Summary: V is for Visitors or maybe Valentine's Day; as it is, only Ryan is one half of a couple and the team can't help but bicker and snipe. Jack despairs of victory if they can't all just get along – but then their shared hatred for Anna is as powerful as their bonds of friendship and love
Notes: For a scifiland challenge. First season setting.
"V Day?" Erica blurted out and scrambled for the remote. The televisions were always on, some showing news channels, others the security feeds for the safehouse, but the sound was usually muted. What Erica had just seen out of the corner of her eye had alarmed her enough to warrant listening to the report as well as watching it.
Hobbes finally retrieved the remote control and turned up the volume as Erica watched anxiously, biting at her lower lip. Jack and Ryan looked up from the map they'd been studying to see what the commotion was.
"This year's celebration is good news for the economy with sales predicted to be worth over 17 billion dollars," the female reporter said.
"They're celebrating the Visitors now?" Erica demanded. The camera panned past a storefront filled with red heart shaped items, soft toys, and greetings cards.
"I think they mean Valentine's Day," Jack said gently. Hobbes laughed and Erica shot him a look that promised pain if he pushed her too far.
"V Day," Ryan said. "Valentine's. Not Visitors. That's, er…an understandable mistake."
Erica shook her head, annoyed with herself. "Look what they've done to us. They've infiltrated every aspect of our lives so that even a simple celebration of romance sounds like a threat."
"Valentine's Day is a threat," Hobbes said. "It's a minefield of remembering it and doing something appropriate for it, spending enough money on it - or else."
"Like you'd know anything about that," Erica scoffed.
"Hey! There's things you don't know about me, things you can't tell from reading my military record and arrest warrants. I've been around the block, as it were," Hobbes said.
"I'm talking about relationships not one night stands," she returned.
"So am I."
"Yet here you are, living alone in a basement."
It was a cheap shot and she regretted it as soon as she'd said it. She couldn't really blame him for retaliating, "Well I'm not the only one sleeping alone."
Jack put himself physically between them in an effort to stop the almost inevitable violence before it could start. "It's actually a religious festival," he said, by way of distraction, "named for Saint Valentine."
"Spare us the sermon," Hobbes said, muting the television again. "These days it's all about the merchandising, like that reporter was saying. And who cares? Anyway, it comes to something when the only one of us not sleeping alone is the alien."
Ryan stared at Hobbes, but decided to take it as a compliment rather than use it as an excuse to bicker. "What can I say? I'm charming."
Erica smiled at him. "Yes, yes you are."
Jack breathed a sigh of relief. Sometimes they just got on each other's nerves, and it was understandable, given the stress they were under. But they couldn't afford to fight amongst themselves. They needed each other. If humanity didn't band together to defeat the Visitors, they were all doomed; it didn't bode well when the four of them couldn't go a week without someone throwing a punch or making a deliberately hurtful remark.
"We're not alone, you know," Jack said. "We may not always be in a relationship, but we're never alone."
"You mean God?" Ryan asked sceptically and Hobbes rolled his eyes.
"No," Jack said. "Though, yes, of course, that's true as well. I meant that we have each other. Even when we're at each other's throats."
There was a moment of silence as the others considered this. Erica gave him one of her intense looks that made him feel things a priest really shouldn't feel. She smiled warmly. "You're right."
Hobbes looked at him, askance. "Is it a priest thing, the guilt tripping, or does it come naturally?"
"Since when do you feel guilty about anything?" Erica teased, but this was good natured bickering and so Jack let it go.
"I've only been observing humans a decade or so but I've learned that even the most well-matched of lovers quarrel," Ryan said to Jack as Hobbes and Erica continued to verbally spar. "And even the closest of families want to tear each other to pieces, sometimes."
Jack nodded and then pointed to the screen, "Er, Erica, maybe you were right after all."
Once again the volume was turned up. In a television studio somewhere Anna was sitting on a sofa opposite Chad Decker. Anna smiled her too wide smile as Chad asked, "So it's not a custom you're familiar with?"
"No, we do not have Valentine's Day," she explained. "But we understand that it is an opportunity to profess one's love. For us, love is, in a way, ever present, so we don't need to set aside a day for it. We experience love and joy every day. For we are –"
"Of peace, always," the Fifth Column chorused in mockery. They were all united in their opposition to Anna and it showed. It was a better bonding moment than any amount of red roses and candlelight.