Duo flipped on the stereo and turned up the volume. If he had to spend the day in the back bedroom they used more for storage than guests, he needed the music. And it had better be loud. Company for the holidays had been his idea, ‘you clean the room’, he’d been told.
On the surface, the room wasn’t too bad; just a few boxes in the corner he could find room for in the attic, or get rid of the contents. Three piles, he decided, would work the best for sorting. One to keep, one to trash or take to the Goodwill, and the last for Heero to determine what to do with. Walk space, dresser and then the closet, plan settled, he opened the first box.
It was some time after lunch, and the reel to reel still had hours of play left, when Duo got to the closet. The three piles overgrew their confines, and he had to make several trips with Hefty bags to the curb. The keep pile he boxed as he went, and a short column of cardboard rose from the floor in the hall just outside the door. Heero’s stack was the smallest yet, and Duo was almost certain of its fate.
The closet was one of those open-the-door kind with a thick rod spanning its interior and a built in shelf over it. Cardboard boxes were stacked on top the shelf, some more on the floor. There was a fair smattering of shoeboxes, an old pair of crutches leaned against the wall, and a half dozen belts hung by their buckles from a hook on the door. But, mostly the closet held clothes on hangers; clothes that had migrated from the main bedroom closet; clothes that waited for age and fashion to deem them completely useless and to be carted off to some charity.
He decided to tackle the boxes first, believing the boxes contained a mixture of business and personal records. Each of these he set aside, knowing he’d need Heero to help sort what was necessary to keep and what could be thrown away. Need a frickin’ file cabinet, he thought, finding another shoebox stuffed with cancelled checks. Shoebox storage was supposed to make keeping tax information easier.
The "Heero" pile grew.
Chuckling slightly, Duo picked through the belts, knowing none would be worn again. Sometimes he wondered why he saved things, knowing he’d never use them again. From his "Urban Cowboy" belt with its big silver buckle, to the thin leather strap, he tossed them all on the bed. The clothes hanging didn’t fair much better, though a couple of shirts were saved and returned to his side of the master bedroom closet.
In the middle of stuffing the now discarded pile of clothing into a garbage sack, he found them. A pair of blue jeans he hadn’t seen since he’d hung them up in this closet five years before, a pair he hadn’t worn in nearly ten years. He sat back, just looking at them in their faded denim and frayed hems. He reached out and traced a finger over the inked design. It was during a political science class he drew on his thigh. Peace signs weren’t uncommon then, and nearly mandatory in college. Especially one as liberal as UCSC.
Duo slipped the pair from its hanger, peeked into the living room and went into his own. Heero wasn’t expected for another couple of hours, but there was something about having him there while he checked. He pulled them on, shifting them a bit to settle. But they zipped right up, buttoned closed without pulling. Looking into the full-length mirror hanging from the closet door, he could almost hear the Doors playing.
Setting up house in Santa Cruz hadn’t been his first choice, but it had been all Heero talked about - when I get out, he’d say. And Duo listened. Enrolling in classes at UCSC had been his own idea and California was liberal in their support of extended education. Tuition and cost for books, classes were free. His jeans had been the first clothing purchase as a student. Part of the uniform, he figured. At least he hadn’t kept the headband. Or the beads.
"What are you doing?"
Without turning his head, Duo told Heero’s reflection, "they still fit." He watched in the mirror as Heero came into the room to stand behind him.
"Bell-bottoms?" His lips were curved into a soft smile.
Duo raised an eyebrow. "Hey man, I was one hip dude." His head bobbed to a long forgotten beat.
Heero’s hands settled on his shoulders and Heero's kiss to the side of his neck. "Still are."
He laughed, and reached back to pull Heero closer.
Closet cleaning would commence later. Or the next day. But Duo thought he might have an answer for why he held onto things he’d never use again.