Yuuri can read four writing systems. There’s the obvious—hiragana and katakana—and the Roman alphabet he learned in English class. The last one, however, he learned entirely on his own at age thirteen, because he fell in love with a Russian skater named Viktor Nikiforov. He didn’t learn the language but he did learn to decipher the cyrillic alphabet… “Just in case”, he told himself.
(Just in case what, exactly? At the time he didn’t know. But apparently, he has always been preparing himself for the day that the boy he saw skating on TV would show up at Yuuri’s home with his dick out.)
That’s not the point, though. The point is that he can write “Yuuri Nikiforov” in four different lettering systems. ニキフォロフ・ユ－リ. にきふぉろふ・ゆうり. Юрий Никифоров. When he was bored in class, he covered his notebook with swooping letters and drew little poodles and figure skates around them.
“Katsuki Viktor. Viktor Katsuki. It has such a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”
They’re laying in their bed in the hotel in Helsinki. The gold and silver medals of the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships, Men’s Singles division, lay draped over their bedside table. Their clothes are scattered across the floor.
Viktor has his right hand held above his head. He rotates it this way and that, the lamplight reflecting off the golden ring on his fourth finger.
Yuuri frowns. “It… Wait, Viktor, what?”
“You won gold, Yuuuu- ri! So now I get to marry you. Or did you forget our deal?”
Yuuri sits up, the bedsheets falling to his waist and exposing his chest. The room is a little cold and he shivers. “No, I— I remembered the deal, but…”
Concern flashes across Viktor’s face. “You know I’m only joking, right? I’d marry you tomorrow even if you’d come dead last today.”
“No, I know, don’t worry, I’m just—Viktor Katsuki?”
“...Yes? You don’t like it?”
“No, I do, trust me, I do,” Yuuri laughs beneath his breath, fidgeting with the bedsheets laying on his lap. “I guess I just assumed I’d be the one to take your name.”
“Yuuri Nikiforov?” Viktor beams. “That does sound very nice. But not as nice as Viktor Katsuki.”
“But you’re Viktor Nikiforov. Everyone knows you as Viktor Nikiforov. You can’t just—” Yuuri waves a hand “—change it.”
“And you’re Yuuri Katsuki, but you’re willing to change yours? There’s no difference.”
“I’m not a living legend.”
“You will be, if your coach has any say.”
Yuuri groans. “Vitya…”
“Look, I won’t change my name if you don’t want me to, alright? We can keep our names the way they are. Or we could hyphenate them! Like the Americans do!”
“Oh. That’s not a bad idea.”
“Viktor and Yuuri Katsuki-Nikiforov!”
“What about Nikiforov-Katsuki?”
“No, the first one sounds better.”
Yuuri rolls his eyes. “You just like it because the ‘Katsuki’ part is right next to the ‘Viktor’ part.”
“You can prove nothing.”
“I think it’s nice, though. Yuuri Katsuki-Nikiforov.”
“Me too. It feels…” Viktor trails off. He has Yuuri’s hand in his, running his fingers over Yuuri’s palm.
“Vitya?” Yuuri prompts.
“I don’t know. It just feels nice.”
“Mm. I think so too.”
The 2017 Rostelecom Cup goes quite smoothly—right up until it doesn’t.
“Next on the ice, from Russia, Viktor Nikiforov!”
The crowd erupts into deafening cheers. Everyone in the stands has sprung to their feet, some waving signs, others waving Russian flags, all cheering Vi-tya! Vi-tya! Vi-tya!
Viktor stands at the entrance to the rink, right next to his coach and his husband. He makes no move to skate out to center ice.
“Vitya,” Yuuri hisses. “Vitya, go!”
“They haven’t called my name yet, darling.”
“Vitya!” Yakov barks. “Are you deaf? Go!”
“Not until they call my name, Yakov!” Viktor replies in a sing-song voice. He’s smiling, a hint of mischief gleaming in his eyes.
And Yuuri realizes quite suddenly, with dawning horror and disbelief, what this is about. “Oh my god.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Nikiforov?” Yuuri turns around to find a very anxious-looking ISU employee. “Are you injured?”
Viktor looks at Yuuri with an overblown expression of confusion. “Who is Mr. Nikiforov, Yuuri? I surely don’t know.”
“Oh my god.”
Yakov, meanwhile, has turned the color of a very ripe tomato. His fedora might just burst right off his head. “Vitya!” he yells, then unleashes a stream of very frustrated Russian that Yuuri has no hope of understanding.
“Sir, I’m sorry, is there a problem? Once your name has been called you have sixty seconds—”
“Oh, I know.” Viktor holds his hand out in front of his face, examining his cuticles and looking terribly bored. Light glints off of his ring. “But my name has not been called. The announcers called the wrong name during the warm up, too, but I was already on the ice and could not correct them on their mistake. But now seems as good of a time as any to bring it to their attention, don’t you think?”
“His name is Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov,” Yuuri explains. “We got married over the summer.”
Anyone even remotely related to figure skating knows that Viktor and Yuuri got married over the summer. The pictures were all over social media for months.
“I’m sure it’s an honest mistake, sir, if you will please just go and skate—”
“No, Viktor Nikiforov is supposed to be skating. I sure don’t see anyone with that name around here…”
Yakov curses. “You are insufferable.”
Viktor just shrugs. “I’m sure I wrote my name correctly on all the competition forms…”
He did. Yuuri remembers, because it sent a surge of pride through his chest to watch him do it.
The ISU employee looks increasingly distressed, and Yuuri realizes he’s beginning to enjoy this. He takes out a phone and snags a selfie. For posterity. And also for Instagram. While the ISU employee and Viktor continue to argue and the crowd begins to grumble with impatience, Yuuri takes the opportunity to post the picture.
It’s been well past sixty seconds since the announcer first called Viktor’s name. Yuuri would be afraid his husband will be disqualified, if not for the hilarity of the situation and the knowledge that there’s no way the ISU will disqualify Russia’s living legend in a competition in Moscow when everyone in the stands bought a ticket to watch him skate.
Also, Viktor had a point. They hadn’t said his name, now had they?
Eventually, a voice comes over the loud-speaker.
“We apologize, it appears that we have made a mistake. Next on the ice, please welcome Viktor Katsuki-Nikiforov.”
And Viktor perks up instantly, winks at the ISU employee, and pushes off from the side boards.
He then proceeds to break his own short program world record.
“So, um. What was that?”
They’re walking along the Moskva river. A cold breeze rifles through Yuuri’s hair and makes him grateful for the warmth of Viktor’s hand in his.
Viktor smirks. “What was what?”
“I was just having a little fun.”
“That was some risky fun. What if they disqualified you?”
“Oh come on, Yuuri, you know they wouldn’t do that. And you were laughing your head off!”
“Well, because it was hilarious! And they deserved it. You did write your full name on the forms. Maybe it was an accident, but it happened during the warm up too, so…”
“Yes, and the Skate Canada announcers managed to get it right.”
Yuuri sighs. “Yeah.” He looks out over the river, admiring the reflections of the city lights that ripple across the surface. It looks nothing like the Neva, nothing like St. Petersburg. “Why is it so important to you?”
“Is it not important to you?”
“No, no,” Yuuri reassures him, detecting the hurt in his voice. “If they call me Yuuri Katsuki at the NHK Trophy next week, I will be really annoyed. But I… I’m getting the feeling it bothers you a lot more than that.”
Viktor waves a dismissive hand. “It’s just the principle of the thing, Yuuri.”
There’s a long silence. Yuuri listens to their footsteps against the pavement and the river beneath them lapping against the stone wall. A car horn blares in the distance.
“I love your family. I like being a Katsuki.”
Yuuri squeezes Viktor’s hand. “You’re a part of our family no matter what your name is.”
“I know.” Viktor runs his free hand through his hair. “Maybe that’s not it. Maybe it’s more than that, now.”
“It means a lot to me. Katsuki-Nikiforov. That is ours, you know? It’s something we’ve built together. Something we’ve become together. I am not the same skater I was before I met you, and I love that I have your name as a symbol of that. I’m so proud of it.”
Yuuri looks up at him and smiles. “I’m proud of it, too. It makes us sound like a team.”
“We are a team.”
Yuuri frowns. “Actually... it makes us sound like pairs skaters.”
Viktor’s back goes ramrod straight and his eyes widen. “Oh? Yuuuuu-ri…”
“Do not get any ideas. You’re nearly thirty!”
“You know that Aljona won the Olympics at thirty-four.”
“Aljona doesn’t have your bad knees.”
“Ice dance, then. No jumps, it’s perfect!”
“Wait. Vitya. Are you being serious?”
“Moderately. Somewhat. Perhaps.”
“I mean, if you really want to talk about it…”
“It’s okay, Yuuri, don’t worry. A second career sounds fun and all, but I have plans to retire to Hasetsu after I win a few more medals, and eat katsudon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until I’m as round as a hockey puck.”
“Don’t forget coaching me.”
“Of course not. I can coach you from the sidelines. I don’t think Yakov’s done more than a waltz jump since the eighties.”
“So you plan to be Yakov now?”
Viktor shrugs. “My hair is thinning already, so I’m sure I’ll look the part.”
“I’ll get you a fedora for your birthday.”
“Wait, no, Yuuri this isn’t funny anymore. Please don’t do that. Is my hair really that bad? You’re supposed to say, no, Vitya, your hair isn’t thinning, your forehead is exactly the same size as it was when I met you.”
“You’ll always be gorgeous to me.”
“That’s not the same thing!”
Yuuri stops in his tracks, squeezing Viktor’s hand to signal him to stop walking. Viktor looks back, a brief flicker of confusion crossing his face, until his eyes meet Yuuri’s and he smiles.
“Are you going to kiss me, Yuuri? In the moonlight next to the river in a beautiful, unfamiliar city?”
“You just ruined the surprise.”
“I’ll pretend to be surprised.”
Yuuri pulls Viktor close, stands on his toes and presses his lips to his husbands’. Viktor, true to his word, sucks in a little gasp. “Yuuuuuu -ri…”
“Mm, that’s nice, Yuuri Katsuki-Nikiforov,” Viktor moans against Yuuri’s lips. “Say it again?”
Yuuri wraps his arms around his husband’s waist and says his name again—