Epilogue, part I: In the eyes of Cole.
I was standing in the door,watching Phoebe rocking our new born. She had her hair in a ponytail and was wearing her old light pink pajamas as she walked around the room singing a sweet lullaby. Her bunny sleepers didn't allow her steps make any noise. In a lap, our eyes met.
"What?" she asked, with a nice smile.
"About…?" I asked back, smiling to her too.
"What are you staring at?" she said, approaching to the door, kissing my lips in a tender kiss that made me love her even more, if that was even possible.
"You are beautiful, that's all," I replied, putting a lock of her hair behind her ear.
"Sure," she rolled her eyes, "Look at me, I look like a scarecrow".
"You don't look like…," I tried to tell her, but she interrupted me.
"What are you doing home so early? I thought you had a meeting".
"I did," I said, still smiling.
"What?, What time is it?"
"Oh my God, Cole! I'm sorry I didn't realize that…"
"Hey, it's ok," I smiled, pulling her close.
"I'm sorry honey, is just that one of my patients had a breakdown and Johanna and I spent a lot of time shopping for her new outfit and then Patience wanted to stop at the library and Ben hasn't been really easy to…"
"Easy. I said it was ok…," I said again, kissing her forehead, "Don't push yourself so hard, and you….Benjamin Halliwell," I said, taking him from her arms too look at his wide open eyes, "Why are't you sleeping? How many times do I need to tell you to be gentleman with mommy?"
Phoebe sat on the bed, tired. I could see she had had a hard time this day, but still, she managed to make me smile.
"Are we still on time?"
"Don't worry, the actual reservations are at seven. I just knew this would happen".
Phoebe narrowed her eyes and gave me the look.
"You meant wise," I joked, "I know things have been pretty busy around since I got promoted and Ben was born, but I promise it won't last".
Phoebe was about to say something until some steps irrupted into our room.
"I don't want to be selfish but I'm supposed to meet Ryan within thirty minutes and...," Johanna stopped talking, staring at me, "Wait. You're not ready yet?" asked Johanna, crossing the door, trying to put her earrings on as she spoke.
"Who's Ryan?" I asked immediately.
"Oh, so you chose the skirt," said Phoebe, apparently happy. "That's a wise choice," she added.
"My two years crush and things are gonna end up crushing if I don't make it to the movies on time," she said, crossing her arms.
"Why is that skirt so short?" I asked I didn't care about her date more than her skirt's length right now, and, talking about that, "Who allowed you to date?"
Phoebe laughed at that and got up from the bed, placing her hand over my shoulder.
"Because she's young and she's gorgeous," she said, talking about the skirt, "And I did. Now stop being a jealous daddy and go change so we can leave".
"I don't what to do with my hair, it looks gross," said Johanna, looking in the mirror of the closet, completely ignoring me.
"Honey, take my make up case and run as far as you can to your room before your dad loses it. Heat the straightener, I'll be there as soon as I take a quick shower and put anything on, ok?"
My daughter nodded and did as Phoebe said, leaving me speechless; not because of her obeying because she always did, but because they were ignoring me and my concerns.
"Don't even start," she warned me, pointing me with her index, "Now try to make that baby meet Morpheus, go check on Patience and don't ignore she's lost her first tooth and for God's sake leave Johanna alone. I'll be right back," she finished, taking a towel and closing the door of the bathroom.
I stood there, blinking, thinking about all the instructions while trying to process them, and with a lot to say as soon as she came back. For now, I just leaned Ben over my chest to address Patience's room.
"Daddy!," she celebrated, running to give me a hug.
"Hey ladybug, how are you?," Finally someone who didn't ignore me in this house.
"Amazing," she smiled with a toothy smile, making me notice she had lost one of her teeth.
"Hey! What happened there?," I said, making her feeling proud of her space next to her right front tooth.
As she spoke, I couldn't stop thinking about Johanna's skirt. I hadn't realized how fast time had passed, and I couldn't believe she was already seventeen years old and going on her first serious date. Where had my baby girl gone? She wasn't a child anymore. She was all a lady. She looked a lot like her mother, which was a little sad for me, but was good for her, because Beatriz was a really beautiful woman, but that was her external appearance: what was really valuable of her, was her inside. She had learned a lot from Phoebe and her family, from our friends and myself. She had nothing to do with Beatriz. She wasn't ambitious, she wasn't trying to get something from people. She was nice, sweet, she had a pure heart: she had learned from the best mother I could ever have given her.
"Mom told me to put it under my pillow so the Tooth Fairy could come and get it, she said she'd leave a treat for me!"
My little Patience's excitement brought me back down to Earth. I could still remember when Johanna waited excited for the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, etc to make their appearances even though she knew they were fictional characters after the stupid of her mom's boyfriend sister had told her the truth about everything at a very young age not to give her any kind of treats. And now she was going to go out on a date with a boy, alone.
"Really? Well, then you should keep your little hands away from that pillow and leave that tooth alone. I have heard the Tooth Fairy doesn't appear unless you're fast asleep," I told her, giving her a warm hug.
"Oh, mom forgot that part. I promise I won't touch it again until tomorrow!"
"That's my girl," I said, proud of her, "Now, let's be a little less loud so your brother sleeps, he's been a little stubborn about that".
Patience put her hands over her mouth and nodded. My little girl had grown really fast, too. She had turned eight already, she knew how to read and write. She could do some math, she would hang out with some classmates and she had had her first pajama party last week. I could still remember the day I almost walked away from her, and it broke my heart to imagine a live without my sweet miracle around.
"I love you," I told her, pulling her close, "You know that, right?"
"Of course I do," she smiled. I could see Phoebe's smile in her face. She was a copy of her mother, a happy copy of her. But she had my eyes, blue eyes, as her sister and brother. "I love you too, daddy".
"Hey, do you know who that Ryan guy is?," I asked her.
"I won't tell you anything because I always tell you everything and then you get all hysterical and jealous," she said.
Yes, perfect copy of Phoebe. The Halliwell temper was something to be afraid of, and good or bad, even Johanna had acquired it.
"You're definitely your mother's daughter," I told her.
She shrugged and then, looked at me again.
"Love you sweetie," I told her, "Anything you need, I'll be trying to make this gentleman sleep".
I left her room, but I stood a few more minutes spying her from the door. I loved her with all my heart, and I just liked watching her playing so happily. Things had turned out right, it had been hard, but we had made it really, really far. I was proud of our family. Extremely proud.
"Now you, eyes closed," I told Ben as we walked in the master bedroom to find my wife with her hair still wet on her underwear.
"Did you see her happy smile?," she asked me, talking about Patience, "She's growing up so fast".
"Tell me about it," I said, sighing, "I wouldn't be surprised if Ben leaves for college tomorrow".
Phoebe giggled at that and took my face in her hands. She looked in my eyes. With her, time didn't pass. When I was with her, it was like the first time I had looked in her eyes.
"Don't be dramatic," she told me, "he's only two weeks old, there's plenty of time to enjoy him before he's eighteen".
I nodded, still a little nostalgic. All the Ryan's thing had gotten me nervous.
"What's bothering you?," she asked, she had never failed to read me since we left the center, nine years ago.
"I don't know if I like the idea of Johanna going out with that guy tonight".
"What? She's too young".
"Young, yes, but not too young. You're never too young for love, and well, she's a teenager, is normal that she wants to meet people and that she has feelings for a boy. You did too, well, for girls. I hope," she corrected, making a weird face.
"That's the point, Phoebe. I did and I had her when I was nineteen, with a woman that left me and her behind for a adventure with some random dude".
"But she's not you. And she's a girl, girls know better," she insisted, really sure of her speech.
"Oh, like you?," I asked her, mad at how she was taking this so relaxed while it was driving me crazy.
Phoebe turned on her heels, taking a black dress from her closet, ignoring me. I had hurt her, I could tell. I didn't mean it.
"You know what I mean Phoebe, don't take it personal".
She kept ignoring me. I had screwed our seventh wedding's anniversary night in just two seconds.
"Phoebe you were her age when our story happened, you got pregnant too!"
"Well I was younger when I was Todd's whore and I know three girls who were too when they started doing drugs," she pointed, really mad at me.
"Listen...," she said, sighing too, trying to calm down, "I know you're scared of her becoming an adult, of Patience's imminent adolescence and Benjamin's college. I am too, believe me," she told me, trying to play funny with the last part, "But we can't cut her wings because we made mistakes. We need to trust in what we have done with her, the way we have rose her, to show her we respect her and that we are here if she needs us".
"I just don't want her to get hurt".
"She will, Cole. No matter what we do she will. As Patience and Ben too. There's nothing we can do about that, but being supportive and letting them know we trust them and we are here for them, no matter what happens," I looked away, not convinced, "Honey...," she said, trying to be comprehensive "She's smarter than us and she has seen what can happen if you're not careful, responsible with what you do. She won't let us down, and mainly, she won't let herself down".
"I do trust her, is them I don't".
"Prue didn't trust you and see where we are now".
"I would have liked that she had told me about all this," I said, changing the topic, but not a lot.
"If you weren't so overprotective…"
"Ok, I deserve it. Question: if she is going to be out ,who is going to watch the kids?," I asked this time, now with the intention of changing the topic.
"Solved," she said, clasping her palms, "Prue is coming with Patty".
"Now go open the door because she sent me a text a few minutes ago and I don't want Ben to get even more awake than he is now, if that's even possible," she said, biting her lip, "I'm going to help Johanna with the last details, dry my hair and we're ready".
I just sighed, resigned. I had gotten used of her being the boss, not that I would recognize it in public, but that was something Andy, Leo and Paige's boyfriends knew and had assumed too. Never mess with a Halliwell.
"Hi uncle Cole!," said Patty, Prue's four years old child.
"Hi sweetie, how are you?," I said, bending down so she could see her baby cousin.
"Hi Cole," said Prue, kissing my cheek,"What's this baby doing awake at this time?," she asked Ben with her baby voice, taking him from my arms.
"I wonder the same," I replied.
A few minutes later, Phoebe and Johanna were ready. My first born looked like a star, and not because of ten pounds of make up on her face, no, she was more sophisticated than that, but because of her natural beauty. She was gorgeous with her brown -straight for the occasion- hair and blue eyes. I was so proud of her. I could understand guys going crazy about her, but that made me even more insecure about their intentions. I didn't want anybody to play with her heart, or to ignore the person she was, too busy paying attention to the girl she looked like.
"We are ready, time to say goodbye and go," said Phoebe, trying to speed up our departure to avoid any kind of arguments between me and my oldest daughter.
"You look stunning!," Prue told her, "Ryan is going to think he's dreaming".
"Wait, you knew about this Ryan guy too?," I asked, not even pissed this time.
"Everybody," said Patty with her hands on her hips, showing a lot of confidence.
Phoebe and Prue laughed at that, but I didn't find it funny.
"Anything you need, call," said my wife to her sister.
When we had said goodbye to everyone in the house, and the sisters stopped laughing, we made our way to the movies in silence. I was tense, Phoebe on alert, Johanna I guess nervous.
"Things are gonna turn out right," said Phoebe as soon as we parked, "You just follow what your heart dictates and be careful, ok? Nothing can go wrong if you're true to yourself", Phoebe adviced her.
"Thank you, mom," she smiled, hugging her from the back seat.
I had to admit they had a strong bonding, and that apparently, Phoebe had taught her well.
"There aren't kisses for me?," I asked, "Good luck, honey. You look like a princess".
Johanna smiled, she hugged me too and left the car.
"A call and I'm kicking his ass!," I said through the window, just in case.
Johanna looked at me, a little embarrassed.
"Almost perfectly done, if wasn't for that last creepy statement," Phoebe congratulated me, "Now leave the place before you regret this".
She kissed me, laughing at my concern. Once we arrived to the restaurant, I opened the car's door so she could get out. It was only then when I realized how beautiful she looked. She had had our third child just two weeks ago, and still looked ten times better than all and any other women around. She was wearing a simple black dress, and her hair was tied in half a ponytail with some random curls. What she didn't know, is that to me, she was always the most beautiful woman on Earth, even with that old pink pajama and purple bags under her eyes because of Ben keeping us awake. I didn't care about what she was wearing, or if she had gained or lost weight, if her skin was perfect or with her cute freckles. She was always perfect to me, because I loved her. I had seen her in her lows and highs, and I loved her.
I loved her, and was that, the love I felt for her and the love she felt for me, what has saved us from death. What has brought us to this happy family life today. It wasn't perfect, we had arguments sometimes, like any other family, but that was perfect to us.
"Ladies first," I smiled, offering her my arm to lead her to the restaurant's door.
She smiled to me, with that smile that made me forget about everything and anything, except that I was alive because of her. Except that she was the proof that Angels did exist. Except that she was perfect to my eyes, just the way she was.
Ok guys, next chapter is the last chapter. I was going to make only one epilogue, but since I'm a little OCD and the other alternate ending had two epilogues (one split in two) this is happening here too, that's also why they're Cole's Points of view, to keep some balance. Hope you've liked this sneak peak to the future :)