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“What do you think you’re DOING?!”

Yuri whipped around to face his partner. “GET OUT! YOU’RE WASTING MY TIME, YOU WORTHLESS KAKASHKA!” His partner stood dazed in frustration at the fiery Russian.


As his ex-partner grabbed his practice bag and shoved on his blade protectors, Yakov calmly walked over to where Yuri was leaning on the rink wall, arms folded. “Yuratchka, this is the fifth one this month. How am I supposed to coach a pair if only one person is willing to cooperate? I’ll just have to call some friends tonight, see if they know have any partner openings, as well…”

“WELL, GOOD!”, Yuri shrieked. “Hell, we might as well hold open partner tryouts for the famed Russian Fairy, with the guys you're bringing in,” he spat. “Didn’t you see how sloppy his sit spin was, and he nearly dropped me when we practiced the ending hip lift! And don’t even get me started on his attempt at a lateral twi- ”


Yuri seemed to cool down at his hot-headed coach’s unabashed remark. He couldn’t meet Yakov’s eyes and turned away, face hot.

“Do I make myself clear?” The blond nodded, still avoiding his coach’s blazing eyes. “LOOK AT ME!”

Yuri’s head shot up. “Yessir,” he said timidly. An unsolicited silence invoked the two Russians.

“Um okay, I’ll just go…check my music- or something…yeah. Get ready for the game tonight- or…yeah, o-okay.” He backed away from his fuming coach and skated over to the exit, pulled off his skates, and ran as far away as he could.

- - -

The roar of the fans seemed to be heard for miles, or at least that’s what Otabek Altin thought in the locker room where they had been waiting for the past half hour.

“Tonight’s game is really important, boys.” Their manager had explained that the fans, from both their team and their rivals, had sold out the game and the ticket collectors needed extra time to get them into the 100,000-seat indoor arena.

The Russian National team had been the Kazakh team’s biggest rival for what seemed like forever; their games were always heated. Since they were the visiting team, they expected the boos and jeers even more so. The short, but muscular captain stood along with the rest of his team as he led them out through the tunnel and onto the ice for warmups.


Yuri ran through the crowd of screaming fans. This was definitely one of the reasons he preferred figure skating over hockey. At least his fans knew how to control themselves.

Yuri actually hated hockey, the only reason he suffered through these games were because of the season box tickets his grandfather had bought for the two of them. The old man, Nikolai, had raised Yuri as his own since he could remember. Growing up, he’d had the occasional drunk visit from his mother, screaming that she wanted him back, but he had never met his father. Not that he actually cared to.

He adjusted his cat sweater, slipped the all-access pass over his neck, and opened the glass door of the box.

The game hadn’t started yet but both teams were on the ice, warming up in an annoying goal-scoring rotation that made Yuri yawn.

“Yuratchka!” The blond turned around and felt his grandfather’s large hand ruffle his shoulder-length hair.

“Hey dedushka.” He turned around to hug the old man around his middle. Once Yuri let go he asked, “Soo, who are the zjelobs we’re playing today?” The greying man shot his grandson a threatening look but Yuri looked expectantly in the other direction. “The Kazakhs. I heard their new captain is quite a force to be reckoned with on the ice.”

“Yeah right, I’d whoop his sraka any fucking day,” Yuri muttered under his breath, ensuring the protection of his grandfather’s precious Orthodox ears.

“What number is he?” His grandfather answered, pointing out to the ice. “Nine, he was originally two but for some reason the Kazakhs must have some superstition about demoting their captain’s number because it’s happened before.”

Yuri rolled his eyes at his dedushka’s annoyingly overwhelming knowledge of the stupid game. His grandfather was the one to push him (literally and figuratively) to skate. He remembered his dedushka waking him up early on Saturdays to the smell of freshly baked pirozhkis, and going out to the frozen pond behind his childhood home to skate. “Yuratchka?”

Yuri looked over to the old man. “Oh sorry. What did you say?” Nikolai chuckled. “Would you like to sit down? These box seats are being wasted if we don’t.” Yuri nodded, blushing.

They took their seats in front of the large glass window, looking down over the large rink. The overhead lights dimmed and all of a sudden, the deep-voiced Russian announcer belted out the players’ names as they rushed out onto the ice. As the players skated around the rink, lasers and lights flashed along to the blaring music of an unfamiliar pop song. After a while, the players skated towards the middle to shake their opponent’s hands, signaling the beginning of the game.


As a respectful captain should, Otabek was the last of his team to shake hands. He skated back over to his team and removed his helmet for Russia’s wordless anthem. When the song ended, he shoved his helmet back on and sped to the center of the rink. He intimidatingly slammed his stick on the ice a few times and stared down the Russian center.


The whistle signaled the beginning of the race between the two centers. The Kazakh’s quick reflexes easily won him the puck. He rushed across the ice, carefully dodging the opposing players. He raced around the goal to observe where his closest teammates were. He was so focused; he hadn’t noticed he was right in front of the goal. Otabek nearly tripped when the goalie stuck out his padded leg to defend his goal. The Russian shot him a nasty glare that, if translated into words, would’ve caused every parent in the arena to lean over and cover their children’s ears.

Skating away from the goal, he finally managed to spot an open teammate and shot the puck in their direction. Otabek zoomed towards his mark, the other center on the ice, but wasn’t too careful in breaking with his skates as he approached the Russian. The opposing center quickly turned around, not seeing Otabek and collided into him, knocking off the Kazakh captain’s helmet, his head smashing into the ice.