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Chapter 03: Bell Flower

Sascha didn't have to wait long to see Evan again.

Just two days after they'd last spoken, Evan walked into the flower shop, two cups of coffee in his hands.

"Good morning," he said, setting a cup down on the counter in front of Sascha.

"Good morning, Evan," the florist said, surprised at the man's early visit.

"What brings you here so early?" because it was just a bit past seven and Sascha had literally just hung the open sign on the front window.

"Nothing really, just thought you'd like a cup of coffee to start your day," Evan answered easily, sipping his own hot drink.

"Oh, well, thank you," Sascha said, smiling.

"But shouldn't you be heading to work?"

"Your shop's on the way so it's not a long drive," Evan shrugged.

"Plus it's still early."

Sascha looked down at the coffee cup before him and then back up at Evan, sighing, he accepted the drink and chatted with the man for a bit before he left, waving and grinning. The florist didn't expect to see Evan again for a few more days after that.

The next day, he was proven wrong when Evan walked into his shop, yet again carrying two cups of coffee. Sascha welcomed him as usual and talked for a while before Evan left. For the next couple of weeks, Evan would visit Sascha with coffee, and eventually even pastries from the bakery just a few doors down from the flower shop. Sometimes, he would be gone for two or three days, and Sascha would think that Evan had finally gotten bored of whatever game he was playing, but the man would always show up again.

Sascha honestly didn't know what to make of Evan and his constant visits, because while he had said he would keep going to Sascha's shop, he hadn't said he'd be there so often, or that he'd be so nice. It was a bit unsettling, if only because it felt almost like Evan was trying to ask Sascha out(and the last time that had happened it hadn't ended too well). Unfortunately, Sascha didn't know what to do about the whole situation, because he didn't want to offend Evan. However, when Evan showed up one Saturday afternoon with a lunch consisting of take-out food from one of the surrounding restaurants, Sascha knew he had to put a stop to it.

"Listen, Evan," he sighed, trying to look straight at the man.

"This is all very nice and all, but well, I don't really feel very comfortable accepting all these things," he said.

"What, lunch?" Evan said, after swallowing a mouthful of fries.

"No, not just that, everything. The coffee, the pastries and you really don't have to stop by so often, I know you must have better things to do," Sascha said, a bit exasperated, but Evan simply shrugged.

"It's just food," he said.

"And believe it or not, I really have nothing better to do," at least, not now that he wasn't dating anymore.

Sascha didn't seem very convinced though.

"Look, it's not a big deal, I buy my friends at work lunch sometimes too. It's just what friends do," he tried to explain, and Sascha seemed to lighten up a bit at that.

"So, I noticed you opened late today," Evan said, changing the topic.

Sascha gave him a questioning look, because Evan hadn't been there for long, so how could he know when he opened.

"I drove by when I went to pick up some stuff from my office earlier," the other man explained, easily reading the florist's look.

"Yeah, I had to deliver some arrangements, so I closed the shop for a bit while I was gone," Sascha told Evan.

"I thought you didn't do deliveries," which made sense because it was only Sascha tending to the shop and he couldn't just abandon the store or close it every time he had to make a delivery.

"I don't, but the lady who was picking them up couldn't make it and it was kind of an urgent that they made it in time," said the florist.

"Well, that's inconvenient. You're too nice sometimes, you know," Evan commented, he was fairly certain that, had he been in Sascha's place, he wouldn't have delivered them.

"I have to be nice, it's my job to get people the flowers they need," and he needed the customers desperately, but Evan didn't need to know that.

He stayed for a while longer, but Sascha sent him off saying he needed to enjoy his weekend, and Evan didn't want to argue. He'd discovered that Sascha could be very stubborn at times.

A few days later, Evan woke up early as usual, feeling well rested(something that had only started happening after he stopped going out on dates during the workweek) and ready to get to work. He thought he'd stop by Sascha's shop for a bit, if only because he hadn't visited the man in a few days. Evan had been trying to give him some space, knowing too much attention made Sascha uncomfortable.

He was just about to reach his car when he saw a boy riding a bike, from the looks of it on his way to school, approaching. Evan recognized the boy as Jason, a neighbor's kid that would often bump into people. Jason was just clumsy like that and a few times, he'd nearly run Evan over while riding his bike. This time though, Evan didn't have to worry about being run over, instead, he watched as Jason lost control of his bike and swerved to the side. And right into Evan's car.

"Jason!" Evan exclaimed out of both worry and irritation.

Jason, however was perfectly fine. In fact, he was quick enough to glance at Evan before getting on his bike and riding away like the devil was after him. And Evan could only stare in disbelief, because he'd technically just witnessed a hit and run(though it was of a more unusual kind). He signed in resignation as he lost sight of the boy and turned to examine his car. There really wasn't much damage, just a scratch, so Evan resolved to just talk to Jason about being more careful when he got home from work.

He was in a bit less of a good mood by the time he go to Sascha's shop, but he still grinned as he walked up to the door. Only to groan as he realized it was closed.

'He's probably doing a delivery,' he thought.

Evan glanced at his watch, noting that he didn't have much time to wait. In the end, he decided he'd just stop by after work.

Sascha was working on a large flower arrangement when Evan walked into the shop that afternoon. He noticed that the florist looked a bit tired as well, but he still smiled when he saw Evan.

"Hello, Evan," he greeted pleasantly.

"Hey, Sascha," Evan leaned against the counter, watching Sascha work.

"You look tired," he commented.

"Well, it's been a long day," Sascha admitted.

"Did you have a delivery today? I stopped by in the morning but the shop was closed."

"Oh, yes, I had to leave for a bit to deliver a bouquet, sorry about that."

"It's fine," Evan waved it off.

"But you should probably think about hiring someone to run deliveries for you."

Sascha sighed as he pulled out a ribbon for the arrangement.

"I know, but I can't right now," he said.

"Why not? It would really help business. A lot more people would probably buy from your shop if they knew you could deliver things," and Evan knew how hard Sascha tried to get more customers.

He was the only florist that opened at seven and closed at seven five days a week, only taking some time off during the weekends. Even then, the shop was still open, the business hours were just shorter, and Evan wondered how Sascha could manage it all on his own.

Sascha frowned, still focusing on the arrangement in front of him.

"Sascha," Evan pressed, and the florist looked at him, before sighing and sitting on the stool next to him.

"I just can't really afford to hire anyone," he finally said.

"Even if it's just a part time delivery boy."

And it was obvious that he didn't really want to admit that the shop wasn't doing so well, because he wouldn't look at Evan. He felt bad for Sascha, because he tried so hard to do the best he could and his customers really did like him. It was just a shame that most people wouldn't bother to look at the little shop twice when they could go to a larger store.

Evan ended up staying until Sascha closed up for the night and insisted on giving him a ride home. The man looked tired and it wasn't really much of a bother for Evan to drive a few blocks over to where Sascha lived. He waved at Sascha as he drove away from the apartment complex the florist lived in and headed home, trying to think of a way to help out Sascha.

As soon as he got home, though, he heard someone knocking on his door very softly. It was almost like they didn't want to be heard(and they wouldn't have been, had Evan not had to walk by the door to retrieve his cellphone from his coat pocket), and Evan had no trouble guessing who it was.

"Hello, Jason, what brings you here?" he told the teenage boy standing outside as he leaned against the doorway.

Jason, the boy who'd hit Evan's car that morning, was staring up at him from his doorstep. He was a thin boy of sixteen years with messy black hair and dark blue eyes that were usually alight with mischief. The boy looked a bit rough, but he was a good kid, and Evan got along with him and his parents well enough. Except when he was trying to run him over or hitting his car, that is.

"Hello Mr. Litton, I just thought I'd come by and offer my most heartfelt apologies for this morning's incident. I want you to know it was not my intention to hit your car and had I not been running late for school I would have apologized at the time. I hope we can just put this whole thing behind us," the boy said in his most polite tone, giving Evan a winning smile at the end of his little speech.

Evan, however, was not impressed. Especially because Jason did the same thing every time he was in trouble.

"Your mom say you from the window, didn't she?" he asked, because he knew Jason's mother liked to keep an eye on her son.

"Yeah," Jason said, scowling.

Evan sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. The boy was almost guaranteed to give him a headache.

"You know, you actually scratched my car this time," he told the boy with a small glare.

"I didn't mean to," he defended.

"And you could have gotten hurt. How many times have I told you to be more careful?"

"A lot," Jason admitted.

"Come on Mr. Evan, it was barely a scratch," the boy nearly whined.

Evan just rolled his eyes, knowing he would end up sending the boy off with only one more reminder to be careful. It was how things always went between the two. Only this time Evan had a sudden idea, an idea that made him grin and glance back at Jason considering look before closing his door and leading the boy down the hall.

"Hey, hold it, where are we going?" Jason asked, looking up at Evan.

"We're going to see your parents so we can discuss your punishment for damaging my car," Evan said, and he'd later admit that he did feel a bit gleeful at finally getting back at Jason.

Jason looked alarmed, but he knew he wouldn't be able to run away from Evan, so he resigned himself to his fate.

When the bell to his shop chimed Saturday morning, Sascha put on his most welcoming smile and turned, ready to greet a customer. He was, however, met instead with Evan, who was grinning widely as a teenage boy stood next to him,looking very sullen.

"Hey Sascha, I found you a delivery boy."

And Sascha honestly didn't know what to say to that. Not that it mattered much to Evan, because he just walked closer, pushing the boy along.

"This is Jason, he's my neighbor and he has agreed to be your new part time delivery boy. Only after school and on the weekends though," Evan explained gleefully, and Sascha was a bit taken aback by the fierce glare Jason was sending Evan's way.

"Oh, okay, it's nice to meet you Jason. I'm Sascha, thank you for agreeing to help out at my shop," Sascha said with a wide smile, though he sounded a bit uncertain.

The boy stopped glaring at Evan long enough to look at Sascha, a puzzled look coming over his face, before he turned back to Evan.

"Hey, I thought you said the owner was a guy. I'm not working here just so you can get laid," he said bluntly, and Sascha couldn't help but blush at the boy's words.

Evan scowled and swatted the boy on the head.

"Sascha is a guy, and don't talk like that or I'll tell your mother," he warned, pleased to see the boy pale immediately at the mention of his mother.

"Now introduce yourself properly."

The boy scowled, but did as told, turning his attention back to Sascha and extending a hand.

"It's nice to meet you too," he said, shaking Sascha's hand.

"See, that wasn't so hard," Evan said, mostly just to pick on the boy.

It worked because Jason scowled and looked like he wanted to kill the man. Sascha decided to intervene before his shop became a murder scene.

"Jason, why don't you go to the back and leave your coat there?" he suggested.

The boy trudged away behind the counter and through the door leading to the back, pulling his coat off as he went along.

"So, what do you think?" Evan said with a grin.

Sascha sighed and shook his head.

"I think I need to figure out what I'm going to do about my new employee," he said tiredly.

"Evan, I told you I can't afford to have anyone else working here."

"I know, I know," Evan said, trying to placate Sascha.

"And it's all taken care of, you don't have to pay Jason so don't worry about it, okay?"

But Sascha just gave him an odd look.

"What do you mean I don't have to pay him?"

And now Evan was grinning again.

"Well, he owed me a favor, besides, his parents think it's a good idea and it'll keep him out of trouble," he tried to convince the florist.

"Listen you don't have to keep him around if it doesn't work out, but just give it a chance. He's a bit clumsy and he can be rude sometimes, but he's a good kid."

Sascha didn't look too sure about it, but Evan wouldn't give up. He knew Sascha needed the help.

"He can help out around the shop when he's not out running deliveries and he has his own bike," he attempted.

The florist looked at him for a moment before sighing.

"Fine," he said, at last.

"But just, please ask me before you do anything like this again."

"I will, I promise," Evan agreed.

So Jason was given an apron(something he protested to greatly before Evan threatened to tell his mom) and put to work sweeping the shop. Not that it was a hard task to do, since Sascha kept the place fairly clean. He still grumbled the whole time though, but Evan tuned him out as he talked with Sascha.

"So, how's business going?" he asked.

"Okay, I suppose," Sascha shrugged.

"Not a lot of people buy flowers now a days. Unless it's a holiday, at least."

"Not true, I bought a lot of flowers here," Evan pointed out.

Sascha smiled wryly at the man.

"You thought I was a girl and only bought them to ask me out," he said with a chuckle.

From behind Evan there was a snort of laughter and the man turned to glare at Jason, who promptly moved to sweep another area of the shop.

"Well, the first time I really did just want to buy flowers," Evan said, looking back at Sascha.

The florist only smiled, amused.

The bell above the door chimed and an older woman walked in, looking at the flowers appraisingly.

"Welcome," Sascha said, as usual.

"Is there anything I can help you with?"

The woman smiled at Sascha, nodding.

"Yes, I'm looking for a nice year round plant, something to brighten up the house," she said.

Sascha considered this for a moment, looking around the shop. His gaze stopped at a set of small flowers in clay pots. They came in a variety of warm colors, bright and beautiful.

"Why don't you try some of these?" he said, leading the woman over.

"They're called floral kalachoe and they're great if you want to give a room a bit of color."

The woman seemed pleased with them and ended up getting four of the small potted plants, which were fairly cheap.

"Thank you miss, you've been very helpful," said the woman as she took her change.

"You're very welcome, have a nice day," Sascha responded, not at all fazed by the fact that the woman had just referred to him as a woman.

The bell chimed as the woman left and Jason could be heard snickering in some corner, most likely having heard what the woman had said.

"Did that lady just call you 'miss'?" Evan asked, looking at Sascha with a quirked brow.

"Yep," Sascha said simply, taking a seat on the stool by the register.

"And you're not bothered?"

"It happens," Sascha shrugged.

"Funny story, but a guy actually asked me out once after thinking I was a girl," he said, stifling a laugh.

"That's not funny, Sascha," Evan complained.

But he still couldn't help but smile when Sascha laughed.

It wasn't long until it was closing time and Jason happily left the shop. He promised to be back after school on Monday though, before he rode away on his bike.

"Well, he is a good kid," Sascha admitted, as he locked up.

"Told you," and Evan did his best to not sound so smug.

Sascha smiled as he pocketed the key.

"Thank you Evan, I really appreciate what you did," he said, honestly.

"It was nothing, he did owe me, after all. And you needed the help."

"But you didn't have to do anything. It was very sweet of you though."

And Evan had to look away because he felt strangely abashed. It still felt nice to be appreciated for his efforts, but maybe it was just because of the way Sascha was smiling at him. Either way, he was glad he'd been able to do something for the florist, especially after the trouble he'd caused him.

"Just tell me if he gives you trouble," Evan said, because he knew Jason all too well.

"I will," Sascha laughed.

And then they parted ways, at least for the time being.

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