It's when the doorbell rings for the fifth time that he finally opens his eyes, annoyed.
He tries to ignore it for a while, knowing that whoever is at the other side of the door will get tired sooner or later if there isn't any reply, they will assume that there isn't anyone at home.
It's on the twenty-fourth ring that he finally realizes, whoever is trying to get in contact with him won't stop until they have accomplished their mission. Truly troublesome.
He drags his body outside from the bed, grabbing the blanket over his shoulders and dragging his feet, stumbling against the walls of the corridor as he walks toward the door, still not really awake and not really wanting to be awake.
On the thirty-eighth ring, he finally opens the door, the light from the street making him close his eyes for a moment, too dazzling, too shiny, too annoying.
"Ritsu-chan! This is a big problem!" The voice that speaks, a young man, high pitched and dramatic, so full of energy that it makes his ears hurt. It's too early for this.
"Ah, it’s Natchan…” He says, recognising the person at the other side of the door even if he still has his eyelids half closed, the sun outside making him unable to completely open them as he still needs to get used to the light. “What is it?" Ritsu mumbles annoyed, leaning against the door frame and wrapping himself even more with the blanket. If Natchan doesn’t start speaking soon Ritsu will fall asleep again just standing there.
“Ritsu-chan it’s already mid-day, you shouldn’t be sleeping, come on…” the blond sighs dramatically at the end of the sentence, knowing that no matter what he says the dark-haired boy won’t even consider changing his sleeping habits. “I called you so many times, I got so worried…” He lowers his voice tone this time, something Ritsu is thankful about since it makes his ears hurt less. It’s still annoying though, being dragged outside his bed and forced to have small talk… “You had your phone turned off, right? Even if we all told you to not do that… We can’t contact you if you do that.” Ritsu groans. The last thing he wants is to be scolded so early (it’s early for his usual standards) in the day.
He wants to tell Natchan, that the reason he turns off his phone is precisely because he wants to avoid people contacting him, that he wants to sleep without any interruption. Besides, if someone is desperate enough, they’ll find a way to contact with him, just like Natchan has done.
But saying all of that is too much of an effort and it would create even more idle talk that he isn’t fond about. He could use that time to sleep instead.
So he decides to keep quiet, try a different approach.
Fall asleep leaning on the doorframe.
It sounds like a good plan.
“Hey, Ritsu-chan? Don’t fall asleep, geez!” He grabs Ritsu by his shoulders and starts shaking him, not caring if he hits his heads against the doorframe that he was using as pillow just now. “Ritsu-chan, listen to me!”
“What do you want?” Ritsu asks, loud compared to how low his voice usually sounds, and annoyed. Incredibly annoyed as he hates having his sleep interrupted and definitely hates being shaken so much that his brain feels like jumping inside his head.
“Ufufu, you are finally willing to listen?” Natchan says, stepping a few steps back, almost as if he feels that staying close to Ritsu for a lot longer after shaking him so hard is dangerous. He isn’t really wrong. But as energy deprived as Ritsu feels during the day, he won’t attack anyone during the day.
Maybe it’s better if no one tries to know if he’s really dangerous during the day.
Ritsu once again wraps himself with the blanket, as Natchan’s shaking has made it loose. He’s glad that it hasn’t fallen to the floor, if that had happened he would feel that it was too bothersome to pick it up again.
“I need to ask you for a little favour.” The blond says, clapping his hands and closing one of his eyes, keeping a smile on his face. Almost like a teenager girl. Actually, not almost. It’s completely the behaviour of a girl.
Ritsu, without even realizing, makes the most disgusted face he could pull, making obvious his answer.
Natchan should already know that he hates, despises, loathes , working.
“At least listen to what I want to ask you.” He had already considered the idea of Ritsu rejecting his proposal, but he hoped that at least he would hear him out first.
“No.” Is Ritsu’s blunt reply as he starts closing the door of his house.
“Ritsu-chan!” Unfortunately, unlike Ritsu, Natchan is fast, really fast. He wasn’t the captain of the track and field club for nothing after all. He manages to grab Ritsu before he closes the door and thus, makes him unable to ignore him. “You’re the only person I can count with!” He says, almost sounding desperate and Ritsu knows, that Natchan is definitely exaggerating.
After all, if your only option, the only person you can rely on is Ritsu… Not even Ritsu relies on Ritsu.
“I have a modelling work for a few weeks,” he begins explaining, still holding to Ritsu.
“I’m not interested.” Ritsu complains, trying to get rid of Natchan’s grip but giving up after one or two attempts because it’s too much of a bother.
“Ritsu-chan! I need someone to take care of the shop!” He says, this time sounds actually desperate… Or maybe he’s just exasperated because dealing with Ritsu by himself is just too much.
Ritsu groans, as he thought the task that Natchan is trying to force on him is too bothersome. He has heard once or twice… Or at least he only remembers hearing once or twice, that besides his modeling work, Natchan owns a small flower shop. It’s something like a hobby, Ritsu thinks, but apparently it’s something he cares about enough to ask Ritsu to take care of it.
“Why me?” He asks, finally managing to get rid of Natchan’s grip. Though, instead of ‘getting rid’ it’s more appropriate to say that since Natchan already has Ritsu’s attention, he doesn’t need to force himself.
“It’s not like I want precisely you to be the one taking care of my precious shop.” The way Natchan has said that makes Ritsu feel somehow offended, but he lets it pass as he himself understands how unreliable he might appear to other people.
He thinks that he can take care of things properly if he tries his best though.
Truth is he has never really tried his best at anything, so there’s no way he knows.
“But out of all the possible candidates, you are the one that seems less of a threat to my shop.” Natchan continues, sighing, and Ritsu isn’t sure if he should take Natchan’s comment as a compliment or not.
He decides to simply ignore it.
“What about Secchan?” He asks, once again leaning against the doorframe as he has been unable to close the door thanks to Natchan grabbing him so suddenly earlier.
“Truth is, he would be the first person I would ask for this but, apparently he’s accompanying me in the work.” He puts his hand on his face, closing his eyes almost dreamingly. “But even if I asked him, I would still worry about how he treats the customers since he’s… like that .”
Ritsu has to admit that it does seem like a good enough reason.
“Suu-chan?” He tries once again, this time convinced that he’s definitely a better choice than himself.
“Tsukasa-chan? He’s an earnest kid indeed but…” a sigh, almost like that of a mother (or big sister, like Natchan prefers to be referred as) who is worried about her kid. “That boy still hasn’t learned how to interact with, as he often says, commoners like us.” He reasons. “Besides, he’s from a wealthy family, isn’t he? he doesn’t value money the same way as we do, I worry about the consequences of that as well…” Ritsu thinks that given the chance, Suu-chan could definitely prove to be capable of dealing with a small shop like Natchan’s. But of course, that might be because he just doesn’t want to be the one dealing with it.
“What about your friend?” He says, third try, pointing at his eyes. He never bothered to learn that kid’s name.
“Mika-chan… he…” another sigh. “He’s out of question, he can’t deal very well with people that he doesn’t know.” Ritsu thinks, that in that case this should be a perfect chance to overcome his fears. But maybe it’s like sending someone to hunt lions without even teaching them to shoot the shotgun.
But he really doesn’t want to accept it, he doesn’t want to deal with something as bothersome as this.
Desperate times require desperate measures.
He doesn’t even receive a reply, Natchan just glares at him almost as if he has told him to burn the shop.
But maybe leaving Leo in charge is even more dangerous than that.
“As you see, you are my only hope, Ritsu-chan!” He says, as dramatically as he knows to talk.
But Ritsu still isn’t convinced, he knows, that there’s no way he can be a good choice.
And he’s going to make Natchan realize.
“I will sleep in the counter.” He says, almost as if it was a threat. Being Ritsu, that’s the most threatening thing he can actually do. Sleep.
“Oh my!” but contrary to his intention, Natchan doesn’t seem to be discouraged by the idea, actually, he even seems overjoyed. “Surrounded by flowers, you’ll look lovely! Like a flower fairy!"
And it’s in that moment that Ritsu understands, that no matter what he says, no matter how hard he tries to reject Natchan, he won’t give up and in the end Ritsu will be forced to take care of his small business.
It still took a few threats, promises, blackmailing and the use of some other desperate measures to make Ritsu accept the task.
It really was an once-in-a-lifetime experience, Ritsu working.
Those two words almost seemed like an antonym of each other.
The task, while bothersome, proved to be more simple than Ritsu expected. He just had to sit in the counter, make sure that no one stole any flower and get the money from people who bought them.
Well, there was a more bothersome task which was taking care of the flowers and make sure that there was always stock in the shop.
But apparently, for the later, Natchan had managed to find someone who would fill the task.
Someone who was willing on taking care of the shop but doesn't want to interact with customers.
Ritsu wonders if that person is Natchan’s friend, the one with different eyes.
Well, it’s not like he really cares. He won’t even get to see him.
Apart from that, special services, such as flower language courses, personalized bouquets, home deliveries, decoration and so, have been cancelled until Natchan’s return.
Natchan complained long and loud, saying that cancelling so many services would bring him too many loses and he couldn’t allow that.
Ritsu’s only reply was that even if he didn’t cancel it, he wouldn’t do any of that, as he either doesn’t know how to do it or he’s too lazy to actually do it.
Natchan had to sigh and admit defeat in this one.
He even had to make flyers with the information of the cancellation because Ritsu is too lazy to inform the customers verbally about the changes.
There should be a limit to how lazy one person can be.
But overall, there isn’t much Ritsu can complain about. Most people leave as soon as they see that the special services have been cancelled for a while, which means even less work for him. Natchan will probably be devastated when he learns about the loses that this has caused, but having small sales of flowers is still better than closing for a few weeks and losing all the money income. Besides, he would also lose the stock, as flowers need to be taken care of.
It almost seems like Ritsu is there just to keep company to the flowers.
He doesn’t really mind if it’s like that, he can even sleep in the counter. He already warned Natchan that he would do that, so there isn’t any problem with it. The smell of the flowers is kind of relaxing, making him even more tempted to sleep.
As he closes his eyes, for some reason he remembers the words that Natchan had told him.
“Surrounded by flowers, you’ll look lovely! Like a flower fairy!”
It almost makes him laugh now. Natchan is probably the only person who would think like that. There’s nothing about him that could remind of a fairy, after all, fairies are supposed to be playful and active, full of light and brightness. Nothing like that applies to him, who is sleepy, lazy and dark, definitely dark and mostly only able to live under the light of the moon.
“Excuse me?” It’s when he is immersed in his thoughts and almost asleep that he feels someone tapping his shoulder, softly calling him and even if usually something like that would annoy him and he would complain about his sleep being interrupted, he has to remember where he is. If he’s lucky this customer will leave soon and he will be able to go back to sleep.
That doesn’t impede a small groan from leaving his mouth as he rubs his eyes.
“What do you want?” He says, with his eyes still closed, accidentally in the same rude behaviour as he would do if he had been awaken from his own bed.
He opens his eyes in surprise, realizing what he has done and hoping that he’s still in time to fix it, Natchan would never forgive him if he accidentally ruins the reputation of his shop.
But he forgets about that as soon as his eyes find a green as beautiful as emeralds, the customer’s eyes that look at him with surprise and that somehow leave such a strong impression on Ritsu that he simply can’t look away. Not like he wants either.
The moment that seemed to last an eternity only lasts for a few seconds, until the customer closes his — beautiful — eyes, a laugh leaving his mouth and it almost, no, it actually sounds like melody for Ritsu’s ears.
“Sorry for waking you up.” The customer apologizes, a smile still on his face when he stops laughing. He doesn’t stop smiling even when he opens his eyes and once again Ritsu finds himself staring at them.
“It’s alright.” Ritsu murmures his reply, not being completely honest. He would definitely prefer to continue sleeping, so being woken up isn’t really alright, but he is kind of working, so he should at least try to be awake when there’s a customer. “So? What do you…” He interrupts himself, remembering that if Natchan discovers he has been impolite with a customer his rage will be unstoppable. “How can I help you?” He asks, still sounding half asleep and not even bothering to smile, even if Natchan had insisted that attending customers with a radiant, warm and big smile was one of the most important things to keep a business going.
But Ritsu thinks that he’s exaggerating and that it definitely can't be so important.
“Oh, yeah…” The customer starts looking for something inside his pockets, which Ritsu takes as a chance to finally advert his eyes from the customer’s and observe him more properly. He has an unusual red hair, the bangs kept up with a hairpin. He must be Ritsu’s height, if not a little shorter. “Found it!” Ritsu is forced to stop his observation when the customer pulls a paper out of his pocket and places it on the counter, right were Ritsu can read what’s written on it, a list with six items written on it. Flowers. He recognises the name of some of them, with their respective colours, and that’s enough to make him understand the situation. “I would like to order a bouquet with these…” Even before the customer can finish explaining his request, Ritsu points at the flyers that are resting in the counter too.
The customer takes one confused and he reads it carefully. The flyer with the information about all the special services that have been cancelled thanks to the absence of the owner.
“For real!?” His voice comes out a little too loud and Ritsu almost groans annoyed. He manages to avoid it though, barely, but he manages to do it. “So you aren’t an usual worker here?” He asks, putting the flyer inside his pocket along with the paper that had the flowers noted down.
“I’m just keeping company to the flowers.” Ritsu replies, crossing his arms on top of the counter and resting his head on them, closing his eyes as he hears the customer’s soft laugh. He probably thought that he was joking with that comment, but Ritsu himself doesn’t know if he was actually joking or not. He just wants to sleep.
“This is a problem…” The other boy whispers to himself once he stops laughing. “She really wanted those flowers…” He continues, sounding troubled. Ritsu opens one of his eyes, looking at the boy in front of him. He said she. Well, it isn’t that surprising, Ritsu thinks. After all, girls love flowers and one of Natchan’s… Actually any flower shop’s major income must come from boyfriends who want to be romantic, and as unoriginal as it is, flowers are always one of the first things that come to mind when you think about romanticism.
So it really shouldn’t be surprising.
It doesn’t stop him from feeling somewhat upset though.
“Do you know if any of these flowers mean ‘I’m sorry’?” The customer asks, pointing randomly at a few flowers in the shop, as if he was playing a guessing game.
Ritsu raises an eyebrow because, no, he has no idea. He does know that some flowers have meaning, but whenever Natchan starts talking about that he stops paying attention.
“That one is pretty.” He says instead, pointing at a plant that is placed almost at the entrance of the shop.
The customer walks toward it, understanding that he probably doesn’t know anything about flower language. The flyer and the comment that Ritsu has made earlier have already made it clear that he isn’t a florist.
“Let’s see…” It’s a small plant with a rosette of five leaves, each one curling upwards at the end. The flower stalks, still small as the plant probably still hasn’t completely bloomed, have longish petals of an intense violet colour. The customer hums pleased while observing it from different angles. “It is indeed pretty…” He says, voice low but at least loud enough for Ritsu to hear him in the silence of the shop.
He feels a small stitch of proudness inside him, of course it’s pretty, he has good taste after all.
“But…” The customer ends his brief moment of feeling proud just with that word, nothing good ever comes when someone says ‘but’. “It’s a little small. I always thought that girls prefer more… Flamboyant flowers.” He says, and Ritsu has to admit that he might be right.
It still doesn’t make him feel better, his taste is good after all, for his recommendation to be rejected like that… It still makes him feel offended.
“Then, why not red roses?” He asks, maybe showing how offended he feels accidentally as his voice sounds harsher than he intended. “All girls love red roses, don’t they?” He adds, almost as if he was making fun of the stereotype, but it’s mostly because the reminder that those flowers are indeed for a girl, his girlfriend probably, make him a little irritated, more than he thought.
“I’m not so sure about that…” The customer argues, gazing at the flowers that Ritsu has mentioned. “If I give her one of those she will get angry at me and say that I’m gross.” He says, laughing it off.
What a complicated customer to please, Ritsu thinks, but it’s probably not his fault, the one who should be at fault is the girl who will be receiving the flowers, she’s the one who seems difficult to please.
A girl who doesn’t want to receive something too simple but at the same time she doesn’t want to receive something too overly romantic or typical.
Truly a pain.
“Why don’t you just give him one of the flowers from that list?” Ritsu suggests from the counter, following the customer with his eyes as he’s already tired of having to deal with a single person for so long.
He’s sure that the customer has already thought about that, it’s the obvious solution after all, so there’s probably another excuse that doesn’t let him buy those flowers.
Something among the lines of “ she only wants these flowers if they are in a bouquet ” or something similar.
But instead the customer looks at him surprised.
“I didn’t think about that.” He says, so honestly and surprised about it that it makes Ritsu snort. Thankfully the customer hasn’t heard him, or if he has, he doesn’t mind.
He takes the paper from his pocket, reading all the names of the flowers and trying to choose which one will bring him the best outcome when he gives it to the girl who is so difficult to please, but even if he reads the names, he only recognises one or two at most.
“Well then…” He gives a last look to the list, but once again he can’t recognise which flowers are written there. But if they are written there it means that they are pretty and she will like any of them, right? “A peony please?” He asks, a troubled smile appearing on his face as he has no idea if he has made the right decision.
“I don’t know what’s that.” Ritsu says, bluntly, frowning at the customer as if he was offended that he expected him to know what is the flower he’s talking about. The customer laughs, a nervous one that obviously meant what am I supposed to do now. Ritsu sighs. “The flowers have a tag with their name on it,” he explains completely uninterested, “you can try finding the flower you want.”
“You won’t help me?” The customer asks, already knowing the reply. Even if he has just meet this cashier, this person who is here just to keep company to the flowers, he has the feeling that he already knows enough about him to reach the conclusion that he hates working.
“Wake me up when you find it.” Ritsu says, burying his face on his arms ready to fall asleep again, hoping that the customer will take some time to accomplish his task, that way he’ll be able to sleep for longer.
But unfortunately, even if he says that, for some reason he decides to raise his head and observe the customer, the boy with red hair that checks every tag carefully, getting upset every time he sees that it isn’t the flower that he wanted.
Obviously, the reason Ritsu is looking at him is because Natchan would kill him if someone stole a flower or broke something from the shop. Not like this customer seems like the kind of person who likes vandalism, but he still needs to make sure.
There are no ulterior motives. Maybe a small interest, so small that it isn’t worth mentioning. There’s nothing bad about delighting oneself's sight, and this boy is quite pleasing to the sight, even if he can only have a side view of his face while he's browsing through the shop.
Whoever is the girl who is receiving the flowers, she really is lucky to have someone like him in her life.
“Found it…” He says, relief showing on his voice as he picks the pink flower carefully, as if it was the most delicate and precious thing in the whole universe. He really has no idea about flowers, but even in his eyes, this one single flower looks beautiful, it will definitely please anyone who receives it as a present.
And it’s when he turns that Ritsu can get a full view of his face once again. A full view of that smile that has appeared on his face, bright, so bright that it could rival the sun itself up in the sky.
“Oh, I thought you would be sleeping.” The customer says cheerfully, that smile still on his face and it makes Ritsu’s heart skip a beat because it’s being directed at him, even if he’s weak to the sun he somehow manages to withstand its rays of light, but this attack is impossible to stand, for a second, a very brief second that he wouldn’t mind if it had lasted forever, Ritsu feels that he is melting.
It really is unfair, knowing that no matter what he does, he will never be able to stay by his side.
In the end, he’s only a customer that won’t return after buying the flower for his special someone.
“I couldn’t sleep.” Ritsu replies when he finally makes his mind return back to reality from the thoughts he was having. “So you found the flower…” He speaks, looking at the pink flower that the boy is carrying. “Let me check the price…” He lazily and slowly moves his arms to reach a small notebook that Natchan had prepared for him with all the information he needed for his work, prices, caretaking… There was even the meaning of each flower written in it. If he had known earlier maybe it would have made the task of choosing a flower easier.
But the customer doesn’t need to know about that now.
“Lend me that,” Ritsu requests, pointing at the flower. The customer seems doubtful at first, after all the effort and time that has taken him to pick and find the flower… But he still obeys, knowing that he cashier… No, the person who is keeping company to the flowers, won’t do anything bad. He observes as his hands move once again slowly but this time more precisely, wrapping the stem with a decorative paper.
He can’t avoid a small laugh coming out when he sees the result though, that kind of decoration looks good in bouquets, but with just a single flower it looks… Unique.
Lame would be a better word, but he really did think that it would be a good idea to try making the flower look even prettier.
“There you go,” he says playfully, handing back the peony to its owner. “You can’t let your girl to receive just a simple flower, right?” He adds, the words stinging him a little but ignoring it as well as he can.
“Thank you.” The customer tells him, a small laugh leaving his mouth as he speaks those words.
It brings a small smile into Ritsu’s face, seeing him like that.
“Come back again.” He says, just like he tells any other customer half-heartedly, like Natchan told him that he should say to those who are leaving the shop. But with this one customer, the words are genuine, like a wish that deep in his heart he hopes that it will be granted.
Yeah... Love at first sight how cute...
He really thought he would never get to see him again.
It would be the normal outcome, after the lazy treatment he had gotten the previous day, there was no way he would like to return to the flower shop.
But there he is, red bangs being kept up with a hairpin, green eyes as beautiful as emeralds and a smile as bright as the sun itself.
Ritsu isn’t proud to admit that he has felt his heart skip a beat when he has seen the customer cross the door, he has even lifted his head to have a proper look at him and make sure that his eyes aren’t deceiving him.
“Oh, today isn’t napping day?” The customer says jokingly, his hands on his hips as he gets closer to the counter.
It kind of feels weird how it looks like this customer already feels that they are close enough to joke like that. Though, for the little he has seen about him, it could be that he simply speaks things as he thinks them.
Ritsu continues observing the customer, not being able to articulate a proper reply. He was trying to fall asleep after all, but the reason he woke up was because… Well, him.
“She didn’t like the flower?” Ritsu replies with another question instead, sounding a little more upset than he intended. After all, he was the one who helped him choose the flower, if whoever received the flower didn’t like it it meant that it was partially his fault.
“She did like it.” He says, that bright smile not leaving his face. Ritsu tilts his head not understanding why would he return if she really did like the flower… Unless he wanted to meet him…? “But I promised her a bouquet.” The customer adds, a nervous laugh leaving — perfect — lips.
Ritsu raises an eyebrow confused.
“The bouquet services have been cancelled.” He reminds him, for first time speaking those words instead of simply pointing at the flyer. “If you want a bouquet you should go to another shop.” Even if the idea of this customer going to another shop isn’t something that he really likes, it’s still better than having to work himself.
“I know, I know…” The young man says, checking some of the flowers that he didn’t have the chance to observe the previous day. “But this place seems to be the only one in which they sell all the flowers she wants.” He’s still skimming through the shop and Ritsu soon sees him surrounded by the colourful flowers. “So it has to be this place.” He says, a soft smile on his face.
Ritsu hums uninterested. Part of him gets happy hearing his words, if this customer wants to keep making that girl happy, then it means that he will keep coming over. That’s not something unpleasant.
“I still won’t arrange any bouquet for you.” He says bluntly. He still has to remain true to his principles, the minimum-working policy.
The customer laughs, his voice filling the shop.
“I thought so.” Is all he says, while finally picking one of the flowers, walking toward the counter once again. “This one is a poppy, right?” He asks, handing the flower to Ritsu.
“Did the tag say that this is a poppy?” The dark haired one replies once again with another question, still not holding the flower and simply observing it, as he doesn’t understand why the customer is handing it to him.
“It did.” The customer replies sounding a little confused.
“Then it must be.” Ritsu sighs as he opens the notebook to check the price. He checks the item that the customer is holding once again. “That’s one flower,” he says, stating the obvious, “you can’t arrange a bouquet with only one flower.”
“I have two with the one at home.” He reminds him, almost proudly.
Ritsu hums once again, staring at the customer and still not understanding what does he mean with that. Two flowers are still not enough for a bouquet.
“Well you see…” He begins to explain, almost as if he feels pressured by Ritsu’s stare, “I was thinking… That maybe I could bring her one flower every day? You know, even if I give them one by one, in the end she will have enough flowers for a bouquet…” As he continues talking and Ritsu simply stares at him, he feels that maybe the idea he was so proud about wasn’t so good. “Is it a bad idea?” He asks, not really daring to see Ritsu directly.
“It is.” Ritsu replies, as bluntly as he’s usually is. “In the first place, you will have to come here every day. That alone is already an incredible amount of effort.” Not like I complain, since I will be able too see you again, he would like to add, but he decides to leave his thoughts inside his mind.
At least for now.
“In the second place, buying flowers individually instead of ordering a whole bouquet is definitely more pricey.” He can’t complain about that one either, after all, if this customer keeps buying flowers every day Natchan won’t be able to complain about low incomes. He keeps checking the notebook that Natchan left for him, “a bouquet’s size depends on the flowers you pick… Apparently for a mixed bouquet Natchan makes them between ten for small ones, eighteen for medium ones and twenty-five for big ones.”
He places the notebook right in front of the customer so he can check it too.
“Since you seem so earnest to please this girl, I assume you were thinking about either a medium or a big one, right?”
“Ye, yeah…” The customer stutters with his reply, either because he is surprised to see how talkative has Ritsu become or because his words are making him realize the harsh reality.
“That means you will have to come here every day for an amount of eighteen or twenty-five days.” Ritsu has to try his best to hide his smile, the idea of seeing this customer for such a long amount of time is something that really pleases him. “The shop doesn’t open on Saturdays and Sundays,” that was something he had to argue for a long time with Natchan too, there was no way he would work for seven days per week, he needed rest. If it were for him, he would also close on Fridays, but Natchan wouldn’t let him even argue about that. “Which means you will have to come here for a minimum of practically a whole month.”
The customer seems to be thinking about the words that Ritsu has told him, thinking about it, it really sounds like a tedious task, something completely not worth it.
“It would be easier if you simply bought a big amount of random flowers now.” Ritsu adds a yawn after talking, as if speaking for so long has tired him so much that he needs some rest.
The customer knows that he’s right, that the idea he had was a bad one, unpractical and definitely expensive.
But he doesn’t want to turn back in his decision.
“If I buy a daily flower, it will be like bringing a piece of happiness with me every day.” He says, his voice shaking a little as he himself is feeling embarrassed while speaking every single one of those words, his face becoming almost as red as that messy hair of his.
Ah, how cute. Is the only thought that fills Ritsu’s mind, not sure himself if it’s because of his words or because of the embarrassed face he is making. It might be a combination of both.
This customer... He really is earnest, and even if the idea is actually not practical and makes no sense, something inside him tells him that this boy can make it work.
He can’t avoid the small laugh that leaves his mouth, almost without realizing as the customer looks at him as if he was dealing with a life-or-death situation but the blush on his cheeks not leaving yet. Actually, thanks to Ritsu’s laugh they have become even more red, if that’s possible.
“What’s so funny?!” He asks completely flustered, but Ritsu only laughs for a little longer instead, not giving him a proper reply. “Whatever, just take the money.” He says handing Ritsu the money, trying to sound angry instead of embarrassed but failing. He must really be regretting saying those words.
“Here you go, the exchange.” Ritsu tells him dropping the coins into the customer’s palm, too lazy to hand them properly. “Good luck when you hand your piece of happiness~ ” The ways he says the last three words are obviously meant to be teasing, which is made even more obvious with the cheeky smile that appears on his face as he speaks, his eyes fixated on the customer, waiting for the reaction.
“Sh… Shut up…” He says, looking down while putting the money back into his wallet, face still red and clearly regretting having spoken.
Ritsu still keeps his cheeky smile on his face, clearly with the intention of provoking this customer even more. He might have discovered something almost as entertaining as sleeping. His face is so expressive that it makes Ritsu want to discover more and more sides of him until he has known them all and make sure to remember them. Maybe if he’s lucky enough and if he’s allowed to be selfish, he would like to discover a side of this customer that is only, just only for him.
But of course, he already knows that’s not going to happen.
“See you tomorrow~” Ritsu still teases him, lazily waving his hand as a goodbye as he gets ready to take a nap.
The customer simply mumbles a goodbye and something that Ritsu wants to interpret as a “see you tomorrow” as well as he steps outside the shop, leaving Ritsu alone.
He thinks about the words that the customer has said. A piece of happiness. He has to try his best to not laugh again, remembering how red his face looked. But he has to admit that those words were completely true. The customer is going to come every day and buy a flower, which means that Ritsu will be able to enjoy his presence every day.
And right now, that thought brings him an incredible amount of happiness.
“Isn’t it about time you tell me your name?” Ritsu asks suddenly, breaking the silence of the shop as the customer is, just like the previous days, searching for a flower to buy.
The customer blinks twice, looking at the young man who hasn’t moved even an inch from the counter ever since his first visit. His head resting on his crossed arms, but unlike other times it doesn’t look like he’s trying to fall asleep. His eyes are staring directly at him, curious and it gives the red-haired boy the feeling that he’s trying to look through him, directly into his soul.
He blames his oddly coloured red eyes that, while pretty, are incredibly mysterious.
“My name?” He repeats confused.
“You come every day,” Ritsu begins to explain, “and you plan to come over for at least a whole month.” His voice sounds far more uninterested than he actually is. Knowing the name of this particular customer is something that he has wanted ever since his first visit, but he never really found the correct way to do it.
In the end he has decided to go for the most blunt approach, it’s been already five whole days since their first meeting, his patience has a limit, and since he has the whole weekend waiting for him to sleep, he won’t have the chance to ask him in a while, that’s something he won’t allow.
“Unless you want me to continue calling you mister customer. ” Ritsu adds, mostly sarcastically because he has made up his mind and he’s definitely going to learn this red-haired young man’s name today.
“You have never called me like that.” The customer says between laughs. Ritsu tries to make an effort remembering all the conversations they have had until now and he discovers that he’s right, he has never called him any way at all.
At least not out loud.
After all, he does have to refer to him in some way or another when he thinks about him.
But he would prefer to start calling him by his name instead of my customer.
“Then it’s about time I start calling you some way.” Ritsu pouts, upset that he has to go through all this hassle just to know something as simple as his name.
“Well, you are right about that…” The customer admits and Ritsu can’t help grinning a little, finally, he’s finally going to learn his name, “but,” Ritsu’s grin disappears as quickly as it appeared. But. That’s never something good. “Usually you would introduce yourself before asking someone’s name.” He says and Ritsu can see a faint blush in his — cute — cheeks.
He doesn’t want to have his hopes up, but could it be that for this whole week, this customer has also been struggling to make the same question?
“You should already know that… It’s your fifth day here.” He complains, making the customer feel really confused. “You should pay more attention to your surroundings…” He adds, pointing at the nametag that is pinned to his apron, the one that Natchan forced him to wear because it’s the most similar thing the shop has to an uniform.
The customer walks a few steps, getting closer to Ritsu and finally laying his eyes on it.
“So you had something like this… I didn’t even notice…” he admits, reading the characters on it.
“Were you so enchanted by my face that you didn’t pay attention to your surroundings?” Ritsu mocks him, already knowing that that’s not the case but deep inside hoping that he will answer yes.
“That’s… That’s not it!” The red-haired answers, way more flustered than he would ever admit, but enough to make Ritsu feel amused.
“I know, it’s the flowers, right?” Ritsu tells him, his voice sounding more pained than he intended. He already knew it, but he couldn’t avoid having hope.
“Yeah… Well, that too…” He admits, not looking directly at Ritsu for a while.
“That too?” He asks, curious as he doesn’t know what else could he pay attention other to the flowers.
“Whenever I come here… You are like this. ” The customer crosses his arms in the air, just like Ritsu does on top of the counter and lies his head on them, imitating the same pose as the one that the dark haired boy has almost all the time. “See, I couldn’t see the tag when you were like this.” He explains.
Ritsu hums in acknowledgment, he didn’t really think about that, but the customer is right.
“Well, now you can see it, right?” He says, a little defensive, not wanting to admit that this whole deal about knowing each other’s names could have been resolved a lot earlier if he wasn’t so extremely lazy.
“Yeah,” The customer answers, looking at the nametag once again. Ritsu. “I don’t see the surname though…” He says, checking a third and a fourth time before looking back at Ritsu’s face.
Ritsu clicks his tongue, annoyed for whatever reason.
“There’s no need for something like that.” He says, obviously pissed off. The customer doesn’t want to ask for more details, but he guesses that he simply doesn’t like to be called by his surname. “So? What’s your name, mister customer ?” The way he says those words are an obvious tease, enjoying the last time he will get to call him like that.
“There’s no need for something like surnames, right…?” He repeats Ritsu’s words, to which he nods. “It’s Mao.” He finally says, a smile on his face as he reveals his own name. Ritsu simply hums in acknowledgement once again, “nice to meet you, Ritsu.”
His heart skips a beat when the customer, Mao, calls him like that, using his name, and even if Ritsu has heard a lot of people calling him by his name, none of them had ever have the same effect as Mao.
Sure, it’s probably because he has been waiting for this moment for a while already, but that doesn’t make it affect him less.
“Nice to meet you…” He replies as well, lazily going back to his ‘default pose’ as he has achieved his daily… Actually weekly, or even monthly objective, he knows his customer’s name. He deserves a small rest.
“You are going back to sleep?” Mao asks, already expecting a positive reply. It’s a little amusing how he has gotten used to this kind of behaviour from him. Ritsu nods softly, before lazily placing his head on his arms and trying to find the most adequate position to sleep in. “I’m not going to complain about the way you manage the shop but…” Mao sighs, “what will you do if someone walks in while you are sleeping?”
“It’s alright, it’s alright~” Ritsu mumbles sleepily, his eyes closed already, “Maa-kun will wake me up.”
“Maa-kun?” Mao asks looking around the shop. In the days he has been here, he has never seen any other person working besides Ritsu, so if there’s another employee he would like to meet him… Though that seems unlikely, if there was someone else giving service to the customers, he wouldn’t have so many problems choosing flowers. Or, well, there was also the option of him being an even worse worker than Ritsu. But Mao soon gets his answer, when Ritsu points at him, as lazily as his other movements, seeming completely out of energy. “Me!?” He asks way more surprised than he wanted to seem.
“You are being noisy…” The sleepy one complains, putting his hand back to the place it belongs, under his head so it works like a pillow.
“Sorry… But, hey wait, you shouldn’t let a customer take care of you… In the first place, you shouldn’t sleep during work!” Mao scolds him, the only reply being a groan followed by a soft snore. “Wait, you are already asleep?” He asks, already knowing that Ritsu won’t reply him at all. He has to admit, that it’s impressive how fast he has managed to fall asleep, it’s almost like a talent.
He sighs once again, leaning his back against the counter. If Ritsu is asleep there’s no need for him to rush picking the flower, he can just take a small break in the shop while watching Ritsu sleep.
Not like he particularly has any interest in observing him sleep.
It’s just that Ritsu seems to fit naturally in the picture, sleeping peacefully surrounded by flowers, he doesn’t disturb them with noise or movements. Mao sees how the small pink petals of one of the flower that is placed in the counter, as decoration he supposes since there isn’t any tag attached to it, fall on Ritsu’s hair, one after another.
It’s not something that he sees for first time, actually, Ritsu’s hair is always full of different petals of different colours and shapes. Mao has never told him, not knowing how to bring the topic and also thinking that they don’t look bad on him. He also has the feeling that even if he told him, Ritsu would be too lazy to bother taking them off, so it’s not like it really matters.
But this time, before he realizes it he finds himself taking the small pink petals away from Ritsu’s hair, carefully, making sure to not wake him up. His fingers can’t avoid touching his black hair once, twice, thrice and so many times that he has lost count and the petals don’t even matter anymore, he’s simply playing with his hair, so soft against his hand that it’s even relaxing.
He wonders, for a second, if thanks to the petals, his hair smells like flowers.
Not like he’s going to sniff him.
That would be weird.
Ritsu’s head moves a little under his hand, a small groan coming out from his mouth and Mao’s first instinct is to take his hand away and hide it behind his back.
Not like it really does anything, if Ritsu has woken up because Mao was playing with his hair, he will still know it was him. There isn’t anyone else in the shop after all.
“Customer…?” He mumbles still asleep, raising his head and observing the shop through his half closed eyelids.
“I’m the only one here.” Mao informs him, softly, “you can sleep for a little longer while I pick a flower.”
Ritsu doesn’t think twice before taking that offer and once again falls asleep, almost seeming as if he hadn’t been awake at all.
And Mao thinks that maybe today he should take some time to decide which flower to buy. It’s the last flower of the week after all, he has to make sure it’s a perfect one.
It's on the second day of the second week, the seventh day ever since they first met, that Mao sees Ritsu more than a few centimeters away from the counter.
Actually, it's the first time he sees him standing up.
He still looks as lethargic as always, knowing the kind of person he is, he probably has just waken up from one of his multiple daily naps, but at least, it’s a pleasant surprise for Mao to see that he’s working properly taking care of the flowers.
Ritsu has a watering can on his hands, carefully using it to make sure that the plants stay hydrated. He seems to be so absorbed in the duty that he hasn’t even noticed that Mao has entered the shop.
Mao thinks that the sight, in some way, is relaxing and… Incredibly pleasant. He definitely can’t deny that.
The image of ritsu surrounded by flowers is something that he is starting to enjoy more than he would ever like to admit. Either when he’s awake and the flowers are simply around him, like a beautiful frame for a photography, or when he’s sleeping and he almost becomes one with the small ecosystem that the flower shop is, or just like now, when he’s actually trying to take care of the plants… All those images, he has the feeling that he will never get tired of seeing them.
He has to force himself to come back to reality from his thoughts and get close to Ritsu.
There is something that he needs to confirm.
“So, we are the same height…” Mao says, standing next to him.
Ritsu gets startled, raising the watering can abruptly and accidentally making some of the water fall on Mao. Not enough for it to be actually bothersome, actually, he hasn’t even really noticed it and just continues looking at Ritsu, whose heart might be about to explode thanks to the scare he has just received.
It doesn’t take him long to calm down though.
“I’m taller.” He states, sounding a little angrier than he had expected, but he thinks that it’s okay, after being scared like that he has all the right to be even a tiny bit angry at Maa-kun.
Mao hums, looking him from the top of his head to his shoes, inspecting him, making sure to know if what Ritsu has said is true or not.
“Are you sure?” He asks finally, frowning a little as he really doesn’t see any notable height difference between them.
“Definitely.” Ritsu tells him, so sure of himself that Mao doesn't have any other choice than accepting it.
It’s not a very notable difference, but Ritsu is completely sure, that even if it’s just by one single centimeter, he’s definitely taller than Maa-kun.
But still, Maa-kun decides to have another long look at him, inspecting him from top to bottom.
It’s… Not unpleasant. But even if he decides to go back to work, he can still feel Maa-kun’s eyes directly on him and it’s… Distracting.
He admits that he has also inspected every bit of Maa-kun while he was in the shop, but he has always done it from a bigger distance and definitely in a more discreet way.
For Maa-kun to have such a great interest in him that he is completely ignoring the flowers around him, somehow it makes Ritsu happy.
He decides to do the same, look back at Maa-kun and he sees, that the only thing reflected in Maa-kun’s eyes is himself.
It almost feels as if the flowers have disappeared, he has to remind himself that he’s holding the watering can, otherwise he will drop it, because Maa-kun is still looking at him, with an expression on his face that Ritsu can’t really read. It's something between curiosity and amazement maybe, and even if he tries to endure it, at some point it becomes too much.
Even if he’s happy that Maa-kun seems to only have eyes for him, it’s starting to make him feel that if this continues for too long he will do something that he will regret.
Specially when he himself is starting to stare at Maa-kun and specially at those half-parted lips of him. They are truly… Inviting.
“Maa-kun,” Ritsu manages to say, finally looking away from him, that alone taking all of his effort and willpower,“you are staring.” He accuses, deciding to walk away back to the counter as he has finished with his work. He really deserves a nap now.
Maa-kun seems to snap back into reality hearing those words, blinking repeatedly and his face becoming flushed.
“Sorry! I didn’t want to…” He starts to excuse himself, not managing to find the correct words. “Did I make you uncomfortable…?” He asks, not even daring to look at the counter where Ritsu is.
“Not really.” There’s a yawn following his words as he, as always, decides that it’s the perfect time to take a nap.
“Was it…” Mao tries to find the correct word, but it gets stuck in his throat.
“Weird?” Ritsu decides to say for him, a grin on his face as Maa-kun nods softly. “Come over here~” he requests, moving his hand lazily in an inviting motion.
Mao obeys, walking slowly to the counter, wondering what does Ritsu want from him. But once he is in front of him, Ritsu doesn’t speak a single word, he simply looks at him, from top to bottom, ignoring all the surroundings, Maa-kun being the only thing that fills his sight.
The red-haired boy doesn’t seem to know what to do. He looks around the counter for a while, then at Ritsu, and then to the flowers.
It doesn’t feel completely bad, but… Mao feels that if Ritsu continues looking at him it won’t be good for his heart.
“You get it now?” Ritsu asks, still looking at Maa-kun with that smile of his.
“I think so…” He replies, feeling a little, only a very little tiny bit, less nervous now that they are having a conversation.
“It’s weird to be stared at so suddenly,” Ritsu yawns once again, “did you decide which flower you want today?” he asks, changing the topic abruptly, and Mao wonders if it’s because he wants to go to sleep soon.
“Not yet, I will start checking now.” He explains, facing the flowers.
“Then I’ll make sure to stare at Maa-kun while he picks a flower~” Ritsu teases, leaning his head on his hand while, as he has just said, looks at Mao.
“Aren’t you going to sleep?” Maa-kun asks, flustered and turning to look at Ritsu, he still seems a little embarrassed about the idea of having Ritsu paying attention to him and only him.
“I can sleep a lot once Maa-kun goes away.” He says, a childish smile not leaving his mouth as he speaks, which only makes Mao even more flustered. As always, Ritsu has way too much fun teasing his customer.
“What if I take a long time choosing the flower?” It almost sounds like a threat, telling Ritsu that the longer he stares, the longer he will stay, which means that he won’t be able to sleep any time soon.
“Then I’ll get to see Maa-kun for a really long time~” is the reply he gets, his intention obviously backfiring and instead only making him feel even more flustered.
“Do whatever you want…” He mumbles, facing the flowers once again and Ritsu feels that he has achieved some kind of victory.
And just like Maa-kun has told him, he does what he wants. Though, at some point it looks like Maa-kun has completely forgotten about the fact that Ritsu is staring at him, observing every single one of his movements.
Maa-kun really puts his all into everything, even with something as just picking up a flower…
Then again, Maa-kun has made it clear that it’s something important for him, otherwise he wouldn’t bother to come every day.
Sometimes Ritsu forgets about that, that Maa-kun is picking a flower every day for another person, that he already has someone important for him.
That he will never be as important as that person.
And it really is unfair when Maa-kun does something like that, looking at him for so long, making him have a small shred of hope that gets broken as soon as he remembers the harsh reality.
Maa-kun is really a cruel person.
He knows that’s not true, but unless he convinces himself, he won’t be able to…
His thoughts get interrupted when he hears Maa-kun sneezing. It’s not especially loud, but it was unexpected enough to make him completely forget about what was he thinking.
“Sorry.” He apologizes, taking his handkerchief.
Ritsu then notices that unlike during all the previous days, Maa-kun doesn’t carry a note with a list of flowers with him this time.
He thinks that none of those two things are something important and decides to shrug them off. Thinking for too long will only make him more sleepy, and he wants to make sure he stays awake while Maa-kun is still here.
At some point, Ritsu has decided that it's better to stop counting the days. In the end, if he keeps counting them, it will only be a reminder that the last day in which he will get to see his Maa-kun is getting closer.
Besides, considering that almost two whole weeks have passed, it means that now it's a countdown, half of the time Maa-kun has promised to come has already passed.
Time sure flies.
He doesn't really like that.
His eyes keep following Maa-kun as he, just like always, tries to pick a flower.
Ritsu wonders, how come that after coming to the shop so often, daily, he still hasn't memorized the place in which each flower is.
Well, the same could apply to him, but his case is easy, he has no interest in something like that.
Meanwhile, Maa-kun seems to take even more time each day, checking every one of the flowers and even after picking one, he will stay with Ritsu for a while, either talking while he tries to sleep or simply staying next to him while he sleeps.
When the second case happens, he always wakes him up before leaving, to tell him that he's leaving so he doesn't get worried when he wakes up and sees that he isn't there anymore.
Ritsu usually hates being woken up from his sleep but… he can't say that he dislikes it when this customer wakes him up. Because Maa-kun could leave in any moment, there was absolutely no reason for him to stay.
But every time Ritsu opens his eyes, Mao is still with him and there's a part of Ritsu that feels safe, because even when he has been sleeping he hasn't been alone, Maa-kun hasn't left him.
And knowing that, it only makes him want for Maa-kun to stay with him, always and forever.
But he knows that's impossible.
After all he already has someone special in his life.
No matter how many times he tells that to himself, it only hurts him more each time. There's a certain part of him that still doesn't want to believe it, that still wants to keep trying, stay next to Maa-kun forever.
“How weird…” Ritsu hears suddenly, Mao's voice echoing through the shop, making him come back to reality from his thoughts. “I have never seen these flowers open.” He says, pointing at the flowers in front of him.
Ritsu moves a little from the counter, not enough to get out from it, just to get a better view of which flowers are the ones that Mao is talking about.
It's not difficult to identify them, a low quantity of white flowers, small and closed rest in front of the red haired boy.
“Are they dead…?” Mao asks, raising his hand but stopping right before touching them, thinking that it might be a bad idea after all if he places his hand on them.
“They aren't dead.” Ritsu states frowning, somehow offended that Maa-kun has suggested that he isn't taking proper care of the flowers. As lazy as he is, he is at least making sure that each one of these flowers get all the care they need to survive. Even if it's barely. “Natchan would kill me if I let any of the flowers die.” He complains, realizing that that's indeed the only reason he's actually bothering to take care of the flowers.
“Natchan?” Mao asks, turning to face Ritsu and there's something about his expression, the way he's looking at Ritsu that Ritsu can't really decipher. Something in his eyes tells him that he's worried, maybe even scared, but Ritsu really can't understand why.
“The owner of the shop.” He replies, still trying to discover what does Maa-kun's expression mean.
“A… friend?” Mao asks, the words coming out dry from his throat and a part of him wants to asks, make sure that it's just a friend and nothing else but he knows that doing that would be suspicious.
And weird, definitely weird.
“Yeah.” Ritsu answers, “just a friend.” He adds, instinctively, noticing the change on Mao's voice but not really understanding why is he so worried about that.
“I see…” there's a sigh of relief and a smile on his face… cute . “In any case,” he clears his throat when he says that, feeling embarrassed that he has let his feelings show so much, “why don't these flowers open?” he asks, changing the topic so suddenly that it makes even Ritsu forget about what they were talking about.
“I have seen them open during the night.” Ritsu explains, returning to his usual position. “According to Natchan’s notes they are moonflowers… Or something like that.” He adds, skimming through the pages of the notebook that lies next to him in the counter, not really bothering to read anything.
He has already checked most of the stuff once or twice, so there's no real reason to pay attention to it anymore.
“Notes?” Maa-kun asks looking at the notebook.
“Natchan left them for me, to make the work easier, or something like that.” Ritsu explains, but just by glancing at Mao he knows that the reply isn't enough to satisfy him. “There's information to take care of the flowers, their meaning, where they are located in the shop… Things like that.” He adds, and this time it looks like Maa-kun is more satisfied with the answer as he hums hearing his words. “Actually… I already showed you this notebook, when we talked about the size of bouquets.” He reminds him, opening the page with that information.
“I wasn't paying attention to that…” Maa-kun replies, remembering the conversation they had and that there might have been a notebook, a paper or something. But it was the first time he had seen Ritsu talk so much, with so much energy, his voice so full of emotion that he couldn't stop paying attention to it, the expression of his face, the way his hair moved, making the flower petals that were stuck on it dance around even if he didn't seem to notice…
There was no way he could pay attention to something like a notebook.
“But if you had something like that, you could have made my task searching flowers easier…” He sighs, trying to not think too deeply about that day in which he had made up his mind to visit the shop daily.
Ritsu leaves the notebook aside, resting his head on his hand as he looks at Mao, a soft laugh leaving his mouth.
“But if I did that, I wouldn't get to see you for so long.” He jokes, half heartedly because he does mean what he says. It's just that Maa-kun doesn't need to know that.
And in any case, his words give him the reaction he wanted.
Maa-kun has blushed all the way to the top of his ears, his mouth opening and closing a few times without any sound coming out because even if he wants to say something, anything, complain like he always does, he can't really deny that he enjoys having Ritsu's full attention.
So he decides to simply turn around, give his back to Ritsu, he won't let him do as he pleases with him
At least… Not yet…
“So! These flowers,” Mao says, voice too high and clearly unable to feel completely at ease knowing that Ritsu is definitely looking at him. So he decides to abruptly change the topic, going back to the original one, maybe that way he will start to feel more relaxed. “They only open during the night?” He asks, having a closer look to them.
“Apparently.” Ritsu confirms, checking the notes once again just to make sure that he is talking about the right flower. “These flowers sure know what's good, they decide to wake up at the most fun time~ just like me.” He laughs softly at the end, as if he had told a joke that only he is able to understand
“Just like you…” Maa-kun hums, still inspecting the flower. “I won't be able to see them in their most beautiful form unless I stay until the night…” He whispers, and Ritsu's heart skips a beat because even if he knows that Maa-kun is talking about the flowers, he can't help but think that maybe he was also talking about him as well.
“Do you want to see?” Ritsu asks, his voice coming out louder than he is used to and he feels that something inside him is burning.
And it's scary how Maa-kun has this effect in him, how he has the ability to light a fire inside him with just a few words, how he feels that his heart doesn't belong to himself anymore but to Maa-kun and how everything seems to shine when he is close.
It's scary because Ritsu never thought he could feel something so intense, he never thought there would ever be a reason to stay awake during the day, never thought in senseless things like destiny and love, never thought there would be a point in his life in which he felt that the days feel too short and the nights too long.
And it hurts. Because he knows that there is no way they can ever be together, his heart twists whenever he remembers that the one who will stay by his side forever and ever isn't him, that Maa-kun will never look at him the same way Ritsu looks at Maa-kun.
But all the pain he feels is forgotten as soon as Maa-kun turns, looking at him once again and his emerald coloured eyes meet his own ruby coloured eyes.
Their gazes meet for one, two and three seconds.
A brief moment in which it feels like time has stopped and there isn't anything else apart from them, the flowers disappear and it's just them, as if nothing else ever mattered.
And then it's over, suddenly Ritsu is brought back to reality and has to remind himself that they are actually in the middle of a conversation.
“I want to see.” Mao replies Ritsu's question, his ears and face still red and Ritsu simply assumes that it's because he hasn't had enough time to recover from the comment he did a while ago.
“You will have to stay until the night.” Ritsu reminds him, not being able to avoid the smile that appears in his face because Maa-kun wants to stay. He knows that it's because of the flowers, but just for today, he will let himself live in a dream and think that Maa-kun is staying because of him.
He knows that if he does that it will only be more difficult to give up on him, that he is only making a mistake.
But he actually already knows, that it's already too late to go back.
“Until the night… surrounded by flowers…” Maa-kun doesn't seem to be very convinced and Ritsu can understand him, the idea isn't really appealing but…
“It won't be only flowers,” he complains, “there's also me~”
Mao stares at him, trying to decipher if that was supposed to be taken seriously or as a joke.
“You probably just plan to sleep all time, right?” He sighs, deciding to settle for the first option.
“Small details, there's nothing bad about that~” Ritsu lazily retorts, already closing his eyes. “Maa-kun, stay with me while I sleep.” He requests, his voice sounding way too serious even if he's supposed to be falling asleep.
“I don't have any other choice, do I?” Mao complains, earning a smile from Ritsu because even if he says that, even if he complains so much, Ritsu knows that if he didn't want to stay he wouldn't.
He can definitely know that, after all, through his half closed eyelids he can see Maa-kun's soft smile, his eyes looking at him as if he was the most precious thing he has ever seen.
Ritsu thinks that it's probably his sleepy mind playing tricks on him, but he doesn't mind.
“Let's watch the flowers together when I wake up.” He manages to mumble before closing his eyes completely.
Even if he had promised himself that he would stop counting days, it becomes really difficult once the week begins once again.
After all, even if he doesn’t count the days, it’s difficult to stop remembering that this is already the third week they are seeing each other every day.
The third week, and Maa-kun will only come for a month.
Meaning that over half their time together has already passed.
Short. It feels way too short.
He would love to stay in Maa-kun’s life, just as an acquaintance or a friend would be enough, sure, he would definitely prefer to be someone much more important but he already knows that something like that is… Improbable.
Ritsu wants to tell himself that it’s impossible, but the word doesn’t fit his mind. Whenever he remembers the way Maa-kun looks at him, the way his voice sounds when he’s trying to wake him up, the way his hand plays with his hair when he thinks that Ritsu is sleeping (and probably when he is sleeping as well)...
Things like those make him think that maybe and only maybe there’s a small chance for him.
But then he remembers that the reason Maa-kun is coming every single day is because he already has someone in his life.
He sighs as just like always he follows Maa-kun while he chooses his… How did he call it again, piece of happiness ?
Ritsu has noticed that by every passing day, Maa-kun takes longer to pick a flower. He doesn’t carry a note anymore, meaning that the girl he is gifting the flowers to didn’t give him any new reference… And taking into account how difficult it had been to pick a flower on the first day, Ritsu already has an idea of how difficult to please could she be.
And Maa-kun probably just wanted to make sure that he didn’t mess up. He was buying… Happiness, after all, if he bought a flower that the girl wouldn’t like, it wouldn’t be a piece of happiness.
Failure isn’t an option… Or something like that.
Knowing how earnest Maa-kun is, Ritsu can totally imagine a scenario like that happening.
“It looks like you have it rough…” Ritsu finally speaks from the counter, his voice sounding as lethargic as always, uninterested even if he actually feels more upset than bored. After all, he has just reminded himself that he will never have the chance to be with the person he has fallen for.
Maa-kun seems to wake up from something like a trance, probably deep in thought as he was trying to pick one of the many beautiful flowers from the shop.
Flowers that Ritsu is trying his best to keep alive. That’s the least he can do, after all, Maa-kun needs to see that sleeping isn’t the only thing he can do. He has to show him that albeit rarely, he can do things properly. Occasionally.
Maa-kun turns his gaze to Ritsu and as always, Ritsu loves how for a brief second Maa-kun seems to ignore the flowers and pays attention to him and only to him.
It’s only a second, a really brief second but Ritsu still cherishes it.
Though, lately he has noticed that Maa-kun’s eyes seem to be watery and he sneezes quite often. It seems to have gotten even worse after that day in which he stayed until the night to see the moonflowers bloom.
Ritsu wonders if it’s a cold, but if Maa-kun is still able to come every day then it means that it mustn’t be something to worry about… Or at least he hopes that Maa-kun will prioritise his health over some pretty flowers.
“Why do you say that?” Maa-kun asks confused, frowning a little as he doesn’t understand Ritsu’s sudden commentary.
“Choosing a flower eeeevery day,” Ritsu sighs making it look as if he was being the one making the effort that Mao is actually doing. Though, if he has to be honest, just looking at him tires him, he would never be able to pull a task like the one that Maa-kun has put all his heart into. “Always a different one… Your girlfriend seems difficult to please…” He adds, the words stinging him a little as he speaks.
But it’s something that he needs to confirm. He needs to hear it from Maa-kun’s own mouth, that way he will be able to finally give up and forget about that small, slight, tiny hope he is holding into.
“Girlfriend?” But instead Maa-kun replies to him looking even more confused than before, the way he has spoken making Ritsu’s heart start racing because that small, slight, tiny hope he was holding into has just increased considerably.
“The girl you are buying the flowers to.” Ritsu says, not really letting his feelings show in his voice because it’s still too early to have his hopes up.
“Ah, that…” Maa-kun looks away, setting his gaze once again on the flowers in front of him as he picks one, observing it and trying to make up his mind, maybe this is the one he will choose for today. “They are for my sister.” He explains, simply, turning back to see Ritsu again before he speaks his next words. “I don’t have a girlfriend or anything like that.”
And Ritsu feels that Maa-kun is trying to tell him something more with those words, he feels his heart racing and pounding so hard against his chest that it almost hurts.
This is completely different from the result he expected, but it’s better than he had ever wanted.
“I see…” Ritsu hopes that his face isn’t really showing how he feels, he can feel his cheeks burning hot but it’s not like it really matters because he feels that he himself, his whole being, is burning.
He hopes that Maa-kun thinks that the reason his face might be getting red is because he is embarrassed about the mistaken assumption he had for so long.
Well, it isn’t completely off the mark.
But now that he knows that Maa-kun doesn’t have anyone special… His wish to become his special person has just increased.
If he thinks about it, there are some things that actually pointed out to that.
Such as that she didn’t want to get anything romantic because it would be gross.
But Ritsu didn’t think too deeply into that because in the end, when a boy talks about buying flowers for a girl the first thing you think about is that he is buying flowers for his girlfriend.
So this small misunderstanding is actually Maa-kun’s fault.
“She wanted a bouquet for her birthday,” Maa-kun starts explaining suddenly, “she gave me a list with the flowers she wanted and forced me to come here.” He complains followed by a sigh.
“Older sister?” Ritsu asks, thinking that if someone can order around Maa-kun so much it must be because she must be older.
“Younger sister.” Maa-kun corrects him and Ritsu sees in Maa-kun’s expression that he himself understands that being ordered around by your younger sibling mustn’t be something that is going to make him look too good.
Ritsu thinks that it’s cute though.
“Do you have any siblings?” Maa-kun asks, drifting the topic to Ritsu instead.
Ritsu clicks his tongue, a person coming into his mind when Maa-kun asks that but not too fond of admitting that that is actually his older brother.
“I might have something like that.” He replies simply, trying to delete the image of that person from his mind. He feels that if they actually talk about him for too long, he might rush into the shop as if he had been summoned, and that’s definitely the last thing he wants.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Maa-kun laughs a little at his reply, which immediately makes Ritsu’s mood return to a better one.
He still wants to completely change the topic though.
“So that’s why you are buying flowers every day?” Ritsu asks, going back to the original topic.
“Yeah... At least at first.” He whispers the last part, only to himself as he finally picks a flower and walks toward the counter, a small part of him hoping that Ritsu has heard him, but another part hoping that he hasn’t.
It would be embarrassing if he asked what he means with that after all.
“Then, what was all that about?” Ritsu asks and seeing that mocking smile on his face, Mao already knows that he doesn’t want Ritsu to continue talking, this isn’t going to end well for him, he can already feel it. “About bringing a piece of happiness with you every day?” He asks, obviously wanting to mess with his — cute — Maa-kun.
He already sees, how Maa-kun’s face becomes red once again, the words sounding too embarrassingly familiar to his ears.
“Shu… Shut up…” He manages to say while his mouth open and closes. “I thought you had already forgotten about that…” He hadn’t forgotten it himself, that day in which he had managed to hear Ritsu’s laugh, that day in which he said something so embarrassing that he would actually like to bury it into the depths of his mind and completely forget about it.
“I would never forget something that Maa-kun has said.” Ritsu declares, sounding incredibly sure of himself and almost proud. And Mao knows that it’s completely impossible that’s true as there is no way he would be able to remember everything he says, but he wants to believe him. He wants to believe that Ritsu would never lie to him. “But I’m really curious now… What did you mean when you said that?” Ritsu asks, his gaze feeling like knives that dig into Maa-kun as he speaks, every second making him feel even more embarrassed.
There is no way he is going to tell Ritsu that the reason he said that, the reason those flowers are a piece of happiness, is because thanks to that, he has an excuse to come to the shop every day and talk to Ritsu.
That the piece of happiness wasn’t meant to be about the flowers, but about the time he manages to spend with Ritsu.
“Just… Forget about it.” Maa-kun replies flustered.
Maybe someday he will be able to be honest and tell him.
He won't come today. Ritsu thinks, completely sure of his words as he looks at the heavy rain that is falling outside the walls of the shop.
No one would get out from the way just for a single flower. Even if Maa-kun had said he would come every day until he had enough flowers to make up for a bouquet, it is obvious that under these circumstances he will pass.
Ritsu himself doesn't know why is he here in the first place.
It's not like anyone will come today, and even if someone comes, if it's not Maa-kun he doesn't really care.
But at least that means he will be able to sleep peacefully for today, since no one is coming in.
But the thought doesn't really make him happy, being all alone for a whole day, not a single person crossing the door... He hopes that that changes tomorrow. That the sun will come out tomorrow.
That his sun will come tomorrow.
He can't stop thinking about him, Maa-kun's face filling his mind, making his heart feel warm but also feeling a small and dull pain.
And it's when he closes his eyes ready to fall asleep that he gets startled by the sound of someone entering the shop abruptly, with heavy steps and breathless.
Ritsu raises his head immediately, focusing his eyes in the intruder, ready to scold them for interrupting his precious sleep time.
But he loses all will to stay angry when he recognises the customer.
“Maa-kun?” He asks, a mixture of surprise and happiness, definitely happiness, in his voice.
“Hey… Hi…” The red-haired boy replies, still trying to catch his breath.
And then Ritsu does something that he has almost never done since Mao knows him.
He moves away from the counter to get closer to Mao, his hair and clothes… even his shoes, all of him is soaked, small drips of water falling from his hair to the floor, to his clothes, to his face.
“Sorry about that…” He says looking down and it takes awhile for Ritsu to understand that he's talking about the puddle of water that is now in the floor.
He couldn't care less about that, to be honest.
There's something about seeing Maa-kun like this that won't let him look away. His clothes are completely glued to his body, though (unfortunately, he thinks for a brief second) it doesn't look like they are thin enough to let him see through them. At least it's enough to let Ritsu know the lines of his body.
That's a start. He can be pleased with that.
Seeing his hair against his face isn't something unpleasant either, and apparently the usual hairpin he wears was annoying him enough to take it off.
It's the first time Ritsu gets to see him with his bangs down and he understands why he decides to always have them up. They are long, way too long and right now they are probably narrowing his field of vision considerably. But Maa-kun looks cute like this, he thinks. Even if he has gotten so used to the usual hairstyle that part of him thinks that this one doesn't suit him.
But the best thing might be the sound of his voice now, panting, trying to catch his breath.
It really is a nice sound, he thinks.
It makes him think about… things.
“You are going to catch a cold.” Ritsu tells Maa-kun, a hint of worry showing on his voice but more importantly, he has spoken to try to make his thoughts stop from going astray.
This is honestly dangerous and unfair, something like a test of restraining that he isn't very sure he wants to pass if failing means that he gets to…
“Yeah…” Maa-kun admits, shaking his head to make the raindrops from his hair drop faster, some of them falling on Ritsu. “Ah, sorry…” he apologizes as he stretches his hand to wipe away the drops from Ritsu's face.
But Ritsu steps away.
He doesn't really want to, but it's better this way.
He doesn't mind touching Maa-kun, but if Maa-kun is the one touching him who knows how will he react.
It's better to not discover it, probably.
“Sorry…” The young man apologizes once again, this time sounding genuinely upset as he puts his hand down.
“It's alright.” Is all that Ritsu manages to say, regretting having given that step back.
“I will help cleaning up.” Maa-kun offers himself enthusiastically as he apparently has recovered his breath. What a pity.
Usually Ritsu would accept that kind of offer without thinking twice, actually, he would probably end up making Maa-kun do all the work, but this time he shakes his head.
“You should take it easy.” He tells him, stepping closer to him once again, putting his hand on Maa-kun's face.
He knows that it's selfish to do this when he has just rejected Maa-kun's touch, but he also thinks that this could be a way to make up for it. Show Maa-kun that he doesn't mind having physical contact with him.
“You are cold.” Ritsu states, a frown appearing on his face as he feels Maa-kun's body temperature. He isn't precisely a person whose body temperature is high, so for Mao to feel even colder...“Maa-kun is always warm,” he adds, feeling how his hand becomes wet and cold thanks to the drops that, even if almost gone, are still falling from Maa-kun's hair. “I don't like it when you are cold.” He says, like a small child who isn't getting things on the way he likes it.
Maa-kun laughs a little, making Ritsu's frown disappear and instead making him look at that bright smile that has appeared on Maa-kun's face, that smile that he loves so much and that even if his body is cold, feels so warm.
“Sorry about that.” He apologizes once again, but this time he doesn't really seem to mean it as he can't really do anything about it. Ritsu isn't distracted enough by the sound of his voice and under his hand, he notices that Maa-kun is trembling.
“Are you here to buy another flower?” Ritsu asks changing the topic, softly, tired of hearing Maa-kun apologize when he hasn't done anything bad. And he thinks that maybe if they talk, Maa-kun will forget about the cold outside, about the rain and that his body will start to warm up again.
He tries to get his hand away from Maa-kun's face, but Maa-kun grabs his wrists when he notices his intention, making Ritsu unable to move.
Not like he really minds.
“Yeah…” Maa-kun replies, nuzzling against Ritsu's hand with his eyes closed, seeking for any kind of warmth. Cute , Ritsu thinks, for who knows how many times since he has meet this customer.
“You really are a good big brother... “ Ritsu smiles softly, feeling a sting of jealousy at the same time. After all, he wants to be so important for Maa-kun that he will run in the rain for him, do the impossible and even more just to bring him happiness. He wants to become that kind of existence for Maa-kun.
Of course, he would return that the best way he could. He would also give himself completely to Maa-kun.
“Coming all the way here just to buy a flower for your sister…” He says, and if the pain that he is feeling is being reflected in his words, he doesn't know, he feels that he can't really hide his feelings anymore.
Maa-kun continues nuzzling against his hand, and Ritsu wonders if he has even heard him.
“What if I told you…” Maa-kun begins to speak, opening his eyes but still not letting Ritsu's hand go. “That I'm here to see you?” He asks, looking directly into Ritsu’s ruby coloured eyes.
Ritsu has to make sure that he has heard right.
He sees Maa-kun's face so close to his, still against his palm, trying to have a serious look in his face but having a difficulty with it as his cheeks become red, and that's enough to make Ritsu understand that what he has heard is right.
And that he has no way out, there's no way Maa-kun is going to let him go without a reply.
Not like he cares about that, he wants to give his most sincere reply after all.
He gulps, trying to gather all the courage he has and feeling that his own face is becoming red.
A thunder interrupts his words, startling both of the boys and making Mao finally release Ritsu, stepping back as he looks outside from the shop’s window.
His heart is probably beating louder than the thunder, and he isn't sure if it's because of the situation between Ritsu and him or because the thunder has actually scared him.
Same could apply to Ritsu who looks back at him, his eyes wide open and almost looking as if he had difficulty to breathe. The same kind of face someone would have if they had seen a ghost instead of a thunder.
“There…” Ritsu begins to speak, still not really understanding what has happened a few seconds ago, the information being too much for him to process it. “There should be some spare clothes and a towel in the back of the shop.” He tells Maa-kun, who simply nods without really understanding what does he mean by that. “I will take them for you.” Maa-kun nods again, understanding what Ritsu meant.
“I will wait here.” He says. He knows that it's useless information, as he doesn't have any other place to go to, but he has to say… Something.
And as Ritsu tries to find the things he told Maa-kun that were in the back of the shop. (He really didn't know, he just assumed since Natchan was always ready for any kind of situation) he thinks over and over again about the words that Maa-kun has told him.
“What if I told you that I'm here to see you?”
Ritsu's heart beats faster whenever he remembers it, whenever he remembers Maa-kun's face.
It's only been a few minutes since he said that, but he already regrets not giving him a reply.
“Then, I would have to kiss you right here and right now.”
This is actually my favourite chapter, the one I enjoyed writing the most I guess?
I love cliché stories and the "being interrupted during a love confession" is something that always gets on my nerves but I still love writing it...
Also, as explained in earlier chapters, the only thing that is considered uniform in the shop is an apron... So the spare clothes...
Well, unfortunately for Ritsu he didn't get a naked apron scene from Mao, there were proper spare clothes.
It's on the third day after the rainy day when Maa-kun doesn't come.
It's not really surprising, Ritsu thinks, after all, everything had felt incredibly weird after Mao said those words, after the thunder didn't let Ritsu give him a reply.
The following days have been filled with an uncomfortable silence, words that they wanted to speak but wouldn't dare to, eyes that would look at each other but avoid meeting.
Maa-kun would look at the ceiling, the wall, the floor, anywhere apart from Ritsu whenever they talked.
Ritsu wondered if he had hurt him in a way or another when he didn't reply him correctly.
Then again, he didn't even know for sure if Maa-kun really meant the words he said.
The events have kept repeating on his head ever since that moment, he thinks about all the replies that he could have given him, all the outcomes that could have been possible.
And he can't help but think about all the things that could have been but haven't been.
He finds himself thinking that he missed the chance to taste Maa-kun's — probably soft — lips, that he missed the chance to become that special existence he longs to become for Maa-kun.
And now none of that matters because Maa-kun has decided to not come, it probably has been too much already, he has already bought enough flowers to make his sister happy.
He doesn't think that Maa-kun is the kind of person who would leave without saying goodbye, but in the end, Ritsu is nothing but a person who is keeping company to the flowers that he buys.
He isn't a friend, he isn't a family member, he isn't his lover.
So there isn't any reason for Maa-kun to say goodbye.
And Ritsu thinks that he is only hurting himself by keeping his hopes up, checking the door every time he hears someone getting in, thinking that at some point he will see those emerald coloured eyes searching for him, hoping that Maa-kun will finally talk to him today.
But his heart feels like breaking whenever the person that comes inside is someone he has never seen before, a new customer.
A lady who wanted flowers for her husband in the hospital. A young boy who wanted to impress a girl. A little girl buying a present for her mother. A grown up man buying a flower for his daughter. A woman who had to be informed that the special services had been cancelled.
All of them customers but none of them is his customer.
Even the newest customer, the one who has just come inside, isn't the person he wants to see.
He can't deny that he has caught his attention, though that's just because of the attire he is wearing.
A white medical mask covering the lower half of his face, the upper part hidden by sunglasses even if the weather is clearly not fit for them and a cup on his head covering his hair.
Ritsu wonders why would someone choose that kind of getup. It's the kind of outfit that he has seen on tv, famous celebrities trying to hide themselves from the media, saying that they want to not be seen but obviously trying to catch everyone's attention.
He has seen Natchan and Secchan do it once in a while, though the way they coordinate their outfits is clearly more deeply thought than this boy's.
“Mister customer, do you need any help?” Ritsu decides to ask, seeing how the customer is walking around the shop seeming to have no idea of what does he want.
Though he hopes that the customer gives him a negative answer. Working for the behalf of someone who isn’t Maa-kun isn't something that makes him too happy.
The customer seems to jump startled but doesn’t voice any reply to Ritsu, he simply shakes his hand as a gesture of not needing any help.
Well. That’s better for Ritsu.
He still doesn’t let himself fall asleep on the counter, after all, this customer isn’t like Maa-kun, he can’t trust him enough to leave him walk around the shop without care, Natchan would really scold him if someone stole even a single flower.
Besides, he doesn’t really enjoy the idea of someone other than Maa-kun seeing him sleep.
It doesn’t take long for this customer to find whatever he was searching for, walking to the counter to meet Ritsu.
Now that he sees him from a really short distance, Ritsu can see that he is clearly suspicious. His thoughts once again are about celebrities that disguise themselves and he wonders if this boy is someone famous. Not like he would ever know, modern life celebrities, gossips and stuff like that aren't something that he particularly enjoys.
But it’s when the boy hands him the flower, when their hands touch for a brief moment that he realizes what’s happening. There is no way he would ever mistake that warmth, no matter how much he disguises himself.
Ritsu stands up and with a quick movement, the quickest that the boy has ever seen in his life (actually, he hasn’t even managed to see it), Ritsu takes off his sunglasses.
And there they are, Ritsu stares directly at those emerald coloured eyes that he loves so much. They close for a brief moment, surprised of the sudden action, the closeness of Ritsu and the light and when they open again, Ritsu sees that they are teary, something that he didn’t expect and isn’t sure if he likes.
“Maa-kun?” He asks, not because he wants to confirm his identity but because he wants to know what do those tears mean.
Mao tries to endure Ritsu’s stare, look back at him as he sees how his face goes from surprise to worry, how his hand has at some point decided to grab his wrist instead of the flower, as if he was trying to avoid by any means for Mao to escape.
And ah, he is so close, so so close that Mao would probably be able to feel his breath brushing against his skin if he wasn’t wearing the mask.
He kind of regrets wearing that mask.
Actually. He totally regrets it.
Mao looks away from Ritsu, not being able to hold his piercing gaze anymore, he looks at the ceiling, the walls, the floor… And he ends up looking back at Ritsu at some point because it is awkward to look away as well, after all, it kind of feels like he’s running away, and Ritsu is holding him in place so it’s not like he has another choice.
“Hi…” He says, a troubled smile appearing on his face. Not like Ritsu can really see it.
The dark haired boy decides to let him go, releasing the grip around his wrist but still not looking away from him. Maybe he has once again done something that he shouldn’t. Maybe Maa-kun will really start hating him now.
Maa-kun takes off the cup that is covering his hair, letting the red strands fall. Today too he isn’t wearing the usual clip, making his longs bangs cover his eyes.
“Your visits have gotten shorter.” Ritsu says and he curses himself because that’s not what he wanted to say. He wanted to ask Maa-kun if he is feeling unwell, if he has done something that hurt him, but of course, the only thing he has managed to say is something as selfish as that.
“Sorry… I…” Maa-kun is now playing with his bangs, placing them in a way that covers his eyes as Ritsu has placed his sunglasses on the counter, and Maa-kun is unable to hide his eyes with them. “I ran out of medicine.” He says, finally letting go of his bangs.
And even if the bangs and the mask are covering most of Maa-kun’s face, Ritsu can see that his face is red, all the way to his ears, and he has already seen his eyes. That added to what he has said…
“A cold?” Ritsu asks, his mind remembering the rainy day not so long ago, how soaked Mao came to the shop. How he probably wasn’t fast enough bringing a change of clothes and that’s why Maa-kun now…
“Allergy.” Maa-kun says instead, interrupting Ritsu’s train of thought.
Mao had been trying to keep it secret, there was no need for Ritsu to know, it would only bring out some questions that he wasn’t very sure if he wanted to answer. But there is no point in hiding it now, he has been discovered.
It takes a short moment for Ritsu to understand that the thing that Maa-kun is allergic to must be polen, or at least, that’s the only thing he can think as the possible solution. And of course, that would also explain the short length of his visits in these few days.
He feels a little relieved, knowing that Maa-kun doesn’t hate him.
“And despite that you still come here every day.” Ritsu says, perhaps too bluntly, making him sound like he’s accusing Maa-kun of doing something stupid (which, actually is true) instead of showing how happy he is that Maa-kun is prioritising visiting him over his health.
He knows that he is being selfish, but he can’t help it, thinking that Maa-kun actually wants to come to the shop, be with him. It makes him feel an amount of happiness that he didn't think it was possible.
“Maa-kun, why do you come here every day?” Ritsu asks, even if he should already know the reason, even if Maa-kun has told him more than once that it’s because he is buying flowers for his sister.
But it was a while ago that those words started sounding empty to his ears. Not a lie, but not completely true either.
And Ritsu wants to hear the real reason, something that will please him.
Maa-kun walks closer to the counter, to him, taking the sunglasses and the flower. He stares at the first object for a while, thinking that maybe he overdid it, that there was no reason for an attire like that but…
He really didn’t want Ritsu to see him like this.
“Maa-kun? Answer me?” Ritsu’s voice brings Mao back to reality, the way he has spoken, softly yet a little childish, makes Mao unable to ignore him and it’s then when he realizes that at some point Ritsu has placed his hand on top of Maa-kun’s.
“I already told you the other day, didn’t I?” Maa-kun replies, moving his hand away, suddenly feeling embarrassed about the touch.
And Ritsu understands without the need of any more words what’s the reason that Maa-kun means, because even if he says it in a way that can mislead him, his mind is already remembering.
“What if I told you that I'm here to see you?”
His heartbeat increases just by remembering that, and he is sure that Maa-kun meant that.
And this time, he won’t make the same mistake, he won’t let Maa-kun leave without a reply.
Ritsu’s face is suddenly close to Maa-kun’s. Too close. So close that there isn’t really any space between them and more than before, Mao regrets that he is wearing the mask.
He still closes his eyes, hoping that next time he will get to feel Ritsu’s lips directly against his.
We did it. It took like 17k words but they kissed.
Mao himself doesn’t understand well how things have ended like this.
If you ask him, even if he isn’t proud to admit it, he will probably reply that he believes in things like destiny, luck and true love.
But that doesn’t mean he believes that those things could happen to him as well.
Or at least he didn’t believe that they could happen to him, until he met Ritsu.
He thinks that he will never be able to forget the view he encountered when he first entered the shop.
It wasn’t the first time he entered a flower shop, obviously, as his little sister had more than once forced him to go shopping with her and as a result, there had been a few occasions in which she would drag and force him to buy her some flowers. Girls like pretty flowers after all.
He never understood that and he definitely never managed to enjoy any of those visits as his allergy would end up making him feel dizzy and after a while sickish.
But there was something special about this one, the one his sister had specifically told him that he had to visit, the only one in the whole city that had all the flowers she wanted so badly
He saw Ritsu, head resting on his arms, eyes closed and snoring softly as the flower petals slowly covered his hair. A view that Mao didn’t know that he would be able to enjoy more than once, but never enough. Just like that, he already knew that even if he looked at him forever he would never get tired. Just like that, his heart began to race in a way that had never done before. Just like that, he started to think he wanted to know him better.
Simple as it was, just like that, he fell in love.
And before he could even help it, he found himself making excuses to visit him every day, he found himself impatiently waiting for the next time he would get to talk to him, the next time he would get to see him sleep, the next time he would get to play with his hair.
The more time he spent with him, the more in love he fell.
He tried to deny it, knowing that there was no way the feelings could be mutual, he was, is, just a customer, an annoying one that keeps interrupting his precious sleep every day.
But he can't help it. At first he thought that it was a good idea, buying the flowers his sister had asked for one by one. Considering how long it took to find the first one on the first day, he couldn't afford to spend hours finding the flowers she wanted, he had to be in other places after all.
So he decided to buy one every day, spend a short amount that turned out to be long in the shop, finding the flowers she wanted.
That way he got the flowers and the free time to continue with his tasks.
And more important, an excuse to visit Ritsu daily.
But once she got all the flowers, there was no real reason for him to keep going. She already had the six flowers she so desperately wanted… Or at least she so desperately seemed to want.
The situation being like that, his sister being happy, he had no way to explain Ritsu his daily visits.
Except that Ritsu misunderstood the quantity of flowers he needed.
And Mao hasn't bothered to correct him.
There is no need. After all, that way, he has the chance to visit Ritsu without the need of having to think of more excuses.
And so, Mao continued buying flowers. Even if his sister didn't want them, even if they kept piling up in his room, making his allergy worse and making him run out of medicine faster than he expected, even if he knew that it was something stupid, as long as he got to see his smile, as long as he got to hear his voice, as long as he got to spend time with him…
Then it was… It is completely worth it.
He didn't expect or hope for his feelings to be mutual, so he didn't expect for Ritsu to… Kiss him?
He has been thinking about it until the point of not being able to sleep. He remembers that at first he thought he was having an hallucination or a dream, because there was no way Ritsu had wanted to kiss him.
But even now he can remember the weight of his lips pressing against his own, the mask making him unable to really feel the texture, the softness of his lips and he still regrets wearing it.
So he has decided, that no matter what he is going to ask Ritsu how he feels and definitely have a taste of those lips for real.
Even if it's embarrassing, even if he feels his heart is going to explode and break against his chest, he steps inside the shop, in anticipation to see the dark haired boy skipping on his work once again, sleeping on the counter.
“Welcome! How can I help you?” but instead, a voice that he has never heard before greets him, and even if he doesn't want to believe it, even if he thinks that he has just heard wrong and that when he turns to face him he will find the same person as always, Ritsu, his Ritsu.
But instead he finds someone completely different.
A person that seems out from magazines, blond hair and a smile that by itself could bring a countless number of customers.
“Oh my, what's wrong?” The blond gets closer to Mao and he wonders if he really is letting his feelings show so much that even a stranger understands that something is wrong.
Mao sees the same apron that Ritsu was wearing just yesterday, except that the nametag reads completely different.
Narukami. He reads and it doesn't take him long to understand what's happening. This person must be the owner of the shop, the one that Ritsu kept calling Natchan.
“It's nothing…” Mao feels his throat getting dry, he wants to ask where is Ritsu, why isn't he here, but the words won't come out.
“Could it be… you didn't expect to see me ?” Narukami asks, a smile appearing on his face as if he could see through Mao, or at least that's what Mao feels.
He doesn't really want to admit it to a person he has just met, but he nods, after all the person he expected to see, the person he wanted to see was Ritsu.
“Ah, it really is a surprise, to find a fan here!” Narukami raises his voice in excitement and happiness, but Mao only finds himself confused. A fan… He doesn't even know who this person is. “Wait a moment, I will sign an autograph for you… but this should be a~ se~cret.” The blond winks and by the way he has spoken, Mao starts believing that this person must be really effeminate.
But that's not the issue now.
“No there's no need… I'm not a fan.” He stops Narukami from going to find paper and a pen to sign. “You are the owner of the shop, right?” Mao continues talking, the blond looking at him upset, as if he had offended him. Mao doesn't really seem to notice though. “Ritsu… Talked about you a few times.” He adds, finally managing to speak Ritsu's name and already feeling how his face starts to get hot.
“Oh my! You know Ritsu-chan?” He asks, the previous pout on his face being replaced with a smile and an invasion to Mao's personal space. “Are you his friend?” The way he speaks makes it seem like he is actually surprised which for a second makes Mao wonder just how unsocial Ritsu actually is.
He doesn't really know how to answer to the question… Friends doesn't seem the proper description of their relationship.
But then again, Mao isn't sure they have any actual proper relationship apart from the customer and employee relationship.
“Something like that?” He manages to say, stepping back from Narukami invading his personal space.
Narukami looks at him from top to bottom, as if he was examining him.
“I see…” He says, a grin on his face that Mao doesn't know how to identify at all.
“He isn't here today?” Mao asks, looking around the shop because maybe he is just sleeping and he hasn't managed to see or hear him… Though that seems impossible.
But he still wants to have some hope.
“He didn't tell you?” The owner of the shop asks surprised and Mao's confused face is enough of a reply. “He was filling for me while I was away for work.”
“Work?” Mao questions, not understanding what kind of matter with flowers would require a whole month of a trip away.
“You really don't know who I am…” the blond sighs a little upset, which only confused Mao even more. “In any case, that Ritsu-chan…” he sighs once again, this time dramatically instead of upset. “After I said that I owed him a big favour and that I didn't know how I would be able to pay him, do you know what did he say?” He asks, increasing his voice and Mao thinks that there's no way he will know. “He said he would take all the flowers he wanted for free , can you believe?” Narukami complains, and that's when Mao realizes that the shop indeed looks emptier than usual.
His first thought had been that now that the owner was back and the special services were back, the quantity of customers had increased.
But apparently Ritsu had been the reason… Mao can't really understand the meaning behind Ritsu's actions.
“I worry about those poor flowers, Ritsu-chan can barely take care of himself, he is going to kill them!” Narukami continues complaining, but Mao can't deny that he understand why would he be so worried. After all, Ritsu isn't the kind of person who likes working, and keeping a living being alive can require a big effort. “I wonder if he is holding a grudge because I made him work… For real, he won't find anyone who will love him if he continues acting like this.”
Mao can't help but laugh at that comment, albeit nervously and hoping that Narukami won't understand the meaning of his reaction.
After all, he has fallen in love with Ritsu, no matter how he acts, no matter what he does, his heart belongs completely to him.
And that's why he needs to see him again, no matter what he needs to find a way to meet him again.
“What kind of flowers did he pick?” Mao asks, even if he has a look around the shop he can't really guess which ones were the ones that Ritsu chose after all.
“He didn't seem to have any kind of preference… He just randomly started picking them, a peony, a poppy, moonflowers... There wasn't any specific pattern.” Narukami explains.
“What about roses?” Mao asks, his heartbeat increasing as he recognises all the flowers that the owner of the shop has mentioned.
“He said he had no use for those.” He answers, almost sounding offended. “That was my first thought as well… Ritsu-chan seems like the kind of person who only knows the basic about flowers, so I thought he had only heard about roses… but apparently I was wrong.” Mao gulps not knowing what to say. Because those are his flowers, the ones he bought every day, the ones that hold the memories of them together… Their flowers.
Mao can feel his face burning because even if he doesn't want to think too deeply about it, he can't find another explanation of why Ritsu would want those flowers.
“Ritsu-chan looked very happy with them… Saying that they were pieces of happiness, so I shouldn't worry about him not taking care of them.” Narukami continues talking but Mao can't really pay attention to the words anymore.
He needs to see Ritsu, as soon as possible.
“Narukami…” He calls, his voice trembling and he isn't sure if it's because of embarrassment or excitement. “I need to know where to find him.” He requests.
It takes Narukami by surprise at first, but after a short time he realizes the situation, a smile appearing on his face.
“Oh my, you can't go there with your hands empty, can you?”
Natchan that was the worst timing ever.
Of course, Narukami has forced him to buy flowers.
He doesn't complain, after all it's… Romantic? And he had to thank him in some way for telling him where Ritsu lives, even if he knows nothing about him.
Mao didn't think it twice choosing the flowers he wanted, it was easy, incredibly. After all, Ritsu probably remembered all the conversations they had.
A bouquet of red roses was the first thing that crossed his mind, simple, romantic, a clear message that meant I love you.
And even if it is being said with flowers, Mao still feels embarrassed.
But it doesn't matter. As long as Ritsu understands what he means, as long as his feelings get through…
And if Ritsu too feels the same…
But before leaving the shop, his eyes gazed upon another plant, and almost without thinking about it, he choose that one as well.
Narukami pulled a weird face, thinking that it isn't something appropriate as he explained what kind of flower it actually is. But Mao had already made his decision, laughing it off he bought that one as well.
And now, as he knocks the door of Ritsu's house, he feels that he is out of breath. Not only because he has ran all the way, not only because the flowers are actually making him start to feel dizzy thanks to his allergy, but because he knows that Ritsu's reaction is something that will change his life, either for better or worse.
It takes a while, a long while, until he finally hears some sound coming from inside the house, steps getting closer.
And Mao starts to realize that maybe this isn't a good idea. After all, he doesn't really know Ritsu, he doesn't know if he will like something like this, he doesn't know if…
Before he can continue thinking, the door opens and his heart stops for a second that seems an eternity.
At the other side of the door, Mao finds himself being greeted by an enormous quantity of colours, flowers that decorate every single space of the small house, in vases, on the walls, petals scattered on the floor, the furniture and… Ritsu.
His hair, just like in the shop, is full of flower petals, probably from decorating his house.
Ah, even when he isn't in the shop, even when he is at his own home, Mao thinks that he still looks like one.
He still looks like a flower fairy.
There is a surprised look on his face, unlike the usual lethargic and sleepy one. Mao can't blame him, after all, there is no way he would expect something like this.
“Hello there.” Mao greets him, with the warmest smile he can pull. For some reason all the worries he was feeling until just a few seconds ago have vanished. It doesn't matter what the result is, nothing at all matters now because he has managed to meet Ritsu again, and he can't think of anything that could make him happier.
When Ritsu gets used to the light outside, the first thing he notices is that a shade of red that he loves so much is greeting him.
And then he notices the roses.
“Maa-kun…” is all he manages to mutter in reply as Maa-kun offers the bouquet to him. Without really understanding what's happening, Ritsu picks it, still not being able to take his eyes off from Maa-kun.
He really didn't expect him to appear here. He didn't expect to see him again.
The reason he kissed him yesterday was because he knew that he wouldn't have any other chance, because Natchan was coming back, because he wouldn't be in the shop anymore. And thus, he would never see Maa-kun ever again.
But now he is here, and Ritsu can see that he has a hard time breathing, his face is red and he is sweating.
“Did you run all the way here?” He asks, tugging the roses closer to him, managing to smell the fragrance and he thinks that he has never received a better present, he has never smelt anything better and he knows that it's definitely because Maa-kun is the one who has given them to him.
Maa-kun simply laughs, not giving him a proper answer. Ah, how cute, that's all confirmation Ritsu needs to know that he is right.
He has to hold the flowers even tighter, knowing that if he doesn't keep his hands busy with another thing he will just end up jumping to hug Maa-kun.
Ritsu had known long time ago, that the reason why his heart beats the way it does is because of Maa-kun.
The only name he can put to the feelings he holds for Maa-kun is love, and he is sure, that if this isn't what they call love, then there are no such feelings in this world.
“Oh right I bought this as well.” Maa-kun says, picking a vase that he had placed next to him on the floor.
A small plant with a rosette of five leaves. Small stalks with longish violet petals.
It only takes a brief second for Ritsu to recognise the plant.
“The first day we met you said you liked this plant.” Maa-kun says, looking at the plant instead of Ritsu, probably too embarrassed for it as his face keeps getting more and more red.
But Ritsu can see in his beautiful, beautiful emerald coloured eyes a sort of conviction and determination he has never seen before.
And Ritsu thinks that just like that he has fallen in love with Maa-kun even more.
He didn't even know that it was possible, but now he is actually waiting for Maa-kun to make him fall for him even more.
If it's Maa-kun, Ritsu knows that he can love him more and even more by each passing day.
“Apparently it's called Pinguicula Ramosa and it's a carnivorous plant.” Maa-kun says, a small chuckle leaving his mouth as he speaks. “For some reason I thought that it was appropriate for you.” Ritsu doesn't know if that's supposed to be a compliment or not, but since Maa-kun is the one who has said it, he simply smiles, convinced that those words are full of kindness.
“You bought them for me?” Ritsu asks, his voice almost a whisper as he still feels that what is happening right now isn't real, it's too good to be true.
For Maa-kun to be here, for Maa-kun to have found him. For Maa-kun to be doing something that could be easily understood as a love confession.
If this is a dream he doesn't want to wake up.
“Narukami forced me to buy them.” He explains, a small laugh following his words and Ritsu feels a small sting in his heart, a feeling similar to being woken up for a dream that it was clearly too pleasant.
Ah, of course it had to be that. There was no way Maa-kun would buy these kind of flowers by his own free will.
“Natchan did…” He repeats, looking at the red flowers that he is holding suddenly feeling that if Maa-kun isn't the one who has picked them then they have no meaning.
“Yeah but…” Maa-kun forces himself to look directly at Ritsu, waiting for the moment in which Ritsu decides to look back at him. Ruby coloured eyes meeting his emerald coloured ones and for a second, a brief second, he forgets everything he wanted to say, everything he was thinking because, ah, there shouldn't be any need for words when he loves Ritsu so much. “Even I know the meaning of those flowers.” He says, remembering that he is in the middle of a conversation and on top of that, in the middle of a love confession. “That's why I wanted to give them to you.”
There's a part of Maa-kun that feels relieved after saying those words. He has said it out loud, he has admitted it, and even if he hasn't said the words I love you directly, he feels that he could say them in any moment.
Actually, just in case Ritsu hasn't understood, maybe it's better to make it clear.
Maa-kun can't finish the sentence, suddenly feeling Ritsu's breath against his skin, his arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer, so close that there isn't any space between them.
Maa-kun sees that the bouquet of red roses has fallen to the floor, and if it weren't because he remembered just in time that he is holding a plant, it would have also fallen to the floor.
After all, right now, right in this moment, there is nothing else he can pay attention to apart from Ritsu's lips pressing against his.
And he was right.
They are soft.
This is it! This is the end.
Thank you for reading all this, as I said before, I hope you have managed to enjoy this just as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I will try for my next work to be even better~
And as I said before, you can find me on twitter on RlTSUMAOS
I alway love meeting more people who like this ship ;w;