"Akio and Juri: Based on a True Story"

Chapter Six – The FINAL Chapter!

By Angel Sentier and Pandari

Without meaning to, Juri's footsteps began to slow as she and Akio approached the poolside, the place where their adventure had first started out. She was surprised to realize that she really didn't want the evening to end, especially when she had been so distrustful of him at first. Of course, that wasn't entirely her fault. Akio's smooth, effortless charm instinctively put Juri on her guard. But really, he was a playful guy, and someone who had tried his hardest to make her forget her problems for a little while. He was a bit like Touga, really... Just less like a man-whore than Touga was.

She didn't even really mind the fact that his hand lightly rested at the small of her back, a light companionable touch. Akio turned to look at her with concern when she stopped walking completely.

"What is it, Juri?"

"This is it, isn't it?" she said, her gaze downcast. "After this, the spell is broken and it all goes back to before. I'm Miss Arisugawa and you're Mr. Chairman. We won't be friends anymore. And, no offense, even though you've done a wonderful job of helping me to forget my problems for a while, I'm no closer to solving them than I was when we first started this walk. We can't walk anywhere else, we've gone everywhere, so what am I supposed to do?"

She lifted her eyes to look at him and for a moment he appeared thoughtful. Then, he smiled as his gaze lit on something near Juri's foot. He knelt down and picked it up before she could see what it was. Straightening, he took her hand in his and placed something small, round, and metallic on her palm.

It was a gold hoop earring. No sign of its mate anywhere and no sign of the person it might belong to either. She looked at him, quizzically. What was she supposed to do with this?

"Here's what you do," he said, very seriously. "You take the ring. You put on the ring. You say, 'Arrrrrr.'"

She blinked, then burst out laughing. A real laugh, loud and full-bodied, her head thrown back, her eyes squeezed shut against tears. When Akio offered her a tissue from the purloined tissue box, she threw her arms around him in an enormous hug.

"Thank you!" she cried. "That was exactly what I needed to hear!"

Akio returned her hug, then pulled back to smile at her. "I'm glad."

Not knowing where the earring had previously been, Juri stuck the hoop on her thumb, where it just fit. "Arrrrr!" she gave her best pirate growl and began laughing again.

Akio just smiled. "That's much better. A smile fits you so much more than a frown, Juri."

"You charm by the book, Akio."

"I take that as a compliment."

They laughed together, but Juri furrowed her brow as she continued to look at the ring around her thumb. Showing it to him, she asked, "Akio... Does this mean we're engaged?"

He stared at the ring for a minute, then a slow smile spread across his features. Rather than reply, he just wrapped an arm around her waist. Suddenly, a sleek red convertible drove up out of the pool and pulled up beside them, despite being driverless.

"Remote control," he whispered, then winked at her, holding a finger to his lips. "Shh... No one knows it." He opened the door of the passenger side for her and without a word, she entered the soft leather interior.

Draping an arm across her shoulders, Akio pulled his hair out of its customary ponytail and his shirt, as if by magic, opened halfway, revealing much of his chest. He caught her staring and shrugged sheepishly. "It always does that when I get in the car. I think you have to be partially naked to drive this car, it's in the warrantee." He revved the engine. "Where to?"

"Anywhere, Akio."

"I'll take you to the end of the world."

As they sped off, the red and white roses flew through the air, torn from Juri's ear and Akio's shirt respectively by the wind. As they tumbled to the ground near the pool, something else glinted through the air and landed on top of the two blossoms.

In the morning, the girls' swim team would find the pieces of a shattered gold locket scattered among the bruised remains of one pink rose.

THE END

Author's Note: Remember, think symbolism, people! I hope you enjoyed this fic, I know it was really amusing when it happened to me and Pandari. Maybe I can convince her to write this story from Akio's perspective, since I've done the whole thing from Juri's. If you see me at an anime convention, I hope you'll take a picture of me in my Juri costume. Perhaps my lovely fiancée, Akio, will be there, too.