A/N: I just can't leave well enough alone, can I? I just have to keep on writing, don't I? Please don't answer those questions. *very, very long pause* Um… anyways, this chapter is short because it is the epilogue!!! That means that Rain and Confetti is finally over. So sad, so sad. I want to thank everyone who has ever read this story and/or reviewed it. YOU MAKE ME SO HAPPY! Anyways, now on with the show.
The California sun smiled down on a beautiful sprawling green lawn, which incidentally was the property of an enormous pink-brick mansion. The mansion rose high into the pristine summer sky, the many levels of its black-shingled roof shining as though made of glass, white marble pillars flanking the ornate double front door. It was truly a sight to be seen, a glamorous home like somewhere a movie star would dwell, with a glistening swimming pool tucked away beside a tidy cement patio and a hand-carved wooden swing nestled in among bursting flowerbeds. Today, the backyard of the house was filled with sound and people, and the atmosphere was cheery.
Women in pearls and cotton sundresses and men in white shirts, vests and dress pants, some with children clinging to their legs, milled around in one acre of the seven-acre backyard and drank champagne. There were tables laid out, spread with flowered cloths and with hundreds of different dishes for lunch. People passed by with china plates and took their fill to eat, except for the children, who didn't bother with the plates but elected instead to grab chicken wings or cookies with their sticky fingers and sit beneath the table to eat them. The talk among the crowd was genial and friendly, and when the guests of honour came into sight the women would shriek and hug them, and the men would shake their hands in congratulation. Why? Because this was a very unconventional wedding reception.
Josh Wood was making his rounds now – it was his job, as one half of the newly married couple. If married is the word you can use, he thought, laughing to himself. As he walked by the pool, cautioning a group of energetic little boys not to trip and fall in, he caught his reflection in the shiny water. His hair had greyed slightly around his ears; but after all, he was in his late forties now, so it was to be expected. He had a few little lines in the smooth, tanned skin around his eyes and mouth, but he liked them. They were there from smiling. He looked after himself, too – he was still thin as ever and determined to keep things that way. Although Josh was less than enthused about the looming approach of his fiftieth birthday, he still liked what he saw when he looked in the mirror.
He strolled past the pool and back over to the tables, eager to speak to his friends and family. He'd seen little of them all day, because he'd been so busy with the ceremony and now with supervising the lunch. But before he could approach anyone else, he was approached, himself.
"It's almost time to bring the cake out," said a man who was roughly the same age and build as Josh, but with grey hair that was dyed a very convincing brown. He looked exhausted and frantic, his shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows and little beads of sweat on his forehead.
"Calm down, Dennis. We have people to do that for us."
"I know, but what if they drop it?"
Josh laughed. "They won't drop it. It's their job to carry cakes. If they were prone to dropping things, don't you think they would have chosen a different profession?"
Dennis stared at him for a few moments, and then answered, "I guess so."
"Relax. This is supposed to be a special day for us." He reached out and squeezed Dennis' shoulder reassuringly.
"I know." He smiled and kissed Josh on the cheek. "I love you."
* * *
"Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention for just a moment." An attractive woman of about forty-five had taken the stage – or, the section of lawn that held a flower-adorned platform. She held a microphone in one hand, and with the other she was repeatedly pulling her layered brown hair back behind her ear. "You all know me, and if you don't, well, my name is Sarah Young. I'm a good friend of Josh's, and I'd just like to say a few words for him and Dennis." Everyone applauded, and Sarah smiled and continued speaking. "I'm so happy that Josh has found this man. When he was younger he went through a big crisis, and after that, despite his attempts to move on, he found himself in a string of failed relationships. Then Dennis came along ten years ago, and good things started happening. He allowed himself to fall in love, and he didn't feel guilty about it. And you know what? That's how Rob would have wanted things. I just know it."
Josh smiled and Dennis took his hand reassuringly. He recalled Rob's words to him, from so long ago. "I don't want you to shut yourself down after I die. Don't be lonely for the rest of your days, out of respect for me. I want you to go on dates and fall in love again." And he smiled and instinctively looked up, where he knew and felt that someone very special was watching him.
That night, before Josh and Dennis climbed into bed, Josh rummaged around in the back of the closet for a bit. Dennis hadn't come upstairs yet, so he knew he had a few minutes to himself. He opened a small box, removed a crumpled photograph from under the false bottom, and smoothed it out on his knee. In the picture, Rob held him, still strong and healthy and smiling, and his eyes sparkled as though he were alive.
"I miss you," Josh whispered. "Please watch over Dennis, and keep him safe. Don't let me lose him the way I lost you."
Out in the dark street, a woman was passing by on the sidewalk. She wore a red raincoat and umbrella, although it had stopped raining long ago, and her eyes shone and twinkled like the stars. She looked up at the pink-brick mansion where Josh was putting his picture away and Dennis was ascending the stairs.
And she smiled, because she knew.