Tater’s parents divorced when he was very young, he doesn’t even remember a time they were together (although they had an amicable relationship post-divorce). His father was a hockey player, his mother was a figure skating champion.
He grew up in Russia with his father, but would spend a couple months every year visiting his mother in the USA. She retired from competition, but continued on to be a formidable youth figure skating coach. Her students were always successful.
When Tater visits his mom, he usually tags along to her early morning practices. Truthfully, he catches a bit more sleep in the stands most days, but he does really enjoy watching the progress her students have made on days mornings when he’s well-rested.
When he’s 11 or so, his mom takes on a tiny blond boy as her newest student, and Tater absolutely LOVES watching him practice. The kid is fast learner, and young Tater has been around the best and brightest of figure skating enough to know that this boy is going to be great.
Even when Tater returns home to Russia after his visit, he still asks his mom about how the little blond boy is doing with his lessons. The next time he visits, the improvement is already staggering. Now he eagerly attend his mom’s early morning lessons to see what this talented tiny boy can do.
Tater meets him once, but the funny little American boy talks very fast and Tater has no idea what he’s saying. He manages to say “Hi” and “good skate” and then stares, completely overwhelmed by this ball of blond energy shaking his hand and talking a mile a minute. Tater knows he’s saying something nice about his mom, because the boy is smiling a lot and looks over at her a couple times, but he knows very little English, so it mostly goes over his head. Still, it makes him smile, and he’s happy his mom has found such an enthusiastic student.
The years go by, and although Tater is sad to hear that his mom’s star pupil no longer figure skates, he gets busy with his hockey career. His mother has other talented students now, and she’s back in Russia. Life goes on. It’s been years since he’s thought of the tiny blond boy…
But one day, his teammate Jack starts (does he ever stop?) bragging about how wonderful his boyfriend is, and brings him along for a fun shinny game with the Falcs to show off Bitty’s skills and speed.
“Remember last time we did this, Bits?” Jack teases his boyfriend while the other guys set up the nets.
“The boys made me do a jump in my hockey skates for the school paper,” Bitty replies with a laugh.
Tater insists on seeing Jack’s little blond boyfriend do a jump, because he does miss watching figure skating like in his childhood. Bitty obliges, and the moment he lifts off the ice, Tater is filled with nostalgia. He knew something was familiar about this energetic young man.
“Hey, little B!” Tater skates over to Bitty immediately. “You’re so good. Always jumping so high, even in hockey skates.”
“Well, it would be better if I were in figure skates, and had a bit more practice…”
“Is okay. Long time since you started hockey, yes? When you were 15?”
Bitty doesn’t think too much of it, aside from being a bit of embarrassment that Jack has told his friends THAT much about him. “Yeah, I figure skated for years before that.”
“So many championships. Good skate.”
Bitty chuckles, remembering the time he met Katya’s quiet son who didn’t speak much English. That poor shy boy had only managed to tell him “good skate” too. He was hit with a wave of déja vu. This giant of a man was about 10,000 times more talkative than that boy, but now that Bitty thought about it, he did look a little familiar. “Um… Tater? This may sound strange, but…”
“So B, you know my mom Katya, yes?”
“OH. MY. GOD.”
“We should send her selfie now.”