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Epilogue

This is it!  The FINAL installment of "A Wizard's Companion"!  Happy Holidays everyone!


EPILOGUE

            May 20th, 1985

           

Carl woke up disoriented, rubbing away the dust of sleep from his eyes as he yawned. 

He had to blink several times before he could see anything and even after that things were blurry.  Squinting, he made out shapes of sofas and tables, a TV, and everything else that altogether made up his and Tom’s house...

His and Tom’s?

No—a house without Tom.  That wasn’t a home.

            Where’s Peach?  Carl wondered faintly in a daze.  Where’s Monty, Annie, and Dudley? 

            Did they leave him too?

            He tried to move but his limbs were stiff and the action was painful.  Still he persevered and eventually sat up on the couch, head in his hands.

            “Carl.”

             Carl froze for a moment, before he whipped around to face...

            It couldn’t be...

            After all this time...

That voice...

“Ttttt...”   Carl stuttered, unable to get out the name as he tried to speak and catch the breath he’d lost at the same time.

“Tom,” Tom corrected with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. 

                                                                                                

But Carl didn’t notice, just stared...

And tasted salt.

When had he started crying?

Embarrassed, he tore his gaze from the precious sight of Tom to wipe tears from his eyes.

That’s when he noticed it was silent.  Completely silent.  Not a bird chirped outside the window nor any breeze rustle the curtain.

            Why was everything so quiet?

            “Time hasn’t started yet.”  Tom said, looking out the same window as he.

            “What do you mean?”  Carl asked.

            “We still have choices to make Carl, ones that will affect this universe and many others.”

            “Why will it...?” 

            “Because it will determine whether or not human wizards exist...” Tom cut him short.  “And it will also reseal the Chaos we’ve inflicted on this world.  We have to set the timeline back to its original flow.  The way it’s supposed to be.  The way it should be.  The way it should have been.”

            Carl paused for a moment, then scrambled to his feet. 

            They stood there—him and Tom—looking at each other for a long while, and Carl couldn’t help but wonder why he wasn’t in Tom’s arms...?

            And what made Tom look so sad?

            He reached for Tom but at the last minute let his hand drop.

            Tom smiled, but it appeared forced and strained, before turning away.   “Well I guess that answers that question.

            “Wait, what...?”  Carl looked at him confused, a sinking feeling beginning in the pit of his stomach.

            “What will happen I wonder?  Will we ever meet?  Or...”  He let the rest trail off.

            “Tom, what’s wrong?”

            “Nothing’s wrong, we’re finally together again.  That’s all that matters, right?”  But the words rang bitter and hollow; there was no heart in them.

            “Whatever made me think...?”  Tom mumbled to himself bitterly, voice cracking and so low that Carl would’ve missed it if he wasn’t hanging on Tom’s every word.

            “Tom, please, you’re scaring me... what’s happening?”

            “Carl, if you had to choose only one memory from your past, of any lifetime—but only one—to occur, what would it be?”  Tom asked, still not facing him.

            Carl stopped what he was going to say and thought hard.

            There were thousands of answers he could give, but none compared to...

            “Right now.”

            Tom spun around so quickly Carl thought he was going to fall.  He blinked at Carl, obviously it wasn’t the answer he was expecting.  “Excuse me?”

            “I said ‘right now.’” Carl shook his head, knowing Tom had heard him the first time, then found himself explaining...  “You don’t understand, do you?    Waking up to you.  Having all the knowledge of our past lives together.  Knowing what I’ve done for you.  Knowing what you’ve done for me.  All to make us happy but we both forgot something very important.”

            “And what’s that?”  Tom asked breathlessly.

            “We’re happiest when we’re together.”  Carl said and, with a genuine smile, took a step forward, reached, and grabbed a hold of Tom’s hand.

            Tom’s eyes widened, looking from Carl’s hand on his to Carl, the hand, and back to Carl, for several repetitions.

            Then he seemed to relax and this time it was his turn to wipe his eyes on his sleeve.

           

            And when he was done, their gazes met.

            “You see,” Carl continued.   “We’re always saving each other.  But we never seem to get to the good part...”

            “And what’s that?”  Tom stammered, and his look was full of... hope.

            “This,” and Carl, without hesitation, tightened his grip on Tom’s hand and propelled him forward.

           

            There was still a part of him that wanted to pull back now, that wanted to resist, that didn’t want to know, that was scared of ‘what if...’ 

            But thankfully that was a relatively small part compared to his curiosity. 

            No, it was something from within him that moved him. 

            Oh, by the Powers please...

            But he also knew the Powers had nothing to do with this.

            Coming together was as natural as anything, as though they’d done it hundreds—no thousands of times. 

            Hadn’t they?  He suddenly couldn’t remember. 

What he did remember is they had each given up their own lives for the other’s happiness.  Multiple times.

That merits something.

           

            That deserves something.

            That’s worthy of this...

            When their lips did meet there was a spark—an honest-to-God spark of...something.   But that didn’t deter them, it just made them press together even harder.

            At first it was frantic, they were afraid something or someOne was going to tear them apart.  Again.  But after a few minutes, when nothing and no One stopped them, they slowed down to truly enjoy the kiss.

            And that was just the outward.

            Please don’t leave me again...

            That was the theme that both thought simultaneously.

            I would never...

            Was communicated through their souls.

            And suddenly there were heartbeats pounding in their ears—two of them, racing together faster and faster...

            Every place they touched was on fire, but Carl couldn’t bring himself to care.  He would endure any amount of pain and/or pleasure if they could just stay here, this way, forever...

And then it came back.  As their minds became interwoven, as their hearts gained a consciousness of their own, when they literally didn’t know where one began and one ended... the memories of many many kisses to date and many many more to come built up and came crashing down upon them—making the kiss that much more poignant and that much more aching.

But there was reassurance there too in this kiss.  Everything was going to be alright now.  They were together.

Finally.

After all they’d given up everything for the sake of friendship...

            No, for the sake of Love...

            This was high time their due.

            Carl could’ve sworn that his prayer had reached the One, that this kiss would never end, but it did. 

            Carl was disappointed and he refused to let go of Tom.

            “I love you,” Carl whispered into Tom’s shoulder when the kiss was over and he was in Tom’s arms—like he should be, like he should have been all along—but loud enough that Tom heard every word.

            When there was nothing forthcoming after this declaration, Carl pulled back, sure to keep his arms around Tom, even when Tom’s arms fell to his sides.

            Carl was afraid, especially of the mist in Tom’s eyes. 

            “Tom, what’s wrong?”

            Did he regret the kiss?!

            “No, I’m not regretting that.  It’s just...”

            “It’s just what...?”  Carl prodded gently after several moments had passed in silence.

            “We had loved and lost.  I set you free...”

            “And I came back and it is meant to be.”  Carl finished for him firmly.

            “But it can’t be...”

            “Why not?!”  Carl gasped.  Then, with great trepidation, gave rise to:  “You do love me, don’t you?”

            Tom gave Carl a look of incredulity.

           

            “You just looked at my soul, Carl.  What did you see?”

            He was right.  Carl remembered a redness—burning with passion—inside Tom.  

 Much different than his cooler blue.

            “’Cool blue?’”  Tom stated in disbelief.  “Try a torrent.”

            “When it concerns you...yes.”  Carl conceded, nodding. 

            After awhile of silence went on, Carl admitted softly.  “For the longest time, it had been ice-cold though...without you.”

            That feeling—that fire!—flared up again.  There was a fierceness to it—a protectiveness—a seriousness.  He wasn’t going to let Carl be hurt again.

            Ever.

            Carl couldn’t help but laugh hysterically at that.

            “Don’t you get it, Tom?  By trying to keep me safe, you have hurt me far more than anything else ever could!”

            Tom’s eyes widened at this revelation, then looked away.

            Carl took Tom’s chin in his hand and forced Tom to look at him.

“Now, let us work together to defeat that which keeps us apart...”  Once again, he took Tom’s hands.  “I believe in you so... believe in me too.”  Carl whispered, his lips caressing Tom’s.

He looked Tom in the eye.  “I love you, please trust me.”

Tom’s eyes watered again.  “I love you too.”

Carl wiped away a stray tear, before cupping his cheek and gently inquiring, “Now what is it we have to do?”

“We...we have to reassemble a Timeline and put it into motion...”  Tom said and bit his lower lip.

“And... what’s wrong?”  Carl asked, worried at Tom’s reactions.

“I don’t know what our part in it will be.”  Tom finished quietly.

Carl seemed to consider this.  “Then let’s do it again, from the beginning...” 

Tom tilted his head—endearingly, Carl thought—in confusion.  “What do you mean?”

“I mean we just came back from the Void right?   Infinite possibilities...?”

 “Right...”  Tom trailed off.

“Hear me out...  I think we’re getting the chance of a lifetime—no eons, so to speak—to stay together.  We have been in so many places, experienced so many possibilities, so let’s choose which ones we want!”

“Can we?  Can we really?”  Tom asked dubiously, yet filled with hope.

“I’ll start...”

Present Day

Nita blinked, then looked between the two and waited. 

When nothing more was forthcoming, Nita wondered aloud... 

            “So... what happened next?”

            Tom shrugged.  “I met Carl at NYU.  We became roommates, then Wizard Partners, then housemates, then Advisories, and then... well, now you know the rest.”

            “But...what’s different?”

            Tom smiled, then reached over to take Carl’s hand in his. Carl squeezed back with a grin of his own.

“...oh yeah.”  Nita laughed.

            Tom winked at her.

Nita grew silent fairly quickly though and appeared to be struggling with something.

“Nita, it’s alright.”  Tom said after a few minutes of watching her at war with herself.  “Say what you want.  Ask us anything.”

She turned a shade of red.  “It’s not that I’m not happy for you guys.  It’s just, if you guys had this miracle—which I definitely think you deserve—why can’t...”  She stopped herself and looked away. 

“Why can’t what?”  Tom prodded gently.

“Why can’t my mother come back?” 

Tom leaned back into his chair and sighed.  “You mean, why do bad things happen to good people?  Why couldn’t we have changed it?”

Nita nodded.  “I mean, I’m assuming Anthony and Cecelia are alright now...?”

After a few moments Tom nodded.  “Yes, Anthony graduated from medical school and just finished his internship; he’s starting up a practice of his own.  And I believe Cecelia married Rick last year...”  Tom looked to Carl, who nodded.

“But then why...?”

Tom sighed again, but this time Carl answered.

“Sweetie, we don’t know why...  We think you’re just as deserving as anyone can be for a miracle too.” 

Tom nodded in agreement.

“We couldn’t change the way the world works, Nita.  We tried to but, well, who wants to live in a world like that?  That’s not truly living; your mother taught us that much, didn’t she?  And while yes, it’s true, that all of us have a modicum of say in the Universe, but—even as Wizards—we can’t change everything... ”

Tom tilted his head to the side, as if listening, then nodded again.  “For example, Nita, your presence today has reestablished Order.  You just changed the world!  Of course, I suppose it took us admitting to what happened and for someone to listen and tell the tale thereafter...”

He cleared his throat and switched subjects, because he had to know...  “And the fact that it was two male wizards in love—versus a male and a female—shouldn’t change the story, should it?”

Nita shook her head vehemently.  “No, not at all!”

“And that there are human wizards in the world is proof that our Ordeal is finally over.”  Carl said with certainty.

The dogs, who had padded into the middle of the room to lie under the coffee table, looked up at them at these words, and their eyes flashed gold mysteriously.

“Well, not really...”

           

            There is no ending.

           

Immortal Love,

Whom we, that have not seen thy face,

By faith, and faith alone, embrace,

Believing where we cannot prove...

-Alfred Lord Tennyson



Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
asphaltangel
Dec. 28th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
This story was, from beginning to end (or not end, heh), fantastic. I enjoyed reading all of it.
lotl101
Jan. 29th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
Absolutely brilliant! I really liked it!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )