DISCLAIMER: I don't own "Ju-On," "The Grudge," or any characters contained within the films. Feedback and constructive criticism is welcome.

Epilogue

Four years had passed, and at this moment, nothing was further from Kristen Ng's mind than the events that had made her something of a morbid celebrity in New York City.

Six unexplained murders, and one more victim currently locked up in a mental institution in Albany. Her mother had also seen something that night; after Kristen had called the police, the authorities had found her huddled in the corner, unable to speak, her face contorting with fear, pointing toward the stairs leading to Kristen's room.

Someone – or something – had entered, and it had scared Kristen's mother to the point that she was no longer comprehendible.

Kristen had shed tears twice more in the days following the last night she ever spent in her childhood home; once at her father's funeral, although not for him, and once more for Derrick Martin. He had been right, after all. There had been an order to follow. After leaving her house, he had been found dead a short distance away, lying face down in an alley. Just like all the others, no official cause of death had been determined.

But something was different about Derrick's death. The other funerals had been closed-casket, but Derrick's face had been displayed for the world to see. As opposed to some horrific feature that the newspapers and police reports did not mention, Derrick's face shined in a resounding smile.

He accepted it, she had thought at the time. He accepted his fate. He accepted death for me…

She had not only cried that day, but some part of Kristen Ng knew that she would never truly forget the sacrifice of Derrick Martin.

And to think, he barely knew me…

Presently, Kristen's mind was miles away. She was in the fourth year of her undergraduate studies, and next year, would be beginning the Master's in Psychology program at NYU. Two years after that, she would be going for the Doctorate – and just now she was in her home away from home. Peer counseling.

The subject in front of her had been a frequent visitor. Poor Melvin Barrak – sophomore, majoring in social studies. Very high-level nerd in high school, domineering mother, and had an extreme dissatisfaction with the college life as well as a very low aptitude for adapting to the new social situation. Somehow, he saw Kristen Ng as his only social outlet. But today was one of his bad days, rapidly escalating towards his worst day.

"You always say that," he caterwauled from the seat in front of her desk. Kristen looked around – the room was tiny, only about seven feet on each wall, barely enough for her small desk, a one-tiered filing cabinet, and the chair in front of her for her peers to sit in. There were no windows, and the door was shut behind Melvin. "You always say that I can change whatever I want, but it never happens."

"Sometimes, you have to stop saying that and actually believe it and enact some of that change," Kristen said, a little more harshness in her voice than she would have liked. It had been a recurring theme with Melvin throughout the past few months that he had been visiting her; nonetheless, it was beginning to grind her.

"But I do believe it," he said, leaning forward in his seat, his overtly loud tropical button-down shirt juxtaposing with his corduroy pants. He did not wear glasses; his hair appeared disheveled and greasy. "It's you that holds me back."

The words shocked Kristen. Over the past several months, she had grown accustomed to Melvin's abrasive ways. This had been the first time she had been genuinely scared of him.

Maybe instead of the screw-up I think he is, this kid is actually dangerous…

"You hold me back," he said, standing up. "I come to you for help every week, and nothing ever changes. You want to see me fail, don't you?"

Alright, Kristen, time to go into calming mode…

"Nobody wants to see you fail, Melvin, let alone me. I see you every week because I want to help you."

For reasons that Kristen would never understand, Melvin flew into a rage, throwing the stack of papers on Kristen's deck away to one side, then quickly walking around her desk before she could react, pinning her back against the corner of the room.

In those few seconds, Kristen thought of a scenario. There had to be an explanation for this behavior. Maybe Melvin had just broken up with the first girlfriend he had ever had, and had decided to take out the frustration on the first willing female listener he could find. Maybe the constant humiliations and degradations he had no doubt endured in high school had finally snuck up to his fragile psyche, causing him to burst at this institute of higher learning. Maybe he had just found out that he had flunked one of his introductory social sciences courses, and would need to take summer classes to keep caught up – and maybe his domineering mother had caught wind of those facts.

Maybe – but here he is, in my face, threatening me.

"Maybe I need to tell you something," he said, reaching upward with his hand.

His hand…

Melvin's hand encircled Kristen's throat. She reached upward with both of her arm owns, but he was surprisingly strong, tightening down the grip with his hand and cutting off her air supply. Kristen choked on some of the air in her own lungs as her body attempted to find more oxygen.

The look on his face reminded her of something she had not thought of in a long time.

Her father. Lanh's face replaced Melvin's.

I thought I'd blocked it out…it seemed so logical…

After all, that's what the police thought had happened, hadn't they? That she and her father had been attacked in their room by an assailant also seen by her mother, and that Kristen's fragile emotional state, coupled with years of abuse that neighbors could attend to, had forced her to block out the image of her attacker?

It's so logical, isn't it, Kristen?

She gasped for air again, but then she heard it.

Ccccccc rrrrrr ooooo aaaaaa kkkkk…

Oh my God – she's come back…

And she hadn't been the only one who heard it. Kristen greedily inhaled the air as she felt Melvin's grip around her throat loosen, and his head slowly turned back.

Kristen looked up, past Melvin's shoulder, already knowing what she would see, but obsessed with the idea of confirming her suspicions.

Two feet behind Melvin, she stood, her arms swaying, her head and neck bobbing, her white dress standing out against the cold, gray paint of the tiny room.

And she was looking directly at Melvin…

She never left me, did she?

Melvin screamed as Kayako began walking toward him, her off-kilter body movements doing just as much to mortify him as the ungodly sound emanating from her throat.

Everyone must suffer, Kristen thought.