Yuri had been living in the same building for over two years. The most exciting thing that had ever happened was when a pigeon flew in Yuri’s bathroom window and Yuri started crying while trying to get rid of it. Ever since he arrived however, Yuri had been living in fear.
It first started when his neighbor, Henrik, moved out. Yuri wasn't close with him but they were civil and Yuri was sad to see him go. He figured the new person who moved in would be normal so he wasn't worried. He should have been.
O. Altin, as his mailbox read, was a murderer. No really, that guy was a serial killer. Yuri had only seen him a number of times but each time he seemed creepier and creepier.
The first time Yuri felt this way was when Altin was moving in. It was two weeks after Henrik left and Yuri was just coming home from the gym. It was late at night and Yuri reached the top of the stairs only to be met with dozens of boxes blocking his door. Yuri stared at them, wondering what he should do. He didn't want to touch them but then again he wanted to get inside his apartment. He looked around the hallway and didn't see anyone so he decided to move them himself. Three boxes were blocking his door so Yuri bent down and tried sliding them over. The smallest box on top tipped over and the contents spilled out, revealing several pairs of leather gloves and one leather bound notebook. Yuri hastily shoved them all back inside and opened his door in a hurry. Yuri didn't want to make any snap judgments but what kind of person owns over five pairs of leather gloves? Then again, Yuri owned at least ten different cat eared hats so who was he to judge?
The second time was when Yuri actually met him. It was only a few days later but Yuri had already forgotten about the glove incident. He was on his way to go buy groceries and run some errands and Altin was leaving his apartment at the same time. Yuri stole a glance at him and felt a chill down his spine. His neighbor was wearing heavy combat boots, a leather jacket, leather gloves, sunglasses, and a white t-shirt. He looked hot, and Yuri felt his face heat up. They walked down the stairs side by side but neither said a thing.
Yuri got back home, grocery bags in hand, and was unlocking his door when Altin came walking up the stairs. Yuri turned around to grab the rest of his groceries and was met face to face with a sweaty, heavy breathing man. The most incriminating evidence however, was his shirt. His pristine white shirt was covered in splotches of dark red stains. Yuri’s heart stopped and he felt his face drain of all color. Altin stood there, Yuri still bent down in front of him, and slowly took off his sunglasses. His dark eyes peered into Yuri’s soul and Yuri couldn't move. He was about to be murdered in his hallway for seeing Altin covered in blood. Instead of pulling out the hatchet that was definitely hidden under his jacket, Altin said, “You're blocking my door.”
Yuri stared at him in horror until the words processed in his mind. Then he scrambled up and grabbed all the bags he could carry while stammering out his apologies. He slammed his door shut, heart pounding, and sank to his knees involuntarily and let his bags drop to the ground.
Three quick knocks had Yuri flinging himself away from the door in terror. Now he was definitely going to die. His neighbor was about to murder him in his apartment after almost letting him free. Yuri opened the door a crack and peered out. His neighbor was standing there holding a bag of flour.
“You dropped this.” He said and reached out to hand it to Yuri.
Yuri opened the door an inch more and mumbled a thank you and grabbed the flour, all while focusing on the dried up red stains on his neighbors shirt.
He gave another thankful nod and closed the door. He had made it out alive, again.
While making dinner that night Yuri was still thinking about his encounter. He was terrified, and still was, and felt like he needed to do something to make sure his killer neighbor didn't come after him next. So he decided that he would make him something he himself enjoyed. He began making piroshki and, not knowing what Altin liked, filled them with a few different things.
Yuri put the piroshki into a container and took a deep breath before opening his door and walking the few steps to Altin’s apartment. He stood out there for a few moments before finally knocking on the door.
Almost immediately, the door flew open and Altin was standing in front of him, completely naked aside from his underwear, with a smirk.
“I was wondering when you were going to knock.”
Yuri’s face was bright red and he didn't know what to do. He couldn't look at him in the face, but he also couldn't look at him anywhere else so he looked off to the side and into his apartment. That was an awful idea. Inside was a table covered in newspapers that had a dark red liquid oozing slowly down the side. Right next to the table was a knife, covered in the same red liquid, partially hidden inside of a plastic bag. Yuri was stunned into silence so Altin reached over and grabbed the container from his hands.
“Want to join me?” Altin said as he leaned against the door frame. The smirk was still on his lips and Yuri was surely going to die, either from embarrassment or the knife hidden in his neighbor's apartment. He shook his head violently and said in a squeaky voice, “I can't, my lamps are still burning!” and turned around quickly.
What the fuck kind of excuse was that you shithead? My lamps still burning? What the hell does that even mean!
Yuri threw open his door and slammed it shut before running into his bedroom. His heart was pounding and Yuri wasn't entirely sure if it was out of fear or some strange kind of wanting. For a crazy serial killer, Altin was extremely good looking. How could Yuri not notice? But he also noticed that Altin was a murderer, so there was no way Yuri was going to get mixed up with that, but still. There's no shame in looking, right?
He tried falling asleep but right when he was about to he heard his neighbor's door open. It was already pretty late so it would be weird if he was leaving right now to go out. Yuri heard a grunt and then a string of curses come from the hallway and then the top stair creak to life. A few minutes later he heard the dumpster outside being thrown open and a clacking sound as something was thrown inside.
The next morning after Yuri had just woken up, there was a knock at the door. Yuri was still in his pajamas but he was too tired to care. He unlocked his door and was suddenly acutely aware of his state of dress. He was wearing only an oversized t shirt and his hot murderer neighbor was standing at his door.
“Wh-yes?” Yuri rasped and he ran a shaking hand through his tussled hair.
“I have your dish. Just returning it.”
“Oh. Thank you uh…”
“Thank you Otabek.”
It was then Yuri noticed the bandage on Otabek’s hand.
“Are you ok?” he asked, not entirely sure why he didn't just shut the door.
“Oh yeah, just a little accident. I took care of it though.”
Otabek said goodbye and turned around. Yuri watched him unlock his door before saying, “Yuri!”
Otabek looked at him with a confused smile.
Yuri blushed and said, “My name. Yuri.”
Otabek nodded and waved before going into his apartment.
Yuri didn't see Otabek again for almost a week. Yuri was out on a run down one of the many hiking trails he visited. He was running so fast he almost missed Otabek. He spotted him though, a few feet away from the trail. The sun had reflected off of a motorcycle that was parked right next to him. Otabek didn't have on a shirt- was he ever fully clothed?- and he was glistening with sweat as he dug a hole. Yuri was standing there staring at him in horror. Otabek lifted up something wrapped in burlap and Yuri gasped and tripped over his feet trying to run away.
Shit. Fuck oh my god. Fuck me. Oh god. Fuck fuck fuck.
“Otabek! Is that you? Wow I never would have- look at you what are you- taking a little run, you know how you do!” Yuri rambled in fear. Otabek drew closer, shovel in one hand and a pair of garden shears in the other. Once again, Yuri was sure he was about to be killed. Otabek wouldn't even have to dig a new grave, he could just bury Yuri with the body he already had.
“Is that yours?” Yuri asked timidly and pointed to the bike.
“Yeah it is. I've been meaning to talk to you actually.” Otabek said once they were only a few steps apart.
“Oh?” Yuri choked out.
“Do you want to come over to my place for dinner?”
Yuri didn't answer. He couldn't answer. Otabek was still shirtless and covered in dirt and shining with sweat and he looked breathtaking. As much as Yuri wanted to hightail it out of there and call the police, he also couldn't deny the fact the Otabek was extremely attractive and the type of guy Yuri always chased after.
Otabek spoke again after realizing Yuri wasn't going to answer.
“Nothing fancy or anything, it could just be pizza or something.”
“What?” Yuri asked with a puzzled expression. Before Otabek could answer, Yuri processed what he said. “Oh yeah sure we can.” As he said it, he knew it was a bad idea. Otabek was going to kill him tonight.
As Yuri got ready to go to Otabek’s apartment that night he couldn't help but feel a trace of excitement along with dread. He didn't know why he was going to go Otabek’s when the man brought fear to his mind but he was. What if Yuri didn't go over and Otabek killed him for avoiding him? But what if Otabek killed him for going over? Whatever he did, Yuri could think of ten different outcomes that could happen.
Once he deemed his outfit respectable, he walked over to Otabek’s apartment. He knocked twice and waited and Otabek opened the door a few moments later. He smiled brightly at Yuri and then moved aside so Yuri could enter. At first glance, the blood that was on the table had been washed away. Yuri relaxed slightly but still had his guard up. He finally let himself look at Otabek, who was dressed smartly in a button down and pants. Yuri looked around the apartment and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. There was minimal furniture but the room was clean. Otabek brought Yuri into the kitchen where again nothing seemed out of place.
“Dinner's almost done. I hope you like fettuccini.”
Yuri nodded absently and took a seat at the table. Otabek went over to the stove and stirred the pasta while he talked.
“So Yuri, what do you do?”
Yuri hummed in question. “I'm a dancer. Classically trained in ballet but I also do jazz, tap, and pretty much anything else you can think of. What about you?”
Otabek brought over two bowls and set them down. “I'm an artist. It doesn't exactly pay the bills though,” Otabek said with a laugh, “so I also work in a bakery part time.”
Yuri raised his eyebrows. “What do you paint?”
Otabek shrugged. “Mainly abstract but I also do portraits and landscapes.”
“Can I see some of your work?” Yuri asked.
“I only have one new piece with me. Sold the rest to move here.”
“Why'd you move?” Because I killed someone and had to leave town.
“Bigger city means more opportunities. I needed a fresh start.”
A fresh start since I murdered a firefighter.
Otabek served the food and sat down across from Yuri, a smile on his face. Dinner was spent talking about each other's families and what they liked to do in their free time.
After dinner Otabek brought Yuri to his living room and went to his guest room, which he converted into an art studio, and brought over a painting. It was painted in different shades of red but had definitive tiny white strips of canvas still showing.
“This is really beautiful Otabek. How'd you get these lines so clean?”
Otabek blushed slightly and answered, “Normally artists use a pallet knife or a sculpting knife but I lost mine in the move so I had to use a meat carving knife.”
Yuri’s eyebrows knit together and he frowned. Could that have been the same knife that was on the ground…?
“That's really inventive.” Yuri said in response.
“I guess but it completely ruined my knife. The oil paint got all over it and ruined the metal. Had to throw it out.”
Otabek placed the painting on the table and Yuri noticed a cut across his palm. That's the hand that had the bandage.
“What happened to your hand?”
Otabek frowned. “I cut it on the knife I used on the painting actually. When I realized I couldn't get the paint out I put it into a garbage bag and forgot about it. I went to throw it out later that day and cut my hand on the knife out in the hallway.”
Yuri laughed accidentally and then looked away quickly. He looked around the apartment again and noticed a pair of leather gloves, and then another, and then another.
“What's up with all the gloves?” Yuri asked, remembering all the other ones he had seen.
“Their riding gloves. For my bike. My friends and family back home gave me them for birthdays over the years. I felt bad throwing them away or re-gifting them, so I wear them in rotation.”
Yuri nodded and tried to think of something to say. All he could think of though is how he was sitting next to a murderer.
“I have weird question. Don't ask why, but that first day we met there was something...red all over your shirt. What exactly was that?”
Otabek laughed. “I had just finished a shift at the bakery and Amelia, one of the other bakers, ran into me while I was holding a tray of raspberry pastries. They were fresh out of the oven so the crust was still soft and they broke all over me. Came home covered in raspberry filling.”
Yuri let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding.
“One more thing, that day on the hiking trail, what were you doing? You were digging a hole for something in a...um...in a burlap sack.”
Otabek looked at Yuri in amusement. “I joined the town's Wildlife Conservation Association. A group of us were out there planting fig trees by trail. They're moved in burlap to make transportation easier.”
Yuri nodded and again let out a breath.
“Can I ask you something now?” Otabek asked with a smile and Yuri nodded.
“Do you think I'm crazy or something?”
Yuri’s eyes widened and he sputtered out a quick no. Otabek smiled again. Then he frowned, as if he was putting all the pieces together, and asked, “Wait...do you think I'm like...a murderer?”
Yuri’s breath caught in his throat. “What!” he squeaked out. “Of course not! Why would I think that?”
“Considering the questions, it sounds like you were asking me if I killed someone, came home covered in blood, and tried to bury them on the side of the road.”
Yuri wished the floor would open up and swallow him whole.
“Don't look so embarrassed Yuri. I can see why you might have thought I was creepy. I mean, I don't actually see why since we hadn't even spoken to each other but I understand how my actions might have been taken like that. I think.” Otabek smiled at him and then laughed. Yuri was still blushing like mad but he felt less ridiculous.
Of course Otabek wasn't a killer. He wasn’t even a bad person, he was on the wildlife conservation association for crying out loud.
They spent the rest of the night talking and laughing and by the time Yuri went back to his apartment he was grinning from ear to ear.
Three years later, after Otabek proposed to Yuri in Almaty, they were sitting in their house in Kazan, Russia when Otabek brought up their first date.
“Do you remember, back when we first met, and you thought I was a serial killer?” Otabek asked.
Yuri sat up and slapped him on the chest.
“Fuck off you shithead. You were the one going around acting all creepy. It's not my fault you were so strange.”
“I don't know Yura, you're the one who mistook raspberry jam for blood. And the one who thought a tree was a dead body!” Otabek wrapped his arms back around Yuri and pulled him close again.
“I hate you Beka.”
Otabek pressed a kiss into Yuri’s hair and smiled. Yuri in turn snuggled into Otabek further and sighed in content.
He was so happy Otabek didn't turn out to be a murderer.