Well, here we are... the final chapter of The Angel And The Slayer. It's taken a long while to get here, hasn't it? About time that I finish this story off...
Once again, I suppose you guys are all wondering why the hell it took me so long to post this chapter, but this time I actually have a semi-decent excuse: I was in Japan for eight weeks this summer. Still, though, that really doesn't explain all of why it took me so long. I'll get back to that at the end of this chapter.
Other than that I don't really have much to say here... I'm saving my final thoughts about this story for the end of the chapter. In any case, anonymous reviewer thanks for the previous chapter go out to unknown, Maver1ck22, and someguy. Now, let's get on with this, shall we?
Isaac, Mia, Garet and Ivan
It still felt like a dream.
Even now, hours after the fact, Isaac still could not believe that the events of the previous night had actually happened. The joy and excitement were still coursing through his veins, more than enough proof that what had happened last night between him and Mia had been real, and yet for some reason, he was finding it very difficult to get his brain to accept that fact. Even when he replayed the memories in his mind's eye, even when he consciously told himself that yes, he had kissed her, and that yes, she had kissed him back, had expressed the very same feelings for him as he had for her... even then, he still found himself thinking that maybe he would soon wake up and realize that it had all been a dream. Everything about that magical time he had spent with her—everything they had said, everything they had done, every gesture of affection that they had shared—seemed simply too exciting, too blissful, too perfect to be anything other than a product of his wistful imagination.
He was leaning on the railing at the front of the ship now, lost in his thoughts, just as he had been last night when Mia had come out to see him. His eyes were on the waves below him, on the dazzling sparkles that the light of the morning sun cast on the waters, but his mind couldn't have been further away. He knew it was a bit early for him to be up, and that his friends probably wouldn't be awake for a little while longer, but he hardly cared. There was no chance of him getting back to sleep, not with his mind racing with thoughts as it was. All he could do now, all he really wanted to do now this early in the morning was to stand out here, watching the sea... and to recreate the events of last night in his head, over and over and over again.
He couldn't think straight. He hadn't been able to think straight ever since Mia's lips had first touched his, and he doubted his mind would start functioning properly again for days at the very least. Every thought he had ended up coming back to her—her crystal-blue eyes, her radiant smile, her passionate kiss. Even the mere thought of her was enough to bring back all the sensations he had felt last night, even the memory of her lips on his was enough to bring back the feeling of electricity shooting down his spine and make all the nerves in his body feel like they were on fire. Sol, he had never imagined that things could turn out so well. For weeks past he had been conjuring up images in his head about what it would be like, had imagined in detail a tender, romantic moment where he and Mia would breathlessly admit their feelings for each other, but what had happened last night had surpassed even his wildest expectations.
And yet the funniest thing about last night, he mused, was that neither of them had ever actually spoken their feelings aloud. Of course, it wasn't as though they had really needed to—after all, Isaac thought with a grin, kissing a girl like that made it pretty damned clear how you felt about her—but after weeks of agonizing over what he was going to say to Mia when he finally told her, it was just amusing to think that in the end he hadn't needed to say anything at all. Then again, he supposed, Mia had always been good at doing that, seeing his true feelings without him having to speak. He had to wonder, had she noticed how badly he was falling for her all along? Or had she been just like him, not knowing that her feelings were mutual until just a moment before they had kissed?
Another wave of warmth and affection washed over him at that thought, and for what felt like the millionth time Isaac wished that Mia was out there with him. But she was still asleep, he knew, and probably would be for a little while longer. A small part of him actually wanted to go and wake her up, but the rational part of his mind told him that would just annoy her, and the last thing he wanted was to risk making Mia upset so soon after they had revealed their feelings to each other. Besides, he thought with a wry smile, this was just something he was going to have to get used to, wasn't it? Obviously he wasn't going to be able to be alone with Mia every second of the day. His duties on the ship, as well as Garet and Ivan—though Isaac was trying very hard not to think about the two boys at the present moment—wouldn't let that happen.
His thoughts about the future, however, brought the single question he had been wondering about all morning back into the forefront of his mind. It was a simple question, and in truth it wasn't something that bothered him much, if at all, but nevertheless ever since Isaac had woken up the question had lain there, unanswered, in the back of his head:
What happened now?
It was almost funny, really, when he thought about it. He had spent so much time worrying about the moment itself—worrying about when to tell her, worrying about what to say, worrying about whether she returned his feelings. But now that the moment had passed, and Isaac knew that Mia felt just as strongly for him as he did for her, he realized that he had never once turned his mind to what happened after that. And more importantly, he realized he didn't know at all.
And despite the euphoria still coursing through his body, despite everything in his mind telling him that things could only get better from here... he couldn't help but feel just the slightest bit nervous about that fact.
After all, he had never been in any sort of relationship with a girl before, and now that he and Mia were a couple (or at least, he assumed that was what they were now), he had to wonder: was there anything he was supposed to do? Was there some sort of custom, some sort of unwritten rule that Mia would be expecting him to follow when he saw her again? And if there was, would she maybe... like him less if he didn't follow it?
But he pushed the nervousness under almost instantly, a small, almost self-deprecating smile forming on his face even though there was nobody around to see him. Why, he wondered, was he even worried about such things at all? Had he forgotten whom he was thinking about? There wasn't a single person on Weyard who was more understanding than Mia. She wouldn't think less of him, not if all he did was make some silly mistake.
With that thought in mind, he felt the euphoria return in full force, and once again he found his mind drifting to the events of last night, drifting back to that first kiss that had set off this flood of warmth and pleasure inside him. He only hoped that Mia would come outside soon. Maybe, if the gods smiled on him and she came out to meet him now, he could have a good half-hour alone with her before Garet and Ivan came and—
"Hi," a soft, shy voice suddenly came from behind him.
The sudden voice surprised Isaac, breaking him out of his thoughts. Unlike last night, however, this time Isaac didn't need to look behind him to know who was speaking. By the elements... even the sound of her voice was enough to set his heart racing.
He turned around slowly, and even though he knew Mia was there behind him, he couldn't help but feel a little pang of warmth cross his heart as his eyes came to rest upon her. Her long azure hair was back up in its usual ponytail, and she was now clad in her pale blue dress instead of her rather revealing nightgown, but the smile on her face was the same one she had shown him last night—small, fond, full of nothing but affection, and yet at the same time shy and reserved, as though she were meeting him for the first time. She was blushing faintly, but her eyes were still sparkling with happiness, and when combined with that smile Isaac couldn't help but think she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
She smiled a little wider as his eyes met hers, and for a moment Isaac was seized by a powerful urge to step forward and kiss her right then and there. But even as he thought that, a flicker of uncertainty flitted across his mind. It was a small thing, barely even worth worrying about, but nevertheless it was enough to make him check his step and ask himself: would that really be the right thing to do?
Unfortunately, he didn't have any time to think about it, as Mia was waiting for him to respond. "Hey," he replied softly, giving her a small, fond smile to match hers as he tried to push away his thoughts. "You sleep well?"
She shrugged, her blush deepening as her gaze fell momentarily to the deck. "As well as I could," she responded almost sheepishly, looking up. "It was... kind of hard to sleep after last night, to be honest."
Isaac's smile grew slightly at that, her words sending a thrill of happiness through his body. Not just because she was just as happy about the events of last night as he was, but because her words made him realize once again that yes, it was really true, she loved him. "I know what you mean," he replied softly.
Mia grinned, but said nothing. And in the short silence that followed, Isaac could feel that powerful urge to kiss her slowly return. But with it came that flicker of uncertainty again, that same faint nervousness that he might be doing something wrong. After all, how could he know whether Mia wanted him to kiss her at this very moment? It was easy to tell himself that she would understand if he did something foolish, but it was another thing entirely to actually test that theory. What was he supposed to do? What did people in these sorts of relationships normally do, anyway?
His thoughts were stopped, however, when Mia stepped forward, slowly making her way to where he was standing. For an instant Isaac thought she was going to make the first move and kiss him herself, but she stepped to his side instead, taking a place on the railing next to him. Much like she had last night, she leaned out towards the waters, watching the sparkles from the sunlight dance along the waves. She was silent for a moment, but just as Isaac was about to say something, she opened her mouth and spoke first.
"It's funny," she said softly without looking at him, a small, almost embarrassed smile on her face. "I woke up this morning, and I was absolutely convinced that... that everything that happened last night was just a dream."
He couldn't help but chuckle, feeling a bit of the nervousness drain out of him as another thrill of happiness shot through his body. "Actually, ah..." he responded slowly, giving her an embarrassed smile to match hers, "I felt that way, too."
Mia smiled a little wider at those words, closing her eyes in a way that made her look so blissfully content that Isaac could swear he could actually feel the happiness radiating from her. Then she turned to him, still with that wonderful smile on her face, and more than ever Isaac just wanted to kiss her again. She just looked so utterly beautiful, smiling like that, that he was finding it very hard to resist. But still the faint nervousness held him back, preventing him from acting on his impulse. After what had happened last night, he knew there was nothing left to fear, but still... what was he supposed to do?
When he had kissed her last night it had been completely out of instinct, without any conscious thought on his behalf. But now that that magical moment had ended and he was able to think clearly again, he had to wonder whether it was the right thing to do at this moment. There was no doubt in his mind that she would appreciate any gesture of affection he made, that she felt just as strongly for him as he did for her. But at the same time... despite how witty and playful she could sometimes be around him, Isaac knew that at heart Mia was a shy, delicate girl. And he didn't want to frighten or embarrass her by doing something she didn't want, not when he still didn't know what sort of things she was comfortable with.
But then, he wondered, how was he supposed to figure that out? Regardless of how she felt about him, regardless of how easily he knew he could talk with her about anything, that wasn't the sort of thing you could just come out and ask someone about. But abruptly he was broken out of his thoughts as he felt something soft and warm brush against his hand. He looked down, and found that Mia had gently taken one of his hands in hers, holding it gingerly, as though afraid she might hurt him somehow if she applied any pressure at all. She looked up at him then, smiling fondly, but with a shy, almost hesitant look on her face, and an inquisitive glint in her crystal-blue eyes. She didn't say anything, but it seemed to Isaac that she was waiting for his reaction to her gesture, waiting for him to tell her whether or not what she was doing was okay.
And suddenly Isaac realized that he was not the only one nervous about this new relationship.
Strangely, though, that knowledge seemed to comfort him. Had she not been nervous, had she been confident and appeared to know exactly what she was doing, then it probably would have made things worse, probably would have made him more afraid of breaking some unwritten rule he didn't know about. But to see that look in her eyes, to know that she was probably just as nervous as he was... it made a little of the uncertainty melt away. She couldn't get too upset with him for doing something wrong, not when she was doubtlessly afraid of doing the very same thing.
With that thought he smiled back at her, wordlessly telling her that it was all right. In response she smiled a little wider, her eyes filled with a rainbow of affectionate feelings as she moved her other arm and gently clasped his hand in both of hers. It was such a simple gesture, nothing compared to the kisses they had shared last night, and yet it filled Isaac with so much of the very same warmth and tingling feelings of joy that it surprised him. And as he stared at her there, at her crystal-blue eyes that sparkled with happiness, and at that beautiful smile of hers that said so much more than any words ever could... he couldn't help but feel that first powerful impulse to kiss her slowly diminishing. Not because he didn't want to kiss her, but because he realized he didn't need to. Sol, just seeing her smile like that was enough to bring back all the happiness he had felt last night and more.
However... it still wasn't enough to extinguish that tiny flicker of nervousness within him, still didn't answer the one question that lay in the back of his mind. There was only one way he could do that, he knew, and that was to ask her directly. And as vague and silly as the question sounded in his head, he knew he had to ask it, not just because he wanted to hear her answer, but because he had to know if there was even an answer at all.
Nevertheless, it was still a little embarrassing. Chuckling awkwardly, his eyes fell to the deck without his control. "So..." he began after a moment, very quietly, before looking up and meeting her eyes again, his cheeks slightly pink. "... What happens now?"
Mia, however, did not reply immediately. Instead, smiling all the while, she dropped her gaze to his outstretched hand, which she was still holding in both of hers. She stared at it for a moment, then slowly, gently started to caress the back of his hand with her thumb, a tender gesture that sent shivers down his spine. "... I don't know," she finally responded softly, shyly. "I've..." She looked up then, the faint blush on her face only making her appear all the more beautiful in Isaac's eyes. "I've never been in a relationship like this before."
It didn't answer his question, but Isaac still couldn't help but feel a little twirl of happiness as she said that. To know that he was the first boy she had ever fallen for, to know that she was willing to share this first experience with him and him alone... it filled him with a sense of joy and pride that he couldn't explain. "Really?" he whispered back, genuinely surprised.
Mia only smiled wider at that, a giggle escaping her as her blush deepened considerably. "Yeah..." she replied softly, her eyes on his hand again. Then, seeming to realize something, she looked up quickly. "That's... not a problem, though, right?" she asked. She seemed to know the answer already, but Isaac couldn't help but think that she looked just the slightest bit nervous.
"No, no, it's not a problem," he reassured her with a small chuckle, his free hand reaching up to sheepishly scratch the back of his neck as the nervous glint in Mia's eyes melted into one of relief. "I guess I'm just... kind of surprised, that's all."
"Surprised?" Mia asked, now with a somewhat playful look in her crystal-blue eyes, as though unable to tell if he was being serious or not. "Why's that?"
"Well..." The words were already on the tip of his tongue, but the playful look in her eyes made him hesitate for a fraction of a second. Yet he knew there was no reason for him to hesitate anymore, not after what had happened last night, not now that he knew how she felt about him. His cheeks reddening, he smiled at her almost shyly, and he whispered, completely honestly, "... You're an amazing girl, Mia."
In truth, he wanted to say more than just that. He wanted to tell her that he was positively astonished she had never had a boyfriend before, wanted to tell her that with her kindness and beauty it was a wonder she hadn't had the boys in Imil chasing after her for years. But he couldn't get any further, as the stunned look that appeared on her face as he said those words shocked him into silence, sending his brain into a sudden panic. Had he said something wrong? Why was she looking at him like that?
The fear lasted only for a moment, however, because a second later the stunned look on her face melted into a smile. It was small at first, but it grew quickly, and before he knew it she was smiling at him more warmly than she had ever done in the entire time that they had been traveling together. Her crystal-blue eyes sparkled with happiness as she stared back at him, seeming unable to think of anything to say. It reminded him of a certain conversation he had had with her outside the Suhalla, of that magical smile she had shown him when he had told her she was beautiful. And it filled his body with the very same happiness he had felt that day, filled his body with a warmth and love for her that rivaled even the sensations he had felt last night.
"Isaac..." Mia whispered after a moment, and as she said his name Isaac stopped thinking. She leaned forward just the slightest bit then, her eyelids fluttering, her head tilting slightly, but stopped, hesitating for a fraction of a second. It hardly mattered, however, as realizing what she was going to do, Isaac leaned forward just as she did again, and their lips met in a long kiss.
Yet it was not like the forceful kisses they had exchanged last night, full of the passion and pressure of the feelings they had kept bottled up inside for so long. The kiss they shared now was tender, soft, filled with nothing but affection. Her arms snaked up around his neck, and his arms encircled her waist, but there was no powerful feeling of desire that erupted from the contact, no wild urge to pull her close and press her body against his as there had been last night. Instead their bodies seemed to melt together, completing each other in such a way that made Isaac feel like the gods had designed them to do just that. And even though his eyes were closed, even though he couldn't see her face, somehow Isaac knew that Mia was feeling the exact same thing.
Those were the best kind of kisses, Isaac would later decide. The kind that didn't happen out of routine, but rather out of the pure love he and Mia held for each other. The kind that he never saw coming, and that swept him off his feet with surprise. The kind that involved no conscious thought whatsoever, but rather just happened out of some indescribable instinct that he knew he and Mia both had but that he could never fathom. Those were the kind that made him happiest, and the kind that made him realize again and again just how much he loved the shy, gentle healer from Imil.
Even when they finally drew apart, Isaac could still feel the euphoria coursing through him. And he knew Mia was feeling the same, because the smile on her face was filled with such happiness and affection—and it was all for him, he realized again, all for him—that it made him feel like his heart was going to burst.
Sol, she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
They stayed like that for some time, their arms still around each other, neither of them speaking, just smiling. They could have said those three little words to each other, could have kissed each other again, but what need was there for words, or even for actions? The only thing Isaac truly cared about at that moment was the fact that Mia was there, with him, in his arms. Everything else—Garet and Ivan, their quest, even the very world around them... it all just seemed so irrelevant with her there.
But eventually, of course, their blissful moment had to come to an end. It was Mia who finally broke the silence, smiling a little wider as she reached forward and tucked a stray piece of blond hair behind his ear. "You know..." she whispered, her cheeks reddening slightly, "... You're a pretty amazing person yourself."
Those simple words struck Isaac speechless—Mia had never complimented him like that before. "I-I... you really think so?" he managed to stammer out lamely, though he continued to smile.
At that Mia let out a short little laugh, her crystal-blue eyes twinkling. "Oh, Isaac," she began, "you are so—"
But how Mia was going to complete her sentence, Isaac would never find out, for at that moment a voice suddenly spoke up from beside him, one of the very last voices he had wanted to hear this morning.
"We-e-ell, what have we here?" It was Ivan, his words practically dripping with smugness.
Isaac and Mia both started at the sudden intrusion, their happy daze shattered in an instant. Reluctantly, both of them flushing red, they turned their heads to where Ivan's voice had come from, their arms still around each other. They found both Garet and the Jupiter Adept staring back at them, both of them with their arms crossed over their chests and smug grins on their faces that would have put Saturos and Menardi to shame. "It's about damned time!" Garet declared triumphantly as Isaac's eyes met his. "We were starting to think you two would never get together!"
Strangely, though, despite his embarrassment, Isaac didn't feel any impulse to look away from his friends' smug expressions, or even to disengage his arms from around Mia's waist. True, he probably could have chosen a better time for Garet and Ivan to show up, but deep down he had known a confrontation like this was coming all morning. He let go of Mia then, but it was only to get a better look at his friends, not because he truly wanted to. "Hey guys," he replied softly, smiling faintly, abashedly.
Scarcely had the words left his mouth when Garet spoke up again. "Okay, tell me now," he commanded, a huge, mischievous grin on his face. "How long have you been hiding this from us?"
"Garet..." Mia's voice held a tone of slight exasperation, and when Isaac turned to look at her he found her blushing, but she was smiling faintly as well, seemingly having foreseen this interrogation as much as he had. Nevertheless, she wasn't about to just let Garet and Ivan have their fun. "Is this really the time for—"
"You're damn right it's the time!" Garet cut her off, still grinning widely. "Me and Ivan have been waiting for this for three months—I think we have the right to know how this happened without either of us noticing!"
"Garet, come on," Isaac pleaded, his faint smile fading. Truthfully, a small part of him wanted to tell Garet and Ivan every detail of what had happened last night, but it didn't really seem like the right moment to do so—especially since Mia was still right next to him. "Can't we talk about this some other time?"
"Oh no," Garet unsurprisingly replied, his expression smug again. "You're not getting out of this one that—"
"Garet, wait," Ivan suddenly spoke up, surprising the other three Adepts. When Garet turned to look at him, he explained, "He does kind of have a point."
Garet raised an eyebrow incredulously at that, and Isaac couldn't blame him—he was just as surprised by Ivan's words as his friend was. "He does?" he asked.
"Well, yeah," Ivan replied. He paused for a moment, and relief settled in Isaac's heart for an instant before the Jupiter Adept turned to him and Mia, his expression slowly melting into a rather suggestive grin. "I mean, we did interrupt their, ah... private moment."
Isaac blushed horribly at that, but managed to keep his composure. "Ivan, no," he said firmly, frowning. "It's not like th—"
"No no, you don't have to explain, I understand," Ivan interrupted as he held up a hand to silence him, his expression not changing in the slightest. He turned to Garet, who now had an identical grin plastered across his face. "Come on, Garet," he said, nodding his head towards Isaac and Mia. "Let's give these two some time alone."
"Ivan..." Isaac protested again, but the Jupiter Adept appeared not to have heard him. Instead, he and Garet simply turned and made their way back below decks, leaving the other two Adepts behind. For a long moment, Isaac stared at the doorway his friends had gone through, frowning. Then, finally, he let out a sigh, shaking his head. Was that really what Ivan and Garet thought about them? He and Mia had only found out their feelings for each other last night, it wasn't like they were immediately going to...
When he turned to look at Mia, however, he was surprised to find her grinning amusedly at him. At the sight he couldn't help but smile back faintly, even though he had no idea what she was grinning about. "What's so funny?" he asked.
She chuckled slightly at that, her grin widening. "Oh, come on," she responded, stepping towards him. "You can't tell me you didn't see that one coming."
Isaac rolled his eyes, letting out another exasperated sigh. "Yeah, I guess," he replied as Mia reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck, seemingly without even thinking. In response he placed his arms around her waist again, her actions all the encouragement he would ever need. "Do you think they knew this was going to happen, though?" he asked, his face a faint pink. "... They did say they were waiting for us to get together."
Mia blushed faintly at that as well, her gaze falling slightly. "... I think they knew," she quietly replied after a moment, before looking up at him, a shy but nevertheless fond smile on her face. "I mean..." She blushed deeper. "To be honest... I fell for you a long time ago."
Another little burst of happiness flew through his body as she said those words. "Well..." he whispered back, smiling warmly at her, "what do we do now? I mean..." He knew it was silly to be nervous about this, but he still couldn't help his eyes falling to the deck for an instant before returning to her eyes. "... I've never been in a relationship like this before, either."
Yet his words only appeared to make Mia happier, her small, shy smile widening. She stared at him for a moment, seeming to think about how to answer his question, and then suddenly, for seemingly no reason at all, she leaned forward and placed a light, chaste kiss on his lips. When she pulled back her face was a brilliant red, but her smile never once wavered. "I guess we'll just have to figure it out ourselves, then," she replied, very quietly.
"Yeah..." Isaac softly responded, his head still spinning from her kiss. "... I guess we will."
She was right, of course. She was always right. Why, he wondered, was he even so worried about the future in the first place? What would happen between him and Mia in the days to come, he didn't know, but no matter what happened... she would be there, by his side. She had always been there, a person to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, a source of light and warmth when everything else seemed dark. And she would be there as they moved forward, helping him and guiding him through this new situation that neither of them understood, just as he would be there to help her. Perhaps he and Mia had never been in a relationship before... but they would figure it out, together. He knew they would.
"But as for now..." Isaac added after a few moments, suddenly grinning mischievously. "What was that you were saying before? Something about me being an amazing person?"
She laughed, her crystal-blue eyes twinkling. "And so modest, too," she remarked playfully, before leaning forward and capturing him in another long kiss.
Relationships, as amazing as they can be, can sometimes also be rather nerve-wracking things, especially at first. At least for me, there's always a strange sense of caution when a relationship begins, a desire to not do anything rash, to keep hold of this new and wonderful thing that has just come into your life. I tried to show this with Isaac's faint nervousness in this chapter, and I hope I did a good job. Let me know what you think.
To be honest, I also wanted to do things from Mia's perspective as well, to show the feelings that she has been going through after the events of the last chapter. But when I started to write that, I realized that pretty much everything I had to say about her was more or less redundant, considering that she and Isaac are basically feeling the same thing. There's only so many ways you can say a person is happy before it starts to drag on, after all. Instead I tried to have her feelings come out in her actions this chapter, and to show her emotions without needing to get inside her head. I hope you guys won't mind too much, but as always, let me know in your reviews.
But yeah... it's done. It's taken 16 chapters, 85,000 words, and nearly two years, but The Angel and the Slayer is finally complete. I've definitely enjoyed the ride, and I hope you have too, but I've got to say it feels pretty damn good to finally have this story over and done with. The task of finishing this story has been hanging over my head for quite awhile now, and it's nice to finally be able to move on to other things.
So like Isaac, I suppose you all must now be wondering: what happens now? Where do I go, now that the story that has taken over my writing career for the past twenty-two months is at an end? Well, the answer is, I really don't know. My main problem now, as I'm sure you've all noticed, is that my update rate has basically gone down the drain with the past few chapters. And though I've really been trying not to admit it to myself, the fact remains that I really don't have as much time to write as I used to. There's just so much happening in my life now, with school, and friends, and jobs, and love, and so much other stuff, that it's become very difficult for me to write on a regular basis. Hell, even setting a deadline for myself ended up blowing up in my face. I just have that much stuff to worry about.
But does that mean I'm going to stop writing now? Hell no! Writing's a part of who I am, and I'm not going to give it up anytime soon. But the first thing I need to do, I think, is take a nice, long break from writing fanfiction. Rest assured, I will be back! But I need to make sure the rest of my life is in order before I start to write again, and I hope that's something you guys understand.
Nevertheless, during this break, I don't want to lose contact with you guys who have stuck by and kept with this story for such a long time. So while I may not be writing actively, feel free to talk to me through PM, or instant messenger, or hell, you can even Facebook friend me if you want (PM me for the link to that). And as always, until next time...