Previously in "A Soldier's Coming Home", Anna tells her adopted brothers about Pearl's inoperable tumor and they all agree to say goodbye to her one last time.
Author's Note: This chapter will take a leap in time, to the Vietnam War, and will begin with the characters that were previously children to the pre-teen age that are in their late teenage years to early and mid-20s. Erin and I might not do another sequel to our other collaborations, but we'll see how everything goes. For now, enjoy!
Chapter Forty: Epilogue
The Early-Mid 70s – Mystic Falls…
Ruby Mikaelson Steward rested a gentle hand on her belly as she fanned herself with a paper plate. She smiled when her 3 year old son Cooper came over to her and kissed her belly. "Momma, do you know when Daddy will be home?" he asked her with a grin that was exactly identical to Caleb's.
Ruby ran a hand through her son's hair. "Daddy will be back this weekend, sweetheart. He just has to fight some very bad men far away from here." She kissed his forehead. "I know you miss him, and believe me, I miss him too."
"I love you, Momma," Cooper said as he kissed her belly again then rushed off to play with his toys on the porch. Ruby smiled at her son and sat down in the rocking chair to watch him play.
Salvatore Lake House – That Same Moment…
Carrie Salvatore was excited as she brushed her long, black hair. She had gotten a letter from her boyfriend, Liam Mikaelson, saying that he was coming home and that he would love to see her. He also said he had something to tell her, but wouldn't reveal it in the letter. Even if he didn't say it, the meaning was implied: he was going to ask her to marry him.
She was drawn free from her thoughts when she heard her bedroom door open and her younger sister Katie came inside and moved to plop down onto the bed. "Carrie, I'm bored. Can't we play like we used to?"
"No, Katie, we can't, because I'm too old for playing," Carrie replied, continuing to brush her hair.
Katie groaned. "Ever since you started dating Liam, you've changed. You're not the Carrie I remember."
Carrie looked at her sister through the mirror. "It's called maturity, little sister. You'll experience it too when you're old enough."
"I don't understand you any more, Carrie," Katie whined. "I miss the good old days, before this silly war took over."
Carrie put her brush down and turned to look at Katie. "I don't like this war either, Katie. I don't like having to watch it on the news while we eat dinner. Hell, I'm this close to writing a letter to the President, telling him to put an end to it so I can see the boy I love."
"Is that all that you want, love?" a voice said from the doorway. Carrie squealed and leaped up from her chair, and turning to run into her boyfriend's waiting arms.
Carrie smiled as she kissed him. "I missed you so much. Every time I hear about an innocent soldier being killed, I get scared, thinking that it's you."
Liam returned her kiss and stepped back, framing her face in his hands. "You don't have to be scared anymore, because I'm home, and with you."
"I'm so happy you're home!" she said, putting her hands over his and smiling through her tears. "But, I have a question. Have you seen your parents or any of your family?"
"No, love, I wanted to see you first; you're the most important family member yet," he said before letting her face go and, kneeling down in front of her, pulled out a small jewelry box, opening it to her sight to reveal a beautiful diamond ring. "Carrie Veronica Salvatore, will you do me the proud honor of accepting this ring as I come to you as a man, nothing more and nothing less?"
Carrie couldn't breathe as she looked at the ring and then, seeing that Liam was waiting for an answer, she said, fresh tears in her eyes, "Liam Niklaus Mikaelson, nothing would make me happier than to accept your ring."
"Is that a yes?"
Carrie nodded. "Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!"
He grinned then placed the ring onto her finger before standing up and embracing her, swinging her around in a circle. "I love you, so, so much, Carrie Veronica," he said once he stopped them.
Carrie giggled. "I love you too, Liam Niklaus." She kissed him again. "Now that I have you back with me, I might never be letting you go again."
Liam returned her kiss. "Would you be willing to let me see the rest of my family at least? They were just as worried about me as you were."
"Of course I will. In fact, why don't we go to see them right now?" she suggested.
Liam nodded. "I'd like that. Then, we can announce our engagement."
They arrived at his family's mansion, only to be greeted by everyone wearing solemn faces and holding tissues, mostly the females in his family though. "What…what's going on?"
"Liam, son, your grandfather just passed away. Just a few minutes before you arrived," Caroline said, approaching him and Carrie.
Upon hearing that, Liam backed away from his mother, dropping to his knees and letting go of Carrie's hand. "No, no, I don't believe you!" Tears stung his eyes and fell down his cheek. "He can't be dead! He just can't be! I knew he was sick, but he promised that he'd hang on until I got home and…"
Caroline knelt down in front of her eldest son and hugged him. "I know, sweetheart. I know how close you were with him, and that you wish that you could've seen him one last time, but his heart gave out." She heard him sob and ran her fingers through his military crew cut. "Hush, baby, its okay, I know."
Carrie bit her lip, feeling somewhat guilty for having him come to see her first. Still, this wasn't the time or the place to express it, so she knelt down next to Liam and hugged him as well, letting him know that she was there.
Caroline let go of her son as soon as she saw Carrie hugging him and watched as her precious baby boy, now a man, sought comfort in the arms of his beloved, holding tightly to her as the tears continued to fall down her cheeks. Then her head tilted to the side when she noticed something sparkling on Carrie's hand and her eyes widened. "Liam Niklaus, do you have something to tell the family?" she demanded.
Carrie lifted Liam's head with her hands. "I think we should tell them. I know that isn't exactly the best time to be telling them, but since your mother saw the ring, now is as good a time as any."
Liam sniffed and nodded, looking at Caroline. "Mother…before I came home, I went to see Carrie, and I asked her to be my wife, which she accepted." He saw the look on her face. "I wanted to see her first, Mother. You can't fault me for that."
"No, I most certainly can't. Come here, my precious son," she said, opening her arms to him. He let go of Carrie and fell into her open arms as she hugged him gently.
Carrie watched as Liam and Caroline hugged, relieved that they weren't in trouble for getting engaged. Once the mother and son were done hugging, Caroline turned to Carrie and held her arms open for the girl who had been named after her. Carrie hugged Caroline and smiled. "Thank you for welcoming me into the family."
"You've been part of the family from the beginning," the older woman replied. "Now, you're making it official by marrying my son."
Carrie smiled then looked at the rest of her new fiancé's aunts and uncles, who all smiled back. Finn, who had a little gray but still a sprinkle of brown left in his hair, stepped forward next and hugged her gently, kissing the top of her head. "Welcome to the family, Carrie," he said softly, giving her another smile.
"You should really tell your parents about this, Carrie," Caroline said. "Damon and Elena will want to know that their eldest daughter is getting married."
"They already know. We, um, we told them before we left the lake house to come here. They're extremely happy for us," Carrie said as she rejoined Liam, who wrapped his arms around her.
Caroline nodded. "Good. The last thing I want is to get a phone call from them, wondering why you didn't tell them."
"The only one not too thrilled about it was Katie," Carrie said. "She's a little angry at me at the moment."
Katherine smirked. "That's because she's losing her big sister, the one who's protected her all these years," she told Carrie. "And she doesn't want to lose the friend she's always had."
Liam looked at his aunt. "Yes, but she's not losing her sister. If anything, she's gaining a brother. I tried to assure her of that, but she refused to budge."
"Give her time, Liam," Katherine said. "This is something new for her, but I know Katie, she'll adjust. She's a Salvatore and the Salvatore family is born survivors."
Liam nodded then pulled Carrie close. "I'm sure she'll come around eventually," he said.
Carrie nodded against him. "I hope so, because I'd hate for her to be mad at me forever. True, things aren't the same as they were before, but she's my little sister and I love her. I'll always love her."
Before Liam could reply, however, the telephone suddenly rang. Finn moved over to answer it with his wife standing beside him. Finn cleared his throat and said, "Mikaelson residence, Finn speaking; who may I ask is calling?"
"Papa, Momma needs your help," their grandson Cooper said in a panicked tone from the other end. "She was coming up the steps to help me with a bath when she suddenly fell. Momma is in pain, Papa!"
"We'll be there soon, Cooper. Just stay with her until we get there," Finn said before hanging up the phone, turning to his wife and framing her face in his hands. "I won't let anything happen to our precious daughter, Irish Rose; I solemnly swear."
Sage nodded. "I know you won't, Finn. Just do what you have to do." Finn nodded and brushed his lips over hers in a gentle but passionate kiss before turning to Elijah, nodding and the two brothers left to go check on Ruby and Cooper.
When they arrived at Ruby's house, they saw a very distraught Cooper standing over his mother, who was moaning as she clutched at her belly. Elijah looked at his brother. "Tend to Ruby. I'll keep Cooper occupied."
Finn nodded and gently helped his oldest daughter up, carrying her upstairs as Elijah took Cooper outside. "Uncle Elijah, is Momma going to be okay?" Cooper asked once they were out of earshot.
Elijah nodded at his great-nephew. "Don't you worry, Cooper. Your grandfather has everything under control. He won't let anything happen to her, I promise."
The young boy nodded and smiled sadly. In the house, Finn helped settle Ruby into her bed as she watched him in silent regard. "Father, I don't think Caleb is coming home," she said in a soft, sad tone.
Finn heard what she was saying. "I heard his letter said he was coming home this weekend?"
"I thought so too," his daughter replied. "That is, until I got a call from his commanding officer, saying that he was killed by an enemy bullet while helping to evacuate a village."
"Well, you'll just need to keep Cooper close and the baby that is being born in constant reminder that their father was a good man," Finn told her with a soft smile.
Ruby nodded. "I will. I loved Caleb so much, Father. Even when he irritated me, I found it hard not to love him. He adored Cooper, and I know he would've loved this baby as well."
"He has definitely proven to be a good husband. You two had a love like mine and your mother's," Finn said as he checked on the progress of the baby.
Ruby looked over at the bedside table and saw the picture of her and Caleb on their wedding, tears welling up in her eyes at how happy they were then. They were so much in love, and it hurt that he wasn't going to be here to see Cooper grow up, or see their baby being born.
She tried to think of happier days, like the day she first met him:
10 Years Earlier…
With her red hair placed beneath a crown of flowers, Ruby let her bare feet barely touch the rocks beneath her feet as she hopped over the falls and trying to keep from falling.
As she was crossing, she felt herself starting to slip and closed her eyes as she fell back. However, when she opened her eyes again, she saw that she was in the strong arms of a very handsome man, who was smiling at her. "Are you all right, madam?"
Ruby felt her heart hammer and gulped nervously as she replied, "I am now, thank you."
"A beautiful lady such as yourself would have been very hurt the way you almost slipped," the man told her.
Ruby smiled at him. "I guess its good a gentleman like you came to my rescue." She cleared her throat. "My name is Ruby, Ruby Mikaelson."
Setting her upright gently, the man smiled again. "It is lovely to meet you, darling Ruby; I am Caleb, Caleb Steward," he said.
Ruby smiled, liking his name already. "Caleb, now that is a very strong name. I like it." She curtsied. "Thank you for coming to my aid like that, Caleb. Tell me, do you make it a habit of rescuing girls like me in the woods?"
"No, not usually," Caleb said. "Though, when I saw you, I was instantly drawn to you. That was what really drove me to rescue you when you slipped like that. I didn't want the lady that drew me to her to fall and get hurt."
"Well, will you do the pretty lady a favor and walk her home? I don't wish for my parents to wonder where I've run off to this time," she said with a soft smile encasing her fair skin.
Caleb nodded. "I would love to escort you home, my lady."
Biting down gently on her lower lip, she held her hand out for him to take, which he did, and they left the falls, going to where she led them.
Sage was standing out on the porch of the mansion when she saw Ruby coming home, holding the hand of a boy. "Ruby, where have you been? I was out of my mind wondering where you got to."
"I was just exploring the falls, Mum," she replied. "I almost fell, though, but Caleb rescued me in time."
"Go on inside the house. Your father is waiting to hear if you're okay," Sage said. Ruby nodded, turning a smile of apology to Caleb before rushing up the steps and into the house. "You can go home, young man. I thank you for helping Ruby, but you're not welcome for her kind of interest."
Caleb was disappointed, but didn't show it as he said, "I understand, ma'am."
Sage nodded then turned to walk into the house, where she was immediately greeted by the verbal fighting match between father and daughter. Finn and Ruby seemed to be on opposite ends of things now that Ruby was almost in college, and Sage honestly missed those days where they had been close. "I'm not a little girl anymore, Father! Why the bloody hell can't you accept that?"
Finn ran a hand tiredly down his face and let out a heavy sigh, before he rose to his feet and limped over to her. He'd been injured when he went to go help a team of medics during the Cold War and Sage had worried that he'd not be the same, but he got through the worst of it with her by his side. "You'll always be the spunky little girl, the one who dreamed of marrying a man who reminded you of me. You said that you'd wanted a wedding like the one your mother and I had. What happened to that little girl?"
Tears ran down her cheeks as she looked at him and said, "She's the same little girl, in here." Pressing a hand to her chest, she patted the place where her heart beat inside. "But, she's also a woman that wants your approval to be free who she wants to be."
Finn sighed. "I know you do, and I guess I'm a stubborn man who just can't seem to let go of things."
Moving into his arms, Ruby gently hugged her father as he held her close, smiling silently over at his wife. "I love you, Daddy, and I'll always be your little girl. But, your little girl isn't so little anymore, okay?" Ruby said in a whisper after pulling back from the hug.
Finn nodded. "I know, sweetheart, and I love you too. I'll always love you, no matter what."
She kissed his cheek and he watched as she went up to her mother and hugged the older redhead before heading upstairs to her room. Sage and Finn both shook their heads when they heard the music playing softly from the radio their eldest enjoyed listening to. "You're a good father, Finnegan," Sage said as she approached him, wrapping her arms around him gently as her head rested below his chin.
Finn smiled. "I've learned from my father, and I used the things he taught me to effectively raise my children."
"I never thought I'd become a mother, but I also learned from my father, especially after my mother died," she said softly.
Finn pulled back to look at her. "Yes, but you're a wonderful mother, Sage. All of our children turned out well."
"Hmm, they sure did, and not just our daughters, but our sons as well. I only hope that they are as caring as the man I met back in 1941," she said with a smile as her hands gently patted his chest.
Finn smiled. "With the guidance they received from us, I have no doubt that they will be."
She smiled back at him before taking his hand and gently tugging on it. Finn obligingly followed her to their downstairs bedroom, where he immediately claimed her lips with his in a gentle vigor, groaning when he felt her tongue stroking alongside his. Sage smiled against his lips. "I see that you haven't lost your touch. I was worried about that the whole time you were recovering from your injuries."
"You haven't seen anything yet, love," he said, quieting her with another kiss as his hands lifted to the top button of her blouse, and once all of the buttons were released, they pushed the blouse off and revealed her bare-from-the-waist-up body.
Sage then attacked his shirt, practically ripping it open with her hands. He pushed it off then easily picked her up and carried her over to the bed, their mouths connecting in another kiss. Finn was almost lowering her to the bed when he felt his knee begin to spasm and he stopped, sitting down on the edge. Sage moved around him until she could gently push him back and straddled his hips. "Maybe you should rest for a bit and let me do the work, hmm?"
Finn nodded, even though he was a bit disappointed as he said, "As you wish, Irish Rose."
"I don't want you to overexert yourself, okay? I worry for you when we do this, especially if you can't carry me like you used to," she said quietly, leaving his lap to stand up and turn away. Finn followed after her, his lips moving over her shoulder in a whisper soft caress as he wrapped his arms around her from behind.
"My beautiful Irish Rose, your worry makes me worry about you. I don't want you to have to be the one that has to do all the work," he said quietly as she felt his hands move up to cup her upper chest and she let her head fall back.
Sage smiled sadly. "I know, and I appreciate the concern." She turned in his arms and kissed his chest. "I love you so much."
"I love you. I'll always love you. Even if we're old and gray, and the last ones left on this earth," he said as he emphasized each sentence with a soft kiss to each place he could reach on her face.
Sage felt him kiss her face and smiled. "There's no one I would rather grow old with than you, Finn."
"Nor I, my love," he said, capturing her lips with his again and backing them toward the bed, where he sat down first and brought her to straddle his hips once again as his hands moved up her smooth, supple back, combing into her red curls, and then angling his head to further deepen the kiss.
Sage moaned against his lips as the kiss deepened, feeling the passion between them rise, as well as the heat. Shifting them both, Finn lay half on top of her, with the foot beneath his injured knee resting flat on the floor, their lips still locked as his hands moved to the waist of her pantsuit, where he stroked her quivering stomach. "Finn, please don't…"
"Don't what, my love? Tell me."
Instead of answering with words, she brought her hand over his and moved it down and Finn immediately complied, his fingers seeking to span beneath her cotton underwear and slide gently into her moist folds, stroking them as her hips bucked up off the bed.
Sage trembled at his touch and panted, letting out a scream of pleasure, earning her a smile from her husband. "I…I need you, Finn," she said hoarsely and he nodded, bringing her hands to the waist of his pants, watching the emotions change on her face.
Sage fiddled with the button and zipper of his pants, feeling just how hard he was getting at the feel of her hand there. Apparently, he needed her as much as she needed him. She smiled softly when his lips moved gently over her face a second time, her eyes drifting closed as she finally got the button and zipper loosened, pushing everything down past his knees before wiggling out from beneath him to kneel before him and help remove it the rest of the way.
Finn groaned as he felt what she was doing, letting out a small cry of passion, earning him a smile from Sage. Pulling her up, he brought her over him and she immediately straddled his hips once again, after which she removed her pants and impaled herself on his member.
Sage gripped onto Finn's shoulders as she felt his throbbing member penetrate her core, panting heavily. It was just like it was back in 1941, only more intense and passionate. Age didn't seem to matter to either of them anymore; they still felt the same heat they did when they first encountered each other at the Grill.
Author's Note: So, I've been checking daily on the reviews for "Angel of Destiny", and if it hits 100, I will personally dedicate the next chapter by picking out a name to use within the contents, one of YOUR names. Please R&R, they make me happy!