Epilogue: Photographs

In which there are copious amounts of baby pictures

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(Two years later)

Arthur Taishakuten, President and CEO of Tenkai Corporation, beamed at his Generals of the Boardroom and proclaimed, "Gentlemen, today is a wonderful day."

"Yes it is," Koumokuten agreed, putting down his coffee. His daughter was in her freshman year of college, he'd just bought himself a yacht, and Aguni had been given an award by the state for being "A shining example to physical education teachers everywhere." Yes, today and every day was good.

Bishamonten privately thought the state was insane, but Aguni did get results, so for all he knew her model of drill sergeant badgering the cafeteria to stop serving dessert would be implemented in all high schools in a few years. At least her students were healthy, although he had to wonder if any of them cared about that after a semester with Ms. "Psycho" Steel-Koumokuten.

"Aaron," Taishakuten chuckled, "you seem just as pleased as Xavier."

"I'm more pleased," Zouchouten assured his boss with a smile.

Karura had given birth to baby Sahen Stuart Zouchouten just a month ago, she'd weaned her husband off the coffee (mostly), and the two of them had recently bestowed a generous donation upon the local animal shelter. Karyoubinga was now in third grade and singing better than ever, plus Lola was as affectionate and healthy as could be. Bishamonten was happy for that family, but there was a new problem: the head of Research and Development had practically wallpapered his office in pictures of his wife and now son, and little Sahen was only a month old. Cubicle dwellers lived in fear of being cornered and asked, "Do you want to see the new pictures I took yesterday?"

"And Reginald." Taishakuten patted Bishamonten on the shoulder and observed, "You seem exceedingly cheerful."

"Why wouldn't I, sir?" Bishamonten asked, grinning. "My life is stunningly fantastic."

His wife had gotten a promotion, his son was acing his college courses, and he no longer had to deal with animatronic snowmen for Christmas. His current neighbors thought "Frosty the Snowman" was a terrible song that couldn't be saved even by the addition of a Fender electric. Sure Seiryuu and Hakuryuu had worn him and Shashi down about coming to their party this Christmas, but they were nice young men. They needed to take off those stupid headbands, but they were decent people.

Plus, Bishamonten had found out that his secretary and assistant were lovers! So now he really did know everything that went on in this skyscraper, oh yes. And now that he knew the signs to look for, he'd pegged numerous other people as mates, fuck buddies, or secretly longing for each other. Ha, nobody would fool him twice.

Taishakuten nodded, and then smiled, "My warlords of the boardroom, today's the big day. In just a moment, the fourth Senior Vice President we've all been waiting for will walk through that door, and I assure you, you will all be very pleased by our new major player."

Koumokuten grinned, "Awesome. You know, Darrel was such a loser, always whining about karma and not stepping on the little people. I mean, Nepal? He could've moved to Fiji, but he picked Nepal, what a moron."

"Nepal's a nice country," a new voice came from behind him. "Dad's happy there."

Taishakuten smirked as Bishamonten's, Koumokuten's, and Zouchouten's mouths all dropped open. A black-haired woman was standing in the doorway, wearing a pantsuit and accompanied by a grinning Souma. She was grinning herself, big blue eyes sparkling, and with some sort of whacky low headband/connected barrettes thing in her very long hair.

Zouchouten found his voice first, and incredulously asked, "Kendappa Jikokuten? Little Kendie?"

"Yup!" she chirped, walking in and taking the seat next to him facing Koumokuten. "Wow, you guys look just like I remembered you! Except I'd forgotten how creepy Xavier's eyes are."

Koumokuten opened his mouth to retaliate, looked over at the smirking Taishakuten, and thought better of it. Instead he mumbled, "And how did you get to be the Senior VP of Real Estate?"

"Well, see, Mom and Dad separated when he got accepted to the monastery as a full monk," she said seriously, "but before that, he taught me a lot of basic business principles. When Mom and I came back to the States, I got accepted to a great college and majored in business. Turns out I'm really good at it!

"I built my own company from the ground up, so it's not like I just inherited Dad's position as a girl, that's just dumb. No, I worked hard, and I guess I caught Taishakuten's attention. You all remember the Gandaraja account? Yeah, that was where we encountered each other again," she continued gaily.

"So when he decided to take over my company, he offered me a choice: I could fight him and get steamrollered, or I could join him and be a Senior VP here. He said it was high time he had four Generals again, and hey… who's gonna argue with a much bigger paycheck?" she laughed.

"Ms. Jikokuten," Souma said happily, "you made the right choice! I sure like you a lot already, and I can see Aaron and Reginald are impressed too."

Indeed, Bishamonten was very impressed, but rather annoyed that such maneuverings had been kept from him. He'd been aware that Taishakuten was hiding something big long before the announcement that they'd be getting a new Senior Vice President, and how unfair was that? Wasn't he the most loyal out of everybody?

Oh well. Taishakuten was the king, he could have his way in almost everything.

Bishamonten found himself, an hour later, deciding that he and his pals should squire Kendappa around, since they knew so much. He popped into Zouchouten's office, dragged him away from a phone call with his wife, and endured fretting over, "Sahen didn't want to nurse just now. Should I take him in to see a doctor?"

"He could just be full," Bishamonten pointed out, in overly patient tones. "Sometimes they just aren't hungry, you know. I'm sure he'll nurse soon, they get hungry again pretty fast."

"You're right," Zouchouten sighed. "And I even knew that. But you know how it is, you get worried about your kid."

"Very true," Bishamonten allowed. "When Tenou first went off to college I had nightmares about him overdosing on drugs, or getting alcohol poisoning, or hooking up with some girl with a thousand and one STDs. Even though he'd never do any of that, you still worry."

"I don't even want to think about college," Zouchouten grumbled as they walked to Kendappa's office. "Let me have the infant worries, thanks."

"Hey there," Kendappa greeted when they entered her office, where she was working at her computer. "Something you need?"

"We were wondering if we could give you a tour of the skyscraper," Zouchouten smiled. "Introduce you to various people you might need to know, show you the cafeteria, warn you about some pitfalls to avoid. I know you've met Nina, but you should probably meet everybody else."

"Sounds good to me," she agreed, standing up. "Where to first?"

"You know, Reginald, Kendappa, I think we should have Xavier for this too," Zouchouten said as they all turned to go. "He knows some people better than we do, plus he might get mad if we do this without him. He's touchy like that."

"Hold on, I'll go get him," Bishamonten said over his shoulder, already walking towards Koumokuten's office.

The door was just barely ajar, and being the corporate spymaster, he opened it very quietly to see if he could catch Koumokuten in an act of wrongdoing. And interestingly enough, the Marketing VP was facing the windows, one of his hands in his pocket, his phone to his ear, and talking very quietly.

"Anyway honey," Koumokuten whispered into his phone as Bishamonten tiptoed closer, "we'll have to clean the mansion up before Tamara gets home. …Yeah, that's right, she can't be allowed to see the wall chains."

Bishamonten stood stock still, appalled. Good God… the man was some sort of S & M dungeon master! He'd always kind of suspected this, but damn.

"Babe," Koumokuten was continuing, "y'know, as hot as the candle thing was let's ease off on that, okay? I mean, my chest still hurts. …No no, I didn't say 'never do it again,' just 'ease off on it.' "

Bishamonten was now wondering if he should clap his hands over his ears and run away screaming. Does Taishakuten know about this deviancy?

"…Yeah. Oh yeah. …Uh-huh. Well honey, I have to go. Call me 'Master of your heart' and tell me goodbye, okay? …And goodbye to you, you dominatrix goddess red-hot Amazon babe. See you later, Aguni." Koumokuten hung up, grinning, as Bishamonten pretended to have just opened the door.

"Xavier," he called, "Aaron and I are giving Ms. Jikokuten a tour. Care to join us?" You sick, sick piece of work.

Although… hmm, that time Shashi had handcuffed him to the headboard hadn't been bad in the least. But that had only involved restraints, not pain! Candle wax? That wouldn't be fun at all, and if Aguni ever suggested that to his wife he'd have to protest in the strongest possible terms.

Unaware of Bishamonten's knowledge of his kinky bedroom activities, Koumokuten was replying, "Sure. Have you introduced her to Victor yet? Either she'll be appalled or she'll love him, that usually seems to be the case."

"No, but she'll meet him soon enough," Bishamonten told him, wondering if that black shirt hid serious bandages. "And somehow I have the sense that she'll love him, she seems to have a pretty good sense of humor."

When they came back, Zouchouten was telling Kendappa, "My current assistant's name is Paul, but he's a temp. My actual assistant is my wife, Ellen, but she's on maternity leave."

"Taishakuten lets your have your wife as your assistant?" Kendappa asked incredulously. "Isn't that like Business 101, 'Do not work with your lover'?"

"Probably," he admitted with an unrepentant smile, "but you'll find that he allows a lot of things like that, but only if you've earned them. For example, Xavier calls his wife Aguni all the time and Taishakuten doesn't care at all."

Kendappa murmured, "Huh," and wondered if that meant she might be able to get to know that sexy Nina Souma a bit better. A lot better. Maybe even "know" in the Biblical sense; Kendappa was a lesbian and thought Souma was not only friendly, smart, and kind, but drop-dead sexy. Boy, she liked that short skirt Souma was wearing today.

"Anyway," Zouchouten was saying, "I recently came back from paternity leave, but we decided Ellen should take longer, since Sahen's only a month old."

"Aw, that is so cute," Kendappa cooed. "Is he a sweet baby? And you must really love your wife, I can tell that by the way you talk about her."

Zouchouten beamed, having found another person to talk to about his adored family. As Bishamonten backed away slowly, Zouchouten asked Kendappa, "Would you like to see some pictures? I have a whole folder of this week's shots…"

Koumokuten narrowed his eyes at the new Senior Vice President, clearly suspicious. "I don't think I'll like having a woman joining in our manly discussions of harsh business practices," he muttered, crossing his arms.

Bishamonten gave him a "Be nice" glare and insisted, "Ms. Jikokuten is fully qualified. Don't make me tell Aguni you're being sexist."

Koumokuten sighed resignedly and agreed, "Yeah, yeah. I'll be good." Aguni would probably chain him to the wall when it wasn't his turn, lecture him for hours, and refuse to wear the collar ever again if she ever got wind of that one. Oh, feminism… it could be such a hassle sometimes.

Bishamonten nodded grandly and murmured, "Excellent. You know, Xavier, Nina seems quite infatuated with Kendappa already. We should pay attention to her instincts on –"

"Nina's so lesbian I'm surprised she wears a skirt," Koumokuten snapped. "For fuck's sake, Reginald, she's probably gonna pull an Ellen and Aaron in the mail room with Kendie, or something."

Bishamonten sighed, "Xavier, don't use such language. I'm aware that she's a lesbian! I can tell when people are homosexual," he proclaimed matter-of-factly as Yasha and Kujaku walked past the door, both of their ties askew and grinning.

Koumokuten tracked Bishamonten's secretary and assistant with his gaze, then smirked, "Yes, Reginald. Your gaydar is infallible," he said, as sweetly as he could.

Before Bishamonten could lecture him, Koumokuten ducked out of the door, snickering. Bishamonten was about to go after him and snarl something along the lines of "I'm aware of your little hot wax fetish," but a quick glance at the clock made him abandon that thought. Dear lord, it was a quarter to eleven already!

He waved to get Zouchouten's attention. "Aaron?"

Zouchouten took no notice, just continued with, "And this is Sahen with my wonderful wife again. Ellen just loves birds, which is why he has a Big Bird onesie. This is Sahen with his auntie Karyou, Ellen's sister who she loves so very much –"

"Aaron!"

Zouchouten looked up, rather annoyed that he'd been interrupted in this favorite pastime of his. "Yes?" he asked in a resigned sigh.

"It's almost eleven, Aaron," Bishamonten informed him, heading for the door. "I'm off for the rest of the day, and tomorrow too." Which was indescribably lucky, because then he'd miss all the Karura and Sahen adoration. Well, for today and tomorrow, that was. It would be back in full force the day after that, but oh well.

Zouchouten smiled and urged, "Tell Tenou hello from me."

Bishamonten smiled back and promised, "I will. He'll call you, I'm sure." He walked out the door, whistling a happy little tune, as Kendappa asked, "Who's Tenou?"

"His son," Zouchouten answered fondly. "He's coming back from college for summer vacation today. He's a very sweet young man."

Kendappa smiled, "Aww. Does Reginald have baby pictures that I can see too somewhere?" Kendappa honestly and truly loved baby pictures. Well, she'd hit the jackpot here: she'd found the mother lode – er, father lode.

Zouchouten nodded, clicking to the next batch of Sahen-with-Auntie-Karyou pics, and answered, "Yes, but he's not in any of them. It's a complicated story."

Kendappa's eyebrows quirked as she said, "Now I'm curious."

"Here's the abridged version," Kujaku announced, walking in with his tie fixed now and Yasha trailing him. "Ready? Here goes: twenty years ago Reginald was dating and sleeping with Shashi. She ran off and found out she was pregnant. She had the kid and thought she'd never see his dad again. Reginald moved to Zenmi and twelve years ago he married a wonderful, gorgeous woman he didn't deserve.

"Two years ago, our gay boss was dating Shashi, who'd moved here just a year before. He introduced her to his main honchos and she and Baby Daddy met again. Then Taishakuten proposed to her, but then he realized he was gay and broke it off. Meanwhile, Reginald's marriage was failing, and he was palling around with Tenou, who he hadn't realized was his son.

"Kisshouten, his wife, wanted a divorce, 'cause she knew he still had the hots for Shashi. Aaron here," Kujaku patted Zouchouten's shoulder, "and Xavier schemed to get 'em together, and that Christmas he showed up at her house and they had mad animal sex. Last year they got married, and now they live in Shashi's house with the most awesome neighbors ever," he concluded happily.

Kendappa managed, "What makes the neighbors so awesome?"

"They're musicians," Zouchouten answered for the secretary. "Well, I mean, technically they're a dermatologist and a computer programmer, but their passion is rock. They're quite good at it, and insist on keeping their hair long, probably so they can whip it around in a masculine display of rebellious exuberance."

Kendappa lit up and laughed, "No way. I'm a musician too! I play the keyboard and the harp!"

As Zouchouten promised to ask Tenou to introduce Kendappa to Hakuryuu, Seiryuu, and Ryuu, Yasha shook his head and asked, "Victor… do you ever feel that we're living in some sort of soap opera? It's uncanny."

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A few hours later, Bishamonten smiled in domestic bliss. Tenou had met his parents at the airport all smiles and happy to talk about what he'd been up to lately. He was majoring in music at an out-of-state university, and he was eager to show off all he'd learned. He had still getting been through those pesky generals, but come next year, he could focus on what he really wanted to do.

Bishamonten kicked back in his living room, holding a glass of lemonade while his beloved ruby (that was his pet name for Shashi) read a book called Why Women Should Rule the World. She was into it, and he was tempted to read it after she did, just to see why it was so great. Then again, a women-ruled world might just be a bit better, especially for all those poor female souls in Islamic and other forms of fundamentalist countries.

Across from them (they were sitting on the couch) was a cage that contained another member of the family: Tenou's beloved guinea pig, who he had held for a long time once he's gotten back. The little one had been his first target when he came in the door, and had been pleased to see him too.

Although the Prince-Bishamonten family had gone into the shelter for a pair of sows, they'd left with a boar. He was a Silky mix, which meant he had long fur and a near-train off his rear like some sort of wedding gown. Unlike some longhaired guineas he didn't have super-long locks on his head, but he was definitely a longhair and thus needed extra grooming, which Tenou and his parents were only too happy to do.

His name was Tenma. He was a seal point, a very handsome boy with red eyes, dark gray eyelids, ears, paws, nose and mouth, and otherwise white fur. He was now three years old, and he loved his people. He didn't like carrots, oddly enough, but he was a parsley fiend.

Bishamonten stood up and looked out the bay window, just for the hell of it. Next door, Seiryuu and Hakuryuu tossed a Frisbee on their lawn, shirtless and headbanded as usual. He liked them, but he agreed with Shashi that they probably had some exhibitionistic tendencies. She no longer thought they were incestuous gay lovers, and Bishamonten had laughed and laughed when Tenou had said she used to.

Ryuu raised his sunglasses and said something to his cousins from a lawn chair, his own shirt open and his headband on too. He was reading a comic book, one that was titled "The Adventures of Slug Man." Oh, those crazy comic artists… what would they think of next?

He had brought his iguanas to visit today. He had them on leashes attached to their harnesses, and they were crawling around in the grass looking for and sometimes finding bugs to eat. Their names were Wyvern (the big female) and Draco (the also big but slightly smaller male), and for lizards, they were very affectionate. They adored their owner, but Tenou always felt a bit smug despite himself that he could snuggle Tenma, and Ryuu couldn't snuggle Wyvern and Draco. After all, iguanas were a bit touchy, and tended not to like being held.

And then, a car rolled up in front of the house next to them on the right, two houses down from Bishamonten's. He recalled that today was the day the new owner moved in, as the previous owners had moved out just two days ago. All anybody knew was that she was a single woman, nothing more. Nobody had been home when she looked at the house, but the Ryuu clan was watching the car with interest to see what she was like.

Bishamonten literally jumped as he saw who the new neighbor was: a tall, beautiful woman with masses of long, wavy black hair, a smile on her red lips and holding a pet carrier, which he would bet anything contained a spiky-haired black guinea pig.

"Sha… Sha…"

At her husband's choked noises, Shashi came up behind him and gasped. As they watched, Ryuu and his kin moseyed on over to greet Kisshouten, Wyvern and Draco lagging behind and looking rather confused. Shashi and Bishamonten turned to each other, and unison asked, "How could this have happened?!"

Kujaku, who had kept in contact with Kisshouten, had been aware of this but decided to keep mum, mostly out of curiosity. Would there be explosions, or would there be friendship? He knew that Kisshouten had for the most part moved on, but nobody could really tell what somebody else would do in this situation.

He'd thought about it, and finally said aloud, "This is gonna get interesting! I think I'll watch for a while, James!"

He'd sworn Yasha to secrecy too, and now, at that very moment, both were wondering if they should oh-so-casually drop in on the Rolling Rago Hills, Royalty Drive to be precise. With their boss out of the office, maybe all they had to do was clock out and take a spin down there.

Bishamonten watched as his ex-wife was blocked from view by Hakuryuu and Seiryuu, and finally took a deep breath and said, "I'm going out there. Ruby, she was upset at first in court but you know she got over it. Victor said she won even more awards and was doing well, so maybe she won't throw a fit."

"Well, I'm staying in here," Shashi said firmly. "If all's well you can come back and get me, but I don't want to be yelled at, thank you." She gave him a push towards the door and encouraged, "With witnesses, she might not go berserk when she finds out who she moved in really near to. Maybe you can convince her to calm down."

"Yes… yes, I am good at convincing people to do what I want them to," he agreed, but then pleaded, "Do I really have to do this by myself?"

"Yes you do," she commanded, hands on her hips. "Sexykins, go be manly, and I'll thank you for it in my own special way. You know… the way with the ice cubes that you like so mu–"

"Okay," he said quickly, a pervy grin on his face, and opened the door, then walked over to the little gathering in front of Kisshouten's new house where Hakuryuu was saying, "Oh, we have three cats. We love animals, right Sei?"

"Boy, is that the truth," Seiryuu replied as Bishamonten came ever closer. "And that is like one of the cutest guinea pigs in the world. He has a mohawk! He's a little punk pig, huh?" he joked, and Kisshouten laughed.

"No no, he's just an Abyssinian," she explained proudly. "It's a common breed, and his hair does that naturally, it's a mutation. They think –"

"Kisshouten?"

At Bishamonten's hail, Hakuryuu turned to the left and Seiryuu turned to the right to reveal the gasping artist, holding the carrier up so Puffball could look out. The guinea pig wheeked a greeting, because he remembered that guy!

"Reginald?" his mommy asked incredulously. "What are you doing here?"

"I live two houses down," he told her, pointing. "With Shashi, and Tenou. It's – listen, it's good to see you again, Kisshouten," he said, and he honestly meant it.

He'd often wondered how she was doing, if she was happy after what he'd put her through. He no longer regretted it, but that didn't mean he didn't know he'd been in the wrong. Well, clearly her furry baby was okay at least, he'd often wondered how Puffball was too.

He waited for her to get mad. He waited for her to scream and get into her car, drive away, and resell the house without ever living in it. He waited for some sort of "I can't live near this scumbag!" line and for her to kick him in the balls.

Instead…

"It's good to see you too, Reginald," she smiled, an honest tone to her words. "How are you?"

"I'm very well," he told her, incredibly relieved. "I married Shashi, you of course knew I would. Work is going well, and we got Tenou a guinea pig."

"What color?" Kisshouten asked almost eagerly. "What breed? Male or female? If male, perhaps he and Puffball can play, although of course we'll have to be on the alert for any biting. Sometimes male guinea pigs hate other male guinea pigs," she told the confused Ryuu, Seiryuu, and Hakuryuu.

So apparently, Bishamonten thought, any tension had been smoothed over by their common pet interests. Good! And maybe she'd found someone herself, that was why she was so forgiving.

"Kisshouten," he asked her seriously, "have you, well, moved on? I'm surprised that you're not angry to see me."

"Two years ago," she told him solemnly, "I both hated and loved you. Now I don't love you anymore, but I don't hate you either, Reginald."

"Um, I think we might be missing something here," Ryuu cut in, glancing between Bishamonten and Kisshouten. "Are you, like, former flames or something? I'd like an explanation, please."

"I used to be married to Reginald," Kisshouten explained. "I left him because of Shashi. But you know, I made the right decision. As I told him then, I couldn't put myself through loving a man who loved someone else. So this way, I've grown, and he's grown, and I'm sure there will be awkward moments now, but it was the best thing."

"Dude," Ryuu muttered, "dude, you're like… Oprah-understanding, lady."

Hakuryuu whacked him on the head (lightly, but it was still a whack), and snapped, "Nathan, don't be rude! Apologize, you little caveman."

"OW! Sorry," Ryuu muttered, shooting his oldest cousin a glare. "It was a compliment, you big dummy. Doesn't every woman want to be told she's like Oprah?!"

Kisshouten laughed, and finally replied, "Then thank you, Nathan. To answer your question if I've moved on, Reginald… yes. I've let you go, and I've made some new friends, and while I haven't found someone special yet, I'm all right. And I'm not going to settle or force it.

"I'm sure that someday I'll find that perfect new man," she said firmly. "He's out there, but I'm not going to obsess over finding him. When the time is right, he'll walk into my life and we'll be very happy together. I just have to keep my eyes open."

Hakuryuu glanced at Seiryuu, who glanced right back at him. In unison, they looked back at Kisshouten and beamed. A mature babe on the rebound! One who was also friendly and liked pets, yay.

Let the competition commence, Hakuryuu crowed in his head, smoothing a lock of hair back. Doctors are sexier, Sei. Especially when they also have a body like mine and hair more attractive than yours.

Haku, you poor sap, Seiryuu thought with gleeful pity, nerds make better lovers. Maybe you can console yourself with work, ha ha! After all, I'm the one your boss went out with once.

Kisshouten smiled back, as behind Hakuryuu Bishamonten's mouth dropped open. She wouldn't… would she?

Reginald, his conscience scolded, you almost cheated on that poor woman and married Shashi a month after the divorce was final! If she wants to doom herself to an eternity of guitar riffs, competition, and exhibitionism, she can.

So Bishamonten left Kisshouten to make small talk ("Why yes, I do love music. Handel is my favorite") and went back inside, where Tenou was practicing electric.

"Dad," he grinned, "I didn't hear any yelling so it must be okay, huh?"

Bishamonten considered how to reply to this. Should he say, "Yes son, it's quite all right, because your musical mentors are as we speak hitting on my ex-wife, and unlike your mother she thinks they're charming"? No. He'd instead go with, "Well Tenou, I think it'll all work out. We've buried the hatchet, because Kisshouten is one of those saintly people who can forgive almost anything," he smiled.

"Unlike Mother," Tenou said solemnly, nodding. "When Nathan ran over her pansies she threatened to sue him or slash his tires. I had to talk her out of carrying that threat out, and Nathan thanked me on bended knee."

Bishamonten just smiled some more and chuckled, "Yes Tenou… your mother is something else." And with that he strolled off, whistling.

He passed three framed photos: one of baby Tenou, gurgling happily at the camera and looking even cuter than Sahen (because he was Bishamonten's kid, so of course he was better); a shot of Tenou and his parents, smiling in front of a river; and a wedding photo. In this biggest photograph, Shashi and Bishamonten gave the camera near-incandescent smiles, holding hands with cherry trees in full blossom surrounding them. The sun was shining, and by some fortunate quirk a butterfly had alighted on Shashi's bouquet of red, nearly fuchsia roses that matched her husband's hair.

And on the silver frame, a single phrase from "Someone Like You" was inscribed: "Sometimes It Lasts."

End

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(AN: D'aww. You could cut the sappiness with a knife! No, the main pairing has no basis and makes no sense whatsoever in the manga… but AUs are wonderful things, eh?

The comic book Ryuu was reading is an homage to one of my favorite comic strips, "FoxTrot" by Bill Amend. It hasn't shown up for a while, but Jason Fox, the youngest kid, draws a comic called "The Adventures of Slug Man." Shout-out to Bill Amend!

"Sahen" means "falcon" in Sanskrit. In the first version of this his name was "Andrew," but I've since developed him for other stories and decided that he should have his Sanskrit name, so he's the same in all fics.

So yes, Seiryuu and Hakuryuu get to hit on Kisshouten. I couldn't just leave her hurting and all alone with Puffball, and yes it was stretching it to have her move in near her ex-husband, but c'mon, at least it offers closure. I'm a huge fan of her, so that's why she gets two younger rockers dancing attendance on her. Yes Kisshouten, you're gorgeous! Take advantage of it.

Much thanks to ryuusama's disciple, nga130, and Tata, who at the time of this posting are the only people to have given me feedback on "Adele." Yeah, makes it kinda hard to grow as a writer when no one else tells you what they think. If this was so bad, why? If you liked at least parts of it, what should I keep doing?

I do have a semi-sequel posted. I say "semi-sequel" because it's mostly everybody else's backstories, such as the unholy meeting of Koumokuten and Aguni, Kujaku singing Lady Gaga's "Lovegame" to Yasha, and Karura's reaction to the giant trove of love letters from Zouchouten that suddenly appeared on her computer. And, to bribe people into reading it… Taishakuten/Lord Ashura. With Ashura here, there, and everywhere!

Not to mention Vahyu and Varuna dealing with their evil boss, Dr. Hakuryuu at the clinic and Seiryuu under attack from a Chinese hacker [and Ryuu versus the in crowd], and Tenou crushing on Kendappa while Souma does the same. And even Tentei making a Bishamonten voodoo doll as Kisshouten moves on, and Kahra and Kumaraten adjusting to life with Shashi's new husband.

Read "Adele: Side Stories," I beg of you. Please? It's more humorous than this one, very little angst. More humor than romance, really.)