Mikau: Well, here we are. The final chapter of TBT. I would like to thank everyone for helping me get through the stress and the work load and the sickness of this past year. I've had a lot of fun working on this fic, and I'd just like to say that it was worth all the hard work. I hope you enjoy this chapter, and I think the next fic I will start on in the next few weeks will be a Judo fic. It will probably be around 20 chapters like this one was supposed to be. Ha. Ha. Ha. There I go again trying to predict how much I'm going to write. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the chapter. Thanks so much everybody!

Disclaimer: I don't own Shaman King.


Epilogue: Foliage

I was tired and I felt absolutely, positively ill. I had finally gotten my youngest child, Yukio, to take his nap, so I had a little free time in which to feel sick. I sat down in the armchair next to Yukio's crib, and almost fell asleep, but unfortunately for me, I would not be allowed a nap.

"IVYYYYYYYY!" Thorn. She just couldn't bring herself to call me 'mother' or 'mom' or something like that. She just had to call me, "IVYIVY! IIIIVVYYYYYY!" Ivy. To her we were friends, not mother and daughter.

And of course all the noise woke the baby who was, up until that point, peacefully sleeping in his crib. Now with Yukio bawling and Thorn screaming, I wanted to shoot them, but instead I took a deep breath and quietly muttered my mantra, "Just because I'm six months pregnant, and have morning sickness and can't sleep, and have all sorts of cramps and a pounding headache, doesn't make it right to murder my children whom I love very much." I exhaled and picked up my crying child, bouncing him gently up and down.

"I'm in the nursery!" I called to my youngest daughter. I looked down at the baby boy in my arms. He looked back up at me with his beautiful sky blue eyes, and tugged on my shoulder-length tawny hair. I ruffled his own bright orange hair, and he giggled. It was moments like that when I loved being a mother. "Don't tell Hoshi and Thorn, but you're my favorite." I whispered, blowing on his stomach.

The little one year old laughed and laughed, all smiles. When his fit of giggles finally subsided, he batted at my chest and opened and closed his mouth. His way of saying "I'm hungry."

"Again? I just fed you, you little piggy." I gently nuzzled my baby and begrudgingly fed him again.

It was about right then when my husband happened to walk past in the hall, and stopped in the doorway to watch with a somewhat perverted, but mostly sappy grin on his face. Hao sauntered up behind me and sucked delicately on my neck. "I'm next after he's done."

I lightly nudged his shin with my foot. "Stop it; Yukio's right here." I tried to conceal my own playful grin.

"Oh come on; you know you want to." My husband wrapped his arms around my expanding waist and continued his assault on my neck.

"Hao, stop!" I couldn't help but break out in a fit of giggles. "Sure I want to, but we're supposed to be babysitting, and my sister would kill me if she knew that—" He cut me off as he slid in front of me and conquered my lips with his own. I held onto Yukio with one arm, and wrapped the other around Hao's neck.


We separated our lips, but didn't let go of each other. I looked up and there was Thorn standing in the doorway.

She buried her face in her hands and sighed. "Figures I'd find you like this! You two are so indecent! I can't believe you; Yukio is right there!"

Hao chuckled semi-evilly. "Indecent? That's not indecent. Not even close."

He looked casually at me and winked. I picked up on my husband's scheme. "No, what would be really indecent is if you found us and we were—"

"—NO! NO! NO! I don't want to hear it!" She covered her ears, closed her eyes, and looked away, singing, "Sheltered, virgin ears! LA LA LA! I can't hear you! I can't hear you!"

My husband and I had a good laugh at the younger twin's expense. I rolled my eyes and smiled at her naivety. "Sweetheart, you're 19."

Hao grinned mischievously. "Yeah, haven't you gone any farther than first base with that boyfriend of yours?"

I softly elbowed Hao as Thorn turned bright pink. "DAD! Stop teasing me! For your information, I've done plenty with Akira."

"Like what? Held his hand? Wow Thorn, careful or else he might get you pregnant." Hao mocked.

The teenage girl turned her back to her father and snorted indignantly. "Fine. Be that way about it. Tease me, see if I care. I was going to tell you, but now I don't think I will."

"Tell us what?" I asked, taking the bait, unable to contain my curiosity.

"That I am pregnant, and Lucifer's the father." The room fell silent.

Hao and I both stared at her, unable to tell if she was teasing or telling the truth. 'She has been eating more lately…and her chest does look a bit fuller…' things along those lines flowed through my head.

"WHAT?" Hao gaped at the younger of our two daughters.

"You heard me: Lucy and I have been having an affair, and I'm going to be having his child." She peeked over her shoulder and tried to hide a guilty grin. She broke out in peals of laughter and turned around to stare at us. "You should see the looks on your faces! I'm not pregnant at all!" She barely managed to leak out through giggles. "I'd never help my sister's fiancée cheat on her! And I'd never sleep with someone before marriage! Who do you think I am? Hoshi? I'm still surprised that you believed me."

"Oh thank god." I uttered a sigh of relief.

"Please never do that to me again." Hao broke away from me and slumped in the armchair.

"Now that that's taken care of, what was it that you wanted Thorn?" I set Yukio in his crib and walked over to my daughter.

A look of enlightenment came over her face. "Oh yeah…. Ivy! The triplets won't leave me alone, and I have my exams this week, so I have to study, but they won't be quiet and let me, and Akira is going to be here to pick me up for our date in fifteen minutes, and I'm not going to make it through law school if I don't do well on exams, college is too hard, and I'm a total flop as a lawyer!" She buried her face in her hands again and sobbed. Yukio, upset by the amount of noise his older sister was making, started crying as well. It was moments like this that made me hate being a mother.

"Have you considered a career change?" Hao replied, picking up Yukio from his crib and bouncing him while making faces. "Maybe you should become an actress. Akira is doing pretty well, and maybe he could get you a job and you two could play opposite in something."

Thorn sighed and curled up in the now vacant armchair. "But I want to be a lawyer…."

In rushed three identical whirlwinds of trouble. My nieces, Anna's daughters, the triplets. Sumire: the wild brunette in purple for the flower she was named after (violet); Suiren: the imaginative, but somewhat ditzy blonde in pink for her name (water lily); and Momoiro: the sweet, demure redhead in red for her flower's name (rosy).

The three pushed and shoved and whined and moaned, making a fuss about anything they could think of. The triplets were frequently over at my house, but I didn't mind. They were adorable when the tried to be, and they had never broken anything extremely expensive. I was happy to baby-sit them; my poor sister deserved a break every once in awhile, and I positively adored the girls. Most of the time they were at the mansion was spent with Lucifer though. Sometimes Hao, Hoshi, or Thorn, but they absolutely adored their Uncle Lucy and Auntie Ivy.

Tough today they seemed to be obsessed with Thorn. "Thorn! Play with us! Please! Please!" They chorused. They had the most adorable habit of finishing each other's sentences and saying the same thing at the same time without having organized it beforehand.

"Not today. I have to study." The poor teen curled up even tighter into her ball on the armchair. She looked like a tortured animal, trying to escape her tormentors. "I think I'm going insane."

"If you'd like, I could give you a free session, Thorn." A new voice, the voice of my first child's psychiatrist-fiancée, drifted in from the hall.

The triplets turned around and jumped up and down when they saw who was there. "UNCLE LUCY! UNCLE LUCY!" The children rushed to the shirtless Lucifer standing in the doorway. "Hey! If it isn't my three favorite girls in the entire world!" He bent down and nuzzled each of them.

Hoshi walked up behind him and rolled her eyes. "I knew you didn't love me anymore. You were awful this morning, and now I know why; you like those three more than you love your own fiancée!"

Lucifer was wearing the same pants he had been wearing the day before, and that was pretty much all he was wearing. He didn't even have socks on, and his hair wasn't pulled up like usual. Instead he left it down, disheveled, and hanging partly in his face. Hoshi too looked less than presentable for two o'clock in the afternoon. She wore a baggy red T-shirt of Lucifer's and tight black biking shorts. She also had no socks or shoes on, and her hair was down and tousled. It wasn't hard to guess what they had been doing all that morning prior to their joint appearance in the nursery.

"Now, now Hoshi. Technically you're a woman, and you happen to be my favorite woman in the entire world. You know how much I love you Hosh." They exchanged sappy grins, and she kissed him lightly on the cheek.

"All right, I forgive you. I know you love me, and would be completely lost if I left you." Hoshi smiled and hugged her fiancée through her own small fit of giggles as he tickled her.

"Now tell me, was I really that bad this morning?" Lucifer kissed my eldest daughter lightly on the tip of her nose and gazed questioningly.

She bopped him lightly on the head and rolled her eyes, still smiling uncontrollably. "No, baka. I was just teasing. You were magnificent as always." Then they started kissing again.

Thorn covered her eyes and groaned. "Okay, back to my life! To recap: the triplets are annoying, exams are this week, Akira's coming, I have to study, and I'm a bad lawyer. Help me…."

Hoshi pulled away from her fiancée and suggested, "Lucy could take them off your hands, he's terrific with children, right Lucifer?"

The demon-boy looked like he was about to protest, but at the last second thought better of it. "Sure, I could take them to the park or something. You want to come with us Hoshi?"

"Sure, I'll meet you there; you go on ahead of me. Go with Uncle Lucy girls." The three girls nodded and followed after Lucifer like puppies. Hoshi walked over to Thorn and sat next to her on the arm of the chair. "You know, Hana really should be the one babysitting them. They are his siblings after all."

"Hana's got a job today, so he can't watch them." Hao informed her, still rocking Yukio back and forth in his arms. I smiled and thought what a good father he was.

"He was working last Sunday too…and all this week…you'd think male super models would get more days off…" Thorn sighed and looked up at the ceiling pensively. "You know, I'd never pictured Hana as a model, but I guess now that I think about it, it really does suit him. He's pretty enough for it…. And girly to boot."

"Are you okay?" The older sister addressed her twin. "You seem depressed." Thorn was about to answer, but Hoshi's pager went off. "Sorry, one second Thorn." She glanced down at the pager and sighed. "Great." She pulled out her cell phone and pushed speed-dial one. "Hey Lucy? It's me… Faust says he needs me at the clinic, so I can't go to the park with you guys. Are you going to be okay alone with those three?... Okay…all right…. If you say so…Okay, I'll see you later…. I love you too…. Bye." Hoshi turned to us and smiled apologetically. "Sorry, I have to go in to work at the clinic; one of the patients has suddenly taken a turn for the worse, and they need a few extra hands. I'll see you all later." She hugged each of us and kissed Yukio on the forehead. Turning to her sister and kissing her on the cheek as well, "Cheer up Thorn. It's not so bad. Everything will turn out okay."

"You're sure?" The younger twin moaned.

"Yeah, like totally." Hoshi smirked, winking at Thorn teasingly. "You'll see. Everything will be just fine." She patted her sister comfortingly on her knee and smiled, waving happily over her shoulder as she left to go change.

Thorn looked longingly at her sister's retreating back. "She's so confident and sure of herself…. When did Hoshi become such an optimist?"

"Since she met Lucifer." I sat down next to her in the chair and wrapped my arm around her in a half-hug.

"I wish I could be like that…knowing what I want out of life, and being able to get a good job right out of high school with absolutely no medical training whatsoever." Thorn's mood swiftly shifted from desolate and demure to a tone filled with vicious anger at her sister. "She's still in college for her medical degree and yet they still hire her! Where's the justice in that? Plus, isn't that illegal?"

"A lot of the things Hoshi does are illegal." Hao half-smiled, trying to comfort Thorn, but still teasing her at the same time.

Thorn sighed again, burying her face in her hands so that she could cry without us seeing.

Seeing that he had done more harm than good, my husband set Yukio back down in his crib and came over to sit on the arm of the chair and try to comfort Thorn. Hao rubbed her arm soothingly. "I'm sorry Thorn. Are you going to be okay?"

"You all have forgotten, haven't you?" The savage tone was back in my daughter's voice. "Today is the anniversary of Ivory's death. Four days after Jade died, the same day I was in the hospital. I got out of the hospital the day of her funeral and you guys took me to it, remember? She wrote that long, beautiful love letter to Hana and then she shot herself. She said that her life was empty and that she just wanted it to end. She said she wasn't bitter at all, but that she just wanted the pain to stop. Hana wouldn't come out of his room for days, don't you remember? Makoto and Akira, the both of them cried and cried and cried at her funeral. I didn't though. I couldn't. I was too numb to understand what was going on. Of course I knew, but nothing made sense, and I couldn't cry. I sat there thinking that it wasn't real, that she wasn't really dead. I sat there and convinced myself that she would be okay, and that she would come back like me, or you Ivy. She didn't though… She didn't… She just lay there, and it wasn't like in the stories you hear about how they look like they're asleep; she didn't look asleep at all. Her skin was almost completely white with all the blood drained from her face, and she didn't look like the girl I knew at all. It was awful. I mean really awful. I never cried, but I didn't go to school for a week. The musical was moved back a couple months, and we had to replace her…I hated it. I couldn't understand why she would do such a thing. 'Why would you want to kill yourself? She seemed so happy.' That's what I thought at first, but then I remembered what she had written. She said she 'had died for love because there is no greater cause in the world. Love fills the empty void within us, and keeps us alive. Without love and care a rose wilts and dies and then all you have left is a dried collection of petals on a thorn-covered stem. I am a neglected rose, and finally my time to die has come. Don't mourn for me, and don't tear yourselves to pieces on the thorns I leave behind. I'll be happier when I can no longer feel the pain of rejection. Don't get me wrong; I'm not bitter, just empty. Love is the only thing left for me, and so, I die for love.' She was perfectly happy about dying, and she didn't want us to be sad, she wanted us to go on being happy without her. But I still can't see what brought her to kill herself. I understand why she did it, love was the most important thing in the world to Ivory, but I could never bring myself to suicide. It would be too awful…but I feel empty too. I don't know what's important to me. I don't know what I can do to fill this gaping hole inside of me. I have Akira, and I know that he loves me, and I love him too, but I still don't feel complete. I'm missing something. A part of myself. I don't know what's important to me, and I don't know what I want in life, and I can't fill that void until I do." She curled up in my arms and cried.

I didn't know what to say. The poor thing had just poured her heart out to me, but I didn't have the words to respond. I looked to Hao for something, anything, a sign, a suggestion, but he only smiled back at me, and waited for me to say something on my own. I knew that smile. It was the 'You already know what to say.' grin.

I opened my mouth, and surprisingly, words came out. "You already know what you want. It's already inside of you; you just have to dig for it a little. You may feel depressed now, but someday soon you'll understand, and you'll fill that hole on your own. I felt the same way when I was little. You're never completely alone Thorn, you always have your family and friends to lean on." I kissed the top of her head and looked to Hao to see if I had done all right. His smile told me I had.

"Maybe you're right…M—er…Mom." She smiled uneasily at me.

But I hugged her nonetheless. "Oh good! We're making progress!"

She shook her head, smiled, and went to the living room to wait for Akira and maybe get some studying done.

Hao sat down next to me in the chair. "Do you think I'm a good parent, Hao?"

He grinned lazily and rolled his eyes. "Ivy, Ivy, Ivy…you have no self-confidence when it comes to parenting. Why do you constantly seek my approval?"

I lay my head on his chest. "Because I love you." I was about to lean in and kiss him, but baby Yukio started crying again.

I was about to get up, but Hao beat me to it. "You're pregnant, let me bring him to you. You've been in here with him all day, and you deserve at least a little time to relax."

I smiled widely at him as he handed me my baby. "Thanks Hao. Hey Yuki? What's up?" Yukio stopped crying for the most part once he was in my arms, but still remained fussy. "I guess he doesn't like it when I call him 'Yuki'."

Hao retook his seat next to me. "The original Yukio, my friend from a thousand years back, didn't like it either. He had fits when I called him that." Yukio caught a bit of his father's hair and gave it a hard tug. "Ow! What was that for? I'm not the one who called you that, she was. Get her!" Hao gestured towards me.

It was all I could do not to laugh as Yukio yawned and laid his head on my chest. "He's a mommy's boy; he wouldn't."

"Yeah, yeah." Hao smirked mischievously and tugged lightly on my hair himself. "So, what's the next one going to be?" He rested a hand on my stomach.

I rolled my eyes and glared. "You know perfectly well. I've told you plenty of times it's going to be another girl."

"I know. I just love hearing you say it." He smirked and nibbled at my ear.

"Stop teasing me just because I wanted another boy." I wanted to elbow him, but I couldn't because I was still holding Yukio.

"It will be fun having another girl. You've never raised a girl before." I could see him smirking behind me.

"I suppose you're right…we can always have more if I still want another boy after this. We need to think of a name though…" I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of Hao's heartbeat and breathing, in time with my own.

"How about Fern?" He suggested.

I shook my head. "No, we have enough floral names in our family already."

"What's one more then? I guess if you don't like the name Fern, how about—"

"—How about we name her later?" I cut in, feeling tired and no longer quite in the mood to discus our next child's name.

"That works too, I guess…" Hao shrugged. "I love you." He whispered in my ear as I drifted off to sleep.

I somehow managed to mumble back, "I love you more." And then fell asleep.

An ivy vine cannot stand on its own, so it clings to walls and trees. And so the woman Ivy clung to many people and things to get her through her lifetime. God knows she never would have made it on her own without the help of her loved ones. That is how this tale was possible: family and friends.

Once upon a time there was a child named Judo who lived in a constant nightmare. She transformed into a girl named Ivy who died and was revived but then died again. It was then that she became the woman Valerie for a long, long time. But Valerie faded away into nothing, and the woman Ivy returned. And lived. Not always so 'Happily Ever After'. But she did live.




To "Mikauzoran" the flamer: Hello, and first off, get your own penname, loser, this one is mine. And second, I absolutely abhor the phrase "you suck". I would never say that, so next time you impersonate me, do it right. Also, another one of my pet peeves is writing in all caps, so that's another thing to add to the list of things not to do. I really don't understand flamers; I write really, really long fics, and if you hate them so much, why would you waste your time reading the whole thing and then flaming it. If you are going to critique my work, okay, do it like all the rest of the reviewers: say what you thought could use improvement, don't just randomly insult me. Even D: tells me what he thinks I could add to my story to improve it. Also, I think you made D: extremely mad by flaming me; he seems to be a bit possessive. Better luck next time.

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