Disclaimer: Not mine, "You'll Be In My Heart" belongs to Phil Collins, and… yeah, that's it.
Author's Note: Well, here you go, the epilogue of it all, the strawberry on top (You've infected me, GreenDayFan1), the cheese on the nacho (I must be hungry.) Whatever. Anyway, I've poured my heart and soul into this final chapter, so… enjoy it. For me?
A Year Or So Later
Ashley sighed; pacing around the room, likely ruining her dress… really she didn't care.
"Ashley, c'mon, stop it! You're making me nervous just looking at you!"
Ashley let out a heavy sigh/grunt. "I know, I know… I'm just so nervous! Ugh…" She shuddered slightly, sitting down on a white satin couch, taking special care to not ruin her white gown.
"Ashley, listen to me." Cassie knelt by her best friend, her slim, blushing rose dress billowing about her. "You love him, he loves you. You're perfect for each other! So what are you so worried about?"
"I don't know…" she moaned, crossing her arms unhappily. "I guess it's just the whole pre-marriage jitters! … And do I look okay?" she added on second thought.
"Ashley, you look fine! You look gorgeous."
Pursing her lips, the auburn-haired woman stood and walked over to a mirror, staring at her reflection. She saw a young woman, dressed in a creamy white gown, with a slim waist, flowing down slightly to a slightly fuller skirt. The top was adorned with only a small string of pearls across the square neckline; but a yellow ribbon, with red silk braided in, wrapped around her waist, the untied ends flowing down her skirt. Her hair was done up simply, waved loosely and partly pulled up, yellow & red roses tucked in. Her eyes were brimmed with worry, and tears gathered, one slowly making it's way down her cheek. Ashley saw nervousness, worry, anticipation reflected in her expression, but one single emotion outdid them all: love. And it was then that she knew she was doing the right thing.
"Ashley…" Cassie forward and stood by her best friend, dressed in her rose gown of the same type, except with a slimmer skirt and no string of pearls or ribbon. There was a pale lavender sash around her arms, and her hair was done up in a loose bun, yellow & pink flowers a sharp contrast to her ebony hair. "You'll be fine."
Ashley looked over at her friend and sighed, before they hugged.
"Cass'… thanks. I love you."
"Love you to, Ash'. Good luck."
A march began to play and Cassie picked up a bouquet lying in a nearby table. She cast one last glance over her shoulder before walking out the heavy, oaken doors.
After a few minutes, Ashley stepped up and heard the famous march that united so many people. She took a deep breath and began to walk.
Many Tears, A Couple Vows, And One Everlasting Kiss Later
"Whoo!" Carlos popped open a bottle of champagne, the fizz spraying across the people there.
"Okay, okay, okay," Cassie said, stepping up to the podium and mike. "Listen up people! I have a 'few' words to say!"
"First off, I really envy this couple, because my best friend is married and I don't even have a boyfriend!" - This elicited a few laughs from the crowd – "But, no one deserves happiness more than them. Um… Andros, when I first met you, I called you a ham lizard. But now, I call you my brother-in-law, because Ashley is like my sister. Coincidently, I was about to talk about Ashley next. Ashley… wow, what can I say? I came here to Angel Grove and I was basically a nobody. You took me in, gave me confidence, gave me a status at school and… gave me your friendship, which is more than I've ever really had, and it's something I'll always cherish.
Now, as I said earlier, you're like my sister, the sister I never had. Except… that doesn't really work, does it? Because I do have a sister: you. You know all my secrets - well maybe not all of them – and I know yours. We've been with each other through the heartbreak, the puppy love, the crushes that treated you like gum on their shoe," At this, she gave a pointed look at Andros – "And… what can I say? Andros… you've hurt yourself, and you've suffered so much more than anyone I know has – And that's saying a lot. But if you hurt Ashley, you'll find yourself with one less friend and a whole lot of bruises. Got it? Okay, good.
And now… you guys are in love, and this is the true love that everyone hopes to find. I wish you two the best of luck, because you deserve it. You don't need it to survive your marriage, but you deserve it. You really do." And with that, she stepped down, accepting the applause with a simple nod of her head.
Ashley pressed her lips together, tears gathering in her eyes. "Oh, Cassie," she whispered, and leaned into her husband. Husband… I never thought this day would come, but I am so glad it did.
Next, Zhane paraded onto the stage, holding a glass of wine. "Alright! Time for the best man's speech!"
"Okay, now, my relationship with the newlyweds is about the opposite of Cassie's; I've known Andros nearly all my life, and Ashley for a few years, but in those few years I've come to love her like a sister, and now, she is my sister! Well," he refrained suddenly. "Sister-in-law, actually, but close enough! As for Andros… he's crazy, suicidal, downright mad, and the best friend you'll ever have. He's loyal to the bone, but doesn't know when to throw himself in front of a crazy monster and when to stand off quietly – not that he would ever do that -; he has a charm that no one can resist – guess it's in the genes – but he's an idiot. Right?"
The audience cheered their agreement and Ashley laughed, calling to Zhane, "Never heard a truer word!" At a downcast pout from Andros, she smirked, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
"Well, while I still have your attention, let's move onto funner things… Ashley! My new sis! Well, she outshines the sun and everyone and anyone else and if there were a Cheerlympics, she'd get Gold+ Gold. But not just for her cheerleading; she's the warmest, kindest, sweetest, gentlest person I know. But don't you dare question her fighting ability.
Take this for example; when her heart was broken, and she lay in ruins, she still had the energy to say 'thanks' when someone comforted her. And she meant it, it was sincere, it was real that 'thanks' was! Her smile was still there, and even though it was only a fraction of her usual one, it still outshone most everyone's. Heck… if I wasn't married, and she wasn't married, I might just go for her! Wait! Kidding, kidding," Zhane crouched slightly when Andros suddenly looked very menacing.
"Okay, what I'm trying to say is that these two have gone through so much to be together, and if what they share isn't true love, then, well, I don't know what is!" Zhane's last proclamation was met with resounding cheers, and Karone stepped up to the podium with a large grin still spread across her face.
"Now then, may I invite my brother and sister-in-law for the first dance?" The floor cleared and Andros led his wife out onto the floor. A slow tune played and someone sang…
"Come stop your crying,
It'll be all right…
Just take my hand,
Hold it tight.
I will protect you
From all around you.
I will be here,
Don't you cry…"
"So, how does it feel to be married?"
"Mmm… very, very good." Ashley laughed softly and leaned up, kissing her husband.
By the corner, watching the couple dance from a rather secluded corner, Cassie slowly sipped her punch, her expression gloomy, her eyes bittersweet misery.
T.J frowned, watching his friend with concerned eyes. "You okay? And why aren't you up there on stage, singing the first song for Andros and Ashley as a married couple?"
"I… I guess I just didn't feel like it."
"Ah… single blues, huh?"
"No!" Cassie exclaimed, a little more forcefully than she meant. "I just… I mean, I'm happy for them, but…" She sighted, dejected. "Yeah," she said, finally. "Maybe it is single blues."
"Well, don't worry," T.J patted Cassie on the shoulder. "I'm sure there's that perfect guy out there for you; you just haven't met him yet." He drained his cup and paused, wanting to get out there, but unwilling to leave Cassie in her current state.
"Look," Cassie interrupted his mental weighing of the options. "I'll be fine; go out, mingle… have fun."
He hesitated, but seeing the willing look in her eyes, sighed and nodded. "I'll be around; Cass', have fun. Enjoy today. For Ashley." And then he walked off.
"For Ashley," Cassie murmured, tasting the words on her lips. She sighed, tossing her half-full cup into the garbage. Wrapping her wrap tightly around her, she stepped outside, needing to be away from the commotion.
Outside, the air was slightly musty, but warm and refreshing. The lights, chatter, and music seemed so far away from the soft grassy meadow bathed in pink, purple and the darkening navy of sundown. Breathing in the fresh air, and listening to the bird chirps, Cassie walked around a little, reveling in the freedom such a small action gave her. She faced away from the building, eyes closed, breathing deeply, when a hand touched her shoulder.
"Cassie…" She turned and saw herself face to face with a breathtakingly familiar face; yet so implacable she wondered if she could be hallucinating…
And two danced; two playfully argued; two met again, though they had never really known each other, and everyone experienced the joy of living. They enjoyed life for all it was and is. Now and then, here and now, love and hate.
Author's Note 2: Well, there you go; Life Is in it's whole. I'm actually quite proud of myself; it's not that bad of a story, and I actually finished it – that's an achievement in itself! And as for all you fellow A/A fans out there, I do have another story in the making (GreenDayFan1, I've sent you the first chapter as a birthday gift.) but it won't be out until I've finished Forever Light; or at least have a very smooth path on where I want to go with it. Whatever. If you want more credits (You might get mentioned, you know.), keep reading.
RR! GreenDayFan1, I did like the last chapter very much, thank you very much. And yes, I'll have more stories out. Phantom Rogue, I'm disappointed :pout:. No birthday wish? Ah, well, I'll let you off this time... And now our A/A get-togethers are even? Because, we both had really good get-togethers, if you ask me. :) Ashley Hammond/ Astro Yellow, No birthday wish for GreenDayFan1:tsk, tsk, tsk: Well, maybe I'll just have a slightly shorter review as punishment... Anyway, I'll use Cassie to get Ashley back, and Andros'll follow. And don't you dare try and keep Cassie now!
I know, I know, such a small and insignificant story and the author still has enough ego to put up End Credits? Well, you know what? So what!
Now then, I want to thank all my reviewers: Funky in Fishnet, Jedi Takeru, gobball, the-power-of-love, skimmboardergurl, Juzblue, Phantom Rogue, GreenDayFan1, and, last but certainly not least, a very special thank you to Ashley Hammond/ Astro Yellow for everything (too much to list).
Other than that, thanks to whomever read this and never reviewed, or whoever will read this and review. Too bad I don't know who you are. And now… keep checking out my stories!
This is Star Le Faith, saying goodbye to Life Is one last time.