The jingle of incoming customers had started to become an annoyance, as loath as Aran was to admit it. Each time the door opened and the bell rang, his head throbbed and his will to continue working weakened. With each shout of children as they ran through the aisles his headache spiked and Aran fantasized about laying down behind the counter and falling asleep.
He’d finally managed six minutes of peace when the cursed bell dinged again. Aran couldn’t even stop himself. He let his head fall onto the register counter with a pleasant thump even as pain radiated from his forehead.
“Welcome to the Fox Garden , how can I help you?” He asked, keeping his customer service voice perfectly level to try and hide how dead inside he was.
“I’m looking for a bouquet for my Grandmother, I was told that there was a cute guy here who could help me.” The smooth voice made Aran shoot up, taking in the sight of his business neighbor and local tattoo artist Kita Shinsuke.
The silver haired man looked like he was trying not to smirk at having caught Aran slacking off. The hint of a tattoo peaked out from under his collar and Aran pulled his eyes away before he was caught staring as well. It didn’t help that his bare arms were also decorated in lines of vines and shadowed shapes of animals between the branches and Aran was always fascinated.
Shinsuke reached out to poke at his forehead, eyebrows furrowed in mild concern until he was sure Aran wasn’t actually hurt. Aran did his best to pretend like his skin wasn’t blazing hot where the fingers had touched him and that the temptation to lie about being in pain wasn’t extremely tantalizing.
“ Shinsuke .” Shinsuke corrected, the smallest smile playing on his lips as he shook his head fondly. “We’ve known each other for years now Aran, honestly. Are you dying? Should I come back at a better time?”
After dealing with four separate rushes and more than one upset customer, the last thing Aran wanted was to cut the time he had with Shinsuke short. Even his headache was lessening the longer he looked at Shinsuke’s smile, though it could have been the lack of screaming. He stepped around the counter, reaching forward without even thinking to take Shinsuke’s hand and pull him down the aisle.
“If you leave me alone to suffer I will be upset, please, I need to have an actual intelligent conversation before I die,” Aran said, trying to ignore the heat on his cheeks when he realized that Shinsuke was still holding his hand and didn’t seem like he was intending to let go anytime soon.
“It’s a good thing I’m here to save you then isn’t it? What do you think about something based around daisies?” Shinsuke asked, comfortably pressing into Aran’s side to look over the flowers in front of them. Aran barely managed to give them a full glance though, distracted by the sight of Shinsuke focusing on the white flower and the warm weight.
Shinsuke was fascinating when he was focused on something, pretty grey eyes undeterred by sounds or movement. His lips curling just a touch at the edges, unnoticeable to anyone who didn’t know him so well. His fingers would twitch with the want to touch before he would remember that Aran gave permission and reach out almost desperately to know what the flower felt like.
“White is a good starting color and they’re shaped differently enough to really pop against other flowers. We can pair them with some hydrangeas and hyacinths?” Aran offered, trying to remember what they had in stock. Daisy plants were easy enough to keep alive year-round but most flowers for bouquets were brought in, and the remainder of their stock were potted plants and young trees ready to be planted at home.
“You know best.” Shinsuke hummed as he gently trailed his fingers on the underside of the flower petal.
“You’ve bought enough of these in the past three years that you probably have the same grasp of color theory as I do… Come on, I’ll make it up for ya before the next group comes in.” Aran hesitated to let go of Shinsuke’s hand but unfortunately he couldn’t snip the daisies with only one hand. He pulled away unhappily, the center of his palm cold where Shinsuke’s fingers had been.
Aran tried to focus on the flowers instead, pulling a pair of scissors from his apron and snipping a few free before leading the way back to the counter. He laid the flowers out on a sheet of wrapping paper, trying to think of the best colors to use with them, only slightly aware of Shinsuke moving to his side.
Normally he’d be upset by a customer coming around the counter, but Shinsuke had stopped being just a customer after his official thirty-secondth bouquet and the photo collage of his Granny happily holding them in each photo. Besides, Shinsuke liked to bring him coffee when he knew they both worked the early morning shift, so Aran could make allowances.
That and you’re in love with him , Aran’s inner voice betrayed him. He told it to shut up. He was working, he didn’t have time to think about feelings.
“Wait here, pull your stool out from under the register.” Aran instructed, already heading into the back room to grab the flowers from the mornings’ earlier shipment.
“Mind if I sketch?” Shinsuke called after him, the sounds of the stool scraping when Aran held a thumbs up above his head.
By the time Aran returned, Shinsuke was curled against the opposite side of the counter, directly behind the register and scribbling something on a blank piece of paper. He didn’t get the chance to look over until the flowers were arranged and carefully tied off.
Aran tilted over Shinsuke’s shoulder, only a little surprised to see a sketch of hands organizing flowers. He held the bouquet out, gently pulling Shinsuke from his zoned out state.
“Ya like my hands that much?” Aran teased, only getting a half eye roll from Shinsuke and a pretty speckling of red on his cheeks. Shinsuke slipped the paper under the counter and returned Aran’s pencil beside it before he finally took the offered flowers.
“I don’t have an appointment for a tattoo for a bit, mind if I come back after I drop these off for Granny?” Shinsuke asked as he fished out his wallet, silver eyes glowing with half hidden hope. They lit up beautifully when Aran grinned and nodded. Aran forcibly reminded himself that he was in fact at work and he couldn’t just kiss Shinsuke here.
You should ask him out first . The voice in his head was starting to sound annoyingly like Atsumu. Aran told it to shut up again. He’d get to that, when he wasn’t distracted by how soft Shinsuke’s hand was in his or how his smile was prettier than any flower Aran sold.
“Uh yeah,” Aran said when he finally remembered that words were needed, “you’re always welcome here Kita- Shinsuke-kun.”
Shinsuke didn’t even try to hide his pleased smile, eyes on the flowers in his hand instead of Aran as he turned to leave. He glanced back with that same smile and Aran forgot how to breathe.
“I’ll see you soon.”
Ask him out~ Aran was going to kick Atsumu’s ass for being in his head, even if he was right.
“Shinsuke… I close at eight.” Aran almost lost his nerve at the raised eyebrow.
“I know,” Shinsuke nodded his head to try and move the conversation along, curiosity lingering in his eyes.
“Let’s get dinner at that new restaurant Wolf Den . I’ll pay.” The words were rushed but Shinsuke just looked fond, tucking the flowers closer to his chest.
“Aran,” Shinsuke’s voice was soft with just a hint of the tease Aran knew that he was, “are you asking me out on a date?”
The surprise at his bluntness was satisfying but Shinsuke recovered quickly. Shinsuke watched Aran for a second before he nodded in agreement.
“Then I accept. I’m still coming back to bother you until I have to get back to work though.”
“You’re never a bother Shinsuke, you’re always welcome here.” Aran insisted, wondering if he’d be able to get another smile out of Shinsuke if he kissed him. He decided to wait a little longer to test that out, otherwise Aran wasn’t sure that he’d actually be able to survive keeping the shop open for the rest of the day.
“I’ll be back soon, wait for me.” Shinsuke’s lips quirked, not quite a smile but close enough, and Aran’s heart beat harder as the smaller man turned and made his way out.