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The Language of the Flowers

Chapter Text

            There he is, Shiro thought dimly as he passed the flower shoppe on his way home from work. In the window adorned with the shoppe’s name, Altean Blooms, stood a college student named Keith Kogane. He was talking to a customer, some girl with his patented uneasy smile on his face, and she could be seen laughing as she touched his hand before pulling away with the flowers in her hand. He looked down at his own while the woman left the business, and Shiro took a deep breath, trying to convince himself to stop being a coward. He was a good looking 23-year-old man, two years wasn’t a huge difference. He could do it.

            He just had to figure out how to unglue his feet from the pavement.


 

 

            Takashi Shirogane was a college graduate from Garrison University, and the top student all year round. He had double majored in both Astrophysics and Mechanical Engineering. He wasn’t all that bad in the brawn department either, able to rep 250 lbs on a good day. Though his new job working as an assistant teacher in the science department wasn’t his goal in life, it was easy to step into the role of a role model. He did his paperwork, he stayed late and helped every student that needed it, and was always there to support those that needed it. The professor he was working with, Allura (nobody knew her last name, but she was always informal with her students, so no one seemed to be bothered), was absolutely stunning, and many of the students had asked both of them if either they were seeing each other, or if they were single. Both of them were, but both of them… fancied their own team.

            Gays.

            They were Gays.

            It wasn’t like Shiro had wanted to flaunt it, but whenever students kept asking him on dates and to “private lessons”, he knew that he had to stop it immediately. When he broke the news, it had all stopped, and Shiro’s pestering seemed to cease.

            That is, except for the late tutoring. Which was why he was walking back from the university, tired as a motherfucker but needing that afternoon cuppa that would get him through grading his late night papers. Pidge knew how to wake him up like nobody else did (three shots of expresso), and he knew that he’d need that in order to actually get any work done that evening. Allura was merciless when it came to getting things done on time.

            He actually hadn’t meant to go into the flower boutique that day about a week ago, but unfortunately he was dead tired, and the coffee place was just one door after the one that led him into a sunny, well-lit business, carnations and lilies and roses lining as far as the eye could see. It was essentially like a greenhouse, and Shiro immediately felt warm from the chilly autumn air as he looked around, not really recognizing where he was until he blinked his eyes open at the sound of a voice calling out, “Welcome to Altean Blooms, how can I help you?”

            “Oh, no.” He started talking as he turned around to the register to the left of the door, raising a hand in polite misunderstanding. “I didn’t mean to-” His hand dropped to his side as he took in the figure standing in front of him.

            “Didn’t mean to what?” He asked with an amused eyebrow raised. Black hair was pulled back into a tiny ponytail, and there seemed to be a hint of dirt smudged on his pale left cheek. Shockingly purple almond eyes blinked at him in slight confusion as Shiro struggled to find the words to continue what he was saying. Though he was short, he certainly did not lack any muscle as he was carrying what looked to be a very heavy flowerpot full of forget-me-nots, putting them down easily before pulling a small bunch out and tilting his head at the blustering college graduate. “Sir? Hello?”

            Oh, right. He was waiting for a response. “Oh, I was going to say that I didn’t mean to uh, come in here.” He shrugged, his suit wrinkling slightly. “The coffee shoppe’s next door.”

            And like that, the look of surprise on the person’s face seemed to deflate, and he looked down. “Oh. Gotcha.”

            “But that doesn’t mean I won’t look around while I’m here, yeah?” Shiro quickly added after the look on the handsome boy’s face became crestfallen. “What flowers do you recommend for brightening up a kitchen? My apartment’s looking a little bit drab.”

            As if he were a flower himself, the boy behind the register perked from his wilted state. Shiro could’ve sworn that if he were a plant, he’d be blooming. “Oh, I really like red carnations!” He said with a crooked smile that made Shiro’s face light up similar to a firetruck. “Especially if you have beige walls, the nice splash of colour will make anything better.” He immediately rushed off to a corner of the shoppe and Shiro barely managed to make out his nametag:

            Keith Kogane

            Fitting.

            Keith returns to Shiro with a bouquet of red carnations in his hands and for a moment it looks as if Keith’s walking down an aisle wearing an apron and dirt on his face, but the image is oddly… adorable. “So I picked out the best ones for you.” He said as he put them down on the register, pushing buttons as Shiro looked at the bright flowers, touching the petals reverently. “And because you’re my first customer, you get half off.”

            Shiro blinked, looking up. “What? Today’s your first day?”

            Keith tilted his head and nodded, an amused look on his face. “You really don’t come here often, do you?” He wraps the flowers in a little bow and hands them to Shiro, who is still quietly reeling from their interaction. “Okay. Your price is $4.45.”

            Shiro dumbly hands over his card and Keith swipes it, giving it back when the money is sent through. “Okay!” He put his hands on the counter, that crooked not quite smile still on his face, as if he were trying to smile normally but it came out as a half smirk-cringe. “Uh, please come again!”

            “Oh, right!” Shiro nodded, bowing his head slightly. “Thanks for the uh-” He hit his head on the chimes on the door as he tried to leave, and the huff of amusement from the cute cashier made Shiro’s face flush even brighter. “For the flowers. I really appreciate them.”

            Keith made a little attempt at a wave. “I’ll know that if you come back to see- buy more flowers. Yeah. Flowers. Come check them out again.” Shiro looked a little surprised as Keith’s eyes slid away from him, but he decided not to say anything about it.

            “Gotcha.” He actually managed to get a wink in as he left the establishment, a light spring in his step than before.

            The carnations looked beautiful in his kitchen window.


 

 

            The chimes of the door sang as he finally pushed the door open again, and he looked around the open space. It was a weekend, and Shiro had decided to come in wearing casual clothes, fitted jeans, black trainers and a graphic t-shirt with a robotic lion stretched across the fabric. He had even added a little bit of eyeliner, and was rubbing his hands together almost nervously as he scanned for the toned florist that was currently squatted next to some potted flowers (hyacinths, he thought to himself; he had spent quite some time studying floriography in an attempt to find something to converse about with his new… crush.), humming a quiet tune. His hair was still up, and Shiro could now see that he had a spattering of freckles across the nape. There was a smudge of dirt across the knob of his lower neck. Curiousity picked at him more than anything, and he carefully leaned over to wipe it off. The reaction of Keith jolting around, seeing him and trying to stand up not only had Shiro falling on his ass, but Keith hitting his head on the shelf just above the hyacinths, making them both swear and curse. “Oh, it’s you-” Keith said with a small hint of a surprise, eyes wide. “Hello again.”

            Shiro struggled to pull himself up, wiping the back of his jeans off with a cough. “Yeah, hey. Ah, Keith, was it?” He let a smile flash across his face, and judging by the flush that spread oh so slowly across the apples of his cheeks, Keith was very pleased that Shiro remembered his name. “I came here to thank you again for those flowers you brought me.”

            “Oh!” Keith seemed to perk again, just like last time, and Shiro wanted to, more than anything, make him a flower crown to wear. It would look just perfect in his ebony hair. “I’m glad you liked them. How are they doing now?” Purple eyes raked down his form and Shiro couldn’t help but feel a bit pink around the ears himself. He knew he was an attractive man, but having it recognized by someone he was pretty sure he was attracted to was more than welcome, especially when he himself was doing the same thing, taking in Keith’s black skinny jeans and red t-shirt underneath his sky blue apron.

            “They’re doing good. I did some research and cut the bottoms of the flowers so they wouldn’t rot and changed the water every few days.” Keith nodded approvingly, and Shiro felt himself relax. “Speaking of, do you recommend any more? I’d just had a friend over, and she was wondering where I got them? I said I would bring her some.”

            Keith blinked at him again. “Why didn’t you just tell her the shoppe name? I’m sure she could have looked it up.”

            Shit, Shiro thought to himself. He’s right. “Well, because I forgot the name of it, but not the area where it was. So, flowers?” He lifted his shoulders in a shrug, and Keith’s uncertain smile had him warming from the outside in all over again. “Anything you suggest for a friend?”

            “Well, a lot of flowers actually have meanings.” Keith looked down at them, a softness in his gaze that Shiro more than wanted focused on him on the plants beneath them. “For instance, the hyacinths are named after a beautiful Greek boy named Hyakinthos.”

            “So, after you then.” The words hadn’t meant to leave Shiro’s head, but when wide lavender eyes focused on him with such surprise and Keith had stopped speaking altogether, gaping like a crimson fish devoid of water, he knew that they did. “I-Sorry.” He winced. “Was that too much?”

            Keith stared at him for a little bit longer before shaking his head quietly, hiding his face in his bangs. But no matter how much hair he had, Shiro could still see the flaming back of his neck. “Uh. For instance, blue hyacinths mean sincerity, Yellow mean Jealousy, and Purple mean mourning.”

            “Hm. I see.” Shiro took a step closer, enjoying how the flush on Keith’s face had only seemed to grow. “What can you tell me about the rest of them? What do the red carnations mean?”

            “The red carnations don’t mean anything, as far as I know.” Keith’s response was quick, and Shiro felt a tinge of disappointment as Keith continued to speak right through it. “But for friendships, I would totally recommend the Alstroemeria.” He pulled up a bright petaled flower, and Shiro vaguely recognized it. “It’s a great friendship statement, be it just one or a whole bouquet of them. I got them for one of the other florists, Hunk, for his birthday. Nearly cried on me so much my apron got soaked.” The last part was a mumble and Shiro couldn’t help but send out a smile again, watching as Keith wrapped them up and looked at Shiro. “Just one bouquet is enough, yes?”

            “Oh, ah, yes.” Technically Allura’s birthday was on Monday, so he could just give them to her then. It wasn’t totally out of the blue. Not at all. “So, do you go to school?” He asked quietly, and Keith nodded.

            “I go to Voltron University to study and become a Mechanical Engineer.” Shiro blinked in surprise, and Keith’s smile became a little bitter. “What, didn’t expect that from some florist like me?” His tone was light, but his smile didn’t reach his eyes and Shiro scrambled to recover.

            “No, I’m just very impressed that you got into Voltron Academy. That’s just as hard to get into as the Garrison.” Keith’s face soured, and Shiro decided that maybe talking about school wasn’t the best thing to do. “But anyway, I’m really impressed that you got in there. Even I couldn’t make it.”

            Keith blinked up at him, eyes wide like an owl again, and that feeling to run his hands through his hair was back. Shiro wanted to so badly, but instead he ran his hand through his own pocket, pulling out his card. Soon his flat was gonna smell like flowers. “Here. And you can throw away the receipt.” When Keith checked him out silently, and he was about to step out of the door (again, with no number from the cute guy), he stopped and turned around. “Also. I uh, also majored in Mechanical engineering. So, uh, if you ever need any help…” He quickly rummaged through his pockets and cursed, looking up at a befuddled florist with his head cocked to the side. “Do you have paper and a pen?”

            “…Yeah.” Keith said, and handed it over. Shiro quickly wrote down his name and his number before handing both items back to Keith, who stared at them as if he were reading a language he didn’t understand. “Why are you being so nice to me?” He asked as an afterthought. Not as an attack, though, but for clear understanding of what was going on.

            Shiro was taken a little aback at the question, but he shrugged. “For the person who was nice to me, you sure don’t act like people are nice to you a lot.” He let another smile beam across his face and it only grew wider as Keith looked down at the paper resolutely. “Don’t hesitate to give me a call if you need help.” He said softly as he opened the door, bouquet in one hand and hope in the other. He hesitated going out the door for a moment before letting it shut behind him, walking home and never looking back, mind going over the looks of the guy he’d finally had the balls to give his number to.

            If he had looked back, however, he would have seen Keith holding the paper so close to his face it was as if he was blind, ‘no way’ going through his mind consistently as the super-hot and nice guy that he’d nonstop been thinking about had just given awkward, anxious, antisocial Keith of all people his number. His number.

            “Holy shit.” He whispered, pressing his face into the paper gently to hide his cheek to cheek smile from the inquisitive flowers surrounding him, as if they could hold his little secret. "Holy Shit."

Chapter Text

            Shiro hadn’t meant to come back to the flower shoppe so soon, but Keith’s lingering shy smile and warm laugh had stayed in his mind, and he knew that he had to see that gorgeous guy again at least once before the weekend grading haze set in. So he stepped into the brightly lit business, brushing the snow out of his hair and pulling down his scarf, cheeks red and rosy from the cold weather. He looked around, but nobody seemed to be manning the counter. “Uh… Hello?” Shiro called out, furrowing his brow as nobody seemed to answer. “Is anyone here?” He took another step forward and nearly jumped out of his skin when a large man suddenly appeared over the top of the counter, cocoa eyes sparkling with amusement and mischief. “Oh, fuck.” He wheezed as the stranger seemed to laugh merrily. He was almost as tall as Shiro himself, missing about half an inch if he had to guess. He wore the sky blue apron that Keith always wore, and he wore yellow under his clothes and an orange headband, as if he were part of some group. “I-uh, is Keith here?” He asked, a slight bit of worry in his voice.

            “So you must be Shiro.” The man rumbled, smiling so brightly Shiro was pretty sure he was the reason the place seemed bright today, pearly whites nearly blinding him. “My name is Hunk, I’m Keith’s coworker. Unfortunately, he’s not here right now, but man, will he wish he was.”

            “I-I’m sorry?” Damn, Shiro couldn’t keep the hope out of his voice as Hunk rounded the corner and clapped him on the back, nearly shoving him forward with the amount of strength he seemed to yield. “Does Keith talk about me?”

            Hunk lifted up a large pot, gesturing with his head to the back door as he began to walk. “Oh, absolutely. Even before he knew your name, he was talking about how you walked in and were ‘so fucking hot, like you don’t even know’. He may look shy and reserved, but around me he absolutely is not.”

            Shiro felt his brow furrow as he went through the door, and his eyes widened. It was as if the business was bigger on the inside, because there was a massive greenhouse resting right behind the actual shop, flowers of all sizes and origins growing in peace in the specially designed building for them. Chrysanthemums and Roses and Lilies and even bonsais had somewhere to grow and thrive, and he couldn’t help but take a moment to spin around with wide eyes as even ivy draped itself over some of the walls, tangling with the bamboo and the mini willows. It was like he was entering a world where he had stepped into a fairy ring and he was in a fantasy world. Hunk seemed completely unfazed as he put the pot down where it was supposed to be and planting a few bulbs, watering the soil and wetting it before pulling away, smiling warmly. “What…” Shiro struggled to find words as warm eyes zeroed in on him. “It’s bigger that I thought it would be.”

            “You’d be surprised how much you can fit into this kind of place.” Hunk smiled. “You know, without the walls and the floors and furniture. We had all of that pulled out for this. Our owner really likes flowers.” Hunk winked. “And their meanings.”

            Which reminded Shiro. “Oh! Can you help me? Keith gave me some flowers the other day- Well, I mean I bought them but he suggested them for me- And he said that they didn’t have a definition, but they do, don’t they?” At Hunk’s nod and grin, he stepped forward, eyes bright. “Okay, so they’re red carnations. What do they mean?”

            Hunk’s whole face changed from a smug grin to pure surprise. “He gave you those?” His eyes flickered over to the flowers around them, and he blinked in what seemed to be shock. “Oh, wow.” Finally his eyes settled back onto Shiro, and he could only sigh as he placed his hand onto Shiro’s shoulder. “Well, I’m not sure I’m allowed to tell you that, but I can tell you what to get him.” He took a step back and beckoned Shiro forward, the assistant professor following closely. “What are your feelings for him?”

            Shiro opened his mouth, but he furrowed his brow, thinking about his answer. Yeah, he had only met Keith like a week ago. That wasn’t… that long ago. How would he even explain his feelings, especially in a language Keith seemed to know by heart. It had to be something special, something unique. Something that didn’t scream marry me, but maybe whispered a question. “Unexplored opportunity.”

            Hunk seemed to consider this for a moment as he turned compost, the muscles in his arms bulging slightly at the work, steam rising from the mound as he turned back to Shiro. “Opportunity, huh? That’s a first. Usually people ask for just love, or lust. Never potential. I like that.” He started walking through the rows of plants, gently tugging some, and kissing others, as if they were his children, that he had loved and raised from infancy. And in a way, Shiro supposed they were. Funny thing about it too, was that the flowers seemed to bend towards him, following him like they were following rays of light. Suddenly Hunk stopped, paused, and turned to the left, where a tiny little bloom dashed with pink and red peeked up at him, and he smiled, happy crinkles on either side of his eyes. He didn’t look old, he must just smile a lot. “This looks perfect.” He said softly, gently scooping one large hand into the soil and bringing up a single tiny flower, putting it into a tiny little pot and turning to give it to Shiro, who stared at the pinkish bud and yellow inside with a strange sense of wonder. “Here. You can leave this here for him and a note too. I’ll make sure he gets it.”

            Shiro’s head snapped up back to the gardener, eyes wide. “Wait, are you sure?” The bloom almost twitched in its pot, but otherwise remained still. “I can pay for it, if you’d like.”

            Hunk grinned, clapping him on the back again. “Nah, we should be fine. Besides, I think that Lance will find it way funnier to see the look on Keith’s face when he gets it. Go on, I gotta feed the plants. There’s paper by the cash register.” He ushered Shiro out of the room before gently letting the door click shut on a world that Shiro had only seen through a keyhole, and then he was back in what seemed to be a slightly darker, but still bright room. But it was almost like nothing else could match that room. He shook his head and walked over to the cash register, seeing the paper and pulling it out, a pen resting by it. He looked at the paper for a while before at the flower that was facing him, a soft but shy look about it. Like potential.

            Dear Keith,

            Hunk recommended me this flower to try and explain myself in a way I think you would appreciate. I would really like it if you used that number I gave you to maybe want to go get some coffee sometime? I understand if this is crossing a line, and if you feel uncomfortable, let me know and I will cease. But I’d like to explore our opportunities together, as long as you want to.

            Sincerely,

            Takashi Shirogane.

            He stared at the paper for a while, eyebrow furrowed and lip bit, but he shook his head. “This should do.” He murmured, folding it in half and placing it next to the flower, writing Keith’s name on it with a warm hum before walking back around the counter and-

            Right into the person of his affection himself, a backpack on his shoulder and a bewildered look on his face. His hair was in a high ponytail this time, and Shiro couldn’t help but smile at the fact that Keith looked a little bit like a teenager. “Oh! Shiro?” Keith’s look of disbelief almost made Shiro laugh out loud, only a little huff making it through his lips. “I was actually planning to call…” His eyes were suddenly pulled over to the flower resting on the counter, and Shiro could almost visibly see the flush rising slowly to Keith’s cheeks as he took in the bud resting on the table, bright pink and red, tiny in size but apparently very large in meaning. “Shiro.” Keith coughed out, and Shiro perked, the shorter man’s ears turning a very, very, very dark red themselves. “Do you even know what that flower means?”

            “Well, you never told me what yours meant, so I think it’s pretty even.” Keith’s eyes snapped up to Shiro’s and the two could hold each other’s gazes for infinity if wanted, but soon they had to break eye contact when Hunk came back through the door. “Hunk.” Keith’s flush still remained, but that innocent reaction was gone, and Hunk’s easy smile dropped, almost with his pot. “What did you say to him.”

            “I what now?” Hunk laughed nervously, raising one hand in a placating fashion. “Hey, hey, now. I didn’t… I don’t…” Hunk chuckled once more before making a mad dash back into the massive green room, Keith rushing to follow him with shouts and curses as Hunk’s laughter echoed through the door, and for a wild moment Shiro desperately wished to join them and their easy relationship. He turned to the door, halfway through putting his scarf over his nose again when a hand clutched his elbow, and he was spun around so fast in the snow that he kept spinning and spinning until he fell, Keith landing right on top of him with an ‘oof!’.

            Shiro took a moment to reorient himself, but when he looked up, Keith was looking down at him, eyes wide and disbelieving. “I uh…” Keith’s cheeks grew red again and he sighed, hiding his face in the front of Shiro’s coat. “Christ. I was gonna call you after work today, but I guess you beat me to the punch.”

            “You’ve had my number for a while now.” Shiro said tentatively, and Keith flumped onto him, nodding with a groan.

            “I’m not good with these things.” Keith mumbled back. “The flowers were a lot more than I’ve ever had the balls to do before, it’s just a little harder to call you and ask you to dinner with me.”

            “Wait.” Shiro lifted his head. “Dinner?”

            Keith looked at him in surprise before groaning, covering his face with his hands as he began to get off of Shiro, slipping and falling on his own butt before laughing nervously. “Oh, uh, yeah. I was gonna say dinner and a movie or something, but again, a little too scared.” He searched Shiro’s eyes for something, but when he apparently didn’t find what he was looking for, he started to pull away.

            “I’d love to go to dinner with you, Keith.” The man in question’s head snapped up so fast that Shiro could hear it with a crack, making him wince a little bit. “Whenever you have time, at your own time, it doesn’t matter. I’d really like to get to know you a little bit better, if that’s alright with you.”

            The stupefied look on Keith’s face really said volumes as Shiro smiled at him and waited patiently for Keith to gather himself, to make sure that he heard what he really heard. When it finally clicked, the raven let out the strangest little laugh before slapping his hand over his mouth, eyes wide. It took another few minutes for him to move his hand off, and instead of trying to articulate, he just nodded, and Shiro laughed. “Alright. Call me when you’re free, okay?” Another nod, and Shiro turned and left, feeling lighter than air, not noticing the smitten look leveled at him from the flower shoppe worker.

Chapter Text

            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.”

Chapter Text

            Keith hadn’t intentionally seen Shiro on his morning flight in the sky on a brisk Tuesday morning. He really hadn’t. He was just enjoying the breeze under his wings, the wind whipping his hair around (though it was ponytailed) and making his cheeks flush a dark red. It had been about a month or two since they had their first date, and things were going fantastically. They went out for ‘donuts’ (“You’ve never had donuts before, Keith?” Shiro had asked him a little bit closer to January. “They’re really good.”) and they went out to a diner where Keith tried many different things like soda and burgers and milkshakes, which Keith quickly learned he couldn’t have. They… did things to his stomach. What was it? Lactose?

            Well. Keith had learned pretty quickly.

            But! The point was, Keith felt like he was on top of the world, and even though Hunk and Lance would mercilessly tease him about it every chance they got, like an overabundance of snapdragons in the greenhouse, Lance teasing him when he was daydreaming at the front counter, and at one point not telling him Shiro was over while he was still asleep and telling him modified stories about his childhood, he could tell that they were very supportive of him and his relationship with a human, something that would be considered scandalous back in the other realm. Keith refused to consider it home, no matter how much he might miss the Crystal Mountains, or Lance might miss Sandcastle City, or Hunk the Eternal woods. No matter if they missed it sometimes, they knew that this would be a far better place for them, because in the human world, winged Nixies could be with abnormally large Brownies, and Shimmerlings like Keith weren’t just seen as shiny little trinkets with thin, weak wings. In the Human world, nobody needed to know what he was, and he was perfectly fine with that.

            In his smaller form, Keith was about four inches tall, so when he flew, unless someone got a really good photo, they couldn’t tell he was anything more than a massive dragonfly. He liked to dip and twirl and swerve in the air, and sometimes even nosedive, when he had the time. The sun looked absolutely beautiful in the crisp morning air, and as his breath bloomed in front of him before he zipped through it, he noticed something… familiar. That something was a patch of white hair, and everything in Keith’s head screeched to an absolute halt when he realized exactly whose hair he almost dive-bombed into. He barely managed to twist out of the way in time and hide behind a brick building before Shiro had turned around, his brows furrowing in confusion. “Was that a dragonfly?” He mumbled, and Keith made sure that his body didn’t glow at all, and didn’t attract any attention. Shiro almost turned towards where Keith was, but with a blink and a gasp, Shiro looked down at his watch. “Ah, shit!” He then quickly turned around and speed walked away.

            Now. Keith wasn’t reckless… mostly. But some could say that he was… over-curious. Which got him into a lot of trouble. But he couldn’t help it, really! Some things were just… too interesting to keep away from.

            Like his boyfriend speed-walking somewhere and Keith not knowing where. His wings fluttered in excitement behind him as he peeked around the corner. “Just following should be fine, right?” He mumbled to himself. “Just… no intervening. Or talking to him. Just watching.” He nodded a few times before pushing off of the wall with a strange sense of determination and with a deep breath, shooting himself into the air, far above the building. He always felt so powerful in the air, so free and independent. But now he has a mission. So with a push of his wings, he hovered over where he could see Shiro walking as fast as he could on the sidewalk. He looked a little frazzled, to be sure. Keith wasn’t sure what time it was, but he knew that whatever Shiro was late for (he kept staring at his watch in rapid intervals) it was important.

            So he zig-zagged in and out of the streets, following Shiro from a safe distance and giggling slightly when Shiro accidentally ran into a pole, apologizing to it, and then realizing it was an inanimate object. What a sweet man. Keith was content to watch him all day, but soon they reached their destination.

            The Garrison.

            Keith felt his mood drop at the school’s visual, but he shook his head. He was already in another good school. Just because this school rejected him because of some stupid favouritism doesn’t mean Shiro’s as bad as the rest of the teachers. But… how was he supposed to get in? The college campus was pristine and their windows were spotless, but how the hell did he get in unnoticed?

            The answer came when something on the roof of the school clattered, and Keith jumped at the sound. A man stepped out of an opening, and Keith’s eyes widened as the man started working on what seemed to be some loose patch on the roof of the building. With a zip and a flash, he managed to get past the worker and down into the hatch, brightening his own glow so he could see down the dark tunnel into the school. He popped out near a ventilation shaft, and then quickly made his way into that before suddenly realizing something very important:

            He had no idea where the fuck he was going.

            His wings fluttered anxiously behind him as he looked between the four openings around him alongside the one above and the one below him. He… really made a mess of things, didn’t he? He hovered a little bit before hearing something scratch slightly at the metal behind him. He didn’t realize exactly how much of a mess he had made until he turned to see a squirrel climbing through the ducts, after him. With a screech of surprise and a yelp, Keith took off in the opposite directions, hearing the chittering and scrabbling of the creature behind him. He couldn’t change back, the ducts were too small and he’d get stuck, so all he could do was try his best to keep moving, which led him from corner to corner to corner until his wings strained with each movement. Shit, this was taking more out of him than he thought it would. It wasn’t until he heard the laughter of humans that he realized there were some dead ends to the left side of himself. If he could just… gain a little bit more speed… With a yell, he pushed even harder, speeding through the vents so fast a thin trailing of his red pixie dust was left. He quickly rounded a corner, made another tight turn, and curled in on himself, trying to hide as best as he could. The skitterings became louder, louder, louder… and then the squirrel rushed past him, screeching into the vents. He couldn’t stop his massive breath of relief, his body practically shaking as he let his head relax in his lap. “I fucking… hate squirrels.” He mumbled, exhausted. He wished he had more flight maneuvering space, but he was lucky that he managed to get away thus far. He waited for a little bit longer before carefully poking his head out, looking around curiously to see if there was anything left of the rodent. Instead of seeing the unpleasant creature that had managed to chase him down the vents to god knows where, he heard the familiar laugh of the very person he was chasing down to begin with. “Shiro?”

            He didn’t hesitate to follow the sound that was very quiet, straining his ears to hear where it was coming from.  He weaved left and right through the ducts before finally, it sounded as if Shiro was right below him. He paused and twisted around before seeing an opening, barred but still a window to an office. Shiro’s office, where the man was sitting in a black chair, paperwork scattered across his desk along with… was that a polaroid of himself? Keith squinted a little bit before immediately blushing. It was Keith, at the flower shop. He was asleep on the desk, his brow furrowed even in sleep. When had he managed to take that photo? Did he come in sometime in secret? No matter the case, he was absolutely sure that Hunk and Lance had let him in to do it. In a chair across from him was a woman with white hair but youthful looks, dressed in a pencil skirt and a pink blouse, black heels making her look every inch a professor. Were they talking about something?

            “…And he’s smart, too, Allura. He’s going into Mechanical Engineering? Good lord. I don’t know how he wasn’t accepted into the garrison, I can’t possibly think of a single reason why.” Shiro leaned forward to rest his head in his arms, groaning loudly into his arms. The woman’s soft sounds of laughter made Shiro lift his head a little bit more. “Don’t make fun of me, I didn’t make fun of you and Matt when you accidentally punched him in the face when he tried to kiss your cheek.”

            “That was one time.” Was her immediate reply, grinning from ear to ear. “And this is the first time I’ve ever seen you so smitten with someone. It’s honestly something I never expected from such a straight laced man such as yourself. It’s almost like you want to get married to him already.” She switched which leg was crossed and looked even more smugly at the groaning man in the chair. “Not only that but you took the time to understand The language of Flowers? Shiro, I demand to be your best man at your wedding.”

            The laugh that left Shiro made Keith decide that maybe sitting down would be better, he didn’t think that he would be leaving the area anytime soon. He hadn’t heard Shiro talk about him when he wasn’t around, and to be more than a little curious was not something outside of his habits. It’s what killed the cat after all.

            “But Allura, the man’s almost magical. Somehow he attracts dragonflies, and snapdragons. It’s fucking magic when I’m with him. I don’t even know how to describe it, but if I could somehow find words, I would say that… It’s just. Perfect. Did you know when I bought those red carnations in my house that those were my first purchase? The first time I talked to him? It was incredible. I didn’t look up the definition of the flowers because I thought he would want it to be a secret, but I couldn’t help it. I’m a weak man.” Shiro sighed a little dreamily, resting his chin in his hand. “They were red. Cherry red. I looked it up, and they meant deep love. Adoration. I don’t know if he meant it like that, but…” His tone turned less incredulously smitten and into something Keith could only hear as loving. “I hope that one day he might.”

            Allura watched her coworker with a little bit of sentiment. “You sound pretty in love already. I’m sure it won’t take him that long to follow. After all, if he’s even a little bit as in love as you are, you two are going to be together for a long, long time.” She leaned over and squeezed his hand before standing up, putting her hair up into a tight bun, a stray strand dangling in her face. “Now enough gossip. I need those papers graded.” Shiro laughed and nodded, pulling them up, and before Allura left, she paused at the door, her grip on the handle loose before she turned back around. “And Shiro?” A pause, before a small smile appeared on her face. “I’m very happy for you. Both of you.” And she clicked the door shut, not waiting for his response.

            Shiro blinked a little owlishly at the remark before absolutely beaming at the door. “Me too.” He mumbled. “Me too.”

            If Keith didn’t managed to come back until about an hour later, cheeks flushed and unable to do much but giggle no matter how worried Hunk sounded, his hair an absolute mess from flying circles in the sky and flying in pure delight, well… Nobody decided to tease him very much that evening.

            Not when everything seemed to be going so perfectly for him.

            And it was.