Authoress' Notes: Eek, what a weird chapter this one is! Let's just say watching videos of "Earthbound", plus the stress of waiting for "SSBB" equals this. Once you see the final boss, prepare to go into the fetal position for several weeks.
Anyway, enough of my trauma... Here it is; the real REAL ending. This is the last time I'll be able to actually say anything about this story... Sigh. Kinda sad, ain't it? I won't beat around the bush, so I guess I'll just say this:
I'd like to thank all my fans, supporters, reviewers, and friends for their advice and encouragement on this story. Not once did I think some dumb, little one-shot would turn into something so epic. I think I can safely say I've done myself and fans of this fic proud. I've grown and learned countless things from writing this, and I feel I'll be able to put them to great use one day. So once again, thank you all for your words, wisdom, and just being there; I'd be nowhere without any of you. May your writer's block be few and your aspirations stay high. -The Great Chicken Miasma
Better Off Alone
In the middle of nowhere, in a place unknown by anyone, a Koopa sighed, unsure of what was going on. He was in a vast pit of darkness, unable to see anything... It was probably the poison going to his head and making him hallucinate. After passing out, this was where he ended up. Dark, cold, and spacious, there was little that could be done about his predicament. There was no telling where was or how long he'd been there; unconscious, in a dream, dead... He couldn't say.
As dark as it was, a silhouette or something would often wander past his peripheral vision, disappearing the second he turned to look at it. All throughout the area, he occasionally heard some sounds like people talking backwards... They were vague and distant, and he could've one of them was actually talking normally. It almost sounded like...
"Yes?" answered the voice.
He waved a hand around, looking for the source of her voice. "Is that you? Are you there? Your voice... It sounds... different."
"Of course it does. Why would it not?"
He walked forward in a direction. "Why does it, though? Is something wrong?"
She laughed bitterly. "Everything's wrong. Everything that possibly can go wrong already has. You just can't see it."
He frowned, but kept going. "...Well, I can't see you, either... But you're near. I can feel you..."
"They're all lies, every single word. There is no feeling, no hope, no warmth here. You can't feel me."
"...But I know you're there. Everything else is so cold. Please... come here. You're so close..."
A Boo-like cackle sounded some ways further off. "There is no close here. Only darkness. Don't you get it?"
"...Are you a part of the darkness? Is that why I can't see you?"
"...What do you mean, 'maybe'?"
A loud, disturbing snap sounded, as if someone had broken their neck. "Is that what you wanted? Is that what you deserved? Did you work hard enough for it?"
"...W-what?" Koops suddenly backed away as more strange noises began to catch his ear. He heard deep breathing, retching, more neck-snapping, and someone screaming in horror.
"Love means nothing to you; it never has. You don't even understand what it means to be who you are. You're not you anymore."
"What are you talking about? Of course I'm me..."
In the background, someone started crying uncontrollably. "No, you're not. Stop kidding yourself. It's all a lie..."
"You're a fool for going with what you believe in. Why can't you just act like other Koopas? Maybe then you'd actually be able to accomplish something."
"...I don't understand..."
A shrill scream rang through his ears. "That's because the enemy is here."
"It's here; it's always been here. And it'll always stay here until you make it go away. Stop fighting yourself."
"You mean Beldam? But she's dead..." Koops flinched as glass shattered nearby. It sounded so close, he almost felt as if a window pane had been thrown at him, barely missing.
"You cannot kill the enemy; it is immortal and proficient. It lives on."
One last snap echoed through the darkness as a blue skeleton of a snake appeared, literally from nowhere. It towered over him menacingly as disjointed vocals rang out in the background. It slowly hovered towards him, not making any effort to do so.
In an instant, Koops tried to attack with his shell, but he went straight through the hazy figure. It responded by eerily turning around and giving chase again. Koops darted off as it began to pick up speed.
"Why do you feel the way you do about her?!" it demanded, despite its jaw not moving.
"Because I love her!" Koops responded, still running.
"You've messed with wrong one! You will never find happiness so long as you pretend to be something you're not!"
"No! She is my happiness! ...S-she is...!"
The snake kept gaining speed, getting closer and closer until Koops could see its jaws hanging over him. Then, it snapped them shut--!
...Koops suddenly opened his eyes, waking from yet another horrific slumber. He saw the scariest things, heard the weirdest voices, and sometimes felt as if he'd been dragged into the underworld itself by some sort of... demon. He had no idea what day it was of what week of what month of what year; everything seemed to mesh together in some sort of disjointed jumble...
From what he remembered, he'd been unconscious for nearly two weeks. He first awoke in bed back at home, Goombella and Koopie Koo by his side. He felt sick and weak, barely able to sit up without getting headache. They said he still needed to rest, but wallowing in self-pity seemed to block out the physical pain, providing him with horrifying nightmares. In a few days upon his awakening, he was up and about like nothing had happened. On the inside, however, he was merely a shell of his former self...
In reality, he felt as if the poison was still in him somewhere, but it never seemed to resurface. It was almost as if it'd disappeared entirely into nothing...
It may've been Vivian's doing. She was a Crystal Star after all... Maybe, in her final moments, she used that power to heal him.
Of course, everyone else said it was some sort of miracle; not only was the poison the absolute worst of its kind, but the dosage was more than enough to kill him on the spot. It took days and days of constant resuscitation and they even lost him a few times, but he managed to pull through... unfortunately.
He kind of wished they'd just... let him go. The poison was his one way to joining Vivian... It was a perfect match. He'd be with her right now if his friends hadn't interfered.
He sighed, suddenly ashamed of thing like that. It wasn't their fault; they were only trying to help. And Vivian wouldn't have wanted him to suffer...
Regardless, life without her was going to very hard. She was like the glue that held his life together. Despite his best efforts, he still wasn't able to save her. His friends mourned her loss as well, but they were optimistic. They'd reached their goals and done the world good, with Vivian's life a small price to pay. To them, she was a friend, not a lover; there was huge difference in the grief.
Things just weren't the same now that she was really gone... When his mother passed on, it was so hard to cope. Days, weeks, months, years without her seemed like an endless torture neither of them deserved. The disappearance of his father only rubbed the salt in his wounds. The only shoulder he had left to comfortably cry on had deserted him to meet the same fate at Hooktail's jaws. Koops wondered if he was feeling the same way Koopley did when she died. Wanting to do so much to bring her back, but was powerless to do so.
...He was outside now. He wasn't exactly sure how he got there, but he was. It was hard to tell what was where and where was what now. He knew had Vivian's necklace; he hadn't let go of it since the moment he realized what it was. He sat on the outskirts of town, Shhwonk Fortress overshadowing him as he stared off into the distance. Saying he was overcome with grief was understatement.
Vivian's belongings gathered dust on the nightstand back home. Her Yoshi doll and Lillian's diary were the only mementos of her existence... Well, that and her necklace.
Koops couldn't find himself going anywhere near the doll or diary, but he had to have her necklace with him at all times. He let the beads massage his shaking hands as tears came to his eyes. He shuddered at the remembrance of the last time he put it on her...
"...I'm sorry for being so stubborn. I didn't think you really meant it." She rested her head against his chest. "How could I not forgive you after all that?"
"I'm glad... And I promise I'll make it up to you. Really, I will..." He pulled out Flurrie's necklace, placing it around her neck. "Starting now."
Once again, he'd lied. Instead making up for his faults, he ended up killing her. The fact wasn't ironic; it was heartbreaking, painfully sad beyond all degrees of sorrow. This wasn't like those sappy dramas on TV, this was real... The bleeding of his crushed heart was not to be denied.
He squeezed more tears from his eyes, too tired to wipe them away. The necklace was hugged against him, shaking with his heaving chest.
Koops felt like the poison had damaged him more mentally than physically. Maybe it didn't kill him, but he now had to suffer because of that. He sometimes... heard things... Like voices. They didn't seem to make much sense, and he could never figure out who they belonged to... Some sounded like Beldam, some sounded like Vivian... He could've even sworn he heard his mother ever once in a while. Others... just made him shudder.
He sighed and massaged his temples again, not sure of where his pain was coming from or what he could do to quell it. His friends would come and go, try to talk him out of it, but their words fell on deaf ears. It wasn't the fact that Vivian was gone that bothered him, it was that he was the cause of it. He'd made so many mistakes and done so many stupid things, it could only be his fault. He thought he'd finally rescued her from Beldam, pulling her away from the plight that was her wicked sibling...
But no... He'd let her slip through his fingers again, just like his mother...
Beldam's defeat was more of a loss then a victory to him. Her greediness cost Vivian her life and, in a way, his own. Over and over again, he was told it wasn't his fault, but that wasn't enough to prove it was true. Love meant nothing to him now and never would again, for Beldam had taken away the one thing that made him happy.
Behind him, he heard soft steps on the trimmed grass. Scowling at the ground, he pictured Goombella, Koopie Koo, or someone else approaching to give him yet another speech about his inappropriate behavior.
"Look on the bright side," they'd always say. "You're alive, and the world's been saved again. You've done us all proud... Many a Koopa will come to envy your tale of triumph. The Stalwart Koopa himself would be honored..."
...But he didn't care about any of that; as selfish as it sounded, he'd rather have Vivian in a dark world than be without her in a peaceful one. That thought alone was the truth, and he'd shamelessly scream it from the highest mountains if he had to.
He was a hero in everyone's eyes... except his own.
"Hello, Koops," came the voice of Ms. Mowz. "...It's good to see you're recovering well. How're you holding up?"
He wasn't 'holding up' at all; more like hanging by a thread, just wanting to let go. His body language said this louder than he himself ever could.
The rodent nodded. "I know you're hurting now, but time heals all wounds, no matter how deep they may be. Vivian may be gone, but it was the only way; she died because she cared for her friends... and because she loved you."
"...She didn't die..." he muttered. "...I killed her..."
A sigh followed. "Dreading on must come to pass won't make it any better. You have to have strength for the future, otherwise... you won't have one."
It was ironic and tortuous was she was saying. Something told him all of it was a lie, but he felt compelled to listen.
"For what it's worth, you should be happy that Vivian's happy. And indeed, I know she went in the best way anyone could."
He shook his head, wanting her to stop talking now. "No... You're wrong... Just let it go... There's nothing good about this."
"So, you assume I'm wrong simply because a few things didn't turn out the way you wanted them to?"
He shot her a bitter look, full of hate and loathing. "What do you think?! Vivian's dead! Nothing went the way I wanted it to!"
"The word 'dead' is so misleading. I prefer to say she's passed on, opened new doors, is in peace..."
"..." Shedding a tear, he returned to cradling the necklace.
"...I see you have no interest in hearing what I have to say, then?"
Again, Koops didn't answer, ignoring her completely now. He was tired of everyone trying to make him feel better with their lies. All he wanted was to be left alone to grieve in peace. Maybe he'd come around, maybe he wouldn't, but egging him on with their sympathy wasn't helping. Why couldn't they understand that?!
In the blink of an eye, Ms. Mowz had zipped by him, taking the necklace in the process.
Outraged, he stood. "Give that back! What's wrong with you?!"
"Until you learn to grow up and accept fate, I shall keep this necklace."
"Why can't you just go away?! I just want to be left alone...!"
"Koops, I know it's hard, but you're going to have to stop moping around and accept that Vivian is gone. Unless you can do that, you'll never make peace yourself... And neither will she. Vivian wanted it this way, and I don't think you're doing her sacrifice justice by beating yourself up about it..."
He rubbed his head in pain. "I just... don't know what to do anymore. Everything hurts, Ms. Mowz; it really does. It really does... I... I... hear things... Terrible, awful things... And I see them... They're... horrible."
Ms. Mowz's eye sparkled. "I feel a dark aura seeping from somewhere..."
"..." Koops looked on with tired and emotionless eyes.
She frowned. It was unperceivable by the naked eye and all other senses, but it was there. It had no form, had no feeling, and couldn't exist on that plane alone, but it was alive and it was there. No words could describe it, this... hazy essence of regret, anger, and hate, with just a hint of insanity. It was like poison, or maybe the product of madness, unable to grasp the very meaning of its odium. The force was strong, and the feelings evil, for it was the power of the corrupted Amethyst Star in its final moments... Beldam's manic plans for power were obviously the driving force. Its essence clouded the area with its supremacy, suffocating Koops' mind and killing any hope he had left. It was darkness in its purest form.
Koops fell to the ground, clawing the dirt in aggravation. "I failed her... I failed her, there's no way around it... Everything was perfect until that... that monster took her away!" He suddenly snapped his head up, enraged tears flowing down his cheeks. "You said she was supposed to survive! We did everything you said! We defeated Beldam, but she still died! Why?!"
"I said the Crystal Stars were to take Vivian's life, and because of what we did, they didn't. The only reason she died is because of the Amethyst Star and its negligent user. I assure you, Beldam is paying dearly for her involvement."
He hung his head. "...Does that mean we weren't meant to be? Was our love... forbidden? ...Is that why?"
"No, that's just the way things happened. Part of growing up is accepting what you get and what comes to pass. Not all of our experiences are what we want, but we better ourselves by taking what we can from them. It's not about being optimistic or looking on the bright side, it's about knowing you'll be more prepared for the next time."
"But I broke my promise!" He painfully squeezed more tears from his eyes. It hurt to cry now. "I-I said I'd take care of her and... and...!"
"And did you not? You provided her with the best care you could, even almost sacrificing yourself in the process. Don't mourn her passing, Koops; embrace it, and know she's in a better place. No one will ever hurt her again, and nevermore will she cry. She no longer knows how it feels to lament or hate. You took care of her here and Lillian will in the afterlife. ...Isn't that what you wanted all along?"
She was right... Vivian was in better place, and that should be good enough for him. It was understandable to be sad, but his attitude was a little deplorable. Somewhere deep down, a small part of him as if his sorrow wasn't entirely his fault... Like maybe there was something else provoking it... Upon Ms. Mowz's words, it'd been uplifted and only enlightenment remained.
Ms. Mowz narrowed her eyes as she felt the haze lifting, now spurting nonsensical gibberish at its defeat. It grudgingly dissipated into nothingness, allowing the sun's rays to once more streak through the previously-darkened forest. The last of the poison in Koops was gone, but this wasn't the end of it. ...Could it've been his repressed feelings? The fury of Amethyst Star? ...An evil remnant of the fallen? She wasn't sure, but whatever it was had only been kept at bay. It would return... It swore it would...
Feeling a little less distressed, guilt began to sink into Koops' mind. Beforehand, he'd felt a little haunted by who-knows-what. And as that feeling left him, he suddenly began to see things clearer. The voices, sights, and weird noises were gone, only leaving the question as to what they were and meant. Standing, he sighed, clearly uplifted.
"...You're probably tired of hearing me whine, aren't you?" he reluctantly asked. The rodent didn't answer, but simply walked off. "...I appreciate your words and guidance, as I always have. Without you, I'd be nothing. ...And I know Vivian thanks you, too."
"You're a very brave sort, Koops." She nodded, her back turned. "You've a good head on your shoulders, a gentle heart, and the purest intentions of a boy your age I've ever seen."
He scoffed. "...No, no, I'm not. I'm anything but that."
"Nonsense. You've just got to stop doubting yourself... But for now, I've something to tell you..."
She continued walking off, pulling out a staff with a crescent moon on top. Koops frowned at its familiarity. He'd seen it somewhere before, but couldn't quite put his finger on where...
The rodent held the staff high and he watched as energy collected on it. The power grew and grew until it'd consumed her, transforming her shape and size. Koops looked on in confusion as she lost her mouse-like form, gaining a new, more spectral one. The glowing soon subsided as she lowered the staff, and Ms. Mowz was no more. Koops now looked upon a Boo hovering above him. With her pale blue color, short, purple hair, and a blue-and-white striped hat similar to Beldam's, it was plain to see who she really was.
He blinked. "M-Ms. Mowz...?"
"Simply an alias, my friend. You may know as... Teresa."
"Teresa? T-the Boo Heroine?! But... you were one of the Four Heroes, and they all died! How did you--"
"Being a mage has its advantages. I've made a shadow of myself in order to right all the things that have been wronged."
"But... is this even possible?"
"Apparently so. I couldn't break the curse placed on the Ruby Star I carried, but I used my powers to speak with it and persuade it to give me a chance to fix all that had been wronged. Seeing this, it decided to pardon me. As long as kept my identity a secret, I was allowed to stay alive until I succeeded. The soul trapped in my Black Chest was only a projection of myself; a copy, if you will."
That explained a lot... How she always disappeared without a trace, came out of nowhere just when he need her, knew exactly what to say, and only revealed what she wanted to be seen. He always knew there was something unique about her, but this blew all of his ideas away.
"...So, Ms. Mowz...?"
"...Never existed? Well, I suppose she didn't now, didn't she? But that's not the point. I've finally appeared to you because the prophecy has been fulfilled, and your acceptance of Vivian's passing was the last part to it."
"I don't understand..."
"The Crystal Stars may either be used for good or evil, but their true nature desires to help others and draws on feelings of hope, sacrifice, and acceptance. Although it may've been hard at first, I can see now you've truly learned the error of your ways, despite its minor inconvenience."
Koops shook his head, more confused than ever. "...What exactly are you trying to say?"
Teresa pulled out her staff, stroking the crescent tip. "I suppose actions are louder than words, so I shall show you the spoils of your victory."
The Koopa frowned, seeing no reason to do such a thing. Regardless, Teresa closed her eyes and rhythmically moved the staff about, looking very graceful as she did so. After her small routine was over, she held her staff high, causing it to glow a bright, blinding light that covered the entire area. Koops squinted and shielded his eyes while trying to see through the intense illumination.
Teresa's form had faded, becoming a faint silhouette against the flash of lights. She soon vanished and there was nothing until...
...It was her voice again, just like in his nightmares. She'd always call out to him from afar as if she was warning him of what was to come. It was so eerie and delicate, but he'd always been drawn to it, hoping against all hope it was really her... She kept calling his name until her ghostly form appeared, drifting towards him like a balloon in the wind. She walked in ways that didn't even seem normal for her; he knew it was her ghost coming to haunt him again.
Sometimes he'd see her, sometimes he didn't. It was all so confusing and terrifying, he found it hard to concentrate. ...And they're was always been a false sense of security, like something was just waiting to take her away and swallow him whole again. Knowing it wasn't real, he turned away, unable to look her in face.
"No! No!" He shook his head. "Please... Just stop it..."
In his mind, in his thoughts, in his dreams, it was always the same. She'd be so close to him, reaching out take his hand, and he was ready to welcome her so fondly. But just as he got his arms around her, she'd disappear... And he'd be alone again. Alone just like he was when his family was torn apart... He couldn't bear to see another vision. Why was she doing this?!
"Please stop taunting me..." He desperately pleaded to the unseen Teresa. "I said I was sorry... What else do you want?!"
He flinched as a soft hand caressed his face.
"I want to stay with you."
He looked up in shock. Not once did the visions of her ever speak like that...
She came closer and gently took his hand, placing it her chest. Horrified at what would happen next, he started to pull away, but suddenly stopped. He felt something... something soft, warm, and alive in a strong, steady rhythm.
It was her heartbeat, an actual pulse. Unlike his visions, which faded away when he touched them, she was real as ever.
"...Is that really you?" He ran his fingers through her curls, its memorable cotton-like texture pleasing his senses. "It's not, is it? ...T-this is just a dream?"
She looked around in confusion. "...I think so."
Her voice...! It sounded so confused and real, like she really had no idea what was going on. In his visions, her voice was always so distorted and full of static, as if she were talking through a possessed radio. It had no feeling, often taunted him, and usually had the same tone of evilness Beldam once did. It made his stomach cramp just thinking about it.
But the voice he heard now was soft and sweet, gentle and warm. It was full of feeling, emotion, and was as close as to him as it could be. It was then he noticed she was no longer transparent or idly drifting about with no purpose. The whiteness of the background faded and everything returned to normal.
Seeing his puzzled expression, she smiled shyly. "Well, I know you're here, so I don't think it's a dream."
"But how...? Y-you're supposed to be de--"
Suddenly reappearing, Teresa cleared her throat. "Now, what did I tell you about using that word? Besides, after ridding the world of the Shadow Queen, the Great Enemy, and restoring equality and peace to the Crystal Stars, I think this is the least I can do. ...Isn't this what you wanted?"
"But... I thought you said it was better to accept she was gone..." Wincing, he reluctantly pulled away from Vivian. "This is another test, isn't it? To see if I'll take the bait? ...Even if it meant giving her up, I want her to be happy. Really, I understand that now; you don't have to do this anymore."
"Oh, poor Koops. All this madness has made you paranoid, hasn't it? I assure you that this time, it's the real deal," said Teresa. "Vivian's here because she wants to be."
Vivian nodded, smiling. "She's right. The good place was nice... but it was missing the one thing I wanted most..."
Koops was baffled. "...What could possibly be better than being there?"
"Well... being with you."
Hearing that touched Koops' heart in so many ways, he could even begin to express them all. Saying such a thing and meaning it was no small feat. She wrapped her arms around him with a smile, just glad to be near him again. Her long drought of loneliness was over, the result being their ultimate happiness together. She'd gladly choose his company over everything else, as the same went for him. Her job done, Teresa gently placed the necklace back over Vivian's neck and began floating off.
"Wait, Ms. Mow--uh, Teresa?" called Koops. "Where're you going?"
She tipped her hat. "To rest. This job took all my strength, but my rewards will be great, for I've accomplished everything with fantastic outcomes. Tell the others I've gone on a... permanent vacation."
"But I thought you were pardoned. Doesn't that mean you can stay?"
"No, it is my fate to join the others in the afterlife. My pardoning was only temporary. I was destined to die, and I dare not go against it. It's what will be, and what must come. Believe me; I've been waiting a long time for this day."
Koops looked disappointed. "...Will we ever see you again?"
She smiled sadly. "I'm afraid not. My time here is up now that everything's back to normal. I shouldn't stay here any longer than I have to. By order of the Crystal Stars, I must return to the beyond..."
Vivian frowned. "Then, I guess this is... goodbye?"
"No. I won't say goodbye; I never say goodbye. For now, I only say farewell. Farewell and remember all the things you've learned and apply them. And if you should forget all else, remember this: hope will always overcome darkness, faith shall forever triumph over evil, and charity will never fail to win the hearts of those most distant."
The Shadow Siren couldn't help but take those words to heart, as Koops saw it as simple advice. With a final bow of departure, she hovered away, her body slowly becoming more and more transparent until she disappeared from view, leaving not a trace of herself behind. It was difficult to tell whether she'd ever been there at all...
Vivian and Koops stood in silence as their friend and advisor left them. It was an odd, bittersweet kind of feeling, but it was for the best. After so many years, the Four Heroes were finally all together again. And they would never be forgotten.
Koops took Vivian's hand. "...Come on. Let's go home."
She smiled at that, remembering Lillian saying almost the exact same thing in the good place. And she really was going home... To another kind of good place.
The two were about to leave when the distant sound of something coming through the shadows caught Koops' attention. Holding Vivian back, he braced himself for the worse. With Teresa gone, it could've been anything at this point. He stood his ground, ready to react the best way he could, both for his and Vivian's sake. Oddly, to his surprise, Marilyn appeared from the darkness. She dully gazed ahead at Koops, but seemed more focused on Vivian.
He hadn't seen her since they destroyed the Shadow Queen, so why was she here now? To get revenge? To try and pick up where Beldam left off? She was still technically the enemy, whether she and Vivian were related or not. Vivian, on the other hand, knew Marilyn wanted nothing to do with their power-hungry sister. Knowing her, Beldam probably abandoned her after figuring out how to get all the Crystal Stars. Maybe she was here to make amends...?
Koops scowled, ready for a fight. "...What do you want?"
Marilyn sneered, adjusting her hat. "...I see you're quite taken with Vivian."
"Huh?" He looked to Vivian for an answer. "...I didn't know Marilyn could talk..."
"Well, she can... a little." She was clearly just as confused. "She's never said anything like this, though..."
He looked back at the siren. "...So, why're you here? We don't have the Crystal Stars, if that's what you want."
"...No. To keep an eye on Vivian. ...She needs looking after..."
"But... I'm staying with Koops now." She hugged his arm, smiling. "It's okay, you can trust him. See?"
"...We should stay together at all times." Marilyn crossed her arms. "...I made the mistake of not doing that with Lillian..."
Vivian nodded in understanding. Since Beldam was gone, it only made sense she'd want to be around her last surviving sibling.
"So... you want to stay... with me and Koops?"
"...Not now. ...Maybe stay here for privacy... " Marilyn continued staring Koops down. "...Is that a problem?"
He made a face, the thought of her hanging around in the fortress very odd. Of course, she did seem deeply concerned about Vivian's welfare. Her situation was understandable, but so was the awkwardness of coming to terms with her.
Vivian smiled pleadingly. "Koops, you don't mind, do you? Please? She's nothing like Beldam. She won't cause any trouble."
Koops wasn't sure he had any say in the matter. Only bad things would come from refusing the two...
He shrugged. "Why not? You're, uh, welcome to stay as long as you... like?"
Marilyn's firm expression refused to change. She only answered with a simple nod before coming over to pat Vivian's head.
"...I know you'll take good care of her... I can tell..."
"..." No matter what he could've said at that point, it'd be extremely awkward. He just eyed her warily as she playfully messed with Vivian's hat, making her laugh a little. Once finished, she turned and began leaving, fading into the shadows before she got too far. Koops let out a relieved and took Vivian by the hand again.
"Now that that's settled, let's really go home..."
All was as it should've been. Nobody ever saw Teresa or Ms. Mowz again, but Vivian sometimes felt she was watching her from afar... How afar she didn't know exactly; maybe from the living room, or along with Lillian and the rest of the Four Heroes in the good place... But wherever she was, she was watching.
Things went on peacefully and quietly in Petalburg. Nothing ever happened there, and everybody was happy and peaceful as they could be. It was dream come true for Vivian, especially with some kin nearby. She occasionally visited her in the dark sewage of Shhwonk Fortress. It was still a little difficult to warm up to her, but since she and Vivian were so close, it'd only be a matter of time.
Koops would tell his friends and family of how something amazing happened that day, and she returned to him by order of the Crystal Stars. Not everything had been fully clarified, but did it didn't need to be; miracles rarely needed understanding.
Vivian dozed in Koops' lap at the moment, the commotion of the TV gently leading her into dreamland. His gentle stroking of her hair only added in putting her to sleep. Dinner would be ready soon, but something told her she wouldn't it make it to see what they were having. Her eyes became heavy and lax as he hit a good spot under her hat. The house was warm and comforting with the happiness and reunion of something important, something that mattered...
Lillian had been right all along; this was her happy ending. And what an ending it was.
Authoress' Notes: ...And that's all she wrote. And since it's the epilogue, there's no "BOA2" excerpt, but instead, little tidbits about the story you may or may not've known:
Koops' name is "Spook" spelled backwards.
Bobbery's name is actually an outdated word meaning "a great disturbance or noise".
Kevin's name means "kind, gentle, or handsome". In some sense, he's kinda all of these.
Teresa's name actually came from the Japanese name for Boos. Coincidentally, it also means "good harvester", which is basically a person who works hard and is greatly rewarded for their efforts.
Aaron's name means "high mountain" or "exalted". This refers to his high rank around his hometown.
Goombertha's name is a combination of Goomba and Bertha, which means "bright, famous". This refers to the fact she's well-known for being so smart.
Nero's name is Italian for "black", but also a Roman name meaning "strong, vigorous".
Lillian's advisor in Chapter 23 is named Kelly, which means "wood" or "holly". It's also a shade of green.
Beldam's advisor in Chapter 24 is named Yuki, which is Japanese for "snow".
Koops' mother, Koopana gets her name from Koopa and Anna, which means "grace".
Katherine, a friend to both Koops and Koopie Koo, has a name that means "pure" or "each of the two", since she's kinda the equalizer between the younger Koopas.