A very long time ago, before Yuri's birth, Nikolai fell in love with his neighbor and her boyfriend.
Back then, he had been strong and tall, with no back pain or history of slipped disks. No grey hairs. Or even a mustache or a beard. He had been only a young boy himself.
He had known Lilia since they were children, often left together for playdates without supervision as there were no day-care centres, running through the snow together, screaming with laughter and holding mittened hands.
She was — is — beautiful, with smoky-dark hair and eyes like the mythic glow of spring that never truly reached the heart of Russia.
Lilia knew she wanted to be a prima ballerina from the very start, training her mind and body.
"Let's get married, when we're older," she told him in a hurried, excited whisper. Lilia's rosy fingers searched his, as both of them bathed in firelight. "I'll graduate to the Bolshoi Ballet, and you'll come see me every day, won't you?"
"I will," Nikolai promised her, rubbing her hand between his and bringing her knuckles to his lips. Their smiles lovesick as teenagers.
He remembered making love to her then, on the decorative rug, apprehensive and cautious, savoring every lingering touch. Lilia called him a gentle man. Suppose that was true.
However, reality wasn't so kind to love.
Nikolai's father died of alcohol poisoning when he was six, and his mother cared little for where Nikolai went, drowning herself in her grief. When she lost her full-time job for consistent absence, becoming chronically ill, he decided to move with her outside of Moscow. It had been easier to find work, and her health improved.
He said goodbye to Lilia, his spirits dashed. She had been seventeen, and him fifteen. Lilia had been beautiful in her sorrow, tears glittering on her cheeks before she fled down the road.
Three years later, his mother passed. Nikolai returned home to Moscow, his shoulders weighed by his burdens and his own grief.
To his amazement, Lilia greeted him with a murmur, hugging him tightly and slowly grinning into his neck. Her smoky-dark hair pinned against her skull, not a strand out of place.
A man stood beside her, eyeing them with a sort of quiet but subdued interest.
"This is Yakov Feltsman," Lilia introduced, stepping back so the men could formally shake hands. Nikolai remembered the cloud-softness of Yakov's amber brown curls, and when those blue-green eyes when they had been less stern.
Nikolai eyed the older man back, features smiling openly.
"Nice scarf," he said, watching in undisguised amusement as Yakov blushed, fiddling with the sapphire-colored fabric. It was where everything began, he thought. All three of them roomed together, to save money, to share good memories and build new ones.
The best ones were the noises of beer bottles, laughter and music being played in the den.
A naked Lilia wrapped in her knitted, juniper-green shawl — she danced and swayed along to the beat, humming cheerfully, kissing Yakov, kissing Nikolai, kissing her reflection in the mirror, smearing her cheap, greasy makeup.
Nothing seemed to change between Nikolai and Lilia, the romance spark growing hotter, accompanied by scorching kisses and moans, their bodies magnetized in the darkness.
But her and her boyfriend, she had not been shy about possessing Yakov, tending to have wild, rough sex on countertops and armchairs, especially in the middle of the day. Nikolai found himself unbothered by this, sipping his coffee, watching out of the corner of his eye from the kitchen, silently appreciative of Yakov's hard-earned muscles from a career of skating.
Watching each other became a regular event. Even Lilia could enjoy herself — splayed out, fondling her clitoris, listening to Yakov's filthy words and grunts, as he drove his hips up against Nikolai, grinding hard into his ass.
Maybe the sex had been part of the unbearable tension, until it overflowed.
"I'm getting married," Lilia whispered, as if fearfully, her tiny breasts pressing insistently on Nikolai's bicep.
But not to him.
This time, he fled — packing his things and taking what little money he had with him. Time sapped him of his strength, grayed him. Much later, Nikolai met a blonde, pregnant orphan in Briket, adopting her and helping her raise Yuri.
In a way, Nikolai's story aligned with theirs: A discovery. A pregnancy. A loss. A return.
With fame being no shield, the public had been made aware of the famous Lilia Baranovskaya and Yakov Feltsman's divorce.
Nikolai heard about it as soon as he returned to Moscow a second time.
No one greeted him.
It never mattered. He had Yuri and his daughter. Yuri loved skating, ever since he first stepped onto the ice. Nikolai was almost surprised that Yakov had been willing to coach him, or maybe he had forgotten Nikolai's last name entirely.
Nikolai felt like a terrible grandfather for missing Yuri's performances… but he couldn't face…
Not after all this, longing for the past, lovesick.
He purposely stayed away from the stadiums, where both of Yuri's coaches would likely be, glimpsing the live televised events and picking up his grandson afterwards, rushing off.
When Yuri made it to the Worlds for his age bracket, Nikolai could no longer be a coward.
Yakov greeted him politely in an entranceway, not smiling but not unfriendly. "Nice scarf," he muttered, eyeing him when Nikolai glanced down at his own earthy brown one tucked in.
Nikolai's lips twitched upwards.
"You too," he said, glancing towards a shellshocked Lilia, who suddenly embraced him tightly, crying out a muffled noise to his jacket. Nikolai stiffened, unable to hug her back. "I should… find Yurochka before…"
He pulled away to turn, out of Lilia's reach, confusion and want roaring inside him.
It's like a wash of heat, summoned to life by the affectionate, softly spoken nickname, dangling off of Yakov's lips.
"Have dinner with us at Lilia's address," Yakov spoke up once more. His expression far less severe than his recent pictures, his wrinkles loosening. "Bring Yuri. He knows where it is."
There was only an answering nod.
Nikolai showed up alone to the house that evening, having left Yuri with his new friend Otabek, carrying in two wine bottles.
Lilia is the only one who can still dance, humming and swaying on her tiptoes, nuzzling and kissing Nikolai's cheek. She smells like Yakov's cooking and like a rosy, dark perfume.
None of them are as spry as before, but Yakov can still summon Nikolai's arousal with one raspy note, his teeth biting down lightly on Nikolai's upper lip, biting, licking. He and Lilia kiss him so eagerly until it feels like tears burn to be shed behind Nikolai's eyelids.
Maybe it's only a forgetful happiness for now.
He'll take it.
Yuri on Ice isn't mine. Guess what... it's been TWENTY WEEKS since we started this, everybody! YOI WEDNESDAYS! It's been going on since the first Wednesday we didn't have a new YOI episode, and I'm kinda proud that it's gotten this far! :D I hope everyone's been having a good time too, and yeah, thank you! I ended up nabbing the prompt "Yakov/Nikolai/Lilia + any rating, polyamory" off the YOI Kink Meme and aaaaah I kinda love this OT3 now!