Alec leaned forward in his seat during the drive home, chatting with Dark and making small talk. As much as he was trying not to, he felt bad they hadn't been together yesterday when Dark had been struggling. Mentally and logically, he knew that they likely wouldn't have been much if any help, and possibly even made it worse, but they were family. Shouldn't family be together no matter what? But then again, sometimes the best way to heal was to do things on their own, or just to better connect with the other person. Sometimes parents needed to be without children, sometimes children needed to be without parents, and sometimes there needed to be some mix of the previous two. Logically, it didn't make much sense, but in his heart, he felt guilty. Since he couldn't time travel backward and change their choices, and he really didn't want to give up the day he'd had with Xander, he resolved to make up for it today.
Xander didn't say anything as he sat back, watching out the window. When they got home, Xander took a detour to the kitchen and rousted out a couple of black trash bags and a large box. Then he headed upstairs to his room, stuck the bags and the box in the corner, and paused to look at himself in the mirror. He looked different with his hair actually semi-neat and wearing something without a single hole in it. So much of himself had been an affectation. Things he wore or attitudes he adopted to suit the situation, spite someone, or protect Alec. Oh, there was plenty underneath the surface that was genuinely him, but how much of what he saw in the mirror was him? Actually him? Did he even like piercings, or was he just doing it for the shock? Did he like his clothes? They were really cold in the winter. Did he even like himself? Did he like who he was? Whoever that was?
He leaned forward and gave himself a stern look. "If figuring yourself out is such a big deal to you that you almost left your brother, then it's about damn time you start figuring it out!" he told himself. "No more whining, just doing. It might take a while, but we gotta start somewhere, right? So let's go."
He turned and surveyed the room. Most of his stuff was on one side while Alec had taken over the other. They might often share a bed for comfort's sake, but they still had their own distinct sections of the room. Alec's lava lamp burbled happily on the bedside table, and his side was full of art paraphernalia. Books lay in a stack around his side, books of al sorts. Xander mostly had his leather working stuff and the light green snake. He had a couple of books tucked away, one of them a well-thumbed book on horse breeds, but not much else. He started with the snake. He set that on his little-used bed. Keeping. The brown and white dog went into the box. Donating. Then he sat on the floor and started going through his clothes one at a time. Things too worn went into the trash bags. Things that looked in decent shape went into the box. He kept anything neutral, folding it up neatly and setting it on the bed. Every now and then he paused and listened, making sure he knew about where Alec was before going back to work.
Alec walked in as Xander reached the halfway point. He looked around at the items strewn around the room. "Do you, uh, need any help?" he asked uncertainly.
Xander shook his head. "Just... decluttering. Something I gotta do."
"Do you want some working music?" Alec suggested.
Xander paused and glanced at Alec. "Yeah, that sounds good. I didn't realize how quiet it was."
Alec smiled and set up the player, going down to borrow one of Daizi's CDs. Then he turned to his side of the room and started clearing out, as well. He didn't get rid of nearly as many things as Xander did, but it was good to go through, remind himself of what he had, and tidy things up. He hadn't realized how scattered some things had gotten, especially clothes, probably because of all the times he'd done a frantic grab-and-dash when in a rush. The pair didn't talk outside of work-related topics, just worked their way through the room. They agreed to put all of their books on the tiny bookshelf and not bother splitting it for now and ask Dark if he might be willing to buy or make them a new one for Alec's books so Xander could have the small one. They gave opinions on each other's items when they were torn. They had a lot of different things, but in one way, they were united: Anything to do with Declan other than the lava lamp and the snake went into the donation box. Everything.
When they finished, Alec carefully placed the rabbit Dark had won for him at the claw machine at the head of the bed. Xander laid the snake in a circle on his bed. Then they stood back and gave each other a nod. Their room hadn't been this tidy since they'd moved in.
"Do you want to hear my idea for the wall painting?" Alec asked Xander.
Xander nodded. "Hit me."
"Okay, picture a gradient of our favorite colors, both of ours, on that wall there."
"That wall has a window. Won't that ruin the effect?"
"Maybe, but that's the wall we share. Anyway, whichever wall, it's a gradient of colors going up one wall, up to the ceiling, and then fading to white about halfway across the ceiling."
"Sounds kind of like an abstract rainbow. I like it, as long as it's not an actual rainbow."
"I think I can arrange that."
"Then we have a deal."