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Bright and Green

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It’s...kind of stupid. If Ezekiel lets himself think about it. It doesn’t accomplish much, and on bad weeks, it can make him feel worse.

(When he’s feeling kinder to himself though, he remembers that they make him smile, and that’s hardly stupid, given how few things do.)

He doesn’t remember how he started it. He thinks maybe there was a little set up on a corner, selling them in little painted pots. Or maybe it was the cart of throw-aways outside the that big box store. Or maybe it was even that one time his ‘neighbor’s’ grandkids were being...well, kids, and forgot about their grandma’s balcony collection.

He doesn’t remember which came first.

But it so quickly became a thing, that it doesn’t really much matter what came first.

He never kept too many of them in one spot. Too many apartments - safe houses, drop spots, hideaways - too little time. But, if he was going to stick around a spot for a little while, he saw no harm in picking one or two - or three - up. Especially if the place was one he could see himself coming back to.

He never had a green thumb, and he learned pretty quickly, not all plants are created equal. It took a bit of trial and error - that might have been mitigated if he’d actually, you know, looked up any of what he was doing, but, nah, who had time for that? - but eventually, he found a fondness for certain ones. He liked succulents - bright green things, hardy but weird and pretty - and cacti - just as hardy, just as green, a little more obviously on the ‘don’t touch me’ side of things. He figured out which he could get away with leaving for days if not weeks at a time. Figured out where to put them in whatever hidey-hole he was staying at so that while he was gone they’d get just enough light.

He slowly learned which to put in the places he’d visit the most, which he was okay to leave alone for a little longer.

A couple forced him to actually meet the neighbors, see if they could stop by every once in awhile to water them.

He...doesn’t know why, though.

(Except he does. But no one likes admitting that they’re so starved for a home, for something to come home to, that they’ll turn to even the smallest of things. Especially when that feeling is so sharp, so bright, but so, so quick to come and go.)

It’s ridiculous, honestly. Ezekiel knows that.

Knows that, when he makes it to a beat up old apartment in a building that should probably have been condemned in the fifties, the smile he gets when he sees the corner he picked out still green and bright - and maybe a little bleached, on the tips, whoops, time to move them - is a little goofy.

Knows that, when he gets back to the condo on the beach that was built last year and has stood empty beyond the too-expensive furniture and the occasional housekeeper, the bone-weary sigh he lets out in the face of shriveled and dusty stalks and pots, is perhaps too much.

But they’re his. They keep him coming back to certain places, keep him attached in a way he can’t afford, and yet can’t not.

When the whole...thing with the Library starts, he doesn’t even think about bringing his plants anywhere near it. He still has his bolt holes, his safe houses. He’s not giving them up anytime soon.

In fact, with the Back Door? He makes a few more. Sets up a few more bright green corners. Lets himself pick the plants he remembered having to pass on because they required too much water, too much attention. Lets himself go bigger, better, in a couple places. Not too many. Just in case.

Jenkins notices of course. But after the whole thing with the Apple...Ezekiel doesn’t much mind. Especially not when, when he comes tumbling back through the Back Door, tired and worn, and more upset over a dumb jade plant than it probably deserved- No, no, fuck that, he’d loved that thing, it was big and bright, and always made him smile when he came back to it. And a storm had broken the window it had been beside, letting in enough water to flood it within a day…

Jenkins helped him fix it. Helped him save what he could and replant it. The dumb thing now stands tall and proud in a cleared corner in Jenkins’ lab, and Ezekiel can’t help but smile everytime he sees it.

But he still doesn’t bring any others to the Library.

He doesn’t think about it.

Doesn’t think about the fact that, over the past couple of months, he’s been slowly but surely moving his plants to his apartment in Portland.

Doesn’t think about the fact that he’s running out of room. The window sills are covered, the shelves only have enough space to let things grow over, and the kitchen bar is a lost cause.

Doesn’t think about the fact that he has a place to come home to every night, and that it’s green, and bright, and...and…

He doesn’t think about it.

He’s starting to think he probably should’ve thought about it, when he catches himself on his way to Jacob’s, a little lola in a painted pot in hand, because he’d thought it’d look nice on the cowboy’s windowsill in his bedroom.

But all Jacob does is smile that goofy grin of his that he gets whenever Ezekiel does something he doesn’t expect- well, no that’s not right. Expect is...a heavy word. Jacob doesn’t expect anything out of Ezekiel, but is happy to with everything he gets. Is surprised by everything he gets. And Ezekiel’s...never had that. Never had that lack of expectation, that lack of...of heaviness. Never had, instead, that light, bubbly feeling, that comes from knowing you made someone’s day just by being there, because they’d never make you be there.

It’s a heady thing.

It’s probably why he just kisses that goofy grin away and puts the little pot right where he planned to. And it looks great, just like he thought it would.

Neither of them talk about the fact that, slowly but surely, Ezekiel’s plants are making another move. Into Jacob’s place this time. Taking over space not already taken up by books. Taking over tables that don’t already have Ezekiel’s gadgets and lockpicks.

It’s bright, and green, and...homey. And they don’t talk about it.

But they both smile about it.

Their first fight is over another damn jade plant.

It’s stupid. It’s so, so stupid. And its over as quickly as it started.

Jacob had been trying to help. But he had even less of a green thumb than Ezekiel did. The poor thing was drowning.

When the fight’s over - when the yelling’s done, when Jacob’s helped Ezekiel repot what they can, when they’ve both apologized for the mess...Ezekiel curls up beside him on the couch, surrounded by green and bright and home, and starts talking.

Looking back, he’s pretty sure it was a little painted pot that started all this. A little cart on the corner, selling lolas in little painted pots that he’d thought would look nice on the window sill of the safe house he was staying at for a month.

He’d been right then too.