72. Une Nouvelle Responsabilité(A New Responsibility)

Rachel looked out her bedroom window as she sat in her warm bed. The snow from the night before had stopped and covered the world in white. The leafless trees were coated with a thick layer of the frozen precipitation. It looked like a Christmas Morning. Icicles hung from the other houses in the neighborhood and Rachel noticed extra cars in various driveways. Probably families visiting their loved ones.

The sun was out and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. She hated sunny days but it was a slight bit more pleasant to look at when there was snow covering the earth.

Rachel glanced at her clock and saw that it was still not quite ten in the morning. She was surprised that she had slept in so much.

When the grogginess had cleared from her brain she recalled the previous night. Quickly she jumped out of bed, ignoring the freezing cold that hit her the moment she left the shelter of her blankets.

She threw on her short bathrobe that didn't provide too much warmth and went downstairs.

She was shivering by the time she reached the front door. Wishing she had worn warmer clothes to bed she checked to see if it was still there.

The gift was still there, so was the photo.

It hadn't been a dream.

Rachel hadn't exactly believed she imagined her meeting with her mom, but she wanted to be sure. The likeliness of Arella coming back was slim so Rachel didn't want to get her hopes up that it had indeed happened. Apparently it had.

Rachel didn't know what to think.

Should she accept Arella's proposition? She had no idea.

As bad as it was to say, Rachel didn't feel anything towards the woman. Yes, Arella had given birth to her and raised her as a young child. That was all good and true but Rachel hadn't attempted to love or even tolerate the young woman for eleven years. Ever since she had decided to feel nothing she had made herself feel nothing for the woman who carried her as a baby. When she left it caused Rachel to resent her, then feel nothing towards her yet again. Arella had explained herself and regardless of whether Rachel thought her reasoning was good or not, she had a hard time feeling connected to her. She had a familiar face but an unfamiliar role.

Rachel had no idea what she was going to do.

Arella had made a proposal, a tempting one, but Rachel was not sure what she was going to do about it. It was a hard choice to make and it wasn't going to be easy.

Staring at the gift Rachel almost opened it but stopped instead. She wasn't sure why, but she didn't want to open it. She had had enough surprises for the day.

So instead of revealing the contents of the box she went back upstairs and changed her pants into warm sweatpants and a sweater, then tied her long purple hair up into a loose ponytail. As she briefly looked in the mirror she saw what she always saw.

A short, pale teenager, very lean and muscular from her vigorous and sometimes agonizing training, who had a strange appearance and an even stranger life.

One thing was different though; the girl Rachel usually saw was caged and trapped; now the girl that stared back at her had a choice.

A choice.

She had had choices before, but never in the matter of her future. Suddenly she did.

Scared at the thought Rachel whipped away from the mirror in a hurry and made her way back downstairs.

She didn't want to think about it. She had a few days to make the decision. Arella had given Rachel her cell phone number to call her if she decided to take her offer. The slip of paper felt as if it was burning in her pocket, she was so aware of it.

Trying to get her mind off of it, Rachel put some boiling water on the kettle to make tea and planned on drinking it then meditating to calm herself down.

"I can't believe this." She muttered.

The feeling of being troubled was not very pleasant.

As she waiting for her tea to be ready her cell phone rang, they didn't have a landline at the house; Trigon thought it was too risky, so cell phones were a must.

She checked who was calling.

Trigon.

Rachel stiffened. Did he know what had happen that night? Was he going to kill her? Was he going to kill Arella?

She picked up her phone and answered in her usual monotone,

"Yes?"

"Rachel, I assume that the house is all in order." Trigon asked in his deep, somewhat scary voice. Rachel wasn't quite scared though, she was used to his voice, she was just worried he would be able to tell that something had happened.

"You assume right." Rachel confirmed, "Everything is as it should be. I made sure yesterday morning that your shipment would be sent out. I was sure to observe and check everything. Nothing was out of order."

"Perfect," Trigon replied, "On the 27th I need you to meet with—"

"Madame Rouge, yes I know." Rachel interrupted, cringing at the woman's name. Rachel had met her once when she was nine and never had taken a liking to her, "I'll stand in your place and make a deal with her."

"And what deal is that?"

"To make sure that 'The Brain' is on our side." Rachel answered, "I won't barter anything of too much use and make sure that Rouge hands over enough information so that I can get one of your men to break into their classified data."

"Exactly." Trigon agreed, "You are eighteen now and I think it's about time you and I become partners."

"Me? Equal to you?" Rachel questioned, "That doesn't sound like something you would want."

"You would be equal to me in the eyes of our men, between us I am above you, but you need to learn how to lead if you take over one day."

"Of course." Rachel conceded, "We will talk about this when you come back."

"Fine," Trigon said, not saying goodbye before hanging up.

Rachel put her phone away.

Suddenly her choice became clear. Her father wanted to move her up in the gang. Great.

Her phone began buzzing again. Rachel raised an eyebrow wondering why Trigon was calling again. There didn't seem to be a point but she answered anyways.

"Yes?" Rachel said, she expected to hear a low voice but was greeted with a very different one.

"Hello Friend Rachel! Merry Christmas, would you happen to be free at this moment?"

73. Cadeaux de la Sur Déplacée(Gifts from the Moved On)

Vic had been up for a while. His dad had woken him up early, unintentionally of course, by dropping multiple things and attempting to make breakfast. Vic had sighed and dragged himself out of bed to see what on earth his father was doing.

It ended up with Vic having to instruct Silas on how to clean up his mess and Vic taking the initiative and making breakfast instead. He had to admit he did make the best waffles.

They sat at the table and Vic brought the plate of food to his father, filled with bacon eggs and waffles.

"Merry Christmas Dad, eat whatever you want. I made plenty." Vic grinned handing it over.

"I don't know how I've been surviving without you." Silas said, marveling at the spread.

"With difficulty obviously." Vic joked, "No one prepares meat like I do."

Silas agreed and they both began to dig in.

Vic was in heaven, he didn't normally have the time to cook like this, he was usually in a rush and had to deal with take out. Not Christmas, he had time to cook and make breakfasts for people. He wasn't much good at making dinner, but morning meals were his specialty. His mom had taught him since he was young.

"I know we said we weren't going to be doing this this year but…" Silas trailed off, then pointed to the small faux Christmas tree Pam had left. There was a small wrapped box underneath it.

"Dad." Vic said sternly, "We agreed. No presents remember?"

"I know, I know," Silas insisted, "But this is to make up for all the times you've had to nurse a drunk, good for nothing father."

"I don't have anything for you." Vic pointed out.

"You've given me enough this past year."

"Still—" Vic tried to protest further but Silas cut him off.

"Vic, its fine. Your mom wanted you to have this."

Vic perked up at the mention of his late mother and went cautiously over to the tree. When he picked up the box he jiggled it, a habit he had picked up when he was young, and heard a noise. It was muffled and Vic had no idea what it could be.

"Well come on, open it." Silas prodded.

"Alright chill." Vic groaned as he opened it.

Inside the prettily wrapped paper was a simple key ring with one key and a label attached. On the label was an address in Jump City that Vic had never been to.

"What is this for?" Vic asked curiously.

"Me and your mother had a storage containment full of stuff. We wanted to give it to you when the time was right, even though she isn't here for it, I think now is a good time. We collected things for your garage, y'know car things. Tools, parts, things like that. We knew that you wanted to open that garage and we saved things from our lab so there are a ton of robotics equipment that you can play around with. I know it's not much but it might help you start the garage up quicker—ooff!"

Vic cut him off with a violent hug and held to his father tightly.

"Thank you."

"No problem." His father returned, "Your face right now reminds me of when you were a kid and were opening your gifts under the tree. Eleanor knew how to make it perfect. If she were here…"

"She is." Vic assured him, "She collected all this stuff right? This is as much from her as it is you. So thanks Dad, and thanks Mom."

His dad started to tear up, and then forced himself to stop and look at Vic.

"No problem."

They spent the rest of the early morning watching movies and laughing over the pure stupidity of some of the characters. It was nice; it was also the closest thing Vic had gotten to family in the past months.

Just as he was about to put in "It's A Wonderful Life" when his cell phone rang. Vic looked at his phone strangely; he wasn't used to people calling him. He didn't bother paying extra per month for caller ID so he answered the phone with no idea who it was.

"Hello?"

"Happiest Holiday Greetings Friend Victor, are you busy?"

74. Comment Faire pour être Digne (How to be Worthy)

Richard was still sleeping when Alfred had dragged him out of bed. It had been a fairly unpleasant experience being practically pulled across the house in his boxers and plopped in a dining room chair.

Bruce sat at the other side of the table smirking.

"Wipe that smug look off your face." Richard grumbled, embarrassed to be sitting in front of breakfast wearing nothing but his underwear.

Bruce did not.

"Why did Alfred do that?" Richard asked groggily.

"Well I figured you needed to get used to waking up earlier if you are indeed going to be going to be working and training under me."

Richard frowned, that was a pretty decent reason he had to admit.

"Fine," He conceded.

"Glad you aren't fighting this."

"It's too early in the morning for it to be worth it." Richard sighed, "Believe me, once it's a little later in the day, I won't be so forgiving." He took a bite from the piping hot sausage on his plate.

"I wouldn't expect any less."

"So," Richard asked between bites, "What do I have to do?"

"In regards to working for the company?" Bruce questioned.

"Yeah." Richard confirmed, scarfing down some pancakes.

"Well you'll have to graduate for one thing. Not going on to post-secondary isn't an option. While you're earning your degree you'd have to work and train under me as well as other company staff. Once you finished getting your degree and training, you'll get a permanent job and eventually work your way up to taking over when I decide I'm bored of leading a multi-billion dollar company." Bruce explained.

"Man, sounds like a lot of crap to go through." Richard yawned.

"But it is what it is." Bruce said, finalizing the requirements. Obviously there was no room for negotiation.

"I guess so." Richard replied, "I'm guessing the next few years are going to be really hard."

"No harder than what you've already been through, just a lot more school work involved." Bruce pointed out.

"Ah." He answered.

"By the way, your friend called about fifteen minutes ago." Bruce informed him, changing the subject suddenly quickly.

"Huh? Who?"

"Kori Anders, or I guess she's not considered your friend, is she?"

Richard's face went red,

"Why didn't you tell me she called?"

"Forgot." His adoptive father said simply, while sipping his tea.

"Augh, you're impossible." Richard groaned getting up to call his girlfriend.

"I try."

75. Ne Voulant Pas Admettre(Not Wanting to Admit It)

Jinx had gone home pretty late last night. She had gotten caught up in everything going on with Vic, Silas and Pam. Despite herself, she had a pretty good time. And surprisingly no beer was necessary.

Vic had offered her to stay the night and she had obviously refused. He had also offered to drive her home, to which she also refused. Instead he settled for walking her to the bus stop and making sure she got on safe. Not that she needed protecting or anything.

On the way back she had thought about everything, those were good people. Not perfect people, but good ones. Jinx had to admit, they weren't as stuffy as she thought they would be.

Christmas still wasn't exactly her thing, but she did find herself liking Vic's family and friend. Pam had been cool. When she found out that she was one of her teachers she had been extremely sceptical, but she wasn't that bad. In fact Jinx had liked her a lot. She appreciated that Silas hadn't asked about her hair or anything either, that was generally a common topic for adults when they saw her.

Those movies they had watched were weird though, apparently they were "Christmas Classics". If classic meant corny, badly animated children's movies, and black and white movies with creepy characters then they definitely were classic. Pam had shared her complaints but the two indulged Silas and Vic, silently ridiculing the movie together when the other two weren't paying attention.

Jinx had gotten home before everyone else and was asleep before they even came back. When she woke up it was to them stumbling in stupidly at nine in the morning.

She had raised an eyebrow and mocked their obviously idiotic states and let them be, planning on making their hangovers as bad as possible later on.

Jinx looked in the mini fridge she kept in her room and been disappointed. Nothing in there was as good as that turkey had been last night. It had been her first time trying the food and she had now decided that it was not her last either. She would have it again.

Dissatisfied with the old pizza and cold beer in the fridge she plopped onto her bed and smiled without realizing it.

Of course once she did she forced herself to glare and look as displeased as possible.

Damn. She wasn't unhappy. That was sorta new.

Jinx grabbed the pillow next to her and covered her face with it violently. She had to snap out of this, it was weird and it probably meant she was going mad.

Then her phone rang.

76. Enfant au Coeur(Child at Heart)

Gar had woken up super early, maybe it was childish, but Christmas was the best part of the whole year. He didn't even have to set his alarm clock like he usually did, it was like his brain was wired to wake up early on the one morning of the year he would never be tired.

The only thing was Steve and Rita did not share his sentiments. They were just like his parents; they liked showering and cleaning themselves up before going downstairs to eat breakfast. They had a set time for when Gar was allowed to wake them up. (which was very three year old but he didn't care) They also insisted that they had to eat breakfast and be completely ready before going to the tree.

It was annoying but Gar had gotten used to it when he was a kid with his parents. After they had died he hadn't had Christmas's really so now that he was back to a similar routine it was pretty sweet.

It was already later morning when Rita and Steve had told him he could go downstairs.

They weren't an incredibly wealthy family, but they had enough that they could exchange gifts with each other without feeling guilty for accepting them.

Rita had given the best presents; she knew the most about the two men in her life. Maybe it was a woman thing, or maybe a mother thing, but they all always seemed to know exactly what to buy others. Steve and Gar had been pleased with her choices.

Steve was pretty much the opposite. He, as Gar had always known, was a little emotionally constipated. He gave very safe gifts, but Gar could tell he put some thought into them.

Gar gave the silly presents, the kind that made Rita laugh. He wrapped Steve's gift which was put in a box filled with underwear. Steve had not enjoyed going through the assorted undergarments just to find the present. Rita had found it hilarious which was always a nice touch. Gar lived to entertain after all.

By the time they were done it was almost noon. To most people's standards, it was probably a small Christmas, but to Gar it was huge. Feelings of gratitude rushed through his veins and he felt as if he were on cloud nine.

"Thanks you guys." Gar grinned largely.

Rita pulled him and her husband into a somewhat awkward group hug and replied,

"It was my pleasure."

"I'm really glad I came to live with you guys." Gar admitted shyly as they pulled apart.

"We are too." Rita said warmly, "Aren't we Steve?"

Steve met Gar's eyes and hesitated. Gar understood though, it was hard for his foster father, just as it was for him.

"…Yeah."

Gar put his fist out and Steve stared at it curiously, like it was an alien object.

"It's a fist bump," Gar explained, slightly exasperated.

"I'm not doing that."

Gar stuck his tongue out jokingly,

"Kill joy."

The phone rang suddenly causing Rita to squeak in surprise then checked who was calling.

"Do you know an Anders?" She asked.

"Kori?"

"I don't know, answer it." Rita shrugged.

Gar picked up the phone,

"Hello?"

"Friend Gar, I was calling to inquire to see if you should wish to take part in an exchanging of gifts between you and our other mutual friends." Kori said quickly, sounding extremely pleased.

"Um, I dunno Kori. I don't have any presents to exchange." Gar said uncertainly.

"Nor does anyone other than me, so I suppose gift exchange is not the correct way of saying it. But I have boxes filled with joy for all of you and I should like to meet up with you all and give them to you."

"Where did you want to meet?"

"At the park near the hospital."

Gar automatically frowned when the hospital, simply due to the amount of time he had spent in those types of places over the years.

"Yeah that's fine. When?"

"In perhaps an hour, if you can make it."

"No problem. I'll see you then."

"Goodbye."

Gar hung up the phone to see his foster parents staring at him strangely.

"And here I was thinking that you liked Rachel." Rita mused.

"Who's Rachel?" Steve asked.

"Omigosh, dude it's just Kori, and she likes Richard." Gar protested.

"So you do like Rachel." Rita smiled, looking relieved.

"Yes, I mean, no, I mean, why are you even asking me this?"

"Just making sure." Rita said innocently.

"Anyways, is it OK if I meet up with my friends for a couple hours? Kori has gifts for all of us."

"Go ahead, just be home for dinner." Rita agreed.

"Thanks!" He said pumping his fists, maybe a little bit too excited to see everyone.

And he ran out of the house to get to the park.

Steve stood in the kitchen, dumbfounded.

"So who's Rachel again?"

77. Glorieux (Glorious)

Kori skipped across the sidewalk, very pleased with the Christmas covered in white. It was a beautiful day and she was ecstatic.

Her day had begun quite early, at five in the morning to be exact. She had made breakfast for Galfore and Kaylea, which they had enjoyed immensely, though her sister would never admit it. Those two were the only people in the world who shared her strange taste for food. Perhaps it was because she had combined the cooking of the many places she'd lived. Regardless it was a very pleasant meal.

They had then opened gifts, her parents had sent presents from their travels, the fact that they had not come home upset Kori but she would not be put out because of her parents. Galfore had been most generous in his gift giving and had greatly enjoyed the ones Kori had bestowed him with. Kaylea had been less bitter, but still begrudgingly thanked Kori for the gifts.

Now Kori was skipping across the sidewalk on her way to the park to meet the others. With her bag of gifts on her back she felt very much like Santa Claus. She was absolutely happy and could not wait to see the others.

The day was wondrous and quite a sight, the snow on the ground almost reached her knees should she decide to walk anywhere but the sidewalk or the roads.

When she arrived at the park she spun around in a sudden rush of euphoria.

She grinned at the sky and watched her breath materialize and become visible.

Kori then went to walk towards the park bench, where they had all agreed to meet. As she did she must have stepped on some ice because Kori suddenly lost her balance and slipped forward onto her face.

It hurt a lot. But it was mostly discouraging since she had been so pleased a moment ago.

"Kori!"

Richard came up from behind her, rushing to her side.

"Richard! What are you doing here?"

He put her arm around his shoulder to help her up, he aided her with ease and she almost slipped a second time. He caught her before it happened. Kori laughed nervously as he steadied her. He smiled,

"You're a little clumsy, huh?"

"Perhaps…" Kori said, ears flushing red, "I am sorry for worrying you."

Richard shrugged nonchalantly.

"Merry Christmas!" She burst out suddenly, remembering the occasion.

"Thanks, but I don't celebrate."

Kori tilted her head to the side,

"If it is not a problem, may I ask why?"

"Just never have, I don't have anything against the holiday, I just never bothered with it." Richard explained.

"Oh."

"It's not really a big deal is it?"

Kori thought about this for a moment,

"No I suppose not, but does this mean I cannot give you your present?"

"If you want to you can." Richard reassured her, "I just feel a bit bad for not getting you anything."

"It is not a problem." Kori smiled, "I love to give gifts to others! I want to do this."

Richard returned her smile and put his hand to her cheek, he leaned in eyes on her lips. Kori's stomach flipped.

"Before you eat each other's faces off," A familiar voice interrupted.

"You should know that we're right here." Another finished.

Kori turned to see Rachel and Jinx walked towards them.

Richard scowled, causing Kori to laugh.

78. Lorsque Moments Deviennent desSouvenirs(When Moments Become Memories)

When they all are gathered at the park bench Kori passes out the gifts. Each has mixed feelings about the fact that she has items for them. Some are touched, some indifferent, some confused as to why they deserve such a kindness.

Gar receives a book of knock knock jokes to which Rachel groans. She does not wish for him to know any more jokes then he already does.

Vic gets a gift card for a video game store. Kori explains that she was not knowledgeable on the subject so the magical card was the perfect solution.

Jinx is given a small sized pillow with her name on it. Kori tells her that she is always sleeping during the detentions and during class so having one that fit in her bag would not only be convenient, but also comfortable.

Kori gives Rachel a set of books. They are by Jane Austen. Rachel is slightly apprehensive since she knows that those books always end happily and that isn't realistic in this world. On the other hand she is surprised Kori has noticed the fact that she always is reading old books that have been written many generations before.

Richard has the pleasure of being given a scarf, one that Kori has knitted for him. It is a dark red color and he puts it on right away to her happiness. It matches his black jacket and he silently appreciates the fact that she put time into making this for him.

They each thank her in their own way. After the excitement and gratitude dies down Rachel announces she has something to say. Everyone is curious so she explains.

She tells them that she is leaving. Leaving with her mother.

When she had spoken with Arella the night before, her mother had told her the reasoning behind her sudden (or not so sudden) disappearance.

Rita had met Arella back when Rachel was young, when Rita was still a cop. Rita had agreed to help Arella and Rachel get away from Slade while she figured out a way to prove his involvement in the crimes committed over the countless years. When Rita had finally found a way to help Arella run away they both had worried about Rachel. At this point the young teen was unfeeling towards others and Rita had been convinced that Rachel would bring their plan to Trigon's attention if she found out about it. So Arella regretfully left without her daughter with the promise from Rita that if Rachel ever showed any signs of a change of heart, she would help Rachel get away as well.

Arella had explained to Rachel that night that the day Rita had met Rachel at Gar's house she knew Rachel did not approve of Trigon's actions and would at least be open to leaving him. Rita then alerted Arella and the mother came back from her safe haven to ask her daughter to come back.

Rachel still is not sure what she should do.

She tells all five of the others this in the strictest confidence, and asks what they think.

Each are concerned, some sad, some surprised, but all agree that she should take the chance and get away from the claws Trigon had been digging into her for years.

Rachel makes her choice.

She is leaving.

Kori tears up and Richard looks at Rachel with admiring eyes. He admires her because of her courage and he wishes that if one day he must make a choice, he would not choose the path of least resistance and be like Rachel. Kori is devastated at the thought of losing someone who had become important to her but wants the best for her friend.

Vic wraps his very first friend in a warm hug; Rachel mocks him slightly for his actions but is touched by them as well. He will miss her. He will miss the person who was always honest with him no matter what. He will miss the person who stuck with him since a young age, and she will miss him too.

Jinx and Rachel look at each other. Pink eyes meet purple and they nod at each other in acknowledgement. They are not quite friends, the past still lingers in the back of each of their minds, but they are something else, they are allies. Jinx promises to keep an eye on Trigon's gang and report to Rita if there was anything to be concerned about. Rachel trusts that Jinx will do this. She also warns the pink haired girl not to break to many hearts, but they both know that there was only one person's heart she could break that would matter, even if he didn't know it yet.

Gar is optimistic. He believes with all his heart that this is not the end of their story, that they will all meet again, that they all met for a reason. Rachel says that his thinking is too much like a fairy tale and is not realistic, but inside she wants to believe him. He tells her that he knows that he will see her again. Rachel asks him how. He tells her because one day he plans to marry her. Rachel scoffs. For the first time she smiles then tells him it's the best joke he's ever told her. His ears flush red but smiles back.

Rachel is going to miss it here. She can finally admit it, but her father will not have her as a second in command, she will decide her own destiny and she will not involve others in Trigon's dangerous affairs, not after Slade. Rachel will repair the relationship she had with her mother and they will find a way, with the help of Rita, to bring Trigon to justice. Rachel has many regrets, leaving the first to accept her is one of them, but staying is no longer an option. Not if she wants to protect them.

Rachel says her goodbyes, perhaps going back to her usual habit of suppressing emotion, but she had to be strong. Gar says a quote about never saying goodbye but Rachel shrugs it off. She has no plans of seeing any of them again. It would not be possible, even if she wanted it to be. Rachel Roth will become a missing person and she will assume a new identity, being near any previous acquaintances would be dangerous for not only her, but them.

As she begins to walk away Vic calls to her inquiring as to how they'll know she made it alright.

"I'll send you all a post card." She replies quietly.

And she leaves, not looking back again. And the others part ways as well.

They are all different people. None of them similar at first glance, but they are connected. After two weeks of knowing each other they have a bond that some never find in a lifetime.

People saw them as a label, but they each knew better. Detention had taught them that they aren't a label. They aren't just The Athlete, The Invalid, The Angry Rich Kid, The Loner, The Runaway, and The Criminal. They were people, people who had the bravery to look past the surface and see each other for who they were.

Different.

Snow falls softly on a Christmas morning but it is not the end, their lives and adventures are only beginning.


"Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting."

J.M. Barrie –Peter Pan


La Fin?


Last chapter. It's a little short, but it wasn't meant to be long. Last chapter… wow.

Writing this chapter was hard. Really hard. I couldn't bring myself to write the last few lines. I was so not ready to finish the story. I don't know… I started this over a year ago when I was barely fourteen, I'll be sixteen in a few months and it feels so weird not writing this anymore. Yeah, there's a sequel coming, but it still isn't quite the same.

That part about putting gifts in boxes of underwear… actual experience. My mom has a wicked sense of humor.

Sorry if I really emphasized Christmas here, I am aware that there are people who don't celebrate. That's why I tried to have at least one character each that either celebrated for the fun of it, people who believed in the original meaning, and people who didn't celebrate at all. For the sake of remaining unbiased I won't tell you my opinion on the subject. It can be a little touchy.

Y'know I almost didn't finish this story part way through, I posted the first chapter in January hoping to post a chapter per month and posted about 5 chapters before stopping. I was really uninspired and almost deleted it multiple times. Before I knew it, it was late in the year and I still had 7 chapters to write, and you all know how long my chapters tend to be. I decided I would get my shit together and finish it and somehow I finished the exact day I planned to. I couldn't have done it without the lovely people who reviewed and read it. It's been a pretty tough year for me so thanks for making it a little bit better.

I can't believe it's over… man…

Anyways, I have some IMPORTANT INFORMATION on the sequel that's coming very very soon.

It will be called, "What Became of the Miserables" Strange name I know, but it what it is and that's that. It is set around 2 years in the future. All of them are in very different places than they were in this story and they all are a little bit different, though the core of each character is still the same.

The chapters will be shorter and there will be more of them. The length of the story itself will be probably around the size of this one or longer. I have no planned end date for it either so updates will be sporadic and random.

The story will be a little more intense than what you've seen in here. There is going to be more action, more violence, and more romance. I hope to dig deeper into each character and their past. More information about Trigon and his gang will be revealed as well as what happened to Terra. Batman (who was briefly mentioned in the last chapter) will be explained. Slade's fate is confirmed, more on Richard wrestling with good and bad. More of Kori doubting herself and eventually gaining confidence is present. Gar's illness will be touched on, as well as the consequences of Jinx running away from home. Vic deals with Silas's continuing drinking habits, and Rachel juggles emotions that she isn't sure she should feel. Along with them all becoming pretty badass but that is a bit of a given. Basically it hopefully will be bigger and better than this story was. Honestly, I realize after writing the entire thing, this story only was a beginning of a bigger one. It's pretty much setting itself up for something more.

THE PROLOUGE WILL BE UP ON JANUARY 1ST 2014!

But yeahhh… can I just say that this is the very first story I've ever had the balls to finish. I've started so many stories, whether it be original or fanfiction, and never finished them. I'm really glad this was the first one I did complete because it started as one thing and it's evolved in ways I never imagined so thanks!

My goodness I am rambling like crazy so I'll wrap it up here.

First I want to acknowledge each and every person who reviewed, favorited, or followed me as of now. I've had the chance to get to know some of you and let me say, you are all extremely talented, kind, and helpful people. Thanks to all of you! And those who reviewed multiple times, believe me, I notice you! I recognize your usernames and it's lovely to hear what you have to say! Thank you all so much, you all have no idea how awesome you are.

POLL (for my selfish curiosity):

Who was your favorite character? What was your favorite scene/moment? Why?

To those who celebrate any holiday be it Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or any other holiday important to you, I hope it's wonderful and you smile as much as possible! If not, enjoy the Winter Break and drink lots of hot chocolate.

If the holidays are tough for some of you (I'm not so ignorant as to think everyone is farting rainbows just because it's December, problems are still problems regardless of the season) you can always PM me and I'd be happy to talk with you J

Have yourselves a Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth. Good will toward men. All that jazz. Whether you celebrate Christmas for religion or family I wish blessings on all of you and your family and friends!

Thank you. Really. Thank you.

-Mai