Actions

Work Header

Always Forgive Me, Ride or Die With Me

Chapter Text

                                                                     

 

Footsteps echoed down the cacophonous hallway, the double leather soles of the shoes around them clicking against the polished black marble of the floors. The leisurely tempo grew louder as the men approached Otabek and the three other men standing guard by the large, oak double doors of the study.

Viktor Nikiforov lead the pack, standing out from the pack of black suited men, cloaked in stark white silk and silver-hued merino wool, the only splashes of colour on his person being his startling, glassy aquamarine eyes and deep violet pocket square. With his sharp features and high cheekbones, Viktor Nikiforov would easily have passed as a beautiful man if he hadn’t been one of the most wanted men in the world.

Everyone in the criminal underworld knew that name, and the very whisper of it would cause unease to ripple across a room of seasoned veterans, criminals and civil servants alike.

Otabek, happened to be one of the few people in the world fortunate enough to not only be on his side, but to be within his inner circle, being his personal bodyguard. 

He nodded as Christophe Giacometti, the Derzhatel obschaka of the Nikiforov Bratva, stepped ahead of the pack, sharp olive eyes meeting Otabek’s hazel as a form of silent affirmation as he turned to open the heavy double doors, Viktor leading the other member of the party into the study. An older man, Otabek had noted. Taller than he was, most likely stronger than his frail appearance would betray, his striking emerald eyes holding the hardness and strength of that of a solider, having seen many hardships in his time and most likely anticipated another. He wasn’t a skinny man, but that could mean many things, as Otabek had learned in his time living in the seamy underbelly of St. Petersburg.

“Altin?” Christophe asked, still holding the door. 

“Yes, sir?” 

“Nikiforov wants you in his study. This is a matter that concerns you, mostly.”

A matter concerning me? 

Otabek stiffened, nodding briskly and following Christophe into his office.

The older man stood behind Viktor’s desk with him, piercing viridian eyes scanning Otabek as the doors closed behind him.

“Altin, lose the weapons and take a seat.” Viktor said calmly.

His voice was often even, difficult for many to interpret. It could mean a threat, or it could be nothing. Always one to follow any orders given and eager to please his superiors, he complied, unbuckling his holsters and removing the varied pistols and blades on his person before moving to take a seat, being stopped by Viktor’s empty tutting.

“All of your weaponry, Altin. I’m not an idiot, I know you keep more than that measly collection on your person.” 

The older gentleman next to him chuckled gruffly.

“The boy carries quite the arsenal with him.” He commented, eyeing the varied weaponry laid out before him.

“Mouth open, tongue to the roof of your mouth Otabek.” Viktor commanded, his voice stern but even.

Otabek sighed and did as he was told, arms behind his back as he stared at the ceiling, Viktor’s slender fingers prying at his lips and carefully plucking the razor blade out from under the wet muscle.

“You can’t fool me, Altin, I know you’ve kept at least one of these in there since you were barely a teen.”

“Apologies, sir. I tend to feel relatively exposed without any form of weaponry on my person.”

“Back in my day we just used our fists.” 

Ignoring that comment, Otabek took a seat.

“I was told this matter concerned me, sir?”

“Indeed it does.” Viktor replied briskly, walking to the wide, red velvet bracketed window of his study, hands clasped behind his back and spine so straight it would make a trained ballerina curse a blue streak in pure, unadulterated envy. “You’ve been good to me, over the years Otabek. Obedient, skilled, despite your youth. I may not be the most appropriate person to make such a comment, but there is no doubt you have an impressive repertoire for someone as young as you are.”

You’ve been good to me.

Past tense.

What could he mean by this?

Otabek tensed, shifting his feet to be at the ready to escape if necessary. The speech, the lack of eye contact, the demand for Otabek to remove all weaponry. The signs all pointed to a final resignation, if it were. Betrayal. To be offed by one’s boss, well, he’d be damned if he didn’t try to fight for his survival. Viktor knew well enough that Otabek didn’t need a blade or a bullet to kill a man. He’d been in this game long enough to be able to kill a man with his bare hands and seldom leave a trace, a print of evidence on his skin. Viktor Nikiforov was feared for many reasons, and this was just one of them.

“Pakhan Plisetsky has a proposition for you, my only role in this transaction is releasing you formally from my organisation and providing his bratva protection when needed.” 

Plisetsky.

Otabek’s eyes widened. 

No one had seen Nikolai Plisetsky in decades, not since the upheaval. 

There wasn’t a single person who didn’t know about it, despite it having had happened nearly 20 years ago. Someone high up in the organisation - the details were fuzzy on his rank, but many had mentioned he was close with Nikolai’s sole successor, his daughter Zerina – betrayed the bratva. Many died, most were imprisoned. Nikolai and what little was left of his inner circle went into hiding after they took his daughter, no one had seen or heard from him since. 

Yet here he was, no longer the picture of brute strength and calculated wit that he once was, but a tired old man who still held a gleam of warrior-like determination in his glassy emerald eyes, sharpened by a charming, snake-like cunning and wit.

“The boy tells me you’re quite the bodyguard.” He spoke gruffly, dropping into Viktor’s leather armchair, glancing over at Otabek.

“I do my best to serve him effectively, sir.” 

“Polite, obedient. Not to mention your track record. Those hands of yours are quite dangerous, aren’t they? I’m surprised the boy didn’t tell you to bind yourself too. I’m sure you would have done it, wouldn’t you?” 

“Kolya, I’m 32, I’m not a child. Don’t call me ‘boy’.” Viktor said tightly, glare hardening against the immaculately polished glass of his window.

“To old men like myself and Yasha, you are.” 

“Forgive me for any disrespect, sir,” Otabek cleared his throat. “But I prefer to cut the bullshit, as it were. What proposition do you have for me?”

“Quite the mouth on him, huh? Direct, straight to the point… Yurachka would like him.” He chuckled, sending a crooked smile in Viktor’s direction.

“That wildcat hates everyone.” Viktor tutted. “Maybe he wouldn’t if you’d let him out to play once in a while.”

Otabek sighed under his breath and unbuttoned his shirt cuff, tugging the loosened sleeve back down his forearm from where they were pushed up for a previous interrogation, buttoning it back around his wrist as the two men bickered, repeating the process for the other sleeve.

“Yurachka is my grandson.” Nikolai explained, sobering up as he returned his attention to Otabek. “He’s all I have left at the moment and, well, he needs a new bodyguard. He goes through them quickly. Either he sends them to a med bay or they resign. Or both.”

Otabek raised a brow, looking between the older man and the pale slate merino of Viktor’s suit, stretched over his broad shoulders.

“And you believe I can handle him?”

“I believe you can understand him, Altin. He’s about your age, he doesn’t have many friends. Someone like you, I think you can both protect him and understand him. Name your price, and you can start as soon as you like.”

“What are the conditions of this position? I want to know what I’m getting into.” Otabek said calmly, folding his arms and sitting back in his seat, eyeing the older gentleman carefully.

“You know what you want, I respect that.” Nikolai commented. “You will follow him wherever he goes, with the exception of the restroom and when he bathes. You will protect him, make sure he is not followed, make sure he is safe and unharmed. You will be his constant companion, his confidant, his shield.”

“And this position would require me to, what? Move in with you?” 

“It is a full time position, but your needs are to be provided for. Hospitality, food, medical care, arsenal supplies, whatever you need just so long as you do as I ask.”

 “And why do you want me for this? I’m barely over 20, many would consider me too young to watch over someone as prized as the prince of the Plisetsky bratva.” Otabek asked, leaning forward in his seat, forearms on his knees and hands clasped together. “Too reckless, too inexperienced. I’ve only been Nikiforov’s personal guard for a few months.”

“And yet, in what little time you have had, you have proven yourself significantly. Not just anyone can climb the ranks of the bratva as quickly as you did without being born into it.” Nikolai countered, tired green eyes sparkling, ready for any challenge. “I’ve been watching you for a while Altin, you seem like the perfect man for the job.”

“If you choose to take this position, Otabek, you do have my blessing.” Viktor commented from the window. “I know you are loyal to me, and your loyalty knows no bounds, which is without a doubt something Nikolai would appreciate. I do believe this position would be more suited to your skillset. You’re too adept to be a basic grunt, but too much of a wildcard to be a leader. How you’ll wrangle the wildcat, I am unsure, but I have faith you can do it.”

“I’ll start you at ₽50,000 a week.” 

Otabek’s brows shot up, Viktor snickering softly over the starched shoulder of his suit.

50,000?” Otabek repeated dumbly. “That’s… are you sure you have the sufficient funds?”

“Be watchful of what you say, boy.” Nikolai said coolly, eyes narrowing.

“My apologies, Pakhan Plisetsky. Forgive my unintended disrespect, it was an inaccurate assumption, sir.” 

“So, will you take my offer?”

“You have a deal, sir.”

“Excellent. You start on Monday. I will give you time to organise and send for your things.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Nikolai rose to his feet with a soft groan. Otabek could hear the varied joints cracking and popping as he stood, reaching his hand out to Otabek. Otabek took it, nodding and shaking it firmly before clapping him on his shoulder, turning to make his leave before stopping at the oak doors.

“And Altin?”

“Yes, Pakhan Plisetsky, sir?”

“Make sure you protect him…” The gruff older man’s strong stature shifted, morphing into a vulnerable stance, speaking softly and tenderly. “He’s all I have left.”

Chapter Text

“Your quarters are down the hall, third door on the right.” The petite red haired woman informed him as they stepped into the winding corridors of the complex. The estate was plainer and less extravagant than the Nikiforov estate, not that Otabek minded, he tended to prefer a functional simplicity than an over the top extravagance. “Though I doubt you’ll be there much other than to pick up your clothes and arsenal, considering the old man wants you guarding the Kitty Cat 24/7. I saw all the stuff the newbies were bringing in for you, damn. I was born into this business and you’ve got more toys than I do.”

“You sure talk a lot for an enforcer.” Otabek noted, eying the girl carefully. 

“Well, really I’m just relieved to not be the only baby around here. Everyone but the Kitty is ancient.”

“So you normally have an off switch?” Otabek deadpanned.

“No I never shut the fuck up regardless. I’m holding myself back, I usually get way too personal.”

“And you use this for torture or is this an added bonus?”

“Oh they hate it. You’re funny, I like you. I think we’re gonna be friends.” 

“Can you really trust anyone in this game?”

“Oooh, mysterious. I like it.” She turned on her heel, rubber soles squeaking against the polished marble flooring, sticking out her hand. “Mila. Mila Babicheva.”

“Babicheva? Of the Blagoveshchensk Babichev Bratva?” Otabek asked. He knew Viktor had dealings with that family, knowing the matriarch, Ksenia Babicheva, through Yakov Feltsman, Pakhan of the Feltsman Bratva and Viktor’s mentor, which was also how he knew Nikolai.

“Mamochka prefers to call it a sestrinskiy, but, that’s just between us.” She grinned with a wink.

Otabek shrugged. The defeated Plisetsky’s, the matriarchal Babichev’s, the small Katsuki Yakuza family from a tiny, sleepy fishing town and the oddly friendly chao pho group funnelling drugs through various Buddhist monasteries throughout Thailand.

For someone as feared and powerful as he was, Viktor had always picked some… interesting allies.

“Otabek.” He offered in response to the introduction, feeling a pang of guilt for not having responded to her query sooner.

“Otabek…?”

“Altin.”

“Welcome aboard, Otabek Altin. Huh. Interesting name, is that Uzbek or?”

“Otabek is Uzbek. Altin is Turkic and Kazakh. I was born in Almaty.” 

“Oh wow, I’ve always wanted to visit Kazakhstan.” She mused as they stepped through the halls. “I’ve heard lovely things.”

“You should go, when you can. The sunset across the Steppes… it’s something.”

“I’m sure the Kitten would love to hear about that, he’s lived such a restrained life. Poor kid, always so cooped up. Kolya wants him to stay out of trouble, but he's an adult now. He’s lived in a bubble his whole life, he hates it.”

“Nikiforov says he hates everyone…”

“He doesn’t, he’s sweet when you get to know him. He’s just… frustrated, so he takes it out on people in… violent ways.” She said sadly.

Just as Mila turned to Otabek, the alabaster double doors at the end of the hall crashing open and slamming against the ashen brick walls. A guard dressed in the standard black shirt and black jeans hitting the floor as a blur of blond hair and pale skin wrapped in something black and purple rushed down the hall, the sound of heels clicking rapidly against the floor echoing down the hall. The all too familiar sanguine scent of blood wafting into the air as a splotch of red oozed from the guard’s side onto the plain white marble floors.

“Don’t just stand there, new guy, grab the little bastard!” someone barked.

Otabek didn’t need to be told twice, sprinting after the blond and reaching for their wrist. The figure whipped around, revealing the same war-hardened emerald eyes Otabek recognised from the Bratva patriarch and sharp, elven features. The dark makeup around his eyes made the green of his irises that much more startling, a mass of thick, blond hair falling over his shoulders and down his chest. Otabek’s eyes flicked down to the garnet and violet painted blade aimed at his throat, taking note of how it was barely sharp enough to graze the skin. 

“Don’t you dare fucking touch me.” He snarled through gritted teeth.

“Sorry sweetheart, it’s in the occupation.” Otabek sighed, knocking the blade out of the young man’s hand and twisting him around, grabbing his free arm and pinning both arms behind his back. 

The man huffed, shifting his stance in a way Otabek could tell he was preparing to strike Otabek’s shin with the heel of his boot, stepping out of the way in time to unbalance him and make him drop to his knees.

“Damn, record time.” Mila whistled, walking up to Otabek with the closed practice blade it hand. “Nice reflex too, Yuri.”

“You hag,” Yuri growled. “Get this oaf to unhand me.”

“Sorry Kitty, can’t do that. You know you broke protocol. And poor Maxim, he’s going to need more than stitches now. That blade wasn’t even that sharp, how did you draw that much blood?”

“If you stab anything hard enough, it’ll bleed.” Yuri snickered humourlessly.

Oh, Otabek thought. This kid is a mafia prince for sure.

“Anyway, the protocol is bullshi-”

“The protocol is there to keep you safe, Yurachka.” Nikolai’s voice thundered throughout the hallway.

Steps sounded and heels clicked together in a united echo down the hallway as Nikolai stepped in, back straight and stance proud and commanding as he walked up to Otabek. Nikolai Plisetsky didn’t have that many men, but the men he had were as dedicated and as loyal as any criminal could be, ironically appearing to be more disciplined than some civil servants or soldiers. 

“Grandpa…” Yuri sighed, his shoulders slumping as he stopped fighting in Otabek’s grip.

“I see you and Otabek have become acquainted with one another already, Yurachka.”

“Otabek? Is this the new meathead you hired to contain me?”

Meathead? That’s a little hurtful…

“You can unhand him, Altin.”

Otabek nodded, releasing the man’s wrists and moving to help him up, only to be batted away. Otabek shrugged, deciding to stand at attention behind Yuri.

“You’ve got a tight ass fucking grip, let me tell you. Shit hurts.” Yuri hissed, rubbing his wrists and sending a chilling glare over his shoulder to Otabek.

“Most men don’t get you down on the first try, especially after being completely at ease right before.” Nikolai noted.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. He’s still short as fuck and he’ll be gone in two weeks max.”

“Yuri. Be nice.”

“Grandpa, I’m 18, nearly 19. What is the point of this anymore? I can take care of myself.” 

“No you can’t Yura. That’s why I do this for you.”

For me? You do this to me.” Yuri snapped, taking a step towards his grandfather. Otabek took note of how each subordinate stiffened, reaching for their handguns. “I can’t protect myself because you keep me cooped up like a fucking pet! I don’t have a life, Grandpa. I know you want to protect me but, this isn’t fair. It’s inhumane.”

“I am trying to keep you safe, Yurachka.” He replied firmly.

“You are driving me insane.” Yuri countered quickly, his voice sharp and drenched in venom. “I’m not asking that you let me take over, I’m asking to not be babysat day in and day out and followed everywhere I fucking go! I want to be able to go outside without having to hide my face and have six other people with me! I’m asking for a normal goddamn life!”

“This is for your own good!”

“What? So when you die I’m going to be alone and afraid and not know what the fuck to do with myself because you spoiled me rotten but never let me do anything for myself?” Yuri’s voice began to sound hoarse as Nikolai’s demeanour shifted. “You’re not immortal, Grandpa. One day… you won’t be there and I need to know how to live my life without being babied and watched.”

“Yurachka… we will not continue this any further. Otabek, escort him to his room.” Nikolai sighed, visibly distressed by the turn the heated debate was taking.

“You can’t just shut me out when you don’t like what I have to say!” Yuri shouted after his grandfather. “Grandpa, please, I’m sorry.” His voice was softer this time, hoarser, more vulnerable.

“I do this because I love you, Yurachka.” He called over his shoulder, the elk study doors swinging shut behind him.

The men around them were left at ease, yet tensed in preparation for an outburst akin to the one earlier, possibly with Otabek as the main target. Otabek assumed this was common practice. 

“The fuck are you looking at?” He sneered, turning to Otabek. “You have your orders, follow them.”

If I have to spend all my time with this kid, he’s going to drive me insane. Granted, being cooped up like that would give anyone an attitude, but, damn, he has the face of a siren and the mouth of a war hardened sailor.

Otabek nodded, stepping in front of Yuri and walking down the hall towards the alabaster double doors, a maid hurriedly wiping up the red splatter from the floor as Otabek marched steadily towards it, the two guards already stationed at the doors opening them for Otabek and Yuri.

Yuri stormed in after him, taking no notice as the door closed behind them and Otabek stationed himself by them, Yuri throwing himself onto the plush bed with a piercing, guttural scream.

The bedroom itself wasn’t so much a bedroom as it appeared to be a leisure complex. 

While the bed remained at the heart of the room, to the side of the cacophonous room was an enormous flat screen, the brightly coloured spines of DVD and Video Game cases stacked up in an organised shelf stretching toward the ceiling. Gaming consoles rested beneath the TV, the controllers each laid out on the sleek black coffee table in front of the gaudily hued purple and black tiger print couch. 

The violet lights of a gaming PC set-up glowed eerily in the very corner of the room, a plush, purple leather and velvet chair tucked under the polished black glass desk. The bed itself held the same lavish décor as the chair combined with the tacky gaudiness of the purple and black tiger printed fabric of the couch.

A myriad of art supplies decorated the other end of the room, mostly organised in a chromatic fashion with the odd half painted canvas leaning against the cabinet or the desk, the open door next to that leading into an inky blackness Otabek assumed was to be a walk in closet.

Amidst the choked screaming and thrashing, a soft jingle sounded by Otabek’s side, causing him to change his focus to the source of the sound. 

A sound which apparently came from a latte coloured cat rubbing it’s long, silky fur against the black leg of Otabek’s trousers, meowing softly and purring quietly. 

The cat looked up at Otabek, wide peridot eyes peering up at Otabek, a stark contrast to the coffee coloured fur of its face, meowing again, nuzzling against Otabek’s shin. Otabek looked back and forth between the cat and it’s enraged owner, too wrapped up in his fury to notice Otabek or his feline companion.

Carefully, Otabek picked the feline up, scooping the pet into his arms and holding it close against his chest, hearing it purr into his ear as it’s forehead bumped his cheek gently, Otabek running his fingers through its soft fur. 

“Did I say you could hold him?” Yuri snapped suddenly, stalking towards Otabek and taking the cat from his arms. “It’s okay Potya, I’m here.” He cooed, cuddling the cat in his arms and scratching him behind his ears. “Did that oaf hurt you?” He asked, glaring at Otabek. “You’re dismissed, Altin.”

“Your grandfather ordered me to be at your side at all times, sir.”

“So you can talk.” He sneered. “What, are you supposed to watch me when I piss and shit too?”

“The bathroom is an exception, as decreed by the contract I am currently under.”

“Well, in that case, I’m going to the bathroom.” He said flippantly, stalking off to a door in the corner of the room. “And I’m not coming out.” 

He punctuated this by slamming the door.

Otabek sighed, feeling a dull ache begin to fester in the back of his skull and temples. This was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

Looking back on the day he had agreed to take this position; he never would have thought guarding the Plisetsky Bratva heir would be so draining. 

Yuri Plisetsky had officially been his charge for three weeks, and in that time the younger man had already worn Otabek down to his last nerve. All that brat seemed to do was complain, berate and belittle. Day after day, tantrum after tantrum. Having to watch him constantly, Otabek was never far from his next meltdown.

The spite toward being cooped up like some kind of exotic pet, Otabek could understand. But the waves of abuse he hurled at those around him had gone beyond an excuse at this point, despite Mila’s claims that Yuri was a good person.

Maybe it was because Yuri was still bitter about Otabek’s position in his life, but all Otabek could see was a vicious, spoiled brat who kicked, screamed and threatened his way into getting what he wanted out of people. 

Everything seemed to set the brat off, it was always something imbecilic and miniscule yet Yuri would find something to scream at the maids about until the heavily painted ivory skin of his face was blown blue and his voice was raw, yet he still had the strength to scream again the next day.

His latest outburst had been over the most ridiculous pair of boots Otabek had seen in all 21 years of his life.

The boots were a pair of black snakeskin heels that went so high up Yuri’s legs that they disappeared under the baggy hem of his Moschino sweater; heels so high that they caused Yuri to tower Otabek even more despite his impressive stature. The thin 24 karat gold zip fastenings of the boots slithered up from the insides of Yuri’s ankles all the way to his thighs and under his already ludicrously expensive sweater.

The boots were custom as far as Otabek had gathered, garish yet somewhat appealing from a distance, and as irritating he was, Yuri did make them work. Not that he agreed, of course. Amidst all the pampering and luxury, Yuri had always found something to vehemently complain about.

Currently, he was screeching at the maids for an invisible scuff mark on the pointed toes of the boots and about how the heels weren’t gold too, or at least gold plated. His flowing, silky pale golden tresses flew over his shoulders and around his face in his rage, the near white shade of his hair a stark contrast to the violet shade beginning to overtake his already reddened face.

Otabek, in all honesty, had tuned out from the screaming in the first day or so, finding the complaints brattish and menial without a micrometre of gratitude toward anything that had contributed to his lavish lifestyle. Though, that didn’t mean that he didn’t find the nasal screeching grating and deeply irritating.

Still, a job was a job.

“What are you staring at?” He growled.

That dragged Otabek out of his trance, the venomous emerald eyes like needles dripping with the deadliest yet most alluring toxin, aimed straight at Otabek. Otabek wasn’t afraid of his charge. Yuri was still thinner than him, weaker than him, Otabek could incapacitate him easily. It was just a question of what would happen after he dealt with the young bratva prince.

Otabek assumed there was only so much Nikolai would take of this.

“You stand there and you stare all fucking day, what the fuck are you staring at?” he snarled, storming toward Otabek and looming over him quite spectacularly.

Although Otabek had little time with his biological family growing up, his mother had just enough time to instil in him the importance of remaining silent when one has nothing of a respectful nature to say. Although, Otabek remarked bitterly, it wasn’t enough time to keep him from following the brutal family trade his mother so desperately tried to keep him and his sister out of, even when she was behind bars for being born into the wrong family. 

Even after Otabek ran away from the foster system, he still went to visit her. Right until he had been officially accepted into Viktor’s bratva after proving his worth. The heartbreak in her eyes was too much to bear, despite the tired smiles she gave. The smiles that never met her eyes. 

“Answer me! You’re good at obeying, aren’t you? Nikiforov’s little lapdog, you do what everyone tells you to. Answer me!” He barked into Otabek’s unflinching face.

Otabek paused to wipe off the flecks of saliva that had been flung at his face during the tantrum. 

“My mother always taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all.” Otabek replied evenly.

“A lapdog and a mama’s boy? Pathetic.”

“The Kazakh culture demands respect of those superior to you in rank and age, I intend to respect those teachings.”

“You’re a fucking robot, you know that? You just stand there and take it and don’t even fucking blink. How fucking whipped do you have to be such a pathetic excuse of a bodyguard?” Yuri spat, sauntering away from Otabek to sit down and presumably toss the ludicrously expensive shoes aside to be collected by the fretful waitstaff. “If you have something to say just speak your fucking mind, it’s less creepy than you staring blankly like you’re stoned or something.”

God, what Otabek wouldn’t give to be stoned right now. Anything to ease the pain of the bullshit grating on his poor nerves.

“I’d prefer to call my status ‘glorified baby monitor’” Otabek muttered under his breath.

Yuri whirled around, heels clicking against the immaculately polished tile as he stalked back towards Otabek. 

“The fuck did you just say?!” 

Otabek cocked a brow.

Yuri wanted him to speak his mind? 

Fine.

“I said;” He cleared his throat, raising his voice. “I’m more of a glorified baby monitor than a bodyguard, seeing as I have to sit here and listen to you bitch and whine and kick and scream until your pretty little face is blue and not do anything. You think I’m a shit bodyguard? What kind of Bratva heir sits around and disrespects his men who are supposed to trust him and throw a fucking tantrum every time he doesn’t get his way because he’s too much of a spoiled fucking bra-”

A sharp crack echoed around the cacophonous walls of the room, Otabek’s cheek burning as Yuri fisted his hands in Otabek’s shirt. 

“Don’t you dare speak to me like that, you insolent little fuck!” Yuri snarled, Veridian eyes alight with fury.

“Talking about yourself, sweetheart? You asked me to speak my mind.” 

Otabek admittedly had to shift his rigid stance to prevent himself from stumbling back at the force of Yuri’s next blow; his cheek stinging harder and an unfortunately familiar metallic flavour of his own blood dripping onto his tongue from an abrasion on his bottom lip. 

Kid hits hard.

Otabek grunted softly, wiping the blood away from his bottom lip with the back of his hand, eying the smear of vermillion on his golden skin before flicking his gaze back to the fuming young man.

“Never speak to me like that again.” Yuri snarled. “I could say one thing and have grandpa take care of your sorry little ass, don’t even think of laying a hand on me or your body will be dragging along the bed of the Moskva river within the next three hours.”

“You don’t scare me.” Otabek replied coolly. “You’re just a spoiled brat who thinks he can intimidate me with a hissy fit. You don’t have any real power. You’re like a pretty little bird in a fancy cage that squawks all the time. You’re annoying but too precious to discard.” 

“Say one more thing and I will claw out your tongue and shove it up your worthless ass.” 

“Probably the most legitimate threat I’ve heard from you. Gonna use me as your scratching post for your declawed little paws?”

Motherfu-”

“Will you two just stop flirting and fuck already? It’s such a tease to watch.” Came a smug call.

Otabek withheld a groan, spying an equally irritated and disgusted look overtake Yuri’s features. Otabek knew that Quebecois accent wrapped so slickly around Russian phonetics could only mean one person. The rubber soles of his sneakers – why sneakers? Why was he so unprofessional? – squeak against the polished floors.

“Leroy.” Otabek sighed. He wanted to pinch his brow.

“Otabek! Looking downright fuckable as usual.” Leroy hummed, swatting Otabek’s ass with a crooked grin. “It’s been a while, how’s babysitting?”

Good God, did Otabek want to punch him in his smug, perfect face. 

“Of course you assholes know each other. Undercuts are the token haircut of a douchebag.” Yuri hissed, eyes narrowing in spite. 

“And hello to you, beautiful. Aren’t you just a sight for sore eyes, all dressed up in the most expensive nothingness blood money can buy?” Leroy mock saluted before slinging an arm over Otabek’s tense shoulders. 

“I’ll make your eyes sore in a minute.” Yuri growled.

“Believe me, I’d be happy to help.” Otabek rolled his eyes.

“Hey, I got you two lovebirds to agree on something! I really am a matchmaker, aren’t I? First Leo and Guang-Hong, now you two.” Leroy sighed wistfully, leaning his head against Otabek’s.

Otabek’s hand twitched for his sidearm. It would be so easy to just shoot the bastard in the side. 

“Guang-Hong is just fucking that cartel kid for financial gain. And apparently the sex is good.” Yuri sniffed, folding his arms.

“Naïve little Yurachka-”

“You don’t get to call me that, asshole.”

“Sweet little Yura-”

“Keep this up and I will take his handgun and shoot you with it.”

“Believe me sweetheart, I’d do it first.” Otabek groused. 

“On pet names already? You guys get on like a house on fire. Anyway, its more than sex but neither are gonna admit it. You should see the marks Leo has on him. Always the shy ones, huh, right Bek?”

Please stop talking and just fuck off.”

“Speaking of fucking… you free tonight or is this position of yours a helicopter parent deal?”

Otabek groaned inwardly, attempting to shrug Leroy off of him and pinching his brow.

“Aren’t you married?”

“Happily, but we’re open. So, if you’re down…”

“He’s busy.” Yuri cut in, startling them both.

“Ooh, Kitty has claws after all.”

“You came here for a reason, Leroy. Be done with it and go stand in the road.” Yuri waved his slender hand, turning around and reaching for the hem of the hoodie. “I need to change out of this, get the fuck out.”

Always one to follow orders, Otabek stepped out into the hall.

Leroy was just another headache. This was going to be a long night.

Otabek cracked his neck as he settled into place, back against one of the two pale columns bracketing the broad double doors, looming eerily behind them. He gave a cursory nod of acknowledgement to the varied lower ranking grunts dotted along the corridor, each posted by a door and clad in a similar dress shirt and jeans or slacks styling to himself. Most of the men in Nikolai’s ranks were on loan from the Babichev, Feltsman, Nikiforov and Baranovsky Bratvas, as Nikolai preferred to keep his ranks small and his inner circle as tight as possible.

“You holding up alright?” Leroy asked long after the heavy double doors finally closed behind them, his cocky demeanour shifting back to the Jean Otabek had known in his teenage years. “You seem stressed out.”

“Do I now?” Otabek replied impassively, arms folded tightly against his chest.

“Your face doesn’t show it, but I’ve known you long enough to know that you’re at your wits end by now. How long has it been, a week?”

“Something like that. All he does is kick and scream and swear and threaten and complain, he’s like a super clingy psychotic boyfriend.”

“So you do want to fuck him.” Jean smirked, wiggling his brows.

“This is a job, nothing more, nothing less. Get your mind out of the gutter.”

“You’re like my brother, Bek. I want you to be with the highest grade piece of ass in this underground.” Jean-Jacques snickered, elbowing Otabek before dropping his voice to a low murmur. “Speaking of family… I pulled up some leads on-”

“Not here. Tell me another time.” Otabek cut him off. “I still don’t trust anyone around here yet.”

“You never trust anyone, regardless of what position or what family you’re working in.” Jean remarked, an air of bitterness in his tone. He had always been Otabek’s more trusting, more sociable foil. Even up until recently, Otabek didn’t fully trust Jean. He knew Jean resented this. It was one of the many reasons they never worked out.

“Comes with the job.”

“Ah, but you trust me, eh?”

“Vaguely.”

“That means a whole lot coming from a chatterbox like you, Bek.” 

“Get fucked, Leroy.”

“Taking me up on that offer now huh?”

“No. You know the fact that you’re in a committed relationship doesn’t sit well with me.” 

Another thick silence washed over the pair, the minutes lapsing by languidly like the waves upon a night-time shore.

“So honourable, right to the end.”

“With a charge like that, I’m going to be begging for an end within a week.”

“Oh really?”

Otabek made a grunt of acknowledgement, his knuckles resting against the magazine cases of his handguns as he tucked his fists under his arms, tongue peeking out to run over the tiny, jagged split in his lip. 

His cheek still stung, the memory of Yuri having the audacity to strike him not once, but twice, still fresh in his mind. He was surprised the younger man didn’t claw at his face. It was more fitting of his feline character to do so. 

“Is that blood?” Jean asked after a beat of silence, pointing at the crimson still smudged onto the back of Otabek’s hand. “Don’t lie, I know blood when I see it. Did something happen?”

“The skinny little fucker hit me.” Otabek shrugged.

“Is taking this part of the job?”

“He won’t listen to Nikolai anyway, so I never brought it to him. Kid does what he wants.”

“He’s not a kid, Bek.”

“I know, he screams it at everyone all the time.” Otabek sighed, watching one of the grunts posted by the elevator roll up a cigarette from the bag of tobacco stashed in his jacket. Another one, a white haired woman, plucked a black box from her jacket and withdrew a white stick from it. Otabek tipped his head back against the wall and sighed. “Fuck, I need a smoke.”

“Bek, you quit two years ago. He can’t be that bad.”

“You’re not spending every waking fucking moment with him.”

“Speaking which…” Jean said slowly, turning and cocking his head towards the door. “Does he normally take this long to change?”

Chapter Text

Otabek paused, blinking before turning on his heel and shoving the doors open.

The heavy alabaster doors slammed against the walls as Otabek stormed in to find the lavishly decorated room missing the one item in there that mattered. Yuri. 

“Yuri?” Otabek called, his feet carrying him to fervently search the room, wrenching open doors and drawers only to slam them shut.

Beside him, the wind whispered against his ear from the open window, the cold air licking against the exposed skin of his forearms, left bare when Otabek had pushed the sleeves up to his elbows. As if a hawk stalking its prey, Otabek’s attention snapped to the open window. 

Nikolai had always barred Yuri’s windows, ever since early childhood, according to Mila.

As annoying as the brat was, Otabek did feel a pang of pity deep in his chest that someone so young had to lead such a restricted life.

The drawers beside Yuri’s bed were empty and open, one of the countless studded leather and animal print bags missing from his closet, the window still spewing the frosty Muscovite night air into the spacious room. 

Otabek sighed, scrubbing his hand over his face.

Yuri, the skinny little bastard, had fucked off into the streets in the middle of the night. He could be anywhere by now; he had a rather daunting habit of being able to sprint at speeds enviable of an athlete in the thinnest and highest heels. 

Otabek didn’t know enough about Yuri to have a clue of where he could have gone. 

“I’ll send some grunts around the estate and around the area to find him.” 

“No, no… he’s too smart for that.” Otabek murmured. “I don’t know much about him but I know he’s smarter than he acts.”

“Meaning?”

“He’s already figured out ways to spot and elude us.”

“Fuck, true.” Jean cursed, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I need to speak to Nikolai anyway, I have intel. I’ll try to buy you guys as much time as you need to find him.”

“Thank you.”

“Otabek?” a female voice called. “Where’s Yura? What happened to him.”

“I don’t know. He asked us to step out so he could change and-”

“He made a break for it? Bek, those bars are solid steel. Kolya had those commissioned years ago and they haven’t corroded, bent or budged since. He would have needed to saw them away.”

“Mila, the window’s right fucking open, go take a look.” Otabek sighed exasperatedly, taking a seat on the blush, gaudily printed pink tiger print couch. 

She stormed over to the window, leering out of it and slamming the window shut with a stream of expletives so severe it would have made even Yuri gawk in shock and mild horror.

“He’s gone alright.”

“Told you.”

“Where… where could he be?” Mila muttered, resting her chin on her fist. 

“Fuck if I know, you know him better than I do.”

“I was thinking aloud you brick brained meathead.”

Otabek huffed, leaning against the wall, running a hand through his hair.

This was it.

One week into the job, he’d already lost is charge. He was fucking hopeless. 

Nikolai Plisetsky didn’t strike Otabek as a man who would execute by firing squad, especially with a matter this personal, he’d want to take matters into his own hands, be the gunman. 

Fuck, fuck, fucking fuck.

In his back pocket, his phone vibrated. He brushed it off as a text. But it kept going. 

A call? Now?

He pulled it out, the caller ID glowing white at him in the dim lighting of the room.

+1-202-555-0170 the screen read. 

Leo.

An old friend of Otabek’s, a cartel heir who happened to be surprisingly pure in his ways for his profession, as were the rest of his family, who usually smuggled medication that was usually overpriced and marijuana across the American continents. Leo had gone to the same catholic school as JJ, if Otabek’s memory sufficed, and the two had become fast friends, Leo having shared some of his family’s supply with their classmates in his teenage years, and JJ smiling up at teachers with his pretty blue eyes, twisted the truth enough for the both of them to get off scot-free. 

While close, given Otabek’s history, Otabek was only contacted directly by him when it was a serious affair.

“The fuck do you want?” Otabek sighed gruffly, holding the phone to his ear, pinching his brow as he paced the length of the enormous room.

“Ay Dios, pues, you kiss your Madre with that mouth, vato?” The familiar American accent chuckled, the Russian mixed with Spanish familiar but still occasionally confusing to his ears.

“This is not a good time to proposition me for a job, de la Iglesia.”

“Oof, someone’s stressed. Heard you took a job from Old Man Plisetsky, last I heard I was pretty sure el Viejo had kicked it.”

“This really is not a good time.”

“Lost his kid, right?”

Otabek’s blood ran cold.

“Did Leroy tell you?”

“I fuckin’ wish, that cabrón hasn’t spoken to me since his wedding. He’s at the Madness Gentleman’s Club.”

“The what.”

“You need directions? ‘Because you don’t strike me as the type to come to these types of places.”

“Where did you see him?”

“Oh,” Leo’s voice crackled through the tinny speakers of his phone. “I still have eyes on him. Kinda hard to look away, he’s on the central pole.”

“Nikolai is gonna skin me alive.”

“I’ll get Guang-Hong to keep him occupied ‘til you get here.”

“Thank you.”

“You owe me, Bek.”

Otabek hung up with a sigh of relief, tipping his head back against the doorframe.

“What was that about?” Mila asked from the other side of the room, thin fingers nervously playing at the leather strap of her shoulder holster.

“Leo de la Iglesia found Yuri. He’s at the Madness Gentleman’s club.” 

“Madness? Why is Yuri there?” 

“I don’t know, but he’s my responsibility. I’ll go get him, make sure Nikolai doesn’t find out.”

Mila shot him a lazy salute as he picked up his biker jacket, the smooth, worn black leather a welcome embrace, familiar and soft with age. He pocketed his phone and tugged the jacket against his sides, careful to conceal the two handguns on either side of his chest, suspended by his shoulder holsters. 

“Take my car.” Mila called, tossing Otabek her keys. “He’ll be harder to restrain on your motorbike.”

He nodded, walking briskly through the halls, pushing past the numbers of grunts milling about lazily. 

As he flung himself into the driver’s seat of the sleek, black Centenario, Otabek tried not to think about his impending potential execution, revving the engine and racing out of the garage. Whatever repetitive, smoky voiced drivel that was already playing from her radio blurred into one as Otabek raced through the streets of Moscow, the rain streaking down the windows of the car. 

He slowed to a stop in front of a traffic light. Knuckles clenched against the steering wheel, he reminded himself firmly that he didn’t need any extra attention from skipping lights in such a flashy car. The familiar purr of a motorcycle hummed beside him, the leather clad rider flicked up their helmet, leering at Otabek with a competitive glint in their dark eyes, revving their engine firmly.

Otabek forced himself to roll his eyes and turned his attention back to the road, despite how much he craved the rush of a street race. He had a mission, he had responsibilities, he couldn’t just throw that aside for the sweet burst of adrenaline. Otabek clenched his fingers around the wheel, knuckles a pale yellow in contrast to his rich, tan skin.

Soon enough, he was bathed in the saccharine magenta glow of the neon cursive looped outside the so-called establishment. He veered to a halt on the opposite side of the road, stepping out of the car and stalking toward the door, pushing past the lengthy line barely restrained by the cheap fake velvet rope until he came face to face with the bouncer.

“The back of the line is that way, short stack.” He grumbled. Otabek said nothing in response, pressing forth calmly and firmly. “I said; the back of the line is that way.”

His thick, hairy-knuckled hands gripped Otabek by the arms, holding him still as his beady black eyes glared down at him. Otabek narrowed his eyes. He didn’t have time for this bullshit. 

“Let go of me.” He said calmly, plucking the man’s hand from his arm and gripping his palm tightly, not missing the sharp grunt of pain that huffed past his thin lips. “Let go of me, and I won’t break both of your hands and shove your head right up your ass, where it so truly deserves to be.”

“That fucking hurts!” He snapped, gripping Otabek tighter and trying to tear his hand from Otabek’s firm grip.

“That hurts? You’re pathetic.” Otabek tutted, shifting his hand back to wrap around the bouncers fingers, jerking them back sharply until they cracked sickeningly, earning a howl from the larger man as Otabek brought his knee up swiftly into the mans’ groin with a pitiful cry.

As the bouncer collapsed onto the ground in a bawling heap, Otabek tore himself away from his grip and pushed past the heavy black doors into the club. His senses were immediately assaulted as he entered, attempting to scan the room for Yuri amidst the thick musk of unrestrained wanton lust and cheap alcohol, the saccharine lilac and pink hues of the spotlights stinging his eyes, the desperate hollers of the perverted patrons waving fistfuls of rubles at the long-legged dancers almost drowning out the husky voiced purring of the vocals and thumping bass playing overhead. 

He cursed to himself, pushing through the throngs of despairing perverts and adulterers toward the stage, catching an all to familiar flash of flowing blond hair on the stage, ignoring the bitter snarls hissed at him on beer-drenched breath. 

“Want to get nice and close? Fine!” Someone growled at him, shoving him against the foundations of the stage.

Otabek would have whirled back to deal with the man behind him if not for the display before him.

Miles and miles of unmarked, porcelain skin wrapped in thin strips of black leather and mesh, slender limbs wrapped around the thin golden pillar of the pole, thick golden locks falling into venomous emerald eyes sharpened by deep violet eyeshadow and sharp black liner, lips parted and slicked with pink gloss until strands of hair stuck to them.

I need a Gangsta,

To love me better,

Than all the others do,

Yuri reached up with a slender arm, wrapping his thin fingers around the pole and softly dragging his body in a lazy circle around the pole, shiny black heels impossibly high as they dragged against the stage. He stopped after a half circle, bending backwards and arching his spine, the lashings of leather stark against his pale skin as they curved with his frame. He hung his arm limply, knuckles grazing the floor ever so slightly as his hair fell in a soft golden curtain, stained a soft pink by the sickly magenta spotlights. 

To always forgive me,

He spun around swiftly, almost weightlessly as he slid his hand higher up the pole, biceps and shoulders flexing as he began to hoist himself off of the floor.

Ride or die with me,

That’s just what Gangsta’s do…

Almost ethereally, like some kind of sinful dark angel, Yuri floated above the stage around the pole, hands tight around it’s sleek circumference as his body tensed to maintain the clean spread eagle formation he swung in. Otabek felt his face heat as he began to notice the lines of sinewy muscle leading up to the rounded swell of Yuri’s ass.

He brought his right knee closer to the pole, the thin line of his thong wedging further between the cleft of Yuri’s ass and accentuating the shape of it, his head thrown back in a display of faux-ecstasy that made Otabek’s breath catch in his already dry throat.

Otabek tried to ignore the sweat collecting against his palms and forehead as he watched the display, transfixed and unable to turn away. The click of Yuri’s heels hitting the stage was muted under the rhythmic bass of the song as he landed, twirling around the pole and stooping to pick up a handful of rubles, stuffing them in the waistband of his thong before the verse started again, hiking his left leg back up to the pole and hooking the metal behind the stiletto of his heel, using that momentum to bring himself up.

I’m fucked up,

I’m black ‘n blue,

He twisted his left leg around the pole, straightening it to wrap around the pole as he loosely folded the right around the pole, pressing his torso close to it and arching his shoulders and head away from it.

I’m built for it,

All the abuse,

I’ve got secrets, 

That nobody, nobody knows

Yuri twisted his body in an almost serpentine fashion, wrapping the back of his midsection around the pole and reaching his right hand up and around the pole, holding it in the bend of his elbow as he spun. 

I’m good on, that pussy shit

In an admittedly remarkable display of athleticism, Yuri reached down to grab his right thigh and pull it straight, curling his left leg tightly around the pole. 

I don’t want, what I can get

He drew his knees back up to his chest, thighs and shins tight around the pole and ankles locked together as he spun. 

I got secrets, that nobody, nobody knows

He slowed down, straightening his legs out around the pole and slipping down until his heels touched the floor again. 

I need a Gangsta,

To love me better,

Than all the others do

Yuri stood shoulder-width apart, shaking the hair out of his eyes as he slowly sank to the floor, knees bending and arms behind his back. As he sank into a squat, his violet laden eyes slid open, revealing hooded emerald eyes as he glanced down at Otabek, sultry for a moment before his eyes snapped wide open.

He snapped to his feet, letting go of the pole and rapidly signalling the MC to cut off the music, grabbing an armful of bills and sprinting offstage. The disgruntled boos and hollers of the men around Otabek echoed in his ears, a hand on his shoulder pulling him out of the crowd and out of his reverie. 

“Took you long enough.”

“Leo.” Otabek said flatly. 

“I was wondering when he’d notice you. You’ve been gawking at him since you came in.” The American whistled, his hands pushed into his pockets.

“I don’t have time for this small talk, Leo.”

“Oh, I know. He’s in the back, c’mon.”

Otabek clenched his jaw in irritation and nodded, following Leo through the crowds, weaving through the collected gaggle of desperate, depraved men. He shrugged off the flirtatious hands pawing at his shoulders and biceps, ignoring the breathy calls and offers from dancers trying to get a private dance or two out of him.

Leo pulled a heavy faux-velvet curtain aside, revealing a plain black door ahead. He rapped his knuckles against the thin wood. 

“You decent in there?” He asked before the door swung open, revealing an annoyed looking Guang-Hong Ji, clad in a pink silk and ostrich feather gown.

“I told you not to come out here until after the club closed.” He frowned through tightly grit pearly white teeth. “And what’s he doing here?” he flicked his black lined eyes in Otabek’s direction. 

“Where’s Plisetsky?” Leo asked, folding his arms over his chest.

“Who said you could talk to me like that?” Guang-Hong snapped back, grabbing Leo by his shirt. “Did I say you could demand shit from me, hm?”

“N-no sir. B-But I need your help. Please.” Leo pleaded, his voice taking on a much whinier tone than Otabek had ever heard him use in all the years he had known him.

Guang-Hong glanced between Otabek and Leo, his lips pressed into a thin line before he rolled his eyes and sighed, letting go of Leo roughly.

“Fine. But you’re gonna have to make up for it later, Pretty Boy.” He growled. Otabek’s brows furrowed as Leo blushed and nodded, shivering and straightening his shirt out. “He was changing, but he was rushing. He’s in the back.”

“Thank you so much.” Leo said quickly, squeezing Guang-Hong’s arm and kissing his temple.

“Not in public.” Guang-Hong snapped in reply, pulling a fistful of Leo’s hair and tugging him behind him. “Make it quick, Altin. I don’t want a scene in my establishment. Leo, go with him. Yuri will try and run and fight, he always does. Don’t intervene in the fighting, that’s what Old Man Plisetsky pays him for.” He reached up, cupping Leo’s jaw. “Besides, I’m the only one allowed to leave a mark on you.”

Otabek nodded, blinking away his confusion as he stalked past the two young men, Guang-Hong releasing Leo from his grip. His soft rose coloured gown flowed behind him as he stepped onto the stage, shedding it and handing it to a tall woman in a sleek suit and black sunglasses. 

“It’s complicated.” Leo told him as they pushed thrrough the crowded dressing room.

“So Leroy tells me.” Otabek replied stiffly. “God, I need a fucking smoke after this.” He muttered.

“You just quit.” 

“Two years ago. Why do you and Leroy act like my parents?”

“Please, he’s a dead-beat dad at best-” 

Otabek held his arm out against Leo’s chest to stop him as his gaze fell on Yuri, who happened to be struggling with the back door and cursing in a fashion incredibly in character for him. He pressed his foot against the door – Otabek noted he had switched from the impossibly high heels to a pair of studded Chucks – attempting to kick it down or gain some kind of leverage to yank it off of its frosty hinges.

Otabek gripped Yuri’s wrist firmly, pulling him from the door.

“Don’t make a scene, okay?” Otabek hissed, squeezing his hand tight around Yuri’s thin wrist. “You can scream at me all you want in the car, but I’m taking you home before your grandfather finds out and shoots me between the eyes at point blank range.”

Yuri opened his mouth to speak and clicked it shut, glaring at Otabek before re-shouldering his Chanel duffle bag and nodding sharply, tugging his wrist from Otabek’s grasp.

“Don’t drag me, got it? I won’t run, I’ll follow you.” Yuri sighed.

Even though Otabek assumed Yuri was typically a man of his word, having been raised by the solemn Nikolai Plisetsky, he kept his eyes on the slight man as they stepped through the depravity and desperation of the club, pushing past the door. Otabek would have lied if he said he didn’t find the bent stance of the bouncer filled him with a morbid sense of pride and amusement.

“Guessing that’s your doing?” Yuri asked, tilting his head toward the man.

“No comment.”

“You’re a stick in the mud, but respect. That guy is a creep.”

“Everyone here is a creep.” Otabek said plainly unlocking the bright red car 

“That would make you one too, technically, but I already knew that.”

Otabek clenched his jaw in irritation, swinging into his seat and slamming the door behind him, eyeing Yuri suspiciously as he shut his door and buckled his belt in, securing him to the seat.

“You gave me a fucking heart attack.” Otabek frowned, eyes on the road as he felt Yuri seething in rage beside him. “I can’t do my job when you make it so difficult that I have to go on a wild goose chase after you in the middle of the goddamn night.”

“Your job is to keep me cooped up so I have no fun.”

“My job is to make sure you don’t get hurt, kidnapped, or killed. A lot of people would be happy to get their paws on the Prince of the Plisetsky bratva.”

“Is it, now?” Yuri said sarcastically, glaring at Otabek. Otabek inhaled deeply, hands tight around the steering wheel.

“Let’s just get you back to the estate before your grandfather finds out and skins me alive.” Otabek ground out. “I have to obey him, he’s my boss. My loyalty is why I was recommended to him.”

“For someone who waxes on and on about loyalty and honour, you aren’t the most truthful, are you, Sultan Usenov.”

Otabek’s eyes widened, his breath catching as bile rose in his throat and his blood went cold. He veered the car sharply off the road, screeching to a halt.

That name… no one had called him that, not in years.

He remembered his father’s mirthless smirk, eyes cold as the life drained from his body.

“Sultan…” He spat, the blood slick on his crooked smirk, the dim streetlights making the crimson liquid shine. “My only son, my biggest disappointment. What cruel irony it is that I fall to the blade of my own son. I suppose you have finally proven yourself enough of a man to even be worthy of my legacy.”

Otabek’s fist clenched around his knife, eyes stinging with tears yet he held his face firm in a blank glare.

“I don’t want anything to do with you, or your corruption. You betrayed us, threw my mother, your own parents in prison just to cover your tracks. You disgust me. Dying in a ditch is too good for you, consider your death here a mercy.” Otabek replied coldly, wiping the blood away from his cheek with the sleeve of his hoodie, peaking out of his biker jacket.

He sheathed his blade, slipping it back into his pocket, turning on his heel away from the poor excuse of a man bleeding out in the gutter.

“You’re weak, Sultan! Just like your mother!”

“No… she isn’t. And I’m not either.”

That was the day Sultan Usenov died, the day Otabek Altin was born.

Or so he thought.

He could feel how Yuri’s smug smirk bore into him, filled with a wicked satisfaction at hitting the rawest nerve he could possibly hit.

“Where did you hear that name?” Otabek asked slowly, trying not to show any signs of weakness as he levelled his breathing and relaxed his shoulders.

“I like to do my homework on my companions, a habit I got from Grandpa. If you have someone around you, you’re going to need what they’re really about.”  Yuri replied, taking a sudden interest in his nails. “Your old man was quite the traitor, and that’s coming from me. Sold out his pregnant wife and his own parents? That’s cold.”

“Fuck this, shut up, sit your ass down. I’m taking back to the estate and you’re not leaving your room until morning.”

“You’re not my fucking mother!”

“I told you to shut up didn’t I?” Otabek said coldly, revving the engine. “I won’t tell your grandfather about this shit, so I suggest you shut up and be grateful, if that’s even physically possible.”

Yuri growled something under his breath, folding his arms tight around his chest as he glared out of the window.

Surprisingly, he listened to Otabek, storming upstairs to his room in a silent fervour, slamming his door in Otabek’s face. He felt something brush up against his thigh, a soft purr humming nearby. Otabek looked down to spot the latte coloured coat of Potya, Yuri’s undeservedly adorable cat, his coffee coloured paw palming at his ankle through his trousers. He bent over, scooping up the cat and petting his soft fur.

“He’s in a bad mood, as always.” Otabek murmured, scratching the cat behind the ears. “He probably needs you right now.” He let the cat down and watched him hop through the cat flap, turning on his heel to walk back toward his quarters.

As he headed down the winding grand staircase, Otabek noticed Mila dragging a very limp Jean-Jacques to one of the front doors. She gave a tired salute, visibly relieved that Otabek had brought the prince back to the castle, in a manner of speaking.

“What’s wrong with him?” Otabek asked, raising a brow as Jean-Jacques’ head snapped up, eyes hazy and a very obvious flush on his features, the stench of alcohol thick on his breath.

“Bbbeeeeekaaaa! Why are you sssso ssseriouss all the time! You’re too pretttty to be ssso grumpy.” He slurred.

“He wound up drinking with Kolya to keep him distracted from the whole Yura situation.” Mila explained.

“As if tonight wasn’t enough of a headache already.” Otabek muttered, rolling his eyes. “Sober him up, his wife will give you and him an earful otherwise.”

“Aw, but Bella’s hot when she’s mad.” Mila whined, tugging Jean-Jacques’ arm tighter over her shoulders as he began to slip onto the floor.

“She really is.” Jean-Jacques agreed dreamily. “OOOOOtabekkk why are you ssscowling lllike that? Are you mad because you could have been Issabella?”

“Leroy, now isn’t the time for this.” Otabek growled. “Get him out of here.”

“Wait, were you two-”

Mila. Get him out of here.”

“Okay, but we’re talking about this later.”

“I’m going to bed.” Otabek said curtly, turning on his heel to walk in the direction of his quarters.

In the short time Otabek had taken his position here, he had little time in his personal quarters, and as a consequence had been running on very little sleep. The décor of the estate was relatively sparse and uniform, and as Otabek stopped in front of yet another black door, he prayed to himself it was the right room. He gripped the door handle, pulling it down and pushing the door open with a muted click, sighing in relief as he found his assumption was correct, having been met with the neat organisation and soft neutral tones of his room.

He kicked the door shut behind him, rolling his shoulders and cracking his neck with a tired sigh as he began to unbutton his white dress shirt, walking toward the generic landscape on his wall, taking it by the frame and lifting it off the wall, setting it down gingerly as he pulled the sleek black box that contained his regular, daily arsenal.

He set the box down onto the bed, tugging the small key from around his neck and unlocking the box. Otabek removed both handguns from his shoulder holsters, clicking the safety setting back on for both of them before repeating the same process with the pistols at the small of his back, shedding their holsters and folding them up on his nightstand.

One by one, Otabek stripped himself of his defences and locked them back away, replacing the landscape in front of them before unbuckling his belt and tossing it onto his bed, kicking off his boots and untucking his dress shirt from his trousers. He stripped as he sauntered to his bathroom, tossing his clothes into the hamper and stepping into the shower, turning it on and letting the water heat up, the thick swathes of steam fill the small room, painting the glass of the shower walls and the mirror in it’s misty embrace. He stepped under the spray with a weary sigh, letting the steady rain beat against his skin as his eyelids slid over his eyes in a tired curtain.