"Hm." Gianna bent closer to the young plants, studying their petals for damage. "Not this one..." she moved on to the next row. You would think that after nearly two hours Gianna would have been done. She couldn't explain it, but ever since finding that so-called magic flower in the forest Gianna's home had felt... empty.
"Why are we looking at plants again?" Brennan asked. "They're just going to die. The last time you planted anything, it withered away."
"The forest plant's lonely," Gianna said. She lightly tapped a plant with peach-colored flowers. "What do you think about this one? The little card thing says its low maintenance. I can do low maintenance."
"It's a half-dead flower." Brennan stared at her. "You aren't even low maintenance."
"Which works out if you think about it," Gianna said. "I'm high maintenance so I'm going to be focusing on me. I don't need something that's going to take a lot of my time. And the flower's doing better now, actually." She added absently.
Brennan continued to stare at her. "I'm worried about you. I really am."
"Why?" Gianna turned to him then. "Do I look weird?"
"You're buying plants!" He flailed his arms at the plant rack.
"Just the one!" Gianna argued. "Singular! I've bought a plant before."
"And it died. And was a cactus!" Brennan waved his arms about again. "This is weird!"
"Because it was so much more high-maintenance than I expected!" Gianna argued. "I put it in the window so it could get some sun, but apparently being next to the air conditioner was a bad thing! As was forgetting to water it for most of the year!"
"It was a cactus. It can live in a desert. Leave the fern alone." Brennan moved forward quickly and caught her hand before she could pick up a lovely fern in a blue pot.
Gianna looked from her hand to Brennan's face. They stared at each other for a few seconds. "If you wanted to hold my hand you just had to say so," Gianna said finally.
"Gianna. I think you've got some kind of forest fever." Brennan let go of her hand. "Like you ... hate nature as much as I do."
"I still hate nature," Gianna assured him. "I'm just also maybe a little curious how well a yellow flower would look next to the weirdo blue one at home."
Brennan stared at her. "I think you're losing it."
Gianna frowned. Brennan had a tendency to panic over a lot of things, sure, but he wasn't prone to bandy about words like "you're losing it," and not just with her. Gianna was well aware how prickly she was as a person. She was also keenly aware of how tuned-in to her Brennan was. "Maybe there is something off," she offered haltingly.
"You're buying a plant! Of course, there's something off! You can't even keep a goldfish alive," Brennan said. He gestured wildly at the plant whose leaves she was petting.
Gianna jerked her hands away from the plant. "Okay, maybe I should leave."
"You think?" Brennan carefully guided her out of the store. "I've known you since we were kids and you've never once gone on a plant buying spree."
"A spree involves actually purchases," Gianna nit-picked. She caught herself glancing back at the store and slapped her cheek. "I think I'm really losing it..."
Brennan patted her on the head. "Maybe you got too much sun yesterday?"
"I hosted the rally run!" Gianna said, pointing vigorously at Brennan. "That has to be it!"
Brennan nodded along. "Must be. Because this is ..." He gestured at her face. "Not you."
"Oh my God." Gianna gently patted her face. "Is something wrong with my make-up?"
Brennan laughed. "You're gorgeous as always. Let's get out of this dreadful place."
"Onward to the nail salon!" Gianna laughed, looping her arm with Brennan's. "I can't garden with freshly done nails!"
Gianna stood in the middle of some night-blooming flowers, rubbing her arms anxiously. "There's something very wrong with me," she said, her tone both fragile and plaintive. "One minute I was finishing my nighttime routine, the next I'm filling carts with flowers."
"What?" Brennan rubbed his face. "Let me just... get some pants.."
"Please hurry." Gianna shivered in her designer pajama shorts and the fabulous silk sleep shirt Brennan got her for Christmas last year. "I wasn't made for prison."
Brennan arrived in front of the flower shop, peering through the windows. He saw Gianna standing in the middle hugging a plant. "What the -" He went through the front door. "Gianna, what are you doing? How are you even in here?"
"I don't know," Gianna said. She forces herself to put the plant down. "It wasn't hard."
He blinked at her. "Let's... get you out of here..." He froze. "Your fingerprints!" He used the hem of his t-shirt to wipe the counter. "Where did you touch things?"
"I have no idea!" Gianna shook the potted plant in her hands, realizes she has a potted plant in her hands, and shrieked.
"This is not good..." He looked around. It looked less full than before. Maybe Roger took some home. "Let's go. And run, and pray you aren't thrown into the slammer. I dated a cop once. Maybe she can help."
"Hide in my apartment until its safe?" Gianna asked, latching onto Brennan's arm both as a lifeline and a way to not absently grab another plant.
Brennan drags her out to the parking lot. "How did you even get here? I didn't see your car."
"I literally do not know," Gianna said. She takes a deep, shaky breath of the night air. "I was doing my thing before bed then bam I'm in the middle of a freaking plant store!"
They walked past a shopping cart on the way to his car. "Let’s focus on getting you home. Then we'll figure it out."
Gianna let go of Brennan with one arm and snagged the shopping cart as they passed it.
They got to her apartment and when Brennan used his key, he was shocked at what he found. "Gia... why do you have plants...?" The entire living room was stocked with plants.
"I don't," Gianna said, patiently waiting for Brennan to let her in. "You got me out of there before I could steal anything."
"You do..." He stepped aside. "You have a /lot/ of plants."
Gianna felt her jaw drop. "No," she whispered. "No, no, no, this can't be happening." Her apartment looked like it had been ripped out of some gardener's fancy magazine. Gianna swayed a bit, catching herself at the last minute with the doorframe. "This can't be happening," she repeated. "Brennan, pinch me."
Brennan pinched her on the arm. "Apparently you slept walked and stole a ton of plants. I don't know if we can get these all moved... How did you even get these all here?"
"I know I didn't carry them all!" There were entirely too many for that. Gianna rubbed her arm absently. "What's the symptom of a heart attack in women, again?"
"Calm down," he said. He patted her on the arm. "We're not at doom yet. I will call some backup..."
"Back up?" Gianna's voice rose with her panic. "We don't have backup! We literally only get along with each other!"
"We'll call your sister. You're still speaking right?" Brennan got his phone out. "Or... I could call Michi."
"For the most part, yeah." Gianna froze. "Michi?" She couldn't hide the false note in her tone so chose not to look at Brennan. Instead, she ushered him into her apartment and locked the door behind them.
"Yes, Michi. He woke up when I left so he's probably still awake. I could call him and he could help us return your loot," Brennan said.
Something twisted inside. "I didn't realize you were with anyone," Gianna said.
"We haven't really put a label on it." He shrugged. "I'm just surprised you haven't killed me yet." He hit Michi's name on his phone.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Gianna asked. They hadn't put a label on it, but Michi was sleeping over?
"You know because you hate Michi. I figured you'd be all 'how could you' and 'why are you so dumb." He held his phone to his ear.
"Wait, what?" Gianna crinkled her nose. "Why would I... No." She snatched his phone. "Are you screwing Michigan Garter?"
"Hey," he protested. Brennan sighed. "Who else did you think Michi was?"
"It could have been anybody!" Gianna was shaking with rage and hurt and disbelief. "You could have been with anyone," she emphasized. "Why him? Why did you have to choose my nemesis?"
"Because your feud is ridiculous. Competitive napping is ridiculous!" He tried to get his phone from her. "And I like him."
An unexpected knock at the door gave Gianna an excuse to turn away. "Fine." Gianna shoved Brennan's phone at him without looking. She can't begin to put her feelings into words and can't afford to face them. Brennan was with Michigan? Brennan liked Michigan? On the verge of a complete mental breakdown, Gianna whipped the door open.
The bear-man from the forest loomed in the hall outside. He took one look at the woman and knew. "You just had to wake it up," he said, pushing his way inside the home that nature had reclaimed.
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