Chapter 04: Coronilla
For a while, Evan didn't return to Sascha's flower shop.
It wasn't strange for him to stop visiting for a few days, so Sascha didn't think much of it at first. However, after more than a week had passed, he had to wonder why the man hadn't stopped by. He didn't have much time to think on it though, because it was Fall and Halloween was getting closer, so the florist was busy stocking up on seasonal plants and flowers. Not to mention, he still had to work on the storefront display.
Fortunately, he now had Jason to help him, and when the boy wasn't running deliveries -- which were growing in number, much to Sascha's delight -- he was doing small tasks around the shop. The boy turned out to be a very good helper, though he was still a bit gruff, he wasn't nearly as rude as he had first appeared to be. Sascha thought he was amusing.
At the moment, Jason was sitting behind the counter, watching the front of the store and doing some homework while Sascha was in the back caring for the plants. Though he would never admit it -- especially not to Evan -- Jason didn't actually mind working at the flower shop all that much. Sascha was pretty nice and the work was easy. Another plus side was that Sascha would sometimes help him with his homework and he also let him keep any tips he received during his deliveries. The only downside he had observed was that Evan was supposed to visit often, but since he hadn't shown up for a while, Jason was very happy with his new job. So, when the little bell above the door chimed (and he hated that damn thing) and Evan walked in, he couldn't help but scowl. Evan didn't seem to mind though, because he just looked around before walking up to where Jason was.
"Where's Sascha?" he asked, leaning on the counter.
"In the back," Jason said shortly, focusing on his homework.
"Should you be doing homework while you're on the clock?" Evan asked with a smirk.
"Should you be bothering people who are working?" Jason shot back.
Evan quirked an eyebrow.
"I hope you're not this rude to the customers," he commented.
"No, but you never buy anything anyway. You just come here because of Sascha," Jason pointed out, snickering.
And Evan very much wanted to whack him on the head, but the door to the back opened and Sascha walked out, somehow carrying a rather large pumpkin, which Jason hurried to take from him before the florist dropped it.
"Ah, thank you, Jay," Sascha said, and Evan couldn't help but smirk at the nickname and the way Jason blushed and glared at him, as if daring him to say anything about it.
"Oh, Evan, I hadn't seen you in a while."
Evan couldn't deny that he was very pleased to note how glad Sascha seemed to be to see him again.
"Work's kept me busy," he said with a shrug. "So how are things here? Jason hasn't been causing trouble?"
Sascha laughed and shook his head, his light brown hair - slightly curled - bouncing as he moved.
"No, he's been a great helper, I really love having him around," he said, smiling at the boy.
"Well, as long as you're happy with him," Evan said, trying not to laugh at Jason's face.
"I'm going to clean up in the back," the boy grumbled, clearly tired of listening to the other two.
Sascha watched him leave with amusement.
"Guess he's not too fond of you," Sascha said, picking up the large pumpkin that had been left on the counter.
"He likes you though," Evan told the florist, moving to take the pumpkin from his hands. "Where do you want this?"
"Just put it anywhere on the display," Sascha pointed to the space filled with fall colored flowers, pumpkins and decorations that adorned the front windows.
"It looks nice," Evan praised, standing back to look at the display.
"Thank you, Jason helped. We're hoping it'll draw more customers," Sascha said, straightening out a few things on the window.
"Business hasn't picked up?"
"It has, mostly because Jason's around to deliver things now, but, well, things aren't great," Sascha admitted, looking away.
The florist didn't like talking about his financial problems, especially not with Evan. He didn't want the other man to be bothered, no matter how many times Evan said it was fine.
"I'm not closing the shop yet though, so there's no need to worry," he reassured, and his smile was a little less bright. "So, how's work going for you? You said you've been busy," he changed the subject.
Evan let him, if only because it might distract Sascha for a while. So he told him about his day and the things he was working on. He told Sascha amusing stories about work and generally just tried to make him laugh.
If Evan was honest with himself, he would admit that he was still attracted to Sascha, maybe even more than before. He knew that the first time he saw Sascha, he had only focused on the way he looked, but after getting to know him, he found he genuinely liked the florist. But it was still hard to see him as a man, or rather, Evan didn't want to do so. As much as Evan liked Sascha - or rather, because he liked him so much - he didn't think it would be smart to start a relationship with him. Sascha was sweet and Evan didn't want him to be disillusioned when he decided he couldn't be with a man after all, but he still couldn't help but want to do what he could to aid the florist.
Sascha looked a bit happier by the time Jason walked back into the front area of the shop, already wearing his jacket.
"Sascha, I'm leaving," he told the florist.
"Alright, please be careful on your way home," Sascha said cheerfully.
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Jason grumbled, but Evan could see he wasn't really bothered by the attention.
"I'll give you a ride home if you want," he offered. Jason looked like he wanted to decline, but seemed to reconsider.
"Fine," he agreed.
"I'm leaving my bike here," he said, and Sascha assured him he'd take it to the back before he locked up.
"See you later, Sascha," Evan said, as he walked to the door with Jason.
And as soon as they were outside Jason started with his smart mouth comments.
"You're such a showoff," he said. "Sascha, wasn't it good I brought Jason? Sascha, aren't I so nice to give Jason a ride? Sascha, don't you just want to kiss my face off?" he mocked, using a girlish sounding voice. Evan just rolled his eyes at the boy.
"Is that what you think, Jay?" Evan said, smirking as they both climbed into his car.
"Shut up, he just started calling me that," the boy snapped.
"And you didn't bother to stop him," the man countered.
"His name's Sascha, I figured I should be happy the worse it gets for me is Jay," Jason shrugged.
"Don't make fun of Sascha," Evan said absentmindedly.
"I'm not, but his name's pretty girly, you have to admit it. It's probably why people always confuse him for one. Well, that and his face," Jason said. And Evan really couldn't deny that.
"Anyway, why are you still bothering him? I didn't think you were into guys."
"I'm not," and that was all Evan would say about that because he was not discussing his love life and sexual preferences with a teenager.
"But you like Sascha," Jason insisted.
"He's a friend," and Evan took full advantage of the red light to glare at Jason. Not that it did anything to deter him from continuing to comment.
"Didn't you ask him out?" and now Jason sounded absolutely gleeful.
"I thought he was a girl," Evan sighed. Jason snorted out a laugh.
"Can't blame you, he'd be hotter if he was a girl and had boobs though," the teenager said matter of factly.
Evan tried very hard not to think about that because it wasn't that hard to imagine and it would lead to very bad thoughts.
"Oh look, we're almost home, now shut up," he told Jason.
Jason laughed at him, but at the very least he wasn't talking. It was a definite improvement and Evan had to wonder if the boy was that bad when he was working with Sascha. He was very grateful when he was able to park his car in front of their building and part ways with Jason
It was a few days after Evan had last seen Sascha, and he was thinking about stopping by, since it was Saturday. He didn't really have anything better to do, and he was curious about how things were going with Jason. Evan was honestly surprised that the boy hadn't complained too much about working at Sascha's shop.
Lazily, Evan stood and got ready for the day ahead, dressing casually but warmly to fend off the cold Autumn wind. After eating a bit of breakfast and making sure he had his keys and wallet, Evan headed out. And then promptly stopped when he found a flier with the rest of his mail, and not just any flier.
"What the hell?"
He stared down at the piece of paper in his hand slightly surprised, because there was a very nice picture of a Halloween themed flower arrangement and a few sentences describing what was available in the shop. The name "Clover" was written in elegant letters along with the address and phone number of the place. The page was simple, but nicely organized and the arrangement that had been chosen was very nice. Evan just wondered how Sascha had managed to make the ad, with all the other things he was busy with. After folding it neatly, Evan pocketed the flier and continued on his way to the shop.
Evan was glad when he finally arrived, and was content to enter the warm store with it's pleasant scent of flowers and colorful displays. Sascha glanced up when he heard the bell chime, announcing someone's arrival, and smiled at Evan before turning his attention back to the customer he was tending to. Behind the man paying for a bouquet of flowers in Autumn tones were three other people, awaiting their turn to pay for their purchases and Evan could honestly say that he was surprised. He stood to one side, admiring the Halloween decorations Sascha had put up while he waited for him to be done with the customers.
There was just one more person left and Evan was already distracted by an arrangement of bright orange flowers shaped like a pumpkin. Still, he couldn't help but hear what the man at the counter had to say.
"Your name's Sascha, huh?"
Evan looked back at the man who had spoken, a bit incredulous, because he knew that tone of voice. It was the same one he used when he was trying to pick up girls.
"It's pretty," the guy went on, ignoring the fact that Sascha didn't seem to be interested.
"Thank you, and I'm sure whoever receives these flowers will have a beautiful name as well," Sascha said with his usual smile, handing the man a bouquet of bright pink flowers.
"Oh, well, they're for my mom," and Evan almost laughed because even he had been able to come up with a better story.
"Then you should probably give them to her as soon as you can," apparently the guy recognized Sascha's words for what they were and left after paying, looking offended.
"I'd say you just lost a customer," Evan commented, walking up to the counter. Sascha laughed and leaned on the counter.
"It's okay, he's the type of customer I wouldn't miss," he said. "So what are you doing wasting your weekend in a flower shop?" he asked jokingly.
Evan grinned and reached into his pocket, pulling out the ad he had received that morning.
"You did a pretty good job with the fliers," he said, handing the paper to Sascha. The florist looked confused as he unfolded the paper and read what was on it.
"Where did you get this?" he asked Evan.
"It was with the rest of my mail this morning, why? Didn't you have Jason put it there?" Sascha shook his head.
"No, I didn't make these, I'm actually pretty bad with this type of thing," he admitted.
"So then, it must have been Jason," Evan realized, brow raising.
And at the same time the bell chimed as the shop's door opened and Jason walked in with wind ruffled hair and cheeks red from the cold. He stopped at the doorway when he found both of the men inside staring at him.
"What?" he asked, confused.
"Jay, did you make this?" Sascha asked, holding up the flier.
Jason took one look at the paper and scowled.
"Yeah, but that was supposed to be a surprise," he muttered as he looked away, and Evan could swear he was blushing.
"Next time don't leave one for me then, it's not like I don't know about this shop," Evan pointed out.
"I was distracted!" Jason argued, turning back to Sascha. "And you shouldn't let him stay here if he's not buying anything," and he pointed at Evan who looked decidedly unimpressed.
Sascha just smiled warmly at him, already used to his ways and still holding the flier.
"I really like this, thank you, but you didn't have to go through the trouble," he said.
"I didn't make it just because I wanted to, it was a project for my computer class. It turned out good though, so I thought I might as well pass some out," he shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant.
It was still pretty obvious that he was pleased with the praise and Evan was actually impressed with how good the flier looked.
"Still, I really appreciate it. And, I think you probably got us some new customers," Sascha told Jason cheerfully.
"Pfft, you don't have to tell me that," Jason said, walking over to a stool to sit. "I've had five deliveries today and it's Saturday. I kind of wish I hadn't made the stupid thing," he said, glaring at the paper on the counter and making Sascha laugh.
"You can go home if you want, it's almost closing time anyway," Sascha offered and Jason perked up at once.
"Great, I'll see you Monday then," and he was out the door in a minute, probably wanting to leave before he had to go out to deliver flowers again.
"Well, he was in a hurry to leave," Evan commented. Sascha just shrugged.
"It's Saturday and he's a teenager, I'm sure he has things he wants to do," he said, walking out from behind the counter to straighten out a display of potted plants.
Evan watched Sascha distractedly, not realizing he was staring(particularly at Sascha's rear, but he blamed that on a reflex created after years of chasing potential dates) until Sascha spoke, and then he hurriedly moved his gaze to a higher level.
"What was that?" he asked. Sascha gave him an odd look, fortunately not having noticed Evan's staring.
"I just asked how things were going for you at work," he said.
"Oh, they're fine, just the usual boring stuff," Evan said, leaning back on the counter. "Why do you ask?"
Sascha shrugged, moving over to pick up a few small scattered leaves on the floor.
"No reason, it's just you always ask about my work, but you never really talk about yours," he said, reaching over the counter to toss the leaves in the trash bin.
"Because my work is boring," Evan informed him, and he really doubted Sascha would want to hear about what he did at his job.
"But if you really want to talk about it maybe we can go get a cup of coffee or something," and he regretted those words as soon as they had left his mouth, because Sascha stopped and looked at Evan with surprise before averting his gaze.
"Evan, I don't think that's a good idea," he started.
"I know, sorry, I didn't mean it like that," Evan tried to explain, but he didn't really know why he had even made the offer. "Listen, you know I didn't really mean anything by it, I just got carried away."
"Yeah, I know, it's okay," Sascha said, smiling faintly.
There was an awkward silence between them for a while, with Sascha trying to keep from looking at Evan and the other man desperately wishing he hadn't said anything.
"I should start cleaning up before closing," Sascha said, and Evan didn't need to hear anything else to know Sascha wanted him to leave.
"Yeah, I should probably leave," the man said.
Sascha nodded and Evan didn't say anything else before walking out of the shop. The florist let out a tired sigh as he watched Evan walk off.
He knew Evan hadn't meant anything by asking him out, he'd only wanted to talk, as friends, but it was just too much like the time the man had asked him out only to reject him. It still hurt, if he was honest with himself, to know that the reason Evan didn't want him was because of something he couldn't help, but it wouldn't be the first time and Sascha doubted it would be the last.
The florist finished cleaning the shop and closed soon after.