The city looks beautiful tonight, Viktor thinks as he makes his way along the edge of the river, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his coat. He looks up at the overcast sky, flakes of snow falling silent and gentle overhead, blanketing the streets in white.
It's the quiet he loves the most. The way the normally busy sounds of so much life become suddenly so muted and soft. As if the entire world has gone to sleep.
Compared to the hectic bustle of his and Yuuri's day to day life, especially these last couple of weeks, it was really nice, just to experience some true peace and quiet.
Viktor smiles to himself.
They'd been apart the last two weeks, each assigned different competitions on opposite sides of the world. Each of them had brought home gold.
Viktor had told Yuuri before leaving for Nationals that he wasn't going to go easy on him, despite being his coach and wishing him the best of luck, and he'd driven that message home by not only besting Yurio, but smashing the world record both him and his Yuuri had set in the short and free programs last season, improving his own, overall combined record by almost three points.
Yuuri had been over the moon, but had promptly threatened that he was coming for those same records during the next competition. One in which he and Viktor would be facing off against each other, of course. At the Olympics. Viktor had gladly accepted the challenge.
The truth was, Viktor was beyond proud of Yuuri. Truly. He'd been sweeping all his competitions this season, and performing with incredible confidence. If anyone was going to take back the records he'd most recently set, Viktor thinks, it was going to be his boyfriend.
He'd always known Yuuri had it in him to be this great. It had only been a matter of getting him to believe it himself.
They'd finally arrived back home in St. Petersburg just a couple of hours ago, and of course Viktor had wanted to celebrate. There hadn't been much in the way of food at their apartment though, and so they'd made a plan. Both had felt too exhausted to really go out to eat, and so Yuuri would order in from a restaurant of his choosing, and Viktor would venture out to pick up a bottle of white wine.
It was late, but this was Russia. There were plenty of liquor stores still open.
Yuuri, as was typical, had protested Viktor going out so late by himself. He always worried so much, but Viktor had assured him there was nothing to worry about. There was a liquor store less than 20 minutes walk from their place. They lived in a safe area. He would be back before the food had even arrived, probably.
He's the only one in the shop, other than the attendant, and when he finally exits back out onto the street, bottle of wine in hand, he notices how similarly empty it is. Glancing down at his watch, he sees it's just past midnight. So no surprise. Everyone's gone home.
Viktor realizes he's meandered a bit, taking longer than he should have in the liquor store, and so he pulls out his phone, sending a quick text to Yuuri to let him know he was on his way back. Yurri responds immediately, telling him the food had just arrived a moment ago, so he should hurry before it gets cold.
Viktor tells him okay, slipping the phone back into his pocket before beginning to walk.
It had gotten colder in the time he'd been in the shop, and he pulls his coat tighter around himself, picking up his pace, wanting suddenly to just be home with Yuuri and have a nice, relaxed evening with him.
He's about halfway back when he looks up from the snow covered ground to see a man walking towards him.
Even from about 20 meters away, Viktor can see he's a big man. Tall and broad shouldered, with a shambling kind of gate. Though he supposes it could be the man's clothes that make him appear so bulky, given their loose, worn appearance.
A vague knot of apprehension worms its way into Viktor's gut as he and the man draw nearer to each other, and Viktor scolds himself internally for his sudden paranoia.
It wasn't without reason, though. He's reminded of that fact courtesy his own memories. Mocking laughter, ugly words and grabbing, clubbing hands meant to hurt.
It was something he still hadn't told Yuuri about. Something he wasn't sure he ever wanted to.
This was Russia, and it wasn't any sort of secret, nor had it been in a long time, what Viktor was. Everyone knew. There were those that took exception to it. Those who had, during Viktor's youth and early 20s, let him know of their disapproval of his lifestyle in varying, sometimes violent ways.
Viktor had been beaten up more times than he really wished to recall.
He'd tried, still, not to let that reality sour his interactions with people. Most people were kind and friendly. He knows that. He didn't want to tense up like this every time he was alone and came across someone who looked to him odd.
The man isn't even looking at him though, and Viktor doesn't realize he's holding his breath until he and the man move past one another without incident.
The man really had been big. Taller even than himself, and Viktor hadn't failed to notice his thick, strong looking hands. Like a laborers hands.
It was silly. And unkind, besides, for Viktor to feel fearful simply due to the man's appearance, a touch of guilt building up at the realization.
He puts his head down, quickening his stride, wanting more urgently still to get home.
Viktor stops at the sound of his name being called, not far behind him, and he turns, seeing the man from before standing there, staring back at him.
Viktor can feel his heart beat hard for a moment, the same feeling of apprehension returning, before he forces it back down, turning fully to face the man.
“Yes?” He makes himself answer.
He was well known in Russia, after all. All over the world, really. It wasn't unusual for anyone to know who he was.
The man smiles at him, seeming genuinely pleased, and Viktor can feel some of the anxiety go out of him.
“Man, I thought it was you!” The man starts, taking a step closer. “I can't believe it! You've been a hero of mine since forever!”
And with that, the anxiety vanishes completely. A fan.
Viktor smiles back, stepping toward the man and holding a hand out.
“A pleasure to meet you, Sir.” He greets.
The man reaches out, taking his hand, and his grip is painful as he squeezes back, keeping his eyes on Viktor.
“Wow, I can't believe I'm actually getting to meet the Viktor Nikiforov!” He goes on excitedly, still gripping Viktor's hand.
Viktor continues smiling back, even as he wishes the man would let his hand go.
He does, just as Viktor is beginning to feel uneasy again.
The man continues to stare at him, his eyes, Viktor notices, almost unsettling in their scrutiny, and it's a struggle not to look away.
“Hey, uh, I hate to ask, but... do you think I could get an autograph? So people know I met you?”
Again Viktor smiles.
“Of course.” He nods. “But, I'm afraid I don't have anything to sign with.”
“It's fine. I've got a pen. Here, you can sign the cover of this.”
The man produces a ballpoint pen and a magazine from out his coat's inside pocket, and Viktor notices immediately the picture of him and Yuuri on the magazine's cover. A shot taken of them from a couple of months ago at one of the circuit competitions. Yuuri has his arm around Viktor's waist, both their heads leaned together as they smile for the camera.
It strikes Viktor as odd that the man would just happen to be carrying around a magazine with a picture of the two of them on the cover, given his seeming surprise at meeting Viktor just now.
Though he did say he was a long time fan, so... and he and Yurri were in the media a lot now, given the season start. Maybe it wasn't so strange.
He takes the pen and magazine from the man. He can feel his smile growing tight, thinking about wanting to get back to the apartment already. Get back to Yurri.
“Of course.” He tells the man. “Who should I make it out to?”
“Hmmm...” the man hums, seeming to think for a moment. Viktor uncaps the pen, poised over the magazine to write whatever the man requests. “How about... 'To my favorite little faggot, Viktor Nikiforov?'.”
Viktor feels his stomach lurch.
He looks up at the man, and sees the smile vanished from his face, replaced by a look of naked disdain.
He blinks, and for a moment, it's as if his tongue won't work, shock keeping his voice down.
“... What?” He finally manages.
“You heard me, faggot.” The man says.
He motions forward, and Viktor instantly steps back, his heart hammering viciously now in his chest.
He feels his throat close up with fear. This man means to hurt him. Of course. He'd seen that look, heard those words enough times to know. It did nothing to lessen the pain of it, sharp and stunning still.
For a moment, he can't think what to do.
“... I'm sorry.” He at last stammers out, shaking his head. He begins handing the pen and magazine back to the man, his hands, he realizes, shaking. “I need to be going.”
The man doesn't take his eyes off of him, and twisted smirk pulling at his lips.
“Where do you think you're going to go?” He asks. “I ain't done with you.”
Viktor drops the magazine and pen to the ground.
He needs to run.
The man was strong, but Viktor was in immense condition, and he doesn't think there was any way the man would be able to catch him. Not at the pace he could run. His and Yuuri's apartment was only a few blocks away. He could make it there easily.
He thinks to turn and simply bolt, when there comes the sound of snow being crushed underfoot behind him.
Immediately Viktor turns, and he sees approaching, only feet away, three more men, all similarly built to the first, all with their eyes fixed on him, their expressions hateful. Two of them are carrying weapons; a baseball bat and what looks like a long chain.
For a moment, panic blinds him, his vision whiting out as it dawns on him what's really happening.
“What's the matter, twinkle toes?” The first man asks behind him, and Viktor turns back, seeing he's come closer, standing within reach of him now. “Where's all that arrogant attitude I always see you got on TV?”
“Where's that cock sucking boyfriend of yours, Viktor?” One of the others starts, and Viktor feels dizzy a moment with fear. “You two are fuckin' disgusting, you know that? Gettin' all kissy with each other on TV.”
Yuuri... Yuuri would be safe, Viktor tries to tell himself. Their apartment was in a secured building. You needed a code to get in. These men wouldn't be able to. Their address wasn't public anyway, so they wouldn't even know where to find it. Yuuri would be okay.
He feels his grip tighten over the bottle of wine, throat tight.
The bottle of wine, Viktor thinks.
If he could somehow hit the first man over the head with it, he could make a run for it then. If he could just get a few steps on them, he could outrun them. He knows that.
He's thinking of doing it. He just needs to make the blow count, he just needs...
“What's that you got in your hand, pretty boy?”
He feels one of the three men behind grab at the bottle he's holding, and without thinking, he yanks his arm away, turning his back on the first man. It's a mistake.
He feels powerful arms wrap around him from behind, hooking under his arms and pulling him back against a broad chest.
The three men in front of him grin, starting to laugh, and Viktor's panic doubles. He doesn't think as he tries desperately to break free of the hold he's in, kicking his legs out, trying to rip forward.
He doesn't get anywhere, the man's hold tightening somehow more, and he sees one of the other three step closer, reaching again for the wine bottle.
Viktor tries to pull away, but he can't. He can't move at all, and he feels his wrist taken hold of in another, crushing grip.
“Lets have it candy ass.” The man snarls, his grip tightening viciously over his wrist, threatening to break it, and Viktor's fingers spasm, loosening as the man rips the bottle from his hand.
“Wine? What, were you going to celebrate with that chink boyfriend of yours?” The man spits, and Viktor feels a hot swell of rage burst in his chest.
“Don't call him that.” He says back, only realizing it after the words have left his mouth.
The men laugh.
“Let me have it.” One of them says, grabbing the wine bottle. He looks at the label, face twisting in disgust. “Expensive shit.” He mutters. “Guess they pay you queers good money to do all that gay twirling around the ice, huh?”
Viktor glares, trying again, unsuccessfully, to pull free.
“I think you might wanna cool it, sweetheart.” The man holding him breathes against his ear. “Your ours now, so you might wanna cool it.”
The man holding the wine scoffs, before without warning he smashes it against the ground, the glass shattering, the smell of alcohol filling the air a moment later.
Again the men laugh, and Viktor feels his eyes begin to sting, an awful sense of dread building up from the pit of his stomach, all too familiar. This was all too familiar.
“... What do you want?” He forces himself to ask. It's a useless question, likely. He knows what they want. But he has a lot of cash on him, and maybe if he can convince them to just take it, they'll leave him alone.
“Want?” One of them asks. “What kinda' stupid question is that?”
“If you want money, you can have my wallet. It's in the left pocket of my...”
He doesn't get to finish the sentence.
The world explodes in pain and blinding light, the immediate taste of copper washing over his tongue and the world spinning in dizzying circles as his vision comes slowly back.
One of them had hit him, he thinks dazedly. One of them had...
“Shut up faggot!”
The man hits him again. Viktor sees it coming this time. It still sends him reeling, and he feels his knees give way under him. He would hit the ground if the man behind him weren't holding him up.
“We're gonna take your money anyway, you stupid cunt. Ain't got nothin' to do with what you say.”
The words are words he's heard countless times before. They still hurt. Would never stop hurting, he thinks. Like suddenly he can't breathe, and his eyes sting, even as he forces his face still, jaw clenched and mouth in a hard line.
Suddenly his phone dings, and Viktor feels a sickening drop down through his stomach.
The men hear it too, their faces twisting into almost lecherous expressions.
“Don't...” Viktor snaps without thinking as one of them begins reaching into his coat pocket.
It's Yuuri. He knows it is. Probably asking where he is. He doesn't want... he doesn't want them to see it. The men. He doesn't want them to do anything...
“What'd I just tell you, bitch?!” The man reaching for his phone suddenly has him by the face, meaty fingers digging into his cheeks, nails cutting. Viktor's eyes squeeze shut at the pain as his head is shoved backward, and he can do nothing as the man reaches again into his coat pocket, pulling his phone free.
He watches as the man's eyes scan over the message, his mouth twisting into a smirk.
“Your chink boyfriend wants to know where you are, Viktor.” He says, looking up and grinning. “Want me to tell him you're alright?” The man's voice is mocking.
Viktor doesn't say anything. His phone is locked. They won't be able to get in to send any kind of message to Yuuri. They won't be able to hurt him.
It's something the man with his phone realizes a moment later, and Viktor can see his face twist in frustration before he looks up at him, eyes burning with disdain.
“What's the pass code?” He asks.
Viktor's heart is beating so hard in his chest, he barely hears the words for the pounding of blood in his ears. He swallows hard, keeping his mouth shut.
“I asked what the fuckin' pass code is!” The man's face hardens with rage as he lunges forward, grabbing Viktor by the lapels of his coat, jerking him violently up. “Give it to me cunt!”
Viktor shakes his head, determination shoving down his fear.
“No.” He answers flatly. He won't let these men talk to Yuuri. It doesn't matter what they do to him. He won't let them speak one word of their filth to Yuuri.
He barely registers the movement then. Only sees the baseball bat come up, and the next instant he can't breathe.
There's a sharp, shocked gasp which, vague in the back of his mind, he knows belongs to him, and his knees buckle, hitting the ground hard as the man holding him up lets him go.
Nausea comes crashing down on him, and the surge of bile from the pit of his stomach comes too fast to stop, rushing up his throat. He throws up, and he stares, bemused and lost at the acrid vomit covering the snow, the stench of it turning his stomach again.
Distantly he registers the sound of laughter above him.
He isn't given time to think on it.
Something cold and hard is abruptly against his throat, tightening fast as he's jerked backward.
Alarmed panic erupts in Viktor's brain as he realizes it's the chain. They've wrapped the chain around his throat.
His hands lift, fingers scrambling desperately to find the metal links, to push under them and away from his throat. Only the links tighten more and more, cutting, raw pain, and he can't breathe at all now. He can't breathe!
He was going to be choked to death, he thinks frantically. He was going to...
The pressure against his throat is suddenly gone, and a desperate, ragged gasp escapes him, frenzied, desperate coughing wracking through his frame as he sucks madly for air, falling forward onto his hands.
And the world explodes into pain.
The blow against his back is paralyzing. He feels his body collapse beneath him, the cold of the snow against his face as it hits the ground.
The pain is too much. His brain screaming. Too much, too much. His nerves erupting, overcome.
Distantly he thinks, the baseball bat. They've hit him with the baseball bat.
And then he thinks...
I'm going to die...
His last thought, horror crashing down on him, vision tunneling, going black at the edges. Somewhere above, he hears more laughter. Vicious, hissed words. He can't make them out anymore. Doesn't know what they're saying.
The blows come down on him in waves, loud cracking in his ears and body burning in flames. Can't think anymore. Something horrible, he knows. But can't think. Just noise and pain and horror. The world dissolves in terror and his skull is cracked open then, eyes washing out in white, consuming light, rushing, screaming in his ears, and all at once he's deaf and blind.
The world fades from him.
He falls and falls and falls.
Falls away to oblivion.