Chapter 12: Dog Rose
The day that Sascha returned to work, Evan had planned to visit the flower shop in the morning and maybe convince the florist to have breakfast with him before work at one of the surrounding restaurants. His plan, however, was ruined when he woke up late enough that he barely had time to even get to work. Evan sighed in disappointment as he drove by Sascha's shop, knowing he'd have to wait until after work to see the florist.
Work was dull that day, or maybe it was just because everyone was looking a bit down. Evan blamed it on the weather, because it was raining and it was dark and dreary, making it seem later than it was. By lunch time, Evan was ready to get out, because it felt like he'd been there for days and his mind kept going back to Sascha.
"Where are you going?" Drew asked his friend as he watched Evan put on his coat.
"I don't know about you, but I'm taking full advantage of my lunch hour," the man told his friend as they walked to the elevator, because Drew had decided he was too lazy to leave the building and would be buying lunch from one of the places on the first floor.
"Oh really, and where are you having lunch today?" Drew didn't have to think very hard to come up with an answer, especially when Evan started straightening his hair using the reflective metal elevator doors as a mirror.
"Just around," Evan shrugged, straightening his tie.
"Would a certain florist be involved?" the other man asked, trying not to smirk as Evan's cheeks turned pink.
"You think you're so smart," he snapped with a glare, stepping out of the elevator. Drew snickered as he watched his friend walk off.
Evan grumbled all the way to his car about stupid co-workers and know-it-all friends, but became a lot more cheerful when he finally arrived at Sascha's flower shop. The shop was as warm and welcoming as always and as soon as he walked in Sascha looked over at him and smiled brightly, making him smile in return. The florist looked better than usual, but that was probably because it had been so long since Evan had seen him.
"Evan, this is a surprise, you don't usually come at this time," Sascha said.
"Yeah, well, I wanted to stop by earlier, but I was running late for work," he began. "So, I decided to stop by during my lunch hour," he finished with a grin. Sascha sighed and shook his head, but he was still smiling.
"You really shouldn't waste your lunch hour," he told the man.
"I'm not wasting it, I really wanted to see you," Evan hurried to say. "By the way, you look nice," he told the florist with what he considered his most charming smile. Sascha's cheeks grew red as soon as the words left Evan's mouth.
"Thank you, um, so, aren't you going to go eat lunch?" Sascha asked, looking a bit flustered. Evan tried not to laugh, but it was always funny to see the florist like that.
"I hope you're not kicking me out after I came all this way just to see you," he said, with mock hurt.
"Oh, no, I just thought, uh, never mind," Sascha said, looking down at the counter. Evan's smile widened a bit as he leaned forward, just inches away from Sascha's face.
"So, want to go out for lunch with me?" he asked, staring at the florist's pink lips and doing his best to keep his mind from wandering.
"Lunch? I don't know," Sascha started.
"Come on, I'll buy, we'll go wherever you want," Evan tried. "Please Sascha, we can just talk for a bit, have a nice warm meal and then I'll bring you back, how about it?"
Sascha hesitated, clearly thinking about the offer. He looked at Evan for a moment, biting his lip before nodding.
"Okay, I guess I can close the shop for a bit," he accepted in the end.
Minutes later, Sascha was sitting in Evan's car, feeling nervous for reasons he couldn't quite understand. It wasn't the first time he went out with Evan, and it certainly wasn't the first time he was alone with the man, so he didn't really know why he couldn't stop fidgeting. Evan didn't say anything about it though, still smiling as he drove to a little restaurant that he knew served good food. It wasn't very crowded when they walked in, and they didn't take long to order after being seated. The place was nice, small but cozy yet still holding a modern sort of look.
"This is a nice place," Sascha commented, sipping the tea he had just been brought.
"Yeah, Adam recommended it," Evan said. "So, how was Thanksgiving with your family?"
"It was good, we just did the usual stuff so there isn't much to tell. My brother was asking about you though, so that wasn't very fun," Sascha told Evan with an accusing stare, but the man just laughed.
"I hope you didn't tell him anything bad about me," he said. "I really do try to be on my best behavior with you, and that's harder than you think," Evan added with a playful tone, his eyes staring straight into Sascha's until the florist looked down at the cup in front of him. He was startled when the waiter showed up with their food, his face still pink, but still smiled at the young man.
"Thank you," he said cheerfully, and Evan couldn't say he liked the way the waiter was looking at Sascha.
"So, how did you spend Thanksgiving?" Sascha asked, and Evan stopped glaring at the waiter's retreating back.
"It was fine, I went to my parents house and spend the day there," he said with a shrug, turning to his food.
"That sounds nice. Who cooked, your brother or your mother?" the florist asked curiously.
"My mom, she won't let Adam into her kitchen ever since he became a better cook than her," Evan said with a grin as Sascha laughed. "Can you cook?" he asked the florist.
"Hmm, a little, but only because I live on my own so I have to cook for myself," he said. "And you, Evan?" honestly, Sascha couldn't see Evan cooking, but then again, the man's brother was a very skilled chef.
"I learned a few things from my brother," Evan said, before giving Sascha a sly look. "Maybe I can make dinner for the two of us one day to show you," and Sascha just sighed and shook his head.
"You're so persistent, Evan," he said.
"What can I say, I've never been one to give up. Besides, sometimes the most difficult things in life are the best," he grinned.
They finished their food soon after and Evan insisted on paying the bill. Sascha just let him because he knew there was no arguing with the man. He excused himself to go to the restroom before they left and Evan stood by the exit to wait, thinking it had been a pretty good lunch break after all. Certainly better than spending it with Drew.
"Oh, Excuse me," Evan looked to the side where two young women had just entered, nearly bumping into him.
"Sorry, didn't mean to get in the way," he apologized.
"No, it's fine, are you waiting to be seated?" asked the shorter of the two. They were both very pretty, with dark hair, though the one speaking to Evan had it cut short. From the way they dressed, he guessed they worked in the area, in one of the office buildings.
"Actually I was just leaving," he told them, thinking that, if things were different, he'd probably be asking for the girl's phone number.
"Lunch break's nearly over then," said the woman with short hair, smiling.
"Pretty much," Evan laughed.
"We just took a late break today," said the other woman.
Evan couldn't help but think that, normally, he'd suggest that they take a break at the same time and meet up(and he would probably drag Drew along).
"This place looked nice, so we thought to try it out," the woman continued.
"It's a really good place, I'd definitely recommend it," he told them.
"Oh, do you eat here a lot?" the woman with short hair asked.
"No, not really," and he saw Sascha approaching and for reasons he didn't quite understand, began to panic. "Excuse me, but I have to go now," he said, and smiled at Sascha even as the florist gave him an odd look.
"Ready to go?" he asked the florist, who just nodded. Evan opened the door for Sascha, listening to the women chatting behind them. Sascha didn't say anything as Evan took him back to the flower shop, and Evan couldn't stop fidgeting, his fingers tapping the steering wheel and his gaze flicking over to the florist constantly.
"Sascha, listen, about those women," he started after a while, tired of the silence and guessing that the florist was upset with him. "We were just chatting about the restaurant, that's all," he explained, but Sascha just looked at him oddly, almost confused, before he realized what Evan was thinking.
"Evan, you didn't think I was upset at you for talking to them, were you?" he asked.
"Well, I mean, you weren't really talking to me, so I thought maybe you were jealous, or something," the man said, eyes focused on the road. Sascha tried not to laugh, but he couldn't help but look amused.
"Sorry, I was just thinking about work," he told the man. "But you know, there really isn't anything for me to be jealous about. We're not dating, Evan, and I already know you like women. It would be silly of me to be mad at you every time you speak to a woman when chances are, you'll end up dating one sometime soon," Sascha said calmly, and Evan couldn't deny that it bothered him, to know that Sascha cared so little about what he did. He couldn't let him know that though.
"I won't," he declared, tone determined. "I won't date anyone else but you Sascha," Evan insisted, parking in front of the flower shop. "I don't want anyone else but you," he looked straight at the florist, who just stared back at him in surprise. After a moment, Sascha looked away with a frown.
"You should get back to work," he said, slipping out of the car before Evan could say anything else. He didn't look back as he entered his shop, the door shutting behind him, and Evan could do nothing but do as the florist said and drive back to work.
For the rest of the day, he couldn't stop thinking about Sascha, and about the way he had been so easily dismissed. Evan had never expected it to be so hard, to love someone and know that they cared for you in return, but just didn't want you. It was confusing and something he hadn't thought possible and more than anything else, it hurt, but he was determined to endure it for Sascha. Idly, he though of how his meetings with Sascha were always somehow bittersweet, because as much as he enjoyed them, they usually ended on a bad note.
"You really like to punish yourself," Drew commented later in the day, after Evan told him he'd be going to see Sascha after work.
"What do you mean?" he asked, glancing at his watch. It was later than usual, but work had been busy lately and at the very least, there was still time for him to see Sascha.
"The guy keeps rejecting you, but you just won't give up. I don't get it," his friend said.
"That's just because you're stupid," Evan shot back. "I want Sascha, so I'll keep going to see him until he gives in," he said simply. It was a lot harder than it sounded, at least to Evan, because it was difficult to be around the florist, to talk to him and have him be so kind, only to be rejected time and time again.
"Well, you have fun with that," Drew said, waving at his friend before heading off to his car. Evan waved him off before setting off as well.
The flower shop looked brighter than usual, maybe because the colorful flowers and plants inside were visible from afar, the lights illuminating them for all to see. Already it was dark, partly because of the weather, and the vibrant sight of the shop was pleasant, even if Evan couldn't really be sure how things would go. He was almost certain Sascha was upset with him after what happened at lunch, though he wished the man wouldn't be so bothered every time Evan declared his feelings for him. Sascha was alone when Evan arrived, he had probably sent Jason home early before it got too dark. He was glad for that, it was easier to talk to Sascha without the teenager around.
"Hey, Sascha," he greeted, standing in front of the florist sitting behind the counter.
"Hello, Evan, I didn't think you'd come so late," Sascha commented, working on a wreath. He offered Evan a small smile and a brief glance.
"I've come to see you even later than this," Evan pointed out. "Besides, I wanted to talk to you about what happened earlier," he started.
"Evan, there's really nothing to talk about," the florist cut him off, sliding off his stool with the finished wreath. "By the way, thanks for lunch, I hope you weren't late for work," he said, placing the garland on a new holiday display.
"Sascha, listen," Evan tried again. "I know you hate to hear me say it, but those things I told you earlier, I meant them, and I'm not going to stop," the man finished. The florist sighed, exasperated, mouth set in a frown and arms crossed over his chest.
"I really don't understand you," he finally said. "I just don't understand why you just won't give up. I'm not that special," he told the man.
"Yes you are, you're great," Evan insisted. "Sascha, you're the nicest person I've ever met, and you're smart and funny-"
"And not a woman so why do you keep trying?" Sascha cut him off.
"Because I want you," Evan insisted.
"You're very nice Evan, but it just wouldn't work out," Sascha told him, moving back behind the counter and starting to pick up the tools he'd used while working on the wreath. "What if you want a family someday? What if you wake up one day and realize you prefer women after all?" he didn't look at Evan as he spoke, and that was how Evan knew how much those things bothered Sascha.
"Honestly, I hate kids, or maybe it's more like I can't deal with them, so the whole family thing isn't something I care about," Evan said with a shrug. "And maybe it's true that I usually prefer women, but I like you enough that I don't really care that you're a man," he continued, leaning closer the the florist.
"Then what if you just get tired of me?" Sascha asked, and this time he was looking straight at Evan, and he could see that it was a thought that made Sascha uneasy. Being abandoned by the person he loved had been something that Sascha had already experienced, and it was clear that the florist didn't want to feel that pain again.
"I won't," Evan reassured him, sliding his hand over Sascha's. "I'll never get tired of you, I promise," he said as sincerely as he could. He watched as Sascha seemed to hesitate, his resolve wavering, cheeks red and eyes fixed on the counter. Evan leaned closer, just an inch away from the florist's face, so close to being able to feel those soft lips again.
And then Sascha pulled his hand away, taking a step back with a bitter smile, crossing his arms once more..
"Men always make the sweetest promises," he said. "But the trouble is they never keep them," he picked up the rest of his tools and moved towards the door to the back.
"You should give up on me, Evan. You're a sweet man, I'm sure you can find someone else," he said and then walked through the door.
Evan didn't stay after that, he knew Sascha didn't want him around anymore, so there was no use in staying. Sascha heard him leave, standing just on the other side of the door, the sound of the bell chiming as the door opened and closed muffled. His heart was beating wildly, the sound of it pounding in his ears, his body hot and his hand still warm from the man's touch, still tingling from the sensation. He screwed his eyes shut, trying to get rid of the feelings Evan brought on, just by being so close. To hear him say he wanted Sascha, that he'd always want him, it hurt, because Sascha knew better than to believe him. The florist wiped his eyes with his sleeve and took another minute to compose himself before stepping back through the door and into the front of the shop, ready to finish his work and get home.
Well, this chapter ended up being a bit shorter than I had expected for a few reasons. One, I couldn't work on this for as long as usual because it's the weekend and weekends are busy, and I only really managed to get this done because I started it immediately after finishing the last chapter from my other story. The other big reason is, I had planned to have something else happen in this chapter, but I kept editing and adding stuff, so if I wrote it out this chapter would end up too long, and I probably wouldn't have finished it by tonight. Still, it hit the three-thousand word minimum, so I'm happy with it, and I hope you're okay with missing a couple hundred words or so.
Anyway, thank you all for reading and thanks a bunch for all the awesome reviews and adds, they really make my day. I hope you've all liked this and that you continue to enjoy the story. As always, please review if you get the chance and again, thank you for reading!