He looked at his feet on the ground, yes they were still on the ground. With deliberate force, he held them there. A wave of giddiness came over him, and Chris had an acute suspicion it was less for exhaustion and more because of relief. Then just as suddenly he laughed. Short… barkish laugh, and just as soon it was gone and replaced with silence.
Was he losing his mind?
It had been twenty two long years since his *death* by Gideon’s athame. And yet, only moments for Chris himself! Blessed be… damn time dimensions and their damn paradoxes. He didn’t know if he could have handled the *dissolving* act any longer anyway. No wonder Einstein was half whacked. No wonder Nietzsche was totally whacked.
He laughed again.
“Maybe you should sit down.”
After a moment of silence, Wyatt continued although he didn’t need to. Chris now knew what the spell had been about.
“Chris, the son that dad knows… the brother that I know, and love… he’s you. Or you’re him. Either way.”
“The spell… it brought back that part of you which was lost… and merged you together. Just the way it should have been, had you not died.”
//And I am grateful. But I wont tell you that.//
The words had frozen again.
“Look at your clothes Chris… are these the ones you were wearing back in the past?”
For the first time since his ordeal began, Chris looked down at himself. No… no they weren’t. They were… too clean, too hep and… boy he sure had excellent taste in this world.
Leo was observing the same garment and scrunched up his nose.
“Do I want to know where you were tonight?”
Almost automatically, an answer he didn’t know he knew rose to Chris’ lips.
“I was at P3… celebrating with friends.”
The sudden rush of new knowledge… or rather… new memories… was mind-boggling to the boy. His family secretly reveled in the small victory.
It was working… the spell was working.
Chris remembered something he didn’t know he was supposed to remember.
“You pulled me out of my own birthday party. I was just about to kiss this really hot girl.”
Then he remembered something else… vaguely.
“Jazz tonight… Mahogany is playing.”
Leo brightened up. “Hey I love that guy.”
Wyatt rolled his eyes. “Not Kevin Mahogany dad. Jimmy, the son.”
“Oh. He good?”
“Not as good as his old man but very good! Splendid on saxophone.”
“Sounds cool, I should check him out.”
“Yeah you should! You’ll love him.”
“Can we get back to me please?”
Wyatt and Leo turned to gape at Chris… slowly making up their minds as to what they needed to do to keep Chris in the present. *This* present. They needed to behave exactly how they would… as if nothing changed.
“Ever the narcissist Christopher, this world or the next.”
“Don’t tell me you got sibling issues with me in this world too.”
“Look who’s talking!”
“Break it up.”
Leo interrupted and the youngsters quit. Only they didn’t.
“He started it.”
“He started it.”
“Don’t care, just *end* it.”
The boys continued to glare at each other (though Wyatt’s was an act) and Leo shook his head in mock resignation.
“I think we’ve spent enough time bonding for today huh boys? I’d like to get back to the council meeting before they realize I’m missing, you guys okay here?”
“Wait you cant leave me here alone with… with…”
Damn it old memories conflicting with new ones. Not good.
“Chris you don’t have to resent your brother anymore. He is not evil here.”
“How can you be sure that he isn't?”
“Hello, I’m right here!”
“Alright you two!”
The kids quieted again.
“Chris, I *really* do need to go.”
For some reason, the thought of his dad leaving slammed his heart right back into his chest. The gravity of what he’d just been through came back to him full force.
“No dad please don’t go!”
Leo sensed the change (again) in his boy and relented, for the time being. Chris walked back to the couch and this time sat beside Leo.
“Nothing to be sorry about. It’s a lot to take I can understand.”
Mentally Chris still didn’t feel like the Chris of this time. The trauma of his past life and… well, death was simply too prevalent in his fragile mind. His hands shook with the intense-ness of it all, and he barely could contain another bout of insane laughter bubbling up in his throat.
He sighed and massaged his temples, they hurt. Leo tenderly placed his hand on his forehead and soon the pain was gone. Pity the healer could take his pain, but couldn’t give him the peace he yearned for. Chris looked into his father’s eyes…
Leo smiled. He recognized the Chris he’d met and had several arguments with but nevertheless adored all those years ago.
“Welcome home son. And thank *you*, for a better future.”
Chris clung to Leo a long time, suppressing tears. He raised his head to look at Wyatt who still stood composed, attentive… studying him keenly.
Was there a look of admiration, perhaps even gratefulness in his blue eyes?
He knew there was a lingering sense of distrust in his own and Wyatt could actually sense it as well. He was hurt by it, but was willing to give Chris a chance to grow out of it. Chris thought of how Wyatt had saved him and held him so lovingly that he’d actually mistaken him for Leo.
Were they close? Him and Wyatt? In this world? How the heck did that feel?
Tentatively, he smiled at Wyatt. The most powerful wizard in the world gently smiled back. Chris saw his mother… he saw Piper in that face.
This night had been full of shocks and surprises, one after another. Was Chris hoping for another surprise, a pleasant one? Perhaps… and so despite the very nagging feeling at the back of his cerebrum which said he already *knew* the answer he sought, Chris spoke…
“So… where’s mom?”