Disclaimer: I don't own them. I only profit from them in the emotional sense.
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Summary: Xander thinks about the relationship.
Note: It's schmoop. You've been warned. Also, it's unpolished -- I'm rushing it out because I'm going to be traveling and internetless for a bit.
They'd been together seven months.
They'd hidden it, for weeks, before they told.
They'd gotten drunk together, many times, but not so much, these days.
They'd gone dancing, twice, and Spike had been surprised that he could move.
They'd kept up the sniping, because it entertained them.
They'd fought an unending battle over the remote.
They'd worn each other's clothes.
They'd gone swimming at the beach, under a fat, white moon
They'd eaten countless dinners in front of the TV.
They'd backed each other up in public, even when they'd disagreed in private.
They'd patrolled, on their own, and with the others.
They'd finished each other's sentences.
They'd talked with just their eyes.
They'd gone to bad movies, and shouted at the screen.
They'd traded stories.
They'd spoken of their childhoods.
They'd told each other secrets, good and bad.
They'd admitted things.
They'd forgiven things.
They'd surprised each other.
They'd argued about music.
They'd shopped for groceries.
They'd found a butcher who delivered blood.
They'd fucked each other into ecstasy, and exhaustion.
They'd fucked so much, in so many ways, and Spike kept thinking up more.
They'd done vanilla, too, and liked it.
They'd bought a second laptop.
They'd laughed, or eye-rolled, at each other's jokes.
They'd made agreements about not smoking in the house, which were violated.
They'd held hands on the street.
They'd slept in the same bed, wrapped around each other, every night.
They'd bought new shirts for him.
They'd bought some socks for Spike.
They'd hung heavy drapes at all the windows.
They'd learned to read each other's moods.
They'd spent hours, tangled in the sheets, or on the couch, or on the floor, kissing, only kissing. Spike's murmur in his ear: I love you, I love you, I love you.
These were Xander's thoughts, as he sat on the floor, bent over, fixing the toaster, when suddenly, he was jolted upright, startled. He was gripped by an abrupt, unwelcome awareness, an ugly epiphany. It didn't seem possible. But thinking back, he knew it was true. The words.
It made him feel ashamed. It made an ache inside his chest.
He looked at Spike, on the couch, a long, negligent line of blonde, white, black. He was reading an old, cheap paperback, with a lurid cover and a crumbling spine. The book was inches from his face, because he refused to admit he needed glasses. It was one of those things that turned Xander helpless with tenderness.
"Spike," he said.
"Hmm?" Spike answered, vaguely, still reading.
"Spike, listen," he said, more urgently.
Spike let the book fall to his lap, open, his thumb marking his place. His gaze settled on Xander.
Xander felt inexplicably nervous. They were only words, after all. He licked his dry lips.
"Spike. It's just that...well. You know I love you, right?"
Spike's eyebrows lifted, just a little. Xander saw the swallow work its way down the pale length of his throat.
"Wasn't sure." He shrugged. "Thought, maybe."
"Well, I do. I love you."
"All right, then," said Spike. He raised the book and resumed squinting at it.
Xander ducked his head to the toaster, nodding sheepishly to himself, slightly crestfallen. He'd made too much of it. It was no big deal. They were only words.
When he next looked up, the book was back in Spike's lap. He was staring at Xander. His eyes were wide and shining. His face, open, astonished. He was smiling, so bright, that for a moment, it was all Xander could see.
Xander didn't notice that his lips had begun to move. But after a while, he understood that the sound in the room was his own voice. He was saying the words, again, and again, and again, and again, and again.