“So, are you going with the traditional flowers and chocolates, or are you being a bit more creative?”
Talon blinked at Gael, having no earthly idea what he was talking about. “Please don’t tell me you forgot,” Gael said flatly.
Talon paused, his mind going a mile a minute. It wasn’t Finn’s birthday. “Fuck,” he swore succinctly. Fucking Valentine’s day was tomorrow. Gael slapped him on the back, grinning.
“He’s a guy,” Talon said defensively after a few seconds.
“Who’s a guy?” They both glanced up as Vance came down the corridor toward where they were standing outside the medical bay.
“Finn, apparently,” Gael drawled.
“Huh?” Vance looked from one of them to the other in confusion.
“I mean he’s not going to be into all that stuff, flowers and shit,” but even as Talon spoke the words, he knew it was a lie. Gael just raised an eyebrow. Vance barked out a laugh.
“You forgot Valentine’s day.”
“You could just take him out for dinner,” Gael suggested.
“When?” Talon nearly wailed not even attempting to disguise his I know and freely admit I’ve fucked up voice. It was nearly ten p.m. They had just finished up a really long day and they’d all eaten take-out earlier. “He’s going on that crime scene forensics course tomorrow, and I have no idea what time he’s gonna be done.”
“There are one or two places that will be open late in Ybor,” Gael mused. “Although, Friday and Valentine’s Day? It’ll be a zoo.”
Talon nearly growled in frustration. He hated eating out. Hated the stares, the whispers when they saw the mark on his face. The fear and mistrust many didn’t bother to hide. “Gianelli’s,” Vance pronounced naming their favorite Italian restaurant. Gianelli’s had a private back room, and they had originally gone to celebrate Doctor Natalie’s engagement. The doc had gotten Gael the private help he had needed when he was diagnosed with skin cancer and had kept it away from the bureau. When she’d asked them to come, they couldn’t say no. They’d all been eating and suddenly heard the sound of raised voices in the main dining room. It had turned out there was a birthday party going on, except the boyfriend of the birthday girl had objected to her ex thinking he could turn up and it had quickly become a fight. Talon and Vance had just grabbed a man each by the collar and hauled them outside. It had been over and done with in a few seconds, and the owner was so grateful his restaurant hadn’t got wrecked, they’d all drunk complimentary champagne. It was the only place the team ever went to eat out, not including Betty’s Diner.
Talon pulled his phone from his pocket and started dialing the number. Three restaurants later he gave up in disgust. Everywhere was slammed. The others didn’t take bookings but were expecting wait periods of at least an hour and the thought that he had no idea what time Finn was going to be back made the two early slots he was offered impossible to accept.
“Can’t you stop and get him something on the way home?” Vance asked.
“The truck’s in for service. We’re both in Finn’s.” In fact, any second his boyfriend was going to come out of the locker rooms looking for him. As if Finn had heard him, the door opened at the end of the corridor and Finn came out with Sawyer. Finn was laughing, and Sawyer was shaking his head in amusement. Finn looked up, and Talon met his green eyes. Everything in him soothed instantly. He wanted to do something special. He didn’t want to do chocolates and flowers, and yeah, he’d stuffed up the chance of both because he’d forgotten. Forgot Finn was normal, and he was anything but. Forgot his boyfriend was and would always be the very best thing that had ever happened to him. Forgot he wasn’t supposed to take him for granted. His lips curled upwards in the answering smile to Finn’s soft one.
“You done?” Finn said softly and gasped as Talon drew him in close to his body. Finn looked around, alarmed.
“Everyone’s gone home,” Talon murmured desperately wanting a kiss.
“Well, we haven’t,” Sawyer groaned, turning and following a chuckling Vance. Gael threw him a pointed look and then ruffled Finn’s hair.
“Knock ‘em dead, tomorrow, kid.”
Finn’s eyes sparkled, all eager. “I can’t wait.”.
Talon smiled indulgently. He couldn’t imagine anything more boring than discussing the nuances of directional blood-spatter, but he knew Finn had just bought a book by a famous forensics scientist in preparation for the course and Talon had already been lectured by his boyfriend on the value of it. Apparently, the book – Forensics for Fiction – had been written for authors, but Finn had raved about it and had even gotten their boss Gregory interested. Their team didn’t have the experience to handle murders in any way, and to be honest, they were having enough problems with the living, but Gregory was trying as hard as he could to plug all the numerous gaps in their training.
And Finn was an asset Gregory had recognized when he had been too stupid to. No, he had to get Finn something special…
Talon was fairly pleased with how things were going so far. He’d deliberately turned off Finn’s alarm and woken him up with breakfast in bed. Just a little too late to have Finn worrying about anything other than ramming down his chocolate chip muffin and racing in and out of the shower. He’d arranged for Gael to pick him up as he was still without the truck and after Finn had disappeared in an eager blur, he was showered and ready for Gael when he showed. Gael quizzed him immediately when he’d arrived, but Talon had just said everything was in hand. Gael had grinned and called him a lucky bastard. Which he knew. He had a dozen stops to make when he got his truck back but was waiting outside the training area next to the Tampa PD building when Finn came out of the door. Finn looked in surprise when Gael took his keys from him and promised Finn his “baby” would be safe and sound in their parking garage when he needed it tomorrow. Talon steered a bemused Finn to his truck and got him settled in there.
He started the truck and turned around. “You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?”
Finn opened his mouth, then closed it, and Talon smiled at the pink flush that started in his neck. He leaned over and pressed his lips to Finn’s, satisfied when he felt Finn’s hands creep around his back. He pulled back and then nearly—for a split second—thought to hell with the plan and wanted just to drive Finn home and carry him to bed, but he didn’t.
“I hope you’re hungry.”
Fifteen minutes later they pulled up outside Betty’s Diner. “What are we doing here?” Finn asked in astonishment. Talon grinned and jumped down from the truck and was at Finn’s door before he’d recovered from his shock enough to open it. Betty served breakfast and lunch six days a week, closed at 3 p.m., and it was the first place Talon had ever taken Finn to. To be honest, the diner looked closed. All the shutters were down, and it looked like the usual emergency lighting was on when you glanced at the door.
Talon just smiled and clasped Finn’s hand which he almost never did. He led Finn solemnly to the door and opened it. “I screwed up and forgot to book anywhere early enough.”
But Finn didn’t answer. He was too busy staring at the setting inside. Betty stood beaming, but even Talon was impressed at the table. All the smaller tables usually in the middle had been pushed to the side against the booths. The only table left was set up in the middle of the now empty floor. Talon blinked at the snowy white tablecloth and napkins, and the two candles flickering gently. The bottle of champagne he had dropped off earlier was chilling in the ice bucket. There were rose petals sprinkled over the table, and a single rose in a vase next to the candles.
Finn’s hand tightened in his, and he glanced at him quickly. The green eyes he loved shimmered as he stared, and then Finn gazed back at Talon and swallowed.
“It’s beautiful, Betty. Thank you,” Talon said, quietly.
“How?” Finn swallowed, and Talon guided him to the table. Talon didn’t answer because Betty was busy serving the soup. Finn inhaled. “My favorite.”
Betty beamed. “Of course,” and then she sniffed in that what did you expect kind of way. Talon’s belly growled as he smelled Betty’s homemade tomato soup. He’d spent all day worrying about making tonight perfect and hadn’t even thought about eating anything.
“How was your day?” Talon said.
Finn’s face lit up, and Talon listened as Finn eagerly told him what he had learned. They finished their steak and Betty pulled over a cart with some tiny deserts for them to share, and pressed a set of keys into Talon’s hand. “You just lock up when you’re done.” Finn stood up and threw his arms around her, and she chuckled and left them alone.
It was immediately quiet, and Talon swallowed down his suddenly dry throat. “You would be right thinking I forgot about Valentine’s day…I did.” Talon watched the green eyes he loved widen a little at his pronouncement, but then Finn’s face softened, and his smile was back. Gentle, forgiving and sexy as all hell. He was crap at sharing, but Finn deserved the truth and so much more.
“Normal life stopped for me the day I woke up with this.” Talon gestured to his face, then took Finn’s slim hands in his because he needed the touch. “Grandma and Grandad tried, but after Grandad died I stopped bothering.” He shrugged. “I never saw anything worth celebrating.” Finn’s hand tightened in his. “No, that’s not even strictly true. It…” Talon swallowed again, searching for the right words. “It was as if normal life didn’t involve me. Other people had lives. Went to ball games, hell – even dated. So, I didn’t forget exactly. I knew it was Valentine’s day. I just stopped thinking anything like that applied to me.”
Finn’s eyes glittered, and Talon brought Finn’s hand up to his mouth and kissed Finn’s palm. He needed a few seconds to cover his own eyes becoming suspiciously bright. Talon slid a hand into his back pocket and brought out an envelope. He squeezed Finn’s hand before he let go and straightened the envelope a little before handing it over. Finn’s lips parted soundlessly. “Yours is at home.”
Talon understood immediately. “And I bet you would never have said a word about it if I hadn’t.” Finn would never try and make him feel bad. Finn’s lips curled up into the shy smile he loved. “Open it.”
Finn tore the envelope and grinned when he saw the card. He arched an eyebrow. “This is a valentine card?”
Talon chuckled. “I think it’s a birthday card, but I managed to find one with nothing written on it. He watched as Finn read the words Talon had written and saw the lump travel down Finn’s throat.
super hero with heart
“I think this is you, not me,” Finn said quietly. “You’re the one with the super abilities.”
“Come here,” Talon ordered quietly, and Finn got up, and Talon drew him close until he was sitting on his lap. Talon gently raised Finn’s chin with his finger until their eyes met and held. “Every day. Every day you make me a better person. Every day when I can’t love myself, you do it for me. You have the biggest heart of anyone I know, and I don’t know how the hell I ever got so lucky that you make room in it for me.” Talon thumbed the moisture from under Finn’s eyes and captured his lips with his own.
He had gone to five stores before he had found the card he wanted. It had a picture of Superman on it, and Talon could hear the words as he had written them.
“You are my hero. Love is your superpower, and you save me with it every day.”