A/N: So we've come to an end. Thank you to everyone who stuck with this fic till the end, and thank you to everyone who reviewed, favorited, and followed. I'd also like to thank ohvalerievalerie, thequirkymind, and youknowexactlywhat from Tumblr, who've made/drawn some really amazing posters and fan art for this fic. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing my work portrayed visually, and so wonderfully by such talented people. Thank you.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this fic as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Here's one last chapter. :)
Epilogue: In the World of Hans
Twenty Years Later
I squint my eyes at the ceiling of the lecture hall, trying to remember Hooke's law and what it means. Hooke… I have a feeling that it has something to do with elasticity… Oh! The law of springs! Force is directly proportional to displacement. I lower my gaze to my exam and quickly write out what I remember from the assigned readings.
When I'm finished, I carefully check all of the answers I wrote for the questions, making sure that I made no mistakes. Once I'm satisfied, I gather my belongings and make my way down to the front of the lecture hall, where I hand my exam to my professor, Dr. Miller, with a small smile. He smiles back widely, accepts my exam, and says, "Thank you, Mr. Pierce. Have a pleasant break."
I nod in thanks. I was never much for physics, but Dr. Miller is pretty hip, and he likes me because I put a lot of effort into my work. With one last glance at my peers, I walk through the aisle to the back of the lecture hall and out the door to the warm, sunlit UCLA campus. Just outside the door, one of my good friends Billy is waiting for me, his lips stretched in a lopsided smirk and his fingers drumming a rhythm on his jeans. "How'd it go, man?" he asks, patting me on the back. "D'you fail?"
"I hope not," I smirk back, joining Billy as he begins to walk toward our dormitories. "Why?" I turn to him. "Did you?"
"Of course," he laughs, shaking his head. "Don't I always?"
"Nah," I shove him lightly. "Today's your lucky day, Billy, I can feel it."
Billy continues to shake his head, looking up at the sky with the dreamy expression he wears very often. "Say," he turns his head to me, "how's Tammy? You goin' steady or what?"
I shoot him a worried glance, but I can see that he's not joking around. "Yeah," I say finally, my eyes fixed on the trees that adorn the path. "Why?" I look at him uneasily. "You don't like her, do you?"
"No, man, she's all yours," he quickly assures me. "I've actually got my eyes on another skirt."
"Yeah?" I raise my eyebrows. "Who's that?"
"I'll give you a hint. Her name has four letters, starts with an A and ends with an A—"
"If you're talking about my aunt Anna again, you can forget about it," I shake my head and smile at his useless attempts to win her heart. "She's not interested in someone so young, and the last time you tried to make a move on her, my uncle Rolf almost sawed your fingers off."
"A man can dream," he says with a grand sigh, and I laugh, shaking my head again. You don't know stubborn till you've met Billy Hanwell.
It takes us around twenty minutes to reach the dormitories, and when we do, Billy grabs my arm and turns me to him. "I guess this is where we say our goodbyes, my fine man," he holds my hand in a handshake. "Have a blast on break, yeah? And put in a good word for me with Anna, will you?"
"Sure, but she won't go for it," I say with a playful smirk. Billy smirks back, pats me on the back, and turns away, holding his arms out and shouting to the empty street the American anthem, which he likes to do when he's mocking our lifestyle. I laugh and make my way through the building doors into the narrow hall of the dormitories.
When I get to my room, I see that a note has been taped on the door. I pull it off, drawing it near for closer examination.
I didn't have the chance to say goodbye, since we were both busy with exams. Have a nice break. See you sometime.
I smile at the note. It's simple, but I know that Tammy means much more through these words than is apparent to the naked eye. I thank my luck again for finding a girl like her. She's sweet, kind, and she cares about me. That's all I need. And my mothers like her. That's the most important thing. I wanted my mothers to like her.
I enter the room and close the door after me. My roommate, Jeffrey, had moved out yesterday, so I have the whole room to myself. I drop my pencil and eraser on the dresser and look at myself in the mirror that's pinned to the wall above it. Every time I look at myself, I always have Mama's voice running through my head—You look just like Mom. Same curious blue eyes, same long, elegant nose, same precious freckles, same mischievous smile. My two little angels.
I smile at the memory. I love it when she calls Mom and me her angels, though I'd never admit it to any of my friends. She's right, like Mama always is. I do look exactly like Mom. It's the greatest compliment anyone could ever give me, really—when Mama says I look like Mom and when Mom says I have Mama's personality. Mom always says I'm protective the way Mama always is. She says I consider the people I love to be my first priority, just as Mama always does. I'm proud of being like them, and I'm proud of being their son. I just wish other people wouldn't glare so obviously at us when we act too much like a family in public.
I push my loose blond hair away from my face, turn to my closet, and begin to pack. It doesn't take long since I don't have a load of belongings, and when I'm done, I lift my suitcases in both hands and take one last look at the room that served as my home for the past academic year. As much as I liked it here, living with friends and studying new fields, I missed home a whole lot, and it would be an understatement to say that I'm happy to go home now.
I leave the room, lock the door behind me, and walk to the dormitory's parking lot, where I lug my suitcases into the trunk of my car—not your regular open pipes, just a small machine with four wheels that can drive—and get into the driver's seat. I turn the radio on KFRC, back out of my parking space, and let myself get lost in thought, the way I always do on the long drives back home.
On this particular day, my mind decides to take me back to my childhood. The first thing I can remember from my childhood is my third birthday. I don't remember what had happened, I just remember a picture. I was sitting in Mom's lap, her strong arms wrapped around me, and there was a cake in front of me. Mama was lighting the candles with a match, a loving grin spread on her face, and she was looking at me the way she always did when she was happy—her eyes, though dark, seemed full of light, and I could find truth in what she'd always told me: Nothing, Hans, nothing makes me happy the way you and Mom do.
I remember asking Mom how it was that I had two mothers when everybody else had one mother and one father. She was quiet after I'd asked, and I couldn't understand it at the time, but looking back, I know that she was wondering how she should tell me something that's so hard to understand for so many people—that two women fell in love, and that two women were raising their son together. There had been times when people around us went ape. They shouted at Mom and Mama that their practices were acts of blatant sacrilege, that dyke lust, as they called it, was against God's will, that they deserve to burn in hell for their sins. Some said that they should go back to where they came from, and be thrown into the crematorium the way all faggots and dykes were, and deserved to be. It wasn't natural, they claimed. It was disgusting. My mothers tried to be a bit more discreet as the threats got worse, but in the end, we were a family, and there was no hiding that.
Sometimes, I tried to look at them from someone else's eyes. I tried to search for the source of hate. But no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find anything wrong that they'd done. I couldn't see anything disgusting about their relationship, and I couldn't understand why so many people said I should be removed from our home when my mothers had raised me so well, and given me much more love than any of the other kids' parents had. Other kids would come to school with bruises on their arms, saying, "My old man beat me with a belt last night," or, "My old lady gave me a good poundin' with her rolling pin." My mothers had never, and would never, raise a hand against me. As a child and as an adult, I completely trusted them both—something that isn't often seen in our times. Which led me again and again to the same question: Why were my mothers so hated when all they'd done was good?
The Nazi and the gypsy, people called them. Mom and Mama paid no attention, but I knew that deep down, they were hurting. Mom didn't like to be called a Nazi because she wasn't one, and never would be one, and Mama didn't like to be called a gypsy because it was derogatory. Which led me to question a lot as a child why exactly I had two German mothers, one of whom by all definitions was an Aryan and the other who identified as Romani.
They never told me why. They never told me how they'd met, or where, or when. They never spoke of my father. I didn't think that they were purposely hiding these things from me. I thought it was maybe too painful to discuss, and maybe they didn't think me mature enough to understand. After a while, I stopped asking. I knew that they'd tell me once they felt the time was right.
I used to ask Mama a lot about the tattoo on her left arm. Six numbers. 011287. She always evaded the questions, and I knew that it had something to do with her past, which she and Mom never discussed with me. But it didn't take long for me to find out. When I was eleven, I learned in school about Nazi Germany, and World War II, and the Holocaust. When I found out that prisoners were branded with numbers in concentration camps, numbers that looked exactly like what Mama had on her arm, I panicked. I ran home that day, straight into Mama's arms, and I cried for a long time because I finally knew the horrors that she went through. She held me until I calmed, and when I did, she explained to me that the past was behind her, and as much as her memories of that time were painful, her happiness now overpowered all of her sorrows. She told me that as long as she had me and Mom, she didn't care what had happened to her before, because we were her life, and that was all she cared about.
I knew she wasn't lying. Anyone who isn't clouded by homophobic views can see how in love my mothers are. Sometimes they just look into each other's eyes, and I can swear they're communicating without speaking. They'd look for a long time, and then Mom would smile, and Mama would laugh. It always feels like they're grateful for every day they spend together, every day they were able to raise me as their son, like there was once a possibility that things wouldn't turn out the way they did. They almost never fight, and when they do, they fight quietly, and it's always because one is trying to protect the other's wellbeing. They feel that life is too precious to spend in quarrels. So they make compromises, give way for the other, anything they have to do to keep each other happy, and to keep me happy.
It takes me around three hours to reach home. When I do, I park my car on the driveway, get my luggage, and walk excitedly toward our baby-blue front door. Mama always says the door matches my and Mom's eye color, which is why she wanted this house. Mom secretly tells me that Mama picks everything to be baby blue, and that when I was a baby, she refused to dress me in anything other than this color. "Baby blue matches his eyes," Mom said that she'd said. "It's the most beautiful color there is. We must cherish it."
I walk through the front door, but the house is quiet. I put down the suitcases and climb up the stairs two by two to see if they're sleeping in their room. They're not. I knit my eyebrows and look around. They must be home, it's after four. I climb down the stairs and make my way to the kitchen, which, I find, is also empty. I turn and look out the glass door to our yard. My mouth stretches into a grin. There they are.
They're sitting on the lawn swing, which faces away from the door, and Mom's head is leaning on Mama's shoulder. Mama's arm is wrapped around Mom's back, and she's slowly stroking Mom's hair the way Mom loves. I'm torn between wanting to run to them and wanting to stand here and watch them. They seem so peaceful, so tranquil, and it makes me happy to see them that way.
After a few moments of standing there, watching them, my desire to go to them wins. I slowly open the glass door, and they both instantly turn to me, beaming joyously. I smile back and make my way around the swing to hug them. They pull me down between them and embrace me in a tight hug. "Oh, Hans," Mom sighs. "How we've missed you."
"I missed you, too," I say, my voice muffled by their shirts. I pull back and smile again when I see that they're still grinning widely.
"How was the drive?" Mama asks, squeezing my hand.
"A drag, as usual," I say as I sit down at her side. "Not too bad, I guess."
"And your exams?" Mom asks, leaning forward a bit so that she can see me across Mama.
"They were all right. Don't worry so much," I tease, smirking.
"We aren't worried," Mom laughs, slipping her hand into Mama's. "Not when it's you we're speaking of."
They continue to look at me with adoring eyes, and Mama gently pushes my hair away from my face. "So handsome," she says, still smiling.
I laugh bashfully and lean down to place my head on Mama's shoulder. Mama snakes her arm around me, pulling me into her and kissing the top of my head. I close my eyes and think that I could stay here, like this, for a very long time and still be content.
We're quiet for a couple minutes, the squeaks of the swing the only sounds in our yard. I look down at Mama's hand and see that it's still in Mom's. I thank God for bringing me two mothers who are so in love, and who love me so much.
After a few more minutes of silence, I gaze up at Mama. She looks down at me and smiles, her eyebrows raised in question. "Tell me a story," I say, feeling like the little boy I was fifteen years ago, but not minding so much because I know that my mothers will love me just the same whether I act like the man I am or not.
Mama chuckles and brushes her fingers through my hair. "You're just like your mom," she says affectionately, squeezing Mom's hand in hers. She's quiet for a bit, and I look up to see her lost in reverie while Mom gazes at her with the half-mischievous half-adoring smirk she saves only for her. "I think I know which story to tell," Mama says, a small smile creeping onto her lips.
"Does it have a happily-ever-after?" I ask. Mom looks at Mama curiously, and I know what Mama means when she says that I'm just like Mom, because she's as excited as I am to hear this story and learn of its ending.
Mama looks down, lost in thought, but her smile grows larger. "Oh yes," she says finally, and raises her eyes to me again. "There's no happier happily-ever-after than the one of this story."
"Good." I nestle into Mama's shoulder again. "So what does the story tell?"
Mama's quiet again for a few moments, and I peek up to see her looking longingly into Mom's eyes with the tiniest of smiles on her face. She lifts Mom's hand to her mouth, kisses it gently, and says, "This is the story of how I fell in love with your mom."