A Year's New Birth

It had been a whole year already.

Eric shook his head in amazement; another year had flown by and he still didn't know where all the time had gone. He remembered days when he was stuck in the library cramming for an exam, he recalled intense field practices with his football teammates, and he reminisced on nights where he and Luke spent making love until dawn broke through the windows. Truly, days, weeks, months, seasons…all of it had just sped on by, and he lived through all of it.

Right now he was cleaning up their shared apartment, prepping for the New Year's Bash he and his lover were hosting this evening with all of their friends. The party wasn't set to begin until at least five more hours, but he wanted to clean up the place now; that included making sure there was plenty of toilet paper in every bathroom, all of the breakable possessions were locked away, and he had a security bin for people's keys to be placed in. He wasn't bracing for a wild herd of elephants to come charging through, he was bracing for the biggest party his and Luke's apartment had ever seen; which arguably, was equal to the same thing.

Pulling out the vacuum from the hallway closet, he plugged in the machine and soon was lost in the white noise produced, him alone with his thoughts and memories.

This year had been crazy, that much was certain. Thankfully, he and Luke saw more good than bad this year. New friends were made, family was introduced (at least on Eric's side), and more beautiful memories were created between him and Luke. Both of them were comfortable in their jobs and they were more than happy with each other.

Eric paused, switching off the machine. He and Luke were happy…weren't they?

Reaching for his cell, Eric began scrolling down in the text messages he and Luke sent each other sporadically. They didn't do the obligatory 'one-text-a-day' thing like some couples did, but still, their technological form of communication seemed to be reaching a lull. Most of Luke's texts to him said the same thing, "Love you." Nothing more, nothing less.

Eric leaned over the countertop, contemplating what these forbidding emotions meant. Were he and Luke reaching that phase that most heterosexual couples hit, that 'comfortable phase' where their lives became dull and unexciting? Would they grow bored with one another and possibly break up?

Reaching under the sink for liquid cleaner, Eric moved to the bathrooms and poured some in each toilet, letting the solution clear away all form of bacterial infestation. What could he do to prevent his and Luke's supposed inevitable break up? He thought that his creativity these past holidays had been most excellent; the Roman Centurion at Halloween, the Naughty Santa barely a week ago at his family's house, both had gotten Luke going like a cat in heat.

So why did he feel like the fire between the two of them was dimming?

Returning to the hallway closet, he reached in for the dust rag and began tackling all the rooms. As he began wiping down the picture frames, Eric soon found himself lost in the moment each photo was taken in. Luke enjoyed photography, so there were plenty of photos of the two of them spread throughout the apartment, all in any style of picture setting.

Here – a black and white one of him and Luke at the park. They had gotten a stranger to take the photo. It had been a windy day, Eric remembered, and the hat that Luke was wearing in the picture kept getting blown off. Every time he would run off and chase it down, until finally growing exasperated with the scene, Eric snatched the hat before it could take off once again and stuck it on his head. Luke had pouted in his typical, cute way until Eric swooped in a picked him up, placing his smaller lover on his broad shoulders. They had made quite a sight that day in the park, one grown man on top of another's. And there was the photo of the two of them exactly like that; Eric silently chuckled as he picked up more photos, wiping them down.

Here was a photo of just Eric. Luke had snuck in and taken it when he wasn't looking. It should the burly man looking up at the trees as the new leaves were budding. Eric thought it was an okay photo of him, and when he told Luke that, the other man merely smiled and asked what else did he see. Looking back, Eric remembered that he shrugged and asked what else was there to see? Luke had laughed, that gently yet confident laugh of his, and explained that in time, he would see the hidden message in the photo. Now Eric could see it; the tree, after being asleep for a few months, was coming back in fullness of life. Was that how his and Luke's relationship was?

Moving to another room, Eric picked up a photo of just Luke this time. There were fewer photos of just the photographer, which Eric always had a secret dislike for. He wanted Luke to see more of just him sometimes, reminding him of who he was. The photo showed Luke dressed up in a formal suit, giving a lecture to his fellow classmates about some topic in one of his ethics class. Eric had snuck in and hid behind a few other football players, until he could snap some photos. The flashes had thrown Luke off for a second, causing him to stumble momentarily in his presentation. Afterwards, Eric remembered with a smile, Luke came up to him hotly and asked why he had startled him like that. Eric had quickly discovered in their relationship that once Luke started ranting, he wouldn't shut up, unless Eric interrupted in a way that only Eric can interrupt him. He had given Eric a full blown kiss that left him breathless. Eric continued to make up for his 'blunder' by keeping Luke awake all night with him between the sheets.

Eric finally came to the living room. He wiped down all the shelves and other photos, but one stuck out the most. It was by far the best photo in the house, an opinion that was shared between him and Luke. It showed the two of them facing each other at a friend's bar-b-q. Their backs were to a large flower bush in full bloom, giving a splash of color. But what most people saw initially in the photo was how intense a look Luke and Eric shared with each other. It wasn't aggressive, nor was it half-felt. They looked at each other with such calming security and blatant love, it was something else entirely.

Eric brushed away a tear that had snuck out onto his cheek. No. He and Luke were good. All these photos of Luke's showed how much he cared about Eric and Eric felt the same way just as strongly for his lover. Finished with the dusting, he moved to start clearing away the dirty dishes and other needed chores.

/\/\/\/\/\

It had been a whole year already.

That one thought kept reverberating in Luke's head as he fought tooth and nail in the mall for some last minute decoration shopping. Currently he was doing the two-step tango with a granny who just wouldn't move. God forbid that Luke knock her down, but really, granny needed to move!

Finally dancing around the elderly woman, he dashed into a crafts store and scoured for some decorations that would go with his plans for the apartment. Hopefully the mall would be his savior and supply him with all that he needed, or else he would have to drive across town to the other mall. That normally wouldn't be a problem, except every other Tom, Dick and Harry was out on the road as well. Hence traffic was a royal pain, and Luke was about to start pulling out his hair in aggravation.

Finding what he needed as he walked up and down the aisles, Luke put everything into a shopping cart. Making sure he wasn't forgetting anything, he reached into his side pocket for the list he knew he put there. Recently he had been having some thought about his and Eric's relationship. That term sounded so cold, relationship. It seemed devoid of emotion, like there wasn't any special meaning behind it. He started to question just how strong his feelings were for Eric. They were approaching the three year mark, and Luke wasn't sure if there was the same spark that had been present when the two of them initially hooked up. Sure they still had great sex, but that's not all Luke wanted. He wanted feelings, not just fornication. Eric certainly provided both in spades; he was by far one of the most emotional people Luke had ever met, but he would deny that until his death. He could take a beating like no other during a football game, such as the likes which caused Luke to cringe in sympathetic pain when he saw the dark colored welts, but Eric wouldn't bat an eyelash at them. Yet put in something as soppy as an old family dog dying for a movie and Eric would be bawling on Luke like some over grown baby.

Smiling to himself, Luke finally pulled out the list from his pants. Along with the list however, another smaller piece of paper fell out. Luke paused and bent down to retrieve it.

It was a sticky note, the kind one found at every office desk. On it was a simple message of "Have A Gr8 Day!" Next to it was a picture of, what Luke could only assume, Eric with a smiley face. With a small chuckle, he put the small note back in his pocket. Eric had started the hobby of putting random notes of affection in his pants, coat, sweater pouches, everything a couple of months ago. He probably got it from Oprah, another thing that Luke knew Eric would deny until he was six feet under dirt and colder than said dirt.

Thinking back to all that had happened in the last year, Eric could say without being a biased source that he and Eric were better off than most couples. They still went out on dates, surprised each other randomly, they supported each other, and their sex life was still burning hot. But he feared that once the New Year started, all of these things would sort of fizzle out and their lives would become something similar to a 1950's heterosexual family's monotony. Luke didn't know what he would do if Eric broke up with him, but he wouldn't play the role of the clingy, desperate ex. He wouldn't. Oh he would scream and rage, but he wouldn't make Eric's life hell. That's why he cared so much for his giant of a lover; the man would always be considerate of others.

Walking up the cash register, Luke pulled out his wallet and opened it up. Out popped another sticky note. This time it said, "Spend wisely, is it for me?" There another face drawn, this time with question marks for eyes. Snorting at Eric's crude yet amusing art, Luke placed the note back where it once was. Yes he and Eric lived well off. They weren't misers with their money, but they weren't free with it either. So for Eric to draw something like that little note was always a pleasant surprise. They weren't the superficial couples a person saw on VH1 or MTV, they gave gifts to each other that you couldn't find on shelves. Although, Eric's bedroom creativity would be priceless if it were to go on sale. Not that Luke would ever share his lover's tastes with anyone that is.

Retrieving his credit card and paid items, Luke pushed the shopping cart back to the front of the store where he found it. Checking off his list, he saw that all he had left to do was go home and start decorating the apartment. He slung his coat on and put his hands in his pocket. This time he was double surprised.

In each hand he pulled out of his pockets were more sticky notes. In his left hand was written, "Ur My Heart 3". Heart was the name Eric had give Luke recently and seeing it every time made his throat constrict with emotion. Clearing it, he looked and read what the note in his right hand said.

It was a simple, "I Luv U."

That did it. Luke felt the tears leak out of his eyes as he stood by himself in the parking lot next to his car. How could he doubt his and Eric's love for one another, when there were constant reminders of it all around him? He was certain that there little notes in every single article of clothing that he owned back in his and Eric's apartment; and that gave him such a sense of elation.

Wiping away the stray tears, he got in the car and started it. Driving away, he thought about all the fun he and Eric would have tonight, not only with their friends, but with each other as well, as everyone ushered in the New Year.

/\/\/\/\/\

It had been a whole year already.

That was what everyone was saying that the party, as they tried to process how 365 days passed so quickly.

The apartment was stunning. In every room, through every hallway, were decorations of past events of the year. Holidays, momentous parts of history, or just amazing photos of the past, everything was spectacular.

Wading through the bodies, Eric found Luke in the kitchen pulling out another bottle of champagne for the numerous guests. "Are you sure we should keep that flowing heart?" he asked. They had already gone through seven bottles of the stuff, and guests were getting a little bit crazy. Luckily no one was out of control yet, and anyone who had been driving had already been divested of their keys, them being safely locked away.

Luke looked back at Eric, his 2009 glasses slightly askew. "It's cool love! This is the last bottle anyways, and we have less than half an hour until the big drop!" He stumbled a bit and Eric caught him. "I think I shouldn't have had that last glass anyways, I'm a bit tipsy…"

Eric chuckled. His boyfriend never could hold his liquor, even when it was something as soft as champagne. "Well you're not drunk, or else you'd be puking in the bathroom." Taking the bottle, Eric put it on the counter and left it there, certain that some partygoers would see it and open it up. "C'mon, I wanna watch the video of the world's other New Year's bashes on the television." With that, he slung Luke over his shoulder.

"Wheeeee!" Luke cried out, spreading him arms like Superman. Laughing at the antics, the other partiers gradually moved into the living room as well. As everyone found a seat, Eric plopped down with Luke in his lap in the center of the couch, directly in front of the television. Soon the noise settled to a low rumble of conversation, as people carried on their talks with one another. Luke nuzzled into Eric's neck, tickling the larger man a bit. He soon stopped and the two silently watched as people around the world celebrated the New Year in their countries.

Luke shifted his weight, and leaned in his mouth to Eric's ear. "Hey Eric?"

Taken by the serious tone of his name, Eric pulled his ear away from Luke mouth and looked at him. "What is it Luke?"

Luke stared at Eric, not saying a word. He glanced at the facial features of his lover. The strong jaw, the prominent nose, the full hair, everything that defined Eric physically. But most of all, he stared into Eric's eyes and saw the passion and fire that he first saw when they met at a college party all that time ago. He had been initially attracted to Eric based on looks then. But as the two talked, Luke's opinion of Eric changed from just being a one-night stand to the possibility of something more. He found out from Eric later, after their first few dates, that the man had felt the same way then too.

"We're good, aren't we Eric?" whispered Luke.

Eric was taken aback by the soft yet serious question posed upon him. Thinking back to all those photos he dusted merely a few hours ago, he contemplated how his and Luke relationship had matured and grown. Sure their partnership wasn't perfect; they yelled at each other, fought, even wrestled in the apartment, trying to figure out their problems. Some may have thought the idea of them wrestling was unfair to Luke, by they never saw how much of a hellcat Luke became when the odds were stacked against him. Plus he played dirty too. But be that as it may, they still rarely clashed with each other.

Their interests were still the same as well. They also found ways to compromise and support each other as well. While Eric played at home games, Luke would always find a way to get to them, even if he didn't understand all the rules. And Eric would go to the plays at the theatre with Luke, even though his biggest love wasn't drama. They still cared for each other, despite the infrequent turbulence of their lives.

"Yeah." He whispered back. "We're good my heart." With that being said he leaned in and began kissing Luke. It wasn't a fiery kiss of passion, one that is commonly seen in the bed room or in cheap movies. No it was a silent yet intense kiss that Eric shared with Luke. They didn't pull away, nor did either go deeper. They just became lost in each other as people began to proclaim how close they were to midnight. Soon they pulled apart and each man stared at the other. Luke smiled and rested his head on Eric chest while Eric snuggled deeper into the couch, one of his hands resting on Luke's back.

"5!" Luke pulled back from Eric's chest.

"4!" Eric peered down in question.

"3!" mouthed Luke to Eric.

"2!" copied Eric to Luke.

"1!" the two moved in towards each other.

"HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!" screamed everyone as Luke and Eric shared in that fiery passionate kiss that transcended cheesy romance movies and reignited their love for one another. As people hugged and yelled, whooped and hollered, Luke and Eric paid them no mind as they focused solely on each other.

Yeah, they were still going strong.