Well, once again I fell victim to an anime binge and watched way too much (i.e. the whole thing) of Shakugan no Shana, a wopping 50-some episodes. And I, I suspect, like many others, was mildly – mildly – dissatisfied with the ending. Some additional closure is always a good thing. So, with Lost My Music as my inspiration (since the character design for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Shakugan no Shana was the same), I brashly give you the unofficial episode 25, slightly based on the latest light novel of which some loving fan has posted scant info on Wikipedia (no. 16; the latest one is actually 19, but no one wants to take the time to A. read some of it, and B. put up a brief synopsis). Initially, this will be massively angsty, but I'm doin' my best here because frankly I really think this should've been more than just hinted at.

The short of it is: I really liked the show! This can be easily classified as 'epic random', but frankly that's what I do best! Read on, ye seeker of fluff incarnate!

Episode 25: Crimson Love

Yuji stood on the snow-encrusted bridge, two love letters firmly gripped in hand.

"Of all problems to have," he thought sadly. "Most guys would kill to have this dilemma, but I guess I have to play the hand I've been dealt."

He stared at his "hand": two love letters.

One was from a girl he had met last year: Yoshida Kazumi. She was adorable and sweet, with short brown hair down about her neck and warm eyes that brimmed with a timid kindness. For awhile now, it seemed that she had harbored a deep affection for Sakai Yuji, though only now had he come to realize it.

...Meet me at the South Entrance...

The other was from Yukari Hirai, though that was only the persona she'd assumed to make it easier to watch over Yuji. Those close to her – Yuji, Kazumi, Wilhenmina, Chigusa, and even Alastor – all call her by the name Yuji gave her: Shana, after her fiery blade Nieteno no Shana. With long, dark hair and deep green eyes, she was certainly a fiery one. However, to Yuji she was more than just the class heroine or a good friend. She was someone for whom he had a deep desire to protect, one who had actually told him that she loved him before she attempted a summoning of a god that should have cost her her life. Passionate about her life as a Flame Haze, a keeper of the world's balance, and the art of delicious melon bread, she was apparently just as passionate about her feelings for Yuji.

...I will be waiting at the North entrance...

He sighed as the people passed him on the bridge spanning the canal that ran through the city, then nodded to himself. I have to choose; no, I chose a long time ago. I just didn't want to admit it to myself, but no matter what I have to look ahead and be honest with you I am. I have to act like I am Sakai Yuji!

Smiling softly, he walked towards the preordained meeting area, the town square and center to the city-wide Christmas decoration.

Yoshida Kazumi observed the people gathered around the Christmas trees from the South entrance, though her attention was mostly focused on the East entrance, the entrance to the square that Yuji-kun was most likely to come from, as it was closest to his house. She fingered the mistletoe ornament in her hair nervously and smoothed out her nicest (and warmest, fortunately) coat, her thoughts in a jumble.

It's finally done, and there's nothing I can do. Maybe this was inevitable, that the decision be left entirely to Yuji-kun. Maybe Shana-chan was right, those months ago... she thought determinedly. After all, it's only fair, since no matter what Shana-chan and I feel for Yuji-kun, it would be rude and selfish of us to not consider Yuji-kun's feelings! No matter what, I'll still be...

Kazumi stopped her line of thought there. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't finish it.

Then something caught her eye, and soon had her full attention. It was Yuji! He was here, and he was scanning the square! Left, right, left,...

His eyes met hers, and for a split-second he looked away. Then his eyes were back, big and blue against his brown hair, an uncommon combination. Then he mouthed one word:


And then his eyes were gone, and he was walking.

Walking towards the North entrance.

Shock filled her. No matter how much she tried to tell herself, she did not in the least expect this to happen. After all the time she spent with him... after all the things they had shared...

It was too much to bear. The tears came, just like she knew they would, and she ran for home. Though she never wanted it, deep down she knew what would happen. Maybe, after a time, she could accept that she tried and gave it her all, and that it was not meant to be.

Shana waited by the North entrance. Every fiber in her body was tingling, and every nerve was on edge. Despite the cold, (and perhaps coincidentally as the Shakugan) she felt as if she was going to burn up.

Yuji... please come over here... I need to tell you, unaffected by imminent danger and any other influence, exactly how I feel about you...

She looked up at the sky, hugging her pink snow-coat closer to herself, her fingers brushing against the soft cotton scarf and cuffs. Wilhenmina was truly a sorceress; with needle and thread in hand, any thing at hand became a masterpiece of style, practical yet beautiful at the same time. She hoped Yuji would like it.

If he comes over here... she thought nervously. But he would come! He had to! He said so himself that he wanted to protect her above anyone else! So...

Then she saw him. Or rather, she sensed the bright flame that was his essentially undying existence. She looked over excitedly, and her heart fell.

After scanning the crowd and looking right past the North entrance, his eyes had settled on Kazumi. She watched as he stared at her and appeared to be saying something...

And then he was turning...

And he saw her...

A small smile on his face, she watched as he walked towards the North entrance, blue eyes meeting green, and his smile grew slightly.

She couldn't help it. Somewhere inside of her, stronger than any power or fire she had ever wielded, a warm glow was racing from her chest and spreading all over her body. Rather than making her feel uncomfortably hot, she felt like she was basking in the warm glow of the sun as a gentle breeze stirred the air around her. A light blush was gracing her cheeks, but she didn't care.

He was here.

And she had never been happier.

Yuji watched Shana as he walked over to where she was standing near the street corner at the North entrance. Her eyes widened in sheer unadulterated joy as they met his, and the smile that alighted herself on her face was easily the most beautiful thing he had ever seen her do.

Before he could react, she began to walk, leaving behind evenly spaced footprints in the snow behind her; however, the second he reached the corner of the sidewalk, Shana leapt the last few feet. Despite his surprise, he managed to get his arms out of his pockets in time to wrap them around as she folded neatly against him. Caught in the momentum, he spun slightly, imagining that they must make quite the cliche'd sight.

But he didn't care. He had made his decision, and despite the slight pang of sadness he felt for Kazumi the overwhelming joy that was filling him from head to toe was too great to ignore. He set her down gently, still clutching her tightly.

"Mmmf!" Shana yelled into his chest.

Yuji chuckled softly as he pulled her away slightly so he could hear her properly. "That was very expressive, but with minimal subject content. Shall you try again?" he teased.

Instead of telling him to shut up a few times like she normally would, she smiled even wider in a way that made Yuji nervous that she would split apart. She inhaled slightly; then, slowly and deliberately:

"I love you, Sakai Yuji. To me, you are the most important person in the world, and there is nothing in this world or the other that I would not give up to protect you," she said happily, eyes shining.

Yuji stared at her. Is this even possible? he wondered, to feel like this?

Shana stared at him, biting her lip. There! I said it! Now-

"Shana?" Yuji said softly. He cupped her cheek in his palm, and she leaned into it, eyes half-closed. He leaned forward and placed his forehead to hers.

"I love you, Shana, and I'll say it again: the one I want to protect is you. No one else matters to me the way you do."

She nodded, clenching her eyes tight.

Then she leaned back and kissed him. Hard.

Shocked, Yuji almost pulled away, but the feeling was too much, and he surrendered to the soft pull of the fiery lips that held his. They kissed for awhile, and when neither had any air left they pulled apart slightly, their breath mingling in the space between them.

"I thought you would never do it with me," Yuji said softly, after awhile. Shana pulled away angrily, a rebuke readily available, when she saw that he was smiling. Blushing, she looked away.

"I didn't think you knew what I meant," she mumbled, but Yuji laughed.

"I didn't; it only just now occurred to me," he replied, pulling her to his side with one arm and leading her back out of the square the way he came in.

She sighed and leaned against him as she walked, recalling something else she had said around that same time...

"Yuji and I are different! We don't rely on each other, but instead fight together! Each of us is there for the other!"...

How ironic that I thought that then, Shana mused, her smile threatening to break loose once more.

"So... what now? Does Alastor have anything he needs you to do soon?" Yuji asked tentatively. Shana looked up at him, smile back in force.

"Nope! You're stuck with me, Sakai Yuji, until the end of time itself," she said softly, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek.

Yuji smiled at that, stopping their walk and noticing vaguely that they were on the same bridge he had started out on.

"Nothing could have made me happier," he said sincerely. Then a thought occurred to him, and he grinned, grabbing Shana's hand.

"Follow me!" he said excitedly, turning and running back towards the suburban area where he lived.

Soon they arrived at the riverbed Shana had taken to him one warm summer evening months ago, though the river was frozen now. Now, Yuji led her here, and taking her hand he used it to point at the sky.

"Mite," "Look," was his soft command. She stared at the stars, and her breath was gone. The view she had remembered as being so beautiful was suddenly much more so.

Yuji wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, similar to the good ole' days when she used to jump and fly about the city, her own personal source of inspiration for the battle she fought.

Leaning back, she sighed contentedly. Tomorrow was Christmas day, and the day after that was another new day, and so was the day after that.

And she could spend each and every one of them with Yuji.

"Forever..." she whispered softly.

"Forever," Yuji agreed.

And together, they strode confidently ahead, never looking back.