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in full bloom

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There’s never been a busy day, at the flower shop. Akira’s dealt with fussy customers, the perfectionists who think they can do his job better than he can, the clueless wanderers with no idea what they actually want. When any of those show up, occasionally they’ll see a line forming, 3 or 4 customers long. Akira never works weekends, but it seems reasonable that it would pick up then.

What feels less reasonable, is when Akira’s cleaning the back room on a Tuesday afternoon and hears his boss call for him in dire distress, only to rush out and find a crowd of high school girls swarming near the front of the shop. They can’t all be customers, can they? It seems pretty unlikely, what with there being no nearing romantic holidays, no sales to appeal to the masses, and more prominently, the way they’re all crowding around the one Akira can only assume is the only real customer among them. At first he can’t make out who it is, though he has a good enough guess given the crowd, and that guess is only confirmed when the person in question clears their throat and a few of the girls surrounding them shuffle to his sides, clearing the space in front of him. A flustered but smiling Goro Akechi steps out of the crowd, clutching his briefcase a bit more tightly than usual, if Akira’s assessing accurately, and immediately, Akira feels himself grinning.

He tries not to show it, but he feels a bit smug, seeing Akechi outside his natural habitat. He seems so sure most of the time – cocky even – but whenever Akira catches him off-guard or alone, he gets these glimpses at something more real, more unsure. He likes those short glimpses, and that’s why he finds it so endearing when Akechi just about trips over his own shoes trying to escape the fangirls who’ve followed him over, and the shy smile he extends once he reaches the counter appears so much more genuine than the one he shows on TV.

“What’ll it be?” Akira asks, familiarity extended but not acknowledged, and Akechi seems to take quick note of that teetering, straightening his back and smiling until his eyes close with it.

“That is a fair question,” Akechi says brightly, and loud enough for all of them to hear, a hesitant gloved finger scratching his cheek. But he lowers his head after that, eyes still closed and forehead tipped forward, hushing his voice so only Akira can hear. “It appears they’ve trapped me in a corner here,” he chuckles. “But I can’t be seen buying such a traditionally romantic gift. Who knows what kind of rumors could get started?”

This question piques Akira’s attention; it’s rhetorical, sure, but the answers interest him just as much as the question itself, and he pays no mind to the sharp look he gets from his boss when he crosses his arms and leans his elbows over the counter, forehead tipped to mirror Akechi’s. “Afraid your fans will abandon you if they find out you’re taken?”

It makes Akechi laugh – really laugh, enough that he mimics Akira’s pose in his own way, resting his chin on his fist and meeting his eye line with a casual wink, explaining, “I think their hearts feel at ease believing they could be the girl I love most.”

“Girl, huh?” Akira raises an eyebrow. He looks over Akechi’s shoulder, at the girls still chattering and glancing their way every few seconds, and back at Akechi. “Would you feel better if they weren’t following you?” Akechi nods, guilty, wordless.

That’s enough, and Akira does have some inexplicable weakness for that face, even if the words that come out of it aren’t quite as charming as his smile has a tendency to be. With a held up finger signaling Akechi to wait, Akira shuffles through the flowers behind him, intricately putting together a bouquet as fast as his fingers will allow him. A simple but unorthodox mix of white camellia and calystegia, and one single carnation placed in the center of them; it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing bouquet he’s put together, but that’s neither his concern nor his goal, and he places the bouquet in Akechi’s hands with one hand already reaching for his shoulder.

“Thank you, but I didn’t order this--” Akechi starts, his act kept on for the whispering audience lingering behind him, but Akira’s already too far in, using Akechi’s lean over the counter to his own advantage and leaning in for a kiss on his cheek.

“I know,” he smirks. “They’re from me.”

Akira leaves Akechi’s stunned face behind him, half-bowing his head towards the silenced group of girls now staring, eyes wide and bodies frozen in place.

“Sorry,” he grins unconvincingly, rubbing the back of his neck and shrugging. “Akechi’s here to see me, so if you don’t mind...” His neck flicks towards the entrance, an obvious signal of the exact direction he’d like them all to take, but he plays it off with a rub of his hand against his sore muscles to give him plausible deniability.

It takes a moment, and their mutters and whines of disbelief and disappointment ring in the air for just a few seconds longer than they’re still in the shop, but as soon as Akira watches the last of them disappear from sight, he settles back across from Akechi, leaning on his elbow across the counter.

“That did the trick,” Akira smiles, but Akechi pointedly clears his throat into his hand and stands up straight, back stiff and ears red.

“Every time I manage to recover from one of your surprises, you hurl me another one to throw me off my guard once again,” Akechi hums in thought. “I have to wonder if you’re doing it on purpose.”

“Only sometimes,” Akira grins, teeth showing this time, and politely sidesteps to apologize to his boss for the disturbance – even though, Akira would maintain that none of it was exactly his fault. Akechi lingering behind even after their moment has passed is no surprise to him, but Akira finds himself on the receiving end of his own surprise, when he catches the detective taking a long, closed-eye sniff of the bouquet of flowers, tip of nose resting against the petals with a serene expression on his face. It’s difficult to resist the sight, so Akira doesn’t dare interrupt him, resting both his elbows on the counter and his chin on top of his knuckles and watching – silently.

“Hm- Oh!” Akechi steps back when he finally breaks free from his spell, surprise returning to his face once again as soon as his eyes meet Akira’s, unexpectedly close. “Do I have something on my face?”

“Probably,” Akira teases, fingers sifting through the flowers and straightening out some petals that had shifted out of place. “You looked pretty like that. Do you have a scent fetish or something? I’ve seen you sniff your coffee like that too.”

Akechi takes another step back, at that, and whether it be intentional or unconscious, Akira notices the way Akechi’s grip tightens around the handle, free hand dipping into his pocket and voice unexpectedly stuttering. “H-how much do I owe you for the bouquet?”

“I said it was from me, didn’t I?” Akira shakes his head, eyeing the other curiously. “Have a good day, Akechi. Beware of fangirls if you’re walking home.”

He offers a nod, but without much more acknowledgment, Akira goes back to work, but he does feel a particularly warm wave of satisfaction, watching Akechi continue to sniff at his bouquet even as he walks away.

As far as Akira knows, that’s the end of it, but he soon discovers how wrong he was, when he returns home to LeBlanc that night, to find Akechi occupying his usual seat, notably far less brooding than he typically is when Akira finds him waiting here.

“...’m home,” Akira mutters, hands in his pockets, even as he slides into the chair next to Akechi at the bar. Even Sojiro raises his eyebrows at that, but almost too conveniently, he says no word about it, wiping down the area behind the bar and disappearing into the back room with a lazy request for Akira to be on watch for customers.

Not that it matters. It’s just before closing time already, and even Akechi should have left already, and yet--

“Welcome home,” Akechi says quietly, making use of how closely Akira had decided to sit to him, for once. “I was in the mood for a good cup of coffee, after seeing you.”

“After seeing me?” Akira asks, feigning that forgetfulness. “Oh, right. Did you get away without any more problems?”

“Yes, thank you,” Akechi nods, taking a sip from his coffee, and Akira’s eyes run over Akechi’s bare hands wrapped tightly around his cup. However pointless, he wonders where he gloves went. “I have every intention to repay you, or at least properly thank you, for rescuing me. Though I will admit --” Akechi touches his cheek, fingertips brushing over the spot where Akira had left a kiss. “You have rather unorthodox ideas for jokes, do you not?”

Akira finds a confusing comfort, in how easily his mind drifts again, eyes following Akechi’s fingers against his cheek and the way his eyelids hover, barely open whenever he smiles hard enough. It’s difficult not to stare. But just as difficult, is resisting the urge to mess with him.

“Oh,” Akira puts on an act. “You thought it was a joke? I see...”

Akechi’s eyes brighten at that, though his mouth tightly closes, hands resting and setting his coffee back down, fingers slowly sliding away from the plate beneath it and towards his bag. “You’re saying it wasn’t? Then, could it be...”

Akira almost stops him, even gets to the point of smiling and reaching out to interrupt, but it’s then that he notices, the bouquet of flowers he’d crafted specifically for Akechi in a proper vase at the corner of the bar, next to the rest of Akechi’s things. Interesting, he thinks. Interesting enough to have Akira immediately shutting his mouth.

“I don’t believe you’d be the type to do anything without reason, especially when it concerns something you’d qualify as a duty… I mean your flower shop job, of course.” It’s then that Akechi pulls out a book from his bag, a library bookmark with hand-written notes emerging from between the pages, and the title reads, ‘The Language Of Flowers.’ Akira’s almost impressed, but Akechi hasn’t finished, clearing his throat before reading aloud from his notes, “White camellia, calystegia, and that carnation. I looked up these three flowers, to see if I could gain any insight into how you think of me. But upon finding my answers, I thought for sure you were playing a joke on me as well as those girls.”

“What makes you think that?” Akira rubs his neck.

“Well,” Akechi crosses one leg over the other, tracing a finger down the page where his notes are written, tapping on one line in particular. “Waiting and anticipation, willful promises, fascination and love… Could there have been genuine thought put into these? Were they part of the act? Or perhaps, were these flowers chosen at random? Hm, I spent a short while debating each of those possibilities and still found myself without answers.”

“I take flowers very seriously,” Akira says flatly, standing up all the way and moving to straighten up a few things around the shop.

Akechi lowers his head, and all he can do is laugh at first, but his mind wanders as soon as he gives it a chance. “Waiting and anticipation… What exactly is it that you’re anticipating?” Akechi wonders aloud, but as he turns his head around to look for Akira, he’s sliding right into place behind him, arm wrapped around his chair and face hovering close.

“This?” Akira shrugs, the perfect forewarning as far as he’s concerned, and he delivers a second kiss to Akechi’s face, this time right for the bull’s-eye, gentle on Akechi’s soft lips. He instantly deems it worth every step, when Akechi gasps, and after Akira pulls away, he savors the familiar serene expression on Akechi’s face.

“Oh...” Is all Akechi manages, treating himself to a deep breath with an even longer exhale, before he blinks open his eyes and attempts to lift his coffee again, giving up as soon as he realizes his hands are trembling. “I t-take this to mean you aren’t the type to worry about any rumors...”

“Are you?” Akira slides a hand over Akechi’s, thumb rubbing the back of his knuckles until he hears that heavily anticipated gasp and subsequent contented sigh from Akechi’s lips again.

“Not this one.”