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Chapter 12 - Epilogue

"Please, quiet down. We'll start the dance in just a few minutes."

Slowly, the crowd of teenagers began to pay attention to what was going on on the stage.

"The votes have been tallied and we have the results. I'm sure that it won't be a surprise to anyone that this year's homecoming king is the captain of the football team and has also maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average all the way through high school. Everyone, put your hands together for your new king, Daniel MacAlistair."

Heartfelt applause rose up through the hall, as a handsome young man stepped onto the stage, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Brian applauded along with everyone else, pouring out his adoration for Danny. Jack was his big brother and held a special and very different place in his heart. But Danny was, undeniably, his best friend.

The announcer stepped forward and reverently placed a crown on Danny's head.

When the applause died down, the announcer said, "After much debate and soul-searching, the administration came to a decision that our disqualifying a candidate from a homecoming court position on the basis of gender would be the height of hypocrisy. So, without further adieu, I am honored to introduce this year's homecoming queen, who has the distinction of being the senior class president as well as the goalkeeper of our soccer team for the past two years. Everyone, join me in celebrating the new queen, Brian Weston."

There were some laughs, but also sincere applause as Brian made his way up onto the stage.

Brian broke into uncontrollable giggles when the announcer put the tiara on his head.

As he looked out over the crowd, he spotted Jack and his fiancee, standing just inside the door of the gymnasium. They both wore matching expressions of pride for Brian on their happy faces. Jack's quest for a new job, new friends and a new girlfriend yielded favorable results on all three fronts. Brian had been there to encourage Jack every step of the way, just the same way that Jack had always been there for him... and always would be.

"If everyone will clear the dance floor, it's customary for the King and Queen to have the honor of the first dance." The announcer said, and wasn't able to restrain his smile.

Once Brian and Danny were on the dance floor, the music started and Danny pulled Brian close.

After a few steps, Danny firmly said, "I'm the king, I lead."

"Fine." Brian said with resignation and stopped trying to take control of the dance.

"Admit it, you're enjoying this." Danny said as he slowly glided Brian around the dance floor.

"Yeah. I guess so. It's fun, and I'll remember this night forever." Brian said honestly.

Danny smiled at the answer as he and Brian continued to waltz to the music.

Brian caught a glimpse of Jarritt standing in the crowd, dressed in his tuxedo. The thing that caught Brian's attention most was the stark white flower on his lapel. One day, Danny had made Jarritt a paper airplane, in an attempt to keep him entertained. That moment changed Jarritt's life forever. Since that day, with the encouragement of all his friends, Jarritt taught himself the art of origami. Everyone who knew Jarritt was proud of him for mastering the delicate art, but most importantly, Jarritt was proud of himself.

"You arranged this, didn't you?" Brian asked speculatively as they danced.

"I voted for you." Danny said simply, then added, "I really don't know who was behind the 'write-in' campaign, but everyone I talked to thought it was a wonderful idea."

"Well, I will solemnly vow to fulfill my duties to the best of my ability." Brian said in a dignified voice before breaking into laughter.

"You had enough of this yet?" Danny asked seriously.

"What did you have in mind?" Brian asked curiously.

Rather than answer verbally, Danny raised a hand and motioned to two girls who were giggling hysterically.

As Danny turned him, Brian saw the girls give each other an uncertain look, then take hold of each other and dance out onto the floor to join them.

Howls of laughter rang through the gymnasium at the new development.

Brian couldn't restrain his smile as the girls waltzed over to them.

"Switch partners?" Danny asked as they passed the other couple.

"Sounds kinky." Kendra, Danny's girlfriend, called out playfully.

"I'm that kind of a guy." Danny responded unrepentantly.

As Brian and Danny released each other, Brian noticed that one other couple had joined them on the dance floor. Myron and Gerry, both in their tuxedos, danced around the floor as if no one else in the world existed. Gerry was simply an older version of his younger self, but Myron's appearance was drastically different. He had lost the 'baby fat' that he once carried and had grown into an incredibly handsome young man. If asked, any girl in school would describe him as 'dreamy'.

Brian looked into the eyes of Melissa, his girlfriend of the past two years, and could see the love and pride shining for him. He noticed the paper flower on her dress and smiled. Kendra and Melissa had spread the word about Jarritt's flowers, and by homecoming, nearly everyone in their class had received a flower that was handmade by Jarritt and airbrushed by Danny to match their outfit. Brian and Melissa each wore brilliant blue roses while Danny and Kendra were wearing matching red.

"I never in a million years would have dreamed that I would be dating the Homecoming Queen." Melissa said with a broad smile as she returned his loving gaze.

"You should have seen it coming. After all, I used to be a princess."

...and they all lived happily ever after.


Editor's Notes:

It is always sad, in a way, to see a story of this caliber end. Having said that, I suspect we haven't seen the last of our friends that we met here in this story. I know MultiMapper well enough to know that he won't let people we have grown to love sit idly by, and leave us wondering what is going on with them. Mark my words! Grin

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher