Here is the last chapter of this story! Thank you all so much for joining the ride! Enjoy!
Rin grunted, using all his strength to push the small boat out into the water. Sousuke winced, the jostling of the boat shifting his injured shoulder's position. Rin had wrapped it to prevent more bleeding. It wasn't enough; they needed to return home as soon as possible so a doctor can determine whether or not there were broken bones and if he needed only stitches or surgery. Rin started to reach out for him but pulled away. He was still angry, but it didn't mean he couldn't still care for the man that he fell in love with, his best friend. He reached out again and cupped Sousuke's cheek, rubbing the skin with his thumb. The redhead smiled warmly at the injured man, which comforted him. Rin jumped into the boat. Gou, who was with them, did her best to steady the wooden vessel. Rin smirked.
"So, you said you never missed a shot before? How are you so sure if that was your first time shooting?" Gou laughed out loud and handed the oars to her brother. Sousuke was in no condition to row and it'd be difficult to do the task with only one arm.
"Whoever said that was my first time shooting?" Rin's rowing faltered for a moment. He stared at his sister. "You have a second rifle at home. Whenever you're gone, I go out into the woods and set up targets to practice. Sometimes, when you were in Australia, Sousuke taught me."
"Sousuke!" Rin cried out. The larger man chuckled. He was filled with nostalgia. He enjoyed teaching Gou. She was a good student and was determined to be a great shot.
"How could I ever say no to her, Rin? She wouldn't stop bothering me either." Rin shook his head and groaned.
Haruka, Aiichiro, and Momotarou remained ashore; there wouldn't be enough room on the small boats for all six of them. The captain and other passengers were able to capture the pirates and were finished bringing them to the ship, locking them up in the hull. They could see the captain of the ship returning for the three of them. Haruka turned back and walked towards Makoto, who was waiting for their departure. The artist wrung his gloves. Makoto was silent, waiting for the other to speak.
"I suppose this is goodbye," Haruka finally said, his voice cracking. He coughed but his throat still felt tight. He didn't want to leave Makoto here. He wanted to bring him with to Japan and see the sights. But there was something in him that didn't want that. He didn't want to take Makoto away from his only home. Haruka had to admit to himself that Japan didn't always feel like home, more like a place he could stay at. There was a part of him that almost wanted to stay here with Makoto. Haruka shook his head at the absurdity. He stuck out his hand. "It was the greatest of all pleasures to know you, Makoto."
The ape-man held out his hand as well, but instead of shaking the delicate hand like he was taught, he pressed their palms together and spread their fingers together. It was just like how they first met, and now this would be how they part. Makoto smiled, his lips and eyes telling Haruka what he would not say- This is an "I love you," not a "Goodbye."
Haruka shuddered, his hand gripping the larger one before he dropped his arm and walked away toward the captain's boat. He wiped the incoming tears from his eyes and joined the primatologists, pulling on his gloves. He did his best not to look back. He knew if he did, he would never leave.
"Bye Makoto, we'll miss you!" Momotarou shouted through cupped hands. He waved desperately at the brunet. Finally calming down, Momotarou turned to face the other men. "Aw, I'll miss him so much. He was great! Don't you agree, Nanase-san?" The man did not respond.
"Why don't you go back?" Aiichiro suggested out of the blue. Haruka gasped as if he was offended, even though he had been thinking the exact same thing just minutes ago.
"I can't just stay. What will happen when you all return to Japan and I don't? I already made up my mind, I'm returning to Japan," the raven insisted. Aiichiro smiled sympathetically.
"It's quite obvious you love Makoto, and he loves you back. So why deny yourself and him that kind of happiness when you clearly deserve it?" Haruka stared at his gloved hands. His bottom lip trembled and finally looked back to shore. He saw animals coming out of the trees from his peripheral vision, but his gaze focused and locked onto Makoto. He breathed easily and suddenly stood up. He grinned at Aiichiro and Momotarou from over his shoulder and mouthed "Thank you." He removed his gloves and dove into the cool water, swimming harder than he had ever swum before.
"What the hell?" the captain shouted, holding onto his cap. He turned to the two young men still on the boat. "What should I tell the others, his family?" Aiichiro rubbed his chin with his finger.
"Oh! Um, just say that you could not find him and he's still on the island, most likely alive, just lost. He told us of his parents during our stay there. They travel a lot so I don't think they'll know about this for a long time." The captain scratched his head but nodded in agreement. Young people these days, he thought. They did the craziest things.
"Makoto, wait! Look!" Rei shouted, pointing his trunk out into the vast blue. "There's something in the water!" Nagisa groaned.
"Please don't say a piranha!" the young gorilla retorted. Makoto turned around and squinted his eyes. Rei was right, something was in the water and was swimming...
He yelped when that "something" stood up and jumped into his arms and shouting "Makoto!" It was Haruka. The ape-man held him up and was surprised when the smaller man grabbed his face and kissed him on the lips. When the raven pulled away, his eyes widened at what he had done.
"Oh god, I- Wow, um. That was not appropriate, I'm so..." Haruka's sentence broke off as Makoto tilted his head up and brought their lips together again, giving them both the chance to participate and deepen the kiss. They ignored Nagisa's cry of disgust.
When the two men pulled away once more, they took notice of their little audience. Makoto chuckled nervously, his cheeks turning pink. Haruka smiled and approached the baby gorillas closest to him. Makoto followed him and smiled.
"Oh, let me tell them that you-" Haruka cut him off with his hand. He cleared his throat and bent down.
"Ooh ooh ee eh ooooh." Makoto's mouth fell open. Haruka remembered what he taught him. The baby gorillas howled with joy. The human that Mako loved was going to stay with them! Still cheering, the animals ran back into the jungle. Makoto laughed, grabbed Haruka's hand, and lead the way for him.
"Well, would you look at that," Rin said, watching the scene on the shore from the ship deck. Sousuke hummed.
"That's a nice sight to see. Ow," the larger man winced in pain. Rin stroked his arm, hoping to soothe the pain in some way. "I'm okay, Rin, really." The redhead nodded before digging around in his pocket.
"Hey, one of the passengers found this for me." He held up an object between his fingers. Sousuke realized it was his ring, the one he had removed the previous day. He watched as Rin put the ring back on, clenching and unclenching his hand and grinned.
"If two complete strangers can fall in love with each other in a few weeks and know each other better than anyone else, that should give us hope for a future together. Don't think I'm still pissed," Rin continued, jabbing a finger at Sousuke's chest, "but that doesn't mean I want to give up on what we had. What we have." He paused. "I love you, Sousuke." The larger man smiled and moved his uninjured arm so he could touch Rin's face, bringing it closer to his lips and planted a soft kiss on his nose.
"I love you, too, Rin."
The ship sailed away from the coast, taking with it a couple hoping to fix their future and leaving another couple building their future.
One couple was swinging happily in the vines, howling and shouting to break the silence of the jungle, the other couple gathering as much money as they could to pay for the shoulder surgery.
One couple had to figure out how to live as the leaders of the troop, the other couple had to figure out how to live on such a low income.
Nevertheless, they were all happy.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you all enjoyed "The Ape-Man of the Jungle"! I love you all.
-love a sexy trash can