Frost on the Pumpkin
Heero paused on the back porch, closing the kitchen door behind him. It was cold, and the air froze with every breath from his mouth, but he knew it'd get colder in less than a month. Not the first frost, but the first freeze of the year, he buttoned up his coat and pulled his gloves on walking down the steps onto the yard.
Grass crunched under his boots, brown and heading for dormancy, its blades were stiff with frost. The sun wouldn't be making an appearance for several minutes; this hour of dawn was in a surreal half-light. Past the lawn proper, beyond the work shed he built with Duo's help, Heero's garden waited.
The beans, corn and peas, the root vegetables he had picked all weeks ago. There were only a handful of vine plants bearing produce. The garden would be razed, tilled under before the first snow - if not next week, then the week after. Heero tilted his head up to scan the sky and cautiously sniffed the air. He smiled ruefully, not knowing after all this time what he was supposed to smell. Old wives tales and old men's stories had a grain of truth, but without the base knowledge, fact was impossible to prove.
He stepped over weed-laden rows and furrows, noted the acorn and butternut squash would have to be picked. Kneeling beside one of the large mounds in the middle of the garden plot, Heero rubbed on the frosty cover, and thought that maybe he should have brought the pumpkins in earlier.
Scattered about the three mounds lay almost a dozen medium to large sized pumpkins; Heero nearly caressed the largest, already seeing the delighted amusement in Duo's eyes. He'd have to bring the ‘barrow down later, gather the pumpkins and set them out on the front porch on top a layer of straw.
Duo was planning the annual neighborhood party the Saturday before Halloween. Heero could already see jack-o-lantern faces carved and flickering lights from hollowed centers. Each year, kids of all ages filled the yard, and parents crowded the house; everyone a neighbor and friend, and every one of them known.
Heero turned while still crouched, and peered through the dawn's gray light to the backdoor. Duo was sleeping while he dressed, but would likely be awake by now. He smiled absently, and finished wiping the frost from the pumpkin. Ten years together and lacked nothing.
A neighbor's screen door creaked and Heero turned to see it partly open, a glimpse of a robe covered figure closing it once again. He heard the jangle of tags and stood. The black lab nosed its way around the yard, lifted his leg, remarked his territory, and moved to the next bush. Heero began to walk toward the fence and even then, the dog beat him to it.
"Hey Jack," he said softly reaching over the wire mesh. Heero scratched the dog's ears and let him lick his hand. Jack the Ripper, the animal was named as a pup. Never was there a better example for keeping children from naming anything. As a pup, ‘Jack' was less than vicious and as an adult, he was even gentler. Heero heard the door creak again, and looked up that way. He saw the wave, and waved back. "Get back inside now, boy," he told the dog. "Mary will have some breakfast waiting."
Jack gave a soft woof, and spun around, dashing with a speed borne in young dogs towards home and warmth.
The sun was nearly cresting when Heero made his way back to the porch. He pulled his gloves off, stuffed them into a jacket pocket, and opened the back door. Duo was standing at the counter with a coffee cup in hand. Heero offered a slight smile, shutting the door behind him and began to remove his coat. Duo was watching, offered his own smile in return, and reached up to bring down another mug.
Heero paused in slipping his coat off; Duo's shirt pulled up exposing a short span of skin. He turned away, hanging his coat up on its hook. The socks told the story, and for a moment, Heero wished he'd been there to witness Duo's barefoot dash from bed to dresser, pulling on sweatpants, socks, and flannel shirt.
Knowing Duo's aversion, Heero stood at Duo's back and nuzzled his cheek upside Duo's neck, chuckling softly at Duo's shiver. "We could always put carpet..."
"No!" Duo's tone was sharp, but he was smiling. "I have to remember to dig out the mocs. Or wear socks to bed."
"They won't last long," Heero told him accepting the mug and taking a tentative first sip. "Pumpkins are ready for carving." He moved to lean against the counter next to Duo. "I'll bring them up this afternoon."
Duo nodded, cradling his cup. "Too soon to cut them up. Might have to have a little pre-party Wednesday." Duo grinned and Heero lifted a hand to brush an escaped strand from Duo's face. His fingers lingered in a caress.
Setting his mug aside, he leaned forward and kissed Duo. He drew back slowly, watching Duo. Heero was getting caught again, was being pulled into how Duo's eyes expressed what he was feeling.
Another one hundred years would pass and he and Duo would never be lacking in anything.