Your Flowers Will be Waiting (Jared Kleinman x Reader)
Your Flowers Will be Waiting (Jared Kleinman x Reader)
Notes: I was listening to “I’m Me” by Us the Duo, and it reminded me of a headcanon I read somewhere saying Jared played clarinet in high school (which I LOVE). And then somehow I came up with an idea that involved a flower shop, and this happened! I also love headcanons about Jared not at all being an outdoors person, sooo idk I just feel like he probably has a pollen allergy (and also gets sunburned super easily and is very clumsy when he goes on hikes with Evan, but that’s for another fic, probably!!). Also, as you may remember from my other Jared fic, I am convinced he loves The Office and no one can tell me otherwise (I mean, come on, Michael Scott literally responds “Kinky!” to something Jim or Dwight says in the first episode).
Anyway. This is pure fluff.
Warnings: Tiny bit of swearing … also Jared makes a slightly crude comment about the romance novels his grandma reads.
You’ve been watching customers meander in and out of the flower shop for the past three hours when the bell over the door announces the entrance of a boy with crooked glasses and a familiar smile.
An involuntary flutter goes through your stomach as you push your book aside and wave at him from your perch behind the counter. Ever since you graduated high school two months ago and started working here, it seems like he’s been in almost every time you’ve had a shift. At first you weren’t sure why—he never bought anything, just asked a bunch of questions about the various flowers. Once you asked if he was going to buy anything, and he said he was thinking about getting a bouquet for his nature-obsessed friend. You weren’t sure if he was kidding or not.
You’re still not exactly sure why he comes in, but it doesn’t matter so much anymore.
“Hey, Jared,” you call.
“Hey,” he replies. He slides his hands into the pockets of his shorts. “How’s it going?”
“Fine. We got some new flowers if you want to see them.” You motion toward the window display, which you spent a good chunk of your morning arranging. “They’re over there.”
“In a minute.” He comes to the counter and props his elbows on it, leaning toward you. It used to make you feel strange—you had gone through high school feeling pretty much invisible, and it was weird to have a boy talk to you so close, especially one you didn’t know. But now you don’t mind. If another guy did it, you might feel uncomfortable, but Jared does it in an oblivious kind of way like he just wants to hang out, not like he’s trying to hit on you.
Not that you would mind being hit on by Jared Kleinman.
The book you were reading before he came in rests amidst a scattering of stray leaves, its pages lying open to the middle. Jared taps a finger on it. “Whatcha reading today?”
“The Prisoner of Azkaban.”
He huffs out a short laugh. “Harry Potter?”
You feel your cheeks flushing a little, but a smile you can’t control pops onto your face. “Hey, those books are classics. My grandma even read them.”
“Then your grandma is way cooler than mine.” He smirks. “I tried to make her read them in fifth grade, but she was too busy with semi-pornographic romances.”
“Oh god, I didn’t need to know that.” You cover your face with one hand and laugh. “Now I just have this horrible image of … that … in my head.”
“You’re welcome.” Jared pushes a finger under his glasses and rubs his eyes; they always get red and watery when he comes in, and he’s usually sneezing by the time he leaves. You used to think it would keep him from spending so much time here, but he told you his friend makes him go on hikes in the woods and those are way worse than this.
“So,” he says. “How late are you working?”
“I get off at four-thirty.” You tuck a loose strand of hair behind your ear; your hair isn’t really long enough to put in a ponytail, but you still try to tie it back every day anyway. “Why?”
You twist back and forth on your stool; it lets out a painful creak that makes a lady looking at flowers by the door glance over at you. You pick up one of the stray leaves from the counter and tuck it into the crease of The Prisoner of Azkaban to mark your spot, then close the book. “Aren’t you ever going to get a job?” you ask Jared.
“I’m trying to get an internship, actually. I want to get some experience under my belt so I’m not totally clueless when I start school.”
Jared is going to Rochester Institute of Technology this fall. He’s going to major in Computer Science, which, based on how much he’s rambled about gaming, the computer he’s been trying to build since ninth grade, and the miracles of the modern cell phone, doesn’t surprise you. He’s lucky, you think—from what he’s told you, it sounds like he’s always had some idea of what he wants to do. You, on the other hand, aren’t sure what you’re doing. You know you’ll be attending North Country Community College come August, but that’s about it.
“That’s a good idea,” you say. “Do you think you’ll get one?”
“Maybe. I probably won’t get paid, but I mean, I can always work on the weekends or at night, right?”
You finger the worn edge of your book; it’s soft from dozens of rereads. “I heard the 7 Eleven down the street is hiring.”
“Ha, ha.” He scratches his nose and shifts his weight so his side is leaning up against the counter. “What about you, loser? You decided what you’re going to school for yet?”
You smirk. It’s a question he asks almost every time he visits, and every time you make up a new answer. Yesterday it was Criminology with a minor in Icelandic Poetry, which both of you are pretty sure doesn’t actually exist. “Maybe Meteorology? And then maybe I’ll minor in Botany.”
Jared lets out a choked sound. “No. God, no, you can’t do botany.”
You laugh. “Why not?”
“Because I already have one friend who won’t freaking shut up about plants. I can’t deal with another one.”
“So we’re friends?”
He gives you a look. “I’m in here almost every day even though my eyes are burning out of their sockets, Y/N. Come on. Gimme some credit.”
A blush climbs up your neck and into your ears. You bite down on a smile and find another loose leaf on the counter to pick at. “You know, we don’t always have to hang out in here if it bothers you.”
He shrugs. “Don’t worry about it, I’m good. But I’d like to quit standing, if that’s okay.”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” The other customer is gone now, so you motion for Jared to come sit on the extra stool behind the counter. He scoots around the corner of the counter and climbs onto the stool; for an eighteen-year-old boy, he’s a little short, and his Vans hang a good way above the floor.
“So,” you say. “Am I ever going to meet your other friend?”
Jared takes his glasses off and cleans them on the corner of the button-down shirt he has layered over his green R2D2 shirt. “You’ve met him.”
You make a face at him. “I didn’t go to school with you.”
“Yeah, you did.”
You cross your arms over your chest. “No, I didn’t. I would remember that.”
Jared smirks. “Why, because I’m so charming?”
“Because you’re so obnoxious.”
“Wow, nice. Thanks.” Jared slips his glasses back on. “I was in band with you in eighth grade. Remember?”
You cringe a little at the memory of middle school band. Your parents thought you should try playing an instrument, so you tried the flute—and failed. “I spent most of band hiding in the bathroom because I sucked so bad. So no, I don’t remember.”
“Okay, well, I was there.”
“What did you play?”
“Clarinet.” He picks a leaf off the counter and rolls the stem back and forth between his thumb and forefinger. “I spent most of band seeing how loudly I could make it honk.”
“Oh my god. I remember that.” You can’t help but start laughing. When you weren’t hiding in the bathroom, you kept your head ducked so no one would notice you. But there’s still an image in your head—a memory of a short, pudgy kid blowing on his clarinet until his face went bright red and the teacher screamed herself hoarse. “Was that you that honked right in the middle of The Blue Danube?”
“Yep.” He tears the tip off the leaf. “That was the most epic moment of my middle school band career. Also my last.”
“Did they kick you out?”
“Yep. So instead I had to do some stupid wood workshop.” He rips another piece off the leaf. “Majorly boring.”
“I can imagine.” You watch him shred the last bit of the leaf. “God, I can’t believe I didn’t know that was you. We didn’t go to the same high school, though, right? I switched after freshman year.”
“Yeah, I know. I think we had, like, Spanish I or something together before you left.”
“Did I have any classes with your friend?”
“Probably, although if you didn’t remember me, then you probably won’t remember him.”
He reaches onto the counter and begins to scoop all the stray leaves into a pile. “’Cause he’s quiet.”
“I thought you said he wouldn’t shut up about plants.”
“Well, that’s true. But that’s just with me. He’s quiet around big groups of people.” He lifts a rose leaf and inspects it. “He’s actually the reason I came in here in the first place.”
You raise an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“He had this first date with this girl he met at work—he works at a state park, can you believe that? Anyway, he thought it would be cute to give her flowers but didn’t want to actually go buy them. So, being the nice guy that I am, I offered to get some for him.”
You roll your eyes. “Humble much?”
“Hey, I think it was a pretty nice thing to do. He’s the one who came up with the idea in the first place anyway.”
“Well, you never bought the flowers, and you’ve been back, like, a hundred times since then, so explain that.”
Jared snorts and points to himself. “Do I look like the kind of guy to know how the hell you’re supposed to make a flower arrangement?”
“We have premade ones,” you say. “And I offered to help. Remember?”
“Yeah, but remember you were watching The Office on your phone and we started talking about that and got distracted?”
The memory makes something soft and warm light in your chest. You had only been working for a few days and had been out of school for just over two weeks. You didn’t really have any friends from school, more just a few acquaintances, but you still missed the company of other people. Getting to chat with a random kid about your favorite show had eased some of that loneliness—especially when he showed up again during your next shift. “That was nice,” you say.
“I know. Which is why I came back.”
“You told me you were looking for flowers again when you came back.”
“Well, that too.” He scratches his nose in a bashful kind of way, almost like he’s trying to hide his face for a second. “I thought the whole flower idea was kinda good. So, I was going to try it.”
You smirk; the tips of his ears have gone pink, and he’s twisting back and forth on his chair. This might be the first time you’ve ever seen him act shy. “But again,” you say, “you never bought any flowers.”
“Because I realized it was actually really stupid. I mean, asking a girl out with flowers? Who does that?”
“I don’t know,” you say. “I think it sounds sweet.”
He wrinkles his nose. “Really?”
“Yeah. I mean, it’s a little cheesy, but flowers are nice.” You pull one of the leaves from his pile and twirl it between your fingers. “No one’s ever given me flowers, except my parents, and that doesn’t really count.”
Jared raises his eyebrows. “Seriously? You work at a flower shop but have never gotten any?”
Your face heats as you drop your gaze to the leaf pile. “Don’t act like it’s so shocking. I’ve just … I’ve never had a boyfriend.” You watch the way your leaf’s deep green colors blurs when you twirl it. “Does that make me seem lame?”
“No. I’ve been told guys in high school are dicks anyway.”
You glance up at him. “Did someone say that about you?”
“Only a couple times, and I wasn’t actually dating her anyway.” He puts an elbow on the counter and props his head up on a fist. He’s bent over a little, leaning a little closer to you, and you can see the bright blue of his eyes. There’s a tiny spot of warm brown in his right eye you never noticed before, and for some reason it makes your heart trip through several beats.
“So back to the flower thing,” he says. “Do you really think it’s not stupid?”
You laugh again. “Jared, I already told you, I think it’s cute. Why? Are you seriously telling me you haven’t asked out whoever you were going to ask out, like, two months ago?”
He shrugs. “Maybe.”
“Oh my god! Okay, I’m helping you pick out flowers and you’re asking today.” You scoot off your stool and move to get around the counter. “Do you know what kind of flowers she likes?”
“Why the crap would I know that?” he asks, following behind you as you stride toward the front of the store. “Just pick your favorites and I’ll get those.”
You roll your eyes at him but then focus on the task. The two of you wander around the store, Jared watching while you sift through the containers of flowers. You search for some of your favorites but also keep in mind that Jared probably doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on flowers. You’re pretty sure you can make it work; sometimes when there’s no one in the shop, you like to brainstorm new combinations of flowers.
Within fifteen minutes, you’ve gathered a mix of baby’s breath, soft yellow daisies, and lavender. Jared watches from his stool behind the counter while you clip the stems and arrange them in a narrow vase.
“I think this will be good,” you say, nestling a sprig of baby’s breath next to a large, pale yellow daisy. “It’s pretty without being too much. Too much would be cheesy.”
Jared pushes his glasses up to rub at his eyes; by now they’re bloodshot and watering enough that he’s wiping tears away before they can dribble onto his cheeks. “Are you sure about the lavender? It kinda smells.”
“It smells nice in small doses. I’m only putting a few sprigs in.” You glance up at him. “How soon are you giving this to her?”
“Soon.” He shifts so he’s leaning his elbow on the counter like he did earlier. “Today, maybe.”
“Are you giving them to her on the date, or asking her out with them?”
“Which do you think is less cheesy?”
You give him a look. “Are you really this insecure?”
He sputters a little. “No! Obviously not. I just want to do this right.”
You sigh a little, although you’re smiling. There’s something endearing about this nervous side of Jared. “I think you should wait until you’re on the date to give them to her. Unless you’re not going out for a couple of days. The baby’s breath will last for a while, but the daisies won’t do so well.”
Jared grunts and begins to pick at a sprig of baby’s breath lying on the counter. You swat his hand away. “Stop, you’ll ruin it.”
“This is just extra, you already have a bunch in there.” He leans forward to inspect the flowers you’ve already put in the vase. “So what did you say your plans were for when you get off work?”
“I don’t know. I’ll probably just read or watch TV or something.”
“Wow, that’s exciting.” He waves the sprig of baby’s breath at you. “You know, you should really get a life.”
You make a face at him, but the teasing smile on his mouth keeps you from snapping back at him.
“What are you doing when you quit stalking me?” you ask. “Calling this girl you’ve been pining over for two months?”
“Maybe so.” He ducks his head and sneezes into the crook of his arm, his shoulders shuddering. When he looks back up at you, the tip of his nose is pink, and he groans a little. “Ugh. How long until you’re done?”
“Just a second. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” He wipes his wrist across his nose and then props his head up on his fist. “You should give me your number, since you have no life and obviously need someone to get you out of the house.”
You scoff at him. “You don’t know if I have a life!”
“I’ve known you for two months and basically all you like involves TV, reading, and music.”
“And all you like involves video games and building computers.”
The corner of his mouth jerks up in a smile. “Touché. But I hang out with Evan, at least. Do you hang out with anyone?”
The question brings a familiar ache to your chest. These hours spent with him are like spots of sunlight in your week. The rest is almost all just gray loneliness. “No. I mean, I want to, I just … I don’t really know anyone.”
“Not even from high school?”
“Not really. I had acquaintances, not friends.”
“Okay, I definitely need your number,” Jared says. “You can’t just stay home anymore. Also, you and Evan would get along obnoxiously well.”
“Is Evan the kid who likes trees?”
“Who’s obsessed with trees, yes.” There’s a marker next to your register, and Jared moves off the stool to grab it. Once he’s back on his stool, he holds the marker above his forearm. “What’s your number?”
You want to insist you have a life, but both of you know you don’t. And it would be nice to make some friends.
You give him your number while you finish the flower arrangement. It’s a little sparse, but there’s something cute about it. It has a kind of rustic look, like it’s made from wildflowers. There’s something sweeter about it than the overly full bouquets you’re used to making.
For a moment, you let yourself be jealous of whatever girl will be getting the flowers, but then you brush the thought away.
Jared moves to the other side of the counter and digs through his pockets while you ring him up. You almost wish your boss was here to see the flowers; for the price Jared’s paying, it’s a pretty cute bouquet. It’s the first time you really feel like you knew what you were doing when you created it.
Once Jared has paid, you hand him the flowers. As he reaches for the vase, your number stands out on his forearm, the writing big and dark on his pale skin. You motion at it. “Don’t forget to text me sometime. You know, since my life is so boring.”
For some reason, the bashful smile he had earlier makes a reappearance, and you feel your heart flip inside you. “I will,” he promises.
You’re at home lying on your bed, an episode of The Office playing on your laptop. You smile a little—Jared would probably laugh if he saw you right now; he was right, you really do have no life. Not that getting to lay around watching TV isn’t nice. But it would also be nice to have people to go out and do things with.
You yawn and stretch your legs out on your bed. After Jared left the flower shop, work dragged by. Some lady came in and yelled at you for an order someone apparently messed up. You didn’t recognize her or the description of the flowers she wanted, so you’re pretty sure it was a coworker’s fault, but unfortunately they weren’t there to endure the yelling. You think you dealt with it well, but it left you a little frazzled and with a slight headache.
Beside you, your phone buzzes. A text from an unfamiliar number scrolls across your screen. Are you home yet?????
That stupid, uncontrollable smile from earlier yanks at your mouth again. It’s silly, considering you saw him just a few hours ago, but you don’t care.
Yes, you reply, then add, Stalker.
You expect a snarky response, but instead your phone rings.
You hold the phone to your ear with one hand and pause The Office with the other. “Hello?”
“Hey,” Jared says. The sound of his voice makes you wish you were back at the flower shop with him. “Whatcha doing?”
“Being boring.” You sit up, your legs crisscrossing. “Did you call that girl yet?”
There’s a slight pause. “Yes.”
“And? What did she say?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
You make a face. “I don’t get it.”
He sucks in a deep breath that makes static fuzz in your ear. “This is lame, but so are the flowers, so I’m just going—”
“The flowers aren’t lame,” you say. “We’ve already been through this.”
“Okay, okay, sure, the flowers aren’t lame. But this is.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, so unfortunately I can’t reassure you.”
He laughs, but it comes out a little wobbly. It reminds you of the sudden shyness that came over him in the shop today.
“Like I said, this is lame, but just listen,” he says. You wait for several seconds before he speaks again. “Do you want to go out?”
You blink at the paused image of Pam and Jim talking on your laptop. “Like … on a date?”
“Yes, like on a date.”
“I—yes, but I thought …” Your heart pauses for a second as it dawns on you. Your mouth falls open, and for a moment all you can do is breathe wordlessly. Then you start laughing. “Oh my gosh, you dork! You’re such a dork!”
“Rude!” Jared says, but you can hear laughter in his voice. “I just asked you out!”
“After waiting two months!” You fall back on your bed, laughing so hard your ribs ache. “You made me make my own flower arrangement,” you gasp out.
“Yeah, well, I would have done it, but you wouldn’t even let me touch the baby’s breath,” he says. “Also I had to take a bunch of Benadryl when I got home, so I think we’re even.”
You feel dizzy with excitement and laughter, and it takes a couple seconds for you to calm down enough to suck in a deep breath. Something happy is happening inside you, something fluttery and warm and ticklish in between your ribs. “Obviously I’ll go out with you,” you say. “When were you thinking?”
“I was gonna say tonight, but the Benadryl kind of knocked me out, so my parents won’t let me drive.”
“I can come over,” you say. “You know how much I love hanging around the house watching TV.”
“I definitely do.” He lets several seconds pass before adding, “That seems really lame for a first date.”
“Oh my god, Jared, get over yourself.” You cup a hand to your cheek; it’s flushed with excitement. “I’ll be over in an hour.”
“Are you sure?” he asks.
The giddiness inside fades into something warmer … softer. Despite the way he spends most of the time teasing you, Jared Kleinman is not as cocky as he seems. There’s a gentler, less sure side of himself, too, a side that makes you like him even more. You’ve been a little in love with that louder, more confident side of him since the first time he came into the shop and started chatting with you, and you can feel yourself falling fast for this deeper, more serious part of him.
You like Jared for all of him, and it makes your voice go quieter as you tell him, “I’m sure.”
“I’ll text you my address.” The smile you’ve come to look forward to so much over the past two months fills his voice, and it makes your stomach ignite with butterflies. “Your flowers will be waiting.”