Kurosawa remembers the day the flower shop came to fruition.
The movers are quick to unload the stuff before the owner arrives, who is as plain as he could have been. Nothing spectacular with the man who disembarks the taxi with common daisies he is holding on to tight, but there is something refreshing with how he smiles at the empty space, filled with nothing but pride.
Kurosawa looks down at his current pastries out for display and wonders if there are pieces he can part with, thinking that it would be polite to give the new tenant a warm welcome, if he were to start a friendship. He picks his best strawberry cream danishes, laying them down in his takeout box, and keeps it aside for later.
Across his bakery, the florist sets his daisies on the counter and starts unpacking.
Later that evening, when he has closed for the day, Kurosawa discovers that the florist’s name is Adachi Kiyoshi, and that his smile is as sweet as the pastries he brought over. To counter his kindness, Adachi gives him a quick bouquet of pink roses and gerberas, carefully wrapped in kraft paper and white ribbon.
“Is it okay?” Kurosawa asks, incredulous at the gesture.
Adachi nods. “It means thanks,” he says. “For the warm welcome.”
Kurosawa doesn’t want to admit that a part of his customers’ reason to visit him is mostly because of his face, but he does not dissuade potential customers by alienating them with his indifference. He tries to ensure that every bread and pastry he puts out is as delicious as he hopes them to be, but no one has ever told him that his creations are good, so he is half convinced to pack it up and move his store anywhere else, where maybe people can appreciate the work he puts into baking.
It is lucky that Adachi’s shop arrived on the cusp of Valentine’s day, especially with a street as busy as theirs. A lot of people go for pastries since chocolate can get too intense during the holidays, and he makes sure to have each wrapped with care. Rokkaku, his part-timer, already proves himself to be an important part of the team, since he has the patience and joy of a child — making sure that every person in line is accounted for, taking their orders in advance and helping Kurosawa pack them up to speed things up.
A good pair for the pastries would be flowers, Kurosawa thinks, and he looks across the street to affirm his thoughts. To his surprise, there’s hardly a line in the store, apart from a few scattered people browsing outside. Inside, Adachi timidly waits for people to enter, but most of them only pass through, to his dismay.
“That’s peculiar,” Kurosawa says out loud. Rokkaku turns to him, asking what is. “I’d assume people would line up in flower shops to buy their beloved flowers, but I guess chivalry is dead, huh?”
The lady in line giggles as Kurosawa passes her order over. “We’re not quite sure of the owner yet, so most decided to order elsewhere, I think.”
“That’s a waste, he’s already there!” Rokkaku pipes out, pointing at the flowers by the cash register. “Didn’t you get this from him, Kurosawa-san?”
It seems as though the entire shop is listening in on their conversation, with the ridiculous amount of oohs and ahhs over the bouquet. To keep the questions minimal, Kurosawa smiles and nods in response, giving the flowers a curious glance. “He said it meant thanks, so I guess he knows his hanakotoba well.”
The lady in line takes one curious glance more at the gerberas and declares, “Maybe I’ll get a stem or two for my mom.”
This decision has made their visit to the flower shop inevitable. Soon, people are lining up to get a bouquet of love or devotion from Adachi, who looks relatively overwhelmed by the sudden influx of customers. He takes one glance at Kurosawa, who smiles and reminds him to breathe by showing an exaggerated exhale, to which the florist follows suit.
He gets into his groove easily then, and every customer comes out surprised, albeit extremely pleased, flowers ranging from classic roses to peculiar canna lilies.
Kurosawa does not get a break from then on, with bulk orders and last minute ones plaguing each lady after the next. As soon as they close shop, he lets himself breathe for a second, before packing one cherry pastry pie for tomorrow, still warm from the oven, and walks over to the flower shop, where Adachi is closing up shop.
“Good work today,” Kurosawa says, completely startling the man. Adachi looks behind cautiously and sighs in relief when he sees it’s him. “Ah, I’m sorry—”
“No, it’s fine; I frighten very easily,” Adachi mumbles. To dissipate the awkward mood, Kurosawa gives the pastry wrapped in parchment paper. “Eh?”
“For doing well today,” Kurosawa says. “It’s fresh from the oven, so you don’t have to worry about the taste—”
“I-I’d never!” Adachi says quickly, then biting his lip to shut himself up. He tries again. “I mean, the strawberry cream danish the other day… It was really good.”
Kurosawa suddenly feels embarrassed over the praise, the first one in a very long while, and tries to downplay it. “You don’t have to be so nice—”
“It really is good! Best I’ve had!” Adachi insists. “Probably the same level as those ones in fancy hotels and stuff!”
Kurosawa laughs slightly. “You’re exaggerating.”
Adachi realizes that he’s being too excited. “Ah, I’m sorry; I shouldn’t take much of your time. I’m sure you had a long day yourself.”
He has, but talking to Adachi has helped him cool down lots. “It’s no trouble; just wanted to give you this before it completely cools down.”
Adachi looks down at the pastry pie and nods, taking a bite quickly. His eyes widen in shock and he covers his mouth to muffle his moan of delight. “This is illegal, almost. Has anyone told you that? I’m sure everyone has!”
He almost says that Adachi’s moan itself is illegal, but he only smiles in response and allows himself a few minutes more to talk to him about anything and nothing at all.
And so their friendship starts.
Adachi’s morning routine is directly glued to his bakery, with how he trudges sleepily into his shop every day to grab a danish or two, with a coffee fresh from the pot. Kurosawa greets him with his patented smiles, but none of which has given the desired effect — Adachi has not shown him one of his rare smiles since the day they met, and has only seen it in glimpses when he peers to see what he is up to in his own flower shop.
Sometimes, if he is lucky, a preschooler would come visit his shop with spare change, and he would smile gladly at them, and give them the prettiest red rosebud , careful to remove the thorns, wrapping it with a white satin bow. The kid would take it in their hands with such care and run out, waving happily at the florist who helped them with their first love.
Adachi would walk out and watch them leave, making sure they don’t trip on their way, then retreat back to his shop, where he tends the flowers carefully for absolutely no one at all.
Kurosawa forces himself to look away, but indulges in one look more, only to find Adachi looking at him, greeting him with a timid wave.
For a while, he tries to delude himself by thinking that there’s nothing to this, that his continuous attempts to converse and to hang out with Adachi, however small and irrelevant, is simply Kurosawa being Kurosawa — all kindness and generosity for everyone, even those who don’t quite deserve it. But there is something so calming with the very thought of the florist, adorned in pretty pinks, crimsons and verdants that rattles Kurosawa so, and he grows more anxious over it every day.
It doesn’t help that Adachi has been naturally in tune with his general demeanor from the start. He just simply knows what to say and when to say it, even if he can’t quite find the words as well as he wants to. Kurosawa is thankful anyway, that Adachi would be willing to try to express himself best he can, especially when the florist doesn’t need to.
But he needs to settle himself down, he thinks to himself when Rokkaku finds him staring at the flower shop the third time that day, all in the middle of packing an order for a customer.
“Kurosawa-san, are you alright? You’ve been in a daze all day!” Rokkaku asks, looking extremely worried. He already has an energy drink in his hand. “Please take this!”
“I’m alright, Rokkaku,” Kurosawa assures. The lady in line seems unconvinced too.
“Kurosawa-san has been so aloof lately,” The lady says, tone filled with suspicion. “As if he’s in love!” Kurosawa blinks at the statement, finding it hard to reject the silly notion. When he doesn’t quite say anything, the lady gasps. “Are you perhaps dating someone?!”
“That can’t be!” Rokkaku interjects. “Kurosawa-san’s married to his job!”
Kurosawa immediately shoves him back to the kitchen and assures the customer that he isn’t dating anyone, but there is a pang in his chest that alerts him of a hidden wish he holds close, and he tries to ignore it, for now.
Adachi doesn’t let him, however, when he enters the cafe with a bouquet of lilacs and white peonies, which he places on the counter as soon as he reaches it. “A leftover,” he explains shyly, blushing down to his toes. “I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I figured you’d want it.”
Kurosawa smiles at the gentle buds. “Let me pay for them.”
“N-no need,” Adachi insists. “I’m already closed for the day, so…”
“Adachi,” Kurosawa says with a sense of finality, which shuts up the man. “Let me treat you to a cookie, then?”
The florist has always been weak against sweets, so he takes a chocolate chip cookie on the go, leaving with a soft smile on his face. Without his distraction, Kurosawa manages to finish the day in peace, only attempting to stare at the flowers on the counter once or twice. The peony’s sweet scent almost lures him in an infatuated stupor, and he wonders if he’s too far gone, at this point.
So naturally, he tries to find out what this feeling is, exactly.
He figures it’s a crush, small and fleeting. It wouldn’t be much of a problem if that were so, except it definitely is, given Kurosawa’s years of indifference for this sort of thing — he’s had his fair share of relationships over the years, but it was never because he wanted it for himself. He mostly did it to keep the others away, and as much as he would have wanted to fall in love, he really has no interest in people who only liked the superficial parts of him.
So he hasn’t had a crush in ages. Big deal. He can definitely get over it if he wants to. (He thinks.)
The solution presents itself sooner than he would have hoped when Adachi gets a part-timer.
She introduces herself as Fujisaki Nozomi when she enters the bakery for a quick coffee run, and says that she knows Adachi from way back. She’s lending him a hand from time to time, especially during peak seasons. “But with the success the shop is getting, I might be here more than I expected. Adachi-kun has done so well with it, I’m so happy for him!”
Kurosawa feels bad for hating her for two seconds. “I’m glad he has someone to support him, then.”
Fujisaki eyes him curiously and smiles. “You’re here too, Kurosawa-kun. Adachi-kun mentioned how much you’ve helped him out, especially when he was starting out in the area.”
Kurosawa blinks. “He has?”
Fujisaki giggles, reaching out for the lattes she ordered. “He’s not as distant as you may perceive him to be, you know.”
Kurosawa wonders what she means.
It is extremely silly to watch what happens on the shop across his for hours, but he can’t bring himself to stop, not when there seems to be a rival of sorts in this crush of his.
Fujisaki is a nice girl, no doubt. Kurosawa is mostly jealous of the way she gets away with touching Adachi, with the way she fixes his (super cute!) bed hair, or with how she tries to straighten his apron up to look more presentable. This elicits the smallest smiles from Adachi, shy from being taken care of, and Fujisaki answers with enthusiasm, cute and soft.
From an onlooker’s perspective, they seem like the cutest couple in the block.
Kurosawa’s heart breaks ever so slightly, but figures it’s for the best — he and Adachi would never be, as much as his every being yearns for it. Still, if Fujisaki makes him smile, he thinks it’s enough for him to watch him be happy with her.
Adachi still comes to his bakery everyday, but Kurosawa tries to keep their talks short under the guise of prep for the day. Adachi would nod in understanding, looking a little less enthusiastic compared to how he entered the store, and leave with the same order as always — a strawberry cream danish and an Americano.
Eventually, Fujisaki starts going for him. She orders the same things as Adachi has, and explains that the florist has been dealing with multiple bulk orders as of the late — weddings, gatherings, etc. Kurosawa nods, understanding completely; the wedding season has already started, and he’s been getting an influx of orders for wedding cakes as well.
One time, Fujisaki enters with a bouquet of dogwood, ranunculus, peonies and tulips, pretty in pinks and whites. It is accentuated with dogwood stems and ferns, which help the hues pop out more. “A delivery for you, from an anonymous caller,” she says, and her smile gives nothing away. “Do you know your hanakotoba, Kurosawa-kun?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know much about it,” Kurosawa answers. The bouquet is wrapped at the stems with baby blue velvet, and he thumbs at the material curiously. Something about the color reminds him of Adachi completely, who tends to wear a lot of light blues and whites when he works. “Is the bouquet saying something?”
Fujisaki tries to hide her smile. “More than you’ll ever know, it seems.”
When she leaves, Kurosawa takes a quick picture of the bouquet.
Unconsciously, he limits his interactions with Adachi from then on.
His bakery gets featured in a local magazine that mostly featured him rather than his bread, so curious onlookers have been visiting from all over the city. He figures he should consider it as a blessing, regardless of how the notoriety came to be — at the end of the day, he gets to do what he loves for a living, even if work can get so tiring from days on end.
It’s not until Rokkaku mentions it that he notices that Adachi hasn’t been in his shop for a few days.
“Ah! It’s Fujisaki-san opening the store again!” Rokkaku points. He runs to the door and calls out to Fujisaki. “Fujisaki-san, ya-ho~!”
She waves back with an amused smile. “Ro-chan, good morning!”
“What do you mean ‘again’?” Kurosawa asks.
Rokkaku looks back and looks at him all confused. “Adachi-paisen hasn’t been in the store since the other day,” he explains. “I asked Fujisaki-san yesterday and she said that he was sick. She thinks it’s fatigue! That explains a lot, huh! He hasn’t had much help in the store so he was bound to get sick at some point.”
He decides in two seconds, removing his crossback apron with a smooth movement, placing it squarely on the counter. “I’m taking the day off. Rokkaku, you’re in charge.”
“Yessir— wait, what?!” Rokkaku gasps. “Kurosawa-san, is this what I think it is?”
Kurosawa wishes he cared more about Rokkaku finding out about his one-sided feelings for Adachi, but he can’t bring himself to care much. Am I worried sick of Adachi? Of course I am!
“Are you finally letting me do more work in the store?! I won’t fail you, I promise!”
He gives him a quick nod, not heartless enough to shoot down his hopeful thoughts completely, and runs to the flower shop, where Fujisaki looks like she’s been waiting for him. Pink camellias greet him on the counter, slightly wilted from age.
“You’ve been trying to ignore Adachi-kun,” Fujisaki says, and the disappointment in her voice is lethal. It feels as if he has let her down, and it’s a weird thing to feel for someone he barely knows at all. “You didn’t notice that he hasn’t been coming in.”
“I… I didn’t—”
Fujisaki grabs the memo pad by the cash register and scribbles something quickly, peeling it from the block and passing it over. “He refuses to go to the hospital for it, so maybe you can help keep his temperature down.”
“That idiot…!” Kurosawa says, looking down at the address. He storms out of the store and runs, forgetting to thank Fujisaki for the help.
Thankful that it’s not as far as he thought, he decides to rush to the market first so he could buy everything he needs for okayu, or something Adachi can eat easily. He navigates himself around the area with much ease, since he lived around these parts before. He finds the rental apartment quickly, climbing the stairs to reach where Adachi’s apartment is.
He knocks tentatively, checking if Adachi is awake. He hears movement inside afterwards, and the door creaks open, with a disheveled Adachi saying “Fujisaki-san, I swear I’m—”
Kurosawa takes quite a bit to take everything in — Adachi’s loose shirt, completely exposing his collarbones; his hair, in complete disarray; his cheeks, red against his pale skin; his lips, chapped from overbiting.
“— fine…?” Adachi finishes, blinking up at him in disbelief. “Kurosawa...?”
Kurosawa gulps. “Fujisaki-san mentioned that you were sick, so I figured I’d visit to check up on you.”
Adachi starts to panic. “But your shop….!”
“Rokkaku’s covering for me, so it’s no trouble,” Kurosawa assures. “He’s a rambunctious one, but he does well in his job.”
Adachi then realizes that they’re still talking by the door. “Ah! Please, come in. E-excuse the mess if you can.”
Kurosawa doesn’t expect much from the apartment, a normal studio type with low ceilings, but it surprises him how much of Adachi’s personality comes through from it. The florist apparently has a love for stationary, with how his study table is riddled with it, plus an accent wall where most of it rests. He wishes he knew more about the parts Adachi has chosen to hide away, and he feels as if he’s intruding in a space that he curated for himself.
In contrast to his own home, a contemporary home in browns and blues that exudes nothing but frigidity, Adachi’s apartment is warm and inviting.
He feels unworthy to be here, but he focuses on the task at hand.
He lets Adachi sleep some more, insisting that he does not need to fuss over his arrival, and with a fever as high as 38.7, Adachi caves in and goes back to bed, bundled in his comforter to sweat the fever out.
Kurosawa gets the okayu going, keeping it warm so Adachi can eat it as soon as he wakes up from his rest. He occasionally changes the cold towel on his forehead, making sure to help keep his temperature down somehow. There is a period in Adachi’s sleep where he stirs in discomfort, and Kurosawa only watches helplessly as he does, wishing he could take away much of the pain he is feeling.
He falls asleep by Adachi’s bed, and wakes up with a blanket around his shoulders. Adachi is sitting up, scrolling through his phone wordlessly, looking much better than earlier that day. He sees him wake up from his nap and smiles down at him, saying, “I hope… your nap was comfortable…?”
Kurosawa straightens himself up immediately in embarrassment. “It was. I’m sorry, I should have been awake the entire time.”
Adachi shakes his head sideways. “No, it’s fine! I shouldn’t have taken much of your time to begin with; I’m sure you had other important things to do—”
“No,” Kurosawa interjects. “This was more important.”
Adachi presses his lips and looks down at his lap.
“Can you eat? I made okayu,” Kurosawa asks, pointing at the kitchen. “I can warm it quickly for you.”
Adachi nods. Kurosawa gives him a quick smile and goes straight to the kitchen to escape embarrassing himself further. He rests his hands on the counter, bracing himself with a shaky sigh.
More important was an understatement, he admits to himself. The okayu steams away. I can’t think of anywhere else to be when he’s sick.
Adachi manages to eat most of the meal, and Kurosawa is happy that his color is back.
“I’ll clean up in the kitchen then get on going,” Kurosawa announces as takes the used cutlery back to the tray. “I need to close up shop and make sure Rokkaku didn’t burn down my bakery while I was gone.”
Adachi laughs slightly. “You should believe in your part-timer more.”
“Well, not all of us can hire someone like Fujisaki-san,” Kurosawa says, and he is surprised with how bitter it sounded. Adachi blinks in surprise, too. “Ah, I mean—”
“Do you… not like Fujisaki-san…?” Adachi asks, suddenly cautious.
“That’s not what I meant! I’m…” Adachi waits for his explanation. Kurosawa sighs, looking a little sheepish now. “Fujisaki-san is nice; I’m glad you have someone like her around to help you.”
“But…?” Adachi urges on.
“She seems like she knows something I’m missing out on, and that… makes me a little wary,” Kurosawa explains. He brings out his phone and scrolls through his images, then showing Adachi the bouquet of dogwoods she brought over the other day. “She delivered this to me the other day and asked if I knew the language of flowers.”
Adachi looks at the picture and pales. “Oh no.”
Kurosawa’s stomach drops. “Does it mean anything?”
Suddenly, Adachi is looking straight into his eyes, as if he’ll find something there. “Dogwood usually asks if the person is indifferent to the recipient…” He points at the pink buds. “Peonies means bashfulness… ranunculus is about being dazzled by the recipient’s charms… and tulips…”
Kurosawa catches Adachi turn red, the blush reaching his ears and nape.
“Pink tulips means attachment and care,” Adachi finishes, biting his lip again. “T-The one who gave you this bouquet must like you very much, huh…?”
Kurosawa manages to smile somewhat, but he stares at the velvet ribbon that wraps the stems snugly, and wonders if he’s missing something.
And just like that, they start talking again.
Adachi takes the time to visit early for his breakfast run, indulging in a few minutes of chatter. He talks of wedding orders, of scary brides and in-laws, and of white carnations. Kurosawa has grown into the habit of asking about flower meanings now, knowing that Adachi probably expresses himself best in them.
“White carnations signify pure love,” Adachi explains as Kurosawa packs up his order, secretly adding a cookie as a treat. “It’s a common choice for weddings.”
“Here’s a question,” Kurosawa says, leaning by the counter and placing the paper bag between them. He wonders why Adachi lets him get away with how close they are. “If you were to make a wedding bouquet for yourself, what flowers would you use?”
Adachi’s eyes twinkle at the question. “Blue roses!”
Kurosawa almost laughs at how excited he seems, but he smiles instead. “What does it mean?”
“Love at first sight,” Adachi mumbles, suddenly breathless. His eyes never leave Kurosawa’s. “For my impossible love.”
Kurosawa stops breathing for a second, too enthralled with Adachi’s expectant eyes and pink lips.
He waits for Adachi to take a day off work before he ventures to the flower shop again, with the hopes of talking to Fujisaki about the bouquet she delivered weeks before. She welcomes him like a customer — with a smile and a question, “What can I get you?”
“I need to know who’s it from,” Kurosawa says, knowing full well that she remembers exactly what she means. “I know what it means, now.”
“Ah,” Fujisaki says. “Who helped you with it?”
“Adachi,” Kurosawa answers. “He seemed surprised that the bouquet even existed.”
Fujisaki laughs heartily, covering her mouth to muffle it out. “I don’t think that’s it. He’s probably surprised that it found its way to you,” she explains. She points at the bouquet of aster by the register, placed in a porcelain vase. “For all the times he may seem detached from everything, he does give his own feelings a great deal of thought. Every bouquet he does is well thought out, because he can never say his feelings out loud. In the end, he has his own way of expressing himself, but his love is still unreturned, one bouquet after the other.”
Kurosawa dares himself to hope. “You mean…”
Fujisaki only smiles.
If he isn’t quick about it, he might lose his chance completely. He lets out a shaky sigh, reeling from the possibilities, and asks, “Can you help me with something, Fujisaki-san?”
He feels silly, standing before Adachi’s door nervously with a bouquet of blue roses and baby’s breath hidden behind him, small white flowers a standout against the sea of azure, but he knocks anyway, knowing that this is the push he needed to acknowledge what he feels for the florist.
The door opens, and Adachi stands there, confused. “Kurosawa?”
“I missed out on a lot of things,” Kurosawa says, sounding apologetic. He shows the bouquet Fujisaki helped him with, and Adachi’s eyes widen. “But I heard you loud and clear this time.”
Adachi’s lips curve into a frown, eyes suddenly teary.
Kurosawa starts to panic. “D-Did I misunderstand? I’m—”
Adachi takes a brave step and closes in the space between them, taking the bouquet into his hands and pressing it to his chest. “No…!” He looks up, hopeful now. “I… I couldn’t say it out loud—”
“I love you,” Kurosawa blurts out. “It took me a while, but I figured it out, Adachi.”
With the bouquet in one of his hands, Adachi wraps his arms around Kurosawa’s neck and stands on his tiptoes to press the softest of kisses on his lips, tentative and careful, but Kurosawa is anything but that, so he pulls him in by the waist and slots their lips together perfectly, careful to keep the kiss as chaste as he could.
When they part, Kurosawa presses their foreheads together and smiles. “Will you say it too?”
Adachi nods, blushing dangerously — with him like this, Kurosawa wants to tease him endlessly. “I…”
Kurosawa waits, but Adachi buries his face on the bouquet, too embarrassed to continue. “Ah, that’s cheating, Adachi…!”
“I—” Adachi looks up again, lips against the blue roses. He takes one deep breath and manages, “I love you!”
He indulges in one tight hug, reveling in warmth. “Not so impossible now, isn’t it?” Kurosawa asks, kissing his cheek for good measure. “Ah, you’ve had me from the start too, you know.”
Adachi finds this hard to believe, but he looks down at the blue buds and trusts them with all his heart.
From then on, blue roses find themselves in Kurosawa’s bakery a lot.
It’s a striking color against the whites and browns of the interior, and customers always love seeing them when they purchase anything from the store. They all wonder what it means, and who could have given it to the baker, who seems to be in content ever since he started having them in the store.
Across the street, Adachi has his own flowers in display — a bouquet of dianthus, in pinks and reds, arranged with soft white stocks and alstroemeria for good measure.
A couple of times, they’d see Kurosawa looking over the flower shop with a pleased smile, waving at the owner with much fervor. A ring glints around his finger, one that mirrors the one across the street.
Rokkaku has yet to understand what it means, but Fujisaki thinks he’s almost got it.