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The Language of the Flowers

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            Shiro was watching the clock above the entrance to the Botanical Gardens of the city, fidgeting slightly in his black jeans, grey sneakers and purple long sleeved sweater. He had made sure his eyeliner was done to perfect black points at the peaks, and that the slight amount of highlighter dusting his cheeks wasn’t too much to give away his anxiety. In light of Shiro learning Keith’s adoration for flowers, he had suggested to see the largest garden the entire county had to offer. When Keith had paused slightly at the suggestion, Shiro was afraid he might have fucked up, but when Keith shyly accepted, the hesitance and nervousness palpable even through the tiny speakers of his phone, he couldn’t help but smile so brightly Allura gave him a suspicious look and told him to calm down, they were at work.

            And here he was, fifteen minutes early and still feeling anxious that Keith had decided not to come, even though it wasn’t even their due time to meet up yet. People were giving him strange looks, some pitying, and he felt his social anxiety begin to crush in on him when he spotted a familiar haircut in the slight crowd, and everything else seemed to disappear as he waved over the cute guy from the flower shoppe. “Hey!” He semi-yelled, and when Keith got closer, Shiro suddenly felt very, very proud to catch someone as gorgeous as Keith Kogane.

            Shiro had never seen him out of his apron before, but he should definitely do it more often, because Keith looked stunning in red skinny jeans, a loose grey tank top with a budding blue rose on it, and a parka with icy white faux fur around the trim of the hoodie. He seemed to be glowing, too, almost vibrating. He could… he could actually almost hear it too, and he tilted his head with a confused look. “Is that your phone going off? That’s a huge vibration.”

            Immediately the humming noise disappeared and Keith looked like a deer in headlights before nodding quickly and jerkily, a light pink blush rushing over his face and revealing tiny little freckles to the open December air. “I-Yeah.” He mumbled, pulling out his phone with a small daisy sticker on the back. “It’s just Hunk reminding me to have a good time.” He quickly put it back in his pocket, that strange little laugh leaving his mouth once again. “He took my shift for me today so I could come.”

            Shiro raised an eyebrow at the larger man’s kind gesture. “I shouldn’t be surprised. He’s so nice and warm, like he’s made of sunflowers and warmth, yeah?” Keith’s second look of wide eyed shock didn’t go unnoticed either, and Shiro took a step towards him, not moving to touch him in any way. “Hey.” He said softly. “You look nervous. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.”

            “No!” Keith’s immediate response made Shiro jolt as suddenly they were far closer than before, noses almost touching before Keith realized himself and pulled away slightly, a darker pink than before. “I-I mean; this is my first date. Of course I’m a little nervous.” He looked back up at Shiro with a kind of shy eagerness. “Doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it, I’ve just so little experience with this kind of thing. I’m nervous I’ll mess it up somehow.”

            Shiro blinked as he processed the information, unable to believe this adorable guy was on his first date? With Shiro? He’s been blessed by some sort of deity, he knows it. Instead of doing the cheer in his head in public, he just smiles softly, nudging his head towards the entrance of the gardens. “Well, it’ll be an honour to try and set the standards for your dating experiences, yeah?” Keith let a crooked smile appear on his face, nervousness almost calming Shiro. “Come on, I want to go see the Zinnias.”


 

 

            Keith was so. Fucking. Screwed.

            Rule one they always taught you in flight school: Don’t ever go too close to a human. And boy howdy, did he royally fuck that up with a fiery passion. Hunk always said that he wasn’t one to follow the rules, which is why he brought Keith with him to the human world.

            Yeah. Human world.

            Techincally, Keith couldn’t be counted as human. Keith was a fairy.

            Not one of those shitty fairies that all they do is sparkle and flash their nipples at anyone who cared to look (looking at you, fairy ancestors. Looking at you.) but fairies that actually did things, like helped plants grow or scare off predators or build things. And though Keith was the most gifted flier and most talented fairy of the generation, he always failed at one, single, stupid thing:

            Following the fucking rules.

            Like right now, walking through a fucking botanical garden with a sexy, beautiful human named Takashi Shirogane and trying to control the nervousness about being in an unknown environment with unknown flowers and unable to really tell how bad this situation is gonna go. It’s not like he forgot about the talk Hunk gave him after he hung up with Shiro and explained the situation.

            “Keith, what?” Hunk looked up from where he was letting light float out of his palm and onto a small patch of blue starlets, the petals curling into his warmth and energy. “A botanical garden? You know you still haven’t gotten the hang of controlling your growth powers yet. That even took me a long time, and I’m like…” He paused, looking up for a few seconds before back at Keith. “… At least two hundred years older than you!”

            “I know, I know!” Keith let out a huff of annoyance, crossing his arms as he sat on one of the shelves of the greenhouse, pinkish white wings, webbed like dragonflies fluttered behind him, anxiety showing in their movements despite Keith’s words. “But… I think I can handle it, Hunk. I promise. Have a little faith in me?”

            Hunk looked at him with a sort of fondness Keith was still getting used to, everybody from the other realm always staring at him or his wings with disgust, their butterflyesque wings large and majestic, and his so… so small. But somehow he could still fly faster, go farther, and be better, and that had only made his situation worse. “I don’t know, but I’ll let you go on one condition.” He put a single finger up, and Keith perked. “Lance has to go with you.”

            What? “No!” He spat out, ignoring the pained look on Hunk’s face as he accidentally rattled the shelf. “I’m not bringing him with me! He’s a pain in the ass, and you know it!”

            “He is, I will concede.” The Polynesian hummed at the truth of the statement. “BUT- He can control the growth of plants around both him and you. You may be the fastest out there, but he’s the best at controlling the flow of the plants themselves.” He could only laugh as Keith scowled even deeper, knowing that the fact was also indisputable. “I’m sorry, Keith, but Lance and I are your guardians. We can’t let you go without at least something.”

            Keith’s face relaxed from its tense state before slumping forward, hair falling around him like a curtain. “Fine.” He mumbled, closing his eyes and hiding his face in his hands.

            All this for a human.

            And speaking of the waterboy, Lance was hiding in his hoodie in his smallest form, peeking out of the white tufts with blue eyes sparkling. “So this is what their gardens look like.” He said in slight awe, and Keith resisted the urge to look over his shoulder as Shiro looked around, their hands barely brushing. “And yet the flowers aren’t the thing you’re looking at.”

            “Shut up.” he hissed, nearly swallowing his tongue when Shiro turned towards him inquisitively and he barely manages a smile, waving off his hiss like it was nothing. “I ah, I stubbed my toe. It hurt a little bit.”

            “Oh man, are you okay?” Suddenly Shiro was a lot closer, and Keith was also closer to combusting on the spot. “It sounded like it hurt a lot more than you’re letting on, Keith.” A cool metallic hand was placed on his left bicep, and Keith could practically feel the flowers obeying his whims, growing and expanding to the point even Lance had pinched his neck while he kept them mostly at bay. “Keith?”

            Oh, he had expected an answer. “Oh, I uh-” he coughed, smiling at Shiro once again and nearly fucking whimpering at how soft his gaze was, and how sharp his jawline was oh fuck he’s so gay- “I’m fine. I can walk it off.” He promised, and Shiro’s sigh of relief brushed across his cheeks like he was about to be kissed, and Keith let himself close his eyes, almost imagining it-

            When something wrapped tightly around his fingers, which were placed on the side of the concrete. He nearly gave himself whiplash looking over to see what the fuck was going on when he spotted a- no.

            “Lance.” He almost growled, hearing the snickering behind his neck.

            “It suits you, dragonfly.” He giggled back, and Keith tried to yank his hand away from the red snapdragon blooming and tied to his wrist, the petals growing fuller and brighter in seconds, and Keith’s embarrassment was not doing anything to stop it until Shiro had turned back around, and in a moment of instinctive movement, Keith yanked his hand off the concrete and presented the flower to Shiro, silver eyes widening to the size of plates.

            “This is for you!” Keith said a little too loudly, voice cracking as he hid his face in the side of his jacket, Lance positively howling with laughter behind him. He was so going to fucking punch the shit when they got back. “It’s-ah. A snapdragon? It represents uh. Grace and strength.”

            “Don’t forget that deviousness, and that red ones mean ‘burning love’, lover boy.” Lance teased mercilessly, and Keith was already trying to figure out how to bend his neck back and crush the fairy residing in his coat while not looking like he needed an Exorcist here six minutes ago. Instead, he just tried to let another smile appear on his face before realizing that Shiro was red.

            Shiro was very red.

            “Shiro?” The taller man’s head snapped up at the sound of his name being called, and he looked away quickly, biting his lip. Keith wanted to contribute to the cause, but knew he had to ask before doing it. “Hey, are you okay?”

            “Uh. Yeah. I’m just.” The mumbled voice of the older man made Keith’s worry stretch out even longer until their eyes met once again. “I love snapdragons. I don’t know how you knew that. They’re my favourite.”

            Keith paused. Blinked. Tried to get the stupefied look off his face, but failed. “I-What?” Even Lance was silent, unable to figure out any words to snark him with. “Really?”

            “Yeah.” Shiro took a step forward before leaning down and smelling them so softly, Keith’s blush came right back. “My oba-san, where she used to live there were so many of these, and more than that, there were a lot of dragonflies. I always thought they were so pretty, I used to chase after them as fast as I could, trying to catch one just to hold it and let it go.” He seemed lost in his own memories as he stroked the petals. “Her home was one of my favourite memories, because she lived so far out that snapdragons and dragonflies were as far as the eye could see, and it was like a wonderland.” He looked back at Keith, who was staring stupidly at Shiro, eyes wide and breath caught in his throat.

            “Yeah, butterflies are pretty great, but I think dragonflies are far more elegant and unique.” A sly smile stretched across Shiro’s face, and Keith was ready to mcfucking die. “And speaking of, there’s one in your hair.”

            Keith nearly startled away from how close Shiro suddenly got but a hand gently rested on his waist, a silent plea to stay close, which he couldn’t help but obey. Shiro’s forehead rested on Keith’s and there was no fucking way on this realm that Shiro couldn’t feel his wings humming where they were imprinted into his skin, dying to get out and revel in the excitement that Shiro likes Dragonflies. Shiro likes Dragonflies.

            Shiro likes Keith.

            “I-Ah.” Keith said so eloquently Socrates would applaud him, but he had no time for that as Shiro gently placed his prosthetic hand on Keith’s cheek, rubbing the thumb over the bone before asking oh so softly in a voice that made Keith’s heart stop:

            “Can I kiss you?”

            Oh my god. Oh. Oh my fucking god??? What??? Keith’s whole brain short circuited, and he gaped like a fish for a moment before a sharp pinch to the back of the neck made him focus, and Lance’s voice, smug as can be, said, “Kiss him, you fool!”

            And when Keith let a tiny nod bounce his head, that was all Shiro needed to close the gap, eyes closing against Keith’s wide eyed ones as soft lips pressed against his own, nearly lighting his entire body on fire. Fireworks exploded behind his eyelids, galaxies burst into creation, and Keith, for the first time in his life, was satisfied with where he was now, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around Shiro’s neck, kissing back as much as he knew how, meaning not at all. But he tried, with passion, and that seemed to do the trick.

            Keith almost didn’t hear the cough by his ear until it was fucking bit, and Keith managed to pull back and not look like a crazy maniac. Shiro’s face was flushed, and his cheeks were slightly pink. Either from the cold or from him, Keith liked it. He was sure that he looked the same, Lips swollen and tongue tied.

            “Hey! Listen!” Lance’s annoying voice rang in his ear as Keith tried to enjoy the moment, and before he could snap something back, “Look up.”

            When he did, he blinked so rapidly it was like he was a strobe light. A giant, massive amount of mistletoe grew out of the tree they were standing under, making the branch heavy with its weight. Mortification rushed over him quickly followed by the fear that Shiro would see it and-

            “Wow, when did that get there?” Shiro hummed thoughtfully, and Keith was… dumbstruck once again. “These plants sure do grow fast. I wonder what kind of fertilizer they use?”

            The two fae paused for a moment, before another snicker could be heard. “You’re dating someone who’s oblivious as fuck. No wonder he likes you.”

            Keith couldn’t let that one comment go and quickly smacked the side of the hoodie so hard a yelp of pain could be heard, and Shiro turned around. “What was that?”

            “I’m not sure.” Keith responded sweetly, taking Shiro’s hand and bringing the snapdragon towards the other. “But this is for you. Keep it, since you like it so much.”

            Shiro’s face pinkened, and Keith could find himself liking that more than he intended to let on. “I-ah, thanks.” He gently pulled on it, but paused when it didn’t seem to budge. He pulled again.

            And again.

            And again, so hard that Keith nearly whimpered in pain. What the fuck?

            “You’re such an asshole, Keith!” Lance whined in his ear, and murder immediately coursed through his veins. Of fucking course. “That was so mean. So I hope you like being tied to a snapdragon forever, because I’m not undoing this.”

            Keith nearly retorted, but he blinked, realizing that he could… sort of… do it, but he just needed Shiro distracted. “Shiro?” Keith asked softly, making the man perk up like an adorable husky. “Um. Can you get me some water?” He lowered his eyes, black lashes resting delicately on his cheekbones. “I’m thirsty.”

            “Yeah, of course. I’ll be right back.” Shiro nodded, kissing Keith’s forehead and causing them both to flush before Shiro walked away, hand in pocket and ears burning. Keith sighed dreamily, resting his hand on his face before blinking, remembering that he sent Shiro on an errand for a reason. He closed his eyes and gently put one hand above the snapdragon infested one, breathing in and out slowly. He imagined the vines loosening, releasing his hand and sitting in Shiro’s, not grabby at all. There was a warm feeling in his wrist as slowly, slowly, the flower released him and rested peacefully in his hand. “There.”

            “You did a good job, Keef!” Lance’s voice was back as he sat on Keith’s shoulder, nearly falling backwards as one angry purple eye focused on him. “What? It was a test, and you did well! I think that you’ll be fine without me with you now, you know? I’ll try to talk to Hunk about it when we get back.” Keith was surprised at the sudden bout of maturity and sincerity from the water fairy until his eyes lidded and he wiggled his eyebrows. “How I plan to convince him, however, should be kept between the two of us.”

            “And by the two of us I hope you mean just you and Hunk, because honestly? I don’t wanna know. Now or ever.” He crinkled his nose slightly, and Lance laughed a little bit before slipping back into the hood of his parka as Shiro came back with two waters.

            “Oh, you got it off!” Shiro smiled brightly, and Keith nodded, handing him the flower in exchange for the water, taking a sip and humming quietly as they sat down on a bench, Shiro’s hand slowly and carefully finding his. “I’m glad you came with me today, Keith.” Shiro’s voice was soft, slightly nervous, and Keith couldn’t help but hum warmly.

            “I am too.”