It's All Going to Be Okay It's All Going to Be Okay
By Erin

Disclaimer: Would I be writing fan fiction if I owned 'Roswell?' Nooo... (Also, I don’t own the song “Stranded.” It’s by Plumb, not me!)

Dedication: This goes to… eh… my teachers, for letting me write during exam review.

Author's Note: I've been writing on this for quite some time during school and I've almost got it done. I'm sending it out in parts, though. Sound good?

Commence to the fiction!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter 1


The phone rang and she rolled over in her bed to face the clock's blaring red numbers.

Two thirty-seven in the morning. Who the hell calls someone's house at two thirty-seven in the morning? Damn those aliens.

The shrill ring resounded throughout the room once again and she groaned as she summoned the energy to crawl out of her bed, making her way to the phone on her dresser.

She picked up the receiver. "Hello?' she asked, her annoyance evident.

"Maria?"

"Do you think anyone else would pick up this damn phone at two a.m. in the morning?"

"I just... ah... needed to talk to you before I leave."

"Wait a second, Lizzie - you're leaving? Where are you going? And why didn't I know about this until now?"

"My aunt, you know, Aunt Katherine; she lives in Florida and she offered to hang out with me if I wanted to go to Florida for the summer and I decided that it would be good for me to get away for a while... you know, get a chance to clear my mind about this destiny crap. I... I just made the decision to leave."

"You're leaving?" Maria's voice was fringed with disbelief.

"In the morning... my parents and I are leaving our house at six to get to the airport. My flight leaves at nine o'clock," Liz admitted.

"You're leaving me... us."

"... I'm sorry..."

Maria's voice hardened, "Don't be. Going to Florida will be good for you this summer... just don't forget to write Alex and me. We're both going to be so pitiful without you here."

"Don't worry, I won't forget to write you or Alex. I could never forget you both."

"Good."

"I've got to go pack... give my love to Alex."

"I will, don't worry. We'll miss you, you know that, right?"

"I do know that. I love you."

"Love you, too. Have an awesome time in Florida without me," Maria giggled.

"Oh yeah," Liz responded, trying to stifle her giggles, but failing miserably. "You hold down the fort in Roswell."

"Yep, you know me. I'll talk to you later, Lizzie."

"All right, have a good summer. I'll be back sometime before school starts. Love you."

"Love you, too," and she hung up, a single tear rolling down her rosy cheek.

Her best friend was leaving town to escape a lost love. She was, in a way, running from everything she knew.

And that really scared Maria.


Chapter 2


Five hours later, Maria crawled back out of bed to get dressed in her tacky Crashdown uniform for work.

As she was walking out the door, she yelled, "I'm leaving for work, mom," toward her mother's bedroom door, grabbing a Pop Tart on the way.

Once she closed the door, she sprinted to her car. 9:27. She had three minutes to get to the Crashdown to start her shift. So she jumped into the Jetta and sped off.

Two minutes later, Maria arrived at the Crashdown, slammed on her breaks, jogging into the crowded restaurant with a whole minute to spare.

Once she had made it to the break room, she plopped down on the sofa and sighed.

Just then, Michael sauntered into the room and Maria decided to speak to him, even though he didn't deserve to be spoken to. He had broken her heart, but she still loved him. She hated him for that.

"Hey, Michael."

No answer.

'Typical, he breaks my heart and then refuses to speak to me,' she thought angrily.

She turned to direct her blind fury at the young man who was wrapping an apron around his waist. His eyes never met hers and she dared him silently to look into hers. She'd definitely get him then.

Her plan didn't work. He didn't look up.

She huffed, "Dammit, Michael Guerin! First off, you break my heart. You refuse to speak to me... hell, you can't even look at me. And now, my best friend is gone and I'm going to have to put up with your fucking act the whole damn summer!"

"Who left?" he asked nonchalantly, his eyes never leaving the ground.

"Take a guess, Einstein. It's not like you actually care," she yelled at him as she turned her back and stormed out the door into the crowded cafe.

Oh yeah, her day had started off great.

* * * * *

"Maria!" Alex called from across the restaurant, waving his hands wildly in the air to get her attention.

She stalked slowly towards him, attempting to wipe the permanent scowl from her face and tried to replace it with a bright smile.

"What's the matter?" he asked concerned as she plopped down across from him at his booth.

"Oh..." she paused, frowning in distaste, "just about everything."

"Everything including..." Alex let his voice hang in the air.

Maria nodded slowly and sniffled back her tears.

"Ooh... I see..." and he paused, trying to think of what to say next. "By the way, where's Liz? I haven't seen her today."

"Florida. Well, actually, she's flying to Florida right now... or maybe she's already there... But anyway, she decided to leave Roswell and get away from everything for a while. She's staying with her Aunt Katherine's house and she'll be back sometime before school begins in the fall."

"She went to Florida," Alex stated incredulously.

"She called me this morning to tell me and she sends her love. I made her promise not to forget us and to send us lots of letters and postcards and stuff like that. God, I'm going to miss her."

Alex let the news absorb and sat there for a few minutes, almost in shock.

Maria glanced up at the alien clock on the wall and grimaced.

"My break is almost up. I'm gonna just head back to the break room and get something to drink."

"Oh, okay, Maria. Sorry I couldn't help you. I suck at mending broken hearts."

"Hey - its all right. I didn't ask you to heal me," she stated, a new idea making her grin, "It's all kind of a shock, you know?"

And Alex nodded thoughtfully, agreeing with one of his best friends... the only one left to help him deal with everything.

"It'll all eventually work itself out. I know that it will, Maria," he said softly as she turned to go back to her shift.

One of his best friends was gone.

And he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to deal.

* * * * *

As soon as the clock chimed three, Maria sprinted back into the break room and stripped out of her uniform to throw on her regular clothes.

The idea that she had gotten while talking to Alex was brilliant and she couldn't wait to put it into action.

So she left the Crashdown, climbed into the Jetta, and pointed it in the direction of the Evans' house.

'This had better work,' she thought as she drove in silence.


Chapter 3


A few minutes later, Maria parked her car in front of the Evans' house and made her way up the driveway.

Once she had reached the front door, she paused, and then knocked. Seconds later, she heart a voice from inside that said, "Coming."

Max opened the door and winced when he saw who was standing on his doorstep.

"Maria," he sighed, surprised that she had come to see him. Maybe he would get lucky and she wouldn't yell at him for breaking Liz's heart or something...

"I need your help," she said bluntly as she pushed past him into the house.

"Uhh..." Max began as he followed the blonde, but she cut him off after she had sat down on the couch in the living room.

"It's not hard, I promise."

"Right."

"So, I was thinking today that my heart was broken and I, uh..."

Max cut her off this time, "No, I don't want to take part in anything having to do with getting revenge on Michael. No way. I've already messed up my chances with Liz and well, Michael's my best friend. So no, I'm sorry, Maria, but I cannot help you," he finished and tried to smile at the girl.

And Maria began to laugh,

"What?" he asked, stupefied.

She just laughed harder and got to the point where she fell off the couch.

"Seriously, Maria, I don't see this as a laughing matter."

"You..." she gasped, "Thank that I... want you to help me get back at Michael?"

"Why else would you be here?" he said matter-of-factly.

"I need your help..." Maria stated, her laughter subsiding, "just in a different sort of... alien way."

Max shook his head in vehement protest. "No, no, no, no, no, no..."

"C'mon, Max, you haven't even heard the idea."

"No."

"Well, too bad. You're about to hear it," Maria finally said, frowning slightly at the alien in front of her as she got off the floor and plopped back down onto the couch.

* * * * *

"So..." Max began, unable to comprehend what Maria had just told him. "You want me to heal your broken heart?"

"Yeah - just, you know, work your Samantha/Jeannie/alien thing and fix it. It can't be that hard. I mean, you know how to heal. We all know that..." her voice droned off.

"You want me to heal your broken heart?"

Maria nodded, "Isn't that what I just said?"

"I..." he paused, "I can't."

"What?!?" Maria exclaimed, jumping off the couch enthusiastically, "You can't heal my heart? My ass!"

Max frowned at her as she continued.

"You... you just don't want to help me because Michael is your best friend and... and Liz ran away from you to Florida and you're pissed about that, so you won't help me because I'm Liz's best friend and Michael's ex!"

"Liz left Roswell and went to Florida?" he asked incredulously.

"Duh."

"She seriously left town? Because of me?"

"Well, I quote, 'It would be good for me to get away for awhile,' but basically, that means she left because of you... or that hussy, take your pick."

"So she left."

"Uh huh... that's what we're talking about here, right?"

"She left," he said and sighed in defeat, his head falling into his open hands.

At the sight, Maria took pity on the broken hearted boy, "I'm going to miss her, too."

"I know."

There was silence. "Are you sure that you can't heal my heart?"

Max chuckled as he lifted his head, "Not unless you call ice cream a miracle healer."

And Maria cracked a grin. "You know, I think I could make an exception," before she grabbed Max's hand and made him lead her to the kitchen.


Chapter 4


A few hours later, Maria was still at the Evans' house eating ice cream and talking with Max.

"You know," she admitted, scooping up yet another bite, "I'm gonna miss Lizzie, but I'm starting to like how my luck is turning."

"What do you mean by that?" Max asked through a mouthful of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

"I mean, look at us. We're love-sick and lonely and what better way is there to spend a summer when your best friend has left, or just doesn't talk in your case, and the person that you thought you were in love with leaves you in the dust when he/she finds out about destiny? I mean, this is the best way to spend it, right?"

"Uh huh..."

"What I'm trying to say is," Maria paused as she delved her spoon into the container, "We're in the same boat, Max, and I think that it's cool that we're coping... together."

He nodded as he swallowed another spoonful.

"It's like, I don't know, almost that we were put here together to have to deal with stuff, or something like that."

"Yeah, or something like that."

"You think I'm crazy, don't you?"

"Well..." Max paused for dramatic effect; "I think you're pretty normal for a girl who has had to deal with just about everything any science fiction writer could think of and more."

"True," she admitted thoughtfully.

"Hey! You're supposed to nod and agree, not make snide comments!"

"Yes, your highness," Maria giggled.

"You know I resent that, right?"

"What would you rather be called?" Maria asked, quirking an eyebrow, "We could go with the traditional 'Babe'..." he grimaced, "Or... I know! Girlfriend!"

Max groaned out loud at his new 'name.'

"Hey - you asked for it."

He silently cursed himself as his mom popped her head into the kitchen.

"Hey kids. Still eating ice cream, I see," she chuckled before she turned to leave, "How much did you eat?"

Maria and Max nodded, but their agreements were soon replaced by horrified glances at each other and the counter top.

Littered on the marble-topped island were about ten empty ice cream containers,

"We so did not eat that much ice cream... it's not humanly possible!" Maria exclaimed.

"Umm, Maria? I'm not exactly..." he paused, then completed, "I think that we did..."

"There's no way! That would have taken us hours! It hasn't been hat long since I got here."

"Maria?" he asked as he glanced at his watch, "You've been here since three, meaning we started eating around four, presumably. It's nice o'clock now."

"What!?! I've been here for six hours and it didn't register? Oh God, I missed band practice and didn't call my mom. Max!" she whined, distress evident in her voice.

"Max what?" a voice came from behind her.

"Alex?" she spun around to come face to face with her lanky best friend and his somewhat girlfriend.

"Hey Maria, Max," Isabel shot a questioning glance at her brother as she pushed her way into the kitchen, "Ice cream fest?" she asked once she had seen all of the empty cartons.

"I swear that we didn't eat all of those," Maria stated. "There's no way that we could have eaten that much."

"Maria?" Alex asked.

"What?" she exclaimed, walking closer to the boy.

"How long were you here?"

She paused, "A while..."

"And how long is 'a while?'"

"Umm..." Maria stuttered.

Isabel strode across the room, facing her brother, "Spill it."

"We were just eating ice cream, Izzy."

"Just ice cream?"

"What else would we be doing?" Maria piped up, "It's not like we're both going to be having wild monkey sex while eating the ice cream..."

And with that statement, she got the desired effect - a snicker from Isabel, a laugh from Alex, and to put it shortly, Max's face was so flushed that it looked like a beet.

"Right, Girlfriend?"

And Max nodded slowly in agreement as Isabel and Alex cracked up.


Chapter 5


The next day, Max, Isabel, and Alex visited Maria during her shift.

As soon as she heard the bell on the door chime and saw them stride into the restaurant and head to their booth, she filled up two cherry cokes and an orange soda, struggling as she carried all three to their table at once.

"What's up?" she asked as the glasses clattered down onto the table.

"Not much," Max said, his soulful eyes rising to meet hers.

"Yeah, well," Maria paused and glanced around the cafe, "Not much here, either."

Alex laughed, "You mean to tell me that you aren't enjoying this huge after lunch crowd?"

She rolled her eyes. "You know, that's something every waitress loves to hear.

Isabel smiled sympathetically. "Actually," she began, "We came with a reason."

Maria gasped mockingly, "A reason!" she lowered her voice, "Oh no!" and covered her mouth with her hand in psuedo shock.

Isabel smirked at her, then burst into a fit of giggles. Max chuckled right after it and Alex's smirk changed to his one and only goofy grin.

"So really, what's up?"

"We got another performance."

"Oh my gosh! Really? That's so cool, Alex! When is it? Is it here?..."

Alex cut her off before she could ask any more questions, "July the fourth at the Crash Festival. The Alien Brothers, you know, the guys who were playing last year?" Maria nodded, so he continued, "Well, they canceled and it being a week away, the city couldn't get any big names, so they decided that they could have a local band play... and they chose us!"

"Awesome!"

"I'm gonna get the guys together tonight for practice so that we can figure out what we're gonna play."

"What time?"

"How does 6:30 sound?"

"Sounds fine to me," she smiled. They got another gig! How awesome was that?

Max cleared his throat.

"What's up, girlfriend?" she raised an eyebrow, wondering what he wanted.

"You, uh..." he looked at something that was just over her shoulder.

She turned to find a group of at least twenty walk in with like, ten kids. "Dammit," she cursed under her breath before she turned back to her friends.

"I just want a galaxy burger and some fries," Isabel smiled mockingly.

Maria smirked, "You suck."

The other girl giggled and stuck out her tongue.

"Anything else for you, girlfriend, or Alex?"

"Alien blast and fries."

"Galaxy burger with extra Tabasco."

She smirked at him. "I should have known," as she turned on her heel to give Jose their order before she braved the group of thirty.

* * * * *

Later that night, a frazzled Maria arrived at Alex's house for band practice.

As she trudged in the door, Alex greeted her with a smile. "Hey, Maria - have fun with the party of monsters?"

She slowly made her way across the room, sufficiently glaring at the boy before she plopped down on the comfy couch.

"Actually," she sighed, "they were a little league team who was celebrating the end of their non-victorious season. I swear, I was running to and from their table for like, three hours!"

"Ouch," Jimmy, the drummer, commented.

"Yeah, sounds like you had a rough time," Alex stated, looking at his pitiful best friend.

"But it's over now," she said, lifting her head as a grin crept across her lips. "What are the plans for the Crash Fest?"

"We've gotten everything planned except for the last song."

"Ooh... sounds good!"

"We want you to pick it," said the bassist.

"Really?"

"Yes really."

Maria jumped up and ran across the room to envelope her best friend in a giant bear hug. "Thank you, Alex. Thanks so much!"

"I'm assuming that you have some ideas?" Alex chuckled.

She grinned, "Just a few."


Chapter 6


Maria paced backstage as the Whits waited for their intro. Her band mates tuned their instruments one last time before going on stage in the other corner of the room. It was almost like they were all in their own little worlds.

"I can't believe I wore this," she mumbled, brushing a lose strand of short hair out of her eye. "I mean, what was I thinking?"

Just then, Max and Isabel walked into the backstage area and came up to her.

"Hey there," Max smiled and waved.

"Hey Maria," Isabel greeted, grinning.

She waved to the siblings. "Sorry Max, but I need to borrow Isabel for a few minutes."

Isabel looked at Maria like she had grown another head. "Uh, yeah, Max. Go get us a good spot for the show."

Max glared jokingly at the girls, "I'm remembering this," was all that he said before he turned on his heel and walked out the stage door.

Once Max had gone, Isabel turned to Maria, puzzled. "What's the matter?"

"Is it not obvious?" Maria sighed.

"Seriously, what?"

"My hair and my clothes. What was I thinking?"

"Well, I think that I can help you out there," Isabel smiled sympathetically at the girl as she waved her hand over the clothes, changing the glittery halter top into a retro sleeveless one and the leather pants into a short plaid skirt. "How does it look?"

Maria practically ran to the full-length mirror that was on the other side of the room. "I like..." she paused as she brushed a strand of hair out of her face. "But what about my hair?"

"That's easy," Isabel grinned as she ran her hand through Maria's golden hair, making it longer and somewhat curly. "Viol la! Instant makeover!"

As soon as Maria saw her long golden locks, she squealed in delight. "Thank you, Isabel!" and hugged the tall alien.

"Anytime," the other girl smiled. "If you ever need any more help with this stuff, you know where to find me. But I'm gonna go and find Max before out go onstage," she said quickly as she pulled away.

"Thanks. I'm gonna need it," Maria called to her as she ran out of the backstage area.

Then, Maria saw Alex and the guys signal her onto stage.

This was it!

* * * * *

The show went by without a hitch and Maria was ecstatic that the crowd had accepted them so well in place of the Alien Brothers.

That was, until the last song.

The band was currently taking a break and Maria, being the lucky girl that she was, saw Michael in the crowd.

'Great, just great,' her mind sighed. He just had to come for this last song, of all of the songs, didn't he?

Alex had noticed that Michael was there, too, and saw Maria's shaken state. "You know that you don't have to do it if you don't want to."

She shook her head and met his eyes. "No, I'm not quitting because of him. I have to do this."

Alex nodded, understanding. "Well, are you ready to go on?"

She sent him a wavering smile. "As ready as Ill ever be," she whispered as he took her hand and led her onto the stage, the other band mates following.

"Hey, y'all," Maria cooed into the microphone, her nervousness gone. "We're at our last song... a slow one... so before you go to cheer on the crashing spaceship, at least listen to the words."

The guitar began to play in the background and she met Michael's eyes when she began singing.

"You know it only breaks my heart
to see you standing in the dark
Alone... waiting there for me
to come back, I'm too afraid to show...
"

A single tear slipped down her cheek as she sand the chorus of this song that was enchanting her audience; either making them dance or stop to listen to the words.

"So if it's coming over you
Like it's coming over me
Crashing like a tidal wave
that drags me out to sea
I want to be with you
If you want to be with me
Crashing like a tidal wave
and I don't want to be
Stranded...
Stranded...
Stranded...
Stranded...
"

As she scanned the crowd, she saw Isabel gazing at the stage with tears in her eyes. She knew what this song was about.

She caught Max's eye and he automatically winked at her and sent her a sympathetic smile that told her everything. He understood, too, why she chose this song.

"I can only take so much
These tears are turning me to rust
I know you're waiting there for me
to come back
But I'm too afraid to show...
"

Another crowd search. She found Michael this time, but he refused to meet her eyes. Despite the 'stone wall' that he tried so desperately to be, he knew why she chose this song, too.

But instead of daring him to meet her emerald eyes, she turned and smiled at Alex as she began to sing the chorus one more time.

"So if it's coming over you
Like it's coming over me
Crashing like a tidal wave
that drags me out to sea
I want to be with you
If you want to be with me
Crashing like a tidal wave
and I don't want to be
Stranded...
Stranded...
Stranded...
Stranded...
"

This time, Maria didn't look back into the crowd. It was too painful as she was finishing this song that expressed everything that she was feeling. She was putting everything she felt on a platter and serving it to the audience, not knowing how they would react or who would understand what it was about.

But by the looks of things, it seemed as if everyone understood.

"I miss you
I knew you
Without you
I'm stranded
I love you
So come back
I'm not afraid so show
So if it's coming over you
Like it's coming over me
Crashing like a tidal wave
that drags me out to sea
I want to be with you
If you want to be with me
Crashing like a tidal wave
and I don't want to be
Stranded...
Stranded...
Stranded...
Stranded...
"

Her voice drifted off and the crowd cheered and hollered as the Whits exited the stage.

* * * * *

As soon as she was off the stage, Maria turned around to Alex, who was still wielding his bass guitar and wrapped her arms around his neck, enveloping him in a hug, despite the bulky instrument.

"You did wonderful," she whispered in his ear.

"So did you."

"What about we go out for some kind of celebration ice cream before the big crash is over?" she asked.

Before Alex had a chance to answer, Isabel and Max walked in the door, literally dragging Michael behind them.

"Hey," Isabel waved and smiled. "You looked great." And she winked.

Maria giggled.

Max waved.

Michael groaned and rolled his eyes when he saw Maria standing there.

"What's this that I hear about an ice cream celebration?" Isabel asked curiously.

"Umm..." Alex paused, looking for Maria's approval. She nodded, "We were just going to go get some ice cream since the crowd really got into it. We think that we deserve a treat."

"Sounds like fun," the blonde alien smiled.

"Do you want to come?"

Her smile grew at the question. "Of course!"

Max nodded his agreement.

"Well - " Michael stated, "I'll just walk home, then."

Isabel shot him a look, "I'm sure that Maria will be glad to take you home," and she winked at Maria, "Right?"

"Yeah, sure," Maria tried to sound convincing, but she didn't think that it phased Michael, because he rolled his eyes and glared at Isabel.

They stood in an awkward silence.

Alex broke it, "Well, ready to go?" he asked as he put his bass back into it's case."

Maria nodded, "Let's go, Michael. I'll drop you off and then I'll go back for ice cream if I feel like it."

"Sounds good."

"See ya there."

"Gimme a call if you aren't coming," Max reminded her with a sad smile as he walked out the door, following his sister and Alex.

"Okay," she called after him, then turned to Michael. "Let's go," and she headed towards the door, Michael trudging slowly behind her.

They walked in silence to the Jetta.

As soon as she had hopped into the driver's seat and buckled up, she stuck the key into the ignition and revved the engine.

"You know that you don't have to take me home," he said quietly, staring out the window.

"Yeah, well, I am."

Silence.

"Michael..." she began, but he cut her off.

"Don't. Just stop there. We both know that we can't be together because... because I might hurt you and it's not safe."

"Michael..."

"No, Maria. I'm not getting into this with you. I can't think about our stupid relationship right now because I have to concentrate on my powers and protect everyone. And I love you too much to put you through all this same old shit again," he finished at a whisper. "So don't try to change my mind because it's already been made. Okay?"

Maria nodded, tears beginning to form in her eyes. A sob was choked up in her throat, but she couldn't let him see her cry.

So they drove in an awkward silence the rest of the way to his apartment.

Once there, he left without a word, not even a 'good night' or the ever so polite 'thank you.'

As soon as the apartment door closed behind him, the tears came streaming down her face.

He loved her too much to put her through it. So he'd make her go through it alone. Yeah - that was comforting, she thought as she drove home.


Chapter 7


The next day, Maria drove to Max's house after she woke up.

She parked her tattered car on the street and walked up to the door. One knock was all it took.

Max came to the door and smiled sympathetically at her. "Hey there. You didn't call last night. We were worried."

"Yeah, I know. Sorry."

"What's up?"

"Nothing really."

"Do you wanna come in?"

She nodded and tried to smile, but had no apparent luck.

Once inside, Max led Maria to his bedroom.

"What's the matter?" he asked as she sat down on his bed and he plopped down on his chair next to her.

She sighed, "Everything."

"That much?" he asked as he reached for his CD player and turned on his Counting Crows 'mourning' CD.

No reply.

He turned to find Maria holding her head in her hands.

"What's bothering you?"

Maria raised her head and her emerald green eyes were shimmering with tears and angry red tracks ran down her porcelain cheeks.

Max tried to fight back the urge to stride across the room and wrap his long arms around her frame.

He lost the battle, though, and immediately got up, walked over to the tiny girl sitting on his bed, and wrapped his arms around her.

She sobbed into his shoulder and he held her for quite some time.

She finally lifted her head and stared into his eyes. "Thanks," she sniffled.

"Anytime."

They sat in silence for a few minutes, both trying to find words to fill the silence.

"Do you miss her?"

"Yeah. Yeah... I miss her every day and every night and all the time in between," he paused, "Do you miss him?"

She thought for a minute. "You know, I thought that I did. I really thought that I was going to die when he told me that we couldn't be together because he loved me too much, or whatever. But he said it again last night when I tried to tell him that I missed him. And I realized something - he thinks this is the best for us... because he loves me. And now that I look back on it, I'm gonna be okay."

"You really think so?"

She grinned, "I hope so."

"I'm going to be okay, too. I mean, she left me. And he left you. Enough said. We're going to make it through this together..."

"And it's all going to be okay," she completed, smiling. "Right, girlfriend?"

"Right," he grinned. "It's all going to be okay."


The End