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Retail Romance

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Johnny doesn’t know her name. He only knows she’s the cute girl who works at the Hot Topic across from his Journeys. She’s always dressed to impress, her outfits ranging in color and style. One day she’s dressed in a sweater with soft colors, something comfy to move around in. The next day, she has on tight jeans with a cropped shirt that shows off her figure more. The feeling is something akin to whiplash, but he always looks over his shoulder as he crouches down to turn the key and unlock the gate.

“She’s late,” he murmurs, though the thought is quickly shaken as his hourly associate finally walks up while stifling a yawn.

And it’s as he holds open the gate to cross under that he sees her, damn near dropping it on himself in the process. Maybe it’s because she was wearing a Rangers jersey today. Did she see him wearing his last week? He doubts it. But he does notice that there isn’t a large cup of coffee in her hand. She seems frazzled. But time is ticking away, and he has to finally tear his gaze away from her for awhile.

 

~*~

 

You roll your eyes as your pen tap, tap, taps against the counter. You’ve just barely been missing your segments by a little here or there. It’s really annoying because you just know you’ll be questioned about why you’re not on your game today. And to be honest, it’s his fault. The cute boy from Journeys. Johnny. You didn’t know his name until about two-ish weeks ago thanks to your lovely keyholder who had to get a new pair of running shoes that week. And since there’s now a name to the face, it’s harder for you to push the thoughts of him out of your head. 

Looking up from your clipboard finally, he isn’t that hard to spot. He’s layering his clothes again, and you can spot that denim button down over his underground band tee. Matched them with some black denim and a beanie hiding his messy hair. God he’s always a sight to behold. A sigh leaves your lips as you watch him help a guy looking at some shoes. After all, you could always use a new pair of Vans.

“You’re staring again.”

Turning your head, Miranda is crouched down fixing some shirts just to your left.

“And your point? He’s nice to look at,” you counter.

“Are you gonna ask for his number yet? You can’t keep chickening out.”

And at that point, you can’t help but scoff. A man that perfect-looking must have a girlfriend. Or at least get several numbers every week. You didn’t want to be one of them. He had to earn it. Or give you his first. But then again, that would mean a conversation that lasted more than the quick morning wave and “hello” across the hall when the both of you opened. As you look over across the sway once the crowds of people thinned a little, you almost swear you saw him looking over this way. Must be your imagination.

 

~*~

 

Since he decided he’s really doing this today, he internally curses himself for not taking the time to run a comb through his hair this morning. But there’s nothing that shoving a beanie on his head won’t fix. It’ll even help with the whole relaxed vibe that Johnny likes to portray at work. He pulls his phone out of the pocket of his joggers. He gets to leave pretty soon, and he’d be damned if he chickens out on just walking across the hall and talking to Space Buns today.

“Hey, go ahead and get out of here.” Johnny looks over to see Mark walking over from the back room from his lunch break. “You’ve been looking at your phone all day. Anything important you have to get to?”

“Uh, not really. Just...some shopping if I find something I like.” As he speaks, he pockets his phone, eyes moving up across the hall to see her showing who he assumes is a new employee how to ring someone up. He hears a snicker from Mark, but he ignores it and shoves his hands into his sweatshirt pockets. “Anyway, I’m out, man. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah, sure,” Mark sighs, waving Johnny off.

It takes Johnny about five minutes to finish up his paperwork from the shift this morning so he can leave. Space Buns came in around 2, so he can only guess that she’s on the closing shift. He even looked dumb this morning when he had a second coffee he was going to use as a chance to talk to her. Just a basic iced mocha, but it was the safe option. But alas, it wasn’t her, so he stood there with two coffees, his usual iced Americano in his right hand, and a coffee that was too light in color and too sweet to be something that he would order. And when he tried to pawn it off to his opening associate so he didn’t look like a total idiot, she reminded him she only drinks tea and water. So he’s hoping he can blame the jitters he has on the two large coffees he consumed this morning.

“Well, here goes nothing,” he mumbles as he types in his employee number and password to punch out. All he needs to grab are his wallet, phone, and keys from the desk. He’s a simple man with carrying possessions. On his way out, he waves to Mark who in turn just nodded while he talked to a regular customer.

And then he takes those several strides across the hall, the music pulsating with a beat and inviting him inside. It’s relatively quiet with customers, though there’s a few scattered around. Not super busy, but not slow where if he does strike up a conversation with Space Buns, it’ll be something her coworkers zone in on. Perfect. The setup is perfect. But he doesn’t immediately go to her. Taking his time, his hands brush over a couple shirts, shuffling for his size and holding some things up to see if it would be something he wanted to buy. He just only comes in and shops when she’s not here. Easier for him to be in and out without embarrassing himself.

And when someone breezes past him, he looks over his shoulder to see her back. Against better judgement, he gaze slides down to glance at how nice that skirt hugged her ass, but he quickly turns his gaze back to the black-to-gray ombre flannel in his hands. 

“Can I help you find anything, sir?”

At first he thinks she’s talking to him, but her voice is too far. But when he takes a glance, he sees her talking to an older guy. 

“Oh yes, can you please help me with some shirts back over here? I’m having trouble finding some sizes,” he coos, reaching out to gesture. But as he does, his hand grazes her arm. And when it does, Johnny’s eyes narrow as he notices how she briefly tenses, answering in that restrained customer service voice, “Yeah, sure. Just tell me the sizes you need. Which shirts were you looking for?”

Johnny puts the shirt back, momentarily having a lapse in retail judgement in putting it in the correct sizing spot, but that doesn’t exactly matter at this point. The body jewelry seems pretty appealing to look at, the cases about three feet from where Space Buns is looking for the shirts for the other guy. He’s spouting off some bands, all from the ones on the lowest shelves.

“Sir, all of these were on top of the stacks in that size,” she states, having three in her hands already.

“Oh, that’s my mistake.” And when there’s a little noise from shuffling, Johnny can see through the corner of the glass that the guy shifts a little closer. “Though you do look kinda cute on your knees like that.”

At that point, his body starts moving before he fully processes it, shoulder not-so-gently knocking into the other guy’s. “Oh sorry, I didn’t see you there.”

And then he turns down to look at her, holding his hand out to help her stand up fully again. “So I was wondering if you could check if something’s in the back for me? There’s a flannel I’m looking at.”

“Excuse you, she was helping me--” And he stops as soon as Johnny looks at him. And Johnny moves so his back is to the guy, gesturing for Space Buns to walk first. And quickly walk past is what she did, Johnny two steps behind her.

As soon as they’re in a different area of the store, he keeps note of where the jerk is, but he just walked out of the store. “Wow, he didn’t even buy the shirts. What a jackass,” he gripes. “You okay?” And at that point, he really takes a look at her, noticing that she actually still has the shirts clutched to her chest. He can’t exactly read her expression, and he frowns as he leans down to her eye level.

“You didn’t have to do that, but,” she pauses, dragging her lip through her teeth, “thank you. I appreciate it.”

“I really hope that doesn’t happen to you often.” He rubs the back of his neck, not exactly sure what he should say at this point. He just knows that after what just happened, he can’t ask for her number. Or if he can ever ask for it after he had just saved her from getting hit on by someone else. As he looks around, trying to find anything else to focus on, he spies the flannel from earlier. So he reaches over and picks it off the rack, holding it up and smiling at her. “Just came in for this. Hope the rest of your shift goes quick.”

And he moves to the register before she can really say anything else, paying for the shirt and heading out after giving her a quick wave. Now he’s really kicking his own ass. He’s screwed.

 

~*~

 

It’s been a week since he saved you. And you’ve been struggling with figuring out a way to thank him. Something really seemed to throw him off that day, and you honestly wonder if he’s ever seen someone sexually harassed before. Nonetheless, you were thankful. Maybe you could give him a giftcard to one of your favorite coffee places. After all, Journeys Boy seems to drink coffee basically as much as you do.

“Why am I thinking about this now?” you ask yourself, running a hand through your hair before pushing the thoughts out while you walk over to your closet. Apparently it’s girls night out as you’ve been informed. You got off work pretty early on a Saturday for once and had Sunday off. It took a lot of coaxing from your friends, but now you’re actually looking forward to meeting up with friends for drinks and dancing even if you prefer drinking at home with friends while watching movies. It’s cheaper, and you don’t have to worry about getting too rambunctious. Also you don’t have to wear pants.

What to wear, what to wear. Before even deciding on a top, you move over to your dresser and fish around through the various clothing items before pulling out a pair of dark denim shorts. The well-worn and comfortable material glides over your skin as you pull them up, hooking the buttons through the loops and doing some minor pulling and adjusting until they set nicely on your frame. High-waisted is always a good look for you. To pair with it, maybe a splash of color? “Shit, where did I put that new tank top?” 

You whip your head around, moving to your closet to fish through the multiple bags until the mustard one came into view. It almost blended in too much with the shopping bag, but you don’t hesitate to rip the tag off, throwing it in the bag to toss out later. Now was not the time when you hear the text notifications, most likely from your friends telling you to hurry it up. But after pulling the cropped tank on, spaghetti straps exposing your shoulders and the bottom hem hitting a little over your belly button, you feel a little more exposed than you’d like. But whatever, you’ll figure it out after you get makeup back on your face. It’s pretty rude that they’re asking you to come out again after you just washed it all off a couple hours ago. Mostly because when you go out, you really like to complete the full look, emphasizing your cute face with some blush along with colorful eyeshadow and eyeliner. Maybe pink and red eyeshadow tonight? 

“Fuck.” The line you made for filling in your brows is a little crooked, but thank god it’s a quick fix. And just as you’re about to go in again, your phone rings. You tap the answer button, putting the person on speaker. “Hannah, I swear to god I’m going as fast as I can. I told you I already took my makeup off.”

“Hey, I’m just trying to figure out when I’m picking you up. I’ve only been waiting half an hour anyway. I’m just hoping for a good time since it’s Saturday night.”

“If you leave, in about 10 minutes, I’ll be ready by the time you get to my house.” You finished up your brows, and you grab your eyeliner pen to get that done. “Hey Hannah, remember that mustard colored tank I got when we were shopping last? I need a shirt to go over it. Any suggestions?”

There’s a pause on the other end while you finish, blinking a couple times as you study your work. It’s pretty damn good for once. Too bad you’re always in a rush in the mornings when you see Journeys Boy. The thought makes you pause, feeling warm all over again remembering the last encounter you had with him. The way he literally inserted himself between you and the old creep was stuck in your mind. Maybe it was because of your crush on him that made you think that him protecting you was a sign there was chemistry there, but maybe that’s just the kind of guy he is. Either way, the brownie points got added in.

“Are you even listening now?”

“What?”

“I said wear the black one. With the floral print. If it looks ugly together when I get there, I’ll make sure to tell you.” You can’t help but roll your eyes as she laughs. “You look good in anything, so it’s fine. Just wear that.”

“Fine. I’ll see you soon.” End call.

After making sure to add some highlight, almost forgetting to, and then make your way back to your closet to thumb through for whatever hanger that button down is on. You miss it twice, not realizing at first that you hung a jacket over it due to lack of space, but soon you have it on. You only do the bottom couple buttons, wanting to make sure the tank underneath is clearly visible. But then it’s a hassle unbuttoning your shorts, pushing them down just enough to carefully pull them back over the shirt and adjusting so you don’t get a bulge spot in your shorts. And once it’s all set, you check yourself in the mirror, turning left and right before finally feeling satisfied in the look.

It’s while you’re putting your sneakers on that your phone goes off, most likely Hannah telling you that she’s here. Grabbing your purse and your house keys, you’re out the door and heading for what you hope is a good night out.

 

~*~

 

Johnny pockets his wallet with his ID in it as he walks past the bouncer and into the Cherry Bomb Bar. The music was audibly heard and visibly felt as he was walking up, but once he’s inside, his whole body is pulsating to the beat. The DJ’s definitely doing his job tonight. With a cursory look around the bar, Yuta’s pretty easily picked out in the crowd. The red hair is pretty distinguishable.

“It took you long enough to get here. Good thing I didn’t order your beer yet,” Yuta scolds, but the smile on his face says that he’s still happy Johnny finally showed up.

“Yeah, sorry about that.” He smiles, but offers no explanation as to why he was late. Honestly he just napped a little too long. He lets Yuta order him something on tap as he turns to scan over the crowd gathered. He leans over to Yuta so he can hear him speak over the music. “Pretty packed tonight.”

“Yeah, a lot of cute girls here too,” Yuta responds, sliding cash across the bar including a tip for the bartender before shoving Johnny’s beer into his hand. “So am I gonna get stuck with you all night, or are we gonna try and mingle?”

Johnny hums before taking several long sips of his beer, the bitter taste hitting the back of his throat. Would be nice if it tasted better, but it gets the job done and loosens him up. And when he turns to Yuta, he flashes a grin. “Haven’t decided yet. We can do a couple rounds and I’ll let you know.”

Johnny hears Yuta sigh, but he’s not even looking at him now as they weave throughout the crowds and scoping out who is where. Sometimes they’ll spot another from their friend group dancing with their date for the night and decide to heckle them. Once they interrupted Taeil with a girl he was trying to impress, and the annoyed texts later that night were pretty amusing. But so far, no one else is around as far as they can tell. He feels Yuta’s hand nudge his arm to try and get his attention. Most likely something caught his, but as Johnny turns to his friend, something interrupts them before he can find out what it is. 

Journeys Boy! ” 

He startles, head whipping around in the direction of the voice. And she’s standing there, a big smile on her face with a drink in hand. Something fruity it looks like. His eyes trail down over her, taking in the fit of what she was wearing. She always manages to look good . At least he wore a nice, fitted tee with his jeans tonight.

“Well if it isn’t Space Buns from Hot Topic,” he answers, a lazy grin on his face as he hooks his thumb of his free casually into the front pocket of his jeans. He chances another lookover of her as he takes a long sip of his beer, tongue swiping over his lower lip after. “I didn’t expect to see you tonight.”

At this point, he doesn’t pay attention to what Yuta says, but glances at him out of the corner of his eye as he walks over to the bar. Guessing the girl with the purple curly hair is what caught his attention from the way he slides into the stool next to her and  points to the bar. But the girl in front of Johnny is who he’s focused on. Though there’s a couple friends close by watching him talking to Space Buns.

“By the way, my name’s Johnny. If you wanted to put a name to this handsome face.” And for an extra cute gesture, he holds his thumb and forefinger under his chin for a small pose. “I don’t think I ever caught your name either.”

She leans in a little closer to him. “It’s [Y/N]. My name’s [Y/N]. And I’m glad you’re here too.”

His gaze flickers down to her lips, wondering how cute she’d look with that dark lipstick a little smudged. But he pushes the thought out pretty quick. With his beer a little over halfway gone from when he was meandering with Yuta, he’s feeling a smidge loosened up as he starts to sway a little to the beat. 

“I come here a lot, but I don’t see you. Do you not get out much?” he asks, holding his hand out as an invitation to dance. And when she smiles, he swallows. It’s such a cute smile. 

“Not a lot. I drink with friends at home.” Her hips sway, a little accentuated in movement. He glances at the glass and wonders how long she’s been here. And also how many she’s had. But he brushes his hand on her hip, looking down at her to catch her gaze to make sure it’s okay. And apparently it is when she takes his hand and presses it to her hip. He hopes she can’t feel his heartbeat pick up a little as her hand slides up his chest to rest on his shoulder “I never did get to thank you. For saving me the other day. That really did mean a lot. So thanks, Johnny.”

The only thing he can get out is, “Anytime.”

And then they’re dancing, moving to the beat song after song. Once the drinks are gone, they pass the empty glasses to a waitress moving through the crowd and his hands are both on her. His touch is still modest, but his hand grips her hips as he really starts feeling the beat. Their dance is simple, him leading her through steps. But she’s smiling up at him, laughing. It’s the most fun he’s had coming out with Yuta in quite awhile.

After a few songs, Johnny leans down with his lips close to her ear. “Let’s go sit and have a drink. It’s on me.”

He pretends not to notice her grip on his shirt tighten a little, but she nods and follows after. His hand seeks hers out, making sure she doesn’t get separated or lost in the crowd. There’s only one open chair, so he gestures for her to take it, taking her hand as she takes a seat, and the bartender pauses as he passes to catch their order. “Feel free to order whatever you want.”

“A Midori sour is good.”

“And I’ll take another Shock Top on tap.” He hands the bartender some cash with tip included before sliding [Y/N]’s drink in front of her. “So, I hope you haven’t had any more incidents at work.”

“With creepy men? No. Just the usual cheap customers mad it’s not the price they want to pay. Or because I won’t make an exception for them. But you probably deal with that too.”

He laughs and nods, propping his foot up on the footrest on the barstool. “Oh yeah, I definitely have my share of those too. Definitely not fun, especially when they try and make up some fake promotion.”

“I know, right? Honestly the fucking worst.”

The work banter goes back and forth, and he feels himself relaxing the longer they’re talking. They delve into hobbies, and he admits that he and Yuta sometimes go out for bar karaoke, and he finds out her love for music and concerts. He orders them a second round of drinks as she shows him a couple different band tattoos, explaining the meanings behind them and all the exciting moments she’s had.

“You know you’re cute when you’re excited about something, right?” The words casually slipped out before he could stop them, but rather than try and backtrack, he just picks up his beer to take a few sips.

“I have a crush on you!” she blurts out, and he damn near chokes on his beer, coughing and hitting his chest a couple times to clear his airways. 

“Come again?” He sets his beer down and grabs some napkins, to wipe the drink off his face and hand. His composure is a little broken, cheeks flushed as he watches her and waits for elaboration. A blunt response like that was a little unexpected.

“I’ve kinda had a crush on you for awhile. You’re nice, and I like when we greet each other across the hall. And you weren’t lying when you said you’re handsome. It makes my mornings a little less awful when you say hi.”

She’s rambling. She’s really cute when she rambles, but he should probably get a word in. And when he presses his thumb against her lips, she quiets down. He can feel her lips twitch, almost as if she pressed a small kiss to the pad of his thumb.

“I’d have to call myself a big, fat liar if I said you didn’t catch my attention too. Here, give me your phone.” 

She fumbles with it, and he notices her thumbs shaking a little as her phone keeps buzzing with each time her password is put in wrong until eventually it puts a timer on it. “Sh-shit…”

The laugh that comes from his mouth is light, amused. “It’s fine, really. Here, give me your arm.” And with that, he reaches for a pen sitting out for bar patrons to sign with, gently taking her arm. He’s careful not to press deep as he writes his name, his phone number going just underneath. Sure, he could have just put her number into his phone, but this is more fun. And he wonders if it’ll help her remember that cute confession she just gave to him.

“Text me sometime. We can hang out again when we’re both a little more sober.” 

He wants her to be treated right, and that definitely isn’t him taking her home with him tonight. She isn’t a one night stand kind of girl, and he wants to take his time to get to know her. 

“I can buy you coffee. Since you bought me two drinks,” she says, words slurring a little. But she’s still smiling up at him, cheeks even more flushed than when he first saw her tonight.

“I guess that’s fair.” His words are light and teasing. “Where’s your friend you were with? I want to make sure you get back to her safely.”

“Hannah? She’s around. Somewhere.” She squints, looking around before pointing to someone over at a table along the wall. “There! She’s over there.”

He looks over, taking note of who she’s pointing at. And when he turns to say something else to her, he feels one of her hands touch the back of his neck, and then her lips are on his. He doesn’t hesitate to lean in a little into the kiss, his lips moving against hers as his eyes close for just a few seconds. It isn’t until the heat starts pooling that he slowly pulls back.

“Damn,” he murmurs, running his thumb over his lips and glancing down to see some smudged lipstick come off. “You’re pretty good at that.”

Rather than take her all the way over to where her friend Hannah is sitting, he looks over to make eye contact, catching her attention and waving her over.

“Is she okay?” the girl asks, brows furrowed as she looks [Y/N] over.

“I think she’s definitely more than fine.” He chuckles. “Wanted to make sure she got back to you safely. And when she wakes up tomorrow, tell her Johnny from Journeys wrote his number on her arm to text him when she wants to go on a date.”

Apparently the whole scenario was amusing to Hannah, [Y/N] insisting Johnny stays a little longer. But then he takes her hand, and she stills. “If you wanna see me again, text me in the morning. Good night, Space Buns.” He presses a soft kiss to the inside of her wrist, smiling at her one last time before nodding to Hannah. As he heads to the door to get home, he pulls out his phone to text Yuta he’s heading out now. And here’s to hoping he wakes up to a text tomorrow.

 

~*~

 

You’re more nervous than you’ve been in awhile. Were you about to make yourself look like an idiot? Most likely since you don’t remember a lot past seeing Journeys Boy-- Johnny at the bar, only what Hannah told you had transpired. But even her details were fuzzy because she didn’t know everything. You don’t have to be to work until 2, but when you texted Miranda and she confirmed he is working across the hall, you dragged yourself out of your house earlier than usual to head in.

With one last deep breath for courage, you finally walk into visibility of the store, entering and looking around to at least pretend you were looking at shoes and not for him . There’s about 20 seconds of nothing before a voice speaks up behind you.

“Welcome to my store, Space Buns.”

God, if he’s smiling when you turn around--and he is. A smile slides onto your face. Thank god for blush, and you pray he can’t tell how red your cheeks are getting. “Hey yourself.”

A very long and awkward pause stretches out until you blurt out, “I’m sorry about Saturday. If I said something weird or dumb.” And now you desperately want to kick your own ass. “And for your number...when I woke up the next morning, it was smeared on my arm. So I didn’t get a chance to text you yesterday.”

Johnny stares at you for a bit before snorting, a laugh breaking out soon after. He settles pretty quickly though, running a hand through his messy hair and shoving his free hand into his pocket. “It’s no big deal. Honest. I figured you were just pretty hungover yesterday. But maybe you can open your phone now so I can save my number in it properly.”

And with that, he pulls his own phone out, unlocking it before holding it out toward you. You type your password into yours and exchange phones. After typing your number in, you pause. Should you put your name in or a cute nickname? You figure your name is fine, so you type in “[Y/N]” followed by a cute emoji and immediately hit save after. And when you take your phone back, the name “Handsome Johnny Suh” is listed as a contact name, and you damn near choke when you read it.

“Make sure not to lose it this time, okay [Y/N]? I want to take you out on a real date,” he murmurs, tilting his head a little as he holds your gaze. The only response you can give is a very quick nod, clutching your phone to your chest and turning to leave the store. But the smile spreading wide across your face only shows a bit of the happiness you’re feeling inside. You absolutely can’t wait.