EPILOGUE: Something Romeo-and-Juliet-ish
RANDOM COMMENT OF THE APPROXIMATELY TWO DAYS IT HAS BEEN SINCE CHAPTER 24:
"Do you guys need anything else?" "Um, a bigger mouth, so that I can eat this in one bite?" - my friend's mom and my other friend (the "this" is a packed cheeseburger)
WHERE LAST CHAPTER'S REFERENCE TO SOMETHING AWESOME OCCURRED: The Avatar reference was the line break: "THIS BREAK WAS STOLEN BY A MAGICAL FLYING BISON. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE." The Romeo and Juliet reference was this quote by Madame: "That's impossible, you tallow-faced baggage!" Juliet's father calls her a tallow-face and baggage at one point in the play.
AWESOME PERSON WHO FOUND LAST CHAPTER'S REFERENCE TO SOMETHING AWESOME: thosemockingjaybirds Who, unfortunately, didn't get a prize, since I haven't actually replied to my reviews yet ... Ahahaha ... xD
THIS CHAPTER'S SOMETHING AWESOME TO WHICH THERE IS A REFERENCE: The asdfmovie, the Redwall series, and Bakuman (a manga series.) (Three! A triple-whammy. xD) (No prizes for getting any of them, though ... Except my love? Only if you review this story, you already have that ... Hmm ... Okay, you guys can tell me what prizes you want. There we go. That's an idea.)
ENJOY THE EPILOGUE OF AWESOME.
I would like to be able to say that the Flock (and various hangers-on) spent the week after we defeated Madame basking in the glory of victory – sitting around on the couch, consuming vast amounts of junk food, and generally acting like a pack of lazy men going through mid-life crisis, only with less beer and more video games.
Well, okay, some of them did. With funds … ah … liberated from Madame's headquarters, the Flock and Fang's Gang (which have decided to join into one big, mostly happy family, as their leaders are unwilling to go without seeing each other for more than a couple of hours at a time) bought a house large enough to accommodate everyone – complete with a swimming pool, a yard capable of serving as a football field, a home entertainment system, and several refrigerators. It's as close to paradise as these guys have ever gotten – or, well, it would be, if they could ignore the stone slab decorated with make-up, accessories, fashion magazines, and a certain meaningful hairdryer next to the oldest oak tree in the back yard.
Still, though, they're pretty much having the time of their lives – while Ella, Iggy, Gazzy, and I stay after school until nine o'clock at night, going over scene after scene after exhausting scene with barely a food break, no homework breaks, rare bathroom breaks, and a director who just cannot seem to make up her mind.
It's no wonder the older Drama nerds call it "Hell Week." I mean, I didn't even have time to read or write any fan fiction! Fan fiction, a staple of every English-nerd-type-fangirl's life! Why, cruel world …?
… Well, then again, I suppose, maybe, things would have been just the slightest bit easier if the star actors hadn't insisted on re-writing the ending of the play …
Whatever. After Friday night, it will all be worth it, and I will finally be able to write down all of the great ideas my experiences of the past weeks have given me. Halleluiah.
I LIKE TRAINS.
"Curtain in two minutes, guys."
"Okay, got it."
"Oh, my gosh. This is finally happening."
"If anyone has any panic attacks, nervousness attacks, stage fright attacks, serial killer attacks, fangirl attacks, or attacks of any other nature, please get them over with now, because the Igster will not tolerate anything less than perfection in his play."
"If anyone's going to have an attack of stage fright, it'd be you, Iggy."
"What? Are you doubting me?"
"After you almost committed suicide? Yes, I am."
"But I didn't actually do it! And besides, it was for a good cause."
"… A good cause."
"Okay, maybe that isn't the best way of putting it …"
"No shit, Sherlock."
"Hey, could you guys please stop arguing? We're on in one minute, and I'd rather the audience didn't hear mysterious bickering coming from behind the curtain."
"Okay, now I really am starting to get nervous."
"It's okay, you'll be fine."
"Because I'm an amazing, clever, hot, sexy hunk of man?"
"No – because I'll kill you if you aren't."
"And kill means kiss, right?"
"I'm thinking more along the lines of castrate."
"Shut up! Both of you will be perfectly fine! You're great actors, and besides, you practically lived this play!"
"I love you, 'kay, Iggy?"
"Well, I totally didn't see that one coming. It was nice, though. Wet, and not enough tongue for my taste, but ni – ow!"
"Hello, everyone, and welcome to tonight's performance of Something Romeo-and-Juliet-ish, put on by the Mesa High Drama Club. I'm Erica Jasani, the director of the club, here to go through a couple of technicalities with you, our esteemed (and, in a few cases, non-esteemed) guests. First, there kids worked really hard on this play, so please have a little respect and silence all cell phones, beepers, loud snacks, small children – basically, anything that might make noise during the performance. Second, emergency exits are there, there, up there, and two in the back. Yes, two. The light is out on one because of an accident with a fake unicorn and a jar of peanut butter. Don't ask, please. And third, flash photography, video photography, pornography, and any other type of photography I may have missed is strongly discouraged, as it will distract the performers. I mean, if you want them to screw up and forget their lines because a flash bulb went off in their faces, it's your loss. So, without any further ado … Enjoy the show!"
"Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend."
Of course, the play goes perfectly.
The actors say their parts with such assurance, it seems as though they were born to play them. They are guided, not by fate, but by something much more terrifying: the promise of an ass-kicking from the two stars if they screw up. (I suppose messing up in front of a packed auditorium would be pretty embarrassing, as well, and I suppose putting on a play is no fun if you don't know your lines, but the ass-kicking threat is definitely the determining factor. Ella is reminiscent of a mother bear with cubs when she's mad.)
The members of the audience seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves, too. At least, they laugh and cry, aww and sigh at the right times. During intermission, I sneak out of backstage to go to the bathroom, and overhear a couple of old ladies discussing our performance so far.
"That Romeo and his Juliet make such a cute couple," one of them says.
"I know," the other replies. "I wonder if they're together in real life."
You don't know the half of it, I think, smiling to myself.
And then, the play arrives at the final scene, the most crucial moment of our performance. The actors have been modifying the Shakespearian language of the original play all along to make it easier to understand, and that went over well with the audience, but this is the real test: will they accept our alternate ending?
Juliet lies on her tomb, her hands folded demurely upon her lap, lips curled upward slightly in a Mona Lisa smile. She doesn't seem dead so much as merely asleep … Waiting for her prince to come and awaken her from dreams of a dull, gray world not nearly as exciting as real life.
Romeo rushes in, tired and bloody from his encounter with Paris. He falls at Juliet's graveside as though falling into his own.
"Juliet, my sweet Juliet," he whispers, letting a shaking hand caress her cold cheek. "The eeriness of this tomb does nothing to detract from your beauty. Your face in death bears the same rosy color it bore in life, the same expression, almost the same warmth … But death, as all devils, is deceiving. You are gone, and soon, I will join you … My body will become ashes – Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, body crumbling amid the worms that are now your chambermaids …"
He sighs and lets his head drop onto her chest. "And yet, I do not want to leave. I like my life – joking with Benvolio and Mercutio, playing pranks on our uptight relatives, going to parties, dancing with beautiful girls – but none so beautiful as you. I wish I could have gotten to know you more, Juliet. I love you, but I barely even know who you are … I wish I could learn … Perhaps I will meet you, and I can learn there, but I would rather stay here. I almost feel as though you would be disappointed in me for dying to meet you, for surrendering to join your fate … To join any fate, really, to let my life be dictated by something else … Perhaps I won't die … But I cannot live without you … Oh, Juliet, I'm so confused!"
"Could you please take your angst somewhere else?" Juliet asks in irritation, opening a tired eyelid. "I was having a rather nice dream, but it was rather difficult with you going on and on. God, why did I ever marry someone this long wind –"
In an amusing twist of irony, Juliet is unable to finish the word "winded" as her wind is momentarily taken from her by a bone-crushing hug.
"Juliet!" he crows, as though everything is all right in the world – which, for him, it is. "You are alive!"
"Well, of course I am alive, you buffoon," she replies. "Did you fail to receive the message?"
"The one Friar Lawrence sent for you, describing how I was to take a drug that would cause me to appear as if dead for seventy-two hours and how you were to come for me and whisk me off to Mantua, with not a soul here the wiser."
"I received no such message."
"Of course you did not. Now kiss me, tell me you love me, and whisk me off to Mantua. This tombstone is becoming seriously unpleasant to my backside."
Romeo is about to do just that when a voice from the entrance to the crypt says, "Well, the two of you may be happy in Mantua, but I believe you would be happier still here in Verona."
The young lovers (regretfully) break apart and are shocked to see the Prince striding in, a solemn expression on his face and a disheveled appearance about his person, as though he just woke up.
"Sir!" Romeo stands abruptly and bows. "What are you doing here? If I may ask," he adds hastily for fear of sounding rude.
"I was informed that Paris had perished on the steps of this crypt by the hand of a certain banished young man," the Prince explains.
Romeo attempts to make himself disappear, preferably without leaving any traces of himself in the Prince's memory.
The Prince finds this infinitely amusing.
Juliet takes his amusement as malevolence, and acts accordingly, sitting up and bowing her head to him in an act of complete submission. (Romeo is slightly turned on by the image.) "Please, sir," she pleads, "revoke his banishment. Romeo regrets what he did, and is willing to do anything to gain your forgiveness … Right, Romeo?"
"Er … Yes, right," Romeo agrees.
The Prince laughs. "I was about to suggest that myself, my dear girl."
She brightens. "Really?"
He nods. "Really. I will grant Romeo freedom, but only if the two of you are able to put an end to the feud between your families."
The two lovers look at each other incredulously, then back at the Prince. "Have you seen our families recently?" Romeo asks.
"Yes, I have," the Prince replies. "I have seen that both families are waiting for the other to initiate a peace treaty. I was not eavesdropping on the two of you for long, but I heard enough to be sure that you are capable of initiating that peace treaty."
Juliet jumps off of her tombstone and takes Romeo's hand. She grins at him, and he wonders if he has ever seen a sight more beautiful in his life. He smiles back, and she wonders the same thing.
"Challenge accepted," she says.
HATERS GONNA HATE, POTATOES GONNA POTATE, TOMATOES GONNA TOMATE, BREAKS GONNA BREKATE.
I don't think I need to dictate the rest of the play to you, as I'm sure you can guess it for yourself: Romeo and Juliet put their families into a state of serious consternation, but then, through amazing powers of convincing (and a few well-placed threats), they manage to negotiate a peace treaty, and everybody lives happily ever after.
The audience gives us a standing ovation.
I can't help feeling particularly proud as I gaze out from backstage at the hundreds of people on their feet – for us – clapping so loud and so long, their hands will ache later – for us – cheering at the tops of their lungs – for us.
I can't for the life of me figure out why ... Maybe it's because I wrote the alternative ending to the script ... Nah, that's not it.
It must be because, without me, the two main actors never would have been able to act out their parts as convincingly as they did.
Oh, and one particularly awesome special effect never would have been possible.
The audience is bemused as the opening chords of American Idiot play through the auditorium's speakers, but the actors onstage and the tech crew members joining them are anything but.
"Don't wanna be a Venetian idiot,
Don't want a city controlled by the rivalries!
And can you hear the sounds of bickering?
The Montagues and Capulets at it again.
Isn't this a stupid kind of tension,
All throughout the stubborn city,
Where everything is never okay?
Fighting and arguing dreams of tomorrow
We're not the ones who're meant to follow
And that's enough to fall in love."
I don't think I've ever seen so many beaming faces in one place before.
… Or, as the epic instrumental kicks into gear, so many air guitar solos …
Then, the song reaches the verse right after the instrumental – the verse that Iggy and Ella sing without any accompaniment from other singers or instruments.
They pause for effect, about to deliver the last line in the verse, but are rudely interrupted.
IN WHICH MANY, MANY, MANY PEOPLE ATTEMPTED TO MURDER A CERTAIN MUTANT WE ALL KNOW AND SMELL.
(A/N: At this point, there is a POV switch to that same mutant we all know and smell.)
After a show, whether it be a musical, a play, or something Romeo-and-Juliet-ish, a strange hybrid is born of the parents Drama and Tchie, something unexplainable to parents and members of a non-Dramatically-involved clan: the cast party.
These phenomena have several stages, as observed by yours truly during the first one I attended (i.e. the one on opening night.) The stages are as follows:
1.) Where is everybody? Considering how big the cast and crew are, there should be more than five of us …
2.) The People begin to trickle in. "Perhaps, in a couple billion years, there'll be a hundred of us," some clever deviant remarks.
3.) The Food arrives. It is Glorious Food worthy of Blessings from the Bacon God Himself (and, no, that' snot just because we're starving. It's only partly because we're starving.)
4.) The Lucky Folks who arrived before the Food pig out on aforementioned Food.
5.) The People come in packs. The place might not be able to hold all of them. This might prove to be an issue in the long run, but everyone is too high off of his or her own Awesomeness to care.
6.) Music decides to introduce itself, seemingly out of nowhere but actually out of speakers in an unknown location. Everyone screams, even if they hate or don't know the song, because holy fucking shit, a song is playing, and holy mother of J. K. Rowling is it LOUD.
7.) A Dance Floor is established. There is Moshing, First Pumping, Jumping Up and Down like a Hyper Bunny Rabbit, and Circling Around the Few Actually Good Dancers and Clapping as they Bust moves, and other less appropriate activities.
8.) Those Who Don't Comprehend the Host's Music Choices leave aforementioned Dance Floor for quieter pastures.
That's where our story ends, because I, myself, am a member of that last group – as are all of the People who (Probably) Forgave Me for my Earlier Mishap, also know as my family and close friends.
Who I would like to assign to neither category, but to a special category all her own …
But, as she's been ignoring me ever since the battle, I don't think that seems likely.
Anyway, back to where I am now. Being a complete nerd (excuse me, intellectual badass), Liz brought a deck of cards with her, enabling us to engage in a highly competitive game of Egyptian Ratscrew. Egyptian Ratscrew, if you aren't aware, is a very confusing and very violent card game involving an inhuman amount of slapping – seriously, I think my hand will never be the same – that, oddly enough, involves neither Egyptians nor ratscrews. (What is a ratscrew, anyway? A rat that screws? A screw that is ratty?)
The only thing more amusing than the card game itself is the conversation that takes place during its course:
"I still can't believe that lady at Rainbow Scoops yesterday gave me only one scoop when I paid for two."
"It might have something to do with the perverted comment you made about how the 'Donut Hole' ice cream and the 'Licorice Stick' ice cream were right next to each other. It's just a guess, though."
"Hmm, you could be right … Hey, that lap of yours looks really comfortable, mind if I sit on it?"
"No, I guess no – OW! YOU'RE HEAVY! GET OFF!"
"If you want me off, you'll have to push me o – mmph."
"Hey, Fang, is that brownie any good?"
"Mind if I have a taste?"
"Hey, that is good! I've got to go get one later … Oh, you've got some on your chin, let me wipe it off for yo – mmph."
"Star, there is no way in hell your cookie tastes better than mine!"
"Guys, don't bicker. We're celebrating a play-well-performed."
"We're not bickering; we're debating."
"I hate to break this to you, but you two aren't Guosim shrews."
"NOOO! KATE, HOW COULD YOU? YOU RUINED MY LI – mmph."
"About how I treated you, you know, before … I'm really … really …"
"Really s … so … sorry!"
"SOMEONE, GRAB A CAMERA! MAX APOLOGIZED! THIS MOMENT SHOULD BE PRESERVED FOR ALL OF ETERNITY!"
There's a distinct click as Liz snaps a picture of Max's tomato-colored face, and everyone laughs. A slightly awkward silence follows.
"What would Nudge say if she was here?" Angel wonders aloud.
"It's weird, but I really miss her constant chattering," I say.
"The house is going to be so quiet without her," Iggy adds.
There's a soft sound not unlike that of a balloon deflating. I turn to see tears silently dripping down Max's face. The emotional brick wall lets her fall across his chest and sob quietly into his shoulder.
"It's okay," he murmurs. "I'm here."
There is another awkward silence as the rest of us look away.
"AWKWARD SILENCE! A NEW HETALIA CHARACTER IS BORN!" Liz shouts.
Everyone laughs again, and several new conversations initiate.
"Hey, Craig, I never found out - what is your special power, anyway?"
"I make people go huh!"
"When he gets close to someone, he can screw up that person's thinking momentarily, causing amnesia, confusion, all that good stuff."
"OH GUYS I'VE GOT A SERIOUS ISSUE FOR US TO DEBATE! Could James Bond beat Jason Borne in a duel?"
"Dunno. The Almighty Bacon God could beat both of them, though."
"And Chuck Norris would beat all three of them to a pulp."
"Hey, you said 'indeed' in a British accent! BRO-ELBOW!"
"It's like a bro-fist, only with your elbow."
"Oh, okay. BRO-ELBOW!"
Grinning at all of the completely random (and completely epic) things people are saying, I finish the last of my brownie. Iris is sitting by herself on the floor near a window, looking breathtakingly beautiful in a flowing, lavender silk dress with her chestnut hair in a braid down her back. The faint rays of moonlight coming in through the window make a silver crown on her head. I wish I could take a picture of her to treasure it forever, but that would seem creepy, and any chances I had with her would go poof.
Suddenly, without realizing it, I'm standing right in front of her. I know this is the perfect opportunity to ask her out, but for some reason, I'm unable to say anything.
"Gazzy? What is it?" she asks.
"Um … I just wanted to know …" I mumble, "if you … uh … wanted … to go outside," I finish quickly. "The stars are coming out and it's really pretty, don't you think?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," she agrees. "Let's see if we can get out onto the roof to watch it from there."
We don't manage to find a good place to scale the roof, but we do locate a decent balcony on the second floor of the house and drag a pair of chairs outside onto it.
The stars are winking into being one by one, each seeming to wave at me, to say, "Good luck, this is your moment." They seem so close, but in reality are so far away … I wish I could reach out and pluck one out of the sky, wrap it up and give it to Iris, a shining gift for a shining girl …
A slight breeze whispers through the cool summer night, but I don't feel it, because I'm out here with her. It's weird, how hyper-aware of her I am - as though if she were to move even the slightest muscle, I would feel it.
"Thanks," Iris says suddenly.
"For what?" I ask. If anyone should be thanking here, it's me.
"For … I dunno how to say this … For not giving up," she explains. "I was so scared that you'd surrender to Madame, but you never did. You were determined, and you found a way in to her headquarters - I never could've done that - and you weren't scared of her and … well … Your courage gave me courage, I guess. So yeah. Thank you."
"Um, you're welcome," I reply, trying not too blush too much or reveal to her how much her gratitude means to me.
I think I see her smile in the semi-darkness.
Someday, she won't just let you finish - she'll say yes, Iggy's voice says in my head.
"Wanna go see a movie with me some time?"
Deep breaths deep breaths deep breaths hope she can't hear my heart pounding -
"Sure, I'd love to."
I'm debating whether or not to do a victory dance when she takes my hand. Hers is hot and a bit sweaty, but it's soft and sweet and feels as though it belongs in mine.
"I'm glad," I whisper.
I feel myself moving in … closer closer closer …
"Oh, so this is where you two got off to!" says a voice from inside the house.
It's my fellow pyromaniac, of course, with his girlfriend in tow.
"You, my friend, are a master cock-block," I inform him.
He swivels his head around, what would be looking around for someone capable of looking. "I don't see it."
"Funny," I tell him. "Real funny."
"I think we should leave," Ella says.
"Thank you, Captain Obvious," I reply.
Before Ella can come back with, "You're welcome, Sergeant Sarcasm," we hear a certain song playing from inside:
Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
The four of us groan in unison. "Of all the places to be rick-rolled …"
But there are pros to being rick-rolled, I suppose - or, at least, there are, if you happen to be Iggy.
He bows to Ella and offers his hand to her (like a proper gentleman.) "May I have the pleasure of this dance?"
"Fuck no," she jokes.
She smiles. "Haha, I was just pulling your leg. Now get over here, Suicide-boy, and let me put my hands around your waist."
It isn't long before I get up the courage to ask Iris the same thing, and before I know it, I'm twirling around to the timeless classic, Never Gonna Give You Up.
All things considered, it isn't a bad way to end a hectic couple of months.
And then, I hear a click and see - or, more accurately, am blinded by - a flash.
"Liz, what are you doing?"
"Um … Stalking you? Being a paparazzi? Gathering material for future fan fictions? Take your pick."
"How about exploding?"
"I don't think I was doing that …"
"You will be, if you don't stop being a fifth wheel."
"… Oh. Okay. I see when I'm not wanted."
"It's not you we don't want - just your camera."
"But my camera is a part of me!"
"You'll have to cut it out, then."
… And on and on and on until we couldn't even remember what we had first started talking about, just that we were talking and that we had accomplished something amazing and life was really, really good.
It's over. Finally.
I feel like a part of my life is ending!
Well, not really, since I'm still going to write fan fiction. Not for Maximum Ride, though. Yes, that means no sequels. I'm sorry guys - the MR fandom just isn't what it used to be, what with James Patterson ruining his own series.
If you want to stick around and continue reading my fan fictions, though, go ahead - I am planning two multi-chapter fics at the moment (one for Hetalia and one for Avatar: The Last Airbender.)
That reminds me: I have to say some thank-you's. So, here goes: THANK YOOOUUUU! Danke, grazie, gracias, spasibo, xiexie, arigato. And that's every language I know how to say thank you in, so you'll have to make do with it. Thanks to all of my lovely reviewers (I have almost 300 reviews on this story, can you believe it?) - you guys never cease to make me smile and inspire me to keep writing.
I'm sad to end this story after writing it for the past year, but I really enjoyed writing it and I'm proud of myself for actually finishing. xD
I'll miss you guys! PM me any time, even if it's just to curse at me for not writing MR fics anymore.
One last review? Please? I'd love to know what you guys thought of my ending. :)