St. Petersburg is more crowded than Hasetsu. Even at nine in the morning, when the work rush should have been over, Yuuri can hear the low rumble of passing trucks, the occasional sharp honk, even up in Victor’s spacious penthouse apartment.
Last night, he’d been exhausted from the long trip and confused by his new surroundings. Victor had greeted him enthusiastically, affectionately…and like he was made of spun glass, liable to break at any moment. He’d made a big show of all the space he’d made for Yuuri’s things, an even bigger show of asking him if he wanted to sleep in the spare bedroom–as if they could even sleep in separate beds any more. Yuuri had yawned once, and he’d immediately pushed him to go to bed.
Yuuri still hadn’t been able to fall asleep, the occasional car horn or shout on the street waking him up every time he began to lapse into dreams. Victor told him that the sound of traffic outside will eventually become comforting, but Yuuri is still jet-lagged and culture-shocked. Most of his stuff is still in boxes, and the rest of it is heaped on the couch–“it’s okay, Yuuri,” Victor says, even though the place was clean when they arrived, “don’t let it bother you, take your time!”
Yuuri is in a strange place and his fiancé is acting strangely. He sighs.
“Hey Yuuri,” Victor calls from the front door. “I don’t want to rush you, but if we don’t leave soon, we’re going to be late!”
Since when does Victor not want to rush Yuuri? Yuuri’s nose wrinkles. “I thought we still had forty minutes. Isn’t the rink something like five minutes away?”
“It takes a while to get there,” Victor insists. “It’s not as close as it looks in Google Maps.”
“Apple Maps,” Yuuri corrects.
“There’s your problem,” Victor says cheerfully. “Apple Maps is crap in Russia. Definitely don’t use it.”
Yuuri’s glad to be here. He wants to share Victor’s life in St. Petersburg. Victor never complained about how different things were in Hasetsu–not once–and Yuuri wants to return the favor. But everything is different. The water tastes weird. The seagulls have a harsh accent. It is so cold that he wants to die. Apple Maps doesn’t work.
And his fiancé is acting like he’ll break at any moment.
Yuuri shoves these complaints aside. It’ll all work out. He’ll get used to it. Victor will get used to it. It’ll be fine. It was definitely not a mistake to move halfway around the world.
Ten minutes later, Yuuri’s donned trackpants, gloves, a heavy coat, and has somehow managed to find the box with green tea amongst his unsorted rubble in the living room. The hot water isn’t quite hot enough, but it’ll do.
He and Victor shoulder their gear and trudge down the stairs.
It’s Yuuri’s first time seeing St. Petersburg in sunlight, and it’s almost blinding. It’s a lot more crowded than Hasetsu. The sidewalk is filled with people; cars idle in front of them, waiting on a traffic signal up ahead. To the left, there’s a cathedral. To the right…
“Wait,” Yuuri says, “isn’t that the rink right there? Two blocks away?”
“Yeah, it’s farther away than it looks,” Victor says.
Yuuri is trying to figure out if he’s lost all sense of depth perception–maybe he really is that jet lagged? Maybe his notion of proportion is skewed by the Russian latitude?–when Victor stops.
“Purga!” he says to the Samoyed that is about to cross their path. “It’s been so long!”
“Ah, you’re back, Mr. Nikiforov,” says Purga’s owner.
Victor tugs the sleeve of Yuuri’s coat. “Yuuri,” he says, “this is Purga! I’ve known her since she was a puppy. She’s seven years old, looking quite young for her age, don’t you think? Purga, this is Yuuri Katsuki, my fiancé.”
It’s a good thing that Yuuri has studied Russian introductions. “Uh, hi.” Yuuri waves at the dog.
Purga is a giant ball of white fluff tipped with triangle ears and a giant pink tongue. Yuuri is pretty sure she’s laughing at him.
It turns out that it takes Victor Nikiforov twenty minutes to traverse two city blocks, and it’s all because of the dogs. He greets the dogs he recognizes by name–Zorkij, Lovkij, Buben, Azhur–and demands the names of the dogs he doesn’t know.
“Who is this?” he says just outside the rink. The elderly lady is holding a leash attached to what is possibly a ball of angry mange, or possibly the homeliest dog in the entirety of all Russia. One ear is tattered; his fur is patchy at best. A single canine pokes out from a drooping lip, and spittle gathers at the edge of the dog’s mouth. The dog fixes asymmetric, red eyes on Yuuri and lets off a low growl.
“Oh, this is my little Groznyi,” the woman responds. “He’s a rescue,” she adds, unnecessarily.
Victor bends down and gives Groznyi a gentle rub down his snout. Groznyi’s eyes slit shut, and when Victor rubs his haunch, his back leg kicks involuntarily.
“Groznyi! What a cutie!” Victor exclaims. “You’re a very good dog, Groznyi!”
Yuuri waits until they’re a few paces away. “You know,” he mutters, “if you call all the dogs cute, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Victor looks shocked. “Yuuri. They are all cute.”
“Groznyi is the ugliest dog I have–”
Victor gasps and claps a hand over Yuuri’s mouth. “Yuuri!” Yuuri hasn’t seen that disappointed a look in Victor’s eyes since he snubbed Minami last September. “Dogs have excellent auditory capabilities. What if Groznyi overheard you?”
Yuuri shakes his head. “Victor, I was speaking English.”
“He’s an old dog,” Victor says. “You never know what languages he might understand.” Victor folds his arms across his chest. He looks hurt, disappointed, and upset. They really are going to be late at this rate.
Yuuri looks up into his fiancé’s eyes. For the first moment since he’s arrived, he doesn’t feel homesick anymore. He’s wondered how to get Victor to stop walking on eggshells around him. Apparently, insulting a dog–any dog–will do it. This giant dork is precisely why he came to St. Petersburg.
“You’re right,” Yuuri says. “I’m sorry.”
Victor just continues to look at him.
“I’ll apologize to him when I see him tomorrow,” Yuuri says. “Do you think we should get Groznyi a sweater? He must be cold, with his fur…um…”
Victor breaks into a smile. “That’s an excellent idea!”
Victor takes Yuuri’s arm, and together they head into the rink.
Okay but just imagine Evan having the biggest crush on Connor and writing out ‘Evan Murphy’ everywhere, all over his books, likewise, Connor adores Evan and writes 'Connor Hansen’ on his jeans and wherever else he can and of course Jared and Zoe tease the heck out of both of them about it
For people saying Sanvers got engaged too quickly: my mum and dad got engages after 20 days of dating. DAYS. They’ve been happily married for 30 years now. If you ask them why it happened so fast, they’ll say they just knew. They knew from the first date that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. Sometimes you just know.