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When the tremors settle, Yuuri is alone.

Curled up on the ground, hands covering his head, metres away from the twisted wreckage of what had once been a quaint little roadside shop.

It’s quiet. The kind of heavy silence that only comes after a terrifying cacophony like that of an earthquake, of screams, of glass shattering, of a building collapsing. The only thing that Yuuri can hear now is the sound of his own heavy breathing as his panic abates. 

Once he’s certain the tremors have truly stopped, he raises his head from his arms and turns to check on Victor. He’s always been so afraid of earthquakes, even though he’s only experienced one relatively minor one before today. He looks around him, ready to soothe his undoubtedly terrified fiancé, to offer comfort. It’s only then that he realizes -

Victor is not beside him.

In fact, Victor is not anywhere around him.

Not on the road with their expensive, candy red rental car. Not near the back of the property with the shell-shocked shop’s owner. Not anywhere.

Not anywhere outside, that is.

Before his mind can even fully process the thought of Victor is still in that building, Yuuri’s body reacts. He pushes himself off the ground in one fluid motion and sprints towards the wreckage in front of him, screaming Victor’s name at the top of his lungs. 

He hardly thinks about how dangerous it is to get so close to an unstable, recently collapsed building. He pays no mind to the sharp edges of twisted metal beams sticking out of the wreckage, to the clouds of dust filling the air. He doesn’t care about any of it. His one and only priority is finding Victor and getting him out of this mess.

“Vitya!” he calls, stepping onto a stable slab of concrete that may once have been one of the building’s outer walls. He uses the stable footing to shift some heavier debris out of the way, forming a clear path to allow him access deeper into the wreckage. “Vitya, can you hear me? Please, say something!” 

Every time he shifts something, more dust flies up and into the air. Yuuri coughs as the fine powder fills his lungs. He won’t be able to continue like this, not without something to filter out the dust.

Seized with sudden inspiration, he reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out his face mask, looping the straps around his ears. The next breath he draws is clear, and he wastes no time in continuing the search.  

He keeps moving, keeping to the edges of the building where the foundations are strongest, testing the ground each time he takes a step. He can’t let himself fall through, not when Victor needs him.  

“Vitya!” He calls again, louder now that he can take a breath without choking. He listens as his voice echoes over the wreckage, praying for a response, but none comes.

As he moves to take hold of another piece of rubble to clear it away, he hears something.

It’s a faint, muffled coughing, from just a few feet away.

He turns towards the source of the noise, heart in his throat. It’s coming from his left, towards the centre of the wreckage, the least stable part. He knows it’s dangerous to go that far in, that he could be making things worse.

But then he notices a pale hand sticking up and out of a small gap in the rubble, the sunlight glinting off the gold ring on the fourth finger, and his mind is made up. Danger or no danger, there is nothing that will keep him away from his Vitya right now. 

He gets down low, dispersing his weight evenly, and makes his way across the debris as quickly as he can towards the source of the coughing. Finally he reaches it, a large, flat slab of concrete sloping downward, supported by a pile of smaller debris. 

His heart feels like it may beat out of his chest as he approaches.

“Vitya!” He calls again, trying to keep his voice from shaking too badly. “Vitya, it’s me, it’s Yuuri. Are you okay?”

There is just enough light filtered through the debris for Yuuri to make out Victor’s face in the darkness,  wide blue eyes starkly contrasted by his chalk-white face, coated in dust from the pulverized concrete, his skin only visible where tear tracks have cut through the dust.

As he catches sight of Yuuri’s face, more tears stream down his cheeks. He reaches out with the hand sticking out from the rubble, and Yuuri takes it, gripping it tight in a way he hopes is reassuring.  

“Vitya…”

“Yuu-“ Victor whimpers hoarsely, but his voice is cut off by yet another bout of coughing. His chest heaves with the force of his coughs, and his hand clutches at his throat, panic flashing across those bright blue eyes.

There’s so much dust in the area, Yuuri thinks. Too much. It’s choking him. Without thinking, he pulls off his face mask and tucks it into Victor’s hand.

He holds his breath for the few seconds it takes to pull his shirt collar up and over his mouth and nose. It’s less effective than the mask was at keeping the dust out, but it works in a pinch, and Victor clearly needs it more than he does.

“Put it on, love, please, it will help.”

Victor’s eyes are still wide and panicked, but he seems to understand, withdrawing the hand that holds the mask and putting it on. Even after it’s looped around his ears and over his nose and mouth, it takes a moment for him to get his breath back. And once he does, he bursts into terrified sobs.

 “Yuuri,” he gasps, voice slightly muffled by the mask. “Oh god, Yuuri, I can’t… I can’t breathe.”

“It’s okay, it’s okay, Vitya,” Yuuri says soothingly, guilt twisting in his stomach at the lie. Victor is trapped under a collapsed building after an earthquake, things are definitely not okay. Despite the falsehood of his reassurances, however, Victor seems to be responding to them. Slowly, some of the panic seems to be leaving his eyes, so Yuuri continues. “I know, there’s a lot of dust down here from the concrete, but you’ll be okay. You’ve got the mask on, so try to take some deep breaths with me, can you do that? Deep breaths.”

Victor closes his eyes tight and some more tears slip out and run down the mask, but he complies nonetheless, his panicked gasps gradually slowing down under Yuuri’s guidance.  

“That’s it,” Yuuri encourages, trying harder than he ever has not to let his voice betray his own panic, the anxiety coiled in his gut at the sight of the love of his life so terrified, in such danger. “That’s it, deep breaths. You’re doing so well, love.”

Once his panic is more or less under control, Yuuri sits back, looking around the rubble for anything that will help him pull Victor out. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the shop’s owner, far clear of the wreckage, speaking frantically into her phone. He fervently hopes she’s calling emergency services, but for now, his only concern is getting Victor to safety as soon as possible.

He leans back down to check on Victor. He seems to be doing better now, still clearly terrified, but no longer in a full panic. His eyes are open now, looking up at Yuuri pleadingly.

“How are you feeling?” Yuuri asks gently. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

“M’okay,” Victor says, closing his eyes again briefly, as if to steady himself. “I’m okay.”

He seems to be trying to reassure himself of that as much as Yuuri.

“Good, that’s good,” Yuuri says, pushing himself forward so that he can get a better look at the small space Victor is wedged into.

It’s long and narrow, sloping down at a steep angle. Victor is pretty far towards the back, his right hand just able to reach out from under the flat concrete slab above him. The slab looks incredibly heavy, held up by a pile of smaller rocks. If any of those move too far… Yuuri’s stomach turns at the thought. He’ll have to be extremely careful in pulling Victor out.

He focuses on Victor again, pushing himself just a little bit further forward so he can reach down into the space with both hands.

“I need you to grab my hands, okay?” He asks, struggling to keep his shirt pulled over his face. The dust is so much thicker in this narrow space than it is outside, he thinks. It’s no wonder Victor had such a hard time breathing. “I think I can pull you out, but I’ll need your help.”

Victor looks at Yuuri’s offered hands with wide eyes, and then shakes his head. “I - I don’t think that will work, Yuuri.”

“Why not? What’s wrong?”

Victor looks behind him, a little further into the space, too deep for Yuuri to see at this angle.

“There’s, uh… there’s a beam or something across my ankle.”

He says the words with a tiny grimace that sends alarm bells blaring in Yuuri’s head.  

“Oh my god, is it hurt? Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Victor says, just a little too quickly to be believable. “It’s not broken or anything, I don’t think, I’m just…” He swallows, blinking his eyes rapidly as if to hold back tears. “Stuck.”

Yuuri swears softly, helplessness settling like a lead weight in the pit of his stomach. Being stuck in a tight space has always been one of Victor’s greatest fears. He can’t just leave Victor here like this until the rescue crews arrive, that would be torture for him. He has to try something.

“It may come loose with a little help.” Yuuri suggests, reaching in again. “Just take my hands and we’ll try, okay? Just trust me.”

Despite his fear, Yuuri sees Victor’s eyes soften at that. He gives a small nod, and Yuuri extends his hands again, feeling the weight of Victor’s trust as he takes them in his own.

“I’ll pull on three, okay?”

Victor nods, his desperation to be free seemingly outweighing his doubt. “Okay.”

“One, two, three!”

Yuuri grips Victor’s hands tight, leans back, and pulls as hard as he can. For a second, it feels like it’s working as Victor slides up the slope towards the surface, just slightly. But almost immediately, the movement stops and Victor bites back a groan.

“I-I don’t think this is going to work, Yuuri,” Victor says, sounding pained. “I’m still stuck, I don’t think it’s going to budge.”

Hearing the hopelessness in his lover’s voice fills Yuuri with despair and determination in equal measure.

“Just… just a little more!” He insists, pulling up even harder.

He pulls with all his might, his arms straining with effort. He won’t let Victor stay trapped in this narrow, dusty space any longer. He’ll get him out of this if it kills him -

Then Victor whimpers, unable to conceal his pain any longer, and Yuuri releases him immediately, the thought of hurting him even more unbearable than the alternative.  

As soon as Yuuri’s grip slackens, Victor slides back down the few inches he had progressed, breathing heavily.

“I’m sorry, Yuuri,” he says, staring at the concrete underneath him without really seeing it. “I don’t… I don’t think it’s going to work.”

Yuuri’s heart breaks at his defeated tone, and he reaches out his hand again, this time in comfort.  

“It’s going to be okay, Vitya,” he vows, as Victor finally looks up and takes the offered hand. “Rescue crews should be on their way, and they’ll get you out of here, I promise.”

Victor closes his eyes and takes a steadying breath, and then another. When he opens them again, there’s still fear there, but it’s less panicked, more controlled.

“Okay,” he says, his voice only shaking a little now. “Okay. It’ll be okay.”

That’s when the ground starts to shake again.

Victor yelps at the movement beneath him, closing his eyes and withdrawing his hand from Yuuri’s, curling up as tight as he can with his leg trapped. 

“It’s okay,” Yuuri calls down over the rumble. “It’s just aftershocks, Vitya, it’s alright.”

The lie in Yuuri’s words immediately becomes evident as more dust and few small bits of debris start falling from the concrete slab overhead. A few of the smaller supporting rocks break loose and skitter down the slope past Victor, falling deeper into the foundations beneath.

Victor watches them fall with wide eyes before his gaze snaps back up, focusing on Yuuri. “You have to get out of here, it isn’t stable!”

“I’m not leaving you!” 

“You have to!” Victor shouts as more rocks continue to fall. “Please, Yuuri, if you love me, you’ll get out of here. I don’t want you to get hurt!” 

“Vitya..” 

“Just go!” He pleads, voice breaking. The dust is so thick now that Yuuri can barely see him anymore, but he can hear the raw fear in his voice. “But please… please come back after it settles… I don’t want to be alone.”

Turning away from Victor is the hardest thing Yuuri has ever had to do, but he knows it’s too dangerous to stay where he is through the aftershocks. As much as it kills him, he knows he can’t do anything to get Victor out. The only thing he can do for his husband now is to keep himself safe. 

Staying on all fours, he makes his way back towards the edges of the structure. His heart pounds a frantic rhythm in his chest as the ground continues to shake beneath him, though it feels progressively more and more stable the closer he gets to the edges. Once he’s safely back on solid ground, he turns back to check on the spot where Victor is trapped, to make sure he’s still okay-

Just in time to see the middle of the building collapse even further into the foundation with an almighty groan. The sound is deafening, twisting metal support beams and cracking concrete sending an awful cacophony through the air. It’s so loud that Yuuri can’t even hear his own anguished scream as Victor’s hand disappears from view.  

When the aftershocks die down, and the din of the collapsing building has finally quieted, Yuuri is still screaming.

“Vitya!” He scrambles back to the edge of the wreckage and calls down desperately into the darkness. “Vitya, please! Please say something.”

There is no response save his own terrified voice echoed back to him.

He bites back a sob and tries to shift some debris away so he can get further in, further down, any closer to wherever Victor ended up, but the second he sets foot onto the wreckage, he can tell it’s unstable. Any movement could trigger another collapse and cause further harm to Victor.

If he’s even still alive, that is-

…No. No, he can’t think that. If he thinks about it, thinks about the love of his life, the most precious person in the world to him, trapped in the wreckage all alone, buried, terrified, injured, or worse… he’ll go mad. He can’t think, not right now. He needs to do.

But if he can’t sift through the rubble looking for Victor, then what can he do?

The weight of his helplessness is overwhelming. It feels like it might crush him, squeezing his lungs like a vice, making it hard for him to breathe. He tries to control the oncoming panic attack, drawing in a breath, holding, releasing, repeating, but even his breathing exercises can’t help him now, not staring at the twisted pile of crumbled concrete that may have just killed his-

Bzzzzzzzzzzzt. Bzzzzzzzzzzzt. 

His phone?

It’s vibrating in his pocket. He’s so focused on the wreckage in front of him that the buzzing startles him out of his panic spiral. He pulls it out of his pocket, not really caring to answer it, not now… but when the buzzing doesn’t stop he finally glances down. The caller ID flashing on the screen nearly stops his heart.  

Incoming call from…

❤️ Vitya ❤️

His hands are shaking so hard he nearly drops the call by accident, but manages to answer right before it goes to voicemail.

“Victor?” He cries, breathless, as soon as he lifts the phone to his ear.

“Yuuri?” Victor’s voice comes through the speaker soft and tinny, and Yuuri nearly collapses with relief. “Yuuri, are you there?” 

“Yes, yes, I’m here, love, I’m outside.”

“Oh, thank god, thank god, you made it out. I was so worried…”

If the situation weren’t so horrible, Yuuri would laugh. So typical of Victor to be worrying about Yuuri, even though he’s safe out here and Victor is…

“Vitya, are you okay? I - I can’t see you anymore, and you’re too far down for me to get to you, I’m so, so sorry.”

“I’m.. I’m okay…” Victor says faintly, but Yuuri’s known him long enough to know when he’s lying. His voice is shaking and every word he says sounds strained, like he’s in pain but trying to conceal it.

“Victor, please tell me what’s wrong.”

“I’m, uh… T-the beam, the one that was pinning me before.” Victor’s breath hitches, like he’s holding back a sob. “It’s… it feels like there’s more weight on it now. It… it’s crushing my ankle. I think it’s broken, it. It hurts.”

“Oh, god…” Yuuri bites his lip to hold back a sob. He can’t cry now. He has to be strong for Victor. Swallowing his panic, he speaks. “Do you know where you are? Can you see anything around you that might help the rescue crew find you when they get here?”

For a few seconds, all Yuuri can hear through the receiver is Victor’s raspy, pained breathing as he looks around.

“No,” he finally replies, voice shaking. “I’m too far down, I-I can’t see anything, not even daylight. Just my phone. Yuuri, I’m scared.”

Yuuri’s heart shatters at the sound of his Vitya’s voice, so small and terrified. “I’m so sorry Victor. I wish… god, I wish there was something I could do…”

He runs a hand through his hair in frustration, pacing back and forth in front of the wreckage. He would give anything in this moment to be able to offer even the slightest help to Victor, but he can’t. There’s nothing he can do but listen as his husband suffers, trapped and injured under an incredibly heavy and unstable collapsed building. 

“Yuuri?” Victor’s voice comes again through the phone. Yuuri wouldn’t think it possible, but he sounds even more frightened before. “Yuuri, are you still there?”

 He realizes with a pang of guilt that, in his frustration, he’s just gone silent on Victor for a solid minute. He presses the phone to his ear, as if that will help bring him any comfort. “Yes, I’m here, love. I’m sorry, I got… lost in my thoughts.”

There’s a sniffle, and then a wet laugh. “It’s okay. I know you do that sometimes. Just… could you keep talking? Please? I need to hear your voice, I just need to know you’re there.”

“Okay. Okay, Vitya,” Yuuri says, trying not to let his voice betray his fear. This is good, this is something useful he can do. Keep Victor calm while they wait for the rescue crews. “What do you want me to talk about?”

“Anything.” 

“Alright.” Yuuri takes a breath, brain scrambling to come up with something to say to keep Victor calm. He eventually settles on the first thing to come to mind, some mindless gossip that Phichit had been telling him about when they spoke yesterday.

It’s nothing that would particularly interest Victor any other day, or Yuuri for that matter, just some drama happening on one of Phichit’s favourite guilty-pleasure reality shows. But it passes the time and keeps them both from panicking, so it’s good enough for Yuuri.

Though Yuuri’s heart is still in his throat, the meaningless prattle does seem to be helping Victor. His panicked breathing slowly dies down, and he no longer sounds like he’s crying, although the pain is still present in his voice every time he interjects with a remark. Yuuri can’t stand to hear it and checks his watch again, wondering not for the first time just where the hell the rescue crew is.

His pondering is cut short when he hears a dismayed gasp on the other end of the phone.

“Oh god,” Victor whimpers, sounding close to tears once again.  

“What? What is it? Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, I just… Yuuri. My battery is dying.”

All the air leaves Yuuri’s lungs at once. This is his only line of communication with Victor. If he loses it, and something happens…

“How long do you have left?”  

“I don’t… four percent, I think? You were right, I should have ch-charged it before we left…” Victor forces out a laugh that quickly turns into a sob. “Yuuri, I don’t want to be alone. It’s so dark down here.”

“I’m so sorry, Vitya,” Yuuri chokes, finally giving into his tears.

“I love you, Yuuri,” Victor whispers. “If this is… I want to make sure you know, if I don’t get another chance-“

“Don’t-“ Yuuri sobs. “Don’t talk like that. The rescue crews are on their way, they’ll get you out of there.”

“I need to say it, Yuuri, please. Please let me say it, j-just in case.”

Yuuri can't hold back the sob that tears its way out of his throat, but forces himself to stay quiet and let Victor speak, even though it kills him to hear him say these words.

“I love you so much. I’m s-so glad I met you. I don’t know where I’d be without you. And I am s-so proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished. I can’t even say how much you mean to me, Yuuri, I love you so much-”

“I love you too, Vitya.” Yuuri sobs.

“Tell, tell Makkachin I love her,” he says quickly, as if time is running out. “And Yakov, and Yurio, too. Tell them I’m s-sorry I couldn’t come back.”

“You’re not going to die, Victor, you’re going to be okay.”

“Please, Yuuri. Promise me you’ll tell them. Just in case.”

“….I promise.”  

“Thank you,” Victor whimpers. Then he gasps. “I’m at one percent now. I… I wish we had more time…”

“Vitya-“

 “I love you, Yuuri. Don’t forget that. I love you so much. I love you, I love you, I-“

The line goes dead.

The sound that tears itself out of Yuuri’s throat as the call disconnects is nearly inhuman, a wrenching wail of despair as he falls to his knees and sobs without restraint.

It’s just so unfair.

Victor is trapped god-knows-how far underground in an unstable structure that could collapse on top of him at any second. There is nothing Yuuri can do to help except sit around and wait for the rescue crew. And now their only line of communication is gone, leaving Victor trapped and truly, excruciatingly alone.

He doesn’t deserve this.

This shouldn’t have happened. Not to him. Not to Victor, the sweetest, kindest soul Yuuri has ever met. Not to the man who would always go out of his way to make others happy, even on his worst day.

This shouldn’t be happening. Not to Victor, who gets nervous if he’s stuck in an elevator too long because he doesn’t like enclosed spaces. Who had been so afraid the first time he’d felt an earthquake after coming to Japan that Yuuri had had to spend the night in his room.

This shouldn’t be happening, this shouldn’t be happening. Victor shouldn’t be down there trapped under the rubble just a few feet away, hurt, alone, and terrified.

If he’s even still alive.

And there it is. The thought that sets off the panic attack that has been brewing ever since the fist tremor struck. Yuuri curls up beside the wreckage and wails, his brain screaming all the worst case scenarios at him as his heart pounds frantically and his lungs try and fail to take in enough air.

And when the rescue crew arrives, nearly an hour after the initial tremor, they find him like that, doubled over a few meters away from the wreckage, hands fisted in his hair, trying desperately to breathe.

The next thing Yuuri knows, there are hands on his shoulders and a concerned face filling his tear-blurred vision. It’s a paramedic, Yuuri thinks mildly through the panic. She seems to be trying to say something to him, but he can’t hear it, all sound muffled by the roaring of blood in his ears.

“My husband…” Yuuri gasps out between bouts of panicked sobbing. “You have to help him. He didn’t make it out in time. He’s - he’s trapped in there, he’s hurt, please, please get him out.”

The paramedic is speaking again and Yuuri forces himself to listen, just in case what she’s saying is of any help to Victor.

“We’ll do our best, sir,” she says in a steady, professional tone. “But right now we need you to come back to the safe zone and let us check you out.”

At a loss, Yuuri allows himself to be shepherded past the barricade to the safe zone and sat down in the back of an ambulance, where he is quickly wrapped in a blanket as the paramedics check him out. He barely pays attention as they look him over, answering their questions in an empty monotone while staring out at the crews working to stabilize the collapsed building.

Once the paramedics have ascertained that he’s in no immediate physical danger, they tuck a styrofoam cup of something hot into Yuuri’s hand and leave him there as they go off to consult with the rescue crews.

Yuuri spends the next hour in a kind of fugue state. He can’t remember much of it. He remembers watching the rescue crew work, setting up scaffolding to stabilize the more dangerous sections of the wreckage to allow them access to the foundations, where Victor must have ended up. The work is agonizingly slow. He remembers calling his family and friends to ensure they’re all safe - they are. Ice Castle, Minako’s studio and Yu-topia had all been spared any damage. Everyone is safe.

Everyone except Victor. 

This shouldn’t be happening.

Whatever is is the styrofoam cup has gone completely cold by the time Yuuri gets any news. He jerks to awareness when he notices one of the paramedics approaching and stands immediately, the shock blanket falling off his shoulders as he moves to meet her. 

“Katsuki-san?”

“Yes!” He says quickly. “That’s me. Have you… have you heard anything?”

She nods and flashes him a small, reassuring smile. “Yes. The rescue team has stabilized the building and located your husband. His condition is stable, but his left ankle is pinned underneath a support beam that appears to be weight-bearing. It may take some time to get him out without risking further collapse, but we wanted to update you on the situation.”

The only words that register are “located” and “stable condition,” and Yuuri sags in relief, thanking the medic profusely before she retreats once more to consult with the team. But the relief doesn’t last long. Even though Victor is alive and no longer alone, he is still trapped, and it seems as though freeing him will be no easy feat. 

Restless, Yuuri paces back and forth for what seems like hours. He watches as some of the team come out of the wreckage, and then return with tools. He paces some more and takes a sip of whatever is in the cup still clutched in his hand before throwing the whole thing away and slumping back down dejectedly onto the back step of the ambulance.  

And then he hears a scream. It’s Victor’s voice, he knows it, he’d know that voice anywhere. He stands up immediately and, without thinking, starts to jog towards the rubble, not caring about the fences set up around the perimeter to mark out the safe zone. One of the paramedics notices and steps in front of him, blocking him from crossing the barricade.  

“What’s happening?”

“Your fiancé was pinned under some rubble, sir. They had to shift it to get him out.”

 “Why did he scream? What’s happening? Please, please just tell me…”

 The paramedic is saying something, trying to convince Yuuri to go back further into the safe zone, but Yuuri isn’t paying much attention to him, fixated on the scaffolding where the rescue crew entered the collapsed building.  

There’s movement there. It’s too dark and too far away for Yuuri to be sure, but there is definitely some activity now, just behind it.

Please, please, please…

Slowly, figures start to emerge from the wreckage. The rescue team, all four of them in their reflective vests, two of them supporting a fifth figure between them.

 The sob tears itself out of Yuuri’s throat before he even has time to process what he’s seeing.

He’s limping badly, seemingly unable to put any weight at all onto his right foot. His entire body is chalk-white, face and clothes and mask covered in dust from three agonizing hours trapped underneath the collapsed building.  

But he’s standing. He’s walking. He’s breathing.  

He’s alive.  

Victor is alive.  

Yuuri dodges past the medic and breaks into a sprint as the rescuers approach, running out to meet them as soon as they bring him across the barrier marking the safe zone.  

Victor looks dazed and terrified as he is led away from the collapsed building, but as soon as he lays eyes on Yuuri, his face crumples and he reaches out desperately. Yuuri doesn’t think, just runs into his arms, the two rescuers supporting him releasing him gently into Yuuri’s grasp, stepping back somewhat to give them privacy.

“Yuuri,” Victor sobs, burying his face in Yuuri’s neck and twisting his hands into the back of his shirt. “I… I thought, I…”

His words are lost to another bout of sobbing, and Yuuri shushes him soothingly, stroking his hair as he succumbs to his own tears.

“It’s okay, Vitya,” he manages, “You’re safe now, you’re alright…”  

“I was so scared,” he whispers, clutching Yuuri tight. “I thought I’d never see you again.”

“I know, love, I know. I was scared too. But you’re safe now.”

“I’m…” Victor cuts himself off with another sob, glancing down at his ankle, bloody and bent at a grotesque angle. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to skate again.”

“That doesn’t matter, Victor. Skating doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re safe.”

 Victor sniffles and lets out a soft sob, before pulling Yuuri in for another tight embrace. He’s shaking like a leaf in Yuuri’s arms, and all Yuuri wants to do is wrap him up and protect him from the world.

“I love you so much.” Victor murmurs into Yuuri’s shirt.

“I love you too, Vitya.”

Their embrace is interrupted by the medics, who come running over with a stretcher. They gently help Victor up onto it, Yuuri wincing as he cries out when his ankle is jostled by the movement.  

They allow him to sit in the back of the ambulance with Victor on the way to the hospital, and the two clasp hands the entire way, Yuuri mumbling a nonstop litany of reassurances through his tears as he strokes Victor’s hair.

He doesn’t know what comes next. The damage to Victor’s ankle is extensive, and will require a long and arduous recovery process, not to mention the psychological toll it must have taken on Victor to be trapped alone for so long. It hurts Yuuri to think what his husband has been through over these past agonizing hours since the earthquake first struck.

But Victor is here now, right beside him, and Yuuri will do whatever it takes to protect him, to make him feel safe again. It’s going to take time, so much time and so much effort and so many tears to come back from this. But they’ll get there, together. Yuuri knows it.  

As long as his Vitya is breathing and by his side, everything will be okay.