I think a lot of people thought the last chapter was the ending...well, it was, officially, but... even this isn't going to be the last word in, there's still gonna be like one more thing for the reviewers, since, y'know, this thing took me like two years almost. damn.

My baby's all grown up now :(

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"I think one of the biggest things you can never forget is that people will surprise you, always. The reasons that you should remember that will vary, just like the ways that people will surprise you will vary. It might be important so you don't feel quite as shocked when someone does something bad that you wouldn't expect, or it might be important so you remember that a good outcome from someone is always possible. And always expect new things from yourself, you don't want anything you do to be limited.

"Another big thing is, don't try to understand everything. You can spend so much time thinking about the world and analyzing your life experiences, and you'll still end up a little confused, somewhere that's uncharted at some point. But that's okay. Whatever you've learned, you'll know how to apply it in those situations, trying to figure out what you've learned up until them only confirms it."

The way things all came to an end, it wasn't pretty, and it definately wasn't expected. But it was one of those things that, even though no one wanted to admit it out loud or even to themselves, it was probably for the best--for everyone involved. We had to hide Tohru after the incident--she wanted to turn herself in whenever the police came, but as far as they know, she wasn't involved in any of it. I had to admit that Shigure was relatively smart about all of it. The story he gave all of us, including Kureno, to tell was that we had all gathered to have an intervention for Akito (at four in the morning, because we knew it would be too easy for her to get away if she even remotely expected we were coming) because we were concerned about her odd behavior that we beleived had been a sign of mental illness; She got very upset, and began attacking Yuki and Kakeru, which explained any signs of injury on her, as there was proof with the bruises on me that it happened; When Shigure tried to intervene, she of course pulled out a gun and threatened him (completely by surprise, holding it up to his head, which would explain the slightest bits of his DNA on it) but then shot herself. And Hatori, having been her doctor for over a decade, backed up the accusations of her mentally ill symptoms and her refusal to take any sort of sedative or medication. And not that there's anything wrong with being transexual in reality, but to the police, they took it as another sign of mental confusion. And, of course, Shigure called the police himself and Kureno notified other members of the family right away. None of the Sohmas cried murder, because frankly, we all knew Akito was on the edge. It's a case-closed kind of thing, legally, and for the family; I don't think anyone would dare to bring it up now--No one's interested in reviving such a dreadful curse, and what would be the point in sucking up to a ghost? As far as the Sohma goes, it's not such a bad family anymore. With the curse gone, there's only traces of cult-like behavior left, and a lot of the family moved off of the estate. Without Akito alive, everyone that went along with her rash behavior felt pretty ashamed. Rumor has it, Ren might sell the place to be turned into a parking lot, which would be fine by me.

Tohru was totally distressed for a while. She forced herself to school everyday so she would graduate just fine, but she was nowhere near her usual self. And, of course, she couldn't even talk to Uotani or Hanajima about it. It was bad, really bad.

But a funny thing happened. A couple days before graduation, me and Kyo and Shigure sat down to talk about it. Kyo was distressed because she was distressed, of course. I felt horribly bad for her, and even Shigure admitted that he missed her old self. Though, we had told her over and over that it wasn't her fault, any of us would have done the same, Kakeru would be dead if she hadn't, that she had actually saved Kakeru, ect. But, for her, it kept coming back down to the basic elements of the situation: Of course, she had the weight of a person's life on her shoulders, but I think it was more than that for her--she had played God. She weighed Kakeru's life against Akito's, and she decided that Kakeru would live and Akito would die. I think it hurt her because it proved wrong what she had thought she had known about herself; She had thought she was everyone's friend, that she passed no judgement, that she treated everyone equally. And this proved to her that she did pass judgement when it came right down to things. She had to, you know, she was human. Anyway, after we talked for sometime, Shigure said he thought it would be best to see if Hatori would do a memory suppression, which he probably would. I initially argued that she might go insane if she had that dwelling, pushed back in her subconious, and Kyo argued that she would definately go insane the way she was already. Ultimately, I gave, and Shigure said he would call Hatori the following morning. So, he did, and while he was on the phone, Tohru stumbled out down the stairs, looking tired and sad still, but she heard him talking and told him, "I don't want my memories erased; Remembering is too imporant." Of course, Hatori wouldn't do it without her consent, so the whole thing was called off. At first, we were all skeptical. I vaguely suspected that it was a guilt thing--like, she didn't think she deserved to run away from her torment. But, the days went by, and even though at first it was slight, she seemed kind of okay by graduation. At least for that day, she was kind of cheerful and she smiled and kissed Kyo in pictures and threw her hat up and everything. And whenever me and Kakeru came down to visit a few months later, she was just almost back to her old self.

Things were weird for me and Kakeru, too. Kakeru spent the next few days acting a bit somber, and who could blame him? Having a near-death experience really shakes a person to the core. But, ultimately, he said it just made him appreciate being alive a lot more. It had me freaked out for a while, though. It was really...I don't even know how to explain it. Basically, I had realized that someone I loved could be so easily whisked away when the knife was at his throat, and then the potential threat was eliminated immediately afterwards. It took some time to sort out. We spent a lot of the week before graduation alone together, a lot of the time just holding eachother or something.

The scene replayed over and over in my head, I had more than a few nightmares about it; Akito was about to kill Kakeru, the gun shot sounded, Akito turned her head slightly, Akito was shot before she could even do anything else, and Akito's body fell to the ground as a pool of blood would gather around her head. I guess the nightmares actually helped, as weird as it sounds; Like, I saw it in my head so many times that it finally didn't scare me anymore. Of course, it was deeper than I think I could even explain it. Akito was "God" to me, to all of us, for so long. I didn't watch Akito die while I had the curse, though. No, it was simpler than that. As soon as Akito died, the curse died with her. I don't think I can explain, as hard as I've tried, the way that it moved me, because I don't fully comprehend it myself. I just know that a part of me died as well, and I could almost physically feel it leaving me.

And, of course, all of us were pretty shaken after watching someone die like that. Therapy and such was out of the quesiton, because that would involve confessing to involvement in a murder case, and there are certain things that a therapist is legally bound to tell if they hear them, and the psychological damage from watching a suicide is a lot different from watching what we did. And I don't think anyone really wanted to go to therapy anyway; It would just be a bunch of stupid textbook answers, which totally undermines the complexity of the situation, or any given situation really. And, of course, it was deeper. Even though their curses had already broken, Kyo and Shigure both said that it still kind of had the effect on them of "God" dying. And Kureno...it was odd, but when Akito died, he just...he sat there and smiled. And I was glad that he did, because he was the only one that could, because...

It was over.

Me and Kyo actually sat down to talk about everything a few times before. I wouldn't call us friends, but we don't have many qualms with eachother anymore. He said that even though he didn't know Kakeru, he was happy that he was the one who lived.

So, graduation wasn't as amazing as it could have been, but I wasn't expecting my life to suddenly be amazing all in that one moment anyway (even though I kind of was, I knew that was a pretty unrealistic thing to expect). But it was okay. There was a party afterwards, and I have to admit, I got pretty wasted for the first time in my life; I remember me and Kakeru went to one of the "spare rooms", and that awful girl with the pigtails walked in on us, sputtering garbage about Prince Yuki, and how could it be, and blahblahblah...I wasn't really in tune enough to give a shit about a girl who interupted me and my boyfriend to yell at us.

Everyone in the family moved onto various aspirations. Kyo and Tohru moved to Tokyo. Kyo started teaching at some prestigious dojo, and Tohru, despite what she had always said about only finishing high school, decided to go to a Culinary Arts School. She still works as hard at a minimum wage job as she did before, but she had quite a bit of money saved up from all the work in high school, and she's been doing quite well at from what I hear. Ayame expanded his clothing line, and while he's not exactly a well-known designer, a few ridiculously pricey stores carry his clothes, which is pretty cool, and Mai's gone everywhere he has. Momijji went to Germany on a foreign exchange program for the remainder of the school year, said he wanted to get in touch with his roots. Rin enrolled in a community college for the next two years, but she says she's just getting all the boring classes out of the way so she'll have more room in her schedule if she gets accepted into an art school. Haru dropped out of High School, which, of course, disappointed everybody at first, but he set off to travel with some friends who owned a van, and he seems happy when we see him. From what he's said, they're making honest money to fund it all, at least. Of course, Rin was incredibly pissed about it, but she agreed to go have some fun with them when the summer comes around. Shigure stopped using pen-names for all his novels, and let his identity be known, causing something of an Ann Rice epidemic; He started going to book-signings and such, relatively in high demand.

It's been about half a year now, since we all graduated and everything. Me and Kakeru decided to move to a bigger city, and durr, move in together. We both decided to go to college, but not the same one. I'm really not sure what it is he's trying to do with his life, but he's getting good grades at his artsy school, and I know whatever it is, he'll put everything he has into it. I think I'm aspiring to be a teacher, but I'm not totally sure either. Machi and Nao actually live pretty close by, and we're sharing the rent/apartment with some college girls that are pretty cool, albeit asking me about things like shoes and drapes that I know nothing about all the time... But college is really cool. Me and Kakeru don't have to always be hiding, or hiding at all really, and it's a hell of a lot better than High School.

I'm not trying to claim that people who go through heaps of misfortune are going to ever see nothing but sunshine if they pull through, because that's simply not true, but I do know that if you just hang in there, you'll be okay. The kind of happiness that comes about in real life is just having things be pretty okay all around, but it's better than it sounds. Even through all the horrible things and hardships, life is amazing. Even those horrible things are amazing, in a weird, twisted way.

The kind of happiness that you find in real life, and that I've found, is just knowing that even if things that got good get bad again, they'll get good again, and it'll all even out.

It's not like you can snap your fingers and have all your problems go away. I still have nightmares sometimes, but Kakeru's always there to wake me up. On the flip side, I still see scratches on Kakeru's arm from time to time, but I always remind him that at least we got the ball rolling, and it's going to be okay. As far as family goes, I talk to a few select members, and am pretty indifferent about the rest of them. Kakeru and Machi don't talk to their dad anymore, for obvious reasons, and he talks to his mom from time to time, but it always sounds pretty awkward. At least they speak, though.

The kind of happiness you find in real life is knowing that at least a few of the loose ends have been tied up.

Oh, and it turns out Daddy dearest was a repeat offender. That poor Mikio kid had gone through much worse with him than I had, for about three years, but he finally told his parents and they took him to court on it. Of course, Mikio won with all the physical evidence there was on both of them, and I testified for his case, which means that he only got in trouble for Mikio, but I still helped I guess. And trashed his all-mighty reputation since it's apparent now that he's an incestuous rapist. But, apparently I was luckier, there was about a handful of pre-teens that had worse stories of the same man, male and female, inside and outside the Sohma. The guy was a freak.

The only thing I really have to say about everything that's happened in my life is that a lot of it has been horrible, but I've gotten over it pretty much. It's impossible to say that things like that don't affect you, but it's amazing to say that they're not holding you back anymore. I mean, at this point, my life is pretty normal, even a little better than normal.

In the end, all you can really do is count your losses, but count your wins, too, and don't give up on finding all the beautiful things in life, because they'll spring up on you when you least expect it, and never pass up a chance for new beginnings.

FIN