Disclaimer: I do not own any part of D. Gray-man nor any of its characters. I can only close my eyes and quietly play dress up with said characters in my head and hope I'm not desecrating Hoshino Katsura's work too much.

For those of you who care, Author's Notes will be at the end of every chapter and any and all questions will be gleefully answered if asked.

Everybody lives! Just this once Rose, everybody lives! ~ The Ninth Doctor, The Doctor Dances

It was a hard, vicious, painful and brutal battle against darkness that had spanned a hundred years and claimed an uncountable number of lives on both sides. But in the end, the war was finally over and peace was restored to the utter relief of the war's protagonists. The scraggly kids who had made a promise in a church had defeated the Millennium Earl and had banished him forever to the darkness from whence he came. As the final cries of the just and the wicked alike faded into memory and all the enemies of light were vanquished, they held each other's hands and thanked God for their safety.

Of course, once the battle was over, the whole story broke out: who Neah was, what they had been doing and how they had collected their power to end the endless war. There were a few people, i.e. a certain grudge bearing, mustachioed Central officer, who was furious with the kids and their flagrant disregard of the rules. He demanded that the children pay not only for their crimes against the church but for their heinous act against him on the walls of Central. Luckily, few people paid him much attention and instead cheered for their heroes, be they human or Noah, who had finally stopped all the killing. The previously mentioned incident was never really resolved and it remains to this day an open case much to Leverrier's dissatisfaction.

Maria smiled and cheered with the rest of them, dancing and skipping around with such enthusiasm, one would have thought she had planned for this moment her whole life. Truthfully, she could only smile. She had been certain that her life was to be forfeited in this war, that she was destined only to be another casualty on the battlefield of life. But now she had many, many long and wild years ahead of her to which she hadn't planned on having and that was perhaps the most glorious feeling in the world. So she drank her liquor, held her friends close to her body and wept tears of happiness.

Mana was on a similar high as he held his brother for the first time after that last long and dreadful battle, feeling his brother's impossibly messy hair and living, breathing, warm body close to his own. Mana had thought he would go insane there for a little bit, watching all those people fall and seeing his brother fight for his life and yet here they were now, happy, smiling and just so damned happy to still be of this earth.

He and Maria sat together, drinking away the stresses of the last few years as they had tried to keep the younger kids from killing one another. So there they were, sitting off to the side and belting out as many barroom tunes as they could collectively remember. He cheered and loudly toasted with the other exorcists, not caring that he looked like a fool, not caring that Neah was pretending not to know him and certainly not caring about how much his head would hurt come tomorrow.

All that was really on his mind at the moment was the first sunrise of the rest of his life and gorgeously drunk girl next to him with whom he would soon share every one of those sunrises with.

Cross couldn't believe they had actually done it. He just sat there in stunned belief, rubbing his eyes as if expecting all of these people, all of these wonderful people whom he loved so much to disappear before him. But Neah wouldn't stop smiling and clapping him on the back and Maria had spilled more than a little alcohol on him and Lizzy just kept beaming and tugging on his hand. They were here, they were all here. He slowly began to grin too; hot damn, they really did it.

So he kept good on his promise awhile back and gave everyone, yes even that goddamned Noah, a hearty, and a little too enthusiastic for anyone's comfort, kiss on the mouth. He didn't, however, pass out on the dirt like he had planned; the air was just too electric to even think about sleep right now or ever in fact. No matter how much his body ached and his head spun, he wouldn't miss this jubilation for anything in the world. He took a moment to himself and sat off to the side on a wooden bench with a half filled drink in his hand, watching the festivities and wondered what he would do next.

Now that the war was over and the Earl and his demons were gone, there was no need for the Order or exorcists. He was still thinking it over when Timcanpy landed lovingly on his head exhausted from having been passed around and admired. He always supposed he could find a job as a scientist somewhere. Who wouldn't love to have their own personal golem around the house after all? Maybe he'd find a girl too, one to settle down with and enjoy the rest of his life with now that it could be measured in terms of years rather than hours.

Lizzy flopped next to him a moment later looking completely and utterly smashed. Despite her promises earlier, she had immediately taken to the alcohol and it didn't look like she was stopping anytime in the near future. He'd probably have to drag her unconscious body back to her room later, but what would he do afterward? He grinned at her and gave her a good natured nudge to which she messily ruffled his hair in retaliation. She leaned against him in what looked to be a mix of utter comfort and an inability to sit up on her own.

He still loved her, hell, he thinks he'll always love her, but maybe she'd been right in that this friendship that had, this love that the five of them shared, was too deep to be squandered on romance. His eyes wandered over to Klaud who was standing alone in the corner, a beautiful smile on her face as she watched the merriment ensue. Gently repositioning Lizzy's body, he got up to talk to the blonde. They still had a thing or two to discuss and who knew where that might lead to?

Lizzy laughed between hiccups as she sat alone on the bench Cross had previously occupied. She even snorted once or twice as she tottered over to the temporary bar. She brought up a hand to stifle the giggles but she couldn't help it, it was just too funny. Who would have guessed that sweet little Lizzy Logan, Lizzy, who had never had any sort of physical training until she was thirteen, would end up saving the whole world from the ultimate evil? Not her certainly.

Such thoughts just made her want to shout with delight and pour herself some more alcohol with unsteady hands. Dammit if she didn't deserve it. She was so glad, so goddamned fucking glad that it was all over and they were still here. Such thoughts, thoughts that had previously been considered impossible, only brought her to tears. But that was okay, she could afford to cry now, she could afford to rest and breathe and enjoy all the things she'd missed. She didn't have to save anyone from evil; she didn't have any kids to reassure or any enemies to run from, she was now free to be as goddamned imperfect as she damn well wanted to be.

Neah suddenly grabbed her from behind and spun her around the room. She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck for support while enjoying the feel of his heartbeat against hers, a subtle reminder that he was still with her. They danced for another couple of minutes before her Master interrupted and asked if he could intercede. Neah smiled and bowed in that sweet way he always did and allowed Lizzy to be taken from him as her Master's firm, brown hands led her away.

She felt the way Neah's hands lingered on hers and a half forgotten fear went through her. The fear that the boys would do something stupid again and sour this perfect moment, that they would expect her to give them something she couldn't possibly hope to give them. But in the end, Neah only smiled and let go of her hands only to fade back into the crowd. She just smiled back. I love you, I love you all and it's because I love you so much that I can't love you in the way you think.

She looked across the room and noticed Cross had also switched dance partners as Klaud good-naturedly stepped aside to allow Lani a dance with her much beloved mentor. As she leaned up against her Master, she though for the first time since the war's end what she would do now. With the war over, she could pursue other careers, she had always wanted to be a dancer as a kid, but now she thinks she might like to be a teacher. As the room spun in more ways than one, she realized that no matter what she ended up doing with her life, she would be happy as long as she had this one moment. She lightly shook her head as she tripped over Master's foot again, oh well, maybe later. That's for a time when she's sober... so probably much later.

Neah had never recalled being this happy in his entire life and seeing as he'd survived eighteen years of it that was saying something.

He felt like a giant weight that had been suffocating him was suddenly lifted, allowing him to see life as it really was, infinite. He'd wined and dined with the exorcists, answering their questions and shaking off the distrusting looks a few still gave him. It will all be fine; everything would be fine from now on. As he passed Lizzy off to her Master, he grinned as Klaud sauntered up to him without a partner and they danced around for a while as he answered all of her curiosities just as he had promised. Mana was here as well, having a grand ole time with Maria and, if the looks they were giving each other were any indication, Neah just might have a new sister soon.

Neah sighed happily though it was unheard over the din of drunken chaos. It was all over finally, all the lies and deceit, all the hatred and sadness they'd all felt had dissipated the moment the Earl had fallen for the last time. He hurt, Noah or not, he was hurt really badly as he was once again reminded as Klaud accidently prodded a nasty wound on his shoulder. But that was alright, he would heal and life would go on as it always did, only minus the looming shadow of death.

Somewhere in the middle of their little celebration, Neah found a disused piano in the corner (why it was in the science department to begin with Neah really didn't want to know) and showed the Order just what it meant to be the musician. He banged on those keys so hard, he was surprised they didn't shatter, but they made the most marvelous sounds as the party continued on and on and on… Now with all the death in the past, it was time for him to find out how to deal with his new life. As his songs colored the air and the people danced joyously, Neah thinks he may have just found his calling in life in a world where he had a choice for his future.

Hours (maybe even days who knows?) after that initial celebration ended, three weary and mostly drunk exorcists, one near unconscious clown and a tragically sober Noah quietly snuck away from the Order and wandered down the empty London streets in search of a quiet place to themselves. They found it in a lonely tavern off of the beaten track; the only occupant being a pissing drunk sailor knocking on a broken piano, not looking like he would give it up anytime soon. Neah hadn't minded though, he was sure his fingers would soon bruise from all the playing he'd done today. They sunk into the sticky bar stools, leaned against the cool rounded bar table and took a deep breath, breathing in the musty smell as they took it all in.

The war was over and they were all still alive to see it.

Maria started it first by reaching for Neah's hand next to her; Neah gripped it tightly and found Lizzy's next to him. Lizzy grinned and grasped for Cross's, though it took a time or two as the world continued to spin in her head. Cross kissed her hand gently as he found Maria's other one. Mana lay on the floor beside them, empty bottle of bourbon still clutched in his hand as he slept off what was sure to be an impressive hangover. Timcanpy fluttered around and, not sure which head was most acceptable for his perch, settled comfortably on Mana's head as he took a break from all the excitement of the last few days. Golem's needed rest too.

The four friends smiled soberly at each other, the gaiety gone for just that one moment as they felt the warm flesh of each other's hands in their own. They had done it, they were all here and now they would see what life had in store for them now, together. The moment passed and Maria demanded that the bartender bring down one of everything and bill it to the Black Order. They drank every penny the Order had that night while Mana and Timcanpy continued to doze on the floor. And life continued on, only for once giving a happy ending that is so rarely found in stories such as these.

Mana and Maria married that fall and were expecting their first child the fall after that.

Cross and Klaud dated steadily for many years before eventually deciding to tie the knot and get it over with. He got a job as a scientist and, with a little help from his sometimes Noah partner, made a killing off selling golems. He and Klaud were living quite comfortably when the first kid, the first of many, arrived.

Lizzy hung up her pistols for good and met a nice man outside of the Order with whom she became very attached to. The poor man was roasted not once, but twice by her overly protective male friends who grudgingly consented when he cautiously had asked for their permission to marry her.

It was funny how both Neah and Cross had imagined being in a wedding with Lizzy, only they hadn't imagined being the ones to walk her down the aisle only to give her away to another man. But Lizzy was smiling so beautifully that day, wiping away stray tears, and the boys were only too happy to let her go for good if that lucky son of a bitch could keep that smile there. No one had to elaborate on the destruction that would follow should the man not meet their incredible expectations, though for now he was a nice enough guy and Lizzy did seem happy so they let well enough be. Retired or not, Lizzy was still a crack shot.

Neah did indeed become a famous concert pianist, or he was when he wasn't helping Cross with some crazy scheme, helping Lizzy with her classes or watching three sets of his friends' kids. It was times like these that he often wondered about finding a nice girl of his own and starting a family like everyone else had. But still, he couldn't push the frightful times when he'd wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat out of his head. It was during those times that he would be reminded that darkness has a way of coming back and he'd wonder just what awaited their future and if they would ever really be able to escape the Earl's dark shadow.

His answer came in the form of a young boy, a young embittered orphan he had come across one cold December day while visiting Mana and his family at the circus. Neah remembered smiling down at the kid who had kind of reminded him of Cross with that red hair of his. The boy, not liking the patronizing way Neah was looking at him, responded only with a kick to his shins. Neah cursed and grabbed his bruised leg while the kid laughed and, before he knew it, Neah was laughing as well.

Neah could never say what it was that possessed him to take in that dirty, foul mouthed kid, one just like all the others in the world, but Neah had immediately formed an unexplainable connection to little Red on that crisp and cold Christmas morning. It had just felt natural, as if both had spent a long time to get to this one point where they could look back and say that things had indeed gone right. So Neah and Red prepared themselves to face a world were dreams do come true, where hard work does pay off and the best of friends could forever remain that way.

So as Neah led Red, soon to be Allen Walker away, he thought of the future, of his friends, of the little boy on his back and he was happy.

(Wipes stray tears) You can blame this completely on my beta, Going Sideways. She was about halfway through editing the character death chapters when she became quite upset. Was there no way I could save them? Did they all really have to die? A conversation on Doctor Who (any Whovians out there? Know my friends that it is here again! Season 7 is now amongst us!) brought about this idea, a happy ending where, as the 9th Doctor once shouted, everybody lives. It's not an explanation of how the war was won, why they were able to prevail, how on earth I managed to keep everyone who died alive and well... it's just a fun little ditty, something for all you people who stuck with me for so long. It's nice, you know, to walk away from a big project like this, one that was filled toward the end with strife, death and a soul sucking loss of hope that I could just bring back a little (completely fictional and not mine by the way {points to disclaimer}) light to the gloom and doom the last ten chapters or so brought.

Call me a sap, call me an optimist, call me an idiot with dreams of grandeur, but I believe that while it is true that not everybody lives, sometimes you can learn to find the best in a bad situation so in the end, you never really lose, only gain. Fanciful and full of crap but, to quote a book I otherwise despise, isn't it pretty to think so?

(Takes a bow) Thank you all for your support and for your reviews. This was a fun project to write and I hope you all enjoyed it. Please, thank you for your patronage and come again soon!

~ilikedan, started On May the Third, 2011, finished on March the Fifth 2012 (seriously, weird huh?)

Doctor Who and all its quotes and characters (c) BBC