Hello everyone!

Well, it looks like I've finally reached the end. *cue sniffle and overly sad music*

This fic has been in development since March 2011 (I think, my brain's great at remembering some things, and not so good on others) and it's gone through a lot of changes.

I'd like to say a big thanks to everyone that has read, reviewed and helped me with this, my first fanfic, especially GraphicsGirl and XxMungoteazerxX. SPLAT FANS FOREVER, YEAH! :D

Sorry if this chapter has a tonne of spelling mistakes, the whole thing took me three days to write, so I was pretty exhausted afterwards xD

Be sure to check back soon for more fanficcy awesomeness!

Wishing you a happy life,

Blaze x

Chapter 19

Thorne slowly opened one eye, and then the other. He saw that he was now in the Castle grounds, and lying on top of the human Shaiden. The rest of the Defenders were standing around them.

He hugged his sister, before helping her to get up. "How long have I been unconscious?" he asked.

"An hour, at the least." said a sweet voice from behind.

He turned around, and what he saw amazed him. Standing before him was a tall, slim, beautiful girl, with short, curly blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing a light pink dress, with a checked black and white mini jacket, black high heels, and tiny black rose earrings. She was also holding a small black handbag, with pink roses outlined onto it.

"Crystal..." he said, looking into her eyes, "you're so... beautiful."

She blushed, and turned to two adults standing to her. "Thorne, I'd like you to meet my parents, Sandra and Blair."

Crystal's mother and father were dressed very smartly. Sandra had platinum blonde hair, which was up in a bun. She had the same blue eyes as her daughter, and was wearing a flowery dress, which fell just above her feet, with white flats. Blair had short black hair, brown eyes, and was wearing a smart, pinstripe suit.

Blair heartily shook Thorne's hand. "We'd like to thank you for protecting our daughter during these last few days." he said, smiling warmly.

"You're welcome, sir." Thorne said, feeling ever so slightly unworthy to be where he was right now.

"And, may I say," added Sandra, "I don't think our girl could have had a better friend. I've spent nights crying, hoping, praying, that she would come back to us."

Thorne could see the tears in her eyes.

"And your friends played a vital part too," she continued, "with all their fancy weapons."

She began to laugh. Her laugh with cheerful and bright, it reminded Thorne of Crystal's laugh.

Blair bent over and whispered into Sandra's ear. Thorne tried to make out what they were saying, but it was no use.

"And now," she said, adressing the entire group, "we'd like to repay you, all of you, for your kindness."

She turned to her daughter, who nodded. She then turned to the Castle gates, and said loudly, "Bring 'em in, boys!"

No sooner had Sandra gave the instruction, then were seven pet carriers of various shapes and sizes. Each had a Defender's name on.

Kook picked up his box. "Hey, mine's smaller than the rest of 'em!" he moaned.

"Kook, just shut up and open the box." scolded Ballista, who had just walked up to hers.

Kook nodded, and slowly opened the small door on the front of his box. Before he knew it, a tiny bird flew out of it, whistling a tune. It was a kookaburra, his namesake. It was wearing a smaller version of his top, goggles on its head, and a small tuft of green hair.

"Whoah, awesome!" Kook said with a smile. "What's your name, little fella?" he asked.

"You're not seriously expecting him to talk back, are you?" Ballista asked.

Kook shrugged. He got the biggest fright when, in an Australian accent much like his own, the bird answered: "I don't have a name, but everyone calls me Wookie. I'm not sure why."

Kook tried not to laugh as he said, "I guess that's not a bad name."

Crocness was puzzled by her box. It was long and wide. She bent down, and cautiously opened the hatch.

A large, dark green crocodile scuttled out of the box, dragging a chain lead behind it. Crocness almost felt like crying.

Thank you!, she mouthed to Crystal.

Everyone else was confused. "Wait, there must be some mistake." Gildar said. "Crocness already has a pet- Albert, remember?"

Crocness shook her head. "Albert ran away yesterday." she told them, staring down at the reptile, "But, that doesn't matter now, because I've got you!"

She kneeled down to pet it, but it reared up and snapped angrily. "Hey, get off me!" it ordered, in a Boston accent.

Crocness smiled. "Ooh, I know the perfect name for you!" she announced happily.

"No, please don't do it..." he started.

"Snapper! I'll call you Snapper!" Crocness said.

Snapper's face immediately changed to a 'why me?' expression, before he got up and walked back into his box, declaring: "This whole thing needs to be cooler. About 20%. Back in a mo."

It was only a few seconds before he came out again, wearing a pair of Men In Black style sunglasses. Everyone found it hard not to laugh.

"He thinks he's such hot stuff..." Wookie told Kook from the side.

Meanwhile, Skabb approached his box feeling slightly dissappointed. Even he had worked out that the size of the box indicated the size of the pet, and, judging by the size of his box, his pet wasn't going to be that big, or that interesting. He casually opened the door on it, and what stepped out?

Well, for a moment, no one really knew. Sandra eventually pointed out that he was meant to be an ogre, a small ogre, but an ogre nonetheless.

He was wearing a necklace of skulls, and a ripped brown skirt thing at the waist, with a few skulls hanging off. He carried a large, spiked brown club, though it was only large enough for him. He was a brown colour, fading slightly into pink. His ears were small, and his eyes sat on top of his head. He had two tusks, which protruded from his lower lip.

"Be careful," warned Crystal, "he's a little..."

But before she could finish, the ogre was smashing and bashing everything in sight with his club. When he eventually stopped, he looked incredibly tired.

Skabb turned to Crystal. "A little what?" he asked, prompting her to finish her sentence.

"Boisterous." Crystal answered. "He's a little boisterous."

Skabb nodded, and turned to the ogre. It smiled at him. "Hello." he said in a friendly, yet low, grunty voice.

"Um, hi." replied Skabb. He was feeling incredibly awkward.

"Hey, Skabb!" called Gildar. "Maybe you should name him Bruiser, cos I think he'll cause someone an injury soon!"

He gestured to the others, hoping that they would laugh. They didn't.

Skabb nodded. "That's a brillaint idea, thanks Gildar!" he replied.

Gildar's eyes went wide. "No, that's not what I meant!" he said, trying to convince him to change his mind.

The others sniggered at the Viking's misfortune.

Tinkor hadn't really been involved in all the tomfoolery involving Bruiser. He'd been studying his box. He tapped it and rattled it, but he still couldn't work out what was inside.

"I guess I'll have to open it." he decided.

He moved the hatch up on the box.

Little by little,

Inch by inch,

Bit by bit,

He was expecting whatever was inside to explode out with great force, but instead, two red lights flashed, and a robotic squeak could be heard. Tinkor recognised it immediately.

"Smudge?" he asked quietly, "Is it really you?"

Smudge was a robo-mouse Tinkor had trapped in the Castle dungeons a few months ago. He'd started out as a hostage, but one day a particularly hardy Attacker had managed to release him. Tink thought he would never see him again- until now.

Smudge squeaked happily. He was back where he belonged.

Ballista was still staring at her box. It was tall, but not thin. She opened the door, to find a tall, slim, bipedal fox. It had a dark orange body, long red hair, and, most humourous of all, it was dressed almost exactly like Ballista.

"Where am I?" asked the fox, in a thick Brooklyn accent. "And," she added, looking to Ballista, "where did you get your fabulous sense of style from?"

Ballista smiled. Her next thoughts turned to what she was going to name her new pet. She tried drawing on past experiences for help, which wasn't going that well. She tried just random names, but that was a disaster too, so, she went to the very last resort- flowers. She'd always hated flowers, especially when they were used during alchemy classes at the Academy. They would have to test chemicals from different flowers, and Ballista hated it. All the smells, the pink, ew!

She relayed all the different flowers they used in her mind:

Daisy?

Rose?

Poppy?

She then remembered the last flower that her and Knightriss had tested, the one that had got them both A-stars- Lily.

She turned to the fox. "How would you feel about being called Lily?" she asked her.

"What, like the flower?" she answered. "No way, sugar!"

Ballista desparately tried to think of something to convince the fox. It wasn't too hard.

"Y'know, the name Lily works two ways." she said. "It can either be sweet...or evil."

At the mention of the word, the fox turned her head and smiled. "Evil, you say?"

Ballista nodded. "So, are you taking the name?" she asked.

"Why on God's earth wouldn't I take the name?" Lily replied.

"I have a feeling you and I are gonna be good friends." she remarked.

A few yards away from Lily and Ballista, Gildar was trying to get the whole pet business over as quickly as possible. That was made a lot harder by the fact Shaiden and Skabb were now standing next to him.

"Are you gonna open the box or not?" she asked.

"Of course I'm gonna open the box." he said confidently, starting to lift the lid. "It's not like there's gonna be anything interesting in ther-AWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!"

The barbarian and the ninja exchanged weirded out glances.

"What's so cute, Gildar?" Skabb asked.

Gildar smiled, as he picked out a small, white Persian cat and replied, "This!"

Skabb and Shaiden had no idea what to say.

Gildar stroked the cat for a bit, and looked at it's collar, which read,

STOP THE SASS!

He smiled. "Your fur's so soft!" he noticed, talking directly to it. "And your collar gives out the most amazing message!"

"So," the cat said suddenly in a quiet, soft voice, "in other words- I'm totally purr-fect?"

"And she talks too!" he said. "Aww, you're so precious!" He picked up the cat and cuddled it.

He then gasped, and declared, "That's it! I'll call you Precious!"

Precious meowed in approval, and purred as Gildar stroked her again.

"Absolutely amazing." said Shaiden.

"I don't get it." said Skabb. "What is Gildar gonna want with a fluffy cat?"

Shaiden pondered this, before answering, "Well, he obviously loves her. So, we can use this relationship to exploit him in the future."

Skabb nodded. "Good idea!" he said. He reached up to give her a high-five, but she quickly declined. "Remember what happened when you tried to do that last time?" she reminded.

Knightriss had been walking around, catching snippets of the conversations between Defenders and their pets. She had only just come towards her box, as she had been laughing over Gildar's sudden change of heart. It was the biggest of them all, which she she was rather happy to have the honour of opening.

She was delighted to see a large, light brown stallion stumble out of the box.

"Oh, thank the Lord." it said in a posh London accent. "That box was so cramped..."

Knightriss laughed. "At least you're out now. You know, you remind me of the horses I used to ride at the Academy." she said.

The horse's eyes went wide. "You mean, I'm only Academy standard?" he said.

"Well, I don't know." Knightriss replied. "Maybe you can show me some of your...talents."

"Oh, of course!" he said, starting to gallop off.

Unfortunately, he didn't look where he was going, and tripped up over Knightriss' Swirling Stinger.

The short name for it immediately popped into her head. "Lance, that would be a perfect name for you."

He got up. "My dignity, my poor poor dignity!" he said.

"So, you're OK with your name?" Knightriss asked, feeling quite surprised.

"Why, of course." replied Lance. "It is very regal and royal indeed, it really compliments my fearlessness."

He started to prance around, looking quite smug, when suddenly a voice came from a few yards away: "Oh, hellooo!"

Lance's eyes went wide yet again. "Oh no, not him!" he said, quickly trying to run away.

Knightriss clipped a bridle to him before he could leave, and soon enough, Bruiser had ran up to the two of them.

"Hi!" said Bruiser in a friendly tone.

"Hello, Bruiser." replied Lance.

"So, you two are friends, then?" she asked the ogre.

"Well..." Bruiser began.

"Don't you dare!" hissed Lance.

Bruiser continued anyway, despite Lance's warnings. "At first it started out as this bet. Lily over there bet Lance that he couldn't stay with me for a whole week. He did, but she kept making the whole thing longer, and I guess I became attached."

He tried to wrap himself around Lance's front right leg, but Lance kicked him off before anything could progress.

Thorne and Shaiden were the only two who hadn't recieved their pets yet, so they were both relieved when Crystal called them over. "We've named yours for you, is that alright?" she asked.

They both nodded, and immediately after, a blue pet carrier and a wicker basket were brought in. They had the names Spike and Shadow on them, respectively.

Thorne opened his slowly. A Jack Russell came bounding out, wearing what looked like a mini version of his owner's outfit. It was completely accurate- right down to the patch and the mohawk.

Thorne burst out laughing, and Spike began jumping up and down. He ran towards Shaiden's basket and sniffed it. "Shadow, is that you in there?" he asked in a voice that was like a higher version of Thorne's.

"I am coming, my friend." answered another voice, quiet and slithery.

Slowly, the lid began to lift from the basket, and a snake emerged. She was all white, except for a blue mark which went all across her eyes, much to Shaiden's glee.

"This place is sssss-simply ssss-spectacular." she said, looking around.

Her eyes then fixed onto Wookie. She slithered over in what seemed like a second. Wookie shrieked, and hyperflew into the sky.

"Wookie, wait!" Shadow called, chasing after him.

Spike, who was busy being stroked by Thorne, had only just noticed the comotion, and quickly ran off to see what was up.

There was a sudden honk from outside the Castle gates. Crystal looked behind, then to her mother. "I'm so sorry, darling." Sandra said.

"That's my ride." Crystal explained sadly. "It's coming...to take me home."

She reached into her pocket, and pulled out a small piece of paper, which she pressed into Thorne's hand. There were a long line of numbers written on it. "Call me." Crystal said.

She burst into tears, and hugged Thorne. His promise to her was falling apart more and more by the second. He'd promised that he'd never leave her, and never stop protecting her. He only had one more thing to do.

He took Crystal's hand. "You've changed me so much." he told her. "We've done so much together, but there's still one thing left."

He bent forward, and they passionately kissed for the last time.

Her father tapped her on the shoulder, and the kissing stopped.

"Bye, Thorne." she said quietly.

"Seeya, Crystal." he replied, trying to sound as happy as possible.

She and her parents slowly walked away, the two loves holding hands until the very last moment.

Call me, signed Crystal.

I will, signalled Thorne.

All too soon, she was through the gates, and driving away in red Ferrari.

Shaiden went over and put her arm around her brother's shoulder. He was clearly sad.

Spike and Shadow had now returned to their respective owners.

"You OK?" asked Shaiden gently.

"Yeah, I'm fine." answered Thorne. "She can't be with me forever, I know that," he said, smiling, bending down and petting Spike, "but I've got so many memories- and she's only a phone call away."