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Chapter 11: Purple Heart's Ease

It was only after much consideration that Evan decided to go to the flower shop the day after he'd taken Sascha out for dinner. He hadn't slept too well, his head hurt and he was afraid Sascha would be mad at him, but he had to check up on the florist.

Evan was well aware that, if Sascha actually remembered anything about the previous night, he'd be furious with him, and Evan wouldn't blame him, but after some thought, he kind of hoped Sascha did remember. Maybe Sascha hadn't been in the right frame of mind, but even while drunk, the things one said often held some amount of truth and if that was the case, then he could count on Sascha at least being attracted to him. Pointing it out would be a low blow, but the florist wouldn't be able to deny it. It was just unfortunate that Evan didn't think he'd be able to pressure Sascha like that.

So, Evan got up, drank some coffee, got dressed and thanked God it was the weekend before heading out to see Sascha. He had half expected the shop to be closed, but it was open and Jason was just setting off to make a delivery when Evan arrived.

"If you're going to talk to Sascha, watch out, he's not feeling too good right now," Jason warned, and Evan felt sorry for the florist because he probably had one hell of a hangover.

The boy left with a wave and Evan turned to the shop entrance, bracing himself for whatever was to come. As always, he was greeted by the chiming bell above the door and the warmth of the little shop, the scent of flowers floating about, never overpowering, just subtle enough to be as pleasant as the finest perfume. Everything was as clean and orderly as usual, only the types of flowers changing due to the season, and Evan would have thought all was well, were it not for the fact that there had been no cheery welcome or sweet mile to greet him.

As Evan walked closer to the counter, he realized that Sascha was nowhere to be seen. There was, however, a half finished arrangement on the counter along with all of the florist's tools. Evan surmised that Sascha was somewhere in the back, and leaned on the counter to wait for him to return. It wasn't long before the door leading to the back opened and Sascha appeared, looking like he'd just had the worse day of his life(which was probably true). He looked tired, his eyes red and his skin paler than usual. Evan had to admit, it was worse than he had expected, especially since it wasn't that early in the morning.

"Oh, Evan, it's just you," Sascha said dully, sliding up onto his stool to return to work. Evan would have felt more insulted at the flat greeting had he not been so glad that Sascha hadn't been furious.

"Not feeling well?" he asked, looking carefully at the florist. Sascha shook his head, sighing.

"No, my head hurts," he said, and he didn't think he had to mention that the world had been nothing but a painfully loud blur of overly bright colors that morning.

"Well, you did drink a lot," Evan said, making sure to speak softly, because he knew just how bad a wine induced hangover could be. Sascha just groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"I know, it was so stupid, I never drink," he said, and then he paused and glanced at Evan, cheeks pink.

"Um, I didn't do anything...weird, yesterday, did I?" he asked, hesitating, and then he couldn't manage to hold Evan's gaze. It was a good thing, because Evan knew he'd have trouble lying to Sascha if he had to look straight into his eyes. But he didn't, so he grinned and shook his head.

"Nope, not really," he said casually. "Unless you count climbing on the table at the restaurant, but you fell off before you could get on top," and he tried not to laugh too much at Sascha's look of horror.

"Evan!" Sascha said, smacking the man's arm after realizing he was joking.

"Sorry, I couldn't help it," the man laughed, and Sascha huffed in indignation.

"I'm serious! I didn't do anything bad did I?" the florist asked again, looking a bit desperate. For a brief moment, Evan recalled the previous night and all of the kisses and caresses that Sascha had given him, his skin tingling at the memory. But Evan shook it all off, because Sascha was looking at him with worried green eyes and those soft lips were pressed into a thin line, tense with nerves.

"No, you just didn't really want to leave the restaurant, but I managed to get you into the car and then you fell asleep on the way," he said, sticking as close to the truth as possible. Apparently, even that much was embarrassing enough that Sascha groaned and hid his face in his hands.

"I'm so sorry," he muttered, voice muffled. "This is so embarrassing, I can't believe I ruined the night like that," he said, making Evan chuckle. He leaned over the counter and pulled the florist's hands away from his face.

"It's fine, Sascha, it wasn't that bad," he reassured. "And you didn't ruin anything, I had fun," Sascha didn't look very convinced, but at least he was no longer trying to hide from Evan.

"Still, please promise you'll never let me touch an alcoholic beverage," Sascha said, letting his head fall on the counter.

"Are you kidding, you're not allowed to even mention alcohol anymore," Evan said, only half joking, because the effects had been just as bad for him as they had been for Sascha. "I'm actually surprised you opened the shop today," he commented.

"It's only a few hours," the florist muttered, head still resting on the counter.

"A few hours of work with a hangover can seem like an eternity," Evan pointed out, knowing full well what he was talking about.

"Are you speaking from experience?" he heard Sascha say.

"Pretty much, but I don't get hangovers anymore. You, on the other hand, are a serious lightweight and should be home sleeping for the rest of the day. In fact, I insist you close the shop and let me take you home," he proposed, expecting a fight from the florist.

"After Jay gets back," Sascha spoke after a moment, surprising Evan.

Thankfully, Jason didn't take too long to return and looked pretty happy to be able to leave early. He did, however, show some concern over Sascha, but the florist assured him that he would be fine by Monday and sent him on his way home.

"He's a very good boy," Sascha told Evan, as the man got into the car and buckled his seatbelt.

"When he wants to be," Evan responded with a wry grin. "Though you shouldn't let him make fun of your name," he said, recalling what Sacha had told him the previous night.

"Oh, did I tell you about that?" Sascha asked, getting a nod from Evan.

"Yeah, you said you wanted to try using your middle name instead. I still think Sascha suits you more," Evan said, grinning slyly, but Sascha only laughed softly.

It wasn't long before they had arrived at Sascha's home, and Evan wished he could talk for a bit longer with the florist.

"Thanks for the ride," he said. "And again, sorry about last night, I probably gave you a lot of trouble," he said, averting his gaze.

"Well, I can't complain, I did get to carry you home and tuck you in," Evan said with a wink and then laughed when Sascha blushed brightly right up to his ears. He wondered what the florist would do if he ever found out what had really happened.

"Ugh, I'm so sorry," Sascha apologized once more.

"You know, if you really want to make it up to me, we can try going out to dinner again," Evan suggested with a grin.

"You just don't give up, do you?" Sascha sighed, but he looked more amused than irritated.

"Nope, especially when it concerns cute florists," Evan said, just to tease Sascha, because it was just too fun to watch the man blush and get so flustered. "So how about it? Friday night, same time new place? I promise there will be no alcohol involved this time," he suggested, but Sascha shook his head.

"Sorry Evan, I won't be in town for a few days starting Wednesday," Sascha said.

"What? Why?" and Evan tried not to sound too alarmed.

"It's Thanksgiving this week," Sascha said with a laugh. "I'm going to visit my family so I'll be away for a while," and Evan tried not to look too disappointed.

"When are you getting back?" he asked before Sascha could get out of the car.

"I'll be back at the shop on Monday," the florist told him, smiling. "Bye Evan, and thanks again for bringing me home," and he was about to close the car door when Evan stopped him.

"Ah, Sascha, wait!" Evan called. "Let me get your phone number," he said, digging in his pocket for his phone, but Sascha gave him an odd look.

"My phone number? Why?" he asked, an eyebrow quirked at the man.

"Uh, in case of an emergency?" Evan said uncertainly

"Evan, what kind of emergency would make you need to call me?" Sascha questioned, looking amused.

"A flower emergency?" and Sascha couldn't help but laugh at that before giving Evan a considering look.

"Alright," Sascha sighed after a moment. "I'll give you my cell phone number, but please only call if you really have a reason," he told Evan, who nodded immediately.

They exchanged numbers, and Evan even gave Sascha his home and work phone numbers(he'd had to steal the florist's phone to add them), saying that it was 'just in case'. Sascha hadn't argued because he still felt bad about the way dinner had turned out and it wasn't that big a deal. He didn't even stop to wonder when he had thought that it was fine if it made Evan happy. Evan waved at the florist as he watched him walk into his home, grinning widely and awfully pleased with himself at having gotten the florist's number.

"You're kidding, right?" that was Drew's response to Evan's bragging about getting Sascha's phone number during lunch on Monday.

"You mean to tell me you've been after him for months and you've just barely gotten his phone number?" Drew asked his friend in disbelief. "Evan, you've spent less time getting someone in bed, and succeeded," he pointed out.

"Yeah, well, Sascha's different. He's not the type to sleep around and hand out his personal information to strangers, and I respect that," he said simply, and Drew just stared at him for a moment before shaking his head.

"I swear, sometimes I think you only like him so much because he's always rejecting you. It's like you're some type of masochist or something," Drew said, biting into his sandwich.

"I am not, and I like Sascha for lots of reasons. And I know he likes me too, he's just had some issues in the past when it comes to dating," Evan argued.

"And you're probably going to give him more issues," the other man muttered, earning a glare from Evan.

"No I won't," he said seriously.

"Evan, you're a jerk and I'm sure you've traumatized a few women, no offense but it's the truth. Sascha isn't any different, no matter how much you claim to want him," and Evan looked at his friend indignantly.

"Sascha is not like those women and I really do want him," and Evan was convinced of that because Sascha had made him go through so much that Evan knew he only put up with it because he genuinely cared for the florist. The biggest example was the night Sascha had gotten drunk, because it would have been too easy to sleep with him, but he'd acted like a decent human being and by some act of God had managed to keep his pants on. Drew, however, remained skeptical, but Evan would just have to show him by winning Sascha over.

Unfortunately, Evan wasn't able to see Sascha that day due to work, but he resolved to visit the florist the next day, knowing that Sascha would be leaving for the rest of the week. He would definitely miss the florist, but Evan was hoping the time apart would help him forget about the night he'd taken Sascha to dinner.

It had already been a few days, but he could still remember the way the florist's skin felt against his, so warm and soft, the feelings it awoke burning still inside the man. And then there was the look in Sascha's eyes, and the sound of his voice when he asked Evan to stay, pleading and reaching for him. It was no wonder Evan still dreamed about it, and just being around Sascha made his mind wander back, making him feel guilty even as he longed to just kiss the florist one more time. Evan was honestly surprised he felt so bad about it, considering he hadn't actually done anything but kiss Sascha, but then Sascha always had a way of making him feel like crap without doing much(Evan still felt like a jerk every time he thought about the way he'd rejected Sascha the first time they'd gone on a date).

Tuesday, however, Evan had been forced to work until late, and by the time he reached Sascha's shop it was closed and the florist was nowhere to be seen. Evan groaned and trudged back to his car, wondering if it would be alright to visit Sascha at his home.

'Sascha probably wouldn't like that,' he thought, sighing in resignation.

He drove by the shop on Wednesday, not really sure what he was expecting, and saw that it was closed, just as Sascha had said it would be. Evan felt a bit disappointed, despite having known about it already, and headed to work. Drew didn't have much trouble noticing his friend's distress, but he was pretty amused when Evan finally told him what was bothering him while they sat at the bar.

"So you're sad your boyfriend's out of town?" he joked. "Damn, you've really got it bad," Drew chuckled, taking a drink from his beer.

"Shut up, Drew. You know we're not even going out," Evan told his friend bitterly.

"Yeah, why is that? I figured Sascha liked you well enough. Is he really still mad at you for that time you thought he was a woman?" honestly, Drew hadn't thought Sascha was the type to hold a grudge.

"He says he doesn't date straight guys," Evan didn't bother to tell him Sascha had said that while he was drunk.

"Oh, well, you're not really straight if you like Sascha, are you?" Drew commented.

"Guess not, I don't think I actually like men though, just Sascha," Evan admitted. "Sascha just doesn't like to date men who like women and I definitely fall under that category."

"Damn, that sucks," Drew said shortly. "But seriously, I still think you have a chance," he told his friend patting him on the back.

"You do?" and Evan tried his best to not sound too hopeful.

"Sure, I mean, he hasn't gotten a restraining order on you," Drew snickered, earning a glare from Evan.

"Has anyone ever told you you're an asshole?" Evan scowled at the other man, but Drew just shrugged and finished his beer.

Thanksgiving had finally arrived and Evan at least had his family to distract him for a while. His mother had been working non-stop in the kitchen since the sun had risen and just the scent of the food that was being prepared was enough to make Evan's mouth water. Adam, his older brother, was sitting on the couch with their father when Evan arrived. Apparently, Adam had been banned from the kitchen, because as far as their mother was concerned, it was her time to shine and her son would just have to show off his cooking skills at work.

Eventually, his father had wandered off into the kitchen to try to steal some food, but he'd probably just get told off by their mom and end up having to help clean up as a punishment. It was a sort of family tradition all on it's own. In the meantime, Evan and Adam were on their own and the older of the two wasted no time in satisfying his curiosity.

"So, how's your boyfriend doing?" he asked his brother calmly, making Evan glare at him.

"He's not my boyfriend, Sascha refuses to date me," he said, adding the last part bitterly. Adam looked at his brother with a grin.

"Is that so? Guess he's a smart one after all," and then he raised his hands up in defense because his brother looked ready to punch him. "Just joking! Jesus, you must really like the guy," Adam said, watching his little brother wearily.

"Of course I do, Sascha's great," Evan said seriously.

"Yeah, he looked pretty nice back at the restaurant. Which reminds me, is it true he got drunk?" and there was definitely some amusement in Adam's voice.

"He doesn't really drink, and he had a bit too much wine," Evan explained.

"Sorry about that, I wouldn't have sent it out if I'd known," Adam apologized. He actually had wanted to help his little brother, after all.

"It's fine, he had a good time after all. The hangover the day after was pretty bad, but Sascha was okay," Evan reassured his brother.

"Have you gone out with him again since then?" Evan shook his head at his brother's question.

"No, I wanted to take him out to dinner again, but he had to leave town for a bit," he told Adam. "He's visiting his family for Thanksgiving, and I've been so busy with work I haven't seen him since Saturday," Evan sighed.

"Why don't you call him?" because it was blatantly obvious that Evan missed the young man. It was both funny and odd to see his brother fretting so much about someone else, because it wasn't something that happened very often. Maybe, he thought, it would be good for his little brother.

"Well, he said only to do it in an emergency," Evan muttered, and Adam stared at his brother for a moment in disbelief. "What?" Evan snapped.

"It's just kind of surprising, I mean, even if you say you're not really dating, I wasn't expecting you to say you weren't even allowed to call him," Adam said, shrugging.

"I can call him, it's just, I don't really have a reason to," Evan tried to argue, his cheeks growing red, because it was pretty pathetic that he couldn't even call Sascha when he had been after him for months. His brother seemed to share the sentiment because he was still snickering.

"Then do it, I doubt he'd be mad if you called just to wish him a happy Thanksgiving Day," he said. Evan considered it for a moment, thinking that maybe his brother was right. In the end, he decided to at least give it a try, and soon found himself standing outside on his parent's lawn, his cellphone in hand.

He sat on the steps in front of the house and dialed Sascha's number, waiting anxiously for the florist to pick up. By the third ring Evan was starting to wonder if Sascha had giving him a fake number, he couldn't say it would be completely unexpected and neither would it be the first time it happened.

"Hello," Evan couldn't help but grin at the sound of the florist's voice, his heart beating a bit faster.

"Hey Sascha," he said cheerfully.

"Evan?" and he could hear the surprise in the florist's voice.

"Yep, don't tell me you don't recognize my charming voice," he joked and smiled when he heard Sascha laugh.

"I probably should have known it would be you when my phone said the call was from Mr. Handsome," Sascha said dully. "I hope you realize I'll be changing that."

"That's fine, it doesn't make it any less true," Evan told the florist. "So, how are you?"

"Fine, I was just getting back from the store with my sister when you called. You really got me in trouble with my brother," Sascha accused.

"What did I do?" Evan asked, slightly alarmed.

"Well, I kind of forgot my phone at home, and he was about to answer when I took it from him. He saw your name though, Mr. Handsome," Evan snickered at the accusing tone in which Sascha said it. "I'm sure he'll be asking me about that as soon as I hang up."

"Sorry about that, I hope he's not going to come look for me now or something, you know, to protect his precious little brother's virtue," Evan said, grinning at the thought of how much that must have made Sascha blush.

"Evan!" and sure enough, the florist sounded flustered when he spoke. "You're horrible sometimes, you know," he sighed.

"I'm only joking," the man laughed. "You can tell your brother not to worry though, seeing as we're not really dating or anything," he tried to appease the florist, ignoring the unpleasant feeling he got as he said that.

"I'll do my best," Sascha said dryly. "I have to go now, but, um, thanks for calling," said the florist hesitantly. "It was nice, talking to you, I mean, it hasn't been that long since we talked but still," he rambled nervously, making Evan smile softly at the thought of him enjoying talking to him.

"Yeah, it was good to hear from you too," he said sincerely. "Have a happy Thanksgiving."

"You too, Evan," and the way Sascha said it made Evan think he was smiling.

"See you Monday, Sascha," and Evan would probably end up showing up at the shop in the morning, but he really did miss seeing the florist.

"Alright, bye Evan," Sascha said, laughing lightly.

The call ended and Evan just sat there for a while, smiling. He still thought about the night he'd held Sascha, even if it was just briefly, just by talking to him. The soft voice of the florist bringing forth memories that were bittersweet from the passion and longing that they awoke, but Evan could deal with them, if it was for Sascha.

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