Steven, for the last few hours, had been in a rushing state of denial. He had been pointing at himself in every reflective surface his house had, reassuringly. “You are not a cliche,” He would say, but the overall straps fallen from his shoulders said otherwise. “Just because you are gay, silver haired, and a nice person doesn’t mean you can’t be a florist. It’s not cliche. You are good at what you do. ”
And yes, he was, but this was also not a bustling business in dreary Seattle. A passion was a passion, his parents supposed. No stopping him now, not after the comments from Mrs. Marmina upstairs on his hanging plants. “Gorgeous work, Mr. Lim! You ever considered working with floral artistry?”
He hadn’t, not until that very moment. And now, twirling his keys around his finger, he felt as prepared as could be. There was no nervousness in his chest, just a bright correctness. Lim didn’t believe in destiny, but he was certain that the stars had aligned just so that he could stand here, name tag shining in the early morning sun. His cat curled between his legs, green eyes staring up at him as he rested his forehead against the wooden entrance.
The sidewalks were nearly empty, just beginning to calm down from the 7 o'clock rush. A bell chimed above his head as he pushed open the storefront door, his new managers head shooting up with a fixed grin. “Steven! Love the socks!”
His bright yellow sunflower socks were, in hindsight, a bit much, but he wasn’t opposed to a bit of ass smooching. Smiling a thanks, he moved behind the counter to properly greet the shorter girl. “I’m Sara,” She said, pointing to herself before spinning to grab the gargantuan man standing nearby. “This is Shane! He cuts the flowers and does delivery. Ryan is our secretary, he works weekdays.” Steven nodded, mentally storing away names for a later day he had yet to foresee. “I assume boss went over the rest with you, so you’ll just be shadowing me for today.”
She went on to explain the lone 2 orders for today - a bridal bouquet and a wedding anniversary for an older couple. Steven couldn’t help the excited buzz in his chest at the thought of finally putting his gift to work, whether it be grunt work or simple advice. Sara was so confident, practically dancing around the workspace as she hollered over her shoulder for various flowers, foams, and snacks. Steven just smiled, dumbfounded at the rustling flowers and sweet breeze that made its rounds throughout the shop. Shane watched him, one eyebrow raised as he meticulously dropped daisy’s into floral foam, tongue slightly poking through his lips.
“Carnations?” He mumbled, choosing to wait rather than look up from his work. A moment later, after nothing had happened, he looked up.
Rather than his new co-workers, a customer stood in the hissing doorway. He was face to face with a rain soaked, honey-haired man, smiling pitifully as Steven dropped everything at once. “Good go- I mean, hi! Lord, is it really that bad out there?”
Honey hair nodded.
“What can I help you with today?” Steven asked, moving to prop himself behind the counter, smile sunny even in the weather outside.
“The uh- wedding anniversary. Not for me! My parents. It should be under James Ilnyckyj,” He said, closing his umbrella as he joined Steven at the counter.
Oh fuck. Oh fuck, he’s cute.
“Yeah, sure just uh-” Steven uselessly gestured behind him, offering a crooked smile “It’s my first day, let me grab Sara.”
He just nodded, smiling sweetly at the obviously flustered boy. “No worries, I have time.”
Noticing the fact that he was horridly shivering, even in the decently warm shop, Steven’s heart clenched. “You want some tea while we wait? I’ll just page her,” Steven mumbled, already turning on the small Staff Only kettle that sat behind him. The yellow cupboards creaked with lack of use, as Steven wrapped his fingers around two matching mugs. He hadn’t bothered to look at the writing.
“Chamomile, peach, green, or earl grey?” Steven asked, turning to face the suddenly rosy man.
“Peach, please,” He said, eyes turning to face the floor. “It’s my favourite.”
It was Steven’s favourite too.
As soon as he’d poured the tea into the cup, Sara emerged with a medium sized bouquet, yellows and purples coming together in a pastel contrast that brought warmth to Steven’s soul. “You have a gift,” Steven whispered, looking down at her as she smiled sheepishly. “It’s not even that good, Steven. No need to get all riled up in front of Andrew.”
“It’s gorgeous, Sara. Thank you,” Andrew whispered, obviously in a bit of shock as he brought his face down to sniff the flowers. Steven watched the interaction with a smile so big it ached.
She glanced between the two of them, her eyes saying something along the lines of I’m not sure which of you is happier, right now.
Sara nodded to them both before heading back through the beaded entryway, whispering something to Shane as she went past.
“Is it alright if I…” Andrew cut himself off as he wrapped his fingers gingerly around the mug in his hand.
“Stay until the rain passes,” Steven said, grabbing his mug as well, elbows resting on the wooden countertop. They ‘ cheers’’ d, laughing at each other as they sipped the steaming drink.
“I like your overalls,” Andrew commented between sips, barely heard over the sound of rain pattering against the window.
Steven bit back the urge to respond with I like your face, instead giggling a “I like your taste in tea. And your sweater, wet as it is.”
“Maybe some music?” Lim continued, already pulling out his phone. It had one of those giant fuzzy cases protecting it. “My taste is weird but… can’t hurt, right?”
“Right,” Andrew responded, casually toeing off a boot in the public space. Steven chose not to comment.
The gentle acoustic plucking began, finally breaking the dam to relaxation; Andrew watching as the taller boys shoulders relaxed back. Lazy smiles were passed back and forth, Andrew thumbing through a small book with one hand. How does he do that.
“So, Andrew,” Steven drawled, his name heavy on his tongue. “What brings you to somewhere so… rainy?”