AN: Behold, the epilogue. It took me forever to get the ending right! Still not sure I did, but I hope it gives you feels. :)
I know I can't pick just one favorite chapter, and it seems none of you could, either! Chapter 29, 'The Thirteenth' and chapter 11, 'The Choice' won first place by a very small margin! Then there were about six other chapters tied for second and another five tied for third. XDD Glad to see that everyone has different tastes that are being sated!
My final thank yous: Elle (I'm so glad the chapter touched you, and I'm glad it's worth a re-read! Thank you so much for your support.) spitfireYJ (:'D Thank you!) NinjaNovelist (Thank you! And I'm glad I saved you from maturity. XD) PurposefullyPyro (Is it weird that that makes me happy? XD Thanks!) calliecature (Yup, you miss too many chances and you won't get any more.) Ami (Thank you so much! Unfinished stories are the worst, aren't they?) Coco793 (Thanks so much! I miss them lol.) writer-person2 (Thanks! Here it is!) tndsecretoperative (Indeed. :'( ) SareBear96 (Glad I was unpredictable! Sad endings are my specialty, it seems. Hope you enjoy!) KNDnumber170 (*hands tissues*) Kuki and Kimi (Thank you! Dry your eyes, the epilogue is here.) SlytherinBookGodess (Have some tissues, then. :3 Also, I love your icon.) numbah435spiritsong (:'D Is it sad that I really want that sappy review? Thanks so much for your continuing support!) Mortia T Mouse (I'm glad you're so happy! All other reviews involved sobbing. Thanks for reviewing!) L. (I agree! They totally know. Thank you for your review!) BlueNumbuh4 (XD) Making Some Toast (Your description of last chapter is perfect. XD I agree that Wally deserves one. Thanks for reviewing!) leafysummers (XD You are the perfect audience. Thanks for your review!) Averon the Awesome (Kay, I will sew your heart back up good and proper. :D Thanks for reviewing!) Azrael (So nice, you say it thrice! XD I'm so glad you liked what I wove together, thank you!) GirlyGirl9898 (Thank you so much, I'm glad you felt that way! :D) Painty Trancey (*gives tissue* At this rate, I'm going to be out of tissues by the time I need them. XD) TheNarrator24 (Thank you! Time sure flies…) partygirl2000 (I HAVE UPDATED! Enjoy. :D) tater06 (Oh, tater… You are going to drive me to tears. I never know how better to respond to your reviews than with thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm so glad you liked the goodbyes; it was my favorite part to write. I forget too often in my love of KukixWally how much the other characters mean to me, too. I'm so grateful for your support, and I'm going to miss seeing you in my inbox. :'D) LookingForChange (Better get some antiperspirant for your eyeballs, then. ;) Thanks so much for your kind words!) Kochua2012 (And thus, I give away my last tissue. :) Thanks for the review!)
And a super-special thank you to the sheilas and blokes who will review this one, too.
I cruddy love you all. I'd make you cookies or brownies or a sandwich, but...you'd probably thank me more if I didn't. :D Store-brand virtual Oreos for everyone! And for lactose-intolerant viewers, I have some baby carrots. Still good. I'll shut up now. ENJOY THE LAST CHAPTER.
Disclaimer: Radishes will be spilling out of the faucet before I own KND.
There's a boy whose face I know.
It's not a particularly special face – he's got a nose, two eyes, a mouth; everything you should expect to find. But he also has a dimple in his left cheek and a scar through his eyebrow and a tooth that sits crooked on the top. His smile lifts up on one side and his nose is dusted with pale freckles that stand out when his face turns red. His hair is bright and gold and cut like a bowl; his eyes are green and full of steady stares and darting glances.
As I walk through the halls of the school we share, I'm looking at the backpack of the girl in front of me, reading the notes her friends had written in permanent marker – so it'll last forever – and I know all of that, without glancing his way, and know the laugh I hear is his.
I've never talked to him before, not really. One time I was in the same movie theater and we sat in the same row, and I'd said 'excuse me' when I passed him and he'd said 'sure', but that is the extent of our relationship.
I don't know him, but I know his face. I've never looked at him, but sometimes I think he's looking at me.
Today, my math class talked too much and we got assigned seats. He's sitting next to me in the back row.
He sighs, and I know what that looks like without seeing. His pencil scratches over paper and I know his answers are wrong.
I never look over at him. I turn away to make faces at my friends and pass notes when the teacher's back is turned. I'm afraid I might see brown hair and thin lips and glasses – a face I don't know. For some reason, it terrifies me that he might be a stranger, even though he is.
"That's wrong," I whisper to him one day. I look over at his paper; next to the problem he'd written '4' as if he hadn't even tried to figure it out. I feel him frown.
"Then what's the answer?" he whispers back. I shake my head, eyes back to my own equations.
"Figure it out yourself," I reply.
Then I look at him, and he's looking at me like I've said something so incredibly interesting that he needs to read the words in my eyes.
I feel a prickle of something familiar and I know he feels it too.
I'm the girl whose face he knows.
"Maybe you should tutor me." His lips are pulling up on one side and I can see the dimple screwed into his cheek. His tooth is crooked and there's a scar through his eyebrow but I smile back because all of it feels so great to actually see.
I nod, pushing a word through my smiling lips. "Okay."
We turn away and we don't talk again. Until the next day, and the next, and the next. I find out things about him. He's funny and cynical and he has a little brother named Joey who thinks he's the best thing since canned bread. He likes sports and cars and saying 'crud' and so many other boy things that I giggle a little and that's something that makes him smile. He's stubborn and easily frustrated and he's more than once crumpled up a page of math and thrown it across the room to the recycle bin. Eight times out of ten, it makes it in.
All of these things fall into place in my mind like there were spaces waiting for them, and every bit of information I absorb and accept like I already knew it all. All the time we spend together is spent in a bubble of a pink, nostalgic feeling and I don't care who sees us or hears us because none of them matter but him and me.
And one day, weeks and weeks later, he looks at me and there's another something I recognize. Something soft, mixed with hesitation and a pulse of nervous energy that escapes through his drumming fingers on my desk, which was pushed up against his while I taught him about quadratic equations.
I swallow and my face turns hot because I know something's coming that will change things.
He clears his throat and runs a hand through his hair and says my name as if I wasn't already rapt in attention.
His face is red and mine is too, and my heart is beating hard and fast and I feel...hope.
The gentle lapping of his face and his words adds to the feeling, giving it strength, letting it grow. Roots dig into my heart and stretch up to bloom in my mind, a connection fueled by the drumming of his fingers against my own.
I smile, and he looks at me and smiles too. Hope.
"There's something I've wanted to tell you for a really, really long time…"
I know, I want to say. I've always known. But it seems too strange to think that I do, that I have. That this has been going on longer than we realized.
He rakes over me with green, green eyes. His blonde hair makes me wistful; the scar in his eyebrow makes me sad. He makes me...
We lean forward. We breathe. We tangle our fingers together and that, at least, feels new. We are the only people in the world. I might cry. This bubble of conversation feels far too intimate, too intense. He's telling me. I should listen.
I already know.
I always have.
His voice is low, unfocused. "I just…don't know how to say it."
He whispers the words softly, defiantly, nervously, definitively, tenderly, uncertainly, adoringly, hopefully, desperately, finally, against my mouth, where they stay and sink and spark.
I let out a breath that felt held for a thousand years.
I've been waiting.
AN: And that, my dear readers and reviewers, is the happy ending I was looking for. :D This is officially the longest Fanfiction I've ever written – and I doubt that record will be broken any time soon. And it's all because of you. You all, and your support, reviews, praise, spoonfeeding, cheerleading, scolding, pleading… If it weren't for you guys…I doubt I would have made it past the third chapter. It's so inspiring to hear things like 'keep writing' and 'I love this story' and 'you are a fantastic writer.' Seriously…I mean, you all praise me for my writing but I can't even begin to articulate how deeply thankful I am to each and every one of you. I never dreamed that 29 Tries would be so loved, and I am so proud of how far it's come.
Thanks so, so much to all of you who stuck with Wally and Kuki (and me!) until the end! Here's a toast (a ticklish one) – to our favorite pair of operatives, and the endings that create new beginnings. And if you remember anything from your time spent here, please remember this:
TICKLE. THAT. TOAST.