My dear readers,

I apologize that this finale has taken so long. I hope you enjoy :)

Chapter Fifty-five: Goodnight

The Onodera-Takano family arrived home late that night, and both of the girls were yawning as they took they shoes off and set their backpacks down. Their two dads were also looking weary, though they knew they had more work to do before bed.

Despite this, Ritsu had a slight smile on his face as he took off his coat. Today's events at work had been quite unexpected, and he was still reeling from it all.

The family, in an effort to relax from the busy day, had eaten dinner at a local diner. When they had first started going they had usually gotten take-out, as to avoid the unscrupulous stares at their lifestyle, but as the owner and employees had gotten to know the two men and their daughters, they had fully accepted them into the fold, and always welcomed them warmly. Though they couldn't stop the stares of other patrons, tonight had been an unexpected pleasure when a newlywed couple came over to their table and gushed about how simply adorable their daughters were. It seemed a small token to some, but to Masamune and Ritsu, it had made them immeasurably happy. The times were indeed changing.

Seeing that the twins were probably too tired for a bath, Masamune yawned and kneeled down in front of them, helping them pull off their coats and hats.

"Rit-chan, Masa-chan, why don't you go change into your pajamas? It's just about your bedtime."

Too wiped to protest, the girls nodded and headed towards their room, but not before making one last request.

"Papa," Masako said quietly. "Will you read us a story?"

Masamune smiled. "Of course. Go get ready and I'll be there in a moment."

As soon as the girls had gone, Masamune's smile left his face and he flopped down onto the living room couch, nearly crushing an orange tabby cat in the process.

"Sorry Tama-chan," he mumbled as the cat gave him an accusatory glare. "Hell, I am so beat."

"Do you want any tea?" Ritsu said, standing behind the couch and gently running his fingers through his lover's hair.

"Nah. I'm going to get those proofs done and hit the sack."

Ritsu nodded with a slight smile. "By the way, how long did you know about today?"

Masamune turned slightly sheepish. "An editor named Aikawa told me three days ago."

Ritsu gave his partner's dark head a playful shove and crossed his arms. "You know I don't like surprises, Masamune."

Takano smiled. "Well it worked, didn't it? You nearly cried."

"I did not," Ritsu muttered, though they both knew it was a lie.

Today after dropping the twins off at Rurouri-sensei's, Ritsu had headed up to the literature department and when he had stepped out of the elevator, he was greeted with a bellowing "Surprise!"

The entire department was covered in balloons, streamers and other decorations. It hadn't been like this that morning and Ritsu's jaw had dropped. His bewilderment heightened when Takano unexpectedly snuck up behind him and pulled him into a light kiss in front of everyone.

"What—what's all this?" he had said.

Isaka, who was also present, stepped forward and handed Ritsu a shiny wooden plaque, that was engraved with the words "Marukawa Shoten's Editor of the Year Award: Onodera Ritsu."

"Congratulations," Isaka smiled. "You've proven to this whole company that your talent is not based on genetics, but by your own merit."

Applause had erupted after that and a few hours were set aside for an office party, which the editors of Emerald also joined. Ritsu's eyes were blurry as he held the plaque in his hand, the other intertwined with Masamune's.

Even now as the plaque sat carefully wrapped in his bag, Ritsu felt his heart churn with emotion. Not with confusion or anger, but unfathomable happiness.

"I think we ought to hang that plaque near the door," Masamune spoke. "So you can see it every time you go to work."

Ritsu laughed under his breath, which brought an even bigger smile to Masamune's lips.

"I also can't wait to tell your parents next time we visit them," Masamune added.

Ritsu hummed thoughtfully, his heart grateful that with his father's support his mother had indeed come around, and loved her granddaughters every bit as much as their parents did.

Masamune turned his head and gave Ritsu a wink. "You know Ritsu, we could finish those proofs tomorrow."

"What? Is the head editor of Emerald becoming a slacker now?" Ritsu teased.

"Hardly," Masamune said. "There are just bigger priorities right now, like getting you out of those clothes."

Rather than scoff, Ritsu merely smiled and wrapped his arms around his partner's neck, inhaling the musky scent he knew so well now.

"Come here," Masamune whispered, leaning into the touch. Ritsu walked around the couch and sat down next to him, and their mouths joined as they shared a tender kiss. They held each other for several, quiet minutes, reveling in the warmth and love they shared.

"Papa, daddy," a drowsy Ritsuka called. "Are you coming?"

"Yes, dear," Ritsu replied. They released each other after one more kiss and gathered some of their girls' books off the coffee table, including one the twins knew very well.

They went into their daughters' room and sat down on the floor near the edge of Masako's bed. Masamune took out the first book and began to read in a quiet, but soothing voice.

"Once upon a time in Spain, there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand. All the other little bulls he lived with would run and jump and butt their heads together…but not Ferdinand. He liked to sit just quietly, and smell the flowers…"

They hadn't even gotten to the end before their beautiful girls were fast asleep, and as they tucked them in for the night, both of the men planted kisses on their small foreheads and left the room.

A few minutes later found the two weary fathers in their own bed, tucked in each other's arms. Although their spirits were willing, their bodies were far too tired for anything but cuddling tonight, but as long as they were together, it didn't matter in the least.

"Goodnight Ritsu," Masamune whispered as sleep began to take him. "I love you."

"Goodnight," Ritsu replied, tears gathering in the corners of his eyes. "I love you too."

The End.

"Before you go to sleep, take my hand…Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."—John Lennon

I simply cannot describe what a journey this fic has been for me, and I am so grateful to all of you for your continued support. I hope that in addition to my new stories, I will be able to finish some of the old ones as well, especially "Digamma."

I hope that despite how much time has passed that I will hear from you all, for each and every one of you has been an important part of this.

This chapter is dedicated to Cerberus, for his idea, his support, and the constant inspiration he has given and will continue to give me.

So dear readers, I am both happy and sad to say Goodnight to you all. It has truly been a pleasure.

With love and gratitude,

The Black Flamingo 101