Disclaimer: The only thing I own is the story idea and only some of the witty remarks. I own so little; so please don't steal.
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by any other name
They were the flowers. They were the bouquet that had materialized at the beginning of the week, the week that had the damned love holiday smack dab in the middle. They were an assortment of colorful blossoms that even the most florally challenged person – such as Jack – could identify as roses. They were a baker's dozen (thirteen) of perfect, bright, gorgeous roses with petals fresh and barely starting to open. The roses sat in a fat, glass vase in the middle of the display window at the local florist accompanied by those insignificant white things that usually came with arrangements like that. They were on a pedestal – they were that great. Surrounding the pedestal were modest second-rate flowers, the pink tulips and yellow carnations that just did not sparkle like the roses.
Jack had decided very early on that those were the flowers he was going to buy Simon for the damned love holiday. He had walked past the window many times leading up to the day because the florist was on his way to his part-time job. He had already spent many valuable seconds staring past his alluring reflection in the window to peer at the roses, which were white with pale, pink tips. They were not too bold and over mature red but they weren't gentle, hey-we're-only-friends yellow. Every time Jack saw them, he felt proud that they were his; not officially, unfortunately, but they were his in spirit.
He had considered chocolates, but those were stupid; cheap boxes were tacky and had unhealthy, inexpensive chocolate made from wax and defected cocoa beans. Jewelry was out of the question as he was not going to silly girly trinkets for Simon, who would probably have scoffed them back in his face. Lingerie was out of the question. With all the commercialism going on around him, Jack felt that something sentimental paled in comparison to the things money could buy (this troubled him slightly). So every day as he passed the flowers, he ogled at them in a way no healthy young man should toward simple flora.
"These flowers are just what I need," Jack told Roger, to which he was mercilessly tormented by his friend for such a ridiculous statement.
The day just before the damned love holiday, Jack stopped square in front of the display winder and stared deeply at the flowers. He was aware this was sort of creepy and he could see the florist at the counter sneak worried glances at the phone. But he was not going to steal these flowers: no, that would undermine the feelings that came with it – he worked hard to earn the money to buy these flowers. They were just perfect. There was no sign of rot and the petals were smooth, the leaves unwrinkled. The thorns had been smoothed out so Simon would not hurt himself holding them. Jack realized he might be overthinking doing something as simple as buying flowers, but he wouldn't be himself if he did a half-assed job.
Jack contemplated leaving home early to buy the flowers in the morning, but he would not have access to water during the day and he didn't want them to wilt by the time he gave them. They had to stay as fresh and new as he had always seen them. They stayed in his mind like an unhealthy obsession throughout the day, and they were in the back of his consciousness when he made a date with Simon after school. The boy looked eager too, as if he had known beforehand of the wonderful and extremely thought-out gift he was going to receive.
Jack Merridew, usually a by-the-book kind of man, skipped last period to pick up his flowers. As he passed the window to get to the door, he noticed that the florist had already taken the flowers down. Perfect; they were probably getting wrapped for him as he opened the door, the bell jangling cheerfully. Angels were already rooting him on. It was going to be a good day, regardless of it being the damned love holiday.
"I would like those flowers from the window; the roses," Jack said confidently, pulling out his wallet. He already knew they were seventeen-ninety-five and he even had the change ready. The florist, a hippie-looking woman in her mid-fifties, adjusted her thick spectacles and smiled sadly at him.
"I'm sorry, but someone's already bought them yesterday." Everything around Jack could have fallen down but he would not have noticed. An icy cold ran through him. How could that have happened? He had planned it all out to a T. He had passed the shop around five – and yet someone between that time and today had already beat him to the punch? The florist looked kindly at him. "I had a feeling you had wanted to buy them but this boy insisted on them. He said he had someone to give them to and he would come apologize to you in person if need be."
"Who was it?" Jack asked, as if that could change anything. It wasn't like he could find this idiot, beat him to a pulp, and take the flowers back. How could he have been so stupid? He should have reserved the flowers. He walked by so many times even the florist recognized him. And yet he had not done anything. He was such a fool.
"Someone around your age," the florist beamed. "Dark hair."
Roger. That bastard. He had known Jack had his eyes on those flowers since forever. He had probably bought them to give to that prat Eric just to spite Jack. So much for being friends for seven years! He knew when he had been duped. "Would you like anything else?" the florist asked, looking as if she wanted this enraged ginger out of her store as soon as possible. "We still have a large supply of red roses."
Red roses was cliché. Everyone did red roses. In the end, Jack settled for some deep violet carnations, violet being Simon's favorite color, and carnations having a sunny disposition. Really, this was all to distract him from conspiring against the bastard who had stolen the roses from him. Whoever the girl they were intended for had better be a Greek goddess. Sulking and dark, he made his way back to school, just in time for the last bell. Ignoring his homeroom teacher's suspicious look at his flowers, Jack gathered his books from his desk.
"Hey, you missed school to get those?" Roger asked, making his way past Jack's desk. "But I thought you wanted those glorious roses." He gave him a smirk and Jack knew it – he had stolen the roses because he was jealous and to get revenge for Jack constantly spewing the flowers' praises. Roger shrugged as Jack murdered him with his eyes. "Bad luck, I guess."
"I want to talk to you tomorrow about those," Jack hissed heatedly, and Roger raised his eyebrows. Playing stupid was such a bad ploy. "I know you've got something to give Eric today."
Roger was very good at playing stupid, because he was making Jack even madder with his confused look. "Okay…" Roger said slowly, walking out of the classroom while shooting him incredulous faces. Grumbling, Jack shouldered his bag and made his way to the back of the school, where he had arranged to meet Simon.
Simon was sitting on the ledge, a small figure in black against the sky. Jack swallowed and hoped these carnations could make up for the grandiose dreams he had had before. He had not expected the roses to make Simon fall deeply in love with him, but it was the effort behind them that counted! "Simon," he called, knowing he looked very lame with the relatively tiny carnations in his hand. Simon turned, a pretty expression on his face, when Jack saw them.
The flowers were sitting next to Simon, in neat, shiny paper and a thick black ribbon. The flowers. The roses. Jack stopped and stared at them. How did they get there? Did Roger give them to Simon? The bastard! Common sense slapped him in the face for the thought. But they were indeed the flowers he had wanted; the white and pink roses, together with those tiny white things. Simon looked up at him, then back at the roses. "I know, right?" he said, smiling fondly at the roses. "I saw them and I thought of you, so I bought them." He turned back to Jack, who was still speechless, and saw the carnations. "Oh! Are those for me?"
"I wanted to buy you those," Jack insisted, forgetting he had flowers in his hands. "Those roses were supposed to be for you." No words could have gotten his point across. Simon wasn't supposed to buy them! It was supposed to be the other way around! Simon didn't get paid enough to spend so much money like that! Simon looked at the roses again and his face lit up.
"Oh! Were you the one the woman was talking about? The one who always looked at them when he walked by." He grinned. "I'm sorry about that, Jack."
"They're supposed to be for you," Jack maintained stubbornly. "I was going to buy them for you." This was immature of him, but he had not gotten so crazy and so angry when he found out they were sold for the roses to be given back to him. He slouched down next to Simon, completely beaten. What a damned love holiday.
Simon looked at him. "We can trade," he said. "Then we can give each other the flowers again."
"It's not the same," Jack groaned. He buried his head in his hands and ended up with a nose full of carnations. He quickly extracted them and thrust them at Simon. "Here," he said bitterly. His plans had gone awry. Story of his life. Simon looked so strange, surrounded by flowers. Damned love holiday.
Simon exhaled thoughtfully. "Alright, then," he said slowly. "How about this, then? If you take me out on a really good date, I'll keep the roses and say you bought them for me. You can make up for it for treating me really nice. Okay?" He laughed at Jack's forlorn face, freckles wilting. "Don't be stupid. These carnations are really pretty!"
In the middle of their date, which was a rather charming one as the town had gone all out in the damned love holiday festivities, Jack thought of something and turned to Simon. "How did you know about the roses?" he asked.
"You shouldn't talk about a gift idea so much that someone gets tempted to steal it," Simon replied cryptically. Jack stared at him before the answer dropped right into his lap.
"I'm going to kill Roger."
Note: I wouldn't be a very nice person if I let Valentine's Day pass without an obligational fic for my favorite fandom. Though I feel like you all saw this coming. I'm expecting an obligatory Jack/Simon fic on White Day, March 14, from you all, though! But on my other stories, I haven't had much time to write, so they're all on tentative hiatus…I'm such a spotty person. Thanks for reading!