SURPRISE! :D Have an epilogue! ...That I wrote on Monday. (Hooray for holidays!) XD Yeah, this wasn't a part of the original draft, and I did mean for the story to end on chapter 21, but frumouttamimind's comments about how quickly Yakko had adjusted to freedom caused me to start thinking. And thus plot bunny which lead to this. (Did anyone notice that I switched "Pieces" back to "in-progress" again on Monday?) But, this is it! There will be no more updates after this! So, enjoy, and thanks for all the support! :D (Oh, and we're in Yakko's POV)
HA! Fooled ya lawyers! Bet you thought you didn't have to worry about this story anymore! ...But, please don't sue me still!
He couldn't hide it forever. But, by God, he was still going to try.
Yakko knew not telling anyone was stupid. He knew from past experiences that pushing away his emotions was a bad thing. But, he really wasn't this time. He was, with some reluctance, talking to Scratchy on doctor's orders. He just didn't want to worry his sibs was all.
It had been about two weeks since the terror had come to an end, and Yakko had been acting like he was adjusting well to being free after three weeks of captivity. Sure, he did make some of the effects show; he jump at sudden noises, his temper was shorter, though he tried to keep it in check, and he was still adjusting to eating when he pleased (Wakko had been a huge help with the last one).
The nightmares, however, he'd been hiding. From everyone. They were nothing more than him remembering parts of what had happened, be it the actual kidnapping or the captivity, but the felt so real. Every morning Yakko was startled to find he was home and safe, and so were his sibs. Luckily, he didn't seem to be talking in his sleep, as his sibs seemed blissfully unaware of Yakko's night terrors. Not that he minded. He just wanted everything to get as close to normal as possible as soon as possible. The only change he welcomed was that they were now visiting Charlie weekly.
There were other things he hid from his sibs, such as the blanks. They didn't occur often enough that Scratchy felt like putting him back on medicine, so he decided not to tell them. He didn't want them worrying about him; they'd been through enough recently. He needed to be the strong one. So, he ignored everything, including the paranoia that seemed to say "it's not over yet", or the detached feeling he got when he saw everyone going about their lives. He just swallowed it down with a smile, and joked around like everyone expected him to act.
He walked back to the tower from one of Scratchy's sessions, shivering slightly as a breeze chilled him. It was still late summer, but the first signs of fall were approaching, even if seasons didn't change too much in Burbank. He figured Dot would be home by now, and he was already thinking of things they could do that evening. See a movie, run about the lot, play Plotz a visit...he smiled slightly, but even then, with no one around to see, it felt forced and unnatural.
He walked back into the tower. "Sibs?" He called out, but got no reply. He walked further into the tower, but saw no sign of anyone. "Wakko? Dot?" He tried again, but to no avail.
Panic set it. They were gone without a trace, and Yakko had no idea where they could be. He felt his heart pound in his chest, and his head darted from side to side, trying to catch a glimpse of them. His mind became a maelstrom.
They're gone! But where could they be? Something's happened to them again, I know it! They could be hurt, they could be scared, they could be...Someone took them, and I wasn't here to stop it. What kind of brother am I?
"Sibs!" He cried out again, his voice cracking slightly. He turned his head to the right, expecting the metal walls of the tower, but instead saw an all-to-familiar park at dusk. He looked to his left, and saw the knotted old tree where it all began.
This...This is impossible! This already happened, and I was inside just a second ago! It didn't matter what his brain told him, Yakko's eyes saw nothing but the park the night when all Hell broke loose. He could see Wakko hiding in the tree, Dot's retreating back as she ran for help, and a shadowed figure that, despite having his face obscured, Yakko knew with 100% certainty who it was.
He felt himself start to run, his legs almost working separate from his mind, but no matter where he ran, Yakko kept coming back to the place he started at. It felt like he was trapped in a giant fishbowl.
"Yakko!" Wakko's voice suddenly called out. Yakko turned towards the sound to see a very confused Wakko staring back at him. But, there was someone behind him, someone hidden in the shadows.
"Wakko! Look out!" Yakko cried, and started to run towards his brother, but everything suddenly went black.
"Do you think he's okay?"
"He should be. I didn't hit him that hard."
Yakko started to open his eyes at the sound of his sibling's voices, but at first saw nothing but stars.
"Hey, look! Stars!" Wakko cried out. Right. When I see stars, so do others.
"That's good. It means he's waking up," Dot replied, then placed a hand on Yakko's shoulder. "You okay?"
"Huh? What?" Yakko muttered stupidly as his vision cleared. He was lying on the couch, back at the water tower, with a cool cloth on his forehead, and a blanket covering him. He sat up slowly, resting his back on the pillows that had been supporting his head. He looked up at his concerned sibling's faces.
"Wakko, Dot! You're okay!" Yakko exclaimed happily. "Where did you guys go?" The confusion on Wakko and Dot's faces grew.
"We were in the other room. Wakko was having me listen to a mix he just made," Dot said.
Wakko nodded before continuing. "We didn't hear you come in until you started yelling our names."
"But, I was outside! In the park!" Yakko said, and Wakko and Dot glanced at each other. "And it was dark out. What time is it? 8? 9?"
"It's 5:30," Dot deadpanned.
"You were only out for about five minutes," Wakko added.
"But that doesn't make any sense!" Yakko exclaimed, but then put some thought to it. "None of it does. I came home, couldn't find you two, got worried, and next thing I know, I'm back at the park, and..."
"Joel was there?" Wakko finished, and Yakko flinched slightly at the name before nodding.
Wakko and Dot looked at each other and at the same time said "Flashback."
"You were having a flashback," Dot explains. "You were reliving the memory as though you were there. Scratchy warned us about them."
"Great, now I get to worry about PTSD," Yakko deadpanned.
"Actually, you don't have it yet. You haven't been showing symptoms for 30 days," Wakko said, and Yakko and Dot turned to look at him in surprise. "What? I read the pamphlet Scratchy gave us."
"You actually read that?" Dot says, looking a little shocked.
"You read?" Yakko deadpanned, and Wakko stuck his tongue out in response.
"Yes, I did. I was worried about you, Yakko. I still am worried about you. You act like everything is fine," Wakko said, and Dot nodded in agreement.
"Everything is fine," Yakko said dismissively, but got a hard glare from his sibs in return.
"Yakko you were held captive for three weeks! No one could go through that and be 'fine' afterword!" Dot said. "Besides, we know about the nightmares."
"And the blanks, and the changes in your mood," Wakko added.
Yakko hung his head in defeat. "I can't keep anything from you guys, can I?" He said, chuckling slightly.
"Nope," Dot said, looking slightly smug, though the look fell quickly. "Yakko, you realize you can talk to us, right? I thought you knew that already."
"Yeah, I know, I know. I just didn't want to worry you guys," Yakko admitted.
"Well, we were already worried," Wakko said.
"And you hiding things kinda made it worse," Dot added.
"Ain't that ironic?" Yakko deadpanned, and grinned when it got a light chuckle out of his sibs. "But, the worst is over now," He said, and he suddenly felt better, like a weight he didn't even realize was there was suddenly removed from his chest.
"Yep!" Wakko replied, looking happy as a light score started up in the background.
"Please don't start that 'Never Give Up Hope' song!' Dot said, exasperated, and the music quickly cut out.
"Fine," Wakko said, pouting slightly, but began laughing as Yakko ruffled his cap. And as Yakko gave his first genuine smile in weeks, he realized his lie was coming true. Everything was just fine.
Again, thank you all for all the love you've given this story! You gave me 100 reviews for the first time ever! And I do read and appreciate every single review I get. (I actually haven't deleted a single review alert email I've ever gotten. They're all in a special folder in my email. XD) You all have really made sharing this story special. (Can't you hear the sappy music playing in the background? XD) Until next time this is MusicGeek764 signing off (for real this time!) saying "Goodnight everybody!" :D