E P I L O G U E
"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect.
It means that you've decided to look
beyond the imperfections."
- Devon Dashelle Wesley
I had never realized actual, real deal happiness was within my reach - or any of ours, for that matter.
As a Son of Ipswich, I knew I'd always have secrets, and could never truly know people openly - I guess I took that to another level, according to what Kate always said about how I was gruff and resistant, always keeping things to myself.
I just lived my life, thinking I was happy; after all, I thought i'd had everything I'd ever wanted: my motorcycle, my hot girlfriend, my best friends, and a bank account the size of Mt. Everest. But then, I guess, I got too complacent. Things got too simple, too lax after the whole Chase ordeal. Everyone was calm, relaxed - life was good. Not perfect, but good. Perfect was no longer attainable with Kate being as quiet as she had.
Then the façade - (I can just hear Reid exclaiming, "Ooh! Pogue knows a big word! Did your girlfriend teach you that?" Then, she'd reply, "No, but I can show you what he taught me last night, if you're ready for it.") - shattered. It wasn't good anymore. I was lonely, and headed to college with my brothers, one of whom had a perfect relationship.
It was enough to make me want to hurl.
I'd been steadily moving away from the guys for about a year while we were at Harvard, then summer break came and boom! Caleb tracked me down with Reid and Ty, and they harangued me into coming back to Ipswich with them, even though I'd already had plans to travel cross-country on my bike, then maybe tour parts of Europe and search for the Parry roots. I guess, looking back, I made the right decision - coming home, that is.
See, if I hadn't begrudgingly came home with them, a huge list of events wouldn't have been set into motion.
I wouldn't have met Caleb's sister, and been instantly suspicious of her.
I wouldn't have investigated her background, and came up with nothing, becoming even more interested in the girl no one knew anything about.
I wouldn't have had to convince myself that when I started being a douche to the other guys it was because I was restless, not because I had the hots for some chick that wasn't even legal yet, dammit.
And I most certainly wouldn't have made out with her all those times, either.
Let's face it; my life hasn't really been that shitty. I'm a Son of Ipswich - I'm like a god to the smaller portion of Massachusetts. But based on how things went on a steady rise uphill after Gaige came back and stayed back for good, my life from before her was like a hell hole.
See? There's already a 'before Gaige' and an 'after Gaige' timeline working here. She's like my whole freaking life now. I'm so fucking whipped, and I don't even care; in fact, I love it. I love being whipped.
God, at least I'm not like Caleb. He's even worse than me - he dotes on Sarah like she's this breakable piece of glass and his whole world depends on her happiness, and he messes around with Gaige, since it's not like I can actually say he dotes on Gaige. She would kill him if he tried to dote on her - she would kill me, if I tried too, not that I would.
If there's a few things I've learned about Gaige, one of the biggest ones is that she's as strong as I am, except not physically, since that would be weird. She can handle just about anything that comes her way, and that's part of what I love about her. I don't always have to be watching out for her, making sure she's okay or shit like that. Gaige is one of the most controlled hot-heads that ever walked the Earth, and sometimes that comes in handy.
When Sarah found out she was pregnant (her and Caleb were supposed to be married in four months from that specific day) and she tried to attack him with a butcher knife in the complete heat of anger, Gaige simply punched him in the gut and let Sarah have a crying breakdown in his arms.
And then that time we were in Nicky's, trying to convince Gaige that it wasn't as scuzzy as it looked and that people didn't get shanked in the back alley like she claimed. I'd brought her to the counter with me while we ordered drinks for everyone, and she'd leaned over the counter to meet Nicky properly and fucking Abbott came up behind her and slapped her butt. I'd been ready to tear that smirk off his goddamned face, but she'd just grinned and leaned into my chest, grabbing my hands and planting them on her butt, too.
"It is very smackable, isn't it?" she'd said, smirking.
Gaige would be the death of me and my reputation, I swear.
She wasn't always the peace-keeper though; her and Reid bantered and squabbled worse than him and Sarah; she fought with the girls Tyler insisted upon dating whenever one came within a fifty foot radius of her. She and Caleb were siblings, and thus fought like them - only much, much more destructively; more than one of the barns behind the Danvers home had to be rebuilt. Evelyn and Gaige weren't exactly the picture of a mother-daughter relationship. They fought a lot, over stupid shit like what clothes she wore or where she was the night before, but I was always behind her, holding her back from Using and screaming at her mom like she'd picked a fight with me and not my girlfriend.
As an unspoken rule, Gaige and I never fought our own battles. It was a way to keep us sane and always connected. Every fight, argument and deal made was one between both of us and the victim.
Sure, every now and then - okay, most of the time - we fought with each other too. Sometimes she wanted space, and I never gave her any. Sometimes I wanted to get out and runaway like an angry coward, and she always came along for the ride, too. We were in everything together, even when it only made things harder sometimes.
Somethings were difficult; like the first time we had sex. It was worth the trouble of her kicking and screaming (not really, people) to find every single scar and mark on her body. I knew her skin better than my own after that night, I swear to God.
She got comfortable in her own skin, and let me, too. We were happy. Blissfully, sickeningly, barf-worthy happy.
It's funny how everything can change around us, but Gaige and I always stay happy together. It's something neither of us had ever imagined would be possible, and it was pretty ironic sometimes, too.
The day she decided to move out of the Danvers house and into the old apartment I'd always held onto was a day chocked full of irony.
Caleb hadn't taken the decision well, but he had to put his big boy pants on or be called a hypocrite. Sarah was living in his bedroom, for Christ's sake. They were waiting for Evelyn to finally drop off the deep end so they could take over the Danvers mansion as a very pregnant, very hormonal (and now) married couple. Needless to say, school was on hold for most of us.
Anyway, Caleb wasn't an issue. It was Evelyn who put up a fight.
"No," she'd said simply, not even looking up from her notebook.
Gaige sputtered slightly, looking more stunned than I've ever seen her, except for that one time when we all saw Reid naked. Very shocking, to say the least. Apparently, she hadn't been expecting her mother to not agree, after all she hadn't even wanted her to live there in the first place. "What? Why the hell not?"
Evelyn continued to focus on her papers, offering us not even eye contact. "Well, because you're my daughter, Gaige, and I say no."
"I'm almost twenty-"
"Exactly, you aren't even twenty-"
Gaige slapped her hand down on her mother's paperwork, forcing her to look up at us. "I'm moving out, and there's nothing you can do about it."
Mrs. Danvers' gaze rolled over her daughter's face before flicking up at mine for a second. She did not look pleased at all. This wasn't going well.
"No daughter of mine is going to move in with a man while unmarried, and that's final."
Gaige scoffed. "Are you trying to prevent us from having sex, Mother? We've already had sex. Let me move out."
Evelyn raised a heavily manicured eyebrow. "You think I don't know that? This is my house, and I know what goes on in it. I'm not completely belligerent, like you seem to think I am."
After a few more hours of angry shouting matches, Gaige finally threw her hands in the air, giving up. "What do you want me to day, Mom? I get that you think it's not proper for me to publicly move in with Pogue. Tell me what to do so that I can move in with him, and I'll do it."
"Get married." she'd said before whisking away, leaving no room for argument.
Gaige had looked at me, and I'd looked right back at her, indifferently.
"Do you, Christopher Pogue Parry, take Gaige Evelyn Danvers to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
I guess that's how we got here, getting married simply because we could move in with each other. It didn't make a difference to me either way, all I wanted to do was spend the rest of my life fighting our battles and being crazy happy with Gaige. If this let us do that, okay.
Gaige grinned up at me and winked before making a funny face. I made one back at her, mostly because she was wearing a black dress and we were getting married in a field of corn in Maine, with our only witnesses being Tyler and Reid.
Our priest shot me another look; he'd been doing so all day. He was gay, I guess.
See, Gaige and I agreed to get married - our own way. We fought our battles together and stayed happy always.
The priest shot his gun into the air, hitting a bird.
We kissed after she said 'I do,' laughing only slightly.
"Now you can move in together!" Reid cheered, laughing his ass off as he threw corn at us.
A year later, Gaige tells me she's pregnant. She's happy and smiling and laughing as I run across the room and grab her and hold her tight, kissing her everywhere my lips can reach.
We're happy and already thinking of and trading names back and forth, always grinning like fools. I sold the apartment and we bought an estate farther out of Ipswich and closer to the country, like our parents always did when they got pregnant. It's not nearly as big as the Danvers place, or the Parry manor, but we both know we can move into the Parry estate as soon as my parents hand it over.
Evelyn gives us 'I told you so,' looks, like she'd known all along that as soon as we moved in together I'd knock Gaige up, but neither of us mind. My parents are excited, too, and they stay put in Massachusetts for a while, choosing to stay nearby and finally getting to know us.
One day in passing, Gaige mentions that she'd never thought she'd be able to get pregnant, and I look at her questioningly.
She tells me, "Well, with my genetics as fragile as they are, and my past the way it is, I just didn't know. I wasn't sure it was possible."
I completely look over her comment because she doesn't look completely serious with that 'pregnancy glow' all over her face. However, when she tells me she went with Sarah to one of her check-ups when she was pregnant with James a while back, she also mentions she talked to one of the doctors and he'd said he didn't think so at all.
"But we proved him wrong," she says with a happy wink, flouncing away. As soon as her back is turned, my face turns contemplative. I'd learned all about still-borns and such in school, and knew it wasn't always healthy on the mother.
When we get to the fifth month mark, the doctor congratulates her. It's a girl, but neither of us are surprised; it was always a chance, unlike for the others whom would probably only have a boy. He pulls me aside to tell me there's still a chance the baby won't survive, but Gaige doesn't listen, and neither do I. We're too happy, too excited for our baby.
After the six month, everyone thinks it's smooth sailing. There's no chance now - or so we all are led to believe by the baby books Gaige insists upon reading aloud. We both continue to stare enviously at Caleb, Sarah and little James - the happiest family alive. But we'll be there soon, just three months left.
The happiness from hitting six months doesn't last long, especially when Gaige gets sick in her seventh month. Later that month, baby Penelope is still-born.
Everyone is heartbroken as we bury her.
No one speaks, like the stillness has passed over us all.
Gaige is quiet, too quiet - she can't handle it. She'd always been strong, but this was the breaking point. There was nothing like seeing your brown-haired, fair-skinned and green-eyed baby born dead. She Used too much, too often but no one could stop her - it wasn't like she was going to Age. She got Addicted and I constantly felt like our chances at ever having another kid were dropping.
I took off work to be with her, but she was never home - always out with Reid, drinking her worries away. Night after night I wondered if that would be the one when she wouldn't come home at all, but she always seemed to find her way back to our bed. She always slept clothed now, and hated when I'd try to touch her; even when she was physically present, Gaige wasn't there.
Tyler and I became close - he'd lost Reid to Gaige, who was much more outgoing and rowdy than he ever could be.
Then one night, she stayed home. One night became four nights, two weeks, two months. I was instantly curious, but she would only look up at me with sad brown eyes and simply say that she hadn't been happy, and she needed to be happy again.
After a long while, we were happy again. It wasn't the same happy as before, but it was our happy and that was all that mattered.
The day she woke me up with a blank face was one I'd never forget. She held her hand behind her back and told me she was late. Even though I didn't make a move to respond, I understood. She produced a white stick with a pink line, and told me she was pregnant.
Gaige's pregnancy (she never let me call it ours, since she was 'the one who pushes the damn thing out!' as she'd say, but it sure felt like ours when I was constantly feeding her cravings and suffering her flip-flopping moods) felt like nine months of holding our breaths. We were constantly being careful about everything from walking down the stairs to hiding her away and constantly cleaning so she wouldn't get sick.
She would yell, "I'm not that fragile, Pogue! Leave me the fuck alone!" but would continue to hold my hand when she needed to sit down or stand up.
I guess in that time, we weren't happy; I knew the outcome wasn't looking great but Gaige would secretly be happy, and it rubbed off on me too much. She pretended to refuse to let her hopes get up in front of other people, but we both knew she was feeling good.
We were rewarded, though - with a baby boy named Parker.
He was beautiful; brown skin and dark brown hair, and with Gaige's brown eyes he was all Gaige and no me. However, when he got his first toy car, we soon realized he was quite like me with roughish tendencies and a smile to make all the other moms that saw him melt.
Two years later, when Parker was nearing three, we were rewarded again with - not one, but two - twin baby girls named Pepper and Pandora, feeding my family's addiction and Gaige's love of 'p' names.
Not only were we the only family to have girls, but we were also the only family to have more than one child.
I took over my father's company, Reid and Tyler finally settled down with respectable (or in Reid's case, semi-respectable) girls and produced heirs. When each of our children reached thirteen, they got the Power - even Pepper and Pandora - and they became a close-knit group of friends, all looking out for each other.
The cycle had started again, and it made me mad to have to wait for another set of children to get Addicted and die before their time, but Gaige would just look at me whenever I got too serious and smile, pulling one of our children into her lap, even if they were too big for it and kiss their cheeks. Any time I brought it up, she would say she had a feeling it would all be all right.
And so we were happy.
Even too-serious Caleb who had to watch his energized son James break stuff and crash cars. Reid and Tyler were happy with their pretty wives, too, especially when their pretty wives had pretty children who grew up to be quite similar to them, only switched; Reid's son Christian was quiet and reclusive, reading always, and his best friend Dylan Simms was quite the partier.
Parker Parry was studious and a bit controlling; he wasn't the official leader of the newest Children (Sons and Daughters of Ipswich), but the unofficial one. Pandora and Pepper were complete opposites on the inside although being identical on the outside. With my mother's flaming red hair and my own green eyes, they had Irish looks and tempers to match, but Christian and Dylan were always there to calm them down before Parker had to intervene.
We were all happy. Extremely, obnoxiously, annoyingly happy as we'd never thought we'd be. Life wasn't always perfect, but it didn't always matter, as long as we had each other and could be together.
AN: Okay, so I'm pretty certain that covers everything. A sequel may or may not be in the works; I keep changing my mind, you know? But it is quite possible that Gaige has created an AU-universe that I might just use again. If you see any Covenant stories from me, check to see if they're part of this universe. They won't be connected by much, and will barely be able to call 'companion pieces'; but I love Gaige too much to leave her here. She might pop up again somewhere!
Thanks everyone, for reading and reviewing all this time and putting up with me! I hope this Epilogue put your minds at ease about GTP. Much love to you all!
Oh, and if you haven't already - check out all the previous chapters. I edited almost every single one, and re-wrote most of the chapters 10-17 almost entirely. Ta-ta for now, folks!