NOTE: I think I went as far as possible with the end of chapt 7, which is where I had and idea to do chapt 8 as an epilogue/one year later chapt which I think didn't quite go as planned, but here it is.

DISCLAIMER: see chapter one.

"PLUMBERS VERSUS CARPENTERS"

Chapter 8 – epilogue

It has been one year to the date. 365 days to the year when I escaped the Carpenters and found the alien fighting teen heroes.

I listened to the purr of a 900 V-twin motorcycle engine as I cruised along empty roads around the outskirts of Bellwood; keeping even at my left flank, Jasmine Crade – aka Jade – glanced over and smiled, her long black hair and loose black clothing fluttered in the air currents as we picked up speed until we rode nearly full throttle.

"So how long will you be with these people doing god knows what?" she had to shout over the rumble of the twin engines.

"Don't know how long, could be a day, could be a month, could take a lifetime" I shouted in response, there was no hiding the annoyance in my tone I glanced over to see her frost blue eyes glittering in the sunlight.

"Well you just make sure you come home after it's all said and done!" Jade barked giving a hint of a smile. One year back I tried and failed rather miserably to get in good with Gwen but she shot me down in a nice way; she was right about one thing though, there was someone out there for me, and her name is Jade.

"You ain't getting rid of me that easy!" I barked back showing a devious glare; I'm sure she knew that she was the reason why I did everything possible to come home after every mission. We slowed as Jade and myself turned off the main road onto a dirt path leading to the hill where a green Camaro and four familiar faces await our arrival. Jade and I turned off our cycles engines and dismounted the machines; Ben and Julie stood side by side – both smiling and looking like they wanted to show some affection, Gwen draped her arm over Kevin's back as they sat under the tree before making out not caring whom was around. The more I thought about it, the more I realized we all had something in common...besides being teens...that something, was that we were all in a relationship; I had Jade, Ben had Julie and Kevin had Gwen.

"You've been having any nightmares recently?" Ben asked as me and Jade sat to Kevin's left; I smiled confidently and shook my head.

"Nope. I guess sending Steel into the incinerator gave me a sense of closure, that the haunting evil is finally over."

"Word has if that you..." Kevin pointed to me with a lazy finger "...are going back in to shut down another Carpenters outpost?" This time I nodded.

"And you're sure you're going to come home?" Again Jade was pushing the topic while twisting my hand in a direction it shouldn't bend, the only thing I could do was wince and draw a deep breath.

"I'd be crazy not to!"

"Good..." she gave a sick and twisted grin letting go of my hand. Following a few moments of silence, Kevin coughed a few times and threw "Boy-toy" into the mix; my glare upon him narrowed as Gwen rolled her eyes and Ben buried his face into the palms of his hands.

"Kevin! Be nice" Gwen demanded slapping him rather harshly across his chest.

"Yes dear..." the raven black haired teen sarcastically replied rolling his eyes before turning his focus to me "...when you get back in town, look us up and we'll all go out for smoothies...that is, if Jade's okay with it..." he trailed off doing everything possible to hide his smile.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I demanded popping my knuckles.

"Obviously, in your relationship, she's the one wearing the pants." Kevin belted out laughter in a way I'd never heard before; Ben dialed the Omnitrix to Big Chill and took off with Julie in its talons. Kevin and Gwen stood to walk back to his car – the whole way, Gwen lectured him about saying such things, her tone faded as they climbed into the car and slammed the doors.

"Damn right, so don't you forget it!" I shouted back to the car driving away; if I'd thought about it a few seconds longer, I would have realized that it sounded much better in my head than in real life.

"Don't let him get to you..." Jade slipped me under her arms until we stood face to face "...at least we know who's in charge. He has no clue that Gwen's holding all the power-cards." With this, she leaned in until our lips brushed together. "You coming with?"

"Nah..." I shook my head slightly "...I'll hang around here for a little bit longer before taking a long ride"

"Well just be sure to get your butt home tonight, I want one more go at it..." Knowing what she meant, I grinned as a flash of finely defined warmth danced over my face, she must have seen the blush for she giggled slightly.

I watched as she mounted her cycle and took off to the city. Silent stillness enveloped me; I watched from my perch on the cycle as the sun faded away past the horizon – light blue skies gave way to darker skies dotted with trillions of stars. Hours slipped by as though they were mere seconds. I turned on the engine, released the brake, hit the clutch and throttle at the same time and took off forcing the bike into an almost ninety-degree wheelie.


NOTE: Jade is a leftover OC from a previous work...to prevent confusion.

Well, it's been a wild little shindig but papa's gotta run, so until next time readers, this is Phantom Rottweiler saying "Sanity is only a state of mind...a state of mind that I prefer not to accept."