serena79: *dramatic music* and now... *drum rolls* the grand finale! Thanks a lot for being such a faithful reviewer!

Lady Tristana Rouge: *snicker* hell yea!...however, I do hope that your hate for Diamond is not that strong…

Namiko-Daughter of Sekhmet: Arigato!

Moonlightshadows: fired? *contemplates* *lights bulb lights up*

aurora: oh yes, chap. 16 was my second fave chapter to write…. in case you're wondering *you're probably not wondering, but I'm gonna tell you anyway,* my fave is chap. 5… and thank you for liking this story!

coey-sama: appealing to my conscience, huh? Well, I'm planning on getting rid of it by the end of this chapter. *bounce, bounce* But I'm really glad you liked this story *tries to bow, but is in chibi state so bow's kinda chibiish* I'm sorry to disappoint you, but yea, no more hurt before after this *and you think: 'well it's about time…'*

windswept-heaven: you think Michelle and Darien were weird? try Haruka and Chibiusa! That, my friend, is weird, and I think I got scared for life after reading that fan fic (fine, it was a parody of the whole SM series… but still)! This probably explains my weird pairings in this story. Please forgive me and do not sue me if I managed to traumatize you too… it was, er, not, uh, *really*, um, my intention… anyway… it was only for a short while, and besides wouldn't Darien look really cute wearing a Michelle on his side?... not to say that he is not cute with Serena… or anyone else… or just by himself(hang on there he's the cutest when he's just by himself… yes, I will stop this pointless ramble now). Thank you! I really hope you'll enjoy this last chapter too!

sally: thank you! hope you enjoy this one!

Tiffany: "soon" is a relative… for some of us *due to powers beyond their control* it is just a "distant" family member…*laughs at self for attempting to be philosophical*

kalinda: you forgot the "wait" there, but my ego forgives you! Just kidding, my humble self is overjoyed that you enjoyed this story!

Milady Goddess: there's that word "soon" again… I'm sorry to have kept you waiting… no, I really am… really, I am! *I don't sound convincing do I? Ok, I'll just blame the school again! And I really am sorry, and pissed because I want this story to be over soon! (cries)*

rosie: here's the last update, hope you enjoy it!

DragonAngel: Hmmm. I don't really know where your opinion stands on the funniness of Girl Got Game, but don't hate me when I say that after FAKE, GGG is my fave Funny Manga *you see I have different lists for my favourite funny manga and my favourite serious manga*. Lucky you! You get to read GGG soon, I have to wait until it gets here *I live in Sweden*. Damn.  Moving on to office romances: I don't really know if they are forbidden… if it is forbidden, then what do people do if they start up family businesses? I really don't know…but I'm glad you're able to allow me some, uh, Artistic License!*laughs at self for ever implying to be an artist when all she does is steal people's characters*

starzstuck-1: *chuckles* u make me happy!

Hot Cuttie: u happy me happy too! I thank you very much for feeding my ego that way! But don't worry, I'll only say that I'm a genius to my sister (I love to annoy her).

Hurt Before

*Hurt Before*

*Yeah we've all been hurt before

So you're not alone

No, you're not alone*

The staff of the Diamond and Shields Company were shocked speechless when Serena's matter was exposed on the meeting. Their glances raced from Darien to Serena to Damon. And if the matter were not so dead serious, one could laugh out loud at their faces. But no one could do that, Damon was pale as a ghost, hating to admit that Darien was right, that he should have left that witch alone. Serena blushed, she really found it uncomfortable to tell the whole company of her personal dealings, but she knew that she had to, to keep her own job, and to ensure that none of this would ever be repeated. Darien's face was dark with anger, he's feelings were bubbling up, and all that could cool them was some sweet revenge. Everyone else were just blank, there is no way to describe a person when s/he finds out that their role model employer is a complete jerk.

"So, the big bad wolf turned out to be innocent," Andrew finally managed to say sarcastically, trying to ease of the tension in the room, and to bring the others out of their state of shock.

"And we find out that the wolf is in a sheep's clothing," Rei added, not long after.

"Like that's news," Trista uttered with scorn dripping from her mouth, and Mina watched Diamond wince.

There was a long pause, and at last Michelle spoke up, quite angrily:

"How dare you? You ****ing bastard! We are all trying to keep the high profile that this company deserves to have, and you go and do things of that calibre? What are you, insane? Everyone here works their asses off, and you spend your time trying to seduce poor innocent employees, as if you don't work to do? Do you need mental help? Because I will immediately call a rehab and make sure that you get checked in!"

Then she turned to glance around the table, addressing everyone, "This behaviour is unacceptable! *I* would give you a week to hand in your resignation letter, Damon, and I hope that everyone joins me in asking you to leave."

There was silence, and it became clear to Darien that Michelle really had no compassion to spare, not even to her brother.

"Um," the ever logical Amy interrupted, "You might want to rethink your decision, Michelle, not because I side with Damon, but unless there is some one willing to replace him we don't have a choice but to keep him in and hush up this business," she uttered quietly. Then she turned to Serena, with a sympathetic glance, "I hate to be the one uttering this." She watched Serena give a friendly smile.

There was silence again. Trista and Mina were designers; they had work up to their necks, and did not need more. Michelle did not have the experience; she was just a lawyer after all. Rei, Lita, Amara, Amy, Serena and the rest of the staff did not have the qualifications… well, with the exception of Darien and Andrew.

Andrew tried to hide his happy grin, but Mina caught it, and under the table, she squeezed her husband's leg gently, giving him courage. Ever since he was young, it had been his dream to become the president of Diamond and Shields; he was convinced that he'd do a better job than Damon. And honestly, everyone in the Shields family would agree with him, but he never got the chance because he was the younger son. Now was his chance, but that's were Mr. Dilemma barged in. He couldn't just betray his own brother could he? Then he thought that it was his own sister that suggested Damon's resignation in the first place… But every one knew that Michelle's heart was as icy as her hair colour! Then he felt support from his wife, and he looked up to Darien uncertainly.

Darien gave him a "you go" look, as he really didn't want to take on the role of president, he was not a man who could handle extreme amounts of work, and still come home at a reasonable time. And if things went well with Serena, he'd probably be married in the course of some months, and then he'd really not want work to interfere with the happy big family life that he was planning on creating.

"I'm willing to replace Damon," Andrew said at last, trying hard to suppress his happy grin.

Damon starred at him with disbelief and anger, while Michelle, Amara, and Rei, being the cold hearted witches that everyone though they were, casually laughed. Everyone else sighed at their own tempo and strength with relief, and Amy looked pleased, as no one would remember her as the evil person who got Damon to stay in after such a scandalous incident.

"Well, then," Trista concluded looking hard at Damon, "You have a week to hand in your resignation letter, or we're afraid we'll have to fire you."

Soon the meeting moved on to other issues, and Damon barely said a word. He was stunned, and angry. But he understood that he had dug his own grave, so to speak. In reality, he didn't really care, as for him having a job was just like a hobby, as he already had all the money in the world to live on just by owning the stocks of the company. Besides, there wasn't really much he had to say.

It was Monday again, and the new secretary brought the pile to papers from the Presidents office to Trista's office. Later that day, Trista finally sat by her desk, after having been running around after models and materials and drawings, to do the bureaucratic side of her job. She looked through the papers in a disinterested manner, until she came across a curious bunt of stapled papers. Eagerly she started to read the report. Its contests turned out to be very surprising indeed, as she figured that it was not about her, but about Damon. To sum up the report: it basically stated that Damon had a problem with commitment much to due to the fact that he was still stuck in the past when it came to the issue of Trista, which was why Serena suggested that he should set up a meeting with Trista to talk, and say all that he told Serena on their sessions.

What Damon had told Serena in their sessions was not clarified in the report, so Trista was very curious. She also wondered why Damon put this along with *her* papers. She came to the conclusion that perhaps he did not have the courage to talk to her after all that has happened (she forgot that the report was dated as of many days before Friday). So she went over to his office to talk.

"You wanted to talk?" she started coming in with the report.

"Sorry?" Damon looked up from his work, "About what?"

"You tell me, after all it was you sent that stupid report," she replied annoyed.

"A report?" he questioned, "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Of all the mental illnesses that you may have, I think that Serena probably forgot to mention that you're senile as well," she yelled, obviously angry at his nerve. "I'm talking about this, you dolt," she said shoving the papers in his face, "Why did you put it in my papers, if your intention was not to talk? So I could pity you? Well, let me tell you this, I don't pity you! I never have, and never will!"

"Oh, this! I was wondering where I put it," he tried sweat-dropping, then he quickly wondered what the report might contain. "What does it say about me?"

"I suggest you read it yourself, Slime-ball," she snapped and walked out, annoyed at the fact that she wasted a good half hour on him again, just so he could spite her… again.

Inside the office Damon immediately let go whatever he was doing to read the report, wanting to know what Serena had written. He figured that whatever it was, it had to be pretty serious for Trista to come over and actually want to talk to him. He remembered that he had not seen Trista in his office even when the company was about to hit the rocks eight months ago, so what could possibly be more serious than that.

When he finished reading it, he could understand why Trista was so concerned. So, she wasn't a cold hearted woman that totally hated him after all, if she was willing to hear him out. Then he suddenly felt that it was urgent from him to tell her everything at once. And so he left his office running like a mad man trying to find her. When he finally caught up with her, she was about to leave, so he decided to just come by her apartment later in the evening.

And he did, with a bottle of wine of a good vintage. They had a long tête-à-tête, where Damon did most of the talking, repeating all that he had poured on Serena before Christmas. He observed, as he got further into his tale, that Trista's steel face grew softer by the minute, and by the end of it, she was looking down with a guilty expression.

"But, of course, I'm the one to blame," Damon said at last soothingly, "I should have not cheated on you. I know that it's too late to ask you to come back, so I'll just have to deal with it."

"No it's not…" Trista whispered.


"It's not too late, Damon, I can change, you know," she looked at him with tears in the eyes.

"You can't take be back!" he protested, "Not after that scandal… what will everyone say about you?"

"I don't care! If you love me and promise not to be unfaithful again, I will want you to come back to me… I love you."

Damon took a hold of her hand, "You deserve better, but if you really want be to come back, I will gladly obey you. And I promise not to be unfaithful, and I'll take Hotaru to school, clean the house, cook, and the whole nine yards."

Trista smiled, moving closer to him. "And I promise to come home early, and drive to pick nicks every weekend, and I'll tell you how much I love you and kiss you passionately when ever I see you," she replied laughingly, kissing him.

So, the months passed, while Darien's and Serena's love bloomed and Trista's and Damon's regained momentum. It's worth mentioning that Damon became quite the homemaker, and was quite happy with his role, as Trista became a more loving woman. Darien and Serena's relationship took a rockier path, as they did not know each other as well at Damon and Trista (they were childhood friends, as you no doubt know) did. Serena was definitely the more understanding person in their relationship, but Darien was more dependent on her, even when his mood took a turn to the worse and he became the rude old jerk for a day or two. Yet, Serena would not change anything about him; she thought he was perfect, as she was well aware that love wasn't a walk in the park, but a challenge.

Soon it was her birthday, it was late in the evening and she was home alone, with the lights down, feeling sad. Every one remembered it, even the people in the US, except the person that she was living with! And to add to her loneliness, he decided to be in his foul humour and to come home late. So, she felt that she had the right to feel the way she was feeling.

At around ten in the evening, the man himself made his entrance, gritting and growling, complaining about not finding food in the kitchen.

"What am I? Your maid?" she shouted at him angrily.

He didn't answer. "Why aren't you in bed already?" he continued to growl.

"Do you have a problem with my not being there?"

He ignored her and went to drop off his briefcase in their room, and when he came back he answered her, "Yes, I have! You're occupying my seat, and I want to watch the news without being bothered."

"I won't move… why do you have to be so mean? Why today of all days?" she said and burst out crying. "It's not fair…you're just a selfish brat, who doesn't give a damn about anyone else's feelings, no matter how dear the person is to you."

"Will you quit with your shrink talk," he remarked, removing her from his chair, carrying her into the bedroom, putting her down on her side of the bed, half carelessly. "Say, why are you with me, if you think I'm all that you mentioned previously?" he continued coldly.

"I know what you want me to say, and I won't say it today, Darien. I'm not going to console you today; I do it every time you're down, the least you could do is try to comfort me on the one day that means most to me. It's not fair…" she uttered hiding her face on her pillow.

Darien knelt down by the bed, in the dark room, where the only light was the waning moon that peeked in on them through the windows. Serena couldn't see him, and wondered why he was still there, and she yelled that he should leave her alone and go and watch his news now. But he remained there.

"Say, do you think you could marry a person like me?" he questioned after a while.

"I told you that I'm not going to console you this time, so you may as well go and watch your frigging news," she yelled.

"Seriously now, Serena, would you actually marry a selfish brat like me?" he pressed. She didn't answer. "It's a serious question, so I'd like an answer, please," he said in his cold voice.

There was a pause again, and Serena burrowed her head further into the pillow to stop her tears. It wasn't fair… "Yes," she said in a muffled voice. What did she see in that piece of foul humoured piece of matter? She didn't know, really, but she did love him, even when he was in a bad mood. She could always cheer him up when he was down. And when he was his normal self, he was so loving and caring. And it wasn't as if he slipped into a bad mood very often, but that today it was just a heck of a bad timing.

"Do you really mean that?" he continued.

"Yes!" she said annoyed facing to where she though he was, "What is your problem? Can't you leave me alone when you fail to celebrate my birthday? Must you continue to hurt me by making be admit something that I don't want to admit at the moment? You're truly cruel to degrade me so! I'm not your slave, you know! I'm supposed to be your girlfriend if you haven't noticed, and on one's girlfriend's birthday, one is usually nice you her… but you wouldn't know that, would you?"

He reached a hand to caress her back (not behind, but back) carefully, with affection. He whispered for her to sit up, and had to repeat it over and over until she obeyed. Then he felt his way to her face, and dried her cheeks.

"I had to be moody today," he whispered, "But I have a present for you." He reached for her hand and researched her fingers until he found the ring finger, then he reached for the ring in his pocket and slipped it into the finger.  "I wanted to be sure that you would not change your mind about marrying because on my mood changes…"  Then he found her lips and kissed her.

"What if I said 'no' then?" she asked quietly.

"I would probably end our relationship, and sulk for a few day, until I realised that I couldn't live without you,  then I'd come to you begging for you to marry me promising that I'd change," he answered between butterfly kisses that he  spread over her face.

"It's unlucky for me that I didn't say 'no' then," she sighed.

"Don't worry, I will work hard to please you, I will not to 'be mean to you' as you put it," he assured, "And I'm not planning letting you spend the rest of your birthday in such a miserable way; so I'll make it all up to you. You should go and get dressed, we're going out tonight."

"Oh, Darien!" she squealed happily, forgetting that she was mad just a few moments ago. "Where are we going?"

"Somewhere where there's ballroom music," he told her standing up, then helping her up too. He walked to turn on the lights, so that she might actually get dressed. That's when Serena came flying into his arms, and he had no choice (or rather, could not resist) but to hug her back.

"How I love you for being able to make this the worst day of my life and then turn it all around make it the best day of my life," she exclaimed.

"And I love you for being insane enough to want to marry the sadist person who dared to spoil the majority of your birthday," he said, and then he gave her a lengthy kiss.

"You know what?" she said much later, when they were ready to head out.

"What?" he uttered apprehensively, as he could see that evil grin she flashed at him.

"I want our wedding day to be on your birthday," she told him.

"You know how much I hate to celebrate my birthday, but I guess I owe you that much, don't I?"

"Yes, you do!" Darien simply kissed her, accepting that sweet torture, and he knew that she wanted her sweet revenge for his bad deeds.

Needless to say they did marry on the third of August, and as fate would have it, their first child was born on Serena's birthday, the following year (AN: Seriously, it does seem as if I like to put Serena through pain, doesn't it? *grins*). And of course, they lived healthily (AN: yes I mean healthily) ever after, supporting each other through their ups and downs.


That's it minna-chan! Now I will focus on Suppressed Feeling for while (well until it ends actually). It was awfully nice to have journeyed through this story with such great supporting and constructive reviewers. I am so obliged to you all!

Oh, and I will do one last of my pathetic advertisements: Pet Shop of Horrors! An insanely good manga is a balance of comic relief and the macabre! You will all love Count D, and feel sorry for Detective Orcot as he again and again fails to arrest our dear Count D. You will feel the angst in their love-hate relationship, and you will meet (to say the least) insanely strange people and pets! And since will censor away any kind of email address, I will not put the place were you can read more about it! *growl*…they did that to my Girl Got Game advertisement.