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But Sometimes Family Picks You (goodbyes)

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He hadn't been stupid. He'd known that his grandfather was getting old and worked too much for his age. He just hadn't been ready to say goodbye. It had been a good death though. He had gone to bed one night and been gone before the morning. Easy, Yuri had been reassured by some official.

The days leading up to the service had been a haze of things to do and decisions to make. Yuri had tried but it was too much. During the second day after Yakov pulled him off the ice, suddenly the questions had stopped coming to him and Victor was there answering them. The other Yuuri was beside him shortly after Victor took over answering, redirecting anyone away from the grieving boy.

By the time they made the trek to the cemetery, Yuri was as silent on the inside as he remained on the outside. A handful of dirt and a few coins were all he could offer his grandfather before Yuuri and Victor were leading him away. He didn't stop by his parents graves, both more than a decade old. As they took him down a different road than they had traveled to the cemetery, Yuri vaguely recognized the ones around them as fellow skaters, some from further away than his own practice rink.

He didn't say anything as he was taken back to the city, but not to his own apartment. Instead he was put in Victor and Yuuri's spareroom. The young man had known he needed to say something but the grief had taken his voice and put a haze over the words people spoke around him. Instead he kept Potya on his lap and snuggled into Makkachin, thankful the two animals had a pact of non- aggression that seemed to be holding.

It wasn't until they were going from Russia to Japan that Yuri thought to question anything.

"Why am I with you?" He demanded as he looked at Potya's cat carrier being unloaded from the taxi they'd taken from the station to Yutopia. It took him a long moment to realize that it had to be at least a week from the funeral and he couldn't remember if he'd made the proper commemorative motions for the third or ninth days.

Yuuri looked at Victor who had a sad expression. Taking a breath, Yuuri put on a sad smile. "It was decided that we would be your guardians until you are ready to take care of yourself."

"What about Yakov?" Yuri asked in a half whisper.

"We fought him for you." Victor said simply before giving him a gentle shove towards the doors to the hot spring. "Take Potya inside so he can get out and stretch."

Inside the front entrance of the onsen, Yuri was met by Mari who gave him a nod. "Welcome back." He could tell she wanted to say more but held back out of respect or something.

A sudden shuffle and then he was being in folded into a set of plump arms. The scent of warm kitchen and herbs wrapped around him and he set his face into her shoulder. "Hiroko-san." He snuffled into her shoulder.

Katsuki Hiroko held him close but gently, murmuring soothing things into his hair. When he was able to pull back she smiled at him and wiped his tears away with a deft hand. "You need to rest... and eat. Grief steals your appetite but I promised your grandfather's spirit that I would make sure you were looked after. So, you go, take a nap and a bath. Then you will come and eat a good meal Mari and I make." She looked over his shoulder and nodded to where Yuuri and Victor came in with Makkachin beside them. "Yuu-chan put him in your old room. I've cleaned it out and settled your things in with Victor's."

Yuri shifted uncomfortably. "I can just stay in the room I used before."

Hiroko shushed him. "You're family."

Her simple statement made Yuri's eyes well and he nodded sharply.

Their days at Yutopia were quiet and everyday Yuri went to the rink and skated. He put out every program he'd ever done and he practiced mindlessly.

Victor tried to encourage him to take some time off for mourning but Yuuri would quiet the suggestions and nod Yuri back out onto the ice with softly worded suggestions about his form.

"I have to get ready for the season. I will go back after the 40th day." Yuri responds to any suggestion that he slow down his rigorous training schedule. Yuri wasn't sure how Yuuri had gotten the schedule from Yakov but the elder kept him on track for competition. Even if his mental strength was questionable, his body would be ready for when he could come back.

The first competition would be fifty-six days after the funeral and Yuri would make sure that it would be something his grandfather would have been proud to watch.

The evening of the 39th day, after an almost twelve hour practice, Yuuri and Victor took Yuri into the small private room that held the Katsuki family prayer shelf. Inside the simple yet beautiful memorial was a picture of Yuri's grandfather.

"Tomorrow, we will not practice. We will eat and drink and then we will all say goodbye." Victor said in a soft voice as he gently pushed Yuri into kneeling in front of the memorial.

Yuuri knelt just behind him and to his left and silently kept him company while the younger man begin to speak. Quietly at first he told the picture about the new program he was working on. How he missed his piroshki. The craziness that was his life now that he was really the (foster) son of the most disgustingly cute couple of the skating world. Talking to Otabek. How well Potya was settling into life at Yutopia. A hundred small things he would have spoken of on the phone calls he hadn't been able to make.

By the end Yuri was almost slumped over in exhaustion and it took both Yuuri and Victor to get him to his feet and guide him to his bed.

The morning of the 40th day dawned bright and cold. Yuri opened the window and drew a breath of the crisp fall air. He looked at the clear sky and felt something in him thaw. He could remember his grandfather on the 40th after his grandmother's death. He'd said that day was the day they could begin to live again; that grandmother would say goodbye and go on to a better world. As a small child he hadn't understood. Now, these years later, he felt as if knew.

Dressing, he went downstairs and found only he and the Katsuki parents were awake yet. Hiroko pulled him into the tight warm hugs he had become accustomed to. For a long time he hung there and then he pulled away. "Thank you." He murmured.

She pressed a hand to his cheek and nodded. "You're the child of my child. So, with your permission, I'll call you my grandson."

Yuri's eyes grew damp. "I would like that... and I think Grandfather would have liked that as well."

"Go say your prayers to him and come help me in the kitchen." Hiroko shooed him away to the memorial and went on to the kitchen.

That morning Yuri sat quietly in front of the picture and he thought about many things. When his heart felt like he could, he spoke only one thing. "I'm glad you got to see me win gold. Keep watching me please." Rising, he left the memorial and found his newly declared grandmother waiting for him, a pile of vegetables waiting for him to clean and prep for the day.

The day was a peaceful one and not even the unexpected arrival of Otabek brought little more than quiet welcome from Yuri. Even Victor was respectfully low-key as he hovered just far enough away that Yuri didn't feel the need to snap at him. Yuuri stayed close as well, showing his concern with the occasional touch on the back or shoulder. Otabek stayed beside him, a block of quiet strength for him if he needed it.

The evening meal was set and Yuri stared at the extra place setting. A gentle touch on his shoulder made him look over at Otabek, who just stared at him, waiting.

Only when Yuri inclined his head did Otabek go back to his meal.

"Ok?" Victor asked him softly from across the table.

The quiet concern brought back a flash of tears but he pushed them away quickly. "Fine enough that I will steal the gold from you this year. From you both." Yuri nodded to Yuuri, including him in the statement.

The snappish declaration made Yuuri grin and Victor clap his hands.

At the left hand of the head of the table, Hiroko smiled. "I suppose this year will be the one that I will have to come to the competitions. It's just wrong to skip them with a son, son-in-law and grandson all competing!"

Beside her, Toshiya nodded. "Even if it's only the ones you're all at we will be there to give our support."

Yuri swallowed and glanced once more at the extra place setting. "That would be... nice."