The flyer is luridly pink, the paper somehow managing to look uncouth in Miranda's elegantly-manicured hand. She gives it a brief glance, scowling at the flowery script and the many hearts and ribbons printed around it.
Valentine's Day Celebration, it reads, with a myriad of details about said celebration printed in smaller, less florid type below. Jack muses that the world must really be getting back into shape if people are doing silly things like throwing Valentine's parties.
"What a stupid holiday," Miranda grumbles, tossing the thing in the first recycling bin they pass. "I've always hated the idea that romance must be scheduled on one random day of the human calendar."
Meandering along beside her wife, Jack shrugs outwardly, trying not to let on that the only thought scrolling through her brain at the moment is 'well shit'. She's already put together most of a fancy celebration for their first Valentine's Day as a married couple, complete with presents and dinner at a ridiculously expensive restaurant…although she'll be more than happy to cancel those reservations.
She spends the rest of their lunch break in a fugue, trying to figure out how she's going to give that lovingly-chosen gift to her notoriously prickly companion without inciting her wrath. For her trouble, she incites Miranda's wrath anyway - not paying attention is a capital offense when one is out to lunch with a Lawson woman.
It's not until she's good-naturedly shoving her last couple students out of the classroom that afternoon that the beginnings of an evil plan come into focus, and she grins at the empty classroom for a moment before hustling out the door. She's got some shopping to do before Miranda finishes work.
It takes quite a bit of sneaking around and some effort, but Jack has never been shy about putting in the work to sneak up on her difficult-to-surprise spouse.
It all starts on the first of February, with a little note stuck to the inside of Miranda's briefcase: "You're beautiful." The paper is plain, the font a bold console style that doesn't exactly scream 'Valentine's Day plot'. All is as planned. That's all for the first day; she doesn't want to push her luck. Miranda doesn't say anything, but when Jack peeks into her briefcase that night the note is gone.
The second day is nearly the same, except the note is stuck to the dashboard of their car and it says "I love you."
The third note appears in her gym bag - it's workout day - on lightly patterned blue paper and helpfully informs Miranda that "You make me happy."
The fourth day Jack ups the ante: she dabs a spot of glue onto the note and sticks a foil-wrapped piece of the obscenely expensive chocolates that Miranda loves so dearly - why, Jack can't fathom, since they're not even sweet. The note is short and sweet: "Yours."
The fifth, sixth, and seventh are the same: one chocolate and one heartfelt message of love per day, on paper that gradually grows more heavily patterned, more Valentine's-Day-like. "You're my everything," reads one note, "You light up my life," reads another, although Jack could barely bring herself to put the words into type. "Forever," reads the last, the easiest to write because Jack really does intend on forever.
On the eighth of February Jack takes it another step further, punching a hole in the chocolate-decorated note and tying it to the stem of a delicate, budded white rose before bribing an intern to put it on Miranda's desk at work. "I'm lucky to have you," it says.
Apparently the cheesiness isn't too much for Miranda, because when Jack wakes up on the ninth morning, the tightly-closed white bud rests in a slim vase on their table. She studiously doesn't comment on it, although she has to look at it all through breakfast. That day she duplicates the flower/candy/note setup, hiding it in the garment bag when Miranda mentions needing to bring a spare suit to work for something. Not very creative, but she's running low on hiding spots…and ideas for notes. "Always thinking of you," she prints out on pink, ribbon-patterned paper.
The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth are the same: each morning Jack wakes to find the previous day's rosebud in the vase on the table, each day she pretends not to see it, and each day she struggles to find places to hide flowers and words to express herself. Miranda finds one on her usual machine at the gym: "You're the best thing that ever happened to me." On her seat in the large conference hall she finds another: "You saved my life." The last is nowhere to be found until she arrives at home, where it rests lovely and pale on the porch, waiting for her. "I can't get enough of you."
Each day, Jack behaves as if nothing's going on, as if she's not quietly torturing her wife with the approach of a holiday that she has nothing but disdain for. Miranda, for her part, continues to tuck each subsequent rose into the vase, touching up the water and watching them begin to unfurl their petals, giving no outward sign of her feelings.
On the thirteenth she gets the last rose: fully unfurled, the white outer petals give way to the unexpected sight of a deep red center, blood on snow. It rests atop a slim velvet box which clicks open to reveal yet another note and a diamond bracelet. "For the love of my life," the note proclaims.
Miranda is wearing the bracelet when she comes home, and Jack can barely hold in the gleeful chortle that wants to escape at the strained look on her wife's face. She goes to bed that night and stays up grinning at the ceiling for the better part of an hour, already anticipating Miranda's reaction to her plans for Valentine's Day.
Jack's walking on air most of the day, even stopping to sniff the flowers in the vase on her way out of the house. They don't smell like much of anything, of course, but she isn't doing it for the scent, she's doing it to torment her wife.
Her plan for the day is the most devious one yet, and she can't wait for Miranda to come home so she can carry it out. She buys dinner that night, too anxious to even attempt cooking, and waits impatiently for Miranda to come home, her excitement growing with each minute that the usually unflappable woman is late.
"Good luck avoiding me," Jack chuckles to herself, absently rearranging the roses in the vase. In full bloom, they're now a bit too big for the container.
And then the lock is beeping and the door is sliding open and Jack's final, devious plan begins.
She smiles at Miranda's almost haunted look - she's obviously expecting something big, and Jack's never been one to live up to expectations. Down, maybe, but not up. So her final plan consists of exactly nothing. No note, no candy, no flowers, no jewelry or fancy dinner or anything whatsoever at all. By the end of the meal her cool, controlled wife is practically squirming in her chair, but still Jack says nothing. They clean up after dinner without comment, then settle in for a quiet evening of catching up on work, cuddling, and generally having a nice normal weeknight.
Miranda holds on until they're lying in bed that night. Jack moves in for a cuddle, having grown quite used to sleeping tangled up with the lush body of her love, only to find herself pressed onto her back. Miranda pins her hands down and stares into her eyes, almost interrogating her silently.
"What are you planning?" she asks at last, her voice low and threatening. "Tell me!"
"Nothing," Jack replies honestly, grinning and fully aware that she looks extraordinarily guilty at the moment.
"Jack, I'm not playing with you. Tell me what you're going to do, or so help me…"
"Nothing!" Jack repeats, still grinning, still unrepentant. "Unless you keep me pinned like this for much longer, in which case…" She lifts one of her legs, which Miranda hasn't bothered to pin down, and presses it firmly against the vee of Miranda's thighs. "I think I could be persuaded to do something."
It's been two weeks since their last roll in the hay - ever since Jack's Valentine's Day plans went into motion, Miranda has been attempting to silently punish her. All that's led to is an explosive situation between two very sexual people, and pretty soon both women have forgotten all about Valentine's Day, too busy reveling in each other.
When the finally settle down again, wrapped around each other as is their custom, Jack remembers the final part of her plan.
"Happy Valentine's Day," she whispers hotly in Miranda's ear.
She earns a smack for her trouble, but her grin never falters.
"You ass," Miranda snaps with a scowl, "I can't believe you spent all that time winding me up…by the time today got here I was torn between wanting to yell at you to stop and wondering what you'd give me today."
"Oh yeah, about that…I hope you liked today's present."
Miranda looks bewildered.
"What? I didn't-"
"Don't tell me you forgot already," Jack teases with the straightest face she can manage, "I just finished giving it to you like two minutes ago."
Miranda smacks her again.
"Ass," she repeats, "Sex is not a gift! Or if it is, it's the only one I want for this ridiculous holiday from now on. Understood?"
Jack throws a salute. "Yes, ma'am!"
She earns another smack for her trouble, but at least it's followed with kisses and her own Valentine's Day gift.