Winter Susie

Jasmine walked around the contraption with care. There really was no better word for it. Machine was insulting to every machinist that ever was. Device was too generic a term, and it implied cohesion, uniformity. This hodgepodge of metal and plastic had some symmetry, but it bordered more on death machine. She knew that Lorne was incapable of creating something harmful though, so it was definitely a contraption.

“Okay, what the hell am I looking at?” she asked.

“I call it a winter susie,” Lorne replied with a smile, as if no further explanation was necessary.

Ugh, that smile, Jasmine pined. Half magical wonder and half uncomprehending disbelief. That smile was what attracted her. What lay beneath was why she stayed.

Though lately, she felt as if she were knowing him less and less. A look in his eyes had manifested that she hadn’t seen before, a sparkle that she couldn’t name, and when she looked right at it, it scared her. More than a little. She didn’t think she would ever really know him, not all of him, but to unknow him? She wouldn’t have thought it possible before a few days ago. Yet here they were.

“Okay, why?” she prodded his intellectual fugue.

Lorne just shrugged. “Because that’s what it is. Here, let me show you something.” He reached out a hand.

Jasmine took it more out of reflex than interest in his newest toy, but her heart knew she wanted to touch him for as long as she could. Before he outgrew her.

They climbed into the contraption, and he guided her to one of the hydraulic bucket seats. He sat beside her, their shoe toes touching as he activated a few controls nearby.

The fire marched to life before them, kindling into a toasty blaze. The warmth felt good. The winter had been interminable, and Jasmine smiled at the mesmerizing flames. Then her eyes popped in wonder as they started spinning.

“Thermal currents?” she asked, turning to him as they circled the fiery heart.

“I don’t like it when you’re cold,” the stranger who had been her boyfriend responded, and she knew that she would never truly be warm again.

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