Milestones had never been of great importance to men like them.
Okay, to be fair, Blaine had been the one of the two who locked them away to remember at a later date, bringing them out when a wave of nostalgia hit him. Jesse knew this, because more than once he'd seen Blaine marking off a date in the calendar, keeping careful record of birthdays and holidays and other dates that made absolutely no sense whatsoever to him, but they seemed to mean something to Blaine. Sometimes he'd catch Blaine grinning at the calendar when the date had a little check mark next to it, and Jesse would stare and stare when he thought Blaine wasn't looking but no matter how hard he tried he could never figure out what they meant.
But he knew what the little purple star next to the 18th of October meant.
He'd figured out the star system a long time ago, actually. The blue star marked their first date, the green star on the line between that day and the day before: their first kiss. The yellow star was the day Jesse had (accidentally) proposed. There was even a red star, which marked the day – or night, rather – when they'd first had sex. There wasn't an orange star, but Jesse was sure that was only because Blaine hadn't had an orange marker when Jesse had proposed. Otherwise, he was sure that particular event would have been marked in the darker color, more noticeable against the glossy, white paper.
And the purple star was the anniversary of their marriage.
It was simple, nothing large and no other markings to commemorate the occasion. It was just a purple star, which would be completely useless were someone other than the two of them to take a peek at their calendar. There wasn't even a number to indicate how long they'd been married. Nothing but that purple star.
Some might wonder how someone like Jesse, who needed a reminder every night what day it would be tomorrow, would manage to keep track of how many years it had been. But they would be selling him short. It helped that he and Blaine had worked out a system for celebrating their anniversary, too. Blaine was in charge of the odd years, Jesse the even. And after Blaine had taken him out to the first restaurant they'd visited together for their fifth year, Jesse was determined to do something extra-special for their tenth. There was something about those multiples of five that made them stand out for some reason, or maybe it was just the pair of them buying into tradition.
Either way, Jesse had a plan, and he was determined to see it through.
He'd debated for quite some time what he wanted to do. There was any number of places they could go, things they could do, but he wanted to choose something that meant something to the pair of them. Something new, but nostalgic at the same time.
That had been when it had hit him so hard he had actually physically stumbled in his tracks. He knew exactly what he should do, and after a few phone calls and one very persuasive email to his agent, there was a plan in the works.
It had taken a month to finalize said plans, one month that had caused Jesse to be so on edge that Blaine had thought he'd lost his job and was keeping it from him. But it would be so, so worth it in the end.
"It's purple star night," he told Melody as he sat with their three-year-old daughter in the living room.
"Tha's why you're all fancy," she pointed to the tie hanging from Jesse's collar, smiling up at her father. "Purple star night is special."
"Yes it is," Jesse agreed, scooping her up into his arms and giving her a squeeze. "You be good for Mrs. Leon, okay?"
"I'm always good," Melody giggled, and Jesse knew it was true. The woman was their go-to babysitter, only one year Blaine's junior and already mother to four, and Melody did love spending the night with the rest of the Leon clan, young as she was. She knew each of the four children by name, and all of them positively doted on her, probably because the red hair reminded them of their mother's locks, which none of them had inherited.
Melody hopped off Jesse's lap and he sent her off to pack her favorite pajamas, listening as she started telling her favorite teddy bear all about where they'd be for the night. Blaine was in their bedroom, and Jesse knew from experience that he was carefully choosing every piece of his outfit, from his tie to his socks to his underwear. Jesse had told him not to dress up too much, just a button-down shirt and tie, nothing at all like their usual attire for this occasion. If Blaine was disappointed at their lack of formalwear, he had said nothing to that effect.
The buzzer from the intercom sounded, and Jesse leapt to answer it, hearing Emma Leon's voice asking to be let in.
"There you… go," Jesse grinned, unlocking the door and hearing her polite thanks before she began scurrying up the stairs. It only took a few minutes for her to reach their room, thanks to the fact that they lived on the third floor, and both Blaine and Melody were both still in their respective rooms, Blaine probably fussing over his shoes while Melody tried to stuff all her favorite books into her bag, despite the fact that the Leons had an almost identical collection to their own.
"Emma," Jesse greeted her with a hug, a frown creasing his brow when he felt a slight bulge on her stomach. "Another one?" he asked, raising an eyebrow as he released her.
"Oh, stop," she swatted at his arm. "The more the merrier; you know how Wes and I feel about children. It's not like he can't afford to have them, in his line of work." She grinned up at him, her head cocked slightly as she took in his face. "You look radiant."
"I should," Jesse's grin widened. "It's going to be perfect." He stepped down their small hallway, hammering on the door to his and Blaine's bedroom and shouting, "Look alive or you'll miss Emma!" before continuing to Melody's room and popping his head inside. "Ready?"
"Ready!" she smiled up at him, holding up a small duffel bag.
"These too," Jesse reminded her, picking up the small Ziploc bag resting on her dresser, which contained her toothbrush and toothpaste.
"Those too," Melody huffed, grabbing them and shoving them inside the bag, zipping it quickly as Jesse craned to get a look inside. "Don't look, PJ, it's a secret!"
"Oh," Jesse nodded. "Gotcha." He let Melody skip ahead of him, reaching his bedroom door right as it opened and Blaine stepped out, shirt unbuttoned and mismatched socks on his feet.
"Dashing," Jesse commented. "Though you might want to do up a button or two before leaving." He tugged on Blaine's collar, laughing when his husband swatted his hand away.
"Shove it," Blaine rolled his eyes, saying a quick hello to Emma before bending down to scoop up Melody into his arms, spinning her around. "Be good for–"
"Daddy," Melody whined, and Jesse laughed at the pair of them, butting in with, "Already had the talk, babe, and she's reminded me – as usual – that she is a perfect little angel when we're not the ones taking care of her." Melody giggled, then waved hello to Emma once Blaine put her back down.
"Bedtime at eight," Blaine reminded the girl, to which she answered with a slight huff. But Emma smiled and promised to have her in bed on time, then took the little girl's hand and left.
"Now go put a tie on," Jesse demanded, giving Blaine an actual shove back to the bedroom door. "We have to leave soon."
"I'm going, I'm going," Blaine shook his head, but he did as he was told, letting Jesse push him back into their bedroom, where sure enough, the closet doors were wide open and there were ties strewn all about the bed. Jesse laughed, then bent over and scooped up a light green one.
"This one," he decided for him. "You're wearing your charcoal gray shirt, as you so rudely informed me the first time I called it light black, and the green always goes well with it. Plus it makes your eyes pop."
"Since when do you know what looks good together?" Blaine asked, teasing.
"Since I decided what I like on you," Jesse answered without missing a beat, wrapping the tie around Blaine's neck and starting to tie it for him. He did so gently, carefully tucking it under the collar of Blaine's shirt before tightening it and then pulling him in for a brief kiss. His fingers closed around the soft fabric, holding Blaine in place, then he whispered, "And what I like to take off of you."
"I'd smack you if Melody were around to hear that," Blaine decided, but Jesse wasn't blind to the way his face still flushed at such comments, even after over ten years of hearing them.
"You're too much of a sweetie for that sort of thing," Jesse teased this time, making Blaine laugh. "Two minutes?"
"Two minutes," Blaine agreed, grabbing a sock from their dresser and holding it up, no doubt trying to figure out if it was black or navy blue. Jesse left him to it, going back into their kitchen and grabbing his wallet, which was resting on the table. He took stock of its contents, making sure that he had his metro card, because everything else was taken care of, so he could turn up without a penny to his name and they would be just fine. A pat of his pocket told him his keys were safe and sound, and he tucked his wallet in his pocket just as Blaine emerged from their room.
"Okay, ready," Blaine told him, and Jesse refrained from telling him, 'finally!' because he was supposed to be nice tonight, or something. Instead he just took Blaine by the hand and led him out of their apartment, unable to stop himself from grinning. They walked in silence, not because of a lack of things to say, but because Jesse was too excited for where they were about to go and Blaine was surely still nervous about his choice of clothing for the night. Jesse knew for a fact that Blaine still felt strange going out without something covering his shirt. He liked to call it post-Dalton stress disorder.
"We must paint quite the picture," Jesse commented, after they'd caught their subway and were headed downtown.
"What do you mean?" Blaine turned towards him, their shoulders brushing.
"You look constipated and I probably look like a two-year-old after eating too much sugar," he pointed out. "Not to mention you're practically sitting in my lap." He laughed when Blaine looked down, realizing how his own legs were crossed, the one on top resting partially on Jesse's lap. He made to move, but Jesse released his hand and put an arm around his waist, keeping him there.
"Ten years and you still can't sit on top of me in the subway?" he pouted slightly. "Why Mister Anderson, I am disappointed in you." Blaine just shook his head, then leaned in closer, his body curling into Jesse's in a way that made them fit together, in a way that felt so natural that he wasn't quite sure what he'd done before he'd found Blaine. Because the way Blaine's head rested so gently against his temple, the way their shoulders angled and their fingers twined together… Jesse had heard countless stories about people just seeming to fit together, but Blaine was the first person who had made him understood what that meant.
Silence fell over them again, following them as they left the subway and Jesse led Blaine down a street that he was sure the other would find familiar. He'd debated blindfolding him, but he wanted to watch Blaine's face for any hint of realization, for any questions that would show there. He really was very expressive, his face speaking for him when he couldn't find the right words. And at first, Blaine did look confused, frowning around at their surroundings, like he was trying to remember something that had happened here however many years ago. He almost tried to walk past their destination, but Jesse tightened his hold on Blaine's hand, forcing him to come to a halt.
"Jesse, we're at…" Blaine's voice trailed away, his eyes falling onto the sign for Joe's Pub, taking it in with confusion written all over his face. Jesse watched him, rather than looking at the building, as Blaine's eyes trailed down from the sign to the windows to the door to the sign posted outside the door, listing the show that was to be played.
"You did not," Blaine's grip on Jesse's hand was suddenly cutting off the circulation in his fingers, his entire face lighting up.
"I did," Jesse assured him, looking for himself at the sign, pleased when he saw a very simple announcement for their anniversary. Nothing gaudy or attention-seeking, just matter-of-fact, with the occasion and their names written in neat handwriting. A grin broke across his face when he realized that there was nothing on the sign to detail what exactly would be happening inside.
And he did ever so love surprising Blaine.
He ushered his husband – husband! Ten years and he still wasn't over the novelty – inside, his smile softening into a contented stare when he saw how the inside had been arranged. All the tables had been taken away, save for one in the middle of the floor, close enough to the dimly-lit stage for Jesse's liking but not so close that it would feel as if the performer was hovering.
The performer in question? Not yet there. Jesse would have complained loudly, had he walked in on any other day to find the stage deserted, but today he had planned everything down to the minute. He and Blaine sat, and he studied the other's face carefully, not wanting to miss a single change in expression to be found there.
A man came over to give them a plate of appetizers, all chosen in advance from the menu so there would be no need for interruptions. Jesse knew Blaine's favorites, knew that he wouldn't want to be jerked out of this little fantasy by something as mundane as ordering a meal, so Jesse had taken care of that already. The appreciation showed on Blaine's face, even as he stared around, eyes wide, still seemingly searching for other people or a sign that this wasn't as perfect as it truly was.
"It gets better," Jesse assured him, winking. Blaine raised an eyebrow.
"Just watch," Jesse nodded towards the stage, but he himself did not look. He only had eyes for the man sitting next to him, only wanted to watch one person. It didn't matter that the man whose picture had once been tacked up in Jesse's dorm was about to come out onto that stage, didn't matter that Jesse had said on multiple occasions that he would drop everything and everyone if this man gave him that kind of opportunity.
No, he was watching Blaine, watching as Blaine's mouth fell open, his hands twitching, his posture straightening. One hand even went reflexively to the back of his neck, patting his hairline to make sure nothing was out of place. He caught himself doing it and quickly clasped his hands together and rested them in his lap.
"Is that – ?"
"Gavin Creel," Jesse finished for him, allowing himself a few seconds to look up at the man onstage. The years had been ever so kind to him, leaving him his hair and his youthful energy, and while the lines on his face were prominent, he could easily pass for ten, fifteen years younger than he was.
There was no introduction, no attempt at conversation. Gavin just walked right up to the microphone, waiting patiently while three musicians filed in behind him, then began to sing. The microphone wasn't even turned on, Jesse realized, nor were the instruments plugged in. The mic was just there as a prop, really, something to make everyone feel more at ease. More relaxed. Jesse knew for a fact that he himself would have appreciated a microphone, simply to have something to do with his hands.
He hardly spared a glance for Gavin the entire night. The man sang through a selection of songs from his four albums while Jesse and Blaine simply reveled in each other's presence, neither one speaking much. They exchanged a few words here and there, but there was very little talking. Nothing needed to be said, after all. It was being said with every single word Gavin sang, every second they remained in Joe's Pub. Jesse wondered if this was what it truly was like to be in love. He'd known he'd loved Blaine for quite some time, but now, sitting with him in silence and finding none of it uncomfortable at all, Jesse decided that this was love. When silences stopped being awkward, you'd found the one.
At the end of the night, Gavin did break the invisible barrier between performer and audience, stepping down off the stage and coming over to shake both of their hands. They stood, clasping his hand firmly, their thanks written in their faces even as their words were lacking.
The walk home was just as silent. Jesse had an arm around Blaine's shoulders, Blaine around Jesse's waist, and they walked in step with one another, leaning against the other's body. While the streets around them were anything but quiet, not a sound came from either one of them, passing by storefronts and theatres without mentioning a thing. It wasn't until they'd taken their train home and were walking through their front door when Blaine broke the silence.
"So," was all he said, raising one eyebrow.
"So," Jesse echoed. He let the door close behind him, a smirk playing about his face. His tongue felt heavy with the questions he wanted to ask – Did you like it? Wasn't that the best thing ever? How handsome is Gavin Creel, still, and do you think he'd share the secret? – but he didn't let one slip out. It had been one of the quietest nights of his life, and yet he didn't feel the need to chase the silence away with unnecessary words.
Blaine seemed to feel the same, for after those two syllables, he just leaned in and kissed him. The feel of Blaine's mouth had become familiar over the years, too, just like those stars on the calendar, and when Jesse's eyes closed there were little green lights dancing underneath his eyelids. Green like the tie Blaine was wearing and green like the coffee mug Jesse had knocked to the floor two days after they'd moved in here. Both of them had been stressed beyond belief and Blaine had yelled himself hoarse about that coffee mug (and the coffee that had been inside it), apologizing as soon as his voice had cracked and he'd realized Jesse had cleaned the whole mess up while he'd been mindlessly ranting.
(And then after that they'd ended up having sex on top of the collapsed box their fridge had come in, but that wasn't really important.)
Jesse could feel a hint of stubble on Blaine's chin as they kissed, and then his fingers brushed against a scratch along his jaw line. Blaine didn't like shaving again right away if he'd nicked himself the time before. When he let his fingers tangle into Blaine's hair, he knew it was due for a trim. Stubble and hair and scratches weren't just parts of Blaine's body anymore; Jesse had learned what it all meant from spending years of his life with this man. They weren't mundane details. They were all a part of who his husband was, and he wouldn't have remembered at all if Blaine wasn't important.
He also knew Blaine's unspoken rule that on anniversaries, everything happened slowly.
The pair moved from the door and into their living room, Jesse sitting down on the couch first and knowing Blaine would follow. It felt almost lazy, in a sense, every move they made practically in slow-motion in comparison to how things usually played out. But it made them more acutely aware of what was going on. Jesse could feel every breath, every shift, every movement Blaine made, from the way his breath still hitched any time Jesse's mouth would stray from his lips to his neck to the way his legs stiffened when his toes curled.
And there were sounds, too, noises they'd stifle on any other day because they really didn't want to be those parents whose three-year-old learned about sex way too early because she'd overheard Daddy and PJ yelling things from their bedroom in the middle of the night. Accustomed to clenching their teeth and biting down on their lips, it took a while – a long while and a couple pointed rolls of Jesse's hips – but then there were moans and yeses and fucks and Jesse started to remember how he'd always loved making Blaine's breath hitch right in the middle of saying that last one because there wasn't anything in the world that sounded sexier.
It didn't feel like a night of lost things or a night of remembrance, though anniversaries certainly can take a turn in that direction. They weren't getting lost in nostalgia or talking through old milestones they'd shared together, but re-familiarizing themselves with each other's bodies and voices. It was about feeling the years they'd had together, not talking about them. Words weren't necessary. Conversations were spoken with the linking of fingers, the hitching of breath, the slide of skin against skin.
The whispered, "I love you," was nice, though.
The, "I love you, too," that followed came a full five minutes later. It wasn't about vocal reciprocation, but the feelings that made those words bubble up and spill forth. It was about really soaking in their meaning, of reveling in the warmth they wrapped around you, and really living in those words for a while before saying them again.
Blaine started to doze off shortly thereafter, and Jesse just held him, one hand stroking through those long curls, until he felt the pull of sleep, too. He didn't dream so much as relive that night, hearing Gavin Creel's voice and continually falling into Blaine's eyes and arms.
When he woke the next morning, Blaine was already up, though he'd kept himself tucked neatly into Jesse's side instead of moving away. Their eyes met as soon as Jesse's opened, and identical lazy smiles blossomed on their faces. Blaine leaned up to kiss him, looking as contented as Jesse felt.
They laid there and let the sun stream into the room, let the noises outside fill the air, let their bodies grow accustomed to the warmth of each other.
Then Blaine sat up, fixed Jesse with a frown, and said, "I can't believe I was in the same room as Gavin Creel for over two hours and didn't get an autograph."
Jesse burst out laughing, the sound too loud for the small room. Blaine's frown deepened.
"Check under the bed, babe," Jesse reached up to tousle Blaine's hair. "I was a little too preoccupied to give it to you last night."