Part II: Two Hearts Collide
Pairings: Kíli/Bilbo, minor Gimli/Legolas
Word Count: 8386 (16,740 so far)Disclaimer: If I owned the hobbit, I wouldn't have to write fanfic
Summary: Coffee Shop AU. Kili starts working in his uncle Thorin's café to earn some cash while he's in college. Bilbo owns the flower shop next door and comes in every day at the same time for tea and a muffin. Flirting and romance ensue.
Part I: First Impressions
Then one morning, Bilbo walked into Cafe Erebor and things did not go their normal way. First Thorin was standing behind the counter in conversation with his nephew and when the older man saw the florist, he muttered something something which made Kíli blush. The younger man looked up and met Bilbo's eyes but instead of smiling like usual, he simply flushed deeper, cheeks turning an adorable deep scarlet that caused the other to walk into a chair.
By the time the florist managed to right himself and the furniture, the Durins had finished their conversation and Kíli was shoving his uncle towards the far tables in the corner. “-yourself useful and I'll do this my way,” The younger finished as Bilbo reached the counter, giving Thorin one last push and then turning to the florist with an apologetic grin.
“Sorry about that.” Kíli said, ringing up Bilbo's standard order before filling another sample cup. However, instead of handing it to the florist as he always had before, the younger man hesitated, eyes flicking over to where his uncle stood, and then he downed the cup himself.
What the hell? “You just drank my coffee.” Bilbo said, mouth hanging open in surprise. It's not fair to change the rules on me now. I was just starting to get the hang of this.
“Yes, I did. What are you going to do about it?” Kíli replied with a smirk, regaining his normal composure even as his words caused the florist to lose his quite completely. Indeed, the older man just stood there frozen, his mouth hanging open in shock, until the barista finally asked: “Well, are you going to try this new flavor of coffee or not?”
It took Bilbo a moment to realize exactly what the other meant but when he did, he thought, you know what, screw propriety, before leaning across the counter and kissing Kíli for all that he was worth.
The younger man's lips were just as soft as he'd imagined and when the florist finally drew back, the entire cafe burst into cheers as his cheeks flushed with heat. But it was hard to worry about embarrassment when Kíli was smiling at him like that, bright and happy and Bilbo whispered, “I suppose some coffee tastes all right,” against the barista's mouth.
He simply laughed in response, saying: “I told you that I'd find one,” and when he leaned in again, Bilbo did not resist. The second kiss was as sweet as the first, the younger man sighing softly into the florist's lips as he pressed closer, and it was only Thorin's amused voice that finally pulled them apart.
“Take a break, nephew. I can manage on my own for a bit while the two of you sort yourselves out.” Kíli nodded quickly, taking off his apron and rushing around the counter before his uncle could change his mind. He held his hand out to Bilbo and when the florist took it, he led him toward the back of the cafe.
The regular customers sent them off with one last round of applause and the older man had to blush again at the thought of how invested all of them seemed in his burgeoning relationship. But as the door swung shut behind them, those worries were replaced with a more immediate wonder when Kíli leaned in to kiss him once more. Bilbo couldn't believe that this was finally happening, but no matter how the florist blinked, the sight before him didn't change, and an exhilarating joy grew in his chest as the young man cupped his cheek.
“So I guess I should actually say it, shouldn't I? Bilbo, would you like to go on a date with me?” Kíli asked with another grin and while the florist knew exactly what his answer would be, he paused for a long moment just to make the other sweat. Serves him right for all the anxiety he's caused me.
Only once a hint of uncertainty replaced the smugness in the barista's eyes did Bilbo relent and give him a smile of his own. “I would love to.” He said softly, lacing their fingers together. “But why did you finally ask today?”
“You can blame my uncle for that.” Kíli told him with an slightly embarrassed laugh. “This morning he said that he was tired of watching us dance around each other and if I didn't get my act together, he would do it for me.”
“That's slightly terrifying.” Bilbo replied, the idea of Thorin asking him out in his nephew's place making him twitch violently. “But I should probably thank him anyway because I was starting to think we were never going to make it here.”
The barista laughed again and pasted a look of mock offense upon his face. “Hey I would have managed it on my own eventually. Well probably.” He shrugged, putting the thought from his mind as he wrapped an arm around Bilbo's shoulders. “So when should I pick you up?”
“Pick me up? You already know where we're going?” The florist asked in bemusement. “Do I not get a say?”
“Of course you do... next time.” Kíli promised with a wink. “Trust me. I've been planning this for awhile and I have the perfect surprise in mind. So does Friday work for you?”
“Oh all right.” Bilbo gave in. Not like I have any ideas and this sounds like it should be fun. Besides, he's adorable when he's excited. “But you're feeding me dinner too, so give me your phone number and I'll call you with my address when I get home. Pick me up at six thirty.”
“It's a date.” The younger man said, kissing the florist on his cheek before grabbing a pen and writing his number on his hand. “Now I should get back to work before uncle gets annoyed.”
When they slipped back through the door, most of the customers from that morning's show had moved on to other things, so only Thorin gave their reappearance any mind. When he nodded at them in amusement, the florist mouthed his thanks and then finally grabbed his tea and headed back next door.
Bilbo spent the rest of the afternoon humming to himself as he arranged bouquets and advised apologetic husbands on their wives' favorite flowers. Though he got a few odd looks and old Mrs. Stranthenberg asked what had him so happy, the florist simply could not stop smiling, and he wasn't sure that he really wanted to stop anyway. His smile only grew when Kíli came in to give him one more kiss before heading off to class and the florist whistled while he waited for the bus to take him home.
Over the next few days Bilbo's phone rang more than it had in years and the florist started to wonder if he should actually get one of those mobiles that Gandalf was often on about. Although he had always refused before because he rather liked being unreachable sometimes, anything that would allow him to contact Kíli more often was starting to seem like a fantastic thing to have. For while they never talked about anything too important, the older man found that it was rather nice to have someone with whom to share his thoughts, someone who simply cared about how his day had gone.
Their routine changed little otherwise, though they added kisses to their greetings and when Kíli was on his breaks, he often walked over to the florist's shop to chat. However, it was their coming date which filled Bilbo with flustered anticipation and he prayed desperately that the night would go well.
On Friday morning, Bilbo woke up with a stomach full of butterflies and as soon as he could manage it, the florist ducked into Cafe Erebor to try and find out what he should expect. However, Kíli wouldn't tell him anything, simply laughing and swearing that his lips were sealed, before distracting the other man from his questions with a kiss.
Out of desperation, Bilbo even attempted to grill Thorin, but the barista's uncle just looked at him and smirked. “You'll have fun, I promise.” He said, before handing the florist another cup of tea and shoving him out of the door. “Try not to worry too hard.”
It was good advice but hard to follow, and so when the evening rolled around, Bilbo was afire with nerves. In fact he found himself quite unable to sit still, changing his outfit again and again until forcibly reminding himself that Kíli had never seemed to mind his casual clothes before. But the florist didn't have too much time to work himself into a frenzy because at precisely half-past six, his date knocked on the door and as soon as Bilbo opened it, he had other things on his mind.
“I- I- What are you wearing?” He stuttered, hard-won composure utterly destroyed by the sight of Kíli, who was decked out in far too much leather for his peace of mind. It was positively criminal how anyone could look that good and it took a great deal of will-power for the florist to keep his eyes fixed on the barista's face.
“It's nothing special,” The younger man replied, honest confusion in his voice, although he did preen slightly beneath Bilbo's admiring gaze. “Just the leathers for my bike. You know, safety first and all that. Are you ready to go?”
“Uh, yes, ready, I'm ready. I just need to grab my coat.” He stuttered in reply, eventually managing to stop drooling long enough to think again. “...wait, did you say bike?”
“Yeah, my motorcycle.” Kíli told him, waving one arm toward the driveway and now that Bilbo was looking he could see a gleaming silver motorcycle parked right by his porch. “Isn't she beautiful,” his date sighed and while the florist did have to agree with the sentiment, his thoughts were more focused on how close together they were about to be.
Valar give me strength to survive this fantasy. He prayed, grabbing his coat, locking the door behind him, and following the younger man down his front steps. Kíli handed the florist a helmet and put on his own before hopping astride his bike, gesturing for Bilbo to get on behind him.
“Watch the side-bags,” The barista told him as he swung a leg over the seat and settled himself gingerly, trying not to touch his date too closely. He was just so tempting wrapped in all that leather, but Bilbo refused to throw himself at Kíli before their first date had even started. However, his restraint was sorely tested when the other man looked over his shoulder with an elated grin.
“Better hold on,” He warned, snapping his visor shut and revving his engine, the purr of the bike vibrating all the way from the florist's head to toes. Then they were moving and Bilbo had to wrap his arms tight around Kíli's waist to keep from falling off. While the speed startled him at first, the longer they drove without crashing in a fiery inferno, the more the florist began to relax and enjoy the ride.
It was a beautiful evening, the air crisp and cool as it rushed by, though with Kíli pressed in a long line of heat against his chest, Bilbo was far from being cold. He knew his face must be burning furiously, but as long as no one else could see it, the florist didn't feel embarrassed, so he just rested his chin on the younger man's shoulder and watched the cars go by.
The pair was heading toward the outskirts of town and they drove for about twenty minutes before the motorcycle pulled up in front of a elegant old building. Bilbo hopped off and looked around while Kíli parked his bike, and to his surprise, he recognized exactly where they were.
“This is the planetarium, isn't it?” He said, turning to his date and raising an eyebrow. “I haven't been here in ages. But didn't it close an hour ago? I hope your plan doesn't include breaking and entering.”
“Closed is a relative term,” Kíli replied, taking the other man's helmet before grabbing a basket and a blanket out of the saddlebag on his bike. “But no, we're not doing anything illegal, I swear. One of my cousins works here and owes me a favor, so he promised to let us in. Now come on, this will be fun.”
He grabbed Bilbo's free hand gently and pulled him toward a side door, knocking on it impatiently until someone shouted something indecipherable from inside. Kíli backed up as the door swung open to reveal an enormous man, tall and broad and glaring fiercely, and he looked nothing like the astronomer that the florist had been expecting. Indeed the man looked far more like a criminal, but just when Bilbo was wondering if he should fear for his life, the man's craggy face split into a giant grin and he pulled Kíli into a hug.
“It's good to see you, you daft bugger. Still haven't learned any patience have you?” He said cheerfully while squashing the younger man against his chest and ruffling his hair. Kíli protested this encroachment mightily and Bilbo had to stifle a spasm of giggles at the sight of his wildly waving arms.
Absolutely adorable. He thought with a smile and it was nice to know that someone could throw the younger man off kilter just like the barista always did to him. Though eventually a snicker escaped and the cousin turned those dark eyes on Bilbo, who felt his shoulders straightening beneath that appraising gaze.
But he just smirked at the florist's reaction and muttered to Kíli, “So this is the one who has you all tied up in knots. Aren't you going to introduce us?”
“Well I was going to, Mister Dwalin, before you decided to strangle me instead.” The younger man replied as he extricated himself from his cousin's embrace and straightened his clothes with a huff. Once Kíli had regained a bit of his composure, he hooked his hand back through the florist's arm and drew him forward. “May I present my date, Bilbo Baggins. And this is Dwalin Fundinson, one of my many cousins. He works here as a guard.”
Bilbo reached out and shook the other man's hand, relieved when Dwalin didn't try to squeeze his fingers or any other stupid test of strength like some of his cousins always used to do. Instead, he just shook firmly twice and then opened the door wider to usher the pair inside.
While the florist still wasn't entirely sure about the legality of this, no one was likely to report them when the guard was on their side, and his curiosity was fast overcoming his remaining reservations. So he looked around in interest as Dwalin spread his arms and welcomed them to his domain, the arched ceiling of the planetarium rising high above their heads. In the low light of after hours, the exhibits seemed almost mysterious and Bilbo began to remember how much he had loved this place when he was young.
“All right, have fun you two. Just remember my shift is over at eleven so you have to be out by then.” Dwalin told them as he led the pair into the projection theater. “And if you need any help just let me know.”
Kíli thanked his cousin sincerely as he closed the door behind him, and then the younger man drew Bilbo toward the central stage. He lay down his blanket and gestured for the florist to make himself comfortable while he went to fiddle with the podium and finally the other simply had to ask.
“Not that this isn't neat, but what exactly are we doing here? And you did promise to feed me you know.”
“That's what the basket is for.” Kíli told him and the older man had to resist the immediate urge to peek under the lid. He had been one of those kids who always wanted to know what was inside his presents early and he was no different now.
However, Bilbo managed to resist his curiosity for the moment, figuring that he should at least let his date do the honors, and he was distracted from the temptation when Kíli continued. “As for the rest, you'll see in a moment. As soon as I get this... where is... ah, there we go.”
Suddenly the ceiling exploded with light, the universe expanding all around them and Bilbo was so captivated by the stars shooting past that he the barely noticed when the other man sat back down beside him. After a few moments, the projection settled into a perfect image of their night sky, each constellation picked out in silver lights and it was almost as if he was out in the wilderness, stargazing with his parents once again.
“It's beautiful,” he sighed, leaning against Kíli's shoulder and the younger man's voice was almost hesitant when he replied.
“So you like it then?” He asked softly and once Bilbo turned to look at his face, he was warmed by the hint of uncertainty he saw.
“Yes I do. This is perfect.” The florist responded and Kíli's expression lightened in relief.
“Oh, good. I thought you might prefer seeing real stars, but there's so much light from the city around here that you can't see anything and I promised you dinner, not a ten mile hike. Though sometime I'll have to take you out to my family's place in the countryside because the stars there are amazing, so bright you could almost reach out and pluck them from the sky. But, um, yeah. So I did promise you food, didn't I?” He blushed as he realized that he was babbling and turned to open his basket, but before he could, Bilbo leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank you. I appreciate the amount of thought and nervousness that you put into this.” He said with a smile while the younger man looked back at him quizzically. “Well of course I did, you're worth the effort, you know. And you're happy that I was nervous? Why?”
“Because it means you cared enough to worry. I like confidence as much as the next guy but it's nice to know that you aren't assuming you have me all figured out. I hate it when people assume they know exactly what I want.” He had had a few too many boyfriends who had done exactly that, planned his life out for him as though he were little more than an accessory to theirs.
Kíli was obviously surprised by his vehemence, but after a moment, his face softened and he clasped his hands gently around Bilbo's. “All right then, I think I can manage that. The way you keep surprising me, I don't think I'll have the chance to get complacent, but please tell me if I get too enthusiastic for your tastes. I know I can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, although I'd like to reserve the right to surprise you now and then.”
“That will be just fine and I like your enthusiasm, I promise. I don't mind being taken along for the ride as long as I get to pick the direction from time to time.” Bilbo was quick to reassure him because he didn't want old wounds to ruin this happiness he'd found. Besides, while the other did tend to bowl him over through his sheer presence, he never felt as though Kíli was taking him for granted or forgetting he was there. Rather it was more that the younger man thought the world was beautiful and wanted to share every little detail which caught his eye.
Though he can hardly drag me off my feet if we're running side by side, can he? And this is a journey that I want to take. But enough seriousness for now. Indeed, Bilbo was sitting beneath a gorgeous starry sky with a picnic and a handsome young man on his arm and he planned to enjoy it while he could.
“That said, I think it's time for dinner. So what exactly did you bring?” He asked brightly and Kíli accepted the subject change without a fight, opening his basket to begin laying out their spread. When he was done, there was a little bit of everything there for them to try, complete with actual plates, silverware and wine.
So for awhile there was no more talking, just the clinks of forks and glasses and the occasional delighted moan on Bilbo's part. Kíli had managed to find all of his favorite foods, or at least the ones that went together well, and the florist was nearly bursting by the time he lay down his plate with a sign of satisfaction. He eyed the last bit of white chocolate mousse for awhile before admitting that there really was no way that he could finish it, although this didn't stop him from feeling jealous when Kíli swiped it up.
I don't know whether I want to be him or that finger. Bilbo thought, watching the younger man lap the dessert off his hand and he quickly changed the subject in an attempt to hide his blush. “So, um, did you do all this yourself? It's quite an impressive spread.”
“Well, I could say yes, but that would be a lie. I can barely boil water.” Kíli told him with a laugh. “Another one of my cousins is studying to be a chef and I promised to help him move in exchange for this.”
“Well you can tell him that he's fantastic because I haven't had a meal like that in ages. Although, exactly how many cousins do you have?” He wondered idly as he lay his head in the younger man's lap and looked up at the stars. “I think you've mentioned at least four already.”
“It's actually a weird quirk of my family.” The barista explained, stroking a gentle hand through Bilbo's hair. “Technically I only have two cousins, but my brother and I also count all of Thorin's because it's too complicated to keep track of the different generations whenever the whole gang is hanging out. So I guess that adds in another five and we include the brothers Ri as well, even though I'm not actually sure how they're connected to the rest.”
“That sounds nice.” Bilbo murmured, wishing that his family could be as close as Kíli's sounded. “But speaking of cousins, Dwalin didn't seem all that surprised to see me. Have you told everyone about us already?”
“Well not exactly.” The other said sheepishly. “I mean I told my mum and my brother, and uncle already knew, of course. But I'm pretty sure the rest of the family has heard all about you because even though he doesn't look like it, uncle Thorin is a total gossip.” The florist gave him a wide-eyed stare at this news and the younger man continued quickly to take the worry from his eyes. “No, really, this is good thing, I swear. Uncle likes you so I'm sure he's only been complimentary and this way everyone gets to grill him instead of us. So hopefully by the time you meet everybody, they'll have gotten over their need to hover like a bunch of loons.”
The thought of meeting Kíli's entire family was mildly terrifying considering the way he tended to describe them, but at the same time it was nice to know that the younger man was thinking that far ahead. And it was nice to know that he saw nothing odd about bringing home a boyfriend, which was a hopeful sign for how his relatives might react.
Certainly better than mine did. Bilbo thought with a melancholy sigh. Though to be honest, that isn't hard. By this point it was nearing eleven, so he sat up to help Kíli repack their meal and soon the barista had him smiling once more.
He was just so incorrigibly happy that it was contagious and their work went by quickly, even interspersed with kisses as it was. On the way out, the younger man told him to wait by the door and went over to the podium again, saying that he wanted to show Bilbo something else before they left.
So Kíli pressed a few more buttons and then the skies opened up, virtual rain pouring down the walls. He ran back to the older man's side to wrap an arm around him just as the thunder started, a deep and echoing rumble from speakers high above.
And then the lightning came. Streaks of electricity flashing across the darkness of the ceiling and painting patterns against the lids of Bilbo's eyes. It was glorious, an endless chain of white lightning crackling in a latticework upon the sky, and it took the florist back to his fondest memories of watching storms with his mother on the porch. So he hugged Kíli tighter and blinked the tears back from his eyes, because the barista did not know what a gift this truly was.
Or perhaps he did. “One more good memory to keep you warm,” The younger man whispered when it had ended and Bilbo was nearly floating with joy as Dwalin led them out. He waved farewell to his cousin before hopping up on the motorcycle behind Kíli once again, wrapping his arms tightly around the young man's waist.
Their return trip seemed to take no time at all or maybe the florist simply didn't want it to be over, since he was flushed with food and warmth and happiness. But the younger man pulled up in front of his house soon enough and Bilbo had to say goodbye.
Kíli walked him to his door and kissed him goodnight, though when the barista turned to leave, the older man caught his arm. “Do you want to come in?” He muttered, somewhat startled by his own forwardness, and he blushed furiously when the other caught his eye.
“Do you want me to come in?” The younger man asked in return, reaching out to stroke Bilbo's cheek and the florist didn't know what he should say. He was hardly inexperienced but somehow this relationship felt different and he just didn't know if he was ready to cross that line again. So Bilbo hemmed and hawed and finally admitted the truth.
“I don't know,” He said with a helpless shrug, yet to his surprise Kíli didn't seem annoyed by his indecisiveness. Instead the barista just leaned forward and kissed him with a smile. “Then not yet. But I will see my boyfriend tomorrow if he doesn't mind?”
“Boyfriend? I like the sound of that.” Bilbo replied, something in his chest easing at the other's casual acceptance of his hesitance. “Give me a call in the morning?”
“Of course. I'll talk to you then.” The younger man promised, giving him one last kiss before walking down the front steps with a wave. Then Kíli got back on his motorcycle and drove off with a roar of the engine, Bilbo watching him until he disappeared into the darkness of the night. Once he had disappeared, the florist slipped inside and shut his door, leaning back against it with a sigh. I am so far gone. He thought, sliding to the floor and wrapping his arms around his knees as a silly grin spread across his face. I am absolutely twitterpated and it feels fine.
As he had promised, Kíli called him early the next morning and the sound of his voice brought Bilbo's smile back full force. They talked for nearly an hour before the florist had to go to work and the younger man promised to stop by between classes if he could.
The thought of seeing his boyfriend later on, - boyfriend! - kept the older man grinning through three difficult customers and one romantic meltdown on the part of a husband who was late for his anniversary and refused to believe that there were no white roses to be found. However, Bilbo eventually managed to convince him that his wife would appreciate gardenias far more than waiting another hour and he was ushering the man out of the door when Kíli rode up.
“You're early, love.” The florist called out in greeting, his words dissolving into startled laughter as the younger man swept him into his arms. Kíli swung him around twice before setting Bilbo back on his feet and planting a quick kiss on his lips. “Well I just couldn't wait to see you. That's not a problem, is it?” His boyfriend asked, a hint of mischief in his eyes.
“Don't worry, I'm not complaining.” The older man replied with a smile of his own. “But I think we just scandalized Mrs. Gertrude across the street.” He continued, giving a cheerful wave to the old woman who was standing in her window and staring at them with mouth agape.
Kíli took one glance at her and started giggling madly, gasping out apologies between his howls of mirth. “Sorry, sorry. I just... did you see her face?” The younger man cackled as his boyfriend drew him inside the store. Though once she was out of sight, he settled down quickly, hopping on the stool behind the counter to watch the florist work.
As much as Bilbo would have liked to ignore his job and hang out with the barista for a few hours, he simply couldn't afford to take the time off right now. However, Kíli didn't seem to mind if he made bouquets while they talked and to the florist's surprise, his female customers nearly doubled in the time that the younger man was there.
It was rather ridiculous the way women kept walking by, glancing in the window and doing double-takes before rushing inside the store. His boyfriend wasn't even dressed like an employee, so the first time someone leaned over the counter with a sultry smile and asked Kíli about his favorite flower, the barista just stared at her nonplussed. After a moment, he glanced over at Bilbo who shrugged and mouthed, 'sell her some orchids'. Considering that the woman was definitely more interested in his man than his flowers, the florist figured he might as well give her the most expensive ones he had.
Besides she looked like she could afford it and when she didn't even blink at the price, Bilbo knew that he was right. As soon as the woman left the store, Kíli broke into another fit of giggles and asked, “What the heck was that about? I probably could have sold her anything.”
“Some women like guys who like flowers.” The older man replied with a smirk. “Though your pretty face probably didn't hurt. Just remember who you're dating here.”
“I'm not pretty, I'm handsome.” His boyfriend retorted before leaning in for another kiss. “But don't worry, no well-dressed business woman is going to steal me away. No matter how rich she may be.”
Considering the number of women and odd man who tried to slip Kíli their numbers over the next few hours, from college freshman to octogenarians, it was good that Bilbo wasn't really the jealous type. He probably should be given his history, but if his past heartbreak had taught the florist anything, it was that cheaters would do their thing no matter what. In any case, the younger man was too innocently amused at his customers' flirtations to be taking them seriously and Bilbo didn't think his trust was misplaced.
So the florist stood back and watched the show, only intervening when one of his regulars arrived. Frankly Kíli was in his element, convincing these people to buy the fanciest bouquets with little more than a joke and a smile, and no left unsatisfied. Though some of these customers pushed it a little far.
While Bilbo could understand their interest since his boyfriend was ridiculously gorgeous and he certainly appreciated the extra money, if Mrs. Remington moved her hand any higher, there were going to be problems. However, Kíli must have been able to hear his teeth grinding from across the shop because the younger man detached himself carefully.
“Excuse me, ma'am,” He said, smiling politely as he backed away. “But I need to talk to my boyfriend for a moment. It is his shop after all.”
“Boyfriend? Are you sure about that?” She asked, lips curling down in a moue of disappointment. But when the younger man nodded firmly, Mrs. Remington conceded the point and wandered next door to drown her sorrows in an expensive frappucino.
“Well this has been an interesting experience.” Kíli said, wrapping an arm around Bilbo's waist and pressing a kiss against his hair. “Unfortunately I do actually have to go back to class today.”
“If you must, I'll let you go for now.” The florist sighed before grinning cheekily. “Though the ladies are going to be severely disappointed.”
“Well they'll just have to live with the frustration because I have a boyfriend already and I'm rather fond of him.” The younger man replied in that ridiculously sweet way of his. “Besides, most of those women were nuts so I may have to stick to coffee from now on.”
“Fair enough.” The florist agreed, escorting his boyfriend out the door. “Have a good time at class and I'll call you later; hopefully by then I'll have figured out what our next date will be.”
“I'm looking forward to it.” Kíli called as he drove off with a wave and Bilbo ducked into Cafe Erebor for a quick drink before continuing his work. Bombur was there again, taking his order with a knowing smile and the florist decided that the younger man must have been right about Thorin's gossiping. However, the redhead seemed to be happy for them and hopefully the rest of Kíli's relatives would feel the same.
The remainder of the day wasn't nearly as entertaining now that the younger man had left, so the florist had plenty of time to plan out what they should do. His boyfriend had set the bar high with their first date and Bilbo wasn't going to try to top him in ingenuity.
Instead he decided on something entertaining, something a little more lighthearted than their last one, which is how the pair found themselves whirling around on roller skates a few evenings later. Going to the rink might be a cliché but the smile on Kíli's face was worth it and it had been a long time since the older man had allowed himself to let loose like that. They joked and laughed and spun around like idiots and all told it was a very satisfying day.
From then on the couple went on at least a few dates a week, ranging from sweet and emotional to silly fun. Kíli took them hiking and bicycling when he wasn't surprising Bilbo with cooking classes and the florist managed a few surprises of his own.
Once the younger man got his archery club started, the florist came to watch him practice and if he hadn't already thought his boyfriend was the sexiest thing he'd ever seen, this would have sealed the deal. He was beautiful in his concentration, the serious cast a sharp contrast to his normal cheer, and Bilbo had always liked men who were good with their hands.
Watching him shoot, the older man wondered if he was being stupid by making them wait because at the moment, he wanted nothing more than to feel those clever fingers on his skin. However, the time never felt quite right and this was one area where his past had scarred him deep.
Yet with every day they spent together, the florist felt his heart grow a little softer and while Kíli would steal kisses whenever possible, he never pressed for more.
Several weeks later the couple was finishing up another date, if you could call it that when they had simply curled up on Bilbo's sofa to watch old black and white movies in the dark. Casablanca had just ended and the florist was contemplating getting up when his boyfriend spoke with a false air of casualness, “So there's something I've been meaning to ask you.”
“Oh? What kind of something?” The older man replied warily, preparing for the worst. Conversations which started like this rarely meant anything good and although Bilbo tried to sound unaffected, he couldn't keep from tensing against Kíli's side.
His boyfriend frowned down at him in confusion for a second, before his eyes widened in sudden understanding. “What, no, don't freak out. Everything's fine, really,” The younger man promised fervently as he wrapped the florist more tightly in his arms. “Shit I should have phrased this better; I've just been thinking about it for awhile and wasn't sure if you'd say yes.”
“Say yes to what exactly?” Bilbo asked again, not quite ready to let his doubts disappear even while he let the younger man pull him closer.
“Oh, well see. Uncle's birthday is next week and I know the two of you are friends so I was wondering if you would want to come to the party. I mean I'll have to make an appearance either way but I'd like to introduce you to everyone if you're willing. The whole family will be there,” Kíli explained in a somewhat convoluted ramble, looking at the other earnestly.
“You want me to meet your relatives?” The florist wasn't sure if he should be terrified or flattered by the suggestion, but at least he could stop waiting for a worse blow to fall. Truthfully it meant a lot that the other man cared about him enough to ask and so maybe it was time to take another chance.
“Only if you're comfortable, of course.” His boyfriend continued, backtracking slightly when Bilbo had been staring at him silently for awhile. “If you don't want to face the crowd I totally understand but maybe you could still meet my mum and brother later on?” The younger man looked so hopeful and there was no way that the florist could resist those enormous pleading eyes.
How can I refuse him this when he's been so patient with me? It's not like he's asking something terrible, Bilbo thought and the way that Kíli beamed when he agreed was worth any nervousness.
Though when the florist found himself standing on Thorin's doorstep, this truth seemed rather far away and he gripped his boyfriend's hand tightly for support. He hadn't been expecting the house to be quite so large and intimidating, and if Bilbo survived this evening, he was going to ask Kíli just what Thorin used to do. However, first he had to actually survive the other's family and the florist had to fight to keep the friendly smile on his face as the front door swung open on a cacophony of sound.
“Kíli! You're here and you brought your boy!” A voice cried out exuberantly and a second later, Bilbo was pulled into a hug. He didn't even have a chance to register who was talking before his face was mashed into their chest and it would be entirely unfair if the whole family was this tall.
Though his nervous irritation was overwhelmed by the urge to giggle when the florist heard his boyfriend whine, “Mum! Do you have to do that? You're going to chase him off.”
“Nonsense.” She retorted sternly, though she did at least draw back far enough for Bilbo to breathe. “If he were that easy to spook, he never would have lasted this long. I'm your mother remember, I know what you're like. Now introduce us, will you?”
“Fine.” Kíli conceded, drawing his boyfriend back to his side with a huff. “Bilbo meet my mum, Desmonda Prince. Mother, this is Bilbo Baggins of Baggins' Bouquets.”
“Durin dear, I went back to my maiden name, remember? But it's good to finally meet you in person Bilbo, I've heard so much about you.” Desmonda said, giving the florist a brilliant smile, and he could see where Kíli got it from. In fact, now that he could see her face, the similarity was striking for mother and son could have been twins if not separated by gender and age. She certainly managed to match his overwhelming glee. “Do call me Dís though, everyone does.”
Does everyone in this family go by some weird nickname? The florist wondered with amusement as he tried to find his voice. “Um, all right, ma'am. Uh, Dís. It's nice to meet you too.”
“Aww, isn't he sweet.” Dís replied, reaching out to pinch his cheeks before sweeping her son into a hug of his own. “Now come inside and meet everyone else so we can get this party started.”
What followed was a whirlwind of names and faces and it wasn't long before Bilbo was completely lost. There were Balin and Bifur and Dori and Dáin; Ori and Bofur and Glóin and another Thorin who went by Helmut for a reason that was never quite explained. The sheer mass of people was rather astonishing and the only thing they seemed to have in common was that their names were baffling and their grins were wide.
At least no one appeared to hate him since with every introduction, the florist was drawn into hugs or handshakes as Kíli's relatives offered their congratulations on making it this far. Even the more familiar faces like Dwalin and Bombur winked and mouthed 'good job' from across the room. Honestly, it seemed like an odd thing to be supportive of since it made his boyfriend sound undateable, but perhaps they were simply happy that he hadn't run screaming yet. Because Thorin had been right about his family and some of them did make Kíli seem practically comatose.
Considering the rest of his boyfriend's relatives, his brother was surprisingly restrained, shaking Bilbo's hand with a crooked grin and accepting his double-take in stride. The florist hadn't meant to be rude, but the two young men were as different as night and day and given how much Kíli looked like his mother, he hadn't been expecting that. The well-muscled blond before him might as well have been a changeling in comparison.
“I look like our father,” Fíli explained cheerfully, “It made for some difficult years when we were younger, but considering this lot, it's kind of nice to be the only blond. If nothing else it makes it easier to pretend that I don't know him when he's being embarrassing.”
Kíli reacted to this taunt in true little brother fashion and the florist watched the impromptu scuffle with delight. For all their differences in appearance, Kíli and Fíli were alike in other ways, and he could see their relation when they fought.
“Hopeless aren't they?” Someone asked at Bilbo's side and he turned to see a redheaded teenager grinning up at him. “I'm Gimli, son of Glóin over there. Those two brats are my cousins.”
Over the course of the ensuing conversation, the florist discovered that Gimli was the one who had put together their stargazing picnic and took this chance to express his sincere appreciation. From there it didn't take long for the two to became lost in comparing their favorite recipes, and it was obvious that the redhead was quite skilled despite his age.
“I'm in the culinary program at UH with my boyfriend right now,” The teen explained, glowing with pride at being accepted to such a prestigious school. “He's going to stop by later if he can and I'll try to introduce you two. We'd like to open a local restaurant once we graduate, though it's going to be hard if his dad doesn't stop being a dick. Legolas keeps trying but the old man hates my family and so far he just won't give in. Snobby vegan bastard.”
“Oh!” Bilbo exclaimed in sudden realization. “You're dating Thranduil's son, aren't you? I knew your name sounded familiar. Some of my relatives dragged me to the Greenwood Hall awhile ago and I heard the two of them arguing. I'm sorry things are still so bad.”
“Nah, it's all right.” Gimli reassured him. “Legolas isn't going to back down so Thranduil will have to come around eventually. It's not even the vegan thing that's the biggest issue, since I know a number of perfectly nice alternative chefs, he just hates Thorin too much to like the thought of me.”
“Really?” The florist asked, always eager for more information about his silent friend.
“Yeah, the two of them were both lawyers back in the day, except they were always on opposite sides so there's some bad blood there.” The redhead told him with a shrug. “Uncle won't talk about what happened exactly, but after Smaug v. Erebor he decided to quit, and he seemed to blame it on Thranduil when I asked.”
A lawyer, huh? That certainly explains a few things. Like this enormous house, Bilbo thought before putting his curiosity from his mind. While he was pleased to finally know the basics, he wasn't going to do his friend the disservice of wild speculation, not when he knew how painful that could be.
By now, Fíli and Kíli had declared their competition a tie, or rather both were claiming victory, so the florist waded in to grab his boyfriend and go get a drink. “I'll get you next time Fílipek,” The younger man called out as Bilbo dragged him off, but his brother just waved him away with a rude hand gesture and the florist had to stifle a laugh at their antics as he poured himself some wine.
The pair wished Thorin a happy birthday before wandering around the party to chat with anyone who caught their eye. The food and drink were fantastic, one definite benefit to their host having money, and Bilbo soon forgot why he had ever been nervous at all.
Kíli's family was an interesting bunch of people, quirky and entirely unapologetic but highly entertaining nonetheless. Dís and Thorin were usually in the center of the chaos, holding court among their relatives with their stories and deadpan jokes. The more everyone drank, the crazier the tales, though the florist wondered if he had had a bit too much when he saw his deliveryman slip through the front door.
“Nori, what are you doing here?” He asked incredulously, rubbing at his eyes. But he couldn't have been hallucinating for the other man greeted Bilbo and Kíli with a cheerful wave.
“Me and my brothers are relatives of sorts, even if Dori's the only one who knows exactly how. So I came to get in on the fun.” The deliveryman told him as he hung up his coat. “I would have told you but you weren't dating my cousin when you hired me and it never seemed relevant later on.”
“Don't worry about it.” The florist replied with a tipsy smile. “Although I may have to hit you up for childhood stories now that I know. It'll make the deliveries go faster if nothing else.”
“It's a deal.” Nori agreed over Kíli's loud objections before Ori grabbed his brother to round out their Blackjack game. Bilbo was tempted to join them until he got a glimpse of the vicious way the Durins played – with the way they handled the cards it was rather more like Slap Jack – and there was no way the florist was getting in the middle of that.
By this point the wine and the late hour were starting to go to the Bilbo's head and he decided to take his leave before he made a fool of himself. Kíli had been nursing one glass all evening so he was still sober enough to drive and his boyfriend held him steady while they said their farewells.
The wine and the warmth conspired to make the florist drift off on the ride home and he was nearly asleep by the time the pair arrived at Bag End. In this space next to dreaming, Bilbo found himself wondering what he had been so scared of, because now that he had met Kíli's family some truths seemed obvious. While his heart might still break someday, this loss would not be from betrayal and he did not want to sabotage what they had with doubt. So this time when his boyfriend walked him to the door and kissed him farewell, Bilbo did not let him leave.
“Stay with me tonight?” The florist asked, reaching out to grab Kíli's hand as the young man turned to go. These words brought the barista up short and he turned to stare at his boyfriend in surprise. But when the older man twined his arms around Kíli's neck and whispered, “please,” his whole face softened with delight.
“You're sure this time?” His boyfriend murmured against Bilbo's cheek, the soft touch igniting a fire in his skin.
“I'm sure,” The florist promised, before pulling Kíli down into another heated kiss. Once they stumbled inside, Bilbo kicked the door shut behind them and the last thing he said before he drew the younger man upstairs was a whispered, “I am very sure indeed.”
Part III: Trials Come in Threes