Author's note 1: I finally made it back home. I managed to disentangle myself from family and relatives with minimal bloodshed and permanent scarring. The popular question this holiday: "When are you going to be done with school?" After the tenth time I was asked, I was tempted to say something smart ass like, "Whenever I get out of rehab for my crack addiction," or something like that. Unfortunately, my family would respond with, "Really? When I went to rehab…" I love my family, but we're not very (I believe the word is) functional. But I survived. Yay!

I'm sorry it took so long for me to post this last chapter. Again, I blame those blasted holidays. But I will say that the extra time allowed me to think through the plot a bit more and made this story much better than I had thought out originally.

Oh. And I know I promised WAFF. I'm not sure if this chapter technically counts as WAFF. But it did give me the warm fuzzies to write it. And here is where I attempt to earn my PG-13 rating. So you have all been warned. And all review acknowledgements are at the end.


Groping

By Starzki

Chapter 5: Trust and Light

- - -

Sango broke the contact between us. I heard her sharp intake of breath and careful steps as she tried to walk on her injury. I don't know how, but I managed to hear her wince. Maybe I was just expecting it, or maybe I heard myself wince for her, but there was definitely some wincing going on.

"Is it serious?" I asked.

"No, I can walk it off. It's already feeling better."

"Knee?"

"Ankle."

"Ouch."

Sango chuckled at me as she continued to pace, slowly at first, but with gaining speed and confidence. After dull thuds and rustling weeds announced that she was able to hop up and down on her injury, I relaxed and indulged in the completely selfish thought, Good. Now Sango will still be able to guide me.

After a few moments of silence, I wondered if I wasn't wrong, if she was covering up her injury. "What's the matter?" I asked.

Sango laughed. "I was just looking around. You and I did some damage. There's quite a mess. Scavengers will be visiting this spot for weeks."

"We've always made a good team," I responded.

Sango didn't seem to have any response to that observation. Not an auditory one, anyway. I felt myself make another unhappy face, wishing for sight or anything that could tell me how Sango was reacting. I wanted to know if I was affecting her like she was affecting me. Being able to actually touch her was somehow making her more real to me. It was making me not only want to be around her all of the time, but wanting Sango to let me touch her all of the time.

Obviously not reading my thoughts, Sango grabbed my hand and led me around the youkai corpses and back to our camp. We finished our interrupted breakfast and cleaned up camp.

Then, Sango decided to head back to the forest path that we had been following yesterday. It would be better to meet Inuyasha and the others there. We would lose less time if they could find us easier.

So, again, we made our way through the forest, eventually finding the path. And, again, I was becoming very fatigued with the simple process of walking. Every concentrated thought was involved with keeping me upright and walking. My face hurt from frowning at my lack of progress. Fighting had come so easily. Why was walking so hard?

My growing frustration was broken by Sango crying out and falling. I had heard her stub her toe on a clump of grass and she went down. I mentally berated myself for forgetting her twisted ankle by being so self-absorbed with my own problems. While I had half-caught her by hanging on to her elbow, she was still more sprawled on the ground than she was standing, so I lowered her as gently as I could.

"Ugh," groaned Sango. "It's okay, I just stepped on it wrong."

I sank to sit next to her, facing her. "We'll rest."

"No, I can keep going. I'm fine."

"That may be, but I'm tired and would like to rest." I felt snappy, but kept my tone even. I knew that we both needed the rest and she would sit still and not injure herself further if she thought she was doing it for me.

As I felt my muscles unbunch and my mind begin to wander to pointless things, and to Sango, I heard her rubbing her sore ankle every once in a while. After a long silence, she spoke. "You look deep in thought. What are you thinking?"

I answered honestly, "You." Throughout this whole ordeal, I had been bargaining with whatever powers there are to give anything I had, to do anything I could if I could only see again. I had officially run out of things to trade as I wished I could see Sango's reaction.

Sango went still, even holding her breath. Then she responded with concern in her voice, "Then why do you look so unhappy?"

"I was thinking that you're just too quiet."

"Too quiet?" she echoed dubiously.

I opened my mouth to explain but faltered. I tried again. "I'm used to just looking at your face guessing what you're thinking by your expression. Now, I can't tell at all because you're too quiet about it."

More quiet assaulted my ears as Sango thought about what I had just said. Then, apparently making a decision, she shifted closer to me and said, "I have a bad feeling I'm going to regret this, but my uncle could tell our expressions by touching our faces. I supposed I could let you. But you behave yourself."

My eyebrows shot up in surprise and my mouth dropped. I needed to be sure I had heard her correctly. "You're saying that it's okay for me to touch your face."

Sango sighed. "Yes, Houshi-sama. That's what I'm saying. That way I can be as quiet as I like and you can guess what I'm thinking from my expression all you want." I didn't need to be told twice. My sour mood instantly vanished and I smiled.

I reached out with both hands to cup her face, find it in my bearings. My fingers stretched along her jaw line and cheeks, my fingertips touching her ears and wispy baby hairs that framed her face. My thumbs brushed her mouth, the sides of her nose, and her eyelids. I made my touch as gentle as possible and Sango opened her eyes, blinking, her eyelashes making soft beats against the pads of my thumbs.

I brought my face close to hers, the warmth of our mingled breaths providing their own maps of the outline of her features. I felt her cheeks warm under my hands and I couldn't keep myself from grinning again. She didn't pull away. I felt so lucky and unlucky at the same time. I was beside myself that Sango would let me so close, let me touch her, but I still longed to see her. I guessed my other senses would have to be enough to see her and I would do absolutely nothing to ruin this moment.

Deciding that I was nothing if not methodical, I moved my left hand to bury my fingers in her thick, warm hair behind her ear to steady her head as I ran my right hand from hairline to chin lightly over her face. After the first general assessment that at least Sango was not scowling or angry with me, there were no creases or furrows lining her face, my fingers made a slower, more deliberate trek over her face.

First, I smoothed her bangs to the side and my fingertips ran across her brow. It was warm and I could feel the muscles underneath dance and twitch with some expression I did not know how to interpret. From there, my fingers encountered the fine hairs of her eyebrows. I traced their outline, each in turn, then circled my fingertips under her eyes, following the contours of smooth bone, to the delicate and soft skin there. I felt Sango blink a few times, no doubt wary that I might accidentally poke her in the eye. But there would be no way I would allow such a thing to happen. I smiled slightly in my concentration and hoped that she realized I was trying to be reassuring.

Next, I dabbled my fingertips above her eyes to feel her eyelashes again. I was enchanted by the soft, feathery beat, the way they caressed my fingers. I felt the strong bridge of her nose and traveled my touch down to the tip of her nose. Sango wrinkled it and gave a little snort, and I chuffed a laugh in response. I took this as my cue to move on to other features.

A brief survey of her cheeks revealed that she was smiling gently at me. I turned my hand and ran the backs of my fingers against her smooth skin, from her high cheekbones to her strong, but delicate jaw line. So this is what pretty feels like, I thought to myself. I'm sure my expression was completely serious and I felt as Sango's smile faded. Her jaw clenched and unclenched under my ministrations and I heard her swallow hard. Her mouth parted and a small puff of air escaped in her exhale and her cheeks warmed again.

My fingertips' long journeys ended on her mouth, still parted and slightly moist. I traced their outline with slowness and care, remembering in my mind's eye their color and shape. It could have been my imagination, but I could have sworn that they grew warmer as I touched them. I also relished the humid air that brushed past my fingertips in her measured, careful breathing.

I realized how close I was to Sango, how trusting she was being, how open and vulnerable. I was touched by her faith in me. A feeling within my chest, surrounding my heart, swelled. A short gasp escaped my lips. It was so much to have given me, yet I still wanted more. More sensation to fill in the gap in my vision. My fingers were too callused and insensitive to make up for my failing vision.

I slipped my left hand into her hair and rasped, "Do you trust me, Sango?"

"Houshi-sama?" she whispered, her words making soft taps against my face.

"Right now, do you trust me?"

She hesitated slightly, then whispered again, "Yes."

I smiled, then lowered my face, to touch my cheek to hers. She gasped in slight surprise and I felt her tense. Then, realizing that I wouldn't violate her trust, she relaxed again. I flexed my fingers, stroking her smooth, thick hair as I rubbed my forehead against hers and placed my other cheek alongside her other cheek. I licked my lips and breathed through my mouth as my nose and lips lightly made their way along the same path my fingers had not so long before. My thumbs made slow circles in the hollows of her cheeks. I could see her better with my mouth. She was softer against my lips than my fingers. I could even feel the tiny hairs and dew of perspiration as my breath bounced off her skin. I could almost taste the salt of her skin. I knew that I would kiss her.

So I pulled back. Sango trusted me and I refused to betray that trust and ruin this moment, one of the most intense experiences of my life. I felt partly breathless, the air in my lungs robbed by her closeness, and I tried to appear calm and composed on the outside while my insides vibrated. Then, underneath my thumbs, I felt Sango's face contort and tense. She was straining to keep her composure; the corners of her mouth struggled to keep from turning down. My mouth dropped open, instantly concerned that I had pushed things too far, despite my restraint. I started to ask what was wrong, but Sango cut me off.

"Are you sure that you're blind, Houshi-sama?" she asked me, her voice small and strained. I didn't answer but moved my eyes, trying to peer through the darkness to see her and right whatever wrong I had done. "Because I think you see me better than anyone ever has," Sango finally said, bringing her hand up and running her fingers lightly against the back of my left hand that still was holding her face.

My heart skipped a few beats and I could feel the blood rush to my face. I felt exuberant, like part of me jumped up and did a happy little jig while the rest of me remained frozen to replay her words over and over. I made to smile again when I felt her jerk her head toward mine. I felt the flutter of her lips as they pecked quickly at mine and I even startled in surprise at the gesture, completely delighted. Sango settled back and I could feel her smile at my reaction.

I dipped my head to her and brushed my lips against hers in response. Not a kiss, exactly. I was experimenting with touch and pressure, savoring the soft warmth of her mouth. I played with my breath, exhaling across our sensitive lips, teasing her with the prolonged promise of a real kiss, wanting to make it count, be special.

Moving away from her mouth, I dragged my lips down her chin and along her jaw, leaving tiny kisses in my wake, ending beneath her ear. She gasped and made a small sound as I nipped gently against the sensitive skin there. Then she grabbed my face with both hands and drew me back to her mouth.

I hovered over her face as she gave me small pecks at the corners of my mouth. My hands, which had began running up and down her throat, feeling her pulse beneath the skin, dug themselves back into the hair near her scalp. I entwined her hair around all of my fingers, giving myself no excuse for roving hands that Sango wasn't ready for. I gently fisted my hands in the strong silk of her hair, pulling it slightly, causing Sango to gasp in surprise.

I used the opportunity to plunge into her mouth. Again, I experimented and teased. I kissed her hard, but only for the briefest of seconds before pulling back and away. I snuck small tastes of her lips, her tongue, the roof of her mouth. Tense at the experience at first, Sango began to relax, see that I was playing. I felt her begin to smile, accepting my small plunders of her mouth.

Finally, my Sango grew impatient, tired of my teasing. The hands that had held my face moved to my shoulders and pulled me hard into her. She leaned back, reclining and resting her back against a large log and crushed my chest against hers, claiming my mouth, running her tongue over my lips.

I smiled briefly before taking the opportunity to explore kissing her properly. She tasted like berries and spice. The sensation from my mouth was electric, spreading warmth and a kind of vibration through the rest of me. I wish I could explain it more clearly, the next few minutes of kissing Sango, but I passed into a kind of blissful delirium. The best word I have ever come up with to describe it was sweet.

It is my own theory that people are most themselves when they kiss. The mouth is the most expressive feature of the body and it communicates so much more than words. People are accustomed to using it to inform others how they feel and we were no different. Sango kissed like everything I adored about her. She was shy, sad, strong, stubborn, kind, needy, beautiful, demanding, and confident. But most of all, she was sweet. Even now, our first real kisses remind me less of pressure, moisture, and movement of our lips and more of eating a bowl of cherries and cream.

Sango seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. One hand remained on my shoulder, gripping my upper arm tightly and pressing me onto her while the other moved to my face, lightly guiding and stilling it for her ministrations. She absently stroked my cheek with her thumb, making my insides shiver and dance. Her kisses grew more bold and deep. Finally, she made a kind of appreciative hum, the kind of sound people make when they've just tasted a rich dessert.

My eyes flew open, saw nothing, then squeezed shut again. My ears had heard that noise and the rest of my body began to respond. Any functioning of my brain ceased into only one thought, Whoa.

I broke the kiss with a soft groan. I pressed my forehead hard against hers as I gasped with the exertion of keeping under control. Sango brought her hand to the side of my face again and I turned my mouth to kiss her palm, straining to keep from even doing that. I feared that if I did, it would be harder to stop. If we kept going, I could go too far and Sango would have to stop things. And that might result in a physical reprimand from her and my loss of her as my guide again. This would have to stop for now.

Sango chuffed at me. I knew she was smiling, which was good. I longed to see the rest of her expression. Was she heavy-lidded and dull-eyed with passion? Was her skin flushed? Was her mouth dark with kisses? I was sure her hair must be in a state of complete disarray from my running my fingers through it. I resolved to kiss her again after I could see. I needed to almost more than I needed air.

I was still shaky with happiness and restraint. Sango sat up and pulled my head onto her shoulder and did her best to soothe me. Although it would have been better for me if I couldn't smell her intoxicating scent, her nearness, I didn't move away. I am not a stupid man.

We both finally collected ourselves enough to stand. We were invigorated and ready to move on. Neither of us spoke, but I heard Sango attempt to smooth out her hair and I silently chuckled.

We hadn't taken ten steps before we felt people coming. Well, two demons, a half-demon, and two humans. Inuyasha and the others were back and they had brought someone whose power was so great that had we not been otherwise engaged, Sango and I would have felt her sooner.

Not much for introductions, Inuyasha raced up to us and said, "We've figured out the problem. This miko here has cast a spell over the whole area."

Sango whispered to me, "Kagome and the others brought a young woman with them. She's definitely a priestess."

I almost asked Sango if she was pretty but caught myself in time. Nothing but my best behavior until I could see Sango after I kissed her again. I made this solemn promise to myself.

"So what's going on? Can you make me see again, Priestess?"

"My name is Hikari," the new melodic voice told me. "I am responsible for your condition and I'm truly sorry for that." I could tell that she was definitely pretty. Pretty girls and women have a particular confidence in their voices. Not that it mattered to me if she was pretty or not, but it's one of those things that I will never stop noticing about women. Also, she was the one who had made me blind. I couldn't help but be a little angry with her for that.

"So switch me back, let me see again," I implored.

"I'm afraid I can't do that. My village is in trouble."

"Tell him what you told us," Kagome told Hikari.

"Understand, there is a terrible demon in this forest who lives very near here. Because of some magic, she can breed more demons like her and make them invisible. Those who left our village were under constant attack from foes they couldn't see. Many lives have been lost. My powers couldn't turn the demons visible again, so I cast a spell to blind all the men who ranged in ages from 16 to 24 in and around my village so that they might, with their other senses, be able to fight these demons better. I'm afraid you were close enough that the spell affected you, too."

"See, Miroku-sama," explained Kagome. "I was right. You were able to fight that invisible demon better than any of us were."

"I see," I said, then felt silly for my choice of words. "I understand," I corrected myself. "But I would still like to have my eyesight back. I promise that I will help if you reverse the spell."

"I'm afraid that's not possible. The breaking of the spell is contingent upon the destruction, the complete annihilation of that first demon who breeds all of the others."

"Well, that'll be no problem. Let's take it out and move on. I'm tired of hanging around here," stated Inuyasha, unsheathing his sword.

Hikari admonished him, "Swords will not kill this demon. It can regenerate from even the smallest piece of flesh. It must be totally erased from this world."

Inuyasha grunted with dissatisfaction and Kagome gave a defeated sound. Sango remained perfectly still.

"Then, my kazaana will have to be our weapon," I said. "Please, Hikari-sama, direct me to this demon's lair. If destroying the thing that is responsible for the invisible youkai will cure my blindness, I want to do it as quickly as possible."

Sango tensed beside me. "How safe is it for you to use the kazaana?" she asked. "With all of the winds and noise it makes, you could become very disoriented. I'm not disagreeing with you that the kazaana is the necessary weapon, but…"

Sango was right. I grinned lightly in her direction. "Well, we made a good team before. If you brace me and help me aim, I don't doubt I'll be seeing the sunset with you," I said softly. My mood was soaring. There was a solution, a way to cure me, and I was glad for it, even though using the kazaana blind scared me a little. It was settled.

Sango patted my hand. Hikari began to lead us off the path. Sango and I followed her and Kagome, Inuyasha, Shippou, and Kirara followed us.

Not fifteen minutes later, the light-stepping and quiet miko halted and rustled in her robes as she turned. "Just ahead, through that line of trees is the demon's cave. It's guarded by her offspring. As you may know, a jolt to the invisible demons' systems will render them visible again, as will destroying their mother. Once she is gone, you and the rest of the young men of my village will have their sight back."

I nodded seriously toward the sound of her deep and authoritative voice. My heart began to beat faster. Using the kazaana always made me nervous. It was a lot of power to be responsible for and I never used it lightly. Now I would be fighting blind. But I was consoled that I would have my friends at my back.

Sango led the group of us through the trees and we all immediately felt the poisoned presence of dozens upon dozens of demons. Sango's breath caught speed and she whispered, "It looks so deserted, but I can tell they're all around."

A deep and happy growling came from Inuyasha and I heard Kagome un-quiver an arrow and fit it to her bow. The whole atmosphere buzzed with tension and all was still. Even the birds and insects refused to make a sound.

And then it began.

The air flapped and breezed as the demons descended from the treetops and screeched in fury as they hurtled themselves at us. Sango and I began the fight in much the same way as we had fought earlier that morning. I called out the positions of the incoming youkai and the group fought them off as best as we could.

Inuyasha quickly became adept at honing his far superior senses away from sight and into detecting the other more subtle cues to the locations of the demons. While Sango and I had managed to take out at least one, Inuyasha quickly took the lead in battle and flew with focused rage at the invisible foes. I could tell that he was attempting to knock them out of their invisible camouflage so that Kagome and Kirara could find them and help destroy them.

They began to clear a safe passage for Sango and I as we made our way to the enchanted demon mother. The ground around the cave was stony and uneven. Without Sango's help, I would have tripped every other step, but she guided me well and we quickly made progress.

Abandoning her boomerang, Sango was able to protect us from the youkai that broke from the attack on Inuyasha and decided that we were easier prey. She warded off a few of the attacks that I alerted her to and was even able to destroy another demon. We steadily made our way forward.

Then, from directly in front of us came a soul-shattering inhuman shriek that froze my blood. Had I been able to see, it would have been better. Instead, I had only my active imagination to help me picture the source of that terrible sound. Each image that I came up with was worse than the last. I slowed to a complete stop.

Sango whispered to me urgently. "It's not as bad as you think. It's about 50 feet in front of us. It doesn't look poisonous or like it has anything sharp that could damage you. It's covered in scales and resembles a lizard."

Her description didn't help. After another horrible shriek, I covered my ears and whispered back, "I don't think I can do this." I was frozen to the spot.

"You have to," she responded urgently. "It's noticed us and is coming. We have to do this now."

Inuyasha's battle behind us was winding down. It was up to Sango and me to finish the job, but I was nearly petrified with fear.

Sango stepped behind me and wrapped her left arm around my waist. She took my right wrist in her right hand and held it out in front of us. She pressed her body against mine to brace it and rested her chin on my right shoulder in order to help me aim the wind tunnel. The youkai continued its piercing shrieks that were rendering me nearly paralyzed. Over the screams, I could hear it pounding the ground and rushing at us.

Sango whispered low, directly into my ear. "It's coming fast." Her breath on my sensitive ear and nearness to me broke me out of my fugue. "Take it off, now!" she ordered.

Obliging, I took off the rosary and unsealed the kazaana. At once, violent winds broke the air around us, sounding like thunder being ripped from the clouds. The noise became such that I couldn't rely on my ears to orient me. The winds moved everything around so that I couldn't rely on the smell or the taste of the air to know where I was. All I was sure of was Sango at my back, her arm along mine.

I trusted her. I clenched my teeth and tried to mold myself to her, to become her weapon without any resistance. The youkai's shrieking again became audible over the winds as it was sucked nearer. But it was screaming in fright, not rage, because it was coming to its end. I was no longer terrorized by the sound.

I felt the familiar tug and strain as the demon became enveloped into my void. Then, as always, I felt a loss of something. I hated the kazaana. But it was useful to me. And I hated every second of being thankful to Naraku for the curse he had bestowed on me and my family.

I felt Sango relax and over the winds she said with relief, "It's over. You can cover it again." She pressed a smile into my neck and stepped away from me. I was instantly warm, my doom forgotten.

I had closed my eyes. I wanted the first thing I saw to be Sango. I turned to her and slowly peeked out through my slightly open lids. I saw light.

My face broke into a wide smile as I looked at Sango. She stood in front of me, as gorgeous as I had ever seen her with a look of hopeful expectation on her face.

"Well? Can you…?" she started.

I didn't give her the opportunity to finish her question. I answered it by grabbing her shoulders and swinging her around and toward me, knocking her off balance. I caught her and lowered her into a very low dip, her hair brushing the ground. Then I kissed her wetly and noisily on the lips. Let the others think I was back up to my old ways. I'd make sure that Sango and I would properly kiss again later.

Standing a slightly disoriented Sango back on her feet and moving a safe distance away, I heard Inuyasha make a disgusted noise at my behavior. I looked over at the rest of the group. Shippou and Kirara looked quizzical. Kagome appeared as though she might swoon in delight. And Inuyasha looked a little green as he turned to Hikari (who was beautiful with long, dark hair and deep set black eyes) and asked, "Ugh. Can I be blind, too?"

Kagome shot him a look of death but I was bounding toward him before she could sit him. Inuyasha wasn't expecting my tackle. I pinned him and gave him my deliriously happy grin and proceeded to give him an equally loud and wet kiss on the mouth. (But I didn't slip him the bit of tongue I did Sango.)

Inuyasha was shocked into stillness so I took advantage and stood and hustled out of his reach. Kagome and Hikari were giving me dubious looks, afraid they were next, while Sango and Shippou exploded into laugher. I joined in. Nothing was better than seeing my friends in the growing light of a beautiful day.

END


A/N 2: Okay, I blatantly stole the "Can I be blind, too" from an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I apologize to the writers of that show. It was much funnier in the original, but I couldn't resist using the line.

Well, that's all. Thank goodness it's over. It was a lot harder to write than I expected. From now on, all of the characters I write (at least from the first person) will be sighted. I'm way too wordy as a writer as it is and having to write three times as much description because I couldn't explain things visually didn't help me become more concise.

All in all, I'm okay with the story. I like it better than my other Inuyasha story. I may sound self-deprecating about it and I'm not fishing for compliments but trying to give an honest evaluation of it. I do/will write as a part of my career and I really need to get better. Unfortunately, I will be writing non-literary, boring boring boring stuff, but it still needs to be better. So I consider fanfiction "practice." Anyway, it's how I justify spending so much time on it when I seriously need to other things. It has absolutely nothing to do with my obsession with Miroku and Sango. Right. Did that even sound remotely convincing? Yeah, I didn't think so, either.

On to the review acknowledgements:

Aamalie: This was originally going to be three chapters. I have a very short writing attention span so I'm impressed that it got this long! But thanks so much for reviewing and encouraging me. I hope you liked this last chapter, too.

Lily Thorne: No, it wasn't good. I have problems with dialogue. Usually with Sango and Miroku it comes a little easier, but last chapter was complete agony to write. But thank you for the nice things you said and for reviewing!

DogEars22: Yeah. I psychically knew it was your birthday and posted it then on purpose. Right. Anyway, I'm glad you liked it, thanks for the nice review and Happy Belated Birthday!

Fred the Mutant Pickle: I kind of liked the fight scene, too. Thank you for reviewing. And you should work on the back-story to your name. Just for giggles.

Seine: I'm a soccer player myself and have no more ankles to speak of because of low tackles. And no, no it is not fun.

gypsymuse: Thank you for the review. I think that Miroku and Sango compliment each other so well that of course they would do great in a situation like this. I hope you liked the ending.

Mirokus wife: Thank you for reviewing. I hoped this last chapter wasn't a disappointment. And I adore Mexico. I have nothing but happy, happy memories of all of my visits there, which all have something to do with (surprise, surprise) tequila. Mmm. Mexico. Me encanta Mexico.

Kendra Luehr: You know I appreciate all of your reviews. Keep on plugging away and we'll cross that whole "retirement" bridge when we come to it, eh?

Spam-chan: I agree with you review completely. Thanks for it!

SoulStealer45: Am I a perfectionist? The easy answer: Yes. The much more complicated answer (boiled down): Yes. I just want to get better. Thanks for the review and I hope you liked this last chapter.

Twistedtajiya: I'm not very creative, it seems (sigh). I guess everything's been done before, but I haven't done it, so I gave it a try. Oh well. Thanks for reviewing!

mirokuluvur64: Thanks for the review! Israel sounds like an interesting trip. And I don't scare very easily. Well, actually, I do, but nice reviews don't scare me. Thanks again, and I hope you liked the end.

Iggy04: Wow, what a nice review. Thank you. I hope you liked this ending. I also have a super-angst story coming up (and I think I read that you liked the angst) so keep your eye out!

Again to all: Thanks to those who read and reviewed! You all rock! And thanks to those who read and just thought nice things about the story.