The Powers That Be (Viverescribere and Saren)

Discussion in 'ONE ON ONES IN CHARACTER' started by Saren, Aug 8, 2016.

    • In the modern world, people have been divided into two categories: normals (often called normies) and mutants. Mutants were created by a strange virus fifty years ago, infecting many people with strange powers and abilities. These abilities ranged from mind reading all the way to nuclear power generation, spanning all kind of people. Some died and others lived to procreate, spawning children with the virus inside them. At first, these children were considered freaks, abominations of nature and things to be destroyed.

      As time passed, these mutants became less of a scourge on society and were seen once more as regular people. Though some mutants are still frowned upon, they have become generally accepted by the normies.

      But the peace could not last forever, and four years ago, a supposed cure for the virus was created. Some mutants went willingly to test the cure, but others opposed it. When the world leaders came together and vowed to eradicate the virus, uneasiness settled across the lands. With the threat of losing their power, mutants began to hide away, obscuring themselves and their power.

      As of a few months ago, it is believed by the general normie public that the virus has been destroyed, making mutants rarer by the day. Those who still possess their powers are hiding in plain sight, blending in with the rest of the world to try and live peaceful lives.

    • [​IMG]
      Daisy Iris Hood (Birth name: Karma Iris Olivers)
      Age: 24
      Occupation: Florist
      Height: 5'6"
      Hair: Dark, rich, thick hair that will usually fall to around mid-chest if she allows it to stay down. But usually it's gathered up into messy buns or ponytails with loose strands falling either side of her face or tucked behind her ears.
      Eyes: Deep blue

      General Appearance:
      Daisy has fairly tanned skin from her hobby of gardening both at her part-time job and at her own home and stands around 5"6'. Despite it depending on where she is and what she is doing, Daisy will usually wear worn, ripped or faded skinny blue jeans regardless. However, with her florist job, she will wear comfortable yet smart blouses of mainly pastel colors. With her part-time gardening job, large t-shirts that could be considered as baggy on her upper frame.

      She'll be wearing two necklaces also. One with a silver tree within a silver circle, bought upon her acceptance of her gifts and the changing of her name. The second being a pearl on the end of a silver chain that belonged to the (now deceased) foster mother that encouraged her into gardening and accepted her as who she was.

      Daisy is a rather closed off person, her upbringing wasn't exactly the best and she closed herself off from a young age after some bullying and teasing during her time in the Orphanage and schools. She'll be rather blunt, especially when she just wants something over and done with, and especially with the truth. She'll put on a nice, warm smile when she's working and dealing with customers, but she generally prefers to be left alone.

      The only time she's happy is with her plants or gardening, the only other human that has ever won her affection and broken down her walls was her last foster mother at the age of fourteen named Judy. With Judy, she was able to crack a few jokes and laugh, open and vulnerable, and fiercely loyal to the woman she considered her true mother.

      Daisy has the power of earth manipulation and earth generation. She is able to grow and strengthen plants surrounding her. She is able to grow anything from nothing as long as there is the means to do so. For example, she wouldn't be able to create an oak tree in the middle of a sandy desert. Large scale manipulation and generation are very taxing, leaving her exhausted if she exerted herself too much. However, smaller things like tending to plants in the garden or growing exotic flowers in her own back garden or in her shop for clients isn't bad. A ten minute sit down and a tea break will do the trick.

      Daisy takes strength from the earth, which is why she can be found walking around bare foot when gardening - despite it being against the rules in her part time job. Daisy is also mildly effected by the same man-made pollution that the earth is. Fumes from traffic, in too large or too long a quantity can make her light-headed and weak. She has been known to pass out on one or two occasions. And she is only able to eat organic fruit, nothing that has been tainted by germicides and the like. Fire is an extremely dangerous thing for her, the burning of her earth can render it impossible to do anything with it if the damage is too great.

      Daisy was dumped at an Orphanage at the age of two by a single mother that was unable to support her properly. Throughout her stay at the Orphanage, she had a bumping and rough journey, being tossed from Orphanage to foster home and back again. Teasing started because of her muteness and her name, Karma. Then, as she developed her powers, she became a freak. She was given her own room because of what would grow in the ones she shared with others. No one wanted to share with the freak that she apparently was. Teasing and bullying continued no matter where she was, in the Orphanage or at school.

      Eventually, she found solace with her final foster mother, Judy Hood, at the age of fourteen. The woman's own children had grown up and flown the nest, her husband having left her ten years previously and she was lonely. Hence the decision to begin as a foster parent. She knew Daisy was special the moment they met, nurturing her and coaxing her slowly out of her shell and encouraging her to join the gardening club run by the same people she now worked for.

      Daisy was devastated when Judy passed away from illness, mourning for a few months before she was able to get started again. Judy had placed Daisy in her will, the necklace she wore - pearl on a silver chain - being one item given to her. Once she was back on her feet, Daisy changed her name legally to what it is now. Daisy Iris Hood, taking on the name of her beloved foster parent.
      (Played by Viverescribere)

    • [​IMG]
      Name: James Matthew Gunner
      Age: 26
      Occupation: Gardener/Farmhand
      Height: 6'4"
      Hair: Blonde; facial hair is dark blonde
      Eyes: Hazel

      General Appearance:
      James can often be seen wearing t-shirts of varying colors and worn blue jeans. He hardly deviates from this, but on occasion, he will wear some kind of thin flannel over his shirts. He also seems to permanently wear a black and red checkered scarf, using it as a head or neck accessory. He's never seen without it, and it's unknown as to how he came about it or why he has it.

      James is the definition of a big, huggable teddy bear. He's never minded the presence of people and has always wanted comfort and help others. This seems to be part of the reason he took up the position of gardener when he first came to the Warren. He's a fellow outdoorsman who hates to be cooped up, but he's a man who loves the day and not the night. He's honest, fiercely loyal, and is always around when anyone needs him to be.

      James has the power of fire manipulation and fire generation. He can create fire from his hands or his mouth, and he can transform existing fire into whatever he desires. Fire generated from himself is often hotter and burns faster than something like a camp fire, but it tires him out quickly. His skin doesn't burn as easily as others, but he can still suffer from burns if he handles the fire improperly.

      James feeds off of the sun for power, and the longer he stays inside a building or away from natural sunlight, the weaker he becomes. It is possible to completely stop his power if he's away from natural sunlight for about a week, depending on how he's treated. Water renders it difficult for him to generate fire, and he cannot create fire without a form of flowing oxygen.

      James is the youngest of three brothers, all of whom eventually grew into mutants. Even his parents got strange powers from the influx of whatever hit the population. Neither of them knew at the birth of their first child, but after the second son, they soon realized something was strange. However, his mother was already pregnant with the soon to be James, and it was only after he was born did they decide to stop having children.

      James and his brothers, Jacob and Joshua, were close with one another, even though James was younger. They all started to develop their power at the same time, and they seemed to be a rarity, as all three boys manifested the same power to make and use fire at their own will. Despite the fact that the Cure had yet to be made, James' parents urged their sons to not use their powers or tell anyone they existed. This was something that stayed with James and his brothers as they worked their way through high school. In fact, James and his brothers stuck together to the point where they all started to attend the same college.

      After James entered his second year, it was announced worldwide that a Cure had been crafted. His two older brothers weren't concerned and continued their education. It was only after they got a call from their mother that things began to go downhill. Their father, plagued with the ability to see into the future, had seen his sons die at the hands of the Cure scientists. Such a sight had taken its toll on their father, and James and his brothers made the decision to go back home to help their parents move far away from the Cure.

      But it was not to be, for James's father was carted off to take the Cure against his will just as James and his brothers returned home. In an effort to keep their family together, James and his brothers fought against the agents keeping their father captive. In the fight, Joshua, the oldest brother, was killed and Jacob was taken away with his father. Only James and his mother remained and they left as fast as they could.

      James's mother, fraught with grief, went into shock, and only the quick wits of her son saved her from disaster. Rather than leave her behind to wallow in sadness, James took her and left his home in Washington, getting as far as he could. He was able to pass for a normie, and he used his mother's mental state as an excuse to get through where mutants could not.
      (Played by Saren)

    #1 Saren, Aug 8, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
    • Love Love x 1
  1. James knew the sun bothered a lot of people, but as the skies cleared and the meager clouds receded, he felt himself smiling. It had been a long day, and the occasional shadow over the sun hadn't been the best for his health, but he'd trudged on. His neighbor's horses had needed tending and one of the younger foals had smacked into a fence post a few days ago. He'd spent a few hours fixing the thing, but each time he blinked sweat from his eyes or the sun peeked from behind the clouds, he was happy. Hard work paid off, and his reward was now visible in the blue sky above. He wiped his forehead with his checkered scarf before he sat down in his car, flicking the ignition and blasting the air conditioner. While he loved the sunlight, he wasn't quite that immune to sunburns. He already had a farmer's tan and didn't want to aggregate that.

    As he leaned his head back on the seat, a knock on his window startled him. A woman in her thirties with a chubby baby on her hip grinned at him as he rolled down the window. "You forgot your check... Again," she teased, holding out a folded piece of paper. "You seem to like taking off without your money."

    "It's because you pay me far too much," he chuckled, snapping the glove box open and tossing the check inside.

    "Don't say that." She flipped her free hand at him. "We appreciate all the work you do around here. Don't we, Timothy?" She patted the baby's back and he gurgled in some form of agreement at her question."Besides, I'm sure your mother would agree with me too," she added.

    James smiled and shook his head. "Thank you, Marie." He didn't make any comments about his mother. Marie knew part of his history, but he had withheld the underlying truth, and for good reason. "I'll be back on Monday. If anything breaks between then and now, just give me a call." She gave him a firm nod and wave as he rolled the window back up, returning the gesture as the baby Timothy jostled his arm, mimicking his mother.

    With his work done, he felt his muscles complaining for a break. Marie often said he overworked himself, but as their only farmhand, James ignored her and kept doing what he loved. Marie and her family weren't exactly his neighbors if one considered the distance between their homes, but they had been kind to him after he'd been struggling to find work in Garden Grove. The city's name was ironic for him, considering how much he loved to garden, but he hadn't picked it for the name. It had been far away from their starting point, and most people ignored the southern California city, opting to live in the bigger places like Los Angeles. Garden Grove wasn't the smallest, but it had enough people for him to peacefully blend in without causing trouble. He had found a cheap enough apartment on the outside of Garden Grove, and it was just big enough to house himself and his mother.

    As he picked up speed driving back into the city, he tried not to think about her. His mother was a distracting thought given all her problems, and if he worried about her now, he would forget about the road. She had been making some progress over the past month, and that was one thought that was allowed to stick. Maybe I should get her something, he thought. He already paid the bills and took care of the house for her, but she'd been moving around more and eating better food.

    Things were finally looking up for once.

    "Ah, dammit." Just like he'd known, he'd been distracted enough to pass through the street he needed to turn on. The next option he had to turn took him into a small shopping center, but the brand name grocery store wasn't what caught his eye. It was the little flower shop named Mother Earth Florist that had his attention right from the start. Flowers. His mother had loved flowers before everything happened. He was sure she was where he'd developed a love for the outdoors. Perhaps flowers would help her further.

    Before James knew it, he was pushing the door open to the flower shop. A soft jingle above him alerted the store clerk to his presence, but no one showed their face right away. James was left alone for a moment to admire the many different flowers all around him. The place was clean and pristine, and he felt dirty as he touched the leaves on a premade bouquet of roses. The place had flowers bunched up, but it also had potted plants with singular flowers and plants, even a few small shrubs that could grow into trees.

    He wasn't sure how he hadn't ever stepped foot into this place, but he found himself smiling as he explored the aisles of flowers. How could he possibly pick amongst all the beautiful nature around him?
    • Love Love x 1
  2. Since it was only her in the store, Daisy had long lost her shoes and walked around on the cool tiled flooring as if it were normal. Her blouse sleeves were rolled up to her elbows and her hair was tied up in a messy high bun. Her fingers and hands were dusted with soil, which was also caked under her fingernails since she had been working quite a bit with the plants that morning and afternoon since it had been so quiet. There was even a streak of dirt along her right cheekbone from where she had brushed a strand of hair from her face and accidentally swiped her cheek in the process.

    Her station was littered with numerous empty or half-empty mugs of tea from the small breaks she had to take from using her gift as much as she had done that day. It didn't deter her though, with her fingers buried knuckle-deep in the soil to help restore a malnourished orchid that hadn't gotten enough sun.

    "There we go," she murmured softly, brow furrowed in concentration before a small smile curved her lips upward as she watched the leaves unfurl and the stem strengthen. The petals soon glowed white again, trembling as they stretched outward, looking like they had crystals embedded into the petals as the sunlight and artificial light streamed onto them. "Beautiful, just like we knew you could be." Daisy pulled her fingers from the soil, the smile still gracing her lips as she patted the sod into the holes her fingers created in the pot.

    Adding some plant feed into the water, she gave it an extra helping by sprinkling a little over the flower before moving to wash her hands just as she heard the door go. Her gaze flickered to the archway that lead into her 'treatment' area, ears straining to pick up the sound of footsteps as she dug the earth from under her nails.

    Mother Earth Florist was her pride and joy. Created from the money that had been left to her by Judy along with her own savings from the gardening job she had on the side, it was in it's third year and was doing well. Daisy put it down to her gifts being a major help with the quality of her flowers and plants. She'd had raving reviews about how well preserved they were, how long they lasted, and then also their visual appearance too. It didn't take long for orders to come in for special occasions and for people to come and see for themselves. Of course things had died down by now, but it didn't mean she still wasn't doing well.

    Every month she'd visit Judy's grave and tell her just what she had been doing. Daisy didn't dare to think about what would have happened if Judy hadn't picked her out of the hole she was digging for herself at the time. Everything that Daisy had and achieved was all because of that woman, and she'd never be able to thank her enough.

    Walking through with a towel drying her hands, Daisy painted on a welcoming smile and approached the other side of the counter. She allowed him a little longer to look around, placing the towel down beside her as she watched him for a moment. Eventually she cleared her throat, "Hi there, can I help you with anything?" She inquired politely, tucking some hair behind her ear that had gotten loose. "Anything your particularly looking for or anyone you're buying for?"
    • Love Love x 1
  3. James had hardly heard the young woman's approach, and he looked up as she spoke. She was just as hard working as he was, judging from her appearance. She had a bit of dirt rubbed into her cheek, likely by her own hand, and her bare feet were covered in sprinkled soil. He didn't think bare feet were allowed, considering how many places had the 'no shirt, no shoes, no service' signs. Her messy hair was kept out of her eyes only from a hair tie holding back the dark brown locks high on her head. She was probably close to his age, which was impressive if she was running the entire business herself. Even if the store didn't belong to her completely, he could still appreciate someone who was dedicated to their work and helping others, just as he was. She certainly got into her work, if her looks were anything to go by. Still, for all the dirt covering her, she was still very pretty. She looked like she belonged amongst all the flowers around them.

    He gave her a return smile, ruminating over her question. He had the option of spilling everything to some girl he didn't know, or he could give her the same story he gave everyone else. After all, it was just a bunch of flowers, right? No reason to suspect anything behind the purchase beyond whatever James told her.

    "Yeah, maybe you can." He turned to face her completely, pulling his eyes away from the flowers for a moment. "I'm looking for something for my mother. She went through a traumatic experience some time ago and she's now starting to get back on her feet." He swept his hand across the length of the store. "I thought perhaps I would get her some flowers to help cheer her up."

    It was a vague enough story, and it had won other people over. This girl wasn't likely to be an exception. As a florist, she probably heard all kinds of sappy stories from both men and women and how flowers would fix their problems.

    In James's case, he knew flowers wouldn't cure his mother. He really did want something to cheer her up, something to show that he wanted her back to the mother he remembered before everything had gone down.

    "I know lots of different flowers have meanings, so... which one means recovery, or," he flipped his hand, searching for the word, "healing, I suppose." Maybe the meaning would be lost on his mother, but he could still try to find the best bunch of flowers for her.
    • Love Love x 1
  4. With him facing her properly now, Daisy was able to scrutinize the man before her better than when his profile was side on to her. Daisy was wondering if he did some garden work, or at least worked outdoors, with how tanned his skin was. He seemed like a woman's dream, and someone that would have had no problem getting a date to Prom in High School.

    He seemed to have just come from work, with his shirt stained and sleeves rolled up. He wore a scarf, Daisy hadn't seen many men wear scarves before. His blonde hair was messy, as if his fingers had been run through it multiple times....or perhaps he had been wiping at his forehead and hair with his scarf as he did whatever he did at work. His eyes were so inquisitive, hazel and flecks of which catching the light, seemed to take everything in with such an interest. Yes, definitely cute. Daisy would have to admit that, despite how much she'd hate to. If her helpers were here, she knew that the two girls would be fighting over who would serve him.

    Hence why it made her slightly weary and distant with him. But of course that couldn't show, he was a customer after all.

    So Daisy kept the smile on her face and pushed herself away from the counter, walking around to the opening to lean sideways against the counter as he explained. His mother. He truly was turning out to be the perfect male here, wasn't he? His voice wasn't annoying, he had nothing in his teeth, his was physically flawless. There had to be something wrong with the guy.

    "That's terrible, I'm sorry to hear about your mother." Daisy murmured sympathetically, however, thinking of what she would be like if she ever had to help Judy through something similar. "I'm glad to hear that she's doing better though. Flowers are always the perfect thing for a new start or a restrengthening of something." She paused momentarily, fingers lightly drumming against the counter top.

    Of course she was curious as to what his mother had been though, wondering just what traumatic experience his family had been hit by, but knew it was rude to pry. Daisy knew that if anyone tried to get her past out of her, it would take a lot of wearing down and many walls would have had to have been broken. He was a stranger, so why would a stranger reveal something so private to another?

    His action was misread by Daisy, who scoffed softly at his seemingly flippant regard toward her flowers and their possible meanings, but was quick to add a cough afterward to try and disguise her reaction, "I'm not sure about healing and encouragement..." She began slowly, mulling options over in her mind, "But give me a second. I'll see what I can come up with for you."

    Leaving him to enter the back room of her store once more, Daisy scanned over the different possibilities that were before her. The options that were at the front of the store were also in the back, along with a few new 'deliveries' that hadn't yet been put out on display. As she got her plan together, she gave a broad smile before setting to work.

    Lavender-coloured Lisianthus and Hydrangea flowers. Beautiful and elegant. Meaning calming and perseverance. Those were the flowers that Daisy put together for him. Upon a second thought, she also added a few dusty pink roses and pure white Gladiolus flowers to represent admiration/appreciation and strength of character respectively. She gently swaddled them in some clear and leaf green wrap before tying the ends together so they wouldn't fall apart.

    During the creation of the bouquet, Daisy was silent and inwardly thinking of the man that waited outside. It had been a while since her gut had told her something felt off, and she had began to wonder just what had happened with his mother. It didn't take long for her to believe that it wasn't just a mundane traumatic experience, but something more...unusual. Like her kind of unusual.

    Daisy soon reappeared, gently cradling the bouquet of fresh flowers before handing them over to him. "Here you are, a bouquet for your mother. They each represent calming, perseverance, admiration and strength of character." She explained, pointing to each flower as she explained their meanings. A moment later she fell silently, obviously pondering something before offering a soft smile before he could inquire just how much the flowers would be. "On the house."
    #5 Viverescribere, Aug 11, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
    • Love Love x 1
  5. James nodded as she left. Despite how much he enjoyed planting flowers and trees, he never picked them for their meaning. He was much more of the arranging type, picking based on the height and position of growing flowers so it made for a better looking garden. This girl had no such worries, prettying up her entire store with the most beautiful flowers she could find, all with different meanings just for the right person. He went back to looking around while she was gone, lifting some of the flower petals with one finger. The petals were remarkably soft, like the young woman was able to keep every flower in pristine condition. He had expected to see some dead or wilting flowers, but there were none. She certainly knew what she was doing, because he had never seen someone with a greener thumb, not even him.

    The young woman announced her presence by opening the door, holding a small, but elaborate bouquet with her. The purples and pinks of the flowers melded nicely with the green stems, and the white Gladiolus flowers were bright and stuck out amongst the rest. They were perfect, and he smiled as she pointed out all the different meanings. "I'm sure she's going to love them." He took them from her, one hand digging in his back pocket for his wallet. He had yet to cash the check from Marie, but he still had a little extra from saving up, as he was paid for more work during the summer. It was nearing the middle of autumn, and he would have to do less on Marie's property... and with the oncoming winter, the sun would be around less.

    The young woman's words caught his attention, his fingers having flipped open his wallet. "Are-are you sure?" he stuttered, looking between her and the flowers. They had to be expensive, and she certainly couldn't make a living off giving away flowers for free. However, he couldn't really reject the gift, so he continued. "Thank you... I appreciate it."

    It occurred to him then that she wasn't wearing a name tag of any kind, and the store didn't give away her name. He stuck his hand out, not even minding the dirt on his fingers. After all, brown dust and soil coated her tanned skin too, so they only matched.

    "I'm James," he introduced with another soft smile. "I've never even heard of your store before this, and I'll admit I took a wrong turn on my way home, but you have a lovely place here. I've never seen such perfect flowers."
    • Love Love x 1
  6. "Of course I'm sure, I wouldn't have offered otherwise." Daisy said firmly, pushing her hands against the edge of the counter as she rocked back onto her heels before swaying back onto the balls of her feet. The motion was repeated for a few moments, the silence thickening as she waited for him to finish the internal debate within him about if he ought to just accept the free bouquet or not. She shrugged when he finally made his decision, stopping her rocking to place her folded arms on the counter surface, leaning against them.

    Her watchful eyes caught how his darted to her upper chest and then around the store, leaving her with a lightly furrowed brow of curiosity and confusion. Just what was he looking for? There was nothing else that he wanted, surely, so why was he even still lingering about? Usually people just took the flowers and left, not bothering to hang about. It worked perfectly for her, they had busy lives to get on with and she wasn't really much of a sucker for interaction. The amount she got in work both here and at the garden was enough, thank you very much.

    Daisy then raised an eyebrow as he offered his hand, briefly glancing to it as she let it hang there for a moment longer than she probably ought to have done. It wasn't because she didn't want to get dirty since her hands were just as messy as his, it was because she wasn't expecting him to try and become all friendly and whatnot. But Judy had raised her to at least be polite and civil to people, so Daisy eventually took it to give it a quick shake.

    Upon releasing it, she fixed courteous smile once more on her lips during his introduction. "Pleasure to meet you James, and I'm glad you like my store," Daisy responded with a nod, not bothering to give her name back to him since she assumed this would be the last she saw of him. They weren't going to become Facebook friends anytime soon, that would just be very strange.

    "It took a lot of work to get it started and to where it is today. I appreciate your compliment about my flowers too, I tend to work on them all in the back whilst I have a team of three working out front here. But since it's relatively quiet...I let them all go early." She found herself explaining, "How lucky it is that your wrong turn led you here. Hopefully you'll be back soon and I truly hope your mother gets better." It was a friendly response, but a hidden message of possibly getting him to leave. While she valued her customers, Daisy still wasn't sure just why he was sticking around to talk to her. Wasn't his mother needing him?
    • Love Love x 1
  7. The young woman was not so quick to react to his introduction, and he thought about pulling his hand back to save face. However, she took his hand, giving it a light shake, but nothing more. She was friendly enough, but there was something about her that seemed off. Her demeanor was changing as he stood there, and James pulled his hand back to his side, trying to give her a slight smile. He still had to be cordial, as did she. It would do no good to lose business after gaining a brand new customer.

    "Yes, thank you," he said, clasping his free hand around the bouquet. Despite the sudden shift in her attitude, they were still beautiful - and free - flowers. She was wishing him well, and that was about the best he could hope for. "Again, I appreciate the freebie," he continued as he turned around. He gave her a wave and a farewell before the little bell jingled at his departure. It wasn't until he got into his car that he released the breath he was holding. "Well, that was strange," he muttered to himself. He wasn't sure he'd be making any wrong turns again any time soon.

    He didn't turn the radio back on for his drive home. It wasn't that far from the flower shop, which meant the flowers hadn't suffered in the dimming sunlight all that long. When he got to his home, he walked the short steps up to the second floor, twisting the key in the lock. All the lights were off as he stepped inside, but his mother had always liked the house dark. There was no movement, but it was just another thing he was used to. He flicked on the low light in the kitchen, finding a vase to set the flowers in. Once they were set on the table, James ventured to find his mother. She was sleeping on the master bed, small form curled into a loose ball. He resigned himself to the couch once again, and that was where he stayed during the night and into early morning.


    The next day came awfully fast, but it didn't matter what day it was. He worked for Marie and her family every day, but sometimes on the weekend, she sent him home early. He hadn't left much for himself to do on her property, but knowing her pesky horses, one of them was going to mess something up. He groaned as he sat up out of bed, grabbing his clothes off of the recliner and dressing himself outside the room so he wouldn't disturb his mother. He knew from experience that she hadn't woken up or moved around, but he didn't worry. Most days, she preferred to be alone, waiting until he was gone to mill about their small home.

    He ate his breakfast on the way to Marie's house, getting there right on time. He could see Marie through her front window, feeding her son and moving around the kitchen. He knocked as he opened the door, saying, "I'm here."

    "Don't you have anything better to do on a Saturday than work?" she teased, trying to coerce her child into eating. He was adamantly refusing, and after a second, she grumbled and set the spoon aside.

    "Not really. Got a list for me?" he asked, sitting down at the table next to Timothy. The child smiled at his approach, chubby hand attempting to wave. James returned the gesture, letting Marie set a glass of water in front of him. She always treated him like he was her son too, even if they were only a few years apart.

    She slid a piece of paper next to the cup, a short list of chores scribbled down. "Oh, Tawny kicked her stable door last night and cracked the wood, so if you can try to fix it, that would be helpful. I forgot to write that down. I have an actual repairman coming to look at it on Tuesday, but I don't think it'll last that long."

    "I'll check on her first then," he said as he stood up.

    "Oh, wait!" He turned to find her holding out a receipt of some kind. "I need some flowers picked up."

    "Flowers? From where?" He had a feeling he was going to dread the answer.

    "Mother Earth Florist. I've had that nice young girl fix me up a bunch of wild flowers for the family dinner tomorrow night. She's really quite good," Marie said with a chipper smile, missing his glance entirely.

    "I'll do it after I check on Tawny." He was quick to leave the house, list and receipt in hand. He was going to look like a fool for coming in one day after another, and he blamed God for such a cruel twist of fate. He knew Marie couldn't get them; she had a full time job that she was going to be running late to if she didn't pick up the pace.

    He walked to the barn, watching a tan horse stick its nose in between the bars. It huffed at his approach, but he reached out and scratched the animal's chin. "Heard you were causing trouble. C'mon now." It took him time to coax Tawny from the confines of her stable, but once she was out, he saw the nasty dent she'd kicked into the wooden door. The barn was old, and it couldn't really take any more beatings than it already had. James found another board to prop the broken door up with, a temporary solution to a problem he couldn't really fix. It hadn't taken much time, and he didn't want to be weird about going to the flower shop again so soon.

    But Marie needed the flowers, and he needed her to pay him, so he would run her errands.

    With a sigh, he put Tawny back in her stable, scolded the mare for breaking her door, and then went back to his car. At every stoplight, he twisted the scarf around his wrist, tying it to himself. It was a comforting thing, and it was mostly stylish, or so he liked to think.

    He got to the flower shop too fast, and he lingered in his car before he worked himself up to head inside. Perhaps the young woman's employees would be there and they could help him instead.
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  8. Daisy had a quick stop of her own to make that Saturday morning. The town cemetery where Judy Hood was buried under a lasting oak tree, a specific detail that Daisy had fought to have done. It was the anniversary of her foster mother's death that day, meaning it would be a harder one to last through. She would love nothing more than to take the day off and curl up under a warm blanket, but that was a want...not a need. She needed to keep going on as normal.

    Her gaze flickered over the small wreath that she had created to lay against the tombstone whilst a single touch to the ground allowed two bunches of Judy's favourite flowers to grow either side of the grave. She straightened soon afterward, sniffing once and wiping at her nose with the spare tissue she kept in her jean pocket. Her eyes watered, but the tears refused to fall, and she was glad. She didn't need to go into work all red and puffy-eyed.

    "Miss you more and more each day, Momma." Daisy whispered into the air, the wind carrying her words away from her and she could only hope they were being passed on to her foster mother wherever she may be now. "It's hard having no one to talk to, you know. No one would ever understand like you did."

    She was sure her assistants knew what this date signified to Daisy. With her being more cut-off than usual on this one day of the year, it wasn't hard to figure out that something had occurred. But she had never told them, not once informed them of the death of the only person she cared for and loved. It was none of their business, and they soon learned that Daisy did not appreciate any bout of sympathy or consolidation they tried to provide.

    Daisy would have just beaten him into the flower shop, her presence causing a halt in the chatter between her assistants. She could feel their gazes on her as she walked to the back of the shop to hang up her coat, their voices finally picking up again but this time in whispers.

    Closing her eyes and briefly resting her forehead against the cool concrete next to the archway, she soon gathered enough of her energy back up to head out to the front of the store. She made her daily rounds on the flowers that were on display, watering can in hand to feed them and a few strokes to the petals and leaves that needed her touch desperately. The chatter continued behind her as she worked before she finally called attention to herself, "Shannon, where's your name badge?"

    Once again silence fell over the store before the young girl piped up hesitantly, "In my bag-"

    "And why is it in your bag? It should be pinned to your blouse, please go and get it."

    A pregnant pause fell over the room before footsteps echoed into the backroom as the bell rang to the door.

    Daisy looked up, fake smile forced onto her lips to greet the customer until it faltered at the sight of the man from yesterday. What was his name again?

    James. That was it.

    Clearing her throat as she continued to look on awkwardly, wondering if he was here to complain or bring back his flowers, she politely nodded toward him. "Izzy, help this gentleman, will you? Any problems I'll be in the back." She told the other assistant that remained, picking up her watering can and gave a brief caress to the plant she was just tending. It instantly seemed to straighten and brighten, but all perhaps a trick of the light.

    After, she made her escape just as Shannon was coming out with the newly applied badge to her chest. Izzy, as Daisy called her, smiled warmly to the young man before her. A polar contrast to Daisy's reaction to him yesterday. "Welcome to Mother Earth Florist, sir. Is there anything I can help you with today?"
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  9. The happy little jingle of the bell was not enough to distill the sudden tension in the room. The woman from yesterday didn't look incredibly happy to see him, but he tried to give her a smile anyway. The assistants she had mentioned before were in the room with her this time, though one was missing. It was only the young woman and her other employee watching him as he entered.

    He opened his mouth to speak to the young woman from before, but a brusque command to her employee had him quieting before the words came up. Izzy, as she was called, didn't hesitate to come forward, but James's attention was on the other woman. He watched her touch the plant with a care that had not been present in her voice, suggesting that she cared more about the flowers than she did her customers or their money. The plant shifted with more force than just her finger, or so it appeared. It almost seemed to perk up, like it was a dog happy to see its owner.

    No, that couldn't be right. Well... it could be, given that he was not without his own strange moments. One too many things had been accidentally lit on fire throughout his life, so it wasn't as if he was unfamiliar with such sights.

    "Oh, yes, you can." He came to his senses a little later than socially acceptable, giving off the appearance that he was dazed and confused for a second or two. He held out the scrap of paper Marie had given him. "I'm just here for a pick up for Marie Duvall. She said something about some wildflowers."

    Hazel eyes glanced to the back where the young woman from yesterday had disappeared to. Dropping his voice, he asked Izzy, "What's your boss's name? I was in here yesterday, but she didn't tell me." There was no point in hiding that they were familiar with one another, even if it was strictly a customer-employee relationship, though even that seemed rocky.
  10. Izzy took the slip of paper, reading the name as if trying to remember the order. "One of the others must have taken it, but if it's been ordered, it'll be done for you!" She smiled brightly, head tipping to the side. The young girl's eyes ran over the man before her, obviously checking him out and admiring what was stood in front of her. Izzy couldn't help but wonder just how old the young male was...and if he was taken.

    "My boss?" Izzy then repeated, blinking out of her inner rambling to focus on his question. "Oh, Daisy? Yeah, she's not exactly the...friendliest." The young woman shrugged simply as if it wasn't a problem. "You kind of get used to it, I suppose. She's very...cut off. But she has a way with plants, so even if she's not the happiest around her customers, they always come back." She kept her voice lowered like him, not really caring if Daisy did hear but the slight fear of losing her job niggling at the back of her mind. "It's usually her that tends to them and arranges them. We all joke that she feds them a kind of plant steroid or something with how long they stay fresh." Izzy snorted, fidgeting where she stood by tearing little lines into the crumbled slip he handed her. "She's like an animal whisperer but for plants."

    Izzy then tensed as she heard footsteps, turning her head to see Daisy with a raised eyebrow. "Marie Duvall?" She inquired, eyes darting briefly to James before lowering again. "I'll get the order now. Izzy, make sure the young man has a receipt please to give to Ms. Duvall, she's already paid in advance." That's all it took for Izzy to clam up and nod, doing as she was told. Daisy met James' gaze once more, forced herself to give him a faintly friendly smile before escaping back to the back room.

    There was something in Daisy's gut that made her feel weary around this new face. That feeling was not one to be ignored, it had led her safe so many times before, she wasn't about to stop listening now. There was just something....different about him. And Daisy wasn't entirely sure just what kind of different...and if she wanted to find out.

    Of course there was that little voice in the back of her mind, asking and prodding at her. What if he was like her? What if he was...abnormal too? But that was impossible, so far in her life she had yet to meet anyone remotely like her. He couldn't be like that...could he?
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  11. James didn't know if anything like plant steroids actually existed, but it made sense. Everyone noticed how easily Daisy took care of plants, and it was just a little abnormal.

    It crossed his mind again that she might be like him, but he didn't want to jump to conclusions. Instead, he simply smiled at Izzy's joke, hazel eyes trained on the back where Daisy suddenly emerged from. He had missed Izzy's obvious and inquisitive gaze in favor of watching Daisy. She seemed icier than normal, but he stayed quiet as she conversed with her employee. Izzy disappeared, and Daisy was quick to follow.

    It was ironic that her name was Daisy and she owned a flower shop. Perhaps it was fate giving her a nice, easy way to slip into doing what she was meant to do. While the two young women were gone, James leaned on the counter, looking down at some of the smaller plants next to his feet. Like all the other flora in the shop, the leaves were perky and bright. The stems were a deep green, stretching tall to blossom into all kinds of different flowers. There were even a few small succulents and cacti on the higher shelves.

    He had never been a plant enthusiast, and after his power had bloomed, he had been keen on staying away from most things that burned easily. At least cacti plants survived dry weather well enough. He picked up one of the small pots, flipping it around in his hand lightly. A tiny pink flower was beginning to open up on the top, and with the right care, it would bloom and encompass the top entirely.

    He set the cactus pot on the counter, making sure to have his credit card in hand already so Daisy couldn't pass him another free plant. Maybe she wouldn't this time, since she seemed to insist on hiding in the back.

    "My mother loved the flowers," he found himself saying a little loud so she could hear him. "She wanted me to bring her something yellow next time because it's her favorite color."
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  12. Daisy froze as he called through to her, allowing his voice to raise with the obvious intent on her hearing him. Izzy had provided him with the receipt and was searching the counters for the card machine so he could pay for the cactus he had picked. Daisy, however, still had her hands hovering over the wrapping of the wildflowers as she was at loss on how to respond. To her, it was a mixture of a compliment but also a criticism. How was she supposed to know that the mother would have liked more yellow in the bouquet? That yellow was her favourite colour? Giving yellow roses? Please, that was something you gave a sick patient in a gloomy attempt to lighten their hospital room.

    "Oh? I can do you something else for her, if you like?" She finally melted from her statuesque position, tying up the brittle and hay-like ribbon around the wildflower bouquet. Daisy didn't mention she'd do it free of charge. Again. She didn't know why she wanted to do that for his mother. Perhaps it was something to do with the fact that she must have been a good mother to him. Otherwise why would he want to do so much for her?

    Izzy had finally located the card machine, setting it up with the price of his purchase before turning it around for him to enter the card. The young woman took a quick glance at the name on his card, a strand of hair being carelessly swirled around her index finger as she waited for him to enter his pin. "Your name is James? Such a nice name." She complimented, a dazzling smile on her lips.

    Daisy, meanwhile, could roll her eyes at her employee and did so while in the back room. Sometimes she wondered why she kept the two gossip girls around. They talked more than they actually worked some times. And when attractive men like James did come into the shop, she was lucky to get them to stop talking at all. "Whilst Daisy's finishing the bouquet, I could get some yellow roses for your mother if you like? Is she the only woman in your life who gets flowers?" Izzy continued, head tilting to the side as she pushed on with her not-so-subtle flirtation.

    "Izzy, that's hardly appropriate to a customer." Daisy reprimanded as she wandered back through with the wildflowers. Her eyes stern and steely as she looked at the younger woman who immediately turned red. "Clean the back room up for me, would you? I'll finish up here." Izzy was quick to nod and scurry away.

    Turning to James, she forced another smile onto her lips, shifting from foot to foot for a moment. "I...apologize for her. That was a personal question, not to mention I'm sure your mother is a woman who deserves better than yellow roses." Pausing, she studied him for a moment longer before patting the ends of the wildflower stems, adding an extra hand of strength to them. "Anyway, here you are. Is that everything I can get for you?"
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  13. Daisy didn't answer him right away, so she was either ignoring him or she was really focused on her task. He tried not to tense up at her lack of reply, because the last thing he wanted to do was offend or insult the owner of the flower shop. His mother really had appreciated the flowers; she also just happened to love yellow on pretty much anything. She even loved dandelions, though they were considered just weeds by everyone else.

    "Oh, no, but thank you. I was just thinking out loud... She really did love them though," he said with a small smile in her direction. He didn't want Daisy to think he or his mother were ungrateful. Free flowers (that were probably too expensive for him) in a lovely arrangement was not something he was going to pass up. Though her demeanor was standoffish, Daisy was truly a master at her craft, and his mother had appreciated the entire bouquet in all its wonder.

    Izzy broke his train of thought as she passed the card slider toward him. "Hm? Oh, thanks." He was surprised to find his face grow warm at the sudden compliment. His name was a rather generic one, so perhaps Izzy was laying it on a little thick, but he didn't mind being hit on. He hung around Marie all the time and didn't have many friends, so he didn't go to bars where anyone saw him. A little harmless flirting never hurt anyone.

    He finished up the transaction as Daisy walked away, but Izzy wasn't finished. As the young girl inquired about his habit of giving flowers, his fingers slowed. She has no idea what she's asking about, a little voice nagged at him. No one knew what had happened to his family, and he wasn't about to spill his life story to this strange girl.

    Before he could answer, Daisy cut off her employee. He looked up to find Izzy scurrying away and Daisy... apologizing of all things. She tolerated less friendly behavior, but not more personal questions disguised as flirting. "It's no problem," he said, "it was only a question."

    It was much more than that, but he said nothing. Instead, he pocketed his card and gave her a smile as she handed him the flowers. They hadn't looked so bright when she'd walked out with them, but maybe the lighting was better in the front of the store. He picked up the little cactus with his free hand. "Thank you... Daisy." Before she could wonder, he continued, "Uh, Izzy told me your name since I didn't get it yesterday."

    He took a deep breath, willing his face not to burn from the sudden embarrassment. "I'm sure I'll be back soon... I'll ask my mother exactly what she wants, so she can put new flowers next to the other ones." With that, he stepped away from the counter, gave Daisy a farewell nod, and left the store.
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  14. About a week or so later, James hadn't returned to the shop.

    Which was weird for Daisy to think of since she had told herself to forget about him a while back. It was just that feeling in her gut from his last visit. There was something different about him, but she wasn't sure what. And now she'd never know just what it was. She had probably scared him away with her attitude. Or maybe it was Izzy's terrible attempts at getting a date. Who knows. Either way, perhaps it was a good thing he stayed away...he wouldn't be able to hurt her then.

    Because that's why she pushed people away, right? Because they were bound to hurt her just like they did so many years ago.

    Daisy squeezed her eyes tightly shut, trying to block out the painful memories of a childhood before Judy as she stood at the counter, halfway through completing an order. She had let Shannon go a few days previously, the girl's continuous late arrivals to work and lack of willing to take on any responsibility was too much for Daisy in the end. Not to mention she had to have a word with Izzy about appropriate behaviour and to control her gossiping in the same day. Now it was only her, Izzy and another young man who only worked weekends.

    Regaining her composure and adding a few extra notches to the volume of the radio, Daisy continued with the bouquet before her. It was just her again that day, with the other two sent home since it was a Monday and not many people tend to come into the store at that time of the week.

    Once more, mugs were surrounding her station and she had already done her rounds to check on all her plants and flowers. Everyone was still healthy, happy and bright. Everyone being the flowers, that is.
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  15. Surprisingly, James had found himself almost turning down the wrong street again on purpose, just to go back to the flower shop. He had restrained himself, knowing that Daisy might not want to see him come back so soon to potentially have another freebie. The young woman hadn't exactly warmed up to him after he'd come back two days in a row, so even if his mother wanted yellow flowers, he would wait a few days.

    Still, he found himself distracted, even while he was working. Only the slow loss of sunlight as each day passed was enough to keep him out of his own thoughts. The weather was growing cloudy with autumn's approach, and soon, he was going to be all out of sorts from the lack of sunlight. It wasn't the first winter he'd made it through, but if the weather reports were accurate, they were in for a very cold, dismal winter.

    He sighed, sitting in his car in the parking lot where Mother Earth Florist was only a few hundred feet away. He had a list of flowers that his mother had rattled off before she'd fallen asleep, though the list had grown incomprehensible as she'd passed out. Her nightly pills often did that to her, but he had learned to work around it.

    He crumpled the note in his hand before he smoothed it out against his steering wheel. Ironically, one of the first flowers she had asked for were daisies. He didn't think the young woman in the shop would find it as funny as he did, so he picked up a pen and crossed it off. She liked chrysanthemums and hyacinth as well, and those were nicer to look at, even if they were more expensive.

    Now all he had to do was go inside.

    James sighed, pushing his head into his seat and closing his eyes. He'd had to run the horses around the corral, but none of them had wanted to cooperate. He was tired, and it showed in the way he pressed himself into his seat to get comfortable. He started to doze, and given who was on their way to see Daisy, it was best that he stayed asleep.


    The bell jingled, signalling a newcomer. The person was an older man, perhaps somewhere in his early 50s. He was well dressed with a nice pair of slacks that looked freshly ironed, a pressed white shirt, and a black blazer. He wore no tie or cuffs, but his shoes were polished and well equipped to handle the dirty floor of the flower shop. His head was bald, and his eyes were a gentle shade of green.

    Those eyes were currently inspecting all the bright flowers, the petals that seemed to shine even under the artificial light. All of the plants were beautiful, and not a single dead leaf in any pot. There were even some rare and exotic plants that were still alive and well, despite being out of their natural element.

    This girl was certainly good at what she did... a little too good.

    The man walked up and down every available spot, smelling some flowers and picking up others. The radio was blaring some classic oldies, and the girl - wherever she was - had yet to emerge. The man picked up a pre-arranged bouquet of bright pink roses and walked to the counter, clearing his throat loudly to garner the attention of whoever was around.
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  16. Her eyes flickered up to the archway at the tinkle of the doorbell going, the undeniable announcement of another customer. However, Daisy didn't go immediately since she knew it wasn't someone there to pick up an order. They would need some time to look around, pick out something they liked or perhaps decided on a bunch of different flowers to create a bouquet.

    Daisy continued to work for a moment longer, focused on her task as she caressed the petals gently and wound the silver ribbon carefully around the rich green stems. The higher volume in the radio masked her soothing words to the bouquet of vibrant Forget-Me-Nots, one of her personal favourites, and she was soon picking up the other bouquets she had done earlier that day in one hand whilst another took greedy helping of her latest mug of sweet tea.

    The cough was in good timing, as she exited the back room just as he was done clearing his throat. Daisy forced a pleasant smile onto her lips, daintily placing the flowers in hand on the counter beside her. "Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to Mother Earth Florist."

    After James' visits, and his two hasty retreats, Daisy had wondered if she ought to better herself with customer care and her behaviour toward them. She knew they kept coming back, but noticed that the increase in online sales rather than people coming in to place an order. Perhaps she ought to make...more of an effort with being more friendly with people. It wasn't as if she had to open her heart to them. They were strangers, and a simple smile and amiable atmosphere was all that was needed.


    "Is that all you'll be wanting today, sir?" She inquired as she rung up his purchase, smile still firmly in place, "We have a lovely collection of vases on offer, or I've just recently had a gorgeous batch of Bamboo Orchid's come in just this morning." Daisy peered back up to him, eyes flickering over him briefly.

    He looked like a man who did well for himself. Not filthy rich but with enough money to not really feel any pinch to his pocket. Smartly-dressed, she wondered if he had his clothes taken out because surely no one at home was that good with an iron to get every single crease out.
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  17. The man took his time in inspecting her as she walked out. Barefoot, dirty, messy hair. It didn't give off the best impression, but she worked in a flower shop, so perhaps she was just adding to the aesthetic. Whatever the case was, she was pretty and a little too young to be owning such a successful business. He wasn't even from around here, but word of Mother Earth Florist and the woman who had such beautiful flowers had traveled far. Perhaps a little too far, given her kind's habit of trying to hide.

    As Daisy spoke, he searched her face, watching that smile. It looked as fake as some of her flowers with how fresh they stayed. They were all quite real, for he'd taken the time to look most of them over. No flower shop could get away with selling fake flowers unless they wanted their business run into the ground.

    "Ah, no, but thank you, dear," he answered, giving her his own smile. It didn't sit quite well on his face no matter how soft his gaze was. "My wife has plenty of vases at home." He chuckled as he flipped his wallet from his coat pocket. He handed her a stack of small bills, though it was surely enough to pay for the flowers.

    "You really do have a lovely place here. It must be hard to maintain all these flowers without any growth stimulants. At least, I don't see any around here. What's your secret?"
  18. Smiling at his answer, Daisy merely nodded and went to work in making sure the flowers would hold and were wrapped up as nicely as possible. "So these are for your wife? I'm sure she'll appreciate you bringing her flowers home." She tried to continue with the small talk as she took his money, seeing that there was a hell of a lot there. Clearing her throat, she began to get his change, wondering what else to say next.

    Small talk or pleasantries were not exactly her strong suit. It wasn't exactly something she had enough practice in, and she didn't usually want to practice it...but now Daisy was wishing she tried harder.

    Daisy froze as she was handing his money back over to him, his question throwing her and making her a little nervous. Clearing her throat, Daisy quickly shook off her nerves to force another smile in his direction. "Now that would be telling, sir. I can't have anyone knowing just what I do to keep my flowers as lovely as you say they are." Daisy answered lightly, gently placing the flowers and the money back down in front of him.

    "Just love, sunshine and water. Not to mention some extra feed in with that water." She then proceeded to tell her little while lie anyway, not wanting to act too suspicious. But then why would she be suspicious to this man? He was just a normal, regular man. He wasn't something ridiculous like 'The Flower Police' now, was he?
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  19. The man was more than patient with her as she spilled her small talk out. Maybe she was better at talking to flowers; flora seemed to be her specialty anyway. Who needed people when you had plants? Perhaps that should have been the name of her shop.

    Still, he smiled as she handed him his change, even giving a little chuckle at her quick words. His job required him to be keen on just about everything, and he hadn't missed her tense grip on the dollar bills as she was counting them. She didn't like to be prodded about even trivial things and she wasn't very good at making conversation with others. They were classic, almost cliche signs that someone was trying to hide, but she hadn't been convicted of anything yet. He'd have to do more research on her and her shop. She was one of their more mysterious targets, and they couldn't do much without making sure she was who they thought she was.

    "Well, hopefully my wife can follow those instructions to make sure these flowers stay alive longer than a day or so," he said with a teasing smile. Picking up the flowers and pocketing his change, he continued, "Have a good day, miss." He didn't ask her name or anything more about her. He simply turned around and left, the jingle marking his exit.


    About ten minutes later, James woke himself up by accidentally snoozing on his steering wheel and pressing the horn. It startled him awake, and after realizing it had been his own fault, he sighed and pushed his head into the headrest once more. He couldn't avoid Daisy unless he chose to pull out of the parking lot, but for once, his mother had asked for something using her words, so he was going to give it to her. Ever since he'd given her the first bouquet, she'd swooned over the flower (even if they hadn't been yellow). She had mentioned even going to the flower shop herself, but James knew that was out of the question. She had hardly worked up the courage to step out on his small balcony, so traveling by herself somewhere wouldn't work.

    Forcing himself out of his car, he smoothed the crumpled list over the hood just to try and make it look like he hadn't crushed it. He ran a hand through his mussed hair, succeeding in only flattening a few locks on the side and ruining the style that had been there that morning. He really wasn't much for appearances since he tended to go everywhere still dirty from his work at Marie's ranch. He only ever permanently wore the checkered scarf in a variety of places on his person. Today, it was tied around his left wrist, the ends tucked under the rest so it looked more like a bracelet.

    As he entered Mother Earth, his first glance wasn't at the counter. Instead, it was at the list in his hand. The names were a little hard to read with the flattened out creases, but he knew what they were. Instead of going to the front, he moved down one of the aisles and crouched, eyes searching for simple yellow or white flowers to match the ones his mother actually wanted. Maybe some other color went with yellow, but he wasn't a color expert by any means. He pushed himself to his feet, scanning the top shelves with ease.
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