Rating: PG-13 (death)
Word Count: 100x12
Disclaimer: Not mine
Warnings: Kitten death. I'm very sorry. I was in a bad mood, I killed kittens. Imaginary, virtual kittens. It was a thing. I'm sorry. Canon has no place here, though I'd envision this in season five or six.
This is just... twelve months of Xander's life. With kittens. And Spike.
This Time of Year
January seems like the right time to make resolutions, so Xander makes one. No more demon magnet. It’s good as resolutions go because it’s concise, easy to understand, and so not his fault if he fails. Not that he’s anticipating failure. In fact, Xander’s ready and willing to make small to medium sized sacrifices to ensure that nothing wicked his way comes. Still, it’s good to have the cushion.
He meets a nice girl halfway through the month but gets a nasty surprise during the goodnight kiss. He takes a mulligan because it’s still January, and he figures it’s allowed.
February’s not the best month to be Xander, friend of women. It’s a minefield of will he, won’t he drama, and Xander’s never the he in question. Not that he’d want to be. Long over that. Plus, Willow’s hes are shes now, and Xander’s definitely not a lesbian. Other than that, all he knows for certain is that every girl he meets could be a demon. He doesn’t date.
Valentine’s Day itself doesn’t suck, though. There are plenty of girl hugs to go around, cards from Buffy and Willow, and an unexpected gift wrapped and waiting at his front door.
March isn’t the best time to name a cat, because even in sunny California, the days are bleak. It’s just not cat naming weather. Xander wonders aloud about late winter cat sale and adoption rates. It’s not like the Nameless Wonder is going to tell him, and all Xander knows is that he showed up wrapped in red paper with a TO tag, but no FROM. It’s a mystery for obvious reasons, but Xander’s not sure whether he’s more interested in knowing who likes him enough to get him a present or who in their right mind wraps a cat.
April’s a good month for a funeral, Xander discovers, because you can let the rain soak your hair and run down your face and pretend you’re not crying.
He runs his hand over the smooth lid of the box, lowers it into the muddy earth. He didn’t cry until he realized he had nothing to carve on top but Nameless; now he doesn’t think he can stop. Dying young and nameless on the Hellmouth, innocent, hits close to home.
He finally names the cat as he pats the last shovelful of earth in place: Jesse. Two Jesses he’s failed, now.
May’s not the best month to be a Scooby on the Hellmouth. It’s apocalypse season, and that usually means hellgods, crazy robo-demons, or something equally disturbing.
This year, it’s kittens.
Xander’s bringing up the rear when they bust into a warehouse downtown to break up a demon run breeding operation. It would be funny—possibly even cute—if it wasn’t so stupid. And if the kittens weren’t poker currency. And food. And everywhere.
Xander’s apartment resembles the set from “The Trouble With Tribbles” and he starts answering the phone, “Xander’s house of health code violations, how may I help you?”
Xander figures out the hard way that June, as the end of the fiscal year at the Magic Box, is a good time to make himself scarce. He also learns—loudly—that the care and feeding of an ungodly number of kittens is not a tax deduction.
He’s down to two, himself, and he’s hoping the guy knocking on his door will bring that figure to a nice round zero. He just can’t bring himself to keep them.
Kittens in hand, he opens the door.
It’s a moral dilemma.
He pauses, remembers Jesse, and hands the kittens off to Spike.
July’s a busy month in the construction business, and visiting Spike’s crypt every night after work isn’t exactly convenient.
Xander does it anyway, though. He has kitten guilt. Once a day, he confirms that they’re still present and accounted for—and not in a currency way—and he reminds himself that it’s him, not Spike, who’s the confirmed kitten killer. They’re better off. Probably.
By the middle of the month, the post-supervision of the interior crew dinner and blood and cat treats are routine.
Toward the end of the month, Spike asks Xander how his day was. Xander tells him.
August, Xander decides, is a good month to learn the subtle art of bribery.
Because it’s hot.
It’s actually hotter than hot, and Xander would much rather spend his evenings in an air conditioned apartment than a stuffy crypt, but he doesn’t want to give up dinners with his boys.
Bones and Scotty. Or, as Spike calls them, Hey You and What’s His Face.
Turns out bribery’s an easy game, but when Spike ends up with Xander’s spare key, a semi-permanent spot on the couch, and all the blood he can eat, Xander decides it’s quite possible that Spike cheats.
September is a very bad month for a funeral, Xander realizes, because all he can do is stand beside the moonlit hole, watching Spike try not to cry.
There are names to carve on the box this time, but that doesn’t make it any easier, and watching Spike’s grief is embarrassing and painful. It’s neither big nor bad, and it’s alarmingly quiet.
“The vet said there was nothing anyone could have done,” he says, taking Spike’s hand in an instinctive offer of comfort. “Just a virus.”
“Could have turned them,” Spike says, squeezing.
“Could you?” Xander asks.
“No,” Spike answers.
October, Xander concludes, is the best month for a Halloween party. And a Halloween party, he decides, is a good way to lift Spike’s spirits.
Xander makes the final preparations anyway, relieved that everyone he cares about is going to be spending Halloween safe inside with him.
On the morning of the 31st, Spike is gone, along with his clothes, assorted CDs, Xander’s duffel bag, all the liquor, and a picture of the cats. The spare key is on the table.
It’s obvious that Spike’s moved out, but all Xander can think is, “When did he move in?”
November seems like a good time to figure out what he’s thankful for, so Xander does.
Or, he tries.
Aside from the boilerplate friends, good job, another year of not dying, blah blah blah, the things he was thankful for are gone.
Hey You. What’s His Face. Spike. Spike’s absence is bigger than his presence ever was.
And Jesse. What kind of person buys a kitten a poisonous plant to play with? The Xander kind, apparently. He figures that he’s probably pretty well matched with whoever left Jesse at his door because really, what kind of person would wrap a—
Xander decides that December’s a good month for peace, love, and understanding. It’s a Christmas thing.
That’s why he’s at the door to Spike’s crypt holding a shiny red box with holes poked in the sides and a tail sticking out the back. He doesn’t know where things went wrong, but he’s pretty sure he and Spike were friends for a while there. Good friends, even.
He’s also pretty sure it was Spike who left Jesse at his door. That’s why he’s got a sprig of plastic mistletoe stuffed in his back pocket. The real stuff’s poisonous. He triple checked.
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