"There is something in this world which no one has ever seen.
It is soft and sweet.
If spotted, I'm sure everyone will want it.
For this, the world has hidden it quite well, that that it is difficult to obtain.
But, there will come a day when it is discovered by somebody,
And only those who obtain it will be able to find it.
If he opened his eyes, Ryuuji would also find it, as he firmly moved forward.
And so would Taiga.
That is all." - Toradora! Epilogue
"...Owwww...Sorry, are you- You. Y-y-y-you! Why...Why-w-why have you..."
He could only babble as his tongue was numb from both the collision itself and the shock of seeing her.
Aisaka Taiga sat before him, groaning and clutching her head as it had crashed into his chin. A little tear escaped her eye, likely from the pain of the collision. He wanted to hold her.
Orange-gold hair flowed long and wildly, hugging her doll-like body that hadn't grown an itch. Her face looked soft as her lips had felt and would have fit perfectly held in his hands. She was wearing her Ohashi uniform.
The sight was frighteningly surreal, so much so that he didn't dare touch her as to wake up from this dream. But how could he not? His love was an arm's length in front of him and hurt. Even if it was a dream, he needed to protect her-
GLARE! Taiga's tiny hands revealed her fierce amber eyes hidden under and with it, a murderous glare that did not ask for any protection. It was convincing as a pinch. The tiny Tiger decided her target, bore her teeth, and readied to pounce, but the Dragon needn't any prompt.
"RYUUJI! I'VE BEEN WAITING HERE ALL THIS TIME! WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG? WHY HAVEN'T YOU EMBR- OUF-"
The gentle Dragon coiled tightly around the fearsome Tiger, silencing her with his loving embrace. Any killing intent Taiga had was far gone, replaced with tearful joy. Fear, for at least this moment, ceased to take root inside Ryuuji, sown instead was happiness. Breathing deeply, the separated pair fought fiercely to become one, their thoughts surely connecting, their worlds absolutely together.
My tiger. My sudden, strong, cute, demanding, tiny, fierce, selfish, kind Taiga.
My dragon. My dragon- my dragon- my dragon! My gentle, reliable, astonishingly kind, delicious, loving idiot Ryuuji.
"You're back! Oh Taiga! Taiga! Taiga! Taiga! It's you! It's really you!"
"It's me Ryuuji! I'm back- I'm back- I'm back!"
Ryuuji had now lifted up Taiga, and spun her around. They laughed with tears in their eyes while they shouted again and again, I'm back! You're back! I'm back! You're back!
Their joy was so apparent that some onlookers who saw a fierce-eyed delinquent spinning around a doll-like little girl couldn't help but look past the strange scene and feel happy for the pair. However kind or judgemental the gazes were, Taiga and Ryuuji didn't notice. They were simply in their own, joy-filled world.
"Alright Ryuuji! You can put me down now!" Taiga said through giggles.
They had calmed down now, a bit embarrassed, but their hearts still fluttered. Ryuuji had so many questions, but would contain himself. Both of them needed time to take this all in.
"Why- how'd you come back? You dropped out," Ryuuji asked. He was still a bit skittish.
"Mom withdrew my application to drop out and changed it to only a leave. The school might not agree right away though, since I caused such a commotion. She didn't even tell me until recently. Arggh, everything's such a mess." Taiga ruffled her hair, overwhelmed. Ryuuji would have to fix it later.
Ryuuji's own frustration and loneliness overtook him. He instantly felt guilty. "What about your apartment? Where do you live now? Why haven't you contacted me at all? What were you even doi-"
"Ryuuji. Over there." Taiga pointed to a fairly modest-looking house behind him, just a block around the corner. She then motioned toward the white apartment complex that used to be her home. "I can't live here anymore, but my house over there is really close. You can visit!"
"Of course I will!" Of course he was.
She was beaming now. "We're still moving in, but my mom and new dad will be there. My little brother too! He's soo cute! They've rented this house all for me! Though, only if I take care of my little brother while she's at work. But still!"
With wet eyes and a smile, she went on, "Everyone's so kind. My old man isn't even shitty! He's...weird. In a good way. Did I mention how cute and well-behaved my little brother is? A dog like you should learn from his example." Her voice was laced with mischief and she moved so freely. It made his heart flutter even more.
"Ryuuji." Taiga stood tall and steadfast, so admirable was her fearlessness of everything. "I was sorting out some things with my family. It worked out really well. I'm so glad they're all so kind. Like you." She gave a him a soft smile. His heart ached.
"We'll be moving out when I graduate. So...I..I want to live the rest of my life with you. Marry me then." A deep blush spread across her face, but her proposal rang loud and certain. It was so cute, so sudden, so brave.
"Y-yeah..." was all Ryuuji could muster. Heat rose to his face. Taiga pushed further.
"Y-yeah?! Idiot, that's all? I-I'm proposing to you."
"I don't know what else to say!"
"How about something romantic?!"
"What?! And wait- Aren't I supposed to propose to you?!"
"What? Wait, r-right. No. Wait. AHH, IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER! JUST MARRY ME YOU IDIOT!!!"
Taiga was in such a profound state of blush, Ryuuji didn't even know the human face could go that red. His face must've been worse considering it seared on touch.
But now it was decided. Their dreams, their lives, their future. All were entwined with each other. As muddled as the future was, as raveled as their lives were, they would walk the same path and undo the same yarn. It was impossible for them to be one physically, but they would try their damnedest.
"An-anyways. I can't wait to see the look on everyone's faces. Yachan...Minorin...Kitamura...Stupid Chihuahua... I haven't told any of them yet."
"Taiga." Something came to mind. How could Ryuuji forget such an important thing to say?
"I love you."
"H-H-Huh?! Well, I-I love you too...AHHH YOU IDIOT!" Her stammers prefaced a great leap toward Ryuuji.
"What?- AUGHF-" There was no way he was dodging that. Taiga hugged - well rather tackled- him, sending them tumbling back to Earth. That inhuman shade of red had returned in full force. It was adorable. She buried herself in his chest, then shot a high-velocity finger at his cheek, twisting and stabbing.
"OW!" It hurt.
"I love you too...but couldn't you've chosen a more romantic place and time?" She cupped his cheeks, pulling at them like Play-Doh.
"Huh?! What about your proposal? That's wasn't very romantic. And I think right after is a pretty good time to say this."
"Hey! Stop pouting. We gotta go. Cmon! We're really gonna be late!"
"...Fine! But you're making me pork cutlets tonight!"
They looked into each other's still moist eyes and smiled. Ryuuji took her hand and Taiga took his. Together they began to run along th-
"TAIGA!!!" A young, blond, and very well-endowed woman was rushing down the stairs and toward Taiga, tears streaming from her doelike eyes. This woman was Ryuuji's mother.
"H-huh?! Ya-chan? I- OUF" Like mother, like son, Ryuuji thought as Yasuko's embrace with Taiga was both firm and gentle.
"TAIGA- TAIGA- TAIGA!!! YOU'RE BACK! WHERE WERE YOU?! WHY DID YOU JUST DISAPPEAR LIKE THAT?!" Yasuko was a terrifying mix of angry, sad, and ecstatic.
"Yachan, I-I can't breathe..."
"TAIGA YOU IDIOT!!!" Yasuko sobbed, and Taiga soon followed suit.
"YACHAN I'M SORRY!!!"
It was a remarkable sight and Ryuuji couldn't help but smile. Though he was saddened to end this heartfelt (and breastfelt) reunion, his conscientious nature predisposed him to take on the role of the wet blanket.
"Taaiiiga~ We're gonna be late."
"Ah- Yachan- We have to-"
"Yasuko..." Ryuuji smiled. He found comfort in that it wasn't just him and Taiga that were going on the same path. Yasuko. Kushieda. Kitamura. Kawashima. No matter what, they wouldn't be alone.
"Alright...Taiga you idiot...You better come visit...Catch up..." Yasuko managed say through sobs.
"I will Yachan, I definitely will! CMON RYUUJI, WE'RE GONNA BE LATE!"
"That's what I- Hey- Don't push me! BE CAREFUL! YOU'RE GONNA FALL!"