Emery didn't normally celebrate Valentine's Day. It just didn't go with his vibe. Besides, Valentine's Day was busy, which meant that people were more cheerful, more careless, et cetera, et cetera... a perfect heist planning day. Or heist committing day. Which, you know, when you were the cities greatest (not) supervillain was something to be cherished. It meant that that bastard, Bubble Bath, The Shine Monster, He Who Makes You Slip, Emery's nemesis, hero alias Bathesar, would be on the lookout. Because they'd been through this routine. Many, many times. And it was becoming all too easy for Bathesar to pick out Jimmy UnShut (Emery's villain alias, The Unlocker Of All Things)'s customary coat and chains. That was the one thing about costumes: it made you really stand out.
Emery didn't normally celebrate Valentine's Day... but he normally didn't have many friends either. He had one: Marm. And Marm was awesome. Emery was a completely different person around Marm. Or maybe he wasn't. But Marm was the type of person who went against the grain, who attracted attention, and who could befriend anybody. Marm was magnetic. (Maybe Marm was actually magnetic, like super-powered magnetic, but Emery hadn't asked.) So when Marm told Emery that she'd set him up on a blind date he figured what the hell. He would do it for Marm.
Besides, Marm had payed for everything. And it was expensive. Even evil Emery couldn't disrespect that. Besides, he was getting something out of it. (Marm knew if she payed he'd stick the date through even if it went poorly. Which she didn't think it would, but she took precautions.)
Florian was already at the table when Emery arrived. He was suave. He was always suave. He was the type of person who exuded confidence, which made the sunglasses he wore really, really bad at hiding who he was. Because Florian was the hero. He was Bathesar, and if he always smelled like strawberries because having bubble baths was easy for him than that was no one's fault.
Marm had befriended them separately. She didn't know their secret hero/villain nemesis lives. What she did know is she had two friends, who she cared for dearly, and who seemed to really struggle with getting to know and trust people. So, Marm had figure, why not set them up? Nothing could go wrong there.
Emery stopped when he saw Florian. He didn't stop because of Florian's garish pink suit. He stopped because they knew each other. Neither of them knew exactly when they had figured out each other's secret identities, just that they had. But they'd never had to confront the reality of the situation before.
Florian stood up when he saw Emery. They unconsciously fell into fighting stances.
"Oh," Emery couldn't quite master a good sneer. "It's you."
"I don't want any trouble," Florian held up his hands. "Not today, please. I'm just waiting for someone. You obviously wouldn't frequent this place without a good reason, so how about we agree to leave each other in peace?"
"I could," Emery replied snidely, "but you're at my table."
He pulled out a chair and sat down. Florian looked flabergasted. "No I'm not! A friend booked this table! For me!"
"Sorry, pal, but you'd best be moving on."
Florian leaned menacingly across the table. Emery folded his hands, nonplussed. "I'm not kidding. My friend really did book this table."
"Huhn, so did mine."
And then they realized.
"...I hate to ask," Emery said, "but your friend doesn't happen to be named Marm, does she?"
"...As a matter of fact she does..."
Emery let his forehead hit the table, agitating the silverwear. Florian took the seat across from Emery. He scooted in and rested his forearms on the table in an example of perfect posture. Emery flopped back in his chair and sank down in it. His feet hit Florian's and he pulled them away abruptly.
"You need to leave, you know that? We can't do this. We just can't."
Florian gasped dramatically. "I? Leave? I can't leave, do you know how much Marm must have spent on this? I can't leave! You leave! You're the," he gestured at Emery, "villain."
Emery glowered. "Much as it may surprise you, I don't want to hurt Marm's feelings either."
Florian ground his teeth, "So we're doing this then."
"I guess we are."
They opened their menus with more force than necessary. Harsh silence reigned supreme.
"Blast," Emery slapped his menu back down on the table. "All the dishes are for sharing."
Florian scratched his chin. "That's not the worst thing ever. It's better than having to share a bed."
"Why did your mind go there? Why?"
"I'm just saying, we can easily ask for another plate. Do you know how uncomfortable those foldable baby beds in hotels are? Very uncomfortable. There's no padding, and -"
Emery held up a hand, "I don't want to hear your bedside escapades, please."
Florian sucked on his lip then went back to the menu. He looked back up. "Are you more of a health-food breakfast type of person or a sweet and filling breakfast type of person?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"So I can order our food!"
"I normally just eat cereal," Emery admitted.
"That's sad," Florian said, with no real malice.
"Wh- no it's not! Have you tried Fruit Loops? They're amazing!"
"You like Loops?"
"What's the issue with that?"
"Nothing," Florian looked delighted. "I just never picked you the Loops type." He paused then added. "Jimmy, may I have the Loops."
"No, Bathesar, these are my Loops."
"Which bring us to the real question," said Florian contemplatively. "Milk or cereal in the bowl first?"
"Cereal, obviously," Emery rolled his eyes. "I'm not a barbarian."
Florian furrowed his brows.
"What?" Emery asked suspiciously.
"I just never thought we'd eat cereal the same way."
"It's not like it matters. Eating cereal the same way doesn't end our..." Emery waved his hands. "Nemesising. Battle. Y'know, relationship... thingy."
Florian hunched his shoulders and pulled the menu up again. "Well, I know that, obviously."
"Oh, just get the pancakes!" Emery grabbed the menu out of his hands. "And why do you wear those sunglasses anyway? They're tacky and make you look like a fool."
"Thanks, but I don't care about your opinion."
"Waiter!" Emery screamed. "We'd like some pancakes please!"
Almost immediately Florian clamped a hand over his mouth. Emery bit him. Florian yelped and pulled his hand away.
"Don't touch me, prick," Emery hissed.
"That's not how you order at a nice restaurant that your friend payed a lot of money to reserve a seat at."
Emery put his fist on the table and leaned on it. "Guilt tripping is dirty."
Florian sighed though his nose. "I can't believe I'm here with you," he muttered. "You're so embarrassing."
"I heard that, and I'm not!"
"You are! You have no sense of decorum!"
"I have plenty of decorum! If it wasn't for Marm, I'd be throwing you through that window!"
"Because that's decorum," Florian muttered.
Emery glared, but didn't respond. They sat in stony silence for a while. The waiter arrived with pancakes and really long forks. When they had gone Emery and Florian studied the pancakes.
"Why are the forks so long? There's no way I can feed myself with that," Emery said.
Florian scratched his cheek, "I... don't think you're supposed to." His face reddened. "I think you're supposed to feed me."
Emery's eyes bugged. He looked around the restaurant, then sank his head in his hands, face red. "Fridge, you're right."
Florian began slowly cutting the pancakes. It was a little hard because of the size of the fork. Emery watched him guardedly.
"You're going to be mad if I eat with my hands, aren't you?" he asked dolefully.
Florian clenched his jaw. It really would be the preferable situation. Unfortunately his hero-ness and penchant for order was getting in the way. "Do it for Marm."
"That's just mean."
"Look, I don't like it either, but this is what Marm wanted for us."
"You make Marm sound like god."
"You don't make it sound like you like being her friend."
Emery glowered, then grabbed a long fork and speared some pancake on it. "Open up, prick."
Florian looked about to object, but then resigned and opened his mouth. Emery was tempted to gag him with the pancake but didn't. Florian bit the piece of pancake off the end of the fork and it was the most sensual, embarrassing, thoroughly weird experience of their lives. They stared at each other in abject horror.
"Well it can't get worse than this," Florian said meekly.
"I suppose not," Emery agreed.
They ate the rest of the meal in relative silence, making awkward eye contact whenever they had to feed the other. Neither could remember blushing for a longer period of time.
"You've got a bit of-" Florian gestured at Emery's mouth.
"Hm? Oh thanks." Emery wiped the bit of whip cream away.
They looked down at the plate. It was empty.
"It's not just me, right?" Florian burst out. "You're feeling weird too?"
"Well obviously, I mean I just had to feed you, you're my greatest nemesis, of course this is weird-"
"Oh, good, I guess I worried that-"
"Yeah, ah haha-"
"Can I kiss you?"
Florian slapped his hands over his mouth. Emery had gone pale. Slowly Florian peeled his hands away. "Sorry, I don't know what came over me..."
"You want to kiss me?"
"No! No, I don't, it was just in that moment, I felt so awkward and it seemed... logical? I think I ate something."
"Yeah, you ate pancakes."
"Maybe it had a love potion in it."
"You're not fucking in love with me!" Emery yelled, standing. His chair crashed to the floor. He realized what a scene he was causing and pulled it back up and sat down again. "You're not in love with me," he continued in an intense whisper. "You can't be. We're enemies. You're confused."
"I know!" Florian was clutching his hair like he was having a fit. "But have you ever thought about how we're obsessed with each other? People aren't normally like that!"
"It's completely different!"
"Is it?" Florian pulled off his sunglasses and looked Emery fully in the eye. "Is it?"
"Yes, of course it is! Come on, you're making a scene," Emery pulled Florian out of the restaurant.
"Bill..." Florian protested weakly.
"Marm already payed, dipwad."
Emery pulled Florian across the street and into an alley, where he released him. He ran his hands through his hair before dragging them down his face. "Look, you're obviously losing your mind. I need you to collect it or we're not doing anything else Marm planned for us."
"Maybe we just shouldn't. Maybe we should just quit while we're ahead."
"I'm pulling the Marm card now. Come on, get your shit together."
Florian took a few deep breathes then put his sunglasses back on. "Okay, it's together."
"What else did she have planned?"
"I think she rented one of those boats you can paddle around on the lake," Emery answered, making paddle motions with his hands.
They got the boat without incident. Paddling it was a struggle, as Florian was much stronger and the boat kept turning because of it. By the time they got steering figured out Emery was severely pissed and they only had a bit of time left with the rental. They floated out in the middle of the lake. It wasn't the nicest lake, being human made and the green of goose poop, of which it probably contained a lot. Pink and red petals from an abnormal amount of Valentine's roses floated despondently on top, waiting for their turn to sink.
"Well, this is finally nice," Emery admitted, sighing and stretching his arms.
"Yup." Florian leaned back in his seat so they were both staring at the sky.
"I'm not thinking straight, probably from irritation, but wouldn't it be nice if instead of running over rooftops in our nemesis way we just always battled over which way the paddle boat should turn?"
Florian laughed. "I'm pretty sure Marm won't be paying for a paddle boat again any time soon."
"Pshaawwww," Emery blew his lips. "Of course she would. If she believed it would keep us together."
"She'd catch on. She'd make you pay eventually."
"Fine, be right."
There was a pause. A duck bobbed to the surface of the pond then dived down again.
"When you said 'not thinking straight' was that just a turn of phrase?" Florian asked.
"What is wrong with you today?" Emery snarled, sitting up and rocking the boat. "You keep making everything weird!"
"I'm sorry, Valentine's Day always does this to me!"
Emery huffed and turned away. "It was just a turn of phrase," he said eventually. "But I could see why you'd think it meant ... something else. I'm not... I am..."
"You just wanted me to say that so you didn't have to say anything that would make this date-not-date any weirder, didn't you?" Florian raised an eyebrow.
"Well, yeah, and it's not a piece of information I really want my nemesis to have."
"You're really hung up on that today, aren't you? If it makes you feel better, I'm gay too."
Emery looked aghast. And red. "That does not make me feel better! It makes this worse! So much worse!"
"I'm sorry, I thought you'd like support!"
"Not from you!"
"...It's time we head back," said Florian, and started paddling them in circles. Emery hissed and tried to peddle to straighten the boat. It took a while, but they made it back to shore.
"I think we should give this up," said Emery, wiping his brow.
"She bought us dinner..."
Emery looked at him. Florian lifted his eyebrows and tried to look innocent.
"Argh! Fine!" Emery bellowed. "We'll get dinner! A nice romantic dinner! Everything I ever wanted!"
Florian looped his arm through Emery's and started to drag Emery in the direction of their dinner reservation. Emery unhooked his arm. Florian didn't seem to care.
Dinner was nice. They were able to feed themselves, and maybe it was the low lighting, but Emery began to relax. They both found they could laugh. Maybe that was why dinner lasted a lot longer than they thought. When they were finally outside the door Emery looked at his watch.
"Oh shit it's late!" he said. "I'd better be getting home."
"Not going to invite me over?"
Emery raised an eyebrow at Florian. "Would you invite me to your house?"
"I suppose not."
They stood for a moment.
"I'll be seeing you around, I guess," said Emery.
"Not if I catch you first," Florian smirked.
Emery shuffled his feet. Florian coughed.
"I'll have to be sure to thank Marm!" Emery gave a forced laugh. "Today was a lot more fun than I thought."
"Who knew we could get along, huh?"
Both their smiles were becoming painful around the eyes. They dropped them.
"Can we even go back to normal after this?" Emery asked quietly.
"Do you want to?"
"Why do you make everything about me?" Emery shouted, grabbing Florian's coat. "I asked you a question, that means you answer it! You don't ask me for the answer! That's not how this works!"
"Look, if it's our relationship then we both get a say. That's how relationships work."
Emery growled and mushed his forehead into Florian's chest. "We're nemeses. It's different."
"It doesn't have to be."
Emery looked up at him. He looked almost sad. "Why are you always like this?"
"A good person."
"I'm always a good person. That's my job description."
"No, it's-" Emery shook his head. "No. You're normally a superficial toxically positive human being. Now you're just being... kind."
Florian shrugged, reaching up to remove Emery's hands from his shirt. "I told you, Valentine's Day does weird things to me."
Emery looked at their hands. Florian was still holding his between them, almost unconsciously.
"You are weird," he whispered in a laugh.
Florian smiled, raising his eyebrows and tilting his head. "So, are you going to kiss me now?"
Emery rolled his eyes. "You realize that's going to raise so many future problems, right?"
"Obviously. But gotta do it for Marm, right?" Florian released one of Emery's hands and pumped his fist in the air. "Do it for Maaaarrrrmmm!"
"Fine, I'll kiss you," Emery agreed. He narrowed his eyes. "This is not because I like you though."
"Valentine's Day just does weird stuff to me too!"
"Yeah, sure, I really don't care-"
"Shut up, Florian."
"Shut me up, Emery."
Emery blushed. "That's- I'm supposed to be the one who says stuff like that!"
Emery sighed. "Shut me up, Florian," he whispered, then raised up on his toes. Florian bent down and they met halfway.
They broke apart.
And stared at each other.
"Another?" Florian asked.
"No," Emery huffed, turning red. "Never."
"Alright," Florian started to straighten up. Emery made a face and he stopped.
"...Fine, one more," Emery agreed. "But that's it."
Florian kissed him one more time and then they split up for the night, decidedly not looking back at each other. At least, not when the other was looking. For the most part. They each slept well and left dealing with the weird mess that their relationship had become for the next day.