The Stranger

This is the final chapter. I'm so grateful to everyone for your support!

Chapter 10: Home

Inosuke's cold laugh filled the room, entering every crevice, and filling the ears of those in the room with chilling desire. "I guess he wasn't as great as he thought he was." Sun Ce laid Zhou Yu's body carefully on the floor and stood up carefully due to the wound in his abdomen. He grasped his tonfa in his hands and stepped around his fallen friend.

"You've caused a lot of pain." Sun Ce growled, glaring at the Lord with furious hazel eyes that blazed with a fire that could only come from the son of Sun Jian. "And you've killed a lot of people to get what you want."

Inosuke grinned, "But isn't that how we're so much alike?" He stepped forward with a half smirk on his face. "You're goal is to unite China, and mine is to unite the entire world. You've killed for your goal, and so have I. The only difference is that I am stronger. I have decades of experience, and you have hardly any. I am the dragon, and you are the mouse." Inosuke raised his sword. "And that is why, even if you live here, I will surely kill you quickly. So go back to China and conquer it. I will be there the next day to kill you."

Sun Ce scoffed, raising his tonfa, "Sorry old man. Your life ends here." He started towards the old man, "Don't ever make the mistake, of thinking that we are alike at all!" Inosuke stabbed at Sun Ce, but the little conqueror dodged and sent a roundhouse kick at the lord's head. "I never slaughtered innocent people! And I never will!" Inosuke stumbled backwards from the sheer power of the blow. "And NEVER make the mistake of calling me a mouse!" Sun Ce used his momentum to land blow after blow on Inosuke from his Tonfa. "I am the son of a Tiger!" Sun Ce hissed in Inosuke's ear. "And a Tiger is what I will always be!" He flipped out a knife and slashed the old man's jugular artery, spouting blood all over the floor.

Inosuke screeched fumbling to stop the bleeding before it killed him. "Damn wretch! Damn fool!" The old man wallowed, screaming in pain as Sun Ce grabbed the ancients sword from where it lay on the ground and slashed off Inosuke's arms. The little conqueror grasped Inosuke by the shirt collar and lifted him off the ground.

"So, before you die, I need an antidote for my friend." Sun Ce growled in the sobbing man's face.

"There isn't one! Only my wife knows the cure!" Inosuke sobbed, tears wallowing down his chin and soaking in with the blood dripping down his neck. Sun Ce scowled, slicing off the mans head and dropping the body to the floor. He looked at Zhou Yu's still form and dropped the weapon to the ground, bangs falling over his eyes as his shoulders shook from unheard sobs.

The woman shushed her baby as it sobbed, quietly kneeling next to Zhou Yu and feeling for a pulse. "He's alive," Her hushed voice explained, and she slipped a vial out of her kimono. Sun Ce looked at her with wide hazel eyes. "Inosuke forced me to create the poison that filled the air, so I created an antidote without his knowledge. It will take a while for it to counteract the poison, but it will save his life." She explained, opening Zhou Yu's mouth and forcing the potion down by rubbing his throat gently. "I've saved his life a few times already, so I know how much trouble he gets into." She smiled, unwrapping her oni and slipping out of her kimono so that only her yukata and silk slip were worn. She carefully took out the knife lodged in Zhou Yu's eye, along with the eye itself, and stripped the kimono, wrapping the silk around the eye to stop the bleeding.

Sun Ce knelt next to her, watching in fascination as she saved his best friends life. "What's your name?" He asked, helping her strip cloth.

She smiled, mind focused on her work. "Uokami Keiko," she stood, holding her child in her arms. "We must leave before your fire kills us. Carry your friend, we must run to the doctors to save you and your friend."

One month later, port

"So, you are leaving?" Keiko asked, looking at the two men in front of her, holding her child to her chest. "Japan will miss you. As will the Empress herself." Free of brothel life, Keiko was helping out the doctor she had taken them to, evidently the same one that had helped Zhou Yu with his wounds all those years ago.

Sun Ce laughed, "Yeah, I get the feeling that we've lingered way to long here. Even though Zhou Yu wasn't in the mood for travel." Sun Ce lifted his bag to his shoulder and looked over as Zhou Yu returned from the ship.

The dark haired man was rubbing his left shoulder with a scowl on his face. Spotting Keiko his gaze softened and he let his arm drop to his side. "It's been a whole month, but I'm still not used to being unable to see from my left eye."

Sun Ce perked up, "You know who you remind me of?" Sun Ce scrutinized his friends black eye patch for a moment. "Xiahou Dun."

Zhou Yu scowled, "Give it a rest Sun Ce!" He almost yelled, temper getting the best of him. I'm getting rather tired of that joke! Come up with something better!"

Keiko laughed, clutching the child close. "Japan's hero's, fighting with each other? Now we can't have that! You must act honorable! You have the official grace of the Empress now, you know!"

Zhou Yu and Sun Ce both smiled at her, "Yeah, we know." Sun Ce said softly. "Thanks for everything."

"You've saved my life so many times," Zhou Yu smiled, "I am indebted to you." He stepped on the boarding planks and waved farewell, almost toppling over the left side as he stumbled but caught himself.

Sun Ce laughed at his sworn brothers newfound clumsiness and flashed Keiko the smile that convinced anyone and everyone to love him. "Hey, as soon as I conquer China, I'll come visit again, with my family, of course. You and Da would make great friends I think. And Shang Xiang is always happy to see a new place."

Keiko nodded, "I'll be waiting for it then. Just make sure you keep Zhou Yu out of trouble without me. And when you come, bring him along."

Sun Ce laughed, "Well duh! He is family after all!"

one month later, Jiang Ye

Sun Ce and Zhou Yu dismounted their respectful steeds and gazed at the palace in front of them. "Man I've missed this place." Sun Ce murmured, stretching his arms skyward. "Its great to be home, don't you think, Yu?"

Zhou Yu flipped his long dark hair out of his eye and took a deep breath, "Yes, I'd say it is." They stepped into the entrance hall and brushed off their cloaks. Sun Quan's voice could be heard through the door, followed closely by Shang Xiang's own voice, raised in anger.

Sun Ce smirked, "Well, this is what I get for coming back unannounced." He threw open the doors the inner chamber with a flourish. "Hey! What's the point of a sibling argument without me?!" He shouted, getting speechless and dumbfound stares from the people in the room.

Shang Xiang shook her head and jogged to her brother, wrapping her arms around him. "Thank god you're back Ce!" Her voice wavered, close to tears. "Quan wants to marry me to Liu Bei!"

Sun Ce raised a bemused eye to Sun Quan, who folded his arms over his chest and gained a stubborn look on his face. "Alright Quan, spill it. Why do you want to marry your sister off without my say?"

Sun Quan frowned, "You left brother, and I am trying to do what I think is best for Wu. The thing is, if we don't ally with Liu Bei, Cao Cao will wipe us off the map."

Sun Ce opened his mouth to argue, but Zhou Yu stepped out of the shadows and quickly crossed the room to look at the map on the table. "These are the kingdom borders?" He muttered quickly engrossed in work.

The younger Sun siblings stared in shock at the dark haired man already pouring over the maps. "Ce, is that Zhou Yu?" Shang Xiang whispered in shock, green eyes widening in astonishment. "What happened to him? Did he get his memories back? How did he lose his eye?"

"Yeah Shang, that's Yu, but we've gotta save the story for him. It's not mine to tell."

Sun Quan smiled, "Its Zhou Yu! Great! Now we can find the best strategy!"

Zhou Yu lifted his head, brushing hair out of his eye, "Well Sun Quan, it is a good strategy, however, we must not use it just yet." He got to his feet looking at the Sun Jian's children. "We must wait for the opportune moment. When we ally with Liu Bei, it will not be us who asks but Liu Bei himself. At the moment we should concentrate on small regional lords and securing our own borders and army."

Sun Shang Xiang frowned, "So, I cannot marry whom I like?"

Zhou Yu frowned, shaking his head gravely, "I am afraid that is a luxury which always seems to allude the princess. Instead of marrying for love, you will marry for duty and your love for your family. I've heard however, that Liu Bei is a virtuous man who will treat you correctly."

Shang Xiang made a face at Zhou Yu, "But he's so old!"

Sun Ce laughed heartedly, "Don't worry Shang Xiang, I wont let Zhou Yu marry you to some heartless person! Once I've met this Liu Bei I'll decide what I should do! Not a moment before."

"It's better than Cao Cao, my lord." Zhou Yu murmured, making Sun Ce flinch.

Spinning back to face his friend Sun Ce scowled and poked an accusing finger at his friend. "I told you NOT to call me that Yu!"

Shang Xiang smiled brightly, "Well, you know, now that everyone has returned, I think it's high time to hold a banquet to celebrate the return of our two commanders. Its time for everyone to drink and be merry, just like we HAVEN'T been for years."

Zhou Yu looked at his sworn brothers sister with a surprised look. "Sun Shang Xiang, you have grown up!"

She glared at him and put a hand on her hip, "Well you've been gone a long time. I know that Xiao has missed you to pieces! So go see her already! I think I saw her in the garden." She glared at Sun Ce, "And you mister conqueror-play-hookie have a date with your own wife and country!"

xXx

Zhou Yu entered the peaceful gardens with a sigh, looking at the familiar area with a pleased smile. Settling himself under a tree, he withdrew his flute and started playing the familiar tune. A breeze picked up, lightly showering the ground with leaves.

"Yu."

The voice twisted through the garden like water from a mountain stream. He stopped playing and looked up spotting her almost immediately. Xiao Qiao's red and orange dress fluttered in the breeze and her long pony tail played in the air.

"Xiao." His breath caught in his throat, "You look exactly like you did long ago...on the night we first met."

Xiao's eyes welled up with tears, "Shang Xiang told me you had come back...I just had to make sure it was you." She stepped towards him carefully, as though he were a vision that disappeared. "You were playing that song the first time we met!" Soon she was running towards him, and burying her face in his white shirt. "I thought you were gone for good!" She sobbed, lying against his warm body. Wrapping his arms around her waist he smiled tenderly at her.

"My disappearance forced you to grow up so fast Xiao...I am so sorry, little flower."

"You promised you'd never leave me, but you left..." Xiao muttered, voice filled with childish defiance.

"I know...I apologize, I never expected it to happen." She raised her large brown eyes to look at him.

"Don't ever leave me for so long again Zhou Yu." She raised and delicate hand and touched his eye patch. "I knew you were in danger without me by your side." She said, tears scattered across her cheeks. "From now on, I'm staying by you. No matter what."

Zhou Yu cocked his head slightly, "Oh really? That does sound rather familiar..."

Xiao scowled, "Well this time I mean it! Look at the damage that happened because you ran off without me! I'm never going to let that happen again, okay?"

He tightened his hold on her and lowered his head until he caught her lips in his own, feeling the breeze and the slight brushing of the leaves around them. When he released her and opened his eye he smiled, "Okay."

END

Wow! I finished it! -stunned silence- Anyway, I hope you all like it! Please enjoy, I tried my best on this chapter! I hope this could answer any questions you had, and remember, this was an AU story.

I hope you all enjoyed this story, and I'm sorry if I did not meet your expectations! I'm not sure if I'm going to make a one shot sequel to this or not, I guess you guys will just have to wait and see! Of course, if you tell me what you'd like I'd be happy to help!

Special thanks to everyone who has reviewed and has, or will, take the time to read this! Its been so much fun!