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Yuri blinked away the light. He turned to see Victor staring at him, concern in his eyes. As soon as the Russian saw that he was awake he reached out and brushed his fingers over Yuri’s face.

“Good morning.” He paused, eyes searching for the first emotions of the morning to register. “How are you feeling today?”

Yuri sighed softly and buried himself in his omega’s chest. He was comfortable, for the moment that was all that mattered.

Victor kissed the top of his head. “I let you sleep in, but we should probably get going soon. We’re already almost an hour behind schedule.”

Yuri grumbled again and nuzzled into Victor’s warmth.

“Five minutes,” Victor warned softly.

Yuri nodded and breathed deep his lover’s scent. He was starting to remember his anxiety attack of the night before, and wanted to center himself before it could gnaw at him again.

Victor rubbed soothing circles on his back, and he was just so comfortable. He was almost asleep again when Victor told him that his five minutes were up and that it was time to get out of bed.

He grumbled but got up and padded to his room to get dressed. However, as soon as he saw the pile of sweaters and practice clothes on his bed he started to feel the anxiety claw at him again.

How can I give up skating after all we’ve worked for? But I can’t lose him either.

Yuri’s breathing was short and shallow. Things were happening too fast and he was running out of time.

Strong hands on his shoulders, turning him around. Victor’s scent.

“Shhh Yuri. Don’t let it get you. You’re ok.”

Yuri looked up, and Victor immediately kissed him. “I’m right here, ok?”

Yuri nodded.

Victor smiled softly, then turned his own eyes towards the bed. “Is my heat what’s causing these?” he asked cautiously, eyeing the pile of clothes.

No! Never think that!

Yuri shook his head, then grabbed Victor’s face so that he could look him in the eye. He had to make it clear that it wasn’t the heat. “No Vitya. Your heat has nothing to do with last night’s anxiety attack. My only concern about your heat is making sure that it’s good for you.”

Victor smiled softly and nodded. “Want to tell me what’s eating at you then?”

Yuri bit his lip. “I… I can’t. Not yet. I have to sort through it more first.”

Victor studied him and sighed before kissing his forehead. “Talk to me if you need to. I’m here.”

Yuri smiled. “I know, and once it all settles I promise you’ll be the first to know. Ok?”

Victor nodded, then turned his eyes to the bed again. They widened in expectation, taking in the large pile. “Is that… is all that for my nest?”

Yuri nodded. “I don’t think we can take all of it, but you can pick through and take as many things as you can fit into a suitcase.”

“Oh Yuri!” Victor kissed him again, passionately before easing off to sweet.

Yuri smiled as the kiss ended. Being with Victor felt too good, like he was drowning in his own dreams, and he didn’t want to be dragged from it.

They held each other for a minute before Victor finally sighed. “We should finish getting ready. I rushed out when I heard your breathing.”

Yuri looked down and laughed. Somehow Victor was only wearing one sock.

Victor chuckled. “Do you want me to stay, or do you think you’re ok now?”

“I’ll be ok.”

“Good, cause the one foot is getting cold.”

Yuri laughed and rose on his toes to kiss Victor again. “Thank you.”

“I’ll always be there when you need me.”

I hope so.

Yuri watched Victor return to his room, then picked through the practice clothes that hadn’t been thrown onto the pile. He pulled on a shirt and sweats and a few minutes later they were jogging side-by-side toward Ice Castle.


 

Yuri took a deep breath and circled the rink, gaining speed. His last attempt had been the best yet, only putting a hand on the ice. He passed Victor, leaning against the barrier, gold blades catching the morning light. The Russian shouted several words of encouragement.

Speed is good…

Yuri glanced and checked his path, crouched, and plunged his toe pick into the ice, simultaneously launching with the other leg.

He counted the rotations, and prepared for landing. His blade touched down on the ice, and he glided out of the jump.

His breath caught in his throat. He’d landed it.

“Yuri!” Victor called, already skating over. “That was perfect!”

Yuri barely had time to brace himself before he was wrapped in Victor’s arms.

“You did it Yuri!” Victor grabbed his face and tilted his head up for a deep kiss. “You’re amazing, you know that?”

Yuri smiled and wrapped his arms around Victor’s waist, pulling the taller man close. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Victor smiled down at him. “Yes you could have. All I did was speed up the process.”

Yuri felt himself melt a little inside as their lips came together.

“Can you show it to me again?” Victor asked softly as they separated.

Yuri nodded.

Another kiss, chaste and soft, then Victor returned to watch from the barrier.

Yuri let the glow suffuse through him as he circled the rink. He launched it again. The landing was a bit shaky, but he managed to keep from putting down his hand.

He turned to look toward Victor, then skated over.

“It was shaky that time,” his coach chided. “But you’ll have it nailed before Moscow. I know it.”

Yuri smiled, grabbed his towel and wiped the sweat from the back of his neck.

“Let’s go out to dinner tonight to celebrate,” Victor suggested.

“It was just a jump,” Yuri replied with a laugh.

Victor skated around and pinned Yuri between himself and the barrier. “It was the jump that’s going to get you gold at the Grand Prix Final. I think that’s something to celebrate.

“Besides, I think I want to go out to dinner with my boyfriend.”

Yuri smiled. “Well, when you put it that way.”

Victor smiled and they kissed again.

“Ok you two,” Takeshi called from the door. “Off the ice with that. I need to start up the zamboni and prep for the afternoon.”

They smiled at each other for a moment, then Victor burst into laughter.

“What’s so funny?” Yuri asked, confused.

“I was just thinking what would happen if we didn’t leave… then the thought of Takeshi chasing us around the ice on the zamboni popped into my mind.”

Yuri laughed, “Even better… It’s chasing you and I’m trying to hold it back, but it’s dragging me along.”

Victor’s eyes widened and he laughed even harder before skating over to where Takeshi was walking toward where the large machine was stored. “Please Takeshi, can we do that? Yuko can take a photo for social media.”

Takeshi stared for a second, then chuckled. “Ok. Let me get Yuko.”

After a few false starts they were finally able to get a couple photos and a short video, thanks to Yuko.

Yuri was laughing almost uncontrollably as he watched Victor fill in a string of hashtags, including: #gonnadie #savemeYuri and #attackofthezomboni.

“You’re too much sometimes. You know that right?”

Victor turned to him and smiled. “You love it.”

Yuri draped himself over the Russian. “Yeah, I do.”


 

Yuri and Victor were shown to a followup room as soon as they entered the clinic. The staff had been told to expect a quick visit and were asked to just fit them in between other patients. The nurse swabbed each of their cheeks, then took the swabs for testing.

They faced each other and leaned in in the quiet room.

“Nervous?” Yuri asked softly.

Victor smiled. “A bit. But I know it’ll be ok with you there.”

Yuri returned the smile and rose up to kiss the omega. “However you need,” he replied.

There was a knock at the door, and Dr. Ito strode in. She pulled up the test results on the in-room computer and smiled.

“The cheek swabs look good boys. Both of your birth control shots are at full effect, no booster doses needed. Are there any questions you have for me while you’re here?”

Both men shook their heads.

She smiled. “Ok then. You’re all set. Have a good heat.”


 

At first Yuri protested about going to dinner at the new French restaurant, as he’d heard it was pricy. But with Victor making puppy eyes at him all afternoon he’d finally relented.

He had to admit that the ambiance was perfect for a date, with white cloths and candles on every table.

They had just ordered dessert when Victor leaned in. “Mmm, that was always one nice thing about competitions in France, the food is just divine.”

Yuri smiled. “I think I was only in France once. I usually ended up in the Americas or Asia for competitions. This will be my first time in Moscow.”

“Really?” Victor blinked, obviously in thought. “I guess I never did see you assigned there.”

Yuri smiled.

“Do you want me to show you around? I know we won’t have Chris or Phichit there, but it’s a beautiful city. Plus, I know all the best places.”

Yuri thought for a minute, then shook his head. “I usually don’t like sightseeing. Somehow Phichit talks me into it, but it’s not my thing.”

Victor looked disappointed for a moment then smiled. “Do you want to meet my family?”

Yuri looked up and blinked. “Your family?” He felt a blush rise across his cheeks and he flailed his hands in front of him. “No, no, it’s far too early for that!”

“Why?” Victor tilted his head and smiled. “They started seriously asking about you after the Cup of China. They live in Moscow, so it’s not as if it’s a special trip or anything.”

Yuri smiled softly and smiled shyly. “Only if you’re comfortable taking me to meet them. I’m honestly a little underwhelming.”

“Nonsense Yuri. You’re perfect.”

“Not until after the free skate though. I don’t want to worry about what they think of me until I’m able to show them the medal you helped me win.”

Victor nodded. “I think we can do that.” He reached across the table and dragged his fingertips across Yuri’s face.

Yuri closed his eyes and hummed softly at the touch.

They were interrupted by the delivery of their clafoutis, and Victor started making noises of joy as soon as he tasted it.

They were playfully feeding each other bites of the decadent dessert when a commotion started on the other side of the room. Both glanced up for a moment, then decided to ignore it.

Unfortunately they quickly found themselves interrupted by a large drunken man who reeked of alpha. “I finally found you…” he growled lustfully in Japanese. “I’ve been unable to get that scent out of my head since I came in.”

Victor and Yuri exchanged a confused glance as the younger man translated for the Russian’s sake. They’d both made sure to use masking soaps after practice so as not to disturb people during dinner with their increased scent as they approached heat and rut. Even across the table Yuri could barely smell the omega.

“I do believe you have the wrong table sir,” Yuri replied politely.

The man’s eyes darkened dangerously. “I’m not talking to you,” he growled, switching to English. “I’m talking to this pretty omega.”

Victor’s eyes narrowed in anger. “It is horribly rude to interrupt another man’s meal. So if you’ll leave, we would appreciate it.”

The man leaned over, trying to assert dominance over their table. “Why would I do that? You’re the best smelling thing in this place. Why don’t you come home with me?”

Yuri could smell even more of the alpha’s sour scent, but he could tell by the look in Victor’s eyes that the Russian wanted him to stay out of it. He knew his coach was right. The last thing they needed was a fight with only a week and a half until the next competition.

“You’re drunk,” Victor replied icily. “Besides, if you hadn’t already noticed, I have an alpha.”

“Could have fooled me,” the drunken man sneered. “I can’t smell him on you. Or is he so weak that he can’t even scent you properly.”

Yuri clenched and unclenched his hands. He was itching to protect his mate, but another glance between him and Victor told him that his coach was trying to keep him out of it.

The man thrust his arm across the table, wrist toward Victor. “Come on, a pretty thing like you surely must want a nice strong scent like this on you during heat.”

Victor recoiled from the sour smell. “Leave. I’m not interested.”

The man’s eyes narrowed. “You and I both know a puny alpha like this one won’t be able to satisfy a beautiful creature such as you. I bet he barely even has a proper knot. I’ll make sure you’re well taken care of.”

“I said leave.”

“Don’t you want an alpha who will stand up for you? Look at him, so terrified of a real alpha that he’s let an omega do all the talking.”

Yuri clenched his teeth, unable to remain quiet any longer. He pushed his chair back from the table and stood.

“Baby alpha gonna run away and cry?” the drunkard laughed.

Yuri growled, low and threatening in his throat. “He asked nicely, several times, for you to leave. Now I’m telling you. Leave us alone.”

The man stood straight and glared down his nose at Yuri. “You’re not alpha enough for a pretty omega like him.”

Yuri’s growl intensified, and his angered scent spread through the air around him. The sounds of chatter and clinking silverware stopped as the standoff continued, people unnerved by the smell of angry alpha.

“Whether or not I’m enough of an alpha is not your decision to make. It’s his. You had your chance, and he refused. Now go back to whatever rock you crawled out from under.”

Yuri scrunched his nose at the putrid odor seeping from the drunken alpha.

The entire room was deathly quiet as the two alphas stared at each other. Yuri felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

The drunken alpha yelped in surprise as hands grabbed him from behind. He kicked and struggled, and Yuri could see that the host had enlisted the aid of the bartender and what appeared to be one of the cooks to subdue the larger man.

He was yelling and fighting as they pulled him away and out of sight of diners

The waitress came over and bowed deeply. “So sorry sirs. It was not our intent to allow another customer to disturb your dinner.”

Yuri took a deep breath, let it out slowly and forced his anger down. He bowed in return. “It wasn’t your fault. Thank you for your assistance in dealing with him.”

The young woman smiled and moved back several paces.

Yuri turned to the room and bowed deeply. “I apologize for interrupting your meals.”

As Yuri turned to sit again he could hear the faint spritzes of a masking spray, and the gentle sounds of diners eating again.

“Are you ok?” Yuri asked Victor, seeing that his omega had paled slightly.

Victor nodded. “Yeah. For a minute I was worried it might come to blows.”

Yuri smiled and reached across the table to touch Victor’s face. The omega instantly sniffed at his wrist and closed his eyes in contentment. “It would have been worth it,” Yuri said. “Guys like him don’t deserve wonderful people like you.”

Victor smiled, then developed a stern expression. “While I agree with the sentiment, as your coach I must remind you that judges do not look favorably on bruises healing from fistfights.”

Yuri laughed. “The JSF doesn’t take kindly to its skaters brawling either. Don’t worry. I kept my head about me.”

Victor smiled again.

Despite the interruption being over, they both quickly decided that the mood had been ruined. They left their dessert half uneaten as they paid and made their way out into the street.

Yuri was still angry over the incident, and had the unshakable need to kiss his mate. He pulled Victor into a nearby park and away from the hustle and bustle of the street. They walked silently, hand in hand, until the noise of the crowds was distant din.

Yuri stopped and tugged at Victor’s hand, silently urging the omega to stop too.

Victor looked at Yuri with an undecipherable expression as the younger man moved to stand in front of him, rose up on the balls of his feet and pulled his boyfriend in for a passionate kiss.

Mine.

Hands wrapped around his middle and the Russian moaned softly into the kiss, which only made Yuri hold it longer. Yuri growled possessively.

They stayed that way for far longer than Yuri would normally be comfortable with outside of the privacy of their room, but he couldn’t get enough. Victor was his and he needed this.

It was only when they heard the squealing of a couple of teenage girls, and the sound of a camera app that they broke apart.

“I needed that,” Yuri said softly as he gazed up into Victor’s eyes.

“So did I,” the Russian murmured in response. Yuri was glad to see that the slight pallor he had worn into the park had left his face.

They kissed again, a gentle touch of the lips, then their arms entwined as they strolled along the path toward the inn. Yuri could hear the girls a short distance behind them, murmuring about which was going to ask for autographs.

Then there was an angry bellow from behind them.

Not this again.

Yuri turned to see the girls running off into some trees, and the same drunken alpha from the restaurant stomping toward them. Yuri instinctively put his arm in front of Victor, moving between the omega and the other alpha.

The vile stench, the obvious challenge, and his own upcoming rut had all combined. Yuri was pissed, every alpha instinct ready to fight for and defend his mate.

“Where were we?” the belligerent man snarled as he pushed into Yuri’s personal space.

We were going home,” Yuri growled. “You were going to crawl back under a rock and leave us alone.”

Victor tugged on Yuri’s sleeve, and Yuri agreed. He’d had enough. He turned, put his arm around Victor’s waist and started walking away.

“Come back here and fight like a man,” the drunkard yelled. “Fight like an alpha.”

Yuri made a point to ignore the man and kept walking. He couldn’t help but notice a tiny tremble in Victor’s muscles and just wanted to get home and soothe his mate.

Victor picked me. I’m the only one who can satisfy him.

Footsteps, then strong hands on his shoulders, turning him. Before Yuri had a chance to react he took a punch to the gut.

The larger alpha sneered. “Think that pretty omega will still be interested when you’re bleeding and begging for me to stop? Better run now baby alpha, before you get hurt. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure this omega screams in pleasure.”

The taunting had given Yuri just enough time to catch his breath and find his balance. He glared up. He hadn’t started the fight, but he was damn well going to end it, and on his terms.

Yuri growled deep and possessive in his throat, a cloud of pheromones forming around him. Victor was his , and there was no way he’d allow anybody as sleazy as the man in front of him to so much as lay a finger on the Russian.

He was angry, and the other man would be the one begging. He wasn’t going to just beat him, he was going to humiliate him.

Almost twenty years of ballet had given Yuri flexibility, and partner dances he had learned while in the states had added the reflexes to read and respond to the movements of another person. Combined with the lumbering movement of alcohol, he could almost see where the drunkard would swing before he started. He ducked and weaved, easily avoiding or blocking the punches, waiting for an opening.

Feint left, real punch is coming from the right. There it is.

Yuri leaned back just before a blow would have landed on his face, allowing the arm to pass him. He reached up, grabbed it and held on as he ducked underneath, twisting it painfully behind the other man’s back. He wrapped his free leg around the front so that the man couldn’t twist back, then pressed up on the man’s elbow until he howled in pain.

The drunkard’s free arm swung erratically, but couldn’t find purchase on the smaller man behind him.

“Knees,” Yuri growled, pressing up just a bit more on the arm to make sure that the man got the point.

The man fell to his knees, and Yuri used an elbow in the middle of his back to force him face down onto the path. He positioned himself over the other alpha, one knee pinning the free arm and the other on the thighs so that the drunk couldn’t move.

The man was howling in pain. “You broke my arm, you broke my arm!”

Yuri pushed up on the elbow again. “Shut up,” he sneered. “I haven’t broken anything. But I could if I wanted to.” Another push. “Who was supposed to beg? What do you think?”

“No!” the man gasped. “Please! I’ll leave you alone. Please! Just let me go. I’m sorry!”

Yuri growled. “Don’t go picking fights.” He then looked up at Victor, a satisfied smirk on his face. “Honey, could you call the police for me please?”

Victor blinked, then nodded mutely. He reached for his phone, but had barely unlocked it when they heard shouting.

Yuri looked up to see two police officers heading toward them, obviously coming in response to the man’s pained howls.

Yuri eased his pressure on the man’s elbow, but kept him pinned until the police had reached them. As soon as they were close enough that the man wouldn’t be able to run he stood and moved to the side. One of the officers knelt by the man on the ground and the other led Yuri several paces away.

Yuri glanced at Victor and saw that the pallor had returned to the Russian’s face. He wanted to kiss him again, to reassure him, but it would have to wait.

Vitya... I’m sorry Vitya. Please don’t be mad. I had to protect you.

Yuri balked slightly at the officer’s demands that he be restrained, but he quickly understood that they needed to sort through the information, and that two alphas in a fight was a dangerous situation. He grudgingly agreed and let the man bind his wrists behind his back.

He could hear the drunkard yelling that his arm had been broken, and Yuri couldn’t contain another smirk of satisfaction when the officer dealing with him pointed out that it looked fine. The belligerent man then demanded that Yuri be arrested.

Yuri felt his heart stop for a second. An arrest so close to competition would be bad. He could be suspended from competing. It could destroy all the work of the past seven months.

An arrest with Victor’s heat only two days away could be worse. He looked up at the Russian, who was pale and obviously worried.

He looked back at the other alpha, who was resisting restraint and insisting that he was the victim. With the entire scene unfolding in Japanese, Yuri knew that it didn’t look good.

“Officer?” he asked.

“Yes?”

“My coach… he doesn’t speak Japanese. Do you speak English well enough to tell him I’m not being arrested?”

“We don’t know that yet,” the officer replied coolly.

“Do you speak English?” Yuri demanded. “Look at him, he’s confused and obviously worried. Just reassure him. Talk to him. Please.”

The officer sighed, but left Yuri alone long enough to take Victor away a few paces and speak to him. He watched as the officer took out a voice recorder, and faintly heard the Russian detailing what happened from his perspective.

Yuri winced, it was far from a reassurance, but at least had distracted the omega for a minute.

Victor didn’t look much better when the officer returned, but Yuri could tell that it had helped. He smiled as best he could at his mate.

As the officer asked about the incident he recounted how they had been interrupted at dinner, then followed into the park. He tried not to let his instincts get the better of him as the faint scent of an agitated Victor was carried to him on the wind.

The officer walked over to join his partner and Yuri watched in annoyance as the other alpha gestured wildly.

Yuri took several deep breaths. He had to keep calm, but the longer the restraints stayed around his wrists the more worried he got. He knew it hadn’t looked good, with him as the victor, and the looks he received from the police only increased in suspicion as the drunken alpha gave his statement.

After several minutes the officer that had restrained him earlier came back from listening to the statements from the drunk.

“Your statements and his don’t match, and until we can talk to somebody from the restaurant to verify that part of the story we’re going to take you both in.”

Yuri grit his teeth. “Didn’t my coach tell you what happened?”

“Yes, but I don’t speak enough English to understand it all. We’re waiting on a translator, but it might not be until tomorrow since this is a non-emergency case.”

Yuri clenched his jaw. He knew that the officer had no choice given the information on hand, but it angered him nonetheless.

“Officer?” a female voice asked timidly from a little ways up the path.

Yuri and the officer both turned to see one of the teenage girls that had been there earlier. She was holding out her cell phone.

“It’s a bit late for you to be out,” the officer chastised. “Head home, we don’t need onlookers.”

She shook her head. “Before… before you arrest him… can you watch this?”

Yuri blinked in confusion, an expression mimicked by the officer before he took several paces and accepted the phone. He touched the screen, and Yuri could hear the sounds of a video playing.

The officer played it until the end, then watched it a second time. He asked for permission to save the video for evidence, and when the girl agreed he shared it to his own email address. He then switched with his partner, and allowed the other officer to view the video before they conferred quietly.

Discussion over, he called into the department and asked a series of questions over his radio.

The officer walked back over to Yuri and cut the tie from his wrists. Yuri rubbed at the skin where the restraints had cut in.

“That girl caught everything I needed to verify at least this part of your story. There was also no call from the restaurant backing up his claims that you assaulted him first there, though we’ll still need to conduct interviews. Right now, based on that video, we’re arresting him for assault caused by rut rage, but depending on what the restaurant manager says you might face charges as well.”

Yuri nodded solemnly. He knew he was innocent, but there was still that tinge of fear in his gut.

“We still need you to come down to the station for a statement though.”

Yuri glanced to Victor and saw that the Russian was highly agitated. He needed to get him home.

“Is it possible for us to come tomorrow afternoon, once you have a translator present?”

The officer narrowed his eyes. “Any particular reason?”

“I’d like to get him home. Also, I need to inform my contact in the Japanese Skating Federation about the incident. They may wish to have somebody present with their own questions, and it will be easier on all involved if we can get everything over with at once.”

The officer studied him for a moment, then nodded. He pulled a business card out of his pocket and wrote down something on the back. “My shift starts at four. Be there by four-fifteen or we’ll send an officer to pick you up.”

Yuri nodded and glanced at the business card. He saw that the email address for the officer was listed on it. “Just in case the JSF doesn’t need to send somebody, is it ok if I provide your email address if they have any questions?”

The officer nodded.

Yuri bowed and thanked the man for his service to the community. He then walked over to Victor, savoring the angry yells of the other alpha as he was restrained and arrested.

“Are you ok?” Yuri asked softly, reaching up to brush the fringe from in front of Victor’s eyes.

Yuri winced when he saw shaking in the ocean-blue depths.

“Yuri…?”

“They’re releasing me. We need to go in tomorrow afternoon to give a statement. There will be a translator present, and they’ll want to talk to you too.”

Victor swallowed and nodded.

Yuri reached up and held the omega’s face in his hands. “Vitya…”

“I’m… I’m ok Yuri. Just shaken. I thought they were going to arrest you.”

“They almost did. Those girls saved us. One of them caught the whole thing on her phone.”

“Yuri I… I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault. If I wasn’t an…”

“Stop right there,” Yuri ordered. “It’s not your fault. I’m sure there were plenty of other alphas around. None of them acted out. The only one at fault is him. Ok?”

Victor nodded slowly.

Yuri wanted to kiss him, to scent him and make him feel better. But he also wanted to get away from the police before they changed their mind about taking statements the next day. More than anything he wanted to get Victor away from the vile stench of the other alpha.

“Vitya… Let’s go home.”

Victor smiled weakly and nodded again.