31 October 2003, St. Petersburg, Russia
“I don’t understand,” a tearful Alexei said as his fingers traced the now worn down headstone that read Alexei Yagudin, 18 March 1980-19 March 1980. “Are you saying I’m not your son?”
His mother looked at him sadly. “Biologically? No.”
“Lyosha,” she said, kneeling down next to him. “It doesn’t change the fact that I did raise you as my own son. It doesn’t change that I am so proud of you. It doesn’t change the fact that I love you.”
Alexei swallowed, trying to take all this in. “Why didn’t you tell me before now?”
“I had planned on telling you when you turned eighteen, but then you went into competition, and I didn’t want to distract you from your goals, especially since you had the Olympics in mind.”
Alexei’s hand grazed over the name again. “Who are my real parents, then?”
“I don’t know. When I found you, your father was begging me to take you in. He said that your mother was already dead and that he was dying himself. As far as I know, they’re both dead.” She hugged Alexei. “I’m sure, wherever they are, they’re as proud of you as I am.”
Alexei was silent for a long time, letting that sink in, before finally asking, “why are you telling me now?”
“You deserved to know the truth, or as much truth as I know.”
Evgeni Plushenko was surprised when he opened the door to his apartment to find Alexei Yagudin there.
“Yagudin,” he said bitterly, still angry over losing the gold medal to him. His eyes widened as Alexei lifted his head up to reveal tear tracks on his face.
“I didn’t know who else to turn to, Zhenya.”
With a worried look on his face, Evgeni ushered his rival into the apartment he was currently living in. “What’s wrong?”
Alexei sank down into a chair, head in his hands. “I just found out I’m adopted.”
Whatever Evgeni had been expecting, it wasn’t that. “What?”
“The real Alexei, he died when he was a day old, and then my mother found me, my birth father begged her to take me in, saying my mother was dead and he was dying, and I’ve been raised as her son since, but I just found out I’m not, and…”
“Lyosha!” Evgeni said, taking hold of Alexei’s shoulders. “Shh, I get it. I…come here.” He wrapped his arms around Alexei.
“I’m sorry to dump all this on you, but I didn’t know who else to go to.”
“It’s fine.” While he was not on the best of terms with Alexei right now, Evgeni did remember that they were friends once upon a time, and couldn’t help feeling compassion when the older skater was clearly distressed.
“I feel like my entire life was a lie.”
“Don’t say that. Your birth father, he did the best thing he could for you, giving you to your mother so you could have a life.”
“I don’t even know who I am!”
“I do. You’re Alexei Yagudin, figure skater, Olympic champion, and friend. I know it doesn’t really matter to me that you weren’t who you thought you were. I…” Evgeni looked away. “I still want to try to become friends again, now that you’re retired.”
Alexei sniffed as he looked at Evgeni. “I’m going through an identity crisis, Zhenya, I’m not the best person to befriend right now.”
“I still want to try.”
2 April 2004, St. Petersburg, Russia
Alexei stared at the blinking cursor. He had been busy working on his autobiography, and had gotten to the part where he had announced his retirement. He was unsure whether to keep in the part after that.
Namely, whether he should tell the readers that he found out he was adopted.
He had always prided himself on being truthful, but if he revealed that big tidbit in his book, that would raise plenty of questions: namely, why he had posed as Alexei Yagudin, who had died in 1980, for twenty-four years. And this could affect his mother as well.
Alexei hit the backspace button, erasing everything he had typed about those moments. While he had come to terms with not being his mother’s biological son, that was between her, him, and Evgeni, who had helped Alexei through his identity crisis like he said he would.
Alexei smiled as he thought about the young Russian-currently in training, with the 2006 Olympics as his target. With him retired and no other country posing a threat as of yet, Evgeni was hell-bent on taking home the gold. He wished him luck.
Alexei made a note in the margin. There was something else he would need to leave out of his book.
16 June 2005, St. Petersburg, Russia
“So I heard your book came out in Japan.”
Alexei looked up, smirking at Evgeni. “Yes.”
“Why not Russia first?”
“I suspect insanity on my publisher’s part.”
“I got one of the Japanese skaters to translate it for me.”
“Oh?” Alexei asked, raising an eyebrow. “What did you think?”
“I liked it. I just noticed something.” Evgeni set down his cup of coffee. “You didn’t say anything about…you know. The Great Identity Crisis of 2003.”
Alexei rolled his eyes. “You and your grand nicknames. No, I didn’t. I decided it wouldn’t be worth the controversy. You and my mother are the only ones to know. Let’s keep it that way.”
Evgeni smiled. “I suppose it would be for the best.”
“It’s not like it’s the only thing I cut out of the book.”
“Yes.” Alexei got up and took one of Evgeni’s hands in his. “I left out the part where I confessed my love to you.”
Evgeni looked confused. “But that never happened.”
“That’s because it’s happening right now.”
“I don’t…oh,” Evgeni said in awe. “I…” Words failing him, he pulled Alexei closer and kissed him.
16 February 2006, Torino, Italy
“I DID IT!” Evgeni hollered as he almost knocked Alexei over in his exuberance.
Alexei laughed. “Yes, you did. So how does it feel to be an Olympic champion?”
“Wonderful! I could celebrate all night!” Evgeni began rifling through the hotel closet looking for just the right outfit to wear. “You will come with me, yes?”
“Of course, Zhenya. And later, we can have our own private celebration of our own.”
Evgeni couldn’t keep the grin off his face. “I’m going to shower before we go.” And he went into the bathroom.
Alexei couldn’t help smiling. He remembered when he had won his own gold, and how bouncy he was afterward. Things had been different between them, then, but now, Alexei put good money down on really enthusiastic sex being on the horizon.
With time to kill, Alexei turned on the tv, setting as his challenge ‘find a sports story that isn’t about the Olympics’. Eventually, he found one. An entire segment on motorsport.
They spent time discussing some of them, before finally ending on Ferrari, their home F1 team. Alexei tuned in and out of the television, but looked up at just the right moment to see Ferrari’s two drivers, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher, on the screen.
Alexei sat up. When he looked upon Schumacher, he was suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of familiarity. He’s heard of the man, what European hasn’t, but this was the first time he ever saw him.
And suddenly he wanted to reach out for him.
Alexei didn’t know why.
The tv moved on to national news, but Alexei kept staring at the tv until he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Lyosha?” Evgeni looked down on him. “What’s wrong?”
Alexei shook his head. “Nothing, I just…suddenly experienced déjà vu for someone I never met before.”
“Odd. Are you ready to go?”
Alexei turned off the tv. “Yeah.”
18 February 2010, Vancouver, Canada
“THIS IS BULLSHIT!”
“Zhenya, please, not so loud!” Alexei pleaded as he walked quickly to catch up to a fuming Evgeni, positive he’s been cheated out of a second gold medal by biased judges.
“I don’t care! They are insane to give Lysacek the gold!”
“May I remind you that you’re not the only one to get shafted? Think of Weir.”
“I feel sorry for him too! They picked Lysacek over him cause Lysacek’s ‘safe’. FUCK SAFE!”
“He didn’t even attempt a quad, and they still give it to him! I ought to…”
He was interrupted by a flash of bright light and a muted explosion.
Both skaters looked at each other in confusion. “What the hell was that?”
A man in a suit and bow tie ran in their direction. “Run!” he yelled.
Not seeing a better choice, they did so, following him into a strange blue box.
“Yes, yes, bigger on the inside, now I need your help! You! Get on the other side and pull the blue knob!”
an hour later, the TARDIS
Well, that had been different. Evgeni and Alexei had inadvertently helped save the universe.
As they caught their breaths, they looked around at the strange bigger-on-the-inside box they had followed the strange man in.
Speaking of, where was that strange man?
“Er, yes, sorry, I seem to have accidentally taken you away from your planet and your time.”
“I promise I will get you home as soon as possible, just that the TARDIS can be a bit tricky. I’m the Doctor, by the way. And you…” it was then that the man that called himself the Doctor looked up and visibly reeled upon seeing Alexei.
Alexei looked confused. “Is there something on my face?”
“No, no.” But the Doctor still looked troubled. “You two are?”
It was taking a lot longer than they had thought to get home. Still, there were some advantages. Like seeing civilizations that not many humans in their lifetime would get to see. Evgeni calmed down from his snit over the quad and Lysacek. Alexei had some ideas for programs.
“Hey, why don’t we go here?” Alexei said, pointing to a planet. “Seems they’re having a festival that’s celebrating life.”
The Doctor stiffened. “No. No.”
“Why? Hostile toward humans?”
“It’s not that, it’s just the last time I went there it…didn’t go so well.”
“Lyosha and I will be careful, Doctor.”
“You two better. I dealt with this already with Alexei’s parents, I don’t need…” And then what the Doctor said caught up to him as Alexei and Evgeni looked at him.
“You knew my parents? My real ones?” Alexei said. The Doctor looked away. “Answer me. Please.”
“Technically…” he began, “you were born on this very TARDIS.”
Alexei was too stunned to speak. Evgeni did it for him. “He was?”
The Doctor nodded.
Alexei looked down at his hands, unsure if he should ask on or not. “Then why I was left in Soviet Russia?” he finally asked.
“It wasn’t that they didn’t love you, they just…there’s a reason I didn’t want to take you to Keathote Seven during their life festival. A long time ago, I traveled with two men. I took them there once. One of them drank an aphrodisiac that guarantees the conception of a child,” he swallowed, “even if the imbiber’s male. That’s how you came to be, Alexei.”
“You’re saying I had two fathers instead of a father and mother?”
Quietly Alexei left the control room to go to his own sleeping quarters. The Doctor and Evgeni watched his retreating back, then looked at each other.
“I shouldn’t have said this. I thought he didn’t even know…why did I open my mouth?” the Doctor said, leaning on the console.
“He knew,” Evgeni said quietly. “Our friendship rekindled after he came to me during an identity crisis when he found out he was adopted. I should talk to him.”
He had found Alexei on their bed, lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. Evgeni sat down next to him.
“Am I a freak, Zhenya?”
“Yes, I am. You heard what he said. The unwanted child of two men.”
“He never said unwanted. And it doesn’t matter.” Evgeni lied on top of Alexei and looked down on him. “It wouldn’t matter if you had two fathers, or no fathers, if you had been an alien, a robot, or a…a tentacle monster.” Alexei couldn’t help the chuckle that came out of his mouth. “What matters is that you exist and have people that still love you. You’ve got your mother, your wife, your daughter, Mishin and Tarasova, and you’ve got…you’ve got me.” He stroked Alexei’s hair. “I still love you.”
Alexei smiled. “Thank you, Zhenya.” But the smile was having a hard time reaching his eyes.
When they finally returned to the console room (after some, ahem, comforting), the Doctor looked up. “Alexei, I am sorry, I never meant…”
Alexei took a deep breath. “Is it possible for me to meet my real parents?”
The Doctor looked at him, then started to fiddle with the console. “I will try.”
“Lyosha, are you sure?” Evgeni murmured as the TARDIS took off.
“I want the full story, Zhenya.”