It’s not like cape battles don’t happen in the area. Kyungsoo knows full well the risks of living in a city like Toronto, where every hour at least five mutant-caused crimes occur, and those that are reported in are quickly responded to by heroes - inevitably resulting in fights, and depending on how strong both parties are, minor to massive property damage. One in three humans is likely to be born a mutant. One in four civilians is likely to be involved in at least one mutant crime in their lifetimes. It’s not like you can’t see it coming, or prepare adequately - hell, that’s what Kyungsoo’s got insurance for.
But it is something vastly different compared to reading statistics off a screen, to actually be that one-in-three and one-in-four individual. Numbers are abstract and distant, but to really be there - to receive that fate - is an experience nothing can really fully prepare you for.
Of course, none of that was running through Do Kyungsoo’s mind on that bitter March morning, standing there behind the counter of his flowershop, as a crimson-costumed figure lay in a shower of glass shards and concrete groaning and sputtering with flame, and a villain stalked in through the rubble of the shattered wall after him. He was too busy thinking about how not to die.
Fuck fuck fuckfuck fuck -
Kyungsoo drops to the ground behind the counter, body folding up small and limbs taut with tension, shoving his glasses back onto his face with one shaky hand. Another earth-shaking crash resounds - the sound of glass bending and breaking and shattering , the sharp, heavy thud of a body hitting the floor - and he flinches.
With trepidation he chances a glance around the corner to survey the scene. Red-and-gold- clad hero, tall form sprawled out on the floor and letting out a loud groan, crimson hair covered in dust and sputtering with flickering flame. Through the wall where Kyungsoo’s nice big glass window once stood, a lithe figure, draped in silver and black, practically prowling in - the curve of their spine angled in the manner of a big cat, eyes actually aglow through the lenses of their mask. Kyungsoo can feel the plants wailing in distress: the dying whimpers of the orchids and lilies, caught in the crossfire; the terrified caterwauling of the roses and gladiolus by the other walls, feeling the proximity of fire and their dying comrades; the overall panicked chaotic atmosphere now pervading the ruined shop, the flames crackling away, the flowers all singing with fear.
Would be nice if the capes could hear greensong, Kyungsoo thinks wryly to himself for a fleeting second. But they can’t - that’s Kyungsoo’s quirk, and thus the only one distracted by crying flora is him. The two in the front of the shop are concerned with much more human matters.
“You couldn’t try’n pull your punches just a little?” the hero croaks, staggering to his feet. Little specks and shards of glass and wall cascade off of him, floating up and away, carried aloft by the heated air, and now that he’s standing it’s evident he’s tall as hell, his broad back facing where Kyungsoo’s hidden. The logo emblazoned across his back is a stylized flame - typical, considering the powers he’s currently showing, but unfamiliar to Kyungsoo. Though, to be fair, it’s not like Kyungsoo really keeps up to date on the intricacies of the local cape scene.
“Big boys should be able to take big boy hits,” the figure purrs, voice like silk. They flex their hands, and - yeah, okay, those are claws. Of ice. Kyungsoo stifles a groan. Of all the fucking rogues and villains, it had to be Mad Ice Xiumin. Kyungsoo doesn’t know much about capes, but you can’t live in Toronto and not know of the city’s Most Wanted Villain.
“Has anyone ever told you just how uncomfy being called big boy is?” the hero retorts, voice wry, straightening up to his full height, shifting on his feet. The air around him wavers and shimmers, and Kyungsoo can feel the sheer power from the counter - the flowers cry too hot, too hot!! “Because it really gives me the creeps being called that by someone who’s wanted for over a billion dollars in theft and also murder. ”
“They had it coming.” Xiumin says, with a tone of particularly feline amusement. “And you’re not dead yet, are you? You can put up a better fight than that. Give me a show, kid.”
“Well, since you insist,” the hero says, and flames roar from his body and he lunges, and - Kyungsoo’s not really paying too much attention to how the two capes are fighting at this point, because the plants are screaming at a deafening pitch and his storefront is fucking demolished and - another bone-shuddering crash as someone flies through another wall. Does his insurance cover total destruction of his shop? Kyungsoo should check. When he’s not in mortal peril.
FUCK, okay, Do, focus. If the hero’s properly registered and not a rogue, he should be in contact with the local Protectorate centre - especially if he’s fighting Xiumin , so assistance is almost surely on the way. The important thing is saving his shop, and himself. His eyes flick around - there’s the manual switch for the fire alarm just over there, on the wall - his thighs throb as he springs from his crouched position to his feet, and he wrenches the red box open and yanks the lever down as fast as he can. On perfect cue, the alarms start howling, and the sprinklers hiss to life, raining upon the ruined room and dousing the roaring flames .
Of course, the plants all start crying about being too wet now. Temperamental little brats. Kyungsoo should just run and leave them to perish, but nooooo, he just had to become a chlorokinetic florist. At least they’re not in direct danger of death now.
The fire alarm also has the unfortunate effect of catching both the capes’ attentions for a short moment. The hero has the fucking gall to look over his shoulder and beam. “Sorry, Mr. Flower Guy!” he booms merrily, sidestepping a swipe of icy claws, and even through the mask covering the upper half of the man’s face and the actual cloak of flame Kyungsoo can still fucking feel that grin scrunching up the hero’s eyes. Who has the right to have that many teeth in their mouth, what the fuck. “When I’m done with this guy I’ll clean up this mess!”
“Maybe stop talking and focus on the villain, hotshot,” Kyungsoo snaps out, just as Xiumin makes another lunge for the jugular, and the hero makes an aborted dodge so it grazes his arm instead. This is the kind of knucklehead that the Protectorate has on their payroll? God, no wonder cape insurance has been going up lately. Is there anything else he can do to help? Or at least make them stop wrecking his fucking shop?
Another swipe, another strike, the two of them locked in combat - Xiumin leaps back from a flaming punch, icy claws digging into the floor with a crumbly screech, as the hero backs up in turn, up against an overturned table, stepping on shards of pots and scattered soil. Kyungsoo mutters a silent curse in his head for his poor irises, focusing as hard as he can on the thrumming, manic floral symphony in his ears, seeing which ones are in the best shape to be singing duet. He starts up a loud hum in the back of his throat, channeling his energy and quickly coaxing them all to harmonize, cells working overtime, xylem and phloem and stems thickening and extending and thorns growing and growing and growing.
The longer the capes stay, the more damage they’re causing. If the villain could just get a little closer-
“Get outta here, Mr. Flower Guy!!” the hero calls, punching a plume of flame across the room, eliciting a discordant shriek from the peonies and a hiss from Xiumin, who dodges with ease, ending up by the roses. Kyungsoo takes a quick, deep breath, readying himself. “Go find cover! I’ve got this-”
“ I have so many fuckin’ doubts about thaaaaat ,’ Kyungsoo sing-yells back, his voice twined with Green, and his roses croon and reach out with thorny tendrils in a noose around the villain’s throat, scratching at his wrists too, tearing at his suit and bare skin with their prickly embrace and sweet song. Their polyphony cuts off into a pained wail as Xiumin lashes out, snarling with frost breath to break their hold, but that short delay is all the hero needs to close in, fists clenched and wreathed in flame, and strike with a blazing uppercut to Xiumin’s jaw.
“That was fuckin’ amazing!” The hero shouts, breathless and radiant as Xiumin staggers, woozy from the hit. “But you still should probably get - fuck! -” he curses, barely dodging a sloppy roundhouse kick and striking back quickly with more fire and shouting, and his roses are crying and there are spots dancing in Kyungsoo’s vision right now from the effort of the Song so he doesn’t really pay much attention to the rest of the fight. Now it’s time to find somewhere to sit down.
That’s about when Kyungsoo makes a hasty retreat out the back door. Sirens wailing, his heartbeat thundering in his ears, the keening of his flowers ringing in his head. The weight of his glasses on the bridge of his nose, the prickling of chilled sweat along the back of his neck, the sky a brilliant swathe of electric blue in his hazy eyes. He distantly registers another crash as they finally tumble in a brawling mass back out the way they came into the street. Another March morning in Toronto.
To be honest, despite the wrecking of his shop and it being the first up-close cape action he's ever been involved in, Kyungsoo's really not that fussed about any of it.
“You -- m-my son -”
"Yes, Pa, I'm okay," Kyungsoo says into the phone, humming in an empathetic manner as tinny Korean blubbering comes through the speakers. He usually reserves this tone of voice for soothing his most unruly plants, but it works pretty well in handling distressed parental figures, too. "I got out without any major injuries, just some scratches and stuff from the debris. Yes, I've gone to the hospital and seen a doctor. I've talked to the insurance company already, they're processing the damage claims now, and I'm getting a new shipment of supplies next Tuesday to replace all the broken stuff. I just have to regrow some flowers and you know how easy that is. I love you, I’m fine.”
He exhales softly as the sounds of scuffling and distant conversation come through, his mother's dulcet voice quickly replacing his father's. "Honey, we're glad you're safe, but-"
This again. He adjusts his glasses, exhales. "Ma, I'm not going to move out of the country just because I got caught up in a powered fistfight."
"A 'powered fistfight' with one of the most wanted villains in the world ," Her words cut, razor-sharp - even though he's not in physical range of her quirk, he reflexively shivers a little, knowing too well the twining of her empathic power to her voice.
"Not quite the world, more like the Americas," Kyungsoo half-jokes, before flinching as his mother's Mother Bear voice thunders, fairly rattling his poor phone.
" You could have gotten killed, Kyungsoo!! ” She takes a second to breathe, harsh. ”You have to understand that we're only worried about your safety here. You could easily run your florist's from - I don't know, Montreal? Vancouver? Or some Canadian countryside town with no capes , or, or - " Or Namwon , she doesn't say, trailing off into a bull-like huff.
Not for the first time, Kyungsoo contemplates taking her up on that offer. It's not like he doesn't miss Korea, miss Namwon - miss the mountains looming like a cradle around the valley, the cherry blossoms chorusing by the Yocheon in the spring, the tang of homemade cooking and uncle’s homebrewed soju on his tongue, the sticky warmth of being crammed into a booth with friends he's not seen in person for a long time.
Namwon, where his uncle jeered at idols dancing on glittering stages, his old friends catcalled women on the street, his aunties would never stop asking when he’d find himself a pretty girl to settle down with, and his parents - his parents didn’t know. Still don’t know. Nineteen years of being in the closet, “out-ness” only four years old, fresh and bittersweet. Kyungsoo’s not ready to close the doors in full again.
Kyungsoo sighs. "No, Ma, I'm not going to move back. I’ve settled pretty well in Toronto. This is just a minor setback. I’ll be okay.” He can hear her inhale, that soft one that precedes her about to go into full argumentative mode.
“ Do Kyungsoo - ”
" Ma ," Kyungsoo says, steel-toned. He’s not twelve anymore. “I’m staying. The capes aren’t gonna kill me. We can talk about this another time. Okay?”
There’s a tense little pause, seconds stretching out into infinitudes, his heart thumping against his ribcage in fight-or-flight response. “Fine,” she says, finally. “If you’re not going to move home, you could at least make more of an effort to visit.”
Back to a simmering ceasefire they go. “Next Chuseok,” Kyungsoo says, only a shade reluctant. “I’ll make it back next year.”
The sodden jingling of half-melted bells sounds through the shop, cutting through the soft chorus of greensong and letting in a draft of cold March air. Kyungsoo huffs a sigh, makes a mental note to replace those, plasters on his well-honed service industry face, and turns around. "Sorry, as the sign shows, Do Bloom is currently not open-"
"Oh no, sorry, I'm not here to. Buy stuff." Tenor voice, a touch scratchy. Kyungsoo's gaze meets an AC/DC logo splashed across a broad chest, and trail upwards to meet big dark eyes and washed-out messy red hair and a nervous, toothy smile. "Hi. I'm here as a volunteer?
Kyungsoo blinks. Resists the reflexive urge to clean his glasses. "What?"
"A volunteer. I'm. One, I mean." He coughs, looking around. Kyungsoo takes a moment to take the stranger in in full, from his battered ripped jeans and scuffed sneakers and the deep red jacket over a clearly worn-out gray band shirt. "Like, your shop got wrecked a while back, right? In a cape fight? I'm here to help out with like, cleaning up and. Stuff."
“The hero who fought Xiumin in your shop, uh,” the man starts, scratching the back of his head. “He made the promise that he was gonna help clean up your shop. Which he couldn’t do personally, unfortunately, ‘cause of. Protectorate stuff, and regulations and patrols ‘n all. So I’m here instead. Community service, y’know.”
Kyungsoo stares at him. “And the reason I’m hearing this from you instead of a Protectorate official is….”
“.....They’re short-staffed at the moment,” the man squeaks. His sentence lilts up at the end, verging on a question mark. "And I'm, uh, kinda here on the hero's request."
Hero’s request? “Well I’unno if your hero realized, but the repair crew came by last week,” Kyungsoo points out, making a little gesture around at the shopfront, structure restored to pristine condition. “There’s not exactly much for you to clean up from the fight. And I've had most of my pots and tools and tables replaced already.”
The man pouts, biting his lip. “....I can still help, though! I can do whatever else you need 'round here, free of charge. Like an unpaid flower intern. It's the least I can do-” He starts, and looks away, mumbling. “As a good citizen. And uh, I owe Sunstrike a favour. For saving my life from. A life of crime. Which is why I’m doing the community service thing. Semi-indefinitely.”
“Uh huh.” Kyungsoo says, a smidge doubtful. Well, anyone who lies this badly is probably relatively trustworthy. He crosses his arms, leans against the counter. “I could use another pair of hands around, I guess. As long as you aren't gonna wreck my shop.”
The man flushes pink, up to his ears - his oversized, sticking-out, elf ears. Why does Kyungsoo find that so cute. "I'll be careful! I can run errands for you an' I’m pretty strong. And I've, um, got a minor heat quirk, so I can keep the place an optimum temperature while I'm here too. Plants need that, right?"
Bumbling, but astute. "To an extent, yes," Kyungsoo answers. "It depends on how good of a control you have over temperature, though. And whether or not you'll be a fire hazard."
"Oh, you don't need to worry about fire," the man laughs, scratching the back of his neck. "I was a walking bonfire when I was in high school, but I've got an actual hold on it now. Uh, I can show you the cert from my training centre if you need proof of my control-" he says quickly, sliding his backpack off his shoulder and rummaging through it hastily, fishing out and presenting a light pink polka-dotted folder, with little bears splashed across it.
Oh, he brought actual certification with him and everything, wow. Nerd.
He takes the folder and slides his glasses up the bridge of his nose, squinting at the resume and the papers with it, musing at the big official TORONTO MUTATION CONTROL TRAINING CENTRE stamp, the straight string of 100%'s through his university records, the recommendations from local fire departments and university professors and oddly enough, Hendricks & Lee, a law firm. "Park Chanyeol, huh," Kyungsoo says, raising an eyebrow, glancing back and forth between the solemn little photo pasted to the paper and the flushed, jittery face in front of him.
“That’s the name, don’t wear it out,” he flashes a toothy grin, fidgeting a little.
"I’m Do Kyungsoo. Nice to see a fellow Korean. And you've really got.....a glowing resume here." Glowing is an understatement. Sparkling, more like. He had a nigh flawless 5.0 GPA, he plays for a community bowling team, he used to volunteer regularly at a local animal shelter. There’s even a little handwritten recommendation from old lady Seo who runs the Asian market a few blocks down, practically gushing about what a fine, polite, well-brought-up young man the lanky giant in front of him is. The words prep nerd rise to the front of his mind, unbidden but not inaccurate, and Kyungsoo has to hold back a laugh.
The man - Chanyeol - perks up a little, eyes bright, and Kyungsoo can't help but be reminded of a puppy. "So, like, does it all check out? Are you-"
"It's all good," Kyungsoo sighs, tucking the papers back into the file. The guy beams. How is he for real, seriously. "I'm not exactly used to interviewing potential volunteers, so I'll be quick. Any experience with gardening or working with plants?
“Uh, I used to help my mom in her garden? I know how to weed ‘n water plants...”
He won’t have to spend too much time training him then. "Okay. Any knowledge on the handling of cut flowers or flower arrangement?"
“I kept my graduation bouquet alive for a week and a half before they all wilted?”
“Good enough.” Kyungsoo hums. He casts another look at the figure before him. Tall, but kinda skinny...he’ll have to make him try some aprons and gloves on to check that they fit. But that’s for later. “Working hours are kinda wrecked until I get everything back in order. Come here tomorrow, 10AM, bring coffee, we can start there.”
Chanyeol blinks, cocking his head to one side, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “Okay….That’s really it? You don’t need any help today or anythin'? I can do anything you need, no problem, I mean it.”
The phrasing makes Kyungsoo’s hackles rise a little, but something about the little pout on Chanyeol’s face makes them sink back down, placated. He snorts, waving one hand. “If you’re so gung-ho about it. Go ‘n grab me a cappuccino from ‘round the corner. Regular-sized. Ask for Jongdae and tell him it’s for Kyungsoo.”
“A’ight, boss!” He salutes - salutes, of all things, in a loose casual manner with a bright grin - and pivots on his heel sharply, before shortly tripping over his own feet on the way out the door, half-melted bells chiming overhead as he nervously grins, flushes bright red, and breaks into a quick shuffle out of sight. The gladioluses titter, and Kyungsoo doesn’t bother to stifle his chuckle this time.
He looks unfairly fucking good in that apron, god damn it.
It’s the morning after some lanky weirdo tripped into his shop looking to volunteer, in the greenhouse Kyungsoo uses to grow his stock of flowers, and Kyungsoo can’t help but stare, thoroughly offended, as Chanyeol leans over the row of lilies, inhaling deeply and making a pleased little sound of contentment, much to their melodious delight. How dare he? That apron comes down to Kyungsoo’s knees, stained with soil and bits of plant matter and general all-purpose grime, and always does an amazing job of making Kyungsoo look like a middle-aged suburban mom in the kitchen.
On Chanyeol, it ends perfectly mid-thigh over his washed-out jeans, the straps looped over broad shoulders, the stains paired with his broad hands and rolled-up shirt sleeves and bare forearms looking positively……disgustingly attractive. The sunlight filtering through the greenhouse windows catches the strands of his messy hair in a gentle halo, the apples of his cheeks and the broad grin on his face practically fucking glowing. How dare he. This was a mistake, he should have never let in this stupid pretty volunteer, but he did and now Kyungsoo must suffer.
“They’re all so beautiful,” Chanyeol sighs, wistful. “What’re these guys?”
“Tiger lilies,” Kyungsoo answers, biting back an expletive, reaching up with one hand to fix his slightly-askew frames. “You won’t actually be needing to come in here much, my plant quirk helps a lot with growing these guys quickly and looking after ‘em, but in the event that I need to go handle something else it’ll be up to you to deal with these guys.”
Chanyeol nods, straightening back up. “Actually…I was wondering, what is your quirk, exactly? Tell me yours if I tell you mine?”
“Sure. It’s nothing much,” Kyungsoo shrugs. “Named it Greensong. Chlorokinetic and kinda-empathic powers with voice activation. I ‘hear’ plants as actual voices in song, and I communicate with 'n control them with my own voice.”
“Damn, that’s cool,” Chanyeol whistles appreciatively.
“It’s really not,” Kyungsoo snorts. “Plants never shut the fuck up. Like, I get woken up at sunrise no matter what because the tree outside my apartment window starts singing what my quirk translates to opera . Winter’s the only time I get a semblance of peace and quiet. And I’m pretty limited in terms of how far my area of effect reaches and what I can coax the plants into doing, and how they’re affected afterwards by what I do.”
“Still, though,” Chanyeol says, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “It’s an amazing quirk! I’ve heard of a few song-types, but nothing like this. It’s so graceful, ‘n I bet you’re great at singing!”
“I’m decent,” Kyungsoo mumbles. “What about your quirk, then? I skimmed your file, but how do you view it?”
“It’s nothing as nice as yours,” Chanyeol shrugs, but smiles widely, puffing up visibly. “Just your standard pyro powerset. Mine comes with the fun perk of energy levels being controlled by the sun. I can make heat and spark flames from my bare skin, and I’m pretty non-flammable myself. And I’ve fine-tuned my control enough to have a pretty good hold on specific temperatures that I can produce. Comes in handy when I’m snowed in.”
“God, I can imagine,” Kyungsoo chuckles. “But don’t you get soaked afterwards?”
“My dryness is just an unfortunate and necessary casualty,” Chanyeol grins, a tad sheepish. “It could be worse, y’know? And I dry off quick.”
“True,” Kyungsoo hums. “Got a name for yours?”
He wilts a little immediately at the question. Chanyeol shifts from one foot to another, rubbing the back of his neck. “Uhhhh….it’s pretty derivative of other quirks, so I never really felt comfy giving it a name of its own. And all the cool pyro quirk names are taken. I think the researchers just dubbed it, uh, Heat 6.1 or something.”
That’s almost definitely a lie, but whatever. Kyungsoo shrugs. “That’s a solid title. Sounds all serious and official , like you’re a real hero.”
Chanyeol laughs, nervously. Good. Let him squirm. “Ah, ha, well, I don’t think I could really be a hero, considering, uh, what I’ve done, but thanks!”
“What you’ve done? You mean what you’re serving community service for?” Kyungsoo latches on. “What did you do to end up owing that, um-” -what the hell was his name, something to do with sun and punching- “-owing that Solarfist hero community service?”
The other man twitches, ever so slightly. “You mean Sunstrike? Oh you know,” Chanyeol says, adopting a greatly airy tone, “jaywalking, shoplifting, accidental property damage, the usual. I’m a real troublemaker, y’know.”
Yeah, sure, the man with a 5.0 GPA and zero criminal record and a commendation from his time in the fire department for rescuing cats out of trees is a real troublemaker. “Sure,” Kyungsoo says, in lieu of slowly squeezing the shitty lies out of him. “Sounds nefarious. Grab that watering can over there, I gotta run you through what you need to do to keep these guys alive.”
Kyungsoo hums to the flowers and watches Chanyeol out of the corner of his eye, snipping stems and tucking them in paper and ribbon as the taller man gestures and rambles cheerily on, to the evident pleasure of a wrinkly shawl-wrapped auntie.
It’s odd, how everything’s settled into new routine with Chanyeol around.
Running a florist business when you have plant powers is a pretty smooth gig, but also a lonely one usually, and while Kyungsoo doesn’t need Chanyeol’s help around….it’s nice, having an actual human voice in his shop that’s not a customer, having someone he can banter with as they tend to the greenhouse plants, having someone to take up the task of warmly greeting and charming clients when Kyungsoo’s feeling less-than-human, having someone who’ll smile and joke and bring him coffee just a tad too sweet in the bitter mornings. Someone who'll sing to the flowers even without the senses to hear them sing back.
It’s also nice to have someone who can drive, and is open to Kyungsoo shoving bouquets and arrangements of flowers at him and rattling off an address to send said flowers to. Kyungsoo hates doing deliveries. Chanyeol, conversely, seems to relish the opportunity to go up to a person’s door with an armful of technicolour blooms and a big shiny grin on his face. He seems to relish customer service in general, really. Kyungsoo’s mentally compared him to a sunflower more than once.
Much like the sunflowers, he’s also loud. Kyungsoo’s used to chatter, the endless voices of plant life always in his head no matter where he goes, but Chanyeol’s presence brings Chanyeol’s mouth. He’s quiet and contemplative sometimes, but he often breaks what must sound like silence on his end with questions, and silly anecdotes, and random facts, and song, spilling from his mouth like water gushing from a fountain. It’s new, but it’s not unwelcome. Chanyeol’s sweet, and a tad unsteady, and the shittiest liar Kyungsoo’s ever met, but Kyungsoo….Kyungsoo really likes him.
A thud, the distressed wail of a flower, and the tinkling crash of glass meeting floor. Kyungsoo looks over his shoulder. Chanyeol’s knocked over a lone vase with a single snapdragon, and is now frantically trying to sweep up the shards with his bare hands and profusely apologizing to the elderly client for spilling water on her shoes.
Likes having him around, he means. Definitely not likes him. Because how the fuck is Kyungsoo supposed to deal with liking that .
“Cooking extra today, Kyung-jaaaa~?” comes a familiar lilting voice. Kyungsoo rolls his eyes, bats away the thieving too-pretty hands he knows are coming to try and steal a bite.
“Not for you, you greedy little shit. Aren’t you supposed to be asleep, Baek?” the florist snorts, pausing his stirring of the kimchi spaghetti for a second to elbow his roommate and eliciting an exaggerated whine from the other. “Thought you were still on night shift till June, with how pissed your boss was.”
Baekhyun hums. “Well, y’see, I’ve been a good little detective these past few months of horrid punishment, and after that last case where, y’know, I risked my life for his hot ass, the beautiful and benevolent Captain Kim has finally seen fit to let me see the light again.”
“You literally make light, Baekhyun, find a different metaphor,” Kyungsoo deadpans. “Congrats on getting your boss to think you’re a decent contributing member of society. I’ll bake you a little celebration cupcake.”
“You know I can never turn down your salty-ass passive-aggro baked goods, tiny peach man,” Baekhyun coos, patting the other’s cheeks to emphasize their peach-like roundness.
“I’ll bake cucumber into it, just watch me.” Kyungsoo snipes. “Go make yourself useful and get me some tupperwares for these.”
“You feelin’ real hungry today?” Baekhyun asks with a raised eyebrow, but carrying out the task as asked, reaching up into the cupboards and grabbing the obnoxiously cute Pusheen tupperwares Kyungsoo got for Christmas. “Or are you planning to stay at the shop late?”
“You ask a lot of questions for a man who should be getting ready to go to work,” Kyungsoo says dryly. “For your information, I’m bringing extra to feed some strays round the shop.”
“Uh huh. And those strays wouldn’t happen to be six-foot-tall redheaded pyro boys, would they?”
“...I need to put a fuckin’ barrier or something between you and Jongdae,” Kyungsoo mutters, resigned. Exactly how Baekhyun befriended Kyungsoo’s favorite barista he doesn’t know, but put together they gossip more avidly than Kyungsoo’s aunts back in Namwon. “Maybe I can commission a psychic.”
“Jongdae and I share a bond too strong for any force to part us, and you’re not answering the questiooooon , Kyung-jaaaaa~~” Baekhyun sings, obnoxious, handing over the tupperwares with a flourish. “Can’t believe you’re giving your precious, lovingly-made home cooking to some boy . At least bring him home so I can interrogate him first!”
“You’re not allowed to interrogate my volunteer, Baekhyun, or so help me I will force feed you laxatives,” Kyungsoo punctuates that statement with a well placed back-elbow, catching his roommate in the solar plexus successfully and bringing a satisfying ‘oof’. “Anyways, I’m doing this as thanks for all the work he’s done for me, it’s not like that.”
“Yeah, I’m sure it’s hard work, bending you over tables and lifting you up against walls,” Baekhyun coos, eyes twinkling. “Or maybe he’s the one getting bent! Oh, that’s even more strenuous, you really should be paying him, y’know.”
“Baekhyun please ,” Kyungsoo says, rolling his eyes. “He’s an elemental type, you know fast they wear themselves out. And he’s been using his quirk to basically cut down my greenhouse heating bill to zero. It’s the least I can do to keep him going.”
“ Keep him going , huh,” Baekhyun leers, wiggling his eyebrows, and yelps sharply when Kyungsoo reaches over and pinches the back of his neck. “Kay, kay, I’ll stop! But I’ve seen pictures, Kyungsoo. I don’t want you to be lonely, ‘n he’s your type .”
Tall, cute, fluffy, long-limbed and sweet-voiced. God, doesn’t Kyungsoo know it. “He’s just a guy volunteering to help. Besides, I don’t even know if he likes men.” He sighs a little, spooning the last of the spaghetti into the container and securing the lid. Even if he does - even if Chanyeol is into guys, Kyungsoo wouldn’t have the guts to try anything. Better to live not knowing, really.
The other hums, and there’s the little click of his phone screen unlocking, because Baekhyun for some reason likes having his phone not on silent. “Well, it’s a little hard to say from his Facebook, and his Twitter is locked-”
Byun fucking Baekhyun - “You’ve been stalking him?-”
“-Just a background check!” Baekhyun chirps, nimbly lifting his phone out of reach and easily resisting Kyungsoo’s heated grabs for it.
“Don’t you have a boyfriend? Don’t you have better things to do with your time than than try and docks my fucking employees-”
“That is not what doxx means or how you use it at all, but to answer your questions, this is the absolute best way to spend my free time.” He even has the gall to start scrolling with one hand, the other pressed against Kyungsoo’s face and simultaneously fending him off and squishing his glasses out of place against his face, talking cheerily all the while like the fucker he is. Kyungsoo tries to bite his fingers, to no avail.
“So anyways, if you look through his Instagram, there is a suspicious amount of gay activity going on. He never states anything outright but. Like, look, he congratulated his sister for getting married to her wife, he was at Pride last year, there is an awful lot of posting about male capes - especially that new pyro Sunstrike - and he’s made multiple extremely gay covers-”
“He could just be an overeager straight ally,” Kyungsoo points out, but Baekhyun shakes his head emphatically and brandishes the phone in his face, audio beginning to come from the speakers.
“Just look, okay!”
“Fine, fine.” Kyungsoo fixes his glasses, looks. Dark hoodle, piano, long fingers settling on ivory keys. Familiar opening chords ring out with heavy feeling, a husky voice soon following.
“As the smile fell from your face, I fell with it-”
No, what the fuck. What the fuck .
“Our faces blue...”
Is he really? Is this real? Is this a fucking fever dream? Is Kyungsoo awake right now? Is there some illusionist villain at work trying to kill him dead with feelings?
“There's a heart stain on the carpet, I left it, I left it with you….”
“And before you make some noise about Lost Boy not being gender-specific in its lyrics, there’s also a Frank Ocean cover, a Hayley Kiyoko cover, two Sam Smith covers, and even a fucking Kevin Abstract cover,” Baekhyun says, smugly, over the tinny sound of Chanyeol singing through the phone speakers and the not-noise Kyungsoo makes as he devolves into the most homosexual panic possible. “The gays win again.”
“Will you ever stop using that phrase,” Kyungsoo says, but it’s nothing more than a weak attempt at snark. The video keeps going, and with every passing second and note Kyungsoo’s heart drops further out of his chest like a stone, straight through his guts to hit the carpet. Motherfucking Troye Sivan . Park Chanyeol singing a Troye Sivan song. Park Chanyeol playing piano with his stupid too-big hands, crooning about being young and unsure and unsteady and queer , his voice rough and heavy and heartrending like his sole purpose in life to make Kyungsoo lie down and bawl his goddamn lungs out like a damn baby. His entire brain is a chaotic panicking mass of gray matter.
“He’s not even here in person and he’s making you cry,” Baekhyun sighs as the video draws to a close, tucking his phone away and shaking his head with a Cheshire grin. “Look at you, going through a full gay crisis over a cute boy. I’m so proud of you.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Kyungsoo grumbles, wiping a tear, sniffling. Baekhyun reaches over and ruffles his hair like the obnoxious supportive fuck he is anyways.
“You don’t have Twitter?! ” Chanyeol cries, aghast.
“What’s a Tweeter,” Kyungsoo says, dryly.
Another bright morning, the April air still heavy with winter’s touch (because Canada ) but the skies clear and the sun’s gaze warm and the shop alive with the sound of music. Kyungsoo doesn’t quite remember how they got to the topic of social media, and he doesn’t really understand why Chanyeol’s acting so betrayed. It’s still very funny, though.
“No Twitter, no Tumblr, no Discord, not even an Instagram,” Chanyeol mutters, shaking his head, staring at his phone screen, which displays a bare profile with a default icon and a ten-word bio. “Just Facebook, which you last used five months ago. ”
“It’s too time-consuming,” Kyungsoo shrugs. “I just never got into any of that. I’ve got more stuff in real life to deal with, and I just use Kakao to stay in touch with the people that I need to anyways..” He tactfully doesn’t mention his old Tenipuri fanfiction account, because he’s reasonably sure fanfiction sites don’t count as social media.
Chanyeol gets even more incensed at his words, hilariously. There’s a little heat haze shimmering over his red head as he flails about. The irises hiss as the heat gets a little too close to them. “This is the 21st century , Kyungsoo! It’s more than just keeping up with your friends, it’s about keeping up with the competition! You can use it to market yourself, to promote your business, to seek out new ideas 'n collaborators, to get followers willing to give you money to keep doing what you’re doing,” Chanyeol rambles, waving his hands about animatedly. “To ask for help, to connect with people in other fields - to just! Be a part of things! You’re younger than me, I don’t understand this!”
“Too much effort,” Kyungsoo deadpans. “I’ve got enough flowers and people chattering at me at all times, I don’t need to get in any more interaction.”
“At least let me set up a Facebook and Instagram for the shop,” Chanyeol wheedles, batting his eyes. “It’ll help with business and we can post pics of the flowers and bouquets so more people come by. C’mooooon , boss!”
Kyungsoo squints at him. Takes in his puppy dog eyes. Shrugs. “Go ahead, I’ll leave it to you.”
“Yesssss,” Chanyeol crows, fist-pumping, before stopping. “Wait, but I won’t just take control of it entirely. It’s your shop. And, um, I dunno how long I’ll be working here, so you have to know how to update and manage the accounts as well!”
Kyungsoo sighs, waves a hand, ignores the little pinch in his gut at the thought of Chanyeol up and leaving so soon. “You can teach me later if you’re so keen on it.” He says, with another shrug, turning to a whining lily to soothe its need for attention.
“I didn’t mean teaching this literally, Chanyeol,” Kyungsoo deadpans, one hour later. Chanyeol beams in front of him, in fullest dorkiest mode, mini-whiteboard already scrawled with words and little drawings, phone in hand and opened to an Instagram profile.
“Well, you asked, so I’m gonna ,” Chanyeol declares, tapping said whiteboard with his marker pen - where did he even get that? Did he go and bring them just for this? “I’ve set up a Google account for the shop, made both a Facebook and Instagram linked to it, so if you need to log in you can do so through it. Got the usernames and passwords here as well, in case you forget. I’ve already taken a few photos of the shop and posted them, you can take a look 'n pass your judgement,” he says, passing the phone over.
“Nice pictures….” Kyungsoo hums, trailing off as he looks through the photos. They are, admittedly, tasteful shots - there’s one of a bouquet Kyungsoo sent off yesterday, one of the rows of potted plants, and one of the storefront with the clean, plain logo of DO BLOOM on center display, light shining off the glass. And one of Kyungsoo himself, face turned towards his trellis of morning glories and sweetpea, cradling a pink bloom between his bare hands, eyes half-lidded and serene behind his glasses and cheeks flushed. There's already ten likes on the picture.
“I take it back, delete this,” Kyungsoo says, flatly. Chanyeol wails.
“ Noooo , don’t! You just looked really nice and I couldn’t resist, I’ll take that one down if you don’t wanna, just let me keep up the rest, pleaseeee-”
Kyungsoo snorts a little, pinches his ear to cut off his whining. “I’m joking, calm down. When did you even sneak in this photo?”
“Just now, before I went to get you coffee,” Chanyeol mumbles, pouting and looking askance. His ears are hilariously red right now. “It was just the right moment and the lighting was perfect and you were busy humming to the flowers and you loo-- it looked so pretty , okay.”
“It is pretty,” Kyungsoo acquiesces. “But maybe ask me next time you try and take pictures of your boss and post them on the Internet, hm ?” He twists the ear in his hold to punctuate his words, bringing a satisfying little yelp.
“Okay, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Won’t do it again without permission! Please let go of my ear you’re cutting off blood circulation.”
“It’s what you deserve,” Kyungsoo says, but lets go off his ear, steadfastly ignoring the very gay and very distressed voice in his head yelling about a cute boy taking his picture and calling it pretty . “Now, hurry up and finish your explanation so we can get on with work, will you?”
The days slide quickly along, earth and moon and sun moving in celestial orbits and revolutions, time carrying Kyungsoo’s schedule along like river currents turning a wheel.
Far from the city smog, the wind dances and tumbles its way down from the overcast sky across the earth, summoning choruses of whispering leaves and the booming of insects and making the fields chime with earthsong, glorying in exaltation, in life and growth and fruition and being. Kyungsoo inhales slow, breathes in the air, the spring chill, the taste of chlorophyll and soil and water...and pesticides, eurgh. He’s told him to lay off on those, but it seems Rosenberg never learns.
Another service he offers, only peripherally related to Do Bloom , is general agricultural or horticultural consultations. Plant quirks are rather rare, and empathic chlorokinetic quirks like his are an absolute boon for farmers, or people in the urban agriculture and forestry industry, or even just amateur gardeners. He can’t exactly grow their plants for them, because if he did that they’d die exceedingly soon after, but he can listen and tell them how they’re doing. If they’re close to blooming or ripening or harvesting, if there’s a threat or infection or pest invasion, if there’s too much or too little water and minerals and space and sunlight. Like a sort of plant whisperer , Baekhyun’s joked before. Dr. Doolittle, the eco-edition.
It’s a pain, since it often involves extended drives out of the city and whole days of having to listen to the positively dulcet tones of hay and soybean and so many grains, but it pays well. And with Chanyeol around, who actually enjoys driving, it’s less of a hassle, and Kyungsoo can enjoy the opportunity to be out of the concrete jungle for a while. He’s already been wandering the fields for some time, walking between rows and rows of stalks of grain, listening to the endlessly echoed melody of their being, with the wavering susurrus of the grass and the trees as background noise. It’s a nice change of pace from the more jubilant, frenetic sound of urban flora.
Footsteps and whistling, trudging up the path to him, cutting through the song. “Your coffee, milord,” Chanyeol intones, mock-grave. Kyungsoo laughs, takes the cup from him gratefully.
“Thank you for your unfaltering service, coffee man,” he answers, taking a sip of piping hot cappuccino and letting out a soft pleased sigh. “Where’d you even find coffee out here?”
“Took a quick drive to the nearest gas station,” Chanyeol shrugs, taking out a paper bag and a bagel from it, the aroma of baked bread wafting into Kyungsoo’s lungs. “The one down the road has ridiculously good bagels, we should hit them up next time we come this way. I swear they have someone with like, a baking quirk, it's the only explanation.”
“Really, a baking quirk is your logical conclusion?” Kyungsoo says, laughing, raising an eyebrow. “If you went to all that trouble to get food, I hope you remembered what I like.”
“Well it just so happens,” Chanyeol announces grandly, reaching in and rustling the paper bag around with unnecessary vigor for effect, “that I did keep you , my most kind and gracious boss, in my thoughts, as I made my pilgrimage to the Great And Glorious Roadside Cornucopia Of Baked Delights. So yes I did get you a bagel.” he finishes, pulling out a bagel, to the applause of Kyungsoo’s laughter.
He’s such a fucking dork , god. Something in the center of his chest is thrumming rabbit-fast, unbearably tender. Kyungsoo really lov- Kyungsoo really likes him.
“So how’s the crops all doing?” Chanyeol asks, voice muffled by the bagel stuffed in his cheeks, as they gaze over the landscape.
“About as okay as ever,” Kyungsoo snorts. “It could do without ol’ Farmer Rosenberg trying to spray pesticides like a Jackson Pollock painting, but besides that, they’re all just pretty okay. Enough water, enough food, enough sun. The song around here’s the song of fields growing strong.”
“So poetic,” Chanyeol teases, smiling. “Is the song of fields growing strong a nice song?”
“Eh, I don’t like country,” Kyungsoo deadpans.
That's all it takes for Chanyeol to burst into cackling laughter, shaking full-bodied with the force of it, his eyes scrunched up into half-moons, his fluffy hair bouncing with the wind and his convulsions, his ears flushing red. Soon he devolves into sputtering wheezing, slapping his hands against Kyungsoo’s shoulder, practically leaning his full body weight against the smaller man, pressing close and so so so warm, the skin under his touch tingling and buzzing, the boom of Kyungsoo's own pulse in his ears only drowned out by deep, full laughter. In the back of his mind, he can hear the sunflowers in the greenhouse burst into song.
Kyungsoo is really, truly, so absolutely fucked.
A sleepy afternoon, summer heat finally starting to creep thick into the air, weighing down like water on tired shoulders and tired eyes. The plants all bask and preen and coo with the growing heat and sunshine, the flowers blooming fiercer and prettier than ever, their many-toned, glorious cacophony ringing through the shop and everywhere he goes unceasingly and making Kyungsoo’s skull ache. Closing time’s soon, and they made some nice sales today. Kyungsoo’s just waiting on his volunteer to come back with drinks.
The morning glories titter, soft and sleepy at this time of day, and Kyungsoo offers them a little hum back. Orchids and lilacs and forget-me-nots coo as he passes by, crocuses and daffodils and peonies sweetly unfolding under his touch, all of them singing contentedly in chaotic serenity. There’s a myriad range of songs they produce, but Kyungsoo’s brain translates this particular strain to something like jazz. Sometimes he really wishes he could physically record what he hears, to share their music with the world, but it’s nice to have the privilege of their symphony and know it to be only for his ears.
Well. Maybe he’d like Chanyeol to hear it, too.
The chiming of half-melted bells, the gentle sensation of a cool draft blowing in. Kyungsoo calls, half-turning. “Chanyeol, what took you so long-”
The chorus falters - the roses whimper.
A figure, standing in the entryway. Under a white hoodie, a black mask, fully covering the face, lenses shaped like cat’s eyes. Gloves with glittering clawed tips. Kyungsoo can’t move, can barely breathe as the figure closes the door behind them with a jingle, and strolls, unhurriedly, up the aisle, past the flowers, to where Kyungsoo’s paralysed against the counter.
“Hello, Mr. Do,” Xiumin says, cheerfully. “Lovely shop you have here.”
“No thanks to you,” Kyungsoo says, doing his best to keep the tremble out of his voice, limbs frozen, mind racing.
His phone is charging in the back, out of reach. The fire alarm is on the wall, behind the counter. The emergency number is 911. The Protectorate hotline is 416-555-0111. There are at least seven poisonous plants in the shop right now, all of them keening high and anxious. Mad Ice Xiumin is standing right in front of him, in what looks like a rumpled Supreme hoodie, Adidas sweatpants and a pair of oversized Balenciagas, like a walking evil summation of Baekhyun’s entire fashion style.
“Hey, to be fair, Big Red’s the one who brought our tussle into your shop,” the villain says, with a certain tone of voice - are they pouting , really. “I was helpless to do anything but follow him in, really.”
Kyungsoo gives them the best incredulous look he can muster. “You? Helpless?”
“Alright, that’s fair. And flattering ,” they coo, cocking their head to one side. The lenses conceal their eyes completely, but Kyungsoo’s like 90% sure they’re batting their eyelashes right now.
“Please don’t flirt, I don’t date supervillains,” Kyungsoo deadpans, somehow finding the strength to reach up and slide his glasses up the bridge of his nose a little. “What do you want?”
Xiumin sighs. They lean against the counter, one clawed hand tapping rhythmically against the surface, one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four . “How cold . I’m just here looking for a good fight, no need to be an ice queen.”
“So you came to the florist’s,” Kyungsoo says, flatly, doing his best to convey the level of ‘what-the-fuck’ he is experiencing. Why is the wanted supervillain making ice puns at him.
“No, I came to an frosty little chlorokinetic who has quite literally strangled me before.” Xiumin says, cheerful.
“I’d do it again, too,” Kyungsoo mutters under his breath.
“Charming, but it’s not you I’m after. Don’t suppose you’ve seen a local hothead hero around, hm?”
Kyungsoo stares. “Who, Mr. Sunpuncher? I haven’t seen him since you two wrecked my shop, if you recall that incident. I don’t think he’s been seen since then, actually. So if you’d kindly - ”
“Mm, I don’t think I belieeeve you,” Xiumin chirps, sing-song. One-two-three-four, one-two-three, the jagged scraping of frozen points across wood. “I’d know the taste of a pyro quirk anywhere, especially that one’s, and this shop is dripping with it, and you most of all. There’s no way he hasn’t been back here.” Really? The taste? What are they, a fucking cat? And what does he mean , ‘you’?
“That’s because my employee has a heat quirk,” Kyungsoo grits out, twitching, trying to sneak as much of a melody into his voice as he can, the flowers picking up on it and chorusing back in anticipation. He needs to get him out of here before anything happens - before Chanyeol comes back and assumptions get made. “No capes in this shop for you to beat up. I’m just trying to avoid another bout of property damage and insurance claims and having to talk to the cops. My employee is a good man who wouldn’t hurt a damn fly. The droids you’re looking for are not here.”
“It’s not like I’ll kill him,” Xiumin says, amused. “I just wanna get a good fight for once. Killing my opponent would defeat the purpose. And I try not to make a habit of offing good heroes.”
“And I told you,” Kyungsoo repeats, saying the words with conviction that he really does not possess, feeling the floral croon ringing in his ears, through his bones, letting the greensong rise and swell and build to a crescendo, “whoever you’re looking for isn’t here-”
Janky, atonal ringing, and a warm gust of wind. A messy red-haired man in the entryway, face pale, with a cardboard holder with two cups in one hand and a flickering flame blazing to life in the other. Kyungsoo stops, staring. Chanyeol stares, wide-eyed and terrified, back at him.
“ Sunstrike ,” Xiumin purrs, voice like silk on steel. “Hey there, Big Red. How wonderful to see you again.”
Not the time for it, but Kyungsoo fucking knew it.
“I think you’ve got the wrong guy,” Chanyeol says, unsteadily. It’s cute that he’s trying to deny it, but really, everyone in the room knows now. “I’m just a guy who works here, and that’s my boss you’re harassing, so if you’re not gonna get any flowers you should probably get going .”
“Chill out, please. I was just making some friendly conversation with your cool little boyfriend here.” Xiumin drawls, waving one ice-clawed hand. What , Kyungsoo screams internally. “We were just waiting for you to come back so we could start the party.”
“Delightful,” Chanyeol grinds out, taking a hesitant step forward, cups still balanced in one hand. “Closing hours aren’t till five, and no-fighting hours last till I die, so you’re gonna have to wait till then to tango.” Dear god, they’re bantering . Chanyeol, a whole six foot four of floppy saccharine marshmallow, participating in sharp witty hero banter. Kyungsoo would record this if his phone wasn’t ten feet away and also if he wasn’t in fear for his life and wellbeing.
“I’ve been waiting months for this,” Xiumin pouts, straightening up and taking a step forward. “You wouldn’t just cancel our dance without warning a gal like that, would you?”
“I distinctly do not recall RSVP-ing in the first place,” Chanyeol says, voice dry. “And you can’t exactly dance in those shoes. Honestly, did you steal someone’s Balenciagas on the way here?” Chanyeol says, in faint disbelief.
“Why yes! From my boyfriend’s shoe closet.” Xiumin says, brightly. It’s hard to tell if they’re serious or not. “Do me a favour and try not to step on my toes, will you? He loves this pair, it’d be such a shame.”
“I’m going to puke a little in my mouth,” Chanyeol mutters. “Just…..let me put the drinks down, will you? I paid for these and everything.”
Flame engulfing one hand, coffee in the other, Chanyeol walks down the aisle, past the supervillain, up to the counter where Kyungsoo hasn’t moved for the past five minutes.
Kyungsoo fixes him with a glance . Chanyeol winces, mutters. “So, uh, cappuccino, like you asked.”
“You’re gonna have to explain later,” Kyungsoo murmurs back. “I knew already, but now you really have to explain, hm? Also, you didn’t deny boyfriend ?”
The sheer panic in the cape’s eyes truly more than makes up for the stress Kyungsoo’s just had to endure.
Somehow, no one ends up dead, or even slightly damaged.
“Ah yes, those are gorgeous , they’d love those,” Xiumin hums appreciatively. “Yeah, yeah, add those in, will you?”
“Okay,” Kyungsoo says, whispering a little note to coax the pink sweetpea flowers to full bloom, before he snips their slender stems and adds them to the bouquet, with vivid fuchsia foxglove and soft stalks of lavender and azure blue hydrangeas. Chanyeol’s hovering protectively by his side, throwing glares at the villain and looking like if you cracked an egg on his skull it would boil. The greensong is being interpreted by his stupid ass brain as elevator muzak. “What else do you want to convey to your, uh, partners?”
“Well, love’s already on there…” Xiumin hums, thoughtful. “Something in keeping with relationships, I guess? Ones that relate to light or maybe storms, too. White and yellow.”
“Lily-of-the-valley and marigolds, then?” Kyungsoo suggests, gesturing over at the other wall. “First one for sweetness and luck in love, second one for light and positive energy and the sun.” The flowers aren’t the most pleased at having to tolerate this tension in the air, but they perk up under Kyungsoo’s almost-song, attentive and receptive as ever.
“Sounds good to me,” Xiumin chirps. “I think that’ll be all. If you could just wrap this up to go with a nice ribbon, please. We’ve got a vase at home I can put these in.”
“Any color preference,” Kyungsoo asks, walking over and adding the flowers to the bouquet half on autopilot.
“Mm, whatever goes with the arrangement,” Xiumin responds, giving the distinct impression of a grin behind the full face mask.
“ Why haven’t we kicked them out yet,” Chanyeol mutters lowly into Kyungsoo’s ear.
“Because if we do, you’re going to get into another fight and get yourself beat up by the most wanted villain in the damn city, Sunfister . And as long as they’re a paying customer, I’ll sell them their flowers.”
“Do you just like getting my codename wrong on purpose,” Chanyeol mumbles. “I’m still gonna punch them if they try anything.”
“And hopefully it won’t come to that,” Kyungsoo hisses back. “Now go and ring up this order at the till, will you, I need to finish wrapping this up.”
“I’m holding you to that dance you’ve promised, Big Red,” Xiumin says conversationally, elbow propped up on the counter and chin held by one hand, as Chanyeol keeps his eyes steadfastly fixed on the till. “I’ll let you know when and where. Keep your schedule open.”
“I’m really glad you’ve switched to Big Red instead of big boy,” Chanyeol responds, punching in numbers with more than necessary strength. “That nickname really did not sit right at all. That’ll be sixty-one bucks and twelve cents.”
“That’s the whole idea, Baby Red,” Xiumin coos, pulling out a battered black wallet from the pockets of the Supreme hoodie and patting a wad of cash onto the wood surface, right by the fresh claw marks. “Don’t worry, I’ll find you. Keep the change.”
“Please just take your damn flowers and go woo your boyfriends already,” Chanyeol deadpans, holding out the artfully-arranged bouquet of sweet-smelling blooms. “Thanks for nothing, have a nice day.”
“Same to you, Big Red,” Xiumin sings, cradling the bouquet in one arm and waving lazily with the other, strolling out the door without a care in the world. “I’ll see you two lovebirds around.”
The ringing of distorted bells chimes through the shop, and a chorus of relief resounds from all around.
Dusk, painting the sky in warm golden tones, light flooded with flame and the last blaze of the day, the sun splashing the world in its own tones for its descent. The distant cries of seagulls, the discordant honking of traffic, the lilting voices of the trees overhead, the soft melody of the moss and the weeds, sprouting between stone and working their way towards the light; the hymn of Toronto on an early summer’s evening.
“So,” Kyungsoo says, sipping his coffee. Just the right temperature. They’re both sat on a bench just outside of the shop, watching the sun go down, shoulder-to-shoulder and close enough that Kyungsoo can feel the flustered warmth of Chanyeol cloak him fully.
“Like I mentioned earlier. I knew you were hiding something from the beginning. I knew you were probably a cape. You being Sunstrike was just confirming my suspicions.”
Chanyeol hums, nodding around a mouthful of his own drink. “But how’d you know?”
“Chanyeol, you may be a beautiful talented saint, but you’re a shitty liar,” Kyungsoo says, dryly, to the sound of the cape choking. “It wasn’t hard to figure it out.”
Chanyeol ceases his sputtering after a few moments, summoning his grace back up and giving a self-deprecating chuckle. “Guess I should stick to my day job.”
Kyungsoo casts a glance over at him. “About that. Mind explaining the whole hero-to-civvie thing?”
“Well, if you insist,” Chanyeol jokes, “It all started when I was a kid and I set my homework on fire-”
“I don’t mean your origin story, Chanyeol,” Kyungsoo snorts, reaching up to smack his shoulder. “I mean, what made you come here? Why stop cape work for an unpaid gig trailing after my sad green-stained ass?”
Chanyeol bites his lip, looks down, contemplative. “That…Okay, it started when I crashed into your shop that first time.” He sighs, soft. “I felt bad, first of all, that it got out of hand enough that you ‘n your whole shop were caught in the crossfire. And then my bosses at the Protectorate came down on me for being an idiot ‘n going ‘n confronting Mad Ice without calling in backup or getting the go-ahead, and on top of that I was already pretty injured from the fight by the time they managed to pin them down.”
”And then,” he huffs, “Mad Ice Xiumin went and fucking broke their way out of lockup right after I put them in, and I remembered what you’d done to them in that fight - the whole, uh,” he gestures to his own neck, making a clenching motion with one hand, “rose thorn vine strangling thing - which is the coolest fucking thing I’ve ever seen in my life, FYI - and I got worried they’d. Come after you. And I was already benched, so it wasn’t too hard to go 'n get all my certificates and stuff 'n pose as my civilian volunteering self in your shop.”
“But you stuck around for literal months,” Kyungsoo says, a touch incredulous. “Months of just…hanging around, around me of all people.”
“Well, also, I uh. Really like this gig, And, uh.” Chanyeol mumbles. His ears start flushing as he reaches out gently with one hand, placing it over Kyungsoo’s hand. “I should really. Be honest here, now that, uh. Everything’s in the open.”
The place where they touch tingles, heat dancing its way through Kyungsoo’s fingertips, up his arm, rushing giddily through his whole body, to his cheeks. Chanyeol’s lips part, spit-slick and reddened from gnawing, as he sucks in a breath. The last dregs of sunlight spark his red hair ablaze, dark eyes aglow like embers and fixed with trembling certainty on Kyungsoo’s own.
“Kyungsoo. I like you.”
There’s sound around them, Kyungsoo’s sure, but for once, the only thing he can hear is Chanyeol, and the sensation of those three words, coming to rest in his chest. His heartbeat rattles his ribcage, one-two, one-two , like it’s threatening to burst, like New Year fireworks blooming across the night skies of his hometown, glittering and radiant and earth-shaking. He would pinch himself, but his limbs aren't responding to his brain right now.
"I'm not expecting. Uh. For you to reciprocate or anythingbut." A swallow, the bob of an adam's apple, the sudden urge welling up in Kyungsoo's gut to see what that throat would taste like. "I'm prolly gonna hafta go back on active duty soon an'I don't wanna fuck this up but I don't wanna keep lying to you. So, uh. Yeah. You're handsome 'n kind 'n witty 'n amazing 'n so fucking good 'n like a million miles outta my league and. And yeah, uh, surprise," he shrugs, looking away, giving a nervous chuckle. "I like guys. And I've. Felt like this for a while now. I really like you."
A million miles outta -- is he fucking delusional. Kyungsoo's the one who's been pining after this stupid obnoxious perfect motherfucker and fretting and worrying whether or not he liked men all this time and he really thinks-- the florist lets out a hysterical little half-baked snort.
Chanyeol blinks rapidly, trembling, looking distinctly pinned between fight-or-flight instincts. "Was I. Was I reading this wrong. I'm sorry I can just-"
“Yeah,” Kyungsoo croaks back finally, hoarse with emotion, overwhelmed with the surge of it. “Yeah, you were reading it wrong you fucking dumbass , I like you too-” and kisses him, right there and heedless of who might see, the taste of cappuccino and sunflowers and smoke and Chanyeol, grabs the collar of his worn-out band shirt and cups the back of his sweat-sticky neck and drags him into his embrace, greensong a thundering soaring synth-laden triumph roaring in his ears.
Chanyeol kisses back with clumsy but equal fervour, glasses clacking against his nose awkwardly, pressing up close and heated and leaving no room for Kyungsoo to do anything but match him, sucking on his bottom lip and nipping at the corner of his mouth, bringing his arms around Kyungsoo’s waist and palms to rest searingly hot against the base of the florist’s spine. It’s a good thing they’re both sitting, because with how Chanyeol’s legs are quivering they’d have given out if they were standing up. Kyungsoo can barely think, can barely breathe, everything white noise compared to the sound of Chanyeol’s staggered breaths, his mind consumed with the need to keep kissing until the world ends, right here on this bench in the middle of Toronto.
Chanyeol’s the one who pulls back to breathe first, panting hard, lips glossy and wrecked and eyes glazed over, the air around him shimmering with heat-haze. The trees up and down the road sing out a ballad, branches awash with buds and blossoms far out of season, already shedding petals to the breeze in a sweetly-scented drizzle. The dandelions and flowers and weeds peeking through the concrete stand tall and proud now, overgrown beyond their little nooks and crannies to engulf the sidewalk in their tendrils and crawl up the sides of the bench, proudly chorusing and blooming in sprays of red and white and gold, the street sprawling with verdant green. “Wow. So. Uh. You wanna. Dinner?”
“Eloquent,” Kyungsoo snarks, clambering into his lap, tucking his knees on either side of Chanyeol’s thighs and sitting comfortably on his skinny jean-clad thighs. He’s got enough sense left in his melting brain to take off his very askew glasses and pick up the half-empty coffee cup, putting both out of reach so they don’t destroy or knock them over. “Well, you didn’t deny the boyfriends thing just now, did you? I think I'm down for a date if we're going that fast.”
Chanyeol blinks, wide-eyed, slack-jawed. “But. You. Really?”
Kyungsoo laughs, and in lieu of a verbal response, works his hands up the front of the band shirt and leans forward to dive back in for more. Chanyeol seems to get the message pretty clearly after that.
Like most days, Kyungsoo stirs back to wakefulness under the covers to the tune of a grand, theatrical aria, thrumming strong and joyous in the summer sunlight and overly enthusiastic for this time of day. There’s never a need for an alarm clock when you have a cherry tree outside your window to let you know the sun’s up, but it’s a little easier to get up when you’ve got someone to wake up to.
“Fhrghf,” Chanyeol mumbles, muffled by Kyungsoo’s hair.
The younger hums, blindly snuggles closer into the furnace of his boyfriend’s body heat. One long wiry arm is draped over his smaller form, so Kyungsoo wiggles one leg between Chanyeol’s to make it even. “Mornin’ to you too, Solar Uppercut.”
“Wha’time,” comes another half-decipherable mumble. Kyungsoo blinks bleary eyes open to the gold of the morning light, reaches over and fumbles around with one hand for his phone on the bedside table.
“Seven AM,” Kyungsoo mutters. Chanyeol lets out a hoarse groan.
“Yrruurgh. I gotta.” He makes an aborted motion as if to get up with only his head. It's a sign of how whipped Kyungsoo is that he finds it endearing. “Gotta. Ge’ready.”
“No you don’t.” Kyungsoo murmurs back, working one arm around Chanyeol’s slender waist, his knobbly spine digging into his forearm. “Shhhh, it’s Sunday. Only sleep. No heroing for you.”
“Oh,” Chanyeol mumbles, settling back down. “‘Kay.” He plants a sloppy kiss on Kyungsoo’s head, nestles in closer, going limp and content in the other’s embrace. “G’mornin’. L’ve you.”
“Go back to sleep, stupid,” Kyungsoo chuckles, butting his head against the other’s chest, feeling the hero’s heartbeat thump slow and steady, in duet with his own. Every cell in his body is somehow both buzzing and numb all at once, his lungs filled with the taste of warm skin and morning breath and bedsheets, every piece of him drunk on love and singing with it. He'd thought of Chanyeol as a sunflower, but really, Kyungsoo's the heliotropic one in this relationship. Helpless and enthralled and enamoured, a flower always turning his gaze to follow the unsteady footsteps of a blazing all-loving star across the heavens.
The cherry tree keeps crooning out its melody in major scale, and Kyungsoo presses in close to Chanyeol, tender and warm. “Love y’too."