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Say It With Flowers (Or Piano Keys)

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Chapter 1 – Blue Periwinkle

 

It’s seven o’clock on a Monday morning.

Thin rays of sunlight filtered by the window and hit Bruno Bucciarati’s sleeping face, gently waking him up just a few minutes before the noisy sound of his alarm would start blaring through the warm summer air.

He slowly got out of bed, briefly running his fingers through the messy curtain of hair that covered his forehead and pattered to the kitchen to make some breakfast. A strong cup of espresso and a home-made croissant, nothing better to start the day with.

Thirty-five minutes and a brief shower later, Bruno was ready to leave for work, he grabbed his keys and his phone from the small table by the door and made his way to the flower shop at the end of the street he lives on.

It was already past rush hour and he had all the time to take in the warm morning air and avoid the noises the busy street would have offered a few minutes prior.

He unlocked the front door, slipping his keys in the bowl at the back of the counter, opened the shutter, the windows, and took the flowerpots out, displaying them on the sidewalk. He then spent the last fifteen minutes before opening his shop by watering the plants and turning on the LED grow lights.

 

A few hours later the brunet was sitting on a stool behind the counter, working the weekly registry, brows knitted together and a pencil tucked behind his ear.

Crunching numbers was definitely not the best part of his job.

Overall it had been a quiet morning, the only people who showed up had been two old ladies, the postman and the delivery boy, carrying heavy boxes with the shop’s daily orders.

During downtimes at work Bruno loved to draw flower compositions and bigger projects for gardens makeovers on his now-almost-complete sketchbook. He’s got plenty of books filled with drawings, ideas and new designs. Ideas and projects that will never see the light of day, probably. Maybe because too ambitious, too imaginative and not for easy costumers, that have the tendency to go for more streamlined designs and simpler decorations.

It was almost twelve o’clock when Bruno heard the tiny bell over the door ring. The florist closed his sketchbook, putting it down in the counter’s drawer and leaned over to see who’s entering.

A tall man with large shoulders, probably in his thirties came through the door, pale skin and silver hair striking against violet eyes and dark lashes. He was wearing a dark violet shirt, black skinny jeans and a pair of shiny black oxford shoes.

At that point Bruno recognized him as a frequent costumer that often came into his shop. Every three days he would make his appearance and he would always pick up a different bouquet of flower. Sometimes he would ask for something specific and sometimes he’d just pick up one of those already made ones that Bruno liked to arrange himself every morning, then he’s pay and go on his way. Bruno was somehow intrigued by the behaviour of this nameless, mysterious and silent stranger, but he had made peace with the fact that he’d probably never know his name. He’s just one of those extremely discreet clients who didn’t want to talk at all, except for asking a few pointed questions about plants, flowers and prices.

“Good morning. How can I help?” Bruno offered cracking a smile and getting up from the stool.

“I… I need a flower bouquet.” The man replied, fidgeting with the hem of his coat.

“Of course, sir. Which flowers do you want this time?” Bruno’s eyes brightened. It’s one of those days then.

“Uhm- Orchids, I guess. White and violet. And, uh… two white roses in the centre.”

“Wonderful choice. It’ll be ready in a couple minutes.” The florist immediately disappeared between the shelves, searching for the flowers the man requested. He then returned at the counter, fresh flowers in his gloved hands.

His girlfriend must be a very lucky woman, if he always brings her all these flowers, Bruno thought to himself.

“Here we go, your bouquet sir.” Bruno said, placing the flower arrangement on the counter.

“That would be eighteen euros.”  

“Of course, here.” the man replied, producing a few notes from an old black leather wallet.

“Good day, sir.” He said, and in a blink of an eye he was already out of the door.

“Good day.” Bruno just stared after him for a couple more seconds then sighed and got back to his registry.

 

 

***

 

 

The following Saturday Bruno woke up earlier than usual so, after having his usual breakfast, he made the decision to go out for a walk in his favourite park, the one closest to the beach. The breeze coming from the sea was cool, and it was shaking the needles of the cluster pines which ran all along the perimeter of the park. Bruno drew a deep breath, inhaling and exhaling with his mouth opened, like he was trying to taste the crisp air around him.

As he walked through the park and in the direction of the flower shop he stopped at his favourite bakery and bought some sandwiches for lunch, he smiled at the young girl behind the register and humming a song he had stuck in his mind for quite a while he made his way to work.

He pointedly decided that he was going to open at 7.30 that day. He felt particularly happy, for no specific reason, but he had this feeling in his gut that that was going to be a great day.

 

Since having opened earlier than usual, the first two hours were pretty empty, and Bruno spent them working on his sketchbook, rearranging the pots on display and reordering the fertilizers and the few items he needed for storage.

It was almost ten when the doorbell rang and someone entered. Bruno poked his head into the shop from where he was standing in the backroom and immediately saw the two couples of men standing in front of the counter.

“I had no doubt you’d be here, Bruno. Never a day off, uh?” the blonde one exclaimed.

A handsome young man with bright green eyes and pale skin, he wore his hair in a soft braid and his bangs were styled in three little curls resting atop of his forehead. He was wearing a bright pink leather jacket with a heart-shaped neckline and a white tank top tucked in a pair of high waisted blue jeans.

“Giorno, what a surprise! I see you brought Mista, Fugo and Narancia with you.” Bruno said, rounding the counter to come and greet his friends.

“Well Mista had to come with me, these two just decided to tag along ‘cause they missed you” he winked, nodding at the two guys standing behind him.

“Plus we’re here because Mista and I have a tiiiiny tiny request for you.” Giorno said, reaching out to sneak an arm around the man at his side, a tall brunet in a blue crop top t-shirt and a pair of loud red tiger-striped pants.

Behind them stood Narancia and Fugo, the other couple of his group of friends.

Narancia was probably the smallest of all of them, slender, with amethyst eyes and a mop of ever-tangled black hair tied together with a bright orange bandana. He was talking about something with his hands tucked in a pair of black skinny jeans, worn with a tight fitted black tank top.

Fugo was his clear opposite, tall and lean with blond hair and dressed in a colourful green suit and an unbuttoned white dress shirt underneath.

“Uh uh, it’s never something tiny when you look at me with that face” Bruno said, raising an eyebrow at Giorno.

“So tell me, what is it?” he then asked curiously.

“Well, we actually need your skills as an amazing flower designer because I-huh… I proposed to Mista two days ago and he said yes so w-”

“We’re engaged!” Mista completed Giorno’s phrase calmly smiling, reaching out to place a kiss on the reddened cheek of the blonde beside him.

“What?!” Fugo, Bruno and Narancia all exclaimed in unison, completely amazed by the news.

“Yes, we wanted to wait until we all got together to tell you but yeah. The other night we were taking a walk down the beach and suddenly Giorno is on one knee and he just popped the question. I can’t believe we’re actually gonna get married!” Mista explained excitedly, grabbing Giorno by the waist and kissing him hard, almost making him loose his balance and fall on the nearest flowerpot.

“That’s why we wanted you and your stunning compositions to decorate every inch of the wedding hall and the location for the reception” Giorno said, beaming in Bruno’s direction.

“That would be a pleasure for me guys. Let me know any colour scheme, patterns, everything you have in mind and I’ll start sketching something as soon as I-” Bruno answered smiling, before getting interrupted by Narancia screaming voice.

“Please let Fugo and I be your bridesmaids, I can’t wait to wear the dress Mista will chose for me!” Narancia said, his eyes sparkling with joy.

“Oh shut up Nara, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna wear a bridesmaid dress.” Fugo said with a clear hint of disagreement.

“We were actually thinking about asking you all to be our best men but don’t worry Narancia, we can make you our bridesmaid and order a stunning dress just for you if you really want.” Mista chuckled, only Narancia could pull off one of those puffy bridesmaid dresses and still look good.

“Maybe Fugo’s not okay with that because you’ll look so damn hot you could be approached by our lesbian friends” Giorno laughed and Fugo just scoffed back.

 

Fugo had always been kind of hard to read as a person. Quiet, used to keeping things for himself and often inclined to loose his temper in wink, regardless the importance of the matter in discussion.

Narancia was his clear opposite in personality as well: always with a smile on his face and of quick wit, cheerful and full of energy.

From outside they both looked too different to even be friends with one-another, but even with such different personalities they completed each other beautifully. No one in the group ever thought they could have fallen in love, but it happened, and the way they loved each other was something anyone could see even if not able to understand it fully.

In comparison, the relationship Mista and Giorno had was one someone could have easily seen in a classic rom-com movie.

Handsome easy-going guy meets shy and stunningly beautiful man and they fall in love almost instantly.

Bruno had introduced them years prior when they were all still in college, Giorno was Bruno's roommate at the time and Mista just happened to drop by to ask for a book to borrow.

It took Mista six more visits (each time with a more useless excuse that the one before) to finally ask Giorno out on a date and, since then, they've been hopelessly in love with each other like no-one Bruno had ever seen before.

Now it was time for them to finally take the next step and get married.

“Well this absolutely calls for celebration. Tonight at my place, I can cook dinner and we can pop open a bottle of champagne. What do you guys think?” Bruno offered, clapping his hands together.

“Well, I think we can all agree it would be really dumb of us to refuse a chance to enjoy your fine ass cuisine.” Mista exclaimed, stomach already grumbling at the thought of Bruno’s homemade pasta or a platter of his kick ass roast.

“Oh, you betcha!” the other three exclaimed almost in unison.

“Okay then. Does eight sound good?” Bruno asks, mentally preparing a list of groceries to pick up on his way home.

“I can’t wait mom , thank you” Giorno winked with a smirk on his face.

 

Bruno had always had this thing for taking care of them, whether it was by making them all dinner or by bringing their medicine when one of them felt sick. Eventually they had all started to joke about him being the “Mom Friend” of the group and now it had become his official nickname.

Suddenly the moment was interrupted by the familiar ding of bell above the door, and the familiar silver haired costumer entered the shop. Silence fell between the group, all too focused on watching the new arrival. His eyes seemed empty, lethargic almost, and he looked like he was in some sort of trance.

"Good morning. I-uhh I need a bouquet of flowers...I was thinking ten white roses this time? Thank you"

He was fidgeting with his hands, barely looking at Bruno in the eyes. Something was definitely off about him but Bruno did not have the gut nor the confidence to ask him about it.

"Sure, I'll be right with you" he just answered, making his way behind the counter to collect the requested flowers.

Meanwhile Giorno, Mista, Fugo and Narancia all subtly glanced at the silver haired man in front of them, trying not to get caught and busy with planning the reception for the wedding.

Bruno was back in the blink of an eye, wrapping the roses first in cellophane then in lilac tissue paper. He dared to steal a look at the man in front of him who was busy looking at somewhere in the distance, surely lost in his own thoughts. He was indeed of a rare beauty, his features were sharp but smoothed over by time, his jaw squared but the lines of his cheekbones soft and full, his lips looked soft and his skin smooth of any lines.

His violet eyes were looking away from him, brows knitted together and his forehead wrinkled in a permanent frown for God know what thoughts in his mind.

“Here you go, that would be 35 euros” The man just hands him a few notes in silence.

“Thank you, have a nice day!” Bruno replies cheerful.

When the man finally directed his gaze at Bruno after pick up the bouquet the florist was able to see his eyes up close for the first time. They were the most beautiful shade of purple, warm and bright that faded in a golden hue, just around the outside of his iris and Bruno was struck.

But as quickly as they met, they were gone, shaded by long dark lashes. The man tucked a strand of hair behind his ear and turned to face the door.

"Thank you, bye". he replied coldly, exiting the shop.

They all looked as the stranger left, silence still surrounding all of them.

“Sorry to be the one to say it out loud but did you take a look at his ass? My God, Bruno, you should’ve told me that your shop is frequented by men as hot as hell.” Narancia said abruptly, while a jealous Fugo glared at him, the other three men burst out laughing.

At that Bruno slightly blushed because yes, even if he kept it professional around him he did notice that young man was indeed really hot, even though he was a client he barely knew and probably not even interested in men at all.

The group all laughed and as quickly as they stopped, they resumed their planning for the upcoming wedding.

 

 

***

 

 

It was almost seven in the evening and Bruno had still a bunch of things to finish up before his friends were supposed to be there. They had agreed to meet at around eight and he couldn't afford to be behind schedule: it was going to be an important evening for all of them, two of his best friend were getting married after all and the dinner he was hosting for them was supposed to be perfect in every detail.

The caprese salad and the octopus and potatoes antipasto were ready to be served, while the pasta for the spaghetti allo scoglio was cooking away, ready for the finishing touches and from the oven the smell of baked sea bass and herbs filled the entire kitchen.

The table was beautifully set, a white tablecloth with a subtle flower pattern was background for the light green napkins. Light blue designer plates and shining silver cutlery, an inheritance from his grandmother, were perfectly placed in front of both wine and water glasses.

In the middle of the table three bottles of Pinot Grigio wrapped in a thick green ribbon made for a makeshift centre piece.

Making sure that everything looked as perfect as he wanted to he couldn't help but smile, thinking about the evening to come and the plans for Giorno and Mista's wedding.

Knowing that his best friend wanted him to take care of the flowers for their special day filled his heart with sheer happiness.

 

The boys arrived, oddly enough, right on time, just while Bruno was busy taking the grilled sea bass out of the oven.

Dinner was exquisite always, Bruno was a magician in the kitchen and everyone ate until the bellies were full and the pants’ buttons popped open.

Between chatting and the number of toasts in honor of the soon-to-be newlyweds, the five of them opted to move to the spacious terrace that the florist had just finished refurnishing a couple of weeks before.

Stepping through the glass sliding door, two wicker sofas completed with white pillows were the centre of attention, followed by the low wooden table finely decorated with a set of three tangerine and green tea candles.

Everything was surrounded by the most beautiful greenery only someone like Bruno could have achieved: vines of wisteria wrapped around the wooden beams, the wrought iron railings sported an intricate pattern of Ivy, all while a stream of white fairy lights gave the entire room a subtle warm glow.

"Fuck, Bruno this is stunning! How long did it take you to decorate the entire terrace? It's beautiful really." said Mista, enthralled by the harmonies of lights, flowers and smells.

"Actually a little less than a month, even though working with the wisteria was a pain in the ass. I was thinking about maybe adding a vase or two of hydrangeas, I don't know, it feels like something's missing..." he trailed off, looking around.

They sat down on the white cushions and quickly drained off the last bottle of wine.

"It's weird, if you would have told us five years ago that we'd be here, now, we would have laughed our asses off. Our lovebirds are finally getting married and Bruno's shop is thriving!" quipped Narancia, after a moment of peaceful silence.

"To be honest I thought they would get hitched sooner, they have been basically married since like forever? I have to say, I almost thought Giorno was going to serenade Mista as a proposal." Fugo winked, stretching his arm behind Narancia and pulling him in.

"Well I did serenade him... just not in public" Giorno answered, looking behind the rim of his glass.

"So it was basically a lap dance more than a romantic serenade, we get it" Narancia teased, leaning into Fugo's touch, relaxing against the taller man.

"Not that I had any complaint about it" Mista just laughed, smirking at his fiancé.

"In my defense it did begin as a serenade, but you know how it works, it takes me one look from him to make me lose it." Giorno replied "Speaking of marriage, are you two gonna tie the knot any time soon?"

"We actually haven't thought about it but I don't really think marriage is for us really. Not any time soon at least. We have so much stuff we want to do and to try out, even to keep the relationship open at one point but I guess we'll see what life throws at us, right babe?" Narancia explained, looking up at Fugo to check his expression.

“Yeah, I’ve always wanted to test mine and Narancia’s limits when it comes to sex and relationships. It’s the fact that we love and trust each other so much that makes me want to try everything we can together. Plus, I’m sure as hell this little pervert has a dirtier mind than mine.” Fugo smirked. 

Their relationship was in perfect sync, whatever were the circumstances.

“What about you, Bruno? Will we ever finally see you with someone?”.

“Wait… what about that Risotto guy you were dating last year? You’ve never told us why you guys broke up and I’m pretty sure you’ve never even introduced us.” Giorno asked curiously.

Bruno briefly choked on his own spit, twirling the last of the wine in his glass and avoiding Giorno’s gaze. He was expecting that question sooner or later, he had just hoped the later was not going to be so soon.

“Well… you know how it is, I guess I’m just not as lucky with relationships as you guys are. Risotto was more like a friend with benefit I guess…? I don’t really know what it was, he was definitely not my type, at least not the type of person I see myself for the long run with, this is for sure.” Bruno answered fidgeting with his glass.

He didn’t really want to talk about Risotto Nero and if he had been given the chance he would have loved to erase the memory of the man completely from his life. They were all bad memories and the cause of too many trust issues he now had when meeting new people, and there was no room for that that night.

“Yes, I remember you mentioning him! Didn’t you guys date for, like, two months? Was it really that bad? You did show us a pic of him, didn’t you?” Mista replied, trying to piece together the features of the man in question.

“Yeah, but… I didn’t introduce him to you guys because I knew you wouldn’t like him. I… uh, just tried to be with him but he was not the person I thought he was, that’s all.” Bruno said, hoping that that would be enough to make them drop the topic.

“Well you can always ask out one of the hotties that come through you shop can’t you? At worst you get dinner and lose a costumer” Narancia said giggling.

“Narancia, I can’t have relationships or sex with one of my clients, it’s not professional. Plus, if someone spreads rumors around that I sleep with costumers I’d lose credibility” Bruno sighed. “Not everyone is so open minded like us. Plus, you guys know I’m terrible at flirting and wouldn’t even know what to say. I think I’ll just wait for the right person to show up.” The florist replied, chugging down the last sip of wine.

“But you can’t wait forever, Bruno.” Giorno said. Bruno was his best friend and even if he didn’t like to show it he knew that being alone while his friends were in happy relationships was something that pained him.

“I know, I know. I guess it’s not my turn yet.” He shrugged. “By the way, weren’t we celebrating something happier than my romantic life?” Bruno said, finally hoping to leave the topic behind for good.

“Yeah, you’re right, Bruno. A toast for the future husbands!” Fugo exclaimed, popping open the bottle of Prosecco brought by him and Narancia.

“More wine? Guys I have to work tomorrow!” Giorno groaned, he was going to be so hung over.

 

It was near two a.m. when the guys left Bruno’s apartment and the young man finally made his way to his bed, leaving all the clean-up to the next day. He loosened his braid and slipped into his pyjamas, crawling underneath the bed sheets and finally going to sleep.

 

 

***

 

 

Sundays mornings were usually made for sleeping in but not for Bruno, even though his head felt heavier than usual due to the wine drank the night before.

With as much energy as he could muster he slid out of bed, crawling to the bathroom to fix his hair and brush his teeth.

In just under a couple of hours the dishes were made and the floor cleaned, as if there hadn't been people over to begin with.

Around ten his stomach reminded him that it was probably time to grab some breakfast and being too lazy to actually cook something to himself he got dressed and made his way to the nearest coffee shop for a warm cup of cappuccino.

He sat down at one of the table in the front, opting for enjoying the fresh air and while he waited of his order, he fished his sketchbook from his bag, starting to outline a few shapes and ideas for Mista and Giorno's wedding.

Soon he'd lost the sense of time and it had been almost midday when he finally got up to pay and head back.

He was ready to go back home when he was remind of the date.

It had almost been a whole year since his last visit, his sense of guilt reminded him.

Not that the florist particularly liked to go to the cemetery, but nonetheless it was something he felt like he had to do at least once a year.

Bruno didn't have many happy memories from his childhood, especially after his parents got divorced when the was just ten years old.

He choose to stay with his father, at the time the man needed him more than his ex-wife did, already happy with another man and another family to take care of.

 

He tucked his hand in his pockets and slowly walked through the gate.

 

“Hello, Father. I hope you’re doing well” the young man said, standing in front of the grey tombstone with the name Paolo Bucciarati engraved on. No matter how many times he came he never knew exactly how to behave.

He didn’t really have much left to say to his father, something deep in his gut knew he had to come and pay his respect but being there always made him feel uneasy.

He then busied himself with changing the faded arrangement of fake plastic flowers on headstone with new ones and if he hadn’t been completely inappropriate he would have laughed at the irony: a florist bringing fake flowers to the cemetery, funny isn’t it? But he didn’t want to spend more time that he had to in that place, it made him uncomfortable and terribly sad, but the more he tried to forget the more he felt guilty about it.

Not that he really had anything to feel guilty about, his father couldn’t have been the farthest from a great parent but still… conscience was too loud to be ignored.

 

Twenty minutes and a quick sweep of leaves later, Bruno was ready to be over with it and go back home.

On his way to the exit, he spotted a familiar figure between the graves: the same tall figure, the same long silver hair and a black shirt. He was kneeled in front of a marble headstone, holding a bouquet of white roses.

Bruno was not close enough to tell but… was he crying?

Suddenly, the other man raised his head and the curtain of silver hair revealed the familiar face and Bruno recognized the silent man who comes into his shop three times a week.

His dawn-coloured eyes stared empty in front of him lost in his own thoughts, but he was not crying. He just looked… lost.

He wondered for a while if he should go and say hi to him, despite the awkwardness he was a pretty regular client, it would’ve been rude of Bruno not to greet him.

Maybe he needed some help, maybe he’d recently lost someone close to him, a relative or a parent?

Was that the reason behind his visits at Bruno’s shop?

The more he stared at the stranger the more questions he had about him and at that point, Bruno started walking.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2 – Chrysanthemums

 

Leone Abbacchio, the mysterious man with purple eyes, was not at all the person Bruno did imagine.

He was pretty lonely, the kind of guy with no friends, no parents left and no close relatives.

He was indeed the discreet and silent type, expressing his thoughts trough simple and well-constructed words.

Well except when alcohol, weed and cocaine came into play.

He hadn’t always been like that, once upon a time his life had been different, he had been different once. And happy.

But after everything that happened and everything he did to himself and to others, he even ended up convincing himself that he was no longer allowed to be happy.

After the incident, after Aurelio…nothing was going to let him rest enough to even think about what happiness felt like anymore.

 

Not right now Leone.

Not. Right. Now.

 

***

 

Leone’s morning hadn’t started in the best way, he had spent at least thirty minutes trying to find a clean cup in his mess of a kitchen, and another fifteen to remember where he put the coffee ground the last time he had used them.

After a quick shower and a good ten minutes spent on detangling his mess of hair the slipped into his clothes and rushed out the door.

Not that he had anywhere to go, no job, no family to visit, but it was the third day and he had his flowers to pick up.

Making his way to the usual flower shop he had grown used to visit, he briefly glanced at the people passing by, running off to work or to run the errands for the day. He wondered if one day he would be one of those people who had a routine and actually enjoyed following it to a tee.

It must grow boring sooner or later, but oddly enough the feeling of boredom, if associated with a quit and content lifestyle, was something Leone wouldn’t mind.

The longing in his heart was brief, quickly dismissed by the grip of his guilt, whispering to his own self.

You’re not worthy of it.

 

Leone shook his head and tucked his hand deeper in the pocket of his jeans.

A little girl rushed by holding the leash to a very excited puppy, she was wearing a crisp white summer dress and laughed at the wagging tail of her furry friend.

I want white roses today, he thought.

 

***

 

The bell above the doors dinged and Leone ordered without looking up at the person in front of him, busy being lost in the shades and shapes of the flowers on display. They changed every time and he could almost swear he had never seen the same arrangement twice since he’s become a regular costumer.

“It’ll be ready in a couple of minutes” the voice behind him pulled him out of his own head and he finally turned around.

On the other side of the counter the young black-haired man was working quietly and Leone took a moment to actually look at him while he’s waiting for his bouquet to be ready.

He had a short sleek bob with a long fringe and a little braid on the top of his head, held in place by two perfectly symmetric golden clips.

He looked slightly shorter than him, his figure slender but muscular, by what he could make out from the flower shop uniform, which consisted of a light blue apron with the logo printed on it, a crisp white shirt, teal pants and black loafers.

But it’s when the other lifted his head from where he was wrapping the flower in tissue paper that Abbacchio noticed that the young man in front of him had the deepest blue eyes he had ever seen, the shade of the early morning sky when it’s summer and you’re sitting by the beach looking out into the deep water.

His gaze had something about it, something magnetic but peaceful at the same time.

Leone didn’t really know how to describe the feeling the florist’s eyes made bubble up in his stomach, he only knew it made him feel warm.

Not that the he had to actually to put a name to it, of course, he barely knew him after all.

 

Once he’s done and Leone had paid he quickly got out of the shop and made his way to his usual stop, the cemetery.

He slowly walked through the rows and rows of graves, head hung low and flowers tightly clutched to his chest.

 

He stopped in front of the usual headstone, black marble and gold lettering staring back at him, he kneeled down and with the utmost care, he laid the bouquet of flower at its base.

His head still down, the long silver hair cascading around it, shading his face and hiding his expression of grief.

He just sat there for the following couple of hours, kneeling in front of a silent stone with no light left in his eyes.

 

***

 

When he did finally get up he lets his hand linger on the cold marble, fingertips barely grazing the smooth surface of the stained glass that covered the fading picture at the top, years of sun and rain having ruined the once clear photograph.

Coming there always hurt, no matter what.

But he had to, he absolutely had to.

He could not allow himself to forget, ever. Everything was his fault, there was no-one to blame but himself.

If only he had decided not to risk it...

He can't think about it, not now.

That's what convinced him to make his way to the bar located a mere ten minutes from the graveyard, ne needs a cold beer and to forget.

Just one beer this time. Just one he promises himself.

Just one.

 

 ***

 

Three p.m.: Bourbon on the rocks.

Three thirty p.m.: Two shots of rum.

Four p.m.: A White Russian. Why not?

Five p.m.: Dry Gin.

He really can’t say no to that sweet, bitter flavour that spreads in his mouth like ambrosia.

Abbacchio scrambles out of the bar stool. He clings to the back of it and takes a couple of step, trying to walk straight.

It’s hard, fuck.

 

“W-where’s the restroom?” Leone shakingly asked to the barman.

“Just turn right, in the hallway next to the counter. Restroom’s at the end, on the left.” He answered, eyeing the way the silver haired man looked with a raised eyebrow.

“Thanks.”

Abbacchio was perfectly aware he was flat broke and the only things in his wallet were the receipt of the blue eyed guy flower shop and en expired coupon for God knows which store.

So the only thing he came up with was to make a run for it.

Once he got to the bathroom he locked the door behind him and unlocked the small window on top of the toilet.

He knew it was an easy way out, he had been there once before, two years prior, but back then he was not the one trying to run away.

He tried to muster up enough strength to climb out of the tiny window, Leone wasn't a huge guy but his large shoulders got stuck for a brief moment before finally giving way to his torso and small hips.

The window opened to a closed dead-end alley, he tried to aim for the opened trashcans, instead he landed flat on his ass on the cold ground, luckily no one was around to see him.

With the little lucidity left he wiped his shirt clean as best as he could and trying to not to attract to much attention he stumbled his way on the opposite side of the bar's entrance and made his way home.

 

It was almost six in the evening when Abbacchio arrived at his place, completely wasted.

He quickly toed off his shoes, shrugged off his shirt and pants and face planted onto the bed.

Lifting a heavy head from the pillow he lazily reached for his nightstand, grabbing what was left of a joint, lighting it up almost mechanically.

He inhaled a lungful of smoke and watched as the grey cloud swirled in front of his eyes, limbs tingling and eyelids growing heavy, he puffed out what was left from his nose and before he could notice he was asleep.

However, that feeble feeling of peacefulness didn't last long.

As usual he was quickly enveloped by his nightmares, a string of confused figures flashed before his eyes, his body heavy and he felt like he couldn't breathe, fears and horrors he kept hidden deep within himself dragging him down to swallow him whole.

 

***

 

When he woke up, abruptly and with a throbbing headache, it was well after midnight, probably around two a.m.

His vision was blurry but he could clearly make out the shape of the bottle of wine he had near his left hand, he looked down noticing he was wearing a pair of very wrinkled shorts and a stained t-shirt, probably from the food he had days prior.

When was the last time he ate something decent? He honestly could not remember.

He had a weird feeling, his body ached and his skin was cold and he could feel a light breeze brush against his face and his hair. His vision cleared a little and all he could see were tiny white spots all over - lights? - and he quickly realized he was laying on the pavement of his building's rooftop.

He had absolutely no idea how he managed to get here nor when he picked up a bottle of wine from the kitchen. He remembered smoking and falling asleep but then just...nothing, complete and utter darkness.

He felt panic rising in his throat, scared to get up from where he was sitting too close to the ledge, everything felt blurry and fear was clawing at his skin like he tried to hold onto him. 

He dragged himself as far away from the ledge as he could, too scared to actually get up and walk downstairs, too afraid his legs might give out and he would plummet to his death to the street below.

He held onto himself ad tears started streaming down his cheeks, his breath heavy as if he had just run for miles and miles.

 

“Why are you doing this to me? Are the flowers not enough? Isn't all this not enough?” He screamed into the void, throat burning and nails clawing at the skin of his forearms.

 

“You want me to jump don't you? That's why I'm here right?”.

Silence was the only answer he got back.

“I hate you, I hate all of this! I-” tight.

“I need-” His throat was tight.

“Please let me go, please I can't… keep going-” he was choking on his own words, tears blurring his vision as he sank his nails into his scalp, pulling at his hair in despair.

“I'm tired Aurelio, I'm so tired...”

Then, darkness.

 

Four twenty-four a.m.

Leone blinked one eye open, his back hurt and his body was twisted uncomfortably and laying on an odd surface, at the same time soft and hard as a rock.

He tried to move one arm and he felt something wet and gritty between his fingers.

Sand.

His vision was blurry and his head felt fuzzy, he sat up holding his head, hissing in pain from the pounding headache. He looked around and he quickly came to the conclusion that he was lying on the beach just down from his house, wet sand was sticking to his face and hair, the smell of salt water drying his nose and the cold hair prickled his skin.

Did he jump from the roof? No… that would be impossible, he would be dead by now, and death should feel better than how shitty he was feeling right then.

He sighed, asking himself how he got there was completely useless, not like he was going to remember it any time soon.

He suddenly felt his head spinning and before he could try and get up, he blacked out.

 

Five thirty-five am.

Abbacchio’s face was pressed against the wall of the building he lived in. At least He was on his floor, that much he could be sure of. It was time to go to bed, for real this time, his back hurt and there was something sticky in his hair.

But where was his apartment? He couldn’t find it, his keys looked all the same and his head was spinning.

He then decided to knock on one of his neighbour’s doors to ask for help.

 

“Where the fuck is everybody? I can’t find my home please someone help me!” Abbacchio yelled, grinning to himself at the same time.

Suddenly a man slammed open the door to his apartment and came out, angry faced and ready to punch Leone square in his face.

“Fuck you, Abbacchio! Go home and stop pissing everyone off! I can’t take this anymore! Do you understand, you fucking junkie?”

Leone just looked at him.

“No.” And burst out laughing.

 

The man lost his grip and gave to defenceless Abbacchio a kick in the stomach. The silver-haired man collapsed on himself, doubling over and exhaling violently for the pain. He tried to get up and fight back, but he was too weakened by the alcohol in his body. The older man grabbed him by the stained t-shirt and dragged him to his apartment’s door, then he kicked it open (Leone wasn’t used to locking his door because first, he’d always forget it and second, keys are complicated) and threw him inside.

He barely remembered the older man yelling a slur at him before he blacked out again.

 

It’s 4.15 pm when Abbacchio woke up with a severe and painful headache, and bruises scattered on his stomach.

Fuck, it happened again.

 

***

 

Abbacchio was relentlessly staring at the photo encased in the black polished marble. There, captured in a faded black and white photo was a young brown-haired man dressed in a police uniform, with light eyes and a calm, dignified expression on his face. 

Leone brushed his fingers against the picture and gently laid the flowers down on the tomb.

 

“I’m so sorry, Aurelio, so sorry I failed. It happened again. But it’s all my fault you know, like always. And I deserve it.” Said Leone, white hair cascading around his face and voice cracking slightly.

Tears were beginning to well up in his eyes, he felt a whimper come up from his stomach and he hardly managed to push it down.

Suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder that startled him.

 

“Oh- Sorry I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you alright?” He turned around.

Deep and welcoming sea-coloured eyes were staring back at him.

“Uh yes, yes, I am, I think. Sorry do I know you?” he asked, clearing his throat.

The brunet furrowed his brows in a confused expression at his question.

“Well yes, I think? At least you should know me I guess? I’m the owner of the flower shop remember? You usually come in every three days, right?” he cracked a smile and for a wink Leone felt weak in the knees.

An astonished look made its way in Leone’s eyes. 

“Uh Y-yeah, forgive me. I’m always really busy (lies, lies, lies) and sometimes (very often Leone) I… I don’t pay attention to people in front of me.” he stuttered.

Fuck, it was him, the florist. But his blurry alcoholic mind definitely forgot his face. And he definitely didn’t even know his name.

 

“Oh, I see" his smile faltered. Fuck me.

"Don’t worry. Maybe a name would be helpful for next time? (Try and remember it Leone) Should we happen to meet again anytime soon. I'm Bruno, Bruno Bucciarati" the florist offered him a hand, smile back on his lips.

“Nice to meet you. My name is Leone Abbacchio.” the silver-haired man replied still embarrassed, shaking hands with the florist. His skin was soft and felt warm under his touch.

“I was wondering actually, nowadays almost everyone goes for plastic flowers when it comes to this”, he vaguely gestured towards their surroundings, “they last longer and they’re way cheaper. It’s pretty curious and actually quite interesting to see you buy real flowers so frequently. Don't they feel wasted in a place as sad as this one?” the other man said, trying to strike a conversation.

 

At his question Leone froze. His jaw squared and his eyes grew cold, expression immediately changing from slightly embarrassed to a look of hurt.

“Real flowers won't make me forget. I need them to remind me, every day. Plastic is cold and heartless, and… for someone who makes business with these kind of places… you sure have a poor opinion of it, considering is a place where people come to mourn their loved ones" he almost spat his response.

 

"Now, if excuse me, I have things to do. Good day, Mr. Bucciarati.” And with that he stood up and walked away, leaving the florist there, face agape and hand halfway raised in a poor attempt to say goodbye to him.

 

***

 

Left by himself the brunet suddenly realized he had probably come across really indiscreet and he definitely did not have the familiarity to go and ask a stranger something like that.

And he was now pretty sure he had made an ass of himself to a man that was a regular costumer of his.

He planted his face in his hands and sighed.

And that’s how you lose clients, Bucciarati, good job.