Walking up the sidewalk to his apartment, Buck couldn’t help but smile briefly as he felt the wind blow through his hair, the feeling of cool air on his skin making him feel more at home than ever before. It took him back to the days where he grew up with his two sisters, and his aunt’s and his grandma, and great-grandma, and everyone else involved - sipping either hot chocolate or a drink from his other home instead. Everything had always been loud, and there was always something new that was being introduced to Buck whenever they came around, but the weather - the cool air, and the wind - it was something that always reminded him of home and family, and even though he lived in LA now, it was something he always enjoyed. Briefly, he thought about calling his sister, but he knew she was at work and wouldn’t be able to appreciate the weather at the moment. And he knew that it would only annoy Maddie, if he called her to talk about how amazing the weather was, and she couldn’t experience it for herself.
Instead, Buck had grabbed the keys to his apartment building’s front doors, smiling when another burst of wind surrounded him, bringing in the scent of vanilla, pumpkin, butternut squash, brown sugar, and somehow, the sweet scent a ghost carried with them, something that had him pausing and turning his head in confusion. There was truly no way that he could be, Buck thought briefly, blinking slowly before shaking his head, figuring maybe he just missed home a little more than he thought, and unlocking the door, letting out a small huff of breath as he entered the building, missing the coor air already before vowing to turn off his air conditioning and open a few windows when he got to his own apartment. Briefly, he thinks about taking the stairs up to his floor - just so he could see through the windows, maybe open one and enjoy the breeze once more, before he remembers that he’s on the twenty-second floor of the building and he’s not crazy , well -- not crazy currently.
Taking the elevator isn’t anything huge in of itself, with a few people coming on and getting off at different floors, some that Buck recognizes but a lot that he doesn’t. The entire time though, his heart pounds inside of his chest, and his fingers tap his phone, Maddie’s name screaming at him from the screen, eyes wide as he tries to figure out how to tell his sister that something was coming, something was going to happen.
Usually she didn’t listen to him when he said that, usually she would just roll her eyes and grin, because it’s not like Buck was ever right when he said those words. Except when it was getting close to Halloween - to their holiday. Because if he said those words then - he was right. He was always right, and it never mattered why he was right during October and no other time in their lives.
And standing in the elevator, slowly ascending up to the floor his apartment was on, Buck couldn’t help but stare at the message he had ended up typing out to his sister -- somebody’s coming - all because the elevator smelt just like it did outside --
Just like their Grandma Ags.
When the elevator doors finally open up on Buck’s floor, Buck can’t stop the deep breath he takes, nor can he stop how his nostrils flare as he tries to pick up the scent from earlier. It had faded from the elevator the longer he was inside of it, faded like a reminder that he hadn’t been back in home in years , that his family all probably missed him and Maddie, had no idea what he’d been through, since they didn’t really get normal news updates in their hometown like they did anywhere else. Stepping out from the elevator, he can’t find the smell any longer, and it hurts - hurts way more than Buck thought it would, especially when Maddie ends up texting him back with only question marks, not quite sure what he meant -- she should know, though.
When he finally gets to his door, he can see shadows crossing from underneath the door - and he can’t help but furrowed his brow in confusion - there shouldn’t be shadows, he thinks, his keys in his hands as he bites the inside of his cheek, not quite sure if he wants to open his front door and see --
Not quite sure if he wants to be disappointed by seeing nothing, because there was no way in hell he smelt what he thought he smelt, Buck thinks with a small, frustrated sigh, running his fingers through his hair and texting Maddie back with a simple shrug emoji. Placing the keys inside of his door and unlocking said door is simple, especially as he steps inside and does his normal routine - removing his keys, shutting the door, the bending down to pet the adorable-though-not-at-first kitten he had adopted a few months back - before bending back up, prepared to walk to the kitchen before stopping suddenly with wide eyes.
“Mom!” He gasps, almost taking a step back before his eyes continue to travel his apartment, landing on everyone else inside, waiting for him.
“Grandma Gwen? Grandma Aggie? Aunt Marnie?” He almost continues on, though his Mom shakes her head and steps up to him, running her fingers through his hair, the action having Buck almost fall to his knees and hold onto his Mom, having missed her so much, though he can’t help but notice that his Mom’s hold on himself is just as tight - hell, tighter, than normal, like she thought she was about to lose him, and just learn otherwise, making a rush of guilt course through Buck briefly.
“What’s going on?” He asks instead, ignoring the way all of the women look at one another before looking at him with a small smile. His heart continues to thrum inside of his chest as his Mom and Aunt Marnie hold onto his arms and bring him around to his couch, the television playing a soft melody - something Buck doesn’t really want to know how they got that to even happen. When they force him to sit down on the couch, he can’t help but arch his eyebrow when his Grandma Aggie looks at him with a small smile.
“Can you call your sister, Evan? We need to include her in this conversation,” Her voice is melodic, soft, and Buck finds himself nodding, even though he has no idea what’s going on. He doesn’t text her, just listens to his Grandma’s words - never Great Grandma, he remembers, because Grandma Ags wasn't old , even if she was, and dials Maddie’s cell phone, hoping and praying she answers, and, admittedly, putting a little magic into the thought because if their entire family is here, telling him he needs to call his sister -- he’s going to make sure he does and she picks up.
“Buck, what’s -- you know you’re not supposed to call me on my cell phone when I’m on the floor unless it’s an emerg--”
“Our family’s here,” Buck interrupts, biting the inside of his cheek as Maddie snaps her mouth shut, something Buck can hear through the phone. He feels bad a little bit - he never likes swinging surprises onto his sister, especially ones about family, after everything, but they had asked, and with their family, that’s not just something you can ignore. Briefly, he notices his Aunt Marnie and Grandma Ags moving towards one another, Grandma Ags’ dress sashaying as she moves, the light catching off the moon and the stars on the fabric, though Buck knows it’s not really light.
Shaking his head clear of the thoughts he can’t think about right now, Buck tries his best to pay attention to his sister, phone in his hand, staring at his mom with a small frown. They were both the youngest of three kids, he thinks - both with powers they didn’t quite understand, powers that weren’t really all that there, but -- his Mom smiles at him, and Buck tries his best to pay attention to the phone once more.
“Buck - Buck - BUCK!” He hears, and he blinks, letting out a sigh and shaking his head.
“Yeah, sorry. Our entire family is here,” He replies, not having heard Maddie’s question, but knowing what it was regardless. He can hear the moment she lets out a gasp, can feel it as she clenches the phone in surprise, before --
“Everyone?” She asks, her voice small, and Buck hates it, because they’re family . No one was going to be mad at her, or hate her, or be angry with her - they held all of that emotion for her damn ex husband - and their Mom must have the same thought, because something dark flashes in her eyes, though it’s gone the next second.
“Yeah, Mads, everyone. I’m pretty sure I even hear Uncle Dyl in my kitchen,” he whispers conspiratorially, eyes wide, Maddie giggling on the other line because they both know how much Dylan tries to avoid having to deal with anything magical.
“Okay, tell Mom I’ll be over --” Before she can even finish the sentence though, their Grandma Aggie is snapping her fingers and Maddie is in front of them all, eyes wide as she takes in the fact that she was just magicked out of her workplace. She slams the phone shut, and Buck knows she’s about to panic and he can’t help but cringe back, never having liked Maddie’s panics.
“Grandma Ags! You can’t just magic me here. I was at work . Surrounded by people. They could’ve seen, they’ll wonder where I went, especially with the fact that I didn’t shut down my computer or grab my things or --”
“Maddie dear, everything’ll be fine - I made sure no one remembered, now don’t you worry--” Their grandma says and almost everyone in the room snorts, ignoring the way their Grandma Ags narrows her eyes and huffs before throwing her hands up into the air, because if there’s one thing the Buckley family knows, it’s that nothing goes to their Grandma’s plans.
“Point is, no one will realize what happened, Maddie, dear,” Their Grandma Aggie finishes and Buck watches as Maddie lets out a small sigh before she plops herself next to him, her arm interlacing with his own while she stares at everyone, wondering the same thing that Bucks’ been trying to actively not think about.
“What’s going on, Mom?” Maddie asks, and as one, Buck and Maddie turn towards their Mother, a look of confusion on their face, especially when their Mom opens and shuts her mouth a few times like she has no idea what to say or how to respond. This happens for a few minutes before Buck lets out an annoyed huff of breath, shaking his head and shifting a little so he was sitting up more straight on the couch, his eyes narrowing as he took in everyone.
He couldn’t help but notice the difference - something not completely surprising since it’s been years since he’s seen his family, since he’s even been back home. But there are differences that he would’ve never expected - like the fact that Aunt Marnie keeps fiddling with her ring, clearly nervous about something. Or the fact that Uncle Dylan will look over to the side, and stare at nothing, like he wants to say something but can’t . Or like the fact that their other sister isn’t here - that she’s nowhere to be found or seen or heard from.
She ran away, she ran just like they all did, Buck thinks, though he finds himself blinking a little, because Lilian had absolutely no reason to run - not unless something real bad had happened, or she had decided to do something more reckless than what even Buck would agree to.
“Where’s Lils?” he asks, his eyes narrowing when his Grandparents look at one another before shrugging. Their hiding something - and that doesn’t surprise him, not after the fact that he can see their literal ages - something must’ve happened, he thinks. Something bad, if they’re here, and they’re looking at one another like that, he adds.
“Mom?” Maddie asks, and Buck turns towards their Mother with a frown, biting the inside of his cheek once more until --
“Halloweentown is in trouble. And we need your help to save it,” their Mom whispers and Buck feels his world shatter completely all together.
A couple of hours later, Buck sat next to his sister on his couch, unable to think of anything to say even though there were thousands of things he wanted to say. He knew Maddie felt similarly, knew in the way that she took deep breaths every few minutes while her fingers trembled at her sides and she looked at Buck every couple of seconds, wondering what it was that was going through his mind, trying to decide if she wanted to ask him just what the hell that was.
He almost wants to tell her to stop, but he keeps his mouth shut and instead, thinks about how his entire family has gone to their hotel for the night - something Buck can’t help but be grateful for because there was no way in hell that he could fit all of them in his apartment - though, he supposes Maddie and he could’ve split them up, if they really needed to. Thankfully, they didn’t though - his Grandma and Grandma Aggie having booked ahead of time, which means this visit wasn’t a surprise to anyone but Buck and Maddie.
“What do you think is going on?” Maddie whispers after a few moments and Buck finds himself turning towards her with a small frown on his face, trying to go over everything his Aunt Marnie and Mom had mentioned after they had mentioned Halloweentown being in trouble. Hearing that - hearing that his hometown was in danger, Buck had felt his heart drop into his stomach, a pain course through him that he hadn’t felt since the times his Mom told him stories about what she and his Aunt Marnie went through when they were first introduced to their home.
Halloweentown was in danger, and after hearing that Buck felt like an absolute fool for not returning home more often. It’s not like he hated his hometown - hell, that absolutely wasn’t the case for him and Maddie, he knew that. They both loved Halloweentown. They loved the smells that were in the air, good and bad, and they loved all of the residents of the town, from ghosts, ghouls, pumpkin-heads, werewolves, trolls and even fellow humans who had magic like Buck and Maddie did.
They grew up in a happy family - their Mom and their Dad, both filled with magical, though their Dad was human just like their Mom - a friend of Uncle Ethan’s, if Buck recalled - there were no problems, he thought to himself, even as Lily sometimes acted out, being the middle child, so much like Uncle Dylan, he thought, biting the inside of his cheek before letting out a soft sigh and looking at Maddie out of the corner of his eyes.
“They didn’t really tell us much, did they?” Buck responds back, eyebrows furrowing as he looks at the notebook of pages that their family had put together for them, detailing everything that had gone wrong with Halloweentown in the past couple of centuries. He moves slightly to grab it from the table in front of his couch, frown firmly in place as he opens it and flips through the pages, taking note of the few spells Grandma Aggie had left, the few curses Aunt Marnie had noticed and even worse, the changes that Uncle Dylan had noticed - like how time was changing in Halloweentown, even though it truly shouldn’t have been.
“Not really, no,” Maddie adds, a small sigh escaping from her as she turns the notebook slightly so she can look at it for herself upon noticing that Buck had lost interest in it. “And they wouldn’t tell us what was going on with Lily, either,” Maddie adds and Buck nods his head, having thought of that earlier, alongside something that clenched onto his heart and squeezed in a way he truly didn’t like.
“You don’t think Lily is behind all of the changes to our home, do you?” Maddie asks, almost like she can read his mind, and Buck shouldn’t be surprised by that, because even though they rarely use their powers anymore, they still have them, and they still find it very easy to use on one another.
“Would you be surprised?” Buck asks, unable to stop himself from thinking about all of the times that Lily had mentioned what she would do to change Halloweentown, not always for the better. Sure, their mother would always tell Lils to not talk or think that way, that Halloweentown was special and they didn’t need anymore changes - that it had changed a lot since Marnie had come around, but --
Lily had never listened, Buck thinks, remembering how she would always throw her long black hair over her one shoulder - hair so reminiscent of their Dad’s, he remembers, especially after he passed away. She would always grin when she said something that would everyone else tutting her, though something in her eyes dimmed and Buck never quite understood why - not until he left, and he didn’t return -- something he couldn't help but regret, he thinks lightly.
“We tried to get in contact with her, Buck. She never picked up,” Maddie whispers, and even though Buck knows she’s right, he can’t help but feel guilty, can’t help but wonder if maybe he had reached out more often to Lily, nothing like this would be happening.
“And we don’t even know if she’s involved,” Maddie adds, nodding her head like she’s sure of herself, and Buck can only nod in response, though he can’t help but pity his older sister, knowing that no matter how much Maddie hopes that’s the case, the way everyone else avoided mentioning Lily or remembering her -- that that wasn’t the case.
“We should get to bed,” Buck whispers when there’s nothing else to say, when all he can do is stare at his sister and think about his other sister. Part of him wants to go back into time, make so many changes, but he knows that’s not -- well, it’s possible, but he knows that Aunt Marnie wouldn’t let him, knows she would need a reason that was good enough, knows that she would’ve thought about doing it now herself, and that if she hadn’t, there was a reason for it in the first place.
Buck sees Maddie nod her head before they both get up and Buck stretches, a small yawn escaping from him. He can’t believe how exhausted he is, though he shouldn’t be surprised, and a part of him knows he’s going to regret this, but he can’t --
“Do you want my bed? You shouldn’t sleep on the couch,” he whispers, looking at Maddie, watching as she nods.
“You can take the bed too. It’s big enough that we’ll fit, with space. I’m not going to make you sleep on your couch - not when I know how uncomfortable it is for you knee,” Maddie whispers and Buck can’t help the smile that forms on his face at her words before he nudges her, and the two begin to make their way up, going through their routines just like they’re young children once more, since their home is on their minds.
When Buck wakes up in the morning, it’s to a cacophony of voices that he doesn’t immediately recognize, since each and every voice sounds like they’re talking over one another -- and the heavenly smell of an infamous Cromwell-Piper-Buckley breakfast. It’s the smells that get Buck up, his hand raising immediately as he gets out of his bed to run his fingers through his hair until he gets to the bathroom and does his thing before slowly heading downstairs. He’s still tired - he didn’t sleep well the night before, too many of his thoughts on his hometown, and his sister, and the fact that no one from his new family knew about his actual family, and the fact that he was probably going to have to go back home to save it, but that meant spending who knows how long away from the 118 -- from Eddie, and Chris, and ---
Buck finds himself stopping in his kitchen in surprise, hands coming up to rub at his eyes, not quite sure he’s seeing what he’s seeing, though a rather large part of him wants to smile at the sight nonetheless. He doesn’t know how he didn’t immediately recognize the voices, blames the fact that he’s exhausted , but --
“BUCKY!” Christopher shouts, shaking Buck from his thoughts as Buck looks towards him with a grin, kneeling down to pick up the little man before swinging him lightly. While the volume in the kitchen doesn’t lessen, Buck knows everyone in his family are now watching him like the hawks they are - though he does his best to ignore that as he turns into Eddie’s body, letting Eddie accept his weight as he smiles at his boyfriend, their relationship still new enough in the ‘boyfriends’ stage that Buck turns slightly red in the cheeks.
“Hey,” Buck whispers, turning towards Chris briefly, kissing the top of his head before turning back towards Eddie, his smile fading just a little bit when he sees Eddie arching his eyebrow at him.
“So uh, you never mentioned your family was in town,” Eddie voices, his voice soft even though it carries, because of course that’s something his Grandma Aggie would make possible, though you wouldn’t notice it if you weren’t nuanced to notice the magics of their family, Buck thinks.
“It was uh - kind of a last minute surprise for Maddie and me,” Buck admits, blowing out a small breath and relaxing when he notices Eddie nod and relax himself. Shifting Chris in his arms, Buck looks towards Eddie, biting his lower lip before looking around his kitchen, shaking his head fondly at how much of a catastrophic mess it is with his entire family in it, trying to cook.
Especially since the only one in the family that can cook normal, non-magical food is Uncle Dylan, and he’s not even being heard by everyone in the family, who are trying to provide their own insight into what needs to be done. Looking back towards Eddie with a small sigh, Buck shrugs his shoulders, shifting Chris once more.
“We’re a chaotic bunch,” Buck admits, ignoring the heat that pools in his gut when Eddie grins towards him.
“I can definitely see that,” Eddie ends up saying and Buck can’t help but shake his head, especially when he notices Maddie and Chimney in one corner, looking like they’re almost having a very similar conversation.
“No, Eds, you don’t understand - there’s so much about my family you don’t understand. I don’t even know how to begin explaining everything,” Buck admits, ignoring the way his heart pounds inside of his chest, because he knows that if Eddie can’t handle this, if Eddie can’t deal, odds are, Eddie won’t want him in his or his son’s life.
“Hey,” Eddie whispers, placing his hand on Buck’s cheek and caressing it softly, almost like he knows Buck needs to calm down somehow, and is willing to provide that relief, even if it’s in front of Buck’s entire family. And just like that, while Buck is calm, everyone in his family is starring in surprise, except Maddie, because it’s a sight that she’s used to seeing. No one is saying a word, though Buck can tell it’s not going to be long before they do, and once they do --
Buck can’t help but cringe back at the sound, Christopher hiding his face in Buck’s shoulders, just as sensitive to the sound as Buck is.
“Well, would you look at that, Sophie dear,” His Grandma Aggie interrupts and Buck blinks, turning towards her with a flush on his cheeks, ignoring the way she grins at him all-knowingly.
“Well, Buck, dear, are you going to introduce us to this fine young man and this even finer young man?” His Grandma Aggie asks, coming out from behind his kitchen counter with a grin, Buck opening his and closing his mouth before making a little squeak in the back of his throat that has Eddie, Maddie and Chimney snorting, which only causes Buck to glare lightly at them.
“Eddie Diaz,” Eddie says for him, a grin on his face as he holds out his hand, though Buck can’t help the smile on his face when he realizes Eddie is trying his best to charm his Grandma. “And this is my son, Christopher,” Eddie adds, running his fingers through Chris’ hair, telling him softly to come out from Buck’s shoulder and meet his family, which Chris does, a small grumble coming from him that has Buck arching his eyebrow in surprise before looking towards his boyfriend.
“We woke up a little grumpy today without our Buck,” Eddie explains and Buck can only hum in response, kissing Chris’ forehead.
“Chris, this is my Grandma Aggie,” Buck whispers, turning Chris a little so that he’s facing his Grandma. “She’s technically my great grandma, but don’t let her hear you say that, or else she’ll knock your hands with a whisk,” Buck teases, smiling when Chris giggles against him before he moves to shake his Grandma Aggies hand.
“He - hello Ms. Aggie,” Chris responds, and Buck can see his entire family melt, and he can’t help but feel pride towards Chris, looking at Eddie briefly, not surprised to see the same emotion on his boyfriend’s face.
“You can call me Grandma Aggie,” Buck hears and he can’t help but smile, especially after Chris asks to be put down and then watches as the young man makes the rounds around his kitchen, meeting his aunts, uncles, actual grandma, and then his Mom. While this is going on, Buck turns towards Eddie, waiting, wondering what’s going through his boyfriend’s mind.
“Eddie--” Buck begins, stopping when Eddie shakes his head and then interlaces their fingers together, kissing his knuckles after a few minutes.
“Tell me what’s going on?” Eddie asks, and Buck opens his mouth, absolutely positive that’s going to agree, tell Eddie to get to the couch with him so Buck can explain , but before he can do that, his door is opening and his sister is walking in, the room entirely too quiet as she does so.
“Hello everyone! Couldn’t have a Cromwell Witches reunion without me, could we?” She teases, her hands dropping down quickly, jolts of lightning coming from them as she does so, before panic begins to form in the air.
“What are you doing here, Lily?” Buck hears his Mom ask his sister nearly thirty minutes later. He finds himself looking over to Maddie with a small frown, hoping that she can read what’s going on in everyone’s minds, but Maddie only shakes her head with her own frown, and Buck can’t help but feel slightly disappointed over that knowledge. He had been hoping that maybe Maddie could get some sort of clue as to what their family was thinking, what Lily was thinking, but for some reason, his oldest sister couldn’t get a reading, or perhaps maybe even worse - wasn’t willing and able to tell him, Buck thinks, biting the inside of his cheek before trying to relax, especially when he feels Eddie rubbing his lower back to help him.
Turning towards Eddie, he can’t help but frown - he had wanted to tell his best friend just what he was experiencing, until his sister had come barging in, hands crackling with energy that Buck isn’t dumb enough to believe Eddie and Christopher didn’t see. Especially since Chris has been bouncing in his seat every few minutes, once they had all taken a seat, looking at Buck with wide eyes, like he had a million questions to ask him..
He couldn’t help but wonder if Eddie was trying to figure out what had happened with his sister, if he was trying to put off the realization that it was magic , like most adults did, by trying to explain it with science. A rather large part of Buck hoped that wasn’t the case, because it was always harder to explain to someone that he had magic if they were trying to view it scientifically.
Opening and closing his mouth, Buck continues to watch Eddie, freezing slightly when Eddie turns towards him, arching his eyebrow, an unasked question on his face that Buck doesn’t know if he can answer right now. He wants to, goes to open his mouth to do so, but then Lily is in front of him, a grin on her face, and Buck can’t help but think that it’s purely sibling evil.
“Hey little brother,” Lily sing-songs and Buck lets out a small sigh, looking up at Lily with a quirk of his eyebrows, shifting slightly so he could protect Chris from his sister’s sight, the feeling of over-protectiveness running high in his body. She spots the movement though, of course she did, because Lily was always observant, they all were, and he can’t help but turn red as she arches her own eyebrow in response, something softening on her features.
“Want to introduce me to this little family you’ve got yourself?” She asks, and Buck really doesn’t, can tell everyone else doesn’t want Lily to be introduced by the way Grandma Aggie opens her mouth or Grandma scowls or even how their Mom shakes her head. The choice is taken out of his hands though, when Christopher leans forward and Buck feels Eddie tense before he shakes his head, like he should’ve expected it.
“I’m Chris, I’m his step-son. Was that really magic that - that you did?” Chris asks, the excitement obvious in his voice, though Buck can’t get over the fact that Chris said he was his step-son. He’s only been dating Eddie for a few months, but the fact that Chris said --- the fact that Chris considers him a parent , something inside of Buck beams, and he knows Eddie can tell by looking at him when Eddie presses against his side.
“His step-son, huh? That’s nice,” Lily responds, though there’s no longer any bite in her tone, like there was when she was talking to their Grandmothers. “And how old are you, Chris?”
“I’m ten!” Chris responds, a grin on his face and Buck watches as Lily nods, narrowing his eyes. His sister is up to something - he might not have seen her in years, but he knows when she’s up to something, and right now, she is definitely up to something, and Buck can’t help but tense as he tries to figure out what’s going on, Eddie pressing into his side even harder as he does so.
“And Chris, would you say that magic is… cool? And deserves to be known everywhere ?” Lily asks and Buck can feel his heart sink into his stomach because he knows what this is about suddenly. It’s something that has divided the citizens of Halloweentown for eons, Buck thinks. And while everyone in his family has told people they think deserve to know, or should know, or would want to know - they haven’t told every single person they’ve met, wanting to covet the magic a little bit more than what it was like when Aunt Marnie was growing up, but not nearly as bad after Grandma Aggie’s time.
He watches Chris, pride filling him up when he sees Chris pause and begin to think about his sister’s magic. He knows that Chris’ answer is going to make him happy, can already tell, so he watches his family’s reaction instead. His Aunt Marnie and Uncle Ethan have one eye on Lily each, most likely because they remember what it was like, to feel the terror of having your magic known against your will and taken away, but they’re also whispering quietly to one another. Next to them was Uncle Dylan, though his wife was apparently at home, watching the kids, since no one could really bring kids with them during this time, watching Lily carefully. Buck couldn’t help but feel bad for his Uncle Dylan -- he had always been close to Lily, joking about how the middle kids had to stick together, and to find out that Lily veered off the path and wanted to -- Buck didn’t even know, but either way, he knew it must not have been easy for his Uncle. They were all in the kitchen, leaning against the counter, though there was a fair amount of space between them all.
Sitting on top of the island was his Mom, legs crossed on top of the counter that had Buck grumbling softly, knowing he’d have to disinfect that as soon as possible. She was watching Lily herself, a small frown on her face, though Buck didn’t know what his Mom was thinking - always closer to his Dad then his Mom, but he knew that if something were to happen, that he could count on his Mom.
By his windows were his Grandma and Grandma Aggie - they were sitting in front of them, watching -- Buck blinked, because they were watching him , a knowing smile on his Grandma Aggie’s face that had him turning red before he looked back towards Maddie and Chim, who looked - oh.
Why did everyone suddenly look so angry , he couldn’t help but wonder, frowning, before he looked towards Eddie in slight confusion, blinking even more in surprise when he sees the fury on his boyfriends face.
“She made fun of Chris because she didn’t like the answer he gave her,” Eddie whispers and Buck turns his head so fast towards his sister that he’s pretty sure he would’ve gotten whiplash, a scowl on his face as he folds his arms in front of his chest and leans his body over so that he’s covering Chris from her sight, and she’s looking directly at him.
“You don’t get to do that. You asked him a question. He answered. You might not like his answer, but that doesn’t give you any right to mock him, or hurt him, or make fun of him. He’s my son, and you might not realize this, Lily, but I am very protective of my family,” Buck scowls and he can’t help but smile inwardly when he sees his sister blink in surprise, and the rest of his family exude pride at his words, though he does his best to ignore that. Eventually, Lily scowls and steps away from them all, shaking her head.
“You’re all fools!” She spits, heading towards the door, the anger of her emotions making her magic form a mini tornado in his home, papers falling to the ground as it moves. When she reaches his front door, she turns back around, scowl still in place as she shakes her head.
“Magic will be known. Halloweentown will be accessible to everyone again, and we will not hide! No matter what I have to do to make it happen!” She snaps, opening his door and leaving, slamming it shut in her anger, the tornado stopping suddenly just as it started, everyone breathing collectively together as they frown at her words.
“What the hell , Buck?” Eddie nearly shouts a short while later, the two of them in Buck’s bedroom as he begins to pack clothes for the trip to his hometown he knows is coming. He knows Maddie and Chimney have gone to their place to pack some clothes up, and his Mom and Aunt Marnie took Chris to the park, his Uncle Dylan and Uncle Ethan going to grab some food for everyone, leaving just Eddie and him at his home, while Buck packed. And while he expected this conversation to happen, another part of him wants to push it away, doesn’t want to explain quite yet what’s going on, just in case Eddie leaves, decides it too much to handle. Taking in a deep breath, Buck packs a few more items of clothes, avoiding his boyfriend momentarily before he feels Eddie’s hands on his shoulders, and then his neck, and his cheeks, and oh, that feels so good, he thinks, looking up at Eddie with wide, panicked eyes.
“Hey. Talk to me. C’mon man,” Eddie whispers, moving them to Buck’s bed, getting comfortable in a way that has heat coursing through Buck. All he wants to do now is make out with Eddie, but there’s no time, sadly, so he looks at Eddie with a soft sigh.
“So, I’m originally from a town called Halloweentown,” Buck begins, biting his lower lip.
“Like in the movies?” Eddie asks and Buck can’t help but let out the groan that had escaped from him. He hated it when those movies came out, hated how they got so much right about his town, and his family, and how everything went down, though there were some changes that no one was a fan of -- like Kal going after his Aunt Marnie, he thinks, briefly, before he shakes his head and looks back towards Eddie.
“Exactly like the movies,” Buck admits, watching his boyfriend after a few minutes. Eddie opens and closes his mouth, eyes widening with surprise before he leans back, watching Buck carefully.
“The magic I saw?” He asks, and Buck lets out a small chuckle, shrugging his shoulders.
“Incredibly real.” He says, biting the inside of his cheek before blowing out a breath and turning towards Eddie completely, folding his legs so they’re crossed also.
“But they changed some things. And you guys will see that when you come with us, but --”
“You want us to come with you?” Eddie asks and Buck stops, eyes widening. He supposes he had just assumed that Eddie and Chris would want to come, hadn’t even thought about asking them because --
“Of course I do. You met my family, Eds. My insane, magical filled family. It’s high time you see where I actually grew up,” Buck chuckles, nudging Eddie’s foot with his hand while Eddie looks at him with a small smile.
“So, I’m going to be visiting the real Halloweentown?” Eddie confirms, a small, disbelieving laugh escaping from him as he realizes that the movies he’s seen with Chris so many times are pretty much real, and he’s --
“Holy shit, I totally get while you won’t watch the films with us now,” Eddie laughs and Buck groans, placing his head in his hands before running his fingers through his hair and then standing up to finish packing.
“I need to finish packing, and then we gotta get to your place to pack some stuff for you and Chris,” Buck says, biting his lower lip before sighing and stepping next to Eddie, kissing him lightly.
“Thank you,” he whispers, smiling when Eddie nods, knowing he doesn’t need to say anything else, that Eddie understands.
They finish packing, though for a few minutes at a time, they get caught kissing one another, unable to stop themselves, especially now that they’re alone, and for Buck -- especially now that Eddie knows everything about him.
By the time they get to Eddie’s place, his Mom and Aunt are pulling into the parking lot his apartment building has, and they do a little switch with Chris going with them into Eddie’s car, since they had borrowed his Jeep.
“We’ll meet you back here by 7, alright?” His mom whispers as she holds onto him and Buck nods, kissing her cheek briefly before he picks Chris up and follows Eddie to his car, something lodging itself in his throat, trying to escape but unable to.
It’s hours later, and fifteen minutes past seven, with Buck and everyone else back in his living room except for his Uncles - Buck, Eddie, Chris, Maddie and Chim all with bags they need to bring with them. Buck can feel excitement coursing through him - he’s finally going to be returning home, after so many years of keeping away because he wanted to find himself. And he’s going to be returning home with his family , not just his original family, but his found family, and that --
Buck can’t help but be excited about that. At the same time though, he’s nervous, because there’s something clearly wrong with his hometown thanks to his sister, and he doesn’t know how to feel about that, doesn’t know if it’s something that can be fixed. If it even needs to be fixed, he thinks, chewing the inside of his cheek as worry courses through him. Buck feels tense, though the rest of his family have made themselves at home in his apartment, and a part of him can’t help but preen, seeing how everyone likes his place, though he does notice his Grandma Aggie looking at the decorating like it’s sparse -- which, admittedly, it is , but that’s because the apartment has never truly felt like home, ever since he got it with Ali and then she up and left.
“Oh, do sit down,” His Grandma Aggie says, interrupting his thoughts and causing him to blink in surprise and look at her with confusion.
“We’re not leaving for another couple of hours, dear. You can afford to sit down and relax,” She adds, a small smile on her face as Buck opens and closes his mouth before groaning lightly and then heading toward his couch, chuckling when his Grandma does some magic to make the couch fit everyone, instead of just a few people.
“So, wait, if we’re not leaving for a few hours yet, why did you want us all here by seven?” Maddie asks, just as the front door opens to reveal Buck’s Uncles, with a horde of food large enough to feed twice the size of Buck’s family.
“To catch up, of course, dear Maddie,” Buck’s Aunt Marnie chuckles, helping Ethan and Dylan with the food, placing it on the island and then sorting it so that it’s easier for everyone to grab something and go quickly, so there’s no fighting or hassle with the food - something their family learned early on to do, Buck thinks with a nostalgic smile.
“What do you guys need to - to catch up - up on?” Chris asks, his head tilted and Buck can’t help but find the sight cute, before his eyes widen when he realizes how, despite the innocent question, the answer is all but innocent.
“Oh, maybe the fact that Maddie’s husband is dead?” Marnie says, but before Maddie can even say anything --
“Or the fact that she’s dating someone and pregnant ,” Grandma adds with a look, Buck’s eyes widening before --
“Or how about the fact that Buck has had a tracheotomy, went through a bomb exploding, which caused a fire truck to pin him to the ground requiring numerous leg surgeries, an embolism because of said surgeries, then he went through a tsunami -- and then apparently a lawsuit--” His mom adds, arching her eyebrow at Buck as Buck shrinks back, chuckling softly, insecurely.
Briefly, Buck hears Maddie let out her own chuckle, and Buck can’t help but look towards his sister, guilt on both of their faces as they try to get out of this.
“I mean, I did call---”
“Yes, but you know what the cell service is like in Halloweentown, Evan. You called once, each time, if that. We didn’t receive any emails, or texts, nothing. I didn’t know anything was wrong until I got here and the cell service kicked back in earlier,” Buck’s mom says, and Buck can’t help but continue to shrink back, feeling bad, remembering how he briefly thought that it felt like his Mom was holding onto him like she had lost him.
And he realizes, in a way, she had kind of lost him - she had almost lost him numerous times without her knowing, all because Buck hadn’t said anything. Opening and closing his mouth once again, Buck looks at his Mom, then his Grandma’s, Aunt, and Uncles, and can’t help but feel even worse.
“I’m sorry,” Buck whispers, looking at his Mom, feeling Maddie shift, even though she’s not sitting quite next to him.
“Hm, just make sure you actually contact us when you’re nearly dying, Evan Adam Buckley, or else!” His Mom says, looking him in the eye until he nods, gulping slightly before she turns towards his sister, who is turning beet red.
“I’m not going to make you relive what Doug put you through,” his Mom whispers, and Buck can’t help but chuckle when Maddie’s eyes widen in surprise, and his Mom must recognize the look, because she’s chuckling right along with him.
“You must have forgotten that I have the sight, my love. I can see what happens, even if I don’t quite understand it,” Their mom says.
“So what stopped you from seeing what happened to Buck?” Maddie asks with a chuckle, and their Mom only sighs, clearly exasperated.
“He’s the one I can’t see, since his powers were mine,” she responds, and Buck remembers the numerous times they’ve had this conversation in general, remembers how, even though it’s a new conversation for everyone else, it’s not for the three of them.
“His powers were yours?” Eddie asks, his eyes widening slightly, and Buck can’t help but let out a small laugh, knowing that he didn’t really explain the whole magical powers thing to Eddie properly, like he should’ve. When his Mom looks towards them, something in her softens, and she ends up sitting down in the middle of the room, everyone watching her carefully.
“When I was younger, I always knew when someone or something was coming, whether it be good or bad. When I had my kids, they got power themselves. Maddie’s power was knowing what a person could be thinking at any given moment, something she wasn’t a fan of for obvious reasons. Lily’ power was -- well, manipulation of emotions. She hated it growing up, but it appears that she’s grown into it. And Evan’s… his was the exact same as mine. Every now and then, all three of my kids could do other things, or borrow other powers, but those were their main powers,” Their mom says, and Buck watches as Eddie nods, biting his lower lip in thought. Buck wants to lean forward and bite it himself, but Maddie ends up throwing a pillow at him, which has everyone snorting, like they knew what he was thinking, which -- they probably did.
“I guess I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Sophie, Maddie and Buck’s mom,” she responds, holding her hand out to Eddie, who takes it with a grin.
“Eddie. Buck’s boyfriend,” He responds with a grin, the entire room snorting as Buck groans and Eddie looks towards him in confusion, Buck standing up to grab a plate of food at last, grabbing one for Eddie and Chris also, picking the choices out carefully before heading back to the couch with them, handing them over with a small smile, sighing when he realizes Eddie is still looking at him, waiting.
“When I was younger, I was teased for liking boys, so I always said I was going to fall in love with a female,” Buck explains, everyone giggling softly as Buck glares lightly.
“At school, he was teased. Not at home. But we all knew Buck was a bisexual disaster the moment he started showing interest,” Marnie laughs, Ethan chuckling while Buck groans and turns bright red.
“We’re happy to invite you to the family, Eddie. You and your boy,” Marnie responds as Buck’s mom does the same introduction to Chimney. As the family finishes their meal, Buck can slowly begin to feel the anxiety hit new heights inside of him, and he hates it, finds himself pressing against Eddie more and more, until his Grandma Ags places her plate away and takes a deep breath. Almost like a lineup, everyone else essentially does the same, though Chris continues to eat, watching everyone, which has Buck smiling a little bit.
“I think it’s time, we go home,” Grandma Aggie says and Buck finishes his plate quickly, looking towards Maddie with a frown, wondering how they’re going to go home. It’s been years, and while he knows Aunt Marnie and his Mom and his Grandma’s can do the opening spell themselves, the last time he went through the door, it had been practically derelict, he thinks, eyes widening when his family does the spell and it appears in front of him almost like it’s brand new.
“We ended up doing a strengthening spell, shortly after you left,” his Mom whispers, a small smile on her face and Buck turns over to look at her, confused and curious, but nodding nonetheless. Everyone slowly begins making their way through the door, where Buck can see the beginnings of his hometown, until eventually, it’s just Maddie, Chimney, Eddie, Chris and himself, his Mom smiling as she goes through it, telling him they’ll see them at home.
“So, that’s your hometown,” Eddie says, Chimney whistling softly at the sights of the residents walking by the door from afar.
“It is. You’re going to see a lot of ---”
“Different species,” Buck finishes for his sister, biting the inside of his cheek before he turns towards Eddie with wide eyes.
“Are you guys ready?” He asks, taking another deep breath and exhaling when Eddie nods and interlaces their fingers together, a smile on his face as he does so, Chris doing the same to his other hand while Chimney does something similar to Maddie.
Briefly, he remembers his Grandma Ags mentioning Maddie’s pregnancy, and he looks at her then his stomach with a smile, and she chuckles, before they’re walking through the door and into their home - into Halloweentown.
The moment they walk through the door, it shuts, surprising a few of them though Buck and Maddie end up relaxing when they remember that it’s completely normal for the door to just randomly shut after its occupants have gone through it. And even though it feels like an eternity, it’s only seconds, and Buck and Maddie are relaxing completely, their shoulders slumping as a breeze occurs, bringing smiles to their faces, alongside the scent of pumpkin and butternut squash, though that’s for Buck only, and he has no idea what it is Maddie smells.
Without a thought, he steps forward and turns towards Eddie and Chris with a grin on his face, laughing lightly, feeling the most free he’s felt in years. Unable to stop himself, Buck throws his hands up in the air and twirls, not realizing that Maddie has done the exact same thing as him at the same time, both of them laughing, completely happy.
When a few moments pass, Buck stops twirling and looks towards his boyfriend, cheeks red, eyes shining with pure delight and something he knows no one could name, but knows is magic .
“Welcome to my hometown, Eds,” he laughs, walking towards Eddie and kissing him lightly, chuckling when Eddie hums in response. He pulls away after a few minutes, picking Chris up and swirling him around while in his arms, more laughter escaping from him, Chris joining him before he lets himself stop and relax, breathing in deeply and smiling.
The group takes a few more steps, Chimney stepping next to Buck and Eddie, looking in awe around the town until they get to the pumpkin, Maddie nudging Buck before laughing, the two of them almost regressing to how they acted as children, chasing one another around the pumpkin while laughing delightfully.
“You two aren’t children anymore, enough of that,” Buck hears his Grandma say, laughing, and Buck can’t help but laugh in response before wrapping his arms around her and hugging her, grinning when Grandma Ags appears.
“Oh, let them have fun, especially with their significant others, Gwen. They’re going to need the memories, when all is said and done,” She laughs, walking towards Christopher before lifting him up and twirling him similar to how Buck did, which only made them all laugh.
After who knows how many minutes of all of them playing near the pumpkin, Buck ends up settling down before taking Eddie and Chris, with Maddie taking Chim, planning on giving their family the tour of their home, grins firmly in place.
“This is where I first did magic accidentally,” Buck says with a grin, re-doing the magic he had done that night with a twirl of his fingers, his grin growing wider as Christopher oohs and awes, and Eddie looks at him with wide eyes, something shining in them that Buck wants to look into more at a later time. They’re in front of one of the haircutting places, still owned by the werewolf his Aunt Marnie had done a bad job on so many years ago, but now worked by his grandkids, if Buck recalled.
“What made you do the magic accidentally?” Eddie asks with a tilt of his head, Buck chuckling as he looks towards Maddie with a grin.
“I had been teasing him about not being able to do any magic in general,” Maddie admits, and Buck can’t help but playfully glare at Chimney when he hears the man snort before he ends up chuckling with a fond shake of his head. They all continue walking though, Grandma Aggie and Grandma Gwen having gone home to prepare the few spells they needed to do.
Buck didn’t know where his Mom and Aunt had gone, nor his Uncles, but he didn’t mind either, having been excited to show Eddie everything, and he knew Maddie had been excited to show Chimney everything too. They had split up for a little bit before meeting back at the school, and now they were walking on main street, up to their Grandma Aggie’s home.
“So is Benny still the taxi driver?” Eddie asks and Buck can’t help the burst of laughter that escapes him, distracting him from the thoughts he had been thinking briefly, even if they were happy thoughts.
“He is. And he’s just as funny in real life as he is in the movies. He doesn’t drive around a lot anymore though, sadly,” Buck says with a grin as they pass a few others walking - a gnome, pumpkin and witch, something Buck can’t help but think of as an odd trio before shrugging it off.
“And--” Eddie begins before pausing, biting his lower lip in thought, Buck turning towards him. They’re just at the bottom of the hill that goes up Cromwell Drive, and Buck watches his boyfriend with curious eyes, wondering what’s going on in Eddie’s mind.
“Did it really happen like in the movies? Did Kalabar and his son really try to take over so that humans were…” Eddie pauses here and Buck looks down, biting the inside of his cheek before letting out a soft sigh.
“Pretty much, yeah. The events of the third movie didn’t happen totally - it was mainly the town Aunt Marnie grew up in that learned the truth of our world, not so much the entire country, or whatever. And yeah, word spread, but it wasn’t… as changed as the fourth movie made it seem,” Buck replies after a few minutes.
“But other than that, a lot of it was the same, though there were some smaller differences,” Buck adds with a shrug of his shoulders before they turn the hill, and come up on his Grandma Aggie’s home, his frown turning into a small smile.
“Welcome to my home, Eds,” he whispers, nudging his boyfriend a little bit as he remembered all of the memories he had from growing up here with his entire family.
As they continue to walk up the hill and to the front door of the house, Buck can’t help but feel even more at ease the closer he gets, even though he can feel the anxiety in him rising all at the same time, knowing that Lily is no doubt nearby, watching, learning -- everything.
“Hey,” Maddie says, nudging him after a minute or two as they continue walking up the hill. “Don’t think about it, okay. She doesn’t have my power, I would know. She can’t see what we’re thinking, or what we’re going to do. And whatever happens, we’ll get through it.” She finishes and Buck nods, feeling relief course through him before they enter the home, Buck watching Eddie and Chris’ faces with a smile.
“So what you’re saying is that Lily not only wants the entire world to find out about Magic, she wants to have the entire world be able to use magic in any way they want?” Buck asks a little while later, scrunching up his face in pure confusion. He doesn’t understand why she would want that - especially since it’s the same plan that all of the others had and failed in succeeding, and Lily had always mocked those plans endlessly when they were growing up. Looking over to Maddie, he can see the confusion in her face too, and he can’t help but look towards his Aunt Marnie and Mom, shrugging his shoulders.
“That makes no sense. You know how she always reacted to stories Aunt Marnie told us growing up, Buck adds, biting his lower lip, still not understanding completely.
“We… We don't think it’s Lily, exactly,” Grandma Aggie says slowly, and Buck frowns even more, leaning back as his eyes widen in slight understanding.
“She’s possessed by the spirit of Kalabar, isn’t she?” He asks, remembering the last time he had talked to his sister, remembering how she had been getting involved with something that she really shouldn’t have been getting involved with - using spirits of ghosts, and old Latin spells that even Grandma Aggie had shaken her head at, reminded too much of the time where she as a princess with a duty she didn’t want to partake in.
“We believe so, yes,” Buck’s Uncle Ethan responds and Buck can’t stop but blow out a small breath, moving slightly so that Christopher, who was sitting next to him, was now in his lap, Buck’s head gently on top of Chris’ as he tried to figure out what to do with that information.
“We think things got out of hand for her, and she couldn’t control what happened by herself, even with the Cromwell Magic running through her veins,” Dylan adds and Buck closes his eyes, tries not to think of his sister fighting by herself, even now, if Kalabar has truly possessed her. It’s a scary thought, one that has Maddie rubbing his shoulder and the room quiet as they let the information sink in.
“So what do we do?” Buck asks, not sure if he wants to know the answer.
Walking down main street once more, Buck can’t help but feel tense. He’s got Chris next to him and Eddie next to Chris, but in this one moment, he wishes Chris was able to stay at his Grandma Aggie’s, wishes that he didn’t even have to get close to what was going to happen with his sister.
“Why can’t we just use Grandma Aggie’s bag?” Chris asks and Buck can’t stop the smile that’s forming on his face, shaking his head briefly, fondly, at how Chris already considers himself part of Buck’s family. Realizing that Chris is talking about the infamous bag that followed his Grandma Aggie around, Buck can’t help but chuckle.
“He sleeps a lot of the time now. And Grandma Aggie doesn’t really have a reason to bring him with her everywhere,” he says, his voice quiet as he carefully looks around main street, unable to help but notice how quiet it is, like the citizens of Halloweentown have been forewarned. Of course, maybe they have been, Buck thinks with a small sigh.
When the wind picks up, Buck can’t help but cast his eyes upward, a frown on his face as clouds roll in. It rarely gets cloudy in Halloweentown, he thinks. Not like this. Not unless --
“Hey, little brother,” he hears and he looks away from the clouds and straight ahead, not surprised to find Lily in front of him, a small smirk on her face as her arms fold in front of her, in such a gesture that reminds Buck of himself that he has to step back in surprise and unease.
“Hi, Lils.” He says, biting the inside of his cheek briefly, before, “Or should I say Kalabar?” He finishes, tilting his head slightly, ignoring the way the smirk on his sister’s face widens, or how his sister’s arms spread out like they’re beckoning something to come join them in this conversation. That, admittedly, is not something he really wants to think about, so he makes sure Eddie and Chris have followed the plan, though he doesn’t doubt Eddie hasn’t, since it’s his son with them.
“How long have you been possessing my sister, Kalabar?” Buck asks, making sure that he doesn’t let his eyes wander the town to look for his sister, or his Aunt and Uncles. He can’t give them away, even as the wind picks up, a whistling sound arriving with it.
“Oh, long enough that everyone thought her behavior was normal,” Kalabar chuckles and Buck can’t help but swallow, bile almost rising up because of how utterly he failed his sister. He can’t help but shake his head, can’t help but shake in general, a part of him wishing he knew how Kalabar had done it. Another part of him wanting to forget this had ever happened.
“You’re not going to succeed at this, you know that, right?” Buck can’t help but ask as he steps in front of Eddie and Chris, hands clenched into fists at his side, even as Kalabar chuckles, the sound eerie coming from his sister - his sister, who never chuckled like that. Buck hated himself in the moment, hated that he didn’t see the truth when his sister was at his home earlier. Had she been screaming for help, or had he truly failed, and was she gone?
“And what makes you think I won’t succeed?”
“You didn’t succeed the first time. Your son didn’t succeed the second time. And Edgar Dalloway didn’t succeed the third time.” Buck says, beginning to stand tall as time goes on, grinning lightly when he hears the small giggle that comes from his Mom up the way. He knows Kalabar hears it too by the way he turns and looks around, confusion on his face.
“And if you thought beating us the first time around was hard, with only five Cromwell’s, you’re really going to have a hard time beating us with seven Cromwell’s, instead.” Buck finishes, a smirk on his face as everyone in his family appears all around the street. He can see Kalabar take it all in, eyes wide, and can’t help but feel smug, even though he really wants the spirit of Kalabar out of his sister.
“You won’t be able to hurt me without hurting her, you know that,” he snarls, and it sounds off coming from Lily’s mouth, like it’s not her, and it’s purely him, and Buck can’t help but feel worried, though he shakes it away as Eddie and Christopher hide behind the brick wall they’re near, Eddie watching him carefully.
“Don’t worry, we’ve thought of that,” Grandma Gwen says and everything happens too fast for even Buck to keep up with, though he does his best. There’s magic everywhere, every single person chanting, throwing spells at Lily and Kalabar, trying to separate Lily from Kalabar’s spirit thanks to their cousin - their cousin who took place for Marnie in college, admittedly, when she decided -- well, that was a story for another day.
Each Cromwell witch or warlock does their best to throw spells that could catch Kalabar off guard - but could also not be recognized by Lily’s subconscious. Feeling like he could get in a good shot at the moment, with Kalabar’s back to him, Buck closed his eyes and took a deep breath, opening them and then chanting quietly, moving his hands in a specific movement before throwing his hands open in Lily’s direction, silently praying it separates Kalabar from his sister while hurting him.
At the same moment that he throws his spell, Grandma Aggie, Gwen, and Aunt Marnie all throw a spell at the same time, and all four spells connect to Kalabar at once, causing him to fall to the ground as his own magic fades from his hands. He watches, panting, as the rest of his family circle Kalabar and he takes a few steps closer to the man, biting his lower lip until suddenly, there’s a blinding light and a dark light, pulling and yanking at one another, blinding everyone to the point that they have to cover their eyes, a small groan escaping from them.
When Buck manages to remove his hand from his eyes, he steps closer to where he sees Kalabar, his eyes widening when he realizes - he sees Kalabar. He doesn’t just see Kalabar’s spirit within his sister, but he can see Kalabar lying on the ground, still wearing his black robe from when his Aunt Marnie had beaten him the first time.
With a small gasp, Buck surges forward at the exact same time that Maddie does, and he knows she’s realized the same thing - that Lily - their actual sister Lily - is lying just off center of Kalabar, looking at him wearily, until she spots them and lets out a sob, arms wrapping around the two of them, her entire body shaking.
At one point, Buck notices the rest of his family come around them, his Grandma Aggie charming Kalabar into handcuffs that he can’t get out of before joining the rest of them, and Buck continues to hold onto his sisters as tight as he can, looking up at Eddie with a small smile, tears falling down his cheeks as he does so.
“Thanks, Eddie,” Buck whispers, grabbing onto the tea that his boyfriend has passed over to him. Everyone in his family is sitting in Grandma Aggie’s living room, Lily wrapped around her Mom and Grandma Gwen’s arms, still shaking from earlier. Buck’s exhausted, especially after all of the magic he let himself use, despite not having used magic as powerful as that in a long time. Then there was listening to Lily’s story, and --
All he really wanted to do was sleep, if he was being honest. And he knew everyone wanted the same thing, because they had been quiet for so long, something that wasn’t normal, with Aunt Marnie practically asleep in Uncle Ethan’s lap, his fingers running through her hair slowly, something that just made Buck even more tired.
“We should go to bed. We have a busy day tomorrow, getting you guys back to your home before we can’t,” Grandma Aggie says, her voice strained and Buck wants to go over to her and just wrap her in his arms, her age beginning to show through. Instead, he sips his tea and nods his head, his own eyes shutting briefly before he jolts his head. Eddie had put Chris to sleep earlier in one of the rooms, and now Buck knew it was his time. Standing up, he said goodnight to everyone, kissing each of them on the top of their heads, causing everyone to chuckle before Eddie and he made his way to the bedroom Buck grew up in, a small burst of energy coursing through Buck.
When they finally get to Buck’s old room, it’s slow going, changing into pajamas and doing their nightly routines, especially in the small bathroom Buck had growing up. They make do though, eventually landing in the bed with exhausted sighs - Buck more-so than Eddie. Buck can feel Eddie’s arms wrap around his waist, their legs tangling together as Buck slowly begins to relax and his eyes begin to close.
“Today was interesting,” Buck hears Eddie whisper and he can’t help but smile softly, nodding his head inside of Eddie’s chest as his shoulders relax completely.
“I’m glad you’re alright,” Buck whispers.
“With you by my side, I’ll always be alright,” Eddie responds and Buck can’t help but smile, falling asleep before anything else can be said.
The next day is chaotic. There’s a meeting with the Halloweentown Union or whatever, Buck never really paying attention to that part of the town, and then Kalabar is hauled off somewhere, and Lily, Maddie and him all hug one another for an incredibly long time. He knows there’s tears, knows there’s words no one can understand between the three of them.
Eventually, they all break apart, wiping their eyes, if only because Maddie, Buck and everyone else have to get back to Los Angeles. The thought saddens Buck - he’s only been here for twenty-four hours, and he never realized just how much he missed his hometown. He feels Eddie stand next to him and turns to look at his boyfriend, a sad smile on his face.
“We’ll come back. I won’t let you go as long as you did before without coming here,” Eddie whispers, wrapping his arm around Buck’s shoulder as Buck nods, more tears slipping free from his eyes. He regrets it, going as long as he did without coming home, without visiting his family. He’s nearly died so many times, missed out on so much, and now, he’s leaving again, but this time -- this time he won’t let himself fail his family once more.
After a few minutes, his family is surrounding him, his Grandma Aggie and Gwen hugging onto him tightly, telling him to not be a stranger, providing him a head phone, which has him laughing through his tears. His Aunt Marnie and Uncle Ethan come up next, both hugging him tightly, Uncle Ethan running his fingers through his hair briefly, causing Buck to grin, remembering the days where he did that when Buck was a child.
“We’ll call you when we get back. We’re not always in Halloweentown, and we should’ve called you sooner,” Marnie whispers and Buck nods, watching as she goes over to Maddie and rests her hand on her stomach. Briefly, Buck remembers wanting to talk to Maddie about that, but instead, he hugs his Uncle Dylan goodbye briefly, knowing Dylan was never easy with goodbyes before he sees his Mom, and wraps her in her arms immediately.
“I don’t want to say goodbye,” he whispers, chuckling when his Mom’s hold on him tightens.
“We’re stronger together, Evan. Always remember that, okay? I’ll be a phone call, email, or text away if you need me. Don’t forget that either, okay?” She whispers and Buck nods, hugging onto his mom tightly before stepping away as Grandma Aggie and Aunt Marnie re-open the door. Taking a deep breath, Buck waves goodbye to everyone before stepping through the door, watching as Halloweentown slips away from him, Eddie holding onto his hand as Chris waves goodbye to everyone else also, until the door shuts close.
“We’ll go back, Buck,” Chris says and Buck nods, smiling softly at the little boy, taking a deep breath. Maddie and Chimney have gone home, and Buck is now with Eddie and Chris in their home, not wanting to be alone in his apartment after the past few days.
His heart feels lighter, even with his family scattered once more. He knows though, that this time - this time they won’t get separated. They won’t let things go awry once more, and they’ll be there for each other. And for Buck, that’s perfectly okay with him.
“I know, buddy. I’m just glad you got to experiment my home with me,” Buck whispers, smiling at Chris before stepping close to Eddie and kissing him, feeling content - truly content, for the first time in a long time.