand and Victor knelt down next to her, his fingers sliding into her curls with familiar ease.  The poodle had watched over him through so many heartbreaks. At fourteen, he worried about how much longer she would be there for him and that thought hurt more than most other concerns.  Looking down at the poodle he spoke wistfully, as if she were in control of her aging. “I don’t think I could bear another loss, Makka...Yelena took so much of me. Most didn’t understand.  It might not have been traditional, but it was love. But she was my best friend, my closest companion.” He looked down at the poodle and she rose up to bump her head into his gently. “Closest human companion,” he amended.

 

Looking back up to the figure in the window, the younger man’s sorrow easily reflected in those beautiful movements, he added softly, “I didn’t expect...I never considered...that I would fall so quickly, that he would become so much a part of me in such a brief time.”  He stopped, looking into the black eyes of his faithful companion. Smiling at his own credulity, “It’s...only been a week .  Yet...I feel like somewhere the song that was my life had been interrupted and it’s only just resumed, picking up the moment he walked into my life.”

 

The lights went off and he could see Yuuri’s shadow slip through the door.  Victor waited a few more minutes, kneeling down and petting Makkachin, before returning to the house.

 

Makka followed him to the bedroom, crawling into the bed with him, steps added a couple of years back by Nikolai for her older hips.  Stretching back into his bed, Victor thought about the upcoming competitions. He will be gone under a week for both, but it felt too soon and too far.  Skate Canada and Skate America...where is my luck?  I’ll have to be away.  Is Yuuri ready? Will he be okay?  I just wish I knew more about this other alpha...is he nearby?

 

Rolling over, he considered the rest of his family.   Nikolai and Olga will keep watch over him.  Those are a pair I wouldn’t cross. Closing his eyes, he knew he hated the idea of being so far away, his Yuuri too far out of reach.  He had worried like this when he had to leave Yura the first time, but that boy was guarded by a grandfather that would burn down the world for him.  He remembered Nikolai’s trick for warding off Yura’s boogeyman, two shoes at the end of the bed facing out, touching at the heels. If only there was a talisman for my Yuuri.   Yuuri seemed to have a boogeyman of flesh and blood.  As he drifted in a fitful sleep, worries filtered into his dreams and he saw the shadow of a man threatening the omega, grabbing the still too-thin wrist and taking him away, Victor coming home a moment too late to find his son crying as Olga and Nikolai stood by helpless to stop him.  Victor jerked awake from the nightmare, sitting up in bed. Makka tilting her head at his sudden movement. I need to find out who he is.

 




Yuuri rolled over, feeling the sunlight warming his bed as it filtered through the window coverings.  Stretching his full body in the sheets, he blinked his eyes open. Oh, it’s Sunday.  I need to make breakfast.   He pushed his blankets back and slid his feet into his slippers.  The floors were cold and Yuuri could feel a shiver rising up in him.   Russia is much colder than southern Japan.  He smiled thinking of how this was only the beginning of their coldest season.  Resisting the urge to wrap himself up in the blanket his mother sent with him, he pulled his robe off the hook and quietly slipped down the stairs.

 

The kitchen and dining room were already alive with activity and Yuuri walked in to see Nikolai whistling as he cleaned up the mess from the previous day.  Small pockets of flour clung to the sink and working table, but the older man was determined to clear the mess. Evidently Olga was commander-in-chief of this part of the house and her rule went unquestioned...even if there were the occasioned mutiny behind her back.  He looked up and grinned. “Olga would have pitched a fit if we went to bed on this while she was in charge.”

 

Yuuri returned the smile and shrugged, hugging himself.  “As long as it gets done before she finds out, I suppose it will be fine.”  A rustle of newspaper drew his attention to the dining room and he saw Victor studying the sports page.  Something about waking up to see Victor in this small glimpse of private life filled Yuuri with warmth. The Russian was frowning at the results of game and grumbling over their prospects.  Yuuri laughed at the picture of his childhood hero. “That’s very domestic,” he commented, a warm smile on his lips.

 

Victor looked up and grinned before taking a drink from his mug.  “This was how my father did family time. Sunday morning around the table reading the newspaper and talking about the week.  I’m just getting a head start on the paper.”

 

How would I have started my days?  Yuuri thought of the simplicity of Victor’s home life and realized he would have lead a very similar one.  Considering the paper he realized how little he knew of the world. “I guess I’m a little out of touch. I haven’t read or watched the news in awhile.”  Yuuri filled the kettle and put it on, preparing a cup with his favorite tea, compliments of his mother. He felt a nostalgic smile at the thought. He went for so long without even these indulgences that having his favorite cup of tea seemed a luxury.  He didn’t realize a tear slipped down his cheeks until he felt a firm hand on his shoulder. He looked up to meet the dark eyes of the old man.

 

“You okay?”  The grandfather’s voice was gruff, but loving.

 

“I guess...a little homesick?” Yuuri suggested weakly.  He knew it was more than that, but it was as close to the absolute truth as he could articulate.

 

Victor had lowered the paper and was studying the pair.  “Perhaps you should make a point to call home today? It’s important to maintain contact.”

 

Nikolai huffed.  “Says the man that calls his parents once a week.”

 

“Better than not at all,” Victor sang, ducking behind his paper once more.

 

The old man returned to his work but Yuuri could tell he didn’t approve of Victor’s response.  Taking his teacup, Yuuri crossed over to sit next to Victor stealing a page of the paper. Victor raised an eyebrow in amusement.  Everything felt so wonderful, familiar. Yuuri with his cup, Victor and his mug. The paper shared between them. He grinned when Yuuri shoved it aside.   One glance at the Cyrillic reminded Yuuri of a slight problem to the domestic bliss.   Oh, I can’t read this.

 

“We have tutors at the rink.  I could set something up,” Victor suggested.

 

Yuuri shrugged, irritated at feeling out of his element.  He didn’t know how to respond to his illiteracy and general lack of knowledge of the language.  He wasn’t used to it. Feeling inadequate because of Shuji was one thing, but because of his own ignorance was more painful.  He reached for his phone and pulled up his notifications. He felt his expression soften into a smile as he spotted several instagram posts from Phichit.  Opening it up, he began scanning through some of the old pictures. His old phone would not update and he went for so long without the basics, his time with Phichit had been personal, time between friends, jealously guarded.   Oh, he’s with Chris.  Is that his boyfriend?   Yuuri thumbed through several pictures and then one where Chris was wrapped around Phichit from behind nuzzling into his neck.   Definitely the boyfriend.  I wonder how long…

 

He set his phone down and took a sip of his tea, his dark eyes watching Victor from the relative safety of hiding behind the cup.  Victor looked up, a smile on his lips. “Did you sleep well?” he asked, breaking the silence.

 

Yuuri shrugged once more.

 

“Not much of a talker this morning?” he asked quietly as he turned the page.

 

Yuuri smiled shyly, he had never been a morning person but learned to like it even less with Shuji.  “I’m...enjoying the quiet. Sometimes...I need the quiet,” Yuuri answered softly.

 

Victor nodded as he mulled over Yuuri’s words.  “Do what you need to feel settled,” he replied. “Maybe later we can take the dogs for a walk together.”

 

Yuuri’s eyes lit up at the prospect.  Said dogs were out back playing in the yard but the idea of walking together with them on leash, getting to know the neighborhood, seeing it wake up on a Sunday, was attractive.  “I’d like that.”

 

“Sunday morning walks are relatively quiet.  Some are getting ready to head to church. The rest are enjoying the slowness of the day.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself, a soft smile on his lips.  He then looked up as a small body thumped into the room.  The messy blonde hair turned spotting Yuuri and immediately crawled into his lap, snuggling into the turn of his neck and breathing him in.  “Good morning,” Yuuri greeted, his voice still soft, a laugh in his voice as he indulged the boy’s neediness. He smiled over the blond head, his cheek leaning in to rest on the downy softness.

 

Behind the paper, Victor could feel a blush rise up in his cheeks.  Nikolai busied himself with cleaning, whistling cheerily. Yes, as far as the old man was concerned, things were progressing nicely.  Yelena would be pleased.

 




After breakfast, Yuuri chased the boy upstairs to get dressed for a walk.  Victor, already dressed in a pair of khakis and a long sleeved pull over, readied the dogs who were both eager for the outing.  He smiled at his Makka who wagged and jumped around excitedly with the puppy’s presence. Ren joined her and wiggled around with equal excitement.  “Settle down, girl,” he commanded gently and Makka rolled a little then settled into a sitting position.

 

About that time, Yura came excitedly down the stairs with Yuuri holding him back.  “Careful, Yura, I’d hate for you to fall,” he warned. “We won’t leave you behind.”  The chastisement was gentle but the seriousness of the tone reached the young Nikiforov.

 

Yura reached the landing and ran to his papa.  “Let’s go!”

 

“Coats first,” he chuckled handing over Yura’s cheetah print monstrosity.  Yuuri eyed the strange coat. The boy didn’t inherit either parent’s taste in clothes.  Yelena embraced understated elegance and Victor always dressed tastefully. Yura wanted loud and daring in everything he wore...and that translated to cheetah print.

 

Yuuri reached in and pulled out the navy peacoat, blushing as Victor quickly took command of buttoning up the large fastenings for him.  Scarves, hats, and gloves in place, both Yuuri and Victor grabbed a leash, their free hands taking hold of Yura’s.

 

“So, Nikolai says you’re preparing dinner tonight,” Victor invited after they walked a block in silence.

 

Yuuri glanced over with a soft smile and nodded.  “I’m making katsudon, a family recipe from back home.  It won’t be as good as my mother’s, though,” he answered.

 

Victor laughed and nodded in agreement.  “It never is when we make family recipes.  I can’t wait to try it.”

 

Yuuri watched the sidewalk, a blush on his cheeks.  “It was my favorite growing up.”

 

“It’s not anymore?” Victor asked.

 

Yuuri shrugged.  He wasn’t really sure what was his favorite anything anymore.  He would have to learn more about who he was before he could decide on favorite foods.  “I’ve...been having trouble re-establishing my relationship with food. So...I’m not sure.  Maybe...in time?”

 

“You have time.  Take it slowly,” Victor reassured him.

 

Yuuri nodded, his eyes focusing on Yura and noticing the little shoes were untied.  He pulled them to a halt and handed Ren’s leash over to Victor before kneeling down to tie the offending laces.  Victor watched from above thinking how Yuuri’s attention rarely strayed from his son. The omega clearly took his role as companion omega seriously and Victor hoped he would stay.  Yura seldom showed his affections so openly, or gave them so freely. The father knew he wasn’t the only member of the house falling for Yuuri.

 

Patting the shoe, Yuuri looked up at the blonde with a smile.  “There you go. All fixed.”

 

“Thank you, Yuuri,” the boy singsonged.  As Yuuri reclaimed his feet, he took the offered hand and then Ren’s lead once more.

 

On the walk back Yura grew tired.  Victor started to hand Makkachin’s leash over so he could scoop up the boy but Yuuri was two steps ahead of him and soon the older man found himself juggling two dogs as Yuuri had his son on his back, long legs wrapped around the slender waist.  “So, how much further?”

 

“We...could shortcut across the park,” Victor suggested reluctantly.  He could tell Makka was already slowing down and his son had reached the end of his energy, the blond head resting against Yuuri’s shoulder.

 

“Maybe a little quiet time when we get home,” Yuuri suggested.

 

“And more piroshkis for lunch,” Yura piped up, voice muffled as his cheek rubbed against Yuuri’s back.  They had plenty wrapped up to reheat as needed, the fruit of their labor...and love.

 

Yuuri met Victor’s eyes with a smile crinkling the corners.  In the depths of those brown orbs, Victor could see the residual pain but the warmth of the here and now seemed to flood his body with happiness.

 




Laziness drifted into their day, napping through the remainder of the morning and the early part of the afternoon.  Yuuri drifted into the solarium and stretched as he thought about his family. Finally, he pulled out his phone and made the call.

 

“Yuuri!” came the excited greeting from his mother.

 

Yuuri couldn’t help the smile...feeling almost giddy at the freedom to be able to call home.  “Hi, Mom.”

 

“How are you?  It’s so good to hear from you.”

 

“I’m good...a little homesick but...it’s been a good move.  I’m...I’m happy. Yura...he’s so much energy but you can’t help but love him.  Although I guess...some of the others could help it.”  He grimaced thinking of the litany of caretakers, each unworthy of that title, who had walked out on the little boy.  “He was worried I’d leave at first. But I think...we seem okay now.”

 

“You sound so much more lively,” she observed.  “And...the alpha?”

 

Yuuri cringed at the reference.  “ Victor is good to me.”   Honestly, Mom, he’s got a name.  “He’s made sure I had appropriate clothes and all the things I need.  I have my own room and it has scent locks. His father-in-law Nikolai looks out for me and is helping me to put together a shrine.  He...seems to understand what I need.” Yuuri drew a deep breath and released it slowly. “There...is grief in this house but they deal with it.  They don’t...tuck it away. I think...that’s helped me. They encourage me to face my own grief.”

 

“We always wanted the same for you,” his mother responded softly.

 

Yuuri shrugged.  “I know...I wasn’t ready.  I think...I feel safer here.  Distance is helping. But today I said I was a little homesick and Victor suggested I call home.  It...didn’t occur to me.”

 

“Because Shuji never let you, dear one,” she responded, her voice soft.

 

Yuuri drew his breath and let it out slowly.  “I like it here.” Then he smiled and added, “There’s also a housekeeper.  Olga. She’s omega and she is outspoken and warm and makes me think of Grandma.”

 

Down the line Hiroko chuckled softly, thinking of the elderly spitfire.  “So she doesn’t mince words. You need that.”

 

“I do.  And there’s a studio here in the house.  I can dance in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep.  And I’m gaining weight, seeing a nutritionist. I weigh in once a week.  Once I’m at a safe weight, I can skate.” Yuuri smiled at that thought. At all of them.  He really was in a better place.

 

His mother hummed happily on the other end of the call.  “I’m glad you are doing so well. Oh, your papa and sister are here.  Here’s Toshiya.”

 

The warm voice sounded down the line, “Yuuri!  Are you okay?”

 

“I’m...good, Papa.  For the first time in a long time, I’m good.”

 

“You sound much better, stronger.  I’m glad for you.” There were voices in the background and his father returned to him.  “Here’s your sister.”

 

“Is that alpha treating you right?  He’s not trying to get you to do things you don’t want, is he?”   Mari’s voice was even but Yuuri could tell she’d worried about him since he left.

 

Yuuri sighed seeking the words to put her at ease.  “We signed a contract , Mari-neesan.  And my room...it has scent-locks.”

 

Mari paused on her end, Yuuri could hear her mulling over his words.  Then, finally she asked, “Is he nice?”

 

Exhaling he knew the fight was over, “Very much so.  And he encourages me to have friends outside of the house.  I’ve made friends with a woman named Katya and that’s a start.  Really, the hardest part is the language barrier.”

 

“Have you thought about watching TV with subtitles on?” Mari suggested.

 

Yuuri’s eyes widened.  “I wonder if they have Deadly Omega in Russian!”

 

His sister snorted on the other end.  “You and your obsession with Investigation Discovery.”

 

Yuuri jumped to defend his lifeline to the outside world during his horrible decade with Shuji.  “Those crimes are real!”

 

He swore he could hear his sister roll her eyes all the way from Japan.  “Sure they are...but, it’s an idea.”

 

Yuuri nodded as he thought about the TVs in the house.  He realized there was only one...in the family room. And it was rarely on.  He wondered what Victor thought about it. He seemed to prefer to read...which was fine.  Yuuri liked to read, too. But he did miss his favorite series. As he said his goodbyes, he decided to investigate.

 

He found Victor and Yura in the living room on a Skype call with Victor’s parents.  He heard the Russian but the words didn’t sound familiar Slipping past them, he moved into the kitchen.

 




Victor sighed, rubbing his forehead.  The conversation with his mother had been pleasant but his father was stretching his patience.  The older man was the main reason he only called home once a week. At least the elder Nikiforov waited until Yura had moved on to play with the kittens in another room.  Unfortunately, this left Victor alone with the man and his judgments.

 

“So you brought in a mail order bride?”

 

Victor groaned and wished his wifi would just die.  “It’s not like that, Papa,” he argued. “Yuuri is...well, officially , he’s a companion omega.  His duties are to care for my son like a mother.”

 

The blue eyes on the screen narrowed with suspicion.  “And his duties towards you?”

 

Victor remembered a conversation about sex when he was twelve and how he thought he could never feel as awkward...he had been wrong.  “Just...help to keep the house running smoothly.”

 

“That sounds like a wife.”  The father sat back in his chair, leveling a stare at his son who was squirming on the couch.  “You act like I wasn’t aware of your proclivity towards the male gender, as if I didn’t know that it was odd for you to take that girl for your mate.”

 

Victor huffed, “ That girl had a name.  Yelena. And she grew up in our house, she was my best friend.”

 

Andrei craned his neck, shaking off the chastisement.  “And friends do not always mean lovers. This one...is it a similar...arrangement?  Are you rescuing him from some fate worse than death ?”

 

“Papa...it wasn’t…”

 

“I had her investigated,” his father confessed as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

 

Victor’s eyes widened at that information.  “Father! How could you?”

 

Andrei’s hands went wide before him, clearly not used to justifying his actions, no matter how invasive they were.  “She was marrying into this family. I had to know what we were dealing with. Don’t worry, son, I won’t let the boy know...and your mother only sees him as her grandson when she thinks of the boy.”

 

Victor blinked at the information.  “Does she...did you…”

 

“No, I didn’t tell her,” he frowned.  Then with a shrug, he added, “Besides she has her own sources and likely knew before me.  She and her friends...gossip so.”

 

Victor drew a ragged breath.  “I…” He had worked diligently to protect Yelana and Yura from anything that might have hurt them, including the truth.  He never suspected both of his parents would ferret it out in their own way.

 

“Don’t worry, your mother wouldn’t let loose any information that didn’t support you, son.  Now...about this omega. What’s his story?”

 

Victor paused, taking in everything he had learned.   ...any information that didn’t support you, son… Where did that leave Yura?  He shook his head, pulling himself out of his thoughts.  “He’s...a friend of a friend. Chris thought we’d...get on together.  And I...was desperate for someone to be able to handle Yura.”

 

The older man nodded, “And how is he working out?”

 

Victor had to smile, there was nothing to reproach on that end.  “He’s...amazing. Yura has all but claimed him as his own.”

 

Andrei grunted, clearly pleased.  “So he’s very attached...what do you plan to do with him?”

 

“Wh-what do you mean?”  Had Victor not been so taken aback from what he learned he would have recognized his father’s tone.

 

“Do you plan to make him your mate?”

 

Victor’s jaw dropped.  “We just met!”

 

“And yet, your son is in his care.  Really, son, think these things through.”  Andrei spoke as though nothing was out of order, and all of it was his business.

 

“I...I…”  He closed his eyes, letting the mask fall off of his face.  “It’s been so long, Papa.”

 

The man regarded the boy he raised with concern.  “I know it has, son...I just don’t want to see you hurt or used.”

 

Victor opened his eyes.  He saw his father for the man he was.  Concerned, loving, but someone who had seen the world and the ugliness that it sometimes carried.  Swallowing, “Don’t worry...I can take care of myself. I just...I need to let this take its course.  He’s… a part of this household now.”

 

“Another stray you’ve picked up off of the street?”

 

And like that it was gone again, Andrei was back to being...Andrei.  “You know Olga...her sister manages your own house. And as for Nikolai, he was your friend at one time.”

 

“Nikolai and I haven’t had much to say since he mismanaged funds.  Maybe one day.”

 

The son paused at his father’s tone.  It was more than frustrated, there was something hurt in there.  “Are you...angry with him?”

 

“Of course not!”  Andrei almost laughed at the thought.  “He fucked up...but hell, I’ve lost more in a wager than he lost over that bad investment.  He just...left. It took a while to pick up the pieces and fix the problem but no, I’m not mad.  He’s...got a good heart even if he’s lost his touch with money.”

 

“He never wanted to be plant manager, Papa.  He was always an engineer. And now...he seems happy to just be Grandpa to my son.”

 

“As he should be.”  The old man looked at the clock and grunted.  “I guess it’s time to be moving on. You bring that omega with you when you come to the country next.  Let us meet him.”

 

Victor cocked an eyebrow, “Are you going to be nice to him?”

 

“Why wouldn’t we be nice?”  Andrei’s voice hinting at offended.

 

But Victor gave him not one inch, “Because you are still trying to figure out his story.”

 

Andrei paused.  Inhaling he confessed, “You know I will be investigating him.”

 

Victor groaned and started to protest but the old man held up his hand to stop him.

 

“He’s taking care of my grandson...and is becoming close to my son.  I know you. Servants do not stay at an arm’s length where you’re concerned.”

 

“He’s not a servant!”

 

Andrei’s palm turned up and his expression was fixed in the smug air of one who was just proven right .   “And that’s what I mean...so yes, I will be investigating him.  Just to make sure he’s a good sort. I will let you know if there are any concerns.”

 

“Papa…”

 

“Trust me, Son...we may do things differently, but I only have your best interests at heart.”

 

“Of course, Papa.”   Victor stared into the black mirror long after the call had ended.  He wanted to know Yuuri’s story, but he wanted it from Yuuri’s lips.






Yuuri bounced around the cabinets pulling out the familiar ingredients and began preparing the meal, creating the dashi from scratch like his mother taught him.  He didn’t realize he was humming until he looked up to find Victor leaning in the door facing him, a soft smile on his face.

 

“How was your call?” Yuuri prompted as he checked the temperature on the oil.  He began the breading process on the pork cutlets and then dropped them into the hot oil.

 

Victor was tempted to lie, but if he wanted this man to share his past he knew he has to be truthful.  “It was good.  Papa still doesn’t understand our contract.”

 

“I...didn’t think my papa would understand,” Yuuri stated quietly.  “I tried to tell him...it was just a nanny position. But when he looked at the contract, he picked out the language pretty quickly and made sure I understood what I was getting into.”

 

“Papa understands that it’s a companion omega contract but he is convinced you are a mail order bride.  I tried to explain that people didn’t become mail order brides to get into Russia, only to get out.”

 

Yuuri snorted a laugh at that and Victor grinned.  “I guess it is a bit odd...and I don’t know that we’ve pushed any of the boundaries of our contract.”

 

Victor blushed, realizing that Yuuri was quietly admitting that he felt the attraction both men felt for the other.  “We’ve got time, Yuuri,” Victor reassured him. “I want you to be comfortable, to feel safe. There’s plenty of time.”  The alpha watched mesmerized as Yuuri turned the pork cutlet with what looked like chopsticks. “You enjoy cooking.”

 

“It...was something I’d do with my mother.  And...well, no one hits on you in the kitchen.”

 

Victor frowned at those words.  “Even after you got out, you had no peace,” he realized.

 

Yuuri kept his eye on the pork sizzling in the oil, “No, not really.  It’s better...here. So maybe becoming a mail order bride to get into Russia is not such a bad deal,” he quipped glancing up with a wink.

 

Victor laughed heartily.  “Maybe not...we’re glad you’re here, though.  And glad you feel happy...and safe.” He moved into the kitchen, sitting at the table but leaning forward to try to catch a glimpse of Yuuri’s motions.

 

The omega hummed, moving his body to music that only he heard.  “I do.”

 




The family sat around the table and Yuuri showed him how he blessed the food in his culture.  “ Itadakimasu .”

 

The others repeated the words and Yura asked him with childlike curiosity, “What does it mean?”

 

Yuuri thought about it and finally answered, “I guess the closest translation is I humbly receive .”

 

“So it’s like saying a prayer,” the little boy surmised.

 

Yuuri smiled warmly.  “Very much so...and I have much to be grateful for.”  He then demonstrated the chopsticks and they did try, really...but in the end, both Nikolai and Yura focused on eating with forks.  Echoes of joy and vkusno slipping from their lips in praise.  Yuuri felt the warmth growing inside him.  He really was...happy.

 




Later, Yuuri tucked the boy into bed, adding the new story to the stack of books growing beside the bed.  They were about out of books in English. “Maybe you should teach me to read in Russian so I can read other stories to you,” the omega suggested gently.

 

Yura blinked the large green eyes, warming to the idea quickly, “I can teach you...but you have to talk Russian first.”

 

“Fair.  How do you suggest we go about that?”

 

The little boy worked out a plan, slowly, “Maybe...we make a game out of it?”

 

“I think that’s a great plan.”  He settled the bunny beside Yura.  “Now...are you ready for school tomorrow?”

 

The little boy shrugged and looked away.  “I guess...it’s just...we have parent’s night coming up.”

 

Yuuri saw the body language change, “Okay...when is that?”

 

Yura mumbled his response, pulling at the bunny’s ears.  “Thursday...and everyone is going to talk about their parents, their moms and dads.”

 

Yuuri smoothed the blanket over the feet as they moved about in bed.  “I know your mother is a very personal thing to you.”

 

Yura shook his head.  “It’s not that...I just...will you come to my parent night?”

 

Yuuri’s eyes widened in surprise.  “I...I would have to ask your father.  I don’t...want to intrude.”

 

Those green eyes narrowed and he sighed in irritation.  “Is this like the room in the back of the house? Because I don’t think Papa would care.”

 

Yuuri smiled at how clever the boy was, but he did worry he was too bold.  “Perhaps...but I still think we should ask to be sure.”

 

“Fine,” came the exasperated reply before he continued, “but will you come if it’s okay?”

 

“I would love to,” Yuuri answered adoringly, his hand ruffling that blond head.  He then leaned forward to kiss his forehead. “Now, get to sleep.”

 

“Good night, Yuuri!” he sang out after Yuuri as the omega started to leave.

 

Yuuri turned back and smiled softly.  “ Oyasuminasai.

 

The boy turned the new word over on his tongue before offering back his own.  “ Dobroy nochi !”  Yura’s eyes sparkled when Yuuri echoed the phrase with his soft voice before slipping out of the room.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 13:  A Place of Healing

 

Olga stepped off the bus that brought her back home and stared at her surroundings.  The bustle of the city reached into the secluded neighborhood. Shop owners and clerks stood outside in the nicer weather, still not cold enough for Russians to admit discomfort, engaging in the national pass-time, gossip.  Her eyes crinkled as she smiled, catching little bits of the conversations. She watched parents and grandparents walking children to the nearby school. Yuuri will be out with them right now.  I hope...everything went well.  Drawing a deep breath, she pushed forward towards her home, her suitcase wheeling behind her across the uneven pavement.  A relic, but one that had taken her from one home to another and therefore a constant in her life. The old man had called her to ask when she’d arrive so she wouldn’t have to walk but she waved away the help.  After a long ride on the bus, it was good to stretch the legs.

 

Then she was home, and the beautiful building that healed her heart and helped her find her feet again worked its magic.  She closed her eyes. She still remembered her mate, echoes of his existence...his aftershave, how he hummed in the morning, always leaving the sink a mess after a shave.  Her smile faltered as quickly as if formed, and she remembered the painful realization that he...had been killed. They hadn’t even begun their lives together. Not really.  Then he was gone.

 

At her sister’s home, Olga barely lived.  It was a half life, dull and colorless. She had routines that kept her busy but she was stuck, unable to move forward.  She understood all too well where Yuuri had come from, what he’d fought to leave behind. Painful memories, no matter their content, were powerful and could become lead weights if allowed to remain.  She stayed with her sister for five years...working for a nice family, but barely making an impression in their household. She had been efficient, more so, she had been exemplary, but with so little interaction she was almost a ghost to them.  It was walking home from their house that she met him...barely a man...yet he looked at her with such deep understanding. He knew she was floundering, that she needed...more. He had just taken over the townhouse, a monstrous building for such a young man.  But he was determined, moving out of the dorms and out on his own, and he asked her, “Would you like to help me make a home?”

 

She didn’t know for sure what he meant.  She thought it was just an offer of a position.  She argued with her sister that she wasn’t ready.  A live in position was more involved than the day work she had currently.  And this young man, he was clearly the type that one became attached to. But Zelda insisted she needed this, to make her own place in the world.  And she promised...she was only a bus ride away.

 

When they arrived, she quickly realized the boy needed her as much as she needed...this place.  She now opened the door and remembered that first day, walking up the front steps she recalled seeing the house for the first time, moving inside, taking in the enormous expanse of the house.  Then the ridiculous suggestion to make herself at home. It became clear he was just as lost in the house as she was. He didn’t even know where the servants stayed and offered her one of the upstairs bedrooms.  She smiled warmly, rescuing him and suggesting that she’d prefer to be closer to her work. It took her some time, exploring the main floor, until she found the entrance to her quarters.

 

Her room had been small, but it was all she needed.  She had nothing. Not really. Much like Yuuri, she came with worn clothes and little else.  For the first few days she moved about the house, tending to what looked the most important.  She surveyed the rooms and put things to rights, opening all of the windows and airing out any negative energy in the residence.  Slowly she felt the house opening up to her, and herself becoming open to it. This...would be a place of healing and warmth. And that had been her driving goal, an unspoken agreement between master and servant.

 

She chuckled at that word as she hung her coat in the entry.  Hardly a master. Olga thought of those first weeks fondly. He muddied the lines quickly and she soon was treated more like...an older sister, an aunt, sometimes a surrogate mother...the roles she filled in this man’s life were numerous but she found that the emptiness inside of her started to fill with each new role.  It was good to be needed and she was always glad to come home.

 

She let her eyes slide around her kitchen, a space she claimed as her own in the larger residence and hummed happily.  Yuuri had kept it in good order, and she could see that he respected her need for everything to be in its place, clean and orderly.  She tucked her suitcase in her room, pulling the laundry out and walking through the work room, dropping them into the washer before moving back into the kitchen.

 

She began working out the menu for the night, pulling ingredients, when she opened the refrigerator.  With a groan, she frowned, pulling out a piroshki. Her eyes narrowed. This was not Yuuri’s doing, Old Man.   However, after a moment’s consideration she placed it on a dish in the microwave.  “That sneaky old man! What did you do to my kitchen?”

 

When Nikolai had moved in, the kitchen had instantly become a battleground of claimed and invaded territory they argued over.  It was a friendly war, but one she would win nonetheless. He was always underfoot making this or that and leaving messes behind.  If he’d just clean as he went, she probably wouldn’t have minded so much. Smiling she thought of her new favorite in the home. Yuuri understood the concept .  But Nikolai made a huge mess and then spent the next day...the NEXT day...cleaning it up.  She took a bite of the warmed piroshki and hummed in begrudging agreement. “They are good, though.”

 

She continued to survey the deliveries and grunted in approval.  At least Lev didn’t screw up the order. Then she found the receipt of delivery and groaned at Nikolai’s signature.  Because the old man would have been able to read the note on the receipt. Why did Lev write that note on the receipt?  He couldn’t have written it in an envelope, keeping things private.  No, he had to put it out for all the world to see.  With a blush in her cheeks, she tucked it away.  Well into her forties, she felt silly indulging in a romance.   I’m not some giggly schoolgirl , she scoffed internally.  But...she had to admit that after the family went to bed, she was...lonely.

 

Drawing herself up, she determined to have a firm talk with Lev.  She washed her hands and dried them on the apron before heading off to complain to Nikolai.  She found him in the workshop building what looked like a cabinet out of cedar.

 

“I can’t believe that old grocer making a scene like that,” she fussed.

 

Nikolai chuckled warmly, looking up from his work with a welcoming smile.  Before him lay plans for a simple cabinet , the lotus design for the front, and the tools to make it all happen.  “Glad to see you made it home safe and sound. Did you find a bite to eat?”

 

She huffed at that.  “I told you to stay out of my kitchen.”

 

Nikolai grinned and shrugged.  “Yuuri supervised and made sure everything was cleaned up good and proper before you arrived home.”

 

“You probably didn’t get to the cleaning until the next day,” she puffed.

 

Again the old man shrugged.  “The cleaning is done. That’s all that matters.  Now...what do you think of this?” He showed her the design and she narrowed her eyes in confusion.

 

“I don’t know what this is for,” she admitted.

 

Nikolai turned back to the work before him, indicating to the cabinet and design, “Well, I’m helping Yuuri with an altar of sorts...he’s Shinto or Buddhist.  Not sure which this applies to.  He said that the beliefs intermingle at times but Shinto focuses on life so most mourning ceremonies are more Buddhist in nature.”

 

Olga took a few steps closer, eyes following to Nikolai’s work.  “Mourning?”

 

“Well, the poor boy has been through a lot.”  He turned to look up at her from the floor where he knelt.  “You’ve probably figured that out. I suspect that so-called mate of his hurt him quite a bit, probably some form of abuse.  He lost four babies along the way and has never had a chance to properly mourn them.” His voice had turned hard, angry but at the outrage Yuuri had suffered.  However it also carried the pain of loss. Olga waited while he cleared his throat, a sign that he was getting himself settled. “So Victor and I have determined to give him that chance.  And this...is part of his process.”

 

She was touched that the two men, neither omegas, could be so thoughtful...insightful.  “Is there...anything I can do to help?” she asked knowing how important it was to mourn and let go of those that are lost.

 

Nikolai considered, he didn’t trust her with a wood burning tool...“Well, I know he picked out a room but it’s in the back of the house.  It could probably use some attention.”

 

She smiled, “Do you know which it is?”

 

The older man turned, narrowing his eyes, thinking.  “Past that old cleaning closet at the back of the house.  You’ll see it. The furniture is sparse but he and Victor moved a cedar bench in there the other day.  I’m doing this cabinet and a shelf in cedar for him to work on building his altars.”

 

“I’ll get to that today.  Thank you for letting me know.”  She turned to leave, happy to move into work, after the kitchen is truly cleaned.  She thought of the young man, still new but already so much a part of them.  “Yuuri Toshiyavich has certainly been through a lot. It’s good to see that he’s decided to heal.”

 

“This is the place for it,” the old man grunted in agreement.

 




Yuuri watched his charge march up the stairs towards the front doors of the school with purpose and determination.   That can’t be good, he thought with amusement.  His teachers are going to have fun today.  Turning back, he thought about what Yura had told him the previous night.   Parents night.  I need to talk to Victor about this.  He then continued making a mental list of the things he needed to accomplish that day.

 

When he arrived back home, he breathed in the comfort of home.  However, he quickly noted how quiet the space seemed without Victor and Yura, almost empty.  Hugging himself, he wandered into the family room and found the TV. Turning it on, he found that it did have cable but he couldn’t figure out how to get subtitles on let alone if he could get them in a recognizable language.  He knew Japanese was probably out of the question but maybe English could be accessed. He knew he managed to do so in the various hotels when he was younger and competing. Competing…   He closed his eyes, remembering those days.  The height of his career, he made Junior World Champion, a gold medal at seventeen.  His time in seniors was less remarkable, getting used to the increased competition and the requirements, he’d barely gotten his first quad down when his body rebelled on him and he ended up pregnant.  He blinked away the tears. Turning off the TV in frustration, he wandered into the kitchen, finding Olga intent on scrubbing the kitchen from top to bottom, muttering in Russian.

 

“Can I help?” he offered.   Maybe it wasn’t quite clean enough.

 

She turned and smiled, and shook her head.  “No, it’s okay. I do this every time I come back.”

 

He shifted with uncertainty.  Her smile seemed to indicate that she wasn’t mad at him but he couldn’t say for sure.  Moving back into the family room, he pulled out his phone. He had two referrals to tend to and called to make an appointment with the psychiatrist found at the rink.   Abramovich .  Yuuri was happy to learn he could see the doctor on Wednesday afternoon when he came with Yura for lessons.  He then dialed the number for the omegologist recommended and was happy to learn they spoke English in that office.

 

“Ummm, my name is Katsuki Yuuri...or I guess you would put it as Yuuri Katsuki.”  He took a moment to spell it out for her and gave her his address and phone number before continuing.  “I just moved here but I need to schedule a preheat appointment?”

 

“When is your heat expected?” came the voice of the efficient receptionist.

 

“Three or four weeks.  I’m already feeling some of the initial aches and cramps and I’m not on suppressants.  Sometimes it comes early,” he informed her and heard her typing on the keyboard.

 

“Since this is your first appointment with us, Dr. Romanova would rather you come earlier than later.  Can you come in tomorrow? Say...around ten?”

 

Yuuri did some quick calculations between dropping Yura off at school then catching the bus.  He nodded feeling he could get there with time to spare. “That would be fine. Thank you.”

 

Appointments made, he knew he’d be seeing the nutritionist that afternoon to weigh in.  They wouldn’t officially visit until Friday but she asked him to drop in and check with her that day.  The family had worked with him since that visit to help him not focus so much on his intake and to keep his schedule.  He managed to get in at least five meals a day and could finish half a piroshki or a small plate of food during that time.  It was progress.

 

Studying his phone, he decided to reach out to family and friends, starting with Phichit.

 

Yuu-chan/ I’m seeing an omegologist on Tuesday.

 

He smiled when he spotted the dots indicating Phichit was already starting his reply.

 

Peaches/ Yae!  I’m so glad you are taking care of yourself.

 

Yuuri tucked his feet under the cushion of the couch, thinking about those words and realized they were true.

 

Yuu-chan/ I’ve got an appointment with a psychiatrist and a nutritionist, too.

 

Peaches/ I'm so glad to see you working on your recovery.

 

Yuuri considered Phichit's words.  He wouldn't have if he still lived in Japan.  He hid himself away and his parents were content to allow that convinced he would make his way out.  Except he wasn't.  Here, Victor observed Yuuri's struggles and encouraged him to get help, opening doors and making it easy.

 

Yuu-chan/ Victor doesn’t make it sound like weakness to get the help I need.

 

Peaches/ It isn’t weakness.  We all need to get help from time to time.

 

He smiled at his friend’s words.  Then he remembered the pictures from instagram...Phichit with a certain Swiss blonde...and decided to be a little nosy.

 

Yuu-chan/ Are you dating Chris?

 

I never was subtle , he waited for Phichit to put together his words.  Wandering through the living room, he pulled out the computer and opened it up.  He wanted to take classes and he found one that would let him take one online course at a time.  He had decided that was a good pace for him and, after researching the college’s credentials, began the admissions process.

 

Peaches/ I am...for a while now.

 

Yuuri smiled thinking of what he remembered of the fun loving older man.  He would be perfect for Phichit, equally bubbly and open with his emotions.

 

Yuu-chan/ I didn’t know he was an attorney.

 

Peaches/ He did his bachelors in business administration thinking he’d want to manage talent but then learned he’d be better suited to the job if he was an attorney.  He hasn’t been practicing long. About four years.

 

Yuuri paused for a moment.  If they had been together for a while, why weren’t they living closer?

 

Yuu-chan/ Why are you in Japan?

 

The dots danced for longer than Yuuri felt comfortable about.  It was clear that Phichit was choosing his words, editing, which meant protecting Yuuri from something.

 

Peaches/ Well...I had an opportunity to work for this software development firm to get my feet wet.  I want to start my own company and work from my home. Perfect for when I start a family.

 

Yuuri closed his eyes at those words, feeling the world swirl around him.  He let his thoughts settle and calm for the moment. However, it was that silence that probably sent Phichit into a panic because a flurry of messages followed.

 

Peaches/ I’m sorry!  I didn’t think.

 

Peaches/ I should have been more sensitive.

 

Peaches/ Are you okay?

 

Peaches/ Answer me or I’m calling.

 

Yuuri opened his eyes and thinned his lips.  Am I okay?  He focused on how he felt and realized for the first time, he was okay.  For the first time, he felt centered, safe, warm.

 

Yuu-chan/ It’s okay.  I’m okay.

 

Yuu-chan/ I’m working on being better.  Please don’t worry about me.

 

And please know that it’s okay to be happy for yourself.

 

Peaches/ I’m going to worry about you.  You’re my best friend.

 

Yuuri hugged himself as he thought about those words.  I’ve been a lousy friend.  It’s always been about me...never you.

 

Yuu-chan/ Did you take the job in Japan because of me?  So you could stay close? Watch over me?

 

Again a pause and Yuuri knew the answer in the hesitance.

 

Peaches/ Maybe...I mean, it’s a great opportunity and a great company but...all things being equal, yes.  You were the tipping point.

 

Yuuri squeezed his lids shut, small tears escaping.  Feelings of both sorrow and gratitude battled for supremacy.

 

Yuu-chan/ Peaches!  And then I just leave you there.

 

Peaches/ I’m fine.  Really. And maybe soon I can go off on my own and join Chris.

 

Yuuri smiled at that then frowned.   Where is Chris these days?

 

Yuu-chan/ And where would that be?

 

Hesitation then Phichit answered.

 

Peaches/ Europe.

 

Yuuri laughed at that answer.  Phichit, usually the fountain of information was being coy today.   Vague but okay .  That would still be closer.  He missed his best friend. Russia is part of Europe, maybe they could visit.

 

Yuu-chan/ Well, I guess he’s from Switzerland.

 

Peaches/ And speaks several languages.

 

No confirmation.  Yuuri closed his eyes and shook off the sneaking suspicion building in him.   They wouldn’t…

 




Olga opened the door to the claimed room after Yuuri left to take Yura to dance and skate.  The room had several unnecessary pieces of furniture and she’d gotten out of Yuuri what he wanted for the space.  She’d pull out her sewing machine and make him some decent cushions later. For now, this room needed a thorough cleaning.

 

With Nikolai’s help, she removed the excess furniture and then began working over the space, knocking down cobwebs, dusting, sweeping and mopping.  She beat the rug into submission and then replaced it, vacuuming it for good measure. Moving around the room, she said her own prayers to bless the space.   My friend, I want you to find healing here.   Then finally pulling out the furniture polish, she brought out the surface of the bench, seeing the fine grain of the cedar come to life beneath her loving care.

 

This home is for healing; broken spirits come together to rebuild one another under this roof.

 




Victor looked around the dining room, always happiest when his entire family was back under one roof.  He could tell something was on Yuuri’s mind and he’d work to get it out of him when they were alone. For now, he enjoyed the company of his loved ones, listening to Olga and Nikolai bicker back and forth, Yura’s description of his day and how Otabek stood up to a teacher that wasn’t being fair with an echo of, “he’s so cool!”  Victor made note to follow up on that with Yuuri later.

 

As dinner broke up, he snagged the unusually quiet omega rather than letting him sneak into the chores of cleaning the kitchen.  “Come with me while I take out Makkachin.”

 

Yuuri shifted uncomfortably but nodded, retrieving Ren’s leash, following Victor out into the night air.  They wouldn’t go far but there was a park a block away. Victor’s hand rested casually on the small of Yuuri’s back, guiding him towards the well lit portion of the park.  “So, I have an event I need to attend this weekend. Saturday. It’s here in St. Petersburg. I was hoping you would be my plus one so I don’t have to endure it alone.” Victor could have laughed at himself, nervous like a school boy asking his crush to a dance.  But that’s exactly how he felt at the moment.

 

Yuuri blinked and looked up in surprise.  “I don’t...we didn’t get anything for me to wear...not for anything like that,” he protested.

 

Victor chuckled, tweaking Yuuri’s nose.  “I’m aware. We’ll take care of that. Will you join me?”

 

Yuuri took a cleansing breath.  He hadn’t planned reentering the skating world.   What if Shuji is there?   “Who...is attending?”

 

If Victor caught the tension in Yuuri’s voice, he betrayed no sign of it.  “It’s a mixer for my skaters with their sponsors and some of the local officials.  Not too big. I thought it would be a good place for you to get your feet wet.”

 

Yuuri thought he heard an emphasis on local , putting him closer to comfort.   Local means Russian.   Yuuri knew how to behave in these events.  He’d grown up attending them. He’d gone in the beginning on Shuji’s arm...until he escaped his alpha that time with Chris and Phicihit.  Drawing a deep breath, he nodded. “I can go.”

 

Victor’s smile was beaming, even in the light of dusk.  “Good...now my schedule is packed but Katya volunteered to take you and help you pick out an outfit.”

 

Yuuri felt himself warming to the idea, especially if Katya was involved.  “I’d...like that. I enjoy Katya’s company.”

 

“And she, yours.  She’ll be happy to call and set up a time.  And she drives, so you don’t have to worry about the bus.”

 

Yuuri scratched at his neck and tugged at his collar.  Tomorrow, I’ll be alone on the bus.  “Okay.”  He needed to ask Victor about the parents night...and make sure he remembered.  “About...Thursday...”

 

Victor pulled his eyes away from the two poodles and focused on Yuuri.  “Yes?”

 

“Yura...sort of asked me if I’d go to his parent night.  I didn’t know how you’d feel about that.” He ducked down, remaining still until he felt a hand slide down his back, fingers centering on his spine.  He shivered and looked up.

 

Victor’s expression was soft, “I meant to say something earlier.  I actually planned to take you."  Then he grinned sheepishly and added, "It helps...single mothers tend to latch onto any single man, single alpha...it helps.”

 

“So...you don’t mind?”

 

Victor laughed softly at the idea of being upset that Yuuri was an integral part of his son’s life.  “Mind? I’d rather you be there than not, Yuuri. It’s fine. Really. I told you from the beginning that I want you to have a presence in my son’s life, that I wanted...more than a nanny for him.  He needs a maternal figure...and he seems to have grabbed hold of you.”

 

Yuuri blushed, glancing away.  “I...didn’t expect it to be so easy.”

 

“Honestly, I didn’t either.  But he’s quite loyal to you. And I think this is a good thing.”

 

Hugging himself, Yuuri nodded.  He did, too. If he was honest with himself, he’d admit that he wanted this family so much.

 

With a gentle urging of the hand, they turned back towards the house.  Yuuri told Victor about his appointments and was met with a hum of approval.  Victor supported his recovery and didn’t make him feel any less for it. For that, he was grateful.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 14:   Songs of friendship and family

 

Yuuri shifted nervously on the bus, his anxiety seeming to keep people away.  Just as well, he didn’t want to deal with unwanted touches on his body. It was the last thing he wanted to deal with.  Eyes would occasionally glance his way. An older beta woman noticed his discomfort right away and moved her body to block his view of the group of alpha boys sitting in the back.  Yuuri didn’t get the chance to see them, nor them him as she hustled bags to close off his view. However, his panic did cause some of the others to move away from him. As the bus came to his stop, he quickly exited and focused on the clinic before him.  Her dark eyes followed him, tempted to trial him, but she breathed a sigh of relief watching him step into the office building.

 

The omega lost no time getting inside, quietly grateful that the office could be seen from the stop.  The nurse manning the front counter smiled her understanding, ushering him in the room. After an awkward greeting in which Yuuri used the far too formal “ privet ”, she learned he spoke English.  The friendly woman had only a few broken phrases of her own but knew the receptionist was bilingual and would be able to help him better.  She handed him a series of papers. Then the woman smiled and patted his shoulder, explaining in heavily accented, entirely broken English that she was going to “git da secretionary.”

 

Yuuri blinked at the odd statement, knowing something had been lost in translation, then stared at the clipboard holding the intake sheet.   In Russian .  He closed his eyes on tears of inadequacy.  Today had beaten him soundly. The horror of the bus, the sounds of a city he didn’t know and the language he couldn’t make out, now this final stumbling block had him ready to give up.   How am I going to do this?  I can’t drag someone with me to translate .  Swallowing, he looked up, hoping for help when he watched the nurse exchange words with another coming back from her break.  The woman turned and offered him an encouraging smile before joining his side.

 

“Unfortunately, we don’t have this form in English.  Perhaps I can help you. My name is Jeannie and I’m here with my husband from America.  It took me some time to find my feet as well.”

 

“I...have a tendency to become overwhelmed,” Yuuri admitted softly, his hand shaky as he held the pen.  He watched her take the pen and clipboard from him and they began working through the questions on the paper.

 

She gave him a warm smile and put a hand over his, giving it a light squeeze.  “How will you be paying for the services today?”

 

“Oh...ummm…”  He fumbled for the credit card and handed it to her.  “My...ummm...he gave me this?”

 

“Your alpha?” she asked.

 

Yuuri blushed then shook his head, hugging himself.  “I’m here...as a companion omega. To take care of his son,” he whispered.

 

She nodded and kept her voice light.  “Oh, so...your employer?”

 

Yuuri scrunched his nose.  It was a muddy word. Not really but yes .  It was the closest to what they were...for right now.  Yuuri nodded.

 

She hummed, copying the credit card information down, “I’ll have to call and make sure you’re authorized to charge on this card.”

 

“It’s fine.”  Yuuri blushed at his quick response.   Calm down.  “He’s already arranged it.  Another is on its way with my name on it but they said I could use this until then.”

 

Jeannie smiled again, “Good.  Then we’ll handle it. A quick phone call and you’ll be in good order.”

 

Yuuri sighed with relief, his arms still wrapped tight around him, his stress levels still high and he felt her hand slide down his back.

 

“It’s okay, Mr. Katsuki, we’re going to take care of you.”

 

He turned to look into her eyes, not for the first time since meeting her did he notice that she had a kind expression.  Feeling himself relax more in her presence, “Yuuri, please...and thank you. I-I’ve had a difficult journey to get here but so many people have been kind.”

 

She nodded in understanding, “Maybe I can help you a little more.  When I first arrived, the hardest part was the language. Reading and writing in Russian.  Most people don’t know this but Russian is one of the hardest languages to learn because it’s such a widely spread language.”  She laughed remembering the intricacies of stumbling over sounds her American tongue had never formed before. “My husband found me a course.  It’s an evening class but they focus on teaching adults trying to learn the language, both written and spoken. It will help you to become functionally literate...which is a start.”

 

“When does it meet?”  Yuuri jumped at the opportunity.  Something in him set into motion with the challenge.   Russian hard?  Cute…I’m Japanese, we have three alphabets.

 

She hummed as she thought back.  “At the time, it met on Mondays. I can get the information for you while you are visiting Dr. Romanova.”

 

“I would love to find out more.  Thank you.” The chance to learn, to become more independent energized him and Yuuri felt excitement all over.  Looking down he saw his feet shifting, my feet are excited.  How long has it been?

 

“Of course.  I’m happy to help out.”  She rose, offering him a hand.  “Now, let’s go back and get your vitals.  I’ll serve as your interpreter as needed.”

 

Soon his vitals were taken and he was in an exam room.  Jeannie explained that the doctor spoke excellent English and left Yuuri in her care, returning to the front desk, but promising that she would speak with him again before he left.  As the doctor entered, he began apologizing, “I’m sorry I pulled your receptionist from her work. I just...I haven’t learned the language.”

 

The doctor clucked at him.  “Don’t be silly, Mr. Katsuki.  It is why we hired her. I receive a number of English speaking expats here.  As soon as one patient learned I studied abroad, and learned English that way, word spread and now almost one third of my patients are English speakers with limited Russian.  Therefore, it makes sense to have someone who can help serve as an interpreter.”

 

“Thank you...you can call me Yuuri,” he murmured.

 

She smiled warmly.  “Okay, Yuuri. Are you ready for your exam?”

 

He shook his head.  “Not really...but it needs to be done.”  He flicked his eyes down, hugging the gown around him.  At least it wasn’t tissue paper. “I...I came from a bad place.”

 

“You’re safe here,” she reassured him slowly approaching him, making sure to catch his eye before she moved too close.  “Let’s see what we have to work with.” She nodded to the male nurse and talked to him in Russian before continuing. “We’re going to begin with an external exam but then I want to do an internal exam to ensure your health.  However, we’ll go slowly and I’ll make sure you understand each step. Is this alright?”

 

Yuuri drew a shaky breath and nodded.  He allowed her to lower the gown to his waist.  She didn’t flinch at the condition she found his body, but instead kept her professional mask in place, calling back notes to the nurse who typed them into the computer.  She pressed and palpated different locations working through a thorough upper body exam including breast and lymph nodes.

 

Pulling the gown back into place, she asked him, “I need to do a genital exam next.  We’ll do the external first, then I want to do an internal. I doing this because it’s important to make sure we don’t have any medical concerns before we move forward to discuss what you need and want out of your upcoming heats.  Okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded, lying back.  He felt the gown move up to his waist, her hands checking him to make sure there were no signs of swelling or long term damage from the abuse he suffered.  She knew. Yuuri knew she knew. He wondered if she’d ignore it like doctors in the past ignored it. Then she adjusted his body to examine him internally, the rectal exam for an omega being a little more extensive than that of a beta or alpha male.  Finally, she pulled the gown back down and helped him to sit back up.

 

She smiled warmly, “I’m going to let you get dressed.  Then I’ll come back and we’ll talk about where we need to go from here.  Okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded, his eyes wide.  He watched her leave the exam room talking to the nurse.  As the door secured, he retrieved his clothes and got dressed as quickly as possible, needing its armor to face the rest of the exam.  He then waited, glancing down as his phone pinged.

 

Katya/ Are you busy today?

 

Yuu-chan/ I’m at my doctor’s appointment.  Omegologist.

 

Katya/ Text me when you’re finished and I’ll pick you up.  We can grab lunch.

 

Yuuri thought about the bus ride to the clinic and quickly sent a text to agree.  He didn’t think he could emotionally deal with the bus after the clinic.

 

He heard a knock and gave a quiet come in , the doctor entering with a smile.  This time alone. “I’ve ordered a blood panel and urine panel before you leave.  Jeannie will take you to visit with the lab tech. I want to make sure you’re clean and disease free.”

 

Yuuri’s eyes widened.  “Oh, but I haven’t…” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “There’s only been him.”

 

She thinned her lips, seeing the harsh realities of life more often than not.  “I suspect he wasn’t as loyal to you.”

 

“I...wasn’t loyal to him,” Yuuri muttered.  “I was afraid of him.”

 

Since he opened the door, she chose to push in.  “Let’s talk about that. Are you still with that alpha?”

 

He shook his head.  “I... he had it annulled.”  Yuuri almost scoffed at the irony of that.  After years of being kept, isolated, and abused, it would be Shuji who ended it.  “I wasn’t... pleasing him anymore.  Probably because I no longer cared; I no longer reacted with fear to the bullshit he put me through.”

 

She had sat listening to him in silence.  Grim lines on her face deepening. “How long ago?”

 

How long had it been?   He counted back.  He knew Victor had two trips planned for November and his heat would be at the end of October.  “Eight months.” Really?  Eight months?  That long but also that short a period of time.  “I was in Japan.  I thought...coming here would put some distance between us, give me a chance to restart.”

 

“And how is it working out?” she asked quietly.

 

Yuuri looked up to meet her gaze.  “I’m...much better than before. I still have bad days but I’m learning to smile again, to eat without counting my bites, to...find my place once again.”

 

She nodded, “Good.  Now...I have some questions I have to ask you.  Are you ready?”

 

Yuuri took a deep breath and nodded.

 

The doctor licked her lips, inhaling slightly.  She knew the answer but had to ask the question, “Have you been pregnant before?”

 

Yuuri closed his eyes, biting back the tears.   I can do this.  I can do this. “Y-yes.  Four times.”

 

She blinked, her mask slipping but quickly put back into place.  Her suspicion confirmed but worse than she had assumed. “Do you have any children of your own?”

 

“They all...I had three miscarriages and one...died shortly after he was born,” he stated quietly, his hand going to his heart in a fist.  “I guess...I’m not good to carry children.”

 

“I wouldn’t say that.”  She took a deep breath. Sometimes it was hard to remain clinical.  “I can tell from the exam that you’ve had some abuse, some starvation and neglect.  If it’s been eight months, I suspect the starvation has been rather extensive.” She paused a moment, letting Yuuri rest before heading into the darkest part of their conversation.  “There is some scarring that indicates sexual abuse from your partner. He...didn’t treat you gently.”

 

Yuuri shook his head slowly, his arms wrapping around his body, rocking to comfort himself.

 

She watched his body language carefully, making sure to give him time to calm before pushing forward.  “Did you receive proper medical care during your pregnancies?”

 

“At first...but...he never let me see the same doctor twice,” Yuuri answered quietly.

 

The doctor couldn’t help the frustrated sigh that left her lips.  This was a problem too common in her field. The alpha would move them to prevent reporting.  “These factors alone could lead to the loss of your children. Once you get to a healthier place, we can discuss the possibility of more children.  For now, I would like to see you on birth control at the very least to prevent pregnancy before your body has healed. I’d also suggest suppressant therapy until you are more emotionally healed to resume regular heats.”

 

Yuuri blinked at those words.  “I...I’ve never been allowed either of those.”

 

She thinned her lips.  “I’m not surprised. You’ve been denied the basic care afforded to most omegas.  However, we can make that right starting today. And when you’re ready and you’re in a healthier place, both physically and emotionally, we can discuss pregnancy...if that’s what you want.”

 

Yuuri felt almost lightheaded as he allowed himself to be led to the lab tech’s office, blood and urine samples given, finishing paperwork and then he found himself outside the clinic.  The possibility of children. It was something that startled him, terrified him...but a small part felt the warmth of hope. Looking down at the note from Jeannie, he smiled. Not only did she give him the information for the class, but her name and number with the offer of friendship.

 

Friends...oh, Katya!   He pulled out his phone and texted that he was finished.  Finding a bench, he sat and waited, his thoughts moving to the possibility of a child.  He felt the elation but he also felt the nagging doubt quickly tumbling into panic. I’ve already lost four...I’m a bad omega...I can’t even do this one thing right .  He blinked away his tears, hand going to his chest, rocking resumed.   If I hadn’t gone back into that room with him, if I had stayed in the open where my coach could find me...I messed everything up.  I…

 

A red Kia Sportage pulled up and a familiar form exited the vehicle, quickly going to kneel before him.  “Oh, Yuuri...these appointments are so hard. I wish you would have called. I would have come with you.”

 

“It’s just…”  He trailed off, letting Katya guide him to the SUV and situate him inside.  He hated this weakness in him. She climbed in the opposite side and soon they were driving down the street.  She didn’t push, merely waited. Finally, he sucked back the hiccup and began, “The doctor said I might be able to have a baby still...th-that it was because of the neglect that I probably lost my babies.”  He stopped, memory began mixing with his guilt, changing the words. “I...didn’t take care of myself. I couldn’t keep myself healthy for my babies.”

 

“She said that?” Katya asked sharply.

 

Yuuri slowly shook his head.  “Not...exactly. She said... he abused me, he neglected me.”  Yuuri turned to her, not willing to let go of his own feeling of shame, “But...shouldn’t I be able to take care of myself?”

 

Katya drew a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “Not necessarily. Sometimes we lack the means or we’ve been beaten down so much emotionally that we lack the will to take care of ourselves.  That’s where your alpha comes into play. He was responsible for providing you with a healthy environment while you were in his care. But your alpha refused to do that, and made that impossible for you to do it for yourself.  He orchestrated everything that happened to you, and to your babies. That’s not on you. That’s on him.”

 

Yuuri thought of their first year together, Shuji’s response to the pregnancy.  The look of disgust on his face as his eyes traveled to Yuuri’s abdomen. The words he spat, just don’t get too fat.   “I didn’t...please him.  He...wanted me to stay small but without skating, with the pregnancy, I gained weight.  And...he locked away the food. If I’d just controlled myself…”

 

She drummed the steering wheel, and the set of her face was that of barely disguised rage.  “No, Yuuri...you don’t get to take this on yourself. Gaining weight is part of being pregnant.  Your body changes. But control...monitoring what you eat to stay skinny...that’s not part of it.  He was an abusive asshole, likely just looking for an excuse to hurt you. Just enough to keep the police off of his back.  But still, enough to hurt you deeply, keep you dependent on him. This is on him. Not you.” She took a deep breath and let it out before continuing.  “I know Victor well and he wouldn’t let you around his son if he thought you were a bad omega. And I know Yura...that little boy would make your life a living hell if you were a bad omega.  The mere fact that he wants you around tells you all you need to know. You, my friend, are a fantastic omega.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself.  He’d listened and some of her words soaked in.  Only some, but for Yuuri that was a start. He still didn’t feel good but he knew he’d get there.

 

“Did she give you any prescriptions?” Katya asked.

 

Yuuri shook himself out of his panic, now settled in the car and more relaxed.  He looked down at the paper, written in both English and Cyrillic. “I...received a birth control shot.  She wants me on these vitamins and to continue the therapy with the nutritionist. She was glad I’m seeing a psychiatrist tomorrow and starting counseling.  She suggested...a gentler, more organic lubricant for my heat.” Yuuri’s face went red as he realized he just casually slipped that out. However, Katya didn’t flinch.

 

“I’ll take you to the pharmacy and help you get what you need before I take you home.  First, we’re going to a place I used to take Yelena after her appointments. They...left her shaken as well.”

 

Yuuri blinked out his window, whispering, “I’m sorry.”

 

They pulled to a stop at a red light and Katya used the moment to turn to him, taking his hand.  “No, Yuuri...you are not a burden. You don’t say I’m sorry...merely thank you .  Because I’m your friend.”

 

Yuuri drew a deep breath and let it out.  How many times did Phichit say the same thing to him?  He whispered, “Thank you.”

 




The teahouse was welcoming and soon they had warm mugs before them along with sandwiches.  “I love a good chicken salad sandwich,” Katya murmured warmly. Yuuri watched her spoon jam in her tea and she caught him wrinkling his nose.  Her eyes danced with mirth at the one thing Russians knew made them singular. “It’s a Russian thing. I’m sure you’ve seen Victor do the same.”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “I think I wrinkle my nose at him as well.  My mother is so particular about tea and I grew up learning how to recognize the different types of tea and the grade.  I guess...part of growing up in a resort.”

 

“Now that sounds fascinating,” Katya pushed gently.  “Tell me about it.”

 

Yuuri shrugged.  “It’s an onsen, hot spring baths that they began diversifying.  They built up the restaurant first then added on the inn, turning it into a proper ryokan.  It serves as a steady income and has provided jobs for the community.”

 

“But...it wasn’t for you,” Katya surmised as she took a sip of her tea.

 

Yuuri shook his head, his eyes straying out the window, watching the foot traffic.  “Even there, I didn’t feel safe. After...he was gone, I had the mark tying me to him removed.  People of my hometown were okay, perhaps a little reserved. But some guests...they see an unmated omega and think...I’m open for...whatever.”

 

She hummed in understanding.  “I get that. Even at twenty-four, I have to deal with that.  It’s like they act as if I’m past the age of marriage. So therefore, I must be a bit of a slut.  I just can’t wait until they see me as a pathetic old maid and leave me alone.”

 

Yuuri chuckled, “Beta women...do they deal with this crap?”

 

“Yes, but I don’t think to this degree.  But it’s harder as an omega. We have to work so hard to be seen beyond our secondary gender.  I would love to be seen as a person first, then as a hard worker, a caring friend, perhaps a bit of a daredevil,” she winked “and many other things second before my gender, either gender.”

 

“Agreed.”  He continued staring out the window.   If only people had seen me as a figure skater and nothing else.   He wanted to say so much, to open up and tell her everything, but...she’s also Victor’s friend.  Sighing, he decided to focus on the safe things first. “Yura wants me to go to his parents night.”

 

“That’s great!” Katya responded, her warmth effusive.  Yuuri found his eyes drawing back to her, finally taking in her features, dark blue eyes, deep red hair.  She was warm and open, a comfort. “Yura has been longing for someone like you for some time. Since...his mother passed away...he’s had a hard time letting someone in.  He must see something in you that he wants to hold onto.”

 

Yuuri mulled over those words.   I’m someone...worth holding onto .  That thought overwhelmed him and he didn’t realize a tear spilled over until she reached across the table to gently brush it away.  “It’s hard...to feel wanted. As a person, not a possession.”

 

Katya sighed, keeping her hand in place on his cheek, “That’s how he treated you, isn’t it?  Someone...to own, not to love.”

 

Yuuri laughed bitterly.  “Shuji didn’t know how to love.  He only knew pain and his own selfish pleasure.  He never asked what would make me happy, what would make me want to stay, because why would he care.  He had me, and there was nothing I could do about it. With him it was always...how can I hurt you, turn you into beautiful agony?”  He blinked at those words. A memory from the first years coming to his mind. “That’s...what he called it,” he whispered. “ Beautiful agony ...and I was supposed to achieve it.  But...after a long time, I became numb.  He would change up what he did, cut my diet, but nothing got the response he wanted and he started losing interest.”

 

“Oh, Yuuri,” Katya murmured softly.  “No one deserves what you went through.”

 

He forced a smile, pushing to change the subject.  “Victor said he wants me to go to this event.”

 

Katya smiled knowingly, “Yes...it’s for sponsors.  As head coach of the club, he’s expected to be there to represent the skaters.  I’ll be attending as my sister’s guardian. She isn’t old enough for commercial sponsors but Victor has put forth that she’s promising and he wants to start building interest in her career.”

 

Yuuri’s expression showed relief.  “A familiar face would be welcome. I haven’t been to one of these in a long time.  Shuji stopped taking me after awhile.”

 

“Don’t worry.  Maybe tomorrow, we can go pick out our outfits together.”  She sensed his mood had perked up, and decided to poke fun at herself.  Putting on the air of a diva she continued, “I have dated several skaters in my lifetime so I’ve been to these things as well.”

 

Yuuri smiled at that.  “Are you...dating anyone now?”

 

She shook her head, but then dropped her chin, a secret smile meeting a soft blush.  “I mean...there is someone I like. He was once a figure skater and we’ve gone out before.  Just as friends. But...I wouldn’t mind if it was more than friends. His name is Pyotr Rabinovich and he’s one of the coaches on Victor’s team.”  She shrugged, her expression sobering. “But...I’ve got Mila. It’s not like he’s going to want to be saddled with a kid.”

 

Yuuri thought about that but then shook his head.  “I can’t say for sure but I think...if he likes you, he’d take the whole deal.”

 

She chewed her bottom lip “Maybe...but what if he says no?”

 

Yuuri chuckled softly, his expression soft.  “A friend would counter...what if he says yes?  Wouldn’t that be an adventure?” He watched her blushed then shake her hands in front of her face.

 

“No...maybe.”  She sputtered, “Next subject!”

 

He shrugged after, adding, “I don’t know about these things, though...I’ve never really had a choice.”

 

She sobered looking at the young man, “Wh-when did he take you?”

 

Yuuri sucked in his breath, blinking away his tears again.  He knows somewhere inside he needs to talk about these things, that it’s good to talk.  But some things he’s not ready to discuss.

 

Katya seemed to sense that because she followed up with a squeeze of his hand, saying, “It’s okay, Yuuri.  You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. Not if you’re not ready. But...I’m here if you need to talk.  I can handle the ugly things in life.”

 

Yuuri huffed softly, “What do you know about the ugly things?”

 

“Not a lot...thankfully.  I’ve been lucky. There have been a lot of people looking out for me along the way.”  She squeezed his hand and added, “Something tells me there weren’t enough looking after you.”

 

“Just once,” he whispered.  “Just the one time...is all it took.  I lost track of my coach. I panicked.  I went...to an official. They’re supposed to help you.”

 

“Oh, Yuuri…” she breathed.

 

Yuuri focused on his breathing, his voice was raspy but still came out strong enough to hear, “Fourteen...I was fourteen.  I had presented early. And I was afraid to tell anyone what happened.”

 

She held his hand the whole time, held it with both of hers as if giving him all of her strength, giving him the courage to pull those words out of him.  “You...have so much left of yourself,” she finally murmured into the silence. “So much to offer...I know sometimes you don’t see it but I know a little boy that greatly appreciates it.”

 

At the mention of Yura, the omega looked at the clock.  “Shit! I need to go get him from school.”

 

She looked at the clock and nodded firmly.  “Don’t panic. We’ve got time. Let me get the check and we’ll drive over to pick him up.”

 

She drove him to the school and could tell that he was emotionally drained.  “I’ll take you both home,” she insisted.

 

“We can walk.  I don’t want to be any trouble,” he protested.

 

She waved him off.  “Don’t be silly. It’s no trouble at all.”

 

Soon he returned with Yura in tow, opening the door to settle the five year old into the back seat, fastening the seat belt.  The child only politely acknowledged Katya, staring out the window in a full blown pout as they pulled onto the road. “Lilia would say your behavior isn’t very beautiful,” Katya pointed out.

 

Yura shrugged, unwilling to be baited into a conversation.  Yuuri murmured an apology but Katya shrugged it off. “Yura and I’ve been around each other too long.  I know his moods.”




Katya dropped Yuuri off at the house promising to pick them both up tomorrow morning for Yura’s school and then to take Yuuri shopping.  “Now you make sure Victor pays for this. It’s his event after all.”

 

Yuuri nodded although he didn’t feel comfortable with it.  He should be getting paid that evening. Maybe Katya could help him set up a checking account.  Having his own income was an appealing quality. Independence came with a financial identity, and that was the first step to truly establishing himself...and possible citizenship.  Before he could ask Katya must have sensed his reluctance, however, because she murmured once more, “Let him love you.”

 

Yuuri looked up, a blush on his cheeks.   I’m scared...and so broken.  Why would he want me?

 

The words remained unspoken but Katya smiled in understanding as if she heard the them herself.  “He won’t shy away from it...and Yelena would approve.” And with that, she got back into the SUV and drove off.  Yuuri turned back to enter the house after the pouty boy.

 

He found Yura in the kitchen begging a snack from Olga.  She looked Yuuri up and down and then thinned her lips as she considered what she had on hand.  “Why don’t the two of you share a piroshki?” she suggested.

 

Yuuri opened his mouth to protest but clamped it shut just as quickly.  He’d just had lunch with Katya. But then again, it had been probably a little over an hour and Yuuri hadn’t eaten much throughout the morning.  He was emotionally drained from the omegologist, which meant he should eat. So finally he stared at the half piroski on his plate, turning to meet inquiring green eyes.

 

“You gonna eat that?”  The little boy practically barked the question as an order.

 

“Going to...and I should,” Yuuri corrected quietly.

 

He watched Yura scarf down the other half, licking his fingers before taking off to play with Potya.  Reaching for Yura’s schoolwork, he started sorting the work to be done. Really, five-year-olds need to be playing, not doing homework.   As he dug through the folder, he found a note clipped inside.  Frowning at the unfamiliar letters, he knew he needed to work on this, his illiteracy and lack of general knowledge of the language once again hitting him square in the face.

 

He brought the note over to the other omega, “Olga, what does this say?”

 

She read over it with a frown.  “The teacher wants to make sure parents are coming to the parents night because there is a part dedicated to mothers and fathers.”  She looked at the wording, the way parents had been written so deliberately.  There was something tricky about it, but she wasn’t sure what.  Eventually she huffed, returning the note to Yuuri, “Maybe they’ve had some too busy to make an appearance in past years.”

 

Yuuri raised an eyebrow, “I know Victor was planning to attend but I’ll make sure he sees this.  I wonder if that’s what Yura’s all surly about.”

 

Olga shrugged, returning to her preparations for the night’s meal, “He knows you’re coming, doesn’t he?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “I just hate seeing him upset.”



Victor read the note when he arrived home, noting his son’s behavior during dinner.  He didn’t think much of the note, reading it over and then tossing it aside. The little blond picked at his food and then sulked up the stairs for his bath.  “I’ll talk to him after his bath and see what I can get out of him,” he promised both omegas, their expressions worried.

 

Yuuri attended the boy in his bath and continued to worry when he didn’t play that much, just  washing up and then ready to get out. Dressed in his pajamas, he crawled into bed. “I want three books,” he demanded.

 

Yuuri smiled warmly, at least this was a spark of their little tiger.  “I think your papa plans to read to you tonight. I’ll just go get him and tell him you’re ready.”




Victor sat down on the side of Yura’s bed.  He’d watch Yuuri slip into his room ahead of him and fought the urge to follow.  He could tell from Yuuri’s pinched expression that more than Yura’s behavior was weighing on him.

 

“So what’s on your mind?”

 

Yura shrugged, handing him a book.  Victor tapped his lip and reached for a different one.  “How about I read this one instead?”  The story told of a petulant, impatient child and how they learned how exhausting it was to take care of one so demanding.  Putting the book down, he asked Yura, “So, are you going to talk to me?”

 

Yura looked away and huffed.  “I want Yuuri to be my mama at the parents night.”

 

Victor smoothed the boys hair and could tell this was really important to him.  “Have you asked Yuuri?”

 

The boy shook his head, his chin dropping.  “What if he says no?”

 

Victor pressed a kiss into Yura’s forehead.  “Does that sound like our Yuuri?”

 

He shook his head, wideyed.  “N-no.”

 

“Why don’t you ask him now?”  Victor sat back as the boy scrambled out of his bed.

 




Yura first looked in Yuuri’s room and found it empty.   Where would he be?   He then ran down the stairs, finding his father moving into the family room, a book in his lap.  But, no Yuuri. With a huff, he bounded into the kitchen and all he found was Olga finishing her clean up.  She told him she didn’t know where Yuuri had gotten off to.


The little boy finally found Yuuri in the ballet studio stretching, lost in thought.  Yura watched him work down into a split, his eyes closed as he breathed into the stretch.  Pulling his small form to its full height, he walked with determination to Yuuri’s point of focus, standing in the middle of his splits.  He moved to sit in front of Yuuri, his legs wrapping around him, bending over Yuuri’s legs. “Do you think one day I can do the splits?”

 

“You can...it takes a little work but you are already quite flexible.  If you want, I can help you work on it,” Yuuri offered, resting his hands on those little legs.  Yuuri could tell he was working up the courage to speak so he continued to stretch, reaching towards one of his feet and waited.

 

Yura’s hand danced up and down Yuuri’s outer arm.  Finally, Yura asked him, shouting “willyoubemymamaforparentsnight,” all in one tumbling word.

 

Yuuri blinked in surprise, his brain did a quick translation.  Then a sob slipped free, the entire day falling out of him at once, and the tears broke loose.

 

Yura started, horrified that he upset Yuuri and ran out of the room to get his papa, crying, “I didn’t mean to make Yuuri cry...I didn’t mean to…”

 

Victor met his son in the hallway and pulled the blubbering mess into his lap, pressing a kiss into that rumpled blond hair.  “I know...and it probably wasn’t just you. I think something was bothering Yuuri from earlier. Okay?”

 

Yura nodded, his eyes turning back towards where he left Yuuri.  “He’s really sad.”

 

Victor nodded to the boy’s question.  “I tell you what. You go on up to bed and I’ll check on Yuuri.  You can look at books until one of us comes up to see you. Okay?”

 

Yura nodded, jumping down to do as he’s told.


Victor’s eyes watched the boy bolt up the stairs.  Sighing he finally realized why his mother’s breath caught every time he or his brother ran up and down the stairs.  Turning towards the solarium, he tended to the matter at hand. Entering the room, he found Yuuri knees to chest as he rocked back and forth crying.  Victor frowned, not sure how to handle these tears.

 

He sat down next to the younger man, a hand on Yuuri’s back, his own legs butterflied out.  Then he startled in surprise when the small form crawled into his lap, continuing to cry. Victor’s arms circled the man but he admitted, “I don’t know what you need,” he murmured, pressing a kiss into his hair.  He resumed running his hand up and down Yuuri’s back murmuring assurances, “You’re safe. This is a safe place for tears.” And Yuuri listened, letting them on out.

 

He looked up and spotted his son lingering by the door.  Of course, he’d come down and check himself. He nodded inviting him into the space.  Soon Yura wound up into the knot of bodies, his arms also around Yuuri. He cried his own plea.  “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

 

Yuuri drew himself up slightly, shoving away his tears, focusing on the boy beside him.  “You...didn’t make me cry, Yura,” he managed to get out. “I just...there were a lot of emotions for me today.  And some bad memories mixed in there as well. And all four of them...my babies...all of them...they died. And I n-need to cry for them.  I just now am finding my tears for them.”

 

Victor watched Yuuri swallow his sobs, wiping away his tears, sitting up straighter, focusing on the tiny blonde.  He was a snotty mess and Victor found a handkerchief in his pocket, offering it to Yuuri. The omega thanked him and began mopping his face.

 

Yura was turning the omega’s words over in his mind.  “Why...just now? Why didn’t you cry for them before?”

 

Yuuri leaned his cheek against Victor’s shoulder, needing his strength.  Sliding his hand down Yura’s cheek, tangling into the baby fine blond hair, he murmured, “I wasn’t allowed until now.”

 

The boy seemed to be thinking hard about Yuuri and what he revealed.  Finally he said quietly, “You don’t have to do the mom thing if you don’t want to.  I don’t want to make you sad.”

 

Yuuri shook his head and answered, “The mom thing makes me happy, Yura...I want to be there for you.  I’m very flattered that you asked me.” He pulled the small form into his arms, pressing a kiss into Yura’s hair.  He didn’t know how to define what he felt in this bundle of arms but he thought it might be...family.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 15:   Every ending is a new beginning...

 

Yuuri waited by the curb, Yura holding onto his hand smartly.  It had been a bit of confusion for the little blonde to understand that they weren’t walking to school that morning.  However as soon as he learned they were riding to school...and that he would arrived with one of the cooler older kids, he was very enthusiastic.  The child pointed as Katya pulled to a stop nearby.  “Hi, Katya,” he greeted. “Mila! How are you?”

 

The little redhead peeked out from the back, “I’m okay.  We’re going to school together.”

 

The blonde tumbled into the backseat, suddenly urging to be independent like the older girl, “Is Beka in your class?”

 

Mila smiled at the little boy, an understanding forming in her mind.  She realized that he didn’t want to impress her, but someone else. “No, but I’ve met him.  He’s in the class next to mine. With Mrs. Polova.”

 

Yura mulled that over for a moment and then asked sincerely, “Is she nice?”

 

Mila made a face and shrugged before turning in interest to meet her sister’s friend.  “Hi, I’m Mila.”

 

Yuuri chuckled as he settled into the front passenger seat, greeting the exuberant girl.  “Hello, I’m Yuuri.”

 

“He’s my omega!” Yura declared.

 

Katya raised an eyebrow at the phrasing and Yuuri blushed.  “I’m his companion omega,” Yuuri corrected.  Turning to look at the little blonde and silently reminding him to buckle up.

 

“What’s that?” Mila asked with curiosity.

 

“It means he’s like my mom,” Yura explained as he sat back and fastened his seatbelt.  He and Mila fell into conversation, fading back into Russian for the short trip to the school.

 

“She’s eight,” Katya explained with an eyeroll.  “My parents had her late in life. I believe she was a surprise and she’s been surprising us ever since.”

 

“Mom didn’t think she could have any more,” Mila chimed in letting them know she was still listening before quickly turning back to Yura.

 

Katya blushed at her forward little sister’s words.  “I’m sorry, Yuuri...little girls don’t know how to mind their words.”

 

“It’s fine...they are honest,” Yuuri murmured, his eyes drifting out the window at his side.  I need to be able to handle these innocent words.  Katya seemed to take the hint that he didn’t want to talk about it, however, and let it go.  Outside people were walking more briskly, covered in thicker coats. He realized that it was finally getting cold for Russians... Thank goodness for my coat.  Victor really does take care of me... He felt himself get a little warm and quickly mentally corrected himself, everyone.  He takes excellent care of everyone.   He felt surprised when the SUV pulled to a stop and realized he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings.  His eyes focused on his reflection before a cheerful call drew him from his thoughts.

 

Yura’s gruff, but still light little voice floated over the din of schoolyard noises, “Bye, Yuuri!”

 

Yuuri turned, looking out the car and offered a weak smile.  “See you later, alligator,” but his voice came out clear, and full of love for the little boy.

 

Yura beamed a wide and toothy grin hollering out, “After a while, crocodile!”

 

He felt his expression pull into a more genuine expression of joy.  Katya watched, her eyes soft with concern for her friend but giving him the space he needed.  After the kids were up the stairs, she pulled back into traffic. “I know just the place to find our outfits.”

 

Soon, Katya walked him through the store, talking with the salesman assigned to her friend and making it clear the type of event.  Yuuri found himself grateful that she was the take-charge type as the boutique left him overwhelmed with the range of suits, cuts, and colors.  Katya pulled a few pieces together, working with the clerk, and Yuuri found himself in and out of so many suits he knew he’d never be able to decide on his own. Yuuri stood in front of the mirror, the gray suit sitting on his frame.  He smiled at the reflection but was puzzled when he saw Katya study his form with a frown. “It needs something to soften it.” She walked up to him on the dias, “You’re an omega. There’s nothing wrong with showing that side of yourself, right?”  She smiled at the twitch of his lips indicating he agreed.

 

“A scarf?” the salesman suggested.

 

She shook her head, tapping her lip thoughtfully.  “Let’s try a sweater. A cardigan or a vest. Something...in blue.  Let’s see that.” She then studied Yuuri’s revamped form and hummed thoughtfully.  “I like...the idea of this.  But I think...the colors are all wrong.”  She moved through the store and soon had a darker suit in hand, a red sweater vest, and a different tie, one that pulled the red out of the new vest, and added a little fire to the cinnamon in his eyes.  The shirt was a crisp white with a subtle white striping for texture. Katya returned to Yuuri and sent him to get dressed.

 

Inside the dressing room once more Yuuri found himself thinking that maybe the “take charge Katya” was a bit much.  Then he turned and saw himself in the mirror...his breath caught. This is what I look like? He had seen himself in the mirrors of the dance studio, however those were in sweats.  This was...polished. He walked to the mirror, running a finger against the glass almost expecting it to be someone else.   I’m still too skinny, but...wow.  He noticed his hair, messy from changing and swept it back quickly.

 

Yuuri came out of the dressing room, watching Katya’s expression.  Her eyes widened. “Wow!” Pulling him onto the pedestal, she straightened the suit with expert ease.  “This is it, Yuuri. The cut, the colors are perfect for you. And do your hair like this!”

 

“Really?  Do you think…”  The words died on his lips but Katya heard the unspoken he’ll like it at the end of the sentence.

 

Her lips curled into a smile, but a moment their eyes locked in the mirror.  “I think...it shows just how beautiful you can be,” she murmured, turning him towards the mirror and staring from behind him.  “So very beautiful. And yes, I think everyone will love it.”

 

Yuuri studied the suit.  He knew it needed to be taken in but that was fine.  Beyond the suit, he saw a man staring back at him. Eating steadily over the last two weeks, he could already see the gauntness starting to fade away.  He looked slender but not unhealthy. The reds brought out the cinnamon of his eyes, the pink of his lips and cheeks. “Can we...make sure it doesn’t show how thin I am?” he asked softly.

 

Katya nodded.  “Absolutely.” Soon the tailor was in and making the quick marks and listening to Katya’s instruction.  Yuuri had to smile at the woman, managing the entire thing. She knows what she’s doing.  This is her career, after all .  “I mean, if it were a more formal event, I’d have you decked out in a male version of an evening gown.”

 

Yuuri watched her expression as she described an outfit he’d more likely skate in than wear at an event.  Still, the black mesh, large crystals, and half skirt lined in red did intrigue him. “Have you thought of designing your own clothes, Katya?” he asked as they moved into the ladies section of the store.

 

She laughed at him and tried to wave the idea off.  “Who would wear my designs?”

 

Yuuri raised his eyebrows, he heard the ambition in her voice.  “So...yes.”

 

“Yes,” she winced.  Then she sighed, turning from the row of gowns in front of her.  “But I can’t. I have Mila.”

 

“Said every single mother ever...but if men, alphas can have careers raising kids, why can’t women and omegas?”  Yuuri had lost too much, and knew the bitter taste of frustrated ambition. He was not about to let this woman taste it.

 

Her eyes drifted off to the name of the designer above the gowns.  The styles to safe to the point of boredom...and this woman got to design for Olympians.  What could a risk-taker like herself accomplish? “I...I don’t know.”

 

“Start...with something small,” Yuuri encouraged.  He then pointed at a rack of black dresses. “But for now...we don’t have time to work from scratch.  So...where do you want to begin?”

 

Katya shrugged, pulling one of the gowns in front of her.  “Rework...one of these?”

 

Yuuri looked at the dress, conservative, but not bad.  “Do you want to wear them as they sit?”

 

“Lord, no…”  She then blushed.  “I see what you mean.”  She then ran her fingers over the options pulling out a black silk.  “It’s plain...but...I have a few ideas.”

 

“Can you pull it off in time?”

 

She thought about what she had available to her before nodding.  “I have just the thing. Come...I want to try this on.” She pulled him back into the dressing room and he waited in the mirrored presentation space until she emerged.  Stepping on the dias, she began describing where she’d add the lace, raise the hem line, create embellishment along the neck and back and then hugged herself. “It’s perfect.”

 

“It’s...a start,” Yuuri answered softly.  “You’ll make it perfect.”

 

“I’ll pick up your finished suit on Friday and bring it to practice,” she offered as they left the store.

 

“And are you going to show me your finished dress?” Yuuri teased.

 

“You will see it Saturday night,” she winked coyly back towards him.

 

As they left the store, she asked, “So...what kind of career would you like?”

 

Yuuri shrugged.  “Nothing extravagant.  I like teaching. When I finally returned home, I taught ballet but...the rumors of my past made people prejudice and they started pulling students from the class.  I enjoyed it, though.” Then he brightened a little before adding, “I love working with Yura and Victor is encouraging me to take classes.”

 

“So...what are you taking?”

 

“I’m taking some classes to maybe help me teach later.  Psychology, child psychology...I really like working with kids.”

 

“Have you thought about working at the rink with Victor?”

 

Yuuri shook his head, glancing away.  “I mean, I would love to but...I don’t think I could offer anything of value.  These are champions...and I had to leave competition at nineteen.” He couldn’t keep the wistfulness from his voice.  He wanted so much more. He blinked away the tears.

 




Katya dropped him off at the house.  He had time to enjoy his lunch and rest before walking down to pick up Yura...before reentering the world.  The morning had been wonderful, and Katya handled everything, but he still felt tired and drained. He’d held strong for the entire morning.  Now, back in the safety of the home, he felt his mask slipping. And of course, Olga noticed.

 

“Are you okay?”  She sat down across from him, tea in a clear glass with the dollop of jam sinking to the bottom.

 

Yuuri shrugged, studying his sandwich a little too closely.  “I...I’m going to see a psychiatrist today. I...have to talk about what...I’ve been through, Olga.  My...alpha, he wasn’t a good man. He...found ways to hurt me that no one could see.” He shook his head before adding, “Not that it mattered later on.  I wasn’t allowed out. No one saw me at all for the last years of it.”

 

She took a sip from her cup, the steam tipping over the edge.  Then she reached forward, taking his hands in hers. “We all...everyone in this house, we’ve all had to face pain at some point.  I haven’t known, haven’t experienced...your pain. Nor has the old man.” She paused a moment, the lines in her brow becoming more defined.  “Victor Andreivich, I am not sure. He’s always kept his pain close to his chest, choosing to protect others and build them up rather than letting his pain pull him apart.”

 

Yuuri looked up from his ignored sandwich, “I...didn’t know.”

 

Olga’s eyes met his.  She was clearly sad for her employer, having seen him cover his sorrow and busy himself with making others happy.  “I don’t know much either. I’ve seen him pull himself back together. I’ve watched him put his mask back into place more than once.  I know...he hurts. I’ve seen his tears over her, over Yelena...but I’ve seen earlier tears. He hides them well.” She laughed fondly.  “The boy could put makeup on better than most ladies I know.”

 

“I used to be able to do that.  Put makeup on. Cover up my anxiety with concealer and powder, just the right amount of blush.”  He took a shaky bite out of the sandwich before putting it down, drawing a raw breath, swallowing tears with the bite of bread.  “I...never wanted to be there.”

 

“Everyone has that moment of realization when they find themselves in the midst of pain.  I’ve watched people go through this. They start by blaming themselves. ‘What did I do, what could I have done differently?’ Then, one day, they realize, it wasn’t them.  They…” She paused then amended, “You never asked for that, never deserved it. And no matter what, you had no hand in creating your pain. It was him, that miserable alpha, not you.  But that pain is there, on you, nonetheless. And only you can take it away.” She watched him drop his chin, his eyes resting on the hands now in his lap. “I’m not minimizing what you went through, Yuuri Toshiyavich.  But...we want to hold you and give you the strength you need to face your pain.”

 

“I...I don’t think I can face that bus today,” he whispered.  “I feel too vulnerable.”

 

“Let me make a call, then,” she suggested.  Slipping away, she went into another room and he heard her on the phone, Russian words unintelligible to the man in the kitchen trying to eat a sandwich.  Returning, she smiled warmly. “I called a friend. Some days when I couldn’t deal with the bus, he’d drive Yura and me to the lessons. He’s a good man...but he doesn’t speak English.  You’ll have to wait until Yura is with you to have a decent conversation. I’ll make sure he knows where to take you though, and you’ll be delivered without a wayward look or untoward touch.”

 

“Thank you,” Yuuri whispered, relief flooding through him.

 

Olga patted his hand, the sandwich was half gone and that was enough for her today.  She knew he was struggling, and wanted to take one thing off his plate...literally. “Now, go rest...I’ll wake you when he’s here.”

 

Yuuri wandered into the family room and fumbled around on the TV before turning it off in frustration.  Olga walked by and frowned. “Is there something you are looking for?”

 

Yuuri shrugged, he was loathe to admit to his love of trash television.  “I...have a guilty pleasure. Something I...started watching there. It gave me a sort of escape from my own hell.”

 

“And what would that be, Yuuri Toshiyavich?” she asked with sharp amused eyes.

 

Deadly Omega ,” he said softly.  Once it was out he laughed and continued, “I thought...maybe I could find it here.  Not in Japanese, of course...but maybe with English subtitles.”

 

She returned his laugh warmly before admitting, “I have a penchant for that program myself.  I’ll play around with the television and figure out how to get the subtitles on it. But honestly, we might need to let Yura have a hand at it.”

 

Yuuri smiled up at her, grateful for an ally on all fronts.  “I just thought...it might help me learn the language.”

 

She hummed thoughtfully.  “It’s a fair start.”

 

His eyes lit up thinking of his new opportunity, “And then...the other day at the doctor’s office, the receptionist told me about a class on Mondays.”  He looked away, his eyes resting on the clock and feeling time tick away. “But Victor leaves soon. He has competitions to attend.”

 

Olga clucked her tongue from across the room, “Don’t be silly.  Victor Andreivich would want you to have this. We’ll manage.”

 

Yuuri wasn’t as convinced, “How will I get there?”  Daytime buses were daunting enough. He didn’t want to think about evening buses.

 

“The old man will drive you.  And if he can’t, I’ll call my friend.”  Olga chuckled as if there was nothing so simple.

 

“I don’t want to inconvenience anyone,” Yuuri protested.

 

She huffed.  “Nonsense. We’ve inconvenienced you, pulling you from all that is familiar and settling you in a country where you don’t know the language or the ways.  The least we can do is help you find your feet.”

 

Yuuri smiled, blushing at her words.  “Are you sure?”

 

“Absolutely.”  She came over to the couch, putting a pillow down and pulling a blanket from the cabinet, settling it over his lap.  “Now, rest...and maybe by tomorrow we can get you your Deadly Omega .”

 




Yuuri stretched out from his place on the couch, frowning as he squinted up to the clock.  He didn’t remember covering himself with the afghan. Feeling around for his glasses, he located them on the coffee table.  Voices drifted from the kitchen, one unfamiliar. He staggered a little as he headed into the other room.

 

“Oh, Yuuri, you’re up!” greeted Olga.  She indicated to the animated man sitting across from her at the table.  “This here is my friend Lev Sergeyevich. He’d be happy to drive you and Yura to the rink today, and whenever you need.”

 

The man smiled broadly, then erupted into a string of Russian.  Yuuri smiled, recognizing the grocer and remembering what Nikolai told him about the man and his interest in Olga.  From the looks of things, Nikolai was wrong, that interest went both ways. Olga had neatened her hair and put on a little lip color and was laughing a little more girlishly than usual.  Yuuri was pulled from his observations of Olga’s flirting style...which was pretty good...by a hand grabbing his and pumping it vigorously in a handshake. Yuuri smiled nervously, his eyes darting to Olga for explanation, as Lev continued his foreign, well foreign to Yuuri, words.

 

She waved off his worried face, “Oh, he’s just saying hello.”

 

“Oh, ummm...hi?” Yuuri replied back, his eyes wide.  “ Zdrastvuite ?”  A single word in attempted Russian set the man off once again and Yuuri shook his head, lost.

 

Olga chuckled and came to his side, “Don’t worry, my friend.  He’ll hardly notice you aren’t talking. He hardly breaks for air.”

 

Yuuri nodded as he was being guided to the door.  Stopping to gather his own coat, he followed the man out to the delivery truck.   Well, at least Yura will be excited to ride in this.

 

Lev didn’t pause in his chatter the entire way to the school.  As he drew to a stop, Yuuri smiled his thanks and climbed out of the truck.  Yura jumped up from the top step where he’d been sitting next to Otabek and ran down to meet him.

 

“We’re riding with Lev today?” he asked, his voice all squeaky with curiosity and sincere enthusiasm.

 

“Well, I’ve got to see a doctor and it...made me nervous.  So he’s giving us a ride so we don’t have to take the bus,” Yuuri explained.

 

Yura’s smile faded, “What kind of doctor?  Are you sick?”

 

Yuuri smiled reassuringly.  It wasn’t the first time he noticed Yura worry about him getting sick.  The boy felt the loss of his mother acutely and it came out in his worry about losing others close to him.  He bent down to sweep the little form into a close hug. “No, not sick. Some doctors work on the way we think.  I’m having a hard time but I want to get better. Okay?”

 

Yura squinted for a moment, giving the idea of a doctor who fixes the way people think very deep consideration.  Then gave him a solemn nod. “I want you to get better, too. Can I help?”

 

Yuuri broke into a wide smile, the boy was so loving, he really did take after his father.  “Oh, honey, you do help. Just by being you.” He hugged him once more before standing up and taking his hand, leading him to the truck.  Pausing he turned to the little boy, “Will you tell him we’re ready to go to the rink, now?” he asked, leaning his cheek against the blond hair.  Yura’s rougher Russian greeted the older man and they talked back and forth. Finally, the old man laughed and he nodded to Yuuri. Please don’t have told this man I’m your omega, Yura.  He smiled nervously.

 

Yuuri was staring out the window when he heard a deep baritone fill the space.  He glanced over to see the man singing and caught Yura’s eye roll. Yuuri gave him a severe look and the boy just shrugged.

 

They finally arrived at the rink and through Yura, the omega was able to convey his thanks.  Lev waved, offering a warm smile before he departed. As they walked towards the building, Yura leaned in and asked, “Was that better than the bus?”

 

Yuuri laughed, feeling the strain of his tears in his voice.  “Believe it or not, it was.”

 

The blonde looked back with disbelief but followed Yuuri into the building.  “If it helps you, we can ride the green machine every day.” Yuuri worked to keep the laugh inside as he watched the little boy scuttle off to skate lessons with the other students.  Yuuri stood still in the lobby feeling lost when he felt an arm rest around his shoulder. He turned and met Victor’s eyes.

 

“I hear from Olga you’re having a hard day.”

 

Yuuri breathed in, Victor’s scent was subtle but still present and calming.  “It was fine...and then it was...not.”

 

Victor hummed in understanding, “Perhaps...it’s a good day to start visiting Dr. Abramovich.  Shall I show you the way?”

 

Yuuri nodded, shoving away a tear that refused to stay put.  “This...is hard.”

 

Victor pulled him into his chest, pressing a kiss onto the top of his head.  “I know, Yuuri...I know.” He felt Yuuri’s hand knot into his shirt as he rested his cheek on Victor’s chest breathing in the alpha’s scent.  Finally, Yuuri straightened, finding strength within and pulled back but stayed close. “Are you ready?” the alpha asked softly.

 

Yuuri nodded, not having words at the moment but allowing his hand to be taken and placed on the turn of Victor’s arm to be covered by his opposite hand.  The alpha felt tall and solid at Yuuri’s side who in turn felt rather small, lost and unsure of himself. But he did trust the man that was an anchor holding fast to him as he was guided down the hall, up a set of stairs, and down another hall.  And because Yuuri couldn’t quite let go, Victor gave a firm knock on the door.

 

“Yuuri Katuski?” greeted the older man.  “Welcome to my office. I’m Dr. Abramovich.”  He saw the hands on Victor’s arms, hesitant to let go.  He extended his own, offering another lifeline.

 

Finally, Yuuri let go of Victor, accepting the hand offered in greeting, and taking a deep breath, entered the office.

 

“It’s always hard to come here the first time,” the doctor supplied.  “It’s fine, you know. But that first time, it takes us doctors a little bit to figure out what will help our patients relax.”

 

“Tea,” Yuuri suggested then giggled nervously, a blush on his cheeks.  “Tea helps me to relax.”

 

The old man nodded, going over to put the electric kettle on and setting a cup ready to steep.  “I’d like to spend this first appointment getting to know you.”

 

Yuuri blinked up in surprise.  “I thought...we would talk about...what happened.”

 

The man nodded slowly, and set a cup together.  “We will...don’t worry. But for now, we’ll get comfortable with one another.”  He handed Yuuri the cup, tea bag floating within steeping. “Do you take jam?”

 

Yuuri wrinkled his nose.  “God, no.” He felt his cheeks flush with embarrassment and went to apologize but was cut off.

 

Abramovich laughed roundly at the rejection.  “A purist, it seems!” He sat it the chair opposite.

 

Yuuri still blushed but felt comforted in the laugh.  “Sometimes, honey...but not often.”

 

“The same...except for coffee.  I like it black and uncompromised.”  He smiled at Yuuri who smiled into his own cup.  Then the doctor indicated to the recorder sitting on the table between them, putting it in order and explaining, “I find writing to be distracting and I don’t trust my memory.  So if you’ll forgive me, I’ll record our sessions.”

 

“That’s fine.”  Yuuri settled into the chair.

 

“Make yourself comfortable,” Abramovich encouraged, nodding towards the chair.  Yuuri looked down at his hands for a moment before toeing off his shoes and pulling his feet up, butterflying his knees out.  His hands then wrapped around his ankles and he lifted brown eyes up to the doctor who grinned at the challenge he spotted in those brown depths.  “Very good. Now, let’s get to know one another. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?”

 

Yuuri’s eyes focused on his hands.  “I...I was once a figure skater from Japan.”

 

The old doctor huffed at that.  “Once a figure skater, always a figure skater .  My wife skates in her dreams.”

 

Yuuri blinked, shifting in the chair slightly for more comfort.  “You’re married to a figure skater?”

 

Abramovich nodded, “Retired years ago but yes.  So you’ll not be able to hide anything from me.”  He smiled at Yuuri who snorted. “She’s still choreographing programs when she hears a fine tune.  Became quite excited when they allowed words in the music. She is a big fan of the American singer Pink.”

 

Yuuri smiled at that.  “I like Pink. She has a number of empowering songs.”

 

Abramovich hummed, “Is empowerment important to you?”

 

“I think...having no power is dangerous.”  Yuuri paused thinking of his past, his lack of power.  “I spent too long...helpless.”

 

“What changed?”

 

“A piece of paper annulling my bond,” Yuuri answered wryly.

 

“It’s amazing how much power we can find in a piece of paper.”

 

Yuuri looked over, the doctor kept his face and tone even, but the omega could hear the professional curiosity behind the statement.  “I agree...but then I realized how much I lost over the years.”

 

The doctor shifted in his seat, crossing his legs in front of him.  “It’s easy to dwell in our losses. However, I challenge you to find what you gained.”

 

He blinked up in surprise.  “What I gained? But he...took everything from me.”

 

The old man shook his head in disagreement.  “If that were true, you wouldn’t be here.”

 

Yuuri’s mouth fell slack.  He lifted brown eyes up to meet the aging gray.  “I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

 

Abramovich heard the impact his words had on the young man.  He didn’t want to be harsh, but he needed the omega to see his future, his options and to become empowered, because, ultimately, that’s what Yuuri needed.  “Sometimes we get caught up in what we’ve lost and forget to look for our gains. Even the worst of experiences, we can walk away with gains.”

 

“But...how?”  Yuuri spread his hands wide, clearly struggling.

 

“Because your mettle has been tested, and you can see your true strength,” the old man pointed out.

 

Yuuri fell silent for a moment, considering what he had gone through, suffered, and survived.  “I hadn’t thought about that.”

 

“Then I suppose that’s a good place to start.”  He reached into his desk and pulled out an old style composition book.  “You have homework. I want you to list ten things you’ve gained...and ten things you wish to regain before you return.”

 

Yuuri smiled, taking the book in his hands and feeling like he was beginning primary school again.  “That’s...all?”

 

“It’s a start.” Abramovich corrected.  “And isn’t that where every journey begins?  Don’t worry there’s plenty more work, tougher work, ahead.”

 

A start.

Chapter Text


 

Ch 16:  Becoming Mama...

 

Yura shifted nervously as Yuuri helped him dress that morning.  “You’re sure you will come tonight?”

 

Yuuri met his eyes and smiled.  “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”  He saw the worry only abate marginally in the large green eyes.   What has you so worried?  He tweaked the little nose adding a goose noise which had them both laughing.  He knelt before the boy, “I’ll be there.”

 

The child took a shaky breath and nodded.  He had a plan and Otabek agreed to help him out.  The Kazakh boy was already helping his sister with a similar plan and had assured Yura he would help him as well.   And if not, he’d do it anyway .  Yura remembered the older student’s words.  My mom would say choose your fights and make them worth it.  The little blonde smiled to himself as he pulled on his socks, watching Yuuri tuck a stick of gum in the cuff.  He hopped down and hugged the omega before skipping down the stairs, smirking when the omega called after him to slow down.

 

As they arrived at the school, he met Otabek’s gaze with a look of determination.  He was a soldier, and would fight for his Yuuri...for his mama. He held onto Yuuri’s hand a little longer, squeezing it tighter before he looked up into the big brown eyes.  Yuuri smiled, leaning down as the boy pulled at him. Yura hopped up on his toes to kiss the omega’s cheek before running up the steps to meet with the older student.

 

Yuuri removed his glove to put a hand to his cheek.  Standing still for a few moments, letting the warmth from Yura’s lips sink into his skin, he watched the boys dart into the school, and missed the scowl from one of the staff standing at the door.




Yuuri returned home, his feet slow and heavy as they retraced the path.  His emotions had him on such a roller coaster these days and he hoped they weren’t affecting the child in his care.   Yura does seem worried.  I hope it’s not over me. He remembered how the little blonde would look for reassurance, constantly checking that Yuuri were still there, with no plans to leave.   It’s got to be the lack of affection from the others.  I can only do my best to make sure he knows how loved he is by everyone, including me.   The front door appeared before he knew it and he steadied himself before opening the door.  He drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. He could hear Olga humming in the kitchen and he knew he should offer to join her for shopping.  Two carrying the purchases were better than one. However, he knew he’d be in a room full of people later that day and he only had so much social energy.

 

He kept me isolated.  I was never good at being around people, I picked up too much on their energy and it was always so much worse in my thoughts.  But with Shuji it only got worse, and then I tried to shut out his energy as much as possible. I need to regain my ability to be around people more.  Not just for Yura and Victor, but for myself.

 

He smiled, thinking of Victor and Yura, how they both, in their own way, helped him find his way through.  How both of them helped him to come out of his shell, how they pulled him out of himself when he needed it.  Victor guided him through with grace, while Yura bulldozed through, but both made a way for him. The brown eyes sparkled as he thought about how Victor’s touch settled him the previous day and made it possible for him to face the psychiatrist.  Remembering the progress he had already made seemed to invigorate him to make more.

 

I need to...go with Olga.  The more I’m exposed to these things, the better I will be.

 

Yuuri entered the kitchen while the older omega added something new to her list.  She looked up brightly and asked, “Are you joining me?”

 

“I thought I might...if you needed me.”  He shifted his weight, watching her move about the kitchen as she prepared to shop.

 

She stilled, list in hand, and smiled at him, “Well, I was thinking I’d stop in to see the butcher if I had you to help me carry things.  I thought I’d put on a roast since Yura has his presentation tonight. We could eat earlier.”

 

Yuuri hummed his approval, Olga made a delicious roast.  He knew it was one of Victor’s favorites. “Should I remind Victor?”

 

Shrugging she reached for her coat, “It couldn’t hurt.  He gets so busy and Yura would be upset if he was late.”

 

Yuuri nodded as he pulled out his phone and narrowed his eyes at the message he hadn’t noticed.

 

Peaches/ I’m lost without you.

 

Yuuri grinned as he typed back.

 

Yuu-chan/ I’m here because of you.

 

Peaches/ It doesn’t mean I can’t miss you.  Maybe I should come to Russia and kidnap you for the day.

 

Yuuri knew this game and decided to take a few minutes to play with his friend.  Phichit was in need of attention.

 

Yuu-chan/ Can’t.  I’m now a grown-up with responsibilities.

 

Peaches/ There’s that.  How are you?

 

Yuuri’s expression softened.  He knew his friend’s antics, distracting him with silliness to get him to relax before asking what was really on his mind.

 

Yuu-chan/ I’m better.  I do have really hard days but everyone here takes such good care of me.  Olga says this is a place of healing and I feel that now.

 

Peaches/ Are you eating better?

 

Yuu-chan/ Much better.

 

Then on impulse, he snapped a selfie and sent it to his friend.  He had to admit he was looking much better, even improved from how he left his family.  He was putting on healthy weight and his skin had color, but best of all the spicy look his eyes had when he skated was back.  The flecks of cinnamon returned to his brown eyes, making them richer.

 

Peaches/ Oh, you do look so much better!  I’m so glad this worked out so well. I knew VN was always so warm and friendly towards the competition.  I felt like he’d be good people.

 

Yuuri smiled at the expression.   He most certainly is...and why is my friend quoting Dolly Parton?

 

Yuu-chan/ He is very gracious.

 

Peaches/ :) So what do you have going on the rest of the week?

 

Yuu-chan/ Parents night tonight and Saturday, Victor wants me to go with him to a meet and greet with sponsors and skaters.  I have a new friend that will be there with her little sister.

 

Peaches/ You have a date?!!!!

 

Yuuri’s eyes widened at the words.   Wait...What?  No…

 

Yuu-chan/ No!  It’s not a date.

 

I mean…, it’s not a date.  We’re not dating. Well…

 

Yuu-chan/ I don’t think it’s a date.

 

But if it’s not a date then why have me dress nicely.  I mean...if he just needs a friend to go with him then he can just go with Mila’s sister.   Yuuri thought of Katya and what she had said.   Oh my god...

 

Yuu-chan/ He did have me pick out an outfit with a friend.

 

Yuu-chan/ Do you think it’s a date?

 

Somewhere in Japan Phichit watched the words frantically appear as his best friend contradicted himself, slowly coming to the realization that he was in fact dating his teen idol.  Dark eyes sparkled knowing that Yuuri deserved this, he deserved ALL the good things. And Victor Nikiforov better remember that.

 

Peaches/ It could be a date.

 

Back in Russia Yuuri had managed to talk himself out of the compliment.  A talent that rivaled his skating ability.

 

Yuu-chan/ He did ask me during the interview if I could be his occasional plus-one.  Surely that’s all it is.

 

Yuu-chan/ I’m sure he’s not interested in me like that.

 

Because, who would?  Yuuri thought of the picture he had just sent.  It wasn’t...bad. He did look better and his eyes...were brighter, his face fuller...

 

Peaches/ He might be.

 

Yuu-chan/ I think...I’d rather think he’s not.  That way I won’t be disappointed.

 

Peaches/ Yuuuuuuriiiiii!

 

Yuu-chan/ It’s not a date.

 

Yuuri thought of Victor.  Tall, perfect Victor who could undoubtedly have anyone, would never look at him, not like that.   And that’s okay.  He’s lovely and kind to me just as a friend.  That speaks more of his character than anything else.

 

Peaches/ *sighs*  But you like him.

 

Yuuri stared at those words, blinking as he considered the possibility, thinking about all of the gentle ways Victor took care of him, considering how he was drawn to the alpha’s scent.  He chewed his lips as he thought about it. I do .

 

Peaches/ Maybe you won’t say it out loud...but I know you.

 

Yuuri/ You do.

 

He brushed his thumb over those words missing his friend before turning his focus back to the reason he took out his phone.

 

Yuu-chan/ Olga said to remind you to come home early.  Yura’s parent night.

 

Victor/ I hadn’t forgotten but would you send me a second reminder this afternoon?  That’s when it gets hectic.

 

Yuuri smiled at the phone, feeling good at being asked to text again.  He couldn’t resist indulging in a little way showing Victor his love, and texted back quickly.

 

Yuu-chan/ I will.  Have a good day.

 




Across town, blue eyes rested on those words.  He left the house so early that he missed out on those pleasantries.  He could imagine Yuuri wishing his son those words every day before letting him go into the school.  He smiled at the thought. Yuuri brought forward every domestic instinct in him. Yuuri brought out a lot of other feelings, but Victor knew better than to act on any of them, not yet.  Yuuri was a mystery, and Victor could see he was harboring intense pain from his past...which he could guess hadn’t been filled with kindness. He looked at the words sent to him by Chris in an earlier text.

 

ChrisG/ It’s okay to let yourself fall in love.

 

Victor considered his friend’s advice.  It was sound, but he didn’t want to move too fast.  It would be bad for all three of them. He began texting a reply.

 

Victor/ Is that what this is?  It’s been so long since I’ve even been attracted to someone.

 

ChrisG/ And those weren’t good relationships.  You had a lousy track record. Yuuri is all of the good in this world.

 

Victor huffed thinking of his past relationships.  They were... sad, pathetic...a total waste of my time.  The only real relationship had been Yelena, the closest, dearest friend.  Her death had left him empty. He just couldn’t bring someone into his life after her.   And it always felt unfair to Yura.  But with Yuuri...he just fits with us both so perfectly.  He’s so kind...but then...

 

Victor/ Then why did something so horrible happen to him?  I know you can’t give me details but it doesn’t mean I haven’t figured a lot of it out.

 

ChrisG/ Because bad things often times happen to good people.  They keep themselves less guarded because they see the better in people who seldom deserve it.  But we can all work to make the rest of his life full of good things.

 

Victor thought back to Yelena.  The similarities were too painful.  Both wonderful, loving people, who unfortunately attracted the worst of monsters.   Maybe, monsters go looking for these people?

 

Victor/ I know.

 

And I will.  He closed his eyes in realization of where his thoughts were taking him.  Thinking of the previous day when he took Yuuri in his arms to settle him down.  It only confirmed those thoughts and he knew. My Yuuri…  He smiled as those words flitted through his mind.  He was as bad as his son. He didn’t want to scare the omega away but he definitely knew he wanted to move forward...and if that upset the carefully created balance in his household, so be it.  Perhaps it was time.

 




Yuuri shifted the packages in his arms thinking he should have brought a cart or a backpack at least.  However, the butcher was having a sale and Olga became quite excited. He could hear her ticking off the different menu items and Yuuri realized she drew as much joy from cooking as his mother.  Yuuri liked cooking but it wasn’t skating or dancing...or taking care of Yura. He realized he gained just as much pleasure from spending time with the younger Nikiforov and missed him when he was gone.   Will I feel the same about the father while he’s away?

 

Once home Olga put him on vegetable prep while she saw to the rest of the purchases.  She deftly put away the meat, bringing a good deal of it to the cold storage cellar, then she returned, humming as she worked.  He watched her season the roast and put it into the dutch oven. She came over to Yuuri, nodding in approval at his job on the vegetables.  Taking the onions, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, she situated them around the meat. Once the roast was organized, she had it in the oven.

 

Knowing Olga would give herself a rest with her romance novel of the week, Yuuri cleaned up then wandered towards the shop.  Peeking in he saw Nikolai at work. He knocked on the door frame coming into the room, “Hello.”

 

The old man looked up and grinned.  “Morning. Come! See! I made the...ummm...shrine?”

 

Yuuri stepped forward and ran his hands along the lines of the cabinet tracing out the lotus design.  “It means...rebirth...and purity,” he whispered.

 

Nikolai grunted.  “I hope that is fine.  I went by the design I found.”  The older man played it off as if it were a simple thing, but Yuuri could tell he had put a lot of thought and love into this project.

 

“It’s...perfect.”  Yuuri turned and smiled, his cheeks a soft pink.  “I can’t believe you did this so quickly.”

 

He shrugged, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck.  “Well, when it gets cool like this, it’s good to have a project.  Keeps me busy. Shall we decide where you want it mounted?” Again, Yuuri could feel the misdirection.  Nikolai knew what it was to mourn, and how important this was. The omega would never be able to express just how much it meant to him.

 

They walked to the room set aside for Yuuri’s mourning.  Yuuri’s eyes spotted the cushions Olga created for him and he ran his fingers over the fabric she chose.  So much care bestowed upon him by his new family. He blinked away his emotions and worked with the older man to find the appropriate place for the shrine, sliding his fingers down the wood, he placed the pieces he collected so far.  He knew to watch for more coming from home, the missing elements but, as the man left him alone, he let his tears go, kneeling and whispering...names. He had secreted them away in his heart...sharing them with no one.

 

Aiko, my beloved little girl.  Ginki, my lively son that held on until he could take breath.  Haru, who should have come in the spring. And Kiyoshi, my quiet little boy...I felt you slip from me like a stolen breath.  I wasn’t strong enough to hold onto any of you. May I be strong enough to let you go, to send you onto your next journey.

 

He allowed himself a few moments to think of the children that might have been, but then blinked away his tears and drew himself upright.  I have one little boy here...and he needs me to go with him tonight, to stand in for someone who couldn’t be here.  He walked out to the main hall, his eyes lifting up to the portrait of the beautiful Yelena.  She was smiling brightly, lively green eyes sparkling down on him. There was nothing in that portrait that had him worried.  He loved her son, and he could see she would love him because of that.

 

“Your shoes are hard to fill...I’m trying, though.  That little boy deserves someone willing to try.”

 

“That’s all she ever wanted,” a voice pulled him from his thoughts and he turned to see Olga standing there.  She came up to him, their eyes returning to the portrait. “She was a good mother but she knew she didn’t have long.  She spoke to me at length about what she wanted. Someone to love her son as their own...and someone who’d love her best friend in the way that he deserves.”  Olga patted his shoulder then moved on, her nose telling her what needed to be done in the kitchen next. Yuuri remained for a moment, looking back up at the beaming blonde.

 

Best friend.  Is that where it starts?  Friendship?  Yuuri nodded solemnly.

 





Yuuri walked nervously into the school.  Sensing his fears the little blonde latched his hand into the omega’s, then grabbed hold of Victor’s, linking them as a family.  Yuuri watched Victor greet the teacher, and didn’t mind when she all but ignored him. She gave him a cursory glance then stalked off, and he breathed a sigh of relief at what she hoped was an insult.   Of course.  In her eyes, he was the hired helped.  Is that all that I am?  I thought that was what I wanted.  I thought...this was just a job. But now...I’m not so sure.  I...don’t want just that. I want more. Looking down at Yura, he crossed his eyes to set the boy to giggling.   Is it wrong to want this family?

 

He started from his thoughts as Yura lurched forward, dropping their hands and running up to greet a face that had become familiar part of picking up and dropping off Yura.  Yuuri leaned into Victor’s space and whispered, “That’s Otabek Altin.”

 

“Oh, the famed Beka,” Victor hummed.  He watched his son excitedly chat with the older boy and the boy’s mother.  Turning to Yuuri he shared a knowing smile. Their eyes met for a moment, sending both to a blush.  But instead of pulling away, Yuuri found himself moving into Victor’s space further when the alpha placed an arm around his shoulders, leading him into the room.  Stepping towards the emissary standing in the group with is son, Victor introduced himself to Otabek’s father. “Consulate Altin, my name is Victor Nikiforov. I believe our sons have formed a fast friendship.”

 

The Kazakh man smiled warmly and laughed jovially.  Yuuri felt at ease in his presence immediately. He was older than Victor, but seemed younger in his open attitude.  “So it would seem, Mr. Nikiforov. I’m glad that someone has taken to my Otabek.”

 

Victor clearly felt the same as Yuuri, his body relaxing as they spoke, but his arm remained over Yuuri’s shoulders.  “Call me Victor. Perhaps we can meet sometime and talk over coffee?”

 

“Then you must call me Bekarys and I think that would be a marvelous plan.”  Turning to a pair of omegas behind him he motioned for them to step forward. A smiling pretty girl stepped up, but her partner seemed more reserved.  “And perhaps the mothers can talk as well. This is my lovely wife Mehar and her twin brother, also my mate, Rohan. They come from India and speak both English and Hindi, although their Russian is much weaker.  I’m afraid my son’s birth mother has passed on.”

 

Victor took in the information with a diplomatic smile before introducing Yuuri.  “English is the common language I share with Yuuri as well. He is our companion omega.”  As Yuuri stepped forward to shake the older alpha’s hand with a respectful bow of his head.  Bekarys missed nothing and made note of the softness in those blue eyes as the younger man spoke of the omega at his side, however he kept it to himself.  Desperately waiting to talk it over with his wife later that night.

 

“Japan?”

 

“Hai!” Yuuri answered then blushed.  “Da? Yes?”

 

“I see you’re struggling with language just like my mates.  Well, Rohan is further along with his Russian than Mehar.”

 

As Mehar stepped closer to Yuuri who smiled speaking softly, recognizing her.  “I’ve...almost spoken with you more than once, but most don’t want to know me.”

 

She laughed, and Yuuri was dazzled by her beautiful genuine smile.  “I feel the same. I don’t know if it is my foreign looks or my lack of Russian.”  Leaning closer, she added, “I’m afraid it might be due to our...unique marriage.”

 

“I think for me it is because they think I’m a servant,” Yuuri murmured.

 

Mehar narrowed her eyes, smirking.  She waved off the prejudices of others with her hand.  “People are so closed minded to those who are different,” she agreed softly.  “We should sit together, don’t you think?”

 

Yuuri smiled and nodded, glancing up to Victor who he could see agreed.  “Thank you, Mehar.”

 

Feeling Victor’s hand on the small of his back guiding him to a seat close to his new friend, he was startled when she grabbed hold of his hand.  Her brother, also an omega, smiled but remained reticent. She leaned in and whispered, “He’s a little slow to warm up to strangers.”

 

Yuuri smiled back his direction.  He understood that reluctance. It’s sometimes hard to trust when one’s been greatly hurt...and he could see the pain deep in the other man’s eyes.  In time , Yuuri thought.   We will be friends in time.

 

They settled down as the teacher called the assembly to order.  Children sat in chairs in the front, grouped by grade. Mehar pointed to a little girl not seated yet.  “My Zaina.”

 

Yuuri followed her finger and spotted Yura watching out for her and then making sure she was safe.  He watches over the sister as he does the brother.  Yuuri couldn’t help his smile and the softness inside as he looked at the little boy he so wanted to make his.  A hand patted his knee and he glanced up at the father.  I...think I want to be yours as well.

 

An older teacher called the assembly to order and began to speak.  Yuuri couldn’t understand her, but he could hear the sternness in her voice.  One by one children started to file up to the stage and speak, presumably, about their parents.  Yuuri watched bashful giggles, shy stammered words and proud cries from the audience. He didn’t need a translator to understand what was being said, and how loved the families felt as their children spoke in turn.

 

Then Zaina stepped up, her brother joining her from his class.  Yuuri smiled softly as the little girl spoke...in English, translated by her brother into Russian.  She talked about someone that wasn’t there. Aylin, a woman who rescued two Indian teenagers sold into the slave market and who had asked her husband to protect them through marriage as they came of age.  Yuuri glanced over and saw Mehar reach out to squeeze her brother’s hand. Past Rohan, he could see Bakarys wipe a tear from his eye. He still mourns his first mate.

 

Zaina returned to her seat but Otabek remained where he stood, and then Yuuri realized he would also speak for Yura.    Oh, he’s speaking English for me.  He smiled, unconsciously leaning into Victor whose arm rested around his shoulder.

 

“I want to talk about my mama.  He came to live with us a few weeks ago…”

 

Yuuri gasped, his hands going up to steeple over his nose as his breath hitched.  He glanced over to Victor and only saw tenderness in those eyes. Victor nodded back towards the stage.

 

“He came from far away to be mine and my papa’s omega.  We are still learning to be a family but he listens to me and bends down to talk to me.  He reads me stories and makes me cat-su-don...which is not made of cats.” The little green eyes darted around the room to ensure that everyone in the audience understood this highly important detail.  Yuuri chuckled through his tears, sniffing quietly, and he could feel Victor’s laughter through the warm arm draped over him. “I hope my Yuuri stays and will become my mama for real. I think he makes my papa happy, too.”  Yuuri blushed deeply. But grew cold when he saw Yura peek towards the teacher and wince. Yuuri’s followed the where the blonde was looking to see the clearly upset teacher shaking her head. He started to motion to Victor but he didn’t have to.  The alpha was already surveying the situation with a frown. Yura’s eyes narrowed, turning from the teacher and his chin jutted out, “I wasn’t supposed to talk about my Yuuri but sometimes you have to do what you think is right.”  Then, straightening his back, Yura marched off the stage followed closely by Otabek.

 

More students went up but Yuuri could still see the teacher glaring at his Yura and he could feel the fight rising up in him.  The cinnamon hues blazed in his brown eyes, How dare she glare at my baby!  He settled a little when Otabek spoke, smiling now as Yura braved his teacher’s glares once more in order for Otabek to speak English.  He knew the boy could speak a more complex speech but kept it simple in order for Yura to keep up with him.

 

“Everyone heard about my birth mother, Aylin.  I want to talk about Mehar and Rohan. Some of us are lucky to have more than one mother to love us and take care of us.  I am watched over by Mehar and Rohan whom my mother trusted to take care of me when she couldn’t anymore. Mehar does all the normal mom things and most see her as my mother...and I agree.  I love that she takes care of me, cooks for us, keeps our house nice. Most don’t see Rohan. He’s quiet but he listens to me when I’m trying to figure things out and helps me decide the right things to do.  He’s very smart and Papa makes sure he can take classes and become smarter. I have great role models and I want to be like all of them but sometimes I think I’m most like Rohan.”

 

Yuuri glanced over and watched the shy smile from the quiet man and how each of the others squeeze his hand.

 

He then spotted Mila who talked about how her sister gave up everything to take care of her after her parents were killed.  Her eyes rested fiercely on Yura’s teacher as she stressed her words that that families come in all forms and as long as there is love, then people shouldn’t judge.  Smiling, she turned her eyes to Yura, Zaina, and Otabek. The three children nodding back at her. Then, with a haughty lift of her chin, she walked back to her chair.

 

Victor leaned in and whispered, “That one’s a warrior.”

 

“They all are,” Yuuri whispered back.

 




The assembly finished and parents were making their way to their children.  Yuuri went straight to the blond, dropping to his knees and hugging him close.  “You...I can’t believe…” He pulled back to see the self-satisfied, toothy grin on Yura’s face then pulled him in once more then whispering, “You sweet precious boy.”

 

Behind him, he heard the teacher approach Victor, speaking harshly.  He didn’t need to know the language to guess what she was complaining of and as he came to his feet, rising to his full height, he stepped forward.  Before Victor had a chance to respond, Yuuri broke into her speech. “I don’t care what you think of me, Mrs. Dorokhova, but you will not put that opinion on my Yura.  This little boy has been without a mother long enough. I was brought here to be that mother figure and you will not disrupt that peace.”

 

She opened her mouth, speechless for a moment, then scoffed.  “ Nannies come and go...it is not healthy for a child to become attached.”

 

“I have made it clear that Yuuri is more than a nanny and I will decide what is best for my family, madame,” Victor stated, his voice harsh and commanding.  “You will do as Yuuri has stated, stay within your professional boundary, and not interfere with this family.  We may be nontraditional but my family, the Nikiforovs, still has power in St. Petersberg.” He stepped forward, narrowing his eyes and lowering his voice, a tactic that he hated using but one that worked on fools like this.  “You would not want me to make a call to your superior?”

 

She backed off, her eyes wide.  “No, sir.”

 

He nodded, as if she had made a wise decision, “I didn’t think so.  If I hear your prejudices are causing undue stress on my family again, I will make that call.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get my son and his mother home.”

 

Yuuri swallowed his gasp at Victor referring to him as mother and had to be guided through the crowd as he felt himself collapsing inward.   Better to panic after than during , he reminded himself.  Victor seemed to sense his struggle and guided him directly to the car, settling him into the passenger seat while Yura climbed into the back seat.

 

Victor kneeled before him, holding his eyes as he spoke gently but firmly, “I meant every word in there.  We are a family.  You wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t see it that way.  And based on your words, I believe you feel the same.”

 

Yuuri nodded, a tear escaping.   You called me his mother.   He remained still, his breath catching as Victor thumbed it away.

 

“We may be nontraditional...but we are a family.  All of us. Including Nikolai and Olga. And one day soon, you’ll meet my parents and my brother.”  Victor laughed, knowing what Yuuri was in store for...and what they were in store for with Yuuri. “They may be harsh but they will accept you.”

 

“Babushka will love Yuuri,” the little boy argued.

 

Victor chuckled.  “They all will...but Mama will give in the easiest.”  He squeezed Yuuri’s hand before asking, “Are you okay?”

 

You called ME his mother!   Yuuri knew his joy was too raw to express so he just nodded, knowing he still had no words but he felt settled in Victor and Yura’s presence.  He licked his lips and then chewed the lower lip as Victor slowly rose, releasing Yuuri’s hand at the last minute.

 

Victor walked around the front of the car and climbed into the driver’s seat, looking back at his son through the mirror as he fastened his seatbelt.  “Buckle up!”

 

“Okay, Papa,” the child answered as he scrambled into his seat and did as he was told.

 

Victor must have felt the worried green eyes boring into his skull.  As he negotiated into traffic, he addressed the events at the assembly.  “Yura, you were very brave back there. Your teacher was wrong.” He saw the satisfied smirk settle on the boy’s face and knew he had to check that.  “ However , you must still be respectful.  She told me how you screamed at her when she denied your request to talk about Yuuri.  The appropriate response would be to talk to me and let me handle the situation.”

 

Yura crossed his arms in a huff, “But...if I don’t stand up for myself, people will hurt me.”

 

Victor smiled, but had to keep his voice low to make sure his son learned from this.  “And sometimes they will hurt you when you do stand up for yourself. This isn’t about that.  Let adults fight adult battles.”

 

Yura wasn’t happy with that answer.  It was more than just talking at an assembly, “But this is about me wanting Yuuri to be my mama.”

 

“And I get that, Yura.  Truly.” He took a deep breath as he pulled into his driveway.  I want that too.  “Next time, talk to me.  Sometimes adults will take advantage of their power.  I don’t want you hurt in the process.”

 

Yura paused, the fight gone from his voice and now just the worry of a little boy, “Are you mad?”

 

Victor sighed, closing his eyes once he put the car into park.  Not at you.  Opening and meeting his eyes he turned to see Yuuri’s large brown eyes locked on his face, a soft smile on those plush lips.  He smiled back before turning to look at the large green ones in the back, “Would you have done the same thing even if you knew I’d get mad?”

 

Yura thought about it then nodded.  “I would. I want Yuuri to be my mama.  He’s my Yuuri.”

 

Victor turned to rest his eyes on the omega who looked from one another with wide eyes.  He took Yuuri’s hand in his, squeezing the fingers gently. “I believe he is our Yuuri.”  He heard the gasp from the omega and didn’t know if Yuuri truly grasped the promises in his words.  However, Victor Nikiforov hadn’t put his family together the normal way so far. Why should he start now?

 


 

 

NOTES:

(A glimpse into our editing chat!)

 

Denrhea:  You know Phichit would love Dolly!

 

BluSkates: his fav movie is Best Little Whorehouse in TX…”It’s just a little bitty pissant country place”

 

Denrhea: I’m telling you...it’s a testament to american politics!

 

BluSkates: Sadly yes it is

 

Denrhea: I think Phichit is humming Meghera’s song

 

BluSkates:Oh, he sooooooo is

 

Denrhea: And Yuuri’s a disney princess

 

BluSkates: he soooooooooooooooooo is!

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 17:   It’s...not a date!

 

Yuuri watched Yura’s little body proudly march up the steps of the school with determination before the little imp turned and waved at him.  Both hands raised in fists over his head as the blonde jumped into the air shouting “Yo, Adrienne!” Yuuri’s smile spread over his face as he waved back and dropped into laughter watching the small boy get high fives from classmates.   Why did I think Rocky was okay?   Yuuri stood for a few moments longer, the boy now laughing with his friends and disappearing into to the school.

 

He jumped when he heard a newly familiar voice by his shoulder.  “It is so easy to fall in love.”

 

He turned and was treated to Mehar’s warm smile.  “I...didn’t expect it.” He looked back at the school, Yuri had gone inside and the rest of the children were slowly moving into their classes as the setting calmed.  He turned back to the other omega’s beautiful smile. “I came thinking I’d be little more than a nanny.”

 

Her smiled turned into a small scoff as she took his arm, leading him away.  “You are a companion omega. More is implied in the name.  But I understand.” They began walking down the street and then Yuuri’s eyes widened when she climbed into a sedan with a driver and waved for him to follow.  “Join me for breakfast? We’ll drive you home after.”

 

Yuuri paused only for a moment before nodding in agreement.  As she gave directions to the driver, he thought of Olga knowing she would be fine without him for an hour.  “How many languages do you speak?”

 

She hummed for a moment, “Two fluently but I do fine in Russian,” she turned to him, laughing at herself.  “Well, I know enough to get around. It was spoken in Kazakhstan. I am probably just as fine in Kazakh. But I get confused sometimes when they speak too quickly.”

 

Yuuri frowned and looked at his hands folded in his lap, “I don’t even have a general understanding.”  He peeked over to her, “Did you take classes?”

 

“No.”  She saw his worry deepen and reached out, taking one hand in her own.  “My brother did...and now he goes to university. He says sometimes he struggles keeping up but he records it so he can go over it again if needed.”

 

Yuuri felt a boost of hope flourish in him.   That’s what I’d like to do eventually.  He considered Rohan.  He was quiet but seemed determined.  “What does your brother study?”

 

“Political science.  He wants to better assist our mate.”  The car pulled to a stop and she guided him out, leading him to a small cafe.  “I like this place .  It has food that reminds me of home and the people here are friendly.  Sometimes it’s important to have something that reminds us of home. Have you found anything Japanese?”

 

“No...I haven’t really ventured out and Victor is surprisingly a homebody.”  Yuuri walked to a table, pulling a chair out for Mehar and watching her sit gracefully.  He took a chair opposite her, smiling as the omega interacted with the waitress. He didn’t speak the language as well, but could understand she was ordering the breakfast buffet for them.

 

“Probably because he travels so much.”  She then blushed, smiling as she was caught revealing her fangirl nature for the skating superstar.  Yuuri smiled back. Soon one of the wait staff deposited a pot of tea and Mehar played mother.  As her graceful hands poured out tea to his liking she started again, “My husband wanted to know more after we met last night so we looked you both up.  Figure skating! Otabek has been wanting to try it. My husband is finally considering it.”

 

Yuuri smiled, he hadn’t been googled in years... more than a decade, and even then who would?  “He should give it a try. Yura goes three days a week and there are several little boys in the class.  Mila, in Otabek’s grade, goes five days, rotating dance and skating.”

 

Mehar took a sip from her cup, “That sounds demanding.  She wishes to compete?”

 

Yuuri followed, drinking in the rich tea.  It was a foreign flavor to him, but the taste was dark and very romantic.  “That is her dream. It is demanding...but it gets in your blood and you don’t know how to live without the ice once you start.  I’m working to regain ice privileges and hope to skate again soon.”

 

Mehar tilted her head, understanding that he spoke from personal experience.  She reached over the table to pat his hand. “Surely with your alpha in charge of the program…”

 

Yuuri blushed and looked down.  “Oh, no. I’m just a companion omega...for Yura.  He’s not...exactly...my alpha…”

 

She laughed, her voice musical and inviting.  “Oh, I think he is more than you realize. But these things sometimes take time.”

 

He shrugged, still blushing, but focused on the rest of her words.  “I was underweight when I arrived so I’m having to gain so it’s safe to skate.  I can understand not bending the policy for me. He has a number of skaters watching him for leadership.”

 

Mehar nodded, but something in her eyes suggested she believed Victor wasn’t protecting his reputation alone.  “That makes sense. My husband has to think of these things as well.” She guided him through the familiar diner’s service and soon they were seated with porridge, an omelette, and a fresh pot of tea.  “I remember when I moved in with my husband...before he was my husband, just my...ummm, owner?” She grimaced at the word and quickly added, “But not really. He would never think like that. Right from the beginning he made it clear he would make a way for us and that we were free.  But he didn’t want us hurt. We were not quite sixteen.” She blushed, realizing she had rambled and stopped herself. Smiling at Yuuri the beautiful woman dug a fork into her omelette, “Where was I...Oh! Anyway, I ordered tea one day and received a glass mug with something they think is tea and it’s green with jam !  Can you believe that?  I grew up with milk tea.”

 

Yuuri smiled and hugged himself, enjoying her pleasant stream of conversation.  “I was spoiled with tea. My mother makes her own blends, I’ll have her send some to me and share with you.  My family owns a ryokan and onsen...it’s an inn with hot springs baths. They have a restaurant attached.” Yuuri blushed, realizing he too had rambled away from his thoughts.  It was so easy to talk to this wonderful, engaging woman. “So, my mother is pretty particular about her tea. She couldn’t believe they put jam in tea here when I told her about it.”

 

Mehar leaned forward, as if she might start another revolution amongst the Russians if they overheard, “It’s just so wrong !”

 

They laughed and he knew he’d love getting to know her better.  The breakfast was wonderful and Yuuri felt warmed and quickly filled.  Mehar insisted on paying with the promise to let Yuuri pay next time. As she drove him home, he was wistful about leaving her car, enjoying the warmth she offered.  Looking over to her, he murmured, “I’ll see you after school.”

 

Mehar smiled broadly knowing she had won a friend.  “Yes, I look forward to it. We should do breakfast on a regular basis.  Maybe a standing date? Yes?”

 

“I’d like that,” Yuuri answered with a soft smile.

 

Turning back to the home, he smiled as he felt lightened by the morning and practically bounced up the steps and into the foyer.  Olga came out and greeted him. One look at his face told her everything and she chuckled at him. “You seem in good spirits.”

 

“I had breakfast with a friend,” Yuuri answered, and the happy bloom on his cheeks spoke volumes.

 

“I’m glad to hear that.  Young people need lots of friends.”  She lead him into the living room where she began to tidy up, cleaning the tops of furniture with her duster.

 

Yuuri laughed at that and responded cheekily, “So do older people.”

 

She shook her duster towards him with one hand on her hip.  “I’ll have you know I’m not that old!”

 

Yuuri’s eyes sparkled before he took her in his arms, twirling her across the floor.  “You do need to have more fun.”

 

“I have fun enough,” she laughed.  “I have Durak on Saturday evenings when I don’t visit my sister and you lot keep me quite busy.”

 

Yuuri stepped back and studied her.  She was a very happy and content person however he could tell there was a loneliness to her.  “And the grocer?”

 

She narrowed her eyes and smirked at him, “What do you know about him?”

 

Yuuri put on the best innocent lamb face he had, the one he used when Mari caught him thinking about smoking one of her cigarettes, and shrugged.  He then danced away, calling back, “Only that he appears to like you...a lot!”

 




Victor had spent his morning watching over his skaters.  Competition season was gearing up and they were entering a quad cycle, the beginning of the four years leading up to the Olympics.  There were several skaters in both seniors and juniors who, if they stayed on track, and barring major injury, could put up one hell of fight with the Japanese skaters.  If you still skated, how would you have fared against Uno and Yuzuru?

 

He was now sitting with Yakov, listening to the older man’s worries.  “You take too much on yourself. Three Grand Prix qualifiers? I know you don’t like to be away for so much.”

 

Victor looked up from his thoughts, the last sentence cutting through to his attention.  “Technically, I’ll be taking Yura with me to Moscow. He and Nikolai take the time to visit family.”

 

Yakov sighed, shaking his head.  “Still, it is time for Georgi to step up and be the assistant he was hired to be.  He may have a young family but so do you. One more coach in the ranks will pull pressure off the rest of you.”

 

Victor shifted in his seat, “I’d like to wait to move him up until after Sveta comes off her maternity leave.  If something were to happen during her pregnancy while he was away, I’d never forgive myself.” He watched Yakov preparing another argument and pointed out, “I stayed home with Yelena as much as possible.  And it turned out to be a good thing.”

 

“Vitya...not every pregnant mate will end up with cancer,” the old coach said softly.

 

Victor’s eyes dropped and he drew a shaky breath.  “If she hadn’t been pregnant, we could have gotten her the help she needed sooner...she may have survived.”

 

“Or she may not have...and she would have left no one behind to continue her legacy.  You wouldn’t have your son, Nikolai wouldn’t have his grandchild.” Yakov watched Victor’s eyes move up to meet his.  “Think where you both would be then.”

 

So painfully alone.   Victor hugged himself, a habit he caught himself doing more since Yuuri came to live with him.  “I loved her, you know. I know...those close to me think that it’s just because of Yura, but I truly loved her.”

 

The older man pulled out a bottle, pouring two glasses.  He handed one to Victor, watching the younger man take it, swirling the liquor around slowly.  “No one with eyes could doubt your love, Vitya. We’ve all witnessed your grief. But...it’s time to let it go.  It’s time...to let yourself love again.”

 

Victor laughed hollowly then took a sip of scotch, letting it warm him.  “You’re starting to sound like Chris.”

 

Yakov took a deep sip.  Thinking of where he also needed to go in conversation, “This boy you’ve taken in…”

 

Victor rolled his eyes.  “You definitely sound like Chris.”  He let his eyes drift to the window that overlooked the main practice rink.  Two girls on the ice were having a jumping contest and he wanted to go out there to put them back to work but something about watching their joy reminded him of Yuuri and the videos Victor had found on youtube.  “He wants to skate, you know.”

 

Yakov huffed, following Victor’s eyes to the window.  “It might do him some good.” He pounded on the glass, catching the girls’ eyes and circled his finger near his head.  Watching the girls groan then move into run throughs. “We need someone to run figures. No edgework these days. How’s he improving?”

 

Victor laughed at the coach, ever the tyrant, ever the technician.  “He’s eating now...and we don’t have to work so hard to distract him.  That was a good idea.”

 

Yakov sat back at his desk, the chair, a relic from the soviet era, groaning under his weight.  “I’ve worked with enough skaters that I’ve dealt with my fair share of eating disorders. Lilia as well.”

 

“It’s just that...he never intended to not eat.”  Victor was quick to defend Yuuri, then his thoughts darkened.  “If I ever get my hands on that bastard…

 

Yakov pursed his lips.   In the States and Canada they don’t have this.  We need watchdogs at this rink. “Did we ever get a confirmation?”

 

“Not from Yuuri...but I’ve talked to a few other skaters who recall seeing them together after Yuuri retired.”  Victor sat forward, sipping off the rest of the scotch and putting the glass down hard on the desk. “I know it’s him...but I can’t do anything with that information.”

 

Yakov nodded, knowing all too well the frustration of seeing a villain and not being able to do anything about it.  “We need Yuuri to make a statement in order to move forward with the investigation. Lilia’s got her contact with Interpol but she’s withheld Yuuri’s name until he’s ready to talk.”

 

“And with the ISU?”

 

The need in his mentee’s voice was apparent.  He had worked with Victor since the skater was a child and could tell every emotion through his voice alone.  “As soon as Yuuri states that he used his influence to manipulate him into a compromising position, we can get him suspended pending investigation.”

 

Victor crossed his arms and frowned.  “I don’t want to hurt him further.”

 

Yakov paused, he inhaled deeply and pushed forward, hands folding on his desk.  “I don’t either but Eiichi Tanaka is still missing.”

 

Victor nodded.  He knew time was of the essence and the key to this case lived under his roof.  “What if Chris or his friend Phichit comes forward?”

 

The bald head shook and the frown lines deepened, “We asked and they said they can’t move on their statements alone.  It’s treated as hearsay.”

 

“I’ll see what I can do.”  He rose, going to the door and paused.  “Will you keep an eye on Yuuri while I’m away?”

 

From behind the desk Yakov smiled, another relic from the Soviet Era.  “You know the answer to that, Vitya. I watch out for your entire makeshift family.”

 

Victor smiled, and the blush on his cheeks reminded the old coach of the boy he coached throughout the years.

 




Yuuri was coming back downstairs when he heard a knock on the front door.  He ran up to it and peered through the window before opening the door cheerfully.  Katya laughed and responded, “You’re cheerful.”

 

“I...am.  I guess this is...happy.”  He hugged himself, a soft blush covering his cheeks and neck.   Happy, and maybe a little bit confident.

 

“You’re so adorable!”  She followed him into the warmth of the house and then pulled the garment bag from behind her back.  “So I picked this up! Why don’t you try it on and check the fit? Then I’ll help you decide on your hair and maybe...makeup?”

 

Yuuri blushed even harder then.  He took the bag from her, but shifted a little at the mention of makeup, “I haven’t...not since I skated.”

 

Katya cut his self doubt off at the pass.  “Well, you’re going on a date with a figure skating coach.  I think it’s still deemed acceptable.”

 

Yuuri caught her tone, “It’s not a date…”  He slowed in his bounce up the stairs and turned to ask, “You don’t think it’s a date, do you?”

 

Her eyes sparkled as she leaned on the banister and asked, “Do you want it to be?”  Yuuri didn’t answer and she didn’t press, but when he turned to continue upstairs she couldn’t help but nod enthusiastically.  She followed him up to his room and looked around while he went on into his bathroom to change. “This hasn’t changed much since Yelena,” she called out after a bit.

 

Yuuri came out dressed and went to the closet to retrieve his shoes.  “What do you mean?”

 

Kayta sat on the edge of his bed, watching Yuuri bend to pick up his shoes.  She nodded approvingly, the cut showed off his ass et just like she wanted.  “Yelena liked to be close to Yura and this became her room after he left the crib.”

 

Stepping into his shoes, he considered those words.  “She didn’t stay in Victor’s room?”

 

Katya shrugged and her expression became wistful.  “They had a very special relationship.”

 

Yuuri frowned as he reviewed what he had learned so far.   They were in love, very profoundly...but different bedrooms... “Victor loved her...I see him looking at her picture with sadness.”

 

Katya smiled softly thinking of her departed friend, “Yes, he loved her greatly.  They became best friends as children.”

 

Yuuri crossed the room to sit next to her on the bed.  “And...Yura?”

 

The beautiful redhead sighed, “He...was why they were married.”  She patted her knees and walked over to the vanity, pointing at the seat for him.

 

Yuuri knew he was missing a big piece of the puzzle but he could tell she wasn’t going to give him more and he wasn’t sure he wanted to push.   They loved each other, and that love helped create this wonderful little boy.  That’s all I need to know .  He sat down in front of the mirror, a beautiful vanity from a bygone age.  The entire room was decorated with a French country influence giving it a light and airy feel.  He began to comb his hair back with a thoughtful frown. “I used to gel it in place.”

 

Katya looked at him, her fingers going through his hair, “I like it pushed back.  It brings out your eyes and your cheekbones.”

 

Yuuri nodded as he considered his reflection.  “I...have some eyeliner.” He opened the top drawer and pulled out a small makeup bag with a very basic stash of cosmetics.  Looking up he saw her smile and explained, “Phichit came to visit me in Hasetsu before I left and insisted I have a few essentials.”  He pulled the eyeliner out and handed her the bag to dig through. Investigating the liquid liner he ran the tip over his finger, checking to see the deposit, a trick from years ago.  It took him a few minutes but he soon had acceptable wings. He blinked and studied them a moment before picking his glasses back up to see the result.

 

Katya handed him a tube of gloss.  “Try this.” Yuuri made a face but she assured him, “It’s not waxy.”

 

The gloss went on smooth but softened the dryness from chewing his lower lip.  He then considered the rest of the contents in the bag. With a liquid foundation and a beauty blender he evened out his tone, emphasizing the naturally elegant bone structure.  Blush created a healthy glow and the addition of Northern Lights highlights on his cheekbones set his eyes flashing. He set the look with powder before turning to Katya for approval.  “What do you think?”

 

She widened her eyes before smiling.  “Wow, Yuuri!”

 

He blushed, but didn’t look away from her, “So, acceptable?”

 

A broad smile broke over her face as she grabbed his shoulders, “More than!”

 

He smiled shyly, his blush outdoing the makeup but softened by the powder.  Looking at the clock, though, Yuuri knew he needed to clean up and get ready to pick up Yura.

 

“Why don’t I drive you?”  Katya had already pulled her keys out as she spoke.  “Really, I should take you every day since my sister needs to go as well.”

 

“I don’t want to be any trouble,” he murmured as he washed his face.

 

She snorted.  “How is it any trouble?  We’re going the exact same way.”

 

He smiled and shrugged before closing the door to change.  Once dressed in more comfortable sweats and t-shirt, he followed Katya downstairs and out the door.  “Wouldn’t it be terrific if we could be seen as attractive in just pajamas?”

 

“Says you and every woman, ever.”  Katya held her hands up, praising the statement.

 

At the school, Yuuri spotted Mehar who was standing with both boys, Zaina, and Mila.  She turned and greeted Yuuri as he approached and Yuuri introduced Katya.

 

“Otabek wanted to know if Yura could sleep over sometime soon,” Mehar invited.

 

Yuuri hummed as he considered but felt he needed to discuss it with Victor.  “I need to talk to Yura’s father, but if he agrees, would Yura be able to stay tomorrow?  Victor and I have a function to attend.”

 

“A date?” she asked, her eyes bright and sparkling.

 

What is with everybody and this date?   Yuuri started to deflect the question, saying,  “noooo...not a date” but at the same time Katya answered positively, “it’s so definitely a date!”

 

Yuuri looked from one to the other and shook his head.  “It can’t be a date...it’s part of our, ummm, employment agreement.”  He only received eyerolls in response.

 

The Indian woman had seen how the alpha watched the omega the previous night.  “Well, if you would like Yura to stay with us tomorrow for your ‘not-date’, just call me.”

 

“That sounds good.”  He could see Yura jumping up and down in excitement at the possibility.  As he guided his charge to the SUV, he stated to be clear, “I haven’t talked to your papa.  He may not feel he knows Otabek’s family well enough.”

 

“But you let his mom drive you home this morning,” Yura argued.

 

Yuuri stopped for a moment, the little boy had been watching him from inside the school.  “I did...but I’m an adult. You’re still a child and we have to be extra careful with you.”

 

This did not please Yura one bit.  He puffed himself up quickly, asserting, “I can take care of myself!”

 

Yuuri sighed and then hugged him to his chest.  “I thought that once, too. But then I was hurt.”  He pulled back, looking at the little green eyes which softened with the admission.  “I never want you to know that kind of pain. Okay?”

 

Yura sniffed, realizing he’d upset the omega and pulled in for a tighter hug, nodding into Yuuri’s neck.  “Okay,” he answered softly, deflating and settling back into the seat.

 




Katya went to watch the kids skate, telling Yuuri to come get her after his appointment.  “Maybe we can work out together.”

 

Yuuri smiled at her, knowing she was coming up with excuses to take care of him longer.  His natural instinct used to be to push people away, mistaking their kindness for pity. But years with Shuji had taught him the value of kindness and how people wanted to show love.  Climbing the stairs, he headed towards the familiar office and found Natasha reviewing his file. He backed up on the scale as he handed her the food log. “Olga has been keeping track of most of it so I’m not so conscious of how much I’m eating.  I just add in the things I have on my own.”

 

Natasha hummed as she studied the journal and recorded his weight.  “You’re doing much better. You’ve definitely gained. Just under a kilogram.”

 

Yuuri sighed at the thought.   So far to go.   “Ten kilograms feels like so much.”

 

The dietician closed the folder and focused on her patient, “What about ten kilograms feels too much?”

 

“It will just...take so long.  I want to skate.” His hands spread wide, showing her his frustration.

 

She tapped her pen against the folder, “Well, I’d recommend the ten for training...but maybe I can talk to Yakov and Victor about low impact skating.”  She stopped, seeing the brown eyes widened with expectation. “I wouldn’t recommend jumps but maybe something simpler.”

 

“Like figures?” Yuuri brightened.

 

Natasha chewed her lip, thinking, “We’ll see what they say.  But you have to stick by their rules. If you deviate, they will ban you from the ice.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself and nodded, barely containing his excitement.  He watched Natasha pick up the phone. The conversation was entirely in Russian and he squirmed in his chair nervously while he waited.  Finally, she hung up with a look of consideration. “Yakov wants to visit with you before he agrees. Are you ready to speak with him?”

 

Yuuri hunched his shoulders in, reading her body language and knowing that he wasn’t walking into the easiest conversation..  “Not really. I will...but...I remember him from when I skated. He’s rather...imposing.”

 

She snorted at his words.  “He’s a grumpy old bastard...but really, he’s just a big old teddy bear.  Keep that in mind when you meet him.”

 

Yuuri followed Natasha down the hallway and up another set of stairs.  The office had a glass window that looked over the rink through which Yuuri could see Victor conducting practice.  He smiled down at the sight but was brought back to the room when he heard a throat clear. Turning, he saw an older Yakov in a rumpled track suit, his grey hair loose and down to his shoulders, balding and freckled on top.  The man was every bit as terrifying now as he was when the skater accidentally ran into him once at an international competition when he was a novice. Please don’t remember me.   “H-hi?”

 

Yakov huffed and looked over the file brought to him by Natasha.  “I’d leave this call up to Vitya but he wanted my judgment on it. He is afraid he’d be too lenient and you’d get hurt in the process.”

 

Yuuri blinked in confusion, “Sir?”

 

Yakov rolled back on his heels, the title was a welcomed change to the litany of other terms he was called.  “The boy has a soft spot for you. And apparently so does Natasha. You probably have my team psychiatrist on your side, as well.”

 

Yuuri blushed, not sure what to say.  “I just...would like to skate, sir. It doesn’t have to be anything more than just patch time.”

 

The old man hid his impression by turning to the window, joining Yuuri as they both looked out at the rink below.  “Vitya said you taught dance and skating before you came here.”

 

Yuuri shrugged, “Just children...but then the parents wouldn’t let me teach them anymore.”

 

“Why not?”  The old man’s eyes narrowed with suspicion at this new detail.

 

Yuuri looked down at his hands and he realized he’d been wringing them nervously.  “My bond...was annulled,” he whispered.

 

Yakov looked at him incredulously and then snorted.  “That’s all? Lilia and I have been separated and reunited I can’t remember how many times.  That doesn’t affect my ability to coach, nor her ability to teach dance.” He turned, Yuuri turning to face the older man as well.  “So...here’s my question. Did you like teaching?”

 

Yuuri looked up in surprise before nodding.  “Very much so.”

 

“I see Yura with you...he’s difficult at best and you seem to have no problem with him.”  His eyes drifted back to the ice as he weighed his words. “Vitya works too hard, takes too much on himself.  I’d like to see Georgi taking some of the weight off of his shoulders. He’ll burn out, otherwise.” Turning back to look at Yuuri, he asked, “Do you think you’d like to work with the littles?”

 

Yuuri blinked in surprise.  “I’d...love to. But I have Yura…”

 

“He will be in class with you,” Yakov pointed out.

 

“I...don’t speak Russian.”  Yuuri said, almost as an apology.

 

“We are speaking English.  There are many skaters at this rink using that as the common language, even some of the youngest are already enrolled in language classes.”  He put a hand on Yuuri’s shoulder, feeling that while it was slender, it was steady. “I’m not going to put you in by yourself. You’ll be working with Georgi for the time being.  And the language of the sport is universal...like ballet.”

 

Yuuri smiled, for the first time since stepping into the imposing coach’s presence, “And...I can skate?”

 

Yakov’s hand squeezed the shoulder and his eyes narrowed, “No jumps beyond singles, and only when you are demonstrating them...not until your weight is up five kilograms...then we can talk again.”

 

Yuuri gasped, his eyes wide.  It felt like he’d been given the world and he didn’t know what to do with it.  “I’ll have to ask Victor.”

 

Yakov belted out a scoff, “He’ll agree...especially if he knows it makes you happy.”

 

Yuuri’s joy blazed, then deflated almost immediately.  He took a step backwards, eyes falling. “I don’t own my own skates.”

 

The old man snorted at that.  “I’m sure we can find a pair until you get some.  And we keep a repair and sharpening team in house.”  He then started guiding Yuuri to the door adding, “It’s a paid position.  I know Vitya pays you for Yura’s care but this will give you a bit more.” He called out to an assistant and spoke to them briefly in Russian before turning back to Yuuri.  “This is Liam. He’ll take you to get a pair of skates for now and I’ll meet you in ten minutes at the kiddie rink.”

 

Yuuri called out as the coach was already walking back to his desk, “Victor…”

 

Yakov waved him away, “I’ll take care of him.”

 

Yuuri found himself chasing after the youth who spoke too fast in a combination of languages and even if Yuuri could understand him, he was sure he wouldn’t follow.  However, he soon had a pair of skates fitted to him and was headed to Yura’s practice rink. Katya brightened when she saw him hold up a pair of skates. “Yakov wants me to work with the kids!”  Even he heard the excitement in his voice and he started when he felt an arm wrap around his shoulders. Looking up, he saw Victor’s warm smile.

 

“Yakov didn’t think you’d take his word alone.  Do you want this?” The blue eyes looked down on his warmly.

 

Yuuri nodded eagerly.  “I’m scared...I don’t know the language...but it’s ice, Victor.”

 

He laughed softly.  “You should be fine with the puddleducks.  Once you reach your five kilogram goal, we’ll reevaluate you and consider more responsibilities.  This will be good, a transition period.” He waved Georgi over and reintroduced Yuuri. “Meet your new assistant.  He’ll help you and then take over the class when you switch over.”

 

“And I can wait until Sveta gives birth?” Georgi confirmed.

 

Victor smiled indulgently at the younger man.  “Don’t worry. The travel assignments have been made through Nationals.  You have until Europeans. I’d give you more time but Yakov is convinced I need a break.”

 

Georgi nodded sharply.  “I can work with that time table.  Thanks, Vitya.” Turning to Yuuri, he smiled broadly.  “Well, Yuuri, shall we see how you are with the kids?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  Soon he was on the ice scooping up fallen children and guiding them through their early skills.  It was a learn to skate in every sense. Children, bundled up against the cold and gravity, were walked from one end of their portion of the rink to the other.  There was no mention of edge work, muscles, or posture. It was entirely devoted to getting their sea-legs. Yura, initially with the more advanced children, wandered over from his class, beyond excited and the omega realized his most difficult task was not the language but his clingy baby boy.

 

However, when Mila’s group came on the ice, Yuuri did much better.  Mila helped with any language issues and became his unofficial assistant.  These children had survived the initial classes and were finally ready to begin really skating.  Yuuri found working with them just as enjoyable. Mila was gifted as a skater, and at working with children.   Maybe she could help when Georgi transitioned out?  As class finished up, Yuuri sat next to Katya to talk while he removed his skates.

 

“We didn’t get that workout,” Yuuri sighed.

 

She winked, “Don’t worry about it.  I think your schedule is about to see some changes.  You may be here every day as well.”

 

He pulled off his skate, examining his ankle. Sure enough, boot bite ran up the inside of both legs.  Not bad, but something he would remember. Okay, bunga pads for next week.   He watched Mila putting away her skates in her Zuka and turned to Katya, pointing to the little girl.  “What do you do if you work?”

 

“I have a couple of friends that will drop her off and Georgi takes her home.”

 

Yuuri smiled as he found a way to repay her kindness, “Maybe she can come home with us sometimes.”

 

Katya brightened at the promise.  “I’d love that. And Mila can continue to help with your Russian.  She’s very patient and it’s like a game to her. I couldn’t believe how quickly she picked up English.”

 

He waved as Katya and Mila left and then asked Yura if he could help him figure out where to return his borrowed skates.  The five-year-old nodded eagerly and led the way.

 

Yura grabbed Yuuri’s hand as the older man slung his skate bag over his shoulder, “You’re going to be my teacher now?”

 

Yuuri smiled down at the eager eyes, “I think they are giving me a try for now...but I used to teach back home.”

 

Yura began to skip, “I can help, too...like Mila.  With the Russian.”

 

Yuuri heard the jealousy in the little voice.  “That would be wonderful, Yura. I’m going to start taking a class on Monday evenings, too.  I just have to wait until your papa gets back from his trip.”

 

“Why do you have to wait?” a familiar voice asked and Yuuri turned to see Victor leaning against the wall.  For a moment Yuuri felt his breath stop and Victor smiled all the brighter. Yuuri was very unaware how his features lit up on seeing Victor, who noticed it, but didn’t guess at the reason.

 

“I mean...I have Yura to take care of...and you’ll be gone.”  He shifted back and forth on his feet, his cheeks pink, his shyness coming back as he looked down.

 

“Yuuuuriii,” Victor began shaking his head.  “I’m leaving Tuesday...and I’m sure Olga and Nikolai can handle Yura for one evening.  My biggest concern is how you’ll get to the class.”

 

“I hadn’t thought about that,” Yuuri frowned.  He hated the thought of public transportation in the daytime but downright detested it in the evening.  However, he also hated to inconvenience anyone.

 

“Perhaps we can discuss this at dinner,” Victor suggested.  “Olga and Nikolai may have some ideas. And I can drive you when I’m home.”

 

“I can’t ask you to do that,” Yuuri protested.

 

“Who’s asking?” Victor replied, a soft smile on his lips.  He put his arm around Yuuri’s shoulders, leading him down the hallway.  “Also, Monday, I’ll drive Yura to school and take you to get fitted for skates.  My skaters are getting ready to travel and I have the morning off.”

 

“Victor!”  Yuuri tried to argue but was stopped quickly.

 

“No arguments.  I promised once you were approved to skate, I’d have a pair made for you.”  He looked at the skates Yuuri was carrying, inspecting the edges, which were perfectly clean and impeccably sharpened...but not enough for Victor.  “I can’t have you in cheap rentals.”

 

Yuuri tugged his hair and hunched his shoulders, a blush rising up into his cheeks.  Victor wondered if he realized just how breathtaking he was when he did that.






At dinner, Nikolai scoffed at Yuuri’s arguments.  “I’ll drive you if Vitya can’t. I don’t want you on those streets at night.”

 

“Especially so close to your heat,” Olga argued, clear concern in her eyes.

 

Yuuri blushed at the mention of his heat, his eyes dropping.  “What about Yura?”

 

“Your class is after dinner...all that’s left is bath and story.  I think I can handle that just fine,” Olga announced.

 

Victor just watched the family sort it all out.  The way Nikolai and Olga had taken Yuuri in, claimed him as part of their family, only confirmed what he felt...Yuuri was meant to be with them.  He knew he didn’t have to worry about his son or Yuuri in his absence. He hated to be gone but at least they would both be in good hands. As Yuuri saw to his son’s bedtime routine, Victor tended to the call to Otabek’s father.

 

“Bekarys?  It’s good to talk to you again so soon.  My Yuuri said that Mehar invited Yura over for a sleepover...Tomorrow will be fine...Let me write down the address and I’ll drop him off before I take Yuuri out...Thank you.  Perhaps we can watch Otabek for you sometime?”




 

NEXT TIME:  “not a date” night!

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 18: I could have danced all night...

 

Victor had watched the young omega closely throughout the day and could tell Yuuri was a little freaked out by their social engagement.  With a quick call, he was able to take one thing off the man’s plate. Soon he had his son loaded up in the car driving to the Altins’. It was only two but he had dinner reservations at six...and perhaps Victor also wanted to have one less thing on his mind.

 

Yura bounced in his seat excitedly jabbering about his plans with Beka for the remainder of the day, the evening, and the following morning.  Victor listened patiently, praying that his animated son would allow anyone in that house to sleep. However, when a glance in the backseat showed Yura dangerously close to wiggling free of his seat Victor warned him to settle down or the seatbelt wouldn’t do its job properly.  Finally, he pulled up to the address given to him and climbed out of his car before seeing to his son. As they walked up the front he noticed how well manicured the side garden was, and flawless the front appeared. Considering the area they were in a home of this size was very expensive.  Victor couldn’t help but wonder about the rank of this consulate. He knew that Kazakhstan had a Consul General office in St. Petersburg.

 

Yura pulled his backpack onto his back.  He’d gone back and forth about which stuffed animal to bring and finally decided on the ballerina tiger.  The little boy ran up the walk and the small plushie fell from his grip. Victor bent to pick it up and return it but stilled.  He brought the toy to his nose, inhaling deeply. Yuuri.

 

Little green eyes smiled at his papa.  “I wanted to show it to Beka, and tell him about my mama.”  He received the toy back from his father and buried his nose in it quickly.  “But I didn’t think I would be okay away from Yuuri. So he scented it extra good for me.”

 

Victor smiled, “That was very smart of you, and very mature.”  Rising, he tousled the blond hair.

 

Yura grew a little shy for a moment, “Beka doesn’t talk to me like I’m a baby.  You don’t think he’ll think...about my tiger…”

 

Victor took his son’s hand, “Beka seems like the very best kind of friend to me.  I think he will respect the things you hold dear.” His son beamed up at him, then resumed skipping to the front door, at least waiting patiently while Victor knocked.

 

The door opened and they were shuffled in by the housekeeper who had only just gotten Yura’s coat hung up when Rohan came out of the office.  “Oh, you’re here!” The man came forward with his hand reaching out for Victor. “Bakarys was called into the office to deal with a matter regarding one of our citizens.  However, he left me here to keep an eye on the children.”

 

“I thought Mehar was left in charge of the children,” Victor asked and then blushed at his assumption, shaking the offered hand to cover his embarrassment.

 

Rohan smiled benignly.  “I am left in charge quite often, although Mehar is normally the one running the house.  I tend to be with Bakarys at the office or in classes. But on weekends, I like to give my sister a break.”

 

“I understand you’re studying politics,” Victor smoothed over, showing an interest in the male twin.

 

Rohan seemed to brighten, his shyness slipping as he warmed to this older man.  “I am! I know it’s unusual for an omega but Bekarys encourages me to not allow my secondary gender to become a limitation.  In fact he’s often said it can be an advantage.”

 

Victor smiled wide, “I’m glad to hear that...I’ve encountered some nations in my travels that almost treat an omega as a second class citizen.”

 

Rohan saw Victor’s eyes grow dark as he remembered some of the interactions he’d witnessed.  However the omega tilted his head, seeming to understand that Victor wasn’t speaking solely of the past.  “I watched how you treated Yuuri at the assembly. He...has old sadness. But he seems happy now. Some omegas are lucky to have good alphas.  Others have opportunities that give them greater independence. However, so many others are oppressed or even sold or traded like my sister and myself.  I want to work to bridge that gap. Bekarys provides me a way to do this. I hope to one day speak to the United Nations and affect positive change for omega rights.”

 

“That sounds like an amazing goal.  For now, I want my Yuuri to find his feet and to move forward.  He hasn’t been with us long but is already reclaiming his independence.”  Victor brightened, finding common ground between Yuuri and this interesting young man in front of him.  “He’s enrolled in classes online and is talking about taking a class to study the language. I’m thankful he’s made a number of good friends since coming to stay with us.”

 

“He is...not your mate?” Rohan asked, his eyebrow furrowing in confusion.

 

Victor smiled and shook his head.  “We have a contract to protect his rights...something I felt was important.  He has to sign a waiver in order for me to pursue him in courtship...if he’s interested in something like that, of course.”

 

Rohan considered his words, a small smile coming to his lips as the alpha stammered out his last words.  “I think...Bakarys did this too...without a contract. But neither of us wanted to risk another alpha...Bekarys is...safe.  And my sister has deep affection for him. As for me, I’m not...that way. I don’t...desire that kind of closeness. So Bekarys...is safe.”

 

Victor nodded, coming to understand the younger man was asexual.  “I understand and respect that. I came from a bonded relationship of mutual respect...and not necessarily intimacy.  But...I have Yura.”

 

“Perhaps...I won’t have children.”  Rohan shrugged easily. “I have my...nephew and niece?  Sometimes relationships are hard to define.”

 

Victor smiled at the omega, “The title doesn’t matter as long as there is love.”  He stopped, thinking that he had always believed those words, but somehow they felt truer today.

 

Then Yura ran up to him and pulled on his hand asking, “Can I go with Beka to the zoo tomorrow?”

 

“I had planned to pick you up around ten.”  Victor frowned, seeing the disappointment in his son’s face.  “I’m leaving town so I would like to spend as much time as possible with you before I have to go.”

 

Yura sighed but nodded in resignation, understanding but clearly torn.

 

Victor smiled down at his son before kneeling before him and pulling him into a hug.  “Call Olga if you need anything. Yuuri and I will be at the party until late.”

 

“Okay, Papa.  Love you.” The little boy was already pulling away, clearly eager to return to his friends.

 

“Love you more,” Victor called after him, a fond smile on his face as he watched his son run off to play with his friends.

 

“We will take care of him,” Rohan promised.

 

“Thank you,” Victor appreciated before leaving his son in their care.

 




Yuuri had his phone propped up on the mirror, opened to Facetime, and the computer he borrowed from Victor for classes opened to Skype.  Both Phichit and Katya talked with him back and forth as he got ready. Yuuri had already watched a tutorial on perfecting his wing, and now needed his friends for a morale booster disguised as a last minute make up session.  Both had agreed to help with last minute make up approval, neither believed that was truly what this was. Katya and Phichit knew their friend, and knew that this was to help keep his nerves in check as he got ready.

 

“It’s not like it’s a date,” Yuuri argued.  He worked the upper lid line slowly, moving across and then slightly up.  “I doubt Victor even thinks of me that way.”

 

He received two pairs of eyes rolling hard at him.  “Yuuuriiii,” Phichit complained. “You underestimate your appeal.”

 

Yuuri snorted at that and stuck his tongue out at Katya who was applauding Phichit.  “What appeal? I had to learn how to put on eyeliner from a drag queen on YouTube. I have no idea how to be alluring.  Shuji had me locked down at fourteen. I barely knew I was even omega at that point, and sure as hell didn’t know how to be one.”  He then met Katya’s eyes seeing they were round as saucers. “My ex was not a nice man,” was all he explained.

 

Katya gaped.  “At fourteen...that’s not even legal!”

 

“Apparently if you don’t report it until after sixteen, they take the alpha’s word over yours,” Yuuri answered wryly.  He shook off the memories, though. He didn’t want Shuji to steal this moment, whatever it was, from him. He held up the highlighter, and seeing them both nod began applying it.

 

Phichit picked up on the switch and redirected the conversation.  “I think you need to add the lashes.”

 

Yuuri smirked, “I haven’t added lashes in years.”

 

“But you’ve got them.  I made sure of it.” Phichit tsked.  “Take them, cut the far ends off and apply only those.  It will look more realistic and it’s cuter.”

 

Yuuri sighed, throwing a pained look at his friends before fishing them out of his bag.  He began studying the instructions then nodded as he remembered the process. “I think the last time I did this, I was with you.”

 

“Yeah...that was a good night.”  Phichit giggled thinking of his friend. “You were convinced the glue would shut your eye.”

 

Yuuri started laughing, “It would have if you used the glob you were about to put on me!”

 

Katya watched both men laugh, then slowly the laughter quieted and their smiles fell as they darkened.  Both men recalled why it had been the last time Yuuri applied lashes. Right after, he had been prevented from attending any more skating events, locked into a house full of fear and abuse...all because he didn’t stay under his alpha’s watchful eye.  Phichit pretended to knock something from the table as an excuse to leave their view for a moment, wiping away a tear in the corner of his eye.

 

On his end of the conversation Yuuri sighed.  He frowned critically and began picking up every mistake in his reflection.  There was an impossible miniscule jiggle in the line, neither friend could see it but Yuuri insisted it existed, and a slight smudge in the shadow, again imperceptible to anyone other than the highest critic...Yuuri.  Pulling out the blender to work it again his hand shook.

 

“Yuuri, what’s the name of the restaurant you’re going to again?”  Phichit saw the tremor in his friend’s hand, the worry on his face, and immediately began to distract him.

 

“Oh, uhm...Sintoho.”  Yuuri stilled as he answered.

 

Katya picked up on the hint, joining in, “Oh I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s really good.  What do you think you’ll get?”

 

“I’m hoping sushi, there was a roll I loved, tempura shrimp and avocado…”  He put the unused blender back in the drawer.

 

“Sounds good.  You look fantastic.”  Phichit changed his voice to his Yuuri whisperer tone.  “Now, I want you to take a deep breath, breathe in.”

 

Yuuri smiled, but followed orders.  Breathing in, feeling himself calm, breathing out.

 

“You got this?”

 

“I got this.”

 

He opened his eyes, his two friends were trying to figure out how to high five in their viewers and Yuuri couldn’t contain the laugh at their silliness.

 

Finally, he turned back to the two friends and asked, “What do you think?”  Brown eyes highlighted with plums to pull out the reds and golds were framed in wing-tipped liner and extra long lashes.  He added the gloss while they both offered praise and whistles, Katya going further to tell him he had to help her achieve that good of a wing tip.  Yuuri rolled his eyes, certain they were making it all up so he’d feel better.

 

He glanced at the clock and knew it was about time to leave.  Bidding his farewells, he dressed in the dark, slim-fitted suit with a red vest.  The black, white, and red tie pulled it all together.  He pushed his hair back and worked with it until it fell a little messily.  Studying his reflection in the mirror, he resisted the urge to chew his lip before taking a deep breath and slipping out his door.

 

“Here goes nothing,” he muttered under his breath.  In his head he heard Phichit’s voice correcting, here comes everything.

 

Yuuri peeked over the edge to study Victor before he made his entrance.  Below him in the foyer, Victor stood in an aubergine bespoke suit , the wider tie and pocket square holding a subtle paisley in the design.  The cut of the suit only enhanced Victor’s athletic form. Yuuri stood frozen for a moment, torn between ready and not ready.  How could he stand next to this man?

 

Then Victor looked up, lifting blue eyes to take in the beautiful omega as he descended the stairs, his breath stolen as he beheld the vision before him.  Beauty didn’t begin to describe the graceful man approaching him, sumptuous brown eyes dropping shyly as he negotiated the stairs. Victor took in the makeup, the soft lay of the hair, the posture, the outfit, the gentle curves, the sway of the hips, and then deeper, the man, as Yuuri lifted his eyes to meet Victor’s.  He could clearly see Yuuri was nervous but took his hand and gave it a squeeze.

 

“You know me, you don’t need to be afraid,” he murmured softly.

 

Yuuri smiled as his eyes dropped once more, a shy blush coloring his cheeks.  “I haven’t...done anything like this in so long.” Ever.  I haven’t done this in...ever.

 

“Then it’s high time...beauty and grace like yours is not meant to stay hidden away.”  The complement earned the reward of an adorably deepening blush as Victor settled Yuuri’s coat on his shoulders.  Yuuri hooked a hand on Victor’s elbow and the alpha patted the slender fingers that rested there. “Are you ready?”

 

Yuuri struggled to find the confidence he had only moments before, and not trusting his voice only nodded.  Victor led him out the door, opening the waiting car door. Yuuri settled into the seat, already warm from the heat Victor had started moments before for his comfort.  He sucked in a breath of surprise when Victor knelt down to buckle him in. Yuuri’s eyes sought his and they held each other’s gaze for the longest moment. “If I forget to tell you, I had a great time.  Thank you for taking care of me.”

 

Victor blushed, patting his thigh lightly before standing up and closing the door.  Outside of the, and unobserved, he lifted his eyes to the sky. Stars already shining, and focused on those as he caught his breath.  Yuuri had certainly stolen it away. He knew the omega was beautiful. One glance and no one could deny it. He didn’t expect that beauty to go on display for him.  Victor didn’t know what amazed him more, Yuuri’s ability to make himself even more stunning, or that the omega would go through such lengths for him. Moving to the driver’s side, he soon had the car in gear and negotiated into traffic.

 

Yuuri watched him, the silence starting to unnerve him.  Drawing his words in order, he asked, “Do you like sushi?”

 

Victor nodded, keeping his eyes on the traffic.  “I do...but I also thought you might like something familiar.”

 

Yuuri smiled, trying to ignore the permanent blush on his cheeks.  “I haven’t had any since Japan. Thank you.”

 

“I guess I haven’t taken the time to show you around St. Petersburg.”  Victor’s voice was lighter now. “Once the cycle is over we can explore the city more.  The white nights are beautiful.”

 

“I’d like that.”  Yuuri warmed at the thought of seeing more of his new city.  “I didn’t get out much in Japan. Not unless Shuji was out of town.”

 

Victor glanced over and realized Yuuri didn’t notice the slip of tongue.  “I want you to enjoy St. Petersburg and to feel at home here.” He focused on keeping his voice steady, but Yuuri had accidentally confirmed what Victor suspected.

 

Yuuri turned and offered a genuine smile.  “I do feel at home here...I’ve met so much kindness.”

 

“And some that are not so kind,” Victor responded with a sigh, remembering the teacher.

 

Yuuri shrugged, his eyes drifting out the window.  “It’s not worse than Japan...in many ways better. Here I feel a certain measure of...insulation.  I’m not harassed nearly as much as when I was home. The best part is when I can’t deal, someone is always ready to help me out.”

 

Victor pursed his lips, thinking of how Yuuri had grown so accustomed to harassment that it slipped into his sense of normalcy.  “You shouldn’t be forced to accept harassment of any sort as a norm.”

 

Yuuri tilted his head as he considered Victor’s words.  “It’s hard, I suppose, when you don’t deal with it...this is my norm.  People say things to me they would never speak in front of their mates...they leer at me...I’m touched and pinched.  Sometimes people pretend it was by accident, other times people don’t even bother to do that. And that’s a good day out.  It makes me want to stay home if I’m not with someone. It impedes my independence. People assume that because I’m unmated at my age, there must be something wrong with me as an omega, as if I’m less, as if I’m...you know, that kind of omega .”  He shrugged, letting himself drift once more.

 

Victor considered Yuuri’s words and recalled those from Rohan.  “No one should have to mate someone in order to feel safe.”

 

“I agree,” Yuuri answered quietly.  “Even those matings aren’t always safe.  But until society changes, we face these decisions.”

 

Victor remained quiet for a moment, thinking of Yuuri’s life and his range of options.  “I hope...you feel safe with us.”

 

Yuuri turned and offered a beautiful smile.  “I do...it is...refreshing...to stay somewhere and not think about what is wanted of us, of me.”  Yuuri looked at Victor, the blue eyes were focused on the road ahead of them, both hands on the wheel.  He considered the man sitting next to him. Victor was astounding in his sincerity. How many times did I watch you skate, even after you were retired?  I could see all of your love, pain, everything, out there on the ice.  But it was barely the tip of the iceberg. You have such a great capacity for love in you, and you give it freely to so many.  Yuuri grew thoughtful as he watched the man, the skater turned father, sitting next to him.   You are so much more than what I had ever imagined.  “To be honest, with most alphas, this situation right here would hold an inherit expectation for after...the date.”  Yuuri held his breath. Would Victor deny that it’s a date?  Is it a date?

 

“I would never put you in that position,” Victor protested, his lips thin.

 

“I know,” Yuuri murmured, his eyes dropping to the hands folded on his lap. Oh my god, we’re on a date.  But now I made him feel like crap.  I really do suck at this. My first date and I practically accuse Victor of bad intentions .  He looked back at Victor who still looked a little worried. Taking a deep breath, he thought about Victor’s sincerity once more, “Victor...you are unfailingly kind.  I don’t think you realize how rare that quality is today. And in turn, you’ve introduced me to other kind people. I don’t have to worry about being out with you...or home with you.  And if someone hits on me, I know you won’t blame me for it.”

 

Victor accepted the compliment with ease but it was as he parked the car that the last part of that statement caught up to him.  He frowned as he got out of the car thinking about his Yuuri hidden away from the world and made to feel every bad thing was his fault.  He closed his eyes and focused his thoughts. The last thing he wanted to do was project those thoughts onto Yuuri. Opening the door he reached in to hand Yuuri out of the car.  The omega’s brown eyes lifted up as a smile rested on his countenance. As Yuuri stood up, Victor tucked his hand into his elbow and led him into the restaurant.

 

“I haven’t been to Sintoho in some time but I think you will enjoy it.  I believe it’s one of the best Asian restaurants in St. Petersburg...and it’s lovely inside.”

 

They entered and Yuuri’s eyes immediately went up to the red and white glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling, his lips parting in appreciation, before turning and bowing towards the host showing them to their table.  He felt Victor’s hand on the small of his back then looked up appreciatively as his seat was pulled back for him. “Thank you,” he murmured.

 

Victor took the plush bench seat across from him.  When the server arrived with the menu, Victor asked if it was available in either English or Japanese for his companion.  The waiter happily was able to provide either, and Yuuri found himself looking at a menu delightfully printed in Katakana.  They discussed back and forth which to try, Victor wanting something with ikra (caviar) and Yuuri found himself so homesick for familiar flavors he wanted all the Japanese foods.  And Victor was willing to order. It. All. But Yuuri stopped him, laughing at his extravagance. When Victor pouted, Yuuri just smiled shyly and answered, “It gives you a reason to bring me again.”

 

And with that promise...a promise of another “definitely a date” sitting between them...Victor settled on them trying several things, sharing between the two of them with the promise of ordering more of something if they really liked it.  They started with the smoked eel and moved onto the botan ebi and akami sushi along with hamachi maki.  Victor added in a variety of sashimi and several things with caviar.

 

As they continued talking back and forth, Victor found himself making a fascinating study of Yuuri’s expressions as he enjoyed one offering and the way he wrinkled his nose and promptly set down another.  The only thing that would make it better was if Yuuri would let him feed him. He smiled at that thought but Yuuri noticed and asked, “What?”

 

Victor waved off the question a moment.  He didn’t want to scare Yuuri off, so told half the truth.  “I was just thinking about what we’d eat if you and I were in Japan.”

 

“In Japan…”  Yuuri considered for a moment, titling his head from side to side, “I think we’d have to explore all of the shops and decide which were best...but as for katsudon, that would be my mother’s.”

 

“I’d like to go there with you...someday,” Victor felt the weight of his words as his eyes dropped down to the food.  He mentally chastised himself for being too forward, but then looked back up at Yuuri, pausing on that lovely face for a moment, before Victor’s eyes began darting around the room nervously.  “I mean, I do take a vacation at the end of the season.”

 

“I know…” Yuuri shifted in his seat, “don’t you normally visit your family?”

 

Victor shrugged, not noticing Yuuri’s reticence.  “I can do that on a long weekend. I think I’d like to take Yura and show him something other than Russia.  That would be good, don’t you think?”

 

Yuuri looking down at his plate, picking up his chopsticks then laying them down.  Finally he confessed, “I’m not ready to go home. I don’t...feel safe there.”

 

Victor blinked at Yuuri’s words before he whispered, “Oh.”

 

Yuuri’s jaw tightened a moment and then Victor watched the omega take a measured breath and let it out, and with a wave of his hand, he suggested, “Why don’t we talk about something else?”

 

Victor smiled and quickly nodded, “Okay...what do you think of working with the kids?  I bet you hadn’t thought you’d come all the way to Russian just to pick up three year olds.”

 

This brightened Yuuri’s expression and Victor watched him relax back into the meal.  Soon he was talking about Mila working on her first axel and how she squealed in excitement at the accomplishment.  “Children are so open with their excitement and I love the looks of determination on their face. They aren’t afraid to make mistakes.”

 

Victor smiled, “That’s why they make strides faster than adults.”

 

“I agree...it’s all about just getting the coordination and learning that falling on ice doesn’t really hurt that much.”  Yuuri smiled as he watched Victor chuckle in understanding.

 

As they finished dinner, Victor paid while Yuuri disappeared into the bathroom to clean up.  He followed and did a quick brush of his teeth and touched up his appearance. Finally satisfied, he met Yuuri outside and asked, “Are you ready?”  He then noticed Yuuri was a little disconcerted and distressed while eagerly nodding, his eyes moving back and forth as Victor guided him out.

 

As he knelt before Yuuri buckling him in, he asked softly, “Do you want to talk about it?”

 

Yuuri waved back towards the restaurant.  “Just...a stupid alpha acting the part. So no...I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

Victor frowned, hating that there were plenty of alphas out there giving them a bad name.  “Very well...I’m sorry, though, that you had to encounter that.”

 

Yuuri shook his head.  “No, I’m going to focus on the good tonight.  I won’t let him steal our fun.”

 

Victor smiled and nodded, reluctantly standing and letting his hand fall away from Yuuri’s lap.  Securing the door, he moved to his side of the car. Sliding into his seat, he reached for Yuuri’s hand and gave it a squeeze.  “At this event, if anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, move towards familiar company, me if possible, but pretty much any of my skaters will look out for you.”

 

“Why?” Yuuri asked, his eyes open with surprise and curiosity.

 

Because you’re mine.  Victor smiled at the thought, his jaw tightening, as he negotiated into traffic.  “They know you are a part of my household and will look out for you on that merit alone but some, they’ve seen you...and respect you.”

 

Yuuri couldn’t help his eyes from going wide, “Oh...but I’m just Yuuri.  There’s never been anything special about me.”

 

“You were junior world champion and were working your way up in the seniors,” Victor pointed out.

 

Yuuri shrugged, his eyes moving to the window.  “It...was a nice dream.”

 

Still, as they arrived, Yuuri found himself surprised that some of the older sponsors and coaches remembered him.  Many pulled him aside, talking about one of his programs or performances that they recalled. He smiled at the questions about coaches and costumes they associated with him.  He listened as they told stories but would create a reason to leave quickly and drift away when they started asking why he disappeared. He finally spotted Katya and whistled appreciatively at the lovely black dress she wore, Mila dressing to match .  As she observed the blush in his cheeks and the pitch of his giggle, she asked with a grin, “just how many glasses of champagne have you had?”

 

Yuuri looked at his glass with a frown.  “I’m not quite sure. Every time I meet someone new, they give me another glass.”

 

She smiled but seemed more concerned than amused, “Oh, Yuuri...how are you feeling?”

 

He giggled and shrugged.  “It’s fine...everything is fine.”

 

Then the meeting and greeting was past and the music began to play and Yuuri slipped into Victor’s arms.  “Dance with me,” he demanded dramatically.

 

Victor laughed and answered, “With pleasure.”

 

Katya watched from Pyotr’s side, her sister sitting nearby with a couple of other younger skaters playing their handheld games.  “He’s pretty sloshed.”

 

Pyotr looked over at the couple.  To his eyes the Japanese man appeared tipsy at best, and Victor was thoroughly enjoying himself.  “Let the boy have some fun, Katya. We’ll keep an eye on him. Besides, Vitya isn’t going to let him leave with anyone else.”

 

As Katya watched the two of them dance together, she hummed in agreement.  They moved well together, but every time Victor’s hand touched Yuuri, there was a slight tilt of the wrist, scenting him, claiming him, making sure everyone knew who he belonged to.  And they looked good together, Yuuri leading as much as he followed.

 

“Damn, that boy can dance!”  Pyotr hummed in agreement.

 

After several songs passed, Victor was called away to check on a skater and Katya took his place, enjoying her friend’s playful vibe.  Before Victor returned, Yuuri had also danced with Georgi and Sveta, and even Pyotr. Mila stood on his feet and giggled as Yuuri twirled her around.  

 

Victor returned, watching as Yuuri gracefully danced Katya around the floor.  He was amazed at how, even tipsy, the younger man moved with an elegance that was breathtaking.  He came up to Yuuri and whispered, “Come on, beautiful, let’s get you home.” Yuuri whined but agreed, leaning in so his head rested on Victor’s shoulder.  The alpha chuckled as he practically had to dance Yuuri out the door. Katya offered to help and followed them out. Pyotr was behind her carrying Mila, falling asleep on his shoulder.

 

Yuuri giggled and spun out of his arms laughing as Victor guided him to the car.  Finally, Yuuri was in the car and Victor leaned in to fasten his seatbelt. Yuuri’s hand slid up his arm to cup his cheek.  “You always take such care of me.”

 

Victor took a beat, the warm of Yuuri’s hand on his face melted him, “It’s my pleasure, Yuuri.”

 

Yuuri’s head leaned back, his eyes closing.  “I wish...you found me first.”

 

Victor watched Yuuri with a sad expression.   If only I could have spared you your pain.  Moving away, he slowly stood up, finding Katya leaning against the car.  She’d heard the omega’s words and her expression was as pensive as Victor’s.  As the alpha closed the door, she murmured, “He was fourteen...a baby. That bastard stole him away as a baby .”

 

Victor closed his eyes.  He’d suspected as much. “We’re trying to find him so he can’t hurt anyone else but Yuuri won’t open up to me.  Not really. Just slips of the tongue. I don’t want to force it. And I can’t go on hearsay. I have to have Yuuri willing to talk to Yakov and the officials.  Interpol needs to get involved with this.”

 

Katya nodded as she considered his words.  “I’ll see what I can do. He does talk to me.”

 

Victor looked back in his car, the omega was sleeping comfortably in the warm seat.  “I wish...he’d tell me what happened.”

 

Katya put a hand on his arm, “I think he’s afraid he’ll lose everything, Vitya...and I don’t think he could handle that.  This is the first place he’s felt stable and independent and safe for a very long time.”

 

Victor sighed, “I know.  I just wish...you know there is nothing he would say that would push me away.”

 

His friend smiled, reaching out to squeeze his hand.  Pyotr started to approach and Katya sighed. “I’ve got to go.  Be careful going home.”

 

Victor laughed.  “I will...I stuck to the one glass of champagne rule.”  Glancing towards his date, he added, “I’m glad, though, that he had fun.”

 

“Me, too...I don’t think he’s had much of this...any of this.”  She waved and headed to Pyotr who helped her into the passenger side of the SUV.  Victor smiled at the two of them. He’d like to see them together...if Pyotr could get past the we’re just friends idea.  God, Katya was crazy about him.  But Pyotr would have to make the first move.  Katya wouldn’t. Not with Mila.

 

I felt like that before Yuuri...like I couldn’t have love.  Not with a kid. And I wouldn’t trade that kid for all the love in the world.  Maybe...I don’t have to .  He climbed in and smiled as Yuuri shifted, his cheek against the seat, his eyes closed.   Adorable even in his sleep.

 




At home, he had fun helping Yuuri into the house.  The omega giggled and he ended up waltzing him to the stairs and then throwing the omega over his shoulder to get him up the stairs because Yuuri couldn’t seem to sort out the steps.  As he settled Yuuri onto the bed, Yuuri was singing something...it sounded Japanese.

 

“Pajamas?” Victor asked.  Yuuri pointed to the dresser where Victor was standing.  That was a lot of help. He began to dig around and found the drawer, pulling out pants and shirt.  He then came over to help Yuuri get undressed. Yuuri giggled and Victor learned even as he laughed along with the omega that Yuuri was ticklish.  Somehow they managed to get the jacket off, the sweater, and finally the button up. He left the undershirt on, not wanting to invade Yuuri’s modesty and helped him to slide the long sleeved sleep tee over his head.

 

Now for the pants .  Victor was nervous about helping Yuuri out when all of the sudden the omega surged up.  “I’ve got to go pee!”

 

Victor laughed and handed him the pajama bottoms.  “Well, put these on while you’re at it.” Yuuri looked at them confused for a moment, then nodded at the bottoms, as if agreeing to what they were.  He took them from the hand and disappeared into the bathroom but didn’t bother to close the door. As Victor heard him relieving himself, he began picking up the clothes and putting them on the hangers.  They’d have to be laundered before they went back into Yuuri’s closet. Too many scents and Yuuri was getting close to his heat.

 

Too close.  And I’m heading out of town.  He pulled out his phone and saw it was set just days after he got back.  He didn’t like his omega being unprotected so close to heat. Except...he knew Yuuri would be protected.  Every one of his friends and family who had met him, fell in love with him. They would all work to keep him safe.

 

“Viiiiktoooru,” Yuuri slurred from the bathroom.

 

“What is it, Yuuuri?” he called back in answer.

 

“I can’t do this.”  The defeat in Yuuri’s voice would have broken Victor’s heart if he didn’t know Yuuri was at war with his pants and nothing more serious.

 

Victor sighed and went into the bathroom and took a moment to enjoy watching Yuuri attempting to step into the pajama pants, which were simply in a pile on the floor.  Chuckling, he went to help the boy not focusing on the cute black briefs hugging his even cuter derriere. Between the two of them, they got the pajamas on, Victor teasing him.  “Just how many drinks did you have?”

 

Yuuri awkwardly held up his fingers to make an eight although Victor could bet that wasn’t an accurate count.  “This many.”

 

“Uh huh...we might have to talk about drink limits.”  He put Yuuri’s arm around his shoulder and walked him into the bedroom.

 

“I’ve never had alcohols before...Shuji wouldn’t let me,”  Yuuri pouted. “I don’t think he wanted me to have any fun.”

 

Victor’s smile softened with wistfulness.  “I want you to have fun, Yuuri...but only if it’s safe.  Okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded before sliding into his arms, his cheek resting on Victor’s shoulder.  “You smell so good, Victor,” he whispered thickly, fingers starting to play with the buttons of the alpha’s shirt and Victor knew things were moving into dangerous territory quick.

 

“Thank you, Yuuri,” he murmured.  “Let’s get you tucked in, solnyshko .  I think you need to sleep.”

 

As Victor tugged the blankets up to Yuuri’s neck, the omega murmured, “Stay with me...please.”

 

Victor felt his alpha nature surge forward, just sleep here...Nope!  He pulled himself up, “Oh, honey...if you only knew how badly I want to say yes.”  Victor leaned forward and brushed a kiss onto Yuuri’s forehead, his wrist sliding over the  pillow and part of the bedding so that his scent would linger and comfort the omega. “I wish I wasn’t leaving for the next two weeks,” he added, hearing the change in his own voice.  I’ve got to get out of here quick.  He swallowed as Yuuri’s hand slipped from the covers and around his neck.  The wrist flicked quickly against his gland and Victor was granted the scent of cinnamon, cloves, and maybe ginger...he could feel the sharpened scent of want coming from the omega and knew he was producing plenty of matching pheromones.  Yuuri pulled him in for a kiss, just on the surface, exploring the softness of Victor’s lips, before letting him go. Victor’s eyes held Yuuri’s for the longest moment.

 

“Good night, solnyshko .”  Victor winced at the thickness of his voice.  He needed to escape...and maybe take a shower.  A very cold shower.

 

Yuuri’s laugh chased him as he headed to the door followed by a whispered “Good night, Vitya…”

 

Victor stilled by the door facing as that word, that name, slipped off Yuuri’s lips.  Glancing back, he could see Yuuri already slipping off into sleep...Victor was sure it would be a while for himself.  He doubted Yuuri would remember the kiss...and if he did, would think it was only a dream. Victor had a lot to think about.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 19:   I’m going to miss you while you’re gone…

 

Yuuri stretched and yawned as the sunlight filtered into his room through the curtain.  Shifting beneath the sheets he felt a reluctance to leave the scent of cedar and fresh snow that seemed imbued in their fibers.  He smiled happily until he opened his eyes. The glare of the sun hit his eyes and ignited every nerve in his body. Frowning and wincing at the sharp pain, he suddenly became aware of other pains; the dull ache over his body and the slight throb in his head.  With a groan, he shoved back the covers and realized his undershirt was on under his sleep shirt. He studied the bedding, bringing it to his nose and breathing in deeply. His body relaxed and the aches began abating as he indulged in the aroma. His initial thought was that Victor’s scent had followed him to bed after they danced but now he wasn’t so sure.

 

As he stood up, he felt the nausea and slight dizziness but he stumbled his way to the bathroom and then the shower, keeping the contents of his stomach in.  The running water helped wash away that last of the pain in his head and settle his stomach. However, it was under that running water he started replaying the evening, realizing there were huge skips...including how the evening ended.  His frown deepened; he felt out of sorts and nervous at the missing bits of narrative for last night. He didn’t exactly feel unsafe… he had been with Victor and therefore, protected. Somehow, he felt like he should be embarrassed but couldn’t figure out why.

 

Finally dressed in the most comfortable clothes he owned, he headed down to the heart of the house.  Olga, of course, was in the kitchen and turned, took one look at him, and laughed heartily. “You had a rough night, it seems.”

 

Yuuri’s eyebrows shot up, well at least one of us knows what happened.   “I...I think most of it was good.  I’m not so sure about the rest.”

 

He watched as her smile thinned but then she started moving about the kitchen.  The older hands busily pulled ingredients from almost every corner; items from the fridge, the pantry, even the freezer went into the mixture.  He frowned, seeing her take a whiff and remove it quickly with repulsion. Crossing the room, she placed the glass before him. Yuuri eyed it warily but she ordered, “Drink!  You’ll feel better.”

 

He looked down into the glass offered, and pushed it away.  Olga’s hands were there instantly to push it right back. Two brown eyes turned up to see the firm resolve in her face.  It was a battle of wills and Yuuri knew he was going to lose. The omega highly doubted her words but sighed and slowly lifted the earthy liquid to his lips.  The first sip was met with a grimace and she laughed at him once again. “You don’t sip it. Hold your nose and down it as quickly as possible.”

 

He did as he was told and fought the urge to hurl as he gulped it down.  Finally free of the offending liquid, he gasped. “What the fuck!”

 

She only laughed once more, taking the dirty glass back to the sink and rinsing it thoroughly before letting it soak in hot water.  “The cure is always worse than the disease. I think when my mother made it for me, she thought it would make me think twice before drinking so much.”  She wiped down the counter as she considered her past before pronouncing, “It didn’t.”

 

Yuuri gave her a weak grin.  “It’s nasty all the same.”

 

“It most definitely is.”  She took a new glass, filling it with water and handed it to him.  “Now...drink lots of water and maybe we can get you past this.”

 

Yuuri was tipping up his glass when he realized how quiet it was around the house.  “Where is everyone?”

 

Olga hummed from the sink, “The old man is puttering about in his shop and Victor Andreivich left to pick up Yura a few hours ago.  I suspect they are having a father-son day.”

 

“That’s good,” Yuuri stated, hugging himself.  His eyes traveled out the window where he could see the dogs playing in the backyard.  “I didn’t realize I was drinking too much. I’ve never drank before. I just followed what others were doing.”

 

The older omega turned, her eyes smiling at the younger man.  “Likely they’ve built up a tolerance. It takes time and even then, some don’t manage it.”

 

“It was nice...not to think for a while.”  Yuuri smiled at himself, it was nice to feel young and have fun.

 

Taking his litre of water, he decided to retreat to one of his favorite rooms, the solarium.  He stopped at the back door long enough to let the dogs in and dry their paws. They followed him down the hall and found a pillow to curl up on in the sun.  The cats, who had claimed the room as their territory, hissed at the invading poodles and rearranged themselves in the window sills. Yuuri settled in front of the mirror, stretching and preparing to dance.  The sun, no longer a source of pain for Yuuri’s eyes, poured through the windows, warming the space, and as Yuuri warmed up, he pulled his tee over his head, tossing it over the barre. He caught his reflection in the mirror and studied the definition returning to his form.    I’m getting better.  I need to rediscover the gym, though.   He ran his hand down his chest in thought, feeling the valleys and remembering how emaciated he had looked before.   I don’t see how this could be attractive but compared to what I was before...why did he want that?  Why deliberately starve me to the point where I looked and acted like a corpse? Then he remembered the words of the old psychiatrist.  Control.  What did I gain from being there?  So far he hadn’t found much to write down.  He’d gained sorrow, loss, but he was...unbroken.  He held strong. He walked away. He could dance.  You didn’t break me.  You thought you did but in the end, you couldn’t terrorize me.  I no longer reacted to your torment. I was numb to you.

 

Pulling his legs together, he gave one more stretch to his lower back then rose.  Placing his phone into the speakers, he closed his eyes as he listened to the album he found earlier that week.  He felt the music encompass him, become a part of him.  He felt the sadness under his skin and now it worked its way up to the surface.  He lost himself into the music and released his melancholy. He had learned to mask every emotion, to hide his joy, sorrow, and pain, finally seeing that he was no longer wearing a mask.  He had grown dull, lifeless. Walking around that house in Tokyo with a wall up to keep Shuji out had taken its toll on him. He was the mask he wore.  Nothing. He remembered his prison and how dance had been his only constant escape.  

 

When he danced he came alive, all the emotions pouring from his body in a flurry of movements.  Spins and jumps were desperate attempts at escape, while slower soulful moves were the tears he couldn’t shed over his lost children.  He had stolen moments with Phichit but knew to be back before he was caught out. Pulling the mask off to join his friend became harder to do, and putting it back on became all the more painful.  But to enjoy himself openly...those moments were rare and worth it. He thought about his new home and feared that the warmth, the sense of safety, would disappear in Victor’s absence. Indeed, he already felt the chill deep within him.   How am I going to do this without you?

 

So lost in his dance, he didn’t notice Yura and Victor coming in from the backdoor.  The little blonde burst into the solarium, startling a scream out of the omega. The boy crowed with joy at scaring Yuuri but Victor studied the omega with concern.  He watched as Yuuri recovered from the fright holding onto his chest and panting, the way the pallor in his skin abated so quickly. “Are you okay?” he asked carefully, studying Yuuri.  He watched the younger man’s nod but didn’t quite believe him.

 

“Can I get a snack?” Yura interrupted, turning from Yuuri to his father once more.  Fortunately, the child only believed what he saw, a person scared by being surprised.

 

Victor blinked, his attention pulled from the omega long enough for Yuuri to escape into the hallway.  “Of course...if you can convince Olga it won’t ruin your appetite.”

 

The boy skipped off and Victor turned to the other door through which Yuuri had escaped.  Following, he found Yuuri in the family room, sitting in the window with his knees drawn to his chest, his eyes following the activity on the street.  Somewhere along the way, Yuuri had found a shirt and Victor had to work to hide his disappointment. Victor moved to the chair behind him, and reached for Yuuri.  “What’s got you upset?”

 

Yuuri shrugged but then murmured, “I...don’t remember everything about last night.  I...don’t like that.” He looked up, blushing. “I worry...I was foolish.”

 

Victor smiled, relieved in his misunderstanding that Yuuri’s anxiety came from something so small.  He ran a hand up and down Yuuri’s back in a soothing motion. “We all watched after you. You danced and talked.  Nothing embarrassing.” His dazzling smile became more impish. “No pole dancing. You didn’t lose your clothes somewhere along the way and end up naked in the fountain.”

 

Yuuri gaped at him a moment.  “Those are some very specific examples.”

 

Victor blushed.  “Well, before I became an old man, I had a few escapades.  Nothing that led to too much trouble.”

 

“Your family is wealthy,” Yuuri pointed out with a smirk.

 

Victor shrugged.  “Okay, that’s true.  Wealth can often afford one a different set of rules.  But the point is...last night you were charming.” He cupped the side of Yuuri’s face, looking into those deep brown eyes.  “I danced and had more fun than I’d had at one of those functions in years.”

 

Yuuri smiled softly, hugging his knees more tightly.  “I had fun, too.” He squeezed his shoulders together, his eyes closing as he remembered Victor’s arms around him, before resting his cheek on his knees his eyes opening to take in the man before him.  “But I’m never charming.”

 

“Oh, I beg to differ,” Victor argued, his lips parted as he took in the boy before him.  Taking Yuuri’s hands in his he coaxed the man from the window seat to stand with him, slowly they moved into a gentle waltz, a happy reminder of last night.  “I learned while young how to moderate my alcohol. And maybe I ended up naked in a fountain.  I also woke up in jail once. Of course, my father paid to get me out and to remove it from my record.  I was young and impulsive...and Chris often led the way into a number of bad decisions.”

 

Yuuri smiled brightly, changing the tempo of the dance and taking the lead.  “I remember Chris...he was fun. He made me feel safe, too...for a moment. Then Shuji found me.”

 

Viktor faltered in step, stilling and watching Yuuri’s face closely.  “What happened?”

 

“He...wouldn’t let me out.  Not for a long time. And I never traveled with him again.”  Yuuri took a step back, hugging himself. “It was a nice dream, though...to think about being free of him.”

 

Victor reached out, running a hand down Yuuri’s arm, watching as the young man leaned into the touch unaware.  “Is he...still alive?”

 

Yuuri closed his eyes, nodding with undisguised pain.  “I was...set aside. The...bonding...was annulled. Unable to fulfill the duties of an omega.  He used my inability to carry a child as an excuse to end something I never wanted in the first place.”  Yuuri met Victor’s eyes and the alpha could see the trust in them. “I didn’t know how to move forward, though.  I tried in Japan, but I was just...stuck. And then...I came here. Thank you for taking me into your family, trusting me to care for your child.”

 

“I can’t imagine a better person to care for Yura.”   Or myself.   Victor smiled warmly.  “I just want you to be safe...and happy.  Okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  He could feel the weariness from the previous night.  Steadying himself on Victor’s shoulder, he allowed the man to guide him across the room.  He could feel Victor’s eyes following him as he moved to the sofa. Officially, Sundays were his rest day except when Victor was out of town.  Today, he needed it. Curling up, he pulled the afghan over his body, resting his cheek on his hands over the pillow, his eyes drifting shut. “Chris and Phichit are dating, you know,” he murmured as he started to drift off.

 

Victor’s eyes narrowed, a suspicion was beginning to form.  “Chris is a good man...he loves a good adventure, but he is a good man.”

 

Answering from twilight sleep Yuuri’s voice was soft.  “I know...I’m glad. Phichit deserves a good man.”

 

“So do you,” Victor murmured but the lack of response told him Yuuri had already nodded off.  He was reluctant to leave the sleeping beauty but he had paperwork to do and went in search of the laptop before moving into the kitchen to work.  He preferred to not separate himself from family when working at home but didn’t want to disturb Yuuri. He listened to Yura talk back and forth with Olga and play with the dogs and cats on the floor.  At some point, he climbed up beside Victor at the table to color. Then the little boy disappeared.

 

Victor frowned after a short while, realizing he had been so engrossed in his work he hadn’t noticed Yura hadn’t returned and went looking for him.  He found his son curled up in the crook of Yuuri’s legs, napping. Reaching for a second blanket, he spread it over the two of them, his fingers drifting down his son’s cheeks then unable to resist the temptation, brushed them over Yuuri’s.  His lips parted in a gasp as Yuuri, in his sleep, turned towards his scent.

 

He rose quickly, avoiding the temptation to gently rub his wrists all over the younger man, marking him and drowning him in his scent.  Victor drifted away, his steps taking him towards the back of the house, needing activity. The movement brought back the previous evening, the feel of Yuuri in his arms, Yuuri’s cheek resting on his shoulder, breathing him in.  Victor had dated dancers and grew up with Yelena, but none had equaled him as a partner so well on the dance floor. Yuuri matched him move for move and then went on to captivate him. And after, once he got Yuuri home...Victor closed his eyes, leaning against the wall of the hallway, his fingers going to his lips remembering that kiss.  It wasn’t so much passion...but Victor had tasted the promise on those lips.  I want him.  He’s mine. I’m his.

 

Entering the solarium, his eyes moved around the space and he began to stretch himself.  I’ve never really used this room.  It was her space, something she’d claimed for herself.  Now it’s his. Victor’s eyes rested on the t-shirt draped over the barre.  Reaching out, he snagged it and, without thinking pulled it to his nose, breathing in the familiar scent.   Blushing at himself in the mirror he pulled it away.   I should take this to the laundry.

 

But his steps didn’t take him to the laundry.  Instead he found himself in his room, looking at the half packed bags for next week.  There were plastic bags for his toiletries sitting around. He packed the shampoo and conditioner he loved, then a few other items, sealing them for safety.  Looking down he gasped, the tee shirt sat on top, sealed in a plastic bag and tucked into his suitcase. He stilled, realizing what he had done. Oh, god…

 

His eyes went in the direction of the living room and the sleeping omega.   I want him but we have a contract.  Yuuri hasn’t agreed to this...any of this.  When did I start courting him? His hand reached for the tee shirt to remove it, but instead found himself closing the lid and locking it.

 

He returned to the kitchen feeling guilty and thinking he’d talk to Olga but found it empty.  The pot was simmering with a warm borscht in the works. Smiling he thought of the housekeeper, knowing she wanted something comforting for Yuuri’s hangover.  He knew Olga wasn’t far, likely in her own quarters curled up with a book. In the quiet, Victor felt...lonely. He wanted to wrap Yuuri up in his arms, to bury himself into Yuuri’s scent.  He closed his eyes and remembered the spices and as they all came together in his memory, he realized the familiarity of the scent. Gingerbread .  Opening his eyes, he sighed, knowing he’d never think of the familiar treat in the same way again.

 

Victor had managed to get through the necessary paperwork for the upcoming trips in time for Olga to suggest he wake the boys.  Going into the living room, he found them still asleep. He rubbed Yuuri’s head gently, whispering “wake up” before moving down to do the same with his son.  The two blinked into the dim light, Yuuri stretching up and Yura rolling to his feet. “Dinner will be ready soon,” Victor murmured.

 

Yuuri nodded, and as he found his feet, dashed upstairs.  Yura chased after and Victor shook his head, a smile on his face.

 

Upstairs, Yuuri relieved himself and splashed water on his face.  He couldn’t believe he’d slept the day away. Victor would be gone in another day and Yuuri would be left alone to care for his son.  I’m not sure I’m ready.  However, as he left the room and two small arms wrapped around his legs, he knew the truth of it.  He’d risk everything for this little boy. He dropped down to his knees and hugged him properly, feeling the boy snuggle into his scent.

 

“I’m going to sleep in Papa’s bed tonight,” Yura decided holding Yuuri’s hand as they walked down the stairs.

 

Yuuri raised his eyebrows, “Does he know that?”

 

Yura shook his head but his gaze was determined.  Yuuri held his grin behind his teeth. The boy was a challenge to sleep with on a good night.  He kicked, shifted endlessly, and could manage to steal all the covers only to kick them to the floor, leaving the omega shivering in his sleep until he finally woke and placed blankets on top of them, which merely started the process afresh.  After several nightmares, Yuuri had learned the best approach was to spoon the little child from behind, wrapping his arms around the boy to keep him settled tightly against the omega’s chest.

 

In the kitchen, Victor greeted them with bowls already set out to cool, dollops of sour cream in the center of each.  As they surrounded the table, Victor kept the conversation flowing, keeping an eye on Yuuri and how much the omega was eating.  He ate slowly but Victor knew he hadn’t had much during the day.

 

Yuuri tore a piece of the warm, homemade bread and smeared it with butter. The steam escaped and helped to melt the butter into each nook. Taking a bite, he felt himself begin to warm.  It helped begin to settle the upset in Yuuri’s stomach. Maybe...no alcohol.   The omega glanced up, feeling Victor’s eyes on him and shivering.   Why does he keep watching me?

 

Their dinner was an easy affair.  Olga joined them, but Nikolai was absent and the housekeeper set aside a bowl for him to eat later.  As the meal ended Yuuri rose, taking bowls to the sink, but Olga waved him off, knowing he had Yura to attend to.  The evening was busy with their routine, the addition of Victor’s upcoming departure putting emotional strain on the little boy.  As Yuuri finally settled Yura into bed he caught the smug look on the boy’s face. Smirking, the little blonde reminded him not to worry if he wasn’t not in his bed later.  Yuuri smiled indulgently and tucked him in all the tighter. I wonder if I should warn Victor.

 

Downstairs, Victor looked up from his place on the sofa, Makkachin warming his feet on the floor, and patted the place beside him.  Yuuri hesitated, worried about Victor picking up on his nervous energy. As Yuuri pulled his stockinged feet up onto the couch, he felt prickles of warmth as the alpha’s arm rested companionably over the back of the sofa.  A small whimper and Yuuri leaned over to pick up the smaller poodle, his fingers tangling into her curls as he relaxed next to the alpha. Emboldened by their recent closeness he opened a topic he knew they needed to discuss.  “Ummm, you know my heat...it will be here not too long after you return.”

 

“I’m aware,” Victor admitted, a blush on his cheek.  The truth was that the alpha was more than aware.  He had noticed already that Yuuri’s scent had subtly increased, not enough for concern but he’d say something to Nikolai to make sure he was safe in Victor’s absence.  He knew the older alpha would be less affected by Yuuri having already taken to him in a fatherly manner. But Victor could tell that any other alpha would follow Yuuri like a hungry wolf.  The scent had grown richer, sweeter, and Victor had to admit it was incredible alluring. “Do you have everything you need?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “The nesting materials should arrive sometime this week.”

 

Victor nodded as he thought about how he could help.  “You know...there is a bath in my room. It has jets. It might help...you know...if you get achy.”

 

Yuuri hugged his knees, peeking up at the alpha shyly.  “I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

 

Victor’s hand drifted to run up and down Yuuri’s back and he felt the omega start to relax into his touch.  “It’s not an intrusion. No place in this house is forbidden to you, Yuuri.”

 

Yuuri then smirked and added, “Except Olga’s room when she’s in curlers.”

 

“Well, I wouldn’t want to walk in on her but she might just forgive you.”  Victor winked as Yuuri giggled.

 

“I’ll think about it…” Yuuri watched Victor’s eyes widen and he was quick to explain himself, “the bath , that is.  I do miss the onsen.  Not that I was able to enjoy it when I was with him .”

 

Victor paused a moment.  He wanted Yuuri to open up, but knew that if he pushed the young man could easily shut down.  “Did he not let you go home?”

 

Yuuri shook his head, his smile replaced by a wistful sigh.  “Not much.”

 

“Once the season is over, maybe we can make a way for you to go home.”  He saw Yuuri’s face fall slightly and knew he had gone in the wrong direction.  “Only if you want to, that is.”

 

Yuuri sat for a moment considering Victor’s words.  He looked into the clear blue eyes and allowed his smile to return.  “You could come, too,” Yuuri suggested. “A hot springs resort would be a good way to recover from the season.”  Maybe Yuuri wasn’t ready for all of Japan, but home...his parents’ home...that might not be so bad. Especially if Victor was nearby.  He didn’t know what their date made them but he felt the more and was reluctant to leave his side.

 

“I’d like that,” Victor smiled.

 

The omega relaxed further into his side and didn’t seem to realize he’d settled against the alpha until a sound slipped from his own body that startled him.  His eyes widened as he looked up at Victor who didn’t seem disturbed by it at all. In fact, he looked rather pleased. “What was that?”

 

Victor blinked, surprise evident in his expression.  “You were purring, Yuuri...have you never…” His voice trailed off as he took in the shake of Yuuri’s head and his wide eyes.  “It means you feel safe. Content and safe. It’s an involuntary reaction of your body to warmth and comfort. And it is one of the greatest compliments an omega can offer an alpha.”

 

The omega chewed his lip as he worked out his question.  “It’s not...weird?”

 

“No, solnyshko , perfectly normal.  And I’m flattered that you feel this way in my home...with me.”  He reached for Yuuri to settle him once more into his side, feeling Yuuri’s body relax again into the curves of his body.   My beautiful Yuuri...how am I going to bear being away from you?

 

They remained like that, soft murmurs of conversation between them, Yuuri’s concerns about the alpha’s absence, Victor’s assurances and gentle reminders that he wouldn’t be alone.  There were plenty of people available to support him. Then Yuuri found himself drifting off to sleep once more and as much as Victor wanted to hold the sleeping omega, he knew he needed to get him settled into bed.  Yuuri’s eyes blinked open at Victor’s gentle nudging.

 

“Let’s go to bed,” the alpha suggested.

 

Yuuri nodded, looking around a little disoriented and a little reluctant to leave Victor’s warmth, Victor’s comforting scent.  He did, though, finding his feet and moving quietly towards the stairs. He stopped and turned to look at Victor thoughtfully as he considered how easily they fell into intimacy that evening.  “Did something happen last night?”

 

“We danced, lyubov moya ,” Victor reassured him gently, tucking away that kiss into his memory.  “And then I brought you home.”

 

Yuuri nodded before turning to climb the stairs.  In the quiet solitude of his room, he went to his dresser to pull out fresh pajamas but part of him wanted the ones from the previous night.  As he picked them up off the bathroom floor... really, Yuuri, you don’t normally leave a mess on the floor ...and pulled them up to his nose, he realized he could smell the alpha in the threads.  As he pulled them on, he moved to the bed and settled into the sheets. Ren barked and Yuuri smiled, shushing her and then turning on his side to run his fingers through her curls.  Again, he noticed the cool scent of cedar and freshly fallen snow.  He must have tucked me in last night.  That thought brought a blush and a smile as he brought the sheet up and breathed in the alpha’s scent.   I’m going to miss you while you’re gone.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 20:   Already missing you…

 

Victor rolled over and breathed in the day.  It was a rare Monday that he was able to sleep in and he could already hear life moving about the house.  He stretched out in the sheets, careful not to disturb the little blonde cuddling into him. The extra hours of sleep that morning had been well earned.  Slipping into the room just before midnight, two little bare feet slapped across the floor and the shuffled across the carpet until they crawled into bed with him.  “To what do I owe this honor?” Victor teased.

 

Yura rolled his eyes, tucking the ballerina tiger under his chin.  “I get Yuuri all week but you’re going to be gone.”

 

Fair .  Victor had been flattered by the appearance of his son in the large bed.  But Yura was hard on those he slept with, tossing and turning, pushing his ice cube feet against the other’s ribs, digging his toes into their side.  It would be a long night.

 

Except it wasn’t.  Once the little boy settled...after the little boy tossed and turned all over the place ...Yura curled up in a ball in front of him, facing out.  Victor wrapped his arm around the blonde from behind and tucked him under his chin and there the boy slept most of the night.

 

Looking over he saw Yura still breathing deeply and Victor knew to let him sleep a few minutes longer.  Quietly, he slipped into the bathroom to shower, his one from the night before leaving his hair going every which direction.  Half an hour later, he emerged to find Yura sitting on the bottom step already dressed and pouting.

 

“What’s wrong, my little man?” Victor asked, taking a seat next to him.

 

Yura struggled to contain himself but the sob broke as he spoke his fears.  “What if you don’t come back?”

 

Victor knew the boy’s terror came from losing people.  Putting a hand on his shoulder he started with calm logic.  “Have I ever not come back?”

 

Yura shook his head and hugged him, burying his face into Victor’s chest.  He let the little boy work through his emotions, feeling him still himself as the tears came and went.  The alpha made note that he needed to warn Yuuri that the nightmares picked up when he was gone. The little cherub was so afraid of losing someone else.  Hoisting him into his arms, he carried the child into the kitchen for breakfast. No Yuuri?  He hoped the omega slept well.

 

Ten minutes later, the truth revealed that Yuuri did not sleep well.  But Victor watched as the rest of the assembly seemed unsurprised. Olga had coffee before him as well as a cup of tea as soon as he sat down.  Slowly, he started to perk up with the addition of eggs and rice. Victor smiled as the cavemen that sat at the table transformed into the beautiful Yuuri.  It was then that it dawned on Victor. Yuuri’s not a morning person.   How did I not know that?  Victor remembered that he left the house in the hours that his son and the lovely omega were still in bed.  By the end of breakfast, though, Yuuri was awake and talking to his charge about his day.

 

“Do you have your folder in the bag?  I don’t remember if I signed it.” Yuuri followed Yura over to where the backpack rested from Friday through the weekend and sat down next to him on the floor.  A quick excavation, and Yuuri learned he most certainly had not signed it. “I’m sorry, Yura. I should have paid attention.”

 

Yura took it in stride, “It’s okay...you were with Papa.”

 

Yuuri smiled at the easy forgiveness.  Victor came over to the pair and watched Yuuri as he looked through the papers, frowning at a note scrawled across one of the papers.  Two large brown eyes turned up to him, handing over the note. Victor read the note and knew it was intentionally written in Cyrillic.

 

Dear Mr. Nikiforov,

Yuri has clearly not been studying his vocabulary words.  While I’m certain your omega is doing the best that he can, perhaps someone with a greater understanding of the Russian language should go over them with your son.  Education is important and at this formative age you want to make sure he is surrounded with the best possible influences.

 

Victor bit down on the inside of his cheek, reading between the lines to see the slight directed at Yuuri.  He sighed and wrote back with greater patience than he felt: Yuri has our housekeeper Olga, Yura’s grandfather, or myself to handle anything in which language is a barrier and I’d like to point out this is the first problem Yura has had with vocabulary or academics in general since Yuuri has arrived.  However, with parent night on Thursday, we did not have the time to review the vocabulary words before bed or the next morning. My son is at his best if he observes an 8 p.m. bedtime on a school night. As it was after 8 when we arrived at our home, it was directly to bed for him.  You should see an improvement this week, as I’m certain you have seen a marked improvement in Yura’s grades since Yuuri’s arrival. Thank you for sharing your concern. V.

 

Yuuri blinked up at him, seeing the tight line of his lips and asked, “What did I do wrong this time?”

 

Victor huffed and rolled  his eyes. “Apparently it’s not reading Russian .  I explained to her that we share the duties of Yura’s studies but that we had to get Yura to bed.”

 

Yuuri eyes narrowed, “ Baka ...of course we had to put him to bed.  He’d have been impossible otherwise...and still not got the words down.”

 

“She’s just looking for a reason to complain since I put her in her place at parent’s night.  Don’t take it personally.” Victor hoped to soothe Yuuri’s feelings, but he knew the truth. The omega should take it personally, as the teacher was attacking him as a person.

 

“I won’t,” Yuuri responded but Victor could tell he was feeling sensitive that morning.

 

He led his family to the car and once both were securely fastened in, he drove them to school, smiling as he watched Yura bounding up the steps to talk to his friends.  “So, are you ready for new skates?”

 

Yuuri’s eyes began to dance at that prospect but then he started to protest.  “It’s really too much...I mean, I’m not competing…”

 

“Yuuri, you’re going to be on ice regularly.  You wouldn’t rent shoes for dance.” Victor scoffed at the ridiculous idea of his Yuuri taking a pair of skates from the rental shelf every day and shuddered.

 

Yuuri thought about his worn dance shoes but nodded in agreement.  “It’s just...they are so much.”

 

“I think your feet are worth the investment,” Victor returned.  “And I think you need new dance shoes but we’ll save that argument for another day.”

 

However, Yuuri wasn’t ready to let go of their current argument.  “If I’m getting paid, I can get my own dance shoes. Really, I can save up for skates.”

 

Victor smiled, while he really wanted to treat Yuuri to new skates, knowing the joy the man would get from returning to the ice on professional blades, he was thrilled to see the omega branching out and becoming independent.  “You can...but I made a promise and I’m a man of my word.”

 

Yuuri sighed and turned to look out the window, knowing the argument was lost.  Music began playing and he listened to the words filtering through the car speakers.  Victor had a nice sound system...probably top of the line. So many things about Victor were top of the line.  Yuuri worried about what the alpha would do when he realized he’d wasted so much money on Yuuri...who believed himself far from first class.  He was just a broken omega, not worth a whole lot in the scheme of things. Sure he made Yura smile...but that’s just what omegas do. Any omega would be able to take care of Yura.

 

Yuuri’s pulse picked up and his eyes narrowed.  A low hiss forming in his throat thinking of another omega raising the little blonde.   I don’t want them to, though.  He’s my baby.

 

Yuuri blinked his eyes rapidly realizing he had tears welling up.  Not for the first time that morning, he found himself fighting tears, only moments after fighting himself.  Victor didn’t comment but Yuuri felt a comforting hand on his leg.

 

It’s stupid.  I’m stupid.

 

He leaned back against the headrest and stared straight ahead.

 

There is so little of me left.  Why are you investing so much in a shell of a person?

 

Victor pulled into a parking spot and turned to face Yuuri.  “I know you think I’m extravagant. Maybe I am in comparison to what you’re used to.  However, this is how I take care of my family.”

 

Yuuri heard the apology in the older man’s voice and nodded.  He’d already resigned himself to the skates. It was the clothes all over again.  Every time Victor wanted to do something for him, Yuuri fought him. Why?  Why can’t I just accept your kindness, your compassion?  He let that question drum through his brain as Victor came around and opened the door for him.  Gentle hands guided him out of the passenger seat and then, without warning, Yuuri was scooped into his embrace.   Let him love you.   Katya’s voice sounded warm in his memory.  He didn’t fight it. Instead, he melted into those arms, seeking Victor’s scent and his calm.

 

“I’m sorry I’m difficult,” he murmured as they parted.

 

“You’re not,” Victor argued and when Yuuri leveled a gaze at him, he laughed.  “Not really. You make it hard for me to take care of you, sometimes...I’m worried you don’t believe you’re worth the effort.  I don’t agree. But it will probably take time to get you there, however I’m certain you will believe it, and soon.” Yuuri’s chin dropped and Victor could tell he’d hit the nail on the head.  “Don’t worry. I’m a patient man.”

 

The coach led the skater into the familiar store.  The clerk, a fan of Victor’s, led Yuuri to a seat where he was fitted with boots.  After watching the young skater walk on the demo blades he determined the right fits.  The boots were placed in the oven while Victor set about selecting blades. Yuuri smiled at the familiar process.  Even with Victor helping him bridge the language gap, Yuuri made his selections with ease, depending on Victor for help on what was new in industry.  Yuuri shook his head as Victor held up the pair of blades made famous by Chen and giggled at the alpha’s pout. It wasn’t that Yuuri needed competition grade skates, either.  He’d be teaching and coaching children. Maybe later, he’d gain more students but a set of decent boots with the standard blade was fine...although Victor was willing to do more.  Yuuri smiled as he ran his fingers along the blades he’d selected, remembering when he was younger, his feet growing, picking out new skates. The promise of competitions in his future...

 

As they mounted his blades, he let his eyes wander over the various options.  Victor pointed out the different skates worn by the skaters at the rink and why they chose that option.  Yuuri smiled as he thought about his future at the rink, something he never considered when he answered Victor’s ad.  He’d only managed one quad, a mere quad toe-loop, by the time he had been forced to retire. He never figured out how to get the height.  He looked down at the boots, still warm from the oven as they formed to his feet, a thin sock covering his feet. When I was forced to retire a quad toe was all anyone could land.   But he read the blogs and knew he had been the one to watch when it came to step sequences and his spins had been talked about as well.  He smiled thinking of Jason Brown’s tweet rant about comparing Yuuri to Scotty Hamilton.

 

He smiled brightly as he stood in his new skates, walking back and forth to check for additional adjustments.  He heard some words exchanged in Russian and ignored them, although he felt the fondness in Victor’s smile as he answered.

 

Victor, on the other hand, conversed with the man bringing Yuuri his skates.  “I’m glad you were able to fit us into a morning appointment.”

 

“Not a problem.”  The clerk began packing away his drill.  “I thought you were bringing us one of your competitors.  I was hoping it wasn’t one of them going for Skate America.”

 

“No, they have their skates, laces, socks all ready...and hopefully packed.”  Victor grimaced at the thought, Russia had nearly lost an Olympic gold medal last time an athlete needed new boots that close to competition.  His eyes drifted over to the omega, who had removed the boots and wandered to section of the store holding warm up clothes. “Yuuri...he’s a friend and hasn’t been able to skate for some time.  I want to give him back the ice.”

 

The clerk straightened his back, stretching the cracks out.  “He reminds me of my son when he received his first pair of skates.”

 

“He deserves all the joy.”  Victor turned back to the clerk.  Smiling, he added, “Thank you.”

 

Yuuri only needed minor adjustments and then Victor insisted on a proper gear bag.  The alpha, sneaky as ever, got Yuuri to agree to a Transpack, only to fill it with the warm up pants he had seen the omega admire, then add two sets of bunga pads, extra laces and two pairs of socks.  Yuuri hadn’t even noticed the additions until it was too late. Afterward they left, making a stop at the pharmacy on the way to pick up bandages and a few other necessities including a few things to make Yuuri more comfortable during his pre-heat (including a hot water bottle with a bunny wrap).

 

Yuuri was starting to droop by the time they headed back home for lunch.  Olga laid out cold sandwiches and reheated soup. Then Yuuri eased into the living room to nap until Victor was ready to pick up Yura.  He didn’t notice the alpha tucking a blanket around him and the drop of the wrist along the surface of the fabric. The housekeeper, however, watched unobserved from the door.  She worried about the little omega and how he would fare in Victor’s absence. Now, she added the worry of Victor without Yuuri. She knew her employer...and he didn’t give his heart easily.  Not anymore. She knew this would be for keeps. She hoped the younger man was ready.

 





Yuuri felt a gentle brush of his hair and cheek tugging him from his sleep and he moaned in protest.  A warm laugh greeted him and he fluttered his eyes open. “I’m just so tired,” he explained as he pushed out of his cocoon.

 

Victor pressed a water bottle into his hand as he knelt down.  “I’m sure it’s your body preparing for heat.”

 

Yuuri groaned.  “I hate the preheat stage.”  Finding his feet, he folded the blanket before declaring, “I hate postheat as well.”  And as they stepped out the front door, he added, “I hate my heat in general.”

 

Victor remained silent and considered the boy’s experience.  He could easily understand why this omega would find no joy in the experience.  It likely held no good memories. He’d garnered enough knowledge to assess that not only had the alpha marked him as a child, stolen him away probably as soon as it was legal...but he was selfish and used Yuuri for his own pleasure.  As he knelt down to settle Yuuri into the car, he felt the omega’s gaze upon him.

 

“Why do you do that?”

 

Victor kept his eyes on his hands as he watched them fix the safety device in place.  “Buckle you in?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  It was an extra level of care that Yuuri had rarely witnessed and certainly hadn’t enjoyed.

 

Victor knew it went back further than Yuuri, “I guess...it started with Yelena, to be honest.  Those last months, really the last year, I’d drive her to her appointments. She didn’t have a lot of strength and everything seemed an effort.  So...I did what I could to take things off of her plate and let her enjoy what remained.”

 

Yuuri studied him before blinking rapidly, sniffing back the startling tears.  “I-I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

 

Victor smiled indulgently, reaching over to pull a tissue from a Makkachin shaped tissue box in the center console.  “You don’t have to apologize for tears. Not here. Not with me, Yuuri.” Victor remained kneeling beside him, hand on Yuuri’s lap holding the hand that didn’t have the tissue until the omega settled.  He knew it was likely hormones but he didn't want to dismiss Yuuri’s emotions out of hand. The omega had been through so much and it could have been that this small kindness triggered something deeper.

 

Yuuri stared out the window as they drove.  Victor noticed and wondered if it was something he did when he was with his ex.   It’s like a disappearing act.   Yuuri was present when caring for his son, and mostly in the presence of others.  But sometimes, he slipped away, as if his thoughts were caught by a will-o-wisp.

 

He pulled to a stop and Yuuri shook off the reverie and smiled, a little embarrassed, before slipping out of the car to go and welcome Yura after school.  Victor watched Yuuri drop down to his knees and pull the little boy into a hug, securing his coat as they broke apart and tugging on his mittens and hat. Once satisfied, he led Yura to the car and Victor noticed that Yuuri made sure the car seat was buckled properly despite Yura’s protests.

 

“I can do it myself.”

 

Rather than arguing, Yuuri simply requested, “Indulge me in this.”  Yura thinned his lips and nodded, accepting the way Yuuri made the act a gift to himself.

 

At the rink, Victor left the two in the lobby needing to tend to his own skaters.  He had several come up to him, checking in and double-checking their concerns. Today’s practice would be short for the travelers.

 

Yuuri walked with Yura up the stairs to their practice.  They were early and Yuuri took advantage of the time, and after a quick warm up, moved onto the ice while Yura watched.  The freshly sharpened skates had that magnetic quality to the ice and Yuuri laughed at himself as he stuttered on his first attempt at a stop.  Two little green eyes narrowed at him but then relaxed as he watched the older man go into a figure eight. He didn’t know how long he’d worked out the pattern but he looked up to chattering children and a few claps and cries of “pretty” from both students and parents.  He noted Katya wasn’t there yet with Mila and suspected they stopped for a snack since the older child started her lessons later.

 

Yuuri then smiled as he spotted two new students looking nervous but, knowing Yuuri already, relief settled into their expressions.  Yuuri skated to the barrier and greeted their mother. “Mehar, I didn’t know you had enrolled them.”

 

“I didn’t know you’d be teaching their class,” she teased.

 

Yuuri blushed and glanced around.  “It’s new...they offered me the position Friday.  And...it helps Victor. Georgi, the regular coach, will be moving back into the regular arena and I can continue working with the kids.”

 

Mehar smiled broadly, leaning over the barrier to tap him playfully on the arm.  “Well, good for you. Employment goes a long way into providing independence.”

 

Yuuri had to agree.  He worked for Victor and that had its own freedom...but this felt separate, like he earned the job on his own.  He knew Yakov had gone behind Victor’s back to offer him the position, knowing the head coach would readily agree with his recommendation.  That gave the job more value, and by extension Yuuri felt himself having more value.

 

He soon had the younger skaters working through their basics.  This included Zaina and Otabek but he could tell both would move to the next level fairly quickly.  His favorite part was when he worked with Mila’s group. Yura tagged along and Yuuri could see the five-year-old keeping up without any problems.  Georgi explained, “He should be with them. The boy grew up on the ice. But he’s so tiny, we didn’t want him to be trampled. So we have him with the intermediates.”

 

Then the class wrapped up and Yuuri packed away his skates, following Yura to his Papa’s office.  Victor looked up, phone against his ear, as they entered and then Yuuri realized Yura stashed his skates.  “Will we be able to get to them while you’re papa is gone?” he asked softly, not wanting to disturb Victor’s call.

 

Yura nodded and pulled him down to whisper, “Gosha and Yakov have keys.”

 

“And so will you,” Victor added as he disconnected the call.

 

“Me?” Yuuri asked, startled.

 

“Of course!  Who else would I trust in my office?  Both Georgi and Yakov come in here if I need something faxed to me while I’m out of town but this will give you a place to retreat to when you’re between classes.  I suspect Yakov has bigger plans for you and is easing you into it.”

 

“Really?”  Yuuri wasn’t sure if he should feel overwhelmed or flattered...or both.

 

Victor nodded, a grin making its way to his lips.  “He peeked in on you earlier. He saw you skating figures and earlier this week he was complaining about needing someone to work with their edgework.”

 

“Oh, I haven’t really skated...not regularly...in years.  I mean, Phichit sometimes got me on ice when he snuck me out but…”

 

Victor crossed the small office to put his hands on Yuuri’s arms, ending the argument.  “Yakov is going to base his call on what he sees...but for now, we need you with the children because I do need Gosha out with me.”

 

“Okay,” Yuuri answered, his eyes wide.  “I like working with the children.”

 

“I know...that makes it a perfect place for you to start.  And don’t worry...I don’t think there are any plans to take them away from you.”  He threw his hands up with a roll of his eyes and added, “I thought I was in charge of this rink...it turns out that I’m just a coach.”  He then snorted and nodded towards Yakov’s office. “I don’t think he’ll ever truly let go. But...less travel will make it easier on him and Lilia.”

 




After a quick dinner, Victor led Yuuri out into the evening air.  He’d already checked the address and told Yuuri he knew exactly where that community center was located.

 

“What are you going to do while I’m in class?”

 

“There is a coffee shop across the street and I brought my laptop.”  He then frowned. “I’m going to have to take it with me for the trip.”

 

Yuuri stopped for a moment, then realized the implication for himself.  “Oh.” I do need to figure out how to get a computer of my own.

 

He negotiated traffic while he thought through the problem.  “You have a key to my office...you’ll just have to use that computer.  I think we need to look at getting your own.”

 

Yuuri chewed his lip as he considered Victor’s suggestion.  He had his paychecks from Victor but hadn’t managed to open a checking account.  He had tried twice to open a checking account at a bank he passed on the way to Yura’s school.  Both attempts ended almost in tears. They didn’t have anyone who could speak English and help him with the process.  In frustration, he went home and put the check into a drawer in his vanity where he kept his other important documents.

 

“When I get back...or at least, after your heat,” Victor promised.

 

Victor walked Yuuri into his first class and met the instructor, getting the details on the length of the class before he retreated and left Yuuri in their care.

 

Yuuri looked around and realized he was in a room full of omegas.  The instructor knew the turn of his thoughts and supplied, “Many omegas come to this country to be with their alpha.  Alphas find resources with ease to meet language requirements. Omegas, however, struggle because they are often not as comfortable in mixed company.”

 

That’s a polite way of putting it.  Yuuri smiled at the understanding woman, but it was only half of their trouble.  Omegas didn’t mind mixed company, they minded sexual harassment, threats, aggressive behavior, and they really hated how alphas got away with it while the omegas bore the social stigmas.  The fact remained, no one made alphas behave and even some betas would get handsy.  The stigma of an omega’s purpose being to breed and please still remained. Yuuri was thankful Victor had come with him the first time.  He’d been nervous. But now he knew it was a safe place.

 

Yuuri leaned in to conference with his teacher, “My heat is soon.”

 

“We are flexible here and you will find your partners will be able to work with you in that.”  She smiled at Yuuri and picked up a series of papers along with what looked like a workbook. “Now...where are we...beginner or intermediate...or maybe…”

 

“Definitely a beginner.  I’ve only picked up a few phrases since I came here.”

 

“Very well, come with me.”  She guided him to a corner where several omegas were reviewing conversation scripts and introduced him.  “This is Yuuri. He’s come here from Japan and it looks like he plans to stay for awhile. Let’s make him feel welcome.”

 

He soon started learning their names and the different walks of life where they came from.   He thought he’d feel insecure because of what Shuji put him through but he soon learned that he wasn’t the only one who came to Russia after a bad relationship, whether by choice or not.  Soon he was at ease and they helped him move into the routine. Within each group was a native speaker, a volunteer who chose to help transition the foreign omegas. The one in charge of their group was a male omega named Boris, a social worker who was surprisingly large in stature.  He laughed and said that most of his family was large. The man’s warmth and strength gave something to the rest of the group.

 

On the ride home, Yuuri asked Victor if he had been bored while waiting.

 

“I learned a long time ago to carry a book...it’s easier with phones and tablets these days.”

 

“Oh,” Yuuri blushed.  He knew Victor read a lot and rarely watched television.  He should have known the alpha would have been fine. “Our group leader...he’s a Russian social worker named Boris.  I’ve never seen such a huge omega!”

 

Victor chuckled.  “It’s not so rare in Russia...I’ve met a few that caught me off guard.”

 

They were silent for a few more blocks and finally Yuuri asked, “What if my heat comes early?”

 

“Don’t worry.  Olga and Nikolai will take care of everything...including Yura.”

 

Yuuri nodded, sighing shakily.  He didn’t realize he was rubbing his hands nervously until a hand reached over and patted his thigh.  Under the cover of darkness, he murmured, “I hate my heat. Even after he was out of my life...it was a nightmare.”

 

“Your body...it takes a while to let your mate go.  Even if you don’t want them. I went through several ruts before mine accepted Yelena’s passing.”

 

“I don’t want to...think about him .”  Yuuri wanted to accept what Victor was saying but it was such a different situation.  Yelena had been a warm and loving person, letting go of her would be hard. Shuji was a nightmare Yuuri was only just beginning to wake from.

 

“Then don’t.”   Think of me.  He forced a smile and turned down their street.  He gripped the steering wheel, forcing the thought to stay behind his teeth where it belonged just now.  “Think of someone you’d rather be with.”

 

Yuuri felt his face burn and thanked his luck for the dark sky casting no light in the car.  “But...I have no intimate knowledge of anyone else.”

 

Victor blinked at those words.  Fourteen .  Oh, you wouldn’t have had any prior lovers.  As he pulled into the drive, he suggested, “Olga has a number of saucy romance books.  Perhaps read a few of them beforehand.”

 

Yuuri giggled a little thinking of the ridiculous turn of the conversation.  “They are probably in Russian.”

 

“Not necessarily.  Olga reads fluently in English and French as well.  Before...her husband...well, she wanted to travel. Losing him broke her spirit.  Now she wants smaller things.”

 

Yuuri understood that.  “Sometimes just reclaiming your independence seems like a big thing.”

 

“I want that for you, though.”  Victor patted Yuuri’s thigh once more before easing out of the car.  He loved how Yuuri waited for him to open the door and help him out of the car...but he wondered if that was something Yuuri enjoyed.  “Does this...make you feel less independent?”

 

Yuuri blinked up at him in surprise.  “The car thing?”

 

Victor nodded, fighting the urge to brush Yuuri’s hair from his face.  “I just thought about it...and you brought it up earlier.”

 

“I don’t mind the car thing,” Yuuri admitted.  “It makes me feel...valued. Probably because you don’t make it seem like a control thing.”

 

Victor nodded, happy that he wasn’t impeding the omega’s progress.  He led Yuuri inside. As he helped the omega out of his coat and he realized there were a number of small things he did for Yuuri to care for him, all of which Yuuri accepted with grace but didn’t necessarily expect or require.  As he hung the coat up, he noticed Yuuri approaching the stairs. He won’t be awake when I leave in the morning.

 

“If you...need anything…” Victor trailed off, not sure what to offer.

 

Yuuri leveled him a look.  “I need your itinerary and good times to call in case Yura needs to talk to his father.  Otherwise, I have his schedule down and everyone is willing to help.”

 

Victor watched as Yuuri stood on the steps, looking at him with suspicion.  The alpha took in a breath, starting slowly, “About your heat...I talked to Nikolai.  If...your scent might attract some untoward attention…”

 

Yuuri sighed, his face deepening into a nice shade of beet red.   Why couldn’t we talk about this in the dark car?  “I’ll be fine.”

 

Victor nodded, unconvinced, and chewed his bottom lip.  “If Nikolai says not to walk…”

 

“Fine...I’ll let him drive me,” Yuuri declared in exasperation.  He walked up three steps before turning back to reiterate, “I really hate my heat.”  Then he was running up the stairs two at a time.

 




Victor woke up to Yura in his bed, the little boy pouting while Victor gathered his gear.  “Do you have to go?” the little boy whined.

 

“I’m afraid so, mal’yish ,” Victor sighed, bundling his son into his arms and carrying him up the stairs.  He knocked on Yuuri’s door using the little boy for one last chance to say goodbye.  Yuuri, hair sleep tossed, eyes blurry, took one look at the situation and gathered Yura into his arms, inadvertently leaning into Victor’s embrace  The alpha couldn’t pass up this invitation and wrapped his arms around both of them. Yuuri’s cheek rested against his shoulder, breathing him. As Yuuri pulled back, he felt Yuuri’s free hand, no...free wrist, sliding down his back in an unconscious scenting action.  The alpha blushed with pleasure. “I’ve got to go now. Call me if you need me,” he whispered before turning to his son, tweaking his nose, and whispering, “Good bye.” He leaned and kissed the little boy’s cheek, his breath catching with the gentle nuzzle from the omega.   God, I don’t want to leave.

 

Yuuri moved to the banister and peered down to the first floor as Victor reached for his suitcase and slipped out the front door.  I already miss you.  He tucked the little boy under his chin and carried him to bed.

 

Outside, Victor glanced up to catch a glimpse of Yuuri’s light darkening.   I miss you already.  Tucking his suitcase into the trunk, he pulled out his phone and looked at his home screen.  A picture of Yuuri holding his son greeted him.  It’s going to be a long two weeks.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 21:   Safe and loved

 

Caim (n) lit.. “Sanctuary”; an invisible circle of protection drawn around the body with the hand, that reminds you that you are safe and loved, even in the darkest times.

 

Yuuri faced Tuesday as he did any day.  He diligently wrestled Yura into his uniform, battled him over socks and won, then dealt with the inevitable pout at the foot of the stairs.  The fact remained: neither Yu(u)ri was morning people. You get that from me.  Yuuri smiled thinking of the little blonde as being like him.  However, they perked up over breakfast in their own way. Yura mulled over his bowl of oatmeal letting its warmth fill him up and gulped down the sweetness of juice, it’s sugar sparking energy in the mite before he jumped off the stool scampering after a kitty.  Yuuri was better after a cup of coffee followed by a cup of tea. He never really drank coffee before moving to Russia but the demands of his morning required him to make sacrifices to his taste buds. After enough things were added to the cup of bitter darkness, it was almost good.   Almost.

 

Tea was better.  That’s why he saved it for last.  It felt like curling up into a warm sweater, and tasted like heaven.

 

Two boxes had arrived from home the previous day.  The smaller of the two was decorated in such a way to entice Yuuri to open it first with its brightly colored tape, cheerful stickers and stamps, and other fun details.  Inside, he found things he could only get back home...including proper tea in a variety of blends. This morning, he needed that tea. Yamecha .  The sweet full flavor would remove all memory of the bitter coffee.  He remembered traveling with his class to see how it was grown and falling in love with the smell of the field as it grew richer in the rain.  He recalled going with his mother to the tea merchants and seeing how the leaves were dried, cured and added to spices to make the final product.  His mother talked with the merchants like a wisened pro. She instilled this in her son, making sure he could tell the difference between teas...and this one in particular was special...unadorned and pure.

 

He didn’t mind the green teas he encountered in Russia...he grew up on green tea, starting and ending his day with it.  What he couldn’t understand was destroying it with a spoonful of jam. Smirking at the offensive act he clutched the packet to his chest.   I’ll keep you safe.   He hid his prized tea away and refused to share it if they were going to mangle its flavor.  When he carried it protectively into the kitchen, Olga just watched him with amusement and set the kettle on.

 

Yuuri’s box had other things of home.  Candies he enjoyed, snacks his mother made, spices that he couldn’t find in Russia.  Several of these went into the pantry...ready to be shared easily with the other members of his new family.  Yuuri watched Yura make a face when he tried the bean bun but was impressed the child tried it although the treat was unfamiliar to him.  By the end, Yura had happily devoured the dessert and was ready for another. Yuuri promised they’d try something different each day until the tin was empty.  An after school treat.

 

Upstairs sat another box, unopened.  Yuuri knew it was for the shrine. He was grateful to his mother for sending these pieces to him, and he felt the obligation to set it up, and allow the grieving process to begin.  However, a part of him couldn’t deal with both the mourning and Victor leaving at the same time. Setting it in a safe place he slid a hand over the delivery label, recognizing his mother’s handwriting.  She had taken the trouble to write out the addresses in both Haranga and Cyrillic wanting to ensure its proper delivery. He’d open it when he felt more stable, more together. I’ve waited for years to get to this place, even without the hope that this day would come.  There is no rush, no reason to hurry anything. A few more days won’t make a difference.

 

He thought back to the early hours of that morning when Victor brought a sleeping Yura to him.  There was an intimacy in the act, Victor trusting Yuuri with the care of his son, the comforting embrace that said both thank you and goodbye .

 

Yuuri hated goodbyes.  He had experienced too many, and each one carried the worry of permanency.  Every time Shuji forced a departure from his family or friends Yuuri would spend so long worrying about whether he’d see them again.  Months without seeing his parents, his friends...and those were good stretches. There were two different times where Yuuri had been separated from all those who loved him for over a year...and once, he didn’t see any of them for over three years.  Keeping him from family was one of the ways Shuji had controlled him.

 

Now, staring out the window into the rainswept yard, he missed his family but it didn’t ache near as bad.  He knew the only thing separating him from them was distance, never Victor.  You can see them at the end of the season if you want.  The alpha’s warm voice rang softly in his ears, he knew the truth of those words before Victor even spoke them.  Victor would make sure he knew he wasn’t cut off from his family. He knew in his heart Victor would make a way for him to go if he chose.  These months in Russia were different from the months in Tokyo. He wasn’t isolated. He didn’t have to worry about stealing conversations on a hidden away phone until it was discovered and smashed in front of him.  Phichit had been his one constant, making sure he kept all of Yuuri’s contacts in a safe place, ready to put on a new phone and smuggle it to his friend.

 

He’d been thankful when Nikolai came in and took Yura to school, insisting it would start raining before Yuuri would return.  He wasn’t wrong. The steady drizzle carried the cold with it and Yuuri moved restlessly from room to room, shaking off the ache only for it to return with a stubbornness.  Olga was out at the moment with Nikolai doing the shopping. In the large, rambling home, Yuuri felt listless.

 

You can use my bath.

 

The large brown eyes sparkled with the prospect.  A bath sounded good. Yuuri considered the time. It would be a while before Yura returned, a while yet before Yuuri would have to deal with people in general.  Gathering a change of clothes, a towel, and a few other essentials, he tiptoed into Victor’s room. Walking down the hall from his room he heard a floorboard creak under his foot and stopped quickly, catching his breath.  Years spent sneaking around and breaking rules came back to him. Years of listening for Shuji’s voice, or his footsteps. Years of straining his ears to figure out if he had time to hide his phone, or the food he was eating, or the book he was reading before…  He shook off that feeling as soon as he realized what he was doing, straightened his back, and boldly marched down the stairs and into the room.

 

Closing the bedroom door, Yuuri relaxed against the wood and took in the space.  Dark rich wood with deep antique gold and purple bedding .  A small sitting area sat off to the side with coordinating fabrics and matching deep woods with the added warmth of rich leathers.  Yuuri couldn’t help running his hand over the paisley pillow cases. He wondered if Victor made his own bed or if Olga took care of it.  He suspected the alpha did attempt to make the bed and keep his space tidy but Olga went back through and “made it right.” Yuuri smiled at how well the house and family worked together, feeling warm that he was now part of this.

 

He relaxed as he moved further in the space, the scent of the alpha surrounding him and doing much to settle his nerves.  He stopped near the bedside table to study the photos. In delicate matching frames stood images of Yelena holding baby Yura, a wedding picture with Victor standing behind her, a mischievous smile on his face while she looked up at him laughing, teenage Victor with Makkachin as a puppy, toddler Yura stretched over Makka’s back reaching for a kitten.  Other surfaces held further snapshots of Victor’s life. He stopped before another painting, this one of Victor, a soft expression on his face, one Yuuri often witnessed when Victor was listening to his son. He could tell by the scale, composition, and background, the painting was the pair to Yelena’s portrait in the hall.

 

Yuuri finally opened the door into the bathroom and his eyes widened.  The space was warm, full of dark woods, the flooring a slate gray with a mix of browns in the natural stone.  The shower stood to one side separate from the tub, which was oversized and boasted shining copper fixtures. Yuuri could see where Nikolai had worked to replace one length of the piping and then the next.  Running his fingers along the pipework, he could feel the wear of years. This was probably here with Victor’s parents.  Still, the space was cavernous, the slate continuing up the wall and over the ceiling where lights were recessed into the ceiling.  An arch separated it from the room but it was open otherwise, sloped to drain into the floor without run off. Yuuri could picture himself showering with Victor with room to spare.  He thought about the floor, imaging their feet gently touching each other as the water rushed down their legs. Victor washing his hair, long fingers working against Yuuri’s scalp...then he blushed at the thought.  He’d never showered or bathed with another man...well, not like that. Shuji wasn’t into intimacy, not the nice kind at least. And while he grew up in an onsen it wasn’t the same thing...nothing like he had just imagined.

 

Yuuri went to the jetted tub and groaned.  He sat on the side, looking down into the deep, wide space.  It would also hold two with ease. He suspected Victor added this later, replacing what was here.  He could picture a clawfoot tub in this space. The stone moved halfway up the wall and was met with a deep wood chair moulding, a wallpaper repeating the muted tones from the plaid found on the couch and throw pillows.  Running his fingers along the surface of the jetted tub, he could imagine himself curled in Victor’s embrace. Or Victor in his, Yuuri’s legs wrapped around the still slender torso as he rubbed soap down the older man’s arms and back...Yuuri rose quickly, shaking off those daydreams.   It’s my heat, it’s just my approaching heat.   He set the taps to run a hot bath before moving to shower off.  He gave into the temptation to try Victor’s shampoo and recognized a citrus scent that complemented Victor’s natural cedar.  He continued to bathe off, already starting to feel more to rights but he still planned to soak in that tub.

 

Moving from the shower to the tub, Yuuri noticed how he was able to move about the space as comfortably as he was.  Granted, this was Victor’s space, and part of Yuuri felt like he was invading but another part...a much louder part...knew he needed to be there, needed to ground himself in this room, needed to surround himself in the alpha’s scent.

 

The water of the tub had warmed nicely, steam rising and the slight scent of lavender filling the room.  Finally settling into the tub with a sigh, he let his eyes drift around the room. Above the tub hung a mirror, a chunky but ornate frame in the deep wood tones.  Shelves held a number of bath soaps and salts. Across the room stood a double vanity set into cabinets that looked much more like an antique dresser topped off with a marble counter, the sinks copper vessels.  Yuuri smiled as he looked above the mirrors, a matching set of ovals framed in deep heavy wood like the one above the bathtub, and spotted a pair of small chandeliers. The entire space was warm, masculine, but not overbearing.   Like Victor .

 

Closing his eyes, he felt the jets easing tension he didn’t know he was holding.   I feel safe.  So then why do I feel so...off?  Truth be told, he started feeling out of sorts after Victor left.   He’s not mine.  I should be fine without him.  But his mind, body, even his heart argued otherwise.  Yuuri being Yuuri ignored all and stuck to his own stubborn convictions.

 

Blinking up towards the ceiling, broken up with deep paneled beams of wood, he considered the man.  Victor had taken Yuuri in with all of his struggles and trusted him with his child. The alpha never hesitated in caring for the omega.   Do I like to be cared for?  Yuuri had always considered himself to be an independent man.  Even in captivity, he saw to himself. What would it be like to be...taken care of?  To be...loved? To actually...make love?  Yuuri gasped as he realized where his thoughts had taken him.

 

I’ve never wanted another man...I’ve never wanted any man.  I didn’t want the first.

 

He closed his eyes and forced himself to put it into context.

 

Is this my approaching heat talking?

 

He considered where he came from, frowning as he remembered his captor.

 

I never had the chance to want another man.  I never knew what choice or consent would feel like.  You tied me down right after I presented, Shuji. Pulled me from my life, stole my family, my future.  You are a monster. I was a child!

 

I was a child…

 

The sob broke free and he cried, his body shaking in the warmth of the tub, the jets pulsing through the water.  “I just want to be normal. To allow myself to be loved without worry or suspicion. To return that love.”

 

Yuuri finally laid back, his hand sliding up his torso, mildly exploring his own body.  His fingers found soft places along his belly and dips that were quickly shallowing. He thought about the man that belonged to this room, to this house.   Could you love me?  Is that what I want?

 

Climbing out of the tub, he pulled the plug and dried off with the plush towel.  Hanging it over the bar to dry, he turned back and cleaned up the further evidence of his intrusion.   He invited me to be here.  He told me to do what I needed.   He smiled at the thoughts, but then remembered he had, afterall, grown up in an onsen.   That doesn’t mean I need to leave a mess.  He dressed in the comfortable, soft warmth of sweatpants and a long sleeved tee.

 

Following his feet out the door, he stopped in the bedroom.  Victor’s masculine scent unchecked and eking into every corner, melding with the threads of fabric, greeted him once more.  Resting his eyes on the bed, relaxed from the warmth of the bed, the sleepless night and hard morning caught up to him. He ignored warnings in his head that said not to and crawled into the bed.  He didn’t pull back the covers but curled up on the top of the comforter.

 

His eyelids lowered slowly, opening and closing until finally giving in.  And if his dreams led him to the man missing from the room, Yuuri could blame it on the scent surrounding him.

 




Olga went about the house cleaning rooms as she found them.  She wondered, offhand, where Yuuri had gotten off to but figured he’d turn up eventually.  She had noticed that sometimes the little omega needed to spend a few moments in quiet reflection.  Opening Victor’s room, she sighed. The small lump in the bed answered her questions. Poor thing...missing his alpha already.  Gingerly, she walked over and reached for the corner of the bedding, drawing it over Yuuri to ward against the chill before carefully leaving the room.

 

In the kitchen, she chatted amiably with the old man.  “Yuuri Toshiyavich is showing more signs of his approaching heat.”  She didn’t need to hide her concern from him, the older man held his own for the little omega.

 

“Vitya told me to keep an eye on him.”  The older man rubbed his thumb against patch of rough skin on his palm.  He had been thinking of ways to keep the young man close to home without making him feel stifled.  "Yuuri is independent and proud but he doesn’t want Yuuri out by himself as his heat draws closer.”

 

“I agree...so you’ll see to Yura?”  Olga raised her eyebrows, watching the older man take a deep breath in.  For such a small, thin omega neither of them looked forward to butting heads with his stubborn nature.  Yuuri would be reluctant to let another take care of his little one...even Grandpa.

 

“Of course!  I’ve already agreed to take him on during Yuuri’s heat.”

 

Olga chuckled.  “That room has a lot of soundproofing but it still lets noise in...and out.  Can you imagine Yura’s questions?”

 

Nikolai snorted.  “That boy is too curious for his own good.”  He then quieted and nodded towards the door.

 

A sleepy Yuuri wandered in, his eyes going from one to the other suspiciously.  “I...fell asleep.”

 

“I saw,” Olga answered, her eyes teasing.

 

Yuuri blushed in response and ducked into the dining room.  He climbed into his chair and pulled his knees to his chest, his eyes looking out towards the back yard.

 

The housekeeper watched him with concern.  “Do you need anything, dear?”

 

Yuuri turned back and studied the table before slowly shaking his head.  “I should probably get ready to go pick up Yura.”

 

“Oh, it’s still raining,” Olga protested, moving quickly to block Yuuri’s path to his coat.

 

Yuuri shrugged.  “Katya is stopping by to pick me up.  Her call woke me up. She said I sounded like I need out of the house.”

 

As despondent as the omega appeared, Olga tended to agree.  She quickly assessed the situation, while he would be out of the house too close to his heat, he would be with a trusted friend.  “Will you be back for dinner?”

 

Yuuri looked up surprised by that question.  “She said something about taking Mila to dance class.  There is a younger version for Yura to participate in and start building his basics.  We...were going to get tea. I just need to get out of my head for awhile. It’s probably the weather.”

 

Olga thinned her lips and nodded, letting him have his myth.  That sounded like a yes so if they were late, she’d have something put back for them.  “Let us know if we can help,” she offered.

 

Yuuri nodded, already extricating himself from the room and added attention.

 




Yuuri stood waiting under the shelter of the front stoop.  Katya had texted ten minutes prior that she was on her way.  He needed this. He felt the weight of Victor’s absence already crushing him.   I don’t understand it.  We aren’t mated. We aren’t even dating.  One “date” doesn’t constitute dating, does it?   Yuuri worried over these thoughts as the familiar SUV drove up.  However once the Katya’s smile beamed from the driver’s seat, Yuuri lifted the umbrella to make his way down the sidewalk to where she had parked.

 

“Yuuri!  How are you?”

 

Yuuri shrugged, closing the umbrella as he settled into his seat and then fastened the seatbelt.  “I don’t...know?”

 

“Well, I thought at first I’d take you to one of my favorite places for tea...but now I think you could use the quiet...and I know just the place and we can stay out of the rain.”

 

“It’s just…” he began than released a huge lungful of air.  “We’re not dating!” The words came out with a force.

 

Katya studied him, her eyes taking in the frazzled appearance.  “Oh, god! You’re dealing with mate separation!”

 

“I can’t be…” Yuuri protested, “It’s got to be something else.  I didn’t do this with Shuji...and he was gone a lot.”

 

She resisted the urge to dig too far and instead eased the SUV into gear, pulling into traffic.  “He was?” Katya kept her focus on the traffic, which helped to make her question sound less searching than it actually was.

 

Yuuri nodded, not hearing her interest.  “I knew how long based on the number of rations he laid out.”

 

Her jaw stiffened at those words.  “Well, you can’t compare that to now.  You didn’t really accept Shuji as a mate.”   Because he wasn’t.  She paused, keeping her cool.  “Maybe under the law he was, but not in your heart.”

 

Yuuri shrugged, settling further into the seat.  “And Victor? We went on one...date. Or maybe it wasn’t a date.  I don’t think…” Yuuri paused, looking at his hands. Then the large brown eyes shifted to her, full of self doubt, “he could do so much better than me.”

 

Katya spared him a look, reaching over to pat his hand.  “You are still having trouble saying that. A date. That’s what it was.  He even took you to dinner before the party.”

 

“It’s...hard for me to accept.  And I don’t know...he may think I was too much trouble.  I mean, I drank too much and I can’t even remember what happened.  And I don’t want to risk losing Yura. I think…” he gulped in some air before continuing, fighting a sob, “that would hurt more than anything.”

 

Katya glanced towards Yuuri and reached over to give his hand a squeeze.  “It’s going to be okay. Victor...doesn’t play with people’s hearts. If he seems interested, he is.  He doesn’t believe in being false about matters of the heart.”

 

“I...know,” Yuuri whispered, his eyes turned towards the window.  “I just...I’m not worth it.”

 

“Yuuuuriii,” her voice chased after him, chastising those thoughts.  “You are worth so much...don’t let that man dictate your value.”

 

Yuuri sat quietly for a few minutes.  His eyes were focused beyond the window, watching the activity just outside.  “I keep thinking...what if he didn’t set me free? I wasn’t allowed to leave on my own.”

 

“And that is so very wrong...but that doesn’t mean you’re not worth it.  To someone, I’d daresay to more than one someone, you’re worth everything.”  She pulled to a stop at the curb, nodding towards the schoolyard. “There’s one someone now.”

 

Yuuri drew in a ragged breath watching the boy light up on seeing him, waving to his friend before jumping puddles to reach the SUV behind Mila.

 

“Am I really going to go to dance class?”

 

Yuuri laughed shakily.  “It seems that way. We’re stopping on the way to get you the gear that you need, but I confirmed it with Madame Lilia this morning.”

 

“Yes!”  The blonde fist pumped the air.  Yuuri stifled a laugh wondering when the little Russian had seen The Breakfast Club.

 

Yuuri met Katya’s eyes, a smile finding its way past the ghosts of Yuuri’s past.  He knew Yura was bored in his skating class. He couldn’t move up but he already excelled in his skills.   You’ll always push that line, won’t you?  Jumps and spins long before you’re ready. We’re going to be constantly tugging you back.

 




Yuuri watched Yura skip into the dance class across the hall from Mila’s and listened to the teacher’s instructions.  Even in Russian, Yuuri instinctively knew what she was expecting.  I could teach this class with my eyes closed.  Then he smirked.   Maybe not with five-year-olds.

 

Following Katya downstairs, the redhead led Yuuri to the cantina and then down a series of halls to a small alcove where a few chairs were strewn.  “Some of the kids study here between practice but they’ll all be busy right now. I like to hide out here sometimes.”

 

They chose a spot near the window and Yuuri sipped his tea while he stared out into the rainy day.  “Maybe it’s the weather...my mood, that is.”

 

“Yuuri, I think you’re ignoring the obvious.”

 

“Maybe it’s not so obvious if it’s so easily ignored,” Yuuri huffed.

 

Katya rolled her eyes as she sprawled back in the chair.  “It’s okay, you know...to be in love even if you aren’t ready to admit it.”

 

Yuuri fussed in the chair, suddenly nothing was comfortable and all scents were too much.  “It was supposed to be a job...a place to find my feet again. I’ve never had the chance to be independent.”

 

Katya stilled, catching his eyes.  “Does Vitya prevent you from being independent?”

 

Yuuri slowly shook his head no.  He knew Victor cared. Love, he wasn’t so sure...but care, he was certain.  “I have nothing to compare this to...I’ve never...been in love.” He trailed off into a whisper, the word too scary to say out loud.  “Victor is cautious about safety, but he would never try to stop me from growing. Not like Shuji…”

 

Katya watched silently as Yuuri trailed off, she could see from his expression that a nasty memory passed through his mind.  “Have you ever considered...reporting him?” Katya began carefully. “Shuji, that is?

 

“Reporting him?” Yuuri asked, blinking.  Then his eyes widened with understanding.  “Umm...what good would it do? The laws favor the alpha.”

 

“Maybe in Japan...not everywhere.”  Katya picked at her sandwich, hoping not to upset Yuuri with her following suggestion, “...not if he...kidnapped someone.”

 

Yuuri stilled as her words washed over him and didn’t realize his hands were shaking until Katya began removing the cup from them.  Turning, his eyes wide, he asked, “Was someone kidnapped?”

 

Yuuri, he practically kidnapped you. She sighed, realizing then that Yuuri probably didn’t keep up with the news.  Nodding, she reached for her phone, changed some settings and then found the news article she was seeking.  Handing Yuuri the phone, she murmured, “He’s a Japanese-American boy...around eighteen. A skater. Disappeared while at the NHK.”

 

Yuuri visibly flinched at the mention of the Japanese entrance of the Grand Prix circuit.   That’s Shuji’s main event.   He took in that information and quickly did some math in his head.  “That’s...when he moved me to the other place.”

 

Katya didn’t want to upset Yuuri further but had to ask.  “Could he have...taken this boy?”

 

Yuuri nodded hesitantly.  “He said I’d been replaced, that was his exact word.  Replaced .  I thought it was someone like me...someone that didn’t stand a chance.  If he’s American, they can get him away from there?”

 

Katya took his hands and held them securely in hers.  “If he’s been kidnapped, they can definitely get him away.”

 

Yuuri drew in a ragged breath, trying to pull free before giving into her hold.  He surrendered into a hug while he sobbed, feeling her arms wrap around him. Finally, he stilled, his head resting on her shoulder.  A couple of teens walked by and saw them together. Yuuri saw their concerned looks, but didn’t understand their whispered words. However, Katya heard them say, “That’s coach’s omega.”  Smiling she’d remember to give Victor a heads up later that gossip was spreading about them. For now, her focus was on Yuuri.

 

Finally pulling back, he sat up, taking measured breaths as he considered her words.  “I should have said something. He said...I’d been replaced. All I saw was my freedom.”

 

Katya heard the blame coming into his voice and was quick to cut it off immediately, “Yuuri, you’d been trapped by him for so long...of course that’s all you saw.”

 

“No, you don’t understand.  I knew he had someone.  I was just...glad to be free.”  He was edging close to hysterical in his self incrimination.  “I’m a horrible person. I let someone walk into that hell so I could escape.”  His breathing started pitching again along with his hysteria.

 

Katya dropped to her knees in front of his chair.  “Yuuri...Yuuri...you need to calm down.” She cupped his face and forced his eyes to meet her.  “Breathe.”

 

Yuuri nodded, forcing his breaths in order, listening.  

 

“Will you talk to someone?”

 

Yuuri blinked and then looked up and asked, “Who?”

 

“Coach Feltsman...his wife Lilia.  Either would work.” She saw the confusion on his face and supplied the information.  “They would know what to do...and they would make sure you’re safe. Victor is very important to both of them.”

 

Yuuri scratched at his hair.  Yakov was scary...but not in a threatening manner.  He still held a lot of authority. That’s what Yuuri needed.  Lilia...she reminded him of Minako. She was fierce and protective.  He’d be safe with her. He slowly nodded. “I...can talk to them.”

Chapter Text


Ch. 22:   The best of friends…

 

Phichit frowned as he looked at his phone.  He had felt his phone vibrate twice during the Skype meeting with the designers for the latest game his company was putting out.  As soon as the conference ended he knew immediately he had to check. His Yuuri sense was tingling. Dammit, two missed calls from Yuuri.  This can’t be good .  He quickly returned the call and within moments, Yuuri answered, a whine in the back of his throat as he breathed a heavy greeting.  Phichit felt his eyes water, cursing himself for not being able to answer right away. “Yuuri, are you okay?”

 

“Y-yes?”  The voice was small and high pitched, a sure sign his friend was nearing panic.

 

Phichit listened to the erratic breathing and the fear in Yuuri’s voice.  He knew where his friend was emotionally and needed to get Yuuri’s rational side more active.  “That’s a question. Are you not sure?”

 

Down the line the omega was struggling to put his thoughts together.  “I-I don’t know what to do...I think I messed up.”

 

Phichit closed his eyes, picturing Yuuri chewing on his lip in worry, working himself up into a panic.  “Okay, what is going on?” He kept his tone light, but also business like, encouraging his friend to approach this the same way.   Take inventory Yuuri.

 

“I, ummm, well...someone disappeared...not right now but...back when I was let go.”  The words tumbled out in a jumbled mess but Phichit could follow his friend easily. “I think...do you think Shuji is capable of kidnapping?”

 

Phichit’s heart dropped at the first sentences.  He pulled the phone away from his mouth quickly, putting a hand over his lips to stifle the sob that threatened to bubble up.   By the laws of the rest of the world, he kidnapped you, Yuuri , the Thai man thought to himself.  He regained control and answered, “It’s not an impossible thought.  Where is this coming from?”

 

Yuuri let out a shaky breath and continued, “Did you know there was a skater that disappeared about the same time he let me go?”

 

Phichit frowned as he thought about it.  “Chris said something about it but I was busy getting you to a safe place.  So I didn’t really focus on it.” Phichit thought more of what his boyfriend had said when a detail struck him.  “No wait, he couldn’t be...that skater was an American. Shuji has a type.”

 

“He was a Japanese -American, Peach!”  Yuuri’s voice was a whispered screech.

 

Phichit felt himself blanche as the blood rushed from his head.   Oh god.  He was typing the search into his computer and scanning the headlines as he talked to Yuuri.  Opening the article, the photo revealed a Japanese boy wearing glasses and a very serious expression.   Shit!  He already had his email up and was searching flights.  Keeping his voice steady, he told Yuuri, “Yuuri, you’re going to have to talk to someone.”

 

“I know!”  Yuuri’s voice pitched higher in his panic and Phichit needed to calm him down, now.

 

“Okay, I’m...booking a flight right now.”  There was no getting around this, his friend desperately needed him...and truthfully, Phichit needed to hold his friend as well...if only to assure himself that the man was still safe in Russia.

 

Yuuri’s sobs had broken on the other end, “Phichit!  No…you can’t just pick up every time...”

 

“Yuuri, who was with you during most of this?” Phichit reminded him, refocusing his friend’s thoughts.

 

The young omega shook as he tried to hold himself together, “You…but...”

 

“Yuuri, this is distressing news, but it’s going to get very complicated quickly.  Do you think I’m going to leave you to sort through this now?” he continued to assure Yuuri.

 

There was a pause as he listened to Yuuri’s breathing even out.  “N-no…”

 

Phichit knew he couldn’t be with his friend immediately, and Yuuri’s distress demanded help at the moment.  He began considering where Yuuri could get help and asked, “Where’s Victor?”

 

“He’s...out of town.”  Yuuri’s voice betrayed his sorrow at the loss of the older man.  “He has two distant competitions back to back.”

 

Phichit cursed himself again for forgetting.  Mentally he began running through people he could call on as he considered his friend.   Who will make you feel safe?   “That’s right, he’s working Skate America and Skate Canada.  I remember you telling me now. Okay, don’t argue with me. I’m coming.  I’ll be there...it looks like it will be late tomorrow.”

 

“Do I wait?”  The Japanese omega sounded lost on the other end.

 

Phichit took a deep breath and let it out slowly.   It’s time to come clean entirely.   “I’m contacting Chris.  He’ll be with you by tomorrow.”

 

Yuuri’s voice became erratic.  “But...I can’t have you both buying plane tickets!”

 

Phichit sighed, “Oh, honey...Chris is already there.  In Russia.” He heard a sharp intake of breath on the other end.  “I...we owe you an explanation. We’ll sort it all out...but if you talk to someone, I want him by your side.  Especially if Victor is not able to be.”

 

Yuuri paused, Phichit could hear him working out all the pieces, “But…”

 

Phichit was quick to cut off the last of the argument, “Yuuri, he’s a good alpha.  You know this. He’ll look after you.”

 

He could almost see his friend’s head nod.  “Chris is safe.”

 

Phichit smiled, thinking of the praise his friend just bestowed on his alpha, “Yes, he’s safe.  He’ll protect you. Just wait for him. Okay?”

 

Yuuri took a deep breath and let it out.  “I’ll wait.”

 

As soon as the call disconnected, he turned around and called his mate.  “Hi, love...what do you say about a surprise visit from yours truly?” He had pulled his suitcase out of the closet and watch banging around draws pulling out clothing for the next few days.

 

A warm chuckle came down the line.  “Always...when can I expect you?”

 

“Tomorrow...I’m emailing you my itinerary.”  Phichit had been distracted pulling his passport out and hoped his alpha wouldn’t catch the urgency in his voice.

 

It failed.  Across the miles, Chris sat upright.  “What’s going on?”

 

Deflated, Phichit sat on the edge of his bed, facing into the closet “Yuuri has made a possible connection...and I think you were trying to tell me about it but I wasn’t really listening.  I had my Yuuri blinders on.”

 

Chris’ voice was a soft murmur down the line, “The American.”

 

“God, yes!” Phichit breathed, realizing that his mate was already ahead of him on this.  “Yuuri found out, he’s pretty sure the boy was taken by Shuji and he wants to come forward.  But Victor’s out of town. And I need you to go check on him tomorrow, to be with him when he goes to talk to the powers that be.”  He looked down at the sweater he had pulled from a drawer. It was one that Chris had left behind on his last visit. Phichit smiled, “Can you do this for me?”

 

The Alpha  was already up and looking at his schedule as he began looking through his appointments on Wednesday.  “I...have no court commitments. Only one major contract. Everything else can be postponed. And it looks like the rest of my week is equally flexible.  I’ll contact Marina and have her start rearranging things.”

 

Phichit smiled into the phone, then began moving about his room, pulling together all that he would need to hop on a flight tomorrow.  “Good...Yuuri knows to wait for you before talking with anyone.”

 

“Oh, thank you.”  Chris laid the phone on the bed, opening his laptop to begin typing out a set of notes to his assistant.  Pausing, “Does Victor know?”

 

Phichit smirked, “If he did, he’d be the one calling you.”   And probably from his flight home to Yuuri.

 

“Fair point.”

 

“Oh, and honey?”

 

Chris smiled into the phone, trading one loving nickname for another, “ Oui , mon cher .”

 

Phichit stilled at the endearment.   Even in all this I love you so much.  “I’ll see you soon.  I’m clearing the rest of the week as well...god, I miss you.”

 

Chris closed his eyes, imagining the beautiful man before him.  “I miss you, too.”

 





Yuuri wandered around the house, nervous energy keeping him from settling in one place long.  Olga could see something was bothering the young man and kept casting worried glances in his direction.  Less perceptive but just as concerned, Nikolai asked if Yuuri needed to go somewhere. Yuuri smiled his thanks to Nikolai and tried to avoid Olga’s searching eye.  He loved both of these people but they couldn’t help him with this. He should have told Victor when he called to check on Yura and talk with his son. Instead, Yuuri was restless and passed the phone off to the boy after answering Victor’s questions.

 

Yura was great, it was Yuuri that was falling apart.  The boy prattled into the phone telling his father of all the inconsequential bits of news from school and the house that Victor had missed.  Yuuri used that as a chance to walk the length of the house unobserved, only to find himself at Victor’s bedroom door more than once. Each time he would shake his head, only to walk away.   This won’t fix anything .  He was pulled from his thoughts as the doorbell rang and Yuuri opened it to Chris.  Before a word was traded between the two, Yuuri ran into his arms and hugged him, Chris picking up quickly on the distress and trembles of the omega.

 

“It’s okay, Yuuri.  I’ve got you.” He looked into the house, the eyes of the housekeeper catching his hazel.  She gestured to the a room beyond the kitchen, inviting him in. “Let’s get you into the living room and sit down so we can talk and decide what you want to do.”

 

“You talk to Phichit?”  The question wasn’t as careful as Yuuri normally was with his grammar and Chris knew that he was still operating somewhere in the range of panic.

 

“Yes,” he assured the omega.

 

Yuuri could feel all of his nervous ticks exposing themselves but was helpless to stop them.  He scratched his arms and tugged at his hair, nails digging into his hairline. His feet were actually frozen in place and it took Chris guiding him into the other room to get Yuuri moving again.

 

The living room was empty and far from the ears of others.  The two men moved to the couch. Facing Yuuri, Chris invited the omega with a gentle command.  “Talk to me, Yuuri. You are officially my client and anything you say is confidential.”

 

Yuuri drew in a deep breath and then a second, hearing the slightly panicked wheeze.  Chris moved closer and gently began moving his hand up and down Yuuri’s back, something he’d seen his mate do to the omega.  The alpha could see the omega was in distress, but there was something more than just anxiety. Chris moved closer, only by an inch, and could pick up the scent beginning to escape from the younger man’s pours.   Separation anxiety and abandonment.  He’s pining for Victor.  If the circumstances were different Chris would have been overjoyed that his friends were so attached so soon.  However, as they were there was nothing wonderful about the distress the little body was experiencing. He hoped he wasn’t confusing Yuuri’s instincts so close to his heat but all he felt from Yuuri was familial.

 

Yuuri’s breathing steadied and calmed as Chris slowly rubbed the small of his back.  Taking a deep breath in, he began slowly, “You know about Shuji and me...I’m sure Phichit kept you informed.”  Brown eyes glanced over waiting to see verification from the hazel. “But...when I left, he said I’d been replaced .  I didn’t think about it.  I couldn’t. I just needed out of there.”

 

“And now you’re free, the bond annulled.”  Chris supplied.

 

Yuuri looked down at his hands, picking at the hem of his sleeve.  “But...what about the one that replaced me?”

 

Chris moved his hand to Yuuri’s shoulder, stilling there but remaining to help Yuuri feel grounded.  “Phichit suggested that it might be the Japanese-American skater that disappeared...and I have to admit that I have been wondering the same thing.”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “Do you think...he’d kidnap someone?”

 

“An alpha, especially a mature alpha, unfortunately has a whole arsenal, legal and illegal, at their disposal that would allow them to take advantage of a younger omega.  It takes a while to build an immunity to some of those tricks.”

 

Yuuri nodded, understanding fully.  “And he could have just forced a bond on him.”

 

Chris took a deep breath and let it out before nodding.  “I’m afraid so...even if he’s bonded to you, he could have had a secondary.  Your bond wasn’t a closed bond, a mating bond, Yuuri. What he put on you is what is known in some less civilized alpha circles as a slave bond.”  He saw a small shudder rip through Yuuri’s body. “For some couples, that’s what they prefer. Especially if they want the closeness of a bond while still being able to enjoy other partners.  However, it can also be one that allows the alpha to continue to prowl while he has an omega locked up at home.”

 

Yuuri shrunk in on himself, “I knew...something was different about it.”   That’s what it felt like at least.  “But Japanese government views them all the same.”

 

“Unfortunately, that’s right.  The mistake he made here... if he took this kid...is crossing international lines.  He’s subject to other laws.”

 

The omega paused, collecting his thoughts.  Slowly he turned two large eyes to Chris, “So...you think I should come forward.  It would help this boy?”

 

Chris nodded slowly.  “It might help him, and it will help you, too.  But I want to be with you while they question you.   Victor would want me to be with you.”

 

Yuuri looked up at him as he considered his next question but finally decided to move forward.  “You’re Victor’s attorney, aren’t you?”

 

Chris sighed in resignation before agreeing.  “Yes...he was one of my first clients.”

 

“You and Phichit worked to get me here?”  Yuuri’s voice was firm, but not hard. He was piecing together the puzzle of the last few months and Phichit’s influence while he was job searching.  The ad that just seemed to pop out of nowhere, Phichit’s insistence that he apply.

 

“We wanted you someplace safe.”  Chris removed his hand, sensing that the young man was past his emergency.  “And...I saw a need in Victor I thought you could meet.”

 

“Yura,” the omega whispered.

 

Not exactly, but I’ll let that lie.  Chris nodded and smiled lazily.  “The little mite is a challenge to most...but I suspected that you would be good for him.”

 

Yuuri smiled slyly, “You’ve never seen me with kids.”

 

“Actually, that’s not true.”  Chris chuckled, he wouldn’t have to lie to cover his tracks here.  “One of the times Phichit sneaked you out, we went to the skating rink.  There was a kid that became lost and stuck in the middle of the ice. Not only did you help them get to the edge, but you calmed them until their mother could be located.  That’s when I noticed...a lot of the kids skating there settled down around you. Mothers felt easy seeing you interact with their children, and you were clearly competent and warm towards them.  A natural. Their energy doesn’t seem to tug on you.”

 

Yuuri seemed to accept this and moved on.  “Does Victor know?”

 

“He knows I knew you...that played a role in my recommending you.”  Chris smiled at his seemingly absent-minded friend. Victor could walk into glass door while reciting poetry in his head.  Brilliant fool. “He also probably suspects the rest.”

 

Yuuri smiled and turned to Chris, “I...I like him, you know.”

 

Chris nodded.   He would know...dating Phichit.  No point denying it .  “I think he might like you as well.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself as he considered his next move.  “Will this...testimony...will it push him away?”

 

Chris shook his head and patted Yuuri’s shoulder again, “If anything, it will probably draw him closer.  He’s very protective of his family.”

 

Yuuri had seen that.  He closed his eyes as he organized his thoughts before asking, “Will you go with me to talk to Yakov and Lilia?  I think...that’s where I need to start.”

 

“That’s a great place to start...but I think you should tell Victor first.”  It wasn’t that Victor hadn’t guessed most of this...but Yuuri needed to reach out to his...mate?

 

Yuuri took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “It’s...hard…”

 

Chris shifted to face Yuuri, “Would you like me to stay for that call?”

 

Yuuri didn’t know.  “I’m...not scared of Victor.  I think...I’ll talk to him tonight when he calls to check on Yura.  Do you think it will be okay to wait until tomorrow to talk to Yakov?  I think...I want Phichit here as well.”

 

Chris’ voice was firm, “We will do this however you want to do this, Yuuri.  You are setting the pace and you are in control of who will know what.”

 

The omega took a deep breath and let it out...there was so much to say...so much of it was ugly.  He reached for his phone and sent a text to Victor. He decided he wanted to get this over with.

 




Victor watched his skaters as they practiced.  Next to him stood the Japanese coach Yamamoto Akane, her eagle eyes following her own skaters.  He admired her vigilance and was about to crack a joke when he caught the expression on her face.  She was clearly agitated and failed to suppress a hiss. Startled, he followed her eyes once he realized it wasn’t aimed towards him.  The omega coach’s eyes rested on a Japanese ISU official walking on an opposite side of the practice rink. Through the wave of rapidly moving bodies Victor could make out a form.  After a couple of blinks, he grumbled in a dangerously low voice, “Shuji.”

 

“Keep that asshat away from your skaters,” Coach Yamamoto warned.  She waved her skaters to her, making a signal for two cool down laps.  They stopped, confused but obediently followed orders.

 

Victor waited until he knew the skaters were far from earshot before asking in a low voice, “What do you know?”

 

Her eyes went back to the official, watching as he glad handed a few other officials, then made his way to the barrier, watching the skaters.  Sucking at her teeth in disgust, “When I was skating, my coach told me of another skater that had been messed with.” She narrowed her eyes, calling the name into memory.  “Katsuki. Had a lot of promise. But then the skater was suddenly bonded to Kobayashi Shuji...and not the traditional way.  Then the rumors started to spread that the official got the skater by himself and forced the bond.”

 

Victor barely suppressed the growl.  “Why is he still with the ISU?”

 

“No official report was filed.  Can’t fire him on hearsay.” She watched as the figure in question waved at a skater, who pretended not to see.  The man turned and left the rink. Victor could see the woman visibly relax. She turned her attention to him, “But those of us in Japan know to keep our skaters, particularly our male omega skaters, away from him.”

 

Victor closed his eyes at the confirmation of so many of his thoughts.  “That American…”

 

Her skaters approached and she pointed at the barrier, turning to leave him.  “We all suspect him...but we can’t do anything about it. We just watch...and guard our skaters.”  She picked the guards up, pointing them at the door the slime had left by. “My mate...he’s nearby...and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn he’s tracking that waste of air.”

 

Victor suddenly wished Brian Orser were here.   He’d know what to do.  He’s Canadian Yakov.  Turning his eyes, he watched Yamamoto attend to her skaters, both confused at being pulled from the ice soon but satisfied with her explanation.  The buzz of his phone broke his concentration on them, the words still processing as he looked down at the messages.

 

YuuriK/ I need to talk to you

 

YuuriK/ Not about Yura

 

Victor frowned at the odd contact from his omega.  Signaling Pyotr over, he murmured, “I need to call home.  Keep an eye on our boys and keep them away from Shuji Kobayashi.”

 

Pyotr’s eyes tracked where Victor was indicating and leaned in to whisper, “Is that the one that had your Yuuri?”

 

Victor winced.  Even those from work have noticed I’m courting the omega.   Nothing to be done now .  He nodded.  “I don’t know if he’s hunting.  I just know I don’t want him to mess with our boys...and if they’ve heard the rumors, I don’t want our boys to go after him .”

 

“Understood.”  Both men knew the Russian skaters would protect their own.

 

Finding a private alcove that would still give him eyes on the rink, he connected the call.  “Yuuri?”

 

The omega’s voice was small down the line, “I’m sorry...I didn’t mean to disturb you.  I know you’re busy.”

 

Victor warmed his voice, “Don’t worry about it...I have Pyotr here for a reason.”

 

“It’s just that...I didn’t realize.  Not until Katya told me and I started researching.  I think...Shuji grabbed that missing skater!”

 

Victor could hear the panic in the omega’s voice and wished he could be there, his instincts already needing to pull the omega into his scent.  “Yuuri…”

 

“No, let me finish,” Yuuri cut him off in a rush.  “Right when...he sent me away, he told me I had been replaced.  Those were his exact words, you’ve been replaced.   That was just days after the other skater disappeared.”  Yuuri paused, forcing himself to breath more normally. “I need to tell someone...but Chris, he said I should call you first.”

 

Victor sucked in a deep breath, realizing Yuuri had been dealing with this long enough to bring in a third party.  “You’ve talked to Chris?” He couldn’t help the small wave of jealousy that his friend, an alpha, was there to help Yuuri when he was separated more than half a world away.

 

“Phichit sent him over to make sure I’m okay and to advise me.  There’s a lot going on...and Phichit is coming here.” Yuuri’s voice broke, a small sob escaping.  “I’m scared.”

 

Victor shook his head glad that he had eyes on the piece of shit.  “Don’t be, Yuuri. I can see him from here. Shuji is in America.”

 

A small gasp on the other end let Victor know Yuuri hadn’t suspected that much.  “You know who he is?”

 

Victor didn’t point out the number of slips Yuuri had made over the last weeks.  Instead, he answered, “Another coach pointed him out, warning me against him.”

 

“Oh, shit!  Sorry...ummm, what should I do?”  Victor could see him in his mind’s eye tugging at his hear and his sleeves, chewing his lip nervously.

 

Victor focused on keeping his voice as calm as possible.  “Talk to Yakov. He’ll take care of you. And take Chris with you...especially if he makes you feel safe.”  It irked Victor a little, bruised his alpha some, that Chris was there for Yuuri when he wasn’t, that Yuuri turned to Chris first.

Although, technically he didn’t.  Victor had to remind himself that Yuuri had actually reached out to another omega.  Phichit. His best friend that had probably been there for him through all of this.

 

Yuuri’s breath slowed a little as he considered those words.  “He does...he always has. Like...family.”

 

Victor’s tension melted slightly at the word family.  That eased the jealousy a little.  He trusted Chris. He needed to calm his omega.  “He will watch over you until I get home. I trust him like a brother.  I’ll be keeping an eye on things here, okay?”

 

“Okay...what about Yura?”

 

Victor considered his son.  Is he in danger?  He knew that was the omega’s concern.  “What do your instincts tell you?”

 

Yuuri was quiet for a moment and Victor knew he was working past his panic and filtering the conflicting information coming from his body.  “I think...he’s safe for now. He’s happy, and doesn’t suspect anything is wrong.”

 

“And most don’t know you’re with me.  So trust the people I’ve put in place around you.”

 

“I will...thank you.”  Yuuri’s voice was growing small again, almost childlike.  “I’m sorry.”

 

“You’ve nothing to be sorry for, solnyshko .”  He could hear Yuuri’s breathing even out as he calmed.   Good .  He’ll talk with him some more during his call later.  “Just take care of you...and I know you’ll continue to take good care of our Yura.”  Disconnecting his call, he narrowed his eyes on Shuji. At this point, he noted a Japanese man not too far from the man keeping a close eye on him.  He suspected it was the Japanese coach’s mate but could see a few others keeping their eye on him. Looking around the rink, he watched many skaters and coaches closing ranks, girls in the senior division suddenly skating to those in juniors and bringing them to their shared coaches.  Haruko Okamoto stood at the barrier, next to her Miyahara, both with their heads low and together. He could easily see the skater and coach clearly discussing Shuji as dark eyes flashed his way. So many suspect you and nothing can be done.  Hopefully my brave Yuuri can change that.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 23:  His great love...

 

TW:  Yuuri is going over the details of his time with Shuji.  There will be brief mentions of noncon/rape.

 

Phichit had arrived the following day and after a quick cry on both omegas part they agree to head to the rink.  The Thai man declared that what was worth doing was worth being prompt. Yuuri shakily agreed and they were in Phichit’s sedan soon.  The Thai drove carefully, mindful of his friend’s nerves and watching for any signs of Yuuri Stress.

 

The rink was relatively quiet with the main team out at competitions and training camps so they were able to glide through toward the offices without having to stop and chat with anyone.  Phichit ran his hand up and down Yuuri’s back. “It’s okay...Coach Feltsman is hard on his skaters because he cares. It will be the same for you.”

 

“I’m not scared of Yakov,” Yuuri answered with a shake of the head.  “I’m scared...that this is all going to unravel and I’ll be left...just Yuuri.  Or that Shuji will change his mind and force me to return with him. Or that Shuji will figure out I told...and then come after me just to hurt me.  I replay every scenario. And then I’m scared Shuji will hurt Victor, hurt Yura…” Yuuri gulped back a quick intake of breath. “I’m scared Shuji will take everyone away like he always has before.”

 

“He can’t get to you.  Not with you here in Russia, with Victor.”

 

Yuuri nodded, understanding.  Yuuri wanted to believe that but he knew Victor couldn’t protect him all the time.  Even now, Victor was an ocean away. And he didn’t want to need that protection. He wanted independence, freedom, life.  But there was more than his own fears, something deeper prompted him to risk everything. “I’m scared to lose what I’ve gained.  But most of all, I’m scared he’ll make someone else feel like this.”

 

Phichit smiled at his friend.   No matter what that monster did to you, he couldn’t take the determination and strength that you’ve always carried.  “Yuuri,” he began with quiet reassurance.  “Do this for you and the other one.”

 

Chris stood nearby waiting in the small conference room.  It was no frills, just a small room and a table that could comfortably sit eight.  The trio sat for a few moments with Phichit gently reminding his friend that he would be okay and Chris quietly watching the omega for any signs of panic.  Finally, Yakov came into the room and with him, Lilia and two officials. Lilia walked directly to Yuuri and gave his shoulder a squeeze as she made her way to her seat.  There was something reassuring about her touch, like she was lending him her steel. He felt himself straighten, his posture setting in as many years of ballet taught him.

 

Yakov opened the conversation.  “Yuuri, I’m sorry if the appearance of these two officials surprised you, but I didn’t want you to have to repeat your story any more times than necessary.  This is Cameron James with Interpol. I know he will have a number of questions that go beyond ours. And then we have Carlotta Frederick with the ISU. Let’s begin.”

 

Yuuri’s eyes searched each person’s face, eyes all resting on him.  He started to feel himself cave but then Chris gave his leg a squeeze.  Yuuri glanced his way, a silent thank you. Turning back to the others, he asked, “So...do I just start?”

 

“We don’t want to unnecessarily influence your story, Mr. Katsuki,” the Interpol officer began.  “If you could give us an accounting, then we can determine our questions after. I will be recording this session.”

 

“As will I,” echoed Carlotta Frederick.

 

“Oh, umm, okay.”  Yuuri closed his eyes and took a deep breath before he started his story.  “I don’t know what’s relevant so I guess I’ll tell you from the beginning. I...was fourteen when I presented.  It was a junior competition and I felt myself getting sick, so I excused myself from the group. I found the nearest bathroom and...well, I figured out what was happening.”  He stopped, blushing at the memory of presenting at the worst possible moment, then frowned realizing it was the moment after which was worse. “After that, when I couldn’t locate my coach, I started having a panic attack.  An ISU official was nearby, he offered to take me to a safe place and promised me help. At the time I didn’t think anything of it. I thought...he was safe. He worked for the ISU. So I followed him. It never dawned on me that it was weird he would just be there, right outside the bathroom door, like he was waiting.”  Yuuri shifted in his chair, forcing himself to clear his throat and refocus. “Then, he stepped up behind me. I didn’t like it...he was showering me with pheromones and it felt...personal. I started to struggle and he kept telling me to calm down, calm down, he was trying to help me. But the pheromones were almost choking me, and I felt really dizzy.  I made myself breathe through it. I didn’t realize at first that he’d loosened my clothes. He said it was to make me breathe easier. That seemed reasonable as I was practically suffocating at that point. I began to relax. I closed my eyes. That’s when it happened. He forced the bond on me. Right here.” Yuuri indicated his shoulder.

 

Across the table Carlotta thinned her lips.  Cameron gasped and shot a glance at her. She saw the confusion in his eyes and quietly muttered “slave bond.”  Lilia coughed loudly and shot her hawk eyes over to them, hushing them like naughty children.

 

“Yuuri continue.”  She bowed her head, as if giving the prima the barre.

 

Yuuri took a deep breath and let it out, reordering his thoughts.  “I didn’t know what to do. He said...I wouldn’t be able to skate if I said anything.  There were a number of other threats. My ISU license, the grants from the government, even Celestino’s coaching license...I think he knew something about my coach’s past.  I was terrified. He made it...seem like my fault, or at least that everyone would view it as such.” Yuuri spread his hands open in front of him. “So...I didn’t talk. I said nothing for the next three years.  Pretending it didn’t happen, but living with a countdown clock on my shoulder. Every time I saw Shuji at a competition, he’d remind me of our talk.”

 

“Everybody could see something was wrong, but no one could figure it out, and I wasn’t about to let them pry it out of me.  He had made me so ashamed of what happened.” Yuuri paused, remembering the pain of when it finally did all come crashing to the surface.  “When I was seventeen, my sister caught me changing and saw the mark. She freaked out and I was scared because I wasn’t supposed to say anything.  Then my parents found out and they tried to deal with it but the cops weren’t interested, and attorneys we tried to hire said there was nothing they could do.  At this point, it was my word against an alpha’s...and the courts always take the alpha’s word. So, at eighteen he just showed up at the inn, gave me one duffle bag to fill up with my belongings, watched as I kissed my entire family goodbye, and that was it.  I was forced to go live with him.”

 

“He kept me captive for the next ten years, mostly at our different homes, rarely was I allowed out in public.  I was isolated from my family, friends. Except when I was able to sneak away. I rarely was allowed to see family.  He controlled what I ate, what I did, how I communicated.” Yuuri broke through the pain to remember his friend, softly crying at his side.  He reached out for Phichit’s hand and grasped it. “Phichit kept smuggling me phones but when he found them, he’d take them away and break them.  And then one day last winter...late February, or maybe early March...he told me I’d been replaced, handed me that same duffle bag, and put me out on the streets with annulment papers.”

 

He grew quiet and watched them writing notes.  Carlotta sighed, her lips thin as she typed a few things into her laptop.  Finally, she looked up at him, her horned glasses moving down her nose as she spoke.  “I’m very sorry this happened to you and deeply regret that an ISU official put you in this position.  Given your age at the time of the assault, we are greatly disturbed that this man is still with us. I’m recommending immediate suspension pending investigation.  Would we be able to count on you for a hearing?”

 

Yuuri turned to look at Chris who leaned in and whispered, “I’ll join you, if you agree, as your attorney.”

 

Yuuri nodded and turned back to Carlotta.  “I would speak if...Victor and Chris can both be with me.  I don’t trust Shuji and feel I need their support to go through this.”

 

“Of course.  That won’t be a problem.”  Turning to Lieutenant James, she added, “If this turns out to warrant an arrest, then of course the suspension would be moot.  However, I need to ensure the safety of the rest of our skaters. I hope this doesn’t hinder your investigation.”

 

James shook his head.  “Don’t worry...I’ve got some ideas.  And I’m talking with Japanese officials with regard to this missing person.”  Turning back to Yuuri, he asked, “Why do you think it’s Tanaka?”

 

Yuuri blinked, “The timing is right.  Tanaka disappeared when Shuji moved me out of our previous residence.  In the new place, I wasn’t roomed close to him.” Yuuri stopped, noting the confusion on their faces.  “He never...kept me with him for sleeping. But I was usually next door. In the new house I was put into a small, windowless room off the kitchen.  I think it was for a maid. He was building distance. He was more secretive than ever.”

 

“How many times did you move?”

 

Yuuri looked up to the ceiling as he thought about it.  “Five...no, six!” He turned to Phichit for confirmation.  The Thai man nodded in agreement. “Forgive me, this is Phichit and he was my lifeline through all of this.”

 

Phichit offered a perfunctory smile.  “I have all of the addresses if that would help.”  He then pulled his phone out and opened his Yuuri file.  Turning it to the officer, the other man skimmed the pages.

 

“You also logged your observations over the years?”

 

Phichit nodded.  “Yuuri had no one to fight for him...and I’d committed myself to being his friend.  So yes. And it will give you dates. I didn’t meet him until after Shuji...well...so I don’t have the initial report, but you can see there is consistency in his story.  I’d be happy to share it with you if it will help you catch this rat-bastard.” Then he frowned before adding, “I shouldn’t include him in the same category with rodents. My hamsters will not be pleased.”

 

James’ lips jerked into a smile before returning to business.  “A copy would be helpful.” He passed a business card Phichit’s direction.  Turning back to Yuuri, he asked, “Has he ever indicated that there have been others?”

 

Yuuri narrowed his brows as he thought back.   I never considered that I wasn’t the first, but I couldn’t have been.   “Not...at the same time as me, but maybe before.  He had a room set up for me, but nothing was new, it was like someone had just moved out.  I think there was someone before me.  They didn’t stay as long.  I think they were the first.  He needs someone he can control, someone to intimidate.  He prefers mental games to physical. He rarely harmed me physically.  Well, what happened in bed…” Yuuri’s face went scarlet as he glanced towards Yakov and Lilia.  They maintained inscrutable expressions. And Yuuri liked that they were there. He was surrounded by people standing in for Victor.  “He used fear and would set up little tests to see if I caught on...and fixed it.”

 

“What was the earliest date he raped you?”  James did mean for the question to come out blunt, but as Yuuri had mentioned the abuse he would have to make it part of the report.

 

Yuuri blinked at that phrase.   Rape?  Was it rape?   He turned and looked questioning at both Chris and Phichit and they both nodded.  “I didn’t realize...i-it was rape? I mean, we were bonded.”

 

James softened his approach, seeing that Yuuri was still coming to terms with what he had gone through during his captivity.  “By your own testimony, that bond was non-consensual. Do you feel you consented to sex with this man?”

 

How many times did I beg for him to stop?  That first night even more so. In a whisper, he said, “No, I never consented.”  He closed his eyes and thought back. “That first night...I was eighteen.  It was a few weeks after my birthday. I remember I had to finish high school online.  He wouldn’t wait for me to graduate. I still skated until I became pregnant. Then he used that to make me stop.”

 

Yuuri opened his eyes and focused in on the investigator.  “He said he hated the idea of breaking in a child, he had to wait until I was old enough to do what was necessary.  So he held back until I turned eighteen. It wouldn’t surprise me if he held onto his previous omega until he had me in hand...but I couldn’t testify to that.”

 

James consulted his notes and grimaced, “Tanaka turns eighteen in three weeks.  In your opinion...will he have assaulted this kid?”

 

Yuuri felt something lighten in his chest, like hope blooming that they might be able to spare this child the horrors he had endured.  “Oh...I thought he was eighteen already. I...think if he has him, he would...well, I guess the best way to word it is that he’d fuck with his head.  But...if you find him before he turns eighteen, you might be able to get him out before he’s r-raped.” Yuuri glanced over at Chris who wrapped an arm around his shoulder and ran an encouraging hand up and down his back.  Refocusing on the investigator, he added, “I don’t know if any of this would help. I just put everything together. He may not even be the right guy. But I knew if I said nothing…”

 

“Of course, and we appreciate you coming forward.  Unfortunately, we can’t address his past crimes because they weren’t in our territory.  However, you may have given us valuable information towards the current case. Do you mind if I leave you my card in case you think of anything else?”

 

“Sure...and if you have more questions…”  Yuuri glanced at Chris before saying, “Call my attorney to set up a meeting.”

 

On cue, Chris reached into his wallet and pulled out a business card.  “I will continue to represent Yuuri Katsuki’s interests in this matter, both with the ISU hearings and regarding the case with Interpol.”

 

They all shook hands and then the officials left.  Yuuri released a large breath of air before looking at the others.  “Did I do okay?”

 

Lilia offered a rare smile.  “You did amazingly well. That was very brave.”

 

“I knew...I’d regret it.  I would have said something sooner if I’d known.  I just...didn’t know. Maybe I wasn’t ready to see it.  I knew...if they were like me, a Japanese citizen, there was nothing that could be done.”  Yuuri didn’t realize he’d been wringing his hands until Phichit took his hands and began rubbing them to gently relax them.  Yuuri looked up to the other two and asked, “Are you going to tell Victor?”

 

Yakov and Lilia exchanged looks and the old coach finally asked, “How much have you told him already?”

 

Yuuri considered the different conversations and slips of information.  “I think...he knows a lot of it already. Maybe not the details, which is...I guess...it’s okay.  I don’t think I want to go over it again if I can avoid it. Dr. Abramovich is helping me work through it with therapy but that’s in...small bites.  And I don’t have to rehash it all with him.”

 

“We’ll do as you wish, Yuura,” Lilia assured him.

 

Yuuri blinked in surprise at the change in his name, the difference in the U pronunciation giving it a slight differentiation from the boy he took care of.  He saw it for what it was...kindness and affection...as when they called Victor Vitya or Georgi Gosha .  He was sure there were many others.  He nodded, taking a shaky breath in then letting it out.  “I think...I’m okay if it’s discussed with Victor but I don’t want it to be general rink gossip.”

 

Lilia’s eyes widened and she responded, “Of course not.  If I even hear part of it has slipped out, I’ll shut it down.”

 

Yuuri blushed, his eyes going to the hands that now rested in his lap.  “I think...I knew that. I just...wanted to be clear.”

 

“We understand,” Yakov assured him.  “Now, take the rest of the day off. It’s been a long morning.”

 


 

As they left, Yuuri was thankful that Nikolai would be picking Yura up.  He wasn’t sure how long he’d be and didn’t want to leave the little boy waiting.  Leaning into Phichit, he murmured, “Can you come stay with me for the rest of the day?  I really need some Phichit time.”

 

His best friend’s face lit up.  “I’d love to! Chris, you don’t mind, do you?”

 

Chris smiled indulgently as he shook his head.  “I have some casework to catch up on anyway. What time do you serve dinner?  Still at six?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “Yes, please join us.  I’ll make sure Olga has plenty.”

 

Chris snorted and pointed out, “That lovely lady doesn’t know how to fix for a few but yes, please let her know.”

 

Chris walked them both to Phichit’s car with a promise to come later for dinner...and hopefully Phichit.  Yuuri ran up to the door and unlocked it to let them both in. “Olga?” He called out the name of one of his first friends in Russia.  

 

“Yes, Yuuri Toshiyavich,” came the answer from the kitchen.

 

Entering the room, he introduced Phichit.  “This is my friend, Phichit Chulanont.”

 

She focused on the younger omega, her eyes narrowing.  “Father’s name?”

 

“Oh, ummm, Punyaa?”

 

She grunted in acknowledgement.  “Phichit Punyaavich,” she determined.  “Are you staying for dinner?”

 

“Yes...and Chris is joining us, too,” Phichit agreed.

 

She looked from Phichit to Yuuri, her brow furrowed suspiciously.  “Victor Andreivich’s friend?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “It turns out our friends conspired to bring us together.”

 

She snorted in response.  “Figures. I don’t think there was anyone that could induce that boy out again.”  She then returned to her task. “I’ll have something heated up for lunch in half an hour.”

 

Yuuri led Phichit upstairs to his room.  The dark eyes of the Thai man took in the home that Yuuri had grown so used to in a short time.  He examined the beautiful artwork, the tasteful furniture, the beautiful little amenities tucked into corners that created a welcoming and restful atmosphere.  “So, this...Yuuri, you’ve landed the jackpot!”

 

“I don’t know what you mean,” the omega answered, the glance over his shoulder made Phichit wonder if he was being coy or not.

 

Phichit smiled, a curve of his lips thinking his friend was indeed being coy.  “This house is amazing.”

 

“It’s family...Victor inherited it or something like that.”  Yuuri brushed it off as if the home were inconsequential, but Phichit could tell it held memories and promises for his friend in these fine walls.

 

As they entered Yuuri’s room, the younger omega bounced around the space.  “This is adorable!”

 

Yuuri looked around and shrugged.  He didn’t have any particular feeling towards this room.  If he were honest with himself, he’d admit that he had a greater emotional connection in Victor’s space.  He felt he fit better in the softened masculinity of that room. “This was Yelena’s room. She liked to be close to Yura.”

 

Phichit, eversharp, narrowed his eyes on those words.  “Yelena didn’t sleep with her mate?”

 

Yuuri sat down on his bed and paused, catching himself.   No, I guess they didn’t.   “I...don’t really know the particulars.  It’s weird, really...I hear things like ‘they were the best of friends’ but never anything about being in love.  People around him say they were married for Yura’s sake, but never say much more. So I...don’t know. I can tell Victor cared about her, loved her even...but I’m not sure that it was...like his great love.”

 

Phichit raised his eyebrows in surprise...but that surprise wasn’t what Yuuri assumed.  “Yuuri...are you possibly vying for that position? Do you want to be.. .his great love ?”  He sunk down next to Yuuri on the comforter.

 

Yuuri’s eyes widened.  “Noooooo! I mean...that’s impossible.  I’m just...me. I think…” He closed his eyes and collected his scattered thoughts.  Of course Phichit would misconstrue his words.  “I just mean...people like Victor...you expect them to have that great love.”

 

Phichit blinked at his friend, then turned him around and walked him over to the vanity, seating him in front of the mirror.  “Do you remember that night Katya and I helped you get ready? Do you see yourself now? That man took the time to help you find that person again, help you rediscover yourself.  Men don’t go to that kind of trouble unless they care deeply…”

 

“I know he cares...I just don’t know...that he loves me...that he is in love with me…”  Yuuri turned away from the mirror squeezing his eyes shut before continuing softly, “that he can love me.”

 

“Oh, Yuuri...Victor thinks you’re amazing...like the rest of us.  And you know what else?”

 

Yuuri opened his eyes and looked at Phichit, tilting his head to one side.  “What?”

 

“You are also the kind of person that people expect to have a great love.  Your life was interrupted...it probably feels like everything is moving fast, especially after having it put on hold...but you are opening up, blossoming, and becoming the butterfly you were meant to be.”

 

Yuuri let Phichit turn him back towards the mirror.  “I’m plain.”

 

Phichit was slowly shaking his head, “You’re...breathtaking.  Even when you’re not dressed up, you carry yourself with a casual elegance.  That is the kind of person that becomes a man like Victor’s great love.”

 


Victor listened as Yakov relayed the contents of the meeting.  He’d already talked to Chris and knew the omega was now safely at home with his best friend in his company.  He was thankful that Yuuri was surrounded by those that would protect him and take care of him. His ears perked up when Yakov told him that Yuuri insisted that both Chris and Victor accompany him to the hearing.  He didn’t say Victor was his alpha...but there was an implication.  Yuuri was trusting himself in Victor’s care. It was early Thursday morning and he’d soon be meeting his skaters for breakfast.  I need to focus and my every thought is on Yuuri.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 24:  Worth it!

 

Phichit drove over to pick Yuuri up mid-morning on Friday.  They had several tasks to accomplish and Yuuri was determined to take care of them before Victor returned.  His reunion with his friend, added with his cleansing testimony yesterday, gave him a new found confidence. With that came the desire to impress the alpha on his return home and that meant action.  Paycheck in hand, the older omega climbed into Phichit’s car.

 

“How is it you have a car in Russia?” Yuuri huffed.

 

Phichit giggled and shifted the elegant black sedan into drive, navigating to traffic easily.  “Because Chris knows I despise public transportation.”

 

Yuuri knew this truth and envied his friend’s independence.  The car before him gleamed in that lustrous way rentals always do.  The newest, trendiest amenities called out to him. He itched to drive once more but felt overloaded with his schedule as it was, adding driving lessons to all of the things he was already learning seemed like an impossibility.  Glancing at his friend confidently negotiating traffic, he hated that he was so behind in life. He hated that he burned with jealousy and unwarranted embarrassment knowing that he was just now doing things on his own. Just now taking classes...albeit online.  Just now opening his own bank account. “So this bank Chris recommended…”

 

Phichit heard the worry creeping into his friend’s voice, “They are international and speak English, in fact the paperwork comes in a number of world languages, and Japanese is, of course, one of them.  A number of expats use them. I have an account there myself but most of my funds are currently in Tokyo.”

 

Yuuri breathed out, starting to feel a small amount of control return to him.  “Okay...and the other things?”

 

“We should be quite finished in time to pick up your son,” Phichit reassured him.

 

“He’s not my son!”  Yuuri flushed at the squeak in his voice, then stilled as he felt something hollow in him pang.

 

Phichit missed the flicker of sorrow in his friend’s face and quipped, “Have you told him that?  That child has bonded with you and named you mother .”

 

Yuuri looked out the window and murmured, “I know.”

 

Phichit cast a soft smile towards his friend.  “You want it...all of it...the child...the father.”

 

Yuuri simply nodded, his eyes still on the window.   I do.  I didn’t think I would, but I do...so badly.

 

Phichit put his hand over Yuuri’s, giving it a quick squeeze before returning to the steering wheel.  “Let yourself have this...you deserve nice things.”

 

Turning back, he thinned his lips.  “I have so little to offer.”

 

“I believe they only want love,” Phichit answered softly.  “And you offer that in abundance.”

 

Yuuri nodded once more, his expression tight as he fought to keep his emotions intact.  A tear slipped free and he wiped it away. “Sorry...heat. Emotions...easily overwhelmed.”  Yuuri sniffed and reached into his pocket for a teary tissue. “I hate all of these tears.”

 

Phichit spared a glance at his friend.  It was clear as day that his friend wasn’t feeling merely heat emotions, “You’ve stored those tears up for years, convincing yourself you were numb.  Forcing yourself to become numb as a survival instinct. In reality, you didn’t want to share them with him .  Now, you’re safe, they can come out.”

 

Yuuri knew he was right.  Phichit always saw right through him.  So he didn’t try to deny the words. Instead, he pouted, “I hate my heat.”

 

“That’s because they are all associated with him .  Have you thought about putting Victor into the equation?”  Phichit asked slowly.

 

Yuuri huffed.  “We have a contract...and besides, when he gets here, it’ll be too close for consent.”

 

“You have thought about it,” Phichit realized with wide eyes.  He saw his friend flush and then shoot him that look which meant not even Phichit was allowed to cross a line.  He paused, then started again, softening his tactic. “You could... imagine you’re with him.”

 

Yuuri squirmed a little in his seat, examining his hands.  “That seems...non-consensual.”

 

Phichit sighed as he pulled into a parking spot.  “Fantasies don’t require consent, actions require consent.  And I suspect Victor would get off on the idea of you thinking of him while you’re...getting yourself off.”

 

“Phichit!” Yuuri squealed, covering his face.

 

Phichit chuckled watching his sinfully sweet friend erupt into laughter.  “Seriously, Yuuri...that man has gone to a lot of trouble to take care of you.  Do you think he’d do that if he didn’t love you? Caring for someone only goes so far.”

 

Yuuri settled his hands in his lap the laughter calming, and leaving too soon.  He seemed to turn wistful and whispered, “I’m afraid to hope, afraid the disappointment would be too much, afraid...of losing Yura as well.”

 

Phichit reached over and squeezed Yuuri’s hand.  “Sometimes we have to take a risk because the reward is worth it.  Is Victor worth it?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  As he reached for the door handle, he murmured, “Do you know...he opens my door, buckles me in and will stay beside me until he is convinced I’m settled?”

 

“It sounds like Victor has already decided you’re worth it,” Phichit pointed out.

 

Yuuri felt himself agreeing with Phichit’s understanding of their unique relationship.  “How...do I know when?”

 

Phichit knew what he meant.   When to move forward.   He offered a smile and said softly, “You just do...there is that moment, a defining moment, and you decide to take that step.”

 

“Is that how it was with Chris?”

 

Phichit’s smile softened into a gentle memory.  “Yes, it was. That’s not how it started...but that’s how it moved from casual to something more...permanent...that moment where we decided on mate.”

 

It was Yuuri’s turn to examine his friend, “You never talked about him...not like that.”

 

Phichit’s smile faded slightly, “I didn’t want to talk about my happiness when you were trapped in misery.”

 

Yuuri closed his eyes, chin dropping, feeling the sorrow for his friend.  “I kept you in Tokyo...away from your mate.”

 

Phichit reached over taking Yuuri’s hand and waiting until the large brown eyes were locked on his.  “We both agreed to it, both knew it was the right thing to do. Someone had to be there for you. And I traveled frequently.  My work lets me be flexible.”

 

“Is that how you’re able to be here?”

 

Phichit nodded.  “I’m working on a visa to let me stay long term.  I can do my work from home and work on my side projects.  I’d occasionally have to fly back to Tokyo, but it wouldn’t be too bad.”

 

“I’d love to have you here,” Yuuri confessed.  “I’m glad it’s Chris...and that he’s here.”

 

“Well, he’s Victor’s best friend,” he deepened his voice, leaning in for effect, “the keeper of his deepest, darkest secrets.”

 

Yuuri rolled his eyes.  “I don’t think Victor is capable of dark secrets.”

 

Phichit sat back and cocked a perfectly styled eyebrow.  “One would say the same about you.”

 

Yuuri drew a ragged breath, suddenly or maybe not so suddenly feeling overwhelmed.  “Peach, I love you...but...I need to let this go for now. We have things to do.”

 

His friend nodded, a thin line in his lips.  “I’m sorry. I sometimes don’t know when to stop.”

 

“It’s okay...I know you love me.”  He looked out the windshield at the bank before them.  Taking in a deep breath he rose out of the vehicle. “Let’s...get this done.  My own checking account is the next step towards independence.”

 

They walked into the building and true to Chris’ word, they were quickly relegated to someone who spoke English and helped Yuuri process his paycheck.  He also learned of a branch located near his home with the promise that several of the workers spoke English. With his new bankbook in hand and debit card in his wallet, Yuuri walked out to Phichit’s car.  Now for the second item on the agenda. A new computer.

 




Shopping for a computer with Phichit was both a blessing and a curse.  As a programmer, his friend was very up to date on modern technology. However, Yuuri also wanted all the things and the programmer in Phichit took over.  “Yuuuriiii, a Macbook Air?”

 

Yuuri looked at the computer.  “It’s perfect! And pretty...and does what I need it to.”  It was more than that. It was slick, trendy, and was exactly what he would have carried to classes...scratch that, it was exactly what he WILL carry to classes.

 

“But…you don’t need this...a chromebook will suit your purposes.”  The omega couldn’t help the whine in his voice.

 

Yuuri turned sharp eyes his direction and asked, “High school students play Fortnight on their chromebooks.  A Macbook Air is for serious people…” He turned to his friend with big, wide eyes, “Don’t you think I’m worth it?”

 

“But…”

 

Yuuri pulled out the last card to play, “My phone is an iPhone.  Victor carries an iPad for work. They apparently have good products...and I can match it to my phone.”  He tapped on the rosegold version for emphasis.

 

Phichit slow blinked at his friend, as if seeing him again for the first time in a very, very long time.  “Oh my god! You are gay!”

 

Yuuri snorted at his response.  “It’s not like I’ve ever denied that!”

 

“I just never realized you’re so extra!”

 

Yuuri narrowed his eyes and replied with a shrug, “I never had the chance.”   I never had a lot of chances, and now...I’m reaching for all of them.

 

Phichit dramatically rolled his eyes and walked off.  “Get your Macbook!”

 

“Macbook Air .”  Yuuri smugly completed his transaction and walked out to the car with Phichit.  “So where do you live when you’re here?”

 

Phichit shrugged and answered, “With Chris, of course...but I guess you’ve never been there.  It’s a modern apartment not far from the rink.”

 

“Maybe you can show me after I finish working this afternoon.”

 

“Sure.  Bring Yura over and we’ll hang out at my place.”

 

Yuuri looked over at his friend, “You do know you’re picking me up, don’t you?”

 

Phichit huffed, feigning exhaustion, “Pick you up.  Drop you off. Take you shopping. What am I? Your chauffeur?”

 

“Of course not!”  Yuuri laughed, “I can’t afford a chauffeur!”

 

“Nope!  Because you bought a Macbook Air!”

 

Yuuri hugged his package to his chest.  “Don’t you talk bad about my new baby!” He ran a hand down the pretty white box, “Don’t listen to mean old Uncle Phichit, he’s jealous.”

 

“I really don’t know how I missed how extra you were,” he muttered mystified.

 

“Considering you were my only influence for years…”

 

Phichit scoffed, “But you bought a Macbook Air!”

 

“Well, I don’t exactly know how to write programs!  I just need something to let me do my work.”

 

“Chromebook…”

 

Yuuri scowled, “Something that will let me do my work and NOT look like a squeaker.”

 

Phichit sighed dramatically.  “Fiiine!”

 

After they enjoyed lunch in a diner near the school, they drove over to pick up Yura and went back to the house.  The little blond was fascinated by Phichit, following him around like a puppy. Yuuri leaned in and whispered in Japanese, “I think he has a little crush on you.”

 

“Should we tell Chris?” Phichit whispered back.

 

“I think it will come out on its own.”

 

Then a little boy voice broke through their whispers.  “Peaches, I colored you a flower.”

 

Phichit turned around with all the drama and swooped down to take the picture.  “It’s perfect! I’ll never find a more perfect flower if I search all the world!”

 

“And you call me extra,” Yuuri grumbled.

 

Phichit turned sharp eyes in his direction.  “Mac. Book. Air.”

 




Yuuri directed his little ducklings through a follow the leader routine and listened to their giggles and squeals as he broke free and swooped in behind them.  Of course they had formal lessons but a lot could be learned in play. They already loved “Teacher Yuuri” and clamoured for his attention.

 

As class wrapped up, he watched the students working their skates off or sitting with parents to take them off and switch to street shoes.  He stood by the rail when he looked up to see Yakov. The old man hung back, standing close to the wall but his eyes were shrewd. Yuuri unconsciously straightened up and then he heard Katya calling him.

 

He skated over to the redhead, meeting her at the barrier and stepping onto the rubber mat.  “I know you have a friend visiting but I wanted to see if you wanted to grab tea on Monday.”

 

“That would be perfect,” Yuuri agreed easily, accepting his hard guards from her.  “Phichit has to go back in a few days...but he may be moving here permanently soon.”

 

She smiled, following him to a bench.  “Oh, that’s great news! I can’t wait to get to know him better.  But for now, I’ll let him enjoy your company without interruption.”

 

“Are you doing okay?”  He tugged his boot off, then caught something in her voice.  “I know Pyotr is with Victor.”

 

She huffed.  “He’s been too busy to call.”

 

He stopped and straightened up to see her face.  The girl was as good an actress off ice as her sister, no poker face whatsoever.  It was clear she was hurt, “I’m sure that’s not it.”

 

“I don’t know if Pyotr is the one for me.  He doesn’t seem to want to get close. Not while I have responsibilities .”  She nodded ot her sister who was sitting with Yura rattling away about her school day...which involved a story about Otabek.

 

Yuuri shrugged, removing the other skate and beginning to dry them off before tucking them away.  “Maybe he thinks you’re not interested.”

 

She stilled for a moment, thinking of her own end of their interaction.  “Maybe...when we went home from the party, he carried Mila in and we stood at the door and talked for awhile.  Then it just got awkward. So he left. It’s been weird ever since.”

 

Yuuri had to shake his head at her, “So...he was standing at the door hoping for a kiss, hug, or something...and you just held back.”

 

Katya spread her hands wide, “I don’t want to encourage him...he might feel obligated!”

 

Yuuri rose.  Slinging the backpack over an arm, and linking his free arm in hers he started walking her towards their wards.  “Or he might actually think you’re interested and you might have to go on an actual date with him. You do know I’ll watch Mila for you, don’t you?”

 

She nodded, hugging herself.  “It’s just...I don’t feel right dragging him into a ready made family.”

 

“How does he feel?”

 

Katya stopped and turned to him.  “I-I don’t know.”

 

Yuuri face her.  “Maybe the two of you need to have a conversation.”

 

“What about you and Victor?!” she deflected.

 

Yuuri arched an eyebrow.  “I’ve been here maybe a month and it’s a bit more complicated for us...how long have you and Pyotr danced around this?”

 

Katya sighed in resignation.  “What if it’s been too long?”

 

“Maybe...maybe not.  He might be waiting on you to be ready to let him in.”  Yuuri nudged her towards the door again. He spotted Yura and Mila finishing putting their gear away in their bags.

 

“Like Victor.”  She added smugly.

 

“I think…”  He stopped quickly, shaking his head, “this isn’t about Victor and me.”  He was the king...no queen...of deflection and he could see what she was doing.

 

Katya rolled her eyes, “Fiiiine!”

 

Yuuri chuckled as she led her sister out of the room, helping Yura gather his gear.  “Do you want to go to Uncle Chris’ apartment?”

 

“Is...Peaches going to be there?”

 

Yuuri laughed and nodded.  “Yes...in fact, he’s driving us there.”

 

Yura lit up immediately at the prospect of a ride in Peaches’ car.  “I can’t wait!”

 

Yuuri ruffled his charge’s hair.  Checking his phone, he did the math on the time.  “Papa will call while we are there but I’m sure we can find a quiet place.”

 




The call came through while Chris and Phichit were playing with Yura and the boy squealed in mock terror and laughter.

 

“What’s going on?” Victor asked, momentarily alarmed.

 

Yuuri’s laughter did much to alleviate his fear.  “Chris is the monster or giant or some sort of beast and Phichit is trying to save him.  Our son is having the time of his life...and he has a little crush on my best friend.”

 

Victor smiled at the slip of tongue.   Our son...he might even forgive Phichit for stealing the little boy’s heart.  The happy sounds coming from Chris’ apartment warmed him. After a stressful middle of the week, it appeared to be ending on a positive note.  Best of all he could hear the change in Yuuri. Yuuri laughing and happy was life.

 

As he disconnected the call, Victor gathered the things he needed while out with his skaters.  They would leave in an hour to report in. He glanced towards the door at the knock, sighing. Please don’t be one of my skaters.   I can’t play, therapist, social worker, doctor, mother, friend, bartender, or cop any longer.  God, was I ever this needy? No wonder Yakov has no hair.   Opening the door, his eyes fell on Pyotr.  He waved him in with a grunt.

 

The other coach studied him as he leaned against the closed door.  “I think it’s good that Dmitry is coming with the next round.”

 

“What do you mean?”  He heard the snap as it left his lips.  “Fuck! I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me.”

 

Pyotr thinned his lips as he studied the younger man.  “Vitya, I’ve known you since you were my junior...and I remember when you freaked out because you were presenting alpha.  Are you...approaching rut?”

 

Victor groaned, it was something he had worried about.  “Yuuri is headed into heat...I’m not due but I’m wondering if I’m lining up with him.”

 

Pyotr hummed thoughtfully.  “It could be mate separation anxiety.”

 

Victor shook his head.  “Yuuri and I...we’re not, we haven’t been…”

 

The older alpha just leveled a stare at him.  “You and Yuuri have exhibited every indication of a mated pair.  You may not have consciously admitted it, you may not have done anything physically intimate, but...the biochemical signature is there.  Your secondaries have clearly attached.”

 

“We’ve got a contract,” he stated weakly.

 

The laugh did nothing to settle Victor.  “Maybe you do...and I’m not privy to the particulars.  Your instincts don’t have a contract, and neither do his.  You both are very professional, and it’s clear you respect his boundaries.  However, that omega only lets you near him. He’s not unfriendly, but he does put off a vibe that says ‘do not approach’.”

 

Victor leaned against the dresser as he considered his friend’s words.  “He is instinctively protecting himself. But...he says I’m his safe place.”

 

“He trusts you...and he’s open to your displays of affection.”  At Victor’s wide blue eyes, he pointed out, “You hold him...a lot.  Hug him to you, put your face to him, encourage him to scent you, and you scent him.  It’s courting behavior, from both of you.”

 

Viktor shifted, he felt guilty at the thought of going beyond the boundary he wanted to respect.  “It’s unconscious. I catch myself doing it sometimes. I...want him as my mate. I just don’t want to rush him.  He’s had so little choice in life.”

 

Pyotr nodded, “So...about your temperament.  Do we need another coach in here for Canada?”

 

Victor shook his head.  “I’ve already committed and Georgi is the only one available.  I’d hate to pull him away from Sveta...I promised.”

 

“What about Ivan?  Surely he and Dmitry...”  Pyotr had clearly come prepared.

 

Victor shook his head.  “His grandfather is in bad shape.  And Yulia isn’t ready to work with seniors.  Elena is on leave...something with her mate. It comes down to balancing life and work.  No, I’ve committed to this. I’ll try to be more conscious about my attitude.”

 

Pyotr blinked at him, studying the man.  “Is there...something else?”

 

Victor considered how much to tell him.  However, he’d known Pyotr for a very long time and the man had never broken a trust.  If Victor couldn’t call Yakov, he know Pyotr would know what to do when he got himself into a scrape...or needed help with a bad boyfriend.  “Yuuri’s ex is here.”

 

Pyotr nodded slowly as he took in that information.  “The asshole that took him from skating.” Pyotr crossed his arms, Victor knew enough of the man’s body language to see he harbored a serious grudge against the man.

 

Victor blinked quickly, “You know...about that?”

 

Pyotr narrowed his eyes with memory, “When your Yuuri retired, there was a large group saying something was off about it.  They suggested that maybe that mating wasn’t on the up and up.”

 

“It wasn’t,” Victor confirmed.  “Yuuri gave testimony to both Interpol and ISU that confirmed what I suspected.  Shuji...isolated Yuuri at fourteen and forced a bond on him. At eighteen, he took possession of him.”

 

The arms tensed then slacked as the man’s shock wore in.  “But he was fourteen,” Pyotr protested.

 

Victor shook his head.  “He didn’t report it until seventeen.  Evidently Shuji threatened him, making him feel ashamed as if it were Yuuri’s doing.  Even here, they wouldn’t have done much. I’m just glad...that asswipe that Yelena was dating didn’t mark her.”

 

Pyotr remembered the hockey player.  He was rough and loud and everyone was shocked to see the dancer hanging on his arm.  And at first, she seemed to be enjoying herself. Then all of that changed and she started trying to get out of the relationship.  “It’s hard...for an omega. I wish...sometimes Katya is so stubborn.”

 

Victor raised an eyebrow as he studied his friend.  “I thought you were the stubborn one.”

 

Pyotr huffed.  “Since Mila came to live with her, she only lets me get so close to her.  I don’t know how to get her to let me back in. Maybe...I’m just wishful thinking.”

 

Victor wanted to say something but Katya was a close friend as well.  “Perhaps...you just need to sit down and talk. Lay it out. Tell her what you want and ask her what she needs from you.”

 

“Maybe...what about you and Yuuri?” he turned it around.

 

Victor crooked a smile before running his hands through his hair.  “Yuuri and I talk...a lot. And we haven’t known each other long. We haven’t...you know...really kissed or anything.  He’s been hurt so much, I don’t know what’s okay and what’s not. And then...there’s that contract.”

 

“What’s this contract you keep talking about?”

 

Victor sighed, thinking of how much the relationship and what he wanted from it changed since Yuuri’s arrival.  “It’s the contract we signed when he agreed to come to Russia as a companion omega. I wanted him to feel safe, protected.  So we have several clauses that would require Yuuri to sign a waiver for me to court him or become intimate.”

 

Pyotr frowned at this.  “But you are courting him.”

 

“I didn’t realize it until the other day!”

 

Pyotr had to chuckle at his friend’s exasperation.  “So what are you going to do now?”

 

Victor ran a hand through his hair.  “I...need to talk to him. But this isn’t a cell phone conversation.  And Yuuri’s heat is just around the corner. So really, no decision can be made once I reach Russia until after his heat.”

 

Pyotr sat down.  Two men, completely stuck.  “Well, fuck…”

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 25: Heart and Soul

 

Yuuri sighed into the morning, the drizzle of rain against the window pane holding him to his bed.  Yura scooted closer into his warmth. The omega smiled at the little boy, who whined slightly wanting more of Yuuri’s protective presence in his sleep.  The man moved the tiny form closer into his embrace, his arm sliding down the tiny back, scenting and comforting the small boy. Yuuri’s instinct told him the boy would present omega and present early.  He had strong omega characteristics, needing warmth and comfort, but also wanting to give that comfort to others.

 

Except, Victor said once he thought he’d present omega...until he didn’t.  He was late to present and when seventeen birthdays had passed without his presenting as omega his parents thought he was beta, Victor thought he was beta.  Alpha surprised him, and everyone who knew him.  Yuuri studied the sleeping child. Would you be like your father?

 

Yuuri pressed a kiss into that blond head and chuckled as the boy snuggled tighter against him.  The motion spoke the truth that the tightly shut eyes were denying. The little boy had woken, “We’ll have to get up eventually.”

 

A small pout formed, then disappeared with hope.  Two large green eyes opened and found Yuuri’s face.  “Is Peaches coming over?”

 

Yuuri pressed another kiss into Yura’s hair before resting his cheek against the floss.  “Not today...he needs to have time with his mate.” Yuuri had insisted on it...especially now that he knew Phichit had put his life on hold for him.  It hurt his heart but Yuuri didn’t know if he would have made it through to the other side without his best friend. Those small rebellions that kept him striving for freedom fed by the omega on the other side of the wall.  I would have given up.  Phichit was my tie to the outside world.   How many times had the man sneaked Yuuri out, brought him a new phone, made sure Yuuri had enough to eat when Shuji was out of town?

 

Yuuri pushed up out of the covers and when the little boy protested, Yuuri made monster sounds, his hands up in the air and then descended on Yura.  “Tickle monster!” Yura’s squeals would have woken up anyone who remained sleeping...but Yuuri was certain that they were the last ones lingering in bed.

 

Finally up, he slid his feet into his slippers and urged the child to do the same.  Down the stairs they went and found Olga humming in the kitchen. “Good morning,” he greeted.

 

She looked up and smiled.  And if Yuuri had figured out she had a date with Lev the night before, he said nothing.  “So you finally decided to join the rest of the world.”

 

“A morning to sleep in is a luxury that shouldn’t be denied,” Yuuri declared.

 

She huffed in disbelief.  “Too much to do to sleep away the day.”  While her lecture has weak, the tea she slid in his direction was strong and rich.

 

Yuuri sipped from the steaming cup and arched a well groomed brow in her direction.  “The day doesn’t begin until we decide it begins.” He swallowed and hummed approval.  Then nodded his head at the window behind her. “Besides, it’s rainy and gloomy outside.  Surely you’re not going shopping.”

 

She shuddered at the thought of braving the weather today.  “No, I’ll pull from the pantry. I have bread rising in the oven.  A good sturdy loaf of black bread. And hot chocolate is in the crock.”

 

Yura started bouncing up and down in excitement.  Hot chocolate was a weekend treat, and soon the little boy was carrying the prized cup carefully to the table.  Yuuri watched him fondly.

 

“So what do you have planned?” Olga inquired.

 

Yuuri frowned because he really didn’t have a plan.  He had Yura to care for but otherwise, the household chores were in hand and he was rather listless.  “I guess...it would be a good time to face that package from home.”

 

Olga’s expression sobered.  “The one your mother sent for the shrine?”

 

Yuuri’s sigh became heavy as he nodded.  He didn’t want to wait until Victor was home but part of him wished the man was there with him, to help him face this.  The omega worried about falling apart and wanted to feel the alpha’s comforting strength. But looking around the room, he knew he was surrounded by love.  And he wanted to learn to rely on his own strength, then in time be able to give it to those who supported him in his need.

 

Yura took off to chase kittens and Yuuri let him go, walking up the stairs towards his own room.  In the private space, he looked around and considered what needed to be done for his upcoming heat.  He hadn’t started building his nest, hadn’t even felt the compulsion. What is wrong with me?   Shuji hated nests and would dismantle the beginnings of one immediately, within a year of living with him Yuuri’s nesting instinct was little more than a dull hint buried in anxiety.  However, he was free of that... Do I want to nest?

 

He looked around his bedroom.  It was nice, inviting even...however he felt no connection to it.  It wasn’t like Shuji’s many homes where he knew he didn’t belong. That was like living in a museum, and he was just another collected piece.  This house was welcoming and didn’t scare him. However, this room had the fingerprint of the original occupant, and while Yelana obviously created a beautiful and elegant space, it didn’t suit Yuuri.  He thought about the room downstairs, a room that kept drawing him. He didn’t want to nest in his own room. He wanted...to become a part of Victor’s space, to share the room and make it a part of himself, to...become a part of Victor, and the alpha part of him.  When did that change?

 

He hugged himself and thought about his interactions with Victor.  Everything had been gradual...even though time was short. They connected immediately, an invisible thread drawing them to one another.  Yuuri blinked in realization. Mate .  His hands trembled as he sat down in the chair in front of the vanity.   When? How?

 

Everyone else realized it...why didn’t I?

 

He looked around the room, the one he didn’t want to use for his heat.  His eyes rested on the box for the shrine.  I wasn’t ready.  Just like I wasn’t ready to open this box.  Did you know, Victor? Did you hold yourself back for me?  Or were you also not ready?

 

Yelena...Victor stops and studies your image every day.  You hold a part of him...You always will and that’s fine.  He carries you with him in his heart still. I can tell that you both loved each other a lot.  I never want to take that away from you or him. I just...want there to be room for myself as well.

 

Steps.

 

What do I need to do?

 

Suddenly, it was clear to him.  He knew what that first step would be.  Taking out his phone, he sent a text to Chris.

 

Yuu-chan/ I want to sign the waivers.

 

Satisfied that he was beginning something new he focused on starting the healing process from his past.  Yuuri walked over to pick up the box while he waited on a reply from Chris. Placing it on his bed, his fingers traced along the tape.  He could see the great care his mother took to ensure its delivery. Turning to his vanity, he opened the bottom drawer and took out a sewing kit he found there when he moved in.  Inside, he located a pair of tiny scissors and carefully opened the box, slicing through the tape. Taking a deep breath, he opened the lid.

 

He hadn’t expected what he found within.  Hiroko had thought beyond the mechanics of building a shrine, much like Nikolai, and supplied him with items that would help heal the mourning man.  Part of the box held the things he requested, components he would use to complete the shrine. He knew those things were coming and he quickly pulled them out, organizing them.  He also found the Jizu statue, remembering the god that would smuggle miscarried children into the afterlife and, later, bring gifts to them. His motions slowed as he discovered the other, unexpected items, small treasures his family and friends held onto.  He remembered some of the gifts, the memory of carefully packing them and sending them back after he lost one baby or the next. Some, he’d never seen until now. However, they were each carefully labeled for each child. He began separating the gifts, his eyes misting.  No child had been forgotten. And for Yuuri, that was everything to him. He didn’t mourn alone.

 

A chime brought Yuuri’s attention away from the box giving him the much needed break and he returned to his phone.

 

ChrisG/ Have you really thought about this?

 

Yuuri smiled as he thought about Chris wanting to tell Phichit and hiding his excitement.  He knew they set this up. The wonderful couple conspiring to bring their two best friends, lost in the world, together.  Chris knew of Yuuri, but was very close with Victor. Phichit knew Yuuri the best. And somehow talking back and forth, they decided their friends would be perfect together.  When they had these covert conversations, Yuuri didn’t know. But he did suspect it was long before Yuuri was free. He blushed thinking of Phichit’s animated end of the conversation, Chris trying to keep everything in the context of reality.   A dream .  And then Yuuri was free.  And it slowly became a reality.   Or maybe not so slowly .  Yuuri considered the question glowing at him on the screen of his phone.  It had only been a month but it felt like several, a slow dawning of realization.

 

Yuu-chan/ Yes.  I’ve put a lot of thought in this.

 

Yuu-chan/ I know it’s not been a very long time but in a way, it has.

 

Yuuri fumbled with his words, knowing that he wouldn’t make a great deal of sense via text.  However, he needn’t worry. Chris had felt this coming...had hoped for it alongside the omega he had loved for so long.

 

ChrisG/ I will put the papers together Monday and come by.  I have to ask this for the legalities of your situation and because I know it’s soon.  Is your heat scheduled within seven days of Monday?

 

Yuuri flinched for a moment, feeling awkward.  However he knew Chris was asking purely to make sure that Yuuri was in a position to consent to this change of his relationship with Victor.  He did the math and then responded.

 

Yuu-chan/ It will be cutting it close but I should be fine.  I have it projected to start the Wednesday following.

 

ChrisG/ I’ll need you to send me the actual start date once you have it.  As long as it doesn’t fall within seven days, the waiver will be valid.

 

Yuu-chan/ I will.  Thank you, Chris.

 

ChrisG/ Thank you.  I have my Peach here with me for a few days...he came because of you but I needed to see him.

 

Yuuri’s eyes misted at the thought of his friends finally being able to spend their time together.  He still held onto some of the guilt he carried, knowing that Phichit was never be able to leave Yuuri to find happiness with Chris.

 

Yuu-chan/ I’m sorry I was the cause for the two of you to be separated.

 

ChrisG/ We both agreed to the arrangement.  You are important to both of us!

 

Yuuri hugged himself, a soft smile on his lips.  Considering he’d been through some of the worst things that could be dealt an omega, he had the best of friends.  That smile faltered as he rested his eyes on the gifts. He’d found notes from his parents, his sister, Minako, Yuuko, the triplets, and Phichit.  He was sad but it was bittersweet. The gifts touched him more than he thought they would, each person had held onto the treasure until he was ready.

 

Everything has been on hold so long...in many cases, fourteen years.  Not just me, but my family and friends. I’m ready. Ready to put my children to rest.  Ready to move forward in this new life. Ready...to love and be loved.

 




Yuuri spent the rest of the morning laying out the components of the shrine.  There was a reverence in his motions, a tenderness in the way he laid out memorials for each child.  Yura could be heard in the halls running after the animals. Giggles would break through into the room and Yuuri would still.  As it should be, the joy of children filling the air. I wanted each of you to know joy.  You would not have with Shuji.

 

He broke for lunch, gathering his charge up and rejoining Olga and Nikolai in the kitchen.  She had a simple lunch of sandwiches and soup laid out. The soup was welcome as the chill held onto the air.  Outside the rain continued to drizzle, wintry and cold. Yuuri had added a sweatshirt over his long-sleeved tee.  He’d done the same for Yura, laughing at the little blonde’s independent spirit as he protested but finally relented.

 

After lunch, Yura crawled into Yuuri’s lap in the living room, a book in hand.  Yuuri listened to the child tell the story that went with the pictures smiling indulgently.  It was a made up story but that was fine. As he snuggled in Yuuri’s lap, that blond head rubbed back and forth into his chest.  At some point, those green eyes peeked up from below. “You smell like gingerbread.”

 

Yuuri had been caught off guard and snorted out his laugh.  “I suppose I do.” Then he blushed self-consciously as he added, “My scent is getting pretty strong, isn’t it?”

 

Yura shrugged.  “I like gingerbread.”

 

That was all that mattered.  It hadn’t occurred to Yuuri to put patches over his scent.  It wasn’t a luxury or a necessity before. Except at the onsen.  He shuddered thinking of that heat. His first after leaving Shuji.  He had been afraid, too many leering glances from customers seeing a free omega of a certain age , their distasteful assumptions that Yuuri would be easy.  Then locking himself, as best he could, in his room, suffering through the heat and urges.  It had been hell, one in which he hadn’t dared to pleasure himself for fear of customers. Traditional Japanese architecture left nothing secret.

 

He did notice Nikolai wouldn’t stand as close to him as usual.  Olga seemed unconcerned, but she wouldn’t as an omega. He worked mostly with children at the rink and they were like Yura.  Most parents were mothers who simply knew what Yuuri was about to undergo and thought nothing of it. Although he did notice Yakov would come into the room often, those sharp eyes were keeping an eye on him and anyone that could stand too close to Yuuri. The rest of the adults were students or colleagues of Victor.  They seemed unconcerned. Why...oh, they already see me as Victor’s.  To them, I’m a claimed omega.

 

Except I’m not.

 

I want to be.

 

He paused at that thought.  The admission had come upon him faster than he had ever realized.     I...want to be.  I want to belong to Victor.

 

He reflected back on past conversations, touches, kindnesses.   You have made me yours...are you aware?  Were you just making sure I was safe, or do you want more?  I want more.

 

I want more.

 

I want you.

 

He hugged himself at the thought and then realized the little boy was watching him.  “I’m sorry. I guess I have a lot on my mind. Why don’t you go play for a little while?”

 

With a cheery okay , the child crawled out of his lap and took off running down the hall.  I probably should tell him not to run.  But glancing out the window, he knew Yura would have little chance of exercise.   I’ll get him in the solarium later and show him how to stretch out with some yoga.

 




With thoughts of Victor and their potential future in his head, he didn’t want to return to the altar.  There’s always tomorrow.  I’m not going anywhere. I’m home.  He then remembered the music room.  He opened a couple of doors before he found it again, smiling at the beautiful piano.  Lifting the cover, he let his fingers drift across the keys and then his smile turned wistful as he settled into a listless, melancholy melody.

 

Little green eyes peeked into the room curiously.  “Pretty,” Yura murmured as he edged closer, feeling shy at Yuuri’s new display and unsure if he was allowed in this particular room.  It was always closed off.

 

Yuuri smiled over at him and patted the bench beside him.  “Would you like to play?”

 

“I don’t know how,” he stated with an uncertain frown.

 

“You didn’t know how to skate once, and you’re still learning to dance.  I don’t know how to speak Russian, but I’m taking lessons and putting myself out there to learn.  I can show you some piano. I’m very rusty.”

 

The little boy screwed up his nose at that word.  “Rusty? Like Grandpa’s truck?”

 

Yuuri laughed.  “A little like that.  When you don’t do something for a long time or very often, you’re not as good at it.  So...I’m rusty.” He guided the little fingers to the keys and placed them on a set and mimicked the action.  “Try this.”

 

They started with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star .  Soon he had Yura playing the basics of the music.  He then reached around the little boy on either side and added small filigrees of notes filling it out.  Yura looked up and grinned. “Pretty!”

 

Yuuri smiled indulgently.  “My last year that I skated, one of the two songs I skated to was called Heart and Soul .  Would you like to hear it?  Then maybe we can work together to learn it.”  With the boy’s eager nod, Yuuri began to work through the melody, introducing the melody then the words .  “You can sing the song all serious...or silly.  It can be fun or sentimental. It all depends on how you sing it.”  Then Yuuri demonstrated silly, Yura joining in, loving the shared song between them.

 

The blonde’s attention span was long but eventually the child in him needed something else as diversion and he soon was off to find the kittens.  As Yura skipped off to play some more, the omega felt his sadness slip back in almost unnoticed at first, like the mist of rain outside. He closed his eyes and knew...he missed Victor.  He didn’t exactly feel lost without him, but like the air without the sun, his warmth was gone. Yura was a small sun and brought in sunshine but as he skipped out of reach, the warmth went with him.  Hugging himself, he went to seek out Olga, needing to shake off his loneliness. She offered him an understanding smile as Yuuri picked up the dusting cloth and helped her work through the house. He could rest.  There was nothing that ever required him to help out. However...he was as drawn to loving this house as much as the occupants and he saw the same attitude reflected in Olga’s work.

 




Victor called through Skype that afternoon, happy to hear his boy’s cheerful voice.  Yura told him about the piano and sang what he could remember of the song only to have Yuuri’s hand slide up and down his back as he reinforced the words.  Yura’s exuberance contrasted Yuuri’s melancholy...and Victor missed neither of those. As his son grew restless, he skipped away leaving Yuuri to face the man alone.

 

“So, why Heart and Soul ?”

 

“Well, we started with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. ..but I skated to it my last year.”

 

Victor smiled into the screen, adding quickly, “Along with Gershwin.”

 

Yuuri blushed and nodded.  He was a little impressed that Victor knew his last two programs, and off the top of his head too.  Then he remembered they day Yuuri discovered the piano, playing Rhapsody in Blue and sharing how he knew it was his farewell.  “I think...I wanted the dream. I wanted...to know love.  I knew I wouldn’t, couldn’t. He wouldn’t let me. But...it was nice to dream.”  He heard the wishfulness in his own voice.  I’m not back there.  He hugged himself, reminding himself of the present.  I’m not with him.  I’m...with you. Can I have the dream?

 

“Will you sing it for me?”  Victor’s voice came across as soft and maybe...hopeful.

 

Yuuri giggled and glanced toward the door Yura disappeared through, dodging the request.  “I thought we just did.” I don’t know if I can.  He fluttered his hands around his body self-consciously.

 

Victor smiled indulgently.  “You know it’s not the same.  I want to watch your expressions.”

 

Yuuri shifted nervously, chewing his lip.  It was different.  Before, the focus was on Yura.  Now, it was on him. Yuuri swallowed and then closed his eyes.   Maybe if I don’t watch him.  He began tapping out the time and then the words started, Yuuri falling into the rhythm.  At one point, those brown eyes opened, not focused on Victor but looking off, perhaps into the dream.

 

Heart and soul, I fell in love with you

Heart and soul, the way a fool would do, madly

Because you held me tight

And stole a kiss in the night

 

Heart and soul, I begged to be adored

Lost control, and tumbled overboard, gladly

That magic night we kissed

There in the moon mist

 

Oh! but your lips were thrilling, much too thrilling

Never before were mine so strangely willing

But now I see, what one embrace can do

Look at me, it's got me loving you madly

That little kiss you stole

Held all my heart and soul

 

On the opposite end of the call Victor remembered that stolen kiss the night of their date, the magic of dancing with Yuuri...that moment when he let loose and held onto Victor, that moment Victor knew he was in love with Yuuri, truly, madly, deeply...with all of his heart and soul.  He knew Yuuri didn’t fully remember that night but Victor couldn’t help but think, but hope...maybe...a little part of him remembered or sensed they shared something more that night.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 26:   Life goes round and round…

 

Monday hit Yuuri hard.  He’d spent Sunday with Phichit and Chris, Olga insisting on keeping Yura home and entertained with her, letting the omega spend time with his friends.  When Yuuri went to argue she simply put firmly, “It’s good for you to take some time to yourself.” Yura had been happily occupied with little tasks playing ‘handiman’ with Nikolai and only realized he had missed his Yuuri when the omega returned.

 

He came home, his cheeks blooming with happiness and maybe a little from the wine but in time to tuck in Yura.  However, the little one didn’t stay in his own bed long. As soon as Yuuri had put himself down little feet padded into the room and soon were crawling up beside him in bed.  The omega indulged him, pulling him into his chest. Inhaling the boy’s scent deeply he realized he had missed the child as well. Ren huffed, burrowing under the blanket to steal Yuuri’s warmth.  And then, the omega was startled when the bed dipped down as the large poodle also joined their menagerie. We’ll have the cats here before dawn.   But looking into the dark eyes melted him and reaching down, he took pity on the oversized dog, cooing softly, “Do you miss Victor, too?”  The dog turned into Yuuri’s touch and then licked his hand before curling up at the foot of the bed.

 

“He’s been following me around a lot.”  The little boy pulled back from Yuuri’s chest to look up into the big brown eyes.

 

“Poodles are very attached to their humans.  They don’t do so well when they are away,” Yuuri instructed gently.

 

The little green eyes squinted for a moment, considering this information before deciding that, “Cats are better.”

 

Yuuri chuckled.  “Maybe better for you.  I kind of like it that Ren looks out for me and I look out for her.  Cats are more independent...but then again, so are you. So cats may be perfect for you.”

 

Yura nodded with certainty before snuggling closer to Yuuri.  “Maybe we should have Makkachin talk to Papa next time he calls.”

 

The omega smiled at the instance of putting the dog on the phone to his... the alpha.  “I bet both of them will like that.  I’m not sure if he will call tomorrow.  He has to travel.”

 

“To Candida.”

 

Yuuri snorted, picturing a giant, yeasty nation.  “Canada, but yes.”

 

Yura yawned, his eyes growing heavy.  “I’ll be glad when Papa comes home.”

 

“Me, too, sweetie.  Me, too.”

 

By the time Yuuri woke up, he’d been surrounded by dogs, cats, and Yura.  He felt bruised and mangled, everything achy, and he didn’t know whether to blame his bedmates or his heat.

 

Downstairs, Nikolai was standing by the door as Yuuri prepared to leave with Yura.  His wrinkled eyes following the omega through his motions but keeping a distance until they were about to put their coats on.  Then Nikolai stepped forward, “I think it would be best I take the boy until you’re heat is over.”

 

Yuuri blushed and started to protest but remembered that was one of the things Victor requested, that he lean on the people around him, and listen to their counsel.  Drawing back his arguments, he nodded. “If you think it is best.”

 

“I promised to keep you safe, so yes, I do.”  Turning to Yura, he added, “Get your things and load up.”

 

Yuuri watched them leave before texting Phichit.  He wanted to see Phichit off on his flight and then Chris was going to take him to his office and work through the waivers with him.

 

Half an hour later, he was sitting in the front seat with Phichit, Chris whining from the back.  Phichit cast him a side-eye through the window. “You’re going to be fine. Besides, it is only a few more weeks.”  Turning back to Yuuri, he added, “ I was originally planning to stay a few more days but the boss wants me to sort out my contract and now there is a presentation.”

 

“Are you planning another holiday?” Yuuri asked, latching onto the phrase a few more weeks and feeling elated at the thought of seeing his friend once again.

 

“Not exactly,” the Thai man began.  “I’m negotiating my next contract with work and one of the stipulations is that I get to work from either home, Tokyo or Russia.  I’ll keep my apartment in Tokyo for now, because I’ll have to go into the office a week here and a week there, but for the most part I want to work out of my home here in Russia.”  His dark eyes flicked up to rearview mirror to see the smile on his love’s face. “Maybe eventually I’ll be able to work completely from Russia.”

 

“That would be amazing!” Yuuri exclaimed, his eyes passing from one to the other and smiled as Chris reached through to slide his hand up and down Phichit’s arm.

 

Phichit took Chris’ hand, kissing the fingers before releasing it.  He looked to Yuuri quickly before returning to the road. “It’s not the same being in Tokyo without you there.  I just need to make the decision and move. I miss both of you.”

 

Yuuri blushed.  He felt honored to be part of that equation.  Phichit had put so much on hold for him. Of course, Phichit argued, he’d been skating and his coach was in Tokyo for most of that time.  Yuuri pointed out that the coach was in Tokyo because Phichit insisted on Tokyo. And then when the omega retired, he stayed, taking a position with a computer apps company that was also banking on Phichit’s social media presence along with his minor celebrity status.  Phichit was content with the situation for the time being. Now...he wanted to be with Yuuri and Chris in Russia. He felt left out.

 

At the airport, Yuuri was surprised by his own tears as much as Phichit’s as the omega hugged him for a very long time.  Then the older omega stepped back and turned away as Chris kissed his love goodbye. He heard the hitch in Phichit’s voice as he called out, “Goodbye.  I love you both.”

 

“We love you, too, Peach,” Chris and Yuuri called out together gaining a grin from the retreating friend.

 

Chris guided Yuuri back to his car and they drove to the law office.  “What is your schedule like?”

 

Yuuri thought about that, it wasn’t really clear.  “I...I’m not sure. Nikolai won’t let me take Yura to school but he has lessons this afternoon.”

 

Chris nodded, “After we finish here, why don’t I take you to lunch.  Then we can pick him up and I drive you both to the rink.”

 

“Okay...that sounds good.  I’ll text Olga to let Nikolai know.”

 

Chris snorted.  “Because of course that stubborn old man doesn’t have his own phone.”

 

Yuuri laughed, knowing the text would go to Olga who would simply pass it on to the grandfather.  “He does...he’s just not sure where he put it,” Yuuri argued.

 

Chris rolled his eyes and waved off Yuuri’s concerns.

 

In the law office, Yuuri looked around, seeing Chris’ degrees on one wall and some of his more prominent wins on another wall.  He walked over to trace his fingers along the edge of one display frame.

 

Chris saw the omega’s eyes glisten over examining the medal.  “I only ever won gold if Victor wasn’t there.”

 

Yuuri inhaled deeply, clearing his mind of the endless what ifs that ran around the space.  Turning he looked back at Chris who was at his desk.  “Why doesn’t Victor display his own awards?”

 

Chris hummed at that.  “Victor always felt weird about showing them off.  I think once the event was over, he put them away. He muttered something once about how he hated that everything we did came down to three ugly necklaces.  I’m not even sure if he enjoyed them in private. Now, I do believe some of them are on display at his parents’ home but Victor hates that.”

 

Yuuri thought about the man he was coming to understand better each day.  Victor, who loved skating so much he brought beauty to the ice with even the simplest of moves, was never looking for the win.  “It was the moment, not the medal...he wanted to make the audience happy,” Yuuri determined.

 

“Very much so,” Chris agreed.  He let that thought settle for a moment before redirecting their attention to the papers on the desk.  “Now...let’s talk about what restrictions you want removed from your relationship with Victor.”

 

Yuuri winced, returning to the chair across from Chris’ desk.  “That sounds so weird.”

 

“What?   Relationship ?  Why does that sound weird?”  Chris smiled as he sat in his chair, motioning for Yuuri to do the same on his side.

 

Yuuri settled into the comfortable leather chair with a sheepish smile.  “Because...we haven’t really...talked about it.”

 

Chris shrugged, lowering his voice as he pointed out, “Well, he can’t...not legally.  Although I think he has taken a few liberties with you.”

 

Yuuri blushed as he looked away.  “It could...be seen that way. I don’t know that he meant it that way.”

 

Chris smirked.  “It may have caught him by surprise but I can pretty much guaranteed he meant it.”

 

Yuuri refocused on the stack of papers in Chris’ hands.  “I want...us to be able to be able to have a relationship, for him to be able to court me if he chooses, for us to become intimate if we choose.”  He smiled at the thought of their dating, growing closer, possibly falling in love. But then the dark worry crept into those thoughts, “I’m terrified.  If this all goes wrong, I not only lose Victor, I lose Yura. But…” He trailed off, drawing a shaky breath and it was then that he noticed Chris had come around the desk and was kneeling before him, a steady hand on his back.  “Sorry...do you think this is too fast?”

 

Chris took a hand, looking earnestly at Yuuri.  “What’s important is...do you think it’s too fast?”

 

Yuuri slowly shook his head.  “I...want this,” he whispered.  “And I haven’t allowed myself to want anything in so long.”

 

Chris smiled, “Victor...he’s a good man.  He’ll let you set the pace.”

 

“He’s still hurting, too.  I see how he looks at her portrait.  She’s still found in pockets of his room.”  Then Yuuri’s cheeks heated up as he realized he’d revealed his forays into Victor’s private spaces.  “He said...I could use his bath,” he quickly added.

 

Chris chuckled, a gentle hand patting his knee as he stood up and returned to his desk.  “Victor would say that. Just because we sign these waivers, you do understand that you can still say no.”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “I know.”

 

Chris nodded, then his look turned serious.  Lowering his voice he began again, “And you also know that when Victor returns, there isn’t enough time for consent with regard to heat.”

 

I can see why Victor trusts you, and why Phichit loves you so.   “Yes...I know that, too.”  Yuuri studied his hands for a moment before adding, “I don’t think I’m ready to share a heat.  I want to know...what it’s like without the muddled thoughts of heat. Does that make sense?”

 

“It most certainly does.  Good sound sense,” Chris reassured him.  He began sorting through the documents, pulling out the ones he needed.  One by one, he went through and had Yuuri sign here, initial there, explaining as they went along what each one meant until the waivers were signed.  “I have to hold onto these for a week.”

 

“Because of my heat?”

 

Chris nodded.  “They don’t go into effect until we clear that window.  However, I’ll bring them to you Monday morning. If for some reason I can’t, I’ll send them by courier.”

 

Yuuri smiled bashfully.  “I guess, it doesn’t really matter when.  It’s not like I’m going to use it just yet.”

 

“They are yours, though, for when you’re ready.”  He glanced at the clock and segued into his next topic.  “Now...about lunch. I know a lovely diner Victor and I always enjoy.  My treat.”

 

“I’ve already inconvenienced you so much,” Yuuri protested quietly.

 

“It’s not an inconvenience if you’re a client, friend...and I believe we’re family.  At least, through Phichit.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself and smiled.   Chris and Phichit were definitely family.  “Maybe...you can tell me how you and Phichit came together.”

 

“Oh, that’s a story…”  He studied Yuuri a moment before settling the younger man’s coat on his shoulders.  “It begins with a bit of worry, though.”

 

Yuuri put the pieces of a memory together, “That night...when you both helped me escape my alpha for a while?”  They were walking to the elevator as they talked.

 

“Yes...we didn’t realize it then, and I certainly hope we didn’t cause trouble for you afterwards.  But...I watched the way Phichit cared for you...and that planted a little seed in my heart.” Chris led him across the lobby and out the door.  The diner wasn’t far. Then he’d take Yuuri to get the kid. “Phichit showed how much he cared for people, with such open sincerity. I couldn’t help but want to be on the receiving end of someone with that capacity for love.  I started seeking him out during competitions. I’d ask about you...then we started talking about each other. It was slow and warming, sneaking up on you like a smooth drink. But then one night we’re at a banquet following a competition, and Phichit kissed me, looking away shyly.”  Chris chuckled. “A lot like that look right there.”

 

Yuuri had ducked down, a soft smile on his lips.  “Is that when you knew?”

 

Chris’ eyes practically glowed with the warmth of the memory.  “That’s when I knew for certain...but over the months since I’d gotten to know him I’d been feeling things I’d not ever felt with another.”

 

Yuuri stared off for a moment and Chris gave him time to find his words.  “I didn’t know...about you, that is.”

 

Chris smiled sadly at the young man.  “Phichit didn’t want to talk about his happiness while you were still in a bad place.”

 

Yuuri pulled at his sleeve.  He knew they would never hold anything against him, and yet, he felt the need to apologize.  “I wish he would have told me...I think I would have liked knowing he had good things.”

 

“You would have pushed him to leave Tokyo,” Chris corrected gently.  “And neither of us wanted that. I talked about coming to Japan...but I already knew Russian, French, and English...Japanese seemed daunting.”

 

Yuuri laughed.  “Maybe...the language isn’t so bad.  It’s all of the alphabets. But Phichit knows several languages.”

 

Chris snorted thinking of his ultra-nerd fiance, “I know.  He has us all beat! How does one get an international business degree WITH software development along with SKATING!”

 

Yuuri grinned.  His friend really was amazing...smart and giving.  “I don’t know...I barely finished high school and that last part was online.”  The words came out small because sometimes he felt small.

 

Chris sighed, sliding a brotherly arm around him.  “You had no choice. It doesn’t mean you didn’t have the ability.  And Victor said you are taking classes now.”

 

“Just two...and the Russian class.  It meets on Mondays. The other two are online.”

 

“It sounds like a solid start.”  Chris was firm in his support. “You can do this...take back your life one thing at a time.”

 

Yuuri squirmed a little, thinking of how far ahead everyone else always seemed to be.  “I’ve lost so much time.”

 

Chris was silent for a moment.  He could understand how Yuuri felt, almost a decade and a half stolen from him.  “I know...but it isn’t the amount of time, it’s the significance we put into the moments.  You value the gifts others take for granted and will make more of them because of it.”

 

Yuuri chuckled bitterly, “That’s because I had nothing...for the longest of times, I had just a smuggled phone and my worn out clothes.”

 

Chris didn’t know what to say to a man whose life had been on hold for fourteen years.  “Then you’ve got every reason to grab hold of happiness where you find it.”

 

Lunch lightened up into easy talk.  Yuuri was very interested in Chris’ work and his plans with Phichit.  Chris asked Yuuri if he could help him settle more in Russia, offering to show him around when Victor is busy.

 

They were walking out of the restaurant and towards Chris’ car as Yuuri answered.  “It’s really the language that gives me the most trouble. But I have already made a lot of friends I’d even call close.  It’s strange...but I’m in a foreign country, one that is often considered rough and cold...yet I feel safer than when I’m in my own country.”

 

“Perhaps with all that’s happened, you have reason to lose a little faith in Japan.  They didn’t protect you when you needed it most.” Chris frowned, knowing Yuuri’s situation in his home country.  “I scoured international law libraries to find a way to get you out of there.”

 

“You...did?” Yuuri looked up at him in surprise.

 

Chris nodded.  “You don’t realize how much your story has driven others as they encountered you.  Before I learned what happened to you, I didn’t think much about how different life was for omegas...then I learned the grim truth.”

 

Yuuri hugged himself as he considered those words.  “But...Phichit’s story was different. I mean...we both dealt with inappropriate touches and other harassment, but Phichit wasn’t...stolen.  Was he stronger?”

 

Chris was shaking his head immediately, “He may have had better people looking out for him when threats arose, but anyone who knows you wouldn’t doubt your strength, Yuuri.  You held strong and waited until you found a way out.”

 

Was that strength?  Was the very act of surviving Shuji, defiance?   Yuuri thought about the passive resistance he put up after the loss of his fourth child.  How Shuji’s shouting was met with a dead face, not even a flinch. “I just...decided one day I wouldn’t let him hurt me anymore.  Once I stopped being affected by him, he grew bored.”

 

“And that is strength, Yuuri.  So no, Phichit wasn’t any stronger.  You were targeted by a predator.”

 

Yuuri shivered at the thought.  He was ready to get his Yura, ready to skate, ready to shake off these negative thoughts.  But...he was glad that Chris was his friend and he could safely talk about these things with him.  The Swiss skater-turned-attorney didn’t sugarcoat things and spoke to him honestly. Still, he strengthened those around him.

 

As they pulled into the school, Yuuri smiled as he spotted Yura sitting next to Zaina, Mila and Otabek.  Beka’s mother was standing nearby. “I may have a ride to the rink. Mehar is here. Can you give me a few minutes?”

 

“Of course...and I don’t mind if it doesn’t work out.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Yuuri was out and the other omega greeted him, hugging him close.  Soon he was waving Chris off and headed to her car. “Your friend Katya called me and asked if Mila could ride with Otabek to the skating lessons.  I thought Yura would need a ride as well.”

 

“I need to figure out what to do during my heat,” Yuuri frowned as he scratched at his arms.

 

“Don’t worry.  I will be happy to drive him.  I live for my children and carting a few more around will be no extra trouble.”

 

Yuuri smiled at the ease with which she offered help.  “Thank you. I’m not sure what’s going on with Victor but he said something about Yuri staying with his grandfather.”

 

“Perhaps I drive you home and we talk it over with his grandfather,” Mehar suggested.

 

Yuuri nodded in agreement.

 




Nikolai listened to the woman and then turned to Yuuri.  “You trust this woman?”

 

Yuuri laughed at his bluntness.  “Yes, but even moreso, Victor is comfortable with her and her family.  Yura stayed at their house the night Victor and I went to the work party.”

 

Nikolai nodded in approval.  “I’ll get your number from Yuuri.  Then we can arrange things. This will help.”

 

Mehar smiled at the older man and his businesslike approach to her.  “No problem. Anything to ease Yuuri’s heat apprehension.”

 

Yuuri blushed not liking to be so transparent.  “What he means is that he wants me to enter it into his phone.”

 

The old man huffed and headed out back.

 




After dinner, Nikolai drove Yuuri to his class.  “Perhaps you skip this time?”

 

“Why?” Yuuri asked, startled.

 

Nikolai’s blunt reply tumbled out.  “Your scent...your heat must be close.”

 

Yuuri blushed and was thankful for the darkness in the car.  “I know...but it’s among omegas. I’m sorry I’m inconveniencing you.”

 

An old hand, weathered from hard work waved off his concerns.  “It’s not an inconvenience. I just worry.” He looked over at Yuuri, hoping that younger man would catch his meaning.

 

Yuuri smiled, understanding that he had become family to this older man.  More than just the nanny that cared for his grandchild, Yuuri was a son. “My heat is over a week away.  It will be fine.”

 

“You don’t like to rely on others so much,” the old man observed.

 

Yuuri decided to tease the older man into a good mood, “Well, maybe if someone could teach me how to drive, then I could do this myself.”

 

Nikolai grunted.  “I taught Yelena. I can teach you.”

 

Yuuri blinked, not sure how he felt about that.  Nikolai could be terrifying and he didn’t know if he’d like being scolded by the old Russian.  But then he remembered how the old man held onto him when he fell apart. “I think...I’d like that.”

 




Boris smiled as Yuuri walked in and then the smile froze.  He took Yuuri to the side and made him aware of omega services available in Russia.  “I would have picked you up had I known your heat was so close.”

 

Yuuri huffed, do all Russians have amazing senses of smell?   “It’s fine...Victor trusts his father-in-law Nikolai...and I’m not sure if he would trust many others at this point.”

 

Boris nodded, happy that Yuuri was already being looked over during this time.  “Ah...yes, your alpha watches over you.”

 

“Not my alpha…”  Yuuri stopped mid-sentence as he thought about it.  “I mean, we, ummm…”

 

“It’s fine, Yuuri...but call me if you need to make use of those services.  We look out for each other. That’s how we survive.”

 

Yuuri smiled softly and a little sad.  If only such things were available to him before...or even better, if they weren’t necessary at all.  “Thank you.” Yuuri looked down at the list of services and saw that it was printed in English as well as Cyrillic.  He stared at one line with narrowed eyes.  International Omega Protective Services .  “What... is this one?”

 

Boris leaned over and grunted.  “Good organization. Helps omegas out of situations where they are being abused or exploited.”

 

Yuuri jolted a little, “Are they...active in Japan?”

 

The older man frowned.  “Not sure...the laws are tricky overseas.  However, it’s part of a movement through the U.N. to protect omegas.  Finally they are beginning to recognize the trafficking and slavery of omegas, and that simply forcing a young omega into marriage is not protection.  This organization sees that omegas need someone to step up and change the image.  Maybe one day we won’t need someone to stand up for us. However, for now...we have this service.  Here we have our own but some places don’t have that luxury.”

 

Yuuri nodded hugging himself.  “In Japan...I had no one except my best friend.”

 

Boris frowned before wrapping a protective arm around those slim shoulders.  “In the end, it’s just omegas looking out for omegas. There are good alphas out there.  Lots of them. But getting them to stand up to the bad alphas is hard. Nobody wants to call out their friend when it’s ‘just a joke’, but then that’s permitting a culture that supports omega oppression.  There are still people teaching alphas that omegas are there for their pleasure.”

 

Yuuri shivered, those words hitting too close to home.  His eyes strayed to the study group. “I’m safe now,” he whispered.

 

After his class ended, he found Nikolai waiting in the truck for him.  They took the shortest route home...Yuuri wincing with every pothole, his body tense from pre-heat cramps and his head aching from the new knowledge and wondering...what if there was someone that could have gotten him out all along.  Once home, Yuuri thanked the man and slipped off to take a bath.

 

He needed to feel Victor’s presence, his scent on his body.  After a shower, he soaked in the tub. The aches were more steady now, his body preparing him for the changes pregnancy would put on him.  The birth control he was taking suggested it might ease the symptoms but his doctor had told him that sometimes it took two or three cycles before he’d see that affect.

 

Slipping out of the water, he dried off and padded out into the bedroom.  He only wore his briefs, his clothes lying neatly folded in the chair. He took two steps in their direction when he felt himself drawn to the bed, and soon found himself wrapped in its paisley sheets and residual cedar scent.   I should check on Yura was his last thought before he fell asleep.

 

He didn’t stir for several hours but when he did, he hurried up the stairs terrified the boy went looking for him and didn’t find him.  The blond was sleeping soundly in his bed, however, sandwiched between Ren and two cats. He petted the poodle who lifted her head in interest and whispered, “Thank you, girl.”  She nuzzled his hand in response before laying back down next to the sleeping child. You know how important he is to me.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 27:   The reluctant nest...

 

Yuuri watched his little duckling go out the door chatting nonstop as his grandfather grunted at the appropriate spaces.  He had to admit more than a little jealousy at the scene. But he had to remind himself that Nikolai was his grandfather, and had been in his life longer than Yuuri.  I won’t get to see him during my heat...I hate my heat!   He felt stormy, resentful of the idea of his heat.  He flopped on the stool at the counter and watched Olga sort the ingredients for dinner.  “I’m not ready for this.”

 

Without looking up from her vegetables she asked, “For what?”

 

Yuuri huffed, annoyed that he didn’t rate as highly as her turnips.  “My heat.”

 

She looked up and studied him with concern.  She knew they ordered nesting materials and Lev promised the water and high carb omega heat meals by the end of the week.  Her eyes narrowed a little as she came to an understanding of where the younger omega’s annoyance was coming from. “Is it the inconvenience that is bothering you or something more?”

 

Yuuri shrugged.  Moving to the window, he watched Ren chase after Makkachin in the backyard.  Seeing the mud eke up their legs, he added wash the dogs to his mental chore list.  “I’m going to try to get ahead on my schoolwork.”

 

She hummed her assent to him, but watched him leave feeling the conversation unfinished.

 

He left her working on dinner and moved upstairs to his room.  He huffed unhappily before carrying his laptop...his Macbook Air...downstairs.  However, even with the computer, the pillows, the blankets, the living room didn’t settle him.  Yuuri knew where he had to go and walked down the short corridor to the beautiful room feeling still flustered.  It wasn’t until he sat in the middle of Victor’s bed that he could really focus. He groaned when he opened the topic of the week.   The Psychology of Heat and Ruts .  That was when he knew the universe was actually conspiring against him.

 

Closing his computer, he shuffled to the bathroom to splash water on his face.  Returning, he pulled out his phone and scanned through his messages. Phichit was back in Japan.  His sister finally forced their mother to go see the doctor for her headaches. It was just seasonal allergies but she had a sinus infection.  However, the lightheadedness that accompanied the headaches had Mari concerned. And then...Victor.

 

Victor/ I’m checked in here in Canada.  Call me when you get a chance. I don’t have skaters until morning.

 

Yuuri smiled, pulling up his contacts.  The call connected and he heard Victor’s voice purr across the line.  “Yuuri...I’m so glad you called.”

 

Yuuri couldn’t lie to himself that he was glad he had called, and thrilled that Victor had asked him to.  However, there was no reason to advertise that. “What’s up?”

 

“Nothing.  I’m bored.”  Victor’s voice was warm down the line.

 

Brown eyes rolled at the silly complaint.   I’ll show you bored.  I’m on lockdown and you’re at an international skating competition.   “Nikolai has pretty much grounded me to the house.  He doesn’t even want me to go do Wednesday lessons.”

 

“And?”  The voice changed from friendly chatter to sincere interest immediately.

 

Yuuri knew Victor would call...attempt to call Nikolai who had probably lost his phone again to find out where the older man’s concern was coming from.  It was better to be honest and assertive. “I think...I need to go in...if for no other reason than one more session with Abramovich.”

 

Victor was quiet for a moment.  “What’s going on?”

 

A hand smoothed over the sheet of the pillow next to him.   You sleep on this side.   “I’m having trouble...I can’t seem to bring myself to nest.  I’ve got the kit and it’s just sitting over in the corner ignored.”

 

Victor hummed thoughtfully, tapping his lip with his finger.  “You said he wouldn’t let you nest...could it be that?”

 

A single silver hair lifted up from the pillow case.  Yuuri rolled onto his back, examining the fiber as if he were seeing the man to which it belonged.  “Maybe? I don’t really think so.”

 

“Do you have a safe ride to the rink?”

 

Yuuri smiled.  “I think Mehar would give me a ride if Katya is unavailable.”

 

He could hear Victor thinking over the options through the phone.  Finally the alpha sighed, “I’d feel comfortable with either of those choices. When Mehar drove you last time, I noticed her driver was also an omega.”

 

“I think Bekarys prefers to give opportunities to omegas so they don’t have to settle.”

 

“I can appreciate that.  So what else do you have to do today?”

 

Yuuri smirked, tucking an arm behind his head and crossing his ankles.  “I’ve got to wash the dogs because someone let them out into the backyard to roam freely...it rained yesterday.”

 

“Bring them in through the utility room.  There is a dog shower with everything you need tucked into the corner.  It's a little higher and easier to handle.”

 

His eyes widened and Yuuri sat up, “How did I miss that?”

 

“The house is weird...things tucked away here and there.  How was your class last night?”

 

“Boris, the social worker, gave me a list of omega resources...including an omega advocacy service.”  He remembered the shock of learning all the options and legal venues he had available to him. Suddenly he really felt a need to have the alpha closer.  “I didn’t know things like that existed. I’m not sure if they do in Japan.”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

Yuuri rolled back over again, the confidence from a moment ago fading, and his hand reached for the sunken spot in the pillow on Victor’s side.  “Chris said he tried to find a way to get me out. I think if there was a way, he would have found it.”

 

“I think so, too.  But then again, they don’t share that information with alphas readily.  Some would use it against the omegas in their charge.” There was silence, the conversation taking an unexpected turn.  “I’m sorry.”

 

Yuuri furrowed his brow.  “Why?”

 

“I think I made you sad.”  Yuuri could hear the regret in the alpha's words and wanted to reassure him.

 

Yuuri shook his head before answering, “You didn’t make me sad...but I’ve been really off.  I think...I wonder if I could have gotten out sooner. Then again, I don’t think that kind of thinking helps me.  It just frustrates me further.”

 

“Let’s focus on the now.”  Victor inhaled, “You’re safe.  In Russia. And no alpha is going to hurt you.”

 

Yuuri smiled shyly, thinking of how Victor’s words calmed him.  He wanted to let the man in more, and he knew he really wanted to see that beautiful smile so he tapped on the the video at the base of the screen.  Within seconds Victor’s face appeared and the heart-shaped smile beamed from half a planet away.

 

“Yuuri.”  Victor said, in an attempt at being coy.

 

“Victor.”  Yuuri returned, with no attempt at all.  Leaning back he gave Victor a glance of his surroundings.

 

Victor peeked around him and raised an inquisitive eyebrow.  “Yuuri? Are you in my room?”

 

The omega’s shoulders hunched together before answering, “Y-yes...I tried several places and felt most settled here.  I think...it’s your scent?” He chewed his lip in uncertainty, afraid of Victor’s reaction.

 

Victor struggled to not beam back at him, but it was a fruitless effort.  Yuuri saw clearly that the alpha was proud as a peacock that the omega found refuge in his room.  “So my room helps you to relax. Maybe...you need something from my room...you know... for your nest?”

 

You .  Yuuri rubbed the back of his neck.  He’d already slipped a few things out of the master bedroom and up into a small stack in his room.  “Maybe...I…” He closed his eyes and drew himself inwards. Without opening, he began talking. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a good heat.  Even before...I went to live with him, I fought it...every inclination, the entire process, it was just another weakness, another thing to set me back, time lost in practice and performance.  And inside, I knew it was one more heat closer to him .  Like a countdown clock, reminding me that my time was running out.”  He exhaled, opening the brown eyes to see Victor’s blue focused on him, “I know...it’s supposed to be pleasurable.  I just...I don’t know how to get there.  Maybe...I am a bad omega, something is broken inside me.”

 

“No, Yuuri,” Victor answered, his voice gentle but firm.  “You are not a bad omega by any sense of the word. You were very young, heats are scary for every young omega, but as a culture we make it awkward for people to talk about it. And you had the additional burden that every heat reminded you that one day you would not be your own.  I’m sure you dreaded it…” He watched Yuuri nod in agreement. “And then when you were with him, he didn’t prioritize your pleasure.”

 

Yuuri huffed at that, eyes slipping from the screen.  “He said my pleasure was my responsibility...although he used my body for his own.”

 

Victor’s jaw tightened.  He wanted to be there, to hold Yuuri through this conversation, to let Yuuri hide in his neck and find strength in his scent, to run his hand up and down Yuuri’s back, his other hand grounding him, holding his hip.  But distance stretched out between them. “Pleasure is something a good couple works together to create. The best pleasure is selfless and derived from bringing the other to...ah...you know...orgasm.”

 

Yuuri peeked back at the screen, Victor’s nose and cheeks were tinted pink with his own blush.  While the omega knew his face was heated up at Victor’s words, it was reassuring that Victor felt equally embarrassed.  “This...got a little awkward,” Yuuri admitted, giggling nervously.

 

Victor laughed back, his hand going behind his neck.  “I guess so...sorry.”

 

The Japanese omega shrugged.  “I don’t mind.”

 

Victor cleared his throat and brought them back to the original topic.  “So...my room makes you feel more settled.”

 

Yuuri nodded, his fingers pushing his hair back behind his ears.  “It’s very cozy in here. I like the dark wood. Even though it’s a large space, it doesn’t feel cavernous.”

 

“I like to wrap myself in a warm fuzzy blanket when I’m struggling.  I think I kept that in mind when I decorated it.”

 

Yuuri blinked in amazement.  “You did this?”

 

“Mmmhmmm...every bit of it.  A lot of the house is built from what was here before, replacing what was worn but otherwise scrapped together from bits and pieces here and there.  You’ve seen those rooms. There is so much. And I didn’t want to waste. But for my room, it needed to be me. I like expensive but cozy expensive...not glitz but value.  So if I spent money on a piece, I asked myself if its richness reflected the price.”

 

He thought about the man, this was expensive, right down to the sheets with such a high thread count of soft, Egyptian cotton he wondered if Pharoah wove them himself.  But it was tasteful and understated in a way. However…“But you do have some...glitz? I mean, that bathroom…”

 

Victor chuckled.  “I remember when I picked out the stone.  They fussed about the existing tub and I told them to take it out.  That room...I knew I wanted to keep the shower but I decided it needed the jacuzzi tub as well.  With training, sometimes a good therapeutic soak helps. I tried to bring the personality of the bedroom into the bathroom.  But creating light with dark woods and stone...that was challenging. So I added reflective surfaces.”

 

“The copper…”

 

Victor’s smile widened, happy that Yuuri could appreciate the aesthetic he was going for, instead of just calling him a decadent aesthete...like Yelena had jokingly done often.  “ Da ...and the mirrors.  I mean, I could hang a painting over the tub but a mirror would carry the light through the room.”

 

“Oh...I never thought of a mirror as more than a means to check my appearance.”

 

Victor smiled as he thought about the room.  “There is a shelf across from the tub. It has a lot of candles on it.  Do this...light them all. Turn out the light. And then soak in that tub.  It reduces all of the external stimuli and allows me to relax when I can’t seem to slow down.”

 

I wish we could do that together.  Yuuri caught that thought and sat up a little tighter, “I will…”  Yuuri studied the man in the small screen of his phone. Victor definitely showed signs of homesickness, Yuuri saw.  The way he’d grab hold of everything Yuuri offered and built on it. “Maybe next trip, you should bring something of that fuzzy blanket with you,” Yuuri suggested.  “I carried comfort items when I traveled and skated.”

 

“I keep my Makkachin tissue box...but a fuzzy blanket would be nice.  I like that one on the sofa in the living room.” If only Yuuri could have read the alpha’s thought he would have heard, the one you wrap up in and your scent clings to the fiber.

 

“You should take it, then, when you travel.”

 

Victor sniffed, feeling his disconnect from the world so important to him.  “I hate traveling, being away from family and home. I bet you are surprised by that.”

 

Yuuri hummed as he thought about it but then shook his head.  “Not now...maybe before I knew you. But then, you were just my idol.  You were important, someone to reach for, but I didn’t have that personal connection.  Now I see how much of a homebody you are. You love being with your family and taking care of those you care about.”

 

The blue eyes held worry.  “And do you like me more now or before?”

 

Yuuri laughed at that thought.  “Now, of course. I never imagined how...sweet you would be.  I knew you were kind and encouraging. You always lifted others up around you and encouraged other skaters.  But...there is a softness to you.”

 

Victor blushed at the praise, his blue eyes slipping from the home.  His voice turned soft, and Yuuri heard something of what he must have sounded like when much younger.  “That’s why they thought I’d present as omega...then I didn’t present at all. We’d settled on beta. Alpha was surprising.”  He smiled and looked back at the screen, catching the brown eyes. “I like surprises but I wasn’t ready for that .  It really...made me think about how to define my identity.  I...several of my lovers before, I’d receive. I didn’t know how I’d feel about being on top.  My boyfriend at the time of my presentation wasn’t...he acted like I’d deceived him, hid away my gender.  We ended up breaking up but we both lived in the dorms. He wouldn’t quit messing with me...and all I wanted to do was skate.  That’s when I moved home for the summer and talked to my father about what I should do. Papa...he didn’t necessarily approve of my choices as he saw it but he supported me .  He always wanted me to be in a safe place.  So...I ended up here.”

 

Yuuri took in all of this new information with quiet consideration.  Closing his eyes, he couldn’t keep the nagging question in place.  Opening his eyes, he murmured, “You...prefer men.”

 

Victor nodded.

 

“Always?”

 

Victor slowly nodded, looking away from those brown eyes studying him, feeling naked under his scrutiny.

 

“Yelena…”

 

The blue eyes shot back to Yuuri’s.  “Was my best friend...our story is complicated and only a few people know the details.”

 

Yuuri felt his eyes falling away, “If you don’t want to tell me…”

 

“I want to tell you...it’s just hard.”  Victor closed his eyes as he organized his thoughts and found his words.  “I had been just out of a relationship with another asshole. Chris called me a bum magnet...if there was a bum within a hundred meters of me, I’d be completely attracted to them.”  He smiled, shrugging. “That was then. I liked the bad boys. But then Yelena happened. She had been dating her own asshole...and he hurt her. Physically. She showed up at my house bruised up and asked to stay.  She moved into your room upstairs and we kept talking. Neither of us wanted a relationship at that point. We each had a bad taste in our mouths...and I learned she had something more to protect. That abusive lover had gotten her pregnant.  It wasn’t planned...they wore protection, she took birth control...but still, she was pregnant. She didn’t want him to have any claim on her child. So...she proposed we get married. I thought she was crazy. We’d always been close, like brother and sister...but never lovers.  I mean...she wasn’t exactly my type. And truth be told, I wasn’t hers.” A faint smile crossed his lips, remembering the friend that became his mate in a very different sense than what most would term it, but one that worked for them. “But we did this...and I never regretted it.  We married...she became my mate...we had Yura and made a family. My parents don’t know the details but both Nikolai and Olga know. Katya knows. Yakov and Lilia know. Chris knows. Those are the only ones. Everyone else assumes Yura is mine and that’s how we wanted it. He’s safe this way.”

 

Yuuri remained silent as he digested all of the information Victor shared with him.  That...was his big secret. Then again, he now held so much of Yuuri’s past in his hand.  “I won’t say anything,” Yuuri murmured.

 

“I know...one day I will tell Yura but not until he’s past the age where that man can hurt him.  But I really felt like I should tell you.”

 

Yuuri nodded.  They had moved into a level of intimacy that Yuuri craved but now didn’t know what to do with it.  Something had slipped in that went beyond the intimacy of companionship, beyond sex, even. Licking his lips, he swallowed.  “Victor…”

 

“Will you...call me Vitya?” the older man murmured.

 

He feels it, too...this shift in closeness.  Yuuri nodded, the name coming off of his lips in a whisper.  “Vitya…” He wanted to feel the older man’s arms around him. He wanted to bury himself into the alpha’s scent.  “I think we need to talk when you get home. But...I don’t know if we can.” Yuuri huffed. “My fuckin’ heat.”

 

“Yuuri,” Victor murmured gently.  “We’ve got time.”

 

“I don’t want…”  He flung himself back into the pillow.  “I’ve lost enough time. I’m not interested in losing any more.  I guess...I’m impatient.”

 

The alpha’s chuckle reverberated around him.  Yuuri knew he was being petulant. But he could feel himself on the cusp of something and he was having to hold himself back when he wanted to teeter over the edge.

 

“Yuuriiii...I needed this talk so much.”

 

Victor’s voice pulled him from his thoughts.  Yuuri looked at the phone, examining the face he found there.  The silver hair looked a little ruffled, and the shadows under the eyes gave away his fatigue.  “Are you okay?”

 

Victor nodded.  “Just homesick. We haven’t been able to really just talk since I’ve been here.  Everything was with purpose.”

 

“I love our talks,” Yuuri murmured.

 

They continued to talk softly about family, about the rink, about Yuuri’s worries with his heat and Victor’s struggles with being away from home until Victor drifted off to sleep.  Even then, Yuuri watched him for awhile, the lines of his face softened with sleep. Finally he disconnected the call, leaning back, his hand on his heart.

 





Victor’s talk settled Yuuri enough to emerge from the space (carrying a basket full of scented additions for his nest).  He went up the stairs with purpose and finally opened up the first bundle of nesting materials.  I can’t nest in your room and I can’t bring you up in this space.  That’s really the problem. However, I’ll infuse this room with as much of you as I can.

 

He was putting the finishing touches to his nest, having wound fabric and pillows together in a tangle, tucking in clothes and towels that still held Victor’s scent into the crevices, when small feet came running up the stairs.  Yuuri smiled as he thought about the little boy about to tumble through his door. Sure as predicted, Yura pushed open the door but stopped at the entrance, taking in the changes in his room.

 

“What’s that?” he asked, not even bothering to contain his curiosity.  The little blonde advanced on the bed, eyes widening as he looked over the configuration.

 

“It’s a nest,” Yuuri answered.  He could feel an amused smile settle on his face.  How much he loved this little boy.

 

He scrunched his face up as he thought about it.  “Like a bird?”

 

Yuuri thought of the connection, not too far off.  “Somewhat...it can also be similar to a den. It’s a safe place for moms to care for their young.  It’s also a place where moms and dads make their babies.”

 

“Are you going to have a baby?!!” Yura asked, his eyes dancing with excitement as he bounced on the balls of his feet.

 

Yuuri laughed softly.  He anticipated that question.  “No...but the instinct is still strong.  So...I make a nest once every few months.”

 

Yura came around the bed holding the structure, studying the way the fabric wound around the cushions.  “Can I sit inside?”

 

Yuuri hummed thinking of all of the smells Yura brought with him from school.  “Maybe...after your bath tonight. We can sit in the nest and have story time. Does that sound like fun?”

 

Yura nodded eagerly.

 

“Now, go get your dance gear together.  Mehar wants to take Zaina to ballet and asked if I could join her to help her understand the process.”

 

“Is Beka coming?”  The green eyes sparkled with anticipation.

 

Yuuri suppressed his smile, thinking that Beka was becoming a quick favorite.  “Maybe later. Mehar doesn’t want to overschedule them all at once. So they were allowed to add one thing.  Beka chose skating and Zaina dance.”

 

Yura’s face scrunched in confusion.  “But I can do both.”

 

“Yes, Yura.  It’s time to add both.  If you start struggling, we can adjust our decision later.”

 

“Papa decided?”

 

“Yes...after we talked about it earlier.”  Yuuri stepped free from the nest and took the little hand, walking him across the hall to his own room.  “When I was your age I had three things I enjoyed...piano, dance, and skating. I’d spend two days skating, two days dancing, and piano would be Wednesday.  I would like to ease you into those things for a short period and then you can decide what you like most.”

 

“What did you like most?”  Yura pulled his bag for dance out, loading it with dance wear and soft soled shoes.

 

Yuuri sat on the small bed, watching the little blonde work.  “Skating...but dancing was a close second. I still played piano but it was more for understanding the music behind my programs.”

 

“Will you teach me?”  He went to pull a pair of tiger striped leggings from the hamper but stopped and put them back in the laundry when he caught the stern look from his omega.

 

Yuuri smiled, thinking he would have to make sure to find Yura more pieces of animal print.  “What I know...and then if you want to know more, we’ll find a teacher for you.”

 

The little boy hummed in acceptance before zipping his dance bag closed and slinging it over his shoulder.  Soon, Yuuri had him downstairs putting his coat back on before grabbing his own from the closet. Mehar arrived and as Yuuri sat next to her, she studied him critically.

 

“You are going to have a hard heat,” she pronounced.

 

Yuuri raised an eyebrow and muttered, “Thanks.”

 

She chuckled softly.  “Let me bring you to my house after the class and see if we can fix you a proper tea to help with your symptoms.”

 

“Yeeesss, please.”  Yuuri practically melted at the thought of anything herbal that could take his heat and the symptoms down a notch.

 

Once they released their babies for lessons, Mehar followed Yuuri to a quiet corner where they could talk.  “What’s going on?”

 

“I did finally build my nest...but it was with great reluctance.”

 

She hummed as she thought about it.  “Rohan struggles with nesting. It’s like his nature fights against his mind.  He doesn’t like the sex. But his body demands it. Our husband...he is good to Rohan...gives him the space he needs until he needs more.”  She flicked curious eyes to his face. “Do you...like the sex?”

 

Yuuri frowned as he thought about it.  “I...don’t know. It was always with him ...and I didn’t like him .”

 

“Maybe...you just want your alpha.  He is far away.”

 

Yuuri bit his lip, a yes on the tip of his tongue but then doubt crept back in.  “He’s...not really mine.”

 

She tilted her head, her lips pursed as she repressed the need to argue.  “Maybe...not physically...maybe the words haven’t been spoken...but I’d be surprised if the two of you weren’t together within the month.  Your both vibrate on the same frequency...that’s what Rohan says. Bekarys and his first mate were like that.”

 

Yuuri considered the woman in front of him.  She spoke so openly about her life, “Was it hard...being second?”

 

She thought about it before shaking her head slowly.  “No...but she was very kind. Like...a big sister. She protected us.  Not everyone is so lucky.”

 

Yuuri thought about how he’d taken to talking to Yelena.  Little permissions, questions of guidance. A big sister. Then he remembered how Victor said that the two of them were like siblings.   What would Yelena say to me?

 

“So how do I make peace with my heat?”

 

“You fight it...it’s not what you want, not when you want it...being separated from your Victor doesn’t help.  Maybe...you need to read the Kama Sutra .”

 

Yuuri’s eyes widened, shaking his head in protest.  “The sex book? I...don’t know.”

 

She smiled and began to giggle, a light girlish laugh, “It isn’t what people think!  Not just a manual on sex. It is the art of living. I can loan it to you.”

 

He blushed at his cultural blunder.  “Is it in English?”

 

She hummed as she thought about it before nodding.  “I believe so. If not, we’ll find you a good version to download from the internet.”

 

“Thank you.”

 




Yuuri walked into his home following after Yura who raced into the kitchen.  I really should talk to him about running in the house.  He carried a small tote that held both a book and tea.  He would join the others soon but for now he decided to stash his treasures.

 

Running upstairs, he smirked.   No wonder Yura runs in the house.  He tucked the book in the nesting materials, and put the tea canister over by the electric tea kettle he’d picked up while Phichit was home.  Glancing over at the nest, he shrugged. I suppose it isn’t too bad.

 




Later that evening, Yuuri curled up around the little boy after putting the story books on the nightstand.  Victor’s scent wound around him and the child and Yuuri began to feel content, a purr vibrating through him as he started to fade into sleep.  Yura snuggled closer, happy to fall asleep safe and secure in his mother’s nest.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 28:   Shards of pottery

 

Yuuri leaned back into the seat as Katya drove them to the rink.  Her piercing blue eyes glanced over in concern several times as she negotiated through the midday traffic.  He tried to ignore her searching look to stave off conversation. The Japanese omega felt more and more frazzled each passing day and on this day in particular, he was scratching at his arms and tugging at his sleeves.  He didn’t say much, leaving it up to Katya to fill the silence.

 

“Pyotr returned home but oddly has been avoiding me.”  She glanced his way and waited for a comment, Yuuri shifted in his seat, his eyes darting around.  She sighed, unsure if he heard her. “I don’t know if he’s mad or just busy.”

 

“Busy.  Two coaches gone.”  He winced at the shortness of his words.  The words came out terse and coarser than he’d like but he was just holding himself together as the heat approached.

 

Katya continued, pretending she didn’t notice Yuuri’s different tone.  In truth she was talking to herself as much as to Yuuri. Her relationship with Pyotr had changed and she couldn’t put a finger on why or when, but she knew she didn’t like the change.  “I thought so, too. But I figured he’d at least text. Maybe he’ll be there today and I can catch up during Mila’s lesson.”

 

Yuuri nodded, twisting, glancing back at Yura who remained oddly quiet, his green eyes watching Yuuri with caution.  Finally, they pulled up to park and Yuuri helped the little boy out of the SUV. Mila skipped beside her sister chatting away.

 

Entering the building, several eyes turned their way.  Katya was startled by the attention but Yuuri didn’t notice, his eyes down, his fingers tugging at his sleeve.  Georgi, however, turned from the crowd to look their way and thinned his lips. Cutting across the lobby, he met them.

 

“Perhaps you should go home, Yuuri,” he began, his voice gentle but even, holding the authority of being the one in charge.

 

Yuuri looked up panicked.  “Why...what did I…”

 

Georgi sighed, his eyes glancing around before leaning in to murmur, “You’re too close to your heat and we have young alphas edging off of your scent and pheromones.”

 

Yuuri looked around the lobby of the rink.  It wasn’t scary, but it was terribly overwhelming.  He could see some of the younger skaters, alphas, clenching their fists and quickly pulling their skates on and moving away.  Other omegas were looking at him with sympathy while pulling their confused children closer. The atmosphere of the lobby changed quickly, however he was reluctant to leave.  “I...didn’t realize. I’m supposed to meet Dr. Abramovich.”  He could hear the helplessness in his voice and winced inwardly.

 

“I’ll explain the situation,” Georgi promised, nodding towards the door.  Looking towards Katya, he asked, “Can you take him home?  I’ll bring the children after I finish up.”

 

She nodded, glancing wide-eyed between the two.  Finally, she guided Yuuri outside and to her car.  She could see his frustration with the situation.  As she climbed in to sit next to Yuuri, he muttered, “I hate my heat.”

 




Yuuri watched the little boy skip after his grandfather feeling pretty useless.  He’d been unable to see to Yura’s lesson, the homework written in Cyrillic and more complex than Yuuri could work out.  He’d struggled waking up the next morning, Yura already dressed and sitting at breakfast when Yuuri joined him. And now, he watched Nikolai taking Yura to school.

 

Yuuri hated feeling useless.  As he watched the others around him, he couldn’t help but mutter, “I hate my heat.”

 

He gathered his laptop and the book borrowed from Mehar and went to Victor’s room to curl up in his bed.  However, he spent more time sleeping than working. Olga finally nudged him awake with the suggestion he come eat, only to watch as he picked at his meal.  The aches were now accompanied by nausea.  About all he could handle was the tea provided by his friend or broths.  But Olga insisted on solid food.

 

After lunch, he moved to his room and didn’t wake up again before dinner.  Which meant he missed his entire afternoon with Yura. This did more than unsettle the omega.  He wanted to cry.  He barely ate but listened intently to the little boy telling him about his day.

 

“...and Beka told the teacher that omegas were just as strong as alphas, just in different ways...is that true, Yuuri?”

 

Yuuri didn’t feel that way at the moment.  His heat left him feeling beaten.  But he found a smile and nodded.  Thankfully, Yura didn’t require a verbal reply because he picked up from there with his next story.

 

After dinner, Yuuri followed Yura up the stairs and helped him with his bath.  He hated the slowness in his movements while the little boy splashed around in the tub.  “Can I sleep with you tonight, Yuuri?” the little blond asked him.

 

“Umm, sure.  Get your books.”  He could feel his exhaustion along with his aches and pains but didn’t want to give up any time with the child. Soon they were curled up in bed and Yuuri read through three books and was picking up a fourth when he noticed the little boy was asleep, his head resting on Yuuri’s chest.  He buried his nose in the blonde fluff and inhaled deeply. The boy’s scent did much to settle him, even if it couldn’t battle the aches and nausea it helped him feel more connected to the boy.

 




Yuuri blinked up in disoriented surprise when Olga entered his room.  She was speaking in hushed sentences to Yura who was getting up and reaching for her.  It took a few more minutes for Yuuri to realize he’d overslept. Yura had to go to school.  He tried to pull himself out of bed but the aches were stronger, and insisted that he remained where he was.

 

Olga noticed, waving at him to stay in bed, a frown of worry on her lips.  “Stay, Yuuri Toshiyavich.  We can handle the boy.” And then she was gone.

 




Later, Yuuri was gathering Yura’s things for the rink, thinking of how he had missed the ice himself, when Nikolai sighed and came to sit next to him.  “It’s hard when our body limits us. I remember when I couldn’t hold things in my head so well and had to eventually change careers. Thankfully, Vitya was there to help me out.  It’s okay, Yuuri, to let go and take care of yourself.”

 

Yuuri knew the older man was trying to be helpful, fatherly even, but his stubborn will had him battling his nature.  “I feel like I’m putting my responsibilities on everyone else,” Yuuri pouted.

 

Nikolai put a had on Yuuri’s shoulder.  “And I understand how you feel. But...we don’t mind.  At some point, you will have to cover for us. However, for now...I think you need to stay home and focus on yourself.”

 

Yuuri leaned back against the wall, his expression miserable.  “Maybe if I could just move around…”

 

“Go out back to that room...when Yelena could no longer go to the studio with Vitya, she retreated to that room in the back of the house.  But you need to stay home and inside.” He looked at Yuuri, waiting for the brown eyes to reach his. “I would worry if you left.”

 

Yuuri blinked at those words.  “You...would?”

 

Nikolai’s smile spread across his face.  The gruff older man seldom offered one, and that made this all the more meaningful.  “Of course...we all worry for those we care about. You’re a part of this family.”

 

“I haven’t been here long,” Yuuri protested softly.

 

Nikolai took Yura’s bag from Yuuri’s hand and lead him away from the door.  “Time doesn’t make one family...you just are. Rest today. Dance...like my Yelena.  Make yourself eat something...but stay home.”

 

Yuuri sighed in resignation but allowed himself to be pulled into a hug, the old man was right but Yuuri hated to admit it.  He wanted his freedom back...he wanted to move and go as pleased.

 




Victor watched Shuji as security escorted him from the event, watched as his pass was pulled, credentials revoked.  The egotist didn’t fight, in some odd twist to preserve his status, Shuji acted as if this were some silly misunderstanding.  The other officials, including a few judges, seemed to smile politely but everyone maintained a distance from him. It was Saturday and Victor had two more days before he could return home.  He’d been talking with Yuuri...but what concerned him more was what everyone else was telling him. They were all worried about the omega.

 

Olga was worried he was losing weight again.  Yuuri was playing with his food and always sleeping.  Nikolai commented that Yuuri was struggling with moving around and yet was restless.  Katya told Victor about Yuuri being sent home from the rink on Wednesday. That prompted him to call Georgi who said that several skaters and local coaches were complaining about his affect on the alpha’s at the rink...but trying not to.  Georgi was quick to point out that they didn’t want to make the omega feel bad but they couldn’t focus with him near.

 

But what alarmed him the most was the depression he could see settling around Yuuri in a miasma of despair.  And now, Shuji’s quick dismissal from ISU would be popping up in press alerts. He picked up his phone to call his friend.  “Chris, I need a favor.”

 

“What can I do for you?”

 

Victor sighed, he’d already read the press leaks and suppositions.  “Security escorted Shuji out of here...and the press has already leaked that he’s been suspended due to suspicion of sexual misconduct with a skater.  I need someone to look out for Yuuri, to deliver the news in person...and to make sure he is okay.”

 

Chris hummed in agreement.  “I wish Phichit were here.” He drummed his fingers as he thought about the situation.  “I can’t stay...not this close to his heat. But I will go talk to him.”

 

“Thank you.”

 




Chris could feel something off in the house when he entered.  Olga had given him a warning look as she led him into the living to wait for Yuuri.  But as he heard the light feet pad down the stairs, Chris felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise immediately as the omega’s scent filled the room heavily, hitting him in waves.   Fuck!  Chris curled his fists into tight balls on his thighs, breathing deeply and trying focus his thoughts.

 

His eyes took in the omega as he entered.  Yuuri was dressed in leggings, dance shoes and a tank.  His arms showed evidence of scratching and he could see dark blotches, hives.  His hair was disheveled and Chris worried Yuuri wasn’t taking good care of himself.

 

Chris stayed seated on the couch, keeping his voice even and steady, “Victor sent me to check on you.”

 

Yuuri shrugged, looking away, chewing his lip.  “I’m okay.”

 

“I’m not sure that you are.”  He felt something protective welling up in him.  It wasn’t...attraction. Yuuri was family and he wanted to make sure he was safe.   Thank god, my alpha just wants to protect him.  With a soft voice, he asked,  “Yuuri, when is your heat hitting?”

 

“I-I’m not sure,” he tumbled, tears breaking free, hysteria edging into his voice.  “It’s supposed to be Wednesday or Thursday. I don’t think I’m going to make it.” He hugged himself, his eyes moving to a picture of Victor and Chris suddenly understood.  Yuuri was worried that Victor wouldn’t be home for his heat.

 

“How long?”

 

“Maybe...Monday...Tuesday at latest.”  Then his eyes widened. “Our waivers!”

 

Chris rose from the couch, he knew his reaction to Yuuri’s heat wasn’t a primal drive, or if it was, it was of a brother and he no longer feared himself.  “Don’t worry, Yuuri...if you make it to Monday, you’ll be fine legally.”

 

Yuuri nodded, hugging himself once more and unconsciously rocking himself.  “I-if I can’t give them to Victor, promise me that you will do so.”

 

“I promise,” Chris murmured.  Then he took one step closer, stopping.  He looked at the younger man in earnest. “Don’t leave this house, Yuuri.  Okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded, a whine slipping from his lips.  As Chris left, Yuuri moved back into Victor’s room, seeking something with a stronger scent remaining.  He dug through Victor’s closet and then smiled with satisfaction. Pajamas .  They had to have been worn the night before Victor left.  He could smell remnants of Yura on them, his own scent brushed over the surface in passing, but mainly Victor’s scent, unchecked like the scent in his room.  He hugged his prize to his chest and slipped out of Victor’s room, running up the stairs to bury them in his nest.

 




Chris called Victor and waited patiently for the man to answer.  Finally, on the third ring, Victor picked up. “Not a good time, Chris.”  His eyes were on his skater and watched as Dmitry stepped forward to sort out the problem, waving at Victor not to worry.

 

“I know...but you need to get home.”

 

Chris’ tone grabbed all of his attention and he turned his back to the ice.  “What do you mean?”

 

“Yuuri...he’s going to hit his heat sooner than projected...and he’s not reacting to your absence well.  I think he will fight it until you arrive but he’s starting to unravel. He’s very anxious and I can see signs that he hasn’t been taking as good of care of himself.”

 

The alpha thinned his lips as he considered his options.  “I need to talk to Dmitry and my skaters. Thanks Chris for letting me know.”

 





Sunday morning, Victor stood waiting for his flight.  It had been an expensive ticket but it would get him home to Yuuri in the shortest amount of time, which was his only concern.  Dmitry assured him he could handle the skaters. His skaters told him to go home to his mate. My mate.  Victor knew he couldn’t deny it any longer.

 

The flight took forever and Victor had to fight to keep his worry and anxious thoughts under control.  The idea of Yuuri struggling without him...he hated it.  I didn’t know I affected you this much, solnyshko.  I didn’t know my being away during your preheat would make you anxious.   They’d barely kissed...and Yuuri didn’t even remember the kiss.  But so many shared touches and embraces, casual almost unconscious scenting, and words offering near promises to one another...they added up to one conclusion.   Mate .

 

Victor walked through the door of his home late Sunday evening.  He found Yuuri in the living room reading to his son, the little boy rubbing the back of his head into Yuuri’s chest as he praised Yuuri’s efforts.  It was then that he realized Yuuri was reading...Russian. Had he been gone so long?

 

Green and brown eyes both looked up as he entered the room.  “Papa” was echoed by “Vitya” between the two owners. And then Yura was launching off of the sofa, running into his arms.  Victor scooped him up and stood. His eyes rested on the omega who stood nearby, shy, but arms clearly wanting to reach out.  With his free arm, Victor pulled Yuuri in, leaning his cheek on the dark head, Yuuri’s scent washing over him. He now realized what people were trying to say.  Yuuri was calling out to him with his scent and that call had remained unanswered. “I’m sorry I was gone so long.”

 

“H-how are you here?” Yuuri asked softly.

 

“I’ll explain in a little bit.  Why don’t I put Yura to bed?”

 

Yuuri nodded and it was then Victor noticed the unconscious, nervous scratching, the torn and reddened skin, the hair tugged and worried, nails chewed into the quick, and lips dry and broken from biting.

 

Oh, my Yuuri.   “I’ll be back down soon.  Wait for me?”

 

Yuuri nodded and Victor carried his son up the stairs with confident steps.  He should have known Yura wouldn’t be easy to extricate himself from. “ Two stories,” he insisted.  Victor complied. It was quicker to give in than argue...and his son needed him, too.  Yuuri would disapprove if he didn’t see to his son’s needs.

 

Finally back downstairs, he found Yuuri curled up on the sofa.  Clutched to his chest was Victor’s scarf, the one he wore home. A blanket stretched over that body.  Asleep.

 

Victor knelt down and smoothed his hair, his wrists scenting him and watching the omega relax to his touch, to his smell.  “I’m so sorry,” Victor murmured. “So very sorry I haven’t been here for you.”

 

Yuuri’s brown eyes opened.  “Need...you,” he barely whispered.  Victor eased Yuuri into his lap, felt Yuuri curl into his scent even as he continued to slide his wrist over Yuuri, his hand sliding beneath the fabric of his shirt.  He knew legally he shouldn’t but legalities be damned. This was what Yuuri needed. And Victor could feel the realization coming over him that he needed this too.

 

He didn’t know how long they’d been curled up together scenting one another, Yuuri's hands unconsciously knotting into his shirt then under his shirt, seeking contact.  Victor knew there was a very present danger of the omega slipping into heat any moment and needed to get Yuuri to a safe place.  “Let me put you to bed,” Victor said softly. Yuuri nodded as Victor lifted him, the form lighter than what Victor remembered. You have lost weight.   He carried Yuuri up the stairs, the small body tucked in against his neck breathing him in, and pushed open the door with his elbow. Studying the structure of the finally finished nest, he carefully laid the omega within its walls, cautious to not disturb it.  He could see half of his own wardrobe tucked into the folds. Yuuri continued to clutch the scarf, brown eyes moving up to Victor’s. Yuuri’s lips parted, a hand reached up from the nest, gently touching Victor’s cheek.  The older man shuddered at the contact, everything in him screaming to stay, comfort the omega in anyway he could want. The alpha saw the want there and knew he couldn’t stay. But he also knew...he couldn’t leave without leaving part of himself behind.  He reached for his shirt, pulling it over his head and tucked it into the nest, his wrist sliding over part of the surface.  Leaning forward, he brushed a kiss into Yuuri’s hairline.  He knew better than to go near those lips although his thumb brushed over them, Yuuri turning his cheek into his touch as he stood back up.  He knew he had to leave, Yuuri's body already slipping over the edge, panting and radiating heat.  Reaching for the remote to the scent locks, he placed it in Yuuri’s reach. “I’ll keep you safe.”  It was a promise and Victor intended to keep it.

 

As he left the room securing the door behind him, he heard the locks engage.  He’d barely made it home.  Looking up at the clock, it was five after midnight.  Monday morning.

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 29:  I burn with thoughts of you…

 

Victor entered his room and was instantly surrounded with the sense of Yuuri.  His scent, his pheromones, the wrinkles his body left in the bed. You wanted to nest here.  That’s why you fought it so hard.  Your next heat...I promise. If that’s what you want, you will have it.

 

He could feel his rut demanding release but Victor had to take care of things, make sure his son was with Nikolai, ensure Yuuri was indeed safe, have rut rations delivered, inform Olga...she always went to her sister’s during his ruts.  He had a text from Chris saying he would stop by in the morning. He started to put his friend off but then the words by Yuuri’s request went across the screen.

 

He undressed, slipping into his shower.  As the water rained down on him, he imagined Yuuri in this room, showering off, stretching out in the tub.   I want to know you here...in my spaces.  I want to hold you as you soak in the tub, support your body as I wash you off in the shower...after we make love.   He didn’t realize until it was too late that his hand had reached for his dick.  Jerking it away, he groaned, switching the shower temp to cold. He had to hold it together a little while longer.

 

In fresh pajamas, he carried his laundry into the utility room and started sorting it into piles.  Dry cleaning, lights, and darks. He put the first load in. Olga would see to the dry cleaning before she left.

 

He returned to the living room and hesitated.   If I shut myself into my room, I’ll be in rut before morning.  There is too much Yuuri in there. He checked his phone.  It was one in the morning.   Olga will be up at five.  He decided on the recliner; pulling out a book he began reading.

 

He must have dozed off when he heard his son’s bare feet on the floor headed towards his room, a whimper cutting through the air.  “I’m in here, mal’chik moy .”  Soon those feet were carrying him into the living room and then Yura was in his lap.  Victor pulled the blanket off the stool nearby and draped it over the boy. “There you go.  It’s okay. Did you have a bad dream?”

 

Yura nodded.  “I dreamed Yuuri was sick and going to die.  Like Mama. But...then I couldn’t get in his room.  Even when I was crying.” He sniffed dramatically. “Why wouldn’t Yuuri open his door?”

 

Victor closed his eyes thinking about just how much to tell a five-year-old.  He edged in, wanting to know what the child had picked up already. “Because he is in heat, Yura...do you know what that is?”

 

He nodded slowly before shaking his head.  “I only know that’s how you get babies. I heard Yuuri say the word and asked Beka about it.”

 

“Which is true but there is a lot more to it than that.  The most important part is that Yuuri needs privacy. So you are going to stay with Grandpa for the next few days.  I know Yuuri would be worried about you otherwise and wouldn’t be able to see to his own care.”

 

Yura mulled over this information before perking up his head and asking a little too eagerly, “Is Yuuri going to get another baby in his belly?”

 

Victor chuckled, hugging his son close to his heart.   Because of course you would go there .  “Not this time, miliy moy .  Babies take a mama and a papa.  And even then, there is no guarantee.  Making babies is a very complicated process.”

 

Victor finally settled the boy to sleep a little longer in his lap and he dozed off as well.  His presence must have startled Olga, for she cried out when she entered the living room and saw him curled up in the recliner.  He smiled weakly towards his housekeeper.

 

“Sorry,” he murmured.  “I’m about to go into rut and sleeping in my own bed would have sealed my fate.”  She nodded with understanding. She would have noticed Yuuri escaping into his room.  Nothing got by that woman. “I have things to arrange before then.”

 

She huffed in exasperation.  “Why didn’t you say anything?  I could have had Lev delivered your supplies with Yuuri’s!”

 

“I wasn’t thinking, to be honest,” he answered with a slight shrug so as not to disturb his son.  “I just knew I needed to get back here.”

 

She sighed as she pulled out her phone.  “I’ll contact Lev. He’s getting ready to pick up his morning supplies.  Maybe he’ll move us up on the list for deliveries.” She walked off grumbling about lack of communication.  Victor smiled as he settled in to sleep another hour. That one conversation accomplished several items off of his list.

 

Two hours later, after a hearty breakfast for both of them, Victor saw Yura out the door.  He needed to pack up his son’s belongings for his stay in Nikolai’s apartment. However, as he drew closer to his son’s bedroom door, he could hear panting through the opposite door.   Fuck!  And then his name came from those lips.  Victor closed his eyes and imagined himself beyond that door, wrapped around Yuuri’s cock...and it was a good thing the door was locked.  Still, he scented the door thoroughly once more before turning to Yura’s room. No one else is allowed to enter that space.

 

Half an hour later, he had a suitcase with several outfits in order as well as a few favorite toys and books.  He frowned as he looked for one last thing...the ballerina tiger...but she remained hidden.

 

Maybe his son would be okay without it.

 

He heard Olga call up to him and he went down to greet Lev.  “Thanks for getting this to me on such short notice.”

 

“I keep heat and rut supplies kitted up.  This is early for you, however,” the grocer observed.

 

Victor grimaced, his glance going towards the stairs.

 

“Ah, the bigger Yuri’s heat.  I should have known.” Turning to Olga, he asked, “Are you about ready?”

 

“Yes, my bag’s in here,” she huffed.

 

Interesting.  So Olga isn’t going to her sister’s this time.  He watched her lug her bag towards the door and Lev fuss over her, trying to take the bag and her stubborn refusal, holding onto her independence defiantly.  He’d like to see them both together. She seemed reluctant and Victor always worried if it was because she felt she needed to look out for him. Would this house be too much for Yuuri?  It wasn’t like they couldn’t hire someone else...but finding the right person was always tricky.  Although he would willingly let Olga go, he also knew it would be with a heavy heart.

 

As they left, Victor decided to shower while he waited for his friend.  His scent was overpowering and Chris might sense aggression on him. Chris promised to stop by around nine and he knew the Swiss attorney would see his way in if Victor didn’t answer the door.  The house was secure but Victor’s closest friend had a key.

 

Showered off, he chose loose pants.  He could already feel arousal settling in his stomach, his rut near, waiting for Victor to release his control.  He then moved the supplies into his room. He just needed to deal with Chris. He began walking the house, scenting the entrances.  It was a warning. Rutting alpha within.  It was also a protection for his Yuuri.  The alpha would be sensitive towards anything that didn’t belong, be it sound or scent, during his rut.

 

He heard the doorbell and was halfway there, when he heard Chris’ voice ring out.  “Vitya?”

 

“I’m here.”  He met Chris in the kitchen.  “I was just securing the house.”

 

Chris took one look at his friend and shook his head.  “You’re a mess.”

 

Victor’s hands unconsciously fluttered to his hair, trying to smooth it in order.  (It was fine but the comment made him self-conscious.) “I know...I had to put Yuuri to bed last night.  He slipped into heat soon after.”

 

Chris nodded in sympathy.  “I’m glad you’re here. He was in bad shape.  I’m not even sure he realized he was holding it off.  Did he...hold off until Monday?”

 

Victor nodded, appreciative of his friend’s observations and frowning at the odd question.   Monday?  Why Monday?  Still, he confirmed the schedule for his friend.  “Just barely. Thanks for calling me. What do you have for me?”

 

“Some legal documents.  Yuuri wanted me to put them in your care.”

 

Victor took the packet and frowned when he saw both his own and Yuuri’s name on the envelope.  “I’ll put them up until he’s out…”

 

Chris rubbed the back of his neck.  “He sort of wanted you to read them.”

 

Victor thinned his lips and nodded.  He closed his eyes as he felt another wave of nausea wash over him.  “I...don’t have much time.”

 

“I know.  I’m gone...but read those documents.”  He shifted back and forth before he added, “I didn’t get a chance to tell him.  You know...about Shuji.”

 

Victor nodded sharply.  He’ll deal with that when Yuuri emerges.  Perhaps it was for the best. It might have added more stress to Yuuri’s heat.

 

As Chris left, Victor sealed up that door.  The only way in at this point was through Nikolai’s apartment.  He set Yura’s things near the entrance. If Nikolai or Yura entered, it wouldn’t disturb the pair...their scents belonged to the house.  But Victor didn’t want them to have to if avoidable.

 

Turning towards his room, he disappeared into the space Yuuri prepared for him.  The scent greeted him like a long lost friend. He closed his eyes and relinquished control.

 




Yuuri whined as images fought with one another.  Memories of Shuji forcing its way onto Yuuri warred with his desire for Victor.  The underlying common factor was fear. Please Vitya...I...need you.  Victor made him feel safe...even when he was scared, he knew deep inside he was safe with Victor.   Victor’s home.  He came home early.  Did he do that for me?

 

He turned into the scarf and buried himself into the scent, remembering how the man held onto him, scented him, carried him to bed.  Yuuri wanted him to stay. Why didn’t he stay?  Something inside told him it wasn’t the right time but he couldn’t reconcile it with the desire pulsating through him for the alpha.  Reaching down, he began stroking himself as he imagined himself stretched out along Victor’s body. He could almost feel Victor’s hand on his back, soft whispered words and promises and endearments.   Vitya…

 




Nikolai arrived after taking care of Yura and running his own errands.  Basic groceries to feed them both from his tiny kitchen. He should have prepared better.  He could have made piroshkis and just reheated them over the next few days. He entered his door into the main house and walked through.  Sure enough, he found Yura’s things just beyond the entrance.

 

He tugged the suitcase to the twin bed tucked into an alcove , a window of stained diamond shaped glass panes provided some privacy.  Pulling back the curtains, he began unpacking Yura’s bag.  There were already toys tucked away here and there. He placed the books on the shelf and found a working lamp and nightlight.  The clothes were hung in a nearby closet with socks and underwear in a basket on the floor. Once satisfied, he moved onto the next task.

 

Victor trusted him to keep things in order when he was unable to be there for his family...that included the animals that joined the household along the way.  He searched through the main house and found all of the critters. Two dogs and three cats. Now in his small attached apartment, they crowded around the small gas heater.  Nikolai grunted. He couldn’t blame them. The air held a chill.

 

He took in his space.  It was efficient, the only privacy in the bathroom.  His own bed had its own alcove, room for the bed and a nightstand.  In the sitting room, he had two chairs, both worn leather he borrowed from the main house, lovely crocheted afghans laid folded within reach, one of the few things that remained of his life with his wife and daughter.  A stool with a worn tapestry sat at his feet. Tucked across the room against the wall was a table with three chairs. Sometimes Victor would come over and the three of them would play cards or dominoes. Next to that stood the kitchenette.  Two burners, a small refrigerator, sink, and a short counter space. He had a stack of books to tide him over between the chairs as well as access to his shop. It would be cozy but he often had the little boy stay over. Hopefully those two in the main house will work out their struggles and come together soon.

 




Victor reached for the lube.  He was already too sensitive and he wanted Yuuri, he needed Yuuri...it was Yuuri’s name on his lips as he sought his next orgasm.  Only Yuuri. His thoughts held fast to the omega upstairs, his Yuuri, his mate and in his mind’s eye, he could see Yuuri, feel Yuuri, smell Yuuri.  Turning into the pillow, he felt himself smile. Yuuri made sure he’d be able to smell the omega, his scent permeating the room.

 

His hand no longer satisfying, he rolled over, rutting against a pillow that was full of Yuuri’s scent.  With a groan, he came once again, panting as he rested on his elbows. Are you okay?

 




Upstairs, Yuuri felt the tears streaking down his cheeks, the dildo wasn’t enough.  He needed Victor. “Please, Vitya…” He worked the dildo, the motion not quite hitting right and he groaned in frustration.   You suck as an omega!  You only deserve the Shuji’s in this world.   Those tears continued down his cheeks as he sobbed into the pillow.   Victor wouldn’t want a broken omega like you.  He can have anyone.

 

“But...he wants me…” 

 

He knew it...everything the alpha did along the way to court Yuuri came to mind.  With a flood of evidence, he couldn't deny the truth.

 

I don’t know why...but he wants me...

 




Yura peeked through the door connecting the apartment to the main house.  “Grandpa,” he whispered, “I think they’re sleeping.”

 

“Hurry up, boy.  Get the toy and hurry back.”

 

Yura scampered up the stairs and into his room.  The tiger wasn’t on the bed or under the bed. As he re-entered the hall, his eyes widened at the sound coming from Yuuri’s room.  Scared, he ran back down to his grandfather.

 

“I think there’s a ghost with Yuuri!”

 

Nikolai chuckled as he guided the boy back into the house.  “Yuuri is strong. He can take care of himself.” He noticed the boy was empty-handed.  Maybe he’d be alright without it.

 




Yuuri rolled over, burrowing into the top of the nest.  There was a scent there that he needed. He finally located it.  The shirt had been on Victor when he arrived home and the fresh scent protected by Victor’s coat and button up during travel was just the smell he needed.  He succumbed to his need once more. Victor couldn’t fill him but the dildo helped ease the emptiness. It wasn’t Victor...he wanted Victor. In his thoughts, he could imagine Victor’s hands on him, running over him with purpose, seeking out his length.  Yuuri arched into that imagined touch, a moan slipping from his lips. I burn with thoughts of you .  He started to feel the build once again...but in the back of his mind, he knew it wasn’t Victor.  And he knew he wanted Victor.  Vityaaa...




 

Olga curled up with a book.  She was already bored at Lev’s home.  There wasn’t enough to occupy herself.   Maybe I should have gone to my sister’s house instead.  I don’t know why I let that man talk me into this.

 

But then that man came through the door with a flourish of flowers in his arms.  “For you, my beauty.”

 

Olga scoffed.  She hadn’t been a beauty in years.  Still, the red lilies were beautiful.

 




Victor curled into the pillow, taking in the stink of the room.  A rut without one’s mate was unfulfilling. It was made even more frustrating knowing Yuuri was just walls away.  He shoved up out of his bed. It was a lull and one he planned to take advantage of. He downed two bottles of water without pause and threw one of the high protein, high carb meals into the microwave.  As he ate the results with a frown, he longed for Olga’s or Yuuri’s cooking. Maybe next time, he could arrange for Nikolai to make piroshkis. They would taste better than this even with the microwave.

 





Yuuri sat in the wooden rocking chair breathing in the tea Mehar provided.  In the nearby cup, instant miso waited his attention.  He’d tried explaining to Olga he didn’t have much appetite on or before his heat but she insisted he had something she considered sustaining.  Yuuri could only glare at the “omega meals” that were no better than meals-ready-to-eat. Male omegas couldn’t eliminate as well when in heat. So they often fattened up for a short period, then slowed down the week before to get rid of what was unneeded.  Broths and tea. That’s what he needed. That and the remnant of his little boy. Pulling up the ballerina tiger left from when Yura last crawled in bed with him, he smelled the child’s scent. There was something grounding in the moment, reminding him of how he came to this place, reminding him of days spent cuddling the little boy, reading, giggling.  Russia had become his home along the way. He sighed as he considered the child.  He’s probably missing his tiger.  Settling it next to the tea service, he decided to steal a shower.   I don’t ache near as much.  This is almost tolerable.

 





Victor came out of his room before Yuuri.  The house had an eerie emptiness about it. He stood at the foot of the stairs and listened for any sound that could be Yuuri.  He was not disappointed as a moan carried across the vaulted space. He checked his phone and sighed. It was Wednesday. Late. Three days lost to an unplanned rut.  He sent a message to Yakov.


Vitya/ I’m out.

 

He went into the kitchen and sought something to eat that wasn’t half way to nasty.  The result was eggs and toast, tea with jam accompanying it.

 

Yakov/ Take the rest of the week.  How is Yuuri?

 

Vitya/ Still upstairs.

 

Yakov/ We’ve got everything covered here.  Yura even made his lessons. Mila’s sister brought him Monday and that new boy’s mother today.

 

Vitya/ Katya and Mehar.  You need to get to know the parents’ and guardians’ names, Yakov.

 

Yakov/ Not anymore.  I don’t travel with them.

 

Vitya had to nod at that statement.  Fair enough.  He began making a list of things he needed to get done including a physical.  “I should double check with Yuuri and make sure he gets into a doctor.”

 




Yuuri groaned as he woke from the last fevered assault on his senses.  Picking up his phone, he saw that it was Thursday. He’d lost more than a week to this given the struggle his preheat caused.  He stretched and stumbled out of the nest. The walls gave way to the assault, fabric wrapped cushions falling to the floor. Yuuri gave them a casual glance and moved into the bathroom.   They’ve served their purpose.  Then turning towards his bathroom, he made a beeline.  He had to pee...then shower. That was his primary thought.

 

Back in the room, he flipped the switch to the ventilation system.  He felt the loneliness of the space and needed to escape. Who is home?   He pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms and pulled on a robe over his top before flipping the locks on the room and slipping into the hall.  He picked up on Victor’s residual scent on his door and traced his fingers around the facing. As he descended the stairs, he heard the quiet murmur of television and the flicker of the light could be seen coming from the living room.  Yuuri avoided that room and entered the kitchen. Not yet.  As much as he wanted Victor’s company, he was afraid.   What if he doesn’t want me?  Just because he scented my door, that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants me.

 

Hunger gnawed at him and he found some jam and bread out.  Soon he had toast and a glass of water. Something easy and solid after a week of mostly liquid diet.

 




Victor heard movement in the kitchen and then the definite pop of the toaster.   Yuuriii…  He entered the kitchen and allowed his eyes to adjust to the shadows.  Yuuri stood watching him, licking something off of his fingers before reaching over to the sink and washing his hands.  Drying them off, the omega studied the alpha, his eyes considering the man before he stepped towards Victor, one step, then another.

 

“I’ve missed you,” the omega whispered, their foreheads coming together, Yuuri’s hand resting on Victor’s chest.

 

“Me, too,” Victor answered, his hands skimming down Yuuri’s side to rest on his hips.

 

Yuuri slid his hands up and cupped the alpha’s face, hesitating, eyes questioning, before pulling him down into a kiss, a moan sliding out of him in a flood of relief at this connection.  The older man licked into his mouth, tasting the sticky sweet jam on his lips. Yuuri’s hand moved around the alpha’s neck as Victor answered with a soft moan of his own. The alpha’s hands slid around to Yuuri’s ass lifting the omega up in his arms.   So light.   Yuuri’s legs wrapped around him.   But strong.

 

Victor was gone, kissing Yuuri only to pull back and look at him before kissing him more.  He was walking before he even realized the destination but everything was on autopilot. Yuuri belonged in one place at the moment.  They entered Victor’s room and Victor couldn’t believe how well the omega moved in his arms, his legs tightening around him, seeking pleasure as he ground his hips into the alpha.

 

Victor crawled across the bed, Yuuri koalaed into his arms until they were stretched out beside one another, kiss after kiss now followed by searching fingers pushing up Victor’s shirt, demanding in his touch, Victor’s own hands tugging at the belt to the omega’s robe, sliding the sleeves down Yuuri’s arms.   Fuck!   He was drowning in him.  The alpha moaned as he felt Yuuri completely opened up to him.  “Yuuriii…”

 

“Vitya...need you.”  There was desperation in his voice, arousal in his scent.

 

Victor pulled back and studied Yuuri for a moment.  “Are you still…” Eyes blown with desire, he could still see that Yuuri was present and alert.

 

Yuuri waved off his concern, pulling him in to smell his scent.  Yuuri...cinnamon and ginger...not the strong notes of heat, but definitely turned on.  Victor held onto him and breathed him in. He’d missed this most of all in his absence.  Yuuri’s scent, the feel of his skin. They had been stolen snatches before. But now, Yuuri let him savor the silk of his skin, the delicious flavor of his scent as the alpha dragged his tongue slowly over the scent gland.   Vkusno!   Yuuri groaned in response, arching his back and grinding into him, needing friction, needing...him.

 

Victor felt Yuuri’s restless kisses flutter along his cheek and rose up to capture those lips once more.  Then he pulled back, putting their foreheads together. Although they could consent, the everpresent reality of the written promises between them came forward in his thoughts.  “You don’t know how bad I want this.”

 

Yuuri rolled his hips into Victor and impishly responded, “I have an inkling.”

 

Victor groaned and rolled off of him.  Yuuri stared at him in confusion. Running his hands through his hair, he shook his head.  “We can’t do this, Yuuri...not right now.”

 

“I...don’t understand.”  Yuuri had rolled to his knees and now sat up, leaning on his hand while the other reached for him, fluttering up his chest.  “You...want me, don’t you?”

 

Victor’s gaze was seering.  “Do I want you? I’ve never wanted anyone more.”

 

Yuuri narrowed his eyes in confusion.  “Then what’s wrong...I want you, too.”

 

Victor groaned in his reality.  “We have a contract.”

 

Yuuri chewed his lip still confused.  “Didn’t...Chris give you the papers?”

 

Papers...papers...what...oh, the day I went into my rut.  Victor rolled out of bed and went over to the seating area.  Looking through the piles on his table, he spotted the thick legal envelope.  Bringing it back to bed, he scooted against the headboard and broke the seal. “I sank into rut right after Chris left and it fell away from my thoughts.”

 

Yuuri crawled up to sit beside him, leaning in to kiss his shoulder as Victor perused the papers.  It took a moment for Victor to realize what he was seeing. “This...is a waiver.”

 

Yuuri nodded, leaning into Victor and running his tongue along the alpha’s collar bone.

 

“You signed this...over a week ago.  Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“It wouldn’t be legal if I didn’t have a seven day cooling period.  That ended Monday. If my heat started Sunday, it would be nullified and I’d have to start the process all over again.”

 

“Oh…”  Victor read through the caveats once more.  “Wow! I didn’t expect this. I mean...I want this.  All of this...I just didn’t...we never even talked about it.”

 

Yuuri arched an eyebrow towards him mockingly.  “You’ve been courting me since I arrived.”

 

“I…”  Victor really had no defense.  He glanced away, sighing, shoving his hands back through his hair in guilt.  “I know! It was unconscious. I...I didn’t mean to disagree with the contract.”

 

“For me, this was supposed to be an employment situation.  I didn’t mean to...fall in love.” Those last words came out in a whisper.

 

Victor leaned into Yuuri, capturing those lips in a slow, purposeful kiss that had the omega squirming against him.  As he pulled back, their bodies now entwined, he whispered in return, “I didn’t expect to fall in love, either...yet here we are.”

 

“I’m scared...not of you but of...everything else.  I’ve never wanted sex with anyone. I’ve never sought someone’s love.  And Shuji...he hurt me.”

 

“He won’t hurt you any more.”  Victor frowned as he remembered Yuuri didn’t know.  “The ISU pulled his badge and escorted him out.”

 

“Has he been arrested?  Have the found the missing skater?”

 

Victor shook his head but answered, “That’s just a matter of time.”

 

Yuuri curled into Victor’s shoulder, breathing in Victor’s scent.  Regardless of the situation, Victor was his center, his calm, his safety.  As he settled, he whispered, “Make love to me.”

 

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 30:   You map me with every touch

 

WARNING:  If you missed it with the opening line, this chapter has sex in it.  ;) On a serious note, remember Yuuri was abused for ten years, so there will be reactions due to this as they explore each other intimately.  Don’t worry...Victor will take good care of him and make sure he feels safe and loved. However, I wanted you to be aware in case this might TRIGGER you.

 

“Make love to me.”

 

The words, spoken by the man in his arms, seared into Victor, the alpha inside him growling as he leaned into Yuuri, deepening his kiss.

 

He felt the “mine” ripped from him as their lips parted unsure which of them had voiced the idea both men shared.  His fingers worked the robe the rest of the way off baring Yuuri’s chest to him. He slowly started to explore Yuuri, his fingers mapping out the surface of Yuuri’s skin, noting the dips and rises.  Even underweight the natural definition of Yuuri’s athletic middle was apparent to Victor. He watched the abs tightening under his exploratory search, felt the back arching as Victor grabbed hold of a nipple with his lips, sucking as fingers made dimples in the flawless skin.

 

He gently turned Yuuri over onto his stomach and continued his exploration, running kisses down the omega’s spine, listening to the soft moans at each touch.  Victor kept his hand on Yuuri, making sure there were no surprises, nothing too fast or sudden in his actions. His thumb ran around Yuuri’s waistband as he rose up and nuzzled into his lover’s neck.  “Are you sure?”

 

“Please…” Yuuri breathed out, drawing out the single syllable.  “Need you…” The smaller hand closed over Victor’s, which had stilled at the waist.

 

Victor backed down Yuuri’s body and soon eased off his pajama pants, dropping them off the edge of the bed.  Finding himself overdressed, he divested himself of his own clothes leaving them to intermingle with Yuuri’s pants.  Turning back, he took in the beautiful sight of a very naked Yuuri Katsuki lying on his bed. It was stunning, the skin glowed and Victor found himself in awe of the tight muscles of the pert ass, which held the beginning of a soft roundness.  A smile crawled up Victor’s lips, thinking of how gorgeous the man will be with a full round curve.

 

Yuuri looked over his shoulder, an impatient eyebrow raised.  Victor smirked back and lowered his lips to the back of Yuuri’s ankle, giving a gentle quick lick to the skin before kissing along the bone.  Yuuri groaned, wiggling his toes impatiently and pulling a smile from the Victor. The alpha began working his way up the omega’s body dropping kisses at sensitive points along the way...the inside of Yuuri’s knee, the top of his thigh just beneath his ass, that ass ...because Victor couldn’t pass that up...required a nip, Yuuri’s hipbone as Victor turned him back over.  Yuuri answered every point of contact with a needy sigh or breathy moan.

 

Yuuri shifted his body, reaching down for Victor and the alpha climbed up into his embrace, trading hungry kisses, need echoing off the other’s call.  The alpha felt Yuuri’s fingers digging into his hips, demanding contact, and he settled himself against the omega, their lengths sliding against one another.  He captured Yuuri’s groan in a kiss.

 

Victor pulled up, crawling back down Yuuri’s body and experimentally ran his tongue around Yuuri’s crown.  The omega gasped, his eyes wide as he watched Victor slowly take his sex into that sweet mouth. Senses tingled and then exploded in a symphony of feeling.  Yuuri felt the inner muscles of his thighs start trembling immediately and he had to steady himself forcibly to push out the amazed question, “Y-you do that?”

 

Victor closed his eyes, realizing Yuuri had never even experienced a blowjob although he strongly suspected he’d been forced to give one.  He answered with a hum, not wanting to spoil the moment and upset the omega. He could feel that slight body relaxing back into the sheets, could hear the omega panting as he fought not to buck into Victor’s mouth, could smell Yuuri’s slick still thick with the smell of heat.   Intoxicating.  He continued to suck on Yuuri until he heard the younger man’s breath hitch, that body tightening up in his arms, the taste of him releasing down Victor’s throat.

 

Yuuri lay utterly wrecked in the sheets catching his breath and waiting for his heart to slow, his eyes brightened by the experience, staring up at the ceiling.  “I’ve...never felt like that,” he whispered.

 

Victor struggled to keep himself from growling with pride, knowing he had please his omega and fighting off anger because he knew the omega had never known pleasure.  He shifted up, his body stretched out along Yuuri’s side, and reached over to turn Yuuri’s cheek so those brown eyes met his. “You should always know pleasure, my Yuuri...always when we make love.”

 

Yuuri turned the words over in his mind, make love .  He felt that he was finally beginning to understand why people used that term.  Victor’s touch ignited him, and left him breathless, but the alpha was there to hold him, waiting for him to grow strong again.  It was love, the physical act of it in every sense. Such a stark, harsh contrast to...“H-he never…”

 

“Shhh...I know,” Victor soothed.  He knew the memories of before would intrude.  He only wanted Yuuri to know happiness...but to disregard Yuuri’s past would prevent his healing.  Victor wanted Yuuri to heal, to be restored. “Please darling, let me show you how it should be.” He then leaned in and kissed him, his lips slowly moving over the slightly chapped ones.  Smiling into that kiss, he thought about how Yuuri chewed on that lip when he was nervous.

 

As they parted, his brown eyes were wide.  “Is that...how I taste?”

 

“Mmmm...yes, my Yuuri.  That’s how your seed tastes.”  Victor moved in to kiss into the mouth but stopped as Yuuri pulled back.

 

Yuuri huffed at that.  “An omega’s seed isn’t worth much.”  The voice had darkened, hardened with an edge.

 

“Why do you say that?” Victor blinked in surprise.

 

The omega looked away, shrugging, self-disdain evident in the bitterness of his voice.  “I could never make anyone pregnant...and since I don’t know if I can get pregnant…” He winced and corrected, “stay pregnant...”

 

Once more Victor shushed those awakening anxious thoughts.  “We are a ways from thinking about pregnancy, lyubov moya .”  And there was that chewing of the lip.  He watched Yuuri digest his words before slowly nodding in agreement.

 

Yuuri sighed, his eyes focusing on the ceiling, tears finding their way into the corners before slipping out.  “But...what if you want more and I can’t give it to you.”

 

Victor remained quiet for a moment.  He wasn’t sure what he wanted, but he knew whatever it was Yuuri was part of it, more than a match to anything in their future.  “I know it wasn’t an easy life you left behind...but know this. You. Are. Enough. Even if there are no more children, I couldn’t want for more.”

 

Yuuri shoved away his tears with a frustrated sigh.  “I shouldn’t be talking about it. Not here. Not now.”

 

“I want you to feel free to talk about anything that worries you...even your past life... whenever you need to talk about it.”  Victor leaned in and brushed his lips against Yuuri’s, working that worry out of him as he slowly deepened the kiss.  Yuuri felt his body shift back on the bed, Victor’s weight on his frame as he demanded so much from that kiss. He cried out softly as Victor finally broke away from him.

 

“Yuuri...my sweet, beautiful Yuuri...you are so much more than you realize,” Victor whispered softly.  “I want you...to be mine.”

 

“Yes…” The word came out without hesitation, brown eyes meeting blue, holding them steady.   “I want...to be yours. I want...you to be mine.”

 

Victor felt a shiver run up his back at Yuuri’s sentiment, knowing there was nothing he would like more than to have Yuuri stake his claim all over his body.  “I...I don’t know what to say…” Sky blue eyes sparkled as he fluttered kisses around Yuuri’s face, eyes, ears, throat, before brushing their lips together once more.  “I don’t deserve you...I want you...but I don’t deserve you…”

 

Yuuri traded kisses during the spaces of his words.  “I want you, too...and if anyone doesn’t deserve someone…”

 

Victor pressed his fingers to the omega’s lips cutting off those words.  “You deserve all of the good things this world holds...and I plan to deny you none of those things.”

 

Yuuri’s hands cupped his face, his thumbs caressing his cheeks.  “You are everything that is good in this world.”

 

Victor leaned in and closed the deal with a kiss.  Shifting his body against Yuuri’s, he felt the omega’s need rising again.  Victor began to once more give into passion, his fingers searching that small body beneath him.  He felt Yuuri’s hand responding as his light touch grew stronger, pressing firmly against his skin, digging into the muscles of his back, then a hesitation and a sudden rush of adrenal as the omega grabbed at his ass. Victor felt himself melting into the touch, resisting the urge to whine.   He wants me.  He has all but agreed to be my mate.  Every moment we say it with actions and looks, the only thing missing are the words.  My Yuuri…my sweet, beautiful Yuuri…

 

Kissing up into the heart shaped mouth Yuuri pulled Victor’s body closer, needing contact everywhere.   If you claimed me tonight, I’d become yours willingly , Yuuri thought even as he responded to the alpha’s touch.  No one has made me burn like this.  No one has awakened me like this. No one could.  I didn’t even know this was possible. Not for me.  Yuuri emitted a tiny growl as Victor kissed down his neck, grabbing the glorious silver hair and directing the man back to his mouth.  I thought...I was broken...yet you make me whole.  I can believe in a future...with you. But then that alpha’s hand touched a part of him that made him shudder in fear, gasping, fighting for air.

 

Victor felt the fear in Yuuri’s body before he saw the registry on his face or smelled it in his scent, and stilled his actions while keeping Yuuri in his arms.  The alpha watched Yuuri recoil, connecting the location of his roving hand with the sudden change in the omega’s mood. He had brushed a finger across his entrance; as soon as the alpha realized it he pulled his hand back immediately, resting on Yuuri’s hips.  “Yuuri...talk to me...what’s going on?”

 

The younger man sucked in deeply for air but couldn’t pull it together, feeling his lungs not cooperate.  Then he heard Victor from far away, almost like down a tunnel, firmly talking to him, calling to him.

 

“Breathe for me, Yuuri...that’s good...in, one, two, three...out, one, two, three...in…”

 

Yuuri focused on that voice, on that grounding touch on his hip, on that body carefully holding its weight off of him, on that scent surrounding him, on those pheromones easing his anxiety away.  He found his breath slowly becoming steady. He closed his eyes, felt the assurances of the man holding him. “I...I…” Words were still hard and he was frustrated with the struggle.

 

The ocean blue eyes smiled with relief as he hushed Yuuri’s broken works, “No rush, Yuuri...take your time.  Find your words. I can wait.”

 

Yuuri sniffed and felt the dampness spilling from his eyes once more.  He took a hand and scoured his eyes with the heel of his palm feeling his frustration in the action.  He could hear the sob break through...and Victor’s soothing voice, feeling disconnected but needing to reconnect.

 

“Let it out, Yuuri,” Victor encouraged, “do what you need to do.”

 

Finally, he found his first words.  “I-I’m sorry…”

 

It was barely a whisper but Victor heard, following quickly with assurances.  “You don’t need to apologize to me. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through.”

 

“I want...to feel you...to know you...but...I’m afraid…”  The confession was hard, but he knew he had to be honest, he couldn’t get help without honesty.

 

“What are you afraid of?”

 

The words didn’t come out as an accusation but a gentle urging for Yuuri to open up to him.  And he did, slowly, stuttering out with his tears. “It always...hurt. H-he always hurt me.”

 

Victor was quiet as he considered his next words.  Finally, he asked, “Before you...began, did he do anything for you?  Did he prepare you?”

 

Yuuri furrowed his brow in confusion.   Prepare?  What is that?  I was expected to take care of myself.  “I...don’t know?”

 

Victor had figured as much as he leaned in and gently kissed away Yuuri’s tears before murmuring patiently in explanation, “Since I like to be fucked as well, I know a little time preparing my partner goes a long way.  That’s why I touch with my fingers and mouth and gently work you open. It’s how I’d like you to take me when you feel confident enough. I never want to force my way in. Even though you’re omega and your body gives more easily than mine, your muscles are still tight until they are ready to let me in.”

 

Yuuri’s memory went back to what he knew of sex in his past.  Simply being tossed onto the bed, ordered to lay on his stomach…  “H-he...always pushed into me. H-he might use my slick to put on h-his dick first...but...that’s…” Yuuri faded off turning his face, to hide.  Victor pulled him close and he was able to hide into the alpha’s neck. He held onto the other man for the longest of times before whispering, “What do we do now?”

 

“Where are you?” Victor asked carefully as he leaned back and studied Yuuri’s expression trying to get a read on the omega.  “We can stop if you’re not ready...or...we could try a different approach.”

 

“Like what?”  Yuuri’s voice was open, expectant.  He was still interested in continuing his exploration of Victor’s body, and allowing the alpha to explore his.  And he was afraid if he stopped, he would have a harder time moving forward.

 

Victor hummed as he considered the options they had before them.  “We could do a number of things...from a hand job…” He watched Yuuri’s eyebrows wrinkle and the omega shake his head.  “Another blowjob…” Again another shake of the head. “I could...fuck those beautiful thighs.” Yuuri considered that before shaking his head with a whine.  “What is it that you want?

 

“I...want you inside me,” Yuuri whispered in frustration, his fingers fluttering over Victor’s chest.  “How...do we get there?”

 

Victor tapped his lip thoughtfully before leaning over to the nightstand and picking up a tube of lube.  “This...has a muscle relaxer that helps while opening you up. I use it on myself.”

 

“But...I produce slick,” Yuuri argued.  He had some for his toys but he’d never...not with...Shuji.  He sighed, realizing everything Shuji did was to cause him greater pain and torment.

 

“Yes,” Victor agreed as he continued to explain patiently.  “But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a little help from time to time.  Especially now when you’re tense...but it does require that either you or I touch you.”

 

Yuuri frowned as he considered the options.  He knew how to work a toy into himself, had spent the better half of the week doing exactly that.  It was a slow process, his body getting used to each stretch. He didn’t know for sure how the mechanics would work with Victor’s suggestion.  Yuuri’s toys were...modest. Victor was bigger than a toy but...his finger was not. “Let’s...do it together,” Yuuri suggested. “Until...I become familiar with you.”   Or maybe with myself.

 

Victor nodded in agreement.  He took the lube and squirted it on his fingers before handing it to Yuuri who followed his lead.  He watched as Yuuri put some of the viscous liquid on his fingers and rubbed it around, noticing how it spread easily and evenly, then waited and let Yuuri touch himself first, waiting to be invited into the play.

 

Yuuri seemed unsure but took those slick fingers and rubbed them across his hole.  He always hated touching himself and even with the toys, he simply eased them in slowly.  “I’m...not sure…” He hated the almost frightened whimper that came from his voice, the uncertainty that trembled out with his words.

 

Victor slid a guiding hand over his, and murmured, “Try a circular motion, to become familiar with your touch first.”  He then urged that touch with a hand over Yuuri’s careful to only let Yuuri do the touching, watching the omega’s lips part, his eyes closed as he concentrated on the feeling.

 

Oh, this is different.   The feeling sent a wave of desire through him and he didn’t quite know what to do with it.  But he also now wanted together, he wanted Victor’s touch and as the alpha pulled back, watching, waiting...he knew he wanted more.  “Please…help...” Yuuri breathed, inviting the alpha in further.

 

Victor traced his fingers along Yuuri’s perineum until it joined the finger circling his hole.  He eased the tip of his finger into Yuuri and heard the omega moan in response. Yuuri’s finger stilled as he focused on what Victor was doing, the subtle exploration as Victor started working open the inner rim.  Then he watched Yuuri align his touch with his and slowly, the two of them eased both fingers inside as Yuuri breathed out.

 

“That’s good, my Yuuri...breathe with it.”  Victor realized Yuuri had never properly explored his body and he had to wonder how much pleasure he derived from his heats.  “Let’s move our fingers in and out, now.”

 

Yuuri wrinkled his brow in concentration as he followed Victor’s suggestion, still keeping that finger against Victor’s, they began to slowly move.  “Oooh,” he moaned as he felt new sensations.

 

Victor smiled at the beautiful noises that slipped out unguarded from the omega.  As the path eased further, he murmured, “I’m going to add another finger now.”

 

“Do I…”  Yuuri tickled Victor’s hand with another finger to finish his question, blushing as he shied away from the words.

 

“I think four might be too much for the moment.  Just pay attention to what I’m doing and how it’s making you feel, love,” he directed gently.  With the third finger, Victor started to stretch and open him up further, spreading his fingers apart while Yuuri furrowed his brow in concentration.  Victor then crooked them to find his prostate. He heard Yuuri’s breath hitch, watched as the chest pushed forward as his back arched at the contact. He grinned as he murmured, “There we go...how are you feeling?”

 

Yuuri’s breathing became measured, focused and then he answered, “I-I think I can do four now.”

 

Victor heard the needy desire in the voice, the strength that came with the confidence and eased their fingers back out to invite the fourth inside, listening to Yuuri breathe through the stretch.  “So beautiful, the way you open up for me, for yourself, my Yuuri,” Victor praised softly. Yuuri was now grinding into that touch, his own hand riding Victor’s.

 

“Fuck,” Yuuri breathed.  “V-vitya...n-need more.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Yuuri’s brown eyes opened wide as he nodded.  “I’m ready.”

 

Victor licked his lips at the erotic site of Yuuri riding him, demanding more.  He guided their hands out and reached over for a wet wipe, handing one to Yuuri.  After a hasty clean up, Victor rested his hand on Yuuri’s hip. “Do you...want to face me, or have your back to me?”

 

The cinnamon of the eyes sparkled again as Yuuri realized that there was a world of new positions to try.  “I want to see you...this first time,” Yuuri whispered.

 

“Well, then...let’s see what that ballet has done for you,” Victor smirked.  He guided Yuuri’s leg over his shoulder, the other, he rested the knee over his elbow as he lined himself up.  “I’m going to move slow but if you feel the least bit uncomfortable, I want you to tell me to stop. Use your words, Yuuri...slow down, stop, red for a complete stop, yellow for me to hold on, hurry up...anything you need to tell me to help you find your pleasure, okay?”

 

Yuuri flushed at the amount of control the alpha just surrendered to him.  Eagerly, he nodded.

 

“And if you get scared and need me out, I want you to tell me Salchow , do you understand?”

 

Yuuri’s brow furrowed.  “Salchow? Like the jump?”

 

“Exactly.  It’s a safe word.  You are allowed to stop this anytime you want.  I want you to feel safe with me,” Victor stated firmly.

 

Yuuri nodded.  “Okay...I understand.  Now...will you... please ...in me?”  The omega then pushed his hips towards Victor and received a warm chuckle from the alpha for his impatience.  But then he felt the smooth head pressing into him slowly, the stretch making his eyes widen, making him gasp.  “It’s...so much…more...” Yuuri tried to breathe through the intrusion. Victor didn’t know if that was good or bad but he stopped and let him get use to the pressure, waiting on Yuuri’s nod before continuing to press into him.  Victor slowly filled him, and Yuuri felt his fingers knotting into the sheets. “Oh, god...so much...I’m so...full.”

 

“Is that good?” Victor asked, his voice sounding strained, and Yuuri opened his eyes to study the alpha holding onto his control.  Victor, like this, waiting on Yuuri’s nod...he was beautiful...like a bow tightly pulled back, waiting for release but graceful in its power.

 

“Yes,” Yuuri breathed.  “N-need...Vitya…” Yuuri lifted himself to deepen the insertion and Victor groaned.  Grinding into Victor, the omega soon had him fully sheathed.

 

“Fuuuck,” Victor muttered, turning his head to kiss into the leg draped over his shoulder.  It had been so long since he’d had a lover, so very long since he felt himself completely enveloped...and Yuuri was so tight.  He had to breathe through his control and the omega was growing impatient. He eased out of Yuuri just enough to thrust back in, small movements that were rewarded with answering moans from the omega.  “You feel amazing,” Victor praised softly and watched Yuuri’s blush spread down his neck and across his bare chest with pleasure.

 

“Vitya...please...m-more…” Yuuri begged as he ground his hips upward.

 

Victor had to bite his lip for control.  He had never had a lover push him over the edge like this.  He shifted Yuuri’s other leg over his shoulder and held onto his lover’s hips.  The change of position took him deeper but it also gave him a little more control as he began to thrust more steadily, adding a little more length with each thrust.  He heard Yuuri’s soft cries, his quickening breaths, his moans. He couldn’t take his eyes off of Yuuri and took in the way Yuuri’s fingers fisted and unfisted the sheet, the arch of Yuuri’s body as he worked to take Victor in while still claiming his own pleasure, the glisten of tears still in the corner of his eyes.

 

“Are you okay?” Victor rasped.

 

Yuuri nodded and continued to move those hips in time with his own movements.

 

The building orgasm hit him all of the sudden and Victor’s breathing started quickening.  “I’m getting close,” he warned softly, hoping he wouldn’t spill too soon. He wanted so much for this first time to go well.

 

“Me...too,” Yuuri answered in gasps.


Victor drove into him, his cries answering Yuuri’s until he released a growl.  Yuuri’s answer was much more high pitched, an indescribable cry of release as Victor held onto him, feeling those waves of pleasure vibrating down his length.

 

Yuuri stretched out sleepily in his arms as Victor eased each leg down and slowly pulled out of him.  The alpha laid next to him, running his hands down the omega’s body, making sure he was okay. Reaching over, he opened the drawer to his nightstand and pulled out some more wet wipes, cleaning Yuuri up thoroughly, the omega twisting in his arms to give him greater access.  A quick clean up of himself and he stretched out beside his lover. Yuuri curled into Victor’s arms and soon was sleeping, a soft purr escaping him on exhale. As Victor relaxed into his embrace, he only thought, mine...

Chapter Text


 

Ch. 31:   The loves of my life...

 

Victor stretched feeling the itch of an unwashed body.  The bathroom called to him, however, he was reluctant to leave the warmth curled up in his arms.  He looked at the beautiful man sleeping at his side, a peaceful smile on the slightly chapped lips.   My beautiful Yuuri...do you realize how much life and love you’ve brought to this place?

 

He kissed the forehead and brushed some of the hairs to the side, wishing he could stay in bed with this incredible man forever.  Unable to avoid the shower any longer, he slipped from the covers and moved with purpose. Turning on the stream, he first noted the water pressure discrepancy then the stream moving down the pipe.   Whatever haunts this bathroom resents I traded out that clawfoot tub for the jacuzzi.  The shower answered with a sputter of air pressure before it returned to a trickle.

 

He huffed in annoyance and fiddled with the knobs until he found a setting that allowed him to get more than just damp.  He stood under the running water as he thought about the previous night, Yuuri coming to him, carrying the omega to his room, making love... oh, god ...the way that body responded to him.  I’m in love...with my son’s nanny.

 

Except he’s not just the nanny...he’s our companion omega.  Both of us.

 

Victor thought about the contract.  All of the protections he had built into the document, Yuuri signed them away with complete trust.  He could imagine those hands shaking even as he stiffened his chin with resolve.  You are so many beautiful contradictions enticing me at once.  I’m delightfully dizzy in your presence.

 

I...love you.

 

Stepping out of the shower, he reached for the towel on the warmer.  At least something works in this bathroom.  Maybe Yuuri can do something to soothe the spirits that haunt these walls, Nikolai has done all he possibly can.

 

When he stepped through the door into the bedroom, he immediately drew himself alert.  Something was wrong. The atmosphere and scent commanded his attention. He focused in on the bed and spotted the omega that filled his every thought these days sitting in the middle of the bed...in pieces.

 

“Yuuuriii,” he murmured, crossing the room in as few steps as possible and pulling the omega into his embrace.  “What’s wrong?”

 

Yuuri, now tucked under Victor’s chin, his hand in a fist against the broad chest, sniffed and worked to pull himself together enough to answer.  “I-if this doesn’t work out…”

 

Victor relaxed at the worry, initially horrified that the younger man was regretting last night.  “Shhhh...why do you think it won’t work out?”

 

“I-if it doesn’t...I don’t just lose you...I lose my baby…”

 

Victor’s love rose as he saw that Yuuri was equally invested in his passionate love for himself as he was with his maternal love for their child.  He kissed into his hair and worked on soothing the younger man with words and touch, his hands sliding down Yuuri’s bare skin. “You are the only one I’ve ever wanted like this...wanted to make you mine.  I know...I bonded with Yelena, I moved her into my home...we made this makeshift family. And I loved her. I wasn’t...in love with her.”

 

Yuuri remained still in his arms, listening, waiting, giving no more than an occasional sniff and shiver.

 

“You...are my mate in every sense of the word.” Victor pulled back, taking a look into the widening brown eyes.  “Yelena couldn’t be that. No one before that could fulfill that role. I didn’t want them...not like you.”

 

Yuuri reached up and wiped away a tear before rasping, “I-I’ve been here maybe five or six weeks…”

 

Victor released a soft laugh, understanding the younger man’s incredulity.  “I know...I think I knew that first day I met with you. That interview...something drew me to you.   I just wasn’t ready to admit it. I fell for you both suddenly and gradually. But that night we danced...I knew I was lost to you.  I didn’t know how to cross that line. You...kissed me good night and that’s when I realized you were falling for me, too. I don’t know if you remember that.”

 

Yuuri sniffed and shook his head.  “I think I remember it being a good night but then I kept worrying over what I couldn’t remember.  It’s very disconcerting.”

 

“I made sure you were safe, Yuuri...you never have to worry with me.”  His arms tightened around the small form. “I will always make sure you’re safe.”

 

In the softest whisper, he admitted, “I’m still scared.”

 

Victor frowned a little and chewed on his lower lip.  “I wish I could snap my fingers and make that fear go away.  All I can do is tell you every day I love you. I want you here.” He smiled quickly, “and point out that I’m just as amazed that you love me back.”

 

Yuuri took in the sincerity in those clear blue eyes then rested his cheek in Victor’s chest.  Finally, he whispered, “I won’t be easy.”

 

Victor chuckled in response, pressing his lips against Yuuri’s forehead followed by his cheek.  “I was never a fan of easy. Do you love me?”

 

“Yes,” Yuuri answered without hesitation.  “Very much so.”

 

“That’s what I ask for...that you love me and my son...and maybe a little extra for Olga, Nikolai and the rest.”

 

Yuuri laughed softly through his tears, another sniff of his nose.  “I can do that.”

 

Putting their foreheads together, Victor murmured, “You know I would bond you today, this moment, if that’s what you wanted.  But I don’t want to rush you.”

 

Yuuri considered where he was at and knew he didn’t want to bond for reassurance.  He wanted it to be a clear headed decision, one made with confidence. “I...I’m not ready.  I’m still getting used to the feel of not having an alpha in my head.”

 

“And I get that...I never want you to feel that way with me.  I just want you to know I’m serious.”

 

Yuuri hugged back into him, tucking up under Victor’s chin and nodding against his chest.  “I know.”

 

Victor felt his courage rising from the contact with the omega.  “I...would like you to move into my room. I don’t think I can bear the thought of sleeping without you so soon.  Bond or not...you’re my mate. I felt that separation keenly while overseas.”

 

Yuuri turned up his face, brown eyes studying him.  “I know...I felt it, too. I didn’t admit it at first...but that’s what I felt.”  Then he nodded sharply, the decision made. “I’ll move in here. I...never felt at home in my own room.  Only here. That’s why I continued to come here in your absence. That’s why...I struggled with nesting. I...wanted it to be here.”

 

“From now on...let it be here,” Victor whispered.  He then leaned down to capture those lips. Yuuri turned further into his arms, leaning into the kiss until Victor was lying back, Yuuri awkwardly sprawled on top of him.   Victor chuckled as he helped rearrange Yuuri’s legs to straddle him. “You’re so adorable, Yuuri.”

 

Yuuri sat up and blushed, the scent of arousal filling the air.  Victor bucked up his hips teasingly, drawing a gasp from the omega.  “I guess...it’s different when you actually want someone.”

 

“Very...and even better when that want is returned,” he answered, his hands resting on Yuuri’s hips, the bare skin smooth beneath his touch.  “Do you want it like this?” He tightened his hands and waited.

 

Yuuri blushed profusely.  “Ummm...umm...I...ah…” Yuuri’s hands went up to cover his face.

 

Victor couldn’t help but smile as the rest of Yuuri’s charms were definitely laid bare.  He reached up and gently pried those hands away. “Don’t hide that beautiful face, lyubov moya ,” Victor murmured.

 

“I...uh...don’t know what I want,” Yuuri confessed, his cheeks flaming up.  “I...never…” He didn’t finish that sentence, averting his eyes in embarrassment.

 

Victor ran his hands up and down Yuuri’s thighs in a grounding motion.  “I will guide you every step of the way. Do you want to try this?”

 

“Maybe?” he squeeked.  Yuuri was pathetically bad at lying, he desperately wanted to try this...and anything else he might have missed and would absolutely enjoy.

 

Victor made sure Yuuri’s eyes were on him, understanding what he was doing.  He reached around him, fingers sliding around the hips and down his cleft and teasing Yuuri’s entrance.  “You’re still loose from last night. It wouldn’t take much to open you back up.”

 

Yuuri whined even as he pushed back into Victor’s touch.  “I...god, Vitya…”

 

Victor chuckled softly as he slipped in two fingers easily.  “I’ve got you, solnyshko .”  He eased in a third as he added, “I always will.”

 

Yuuri closed his eyes on that promise riding those fingers as he moved his body up and down.  “More…” he whispered.

 

Victor pulled his fingers free, the other hand had been occupied in making sure he was ready.  Now he guided Yuuri to his length. “Lower yourself...slowly.”

 

The initial breech caused Yuuri to gasp and he clung to Victor’s repeated word.   Slowly .  A gentle rise, an increasing fall, Yuuri found his rhythm as naturally on Victor’s lap as he did on the dance floor.

 

Victor held him steady, hands on his hips, feeling Yuuri’s hands over his, watching Yuuri’s face morph with pleasure.  “So beautiful…”

 

“Vityaaa…” he moaned, his body trembling as he settled onto Victor’s lap, feeling every centimeter of Victor within him.  “So...full…”

 

“Just hold still a moment...let your body settle,” Victor coaxed even as he rubbed Yuuri’s back.  Yuuri breathed through the pressure. “There you go, easy...nice...relax…”

 

Yuuri was leaning forward at this point, hands on Victor’s shoulders, when his eyes fluttered back open and focused on the man beneath him.  “More…” he whispered.

 

Victor smirked before thrusting upwards.  Whereas the previous night, Yuuri received all of Victor’s love, taking it into himself, letting it fill him, restore him...this morning, Yuuri met him halfway, demanding and giving at the same time.  Holding Victor’s eyes, he tangled his fingers into Victor’s and rode him, finding a steady rhythm, shifting his body to understand this new pleasure and finding what felt best, watching Victor to see his own expressions of ecstasy.  And then as Victor tightened his body arching into Yuuri, his blue eyes closed tightly.

 

“Vitya,” Yuuri whispered, his fingers trailing down his mate’s chest.  “So beautiful…” He knew he was close but he needed a little help over the edge.  Victor must have realized it, too, because he reached down to stroke Yuuri’s length.  The omega began to move once more in rhythm to Victor’s hand. He felt the rising tide of his release and then his breath hitched as his body spasmed through his orgasm.

 

Victor pulled him into his chest, soothing words coming from his lips as he ran his hands up and down Yuuri’s back.  “I’ve got you...I’ve got you.”

 

Yuuri felt himself come down, his body limp in Victor’s arms.  Everything ached...pleasantly so. He loved the feel of neglected muscles waking up, the push of his body over the edge, the shakiness of spent energy.  He closed his eyes, snuggling into the alpha and knew it was this man who brought him here. He lay still for several moments but then everything felt too much all at once and he had to pull free of Victor.

 

The alpha let him go, watching him.  Yuuri could sense the hand more than feel it reaching for him but not forcing its way into his space.  He appreciated it. He curled up on his side blinking into the morning shadows. Light came slowly to Russia this time of year and at the moment, he appreciated the early grays.

 

He felt safe, loved, and so many things denied him over the years.  I want you...all of you...all of this...and I’m scared to fully embrace it.  I’m afraid it’s going to be snatched away.

 

His eyes ran over the things on Victor’s nightstand.  So many things the alpha held precious...and Yuuri had a feeling he was one of those things.  Resting his eyes on the silver frame holding Yelena’s photo, he murmured softly. “I...wouldn’t mind if you wanted to talk about her...Yura’s mother...Yelena.”

 

Victor pushed up on his elbow as he studied his lover, thinking what it was he was to say to those words.  “I don’t want to be inconsiderate of your feelings.”

 

“It’s not...she’s a part of you.  You said last night I was to talk about him if I needed to talk...I want you to feel you can talk about Yelena.  I know it’s different...but then again, it’s not. We both have a past...good or bad.”

 

Victor sighed, laying back, looking up at the ceiling, his hand running through his hair.  “She’s all over this house. I was going to ask if you wanted me to...take some of her pictures down.  I left them up even though it made the grieving process take longer. I never wanted to keep her from Yura.  Sometimes I still talk to her.”

 

Yuuri shook his head.  “Don’t take them down. I...find myself talking to her as well,” Yuuri confessed.  “At first, it was little things...musing about how to handle her son, what would she want me to do...but then it was almost like she was an older sister.  There was something comforting in her presence, still is. I’d feel a little lost without her in this house.”

 

“That’s how she was, too...she would have embraced you like a sister.”  Victor smiled thinking of the amazing woman he had been lucky enough to have in his life, even if it was heartbreaking to watch as she slipped from it.

 

Yuuri frowned, a shiver moving up his spine as he turned to face Victor, his fingers dancing up the alpha’s chest.  “If...she still lived...would we…” He closed his eyes, fighting for words and not knowing where to go with them. “Mehar and Rohan…”

 

Victor joined their fingertips, then their hands as he studied the beautiful omega.  “I...don’t know. I never considered such a thing but I know Yelena would have encouraged my happiness.  She knew what we had...there was always the understanding that if she found someone else, I’d let her go.  I guess...it would have worked both ways. But...in a plural marriage like Mehar and Rohan...I never thought about it.”

 

“I never considered it either...I just wanted out and would have willingly stepped aside for another.  With him, that is.” Yuuri realized quickly that it would not have been a plural marriage with Shuji, the man had never taken his wants or needs into account, which would have been the foundation of a successful plural union.

 

“Could you have...would you have...with me?”

 

Yuuri noticed the uncertainty in his alpha’s face.  “I...don’t know. The idea of sharing you...that doesn’t sit well with me.  But...then there’s Yura.”

 

Victor seemed relieved and smiled, “Yura changes everything.”

 

The omega nodded.  “I don’t know if it is because I’ve lost all of my own children...but he holds so much of my heart.  I didn’t expect to fall so quickly...to fall for all of you. It scares me but...I want this. I think...I would have...with you.”  He lifted his chin seeking a kiss, frowning as they parted. “I feel...gross.”

 

Victor chuckled, his fingers smoothing Yuuri’s hair away from his face.  “I think I could use another shower as well. Let me take care of you.”

 

Yuuri’s legs shook as he stood for the first time after hitting the bed, reaching for Victor to steady him.  “I don’t know if it’s all that we did or...the lack of solid food.”

 

“Likely both...let’s get you cleaned up and dressed.  Then we can seek out food.”

 

“Deal.”

 

Cleaning Yuuri up with his shaky legs reminded Victor of the night he took Yuuri home from the party...their first date.  He ended up scooping Yuuri up and carrying him to the bathroom, settling him on the bench in the shower and starting the water flow.  He shook his head in bafflement as the water came roaring to life, the pressure deciding to cooperate. The ghosts seem to prefer you, my Yuuri.  He wanted to have Yuuri soak in the tub but suspected that would have to come later.  Yuuri now had a pallor settling into his skin that made Victor uncomfortable. Reaching for a washcloth, he made short work of cleaning the omega up.  “I promise to do better next time. I just...think you need to eat.”

 

“‘s fine...I should have eaten more before jumping you in the kitchen.”  Yuuri stilled at his words then grinned.

 

Victor chuckled.  “You were very eager…”

 

“All I could think about during my heat was how much I wanted you...and then you were right there.”

 

“I felt the same...entering my room, surrounded by your scent.  If I hadn’t been already headed into rut, I would have fell headlong into it then.”

 

Yuuri covered his face.  “I can’t believe I put you into premature rut.”

 

“Yuuri…”  Victor tugged those hands away.  “Let me see you, love.” He rested his forehead against his lover’s.  “I would gladly spend every rut for the rest of my life with you.”

 

“You would?” Yuuri whispered.

 

Victor kissed his forehead, his nose, and then his lips.  “Always.”

 

Yuuri blushed, his shoulders hunching together.  “It’s hard to accept sometimes.”

 

“Then I’ll just have to keep telling you.”

 




Yuuri took several steadying breaths before stepping out of Victor’s room, the alpha not far behind him.  He wore pajama bottoms and one of Victor’s long sleeved tee-shirts, the sleeves going to his fingertips. His feet were clad in a pair of Victor’s socks.  He fidgeted, his hands running up and down his arms. Turning, he started to reenter the bedroom but Victor blocked the path.

 

“What do we say?” he hissed.

 

“That you and I’ve been reworking the details of our contract,” Victor answered warmly.

 

“What about Yura?”

 

Kissing Yuuri’s forehead and then nose, he assured him, “Yura will be easy.  This is what he wants...you to be his mama.”

 

“Mama,” Yuuri whispered, hugging himself.

 

Victor slipped an arm around his waist.  “Let’s deal with more immediate needs.”

 

Yuuri nodded even as his stomach answered with a growl.  “Food.”

 

Victor grinned.  “I love hearing you say that.  Now...let me feed you.”

 

They entered the kitchen to face Olga who looked up with a raised eyebrow, Nikolai at the table who peeked around his newspaper, and Yura playing with the kittens in the floor.  Both dogs groaned and covered their faces with their paws. “Good morning,” Victor called out cheerily.

 

“Fancy seeing you both come out of hiding...together,” Olga stated as she started pulling things from the cupboard to feed her people.  “Now, I’m thinking breakfast. Eggs, toast...rice for Yuuri...and maybe some stir fried winter vegetables.”

 

“That sounds amazing,” Yuuri moaned.  Olga glanced his way sharply and his face turned red.  He tugged on Victor’s arm. Say something!   He hoped he could convey those words with his eyes.

 

“So...Yuuri and I…”

 

“I think we are well aware of what went on between the two of you,” Nikolai stated gruffly, turning the page of his newspaper and shaking it out.  “You are both adults. It’s none of our business. Right, Olga?” They all heard the warning in the old man’s voice.

 

The older woman smirked at the grandfather presuming to shush her. “Right...whatever...I mean, as long as Yuuri was in a place where he could consent.”

 

Victor and Yuuri both gasped but it was Victor who responded.  “Olga, you don’t think I’d…”

 

She began pulling together foods for their breakfast, “I really don’t know what to think.  I receive a message you’re out of rut and I come home to find the recently heat laden omega in your room.”

 

Yuuri came up to her and placed his hand on her forearm.  “It was...after,” Yuuri said softly. “I came out of my heat that morning, then went to Victor... after .  But thank you for worrying about me.”

 

“Well, we omegas have to look out for one another,” she huffed.

 

“Yes, we do...but you know Victor...Vitya...and you know me.”

 

She sighed, her eyes cutting to Victor then back to the companion omega.  “And so now what?” Resting her eyes on the boy playing in the floor. “What about him?”

 

“We’ll talk,” Victor stated, his eyes leveling with Olga’s.  It was privilege of family to hold each other accountable. He knew his father wouldn’t stand for this.  He also knew...this was how this house worked. “Don’t worry,” he added softly. “This isn’t a fling.”

 

She huffed.  “Of course it’s not a fling.  Neither of you are that kind of...”  She screwed up her face in frustration before wadding up her towel and tossing it at the alpha.  “You are the most ridiculous man.”

 

Victor grinned, catching the towel effortlessly.  “You’ve watched out for me for so long, Olga...and for that I will always be thankful.  And I know you already have a soft spot for Yuuri. It will be fine.”

 

Yuuri watched them, his brown eyes taking everything in even as she placed his meal in front of him.  As he turned to the offering, he only knew one thing. Never had rice and eggs tasted so good. He drank the offered juice and finally received his tea once she was satisfied he’d restored himself to rights.

 

“You and I have a date to catch up on some TV,” Olga stated as she held the other omega’s eyes.

 

Yuuri giggled.  “I think we are due a marathon.”

 

“I’ve been recording the episodes.”  She nodded at the three generations sitting at the table across from the two omegas.  “Once we get these boys back into their routine…”

 

“It’s a date.”  Yuuri raised his tea cup in a toast to her.

 

Victor looked from one to the other curiously but they kept their secret.   Deadly Omega was best appreciated with another omega.  They shared a conspiratory smile and neither divulged their pastime.

 

The alpha turned back to his own breakfast.  His eyes peeked over at his son who was purposefully ignoring them which means he was taking everything in with those ears.  Finishing up his meal, he smiled appreciatively to Olga before leaving the stool and squatting down to study his son’s playspace.  “What have you been up to the last few days?” he invited.

 

Yura looked up at Victor, then Yuuri, then back to Victor.  Chewing his lip, he worked out his question. “Is Yuuri my mama now?”

 

Oh .  Victor’s face went red.  Although that was where he was headed with this conversation, he wasn’t ready for it all at once.  Yuuri slipped off the stool and dropped down on the other side of Yura, pulling the blond into his lap.

 

“What do you want?” the omega asked softly.

 

Large green eyes opened wide with a plea, “Please?  I want you for my mama.”

 

Victor’s eyes moved from one to the other, his expression tender.  “Yuuri?”

 

Yuuri’s eyes never left Yura’s face, “I...want that, too.”

 

The blond turned in Yuuri’s arms and wrapped his chubby arms around him, burrowing into Yuuri’s scent.  “Mama…”

Chapter Text

Ch. 32:   Fitting our lives together around the holes of our past...

 

Yuuri had his whole life laid out on the bed in the upstairs bedroom with room to spare.  Even with Victor’s generosity, his footprint was small. The small stack of threadbare clothes he arrived in, the new clothes Victor insisted on, skates, the box of memories and mourning he was still processing, the makeup, and his Macbook Air.  The possessions were a combination of his past, present, and future. The worn clothing were pieces that would never give up, holding a strength that he was slowly realizing he had possessed. The skates, a nod to his past taken from him too soon, but with a new life breathed into an old passion.  He blushed looking at the makeup, telling him it was never too late to find the beauty in himself, and make it clear to others. He ran his hands over the surface of the slick computer...it represented his future. I have something to give back to the world.  I’m not left behind, forgotten.  A text drew his attention and he pulled out his phone, a smile touching his lips.

 

Peaches/ Are you out yet?

 

Yuu-chan/ Very much so.  Call me if you’re free.

 

Within moments the phone rang.  Yuuri answered with a smile. “Phichit!”

 

“Yuu-chan!  How are you?”  Phichit’s voice was breathless down the line and Yuuri could only guess that he had ducked out of his office last minute to put this call in.

 

Yuuri took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  How did he describe this feeling? “I’m good. Victor and I...we...ummm..Phichit, Victor and I...I’m moving into his room.”

 

Silence.  For the first time since he had ever known Phichit Chulanont, Yuuri Katsuki was met with dead silence.  Yuuri wanted to find the humor but he knew better than to make a quip.

 

Phichit’s voice crept slowly from the receiver, “Oh...wow...Yuuri?”

 

Hearing the worry coming from the other omega, Yuuri quickly reassured him.  “After my heat...I sort of...um...jumped him?”

 

Silence for the second time.  He would have to mark the calendar as this was truly an auspicious occasion.  Yuuri chewed his lip nervously, then he heard a giggle. “Oh, Yuuri...I knew you had it in you.  Soooo…”

 

Yuuri giggled back, knowing precisely where the question headed.  He looked around the room as if the vanity were going to lean in for the gossip as well.  “Ummm...it was good?”

 

Phichit snorted, “Is that a question or you dodging my question?”

 

“Dodge,” Yuuri confirmed, feeling his cheeks heat up.  “But...I want this,” he added, his voice warm and firm.

 

“Yuuri…”  Phichit drew out the last syllable of his name before murmuring warmly, “Then you grab hold of this.  I want it for you, too.”

 

Hugging himself, he whispered, “Thank you,” feeling all warm inside.

 

“I didn’t do anything,” Phichit protested.

 

Yuuri snorted in disbelief.  “Of course not,” he agreed softly, a smile on his lips.  “You were just my best friend when I didn’t think I deserved anyone and you never left my side.”

 

“Yuuri, don’t make me cry.  My mascara will run and then I’ll be a mess…”

 

Yuuri smiled softly at his friend’s antics.  “I know...but you need to know that I love you and I...I don’t know that I’d still be here if it weren’t for you.”  He paused for a moment, feeling himself become more serious. Yuuri settled himself on the bed, surrounded by the artifacts of his life.  “There were so many times I would have given up if I didn’t have you on the other side. You were my lifeline, my connection to the rest of the world...and you never failed me.”

 

Phichit swallowed several times, a sure sign he was trying to control himself.  Then the Thai man sighed, and Yuuri could hear the tears in his words. “Oh, Yuuri...I wanted to pull you out of there so many times.  We would have ran away and hidden you away from him.”

 

“We wouldn’t have gotten out of the district.  He had my proof of identity, kept all of my legal documents under lock and key.  I didn’t exist without his permission. Trust me, he pointed that out plenty when he first brought me there.  I…” Yuuri stilled as he thought of something. A shiver ran down his body as a memory pushed forward from the fog of what he had repressed of his first year with the alpha.   White walls...  “Fuck...Phichit!”

 

The omega on the other end heard Yuuri’s panic in the high pitched change in his voice.  “Yuuri? Are you okay? What’s going on?”

 

“I just remembered something.  That first place...it didn’t have windows.  He...put me there. You never knew about that place.”  Yuuri was drumming his fingers as he thought about it. The grim realization was fighting its way to the top.  “That’s where that kid is located...isolated, kept from everyone’s sight until he learns to behave.” He bounced up and down, turning towards the door but still tethered to Phichit.  “Oh, god! I’ve got to tell someone.”

 

“Go.  Tell Victor.  He’ll know what to do,” Phichit guided him gently.

 

Yuuri was nodding, brushing his tears from his eyes.  And then he realized Phichit couldn’t see him. “I’m going.”

 

“Okay...call me later...no matter the time.”

 

“I will!”  Then Yuuri disconnected, running into the hall, his voice ringing through the house with panic.  “Victor!!!”

 

The alpha came running, meeting him on the landing of the stairs.  “What’s wrong?”

 

Yuuri pushed out the words, knowing that they would only make half-sense to the alpha, but they would start him asking the correct questions to get the young skater recovered.  “Th-there’s another place. Shuji has another place!”

 

Victor blinked several times before guiding Yuuri to the closet.  Soon Yuuri was wrapped in his coat and Victor had his keys and his coat on, guiding Yuuri out the door.

 

Yuuri shook himself to clear his thoughts, seeing that they were leaving the home.  “Vitya?”

 

“I’m taking you to Yakov,” Victor stated quietly, his firm voice doing much to settle the omega.

 

Yuuri nodded, even as he tried to put the pieces together.  Suddenly guilt started washing over him. That kid...he’s in that place.  He’s got to be scared, terrified, like I was.   “I should have remembered sooner.  What if that kid…”

 

Victor stopped their steps turning to Yuuri.  He kept his voice firm, but hoped Yuuri would hear the love in it.  “Don’t think about that. You did what you could when you could. Shuji is villain here, not you.  Don’t take his crimes on yourself. You remembered now and that’s why we’re going to Yakov. Okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded, knowing he had to make this move, knowing another’s future, their very life, may depend on this.  

 

Victor settled Yuuri into the car and even in his haste, still knelt town and buckled his seatbelt, taking Yuuri’s hand in his once he finished.  “You are very courageous and I know you have a lot of thoughts going through your mind right now. I want you to trust me and know that I’m going to take care of you.  Okay?”

 

Yuuri sniffed and nodded.  He trusted Victor to be there for him.  He took his other hand and brushed his tears away but Victor caught it mid-air as he started to return it to his lap and brought those fingers to his lips.  “I’m sorry...I’m a wreck already and now this,” he whispered.

 

“You’re not a wreck.  You never have to apologize for your emotions.  For whatever the reason.” Then he smiled, his eyes dancing.  “You’ve not seen me fall apart yet. I’ll show you a wreck.”

 

Yuuri huffed but a smile peeked through.  “You’re too strong to fall apart.”

 

Victor smoothed Yuuri’s hair back from his face and sighed, shaking his head.  “No...I’ve just had more practice covering it up.”

 

Yuuri thought of what he remembered of Victor on television.  There was always that smile, so perfect, plastered on his face. When he was younger Yuuri fell for it, like they all did, the beautiful smile of the Prince of Russia.  But later, he saw how empty it was when compared to his genuine smile, which was actually kinda goofy looking. He tilted his head studying the alpha in front of him thoughtfully.  “You can tell me...sometime.”

 

Victor looked down at the tiny fingers he held in his gloved hands, avoiding the offer.  “You’ve got enough to worry about for now...but maybe...sometime.”

 

Yuuri nodded, settling back into his seat.  “Let’s go and get this over with.”

 

Victor squeezed Yuuri’s hand once more before standing and shutting the door.  Walking around the car, he was soon next to Yuuri, seatbelt on, and negotiating the car into traffic.  Yuuri watched his confidence behind the wheel and wondered what could have made that confidence falter, what could have shaken him.  He suspected one of those things was Yelena...but he had mentioned bad relationships. Did those men make Victor doubt himself? Yuuri felt his hands tighten into fists as he thought about someone hurting his Vitya.

 

It was the feeling of his nails digging into his palm as he squeezed his fist tightly that made Yuuri pause, studying those fisted hands.  So many times he wanted to fight...for himself. Now he was stepping outside of himself.  I finally found someone worth fighting for.  No, I’ve found two.

 




Yuuri sat next to Victor with Yakov’s desk in between him and the old coach.  The wise eyes watched the younger man carefully. On speaker phone, they spoke to the officer that Yuuri met in the interview.

 

“I...don’t know where it was, just that it was in Tokyo.  I thought...well, I didn’t have a lot of choice...and for awhile I could skate at least...my coach was good...he relocated to Tokyo to continue to work with me.  But when Shuji first took me from...my family...” Yuuri felt himself begin to shake at the memory but clenched his fists, determined to work through this. “When he first took me from my life, we went to a place that I sort of forgot about.  I guess, maybe I shuffled it away...it’s a scary memory.”

 

The officer an experienced interviewer, kept his voice even as he guided Yuuri into the discussion.  “Okay, let’s go slowly. Can you tell me what you remember of this first place you lived in? Was it roomy or small?  Modern or traditional?”

 

Yuuri blinked, white walls. “I was kept in a room, it was white.  There was a cot, and he would let me out for meals and to clean myself.  But I wasn’t allowed into the common rooms. He kept me there, letting me out more when I was friendly , but most days I’d retreat and just hope he was too busy to bother with me.”

 

Next to him Victor’s entire body clenched, but he kept silent.

 

The omega searched his memory, forcing his brain to surrender details that it had buried for years.  “It wasn’t really an apartment building. It was like a factory that had been repurposed. Lots of exposed brick and concrete.  I stayed in that room almost constantly, he kept me isolated until I learned how to behave.” Those last words came out bitterly.

 

“Do you know what district you were in?”

 

“After a while I was allowed out, but only if I followed him and kept my eyes down.  I was new to Tokyo and from a really small town in Saga…” Yuuri heard the guilt in his voice and stopped himself.   This isn’t helping.  Think!  “I remember...it was two subway stops from a major shopping district.  Shibuya. Phichit took me to shop there later when he’d sneak me out. Not from there but from one of the other places.  Phichit never saw that place, though.”

 

“Yuuri the information you are giving us right now might help us find this boy.  Is there anything else you can think of?”

 

The omega felt the importance of his words weighing on him.  “Ciao Ciao…” The words came out soft, almost subconsciously.

 

Victor looked over, nudging Yuuri softly.

 

The large brown eyes looked up at Victor’s blue.  “Ciao Ciao, my old coach, Celestino. He picked me up there once.  For a competition. He might still have the address!”

 

“Thank you, Mr. Katsuki.  This helps.”

 

“Did any of the other addresses…”

 

“No...they’ve been vacated, cleaned professionally.  No paper trail connecting him to the residences.”

 

Yuuri nodded slowly, disappointed that he bared so much to no end.  “It’s just...he’s running out of time.”

 

“We know...and we’re still looking for Tanaka.  And trust me...you’re helping.”

 

Yuuri tapped the table.  Something...like it was on the tip of his tongue.  Then Yuuri looked up and asked, “Were the apartments connected...to each other?”

 

The investigator shuffled some papers on the other end and then, “Fuck!  Oh, sorry! It’s just...we didn