Hey everyone, this is the last chapter of this fic. I want to thank all of you who loved and supported this series which I think is my best so far. It made me want to make the next stories I make just as great as this one. After this, I'm going to try something new and write non-anime stories. If any of you guys are interested, just check my profile.
Anyway, thank you, all of you, for everything.
NO ONE'S POV
After Shade and Shine saw the copy of Shana vanish, they immediately suspected that she was with Flare. When Slice and Chi asked what they should do. Shade and Shine left the group and headed towards their home in Central City, to where their daughter was.
Fighting off with a few rebels, they arrived and found their house destroyed. The sight of many unconscious rebels gave them hope that Shana was still alive, but they still wanted to find her. They had just passed the door to the grand hall when it burst open.
Together, they saw Flare stagger out carrying an unconscious Shana on his back. Without hesitation, they ran towards him and heard him beg to save Shana, to leave him alone so she could live. They looked into the destroyed grand hall, saw Dart lying dead on the floor, and realized what the two of them just did. Ignoring Flare's request, they carried him and Shana to safety.
Meanwhile, Slice, Chi, Zara and Slick went around rescuing their imprisoned friends and their families. Fortunately, it was easier than they thought. As soon as word got out that Dart was killed, the rebels freaked out which made it easier to defeat. Some resisted while others ran away and went into hiding.
Everyone was rescued and met up with Shade and Shine who decided to turn their home into a makeshift hospital. Getting as much help as they could, they brought injured Pokemon from all over the city to be treated.
While the nation recovered, Zara and Slick returned to the latter's home where Linda and Brownie waited. Linda was more than glad to see her son alive and well. Brownie on the other hand cried happily as he hugged Zara. They honestly didn't know what to do with him. At least, until Slick suggested that he stay with them. It was agreed on, but Zara thought of something else.
"Maybe you could just adopt him."
The room froze, and Zara felt a little embarrassed at what she had said. But then, Linda turned to the young Buneary, smiled and said: "Well Brownie, how about it? Would you like to be part of our family?"
Brownie seemed to have understood what she had meant. He pointed at her face and said: "Aunty?"
"No Brownie. Not Aunty but...mommy."
"Mommy..." Brownie mimicked. "Mommy..." He started to understand. "Mommy...Mommy!"
He ran up gave gave Linda a big hug while crying all the while. Linda hugged her new son tightly as a few tears came from her eyes. She then turned to Slick. "Well why don't you come here and hug you new brother, Slick?"
"Brother..." Slick whispered. Choking up, he ran forward and the three of them hugged each other and started crying. Zara too was in tears at the sight before her; it made her feel really good about herself. Not knowing how much to thank her, Linda turned to Zara and smiled, the depression that had plagued her since her husband's death gone.
"Ugh, Zara, hurry up! You're not the only one who needs a shower!" a towel-carrying Shana shouted while pounding the bathroom door.
The sound of water coming out of the shower could be heard. "C'mon, Shana, you're a Fire-type; you shouldn't be this worked up about water." Zara replied.
Shana gave an annoyed sigh. The shower turned off, Zara, wrapped in a towel stepped out. "There, happy?" she said before walking off. Shana rolled her eyes before taking a bath.
Meanwhile, Flare was in his room finished with his own bath. He was now standing in front a mirror adjusting a black bow tie on his neck. Noticing some fur sticking up, he grabbed a brush and took care of it. A knock came from the door. "Come in." Flare said.
The door opened, and Shade stepped in. "Almost ready Flare?" he asked.
"Almost Shade, hang on." Flare finished brushing his fur and walked over to Shade. "There; all done. I do think I look pretty good."
"Yeah well, you should look good today." Shade replied. "After all, you only graduate from high school once."
Flare smiled a little at the word "graduate". Yes, he and the rest of them had finished high school despite the number of days school was called off due to the rebel attack. He was really graduating and had his sights on Central City University.
Not only that, the school had insisted that he, one of the two heroes of the nation, make a speech before the entire school. He didn't know how many sleepless nights passed, but he was able to finish it.
"Nervous about your speech?" Shade asked.
Flare gulped. "A bit, but I can manage." he replied.
Shade smiled. "Well that's good to hear. C'mon, we're almost leaving. The girls are done too." Shade said, and the two left the room.
They waited for a while at the front door until Shine, Slice and Chi arrived with the two girls. Zara was wearing a necklace, bracelets and anklets designed like snowflakes, but Flare's eyes were fixated on Shana. She was wearing a ruby and topaz studded tiara which seemed to sparkle like her eyes. She walked over to the speechless Flare and gave him a wink. Luckily, he didn't react as much as he did with Philia.
"Wow Shana, you look...amazing." he told her.
She smiled back at him. "Thanks. You're looking pretty good too."
"Aw c'mon, it's just a bow tie. " Flare said with a nervous laugh.
"Well you still look great no matter what you're wearing." Shana gave him a kiss on his cheek.
Slice walked over to the door. "Alright guys, we gotta go." He pushed the door open. "We'll need good seats so-"
He stopped at what was behind the door. Linda and Brownie were there waiting for them to arrive. Slick, wearing light brown fedora hat as well as a silver necklace with an S, was leaning against the wall arms crossed with a red rose in his teeth. Ignoring the look on Slice's and Chi's faces, he took the rose out of his mouth and threw it to Zara. She gave it a sniff, giggled and walked towards him and held his arm.
"Well I think we should be going now." Shine said before Slice or Chi could object. Quickly, the group left and headed for the school.
The parents and left the group and headed for the auditorium while the kids assembled in their rooms. Half an hour passed, and the ceremony started.
Music blared and the students entered the room and took their seats next to their families. Principal Marshall took the stage and began his speech congratulating the students on finishing another portion of life. He told them about the hardships they had to go through to reach where they were right now and told them that they had made him proud. His speech ended, and he called Flare to the stage.
Flare took a deep breath before standing up. Shade, patted his back and everyone else gave him an encouraging smile as he passed them. The room silent, Flare walked to the center aisle and went up the stairs to the stage. Principal Marshal stepped aside as Flare took the podium. He took another deep breath and began.
"My name is Flare...and I was a rebel..."
Silence ensued; it was like no one was even breathing. "I lost my parents to them when I was very young; I was so confused and clueless that I joined them just so they can spare me. It turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life."
"They were just ruthless..." Pain still coursed through Flare as he told his past. "I was put through training so harsh and brutal, it makes what Coach Aurora did to us look like a early morning jog." A few chuckles were heard including Coach Aurora's. "And that wasn't just it. I saw Pokemon get killed right before me the very week I first joined the rebels."
"The whole time I was there I thought about what would happen to me next. Was that going to be my whole life? Doing the work for some cruel monsters who don't know anything but causing pain? For a long time, it seemed that way."
"I missed so many things during my stay with the rebels; I missed my entire childhood because of them. I never played around in the snow like many other kids my age would during winter. I never knew the taste of good food given to me by those who loved me. I never scrapped my knee and run crying to my mom, and, she'd just put on a bandage and give it a kiss. I never experienced having free time to spend with my friends and loved ones. I never knew friendship, nor joy, nor love; only pain."
"One day changed my life forever. I was given a simple mission: kill this nation's rulers so that the rebels would take over."
"So I set off and asked for a job from Shade. They didn't know anything about me. I gave them lies to cover up my brutal past, and it worked. I was in and started bidding my time waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike."
"But time passed and something happened; I ended up bonding with them, with those I was told to kill. I was a stranger to them, but they still showed me kindness I'd never seen before. I got to know them more; I knew their lives, their fears, their hopes and their dreams."
"I was happy with them. I thought about spending the rest of my life like that until reality settled in. I had a mission to do, and I needed to do it quickly. There was one among them whose death I had to make happen the most."
Flare paused for about five seconds. "Her name is Shana, and I was told to kill her. I'd thought that it'd be easy, but for some reason, I couldn't bring myself to it. I had a lot of opportunities to, but I didn't. Why?...Because I fell in love with her."
"I promised never to kill her, but I remained a threat to her. I wanted to run away, to leave her and draw the rebels' attention to me. I told myself over and over that it had to be done, but I ended up putting it off until the last minute. I was selfish; I just wanted to be with her even if it meant endangering her."
"I did leave eventually, and it hurt me in a way I thought I would never get over. But I was caught and forced to give the rebels vital information. The lies I told were eventually found out, and I ended up being hated by those whom I betrayed."
"But Shana...she still believed in me until the very end. She loved me even though a lot of you might say she shouldn't. That was enough to keep me going; I was able to escape and befriended another rebel traitor named Salem. Together, we rescued Shana and her family and hid from the rebels."
"But one thought haunted me. The rebel takeover, the countless Pokemon that died, the lives torn apart, those were all my fault. The guilt I felt tore me up until I realized that I had to do something to fix everything I'd done. So I left Shana again, and it was just as painful as the first time."
"But Shana followed me saying that she'd do so until the very end. She wanted to be by my side even thought it would mean death for her. I didn't care if she was being brave or not; I just wanted her far away from anything dangerous. She did end up accompanying me which made me worried sick."
Shana shifted guiltily in her seat which Flare seemed to have noticed. "Yeah, that's right Shana. If I could, even I'd ground you for ditching your parents."
Flare's face was serious, but he suddenly smiled. "Ah what the heck, I missed you the few hours I was gone." That cheered her up slightly.
Flare went back to his speech. "But I suffered loss after that. Salem sacrificed himself to save me. When he finally died, I swore that I would never forget him nor his sacrifice."
"Shana and I continued on. Eventually, we came across Dart and fought him. It was just grueling; I couldn't remember fighting a battle like that before. He was tough, but Shana and I didn't give up. During the course of the battle, the ceiling collapsed, and Shana pushed me out of the way of a falling pile of rubble."
"I panicked; I tried digging her out, and when I found her, she showed me the pole sticking out of her lower stomach." Gasps of horror could be heard; Shana's paw moved to where her burn mark was supposed to be. "But we used it to our advantage and finally defeated Dart. At that moment, I didn't care if I'd fixed my mistake or not. All I cared about was Shana."
"I thought she was going to die, and it tore me up. But she told me a way to save her even if it meant causing her pain. She told me it was the only was the only way for her to live. I agreed to it eventually and started pulling out the pole from her body."
"...The sound of her screaming still haunts me. It was so painful for me that I started screaming too. And when I finally pulled it out, I had to burn her wound to stop the bleeding, and it just caused her even more pain. at my paws."
"I had done it. I hurt her one last time to save her life. We were rescued, the rebels' gave up, and Shana and I, someone who made so many mistakes, became heroes."
Flare paused for about five seconds to allow the crowd to take in his speech. "I guess all of you can say that I've got a very messed up past, a past that still haunts me. But look, my past was horrible, but I became someone great in the end right?"
"I doubt all of us have messed up in the past; I doubt everyone here had a wonderful past. But take it from me, I had a dark past, but I have a wonderful present filled with those who love me. And because of them, I can now look into the future and smile without fear."
"Fellow students, we're all graduating here. We're all not little kids anymore; we're gonna be full grown adults soon. So I want you guys to do just three things: let go of your past, cherish you present and wait happily for the future. Think of tomorrow as one more step to your dreams. I know it won't be easy; nothing ever is easy. But Shana and I did the least easy thing in the world. If we can do it, I'm sure all of you can."
"So c'mon guys; I know we can all do it . Let's go forward, forward into the future."
A loud applause followed Flare's speech. Flare couldn't help but smile as he saw so many cheer for him. He thanked the crowd and went back to his seat. Shade patted his back again, Shine smiled at him, Zara and Slick gave him a thumbs up and Shana hugged him tightly. The ceremony continued eventually leading to the giving of the diploma.
Slick was called up first. After getting his diploma and shaking hands with Principal Marshall, he turned to the crowd and raised his arms over his head in triumph. Linda was clapping with tears in his eyes, and Brownie was hopping up and down happily.
Soon after that, Zara was called up. After getting her diploma, she winked and blew a kiss into the crowd, but it was in Slick's direction (Slice and Chi couldn't tell). Shana was called up soon after that; she herself was almost in tears as the crowd cheered for her.
And finally, as if they were purposely saving him for the end, Flare was called, and the whole auditorium gave him a standing ovation. Surprised a bit at this, he just went up the stage and received his diploma. He turned to the crowd, and they went nuts for him; he could hear his name being chanted. Feeling elated, he headed back to his seat.
Shortly after that, the ceremony ended, but the night didn't yet. Students and parents were invited to the Graduation Ball to be held in the gym. Everyone went there; the food was excellent.
And then music played, and a wide open area showed up. Almost instantly, Slick snatched Zara away from her parents and began dancing with her. Slice and Chi were taken by surprise, but allowed it with only one rule which Chi told Slick.
"If that hand if yours goes anywhere below her waist, you're loosing it."
Slick gave a hearty laugh. "Yeah, I'll keep that in mind." he said as he danced with the love of his life. Chi sighed and saw Slice take her hand and kiss it.
"Wanna dance?" he asked slyly. Chi smiled, and he pulled her away to dance with the love of her life.
Soon, more and more couples began to dance. Shine leaned on her husband's shoulder and said: "Oh Shade, this music's just wonderful."
He turned to her and smiled. "It has been a while since we last danced. Do you still have the moves Shine?"
"Let's find out together." she said kissing him. She took his paw and led him to the dance floor.
With a sigh, Shana watched as her parents and friends began to dance. And then she noticed Flare standing in front of her, a smile on his face and a paw extended towards her.
"Shana...would you please dance with me?" he asked her.
She thought he would never ask. "I'd love to Flare." she replied, and they went to the dance floor.
And finally, Flare and Shana got the dance that they were supposed to have months previously. And it was magical; it was like the floor had vanished, and they were hovering in mid air. Time seemed to slow down as they gazed into each others eyes and thought of nothing but the other, of spending this moment with them.
Several minutes later, Shana and Flare felt like they needed some time just for each other. It was easy to sneak out since many other couples did the same to do who-knows-what. Shana and Flare sneaked out onto the school grounds. Avoiding a Luxray teacher who was searching for students who sneaked away from the ball to do stuff without anyone looking, they found a tree and climbed onto it branch and sat down.
"It's a wonderful evening isn't it?" Shana asked.
"Of course. It's 'cause we together right?" Flare replied with a smile.
Shana smiled but then looked at him worriedly. "Hey Flare, did it...did it hurt talking about your past like that?" she asked reluctantly.
Flare paused for a bit, looked forward and sighed. "Yeah it kinda does." He sighed and looked at the stars. "Look at me...I told everyone to let go of their past, but I can barely forget my own. Tch."
Shana put a paw on his shoulder. "Hey, it's alright Flare. You've got me right? And my mom and dad and Zara and Slick. We're all here for you."
"Yeah, I know that." Flare cheered up. "You're the ones who gave me hope for the future."
"Yeah, speaking of the future, what're you plans for it Flare?" Shana asked.
"What d'you mean? I'm spending it with you of course." He gave her a playful hug. "I'm gonna be the head of your guard. I'll keep you safe no matter what."
"Well, that's really sweet of you Flare. That's almost as good as Zara's dream." Shana said.
"Really? What's Zara's plan for the future?"
"Well," Shana smiled a bit. "Let's just say she kinda liked being called 'Aunty'."
Flare blinked and seemed to understand. "Seriously?"
"Yeah. She's going to rebuild the orphanage and run it. Of course, Slick's gonna be helping her out." Shana said.
"Well that's nice of them." Flare commented. He then paused for a while and turned to Shana. "How about you? What's in your future Shana?"
Shana smiled and looked forward. "Well, my dad and I talked, and he told me I'm ready. He's gonna take me in as my mentor and teach me everything I need to know about running the nation."
"Wow. That's great Shana." Flare said.
"Yeah, I know." Shana said, but after a few seconds, her smile turned into a look of shock with her mouth slightly agape.
"What's wrong Shana?" Flare asked.
"Oh my gosh!" Shana said loudly as she clutched her head. "I'm gonna be the ruler of the Nation of the Twin Fangs! I-I mean, I knew this day was coming, but now that it's here...oh my gosh! Will I be OK? I know I'm smart and all that, but this's running an entire nation for crying out loud! Oh my gosh...oh my gosh! Am I gonna be alright? Am I gonna-"
Flare was a little surprised about what she was saying and decided to end it. "Shana," He placed his paw on her shoulder which stopped her from speaking. "I'll tell you what you're gonna be like. You're gonna be a leader who's dedicated to doing what's right, caring enough to take care of hundreds of Pokemon, and wise enough to make the right decisions. Your dad's a great leader, and if he teaches you, then what's there to fear?"
"Well...I'm not so sure yet Flare. I'm just so worried..." Shana said sadly.
Seeing her worried, Flare leaned forward and kissed her. "You shouldn't worry. It'll all be alright Shana; you've got me right? And your parents and Zara and Slick. We're all here for you."
Shana smiled a bit. "Hey, that was my line."
Flare smiled back and held her paw tightly. "And leader or not, you'll always be the Shana that I love."
Shana gazed into his eyes as she put a paw on his back. "I swear I'll never change; no matter what, I'll never stop loving you Flare."
Slowly, they pulled each other in for a kiss, a kiss only seen by the stars in the sky, a kiss seen by those who died who wait for Shana to heal their ailing nation, a kiss symbolizing love that transcends boundaries and changes lives.
The boy was troubled by his dark past, filling him with regret at the things he did. The girl worries about the future and what is expected from her. Yet, despite all of their worries and troubles, Flare and Shana found peace and happiness with each other right here in the present.