Hey everyone! I'm glad you enjoyed the last chapter! Enjoy the new one! I can't believe that this is the end! I hope you all enjoy the final chapter!
Disclaimer: If my name was Kazuki Takahashi then I wouldn't even be on this site, so, yes, I don't own YuGiOh GX.
Claimer: My series, my plots, my titles, my original characters...go get your own.
!THE FINAL CHAPTER!
It took Mom almost a half an hour to finish tending to both Mark's and Danny's various injuries. Thankfully I had been wrong in my assumption of what happened to Danny's nose, meaning it wasn't broken. The reason it looked crooked was because it was broken and healed crooked a couple of years ago. Apparently I was the one who broke it.
"You seriously don't remember breaking my nose four years ago, Yuki?" he asked after my mom went back into the house.
I shrugged. "We fought a lot, you lost a lot, and we both got hurt a lot. Excuse me for not remembering every time you walked away with a bloody nose," I said defensively.
Danny just laughed. "I walked away with a bloody nose every time."
I just glared at him and he stopped laughing abruptly, muttering an apology. We had an unspoken, unwritten agreement to never speak of our years as enemies. Though, granted, this whole conversation was brought about by... wait, it was Danny. Okay, I feel better now.
I cleared my throat and looked back at everyone. "Moving on, who's present wasn't opened?"
Everyone looked around at each other, at me, and at the gifts which were scattered across the yard when Danny threw Mark into the table.
"I think everyone's gifts were opened, Jay," Syrus said.
"If not, oh well," Aster said, nudging one of the upturned gifts with his toes.
"My gift wasn't opened," Mark said softly, looking down at his feet.
Everyone turned to look at him. Morgan folded the backs of her hands on her hips. "Well then give it here mister."
He sighed. "I'm not so sure you'd want it anymore."
I spun around and punched him hard in the arm, causing him to jump and yelp. He rubbed his arm where I punched him and looked at me with a wounded expression; I just glared at him, folding my arms across my chest. "Mark McNamara if you do not give Morgan this present I will kill you and bury your body in the woods, am I understood?"
Now everyone was looking at me curiously before turning to look at Mark, who was frowning. "But, after all that," he began, waving his hand in the general direction of the overturned gift table.
I stomped on his foot, causing him to yelp in pain again. "You will give her that present, Mark, and she will love it despite all this." I waved my arms rapidly in all directions.
"But," he began again but I slapped my hand over his mouth.
"Mark, if she were going to say no to you, she would have said it years ago," I murmured, only loud enough so he could hear me. Slowly I peeled my hand away from his mouth. "Okay?"
He smiled and nodded. "Yeah, thanks, Jaden. What would I do without you?"
"Probably flail around in an endless void of confusion with no way out," I answered with a shrug, making him laugh.
"Probably," he agreed.
"If someone doesn't explain to me what is going on in the next five seconds, more people are going to go swimming," Claire said.
"Oh, hush you," Jesse said, pressing a quick kiss to her lips to keep her quiet.
"I'm with Claire. What are you talking about, Mates?" Jim asked, looking between me and Mark.
I just smiled at him. "Oh, you'll see, Jim." I looked at Mark. "Right, Mark?"
He smiled and nodded. "Right." He cleared his throat and walked over to Morgan, grabbing both of her hands, holding them lightly. I smiled softly at them, ignoring the insistent jabbing of a finger in my side. I knew without even looking that it was Claire, and I was not about to miss Mark give Morgan a gift I'm one hundred and twenty percent sure that she is not expecting.
"Mark, what's going on? Why don't you want to give me my gift?" Morgan asked.
Mark shook his head. "Trust me, Morge, I want nothing more than to give you this gift, the problem is that you can't have it unless you answer one question." He smiled warmly at her, and I heard both Claire and Alexis gasp softly, no doubt figuring out exactly what the question is.
Morgan, however, remained completely clueless. "I don't like playing these types of games, but okay, what's your question?"
He cleared his throat and looked down at their hands. "Morgan, I love you more than anything or anyone. I never thought for one second that I could be as happy as I am when I'm with you. I'm never going to take for granted even one second of time I have with you, and I want nothing more from life than you and this love we have together."
"Mark," Morgan whispered, tears gathering in her eyes. She looked like she wanted to say something more but stopped short when Mark let go of one of her hands and dropped down onto one knee. Her now free hand flew to cover her mouth as she suddenly understood just what Mark was doing. Everyone else gasped right along with her.
"Morgan, from the moment we met, I knew there would never be anyone else for me. So, as for that question I need you to answer." He paused and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He swallowed nervously and reached into the pocket of his jacket, which I just noticed he put back on after getting out of the pool. In his hand, after he pulled his hand out of his pocket, was a small, black velvet box with a hinged lid. He turned and looked up into Morgan's tear filled eyes, raising his hand and opening the box, revealing the emerald engagement ring he showed me back when he thought I couldn't see anything.
"Morgan Houston, will you marry me?"
"Seems like you guys threw one hell of a party for the birthday girl," Dad said as he walked out of the house.
I stood up straight, clutching a crushed, red plastic cup in my hand. I wasn't sure if Danny and Mark crushed it during their cat fight or if one of us simply stepped on it afterwards. "Yes, well, it wouldn't be this bad if Danny and Mark hadn't gotten into a cat fight," I chided, shoving the cup into the garbage bag in my other hand.
A crumpled piece of wrapping paper hit the back of my head, making me turn around and face person who threw it, which happened to be Danny. "Something you wanted?" I asked innocently.
"Quit calling it a cat fight, that is a fight between two girls!" Danny exclaimed, bending down to pick up another piece of garbage.
"Well, it did begin with hair pulling," Jesse added, walking over toward us, stopping and looking at me. "That sounds like a cat fight to me, am I right?" He smirked, winking at me.
I grinned widely and nodded. "Oh, yes, definitely a cat fight."
Danny scowled at the both of us. "I hate you both."
Jesse and I just laughed.
"Where is everyone else by the way?" Dad asked, trying unsuccessfully to smother his chuckling. "I noticed Claire and Alexis were the only ones inside and you three appear to be the only ones out here."
"They all left a little while ago," I said.
Dad nodded and glanced around the yard. I recognized immediately that he wanted to talk about something, probably something dealing with the accident and Dr. Yates but he didn't know how to broach the subject. I dropped my bag onto the ground and folded my across my chest, turning my complete attention to him. "Okay, spill, what did you find out?"
He jerked his head to stare at me surprised, but a relieved smile quickly turned his lips. He hurried down the steps of the deck and over to me, pulling a folder out from the back of his jeans. My dad has a bad habit of shoving folders in the back of his jeans when he isn't really thinking; it drives my mom crazy, but he's been doing it for years and just can't seem to break.
"Yates finally flipped on his dad, but when my men went to pick him up for questioning, he wasn't there," Dad explained, opening the envelope.
Hearing who we were talking about, Jesse and Danny quickly abandoned their garbage bags and rushed over to us.
"Wasn't where?" Jesse asked, resting his elbow on my right shoulder and leaning on me.
"Anywhere. He hasn't been seen at his house, usual gym, country club, anywhere since," Dad explained, cutting off abruptly, giving me a worried look.
I rolled my eyes. "Since the accident that put me in the hospital."
He nodded, pulling the contents out from the envelope. "Yeah, which I believe supports Yates' claim that the accident was his father's idea."
Jesse's fingers tapped the side of my shoulder where they were resting, pushing against it with some force. I adjusted my shoulder slightly, letting him know that I understood.
"But I was hoping you recognized him," Dad continued, holding the papers out toward me.
Frowning, I took them and looked down, studying the face staring back at me. Dr. Jerold Yates looked a lot like his son, mostly in the eyes. They were the same, cold shade of blue, but Jerold somehow managed to exclude the cold, hard, unforgiving, unremorseful stare even through a camera lens. His nose was a sharp, straight line that matched the strong jaw. His eyes were deeper set than those of his son, casting a darker shadow over his already dark eyes. Thin lips were pressed into a firm line, refusing to smile for his driver's license picture. His graying blonde hair was receding slightly at the forehead, revealing partially wrinkled tan skin.
I shook my head and began to hand the picture back to my dad, saying, "Nope, I don't recognize him." Dad reached for the papers, but Danny's hand suddenly shot out and grabbed my wrist in an almost brushing hold.
"Wait." He tugged my arm away from my dad and practically ripped the papers from my hand, holding the photo a mere few inches from his face as he studied Jerold Yates with a dangerously narrowed expression. Dad, Jesse, and I all shared confused looks.
"Um, Danny, you okay?" Jesse asked slowly.
Danny ignored him and continued to study the photograph. Very slowly, his expression widened, jaw falling slack as his eyes became the size of dinner plates. His arms lowered slightly, but his eyes never left the picture. "No way. No fucking way. This cannot be happening. This cannot be right!"
Dad stood up straight and stared at Danny with narrowed, hard eyes; I liked to call them his Cop Eyes. He noticed everything and missed nothing when he had that expression. "Danny, do you know him?" Dad's tone was clipped, meaning he wanted the truth and he wanted it now.
Danny completely ignored his tone and turned to me. "Yuki, oh my god, I swear, I didn't know!"
I furrowed my brow at him, confused. "What on earth are you talking about? I don't think for one second you had any idea that this would happen."
Danny nodded but his shoulders were still tense. "That was before this." He waved the papers he was now clutching in my face, as if that explained everything, which it didn't.
"This what?" Jesse asked, voicing my confusions before I could.
Danny glanced at Jesse briefly before he looked back at me. "This guy." He flipped the picture of Jerold around so I could see who he was talking about, though I already knew who it was. "He's the one."
Tempted as I was to comment on that, I was more concerned with what Danny really meant. "The one what, Danny?"
He leaned closer to me, staring me straight in the eye. "He's the Doctor, the one who paid me to kidnap Alexis that summer last year."
Dad, Jesse, and I all tensed up. I curled my hands into tight fists as I continued to stare at Danny, knowing my eyes were hardening and - more than likely - changing color. "What?" I asked slowly, my tone hard and cold.
Danny paled slightly but hastened to explain. "This is the guy who asked me to kidnap Alexis for him. I meant what I said, Jaden. I haven't heard from or spoken to him in almost a year. That day at the mall was the last time I ever saw him, I swear."
Jesse pinched my shoulder tightly, stopping me from snapping at Danny. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, opening my eyes as I released it. "It's okay, Danny. I believe you."
He sagged and released a relieved breath. "Good."
Dad stepped forward. "Danny, did you and Yates ever meet any specific place?"
Danny nodded. "Yeah, some bar downtown. I never heard of it and it was kind of rundown, not exactly a place I would imagine for a guy who dressed like him." He waved the picture around.
Dad nodded. "That's fantastic. Can you take me there? On the way there you can tell me everything you know about Yates and why he asked you to take Alexis."
Danny nodded quickly again. "You got it." He handed Dad the papers back and the pair hurried over toward the driveway, Jesse and I following after them. Danny quickly got into the front seat of Dad's police cruiser.
Dad opened his door and looked over toward where Jesse and I were standing. "Tell your mother than I ran back into town to follow a lead. I'll drop Danny off back at his house before I come back."
I nodded. "No problem."
He nodded once before climbing in, revving the engine, and flying out of the drive. Once they were out of sight, I rubbed my hand over my face, sighing. "What the hell is going on, Jess?"
He squeezed my shoulder. "I have no idea, Jay." Together we walked back to where we were standing and started to clean up again. After a minute, Jesse stopped and turned to me. "You do know what this means, though, right?"
I frowned and looked at him, hating him in that moment for voicing my thoughts yet again. "We really need to talk about this crazy new connection we have."
He smiled at me, completely unrepentant. "I dunno, I kinda like it." He shrugged one shoulder.
I chuckled. "Never said I hated it, but you keep commenting on what I'm thinking."
It was his turn to chuckle. "I have a feeling you'll get me back eventually."
I smiled at him. "Of that, I have no doubt."
He smiled back at me before his expression quickly sobered. "Jay," he began.
I nodded, cutting him off, "I know, Jess." I turned away from him. "I know."
"But who is Jerold Yates working for?" he asked, moving closer.
I sighed and fell down, folding me legs in my lap and leaning my elbows on my slightly raised knees, placing my chin on the fold of my hands. "That is the million dollar question."
Jesse huffed as he sat down next to me, folding his legs in a similar fashion to myself, his elbows resting on his knees but his hands dangled in front of his legs. He stared at me, worry shining in his emerald eyes. "This is just way too messed up."
"Story of my life," I concurred.
"So, Jerold paid Danny to kidnap Alexis last summer when you were here and then he has his son cause the accident that puts you in the hospital." Jesse looked away from me and up at the setting sun. I observed him out of the corner of my eye, letting him finish. He continued, "And I'm going to think that it's safe to assume that the same guy Dr. Yates was talking about that his dad works for, who wanted the accident to happen, also made Jerold hire Danny to kidnap Alexis."
I nodded. "That is basically what I was thinking." I dropped my arms and turned to look at him. "Guess what I'm thinking this all has in common, besides the Yates family."
He looked at me, frowning; he didn't need to guess. We discovered shortly after my release from the hospital that the instant connection we've had since we met increased tenfold. Somehow we're both acutely aware of the other's thoughts and feelings, intentions and plans without having to say anything. Distance has yet to become a problem; I began to notice the change while I was at the hospital and Jesse was here at my house. Winged Kuriboh thinks that while I was in my coma I subconsciously called out to Jesse, which allowed him to see me in the mirrors and then allowed him to hear me in his head. When I died and then came back, that connection solidified and is slowly growing stronger.
Truthfully, I kind of liked it.
"You think you're the common factor," he said.
I nodded. "You yourself told me that Dr. Yates said something like that, that it was my fault."
Jesse scowled at me. "Hold it right there." He turned his body so he was facing me. "It was not your fault."
I looked away. "You said that Dr. Yates said I was a target."
He placed his hand on my arm. "Target, yes, but not your fault. You don't go around asking to be targeted by psychos."
I turned to him, frowning. "Then kindly explain to me how I always seem to be the one targeted by psychos."
He narrowed his eyes at me. "I did not RSVP for Jaden Yuki's Pity Party."
I sighed and nodded. "Right, sorry." I ran my fingers though my hair. "From what I've got, Yates didn't come completely clean about the mysterious old boss."
Jesse nodded, leaning back on his arms, tilting his head toward the sky. "That's what I got, too."
I frowned and resumed my previous position, my thumbs absentmindedly stroking the line of my chin. "But why would he tell you and Alexis that and not my dad?"
Jesse chuckled and looked back at me, smiling slightly but there was a hard look in his eyes; he was uncomfortable with what he was about to say. "Dr. Yates wasn't exactly in a position to give me and Lex half truths, not with my arm getting intimate with his trachea."
I chuckled softly, shaking my head. "I guess that makes sense." My smile fell. "But that really doesn't explain it. I mean, I've seen my dad when he interrogates, it's the reason I never lie or go against him." I looked at Jesse. "He's freaking terrifying."
Jesse laughed out loud. "I bet!" He stopped laughing and looked at me, the smile falling from his lips. "But you're right. Maybe this mysterious psycho is more terrifying than your dad."
I shuddered. "That is not a pleasant thought." Sighing, I ran my fingers through my hair again, dropping it and linking my fingers together in my lap, looking away from Jesse. "I'm terrified," I whispered, knowing he was picking up on both that and the reasons through our connection.
He enfolded my hands with his, squeezing tightly, making me look at him; he was smiling softly at me. "I know, Jay, but no matter what, none of this is your fault."
I glared at him, not happy that he somehow uncovered that feeling below everything else.
He squeezed my hands tighter when I tried to yank them away from him. "It isn't, Jay. This guy, the mysterious psycho, the MP if you will, he's the one that's to blame."
"But he's coming after me, Jess. He nearly killed me, you, Claire, and Alexis, and if we're right and MP is the same person behind Alexis' kidnapping last summer, then I'm also to blame for that!" I nearly yelled, but instead spoke in a harsh whisper. I do not want Lex or Claire or anyone else to hear what Jesse and I are talking about.
"Jay, you're my best friend, please don't make me slap you." He eased the pressure on my hands slightly. "MP is responsible, Jay, don't forget that."
I took a deep breath and released it slowly, nodding. "Right, okay, you're right." I sighed and shook my head. "Still terrified."
He squeezed my hand again. "I would be too, but you're not alone, Jay. Whatever happens, whatever MP may or may not be planning, you've got me, all right?"
Surprisingly enough, that made me feel much better. Probably because I could feel exactly what Jesse meant. My shoulders sagged as the relief swept through me like a welcomed storm after a long drought. I flipped my hands around and grabbed his, squeezing them. "Thanks, Jess."
He smiled at me and pulled his hands back, leaning back on his hands and looking toward the sky; I quickly followed in suit. Together, we lounged like that for a few minutes in comfortable silence, but my mind was wandering. I was still freaking out, less about everything that Jesse and I discussed and more about how to deal with the information.
"Jesse," I began, but he cut in before I could finish.
"I don't plan on telling anyone, Jay, not even Claire." He looked at me, expression blank. "We need to keep this to ourselves."
I nodded; that's what I was thinking. "Thank you."
He bumped his shoulder against mine, just a little bit of contact to ground me. Sighing, I fell backwards and stretched out, folding my arms beneath my head. I vaguely noticed Jesse doing the same out of the corner of my eye. His elbow touched mine, and I felt myself beginning to relax, comforted by the knowledge that no matter what happened, my best friend would be by my side every step of the way.
Alexis walked down the stairs, drying her hands on a small hand towel. Reaching the ground floor, she looked up and glanced around the living room, smiling when her eyes landed on the couch. Jesse was laying on it, back resting against an arm with one arm folded behind his head, his elbow resting on the back of the couch. His other arm was wrapped around Claire, who was curled into his side, her head and left arm resting on his chest, her right arm was wrapped underneath Jesse's bicep of the arm that was wrapped around her, her hand lying on his shoulder. Jesse was watching a made for TV movie but Claire had her back to it, her eyes closed. Her injured leg was resting on a pillow that was laying on Jesse's feet; her other leg was curled underneath Jesse's, her foot resting lightly against Jesse's, the one that wasn't covered by the pillow.
"Well aren't you two just the cutest thing I've ever seen," Alexis teased with air of truth in her words.
Jesse turned away from the television to smile at her. Claire didn't say anything, only curled more into Jesse, causing both him and Alexis to chuckle softly. "Is there something you need?" Jesse asked, hand softly rubbing Claire's back.
Alexis nodded. "Yeah, do you know where Jaden is?"
Jesse nodded and extended his free arm toward the sliding glass door. "Yep, he's outside."
Alexis frowned and headed over there, dropping the towel on the table before looking outside. "In the rain?" she asked as she spotted Jaden standing out there, staring up in the sky, seemingly oblivious to the rain washing over his face.
"Yeah, something tells me he just wanted to feel the rain on his face," Jesse explained softly.
Alexis nodded slightly before opening the door and stepping outside. "What are you doing out here?" Alexis asked, walking over to Jaden, who looked at her. "You're going to get sick if you stay out in the rain like this."
He shrugged and looked back up, feeling the rain run down his face. "I don't mind. I never thought I'd be able to feel the rain again so I guess I'm just thankful." He closed his eyes and let the rain wash over his face. He knew without looking that Alexis was frowning; she and everyone else didn't like being reminded of his near-death experience...or his death experience "I heard you," he said after standing there for a few minutes in silence.
"I didn't say anything."
He chuckled and shook his head, opening his eyes and looking at her. "No, I mean when I died."
She inhaled sharply, lips pressing together as pain flared in her eyes.
Jaden frowned and reached over, stoking her cheek. "Don't. Everyone knows I died, Lex, but I'm here and alive. Please don't keep thinking about it."
"How can I not when you bring it up so suddenly?" she whispered. He just shook his head and dropped his hand, turning away from her. "What did you mean? That you heard me." She walked over to him, looking at him with her head cocked to the side.
He smiled softly and looked at her. "Just what I said, I heard you. Everything was so quiet and bright and I finally felt at peace." He frowned. "But then I heard you, crying and screaming for me to come back and I couldn't leave... I couldn't leave you." He ran his hand over her hair. "You helped me find my way back, Lex. You helped me figure out that this" – He took her hands in his – "this is where I belong." He pressed his lips to her knuckles.
Alexis smiled and stepped closer to him, turning her hands around to press her palms to his face; she pulled it closer to hers, lips ghosting over one another. "Ti amo."
Jaden's eyes clouded in confusion. "What's that?"
"And what does it mean?"
She smiled. "I love you."
The confusion disappeared, replaced with love, and he smiled, cupping her hands with his. "Well then, ti amo you to."
Alexis giggled before he pressed his lips against hers, holding her tightly for a minute. She pulled back and moved closer, pressing her ear against his chest as her arms wrapped around him; his arms found their way around her, holding her tightly against him. Beneath her ear she listened to the steady drum of his heart.
Keeping my arms tightly around Alexis, my mind drifted back to revaluations Danny made about Jerold Yates and the preceding conversation with Jesse. The more I thought about it, the more obvious it became.
Someone was trying to hurt me. Maybe not exactly 'hurt' me, but they were definitely after me, and they were doing anything and everything to succeed. This Mysterious Psychopath, or MP as Jesse dubbed him earlier, was after one thing and one thing only: me.
Scowling at nothing in particular, I tightened my hold on Alexis, leaning down to capture her lips again as the rain continued to soak us, much like the night of our first kiss. Pulling back just enough to breathe, I whispered, "I love you."
She smiled softly, hand reaching up to curl around the back of my neck; her fingers teased the short strands there. "I love you too."
I leaned in again, pulling her closer against me, almost as if I were trying to pull her inside of me. Kissing Alexis, I let myself forget everything that happened these past three weeks, everything dealing with Dr. Yates, his father, and MP. I grounded myself in this moment, reminding myself that no matter what, I belonged there: holding my will to live tightly in my arms.
And that is it for Springtime Love! It was an incredible, emotional journey and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I would like to thank you all for your continued support throughout this season.
I do not know when Autumntime Love will be posted, but it won't be for quite some time. Just please be patient and I hopefully won't make you wait so long. : )
Not much else to say, except thank you once again and review! I'll see you all next time! :D