"Valentine's Day is a lie. Not as much of a lie as the War, though. But who wants to get mushy cards with pictures of naked babies on them?"
"Has anyone sent you any cards with naked babies lately?"
"Well, my mother used to, until I send her the card back with a leaf pasted onto it. You know," he runs his hand through his hair, again. And sighs. "It's not like I have anyone to send a card to. But definitely a lie." He adds, running back to his earlier comment.
"Well, what, you don't have any affairs outside Devon?" Phineas darts his eyes over, glares. "Oh, well, you know what I mean. Any affairs, at all, really. Of course they're outside Devon." He nods, and Phineas imitates him.
"Well," Phineas interrupts the silence in the air, "Brinker's doing something. I don't know. Kept going on about it this morning. Oh," he lowers his voice, leaning in, "probably his mom." Gene laughs, bubbling up from inside and bursting, unable to control himself (and reminding himself that it isn't that funny). But Phineas smiles and leans back, resting his palms on the bed and holding himself up this way.
"You know," he says, "I think I may actually do something. Write a love note and send it to Leper's door, or something. Curly handwriting." He smiles. But Gene crinkles his nose, and says "That's crazy." But then he laughs, and Phineas is so silent when he says "Hmm" that Gene does not hear him.
finny and -
Finny reaches across him and takes the butter. And as he does, he whispers (so warm), "I wrote a love letter and slipped it under Leper's door. I couldn't help it and put one under Brinker's, as well. My cursive handwriting is poor," he pulls away, smiling, as Brinker joins them at the table. Completely normal, it seems. No naked cupids or flowers or hearts anywhere, so he thinks, it's alright. And especially Brinker. It's odd, for someone who just got a fake valentine.
As Gene is pulling his pajama pants on, Finny crawls into bed and is finally quiet. The day wasn't very busy, Gene knows, so the quiet is unusual (and unwelcome). When he finally crawls into bed, he puts his hand underneath his pillow to fluff it and fill it to his liking. But where he expects to find soft, cool fabric, he only feels rough, dry paper. Paper. A card.
(And Finny is staring at him, as he has been ever since he got into bed, Gene realizes.)
He pulls it out and examines it in the darkness, lifting his head up ever-so-slightly. "Do you know about this?" he asks, and Finny only stares at him, the corners of his mouth edging up slightly. "Well," he says, decisively, opening the card, because it is blank and unrevealing on the front.
Inside, in poor cursive with the lowercase Is dotted with hearts (ridiculous, he thinks), it reads: "Valentine's day isn't a lie, is it. I never sent any cards other than this one, to you. Well, basically, I guess I should say I love you, since it's true. and not just in the friend way either. My face is as red as those ridiculous hearts you see all over, just so you know. i love you. finny."
And at the same time that Gene feels like he wants to laugh for the ridiculousness of it all - his friend in love with him, a boy - but then he wants to cry, too. And it's so overwhelmingly confusing that all he can do is look at Phineas, and smile. And feels warm cheeks, and then Phineas's face blurs behind tears.
"You know," he half-whispers, "you're so stupid." And laughs nervously. "For not telling me sooner."
(Phineas crawls into his bed then, and when Gene wakes up, it is to find himself more comfortable than ever. And a card on the floor, in poor cursive.)