December

"Come on, Sutton," Emma urged, "You know this stuff."

They were sitting in Sutton's room studying for their final exams. To everyone's surprise they'd actually managed to complete the ridiculous number of make-up assignments they had to do. Even more surprising, they were actually excelling in their classes. Emma was maintaining her straight A average and Sutton, even more surprisingly, only had A's and B's.

Things had been going pretty well over the past two months. Ted and Kristin had managed to work things out and couldn't be happier. It had been a process and there was a lot of fighting in the beginning and there had been times where it seemed like everything would end, but they always managed to work it out in the end and now it seemed like nothing had happened at all.

Even Laurel and Sutton had managed to work out their differences. They'd had a very long and very secret talk. It had happened while Emma was finalizing her adoption into the Mercer family. She had left the two sisters in their respective bedrooms, neither one showing any signs of talking to the other. When she came back, Sutton and Laurel were sitting on the couch in the living room acting like they were best friends. She could tell by their swollen eyes and red faces that both had been reduced to tears, but neither one even hinted at what had occurred.

Thayer and Mads, however, hadn't had it so easy. Rebecca had skipped town a couple days after the whole truth came out. Apparently, she did not want to find out how much Emma and Sutton were willing to share about what she did to them. Alec was still behind bars for Derek's murder and it didn't look like he was going to get out. Nevertheless, Thayer and Mads had figured out a way to make it work. Thayer had been granted access to his dad's bank accounts and kept him and Mads in their own home. Ted was checked in on them every so often to make sure they were okay, but Thayer had made it very clear that he didn't want his help unless it was absolutely necessary. Things could be better, but they could also be a hell of a lot worse.

"But I don't, Emma," Sutton sighed, "I'm not as smart as you."

"I don't buy that," Emma retorted.

"Have you seen my grades?"

"You're lazy," Emma stated, "Not stupid."

"I take offense to that."

"Good. What are you going to do about it?"

Sutton sighed and started to focus, "Atomic radius increases down a group and across a period."

"Why?"

"Across a period each element has the same number of electron shells, but there are more protons to pull on the valence electrons, so there is more attraction. Down a period electrons are farther away from the nucleus, so there is less attraction."

"Good, but I don't get why I have to fight you to get an answer. You're almost always correct. Why don't you believe you can do this?"

"I don't know," Sutton admitted, getting up from her seat and walking over to the window, "I guess it's just easier that way. The less I know, the less expectation there is for me."

"So you've been an average student for all of these years because you didn't want to let anyone down."

"You can't disappoint someone who doesn't have any expectations for you."

"Except yourself," Emma muttered, "Don't you want to go to college?"

Sutton was silent.

"You didn't, did you?"

"Mom and Dad were always pushing it on me," Sutton responded, throwing her hands up in the air and pacing the room, "That was always how they tried to improve my grades. They kept saying, 'You won't get into college if you don't try harder.' When you're doing everything to rebel against your parents, sometimes you lose sight of what you actually want."

"What do you want?"

"I want to prove everyone wrong," Sutton stated, turning to look at her sister, "I want everyone to stop telling me how little I'm capable of. I guess I just want to be taken seriously again."

"Okay then explain electronegativity to me."

Sutton went back to her seat and focused on Emma. This was her chance to show everyone what she was made of. It was her chance to prove all of those teachers who'd said she would never make anything of herself just how wrong they were. She had no clue if she could actually do it, but she could try. She took a deep breath, "Electronegativity…"


A week later, Sutton walked into her house as nervous as she'd ever been. Even though her parents had given both her and Emma permission to hang out with Mads after school today, she didn't want to push the boundary. The two of them had been on house arrest for almost two months and today was their first parole hearing. She'd taken her last final and grades were supposed to be up. Depending on how well she and Emma did, their prison sentence might be reconsidered.

Emma was not the wildcard in this. Even with her three AP classes she had managed to maintain straight A's. Both of them knew that. It was Sutton's success that would determine their future. A lot of Sutton's assignments still weren't in the grade book. She had no idea where she was going to end up in any of her classes. She hoped for a C average, but in some classes she wasn't even sure she'd managed that.

"Sutton, Emma, is that you?" Kristin's voice carried from the living room.

"Yeah Mom," Sutton called.

"Could the two of you come in here for a second?"

Sutton and Emma looked at each other warily. This could be the moment of truth for them. They grabbed each other's hand and walked toward them. As they entered, Sutton couldn't help but notice how serious they both looked. They took a seat on the couch together, but neither one dared to speak.

"You know grades for the two of you were posted about fifteen minutes ago," her dad began.

Sutton felt the knot in her stomach tighten tenfold. This was the moment of truth for them. She gulped down the bile rising in her throat and slowed her breathing. She couldn't let them see how nervous she was about this.

Kristin stepped up to Emma and handed her a sheet of paper with a smile. Under her breath, Sutton heard her mom whisper, "Congratulations."

A moment later, Ted stepped up to her and gave Sutton her own sheet of paper. She knew it was her report card and she tried to find any hint in his face as to what the result had been. Unfortunately, there was nothing there. In fact, he almost looked angry. Sutton gulped again before glancing down at the slip of paper.

Sutton couldn't believe it. She had to keep looking at the name at the top of the grade report. Sure enough it always said Sutton Mercer, but she still didn't understand how this had happened. She looked at Emma, who was looking at her curiously.

She looked at her parents, "Is this a joke?"

Kristin shook her head.

"So this really is my report card?"

Ted nodded his head.

She looked back at Emma and smiled. She handed her the piece of paper and waited for her reaction. Emma smiled and simply said, "Congratulations Sutton."

"Congratulations? That's all I get from you. I just got straight A's, Emma. Do you know how incredible that is?"

"I always knew you could do it. It was just a matter of getting you to realize it as well."

Sutton smiled back at her, "Thanks."

"For what?"

"Reminding me what I really wanted."

They pulled each other into a hug, which they'd been doing a lot of lately. Ever since the truth came out all those weeks ago the two of them had been basically inseparable. They still bickered sometimes, but in the end they were sisters. Nothing could change that. As they released each other they both looked at Ted and Kristin. This was exactly what needed to happen to get their sentence lifted.

"What?" Ted questioned, "Oh, you think just because you get straight A's we're going to lift your grounding."

"No," Emma denied.

"But we were kind of hoping you'd consider it," Sutton finished.

"You two have been pretty good," Ted conceded.

"Please Dad," Sutton pleaded.

"What do you think, Kristin? Have these two earned it?"

"I think they've earned a little trust back."

"How about full phone and TV privileges and we give you a 10:30 curfew? Does that sound fair?"

Both twins nodded. Sutton didn't dare push the curfew even though she thought it was a little early. She had run away from home and asked her twin to take her place to keep her parents from knowing. She'd plotted to destroy her whole family in order to gain favor with Rebecca. She still couldn't believe she'd fallen for that woman's lies. It had just been so easy. They looked similar. They seemed to think the same way. Rebecca could've been her mother, but she wasn't and even after almost two months that was a hard pill to swallow.

"Good," Kristin stated, "now I'm assuming that both of you have somewhere you'd rather be than in this house?"

Both twins perked up. Sutton knew Emma was itching for a real date with Ethan and she wanted one for them. The two of them had been more than obnoxious and nauseating in the hallway at school. It wasn't their fault. They had been banned from seeing each other for two months now. It just meant they had to be more in love with each other at school. To Emma's credit, she did try and minimize it when Sutton was around and Sutton tried to be around them as little as possible. Still, there were times when Ethan got a little too obsessed with throwing it in her face and she'd heard Emma scold him more than a few times.

It was nice to know her sister was conscious of their history, but also didn't let it get in the way of their relationship. She'd heard him give him the same scolding for pushing things too far even when Ethan hadn't known Sutton was around. They even talked about Ethan and her relationship. Of course it got awkward at times, but Sutton got the feeling Emma knew she wasn't a threat anymore.

"We'll leave the two of you to figure out your plans," Ted explained as he walked out of the room. Kristin followed, leaving the two girls to figure out their plans. Sutton was fully prepared for her sister to ask for the car keys to see Ethan. They hadn't been on more than two official dates and they still hadn't…sealed the deal. She was fully prepared to relinquish the keys and get left at home. For once she didn't mind it. She was tired and a night in seemed like the perfect way to spend her evening.

"So," Emma stated, turning to Sutton as soon as their parents were gone, "How are we going to celebrate?"

"Come again?"

"Sutton, we just got out of a three month grounding a month early. We just proved everyone wrong. That calls for celebration."

"I just assumed you were going to ask me for the keys and head off to see your boyfriend."

"Sutton I wouldn't abandon you on our first night free. I can always meet up with Ethan tomorrow."

"Seriously Emma I was just planning on staying in tonight."

"Are you feeling alright?"

"I'm fine. Why would you ask that?"

"Sutton," Emma stated, "This whole community is obsessed with public functions. I went to a party the second day I was here. The next week was the father-daughter dance. Then there was Homecoming and the Ballet Fundraiser and the Black and White Ball. It's so ridiculous it's almost an addiction."

"I'm tired. OK? I actually studied for my finals and it took a lot out of me. Who knew hard work would be so tiring?"

"But also rewarding. Our grades are the reason we got let out early."

"Very true," Sutton acknowledged, "Which is why you should celebrate tonight."

"It's why we should celebrate," Emma corrected.

"I'm celebrating by absconding with the television remote and indulging in Jersey Shore and Gossip Girl all night. Just because I don't have any other plans, doesn't mean you shouldn't make some."

"Alright I'll call Ethan and tell him," Emma stated.

Her sister hopped off of the couch and bounded toward her own bedroom. Sutton too got up from the sofa and headed in that direction. All she wanted to do was collapse on her soft sheets and relax for the next three hours. Emma had pushed her to her limit this past week getting her ready for finals. Now her reward was not thinking about anything but mindless television and the latest gossip on all of the major celebrities. When did she get so boring?


A/N: The long awaited epilogue to my previous story, "Too Much." I'm sorry it took so long to post, but I've been suffering from serious writer's block. Anyways, here it is and I hope all of you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.