He's in his third year of college and it's been tough having to commute to and from DC to Maryland just to get to class, all the more so when he has 8 AM classes. It's not his fault that he woke up late during enlistment and there were barely any slots left; he blames FIFA. Fast forward to looking for apartments near campus (because living in campus would be terrible and he'd probably be stuck in a broom closet turned subpar room) and realising he couldn't afford the nice ones on a student budget, he opted to look for room rentals. Lo and behold, there he was, moving into a room atop a flower shop and thanking whatever gods there were for the good graces given to him since the room was cheaper than he had expected. Bonus: cute part-timer downstairs who likes humming Marina and the Diamonds songs while arranging flowers.
Second semestre just started and so far Minho's been having a great time not having to wake up at an ungodly hour to get to class, having an option to go home whenever he has long breaks to nap, helping clear his complexion and uplift his mood. He just got home when all of a sudden, from being wide-eyed and smiley, his eyes started watering and next thing he knew he was sneezing all over the place, sniffling and rubbing his nose as he trudged through the room and tried to find out what was causing the sneezing fit.
A few minutes and a lot of sneezes later, he flops on his mattress (he's never needed a bed frame, in his opinion, since it only costs more money) with a box of tissues at hand, trying to figure out what he did and where he went that would've caused this kind of reaction. After another fit of sneezes, he opted to get out of his room, praying that whatever it was it stayed in one place and wouldn't follow him to the coffee shop around the corner.
He was greeted by a soft hum of Froot when he went down, flashing his trademark smile the moment he made eye contact. "Afternoon." He muttered, bringing a tissue to his nose and in an attempt to hide how red it is.
"Hey! Long break?" Replied the cute part-timer he's had a crush on since he moved in, feeling more blessed than ever as said cute part-timer was fixing up the shop.
"Shift. Duh." He scoffed, waving his hand nonchalantly as if the answer was so obvious (it was, but Minho didn't want their little chat to end, despite his trouble keeping all the tissue he's using stuffed in his pockets).
"Oh! Classes after then heading off to dream land."
"Do you ever do homework?"
"When the mood strikes."
God, you're so perfect, he thought, smiling at the boy and completely forgetting about his red nose.
"What's up, Rudolf?" He asked, pointing to his nose.
"Oh!" Minho sighed, covering his nose with a tissue once more. "Allergies."
"Tough luck, babe. Hope you feel better soon, yeah? Got a new truckload of flowers, if you want some. As a get well gift!"
Minho admittedly stopped listening after hearing the word babe escape those luscious lips that are so pink and kissable and--he sighed. Out of sight, out of mind. "Yeah, that'd be great!" He replied, unsure about what they were actually talking about. "I'll go on ahead. Gotta do my homework, unlike some people." He nudged, leaving with his laugh being the last song stuck in his head.
Thankfully, whatever it was that made him sneeze his lungs out didn't follow him out his door. He was able to finish the next day's worth of work and was trudging home with a smile. His smile grew wider when he saw a bouquet of flowers in front of his door, a little sticky note saying 'Get well soon! Hope your nose is ok, you covering your handsome face doesn't do good for anyone. ;)' He wasn't sure if that was the other's attempt at flirting or if it was just a casual thing with him--he was just called babe and the other was quite known for being an extreme platonic flirt.
Sad to say, the smile didn't last long as he was attacked by a flurry of sneezes and felt as though his insides were being forced out of him. Maybe it was the flowers? Though he's never experienced anything like this before and he's been living there for a few months now, so it might not be. But then again, he vaguely remembered cute part-timer talking about a new delivery of flowers--maybe it was that?
The next day his class didn't start until after lunch, which gave him more than enough time to catch cute part-timer humming Obsessions as he walked in the flower shop proper (now as a customer, which was the first time he's ever been one in this shop).
"Did you like the flowers?" Was the first thing he asked, a small pout playing on his lips as he noticed how Minho came in wearing a surgical mask. "I'm guessing that's a no."
"No, no!" Flustered, he banged his fist on the counter, almost hitting the cashier and missing by just a small margin, just to get his attention. "I liked it. Actually, I came by to ask for some more." He was smiling under the face mask, but sadly his trademark smile that was said to have the capability to make everyone in the room melt was covered.
"Really? I arranged that myself, you know. Pretty, right?"
Not as pretty as you, he thought, he merely nodded in reply, not trusting himself to not spout nonsense in front of the boy.
"So what will it be?"
"You said something about new flowers, right? Or did I hear wrong...." Still unsure of what the other had talked about the day before, he was now going through a wave of uncertainty, his pitch gradually lowering and volume barely audible by the time he reached the word wrong.
"Yeah! I put some of those in your bouquet yesterday!"
That solved that problem. It was surely the new flowers now, but he didn't know which one it was. Going around sniffing every flower in the vicinity when he was trying so hard not to sneeze--stiffling sneezes and feeling one's nose itch aftewards has to be the worst form of torture god had ever made possible--and lose any more points. "I loved them! Could you make another for me? I feel as though I'll get better faster with more flowers around the room." He tried to sound as nice as possible, complimenting his arrangements when actually he's analysing the way his eyes crease when he laughs and how his head tilts when he's confused and how his lips are so supple and thin, the perfect cupid's bow framing it beautifully.
It was easy enough to say goodbye after he had paid, running up to his room through a back staircase while he sneezed with every step. Taking off his mask hurriedly, he began to sniff every flower in the bouquet, feeling terrible that he'd disassembled the arrangement the other worked so hard on creating. But what could he do, he wanted to find out the source of his current state and this was how that was going to happen.
The worst part about this was that even if he's taken bucket loads of allergy pills, nothing seems to help. It felt as though every flower in the bouquet made him sneeze and he couldn't identify any one of them as being the source of his downfall. Besides, what would he do after finding out he was allergic to that specific flower? Ask the manager (and to an extent, his lessor) to stop carrying that specific kind of flower? Fat chance of that ever happening.
Great, he thought, sneezing into a ball of tissue in his hands and following it with a groan. I'm never gonna be able to face him again.
A few days later and he's still wearing a surgical mask, exhausted from all the flowers he's been buying and trying to dissect but at least now he's ruled out SOME flowers, but there were probably still a couple of baskets more that had just been delivered and he wanted to cry (his wallet beat him to it).
"As a dog."
"Woof woof." He jested, the way he laughed endearing and welcome (since it meant him throwing his head back and having to grab onto him for support).
"Whatever, Kibum. Can I get my flowers now?"
"Who are you giving them to, honestly?"
"Me, myself, and I."
"Liar, liar, pants on fire!"
"What are you talking about?!"
"No way in hell you're just buying these flowers for yourself when you've practically come every day the week before and now it's Tuesday and you're still here."
Well yeah, I come to see you, but also my allergies are your flowers' fault and help me, he wanted to say, but his rational mind had prevented him from doing so. After mentally high five-ing himself, he tugged down the surgical mask to reveal an almost bright red nose, dry and stinging from all the sniffling he's had to endure. "I promise you I'm not giving it to anyone. Why do you ask, anyway?"
"Nothing." He replied, giving him his change and the newly arranged flowers. Kibum was slightly frowning when he looked at him again, the slight downwards turn of the corners of his mouth not going unnoticed by Minho.
"Hey, will new flowers come in soon?" He asked, attempting to change the subject and not make things awkward between them. He has to stop losing points like this if he's ever going to ask him out.
"No, not really. I mean yeah, we'll restock, but we won't be getting any new breeds. Why?"
"Nothing." It was his turn to frown this time, sighing at his poor knack for figuring out what flower he was allergic to even after a week of trial and error.
It was Thursday now, he knew because today what he was humming was Primadonna, and he still couldn't figure out which flower gave him the type of torture that should not be bestowed to any man. He felt like he was dying, and he probably was, but now he needed to hurry up and figure things out because his budget is thinning and if this continues, so is he.
"Have you given me all of the new flowers?"
"By new, do you mean new breeds? Because yeah, I have. That's all I've been giving you since last week, really."
Wide-eyed, he let out a sigh as he sniffled once more, feeling a sneeze coming and not wanting to startle the boy. Him sneezing, despite the face mask, meant that his points would plummet into the negatives (if it still wasn't there now) and he wouldn't be able to show himself again. It was awful, the way he sneezed. The lack of poise people oftentimes had whenever they did so was multiplied by a hundred when it came to him. Maybe even a thousand.
"It's nothing! Have you given a breed to me twice or have you always been giving me new ones?"
"I've given like four breeds to you thrice already. I can't believe you haven't noticed."
"I'm bad at these things."
"I can tell."
He's strugging to find the right words and now he just wants to let the Earth swallow him whole, end his misery right then and there. That feeling was multiplied by infinity when the moment he opened his mouth, he sneezed. The sound was awful, tone low and having packed a full punch of saliva. Thankfully, his mask was still on and he didn't sneeze on the man in front of him, but still. The way he had contorted as a reflex reaction to his sneezing plus how his sneeze sounded would've put anyone off. But now he was in the presence of his crush, laughing his ass off afterwards, his melodic voice echoing the walls. If the Earth had to swallow him whole, he would've preferred it to be after he stops laughing.
"Are you allergic to flowers?" He asked, noticing how after that first sneeze erupted, a myriad came soon after. He was wiping the edges of his eyes, wet with tears from laughing, when Minho spoke up again.
"I said maybe! I don't know, really. I mean how long have I lived here. This is a first, really."
"So that's why you were asking for new flowers!" He exclaimed, everything finally clicking in place as he falls forward, reaching for Minho's forearm and resting his forehead on his shoulders, still laughing. Minho didn't even care that he was laughing at him by that point, because he was so close and his voice was so nice. He could get used to that--if he was able to, that is.
"Why didn't you just tell me! We could've solved this way earlier."
That was true, but these kinds of ordeals you don't usually ask a crush about, especially when you haven't even taken said crush to dinner. Following him to the back room, he had almost immediately started having a sneeze fit, sighing as he was finally able to stop himself.
"Here's all the new flowers." Despite the beauty of the newly laid out flowers for him, he couldn't help but notice how their shoulders brushed and how warm his hands were whenever he used him for support, fixing the flowers while on squatting on tippy toes, using his arm to balance himself out.
They had tried all of the flowers and none of which gave him a near-death reaction. If it wasn't the flowers, what could it have been?
He went home that night feeling terrible for wasting Kibum's time, but also saving all of the newly stored memories of how endearing Kibum is when he laughs, despite the throw backs and the falling forwards (if only he'd fall for me ike that too) and how his body temperature is higher than average, making him a toastier person that he might let on.
The dawning realisation came to him the next day the moment he entered the flower shop again, sneezing a couple of times by the door, the number of face masks he had used up amounting to nearly 15. He made his way to the counter, the urge to sneeze growing stronger as he exchanged greetings with Kibum, who was humming along to Starring Role.
"Still buying flowers or are you here to see me?" He joked, readying the paper for the bouquet.
"That's it!" He exclaimed, grabbing Kibum by the shoulders and leaning in to sniff his neck. The urge to sneeze swell and he immediately let go, running to a corner to let out a flurry of sneezes before returning to the counter. "I'm allergic to you!"
"Did you change your cologne or anything the past few days?"
He had apologised profusely to Minho, promising to change his cologne and throwing the damned bottle away when he got home. They had exchanged goodbyes smiling, Minho still sniffling under his surgical mask as he continued to wave until the boy was out of sight, but never out of mind.
After a few days, Minho's nose had returned to it's normal shade and he had stopped wearing surgical masks (much to some people's delight, but he didn't care about them). He had finally stood in front of the counter, tall and proud and without a surgical mask, smiling his trademark smile with joy in his heart. Maybe he could gather some points now that he's feeling better.
"Afternoon." Kibum greeted, mirroring the smile and letting his nose scruch up just a tad bit, eyes crinkling as he did so. "You all better? Thank god you don't have to hide your face anymore." He chuckled, gesturing to his general facial area.
"Did you miss my face that much?" He joked back, though the other's answer would still make or break his day.
"It's your only redeeming quality, let's be real here." He replied, still laughing.
"Oh thanks so much. Not only did I suffer under the wrath of your poor choices in colonges, but now I have to be attacked like this?"
"Comes with the package, hon. Can't deal with it?"
"Do I look like I can't?"
"Do you want an honest answer?"
Their little banter had gone on for a while longer, Minho opting to lean on the counter and observe the other's face closer.
"You're cute, I like you." Kibum joked--or well, at least Minho thought it was. Though if it wasn't, that'd be ten times better. Actually, make that a thousand. Or a million. What's bigger than a million? Billion? Trillion!
His mind was casually short circuiting and instead of saying 'Thank you' like his brain had told him to do, he spewed out his usually silent and composed internal monologue. "You're cuter and I like you more."
This made Kibum blush ever so slightly, the chisled cheekbones that could cut diamonds turning a soft shade of pink as he waved his hand nonchalantly to seem unfazed. "Dinner?" He muttered, eyes wavering from Minho to the very interesting stain on the counter that was probably his fault.
"You're paying. After all the torture you put me through, I at least deserve a free meal, yeah?"
Kibum couldn't help but guffaw, grabbing Minho's arms and nestling in the crook of his neck, laughter echoing the shop and filling Minho's entire being with glee. He started laughing along, unsure as to why, but by the time they were done both of them were out of breath with faces just inches away from each other.
"Okay, deal." He replied, sealing it with a soft, chaste kiss before pulling away and moving to grab his coat. Leaving the shop unattended was frowned upon, but the manager was always there (he's always been, just asleep upstairs in the room beside Minho's) and he had shot him a text to come down, receiving an 'K.' as a reply.
Smiling, Minho couldn't believe this was actually happening to him, wondering where he started being treated as an actual person instead of just a creep or The Guy Who Lives Upstairs. Whatever he did, though, he'll make sure to find out later. If this is what happens as a result, he'll have to make sure to do it more often. Maybe next time, he wouldn't be such a drag and pay for his own meal. Maybe next time, he'll pay for his, too. And then surely, those maybes will become as definite as the fact that the sun rises, the sky is blue, and Kim Kibum is the personificaiton of perfection in the flawed universe they were in.