A/N: There. Done at last. This is the final chapter in Heart of a Child and the last of the Aurion Family stories. I apologize for having taken so long to finish this, and I hope that the ending was well worth the wait. From now on, I'll be posting the last few stories I have revolving around Caleb and the Wonder Chef. Once all of them are posted, the ToS fandom will be officially done for me. I'll be working on Pokemon Colosseum next to end that. Thanks so much for sticking by me and I hope to see you in my future fics! Many thanks and with love, Dol.
The first thing that Kratos learned about the afterlife was that it hurt. A lot. Next, it had things that kept poking at him. More specifically, it kept poking at his arm. Finally, it had the most annoying chant in the background, a constant river of 'Kraaaatoooos, Kraaaatoooos' that made him want to just throw out a fist and make it shut up.
Which he gave in and did after the third minute of listening to it.
"Ow! Not the face!" Zelos cried and Kratos cracked open an eye to see why the hell Zelos would be in the afterlife with him, "Geez! Is this how you thank a guy for saving your life?!"
"What are you doing dead? I thought I told you to stay alive." Kratos grumbled, wincing slightly at how raspy his voice seemed to be.
"Oh, now he thinks I'm dead. Lovely." the redhead complained, hands still covering his nose, "I think I'm bleeding."
"You're not bleeding, you idiot. Kratos, you're not dead. Get the hell up so you can drink some water." Yuan's voice griped and Kratos opened his other eye, staring at the half-elf that stood in the room with an annoyed expression.
"But... how...?" the seraphim questioned and Zelos piped up after another examination of his face proved it still remained as perfect as ever.
"C'mon! I'm a healer, remember? Healing Wind ring a bell?" the former Chosen pointed out and held up the Last Fencer in its sheath, "And thanks for not losing my sword. Told you that you could handle it." Kratos carefully sat up and checked himself over before placing his fingertips to the empty spot where his Cruxis Crystal had once been.
"But, I'm supposed to be dead. My Crystal... shattered..." he added numbly as the door to the room flew open and Lloyd ran in with a whoop.
"I knew it! You're awake now!" the brunet declared and leaped onto the bed, crashing into his father with a bear hug that knocked the wind out of the angelic swordsman. "Dad! You did it! You saved me and the world and Martel said you weren't cursed anymore and...!"
"Lloyd! Air! Off, off!" Kratos wheezed, squirming around in his son's embrace until the young man finally pulled back. He grabbed the glass of water from Yuan's outstretched hand and downed the liquid before staring at his son again. "You're awake." he echoed softly and smiled in relief, "You're alive. Thank the Goddess."
"Thanks to you, Dad." Lloyd added and grinned hugely, "Man, you couldn't have cut it any closer, huh?! I really thought it was gonna be all over when I purged my mana up there! But hey! We pulled through it and saved the world again!"
"But my Crystal's gone!" Kratos yelled in sudden disbelief and some amount of outrage, pushing his hand into his son's face for a closer look, "I should be dead! I'm over four thousand years old, remember?! By all accounts, I should be a pile of dust in some Goddess-forsaken patch of dirt!" Lloyd blinked at the bare spot on the back of his father's hand, then back at him.
"But you're not a Cruxis Seraphim, so it doesn't matter if it's gone or not." he pointed out calmly. Kratos stared at him again and Lloyd sighed, shaking his head as if in disbelief that his father could be so stupid. "Okay, so you know how angels and seraphim are made from these Cruxis Crystals, right? Well, Angels of Light are made using mana from the Great Seed or the Yggdrasill Tree." he explained, "So, since you were an Angel of Light, you stopped using power from the Crystal to be an angel. You started using mana from the Tree. And that's different 'cuz it doesn't freeze time for you like the Crystal." He frowned and rolled his eyes in thought. "Is that it? That's how it is, right, Yuan?" he asked.
"By a miracle, yes. That's how it is." the half-elf sighed, "Since you passed through the Angel of Light state, the source of your angelic mana has been converted from the Cruxis Crystal to the Mana Tree. Therefore, you no longer need the Crystal to remain alive." Kratos looked down at his hands in shock, letting the news sink into him.
"So, I'm..." he began.
"Freed of the Crystal? Yup. Just like Martel said. You're now a Symphonian Seraphim. Like Lloyd over there." Zelos remarked with a grin, jerking his thumb at his younger brother, "By the way, I forgot to warn you about Martel's little rule on that spell she put you through. If you start putting on masks again and pretending to be what you're not when you don't need it, you'll get turned back into a kid again and have to start all over." The rust-haired swordsman groaned and dropped his head into his hands.
"Ugh, by the Goddess, I don't want to go through that again. I feel ill at the thought of all the sweets I devoured mindlessly as a child and the racket I caused in the parade with Maxie and Mindy and..." Kratos began, then flinched, "Ah, that's right. I promised Mindy I'd return to New Palmacosta and play with her again." He fingered the green ribbon around his arm and sighed. "What am I to say to her? She'll be expecting a child her age to show up, not some ancient swordsman." The group remained silent until Lloyd shrugged nonchalantly.
"Just tell her the truth. She's a kid, Kratos, not stupid." he remarked and blinked when three pairs of eyes turned to stare at him in wide-eyed shock, "What? Did I say something bad?"
"Dense as he is, sometimes I wonder exactly what goes on in his brain that lets him have such insight." Yuan muttered and turned to leave the room, swirling his cape around with a flourish, "The rest of your friends are waiting outside. I suggest meeting them to let them know how you are before doing anything else."
"Sure, whatever you say, man." Zelos retorted with a grin as Kratos returned to hiding his face in his hands. It sounded easy to do, just telling the truth, but could he really do it now that he didn't have the excuse of being a little boy to hide behind?
New Palmacosta seemed to be doing well in their recovery, repairing damages and taking counts of the lost lives to be mourned over when all was said and done. The ship was moored safely in port and the three swordsmen made their way into the city to check on things and reunite with the small band of children that had attacked the Desians so long ago. Kratos kept trying to hide behind his two sons as they walked towards the fountain in the center of the bustling town, shielding his face with one hand as he recognized several kids that ran by with pots and pans on their heads.
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all." he muttered, his anxiety growing as they drew closer to the fountain, "Let's just head back to the ship and..." His words were cut off when he bumped into both of his sons, the swordsmen stopping abruptly without giving him any sort of warning.
"Hey, are those kids putting on a play?" Lloyd wondered aloud, tilting his head in confusion. Zelos snickered, flicking a lock of hair back as he watched the display.
"This is gonna be good." he purred and Kratos peered around him, eyes widening as his face turned red.
The children of New Palmacosta were indeed putting on a play, waving around wooden swords, broomsticks, branches and dressed in pots and pans. One of the stouter boys had put on a pot and several lids as armor, waving a stick in the air threateningly.
"I am the big boss of the Desians!" the boy yelled, "And I'm gonna turn all the grown-ups into monsters!" He made an effort to sneer, which was ruined by the pot sliding down his head and hiding his eyes. "And you can't do anything to stop me!" Maxie lifted his own stick into the air to challenge the 'Desian', grinning in response.
"You can try, Desian, but we've got someone special on our side who will beat you and save the grown-ups!" he declared and stepped aside to let a small boy walk forward, face screwed up to form a faintly familiar glare. Kratos lifted his hands to his face, groaning softly as both sons began snickering louder.
The little boy drew himself up, a miracle in itself considering the strange smattering of leaves and sticks bound and glued together and strapped to his back to form a vague rendition of wings. He pointed a soup spoon at the 'Desian'.
"I am the angel of Martel, come to learn to play and have fun! You ruined all my fun and now you want to turn the grown-ups into monsters!" the boy shouted in mock fury, "I won't let you! I'm gonna stop you and save everybody!" Mindy darted in to stand by him, smiling as she held her broomstick and doll tightly in her arms.
"And all us kids are gonna help, too! Because we're the good guys and Desians always lose to good guys!" she cheered and the three children chased after the 'Desian', running around the fountain until the boy stopped and pulled an exaggerated death scene with all the moans and groans of pain and dramatic twitching that only a child could pull off without being completely embarrassed. The rest of the children cheered and waved their 'weapons' around excitedly.
"Hooray for Maxie, Mindy and Kratos! The heroes of New Palmacosta!" they cried. The three leading actors cheered as well, though the small boy portraying Kratos became a bit too enthusiastic and knocked a false wing off in his jumping. Maxie stopped and sighed, rubbing his head in dismay.
"Aw, Jessie, you broke our angel wings! That took a long time to make!" he complained. The boy looked contrite at that, tears welling up in shame as Mindy picked up the wing and began trying to pin it back.
"He didn't mean it, Maxie. Leave him alone." she scolded and smiled at Jessie, "We had tons of fun! We should play Hide and Seek next!" She patted the wing and stepped back, eyeing it as critically as a child can. "It looks good." she finally decided and sighed sadly, playing with her hair, "But I miss Kratos a lot. I wish he'd come back and play again."
Lloyd and Zelos looked at each other, then up at the swordsman standing by them. The rust-haired mercenary was gazing at the children with something akin to wistfulness, a strangely distant air to him that told them that he would be building up a wall for defending his emotions at any moment. They glanced at each other again, then grinned and nodded. Lloyd moved around Zelos as the former Chosen began whistling innocently.
"You heard 'em, Dad! Go play!" the brunet swordsman declared and shoved Kratos right at the children, ignoring his yelp of surprise and alarm.
He stumbled forward, barely avoiding falling on the group of children who all stared up at him in confusion and momentary shock. Embarrassed, Kratos lifted a hand to his head as he gave a weak wave to them.
"Ah, hello, children. Don't mind me. I was just..." he began sheepishly and blinked as Mindy squealed in sudden recognition. The girl reached out and grabbed his hand, yanking it and thus the rest of him down for a closer look.
"The Memory! This is Kratos's Memory!" she exclaimed in surprise and looked up at him, "Why do you have it?! I gave this to Kratos so he could come back and play with us!" Kratos scratched at one cheek, trying to think of how to word his explanation before sighing and deciding to just give in and follow Lloyd's advice.
"Well, that's because I am Kratos." he told the girl softly, "This is what I really look like. A spell made me small, like a child, but I've broken it and returned to my true self." Mindy stared up at him in disbelief, eyes wide and filling with tears.
"No! Kratos is little, like me! I gave him the Memory so he could come back! He promised! He promised!" she blurted out and began to cry, "I want Kratos to come back! Where is he?! Where is he?!" The mercenary bit his lip as the other children glared at him, tightening their holds on their sticks and broom handles, looking about as threatening as possible for being a motley group.
"We want Kratos! You took his Memory! Stealer! Give it back!" they all chanted and shouted, advancing on the mercenary as he stepped back in alarm, his arm still being clung to by Mindy as she wailed louder. What was it going to take to calm them down and let them know the truth?
He spotted the leafy harness pinned to Jessie and his eyes widened with realization. That was it! That's how he could show them the truth! With a quick prayer for it to work, Kratos unfurled his wings, flapping them to shower the group with shimmering blue mana dust and feathers. The children gasped and stood still in surprise, dropping their weapons and lifting their hands in wonder.
"Oh wow! How pretty!" they murmured excitedly, eyes bright with awe, "Look, look! Angel feathers! They're the same color Kratos has!" Mindy looked around in surprise, tears still trailing down her face, then back up at the mercenary as he knelt before her with a gentle smile, wings still fluttering now and then.
"See? I'm an angel, just like before, when Maxie found me near all those fireworks long ago. You gave me your cookie to help me recover and I tried to take out that big Desian, even though I was so tiny." he told her softly, "It's really me, Mindy." The girl blinked at him, then sniffled and threw herself into his arms, crying anew.
"You came back, you came back! You kept your promise, Kratos! You came back!" she sobbed, "But you're all big! You're big like the grown-ups and that means... that means...!" Kratos held her in a hug, feeling like he was about to cry himself and he wasn't even sure why.
"I'm sorry, Mindy. But at least I came back. I kept my promise." he whispered, unaware of his sons standing nearby and watching the scene with a mix of pride and sorrow. Lloyd rubbed at his eyes and nudged his brother with the back of his hand.
"C'mon. Let's go see Neil about the city's recovery. Kratos might need some time with his friends." he murmured and the redhead nodded silently, the two of them walking away to give the group some privacy.
Mindy finally pulled away from Kratos, both of them rubbing at their eyes to remove the last traces of tearstains. They took deep breaths, then smiled broadly at each other.
"So, are we gonna play Hide and Seek or what?" Kratos asked and laughed as Maxie declared him to be 'It' as punishment for taking so long to return to them. Mindy giggled and scurried away with the other children to find hiding places.
"Count to a hundred! Angels are s'posed to be really smart!" she called back, "You can do it, Kratos! You're smart!" And the mercenary grinned, ignoring the stares of passing people as he lifted his hands to his eyes and began counting aloud.
"One! Two! Three!" he chanted.
By the time Lloyd and Zelos returned to the town square to find their father and move on, Kratos and the children had gone through several rounds of Hide and Seek, Kick the Can (which had to be abandoned in a hurry after one woman chased Kratos off with a broom for kicking it into her window by mistake), and now were wrapping things up with a game of Hopscotch to relax. The two swordsmen stopped at the fountain and watched with wry grins as their father skipped through the array of chalk squares on one foot, sticking his tongue out when one of the boys accused him of flying and cheating.
"Nuh uh! His wings aren't out!" another argued in his defense, "Angels can't fly if they ain't got their wings out!" Lloyd and Zelos grinned at each other and shook their heads. It was good to see Kratos having fun now, especially as an adult, but they'd have to keep an eye on him now, as he looked like the type to slip into some childish tendency if he wasn't wearing his masks anymore.
"Okay, Kratos, time to go! We've got other places to head to before we take off for You-Know-Where!" Lloyd called out to his father.
"Awww!" the children all moaned loudly; surprisingly enough, Kratos was among the voices, looking appropriately 'devastated' by the annoucement.
"Does he really hafta go, Mister?" Jessie asked Lloyd with a dismayed expression, "We was having lotsa fun and we was gonna play Run the Hoop tomorrow!"
"Come on, Squirt; Kratos is a grown-up, like us. So he's got some grown-up stuff to do, too." Zelos remarked with a grin, "Maybe after we're done with our grown-up stuff, we'll come back and let him play with you again." Mindy pointed at him with her broomstick.
"Okay! That's a promise! We're gonna hold you to it!" she declared and smiled up at Kratos, "You can keep the Memory, Kratos, so you can remember the promise and come back again!" The mercenary nodded, returning the smile and waving back at the children as he and the other Heroes of Union began to head for the port.
"Bye, Kratos! Come back again soon!" the children all called out and waved enthusiastically before returning to their game.
"See? That wasn't so bad." Lloyd commented lightly as he wove his hands behind his head, taking the lead while they walked.
"No, no it wasn't." Kratos agreed softly, matching the motions as he gazed skyward with a smile, "It was fun. I'm somewhat sorry I missed out on this for so long, but at least now I can make up for it." He dropped his hands as a mischievous glint shone in his eyes. "By the way..." he added, speeding up his walk to pass his son. Lloyd blinked at seeing him there and yelped when Kratos suddenly gave his shoulder a light slap. "You're It!" And Zelos caught on, racing after the mercenary as they fled from the brunet, the Eternal Swordsman yelling and chasing after them with one fist shaking in the air.
The next stop was Sybak, brief and silent since the place they were to visit was near the pier to begin with. Lloyd and Zelos hung back in respectful quiet as Kratos knelt by the hidden grave with a few of the fake Exspheres Zelos had collected long ago. Setting the stones on the marker, the mercenary murmured a quiet prayer and sat back with a sigh, gazing skyward again.
"I don't understand why you did all those things you did, and I guess I never will." he remarked softly, "But you helped me in the end, and I'm sure that you helped me against Korand and the Moria Dragon, too. So, thank you, Sting, for teaching me what I needed to learn as an adolescent and for giving me your strength to save this world." He closed his eyes as tears threatened to fall, bowing his head. "I just wish... that you could be here... in this world that was created for people like you to live free..." he added in a whisper.
The silence seemed to stretch on and a gentle wind passed over the trio, ruffling their wings and hair. The sound of laughter seemed to carry on that wind, and Kratos lifted his head in faint alarm, looking around for the source.
"Hey, Little Angel, don't start bawling now; you'll get my spot wet." Sting's voice remarked dryly and Kratos jumped up and back in shock, startling his sons as the faint image of the half-elf appeared before him, snide grin on her face, "You're supposed to be a tough guy, right? Why the hell are you getting all mopey?"
"Sting!" Kratos exclaimed, surprising the other swordsmen yet again as they reached for their weapons out of instinct, "You're alive!" Sting snorted and rolled her eyes.
"Tch, stupid." she remarked, "I'm dead as those chunks of rock you put on my grave all right. I'm just here to pass on some words and then I'm outta here. Got a spot in the Tree with my name on it." She folded her arms over her chest and shifted her weight, giving Kratos an appraising look before whistling in appreciation. "Damn, if I'd have lived longer and let you stay healthy, I coulda had some fun with you." she remarked and laughed at the mercenary's shout of embarrassment, "Just messin' with ya, Kratos; Martel, loosen up some! Seriously, this is what you look like without being shrunk? Nice."
"You said you had some words...?" Kratos questioned, trying to steer the topic away. Sting blinked at him, then laughed, waving a hand in dismissal.
"Yeah, yeah, be shy if you want. You can't hide crap like that from me; I know you had dirty thoughts when I was alive. Such a horny little punk you were." she remarked unabashedly, grinning wider at the redness covering Kratos's face. Finally, she sighed and shifted her weight again. "Okay, on the level now, I know what you're doing to yourself." she began and gave him a steady glare, "You're using my stings on yourself, and I'm telling you to knock it the hell off. I know it feels good and relaxing and all that crap, but you remember what happened last time you got hooked on that. Don't get addicted again; you're gonna hurt those kids of yours real bad and it's just not cool for any of you guys." Kratos's eyes widened in shock and he looked over at his sons quickly. Sting waved him off. "They can't hear me or see me." she explained, "Which is probably why they think you're goin' nuts or something; look at 'em standing there trying to find somethin' to stab at. Coupla palookas."
"Oh." Kratos mumbled, looking somewhat relieved before straightening himself up, "And I can take care of myself. I have everything under control." Sting gave him another glare.
"That's the trick, Angel. The stings make you feel that way, so you use 'em to unwind, then again to get back in control. That's what starts the addiction. So just do us all a favor and don't do it." the ghost told him flatly, "Because if I see you in that Tree looking like anything else than a healthy old man who just forgot to wake up one night, I am kicking your ass back out and leaving you to deal with Martel." She rolled her eyes again. "Well, that's all I have to say. I'm out." she added and gave him a mock salute as she began to fade, "Kiss ya later, Hot Stuff!"
Neither Zelos nor Lloyd could quite figure out why Kratos was sputtering and blushing as he walked by them both, grabbed them by their collars and started stalking back to the ship. They only caught a fragment of his mutterings, however, and were puzzled as to why anyone would think of the mercenary as a 'horny little bastard'.
Wisely, they chose not to pry. After all, it's not every day Kratos argued with thin air.
The final stop was Alvanista and the warm welcome that was thrown blew both Lloyd and Zelos away. In numb shock, they let themselves be dragged away to the town square, where various performers were eagerly clearing a large space and setting up tables of food and merchandise. Sato stood by a statue, waving at them eagerly as the dancing girls spun and sang nearby in joyous greeting.
"Kratos! Great to see you again; the place was getting to be a drag!" the poet exclaimed as the three swordsmen were brought before him. He gestured towards the clear area surrounded by the stalls, performers and merchants. "Soon as word got out that you were here, everyone dropped what they were doing and set this up. So, whaddya say, Kratos?" Sato asked with a grin, "Show Alvanista what an angel can do?" Kratos blinked at him, then looked over at his sons, both of whom gave him weak grins.
"Why not? This is the last stop before we head for Derris-Kharlan. Might be the only time we'll get to relax before hauling everything up to space." Zelos pointed out, "And we can probably get a good deal on supplies here, if we let people know we're with you."
"I only got to hear Dad sing a little bit and it was in Moria. So another song would be cool to hear." Lloyd agreed, "And then we can go check out all the cool stuff they've got set up!" Kratos sighed and smiled, shaking his head.
"Well, you've got me outvoted, so why not? A song shouldn't hurt, now that the New World Order has fallen." he relented and headed for the open section of the town square amid the cheers of his name and assorted whoops and whistles.
The crowd went silent once he reached the 'stage' and listened with eager anticipation as Kratos cleared his throat and held out his arms, palms up, eyes closed. For a long moment, nothing more happened, then the mercenary began tapping his foot, marking out a beat that the musicians picked up on and began playing to match. Kratos opened his eyes and grinned at them, nodding once before bursting into song, dancing in step with the music as though with an invisible partner.
Happy ended chapter,
Set us free tonight!
Happy ended chapter,
We'll dance until the light!
Darling, hear my song to you
And lift your voice in joy!
Bring to us your smiles and laughter
Happily ever after!
Shine on, shine on,
Brightly shining sun!
Play on, play on,
And sing your joyous song!
Happy ended chapter,
I'm glad to feel you here!
Happy ended chapter,
I'm glad to have you near!"
The crowd cheered wildly at the song, clapping their hands or dancing along, each taking a partner to join in the celebration.
Zelos laughed and grabbed onto Lloyd's hand, running to join the rust-haired swordsman on the stage and ignoring the brunet's startled yelp. The former Chosen clapped his hands to mark the beat, grinning at his brother until Lloyd caught on and began to clap along, unsure at first, then steadily growing more confident as his father continued singing and dancing without pause.
Happy ended chapter,
Stars still shine above me!
Happy ended chapter,
The proof that you still love me!
Darling, see my dance for you
And dance with me in joy!
Our hearts are full of laughter
Now and ever after!
Live on, live long,
Live on through this song!
Smile on, dance on,
Your rhythm can't be wrong!
Happy ended chapter,
I'm glad I played my role!
Happy ended chapter,
Now I've saved my soul!
Happy ended chapter,
My song is thanks for you!
Happy ended chapter,
My life is lived for you!"
And to Kratos's surprise, both sons were standing by him at the end of his song, arms spread out to match him as though they had danced with him the entire song. He looked at each one, startled, and both of them only grinned back at him.
"You're welcome, Dad." Lloyd murmured softly.
"We are so doing a duet one day." Zelos added with a grin. Kratos blinked and smiled back, taking a bow for the crowd as flowers rained down on them.
The family left Alvanista on a high note, eager to find a safe and secure harbor for themselves so as to take what remained of their cargo to Derris-Kharlan. Both Lloyd and Zelos watched with grins as the lessons taught to their father made drastic improvements to his personality, making him more alive and human than before. Now truly living his life and enjoying it, it seemed as though the many centuries of hardship and pain had finally begun to melt away. He was still the father figure when fun and games weren't involved, and still lectured and trained them fiercely whenever possible. Some things were just naturally a part of Kratos, and no amount of childlike behaviour could weather that away.
And then there were times where Kratos would surprise them.
"Hey, what happened to my shield?" Lloyd asked one afternoon, puzzled as he lifted it to show to Zelos, "Look, the outer trim is missing. Without it, this shield could fall apart!" The former Chosen tilted his head in confusion, holding up the remnants of a broom, the straw now nothing more than a heap in his hands.
"I can't find the handle to this thing anywhere. Didn't Dad say he was going to sweep the deck today?" he asked in return, "He's gonna have a hell of a time doing it with the broom all torn up."
The sound of footsteps pounding above them made the young men look up at the ceiling. After a moment, they looked at each other curiously, then headed for the stairs to reach the deck.
They opened the door and looked out in time to see Kratos run by them, laughing as he chased a metal ring with the missing broom handle. Both swordsmen blinked rapidly in shock, watching him nick the ring with the handle and redirect it towards a ramp, scampering after it gleefully.
"Is he...?" Zelos began uncertainly and Lloyd nodded, eyes still glued to his father's figure.
"Playing Run the Hoop with our broom handle and the trim to my shield? Yup." he answered.
"Should we tell him he's supposed to be doing his chores?" Zelos questioned and Lloyd managed a lopsided grin.
"Nah. He looks like he's having fun." he returned and pulled back inside, heading back down the stairs, "Come on. I've still got a couple of round shields and my wooden swords. If we hurry, we can join in before dinner." Zelos blinked at his quickly disappearing brother, looked back out at Kratos chasing the ring, waving the handle in the air, then hurried after Lloyd.
"Hey, wait up! I want to play too!" he exclaimed.
Kratos whooped above deck as they vanished below, jumping into the air to pounce the ring as it hit another ramp and launched itself.
"And the crowd goes wild!"
Final A/N: And before anyone says anything, Lloyd says the shields are his because he was the one who crafted them. He doesn't use them, he just makes them for practice and to have Zelos and Kratos use them. Also the song used here, Happy Ended Chapter, is an original I came up with, partially inspired by the music of ABBA and mostly by the fact that this is the last chapter. Thus I claim it as my own with all that it entails. Thanks much!