This has been one long, drawn out story. For those that stuck through to the end of this, thanks for reading. I've got other TT works in progress, which I hope to finish sometime soon.

I drew out this story beyond the defeat to reach the conclusion with those dream, wrap up a few loose strings so to speak. Anyways, this is the last chapter, so I can finally say this project is complete. #42 is the conclusion, and---according to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy---also the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Enjoy, and thanks for all the readers that chose to read this and give their reviews. I deeply appreciate it!

~Mara


Chapter 42: Beautiful Morning [In My Life]

Sunshine filtered in through the bayside window, bright and brilliant in the welcoming opening to yet another beautiful morning.

Raven couldn't help but wonder how five years had escaped her so quickly; that beautiful sun brightened morning was the opening to the fifth anniversary of them speaking their vows to each other, and she was wondering what the day had planned for celebrating it.

Kane was out in the yard—enjoying the day in the sunshine as much as he could. Raven stood watch at the kitchen window, smiling every time he looked her way.

Their daughter was in her room, working on some project she wouldn't tell either about—it was supposed to be a surprise.

Raven had long ago adjusted to the life of a parent; after she'd had that falling out with Kane, she'd realized she needed to see a doctor about finding some solution to the hormone imbalances. To her relief—the doctor was able to give her something to help her, and everything went smoothly for the months to follow.

Raven recalled only partially the day her daughter was born—she had been in pain most of the day, and a lot of it was foggy due to the medications they had induced her with to keep her from screaming. She recalled Kane being at her side, coaching her the whole way. Most of the rest of it was blank—until she got to hold her daughter for the first time.

She had been so weary and drugged that she hadn't really been thinking clearly, but the moment she was handed the infant—she had a moment of clarity absent of the effects the drugs or weariness had plagued her with before. It was the one moment from that day she remembered clearly and vividly—and one she would never forget.

Their daughter had grown in the years that had escaped her so fast; Raven never realized up to that point how fast time could fly by. What she had thought was going to be so rough and grueling had turned out to be like Phoebe had said—not as hard as you might think.

In those years she recalled all the changes lady fate had instilled in the lives she once felt would remain unchanged; Robin and Starfire had taken pretty much to married life as much as Raven had—possibly even more. Unlike Raven though—Starfire didn't have to foresee having children to even realize that she eventually would; Starfire just knew she always had been suited for the role. When she eventually announced she was expecting, Starfire was very enthusiastic—and remained that way during the whole several month stretch without any hints of regrets.

Raven sometimes wondered if Kane had been jealous of Robin for the fact that he didn't end up being swamped by the same kind of baggage he had been when Raven herself was pregnant. She couldn't blame Kane if he ever was jealous.

Around the time of Raven and Kane's second anniversary, Billie had managed to talk Beast Boy into taking courses at the same campus she was attending, explaining to him that an education was very important. Raven just wondered at that time if it was just to get him onto campus so he'd be closer to her. Either way—it had worked, and Beast Boy was taking courses that following fall.

Billie had prolonged any plans they had for their relationship from going any further until she graduated—in hopes that she could establish her footing in the career she'd studied so hard to get into. Gar understood—and agreed with her. He too wanted to finish his own studies before pursuing anything like marriage or a family.

Raven knew that Billie would be graduating soon, and she wondered what kind of plans the two had for the graduation—for after it. Beast Boy had attended a shorter curriculum than Billie, a two-year program he'd be graduating from as well. Raven had promised to be there—for both ceremonies.

Kane had put out another novel not long after Beast Boy had joined Billie on campus. It had been a tragic romance story built around the main character's devotion to those he loved and the people he made the ultimate sacrifice to protect. Raven had to question his choice on the topic of the main's love interest being a witch; when she later learned from Kane that the story was based on the accounts of Artie's past life—as recounted by Artie himself—she started to get a better understanding of Kane's whitelighter friend as more than just a guardian angel. She also understood the reason why Kane had suggested naming their daughter Rachel in the first place.

When Cyborg and Beast Boy heard that was what Kane's novel was really about—both inquired about getting copies. Apparently both were curious about Artie's life before his two-century afterlife as a whitelighter. Kane offered Cyborg a complementary copy—in exchange for giving Artie some lessons on how to operate different types of technology—namely the computer. Cyborg willing agreed to the terms—with some delight.

The Charmed Ones became a daily existence—from occasional announcements that one sister or another was expecting, to just the normal visits Raven kept with Phoebe over the years.

Paige had finally joined her sisters in parenthood with a baby boy—giving her a taste of what it was like to be hormonally unleveled. It made Raven feel better hearing that Paige ran into some marital and whitelighter issues of her own during that nine month stretch. Henry seemed more interested in spending that time with his parolees than his wife—who turned out to be a force to be reckoned with.

Raven had been formally introduced to Paige's beau not long after the final demise of the Source. Henry was human through and through—a parole officer who was very devoted to keeping his parolees under his watch clean. Unlike the other two living Halliwells' husbands—Henry's background was uncomplicated. Raven recalled mentioning something to Robin later on about Henry and his job, also recalling Robin being intrigued by Henry enough to later make the effort to meet him.

When Raven thought about the Halliwells and the guys they ended up with—she had found some common links between traits in them in particular; involvement in law enforcement; forbidden love; guides & teachers; guardians. As different as all four sisters were—it was apparent how they chose love in particular was a familial trait.

As much as she had despised the mad man, she had to thank Slade for introducing her to the Charmed Ones by yet again stirring up trouble in her life and those of her friends. His meddling in magic as the Source had given her insight to a reality she didn't even realize existed—and she was grateful for that, even if he had almost succeeded in destroying her once more.

If it hadn't been for Slade's meddling—Robin never would've gotten the closure he needed to move on. He no longer was haunted by the day Slade had haunted him as a by-product of some mind-altering dust. His need to no longer pursue the avenue of understanding his archenemy's motives opened up opportunities for him and Starfire that might not have been plausible so much before—like a life for each other outside of crime fighting.

Also—Beast Boy wouldn't have had the chance to mend his bridges with the past involving Terra without Slade to be thankful for—or for that matter his introduction to Billie for that matter.

As much as their archenemy had intended on destroying their lives—he and his pact with the demon of fear had done more for all of them then it had hurt them. Instead of tearing them all apart, it brought two parties that had been oblivious to each other's existence together. It had opened up new avenues, ways of life—and understandings, for good.

And if it hadn't been for Slade—and Barbas—Raven probably wouldn't have ever met a whitelighter she came to know as Kane.

That former whitelighter was out gardening in the yard under her watchful eye, a sight she was very thankful to have for herself.

With the day being their fifth anniversary, Raven had left the schedule open for whenever Kane came in from outdoors. The day was just beginning—so she was in no hurry to have him come inside.

RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

The project their daughter had been working on was the artwork Raven had foreseen in a dream those years back—when the dreams didn't have any real meaning to her. Raven finally got to witness the reaction from the little girl's father when they showed it to him when they went looking for him in the yard. Raven would have to tell Kane the significance of that moment later, when their little girl was put to bed.

That wasn't the only thing Raven meant to speak with him about when the time came—and she anticipated having the moment alone with him when it finally arose.

The day was coming to a close—the sun departing on the horizon, about to be swallowed up by the sea and the shades of night. Both met up to watch the sun set together—taking the moment to just enjoy the placid silence of the view of the Pacific.

"I apologize for not taking you to some fancy establishment for number five's celebration," Kane told her as they headed back indoors. "Someone needed to be here for little Rae—and I couldn't find anyone on short notice. I didn't feel right just leaving her with a stranger, pulling any more favors out of Artie—or dragging her along to something she'd end up tired and cranky at."

"I prefer a private venue," Raven replied. "I don't need grand celebrations or big parties—you should know that by now. I'd hope you'd know that by now." She pointed out.

"Yeah—I do," Kane replied. He approached his work desk, taking a seat at it and filing some papers sitting on its surface. He looked up to where she was. She was just situating herself on the bed. "Is there a particular way you want to close this special day in particular?"

"I wanted to tell you about the significance of Rachel's artwork that she showed us earlier," Raven told him, laying herself against the surface of the bed to relax.

"What about it?" Kane asked her.

"That was one of the moments I dreamt about a long time ago," Raven told him. "The same picture, the same moment in which it occurred. Down to the greatest detail."

"I guess those weren't just ordinary dreams," Kane observed. He set down his paperwork and neatly stacked them on the desktop. He then joined her. "It's too bad I didn't get to witness them like you did."

"Just knowing that they were visions is satisfying enough for me," Raven told him. She reclined, looking him directly in the eye. "Kane—there is something I need to tell you besides that."

"Can I get an anniversary kiss from you first?" Kane asked. She didn't say anything in reply, just nodded her agreement. When the two parted, she looked at him directly again. "So—?"

"Kane—I'm expecting again," Raven told him. "I just found out this morning."

"Are you prepared this time?" Kane asked her. "It won't be like before?"

"Kane—don't worry," Raven assured him "This time I'm well prepared."

"That's a relief," Kane breathed a sigh of relief.

"So—happy anniversary?" Raven said. Kane nodded.

"Yeah Rae—Happy anniversary."

END