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Floriography

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Jonathan Crane didn’t have much use for flowers. As a matter of fact, apart from such standards as roses or sunflowers, or the peonies and milkweeds his Great Grandmother had been so fond of, he couldn’t name a one. So of course, he thought bitterly, that made him the perfect person to handle the floral arrangements for the head of the psychology department’s wife’s funeral. It wasn’t like he had a thesis to work on or anything more pressing than to pick out flowers for the funeral of a woman he’d seen maybe once or twice during university functions. He’d been told in no uncertain terms however that he had to do something. So, here he was.

Jonathan looked at the floral boutique and scowled. Nothing against the place itself of course. Harley, the only other student in the program that Jonathan had any amount of respect for had recommended it, though Jonathan suspected that had more to do with the fact that her girlfriend owned it than for any other qualities the shop had. Jonathan could just think of a million places he’d rather be than here. He let out a sigh and entered the shop. Better to just get it over with.

The interior of the shop was pleasant enough, even if the layout was more like a greenhouse than Jonathan expected. At the front desk stood a striking red haired  woman about his age tending a pot of flowers. Harley’s girlfriend no doubt. She looked up at him as he entered.

“Welcome to Ivy’s Boutique,” she said. “How may we help you today?”

Jonathan shuffled up towards the counter, eyes wandering to the various flowers on display. “What kind of flowers should I get for a funeral?”

The woman smiled and it made Jonathan’s hackles rise slightly. “You must be Jonathan. Harley told me you’d be here today. I’m Pamela Isley.”

Jonathan gave her a polite nod. “Pleasure to meet you.”

“I’ll get my associate to help you.” Pamela turned toward the back room. “Edward! We have a customer!”

There was no response. “Nashton!” Pamela called out again. “Get out here!”

“I heard you the first time!” an irritated sounding voice called out.

Jonathan raised an eyebrow. “You allow him to speak that way to you?”

“Don’t be too put off,” Pamela soothed. “Edward’s an irritant, but I’ll give him this much: he actually is good at his job. That’s the only reason I keep him here at least.”

“I heard that too!” Edward’s voice sounded from the back. The door to the backroom opened and out walked an auburn haired young man, perhaps a year or two younger than Jonathan, dressed in a lilac shirt and dark green floral apron. He made eye contact with Jonathan and the irritated expression on his face was replaced with a charming smile, which reached the most brilliant green eyes Jonathan had ever seen. “How may I help you?”

Jonathan Crane was not a romantic man, nor did he believe in love at first sight, but in that flower shop, faced with the most beautiful person he’d ever seen, Jonathan Crane was thunderstruck. It took him a moment to find his words, which shamed him. “I need to buy flowers.” he said.

Edward chuckled and Jonathan felt his face burn. “Well, you certainly came to the right place. What’s the occasion?”

“A funeral.”

The smile on Edward’s face faltered somewhat. “Ah. Cheery. Well,” he clasped his hands. “What sort of arrangement were you looking for?”

There was an awkward pause as Jonathan collected his thoughts. “I...she liked orange lilies, so about a dozen?”

Edward crinkled his nose at this and Jonathan would have thought it was adorable, if it wasn’t directed at him. That was how far gone he already was. “Didn’t like the dearly departed I take it?”

Jonathan looked at him, confused by the tone in his voice. “I liked her fine, why?”

“Well, if you liked her, you certainly shouldn’t be sending her orange lilies. Think about the message that sends.”

Jonathan found himself lost. “I’m not sure I follow.”

Edward let out an impatient huff. “Orange lilies mean hatred. Hardly appropriate for a funeral, don’t you think?”

Now Jonathan understood. “You’re talking about floriography.” The language of flowers. Jonathan was vaguely familiar with the concept, but it made sense that this Edward would be well versed in it.

Edward’s eyes lit backup and Jonathan felt his heart beat  faster. He’d never seen such beautiful eyes. “You’ve heard of it. Well, Pam will tell you that there’s no one more well-versed in floriography than me. Right Pam?” Pamela said nothing in response, having long since gone back to tending the other flowers in the shop. Edward gestured for Jonathan to follow him to a display of flowers. Jonathan was almost overwhelmed by the sheer volume and colors on display. “So,” Edward said, looking back up at Jonathan. “For a funeral arrangement, we’ll need-wait. What are you looking for in terms of budget?”

Jonathan fumbled through his coat pocket. The department had at least had a decency to pool money together for this instead of making him pay for it. He pulled out a wad of bills and counted them out. “203 dollars and 13 cents.”

Edward nodded. “Economical. Alright then.” He began pulling a few flowers together. “Let’s see. Pink Carnation: I will never forget you. White Lily: Return of Innocence. White orchid: I will always love you.” Jonathan watched him as he arranged the flowers, trying and failing not to stare, wondering how soft his hair was, what it might be like for those quick fingers to touch him. He was brought out of his thoughts by a question.

“Were you close to the deceased?”

Jonathan shook his head. “Not really. She was my department head’s wife.”

Edward gave him a questioningy look. “You’re a student? Do you go to Gotham University?”

“I’m a graduate student in the psychology program.” Jonathan answered. “What about you?” Please say yes.

“I’m a senior. I’m a computer science major, although my brilliance can’t be contained to just one subject.” From the counter, Pamela scoffed. Edward shot her a glare, then turned his attention back to Jonathan. “Psychology though. What’s your field of study?”

“Behavioral,” Jonathan answered. This man had been at Gotham University all this time? Why hadn’t he ever noticed him? Where had he been? “Actually, my focus is on phobias and fear.”

Edward hummed a bit. “Fascinating.” He put the finishing touches on the bouquet. Before he handed it over to Jonathan, a mischievous look came on his face. Jonathan felt a bit nervous at this. “You already know my name,” he said. “What’s yours? Just to make things fair.”

Jonathan couldn’t help but roll his eyes a bit at this. “Jonathan. Jonathan Crane.”

Edward smiled and handed Jonathan the bouquet. “Pleasure to meet you.”

Jonathan took the bouquet from him and for a second, their fingers brushed together. It was for only an instant to hand off flowers, but to Jonathan, it was if he’d been struck by lightning. “Likewise,” he said, taking the flowers from Edward. Edward said nothing in response but Jonathan knew better than to let himself believe that he’d felt it too.

“That’ll be $189.98,” Pamela called from the counter and the spell was broken. Jonathan walked back up to the counter and placed the crumbled bills on the counter.

“Much obliged,” he said. Before he left the shop, he heard Edward’s voice calling out after him.

“I’ll see you around on campus Jonathan!”

Jonathan knew better than to get his hopes up about that.

When he returned to the department, the bouquet was an instant hit. “I told ya Pam would treat ya right!” Harley crowed. She took the bouquet from him and placed it on her desk. “How’d you like her? Isn’t she great?”

Jonathan nodded absently. “She was fine.”

Harley cocked a blonde eyebrow at him. “What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“I’m fine Harley.” It wouldn’t do him any good to think about Edward. Better to just return to his thesis and forget the shade of his eyes, or how he seemed genuinely interested in his studies. Jonathan sighed. “I’m fine.”


 

The next morning, Jonathan entered the psychology department in a foul mood. He hadn’t slept well at all the previous night and when he had, he’d dreamed of flowers and green eyes. Jonathan scowled. He was too old for this pining nonsense. When he opened the door, Harley was there to greet him, with a wide smile on her face. “Mornin’ Jonny!”

Jonathan was instantly suspicious. Not even Harley was this peppy at 9 in the morning without at least three shots of Expresso. “What is it?”

Harley pointed behind her. “You’ve got a visitor!”

Jonathan looked to where she was pointing and his heart almost stopped. There, sitting at his desk, was Edward. Edward had been playing with his phone but looked up when he heard Jonathan come in. As their eyes met, Edward smiled. “Good morning!”

For the second time in twenty four hours, Jonathan found himself speechless. What was he doing here? “Did you need something?”

Edward shrugged. “My first class doesn’t start for another half an hour. I’m bored.”

Jonathan raised an eyebrow. “Do you track down all of your customers when you’re bored?”

Edward laughed a bit. “No, just the interesting ones. I want a coffee. You look like you could use one too.”

“I’ll cover for ya Jonny!” Harley said. “Go on!”

Jonathan didn’t believe this was actually happening. What was Edward playing at? Then again, would a coffee hurt? “I'd...I’d like that.”

Chapter Text

"One black coffee, no sugar, and one peppermint mocha frappuchino."

Edward took both cups from the barista. "Thank you." He handed the shorter cup to Jonathan. "Here you are Jonathan: one basic, boring cup of coffee."

Jonathan took the cup from him and cast a critical eye at Edward's cup. "Do you have any actual coffee in that thing, or is it nothing but sugar?"

Edward gave a dramatic sigh. "I have so few indulgences in my life Jonathan. Let me have this one." He took a big gulp out of his cup, eyes locked onto Jonathan's. A challenge. Jonathan shook his head.

"Childish."

Edward finished his gulp and smirked a bit at him. "You could try some you know. You might like it."

"If I want pure sugar, I'll stick to sweet tea. I don't drink coffee for the taste of it."

"I know, I know," Edward said in between taking sips. "You drink for the sustenance."

Jonathan didn't respond, taking a sip of coffee. This wasn't the first time they'd had this exchange. This had been part of Jonathan's routine for the past six weeks as a matter of fact. Edward would show up to the psychology department twice a week to drag Jonathan out for coffee. The first time it had happened, Jonathan had been so thrown off by the surreality of the situation that he had barely spoken to Edward. Not that he could have gotten much of a word in edgewise. The man was a whirlwind, speaking almost a mile a minute even before his peppermint concoction. As time went by, Jonathan had become more at ease in Edward's company, and their mornings were taken up by casual chatting about their studies and interests, to gentle banter. 

This morning, as the two men made the trek back to the psychology department from the student union, Jonathan watched as Edward took another swig out of his cup. He hummed happily at the taste and Jonathan felt his face flush. He'd thought perhaps that the more time he spent in Edward's company, the more he'd see the man's flaws and the less he'd want him. It was a vain thought. Edward had his flaws to be sure. He was loud, but he brought color to Jonathan's life. He had a healthy ego on him, but he would listen in rapt attention to what Jonathan had to say. Edward was one of the only people Jonathan had ever known who actually made him feel that his presence was wanted and Jonathan thought he was as beautiful now as he had been the day he first saw him in that flower shop. Jonathan took another sip of his coffee. It was infatuation. It would pass. It always did.

"I've been wondering something," he heard Edward say. "Why fear?"

Jonathan almost stopped short. "Fear is an emotion that fascinates me," he explained. "Every human action can be traced back to some kind of fear. Fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of our lives having no meaning.." fear of rejection. "Understanding fear is the first step towards controlling it." He stopped to look at Edward's face. The other man was looking rapt at him and Jonathan felt a slight twinge of self-consciousness. "Does this bother you?"

Edward quickly shook his head. "No, not at all. I've never met anyone who felt so..strongly about their field of study, but I don't think that's a bad thing." Jonathan's grip tightened on his coffee cup. Even Harley had been taken aback when he'd spoken about his specialty. Where had Edward been all of his life? "What will you do after you finish your program? Pure research?"

Jonathan nodded. "Yes and no. Actually, I'd like to be a professor."

Edward smiled a bit at that. "Professor Jonathan Crane. I like that." He reached off to brush lint off of Jonathan's old tweed coat. "You're already dressed the part at least."

Jonathan awkwardly turned his head, lest Edward catch him blush. "This coming from the man who wears a purple bow tie every day?"

Edward pouted. "Not everyday. Only when I have somewhere important to be."

Jonathan shook his head fondly. "What about you? What do you plan to do after you graduate?"

Edward smiled. "I want to work for the GCPD's computer crimes division."

Jonathan raised an eyebrow. "You with the GCPD? I thought you distrusted authority."

"I do," Edward answered. "But computer crimes is intellectually stimulating enough that I can work with it. Besides," Edward paused. "You'd probably laugh."

"Try me."

Edward licked his lips, then tossed his now empty cup into an adjacent garbage can. "When I was a kid," he said. "I used to dream about being a detective. I've read every Chandler novel at least twice. I even used to dress as Sherlock Holmes for Halloween." He looked back up at Jonathan almost hesitantly. "Childish, I know. But I suppose I never completely gave that dream up."

Jonathan considered this. Edward did seem to have a talent for observation. He would make an excellent detective, although Jonathan still couldn't quite envision him at GCPD. "It's not childish at all," he said. "I suppose it's healthier than wanting to study fear."

Edward smiled a bit at that. "Perhaps I'll invite you to consult with us someday. You could be our departmental psychologist."

"If you did that, I think we'd both get arrested." Jonathan drawled. Edward broke out in earnest laughter and Jonathan had to smile a bit in spite of himself. No one ever had laughed with him before.

"I'd break us out before the night was over," Edward said. "No jail can hold Edward Nashton."

"Spoken from personal experience?" Jonathan teased. 

Edward shot him a mischievous look. "Wouldn't you like to know." Jonathan chuckled again, before he realizing that he knew next to nothing about who Edward was before he set eyes on him in that flower shop. Before he could ponder much more on it, the Psychology department building came in sight. Jonathan's eyes narrowed. Something, or rather someone else came into his line of vision. Lyle Bolton, security guard and bane of Jonathan's existence was outside the building. Bolton caught sight of Jonathan and his face broke out into a cruel smile. Jonathan tensed. 

"What is it?" He heard Edward ask.

"You should go," Jonathan said, not looking at him as he walked up towards the entrance to the building. Just get it over with.

"Morning string bean," he heard Bolton call out as he walked past. Jonathan didn't dignify him with a glance. 

"Bolton," he muttered. "What are you doing here?"

"Just finishing up my morning rounds," Bolton said. "Have fun scaring people today, Scarecrow."

Jonathan's spine went rigid and he dropped his coffee cup. Look at him! He looks like a Scarecrow! Ha ha ha! "Up yours, Bolton." He seethed. 

Bolton let out a nasty laugh. Before he could add anything else, Jonathan heard another voice pipe up, "Excuse me, but don't you have anything better to do than to harass your intellectual superiors?"

Jonathan  and turned around. At the bottom of the steps stood Edward, glaring at Bolton without any fear. Bolton for his part looked surprised. "Excuse me?" he asked.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Edward said in an almost syrupy tone. "Let me put that in a way that a rent a cop reject like you can understand." Edward's face darkened. "Fuck off."

Bolton's face reddened. "You nasty little punk-" Bolton took a step towards Edward, who only now seemed to realize just how massive he was. Edward froze and Jonathan came to life. He grabbed Bolton by the shoulder and roughly spun the man around to face him. Bolton could break Jonathan with a single hand, but Jonathan had a good half a foot on him and a wicked temper. He used both to his advantage as he loomed down at the security guard.

"Take one more step towards him," Jonathan snarled. "And I will personally make sure you know the true meaning of fear." Something in Jonathan's eyes and tone must have gotten through Bolton's thick skull, for his face paled.

He took a shaky step back, making sure he was well out of Jonathan's reach. "Fucking freak!" He walked briskly past Edward and down the  walkway that led back towards the quad. Jonathan took a deep breath. Edward looked up at him, wonder in those green eyes.

"You shouldn't have gotten involved." Jonathan bluntly told him.

Edward creased his brow. "And just let him keep talking to you like that? Don't you want to get back at him?"

"Bolton's just a jumped up prick on a power trip," Jonathan answered. "He's not worth it."

Edward crossed his arms, a stubborn expression on his face. "You are though."

Jonathan swore he heard his heart stop. no one had ever said that to him before. He sighed. "Just forget about it Edward." He entered the department without a look back. He he had looked back he would have noticed that Edward's expression had changed from stubborn anger to concern, to determination.


 

The next morning, Edward was there to greet Jonathan as he entered. Jonathan was surprised not just by seeing him again so soon, but by the smug expression on his face. A sinking feeling came over him. "Edward," he asked. "What did you do?"

"And good morning to you too Jonathan," Edward said conversationally. "Shall we be off?"

'What did you do?" Jonathan asked again.

Edward rolled his eyes. "Nothing too drastic." He checked to make sure that no one was listening in before leaning in. "I sent our mutual friend Bolton a bouquet."

Well. Jonathan hadn't expected that answer. "A bouquet?"

"Yes," Edward said. "A real masterpiece too: Orange lilies for hatred, plenty of geraniums for stupidity, meadowsweet for uselessness, yellow carnations for disappointment and foxglove for insincerity. The perfect, pardon my language, 'Fuck you' bouquet."

Jonathan didn't know quite how to respond to that. He finally settled on what he felt was the most appropriate one for the situation: he laughed. "That is," he said between laughs, "the most passive aggressive thing I have ever heard of."

Edward beamed up at him and Jonathan's heart skipped a beat. "Just between you and me," he lowered his voice to a whisper. "I might have slipped a little Poison Ivy into the mix as well."

Jonathan couldn't help but let out a snort as he began to laugh again. He didn't laugh much at all. "You are evil," he said. "And brilliant." He finished chuckling and looked gain at Edward. Edward's face had softened considerably, almost as if he didn't believe what he had heard. Jonathan looked alarmed. "Did I say something wrong?"

"You," Edward asked. "You really think I'm brilliant?"

Had the other man never received a compliment before? Edward had, by all appearances, one of the healthiest egos Jonathan had ever seen. Was that all a front? Curious..."Yes," he answered truthfully. "You are easily one of the most intelligent people I've ever met."

Edward's face broke out into a grin and he blushed. Jonathan swore he fell for him even more. "Just one of?" he asked. "Who's the most intelligent?"

Jonathan rolled his eyes. "Come on," he said, walking out of the room. "Let's go get coffee."

"I won't let this go that easy Jonathan," Edward said, scrambling to catch up to Jonathan's long gait. 

"I imagine you won't. God help me." Jonathan realized that this wasn't just an infatuation. He was beginning to grow fond of this ridiculous man. "God help me."

Chapter Text

"No offense Jonny, but you look like Hell."

Jonathan groggily looked up from his computer to look at Harley's concerned face. "I feel like Hell." He leaned back in his chair and stretched out his long arms. There were days he regretted his choices in his studies, particularly days when he was up all night fine tuning a paper. He squinted at his computer screen. Almost there. 

"You look like you could use a nap."

"I'll sleep when I get my Doctorate," Jonathan said. "Or when I'm dead. Whichever comes first."

Harley shook her head. "All of these all-nighters ain't good for you Jonny. What's Eddie gonna say when he sees you looking like that?"

Jonathan felt his heart beat just a bit faster at the mention of Edward's name. "I'm not meeting Edward until later this afternoon. I'll look better by then." Jonathan looked up from his screen to see Harley giving him a knowing smile.

"Ya really like Eddie, don't cha Jonny?"

Jonathan looked back at his screen. "He's a friend, yes."

Harley laughed. "Yeah, right. I've never seen you smile so much before. I don't think I ever heard you laugh before you met him. You even clean yourself up a bit when you know you're going to see him. You don't even do that for your adviser. You got it really bad for him."

Jonathan sighed. Was he becoming that obvious? "Can't get anything past you, can I?"

Harley grinned. "Nope! I'm a psychologist in training just like you Jonny! Nothing gets past me!" Harley's face grew uncharacteristically serious. "You're so much happier when you're with Eddie. Why don't you make a move? You could be really good together."

Jonathan looked past his computer and towards a closed window. In the glass, he could just make out his reflection. The added bags under his eyes from his restless night didn't have that dramatic an effect on his gaunt face. He closed his eyes as memories from his childhood and adolescence came back to him. Ichabod Crane. Bean pole. Scarecrow. He'd thought he was past all that and perhaps he had been, but he had never felt more physically inadequate than when he was with Edward. "I learned a long time ago Harley," he said with a resigned tone, "That people who look like Edward don't love people who look like me. I'm not going to humiliate myself by presuming otherwise."

Harley's face fell. "Oh Jonny."

Jonathan waved a hand at her. "It's fine Harley. I'll live." Being friends with Edward was already more than Jonathan had dared hope for. No sense in ruining it for something that could never happen. No matter how much Jonathan wanted it, Edward could never love him.


 

"White rose: I am worthy of you. Magnolia: Dignity. Pink rose: Admiration. Striped tulip: beautiful eyes." Edward gently ran his fingers around the petals of the bouquet he'd just assembled. He smiled as he thought of ice blue eyes that seemed to pierce his soul whenever he looked into them. "Beautiful eyes..."

"Still pining over that professor of yours?" Pamela asked from the counter.

Edward shook his head as he placed the bouquet with the others Pamela had him assemble. "He's not a professor yet. And I do not pine, thank you very much."

Pamela rolled her eyes. "Right. Frankly, I don't understand the attraction."

Edward scoffed. "Of course you wouldn't." Not that he'd ever admit it to her, but not even Edward could pinpoint when his interest in Jonathan had turned from intellectual to romantic. This Jonathan Crane wasn’t the most handsome man Edward had ever laid eyes on. He was overly tall, gangly and looked far older than his purported age. He wore far too much flannel and tweed for Edward’s taste and quite honestly, his unkempt mousy brown hair and permanent stubble made him look like he slept on a sewer grate. As far as Edward was concerned though, looks didn’t count for nearly as much as brains, and this Jonathan Crane was the most intelligent, fascinating man he’d ever met. The way his striking blue eyes lit up when he discussed his studies, the sheer passion and breadth of knowledge he possessed, the way he seemed to fully come alive when speaking to Edward...how couldn’t Edward want that attention on him? Jonathan liked him too, Edward could tell. He didn't simply tolerate him like so many of his peers did. Jonathan genuinely liked him. He'd said himself, Edward was one of the most intelligent people he'd ever met. Edward felt his face burn a bit as he smiled at the memory.

"I notice, you didn't have your morning coffee with him today. You haven't worked a morning shift since you met him." Pamela said.

Edward sulked a bit. "No, he said he had a paper he needed to finish writing last night. He said we could meet at 3:00."

"It's 2:45 now."

Edward almost dropped the flowers he was holding as he turned to look at the clock. The time now read 2:46. "Pam!" he yelled. "Why didn't you tell me earlier? I'll be late!" 

Pamela waved him off dismissively. "Go. Don't keep your Prince Charming waiting." Edward almost tripped in his haste to remove the apron. He paused briefly to smooth back his hair before flying out the door. Pamela laughed, not unkindly. "No, you're not pining at all."


Edward almost collided with a pair of students on their way out as he entered the psychology department. He checked his watch and winced. 3:15. Hopefully, Jonathan wouldn't be angry. He opened the door to the graduate students' office. "Jonathan, I'm sorry I'm late, I-" Edward paused. There were two other graduate students looking at him with annoyed surprise, but neither of them were Jonathan. Edward felt his anxiety begin to spike. Had Jonathan left? Was he angry? Did he not want to be bothered by him anymore?

"Psst! Eddie!"

Edward looked to his left to see a young blonde woman coming out of a doorway. Edward realized that it was Harley, Pam's girlfriend and Jonathan's colleague. Huh. That was a strange coincidence now that he thought about it. She was beckoning him over to where she stood. Edward walked over. "Where's Jonathan?"

Harley gestured behind her. "He's crashing on a couch in the lounge. He was up all night last night working on that paper of his. He's been out for about an hour." She opened the door to usher him inside. "I gotta run, but make sure he gets back to his dorm to get some sleep." Harley sped off, leaving Edward alone in the lounge. His attention was immediately grabbed by the sight of Jonathan's thin frame sprawled out on a sofa in the center of the lounge. Edward smiled fondly as he walked up to Jonathan's side. The couch was far to small to fit him, his impossibly long legs hanging over the side. Once Edward saw Jonathan's face, his smile faltered slightly. It was impossible not to notice the large dark circles under his eyes, which made him look even more haggard than he usually did. Edward hesitated. He didn't want to wake him up when he so clearly needed sleep, but that tiny couch wouldn't do his back any favors. Edward reached out his hand to gently shake Jonathan's shoulder. "Jonathan?"

Jonathan's eyes flew open almost immediately. "What-" his eyes settled on Edward and he sat up. "Edward? What time is it?"

"3:20, if my watch is accurate."

Jonathan rubbed his eyes. "I'm sorry. Have you been waiting long?"

"I actually just got here. I was running a bit behind myself. Did you get any sleep last night?"

Jonathan stretched out his arms. "I had a paper to finish."

Edward sighed. "I take it that's a no. I hope that paper was worth it."

Jonathan rolled his eyes a bit. "It is. I'll be-" Jonathan's next words were cut off by a long yawn. "I'll be fine Edward."

Edward wanted to retort, but bit his tongue. Instead, he held his hand out. "Come on. I'll take you back to your dorm."

Jonathan looked from Edward's outstretched hand to his face. His expression was unreadable. "That really isn't-"

"Jonathan," Edward warned. "You can walk with me now, or I'll get Harley and we'll drag you back."

Jonathan raised an eyebrow, then got to his feet. "...Fine."


 

Edward counted himself fortunate that Jonathan didn't pass out on their way back to his room. Light as Jonathan almost certainly was, Edward didn't think he could actually carry him. Lucky for them too that Jonathan's dorm room wasn't far from the psychology department.

"Just a word of warning," Jonathan said as they walked up the stairs. "My room's a bit of a mess."

"Is there anything living in it? Other than you?"

Jonathan shrugged and stopped in front of a door. "There wasn't when I left this morning." Edward waited patiently as the other man fished his keys out of his coat pocket. Edward couldn't help but feel a bit excited though at the prospect of actually seeing Jonathan's place. Jonathan got the door open and held it open for Edward. "After you."

Edward smiled a bit and walked in. He looked at the room and stared. Well. Jonathan certainly hadn't been kidding about the place being a mess. He might have been understating it a bit actually. There were so many papers strewn about the room that Edward could barely catch glimpses of the carpet. What caught his attention though, were the books gathered around. Jonathan appeared to own more books than he did articles of clothing. Most of them were book relating to fear and to psychology, as Edward would have expected, but there were some others that caught his eye. He walked over to the coffee table in front of what he assumed was Jonathan's bed and picked up a well worn copy of Ulysses. "A James Joyce fan? I never would have guessed."

"I'm not really a fan of any one author in particular," Jonathan said, hanging up his coat in his closet. "I read what I think is interesting. I think I've had that copy since I was...8?"

Edward smiled a bit. "An advanced reader. Your parents must have been thrilled."

Jonathan went still and Edward's heart dropped. He clearly shouldn't have said that. "I never knew either of my parents," Jonathan said finally. "My mother took off when I was born and my father left before that."

Edward looked down at his feet. "I'm sorry," he said in a small voice. "I didn't mean to-"

"You didn't know," Jonathan said, crossing over to where Edward stood. He took off his shoes before lying down on the bed. He looked up at Edward. "You don't have to stay if there's somewhere else you need to be."

Edward shook his head. "I don't have to be anywhere. Do you want me to leave?"

Jonathan closed his eyes. "No."

Edward let out a breath he didn't realize he had been holding. He looked back at Jonathan. For someone who had just admitted what he had, he looked oddly at peace. Logically, Edward knew he should let things be, but he'd never been good at that. "Do you have any family?"

Jonathan didn't say anything and for a moment, Edward thought he might be asleep. "I had a great grandmother," he said at last. "She died when I was six. After that, there wasn't anyone who'd claim me. I lived at a Children's Home in Georgia until I was 18. Then I got a scholarship to Gotham University and I never looked back."

"Same," Edward said. "Well, almost." He let out a shaky breath, He'd never told anyone here what he was about to say to Jonathan. It seemed only fair though. "My mother left when I was about five. My father-" Edward stopped. Over ten years and he still couldn't stop his stomach from clenching when he thought of that man. 

"You don't have to tell me." Jonathan said, gently. Edward shook his head.

"No, I want to. You told me. My father...he was a drunk. He hated me too. Always called me a moron, saying I'd cheated whenever I came home with a high test score. When i told him I hadn't, he'd hit me. Finally, when I was about eight, he hit me so hard that I came to school with my eye swollen shut. I got put into foster care after that. I haven't seen him since." Edward ran a hand through his hair. There was a long silence, then Jonathan's voice broke it.

"I'm sorry."

Edward shook his head. "Don't be. I'm glad I told you. And I'm glad you told me." Edward fiddled a bit with his sleeve. "Why did you tell me?"

"You're my friend," Jonathan said, his voice heavy with sleep. "I trust you."

His friend. Edward could count on one hand how many people he considered friends in his entire life. "I'm sorry," he said. "You deserved better than that."

"So did you." 

Edward had to agree with that. "But in a way, I wouldn't change it. I might have never met you otherwise." Jonathan didn't respond to that. Edward's heart began to pound in his ears. "Jonathan," he said. "Jonathan, I think I-" He turned to address Jonathan and his words stopped. Jonathan was lightly snoring now. Sighing, Edward picked up a blanket that he hoped was clean and draped it over Jonathan's sleeping form. "Jonathan," he whispered, so low he could hardly hear himself. "I think I might be a bit in love with you." Jonathan made no response. Just as well, Edward thought. Jonathan deserved more than just words. Jonathan deserved a grand gesture, something that would prove how much Edward utterly adored him. What though? It wasn't as if Edward had much money. All he had was his mind and-An idea came to Edward. Quietly as he could, he walked out of Jonathan's room and shut the door behind him. He then bolted as fast as he could back towards Ivy's Boutique.


Jonathan Crane woke up the next morning feeling more refreshed than he had for a long time. He wasn't sure what exactly had possessed him to tell Edward has much as he had about his background, but he didn't regret that now. He felt as if a weight had been lifted off of him, having finally found someone he fully trusted. He was glad to know too that Edward had reciprocated that trust. After he showered and dressed for the day, he walked outside his door and froze. There on the ground, was a bouquet of white and pink roses.

 

Chapter Text

Jonathan brought the bouquet with him to the psychology department. His first instinct had been to throw it out, but just as he held the roses over his garbage can, he recalled that Edward worked in a flower shop and that he was a self-described expert in floriography. If anyone could figure how what this bouquet meant, it would be Edward. And so, he bore the gawking stares of the other psychology students as he stalked to his desk and placed the bouquet on it. One poor soul had attempted to ask him about it, but a cold glare had stopped him dead. He sat as his desk and glared at the pink and white roses. Was this some kind of prank?

Harley arrived about a half hour after he did. When she saw the flowers, she bounced over with a perky grin on her face. Not even Jonathan had the heart to scare her off. "Ooh, pretty!" she gushed. She leaned down and lowered her voice. "Are they for anyone we know?"

Jonathan flushed at the implication. "I found them in front of my door this morning."

Harley giggled. "Aww, sounds like you've got a secret admirer!"

Jonathan scowled. "I had best not. It's probably someone's idea of a joke."

Harley's face fell. "Oh come on Jonny. You're not all bad. Who knows, it could be from-"

A familiar voice rang out. "Good morning Jonathan!" 

Jonathan looked past Harley to see Edward walking towards them. He both was happy to see the younger man and dreaded his reaction to the flowers. 

"You look better," Edward said. "Did you sleep through the night?"

Jonathan nodded, ignoring the gleeful looks Harley was giving the pair of them. "I'm sorry for falling asleep on you."

Edward held a hand up. "No need to apologize. You needed it." Edward's eyes wandered to the bouquet and he smirked a bit. "Well well well," he said. "What have we got there?"

Jonathan held the bouquet out for him. "Someone left this in front of my door yesterday. You're the floriography expert. Do you know what it means?"

Edward took the bouquet from Jonathan's hand and examined it. "Hmm," he hummed in a dramatic fashion. "Well, while roses are well known as romantic flowers, different colors have different meanings. In this case, white roses typically mean 'purity' or 'innocence' and are commonly used in wedding bouquets. They can also mean 'new beginnings' and  'I am worthy of you.' Light pink roses like these mean 'admiration'. Also, the amount of roses in this bouquet is significant. There are thirteen of them."

Jonathan raised an eyebrow. "Isn't thirteen an unlucky number?"

Edward chuckled. "Usually, but not in this case. A bouquet of thirteen flowers indicates a secret admirer." He grinned. "It's not just a bouquet: it's a declaration of romantic intent."

Jonathan narrowed his eyes as he considered this. His first thought was that this was some kind of sick joke that Bolton had come up with, but that thug was more likely to jump him in the university parking lot than go through the trouble and expense of sending him flowers. That, and Bolton had been giving him a wide berth since that incident outside the department building two months ago. "This is a mistake. Someone must have confused my dorm room with someone else."

Edward's grin faltered. "Really? You think so?"

"I know so," Jonathan said as he took the bouquet back from Edward. "I'm not the type to attract secret admirers. I should throw this away." For a brief moment, Edward looked stricken. Harley quickly took the bouquet from Jonathan before he could make good on his promise.

"I'll keep it! They're so pretty it'd be a shame to get rid of them. Right Eddie?"

Edward nodded, with much less enthusiasm than he'd had a moment ago. "Right. A waste." Jonathan was about to ask what was wrong when Edward's melancholy passed and he met his gaze. "I want my coffee. Have you eaten yet?"

Jonathan realized it had been at least twenty four hours since his last meal. "No. Let's go." He tried to put the bouquet out of his mind and left with Edward. When he returned an hour later, it occurred to him that Edward had been much more occupied than usual. He was almost...sulking about something.


 

The following afternoon, Edward was still sulking as he trimmed the Hydrangeas Pamela had set up at the front of the store. 

"I told you it was a foolish idea."

Edward clipped the plant with a bit more force than was required. Pamela noticed. "If you ruin that plant, it's coming out of your salary."

"Maybe I wasn't specific enough," Edward mused. "Pink and white roses are fairly standard, after all. The bouquet I left for him last night is better. More exotic. He won't be able to doubt my feelings for him when he sees it."

"Or you could just tell him," Pamela said. "I don't see why you have to play this game with the flowers."

"It's not a game," Edward said with a hard edge. He set the clippers down with a sigh. "I've never felt anything like this for anyone before, Pam. It's been less than six months since I met him, but it feels like I've known him for my entire life. He listens to me, he understands me. I want to make him feel as special as he makes me feel." He got up to his feet and looked over where Pamela was standing at the counter. "Isn't that how you felt when you met Harley?"

Pamela's face, usually so disinterested, became soft at the mention of her girlfriend. "Yes," she answered. "But I told her how I felt to her face."

Edward rolled his eyes. "Well that works, if you want to be boring."

Pamela had choice words for him, but before she could open her mouth, she saw a very familiar person walking towards the shop. "Speak of the Devil. Here comes your professor now."

Edward's heart leapt up and he scrambled to make himself look slightly more presentable. Jonathan never came to see him in the flower shop. He must have seen the bouquet by now. Edward's heart began to pound. He must have figured it out and he was coming to express his undying devotion for-

The flower shop door opened and Jonathan Crane entered with a thunderous expression on his face, his long thin fingers clenching the stems of the bouquet. Edward's blood ran cold. Jonathan figured it out. Jonathan hated him now. Swallowing thickly, he greeted Jonathan. "Hi."

Jonathan made eye contact with him and his gaze softened. Well, at least as much as it could. "Edward." He handed the bouquet back to him. "My 'secret admirer' is at it again. What does this mean?"

Edward looked at the bouquet in his hands. He'd spent so much time picking these out too. "Magnolias: dignity. Orange roses: passion-"

"I thought orange meant hatred," Jonathan interrupted.

Edward hissed a bit in impatience. "No, that's orange lilies. Orange roses mean passion and excitement. Clearly, this person thinks you have those qualities."

Jonathan scoffed. "Obviously someone who doesn't know me. And the striped tulips?"

Edward felt the blood rush to his face. "Beautiful eyes. It means whoever sent you these flowers thinks you have beautiful eyes."

Those same eyes that Edward loves so much widened in surprised, then narrowed in suspicion. "Is that so..." he turned to leave. "Thank you Edward. Same time tomorrow morning?"

Edward wanted to tear out his hair in frustration, but nodded his assent. Then he realized that he was still holding the bouquet. "Wait! Don't you want your flowers?"

Jonathan turned around and cast a critical look at the flowers. "You keep them." For the briefest of seconds, Edward thought he saw his cheeks redden. "...You're more suited for them." Then Jonathan hurried out of the shop.

Edward almost forgot he was frustrated with the other man when his last words sunk in. Did-did Jonathan think he was exciting? That he had beautiful eyes? Then Pamela had to open her big fat mouth.

"For someone studying to be a psychology professor, he's remarkably unobservant, isn't he?"

Edward sighed. "Yes. Yes he is." Edward needed to step up his game.


Pamela took a sip of her herbal tea. "It's been three days since Edward started this nonsense Harley. Every night, he's taking flowers to that friend of yours and every morning I get to hear him complaining about how Jonathan doesn't get it. And then he does it all over again. I've never seen anything more ridiculous in my life." Pamela sighed and looked at where her girlfriend was standing washing the dishes from their breakfast. "From what I've seen, Crane's not a idiot. Doesn't he at least suspect that it's Edward?"

Harley finished washing her dish and set it on the rack to dry. She sighed. "I don't know Red. Jonny's really smart but..." She bit her lip. "He's been hurt really bad before. I think rationally he knows, but he won't let himself believe it. He doesn't want to get his hopes up."

Pamela sighed. "Well hopefully, they'll figure it out. I don't know how much more of Edward's whining I can take. I think I saw him crying in the stock room yesterday."

Harley winced. "Aw geez. Jonny just won't talk to me about it. He brought the bouquet he got yesterday to the department and stared at it all day." The dish washing complete, Harley walked back to the kitchen table and leaned down to kiss the top of Pamela's head. "Ya think we were that ridiculous before we started dating?"

Pamela grabbed one of Harley's hands and gave it a light squeeze. "Not even close."


Later that night, Jonathan sat alone in his room. In his hands, he held a a small bouquet of blue violets and orchids that he'd found outside his door that morning. Edward had told him the meaning of the flowers. Violets, devotion. Orchids, beauty. What Jonathan had paid attention to that morning however, was Edward's reaction. His eyes had been downcast when Jonathan had asked him for am explanation for the flowers. His body language had read to him as being disappointed and not just that day. Jonathan had caught the blush on Edward's face when he explained the meaning of the striped tulip in the flower shop earlier that week. The timing of his beginning to receive the flowers and the meaning of the first bouquet also hadn't escaped his attention. Edward had told him that white roses could mean 'new beginnings'. He'd received that bouquet the morning after he'd told Edward about his past. Jonathan had tried to think over every other possible alternative, but each time, he came to the same conclusion: Edward was the one sending the bouquets. 

Jonathan ran a long finger around the petals of the bouquet. It was still only a suspicion, but there was an easy way to confirm it. And so, he waited. Jonathan wet his lip. If it was Edward he found outside his dorm room...he wasn't sure how he'd react. At first he was angry. Edward was playing a game with him. Had that been his intent from the beginning? He thought about how Edward had stood up to Lyle Bolton.  He thought about every day Edward had come to his spot in the department with a wide smile. He thought about how Edward's eyes lit up when he spoke about his interests, or how intently he had listened to Jonathan speak about his. Whatever reasons Edward had for leaving the flowers, Jonathan was certain that he meant no harm by it.

A noise outside his door snapped Jonathan out of his musings. He could hear footsteps stop outside his door. Jonathan got up out of his bed and slowly walked towards the door as quietly as he could. He pressed his ear against the door. He could hear a faint rustling, as if someone was taking something out of their coat. Without warning, he opened the door. There, frozen to the spot and with eyes as wide as saucers, was Edward Nashton. In his hands was a bouquet of red tulips and pink carnations. "Good evening, Edward."

Edward couldn't speak at first. Jonathan took his uncharacteristic silence as a signal to continue. "It was you all along, wasn't it?"

"You weren't supposed to find out," Edward almost whispered. "Not like this."

Jonathan raised an eyebrow. "And how was I supposed to find out? Were you going to tell me?"

Edward shook his head. "You were supposed to figure it out."

Jonathan folded his arms. "Well I did. What I'd like is an explanation."

This seemed to bring Edward out of his daze. "An-an explanation? For what?"

"For why you've been leaving flowers outside my room? For why you've been playing dumb when I've been asking you what they mean? You don't think you owe me an explanation?"

Edward's face fell. "You really don't know?"

Jonathan knew. He'd known from the second time he'd found flowers. He needed to hear it from Edward though. "Know what?"

Edward's face colored, from embarrassment and from anger. "You-do I need to spell it out for you!?" He handed the bouquet to Jonathan with a desperate look in his eyes. "I love you! You aggravating, oblivious, wonderful man! I love you!"

Time seemed to stop for Jonathan in that moment. Edward loved him. He couldn't believe it. Edward loved him. His heart felt like it was about to swell out of his body. Edward-

"Jonathan?"

Jonathan came back to himself. He saw Edward standing still, a despondent look on his face. Jonathan realized that while he'd been inwardly elated, Edward had been waiting in silence. What must he think? "Edward-" Jonathan began.

Edward took a step back, almost recoiling from him. "I shouldn't have-I'm sorry-" he looked at Jonathan, those beautiful green eyes filling with tears. "I'm sorry." Before Jonathan could get a word out, Edward dropped the bouquet and fled into the night.

 

Chapter Text

"This is Edward Nashton's cell phone. I'm not available right now. You know what to do."

Jonathan let out a shaky breath. "Edward," he said. "It's Jonathan. I know you're upset, but please call me back. I want to talk about what happened last night." Jonathan closed his eyes and placed his hand on his brow. "I just want to know you're alright." Jonathan hung up his cell phone and set it on his desk. That had been the fifth time since last night Jonathan had tried to call Edward. The fifth time he'd been sent directly to Edward's voicemail. Jonathan took his head in his hands. Harley stood beside him, worry etched on her face. "What did I do to him Harley?"

Harley placed a hand on his shoulder. "He's probably just really embarrassed. Just give him a little time and space. I'm sure he'll come around."

Jonathan doubted that. As long as he lived, he'd never be able to forget the look of dejection on Edward's face. Edward had been the last person he ever wanted to hurt. "I ruined him."

"Don't say that," Harley scolded him. "It's just a misunderstanding. You love each other, don't ya? You'll figure it out. You just gotta learn to speak the same love language."

Harley was one of the more intelligent people Jonathan knew, but he detested when she devolved into pop psychology. Then he thought about what she said. Language. Edward hadn't been playing a game with him by sending the flowers. He'd been telling him how he felt. Floriography...

Jonathan sat up straight and booted up his laptop. "What're you doing?" Harley asked. Jonathan ignored her as he entered floriography into his search engine. He clicked the first link he found and scanned the page. He clicked back. he didn't need the definition. He needed an outline. He clicked another page and his eyes lit up. Perfect. He sent the page to the lone printer in the department room and dashed over to it, grabbing his coat. He collected the pages and turned to Harley.

"I need to go to Pam's shop."

Harley looked confused at first, then she smiled in realization. "I'll let her know we're on the way."

Pamela wasn't exactly thrilled to see Jonathan when they arrived at her boutique. "So," she said coldly. "I take it you're the reason why Edward hasn't been answering his phone."

Jonathan grit his teeth. "I want to make it right," he said. "I need your help."

Pamela looked unmoved. "And why should I help perpetuate this nonsense?"

"Come on Red," Harley pleaded. "This is a romantic emergency!" She jut her lip out a bit. "Please?"

Pamela looked from Jonathan to Harley and back again. Her facial expression did not change. Finally, she leaned behind the counter and pulled out her purse. "I'm going out to lunch with my girlfriend," she said. "The key to the shop and Edward's address are in the drawer. Lock up when you're done."

Jonathan nodded. "Much obliged."

Harley squealed in delight and took Pamela's arm. "Thanks Red! You're the best!"

Pamela smiled indulgently at her, then gave Jonathan a hard look. "I've had just about as much of this nonsense as I can take. Fix this Professor." She left the boutique with Harley in tow. Jonathan was now alone in the shop, surrounded by a wide variety of flowers. Jonathan held the printout in his hand and took a deep breath.

Time to get to work.


Edward lay on the sofa, curled up in the blanket Nina had draped over him when he had collapsed onto it that morning. He'd only managed about three hours of sleep the previous night, having woken up from a nightmare where Jonathan had beaten him with the bouquet. He'd spent the day on the couch with his phone off, alternating between napping and crying. He couldn't face his classmates or Pamela after what had happened, much less-He felts his eyes well up again. Jonathan...He shut his eyes and felt the tears leak out. That cold, unfeeling look on Jonathan's face was seared into his memory for all time. What had he been thinking? His father had been right all along. Stupid. Moron. Who was he fooling? Jonathan could never love someone as obnoxious as him. He'd ruined everything. 

"Eddie?"

Edward opened his eyes up to see Nina hovering above him. Dierdre stood by, her face showing an equal amount of concern. His roommates had been with him all day, making sure he'd eat and drink. He'd only managed to drink a few sips of water. His stomach hurt too much for anything else. The thought had been nice though. "Are you sure you'll be OK by yourself? Dierdre and I can go out tomorrow night."

Edward managed a small smile and shook his head. "Go on. You've been wanting to see that show all month. I'll manage."

Nina bit her lip, then gently pet his head. "Get some sleep Eddie."

"My offer still stands," Dierdre added. "We can kick Crane's ass for you."

Edward's heart clenched at the mention of Jonathan's name. "That's really not necessary dear."

Edward managed to keep it together until the girls left. The second the door closed behind them, Edward began to cry again in earnest. He'd been no stranger to rejection in his life, but this cut deeper than anything ever had before. he didn't know how long he spent on that couch, sniffling and feeling sorry for himself. Before he could doze off, he heard someone knocking at the door. Edward raised his head up. Nina and Dierdre had keys. Who would be knocking at this time of day? He heard knocking again, more insistent. Edward managed to pull himself off the couch and towards the door. It wasn't enough that he'd had his heart shattered, he couldn't even mourn in private? He opened the door and his heart nearly stopped. There standing before him was Jonathan Crane.

For a long moment, neither man said anything. Jonathan took in Edward's appearance and the sight nearly broke his heart. Edward was completely disheveled and his beautiful green eyes were red rimmed. He'd clearly been crying. Even now, he looked almost fearful. "Edward," he said as gently as he could. "May I come in?"

This question woke Edward out of his stupor. He almost couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Jonathan outside his door. Any elation he might have felt was mixed with dread. Jonathan's blank expression wasn't helping much. Silently, Edward stood to the side and let Jonathan in. Once the taller man was fully inside, Edward shut the door behind him. Edward watched Jonathan like a hawk, ready for any recriminations from him.

"Did Pamela tell you where I lived?" he asked.

Jonathan nodded. "I tried calling you earlier today. I wanted to make sure you were alright." His words were kind, but his tone was cold.

"I had my phone off," Edward answered listlessly. "I couldn't..." his voice trailed off. "I'm sorry," he said, voice hitching. "I know you're angry. But I-"

"I'm not angry," Jonathan interrupted. "I never was." The look of surprise on Edward's face just compounded Jonathan's guilt further. He ran a hand through his hair. "I am..not the most expressive man on this Earth. I can come across as cold when I don't intend to and I apologize for that. I wasn't being accusatory to you last night. I just wanted to know something: when I came to you with the bouquets you left, why didn't you tell me then that it was you?"

Edward said nothing, instead fidgeting with his sleeve and looking down at the floor. "I have a theory," Jonathan continued. "And feel free to tell me if I'm overstepping my bounds, but I think you're like me. I think you've been hurt and disappointed by most of the people in your life. I retreated into myself and my books to cope. But you? You built yourself up. If no one else was going to acknowledge you, then by God, you were going to show the world just how special you are. I'll admit, it can be a bit much to take at times," a genuine smile came to Jonathan's face and Edward felt his face flush. "But it's something I respect about you. You were still afraid though. Not just of being rejected. You were afraid I'd be just like every other person you've opened your heart to." Jonathan took a breath, the continued. "Am I on the right track?"

Edward huffed a bit. "That's what I get for falling in love with a psychologist." Jonathan chuckled a bit. Then his face grew serious again.

"I readily admit that I'm a misanthrope. I'm suspicious of most people's motivations. I swear though Edward, I never ever, wanted to hurt you. From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for how I handled things last night." 

Edward smiled a bit, but his face fell. "Thank you for saying that Jonathan, but you don't need to stay." Jonathan gave him a quizzical look. "I'm not angry at you," Edward clarified. "I'm upset of course, but I'll get over it. It's not the first time I've been rejected-"

"When did I reject you?" Jonathan asked.

Now it was Edward's turn to give Jonathan a quizzical look."When-last you night, you-"

"Beg your pardon Edward," Jonathan said. "But you left before I could give you any answer."

Edward's heart began to almost beat out of his chest. "Then...what is your answer?"

Jonathan took a step towards Edward. He leaned down so that his face was inches from Edward's. Edward closed his eyes in anticipation. He's going to kiss me, he thought. Please...

 

"I'm not going to tell you."

Edward's eyes flew open in outrage. "What!? How-"

"I'm going to show you," Jonathan clarified. "Close your eyes."

Edward sulked, but obeyed him. He heard Jonathan walk towards his door and open it. Edward thought almost that Jonathan intended to walk out, but he soon heard the door shut and Jonathan's footsteps towards him. He could hear Jonathan exhale, as if he was gathering his courage for something. The waiting was absolutely killing him. "Jonathan," he asked. "Can I open my eyes now?"

"Yes."

Edward opened his eyes and the sight before him took his breath away. Jonathan stood before him, holding out a bouquet. It wasn't just any bouquet. It was a symphony of red, pink, yellow, white and violet. Edward could barely believe his eyes. "F-for me?"

Jonathan nodded. "I thought about a dozen red roses, but I don't think they do you justice." He handed the bouquet over to Edward, clasping his hands as he did so. "I don't want you to have any doubts how I feel about you."

Edward took the bouquet in his hands, almost drunk from giddiness. He looked at the flowers carefully and his eyes lit up in recognition. "Acacia-"

"Your friendship has meant more to me than you'll ever know." Jonathan explained.

Edward smiled. "Pink roses-"

"I admire you."

Edward blushed when he saw the next flowers. "Orchids-"

Jonathan's cheeks reddened slightly. "You are the most beautiful person I've ever known. Not just in looks, but your mind."

"Violets-"

"I'll be devoted to you for as long as you'll have me."

Edward's smile was so wide he could almost feel his face split. "Red chrysanthemums."

Edward knew what that meant. He needed to hear Jonathan say it. Jonathan gulped slightly. "I love you."

Tears began to form in Edward's eyes again. This time though, from happiness. "Jonathan," he said. "Oh Jon-" the last flowers in the bouquet caught his attention. "Lavender roses!" he said. "They're my favorite! How did you-" Then Edward remembered what they meant. "Love at first sight," he whispered. He looked up at Jonathan. "All this time?"

Jonathan shifted slightly. "I don't know that I believe in such a concept. I can't explain it, but I feel that I've been drawn to you from the moment I saw you in that flower shop."

For the second time that night, Edward was struck dumb. He was going to work in computer crimes. How had he missed that? "Why didn't you ever say anything Jon?"

Jonathan shrugged. "I was afraid too."

Edward didn't know how to respond to this. So he laughed. "Look at us," he said. "Aren't we a pair?"

Jonathan chuckled. "A pair of love struck fools." He opened his arms slightly. "Come here."

Edward placed the bouquet carefully on the coffee table in front of the couch. Then he almost leapt into Jonathan's arms. He threw his arms around Jonathan, who accepted the embrace without a moment’s hesitation. Edward looked up at Jonathan to see him smiling fondly at him. Jonathan kept one warm wrapped tightly around him, then moved his right hand to caress Edward’s face, his fingers threading through his hair. Edward leaned into the touch, sighing happily. Jonathan loved him and he’d never been so happy.

"Go out with me?"

Edward laughed a bit. "I thought you'd never ask."

Jonathan smiled then and without thinking, kissed the top of Edward's head. Edward pulled back slightly and looked up at Jonathan. The mood had shifted. Jonathan looked down into his eyes, almost hesitantly. "Edward," he asked. "May I kiss you?"

Edward closed his eyes. "Yes. Please." With a deep breath, Jonathan leaned down and granted his request.

Their first kiss wasn't what Jonathan had hoped for. It was even better. Edward's lips were warm and soft and the happy noise he made when they connected for the first time was exquisite. Jonathan felt his grip tighten around Edward as he deepened the kiss. He never wanted to let go. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the two parted for breath. Edward looked up at him, slightly dazed, those beautiful green eyes wide and full of love. Jonathan leaned in again and Edward eagerly accepted the kiss. "Do you want to go somewhere?" Jonathan asked when they separated. "Get dinner?"

Edward shook his head, instead pulling Jonathan towards the couch. "Just stay here with me?"

Jonathan nodded. "Alright." He followed Edward to the couch and sat down, Edward almost immediately curling up next to him. Jonathan only hesitated for a moment before wrapping his long thin arms around him. They spent the next few hours talking, cuddling and exchanging soft kisses. It was well after midnight when Jonathan reluctantly got up.

"Leaving already?" Edward asked, looking deprived.

Jonathan leaned down to kiss him again. "Have to. I've got class tomorrow. So do you."

Edward looked like he wanted to protest, then yawned. "Alright. See you tomorrow?"

"Of course."

Edward nodded. "I love you."

Jonathan felt his heart swell. Just a few months ago, he wasn't even sure that he had one. "I love you too. Good night."

Edward gave him a drowsy nod. Jonathan reluctantly turned to leave, but not before looking over the bouquet one last time. And to think, he'd never had much use for flowers.


 

"Well?" Harley asked him. "How did it go?"

Jonathan ignored her needling tone, focusing on his paper. She'd been attached to him almost from the moment he came in, demanding details. "It was...satisfactory."

Harley let out a groan. "You're evil, you know that?"

Jonathan had to smile a bit despite himself. "So I've been told." He checked the clock for the third time that minute. 11:59. Edward was due to meet him at noon.

"Come on Jonny!" Harley whined. "Did he like it? Did you guys kiss? Are you boyfriends now?"

Jonathan was about to answer her when the clock struck noon. Right on schedule, Edward came through the door, back to his styled theatrical self. "Good afternoon everyone!" he said in a dramatic fashion. Most of the other students simply ignored him.

Harley waved at him. "Hi Eddie!"

Jonathan looked up and drank him him. "Afternoon darlin'." He delighted in the blush that came to Edward's face, but not the loud squeal Harley let out. He got up out of his chair. "Shall we be off?"

Edward nodded happily, taking Jonathan's hand. Jonathan laced their fingers together and clasped on tightly. "I'll bring him back in about an hour."

Harley waved them off. "Take your time!"

"Can you come over tonight?" Edward asked as they walked together out of the department and toward the quad. "Dierdre and Nina want to meet you."

"Should I be nervous?" Jonathan drawled.

Edward shook his head. "Hardly. Oh, they wanted to kill you yesterday, but when they saw the bouquet, they quickly changed their tune."

"Charming. I think I should be able to."

Edward smiled. "Good." The two walked in silence for a while, hand in hand. "You know," Edward said again. "There is one thing about that bouquet I don't like."

Jonathan almost stopped. "What's that?"

"Well, how am I going to be able to top that?"

Jonathan let out a huff and looked at him with fond exasperation. "I'm sure you'll come up with something."

 

END