The rarity of the flowers that appear is dependant on how valuable the object
His heart stuttered in his chest and, depressingly familiar with the signs, he immediately flings his controller
Guk watches helplessly as, mid-trajectory, his controller (the second one that month) explodes into a bouquet of fragrant purple petals.
"Goddamnit," he curses. He stomps over and gathers up the from orchids floor, resigned.
Guk doesn't wake up at the crack of dawn to head down to the markets like most florists do.
He makes up for his later morning by putting in most of his work the night before. At night, Guk wanders the town collecting any little
He picks up the newspapers that have been left behind on park benches, a red ribbon that had been used to wrap a gift, lost earrings from the sidewalk and then carefully lines the items up on the counter inside the shop.
Sometimes, he thinks of lazy afternoons on the couch where he's
Sometimes, he remembers the way Tae's eyelashes create inky shadows high on his cheekbones when throws his head back and laughs, loud and unabashed, on Guk's balcony and the light from the sunset hits them just right.
"It feels a little like I'm being cheated," Jimin, the one in charge of
"Maybe," Guk hums, small smile caught in the soft curve of his lips because he's still basking in the remembered comfort of Tae's gentle fingers
When he continues, his voice comes out a little thicker because he's also thinking of how the fingers never touch him like he really wants them to. They have never trailed down his skin with dark, possessive intent and it makes his own hands shake.
On his more fanciful days, Guk likes to think that the world is trying to give him a small measure of comfort through manifesting the constant, heavy longing in his gut into something so gentle.
The flowers that bloom from
For some, their emotions manifest as small daisies, or fragile dandelions that fall apart with the wind.
On the days where he feels like his emotions are suffocating him, he looks at the strong, vibrant flowers that those emotions have created takes a strange pride in that.
He's sat with a woman of approximately the same age and they're hunched together, looking at an image on the woman's phone. When Guk gets
"Guk!" Tae greets, beaming at him. Guk clutches tighter at the bouquet in his hands and hopes that it is too dark for anyone to notice the way the
"Guk, meet Choi Jia, Choi Jia, Jeon Jeongguk," Tae introduces, "Guk is one of my oldest friends."
He and the woman bow at each other, make a little small talk, and Guk excuses himself to go complete his delivery.
Jeongguk thinks he would've forgotten about the encounter completely, if it weren't for the letter that came in the mail about a month later.
Tae is there in the mornings, popping by
"Tell me your secret," Tae demands every day after he finishes watching
'Maybe one day,' Guk would always laugh off in reply, but tonight, there is something in the air that makes him feel brave.
Tonight also marks the start of the 7th year since the day Guk had conjured up his first flower,
It's been a month from the day that he'd run into Tae at the park, and they have been spending every day in each other's company since.
So tonight at Tae's question, Guk takes a deep breath and says,
Tae is radiant for the rest of the evening, almost bouncing off the walls with his excitement at getting to learn yet another one of Guk's secrets, and Guk is forced to send him home because the older man is making himself
"No take backs," Tae says, popping his head back into the shop, "we did the handshake, so you can't change your mind tomorrow."
Guk rolls his eyes, presses down at the crown of Tae's head to shove him back out.
After he laughingly closes the door
Inexplicably, at the sight, a sense of dread floods his veins and his blood runs cold. Guk picks up
The first thing he sees is the bright gold embossing that has been stamped to the top. With trembling hands he pulls the paper inside it up a little bit more.
The letters on the page scramble in front of his eyes, not making sense and
The paper that was inside it twists into dark roses whose thorns scratch at his hands. Blood wells up from the cuts.
Before disappearing completely, the gold lettering glitters at him again. Jeongguk closes his eyes so he won't have to read them, but it doesn't make a difference.
He takes a pair of scissors to the calla lilies, cuts the heads clean off the
How could Tae have not told him? How could he have been so blind?
Guk's chest feels like an open wound and he digs his fingernails into the fragile petals of the deep red roses,
At the end of the night, throat raw, Guk picks himself up from the floor and gathers the broken pieces of his shop back together.
/Taehyung/, his heart beats when he sweeps up
/Taehyung/, it calls again when he straightens out the tools that have been strewn across the floor.
"Tae," he breathes as he runs his fingertips up the broken stems. They straighten back out and then bloom, full and radiant.
He covers his face with his hands and, finally, he lets himself cry.
He gets to the shop early, clears his mind and waits.
At 8, Tae pops in with two breakfast sandwiches in hand. The sight of him makes Guk's heart creak in his chest and for the first time, flowers bloom in the open and Guk is too slow to hide them.
And Guk wants to tell him. A dark part of him wants to spill his every emotion and see if he can hurt
Guk licks his lips and takes a breath.
A pain in his hand brings him back to his senses and when he looks down, he sees
"I had a Goblin marathon last night," Guk lies instead because he knows that Tae cannot be blamed for this.
It had been Guk's own choice to love him in silence. He had hidden behind his own cowardice, had
Tae makes a face like he doesn't believe him, and his eyes say that he's only letting the subject drop because Guk is asking him to.
To distract him,
"I told you I'd show you the secret to my flowers today right?" he asks and before Tae can answer, Guk looks into Tae's eyes as gives him a small smile.
"Wow," Tae gasps, stepping closer to run his fingers over the petals. "But this means..Guk! You never told me you've had a crush on someone, you dog. I thought we were friends."
"Oh," Tae slumps, eyes alight with sympathy, "I'm sorry Gukkie."
Guk sees the way Tae's eyes cast about the room, trying to look
"I wanted to talk to you about this today actually," the other man says,
"I was going to ask you to do the flowers for the wedding. I mean, you don't have to," he adds, scratching a little behind his ear like he always does when he's nervous.
"But you're my best friend and well," Tae continues, "noone is as good with flowers as you."
Guk's first instinct is to say no. That he can't imagine anything that he wants to do less.
"Of course I'll do it," he croaks out.
He tells himself he'll give himself this last bit of selfishness before he lets go
He takes the envelope from Tae's hands & thinks of the time, five years ago now, when Tae had driven through the night to come see him after Guk had told him he was missed.
"You must love this person very much," Tae observes. His voice is quiet, almost reverent.
"Yes," Jeongguk agrees in the same tone, "I do."
Now, Guk gets up a little earlier in the morning and he stocks up by going to the flower market across town and by ordering more flowers to be delivered.
There is still a special display of the rarer flowers, of course. He doesn't think he'll be able to escape
Tae still stops by in the mornings and most evenings after work, but now, when he does, he looks at Guk's dwindling rare flower display and makes a face like he is hurting.
"Are you sure
"I want to do this," Guk insists when he does, "it's something that I need to do."
There's also darkness inside him that he can't fully quash and sometimes, in
Sometimes, that darkness makes him prod for cracks, sharp claws scratching at the surface, just to see if anything will give.
Tae had shaken his head at the admission,
"I want to make the first centrepiece a surprise," Guk concludes, detailing the final comments from Tae on the
Tae hums his agreement, "of course Guk, I trust you. The flowers you create are always so -" he breaks himself off, gives a sheepish smile and then continues. "God...I really hate that I still find them so
"But the way you look when you create them, Guk. I'm going to sound crazy, but some days, I walk out of here and I can't get it out of my mind."
The arrangement for the guests' tables will be filled with blossoms made
These blooms, Guk knows, will be made of blush & cream. Soft, delicate and bursting at the seams with all the words he will never get to say. Until the very last moment he is allowed, he wants Tae to be
But after the vows, Guk knows that there will no longer be a place for his flowers. So when Tae finishes saying the words that will bind him and Jia together,
Standing in front of his bathroom mirror, Guk pastes on a wide smile.
He will need to be able to look Jia in the eye when he hands to her the bouquet in three weeks time, and he knows that he will need every
It is unfortunate then, that Jeongguk ends seeing her much, much earlier than that.
(He'd tell himself his insomnia has nothing to do with
Then, he sees her. They had only met for that one brief moment, but Jia's image is now burnt into the very core of him. He knows he's not mistaken.
Sickeningly, the first emotion that Guk feels is the heady rush of joy. His heart leaps out of his chest and his hands shake from the rush of endorphins suddenly pumping through his system. The grass beneath his palms
Then, Guk realises the reality that he is so happy for, and is immediately swamped with self loathing. His mind fills with images of the quietly content expression on Tae's face whenever they work on the designs in the shop, the excitement in his eyes
Guk stumbles his way to his feet. His body flushes hot, then cold then hot again.
Jeongguk barely makes it into a side street before he falls to his knees and is messily sick all over the pavement.
The fact that Tae has been absent for an out of town project for most of the
Most nights, he sits in his bed barely able to breathe from how the weight of the new
Those are the nights where he is happy.
Some nights, he
Those nights, like a compulsion he can't shake, Guk sits and weaves flowers
He has always taken a quiet pride in the strength of his blooms, but
There is a poison running through his veins now, so Guk knows that it is only a matter of time.
There are only two reasons that can explain
The first is when the person's feelings have grown into something that has strayed too far from an emotion as gentle as love.
The second is too much for Guk to bear.
It withers to dust and slips through his fingers, like sand.
They're both in Guk's room, Tae had called him up the second he'd returned and told him he'd wanted for
Guk's had been changing the whole design for the first set of flowers (the ones he had originally planned to create with their memories) because he can no longer touch the flowers that he had transformed without them disappearing.
He know that the ache in his
His affections are monstrous now. Selfish & full of possessive intent. He /wants/ Tae to stop the marriage, he's realised, wants him to be so hurt he doesn't give Jia a single chance for reconciliation.
So he says, "I saw
"What?" he breathes. "Guk, are you telling me what I think you are telling me?"
"I'm sorry Tae," Guk says, knees threatening to give out. He staggers backwards and sits on his bed. "I'm so sorry," he repeats.
Guk is scared of this new side of himself that claws at his heart and feels satisfaction for what had happened. It shouts that he could love Tae
Guk feels like he's rotting from the inside, and the grey dust that sometimes coats his fingers proves it. He clutches desperately at the bedclothes, wishes for anything, the barest hint of
"Guk," Tae says, kneeling on the floor at Guk's feet so that he can look the younger man in the eye. He pries Guk's hands off the bedclothes and soothes and the bloody
Tae's face is white with shock, but he looks grimly determined.
"I want you to tell me everything about what you saw, but this time, I'm going to need you to start from the beginning."
Then, mystifyingly, Tae starts to laugh.
Tae shakes his head, laughs louder still and says, "I can't wait to tell him you forgot his face, he's going to piss himself laughing
"What?" Guk breathes because nothing makes sense. Jihun? Tae's brother? "But, it was an invitation from you. For you and her," he joins in on Tae's laughter, but his own is pitched high with hysteria.
At the sound of it, Tae abruptly sobers. He stands up, crowds a
"Hey," Tae says, trailing the fingers of his free hand down the curve of Guk's ear, "hey, no, Guk. What's all this? Tell me what's
"What's going on?" he shakes, " I don't understand."
"The invitation was sent from our families, Guk," Tae explains, then he continues, hesitant, "are you sure you read the whole thing?"
"Of course I — " he didn't, he suddenly realises, lightheaded from how
He can't believe he had just glimpsed at the two family names before the invitation had disappeared and never questioned it. Can't believe he had forgotten the possibility of Tae's whole /brother/.
Guk thinks that he should probably be embarrassed.
"But you were in charge of all the decor," Guk insists, numb. Because, surely, this comedy of errors cannot be real.
"I'm the in designer
"She's not cheating on you," Guk says into Tae's stomach, he feels like he's in a dream.
"No, Gukkie," Tae reassures, "Jia isn't cheating on anyone."
Tae moves back and Guk makes a protesting noise & he clutches at the
"She's going to be Jihun-hyung's wife," confirms and then he sighs, "you always were the type to bottle things up inside. When I noticed that there was something wrong,
Tae reaches into his own pocket and drops a handkerchief into Guk's hands. He brings his own palms together and, because Guk's own are resting between them, they close on the thin piece of cloth.
"I actually came to talk to you about something
"No," Guk insists, he's still a little numb from all the revelations of the night but, "tell me". Distantly, he wonders if the revelation he's just had might bring back his flowers.
Guk startles. Licks his lips, "I," he starts and then looks at the cloth in his hands.
Guk's eyes drop to their intertwined hands and the handkerchief stares back at him, dull and unchanged.
He thinks that he would've been happy with even that, but when he looks down, his hands are empty.
The irony of the situation might just kill him. Running away from the possible consequences of confessing had lead him to what he had thought would be
Tae puts a finger to Guk's chin and uses it to tilt his head up so
"There are only two reasons for why flowers would stop blooming Guk," Tae states, "which one is yours?"
His voice is soft, and his eyes are sad.
"Flowers will stop blooming," Guk whispers, softly, reluctantly, "flowers will stop
If only, Guk thinks, if only he had been braver.
If only, Guk thinks, if only he had tried sooner then maybe this moment would be different.
But, despite how he knows it's too late, he won't run away
This time, even if after he opens himself up and Tae catches sight of the parts of him that aren't so beautiful, it will have to be okay because Guk knows now that there is nothing to be gained from hiding.
"There were moments over the past few weeks where I wished for the most horrible things," Guk admits, eyes downcast and ashamed. "And even now that the flowers are gone," he swallows, "even though you must know that I thought things terrible
Guk takes another breath. Outside, the sun sets and for a moment, Tae is bathed in its soft golden light. Guk's heart trembles in his chest and then he is sure.
He knows this feeling, knows all its curves and
"Because Tae," he pushes again when Tae is silent, "the lore must be wrong this time. I know it"
"Oh Guk," the older man sighs, shaking his head a coming closer, "do you know why I came to
"No," Guk whispers back, barely breathing at the look in the other man's eyes.
"For the past few months, I've been watching my best friend create flowers with his hands," Tae starts, and his voice is a warm caress. "I didn't know who it was
"But I was thinking of you Tae," Guk whispers, "every single flower I've ever made, I made them all for you."
Tae cups Guk's cheek with one of his hands, runs his thumb down Guk's
"But last week, when I was away, I realised that I haven't been able to get you out my head because I kept wishing that you would look like that when you looked my way. And I kept waiting for the flowers to appear, but
Sliding a hand to the back of his neck, Tae reels the younger man in and Guk comes easily, Tae's words ringing inside him.
Pressing his lips to the shell of Guk's ear, Tae whispers like a terrible secret,
He turns his head, drags the soft of his lips down Tae's cheek. Guk pauses at the corner of Tae's mouth, closes his eyes and breathes in the heat from the other man's skin.
"Flowers also stop blooming after the one that is loved, falls in love and realises that they're actually loving someone back," Tae breathes, turning his head just that little bit more. "The original blooms die out when the love is no longer
"I've fallen in love with you Guk," Tae whispers, pressing his lips to a corner of Guk's mouth like he can't help himself and Jeongguk lets out a small, desperate noise.
"Please tell me I'm not too late," Tae whispers again, pressing his lips to the other corner,
"I —" Guk wobbles, finally breaking. He can't get the words out, his throat is so tight, so he closes final breath of space between them and presses his answer into Tae's mouth.
When Tae presses back, Guk tangles them together and
"Do you miss being able to make flowers?" Tae wonders out loud a few months down the road. They're laying side by side in Guk's bed.
"No," Guk answers. Then he smiles, "besides, I can still make them, anytime
To prove his point, Guk pushes himself up to sitting. Then, he moves so that his knees are on either side of the man below him. He remembers how
Tae follows his every movement like a sunflower to the sun.
Jeongguk leans down and presses their lips together.
Tae pushes himself up off the mattress, presses Jeongguk back into the warm heat his body had left behind. Jeongguk arches into him and runs
He slides his hands into Tae's shirt and at the first touch of skin to skin, they groan into the contact.
When they part, they're both a little breathless. Jeongguk noses at Tae's hair, presses himself up again to grind their hips together.
Jeongguk runs his fingertips up Tae's neck, pushes his face into the dip of the other man's collarbone and breathes in the way the other man's scent has darkened into black orchids and spice.
He prefers these flowers much better.
[Surrender - Natalie Taylor]