Yuuri didn’t know what to think when he found the bottle of vodka. He didn’t even know what to feel. There was so much going inside his head: the swirl of anger twisted around disappointment and the overall bitter feeling of betrayal. Yuuri thought Viktor was getting over his addiction. The need to numb his pain for a couple of hours at most. But mostly Yuuri wondered how Viktor could keep drinking even when it was tearing them apart.
Yuuri was tired of the excuses. The constant brushing off with “it’s a Russian thing” or “it was only one drink”. But one drink turned into a full bar far too many times. He didn’t even know where Viktor was, yet he somehow knew that he would come home to the storm of the argument that was brewing.
And so Yuuri waited.
He waited for five hours before Viktor walked through their door. Viktor was to put it kindly, a fucking mess. His hair looked the way that roadkill looks on the side of the road. His shadows under his eyes were as dark as the bottomless ocean and as big as one too. His eyes, while they still held that priceless icy blue, they were bloodshot. His shirt was untucked.
“Viktor, we need to talk.” It was cold and blunt- too cold and blunt for husbands.
“Yuuri, please,” Viktor pleaded. “I have a headache and need to lie down.”
“Is it from the bottle of vodka that you decided to hide from me?” It was not a question.
“Yuuri, please,” Viktor started.
“Please what?” Yuuri asked mockingly with the undertone of anger that would lead this entire conversation. “Please, understand why you would do something that you knew would hurt both of this? I’m trying to understand, Viktor, but I don’t.” It was almost a shout.
“Yuuri, please,” Viktor tried again.
“Is that all you can say? I’m not doing this because I want you to suffer. I want you to do this for you to get better. I don’t want you to damage yourself in an irreparable way.”
“It’s just,” Viktor trailed off.
“It’s just what, Viktor?” Yuuri tried to prod gently, but it still held the sharp bite of anger.
“It’s just hard sometimes,” Viktor replied quietly. “I don’t want to keep doing the fake smiles, and the performance that is myself. It helps me forget and I’m sorry for wanting to forget. I’m sorry for wanting something for myself for once,” Viktor snapped defensively.
“What you want is to let your alcohol swallow you whole.”
“Just like your anxiety swallowed you whole,” Viktor retorted.
“That is not the topic of this discussion.”
“No it is not, but you were planning on letting your anxiety end your career. If I hadn’t shown up, would you have kept skating?”
“That is not the topic of this discussion. And you did not take away my anxiety because that’s not how it works. You only tried to help me like I am trying to help you.”
“You are such a selfish human being. I tried to help you, but you want to know the truth? You pushed every single person who tried to help you claiming it was fine.”
“Because I had it under control,” Yuuri defended. “You do not have it under control, though.”
“I am fine.”
“I am going to get you professional help because I cannot deal with this shit on my own. You think drinking is the solution to everything: insomnia, stress-”
“Maybe drinking is the solution to this problem, too,” Viktor cut Yuuri off and made his way to the door. He stopped for a moment, his hand on the doorknob when Yuuri responded.
“You are going to end up killing yourself at this rate,” Yuuri shouted. Viktor did not look back as he threw open the door and then slammed it close. Yuuri did not know how right he was.
Yuuri got a call that he was not expecting hours later in the middle of the night. He only understood parts of the call: Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov, the hospital, doing the best we can, emergency contact, drunk driving incident, no other parties injured, come immediately, unlikely chance, Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov....
He was a disheveled mess as raced to go to Viktor. God, why did Viktor have to be so stupid? If he survived- no not if, when- when he survived, he was going to never let him go ever again. The lights were not in his favor as he rushed to the hospital. He badly parked the car and started running.
“I’m here for Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov. I’m his husband. There was a call,” Yuuri told the receptionist quickly and out of breath. “Can I see my husband?”
“Sir, the doctor would like to talk to you,” the receptionist responded.
“I want to see my husband.” What happened next was a blur. Yuuri could not remember anything besides the panic for his husband until he was standing in front of the doctor. She was a serious looking woman with bags under her eyes.
“Mr. Katsuki, I-”
“Katsuki-Nikiforov,” Yuuri interrupted. “My last name is Katsuki-Nikiforov.”
“Of course, sir. Mr. Katsuki-Nikiforov, we have some bad news. We regret to inform you that your husband is only surviving because of life support. Without it, he will die. It is ultimately up to you what to do.” Yuuri did not realize he was crying until he tasted the salty tear that must have slipped down his cheek and into his mouth. He didn't know what he was feeling; he couldn't feel anything.
“Can I see him?” Yuuri sobbed. “Can I see my husband? Please. I’ll sign off on the paperwork- just let me see him one last time. Please, I’ll do anything.”
“Sir, we have grief counselors on hand, but we can get you the paperwork. Is there anyone else, friends or family, that you feel needs to see him before we take him off life support?” The doctor asked calmly. How could she act so calm when his husband was dying?
“Yes, it will take a couple of days for them to get here, though. Can I see him now?”
“Yes, sir.” The doctor then led him to the hospital room. Yuuri almost collapsed from the weight of the fact that Viktor was laying there lifeless on the bed. “I’ll give you two a minute alone.” Yuuri walked over to the bed. There were so many tubes coming in and out of him. He sat on the cheap green chair next to the bed and took his hand despite the tubes with purposes he didn’t quite understand that were attached to it.
“Hello Viktor,” and that is when the wave of grief hit and he sobbed. “I’m sorry, baby, this is all my fault. I’m sorry-” Yuuri took a gasp of breath trying to remember his anxiety techniques from over 10 years ago. Think positive. There was no positivity in this situation. So he just sat there for a while feeling lost in the world.
Yuuri did not know how long he sat there, the whole time holding Viktor’s lifeless hand. The doctor and nurses came and went checking his vitals. He had called most of the skating community to break them the news. Yuri Plisetsky for as much as he claimed he hated both of them was the first to arrive.
“Katsudon, I came as fast as I could. Do you need anything?” Yuri over the years had become taller than Yuuri, but much leaner. His pale gold hair which now fell mid to upper back was put in a messy bun. Unfortunately, he still had an affinity for flashy animal print.
“I'm fine.” It was far too quiet.
“What the fuck are you looking at? What's on your phone?” Yuri snatched the phone out of his hands which had news about Viktor's hospitalization. “Goddamn it, Katsudon. There is only one solution to this.” And with that Yuri chucked the phone at the ground, breaking it.
“What the hell!” Yuuri finally got up from the chair. “What was that for?”
“You looking at news about this situation will not change it.”
“I don't want you to hurt yourself,” Yuri interrupted afraid of that idea. “What do you hope to fucking gain from reading this shit?”
“That it isn't real. The tabloids never wrote about his addiction and I wish that it was for a valid reason- not because the entire skating community is hiding it. I just- I just want none of this to have happened. None of this: the hospitalization, the fight, the addiction. I just wanted to help him and now I'm choosing to kill him.” It was so defeated with a wild desperate touch.
“Don't you for a fucking minute fucking think like that. Think about if you didn't choose to take him off life support, he would stay like this forever.” Yuri pointed out angrily.
“This is all my fault, though.” Yuuri tried again feeling the need to blame himself. “If only we weren't so stubborn…”
“You can't pick and choose what parts of him to love,” Yuri interrupted. “Yes, he was stubborn and forgetful and petty and where was I going with this?” Yuuri gave him a slight glare for insulting his husband. “Ah yes I remember- he was all those things but he was also yours, and he never for a moment stopped loving you. If you could only see the way he looked at you sometimes like you were the only thing in the world. He wouldn't have blamed you; he would have begged for your forgiveness. And then you would have makeup sex.” Yuuri let out a surprised noise but still continued to argue.
“Towards the end, he wouldn't have. We started drifting after his addiction got worse. He started pulling away.”
“He didn't want to hurt you. He didn't want you dragged into this mess.”
“But that doesn't make any sense. He hurt both of us by the end.”
“You have to remember that this is Viktor logic. This is the same man who showed up butt-ass naked in your parents' sauna.” Yuuri smiled at this slightly. He didn't know if he would be able to truly smile again after all of this. “I'm going to get you some coffee because you look like shit, Katsudon.”
“Thanks, Yurio,” and for once Yuri didn't yell at him for calling him that stupid nickname. Yuuri wished he had just like when Viktor was around.
Yuuri hated the fake beats of the machine that was pumping Viktor's lungs the most. It did not sound like his breathing which pissed him off. The machine was out of tune compared to Viktor's and it felt more metallic. Yuuri knew that he would never hear that perfect sound again. He regretted not cherishing it more. He regretted not cherishing a lot of things more. He should tell them all to Viktor while he was still here with him. Not buried 6 feet underground.
“Hello, Viktor,” Yuuri started with a small nervous laugh. “The doctor says you may be able to hear me so I'm going to just- just talk. I hope that's ok.” Yuuri took Viktor's hand and barely squeezed it. “I guess I should start with I'm sorry.”
“I filled out so much legal shit in the past couple of days. You left me so much, Viktor. Why? Why did you leave me so much?” Yuuri sounded so lost and confused like a boat lost at sea that was never going to return to land. “I hope you know that I would, in less than a heartbeat, trade that all away. I don’t care how much I would have to give to get you back. In a heartbeat, I would take your place on that hospital bed. And yes, it would hurt you, but you were always so strong, Viktor, on your own. Why were you always so strong?” Yuuri felt the burn of tears in his throat and his eyes watering. He didn’t know how much more he could cry.
“I was not- am not strong on my own. Not like you. Never like you. And I pushed so many people away thinking I was saving them from getting caught up in my own fucking destruction. But I pushed you away far too many times, and you pushed me away far too many times. Why are we so good at pushing each other away? Now I would give the world just to hold you close again, hearing your breathing as your own.” A tear ran down his cheek.
Yuuri brushed Viktor's hair out of his eyes before continuing. He did not know how many times he had already brushed his perfect hair out of his eyes, but he also did not know if he would touch anything so beautiful ever again.
“And I keep hoping that this is a dream, and you’ll wake up right next to me. And those last 6 months to not have happened, so that you would hold me when I cried. And you would listen. We both would listen. What I would give just so I could listen. It doesn’t matter to what: your blades hitting the ice, your breathing, all your laughs. I just want to listen to something of yours besides this metallic breathing.” Yuuri was losing his barely there composition. If Viktor was here, really here, he would know what to do. Viktor was always so good at keeping his composition, even when he was falling apart inside.
“And do not let me get started on your smile. So please, Viktor if you can hear me, wake up. Please, wake up. Try to wake up,” Yuuri sobbed, “if only so I can say I’m sorry. Please, I’m begging you wake up. There are so many people here that want to see you wake up. Goddamit Viktor, wake up! Please, I know it’s selfish, but I want to see you happy, even if it isn’t with me. Please Viktor, wake up!” Yuuri folded himself out of sobs, still holding onto Viktor’s hand.
Viktor did not wake up.
Yuuri did not know if he could survive today. Today, his husband was going to die, and he would have to endure that, surrounded by people that would have to do likewise. He was trying so hard to stay together, reciting an old anxiety trick: telling himself who he was.
My name is Katsuki-Nikiforov Yuuri.
Letting Viktor die would be like letting himself die. Yet, here they all were. So many friends stood by his side. The doctors asked if Viktor would like a final blessing. Even though Viktor wasn't religious, he said yes. Because if it would get Viktor a chance at heaven, Yuuri would do it. Yuuri would damn himself if it could ensure Viktor's happiness. His biggest regret was that Viktor wasn't happy towards the end of his life.
I was one of the dime-a-dozen top figure skaters certified by the JSF.
The Russian Orthodox priest was giving the final blessing. Yuri was actually the one that had insisted that that would be the best type of priest to get. “It was what he had been raised with,” he had argued.
I'm 34 years old.
Yuuri knew only small parts about how Viktor was raised: father was an alcoholic; mother left and never came back; father died of alcohol poisoning when he was 5; lived with a removed aunt who was his only family at the time; she encouraged him to start skating; aunt died when he was 17. Yuuri wished he knew more, wished it was Viktor who would be the one to tell him more.
I've won a few competitions with my coach Russian skating legend Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov.
The priest finished his blessing. The doctor checked Viktor's for a final time. “It's not going to hurt him when we turn off life support. Do you have any last words you want to say to him?”
I married him about 2 years after he started coaching me.
Yuuri didn't say anything. “Kastadon, do you want to say something to Viktor?” Yuri asked gently. “We've all already said our goodbyes” Yuuri wished that he would be his normal angsty teenage self like when they met. It was when Viktor was happy and not drowning in alcohol.
We have been together for 10 years.
“What?” Yuuri asked. “Oh, right.” He walked up closer to the bed and brushed his perfect silver hair a little out of the way for the final time. He took Viktor's hand for a final time. Why did everything have to be so final?
I love him even when he's a pain in my ass.
“Hey, darling. I just want to say I'm sorry that we fought so much towards the end,” Yuuri was trying to hold in the sobs. He could be strong; he could be like how Viktor was for so long. “I love you so much if you didn't already know that. You were- no- are the first person I've wanted to hold onto forever.” Tears were streaming down his face. The room was almost silent except for the metallic breathing. Others in the room were crying too.
I made a life with Viktor all across the globe.
“I want to thank you for all the fun we've had in the past 10 years together. But even before then, you inspired me,” Yuuri's tears blurred his vision. “I kept so many posters of you. Remember when we laughed about the posters when we first moved into our apartment in Russia. I just want to hear you laugh again because I miss it Viktor, I miss you. And I can't imagine a life or a world without you in it.” There was not a dry eye in the room, even the doctor’s eyes were watering.
We competed against each other, and the loser had to do the dishes.
“And I just want to say thank you for the miracles you have brought me daily. Thank you for loving me. I love you so much, and I will never stop loving you. And if there is a heaven, I'll find you there. Goodbye, Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov. I love you.” And with that Yuuri kissed Viktor's forehead, the only place that didn't have tubes attached. Yuuri did not beg Viktor to wake up because he knew he wasn't going to wake up ever again.
He was so bad at doing the dishes that it was laughable, and we did laugh about it.
Yuuri stepped away from the bed. “Are you ready?” the doctor asked. Yuuri only nodded. He was never going to be ready to watch his husband die from something that he could've prevented. The doctor flipped off the machine.
There were so many times that he made me laugh and smile.
The moment after she switched off the machine was complete silence. Yuuri would rather have that god forsaken out of tune metallic breathing over this damned haunting silence. But most of all, he would rather have Viktor's breathing. He would rather have Viktor here alive and well. Yuuri started to sob; others in the room did too.
I did not know my heart could feel so full when I was with him.
“Please God, no Viktor, please,” Yuuri sobbed broken pleads. “Please-” he reached for Viktor's hand but it was cooling. He sunk to his knees from the weight of the fact that he no longer had a husband.
When he smiled after I skated at our first Grand Prix Final together, I thought my heart was going to explode of happiness.
“Yuuri, let's get out of here,” Yuri begged. There were tears in his eyes too. “Yuuri, please, you don't need to see this.”
He was so young and happy at that time.
“I want to stay. Please let me stay with my husband. Yurio, please,” Yuuri begged but was still looking at his husband. His husband who was never going to smile, or laugh, or skate again.
He was 27 when we were at the Grand Prix Final together.
“Sir, please. We need to prepare his body for burial,” the doctor explained calmly. Yuri decided to drag Yuuri out. It was harder than he thought with him kicking and pleading pitifully. They were in a hallway now.
He is 37 now; he will always be 37.
“Katsudon, we’ll be right back in there. You need a little break,” Yuri explained calmly, but Yuuri could still see the path a tear took on his face.
One day I'll be older than him, even though he was born first.
“Can we stay here?” Yuri nodded and so they waited. The others in the room trickled out slowly and went to the cafeteria. Yuuri did not budge until the doctor came out and spoke softly to Yuri.
My husband is dead.
“Come on Katsudon,” Yuri gave a small smile. It did not reach his eyes. “We can go back in.” Yuri put out his hand and Yuuri took it. And they walked back in together to see a white sheet over Viktor's body. Yuuri pulled the sheet back, and there was Viktor looking like he just was asleep. He got on the bed and curled up next to Viktor. Yuuri cried wishing that Viktor could be alive and breathing his way, and this would just be a lazy morning in the middle of their relationship.
My name is still Katsuki-Nikiforov Yuuri, but part of me died with Viktor.