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Hanakotoba

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Tatsumi first met Watari on a dreary rainy Friday on his way to pick up a cake order for Tsuzuki, the man he was rooming with until he was back on his feet from having been fired from his last job. At first the long hours and the extra pay were worth the lack of sleep and losing his friends he had made over the years. But when he was finally hospitalized, the only friend he had left was Tsuzuki. When the other man came to him, someone from the company had tagged along to give Tatsumi the news. Seeing Tatsumi so distraught, Tsuzuki had offered him a place in his apartment. It was hard at first, to rely on Tsuzuki for everything until he was ready to be released, but the other man insisted on being there for his friend. So Tatsumi let the man dote on him. At times Tsuzuki’s boyfriend Hisoka would visit, bringing the man a book to read. He was stuck in the hospital for two long weeks that felt like two months for him. Now he was on the hunt for a job, but before that, Tsuzuki had sent him out for a cake order. Something to do with celebrating Tatsumi’s recovery. Really, the man could be too much to handle.

“Why did it have to pour?” he muttered to himself as he looked around for a moment to find refuge from the rain which had started to pour after Tatsumi made his way to the bakery. 

The only shop around that looked remotely open, was a flower shop by the name of “Hanakotoba”. At least it was refuge from the rain, he thought as he made his way over to the doors. A small bell rung throughout the shop, alerting whoever was working someone had opened the door. Tatsumi stood near the entrance, not wanting to really get anything wet, considering the floor was not carpeted and could lead to someone falling. Instead, he looked around to find most of the shelves with bright colored flowers of all varying sizes and colors. Impressed with the diversity, he found himself soon captured by honey brown eyes which hid behind large round rimmed glasses.

“Can I help you? Or are you only trying to get out of the rain?” the man behind the countered asked, breaking whatever spell was cast between the two when Tatsumi had made eye contact.

“Just getting out of the rain I’m afraid,” Tatsumi answered after a moment, feeling rain drops run down the back of his neck.

“Then you might want to go stand next to the heater over to your right. I’ll go and grab a towel for you.” With that, the man turned, blonde curls trailing after him tied with an orange ribbon, to get a towel for the soaking wet Tatsumi.

Looking around, Tatsumi spotted the heater on his right and walked towards it, appreciating the warmth already radiating off of it. It was not a particularly cold day but then again, Tatsumi knew little of flowers, so perhaps they needed the heat. He took off the coat he wore and folded it neatly, placing it on the window sill as he rubbed his arms in an attempt to heat them up, the chill from the soaked clothing making him shiver slightly.

“Here you go,” a towel was draped over Tatsumi’s head, startling him. “Oh, sorry. I forget that I can surprise people sometimes.”

“Ah…no need to apologize. I’m thankful that you are allowing me to seek refuge here and even getting me a towel,” Tatsumi said with a small smile as he turned to meet the man once more. He was surprised at the small height difference since when he first saw the other, it did not seem he would be as tall as he turned out to be.

“It’s no problem really. Welcome to Hanakotaba. I’m the owner Watari Yukata, feel free to look around once you’re all dried up. If you need anything don’t hesitate to ask,” Watari stated with a bright smile, which made Tatsumi pause for a moment. How could anyone smile that big at a complete stranger?

“Thank you,” Tatsumi began rubbing at his head in an attempt to get all the water out of it. He then stood there for a moment with the towel before draping it over the radiator to get it dried. Then he laid his coat next to it for when he had to leave.

Now he would be able to glance around the flower shop until the rain let up enough for him to get the cake order and return home. Honestly there was not much to do at a flower shop besides to browse, but he found it mildly interesting anyway since he had a potted plant in the small apartment he had been at until his eviction since he could no longer pay rent. It was now sitting on a window sill in Tsuzuki’s house with Hisoka tending to it instead of Tatsumi. He had no qualms about it, but knew that the plant would probably end up staying with the two when he was able to move out. Perhaps then he would have some sort of incentive to return to this shop and buy something after being allowed to take shelter from the rain. So Tatsumi started to wonder about in hopes of finding a plant to replace the one he was going to lose.

Although thinking about it, he found that he wasn’t sure what plant would best suit him at all, especially when he still had no clue what his job was going to be. If he bought something that would need constant attention, it would end up dying which was something he did not want to see happen to the plants that were so well taken care of by Watari. Although Tatsumi was not about to get something like a cactus which really only needed water every few days. No, he wanted something else entirely.

“You can touch the flowers as long as you’re gentle,” Watari spoke behind Tatsumi, once again startling him and releasing a breath of relief. He heard Watari chuckle as he turned slightly to see the blonde. “Just be careful. Sometimes feeling the plant helps you pick out what you want.”

“How did you know I was looking for anything though?” Tatsumi wondered as his brow knitted together.

“The way you were looking at the plants and going through the shelves. It seemed as if you either looking for a specific plant, or deciding on what would be best,” the blonde explained with his right hand pointed up towards the air to make his point along with a smile.

“Right, well actually I’ll be leaving an apartment and the plant I had before seems to have been taken by one of the other residents. So I was only looking around to see what would be best for when I left,” Tatsumi explained, turning back to the flowers, finding his eyes drawn to a honey colored one, only to be reminded it was a similar color to Watari’s eyes.

“Oh! Well, as long as the plant is taken good care of right?” Tatsumi nodded, but found that he wanted to know more about the flower he had found.

“What’s this flower?” He pointed toward the flower that captured his eyes.

“That would be a Gerbera Daisy. Actually I’m a little surprised you picked that flower. Did you perhaps know about its meaning beforehand?” Tatsumi could hear the amusement in Watari’s voice as he spoke about the plant in question, yet honestly Tatsumi had just fancied the color of the flower and nothing more.

“No, I just thought it reminded me of your eyes is all,” he said before cursing himself for saying something like that out in the open. What was he thinking?

“Well you have good taste then,” Watari said with a laugh. “The flower itself means that the person is rather happy about their future. Since you’ll be moving to some place new, this flower fits perfectly.”

Tatsumi blinked a few times, finding the meaning behind the flower odd that it fit rather well. “Do all flowers have some sort of meaning?”

“Of course they do, why do you think they are given as presents? Most people don’t know them anymore, but there are some enthusiastic people out there who still do,” Watari went to straighten one of the pots of flowers that seemed to have been just fine where they were sitting to Tatsumi.

“As the owner I take it you know the meaning behind them all as well,” Tatsumi stated betting it was a safe bet considering how much the other seemed to care about the flowers in his shop. It was then that another particular flower caught his attention.

Upon seeing it, he briskly walked over to make sure his cobalt blue eyes were not playing tricks on him. But no, it was exactly the flower he had seen only once in a magazine. They were dubbed the Ghost Orchid and only grew in either Cuba or Florida. Tatsumi remembered having read about them having been presumed extinct, but they had reappeared again. To see one in a flower shop here in Japan, that was something quite astonishing. He felt the urge to touch the delicate petals, but decided against it for fear of harming such a plant. When he noticed the pricing to be near that of any other orchid, Tatsumi turned to find Watari, who had followed him, curiosity alight in his face.

“Do you know what this is?” Tatsumi demanded, having been a bit too harsh for his liking. The tone seemed to put off the other, who raised an eyebrow, but proceeded to look at the flower.

“Yes, an orchid.”

“Not just any orchid. This is a rare Ghost Orchid. Where did you get this?” He watched the other stare at the flower with interest, but comprehension had still not brightened in his eyes.

“Actually this one was given to me by someone who could no longer take care of it. Something about belonging to a family member who had recently passed away. I’ve never heard of this ‘Ghost Orchid’, could you tell me more?” Watari asked while he rushed to the counter, pulling out a small notepad and a small pen. It was then a hoot sounded followed by the flapping of wings. A rather ruffle feathered owl perched itself on the man’s shoulders. “003, I will feed you in a moment.”

“You have an owl?” Tatsumi shook his head and gave a small chuckle. Would this man stop surprising him?

“Yes, I nursed him when he was just an owlet. He’s stayed with me ever since,” Watari explained, scratching the watchful owl on its head affectionately. “He usually sleep during the day here in the shop with me until it’s time for dinner. Although tonight someone’s a bit early.”

A hoot was the owl’s reply before nuzzling the blonde on the side of the face.

“Now, about the flower. What do you know about it?”

Pencil poised to start writing, Tatsumi told the man everything he had read the in the magazine. While he spoke, Watari feverishly wrote down notes about the flower, only being mildly distracted by 003 who insisted on being fed to the point he would not allow the two to further their discussion. And so about an hour passed with the talk of the flower and other rare plant Tatsumi had read about. It was during their discussion that another patron had come in, interrupting them in order to pick up an order. Tatsumi then had the opportunity looked at his watch as the other went to grab the order, realizing how late it had become.

“Have a nice day ma’am,” Watari gave her a bright smile, while 003 hooted his own farewell to the older lady. “What’s wrong Tatsumi?”

“It seems I’m a little late in picking up a cake and bringing it back home. Is there by any chance I could come by again? I could bring in the magazine I read,” Tatsumi wondered, as he contemplated how terrible he sounded. Sure he found the company of the blonde rather welcome after what he had been through, but he hardly wanted to be a bother to the other. Not to mention he was supposed to be on the hunt for a new job.

“Of course! You’re welcome any time. Oh please bring the magazine. I’ll have to make sure this plant is taken good care of. Thank you for telling me about it,” Watari said, having already placed the rare orchid on the counter, taking off the sale price of the flower. “I’ll keep it here on the desk until I can find someone I can trust to take care of it.”

“Good, I would hate to see such a lovely flower die,” relief coating his voice as he retrieved his coat which had sufficiently dried while the two had talked. Shrugging it on, he then grabbed the towel he had used and brought it back to the counter. “Thank you again. It has been a rather pleasurable afternoon.”

“You make it sound as if we were on a date,” Watari pointed out to Tatsumi’s horror who had not even thought of that.

“I’m sorry, I-“

“I was only teasing,” Watari said with a chuckle, a smile brightening up the blonde’s face. “Until next time?”

“Yes,” Tatsumi said with a content smile and a nod of his head.

“Good, bend down just slightly,” Watari’s face grew seriously for a moment, which confused Tatsumi, but did as he was told. Within moments, a white gardenia was placed behind his ear. “There we go. For your visit here at Hanakatoba.”