AN: Finishing this was -hard-. I don't think anything has ever given me as many fits as this has. I've written out five (make that six) different endings, and cycled through at least twice as many in my head. I'm so, so, SO sorry it took so long to update it, but it wasn't -written-, so I didn't have much of a choice.
I thank everyone who's read it, and every person who's reviewed it. I'm glad it was appreciated. I wish I could have had it out sooner, but my computer died (twice), and, well... I've already mentioned my problems with ending it.
But, as a side note, I think everyone should know that this part is 6702 words. That's about TWO to THREE TIMES as long as any other chapter! So, enjoy. I love you all.
"Come on," a soft, feminine voice said encouragingly. John turned from staring at Ten's back, barely able to tear his gaze from the man who was walking away from him and towards his father.
The woman who smiled at him was beautiful, and her smile was full of warmth. "Who are you?" he asked.
She smiled, flashing even white teeth. "My name is Clarice. However, you may have heard Ten refer to me as Fillmore." John blinked, unable to do much else. This beautiful woman was Ten's assistant? "Don't judge me by looks, John. I can be an evil bitch when I need to be," she informed him softly. The way she smiled and the friendly tone of her voice made it difficult to believe.
"What are you doing here?" he asked. His own expression was unguarded, and it would have been possible for a near-sighted man to see the pain in his eyes.
"I'm here on business. We're about to pull the carpet out from under your father's feet," she told him, smiling as if she was talking about the weather. "Come on," she took his arm and started to follow after Ten, pulling John with her.
He tried to drag his feet, but her grip tightened on his arm, making escape impossible. "I don't want to go. I'm not needed there-"
"On the contrary, you're very important." John's head whipped around as Jay came up on his other side and took his other arm. His brother winked at him. "Hey, Johnny. Sorry I'm late for the party. Hope I didn't miss your big moment."
John shook his head, his shoulders drooping as he was lead into the house and towards the study. "He said 'no'."
"He didn't explain?" Jay asked, looking confused. He looked at Clarice, and she shook her head. He sighed. "What an ass."
"Yes," Clarice agreed with a nod. They entered the study in time to see the head of the Jameson family take his seat behind his desk. Jay let go of John's arm to shut the study door, and Clarice led the young man to one of the empty seats across from his father. She sat down in the chair next to him, and Jay and Ten took up positions behind either chair, Jay behind Clarice, Ten behind John.
"Well, well. Isn't this a happy gathering?" Mr. Jameson asked, looking quite pleased with himself. "I assume my son presented you with a proposal, Richards?"
"Of course," Ten answered pleasantly.
"And?" The old man was smug already, and under the false assumption that he had played Ten well.
"And we've declined the offer, Mr. Jameson," Ten replied. The smirk left the old man's face, and he turned to his youngest son with an incredulous glare. "You didn't misunderstand my intentions, Mr. Jameson, simply my will to succeed how -I- see fit."
If Jameson hadn't already been sitting, he would have fallen backwards into his chair. As it was, he slumped and, for the first time in John's memory, looked defeated. "What do you want?"
"Wrong question, Mr. Jameson," Clarice answered, taking the reins from Ten. "The question you want to ask is: what are we going to do? The answer is simple. We're taking your company and making it an affiliate of ours. We will not assume direct control."
Ten smirked and took the ball back into his court. "Instead, we will assign a new president and vice president, and we'll put our man in as Chairman of the Board of Directors. What arguments there may have been will be waylaid by the fact that we're not taking the company out of Jameson hands."
"Instead," Clarice was speaking once again, "We'll be placing control of the company in another generation of Jamesons."
"Namely, your two youngest sons," Ten finished. He grinned. "Jay will take over the day-to-day running of the company, with the assistance of one of our top people. John will continue his education, in whatever field he desires, and then he may fulfill any position within the company that he wants. -If- he wants. If he should wish to pursue another career, an allowance from Jameson Corp will see to his education until he has a stable income of his own, at which point he will continue to draw a smaller amount from his share of the stock."
"The paperwork will be delivered to your office tomorrow, Mr. Jameson. We suggest that you relinquish control of the company peacably. At this point, we're still playing what -we- consider to be nice-ball. If you don't cooperate, we will not hesitate to play hard-ball." Clarice's eyes had hardened, and her tone was cold and professional. "Understood?"
John stared as his father slowly nodded in acceptance. Twenty years of abuse and control, and his father was defeated in five minutes. It didn't seem real, somehow. He turned to look up at Ten, but the older man was already heading towards the door.
"John," Clarice's voice pulled his gaze from Ten. "The paperwork that you and your brother will need to go over will be available in our office tomorrow morning." She stood up and held out her hand. "For now, though, why don't you show me around this party and introduce me to some possible new clients?"
He rose to his feet, accepted her hand, and wrapped it around his arm. "Of course, Miss Clarice," he smiled tightly.
The smile she returned to him was reassuring and sympathetic. The one she turned to Jay was challenging. "Jay, why don't you come along and keep us company? I don't trust you to wander by yourself. You might get lost."
The older brother rolled his eyes and preceded them from the room. Conversation was put on hold until they reached the conservatory, which would take them out to the back lawn. John stopped. "That was too easy."
Clarice, smile gone, shook her head in disagreement. "No, it wasn't. You just saw the end product of eighteen hour days, seven day work-weeks for a two-year period."
"Why did he do this?" he asked, sounding as uncertain as he felt. "Why did he give it to us?"
She gave him a considering look, and then nodded. "Come with me." She moved back through the house to the front door. The valet seemed to recognize her, and they only had to wait a moment for her car to be brought around. Uninvited, but understanding that he wasn't allowed to be alone with his father, Jay followed.
"Welcome to Ten's hobby-shop," Clarice said sarcastically as they pulled into the parking garage of a tall office building. "You will notice that this building is half the size of your father's company. The reason for that is because the actual brunt of the business is split between three bases of operation. Ten runs one, and his two partners run separate offices on the east and west sides of the country. We're too far to the east to be considered in the 'middle' of them, but we did our best when choosing a site that would be productive and central."
"I thought Ten ran the show alone," Jay commented from the backseat. The car stopped as Clarice waved at a guard and a gate opened to let them into the interior of the garage.
"He runs this company, and is allowed to do with it as he wants. What they share in common is the funding and the friendship of the three presidents. Ten started all three businesses, and he signed over a third to each of his partners when they graduated from college."
"Why?" John asked, more confused than ever. "If he keeps giving away everything he buys, he's going to end up with nothing."
"Not quite. Ten could have bought your father's company outright, and it wouldn't have put more than a small dent in his fortune. He's an eccentric rich-boy. However, his goal wasn't the company, something I only learned recently myself."
"What was his 'goal'?" John asked. Clarice didn't answer. She parked the car near an elevator, and they got out. Jay and John followed he and watched as she took a key out and put it into a keyhole on the elevator.
She turned and smiled at John. "Access to the eighteenth floor is restricted to Ten, his partners, and me. It's nothing more than a huge, empty floor, but it's where Ten keeps his private records."
"Why are we-" John stopped his question as Clarice held up a hand to ward it off. He subsided to the back of the car as the elevator started it's ascent. The ride to the eighteenth floor was quick and uneventful, and the men followed Clarice out of the elevator.
"Jay, don't touch anything. Have a seat and I'll come back and entertain you after I've shown John what he needs to see."
"Whatever," Jay muttered, dropping into the nearest chair. It was sitting in the middle of an empty space. The floor resembled an empty floor of a warehouse, and John was reminded of where he'd woken up the day before.
"This way, John," Clarice directed, walking towards a bank of windows across from the elevator. She turned let around a support column, and on the far wall, John could see a stack of binders and notebooks set on the floor. "Just start looking, John. There's no order there, only obsession. You want to understand Ten? That's the biggest clue you're ever going to receive."
"Thank you," he said quietly, already walking forward.
The floor was swept, but he could tell the spot where someone else sat, either recently or often. All of the binders were placed around a circle, leaving a spot in the middle. There was even a coffee mug on the edge of the circle. John stepped over a short stack of papers and sat down, crossing his legs Indian-style.
Hours later, as the waning sun disappeared behind skyscrapers and apartment buildings, Clarice reappeared baring a paper sack and cup. "Hungry yet?" she asked.
John looked up, eyes slightly blurred from hours of reading and gazing at black on white. "Thanks." There was an ink-smudge on his cheek and when he held out his hand, there was more ink on his fingerprints.
Clarice smiled and handed him the cup and sack. "Turkey on wheat and decaf. I didn't know what you liked, so I hazarded a guess."
John sat the items down and turned back to pull a notebook out of a pile. He flipped a couple of pages and held it up for Clarice. "Ten knows."
"Ham and swiss on rye, huh?" She smiled awkwardly. "Do you have questions?"
"He did everything for me?" John asked. His voice said he already knew the answer, so Clarice didn't bother to respond. John sighed and shifted so that he could pull his knees to his chest. "Destiny's a bitch and Fate is fickle."
"He never planned on you coming into the picture until after the take-over. He wanted-"
John cut her off. "-Wanted to court me. How do you tell someone you meet on your balcony that you've been obsessed with them for two and a half years?"
"If you're Ten, you don't. You try to shift everything around until the things you don't want to explain are hidden away."
"Hidden away on the eigtheenth floor, where only four people have a key to get in," John murmured softly. "You know, he told me he loved me, but never once in any of this... junk, does he say he loves me. Why is that?"
"He said the words when you needed to hear them, but to Ten, words are nothing more than a trap that can hold the speaker as easily as the listener. He doesn't believe in words like that. He can say them, he knows what they mean and how they're used, and he's capable of it, but Ten's history with relationships is bad, to say the least."
"So, he meant it, but he didn't really believe in it?" John groaned in frustration. "I don't understand."
"And that is the key to understanding," Clarice said sagely. "Ten doesn't even understand himself. He created a list of rules to keep himself in line, to keep himself as true to his emotions as he could, all the while trying to deny that he had emotions. He used to seduce the most sophisticated and experienced of women, but he turns around and gets sucked in by a virgin. And not only a virgin, but a male one.
"You're everything in his life that he never planned on, and everything that he needs. He grumbled about your constant grumbling, but then he gets this smile that, to me, says he doesn't mind the questions because he gets to 'reassure' you."
He lifted his head to look up at her through his lashes. "What do I do now?" he asked.
"You do whatever you want to do. Use your key and go home to the idiot; take the key and lease from me to the back-up apartment Ten had me set up in case you hated him and never wanted to see him again; go stay with Jay, who's being less of an asshole today because he feels guilty. The only option that's out is going to your father's house, unless you want to cause some damage to the property, in which case I would recommend contracting that work out to the professionals."
That earned her a small smile from him. "Anything, huh?" he questioned. She nodded slowly, deliberately. He looked away for a moment, and when he turned back to her, he was serious, face hard.
It was the first glimpse Clarice had had of the man that Ten had fallen in love with, and the change that the confidence he was now exuding made was astonishing. It would be considered frightening to someone who hadn't spent years working for Templeton Richards, but as it was, Clarice could feel a chill down her spine.
He stood up, back straight and shoulders squared. "Where is he?" he asked.
Clarice frowned. "Home, Id' assume."
"Then have the car brought around, Fillmore," he flashed her a smile reminiscent of Ten's cocky grin.
Maybe, she though as she watched him step over the piles of stuff, just maybe John would be less of a tool to make Ten happy and more of a match for him. It would be an interesting thing to keep track of.
Author's note: I had considered stopping it here again and adding another chapter, but... I've already had a semi-death threat from Aldura, and I fear for my life. Consider it a double-treat.
The sun had diseappared an hour ago, and even the shadow of day that hovered on the horizon was gone. Ten stood looking out as the city still glowed from artificial illumination of streetlights and interior lighint that glowed through windows.
Instead of the living room balcony where he had 'met' John on Saturday night, Ten was taking advantage of the balcony outside his bedroom. It was around the corner from the other, one of the luxuries of a corner apartment, besides the windows. He had tried to escape the memories of John that hung in his apartment, and the bedroom balcony was the only place John hadn't been.
He had retreated back to the apartment as soon as he'd dealt with the last of the paperwork at the office. In his original plan, he'd imagined spending the afternoon with John. Now all he had to keep himself company was the guilt and remorse and memories.
It wasn't that he had given up; Ten Richards never backed down. His problem was an uncertainty of how to proceed. He couldn't use normal tactics on John. They would probably work, Ten had great confidence in his skill, but he didn't want to trivialize his feelings for John by treating him like everyone else.
He had already broken most of his rules. In fact, he'd broken the most important one two and a half years ago when he'd fallen in love. Since then, he'd slowly been checking them off of his private list. It had been liberating at the time, to see how easy he could control the slow changing of his life. However, if that afternoon had shown him anything, it was that he had no control, and he never had.
From the beginning, everything he had done had been built around the idea of what would be best for John, what he would like, and Ten had even hired investigators to delve further than he was personally able. Never to the extent of invading his personal space, but enough that Ten could predict his whims and desires, and could make them happen.
Which is where he had failed. Clarice had been correct when she told him he should tell John the truth. One of the things John had never had was control over his own life, and all Ten had done was recreate that in a more pleasant environment. He hadn't made it better; he hadn't given John all the information he needed to make a real decision about their relationship.
Ten was startled out of his thoughts by the sound of the apartment door slamming. He turned around. John had a key, and Clarice had managed once before to get the guard to unlock the door, but making a ruckus like that wasn't either one's style.
Whoever his unexpected guest was, he, or she, wanted his attention. Ten walked back into the bedroom, pausing a moment to shut the door to the balcony. If his guest wanted his attention, Ten would give it.
He walked down the hallway and paused. He could see into most of the kitchen, into the entryway, and into the living room, and he didn't see anyone. He turned around, expecting to see someone creeping up behind him, but there was no one there, either.
""Very funny. If you've been hired by Jameson to harm me, I'll offer you twice as much as he gave you."
"And if it's personal?" a low, familiar voice asked from the direction of the balcony. He turned his head and saw that the sliding doors were open, and the wind was blowing the curtains into the room. He stepped slowly in that direction.
John was leaning on the railing, facing out into the night. Ten stepped up beside him and stood silently, staring at the back of the younger man's head.
"Did I break your heart today, Ten?" the blond asked softly. Ten opened his mouth to reply, but John forestalled anything he could have said. "And don't tell me what you think I want to hear. I just want the truth from you, Ten. Just honesty. Did I hurt you today?"
There was a moment's silence between them, and then Ten leaned against the railing next to John, copying his pose. "No. You didn't hurt me."
He expected to see some kind of defeat settle over John, or a sign that would indicate that he'd managed to hurt his lover again, but John simply nodded and kept looking steadily into the night. "Funny, isn't it?" he said after a pause. "I try and lash out at you purposely, and you're not hurt, and yet I seem to feel pain from your every attempt to protect me from such a thing."
That did hurt. Ten clenched his jaw, but didn't say anything in rebuttal. There was nothing to say to defend himself from the truth, after all.
"You want me?" John asked, voice eerily indifferent.
"Yes," Ten answered unhesitantly..
"You love me?"
"I'm not playing 'poor little rich boy' anymore. You've given me a chance I've never had before, and I'm taking it for all it's worth."
Ten scowled. "I'm glad I wa-"
"Shut up, Ten. In the past five days, I've spent nearly ten hours wandering aimlessly in your apartment, twelve hours as my brother's hostage, and another twelve hours believing my father's prattle about how, exactly, you were using me. And do you know what conclusion I've reached? Despite everything else, you've still managed to make me feel like there might actually be someone out there who can love me like I thought you did."
Ten looked at him sharply, but John's gaze stopped him. There was a look of sadness and determination on John's face as he continued. "You didn't love me. You didn't know me. And no amount of binders and lists and fact sheets can change that. You might be able to tell me what foods I like and what movies I've seen, but you don't truly know who I am. All you've seen is the mold my father built for me. Do you know how I know you didn't know me?"
"No," Ten answered. Denial seemed pointless.
"I know because if you knew me, knew the person I truly was, you would have told me the whole story from the beginning. I wouldn't have had to find out from my father and brother that you've known me, or at least of me, for years, and I wouldn't have had to learn from your assistant that you weren't using me to get to my father, but using my father and his company to get to me. There wouldn't have been a need for me to go through two and a half years of my life in the vain hope that I could understand -why- you did it all."
He looked away and took a deep breath before continuing. "In all truth, I don't think I'll ever understand. But you give me hope, Ten. You give me hope that maybe I'm not the only one that has some thinking to do. Maybe this last half-week has gotten to you, too. In the end... in the end, you had to have learned something."
It wasn't possible for Ten's frown to deepen, but it was possible for the reason behind it to change. It went from being a frown of anger and upset to one of confusion. "What do you mean?"
John shrugged and tilted his face up to the sky. "In the end, you left me to make my own choice. Gave me everything I needed to make a wise one, too. You knew she'd show me, didn't you?"
Ten winced. "The only thing I knew this morning was that I'd made too many mistakes." He turned his back to the railing, his elbows supporting him as he leaned back. "The only thing I wanted, the whole purpose was-" he stopped and shook his head.
"To make me happy," John filled in. He turned to look at Ten again. "You did. I've been happier since Saturday night than I can ever recall being in my life."
"I was trying for something a little more long-term," Ten grumbled. They stood without talking for several minutes, the quiet sound of the traffic reaching their ears. John returned to his scrutiny of the skyline, and Ten stared in misery at the spot above the glass sliding doors. Finally, he closed his eyes. "I almost agreed this morning."
"Hm?" John murmured. Ten could hear him shift.
"When you gave me a choice of you or your father's company. I almost said 'yes'," he admitted.
"why didn't you?" the younger man asked.
"Because I wasn't doing it for the company. If I had said yes, you would have ended up under your father's control again, sooner or later," Ten said matter-of-factly.
"You bastard," John said harshly, stunning Ten into opening his eyes. John glared at him. "You can stand there and say that to me? If you had accepted, I would have ended up with -you-. I would have thought that I actually meant more than a business deal and I would have followed you -anywhere-. As it is, you broke my heart just so you could hand me a chunk of commerce, as if that truly was worth anything to me. You chose to follow through, regardless of what I would think about it." He shoved away from the railing. "Screw this."
"Where are you going?" Ten asked, following the blond into the apartment. John spun and glared at him.
"It doesn't matter, does it? Anywhere away from -you-. I came here hoping for a sign that we could work. That a relationship between you and I could work. I love you, as little as that may seem to you. I love you more than a company, more than my own pride. But you can't just stop, can you? Rule number three, don't explain yourself to anyone. Don't give answers that don't suit your own purpose, don't give anyone else control over you."
Ten stood and watched as John resumed his path to the door. The younger man stopped, hand on the knob, knob half turned.
"If you love me, Ten, really truly love me, you'll figure it out. And if you don't, well. If you don't, I guess it just means that I was right when I said that you didn't. I came here thinking that you might love me now. Pretty stupid. Which rule is it that says that if you do say 'I love you', you can't mean it?"
"Number eighteen," Ten answered dully, eyes on the ground.
There was silence between them for a moment and then the sound of the door opening. "In the end, you only broke ten of your rules for me. For a while, I thought it might have been more, but it only figures. Why spend all of that effort on someone who didn't need those tricks? You could have crooked your finger after the first night, and I would have come running. Sat at your feet like a dog while you pushed mountains for me." His voice was thick with self-loathing.
"I'm sorry," Ten whispered. He closed his eyes, unable to face the look on John's face anymore. Misery seemed to weigh heavy on his whole body and his shoulder's slumped.
"You're going to let go that easily?" John asked, sounding surprised. Ten opened his eyes and stared at him in confusion. "I thought you weren't a quitter, Ten. I thought you always got everything you went after, but this is all the resistance you're going to put up? Is it that you've already gotten what you want from me and I'm no longer something you need or want? Or is there another reason you're letting go so easily?"
Ten's surprise increased ten-fold. "Who the hell are you?" This was a side of John he'd never seen. He'd seen the other man weak, and he thought he'd seen him weak, but this new persona was something Ten wasn't equipped to deal with.
"I'm my father's youngest son. I'm the guy you thought you were in love with. Don't you remember?" He sounded amused and angry at the same time. "Of course not. We've already had this discussion and realized that you knew nearly nothing about me, right?"
When had he lost the advantage? How did everything suddenly turn against him like this? He crossed his arms over his chest. There was something he was missing, something amiss in all of this that didn't add up, and he was starting to think that it was the key.
"I don't know why I bothered," John said patronizingly, turning away.
That's what it was. "Because I gave you hope, remember?" Ten said, eyes narrowing. "And you wouldn't have come here if you just wanted to tell me off."
"You think?" John said harshly, his back still to Ten. "You're an idiot."
"I'm not an idiot. Actually, my IQ is the highest my family has ever seen and I'm smart enough to own my own company -and- your father's. I would say that I'm rather smart."
"I know," Ten interrupted softly. "You didn't mean that." He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I know I was an idiot about not telling you. But once I'd taken that road, I didn't leave myself room for any other options, and I'm sorry that you got hurt by my stubbornness. In the end, I did the best I could, and gave you the option. You obviously have all the information you need to make a choice now."
There was silence. John didn't say anything, and Ten waited only a minute before he continued softly.
"I'd like to get a chance to know you right, John. This side of you, the sides I've already seen. I'll stand by the fact that I love you, but if you have doubts, then give me a chance to know you better. You don't have to be the way you think I want you to be, you don't have to live up to anyone's expectations. I just want you to be happy, and hopefully, to be a part of your happiness."
"You're such a bastard," John muttered. His voice lacked heat and conviction, and Ten stepped forward. John turned suddenly, eyes sparkling with unshed tears. "Why couldn't you just be the person I thought you were? Why all this bullshit? I don't my father's company, and I don't want anything else you can give me. I want the last two days back! I want to go back to thinking that someone loves me enough to just be with me." Ten stepped forward to comfort him, seeing his opening, but Jon held a hand up. "Don't even think about it. I don't want you, Ten. I don't want your lies. Go back to whatever you were doing before you found me on your balcony, because I'm done playing this game."
Ten's mouth gaped as he watched John turn and stalk out of the apartment.
Things weren't supposed to go like that.
"Damn it! Why?" John yelled, looking up. His view of the sky was blocked by the buildings on either side of the street, but it was up there and that was good enough. He kicked the tire that was in the parking spot he'd last seen his car and cursed again.
He turned and leaned back against the vehicle, arms crossed over his chest. Nothing had worked out like it was supposed to that day. It had been one thing after another. And thinking back, it had been that way since Ten had found him on the balcony.
A moment later, another body settled beside him and held out a key. "It makes it easier to leave," Ten said quietly. John took the key from him with a frown. "They tow it if it's here more than two days. And the cop that patrols this block is very good at what he does."
"Impound?" John said questioningly, looking at the key. He hadn't seen Ten's car, and he wondered, briefly, what it looked like before he handed the key back. "I'll call a taxi." He didn't move, though.
It was still miserably cold outside, and he had a light jacket on, while Ten was in just a shirt. The older man made no move to leave, though. Just stood there, key in hand and staring at it darkly. Upstairs, he had looked confused, an emotion John figured he was unfamiliar with. But the man beside him seemed to have figured it out, and instead of bouncing back into his normal, over-confident self, seemed to have slumped. There was none of the usual assurance in the way Ten was leaning, no certainty of purpose in his face.
"Would you be willing to accompany me to dinner, Mr. Jameson?" Ten asked out of the blue. "It would delight me to no end to treat for the meal, and perhaps afterwards we could talk over coffee?"
John looked at him blankly for a moment. Ten's speech was reminiscent of Saturday night, when for a brief moment, he'd seemed more formal than he'd ended up being. And John realized that it was simply a cover for the hesitancy he could also hear in the older man's tone. He thought about that for a moment, about what his own reaction would be if he found everything he thought he wanted standing a balcony away.
With a small smile, he realized that everything he wanted was a lot closer than the next door balcony. "I'd like that," he answered finally, offering Ten a smile. Green eyes widened with surprise, and then Ten straightened from the car and held his hand out.
"Then come up with me to find something warmer to wear before I freeze to death." John looked for any sign of smugness in the older man's face, any indication that Ten was anything but happy with his acceptance. He found only relief and hope, and the combination made any other decision seem wrong. He accepted the offered hand, laced his fingers with Ten's, and then let himself be pulled back to the apartment building. "Where do you want to eat?"
"You didn't have some place in mind?" John asked.
Ten smiled at him. "I'll let you choose. Anywhere you want to go."
"Give me a moment to think," John requested as they stepped into the elevator. The ride up was silent. The doors opened and they stepped out onto Ten's floor. They walked to the door and John waited a moment while Ten searched in his pocket for keys. A moment later, it became apparent that Ten didn't have his keys. With a grin, John got his own set out and unlocked the door.
"Thanks," Ten said softly, looking sheepish and trying to hide it. They had released hands while Ten dug in his pockets, and John stepped into the apartment ahead of Ten.
John went to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of milk while Ten changed clothes. Ten's invitation played in his head, and he couldn't help the grin that split his face. Dinner and talking 'over coffee'. They hadn't taken the time during the rest of the week to do much more than eat, sleep, and frolic in a sexual way. They'd talked a bit on Sunday night, but even that had been interrupted by kissing and petting.
Ten seemed ready to make up for that. John smiled as he thought of Ten running out of his apartment without his keys. It spoke of an emotion deeper than lust, that Ten's whole focus had been on John.
When Ten came into the kitchen, dressed in a suit, John turned and pressed a quick kiss on startled lips.
"I love you," John said.
"I lo-" Ten was cut off by another kiss, and then his mouth was kept too busy for any form of coherency.
*wipes brow* That sucker is -over-! It was great fun to write it, right until the end, but that's okay. It's done and I'm happy. Much love to Bronze, whom without this would have ended in a non-cool way. She's been great! *huggles B-baby*
Thank you once again to everyone who has read this, and to those who have reviewed it. I hope the ending was satisfactory. (and if it wasn't, pfft on you!)
Thank you time:
GodsFlutterBug07- I was worried briefly about the 'still'. I didn't know if you had expected it to get bad, or what. ^_^ But I'll take it as a compliment. Thank you!
Karasu Tendo- Glad you loved the chapter. I hope the ending is happy enough. Good enough... it's a happy ending!
Zephyr Blossom- happy ending, yes? And his father is an ass, and I think my ending for -him- was almost as good as beating him to a pulp.
redrose2310- You're right, it's a very lovely number and I apologize for any unintentional insult. Jay was trying to help his brother, but he's a man and just not terribly good at it (^_^).
Aldura- *laughs* I hope this means that you won't be chasing me down with a spork?
Rue Zokorai- okay, maybe I exaggerated about the whole being able to love Ten by the end thing. He frustrates -me- to no end with his errant stupidity. But a man in love can be forgiven many things, and he at least made an attempt!
Angelic Hooligan- CNN? *giggles* You're so silly. ^_^ Erm, here's more?
Alira1- We be the number 1's bab-ay! ^_^ Thanks for reading and reviewing every chapter (I think it was every chapter). The Lira-chan's reviews are always very nice and they make me happy!
redredredred- Yes, this was the last chapter. And I'm -so- sorry the whole 'soon' thing didn't work out. I tried, really I did! Thank you for reviewing (and reading, no da!)
Alexandra-chan- *shudders at the thought of John acting like his brothers* Yeah. It was scary. Just shows that he has it in him though, and proves the point that Ten didn't know him as well as he thought he did. I want to thank you once again for the picture. ^_^ Thank you!
Lucifer's Light- (from chap 1)*laughs* I'm planning on doing a series of side stories that will go up at my site. And one of them will most likely be a lemon version of Tuesday. If you want, I'll send you a buzz when it gets written and posted.
lami- TraviS! Hi! I remember reading another of your reviews. I'm glad you found it again, and I hope that you enjoyed the ending. ^_^ Thanks for reading and reviewing!
Edana- It wasn't a cliffhanger on purpose. I had every intention of following with the conclusion almost immediately, but... well, I've already mentioned the reasons why -that- didn't happen. Thank you for reading and reviewing, and I hope you liked the end.
Lucifers Light- (chapter 10) *giggles* You went from demanding sex to just asking for an update... for some odd reason, that makes me giggle. Thanks for bearing with me, and I hope the ending was everything you were looking for. ^_^
Explicit Punk- (chapter 1) It's updated! It just took me forever. I'm glad you liked it and I hope you enjoy the ending. Thank you for reading and reviewing.
Kelly- I wrote! And I'm probably still darned, but that's okay. ^_^ Glad you liked it. Thank you for reading and reviewing, and I hope the suspense didn't really kill you. *toes body* Ah well. That's life... kinda
i-nv-u50- that is one of the most original names I've ever seen. It took me about three times reading it before I got it. Cute. I have to agree whole-heartedly: he's an idiot, but he cares. ^_^ Thanks for reading and reviewing.
Ayakaishi Fei- *blinks* What is it with everyone dying? Here's more, and hopefully its in time, before there's another body lying around here. *looks at the lump that is Kelly's body covered by the carpet* Thanks for reading and reviewing!
DistractedInnocence- My arse is in gear! And I didn't do it on purpose! *melts into crying goo* I tried, and then I tried again, and there are really six different versions of this ending between my lifejournal and my floppy disks. And this ending was only actually written -today- because Bronze didn't care for the last one, and neither did I, and- Forgive me? Thank you for reading and reviewing.
Set Aiidoneus- See, more? *points at story* I was -trying-. I hate leaving stories untouched for so long (and trust me, the guilt tears at me), but it just wasn't coming out right.
Thanks and hugs go to everyone who has read and reviewed my story. As I mentioned, somewhere in the mess of responses above, I do plan on having side stories and extras (such as the history behind Clarice, the lemon to Tuesday night, Ten's list (which is somewhere on my lifejournal), and other stuff).
*bows* And now, I take my leave, before those people that -aren't- happy with the ending find me and rip my fingers off. ^_^ Later days!