Operation: Us

Well, this doesn't just suck; this inhales vigorously.

I stare at the photographs laid out before me on my desk and I just can't get past it. They all, each and every one of them, lack something, something vital and inspiring and Gianni. I look from the bedhead photo to the impressive intellect photo, then from the hero photo to the geek photo to the should-be-grand-finale photo of him dressed in cheesy Shakespearian-wanna-be duds and I sigh.

Five photos of my lover. That's not too much to ask for, is it? I mean, I guess they look all right. I can identify Gianni clearly but there's something… missing.

"Lasca?"

I glance up. I don't even try to hide the photos at the sound of his voice. I've failed to document him accurately. In these images, he's just a guy. In these images, there's no trace of his soul, which I see so clearly whenever I look at him. Even now.

He frowns at me worriedly. I guess he has every right to be worried. He'd knocked on my office door and I hadn't leapt out of my seat to race him to the cab. Tonight is Pizza Night at my favorite pizzeria. It is generally a blissfully orgasmic experience for my taste buds. My lack of enthusiasm is probably making him think I've been abducted by aliens and replaced by a vegan lookalike.

"What is this?" he asks, not sounding the least bit surprised to see images of himself scattered across my mountain of a messy desk.

"A failed documentary," I answer, coming clean. "They're you, but not the you that I see."

He reaches out and, grasping the arms of my rickety office chair, swivels me squeakily around to face him. "Maybe because you forgot something?"

"Like what?"

He smiles slowly, one corner of his mouth lifting and stretching. "Like the fact that there's no me without you."

They're not just empty words. I know this, but I still don't get what it is he's trying to tell me.

"Come on," he urges. "I'll show you."

Thirty minutes later, I regard the tiny structure sitting in the shadows of Fisherman's Wharf with considerable doubt. "A photo booth?"

"You see a photo booth. I see—" He glances at me over his shoulder as he feeds quarters into the thing. "—a potential documentary."

The booth light clicks on just as my own light bulb blinks to life. When Gianni drags me inside, I let him. Ten minutes, some giggling and a bruised knee later, I'm holding five photos, arranged in a strip, in my hands. I stare at them in utter and unabashed fascination. These. These are the photos I'd wanted of Gianni.

I glance at the first of the series, during which Gianni has sat me on his lap (causing the bruised knee when I'd banged it into the side of the booth). I'm grinning maniacally and Gianni looks totally flummoxed as I ruffle his hair with my fingers.

In the next, I've just finished asking him where I can find the undomesticated ungulate district. He looks as if he's seriously considering the question.

The third shows him holding my hand, pressing his lips against my knuckles. (I'd grinned so wide I think I've permanently lost the ability to frown.) No doubt he thinks he's softening the blow when he confesses that he has no idea where I can find wild horses in this town, but that's okay.

He kisses me in the next shot, his hands framing my face and my fingers gripping the lapels of his jacket. And then, in the final frame, he presses his forehead to mine. His eyes are closed and mine are half-lidded with lust and love and a million other things that, in combination, are making him glow.

Yes, these are the photos I'd wanted. This is the man I see. And Gianni had been right: when I'd taken myself out of the equation, he'd simply looked… normal and ordinary when I know he isn't. In short, I cannot hope to make an accurate documentary of my lover if it does not include us.

"Thank you," I whisper, tears stinging my eyes.

He presses a kiss to my temple and whispers, "You create me."

And really, there is no better gift in the entire universe. I lean into his warmth, sighing, heart melting, stomach growling.

Oh, right. Pizza.

Gianni laughs and then he ushers me back into the waiting taxi. There's a pizza out there that's calling to me. Gianni knows this and he knows me; he knows us.

I gaze at the strip of five photos as I reach for his hand. Us. Now that's a project I could work up some enthusiasm for. I wonder how many rolls of film I'll need to document it properly. With any luck, a lifetime's worth.

. . . . .

THE END

Notes: Check out my website for more Lasca and Gianni goodies (including fanart)! Thanks for reading! Reviews are very welcome.