Disclaimer: Some of the characters in this story are mine. The rest belong to themselves. What can I tell you... the Greek gods and goddesses have been around for centuries and I'm fairly certain no one can technically claim ownership of them. Besides, have you ever tried to tell Aphrodite what to do??
Thanks: To Phil for sticking around to beta read for me. She's picked up all kinds of dropped letters because Pink and Fluffy tend to leave a trail of them. All errors belong strictly to me.
Author's Notes: Despite the fact that Aphrodite started out with her knickers in a twist, the Storyteller's Cardinal Rule is in effect. Otherwise, this is just a bit of fluffy mush. Oh, and Phil asked for the ending ya'll got.
"I don't think so."
Fuchsia clad arms were thrown from her body in complete disgust before Aphrodite resumed her rapid pace. "Oh for the love of... well, ME!! This is just totally bogus." She strode on through the city streets, muttering to herself until she got onto the elevator that took her up to the penthouse. The doors parted to reveal a fluffy, pink boudoir and she stepped into it, kicking off the strappy, high-heeled shoes she had on and crossing to the bar to pour herself a drink. "Well, *that* just sucked. Whatever happened to the love?? CUPIE!!"
"Yo, mom! Whaddup?"
Dite swallowed her drink and watched her son walk in from his bedroom, looking especially handsome in his black monochrome suit. She'd never pictured him in black before they had left Olympus to investigate what the modern world had become in their long absence. But she decided he looked well enough in it, and it did manage to hide his wings with only a little difficulty. He crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow at her, hoping to encourage her to give him some idea why she had bellowed at him. Instead, she poured herself another drink and offered him one -- which he waved away.
She shrugged and lifted the glass to her lips. Cupid sighed and took a seat -- obviously this was going to take a little while.
"Do you know what I saw out there, Cue?" Dite finally asked him in a huff. "Do you have any idea how totally screwed this world is?"
"Mom, we've only been here, like... not even a whole day! How radical could it be? And why didn't you wait for me to, you know... go with you?"
"Cupie, I love ya, dude, but you are way worse than a chick when it comes to looking good. I had some research to do and was totally ready to go -- so I did."
"And it was bad?"
She snapped her fingers, changing the fuchsia business-cut suit into, of all things, baby pink sweats. Comfortable, she flopped onto the couch beside him and tucked her legs up under her, setting the remainder of her drink down and clasping her hand together.
"You know from what the totally gnarly little man at the front desk told us, this is supposed to be the season of love here. That's what I was so psyched about checking out, but oh my gods...." She shuddered. "I was looking for a fab orgy like Dionysius used to throw or maybe one of those rockin' parties the Amazons babes were known for... especially the ones that celebrated fertility, ya know?"
"No wild orgies, huh?"
"Oh, it's WAY worse than that. Not only do they not commemorate love like they should, it seems as though there are mandates they have to follow in this society. And you wanna talk about tacky...."
Cupid looked around the room that was completely pink and rolled his eyes. Dite caught him at it and huffed, then snapped her fingers and restored the penthouse to its previous drab existence. "Better?" glaring at him.
"Whatever, mom. Not like I have to stay in this part of the suite. Hey, are we gonna be at this a while? This suit is totally cramping my style."
"Make yourself comfortable, Cue."
He sighed, knowing exactly what that meant, then held his hand out. A hanger appeared in it and with a wave of his hand, the entire top portion of his suit hung neatly from it. Cupid flexed his wings and groaned in relief. Keeping them hidden made them cramped; he was going to have to figure out a way around that for the duration of their stay here if he didn't want to end up with seizures and intense pain. First, though... he needed to get his mother through this crisis of faith she seemed to be having.
"Better," he said, resuming his seat and letting his wings drape over the couch back. "Now what is your issue, really?"
"Everything... nothing -- I totally don't know anymore."
Cupid scrubbed his hands with his face. They were definitely going to be here a while. "All right, so tell me what you saw on your walk that made you flip out."
"Oh, it was horrid. Cheap chocolate in heart-shaped boxes with ugly plastic flowers; radically ugly stuffed animals with stupid messages sewn into them; sappy cards with inane platitudes; hideous lingerie I wouldn't use as a hand towel, mush less be seen in." She paused and took a deep breath, trying to get her scattered thoughts under control.
"Is that all?" Cupid asked after a moment's silence.
"NO! No, that is not all!" She huffed again and then sort of collapsed, deflated. Dite picked up her drink and sipped it, then looked down into the brown liquid as if it held the answers to the mysteries of life. "Everything is about paying some sort of bogus lip service... and not the radical kind either."
"I'm not sure I'm digging what you're at, mom."
"Cue... where has the love gone? The spontaneity? The passion? The desire? A man gives his wife jewelry, a woman brings her girlfriend chocolate and flowers, a man takes his boyfriend out to dinner or a woman buys lingerie for her man one day a year ‘cause some radical freak decided to make money from *our* holiday. They're not celebrating love -- they're mocking it. You've become baby Bliss all over again, and I don't even exist. It's completely bogus."
She stood up and began pacing across back and forth. "No wonder the world is so screwy now."
"Mom, the world wasn't all that gnarly back in the day."
"Maybe, Cue... but at least the love then was totally real, remember? Gods were jealous of the groovy love vibes and fab joy we felt from people. Now it's like.... pretend, ya know?"
"Maybe you were looking in all the wrong places." He waved his hand and the window became a scrying pool and Aphrodite sat down and wrapped her arms around her legs, waiting... hoping... to be convinced. "If it's about the love, mom, it's totally gotta be about *all* the love."
The first picture showed a crying baby, then the mother stepped into view and lifted the child to her chest, cooing at him as she readied them both to nurse. She sat in a nearby rocker, singing and rubbing the baby's back while slowly rocking them back and forth together. When the infant finished, he looked at her with happy, sleepy eyes and smiled. The mother's eyes reflected love and joy and she kissed her son's head before standing and crossing the room out of sight.
Aphrodite didn't speak, and neither did Cupid, wanting his mother to see every form of love he could show her.
The picture shimmered and the next image was of a little girl with a kitten. She lifted the animal to her face, rubbing against the soft fur and giggling in delight. Carefully, she wrapped the kitten in a blanket and cuddled him against her chest. Then she released him and laughed as he scampered away, giving chase and plopping down next to him when he found a warm spot in the sun to stretch out in. She laid her head down beside his and slowly stroked the fur on his back as they both fell into a peaceful sleep.
Cupid signaled once more and again the picture shifted. This time the view was of an elementary classroom, children excited as they ate frosted, heart-shaped cookies and opened decorated boxes to examine the piles of paper valentines inside. Every now and then, one or another of the children would slip a small gift onto the teacher's desk with a shy smile before scampering back to the party. She cared for her students and they loved her in return.
They watched a moment or two longer before Cupid changed the vision yet again. This was of two young kids, teenagers -- awkward and shy as they felt their way through acknowledging the new attraction between them. The boy stuttered and stammered and the girl blushed shyly, both glad they were alone. Cupid and Aphrodite couldn't hear his words to the girl, but the intent was clear, and the girl accepted his hand as they slowly made their way down the sidewalk. Their smiles were timid and bashful, but full of happiness and promise.
This scene faded to show a family caring for their neighbors after a death in the family, then it resolved into a firefighter rescuing a stranger from a burning building. There was a couple ministering to the homeless and a woman kissing her wife goodbye before leaving for work; an adult child sharing a meal with an elderly parent and a couple of old men holding hands watching the sunset together.
"It's all love, mom, and it's all around you... all the time. It's the basis of everything else. Being able to love parents and children and friends and strangers and even animals makes it easier to love someone with your whole heart because the heart is open to loving and being loved in return."
"So why do they make a total mockery of it??" stamping her foot in frustration. "I know all these rockin' forms of love are important, Cue -- they are a major part of the reason the world hasn't *completely* destroyed itself yet. But that is not where my real issue lies, and you so know it."
"I know, mom. I just don't want you to discount love in any of its forms."
"Fine, I won't discount it, but where is the excitement... the burning lust... the sex?!? Where is that radical spontaneity that says to make wild, passionate love to your partner just because you love them?? Or bring flowers because they're totally gnarly or dance together in the moonlight just because?? What happened to romance? When did love become drudgery and permission and a set of ideals that need to be met on a certain day once a year to really show what you feel??"
"This is really bothering you, isn't it?"
"Ya think?" she sneered. "Yeah, Cue... it is," her voice more subdued and somewhat sad. "I guess I'm missing the old days, Cupie. I miss what love used to be."
Cupid bit his lip. He would be taking a real risk, but he had never seen his mother so despondent about love before; this required serious and careful handling. Decision made, he nodded to himself and sighed. "What if I told you it still was what it used to be? What if I could show you a couple with the kind of love you're looking for, mom? The love of soulmates -- would that be enough to convince you?"
Dite gazed at her son thoughtfully. She was convinced of his sincerity; he believed what he was saying. And it couldn't hurt to watch -- at least her fury would have a chance to cool. Finally, she nodded. "Two conditions," waiting for him to agree. "We get lots of ice cream from room service, and this time we get some rockin' sound to go with those fab visuals."
"Deal," he agreed, "but I'm gonna change these threads if we're hangin' here for a while."
"Cool... I'll call for ice cream."
"Whipped cream and sprinkles," Cupid called out. Aphrodite giggled, then placed her order. When Cupid came back out, he was dressed down in a pair of black sweat pants and an overly large jersey. Dite answered the knock on the door and signed for the ice cream, then she wheeled the cart into the main room and the two of them proceeded to fix nice big sundaes before resuming their seats on the couch. Aphrodite curled up in one corner and Cupid stretched out in the other.
"Now," he said after sucking down a mouthful of ice cream, "you have to be like, patient, ‘kay? I'm gonna to show you a year in the life of these two babes, starting with the week after this whole Valentine's gig and ending the following year on Valentine's Day."
"Do it," Dite commanded softly.
"All right, but no interrupting the flow." He waved his spoon and the picture flickered into focus. Then they both settled back to watch.
She heard the knock just before the door opened and a blonde head peeked in. "Hey, Detective - what are you doing in my ER?" Brown eyes twinkled out from beneath messy auburn hair. Dr. Aislinn Tierney smiled beguilingly at her friend of almost twenty years. "You're not supposed to be off yet." Her smile shifted to a look if intense concern. "Are you all right? Did something happen?"
Detective Sloane Bryant held up her hands in a gesture of surrender and shook her head, stepping into the privacy of the Chief's office and closing the door behind her. "I'm fine, sweetheart. I actually came to take my best girl home." She glanced in the direction of the clock. "It's later than you thought, Linn. Your shift was over thirty minutes ago."
Aislinn raked graceful fingers through her hair, giving it an even wilder appearance. Sloane smiled and ran her own hand through it, letting her hand casually rest at the base of Linn's neck, kneading away the tension an unexpected double shift had put there. Aislinn groaned in relief.
"Tell me again why you didn't become a doctor with those hands?"
"I hated medicine?" brushing a kiss over the dark head.
"And I refused to share those magic hands... even before I knew *all* the magic they could do," Linn finished with a grin, turning in Sloane's arms and wrapping her arms around the blonde's neck. "I'm so glad you're here," she murmured. "I missed you."
"I missed you too, babe," lifting Aislinn up and feeling her spine realign itself before Aislinn relaxed and moaned in relief. "Better?"
"I'd marry you again if I could."
"That good, huh?" Sloane asked with a smile. "I'd say yes, you know."
"Would you?" tilting her head. "Despite everything?"
"Despite everything? Sweetheart, I'd marry you because of everything. You're worth it."
"I love you, you know... so much."
"Backatcha, baby. Now let me take you home and show you how much."
"C'mon, Blue Eyes... I hear a bath calling our names. You wanna pick something up on our way home?"
"I already called it in, love. I knew after the days we had, neither of us was gonna feel like cooking or cleaning up." Sloane held Aislinn's coat and grabbed her purse from the drawer. "I was thinking dinner, a hot bath, maybe a little aroma therapy during your massage...."
"You spoil me."
"Yes. It is my right and my privilege. Now tell me about your day... and how you ended up pulling another double." Sloane held the door and Aislinn walked out first, then turned to lock the door before taking Sloane's arm as they left the hospital and headed for home.
"Wait," Aphrodite exclaimed, ignoring Cupid's pointed glare when he paused the picture. "I know I said I'd be patient and all, but I am way in need of some serious info. It would totally help for me to know what is, ya know... like going on -- where these two are in their relationship and how they got there. Then at least I've got a clue about what in Hades is happening."
Cupid nodded. "Fair enough. I'll give ya the Cliff's notes version of their lives so far, then you have to watch the rest without interrupting again. Deal?"
"All right. Nineteen years ago, Aislinn Tierney and Sloane Bryant met as college freshmen roommates. At first, they didn't seem to have a lot in common aside from being freshmen, but they gradually became friends and by their senior year they were best friends."
"No, mom... just friends. They were both still exploring their sexuality and neither of them was willing to risk their friendship on the possibility of a failed love affair. Besides, they were best friends. They expected to be a part of one another's lives forever."
"So what happened?"
"Aislinn went on to medical school; Sloane joined the Army and went to war. She was gone for six years and over the course of time, she and Aislinn lost track of one another. It wasn't intentional -- Sloane was moving around so much her mail couldn't keep up, then Aislinn got an internship at the leading trauma hospital in the country."
"Sloane made it through six years of warfare unscathed -- physically anyway - and she came home determined to find out what had happened to her best friend. Her mail had slowly been catching up to her and she knew where she had to start looking."
"When Sloane and Aislinn met again, they welcomed each another as the best friends they still were, glad time and distance had not changed the core people they had known. They spent a few days reacquainting themselves with one another, talking about their lives and experiences, their failed love affairs and the friends they had made. Before they were finished, both made the decision not to lose the other again. Sloane applied to the local police force while Aislinn prepared her small house for double occupancy."
"It was a little awkward at first -- neither of them had lived with a roommate since college, but they quickly fell into a comfortable routine. Most of their time and energy was focused on their respective careers, and they spent whatever spare time they had together. Neither of them dated, but they were unwilling to look too deeply at the reason behind their reluctance to do so. Instead, they cherished the renewed closeness they shared. And over the course of a couple years, their friendship deepened immeasurably."
"By this time, Aislinn was the Chief Fellow in the trauma unit and Sloane had made detective. Then the unthinkable happened."
Cupid paused and it took all of Aphrodite's self control not to reach over and pummel him for stopping there. He got up from his spot on the couch and she glared at him, then she caught a good look at the expression on his face.
"Cue? Ya can't just leave me hangin' here, babe."
He sighed. "I know, mom, but the next part is bad."
"Well, c'mon and tell me. Then we can get back to the good stuff," motioning to the window where the images of Sloane and Aislinn arm in arm were still frozen in time. Cupid nodded; it was true and the sooner they got past this the better for his peace of mind as well.
"One night while Aislinn was working trauma in the ER, a police officer was rushed in with a potentially fatal gunshot wound. It was Sloane... and it took all Aislinn could do to keep her composure even while she fought to save Sloane's life. But in doing so, the truth of their hearts was revealed to those closest to them, and though it was still unacknowledged between them, there were a few who took exception to it."
"Waitaminute... someone took exception to love?? How totally bogus!!"
"Yeah, I know, mom."
"I'm so not feeling the love, Cupid!! Where's the love, dude?"
"It's coming, Mom... I swear. Just a little bit longer. Here," handing her another bowl of ice cream. "I'm not saying it'll help, but it can't hurt." She glared at him, then took it, sticking the spoon in with some force. Then he sat down again and resumed the telling of his tale.
"It was going to take Sloane a few months to recover from her injury, but before Aislinn could even get her home from the hospital, someone tried to beat the crap out of them for a relationship they didn't even have yet." He smiled. "But boy, did their friends come through for them... both the people at the hospital and at the police station. And it forced the two of them to sit down and talk -- and finally confess that there was more between them than simple friendship."
"That was eight years ago. They dated for another year and then had a commitment ceremony the following summer."
"So where are we now... as far as watching them goes?"
"Sometime between their joining and now. It doesn't really matter, mom. All you need to know is that they are a committed couple and they've been together for a while, ‘kay?"
Aphrodite huffed. She was more than a little intrigued now with her limited knowledge about Sloane and Aislinn and decided she would find out all she could about them when Cupid was done showing her the rest. Suddenly, she realized she was pulling for him -- she wanted him to be right about these two. Just from what little he had told her, they deserved to find happiness, even if they did subscribe to the ridiculous holiday known to the world as Valentine's Day.
"All right," waving her hands towards the screen. "Let's go... I'm still waiting for the love, remember?"
Cupid chuckled. "I know, mom. It'll happen -- in every possible form."
"Put up or shut up, Cue."
He laughed again, then signaled the screen into motion.
The noise in the room was deafening and Sloane flinched and closed her eyes before a hand on her back calmed her nerves better than any tonic. She took a deep breath and opened her eyes, blue eyes smiling in gratitude into brown. Thank you, she mouthed to Aislinn. Aislinn winked at her, then moved further into the melee.
When they found out that they were unable to have children, Aislinn had been devastated. Sloane had been heartbroken for her partner, though her disappointment had been strictly for Aislinn and not herself. She had always been somewhat ambivalent about children, especially considering what she saw in her line of work. But Sloane loved Aislinn enough to put her desire for a child first and began to looking into all the possibilities.
Aislinn understood what her lover was doing and why and they had talked long into the night, deciding to find a way to share their love and time with as many children as they could. So they, along with a growing coalition of people from both the hospital and Sloane's precinct, adopted several children's homes in the area. Every weekend, different officers and medical personnel got together at the different homes and provided love and care and other physical essentials the children living there would otherwise have done with out. It further cemented relations between the hospital staff and police force, and it gave a lot of kids loving guidance and support.
Sloane and Aislinn were favorites and they tried to go at least every other Saturday when their schedules allowed it. Truth be told, they enjoyed it as much as the kids, though Sloane always needed a moment to adjust to the sheer volume of noise that many children were capable of producing. But before long, she was surrounded by a group of children anxious to act out a rather unorthodox version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".
They left, as always, to a round of hugging and a chorus of goodbyes. Sloane caught Aislinn's hand in her own as they walked together back to their SUV. "My God, but I'm beat." Linn chuckled.
"I'll bet. How did you end up on the bottom of that dog pile anyway?"
"Don't ask," Sloane growled. "I think they were cheating."
"Well, thank you for being such a good sport. I know you only do this for me, and I love you for it."
"I did start out doing it just for you, you're right. But now I do it as much for those kids in there and myself as I do it for you. It's nice to see some of the positives instead of the negatives all the time. Thank you for making be less selfish." Despite her desire to kiss her partner at that moment, Sloane simply opened the door for Aislinn and seated her before walking around and climbing in the other side. One near-death beating had been enough to make them both leery of public displays of affection. But their eyes promised more once they were safely home.
"I want to count my blessings," Sloane said as she led Aislinn into their bedroom. "Each and every one of them," she added as she pulled the T-shirt Aislinn wore over her head. "One. At. A. Time." Sloane finished undressing Aislinn before claiming her lips and kissing her senseless while lowering them to the bed... only to be stopped when Aislinn pushed Sloane away from her. Sloane looked at Linn in confusion and the brunette shook her head.
"No, love... I want to count my blessings as well... and you're way overdressed."
Sloane gave Aislinn a sexy grin, then proceeded to do a striptease that would have rivaled an exotic dancer's best performance before dropping onto the bed on all fours and stalking her way slowly up Aislinn's body towards her lips. Only -- Aislinn couldn't stand the teasing any longer and flipped them, putting Sloane beneath her and allowing her to tracing the sleek, muscular body with teasing abandon.
"HEY!!! I was watching that, ya know!" Dite bellowed when Cupid switched the visual to something a little tamer -- Sloane and Aislinn curled up together looking well-loved after what had obviously been a night of wild, passionate lovemaking.
"C'mon, mom... this isn't an adult training film and it's not like you need *lessons* anyway. They deserve a little privacy... and I don't need to be watching this with my mother in the room," the last muttered under his breath, hoping she wouldn't hear. Dite snickered to herself.
"Never thought you'd turn into a prude, Cue," she teased. "But fine... whatever. Obviously these two had some incredible sex. Let's move this right along. I'm not convinced that wasn't a fluke, ya know. If these two have been together as long as you say, that coulda been their once a year night of passion or something."
Cupid sighed. Aphrodite was being deliberately obtuse about this. "It wasn't their anniversary, if that's what you're implying. That rad little event isn't for another few months and boy, is it a doozy!!"
"Well...." waving her hands at the screen.
"Fine,' he huffed, shifting the screen to a new scene. "This is another ordinary day for them. Watch."
It was warm and Sloane and Aislinn were outside working in the backyard; Sloane was trimming the hedges along the fence and Aislinn was busy planting annuals in the beds close to the house. There wasn't a lot of discussion, but occasionally, Aislinn would ask Sloane for an opinion and Sloane would voice her preference when asked.
Without warning, a spring shower opened up over them. Sloane scrambled to get all the tools picked up and under the cover of the porch. Then she turned to find Aislinn standing still in the middle of the yard, face upturned into the rain. Her eyes were closed and she wore a smile, and Sloane found her feet guiding her back to Aislinn's side.
"You look very beautiful in the rain, love. Dance with me." Aislinn blinked her eyes open and turned in Sloane's arms. Then they danced in the rain to music only the two of them could hear.
Aislinn nuzzled into Sloane's neck, peppering kisses along her collarbone. Sloane let her hands wander over Aislinn's body, pulling them closer together. Then their lips met and the rain became an accompaniment to the myriad of emotions running through them. With a little effort, Sloane lifted Aislinn up and she wrapped her legs around Sloane's body while never losing contact with her lips. Then Sloane moved them indoors to continue their dance in private.
The next picture showed Sloane in bed, bundled up to her eyeballs and looking miserable. Aislinn came into the room carrying a tray with a cup of steaming tea and a bowl of hot broth. She smiled sympathetically at Sloane. "How ya feeling, baby?"
"Gimme my gun. I'm gonna put myself out of my misery," she croaked.
"I don't think so," Linn said with a smile. "I can't live without you, so you're just gonna have to let me make you all better."
Sloane lifted up the covers. "Stay with me; that will make me feel better."
"You eat, and then I'll crawl in bed with you until it's time for more medicine, all right?"
Sloane pouted, then nodded her agreement, accepting the bowl and letting the steam waft over her before swallowing it slowly. When she finished, Aislinn took the tray and set it aside, then climbed into the bed and spooned around Sloane, stroking her belly lightly until Sloane relaxed into sleep beneath her touch. She never realized when she fell asleep as well.
The scene dissolved into night, though obviously it was not a continuation of what had come before. This time Aphrodite sat up, her interest more piqued than before. The scene was a perfect, romantic set-up -- a table for two on a lanai on the beach; long, lit tapers on either side of a single, long-stemmed rose; fine china and sterling silver place settings and low, romantic music coming from somewhere distant, yet close by.
Dressed only in thigh length white shirts as though they had just emerged from bed, Sloane and Aislinn slow danced in the moonlight. They exchanged whispered endearments, rubbed noses and kissed slowly and softly as they continued to move to the music.
They pulled away from each other just slightly, enough to begin working the buttons of each other's shirts, trading soft touches and caresses while the gently swayed back and forth.
"Happy Anniversary, my darling," Aislinn whispered into the darkness as Sloane trailed kisses up her neck. "I love you."
"You give my life meaning and joy, Linn. I love you so much." Their shirts dropped into the sand and left them naked before the picture shifted again.
Sloane sat in what was obviously the waiting room of the hospital with a number of other police officers. There was blood on her hands and the front of her shirt. Aislinn stepped from behind closed doors and took a deep breath, preparing herself for what was coming.
Sloane saw her first and rose to her feet and the rest of the company, save her partner's wife, stood as well. Aislinn brushed a comforting hand over the small of Sloane's back before kneeling down in front of Jen and taking both ice-cold hands in hers. She chafed them gently and opened her mouth to speak. Jen shook her head in denial.
"No, please... PLEASE. He can't be dead! HE CAN'T. THIS IS YOUR FAULT!!" She jerked her hands from Aislinn's and swung at her, knocking her to the floor and spurring the officers around them to action.
Sloane stepped between them, scooping Aislinn into her arms and out of harms way. Linn clung to her for a long moment before meeting Sloane's blue eyes with sad brown ones. "Go to her, sweetheart. She needs you right now."
"So do you, Linn... and I need you."
"I'll stay with you, love. I'll be right here. But Jen needs to know she's not alone, and you and Tony were best friends. She won't stay mad at me."
Aislinn was right. When Sloane went to Jen, she fell into Sloane's arms and reached out for Linn in the same grasp. And when they finally left her alone in the late hours of the following morning to go home, Sloane took care of the cut over Aislinn's eyes, and Linn held Sloane while she cried.
This morphed to a scene where Aislinn stood arranging bouquets of flowers she had cut from their garden, placing them in small vases and setting them throughout their home. One stayed in the kitchen, another for the hall, one for the living room and yet another for their room. The last one she took into the study, catching the smile on Sloane's face as she placed the vase in her desk.
"I love these," Sloane said, reaching out a hand to the colorful petals. "You have such an amazing green thumb. Thank you for sharing them with me."
"Sweetheart, the only reason I grow them is to share them with you," bending her head to accept Sloane's kiss. "Now c'mon. You've done enough work for a Saturday. How about we throw some steaks on the grill one more time before the weather turns? I thought we could invite Jen over."
Sloane nodded. "I'd like that, and I think she would too. You want to call her while I start the grill?"
"You got it."
The next visual showed it was clearly now fall -- the leaves on the trees were beautifully colored and crunched neatly beneath their feet as Aislinn and Sloane walked together in the sunlight. It had been a rough week for both of them and they had decided to use the weekend to recharge -- alone, together.
"How're you doing, baby?" Sloane asked Aislinn as they walked along the path that slowly led upwards into the hills. "You had a really rough week." There had been multiple traumas from every conceivable source and most of them had been beyond recovery by the time they reached the hospital. There was no help for it, but it didn't make Aislinn feel any better about those she had lost.
The last had been especially bad -- for both of them -- involving a shootout due to a drug war. Several of the victims had been children, but since they had also been the ones shooting at the police, Sloane and Aislinn had mixed feelings about the whole incident.
"So did you, sweetheart," motioning to the arm now encased in a sling. "I'm just really tired -- fighting to keep some kids alive so they can spend the rest of their lives in jail; losing innocent victims; watching as the love of my life is put in danger yet again...." Aislinn couldn't stop the tears this time, and Sloane wrapped her good arm around Linn and embraced her as tightly as she could.
"Do you want me to quit, Linn? I will."
Aislinn put her arms around Sloane's neck. "You can't, Sloane. Being a detective is part and parcel of who you are. You can't change that, and I wouldn't want you to. Just hold me for now. That's what I need."
"For as long as it takes, love."
The next sight to pixel into view brought twinkling Christmas lights and a roaring fire, but no Sloane or Aislinn. Then the door opened and they literally fell into the room, covered in snow and laughing. They shook the snow off and hung up their outerwear, Aislinn squealing when Sloane snuck her ice-cold hands underneath her warm sweater.
Sloane snorted. "And what you did outside wasn't?!? Please... you're the reason we both ended up covered in snow."
"Me?!?" brown eyes twinkled in merriment. "I'll have you know I am perfectly innocent in all this *and* I'm the reason we're going to have real hot chocolate now."
Sloane's eyes narrowed. "That is so not fair; you know how I love hot chocolate. And you are so not an innocent." Her expression changed and she grinned rakishly. "Good thing I love bad girls," pinching Aislinn's ass and scooting towards the kitchen.
"Oooh, you'd better run, lover. Santa told me there are new toys under the tree this year and I know where you keep the extra set of handcuffs!" The blonde head popped back out of the kitchen so fast, Aislinn had to bite her lips to keep her face stern and stoic.
"Promise?" waggling her eyebrows provocatively.
This time Aislinn did laugh... and after a moment, Sloane ran back into the living room and scooped her up and rushed them both into the kitchen.
When the screen paused again, Aphrodite turned to Cupid with a question. "Whaddya stop it there for? I was totally enjoying that!"
Cupid smirked. "I'm sure. I thought you might want to watch the next scene in its entirety. It's important."
"And hot?" squirming in her seat in anticipation.
Cupid's eyebrow rose and he smirked at her. "Very hot. So, I'm gonna... you know," motioning to his room. "Just call me when you're finished watching." He started to walk off, then turned back towards her. "OH! You need to know something before you watch -- that last bit... the Christmas one? That was the last time Sloane and Aislinn had any significant time alone together until this event. Their schedules have been totally whacked. They have barely managed a proper hello and goodbye everyday, much less any real intimacy. It's making them both a little nuts."
"Fortunately, they both arranged to have the night off together and made their arrangements in advance. Just keep that in mind, ‘kay?"
Dite nodded and waited until Cupid disappeared around the corner. Then she restarted the scrying window, sitting back and curling up around a pillow. She wanted there to be a happy ending for these two. They, at least, celebrated their love in every possible way.
Sloane rolled her eyes at the wolf whistles that followed her out of the locker room. She hated having to clean up and get ready for her date with Aislinn at the precinct, but it was better than having to go out in her work clothes. She was more than anxious for this date -- it had been forever since she and Aislinn had time together. Fortunately, though Valentine's wasn't recognized as a "real" holiday by any agency, everyone who was part of a couple knew the significance of this day.
So when Sloane requested specifically to be off, her captain had smiled and signed the paperwork... especially knowing how impossible things had been for her and Aislinn lately. Now, she just had to go make sure her doctor wasn't claimed by a last-minute trauma emergency.
Meantime, Aislinn was thankful for the privacy of her office as she applied her make-up and swept up her dark hair into an ivory clip Sloane had given her long ago. She had just touched perfume behind her ears and between her breasts when a knock on the door sounded. Aislinn crossed the room and opened the door, brown eyes widening appreciatively at the sight that greeted her.
Sloane's blue eyes did the same and her mouth widened in a grin. "You look fantastic, love."
Aislinn reached out and pulled her into the office. "So do you, sweetheart," before claiming her lips passionately for a long moment. When they separated for lack of air, they smiled and wiped the smeared lipstick from one another's mouths.
"Hi, stranger," Sloane greeted softly.
"God, it's good to see you. I've missed you so much."
"Same here. If we hadn't gone to so much trouble to make this night special, I'd say...."
"I know," Aislinn agreed heartily. "But we deserve a little romance and I promise to make it worth the wait."
"You always have been."
"Oooh... c'mon you sweet talker, you -- before I forget romance and have you for my only main course."
Sloane's blue eyes darkened to almost black and her nostrils flared. Without a word, she snatched up Aislinn's coat and took the doctor by the arm. Then Sloane opened the door and headed for the corridor, only to be brought up short by Aislinn.
"Baby, I need to grab my purse."
Sloane nodded, not trusting her voice not to break yet. Aislinn took her purse out of the drawer and grabbed the carnation she had gotten for Sloane. She traced Sloane's jaw with the bloom and put it in her hand. Sloane blushed and open Aislinn's coat, helping her on with it and taking her hand as they walked towards the emergency entrance.
The hospital staff cheered as they passed. Aislinn had been on edge for the better part of six weeks missing Sloane and they were *all* beginning to suffer from the lack. Aislinn blushed but they both walked out the door with big grins on their faces.
There was a matching carnation on Aislinn's seat, and she picked it up and inhaled its spicy fragrance, giving Sloane a dreamy smile. Aislinn leaned into her touch when Sloane caressed her cheek. Then they climbed into their SUV and were off for a night of love, romance and wild, passionate sex.
The restaurant was one of their favorites -- where the maitre' d knew them by name and welcomed them like family. Ordering was easy, and they spent the entire meal talking, reacquainting themselves with one another and the things they had missed in each other's lives during their forced separation.
"This is nice," Aislinn commented. "I like having conversation with you that doesn't revolve around needing more milk or paying on the credit card bill."
"It's one of the things I have missed the most with you... though certainly not the only one," Sloane added with a leer. "Whaddya say we get our dessert to go and have it for breakfast in the morning?"
Sloane would have laughed at Linn's anxiousness had she not needed every single bit of control to keep from doing something rash at the table. The ride home was the slowest they could remember, though Sloane was doing everything in her power to keep within the speed limit. There was no way she wanted a ticket to mess things up tonight.
Their first joining was fiery, explosive. The door was barely closed and locked behind them before they met in a hot, open-mouthed kiss. Dresses were discarded as carefully as they could manage with haste and left in puddles on the floor. Undergarments suffered from much less caution and tomorrow they would blush as the discovered where different pieces ended up from their enthusiasm.
But tonight, it was all about rediscovery, and this first coupling was frantic, a burning need just on the edges of control. They tumbled onto the couch, trading firm, fast touches that left them both panting in the wake of their release.
When they caught their breath, they looked at one another and laughed. "Well," Sloane commented, clearing her throat, "that was um... impressive. But I think we'd both be more comfortable if we moved this to the bedroom and that lovely king-sized bed we have. Besides, I got strawberries and champagne for us. I can put the other away while I'm in the kitchen."
Aislinn nodded. "I'll go light the candles and put on some music. I want to dance with you."
Sloane nudged the bedroom door open to find it well-lit by a number of sandalwood scented candles. Aislinn had left a cleared space for the tray Sloane carried near the bed. Sloane caught sight of Aislinn and had to focus to put the tray down without dropping it. Aislinn watched with a smile on her face, arms crossed over the opaque covered chest.
Sloane approached her slowly and ran a finger down the silk clad arm, eyebrow raised in question. For answer, Aislinn opened her arms, offering Sloane a robe of her own.
"That feels nice," Sloane confessed as the material slid over her skin. "Almost decadent."
"And looks sexy as hell," Aislinn remarked as she lightly knotted the belt. She clicked the remote and soft strains of music floated through the air. Sloane wrapped both arms around her and Aislinn tossed the remote onto a nearby chair then returned the embrace, their bodies slowly swaying together in a smooth rhythm.
"Do you know how much I love you?" Sloane whispered as she loosened the strands of Aislinn's dark hair, running her fingers through it as it fell from its clasp.
"Almost as much as I do you?" came the whispered retort as Aislinn rubbed her hands over Sloane's silk clad body, leaving a trail of fire in her wake. Sloane shivered and shook her head, tilting Linn's head so their lips could meet.
"Nuh uh," Sloane breathed. "More," then she captured Aislinn's lips in a crushing kiss. They were running out of air, but loath to release one another, so they pulled away with smaller nips and kisses while continuing their slow dance. They leaned their foreheads together, breathing hard, their hands constantly in motion. Aislinn pulled Sloane in for another kiss, one hand drifting to the knot in Sloane's robe and the other caressing the smooth ass cheeks through the silk.
"Do you know..." Aislinn breathed in Sloane's ear as she moved her lips up the strong jaw line, "why I put you in a robe?" sliding her hands into the now open material. She smiled when Sloane's breath caught on her throat, then Sloane loosened the knot on Aislinn's robe and started reciprocating the touch.
"Why?" Sloane whispered, her lips tracing a path across Linn's collarbone and down to her breasts. Aislinn gasped at the sensations that raced through her body as Sloane's touch became more deliberate and intimate. Aislinn slid her hands back up Sloane's torso, circling her breasts on a teasing motion before lightly pinching the nipples and earning a gasp of her own. Then she slid the robe off Sloane's body, letting it puddle at her feet.
"Because I love being able to undress you -- it's like opening a beautiful gift every time I do. And I always find something new about you to love."
Sloane pushed the robe from Aislinn's shoulders and followed it down the muscular back until her hands cupped the back of Linn's thighs. It didn't take much urging for Aislinn to wrap her legs around Sloane's middle, her groan echoed by Sloane when her wetness smeared along Sloane's belly.
Sloane moved them the two steps needed to reach the bed, then laid Aislinn down and covered her carefully with her body. One arm supported much of Sloane's weight; the other stroked gently from Aislinn's hip to her breast and back again. Aislinn tangled her hands in Sloane's blonde hair and tugged her down until they were skin to skin along their lengths and their lips were just touching.
"I love you, Aislinn."
"Forever and always, Sloane." Then Linn traced Sloane's lips with her tongue and their lovemaking took on a more intimate tone. And their focus was only one another.
Aphrodite watched for a moment longer, but she felt like an intruder. What they shared was obviously intensely private and personal and she felt like they deserved whatever privacy she could afford them... even though this had already happened between them. Besides, there was something oddly... familiar... in their interaction. Dite got up and went back to the serving cart, placing her bowl on it then putting her hands on her hips.
"Yo, mom... you done?"
"Yeah -- you wanna come shut it off?"
Cupid stepped from his room and waved a hand, then he leaned forward. "You didn't watch it all the way through?" shifting the scene to something a little less revealing.
"Uh uh... it felt - presumptuous... almost invasive."
Cupid's eyebrows went to his hairline. His mother was many things, most of them good, but respectful of privacy during lovemaking wasn't generally one of them. She derived great joy from the many physical expressions of love people shared and had no difficulty watching any number and variety of couplings. Only once in a while did she allow any hint of modesty or privacy to overrule her desire, and usually....
"So are you convinced, mom?"
"Do you at least understand why mortals have set aside a day to celebrate their love?"
"I s'pose. I don't see why they had to, you know... leave us out of it, though. Or why they can't be a little more spontaneous about it."
"Do you still believe in soulmates and love?"
"I guess. I mean, I sorta have to... given those two. They're the real deal. In fact, they remind me of... something. I wish I could just remember what." She turned back to the frozen picture on the screen... then she blinked. Nah... it couldn't be. Could it?
Sloane sat on the couch in shorts and a tank top, rubbing a cloth over her gun as she cleaned and oiled it. Aislinn sat on the floor, similarly clad, leaning against Sloane's legs, staring into the flames of the fire and chewing on the end of her pen. A pad of paper rested in her lap.
Dite blinked and shook her head. Nah, that's so not possible. "C'mon, Cue. I wanna go see the rest of humanity do this love thing. Surely there are more soulmates like these two out there somewhere."
"Now you're talking, mom. Happy Valentine's Day."
"Thanks for showing me the love, Cupid."
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