“I heard the engine rattling when I was going down Sheffield.”
Arthur glanced up at the taller man while his fingers found the switch to pop the hood. He pocketed the keys to the vehicle and moved around to the front of the car, pulling the cover up and locking it into place. “There’s a lot of gravel along that road, Mr. Pepper. You sure you weren’t hearing some getting kicked up by the tires?”
The taller man shook his head quickly, his magenta hair swishing slightly with the movement. “No- no. I’m sure it wasn’t just that. B-but maybe the gravel knocked something …loose?” The taller man trailed off and tugged gently at the collar of his ascot.
Arthur hid his grin as he leaned into the car. The poor guy was really reaching now.
Arthur shifted around a bit, but his eyes weren’t on what his hands were doing. He wasn’t stupid. Mr. Pepper had brought his car in eleven times in the last month, and on every occasion, Arthur had looked at it. He knew the car had been fixed the first time: he didn’t do anything halfway, or his uncle would kill him (or at least bean a wrench or two at him). He knew for a fact that the car was in perfect working order.
Which meant that the other man was here for something else.
Arthur watched the other man out of the corner of his eyes as he feigned work. The guy was definitely handsome, built with broad shoulders and muscles. His skin was that really nice mixed tone too; it was a light teak color that a lot of people would kill to have. And he definitely had good, if a little outdated, taste in clothing. Not that looks really meant anything to the mechanic, but he had to admit that this guy was definitely pleasing to the eye.
What really struck him though, was the man’s face. He really loved eyes, and Mr. Pepper’s were soft and warm, the irises a violety color that really just shimmered with life. His nose was a touch too big, and there was a slight crook in it as if it had been broken before, but it really fit him. And he had seen the guy smile a few times: he had one of those grins that melted the heart of every person in a twenty foot radius. It was amazing to see.
Honestly, as much as he wished it, there was no way that this guy would be here just to see-
Arthur knew he would’ve missed it if he hadn’t been looking at the other man so intently. Almost subtly, the guy had turned his gaze away from the car, towards the mechanic’s…posterior.
…BUT maybe the client was just looking in that direction. There was no way this- this unbelievably attractive man was checking him out.
Experimentally, Arthur shifted, flexing his lower back slightly higher as he leaned in further underneath the hood. He felt his face begin to burn and he nearly spluttered when the other man’s eyes zeroed in on the movement.
There was no denying it now. The guy was definitely looking at his booty.
After a few moments, the man seemed to realize what he was doing and looked away. Mr. Pepper’s face turned an absolutely adorable shade of red, unlike the splotchy scarlet of his own, and Arthur couldn’t stop himself from smiling as he returned his attention to the inside of the car.
Maybe some people would find the guy’s flimsy excuses and shyness annoying or exasperating. But he just thought it was really cute. It was flattering really, a guy that looked like that coming in so often just to see him.
It would be cheaper to just ask him out though. The last few times he had secretly split the cost for the check-up since he couldn’t fix the problem, but he couldn’t really afford to keep that up. Not with how often Mr. Pepper showed up at the garage.
He let out a small sigh. Despite his nerves, at this point he probably would’ve tried to ask the other guy out. It was against work policies though, and he respected his Uncle and his coworkers too much to break the rules. But if the other guy asked…well, the rules only said he couldn’t flirt with the customers, not the other way around. They also didn’t say he couldn’t say yes to a coffee or something if he was asked.
Undoing the hood strut, Arthur slowly closed the front of the car. The guy looked up from the ground in alarm at the sound. “Oh! Did- did you finish already?”
Arthur grabbed a grease rag from his tool belt and wiped at his blackened hands. “Yeah. I can’t find any problems, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If you’re still having issues, then just bring it in again and I’ll see if I can’t find them.” He paused before chuckling. “We’re probably gonna have to give you a discount or reserve a spot for you, with how often you’ve been coming in. Maybe put in a revolving door.”
The other man laughed: it was deep and rumbling sound, and it almost made the mechanic want to chuckle all over again with how infectious it was. But the guy was just being polite. It was a really lame attempt at humor on his part, and Mr. Pepper laughed a few moments too long in response.
He ran a hand through his hair before pulling the keys out of his pocket and passing them into the other man’s much larger hands. “Here you are, Mr. Pepper.” He smiled at the taller man. “Enjoy the rest of your day. Thanks for using Kingsmen Mechanics.”
He turned around, only for one of those bulky hands to fall on his shoulder. That same deep voice that was laughing moments ago sounded tense now. “W-wait.”
It was happening wasn’t it? Oh god please let it be happening.
Arthur turned back around smiling warmly at the other guy. “What’s up?”
The other man pulled at his collar forcefully. “I-I…that is, um…I wanted to –to ask you something…”
He could feel his heart beating faster. He’d thought about the guy asking him out for a while, he’d admit. And the man was just being so darn endearing, the way he was acting. He hoped he wouldn’t say yes too fast and make it awkward. He had a tendency to do that sometimes.
Arthur smiled and nodded his head. “Go ahead.”
“Uhh…I-I wanted to ask you if…if you’d call me Lewis.”
He felt his heart drop a little in his chest, but he forced the look on his face to stay the same. “I can do that. Pretty cool name too.” He paused. “You can call me Arthur if you want. Is- Is there anything else…?”
Lewis looked conflicted for a moment, before shaking his head wildly. “N-no. I think that’s…that’s it for now.”
“Well, alright then, Mr. Pep-…Lewis. If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to come back.”
Lewis flashed one of those brilliant smiles he had, and nodded as he pulled open the driver’s seat door and slid inside. “I’ll see you around, Arthur.”
As the car pulled out, Arthur waved goodbye before dropping his arms to his sides.
He’d thought for sure-
Groaning, he made his way to the break-room. He was glad that no one was inside and the TV was off: he just wanted a few minutes to think and…try not to be disappointed, really. Rubbing at his face with his hands, Arthur plopped down onto the couch that was shoved into the corner of the room, staring up at the ceiling.
After a few minutes of silence, he heard the door swing open again. A gruff voice followed. “Yer boyfriend come in?”
He didn’t have to look to know his Uncle was the one speaking. Or that his hands were probably on his belt like they always were when he tried to sound parental. He sighed. “He’s not my boyfriend, Uncle Lance. But yeah.”
He heard one of the other chairs in the room scrape against the floor. “Still hasn’t asked you out yet then?”
Arthur rubbed his face again. “No…”
“Then what’re you moping around here for, boy? Get yer ass up and ask him yourself!”
Arthur rolled his head to the side to look at his uncle. “I don’t know where he lives, and I only see him in the shop. And I can’t ask him out while I’m working. It’s unethical.”
Lance crossed his arms and leaned forward. “Screw that. Who’s going to come ta me and get you in trouble? Just ask him next time he comes ‘round.”
“It’s not fair to the other guys, Uncle Lance. I can’t just break the rules because I know I’d get away with it.”
Lance grunted. “…yer a good kid. Thick sometimes, but a good kid.” He scratched where his chin probably was beneath his beard. “…Why don’t you look for him and ask him outside work?”
“Honestly, I’m half-tempted to get Vivi to find him, but I don’t want to be some creep that goes hunting people down. I might scare him.”
Lance let out a short bark of laughter in response. “You’re worried about that? Because he’s been coming here just ta see you, boy. He even stopped by on yer off-day. Took his car right back out when he found out you didn’t have a shift.”
Arthur raised his eyebrows. “Really? I didn’t …” he trailed off and shook his head. “No, that still doesn’t change anything. It’s one thing to know and visit someone where they work. Tracking them down outside their job is different More stalker-y.”
“I’m hearing a lotta excuses. You sure yer not just scared?”
Arthur looked down. “Yes. No. I don’t know… Maybe a little. I just …I don’t want to mess this up.”
Lance shrugged. “I suppose, but with all the ‘check-ups’ he’s had you do, you’re going to end up bleedin’ the boy dry. I think he’d prefer stalking.”
“I know, I know.” He frowned in thought. “I’ve been paying for half the last few times since he’s not having any actual work done, but that can’t last long… Maybe I’ll invite him to hang out during my lunch break next time. That’s not too weird, right? He might feel more comfortable if we talk for a bit too…Maybe he’ll come around and visit without the car or something.”
Lance chuckled and leaned back in his chair. “You better hope so. If not, neither of you’ll be able to afford dinner when the boy finally gets the nerve to ask you.”
Arthur rolled his eyes, but he smiled at his uncle as he sat up. “You’re funny, Uncle Lance.”
“Damn straight.” Lance paused as he eyed his nephew. “…you gettin’ on fine now?”
Arthur rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah. I’m okay.”
“Good. Then you need to get a move on. We got at least one customer who needs their carburetor fixed, and another one with tires to rotate.”
Lance huffed. “Cotton in yer ears, boy? You got work to do.” When Arthur began to rise slowly from the couch, Lance growled, brandishing one of his tools. “Move it, skinny malinky, before I use my wrench on you!”
Picking up speed, Arthur darted to the doorway before pausing. “Sorry Uncle Lance, but you’d have to catch me, and I don’t think your tiny legs could handle the strain!” He laughed as he jumped away from the door, hearing the sound of metal on concrete as a wrench followed him along with a string of curses.
The grin stayed with him even as he kept moving towards the front of the garage, and he hummed quietly under his breath.
Because yeah, he might’ve been hit with some disappointed today…
But then again, there’s always tomorrow.
Lance. I love Lance so much. And I love Lewis and his stupid shyness. And Arthur and dat booty. And this. I love this.