LAST CHAPTER!! Woot. This challenge is officially done, and I feel a certain sense of relief, I suppose. I like the ending of this fic... it's a bit open and vague, but that just means that you get to imagine the rest, should you be so inclined!

A big thanks to everyone that has reviewed and/or read this fic. I appreciate it greatly XD

Disclaimer on profile.




These words played over and over in Davis's mind, jumbling up his thought process as he tried to wrest a fitful sleep in the dark of the night. He turned on his side, sighing once more and rubbing at his weary eyes tiredly. The alarm on his clock was bound to go off anytime soon, and he hadn't obtained a single wink of sleep all night, as if his body hadn't an inkling what the word "rest" meant.

It was rather frustrating.

Thus far, Davis hadn't been able to make sense of Kari's incomprehensible actions. After she'd fallen asleep on his couch, he had tried to catch some sleep as well, but that had been fruitless. Somewhere during the night though, she had woken up and slipped off silently without his knowledge, leaving him in complete bewilderment the next morning. He honestly hadn't expected her to run off like that, and therefore, the oppressive weight of puzzlement grew to appallingly extreme proportions.

She hadn't called; he hadn't the guts to pick up the phone. She hadn't visited; his feet wouldn't move whenever he thought about going over to her place. She hadn't even left a note, for heaven's sake! The only thing she had done successfully—besides confusing him—was fold up the blankets neatly and put them back on the couch in their respective places.

'Women,' Davis grumbled to himself. 'They're the most confusing and troublesome things of all.'

Davis didn't know how much more of this insanity he could take. His brain just couldn't handle all of this uncertainty and bafflement. It wasn't equipped for this type of hardship—he wanted some kind of answers, and he wanted them now. Screw waiting until Kari decided to show up on his doorstep to explain everything to him (preferably in a nice, neat pamphlet with legible bullet-points); he was going to get his answers whether she wanted to give them or not!

With that mindset, Davis trudged determinedly down the street, the gloomy atmosphere reflecting his sullen mood nicely. As he passed by the non-crowded beach, he slowed down a bit. It was only natural, really—the Dark Ocean had always been his place of refuge whenever he was feeling like this.

But today, he had something important to do. He wasn't going to let that weakness take over as per usual. He'd just have to fight the urge and pray he was strong enough to stay away, because he didn't have the time to waste throwing rocks at a body of water in a different dimension. Not right now, at least.

He shoved his hands in his pockets, passing by hordes of other people. It seemed as though everyone out walking today was headed in one direction, while he was the sole person moving in the opposite.

It was definite—the world was against him.

His shoulders bumped roughly against strangers' and his shoes got caught numerous times on the uneven path of the sidewalk. It was a claustrophobic feeling almost, having this many people surrounding him and bustling by without a care for his well-being. They pressed in, nearly suffocating him and causing his breathing patterns to fluctuate out of sync. His heart pounded roughly in his aching chest as he wordlessly struggled for a solitary breath of air.

He had to get out.

Quickly, Davis veered to the left, heading into a nearly deserted playground. He immediately recognised the rusty metal and the dull yellow colour of the play structure as the one he used to frequent in when he'd been younger; an innocent, naive child.

Davis sat down on one of the creaky, old swings and rocked back and forth; recovering from the feeling of claustrophobia he'd endured only moments before in the bustle of the everyday crowd. There were a bunch of young boys clambering and climbing all over the play structure, laughing and teasing each other, as friends do. One of them grappled his way to the top, standing proudly on the highest point of the structure. He smiled widely and mocked his friends for being too scared to join him where he stood.

Davis recognised his old self in that little boy, and he nearly wilted on the inside. Had he really been that obnoxious? He observed the other boys growing tired of the way the other boy annoyingly laughed at them and made fun of them repeatedly. Davis didn't stick around to see what happened next; he simply got up and continued on his way to Kari's house.

However, the memories and thoughts that plagued him remained in the forefront of his musings on the journey. Not too long ago, that had been him. He was the one everyone rolled their eyes at and grew angry at no matter what he did. It was a defensive mechanism really, the obnoxiousness and the annoying mannerisms. When you were as untalented and as lonely as Davis had been as a kid, well, you had to do something to get people's attention, right? What better way than getting in their face and making them pay attention to you?

Or at least, that's what Davis had thought back then. Nowadays, he was a bit more hesitant to pull off stupid pranks and all that jazz. He wasn't sure if he'd matured, per se, but he definitely wouldn't be shoving a whoopee cushion under anyone's chair in the near future.

The clouds thundered and rumbled in the skies above as Davis finally reached Kari's house. He went up, contemplating what he'd say to her. As the door stared him down, he realised he probably should have thought of that before he ventured to her house seeking answers.

His timid knock was met with a stony silence until light footsteps drew nearer and a hand twisted the doorknob to let him in. Kari's eyes widened at his appearance, but she said nothing as he walked in and kicked off his shoes.

He sat on the couch, she following behind him, but he was too tense to stay seated. His pacing set a frown upon Kari's unblemished forehead and she voiced her confusion at his nervousness and reason for intruding in her home.

She said it a bit nicer, though, because she was Kari and would never accuse anyone of intruding.

Davis scowled and kept his lips sealed for a few moments longer. His fingers clenched the fabric of his sweater and in his panic, he closed his eyes tightly. It was dark with his eyes closed, as expected, but it was a comforting sensation. Except that... well, Davis was tired of constantly looking into the dark for reassurance. It was all he'd seemed to be doing for months now. When the going got tough, Davis fled into the inky blackness of the Dark Ocean where no humans could follow. The darkness was lonely, he found, and he wasn't sure why that was so comforting. He wanted to be able to step into the light fully, without a single shadow attached to his back. He finally wanted to be free of this gloomy presence that accompanied him absolutely everywhere.

He opened his sealed eyes to find himself looking at the pale carpet.

"Davis?" Kari's soft voice asked.

She practically spouted sunshine with every word she spoke and every glance held infinite amounts of brightness to counteract any darkness that dared venture near her being. Perhaps that was why he'd been shying away from her lately...

He lifted his eyes, keeping his head down though, and the moisture collected on his bottom lids without his permission. He tried to keep his hands from shaking by shoving them in his pockets, but he was pretty sure Kari saw through that easily.

"Kari…" he began, "what happened last night?"

She started at his question before frowning more deeply.

"I'm not sure what you mean." she hedged.

Davis clarified, "I mean when you cuddled up to me and fell asleep at my house. I don't know what you meant by it, and it has seriously been bugging me… and, I just…"

Davis wasn't sure what else to say. He simply stared at her, waiting for her answer.

"Well, what do you think it meant, Davis?" Kari questioned delicately.

Davis huffed in irritation and replied, "I didn't come here for more questions, Kari. I came here for some answers. If you don't have an answer for me, then fine, but don't answer my question with a question, okay? I've got enough to think about." He barely paused to gauge her reaction before continuing his rant. "If you meant something by it, then that's where the problem comes in, because I don't think I could handle anything remotely romantic right now. The freaking foundations of my life have been ripped apart, and in truth, I'd be complete crap at trying to start a relationship with you. I can't love you, Kari—I don't have a clue what love even means, for heaven's sake! I'd think that before I tried to do anything with you, I'd have to figure that out, right? And the best place to start is with myself, or so I figured, but I don't even know where to start or what to do and only until recently have I even known what my favourite animal is! I mean, what does that say about me?... I don't know, that's for sure."

He took a deep breath, and gazed at Kari. She seemed a bit shocked and stunned by his emotion-filled outburst. He drank in her image hungrily, imprinted forever in his mind. He hadn't realised it before, but for as long as he'd known her, Kari had been that little bit of light in his life no matter where he was or how he was feeling. And ever since she'd starting dating TK and hanging around him less and less, that was when he'd started falling head-first into the terrifying darkness.

But now he had a chance to grasp that sunshine back and rid himself of the wasted time spent miserably in the Dark Ocean. Summoning the courage he supposedly possessed, Davis spoke his final sentence.

"Before anything happens… if anything happens, I have to learn how to love myself, Kari, and I'd be so happy to have you with me while I try to figure that out."

Kari said nothing. There was nothing left to say, really. The whole confusing encounter only succeeded in making her head spin, but she understood what Davis meant. And she would be there, until the day came when he was no longer a sad, depressed little soul. She'd make sure of that.

Kari wrapped her arms around his frail body as rays of piercing sunlight filtered from the dispersing rainclouds and illuminated the embracing friends and ridding the air of the eternal darkness.