Chapter 35:

How My Dream Became a Reality

Cursed Lines

2.5 years later

It was well worth the hard work for the two years before we left, even though we rarely saw each other. I began to admire Daisuke, how he combined work and study for so long and still had average grades, but decent. I moonlighted at a restaurant and took on a lot of small illustration commissions from authors on the Web, thanks in part to the popularity and recommendations from Alice.

Konya was still working with antiques, but I had him cut back a bit, so he could focus on his exams to make sure he got into the university. Especially since he was practically taking a year off for a few more months of work and our tour of Europe. We were supposed to return just before the beginning of the academic year.

In the meantime, we were both best men at our parents' weddings, the more relaxed and traditional of Konya's father and Emi's, and the crazy modernized version that my mother organized with the help of Alice and Daisuke's mother. As soon as I heard that the organizing committee was meeting, Seiji and I would leave the house.

The man who was my mother's other half turned out to be quite a cool man, in his youth he wandered a lot in the mountains, but then a serious injury prevented him from doing so to the extent he would like to continue his passions. However, he still remained an active person and even persuaded my mother to return to the sport. He also dealt with her temper quite well, stopping when he should and supporting her when needed. Besides, so far she hasn't kicked his ass like Eros', so I could probably be calm about her.

My sister, since she finally became involved with her other half, wrote as if more willingly and without much stress than before. Her work was great to read, but now it's even better, and at the same time she has become more demanding about the illustrations she commissioned me. But I couldn't say no and tried to live up to her perfectionist demands. She managed to publish one book that was very successful, worked on another, and led the discussion of an anime adaptation for her first work. Even Eros became interested in it, often meeting with Alice and giving her stories of his conquests as inspiration for her latest book because, in his opinion, it is best to read about yourself.

Maiko trained Alice to be a mischievous little sister, and they both teased me sometimes that the things Alice gets from her fans are more interesting. However, they always tried to appease me afterwards by saying that only my work had official status. But I knew that, and I only pretended to be offended. I loved teasing them so much.

Daisuke's younger sister, Alice's most faithful fan, after some time also started to run all her official and fan social media. She also helped me and her brother with this and was very demanding, reminding us of regularity and encouraging us to use popular trends. She didn't want to agree, but the three of us paid her for it, seeing how much time and energy she devoted to helping us stand out in the competitive online world.

Even before our departure, we managed to help Daisuke a bit in opening his business. I was proud of him, he worked for so many years and finally succeeded. We helped as much as we could with the renovation, here Konya's jam to be a handyman became invaluable. The girls then helped with lighter work, painting and cleaning, and promotion, and our mothers decided on the decor and nothing could talk away this duo.

The opening attracted many people, including adults, who stared nostalgically at the gaming centre with arcade machines on the ground floor. On the first floor, Daisuke made up his mind with a coffee shop and a reading corner. He just wanted to create a place where everyone could relax, have a nice time, and at the same time drink good coffee and eat a tasty cake or sandwich. I wished I could have done more for him, but we had long since booked everything.

We spent four wonderful months in Europe, full of sightseeing and building beautiful memories, immortalized in thousands of photographs and several full sketchbooks. We visited many countries and even more museums and historical monuments. At that time, both Konya and I received the news that we would each become big brothers.

Soon after we left, Tatsuo found out that he was going to have a little sister, and a few weeks later I got news that I would have a little brother. Probably everything we could expect from our parents in love, still in the stage of newly-weds. Well, the family grew, and we enjoyed it.

I was also proud of Konya because, despite all the reluctance and uncertainty about using English, after much persuasion, he finally dared to talk to people more and more boldly with each subsequent attempt.

We had a great time, but before returning to Japan, we had to get back to the mundane. We had been talking about moving in together for a long time, so we started looking for a place to live together. Hence, we decided on a one-bedroom flat with a large living room connected to the kitchen. The large window gave a lot of light and I could easily spread my easel next to it. In addition, we were allowed to keep pets. At least, I didn't need anything else to be happy.

After returning, we went to the shelter, with the intention of adopting one dog, and ended up with two. As a lovely volunteer said none of these pets can find a home alone, they are so connected that they can only be taken in a package. So, to our new place came the fluffy, docile giant Teddy and the ball-like, but definitely louder and braver baby Kiki. Our walks together became one of my favourite moments of the day.

That day, two weeks after our return, I went home to pick up the last few boxes of my belongings and one particular painting. Konya helped me bring them in and collapsed on the couch exhausted. But I felt that before I could rest, I had to do this one thing. I unpacked a painting that I finished a long time ago, but I haven't decided to show it to anyone yet. This canvas has been waiting for this moment. I hung the picture opposite the sofa under the watchful eye of the other three residents, satisfied with the effects, I finally sat down with a quiet sigh.

"We could arrange to show the photos to everyone tomorrow," I murmured, cuddling into Konya.

"We still have some time before we meet them." Tatsuo lifted my chin and leaned in to kiss me, but he didn't because he tilted his head again towards the painting. "It's beautiful, it reminds me of the night we first kissed."

"Because it's that exact sunset," I replied, offended as if that wasn't obvious enough.

"Yeah, I know," he whispered and nuzzled his neck into my face. "I love you so much."

"I love you too," I replied happily.

"You remember this view so well, and do you remember our first kiss? Should I remind you?" he asked which made me laugh out loud. "What is it?"

"Nothing." I waved my hand. "It's just that when I first dreamed of you, it was going on like: we travelled together, moved in together, adopted two dogs, and you were talking about our first kiss," I explained to him, realizing that it had all come true.

"The only thing left for us to do is carry this on in reality." Tatsuo smiled and finally kissed me.


Author’s note

Since this is the last chapter, I would like to thank you for every view, like, reaction, opinion or comment. I am very grateful to everyone who gave this story a chance, even if they only read one chapter, and my special thanks to those who stayed with my characters until the end, (or intend to do so :P). Even the smallest support and a kind word was something extremely important to me and gave me the strength to finish this story. I would also like to thank those with whom I had the opportunity to talk on the contest chat on Discord. The chaos that was sometimes there really made my day more than once.

I am happy that I decided to participate in the competition. I was able to close the story and give all the characters some happiness they deserved. These months, although they were very intense, also in real-life matters, were a challenge for me, which I somehow managed to accomplish. But most of all, it was an opportunity for me to meet so many talented people and read so many wonderful, funny, and romantic stories. It only remains for me to wish everyone further success, strength, motivation and inspiration for writing.

Take care,