Author's Note: This story if for Flufftober 2022. It's prompt 12. "You kept this?" I'm posting a day early as I won't have a chance tomorrow. This story takes place in the MTF universe way in the future.


The upper shelf of the walk-in closet bulged with the detritus of years. Emma and Clay made a habit of storing things they didn't want to part with, but wouldn't need regularly, up there. The problem with this practice arose when they did require something from the pile of stuff. Locating the desired item became a challenge.

Poking around at the belongings stacked at one end of the shelf, Emma tried to visualize the last time she saw the floral-patterned wrap her grandmother gifted her ages ago. She didn't wear the garment often as she found the pattern busier than she liked. But the flower colors would pair well with the yellow dress she was wearing for Lanie's high school graduation.

She should have spent time searching for the wrap earlier, but she had been busy all day preparing for the party they were holding tomorrow to celebrate their daughter's achievement.

Halfway down the shelf and there was no sign of the shawl. However, she did come across a sweatshirt of Clay's she swore she had thrown away. Frowning, she pushed the tattered garment aside to deal with later.

Just as she decided to quit her search and settle for a cardigan, Emma spied a corner of material with the remembered floral motif. Rising on her tiptoes, she reached back and snagged the edge of the cloth. She tugged gently, hoping to free the garment from the surrounding objects, but something held it fast. Impatient, she pulled harder, freeing the wrap and most of the items surrounding it.

Quickly, Emma jumped back to avoid being hit by the falling objects. With a clatter, everything hit the floor. Sighing, she frowned at the mess strewn around her feet. Among the jumble, a wooden box lay partially open with the contents spilling out.

Biting her lip, Emma knelt and picked it up. The box, one of Clay's few possessions from his time in Liberia with his grandparents, had minor damage, but could be easily fixed by tightening a screw in one of the lid hinges. Relieved she hadn't caused any permanent harm she began collecting the items that had been stored inside.

Smiling, she flipped through a stack of old photos. The love between Clay and his grandparents was obvious in every picture. Whenever Clay had shown these to her, she marveled at how blond and curly his hair was.

She tucked the prints back into the box and picked up a tattered envelope. The glue holding it together had dried out, releasing the contents from inside. Two small rectangles of paper fluttered to the floor. Gathering them up, Emma glanced at the writing on each. Her forehead wrinkled as she read the text. She held a ticket for a ride on the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and another for admission to the observatory at the Empire State Building.

Tickets like these didn't exist anymore. Everyone used their phone for e-tickets now. She couldn't remember the last time she needed paper tickets for anything. Wondering how old these were, she checked the dates. Both were issued for March 21st of 2020. Her eyes widened as she realized the significance of the date.

"Hey, Em, we should get moving if we want to save seats for everyone." Clay's voice filtered to her in the closet. A moment later Clay stood in the doorway. "What are you doing?"

"You kept these?" Emma held out the tickets.

"Kept what?" Clay squinted at the papers in her hand. He didn't want to admit he needed reading glasses. "We really do need to go."

"Just a sec." Emma stood. "These are tickets from things we did together that day in New York City."

"Oh, those." The tips of Clay's ears turned pink. "How did you find them?"

She grinned. He was adorable when he tried to pretend he wasn't being sentimental. "I was searching for a wrap, and when I pulled it off the shelf, your carved box fell." She placed the box back on the shelf. "I found the tickets when I picked up everything that fell out of it." Stepping closer, she looked up at him through her eyelashes. "You saved them all these years?"

He gave her a bashful smile. "Of course, they were from our first date."

"But our first date was in June after you asked my dad for permission."

Clay shook his head. "I am never going to live the permission thing down, am I?"

She placed her hands on his chest. "Nope. On our fiftieth anniversary I'm going to remind you of it. But right now, I want the details on you saving souvenirs from our day together in New York."

"I guess I knew, even if it was subconsciously, that you were the one for me."

"Oh, you're so sweet." She leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to his lips.

"You know what's sweet?" Clay's voice took on an intimate tone, sending shivers of desire down Emma's spine.

"What's that?"

"You. You look beautiful in this dress." Sliding his arms around her, Clay returned her kiss in earnest.

Wrapped in each other's arms, they stood in the closet doorway. The tickets, the wrap, and their need to leave for the high school forgotten.

"Oh. My. God." Lanie stood in the center of their bedroom with her hands on her hips. "Do you two ever stop? We're going to be late for my high school graduation because you're too busy making out!"

Clay and Emma broke apart.

"Someday you'll find someone you want to make out with, and you'll understand." Emma smoothed her hair where Clay had mussed it up.

"Oh, no, there's no making out in the convent." Clay rested an arm around Emma's shoulders. "And that's where she'll be going for college."

Lanie rolled her eyes, making no reply to her father's comment. "Are you two ready to leave now?" Turning to the door, she shook her head as she started to leave. "So embarrassing. None of my friends' parents are like this."

Emma and Clay exchanged a smile. Taking the wrap from his wife, Clay draped it around her shoulders. "Shall we?"

As they walked out the door, Clay leaned over and whispered in Emma's ear. "Her friends' parents don't know what they're missing."