Length: ~8,000 words
Summary: Tattoo artist!Kyungsoo/Florist!Jongin - Kyungsoo has seen endless distasteful looks from people passing by when he comes into Jongin’s shop but never from Jongin himself, who only ever smiles at him warmly.
“Come back in a week so we can finish off the colouring, okay? I’ll see you soon,” Kyungsoo gets up from his chair, setting the ink gun down carefully on the table counter and guiding the client out of the back room.
He sees his client off for the day, cracking his fingers and massaging his wrists from the long session he’s just finished off on the intricate back piece. His schedule is clear for the next hour, giving him enough time to finally take a break. His stomach grumbles and he heads out of the shop to get a bite to eat, ignoring all the usual looks he gets for the tattoos scattered all over his arms and creeping up his neck on his way to the cafe. It’s inevitable and he’s stopped being bothered by it anymore.
Toasted sandwich in hand, he decides to eat it back in the privacy of his own shop. On the way back, he stares at the open door to the flower shop next door to his own, pondering it for a moment before deciding to step inside.
The owner, Jongin, is over by the counter and Kyungsoo watches the way his shoulder blades move under his fitted white shirt as he reaches up for a flower pot on the top shelf of a wall unit.
“Oh, you’re back!” Jongin smiles at him familiarly when he turns and catches sight of him.
Kyungsoo has seen endless distasteful looks from people passing by when he comes into Jongin’s shop but never from Jongin himself, who only ever smiles at him warmly. It’s a welcome change in such an unexpected place too.
“What will it be today?” Jongin asks expectantly. He’s gotten used to Kyungsoo coming in here every so often for a different batch of flowers each time. Kyungsoo likes to prop them up at just the right angle and use them as a model reference to perfect his drawing and colouring on his flower sketches, adding them to his portfolio.
Kyungsoo hums in thought. He did roses last week and an arrangement of pastels a couple of days ago. Maybe he should work on shading this time.
“Chrysanthemums,” Kyungsoo says. “White ones, please.”
Jongin nods, sweeping out from behind the counter to get the bouquet together while Kyungsoo watches and waits. There’s something about the way that Jongin treats every flower in his shop that fascinates Kyungsoo, catching the way Jongin subtly lowers his head to smell the chrysanthemums, smiling to himself, before working on binding them into an arrangement.
Kyungsoo snaps out of it when Jongin hands him the finished bouquet with an open smile and Kyungsoo nods gratefully, paying for the flowers before heading out of the shop.
His own shop is a lot quieter by comparison to the bustle in Jongin’s shop but Kyungsoo likes it this way, offering him the peace he’s comfortable settling into by himself. A walk in client comes through the door before he can get started on sketching the flowers, and he pushes them aside safely for later.
It starts pouring rain early in the morning when Kyungsoo’s halfway down the street, on his way to his shop. Grunting, he raises his hands over his head, berating himself for not bringing an umbrella with him when he knew a storm was coming. It’s coming down even harder and Kyungsoo looks around for shelter, beelining for the bus stop up ahead.
Despite the shelter overhead, the seats are still wet from the rain blowing in with the force of the wind. Kyungsoo tugs his jacket tighter around himself, folding his arms across his chest to trap some warmth.
It's still early in the morning and there are only a few hooded figures around, hidden under their umbrellas, scuttling past to get to where they need to be. He can see someone in the distance heading his way, holding a jacket over his head as he splashes through the puddles in the street.
Kyungsoo purses his lips sympathetically as the figure hurtles under the shelter of the bus stop, dripping and soaked right through. He doesn't recognize him till he's pulled his jacket down from over his head and shaken his wet bangs out of his eyes.
"You too, huh?"
Jongin looks up in surprise before his expression melts into a smile of recognition.
"I overslept," he admits sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. "Didn't have time to grab an umbrella before I ran out."
Kyungsoo chuckles, looking back out to peer up at the sky, the dark clouds giving no sign that they're dispersing any time soon.
"You know, I've been wondering for a while," Jongin starts and Kyungsoo turns back to look at him again. "I've been trying to figure out the pattern to the flowers you buy every week, but I can't think of anything."
Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows, breathing out a small, surprised laugh. "A pattern?"
Jongin is smiling, a little embarrassed, but he keeps going earnestly. "You alternate a lot between arrangements and single flowers but they're always different colours and different types. They mean different things, you know?"
"Like what?" Kyungsoo asks, intrigued by the way Jongin looks so deeply at his choices.
"Like the chrysanthemums you got. White ones this time," Jongin says. "And last week's arrangement of blue rosebuds. I figured you either have a lot of people to see, or you just...really like flowers."
"I know," Jongin grins sheepishly.
"What do the chrysanthemums mean then?" Kyungsoo asks, a little charmed when Jongin's cheeks go pink.
"Loyalty and devotion to someone," Jongin says, still not breaking the gaze between them.
Kyungsoo is silent for a moment, eyeing him a little longer before before he sees through the corner of his eye that the rain has finally stopped.
He steps out from under the bus stop, beckoning Jongin to join him to make their way to their shops.
"I keep all the flowers in my shop," Kyungsoo says finally. "I buy them because I use them as references for tattoo sketches. Nothing beats the real thing right in front of you for practice."
Jongin's the one who laughs in surprise this time, looking fascinated at the idea.
"I'll admit, I wasn't expecting that," he says.
"It's not the most conventional reason for buying flowers," Kyungsoo shrugs, pulling his keys out of his pocket when they round the corner into their street.
"Definitely the most interesting one I've heard in a while," Jongin says in reply, struggling with the wet fabric of his pants when he tries to pull his own keys out.
"Maybe I'll show them to you some time," Kyungsoo absently squeezes his fingers around the key more tightly before loosening them up.
Jongin smiles at him brightly. "I'd like that."
The bells jingle quietly when Kyungsoo pushes the door open to Jongin’s shop. It’s busy today; Kyungsoo tries his best to slip through the crowd of people blocking his way without knocking over any flowerpots.
Jongin sees him coming before he even gets there, throwing him a familiar smile as he pushes a large arrangement of orange tulips aside from the counter. His whole face seems to brighten up when he smiles.
Kyungsoo finally makes his way to him, getting jostled a bit more before he actually reaches the counter.
“Did I forget a holiday?” he asks.
“It’s graduation time,” Jongin fills him in, and Kyungsoo nods in realization. That explains the extra dirty looks he got on the way.
“So, what are you looking for today?”
Kyungsoo hums, looking around to take in the myriad of coloured petals all around the shop.
Jongin smiles, moving out from behind the counter. It’s a tight squeeze when he tries to slip around Kyungsoo to get to the other side, pushing up against Kyungsoo when he turns to follow Jongin’s movement. He chuckles awkwardly, finally managing to ease himself out of the squeeze between the bodies to get to the flower display in the corner.
Kyungsoo watches him treat the flowers delicately, careful of every petal, handling them expertly and artistically in the way he sorts them out. He hadn’t realized there was such an art to flowers before he’d met Jongin.
“So, what do these mean?” Kyungsoo says when Jongin hands him the finished bouquet of peach begonias.
“Well,” Jongin rests his elbows on the counter, leaning closer. “They’re the flowers for deep thoughts, when there’s a lot on your mind.”
“Is there a lot on your mind?” Kyungsoo ventures, pulling out his wallet to pay for the flowers.
Jongin smiles, handing him the receipt. “Maybe.”
Sometimes Kyungsoo stays on a while longer just to talk even after he’s already paid for the flowers. He can’t help himself, barely even realizing how easily he gets reeled into an easy conversation with Jongin. Jongin seems to enjoy the company, smiling brightly every time he comes in even though he’s minding the shop. He listens with an open kind of fascination when Kyungsoo talks about his clients and the drawing sketches he’s working on. Kyungsoo is almost late to his own appointment with a client after staying too long in Jongin’s shop, lost in the moment.
He’s been drawing a lot more flowers too lately. He only realizes with a jolt how overcrowded his entire shop is with flowers when a client points it out one day.
“Are you redecorating or something?” she asks, staring at the row of peonies lining the wall unit across the room.
Kyungsoo blinks and looks around, noting how little bare space there is left with so many arrangements filling it up.
“I guess so,” he chuckles quietly.
They’ve been shop neighbours for a long while now. Jongin’s shop was already set up when Kyungsoo brought his tattoo business to the shop next to him nearly a year ago. He’s not sure what catalysed them into suddenly developing the friendship that was probably long overdue anyway, but he’s glad it did.
Admittedly, he’d been wary about what the reaction to him setting up shop next to the flowershop in this neighbourhood would be like, particularly from the neighbouring businesses themselves. It’s no secret that tattoo artists aren’t exceptionally well received after all. Kyungsoo made his peace with that a long time ago but he can’t help the apprehensiveness that comes to him despite that. He’s gotten the exact reaction he’s anticipated from almost everyone.
Everyone but Jongin. It’s never once felt that way with him. It may have taken a while for Kyungsoo to actually realize that there was never a barrier between them but he’s grateful for Jongin’s consistency if this is where it’s led to eventually.
There’s a street festival this week, for the beginning of autumn. Kyungsoo groans when he sees all the trash and the mess of plastic cups and half eaten food discarded on the pavement in front of his shop.
“This is your first autumn festival here, right?”
Kyungsoo turns to see Jongin already there, holding two brooms. He hands one to Kyungsoo who takes it gratefully, eyeing the unidentifiable glob of goo on the front step that he decides to avoid for the time being.
“Is it always this messy?” he asks, sweeping the cans of cola to the a pile on the side.
“It’s been worse,” Jongin says, making a pile of his own. There are streamers and confetti everywhere.
“They used to come around with silly string. I had to replace the glass pane on my door because the smudges wouldn’t come off,” Jongin says grimly.
Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows, casting a glance at his own glass panes just in case, but there’s no damage done to them.
It takes a while to clean everything up, what with the wind blowing through and scattering everything they’ve swept up into a pile all over again. Eventually, they shove everything into the dumpster around the corner, finally having cleared the entire pavement in front of their shops.
They sit down on the now cleared curb, still chatting amicably and Jongin is laughing at something Kyungsoo is saying. He gets up a moment later, heading off to go get them something to drink from one of the street carts hanging around across the street. He comes back with warm drinks in hand for both of them and Kyungsoo takes it gratefully, warming his palms up against the hot cup.
Jongin is looking at his hand intently and Kyungsoo looks down, wondering if he spilled something.
Jongin shakes his head with an apologetic smile. “I just never noticed you had a tattoo of a music note along your wrist.”
Kyungsoo looks down at the art coiling over his pulse point and smiles, remembering the day he got it. It was when he’d decided he wanted to go into art over music but he chose to carry music around with him anyway.
“I’ve got more up here too,” Kyungsoo says, setting his cup down on the ground safely between his feet and rolls up the sleeve of his left arm.
Jongin marvels over the countless tattoos spotted across his skin, asking if this is okay when he reaches to turn Kyungsoo’s arm over, following the trail of scales from the dragon tattoo he has coiling around his forearm. Kyungsoo smiles quietly, indulging him and nodding to let Jongin keep going.
“Did they hurt?” he asks curiously and Kyungsoo laughs, having expected that question.
“The arms, not so much,” he shrugs. “My chest and neck were a lot more sensitive.”
“The colours are beautiful,” Jongin murmurs, dragging a finger up along the tree stalk running along the side of Kyungsoo’s arm before he seems to remember himself and hastily pulls away.
“Interested?” Kyungsoo asks.
“Been tempted before,” Jongin admits, folding his arms back over his knees. He smiles sheepishly. “I’m just not sure I could endure the needle. And I wouldn’t really know what to get anyway.”
Kyungsoo chuckles. “If you ever do decide to get one, I could recommend some good people.”
“What if I want you?”
Kyungsoo looks at him, finding Jongin looking straight back at him and smiles widely.
They run into each other in the morning, walking to work together since they’re headed in the same direction. The air is still fresh and biting from the powerful storm that raged on the night before.
“I could barely sleep through it at all,” Jongin yawns, his voice thick with drowsiness as he rubs at his eyes.
“I tried watching a movie on my tablet till I could fall asleep through the noise,” Kyungsoo says, having managed to finally fall back asleep halfway through.
“Must have been some movie,” Jongin grins curiously. Kyungsoo snorts, about to describe it but Jongin’s face suddenly goes ashen, staring straight ahead as the blood drains out of his face. Startled, Kyungsoo follows his stare and inhales sharply.
The ruins from last night’s storm blew the hardest through this street, debris and broken branches strewn across the pavement. The wind uprooted several trees, one of which smashed right through the roof of Jongin’s shop, tearing through the front wall and entrance.
“No,” Jongin breathes, staggering forward before stopping just a few steps in front of the wreckage, his face twisting, distraught.
Kyungsoo sucks in a breath, taking in the mess, noting with quiet relief that his shop is untouched and missed the impact as he gives it a once over, though he doesn’t comment on it. Instead, he turns his focus back to the remnants of Jongin’s ruined shop and the devastation on his face. He reaches down to grasp his elbow gently.
“Fuck, what do I- “ Jongin says, running a hand through his hair, still staring at the wreckage, his eyes wild with panic. “What do I do?”
Kyungsoo can’t give him a proper answer, opting instead to shift closer and rest a reassuring hand on the small of his back gently.
“Maybe we should call the-”
“Shit, wait,” Jongin suddenly lurches forward towards the blocked entrance, cutting Kyungsoo off halfway. He almost tries to go inside but Kyungsoo pulls him back with a warning that it’s dangerous. The ceiling might continue to give at any moment. Jongin only looks more distressed, combing his fingers through his hair roughly again. Kyungsoo seizes the moment to make a call to the tree removal service quickly, giving them the address to come and deal with the fallen tree.
“I have an order for today,” Jongin says agitated, pacing around on the spot. “For a wedding, I was supposed to have a batch of bouquets and arrangements ready to deliver, they must be ruined now.”
Jongin looks close to tears now, his face contorting with frustration that he can’t do anything.
“I need to get in there, maybe I can salvage something in time-”
“Jongin it’s too dangerous. Just wait till the professionals get here.”
Jongin finally stops pacing, dropping down on his haunches and pressing the heel of his hand to his head, squeezing his eyes shut.
“This isn’t happening,” he mutters quietly, cursing under his breath, thoroughly frustrated.
Kyungsoo manages to coax him up after a moment, guiding him towards his own shop to sit inside till the men arrive instead of waiting outside in the wet cold.
The trucks finally get there, immediately working on hauling the tree off and testing the walls to make sure that the place is cleared and safe to enter. Meanwhile Jongin is busy on his phone, dealing with the insurance company over his lease and what to do about damages. His brows are furrowed as he paces around Kyungsoo’s shop, his expression twisting the longer he stays on the line. Kyungsoo sets up his own things quietly, unobtrusively, letting Jongin get his things sorted.
Finally Jongin ends the call, dropping his hand with a huge sigh, looking utterly defeated.
“He said it’ll take a while to renovate the whole place before I can open the shop up properly again.”
He paces around again like he can’t figure out what to do next before deciding to head out again to check the progress on what’s left of the shop. Kyungsoo lets him be, giving him some space and knowing that there’s nothing he can say that will appease Jongin just yet.
His first client is coming in for her appointment soon so he focused on preparing his things. He’s distracted all the while that he’s tattooing the tiger piece on the client’s arm, his thoughts going back to Jongin, itching to run out and be next to him right now. He’s done with the artwork a few hours later, and immediately needs to hop into the next one with a smaller piece this time, a hot air balloon. It takes him a little over an hour till he’s done, straightening up to crack his back and massage his wrist.
Luckily, it’s a slow day today with spaced out appointments so he can spare some time to head over to Jongin’s shop now. What’s left of it, at least.
The entrance is still mostly debris and the door is gone so he just steps through the open entrance, avoiding the metal that’s still poking out of the broken pieces of the wall. The front part of the shop is completely trashed, the furniture is broken and it’s completely soaked from the torrential rain the night before. Kyungsoo can see the clumps of ruined flowers and plants strewn and crushed all over the floor. He goes in deeper and finds Jongin sitting somewhere at the back, behind the counter where there’s a lot less damage out of the tree’s reach.
He’s so focused on something that he doesn’t even notice Kyungsoo when he comes in. When he gets his attention, Jongin looks up, managing a small smile that doesn’t really reach his eyes. He already looks worn down and exhausted.
“The bouquets were ruined,” he says dully, looking back down at the fresh flowers he’s arranging in his hands and Kyungsoo’s heart drops for him. “I need to start again, I’ve still got a few hours before the delivery men come pick it up, maybe I can finish them again in time.”
Kyungsoo pulls up a chair beside him, and picks up a flower. These must have been stored in the back room, safely out of the way.
“Tell me what I can do to help.”
Jongin’s grateful smile reaches his eyes this time when he looks up at him.
He shows him how to pick out the flowers from the batches he’s got spread out, showing him how to arrange them in the right pattern of colour at the right height before binding them, tying them up neatly with the string and ribbon Jongin gives him.
Kyungsoo catches on easily, good with his hands and working on them deftly. Jongin is faster of course, tidier too, but he’s busy with constant incoming phone calls that he needs to deal with, balancing the phone between his neck and shoulder and constantly darting in and out of his chair to get to his record book by the counter. Kyungsoo can hear him apologizing repeatedly to clients on the phone about needing to cancel orders or postpone them, explaining the situation.
He looks more and more drained each time he drops back into his seat, reaching for another batch of flowers. There are a couple of walk-ins too, curious clients treading inside further upon seeing Jongin inside, asking what happened and Jongin has to repeat the story over and over until it sounds like his voice is going to crack.
Jongin works on redoing the arrangements that got caught in the wreckage too, letting Kyungsoo keep on going with the bouquets. It’s a huge order, stretching the workload over a few hours but Jongin is determined to get everything done on time. He slumps down on the table between them when they’re finally finished with all the orders, pillowing his head on his folded arms and closing his eyes.
“Fuck, I’m so tired,” he mumbles, his voice thick with exhaustion. The arrangements are all ready to be picked up but Jongin’s body sags further into his chair, and he seems to doze off almost immediately, too spent to stay awake.
Kyungsoo chuckles quietly, sitting back in his chair. There’s bound to be some paperwork that needs to be dealt with soon but Kyungsoo lets him be; it’s been one hell of a morning for him. He leans over to push a stray lock of hair away from Jongin’s face where it’s falling over his nose, tucking it behind his ear gently.
He hears a truck pull up outside a while later, right on time, and Kyungsoo immediately gets to his feet, stepping over the wreckage carefully to get outside and sees the delivery man staring at the destroyed front of the shop, perplexed. He doesn’t bother waking Jongin up, dealing with them himself and handing off the flowers and arrangements delicately before signing off the order himself. The delivery men look satisfied enough as long as the right order has been collected.
Kyungsoo needs to get back to his shop now with upcoming appointments coming soon, but he leaves a note for Jongin before he leaves. He almost doesn’t want to leave, but Kyungsoo pulls himself away, propping up the fallen ‘closed’ sign against the front wall where it had fallen, half buried under the mess.
Kyungsoo treats him to lunch the next day as Jongin tries to figure out what to do, despairing about not being able to rent out a new place until his shop is ready, but he can’t close down his business until then.
He bites his nails anxiously, barely touching his food and Kyungsoo munches pensively, frowning sympathetically.
“What if you just moved your things into my store for now?” he says, the idea hitting him suddenly. “There’s plenty of space, the front entrance room isn’t used for anything anyway since I do the tattoos in the back room.”
Jongin’s eyes widen, gawking at him, taken aback.
“I can’t do that!” he says incredulously, waving his palms up to turn down the offer. “I can’t just impose my business on yours like that.”
“You wouldn’t be imposing,” Kyungsoo insists, more convinced of his own idea now. “It’s only temporary anyway, and I’m offering.”
“It’ll only be a huge inconvenience to you,” Jongin presses, his eyebrows knitting into a frown.
“I can handle it. I want to help,” Kyungsoo says steadfastly. “You can cover half the rent if it makes you feel more comfortable. That’s a better deal than you’ll find anywhere else, and it’s close by.”
Jongin still looks doubtful though Kyungsoo can see his expression slip, looking tempted to give in in light of everything else.
“What other option do you have?” he says finally, delivering the final push Jongin needs to give in with a sigh and a grateful smile. He nudges Kyungsoo’s shoe under the table with his own, an extra touch to his thanks that Kyungsoo understands perfectly.
They get to work moving Jongin’s stuff into his shop the next morning, conveniently a Sunday meaning business is closed for the day. Jongin still has a lot of flowers that were stored in the back that he was able to salvage, so at least it wasn’t a complete loss, despite everything else on display being ruined. Kyungsoo tries to keep him from dwelling on them too long, pulling his attention away from the crushed pots and flowers with a steady hand on his elbow or a press of his palm on Jongin’s back. Keeping up a conversation helps even better, and it’s easy enough to get Jongin back into chatting animatedly while they move things in and out and clear the broken things away now that Jongin’s mind is occupied and focusing on Kyungsoo and the topic at hand.
It’s certainly not the inconvenience Jongin was afraid it would be, but it takes a lot more effort than anticipated to work around the new situation to find a comfortable routine for both of them. It’s a little tight for space, but Jongin does his best to keep his things out of the way, to clear a path to Kyungsoo’s counter and the back room. They put up a sign outside to direct customers over next door to Kyungsoo’s shop when they stop in front of Jongin’s door instead.
Jongin walks to work with Kyungsoo every day now since they’re headed to the same place and opening their business at the same time. They live in opposite directions, but Jongin is always waiting for him on the curb where they can meet midway, to walk the rest of the distance with him. It’s endearing how he’s always almost half asleep where he’s standing till Kyungsoo walks right up to him and shakes him awake to head into work.
“The flowers make this place feel a lot cosier,” Kyungsoo tells him one day, staring around at the tidy display of bouquets and flower pots Jongin has set up in his space of the shop. It smells a lot nicer in here too now that there’s the fresh scent of flowers hanging in the air all day.
“Your clients don’t think this is weird?” Jongin laughs, a little nervously. It’s been a few weeks since he moved in here but he’s still extremely self conscious about imposing on Kyungsoo’s business, trying to confine himself to a much smaller space than Kyungsoo had told him he was free to use.
Kyungsoo raises an eyebrow, snorting. “For people who are always getting crap for our creative choices, I hardly think they would find a flower vendor in here strange.”
He has noticed that Jongin’s been getting a lot less business since he moved in here though. It could, of course, be a misunderstanding, that his customers still aren’t aware that he’s still selling from in here and they’ve moved on to another shop or they’re waiting for him to reopen. Kyungsoo knows better though; the tattoo shop gives off a strong impression, not always the best one, and has definitely affected his client flow.
He starts to say something about it but Jongin immediately cuts him off this time.
“It’s not a loss,” he says firmly. “They’re not the kind of clients I would want anyway.”
Kyungsoo isn’t convinced but he appreciates the sentiment nonetheless. He eyes the peonies sitting on the bouquet rack and Jongin laughs, pulling the bouquet out and pushing it into Kyungsoo’s hands.
“You don’t need to buy my flowers anymore to draw,” he says brightly, urging him to take them. “Just take whichever ones you want since I’m already here anyway.”
Kyungsoo grins, pulling up a chair to his work table and setting the flowers down in front of him.
Most times, Jongin likes watching Kyungsoo draw, sitting beside him or across the table unobtrusively, watching the way Kyungsoo pens the lines down and shades in the shadowing and contouring of the images. It’s not just for the flowers but for the rest of his pieces too, the portraits and the objects he’s preparing for clients.
He says it’s fascinating watching the way his hand moves across the paper to make such perfect lines and images in a few strokes like it’s the easiest thing in the world. He almost sounds a little breathless in his awe, mesmerised by the drawing Kyungsoo’s working on of a large willow tree for a back piece later on.
“Do you draw?” Kyungsoo asks and Jongin laughs.
“I can only get through some animated characters,” he sighs woefully. “It’s only a little above your average stick man but it’s nowhere near what you can do.”
“You say that like you’re not an artist yourself,” Kyungsoo retorts, nodding his head at the fresh wreaths Jongin just put together that morning.
He’s asked Jongin to teach him how to make one himself, trying not to get thorns from the flower stems wedged into his fingers while Jongin laughs sympathetically. It’s a lot harder than it seems, trying to arrange the stalks together in the right pattern and holding them together to build on the shape.
It turns into a trade off eventually, Jongin teaching Kyungsoo how to design and make his own wreaths and Kyungsoo, in turn, guides him through some basic sketches.
“Maybe you can design the new sign for your store when it’s finished,” Kyungsoo comments when Jongin starts doodling a small flower on the side.
“Maybe,” Jongin hums, shading in the petals softly. “I’d much rather trust you with that.”
He peers up at Kyungsoo bashfully and Kyungsoo smiles, feeling a burst of warmth at Jongin’s faith in his skill with his subtle request.
“I’d love to,” he says, already knowing what flower Jongin would want on it.
It’s getting icy cold as they head deeper into winter, the temperature dropping so low now that Kyungsoo needs to turn the heat up higher inside the shop to keep his hands from shaking while he works. He’s reluctant to leave the shop at all now that he’s cosy inside, but the snow starts to pile up into a little mountain in front of his door and he needs to clear it away before they get completely snowed in.
Jongin is on the same wavelength, emerging moments later after him with a wooly beanie jammed on his head, drowning in a puffy jacket. Kyungsoo nearly digs the shovel into his own foot when he rams it down, distracted by how freaking adorable Jongin looks, his nose and cheeks all rosy from the cold.
“I can’t feel my nose,” he whines, sticking his own shovel into a mound of snow grumpily to move it aside.
Kyungsoo watches him try to rub some warmth back into his face with his gloved hands. He’d forgotten his own gloves, regretting everything now that he can’t even feel his own fingers at all where they’re curled around the handle of the shovel.
“Hey, I know a place that serves great hot chocolate, do you wanna go there when we’re done?” Jongin says suddenly.
Kyungsoo scoops up another giant mound of snow in his shovel and tosses it aside, picking up the pace so they can get out of the cold to go and do just that.
They push through the door of the cafe Jongin takes him to quickly, soaking in the warmth from the central heating. Someone comes to take their order, returning moments later with two hot chocolates and a large piece of chocolate cake to share between them.
“I’ve gotten a bit of a sweet tooth since I moved here because I hate coffee and the hot chocolate here is so good I just substitute the caffeine with chocolate,” Jongin admits, taking another bite of the cake.
Kyungsoo grins over the rim of his cup. “I do the same with tea. Hot chocolate is just so much better.”
“With two sugars,” they say at the same time, laughing.
“Excellent taste,” Jongin says, holding up his cup.
Kyungsoo obliges him, clinking their plastic cups together. Their fingers brush for a brief moment and Kyungsoo just catches the fleeting expression rushing across Jongin’s face before he pulls away. He brings the cup to his lips and Kyungsoo is left to wonder if the light pink dusting on his cheeks is just from the heat inside the shop.
The shop is finally refurbished a few weeks later. Kyungsoo watches Jongin talking to the contractor outside from his window, watching Jongin’s face light up, smiling in the way that’s been making Kyungsoo’s insides melt this whole time. He knows what’s coming before Jongin even says anything the second he steps back inside the shop.
“My shop is finally done!” he beams brightly. “You can finally get me out of your hair.”
Kyungsoo grins back just as brightly. Jongin’s smile is too infectious.
He doesn’t mention the way his stomach drops a little at the idea of him moving out again. After all, Jongin is only a few steps away next door; his time here was only ever meant to be temporary and brief. He’s gotten too used to the routine they’ve fallen into where he gets to see Jongin right beside him every day.
Kyungsoo’s glad Jongin’s shop is ready though, knowing how much it means to him that it’s finally back to normal.
So, he keeps smiling and offers to help Jongin move all his things back over from Kyungsoo’s shop to Jongin’s newly renovated place. It still smells faintly of fresh paint but Jongin waves a hand, saying the smell of the flowers will soon mask it anyway.
His afternoon is clear of any more appointments for the rest of the day and Kyungsoo closes up his shop to help Jongin set up at his place, helping him haul and unpack all his boxes and deals with all his flowers delicately.
“Feels like home again,” Jongin sighs, pleased as he looks around. There’s still a few boxes lying around that need to be cleared away but they push them aside to make space on the floor to sit down. Kyungsoo surprises him with a bottle of champagne and food to commemorate this celebratory shop-warming, as Jongin dubs it.
It’s already late by the time they’re done, way past closing time so they figure it’s okay to drink a little more than one glass, growing progressively more tipsy with every sip.
The alcohol burns Kyungsoo’s throat when he swallows it down, sighing as he feels his limbs growing lighter, tipping over, a little off balance. They’re sitting on the floor since Jongin hasn’t set up any tables yet, having put in an order for new ones earlier that day. His shoulder bumps into Jongin’s where they’re leaning back against Jongin’s new counter and Jongin giggles, just as inebriated. He reaches over, his hand patting him clumsily till he finds Kyungsoo’s knee properly and rests there, squeezing lightly.
“Thank you,” he murmurs quietly, his words only a little slurred as his head lolls around to face him. They’re sitting close enough that Kyungsoo can smell the alcohol on his breath like this. “For everything. It really meant a lot to me.”
Kyungsoo smiles, clasping his palm over the back of Jongin’s hand, sliding his thumb up and down along the back of his wrist.
“Anytime,” he murmurs, sliding a little closer, a little lower. Jongin is tall enough that Kyungsoo’s face is level with his shoulder and he lets himself drop, feeling the hard ball of Jongin’s clothed shoulder under his lips. It takes a bit of effort to straighten himself up again, his head spinning from the champagne, but he doesn’t miss the drowsy smile on Jongin’s face.
Kyungsoo’s phone vibrates in his pocket and he puts down his pencil from the sketch he’s working on to pull it out, turning on the screen to find a new message. It’s from Jongin.
It’s a picture file and Kyungsoo opens it up, a smile tugging at his lips when he sees the image. It’s a beautifully arranged vase of flowers, a myriad of blues and purples colouring the picture. Underneath, Jongin captioned it as ‘inspiration!’.
He smiles at the picture, saving it to his folders after a moment’s thought. He looks down at his half finished sketch and opens up his phone camera, snapping a picture of his work. He sends it to Jongin, typing ‘WIP’ right underneath it as he sends it.
Jongin sends back a line of exclamation marks and Kyungsoo laughs out loud, as if Jongin were right next to him, staring at him in awe again.
He sends him another picture later and Jongin answers with a terribly angled selfie of himself with a rather large bouquet of tulips. Kyungsoo is thoroughly and helplessly charmed.
Jongin sends him more the next day, noting little facts and details about the background of the flowers like it’s a story. It takes a moment for Kyungsoo to catch himself, mid sentence, relaying the exact same story to a client who is getting a flower done on their shoulder.
“You really know your stuff huh?” the client says, impressed.
“I know someone who does,” Kyungsoo smiles to himself, suddenly missing the array of colourful flowers that had been circling his shop only a week ago.
He sends the finished result of the flower tattoo to Jongin, beaming when Jongin showers him with an enthusiastic stream of emoji praise.
Jongin may not be around all the time now, but they still see each other almost as often as usual, like before Jongin’s shop was ruined. They head over for a snack during lunchtime and Jongin impulsively buys a bag of wrapped candy for after his proper lunch. It’s the kind that has those water applied tattoos wrapped inside the plastic of the candy and Jongin pops the sweet into his mouth, reaching over for Kyungsoo’s wrist. He finds an empty spot of skin where there aren’t any other tattoos and he sticks the fake tattoo on it, massaging it firmly so the image will stick properly. Kyungsoo laughs, watching him, holding his palm up and just touching Jongin’s skin as he presses his fingers into his skin.
It’s been a thing he’s noticed lately, the electrical jolt he feels when he brushes up too closely to Jongin, feeling the warmth of his skin directly on his own, resounding right down to his bones.
It happens again when he’s the one pressing his fingers into Jongin’s skin this time, idly drawing on his arm one day with coloured pens as though it’s a tattoo when they’re sitting in Jongin’s shop on a slow morning. It’s a flower, of course, because it’s fitting. He adds a lot more to the design, outlining a wreath like the one he’s seen Jongin selling from his shop before. It’s subtle but he pens in the tulip tucked somewhere between the leaves of the wreath but Jongin still sees it.
“A red tulip,” he murmurs quietly. Asserting affection. Of course, Jongin would know it. Kyungsoo had been banking on that when he looked it up for himself, swallowing through the tightness in his throat when he suddenly can’t find his words.
Jongin is looking at him intently, his eyes searching, with a meaningful, heated gaze, and Kyungsoo stares back, unwilling to break the spell. Kyungsoo’s done with the drawing but his hand lingers and Jongin doesn’t shake him off or retract his hand.
“You know, I’ve never actually gotten flowers from anyone,” Jongin says suddenly, looking down at the art with a small smile. “This is the first one.”
Kyungsoo feels his chest swell at that, pleased to hear it and finally pulls his hands away, feeling the loss of Jongin’s touch burning in the tips of his fingers.
It comes to him later at night when he’s back home, about to head in to take a shower. He pulls up a number on his phone, calling up a friend after a moment’s thought.
“Hey, Jongdae. I need a favour.”
“Seriously, where are we going?”
Jongin whines when Kyungsoo smacks his hands away from the blindfold covering his eyes again, urging him forward with a hand around his elbow to guide him in the right direction. He pushes the door open to the building and guides Jongin inside first with his hands on Jongin’s shoulders.
“You said no one’s ever given you flowers before,” Kyungsoo says quietly, pulling the knot loose on Jongin’s blindfold to let it slip off. His heart is in his throat as Jongin blinks the blurriness out of his eyes, his mouth dropping open a little when he takes in the sight in front of him.
It had taken a while to fill the entire pool with yellow flower petals but he managed enough for it to look pretty under the stark lights of the gym.
“My friend works here, he let me use it for the night,” Kyungsoo explains, trying to breathe through the thrumming in his chest. “The petals were already fallen, I swear I didn’t deliberately pluck a hundred flowers.”
Jongin finally breathes out a laugh of disbelief, scanning over the floating petals in the pool before turning to Kyungsoo with the brightest smile he’s ever seen stretched across his face.
“This is amazing,” he says breathlessly, the same awe in his voice that he usually holds for when he’s watching Kyungsoo draw. He’s staring at Kyungsoo with something akin to wonder and fondness and it makes Kyungsoo’s stomach turn over on itself.
“Care for a swim?” he says instead, tilting his head towards the pool. Jongin is already pulling his shirt off over his head.
The water is warm when they dive in, a welcome feeling when it’s still so chilly outside. Jongin can’t stop laughing, swimming through the floating petals and turning back to splash at Kyungsoo, their laughter echoing off the walls. Kyungsoo swims after him, grinning and splashing right back, catching up to him easily and dunking his head down underwater.
He corners Jongin back against the side of the pool, nearly about to box him in when Jongin suddenly grabs at his wrist and yanks him around, splashing loudly as he pushes Kyungsoo up against the wall instead.
Jongin is keeping afloat barely a few inches from him, and Kyungsoo tugs him in closer by the waist until he can feel Jongin’s chest pressed up against his own, leaving no space between them. His expression is wide open and tender, and it feels only natural for Kyungsoo to bring a hand up and push Jongin’s dripping hair out of his face, leaving his fingers buried there.
He meets Jongin in the middle, leaning forward to press their lips together with a soft sigh. Their lips slide wetly against each other, warm in the chill that’s starting to set in the water around them and Kyungsoo can’t get enough, holding on to Jongin’s shoulders to press him in closer so that he doesn’t drift away.
Jongin coaxes his lips open with a slide of his tongue, licking inside to deepen the kiss, and Kyungsoo’s entire body is on fire even in the cold, palming the back of Jongin’s neck softly. He tilts his head, feeling the tip of Jongin’s nose pressing into his cheek as his tongue flicks along the roof of his mouth. He can feel Jongin’s fingers sliding up along his side, smoothing across his neck, tracing over his tattoos freely this time like he still can’t get enough of this either even as he’s making out with him. Kyungsoo can almost feel Jongin’s heart thundering against his own.
They only break off when Jongin suddenly shivers so violently, Kyungsoo can feel it through the kiss and they dissolve into laughter, clambering out of the pool quickly to dart into the locker rooms around back.
Kyungsoo grabs a towel for himself and Jongin does the same patting himself dry before pulling the towel over his head. He sits down on the bench, toweling his hair and Kyungsoo takes the spot beside him, sitting down facing him. He pulls Jongin’s hands away from the towel, tilting his head up with a finger under his chin and reels him in by the ends of the towel to kiss him again. Jongin melts right into it with a low groan, shifting closer and Kyungsoo can feel the heat burning from Jongin’s cheeks, and the tickle of his fingers tracing up along his thighs.
He’s the one to pull away first this time, dropping his forehead against Jongin’s with a sigh.
“What?” Jongin breathes, trying to kiss him again and Kyungsoo laughs, indulging him one more time and pulling away quickly before he gets completely absorbed in kissing Jongin again.
“I actually need to clean all that up now,” he says, tipping his chin towards the pull outside the locker room and Jongin groans, dropping his head forward onto Kyungsoo’s shoulder.
“The sooner we get it done, the sooner we can get back to this, right?” Jongin says hopefully.
“Right,” Kyungsoo chuckles, giving the back of Jongin’s neck a light squeeze, his heart twice its size in his chest yet it’s never felt lighter.
“Ow, fuck, okay wait, hang on-”
“Jongin I haven’t even touched you yet,” Kyungsoo laughs, holding the ink gun away from Jongin’s arm so he can see it.
“Oh. Right, okay but, just-”
Kyungsoo leans in to kiss the nerves out of him, pressing their lips together until he can feel the way Jongin melts, shoulders finally slumping and his body going a little more lax. He looks dazed when Kyungsoo pulls back, and Kyungsoo himself feels pretty breathless, giddy that he can just lean over and do this now whenever he wants.
Jongin had decided to get a small tattoo of a flower; a yellow tulip, his favourite. Jongin had explained to him earlier that’s it’s the flower for cheerful thoughts and happiness; if he has to have something on his skin forever, this is the perfect thing to have.
It doesn’t take too long since it’s such a small piece. He kisses Jongin’s shoulder when he’s done, chuckling when Jongin sags against his seat that the ordeal is finally over.
“Guess I have a piece of you on me now,” Jongin hums, pleased as he admires the art in the mirror.
“You could have a lot more of me on you,” Kyungsoo says simply, turning away to sterilize the ink gun. He doesn’t wait long, feeling Jongin’s arms winding around his waist seconds later and Jongin’s lips on his neck from behind.
“I think I’ll take you up on that,” he beams, and as much as Kyungsoo loves looking at his smile, he loves getting to kiss it off his face even more.