There was a flower box outside Shiro's bedroom window.
It was just outside the one window, facing the street, and he barely paid it any mind, letting remain void of anything bright. He had something close to a green thumb, at least insofar that he hadn't killed all the plants he came across, but preferred not to work with flowers. They took too much work, and especially the outside ones, since those required that he pay attention to the weather so he would know when to give them water and when to dry them out.
Plus, Shiro lived on the third floor of an apartment building, so hardly anyone would be looking up that far to even notice if there were flowers in the flower box or not.
But the point was that there was an empty flower box outside Shiro's bedroom window.
Or, it was empty.
Shiro woke one Sunday morning to movement outside his window, and he squinted blearily as a spade appeared at the edge of his window, shoveling at something inside the flower box. After a moment, it retreated. Curious, and awake, Shiro shuffled out of bed and opened his window as the spade returned, carrying the most earthy-smelling dirt Shiro has ever smelled and held by a hello kitty gardening glove attached to gorgeously brown arm. The dirt was deposited with the rest of it, slowly filling out the flower box.
Leaning out his window, Shiro squinted, hoping the infusion of sunlight directly onto his face would serve as a proper substitute for coffee. More importantly, Shiro really wanted to see who it was that was messing around with the flower box.
“Oh!” A voice, ringing like wind chimes, drew Shiro's eye to the beautiful man sitting on the windowsill of the next apartment over. He laughed, a delight to Shiro alongside his smile that was like the sun—and not because the sun was behind the beautiful mystery. “I'm sorry. I didn't realize. I saw the flower box and got super excited to plant some nice flowers.” The stranger put down the spade, taking off the glove and holding out his hand. “Hi. I'm Lance. I'm your new neighbor!”
Shiro reached out too, gently taking hold of Lance's hand. “Shiro.”
“Is that a nickname?” Lance's smile turned fonder. “That's so neat! I tried to have a nickname back in high school and it stuck. Tried it again in college but it never managed to fly like it did in high school.”
“Well, it's nice to meet you, Lance.” Shiro matched Lance's smile. He gestured at the flower box, and at how far Lance was leaning out to reach Shiro's side. “Can I help you out? I wouldn't want to have a beauty such as you fall trying to clean out all of this flower box.”
Lance grinned, a light flush coloring his cheeks, and nodded. “Sure! Maybe you could help me with the flowers too. Since we're sharing this, I didn't want to pick a flower that you're allergic to or don't like. Flowers should make people happy when they look at them. So, what makes you happy, Shiro?”
Shiro very tactfully did not answer that Lance was making him happy. The man's grin was more than enough to lance its way into Shiro's heart, that his care toward others just made Lance lodge himself all the more within Shiro's heart.
Distantly, Shiro recognized that he might be too quick to fall for someone, but he was good at picking and choosing when to listen to that part of him. This wouldn't end in heartbreak, Shiro could feel it in his soul.
Holt Botanical wasn't technically a flower shop, but for the purposes of their mission, Takashi supposed it fit well enough. It didn't hurt, either, that he was friends with the family. Colleen would make sure that both Takashi and Lance got the flowers they needed to fill up the flower box.
“Shiro!” Matt, behind the counter, perked up. “What's up? I thought you swore not to come back after getting your butt handed to you by everyone in Mario Kart?”
“I decided to forgive you for that,” Shiro said, giving Matt a pointed stare. He gestured at Lance, who was looking over the many rows of potted plants with delighted interest. “This is Lance. He's–”
“Your new guy?” Matt got a gleam in his eye, and he slid around the counter. “Oh, he's certainly your type.”
“Matt!” Shiro coughed, his face burning with blush. “It's not like that. We're neighbors.”
“Oh my god, they were neighbors,” Matt whispered, his gleam stretching into an equally gleaming grin. Shiro rolled his eyes, blush fading and settling as he nudged Matt not-so-gently in the ribs.
“We're customers, Matt. Put on your retail face or get your mom.” Shiro paused, giving it half a moment of thought. “Actually, just get Colleen. She'll know more about what we want than you ever will.”
“Rude!” Matt gaped, placing a hand over his chest. He turned toward Lance, raising his voice. “How did you manage to find yourself neighbor to this guy, then?”
“I could only afford that apartment,” Lance replied, glancing up from a table of gladiolas of various colors. “Also I might have woken him up while cleaning out the flower box outside our windows.”
“And he brought you here because of that.” Matt gave Shiro a flat look. “You have it so bad, my good man.”
“Just call your mom,” Shiro grumbled, walking away from his longtime friend. “We can wait.”
“Fine.” Matt dramatically flung his way out of the main area, calling out, “Mom! Shiro's here, he's with a customer, and he's being mean to me again!”
Lance stared at Shiro, baffled, and Shiro offered him the best, most reassuring grin he could manage. His friendship with Matt was something entirely unique.
“You probably deserve it,” Colleen's voice echoed back, and soon after she appeared, giving Shiro and Lance a soft smile. “Oh! Hello, welcome to Holt Botanical. What were you looking for?”
“There's a flower box outside our window,” Lance explained, giving Shiro half a glance. Shiro offered up a mild shrug, less concerned with the flowers involved than he was in helping Lance. He was sure that no matter what Lance chose, they were going to look almost as beautiful as Lance.
“Ah! Shiro, you should have mentioned this before.” Colleen patted Shiro on the arm. “And I can't believe that this is how you would introduce me to your boyfriend.”
“I– I'm not– we're not– no.” Lance turned a brilliant red, almost matching the deep red that Shiro turned, and Shiro desperately wanted to read into it. Lance frantically gestured at the space between them. “Neighbors! New neighbors!”
“Oh.” Colleen's own smile turned into a confused frown. “But the two of you look so perfect together. I would have thought– well, never mind that. You wanted flowers then? Did you have any specific type in mind?”
“Not really. I was hoping for something nice and simple to take care of, but all of these look so amazing!” Lance gestured at everything.
“Well, you came to the right place for help.” Colleen laughed, gesturing for Lance and Shiro to follow. Matt hung back, returned to behind the counter, but the grin he held when he watched Shiro walk past spoke an entire chapter of amusement at Shiro's obvious crush on his new neighbor. “Finding the right flowers is a delicate task. Especially when you don't know what you want them to say.”
“Whoa, whoa, hold the phone.” Lance stopped, holding up his hands and giving Colleen a suspicious look. “Flowers talk? I thought they were just there to look pretty.”
“Flowers do look pretty, but they have a language all their own. Different flowers mean different things. Like how roses mean romantic love, or how baby's breath means everlasting love. Baby's breath is a common flower in wedding bouquets for that reason.” Colleen laughed. Shiro tuned her out, already familiar with the speech. One flower in particular caught Shiro's eye, and he shifted away from Lance and Colleen, weaving between the aisles until he stood before it.
The flowers were beautiful, bright yellow and seeming to shine like the sun. They reminded Shiro almost of Lance's smile.
“Yellow Acacias.” Matt hummed, nodding as he moved beside Shiro. “Deciding on these, then?”
“Maybe.” Shiro glanced at Matt, at the way his grin looked far too much like a smug cat. “Why, what do they mean?”
“Nothing so bad!” Matt kept up the grin. “They just mean secret love. They're the flower of secret admirers, Shiro. They're as close to pining as someone can get without turning into a pine tree.”
“Oh! Those look beautiful! Shiro, you should have called us over if you found the perfect flowers.” Lance drew Shiro's attention away from Matt, and all Shiro could think was that Lance's pout was far too adorable. “What are these?”
“Yellow Acacias. Our Shiro has a good eye.” Colleen grinned, identical to Matt's own, and Shiro felt his soul ascend to a new plane of existence. He wished his body could follow, but Lance got up close, enough that he could bury his face in Lance's hair if he so wished. “I think they would look lovely in that flower box of yours, Lance.”
“Yep, they would.” Lance nodded, smiling from the flowers to Shiro. “These look incredible! Do they have a special language too?”
“All flowers have that special language. And these mean... a certain kind of understanding.” Colleen locked eyes with Shiro, a knowing gleam that Shiro knew was where Matt got it from. “One between people who are very close.”
“Really?” Lance tilted his head, before nodding. “Alright then. We'll go with a dozen of these! When can we get them?”
“Shiro here can pick them up as early as tomorrow,” Matt chimed in, matching his mom's sly grin. Shiro could only wish that the ground would swallow him up, to save him from teasing Holts.
“Nope! No no no. I'm going to pick them up. Shiro's already done more than enough, haven't you, Shiro?” Lance looked up at Shiro expectantly, and he felt the last remnants of his resolve crumbling.
“Whatever you want, Lance.” Shiro offered Lance a soft smile. “I could never deny you.”
“I bet you can't,” Matt muttered, just loud enough for his voice to carry. Shiro pointedly ignored him.
A week later found Shiro sitting on his windowsill, a cup of coffee in hand. In all his time with Lance, he'd learned a lot about the gorgeous man. It felt like Lance had always been a part of Shiro's life, that their future together was as inevitable as the air they breathed.
Shiro felt the flowers underestimated the amount of love that he felt for Lance, much less how gently and easily he fell into that love.
“So!” Lance leaned out his own window, looking out at the flowers with a light blush. “Yellow Acacias, yeah? What made you pick them?”
“They reminded me of you.” Shiro smiled, feeling his day become brighter, his mood become lighter, in Lance's presence. “They're bright and beautiful, and shine like the sun. I can't help but feel better when I look at them.”
It was a confession for sure, one that Shiro knew would happen, but at least it gave him the chance to confess without the fear of rejection. Even though he knew it wouldn't end in heartbreak, even though he knew that Lance would accept his feelings, Shiro still couldn't bring himself to say it all directly. Those words he would leave for the flowers.
“And all of that reminds you of me?” Lance's blush spread, deepening into a vibrant red that looked as gorgeous as the sky at sunset.
“Yeah, it does.”
“I looked up what the flowers mean!” Lance's eyes went wide, and Shiro realized that he didn't mean to say that. Clearing his throat, Lance continued. “I looked up what the flowers mean. Do you... mean it?”
Yellow Acacias. Secret love. The flowers for someone hopelessly in love, yet not brave enough to say it. Shiro knew, and agreed, and felt equal parts glad and panicked that his flower box was not just saying his feelings for Lance, but shouting them.
“I do.” Shiro swallowed, glancing at his emptied cup and wishing it was full again. He knew the depth of this, knew how it could go down but he still wanted to know, needed to know. “Do you...”
“Mean it too?” Lance gave Shiro a shy grin. “Yeah, I do.”
Shiro's eyes snapped up, meeting Lance's shy but certain gaze. They sat there, a bed of flowers between them, saying everything they couldn't. Whatever came next, Shiro knew that they would always return to this moment.
Shiro only really cared that Lance would be by his side. If Lance would still love him, would still let the flowers say everything they couldn't, then that would be alright.