Chapter 1: Chapter One
The tingle of bells signifying a customer makes your head swivel in the direction of the door. Almost eagerly— if "eagerly" could be used to describe the calculatedly cool manner in which you do anything.
And then the part of your brain which deals with facial recognition stops taking a coffee break back behind the dumpster and slaps you in the face.
And pumped full of smiles and energy, no less, much like one of those cheap $2 balloons you can buy from the supermarket as an afterthought. Happy birthday! Congratulations! I'm so proud of you, I decided to take some precious time from my schedule to get you this cheap foil sleeve full of helium. I hope your life has been made significantly more cheery!
He waits for a reciprocal greeting, as always.
You don't give him one.
Instead, you flick your shaded eyes back down to the magazine that had your attention before the bells roused you from the neat little columns of Cosmopolitan sex tips. You've made it a habit of highlighting the more hilarious ones, then going home and cutting them out and pasting them onto a board you keep in the kitchen. Sometimes, even the temptation of freshly brewed coffee wasn't enough motivation to leave your bed in the morning. Thank God for Cosmo.
"I see you're as amiable as always, then!"
The familiar itchy tendrils of irritation are beginning to gnaw at you. You very subtly raise the magazine another inch or two. Even though you know the flimsy paper isn't enough to block him out entirely, maybe you can pretend for a few more minutes.
Right before your man is about to climax, sprinkle pepper underneath his nose to make him sneeze.
"Got any new flowers in since the last time I dropped by?"
Keep on a blingy necklace during sex. It’ll draw extra attention to your girls.
Some rustling noises. He's poking around the shop.
"You know those treats you used to find at the bottom of a cereal box? One morning, I hid the new finger vibrator I’d just gotten in my guy’s cereal for him to discover."
Now wouldn't that be an awfully interesting breakfast.
Chill a bunch of marbles in the fridge. Toss them on the bed and make him lie on them while you straddle him.
"C'mon, Mr. Strider, you should treat your paying customers with more respect, you know. It's not good for business! And also, impolite."
You cringe inwardly— nothing showing on the smooth surface of your deadpan, of course— not only because lying on a bed full of cold marbles seems like it would be uncomfortable as fuck, but also because you hate it when he calls you "Mr. Strider".
You hate it a lot. You hate everything he does, actually. Somewhere amid the many days of him wandering in and idly loitering around your shop, attempting to make conversation, mild annoyance blossomed into something more deeply rooted. No pun intended. (Or maybe it was. This was a plant shop, after all, and puns did have a certain ironic charm to them.)
The sudden crash of terra cotta against linoleum yanks you from the seat of your relatively peaceful thought train about where puns rank on the irony meter.
You could scream.
Without so much as the faintest twitch of your jaw, however, you lay your magazine down on the counter with surgeon-like precision. You stand up and go grab the broom and dustpan from their respective racks on the wall.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to, Mr. Strider, I can help..." he trails off. The tiny smirk that pulls at the corner of his lips— he's bad at hiding it— tells you more than you could care to know as you start sweeping clumps of soil and broken pot bits into a pile.
"Asshole," you reply, curse dropping off your tongue like a fish sinker.
"Rude," he retorts, without missing a beat.
He nonchalantly leans against an aisle of pansy window boxes (don't, you think) and watches as you with what could only be amusement as you clean up the mess that he made.
"So, how's business?"
"Somewhere between the avenues of Fuck Off and Not-Your-Goddamn beeswax."
"Beeswax? That's a new one. Are those the avenues in the new part of town? I haven't been over there yet, maybe you could give me directions."
"Nah. Next town over. You know, the one full of grimy old guys whose hobbies involve hassling good-looking young men while they try to make a living for themselves as a small business owner of America. You're not familiar with it? I thought that's where you were born. You've gotta at least have relatives living over there." You scrape up the larger clumps of dirt and deposit them into a plastic bag, a crinkling noise following your movements.
"As a matter of fact, I do! Several cousins. They've got no choice other than torment crabby little florists in their rinky-dink flower shops. It's that, or slowly become consumed with ennui as they watch paint dry. The boredom rates there are quite criminal. They're in good need of Netflix." He finishes the statement with a slight bob of his head, as if he was nodding affirmation to himself. His many quirks— like everything else about him— also annoy you.
"At least the flowers cover the smell of their horrendous body odor. Or attempt to, anyway. Nature doesn't work miracles."
"Comments like that can really hurts someone's self esteem, Mr. Strider!" he admonishes, but he can't keep the grin from his face and it completely ruins the effect. You hate him for ruining humor, too. Which is a shame, because he really has so much potential, if he could only pull it off. Like you do.
"Do you see this bag?" You finish gathering the larger pieces of broken terra cotta into the plastic bag, then straighten up, holding it out a few inches from his face and giving it a good shake.
After a long pause— which you drag out for dramatic effect— you continue.
"These are all the fucks I give."
And then you walk across the room and dump it in the trash.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
wow john just make your mind up already
"Wow, that was the most original display of not giving a fuck that I've ever seen," he comments, amusement caught in the lines of his smile.
His unending optimism grates against your nerves, the perpetual grins and soft chuckles tacked onto the end of every sentence, everything. How could anyone possibly be that happy, every waking moment of their lives? Or, at least, every waking moment he spends in your shop. Which was every waking moment too many. It makes you want to clench your jaw and grind your teeth in frustration.
You don't, though.
He would know he was getting to you, then. He would know he was winning.
"So, all metaphors involving non-existent birthplaces and relatives aside, I'm assuming business is normal as always?"
No, you most certainly could not let him win.
"Or, at least, normal enough that you can't kick me out yet."
As much as it annoys you to admit it, he's right. You wouldn't allow him to set foot in your little shop if you could help it. But he was a paying customer, and hey, money was money. Especially if it was keeping you in your heated apartment and not shivering on the side of the street, a rusty old Cambell's soup can in front of you while you beg for the pocket change of those more fortunate.
By not replying to his guess, though, he's already caught on.
"I won't disappoint, then!" He practically springs away (reminding you of those silly little gazelle hopping around in the tall grass of an African plain-- Or were those antelope? They might be. Or maybe it was both? It was possible that it was both, but the real question is why are you even wandering down this alleyway of thought in the first place? You tend to zone out a lot).
A couple of plants wobble dangerously on the rack he's just abandoned, and he disappears deeper into the shop.
Out of sight is not out of mind in this case. The worry about him breaking more things is even more real than your distaste for being in his company, so you quickly finish cleaning up the fallen pot and follow after him.
He wanders about the shop aimlessly, which is enough to make you snort out a sigh (you don't), because he does this every time. Every. Single. Time.
He always ends up in front of the same row, even if it takes him a good quarter hour of perusing plants he has no interest in buying. You think it's an enormous waste of both his and your time, even if there aren't any other customers for you to tend to. You're missing out on some fantastic Cosmo sex tips.
He finally stops in the aisle of little potted plants. He gets one every time he's here. You balk to think of the mass of them dotted around his (presumably messy, he seems like a messy slob type to you) apartment. No man needs that many tiny potted plants. He buys them anyway.
After what seems like hours— with a session of Q&A that's routine for you both by this point, with him asking questions about plant breeds that he doesn't give a shit about, and you answering in the automated, generic tone of someone who doesn't give a shit either— he finally makes his choice, selecting one full of little golden and yellow flowers.
You raise an eyebrow at him. "That's an Acacia plant, you know, it grows up a lot bigger than that little pot it's sitting in right now."
"The size of Texas," you spit back sarcastically, the roll of your eyes lost behind your shades. "Or maybe Rhode Island."
"Wow, Texas? That's pretty big. I don't know if I can fit a Texas in my apartment. Maybe a Rhode Island, but not a Texas."
"I'm just shitting you. I bet it doesn't grow to be an inch bigger than your mom's dick." You snatch the potted plant from his hands and walk over to the cash register. After a laugh, he follows you.
You don't realize your mistake as you begin ringing up his ridiculous little plant, the total illuminated in glowing green numbers on the screen.
"Dude, is this Cosmopolitan?"
His grubby little paws are all over your magazine, greasy nose almost touching the page and Jesus Christ if he wasn't the only frequent customer other than that awkward hipster guy with a stutter who couldn't woo his wannabe girlfriend for all the flowers in the world, you swear you would punch him right in his stupid little face right now.
"There's this thing called private fucking property, which means hands off before you ruin my premium reading material with the copious amounts of oil from your clammy little palms," you snap, yanking the magazine from him. Usually you're a lot more careful to stow it out of sight when he comes in.
He snickers. "Dude, Cosmo? Seriously?"
"Pay for your gay-ass little plant and get the fuck out of my shop."
Still chuckling, he pulls a couple of wadded bills from his wallet, and takes an excruciating mount of time paying in exact change. There was that one time he came in with a jar full of pennies, though, and insisted on counting out every single one of them to buy a plant for $4.99. You were close to dumping the entire thing over his head.
He finally pays, and you snatch up the money and drop everything into their respective containers in the cash register. He scoops up his little plant and begins to slowly saunter over to the door, taking his sweet time.
"See you tomorrow, Mr. Strider!"
The bells tinkle, and he's gone.
Relief that that's out of the way for another day, you smooth out the wrinkles in your magazine and delve back into the wondrous knowledge that Cosmo has to offer you.
hey y'know comments are always nice they give me the motivation to keep writing stuff since it assures me that not everything i pop out is utter poppycock and that people are actually interested in reading things from my own two hands
that probably sounded weird
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
dave misses his boyfriend and has make-believe daydreams of actually being cool
(spoiler: he'll never be cool. he reads a fucking cat magazine for crying out loud)
He doesn't come back the next day, actually.
Or the day after that.
You finish reading your snipped-apart magazine and lay it off to the side. Now you've got a whole month of waiting before the next issue comes out. Lovely. Usually this was about the time you started in on Cat Fancy, but that hadn't turned up in your mailbox yet, either.
Faced with no more legitimate reasons to waste your time, you're forced to do what could only be the most foulest of activities imaginable.
You're forced to actually do your job.
And since he's not there to stink up the atmosphere, it turns out to be... not that bad.
A guy in a wheelchair comes in, pushed by his lankier friend. You've seen them in here a few times prior. The faint smell of weed is noticeable even above the flowers, but you pretend not to notice.
Other people drift in and out. A lady with a pink scarf. A tiny woman who spends an awful lot of time in the catnip section. A sweaty, hulk of a guy who follows her in and lingers behind her with an uncomfortable expression. The details are blurry, since none of them put up as much of a fuss as he would. Everyone else is easy to satisfy, and they act politely (if not entirely pleasantly) to you.
You hate your job.
You hate everything about it.
The counter beneath your cheek is cool, wire rim of your shades riding up against your face. You're currently enjoying the quiet atmosphere of an empty shop. The last customer had been that pretentious hipster ass, and he'd taken nearly an hour picking over the perfect bouquet, whining about quality this and premium selection that.
All you had wanted to do was punch him in the face and scream they're just fucking flowers, who gives a shit, make up your goddamn mind before I upend this bag of fertilizer down your crotch and hope for your own sake that something actually grows down there for once.
Of course, you couldn't shake the notion that this might be bad for business, so you sat through his nitpicking over which combination of daffodils and lillies would best woo this chick he couldn't bed to save his soul.
The only reason you're annoyed by his absence is because, without being able to rely on his patronship, you were stuck with only one reliable asshole. At least two ensured that you'd be able to sustain your magazine subscriptions. You might have to drop Cat Fancy now, and that would really be quite a shame. You'd miss out on all the cute pictures and humorous first-person anecdotes about cats doing silly things.
If you could only find a reliable customer who wasn't an asshole, didn't break the shit in your shop (or rib you over being a perfectly capable 27-year-old man running a shop full of flowers), and also didn't have problems finding their significant other.
You wonder what you did to make him stay away. Nothing had been out of place last time. He usually broke shit, and you usually cleaned it up for him, all while entertaining his useless attempts at witty banter. And then he bought an idiotic little potted plant and you kicked him out. That was the status quo.
Though, really, his "useless attempts at witty banter" was becoming more and more like watching a child flail a wooden sword around, smacking himself blindly in the face with it. Far too clumsy and frivolous to actually do any damage.
Meanwhile, you're an expert swordsman, your blade made of pure irony, able to carve intricate displays of the most biting sarcasm. Cutting someone down with a string of metaphorical satire, the golden hilt gleaming in your all-too-capable hands. You could be a soldier, perhaps. Or a knight. You think you rather like the idea of being a knight. Better than a soldier, at least. The title "knight" seems to carry with it a certain air of nobility. Maybe it could even be heroic.
The bells tied to the front door tingle, shattering your concentration. The images of you in dull grey armor with a red cape tied around your neck dissolve into a pile of fragments quicker than you can catch them, your gleaming sword breaking in half. Fuck.
You shift your eyes up just slightly, barely managing to keep the irritation from the creases of your forehead. What kind of asshole...
Then you recognize him.
Him, to be more accurate.
And of course he would be just the kind of asshole to trample all over your daydreams.
You sit up so quickly, the stool beneath you rattles loudly and scrapes back and for a terrifying second you think you're about to fall. You manage to catch your balance, however, and save yourself from the disgrace of being sprawled all over the dirty shop floor.
And he's not smiling.
hi thank you people for the comments
you're rad and i appreciate each and every one of you :')
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
dave's not gonna let john show him up in the asshole olympics
He walks inside. Usually you don't notice the clothing he wears, but you can't possibly miss the dark, three piece suit, a blue tie fastened around his neck.
He doesn't greet you.
Your mind spins and spins, trying to latch onto a shred of normalcy. Just what in the fuck was going on here?
"I need flowers. For a funeral. Do you have any?" he says, statements staccato, tone quick, subtle jitters in his movements making it obvious how impatient he is. The phrase "looking like you're going to a funeral" is brought to mind.
You move your jaw noiselessly for a moment, manage to cover it by yawning, then shrug.
"I don't know, maybe. Is this a flower shop?"
"I don't have time for the banter today, okay? Just give me whatever you've got." He pulls a phone from his pocket-- the first time you've seen it since he first started coming to your shop-- and taps out a number.
He raises the phone to his ear with a meaningful glance to you, then walks outside again, bells echoing his exit. You can see him standing on the sidewalk outside, rocking back and forth on his feet, mouth moving noiselessly through the glass.
Wasn't that brusque. Alright, he wants flowers? You'll give him flowers.
You hop off your stool and go over to the section that the Unfortunately Reliable Customer Number Uno had just been in, rows full of vibrant rose clusters and pink frilly things called arbutus filling your vision. The stereotypical kind of bouquets you'd typically see being passed out left and right on Valentine's day.
You walk over and pick the largest, gaudiest one, 18 promiscuous red roses spilling from the top, nestled into a cluster of baby's breath. The thought of his irritated expression when he comes back almost makes you want to snicker quietly to yourself (you don't).
The bells tinkle. He's back in, the phone out of sight, distraction written in his every movement. You hate him for being the absolute worst at controlling his body language.
You hate him a lot.
"Yo. Got your flowers." You call over to him, giving the flowers in your hand a little shake, deadpan perfectly intact.
His eyes flit to them for less than a second, hands already reaching for his back pocket.
He's missing the joke. Or maybe he's playing along. You don't think he's playing along, but it's been two days and maybe you're just rusty at reading the signs.
It's been two days, and he hasn't been around to murk up the atmosphere in your shop since then. It's been two days and Cat Fancy still isn't in your mailbox so how the fuck are you supposed to entertain yourself now, if he's not going to be the perfect asshole that you're used to?
He's playing along. You refuse to accept any other explanation.
"Ninety bucks," you tell him, without so much as the faintest twitch of your expression. You most certainly are not going to be the one who cracks first. You'll show him.
He walks over to the cash register.
You sit them down on the counter, and he takes out his wallet, slipping out an honest-to-god credit card.
No exact change.
You've never seen him use anything else before.
He slides the card through, and you ring him up slower than usual, giving him the chance to back out.
Because you know he will.
You slide him the receipt. He signs it, hands the pen back to you, then scoops up the flowers meant for a lover not someone's funeral without another word and disappears out the door, bells mocking his exit.
You grip the pen he just placed in your hand, frozen.
He hadn't been kidding.
You resist the overwhelming urge to run out the door and chase him down, forcing your eyes down to the receipt he'd left instead, reading over the messy scrawl of blue letters.
Funny, in all the time he's ever been in your shop, you'd never thought to ask him his name.
You shake your head slowly, trying to dislodge that nagging feeling of what couldn't be guilt, of all things. You're Dave Strider. You don't know guilt. And you most certainly don't feel guilty just because some asshole couldn't tell the difference between a basket full of red roses and a wreath laced with white lilies. It's not your fault he's an idiot. You could honestly give less than a single fuck.
You crumple up the receipt and toss it into the trash. Not a single fuck, nope.
John Egbert is going to be thirty-two different flavors of pissed off when he comes back.
If he comes back.
hi and welcome to the realm of slow updating fics, complimentary mints are on the table over there
you know what ok i dont even care about this one because i used my time in a GOOD way you know what i did
i went through the ENTIRE JAKE ENGLISH TAG and i found the VERY FIRST POST EVER MADE IN IT
pics or it didn't happen?? http://i45.tinypic.com/23rty04.png bam theres some photographic evidence for u right there
my time management skills are impeccable water u talkin about
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
He doesn't come back the next day.
You can't really say you're surprised.
At closing time, you shoo out the last lingering customers (including that one girl who consistently stays behind and shoots you sultry glances from the rows of plant fertilizer-- if only you informed her that she was leaning against bags of cow poop, maybe she'd finally realize this was a shop meant for flowers and not fornication).
You flip the card on the door to the "CLOSED" side, locking it behind you. It's not that late-- you close early on Fridays-- but the sky above is already dark with the signs of a lurking storm. Better get home fast. You'd really hate to get soaked.
You tuck the shop key into the pocket of your jeans, take two steps, and bam.
You walk right into someone you know.
Someone you know very well, in fact, as unfortunate as it is.
"Rude, David. I was under the impression you'd passed the age where tripping all over other people's feet was socially acceptable."
Her eyes are full of that quiet amusement that you're so used to seeing, her snark evident in her tone, if not on her complacent expression. You take a few steps back, trying not to scowl.
Your sister is kind of an ass.
"Well, I thought you had better manners than to lurk about until closing time, ready to prey on a poor, unwitting flowerboy. You should pick on someone your own size."
"And poor indeed he is. Coffee? It seems like millennia since we've last spoken."
"Nah, actually, I've got stuff to do tonight." You try to step around her, but she immediately moves to counter you, blocking your way once more.
"Like peruse the depths of your mailbox for a certain magazine so you can curl up on the couch with a bowl of some junk food and browse through it?"
She knows you too well.
You open your mouth to shoot back a biting retort, but then she holds something up, completely serene.
It's this month's issue of Cat Fancy.
You'd even go as far to say that it's your issue of Cat Fancy.
"You really must get out more, Dave, you're going to end up like one of those old ladies with an apartment full of cats. You'll have stacks of these magazines stowed away, which will reach the ceiling and cover the doorway, further barring any potential attempts at socialization with the rest of the world," she tuts. "I won't take more than an hour or two of your precious time, I promise."
And with that, she turns and starts walking, completely sure that you'll follow. She thinks she knows you so well, doesn't she? Snatching up your magazine-- that you could very well get from a convenience store, even if getting caught buying it would be a little embarrassing-- and basically bribing you to come with her.
She thinks she knows you so well. You could just turn around right now, go home, maybe rearrange those alphabet letters into something new (right now they boasted SWAGGGGGG with a total of no less than 6 G's, you'd had to buy three packs of letters to get that many and were personally quite pleased with your accomplishment). Watch TV. Heat up a microwave pizza. Go to bed. If she thought you had to come tagging along with her on her quest to strengthen your familial bonds, she had herself another thing coming.
She stops. Looks at you with a quirked eyebrow.
After a moment, you walk after her.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
everybody haaaaaaaates daaaaaaaave
You both enter the coffee shop of Rose's choosing-- one of those little hole-in-the-wall diners with a cozy, if not slightly gloomy, atmosphere. The lights are dim and the only seating you can see aside from a couple of tables and a couch is the bar at front. From the corner of your eye, you think you catch sight of some bookcases, though you don't turn your head to actually look. You don't want Rose to think you're actually interested in this little shit diner, after all.
The place is entirely empty save for the person attending the bar, a curvy waitress who appears to be sketching on a clipboard. She looks up when you two enter.
This is exactly the sort of hangout you can imagine your sister visiting often.
Rose directs you to a table near the window. You throw yourself down as if you never intend to leave (it's ironic because you could think of a hundred different things you'd rather be doing), slouching a little, since you know she hates it when you do that. And sure enough, her lips purse almost undetectably when she notices. You take a private moment to bask in your accomplishment.
The waitress sets her clipboard down and comes over. She and nods to Rose, the corners of her lips twitched upward in a friendly smile. One that dissolves on contact when she notices you.
"What will it be for you two on this fine evening?"
"A far cry from fine, I'd say," Rose tuts as the first splatters of rain begin to splash down outside. "I'll have the usual, thanks."
"Whatever she's having," you interject quickly before the waitress can stare at you too long. Something about the way her demeanor shifts towards you makes you just a tiny bit uneasy. Her heels clack off, leaving you alone again.
"So, how has your life been faring?" Rose tilts her head, folds her hands neatly on the table, and looks directly at you.
You avoid her gaze and avert your attention to the sidewalk outside. A few people rush this way and that, trying to make it to shelter before it really starts pouring down. You wouldn't want to go blind from looking at something as ugly as your sister's face for such a concentrated amount of time, after all.
"The usual. Bought a Porsche, called up a few hookers. Rearranged that huge pile of money by my bed so it's more comfortable."
"Have you fixed that problem with the plumbing so that quarters spill out instead of that unacceptable clear liquid substance yet?"
"Nah. Working on it, though. Between mounting that shiny new stripper pole in my bedroom and rearranging my collection of gold necklaces, I haven't had the time."
"At least the strippers will be satisfied," she muses. "With your vast collection of bling bling, I'm surprised you have time to do anything else at all."
The waitress comes back in a remarkably short period of time, carrying two gleaming mugs on a platter, frothy whipped cream spilling from the top. She sits one delicately down in front of Rose. Then she sets yours by you as well, but as her hand comes down it tips a little and spills burning hot liquid onto your hand.
You yelp and splutter something unintelligible, curse words lodged in your throat, as the waitress hastily offers up an apology.
"It's fine, he's just a bit overdramatic," Rose assures her, and you glare daggers from behind your shades as you snatch up a couple of napkins and start sopping up the coffee from your skin.
"What's her problem?" You mutter under your breath as she gracefully glides away again.
"Is it really so unimaginable that a waitress can make a simple mistake?"
"Yeah, but that was definitely aimed at me."
"You think so highly of yourself," she sighs. "Not everything's about you. And unless you've actually been holding up a social life under my radar, you don't even know her. It's ridiculously paranoid to think that she's got it in for you just because of a little spilled drink."
"Yeah, a boiling hot spilled beverage all over the back of my hand." The flesh is already beginning to take on a faint pink color. You clamp your mouth shut, at risk of more lecturing from your sister, and eye your coffee with a feeling of distain. You'd rather shove tacks in your mouth than drink the offending beverage now.
You sit in silence as Rose drinks from hers, careful to dab away the whipped cream that clings to her upper lip (and occasionally her nose) after every sip. You examine the wilting pot of flowers standing just outside the door, and silently criticize the methods of the person who put them out there.
You don't plant flowers so close together like that, the roots will hog all of the nutrients from one another and then they'll both start dying out if one's not stronger than the other. Idiot. You wonder if that waitress was the one who planted them. You hope she was. Then you'll know she's an idiot.
"So, for fear that we spend the rest of this meeting in awkward silence, I'm proposing a new conversation topic, though it's quite straightforward in comparison to how our conversations usually go," she says, and you jump a little, thoughts still on the flower pot outside.
"Have you met anyone special yet, Dave? Other than those hookers awaiting you in your bedroom, of course."
You raise your eyebrows for effect and shoot her the most scandalized expression you can muster. "I'm getting married next week, you hag. Guess you didn't get invited. I'm not sorry."
"Don't fool yourself, Dave, gay marriage isn't legalized yet."
"Wow, way to rain on my parade," you say as a clap of thunder booms from outside. Perfect timing. You allow yourself to bask in the ego boost this gives you.
"Let me put it in more blatant terms, then," she says. "Are you fucking anyone on a regular basis?"
"Nope. What's the fun in sex if you don't risk herpes every time?" The response slides off your tongue automatically. Never mind that you haven't spent an intimate moment-- sober or not-- in bed for over months. Rose doesn't have to know that.
"Pity. Though I don't hold you to the image of being a domesticated husband ready to hop on the opportunity to start a family, I must remind you that neither of us are getting any younger."
"So what about you, huh?"
The corner of her mouth twitches a tiny amount. You are suddenly very, very interested in the conversation, if she's showing this much expression. Unfortunately, she changes the topic before you can delve into the raunchy wonder of her sex life.
"What about friends?"
"If you're not having rampant sex with a reliable partner, then do you at least have someone you talk for reasons other than necessity?"
"Nah. Friends are for chumps," you shrug. "You have to take care of them and actually care about their problems, plus they eat your food and take your money, from what I hear. Not really my style."
"I cannot believe I've been reduced to asking this, then, but do you have any customers you talk to?"
"I talk to all of them. I tell them how much their total is. Sometimes I explain the delicate art of gardening, or recommend a book to guide them on their spiritual journey of caring for magnolia bushes."
Her face is as blank as yours, but you can sense the growing frustration beneath the surface of her cool exterior.
"David Lalonde Strider, you need to get a life."
You're taken back for a moment.
"Rosalind Grace Lalonde, you need to stop trying to live other people's lives for them. You're not even my real mom."
"You're twenty-seven and the only contact you have with the rest of humanity is for a purely financial reason!" she says impatiently, disregarding your latter attempt at humor, her fingers starting to tap on the table. "It's not healthy, and I'm afraid for your psychological state I'm going to have to intervene."
You're about to shoot back a biting retort at how she's acting like a condescending sack of shit even more than usual today, but the waitress has returned to your table before you can get it out.
"Is everything okay?" she asks, looking at you suspiciously. Neither of your tones had risen more than a fraction of your usual volume, yet, with regard to the quietness of the room, perhaps the waitress had been eavesdropping.
"Fine," Rose answers.
"Can I get anything for you and your...?"
"Brother. And no, I believe we're good. Just the bill."
The waitress glances at you again before leaving. She still looks disapproving, but something in her attitude has changed again, though you're not sure what.
People can be so frustrating sometimes.
Rose doesn't make an attempt at starting up the conversation again, so you marinate in stagnant awkwardness and return to looking out the window. You pick out two dew drops and mentally place bets on which one will slide down the fastest.
This gets boring in a record-breaking amount of time. Maybe it's because of the almost tangible storm cloud you can feel brewing between you two. You sigh. Someone's gotta be the mature one here.
"I gave a guy roses for a funeral."
She looks from where she was looking at something on the other side of the room, a single eyebrow raised.
"One of my douchebag regulars. He said he needed funeral flowers, so I stuck him with something that had a little pizzazz."
"Whose funeral was it?"
"Not sure. He was stupid enough to actually buy them, though. Can't imagine that'll sit well when he gets there."
"Well, in my experience, dead cats don't really care what flowers you bring them one way or another. Though to be fair, my experience isn't anywhere near similar to what most people's is."
"You think he'll be mad when he comes back?"
"You're implying that you think he'll come back," she sits up a little, her interest piqued again. Uh oh. Maybe your generosity in trying to keep a conversation going was a bad idea. "And he's a regular. What's his name?"
"His name is fuck off. Fuck off is his name. Do you think he'll be mad when he comes back?" you repeat the question. Not that you actually care about the answer, but you want her to shut up and stop dogging you about the more personal details of this guy.
She rolls her eyes a little. Your attempt at steering the conversation is obviously not smooth enough for her. "I don't know, Dave, do you? After all, I know nothing about this mysterious figure you refuse to tell me about, and I've already shared the one experience I've had involving a funeral. Just in case you missed that."
The waitress walks back over and places a bill on the table. Rose thanks her and scoops it up before you can move to take it.
"I'm paying, I suppose it's the least I can do after dragging you out here." The no-nonsense attitude to her done makes you drop the argument before you can even start it.
"I apologize for your hand, earlier," the waitress speaks to you. She seems genuinely sorry, in light of her attitude towards you earlier. "There's a discount included on the bill."
You don't know what to make of this sudden change of demeanor towards you. Roses kicks you from under the table, reminding you of your manners.
"Thanks," you say gruffly, mainly to hide the yelp of pain squeaking out from your esophagus. Rose pays, and the waitress collects the bill and leaves.
You stare at your untouched coffee as Rose looks out the window.
"You could always just apologize, you know."
"If he does turn out to feel resentful over your little flower stunt. It wouldn't cripple you to swallow your pride every now and then."
You turn your gaze out the window as well. It's really pouring down now, the sidewalk and buildings outside reduced to a blurry water world.
You don't voice the snide innuendo on your tongue.
You don't answer her at all.
Instead, you finally pick up your coffee and take a small sip.
(It tastes like liquid shit and you do a spit-take all over your sister, gagging. The waitress rushes over with paper towels and tries to help dry her off, her eyes once again on death-laser mode as she glares at you.
This really not your day.)
isn't subtle hints at other ships gr8
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
fuckin' dora the explorer enthusiasts
Exactly eight days, one hour, and nine minutes pass before you see him again.
(You think, anyway. You've always had a thing for time, but then again, you could just be pulling these numbers straight from your asscrack. It doesn't matter much, anyway, in the private cabin of your own personal thought train-- who gave a damn where the numbers came from, kick back and enjoy the view out the window.)
However, it's only seven days, twenty-three hours, and forty minutes after John Egbert carries the ridiculous bouquet off to a funeral when you run into a problem.
A very noticeable problem.
You stand outside your shop, ten minutes (and thirty one seconds) before opening time, key dangling from your hand as you survey the sight before you in what isn't quite shock.
No, definitely not shock-- maybe not even surprise. You're too cool to be taken off guard-- you're Dave motherfucking Strider. You make the calls on what constitutes as jaw-dropping worthy or not, and this little incident just does not merit the seal of approval.
The first thing you notice wrong is the spray painted pictures on the surface of your windows. Which is really bad enough to begin with, the tacky bright-blue paint spelling out childish commentary. And by "childish" you meant that one of the words was literally "POOP" and it was two feet tall. You might have just gotten vandalized by a very malicious Dora the Explorer enthusiast. But maybe then it would read "CACA" instead. God, you hoped this would come off.
This may prove to be the least of your worries, however, because then you look behind the words painted on the windows and into the actual shop, and you notice that all of your plants are gone.
Spirited away, just like that one movie by Hayao Mizaki.
You get the door open in smooth, precise movements, radiating nothing but pure calm as you walk into the bare room. You're a reverse space heater. A fridge in the middle of the arctic tundra. Penguins waddling around, crowding to get some of your freeze pops.
You get inside.
Your shelves have been rearranged in a way that you're forced to follow a designated path unless you want to squeeze around through some uncomfortably tight spots. Hey, you may wriggle your ass into sinfully tight jeans every morning, but this is an altogether new experience. Especially since they were all, you know, completely fucking empty shelves.
You feel not unlike a rat stuck in a maze.
A maze of empty aisles and no fucking plants where in the world were your daffodils and azaleas and pansies and what was going on oh hell.
You find them on the roof.
All of them.
Their leaves ruffle in the faint breeze on top of the building, rows of them left haphazardly everywhere. Some are even stacked on one another, pyramid style, and it makes you mad (no, not quite mad-- mad isn't cool-- how about, mildly annoyed? No, that's not right either...) to think that these plants have been out here an entire night, in the freezing cold, squishing one another. How inconsiderate and stupid did you have to be?
The fact that whoever did this-- as if you weren't already certain-- must have put an awful lot of time into this is almost baffling. What the fuck was even the point? Some people just wanted to watch the world burn.
Reasonable or not, this sets you back in business for a good day or two. Since you run the shop by yourself, you're going to have to put everything back in order without any help. Unless you stooped to the level of asking your sister, but you'd rather throw yourself off the top of your shop before you did that.
Today is going to be a long day.
um woW IT'S BEEN AWHILE I AM SO SORRy sobs into hands i've been..... busy..... with medical issues and school functions and just general procrastination uGH
i originally planned to see this work through to the end no matter what but i just..... weeps some more i'm kind of in a writing slump and every time i look at this piece it makes me cringe in horror because wow iT JUST SUCKS WOW I'M SO SORry that's another reason why this chapter is super short (it's because wow gross) (i don't even care about trying to fix the formatting ao3 just hates me i quit)
i um already have some of the next chapter halfassed but i might not decide to post that at all (in which case this is goodbye) but if i do that might also be the last one (without much closure at all whoOPs) im sorry i just...... sucKkkkKK rolls away
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
fuckin pain in the ass fuckin flowers
He saunters in at exactly 1:04 that afternoon.
You tell yourself that you're just mad because you still haven't gotten to eaten lunch yet, and not because your shop has been brutally fucked up the ass by the hammer of karma. It's just one day of business, anyway. You'll be okay.
At 12:38pm, however, your other regular customer waltzes in.
"W-what do you mean, you're not open?" he splutters, tripping over the w like someone constantly falling down a flight of stairs. It keeps happening...
He adjusts his ridiculously oversized glasses and stares at you like a puppy just denied his routine walk every afternoon.
"Do you not see this mess? I've got a lot of potatoes on my plate right now, in case you haven't noticed. It's like I'm an Irish farmer who just farmed all these potatoes for my family, but my family just tragically died, so now I'm left all by myself and these fucking potatoes. And it's like, well, why let the potatoes go to waste? They never did anything. So now I've gotta eat them all."
He stares at you for a long moment and you think that metaphor probably got away from you a little, yeah. You cough a few times in an attempt to dispel the awkward silence.
"But, Mr. Strider..." he whines. "Howw am I supposed to w-woo Fef noww? If I stop showwin' up w-with flowwers like I normally do, she might think I'vve movved on. That I'm done w-with her! And all my hard w-work w-will be for naught..."
He's still got that shit-eating laser of self-pity revved up on the maximum setting today. Fan-fucking-tastic.
"Fine," you relent. "But make it quick."
When 1:04 rolls around, twenty-six minutes later, he's still nitpicking over the selection. A lot of the flowers are damaged or bruised from being moved so much, and it's evident he won't have his precious "Fef" dealing with a single bruised petal.
"I've got other things to do, dude, could we hurry this up?" you impatiently tap your foot, hovering over his shoulder to make him pick up the pace, but he seems immune to the immense beam of pressure you're emitting from your extremely imposing and threatening shopkeeper form.
Suddenly, the bells on the door give their telltale tinkle.
Does no one read the sign on the front? What the fuck is the purpose of having a sign on your door if no one can fucking read? Irritated, you turn around.
"We're closed today, come back tomor--"
The sentence dies in your throat as you recognize who just walked in.
Primary suspect of your shop vandalism problem number uno.
Your eyes meet and neither of you say a word.