YEAR IN THE LIFE
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year
New Year's Day.
It symbolized a lot of different things for different people. To Xander it meant, well, everything.
No matter how hard Xander thought about his first year with Spike, he couldn't really say for sure when the whole thing had started. It wasn't the day Spike moved in with him. They'd barely even been friends then. It wasn't the night they'd first gotten drunk together and passed out on the living room floor. And it definitely wasn't the first morning they'd woken up in the same bed together, either.
No. The whole thing had just... happened.
Morning kisses, sleepy snuggles (though neither would admit to those aloud), and one day Xander was on his way to the office with a PB&J sandwich ala Spike tucked in his briefcase. Not that their life had been completely filled with homey domesticity, not with both of them working for Angel at Wolfram & Hart, but those moments had sneaked in and before they knew it, they'd become a couple.
Xander thought maybe it had all started with Spike's birthday.
He'd gotten the idea during one of Angel's weekly staff meetings. The sunlight was slanting in and creating a weird halo around Spike's bleached head. Xander was going to break up the monotony with one of his usual jokes, but paused when he saw the look on Spike's face.
It was a look Xander had never seen before, a weird mix of pain and pleasure. It was an expression he'd see often, after, but not before they eventually tumbled into bed together. And it fascinated him.
That night he started drawing up plans for a skylight in their game room. Xander's house wasn't huge, but it was big enough for a roommate with plenty of recreational space left over. He got Wesley to requisition the spelled glass for him and got Angel to take Spike out for an extended night of demon hunting. Then he called in a few favors.
When Xander dragged him into the room the next day, Spike went so still Xander had suddenly been afraid he'd gotten it all wrong.
Then he saw that look, and something inside him shifted.
Spike spent most of his days in the game room after that. And Xander usually went straight there when he got home, knowing that Spike liked to watch as day faded into night. It wasn't the best place for gazing at the sunset, given that the skylight didn't really have a western facing view, but Xander could almost always catch Spike there anyway. About a month after Xander had installed the skylight he found Spike lying out atop their pool table, basking in evening twilight.
"You know, the bed would probably be more comfortable," Xander said, climbing up next to him.
"Like it here." Spike mumbled, scooting in closer, his eyes still watching the stars appear one by one through the clear glass.
Xander knew that Spike could never resist the warmth of his body. And he liked being able to provide it, he didn't try too hard to figure out why. They'd only been sleeping together for about a week by then, but it felt a lot longer, especially when they were lying side by side like that.
It had always felt right, even from the very first night.
Xander would always remember their first time. It had been sort of frantic, at least Xander had felt that way. Spike had almost died that night. Another fucking prophecy, another damn apocalypse.
And why was it always midnight?
Giles had tried to explain it to him once. Something about all the forces colliding when one day became the next, or something. Xander never really paid all that much attention when Giles was in Watcher mode. But he knew enough to realize that midnight on the eve of a full moon couldn't mean anything good.
And he'd been right.
Xander had almost thrown up when he'd found Spike. The demon had thrown him across the clearing and into the thick trunk of an oak tree that must've been five hundred years old, at least. He'd heard the sickening thunk and had run as fast as he could. He hadn't been prepared for all the blood. Hadn't realized the demon had gored Spike nearly inside out before tossing him away like yesterday's trash.
It had taken Angel and the others nearly twenty minutes to finally defeat the Phrynge, and Wesley another fifteen before they finally cast a spell to heal most of Spike's injuries. Xander was pretty sure Spike would have been so much dust if Wesley hadn't been there.
Xander found that he couldn't stop touching Spike, couldn't keep his hands from moving restlessly over Spike's body. His arms, his chest, his legs. Somehow, Xander shifted from reassuring himself that Spike was still undead to something more. Something Xander had been thinking about for a while, but had been too afraid to act on.
But the fear of losing Spike overrode all that. And suddenly they were kissing, and Xander's hands were finding all the places that made Spike moan in the really good way. Sounds that helped drown out the groans of pain that were still ringing in Xander's ear from earlier.
Xander was careful not to hurt Spike further, but he couldn't help the desperation in his kisses.
"'S all right," Spike mumbled. "'M all right."
Xander didn't think he said the words 'Thank God' aloud, but he sure as hell thought them.
In cups of coffee
Xander had woken the next morning alone in bed. He'd assumed that Spike had sneaked away in the middle of the night, and he remembered being disappointed and a little angry. By the time he'd found his pants and made himself decent, he'd been fuming.
Xander was the one who was supposed to freak out. He was the one who'd never been with a guy before, the one who had all sorts of issues with gay sex and vampires. But he hadn't. He hadn't freaked out, or even had any regrets. Hell, he'd been smiling when he woke, that is until he realized he was alone.
He'd stormed out of his room and been halfway down the hall toward Spike's bedroom when he smelled it. The scent was familiar and comforting and warm, and Xander found himself following his nose to the kitchen.
"Morning, luv," Spike said, dropping a kiss on Xander's jaw as he handed him a cup of fresh coffee. The microwave dinged and Xander watched as Spike pulled out a mug of warmed blood.
That was when Xander finally had his freak out.
Of course, it hadn't lasted. And their mornings became routine. Coffee and blood, breakfast and kisses.
And Xander never regretted a moment.
Xander's mother used to say that you had to give an inch to gain one. Of course, Xander had grown up watching his mother give and give and give and his father take and take and take. So Xander had never really had too much faith in the saying.
The first time they'd argued Xander had stubbornly stuck to his side for days. Spike had gone sullen and quiet and their bed had been cold and lonely. They'd fought over Buffy, of all things. Xander knew that part of him was still jealous, that he wanted to do everything in his power to keep Spike and Buffy away from each other. He knew it was irrational, but Spike should have understood how he felt. At least, Xander thought so.
It had been Thanksgiving, and Dawn had contacted them both and invited them out to England for the holiday which Xander found slightly ironic. But Spike had wanted to go, and Xander had, too. Sort of.
After three days of sleeping alone and getting the cold shoulder, Xander finally found his way to Spike's bedroom. "I'm sorry," he said, shuffling his feet a little. "I just... do you still love her?"
"Yeah," Spike said wearily, sitting up in bed. "Always gonna be a part of me that will. Still love Dru, too. Can't help that, Xan."
"Oh." Xander felt all the air whoosh out of his lungs.
"But I'm not in love with them. And neither one of them is mine. They never really were," Spike said the words softly, his hands linking together in front of him as he looked up to meet Xander's eye. "Not... not the way you are, luv."
Xander wanted to believe it. They'd been sleeping together for months, but neither one of them had admitted to actual feelings yet. Xander wanted to believe in Spike, in their relationship, in his mother's old saying.
"Okay." So he did.
It was 5,442 miles from L.A. to London, Xander had looked it up. He was nervous about seeing the gang again, above and beyond how he felt about having Spike and Buffy in the same room together.
He wasn't the same Xander anymore. Hadn't been, not since Caleb.
He spent the first few minutes of their flight fidgeting with his eye patch until Spike finally had enough. He grabbed Xander's hand and entwined their fingers, all without saying a word. Xander liked that about him, about them, the fact that they didn't need to talk everything to death. Spike knew he was nervous. Xander knew Spike knew and he wasn't against taking what comfort he could.
"'Course you are." But Spike didn't let go, not for 5,442 miles.
Xander loved Spike, though he hadn't yet admitted it aloud. He loved how Spike understood him. How he made Xander laugh. Made him forget... the things he didn't like to remember. He loved that Spike took care of him. But he really loved that Spike let Xander take care of him, with warm blood and sleepy snuggles and all the things that Spike never asked for but Xander knew he needed.
It was the first time in a long time that Xander felt needed. Buffy had never needed him, not really, and neither had Willow. Xander was man enough to admit that he was the one that had needed them both. And he'd been a little lost, maybe a lot lost, after he'd made the decision to stay behind when the others had left to rebuild the Watcher's Council.
His friendship with Spike had started with a couple of Monty Python marathons and a few games of pool. Xander had laughed, and let himself forget that he was alone for the first time in years. And by the time he remembered, he realized that it wasn't true anymore.
It wasn't that they never fought, because they did. They always had. They argued over blood-encrusted mugs and empty pizza boxes. They had age-old debates on who would win in a superhero deathmatch between Spiderman and Batman, because they both agreed on principal that Superman could beat both their butts. And fought over who should have control over the remote.
But none of it mattered.
Because every time they really fought, they made up.
They made up with hard kisses and soft touches, with whispered words and hungry groans. Spike always treated Xander like he was something special, touched him like it was some kind of privilege. And it was that, more than anything else, that always earned Xander's forgiveness when necessary.
And it was that, more than anything else, that made Xander fall in love with him.
How do you measure a year in the life?
They'd moved in together sometime in January. It wasn't the first, and it wasn't the thirty-first, Xander couldn't even say what day it was with any certainty. He'd bought the house a few months before and it had taken that long for Angel to convince him to let Spike move in.
Almost a year of living together, a year of friendship, laughter, and love.
"Morning, Xan." Spike rolled over to plant a kiss on Xander's jaw. It was something he did every morning. Xander didn't know the significance, except that he did remember that first kiss, the morning of his freak out. And maybe Spike did, too. Whatever Spike's reason, it always made Xander smile.
"Happy New Year." Xander said, smiling ruefully. Another prophecy had kept them from celebrating the previous night, but Xander didn't doubt that they'd make up for it.
"Happy Anniversary, Xan." Spike's kiss was warm and deep, and left Xander feeling a little dazed.
"It's not our anniversary." He blinked, confused.
"It could be." Spike's hand wandered down to Xander's groin, squeezing his morning erection through the thin fabric of his shorts.
"Hmm?" Xander couldn't help thrusting forward, groaning a little when Spike dipped between the slit of his boxers and wrapped cool fingers around his cock.
"I said, 'It could be.'" Spike's tongue was in his ear, and somehow Xander's shorts had disappeared completely. "We have to pick some day, yeah?"
"I... I guess so." Xander was finding it difficult to concentrate. Spike was stretching him, preparing him, his fingers long and slippery and so, so good. "I didn't think it mattered. I mean, I didn't think you were an anniversary kind of guy." Xander added quickly when he felt Spike stiffen beside him.
Spike pulled his fingers free, shrugging. "It matters," Spike murmured the words in his ear as he slid himself, one inch at a time, into Xander's willing body. "We matter."
Then Spike was moving and Xander was thrusting in counterpoint, their mouths pressed hungrily together. It was slow and warm and better than anything Xander had ever had with anyone else. Better than Xander had ever thought he'd have.
And when Xander came it was to the sight of the expression that had first captured his attention. A mixture of pain and pleasure and so much need that it took Xander's breath away.
Heat bloomed in Xander's chest. He'd heard the words, whether Spike had meant to say them or not. Xander kissed him, the familiar taste of Spike turning heat into liquid fire.
"I love you, too." Xander knew Spike heard when his requisite leer turned into a soft grin, the usually harsh lines of his cheeks pinking with warmth. "Anniversary, huh?"
"I guess New Year's as good a day as any."
"New beginnings," Spike said, kissing Xander again.
"New beginnings." Xander agreed.