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Paying for Poison

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"Moya zvezdochka1" Viktor blinked as he heard the endearment said almost tenderly on his alpha's salacious tongue. Glancing over across the back of the car's bench, he saw the bulk of the man that used to be the light of his life looking pointedly out the window. Lolling his head to see what it was that Ivan was looking at, he found he recognized where they were. Heart thumping in a way that it hadn't in years, his breath caught. The Megasport Palace stretched above them. Vaguely he wondered if they were there to see a basketball game, and he winced at the hazy memories of hands finding their way where they had no business. An involuntary whimper escaped his throat, and he turned back to Ivan.

 Crawling across the seats he wrapped his arms around his alpha's neck and hid his face into the crook of a broad shoulder.

 "Vanya… can we please go home?" he asked as sweetly as he could, releasing the only weapon he had against what he was expecting to come. If he could successfully arouse Ivan enough with his pheromones, then he'd at least know who was going to be touching him that night. The sharp slap across his thigh signaled that whatever was planned for the evening could not be changed, and he stopped releasing pheromones immediately. "I'm sorry, Alpha." came the quick apology. "I was only thinking of spending the night with you."

"Don't lie, zvezdochka." Was all Ivan said before shoving Viktor away. Flinching away from any other hit that might land, Viktor waited, but blessedly, none came. "Get out of the car. At the very least you can watch the programs while I speak to other businessmen."

Schooling his face to remain neutral, Viktor nodded and exited the car. Waiting in place for Ivan to come around the other side and wrap a possessive arm around his waist, he fell in perfect step. It was only then that he realized what he was wearing. He didn't remember being told to put it on, but that didn't mean much. More often than not, Ivan would tell him what to wear and he'd obey without even thinking. But it wasn't often that Ivan would ask him to wear a button down shirt, tie and slacks under his thick, tailored overcoat. Tentatively, he reached up to feel how his hair was styled, and found it to be slicked back with a strand or two framing his forehead. The tackiness of his eyes told him he was wearing eyeliner, and the sweet cherry flavor on his lips spoke of lip gloss. Even his collar was the demure black one instead of the gaudy jewels to which he was accustomed. He was dressed professionally that evening. Odd.

Looking up and finally taking in the other spectators that were filing into the sports complex, he saw much the same. No one was dressed for a basketball game, there were no painted faces, no jerseys, in fact - the crowd looked very familiar. Then he saw the banners and gasped. Rostelecom Cup. Ivan had brought him to a Grand Prix competition. The question was why? He hadn't been to any ice skating events in… well, he wasn't sure how long, but it had been a very long time. One banner boasted the year 2017. And that answered that question. Had it really been five years since he had dropped out right before Sochi's Grand Prix Final?

Ivan handed their tickets to an usher and in exchange they were given a program, which Ivan handed to Viktor. Biting back the urge to eagerly look through it and see if there were any skaters he knew, he held it politely, and allowed himself to be guided to the elevators to take them to a box suite. Leaning into Ivan, he almost hid his eyes from the bright, harsh lights that could only be in a sporting venue. Funny that he used to live beneath these lights, and now he wished he could disappear into a shadow. A familiar pounding in his chest bespoke of anxiety instead of the excitement he used to feel upon entering such a place. If it had been five years, all of his friends would no longer be there. He didn't even know if Yakov would be there, he'd been thinking of retiring from coaching years ago - there was no reason to expect any familiar, friendly, faces. 

They entered their usual box, that was often shared with Ivan's business associates, and Ivan deposited him into one of the chairs. Viktor smiled his thanks and began to remove his coat, draping it carefully over his arm before casually opening the program. Letting out a small breath, he realized that he recognized none of the names, at least, not any with whom he'd once been on a first name basis. The few Russian competitors were from Moscow, not St. Petersburg. One from Japan and one from Thailand (that oddly, he noted, had the same coach), a couple from the United States, and eight others from random countries spanning the globe. Taking a controlled deep breath, he settled resignedly into his seat. The foolish hope that he'd be able to even get down to the rink, and then back stage, was far too much, but he would have tried if he'd known any of the competitors. Of course Ivan would have made sure that none of them would know who he was personally.  The Japanese competitor, however, was very attractive. 

It certainly explained his attire, however. Ivan hardly could allow his spouse to dress scandalously at the events he used to compete. Small things to be thankful for, Viktor supposed, being able to be comfortably clothed.

Vaguely, he recognized the hand that entered his vision, holding a glass of wine.

"Thank you, Vanya." he tilted his head up and offered a small smile as he took the glass. Ivan settled into the seat next to him, obviously waiting for something else. Viktor scrambled, "And thank you for bringing me. I'll enjoy seeing the programs."

"That's not all you're here for, remember." Ivan muttered and Viktor recognized the threat. Viktor chanced a glance around the box that was filling with others he didn't recognize. So that was it, Ivan had opened up the pool of potential 'customers', as he called them. A wave of nausea rolled through Viktor's stomach. Of course ice skating patrons would be the logical place to solicit business. He'd been Russia's hero for several years, after all. Many would pay handsomely for a night with him.

"Of course, Alpha." Viktor said meekly, the blush on his cheeks pretty, but not the coy shyness that Vanya had come to expect. Rather he felt like he would rather vomit. Ivan grunted in approval, and sat back, arm draped over Viktor's chair.

Viktor didn't even notice the show starting, didn't register the programs being performed right before his eyes. He didn't see Ivan step away and strike up conversations with the wealthy sponsors behind him. Unseeing eyes were merely fixated on the ice. Competitor after competitor went, scores being announced, cheers and sympathetic winces from the crowd thundered around him, but nothing brought him out of the stupor he allowed himself to sink into. It was his escape. Ivan hadn't liked how the medicine had made him so vacant, but Viktor embraced it fully. If he didn't fully recognize what was going on, he wouldn't have night terrors, he wouldn't have to remember.

That is, until Christophe Giacometti's name was announced. Viktor looked up to the speaker sharply, and then flinched away from it. If Ivan had noticed the recognition, he'd be furious and they'd have to leave immediately. But Ivan wasn't next to him any more. Viktor looked over his shoulder and saw Ivan's handsome smile winning over some besotted business man and his wife.

"Of course, we'll be back to see the Men's Free Skate. Moya zvezdochka wouldn't miss it! He has such fond memories." He was saying, and Viktor cringed. It was a common pattern. With basketball or hockey there was usually a few games in a row they would attend, the first would be introductions and wooing, the second the tiniest of samples of the product, then the third would be when paper invitations would be extended. So it seemed this would be no different.

Reaffixing his gaze on the ice, he didn't see Chris, instead he saw the Japanese skater take to the ice and position himself center circle. Glancing down to the program, he saw the name 'Yuuri Katsuki, coach Celestino Cialdini' and a brief biography. Had he imagined Chris' name over the announcement? He didn't think so.

The music started, and Viktor watched carefully. As Katsuki moved, Viktor's breath caught. He was beautiful. Music seemed to come from his movements rather than over the sound system. There was an emotion there that seemed to be disappearing from the programs others were performing, and it was stunning. Then he began to recognize some of the elements, and he blinked. Chris must have choreographed Katsuki's short program. Only he'd be brazen enough to put in such a sexual movement, and then to see it from the lithe Japanese man, Viktor was entranced.

As Katsuki finished, took his bows and picked up a rice ball tossie, Viktor was starting to piece together a plan. Most of it was hopeful, merely wishful thinking, but if luck was on his side for once, maybe, just maybe, he could reach out to Chris.

 


 

It was a hard won couple of days, keeping himself coherent enough to be able to tell when they'd be leaving for the free skate program. Wanting nothing more than to retreat back into daydreams and nothingness. He'd found an old pass in a memory book with its lanyard. With a blue pen, he fixed the year to be current. It was sloppy, but it'd have to do, and he knew full well that security guards didn't look as closely as they should. Placing it under his shirt that Ivan had told him to wear, he ensured it wouldn't be visible through the fabric, and he buttoned his overcoat for extra measure.

As he reached Ivan's study to wait for his mate to be ready to go, he opened the top drawer and took out one of the small invitations. The date on it was after the Grand Prix final, almost a month away, and he hoped that Katsuki was an honest, good man. If not, then all of this would be for naught, and the punishment if he were caught would be unthinkable. Shoving away the trepidation of what Ivan would do if his actions were discovered, he wrote Chris' name on the invitation and shoved it into his pocket.

He was waiting for Ivan on the couch when the alpha entered the study.

"Eager, are you?" Ivan chuckled. "Perhaps we should go to these damned events more often if it gets you off your ass and into the car."

"Yes, Vanya." was all Viktor could say. But he had to fight back his protest as Ivan produced the bottle of pills. The hormone dosage would be increased that night. The sinking disappointment in Viktor's stomach was almost too much, but he fought to stay present. He couldn't argue, knowing that Ivan wanted to display just how deep into submission Viktor would be able to go. He wanted to display how responsive Viktor could be toward others, even outside a full blown heat. Dutifully he placed the pill in his mouth and gave a swallow, opening his mouth afterward for Ivan's inspection that he had indeed taken it.

Once at the Palace, Viktor fixed his face to the neutral vacancy that Ivan expected, and drank the wine, nibbled on the offered aperitifs, and waited until Ivan was deep in a conversation about American stock or some such nonsense. The pill was making him far more hazy than he wanted to be, and he could feel his mind slipping away in moments before he jolted it back in horror. This was his chance and he couldn't lose it to the hormones that Ivan forced on him. Once he knew he wouldn't be able to continue this further without losing himself completely, he left his coat on his chair and sidled up to the alpha and whispered his need to use the restroom.

"Do you remember the way?" came the grumpy murmur. A palm came to his cheek, and he was grateful that he was sweaty enough to warrant a freshening up.

"Of course, Vanya." Viktor purred softly against his ear, giving him a kiss on the cheek for good measure - ever the doting omegan partner. His touch lingered on the alpha's hand, and it wasn't entirely for show. He hated how good it felt to have contact with another while the medicine raced through his body.

"Be quick."

And Viktor was. He'd have to be fast, and prayed that Ivan would be too distracted by the prospect of money to notice he was taking far longer in the bathroom than what would be acceptable. If anything, he'd feign getting lost. As if he could get lost in the venue he'd performed in for years, even with the medicine that Ivan kept pumping through his veins.

In the elevator, he pulled the lanyard out from under his shirt, and double checked that the narrow paper that was in his pocket was still there. Going through security, his old pass working as he'd hoped, he fought through the haze his head was in. Desperately hoping he wasn't walking as though he was as drunk as he felt, he found one of the young Russian skaters that was stretching against a wall. The boy couldn't have been older than 16, and had headphones blaring in his ears. Viktor tapped on his shoulder, mustering every ounce of confidence he could to show that he belonged

"Skater Katsuki?" he asked, ignoring the double take the young skater gave him. Yes, he was Viktor Nikiforov. No, he hadn't been seen on the circuit in five years. But that didn't matter. This was his domain, drunk on fake hormones or not.

"Locker room, I think." the boy shrugged at him. Viktor nodded and headed toward the door that he knew led to the lockers.

 


 

Yuuri hated the moments before competitions with the fire of the burning sun. His stomach was tight and rolling, forehead beaded with a cold sweat. Hands trembled as he took a drink from his water bottle, and he adjusted his hips into a stretch against the bench. One earbud was hanging from his ear, and the other was tucked into the collar of his Japan jacket so he could still hear the announcements. He'd learned his lesson before, when Ciao Ciao had found him in a secluded corner, absorbed in his music and barely making the ice with seconds to spare. If he wanted to warm up alone, he had to pay attention.

It also helped to hear whenever the door to the locker room slammed shut as it just had. He took a deep and calming breath, and turned to go see who had come, half expecting Phichit to appear around the corner. Instead he saw a man in dark trousers, silver hair slicked back, and a lanyard that was clearly not from this competition. Press, probably. And Yuuri scowled.

"Um, sorry, this area is for skaters onl-" Yuuri's voice strangled in his throat as the man before him turned. His appearance was much changed - thin, like he needed to eat katsudon for months before regaining his old figure, his eyes were glassy, cheeks flushed as though he had a fever. It seemed as though his legs trembled beneath his own weight. But Yuuri would know that face, that hair, anywhere. Years of watching him and far too many posters on his bedroom wall ensured that he'd recognize him even in this state. But the look on the other man's face banished any thoughts other than what seemed to be wrong. "Are… are you in heat?"

"Skater Katsuki?" Yuuri's eyes widened as he nodded, and suddenly Viktor Nikiforov was clutching at his coat. He barely registered that his childhood hero knew his name, he couldn't think on that when Viktor's voice was on the edge of breaking. Desperation lined his every movement.

"Yes th-that's me.  Um… Mr. Nikiforov… Do… do you need help?"

Viktor shook his head violently and shoved his hand into Yuuri's pocket. Yuuri only had time to squeak before Viktor was backing away, breathing heavily. "Please… please buy me."