Wrote some candy scenes for girlfriends vday present. Fun fact: I am posting this from stopped traffic just outside of Cincy.
He had wanted to just drop it off at the front counter and run away, but he knew the instant he walked through the door, Jan wouldn’t let him. Her eyes flicked from his face, to the roses and chocolates in one hand and the small, flat package in the other. He sighed and stepped up to the counter, ready for the onslaught.
He juggled the roses and the chocolates to the counter, obviously unwilling to put the brown paper parcel down. Jan raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Zig thrust the chocolate at her, knowing that when he spoke it would be too high, too fast.
“These are for you- I know you did a lot to help get Jules and I this far, and I know you don’t bring one lady stuff and leave the other one hanging – not that I think Alex will leave you hanging or anything, I just thought – well, it might be nice? I thought-” Somehow he managed to gesture wildly with his hands, even while still holding the package, which he knocked into the yellow and orange roses. He dove for them with a strangled sound before the could spill over proper and pushed them towards Jan as well. “These too. These are yours- just take them and give this to Jules?”
Jan almost couldn’t contain her laughter at the pure desperation on his face. No, Jules needed to see this. It was too cute. She fluffed the roses and smiled at him, shaking her head.
“You also don’t bring better presents for the friend than you do your lady.” She pulled out a single stem and held it out to him. “Give her this, with your package.” She did indulge in a slow, lingering look, mostly because his reactions were just so much fun. Then she dropped the lecher look and went back to matter of fact advice. “If she coos over the flower, then these are for her-” She held a finger up as he opened his mouth to protest. “I don’t think you’re wrong, she never seemed the type, but we girl types are weird, you never know.” When Zig closed his gaping fish mouth and nodded, she continued. “If she likes it, let her have them. It was very sweet of you to think of me, but you’re right – Alex won’t leave me hanging.” Her smiled turned dark at the thought, but she tucked it away for later. Little lost puppy Zig needed her right now, and she wouldn’t fail her vows to love and libdio.
“If the flower gets forgotten in whatever else it is you’ve got there,” and she gave the parcel another meaningful glance, “then she’ll think it’s sweet you brought me flowers and you still win- ok?” Zig nodded again, though it was clear he was on overload. Jan pushed the roses closer to the door to the back and reached for her chocolates.
“Besides, I’m not being completely selfless here – notice I never once offered to give up these…”
Zig laughed, and Jan let out an inner sigh of relief. Terrified zombie-robot lover would have probably thrown everything at Jules, screamed “I love you!” and ran away. Goofy and vaguely off balance but making the best of it Zig would have a much better go of it.
“Of course not,” he said with a crooked grin. “I wouldn’t want to spoil her appetite for dinner later.”
Jan devolved into a fit of giggles and waved him on to the back.
Yes, it’s candy, but one assumes Jules is doing something, even if I don’t know what it is. Washing a dog or something, I dunno. Counter candy if you ever care to, but for now, sit back and enjoy your present. 🙂
Zig twirled the rose idly in his hand as he followed the sound of Jules’ music to the back. Suddenly, the thought better of taking his present back to the wet rooms and pulled a quick reserve back to the front. Poking his head out of the door earned him a curse from Jan, who was lost in contemplation of her chocolates.
“Sorry, sorry!” he said hastily. “It’s just – can you like call Jules into her office or something? I don’t want to risk ruining this in the back rooms….”
Jan’s face softened and she nodded. “Go on back and get your surprise set up, I’ll send her to you.”
Zig’s goofy grin reminded her for all the world of a certain Great Dane they both knew. God, Jules really did have a way with dogs.
And then one assumes Jules will hear Jan or something and head for her office.
He propped the package up on her desk, then laid the rose in front of it, then picked the rose back up, laid the package down, put the rose on top of it, then looked at his from this angle and that, threw his hands in the air and went to unwrap the thing. It wasn’t a present, exactly, it didn’t need to stay wrapped up – he’d only done that to protect the canvas on the walk over. Oh god, the walk! How was his hair? Was there a mirror in here? He couldn’t remember, but he let it go. Jules had seen him worse and what he really cared about was the painting.
He peeled the paper back carefully- the painting was long dried, but still, he couldn’t help but be ginger with it. It was fine, of course, and he breathed a small sigh of relief. He picked up the rose again from where he’d just pushed it to the side and wondered what to do with everything.
But of course, Jules will walk in and see Zig standing there, staring at the painting sitting in its little nest of brown paper while he stares at her like a moron with a two-tone rose in his hand.
He stared at her for a solid minute before she broke the silence and kicked his brain back into gear. He stepped back to let her get a closer look at the painting, a quick acrylic of two hands holding anatomical hearts, wrapped in thorns. Abstract roses made up the background, with a big golden gate tucked into the flowers. Scrollwork on the gates read “Garden of Love”. A scrap of paper was tucked in with it, and Zig quickly snatched it up and thrust it at Jules as he began to explain.
“It’s dumb, but it made me think of you….”
The paper was a quick handwritten copy of William Blake’s Garden of Love. As Jules read, Zig heard the words of the piece in his mind, and realized just how silly it was to give her something like that on Valentine’s day. It wasn’t a love poem, but he’d always liked it, and the idea of being bound by briars like Nature herself declared you united or something – but that wasn’t the imagery of the poem. His mind always ran away with the words and pictured something else, but as he watched her read he began to panic, knowing the words he’d given her did not match his feelings.
“I know it’s not really happy poem, but I always liked the idea of the Garden before it was ruined, and the thorns growing together around two people growing together – even though like thorns would be prickly or whatever, but the lines always kinda stuck with me, and it’s beautiful in my head- and it’s just a quick painting, I didn’t put a whole lot into it so it’s kinda rough – but I’ll cook later, this isn’t your present or anything – not that we had to get each other anything or anything, I just- I thought of you and -”
He stopped, gulping in a big breath of air and held the flower out to her, arm stiff and trembling. “I like you. Have a flower.”
How he’d wound up in the card aisle, he’d never know. At this point, he didn’t even really remember why he’d gone to the store in the first place. All he knew was that he had to get this card for Lena.
It was a simple square, with a kitten asleep on it back, happy as could be. The blue flowers of the blanket it was sleeping on reminded Jon of forget me nots- they were the right shade, even though the were tulips. But what really sealed it was when he opened the card. It played “Walkin’ on Sunshine”
Jon laughed, closed the card, went to put it back and then opened it again. He grinned even broader and turned the card over to look at the kitten on the front again. The inside was blank, the outside was just the kitten, but “Walkin’ on Sunshine” would be stuck in his head the rest of the day, and he knew she would love it.
It wasn’t until he had bought it and was sitting at the bar, trying to think of what to write inside that he started to question it. Aside from what to say, what did he do with the damned thing? Valentine’s was Friday, the earliest he was likely to see Lena was three days from now, would it mean anything then? Did it mean anything now? It wasn’t like they were even a thing, but she clearly meant something to him, even though it didn’t know what to call it. And the way she looked at him, the way she said his name when he was buried in her –
Not the thoughts to go with this card.
Before he could go further down the rabbit hole of doubt and distraction, he drew a big heart in the middle and signed his name underneath. That summed things up better than any words ever could, and he quickly sealed the card in it’s envelope before he could change his mind.
Rook was even crazier than anyone would ever know.
That was the only reason he would have sent Jon away on double hitter night like Valentine’s on a Friday. Still, Jon didn’t argue too much when his boss had demanded he go down to the Asylum and deliver his card to Lena in person.
Now that he was here, it was a different story.
It was still early in the night- the club was open but no acts were on yet. But still, they were open, Lena was working – now was not the time to be bothering her with silly cards. He stood stupidly off to the side, letting the crowd move around him, nursing his own insecurities.
Dex’s bar tender senses were tingling when he was Jon pause in the doorway. He’d been in the biz long enough to recognize a man with love troubles, so when he had an excuse to head to that end of the bar, he gave a quick whistle to get Jon’s attention.
Grateful for some sense of direction, Jon moved to the bar and leaned on the corner of it.
“Hey there Jonny boy, what’s eatin’ ya?” Dex poured him a shot of whiskey, partially as a sign to the other customers and partly because Jon looked like he needed it.
He downed it in a quick go and let his eyes slide out of focus to the bar behind Dexter. “Not a whole lot, though I appreciate this,” Jon said with a tip of his glass. “I just came to deliver something, but if I were smarter, I would have waited til after we were both closed.”
Dex raised an eyebrow at him, but said nothing. It was clear from Jon’s expression he was anywhere but here, so Dexter let him talk to get his head together.
Jon’s gaze fell to the tip jars, decorated up like the Valentine boxes kids used at school. Cute. Lena’s was obvious, hot pink box covered in neon heart shaped stickers. Maybe he could just drop it in there? Oh, but he wouldn’t want to start something obnoxious if the other patrons saw. Maybe leave it with Dexter?
A little hand on his ass pulled Jon rather abruptly out of his thoughts.
“Mmmmm, I can see why our favorite kitten has been spending so many nights at your place, with an ass like that waiting for her.” Chris tucked himself up against Jon’s side, smiling up at him. “Hi.”
Jon raised an eyebrow at him, but gave the jackal a smile. “Hello yourself. What are you doing out here?”
“I’m working,” Chris said with mock airs. “I need a special for two, Dex.” Work “done”, he turned back to Jon. “What are you doing here, pre-gaming?”
Jon rolled his eyes at the little man- it was clear why he and Rook got along so well. He opened his mouth to tell Chris exactly what he was doing here, then stopped. He hadn’t even thought of how Chris might feel about him bringing a Valentine for Lena. It wasn’t like the two of them were hiding from Chris, but it just didn’t seem right to rub it in his face- but then again, Chris had no problems walking up to Jon and helping himself to a handful of ass, and Jon didn’t really mind- but what did that mean about how Chris felt? Should Jon have gotten him something too? This whole thing was seeming like a stupider and stupider idea every second.
When Jon offered up no explanation, Chris took pity on him. He’d noticed the little white envelope in Jon’s had when he’d walked up, and it was easy to guess what it was and why he was here. He disengaged his cuddle hold and stepped back to give Jon some space.
“What me to get Lena for you?”
He kept his tone and expression friendly and light, seeing clearly how uncomfortable Jon was. He’d never been able to explain to the man how happy he was to see Lena so happy, and how much it meant to him to know that when she was Jon, Lena was safe, and happy. Since she’d started seeing him regularly, Lena had been calmer, and more adventurous in the bedroom, though it was such a small change no one but Chris ever would have noticed. But he had noticed, and he was so happy for her and for Jon and for everyone really – this was a good thing, and it completely had his blessing.
But so far every time he had tried to talk to Jon about it, Chris had been shitfaced drunk, and it was clear the bar tender wasn’t taking him seriously. Maybe he should try talking to him sober. It was just a damned hard trick to pull off in a bar, especially with Rook around. But now wasn’t the time. They had a show to do and people were waiting on their drinks, but he could give Jon this little show of goodwill. They would talk later, but for now Chris was willing to let it go.
Jon blinked at Chris’s sudden declaration, and as silly as it was, he tucked the envelope behind his back instinctively. Chris laughed and patted him on the arm, nodding to Dex as he brought the tray of drinks for Chris. “It’s ok, Jon. You know I’m happy about all this. Let me go get her for you. Dexter, guard him for me? He looks ready to bolt.” With a wink and a laugh Chris was gone, and Dex was pouring Jon another shot.
“Sit,” he said as he slid the glass to him. “You’re not escaping on my watch.”
Jon did as he was told and sat down. He laid the envelope on the bar so as to keep from wrinkling it in his nervous, sweaty hands.
And then it’s Lena’s turn to give us some candy, and maybe some Chris thoughts, if you have any.
When Onyx had shown him how to fold papers in half to make hearts, he knew he had to make Valentine’s for everyone in the nest. They spent the day squirreled away in her room, happy cutting and coloring and pasting and glittering in clandestine joy. He’d finished the cards for all the dancers, and was now sitting and staring at three big red hearts, completely blank but for the fold in the middle.
“Ooooh, those ones are for someone special, I can tell.”
Onyx peered over his shoulder, and Naj smiled up at her a nodded. “Mhmm. This one is for Seth,” he said, picking up a deep red heart that nearly matched his eyes. She’d been rather pleased with herself when she’d handed him that colored paper, knowing he would make excellent use of it. A card for his soul-brother was perfect.
He picked a rusty red one next, and Onyx knew without him saying so that that one was for his lover. The third one was the only mystery. “And this one for for Nica, and this one for Kain.”
Onyx thought about teasing Naj for that last one, but let it go. It was clear for anyone in the nest to smell that something more than friendship and sex was passing between them, and that it was tenuous and still developing. It wasn’t too rare for her partner in crime to go all thoughtful on her, but it was obvious that this was very important to him, so she sat back down next to him and did her best to put on her serious face and offer him her advice.
“You should use some of the sequins for Seth’s, so that they’re like scales.” His eyes lit up and Onyx smiled smugly at her own cleverness. She was quite pleased to have made her friend so happy. The next one was also easy, but she knew he’d like her idea just as much. “Use some of the ivory lace for Nica’s- you can trim it up like the classic old valentine’s I first showed you when we started the project.”
“Yes! That’s perfect!” he said, clapping his hands. But Onyx was already eye the last one, the color of good ripe raspberries. Naj followed her gaze and frowned, brow furrowing.
“I have no idea what to do with this,” she said.
“Me either,” he admitted.
Well, perfect. It made sense that if he didn’t know exactly how he felt about Kain, he wouldn’t be able to put into card form, but that didn’t leave her with anything helpful to tell him. The best she could do was help him sort it out.
“Why this color?” she asked, figuring it was as good a place to start as any.
Naj’s smile returned, softer and more wistful than before. “Raspberries are my favorite – they’re sweet, but contrary.” He gave Onyx a knowing look, and she nodded enthusiastically. “Yup, that’s our Kain. Good pick.”
Naj picked up the heart and stared at it, willing an idea to form. He understood that Onyx was trying to help him sort out his thoughts, so he spoke as he stared.
“Kain makes me feel safe, warm when he holds me. Little, like the whole world is a million miles away. In the dark, in his arms, I feel like this must have been how the world was, before the People and the Daeos brought shape to things. Just the ARE, warm and dark and at peace.”
“How very Zen,” Onyx said glibly. She wanted to support and encourage Naj, but she didn’t really know what he was talking about. She got the feeling, but the serpent mythology went a bit over her head. But safe she got, warm she got, and honestly, it sounded like he was just describing the best hug in the world.
“Aha!” she declared, leaping up. “I’ve got it!”
She ran back over to the box of scraps she’d just cleaned up, leafing through for the left-overs from Seth’s valentine. Perfect! It was all still in one piece, excellent! She brought it back over to Naj, who had been watching her in patient confusion. She laid the scrap over the heart Naj was still holding, the raspberry showing through the window left in darker red. Naj looked up at her, waiting for it to make sense.
She sat back down, holding her hand out for the heart which Naj turned over without hesitation. She folded the two pieces together, so that Naj’s red was inside Kain’s heart. “We can paste these together and trim everything up a little bit, so that it’s more like a card than a heart, then-”
Naj cut her off, clearly seeing where she was going. “It’s like the Kain heart is hugging the card, and there’s a littler heart left inside that’s me!”
“Exactly! You got it!”
“I love it! He’ll love it!”
They chatted excitedly as they finished up the last of the valentines, gluing on sequin scales and lace and trimming everything up and making everything perfect.
If anyone is interested in showing me how their valentine’s receiving goes, I’d love to write it with you. 🙂
He stared at the little glass bead in his hand, feeling stupid. It had seemed like a such a brilliant idea at the time, but now that he had all the materials together and had made the first bead, he felt ridiculous. He doubted this was a tradition that had stood the test of time, even in legend. It certainly wouldn’t be common practice, with serpent-kin being all but bereft of their original magic. But he knew his lover was a student of lore, and the way she danced all the ancient steps – if anyone in this modern era deserved an charin, it was Nica.
He called out mentally to Nica to join him on the roof before he lost his nerve.
The charin belt was simple enough to make, just a large glass bead and a length of material to tie around the waist. The tricky part was how you got the bead. It was serpent tradition that when a child was master enough of their own magic to melt sand into glass, they were considered an adult. The bead made to present to the elders for consideration became the first bead of the charin belt, and further beads and bangles were added for various accomplishments and milestones in life.
Such as declaring a mate.
Seth turned his bead over and over, examining the way the light caught in the swirling vortex within. Seth’s bead had always been milky, a sign of the viper magic within him – though they wouldn’t wink in the sun with the same dazzling display of a clearer bed, when they caught the softer light of the moon, they appeared to glow from within with a rainbow sheen like an opal. He’d given his first bed to his mother, a nod to all she had taught him. He would never be allowed to be a dancer, not with the crown awaiting him, and really, after the first few summers no one wore their charin except as dancers or at formal occasions. He wondered for a moment what had become of the first stone – it wouldn’t have been consumed in the fires, serpent magic was too potent for that. He imagined a field of serpent stones laying lost and forgotten in the grass, glinting here and there when the light caught them right. He blew out a heavy breath and pushed the thought away, hearing Nica’s approach.
A smile filled his face when he saw her – every time, it was like watching the sun come out from the clouds. These many months, he still treasured her just as much as the first day he held her. He rose to his feet and took her hands in his, unable to keep from going to her.
Nica will undoubtedly ask why he called her here, to which he will answer…
“Come with me, an’cre, I have something to show you,”
He turned and led her by the hand to the rock he’d been using as a work desk- Naj’s favorite sunning spot, actually. He chuckled softly when he’d realized it. But he was quickly called back to task as Nica’s amusement colored with more puzzlement than before. She’d taken in the leather cords and the bowl of sand but had no idea what to make of it.
“I want to give you something- or rather, want to help you give something to yourself.” He shook his head, knowing he was confusing both his lover and the issue.
“I take it from your confusion that the tradition of charin belts didn’t last?”
It’s possible she knows of them from reading, and possibly even Ariella wears one, if she’s old enough had bothered to learn fire. I think proper, real burning fire isn’t a bird gift, but can be learned if someone native to fire teaches it to you. But odds are if she knows anything of them it’s in passing. I doubt something so common knowledge would have really been recorded. At best maybe old legends mention someone giving soemone else their charin stone, but that’s probably about it. From what I can read of Ariella’s character, she wouldn’t have explained the belt to anyone who didn’t know what they are. They’re very pretty though. There are traditional way of stringing beads and wearing clasps and adding strings that make them all very customizable and show off your skills like a tartan shows off your clan – if Ariella had one, it would likely be highly decorated, and probably not worn day to day, since it tends to be easily tangled or caught on things. But they look really pretty when you dance in them, different strands going this way or that, beads being fed power to make them flame or glow – very cool.