Donetsk, Russia: 1995
"I can't do this anymore Ivan!" A feminine voice cries.
"You can't do what anymore Ludmilla?!" Ivan questions, his long legs pace around the antiquated house. He grabs a fistful of his platinum blonde hair, before turning to glare at his wife of eight years. She has been driving him insane for the past few months, always complaining about something. "Answer me Ludmilla! What is it that you can't do anymore?" His thick Russian accent seeps out as his voice booms with rage.
Ludmilla keeps her mouth shut for a moment, trying her best to gather the thoughts that were scrambling around in her head. Pushing her strawberry blond hair away from her face, she turns around and faces Ivan. "I can't be with you anymore, I... I can't continue to live like this. It's all too much!" She screams, tears streaming down her face as she continues to talk. "We are poor!" Ludmilla points at herself. "I Ludmilla Vobet Drago is poor and is married to a scum of a man. My father is turning in his grave right now as we speak, seeing how I'm living.
Ivan looks at his wife with bewilderment. They were going through a financial crisis, but he was trying his utmost best to keep everything intact. The house wasn't exactly in shape, but there was still electricity and he made just enough to keep food on the table. He took extra shifts at his constriction job, along with fighting more at the underground fight club. "I don't know what to tell you Ludmilla. I'm trying! I'm even fighting again."
Ludmilla glares at him. "You're not trying hard enough Ivan!" She finally lets out. "Forget about fighting! It's been ten years since you've defeated Apollo Creed and he died in that match. And let's not forget, Rocky Balboa, defeated you at the championship. There are no scouts looking to hire a killer or a loser. All our money is gone."
Ivan shakes his head in disbelief. "All my money is gone, because of you Ludmilla. You're the one who wanted the purses, the big house, the fancy cars, the name brand clothes. It's because of you we're poor. Every time I wanted to save, you wanted to spend. You always want more!"
Ludmilla pushes him, causing him to stumble back a bit. "I'm a woman. I have needs!"
Ivan rolls his eyes. "Well, your needs are why we are living like this."
"Да пошёл ты Ivan!" She curses, punching his chest repeatedly.
Ivan having enough of her failed attempt to hurt him, pushes her. Ludmilla falls to the ground, hitting her forehead on the glass coffee table. "Ludmilla!" Ivan yells, quickly rushing towards her. He didn't mean to push her so hard, he only wanted to make her stop.
Ludmilla stood up on her own, pushing Ivan's hands away from her. "Don't touch me, you Бастард!" Blood drips from her head and onto her white blouse. "Look what you did, you ruined my blouse." She shrieks. "I'm leaving Ivan and that's final! You'll never see me again!"
Ivan scoffs, trying his best not to go insane. "You know what's sad, Ludmilla?" Ivan questions. "You talk so much about leaving, but you never brought up Viktor."
"I don't give a shit about that boy. He's fuckin retarded!"
From afar five-year-old, Viktor watched as his parents went back and forth. The door was open slightly, so he decided to take a peek. Viktor, even though he was five-years-old, understood what the word retarded meant. The kids from school had called him it thousands of times and eventually even the teachers. So, it really wasn't a surprise once he heard the woman he called mother, call him it.
He used to it.
"Don't you dare call him that!" Ivan yells.
Viktor jumped back at the sound of his father’s voice. He never heard him get this loud.
"Retarded, retarded, retarded!" Ludmilla taunts. "I should've never given birth to him."
The room went silent.
Viktor waited to see what his father was going to do.
He knew that his mother hated him because he wasn't a normal child. He was a quiet child that suffered from ADHD and despite that, he tried his best to gain his mother's love. But, she never gave it to him. And he had a feeling that she never would.
Ivan's hand shot up as he prepared to hit his wife for the first time. "No Oтец!" Viktor shouted bursting into the room. He didn't want things to be worse and his father hitting his mother would definitely make it worse.
Ivan looks at his son, his hand going down instantly. He lets out a harsh breath, realizing what he was about to do. Taking a step back, he looked up at a smirking Ludmilla. "Leave." He says, his voice cracking. "Take everything you own and just leave."
Ludmilla picked up her purse and walked towards the front door. "Failures. Both of you are just failures." And with that, she walked away, leaving behind both husband and son.
Taking both their hearts with her.
Donetsk, Russia: 2018
Time× 6:30 pm
Ivan looked down at his son in disappointment, as he watched him sleep on the raggedy couch. Things had changed. They didn't live in the once-famous mansion anymore, they downsized, now living in an apartment that barely had room for both of them.
"Viktor, wake up," Ivan says, roughly pushing his son's shoulder. When Viktor didn't bulge, Ivan sent a hard slap to his face. The slap echoed throughout the whole room.
Viktor jolted awake from his sleep, his heart pounding deep within his chest. A surge of anger ran through his body, but it disappeared once his eyes connected with his father. He immediately stood up straight, gulping. It didn't take a genius to figure out that Viktor feared his father very much. "I'm up." He announced, speaking lowly.
Ivan examined his son, looking at him up and down before turning away. "Get dressed, we're going running." Viktor nodded his head quickly, putting on his dark grey sweatshirt and sweatpants. Walking around the small apartment, he looked around for his socks and shoes. "They're on top of the table," Ivan says, shaking his head.
Viktor picked up his socks and shoes from under the table and began to put them on. When he was done, he quickly walked back to the bathroom to brush his teeth. A knock sounded at the bathroom door and Viktor sighed, knowing it was his father rushing him. "I'm almost done."
"Speed it up," Ivan grumbled, pretending not to hear the attitude laced in Victor's voice. Once Viktor was done brushing his teeth, he walked out of the bathroom and quickly joined his father outside. "Twenty laps around the perimeter. I'll run the first five laps with you, but that's it. No breaks."
Viktor bit his tongue so he wouldn't say anything unholy to his father. He knew that at times like this, his father was to be taken seriously. "Yes, sir," Viktor said as they began to run side-by-side. He had run more than twenty laps before, it just pissed him off that his father had him running it back to back all this week.
Ivan didn't care that he was overworking his son. To him, it was worth it.
It had been a total of twenty-three years since Ludmilla left and as crazy as it sounds, he missed her. And he was doing everything in his power to get her to come home. So, that's why he decided to get his twenty-eight-year-old son into the ring.
Viktor, even though he never had a relationship with his mother, often wondered what it would be like to have her in his life. Even though he has ADHD boxing was a way to suppress it. When he was in the ring, he didn't fidget or lack any restraint. He was calm and collected, just like he was when he was with a certain woman.
"What the hell are you thinking about?" Ivan snapped at his son, pulling him back.
Viktor was so deep in his thoughts that he didn't even see the car that was just inches away from hitting him. "Just tired papa." He lied, looking down at his shoes.
Ivan slapped him in the back of his head. "You have no time to be tired. Get your head in the game and focus!" Ivan yelled. "You just earned yourself seven more laps. Get to it."
Viktor lets out a breath, before his heavy feet begin to pound on the cold concrete. The faster he ran, the more the ground blurred below him. A surge of adrenaline caused his body to go numb. Whenever he felt like taking a break, he forced his legs to push harder, anticipating the thought of almost being done.
The steady pounding of his footsteps echoed in his ears. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead and splattered onto his chin. He continued running for what seemed like longer than it should have. Hours had gone by when Viktor finally stopped. It was dark outside now. He had run a total of twenty-seven laps and he was indeed tired. "Took you long enough," Ivan muttered, watching his son climb up the apartment stairs.
"Well, twenty-seven laps is a lot," Viktor whispers under his breath.
"What was that?" Ivan asked, putting his newspaper down.
Viktor shook his head. "Nothing." He said, louder than usual. "I'm going down to the Бар."
Ivan looked him up and down. "Don't stay out late, you have a fight tomorrow night and you need all the rest you can get." Ivan glared at him. "And don't let me hear that you were out with that woman again. I don't know how many times I gotta tell you that she's bad news."
"Alright," Viktor responded quickly, tired of hearing his father's voice. He walked inside the house and headed straight into the kitchen. Opening the door to the refrigerator, he took a bottle of ice-cold water and gulped it all down quickly.
Viktor walked to the raggedy couch that was basically a bed to him and laid down. His eyes closed, his mind deciding it was best for him to take a nap now.
By the time the clock hit twelve am, Viktor was already at the local bar. As soon as he walked in, conversations swirled throughout that place and music played in the background as he took everything in. The sharp smell of cigars and liquor wafted towards him.
Viktor took a seat at the table, located furthermost in the back. His eyes scanned through the crowds of people, as he searched for someone in particular. When he didn't spot her, he lifted his hand up, motioning for the bartender to come to him.
"Добро пожаловать." The male bartender greeted. "What can I get you?"
Viktor had opened his mouth to speak, but he was soon cut off by the sound of an angelic voice that caused his heart to race. "He'll have a bottle of Stolichnaya and I'll have two shots of Gorilka." The beautiful woman paused, looking at Viktor teasingly. "Hold the ice." She let out seductively, her Russian accent was as thick as Viktor's.
The bartender smiled down at her. "Sure thing Natalie." He said, before disappearing to go get their drinks.
Viktor looked at the honey bronze vixen intently. His mind was buzzing with what to say to her. "Did you sleep with him?" Viktor asked, nodding towards the bartender that just walked away.
Natalie smiled, showing off her straight teeth. "No. He's not my type." She said casually, glancing at her surroundings. "Did you sleep with her?" She asked, nodding towards a skinny blond behind him.
Viktor turned around to glance at the woman, before turning back around to face Natalie. "Нет." He answered truthfully. "What's your type?"
"You are." She answered, staring at him. "You're my type... since elementary school."
Viktor's shoulders stiffened, memories from elementary school, flooded his mind. "I don't know what to say." He admitted, placing his hands on the table.
Natalie didn't waste any time placing her hands over his. She liked how cold his hands always were, just like he liked how warm hers were. "Say how I really make you feel."
The bartender came back with their drinks and Viktor quickly let go of Natalie's hands. "Your drinks." The bartender announced, sitting the drinks down before disappearing once again.
They sat in silence, both of them staring at each other.
Natalie picked up her drink and gulped it down in one swift motion. "That's a strong drink for a female," Viktor remarked. He didn't like it when she drank liquor that would surely fuck her up in the morning.
Natalie chuckled dryly. "You've been avoiding me."
"Of course I've been avoiding you," Viktor said, avoiding her gaze. "My father said to stay away from you."
"Why?" She asked, her lips pouting a bit. Her light brown eyes darkened. "Is it because I'm black?" When Victor didn't answer, she knew right away that was what the problem was. "You're kidding me, right? That's really what the problem is?" She glared at him, trying to keep her composure. "You listen to everything your father tells you to do?
Viktor gulped. "Not everything." He picks up his drink and takes small sips.
Natalie rolled her eyes. "If only that were true." She mumbled.
"It's not true..." Viktor responded lowly.
Natalie glared at him. "Yes, it is. I've known you since we were kids Viktor, you can't lie to me." She let out a breath. "Do you like me?" She questioned, boldly. Viktor didn't answer, he only analyzed her, seeing what she'd do. "Listen here you tall Ушатек. I fuckin like you and you fuckin like me too, because if you didn't, then what happened last week wouldn't have occurred." She crossed her arms and pursed her lips. "I'm not like the other women in this fuckin country! I'll fight you myself, even if you are a boxer!"
Viktor rolled his eyes unfazed by her threat, even though he did know she would fight him. "Calm down Nat." He said calling her by her nickname. He knew that would instantly calm her down. "You know that I... I like you." His heartbeat quickened.
"Then why'd you just stutter?" Natalie asked on purpose.
"You know damn well why," Viktor replied darkly. He stuttered because of his ADHD. "Wanna get out of here Любовь?" He asked, looking in her eyes. He knew that's what she wanted.
Natalie's eyes brightened. "You know that's what I want Идиот." She stood up, looking down at him. "But first, you have to pay for avoiding me." Natalie lifted up her hand and slapped him across the face. Viktor's head turned violently as the sound of the slap echoed through the bar, causing everyone to stop what they were doing. All eyes were on both of them. "Keep you and your small Дик away from me Viktor Drago. I hate you!" She yelled causing a scene. Picking up her drink, she threw it at his face. "Да пошёл ты!" Natalie walked out the bar leaving everyone stunned.
All eyes fell on Viktor. His cheek stung as he smiled nervously. "She's on her period." He said, before wiping the liquor off his face. Ivan would definitely hear about this in the morning, but for some strange reason, Viktor didn't care.
Standing up, he dropped a twenty-dollar bill on the table and walked out of the bar. The wind blew fiercely, causing snow to scatter everywhere. The street lights lit up the walkway of the alleys. "You coming?" Natalie asked, from behind him.
"Yeah," Viktor answered, taking her small hands into his.
Natalie bit down on her full lips. "Lead the way." And together they both walked hand in hand, to the place they haven't been, in weeks.