"Va-len-tine," said Garrus, rolling the human word over his tongue. Hm. Smooth like silk, like so much of human language, but then most of it was compared to most turian dialects.
"Yes! It's an important human ritual," said Kelly from across the table. He had found her at the mess table, surrounded by little cards, some written in human languages, others not, along with little boxes. One was open, revealing its contents of round colored confections... if memory served him right, the brown meant they were chocolate. Or meatloaf. "It's based on a story, of a man who married couples of a religion in a time when it was banned, and he was executed for it. Saint Valentine. Now we exchange candy and things between lovers, to show that we care."
Garrus stared. "Let me see if I have this correct. A man was murdered, and humanity's response was to give each other sweets."
The yeoman smiled up at him. She was holding open one of the cards, the thing being very gaudily pink and blue, with a voice file attached with what distinctly sounded like an elcor voice saying, Sincere request, will you be my valentine?. "Yes! To prove our love and appreciation for each other, that we'd even risk death to be able to show the world how we felt. Nowadays, people give them between friends and colleagues, too... but mostly, it's still marketed towards people in an intimate relationship."
Oh. "It's... important?"
"Oh, I'd say so!" Kelly said excitedly. "Definitely one of the bigger human holidays..." She paused to consider the thought. "Though maybe not as big as the more religious holidays, like Christmas, or Yom Kippur."
"I... see..." Garrus stared down at his hands as he thought more silently, his friend across from him continuing to talk about how commercialized it had all become, that Japan actually had two kinds of Valentine Days, how her sister got dumped once by an asari on Valentine's though she hadn't really meant to do it on that one day she had always been a little culturally insensitive in Kelly's opinion...
How could he have not known? Now that he actually thought about it, there had been clues. Earlier that day, he had been visiting Chakwas to keep up on his cybernetics' maintenance, and there had been a red alien flower on her desk. When he asked about it, she had simply blushed and glanced out the window towards Mess Sergent Gardner's kitchen and mumbled something about 'wasted on the youth'. And before that, Daniels in engineering had asked what he was doing for the fourteenth. When he had told her exactly what his plans were - "Shepard and I were thinking of practicing our sparring, she says she has a new move she wants to try out" - she had giggled and walked off.
Wait, had that been innuendo? Damn.
He had to do something.
Kelly continued. "... I sometimes wish it were more like Christmas or a birthday, you know, you can tell people what you'd like then but on Valentine's you have to be more spontaneous, so people don't like to ask! It's really frustrating, because I always get dark chocolate, and I much prefer white-" She paused as she realized that Garrus had disappeared. Aww. With a shrug, she returned to sorting out her cards.
Huh. Funny. She didn't remember talking to that councilor at all...
Twelve hours. He had twelve hours left in the day to find something that would be romantic but not too cheesy, impulsive but planned, erotic without being dirty...
Garrus narrowed his eyes at the console in front of him. He had nearly a dozen windows open as he poured through the extranet for guidance. The variety in the holiday seemed extreme, many humans decrying it as a capitalist mess but still adhering to it out of fear of alienating a loved one, others seeing it as a turning point for an entire relationship whether for good or bad. Humans. Couldn't they agree on... anything?
A few things seemed to be agreed upon though. For men, suitable gifts were clothes, musk, hats, and equipment for what he could only presume was a sport called 'golf'. Utilitarian, it seemed, he approved of that. For women, though, the variety seemed to be much more focused on vanity items. Flowers, more musks but of a sweeter sort called perfume, that chocolate stuff again, and... very revealing clothing. He had gotten a bit lost in that last section, considering which ones could best show off her waist, when a voice coughed behind him.
Garrus choked and cut off the screen, turning around to view his spy. A very stoic drell stood in front of the closed door. "Oh. Hey, Thane... you surprised me."
"So I observed. I apologize for intruding on your, ah, personal time. I wished to ask you about the location of the commander."
"Visiting her folks on the Citadel; it's one of the few times their ships are at the same dock, so she's spending the day with them..." Something occurred to him. If it were so important, why would she spend the day with her parents instead of him? No, that was selfish of him; she got to see him every day in close quarters. This was her first time seeing her family since her death. Shepard deserved to see them. But still...
Thane tilted his head curiously at the younger alien. "If I may say so... you seem troubled."
"Huh? Oh. Um, yeah, a bit. I was researching something."
The drell's hairless eyebrows went up just a hair. He reminded him of an elcor, Garrus had decided months ago, where just the millimeter of changed facial muscles could mean a world of emotion. In this case, it seemed to indicate amusement. Oh spirits. "I noticed."
"No. Not like that." Well, kind of. "It's Valentine's Day." At Thane's completely blank look, Garrus added, "A romantic human holiday. Big one. I'm supposed to be looking for gifts for us to... share."
"Ahhh. I see." Taking a seat on a crate, Thane suggested, "There is a similar drell holiday. Kim'sakah. It's a day many married couples take the day off together in seclusion, originally to meditate and repent on transgressions upon their relationship..." He frowned a bit. "However, most younger generations today use it as an excuse to not work and fornicate."
"This seems kind of the same," Garrus mused. "Except, with a lot more buying stuff."
"It would make sense, for humans. Very invested in their material items, in my experiences, perhaps an evolutionary instinct to hoard."
"Isn't Earth incredibly abundant on resources, though?"
Thane blinked up at him with those black pools of eyes, and shrugged. He had no idea. "I never claimed that humans made any real sense."
"Hm." Point. The two men remained in silence for a while, both considering the oddness of the ape species they so often found themselves in company with. Garrus broke it with, "I'm thinking flowers."
"Does Shepard like flowers?"
"Some. It depends." He considered his memory for a bit. "She liked those giant flowers on Corpus 9."
"I think she laughed at that because it ate a merc trying to shoot at us," Thane pointed out, having been on that mission, "not because she liked the bloom itself."
Damn! No, wait, she did like one kind of flower... But was it the right kind? He knew someone to ask, so he pulled up one of the windows again, showing his companion the various brands and bottles he had found. "Perfume, you think?"
Thane looked over the list for a moment, reading some aloud, "Peach vanilla. Ocean wave. Mint. Pine." He narrowed his eyes as he leaned in to peer at the top listed ones. "I'm not sure what a 'chanel' is."
"Sounds like a bird to me."
"Perhaps. None of these strike me as being something Shepard would enjoy."
He was probably right. Garrus closed his eyes and tried to think of how she smelled. At the worst of times, blood, sweat, burned heat sinks, metal. At the best of times... all of that, just minus the blood. It brought a small grin to his face, mandibles fluttering. Whoa, had to remember, company. "Well, what do drell do for their women?"
"Singing," Thane said with a nod. "Singing is very much appreciated in a man. Also, bright colors; the better looking his skin, the more likely he'll have offers."
"Yes. Some of the largest business on Kahje cater to singing lessons, and skin products to prevent scale shedding."
"I'm not much of a singer..." Garrus bemoaned with a frown to himself. "But... she could use, ah, skin items maybe." The maybe was not needed. She did. Mordin had nearly run out of oils, and he had complained about it bitterly, damning 'horomonal races with lack of other productive outlets!'. That was a step in the right direction... maybe getting advice from others would help him see better options. "Thanks, Krios. I've gotta go."
"As do I. Samara wished to show me some meditation techniques I was not yet aware of. I'll leave you to your... research." The assassin stood and left, with Garrus following soon after. His confidence rose as he considered his new mission. It was a challenge, and he liked challenges.
Project Valentine had begun.
Nodding, Kasumi got to her feet and pulled one of the red blooms from her vase, handing it to him. It was the same species as the one from the med bay, he noticed as he brought it to his nose and sniffed. The smell was overpoweringly strong and sticky, making him cough a bit. Ew. "This is romantic?"
"Might smell different for turians, I guess, all that amino acid what-have-you... But for humans, it's a bit of a mix of sweet and musky, a little earthy if you can get them fresh." A smile appeared on the Japanese woman's shadowed face as she cupped a rose gently in her hands. She seemed very fond of them. A little surprising to him; he would not have pinned the joking, precocious thief as a romantic. "And a classic. They even have their own individual meanings, depending on the color."
Garrus tilted his head. A language, for flowers? "Like what?"
"Oh, dozens! You have to be careful about which ones you use... Yellow flowers can mean you're a good friend as well as a good lover, but some people interpret it as 'I just want to be your friend because I've lost the spark'. Purple is back in style, it's for falling in love at first sight, supersweet. Pink is for admiration, but it just doesn't have the same passion as red, which is a little overdone but what can I say, if something isn't broken..." She paused, noting how Garrus had frozen in his seat at the bar. "You okay there, birdie?"
"I- Just-" The turian groaned. "I feel like I should be taking notes."
Kasumi giggled and gave him a pat on the shoulder. "Garrus, you don't have enough computer space in the Normandy for the information you can gather about human ladies."
"Roses. Trust me on this."
"Valentine's?" Miranda blinked at him from over her holographic monitor as she continued to furiously type into her console. "What on Earth for?"
"Shepard," said Garrus. "It's, you know, a human holiday." He had brought a pad for note-taking this time.
She arched an eyebrow at him speculatively, pausing in her typing. "I'm aware, Officer Vakarian. I am human."
He sighed and ran a hand over his fringe, shaking his head. "No. I meant- Look, you know Shepard better than anyone, right?"
"I did spend two years pouring over her bloody corpse, and nearly as long researching her childhood, military history and personality," Miranda agreed with the steeled confidence that he'd come to expect of her. "Why do you ask?"
"Well... did you research her... romantic likes? Dislikes?"
"I would think you would know that," she offered questioningly.
"I do! It's just that- the rules seem to be kind of specific for this kind of thing. Gifts, colors, meanings. I don't want to offend her, you know?"
The former Cerberus operative stared at him for a moment before shaking her head. He always had a feeling that she found his and the commander's relationship confusing. From such a pro-human standpoint, he supposed he could understand it if not like it. It wasn't anti-alien phobia, most definitely not... But she didn't quite seem to understand Shepard's attraction to him. Sometimes, Garrus wondered that himself. But he was also aware of what a tight relationship the two women had, bordering on intimate given Miranda's role in bringing Solona back from the dead. He trusted Miranda's judgments as well as his own. "Well. Humans like meaningful gestures, proof that the person giving the gift is sincere and not just seeking something physical."
"I thought the point of the holiday was to accrue a mate," he asked. This was getting more confusing by the moment. The intention was to garner a partner's affection, but if you openly showed your physical attraction, you were in trouble for being a pervert? Why were humans so contradictory?
"It is. Kind of. But humans like to have an emotional investment in their partners," Miranda tried to explain. "Yes, the sexual attraction is there, but the point of the holiday is that you want to take care of them for more than just a romp in the bed, by giving them romantic gifts to show your feelings. Don't turians have anything similar?"
"Well... sort of. If your wife or girlfriend conceives, you can get pillows, for her back and hips. That's romantic. Also, paint for her fringe and collar, to accentuate her clan markings and eyes. Files, to make her talons sharper."
"... Yeah, that's not going to work." She shook her head again in disdain and began to type into her monitor again, then handed him a pad with the results. "Here. It's a list of human-primary stores on the Citadel, as well as a few that cater to interspecies relationships specifically. A lot of them are having specials on Valentine's. Maybe the shop people can help you find something to her tastes?"
He looked it over, nodding in agreement. "Good idea. Thanks."
She offered him a smile as he stood to go. Genuine, even. "Vakarian. You..."
"Just, remember. Valentine is only one day. It's the rest of those days after that matter."
He thought that over. She rarely gave advice out to anyone other than Shepard, and when it was given, it was usually in annoyance because the other person was being a moron, in her opinion. Even Shepard wasn't immune to that. But she looked honest enough, with a slight thoughtful expression on her face. "Thank you, Lawson."
"No problem, officer." As he left her office, he heard her com chirp open.
"Jacob? Yes, it's Miranda. Still have that bottle?"
Zaeed, Grunt and Jack were all huddled around a table in the cargo bay, each one of them cradling something in their hands. It seemed that Zaeed was trying to yet again pull the krogan youngster under his grizzled wing; Grunt did seem to have a respect for the old merc's ruthlessness and desire for revenge. And Jack, of course, just loved to be around those willing to be as vulgar as she was. This was no surprise to Garrus. What was a surprise to him was the stack of cards and brightly colored chips.
Oh spirits, were they trying to teach him poker?
This was already a disaster waiting to happen. Glad they hadn't yet noticed him, he quickly backed out and away. And he left at the best possible moment, it seemed.
"Hey. Hey! You motherfucking bastard, I saw that!"
"That goddamn card in your sleeve!"
"I'll prove it all right! I'll prove it with my fist in your ass!"
Garrus groaned as he got into the elevator, hearing a chair flung against the wall. He was desperate. But not this desperate. The doors closed just as he heard Grunt's gleeful cackle.
"This game is way more fun now!"
"Why in Keelah's name are you asking me?"
"You're a woman, aren't you?"
"I'm a quarian woman," Tali'Zorah pointed out. Even with a cloaking mask covering her face, there was no hiding the slight annoyance in her voice as she pulled away from the Hammerhead's engine. She took a cloth offered by Legion to clean off her hands, who continued to work even as its head was turned towards the pair of organics. "Really, Garrus, you can't just go around asking every female on the ship what they find attractive, especially when half of us aren't even the same species as Shepard."
"Officer Vakarian seeks to further attract Shepard Commander?" asked Legion, tilting its head to the side. He wondered, not for the first time, was it truly curious or was it learned behavior to simulate non-synthetic people? Creepy. "We believed it was already in a monogamous physical relationship with the commander? Perhaps lacking information." It stiffened, the light of its head dimming. "Beginning search."
Tali shook her head at the immobile geth and returned her attention to Garrus. "I'm honestly not sure what advice I could give you, Garrus. But it seems like a lot of these things of this 'Valentines' are a bit... stereotypical."
"Search inconclusive," stated the geth to nobody in particular.
"Well, look at the information you showed me," she said, pointing to his pad. It was starting to run out of memory, as predicted. "All the gifts for the men are things that they can use, not very romantic or, um, sexy by human standards. Unless there's some hidden message in 'kiss the cook' that my translator is messing up. But all the things for the women are a little flimsy or meant to get into her good favor. And really, can you see the Commander sitting about with perfume, chocolate and little flowers?"
The trio paused to consider that. Garrus snorted at the mental image, Tali giggled a bit, and Legion quipped in with, "Illogical."
"Legion has a point for once," admitted Tali. "I don't think you're going to get anywhere following those silly 'rules'. There are hundreds of gifts you could get her that she'd love a lot more."
"Yeah, but how many of those are romantic?" Garrus asked with a frustrated sigh. "And how do I know that she won't hate it? Or get her something that, really, I find sexy by turian standards that's just hugely gross to humans? Or vice versa?"
"You sound like you're talking from experience there..."
Garrus couldn't help the deep body shake that made his mandibles click together and his plates stiffen. The whipped cream incident would not be repeated. It would not be mentioned.
"Gifts of food are often common interspecies gifts; all organics consume, and are driven by evolutionary requirements to survive, thus making offers of food and liquids suitable whether to consume on site or store for harder times," Legion offered logically, "thus showing mate's capability to keep chosen partner or partners and their offspring alive for lengthy periods of time. However, this is a moot point given the current state of turian-human mating capabilities."
"Um, not all organics do... it... for reproducing, Legion," Garrus pointed out.
"We aware of this. Still hypothesizing on logic. Estimating possible conclusion of data and consensus in... two months, four weeks, six days. Or longer."
With a sigh, Garrus got up from the crate, pocketing the pad. "Um, thanks anyway. Food's a good idea though. Good luck with the truck."
Tali and Legion watched him sulk away, waiting until the door had closed behind him to glance to each other. "The organic concept of romance is confusing to us," Legion offered, and handed out another tool for her.
She shook her head and took the offered item, turning back to the engine. "Tell me about it."
So it did.
The last person he went to visit was perhaps the first one he should have visited, Garrus considered. Mordin had been helpful for their first date, hadn't he? And he was a doctor. It was universal that doctors were to be trusted with all information, especially the personal stuff, to better help you with your health. And the vids he had sent to him before their mission completed had been... very helpful indeed. So no doubt he'd have advice, right?
"I do not have any such advice on romantic matters, Garrus."
Garrus stared at the salarian who was bent over a microscope, staring down into tiny little cups. "What?"
"Am a scientist. Doctor! Not a match-maker, I'm afraid," Mordin pointed out with a sigh, sitting up from his testing to grab another vial, scuttling across the room to put it in cryo before turning to face him. "Not expert on human rituals either. Fascinating, though. Many human holidays tend to deal with three major events but few others. Sex, birth, death. Interesting, their obsessions, yes, yes."
"So... you don't have any of those guides, or vids, or anything to suggest?"
Mordin tilted his head curiously. "Such vids are in abundance on the extra net."
"I did look for them. But... well, most of them weren't exactly in the spirit of education." He'd saved a few of them, though. For non-educational matters.
"Ahh. Yes. Did not consider pornographic factor of research, no, but best results may not turn up with safety filter on. Troublesome." Mordin closed his eyes and paced in a small circle, thinking, while the turian waited patiently. It was only a few moments before he came to a halt, holding up a single finger as if holding it aloft for inspiration to strike it.
"Clothing, very important to humans, skin suited for constant sun but not very strong against wind, rain, or temperature damage. Silly, really. Also, important towards self-esteem as well as public indications towards sexual availability. Perhaps suggest that you look into that?"
Garrus thought about it. He had been looking at clothing before Thane had walked in on him... but maybe it didn't just have to be that sort. She rarely wore much casual clothing, though, outside of her armor. She had her softer but functional uniform for when she was on the ship. Long-sleeved pajamas for the nights he shared her bed, so cuddling didn't leave her with more scrapes in the morning than usual. She didn't wear makeup or any jewelry like a lot of human men and women, he knew that, too easy for it to run in her eyes or get ripped off in a close fight; oh, how she'd complained bitterly about the get up she'd worn to help Kasumi. It hadn't surprised him that she'd come back barefoot from that, because she had taken off the horrid heels to smash them into an unfortunate merc's eyes.
Ah. An idea occurred to him. He smiled and nodded to Mordin. "Thanks a lot."
"Always glad to help, Garrus," said Mordin with a nod. "Enjoy the sexual-romantic nature of the holiday."
"Um, I will. See you later."
With Mordin behind him, Garrus made his way for the airlock. He had a plan. He had the credits. Time to put it in action.
Solona stepped back into the Normandy with a smile on her face. It had been good to see her parents, even after the epic tear her mother had given her via private messages for not contacting them sooner. But to see the joy on her mother and father's faces when she had stepped through the door... it had been worth the whole damn thing. Now with a stomach stuffed full of the best Louisiana cuisine she could stomach and then some, and a promise to keep about introducing her 'new beau' to the parents, she was ready to finish off the day.
She was fairly certain Garrus didn't know what day it was. In fact, she was counting on it. She'd had EDI scope out the main battery before quickly having a crew member deposit a package there in plain sight. Now, all she had to do was get back to her quarters without him noticing, wait for him to find it and... bam.
Who said she couldn't do sneaky?
Walking past the crew and up the elevator, she walked into her quarters. And right off the bat, she knew something was... different. There was a smell in the air... like... something her grandfather wore...
Walking down the small steps, she first spotted it on her bed. It was a basket, a nice one, but the things inside were what caught her attention.
It was the most random assortment of things she'd yet seen in her room. A pair of leather boots, her size, a dark blue to match her armor. An assortment of roses in nearly every natural color available, all carefully stuffed to fit into one thin vase so it looked like they were simply trying to explode from their porcelain prison. A bag of freeze-dried shrimp. And, oddest of all, a pack of the latest available heat sinks with a pink bow wrapped around it.
Someone coughed behind her and she whirled around to see Garrus stepping out of the bathroom, in a new suit no less. Long and black with intermitting white lines, it actually suited him very well. He had a nervous look on his face, one she hadn't seen in a while. Aww. She forgot how cute it was, really. "Hey."
"Hey yourself. Didn't we discuss you not popping in here without a warning?"
"That it was, while amusing, slightly creepy to anyone else."
"That's right, hun." She walked up to him and put her hands to his chest, leaning in to kiss his cheek. Ah. That was where the smell was coming from. "Christ, Garrus, did you bath in that cologne or just dump a bucket over your head?"
"Too much? I just put some on my fringe and neck," he said, rubbing his palm at his exposed skin as if it'd make it go away. "Bad?"
"Nah, just a lot of it." She sniffed it a little closer to his non-plated neck. It actually did smell good, the cologne mixing weirdly with his natural smell. Like... new car. Huh. "Did you set this up?"
"Yes!" He took her by the hand, showing her the basket. "Happy Valentine's. I was told this is what you're supposed to do, for humans."
Solona couldn't help a small blush. He had remembered. Or, at least, been told. She suspected the latter but it was still nice. "The roses are pretty... What's up with the seafood though?"
He looked over at her amused expression and almost immediately looked crestfallen. "Not right, is it?"
"Garrus..." Shepard sighed and took his face in her hands, feeling his mandibles tensing with displeasure at himself. "What's wrong with it?"
"Well, I was told roses are the best flowers to get, even though I know sunflowers are your favorites, but Kasumi said that roses have meanings. Pink for admiration, red for passion, yellow for friendship... I couldn't decide which one was how I felt. So, I got all of them, because I feel all those things. The boots are because I know you need a new pair, you go through them like crazy and complain about it. And the shrimp... You like to cook a lot. And you always talk about New Orleans, that city you were born in? I looked up what sort of food they make, and you told me once you missed getting gumbo from your parents. So, I thought we could make it here."
She didn't say a word, staring up at him with an expression he couldn't place a word to. Now he was babbling, he knew it, but he wanted to explain to her, "I thought... all of those things... all the vids and stores said I should get you frilly, shiny things. But they just weren't you. I wanted to get you something that made me think of you. Is... is that all right? Because-"
"You oaf." And she pulled him close, chest tight to his, arms wrapped around his neck with her fingers closing around the tip of his fringe. He was surprised but quickly relaxed into it. He purred softly at the feel of her lips on his neck and mandibles as she murmured, "Garrus. It's the best present I've ever gotten."
"Really. Valentine's... it's not about the presents. Companies have tried to make it that way for hundreds of years, because they're greedy fuckers who'll sell their grandma for a chit. But this... this is what it's supposed to be." She smiled. He loved it when she smiled. She was so fierce, so energized, so stoic sometimes that it was a rarity. He could count on his hands how many times he saw her smile to others outside of the crew; he knew he was privileged to see her love so close. "I'd take one bag of shrimp from you over a million diamonds, any day."
"I... well..." Now it was his turn to be flustered, squirming slightly but happily. "I'm glad you like it."
She chuckled and planted a last kiss on his upper lip before turning to the door, his hands in hers. "Come on. I have something for you too."
Down the elevator, towards the battery. He felt the eyes of the crew, heard the muffled whispers and chuckles, but he couldn't care. As the humans said, he was on cloud nine. She'd liked it. He'd done it right.
Solona pulled him into the battery room and locked the door behind them. "Close your eyes."
"Okay..." He did so, and let himself be sat down on the crate, hands turned upwards and resting on his thighs. After a moment, something heavy but familiar in shape rested in them. It was damned hard to resist the urge to look down. "Now?"
He opened his eyes and barked out out a laugh of glee. "I'll be damned." He held up the brand new rifle and looked it over. It was a beast of a thing, varnished in a blue so dark it was near black. "This is... the M-100 Viper, isn't it?"
"It is indeed," she said proudly. "I pulled a few strings, it's one of the first ten out from Rosenkov."
Ooh. Ooooooooh. Like a child with a new toy, he quickly looked it over while Solona patiently waited. "Scope is amazing, was always tricky on the M-97, much nicer grip..." With a happy sigh, Garrus looked back up to her. "This is wonderful. Thanks."
"Hold up, hun. One more thing." Taking the rifle out of his hands, she put it to the side and climbed into his lap, a sultry look in her eyes. Oh. Oh he liked where this was going. He ran a hand down along her dark arm, the other supporting her waist, as she leaned in and... turned off his translator. Huh? "Solona?"
She put a finger to her lips and paused. It looked like she was concentrating. Then, haltingly, she said, "I love you."
The commander shook her head and repeated it again, closer to his skin. "I love you."
Why did she sound so different? Her voice was focused and a bit choppy. Like she was struggling to speak.
His eyes went wide as he realized. "Are you speaking turian?"
Solona laughed and nodded, adding very carefully, "I am learning, a little bit. Thought you would like it. Good?"
He chuckled. She sounded a bit like a toddler, taking her first verbal steps. But when she leaned in again, kissing along his neck, tongue prodding at the tiny and sensitive plates there behind his jaw, with those words still being whispered against his skin... His heart was skipping beats.
"Happy Valentine's, Garrus."
He held her tight as he could, glad to feel her return the embrace. If he did anything right... it was her. "Happy Valentine's."
Inside a single ship...
A yeoman with notes from admirers, friends, former lovers; friendly and soft, dark and erotic, or nostalgic and bittersweet.
A pair of lost souls set on their paths, sitting back to back in silence, spending their solace in friendly company.
The thief, her heart stolen and hidden away in a box, tears rolling down her smiling face as she watches her memories.
Co-workers, sharing old stories over champagne, stealing glances, smiles, touches.
Company spent in friends, laughing and cursing, taking time to laugh at the roughness of life's edges.
Old enemies, careful allies, sympathetic friends, working toward the common goal.
The professional, in rapture with his work, every new bit of data like a child, every bit of information a rush of glee to his soul.
And two lovers, insecure, safe, strong, vulnerable, wrapped in the warm red glow.
And the meaning of a holiday.