Three Ways Brendan And Emmett Didn't Meet & One Way They DidAuthor: lavvyanRating:
Uh. Slash?Word Count:
They didn't meet in a flower shop, or the supermarket, or the hospital. But they could have.Warnings:
None that I'm aware of.Notes:
Beta-read by zellieh
. I was going for a Five Ways story. Alas, the deadline completely caught me off-guard, so three it is. *coughs* darkmoon711
wanted: dorkiness, sweet, chance encounters, illness, fluffy, Freya pushing the guys together.
~~~This never happened:
They meet almost every day, Emmett and the dark-haired guy in the suit. Half an hour after the flower shop opens, when the shelves and vases are full and the smell of freshly cut flowers is heavy in the air. The dark-haired guy will buy a yellow rose or sometimes two. Emmett will get one of the small, pre-arranged bouquets. Sometimes one of them will hold the door open for the other.
It's a comfortable routine. Emmett only came to New York because that's where his mother is dying, and it's nice to have at least one familiar face to look at, someone who isn't a nurse or a doctor. The city is too loud, the traffic is brutal, and this moment of quiet is usually the only one he gets during the day. He likes it when the dark-haired guy arrives at the flower shop before he does. It means an additional minute or two of waiting, of green-scented silence.
Today he's the first to arrive. The shop girl smiles at him and reaches for a bouquet she's already wrapped in cheerful red paper. There are little white flowers printed on it.
"I've already wrapped it, if that's okay? You always make me choose anyway. I promise I picked a nice one."
She places the bouquet on the counter and Emmett smiles back as he gives her a casual half-shrug. "Thank you. I'm sure it's as lovely as always," he says, meaninglessly flirting even though he regrets the loss of at least one minute of quiet time. She meant well, after all, and he usually does make her choose. He reaches for his wallet, only to realise it's not there. "Oh, huh. I must have left my wallet in the car. Be right back."
"I've got it," a voice drawls behind him, and Emmett turns around. The dark-haired guy is holding a twenty-dollar-bill out to the shop girl, who takes it with a slight flush. Emmett can relate: the guy really is one of the prettiest men he's ever seen.
"Should I ring up your rose, too?" the girl asks, and the guy says, "Sure."
"Thank you. If you give me a minute, I'll pay you back." Emmett waits until the guy has picked up his rose, takes his bouquet and holds the door open for the both of them.
"Nah, don't sweat it. You can pay me back tomorrow." The guy shrugs and smiles politely, looking like he has places to go, people to see, roses to deliver and Emmett is keeping him. It's the first time Emmett's ever heard him say more than 'good morning' and 'thank you', and the accent isn't exactly one he would have expected in New York of all places. It seems more fit for sunshine and beaches than for traffic jams and smog. And suddenly, Emmett wants
to keep the guy from wherever he's going.
"My car is right there." Emmett points to the car in question, parked perhaps fifty feet away. "I'm sure your girlfriend won't mind if you're a minute late."
The guy's smile widens slightly, becomes more real as he looks briefly at the rose in his hand and then at Emmett. "No girlfriend."
"Who are those for?"
"Huh?" Emmett blinks.
"The flowers. The ones you buy every day?"
"Oh. Uh, my mother."
Now the guy is smiling outright. Inexplicably, Emmett's heart starts to beat faster. "Tell you what," the guy says, "why don't we meet here same time tomorrow? Go for a coffee or something?"
"I…" Emmett is usually a lot more composed, a lot more confident, but this man is openly flirting with him and it's throwing him off-balance. No-one has even given him a second glance since he came here. He blames New York. "Sure?"
The guy nods, looking pleased as he says, "Tomorrow then," already turning away.
"Yeah," Emmett says, looking after the man as he jogs across the street and feeling a smile stretch his own lips. "Tomorrow."
Huh. Perhaps New York isn't so bad.
~~~This never happened:
It's not Brendan's fault. Honestly, it isn't. The shopping cart's right rear wheel keeps getting stuck for no discernible reason, which is probably why it was the last one in the box. He's been fighting with it all the way from the parking lot, through the fruit and vegetable displays and halfway down the aisle with the body care products, and now the wheel jams again. The entire cart comes to an abrupt stop and the handle knocks the breath out of him as it slams into his stomach. Again.
Brendan's had enough. He gives the damn thing a hard shove; the cart lurches forward like the wheel was never stuck at all, and his surprised, "Whoa!" comes entirely too late for the guy he knocks over and into the shower gel. Good thing those bottles are plastic,
he thinks inanely, grimacing as he watches shower gel bottles of various shapes and sizes rain down on the poor man on the floor. The guy has hastily yanked his arms over his head so the bottles hit his arms rather than his face, which is probably a good idea because they sound pretty heavy.
Brendan winces again: that's going to bruise.
The shower gel avalanche doesn't last more than a few seconds, during which Brendan can feel his face heat up. The tips of his ears are burning as he steps around the cart of doom and reaches down to help the guy to his feet… and gets his next surprise when the guy lowers his arms and he's looking into the bluest eyes he's ever seen in a grown man.
He's always had a thing for blue eyes.
"I, uh, sorry," he stutters, pulling Blue Eyes up and then holding on to his hand long enough to earn himself a blink. He pulls his hand back, his cheeks still hot but probably flushing an even deeper shade of red.
"Not your fault." Blue Eyes waves a hand at the cart that's sitting innocently in the middle of the aisle, half-filled with TV dinners and mini chocolate bars that Brendan will never admit to calling Scooby snacks in his head. "Those things are evil."
"Yeah." Blue Eyes seems to be there alone, no concerned girlfriend in sight. Following some crazy impulse that's probably a direct result of running into the shopping cart once too often, Brendan decides to risk it. He digs into the back pocket of his jeans, pulls out one of the cards he always carries there – anal-retentive, Freya calls him – and holds it out to the guy, who reaches out automatically to take it.
"Here's my phone number. You know, in case you want to demand reparations," and wow, that sounds lame even to his own ears. And he doesn't even know if Blue Eyes swings that way and this could be very embarrassing even if he does and Brendan kind of wants to withdraw his card even though he knows he can't, and God, why won't that guy say something already?!
Blue Eyes looks at the card in his hand, blinks, looks up at Brendan, blinks again. Then he visibly pulls himself together, looking Brendan up and down like he's assessing him… or maybe rating him on a scale from 'total loser who just ran me over with a shopping cart' to 'rawr'. Brendan feels himself relax minutely when the guy begins to smile. It's a nice smile, making him look boyish and slightly mischievous.
"What if I want to demand reparations right now?"
Brendan's palms are damp and his mouth is dry when he replies, "There's this place about a mile down the road. Mahoney's. They make a fantastic steak."
"Hmm. Meet you there in half an hour? That should give you the time to wrestle your cart into submission." Blue Eyes grins and Brendan grins back, his heart racing. "I'm Emmett, by the way."
"Yeah, I… okay."
Emmett nods and strolls away, leaving Brendan to stare first at his ass, round and firm in snugly fitting cargo pants, then at the mess of plastic bottles on the floor. Thankfully, none of them have snapped open. His hands are shaking a little bit as he starts to pick them up, his thoughts more or less a repetition of the same startled realisation. Holy shit. I just picked up a guy in the shower gel aisle.
Freya will never let him live that down.
~~~This never happened:
They fly Emmett to New York in the middle of the night. The call comes a mere seven minutes before the knock on his door, giving Emmett barely enough time to collect the barest necessities before he's whisked off to the airport, and so he finds himself boarding a plane – a sleek grey thing that seems built for speed – before he's even fully awake. He settles down in a ridiculously comfortable seat, the case with his precious experimental antivenom stowed safely away underneath, and starts to read the file he's been handed.
It's pretty obvious that the situation is dire, otherwise the NSA wouldn't be calling the crazy scientist with the wonder drug that may or may not work. Reading the file, he can see why. The victim – 35 year-old male with an excellent physical condition that has probably saved his life so far – is showing all the symptoms of a snakebite, but apparently no-one has found the actual bite and the symptoms don't quite fit together to point toward one snake. The symptoms range from severe bleeding from the mouth and nose – which suggests some kind of viper envenomation – and slight anaphylaxis – again, most common in victims of viper bites – all the way to partial paralysis. And that last one makes no sense at all, because neurotoxins mean cobras or perhaps sea snakes, not vipers. Could be an Australian elapid, of course, but in downtown New York, even during the summer, what are the odds? On the other hand, if it was a death adder, perhaps an escaped domestic snake, chances are that the strike was so fast the victim never even noticed the movement. Then again: if that is the case, then where's the bite? Add to that the fact that the death adder's venom is purely neurotoxic, and the symptoms are a complete mystery again. Enough so that the doctors haven't even dared to treat the victim for fear of making things worse, which is probably a wise decision.
Emmett spends the entire flight turning everything he knows over in his head, again and again, but when the plane lands he's still as stumped as he was when he got the call in the first place. His heart sinks when he learns that the victim has lapsed into a coma while he was on his way. If it were a viper envenomation, Emmett would actually be inclined to see that as a good sign, indicating that the worst was nearly over. But none of the victim's limbs is swollen and there's still the initial paralysis, and it all simply makes no sense.
Absently, he wonders why the NSA is trying so hard to save this particular one of their agents. He'd always thought that government employees were regarded as mostly dispensable. But this man seems to be somewhat important, not that Emmett cares, because to him a life is a life. Still, he wonders.
When he gets to the hospital, there's a pretty brunette already waiting at the doors. Emmett assumes she's the agent's girlfriend or wife, until she introduces herself as, "Freya McAllister. I'm Brendan's partner." He just hums and shakes her hand without really paying attention, too busy getting an update on the victim's – Brendan's – condition. While he was on his way from West Virginia to New York, blood tests have shown that there's indeed an unknown toxin coursing its way through Brendan's system. Possibly a cocktail of toxins, the origins of which are still unclear, and if those toxins aren't one or several snake venin, Emmett is about to kill a man. If they are, well… he'll just hope that he and Betty are on to something.
The man in the small hospital bed looks awful: grey skin under a shock of dark hair, lips bluish from lack of oxygen even though there's a cannula under his nose – neurotoxins will do that to you – and Emmett spends a moment wishing him luck even as he administers the 387th batch of his universal antivenom – hopefully the one that works. The next few hours he spends taking and examining blood samples, waiting for the antivenom to take effect. And finally, it does.
Holy shit, it does.
No-one in the small room cares that Brendan has just made medical history by being the first person ever to prove that Emmett's universal antivenom works. No-one cares that this is Emmett's breakthrough, that the chances of anyone dying of snakebite because the doctors aren't sure of the treatment have just become absurdly slim. Of all the smiles in the room, Emmett's is the only one that celebrates a small revolution, and even he isn't so much proud of himself as happy that Brendan gets to live. So he grins and takes a final blood sample and packs his stuff, and then he pats Brendan's hand, still grinning, expecting to never see the man again in his life.
Except he does see him again, weeks later. Even though it does take him a moment to recognise him.
Standing upright and healthy on the steps of the snake reserve, Brendan doesn't look much like the man in the hospital bed. His skin is lightly tanned, for one thing, and his eyes are bright and intelligent, his grip firm as he shakes Emmett's hand.
"Brendan Dean. We've met, only I was unconscious."
Emmett suspects his expression betrays his amusement. "Pleased to meet you, Agent Dean."
"Brendan." He eyes the other man curiously. "Aren't you a bit far from New York? I can't imagine you're here to look at the snakes."
Brendan shrugs. "You saved my life. The least I can do is buy you a beer." He seems to have problems standing still, like a kid brimming with energy, and Emmett can't help liking him.
"Hmm," he hums his agreement, already reaching for his keys. "Just give me a minute to lock up."
Brendan shoves his hands into his pockets and grins. "Okay."
Emmett grins back.
~~~***~~~Believe it or not – this happened:
Brendan knows he's in trouble when ElkinsWV turns out to not only know every episode of Scooby Doo
that ever aired, to not only be able to make casual jokes about freaking Cow and Chicken
in the middle of a conversation, but to also be a fan of crappy, crappy movies. They spend blissful hours picking apart such delights as Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid
and Alone in the Dark,
with Brendan gleefully listing plot holes and – on demand – every other crappy, crappy movie the worst actors had participated in, and ElkinsWV mercilessly pointing out where the science went wrong. ElkinsWV is a scientist herself, so she knows what she's talking about.
They're both workaholics and both having fun chatting from late evening deep into the night, and if Freya noticed that Brendan's a lot more tired lately she hasn't commented yet. Hell, him using the internet to 'get to know someone' had been her idea in the first place, except he's sure that what she had in mind had been more like putting up an ad on match.com, not stumbling into a chat about freaky pets and taking it from there.
Apparently, ElkinsWV keeps a giant snake in a walk-in terrarium behind her lab. Brendan thinks that's beyond cool.
He hits a minor roadblock when he finds out that ElkinsWV is a guy. ScoobyDoo: I thought you were a woman.
ElkinsWV: I don't think a woman would appreciate the finer points of Blood Rayne
Well, yeah, okay. That's probably true.
Thing is, even knowing that ElkinsWV is a guy doesn't keep Brendan from falling fast and falling hard, and he's not all that sure he cares. He's been straight all his life and his life is a mess, so maybe it's time to change a few things. ScoobyDoo: So I think I might be gay.
ScoobyDoo: You know. Going for guys.
ElkinsWV: What, you mean you're not a woman, either?
ElkinsWV gapes at you.
ElkinsWV: Just kidding
ElkinsWV: You can't just decide you're gay. It doesn't work like that
ScoobyDoo: I think I might have been gay all along.
Brendan's close to hyperventilating when he types that. It would explain so much, except he's never been consciously attracted to a man before and he's not even sure he's attracted to ElkinsWV that way. But he likes him and gets kind of jealous when ElkinsWV talks about his last girlfriend – and the boyfriend before that – so maybe…
In his mind, Brendan paints himself a picture of ElkinsWV: pale, either too thin from all the stress or a bit flabby from his love for frozen pizza, and in desperate need of a haircut. A true nerd who isn't attractive at all, and it's possible that Brendan is further gone that he thought because even picturing ElkinsWV as a fat ugly guy with acne doesn't dim his infatuation one bit.
It only gets worse. ElkinsWV: Didn't you say you work for the NSA? There was a story the other day about how they caught a guy who seriously wanted to blow up the Statue of Liberty
He really shouldn't, but- ScoobyDoo: Actually, that was my case.
ElkinsWV: Really? Hey, did you see the press photo? The dark-haired guy with the cell phone?
Brendan looks up the press photo. And yeah, there he is, in the upper right corner, cell phone pressed to his ear as he looks earnestly at something outside of the picture. ScoobyDoo: That's me.
Moments later, a new box pops up, informing him that ElkinsWV has sent him a .jpg file, and would he like to open it? Heart racing, Brendan clicks OK. And stares.
That guy isn't a nerd. That guy is gorgeous, in a unique, quirky kind of way. He does need a haircut, yes, but his skin is tanned and his shoulders are broad under the black t-shirt and his arms are nicely muscled. He's not exactly slim but looks like someone who moves around a lot, an outdoors kind of guy, and his eyes are blue and his lips pulling down on one side even as he smirks and Brendan promptly forgets what he'd been about to type, his mouth suddenly dry. He just… he forgets, it slips his mind, and that makes him pause and stare at the monitor, at the blue eyes gazing back at him, because he's never, ever forgotten anything before. Ever.
He swallows. ScoobyDoo: So, you're single, right?
Who do you think wrote this story?