New York. A sunny, peaceful afternoon. All of the mess created from the recent rioting had been cleaned up. Cars beeped their horns, people walked to and fro, carrying out various errands, sirens on police cars and ambulances wailed, birds left droppings on people's shoulders. Everything was back to normal. Hard to believe that just 48 hours ago, the city had gone to hell. Zack walked up the front steps to school. Classes had resumed, though the gymnasium and Principal's Office were still under reconstruction. A metal detector was now in place, with a Security Guard standing nearby. Zack passed through the Security check with no problems and continued on his way. His classroom was empty. He was about 10 minutes early. He sat down at his desk and looked with a frown at the spot inwhich Cody and Todd's desks once sat.
The sound of footsteps echoed in the hallway nearby. Zack turned around to see Melissa walk into the classroom. A shocked look came over her face when she saw him sitting there. She ran as fast as she could towards him. "You.. You're alive?" "Oh. Yeah. I.. Uh, went out the back door.. How's Josh doing?" He asked. Melissa sat down at her desk.
"He's fine. They released him from the hospital the other night. Matt told his parents about the gang and the Warehouse.. Then they passed the news along to Josh's parents. They were furious. I heard talk that they might be shipping him off to Military School.." There were more echoing footsteps heard. Zack and Melissa noticed Matt enter the classroom. He was silent. He waved at them, the two waved back. He then took his seat on the other end of the room. "Anyway, I'm glad you're okay.. I was worried you got trapped in there." She said. Zack pulled out a sheet of paper. "What are you writing?" She asked. "I dunno, just doodling.." Zack crudely sketched a horse dressed like a ninja in battle stance. Melissa giggled. "You gotta teach me how to do that.." She said. Zack smiled and handed her a sheet of paper. She smiled back at him. The two drew pictures together as they waited for the schoolday to begin.
A cemetery. Ray stood on a hill underneath a tree, looking at a Gravestone, wearing his black vest. He had shaved all of the stubble from his chin. His old, thick glasses were now replaced with a stylish new pair, and his messy hair had been neatly trimmed, no longer touching his shoulders. The wind was strong today. Some leaves blew about in the autumn air, his hair rustled back and forth in the breeze. The Gravestone said "Linda Parker July 17th - November 3rd" Below it was text saying "Gone, but never forgotten" To its right was a gravestone, which read "Raymond Allison May 5th - December 25th RIP" At the bottom of the hill, he could see some figures approaching. He hid behind a tree and looked at them more closely. It was his parents. His relationship with them had been rocky the past few years, mostly due to his prior addiction to alcohol. His mother got down on one knee and placed a bouquet of purple flowers on his Gravestone. His father helped her back onto her feet. Ray smiled, seeing that they actually bothered to visit him. Part of him wanted to hug his mother and tell her everything was okay, but he knew doing that would only open a can of worms which could result in both him and Zack being hunted once again. Besides, working at The Facility, he now had a renewed sense of purpose that he wouldn't have if he were to go back to his old life. His heart shattered as he watched his family walk away, knowing he might never see them again. "Bye Mom.." He quietly whispered from behind the tree.
The bell rang at school. The entire student body ran out of their classrooms, knocking each other down. Yells and laughs were heard in the commotion. Ray waited outside, wearing a black suit and smoking a cigarette, while leaning against a shiny black Mustang. Zack approached. Ray dropped the cigarette and squished it underneath his foot, then swatted some of the smoke away. "Have a nice day?" He asked. "Yeah.. Uhm, Melissa invited me to her house to do some homework together." Ray looked up and could see Melissa standing in the distance, looking at the two. "Oh. So that's your gir-" "Shut up." Zack said with narrowed eyes. "Go ahead." Ray said with a smile. Zack started to walk away. "Oh, one more thing.." Zack stopped and looked at him. Ray pulled out a case file. "When you get back, there's some "extra" homework waiting for you.." Zack smiled and ran off in her direction. Ray opened his cardoor, when a snowflake fell onto his shoulder. He looked upward. A few flurries fell from the sky. Another Christmas was on its way. He got into his seat, closed the door behind him and buckled up. As he turned the key in the ignition, he looked back at Zack and Melissa. He felt a sense of rebirth as he watched the two walk away. His past no longer haunted him, he had a new home, a new purpose in life, and for the first time in what seemed like forever, a new sense of optimism. He smiled as he watched the two walk off into the distance.