This is just my take on their first Valentine's Day.
Must point out how excited I am, I figured out how to get dashes again. :-D
Thanks for reading, I hope my postings today aren't boring you completely. :-P
The flash of red amongst the dirtied gray of the sidewalk caught her eye.
She stopped pushing her bike past the crowd and paused at first just looking at the red envelope. Wasn't as if it was surprising to see a red envelope on Valentine's Day even in the world after an EM Pulse, they still managed to retain the over-importance of the 'greeting card' holiday as Kendra and OC both referred to it. It was still fresh though, no foot prints…
She looked around after she bent down to pick it up, expecting someone to come claim it from her, but there was no one. Her beeper started to vibrate distracting her away from the envelope. Another package to pick up, they'd been going nonstop today. Making her normally cranky boss almost jubilant, at least towards the clients.
Another look around for the owner of the lost card before she threw it in her bag and took off for some reason unable to return it to the floor to be forgotten.
"I'm here for a pickup," Max said walking into the small office.
"Ah, yes," the older gentleman said nodding when he stood. "I didn't expect you so quickly. I still have to wrap it. Do you mind waiting a minute?" he asked with a hand flourish towards the seats.
She shook her head, "Not at all." Reclining in a plush chair away from the drizzle that had started seconds before she walked into the building, waiting definitely wasn't a hardship.
"Chocolate," he said walking over and with the heart shaped box already missing a few pieces.
She looked down at the box and then up at him.
"Trust me, they're harmless. A fellow from your company dropped them off, tall with messy dark hair, took a few before he left even."
Oh well, what the hell, she thought as she plucked one out. "Thanks," she said before taking a bite and peering in.
He chuckled watching her, "Caramel, you chose well. I always get those awful nougat ones." He dropped the box back down to the desk, "I'll be just a moment I swear. I just have to remember where exactly I put it. My wife was in yesterday so I had to hide it," he said as he scanned his office wondering what had seemed like that best possible hiding spot.
"Take your time," she replied finishing off the chocolate and licking her fingers. The thing might have been worth it even if it was drugged.
"Help yourself to another my dear," he said frowning as he looked into a cabinet with no luck.
"I'm good thanks," she said as she opened her bag to retrieve the red envelope.
A greeting card for the greeting card holiday….Real original she thought extracting the cupid adorned card. She opened it automatically looking at the second page and the printed words of 'Happy Valentine's Day!' underneath was a scrawled 'Forever yours' no name provided.
"Valentine from your fellow?" he asked as he moved to a different part of the room.
"Don't have one, found this one the street a few blocks from here, no name," she waved it up.
"Ah, well you're young there's plenty of time to find the right one. You could even be like me, find the wrong one you think is the right one for twenty years before actually finding the real right one," he smiled. "Ah," he turned triumphant, "I knew I'd find it. Now just another minute and I'll have it all ready to go."
"No rush," Max said with her interest moving back towards the card and the writing she saw on the first page. 'Hmm,' she thought upon seeing it. A poem, not original either, unless the very guyish scrawl actually did belong to an Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again.
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release
or nagged by want past resolutions power,
I might be driven to sell you love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.
'Huh,' she thought after quickly reading it.
"Something interesting inside?" her customer asked mid-taping of the gift.
She shook her head, "Just a poem."
"Ah yes," he nodded and smiled and went back to work, "today is the day that turns all of us normally humble individuals into great poets. Or at least we think we are," even his eyes twinkled as he smiled. "When I was eight I wrote a poem for Elena Roxbury, a more experienced woman at the age of eleven….My sister never let me live it down. There was something about honey and bumble bees, I think my parents must have just recently given me the birds and the bees talk."
His long fingers measured out the ribbon, "Is the poem any good?" he asked seeing her look at it again.
She shrugged, "Just a poem."
Love, it was a foolish concept. That whole I'd rather be starving than lose you. World peace or love? Max knew which one she'd chose.
Or trade the memory of this night for
It may well be. I do not think I would.
'Just go,' the memory of Logan's raspy voice sent a shiver up her spine.
Foolish. This entire day was just stupid. Spend money that no one had anymore.
Her normally dark world had suddenly been replaced by a sea of pink and red. Sickening she thought as she recalled the pitying looks of those who saw her dressed in gray and black instead of the nauseatingly sweet colors.
"There we go," the kindly man said raising up the small package, "how does it look?"
""Not half bad, you got skills for a guy," she tossed on the end with a little smile.
He laughed as he handed over the gift and a small card with the address before moving on to grab his wallet out of his pocket.
Her eyes were unassuming in watching, 'Not bad,' she thought realizing there was ten dollar tip included, maybe this wasn't such a bad holiday. "Thanks," she smiled accepting it.
"Oh wait," he said coming after her as she was heading out the door.
She was greeted with a rose as she turned.
"Every woman should get a rose on Valentine's Day," he said handing over the red rose.
She smiled once again and accepted it, lifting it to her nose and taking the obligatory sniff, though why you were supposed to do that she never got. They really didn't smell too great.
"You okay boo?" Cindy asked as she went to her locker as Max just sat on the bench rereading the poem.
"Yea I'm fine, just found this card," she waved it in the air.
"Ooh does my little boo have a secret admirer?" she asked snatching it out of Max's hand.
"Found it as in on the street," Max replied matter-of-factly.
"Oh that's no fun," Cindy said leaning up against the lockers to read the card.
"It's more than fine by me."
"Valentine's Day cookies," Sketchy called out approaching them with a flourish as he quickly waved them in front of both girls for just long enough so they could grab one before moving on to the rest of the crowd.
"How the hell did that boy land someone like Natalie?" Cindy asked as she was doing the same as Max and examining the heart shaped, pink frosted cookie with a C and an N entwined on it.
"Pure dumb luck," Max said quickly pushing aside the sudden urge to pout and instead took a whopping bite out of the corner.
"Must have been dropped on her head as a baby, left everything else intact, but good taste," Cindy postulated as she took a daintier bite out of hers.
"Hmm," Max replied with just a grunt and a shrug as she continued to chew.
"Think he just opened a book and picked any old poem?" Original Cindy asked a moment later as she leaned against her locker looking at the card as she continued to eat, "Or do you think he really meant this?"
"I don't know, seems a little extreme to me," another bite.
'I'm not asking you to walk. Just dance.'
"Says the most extreme girl I know," she laughed. "You okay Boo?" Original Cindy asked a second later pushing off the locker seeing the change in Max's face.
"Yea," she replied with a quick shake, "fine."
"Yea," another shake as she stood. "So's this the goodie bag for tonight?" Max asked seeing the flash of a small black bag in her friend's locker.
Sketch's full attention returned to them, "Oooh goodie bag, man you know that's what-"
"I suggest you watch what you say if you want to live to see another day," Original Cindy ordered.
Sketch's mouth quickly closed.
Max darted up and over to snatch the bag out of her now roommate's locker. "A feather?" she said as she stepped back pulling out the first object. "Hmm interesting," she said continuing to walk back.
"Max," Cindy's voice threatened.
Seeing that she wasn't going to win this with mere words Cindy shot out, but as always Max was a step faster.
"Wonder what-" Max began then smiled as Cindy retrieved the feather. "Hmm fine…coulda just said you wanted it back," another step back as Cindy looked on with deadly eyes.
Her head tilted to the side as she took a few more steps back perfectly in sync with Cindy's, "Oooh and what's this," she said pulling out a large strip of purple satin. "A blindfold?" she asked.
"Hope you're havin fun now Sug cause payback's a bitch."
"Hey if there are two of those in there they might be getting a little kinky," Sketch said with a smile as he suddenly flung himself up against the lockers spreading himself out as he vividly imagined Cindy and her date tonight.
"Ooh, no," Max said with dramatic lips, "but that's in there as well." She crumpled the cloth and tossed it over to Sketchy and pulled out a pair of furry red handcuffs.
"Swear to god, you're going down girl," Cindy said launching herself at Max.
"Oh man, I've had dreams about this too," Sketch said clutching the cloth in his hand and Max squealed with laughter as Cindy attacked her. "Hey," he called out, "Chick fight."
"So what Logan, you decide to speed up your weight loss by turning this place into a sauna?" Max called out upon being greeted with a blast of heat as she opened his door.
His low laugh greeted her before his face and that blindingly beautiful smile she had started growing accustomed to seeing. That slightly slimmed down face from all the effort he'd been going through to regain full use of his legs. His beautifully bare legs at the moment.
Khaki cargo shorts, paired with a white tee whose sleeves had been torn off, those wonderfully wiggling toes in a pair of gray and blue sneakers. Definitely the not expecting company outfit. Also probably one of convenience though since despite his lightweight outfit, a ridge of sweat was beaded beneath his hairline.
"What's with the flower?" he asked with a nod towards the red rose who know had a soaked paper towel wrapped around the end along with a plastic baggie she'd stolen from Normal along with a rubber band.
"What's with the heat?" she retorted.
"I don't know, but that's what they've trying to figure out for the entire day. Your turn."
"Valentine's Day," she asked with a cocked head, "ever heard of it?" What did he really think she couldn't get someone for Valentine's Day…If she wanted to of course.
"Ah yes Valentine's Day," he said with a nod.
"Miss the sea of pink today?"
"Stuck indoors unfortunately," he smiled, "figured I shouldn't leave a half dozen strangers staring blankly at my walls without me."
"Where is everyone?"
"Lunch break, they said they'd be back in an hour," he looked over at the time on his computer, "an hour and a half ago."
"Little late for lunch isn't it?" she asked popping up onto the spare table she swore he kept just for her since she'd never seen him use it and there was always enough space left for her even when things were on it and every other available surface.
"Maybe it means they won't need a dinner break," he smiled.
"Dinner," her expression grew faux serious, "knew there was a reason I stopped by, aside from this exhilarating conversation about the date and wall-staring. So what do you say meal ticket?"
He smiled as he went to push himself with a supporting hand on the desk, "I think I owe you more than just dinner lately." His smile was nearly blinding as he stood on those 'not quite' steady legs.
She smiled and waited for him to move.
"Especially since I think I need you to grab the walker for me because I've been sitting a little too long," he admitted about the walker which was just out of his reach….Why hadn't he wheeled towards it first and then stood?
She laughed as she quickly hopped off and moved it towards him, "A little less exciting than my normal missions, but nonetheless meaningful"
"Thanks," he smiled as his legs started to grow accustomed to once more bearing weight and he started to move.
"No biggie," she smiled and contemplated pinching herself to wipe it off her face.
"So salad or a sandwich, I don't think it's wise to add anymore heat to the apartment, do you?"
"Explain to me why there's an or in that statement and we'll talk."
"Okay salad and sandwich, coming up," he laughed as he finally neared the kitchen. Walking might be amazing, but it was certainly slower than his chair had been. Not that he ever wanted to go back…
"Want any-" she began to ask as he headed to the fridge.
His head shook, "Take a load off Max, you have your talents," he smiled, "I have mine."
A catlike smile as he turned to the fridge and she hopped up on the island. "Is that whipped cream?" she hopped down as he started to grab things out. That un-familiar, but so well known sight of red. The one bit of red aside from these walls that she was actually happy to see today.
He turned and smiled, as she reached past him and grabbed it out. "I had vague plans of dessert when I saw it in the store."
The lid was popped and tossed onto the counter past him, her finger on the nozzle, "Hmm probably unhygienic and rude," she pouted.
He laughed, "I think we're okay on the un-hygienic since at the moment there's more you than me flowing around my body. You'll probably eat the whole can in under five minutes though if you keep that up," he said laughing as she took that as an immediate invitation to press down on the spray, her mouth filling within seconds as she refused to let up.
She looked at him, much like the cat and the canary as she swallowed.
"Sit down," he ordered taking away the canister.
She did as instructed.
His footsteps slow and a little shaky as he made his way to the island without the walker. "Put out your hand," he ordered as he held the canister prepared to spray.
Her hand went out.
"My mother used to do this to me when I was little," his lips held a small smile, a mixture of being pulled between the past and the present.
Her eyes were looking up as his focused down on her as the first gust of coolness spread over the pad over her thumb and her stomach unexpectedly clenched. He looked up and smiled on the third finger.
She tried to return it, but it didn't make it all the way, the corners of her lips apparently attached to her stomach.
"So you pace yourself," he explained as he went to put the can down.
She forced herself to nod, "Smart mother."
"She thought so," he smiled as he was mid-walk to the fridge.
Her pointer was cleaned first, even though her taste buds seemed to have pulled a disappearing act in the last minute.
"So what are your plans for the night?" He turned, "The guy who gave you the flower?" his eyes teased.
"Yea Logan, I'm going to rush out and have an affair with the sixty year old who gave me a flower out of his wife's bouquet."
He laughed, "So what are your plans tonight?"
Notice how he's not asking you to stay? "Hitting up Crash with Kendra, she's in full pout mode because Walter has to work."
"Oh," he nodded, his eyes falling briefly as he put everything on the counter.
"You could join?" She offered, "I'll take anyone out that says anything about your walker," she smiled.
He laughed, "Me and my walker are okay with each other for the moment, provided he doesn't get any ideas about sticking around."
"So your car's a girl, the walker's a guy, let me guess, the fridge is a female and named Bertha?"
"Bertha?" he jokingly looked appalled, "How could she ever say such a thing about you Ceres?" he asked the appliance.
"Goddess of the Harvest?"
He turned with a smile, "Seemed appropriate."
"I think you could definitely use some time out of the penthouse Logan."
He laughed as he slowly made his way, once more with his newfound friend, Mr. Walker to grab everything else he'd need, "I would if my apartment wasn't swarming with every single person that has nothing better to do in the building."
"Offer still stands if they leave early; you know where I'll be."
"If I can get to the shower early, I'll stop by."
"We're there till curfew," she refused to give him an easy way out.
He looked up, "It took me twenty minutes to walk to my car yesterday, if they don't leave early, I'm not sure I'd make it there by curfew," he ragged on himself.
"Are you trying to apply your free-meal ticket to your drink ticket?" he asked with lighthearted eyes.
"Hey," she said with all seriousness, "as you pointed out, you owe me lately," she ended with a laugh.
"Good point," he smiled and nodded the knife in her direction.
"So," she began as he set about making their salad, the sandwiches already put to the side allowing everything he'd drizzled on to seep into the bread, "what's this dessert I missed out on?"
"Brownies," he paused for a second looking up before his attention went back to the tomato. "Actually I'd been in the mood for S'mores after seeing graham crackers in someone's basket as I walked in, but of course they were out of marshmallows."
"Did Logan Cale give up in his pursuit of some culinary ingredient?" she mocked.
He laughed, "Logan Cale was lucky not to have fallen asleep from exhaustion as his purchases were rung up," he could admit it, learning to walk again was kicking his ass. There was a reason babies slept so much.
"So brownies and whipped cream?"
"Would have been ice cream if their stock wasn't freezer burned. My guess is the blackout last week." Over half the city had gone dark and stayed that way for almost the full day.
"You opened up the ice cream?"
"Even I'm not going to pay ten bucks for a pint without checking."
"So where were you going to make s'mores. Got a fireplace hiding in a closet I missed?"
"You know," he admitted honestly, "I hadn't really gotten that far in my thoughts." He laughed. "A candle maybe?"
"It was my understanding that s'mores had to be made over an open flame and plenty of fresh air or they're not true s'mores."
"I'll open the skylight," he smiled.
"You smelled the air out there recently?" she asked with a half smile.
"Point taken," he nodded and started chopping carrots. "Got any interest in a drive to the country one of these weekends?" he asked a moment later.
"One of these weekends meaning…"
"A couple of weeks, maybe a month," he shrugged as he continued to cut. He stopped to look up, "Might as well go when we can do everything. No point in taking two drives."
"And everything would be?" she asked unconsciously leaning a little closer.
"Dizzying heights…fresh country air…hiking in the Cascades…"
"I thought you were afraid of heights?" her head tilted in amusement.
"I'm okay when my feet are firmly on the ground," he smiled.
"Hmm," she murmured as she smiled.
"So what do you say? I've already got the graham crackers and chocolate."
"Just tell me when, I'll get the marshmallows."
"Sounds like a plan," he nodded.
"It does," she nodded back, "doesn't it?"