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Chapter 16: Four Leaf Clover

It had been a long day at work for Evan, and he was glad to be home. Just as he was walking down the hall, he spotted his neighbors standing just outside their door. Jason's mother was an average sized woman with a round face and a pleasant smile. Her dark hair was cut short, brushing her plump cheeks and her eyes were a warm brown color. Unlike her son, she was very polite and generally a lovely woman. Evan often wondered how her son had turned out to be such a pain in the ass.

"Good evening, Mrs. Warren," Evan greeted. The woman smiled at him as she paused in her search for her keys. Behind her, Jason scowled half-heartedly. "Jason, you're here early," he commented. It wasn't quite late enough for the boy to be home, not when he usually insisted that he was fine with going home after dark.

"Oh, Mr. Litton, good evening," the woman said. "Jason wasn't feeling too well, so I had to pick him up from the flower shop," the boy's mother said.

"Oh, that's too bad," he said. When he looked more closely at the boy he could see that he didn't look too good. His face was flushed and he looked tired. It almost made him feel bad for him; almost. "I guess I'll leave you then. Looks like Jason could use some rest." Mrs. Warren smiled and opened the door to her apartment just as Evan dug in his pocket for his own keys.

He was just opening his own door, ready to walk in, when Jason walked back out with a scowl.

"How come you haven't been to the shop?" he asked. Evan had to wonder why Jason cared this time around.

"I've been busy," he said simply, but Jason just rolled his eyes.

"Then why are you here so early? Sascha won't close the shop for a few hours," he pointed out. Evan couldn't believe he was having that conversation with Jason. Again. "Did you piss off Sascha again?" Jason asked.

"Careful, wouldn't want your mom to hear you talking like that, would you?" Evan mocked, ready to walk into his home and shut the door in Jason's face.

"He's all alone, you know," Jason said, and Evan couldn't help but stop and look back at the boy. "Sascha's all alone at the shop. It's kind of sad."

"What happened to Miles?" Evan asked.

"He left to visit his family for the holidays," Jason informed him.

"Well, you'll be back at the shop, so he won't be alone," Evan pointed out. Jason rolled his eyes.

"I'm sick, I'm not gonna go back for a while," he told the man. It looked like he was about to say something else, but was interrupted by his mother calling for him. Evan took the chance to slip into his apartment and shut the door behind him. He heard a muffled curse from Jason, but paid it no mind.

Sascha was alone at the flower shop, and he'd probably be alone for Christmas. The thought made something in him ache. He knew Sascha was probably still upset with him, that he wouldn't want him around, but the idea of the florist sitting all alone in his apartment was just wrong. Sascha deserved more than that.

= = = = = = = = =

It had been an exhausting week for Sascha, and it wasn't just because the shop was busy. Miles had taken off to visit his family for the holidays, so it had just been him and Jason for a couple of days. That is, until the boy had gotten a nasty case of the flu. He'd had to call his mother to pick him up just the previous day because the boy was flushed and his skin was too warm for the florist to let him work. As a result, Sascha had worked the whole day on his own, tending to customers and making arrangements and any large deliveries he would have had Miles make before had to be changed to pick-ups. He still made the smaller ones, mainly because there weren't many, and only if they were nearby.

By the time the day was over, Sascha was tired, cold, and his throat felt funny – which probably meant he'd caught a cold, but he didn't want to think about that at the moment. He was ready to close up and head home, but just before he started to clean up, he got a call. It was an order for a delivery, just a wreath and a couple of small Christmas flower trees. Both items were ready since they were so popular and the place wasn't too far - though it was still far enough that he had to think about it - so Sascha agreed to the order.

He cleaned up the shop, packed up the items and closed up before heading out to the address provided. The night was calm, though very cold, and even though Sascha would have rather have gone home, he was glad his shop was getting so many customers. It kept him busy and that was always a good thing, especially when it kept him from thinking too much about things; like Evan.

It had been a while since he'd seen Evan, the man had done as he'd been asked and stayed away from his shop. Miles had told Sascha he'd done the right thing, and the florist had done his best to convince himself as well, but he couldn't deny that he missed the man. Jason had asked about the man's absence and Sascha hadn't known what to say except that Evan was probably busy with work. The boy hadn't really looked like he believed that, but he hadn't pressed for another answer. The florist wondered how long it would be until Jason found out the truth, after all, he was Evan's neighbor.

He pushed away those thoughts as he reached the place he was to deliver the items to. It was a small house in a calm neighborhood with modest homes lining the street. A well kept yard surrounded the path leading up to the porch of the home, which was adorned with lights that reflected off the windows. Sascha walked up to the door and rang the doorbell before waiting patiently for someone to answer while he fixed up his scarf.

Sascha looked back up at the door when he heard a crash from inside the house, then what sounded like arguing, followed by footsteps rushing towards the door just before it swung open, startling the florist a bit. Nothing surprised him as much as the sight of the person standing before him with a grin.

"Evan?" he asked and it was a moment before he managed to even get the man's name out, because he wasn't really who he expected to see.

"Hey Sascha," the man greeted. "You got here faster than I'd thought," he added and Sascha could only stare because he had no idea what was going on.

"W-what? What are you doing here?" the florist couldn't help but stutter a bit.

"Oh, I'm just visiting my brother," Evan said simply.

"Your brother?" Evan nodded, still grinning.

"Yep, this is Adam's house. He needed some nice decorations though, so I suggested your place." Sascha realized why the voice he'd heard through the phone had sounded so familiar. Still, he never would have been able to recognize Adam, because he'd only talked to the man once. Evan was still standing there, looking very smug, and Sascha felt a bit irritated at having been tricked like that.

"Here," he said, shoving the things he carried onto the man's arms. "Thank you for your business." Sascha was already turning to leave as he spoke. Evan hurriedly set down the items on a chair next to the doorway before going after Sascha.

"Hey, I haven't paid yet," he said, grabbing the florist's arm, careful not to hurt him.

"They're on the house." Sascha tried to pull his arm free, but Evan wasn't letting him go until he listened to what he had to say.

"Sascha, just listen to me," he said, but the florist still tried to pull away.

"Evan, let go," Sascha said, tone serious.

"I just want to talk," the other man pleaded.

"There's nothing to talk about," the florist insisted, still trying to get his arm free.

"Yes there is," Evan insisted. "Why are you always trying to run away?" It was frustrating and it hurt, because Evan didn't want Sascha to run from him.

"I'm not running away," the florist answered.

"Then listen to what I have to say," said the other man. "That's all I want Sascha, so just listen to me this once," and his tone was honest enough to get Sascha to consider it. At last, he relaxed, no longer trying to pull away from Evan.

"Fine," he said quietly, looking away, and Evan let out a relieved sigh.

"Good, uh, come on, we can talk inside," he said, but Sascha shook his head.

"Just tell me what you have to say," Sascha said, a small frown forming on his face as Evan let him go. The man wished Sascha wasn't so adverse to listening to him, but at least he was going to hear him out.

"Well, first, I guess I want to apologize for tricking you like this. I didn't know what else to do though, since you told me not to go to the shop anymore, but I really needed to talk to you," Evan started. "You probably hate me for being so annoying and for what I did to you last time, and I'm sorry. I promise I'll stop bothering you if you tell me why you don't want to see me anymore. I just don't want you to hate me." Evan didn't know what else to do but try to apologize to the florist once more, and he thought maybe that was the problem. Maybe Sascha had just gotten tired of him screwing up so much and always having to hear his apologies.

"I don't hate you," the florist said after a moment of thought, sounding honest and looking straight at Evan. "And you're not annoying, I just don't think it's a good idea for you to stay so close to me," he concluded.

"Why not?" Evan asked, puzzled.

"Just, having you get so close to me, constantly asking me out, all of that, it's not good Evan. I try to get you to stop, but I always end up being nice to you," Sascha admitted, frowning.

"But I like it when you're nice to me," Evan argued.

"It's not right, though," Sascha retorted, frustrated. "Because it just makes you think that maybe one day I'll say yes to you. It makes me feel horrible, because I can't stop, but I also can't help but reject you," he said and the florist looked so guilty that Evan felt bad for him.

"I don't mind it, Sascha," he said softly. "I keep trying because I really like you, not because I've managed to make you go out with me a few times, and it's not because you're leading me on. You kicked me out of your shop, and I'm still here, trying to talk to you. Even though I know you'll probably reject me again," Evan told the florist with a laugh. "Besides, I'm used to getting dumped. Used to happen all the time." That was true enough because Evan hadn't always been very good at asking people out. Sascha gave him a look of incredulity.

"I can't believe how persistent you are," he muttered. "I never thought it would be so hard to get you to give up."

"You're not supposed to give up on love," Evan told the florist with a grin, finally saying what Sascha had been afraid of hearing. Sascha didn't know whether to laugh or cry -- or smack Evan on the head -- because as much as he liked hearing Evan tell him he loved him, he wished he hadn't said so. It made it a lot harder to tell him to leave him alone -- and it made Sascha hope that the man was being honest.

"You can't mean that," he said, looking away, arms crossed above his chest.

"Why not?" Evan asked, frustrated. "I know it's hard for you to believe, and maybe it's because of the way I act, but I really mean it. You're the only one who could ever make me go through so much trouble just for a date, you know," he pointed out. "You don't have to say you love me, but I want you to know that I really do love you, even if it took me a long time to realise it. Now I'd like a chance to show you it's true."

Sascha couldn't even look at Evan. He knew if he did he'd end up doing something stupid, because no one had told him they loved him in a very long time. No one had ever said it with such an honest tone that made his heart beat faster and his cheeks warm up. That made him hope and believe that maybe this time it was true.

The florist didn't know how to respond, how to make Evan understand that things weren't as easy as saying 'I love you'. That just because you thought you felt that way didn't mean there would be a happy ending. Sometimes, love didn't fix everything.

In the end he just sighed, shaking his head as he looked around, feeling glad that no one was out at the time due to the cold weather. "You're being really stupid," he told the other man, frown still in place.

"Probably," Evan admitted with a shrug, even though he wasn't too sure what Sascha was talking about. After all, he'd done a lot of stupid things as of late.

"If you go out with me your family will probably be unhappy," the florist pointed out, still trying to make Evan see that things weren't as simple as he made them sound. Evan just shrugged in response, not looking very bothered.

"Adam already likes you," he told Sascha.

"What about your parents?" Sascha asked. "How will they react if you tell them you're going out with a man?" It was just hard to believe that they wouldn't want something more for their son. That they wouldn't want the things that Sascha couldn't give him.

"Honestly, I don't care," Evan said simply. "I'm old enough to make my own choices," not to mention that they would probably be glad to hear their son had at least stopped sleeping around (and Evan would get back at his brother someday, for having told their parents about that).

"And what if you realize you made the wrong choice?" Sascha was trying not to get his hopes up. He really was, because Evan could say he wanted Sascha, but it was still possible for him to change his mind.

"I won't," and Evan didn't even hesitate to answer. "I'll love you no matter what," he insisted. He looked straight at the florist, using his most serious tone and Sascha wondered if he was telling the truth. "Even if you get old and wrinkly," Evan added jokingly, and Sascha couldn't help but snort in laughter at the unexpected comment.

"Oh really? So you'll still love me if I suddenly grow a beard?" the florist asked with a serious face. There was a pause as Evan thought over the question.

"If I say yes, do you promise not to?" he said at last, getting a laugh from Sascha. Evan watched the florist with a smile, thinking it had been too long since he'd heard that sound. When the florist looked back up at Evan, his expression was softer.

"You're really horrible, you know," he said, with a small smile.

"So I've been told," the other man said with a laugh. "Hopefully it won't keep you from falling in love with my charming nature and dashing good looks," Evan teased. It felt good to be able to joke around with Sascha again, but he wanted more than that. "So, how about it? Want to give it a chance?" he asked, tone hopeful, but Sascha sighed and turned his gaze to the side with a look of uncertainty that made Evan feel anxious. There was a tense silence as he waited for the florist to answer, a silence that was suddenly broken.

"Please go out with my brother, it'll shut him up!" Both Evan and Sascha were startled at the sudden call from inside the house, but Evan recovered quickly enough to respond.

"You're ruining the freaking magic!" he called back, scowling. He smiled again when he heard Sascha laughing and turned back to look at the florist.

"Really?" Sascha said, still chuckling.

"Well, he was," Evan said with a shrug. "So? Do I get a chance to show you I'm not such a bad guy?" he asked again. Sascha looked at him for a while, thinking it over.

"Are you sure you're okay with me? With the way I am?" he asked after a while, and Evan nodded enthusiastically.

"Definitely more than okay," he said with a grin, and Sascha smiled faintly, dropping his gaze to the floor.

"I promised myself I wouldn't date anyone interested in women again," he started. "But if it's you, I don't think I can help it," he looked up at Evan, cheeks flushed and his whole body tense with apprehension and the doubt he felt; but also with how much he wanted it. He wanted to be with Evan, always had, and he couldn't deny it anymore. Not when Evan was the only one who could make him laugh and smile when just moments earlier he'd been so upset. Not when Evan was standing before him, telling him he loved him.

Slowly, he reached for Evan's hand, grasping it with his own shaky one and looking straight at the man with his bright green eyes, the simple touch making Evan feel so warm. "So, if you really want me, then I'll go out with you." The florist couldn't manage to say it without averting his gaze, blushing up to his ears. Evan grinned wildly, his heart pounding in his chest as he looked at Sascha, tightening his hold on the florist's hand. He leaned closer, stopping just an inch away from the other's face.

"Does that mean I can kiss you now?" he asked, mostly just to tease the florist, and it worked. Sascha looked even more flustered than before, but he looked up at Evan, green eyes sparkling beneath long lashes and nodded. Evan wasted no time in leaning forward to lay his lips over the florist's. The kiss was soft, unlike the last one they'd shared, and Evan could feel Sascha lean into it a bit, a hand tentatively settling onto his chest, just as he set his hand on the florist's waist. They parted after just a short moment, Evan smiling softly.

"So, can I go back to the shop?" he said after a moment, and Sascha let out a small laugh and nodded.

"Yeah, you can go back," he said, stepping back a bit, but Evan kept a hold on the florist's hand.

"Come on, lets go inside," he said, leading Sascha back into his brother's house. Sascha followed with a smile, feeling happier than he had in a while, but there was still a sense of apprehension present in the back of his mind. The doubts he'd always had resonating in his mind and he couldn't help but wonder if things would be alright, even as he hoped they would be. For now though, he'd just make the most of things, and when he looked at Evan, getting a warm smile from him, he thought it wouldn't be so bad. Even if it was just for a little while, it was worth it.

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