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Is this what family feels like?

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"But I don't want tooooooo....." Yuri Plisetsky was very good at whining. Being 16 helps in that department. And being a grade A dumbass doesn't hurt either.

"C'mon. The competitive season is over, so you have to refocus on school right now." Otabek's voice sounded crackled through the phone. The connection inside the rink wasn't amazing, and Yuri's propensity for yelling wasn't helping his only friend understand him better. Yuri finished packing up his skates, slammed his locker and stared defeatedly at his textbooks in his bag. Yakov said he had some errands to run and couldn't pick him up until later. The rink staff were always nice and let him study in the skaters dressing room for as long as he wanted. Since Yakov was the head coach of most of the Russian team, he had keys to the rink's back door and could go in and out as he pleased.

Before he moved to St Petersburg, his grandpa would help him with his school work, as much as he could anyway. He was a patient man, and always waited for Yuri to finish his temper tantrums before urging him to try again.

And Yuri couldn't blame him. He was never the strongest student. He could never master maths or sciences, books were boring. All he wanted to do was skate.

He growled and slumped into the chair, puling his hood further over his face. He had managed to find the corner with the best Wi-Fi reception and Otabek's face came into (slightly blurry) view. His eyebrows were scrunched together to make that slightly disappointed face he always did when Yuri was being willful.

"What does this have to do with skating? What even is...." He squinted at the cover of the first book in his bag. "Al... Alheb... Algeb..." He groaned. "Algebra?" He finally stumbled into the right word.

Otabek tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. "Yura." The Russian's cheeks flushed. The nickname was a recent update to their relationship, but it made him feel special all the same.

"Bekah, how did you do this?" He whined, resting his head on the table.

"I'm still doing it, remember?" The Kazakh held up his own books.

"Yeah, but you're so much better at this than me... You're so smart." Yuri held his head up on his hands, squishing his cheeks into a very prominent pout.

"You're smart too, you just need help. Okay?" Otabek smiled at Yuri and scrambled to find some paper. "Here, read me the first question you're stuck on." Yuri sighed and complied begrudgingly. Ota scribbled down some equations and flipped the paper around so Yuri could see it. "So see this term here?" He circled it with his pencil. "You can move it over so that...." Yuri nodded along with him, only half paying attention. He had an interesting way of explaining things that just made sense to Yuri. Not just the school work, but everything. Yuri had never been good at emotions, and he would have thought Otabek wouldn't either. But somehow the 18 year-old had wisdom far beyond his years.

They worked through a few more problems before someone entered the locker room. He quickly waved goodbye to his friend and ran a hand through his hair. Yakov always insisted they spent too much time talking to each other.

"You shouldn't spend so much time talking to your competitors." Yakov would tell him. "You have to focus on your training."

Yuri never really cared much what that old man had to say. He had finally made one friend, and Yakov wasn't his dad anyway. Well, he was his official guardian until he turned 18, but he was almost there. Only two more years and he'd be able to live his own life without constant supervision.

But the figure that emerged from around the corder wasn't his coach. It was the Japanese Yuuri. His rival had grown out his hair and now wore it in a half-up bun, the rest cascading down to brush his shoulders. "Oh, hey Yurio." He said, waving a hand. "What are you still doing here?"

"Yakov had to run some errands and probably just forgot I was here or something." He snapped the maths textbook closed and shoved it into his bag. "I'll just walk home." The young skater slung it over his shoulder and stood, stretching from the tangled position he had been sitting in for the past hour.

"You can come to our place if you want. I actually got pretty good grades in college, so I can help you study. I know you have your end of year exams coming up." Yuuri said, digging through his locker for something. He breathed a sigh of relief and pulled out a manilla envelope with large japanese characters scrawled across it.

"Are you making food? I'm hungry. And Lilia's cooking stinks..." He looked up at the older man, an eyebrow raised.

"I was gonna cook, but we can pick up some take out on the way home if you need help studying." Yuuri closed the lock with a metallic click and swung his own bag onto his back.

"As long as I don't have to go back home and get yelled at by Yakov again, I don't care." He shrugged and the two Yuri's exited the rink.

Between the angry yelling in Russian and the sizzling of food in the pans, Yuuri couldn't understand everything that was going on in the living room, but he did know it wasn't going well. Viktor had volunteered to help Yurio with an essay he was supposed to write about a novel he'd been assigned. While he wasn't good with numbers, the skating legend was pretty good with interpretation of themes, as made clear by his successful career. But accepting help, especially from Viktor, wasn't something Yurio was good at. While they had a coach-skater relationship, and a relationship as teammates, the teacher-student relationship was new territory, and breaking the ice, so to speak, wasn't going to be easy.

"I don't understand! Why would she do that if she knew she would die?" Yurio screamed. A string of obsceneties followed, but Yuuri couldn't pick up on them. His Russian was improving, but still had a long way to go.

"That was the whole point! She knew she would die. But it was more important for her to save her family." Now it was Viktor's turn to swear.

Yuuri pulled the pans off the stove, clicked the burners off and set up the table. It was time to intervene before someone started throwing things. He wandered out of the kitchen, pulling the string of his apron loose. "Okay, enough swearing. It's time for dinner. Move it, both of you." Yuuri said, one hand on his hip and the other holding the spatula.

"Yuuri! My love, you always look so cute in that apron!" Viktor pulled him in for a sweet kiss. "But you're wearing far too many clothes under there." He said, matter of factly. Yuuri wasn't sure if he meant to say it that loudly, or if he had just forgotten Yurio was standing behind him.

As if on cue, Yurio made a gagging sound. "You two are disgusting. Keep it in your pants until I leave, okay?" He grumbled and put a single headphone in. Loud rock music drifted out of the dangling earbud as he slouched at the dinner table in his usual spot.

"Hey, no heaphones at the table Yurio." Viktor said, yanking it out of his ear gently as he sat down beside Yurio.

"Stop calling me that!" He growled, snatching his deadphone back and shoving it in his pocket.

"Well there are two Yuris, so he'd have to start calling me one of his pet names he gave me, but I remember you banning those while you're around." Yuuri grinned and set three glasses on the table and poured water into each of them. Viktor chuckled and put his pointer finger to his lips, a Nikiforov pose both boys were very familiar with.

"Ugh, gross. Nevermind..." A loud ding came from the youger boy's phone. He picked it up and smiled softly. A smile that only came from one getting a message from one person.

"How is Otabek doing? He's also study for his final high school exams, right?" Yuuri scooped some rice onto his plate and looked at his counterpart inquisitively.

"He's fine. He was just sending me the answer to a math question we were doing earlier. No big deal." Yurio picked up his plate to lean back into the chair as Viktor delivered an intimidating side eye that made the teenager reverse course.

"Oh, is he helping you study? That's nice of him." Yuuri continued, looking around for the soy sauce he swore he put on the table.

"I guess. Bekah's just better at that stuff. And he offered so it's not like I asked him to." He replied, mouth full of food. There had been enough rule violations at this point that Viktor had given up on trying to correct it for one night.

"Bekah?" Viktor perked up, a grin slowly emerging. "When did that happen?"

Yurio blushed, scrambling for an answer that seemed cool enough to satisfy his teenage rebellion against emotional attachment. "A while ago I guess... It's no big deal."

Blue eyes flashed and silver hairbounced with excitement. "Did he ask you to call him that? Or did you ask him if it was okay?" His excitement over the teenager's only friendship was a little much sometimes, but Yuuri found it endearing that Viktor had taken such an interest in someone that wasn't his fiance. It had become clear to him that Viktor struggled to connect to others in the same way Yuuri used to. It comforted him to know that he wasn't the only skater that had to push out of his shell to make friends.

"Why does it matter so much to you? It's not like we're dating like you losers..." Yurio hid his face further into his hoodie, pulling his hair over his eyes.

"If you're just friends then why are you hiding in your sweatshirt, huh?" Viktor's prodding really was getting on the kid's nerves now. Yuuri put a hand on Viktor's wrist and shook his head, hoping that his fiance would get the message and drop it. But whether he was being purposefully oblivious or his lack of subtlety was rearing its head again, he pressed on.

"Yuuuurioooooo." He sung at the boy, who clearly was reaching his limit in the sharing portion of the dinner conversation. "You aren't giving us an answer...." Viktor's delicate hand brushed aside the unruly tangle of hair in front of Yurio's face, trying to get a better look at him.

"Viktor, he clearly doesn't wanna talk about it. Why don't you leave it alone for now, okay?" Yuuri raised his hands in the signature "make some distance" Katsuki pose.

"Oh come on Yuuri, I'm just teasing him. I remember teasing you a lot too." Viktor wasn't getting this hint. This could get ugly. Yuuri thought, trying to remember anything about his day that could turn the tide of this conversation.

"Yuuuriooo..."

"Viktor, stop."

The tension grew, and eventually the teen smashed his hands against the table so hard it knocked over the pitcher of water.

"I don't know how I feel, and I don't wanna talk about it!" He screamed, panting in frustration. He grabbed his keys and stormed out the door, leaving his books scattered across the living room.

"Viktor." Yuuri said angrily. He picked up the remaining dishes and stormed out of the dining room, still in shock at what his fiance just did.

"Yuuri.... What's wrong?" Viktor called after him, clearly still confused about what just happened. He didn't respond, still angry. He scraped the table scraps into the compost bin before tossing the plates into the sink. Soft padded footsteps approached from behind him and slender arms wrapped around his waist. "Yuu-kun, you know I was just teasing him right?" Viktor said, trying to kiss Yuuri's cheek.

Yuuri sidestepped him, removing his arms and crossing his own in front of his chest. "Don't pet name me right now. I'm mad at you." He took a deep breath to steady his racing mind. "Clearly, he's going through something. He's never had a real friend before and trying to embarrass him isn't going to do him any good. He looks up to you, and you had the audacity to make fun of him." Viktor was clearly wounded.

"I was just joking..." Viktor's eyes lowered, and he wore an expression that was part shame and part guilt. "I didn't think it would hurt him."

"Exactly. You didn't think about his feelings." Yuuri sighed and stepped closer, laying his hands on Viktor's arms, which now rested at his sides. "I know you care about him, and you want him to open up to us but you have to let him do it on his own terms, da?" Viktor answered with a begrudging "da" and ran his hands through his bangs. "Now, go pack up his school things and call Yakov. You're going to go over there and apologize."

"Buy we'll see him tomorrow at practice! And it's so cold out today." Yuuri stopped him and pointed to the living room. Without another word, Viktor swiped his phone from the table and started dialling. Papers rustled and Yuuri could hear his fiance's Russian drift in. He picked up his own phone, surprised to see several texts from Otabek. Pressing his phone into the screen, it unlocked and several messages popped up on the screen.

Otabek Altin: Yuri isn't answering my calls. Is he ok? - 7:56 PM
Otabek Altin: He wanted to go over some of the math earlier. He still isn't answering my messages. - 8:13 PM
Otabek Altin: He won't answer my skype calls either. Did something happen? - 8:24 PM

Yuuri thought it would be more effective to talk to him rather than text. Yurio could be stubborn, but normally he at least sent an emoji or something to acknowledge a message. He picked up on the first ring.

"Yuuri, thank god. Have you seen him? Is he okay?" Otabek sounded frantic on the other end, a display of emotion he didn't let very many people see.

"He was at our place for dinner, and Viktor teased a little too much. He ran off, and he was pretty upset." Yuuri held a finger up towards Viktor, who had materialized in the kitchen holding Yurio's bag.

"Oh." There was a moment of silence. "What was he teasing him about?"

"Oh.. um, well... it was about you.... actually..." He gulped, and took another steadying breath. "We were talking about how you were helping him with school, and he called you Bekah. We've never heard him use that name before, so Viktor got into it a little. Sorry..." Yuuri trailed off at the end, a little embarassed.

"No, don't apologize. It's okay. I started giving him a nickname recently." Another pause. "Maybe it was too much. I don't know a lot about him yet, I guess." The 18 year old sounded nervous.

"Well as much as he says he doesn't like people, I think the three of us are the closest to knowing the real Yuri." He chuckled, reaching a hand out for Viktor's. Their fingers laced together and they smiled at each other. "I can tell that you're really important to him, and you're making an effort to open up just as much as he is. As far as I can tell, it's working. Just be patient. He'll come around."

"Thank you Yuuri. I think I understand now." There was a smile in his voice as he hung up the phone. Viktor kissed the top of Yuuri's head and smiled against his scalp.

"Yakov said he's home now. Locked himself in his room, but that's not strange."

"At least he's home safe. But you better get moving if you're going to make it over there and be home in time for Makka's bedtime walk."

"He said it's okay to bring it to him at practice tomorrow." Viktor put the bag down and pulled the short japanese man into a firm embrace. "I'm sorry I pushed him. You were right, I wasn't being sensitive about how hard this is for him."

"Thank you." He replied, breathing in the sweet smell of cinnamon that seemed to follow Viktor around.

"Were you talking to Otabek just now?"

"Yeah. He was worried about Yurio is all. He really cares about him."

"Is it too late to make a joke about young love?" Viktor laughed. Yuuri just smacked him over the head, laughing along with him.

Chapter Text

Yuri Plisetsky: wait wut? - 4:18 PM

Otabek Altin: This is why I wanted to call you. - 4:19 PM
Otabek Altin: Can you call me tonight? - 4:19 PM

Yuri Plisetsky: im at the old mans place tonight. they definitely will snoop. - 4:22 PM
Yuri Plisetsky: they already are being nosy. - 4:22 PM

Otabek Altin: Yeah I know... I told them... - 4:25 PM

Yuri immediately picked up his phone and called his only friend in the world. "Bekah, what did you tell the piggy and the old man?!" He balanced the phone between his cheek and shoulder as he pulled his blond lochs up into a messy bun. He popped his lolipop back in his mouth, pressing the sour cherry candy into his cheek.

A hesitant voice came from the other side of the phone. "Yura, don't be mad... But they're the ones who helped me arrange my move..."

Yuri stood in silence in the middle of the kitchen, mouth gaping. "You decided to move to Russia and didn't even tell me?! What the fuck!! What kind of friend does that, huh?!"

"I wanted to surprise you. Once your exams were done." Otabek sighed and Yuri could hear him swallow. "I should have told you, I'm sorry."

"Hell yeah, you're sorry! You should be! What kind of asshole does that?" Yuri hops up to sit on the kitchen island, leaning back on his spare hand.

"You're mad. I can tell. I'll talk to you later." He paused. "I really am sorry Yura." And the line went dead.

Yuri just sat staring at his phone. He didn't know if he felt empty or if he simply was experiencing every emotion all at once and his brain decided not to register any of it. How could his best friend not tell him he was moving to Russia to train? Hadn't he just moved back to Almaty? He was so pre-occupied thinking about this betrayal, he didn't notice the other Yuuri and Viktor come in.

"Yurio, we picked up some-" Katsuki stopped as he entered the kitchen. "Yurio? Are you-" But he got cut off. Yuri whipped around and stared both the older skaters dead in the eyes with a look that could cut them to pieces.

"You knew Otabek was moving and didn't tell me?" His voice cracked, holding in both his anger and his disappointment. "My only friend was moving here and you couldn't even let me know?" Every word was louder and angrier than the last.

Viktor laughed, dropping the bags of take-out at his sides. "I guess you found out, huh. Isn't it great?" Yuuri jabbed him in the side, raising a disappointed eyebrow.

"We're sorry Yuri. We wanted to tell you, but he made us promise to keep it a secret." Katsuki bowed to him, a gesture the Japanese man only made when he knew he'd made a huge mistake. It soothed Yuri's anger for the moment, but it was still burning in his chest and his cheeks.

"You don't think I deserved to know?" He spat, mostly at Viktor. Tensions between them had been running high ever since Yuri's tantrum a few days ago. Things had just started to settle out, and this definitely wasn't helping.

Viktor just shrugged, crossing his arms defensively. Yuri lept off the counter and stormed over to Viktor, leaning onto his toes to try to regain some height against the tall man. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. He just growled and stormed into his bedroom.

He had been spending an increasing amount of time with the couple in recent weeks. Most likely because Yakov was driving him crazy with his nagging and the two of them mostly left him alone. They let him take over their spare bedroom completely. They even took him to get some throw pillows and posters to make the space feel more at home for him after the Worlds were over. Some photos of his medal ceremonies from the European Championships and Russian Nationals were displayed in the living room next to Viktor and the other Yuuri's medal shelf.

He slumped onto his bed, staring at the stuffed tiger that Otabek had given him at the Worlds. A tear ran down his cheek thinking about how nobody had bothered to tell him. He wanted to be part of it, and he felt left out like a child. He always felt left out. Being a skating legend at 15 was lonely. He didn't get to be a normal teenager, and as much as he was terrified of being ordinary, it was lonely at the top. He flipped off the light and pressed the memento to his chest. Some time later, a knock on the door, followed by the clink of dishes outside his room singalled the arrival of his dinner. He retrieved it, begrudgingly stuffing his face with the borcht that the couple had picked up from the market earlier that day. He returned the bowl to the hallway, cursing at how good it was despite his less than pleasant mood.

He had turned his notifications off, wanting to wallow in his hurt feelings a while longer, but one person could always pull through his wall of silence. A single text message popped up on his screen, illuminating the now pitch black room. Yuri picked up the phone to find an image from Otabek. He keyed in his passcode after his fingerprint got rejected for the third time, and the image filled his screen.

It was a picture of boxes, stacked in front of a calendar hanging on the wall. A date had been circled, and Yuri had to zoom in to descipher what was written on it. It was in Russian, despite Otabek not speaking the language. He zoomed further, squinting to make out the words.

Yura. It was his nickname, spelled in Russian. The date matched exactly to the date Otabek had told him he was arriving in Russia.

Did this boy move to Russia for him?

---

It had been two weeks since that fight and Yuri hadn't said much of anything about it or the move. But that eventually had to come to an end. He knew that, but it didn't help the sinking feeling in his chest when Katsuki and Viktor called him to the table for dinner on one of many recent evenings spent at their apartment. He knew what he would find on the table, nothing could hide the smell. Pirozhkis were his favourite, and much like Katsuki's obsession with pork cutlet bowls, he was only allowed to have them on special occassions. Or in this case, as a bribe.

He sat himself down, pulling his headphone out before he could be scolded. Two plates of the greasy, tender buns had been set out on the table. Yuri tried to grab one, but Katsuki held up a hand to stop him before it made it to his mouth.

"Before we eat, we have something we want to ask you." Katsuki gave Viktor a grossly romantic and giddy look that made Yuri want to gag. Viktor nodded and squeezed his fiance's hand tightly before they both looked back to the teenager, who looked physically ill just watching them. "We... uh..." Katsuki attempted, but his nerves wouldn't let him finish the thought.

"Yuri, how would you like to live here, with us?" Viktor finished for him.

His jaw dropped. He couldn't speak for a few minutes. His mouth opened and closed like a fish, but no words came out.

"Uh, Yuri? Are you okay?" Katsuki's tone was genuinely worried for him.

But all he could manage was a tiny "why?".

"You spend so much time here, so why not just move in with us!" Viktor exclaimed, throwing his arms up over his head. Katsuki pulled his arms back down, clearly embarrassed by his ridiculous fiance.

"We just thought that since you're always complaining about how much you hate living with Yakov and Lilia, and you do seem to sleep here most nights anyway, it would just be easier."

"But, Yakov would never..." Yuri drifted off.

"We already talked to Yakov. He didn't like it at first, but Yuuri can be very convincing." Viktor winked at Katsuki and they shared a gross kiss. Yuri didn't have the mental awareness to feign barfing sounds at them, still caught up in processing the frankly ridiculous request.

He hadn't even thought about how much time he spent in this place. The two older men set up a room for him, and he had his own chores to do most nights. He supposed it had never crossed his mind simply because he didn't think his controlling coach would hand over any control of his life. But the more he thought about it, the more he did want to leave the stuffy apartment behind and have his own space again.

Viktor and Yuuri never made him feel like a child, even when they scolded him for wearing his headphones or forgetting to do his laundry. They treated him like an equal most of the time, and let him just do what he wanted. It felt good not to be scolded every minute of the day. Maybe this was his ticket to some semblence of a normal life...

"Fine. I'll do it. But I have two conditions." He spat, standing abruptly and holding out his two fingers.

The couple shared a far-too entusiastic hug with each other and smiled at Yuri. Viktor leaned his chin on his hand, trying his hardest to look like a stern father, but his dopey grin ruined his whole act. "Okay, what's the first one?"

Yuri dug out his phone and scrolled through the camera roll for a moment before selecting a picture and turning it around to show his new landlords. "I want to bring my cat." The photo was indeed of his precious pet, a grey and white long haired cat named Potya.

"You'll have to take that one up with Makkachin." The absolutely gigantic poodle bounded in at the sound of his name, pushing into Viktor's legs and demanded to be pet. "But I'm sure it can be done. And the second?"

Yuri smiled down at his pirozhki and thrust his phone back into his pocket. He took a steadying breath, only now realizing he was shaking from head to toe. Was it fear or excitement? He couldn't tell.

"Stop keeping things from me. I'm not a child. And I hate surprises." He mumbled that last part, not intending it to come out at all. "I know I'm only 16, but I already won a Grand Prix and the European Championships in my first year in the senior division." He sighed and sat back down. "All the other skaters treat me like a little kid."

But he felt warm hands on either shoulder, and opened his eyes to see those two idiots leaning over him, grinning. They pulled him into a hug and Yuri didn't know what to do except hug them back. As annoying as these lovesick fools were, they were the closest thing to parents he'd ever had. And for now, that would have to be enough.

Chapter Text

Otabek: I guess this means I'll get to meet Potya when I get there next week - 11:40 AM
Otabek: Still not sure how to pronounce that. - 11:40 AM

Yuri: i'll teach you. its not hard - 11:43 AM

Their daily texts had returned to normal in the few weeks that followed, the betrayal overshadowed by Yuri's own move. Most of his things had been packed within a few days of agreeing, but a few items were left at Yakov and Lilia's place. Since Viktor and Katsuki had told them Yuri would be moving in with them, Yuri had been getting an even colder shoulder from both of his coaches.

Yuri: i still have to get the rest of my stuff. talk tonite? - 11:46 AM

Otabek: Of course Yura. Don't beat them up too badly. They're still your coaches. - 11:47 AM

Yuri paused at the door to their apartment, taking a deep breath. There were only two shoeboxes left, plus some old clothes he could shove into his backpack. He'd be in and out in 10 minutes. Thankfully, Viktor had volunteered to drive him home with it, since they needed to pick up some of Bekah's stuff from the post office anyway. He had mailed a bunch of his things ahead of time, something Katsuki had suggested from his experience moving to St Petersburg only six months prior.

It was nearly July, and Russia was getting uncomfortably warm for a bunch of figure skaters. Well, for the Russian ones anyway. Katsuki seemed pretty happy that it wasn't 35 degrees all the time. Yuri made a mental note to look that up later. He shivered as the air conditioning hit his sweat-dampened skin. He danced through the narrow apartment, using all the ballet training Lilia had beaten into his muscles to make as little noise as possible. He slowly shut the door to his tiny bedroom, releasing a tense sigh. He slung his backpack to the ground and unzipped it, shoving the small pile of T-shirts into the largest pocket. the two shoeboxes of his junior medals were heavier then he thought, clinking as he picked them up. Dammit. This is gonna be so loud.

He took one last look at the 3 meter by 3 meter room that had been his whole life for the last year. Finally he was free of this place. Maybe now he could have some peace. With that thought, he threw open the door and sprinted for the exit. He nearly tripped over the kitchen chair, faceplanting straight into a broad chest. Yuri looked up, terrified of the old man's face he knew was waiting for him with a look of disapproval not seen since the day Viktor left for Japan.

"Yuri Plisetsky. You are making the worst kind of mistake if you walk out of here. Viktor has ruined his own life, and you're going to let him ruin yours."

"You can't stop me Yakov. I'm not wasting my life. I'm living it." He was calm. He wasn't sure how, but he didn't feel the need to yell or scream. "Viktor is showing me there's more to life than skating."

"He left the ice after he had a career. You're too young to make your own decisions. You don't know what you're doing." His voice was getting louder, and Yuri knew he had to get out before he said something stupid.

"I won the Grand Prix Final. At 15. And you're just an old man. I guess you're the expert on ruining lives." He pushed past him, rage building in his chest. He threw the key down on the doormat and pushed outside. The warm air filled his lungs and took all the oxygen with it. Either that, or he had finally taken a breath after holding his anger in for just a little too long.

Viktor was waiting, standing outside the car in one of Katsuki's tshirts, uncomfortably short shorts, and flip flops. Yuri couldn't decide which part to mock first by the time he shoved his backpack and shoeboxes into the back seat of the car, so he settled for rolling his eyes. Viktor joined him inside the car, waving up at Yakov with a sweet but condescending smile. He turned the key and the car rumbled. Yuri cranked up the AC and the music, one of his punk-rock CDs blaring as they drove off. They sat in silence most of the way to the post office. After a while, Viktor turned down the music and put a hand on the teen's shoulder.

"I'm proud of you, Yuri." The simple statement rang in his ears. The heavy beat of the drums, the humming of the engine, even the drone of other cars around them, all faded and blurred. He used to hate Viktor with everything he had in him. He hated him for leaving to train the Piggy, for leaving the competition his first year in the senior division, for forgetting his promised short program. But now, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't hate Viktor fucking Nikiforov. No matter how annoying, forgetful, pushy or embarrassing he was, Viktor had been nothing but kind to him.

"What?"

"I said I'm proud of you. Standing up to Yakov is scary. I remember when I was your age, I tried to do the same thing. We fought, and I couldn't bring myself to actually leave. I regret that." They pulled into the parking lot of the small post office. The engine dulled and stopped, the music dying with it. They sat in silence for a few moments before Yuri spoke.

"Is that why you went to Japan? Because you didn't want to stop yourself and regret it?" He asked, not looking up from his hands nervously picking at his fingernails.

"That was part of it." He took a deep breath in, held it, and blew the air out from between his tightly pursed lips. "I don't honestly know all the reasons I went to Japan, but I'm glad I did." He smiled and looked back at Yuri, lifting his chin to look up at him. "And I'm glad you did too." Yuri smiled and opened the door, stepping out into the afternoon sun and stretching his arms over his head. They walked into the post office together, retrieving the small mountain of boxes with the help of the strong looking college student working at the counter.

The drive home was uneventful. They returned to Katsuki napping with Makka on the couch, phone dangling from his hand and glasses perched on the tip of his nose. Viktor initiated the most sickeningly adorable tickling match ever seen by human eyes, and Yuri retreated to his room with the last of his belongings. He dumped the boxes of medals beside the shelf he intended to display them on, too tired to unpack them now. He laid on his bed, brushing some crumbs off his tiger-striped blanket and pulled out his phone. Some Instagram notifications, spam emails, and messages in the groupchat Phichit created after the GP Final of all the competitors (plus Viktor, obviously). The current conversational topic was Christophe's new cat, who looked a lot like Potya if the colours were reversed. Names had been suggested, but Chris was still undecided. Apparently his boyfriend had named the first cat and he was content to let him name this one too. Yuri felt the soft fur of his own little friend brush up against his leg and he swooped her up, holding her above him Lion King style while she wiggled.

"That cat might be cute, but it'll never be as cute as you, right Potya?" He cooed, setting her down on his stomach and combing through her fur with his fingers. She mewled softly and decided this was an acceptable place to curl up, content with the amount of attention she was currently gettinng. Her purrs rumbled against his skin, and Yuri managed to snap a few pictures before her tail flicked up into his face. Two of the photos went to the groupchat, eliciting excited heart-eyed emojis from Phichit and JJ. He set his phone down on his chest and continued petting Potya, who was sound asleep. As much as he was compared to a kitten, he had always been jealous of their ability to sleep anywhere.

Katsuki knocked on the doorframe, and Yuri groaned an acceptance to the unspoken question. His namesake sat on the edge of his bed, also giving Potya a firm scratch between the ears. She'd finally had enough contact with humans and lept from the bed, prancing off to engage with her second favourite hobby, bothering the dog. The push off of Yuri's stomach made him grunt, and Katsuki chuckled.

"Viktor and I are going to take the boxes over to Otabek's new place. You wanna come?" Katsuki asked, leaning back on his hands.

"Wait he already has a place?" Yuri exclaimed, sitting up suddenly. Maybe it was a little too suddenly because a rush of blood to his head made the room spin a few times before settling back to normal.

"Yeah, we wanted to wait for him to get here, but Viktor knows some people and the place was ready right away. And I get the feeling Otabek doesn't like apartment hunting." He stood, stretching his legs with a satisfied sigh.

"Yep, he hates it. He doesn't really care about the place he lives in as long as it has space for a bed." Yuri stood up as well and they walked towards the door.

"Is he nervous to move here? I remember moving to Detroit, it was so scary." Thye slipped on their shoes and locked the door behind them, leaving Makkachin to the mercy of Yuri's moody ball of terror.

"He's actually excited. Living with little sisters apparently gets old."

"Ha, I can understand that. From what he's said about them in the groupchat, they're a handful. I'm lucky Mari wasn't crazy like that. We fought so much."

"I guess. I don't really get siblings. Don't have any." He shrugged as they stepped out into the sun once again. Viktor was already opening the back doors and had a box balanced precariously on his knee while taking a selfie. Typical Viktor.

"Oh yeah, I forgot you. I guess you wouldn't understand what that's like." Katsuki had that sentimental look on his face that came out when he missed home. "But no matter how annoying they are, you still love them. I imagine it's the same for him." He took the box from Viktor, giving him a scorned look that told him to be more careful with Otabek's things.

"Wait, why are you taking the boxes out, I thought we were taking them to his new place?" Yuri said, crossing his arms and tilting his head.

Viktor and Katsuki exchanged giggly looks and pulled out more boxes. "We are." Viktor said, again balancing a box on his knee. "But we don't have to carry them very far. Look." He pointed to the building across the street from their own. Yuri's jaw dropped and The Idiots laughed. Katsuki handed him a box and waved him to follow them. He was speechless the entire way up the stairs and into the apartment.

It was spacious and open conept, much like their own home. The appliances were all stainless steel, the countertops were sprawling and dark. There was no furniture in the place. Yuri made a mental note to point it out, since The Idiots were too likely not to notice until Otabek arrived next week. They set the boxes down in the middle of what will probably be the living room and Yuri took the liberty of exploring this new space. There was only one bedroom, but the walk-in closet made the small room a little more bearable. He imagined the closet lined with Bekah's leather jackets and monochromatic tshirts. It was probably too much space, Bekah was a very simple man. He didn't own a lot of things. He felt a fluttering in his chest at the thought of Otabek letting Yuri decorate for him, although tiger print and black and gold weren't the look he would go for.

The crown jewel of the place was the bathroom. It could have been it's own separate room, it was so large. Sprawling white tiles felt cool against his bare feet. There was a shower stall larger than even the one in his own apartment (which Yuri had unfortunately heard The Idiots giggling in too many times than he was comfortable with). It even had one of those tiled benches in it. Across the room was a bathtub, simple and a fairly normal sight. There was a wide coutertop and a large mirror. Yuri walked in and just twirled around in it, astounded that he could do a full pirouette without coming close to hitting anything.

"It's pretty nice, da?" Viktor materialized in the doorway, leaning on the frame. His arms were crossed and he was wearing a proud smirk.

"That's one way to put it..." Yuri replied, still gaping at the absolutely fucking amazing bathroom he was in. He was honestly jealous. He'd just moved in with these two weirdos and Otabek got this place. "Did you send him pictures yet? He's gonna be so excited."

"Oh right, I should probaby let him know. Thanks Yurio." He rolled his eyes as the old man chased after his fiance, because he couldn't be trusted to take pictures of anything that wasn't him or Chris. He took one last look before heading off after him. They hauled the rest of the boxes up in two more trips up the stairs. He thanked whatever God existed for the invention of air conditioning as they returned to their own apartment.

Chapter Text

Katsuki fixed some japanese rice dish for dinner, which Yuri took to his room to eat on his customary Thursday night video call with Bekah.

"Hey Yura." Bekah's deep, smooth voice came through the speakers of his laptop.

"Hey Bekah." Yuri manged to mumble through a mouthful of fried rice. Katsuki's cooking was one of the best parts of living with them. Everything he made was to die for. Sometimes he even outdid the food back at the hot spring.

"Remind me to teach you some table manners." He laughed, taking a small bite of his own dinner. Yuri couldn't tell what it was, but from what he heard on the other end of the screen, it was good.

"Bleh, why? If people don't like it when I talk and eat, they should just not talk to me."

"I don't think you'd be very happy if I just stopped talking to you." A twinge in Yuri's chest made him flinch, swallowing his bite of rice and knotting his eyebrows together.

"Well you're different."

"Really?" Bekah said, amused. He rested his hand on his chin and grinned. "How so?"

Shit. Why was Bekah different? How was he going to explain that? He could feel his face go hot, flustered by the question.

"Uh... Well, um... You're just.... You're just different, okay?" He pulled up the hood on his hooded tank top up over his ears, hiding how much that burning redness had spread over his face. Bekah let out a deep bellied laugh. Yuri almost fucking swooned. This boy was so dangerous, with his sweet eyes, and absolutely amazing laugh. His heart was racing as he scrambled to find a new topic of conversation.

"By the way Yura, thanks for reminding Viktor to send me those pictures. My sisters have been asking for days to see the new place." For the second time that day, Yuri thanked a God he didn't necessarily believe in. And it was a miracle that Otabek had changed the subject, because he was drawing a blank on how to form a complete, non-idiotic thought.

"Oh did he tell you I reminded him? He's always forgetting stuff like that. I don't know how he managed to get this far..." Yuri shoved another spoonful of rice into his mouth, pulling the bowl out of reach of the very hungry cat pawing at his arm.

"Haha, no. But I figured it was either you or the other Yuuri, and Katsuki was actually the one who sent the photos." He nearly spit out his rice. Of course it was Katsuki who sent them. Viktor must have forgotten again. So typical.

"So did they freak out about that closet? I mean, do you even have enough clothes to fill that thing?"

"Yeah, but not as much as the bathroom. And I must admit, you do look good in the middle of it." Wait, what was Bekah saying? His expression must have conveyed his confusion, because Otabek scrolled through his phone and turned it to face the camera. The picture featured Yuri, mid-pirouette in the centre of the bathroom, his arms extended in front of him. His thin figure and blond ponytail made him look like a ballerina, which he supposed was typical considering one of his coaches was a former prima ballerina. Clearly calming his nerves tonight wasn't going to work. He immediately felt the rush of heat back to his cheeks. In a moment of sheer panic, he slammed the laptop closed, panting. His heart was racing, and his chest felt so tight, it was hard to breathe. What was happening to him? He'd never felt like this before, except before the Rostellecom Cup short program. But he didn't feel panicked, so what was this?

Realizing what he had done, he opened the laptop and called Bekah back. He picked up on the first ring. Before he could say anything, Yuri blurted out a rushed "sorry", burying his face in a pillow. But Otabek's kind smile calmed the storm inside him. Those eyes pierced him, pulling out all the swirling thoughts and leaving only a sense of peace behind.

"It's okay Yura. I was pretty sure Viktor hadn't told you about the photo. You just looked so happy in it." Bekah had finished his dinner and set the plate aside, leaning back in his chair.

"I don't know, it was just so big and I wanted to test out how much space there was in there. I didn't think anyone was watching..."

"I thought it was cute." Yuri's heart skipped a beat. Cute? He didn't think that Bekah was making fun of him, but something didn't sit right about the word cute being used to describe him. Especially not by his best (and only) friend.

They talked about the moving, and about furniture. Bekah agreed to let Yuri and Viktor help him decorate, but all design choices had to be approved by Otabek and Katsuki. He wasn't sure why the other Yuuri was considered a reasonable voice when it came to home decor, but he had gained enough ground to start shopping for rugs and a couch. Budgeting was a concern, since Otabek didn't have as much money as the three of them, but since winning three golds in his first season, Yuri would just cover the difference and not tell him. Even if Otabek found out, he was fairly convinced that between Viktor and himself, Bekah wouldn't stand a chance. They ended up deciding on a dark wine red couch. Otabek placed the order, which indicated it would be arriving the day before he got there. Buying furniture felt like such a grown up thing to do, and he was more than excited to spend some of his hard earned money, especially since Yakov and Lilia never let him buy anything fun with it. They decided on a few more items, and Yuri boasted about how close he would be to each other when Bekah's younger sisters came in to sneak a peek at who was their older brother's one and only friend.

"Yura, it's late here. And I have training tomorrow. We should both get some sleep." Bekah said finally. He stood from his chair, stretching. Yuri could hear his knees cracking through the microphone.

"Yeah, but this will be our last video call since you're gonna be getting ready to move." Yuri whined, shoving his face into a pillow.

"Yura." Bekah said firmly. He walked off screen for a moment, and Yuri could just make out the rustle of clothes falling to the floor. When he reappeared, the Kazakh was wearing dark grey sweatpants and had his shirt half pulled over his chest, chiseled abs rippling as he pulled the black tshirt down over his torso. Yuri had to clamp a hand over his mouth so as not to gawk at the sight. Being 16 and posessing the body of a fairy, Yuri's own muscles didn't look like that, at least not yet. Puberty hadn't fully taken hold, but it would soon. He found himself jealous of Otabek's definition. He was the shape of a man, at least everything Yuri had been taught about what men were supposed to look like. But there was another feeling too. He couldn't place it, but it made his ears ring and the warmth that had been swirling in his cheeks all night had moved much lower.

"Fine. Good night Bekah. I guess I'll see you next week." He smirked and rolled his eyes.

"Good night Yura. Sleep well." The call ended, and Yuri rolled over to lay on his back, clutching to pillow against his chest. Potya had been fed a few hours ago, and had demanded to be let out into the living room to be pampered by Katsuki, who had taken a certain liking to brushing out her long fur while watching TV.

What were these feelings welling up inside of him? He'd never felt this way for anyone. His life had been built around skating, and that was all he was ever allowed to think about. But now, living with The Idiots, maybe it was time to live for something else too. Viktor had managed to skate and enjoy the other parts of his life, so maybe Yuri could too.

So he laid there, his eyes closed. He let his mind drift back to the video call, to Bekah's kind eyes. The way he never got upset with Yuri for losing his temper, or in this case, slamming the laptop closed when he realized Viktor had been watching him dance around Bekah's new bathroom. He thought about how much space Bekah's clothes would take up in that closet, and taking him shopping to wear more colours than just black, white and grey. And of course he thought about pulling that shirt back up over his chest, feeling every crevice of his ultra-defined figure. Standing so close to him that Bekah's breath tickled his forehead. So close, that Otabek could reach out and wrap his arms around—

Wait, how did he get there? Otabek was his best friend. The only friend he had really, unless he wanted to admit that he didn't completely hate the two romantic dumbasses he currently lived with. Is this how friends are supposed to be? No. He didn't have much to go off of, but what he was sure of was that this wasn't how it usually was. This was different. And different had always been scary for him. Especailly different when it came to people.

Normally he hated people. Like, really fucking hated them. But for some reason, Bekah was different. He couldn't quite place it, though. Maybe it was that other skaters were all so outgoing and friendly. The GPF had certainly proven that. Or maybe it was as simple as Otabek saving him from the Angels in Barcelona on his bike. His fucking motorcycle. Wow, he's so cool, driving a motorcycle. Yuri thought to himself, turning onto his side. It was late, nearly 10, which was late when you woke up at 5:30 for practice every morning. He curled up in bed, hugging his stuffed tiger to his chest. Daydreams about Otabek followed him into his sleep.

Chapter Text

The day Otabek landed in St Petersburg, Yuri was unfortunately caught up in meetings with sponsors. Meetings he didn't have any say in since he was only 16, but was required to attend since he was the subject of the sponsorships. Yakov and Lilia had insisted on his phone staying away during these things, but it didn't matter much since Bekah was on a plane most of the day anyway.

Yuri got home from the long day of training and meetings to find Katsuki and Viktor gone, with a note indicating the list of chores Yuri was supposed to complete in their absence. There was nothing in the note about where they went, but he had a feeling it had something to do with Otabek's various furniture deliveries. Makkachin whined and scratched at his leg, something he only did when he really needed to go out and hadn't gotten a lunchtime walk. Yuri grabbed an apple from the fridge and Makka's leash and the pair headed outside for a short exploration of the four block radius of their usual route. He knew the walk should be longer, but Makka would get plenty of attention from his two dads, so he didn't feel too bad.

Upon his return, something felt different about the apartment. To start with, Makka charged off the leash and into Yuri's bedroom, a behavior usually reserved for Potya after a trip to the vet. There were two sets of keys on the kitchen counter, but none that belonged to anyone who lived in this house. There were only three keys, one of which was for this apartment, accompanied by a second, new key. The other only had one, the mystery key, and a small tiger striped fabric loop. His heart nearly jumped out of his chest as he realized what this was. He toed off his shoes frantically and sprinted to his bedroom door, nearly sliding off his feet as his socks failed to take hold of the hardwood floor.

And there, sitting at the edge of his bed, was a tall, dark figure with one hand buried in the fur of each pet. Potya, who normally didn't like anyone save the pair of Yuris, was loudly purring at the scratches she was receiving behind her ears and under her chin. Makka was being his usual self, drooling all over anyone who would let him. Compared to the bright colours that filled Yuri's room, the man seemed so solemn. But all that changed when he looked over to a flushed and panting Yuri in the doorway.

"Hi Yura." His heart had been pounding in his ears so furiously, he nearly missed it. And for the first time, he felt like he might die.

Otabek. His best friend. His only friend, was finally here. Yuri's feet left the ground as he pounced on Bekah like a kitten, who caught him with a grunt. The embrace was so tight, he thought his lungs might collapse, but he didn't care. Bekah was finally here, and he wasn't going to let him leave ever again.

"I missed you too." Otabek finally said, putting him down so Yuri was standing on the bed. Since his growth spurt hadn't happened yet, they now stood about equal height. Yuri could get lost in that deep brown sea staring back at him. His cheeks hurt from smiling so wide, and as he pulled out of the hug he left his arms on the other man's shoulders. Bekah wasn't wearing a jacket at the moment, just black jeans and a dark grey tshirt. Yuri could feel the muscles under the thin fabric, strong and lean. He'd dreamed about that feeling, but nothing he had imagined compared to the warmth of the touch.

"Hi..." Yuri said, his voice a little unsteady from all the excitement. They stared for a few more seconds before Yuri cleared his throat and continued. "When did you land?"

"A few hours ago. Viktor insisted on picking me up at the airport and taking me straight to my place. He was waiting for you to come home to send me in here."

"But the flight was okay?"

"Yes. It was just a plane ride."

"And the place, you like it?"

"Of course Yura. Viktor and the other Yuuri are over there trying to figure out how to put together a couch. I told them it was fine, but you know how it is when Viktor gets his way. He wanted me to come see you." Otabek grabbed Yuri, pulled him into another hug and deposited him on the floor. Yuri giggled at the gesture, something he didn't even know he was capable of. "We can talk about everything while we eat. I'm starving."

They moved their conversation into the kitchen while Yuri opened his phone to text The Idiots about dinner. Viktor sent an image of the two of them in Otabek's place with groceries on the counter, Katsuki busy with several pans, followed by the number 20, and a smiley face. So clearly he was a little drunk. Not surprising considering the exciting life event taking place. He never needed a reason to celebrate, but would take every opportunity to do it anyway.

Yuri showed the texts to Bekah, who's deep bellied laugh nearly brought Yuri to his knees. Without a delay from the sound to the image, and with no microphones or speakers between them, it sounded all the more amazing to his ears. Another ding of his phone alerted Yuri to feed Makka before they came over, which he did, and they grabbed their keys before making their way to the door. Yuri picked up his keys and the new less mysterious key, clipping it onto his keyring with a truly adoring smile.

"I wasn't sure if you'd like it, but I guess I was wrong." Another laugh. Was this boy trying to make him swoon? He couldn't decide before blurting out an answer.

"Of course I like it. I love it! You know me so well Bekah!" They slipped on their shoes and headed over for food. The moment they walked in, a cheer came from the two men already inside. Yuri looked up at Otabek, full of so many emotions he couldn't name them all. Was Otabek blushing? He couldn't tell, but chose to believe he was. Dinner smelled amazing, though nobody except Katsuki could really tell what it was. Before anyone could ask, Viktor shoved glasses of wine into both of their hands and laughed, ruffling Yuri's hair. He looked up at Bekah and mouthed a quick 'I'm sorry' before Viktor launched into a half drunken speech.

"Otabek! Yuri's been waiting for you to get here for months! He's been so excited. He missed you so much and I think having his friend so close is really gonna help him out..." He drifted off a little and Katsuki saved what little dignity Viktor had by calling that dinner was finished. They had managed to put together the dining room table and chairs, which had place settings for four people. Dishes of rice and vegetables had been placed in the center, as well as two bottles of wine, though one was clearly empty, abducted by Viktor before his fiance could stop him.

"Sorry about him! He has just been excited about this move. We all have. We're really happy you're here." Katsuki placed the last bowl on the table and sat down, waving for everyone else to sit. He moved the wine firmly out of Viktor's reach before his fiance could embarrass himself further.

"Thanks. I'm happy to be here. As much as I wanted to stay in Almaty, there's more resources here. And friends." Bekah smiled at Yuri, who blushed and resumed his usual gremlin-like beahvior hiding under his hood. The clink of plates and silverware filled the room as they ate, talking about where was best to buy groceries and which markets were less busy on the weekends.

---

After dinner was finished and a celebratory cake had been brought out, the two native Russians were relegated to cleanup while Yuuri and Otabek finished building the couch. Yuuri, fully embodying the stereotype of 'gay men can't build anything', had barely been able to decipher the instructions. They were mostly in Russian, and the pictures were slightly confusing. But Otabek had much more success in the traditional manly skills department than the other three, and for that he knew they were all grateful. Once assembled, they sat on opposite ends of the deep red sofa, finishing off their second glass of wine.

"Normally, only Viktor would drink this much, but I think today calls for an exception." Yuuri said, looking thoughtfully at the glass in his hand. "We really are glad you're here. It'll be good for your skating," He continued, glancing back towards the kitchen with a grin. "and it'll be good for Yuri to have a friend."

Otabek smiled and sipped the red liquid, feeling it weigh heavy on his tongue. He hadn't been fond of alcohol, but he would have felt bad not partaking since Yura had been so excited at the prospect of his dads letting him have a little, just this once. "I know. And I'm happy that it's done now. It was so stressful for Yura to have to wait all this time. And dealing with Yakov and Lilia after he moved out hasn't been easy for him either." He sighed and took another sip, grateful for the distraction from his buzzing brain. "It's been so hard for him. I just wish I could have been here sooner."

Katsuki chuckled and put his empty glass down on the floor next to the half-assembled coffee table. "I think knowing that you were coming helped him through it. He's never had friends before, well, other than maybe Mila. But I think he puts up with her more than anything else." He paused and smiled at Otabek, a kind and gentle smile that reassured him somehow. "Viktor and I wanted to thank you. For being Yuri's friend. We know he's not an easy person to deal with all the time, but you've helped him so much."

"You don't have to thank me, really!" He grinned nervously and waved a hand in front of him. He took a deep breath, steadying himself. When he continued, his tone was different. "I'm his friend because I like him. He puts up the walls so people don't see how lonely and vulnerable he is. That day in Barcelona, I think I knocked a little bit of it down." His cheeks tingled, but whether it was the alcohol, the jet lag, or something else was a mystery.

"Well whatever you did, he's become a whole new person." A clanking from the kitchen, followed by a series of insults. "Maybe not an entirely new person. But he's growing up. We're just glad he didn't have to do it alone." Yuuri's eyes were so deep, his gaze felt like a warm hug. He could see why Katsuki and Viktor worked so well together, they calmed each other's neuroses and had so much love for each other. And for Yuri. And perhaps now for him as well.

Several more crashing sounds later, Viktor had been banished to the couch. He sat basically on top of his fiance, but it was never gross when it happened, no matter how much Yura protested. It was an expression of how much they loved each other, that no matter how close they were, it would never be enough. Otabek smiled and glanced back toward the kitchen as Yuri huffed his way through the remaining dishes. Through all the exhaustion of planes and the heartfelt goodbyes with his sisters at the airport, he wasn't sad that he left his home. Well, he was, but it wasn't because moving to a new country was scary. It was mostly because he would miss his sisters, no matter how annoying they were.

But there was something else lying under that longing for his family. Something hopeful. Perhaps it was because he knew that nothing would really change. There was still skating, and watching movies, and his obsession with music. But as he warched the two lovebirds at the other end of the couch and Yura raging around the kitchen, he realized he had just traded one ridiculous family for another. He could be happy with that.

Chapter Text

"Isn't July a little late to be starting new programs?" Katsuki asked on their daily walk to the rink. They were all a little late that morning, and Yakov would rip them all a new one, but at this point no one seemed to care. Otabek usually walked a little behind, still awkward and not wanting to intrude on the dynamic the three of them already had going. But he could usually hear the conversation well enough.

"I guess, but I've done worse." Viktor chimed in, sunglasses on and bouncing around the group in circles. His mood had been infinitely better the past week, likely because Otabek was finally here and Yuri had made a friend (a fact that still shocked them all some days).

"And what did Yakov think of that decision?" Katsuki asked pointedly. Viktor giggled and walked backwards in front of his fiance.

"It wasn't about what Yakov thought." He kissed Yuuri's nose, making the Japanese skater blush. Yuri made a gagging sound and Otabek just laughed behind them.

"I can't believe I moved in with you two. You're so gross. Bleh." Yuri stuck out his tongue at them and rolled his eyes, falling back to walk beside Otabek.

"Are they any more gross than Yakov and Lilia?" Bekah asked, poking Yuri's shoulder with his elbow.

"That's different." The teenager replied, taking out his headphone and reaching for Bekah's spare dangling one. "They're old and gross. And they used to be married, which is just terrifying." He shuddered at the thought and shifted focus to the mix of electronic beats and sythesizers in his ear.

"Is it because they're basically your dads?" He teased back, making Yuri blush and breathe out aggressively through his nose.

"Why does everyone keep calling them that!? They're not my dads!" Yuri couldn't help but smile. He knew Bekah was only doing it to tease, and the only person actually banned from talking about it was Viktor. There were a lot of things Viktor wasn't allowed to tease him about anymore. His favourite stuffed tiger (a gift from Bekah after the Worlds), the tiger striped wrist loop for his keyring (a gift from Bekah after he moved), or the small stack of records he had purchased (on Bekah's recommendation). And of course, the fact that he called him Bekah. There was definitely a theme, but it wasn't something that Yuri was going to acknowledge. At least not yet, anyway.

The group laughed discordently as they entered the arena. As predicted, Yakov was waiting for them, fuming. His face was positively tomato-like, and the air conditioned rink definitely wasn't the cause. The four sprinted past, only losing a tiny bit of hearing as he screamed after them. Twenty minutes later they were all changed and laced up, headed out on the ice. Nobody had gotten used to the Royal Family of the Ice Palace since Viktor had returned to St Petersburg in January, and Otabek's presence had only refreshed the looks of awe and contempt in their eyes. Mila and Georgi made their usual attempts to make fun of Yuri, only to be shot looks of murderous intent by Bekah standing behind him.

The music he'd picked originally was not up to Lilia Baranovskaya's standards. "Too modern." She had called it. So he was back to skating classical Russian composers. At least for his free program. It was too late to change the short Viktor had been helping him with. In a dramatic change, he had let Viktor pick the music for his short. It worked well enough for him last season, so why not do it again? He had thought. Plus it was less work on him, and picking music had always been terrible for him.

Bekah didn't seem to encounter the same issues with choosing themes or music. His theme for the year was "Evolution", which Yuri predicted would be confusing until the end of time. Maybe that was the point? He couldn't be sure, and didn't have any mind to think about it anymore.

Katsuki had struggled with a theme too. Last years had been "Love", typical for the sappy romantic piggy. But what his motivations were this year was beyond the skater himself.

Viktor, unsurprisingly, had chosen "Endings are just new beginnings". More lovesick crap. Gross.

Mila and Georgi had told him about their themes, but he hadn't really been listening.

Yuri was distantly aware that someone was talking to him as he finished his warm-up laps, but didn't really care much. Lilia had choreographed his free program, another fast-paced and technically difficult routine. Out of the eight jump elements, four of them were quads, including the elusive quad lutz he had yet to land. The step sequences were just as brutal, and he'd been in the ballet studio more than usual trying to not get physically sick doing sets of opposing twizzles. Lilia's constant insults made the day go by faster, and his only break came when a phone call pulled her away from the ice for a few minutes.

As he gazed out into the rink, he took the time to drink in the wholly chaotic scene before him. Katsuki was on his ass again, still failing to consistently land the quad flip. Mila was practicing her layback spins, with Georgi taking pictures and videos for her Instagram. Viktor appeared to be in a whole other world, his determined frown showing his frustration with a step sequence he couldn't quite get right.

And there was Bekah, blasting his way through triple axel combinations with ease and slightly less grace than the rest of the skaters. Yuri had tried to get him to even come to the ballet studio with him, but Bekah's aversion was strong and he insisted that he didn't need it.

They locked eyes for a moment and Yuri felt a rush of blood to his face, quickly turning around to drink some more water before Lilia scolded him for not running through the steps one more time while she finished her call.

By the time the day was finished, Yuri wished they had been back at the hot springs in Japan. His muscles ached, and he knew that tomorrow would be worse, a sentiment shared by Viktor and Katsuki as well.

"I've never been in an onsen before." Otabek remarked, looking utterly not-dead after a hard day on the ice. "What's it like?"

Katsuki's eyes lit up at the chance to talk about his family's business, to which Viktor piled on about his second favourite place in the world. They went on about the baths, the comfy robes, and mostly the food, which Yuri had to agree was fairly magical. "You really should go sometime, my family would love to meet more skaters. Well, you'd have to ignore Minako. She can be a lot sometimes..." Katsuki finished as they turned down their street.

"I remember. She was in Barcelona with... Sorry I forget who was with her." Otabek scratched the back of his head, shoving one hand in his pocket.

"Oh, that was Mari, my sister. She's the one who gave Yurio his nickname!" Katsuki and Viktor laughed, and Yuri groaned and started power-walking towards the apartment building, fumbling with his keys.

"I dibs the shower first, before you two idiots do something gross in there." He yelled, swinging the door open aggressively and bounding up the stairs.

---

Once everyone had showered, it was their weird family's weekly movie night, which had replaced Yuri and Otabek's video calls now that he was living in Russia. Since the only one all four were fluent in was English, they agreed that until Katsuki and Otabek's Russian improved, all the movies would be in the common language. Viktor had argued watching movies in Russian would help them learn, but Katsuki had made up his mind, probably to save Yuri's sanity in having to explain the entire movie to their Kazakh friend.

It was Otabek's week to choose, since it was the first movie night and he was the guest of honour. He had picked an American horror film. He was a big fan of American movies apparently, and Yuri rolled his eyes. Rock music, yes. American movies, ugh no. They were all the same to him. As the soundtrack blared to life, they all settled in the living room, Viktor cuddled into Katsuki's chest on the loveseat, demanding to have his hair pet. Otabek and Yuri sat beside each other on the couch, Otabek leaning into the corner, and Yuri squarely in the middle, cross legged and covered in his favourite fuzzy blanket. Makkachin laid down under the TV on his bed, chewing on some old beat up toy, and Potya would probably appear eventually, demanding to be pet in a similar manner to the figure skating legend a few feet away.

Yuri had expected more gore from the film, frankly. Americans loved watching bad CGI monsters tearing people limb from limb. Gore he could deal with. But this was something else. It wasn't so much horror as constand anxiety, always waiting for the next scare, the next monster, or the next death. He repeatedly almost jumped, inching closer to Otabek every time. Katsuki and Viktor appeared unphased by it, or maybe they were just whispering about something else entirely.

Yuuri leaned down and pressed his lips against the tender skin behind Viktor's ear, causing the taller man to shiver. "So, how long do you think it will take those two to figure out they're totally head over heels for each other?" He couldn't see his fiance's face, but knew Viktor was smiling. Gossiping, especially about their sort-of-adopted-son was his favourite non-skating, non-Yuuri activity.

"I think they know, but just aren't ready to accept it yet." Viktor whispered back. The two teenagers weren't quite to the huddled together in fear stage yet, but there was still half of a movie left. "Just look at the way Yurio moves over every time he gets scared. If I was interested in someone, that's what I would do too." Yuuri ran his fingers through Viktor's long bangs, eliciting a content sigh.

"But look at the way Otabek looks down at him. His hand is stretched out behind him, on the back of the sofa. Like he's protecting him." Yuuri took a sip of water and set the glass back down on the floor next to them. "I think that's the same look you always gave me in the early days."

Viktor laughed and looked back at him, eyes narrowed with a sarcastic accusation. "Do I not look at you like that anymore?" He pouted jokingly.

Yuuri grabbed the sides of his head and pushed it back down so his fiance's ear was resting against his chest. "Of course you do. I just remember that look. I didn't realize it at the time, but I think that look is what made me realize that you loved me too."

"Not our heart-stopping kiss in Beijing!?" Yuuri shushed him and laughed.

"Yes, that too. But that look. That's the look of drinking in the person you care about most in the world. Basking in their existance." He kissed the top of Viktor's head and knotted their fingers together, their matching rings touching. "That's the look of someone who is just content to live in your presence for as long as they let you." He looked down at his fiance with that same look, cataloguing the colours of his eyes, his skin, the flush of his cheeks, the smoothness of his hair; taking in the sight of Viktor Fucking Nikiforov as if it was the first time he'd ever seen it.

"So, how long do you think it'll take? We can even make it interesting and put actual bets on it." Viktor grinned, pressing their clasped hands to his lips. "If I win... I want to take you on vacation somewhere warm with a beach!" He proclaimed, barely hiding his desire to see Yuuri in a swimsuit.

"Okay, but if I win, you're coming back with me on my next trip to Japan." Yuuri leaned forward, cradling Viktor's head with his free hand. "Deal?"

"Deal! But we have to seal it with a kiss." The Russian really was a romantic, Yuuri thought as he leaned down for a long, loving kiss.

An ironically timed scream from the speakers was followed by a less dramatic and more hilarious scream from Yurio, who lept straight off the sofa, scaring Potya into a hiss before she scrambled away. Otabek laid a sturdy hand on the trembling boy's back, chuckling to himself. Some hushed explatives drifted across the room as Yuuri tucked Viktor closer into his lap, grinning at the two boys who were madly, sickeningly lovestruck.

Chapter Text

As Yuri watched his best friend brute-force his way through yet another step sequence, consequently getting scolded by his coach, a smile crept across his face. Otabek was stubborn. Not that Yuri and Katsuki and Viktor weren't. But it was different for him. Nearly every other figure skater did some other form of performance art, even just to advance their skating skills. For Yuri, Katsuki and Viktor, it was ballet. For some of the other skaters, it was gymnastics. But Otabek was different. He was determined to do it his own way, refusing to do ballet or any other kind of dance to augment his skating, even if it meant he looked like a telephone pole flying through the air.

Yuri could relate to being different, something abnormal to the skating community at large. Maybe that's why he and Bekah had become such good friends. Determined to make skating their own, to do things differently. They had certainly proved that during their exhibition skate after the Grand Prix Final. He'd gotten an ear-full from Yakov and Lilia about that. Yuri chuckled at the endless teasing that Viktor and Chris still sometimes attempted to fluster him with. It had been a while since they tried, considering Otabek's move. But the new season was coming and they were probably more focused on putting as much work into their programs as their old man bodies could handle.

Leaning on the boards, he tapped the toe of his sneaker restlessly against the rubber flooring surrounding the ice. He wasn't very good at waiting. As Bekah drifted towards him, he stood, shoving his hands into his pockets. "It's about time. Your coach gave you a thrashing today. Still not happy you won't do ballet?"

Otabek stepped off the ice, wiping his sweat-covered face wth the bottom of his tshirt. A single bead of sweat trickled down, winding its way between his chiseled abs and settled in the sharp V framed by his hips. "Yeah, but it's nothing I haven't dealt with before." He pulled the guards onto his skates and they started off towards the locker room. "Speaking of which, shouldn't you be in the studio with Lilia right now?"

"Nah, something came up and she had to fly to Moscow or something. She'll be gone a while. I still need to practice the stupid choreography but the studio is so creepy when I'm alone in there." Yuri shivered at the thought. "I was just gonna do it at home."

Bekah laughed as they sat down, unlacing his skates and grunting as he pulled one off. A sigh of relief escaped him and he leaned back, wiggling his toes. "I can go with you. You know I like watching you dance."

Yuri blushed, feeling the red seep across his cheeks and in his ears. "But you don't dance. Won't you be bored down there while I practice?" He was grateful his friend was too busy massaging his feet to notice how shaky his voice was.

"Yura, I don't mind. I should stretch out anyway. We can go for a little while and then head home early before movie night." Bekah shoved his skates into his bag and slung it over his shoulder. It hit his back with a thud. Goddamn, that boy was built like a brick. He had a point, Lilia would be more upset if he did nothing than if he at least walked through the routines a few times. With a groan, he mumbled an agreement and they headed to the studio. Late afternoon sunbeams streamed in through the high windows. Otabek sat near the door, spread out on the floor just like Potya did on sunny days. He went through the motions of his stretches as Yuri shed his hoodie and slipped into his dance shoes. He began at the bar, going through the warm up exercises he'd been doing since he could walk. Going through all the basic positions, stretching out his ankles and doing a few single pirouettes.

Groaning through it all, he went through the motions of the routine Lilia had been drilling into him. It was a good base, but it still wasn't his style. Not that his coaches would let him express his actual intentions for his brand as a skater, but he could at least try to deliver it in his own way. He could feel Otabek's eyes on him, and his chest ached at the thought. Bekah's gaze was heavy on his mind, and his tired muscles. Distracted, he faultered, nearly crashing face first into the bar. Steady hands caught him just in time. Yuri braced against the solid chest in front of him and peered up to see a worried Bekah just inches away. He smelled of sweat, but something light and sweet underneath it. He felt solid, like a moss covered stone, soft to the touch but strong underneath.

The alarms in his brain began blaring. Heat rose to his face, his chest tightedned so much it was difficult to breathe, and what little strength he had left in his quivering legs failed him. He gripped Bekah's shirt as he sank slowly to the floor, breathing hard.

"Yura!" Otabek sounded scared, but it was just a guess. Yuri's world spun. His head ached. He wrenched his eyes shut in an attempt to gain control of whatever his body was doing to him. "Yura, you're exhausted. Let's go home, okay?" Yuri managed a nod and sat back, pulling off his dance shoes and shoving them into his backpack. Otabek offered him an arm to help him up, keeping ahold of his hand and using his other to gently grasp Yuri's arm, steadying him on his feet. The other skater passed him some water, which he downed ravenously, not realizing how hot and thirsty he was. The buzzing in his ears started to dissipate and his breathing returned to normal.

"I'm okay. I think I forgot to eat lunch is all." Yuri said, walking slowly out of the studio and into the warmth of the evening. He leaned his head up, letting the rays drench his face. He paused, adjusting his hair off of his damp skin. A light breeze made him shiver, whisking sweat from the nape of his neck. A sturdy arm caught his waist and Yuri gasped, surprised at the sudden contact. His shirt had ridden up while he was dancing, and a calloused thumb brushed against the skin on his ribs. "I'm okay!" It came out louder than Yuri wanted, and a little angrier. Otabek's hands retreated and the taller man swallowed.

"Alright. Let's just get you home. You can shower at my place if you want. It has that bench in it so you could sit if you need to." Yuri nodded, and they spent the rest of their walk in near silence. They arrived at Otabek's apartment, and he offered Yuri the shower first. "I'll grab you some towels." Yuri pulled open the door of the shower and twisted the faucet as far as it would go. Steam quickly filled the room. He stepped out of his clothes and piled them on the counter. The pounding streams of water felt so heavenly on his tired muscles. The tension and soreness melted away, and for a while he just stood in the water, letting it pour over him. He inhaled the steam, letting it fill his lungs with the sweet smell that always followed Bekah wherever he went. It was some kind of flower, and maybe sandalwood underneath? Whatever it was, Yuri wanted to wrap himself in it.

By the time he was finished there was a layer of steam hanging in the air like fog in a horror movie. Two grey towels had appeared on the counter next to his clothes, as well as a pair of grey sweatpants and a hoodie with a note scrawled in some very rough Russian. Yuri smirked as he read "no sweat, you wear these" in the most child-like writing he'd seen in a long time. But having just moved here, it wasn't a bad attempt at a new language. The clothes were soft, though far too big for his slim frame. No matter how tight he tried tying the sweatpants, they wouldn't stay up, but he did take the liberty of pulling the hoodie over his head. It could have been a dress, but Yuri didn't care. His leggings weren't awfully gross since Lilia was away, so he chose to keep wearing those.

He squeezed what remaining water he could out of his hair and opened the bathroom door. Otabek was lounging on his couch, one arm up on the back of it, legs out on the coffee table. The Kazakh stirred as Yuri walked down the short hallway. "Feel better?" He asked, standing up off the couch.

"Yeah. Thanks." He held up the note and smirked. "This is what really made me feel better though." Otabek turned his head to hide his face, but Yuri caught the slightest tinge of pink on his dark skin. "It's not bad considering you started learning to write in Russian like, three weeks ago."

Bekah scratched the back of his head as he passed Yuri. "I guess. The letters are hard. They're the same as in Kazakh, but some of them sound different."

"I guess that makes sense." Yuri shrugged, wandering into the kitchen. "Hey, be quick. Viktor wants us over in 20 minutes."

"I don't take nearly as long as you do, princess." The bathroom door closed before the Russian's fury could reach him.

---

A half hour later and they were back at Home Base, a nickname given to the apartment shared by the trio by none other than Viktor himself. They had argued about it, Katsuki reminding everyone that Otabek technically didn't live there, despite being present almost constantly, so simply calling it home would be weird. Yuri had argued that the rink was their actual base of operations, since that's where they spent most of their time, and Otabek pointed out they couldn't call it 'Viktor's apartment' forever. But when Viktor set his mind to something, that's what it was. Exhibit A, Yuri's very annoying nickname.

"Yurio! You're late. I already picked the movie and you can't veto it so don't complain!" Viktor and Katsuki were already on the smaller sofa, remote in hand. The two teens dropped their things on the kitchen table, grabbed their snacks and assumed their own positions on the couch.

"What did you pick, old man?" Yuri groaned. Otabek ruffled his partially dry hair and laughed, eliciting a short burst of explatives from the younger boy.

"We're gonna watch an amazing romantic movie. It's so dramatic! It's about this woman who moves to this small town after her—" Viktor was stopped by his fiance's hand over his mouth.

"Come on, just start the movie." Katsuki said, snatching the remote and pressing play. A sappy violin soundtrack roared to life from the TV. It didn't take long for Yuri to get bored of it, trying to sneak use of his phone when The Idiots weren't paying attention. Otabek chuckled, wondering how long it would take for him to get busted.

"I thought there was a strict 'no phones during the movie' rule." Otabek whispered, leaning in towards Yuri's ear so as not to alert the 'adults' as his friend affectionately called them. Yuri rolled his eyes, or at least Otabek could feel the attitude from behind the blond curtain of hair.

"If they picked less stupid movies I wouldn't have to be on my phone to keep from puking." He made a little retching sound that made the Kazakh chuckle. "I don't even know why he likes these. Doesn't he have a gross fiance to be stupid and romantic with?"

"Hey, just let them enjoy it. It was Viktor's turn to pick. You get to watch whatever you want when its your turn." He adjusted himself to be wedged into the corner of the couch, one leg on the cushions and one foot on the floor. He held out an arm to Yuri, nudging him closer. Yuri scooted over towards him, letting Bekah's arm rest behind his back. "Just pretend it's a program. What would the story look like on the ice?"

"Bekah, I'm not gonna like it no matter what you try to do." Yuri looked up at him, a tight frown knotted on his face. But he put his phone down, sliding it under his left leg to hide it from Katsuki and Viktor. The images flickered in the younger boys eyes, almost like a flame. Were his eyes always so blue? Otabek shook it off and returned his attention to the movie, which was nearing its conclusion. The woman stood out in the snow, crying. Her love interest chased after her, calling her name in what might have been the worst fake-distress performance ever to grace the screen. Yuri wasn't wrong to hate the movie. It was cheesy for sure, and there was far too much romantic drama to keep his interest. Otabek didn't hate it. He'd watched enough movies like it with his sisters and his mother over the years to predict exactly what would happen. So he went back to watching Yuri instead.

Without his phone to keep him busy, Yuri had a habit of fiddling with his hair or picking at his nails to occupy him. Currently he was holding a few strands of his hair and twirling them around his littlest finger. Otabek smiled, remembering how his youngest sister would do that very same thing when she was nervous about something. He wondered if it was the same for Yura, or if something else motivated it. Either way, he had the sneaking suspicion that something was bothering his friend, and made a mental note to ask him about it sometime soon.

But how to bring it up? Yuri didn't like talking about his feelings, and Otabek's only other experience was his sisters, who usually talked at him than talked to him about it. Maybe he could ask them for help? No, they were too dramatic and there was no way to hide that it was Yuri he would be asking about. Katsuki might be a better choice, he seemed in tune with what Yuri was going through most of the time. Viktor had known him the longest, but was too prone to teasing Yuri and making things worse. He couldn't count the number of calls he got at all hours because Viktor took a joke too far.

For now, he would have to wait for the young Russian to open up to him.

Well, it'll make for an interesting summer for sure.

Chapter Text

"I've seen this look before, but not from you. Who's the lucky feature in your daydream today, kid?" Mila's voice in his ear made Yuri startle, almost losing balance and sending them both crashing to the ice. She laughed at his stunned face, his behavior clearly confirming her theory.

"Mila, you stupid hag! I'm not dreaming about anyone." He yelled, just soft enough to avoid alerting Yakov. "Besides, even if I was, it's none of your business..." He trailed off, adjusting his hair to move some strays out of his face.

"So you were... Interesting... So? Who's the lucky girl?" Mila threw her arm around his shoulder, tugging him into a short lap to keep up the appearance that they were working on something. "Or is it a boy? Wouldn't that be exciting!" She giggled, and he shoved her arm off of him.

"I'm not telling you!" He screeched, perhaps a little too loudly. They both peered around, but luckily none of the coaches heard.

"Aww, c'mon. Is it that cute new girl they recruited for the next Olympics? Although she is three years younger than you, so that would be preeeeetty dicey, even in Russia." She teased, ruffling his hair. Yuri grunted and moved to readjust again. As they passed by the edge of the rink, Yuri caught sight of Katsuki and Otabek talking. They both raised a hand to wave, and that familiar burn crept across his cheeks. A panic set in as he realized that Mila was right beside him, and there was no way to hide it from her now. He made the split second decision to try and out pace her, blaming his cheeks on the sudden burst of action.

"Eww, no way. She's so weird anyway." He said, pushing of and leaning into his blades to gain more and more speed. Mila was on his tail though. She was tall and always was able to move pretty fast, a fact Yuri unfortunately had forgotten.

"So the blush you have on has nothing to do with Otabek?" She teased. Damn it. Once she figured it out, there was no way in hell she was going to let it go that easy. And Yuri was never a good liar. His silence spoke louder than any words could have and she shrieked in delight, doing a little victory dance once they'd both stopped. "So it is him! I had a sneaking feeling after the Grand Prix that something was going on... Tell me everything!" She was dedicated to learning all the gossip, and would follow it like a hound from hell once she caught hold of a rumour.

"No way, you'll just tell your stupid friends and they'll never leave me alone." He spat back at her, stopping at the spot he'd put his water and guards. "Besides, there's nothing to talk about. We're just friends."

"Uh huh. Like when I said I was 'just friends' with that guy on the national hockey team?" She had broken up with yet another hockey player this year, seemingly working her way through the lineup like some kind of dick-scout.

"You were only with him to show off to your ex or whatever. So no."

"Aww, c'mon Yuratchka." She pouted, baby talking to him like he was sime kind of kid. "You have a little crush? You want him to sweep you off your feet all romantic like? You guys could be the next Yuuri and Viktor if you play your cards right."

"Shut up you stupid bitch!" That was definitely way too loud, and even though Lilia was still in Moscow, he could hear her scolding reverberate in his ears.

"Yuri Plisetsky, watch your mouth!" Yakov belted from across the rink.

Yuri groaned and swiped his things from the boards, rushing off to the locker room before he had time to say something completely stupid. No one was bothered by his outburst, it wasn't uncommon for him to lose his temper and swear like that, especially if Mila or Viktor was involved. As he plunked himself down to untie his skates, Mila appeared in the doorway. Her expression wasn't the same smug, teasing smile she had been wearing before. It was something more sullen, and dare he say apologetic.

"Yuri, I'm sorry if I pushed it." She said plainly, clasping her hands behind her back. When he didn't answer, she continued. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine Mila, just keep your nose out of my life!" He didn't mean to yell, but the ball of emotions overflowed. His hands shook so badly he had trouble untying his skates.

"Yuri, I—" She stumbled to find words, eventually sitting on the bench next to him. "You do really like him though, don't you?" It was less of a question and more a statement of fact. Yuri took a breath and screwed his eyes shut, giving her an answer in his lack of one. Her voice carried her smile in it. "I won't say anything. I know how hard Viktor and the other Yuuri have it sometimes. And coach is already on your back about next season. But if you need to talk to anyone, or need any advice...." She trailed off for a moment. "I'm your friend."

Yuri ran a hand through his bangs, tucking them back behind his ears only for some to fall into their rightful place in front of his eyes. He was quiet for a few minutes, pulling the laces loose and tugging the boots off. He sat in silence, hands resting on his thighs. When he did speak, it was in a quiet voice he hadn't used in years.

"How do I show him?" The question was simple, but the deep canyon that fell between them spoke volumes.

"What do you mean?" She asked, tilting her head.

"How do I show him that I... Or know that...—" He groaned through his teeth in frustration. "I need to know if I like like him, okay!?"

She giggled and put a hand on his head, patting it like the older sister she sometimes felt like. "Well, you turned bright red when he waved at you earlier. So I think that's a good place to start. What else does he do that makes you feel like that?"

"Well, um... He doesn't make fun of me for being young or short or anything. And he let me wear his hoodie the other day when I showered at his place."

"Wait, you showered at his house? And he just offered you his sweatshirt?" She gasped, creeping back into gossip mode. He glared, and she straightened up in her seat, backtracking pretty quickly. "Did anything happen recently that made you feel really close to him?"

Yuri sighed. "We were at Viktor and my place, and we were all watching a movie. And Bekah sort of sat kinda funny, with his legs open and his arm out, like... uh how was it? Oh, like this." He sat on the end of the bench, mimicing Otabek's position on the couch. "And I wanted to just lean in. He looked so warm and soft...." He pressed his hands against his cheeks, hiding the spreading crimson he wore on his face. He quickly did a survey of the room, making sure no-one else was listening.

"So, let me count it off. You get all embarassed when he waves to you in public, you showered at his house and he offered a hoodie, you have a cute nickname for him which means he probably has one for you, da? And to top it off, you just admitted to wanting to cuddle him during a movie." She cackled, truly sounding like a wicked witch. "Hate to say it Yuratchka, you have it baaaaad!"

"If you tell a fucking soul Mila I swear I will rip off your legs!" He growled, leaning in really close with absolute fury burning inside his chest.

"Rawr, kitten has claws now! I won't say anything, don't worry. Your little secret is safe with me." She waved him off and stood up, stretching. "I've gotta get out there anyway. Yakov's probably furious right about now. See ya, kid!"

Yuri hung his face in his hands and mentally prepared himself for his life to fall apart when he heard foorsteps rounding the corner into the locker room.

"So who do you have it bad for?" Oh no, that's the last person that needed to know.

"Mind your own business Viktor." Well, that didn't go as planned.

Chapter Text

"Viktor, keep you stupid nose out of my life!" Yuri growled at him. He shoved his feet into his sneakers, tossing his bag over his shoulder.

"Yurio, who is it? I won't tell anyone, I promise, huh?" Viktor grinned, stepping in front of the door to prevent a quick escape.

"Yeah right. You might be the only loudmouth bigger than Mila." Yuri ducked under his arm, trying to ignore the rare moment of thanks that he hadn't grown much since last year.

"I can keep a secret! C'mon, trust me! Please?" Viktor wasn't much for begging. He must be desperate to know.

"No you can't old man!" Yuri quickened his pace down the hallway, Viktor hot on his heels. "Besides, I wouldn't tell you anyway. You'll just meddle."

Viktor extended his strides, catching up in just a few steps. He grabbed the younger skaters wrist. "Well I think I know! You were so excited when Otabek..." And then his cheek hurt and he was sitting on the floor. Yuri stood above him, white-knuckled and fuming. His cheeks were flush and his chest heaved in his burning rage.

"Shut up Viktor! Stop trying to put your nose where it doesn't belong! Is it really so hard to mind your own fucking business!?" He pivoted on his heel and sprinted out of the rink.

Viktor blinked, in a little shock after the outburst. His fiance and Otabek rushed down the hall. Yuuri called out to him, panic dominating his voice.

"Viktor! Oh my god, what happened? Are you okay?" He knelt down, brushing his fingers over Viktor's cheek where it had already started to swell.

"Oh you know, I just took a joke too far and he lost his temper a little! Don't worry about it!" He waved his worried fiance off and stood up, stretching his arms over his head.

"But he's never actually hit you before! What the hell did you say to him!?" Tears welled in Yuuri's eyes.

Viktor cupped his face with his hands, lacing his fingers into Yuuri's long black hair. It was damp with sweat, but it didn't matter. "Don't worry about me. Someone should probably go check on him. Yuuri, would you? I'll be fine here. We're all finished on the ice today, and I think I'm just going to go practice in the dance studio for a while." He pressed a long kiss into the Japanese skaters forehead, trying not to wince as his sore lip swelled with pain.

"Wouldn't Otabek be a better choice? I'm still not sure he likes me very much..." Yuuri was clearly holding back tears, though for which Russian skater he couldn't tell. Viktor shook his head and smiled.

"No. You always know what to say to him. He trusts you more than you realize." He pulled Yuuri into a gentle hug, resting his good cheek on the top of the shorter man's head. He whispered, so that the equally worried Otabek couldn't hear. "And I think this might be an occassion when Otabek might be more of a harm than a help." He pulled back with a classic Viktor grin and looked over to the Kazakh. "Besides, he's coming with me to the studio."

Otabek's jaw dropped a little and blinked aimlessly. "Wait I'm doing what? You know I don't dance..." Viktor waved off his protest and dragged him by the arm towards the studio.

---

Yuuri knocked on the door of Yurio's room, opening it slowly when he heard no response. As soon as he opened the door, he heard muffled sobs coming from the darkness of the room. "Yuri, I'm coming in now." He waited a moment before opening the door the rest of the way. The teenager's room was always messy, but this was something else. He'd clearly had a tantrum. If he was angry enough to punch Viktor, this wasn't unexpected.

Yurio was sitting in the floor, next to his bed, face buried in a pillow. Yuuri walked inside, leaving the lights off. He remembered feeling like this, just wanting to hide from the world, to not let them see your weakness. Maybe this is why Viktor sent him to talk to the kid. They were more alike than either of them were willing to admit.

"Go away Katsudon..." He probably meant to yell it, but only a whimper came out. It was telling of how upset he must be. Oh Vitya, what did you do?

"I remember feeling like the world was against you. And when I felt like that, I desperately wanted someone to tell me things would be alright." He plunked himself down beside his younger counterpart, wrapping his arms around his knees to mirror Yurio. "And that's what I think you need right now."

"Maybe that's the problem! Everyone thinks they know what's best for me and they don't even bother asking! Nobody ever asked me what I wanted. They just try to figure out what I should be doing as if I don't have a say!" His puffy eyes peeked out from behind his bangs. The whites of his eyes were red now, but it made his brilliant blues shine even brighter. His eyes always conveyed such focus and strength, even through his tears. Even now, overwhelmed by emotions, he didn't look pathetic or defeated. He never could.

"Is that what Viktor was doing when you punched him?"

"Well..." He groaned and shoved his face back into the pillow, muffling what was probably a string of names not suited for polite society.

Yuuri chuckled and leaned back against the edge of the mattress. "I don't blame you. He has done some pretty crazy things. If you're this upset, he probably deserved it." A pause, glancing at the young skater who was now trying to stifle a laugh. "Don't tell him I said that, and I won't tell him about your thing, deal?" He held out a hand.

Yurio peeked over and hesitated before taking the older man's hand. He took a deep breath. Yuuri could tell he was trying to find the words as the gears in his brain spun behind his eyes. Finally, he spoke.

"How did you know you were in love with Viktor?" He was quiet, like he was afraid someone else in the empty apartment was listening.

Yuuri blinked at him, taken aback that this was the question at the front of his mind. "Well, that's a tough one. I guess that's the second time today you didn't pull your punches, huh?" Another stifled laugh.

"So, how did you know? How did you feel?" He discarded the pillow, crossing his legs and turning towards Yuuri.

"The best way that I can describe it is like this. You know the feeling when you finish a really long run, and you're so tired and your legs hurt and it's so hard to breathe. And when I look at Viktor, all of it melts away. Your lungs don't feel like they're going to collapse anymore, and you just feel energetic and brand new. You could do the run again, as long as they're there waiting at the end of it." He looked down at the teenager, who was staring with eyes wide and mouth hanging open just a little. "That's how you feel about Bekah, isn't it?" It wasn't a question. Yurio's cheeks flushed and he averted his gaze, lips tightening into a familiar thin line. After a few moments, he let out an absolutely huge sigh and hung his head in his hands.

"I asked Mila for advice, and then Viktor found out and he's gonna ruin everything... He always tries to meddle in my life. And if they know then the whole skating world will know cause they can't keep their stupid mouths shut!" Yuuri could see the anger boil over as Yurio threw the pillow at the wall, knocking his stuffed tiger onto the floor. He picked it up, staring into its eyes as if it held the answer. "Otabek won't want to talk to me anymore, and I'll lose my best friend..." More tears welled up, sitting on his blond eyelashes and refusing to fall down his cheeks.

"Have you told Otabek that you like him?" A shake of his head. "What's stopping you?"

"I don't want him to freak out and stop being my friend. Especially since he just moved here and he doesn't really know anyone else, and then he would be all alone here and that would be so scary since he moved here to be closer to my cause I'm also his like only friend—" He was cut off by Yuuri's hand over his mouth.

"Slow down, how do you know he moved here for you?" The little Russian scrolled furiously, turned his phone around and handed it to Katsuki. A stack of boxes stood in front of a calendar with a date circled and some Russian letters spelled out the boy's name. "Woah... I guess he pulled a Viktor on you." Yurio stuttered , clearly flustered by the comparison. "Yuri, that's exactly what Viktor did for me. Except in my case I guess i drunkenly asked him to come be my coach while trying to dance with him at the banquet.... But other than that it's the same!"

"Woah slow down Katsudon! There's no way that Bekah likes me that way. We're friends, and how could he want to be anything else with me? I mean, look at me! I'm tiny and my hair is all weird, and I haven't grown at all in the last year and—" He was once again interrupted by a hand clamped over his mouth.

"Yuri, listen to me. Viktor, and Mila, and me, and Otabek, and everyone else who cares about you; we don't like you because of your hair, or how tall you are, or any of that stuff. We care because we've seen the real you. The happy, funny, sweet, determined you. The you that taught us all how to make pierozhki, and was so goddamn proud when I finally got it right. The you that stops and insists on feeding every stray cat, no matter how long it takes or how cold out it is. If you really think that there's no way Otabek could care about you that way, even though he clearly moved here to be closer to you, then you might be more delusional than I am."

The pair of Yuris were silent for a few moments before the older of the two burst into raucus laughter. The younger joined him, relieved that there may be a glimpse of hope for his little crush. When they had both calmed down, Yuuri snaked a hand around the kid's shoulder, tucking him under his chin. Yurio tensed at first, but relaxed into the embrace, allowing himself to be enveloped by the older skater. He knew that Yurio hated it, but he really did feel like a parent sometimes, since the teen didn't have any reliable parents of his own. It was something they never talked about, and Yuuri never felt the need to. Yuri Plisetsky was the best skater in the world, and he had done it without them. And Yuuri felt honoured to help him do it.

Makkachin's barking indicated that Viktor was home. Yuuri stood up, offering his younger counterpart a hand. They shared a warm hug, and it was possible that a 'thank you' was mumbled against Katsuki's shirt before they left the dark cave to face Viktor.

Chapter Text

His headphones muffled the raised voices echoing from the kitchen, but Yuri could still hear The Idiots arguing about Viktor's invasion of Yurio's personal life. Apparently he had let slip to Christophe that Yurio had feelings for Otabek and the two of them had made several plans on how to get them together. As much as Katsudon was annoying sometimes, he was usually Yuri's biggest supporter and protector. Currently, Viktor was getting scolded for even letting the secret out, considering it wasn't his secret to know or to share.

"Viktor, you can't go messing around in people's lives like that. Especially not Yuri's. He trusts us, and it's our job to protect him." Katsudon always dropped the stupid nicknames when he got serious.

"Yuu-kun, we aren't his parents. And I'm not actually going to do anything! Chris isn't even here, how could he possibly meddle from France anyway." Viktor was non-chalant as usual.

"Don't Yuu-kun me right now, it's not going to help you. You shouldn't have even known about this in the first place. You already upset him to the point of violence once this week, and I really don't think gossiping with Chris will make anything better."

A ding from his phone distracted him from the bickering. Yuri pulled his phone out of his sweatshirt pocket, revealing a text from Bekah.

Bekah: Are they still at it? - 7:52 PM

Yuri: yep. they haven't even taken a break - 7:52 PM
Yuri: if i have to take much more of this, im gonna lose my shit - 7:52 PM

Bekah: Sorry to say, I don't think you have any more shit to lose. - 7:54 PM

Yuri: asshole. - 7:54 PM

Bekah: Haven't gotten rid of me yet. :P - 7:55 PM
Bekah: If you need a break, you can come over here. - 7:57 PM

That was all the invitation he needed. He swiped his keys from the kitchen counter, prompting stares from both of his roommates (thinking of them that way was weird, but not as weird as admitting they might be acting like his self-appointed dads). He shot up two middle-fingers at them and walked swiftly out the door. It slammed behind him, and even with the solid wood between them, The Idiots apparently had no volume control.

Yuri marched across the street and up the stairs to Otabek's apartment. His best friend was already there waiting for him, holding open the door with his foot so his arms were available to hug Yuri tight against his chest. He had clearly just showered, and he could smell Bekah's sharp aftershave.

They closed the door and sat on the couch. The coffee table was littered with books in various languages; some were in Kazakh, English, French, and even one in Russian. Neither boy said anything while Otabek resumed the TV program he was watching. Yuri couldn't follow the odd plot, but Bekah was watching it in Russian with subtitles in English. His heart swelled with the knowledge that his friend was trying very hard to learn his language, even though he knew it was, in part, because he did live in Russia, and the two natives had to do a lot of translating for him. They sat in silence for a while, just existing in each others presence. Yuri took some time to appreciate the lack of trilingual yelling. It was hard enough when they switched between the two languages he knew, but when you added Japanese to the mix, it made his head spin. He'd picked up a little in the time he was in Hasetsu over a year ago, but it mostly entailed ordering food.

"They've never argued like this before, have they?" Otabek's question pulled Yuri back to reality. He stared, his brain lagging as he processed the question being asked of him. After a few moments, he swallowed.

"No. Little fights, but nothing like this." He wrapped his arms around his knees, knowing it made him look small. But he didn't care. He wanted to disappear.

"You're worried." Yuri just nodded. Bekah always knew how he was feeling. He never had to ask. It's among what Yuri appreciated about him. Otabek kept mostly to himself, and Yuri's presence was enough for him. Neither one of them had to act like something else or try to force conversation. They were content to just exist. Most of the time, Yuri would drone on about some cool new band he liked or complain about something his coaches said. And Bekah would just listen, interjecting occasionally to ask a question or recommend something.

Otabek put his hand on Yuri's back. It was comforting, and the tension in his shoulders started to fade at the heavy touch. "No matter what happens, we will figure out a way." Bekah never needed complicated words to comfort him. His support was so simple and clear, and for just a few moments, Yuri wasn't plagued by anxiety about the uncertain future.

"They're fighting about me." Yuri said plainly, tucking his head into his arms. He ran his fingers through his long, tangled strands, getting frustrated and tuggling at the knots. His scalp pinched with every tug, but he didn't stop. Maybe he deserved to feel pain, because maybe this was his fault. His thoughts were stopped in their tracks when Otabek stood, jogged down the hallway for a moment, and jogged back, hair brush in hand.

"On the floor." An order, not a request. Yuri was too busy wallowing in 'what ifs' to argue. Otabek positioned himself behind Yuri and began brushing the ends, gently working out the knots. "It's not your fault. Whatever happened the other day at the rink, that's clearly not what they're mad about."

"How do you know?" Yuri asked, turning his head to look at his friend. From this angle, he was so big compared to how small and helpless Yuri felt. Like he was watching over him. Protecting him even. It felt.... good.

Bekah turned Yuri's head back to face the TV. "Because if they were mad that you punched Viktor, Katsuki would be yelling at you, not at him." The Kazakh made a good point. He had never thought about it that way before. But a twinge of guilt still tugged at his heart.

"That's true. But they're still fighting about me. About how Viktor treated me at the rink, and then he told Chris and it was supposed to be a secret. And Mila knows too, so pretty soon everyone's going to know and my life will be over." The hairbrush made a soft thunk on the coffee table and Yuri couls feel Bekah scooching down beside him. A warm hand made slow, deliberate circles on his back, which helped with the rising panic threatening to take over.

"Yura, listen to me." He waited until Yuri was looking at him before continuing. "Whatever Viktor did, and whatever Mila says, it doesn't change anything. You are the fearless Ice Tiger of Russia. You won the Grand Prix Final and the World Championships. You make the best pierozhki, and the best katsudon, in all of Russia." He was smiling, the corners of his lips curled upwards as far as Yuri had ever seen from him before. How could it be that he was on the verge of a full blown panic attack and this boy had the nerve to smile at him like that? Who knew that falling head over heels for someone could be this infuriating?

After a few sniffles and rubbing furiously at his definitely-not-teary eyes, they settled back on the couch and argued about what to watch. Ultimately they chose to just put on some music instead. Yuri was curled up against Otabek's side while Bekah had one arm around him and another holding open a book. The younger Russian boy tried to figure out what he was reading, but it was in Kazakh so he gave up snooping. He was about to ask when the answer was already being provided for him.

"It's called Caged Birds. It's about two people who are in prison on death row, and they pass their time talking through a vent in the wall. They end up falling in love, but in the end, they both still have to die." He flipped the page and set the book down to hold his place on his thigh.

"That's so fucking sad. What's the point if they both die in the end?" Yuri asked, scrunching his nose.

"They are both slated for execution anyway, so they spend the little time they have left talking to one another. It fills them with joy and comfort to share their fears with another person, and they can both die happy, knowing that at least one person in the world loved them." Bekah moved the book to lie open on the table, clearly finished with it for now.

"Sounds sappy and gross. Bleh." He could feel his friend laugh, his ear bouncing against the broad chest beneath him.

"I think you'd like it actually. It's not as cheesy and romantic as it sounds."

"Yeah, right..." Yuri rolled his eyes and felt another laugh rock against his cheek. He wasn't sure how long they'd been here. He left right after dinner, so Katsuki and Viktor would be expencting him home soon. He groaned at the thought of returning to whatever hell they had created in that apartment. Maybe if he waited a little longer, they'd be asleep when he got home and he wouldn't have to deal with them.

Yuri was fairly sure his friend was a mind-reader when he chimed into his internal conversation. "Should I let them know you're staying here?" The question was something between an invitation and acknowledgement of Yuri's dread.

"I don't know. I'll have to deal with them in the morning regardless. Might as well go home and get it over with." But his body didn't move. Otabek smiled for the second time that day and picked up his phone. He scrolled through his contacts until he found Katsuki's phone number and hit the call button. It rang twice before Katsuki picked up. Yuri heard a panicked series of apologies from the other line. Bekah stood and walked into the kitchen, leaning back against the counter in a way that sent sparks through Yuri's body.

"He's fine, just still a little upset. ... He told me what you were fighting about. ... No, no details. Just the basics. ... I agree. Can you grab some spare clothes for him, and that tiger I got him at the Worlds. ... Yeah that's the one. ... And a spare phone charger? ... Thanks. ... Okay. See you in a minute." He hung up the phone and sat back down, sliding his phone onto the table. He didn't say anything, simply offered Yuri his spot back. He jumped at the chance, curling back up into his cozy little corner of Otabek's chest as the older skater browsed a list of movies. A few minutes passed before there was a knock at the door. Yuri was once again removed from his spot, frowning as Otabek got up to answer the door. He laid down on the couch, unsure if he was hiding from Katsudon or just giving in to his body's insistance on taking up as much space as possible. He snuggled into the warmth of where Bekah had been moments before.

"Hi Yuuri." That was Bekah's voice.

"Hey Otabek. I'm sorry again. Viktor can be a handful. Is Yuri okay?" Katsuki sounded tired. Really tired.

"He's fine. I don't think he wants to be around Viktor right now."

"Yeah. Viktor is not handling it very well either. Thanks for letting him crash here tonight. Oh, and let him know that Potya got brushed today, so he doesn't have to worry about it when he gets home tomorrow." Fuck you Katsu-dork. I'm handling this just fine.

"I will. I'll call if anything comes up."

There was a shuffle of a bag and a quick goodbye before he heard the door close and the lock click. Otabek shuffled into the kitchen and put down the bag before returning to the couch. He frowned jokingly and lifted Yuri's head, sliding underneath and placing it back down on his lap. He placed the stuffed tiger on top of Yuri's ear, carefully balancing it before moving his hand away, looking proud. Yuri snatched her, clutching it to his chest and pouting. Another chuckle from Otabek as he selected a movie and they settled together. It was another strange American sort-of-horror movie. Yuri didn't complain, he was starting to like them. There were less jump-scares in this one, but somehow it was much creepier than the previous few they had seen.

When he got especially freaked out, Otabek's hand gently stroked his hair. During one particularly tense scene, Yuri let out what might be described as a moan as Bekah's fingers brushed against the back of his neck. He immediately tensed, but his friend's hands never stopped. He prayed to any god out there that Bekah hadn't heard him, but he didn't dare lean his head up to check.

---

At the end of the film, Yuri could barely keep his eyes open. He snuggled the tiger more firmly againt his chest, tucking his nose into the top of her head. Otabek grabbed the bag of Yuri's things from the kitchen and sat back down on the edge of the couch. "Come on. Up. I'll carry you."

"Carry me where?" Yuri said, groggy and rubbing his eyes.

"Bed. I'm taking the couch. Don't argue with me." Yuri mumbled something and climbed up onto his back, wrapping his legs around his waist to keep from falling down. Bekah stood and shuffled him into the bedroom, depositing an exhausted kitten on the mattress. He stood up to walk back to the living room, but Yuri tugged on the hem of his shirt.

"No. Stay."

"Yura. Are you sure?" He was a little surprised at the request. It wasn't like Yuri to be... dare he say needy, but clearly he was going through something, and he was nothing if not supportive. Yuri nodded slugglishly. "Okay. I'm just going to brush my teeth and I'll be right back." He walked into the bathroom, doing his nighly routine with a bit more urgency than normal. After he'd finished, he leaned on the counter and stared at his shirtless figure ni the mirror. His eyebrows were stitched together, and his expression conveyed mostly anxiety. He took a breath and walked back out to the bed, where Yuri had already shed his sweatpants and was tucked under the covers. He wasn't quite asleep as far as Otabek could tell, since his eyes fluttered gently.

He tucked himself in next to Yuri, wearing his sweatpants but no shirt. Yuri immediately snuggled up to his side, resting his cheek on Otabek's bare chest. The little Russian kitten sighed pleasantly and nuzzled into the gap between his shoulder and neck. Yuri's skin was soft, and the Kazakh ran his fingers over the delicate skin of his other cheek. He managed to suppress a shiver of delight, not wanting to disturb the clearly exhausted boy lying next to him.

"Good night Bekah. Love you." Yuri mumbled. Otabek felt his cheeks flush for a moment, looking down on this truly peaceful boy. He smiled and leaned over ever so slightly to kiss the top of his head, barely pressing his lips into Yuri's scalp.

"Men seni jaqsı köremin."

I love you too.

Chapter Text

In the final month before competitions started, Katsuki had done a masterful job of getting everyone's mind off of the Yuri's-love-life situation and focused on skating. The Grand Prix assignments were posted in August, and there were the usual mixed reactions.

The first event was Skate America. Otabek would be left behind for that one, since both Yuris got placed there and Viktor being Katsuki's coach would be attending as well. Viktor gave very specific instructions for Makkachin's care while they were in Seattle, and Yuri simply requested that Potya still be alive when they returned. Christophe would also be attending the first event, which excited The Idiots more than it should have.

Viktor and Otabek's first competition would be at Skate Canada. They'd have to fend off JJ for that one. JJ and Viktor would meet again at the Trophie de France, with Chris and Georgi in tow.

All four of them would be going to Japan for the NHK Trophy, which gave Yuuri an opportunity to drag his new family to visit his old family in Hasetsu. Phichit would also be there, which was exciting for Yuuri since his mom had been dying to meet Yuuri's rinkmate from Detroit since they met almost four years ago.

Yuri was the most diappointed. Though he wouldn't have to deal with JJ this year until the Final, he and Otabek would be on opposite travel schedules until November when they all travelled to Japan together. Not to mention he'd have to deal with Chris, who was down-right creepy, especially where Viktor was concerned.

Everyone's programs were shaping up well. Lilia had spent three weeks in Moscow. Apparently someone in her family had died, though Yuri couldn't comprehend how the worlds oldest witch had family, let alone any she hadn't cursed to a horrible death at this point. He mostly left it alone, and got his expected verbal lashing when she got back about how his dance and step sequences were 'unacceptable' and 'unsuited to a fairy such as himself'. He didn't really care much. Viktor had coached him through the short program choreography, perfecting it. Katsuki had also offered some insight into how to make the program flow better, and was helpful in figuring out his free skate as well. Despite being his fellow competitors, they were supportive of his goals. In the end, they all made art on the ice, and they would always help each other achieve that.

They all sat for the final movie night of the off-season, and it was finally Yuri's turn to choose. He picked an American superhero movie, and they all settled down as the opening credits started rolling. The movie was pretty funny, but Viktor had to keep asking Katsuki what some of the jokes were, and his delayed laughter only made the entire situation more hilarious.

Yakov had been pushing the Russians extra hard in the last few weeks of the summer. Even on their 'rest days', he had them at the very least doing some light ballet or drilling their press conference talking points. Viktor was used to it, having been Yakov's disciple for over a decade. But Yuri was being run ragged by the preparation. Last season had been hard, but now that Viktor was back in the Grand Prix Series, things would get very interesting. Headlines had already come out pitting Viktor and Yuri against each other. 'The Battle for Russia - Old vs New', 'Face-Off: Nikiforov Returns to Reclaim His Titles from Upstart Plisetsky', 'Student vs Teacher: Will Russian Star Make a Comeback and Reclaim Grand Prix Gold?'. Between the two of them, they had to coordinate a media strategy to show the unity of Team Russia, while also asserting themselves as worthy competitors.

"You still awake?" Someone was shaking his shoulder. Yuri snapped back into the real world to see Katsuki standing over him.

"Are you and Viktor still gross?"

"I'll take that as a yes then. Movie ended a half hour ago. You fell asleep in the middle." Katsuki sat down beside him on the couch. Viktor and Otabek were nowhere to be seen.

"Oh shit...." He rubbed his eyes with the sleeve of his oversized sweater. "Did Bekah go home?"

"No, he and Vitya are out with Makka. They should be home in a few minutes." Yuri stifled a yawn and stretched. After a few moments of silence, Katsuki spoke up.

"Yuri, have you talked to him about it yet?" He just blinked back at the older skater. "About your feelings?" Heat soared through his cheeks. They hadn't talked about the night Yuri spent in Otabek's bed. He didn't have the heart to bring it up, and with his training intensifying before the competitive season started, he had quite honestly been too tired to think about what to say.

He shook his head, lips pressed together in embarassment and shame. Katsuki chuckled, and Yuri snipped at him. "Hey, why are you laughing at me, asshole?"

"You remind me of me. You get flustered and embarrassed as soon as feelings get involved." He replied, flashing a kind smile at the little Russian boy.

"Whatever, Katsu-dork..." He crossed his arms, leaning back into the couch and pouting. "I don't wanna make things awkward before the season starts..."

"I think by waiting, you're only going to make it more awkward." Katsuki nudged his glasses up his nose and stared longingly at the pictures of all three of them during last years World Championship. "How about this. The first competition is just you, Viktor, and me. If you haven't talked to him by then, we can figure out what you want to say when we're there. Or at the least when we're flying back. Seattle is a long way to fly. We'll have some time."

Yuri shifted in his seat. "Fine. But only if Viktor isn't in on it. Or Chris. They're so creepy." He paused to shiver. "And old."

The pair burst out laughing, and shook on their deal just as the other two wandered in the door, a very damp Makkachin in tow. He hurtled off the leash before leaping onto the couch. A chorous of shouts surrounded the dog and Katsuki ran for a towel as Viktor just laughed, Yuri swore in pretty much every language he knew how, and Otabek just stood there, stoic as ever with his hands on his hips and the faintest of smiles gracing his lips.

"I forgot to check the weather before we left and it started raining on our way back." Viktor slicked his wet hair back with his fingers, shaking the rest of the water off his hands and onto the floor. He shed his shirt in the middle of the living room and walked over to greet Katsuki with a hug, prompting his fiance to shove a second towel in his face.

"It wasn't supposed to rain today, but somehow it ended up pouring half way through Makka's walk." Otabek said plainly. His white tshirt clung to his muscled abdomen so tightly it almost looked painted on. His normally slicked back hair hung limp, framing his face and tickling the top of his ears. Yuri's heart skipped a beat at the sight of it. He shed his boots and pulled off his socks, hanging them over the shoe rack to try out. Katsuki had gotten control of the dog (with no help from Viktor, who just stood taking pictures), and Otabek padded over to the couch, leaning on the back with his hands. He was careful not to let his pants touch the soft fabric, else it get wet. "But I have to admit it was refreshing. Sometimes when it rains like that in Almaty, people just walk out into the street and stand in it."

Katsuki grinned. "It rains like that in Japan. Especially in the summer. Usually there's thunderstorms too. Mari and I used to sit and listen to them all the time." He finished toweling off Makka and stood, hands on his hips, admiring his handiwork. "I miss it sometimes. And my dog loved the rain almost as much as Makka does."

"You had a dog?" Yuri grunted. He probably had been told this information before, but it had been over a year since he's been to Japan.

"Yep. He looked just like Makkachin. And his name was Viktor." Katsuki smiled and closed his eyes for a moment. It almost looked like he was praying.

"Yuuri!" Viktor exclaimed, drawing out the first part of his fiance's name the way he usually did when he got excited. "You named your dog after me!? That's the sweetest thing I've ever heard!" He tried to embrace Katsuki again, but got a hand pressed into his chest as his arms swiped fruitlessly.

"Viktor, don't you dare get me all wet!" Katsuki's voice was firm, but not harsh. They all laughed as Viktor was ordered off towards the washroom, presumably to towel himself dry the rest of the way. His attentoined turned from his unruly coach to the other two. "Otabek, it's still pouring, as far as I can hear. Why don't you stay the night? We can dry your clothes and I think I have some sweatpants and a shirt that would fit you."

Otabek laughed and waved a hand. "No, I coulnd't. Besides, I live across the street. It's really not that far." Katsuki frowned at this refusal.

"Your clothes are soaked, and so are your socks and shoes. It's not going to be comfortable to walk home in that." Another refusal got the Japanese man riled up. Yuri couldn't tell why, but he was pretty sure it had something to do with their conversation earlier, although it was possible running a hot spring inn his whole life meant he had some strange sense of duty to be the most hospitable host.

"Otabek Altin, you are staying here. Understand?" Both Yuri and Bekah nodded in agreement and Katsuki left to fetch clothes and another towel.

"Bekah, he can't make you stay. You can just leave you know." Yuri grumbled, a little pissed at Katsuki's meddling.

"It's okay Yura. It's not a big deal. It sounds like he wants me to stay." Bekah's face sported his one-sided grin that always made Yuri struggle for oxygen. "I can take the couch if you want." His entire face burned and his chest tightened. Was that what he wanted? Did he have enough self control to have this man just sleep next to him and not make things weird?

"You can do whatever you want." Yuri said quietly and shrugged. Feeling the electricity crackle through his nerves, he looked away, returnng to his curled up position.

Otabek was clearly not happy with this answer. He circled around the couch and knelt in front of Yuri, one forearm resting on his raised knee. "I asked what you wanted." The declaration was plain. Yuri felt a stinging in his eyes and blinked a few times behind the curtain of his bangs to keep the tears at bay. He was so frustrated trying to figure out what he wanted. The pressure was building inside him, and he knew that he needed an answer before it blew up and destroyed the life he'd built. A few long moments went by before he responded.

"Can you sleep with me tonight?" It was mumbled and low. He still couldn't look his friend in the eyes, so he kept himself hidden. Yuri couldn't see the response, but the pressure lifted a little as he heard a contented huff and receeding footsteps. He took this opportunity to walk into his room, slamming the door a little harder than he meant to. He leaned his head back against the door, breathing hard and desperately trying to calm his heart in his chest.

What the hell is happening? This was not how tonight was supposed to go. This was not how his life was supposed to go. Win everything. That was supposed to be his only goal right now. He could have time for this shit later, after he won all the medals. He wasn't supposed to be getting his ass handed to him by his own little crush on his best friend. He wasn't supposed to be using his nights off to watch stupid movies with Viktor and his stupid Japanese boyfriend. And he certainly wasn't supposed to be thinking about Otabek in that drenched white shirt...

But wasn't he? He was, after all, 16. Isn't this what teenagers did? Well, teenagers that weren't skating prodigies. They were supposed to be hormonal and getting worked up over stupid crushes and having dreams about their best friend kissing them, taking off their shirt, running their hands through his hair...

A knock on the door startled him out of whatever daydream he had fallen into. He yelped, jumping onto the bed and pulling out his phone to pretend he wasn't on the verge of a panic attack. He harped an answer and the door opened. Otabek slid into the room and closed the door behind him. His hair was damp and slicked back as best he could manage, but a few strays fell in front of his eyes. He had shed his wet clothes, and wore a pair of black sweatpants and and one of Katsuki's old tshirts.

"Katsuki is gonna dry my clothes so they should be clean in the morning." He walked over to the edge of the bed and stood with his hands in his pockets. "Can I sit?"

"Yeah sure. Can you turn off the light while you're up? I don't wanna stand." Yuri replied, flicking on the lamp beside his bed. Otabek flicked the light switch and the room was dim with an orange glow. He walked back and sat on the edge of the bed slowly, as if he was afraid of breaking it. There was silence as Yuri put down his phone and stared up at the ceiling. The mattress creaked as both boys shifted on it, trying to find a comfortable position in the uncomfortable space between them.

Yuri opened and closed his mouth, trying to make any sound come out. He didn't even know what he was thinking, his brain was moving too quickly. His breathing hastened in frustration, huffing air out of his nostrils. He could feel a pang of something in his chest, and it hurt. It really fucking hurt. He grabbed the front of his shirt, balling it in his fist as he sat up and wrenched his eyes shut.

"Yura. What's wrong?" There was a hint of worry in Bekah's voice. Yuri continued clawing at his chest, gritting his teeth.

"My chest hurts. Can't breathe, can't think." He groaned softly and brought his other hand to his temple. "It's too much. Make it stop. Make it stop. How... How do I make it stop?"

"Breathe Yura. Breathe." Bekah shifted his legs up onto the bed, sitting in front of Yuri. He reached up and tenderly brushed his fingers over Yuri's hand, urging it away from his chest. It gripped Otabek's hand instead, and he squeezed back, reassuring the boy that he was there, even if his voice couldn't reach him right now. Raspy, uneven gasps filled the room as they tried to synchronize their breathing. No matter how hard Yuri squeezed his hand, Otabek always returned the gesture, reminding him that he was still there. Slowly but surely, they began to lengthen, a pause between inhale and exhale grew until the young Russian's muscles started to let go of the tension his body had been holding in. Eventually, Yuri lifted his head and looked at the space around the other boy's face, not capable of exposing himself to the piercing eyes of his only friend.

"Yura. You're okay. You were just having a panic attack. You're alright." His voice was calm and warm, Yuri just wanted to wrap himself in that sound. "You don't have to tell me what it was about. Or if it was even about anything." Otabek's continued insistance that he didn't have to talk made him want to explain. He wanted to show him the soft, protected parts of himself.

"Bekah, I—" A shaky breath passed through his lungs. "I want to tell you but..." He trailed off and bit the inside of his cheek. "I don't want you to think that... I don't want to ruin this... I—" The panic threatened to overwhelm him again and he squeezed his friend's hand, which was still gripping his.

"Yuri." He didn't use his actual name unless things were about to get serious. "It doesn't matter what you tell me. I'm not going to think less of you, or stop being your friend." His tone was firm and assertive, but Yuri didn't feel threatened like he normally would.

"You will after I tell you that I... I..." A frustrated growl ripped through his throat. Why was this so damn hard? They're just words. They're not supposed to mean anything. And he said nothing would change, no matter what he told him. So why didn't he believe that?

"You don't have to tell me anything. Not if you're not ready." Not ready? The phrasing didn't sound right. Normally he would chock it up to English being their second languages, but they both knew it too well to make those mistakes anymore.

"I'm ready!" Oops, that came out angry. No that wasn't right. What am I trying to say?

"Bekah... I-I... Fuck. Why are words so damn hard!?" Still angry. Still not right.

"If you can't find words, we can find some other way for you to tell me. To show me whatever it is you need to let out right now." The concern in his voice had gotten to critical levels. He'd never experienced Otabek this upset before. But it wasn't at him. So what was it?

"How am I supposed to show you?" Dammit. Still too angry. C'mon Plisetsky, you can control it.

"You can draw it, or write it on paper, or something. What do you need to do right now?" What did he need to do right now? He finally had the courage to look up at his friend. He expected to find anger, contempt, maybe even a smug expression of how pathetic Otabek thought he was. All he found was fear in his grey-brown eyes. Not fear of him. Fear for him. His palms began to sweat, and he became very aware of how warm Bekah's skin was. He may have been wearing Katsuki's clothes, but underneath the clean smell of the dryer sheets, he still smelled like flowers and sandalwood. Yuri licked his lips, desperately trying to moisten his dry mouth.

"Yuri, I'm here for whatever you need. Anything." Anything. His eyes flicked down to Otabek's mouth. it stayed closed in a thin line, his normally full lips pressed together in some combination of emotions he couldn't identify.

"Bekah... Can you... Can you close your eyes?"

"Of course." He did, his muscles relaxing under Yuri's palm. He ran a hand up Otabek's firm arms, tracing every band of muscle peaking out from the sleeve of the tshirt. "Yura, what are you—" Yuri quieted him. He just needed to do this without interruption. He scanned the rest of Bekah with his eyes. His other hand rested on his knee. His hair had dried the rest of the way, flopping into his face more than it had a few minutes ago. Yuri had the unavoidable urge to brush it behind his ear, and as he did, his fingertips brushed Bekah's forehead. The Kazakh shuddered, sucking in a short, but shaky breath. Yuri reeled from the contact, but the other boy didn't move. Emboldened, he let go of Bekah's hand and ran his hands through his hair. The noise resounding from the older boy's throat was nothing short of surprise, but not in a bad way. That was all the encouragement he needed. Lacing his fingers behind Bekah's neck, he climbed into his lap, hovering his face just an inch above.

And then Bekah opened his eyes. He stared up into Yuri's aqua blues with the same fascination that Yuri gave back. Neither of them spoke a word, just basking in each other's presence, at their closeness. They stayed there for what felt like hours, studying each others faces. What was he doing? This is exactly what he had been afraid of. He was getting too close, letting his emotions rule him. He was losing control and it sent an unbearable flash of panic through his body. Yuri pulled away, flush with embarrassment and shame, only to be stopped by Otabek's sturdy hands brushing the small of his back.

"Bekah I-" The hands pressed more firmly now, holding him in place. Are his hands trembling, or am I? "If you don't want to stay tonight, you don't have to. I didn't mean to pressure you." The words were staccato, spaced awkwardly as Yuri tried to string his thoughts into coherent sentences.

"Do you want me to stay?" A few moments of shuddering breaths, and Otabek repeated the question. The blond couldn't meet his eyes, and tucked away reflexively. Rough fingers brushed his chin, urging it up to face the older skater. He made the slightest of nods. Some of the tension in the older man's shoulders melted away.

"What else do you want?" The question blindsided Yuri, and he flinched. His hands acted on instinct, gripping the muscular shoulders in front of him for support as the hand on his back pressed him closer. They were chest to chest now, so close their noses were almost touching. Yuri's eyes were wide with shock and panic and perhaps a little excitement, but Otabek's were a sea of calm. They analyzed the Russian kitten's face, studying his reactions. He's not freaking out. Why isn't he trying to leave?

A series of stutters and mumbles got them no closer to a resolution. His thoughts were racing, and he couldn't pin one down no matter how hard he tried. He cycled through so many emotions so quickly it made him dizzy. He could feel himself being pulled down another well of overwhelming fear, clawing desperately at anything to anchor himself.

"Yura, it's alright. You're safe here. Nothing is going to hurt you." The hand on his back moved in slow, deliberate circles. The other hand was no longer grazing his chin, but holding his fingers, working them into a closed fist. Yuri could feel his nails digging into something soft, and he yelped when he realized they were under the neck of Bekah's shirt, scraping against the soft skin of his back.

"Oh my god, Bekah I'm so sorry!" He repeated, switching between Russian and English rapidly. He pulled his hand back, covering his mouth as his eyes widened in horror at what he had done. Tears welled at the corners of his eyes, but still refused to fall.

"It's alright Yura, really. You're safe. I'm not angry with you." As Yuri's other hand fell into his lap, Bekah reached up and cupped his cheek. His fingers were rough, but soft at the same time. "I can't be angry with you. You didn't realize. It's okay." He repeated those reassurances as Yuri calmed a little. Otabek pressed his forehead against his, and a warm, soothing energy radiated from him. When Yuri had settled back into a normal cycle of breathing, the Kazakh man spoke again.

"It's okay if you don't know what you want. We can start with what I want, if that's easier." Yuri nodded, his blond hair bouncing slightly as it fell out of the half-bun he'd forced it back into earlier that day. Otabek nuged his nose, urging him to open his eyes and look. He complied, allowing himself to let go of a little tension with each passing minute.

"I want you to do all of this." Blue-green eyes flicked toward Bekah's shoulder and the damage that lay underneath. The taller boy moved his head, obstructing Yuri's view and forcing his gaze back on him. "It's alright. I want you to trust me. Letting yourself feel when you're this close to someone is hard. It takes trust. I don't care if you scratch or kick or bite or scream, because it means you're letting yourself be honest with me." He brushed a calloused thumb over the smoothness of the blond's cheek. "And I want to be able to take care of you. To care for you." A pause. "I do care for you. So very much."

"But I thought... I thought we were friends and you'd never want to talk to me again. And I hurt you. I fucking hurt you Bekah! How can you care about me when all I do is hurt people!?" There was more to say, but he couldn't say it. Soft, full lips crashed into his dry cracked ones.