Clover

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Chapter 13: Yellow Daffodil


It was a while until Evan decided to return to the flower shop. Maybe it was because he'd been rejected twice in one day, or maybe it was because Sascha had never rejected him so thoroughly. Whatever the case was, Evan couldn't manage to drag himself back to the shop for a good while. Instead, he decided to do what he usually did when he got off work and had nothing to do and too much to think about, he went out to drink. Of course, Drew tagged along, as always, saying it had been a while since they went out for drinks.

So, Evan's routine became working and drinking and then sleeping only to do it all again the next day. It was entirely too depressing and probably the lowest moment of his life(in recent history, at least), but he just didn't feel like doing much else. Sometimes, he wondered if that was how the women he'd dated in the past had felt when he'd left them, and if it was, he thought that maybe falling in love with Sascha was God's way of punishing him. He hated to think that way, but he'd been after the florist for months and he could count the times he'd kissed him on one hand and have fingers left over(not to mention most of those kisses had happened while Sascha was drunk). It was frustrating, especially because he knew Sascha wanted to be with him.

The florist was holding back, had been holding back for months as well, and while Evan admired his resolve, he was quickly reaching his breaking point. Never in his life had he had to work so hard just to get someone to date him. Of course, he'd also never wanted someone as badly as Sascha. He sighed tiredly as he finished his morning cup of coffee and grabbed his keys and wallet, ready to go to work. Evan was just slipping on his coat when he heard someone knocking on his door. He wasn't expecting to see his teenage neighbor standing there, looking ready for school.

"What do you need, Jason?" he asked, hoping the teen wasn't in the mood to annoy him because he wasn't in the best mood either.

"How come you haven't been to the shop lately?" the boy asked, frowning up at the man. Evan quirked an eyebrow, not really knowing why the boy would care.

"What, don't tell me you've missed me," he told him, not wanting to tell him the real reason.

"Hell no," the answer was immediate and Evan couldn't help but glare at the boy. "It's just, you're usually around harassing Sascha so it's kinda weird that you haven't been there for like nearly two weeks now," he finished, shrugging.

"Okay, first off, I don't harass Sascha," or at least he hoped the florist didn't see it that way. "And I've been busy, I have a job, you know," Jason just rolled his eyes at him.

"Yeah, sure, just make sure you stop by sometime soon," he said, hitching up his backpack and looking like he was heading off.

"Wait, why should I?" Evan asked, confused, because he was pretty sure Jason liked it when he wasn't around. "Did something happen? Is Sascha okay?" and he was trying not to panic, because the man may have rejected him, but he still cared for him.

"No, he's fine, stupid, just go to the shop," Jason huffed, and then he hurried off before Evan could either ask him what was going on, or smack him on the head and tell him his mother would be hearing about all his cussing.

For the rest of the day, Evan couldn't help but think back to Jason's odd visit. It had made him worry, because he had no idea what could be bad enough that it would prompt Jason to ask him to go to the flower shop. So, as soon as he was out of work, he hurried to his car and made his way to the little shop, worried for what he might find and nervous about facing Sascha. Evan did his best to calm down once he was in front of the shop, because it looked the same as usual from the outside and if Jason was just messing with him then he didn't want to look like an idiot.

The bell chimed as it always did when Evan walked in and the shop was mostly as he remembered it. Sascha had changed some of the merchandise to fit the holidays and the place was decorated brightly with garland and lights and bells hung all around. Evan was a bit distracted by the decorations and the holiday displays with wreaths and poinsettias, so much so that he didn't notice the young man standing behind the counter until he spoke.

"Welcome, is there anything I can help you with?" and that was enough to get Evan to pay more attention because the voice wasn't at all familiar.

He looked up and was met with the sight of a young man, his dark hair cut short and dark blue eyes staring at him calmly. What really surprised Evan, however, was that the man was wearing an apron, a dark green one like the ones Sascha and Jason wore, and he was standing behind the counter, which could only mean one thing.

"Do you work here?" the question slipped from his mouth before he really had any time to think about it, and the man gave him an odd look before nodding.

"I do, I just started recently. Is there something I can help you with?" he asked again, and Evan took a moment to process the fact that the guy actually worked there before saying anything.

"Uh, is Sascha around?" he asked after a while.

"He stepped out for a moment, but he should be back any minute now," the young man told him.

"Oh, I guess I'll wait for him then," Evan said, because he sure as hell wasn't leaving until he saw the florist. Especially not now that he had acquired a new employee, and Evan was very curious about the story behind that.

'Guess this is what Jason wanted me to see,' Evan thought, and for once, he was grateful to the boy. Of all the things that Evan had expected to find, a new employee wasn't it.

The new employee didn't protest Evan's presence, instead just going about his business. Evan occupied himself with looking at the new decorations and trying to think of what he would say to Sascha if the florist was upset with him. It wasn't long before the bell chimed and the door opened, a cold draft sweeping through the shop and Evan turned only to be met with Sascha and Jason walking in. The florist stopped when he saw Evan, but after a moment he smiled.

"Hello, Evan," he said, taking off his coat, while Jason was already behind the counter. "You hadn't been here in a while," Evan walked over to him, with his most charming smile.

"Well, work's been pretty bad lately," he said, shrugging. "I thought I would come and see how you were doing, now that I managed to get off early enough," the new worker had slipped through the back door and Jason grabbed a broom and started sweeping.

"That's very nice of you, but things are the same as always," Sascha said, turning away from Evan to grab his usual apron from on top of the counter. He slipped it on and Evan moved closer, taking the apron's strings from the florist, their hands brushing for a moment. Sascha was startled by the feeling, turning his head to look at the man behind him.

"I see you hired someone to help around," Evan commented, tying the apron carefully, making sure not to tighten it too much and smiling at the way the florist's ears had grown red. He was sure Sascha's face was just as flushed, but he was trying to hide it.

"Y-yes, I, um, I thought it would be nice to have someone else around, since things have gotten so busy, especially with the holidays coming," Sascha said, taking a step away from Evan as soon as the man let go of his apron.

"Yeah, I noticed you decorated already, it looks nice," Evan said, and was glad to see Sascha smile.

"Thank you, Jason helped out, so it was fun," and Evan wished he had been able to help out, but it was his own fault for being gone for so long. The door to the back opened and the new employee walked out, Sascha smiled at him cheerfully.

"Oh, Miles, this is Evan," he told the man, motioning him over. "He comes by a lot, so you should probably be introduced," said the florist, and then turned to Evan. "This is Miles, he just started this week," Sascha said, placing his hand on the man's arm.

"It's nice to meet you," Miles said, extending his arm to shake Evan's hand.

"Yeah, same here," the other man said, not sounding very enthusiastic, but he shook Mile's hand.

Evan stayed there for a while longer, just watching Sascha work and chatting with him. He was careful not to say anything that could upset him, not when the florist still seemed a bit distant. Sascha smiled at him just like he usually did, he was friendly and nice, but he couldn't look at Evan directly and there was something in the way he spoke that told Evan he wasn't in the mood to talk to him. It bothered him, probably more than Sascha realized, but Evan wouldn't let it show. So, he joked with the florist, slipped in a few compliments, and watched Sascha work, his hands carefully handling the flowers he arranged.

By the time it was time for Jason to go home, Sascha had seemed to relax a bit more, probably because Evan hadn't asked him out as he usually did. Evan offered to take Jason home, mostly to thank the boy, but also because he didn't think Sascha wanted him around anymore.

"I'll try to stop by again tomorrow," he told the florist while Jason got ready to go.

"You really don't have to, Evan," Sascha told him, cleaning the counter he had been working on. "You must be busy."

"But I want to, and I can make time for you," he said, making Sascha pause and look up at him. After a moment, the florist turned away, cheeks pink.

"Do what you want, Evan," he said simply, just as Jason walked back in with his coat on.

"See you tomorrow, Sascha," he said, and the florist smiled kindly at him.

"Alright Jay," Sascha said, waving at the boy.

"See you, Miles," Jason told the new worker, who waved at the boy as well. Evan glanced at the florist once more before leaving, but Sascha was already working again. With a sigh, he led Jason back to his car.

"What did you do to piss of Sascha?" Jason asked as he put on his seatbelt.

"I didn't do anything," Evan told the boy, glaring slightly.

"Uh huh," and Jason was clearly unconvinced.

"Anyway, was that Miles guy why you told me to come over?" he asked the boy.

"Not really, I just thought Sascha looked kinda down since you stopped showing up. I still don't know why he likes you so much," Jason told Evan. "Why'd you think it was 'cause of Miles?" and there wasn't really a way to answer that without looking stupid, so Evan tried to ignore Jason and focus on the road, but Jason was smart enough to figure it out.

"Pfft, you're jealous of Miles aren't you?" and it wasn't so much a question as it was a statement. "I forgot, you have the hots for Sascha," Jason told the man, snickering.

"Please shut up," Evan told the boy, trying not to look away from the road just to glower at him.

"What, it's not like I didn't know already. Plus, you're always less of a jerk around him and you're so freaking scared of him being mad at you. He has you so whipped," he added, smirking at his neighbor.

"Shut up," Evan muttered, cheeks pink, because yeah, Sascha did have him pretty whipped, but he wasn't about to tell that to Jason. "So what's up with this Miles guy?" he asked him instead.

"Sascha said they're neighbors, I think they've known each other for a while 'cause they're always talking like they're friends. Miles is pretty cool though and Sascha really likes him," he told Evan.

"And why did Sascha hire him? I thought he didn't want any more workers," and it was starting to feel like Jason was his own personal spy, but Evan just told himself it was all for the greater good.

"Oh, 'cause Miles used to work at a bookshop, but it closed, that's what Sascha said," the teen said, shrugging.

"Okay, so they're friends," Evan said, more to himself than to Jason.

"Yeah, but I think Miles likes Sascha," Jason told the man with a grin and Evan was glad they had stopped at a red light, because that was certainly enough to startle him.

"Why do you say that? Did he do anything to Sascha, or say anything?" he really did his best to not sound desperate, but judging by Jason's look, he'd failed.

"No, but he's not a pervert like you. It's pretty obvious though, he's always around Sascha and he's all nice and stuff, and he's always looking at him weird," the boy said, scrunching up his nose in distaste, he'd never been very fond of romance. Evan didn't ask Jason anything else after that, and only bid the boy good night before they parted ways, both heading into their homes.

For the rest of the week, Evan continued to visit the flower shop after work, watching the interactions between Sascha and Miles closely. He'd found out that Jason was right in how Miles had gotten hired, because Sascha told him all about the bookshop he used to visit and how it had closed. It hadn't taken the florist very long to offer his friend a job, and Miles had eagerly accepted. Jason had also been correct in saying that they were neighbors, apparently Miles lived just across the street from Sascha and would actually walk home with him everyday after work.

There wasn't much Evan could do about that, unfortunately, because he couldn't offer the florist a ride without extending the invitation to Miles. Unless he wanted to look like a jerk, of course, so he usually just parted ways with the two after the shop closed. Unfortunately, Evan thought that Jason was probably right about Miles' feelings towards the florist. It was clear in the way he looked at Sascha when he thought no one was looking and the tone he used when he spoke to the florist. He always made Sascha laugh and smile and it was seriously irritating to Evan, who still received only bland smiles from the florist. Not to mention, it was incredibly difficult to get a chance to ask Sascha out when Miles was always around.

Saturday, however, was Miles' day off, and Evan couldn't have been happier. He woke up early that day, got dressed and made sure he looked good before he set out to Sascha's shop. It was early, but he wanted to get as much time with the florist as possible in the hopes that he could get him to at least smile at him a bit more honestly. Evan was wondering if he should have stopped to get some coffee as he walked the short distance from his car to the shop, when he saw Sascha standing outside the shop with a broom in hand.

What he wasn't expecting, however, was the other man standing in front of him and the expression of discomfort on the florist's face. Evan hadn't seen the man in a while, but there was no mistaken Sascha's previous boyfriend, Steven. It looked like they were having a serious discussion, but Sascha didn't look very happy with whatever it was the other man was saying. The florist turned away, intending to go into his shop, but Steven wouldn't let him go so easily. He grabbed Sascha's arm and pulled him back, still talking and Evan was just about ready to go and make sure the man wouldn't return to bother Sascha.

But then he stopped in his tracks, because Sascha had just punched the guy, and Evan winced at the sound of the florist's fist connecting with Steven's cheek. The man released Sascha's arm, stumbling back a bit, and Evan hurried over just in case he tried to retaliate. He had to admit, the look the florist was giving the other man was probably scary enough to keep him away, but he still grabbed the guy by the front of his jacket.

"I thought I told you not to come back," he told him, dragging him away from the shop. "Get out of here and don't come back, or I'll be the one punching you next and you can be damn sure it'll hurt a hell of a lot more," and Evan tossed the guy onto the cold pavement. The man was quick to get up before leaving in a hurry, looking embarrassed and upset, a scowl on his face.

"So, what was that about?" he asked, turning to look at Sascha. The florist sighed and picked up the broom he'd dropped.

"It's a long story," he said, and his face was still flushed from what Evan could only guess was anger.

"I have time," he told the florist, and Sascha only looked at him for a moment before giving him a small smile.

"Let's talk inside," he suggested, and then headed into the shop, Evan following after him.

"So, what was that guy doing here?" Evan asked again as Sascha climbed onto his usual stool behind the counter.

"Well, the short answer would be that he was trying to get back together with me," he told Evan, looking calmer. Evan, however, could only gape, because that wasn't really what he had been expecting.

"What? But I thought he was married," he managed to say through his shock.

"Hmm, that's one of the reasons I was so angry at him," Sascha said. "What he was after was really an affair, I suppose. Of course, I'd never agree to anything like that," and he added the last part mostly to appease Evan, because the man looked pretty upset.

"Damn, I should have punched him after all," he muttered, feeling insulted on Sascha's behalf, because Evan knew Sascha would never do something like that, and for the man to even suggest it after what he'd done to Sascha was unforgivable. Sascha just smiled at him though, and it was a more sincere smile than the ones he'd been giving Evan as of late.

"It's okay, Evan," Sascha told him, sounding amused. "Thank you for helping drive him away, I don't think he'll be coming back," Evan didn't blame the guy, considering the way Sascha had looked when he had hit Steven.

"I didn't really do much," Evan told the florist, and he really hadn't because Sascha had taken care of things all on his own. "I seriously didn't expect you to punch him though," he admitted, making the florist laugh.

"You know, just because I look like this doesn't mean I'm helpless," Sascha said with a wry smile. "No matter what I may look like I'm still a man, so at the very least I can still throw a good punch," Evan didn't need to be told that. He made a note to never make Sascha get that angry with him, because the florist looked seriously scary(not to mention he was regularly armed with pruning scissors).

"It was still a surprise though, I never thought you'd hit the guy since you never liked to deal with him before," Evan still remembered the first time he'd seen Sascha interact with Steven. The florist had looked so nervous, he'd never had thought he would stand up to him like that.

"Honestly, I didn't think so either. But even with all the things Steven did, none of it made me as mad as what he said today. To ask me to do something like that, it didn't hurt as much as it made me angry," Sascha explained, frowning at the mere thought. Steven had said and done a lot of things to him, things that had hurt, but to even suggest that they have an affair, just because he wanted to, after all he'd done, it was more than Sascha could take. He heard Evan sigh, snapping him out of his thoughts, and looked up at the man.

"I still don't get how you could ever go out with a guy like him," the man said, looking irked. Sascha couldn't help but chuckle at the man's expression.

"He was very charming back when I first met him," he had been a lot like Evan, actually, but Sascha didn't tell him that. "Not to mention, I was younger and I hadn't really had much experience with relationships," he added with a shrug.

"How old were you when you met him?" the other man asked curiously.

"I was about twenty-two, I think," said the florist after a moment of consideration. "Steven is considerably older so I suppose it wasn't so hard for him to get me to go out with him," he added.

"And how old was he?" and Evan asked himself if he really wanted to know. He could already guess Steven was older than him and he was still older than Sascha. The florist only smiled at him, though.

"You sure are full of questions today," he joked.

"Just curious," Evan shrugged, but he smiled from seeing that Sascha was being a bit friendlier that day. He thought it could have been because he was grateful to him for helping get rid of Steven(though he would have liked to have been the one to punch the guy and save Sascha, but he supposed that was too much to ask for). "But I'm glad you're okay, I was worried the guy would do something," he said sincerely, and Sascha couldn't help but blush and smile at the man's concern.

"I'm fine Evan, you really don't have to worry about me," he didn't want Evan to do so, because it just made it harder to keep his distance from the man. Sascha had been trying to do so since the night he'd told Evan to give up on him, but the man was too kind to him. No matter how much Sascha tried, Evan kept returning to the shop, and the florist didn't have the heart to turn him away(or maybe it was just that he liked having Evan around).

"Still, if that guy shows up again, call me, okay? I'll come over and get rid of him for you," Evan told the florist seriously, his hand resting on top of Sascha's. It was warm and comforting, more so than the florist would have liked, but he still couldn't bring himself to pull his hand away. He smiled a bit wistfully.

"You're really too good to me, Evan," he said, eyes staring at the counter.

"It's because I care about you," the man responded easily. "So of course I'm good to you," he rubbed the florist's hand with his thumb, feeling the soft skin and leaning over the counter, closer to the florist. He could see Sascha's face, eyes averted and cheeks red, those pink lips beckoning him closer.

And then the bell above the door chimed and Jason walked in, face half-hidden behind a scarf, but they could still see his eyes widen at the sight of his neighbor and his boss so close to kissing. His face was red, from both the cold and embarrassment and he stood frozen on the doorway.

"Woah," and it was pretty much all he managed to say, while Sascha drew away from Evan, hand slipping out from under the man's and face burning with embarrassment. Evan only turned to glare at the teen, lamenting the missed opportunity.

"J-Jay, uh, good morning," the florist muttered.

"Yeah, morning," Jason said gruffly, not looking at the other two, cheeks still red. "I'm going to the back," and then he hurried through the back door, leaving Evan and Sascha alone once more.

"Well, he looked embarrassed," Evan said lightly.

"Evan!" the man only grinned at the florist, and Sascha sighed in exasperation. "Listen, I need to get to work," he started, still not looking at Evan. "But thank you for earlier, I really did appreciate it," and Evan thought it was cute how shy Sascha looked when he said that(it was an image that was seriously conflicting with the furious Sascha he'd seen earlier), especially because he was still so flustered about Jason walking in on them. He smiled disarmingly at the florist, leaning closer.

"Well, if you really want to thank me you can help me decorate for the holidays," he suggested, and it was a spur of the moment thing, but he thought it would work perfectly with Sascha.

"What? D-decorate?" Sascha said, and Evan nodded cheerfully.

"Yep, decorate, I haven't had time to decorate my place and since you did such a good job with the shop I thought you could help me out," and he spoke with as innocent a tone as possible, because Sascha already looked flustered enough.

"You mean, your house?" and the florist sounded nervous and uncertain.

"Of course, only if you want to, but I would really like it if you would. I'll make you some nice hot cocoa if you agree, my brother taught me a really good way to make some and maybe we can have Jason help out. He lives just down the hall," of course, he only mentioned Jason to make Sascha feel more secure. It seemed to work too, because it looked like the florist was considering it. He bit his lip and glanced at Eva before nodding.

"I guess if Jay will be there," he said, hesitating but ultimately agreeing.

"Perfect, how about tomorrow?" Evan proposed happily.

"S-sure, tomorrow is fine," Sascha agreed, and Evan cheerfully wrote down his address and set up a time before leaving the shop, thinking that he'd have to find a way to bribe Jason into helping him.


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