Lauderhill Botanical Garden flowerchild!


You don't always need a friend to go out and do things with, Ruby explored on her own all the time. This place was not new, she'd explored it plenty of times. Grown up going on field trips, visiting with parents, and eventually going just to enjoy herself. It was a different kind of nature, one that she didn't have to nurture, but could just enjoy instead.

Ruby had brought her camera to the gardens, going on a walk and snapping shots of the late season bloomers. She'd grown captivated by a patch of chrysanthemums, some with buds still forming in pale yellows and golds. They were bright and full of life against the browning earth. Click! the camera shutters snapped, then Ruby crouched down and dug her fingers into the soil, just to feel the earth move in that strange way only she felt.
Oliver didn't know what had taken him so long to take a walk through these botanical gardens before. It was an opportunity to see more flowers for Roots and he knew Serena would likely love the idea of him spending time thinking about the shop. It was the perfect opportunity seeing has he'd had the day off and really hadn't any idea how to spend it. Most days he'd ride his bike around Cheyenne Point or maybe get a quick beer somewhere but it was always healthy to mix up your activities.

He walked with his headphones bobbing his head lightly to some calmer music when he noticed a woman up ahead, digging her fingers into the dirt beneath the flora.

"Huh." He spoke aloud, despite having meant to think it instead of speak it.

Ruby's eyes flickered back to their usual black as soon as her fingers left the earth. Detached, sad to be so. She turned to see the man walking by, and assuming he'd wanted her attention, she indulged. "Hm?"
He was looking directly at her hand, so when she spoke back to him it hadn't even processed that he'd spoke aloud yet. It took a good ten seconds for everything to mentally process and he realized that he was no longer in his own world but instead sharing it with another. Oliver shook his head as if he'd been in a daze and let out a small chuckle.

"I'm going to be perfectly honest with you. He spoke, smiling and pointing at the soil in front of her. "I didn't even realize I'd said that. I did not mean to interrupt you if you were doing something and am terribly sorry." He scratched the back of his head and let out another nervous chuckle, a bit upset with himself for having been so absent minded.
Her "hm" was met with a quiet stare, Ruby's thin brows knitted and she rolled back onto her heels, pressing up to stand. Finally he seemed to realize he was staring and blinked back into life, Ruby's frown broke into a small smile, but an uncertain one. What the hell was he doing?

He spoke, and seemed genuine enough, pointed to where she'd been pressing into the soil. Oh, had she been moving stuff without thinking about it? Maybe he'd seen her practicing, that would definitely warrant a stare. She blushed now and shook her head, equally as embarrassed. "Oh no I was just admiring the plants," liar, she'd been feeling the vibrations of the earth and changing minerals to help the plants grow. Always a poor liar, her fingers fidgeted with the sliding shutter on the camera.
It certainly felt like he’d intruded. Oliver felt an air about the situation where he’d definitely impeded her experience. Even if she’d said otherwise. He frowned internally at himself but thought little of it as it was far from an unsalvageable moment. No need to make this remain awkward, and besides, she might know something that could help him!

”Are you rather familiar with a lot of these plants?” He walked closer but kept a respectful distance. ”I’m trying to find some new additions for my boss, I work at Roots over in Cheyenne Point. You mind if I picked your brain?”
Oh, the plants! Maybe he hadn't noticed her eyes glowing or the ground shifting at all. That was a relief, she visibly relaxed a little and her smile became more sincere. Because of course, she loved nothing more than talking about plant life.

"Yeah actually! I work on a farm and I come here pretty often," they answered with a grin, hands on hips and shifting to face him more fully now. "Ask away."
Wow, he wasn't expecting such a warm response. He was a stranger after all. Oliver was gladdened by this and was thankful he hadn't made made a total ass out of himself.

"Really, I know next to nothing about flowers. I don't really work with them despite working in the shop. I just wanna know what's good for around this time. Around wedding season I'm sure I'd be on top of it. Was mainly curious if you knew what'd be best to grow or what was easy to keep healthy around now."

He didn't really even know what questions to ask. All he knew was he wanted to help Serena out somehow and well, he was gonna try!
Next to nothing about flowers but working at a nursery? Oh lord, they had to fix that. "Well these are mums, they probably won't be around much longer but they're a beautiful late summer to middle of fall bloomer." She gestured to the yellow flowers, sitting proud in their rows.

"If you're hoping for winter blooms, I'm a big fan of daffodils and pansies!" She paused, "Not sure what kind of flowers people use at weddings really," a chuckle, "but yeah those are pretty ones."
Oliver reached into his pocket and pulled out a scrunched up sticky note and a pen that had been well hidden by the length of his button up shirt. He scribbled the words Daffodil and Pansy sloppily on it before putting it back in his pocket. It was clear he was genuinely trying to figure out how to assist his shop even if he didn’t know a thing about his product. That’s why he hadn’t applied for sales position originally.

“I appreciate that a lot!” He said with a warm smile. ”I’ve felt some minor guilt the past month for not having made any progress in my know-how in the shop.”

He wandered over to the mums she’d mentioned and knelt down to get an eyeful. They were pretty. Their yellow array was pristine and seemed consistent throughout. There were a few blotches of differing shades but the color of the sun radiated through the entire bunch as if they were being hugged by it.

”I probably shouldn’t pick one of these, should I?” He spoke with laughter in his voice. He did want to, though.
Ruby didn't often have to look up at people, but Oliver was ridiculously tall. As he scribbled on a pad of paper, dark doe eyes looked up his face, just curious. This seemed as good a time as any to practice that aura reading thing Cat had told them about, they squinted just faintly, focusing hard until he looked back to them. They averted their gaze quickly, smiled. Damn, still no supernatural aura reading.

"Happy to help, I love these little things," she replied, turning to watch as he crouched before the mums.

Pick one, Ruby chuckled, "Probably not, and it won't last as long without the plant anyway." She held up the camera around her neck, "You could always take a picture though."
”That would probably best, huh.” There was something about the chrysanthemums that had really caught Oliver’s attention. He couldn’t decipher their allure, or what had even sparked it. He just kept looking at them as if they were reading him a bedtime story. Some odd comfort laced with blockage that his brain wouldn’t allow him to pass.

He stood back up, his eyes locked on the flowers still and pulled out his phone to snap a quick picture. The flash erupted for a millisecond at most but it ricocheted him through time for at least a full two seconds. A glimpse of his grandfather. His hand rested neatly on Oliver’s shoulder. He whispered something to Oliver but the pyromancer couldn’t remember what it was.

His phone clattered to the ground and cracked the screen.

”Shit!” He exclaimed as he hadn’t been paying attention to how loose his grip had become. He’d been fixated. He hadn’t even noticed that his green eyes were becoming increasingly outlined by grey, turning hazel in hue.

”Man I sure am out of sorts today.” He chuckled, looking towards Ruby, attempting to replace his mental distractions with more light conversation.
They watched the man grow increasingly enticed with the flowers, it was nice to see that she'd led him to something he could enjoy. It was a nice little moment but she did want to continue her walk. She opened her mouth to say goodbye but was cut off when his phone smacked into the dirt below them with an unfortunate crunch.

She winced, scrunching up her face and hoping for the best, letting out an oof when she saw the screen was cracked. He was relatively chill about it, but Ruby knew it had to suck. Her brows raised in an expression of pity, what a shitty thing to happen, "I am so sorry, that absolutely sucks."

Were his eyes a different color?
Oliver was still oblivious to the fact that his eyes had changed. In his time having repressed his abilities it had led to a lack of understanding when these things occurred. It was so far from his mind in fact that he kept looking at Ruby with eyes of hazel, despite the fact that they normally rested green.

"Those flowers were apparently too captivating it seems." He was embarrassed at his fumble. He was actually embarrassed about the entire way he'd been carrying himself today. Even if she was just a stranger in passing it still felt awkward to be such a klutz.

"Nothing a couple hundred bucks won't fix, right?" He joked even though he was now realizing how much of a detriment that was to his wallet.

He took notice of her pitying eyes now locked upon his and withdrew his smile a bit.

"Did I say something wrong..?"
Her expression remained, though her gaze was now drawn up to his eyes. They had changed right? Maybe she didn't need to read auras to pick out the unnatural, maybe she should be more wary.

She gave a sheepish laugh in response to his comment about the money, a hundred dollars seemed like a lot. She hadn't meant to make anything awkward with her pity, eyes widened when he seemed confused. Hands held out in front of her, "Oh no, I just feel bad for you is all!" She took a couple steps back though, feeling only a bit uneasy now that the idea he was something dangerous had taken root.

"Did your eyes change color?" she asked, tone curious, slightly cautious.
"What do you-" That same memory flickered once more. The vice grip of his deceased grandfather. It wasn't a neat placement, it was agony. Oliver at some younger age was looking in the mirror that hanged above him. That was why he saw it all. The yellow chrysanthemums that had been in a vase on the table near them. The candelabra beside it. The whisper his grandfather had slithered into his ear.

'You're gonna do great things.'

Oliver blinked three times in a row then rubbed his eyes. To no avail, but he couldn't have known that. After all it would make no sense. There wasn't any fire around so why would his abilities have activated?

He chuckled once more, this time with much less confidence. A jester trying to be amused by his own displacement.

"That can't be possible. It must have been a trick of the light."
He started, but zoned out again, similar to before. And it made her skin crawl just a little, to watch him try to right himself again. Something was up, Ruby could tell. Or at least something was wrong. She hoped it was that.

She dared to ask, ignoring his feigned humor, "Are you alright? You seem kind of out of it?" Her hands toyed with the shutter again, this time with mounting concern.
"Yeah, I mean, I'm..." He wasn't even sure what this sentence was trying to convey. It wasn't as if he was just going to unload all his unresolved trauma on someone he'd met two minutes ago. He hadn't let his mind wander like this in such a long time, so why was it happening now? All he'd wanted to do today was figure out some flowers for the shop.

He looked back momentarily at the yellow flora in confusion. Had the flowers really triggered all of that?

"Hey um," He started again, his eyebrows rising and falling as he tried to compose himself. "That was really weird. And I'm really sorry about all of that. These..." He waved his hand over the mums, "I think I used to have some in my childhood home. They made me think about some stuff I hadn't in a while. I don't mean to keep you! I just had a bit of a freak out there."

His eyes then, and only then, fell back to their emerald origin.
There was a look in his eye, somehow lost, as he looked back to the mums. It made Ruby feel bad for doubting him, he seemed sincere in his confusion, in that he'd been swarmed by memories. Her smile returned, a soft sigh fell from her lips. His eyes were green now, maybe they had always been.

"No, don't worry about it! I just wanted to make sure everything was okay," she replied, attempting a convincing execution of a sentence that left out her supernatural suspicions. It didn't matter anyway, as long as he didn't try anything. She relaxed, chuckled, "Well maybe you oughta get some different flowers then."
He laughed with her, glad that the situation had been freed of its vice grip of tension. Whatever had just happened to him he would deal with, now was just not the time. She'd been more patient than Oliver would have expected anyone to be in this type of situation. It was rather virtuous of her to have stayed to make sure he was alright. That was the kind of kindness he wanted to spread, and the one he rarely saw.

"No kidding, right?" His warm smile regaining its confidence as they both seemed to exhale the pressure of the conversation away.

He looked down the way towards the rest of the garden, that which he had barely seen due to him having ran into this woman.

"My name's Oliver, by the way. I appreciate you for your help with the flowers and whatever the hell all that was. If it's alright with you, do you think you'd still be down to talk flowers with me? I still don't feel as if I've learned enough. Hell, I'd even pay you." He felt a bit weird asking a stranger to do him a favor on their own excursion through here, but he did come down here to get some help with his knowledge. Couldn't hurt to ask.
The smile he gave her was bright again, Ruby allowed the tension to slip away. As long as he was okay, she was fine.

Oliver, sweet name for a sweet face. "Ruby," she added with a smile, letting her hands come to rest on her hips. His following ask made her laugh, god did he really want to pay her for this? Strange but humble. She shook her head no, "Please no paying, happy to talk." She'd come here alone and planned to be alone, but he clearly wanted a little advice, some company, and Ruby was never one to turn down. It was nothing really, how many more questions could he have?
Yeah, the payment statement made him feel a bit stupid and desperate. Maybe he hadn't fully cleared his head quite yet. It was ridiculous that he was so bad at talking to people today. Guess it was all the better that he worked in the back at the nursery. Wouldn't wanna make an ass out of himself on the clock.

"I don't know much about arrays or which flowers sit well together. Often Serena, my boss, sets them up and I deliver them to wherever need be. They always look perfect in my eyes, but hell if I know what flowers are what. More often than not I'm unpacking ceramic pots or cycling around town with a hundred flowers on my back. Not too much time to study." He shrugged playfully, displaying his lack of insight in this topic physically. He continued to walk around taking in more of the plants that were in the botanical garden, but remaining within healthy earshot.

"Don't know how to caretake either, and I figure I can't just dump water on each of them the same way and expect to keep anything alive."
So he was more the delivery man than the arranger. Made since, and it was nice that he still wanted to try and learn. Her brows jumped at a hundred flowers, figuring it a hyperbole. What really surprised her was the bit about cycling. Why didn't the shop have a van? Carry more flowers, and keep them air conditioned and out of the wind. Bike driven flower deliveries seemed inefficient, but she kept these thoughts to herself.

She chuckled at his comment about dumping water on them, "Sometimes that's all they need, especially if they're already picked. Does your shop sell whole plants or just arrangements?"
"Arrangements, for sure." He noted with an air of definition. "Don't rightly know how she makes the things she does. I guess that's how a lot of art looks when they're beyond your depth."

He knelt again, getting as many glimpses of as many flowers as he could while rubbing his chin.

"I doubt she needs me to even go about my days like this. Just feels a bit weird to be uneducated in the store you work, y'know?" It wasn't as if Serena would've accosted him about his know-how, especially considering the fact that well, she'd already hired him! He thought briefly that maybe he should be trying to find ways to make his delivering or unpacking easier.

Yet the gardens kept him here somehow. There was some allure and mystique that was repeatedly nagging at his mind. Is that what fate felt like?
Ah, just arrangements. So they probably had a cooler or something for already cut flowers. Honestly Ruby wasn't super sure about that whole process, she usually only dealt with the plants still in the ground. She smiled at his comment about the art, she hadn't seen one of the arrangements of course but she could imagine how lovely they'd be.

"I totally get you, and even if you didn't work at a flower shop I think it's cool that you want to learn," she replied with a chuckle. It was a cool hobby you know!

They passed some hedges of pink flowering sedum, not the kind of flowers that you'd see in a floral arrangement but pretty all the same. She pointed to them, "Those are sedum, but most people call them stonecrop. Probably not what you'd be looking for but they're pretty."
Oliver looked at the sedum as she spoke about them. He tried to keep his intrigue and attention on what they were conversing about. However there was a weird struggle in doing so. That same pull egging him on to turn his focus.

Look at the chrysanthemums.

Oliver ignored it. ”They’re beautiful. Where do they get the name stonecrop from?” Oliver remained stalwart in his attempts to keep this conversation. His weird thoughts were not going to best him and turn him into some dullard just gawking at flowers he’d seen almost 25 years ago. It would be incredibly rude of him to not follow through on her explanations as he just asked her to help him. Even if this low hum of a voice wouldn’t let go of his ear.

Look at the chrysanthemums.
Uhh, Ruby didn't know everything about plants, I.D was usually impressive enough. They bit their lip and shook their head, "No idea, I'll google it." They let the camera hang as they reached for their pocket, pulled out their phone and set to work. He could easily google it himself too, but now they were invested in the answer.

There was a moment where she scanned over the screen, reading out loud in quiet mumbles as she went. Eventually she answered at a decipherable volume, "most plants in the genus grow on rocky ledges. And apparently they are also called live-forevers cause they're so easy to grow and hard to kill." She looked back up to him, stashing her phone, "Pretty neat."
Oliver massaged his neck while listening to them talk. Whatever force was trying to pry his eyes away from the stonecrop back to the chrysanthemums was a weird a fearful thing. It felt tangible almost in its tug. A whispered voice that felt not in his head but truly beside his ear. As if there was someone else in the garden with them.

Look at the chrysanthe-

”Hey Ruby,” He started in a struggle to remain unfazed by his haunting and simultaneously stay as polite as possible. ”That’s really cool.” A sentence out of place and a bit bizarrely short for their conversation. A statement of opinion interjected in the midst of them helping answer all his questions. He hated how he was acting but was fighting to maintain composure.

”I really appreciate you helping me out, by the way. It’s nice to get out of my head for a bit, too.”
She was putting her phone back when he said her name, she looked up expectantly and received a kind of stunted reply. He was odd for sure, but she tried not to let it show. Maybe he was having an off day, happened to everyone. And Ruby was patient, always had been.

At his comment about getting out of his head, she smiled. Thoughts passed that he seemed more in his head than with her, but she kept that to herself. "No need for more thanks, serious," she replied with her usual sunniness.

"Anything else you wanted to see?" Of the flowers here, what caught his eye?
Oliver was beginning to feel a bit guilty for taking time out of her excursion. They'd been wildly helpful and was putting up with him while he was out of sorts. He'd been impolite, inattentive, and they still didn't let their kindness waver. They were good people.

"I think that's plenty. You did a lot for me when you didn't have to, and I really appreciate it. I'm sure it was odd dealing with me." He forced a chuckle as he maintained polite eye contact with her. "I should probably be trying to catch a bus here back to Cheyenne Point before it gets too late." He rose from his knelt position and turned towards the entrance of the garden. He knew he'd have to walk passed those accursed yellow flowers.

The ones that kept yanking him nearer. The first that Ruby had shown him and now still clung to his psyche by the throat. What were they harboring? What was his memory trying to tell him?

Look at the chr-

"STOP, ALRIGHT, JUST FUCKING STOP!" Oliver blurted. He'd meant to keep it as a thought but that isn't how it remained. It reverberated off the walls and was cacophonous throughout. A pang of embarrassment surged through him.

He looked again at Ruby, "I-I'm so sorry. I don't know what that was. That wasn't towards you or, or..." Oliver fumbled over his words, his eyes flickering that hazel hue once more.
He was aware of how strange the interaction had been, though more than being weirded out Ruby had just been concerned. He was clearly going through it, maybe talking to her was him reaching out, something to preoccupy himself with. She liked to speculate. Sucks that she didn't have more help to offer than talking about plants. She just smiled to his goodbye, "No worries, have a safe trip!" then started to turn to get back to her own snap-shotting.

And then there was yelling, they jumped at the loud voice, turning quickly to face the man. In a moment of panic they drew into the earth below, the dirt at their feet shifted... then stopped. It was just Oliver, and god he looked embarrassed now. She tried to swallow that panic, though the shout still rung in her ears. Flustered she waved her hands, walking awkwardly towards him as though placating, or as though she'd been the one to cause a disruption, "No nO! Don't apologize! It's okay."

"Are, umm, are you sure I can't help with anything?" His eyes were hazel, they'd been green once? Was this a magic thing? Some people saw ghosts? Illusions?
He wasn't quite sure why so often these memories were plaguing him as of late. It couldn't have just been the flowers since it was happening so many places rather than just the gardens here. It was beginning to frustrate him to an immaculate degree considering it was NOW intruding on his ability to be socially competent. Oliver had shocked Ruby, confused them and made their day wildly strange and uncomfortable. Normally he prided himself on being able to leave people smiling and now he felt weaker than ever. This voice rattled him to his core and there was no answer in sight that could dissuade it.

"I don't rightly know." He said frankly. "This isn't like me, I don't act like this. I'm sorry you had to be here for it." His voice was confident but clearly shaken. It was visibly bothering him that this had occurred.

His eyes switched back to green amid his conversing.
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