After repeated inquiries on whether or not Majima was absolutely sure that he could keep watch over all the kids and multiple run throughs over basic childcare etiquette, the sliding doors of the orphanage finally slid shut with a soft, careful thud (he didn't want to wake up the kids, it was so early), signifying the beginning of a Kiryu absence.
A week back, Sunday morning, Kiryu had received a phone call from an unknown number -- something that could either be completely harmless, or, with their shared pasts, a threat to their livelihood.
Cautiously, cautiously, Majima had listened in to Kiryu's side of the conversation. Could it be another death? Was Daigo alright? Would they have to come back to Kamurocho, and if they did, who'd watch the orphanage, and -- The phone connected with the receiver with a soft click, and Majima, having had lost track of the conversation, looked up to his partner's face.
Kiryu was softly smiling, small wrinkles at the sides of his mouth. Wasn't that a sight for sore eyes? Disappointingly enough, though, that wasn't the focus at hand. Majima's curiosity was eating him up now!
"Kaoru's visiting from America."
"Who-hoa... That's a ways to travel, isn't it? Any particular occasion for the little lady to come running back?" Majima stretched his legs from where he was sitting at the table, nervous energy building up in his limbs.
Kiryu rounded the side to sit down next to him, continuing his explanation. "No, it's just been some time. Took her awhile to get use to the change, I'm sure. Now she has the time to finally catch up."
This didn't sit well. Sayama just wanted to up and reintroduce herself, no reason at all? And it's not like Majima had forgotten what she and Kiryu must have had. Hell, Kiryu used to have a damn framed photo of the chick! The whole situation just didn't rub him the right way!
He felt Kiryu softly grab his hand on the table and clasp his fingers between his own, gently tracing his pointer finger along the side of his palm, reminding him what kind of person Kiryu was.
Majima squeezed his hand, glancing at the nostalgic look in Kiryu's eyes.
"You wanna meet her, don't 'cha?" He said, mind made up. He wasn't about to force his boyfriend to lose out on this chance to see an old friend just because of his admitted jealous streak.
Light from the window cast over Kiryu's hair. "Yes, I do," he sighed, "She's one of the few who survived their time around me, after all." He paused. "If that would be alright with you...?"
That was definitely a good reason. Both of the ex-yakuza had gone through a lot, both had experienced death like revolving door, causing a macabre sense of understanding that they shared. It was a constant reminder to treasure the time they spent with those they care for.
And... Maybe this was just fantastic timing.
After all, there was a little something that Majima had been wanting to do.
Something that would require a short time of Kiryu's absence.
So, Majima enthusiastically provided his approval of the concept, and as Sayama's arrival drew near (requiring another call from Kiryu to explain that he had moved to Okinawa, and to please don't show up in Kamurocho, not knowing where he was) Majima practically shoved Kiryu out the door.
The house was now silent aside from soft snores from the bedrooms of the kids. Majima pulled a small box and notecard from his old jacket pocket (he had finally retired the iconic snakeskin jacket when he finally moved to Okinawa with Kiryu, like some sort of odd symbolism about his metaphorical metamorphosis. Just imagine the jacket as some weird cocoon. Despite this, his Hawaiian shirt still had a snakeskin pattern on it. He wasn't about to give up the aesthetic quite yet).
Step one, he had to practice his lines. Majima wasn't about to make a fool of himself in front of the kids! No, his plan was perfect to a T. Double checked, triple checked, even. He just had to act casual, remember what the purpose behind his words were, 'cause those words would (hopefully) be some of the most important in his life.
Majima sat on the wooden steps just outside the orphanage, far enough away to not disturb kids, and cleared his throat.
"Y'all know how long yer uncle and I have known each other." That was true. He had been an ever-present influence in Kiryu, and he wasn't just inflating his importance for the sake of his pride.
"And, I am sure he's told you all sorts of stories about me." Majima himself had also told the kids some of those stories, sitting on the beach, all the kids in a circle around him and Kiryu, as Majima slapped his back and cackled, maybe only slightly inflating the events of the tale, especially the parts involving Kiryu kicking ass and taking names. It was only to see his partner turn away with an endeared sigh, after all. A noble purpose.
"Despite how often I may, uh," he looked down at his notecard, "Seem a little... scary..." Was that an understatement? It sounded like an understatement. Even though he was hopelessly in love with the guy, Majima still took the time to keep him on his toes, leaving them both battered and bruised on the streets of Okinawa. Admittedly, it was because he feared this cushy lifestyle causing both of them to lose their guard, and then some big baddie would get the upper hand on Kiryu, and...
He continued with his practice speech. "I, uh, care about all of you kids -- " Does he usually stutter this much? " -- And, I care about Kiryu. More than I could put into words, y'know. Which roughly translates to, "a whole-friggin'-lot"." 'Fucking' had been scratched out next to 'fricking', as per remembering rule number four of Kiryu's ground rules of Sunflower.
"I'd go to hell and back to protect every last one of you, and I'd like to make it so I can do just that." He put the notecard down and instead cradled the small black box in his palms. He'd seen the yearning look in Kiryu's face and posture when he talked of family, a fascination with the domestic lifestyle.
Maybe Kiryu had inspired something in Majima, because since they first got together, he, piece by piece, saw the perks of family.
He wanted that, and he wanted it with Kiryu and the Sunshine kids.
"May I ask for your uncle's hand in marriage?" The last part came out quick, like ripping a bandage off. He hadn't said it out loud yet, and hearing the words come out of his own mouth made Majima feel almost dizzy. Was he sure this was the right thing to do...?
Mame barked at the end of his leash on the other side of the yard, and Majima turned to see all nine of the kids peering out the sliding door.
Had he really forgotten to close that?
"Uncle Goro!" Taichi leapt over the steps and tackled Majima in a hug. One by one, laughing and shouting, each of the children came over and sat down next to him.
Uncle Goro. Didn't that just sound fantastic?
Ayako patted his shoulder. "I'm so sorry, I know you must have been just practicing, but... Curiosity gets the best of young minds." So thoughtful, that girl. Did she really think Majima could ever be mad at her?
"Are you really marrying Uncle Kaz?" Izumi piped up, letting Mame off his leash and holding him like a teddy bear. "I think it's a great idea."
Majima chuckled, crossed his arms, and leaned back on the steps. Guess the whole cat's out of the bag, no point in beating around the bush.
"Yeah, yeah. Thought we could make it official, after all this time, y'know? So, how about it?"
Ever the factual mind, Koji said, "I thought you two were already married, though!"
Majima coughed a little. Did they really seem that close? Oh boy.
"No, there's no way that they could already be married. First, the obvious lack of rings, and second, the legal troubles." Shiro gestured to his gloved, ringless hands.
Oh, yeah. Majima had already given the thought that it wouldn't be a legal marriage plenty of thought, but found no reason to let that hold him back.
"Well, this time, we're just gonna ignore that little bit missing in the constitution, yeah?" Majima ruffled Koji's hair, much to his visible annoyance. "Let it be said, kiddos, never let the law bring ya' down!" Oh, that definitely sounding like something Kiryu would disapprove of, as ironic as that may be.
The group chattered on, discussing whether there would be cake (obviously), who was invited (Riona staked her claims on that responsibility, wanting to make the invites), who would be the flower girl and ring bearer (that sounded like a rock-paper-scissors decision, piped in Majima).
But, something, no, /someone/ seemed to be missing from the group.
Rising to his feet, careful not to accidentally bump someone in the bustling group, Majima rounded back into the house just to make eye contact with Haruka, sitting with a cup of tea in front of her, and another across from her seat. She patted the table, gesturing for Majima to come sit down with her.
He sat down, looking at the tea. It was warm, black. Taking a sip, he noticed it had plenty of sugar in it. Exactly how he would have made it himself, or how Kiryu would have made it for him. Did he tell Haruka about his preference...?
"So." Majima coughed into his fist, eye glancing up at Haruka. He tried to make his smile as convincing as possible, because Haruka was the one who really called the shots around here, and if she disapproved, then all of this would be for naught. Majima already couldn't stand the thought.
He opened the little box in his hand, displaying the contents to her.
"What d'you think?" The ring was small, silver, adorned with the thin outline of a snake. Yet again, he restated his point on absolutely not giving up the aesthetic.
Haruka began to speak.
"I just want you to know..." She paused, and Majima's breath audibly caught in his throat.
"It's about time, Uncle Goro."
/Man/, this was way too much joy for one person to handle! Emotions bubbled up in his chest, warm and excited.
"Haruka-chan, I'd hop over this damn table and spin you around if I didn't know how rude that would be!"
Wait a moment. It didn't matter how rude it was, they were going to be /family/! Majima jumped across the room and lifted Haruka in the best hug he could manage with his entire body vibrating from excitement.
She hugged back.
Kiryu got out of the cab as it pulled to a stop outside the airport and pulled his phone from his back pocket. The charms that his kids had made him jingled on the end of the flip phone as he dialed in Kaoru's number and stared out to the small crowd of people illuminated by the morning light streaming from the numerous windows.
She had to be here, right? What if she missed her flight? The dial tone rang, and Kiryu steeled himself against his nerves.
"Kaoru? It's Kiryu. Where are you at?"
She laughed on the other side of the call. "I just got into the lobby! Give me a moment!" Huh? She was in the lobby? But he was in the lobby, and he didn't see her!
"Could you tell me a bit about your surroundings? I'll find you." He glanced from left to right.
"Well..." She paused, feigning thought. "It's morning, and it's a beautiful day out."
Was she tugging his leg? Whatever.
"It's awfully sunny, and I seem to be behind someone on the phone." Someone on the phone... There was another lady in the corner on a cellphone, an elderly woman, and a man next to the door on a call. This was a bit vague, though...
"Could you describe them for me?"
"They're wearing red, some horrible dress shoes, and aren't nearly as tall and intimidating as I remember them when they have a farmer's tan."
Wait a moment.
He felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Oh, it seems I'm standing behind an old friend." Kaoru chuckled softly and ended the call.
She had changed quite a bit since Kiryu had last seen her. No more police uniform, she instead wore casual clothing -- black jeans, flannel shirt. Most interestingly, she had cut her hair much shorter. It only reached around to the length of her ears now.
But, all in all, it was still who he remembered, and Kiryu felt a weight lift off of his chest at that fact.
"I remember you telling me you'd pay the cab fare to the city?"
Yes, it definitely was very Kaoru-esque to remember an offhand comment such as that.
The process of hailing a cab, explaining your destination, and settling into the ride becomes much quicker when you have so much to talk about with someone.
The ex yakuza huntress recapped the changes in her life since they had last seen each other. "Yes, I quit the police force. Didn't line up with my ideals in life, you know? Took a page from Date's book and became a private detective."
"And how is that lining up for you?" The cab slowed to a stop outside a small cafe near the middle of Okinawa, plants growing freely in the windows.
"It's a fuckload of work," she ran her hand through her short hair, "but, people like you and I, we wouldn't have it any other way, huh?"
Kiryu smiled and rounded the side of the cab to open her door for her.
Kaoru ordered a large espresso, while Kiryu opted more for a black tea, two sugars. Their table was in the back, where a spider plant hung over the middle, long arms reaching towards the window.
She crossed her arms and glanced at him across the table. "So, Kiryu." He sipped his tea. "How's your life going? Besides the obvious, you now living in Okinawa and all."
Her Kansai accent seems to be showing more nowadays, Kiryu noted, before responding as briefly as he could manage with such an open question.
"I run an orphanage," He watched Kaoru raise her eyebrows at that. "We have a dog," She smiled. "And Majima lives with us. Most of the time. He still has to attend meetings for Majima Construction." Kaoru's smile dropped and her eyebrows rose higher.
"You know I don't kid." Oh, Kiryu patted himself on the back for that joke, "Which is funny, you know, because I'm raising nine kids, isn't it --"
"Yes, I'm well aware why it's funny. What's even more funny, though, is that you let him in the same room with so many children. Excuse me, live in the same home as that many children."
That seemed a little unfair. Majima may not have ever been level-headed, per se, but he truly loved all the children, and only took a bit of coaching to calm down when Mitsuo played baseball with him.
"I'll have you know Majima is doing well with the change of atmosphere, especially considering his past." Honestly, Kiryu has immeasurably proud of his boyfriend's willingness towards all aspects of their new life.
She raised a hand from its space around her coffee cup. "I'm missing something here. I can see why you are running an orphanage," she pointed at him, "But I don't understand why Goro Majima is with you. Hold on, is this a tax shelter or something, Kiryu?"
"No! I pay my taxes as to be expected! I don't know about Majima, though, but..." That was definitely something that Kiryu would have to ask him later. "We've been together for a while now."
"Together?" Kaoru leaned back quizzically.
"Yes." Did she disapprove?
"As in, you are in a relationship together."
"... Yes." That nervous pit formed in Kiryu's stomach again, and he began to bounce his right leg.
She sipped her coffee, seemingly processing the situation, then replied, simply, "That makes sense."
Kiryu let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. 'That makes sense'? That was a rather implication packed statement. His brows knit together, and Kiryu looked at his tea, swirling around his spoon.
Kaoru reached over and patted his hand. "Don't think too hard about it, Kiryu. You'll give yourself a headache."
They continued their conversation through peaceful voices and laughter, exchanging stories of shared friends and nostalgia.
At some point, Kaoru asked of Kiryu's foster children, to which he (without missing a beat), pulled out his flip phone and wallet.
The wallet was packed full of Polaroids, all displaying smiling kids on the beach or in a garden, a little dog whom didn't seem to be fond of the photographer, and a few group photos (two of which seemed to be taken consecutively -- the first being of all nine kids, with Kiryu standing behind them, beaming fatherly pride that could match that of the sun, the next of the same scene, only with surprised expressions as the camera seemed to have turned to reveal Majima, donning sunglasses, a toothy grin, and a middle finger pointed at the camera. The back of the Polaroid was signed, "love ya, kazzy!" with a drawing of a little dog, all in red gel pen).
As Kaoru folded through the many, many photographs, Kiryu opened his phone and scooted his chair closer to her, leaning over to show the puny screen, outdated screen.
"Haruka took this one for me." Kiryu's phone wallpaper was of himself and Majima, cuddled up on a bench. Majima had his arm slung around Kiryu's shoulders, sticking his tongue out at the camera, and Kiryu rested his head on Majima's shoulder, looking down at the ukulele he seemed to be having troubles with. A blanket covered both their legs, and in front of them seemed to be a small bonfire. The definition of domestic bliss, it seemed.
"You're making me feel bad for not bringing any photos of my time in America, Kiryu," Kaoru peered at the little screen, grinning.
Returning the phone to his back pocket and beginning to tap the Polaroids back into their rightful wallet pocket, Kiryu's ears turned a shade red, mumbling, "I didn't mean to over share."
Kaoru laughed, throwing back another guzzle of her Expresso. "No, no! By all means, continue. I like hearing your excitement about your family."
At that moment, Kiryu couldn't help but relate to what Kaoru declared. The fascination with another's happiness... Just hearing someone talk about something they love. It was comforting, like a warm blanket wrapped around your shoulders, or how Majima's arm felt around him... wait, did she say 'family'?
"Speaking of family, have you and the Mad Dog officially tied the knot, or have you not gotten to that point yet? Not to be nosy or anything, of course."
That was a tricky subject. Kiryu ran his thumb over the rim of his now cold tea idly, thinking aloud. "I'm not sure if he would be okay with that."
She hummed, nodding her head in acknowledgement.
"He and I are not products of a safe life. It's taken us some time to get used to all of... this." Kiryu thought of how long it took for each of Majima's guards to go down, finally opening up more about himself, sitting on the beach without needing his blade concealed at his side. Neither of them would truly ever recover from their time in prisons both metaphorical and physical, but Kiryu didn't mind their life now.
He wanted to be with... his family... every step of the way, no matter where the path may go.
But he wasn't sure if that feeling was mutual.
He looked to Kaoru, hoping that she'd understand the message he was trying to convey, and said, "I don't want to scare him away."
"Kiryu. May I be blunt?"
"You'd need a straight jacket and forty inch thick steel walls to keep him away from you. And even then, he'd probably have his construction company smash the building open just so he could run back to you."
Quite the declaration! Kiryu sputtered for a moment, trying to formulate the words, 'I don't know about that', but she continued to speak.
"Sorry. Hyperbolic, I'm aware. My point, though, is that the two of you have fought hundreds of men for and against each other and have spent more time chasing each other down than some spend married."
She downed the rest of her coffee. "To summarize: if you want this, go for it."
"It's easy when you say it like that."
"Is it? Let's see how easy it can be."
Huh? What was that supposed to mean? Kaoru grabbed him by the arm, hauling him upwards, and threw her empty cup in the trash can be the door, booking it towards the exit.
She turned on her heel outside the door, shoulders squared. "Kiryu, you're the expert on the area. Where's the closest pawn shop?"
Oh, that's what she was planning.
He waved his hand in front of him. "I'm not proposing to Majima with a pawned ring, if that's what you're implying I should do."
Kaoru raised her eyebrows at him. "You'll get him a better one later. You want this, don't you?"
Kiryu couldn't help but feel like she was maybe meddling a bit too much in his life, but she definitely had a point, and it wasn't like she was often wrong about things.
So he led her to the nearest storefront displaying cheap jewelry, just has she had asked.
The counter was lined with metallic tones, watches and brooches reflecting off of the ceiling lights above and the soft yellow fabric below them. So many options... What would Majima want...?
The man behind the display cases, a greying, elderly man with big glasses, glanced at Kiryu and Kaoru.
"What'dya lookin' for?"
Blunt, to the point. Kiryu could do this. He'd be fine. "I need a ring."
The man peered over his glasses, then gestured at Kaoru. "What's her size?"
Kiryu squirmed in his shoes. "It's not for her. It's for, uh, a guy."
Seeing that Kiryu looked as if he might flee from the situation, Kaoru butted in, putting a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm him. "It's an engagement ring for my boyfriend, and this here is his close friend." She lied as easily as she breathed in, and smiled at the salesman.
The old jeweler looked absolutely disinterested, but brought out a large display rack and placed it underneath the glass. Without a beat, Kiryu piped up again. "He's a size 12."
Kaoru hid a smug grin behind a hand. "For someone who didn't think this was a good idea, you sure knew that right off the bat."
He sighed and began to look through the meager selection of size 12 rings in his price range. Though Majima seemed to adore aesthetically questionable apparel, this /was/ supposed to be something that Kiryu would find a better replacement for later on, so... the green and purple mood ring would have to slide. For now.
But, at the end of the row, there was a simple, golden band with a red stone embedded in the front, no bigger than the top of a push pin. It was unremarkable, but happened to have just the right sense of meaning behind it that Kiryu knew Majima would appreciate.
"See something you like?" Kaoru brought her attention to where Kiryu pointed at the glass. "Ah... you're going a little more sentimental than I expected, aren't you?"
He scoffed away that comment, and called the store owner over to pay.
Leaving the store and entering the cab back to Sunshine, Kiryu felt more tense than he had in years, but, as he looked at the town pass by and the sun set in the distance, he could see the reflection of Kaoru's face in the windowpane, illuminated by the light from her phone.
If she believed he could do this, then that was all he needed.
Majima paced back and forth in the white sand of the beach in front of Sunshine. The sun had slowly begun to set, bathing the land in the colours of the evening, and the kids were around a bonfire on the beach, folding chairs and blankets set out left and right.
It was a callback to around the time he and Kiryu first made themselves official to the kids, Kiryu all nervous about what they'd say, what they'd have to explain, but the kids didn't seem to care much at all. They only wanted to play baseball with Majima (which was something he respected /immensely/).
He originally had another notecard for this part of the night, but Haruka insisted that he'd be fine without a script. Doubtful, but trusting in the girl, Majima had just shrugged exasperatedly and threw the card over his shoulder and into the fire.
So, as laughter and the scent of s'mores rose from behind him, Majima stared at the road and straightened his tie (he had donned a black and red suit for the occasion, despite Haruka repeatedly reminding him that Kiryu would /not/ care what he wore).
God, could Kiryu come any sooner? He was gonna start digging a hole in the sand with his bare feet at this point.
A taxi drove up the road and Majima cursed his consciousness.
Parking in front of the orphanage, out stepped Kiryu, circling around the taxi to open the door for none other than Sayama.
She's changed a lot, hasn't she? Focus, Goro.
Koji yelled from his chair and waved at Kiryu, bringing his attention to the group. Kiryu and Sayama turned towards them and made their way down the path to the beach, and...
Was it just his imagination, or did Kiryu look pretty damn nervous right now? Oh, god. What had happened?
Sayama strolled up to him and held out a hand. "Majima. It's been some time." She took his hand in a firm grip and shook it once, then looked down at his suit. "... You look nice."
Fuck! This probably seemed a little odd to her! ... Take it in stride, take it in stride!
As Sayama jogged past him to meet the kids and greet Haruka, Kiryu walked up to him with tense shoulders and his hands behind his back.
"Majima." Kiryu looked up at him, and /shit/, did his eyes look nice in the sunset. "What's the suit for? Did something happen?"
Majima shook his head. "No, no, everything's fine, Kazzy." A little of the tense demeanor seemed to relax from Kiryu, so he continued, "But I've got a question for ya'."
Here comes the moment of truth. Turning one last time to get a thumbs up from Haruka and an astonished expression from Sayama, Majima pushed a knee into the soft sand and kneeled down in front of Kiryu.
He presented the small black box in front of him and looked up to his partner.
"Kiryu Kazuma. I'm going to go fucking nuts if I don't ask this now."
He opened the box.
No reply. Majima waited for a response, but as the seconds ticked by, he felt closer and closer to either vomiting or running directly into the sea and not coming back.
Kiryu's expression was, understandably, shocked, but what Majima didn't expect was for Kiryu to kneel down directly in front of him and pull out yet another small black box, revealing yet another ring.
"I could ask you the same thing."
No fucking way.
Majima pushed his box into the sand and wasted no time springing his feet forward, lunging up out of the sand at Kiryu with raucous laughter, wrapping his arms around his (his fiance's!) middle.
Kiryu laughed with the biggest smile he could probably muster up with that stern face of his, dancing around in circles in the sand.
"Oh, you've gotta be shitting me! There's no fucking way this is happening! Someone call the damn news station, I want the damn world to hear how fucking happy I am right now!" They spun around, Majima chattering off about how he has a fiance, Kiryu seemingly content to just push his head against Majima's neck and hum an agreement.
Behind them, Haruka handed the Polaroid camera to Kaoru, and she lined up the shot -- Sun almost set, two men dancing with no direction in the light of the fire, surrounded by clapping kids. She raised a thumbs up just barely to the left of the lens.
Another picture to add to the album.
"So, who are we gonna say is the one who proposed?" Piped in Taichi, most likely a little bored of the dancing.
Majima raised his head from where he was resting it against Kiryu's hair and grinned at his new fiance.
Kiryu looked up, only taking a few seconds to piece together what he saw in Majima's face, then stepped back from his embrace, lowering himself and raising his fists.
With cackling laughter, Majima mimicked his pose, already rearing to go.
"Last one standing gets to say they're the one who proposed, yeah? Let's make this count, darlin'!"
Kiryu looked fondly at his family.
"I wouldn't have it any other way."