Epilogue

Graduation Day

Allie Alberts looked with satisfaction at the five hundred students of the graduating class of 2007 who were all listening attentively to what she had to say. She waved slightly to settle down the applause, smiling slightly at everyone who had gathered today—students, parents, professors.

The year had finally come to a close and Allie had finally made it. All the events in the past year had culminated into one glorious day and everything she'd gone through the past year has come to this. To what might be one of the most important public speaking occasions in her entire life.

Allie paused to take a deep breath, to take in the moment before her grin widened as she gazed out at the crowd before she spoke. "To the Class of 2007," she began proudly, "…it is my pleasure to introduce to you all—one of my closest friends and your class valedictorian—Mr. Caden Martin!" she announced loudly as she started to clap her hands. And the crowd joined her enthusiastically, some students even hooting along.

Caden Martin jogged up the stage with an equally big grin on his face as he approached the podium, giving Allie a kiss on the cheek before taking the microphone. "Thanks Allie," he said. "Ladies and gentlemen, your Class President," he clapped himself as Allie gave a little curtsy before walking backwards from the podium to head back down from the stage.

"That speech was brilliant, Ms. Alberts," a very familiar male voice mocked from the bottom of the stairs and Allie looked up already beaming as she rushed down the steps straight into Troy's arms. "I told you I'd make it in time," he told her. Troy had decided to finally accept the football contract and was going through with distance learning as well, with Allie's help of course.

Allie gave him a mischievous look. "I bribe your coach to let you off training sometimes, doesn't he tell you?" she half-joked, making his deep chuckle rumble in his chest, before she settled back against him to look up the stage to watch Caden deliver his speech.

Caden regarded the crowd with his authoritative gaze, practically shining with pride. "Fellow graduates," he began with a serious tone, "as with any end, we welcome a beginning. We leave the university and now enter the school of life. For us, it is the start of something new—our futures."

Then uncharacteristically, Caden cracked a slight smirk, pausing for a moment, before he went on, "I learned something important from a friend this year… 'Caden', she said, 'nobody knows the future.' And she was right—because I never ever, ever thought—not even in my wildest dreams did I think I would be standing here to give this speech today," he joked and the crowd laughed.

Troy's laughter however was cut abrupt by Allie's elbow in his ribs.

Caden grinned before turning serious again. "But she also told me that just because something is different it doesn't mean it has to be scary—or wrong. Nobody knows the future. And we don't have to know it all now. We don't have to decide right now what we want to do with the rest of our lives." He paused, "Now some of you already have and that's fine. I know most of you," he interjected, and the crowd laughed again.

"But I'm sure if my best friend was up here now, she'd tell you all the same thing—although probably in not as cheesy a way, but bear with me: The world is about change. And life—is about the journey."

A roaring of applause and the ritual tossing of caps punctuated Caden's speech.

As they watched the colorful float parade that followed the ceremony pass by, dimmed by the noise of the entire student body cheering and celebration along the side of the street to conclude the graduation ceremony, Troy noticed Allie's expression suddenly seem far away.

"You okay, babe?" Troy prodded gently.

Allie looked up at him sideways slightly, "Yeah…" she shrugged then sighed in resignation. "I guess I just…never thought my life would end up this way."

"Look," he tipped her chin up so she would meet his gaze. "Your life's not ended up. You've just changed where it's going a little bit. And so far hey," he gave her a reassuring squeeze and a grin, "I like where it's going."

Allie nodded in agreement, at the moment watching Kenya and a few other people from Allie's art class go by with their float. Kenya spotted Allie in the crowd and gave her a crazy wink. Allie smiled at her in return. Then she saw Caden and Nicola on the other side of the stage, talking and laughing.

Then Allie shrugged as-a-matter-of-factly, "You know what they say about change."

"What?" Troy prompted.

Allie's smile widened a little. "It's permanent."

He smiled back at her, reaching over for her hand to interlace his fingers with hers. "Yeah…"

- the end -


a/n: and that's a wrap! thanks again for all you guys who kept up with me through all 45 chapters of allie and troy. thanks for all the awesome reviews, all the support, and all the kicking and motivation for me to complete this story. it's been fun, although kind of a little sad now that i've nothing more to write for this entertaining pair that's kept me going for the better part of two years.

if you all have got some more time and are itching for more of this sort of genre, read The Real Thing and everyone's all-time favorite Oh Captain, my Captain (no, it's not as boring as the title. lolz...) And watch out for Happily Ever Eventually which I hope I will eventually get to continue as soon as my life goes into a state of equilibrium. Haha. as always, leave a review if you've got time. and i really hope you all liked it! ;) see you all on the next story! ciaoz for naowz...