Life had been on standstill for Viktor for two years. For appearances sake, he kept up with the day-to-day drudgery required of being an international figure-skating celebrity. However, it had been two years since he last did anything genuinely. If it were up to him, he wouldn’t have made each interview, skated competitively, or even bothered with the outside world. Because for Viktor Nikiforov, now seven time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, none of it mattered.
His world had ended two years ago. Every day was the same. He would try to forget the emotion, the pain he felt from the moment his life had changed.
-Two Years Ago, St. Petersburg-
Life couldn’t have been more perfect. After one season of absence, Viktor had announced his return to the competitive figure skating world. He accepted the challenges of both training for the upcoming season and acting as a coach. If anyone could pull it off, it would be Viktor Nikiforov.
The feat sounded impossible, even to those who knew him best.
What people didn’t know was that Viktor had the best and easiest student to work with. He rarely had to correct Yuuri Katsuki’s programs when it came to spins and artistic elements. The movements seemed to flow naturally. They still trained hard though, working on jumps and interpretation. Sometimes Yuuri’s nerves kept him from channeling the right emotion as they worked through the movement.
Viktor was the opposite. He didn’t have to work on his jumps as hard and interpretation, but needed to refine his spins and artistic elements. Together, they made a great team and often gave each other pointers on their programs. It was always received well because they had a level of trust in their relationship—both professional and personal.
Because Viktor and Yuuri were more than just a coach and student, rink mates, and competitors: they were soul mates. They couldn’t stand to be separated for more than a few hours. It was nauseating to some—especially Yuri Plisetsky. But in their world, everything was perfect.
He sighed happily. He knew his soul mate was watching him from outside the ice. Viktor’s time with Yuuri was split, something that was unavoidable given the number of professional skaters they shared a rink with in addition to their own training. He warmed up slowly, knowing that no matter how much he would love to show off, it wasn’t a good idea to push his body.
After all, he was just returning to the competitive field after being away for so long. The only reason he had been able to get away with it was because he was Viktor Nikiforov, Russia’s hero. Everyone was willing to bend over backwards to make him happy. He knew when to take advantage of that. This was one of those cases.
Both Yuri’s were now side by side and talking quietly amongst themselves. As much as the younger Yuri said he hated the older one, the two of them had a lot of casual conversations that didn’t involve heads being bitten off. His beautiful Yuuri seemed to be the only one at the rink who could get complete non-profanity filled sentences out of the Ice Tiger of Russia.
His smile when he saw the two of them interacting grew. “Stop looking at your fiancé, Vitya.”
Viktor turned to the person who had addressed him: Yakov. He offered a disarming smile.
“Can’t help it. He’s so wonderful.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. He’s the light of your life. Now start going through your choreography or I’m going to give your time to someone else.”
Viktor complied, knowing that it wasn’t an empty threat. Despite wanting to spend all day with his fiancé, he had to work. There would be time for them later. He already had some ideas of what they could do after practice.
-Present Day, St. Petersburg-
Viktor laced up his skates while listening to music. It eased the anxiety he felt whenever he came to practice. But the fear inside of him never fully went away. No one two years ago would have believed that Viktor Nikiforov would suffer from anxiety. After all, it was his student who was best known for breaking down while skating while he exuded confidence.
How quickly things changed.
He pulled out the headphones and put them in his bag. Viktor tugged on a pair of black gloves and headed out to the ice to begin warming up. Excluding the numerous security guards, only three other people were at the rink at this hour. The first was Yakov, who had already put in two hours with another skater by the time Viktor arrived. Georgi was cooling down from his training and Mila had just arrived to begin her warm-ups.
He did a few laps around the rink in silence. It was unnerving, but routine by now. Instead of Georgi and Mila, both his Yuuri and Yurio would have been there with him. But this was a different time. Those were supposed to be distant memories.
But they weren’t. They would always be at the surface.
“Start going through your short program,” Yakov called. His voice wasn’t nearly as harsh as it used to be. This was more of a request rather than a firm command. Mila joked this was because Yurio was no longer spreading his teenage angst around the rink. But they all knew it was more than that. They never talked about it though. Viktor still complied.
It was in the middle of his third run through of his short program when Yakov’s phone went off. Viktor snapped out of practice mode. His coach never allowed phones during practice. No one had broken that rule since Yurio.
More memories that shouldn’t be bubbling to the surface, but he couldn’t help it. Victor had been off for the past the past month and everyone knew why. Still, they ignored the problem. Not that he minded. If he talked about it, he might break. More than he had already.
Yakov pulled out the device and stared at the number. Viktor didn’t miss the older man’s shock or the clenching around the phone.
“Keep working. I’ll be back shortly.”
It was even stranger the other had left the area. He did his best to ignore his growing anxiety, but something was wrong. Viktor tried to skate his short program from the top, but knew he was off. After missing his opening jump combination, he restarted the music and tried again.
Again. Again. Again.
“Viktor,” someone called. He couldn’t tell who it was though. Everything was wrong and he couldn’t do anything to stop it from feeling that way. Viktor took off into his quad-triple combination, but it was off.
He, predictably, fell on his attempt. It was only then that he realized how heavily he was breathing, how much sweat was pouring off his face, how exhausted he felt. Someone had tried to warn him before his fall. It was too little, too late.
Just like it was then.
“Viktor,” that same person called again. He recognized the voice as Mila’s. She had skated out to him, offering a hand that he could grab on to. He accepted and was led off the ice.
“Thanks,” he panted. Viktor wiped the sweat off his face with a towel that Georgi offered him. He then took the water bottle and drank all its contents.
“Are you all right?” Georgi asked quietly.
“Yes.” It came out harsher than he meant. He could tell neither of them believed him, but they kept their opinions to themselves.
“Viktor,” Mila started. He didn’t want to hear their pity. If he wanted that, he could find any person on the street. “Your left leg is slipping into the inside edge just a few seconds before you take off. So you’re originally positioned for a lutz, but trying to go into a flip without the three turn.”
“Are you...correcting my skating?” he asked, looking at her face properly. She didn’t look at him with pity. A proud smirk stretched on her face.
“Well, as amusing as it was to watch you fall on your ass,” she started, grin getting wider with each word, “It wouldn’t do you any good to have kept trying.” She had resorted to thoughtful and caring.
Mila stood at the entrance of the ice. She positioned herself awkwardly. “This is what you look like when you take off.” Mila then shifted into a new position. “And this is how you look when you land.”
Viktor could see it very well. He landed on the wrong edge of his skate. Which messed up his take off for the triple. No wonder he had fallen so many times.
“Good thing Yakov didn’t see that,” he muttered.
“I almost wish he had,” Georgi said playfully. He pouted at Georgi’s words. “It’s been too long since Viktor Nikiforov had to do basics.”
Whenever a skater kept getting stuck on an element, Yakov would make them run through level one skills until they perfected them. Then they would be allowed to practice the next skill level. It was an exercise that took all week to complete, if Yakov was feeling generous.
Viktor went back on the ice and played his music one more time. When his opening combination came, he worked hard to keep his leg on the outside edge before taking off into the air. He landed it, though shakily so he made the next jump a double.
It wasn’t perfect, but at least he hadn’t fallen this time.
The rest of his program flowed better than the first half. His jumps were shaky at best. If someone had said Viktor Nikiforov wouldn’t be confident in his jumps now, they would have laughed.
Now, they would suck in their breath and hope he made it. He looked like a shadow of his former self in terms of skating. But he could still win. That was all that mattered to his sponsors, to the Skater’s Federation. Victor Nikiforov was still useful.
He could still win competitions.
Every one just pushed him closer to his next breaking point.
-Present Day, Unknown-
Yuri Plisetsky knew they had a limited amount of time to make his plan work. It had taken him months to figure out this idea and now was the only time he would be able to go through with it. The clock turned to 11:56.
Time for the shift change.
Yuri gathered the heavy bundle across from his cot. He pulled it close to his body, knowing he had to protect it at all costs or else this attempt wouldn’t be worth it.
It took him thirty seconds to adjust for the new weight and make sure he had an arm on both objects secured underneath the ragged blankets. Yuri spent just five seconds walking across the room and ten to open the door and walk out of the miserable place he had been in for god knows how long.
A quick glance around the area showed no one in the immediate vicinity so he executed the remaining part of his plan: to run like hell.
Yuri knew the next guard would inspect his place at exactly midnight. He had three minutes to put as much distance as he could between this place and his next destination. Not that he had a specific place in mind—just something other than this hellhole. He hadn’t been able to explore much given the time constraints. But he knew of one place they could slip through.
It was just on the other side of the giant complex.
Two years ago, his escape plan would’ve been an easier feat. Back then, he had regular access to food, water, and training facilities to help his endurance.
Now, he was too thin and had given his last meal to another person. They needed it more, Yuri reasoned. And they did. He argued that he would be fine without the food. Which, in retrospect, was not his smartest decision.
But he hadn’t anticipated the guards skipping a meal. So it had been two days since he last ate. He tried not to breathe too loudly, knowing there were still patrols around.
The longer he could go undetected, the higher chance he would have of getting out of there. Alarms started blaring. A curse slipped from his mouth. Just a little bit longer before they were outside the compound. One of the objects in his arms started to move.
“Stay still,” he growled quietly.
The object stilled. He didn’t know which one he had spoken to, but was glad they responded all the same.
Yuri kept going forward, knowing that if he didn’t get on the other side of the compound, going back would mean a much crueler reality than the one they had been facing.
He couldn’t put them through that again. Yuri had promised. And he kept his promises.
Yuri was panting heavily now. His legs had a familiar burn.
Just a little bit more.
One of the objects started moving again. He could feel everything in his body burning, aching. Behind him, he could hear voices shouting to search everywhere for him.
He slipped them through a broken fence that separated them from the rest of the world. Yuri kept going. Every time he met a dead end, he turned around and went a new direction. Every second mattered and each time Yuri found himself facing another concrete wall, it meant those chasing him would be one step closer to recapturing him.
His body was on high alert, listening to the sounds of chaos behind him. Soon, they were growing quieter. Yuri didn’t honestly know if this meant he was getting closer to safety or if they were soon going to be able to take him back to the compound.
Either way, he couldn’t stop his pace—no matter what his body was demanding. He was out of breath, that much was obvious. Yuri tried to keep his breathing steady so they wouldn’t be able to hear him, but it was too much to concentrate on. His arms ached from carrying the two objects in his arms.
One of them kept moving and shifting. A couple of times, he thought he would lose it, but they stayed. Yuri wanted to scold the object again, but had other things to focus on.
Like not passing out before he was able to get to safety. Or not dropping the objects he was carrying.
Soon, the sounds of the compound had faded away. There was silence as he ran through uneven terrain. Darkness heavily covered the area. But Yuri kept going. No matter how much he wanted to stop, there would never be enough distance. Ahead, he could see dim lights. As they got closer, new sounds could be heard. He could make out talking, music, and the sound of traffic.
These sounds were different than what he was used to. It sounded normal. He didn’t get his hopes up though, they could still be far away from safety for all Yuri knew and he wasn’t about to plunge them into a trap.
Yuri kept to the darkness, hoping it would provide enough cover for them to slip past this area undetected. He approached several newer buildings. The uneven surface turned into a paved one. All signs of anything similar to the compound were gone and replaced with normalcy.
He still didn’t trust the area and only once did he dare to look in the direction of the normal noises. Yuri saw the bustle of a city. He knew he was close to one based on those who visited the compound, but he never knew where he was.
Cyrillic lettering adorned the outside of buildings. That told him nothing. There were several countries that used the language. Yuri assumed that he had still been in Russia because of the familiar weather patterns, but he could always be wrong.
One of his legs gave out beneath him, causing him to lose his balance. Without the grace he had from two years ago, Yuri found himself falling to the ground. He shifted his body so the objects he was carrying wouldn’t hit the hard surface beneath them.
Soon, small cries echoed in the area.
Frustrated, he pulled back the ragged blanket covering one of his objects. It was stained dark brown in several spots. Yuri reached down to touch the messy black hair of a small child. The action startled the kid and had the opposite effect he wanted. The child started crying louder.
“Nika,” he panted. The child focused on him, eyes still watery. “Everything’s all right.”
He pulled the child closer to his neck, trying to soothe the child while catching his breath. Yuri couldn’t allow himself to rest too long. He had to get them to safety still. At least, that’s what his mind kept repeating. His body refused to cooperate.
Maybe it won’t hurt to rest for a bit.
When Yuri wakes up, he knows something was wrong. There’s no child holding on to his neck. There’s no extra weight on the rest of his body either. And there’s a smell that’s not familiar to him. It’s one of cleanliness. The sounds around him come in steady beeps. He knows what this place is. It’s a hospital.
His eyes scan his surroundings. The feeling of unease is becoming more pronounced with every second that passes.
Were they safe? Who owns the hospital?
Yuri isn’t going to wait to find out. He swings his legs over the edge of the bed and gets ready to stand up when a nurse comes in.
“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked gently before guiding him back underneath the covers. He resists the motion, but her grip is firm. He can feel his chest hammering loudly. There’s not enough air suddenly. This isn’t good.
He hadn’t escaped.
There will be punishments for his disobedience. He had promised to get them to safety. Yuri had failed.
“Nika,” he managed to get out in his panic-driven mind. Tears start rolling down his face. “Don’t hurt Nika.”
Yuri could handle anything else they threw at him. But he would never forgive himself if they laid a hand on that child again because of him. It was their ultimate weapon against him. He hoped and prayed they wouldn’t be that cruel this time.
“Who’s Nika?” she inquired.
His breathing grew harsher, black spots filling his vision.
I’m sorry. I messed up. I’m sorry.
Yuri kept repeating the same phrases in his head until he passed out.