Zack sat back, his head against the wall. His living room was full of flowers. Roses, to be exact. White ones, red ones, and even a few black ones. His office at work looked the same.
He was flattered, really, but his clothes were starting to smell floral, and people had given him weird looks on his way to the parking lot.
He didn’t need to read the cards on the flowers to know who they were from.
A month beforehand, Zack had met a man, a beautiful man. Zack was stranded on the beach, as he’d taken the bus and missed the last one that would take him home. Normally, Zack wouldn’t have minded, but it was getting dark, and Zack hated walking the streets at night.
Before Zack could freak out too much, Brian pulled up and asked if he could give him a lift home. Zack had thanks Brian profusely, and offered to pay for the petrol the stranger was burning up for him. Brian had laughed and told Zack to put his wallet away.
Brian was a kind-hearted man, ready to help anyone in need if he had the chance. When he’d seen Zack pacing the sidewalk, he felt he had to help the smaller man.
Brian was also extremely forward, and asked Zack for his number when he’d gotten out of the car. To Zack, Brian seemed to pose no threat, and gave the man his number.
They’d met only a week later, over coffee. Brian wanted to get to know Zack more, and offered to pay. Who really turns down free coffee?
And things went on like that. At least three times a week, they’d meet up and hang out for a while. Whether it be over coffee, dinner or even a movie, Zack accepted. And, if he was being honest, Zack felt an attraction towards Brian. He was handsome, sweet and really funny.
Over the weeks, Zack learned that he and Brian had many common interests, like music and movies. Though, their personalities couldn’t have been more different.
Zack was quiet, kept to himself. He was shy most of the time, and would rather follow someone’s directions, rather than lead. He’d do whatever his leader said, whether it be for Zack to throw out the trash, or finish someone’s paperwork. He did it, because standing up for himself meant standing out of the crowd.
Brian, on the other hand, was loud. He took control, and lead the way. He wouldn’t throw someone’s trash away. Sure, he liked to help, but that didn’t mean he would become someone’s lackey.
Even though they were different, they got along pretty well. The arguments they had were fun, and normally ended up with both of them laughing.
And, after a month of knowing Brian, Zack started to receive small gifts.
He woke up one morning, to find a giant teddy, almost as tall as him, on his doorstep. In its hand, was a note from Brian. All it really said was that he enjoyed spending time with Zack.
That teddy sat on Zack’s bed, the note folded and put in his drawer.
The roses turned up not long after the bear, and Zack wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Sure, each bunch had its own vase, so he wasn’t worried about that. He was worried about where to put them. Including the ones in his office, there were at least fifty bunches of roses. And each bunch seemed to hold ten roses, or maybe more. That was over a hundred roses, and Zack was at a loss.
He knew he wanted to have some in his bedroom. It’d be another reminder of Brian and his sweet nature.
It seemed rude to give away a gift, and he didn’t want someone else to have these flowers.
Zack spent nearly an hour finding a place to put the roses. His kitchen table had a new center piece, his lounge room had a few more than necessary, but there was nowhere else to put them. He’d considered putting a few in the bathroom, but he wasn’t sure how his friends for react to that. It was bad enough his lounge room smelled florally.
After he’d given up on finding another place for a vase, Zack decided to make dinner. His only option, really, was take-out, or scrambled eggs. He’d forgotten to go shopping, and his supply of Mac’N’Cheese was gone.
Just as he pulled out the menu for his favourite Chinese shop, the house phone rang. Zack turned to the cradle, where the phone usually sat. Only, this time, the small device wasn’t. He looked around, hoping to see the screen flashing somewhere.
He counted the rings as he searched, knowing his phone diverted to the message bank after the thirteenth ring.
On the twelfth ring, Zack spotted a flash, and dive on the couch, wrestling with the cushions.
‘Hello?’ He puffed, hoping he’d gotten it in time. The line was silent for a moment, and Zack went to hang up.
‘Did I interrupt something?’ Brian’s smooth voice chuckled on the other end. Zack rolled over on the couch, trying to regain his breath. He’d forgotten how stubborn the cushions were, especially when it came to stains.
‘No. Just had to fight the couch. It ate the phone.’ Zack smiled, curling an arm behind his head.
‘Thank you for the roses. They’re beautiful.’ He blushed, looking over to his coffee table, where he’d kept the largest bouquet.
‘I’m glad you like them.’ Brian said, a smile in his voice.
‘How would you like to have dinner with me?’ He asked, his voice so confident. If it were Zack asking Brian to dinner, he’d be stuttering and blushing like crazy. And that was one the reasons Brian really liked Zack. The blush on his cheeks made his green eyes stand out, and the stuttering was just adorable.
‘That’d be wonderful. Where would you like me to meet you?’ Zack asked, ready to get his car keys. Usually, when Brian asked him out, they’d meet up and leave separately. It made things easier, and Zack didn’t feel so bad, for using Brian’s petrol.
‘I’ll pick you up. I have a surprise for you.’ Brian said, already getting in his car.
‘Honestly, Bri, you’re done enough. The roses are beautiful.’ Zack said, running his finger over a white petal.
‘Too late. Everything is planned. I’ll see you soon.’ Brian laughed, hanging up, before Zack could ask where they were going, and what he was to wear.
Zack put the phone back in the cradle, looking down at his clothes. His work uniform wasn’t date-material. He raced upstairs and changed into a pair of jeans, making sure they were clean, and a nice button-down shirt his mother had bought him.
He rolled the sleeves up, and slipped on a silver bracelet he’d received from Brian.
Zack rushed into the bathroom, trying to make his hair presentable, but a knock at the door told him he was too late.
Brian greeted Zack with a smile, his dark hair combed back nicely. Brian, too, had chosen jeans to wear, and Zack felt relieved.
Brian lead Zack to his car, and, even though Zack had been in it before, he still couldn’t believe this man owned such an expensive car.
In one of their many chats, Brian had brought up his father, who was famous for something to do with guitars. Though, Zack had never heard of him. And, because Brian’s father was rich, he received expensive gifts to make up for the birthday’s he missed.
Zack expected Brian to go straight to the drivers’ side, but he opened Zack’s door, and held Zack’s hand while he sat down.
‘Would you mind if I blind-folded you?’ Brian asked, holding out a silky piece of material. Zack looked at it skeptically, unsure why he needed to be blind-folded for dinner.
‘Promise not to rape me?’ Zack asked, still looking at the silk. Brian laughed, kneeling down beside the car.
‘I promise not to rape you, Zack.’ He grinned. Zack sighed, and nodded. Brian reached forward, carefully tying the silk around Zack’s head, making sure not to tie his hair in with it.
When Brian leant back, making sure Zack couldn’t see, Zack reached up and touched the silk, smiling.
‘Sit back.’ Brian instructed, buckling Zack’s seat belt and closing the door.
Zack felt slightly disoriented when Brian started driving. He could feel the car moving, but he couldn’t see a thing. His hands were balled up on his lap, and he could hear Brian laughing softly every now and then.
It was nearly a ten minute drive before Brian pulled over. Zack was about to take the blind-fold off, but Brian reached over and grabbed his hands.
‘Not yet.’ He whispered, leaving the car. Zack felt his heart speed up, but was calmed when his door was opened.
Brian unbuckled his belt and took hold of his hand, helping him out of the car. Zack could smell the sea-breeze, and the cool wind coming from the ocean. They had to have been close to the beach.
‘Don’t let me fall.’ Zack said, careful with his footing. Brian lead him slowly, making sure to direct Zack over the safest path, away from rocks and dips in the ground.
‘I would never let you fall.’ Brian said, sweetly. Zack blushed, and hoped Brian hadn’t noticed. Brian did notice, but chose not to embarrass Zack anymore than he had already.
Zack gave a yelp when his foot sank into something soft. Brian laughed at him, holding his hand tighter.
The sand beneath their feet gave way, and Zack had a hard time with his footing. Piles of sand came out of nowhere, then dropped, and Zack felt like he was going to fall over, whether Brian was holding his hand or not.
‘One more step. Good. Now, give me your hands and sit.’ Brian said, taking both of Zack’s hands in his own, and helping him sit on a blanket that was laid out. Brian sat himself down next to Zack, before untying the blind-fold, letting it fall into Zack’s lap.
Brian smiled softly, looking out into the sunset. The ocean was a pretty pink-orange-y colour, and it reflected from Zack’s face.
Zack took a moment to register where he was. It was defiantly the beach, but it was secluded by trees. It was like their own little hide away.
They sat on a dark blanket, a picnic basket between them, and two large pillows waiting to be used.
Brian had thought ahead, knowing they’d be there for a while, and brought a few candles. He had them in the picnic basket, waiting for it to get dark enough.
‘Wow… This is beautiful.’ Zack whispered, captivated by the sunset still. Brian couldn’t take his eyes from Zack’s face. The sunset coloured him pink, and he seemed to glow, like an angel.
‘Thank you for bringing me here.’ Zack murmured, turning to look at Brian slowly.
‘I’m just glad I can share this with someone.’ Brian said, looking back out to the ocean for a moment, before reaching into the basket. He pulled out three containers, and a plate wrapped in tin foil. Next, he pulled out two plates and forks, along with a bottle of wine and two tall glasses.
Brian dished out the food, explaining what it was as he did, and, quite proudly, stating that he’d made it on his own.
Zack was the first to try the food. It was delicious and mouth watering, almost to the point where Zack wanted to dive into the bowl.
Brian seemed pleased that Zack liked his cooking. But, before he started to eat, Brian poured a bit of wine into the glasses, passing one to Zack.
For nearly an hour, they drank the wine, and ate the food, talking casually as the sun sank, disappearing into the ocean, as it seemed.
When Zack pushed his plate away, Brian picked everything up and put it all carefully back in the basket, and he moved that onto the sand beside them.
‘Thank you for this, Brian. I really have had fun, and your cooking is amazing.’ Zack grinned, reaching out for Brian’s hand. It was getting dark, almost to the point where looking at your own hand in front of your face was difficult.
Brian turned quickly, fetching the candles, and slipping the base of the holders into the sand, so they’d stay standing. He lit them with a lighter he’d kept in his pocket, and turned back to Zack.
‘I brought you out here for another reason.’ Brian admitted, stretching his legs out on the blanket. He was the picture of ease, at that moment. He wasn’t ashamed of what he wanted to say, and he wasn’t afraid of the reaction he might receive.
‘You promised not to rape me, Bri.’ Zack joked, tucking a loose strand of hair behind his ear. Brian nodded, smiling at the ground.
‘I did promise. And I’ll keep that.’ He said, looking up at Zack. The candle’s flame danced in the wind, the light casting shadows on Zack’s face.
‘I brought you out here because I wanted to tell you that… I love you.’ Brian said, only hesitating for a second.
Zack froze, not sure if he’d heard those words correctly.
‘B-Bri… You’ve only known me for a month.’ Zack spoke, his voice soft and careful. He didn’t want Brian to think he was rejecting him, because he could never do that to such a sweet man, but he wasn’t exactly ready to accept, either.
‘I know, Zack. But I can’t help the way I feel.’ He sighed, looking down at the blanket.
‘I’ve never met anyone like you. I see you smile, and I feel like my stomach is going to explode from all the butterflies. Hearing your voice makes my day so much better. I can’t bare the thought of you in pain or upset, Zack. I love you.’ Brian murmured, his heart soaring and breaking at the same time. He was glad to have that off his chest, but he didn’t want to scare Zack off either.
‘I-I… I don’t know what to say.’ Zack confessed after a moment of silence. His thoughts were jumbled up, and he wasn’t sure what to say first.
‘You don’t have to say anything. It’s alright.’ Brian said, trying to hide the sadness and pain in his voice. Zack could hear it, though, almost a clear as day.
‘No, it’s not. You’re such a sweet guy, Bri, and I don’t want to upset you. It’s just… I’ve never been in love before. I don’t know what it feels like, and I don’t know what the feelings I have for you mean. I know I like you, but the feelings are stronger.’ Zack said, his voice wavering, as if he were about to cry.
‘I want to know what love feels like.’ Brian stopped to think for a second, his hand curling with Zack’s.
‘Y’know when you’re really excited for something, and your stomach feels like it’s full of butterflies, you can’t sit still and you just want to jump around? And then you feel weak when you get what you wanted, and you can’t even think straight? That’s how I feel when I’m with you.’ Brian whispered, his hand getting squeezed by Zack’s.
It was Zack’s turn to stop and think, because, yeah. That’s how he felt when he was with Brian, or when he thought about Brian. He couldn’t bear part with the simple note he’d been given, or the roses that filled his home.
‘I want to say “I love you”, Bri, but I can’t. I feel really strongly for you, but I’m not sure that it’s love.’ Zack said quietly, clenching Brian’s hand again. He looked up, watching the pain and sadness ebb away from Brian’s beautiful face.
‘I’m not going to force you into anything, Zack. You know that.’ Brian murmured, leaning forward a little. Zack felt his eyes close automatically, his body attracted to Brian’s, like a magnet.
Brian closed the gap between then, his lips pressed gently against Zack’s. The world seemed to slow down as Brian kissed Zack, the ocean noises seemed to fade away, becoming nothing but an almost silent background noise. All they could really hear, what they really focused on, was the others’ heart beat, and the sound of their lips parting for a brief second.
Zack’s grip on Brian’s hand tightened as he moved his free hand to caress the side of Brian’s face, his fingers nestling in with his hair.
Brian wound his free arm around Zack’s body, pulling him closer. Their bodies touched, and Zack melted into Brian, his heart hammering in his chest, but he wasn’t sure if the beating he felt was from his heart, or Brian’s.
Brian slowly pulled back from Zack, his eyes opening. Zack kept his eyes closed, his lips parted as he breathed deeply.
Zack tried to speak, but found his words were stuck in his throat.
Brian let Zack compose himself, while he ran his thumb over Zack’s lips, the skin so warm and soft beneath his touch.
‘You’re beautiful, Zack. Like a delicate flower. I want to hold you so bad, but I’m afraid to damage you.’ Brian whispered, his lips connecting with the corner of Zack’s mouth.
‘What if I want you to hold me, and never let me go?’ Zack asked, finally looking Brian in the eye.
Brian’s eyes seemed lighter with the candle’s light shining in them. They were more like a dark honey than the chocolate he’d grown used to.
‘All you have to do is ask, Zack.’ Brian murmured, reaching forward to wrap his arms around Zack’s entire body. He pulled Zack down onto the pillows, glad he’d thought to bring them.
Zack curled closer to Brian, his fingers weaving in the taller man’s hair.
‘Hold me, Bri. Never let me go.’ Zack whispered, his lips finding their way to Brian’s again. The kiss was slow, and it made it easier to choose. It was all or nothing, and Zack had no problem with taking it all.
”Looking at all or nothing,
Babe, it’s you and I.”