The cool of the blustery mid-February morning pressed onto the glass of a curtained window, knocking with its chilled knuckles against the surface. Through the glass was a warm and sleepy dwelling of clothes on the floor and frame of a twin-sized bed, whose occupants lay still and asleep beneath the warmth and weight of two different comforters, their legs curled up and tucked inside. Directly across them was a boudoir, the counter of it littered with make-up, a hair brush, and an opened side drawer. Adjacent to that was its matching chair; a single pair of black slacks draped over the backing. The stillness of the room did not last much longer, as the gentle breaths and sighs were interrupted by a harsh alarm coming from the nightstand. A startled stirring erupted from beneath the covers as an arm shot out of the blankets and slapped at the top of the alarm clock; activating the snooze button. With mild groaning and the shifting of limbs on sheets, two pale and sculpted legs protruded out from beneath the mass of comforters. The toes fanned stiffly, pointed and curled; stretching and releasing the lethargic stillness of sleep. “No…” came a dry, tired female voice. “Ten more minutes.”
“Ich habe to go to class…” replied an equally drained woman. “It’s the last lecture before the first exam…”
“Tell ‘em you’re sick…that you can’t go today…”
“Sick? And what is it I’ve caught?”
“…mad cow.” The comforters flipped over halfway, as one of the women made an attempt to sit up while the other cowered from the sudden lack of warmth. The smaller figure curled to retain warmth and snaked an arm around the hips of the taller woman who had successfully brought herself into a seated position. “Ah—No…!”
“Really, Ash,” said the taller woman. “That’s the best you could come up with?” her tone was both amused and disappointed. “No, I have to get ready.” She pulled the loose strap of her tank top back up over her shoulder as she began rolling her head to one side; stretching her neck.
“But Gretch, it’s cold outside.” Ash whined, only tightening her grip on the woman’s hips with the side of her face pressed into her side and stomach. “And you’re so warm…” She added, punctuating her sentence with a kiss to the outside of Gretchen’s stomach. The taller girl twitched at the contact, biting her lip.
“I am not breaking my perfect attendance.” She finally declared. “We cannot all sleep in like you can, you little dumkopf.” She carefully took ahold of Ash’s wrist and freed herself from the girl’s sleepy embrace, swinging her legs to the side of the bed and resting her feet on the cold floor. Ash pouted and propped herself up on one elbow, the side of her face in her palm.
“You would if you scheduled your classes right.” She countered. Gretchen bent down from her seated position and grabbed for a black camisole that had sat crumpled and almost forgotten on the floor. Ash rubbed one of her eyes sleepily, trying to gather her thoughts more coherently for a rebuttal. “Who the bloody hell wants to do the early morning crap when you have the choice of going in the afternoon?” She took a moment to admire the back profile of her girlfriend, loving the way the charcoal tips of her blonde hair rest above the small of her back; brushing cross the pale skin beneath it, and how she hugs her arms to herself before tying it all up to get ready. Gretchen leaned forward towards her alarm clock and grabbed a hair tie. Ash watched in silence as the blonde woman in front of her began her morning ritual of pulling back her hair into a half ponytail. Her thoughts were interrupted as Gretchen stood and began stretching out her back and arms.
“It is, as Ben Franklin had once said,” she began. “That ‘early to bed und early to rise makes ein mann strong healthy und wise’…” she quoted, now stretching an arm across her chest with her hip cocked to the side. Ash’s eyes dropped to the abundance that was Gretchen’s posterior, noting that the pantie line down her right side was askew; a cheek showing.
“Don’t forget ‘cheeky’.” She replied coyly.
“What?” Gretchen asked. Ash swiftly darted her hand out and pulled at the lace of the lingerie, and let it snap softly back into its proper place. “Ah--!” The German girl squeaked out of mild surprise, and then smiled; embarrassed.
“You’re welcome, love.” Ash chuckled, now lying in the center of the bed on her back. Gretchen made her way over to her closet and pulled out a long grey satin robe and put it on.
“I will be back in a bit.” Gretchen stated before tying the front and leaving the room. Ash breathed a sigh, the air hissing from her lungs.
“It’s times like this, I wish we all had our own bathrooms…” She proper herself up on her elbows and tried wriggling her way backwards towards the wooden headboard. Ash rubbed her eyes and yawned loudly; one arm stretched high above her head and then fell in dead weight. She brought her knees up closer, and pulled the blankets about her body to keep warm. “What’s today….” She wondered out loud, but found that there wasn’t a calendar in sight for her to glance at. Ash debated on whether or not to get out of Gretchen’s bed or bury herself in further in the safety and warmth of both of their comforters. “Decisions, decisions…” she grinned to herself. Ash burrowed in once again to the comforters and rolled on her side, loving where she was.
‘I’ll never think of Juniper the same way ever again…’
“…Not even going to try to wake up?.” Said Gretchen, looking much more refreshed as she entered her bedroom, smiling at the heap of blankets on her bed. Ash smiled sleepily into the pillow and opened one eye, earning an amused chuckle from Gretchen. The taller girl walked over to her and cupped the tired Aussie’s face in her hands. “Guten Morgen, mein liebe” she sang cutely, the smell of face soap and mint gracing Ash’s senses. With her cheeks still being pushed forward, she grinned and stifled a giggle; but halted as Gretchen moved in to kiss her.
“Ah, wait!” Ash said, burying her face into the pillow. “I haven’t cleaned up yet.” She said. “My face is all gross…and I haven’t brushed my teeth yet.”
‘There’s nothing I hate feeling in the morning more than fuzzy-feeling teeth and morning breath!’
“Well perhaps if you would have gotten up with me you wouldn’t be hiding, Fraüline…” she smirked playfully and went to grab the slacks that were previously casted on the chair and pulled them on; dropping her robe to her shoulders and then casting it to the foot of the bed. As she buttoned the front of her pants, she reached for a fresh bra out of her drawer and had her back to Ash as she took off her camisole to put it on.
“Need help?” Ash offered, propping herself up on her elbows once more.
“Nein,” Gretchen answered. Ash could hear the smile in her voice as she spoke. “I am a grown woman, I can dress myself.” After she secured the last hook in the back, Gretchen grabbed for the back of her chair and the hairbrush, assuming her morning ritual of readying herself before heading downstairs to join the other early risers. Ash brought herself into a relaxed seated position, her back against the headboard; watching Gretchen brush and smooth her blonde locks.
‘I’m not sure why…I just love to watch her get ready.’
It did not take long before the busied German girl noticed the sudden silence, feeling a pair of eyes on her skin. After setting the hairbrush aside, she stole a quick glance at Ash through the mirror before taking up her dark grey eye shadow. “It is rude to stare…” she mocked, a cocky grin playing about her pale lips as she leaned in carefully to the mirror, smoothing on the powder. Ash blinked and dipped her head lower, having finally been called on it.
“S-sorry.” She stuttered. “It’s just…I don’t know, nice. To watch.” She rubbed a hand to the back of her head meekly, giving a crooked grin. Having finished layering the eye shadow accordingly, Gretchen wordlessly picked up her trademark black eyeliner and began carefully applying it; like a painter to a canvas.
“Ich can understand that.” She finally responded, after having finished both eyes and taking a moment to check for imperfections. Satisfied, she capped it and began applying mascara with a greater concentration. “….Ich would watch mein mutter do the same thing as a little girl.” Ash relaxed once more, watching the private show that was a woman readying herself before presenting her face to the world. It was an intimate and exclusive side to her girlfriend that only she had the privilege to see; as if watching through a secret window that was meant only for her viewing pleasure. She loved every little detail that Gretchen would have considered an imperfection. The way she wrinkled her nose when a stray hair would tickle it, how she would run her fingers through her long bangs; only to have them return in a sweeping curtain motion, too short to keep them in place for long. The taller girl would pause, giving her work a glance for touch-ups; narrowing her eyes and looking to the side, making absolutely sure there wasn’t a smear or blending error. She pursed her pale pink lips, settling for the work produced by her meticulous hand. She clicked the eye shadow case shut with a sigh, and then picked up the mascara to tend to her lashes; her mouth slightly parted as she leaned forward to whisk and paint them upward. Upon finishing the final act, Gretchen sat back into her chair properly, blinking; a look of serious concentration in her ever-analyzing blue eyes.
“…you’re so beautiful.” Ash quickly sucked in a small gasp, realizing the words had slipped through her lips so easily and without a second thought. The taller woman paused, smiling to herself in the reflection of the mirror; and slowly twisting the mascara shut and then putting it to the side. She turned in her chair to see the half-dressed Aussie; her bedhead cutely ruffled. With a gentle smile, she stood and sauntered back to the side of her bed to give Ash a tight and tender hug, to which she wrapped her arms around in return. “I don’t see why you should even put the damn stuff on.” She chuckled.
“It is my habit.” She replied, pulling back and smoothing out Ash’s bangs lovingly. “Just as you have developed the habit of crawling into mein bed.” She said, scrunching her nose playfully and lightly smacking the side of Ash’s blushing face. Gretchen stood and opened her closet, filing through her various collared shirts and jackets.
“Y-yeah, well…” Ash stammered. “If it were up to me, you wouldn’t have to wear makeup at all y’know…” she informed. “I-in fact, you could wear sweat pants for all I care. Just so long as you smile…” Gretchen pulled out a light grey button-down shirt and pulled it on, buttoning it as she turned to Ash; her eyes watching the flustered Aussie. “I mean, I like it when you do those things, but…it’s not important to me. Erm, just so long as…so long as you’re…you.” Ash bit her lip under the amused gaze of the now fully dressed German girl before her.
‘Why am I acting like this? It’s already been a few months we’ve been together, and here I am in her damn bed stuttering like a fucking moron.’
“Danke, Ashley.” She replied, grabbing a black leather jacket from her closet. “Und if I had in mein way…” she trailed, coming back onto Ash with an innocent glimmer in her eyes. “You would be wearing one of mein ironed shirts.” She breathed huskily into Ash’s ear before kissing the side of her neck. With one hand she cupped Ash’s face, looking into her widened moss-green eyes with a half-lit gaze through the harsh black and grey of her eye makeup.
“J…Just a shirt?” Ash replied, a small smile forming on her lips. Gretchen pursed her lips to one side, giving a second to think of an alternative.
“Well, with your height, it would make for a nice night gown.” She teased. Ash let out a chuckle, trying to hide her face.
“Great,” she began. “A dress, ey?”
“Well it was either that, or in your goggles.” The pale woman said in a sing-song voice, pointing to one side of the bed frame. Ash’s eyes widened for the second time that morning as she tore her gaze to the bedpost, finding her goggles hanging on the wooden protruding knob; her mouth partially agape. With a giggle, Gretchen leaned forward again and planted a kiss on the corner of Ash’s mouth before giving a light and playful smack to her other cheek. With one last smirk, she wordlessly left the room, leaving the bewildered Aussie alone.
‘…in just my goggles…?’
Ash smiled stupidly to herself at the image put into her head, taking the goggles off of the bedpost. She sat on the edge of the bed, a single sock still on, her t-shirt stretched at the collar, and her sleep shorts missing somewhere in the room. “Damn…my luck ran out when I found her.” She said, rubbing a hand through her bangs. As she located her shorts on the floor at the foot of the bed, the alarm clock sounded a second time. She allowed it to ring for a moment longer as she pulled on her shorts and walked around to Gretchen’s side of the bed. She sighed and picked up the loud device, clicking the ‘off’ button with a grumble.
“See you at the computer lab!”
“Later!” Ash waved, tugging on a backpack strap with her other hand. As she exited the biology lab, she bolted down the stairs to meet-up with Genevieve in the café. As she rounded the hallway, she noticed a group of students stapling red and white poster boards. “….eh?” she stepped closer to investigate the activity, curious.
“Just a little higher, Nick. It’s kind of crooked.” Instructed one of the boys. Ash stood off to the side, not wanting to get in their way. “We gotta make sure we advertise the raffling right this year, or Mrs.DeRossi will have our asses again.” Ash tightened the grip on her straps, not pausing to ask. She took notice of the red and pink hearts, and little black arrows that decorated the poster. Ash rubbed her chin, thinking of possible plans she could make as she found herself in the café lounge.
‘….oh fuck, is it that time already? Valentine’s Day?’
“Bonjour!” called a perky and green-eyed girl, waving her delicate hand in the air to grab Ash’s attention. With a grin of acknowledgement, Ash briskly walked to the table as Genevieve sat across from a rather sour looking XiaoXiao. “You are late, did your professor give you a ‘ard time?” she asked, brushing her platinum blonde curls to one side.
“Nah, just got a little side tracked on the way over.” Ash replied. “Oh, speaking of….did you lot realize it was Valentine’s Day today?” she asked, but before Genevieve could speak XiaoXiao rolled her eyes and put down her cup of hot chocolate.
“Werr no shit-aru.” She spat. “Red hearts and fat frying-ah babies no meant for Easter.” Ash raised an eyebrow, as did Genevieve.
“…what crawled up your ass and died.” Ash asked flatly. XiaoXiao lowered her head, and looked off to the side. Genevieve only shrugged, unsure of the Asian girl’s mood. “Well….anyway, I totally forgot. I don’t have a clue what to get Gretchen.”
“Per’aps chocolate?” Genevieve asked. Ash frowned, shaking her head in dismay. “Flowers, then?”
“I don’t think she’s much into the whole flowers thing, and I know she doesn’t like the chocolate here…I would say a movie, but I don’t think there’s anything out right now that she’d want to go and see.” XiaoXiao snapped her eyes back onto Ash at the mentioning of a movie. “Do you know what’s out?” she asked, seeing her including herself into conversation.
“Just a rot of action movie.” She replied. Genevieve tapped a finger to her chin, her brow furrowed.
“Per’aps…you could make her somsing?” she asked, earning a confused look from both girls. “For example, I am making a scarf for Bazzel.”
“Bazzel?” Ash repeated. “I didn’t know you two were—“
“They not going out-aru.” XiaoXiao interrupted coldly. “Gen is-ah just having troubre saying ‘I rove you’.” She corrected, making the French girl turn a few shades of pink. “As for Gretchen, just-ah make trip to toy store.” She suggested, taking a sip of her hot chocolate.
“A toy store…” Ash deadpanned, and then rubbed the side of her neck. “Really. What in the fuck am I going to get her there, ey?” All the while, Genevieve was motioning for Ash to stop talking, her face going from light pink to nearly red. “I said for Gretch, not a child.” XiaoXiao stared at Ash as if she were the one spouting ridiculous suggestions.
“…wourd YOU give a chird a dirdo-aru?” she said, her voice getting louder. Ash stiffened at the question, feeling her face turn a dark pink. “I said-ah go toy store and shop for Gretchen, take-ah her with! So many to-ah choose from, many you may rike and want try with.” Ash held up both her hands, nearly flailing them at XiaoXiao to be quiet. “They have-ah red, brue, purpre, I see one have two-ah head—“
“JUST—SHH!” Ash loudly whispered, her face growing redder with embarrassment by the minute as she shot across the table to put both of her hands over XiaoXiao’s mouth. Genevieve had crossed her arms over her small chest and looked off to the side, as if not having heard a word. “CHRIST, XIAO.” She hissed, removing her hands and sitting back into her chair with a slump. XiaoXiao surveyed the two blushing women. “I wanted ideas, not…er, not…fantasies…” she explained, feeling the blush now spreading to her neck.
“You-ah cannot sperr ‘fantasy’ without-ah ‘N-A-S-T-Y’.” she replied casually, her English pronunciation strained as she spelled it out. “I no understand why such taboo.” She replied, waving her hand about as she took another sip of her hot chocolate. Ash slid back into her chair, feeling defeated. Genevieve sat still and upright, her ears still pink. “sex precious, and it no secret you two are activery—“
“Just…no, Xiao.” Ash interrupted, waving her hand at the topic. “Don’t even bring that in, please…” The blushing curly-haired girl suddenly came to life again with a realization, nudging Ash’s elbow.
“Get her a play-sing!” she exclaimed.
“Ash IS her ‘pray thing’-aru,” XiaoXiao smirked behind her cup of hot chocolate.
“God damn it, not this again!” Ash groaned. “I’m happy to know you lot are more than okay with her and I being involved, but for the love of PRIVACY can you at least leave out our—“
“How you say…a ‘teddy bear’?” Genevieve asked slowly, unsure of the word. “She actually loves zem quite a lot.” Ash perked at the explanation, the blood settling in her face and bringing her back to a normal and more human color. “She’s quite fond of zem.”
“…I suppose I could get her a teddy bear.” Ash pondered, wondering where she would have to go to get one.
“But Ash, you-ah ARE her teddy bear-aru.” XiaoXiao pointed out, and impish grin on her lips. Ash kicked at her from under the table, earning a small yelp. “Aiyaa! Do not get-ah pissed, I see how you srink off at night-aru.”
“Shove off, you.” Ash pouted. “Now where the hell am I going to find a damn bear on the day of Valentine’s?” she pondered. “…I reckon I could make it.” Genevieve clapped her hands together happily.
“Fantastique!” she said happily. “Allow moi to instruct you!” Ash smiled nervously at the excited French girl.”Quoi?” she asked cutely.
“Er…no, that’s alright.” Ash said. “I’d rather make it myself. It’ll mean more, y’know?”
‘It can’t be that hard to make something bear-shaped…I’ve got buttons, and…pillow stuffing.’
Ash dipped her head low as she pulled out her phone. “I’ll tell her to meet me on campus, at the grounds where the clubs have picnics.” She said, sending a text message. “That should give me time to finish it while she’s still in class.” With a smile and a wave, Ash excused herself from her friends. “I’ll catch you lot later, I’ve got a bit of ‘homework’ to do…”
Ash sat cross-legged in her room on her bed, her brow furrowed in concentration with her tongue sticking out of the side of her tight mouth. “Nearly…done…” she pulled the needle through, holding the large yellow button eye in place; adjacent to a white button. Around her were various bits of material she had taken from a brown shirt she no longer cared for, and had cut out a crooked shape that was meant to be a bear. “Alright. All that’s left is to stuff it…can’t use pillow fluff…” she gathered the large bits from the rest of the shirt and began stuffing them into the open hole she had left in the crotch. As she was starting to sew it shut, a knock on her door had sounded.
“Can I be comingk in?”
“Come on in, Svet.”
Svetlana appeared in the doorway and shut it behind her, grinning like a fox at the sight of finding the determined girl hard at work on her home project. “Genevieve had told me your planningk of the bear makingk. How is it goingk so far?” she asked, seating herself on the corner of Ash’s bed. “He looks sick.” Ash pulled the needle high in the air and bit at the slack of the thread, promptly tying and knotting it as close as she could go.
“He’s not sick,” she corrected, a small amount of irritation in her tone. “He’s just happy! See, I drew a smile on his face, right there.” She pointed, trying to defend her horrible sewing job. Svetlana let out an amused laugh as she took the small creation into her hands. “Ey!”
“This is just so darlingk!” she squealed. Ash threw the needle on her bedside drawer and pounced on Svetlana to retrieve the homemade teddy bear. “His eyes are of different color, ah ha ha ha!”
“Give it here, then!” she demanded, her arm flailing for it. “If you’re just going to make fun of it!” Svetlana tricked Ash into a one-armed hug as she gave her back the bear. “THANK you…”
“She will love it, I am sure.” She smiled, getting off of the bed. “Will YOU be ready? Gretchen will be comingk back soon.” Ash shook her head, putting the sewing kit back together.
“Nah, I told her to meet me on campus after she got out.” Ash looked at her progress, adding a laced bow around its stout and poorly cut-out neck. Svetlana wrinkled her nose in confusion and looked at the time on her phone.
“Then, she has been waitingk for you for ten minutes now.”
“WHAT?!” Ash yelled. “No, she can’t be out yet. It’s not time, she’s still--“
“—is waitingk.” Svetlana giggled. “You are to be runningk very late, leetle girl.” She turned the screen of her phone out to show Ash the current time. “Her class is out, had she been walkingk back, she would just be gettingk here now.” Ash slapped at her forehead, cursing her own stupidity.
“Crikey, I fucking didn’t even think about that!” she leapt off of her bed and nearly dove into her closet for a change of clothes. “I’m supposed to be meeting her there—look at me, in my ruddy underwear like I have all the time in the god damned world!” Svetlana crossed her arms, amused by Ash’s mild hysterics in trying to find a decent pair of jeans.
“Well, it would be savingk time, da?”
“What?” Ash asked, pulling on her jeans with one arm as she ripped a teal plaid shirt off of a hanger to put on over the sleeveless shirt she was working in. “Svet, today isn’t about that!” she exclaimed with a blush. “Geez, what is it with you and Xiao butting in on our alone time anyway, ey?” Ash focused on buttoning up her plaid shirt correctly, the collar folded in on one side. Svetlana chuckled as she made her way to the door.
“Is today not Valentine’s?” she asked. “Celebratingk the day of ‘love and no pants’?”
“That’s love and ROMANCE.” Ash corrected, laughing out loud. Svetlana shrugged, opening the door for Ash.
“Same thingk.” She said, holding the door. “Be sure to be sweepingk her off street, leetle Siegfried!” Ash tucked the bear into her backpack and readjusted her goggles with a confused smile.
“I think you mean ‘feet’,” she said, stopping in the doorway. “And what do you mean? Who’s Siegfried?” she asked, curious. Svetlana gave a small push on her back, motioning for her to hurry and that she was on a time crunch.
“You are,” she grinned mischievously. “And she is your Brünhilde!” Ash stared blankly at the amused Russian girl towering over her. “Now go! You are to be runningk like the dickens now!” she shoved Ash toward the stairs, not giving her a chance to ask any further questions.
‘I’ll never understand Svet’s humor…’
Ash stepped lively toward the campus grounds, the cool grass cushioned and soft beneath her dirty sneakers. As she walked, she saw other couples were occupying the sunny yet chilly day; enjoying the college festivities and exchanging small gifts and tokens of admiration. She noticed a fellow student gushing over a dazzling new necklace her boyfriend had presented to her, throwing her arms out and around him in a tight and appreciative hug. On the other side was a young man presenting a small candy bouquet of chocolate roses to a very ecstatic girl. Ash bit her lip nervously as she focused on looking for Gretchen.
‘Damn…the more I look at it, the more I’m not so sure this bear idea was a good one…it’s body is even crooked! God, who am I fooling, that fucking thing is uglier than sin!’
Growing more nervous and ashamed of her gift, Ash slowly trotted forward and spotted Gretchen below a tree; conversing with other equally tall and beautiful classmates. As she drew closer, Ash became unsure of whether or not to approach the group of girls, hearing them laugh and talk about the boys in their class. She did not want to break up the friendly banter between the women, as she thought it awkward with herself looking the way she did. Surely she could not measure up, her appearance would only make her stand out more should she choose to stand any closer to the model-material ladies.
‘No one would ever guess that one of those girls is my girlfriend…it must look so strange when we stand and walk next to one another…’
“Eh?” Ash blinked and looked at the group of girls, all of which were staring at her curiously. Except for Gretchen, who only smiled warmly at her. “Oh.” She forced herself not to blush and tightened her lips, trying to pass of an expectant smile. “Er..G’day.” she greeted nervously. A brunette stepped forward, touching Gretchen on her elbow.
“We won’t keep you,” she began, winking at Ash. “But keep me posted, okay?”
“Ja, Ich will update you.” She nodded, waving off her friends. Ash stuck her thumbs into her front jean pockets, gripping the denim as to hold on to it. Gretchen turned to Ash, fixing her crooked shirt collar. “Und where have you been, mein liebe?” she asked. Ash took Gretchen by the hand and guided her to a different part of the courtyard to have a seat in the grass.
“I uh, lost track of time. I’m sorry, but I got here as fast as I could!” she defended breathlessly, still thinking of opting out on giving Gretchen her home project. Upon finding a spot to take a seat, Ash sat herself down before motioning for Gretchen to sit with her. Confused, Gretchen lowered herself gracefully onto the ground and sat directly in front of Ash, drawing her legs up and crossing them neatly.
“Is everything alright?” Gretchen asked, her pale features falling into subtle concern for Ash’s awkward body language. “Was there something you cared to discuss?” Ash bit the side of her lip as she carefully brought her backpack around and into her lap.
‘This is it…’
“So, um…as you know,” Ash began slowly, pulling in the zipper of her backpack. “It’s Valentine’s Day.” Gretchen looked from the top of her back pack, to Ash’s eyes; smiling curiously. “And well, I made you something.” She grabbed for the bear sitting at the bottom of her bag and pulled it out reluctantly, her face a light shade of pink; embarrassed by the amateur attempt of making anything remotely similar to an actual bear. Gretchen stared at it with a straight face as she took it into her own hands, turning it this way and that; examining the stitching and marker-drawn face. With a crooked smile and a furrowed brow, Gretchen looked into Ash’s eyes. “I know! I know, it was incredibly last minute, and I forgot what today was, and I wasn’t sure what to get you—not that I don’t know what you LIKE, just that I knew you wouldn’t like things like chocolate—it’s not GERMAN chocolate, so it’s not the same as you’re used to, a-and then I wasn’t sure what flowers you liked or if you even like them at all! B-but if you do, we can just toss THAT and get you something you like.” She explained, out of breath and looking at the top of her bag, embarrassed. “That is…IF you want to.”
“And, why would I want to ‘toss’ this?” Gretchen asked, greatly amused by Ash’s flustered state. Still holding the lop-sided bear, she gave it a light squeeze before holding it up to her face; hugging it for a moment. “I love it.” Ash looked up in disbelief, feeling a sense of relief and surprise.
“You…do?” she blinked. “But it’s ugly. Look at it, I should have let Gen help me with it…”
“The fact that you made it,” Gretchen began. “is what makes it special. Ich cannot find this in stores.” She clarified, smoothing the t-shirt material teddy bear. “It was very sweet of du.” Ash grinned happily. “Tell me, does it have a name?”
‘A name? What? Do teddy bears usually come with names? Ok, um….uh…’
“Yes…” Ash said slowly, looking at the poor excuse for a teddy bear. “His name is, um…Siegfried.” She answered, recalling what her and Svetlana spoke briefly about before making her mad dash outside. Gretchen’s eyebrows rose at the name, both surprised and mildly impressed.
“Siegfried?” she repeated, purposely with her accent. She held up the bear and looked at it, giving a short laugh. “Well, Ich love it very much.”
“Well, I’m glad.” She beamed. Gretchen put the teddy bear in her lap and leaned forward, removing Ash’s goggles. “Eh?” Ash kept still while she pulled them off and rested them across Ash’s thigh. At the faint brushing of her girlfriend’s hand on her denim clad inner thigh, she held her breath; keeping her eyes on the hand that held them there. The corners of Gretchen’s pale pink lips turned upward slowly before softly biting her lip, slipping into thought. Ash’s eyes moved slowly up the hand and along the arm, falling on Gretchen’s coy smile as she released her bottom lip from the gentle bite.
“There is this Amerikanische tradition on this day,” she informed. “That something is ‘sealed mit ein kiss’.” Ash grinned boyishly at that, her head dipping momentarily and looking across the courtyard.
“Yeah, I’ve…I’ve heard of that one, too.” She said after taking a breath. “It’s like putting the wax stamp on a promise of sorts.” She smirked, looking back into Gretchen’s eyes, who listened intently. “Promises, dares…stuff like that.”
“Then, Ich dare you to love me.” Gretchen said in a low voice, moving in closer to Ash whose eyes dropped to the grinning mouth in her wake. “As much as I love du.” Like a pulling magnetic force, Ash felt herself draw closer to the satin-smooth lips that spoke to her.
“I promise.” She breathed, cupping the side of her girlfriend’s face and then positioning it in just the crook of her neck; her thumb rubbing behind the shell of her ear. Ash moved in the rest of the way and captured Gretchen’s lips in her own. The softness and delicacy of the kiss would never cease to send Ash’s brain into a whirlwind of dizzying happiness.