Lance walked into the flower store exactly five minutes before he should be meeting his date. He knew he was pushing it, that he shouldn’t be late, but honestly, this was the third date. This was... special, and flowers were necessary for the occasion. His eyes darted among the brightly coloured petals, searching for some human presence. Nothing. He was alone in the store, except for a low murmur from the back room.
Impatiently, Lance rapped his knuckles on the counter loudly.
“Just a second!” Came a loud voice from the back room before it lowered again, clearly excusing itself from the conversation. Lance was still looking around in wonder at the bright little shop. It looked like a big greenhouse filled to bursting with different-coloured flowers. Light spun in delicate shapes from the rounded glass ceiling through the leaves, patterning everything inside the store with a delicate golden web of sunlight.
“Hello.” The voice from before. “What can I get you?”
Lance turned to the salesperson and his first instinct was to reply ‘your number’ but no, he was about to go on a third date with the most gorgeous girl in town and he was not going to fuck this up by flirting with a random flower boy. Even if he was gorgeous, with his fierce violet eyes and long, dark hair. The mess his hair was in and the leaves sticking out just made him cuter.
“Uuuuh...” Lance mentally kicked himself. “I need, um... flowers?”
The cute flower boy snorted, quite arrogantly. “Yeah, I gathered that much.”
Lance scowled, immediately less enamoured. “Yeah, um, for a date. What d’you have?”
The cute flower boy shrugged, obviously disinterested. “Well, roses are usually the go-to.”
Lance pursed his lips. A third date was a big deal, sure, but not that big a deal. “Not roses.” He decided. Flower Boy shrugged again. “How about carnations? They’re red, and pretty.”
Lance shook his head again, leaning in closer to read the flower boy’s nametag. “Keith.” He ignored the heat rising to his cheeks as he just said the name. “Nothing red. She’s more of a... yellow?” He considered, “yellow kind of gal.”
Keith shrugged. “I can get you some yellow tulips.”
Lance put all his charm into his smile. “That would be perfect.” He said smoothly. “Oh, and...” He leaned in closer, noticing smugly that Keith suddenly went very pink. He reached out to pick the leaf from Keith’s dark hair, tossing it aside without leaning back to put distance between them. “You have a leaf in your hair.” He breathed.
Keith flushed darker and slammed his palms on the counter, moving away with an abrupt speed Lance couldn’t help but be proud of. “I’ll get your tulips.” He muttered.
Lance smiled. Even if nothing was to come from flirting, that blush was really, really cute.
Nyma was gorgeous, practically glowing, and also very, very pissed. Lance winced as he rounded the street corner and caught sight of her furiously tapping at her phone as if she could somehow claw past the glass if she tried hard enough.
Lance carefully made his way over, holding the tulips he had bought before his face as a kind of shield, making sure she would see them before she saw him. Sure, they had been more expensive than expected so the bouquet wasn’t quite as impressive as he had hoped, but it was the thought that counted, right?
Lance remembered Keith’s glower as he took the tulips back, and how he had looked strangely smug past his anger. It was an expression Lance didn’t like, not at all. It made him feel small, and pathetic, as if those eyes somehow managed to summon up all his inner demons at once.
He reached Nyma, instantly apologetic and maybe exaggerating his panting just slightly. His regret was real, though. “Nyma!” He cried out, thrusting the tulips at her. “I’m so sorry I kept you waiting! The flower boy took ridiculously long. But, I got you these!”
A flurry of emotions crossed Nyma’s face at once, anger, surprise, pleasure, contempt. “You’re twenty minutes late.” She said coldly. Lance was still gasping, trying to catch his breath. “And I am so sorry for that. I’ll make it up to you.” He flashed her a grin, trying to load it with promise. She seemed pacified, and at least took the flowers.
“You look lovely today.” He smiled at her and offered his arm. “Shall we go in?”
The bar they had decided to meet at was called Bakku Gardens. It was a pleasant place, painted a light blue with strings of shells and fairy lights about the place. It looked harmless enough during the day, but in the evening, Lance knew all too well how it transformed: Moody purple lighting, loud, thumping music and dark corners you didn’t want to look too closely into.
“My ex-girlfriend always took me here.” Nyma mentioned offhandedly as they headed through the doors. “Uuuh... we can always go somewhere else?” Lance didn’t quite know how to respond. Nyma shook her head. “No, it’s fine. I like the place.”
There was a short silence. “Soooo....” Lance hated silences. “Ex-girlfriend, huh? Guess that’s yet another thing we have in common.”
Nyma raised an eyebrow, staring at him coolly. Lance flushed. He was usually a smooth talker, but Nyma was so... perfect, untouchable, and somehow he was going out with her... he was understandably nervous. “Bisexuality.” He said hurriedly to answer the unasked question and bridge the awkward silence. “We’re both bisexual.”
“Ah.” Nyma didn’t say more, but her lips quirked upwards, so Lance counted it as a success.
“Shall we order?”
“Nyma...” He gasped her name between kisses, shuddering at the feeling of her hands running up and down his back. “Nyma... we’re in the middle of the hallway.”
She snorted impatiently and quickly turned the key in the lock without looking, letting Lance into her apartment. The moment he was through the door she pulled him close again, dragging his shirt up and kissing him deep. He kissed her back fervently, letting his tongue dart to meet hers as his hands roamed her body.
He gasped as her hands met the bare skin of his stomach. She smiled. “You’re more muscular than you look.”
Lance gasped, a blush high on his cheeks. He couldn’t get in a reply before she was kissing him again. He was sure at this point that her lipstick was all over his face, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Her lips were soft, her tongue warm and quick and her body moving against his impatiently.
“Bedroom.” He gasped out as her hands teased low, low... She grabbed him by the belt and dragged him through a door, almost collapsing on the bed. He teased his fingers up her sides gently, letting his lips glide to her neck as he pulled her shirt up.
“This okay?” He asked, just to be sure, and she gave a sigh of pleasure as his hands caressed her sides.
“Yeah.” She sighed.
“It’s late.” Nyma whispered as Lance lay next to her, reaching out to pull her into his arms. Lance smiled lazily. “So come here and sleep.”
“No, Lance.” She moved away, and Lance sat up, suddenly feeling very lost in this strange bed in a strange apartment. “No?” His confusion was entirely pretend. He knew what was happening, but it was easier to pretend he didn’t. Better that than face that she was kicking him out.
But then again, better leave now than face the humiliation of her having to give it to him straight.
“No.” She repeated. “You can’t stay.”
Okay, that hurt. “But, Nyma...”
She sighed and scrubbed her hands over her face tiredly. “Go home, Lance.” She said quietly, and Lance did, he stood up and gathered his clothes, patted his pockets for his wallet, and left without closing the bedroom door. Behind him, Nyma calmly cleared her own clothes from the ground as if this was an ordinary night, an ordinary goodbye. As if he was just some one-night stand. She didn’t even look after him.
As Lance left, he caught a glimpse of yellow.
His tulips, peeking out from under the lid of the kitchen garbage.
Lance pursed his lips tightly, and, shrugging on his jacket, pulled shut the apartment door behind him.
“And then she just kicked me out. We went on three dates! I thought we had a thing! I bought her flowers.”
“That sucks, man. I’m sorry.” His best friend’s voice was muffled from under the hood of the car he was tinkering with, but they had had this exact conversation so often Lance knew the replies by heart anyway. The only thing that changed was the names of his unsuccessful flings.
Hunk emerged from under the hood of the car, face streaked with grease and sympathetic as always. “You’ll find someone soon.” He promised. Lance sighed and rolled his eyes. Yeah, he knew that line too.
“When? I’m 22, and starting to get really, really impatient.”
Hunk shrugged. “Then just stop going out with anyone you lay eyes on.”
Lance pouted. “Well, one of them is sure to be the right one.” He replied with infallible logic. Hunk just rolled his eyes. Lance’s mind had already flitted away and right back to Nyma. “I thought it was going so well! I mean, why would she agree to a third date if she wasn’t interested in me?”
“Lance, you’re overreacting. She might be into you, but just didn’t want you to stay the night.” Hunk pointed out. Lance hated to admit he was right. “Really? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Lance crossed his arms but Hunk knew he was conceding that he had a point.
“Wait for her to text you.” He said gently. “Or text her yourself. Then you’ll know.”
“I don’t know...” Lance didn’t often feel this defeated. “She threw away my flowers.” His shoulders dropped. The pain was sharp and sudden from where it had been drawn up, half-forgotten. “I really hoped that... for once...” Hunk detected the change in his friends mood instantly and wiped his hands as he moved closer. Lance continued, trying to blink away tears.” I thought we might end up together. Fall in love.”
Hunk reached out and pulled Lance into a hug. Lance’s voice was low and scared. “I guess I just expect too much. Fall too fast.”
Hunk smiled as he ran a hand up and down Lance’s back. “Text her before you start being all dramatic. Maybe she just doesn’t like flowers.”
Lance stared at the phone in his hands, ran a finger along the small notches and scratches from when he’d dropped it. His heart was pounding, and he felt dizzy. For a moment he thought he’d forgotten his passcode.
Hunk was right, he tried to reassure himself. Maybe it was a misunderstanding. He had to text her, try to clear it up.
Before he could think too much about it, he unlocked his phone and typed a quick Hey, still thinking about that night ;)
He waited with bated breath in front of Hunk’s workshop. A green circle popped up next to Nyma’s profile, and the message signed read. And then she was gone. “Shit.” Lance muttered emphatically, kicking at a pebble before shoving his phone into his pocket and turning to head home.
His phone buzzed against his thigh and Lance had it in his hands immediately. The letters glowing at him from the screen were unfamiliar at first.
Lance we should talk.
That made his heart plummet. Sure, he typed back. He was glad she couldn’t see his face, or hear how his voice would crack should he have to say it out loud. Give me a time and place.
The reply was almost instantaneous.
Voltron Café. Tomorrow at 11am.
Lance had never been to Voltron Café, but he realized as Google Maps led him to the front door that he had been here before, this street. It took him another moment to realize why the quiet street with the flowershop and the cozy café made him think of angry purple eyes.
Cute flower boy.
Lance turned to the shop with wide eyes. Who would’ve thought that fate would bring him here again? He looked at the shop more carefully than he had last time. Altea Flowers, the sign said in large, curly writing. The shop was small, bright and looked like a small, steel-and-glass greenhouse. In front of it, flowers and potted plants spilled onto the sidewalk like a miniature, barely contained jungle. There was a woman watering some of the plants, tall and dark with long white hair and so pretty that Lance started wondering if beauty was a job requirement.
Beside him, someone cleared their throat. Lance whipped around. “Nyma!” The sight of her drove some kind of small, sharp pain through his heart, and they hadn’t even talked yet. She was gorgeous, as usual, and with that beauty came the sharp realization that Lance, being the stupid mess he was, had blown it. Completely.
“You look...” Lance swallowed down his own words and felt their sharp corners scrape his throat on the way down. “Should we go in?” He said instead. Nyma nodded. Lance looked after her as she walked through the door and realized he already missed her smile.
The café was small and cozy, with bookshelves full to bursting, bean bags and lots of hidden corners. It was exactly the type of café Lance liked and he was almost angry it was soon going to be ruined for him by whatever happened next.
They sat down at one of the tables, right by a window that looked out upon bright city. The window was framed by plants as well, and there was a small pot hanging down from the ceiling. Lance wondered if the owners had gotten all the plants from Altea.
“I’ll get us coffee.” He offered with a smile. Nyma nodded disinterestedly, already focused on her phone.
He ordered two coffees from the insanely hot barista, wondering briefly if maybe beauty was a job requirement for the entire street, and if so, if he was qualified. Then he cursed Nyma again for picking out this café of all places. He would’ve loved to come back just for this barista’s smile again, bright, polite and made even more brilliant by the scar cutting across his nose.
He felt like he was in a dream, like he had lost grasp of his emotions. He felt like he knew what was coming but had locked it away deep in his mind, like he had pushed it away somewhere so he could care less, like he was watching from outside his own body, paying and walking to his table automatically. Nyma looked up at him, and he felt numb. Numb as she put away her phone, took her coffee and started speaking.
The words echoed in Lance’s ears, waiting to be processed. “You’re welcome.” His tongue moved heavily.
Nyma pursed her purple lips. Lance noticed she had gotten lipstick on the cup. “I wanted to apologize."
“Oh.” Lance couldn’t process anything, couldn’t see where this was going.
“You’ve treated me really, really well. I’ve enjoyed spending time with you and you...” She smiled, lost in thought. “You’re sweet, really. We just both wanted different things.”
“You just wanted to fuck me.” Lance replied, empty, calm, not quite caring what he was saying. “I thought you might just want to take it slow before, when you kicked me out, but you’re here to get rid of me. You realized what I wanted and you’re throwing me away for the next guy willing to sleep with you.” Nyma’s eyes widened. “No, Lance, that’s not it...”
“Well, that’s what you did, isn’t it? When did you realize I was emotionally invested? When did you realize you had to fuck me and get out? When I didn’t sleep with you on the second date? When I bought you flowers?”
Nyma’s lips thinned to an angry line. “I don’t have to listen to this.”
“You’re right.” Lance didn’t know where his heartbreak over her had gone. “You don’t. You can leave.”
She still seemed to have more to say. “I don’t want a relationship right now. That’s all.”
Lance crossed his arms, not even knowing himself if his anger was faked. “Well, clearly, I do.”
“We just don’t want the same thing now, but...”
“What, I didn’t want to pretend to be emotionally invested and then throw you aside? Unfortunate.”
Nyma’s lips thinned again. “I thought we could keep seeing each other. Casually.”
“No.” Lance didn’t want to be used like that again. He had asked her, right at the beginning, what this was to her, and she had lied to him. He had thought they had been on the same page. “You can leave if you want.”
“Don’t mind if I do.” She got up, eyes flashing, curls bouncing as she turned and left the café, leaving behind a cup with purple lipstick on the rim and the echo of the chimes above the door long after she slammed it behind her.
Lance didn’t know how long he sat quietly, but it can’t have been long before someone appeared in the corner of his vision and pushed a large mug of cocoa in his direction, complete with cream and sprinkles. Lance looked up as the mystery person sat opposite him.
It was the hot barista from before, looking at him with warmth in his eyes and a soft smile. “It’s on the house.” He indicated the mug. “Rough break-up?”
Lance sighed, shuddered and accepted the drink thankfully. “You could say that. Not exactly a break-up though. Just a disappointing date.”
The hot barista winced in sympathy, and Lance realized he had probably heard every word. He flushed in embarrassment. “I’m Lance, by the way.” He introduced himself in an attempt to distract from his red cheeks.
The barista smiled and stuck out a prosthetic hand. “Shiro.” He said. “Welcome to Voltron.”