Several years later...

Malcolm straightened his tie, looking at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. College had treated him kindly; the awkward teenage years were long past.

Lois poked her head through the doorway, gesturing at her earrings. "What do you think?" she asked, turning from side to side so he could get a better look. "Too flashy for this kind of thing?"

He rolled his eyes. "Mom, it's Dewey's high school graduation, not his wedding. No one is going to care about your outfit."

She snapped her fingers with a soft frown. "Don't take that tone with me, mister." She popped back out of the frame. "I'm going help Piama with her dress," she called. "Reese is going to check on you in five minutes, so you'd better be ready to go by then! We're running late as it is."

"Okay," he yelled back, turning to the mirror and combing his hair one last time. He took a step back and examined his suit. Nodding in satisfaction, he glanced at the picture on the sink.

The picture Hal took on Thanksgiving all those years ago. Francis standing between Malcolm and Reese with his arms around them, a smile plastered on all of their faces.

He was between them still, though not as a barrier, as he once had been. He existed now as a shared secret, a private reminder of guilt and pain. That Reese was willing to share the burden was a blessing for which Malcolm would remain eternally grateful. It wasn't until he came clean that he'd fully recognized how hard it had been to carry the weight of that knowledge around by himself.

"Francis, I swear..." he murmured, touching the picture frame affectionately. The weight on his conscience had diminished over time, but it was still there. Malcolm didn't mind. It meant he was still human. Turning away he looked around the bathroom. So many memories in this place. His heart could barely take it.

He cocked his head at the sound of a knock. Reese stood leaning against the doorframe with an expectant grin. "You ready?" he asked.

Malcolm nodded. "Just about. You?"

"Yep. Mom's in the car. She said to tell you to move your ass."

Malcolm snorted. "Alright, I'm coming."

Reese examined him carefully, nodding in approval. He glanced around to make sure no one was around, then grabbed Malcolm's tie, pulling him closer. "I love you so much," he whispered.

Malcolm placed a hand on his chest, and leaned up to kiss him softly. "I love you, too."

They had made it. They had survived. The scars of the past were ever present, but together, they could endure it all.

Reese jerked his head, gesturing to the door. "Shall we?"

Malcolm grabbed his hand. "Let's."

Reese squeezed his hand and then released it, and together they plunged into an uncertain future.


AN: And there you have it. That's the end of the story.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. There won't be a sequel to this particular fanfic because I feel like I've done everything I wanted to with it. Which is not to say that I'll never write another Malcolm/Reese story. (They are one of my favorite pairings, and unfortunately, there aren't a lot of fics out there about them. So I might have to help rectify that. We shall see...)

Anyway, thanks to everyone who reviewed/will review, and more importantly, to everyone who read/will read. It's been great!