Chapter sixteen; That's just the way it is

For months after, I struggled to understand what my grandmother meant. Her words repeated over and over in my head, until they almost became a blur.

Of course, we had to call an ambulance and the police. Adrian, Shane and Devon were in pretty bad shape, and I learnt that I had a fractured wrist, as well as several broken bones. They were surprised I didn't notice. Then again, I was too focused on the terror of Seth, and the fact that my sisters seemed to be in comas, along with Linda. Three hours later they woke up, like all they were doing was having a nice long nap. And I did something I hardly ever did; I hugged them all tightly.

Linda was seriously hurt after she found out her mother and father were dead, and she couldn't have done anything to prevent it. I sat on the side of her hospital bed, all bandaged up, and just smiled gently at her.

"Lind, they're at peace now with their brothers and sisters. They're all right. They died saving you" I said in the softest voice I could managed as she sobbed.

"But why did they leave me?" She sounded like a hurt kid. Or... or like Mae a little.

"They didn't Linda. Don't you get it? They'll always be with you, no matter where you go. They gave you the best of them so you wouldn't forget that"

Linda's cries subsided to a soft sniffle, and she laughed a little at me.

"Since when did you get so perceptive?"

I smiled and shrugged "Since I realised how much my family means to me"

And it was true.

After a few days both Devon, Adrian and Shane came out of their coma-like states, a little worse for wear but at least they were still alive. Desiree, although hurt just as much as Linda was, seemed to have a calm understanding about it all. So, she and she alone told the boys. Adrian went numb, and from the other side of the door I heard Devon break into screams and sobs. I couldn't say I didn't want to do the same thing.

Instead, I turned my attentions to my sisters, who needed me now more than ever. I might have been the harsh cold one at times, but at times that came in handy. It meant I could also be strong for them.

The police, of course, asked us a billion questions. We just told them some crazy bunch of lunatics came to the museum to rip it up, and when they saw us there they must have panicked. Cody, Desiree and Becci somehow made sure our story was believable. After two months, they didn't look at us as subjects. And, of course, no one could say we all went postal on each other, since they found absolutely no motive.

Honestly? I think turning against each other was the least of our troubles.

We had funerals for Robyn, Evan and Nanna. Those who came payed their respects, and some even eyed us a little cautiously. But, to outsiders, we were a grieving family. In fact, that was true in any case. When it came time to make our speeches, I almost broke down crying. I didn't want Uncle Evan or Nanna gone, I wanted to go up to their house for the millionth time with Sam and Mae, and watch as Evan 'oohed' and 'aaahed' at them as I sat silently with Nanna close by. That's what I wanted, and when their funerals came it finally made me realised they were really gone.

Remember, don't be afraid to live.

After that, I caved one day to the badgering of my sisters. Sam wanted to dress me up, and Mae wanted to go out to the park. So, with my hair curled like Sams, wearing a long flowing pink top and white shirt (and pink sandals-uck!) I took her to the park to play. I just didn't have the energy to say no to those two anymore. It felt like all the fight was gone out of me. Sam came too, wearing a tank top and cutoff jeans, and we sat on the bench as Mae went over to the swings and slides along with the other kids.

"Why, don't you two look alike" said an old lady wheeling one of those old bags on wheels along. She smiled at us, and we smiled back and said thankyou. She sat by us a moment, resting her feet.

"Why, I bet your parents can hardly tell you two apart. You look like such nice girls"

"Thankyou madam. And yeah, they can usually tell cause-"

"Because I have green eyes, and she has blue" Sam interrupted, and when I looked at her she just nudged me and smiled. So I gave in and smiled too. I don't know. I guess it was because it was just such a beautiful day. Too good to be wasted on a frown.

The old lady looked closely, then backed up and smiled.

"Why look at that! I would have never noticed the difference!"

"Thankyou ma'am, it's nice to know" I said, and got an amazed look off Sam. After talking to the lady for a while, and finding out her life story, she left us to sit there for a while longer. Mae was still playing like it was her birthday, swinging as high as she could on the seat. Sam soon went over to join her, trying to get me to join them.

"One thing at a time Sammy. Please"

She smirked "You know, that's the first time you've ever called me Sammy"

"As I said sis, one thing at a time"

"Suit yourself then" she shoved my shoulder playfully, then went off and swung beside Mae, competing with her to get the highest. I sat there, unable to keep a smile from my face, and unable to stop myself from smiling, knowing it was all right now.

"Hey Sam, how..." I turned to see Devon, his eyes widening in surprise when he realised it was me sitting here. In a skirt. And with actual makeup on my face.

"Okay, who are you and where's the real Alex" he sat beside me, looking from Sam to me and back again "I thought she was... and you were..."

"I know. Big change for me. But, seriously, I couldn't stop the fashion queen over there for a second"

"Now that's not the Alex I know. What happened to 'I'd rather be dead than put that gunk on my face' Alex?"

"Long gone Dev. A page in history. I'm not what I used to be. For some reason, I'm more... I'm more patient. And I think black is getting old on me. Not that I'm gonna become another Sam, it's just... I want to look how I feel, and act the way I look. And no, makeup will not be a part of that selection. Not even my old makeup. In fact, I think I'm going to throw that shit out when I go home"

"Alex, I think you need a straight-jacket"

I laughed. Yes, me. Alexandra. I. laughed.

And Devon looked at me like he wanted to throw me over his shoulder and carry me to the loony bin. I couldn't blame him. I hardly recognised myself.

And then, it clicked. Like a light switch. Click! There it was, staring me in the face like a hungry monster.

"Oh Dev, I understand it now. I understand!"

"Okay, what do you understand?"

"Nanna, she told me to not be afraid to live! Oh my... that's it!" I jumped up, then windmilled my arms as I almost tripped on the skirt. Seconds later Devon was beside me, and grabbed my arm and waist to stop me from falling.

"Thanks Dev"

"Not a problem. Although, I think you should just start with baby steps for now, ok?"

"Just what I was thinking" He let go, and I sorted the skirt out so I wouldn't fall again.

Then, I turned and wrapped my arms around Devons neck in a big hug. He tensed, but then hugged me back.

"Thanks bro. I don't know what I'd do without you"

"Ditto... lil sis"

I pulled back and looked up at him. Damn, that smile was like plastered on or something. I didn't know smiling could hurt so much!

"Hey, want to go for icecream?" He asked.

"Sure. Just let me get Sam and Mae"

"Hold on a sec, you want to bring them too?"

"Well, sure. They're family. Unless you don't want them to, of course-"

"Alex, what kind of goof do you take me for?"

"A really, really big one"

He laughed, then we went over to Sam and Mae.

And since that day, I have never looked back.

I know how to live now, and I'm not going to give it up for anything.

--------------------------------------x--------------------------------------

Jess floated in an beautiful white void, watching as her granddaughter laughed for the first time in years, then hugged Devon and went to live her life. She was beyond happy. She was with her family now, and knew her extended family... sons, her daughter, her niece... and her grandsons and granddaughters... would be all right for many years to come. She thought she had cursed them. She was wrong.

My god, Devon was right all those years. I've helped raise these miracles, and given them light and hope. She smiled. Her heart was full of such joy she thought she could never feel in her whole lifetime. She was at peace. She was free.

She was in heaven.

Her scar was no more than a bad dream, and her youth had returned in abundance. Here, there was nothing more to do other than lie in the sun and be with those you loved. Her mother was there. She shone like a golden aura. And knowing her mother was there, just filled her heart with even more joy. For all the pain and suffering, she had been rewarded tremendously.

Beside her, Devon and the others watched as well. No one needed to speak to see the specialty of the moment. Alex would be all right. They all would be all right.

"I hate to leave Linda there alone" Evan sighed, and Robyn took his hand.

"She's not alone. She never will be my love"

"We've done everything we can do while we're alive. So let us rest, and be assured they will go on being strong forever" It was Michelle who spoke. She was smiling sadly, and they all knew she wanted to stay to know her children better.

"As long as I know they're all alive, I know they'll be fine. And so should you" Devon said, taking her hand in assurance. She nodded, smiling.

"Thankyou Devon. I know"

They each linked hands, squeezing in assurance and love, and Jess finally understood the meaning of her life.

And she was proud.

Together, they left to rest and be together for eternity.

End.

A/N; well, I really hoped you liked this story. This trilogy, I should say.

Sorry it took so long for this chappie. I honestly didn't know where to take it after the last chappie. I wrote about ten beginnings to the last chap, and I couldn't get it right. Hope this worked out ok though.

Again, thankyou all for the support. I don't know how I got this far in the three stories without all of your support. Thankyou again, and remember to keep going for gold, all of you.

Merlin; it's finished. Happy? :)

Oh well, as my last chappie says, that's just the way it is. Ciao, and see you in another adventure.

Maybe. ;)