Dr. Magnus sat in his office, leaning back in the office chair. Across from him sat Dr. Kensington, flipping through some comic he'd picked up on his last run to town.
"So what should I get her?" he asked, frowning down at his desktop calendar, his eyes alighting on the date.
"What, you mean you haven't gotten her anything yet?" Kensington looked up, eyebrow raising. He'd listened to Magnus circle on and on about this girl he'd been dating, and had grown tired of his constant chattering about it.
"Nope." Magnus' eyes drifted to a couple of magazines in front of him, advertising all kinds of sparkly, heart-themed brick-a-brack. He was bad with gifts. Something just never quite clicked with what people want, and getting it for them. It was an incredible frustration, especially considering who it was supposed to be for.
"Well, why not? You like this girl, right?" Kensington put the comic down, and propped his feet up on the desk. The brightly colored pages landed on the desk, as Kensington settled in for the conversation.
Magnus shifted, his body language agitated. "Love her. We've been dating for a couple years almost." He didn't like talking about her, especially at work. The Foundation had a way of ruining any romantic involvements outside of staff.
Kensington squinted his eyes, "Wait, didn't you just…I thought you came back like seven months ago."
Magnus grunted, "Did."
Silence hung between them, until it was obvious Magnus wasn't going to volunteer anything more. Kensington raised an eyebrow further, "So she's…from wherever the hell you were all this time? Where was that, by the way?" He tried to disguise his interest. Wherever Magnus had gone, he wasn't telling anyone, and for some reason the higher ups were alright with it.
Magnus shifted uncomfortably, and twirled the pen in his right hand a few times, "I've already told you how that went. I was kidnapped by—"
Kensington slashed his hand across the intervening space, "I know you've fed me half a dozen bullshit stories about what happened, but none of it adds up. Goddammit Magnus, I'm your friend, and the only fucking one you've got if your social calendar, and my inbox are any indication. You owe me the truth."
Magnus leaned back, his eyes closing. He pushed the pen idly across his calendar, as he removed his glasses with his free hand. "I know, Kens. And I do owe it to you, I really do. I've told you twice now, and I shouldn't have even told you this much, that it's classified. I shouldn't even acknowledge anything, the only thing I can tell you is that Legends Never—"
Kens threw his hands up, frustrated with the deflection, "Whatever! Jesus Christ, you can quote the Big Bambino all day, doesn't explain how you're not dead. Or the lack of scarring. Or who this girl is—"
Magnus' eyes snapped open, "Hey. She's important to me, and she's not a threat to the Foundation. That's all that matters!" His voice had escalated until by the end it left the office ringing.
Kensington's jaw clenched for a moment. Magnus wasn't usually this tense. Sure, he'd scream at Kensington for various bits of dickery, but this was real anger. This gift thing must be important to him. Kensington tensed further for a minute, considering snapping back, before relaxing. "Alright. Fine. Sorry I asked. So why haven't you gotten anything?"
Magnus sighed heavily, the anger and emotion leaking out him like a balloon, "I'm broke."
Kensington blinked a few times, incredulously. "Wait, that's it? You're broke?"
Magnus turned away, staring out the window of his office, the concrete still drying after last week's containment breach. "I spent all my money."
"Well, no shit, jackass. What did you spend it all on?" His eyes shifted around the office, looking for any obvious nonsense that he could have splurged on. It was still the same, relatively spartan office. A couple of terminals for research, some random rock samples that he claimed were for "Metaphysics Experiments" which obviously hadn't been touched since he put them there.
"Normal stuff. It's not like I went on some crazy Amazon spree." He turned to face Kensington again, his eyes weary. "Sometimes, people just make bad decisions. Rent, insurance, whatever…I'm still on level 2 Researcher pay grade, I'm not exactly raking it in. And there's other expenses I never expected. I don't make the best financial decisions sometimes."
Kensington's mouth quirked up at the corner, "I thought your seventy or whatever years of life would have prepared you for this."
Magnus' eyes rolled, and he waved a hand dismissively, "Oh please, we both know that story was nonsense. I'm turning 29 this year, and you know it. Not that you'll remember the day."
Kensington grinned, turning to face the desk, "I only remember important days. So what are you gonna do, do you have any money at all?"
Magnus grimaced, "Nothing worth mentioning. We get paid the day after."
"So you're going to be the literal worst boyfriend ever on Valentine's Day?"
Magnus stood, shaking his head. "Apparently. At least I'm paid up for lunch on my cafeteria card till Wednesday. Maybe they'll have something decent to eat. Maybe we can think of something together. Or they've got some dried macaroni I can glue to a piece of construction paper."
Kensington stood with him, his eyes locked with Magnus', "Magnus. Michael. Forget gifts. They're just things. What proves you care is what you do. So do something for her, not for the holiday."
Magnus stood transfixed. Kensington rarely used his given name, and never in a context like this, "What's that supposed to mean?"
Kensington snapped his fingers, "Remember that letter you wrote Dr. Rights?"
Magnus' eyes went a bit distant, the maelstrom of pain and destruction surrounding the days just after his apparent death flashing before his eyes. His voice croaked out, strained, "Yes."
Kensington pointed at him, shaking a finger. "Rights slapped an O5 for that letter, and spent the next year getting us all the memetic counter agent. So write something. You're decent at that. Or at least decent at pissing off women with it. That or your existence pisses them off, which is more likely." He started to slip out the door as Magnus processed what he said.
"I…she what? I didn't realize—" His eyes went distant once more, remembering the days before everything happened. He hadn't seen Rights in a long time. He began to reminisce, before Kensington's last statement finally passed through his brain,"Hey, wait, you fucker, I do NOT PISS WOMEN OFF BY EXISTING," He charged after Kensington, stomping in to the hallway after a quickly fleeing Kensington, "GET BACK HERE YOU LITTLE SHIT."