“Lennox, are you up yet?” a voice called down an empty hallway into an occupied bedroom.
A groan responded to the loud drone, a pillow moving over a head, and an alarm clock blaring. It was time to wake up and Lennox Jaleel knew it. He had expected morning to come quickly, though it was his own fault for staying up so late, making different objects for his job. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t seem like much, the trinkets placed neatly on his bedside table, but they had taken weeks to perfect. It was hard for him to be proud, though. Lennox didn’t want good, he wanted perfection.
He could hear his door opening as another groan escaped his lips. “Leave me alone, Max. I’m getting up.”
“Your alarm’s been going off for ten minutes, no you’re not. So, yet again, I’m in here waking you up because you don’t know how to manage your sleep. God, I feel like a parent and I don’t even want kids,” Lennox’s brother and business partner, Max, muttered, helping himself to Lennox’s duvet and pulling it off him, exposing his nearly nude body to the cool air conditioned room.
“For fuck’s sake!” Lennox nearly screeched, fumbling for the covers but failing and falling back. “Fine, I really am up this time. Now can you leave? Please?” He wrapped his arms around himself, shivering when the metal from his arm hit his bare chest. “Dammit!” he growled, dropping his arms by his side and sighing as Max snickered and finally left his bedroom.
Lennox stared at his ceiling for another ten minutes before dragging himself out of bed and into the shower. He went through his morning routine quickly, knowing that if he didn’t, Max would do something horrible on the way to work or during their long shift. So, he tried taming his unruly black hair and brushing his teeth, pulling a sweatshirt over his head and staring at his hands, debating whether or not to wear gloves. Ultimately, he decided to do so, wanting to deal with looking emo over unending questions over whether or not it hurt. He practically ran to his room, throwing on his shoes before moving onto gloves, sliding them over his hands and leaving his room and heading into the kitchen. “What’s for breakfast?” he asked.
“Ah ah ah, you don’t have time for breakfast, Lennox,” Max piped up at the table, crossing his arms over his chest and raising a brow. “I just finished and it’s time to go.”
“Seriously?” Lennox deadpanned with a sigh, but grabbed his things anyhow, knowing there was no arguing with his little brother. What he wanted, he got; that was the way it had always been.
Not five minutes later and they were out the door, going to the car and sliding inside. It was a quick drive to Maximilian’s Flowers and Trinkets, never took more than fifteen minutes, even with heavy traffic, so Lennox didn’t understand Max’s rush until he looked closer at the time. Shit. They were late because of him. Again. As Max drove, Lennox cleared his throat, rolling his eyes upward. “Sorry for making us late again, Max.”
“You should be sorry. This is the fifth time in the past two weeks,” Max responded stiffly, though there was a hint of a smile on his face, as if he reveled in the fact that Lennox was apologizing so sincerely, which was something he rarely ever did. For his siblings, though, Lennox knew he would go to the ends of the world to make sure they were okay.
“Stop being so smug, asshole,” Lennox muttered, turning his head and looking at the scenery flashing by. Doing so calmed him now, though in the past he wouldn’t have even been able to look at a car without feeling sick. He had come far, though didn’t like thinking about it too much, so he shook his head, resting his head in his hand and closing his eyes briefly. When he opened them, they were pulling into the back parking lot for Maximilian’s Flowers and Trinkets.
“Okay, let’s get everything opened up. Put those new trinkets of yours on display in the front since you worked so damn hard on them. I’m sick of you putting your really good stuff in the back when they need to be on display,” Max said, unbuckling his seat-belt and getting out of the car without another word.
“Yes, sir,” Lennox hissed, but got out anyway, doing as Max ordered as they unlocked the doors of the building and went inside. The building was located smack in the middle of the square. The old town hall used to be in their spot, but it had been torn down six years prior and moved elsewhere. Their spot had been called cursed, as most businesses tried and failed to be successful, but Max and Lennox pinned it down to the idiots not knowing how to run a business.
As Max went to the back of the store, Lennox stayed at the front, moving one of his trinkets off the display and placing one of his freshly made ones in it’s place. He took a step back once it was on display and tilted his head, making a face at the trinket before simply turning his back. He knew Max would kill him if he ended up changing his mind, and the last thing he needed was a peeved brother to deal with all day. A sigh made its way past his lips as he walked behind the counter, getting into the safe and grabbing the change he’d need for the day and placing it in the cash register. He then turned toward the back, calling out. “Max! You ready to open?”
“Yeah, go ahead and flip the sign!” he called back.
Lennox did just that, flipping the worn-down sign from Closed to Open and going back to his place behind the counter as Max came out from the back, carrying daisies and roses in his arms. He watched as his brother went over to a glass cabinet and placed the flowers inside, rearranging them as he saw fit before closing the display carefully. He clapped his hands together and smiled. “Perfect.” He turned to the other, green eyes wide. A matching set looked back at him. “Well, what do you think?” he asked.
“Looks good,” Lennox replied.
Max’s shoulders sagged slightly. “That’s what you always say. Give me more than that, you douche.”
Lennox couldn’t help but snicker at Max’s attitude. He’d always been like that, ever since he could remember. He wanted validation on everything he did, though Lennox had a hard time delivering. He couldn’t help the fact that he didn’t know jack shit about flowers, nor that he didn’t actually care about them. “They’re in a… nice order. The white and the red contrast nicely.”
“You have no clue what you’re talking about.”
He rolled his eyes. “Fine, last time I ask you how something is.”
“Don’t tease me like that, Max, you said that last time.” Lennox laughed and ran a hand through his hair, thoroughly messing it up further. “I hope we don’t get anyone today, I just want to work on my trinkets. I had to go to bed last night and didn’t get to finish the last one. We still have scrap here, right?”
“I think so,” Max said quietly, tending to the rest of his flowers.
Lennox went into the back on his side. Half of the back was filled with flowers, the other half old trinkets and scrap metal and gears to work with. Lennox liked giving his objects a flare, he always had when he finally learned from his father how to do so. Ever since then, they moved, screeched, or flew. His most prized possession was a tiny metal bird he had made that flew and chirped. He’d made it when he was only nine and, at the time, swore he would give it to his soulmate, but that had gone out the window, so he kept it on display in the back, secretly hoping he’d never have to put it into the front.
He grabbed a few pieces of scrap and began working silently, his face scrunching up slightly as it always did when Lennox was hard at work. Giving his face muscles a real workout was important to him. As he worked, he could hear the faint ding of a bell followed by Max’s voice. “Hello, and welcome to Maximilian’s! Do you need help with anything or are you just looking around?”
Lennox missed what the customer said as he began hammering two pieces together with a tiny screw. In the grand scheme of things, it probably would’ve been easier to use a screwdriver, but he couldn’t find his, so a hammer would have to do. The noise of metal scrapping against metal was music to Lennox’s ears. Most people, his brother included, hated the sound, but Lennox reveled in it. He was so lost in it, in fact, that he didn’t hear the customer come behind the counter and into the back, clearly missing the sign that warned against people coming into the back.
“Wow, this place is huge,” a voice suddenly piped up, startling Lennox out of his daze and causing him to hit his finger with the hammer.
“Ow! Shit, dammit. Oh hey, you can’t be back here,” he said, bringing his swelling thumb up to his lips and turning to the customer. A man that looked to be about his age stood in front of him. He had short brown hair and an angled face. Lennox would’ve considered him rather attractive if he weren’t breaking one of the store’s only rules.
“Sorry,” he said, backing out, though his eyes caught one of the trinkets on the shelf- a trinket Lennox wasn’t proud of in the slightest. “That butterfly is perfect for what I’m looking for!” he exclaimed, pointing to a dusty old butterfly that didn’t even fly on the shelf. Lennox could have slapped his own face at the idea of selling it.
“That one’s not for sale, but there are tons of other butterflies out there that actually fly. I need to rework the gearing in this one to make it actually work,” Lennox said through his teeth, becoming more and more irked at this man just for staying in the back too long and pointing out one of his many, many flaws.
“I don’t really need one that flies. I’m looking for a gift for my grandmother’s birthday, see, and I don’t think she’d want something that actually flew. Plus, that one looks like an antique,” he said.
Lennox rolled his eyes. “Okay, fine, if I sell this to you will you leave and never come back?”
“Uh, sure?” the man said, tilting his head to the side slightly. “I’ve never heard a businessman talk to customers like that.”
“I’m not a businessman. My brother and I started this place on a whim and we’re lucky it took off. That’s it. That’s the story.” Lennox reached up and grabbed the butterfly, nearly tossing it to the other before he realized it might not be the best idea. “And next time you come into a place of business, open your eyes and actually look at the signs.” Was he being rude? Probably. But he was tired of the same people coming in and out, the idiots of the world putting their grimy fingers on everything. He was just sick of it.
“Fine. Are you going to ring me up then, or do you just expect me to stand here until you’re finished?”
“I’ll ring you up,” Lennox grumbled, pushing past the man and going behind the counter to the cash register. He didn’t miss the look Max gave him when the man followed, it was a mix between ‘oh ho ho’ and ‘dude, what the fuck’. Lennox voted on the latter, because that was exactly how he was feeling as well. He rang up the item before clearing his throat. “That’ll be twenty dollars.”
The man pulled a twenty from his pocket, followed by a five. “Keep the change,” he said, grabbing the butterfly and walking out without another word. Lennox held onto the money for a moment, blinking as he leaned against the cash register heavily.
“Well, I feel like a complete cock,” he said aloud, pushing the twenty into the drawer and sticking the five in his wallet. “Okay, well, I’m going into the back again, Max. Please, for the love of God, don’t let anyone back there again.”
“Hey, I was tending to my flowers and you were tending to your trinkets, we’re both at fault here,” Max said with a shrug, but made his way to the counter and stood behind it, resting his head on a hand. “But I’ll keep watch anyway, just because you want me to and I’m a fantastic brother.”
Lennox rolled his eyes and went to the back once more, continuing his work on the trinket.
By the end of the day, he had two completed trinkets and sweat dripping down his back. Max walked past him, bringing flowers into the back and turning on a mechanism that watered them without any manual labor. Created by Lennox, of course. “Do you need any help, Max? I want to get out of here as fast as possible.”
“You’re not touching my flowers. Go flip the sign or something. By the way, you made three-hundred bucks today.”
“Nice, we can pay the bills with that,” Lennox said with a snort before leaving the back and focusing on flipping the sign. However, before he even reached the door, someone walked in, that old bell dinging once more. Lennox watched as the man from before came back in, his head hanging slightly as he looked through his eyelashes, an expression Lennox couldn’t place on his face. “Uh, you good?”
“I realized something after I left,” he began, turning his arm around and revealing his left wrist. “You’re my soulmate. These were the first words you ever spoke to me and I’m pretty sure I’ve never had anyone else say that to me.”
Lennox’s eyes widened before he put his calm demeanor back on. “No, that’s impossible, I don’t have a soulmate and never will.”
“Leave. I need to close up,” Lennox said, interrupting the other.
The man’s eyebrows furrowed, but he did as Lennox asked anyway and left the building, slamming the door slightly behind him and bringing Max out of the back. “Woah, did something happen?”
“Just a guy claiming that I’m his soulmate,” Lennox said, his chest beginning to tighten, an oh so familiar feeling that he’d gotten more than used to over the years. He pushed out a sigh and crossed his arms over his chest. “Don’t even say anything, Max, I already know what you’re thinking and I don’t care.”
Max held his arms up. “Fine.”
Lennox flipped the sign as he looked out the window, the feeling in his chest only growing stronger. There was no possible way he had a soulmate, he’d lost that chance when he was only eight years old. He was one of the few that one never get one and it was all because of-
No, he wouldn’t think about it, he just wouldn’t. He carded a hand through his hair as he worried his lip between his teeth. Lennox then forced himself to turn from the door, calling out to Max once more. “Are you ready?”
“Yeah man, let’s go home.”