I've absolutely loved writing this story. I love these characters, this family, and Rose and Toby have stolen my heart, just like they have all of yours. I can't thank you guys enough for taking another chance on one of my fics, for loving it as much as I do, if not more. Every review, I have read and they truly made my days better. All of the questions you guys have messaged me about Deaf/hoh culture or my life, have made me love this fandom even more than I already do. So thank you. To each and every one of you for loving this story.
Thank you to Kyla713 for always correcting my words and not wanting to disown me as a friend. To Mo, who is like my other sister, thank you for always encouraging me, letting me know that I am too critical of myself, that all of this really is that good.
Lastly...I hope you enjoy this last look at this family. I will never be able to thank you, the readers, for going on this short journey with me.
Twenty- five years later.
My now twenty-eight-year-old daughter stood in front of a mirror, looking like an absolute angel. Her hair was flowing down her back, curls here and there. It was so long and thick now, that you couldn't even notice her cochlear. You could barely even notice that she was once a quiet, deaf girl. Most were surprised when they found out, and sometimes, her voice still held the sound of a deaf person speaking—mumbled words, soft voice, missed letters in words—but most of the time, you'd never guess it, unless you knew her.
I stood behind her, admiring how far she'd come from the time she was a little girl that would snuggle up to me, to the woman she had become. I took in her long white dress and smiled. Emotions I couldn't even describe began to bubble up inside of me.
The most prominent one, though, was pride. She proved so many wrong throughout her life and just kept going, not giving a care in the world.
Her gaze looked up in the mirror as her hands flattened at her dress. "Daddy." Her voice trembled with emotion. She turned around and faced me, her hand going up to sign I love you in that special way she used to do when she was two years old and running back inside from the cold snow.
"Yes, my little love?" I replied, trying to smile without letting tears fall.
I never got tired of my nickname for her, no matter how much she grew up. She was always my little love, even if I was giving her away that day.
"Do you remember that snow fight when I finally got Toby back for all the years he got me? Square in the back of the head?" Her smile was soft, sweet.
"I do. It was about time, too. Though, your brother wasn't as happy." It only took until Rose was about five to finally get him, and when she did, she let out the biggest howl of laughter. Toby stood there, looking not pleased at all, yet you could tell he was proud of her. She had been trying since she was two, anyway."
"Remember how he said he'd get me back?" she asked, grabbing for my hands and slipping something inside.
I pulled my hand up and opened it, finding a small white fluffy ball with a latch on the outside. I looked up at my daughter, tilting my head in question.
"He bought that locket for me. Said he found it in some gift shop and it reminded him of a snowball. This was his way of getting back at me, I suppose, since we no longer have snowball fights. Honestly, I think he's just mad I can get him now." She laughed, her speech sounding so much stronger after years of therapy. She was able to quit Speech when she was eleven. We were so incredibly proud, and continued to be. "Open it, Dad."
So, I did. Inside, I found a paper of certificate of adoption with a note attached. I recognized her writing right away.
In about five weeks, you'll get to meet Eli. He reminds me of Toby and I mixed together. He's three years old and completely deaf. Jason and I knew he'd be perfect for this family. I can't wait to help him sign Grandpa to you.
I love you to the moon and back, Daddy.
Your little love.
A sob broke free of me, as I pulled her into me, trying to be mindful of her hair, makeup and dress. I held her to me, not wanting to let her go, but knowing that once I did , I'd be gaining so much more.
"I can't wait to meet him. I am so proud of you and Jason, and I couldn't ask for a better man to be my son-in-law." I sighed, wiping at my face. "All through your life, you have given me the best gifts. And this is no exception. I love you to the moon and back, too."
A knock at the door broke us apart. It was Toby, all dressed up in a tux. He'd been married for the last five years, but had no kids yet. He turned out to be an amazing man. He was now an audiologist, which he credited Rose for him choosing that field. All through the years, he'd never stopped being there for her. He was there to protect her from bullies, help her through a broken heart, and they comforted each other when we sadly lost Buster.
Buster was fourteen years old when we took him into the vet and they found a huge mass in his bowel. We tried chemo and surgery, but it was too much for our Buster. We came down one morning and found that he'd left our world sometime during the night. The kids were devastated. We never did get another dog. Nothing could replace our Buster.
"Hey Dad, Rose...Mom says it's almost time. She's given you and Dad enough time, she says, so she wants to get you sorted one last time." He then walked in and closed the door. "I love you, Rose. You are everything I could ever want in a sister and then some." He hugged her, and then nodded his head to me for us to go.
I kissed my Rose one last time before leaving her to be with her mom. As I walked down the hall, Bella stopped me, and pulled me in for a kiss.
"You have one last duty. You've got to walk our beautiful daughter down the aisle." She slipped a tiny bottle into my hand, and I looked down and noticed it was whiskey. "I think you might need that," she said and began walking away as she laughed.
All too soon, I was standing outside dark double doors, with Rose's arm looped through mine as the wedding march began to play. I squeezed her to me one last time, kissing her cheek softly. As we walked down the aisle, I took in everyone's faces. There was Alice and Jasper and their children, her doctors that helped her become the woman she was today, and numerous friends and family. Yet, the one face that stood out was my wife's and her smile as we took each new step towards my daughter's new beginning. I looked up toward the altar, and found Jason, signing I love you over and over to her with tears in his eyes.
Time felt like it stood still when I lifted my daughter's veil and placed her hand in her soon to be husband's, but her smile was one I'd never forget. It looked as if it could light up the whole room. Just before I turned away, she leaned in and kissed my cheek.
"Thank you, Dad. I love you."
I nodded. It was all I could do. The emotions were just too much.
I sat down next to Bella and grabbed her hand, squeezing three times.
Another chapter was closing, but the future was beautiful.
Thank you for reading. Thank you to all of those that may have Rec'd this story. Thank you for loving this family as much as I do.