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Hiding in Plain Sight

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'After the Grand Prix Final, let's end this,' were the words that kept going through Victor Nikiforov’s head again and again. He couldn’t believe Yuri would be so selfish as to end their partnership when things were just getting good. The coach couldn’t stop pacing after Yuri left their hotel room a half hour earlier mumbling about needing some air. A barrage of thoughts swam through the Russian skater’s head.

Was Yuri getting nervous at their closeness?

Did he do something to push Yuri away?

Was his aloofness getting annoying?

Did Yuri want another coach?

Did Yuri sense something was off?

Worse yet, did Yuri know something he shouldn’t?

Victor was starting to get a headache behind his eyes just thinking of it all. Tired of the obsessive thoughts, he grabbed his cell phone to see when Yuri would be back so they could talk. As soon as he picked up the phone, it started ringing. “Perfect timing,” Victor thought as he glanced at the screen.

“Oh, it’s just Yakov.” The man sounded thoroughly disappointed.

Victor unlocked the phone and put it to his ear. “здравствуйте, Yakov.”

“Vitya, meet me down in the alley behind the hotel. I need to talk to you, now.” Yakov sounded irritated. It was evident that the gold medalist was being given an order and not a request. His former coach didn’t wait for a response and hung up immediately after speaking.

Victor yawned and put his clothes back on, faster than normal since he didn’t feel like getting bitched at by a sour Yakov. It didn’t take long for him to get to the alleyway since he was on ground floor level. The sleepy man looked to the left and right, finally spotting the older man leaning against the far corner of the building in the shadows.

Vitya walked over to the man, preparing himself to get yelled at for something.

“Yakov, what is so important that I needed to come out here? It’s freezing!” Victor said with a slight frown.

“Vitya, I’m calling it off. The kid knows something is up. My sources say he’s been acting oddly, never wanting you to take your eyes off him, and wanting to get closer to you. It’s dangerous for you, for all of us. So, I’m stopping the operation.

The five-time gold medalist was shocked at the sudden halt of the mission. “So, you want me just to walk away? You want me just to disappear like we never met?” The man’s voice cracked a little more than he wanted.

Yakov moved closer to his ex-pupil and put his hand on the other’s shoulder. “Vitya, it’s over. You know what you have to do. If he knows who you are, then there is no use to continue.”

Victor was silent and staring down at his feet.

“Here,” Yakov held out his hand with a large black object in it. “Take it.”

The tall coach looked weary as he stared at the black 9mm pistol in the other’s hand. With slight hesitation, he took it and put it in his back waistband.

“We got that little Yakuza prick tied up in a warehouse outside of town. Nabbed him while he was jogging just a bit ago.“ Yakov laughed a gruff laugh.

Victor just stood there in silence. Yakov was already irritated, so he gave his prior student instructions that he’d never forget.

“Since you did all the recon work on this one, I’m letting you take the shot. I want that bastard Yuri Katsuki dead by tomorrow night. I don’t care how you do it. Torture the Yakuza for all I care. Just make sure he’s dead. Don’t worry about the body; we’ll take care of it.”

“Yes—yes, sir,” Victor stammered.

Yakov pulled out an envelope with large bills sticking out of the top. “Take this; it is more than what you were originally told for this assignment since you had to do more delicate work this time.” The older man wrinkled his nose as his suggestion. The thought of his brother in arms having to possibly bed another man for intel honestly made him sick to his stomach.

“But, we don’t even know for sure he’s a Yakuza plant,” Victor questioned.

“Doesn’t matter. We can’t take the chance. He dies tomorrow. You’ve done half your job, now get the hell out of here and do the other half.”

"Yakov, aren't you overreacting? If Katsuki were a mafia sleeper like me, he would have killed me one of the times we shared a hotel room!" Victor pleaded.

"Vitya, if that were true and he was just like you, then, of course, he wouldn't have killed you— because you haven’t had the balls to kill him yet either!”

A sigh escaped the younger man’s lips as he rubbed his temples harshly.

"Don't sigh at me dammit. Do your job and take out that Jap! You've been under cover for way too long, freaking enjoying yourself and become a star..."

"I understand, but what if you’re wrong? Yuri hasn't let anything slip if he's a sleeper. He seems so innocent and sweet. All he wants to do is win and make me proud!"

Yakov pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head like he was listening to a complete moron. "You are just as air-headed as you make yourself out to be! He seems innocent!? Look at yourself! Everyone thinks you are just a charming gold-winning figure skater, but I know what you really are— you are an undercover killer for the Bratva. And a very skilled one at that, or at least you used to be."

Victor paced up and down the ally with Yakov staring daggers at him. The man knew what he had to do, disobeying was not an option—you don’t turn your back on an order given from a higher ranking brother, period. After what seemed like hours, yet was only minutes, the world champion acquiesced and agreed to drive out to the meeting spot to put an end to the coaching/student charade that had lasted over eight months.

Upon arriving at the location, the skater just sat in the car and stared at the dilapidated industrial structure in front of him. It was a vacant business park on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia. Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, the coach stalled for time. He quietly talked to himself as the drumming became more erratic.

“Yuri should never have come to Russia with me alone. God, he’s too trusting! Honestly, I’m terrified I’m about to make a mistake and murder a complete innocent. Killing innocents is not what I signed up for.” A shaky hand combed through his gorgeous silky locks, only pushing them out of his face for a moment before falling back down. “If they’re wrong, Yuri I am so sorry—I don’t deserve your forgiveness and will regret your death as long as I live. But if they are right—well, I guess I'll thoroughly enjoy your blood on my hands as I smile down upon your dying form. At least, that is what I will tell myself until I believe it.”

Shaking hands took the pistol that was laying on the passenger seat, and with one last look at himself in the reflection of the window, he stepped out of the car. Tucking the gun in his back again, the man marched directly toward the two men guarding the warehouse with a pained but determined expression. The expression was hardened and devoid of the once gentleness that graced his face almost every day since he’d been with Yuri Katsuki, the same Katsuki that his brothers swore was the enemy.

Victor steeled himself as he grew closer to the guarded door. This was it; he was going to end the life of the man he’d come to know and like. There was no turning back now.