Valentine's Day 2019
Chimney wasn't sure what the etiquette would be when buying a valentine's gift for someone who was your best friend/crush/woman of your dreams, but he still stood in the Valentine's aisle at the drug store, lightly stunned by the large selection.
Valentine's Day had never been one of his favorite holidays; one kind of needed a partner for it to be something one enjoyed, but he'd never outright hated it like some of his coworkers. Usually he got some chocolate, against his better judgment, and finished off some tequila. Last year, he'd been recovering from his car accident; alcohol had been a no go.
He stopped himself from where his train of thought was going; he was not going to go to See's Candies to make a custom mix for Maddie. That crossed a line...several.
There were single roses by the checkout. Chimney fingered one as he waited in an oddly long line, not paying attention, and he pricked his finger. "Damn it," he hissed, and grabbed the rose; he couldn't leave it there with his blood on it. The cashier smiled as she rung it up, and Chimney awkwardly smiled back.
What was he going to do now?
He knew her work schedule, he realized. Buck had mentioned that Maddie had gone in early today, so that meant she'd be getting off...right about now.
Chimney found himself driving the route towards the call center almost without thinking about it. He knew he was being a fool, but there was a part of himself that didn't care. He just wanted to give her...something. He didn't know what memories she had attached to this holiday; he was apprehensive that her reaction would be similar to Christmas, but he figured that Doug wouldn't have been a 'single rose' type of guy. If anything, he'd buy elaborate, over the top flower arrangements to show off. Have them delivered to work.
Chimney saw that Maddie's car was still there when he pulled in, and he slowly closed his car door. Maybe he'd just leave it with her supervisor. That would be less awkward. He could say it was from a secret admirer.
He realized he was getting a lot more nervous as he neared the doors, and hung back for a second, trying to decide if he was really doing this. He turned around, saw his car waiting safely in the parking lot. He could really just...go back to it. Just leave.
He swallowed, swinging back around, forcing himself to be brave but what if Maddie thought that this was pressure? What if she thought it was him trying to take it to the next level? What if she thought the rose had expectations? It didn't. It so didn't.
Fuck. He really hadn't thought this through. Of course she'd have negative memories attached to this day, who didn't?
He was just about to start to his car when he heard his name, freezing in place.
He breathed in, one two three four, and swiveled on the ball of his foot.
Maddie stood there, her long hair swinging by her face. She'd clipped some of it back, but he could tell it had already escaped the flower clips she'd used.
"Hi," Chimney said, realizing that he was just standing there outside of her work like an idiot, holding a red rose out to her.
"So I was thinking about it, and this really might not have been a great idea," Chimney said, after a long silence.
Maddie found a smile coming to her face. She'd had a pretty awful day, all things considered, and she'd been looking forward to just getting some takeout, and having a heavy glass of wine.
And here was Chimney, standing outside of her work, holding out a rose.
"What wasn't a good idea?" She asked sweetly, tilting her head.
"I don't want you to think that this rose comes with any expectations, because it doesn't," he continued. "And I have zero ulterior motives. I was just at the drugstore, and I saw these, and...I thought of you. And I didn't want you to spend Valentine's alone."
He stepped closer, nervously holding the rose out to her.
Maddie had absolutely zero qualms about taking the rose from him, smiling, and holding it up to her face to smell it. "Thank you," she said, sincerely. "This is the last thing that I expected today...but thank you."
He smiled back, chuckling a little. Now that he was closer, she could see the flush on his cheeks, and the nervousness present in his movements. "I didn't want to bring up any bad memories," he said.
"You really didn't," Maddie said. "I managed to talk my supervisor into 'needing me at work because she's understaffed' the past few valentine's. I definitely have some...stories," she said, flinching a little at the thought. "There were a few years that Doug wanted us to go all out, the restaurant, ridiculous flower arrangements...chocolate I never ate."
"I'm sorry, we don't have to talk about this," Chimney said, seeing her trail off.
Maddie smiled again, thoughtful this time. "I want to reclaim this holiday," she said slowly. "Like I said at Christmas. I'm not letting Doug take more things away from me. I loved making valentines at school growing up. This makes me want to go and get a pack of construction paper and get to it."
"I'm in," Chimney said, and then the smile fell off his face again. "Oh, I didn't mean it like that. Again, no pressure."
"Chim, it's okay," she said. "I can tell you one thing. I never left work to find someone waiting for me with a single rose."
Chimney flushed again, and she smiled at him, truly feeling a little happiness sink in.
"How about this?" She said, starting to walk, and Chimney fell along beside her. "I'm going to go to the drugstore, and get a very large bottle of wine to split, along with a pack of pink paper. You can go pick up some chinese food, and we meet back at my apartment in forty five?"
"You're crazy if you think traffic's going to be that good," Chimney said, a grin in his voice. "Make it sixty, and that's a way more accurate estimate."
"Hey, I live in hope that someday I will actually drive my commute in the fifteen minutes it should be," she joked back. They'd reached her car, and it was an oddly heavy moment. Her hand was on her car door, and she could see Chimney's eyes fall to her lips.
She smiled again, opening it quickly. "You know my order by now," she said. "See you soon?"
"Yeah," he nodded, closing her door for her, quickly waving as he walked to his car.
At the start of today, Maddie had just been wanting to get through what could be a difficult holiday with grace, and without crying.
Now she had dinner plans, a rose, and someone to drink wine with.
Today couldn't end better.
"Here," Chimney announced, about an hour later. She'd gotten home before him, and had already poured two glasses of wine, and set out paper with scissors and glitter.
She ran to open the door, glad she'd had enough time to change into yoga pants and a red shirt. Hey, she still had a little holiday spirit in her.
She opened it for him, seeing him coming in with a fully loaded bag of food. "Egg rolls, lo mein, sauteed vegetables, orange chicken for me, and hot dumplings for you," he announced. "And hot mustard. I knew I wouldn't be able to make it, so I made a point of asking for it."
She blushed, taking a quick sip of wine to hide it.
They sat down on the floor at her coffee table, serving the food, and falling into silence for a few minutes as they ate. She was hungry, and she could tell he was too. They cleared the dishes, and Maddie poured them a new glass of wine as they walked back to start their hearts.
"So," she said. "What's your game plan on valentines? I bought colored paper, which has red and pink, and I couldn't resist some glitter."
"So many options," he crowed, rubbing his hands together. "I think I have to go with a classic red."
She handed him a piece of paper, taking a pink one for her own, and they cut in silence for a few minutes. "Glitter?" She asked, and he nodded.
"Of course," he said. "How could I pass up the glitter?"
She grinned, picking it up to pass it, but she wasn't paying attention, and her hand tipped. She watched in horror as a large amount of loose glitter fell onto his shirt.
Chimney just stared at it for a second, as if he wasn't even processing it, and then looked up at her, shaking his head. "You did not just do that," he said, in a teasing voice.
"It was an accident," she said, but the wine had gotten to her, and she was already holding back laughter.
"This is one of my best shirts," he joked, trying to brush the glitter off, and the sight of Chimney with his hands utterly coated in glitter was too much for her.
She burst into laughter, holding a hand to her mouth, and before she could react, Chimney had tossed glitter at her as well.
"No," she shrieked, lunging to the opposite side of the table, and tried to grab the glitter back.
"I don't think so," he protested, attempting to grab it from her hand, and somehow, someway, their glitter fight ended with him going for a pass, and instead ended up topping onto the floor, Maddie on top of him.
They were both breathing hard, and he could see how her chest's rise and fall. Her hair had fallen to hang over them, shielding their two faces. She slowly licked her lips, and Chimney had never wanted to kiss her as badly as he did then.
She jumped back as if burned, and Chimney slowly sat up, seeing that she'd moved to sit on the couch with her glass of wine, taking a long sip.
"I can get the vacuum," he offered, seeing the mess they'd made.
"That's a good start," she said, avoiding his gaze.
They made short work of the mess; Maddie knew she'd have to pay for some of it to be professionally cleaned, but for what it was, this was as good as it was going to get.
She looked down at the table; neither of them had even finished the valentines.
Chimney went to the restroom to wash off, and Maddie quickly scribbled a few words on her valentine before sliding it into his jacket pocket.
When he came back, he finished his wine, and she walked him outside. "Thanks for coming," she said. "I really did enjoy it."
"I'm sorry we didn't get to finish the valentines," he said, smiling crookedly at her. "I'll see you later, Maddie."
"Bye," she whispered, and slipped back inside. She got to the coffee table, and gasped. She had no idea when Chimney had done it; maybe he'd waited til she was putting the vacuum away, and she hadn't noticed. He'd only written Happy Valentine's Day Maddie, from Chim but that was enough to warm her heart.
This was definitely the best valentine she'd ever gotten from anyone.
Chimney was home before he reached inside of his jacket pocket, shivering in the night air, and his fingers bumped a foreign object. He pulled it out, and felt his heart skip a beat in the twilight. It was Maddie's valentine, she'd somehow managed to finish it.
Chimney. You're the only valentine I needed this year. Maddie
He felt a smile spread wide over his face, and he walked inside with a new spring in his step. This was, by far the best valentine's day he'd ever had.