Yuuri loves the Halloween season.
Every year, Yuuri works his ass off to put up Halloween decorations and every year, without fail, his asshole neighbors manage to one-up him.
In 2015, when Yuuri and Phichit first moved into the neighborhood, Yuuri adorned their house with a modest sprinkling of orange fairy lights. Minimal, yet festive. The Nikiforovs responded by draping their house in orange fairy lights and light up ghosts the very next day.
Yuuri watched from the living room windows as they put up the lights, his eyes narrowed. The oldest of the two brothers, Viktor, caught Yuuri peaking out through the blinks and winked at him. Winked!
“Who do they think they are? Light up ghosts? What is this, 2007?” Yuuri muttered. Unfortunately, Phichit had already left for class and wasn’t there to appreciate his snarky comment.
He’s definitely there six hours later, when Yuuri is still mad about it.
“Can you believe it?!” Yuuri grumbles. He throws more pasta into the pot. It’s his turn to make dinner. “I worked so hard on those decorations.”
“Yuuri, you’re my best friend and I love you,” Phichit says, which means he’s about to say something that Yuuri won’t like, “but we both know you put in less effort than you did in your last english paper.”
“Okay, first of all, in my defense, it was midterms week and the prompt for that paper was bullshit.” Yuuri stirs the pot of pasta vigorously. “Secondly, hanging lights is hard! I almost fell off the ladder twice!”
“Hmm,” Phichit hums, unfazed that Yuuri is literally steaming. “If I recall correctly, Viktor offered to help you.”
“I can’t accept help from the enemy,” Yuuri hisses. Phichit laughs.
“Just a week ago you were telling Professor Ciao Ciao how much you loved our new neighbors, and now they’re your mortal enemies?”
“They were great neighbors until they decided to challenge me,” Yuuri says. Phichit rolls his eyes and jumps down from where he was sitting on the counter.
“Okay, we get it, you’re competitive. Now, do you need help chopping vegetables? I’m starving.”
Halloween comes and Yuuri makes it a point to give out full sized candy bars, never mind that he’s technically still a poor grad student.
The next year, Yuuri goes all out. He has fake tombstones dotting the lawn, complete with creepy skeleton hands busting out from the dirt. He hangs a ghost from a nearby tree, positioned so that it’s ghostly robes flutter in the breeze. He’s even enlisted Phichit’s help in hanging small bats from their gutter.
It’s glorious. A shrine to the Halloween spirit.
The next day, Viktor catches Yuuri while he’s leaving to go to work. He waves at Yuuri and then jogs across the street, stopping a little too close for comfort.
It’s an intimidation tactic, Yuuri thinks. I can’t show weakness.
“Hey, Yuuri!” Viktor grins at him, bright and adorable. Adorable? No! No, not adorable. “I love your decorations this year! Especially the ghost. Very spooky.”
“I worked very hard on them,” Yuuri says cautiously. He subtly peers over Viktor’s broad, well-muscled shoulder to take a look at his lawn. It looks like Viktor was in the middle of pulling out his own decorations.
Viktor notices. “Oh! Yeah, I’m putting up our stuff right now.”
Yuuri thinks he sees an inflatable zombie leaned up against Viktor’s porch. His eye twitches.
“Have you always been so enthusiastic about Halloween?”
“Oh, uh… no,” Viktor laughs nervously. “I, uh… not… really. I mean, it’s just Yura and I, but he’s a little too old for Halloween so we really never decorated until… .”
Until he made it his life’s mission to upstage Yuuri’s decorations. Right.
“But you’re really into it, right? That’s cool. You’re cool. I mean, uh, it’s cool that you like Halloween. Um.”
Yuuri blinks. Viktor Nikiforov may be hot. And really nice. And kind of adorable. And, according to Phichit, also getting his doctorate in psychology at the same university that Yuuri is doing research in pathology in. But Yuuri wasn’t born yesterday. He knows a good, old fashioned, neighborly rivalry when he sees one.
Viktor says something about grabbing lunch–– probably an attempt to steal Yuuri’s pumpkin carving ideas–– but Yuuri is already late for work, so he bids Viktor goodbye and rushes off.
When Yuuri comes home, later that evening, Viktor’s house is lit up. He has lights, inflatable ghosts, the whole shebang. Yuuri seethes.
“Something about that man makes me want to commit extreme violence,” Yuuri tells Phichit. “I hate him.”
Phichit rolls his eyes. “Sure, Yuuri. You keep telling yourself that.”
“He’s absolutely horrible.”
“He dropped off some cookies earlier.” Phichit gestures to a Tupperware container, sitting on the counter. “Pumpkin spice. They’re delicious. You’re lucky I saved you some.”
Yuuri takes an experimental bite. They’re the best cookies Yuuri has ever had.
“These are awful,” he says, taking another bite. “Truly terrible.” He stuffs an entire cookie into his mouth.
Yuuri starts actually seeing Viktor on campus. They run into each other at the coffee shop and start chatting. Viktor is… really nice. And very enthusiastic about his work, which Yuuri appreciates. And he doesn’t mind if Yuuri rambles on about his research, even if half of it is Yuuri complaining about Professor Celestino and Phichit.
He’s also very observant. He notices how fast Yuuri drains his pumpkin spice flavored coffee.
“You like pumpkin spice?” he asks, leaning forward with his chin in his hand. They have a nice table by the window and it’s a nice, chilly fall day outside.
“Yeah, I love the whole autumn season, especially pumpkin spice flavored things.” Yuuri shrugs. “Not lattes, though. And I can’t stand Starbucks.”
“Too artificial tasting?”
“No, they just won’t let you add more than nine shots of espresso.”
Viktor blinks slowly. “Why do you need nine shots–– nevermind, I understand.”
“Of course you understand, you’re a fellow grad student.” Yuuri smiles.
Viktor stares. “U-Um, yes. That’s what I am. Yeah.”
He continues to stare. Yuuri shifts awkwardly.
“Are you okay?” Yuuri asks, brow wrinkled.
“Mmhm!” Viktor hums, high pitched. “I’ve just never seen you smile before. At least, at someone who isn’t Phichit.”
Yuuri frowns, thinking. Well, he’s probably just always thinking about Halloween decorations every time he talks to Viktor, which is why he doesn’t smile. But Viktor has been nice. Yuuri really doesn’t have many friends outside of his research stuff….
“You know,” Viktor says, slowly, “I make a really good pumpkin pie. Probably the best pumpkin flavored baking thing in the whole tri-state area.”
Yuuri’s competitive streak rears to life. “Is that so?”
“Yes.” Viktor flashes Yuuri his ridiculous heart-shaped grin. It’s so charming that Yuuri almost forgets how infuriating he is. “You should come over and try it sometime.”
“Sure,” Yuuri replies, trying to sound casual, “but only if you’ll let me bring my pumpkin spice brownies
“That would be great!”
They part ways with plans to have dinner at the Nikiforovs’ house on saturday, which means Yuuri has the rest of the week to perfect his mom’s pumpkin spice brownie recipe. It’s hard to get right when Phichit insists every batch is delicious. The dinners at Viktor’s place turn into a weekly thing because both Phichit and Yuri refuse to say who’s baking is better (but obviously it’s Yuuri’s).
Yuuri gives out full sized candy bars again this year, but it’s futile. The trick-or-treaters still flock to Viktor, who is wearing a very period-accurate medieval prince costume. Yuuri resolves that next year will be his year.
This is it. 2017. Yuuri’s year.
The past year has been interesting.
Yuuri’s relationship with the Nikiforovs has blossomed into something that he would tentatively call a friendship. Yuri comes over after school, most days. He started high school this year and he likes to ask Phichit for help with math homework.
Viktor comes over often, too. Usually with Yuri, but sometimes he comes over just to hang out. It’s nice. Viktor is nice. He even offers to proofread Yuuri’s papers if Phichit is too busy. He’s remarkably passionate about the oxford comma.
Yuuri no longer considers them mortal enemies, even if sometimes Yuuri wants to punch Viktor.
With his own face. On the lips. Gently.
Not a kiss! Just a… face-punch.
Halloween rolls around again and Yuuri is uncontrollably excited. He has mini glowing ghosts lining the sidewalk and fake spiderwebs strung out across the lawn. Yuuri went the DIY route this year and made his own skeletal dementor to hang by the porch. He’s very proud.
Which is why he’s absolutely furious when he comes home from work one evening to see that Viktor has outdone him. Again. He’s turned his house into a full-blown haunted house, complete with boarded up windows and giant skeletons. It’s magnificent. Yuuri hates him.
Yuuri marches across the street, still in his hospital scrubs, and pounds on the door. Viktor opens it with his dumb, heart-shaped, adorable grin. When he sees Yuuri, he lights up like a carved pumpkin.
“Yuuri! I thought you and Phichit weren’t coming over until later.”
“What’s all this?” Yuuri asks, waving his arms around like a madman.
“My spooky decorations? Do you like them? I tried really hard to––”
“I thought we were friends, Vitya! How could you?!”
“You do this every year! You always try to one-up me! I thought it was just, like, a neighborly rivalry thing, but we’re friends, right? And–– just look at this! You’re decorations are fantastic! I’m so mad!”
Yuuri huffs out a breath and glares up at Viktor’s stupidly handsome face.
Viktor looks at him like he’s lost. “Yuuri… I didn’t start decorating because I wanted to one-up you. I was trying to impress you.”
“Yuuri, I–– I can’t believe I even have to say this, since I think I’ve been pretty clear with my feelings, but–– Yuuri, I like you.”
Yuuri blinks. “Like…?”
“Oh.” Yuuri thinks about the past year, full of cozy movie nights and homemade dinner. Suddenly, Phichit’s teasing makes a lot more sense. “Oh.”
Viktor smiles at him sheepishly “Ah, you didn’t know. Yura told me that flirting via inflatable ghosts wasn’t a good strategy. I should have listened to him, he’s a smart kid.”
Yuuri fidgets. Viktor isn’t the asshole neighbor, Yuuri is. “I’m sorry for yelling at you. And accusing you of trying to wage neighborly war with me. And for not noticing that you’ve been… flirting. Can I make it up to you?”
“You’re already forgiven, but I wouldn’t be opposed to dinner? Maybe this time without Phichit and Yura?”
Yuuri grins. “Are you asking me out?”
“No, solnyshko, I think you’re asking me out,” Viktor shoots back, wiggling his eyebrows.
“I am? I am! Vitya, do you want to––”
Yuuri pulls a face. “I wasn’t done asking.”
“Yuuri, I’ve been pining for two solid years and you were taking forever to ask. I’m sick of waiting!”
“You don’t have to wait much longer,” Yuuri says, before he leans up and kisses him.