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Stay Close To Me

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Russian Nationals, sochi,December, 2015
Another hollow victory, another gold medal. Another soulless performance that somehow captivated the audience. But it was hollow, mediocre. I couldn’t surprise them anymore. The cold ice that was my heaven was turning into an agonising hell with every performance. It felt so tedious and tiresome to skate, to maintain that outer mask , to be the perfect Victor Nikiforov so that no one could see the weary tired skater behind the outer sheen. The interview was finally over. I sighed as I took my jacket from Yakov. ”The cab’s waiting”, he said in his gruff voice. ”I think I’ll walk, the cold Russian air seems so inviting”, I said with that bright fake smile, playing the part of the ditzy idiot. A vein popped on his head. “Dasvidanya, Yakov”, I said. ”Vitya, you idiot, you’ll get sick. Come back here and take a cab like a normal person. Don’t come crying when you fall sick and miss a competition. ”, he screamed, his voice getting fainter as I moved away from him.
I ignored him as usual as I plodded on in the snow. My mind was preoccupied while I was crossing the street. A bit too much as I failed to see the bright lights moving towards me.
I’m Katsuki Yuuri, a dime-a-dozen figure skater from japan. I messed up the grand prix finals and came last with a horrible score. I was so pathetic that I got yelled by a fifteen year old kid. And my idol failed to recognise me. It’s the japan nationals and I’m going to perform my short program now. It’s my last chance as a professional figure skater. I feel really nervous .Celestino, my coach patted my back. He was used to my crippling anxiety. The other skaters had left the rink and the warm up had finished. As usual, I was first up for the short program. I took a gulp of water and glided to the centre of the rink .My vision blurred, I was really anxious. What if I messed up again? I took a deep breath as the music started.
It was horrible. My spins were not straight and I touched down on the ice more than once. It was time for my final jump, a triple salchow. I took a deep breath and jumped .I lost my balance and hit the ice. I got up. My vision swayed but I somehow completed the last few spins and struck my ending pose. Everything was blurry, more so than usual. I felt a darkness creeping on my vision and somehow tried to stumble to the kiss and cry .But my feet slipped and I succumbed to the darkness.

I opened my eyes. My head was aching and Celestino was looking at me, worriedly. I groaned and sat up. “You passed out after the short program, Yuuri .The doctor said that you don’t have a concussion. Will you be able to skate in the free program, tomorrow?”
My mouth felt dry .I can’t believe that I’m so pathetic. ”What.. what’s my score?” I asked hesitantly. “You’re seventh”, he said. ”Now get some rest, just try better tomorrow”, he said and walked away.
I sighed and put my head on my hands. What a mess. This is even more horrible than my humiliating grand prix debut. I am a worthless person, just wasting everyone’s time.
Don’t worry
Huh? Who said that? I looked around, I was alone in the room. But the voice sounded kinda familiar. It must have been my imagination. Celestino had put my bag next to the desk. I took my phone, it was full of notifications. There were a lot of missed calls from Pichit and my family members. I called Pichit first.
“Yuuri, are you okay? I was so worried. ” I smiled. ”Yeah, Pichit-kun, I’m fine. And I’ll skate tomorrow” I said cheerfully despite the growing pit of worry in my stomach.

“Hey, Yuuri”, Pichit’s tone was uncharacteristically solemn; “Did you check your phone?”
“No, I called you as soon as I opened it, Why?”
“Victor Nikiforov … he got into an accident, Yuuri .I don’t know the details. The Russian federation is not willing to disclose any information and even his rink mates are keeping mum.”
My mouth felt dry. I remembered my horrible grand prix final, how victor had mistaken me for a fan. My dream…my stupid failed dream was to skate on the same ice as him. To become a skater worthy to be called his opponent. And his ethereal performances. But there was no way he would never skate again. There’s no way fate could be so cruel, can there?
“Yuuri? Yuuri? Are you still there?” Pichit’s voice broke me out of my thoughts. “Yeah. .It’s just, I can’t believe this, you know?” I felt weary and tired. “I’ll call you later, Pichit” I said. Then I made calls to my worried family and finally was able to fall into the clutches of sleep.

The free skate was about to start. My head still felt heavy. My sleep yesterday was filled with nightmares. But I had to skate today. I didn’t check about Victor’s accident, I would become even more depressed. I took a deep breath. Maybe this was my last skate too. The music started and I surrendered myself to the music.
My first jump was coming up. Tighten your leg. What? Where did that come from ? But there was no harm in doing so. I jumped. And nailed the triple axel. How in the world? Who was talking to me? The instructions continued and I was able to finish the free skate better than I ever did.
Celestino looked delighted. And I scored a personal best. I was panting as my arms moved from the finishing pose. I strained my ears but there was no voice. What had happened? The rest of the day passed as usual. The silver medal was heavy on my neck, an astonishing win after my dismal short skate. Some new comer had beaten me. But I was still required to go to the four continents. The medal ceremony was dull and the euphoria of winning had given way to exhaustion. I escaped as fast as I could to my room and fell on the bed. My head was pounding again.
I rubbed my temples and groaned. My legs ached and the hot bath hadn’t helped at all. I browsed through my phone, skimming through the articles speculating about Victor Nikiforov’s accident. I felt empty, too emotionally strung for any more sorrow. I sighed
“Congratulations for your silver medal, Yuuri Katsuki. I’ll be looking forward to your further performances”
“What? Who is there?” I yelled, scrambling out of bed and looking frantically around. I recognised the voice from the numerous interviews I spent my life watching. It couldn’t be…
“I’m Victor Nikiforov , Yuuri… And I’ll be possessing your body for the next season”…