Miya is the first of his friends to get a bouquet.
It comes two days after one of his big competitions, one of the important ones that keep his reputation up and relevant. One of the competitions that sponsors watch, that judges watch, that Japan’s national team coaches watch. One of the competitions that have the potential to make or break him. One of the competitions that make his stomach twist and turn and burn with nerves that he’ll never admit. That makes his heart race and pound with worry, with excitement. Excitement for getting to skate and prove himself, prove his talent, show people how good he is and that he’s only going to keep getting better. Worry that his whole life could come crashing down with one wrong move, one bad landing, one too wobbly turn, one mistake.
Miya gets first place, of course he does. He’s the best skater his age, better than kids older than him and better than most adults. There was never a chance of him getting any less than first, but the acknowledgment of his skill is still nice. Miya takes one day off to relax and decompress from the competition. A day he spends skating for fun rather than training and playing online games, sometimes by himself and sometimes with Reki. He relaxes, gets to bask in his win, and has fun.
The next day Miya is back on his strict schedule. He goes to his gym early to get as much practice and training in as possible. Just because he has another win under his belt doesn’t mean he can slack off and get complacent.
Miya’s training gets interrupted around noon. He assumes at first and because of the commotion at the door from his manager that the press has tried to sneak in to interview him, despite having a scheduled interview for tomorrow morning to talk about the competition. Things like that happen more often than Miya would like-- he doesn’t really see the point in interviews. Why should things like his personality matter when all that’s really important is his skating? Does his skating not speak for itself?
Miya brings himself to a stop in the middle of the ring, peering over to the door and trying to peek at what’s going on. He sees his manager and one of the security guards talking to someone at the door, who seems to be handing over… flowers? Odd, but not the first time Miya has been sent flowers after competitions. More often he gets sent things like gear or clothing from sponsors, trying to capitalize off Miya being seen wearing or using their products. Sometimes fans will send him stuffed animals or chocolates in congratulations-- he keeps the stuffed animals, tosses the chocolates. It’s… nice, he supposes. He doesn’t much get it but he does appreciate it.
He hardly ever gets flowers. Miya guesses that people assume a thirteen-year-old boy wouldn’t like flowers. Miya happens to think flowers are really pretty, even if they do make him sneeze sometimes.
When Miya’s manager starts walking over to him, a large bouquet in hand, Miya skates over to the edge of the ring curiously.
“Ah, Miya, a floral shop in Okinawa sent over a bouquet in congratulations! How sweet is that?”
Miya steps off his board to get a closer look at them. He’s not knowledgeable enough about flowers at all to know what they are at a glance, but they look pretty enough. Some sort of skinny pinkish-purple flower, a golden one shaped almost like a bell, another purple flower that’s petals look crinkled, but when he reaches out a hand to try and smooth one out, he’s met with a rough sort of texture that tells him the flower is meant to be like that. A red flower that he knows is a Carnation because those are popular flowers for Valentine’s and White Day. Miya also recognizes the Amaryllis flower, it’s one his mother always gets around the holidays and new year. This bouquet has come with three different colors; red, white, and pink.
All in all, Miya has no idea what most of the flowers here are, but together they look pretty enough. An eclectic group of flowers for sure, but somehow they all work together. And the purple and green ribbons tying them all together and wrapping around the vase are a nice touch. Miya reaches out to take the little card attached to the vase, his other hand still playing with the petals of one of the flowers. Written in a fancy script, the card reads:
Congratulations on winning your latest competition! Wishing for your continued success for years to come. -- Your friends at Tulip Floral Shop
The name of the shop nudges at something in the back of Miya’s mind. It sounds familiar, but he can’t remember why. It’s not like he goes to many flower shops ever, so why would it sound familiar?
“They’re quite pretty, aren’t they?” his manager continues, reaching out to adjust some of the flowers. “Maybe I’ll put them in the office? I’m sure you don’t want a vase full of flowers, but they’re too nice to just throw out…”
Normally Miya would wave his manager off, let her do whatever she wants with them, but something is still tugging at Miya’s brain, and he feels an irrational irritation when she mentions taking them away. He keeps looking between the flowers and the card, hoping something jogs his memory. He wonders how they knew that his favorite colors were green and purple, or if the ribbons are just a coincidence.
Miya is putting the card back in the vase when it hits him. These are from the same flower shop Shadow works at.
“I think I’d like to keep them, actually,” Miya says without much thought. His manager cuts off whatever else she was saying. Miya had stopped paying attention a while ago.
“I’d like to keep them,” Miya repeats himself, looking his manager in the eye so she knows he’s serious. “I don’t get flowers much, and I like these.”
“Alright,” she says slowly. “I’ll put them over by the greeting desk so you can grab them on your way out.”
Miya nods, turning back to continue skating. If Shadow actually was the one to send the flowers-- and who else would have? Miya knows that’s where Shadow works and he’s never gotten flowers from them before, but now that he’s friends with Shadow he does?-- Miya wants to keep them. They’re a gift from a friend, of course he’s keeping them.
Later that night Miya is sitting in his room, staring at the vase of flowers on his desk. He still doesn’t know what some of them are, but his mom had confirmed that there were Carnations and Amaryllis, and told him that the golden ones that look like bells are-- surprise! Golden Bells. Out of pure curiosity, Miya starts trying to figure out what the other two flowers are.
It takes some time, and a lot of increasingly specific search terms, but Miya finally is confident he finds the correct flowers. The skinny pink-purple ones are called Heathers and the ones with the crinkly petals are called Rockroses.
Miya also learns during his searching what the flowers are meant to represent.
The Heathers represent good luck. The Golden Bells mean excitement and anticipation. Rockroses mean determination and strength. Carnations represent admiration. The different colors of Amaryllis represent friendship and pride.
The more Miya reads about the flowers, the warmer his face gets. There’s no way the meanings of the flowers are actually relevant for this bouquet. Nope, it’s just a random collection of flowers that look good together. Except the flowers are all different shapes and sizes and colors, and different amounts of fullness. They don’t look like flowers that would normally go together.
So if Shadow put together this bouquet for him-- which Miya is pretty positive he did-- did he also take the meanings of the flowers into account? As a florist, Miya would think he would know the meanings of the bouquets he’s putting together. The thought makes Miya blush even more because that means that Shadow is proud of him for winning his competition and wanted to show it.
Miya resolves to just ask Shadow about it.
Miya does just that the next time he’s at S . He waits until everyone is distracted; Reki and Langa trying new tricks off to the side, Cherry and Joe antagonizing each other and hyping up the crowds. Shadow is next to him, fiddling with the wheels of his board that have gotten loose but he refuses to let Reki fix for him, even though it would take Reki two minutes flat.
“I got a bouquet of flowers from your shop the other day,” Miya says apropos of nothing. He says it quietly enough that no one else could hear them talk about life outside S.
Shadow grunts at him, not turning to look his way and keeping his gaze on his board. “And?” he asks gruffly.
“Just thought it was interesting,” Miya says breezily. “I never have before. Seems a coincidence that now that I know you I get flowers from where you work.”
“The hell are you saying, brat?”
“Oh, just that you sent me flowers. How very sentimental of you.”
“As if!” Shadow blusters, huffing and puffing. Miya can’t tell under all the facepaint, but he thinks Shadow might be blushing just by how he’s acting. “We do that sometimes; send arrangements to competition winners and shit like that. We’ve sent ‘em to Cherry before when he does his exhibitions. Doesn’t mean it was me doin’ it. ”
Miya just hums, allowing the conversation to drop now that Miya all but had his suspicions confirmed. Shadow keeps grumbling to himself about bratty kids who can’t mind their own business and keep trying to ruin his reputation. He says it all just loud enough for Miya to hear.
“I don’t know how to properly take care of them,” Miya says sometime later after Shadow has gotten his muttering out of his system. “I’d like to keep them alive as long as possible. I don’t get flowers often and those are pretty.”
Shadow huffs again. “Change the water every few days. Trim the stems if they start to wilt. Not much to it. Just keep ‘em watered and give ‘em sun and fresh air. They should last a few weeks.”
Miya nods and they sit in silence. Shadow keeps fiddling with his wheels, and Miya watches his friends run around. It isn’t until Reki and Langa start making their way over to them that Miya speaks again.
Miya doesn’t expect an answer. Doesn’t expect Shadow to acknowledge him. Or maybe he expects Shadow to blow up at him, to keep denying that he sent the flowers.
So, Miya is pleasantly surprised to hear a gruff, “Whatever, brat.” just before Reki and Langa get within hearing distance.
Miya gets home late from S . He sneaks into his room and takes the flowers down to the kitchen. He changes the water, trims the stems, and very carefully rearranges the flowers until they look almost exactly to when he first got them. He takes them back to his room, where he looks for the perfect place to put them. He places them on his dresser, by the window. If he leaves his curtains open during the day, they’ll get plenty of sunshine and if he cracks his window they’ll even get some fresh air. Miya fusses with them just a little until the ribbons are straight and the flowers are perfect. He stares at them a little longer before getting ready for bed.
Miya’s chest feels warm.
Kojiro’s done it. He’s finally perfected two of the family recipes that his mother and his grandmother have refused to give up, forcing him to perfect them through trial and error. It’s taken years of begging for the smallest scraps of advice, hoarding the dishes to himself during holidays and taking notes on every taste, and plenty of teasing from his family, but he’s finally done it.
He’s invited Kaoru to Sia La Luce to try them out, excited to share this achievement with his oldest friend. Because Kaoru has had the dishes straight from the source, has been witness to many of Kojiro’s attempts and failures and rants about the recipes. Has gossiped with family about the inside joke not giving Kojiro the recipes turned into. It’s only natural that Kojiro wants to rub this success in the man’s face. (And also, maybe, have someone who will tell him if it doesn’t taste right before he shows his mother and grandmother.)
Kaoru had for some reason been out with the kids (without him, Kojiro’s not jealous, he’s not ), and so calling Kaoru over had led to the kids wanting to come as well, led to Kojiro being grateful that he made a big batch of the Tortelli, otherwise he’d be struggling to feed the bottomless pits that are two teenagers and one young adult.
Kojiro places the serving dish of Tortelli on the table with a flourish, not bothering to hide his excitement with the finished product. The pasta is soft, the filling is creamy, and the butter sauce over top is rich. Kojiro is proud to present it to this group of people that have weaseled their way into his heart.
“Here it is!” he exclaims as he places the dish down. “A secret family recipe that I’ve finally perfected. Dig in!”
Langa and Reki waste no time in spooning a serving onto their plates and calling out their thanks, though Miya and Hiromi are a bit more cautious, poking the pasta with their forks. Kaoru delicately serves himself a portion, shooting Kojiro a teasing look.
“What’s inside it?” Miya asks, examining the pasta suspiciously. Kojiro might be offended if he didn’t know Miya was so questioning because he had to be careful with what he ate.
“Inside is a creamy spinach mix with a butter sauce on top,” Kojiro explains. Miya nods, taking an experimental bite, then a bigger one.
“It’s good!” Reki says, smiling at him. Langa doesn’t say anything, his mouth being too full, but he does nod in agreement with Reki. “It’s a family recipe?”
“Yes!” Kojiro gushes. “It’s one of my grandmother’s recipes. It’s been passed down for quite a while. I haven’t been given an official recipe, so I’ve had to try and recreate it myself. Which I think I have!”
“It is pretty good for being mostly spinach,” Hiromi muses. He takes another bite and then nods to himself, as if proving his point.
“I suppose it’s fine,” Kaoru says airily. Kojiro beams, which makes Kaoru scoff but he does have a private little smile on his face. If Kaoru is saying it’s fine, that must mean that Kojiro has finally nailed the recipe.
“Don’t get too full,” Kojiro warns, getting up from the table to head to the kitchen. “There’s a cake as well. And it’s sure to be good! There’s quite a lot of sugar, so you’ll have to be careful with it, Miya.”
He gets a wave of acknowledgment and Kojiro brings the cake in. He serves them all small slices, and basks in their smiles and compliments. It warms something in him to share something so personal with these people he’s grown to care so much for.
A few days later, Kojiro is preparing his restaurant to open, finishing some prep work and wiping down counters when someone comes in, the bell above the door jingling merrily. Kojiro sighs, not interested in kicking someone out just because they didn’t care enough to read the obvious ‘closed’ sign on the door.
“We’re still closed, come back in an hour,” Kojiro calls as he enters the main room. The person is standing in the middle of his restaurant, a vase full of flowers in hand. Great, Kojiro thinks. Someone wants to host a party here and didn’t have any decency to plan ahead.
“I’m sorry to just barge in--” Unlikely, but okay. “I’m just here to deliver these. Is there a Nanjo Kojiro here?”
Kojiro raises an eyebrow. “That’s me. I didn’t order anything, though.”
The delivery person sets the flowers down on one of the tables. “Not an order. It’s a gift.”
“Huh.” Kojiro sees them out, waving them off and then going over to examine the flowers curiously. Odd, Kojiro thinks. It’s not near any holiday where giving flowers would be appropriate. It’s not his birthday. He can’t think of any occasion coming up or having just passed that would justify flowers being sent to him.
The flowers themselves are nice, he supposes. A flower in a blend of oranges and reds, one that looks almost like flames, a flower he recognizes as Hyacinths from his mother's garden, a pink flower that looks like a more refined rose, and what he recognizes to be Amaryllis in vibrant red, white, and pink-- a popular flower around New Year’s. A simple orange ribbon ties around the vase. They create a pleasant bouquet, and Kojiro finds himself to be very curious about who sent them.
He searches the bouquet, but there’s not a card in sight. Very odd, Kojiro thinks. He would think that anyone who put their time and effort into creating a bouquet like this would want to be known.
Kojiro moves the flowers over to the bar where they can sit for the day without being disturbed too greatly. Maybe he’ll take them home, maybe he’ll leave them here.
Kojiro doesn’t think too much about the flowers after that. They’re just flowers, after all, nothing too special. In fact, he doesn’t think about them again until Kaoru is sneaking into Sia La Luce after hours, probably to filch more leftover Tortelli. Kojiro is going to take great satisfaction in telling him he’s sold out, his grandmother's recipe having been a huge hit with his customers.
“Nice flowers,” Kaoru comments, having taken a seat at the bar while Kojiro makes him something to eat.
“Who sent them?”
“Why? Jealous? It’s okay, baby, there’s no need to fret. You’ll always be my favorite irritation.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize you’ve gotten delusional in your old age. Or perhaps you’ve hit your head one too many times and some damage has finally gotten through that thick skull of yours.”
“Sweetheart, if I’m old what does that make you? Maybe those glasses aren’t working anymore and you’re blinder than we all realized. Ya know, I hear that your eyesight gets worse with age, maybe you should start being concerned about that. Especially if you think that’s an outfit that looks good.”
“Why you little--”
“The flowers didn’t come with a card,” Kojiro interrupts before they can really get going, otherwise they’ll be at it all night. “Pretty, though.”
“Hm,” Kaoru humphs, leaning back in his chair. His lips curl up a bit as Kojiro sets a bowl of his favorite pasta in front of him. “You know, the Emelias-- the red and orange ones-- symbolize creativity.”
“Do they now?” Kojiro reaches over to pull the vase closer to them. “I suppose I am a creative person.”
“And so humble.”
“Know what the others are? I know these are Hyacinths, and then the Amaryllis.”
“These are Camellias,” Kaoru gestures to the pink flower. “Though I can’t recall what they’re supposed to mean.”
After some searching on the internet, they find Camellias to represent passion. After even more searching they find the red flower that looks like fire to be called Jungle Flame-- rather fitting-- and it also represents passion and determination. The Hyacinths represent playfulness and whimsy. This specific combination of Amaryllis is meant to symbolize friendship and pride.
“I wonder who would have sent you such a… positive bouquet,” Kaoru teases.
“Hey,” Kojiro whines, pouting a bit. “It was probably Hiromi. Can’t imagine why, though.”
“Mhm,” Kojiro hums, putting the flowers back in their place. “He works in a flower shop. Can’t think of anyone else who might’ve sent them, especially without a card. Dunno why, though.”
Kaoru hums, observing the flowers as if they’ll give him answers. “Perhaps as a ‘thank you’ for the other day? Or a ‘congratulations’ on mastering a new recipe? That’s all that’s happened recently.”
Kojiro blinks, thinking it over. It seems almost too sweet, too personal, of a reason to get flowers. That he finally cracked a family recipe that’s been plaguing him for years. Yes, Kojiro was proud of himself, but he hadn’t actually expected any congratulations, and certainly not from someone he only recently became friends with. On the other hand, it’s a very caring gesture, one that makes Kojiro’s chest a bit warm.
Maybe he’ll take the flowers home with him after all.
Kaoru is not surprised when he receives the bouquet of flowers at Sakurayashiki Calligraphy.
After Kojiro received flowers, and later he discovered that Miya had as well, Kaoru is not surprised. He certainly hasn’t been waiting for or expecting any, he’s not so vain as to think he’s due to them as well.
But, Kaoru hadn’t been attending S as frequently lately, too swamped with work and the upcoming date of a big project. It’s not one that’s been very publicized, but it is a large project nonetheless. It’s kept him busy the past few weeks, not leaving him much time for anything else. He hadn’t felt the need to explain his absence, but upon his return was met with incessant questioning from the children.
(Kaoru will not admit it warms his heart, just a bit, to know that these children had missed him. Oh, they try to cover it up, act like they didn’t. But Kaoru can see through Langa’s aloofness, Reki’s overly cheerful greeting, and Miya’s blustering annoyance. It’s sweet.)
So, Kaoru had explained that he’d been working on an important project that he had to dedicate more of his time to, and now that he’s completed it he’ll have a bit more free time. The kids monopolize a bit more of his time, pulling his attention to them and the new tricks that they’ve been working on while he was away. He indulges them, feeling just a bit guilty for having left without so much as a whisper of an explanation.
“Are you proud of yourself?” Shadow asks once the kids have moved on.
“Pardon?” Cherry asks, taken aback by the bluntness. For a split second, he thinks Shadow is chastising him for having ignored the kids. Cherry is just about to retort, words scathing on his tongue and ready to fly when Shadow continues speaking.
“Of your project. Your work takes a lot of time and effort, right? This one must have been especially challenging if it took so much of your time. Are you proud of it?”
“Yes, I am,” Cherry confirms after a moment of silent floundering. He certainly hadn’t expected that.
Which brings them to where they are now, Kaoru accepting a bouquet of flowers from a smiling delivery worker after having just arrived at his business. He places the bouquet of flowers on his desk, first searching for a card of some sort. There isn’t one, just like Kojiro’s.
He turns his attention to the flowers themselves next. Kaoru recognizes all the flowers, though that may be just because this particular bouquet is full of distinct and easily identifiable ones. Rich pink and purple Fuchsias, vibrant orange and blue Orchids, and Amaryllis in bright red, white, and pink. Pink and purple ribbons wrap intricately around the vase and flowers, complementing the colors nicely. Kaoru notes with interest that Kojiro also received Amaryllis in his bouquet.
Kaoru knows that the Amaryllis represents pride and friendship. It can’t be a coincidence that Shadow asked him if Kaoru was proud of himself only to then receive a flower that represents pride. Kaoru suspects that Hiromi is putting a lot of thought into the bouquets he’s been sending. Some research tells Kaoru that the Fuchsias represent elegance, the orange Orchids success and diligence, the blue Orchids beauty and uniqueness.
It’s surprisingly touching.
Kaoru finds himself enamored with the bundle of flowers, his gaze drifting over to the flowers as he tries to work. His heart warms every time he looks at them.
He’ll have to make this up to Hiromi in some way. It’s too kind of a gesture to go unacknowledged.
Reki and his board fly through the air, soaring higher than he’s jumped since his beef with Adam. Reki’s heart flies right alongside his board, pounding brilliantly in his chest the longer he holds air. He can’t stop the laugh from escaping his chest, too excited and energized from the dangerous jump to even think of keeping it in.
Reki flips and spins around, just in time to grab his board. He gets it under his feet and positions his body just so, curled tight enough that the impact to asphalt won’t jolt him too badly, but loose enough that his body won’t lock up and refuse to go with the flow of motion. This is where he keeps messing up the trick so far, his body either too tight or too loose, unable to hit that sweet spot.
Reki holds his breath as the ground gets closer, gripping his board tighter. It’s coming up fast, and it’s now or never. Either Reki finally, finally sticks this landing, or he crashes once again and Langa makes him stop for the night.
Reki forces himself to keep his eyes open as the ground rushes towards him. He’ll see the moment that either makes or breaks him, he won’t shy away from it.
Reki breathes out, tenses his knees, relaxes his shoulders. In 3… 2… 1…
Reki hits the ground, feet firmly planted on his board, not budging even a centimeter. Reki stays on his board, body keeping with the momentum and increasing his speed as Reki keeps skating.
He did it. He landed and didn’t fall, didn’t falter. He stayed on his board, kept going, kept skating.
“Yes!” Reki cries out, turning and skating back over to his group of friends. His friends are cheering for him, Langa’s voice louder than all the rest as he gets closer.
“I did it! I landed!”
“You did! That was amazing, Reki!” Langa swoops him off his feet and into a hug as Reki gets closer, the leftover momentum sending them crashing to the ground. Reki doesn’t care, too busy laughing brightly and hugging Langa back.
Reki’s heart feels so full. He’s been practicing this jump for months, and this is the first time he’s landed it. Reki feels absolutely giddy with the excitement and pride that comes with not falling for once.
Reki’s not used to being proud of himself. But right now, held in Langa’s arms and listening to his way over the top compliments, and the rest of his friends softer but no less heartfelt congratulations, Reki feels proud of himself.
It’s a good feeling.
Reki lets the high of his success carry him through the next week. His energy stays up and he manages to pay attention during school, he gets his homework done with little complaining, he gets inspired to work on new projects-- his head spinning with new board ideas, he gets his work at Dope Sketch done quickly and efficiently. Langa only encourages his good mood with his bright smiles and the easy confidence he has in Reki.
It’s such a nice feeling, Reki hopes it never goes away.
He’s working a shift with Langa at Dope Sketch when something happens that doesn’t exactly damper his mood, but it definitely adds a new layer to it. Langa is restocking the shelves and Reki is cleaning up behind the counter when the door jingles, signaling a customer.
“Hello!” Reki calls, popping up from under the counter. “How can we help you?”
Reki gets a good look at whoever entered and realizes that they’re not a customer but a… delivery person? They’re in a uniform and carrying a… vase full of flowers? Strange.
“I’m looking for a Kyan Reki?” the person says, peering over the flowers.
“Um, that’s me,” Reki says slowly. “What…”
“Delivery for you from Tulip Floral Shop. Have a nice day!”
And just like that, the person sets the flowers on the counter and leaves the shop without another word. Reki stares at the flowers, his face getting steadily redder the longer he looks. Who would be sending him flowers?! No one’s ever done something like this before. He can’t think of a single person or a single reason for something like this to happen. And to him of all people!
Cautiously, Reki reaches toward the flowers, searching for a card or a note or something to explain what’s going on.
He doesn’t find anything. Of course he doesn’t.
“Who sent you flowers?” Langa asks, coming over to investigate. There’s a frown on his face as he looks at the flowers, and Reki takes that to mean he’s just as confused as Reki is.
“I have no idea,” Reki squeaks, trying to hide his blushing face. “They said they’re from Tulip Floral Shop. There’s no card.”
Langa blinks at Reki. “Isn’t that where Shadow works?”
Reki’s mind blanks. “Yeah it is,” he says absently.
“So let’s ask him who sent them.” Langa is still pouting, turning the vase all around and examining it from all angles. “If someone’s sending you flowers as like, a confession or something, it’s kind of silly to not leave a card.”
“Huh?!” Reki flounders, arms waving frantically back and forth as if he can make those words disappear if he bats at the air hard enough. “No way it’s something like that! Who would even confess to me anyway? It must be a mistake.”
Langa just seems to frown harder. “Why wouldn’t someone have feelings for you? You’re amazing, Reki. Someone would only be so lucky.”
Reki’s face is on fire. He wants nothing more than for the floor to swallow him up and make him disappear. Reki cannot take the serious and somewhat offended look on Langa’s face, as if he can’t believe that Reki wouldn’t have people crushing on him. Reki buries his face fully in his arms, letting out an anguished groan when Langa just keeps looking at him like that.
“Well,” Langa says when it’s clear Reki has checked out mentally. No one home for the time being, Reki’s brain has decided it needs a vacation ASAP. “Should we ask Shadow? Do you think he’d answer if we called him?”
“He never answers when we call,” Reki grumbles into his arms. “I’ll just text him.”
Reki does just that, sending a picture of the flowers and a simple ‘help they came from ur shop’.
Reki moves the flowers to the back counter, hopefully out of sight and out of mind as he waits for Shadow to respond. The flowers are pretty, he guesses. A mixture of reds, pinks, and oranges, all bright and colorful with pops of white and green. There’s a bright yellow ribbon tied around the vase to bring it all together. He has no idea what any of them are, but can appreciate the look of them.
It takes Shadow an hour to respond, during which Reki has about three mini-crises while he tries to work, and Langa keeps shooting pouty looks at the flowers. Is he jealous? Does Langa want flowers of his own? What is even going on?
>> What do you want?? I’m busy leave me alone.
<< the flowers!!! they came from your shop!! who sent them?? what even are they? helppppp
>> How should I know who sent them? I’m not the only one who works here!
>> I can’t tell you who sent them, it’s a breach of privacy. If there’s no note then you’re shit out of luck.
<< what are they then? i don’t know anything about flowers ://
It takes a while, but eventually Shadow sends back a list of flower names and instructions on how to care for the flowers. Reki passes over his phone so Langa can read the messages. Hopefully, that’ll get rid of the pout on his face.
Reki is wrong. The pout gets worse. What is he supposed to do now?
Thankfully, he’s saved from dealing with… whatever is wrong with Langa by someone else entering the shop. He turns to greet them, only to be met with the sight of Miya.
“Huh, what are you doing here, Miya?” Reki asks. Langa sulks some more. Maybe if Reki ignores him for a bit Langa will sort things out on his own.
“We had a short day at school today, so I came to bother you guys,” Miya explains. He slips behind the counter and hops onto the one stool as if he owns the place. “What’s wrong with him?"
“I don’t know,” Reki whines.
“Someone sent Reki flowers,” Langa says. His voice sounds sulky. “They came from Shadow’s shop but he won’t tell who sent them.”
Miya, whose lip was curling in disgust the longer he looked at Langa’s long face, clears up.
“Oh, that’s because Shadow sent them,” Miya says easily, legs kicking in the air.
Reki’s mind blanks for the second time in the last two hours. Langa seems to perk up considerably at the news.
“How do you know?” Reki asks, trying to regain his footing.
“Because he sent me some, and then Joe and Cherry got some, too. Guess it’s your turn.”
“Huh,” Reki turns to look at the flowers. “I wonder what for…”
“Probably because you finally got down that trick. Took you long enough.”
“Why would he send flowers though? He already told me congratulations,” Reki ponders.
“Who knows,” Miya jumps off the stool to examine the flowers himself. “He sent mine after I won a competition. I think they’re his way of saying he’s proud of us. I wonder what yours mean.”
Reki blushes, bright red and fast. The thought makes something warm tingle and settle in his chest.
“He sent a list of the flowers,” Langa offers Reki’s phone to Miya, who snatches it up greedily. Reki feels like he’s not getting his phone back any time soon.
“I’ll look them up!” Miya declares. “You two need to keep working. You’re on the clock, ya know.”
Brat, Reki thinks fondly. He and Langa do indeed get back to work, stocking shelves and packaging orders while Miya calls out the information he finds.
Apparently, his bouquet is as follows; Kalmias that represent perseverance, Rondeletias for endurance, Larkspur for fun and joy, Zinnias for lasting friendship, and Amaryllis for friendship and pride.
Hearing it so plainly like that, all of these positive and happy feelings said so simply, makes Reki blush once again. It’s hard to believe that someone thinks such nice things about him, let alone that person being Shadow. They’ve had a rocky relationship, but if Miya is right and Shadow sent the flowers and made the bouquet, he must like Reki, right? Appreciate him and the friendship they’ve made just like Reki does?
The thought makes Reki’s face hot and his chest tight. In a good way, though.
Later that night after their shift, Langa and Reki head to the skatepark with Miya to hang out for a bit. Reki spends some time just watching the two of them skate, letting his chest fill will the happiness being with his friends offers him. Reki pulls out his phone, intending to get a video of them, but he notices his phone is still open to his conversation thread with Shadow.
<< thank you for the flowers :) i’ll take care of them!
>> Whatever brat.
Reki smiles, opens his camera, and cheers on his friends.
Langa’s not so sure what the big deal about winning twenty beefs at S is, but apparently, it’s a big enough milestone that Langa’s friends are insisting he celebrates.
Joe lets them all invade Sia La Luce, after hours so there are no customers to see them all in their S outfits, covered in dirt and scrapes and looking very much like they don’t belong in this fancy restaurant. Joe attempts to make poutine for him, and while it’s a valiant effort that Langa appreciates, it’s not the best Langa’s ever had. He still eats it, of course, it’s good enough to remind him of Canada, and not so terrible that he immediately wants to go complain to his mother about it. Eating it with his friends makes it all the better, though, especially when he gets to tease Reki for making a mess of it.
They stay at the restaurant for a few hours, talking and laughing until Langa is drowsy with how warm and content he feels. Shadow drives him, Reki, and Miya home since it’s gotten so late, and the quietness in the car and rumbling of the drive only serve to make Langa even more tired. He can’t remember the last time he felt so… content. Miya is curled into Reki’s side, and Reki is resting his head on Langa’s shoulder, dozing himself, and Langa thinks he could sleep here no problem.
“Hey, kid,” Shadow whispers, and Langa jolts in surprise. Reki grumbles and shuffles closer to him, but stays unaware.
“You should be proud of yourself. Winning twenty races is a big deal,” Shadow continues once Reki and Miya have settled.
“I still don’t really understand why, but thanks,” Langa whispers, curling his arm around Reki to pull him closer. The warmth in his chest only grows.
“It’s a milestone, kid. You’ve been at S long enough to have been challenged to at least twenty beefs, and you’ve won all of them. You’re an official S member, there’s no getting rid of it now.”
“Oh,” Langa muses. He’d thought he was an official skater there as soon as he’d gotten his pin, but perhaps this is just more solidifying. Proof that he’s there to stay. Shadow is quiet again, letting the silence fill the car. Langa figures he’s done talking now that he’s said his piece.
“You’ve done good, kid,” Shadow says suddenly. Langa whips his head up to look at him, but Shadow is staring resolutely out the window, glaring into the red traffic light they’re stopped at. Langa opens his mouth to speak, but finds his throat too tight to get any words out.
“You’re a good skater, and you care about it,” Shadow continues, the car jolting forward once the light turns green. “Just make sure not to burn yourself out.”
Langa has to clear his throat twice before he can speak, and even then it comes out a croaked whisper.
“Thank you. I’ll try.”
Shadow nods, and they’re both quiet for the rest of the drive. Langa feels wide awake now, his heart pounding for some reason, even though his chest and stomach are filled with the happiness that comes from spending time with people who care about you.
Miya gets dropped off first, and then Reki, and then it’s just him and Shadow. Langa doesn’t feel awkward though, if anything he feels even warmer that Shadow is taking him home last. They still don’t say anything but Langa feels comfortable in this silence.
Langa falls asleep that night knowing that his friends care about him and that he has a group of people around him that he can lean on and trust.
Three days later when Langa and Reki are at work, a bouquet of flowers comes in for Langa.
Langa takes the flowers from the delivery person, trying and failing to keep his face from blushing. Reki teases him about it, and that only makes it harder for Langa to not react. He sets the flowers down, examining them. There’s a bright blue ribbon wrapped around the vase, the same color as Langa’s hair. There’s a blue flower that looks like a star, some purple flowers, some pink and whites. There’s also one of the same flowers Reki had in his-- the Amaryllis. The ones that mean friendship and pride.
Langa doesn’t know much about flowers, just that there were roses and daffodils at his father’s funeral. And he knows that neither of those flowers are in this bouquet. Langa is very grateful for that. He doesn’t know how he would react if a congratulatory bouquet made by a friend had the same flowers that were at his father’s funeral. It wouldn’t be a good reaction, that Langa is certain of.
Langa sets the flowers down on a counter in the back, where they can stay until he can take them home.
“Hey, yours came with a card! Mine didn’t, but Miya said his came with one,” Reki points out. Langa turns his gaze to where Reki is pointing, and sure enough, there’s a card. Langa plucks it from where it was stuck in between two flowers. It’s a list.
“I think it’s just the flowers that are in the bouquet,” Langa says, showing it to Reki.
“Huh, he must’ve gotten tired of us bugging him. Or maybe he just wants you to be sure you know what’s what. Let’s look them up! We gotta see what your flowers are saying now!”
Langa lets Reki pluck the note from his hand. He’s typing frantically into his phone to find the information he’s looking for, and Langa can’t fight the fondness that wells up inside him.
“Okay! We already know what the Amaryllis means, so this blue one, Borage, and the purple one, Iris, both symbolize courage. This pinky-purple one, Pulmonaria symbolizes respect. Bouvardia, the white one, is enthusiasm. And the pink and white one, Azalea, symbolizes temptation and danger. That’s so cool!”
Langa looks at the flowers, this time seeing them in a new light.
“Yeah, it is cool.”
Langa doesn’t quite know how to describe the feeling in his chest, but he thinks it’s a good one.
Hiromi doesn’t know why the brats insisted he spends his birthday with them.
Granted, Hiromi doesn’t have many other people he can celebrate with other than his family. But still, he’s a young adult in his mid-twenties, he’s perfectly capable of spending his birthday on his own and not with two teenagers, one child, and two other adults around the same age as him. Well, as long as Cherry and Joe are there it shouldn’t be terrible. As long as other adults are present, Hiromi won’t feel like a total loser for spending his birthday with a bunch of kids.
He meets his group of… friends (they are friends, after everything they’ve all been through and how close they’ve become, Hiromi can confidently think them all friends. Even though he does see the kids as more of annoying siblings than anything.) at Joe’s restaurant around midday. The restaurant is closed, giving them the place to themselves.
The room is decked out in streamers of purple, orange, and green. There are balloons placed all around, and a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner hung above the bar. A large table has been moved to the middle of the floor, where it’s been filled with all of Hiromi’s favorite foods and drinks. There’s something else on the table that catches his eye, and once his gaze lands on it, it stays there.
There’s a vase of flowers on the table.
Smack dab in the middle, is a large bouquet. It doesn’t look to be professionally made, there’s not enough filler, no floral foam to fill gaps and hold water, no trademarks that would make it clear it came from a shop.
“Surprise!” Reki is the first to say, throwing his arms up in the air and grinning wildly. “Happy birthday!”
He accepts the other greetings with half his attention, his mind still honing in on the flowers. He hadn’t really tried to hide that he’s been sending them all flowers, but he never outright said it was him, either. Hiromi’s not the best at expressing himself; too rash, too harsh, not observant enough to realize when something he’s said has hurt someone’s feelings. So, when it comes to something important, something he cares about, he lets his flowers do the talking. He’s always loved that every flower has its own meaning, its own language. How putting together the perfect bouquet will speak an entire conversation on its own, no words from him required.
His friends getting him flowers strokes something hot in his throat, makes his chest tight.
“Ah, we made you this,” Joe says, rubbing at the back of his neck with one hand and gesturing to the flowers with the other. “Not too sure how good it is but…”
“But it was important that we made it ourselves,” Langa finishes, nodding his head once decisively. “It seemed only right after you made all of us one yourself.”
“Yeah, just buying one would’ve been lame,” Miya agrees, crossings his arms. Hiromi feels the need to ruffle his hair. He doesn’t, but the urge is there. “Cherry did most of the work, but still.”
“Eh? Cherry didn’t do all of it! We all helped!” Reki exclaims.
“He did most of the research! That’s the important part. What if we got him flowers that meant things like ‘lame and stupid’, huh?”
“No fighting,” Cherry cuts in before the two can really start to go at it. They really are like younger siblings. “We all did research on the flowers, I just happened to have the most prior knowledge. And Reki did the actual arrangement.”
“Yeah!” Reki whirls around to face Hiromi, a blinding smile on his face. “Apparently I have the most artistic ability of us! So I got to put it together!”
“You do have an eye for color and aesthetic that we don’t have,” Joe muses. “Cherry’s work is too rigid for something as… flowy as flowers.” Cherry grumbles but doesn’t dispute this, Reki practically glows.
“Cherry did the card, though,” Langa says. “He has the best writing, so at least the card looks nice.”
Hiromi goes to inspect the flowers as the others keep talking, explaining the process they went through to choose what they did. It’s… heartwarming, Hiromi thinks, that they put so much effort into this when they could’ve gone to any florist and asked for a bouquet meant for a birthday and been done with it. It makes Hiromi feel seen, that they cared enough to make it themselves. There are even purple and orange ribbons tied around the vase and flowers.
Hiromi recognizes all of the flowers right away, and once his brain puts together what they all mean, his breath hitches.
Bright orange and yellow Cymbidium meaning friendship. Violets and Sunflowers for loyalty. Deep purple sage for thoughtfulness. Vibrant yellow globe flowers and vivid pink Sweet Pea for gratitude.
Red, white, and pink Amaryllis for friendship and pride.
Hiromi can feel his eyes starting to water against his will, and he violently blinks until the tears fade away.
“Do you like it?” Miya asks quietly, and Hiromi realizes he’s been staring at the flowers for a long time.
“Yeah,” Hiromi says, his voice coming out thick. “Yeah it’s great. You all did a good job. Thank you.”
He’s met with tackling hugs from Miya and Reki after that, more sedate ones from Joe and Langa, and a friendly shoulder pat from Cherry. He accepts the affection, giving in and ruffling Miya’s hair, tugging on Reki’s headband, and squeezing Langa’s shoulder. He basks in this care, in this love from people he wouldn’t have thought he’d ever care about just a few months ago.
It’s the best birthday Hiromi has had in a long time.