Notes: The final chapter! Hope you enjoyed the ride. If you did, then I've got plenty more planned for these characters. Also, all of this chapter is completely unplanned. Even I didn't know what was going to happen! It's nice to be surprised by your own characters every now and again.
Japanese words used:
Nii-chan - Older brother (indicates closeness)
Okaeri - Welcome home
Tadaima - I'm home
Oyasumi nasai - Goodnight
Onii-san - Older brother (more formal)
He-e? – Really? (this looks really strange written like this, but it would be pronounced in two syllables - "ヘえ" - and this is the only way I could think of to write it) Note that each 'e' is short.
Un – Yes (affirmative noise)
Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu - Happy Birthday
Nii-san - Older brother (More formal than Nii-chan, but less than Onii-san)
"Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu, Shiro-kun!" Keith smiled, waking his partner. "Twenty years old today! I must get you a cake!" Toshiro smiled back.
"What, no cake? You know how Mei-chan loves cake. You forgot? Shame on you!" Keith grinned.
"Only joking. Hey, here." He pushed a small box into Toshiro's hands. Carefully, the other opened it, and gasped. Keith shifted, looking uncomfortable suddenly.
"I tried to think of a more romantic way of giving it to you, but you know I'm crap at that…so I just…" He was cut off as Toshiro kissed him firmly.
"You don't have to apologise for anything, Kii-chan. It's romantic enough. But…aren't you supposed to ask me something?" Keith blushed in embarrassment. Of all the things to forget…
"Eh, I was kind of wondering if you would want to…erm…marry civil partnership thingy…with me." Keith blushed even deeper. He sounded so stupid! Thankfully, Toshiro didn't care.
"Even though you've only known me two years? Even though I spend half my time looking after my little sister, and all the trouble we've caused you?"
"Yep. Even though you leave your stuff all over the place and made my house a mess. I still want you."
"Then yes." Keith felt like he had just won the lottery. Toshiro had actually agreed! But there was just one thing more.
"Are you going to take the rings out then, or sit looking at them for ages?" Toshiro smiled.
"But they look so shiny there! And anyway, isn't there supposed to be only one?"
"Ah, well, I kind of didn't know what to do, 'cause neither of us is a girl, so I just got two…so…" Gently, Toshiro slipped one of the matching rings onto his boyfriend's finger. Carefully, Keith picked up the other ring, and returned the favour, before leaning in to kiss Toshiro. The Japanese boy kissed back just as fiercely. How far they had come in only a few months! Toshiro's confidence had almost completely recovered, and Mei was as bouncy as ever. Thinking of Mei, it sounded like she was up already, and moving towards their room.
"Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu, Nii-chan!" Mei burst in, then stopped, seeing her brother and Keith kissing. Slowly, they broke apart.
"Ohayo gozaimasu, Mei-chan!" Toshiro greeted her, still holding on to Keith. Mei paused for a moment, then walked over to the bed and gave Toshiro a package wrapped carefully in brightly coloured paper. Disentangling himself from Keith, Toshiro sat up, and began to open the parcel. It was a book.
"How Stuff Works," Toshiro read slowly, looking at the cover. Mei smiled.
"Do you like it, Nii-chan? We thought you would. Onii-san said it explained interesting things. Can I see it too?" Toshiro nodded, and Mei moved around so she could see better. The book was filled with pictures, explaining everything from aeroplanes to tattoos. Toshiro couldn't understand all of it, but he was sure that with Keith's help he would be able to read it.
"It's lovely, Mei-chan. Thank you very much." Mei smiled.
"I'm glad you like it. But I must go now, or I will be late."
"OK, Mei-chan. We'll see you in a few minutes." Mei nodded at Keith's words, and bounced off downstairs. Both men watched her go.
"She's still so full of life," Toshiro smiled, hearing Mei make her breakfast. Keith pulled him into a tight hug.
"Of course she is. Mei's tough. Nothing'll ever beat her."
"Mmm," Toshiro agreed. They sat in silence for a few moments, then Keith got up.
"Mei-chan's right, you know. We have to get up or we'll be late. Come on, you have to go to work too." Smiling, the two got dressed and headed downstairs.
While he was working, Keith thought back to the events leading up to that morning. He thought about the court proceedings, and the counselling that both Mei and Toshiro had received. He looked back in sorrow to the times when Mei would be unable to sleep, and would look to Toshiro and him for comfort, going to find them late at night. He remembered the countless times he had held Toshiro while he cried himself to sleep at his own failure. But that was all better now. Slowly, the three of them had got over the incident, and moved on to happier times. Keith had told the truth when he said that it would get better. Now their lives were better than ever. Both he and Toshiro were earning a good wage, and Mei was back at school doing as well as ever. And now, Keith had finally asked Toshiro to, for lack of a better word, marry him, and Toshiro had agreed. Yes, life was very good.
"Do you think we should tell them," Toshiro asked cautiously, startling Keith out of his reflections.
"Eh? What?" Toshiro smiled lovingly.
"You weren't listening again, were you? I was asking if we should tell the others about…us." Keith felt cold.
"Um, I'm not sure that it would be a good idea. I mean, if you want to, then I'm not ashamed, but…" He was cut off as one of the other mechanics called over to them.
"Oi, fag! You're not chatting him up, are you? 'Cause if you are, go somewhere else!" Both Toshiro and Keith tried to stifle grins.
"No, Rick. I'm not. And what would it matter to you, anyway? You got your eye on him or something?" Keith called back. At that, the mechanic Rick got angry, and tried to go over to the two, but his friend stopped him.
"You'll pay for that remark, you filthy little…" he screamed, then stopped as the manager stepped out of his office.
"Is there a problem?" the manager asked calmly. Rick fumed quietly, not wanting their superior to be involved in the conflict.
"No, sir," Keith answered. The manager smirked knowingly, and paused for a few moments.
"Very well then, get back to work," he said, returning to his office. When he was gone, the four workers breathed a sigh of relief.
"Keith, you should apologise," Toshiro whispered to his friend. Grudgingly, Keith agreed.
"OK, I'm sorry I said that. I should have known that someone as homophobic as you would never check out boys. Your loss."
"Well, you…" Rick started to reply, but he was cut off again by the manager.
"Will you lot get back to work? I pay you to fix cars, not squabble like little kids. Now get on with your jobs!" With a last glare, Rick and his friend went back to their separate tasks, and Toshiro and Keith continued what they were doing. In seemingly no time, it was the end of the day. Even though Mei was doing full days at school now, she still got home before them.
"Okaeri!" she called as they entered.
"Tadaima," Toshiro replied as he and Keith left their shoes at the door. Keith had adopted that custom quickly, as it meant less mud on his carpets, and so less cleaning. Taking a bit longer to get in the house was a small price to pay. It diminished to insignificance when he got to look at Toshiro in front of him, bending down to untie his boots. Unable to resist, he patted his boyfriend lightly on the backside, which made Toshiro jump.
"You could've warned me," he grumbled, but Keith only laughed. He wouldn't trade Toshiro for anything.
"Oyasumi nasai, Nii-chan, Onii-san," Mei smiled sleepily as her two guardians left after reading her a story. Suddenly, Keith turned back to face her.
"You needn't be so formal any more, Mei-chan. I'm part of your family now," he whispered. Mei smiled, although he couldn't see her in the darkness.
"Oyasumi nasai, Nii-san." She yawned, before settling into a deep sleep. Outside, Toshiro smiled at him.
"You've always been part of our family, ever since we met you. Any ceremony is just a formality.
"You do realise that it won't be for ages yet, that we need to plan everything?" Toshiro moved back slightly and wrapped himself around Keith's arm.
"Of course I do. Don't worry about it now. It will all be OK. You said it would." Keith smiled to himself.
"Of course it will, Shiro-kun. Always."