Sundays were for sleeping. Neither Alexis nor Theo had to work on Sundays, except on very rare occasions, and they did try to keep the day clear - “God we’re so middle aged,” Alexis would laugh. So Theo’s nine am alarm went thoroughly unnapreciated by Alexis, who rolled over into her pillow and mumbled something about the second mouse catching the cheese. She half noticed Theo getting up quietly next to her, and a few minutes later the comfortable sense of his weight on the left side of the bed was back, and he shook her shoulder firmly, handing her a mug of coffee as she slowly emerged from the land of dreams.
Alexis didn’t often have nice dreams.
The two of them sat up against the headboard, drinking coffee in a companiable silence. The curtains were closed, but it seemed like a grey day outside. Alexis was not very interested in the idea of being awake, until Theo mentioned something that caught her attention.
He’d made a list.
"Sorry, what?" she asked, wondering if she’d missed the main point of this conversation.
"We’re gonna do one thing every day until christmas!"
Alexis’ heart sank. “Are you kidding? God… Theo, you know how I feel about christmas activities…”
"Shush. You promised you’d let me give you the perfect christmas and so help me, I will."
"It would be perfect to just stay at home and drink hot chocolate all month."
"Ha. That would be believable if it had come from anyone else’s mouth, Lex, I’ve never heard you use the word perfect in your life."
She half smiled. “Alright then. Do I at least get to see this list?”
"No, because you’ll just shit all over it and refuse to do anything."
"It’s that bad?" she asked in horror.
"Shut up, Lex," he said in a measured, weary voice.
She softened. “Sorry. Does day one include shower sex, because I really think that would wake me up…”
Theo brightened up immediately. “Well, no. But what the lady wants…”
"The lady doth want," Alexis agreed, with a dirty smirk.
"The lady gets," Theo promised, slamming his mug down on the table in his hurry to get out of bed and into the shower.
Twenty steamy minutes later, Theo was frying bacon over the hob and Alexis was sitting at the kitchen table in just a baggy t-shirt and knickers, nursing a second mug of coffee. “Is it really December 1st?” she groaned.
Theo chose not to reply.
"What are we doing later?" she tried again.
"Not telling. Shut up and drink your coffee."
She smiled ruefully. “Sorry.”
She couldn’t quite bring herself to thank Theo for trying so hard, because she was genuinely scared that everything would blow up and she’d have to go home for a bit. The two of them were sort of walking on eggshells around each other at the moment, but she was sure they’d get over that. They managed to live together for the majority of the rest of the year, why should December be any different?
Theo turned up the radio, which was playing non-stop Christmas songs to celebrate the date. He slid a plate of bacon in front of Alexis and sat down in an empty chair. “Eat up.”
"Thank you," she said gratefully, stuffing the bacon between two pieces of bread and shoved the sandwich in her mouth hungrily. "Man, this is great. You can stay on."
"I think you’re the one in my house."
"Details," she smiled, waving a greasy hand vaguely.
Technically, the flat was Theo’s. Alexis stayed regularly, and she paid half of everything whenever she was living there, but they worked on a basis where if Alexis needed space, she was welcome to fuck off for a few weeks, and it didn’t affect Theo too much. Usually she’d stay with her parents.
Alexis finished her sandwich enthusiastically, and rocked back in her chair, contentedly.
"You’ve cheered up," Theo commented.
"I’m approaching Christmas with an open mind," she replied. "And if there’s going to be bacon sandwiches every morning, it’ll be even more open."
Theo laughed, and silently resolved to cook bacon every morning for the rest of the month, if it meant Lex would stick around.
The rest of the morning passed calmly, the two of them sitting at the kitchen table working quietly, forced to listen to Theo’s Christmas playlist loudly through their one working speaker, with limited conversation from either party.
By about three o’clock, Alexis had hit her tolerance limit for Wham! and Band Aid. “Alright, loverboy, you’d better have something pretty great planned, because I’m going out of my mind.”
“Loverboy?” he asked in amusement.
“Nope. Alright,” he craned his neck to see out of the window. “If you go and put some actual clothes on, we’re leaving in twenty minutes.”
Alexis slammed her laptop shut, with a little more force than intended, and retreated to the bedroom to find a sweater and a pair of jeans. She pulled a grey beanie on her head, wrapped a red scarf around her neck loosely, stuffed her feet into a brown pair of Cat boots and pulled on a slightly damp, green parka. “I’m ready,” she announced finally, waiting by the door.
“Bit eager?” Theo teased.
“Well yeah, now! I’ve been waiting all day.”
“Come on then,” he smiled, taking her small hand in his and leading her out of the house.
Neither Alexis nor Theo could drive – not that it was worth it around London – so it was hard to keep their location a secret from Lex, who knew all the tube lines by heart.
“Close your eyes,” Theo ordered, placing his hands on her shoulders firmly and steering her through the crowds of tube-users. “Don’t you dare open them until I say you can.”
He led Alexis onto the Central Line and made her wrap her fingers around the overhead pole tightly. Ten-ish, squashed minutes later, they got off onto the platform, and Theo carefully guided Alexis up the steps.
“If we’re not on Central Line I’ll eat my beanie,” she said casually, one hand still covering her eyes.
Damn, she’s good, Theo thought to himself, but outloud he replied “not telling. Concentrate on not falling over and killing yourself, my dear.”
“Please don’t ever call me ‘my dear’ again.”
“Oh, shush,” he laughed, and added a moment later, “nearly there.”
“Oxford Street,” she guessed immediately.
“So I’m right?”
“Alexis, shut up, I swear to god!”
Finally Theo stopped walking, causing Alexis to come to a sudden stop. “Keep them closed,” he warned, shifting her around slightly. “Ok, tip your head back, but don’t open your eyes.” Alexis obeyed, a smile playing on her lips. “Wait, forward bout thirty five degrees.”
“Theo, I haven’t done maths in, like, six years. How the fuck do you measure thirty five degrees?”
He laughed and pushed her head gently up himself. “Like that. Alright… I guess it’s not all that really, but you can open your eyes now.”
“It had better be all that,” Alexis said darkly, but he could tell she was teasing. She loved surprises.
Alexis moved her hand slowly, blinking in surprise as her eyes were filled with tiny, dancing golden lights. The two of them stood underneath a giant, suspended snowflake, made out of Christmas lights. Alexis couldn’t stop the small smile spreading across her face. “This is cute,” she admitted. “I might have guessed it, but it’s really cute.”
There were hundreds of people milling around them, some looking grumpy with large plastic bags of Christmas presents, some stopping to take photos. Theo pulled her head towards him gently, and their lips met. He knew she was genuinely enjoying this. “Merry Christmas, babe,” he mumbled against her lips.
“Thank you,” she whispered back.
Day 1: See The Lights