The light was blinking. Again.
Sirius’ car, a seventeen-year-old beater named Charlotte that he’d bought from a used car sale four years ago, was reliable—if Sirius defined reliable by back windows that got stuck when he rolled them down, AC that would spontaneously crap out on any given hot day only to revive on what were seemingly the coldest days of the year, and flashing lights that would appear every so often on his dashboard with no indication of how severe the alerting issues were.
Sirius sighed. The light looked like it was for his tire pressure gauges—maybe. For all of the knowledge he had on car parts, the blinking light could’ve meant his engine was about to give out. He hoped not. He’d set aside enough money since he’d taken on ownership of the bookstore to be able to afford a new car if he really needed it. But he’d been planning on trying to find a new place to settle down in—or at least, a place that would better accommodate the frankly staggering amount of books that he currently had stashed in various locations around his condominium.
This, his fourth warning light in under a month, threw a wrench into his plans—literally. The auto shop, a gas station with ‘Howell Mechanics’ printed on the neighboring garage, was next to the bookstore that Sirius had taken ownership of two years ago, but he’d never taken much notice of it until this year, when Charlotte had apparently decided that she was on the last of her nine lives. The first time he’d stopped in was three weeks ago, when his car had benevolently decided to give him a moderately clear signal that his back right tire had low pressure. He’d pulled into the gas station, hoping to use the air pump on his tire, before realizing that all the spots were full.
Moving into the convenience shop, Sirius had run a hand through the portion of his hair that was down as he’d nervously asked the owner, a grey-haired woman who looked like she could easily beat him in a fight, if there was another way to access the pump as all the spots in front of it were taken. She’d nodded and called out for a ‘Moony’ to come out from the back and help the customer before turning to Sirius and directing him to pull up to the garage where one of the mechanics could assist him. Sirius had followed her instructions, looking through his rear window as he’d backed up to the door of the garage and watched the metal door lift to reveal the largely empty space within.
That was when he saw him. Narrow shoulders that were perfectly suited for a worn navy jumpsuit. Tawny hair that seemed surprisingly fluffy for someone who worked with oil and grease all day. A funny-looking scar that started from his temple, crossed his nose, and ended at his cheekbone. Green-ish eyes that were—shit— looking right at him in the rearview mirror.
Sirius had flushed and removed the key from the ignition before taking a deep breath to collect himself and stepping out of the car to talk to the man behind him, whose arms were crossed as he waited for Sirius expectantly.
“What seems to be the problem?” he’d asked, and Sirius had blinked furiously at the man’s accent. It wasn’t what he’d expected; it was softer, rounder than most people in the area. Not a native, then, Sirius thought, before mentally amending the conclusion a moment later. Barely anyone was a native of Washington D.C., it was well known for being a city of transplants, Sirius should’ve known better. Sirius also shouldn’t keep the man waiting for an answer.
“It’s the tire, I think. It’s either completely fucked or the engine is,” Sirius had said, and the man had raised an eyebrow wryly.
“The lights on my dash weren’t exactly clear.”
“I see,” the man had responded, turning to grab a hose-like instrument from the garage before bending down next to Sirius’ tire. “That one’s 24, do you know what the other ones are?”
“Twenty-four?” Sirius had stated dumbly, not remotely aware of what the man was talking about.
“PSI? Pressure? Do you know what the other tires are at?”
“Oh, uh. No, sorry.”
The mechanic had sent a seemingly amused half-smile towards Sirius before moving to the other side of the car to check the other tires’ pressures. Sirius, on the other hand, had slumped into himself at his painfully awkward interaction with the man—until said man returned from the other side of the car to announce that his other tires seemed to be operating at normal pressure levels.
Sirius had offered up a quiet affirmation, an “oh” or a “thanks” or a “huh,” he couldn’t remember which, before the man had bent down to the issue-laden tire and begun filling it with air.
Sirius had looked away. Working at an independent bookshop hadn’t exactly done wonders for his social skills, but he’d thought he was still capable of holding coherent conversations with other human beings, attractive or not. Apparently not.
When the mechanic stood up, Sirius had immediately pulled out his wallet and asked how much he owed the other man, but the tawny haired mechanic—“Moony,” the cursive script on his jumpsuit read, had just shaken his head and told Sirius it was on the house. Sirius, so flustered he could barely think straight, merely stammered out a thank you before driving away and wondering what the hell had gotten into him.
When he’d told James, his friend had laughed so hard that Sirius kicked him out of his condo, but not before refusing to tell him which mechanic shop he had stopped by, much to James’ chagrin. Sirius had known his friend would make a joke of it, but he’d been genuinely unnerved by how flustered the mechanic had made him—he wasn’t so bent towards introversion now that he couldn’t hold a conversation anymore, was he?
James’ incessant texts of ‘Siri and Moony sitting in a tree’ hadn’t done much to help the situation, either. Sirius had genuinely contemplated blocking James’ number, but decided he didn’t feel like starting World War III between the two of them over what were annoying, but frankly harmless, comments. Besides, there was no need to worry Mia and Monty, who James would inevitably alert if Sirius refused to respond to his messages, damn him. Teasing texts it was, then.
He’d been back twice since, and much to his relief, “Moony” wasn’t there either time. The amount of work he’d needed on his car, though, was enough to give him almost as much pause as the attractive mechanic had. In under a month Charlotte had somehow managed to lose pressure in her back right tire, run completely dry of oil, and blow out her battery. By the time the light came on for the fourth time, Sirius was thoroughly convinced that he was going to need to start looking for a new car, and he pulled into the gas station morosely, hoping that there would be a spot in front of the air pump.
There was just one opening, and Sirius made quick work of backing Charlotte into the spot as he put her into park, fished for his wallet, and groaned when he realized he didn’t have any change on him. Back into the convenience store again, he supposed as he climbed out of the car to ask for $2 in quarters.
Sirius made it halfway through his request before being cut off by a voice from the back room, getting louder as its owner emerged from around the corner and looked at him.
“Just take the car around to the garage and—oh, it’s you again.”
Sirius’ stomach flipped in a way that wasn’t wholly uncomfortable as he looked up at “Moony,” whose hair was more disheveled than the last time Sirius had seen him and who was sporting an almost intentional-looking grease smear across his forehead.
“I was just looking for some air, you don’t need to—” but the mechanic cut him off again.
“It’s nothing, really. Our industrial air pump is faster than that old thing anyway. Just pull around and we’ll take care of it.”
“If you’re sure?” Sirius hesitated, and the man rolled his eyes playfully.
“Go on, bring her over.”
Sirius conceded, going back to his car and wondering how the hell he’d managed to find himself in this situation again nearly three weeks later. Backing the car up, he watched as the mechanic grabbed the same hose as before (which Sirius now recognized as the air pump—ten points to him for reading obvious cues, he supposed) and paused next to the car, waiting for Sirius to come out.
Sirius did, begrudgingly, and walked around to meet the man. Refusing to meet the other man’s eyes, he stared intently at his back right wheel again and gestured vaguely at it as he spoke.
“It’s that one again, I don’t know what the deal is, I haven’t done anything weird that would make the pressure go down so quickly.”
“Back right?” the mechanic looked at him skeptically before bending down to look at it. “That is a weird one to have issues with like this—normally people brush against a curb or drive over something with their front wheels, but the back ones…” he trailed off, running a hand over the treads of the tire as he looked for something that Sirius couldn’t place.
“I wonder if you ran over a nail,” he said quietly, before pausing the motion of his hand and bringing his face closer to the tire. “Yep, there it is, see that?” he motioned for Sirius to look at where he was pointing. Sirius bent down and frowned, not seeing anything of note.
“I’m not sure I see what you’re talking about, but I’ll believe you,” Sirius said lightly, but the mechanic shook his head and grabbed Sirius’ left hand with his right and placed it on a spot in the middle of the tire tread.
“There, do you feel it? It’s a nail—you’re lucky you caught it right in the middle, could’ve blown your whole tire out if you’d caught it a different way,” the man was saying, but Sirius barely caught a word of it, because his hand was still resting gently atop Sirius’.
Sirius, with his family history, had spent the early years of his life learning to play the piano—a grueling task for an adolescent with little to no interest in playing the piano, but not a particularly intensive one. As a result of this, and due to the bookstore’s proclivity for finding rare books, his hands were soft and clean, with long fingers and gentle pads on the ends of his fingertips. Their general appearance spoke to a life of privilege and ease that would unravel nearly the moment he opened his mouth, but they were his, and he had always resented them a bit for not accurately symbolizing the narrative that his life had followed.
But the mechanic’s hands—they were rough and dirty and muscular, covered in some sort of grey-ish grime—Sirius was captivated as the rough pads of the other man’s fingers wrapped around his wrist carefully and placed Sirius’ hand onto the tire. Sirius hadn’t expected hands that looked like that to be so gentle and deft in their motions. The mechanic must’ve read Sirius’ awe as confusion and he stepped away for a moment to grab a small instrument with a spray nozzle at the end of it before moving Sirius’ hand off of the tire.
“Here, watch this.” He sprayed a light amount of liquid over the spot where Sirius’ hand had just been and pointed towards the small bubbles that arose from where the seemingly invisible nail was. “You’ve definitely got a leak there, do you see the bubbles?”
Sirius nodded. “Oh fuck me, then. I just thought I had a bad tire back there.”
The mechanic chuckled and sent him a grin, leaving Sirius with wide eyes and the breath taken clean out of his lungs as he caught a glimpse of a dimple on the other man’s face.
“I can patch it for you now, if you’d like. Should only take a couple of minutes.”
Sirius nodded hastily. “That would be—God, that’d be incredible—yes.”
The mechanic chuckled again. “Alright, I’ll get started now if that’s alright by you—it’s been a slow day around here.”
“It’s been a slow day for me too,” Sirius said hesitantly with a small smile on his face, causing the mechanic to grin and let out a breathy laugh as he walked back into the garage.
Sirius made his way to the front of his car, leaning against the hood gently as the mechanic placed the jack under the back of the car frame and lifted it slightly so he could turn the wheel. A quiet rumble came from behind him as the mechanic did...well, whatever mechanics do to patch over nails, Sirius wasn’t entirely certain.
Glancing down at his phone, he sent a few messages back and forth to James to let him know that he’d be late for their planned dinner due to Charlotte having more car trouble. When James shot back with “say ‘hi’ to Moony for me,” Sirius groaned and shoved his phone into his pocket, peering over his shoulder at the mechanic, who was now lowering the car back to the ground.
“If you head inside, we can settle things up in there,” the man said, and Sirius nodded before walking into the convenience shop section of the gas station, where a cashier was waiting.
“What did he do for ya?” the man behind the desk asked tiredly, and Sirius froze, realizing he didn’t have the technical terms for what the mechanic had done. He pushed his glasses up his nose awkwardly before trying to explain himself.
“He, uh, found a nail in the tire and did something to fix the air that was leaking out?”
The cashier huffed. “That’ll be a patch then. It’s $32.45, let me punch it in.”
Sirius nodded and pulled out his wallet as the mechanic walked in.
“Frank, what are you doing? I’m taking care of this one over here,” he said jovially—and there it was again, that dimple that had Sirius ready to trip over his words. Sirius flushed and moved over to the mechanic’s side of the counter, missing the raised eyebrow from the cashier and the subtle shake of the mechanic’s head in response.
“Alright, your total’s going to be $5, even. Does that sound alright to you?” the mechanic asked, and Sirius’ head whipped up.
“But he just said it was—”
“Frank doesn’t set the prices, I do.”
Sirius looked between the two men in front of him in surprise as Frank raised his hands in surrender and walked off into the backroom.
“Now, about those five dollars. Is that an alright price for you?”
“Shouldn’t I be asking...you that?” Sirius asked slowly. “Since when do mechanics ask their customers how much they’d like to pay?”
An amused smile crept onto the mechanic’s face and he nodded once in agreement before typing something up on his computer and printing out a receipt. “Since one of their customers comes in for the fourth time in under a month, only expecting to spend two dollars at an air pump, and walks away with a patch on their tire because they’d run over a nail.”
If Sirius had thought his face was red before, it was practically maroon now.
“I didn’t realize you’d been keeping track.”
The mechanic chuckled. “Not me, my mother. She’s the one who rang you up the last two times. Marked you down as “NB Civic ‘04” after you showed up the second time since you paid in cash, apparently.” He looked up at Sirius. “She must not have gotten your name, then. Care to give it to me? For our records?” he finished with a wink so subtle that if Sirius hadn’t been looking right at him, he would’ve missed it.
It was a far smoother line than Sirius was expecting at 4:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday. He’d had a long day at work, with a delivery of used books coming in from across the city that he’d needed to clean, stamp, and mark down in his inventory before hand-writing prices on the inside covers. It was a menial task, but one that had taken him nearly six hours due to the volume of books he’d received in the delivery. Hours of sitting hunched over at his desk and thumbing through old paperbacks had left him drowsy and a bit achey, and he’d really just been holding out until he could meet up with James for their regular Thursday night dinner before climbing into his bed and passing out.
Tired, sore, and suddenly alerted to a mechanical anomaly when he climbed into his car, Sirius knew he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to recognize nuance, and yet...He couldn’t possibly be reading this wrong, could he?
“Oh, uh, Sirius. Sirius Black.”
“Well, Sirius Black, I’m Remus. Remus Lupin, if we’re doing full names,” the mechanic— Remus, Sirius’ mind corrected—smiled widely at him, and Sirius’ heart did an olympic-medal-worthy flip in his chest.
Sirius flushed and looked away. “Thanks for the help then, Remus.”
Remus raised an eyebrow in amusement. “Of course, I’ve got to keep my loyal customers coming back somehow, don’t I?”
Sirius froze. Of course. This was just a friendly business interaction, why would it be anything else? Remus wasn’t flirting with him, he was just trying to ensure Sirius continued coming to his mechanic’s shop. It was foolish to have thought otherwise. All of the books he’d sorted out today must have gone to his head, he needed to get home and sleep and forget about this whole ordeal and—
Sirius’ mental doom-spiral was interrupted by Remus looking at him with something akin to concern as he gestured at the card reader.
“Do you want a receipt?”
Sirius nodded blankly, still derailed by his previous train of thought as Remus furrowed his eyebrows and printed out a receipt for him to sign. Sirius did so mindlessly, wholly embarrassed at where his imagination had wandered as he scrawled his initials on the bottom of the receipt and slid it across the counter back to Remus. Remus fiddled with a pen out of sight as Sirius’ copy of the receipt printed and handed it to him gently.
“Here. Feel free to stop back in if you have any more trouble, alright?”
Sirius nodded again, more hesitantly this time, and muttered a quiet “thanks again” before turning to leave, grabbing his wallet off of the counter and shoving it into his pocket as he did so.
He turned around to face Remus, who was looking at him with a rather sheepish expression as a gentle flush spread across his tan cheeks.
“See you around? I mean, hopefully not soon, but—see you?” He stammered out the question awkwardly and the corner of Sirius’ mouth pulled up in a ghost of a smile before he responded.
“Something like that. Thanks again,” Sirius said with a half-hearted wave as he walked out the door, still utterly mortified by the way he’d been flustered by Remus’ actions.
It had been a week and Sirius had refused to drive his car to work. He’d been forced to wake up an hour earlier so as to catch the train that connected to the bus that had a stop a few blocks down from his store, but he didn’t mind, not really. At least Charlotte wasn’t acting up and forcing him to stop into Howell Mechanic's again.
Sirius groaned. Seven days later, and he still wasn’t over the absolute fool he’d made of himself when faced with the kind mechanic with the strong hands and the nice smile and the cute dimples and the—shit, he was doing it again.
He’d spent all week trying to force thoughts of Remus out of his mind, but for whatever reason, he couldn’t. James had argued it was because he hadn’t had a proper date in months, but Sirius thought it might run deeper than that. Sure, he hadn’t gone out in a while, but that was because he was exhausted after work every day, and found himself far more relaxed by the idea of sitting down with a cup of tea and and old police drama than he did by the idea of going out on a date to one of the young, hip areas of the city. When he’d said as much to James, his best friend had promptly asked him when he intended on purchasing suspenders before he’d started laughing hysterically, leading Sirius to place yet another embargo on his friend entering his condo.
It wasn’t that Sirius was averse to dating, he wasn’t, but he’d finally squared up to the fact that he’d had more than his fair share of being young and reckless. Half of his memories from college were thoroughly coated in a protective glaze of alcohol, which had been all well and good at the time, but after he’d graduated, after he’d gotten himself a job, after Regulus...Nothing about that lifestyle appealed to him anymore. He’d thrown out the bottles and mixers, abandoned his contact lenses for his glasses, and had been sober for nearly four years now.
Needless to say, the idea of meeting someone for drinks at a noisy bar didn’t really suit his fancy anymore. When he settled in the area, searching for a position that wouldn’t be as stressful as the DC job market was notorious for being, he’d fallen in easily with Mr. Barrett, the owner of Writer’s Block Bookstore. Sirius had come in hesitantly, knowing his degree was in Business Administration and that his only real selling points were that he was a twenty-two-year-old man who didn’t smoke, didn’t drink (anymore), and had a surprisingly deep love for literature. Barrett, seeing God knows what in the recent graduate, had hired him on the spot, and Sirius had spent the last four years wondering just how he’d managed to come by a stroke of luck like that.
Two years on, having revolutionized the store’s inventory system by installing a computer in place of Barrett’s authentic 1950’s typewritten card system, Sirius had been offered a promotion, and a big one at that. Mr. Barrett was getting older and wanted to spend the time he had left traveling the world with his wife, surely Sirius could understand that, right? And he wouldn’t be opposed to operating as the owner until someone came along with the requisite skills and experience to take over for him? Sirius, who’d felt that he was indebted to Barrett in more ways than one, had accepted, and somewhere in the in-between of twenty-three and twenty-four he’d become a small business owner.
The place was quaint, he had to admit. In his down time early on, he’d found himself easily distracted by the nooks and crannies where customers could curl up with a book and get lost in the text for hours. When Mr. Barrett stumbled upon him reading an Encyclopedia Brown book to one of the youngsters who’d been dragged into the bookstore with his mother, he’d merely smiled and moved along, knowing that both the store and his employee were better off with each other in their lives. He’d asked Sirius about a month later if he’d be willing to do ‘Storytime Saturdays’ for any kids in the area, an event that had grown into somewhat of a beastly tradition in the last four years, but one that Sirius wouldn’t trade for the world.
This coming Saturday was meant to be focused on Science Fiction, and Sirius was so engrossed in looking over their selection that he almost missed the gentle tinkling sound of the doorbell as a customer walked in. Knowing that he was out of sight and the store would appear empty without someone manning the register, he called out behind him.
“Feel free to have a look around, I’ll be up front in a moment if you need any help.”
His gaze shifted between the three books on the table in front of him. Because it was summertime, he’d decided to do a mid-length book, something with chapters that could keep the attention of a younger child or a slightly older one. Deciding not to leave his customer waiting, he grabbed all three in one hand and tucked them under his arm before settling onto the stool behind the cash register with a faint smile as he laid the books on the counter in front of him. He didn’t see anyone in his line of sight, but Sirius knew full well that him being able to see someone was practically meaningless in a shop this size. The customer could’ve easily gone into the basement, or the second floor, without Sirius ever having seen them. He relaxed against the back of the stool and looked between the three books again.
Pulling out a pack of dry-erase markers, he rotated the stool around so he was facing the wall, and drew a t-chart on the white board hanging there, labelling a column for each book. He drew a small box that he labeled ‘customer votes’ at the bottom of each column before returning to the top and noting a few plot points of each.
A Wrinkle in Time had interplanetary travel, so it was always a fun one for kids to be introduced to. But The Giver had creative descriptions of light and color that kids likely wouldn’t be used to, and they’d just made a movie of that a few years back—come to think of it, they’d made A Wrinkle in Time into a movie a few years back too. Sirius drew a small film card icon next to each of them before moving onto the third book. It had been a few years since Sirius had thought about A City of Ember, but from what he remembered there was a child-led-escape-like adventure in the middle of it, and what kid didn’t like the idea of getting to adventure off and discover a new world? He noted that before adding another film card at the top as memories of a thrilled eleven-year-old Regulus at a movie theatre swam to the front of his mind unbidden.
He sighed. The five year anniversary of his brother’s death was coming up far too quickly for Sirius’ liking. Some portion of his brain refused to believe that Regulus wasn’t still around, that he wasn’t just holing up in his bedroom and moping like he’d been wont to do when he got stroppy. But then he’d remember the headlines, the news reports of the police dredging the small pond by their parents’ house and finding his brother’s body and his mood would darken immediately. He’d never forgiven his parents for not fixing the old dock behind their house, but another part of him, more well-hidden, had still yet to forgive Regulus for being enough of an idiot to go out there drunk with his friends and do stupid diving tricks to show off. His friends were all idiots anyway, and Sirius had never understood why Regulus had chosen to spend time with them—he was too good of a kid to be corrupted by the likes of Severus Snape and Jonathan Wilkes.
After the dust had settled, Sirius had spent almost a year beside himself with guilt for not insisting his brother stay with him that summer instead—it wasn’t as if he hadn’t had the space—until James had finally convinced him to leave his condo and do something. A month’s worth of pleading and whining had gotten Sirius out of the building to look for a job, and he’d somehow managed to arrive at Writer’s Block, standing in front of a stoic man with his meager resume, asking very quietly if there was any hiring need for a sales associate, or even an intern.
Sirius frowned and pinched the bridge of his nose beneath his glasses. He and James were going to have a long conversation about his brother tonight, he feared. He’d just made another notation on the white board when he heard someone clear their throat behind him.
“If we’re picking between the three, I’d vote A Wrinkle In Time any day of the week.”
Sirius swiveled his seat around at the familiar voice and promptly dropped the dry-erase marker into his lap before bending over to pick it up.
It was Remus.
And he was wearing a sweater—in July—for fuck’s sake. Sirius was certain his brain was going to short circuit at the sight of Remus standing on the opposite side of the counter in an oversized sweater that complimented his eyes in an almost criminally attractive fashion.
“I see you’ve found my bookstore, then?” Sirius eventually forced out, and Remus chuckled, a faint blush spreading across his cheeks.
Remus glanced down at his shoes sheepishly. “You’re only next door to us, I’m surprised it’s taken me so long.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow before gesturing around at the interior. “Were you looking for something in particular? We’ve got all sorts of genres: mystery, science-fiction, historical-fiction, biographies, romanc—”
“I was looking for you.”
Sirius stumbled back onto the stool in surprise as Remus cut him off.
Remus chuckled lightly. “I take it you didn’t look at the receipt, then?”
“The...receipt?” Sirius furrowed his eyebrows and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. Rummaging around in it for a moment, Sirius pulled out the receipt that Remus had given him and unfolded it. Nothing looked amiss to his eyes, and he handed it over to Remus skeptically. “Am I missing something?”
Remus’ eyes softened as he took the receipt from Sirius’ hand and flipped it over. “I’d say so, but you tell me.”
Sirius glanced back down at the small slip of paper and suddenly noticed a note written in blue ink.
Remus Lupin, followed by a ten digit number starting with a 202. Sirius looked up in surprise.
“You gave me your number,” he said incredulously. “You gave me your number?”
“Is that so surprising?” Remus asked, a confused look on his face.
“No—I mean—sort of?”
Remus’ eyebrows knit together and his expression of bewilderment deepened. “Did I misread the fact that you couldn’t stand to look at me for longer than a few seconds while I worked on your car? Or the “gay agenda” bumper sticker you had on it? Or that your face seemed to be permanently flushed both times I saw you at the shop?”
“So you were flirting with me?” Sirius questioned, leaning forward carefully on the stool and dropping his head into his hands. “I was right then.”
“Just to be clear,” Remus started, pursing his lips in mild amusement. “You thought I was flirting with you, then actively ignored me for a week.”
Sirius frowned. “It’s not ‘ignoring you’ if I didn’t need to take my car in for repairs this week.”
“Your car is a piece of shit, Sirius. If you were driving it this week, you’d have needed to see me. The fact that I haven’t seen you at all means that you’ve either suddenly joined a carpool or been taking public transit to get to work.”
“Why does that matter?”
“Jesus Christ, do I have to spell this out?” Remus said, a disbelieving smile on his face. “I was trying to ask you on a date. Bit hard to do that when you’re refusing to drive your car and I don’t know when I’m going to see you again.”
Sirius’ cheeks pinked but he continued in his questioning. “Then how did you end up here?”
Now it was Remus’ turn to blush. “My mother mentioned that she’d seen you around the shop a lot—neither of us knew the ownership had changed. It’s been Barrett for decades, since we first moved out here. It wasn’t until she said that you were here that I bothered to look up the bookstore online and read some of the reviews for this place.”
Sirius smiled properly for the first time since Remus had arrived. “Storytime with Sirius?”
Remus grinned in response. “Every Saturday, huh?”
“For four years now.”
Remus let out a low whistle. “That’s some sort of commitment.”
“The kids love it,” Sirius said with a contented shrug, “and I can’t really say I mind getting to reread my favorite children’s books.”
“Does that mean you aren’t free this weekend?”
Sirius smiled shyly. “No, I am, after the reading is through.” He glanced back up at Remus with a curious expression on his face. “Just for my own sake, though—this is you asking me out on a date, right?”
Remus beamed. “Yes sir. I wouldn’t offer free services to just anyone, you know.”
“I’m glad to hear that, at least. I was beginning to worry you were operating off of a business model that wasn't sustainable.”
18 Months Later—Somewhere in South Carolina, 3:37 AM
“Hi, are you awake?”
“Sirius, it’s not even four in the morning, what sort of a lifestyle do you think I lead?”
Sirius huffed out a laugh. “The kind where you answer your boyfriend’s phone calls in the middle of the night, I suppose.”
“Is everything alright? You and James should be,” Remus broke off, and Sirius heard the sound of quiet shuffling over the phone line. “Halfway through South Carolina by now, yeah? How’s it looking?”
“About that…” Sirius said with a nervous chuckle. “We are halfway through South Carolina,” he paused.
“The back tire blew out.”
Remus’ voice raised in volume significantly when he responded. “It’s three in the fucking morning, how did you manage to get a flat tire?”
“I don’t know! Blame James, he was doing the overnight shift—you know what my eyes are like at night.”
“Yeah yeah, whatever you say—is there a reason you’re calling me, though? Is there something I can help with or are you just informing me that James is a shitty driver—and before you answer, know that if it’s the latter, feel free to never call me at this hour again.”
Sirius laughed lightly into the phone. “I was calling to ask if you could talk me through changing a tire.”
Sirius swore he could picture the expression on Remus’ face, even from 450 miles away, and he smiled sheepishly as he heard Remus sigh in fond exasperation.
“We’ve been together for a year and a half and you still haven’t learned to change a tire?”
“Hey, I have to keep you around for something, don’t I?”
Remus snorted. “Tell that to James when he has to pay full price for his next tune-up, why don’t you?”
“Remus,” Sirius whined, “are you going to help us or do I need to call Triple-A?”
“Of course, Love,” Remus said with a yawn, “now are you in the trunk of the car yet?”
“Am I—are we not going to talk about the fact that you just called me ‘Love?’”
“Sirius, we said "I love you" to each other for the first time nine months ago, you’ve got to stop reacting this way every time I say it.”
“Well that’s not fair, I like hearing you say things like that.”
“Can you two get on with it so we can keep driving?” James’ voice echoed out from behind Sirius, causing him and Remus to chuckle at the comment.
“Alright, so...I’m in the trunk. What next?”
“You’re really hopeless at this, aren’t you?”
Sirius grinned. “That’s why you love me, though.”
When Remus responded, Sirius could hear his boyfriend’s soft smile through the phone line. “That I do, Love. That I do.”