AN: Oh my god…I'm updating! Quick, someone call Hell and ask if it's snowing! But anyway, we're gonna keep on trucking as we near the conclusion. Read on, my friends! I don't own CCS. I'm merely playing with them for my own amusement.


Hiding No More

When Kita opened her eyes, she was immediately aware that something was different. She didn't know what exactly, but she felt very strange. But she also felt very tired, and so she decided that getting up was not going to happen immediately. Even without opening her eyes, she was aware that the room was very bright. Was it morning?

Instead, she stayed where she was—she assumed she was safe in her bed, judging by the softness beneath her and the warm feeling of a blanket on top of her—and she tried to remember how she had gotten here. Something had happened, she was sure. But she couldn't remember what.

Her thoughts drifted back to the day before. Eriol-san had said he wanted to show her something, her and Kenji both. They had accompanied him out to the woods after the sun had disappeared behind the distant horizon—he had said he was going to do something to help them unlock their magic and find their power faster. On Eriol-san's request she had closed her eyes, and then there was the feeling of magic around her, tingling against her skin…

And that was all she remembered.

What had happened? She had asked Eriol-san if whatever it was he intended to do would hurt them, and he had said no. He had told them that they would feel a bit strange perhaps. And he was right. Oh, was he right—she felt disoriented and strange. Still, enough was enough. She had laid abed long enough—time to get up and see if she could find out what had happened to them.

Briefly, she thought of Kenji and wondered if he was all right. She decided that she would find him straight away and find out. Perhaps Eriol-san's plan had worked—if whatever he had done had awakened their untapped magic…she wondered what new things she would be able to do with that magic. Maybe she would be able to help them fight the Slayers after all!

Now in an unusually good mood, she turned to swing her legs out of bed, pushed herself to her feet…and promptly fell over, winding up flat on her face on the hardwood floor beside her bed in a tangle of arms and legs that did not feel like her own. She knocked her head hard enough that she saw stars for a moment—they were so pretty—but she shook her head, and they cleared away quickly enough. That done, she tried to push herself up to a sitting position, only to notice that something was very very wrong.

Her arms…they seemed a great deal longer than they had been yesterday.

In fact, her whole body felt—and looked—strange. Taller. Longer. Gangly…

What in the world was going on?

Kita's good mood had completely disappeared. In its wake was left confusion and panic. She reached up with those long arms and grabbed onto the bed. Using it as leverage, she managed to pull herself back to her feet. Once standing, she held onto the footboard and didn't dare move until she felt like she was relatively steady. While she was standing there, she spared a moment to look down at herself. Her initial feeling was confirmed—she was a LOT taller than she had been the previous day.

She let go of the bed and started moving slowly across the room. When she got within arm's reach of the dresser, she reached out with both hands and took hold of the top of it to brace herself. Once steady, she lifted her head and looked in the mirror on the wall.

And Kita screamed at the unfamiliar face that looked back at her.

"Kita-chan!"

She heard Tomoyo-san's voice in the hallway accompanied by pounding footsteps rushing towards her room. But she did not move her eyes from the mirror, not even when the door was flung open and Tomoyo-san burst into the room with Nakuru-san hot on her heels. "Kita-chan!" Tomoyo gasped, evidence of her sprint to get here. "Are you all right…" The words trailed off as she actually took a look at the girl standing in front of the dresser, staring into the mirror in horror.

"What…what happened to me?" Kita stammered, lifting one hand to cover her mouth. "Tomoyo-san, what is—who is…" She couldn't even manage a coherent question.

"It's all right," Tomoyo crossed the room and put her hands on Kita's shoulders. "Kita-chan, that's you."

"But…but…I'm not that old!" she protested. "What happened?"

Tomoyo turned and gave a hand-signal to Nakuru, who nodded and turned to jog back down the hall in search of Eriol. She conducted the search with her usual quiet and subtlety—by calling for the sorcerer by name at the top of her lungs. Sighing, but appreciating the effort, Tomoyo returned her attention to the terrified girl at hand. "I think that's best explained by the one responsible."

She guided Kita out of the room and down the stairs with the intent of taking her to Eriol's study…but they ran into a road block on the way there. Namely, Eriol himself.

Who was being confronted by a teenaged boy with shaggy brown hair and dark, blazing eyes.

Kita stopped short on the stairs, staring at the boy.

Eriol noticed them first, and turned to them with a tired smile. "Ah, good morning!"

The boy turned to glare at them…but the glare immediately softened as his eyes met Kita's. She swallowed hard and said, "…Kenji-kun?" When he nodded, her eyes widened slightly.

Eriol looked back and forth between the two of them for a moment before he cleared his throat. "Well…I think the two of you are entitled to an explanation. Shall we go to the study and have a talk?"

Kenji's expression hardened as he look back towards the sorcerer. "Better be a damn good one."

"Of course."

Kita looked back over her shoulder at Tomoyo, who nodded as well, and they followed Eriol.

-o-

Touya watched silently from the top of the stairs as Eriol led the two newly-minted teenagers into his study, with Tomoyo bringing up the rear. He didn't turn around as footsteps came up behind him; instead, he kept his eyes on the young woman with the auburn hair.

"Are you all right?" Yukito asked from behind him.

"…she looks exactly the same," Touya replied quietly after a few seconds had passed. "Do you think she'll ever remember the truth?"

"Eriol says that she still carries the memories. They will come out at some point. It's just a matter of what will cause them to surface," Yukito replied, walking forward a few steps to stand beside him. "When those memories awaken, the Cardcaptor will truly return. The same goes for Kenji."

Touya nodded. "You know…I don't have my magic anymore. I gave it to Yue—to you—to stop you from disappearing. I can't see things the way I did when I was that age. But I still have a bad feeling…" He turned away, leaning back against the railing; Yukito had a perfect view of his dark expression. "I can't shake this feeling that I'll never truly get to see my sister again."

-o-

The two teenagers shifted uncomfortably in their chairs as Eriol moved to sit at his desk. Tomoyo stood behind them, one hand on the back of each of their seats. She was there for support—both of the children (though they technically were no longer children) trusted her, and so she would be there for them.

"What I told you yesterday was true," he began. "I told you I was going to do something to help bring your magic out and awaken it to its fullest potential. This is the result. Magic will grow and develop as the one who possesses it grows. The training I gave you at the beginning consisted of the basics—learned to tap your magic, and control it. You have conscious control. By bringing you up to this age, we are also going to bring you into your magic."

"Why didn't you tell us that it would do this to us?" Kita asked softly.

Eriol smiled sadly. "Patronizing as it may sound, I didn't want to scare you. The fact is that you two could potentially be the key to defeating the Slayers. And for that to happen, we need you to be at your peak. I know it's a lot to ask, but…we need you."

"…what do we have to do?" Kenji asked. He sounded suspicious.

"Just what you've been doing. Learn to use your magic. Learn to fight. Learn to utilize the tools we've given you," Eriol said. "When the time is right…I will show you the true extent of your powers." He looked down at the pink and gold book on his desk, but did not show it to them. "When the time is right…"

-o-

"Make your report," the Captain said curtly, not looking up from the papers on his desk.

"Reports say that there is something amiss in the northern sector, sir," the Guard said in a low voice.

"Oh?" the Captain suddenly seemed far more interested. "Such as?"

"It is possible that there are people hiding there, sir," the Guard replied. "Possibly a Resistance base."

"…send the Guard to check it out. Immediately," the Captain said sharply. "Report back as soon as possible with any details."

"Yes, sir."

-o-

Time passed, as it has a tendency to do.

The changes in Kita and Kenji were remarkable, both in their magic and in their character. Both were growing more proficient in their use of simple magic and more complex magic, both by hand and through the tools Eriol had given them, sword and wand.

Even Kenji had finally shed his disinterested attitude towards the magical arts, and now welcomed the training. It would make him stronger, and thus he would be able to fight. His progress was impressive, and he was starting to find his own style, incorporating some of his old street moves onto a unique magical style. It worked, and worked well.

Kita was growing more confident. Her skills were not yet as polished as Kenji's, but her actual abilities far surpassed his. Though she still lacked finesse, she had proven herself quite capable by holding her own against Eriol on a few occasions. After one such mock-duel, in which they had deadlocked, he had smiled and told her that he had not been holding back. She had matched him at full power…and there was still more in her that wasn't coming out.

They weren't the only ones undergoing a change, though. There was a change in the most stoic member of the Resistance as well: Kinomoto Touya. When she wasn't practicing or training, Kita spent a great deal of time with him. He told her stories of his sister; he seemed to smile more.

And the relationship between the two teenagers was changing as well. The signs were small—a soft word here, a slight touch there. Nothing serious, but enough to betray a growing attraction to a watchful eye. It was only a matter of time before infatuation blossomed into something more; those who knew the two best as they had been were quite certain that history would repeat itself in this case.

Such was the state of affairs one afternoon when Kita wandered into the kitchen while Tomoyo and Rika were having a conversation…

-o-

When she heard the word "sakura" come out of Tomoyo's mouth, Kita was startled. It was a Forbidden Name, after all, and so she asked about it. "Tomoyo-san? What are you talking about?"

Tomoyo smiled. "I was just saying that the sakura are blossoming. And I know what you're thinking—I'm talking about the flower, not the name." Kita looked relieved, and so Tomoyo went on. "There used to be entire festivals around those flowers. We would go out and watch them—hundreds, if not thousands of people would go and observe the flowers."

"I've never seen them…" Kita sighed. "Not like you're describing, at least."

"…why don't you ask Eriol if he minds you going out?" Tomoyo suggested. "If you go a little further up in the hills, there's a gathering of trees there. It's absolutely lovely. Ask Eriol if he minds—I don't know if he had anything he wanted you to do for training today."

Kita said a quick thanks and ran to find Eriol.

"If you're careful," he said after a moment's thought. "Maybe you should take Kenji with you. I'd feel better if you weren't alone. If the need arises, use your magic to protect yourselves. I think you'll be all right, though. You should go see them—they're beautiful."

Thrilled, Kita caught Kenji in the hallway. "We're going out for a bit!"

"…we are?" Kenji blinked.

"Eriol-san said we could go see the sakura—the flowers are supposed to be blooming now!" she said excitedly. "Please come with me? Eriol-san says he'd prefer if I didn't go alone. Please?" She clasped her hands together and gave him a pleading look.

And try as he might, Kenji couldn't resist it. He sighed and agreed, and they headed out into the hills. The trip there was relatively uneventful, the conversation light and simple. The hills in question were steep and rocky in a few places, and so finding their way was a bit tricky in some spots. But finally, they climbed over a large rock…and found themselves staring down over a valley that seemed to be filled to overflowing with white-pink flowers, as far as the eye could see.

"Oh, wow…" Kita breathed, taking in the sight. Beside her, she heard Kenji murmur a similar response.

It was easily one of the most beautiful sights either of them had ever seen.

They sat and just looked out over it for a long time. The breeze even carried a few petals up to them. Kita managed to catch a whole flower that somehow floated to her, and put it in her hair, just to be silly. But overall, there was something so tranquil and calming about this place, this sight…it seemed so at odds with the things that went on in their day-to-day lives.

The sun had moved a considerable distance across the sky and was starting to set when they both sighed and decided that they should head back. As they climbed to their feet…they heard voices nearby.

Both immediately started looking, scanning their surroundings for any sign of movement that suggested human activity. And they saw the source of the voices—at the exact same moment that the Guard spotted them from further up in the hills.

"Run!" Kita gasped, and they both clambered down the hill as fast as they could, searching for a place to hide. Eriol had told them that they could—and should—use their magic to defend themselves if the situation called for it, but nature's famous 'fight or flight' instinct had kicked in, and it preferred flight to fight as was possible.

Kenji jumped off a large boulder a little ahead of her; Kita followed, and gasped when he grabbed her arm and pulled her with him into a small crevice between two large boulders. It was almost like a cave, surrounded on both sides and above by stone. The opening was small, but there was a surprising amount of room beyond that opening. It was in that space that they huddled together, listening as the voices drew nearer. If their pursuers found them…they could use their magic from inside this protective cage.

But fear had taken its hold. Kita had been brought up by her adoptive family to fear the Slayers and their Guard, and one could not immediately shed a notion that one had lived with for a lifetime. The deeply rooted fear she had held since childhood rose, and before she realized it, Kita felt herself start to cry. It was horrible and childish, but…she just couldn't help it.

"Shh!" Kenji shushed her, alarm plastering itself across his features.

She put both hands over her mouth to try and stop the sound, but small hiccups still escaped. And the voices were coming closer and closer. If the Guard heard them…

At a loss for what else to do, both to quiet her and to distract her from her fear, Kenji did the first thing that came to mind. It was the only thing he could think of, and in a moment of desperation he did it.

He grabbed Kita's wrists, pulled her hands away from her mouth, and pressed his lips against hers. Hard.

Kita made a small sound of surprise…and then fell silent.

They stayed like that, pressed against the back of the small cave, waiting as the voices drew nearer…and then passed. But they could still hear the Guard moving around in the hills, looking for the two people they had seen out there. Even after the hills went silent again, they didn't dare to leave. What if some had been left behind to continue the search or watch for the fugitives if and when they crawled out of hiding?

So they stayed there…and as the sounds outside grew softer, Kenji pulled away. He swallowed hard and moved back, away from her. As the darkness moved upon them, they simply looked at each other. With the darkness, though, came another problem—the temperature began to drop. And it wasn't long before they both began to shiver.

"Kenji-kun…" Kita whispered.

"Hmm?"

She didn't actually say anything else, but instead moved over and sat next to him, wrapping her arms around him. When he started in surprise, she said, "I'm cold. You're cold. Let's just try to stay warm together, okay?"

He nodded mutely and shifted a little, sliding his arms around her in turn.

After a while, Kita spoke again. "Ne, Kenji-kun?"

"What?"

"…why did you kiss me?"

"I didn't want the Slayers to hear you."

"Oh…" There was a wistful tone in that one whispered syllable that made him wonder…

On an impulse he was sure he would regret, Kenji turned his head. "Hey…"

When she turned to look at him, he hesitated for a second before leaning forward and kissing her again.

This time, she reacted quickly, recovering from her surprise to return the favor. It certainly wasn't expert, especially as the kiss deepened and hands began to explore a bit more, but it felt so wonderful for the two of them to be there together like that…it seemed so right

And neither of them was really cold anymore.

-o-

"We saw something in the hills," the Guard said, kneeling. "There seem to be people hiding there."

"Excellent work," the Captain said. He rose and smirked. "Order the strike immediately. We will move at first light." His grin grew more feral. "Let's flush out the rats once and for all."

-o-

When dawn broke, Kenji crept from their hiding place and peered around. He heard no sounds, saw no one, and sensed nothing. It seemed that their pursuers had left the hills. They had made it through a very long night. For the moment, at least, they were safe. "Come on, it's okay," he turned and called back softly, gesturing for her to follow.

Kita climbed out, squinting in the early morning light. She accepted Kenji's offer of an assisting hand and together they were able to climb back up onto the rocks. The sun was creeping over the horizon, bathing the sky and the hills in an array of reds and golds.

But the beauty of the sunrise was marred by what had become of the valley. The previous afternoon there had been sakura trees as far as the eye could see, scattering pale petals everywhere. And now…

There was nothing left, save for the remnants of charred tree trunks. The entire valley had been burned, the trees destroyed. The Guard had probably done it as part of their search, trying to burn them out of hiding…and the result was devastating. Given the nature of it all and the lack of smoke and noise that they'd heard while in their hiding spot, it was entirely possible that this was the work of magic.

"We should get going," Kita said softly. "They're probably wondering where we are." That was only part of it; the other part of it was that she wanted to get away from the scene. What had been so beautiful a short time before was now obliterated, and it broke her heart.

Somewhat reluctantly, they both tore away from the loveliness of the dawn and the sadness of the decimated trees and began climbing over the rocks, heading back towards the Safe House. For a long while, they moved along quietly, not saying much beyond cautioning the other to watch their step.

As the Safe House came into view, Kenji stopped. Kita went on a few more steps before she realized he had paused, and she turned to look at him. "What is it?"

He looked down at the ground. "About last night…I-I'm sorry." He felt his face go red as he thought of it. Kissing her…it was a dream he hadn't know he'd been keeping until it had actually happened. He wasn't apologizing because he regretted it. He was apologizing because in that moment when he had first kissed her to keep her quiet and avoid the attention of the Guard…he had realized exactly how much she meant to him. And he didn't want her to be upset over it.

To his surprise, Kita blushed in return…but smiled. "It's okay. I didn't mind."

They stood there for a moment, staring at each other, as something warm and happy stirred deep down. Strange…it felt like it was something that had always been there, just waiting for the moment when it could finally be released.

But they couldn't just stand there forever. Kita reached for his hand, and he reached back, and hand in hand they made their way down to the Safe House, passing through Eriol's barrier—after Kita's earlier exploit with the Guard, Eriol had made a point of teaching them how to traverse the shields.

Sure enough, the entire place was in an uproar. When they walked into the house, they were descended upon immediately. Tomoyo in particular was wringing her hands in a panic and kept muttering to herself about how she shouldn't have let them go alone, what was she thinking, she was an idiot, and the like. They tried to explain amidst the scoldings.

But the lectures died as soon as they mentioned seeing the Guard in the hills. And the mood shifted from concerned and relieved to horrified when they said they had been seen up there, though they had hidden and not been found.

They omitted the part about how they had spent their time in hiding. Somehow, they had silently come to a mutual agreement that the others really didn't need to know that they had kissed—a lot—and enjoyed a few nervous touches along the way. That was not something they intended to share.

As they finished their story, Eriol began giving rapid orders, and others began flying to obey them. But he stopped in mid-sentence and closed his eyes as a deep shudder seemed to course through his entire body. It was powerful enough that he had to grip the staircase railing for support.

"Eriol-kun?" Tomoyo asked, concerned. She put one hand on his shoulder.

"…they're attacking the shields," he said, voice slightly shaky. "There's an attack in progress as we speak." He looked towards the door, as if trying to peer through the walls of wood and stone and see out to where the attackers were. His expression darkened. "They've found us."

-o-

The Safe House was like a wasp's nest, with everyone flying around left and right to ready for the impending attack. There were already certain preparations set, but still…the idea that the Safe House could be found seemed like such a remote possibility. Yet now it was an all-too-frightening reality, and all of them knew full well that it could be their last stand.

Eriol gave a few orders and sprinted to his study. He had left the Sun Staff on his desk earlier—a rare display of stupidity, he privately thought. He wasn't usually so careless.

Tomoyo was right on his heels. She opened a closet and retrieved her own weapon—after the Slayers had taken over and the Resistance formed, she had decided that she needed to learn some manner of self defense. Though she walked amongst the upper class and rubbed elbows with the elite, she always knew, deep down, that someday she would be found out. It seemed today was that day.

The bow and arrow were well-cared for and kept in prime condition. It was a primitive weapon, but given her lack of magical abilities, a long-distance weapon seemed her best choice. And though she hated to do it, when the rare need came up she could be deadly accurate with it.

She was fishing into the quiver to retrieve the ribbon she kept there for tying her hair back when Eriol grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet. "Come on, let's go," he said shortly, pulling her away from her weapon. "There's not much time."

"Eriol-kun, what do you think you're doing?" she asked, bewildered.

"I'm taking you and a few of the others," he replied, "and locking you in the basement."

"…what?" Tomoyo blinked. She was stunned, to say the least.

"If you're found bound and locked up," he went on, pulling her towards the basement door, "you can say that you were taken as a hostage. You have the name and the respect to be believable, as well as being a worthy target because of your wealth and standing."

"Eriol-kun—"

"If there are others with you telling the same story, it could save all of your lives."

"Eriol-kun—"

"You can tell them about the horrible mental and emotional tortures we put you through—"

"ERIOL!" Tomoyo finally screamed his name—without the usual honorific—and wrenched her arm free of his grasp, just outside the basement door. When he turned to look at her, she met his eyes angrily. "I having been hiding from them for ten years now. I'm sick of it!"

"Tomoyo-san, go!" he said, frustration coloring his tone. "If things go wrong—if this really is to be our last stand—at least you'll have a chance to live. You can still do some good for this world!"

She stood there silent, unmoving. Just when he thought that maybe he'd won the argument, she closed the distance between them in two strides. She grabbed the front of his shirt in both hands and dragged him down into a bruising kiss.

Eriol's staff dropped to the floor with a clatter. One of his hands snaked around her waist, crushing her against him, while the other braced against the wall. Tomoyo clung to him, both her hands tangling in his hair as ten long years of restraint and pent-up frustrations and longings came pouring out, spurned on by one bold move borne of a desperate moment.

The attack that had seemed so frightening and imminent only a moment before was now nothing more than a minor thought in the back of both their minds. It wasn't right of them to ignore the danger in favor of this, but neither cared. It could very well be their last chance.

For Eriol in particular…he had given so much of himself these past years to keep everyone safe and protect the hope that someday the Cardcaptor would return to set things right in the world. Was it so wrong of him to want something just for himself? Was that selfish?

When they broke the kiss, there were a few beats of silence as they both tried to catch their breath. Tomoyo smiled and touched one hand to the side of his face. "I refuse to lie anymore. No matter what happens here, I will stand with you. And if need be, I will go to my death with you."

"Tomoyo…" he whispered her name sans the usual '-san' on the end. And he smiled. "I love you."

-o-

"What's going on?" Kita watched everyone run around in a panic. "What do we do?" She saw people grabbing weapons, shouting at each other…it was frightening. Eriol-san had said there was an attack on the shields—was this going to be the battle they were told they would have to fight?

She let her hand reach out and find Kenji's. He gave her fingers a squeeze that was enough to both reassure her and let her know that he probably felt the same way she did. She was grateful for him, grateful for how far they had really come.

Hands touched their shoulders, and they both turned to find Yukiko standing over them. "Come with me," he said, his soft voice unusually brusque. "Quickly—we don't have much time." He looked worried, a contrast to his usual easygoing demeanor.

They obediently followed him into Eriol's study. He moved behind the desk and addressed them in that same rushed manner. "You have the tools that Eriol gave you?" When they produced the wand and sword, he nodded approvingly. "Good. You are going to have to use them."

"Is this the fight?" Kita asked.

"This is it, Kita-chan," Yukito replied. "You two will have to fight. It's probable that you will have to hurt other people, and there's a possibility that you could yourselves be hurt or killed. There's no reason to hide that fact from you—if anything, I suspect you're more aware of it than many of us. But you two must not die here today. If something goes wrong, you need to take this." He held up a pink book, decorated ornately in gold. "Take this book and run. Get away from this place. Whatever happens here, this book must not fall into the Slayers' hands. Do you understand me?"

The two teenagers nodded mutely.

"Good," Yukiko nodded. "I think it's time."

He led them back to the main entryway, where most of the Resistance fighters and sorcerers had gathered. They had taken arms; those who used magic had readied their own tools. It was silent and grim in the room.

Nakuru and Suppie were standing beside Eriol. He looked at them and said something, softly enough that he could not be heard. The two nodded, and the sorcerer raised his staff. Magic flared and surged around the two. A moment later, it vanished, and where the two had been now stood a tall woman and a black panther, both with butterfly-like wings.

Kero-chan flew over to them, but before he could speak, Kenji asked, "Who are they? What happened?"

"Nakuru is Ruby Moon. Suppie is Spinel Sun," he replied. "They help Eriol." The little creature then addressed Yukito. "I think it's our turn now."

"I think you're right," Yukiko nodded, and closed his eyes as he was enveloped in white wings. Beside him, Kero-chan did the same. A magic circle flared on the floor beneath the both of them. The assembly looked on in wonder.

When the white feathers parted, Kero-chan had gone from being the size of a plush toy to being a full-grown lion, with an ornamented breast plate and large white wings. Yukito had been replaced by a tall, somber-looking man swathed in white and blue.

As everyone looked on—for this was not a transformation they had witnessed—Kita looked up at the being who had replaced Yukito. "It was you…" she said softly. "You're the one I saw in the woods that night."

"His name is Yue," Kerberos spoke up.

"Yue…" Kenji repeated softly.

The conversation was stalled then as Eriol spoke up and addressed the crowd. "Whether we are ready for them or not, they are on our doorstep. Fight well, fight bravely, and pray that Fate will decide this in our favor." As a rule, Eriol did not believe in such things, but given the circumstances it would be rather nice to feel that there was a higher being watching out for them at this point.

He turned and led them outside. Everyone rallied around him—their leader, their savior and protector. They owed their lives to him, and would stand beside him to the end. Tomoyo stood right next to him, her bow and arrow slung over her shoulder. She gave his hand a squeeze and smiled at him. "This is it…"

With a nod, Eriol took a deep breath, raised his staff…and dropped the shields.


PS. Okay…whew. So we finally updated this. I did some serious soul-searching on this fic, and I decided that the next chapter will, in fact, be the conclusion. Then this fic will be done. The fact is that I'm not much in the CCS fandom anymore—haven't been for a while—but I do want to finish this fic. So I'm going to do my best to give it a good ending.

In January, there's a challenge on LiveJournal called Fic Off, in which the goal is to finish a work-in-progress. I would very much like to finish the last chapter of this story by the end of the month for that challenge. So wish me luck, and I hope you'll tune back in for the conclusion.

Thanks for reading, all! Much love!