By the time John gets home from the hospital, the last thing on his mind is Valentine's Day. He knows that that's wrong but the only thing he can think of is the blood still splattered on the scrubs he forgot to take off and the antiseptic smell coating his skin. He goes off his shoes and yanks off his scrubs, moving to the kitchen and tossing them in the trash can and scrubs his hands under burning water in the kitchen sink. He knows that he should change but when he turns off the faucet and stumbles to the living room, Alex is sitting on the sofa in the position that John left him in 12 hours earlier.
John walks over and falls on the sofa next to him, "Alex." He murmurs, wrapping his arms around the smaller man.
Alex jumps and looks over at him, "John? Did you forget something?"
He yawns and shakes his head, "I haven't been home in over 12 hours." He rests his head on Alex's shoulder and closes his eyes, "just going to," he yawns, "rest my eyes."
When the clacking of the computer keys resume, his eyes shoot open, "have you eaten?"
Alex hums non-committedly in response before dragging his gaze away rom the bright screen and resting it on John, "are you okay? You look exhausted."
He sighs and rubs his face, struggling to keep his eyes open as he sits up, "have you eaten at all?"
Alex digs through the pile of papers to his right and produces four granola wrappers triumphantly, turning to face John, "yes, I have."
Though he should be eating better, John's too exhausted to argue. He sways forward and rests his head on Alexander's chest, eyes fluttering shut. When Alexander's hand comes up and runs through John's tangled curls, he sighs in relief and relaxes against his boyfriend.
"You need to take a shower," Alex whispers.
"Like you're one to talk," John groans and pulls away from Alex. Head spinning as he stands from the uncomfortable sofa. "Join me?" He requests anyway.
Alex chuckles and stands, joints cracking in protest, "can you stay awake long enough to shower?"
John yawns and nods, "is that a personal challenge?"
Alex grins, "you know it." He grabs John's hand and begins tugging him to the bathroom. The freckled man stumbling behind him.
John laughs when Alex drops his hand and tugs off his own clothes. John quickly joins him in undressing, leaning against the cool counter as he watches Alexander turn on the water. He follows him under the warm spray and sighs in relief when the water pounds against his stiff back. He practically sags against Alex when the man stands close.
When Alex reaches for tinge shampoo and pops open the cap, John looks up at him and stands up straight, "wouldn't you rather be doing something else?" He points to his lips and Alex chuckles.
"Don't worry, we will," he replies with an exaggerated wink. "Until then," he pats his bare chest for John to lean against. "Let me wash your hair?"
John shrugs and leans against Alex, letting his eyes close as Alex squeezes a dollop of shampoo on to his scalp. He gently works the shampoo into John's hair, suds running down his back.
"I can," he yawns, "wash my own hair," John protests. He struggles to open his eyes against the exhaustion that covers him.
"I know, love," Alex agrees. "But I like taking care of you." He doesn't receive a response and when he looks down at the man leaning against him, John is asleep against his chest. Alex chuckles, the sound rumbling through his chest, yet John doesn't stir. He rinses the shampoo from John's hair and grabs the conditioner, squeezing a bit on to his palm and massaging it into his hair. The only sound in the bathroom is the warm water pounding against their skin and John's breathless sighs as Alex massages his scalp.
He grabs the bar of soap and runs it carefully up and down John's arms, letting the suds rush away before moving on to his back.
John doesn't begin waking up until Alexander reaches around him to turn off the water. "Sshh, love, go back to sleep." Alex whispers. He turns off the water and grabs the fluffy towel off the toilet lid next to the shower. He wraps it around John and slowly steps out of the shower. He takes a deep breath and scoops John up, struggling to carry him to their bedroom across the hall. When Alex places him on the bed that's when John finally wakes up.
"Alex?" He questions, sitting up slowly and rubbing his eyes.
"Ssh, John," Alex whispers while grabbing a pair of sweatpants for John and tossing them on the bed. "Sorry to wake you."
"You didn't," he responds with a yawn as he pulls on the sweatpants. "Sorry for falling asleep."
Alex pulls on pajama pants and lays next to John on the mattress, "come on, love." He opens his arms for John to curl up next to him, smiling when the freckled man lays back down and curls up beside him.
"Don't you have writing to do?" John questions, resting his head on Alex's chest.
He surprising himself when he answers honestly, "this is more important." He pulls the blankets over them and wraps his arms around John. Following him into a peaceful sleep.
John is unsurprisingly awake after Alex has already left the bed. He awakens with the nagging sensation that he's forgotten something important and it's not until he rolls over to check his phone, that Alex must've plugged in for him, that he realizes he's forgotten Valentine's Day.
He leaves his phone on the nightstand and bolts out of the bedroom, almost knocking Alex's laptop off the mattress, tripping on one of Alex's books by the door.
When he stumbles into the living room, Alex's bag for class is still by the door but his shoes and jacket are missing. Before he has time to question Alex's location, the door unlocks and pushes open.
The Caribbean man looks up as his eyes widen in surprise, "you're awake!"
John nodded slowly, "shouldn't you be in class?" He looks down at the cardboard holder and bags in Alex's hands and raises an eyebrow, "what's that?"
Alex looks down and blushes, "uh, well, you see," he trails off and clears his throat. "Everyone was talking about Valentine's Day in the group chat this morning and you were so exhausted." He's looking anywhere but John at this point as he says, "I know that breakfast in bed is supposed to be romantic and relaxing." His cheeks are bright red, "I got you pan caliente and café con leche from that bodega down the block. So, uh, go back to bed so I can give it to you? And be romantic?"
John's heart is full as he stares at the man in front of him. 'I want to spend the rest of my life with you,' floats through his mind before he nods with a small smile. He doesn't realize that the words he thought escaped from his lips and he doesn't notice Alex's eyes widening before he turns and heads back to the bedroom.
Alex clears his throat and tries to will away the grin spreading across his lips. "He wants to spend the rest of his life with me," he whispers to the empty room before giving into the grin and kicks off his shoes, following John to their bedroom.
When he walks into the bedroom, John is curled up under the blankets, almost like when Alex left only an hour earlier. Alex sets the coffee and food on the nightstand next to the bed before sitting next to John and placing his hand gently on his arm, "John, love, wake up."
John stifles a laugh and sits up, giving an exaggerated yawn and stretch. "Alex? What time is it?"
Alex rolls his eyes fondly and checks his watch, "one thirty." He gestures to the nightstand, "I brought you breakfast."
He places his hand over his heart, "for me? You shouldn't have."
"You're such a shithead," Alex replies, affection softening the term. He turns around and rests again the wall before turning and grabbing the cups and bag. "When I walked into the bodega, the man,"
"Usnavi," John interrupts.
"Usnavi immediately grabbed one of the cups and put vanilla and cinnamon in it. How many times do you go there?" Alex asks, handing one of the cups and containers over.
John takes the cup, pulls off the lid, and breathes the scent of coffee deeply, "nearly every day," he sighs. He takes a sip and relaxes against the wall, "he makes amazing café con leche. He's always open when I'm either going to work or coming home." He opens the container and begins eating the food.
Instead of eating his own, Alex watched John with affection slowly filling his heart. "I love you," he says.
John looks up at him and smiles, "I love you too." He leans against Alex and shares a soft kiss with the man. "Now, eat before it gets cold." He says with a gentle nudge.
Alex grabs his laptop from the end of the bed and rests it on their legs, opening Netflix and pulling up Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
"You know me so well," John says with a laugh.
"I like to think I do," Alex replies, pressing a kiss to John's head and resting his food on his lap.
It's six o'clock when Alexander's phone buzzes on the nightstand.
"It's Laf," Alex says, reading the contact name aloud. He types a response and looks up, "they need help setting up their date with Hercules."
John nods, "go help."
"Are you sure it's okay? I know it's Valentine's Day, shouldn't I stay?" Alexander asks.
"Go help Laf, Alex. I'll be okay," John says, pushing Alex out of the bed.
"Are you sure?"
"Go," he responds with a laugh, waiting until he hears the front door shut before rolling out of bed.
John grabs his phone off the nightstand and quickly texts Laf "1 hour is all I need. Thanks!"
"De rien, mon ami" is the quick response.
Sunset is in a few minutes and if he wants to make it up there in time, he has to hurry. So, he grabs the blanket Hercules made for them off the back of the sofa and grabs the basket he hid under the kitchen sink, quickly putting the food he made before going to work in it, and walking back to the bedroom. He throws open the window, revealing the rickety fire escape, and climbs out, slowly climbing up the steps to the roof.
John walks to the center of the roof and lays out the blanket, placing the basket on the corner to keep it from flying away. "Okay," he mutters to himself, "candles and flower petals?" He turns back to the fire escape and walks down, ducking into their open bedroom window. John grabs the shoebox full of candles from under their bed and the bag of flower petals from the closet. His phone vibrates from his pocket and when he fishes it out of his pocket, he nearly drops it in his hurry to finish.
Laf: "Petit lion is on his way back. Desolé, John, I couldn't keep him longer."
He sprinkles flower petals by their bedroom door and sprinkles them through the window and up the fire escape to the picnic laid out on the roof. He walks back down and sets a candle every few steps, lighting them carefully, until he reaches the picnic again. John sits down on the blanket and takes the food out, accompanied by a bottle of cold champagne that Laf had given them a few nights ago. They didn't have champagne flutes but they had plastic cups and that works just fine, he just hopes that Alex will love it.
Alex unlocks the door and throws it open, "John! You wouldn't believe this! Laf didn't have anything for me to do?! It's like they were just trying to keep me occupied or something?! Hercules wasn't even home, Laf said he'd be home in an hour or two but they wouldn't tell me why I was there!" While he was shouting this, he kicked off his shoes and shut the door. "I think they almost tied me up when I said I was leaving! The only person I'd let tie me up would obviously be y-" he stops talking when he opens the bedroom door and sees the rose petals scattered on the floor. "John?" He asks softly as he walks further into the room. Alex follows the trail of petals outside and gasps when he spots the candles. "What is this?" He follows the trail to the roof and stops in his tracks when he sees John on the roof, quickly blinking back tears when he sees the picnic laid out.
John looks up when he hears the creaking of the fire escape come to a halt and a smile spreads across his face, "Alexander." He pats the spot across from him and his smile widens when Alex makes his way over.
"What is all this?" Alexander asks when he sits down, looking at the picnic laid out.
"It's a picnic for Valentine's Day," John replies with a shrug before pouring the champagne into the cups. "Champagne?"
"Thank you," Alex whispers as he takes it. "But, why? You didn't have to do this."
"I know that I didn't," he says. "I wanted to because I love you."
"Why up here?"
"It's as close to your home as I could get," John replies, fighting back a blush.
"What do you mean?" Alex asks, confusion coloring his words. John knows he's from the Caribbean but, even so, New York is home. They could've had the picnic anywhere.
"The stars," the blush is burning brightly on John's face. "You belong up there, Alex, with all the stars."
Alex sets his cup down and leans forward, placing a hand on John's face, "if I'm the stars, love, you're the moon. Pulling the tide along as if you own gravity itself. You outshine me, dearest, and you're the only one I don't mind doing so." He moves closer, "I want to know all of you. Every part. The parts that burn brighter than the sun, the parts the are colder than ice." His breath dances across John's lips as he speaks, the aforementioned man placing his hand over Alex's. "I love you, John."
"I love you too, Alex," John whispers, almost afraid to break the atmosphere that has settled over them. The sounds of the city disappearing around them.
The kiss they share is soft, but passionate, as Alex presses close to the freckled man.
They break apart with a laugh when a voice shouts, "why the fuck are there candles on the fire escape?!"
"Happy Valentine's Day, Alex."
"Happy Valentine's Day, John."