Epilogue - Brave

("Brave" by Gavin Mikhail)

Disclaimer: I do not own Glee, their characters, setting, or plot. All of those belong to Ryan Murphy, FOX, and their affiliates.

The icy grass crunched beneath my feet and I dug my hands into my coat pockets as I pulled my body in close to keep me warm. The fierce Ohio winter was giving us our final freeze of the season and the wind was blowing hard across my face. I was more focused on my surroundings. It had been almost a year since I was at Dalton, but I finally came back for something special. Something totally worth the trip. As I walked across the quad, I caught sight of my old dorm, still looking the same, but somehow strangely different. Like I was looking through a kaleidoscope. Behind me, the observatory was sitting on top of the hill and in front of me was Blaine's dorm. I walked around it and made my way across campus noticing small changes they had made here and there. A new sign had been put up outside Dalton Hall and there were sheets of yellow paper in the windows of the academic buildings that declared "Bully-Free Zones."

As I crossed the street and made my way toward the auditorium, the balloon in my stomach began to expand. It was nerves, but it was the good kind, like before you go on for a performance or when you're waiting for people to start showing up to a party you're throwing. I opened the lobby doors and was greeted by warm air. After pulling my hat off and unbuttoning my coat, I ran my fingers through my hair to keep it neat. I slid quietly through the back door of the auditorium and took a seat in the last row. The Warblers were sitting on the stage obviously finishing up a rehearsal for Regionals. I heard Wes bang the gavel against the stage floor and the club began to go their separate ways.

Blaine was in the front row messing with his bag. It was now or never. I got up and began walking down the aisle of the auditorium with more courage and confidence than I ever had at Dalton. "Hey you!" I called as I got closer. Blaine looked up with a surprised expression that turned into a heart melting smile.

"What are you doing here?" he asked as I walked up to him and gave him a hug.

"I have something I needed to tell you actually," I explained.

"Funny," he replied. "I have something I needed to tell you."

"You first," I answered playfully.

"No no no," he said waving his hand. "You first." The last of the Warblers were leaving the auditorium when I took a deep breath and took his hand in mine.

"Okay, I wanted to talk to you about, well, us." He raised his eyebrows, the smile never leaving his face. "We've been taking this one day at a time, just like we said we would, and that's awesome. But it's been almost three months now and I know that's not a long time, but I feel like a completely different person."

"You are," he said, nodding.

"The point is, well, I don't know…we hang out all the time, we spent Christmas and New Years and Valentine's Day together, we tell each other everything." I gulped before continuing. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love you. I never stopped loving you. I knew the whole time that you were the guy for me. It was always you. And I want us to be more than friends. I want to be your boyfriend. I know that I let you down last time, but like I said, I'm a completely different person. Somewhere in the past two years, I grew up. And if you'll have me, I promise I'll be the guy for you." As I was making my case to Blaine, I gave myself a pat on the back, at least in my head. This was coming out better than anything I could've said in Na'vi. "I promise I will do whatever it takes to make you happy. I may not be perfect, but I'm perfect for you and I know it. I'm so proud of what we've come through and I promise I will never let go of you. I will give anything up for you. And if you take me, I'll be brave for you." I exhaled one big breath, a wave of relief coming over me as I finally got all of my feelings out in the open.

"Yes," he said simply, a smile on his face.

"Yes?" I asked as though I didn't believe it was that easy.

"Yes!" he answered, nodding. I was ecstatic as he moved closer and I pulled my arms around him, finally giving him a warm kiss. Finally, after months of wanting nothing more than to kiss him, I earned that privilege. His lips touching mine sent a bolt of electricity down my spine and I felt a familiar rush coursing through my body. Finally, we broke our kiss and he leaned into my arms which were clasped behind his back.

"So what is it you wanted to tell me?" I asked him curiously.

"My parents finally decided to move closer," he said excited.

"Really?" I asked. He nodded. "Nice."

"Sam, they're moving to Lima," he replied as he looked at me beaming. "I'm transferring to McKinley next month." The balloon in my stomach burst and before I could think, I pulled him in for another kiss, this one fiercer and more passionate than ever. I was so happy I wanted to take him and hold him tight and never let him go. As our kiss ended, I leaned in, our foreheads touching, the smiles still etched in our faces.

"So this is what it feels like to get a happy ending in the movies?" I asked him.

"No," he replied. "This is what it feels like to get a happy beginning." I smiled and kissed him again. If there was one thing I was sure of, as I stood there with my boyfriend latched in my arms and my life getting better every day, it was that I was going to do whatever it took to stay true to myself. Because that's all that matters in the end. I was going to be brave. I wasn't going to fight it anymore.

Afterward – A Note From The Author

After almost a year and a half of planning, writing, revising, and rewriting, I am finally finished with Still Fighting It. I am floored at how receptive the readers have been and I can't begin to show enough gratitude. Naturally, after spending so much time with this story, I wanted to share some of my own thoughts with you, the reader.

Before I say anything more, however, I need to first say thank you. This story is the product of so much support from people all over the world. To all of the readers who commented, reviewed, messaged me, promoted my story to other fans, and anything in between, I can't say thank you enough. You are the reason this story is finished. The most amazing part of writing this was the fact that I was blessed with such an astounding audience to share the story with. I owe so much to all of you and I cannot express enough gratitude. I am blessed to be able to share this experience with such phenomenal people.

Writing has always been something I've done for myself. Rarely do I ever share my writing and I've never finished a full story until now. I take an immense amount of pride in the fact that I completed an entire story from start to finish. I developed this and brought it fully to life and that makes me prouder than anything. It validated the fact that writing isn't just something I do to waste time or some mediocre skill that I have. I was able to finish this and if I can do it, any aspiring writer can too. I've read some other fan fiction online and many people have even said to me, "it's not as good as your writing." But writing shouldn't be about comparison. It is about expressing yourself through words, whether in private, or to share with an audience. For any other aspiring writer, take my advice (even though who am I to really give advice?) and keep writing. I have scraps of stories that laid around for years and they helped contribute to this story. I never intended them to be used in this context when I first wrote them, but they became useful later. Keep writing and never give up.

This story is not perfect. Perhaps I'm my own worst critic, but I still find flaws in the storytelling, in the characters, and in the structure of the writing. But overall, I'm happy that I told the story I originally set out to tell. I conveyed the emotions I wanted to and the audience has, for the large part, connected with me on that level. I will say that despite its flaws, Still Fighting It is a powerful story. It didn't end the way I originally outlined, but it still serves its purpose. Many things changed along the way and writing it was a process, and an emotional one at that. There were lots of moments of writer's block, plenty of hard decisions to make, and times when I wanted to throw the entire thing away. On the other hand, there were times when I was ecstatic reading reviews or felt that rush of emotions hit me as I wrote a particularly dramatic scene. Regardless, I'm happy for the chance to have grown as a writer.

I hope that those of you who have read the story feel something different. I hope that I connected with your emotions. I hope that you walk away happier, or better, or at the very least entertained. If I've done that much, the hours I spent working on this were worthwhile. I always wanted my writing to be interactive and create a dialogue with the audience. I am keen to hear your voice as a reader and would encourage you to visit . and message me with your thoughts. You'll also find links to Behind the Scenes videos, fan art, and other interesting things. Even though Still Fighting It is complete, I won't stop writing. This book is only a small part of my journey as a writer and I hope you'll stay with me as I go on to write more.

With much love and gratitude,

A. Gates