Endings & Beginnings
Buffy heard the car drive up and knew that Caleb had returned. She had hoped that he would and that he wouldn't. She had wanted him to return so that she could make sure for herself that he was okay. Yes, everyone, including Caleb himself had said that he was. She just wanted to have the privilege, the luxury, of seeing that, ensuring that for herself. To take her hands and brush them over his handsome face, feeling for any remnants of Chase's power sticking to him, and chasing them away with her own hands. Using her senses, not just the physical but the emotional and metaphysical ones as well to search his aura to ensure that it remained whole and that Chase Goodwin Pope wasn't able to obtain even just a little nibble of Caleb's inner core. More importantly than all the others, she just wanted to hold him in her arms and know that he was safe. Know that although a Big Bad had threatened his life, that he was safe, sound and whole, and that she had played a part in achieving that goal. Taking a deep breath, she knew what happened next could lead to a new life for her or close a chapter on her hopes for said new life. She straightened her shoulders, then turned to face the doorway, waiting for the Sons to return to hear about their future and to let her know about her own.
Caleb saw her standing there waiting for him. He couldn't find the words to describe how beautiful she looked. Ethereal. Luminous. Fairylike. None of them did justice to the creature that waited for him. Soft light turned her hair into a golden cloud that lay softly about her shoulder before falling down her back. The crème satin gown, though marred from her earlier battle, hugged her body lovingly, pooling around her tiny bare feet. It seemed incongruous that the tiny toes with pink polish that peeked out from the gown's edge belonged to a powerful witch who had protected him and his friends. She had not only protected them, she had battled against Chase, battled…and won. Chase, with his inherited powers from his father, had been a powerful opponent, and yet Buffy had taken him out without too much trouble, or so it appeared to him.
She watched the memories play over his face. The memories brought questions, which brought doubts, which carried fear. It hurt her heart that he could be afraid of her. She didn't blame him and would feel the same way if she were in his place. Still, it didn't stop the sharp bite of pain that lanced through her heart. She had to push forward and face whatever fate threw her way.
"Hello, Caleb," she said, smiling at him softly. "I'm glad that you decided to come back."
He stepped into the barn, hesitating when she spoke. "I wanted, needed some answers…and ne…to see if you were all right."
She heard what he had started to say, and it lightened her heart. "I understand. Are the others coming for story time or just you?" Her eyes went toward the door, watching for the three other Sons' entrance. She wasn't disappointed as they came tramping inside not too much later. "Hey guys, uh, pull up some hay and let's talk." Caleb started to speak when she held up a small hand and he couldn't draw his eyes away from her beautiful face.
"Okay, lover boy, we know that you'd like some alone time with your woman, but the rest of us would like to know what's going happening. So, the quicker she tells us, the sooner we'll, you know, leave you two alone." Reid stuck his tongue out at Caleb while he gave Buffy a knowing smile.
"Okay, here goes. You know who the Powers are, right?" They dutifully nodded their heads. She held back the giggle that was trying very hard to escape. They looked like little boys ready to hear a scary bedtime story. "They pretty much move everyone around on a big whopping chessboard, deciding our fates, depending on which day of the week it is."
A large bolt of lightening shot from the sky, hitting mere inches from her foot. Pogue jumped back, Reid tackled Tyler to the ground, while Caleb leapt across the short distance toward Buffy. He skidded to halt when she rolled her eyes up at the ceiling.
"Cool it with the lightening bolts, would you? I'm barefoot here."
"Uh, Buffy, I don't think that they like your 'tude," Tyler said as he pushed Reid off him, brushing away the hay and dirt that clung to his clothes.
"Yeah, I get that a lot. They'll just have to live with it, though. You can make up your own mind once you've been their butt monkey for a while and tell me if you don't agree." Crossing her arms at chest level, she gave them a smug smirk that let them know that she hadn't told them the half of it. "Where was I in the tale of Buffy, and how she came to join the Sons of Ipswich? Oh, yeah, too bad that we don't have alcohol, I'm sure that you'd believe this easier with alcohol. I know that I'd believe me better. 'Cept last time I drank beer it was cursed and I went all cave Buffy on my bestest male friend." Her shoulder went up in a casual shrug as she settled down on an overturned bucket. Four healthy teenaged boys' minds generated mental pictures that brought a quick protest to her lips. "Eww, get your minds out of the gutter." She wrinkled her nose at them, and then giggled when they looked everywhere but at her. "Back to the story…I'm not from around here, which you already knew. What you don't know is how far away home really is…They told me that I broke the rules… This is kinda funny if you think about it…They explained about what they wanted me to do here…Caleb, the Covenant of Silence, the Sons, everything to do with this world…I only agreed to come here if they agreed to my conditions….And that's how I went from being Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Buffy Summers, the one time only messenger for the Powers and Caleb's backup against the Big Bad." She finished her story and sat back, waiting for it to all sink in. That's when the questions would start. It didn't surprise her that Reid was the first to speak.
"So, you came here as a spy, and if everything worked out then you get to stay. That's whack. I'm with you; those Powers are way cruel. Did they have you put a spell on my man, Caleb, to make your job easier?" Reid's eyes narrowed as his hands clenched as if he wanted to throw a bolt of lightening at her if she answered the wrong way.
"No, that's gross," she answered, her nose automatically wrinkling without her realizing it. "I like Caleb, which surprised me." She saw the expression on Caleb's face and quickly tried to explain. "Not that you're not gorgeous and sweet and great boyfriend material." She stopped when Pogue punched him in the arm, while Reid put a hand over his heart and fluttered his lashes at him. Her cheeks flared bright red with embarrassment. "Uh, well, you see I haven't had great luck with my choice of guys in the past. Caleb," she said softly, her eyes softened as he looked at her. "I'd like to keep seeing you after today, but it's up to you."
"Erm." Tyler cleared his throat, feeling uncomfortable witnessing the private moment. "Pogue mentioned something about our powers changing. What's that about?" Ever to the point, like a dog with a bone, the Sons knew that they could count on their youngest member.
A mega-watt smile spread across Buffy's face. It literally took her audience's breath away. Caleb felt his heart turn over in his chest, and admitted that no matter the circumstances, he cared for her and wanted to try to work things out between them.
"That's the best part about all this. Well, for you guys. I thought that having power that when you used it, it burned your body up was stupid. So, I got the Powers to agree that if you guys fought off Chase without any thoughts of your own safety, that your powers should change." She watched them, seeing when her words finally sunk in and understanding dawned.
"What are you saying? How have they changed? Are they changed for good, or until the Powers want to change them back? What are the rules? There are always rules," Tyler asked the questions in rapid-fire succession. The Sons heads whipped around to their fourth and junior most member, then back to the woman who could provide the answers.
She took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Hold onto your hats, boys, you can use your powers without worrying about them aging you." They whooped and hollered, slapping each other on the back. She waited for them to calm down, before proceeding. Tyler was the first to realize that she wasn't through talking. He shoved Reid, motioning for him to sit back down and listen to the rest. The high-strung Son tapped Pogue and Caleb to let them know that there was more news. Once the Sons had settled down, Buffy sat back down to let them know the rest.
"Of course, you can't just use them anyway you want. You can't go to Vegas and run the strip or anything else that stupid." She laughed when she saw Reid's shoulders droop. "The Powers agreed that if you use your powers wisely, there won't be any repercussions. What does that mean? If you don't use them for self-gain, then they won't burn your body out, which was a stupid rule anyway." She saw Caleb wince. "I'm sorry Caleb, but there isn't anything that can be done for your father. He accepted his fate and ignored the rules that he had to live by. You four can live a long and happy life, using your powers to help others when needed without any repercussions. They're part of you and you don't have to be afraid of them any longer. Your families have done great things throughout history with their powers and still have paid the price for using them. Now, you don't have to; and any children you have won't either."
They didn't say a word, just turned to look at each other. Unable to believe that this was even possible, it finally sunk in and smiles slowly crept across their faces. They came to their feet simultaneously, grabbing hold of each others' arms, pulling together in a group hug. A huge weight had been lifted from their shoulders. They actually had a future where they could see further than only a few decades. ~*~
Caleb broke away from his friends to walk over to the small blonde that quietly watched him. Her large hazel eyes asked questions that he wasn't sure he could answer. He held out a hand to her, which he was glad to see that she took without hesitation. His steps automatically led them outside for a private conversation. When they were alone in the dark, he dropped her hand and turned his face up toward the full moon. He closed his eyes as the night played over in his mind. He saw her standing there with her eyes blazing amber as she took out Chase, then he remembered her floating above the ground helplessly. The conflicting images tore at his heart and mind. He didn't know what to think or feel for the woman, who had brought so much to his life, but she had carried it to him covered in lies.
"Caleb," she whispered his name, breaking his train of thought. He turned to look down at her beautiful face bathed in moonlight. Tears filled her eyes when she saw the confusion written on his face. "I didn't plan on falling for you." She explained in a halting voice. "You took me by surprise. I want you to know that whatever happens next is up to you. I'll leave Ipswich if you want me to." She had to force the words from her throat, but knew that she had to offer him the choice.
He took another step away from her, turning his back to her. Raking a hand through his hair, he let out a heavy sigh. What did he want? Buffy took his stance as a rejection and started walking away. She had only taken a few steps when she felt a strong hand on her shoulder. She stopped, glancing over her shoulder. Caleb stood there with his heart in his eyes. He turned her around, then took a step forward, bringing their bodies together. His other hand came up to caress her cheek. They stared into each others eyes as their lips drew closer until they met in a tender kiss. The kiss grew in intensity as their emotions came to the forefront.
He leaned back so that he could look into her eyes. "Buffy, I won't say that I'm not upset that you weren't honest with me, but I don't want to lose you. Will you stay in Ipswich with me? Let's see how things go from here. But, we have to be completely honest with each other, no more secrets - deal?" He gave her a sweet smile as he waited for her answer.
She rose up on tiptoe to plant a quick kiss on his lips. "I'd like that very much. Not that I wouldn't have left if you would have asked me to, but I sure didn't want to." He pressed his forehead against hers as she fell flat-footed back to the ground. They smiled into each others eyes, happy to be here with each other even though everything wasn't perfect. They knew that they had time to work through their problems. The End