Wyatt was on the phone with Lindsey, ex-girlfriend from three years ago, and Dr Rydill’s personal secretary since like… ever. After Piper’s death, Chris needed to see the good doctor regularly for about a year. That is when Wyatt had met Lindsey and experienced his first true love. Piper crossed over just once right after her funeral to see the boys… to console them and encourage them to carry on. Then she had cruelly disappeared for a long time, some dumb-assed logic about how seeing her and speaking to her was keeping her alive for the boys and making it harder for them to move on with their destinies. Who came up with these stupid logics anyway?
Well move on the boys did, eventually. The counseling gradually but steadily began to help Chris with his misplaced feelings of guilt. The doctor had been one of the many people saved by one of Phoebe’s premonitions and was quite savvy to the freakish world the Halliwells lived in. Lindsey however, wasn’t.
They’d broken up, Wyatt and her… but were still friends and kept in touch. Lindsey would call frequently to inquire how Chris was doing even though Chris hadn’t needed to see the good doctor for over three years now. Although the regular sessions had ended soon after that first traumatic year, now and again something would happen to make him regress… make the nightmares come back and they would have to call Lindsey again.
Chris would stop eating, stop sleeping and find excuses to stay off Wyatt’s and Leo’s radar so they wouldn’t know. With their busy lives, obviously it wasn’t possible to keep constant tabs on each other all the time. It would take a public bout of hypoglycemia or a phone call from Phoebe to figure something was wrong… again. Then Wyatt would have an attack of his own. He would kick and curse himself for the next two months for not paying enough attention… and then he’d fret and fuss all over his little brother round the clock until Chris would just…*Scream*.
“I don’t understand…. what happened to bring this about?”
Wyatt bit his lip. God knows he had loved this woman all those years ago. But Lindsey could stand his secretiveness and constant hiding only so long. The truth, or rather the lack of it had finally driven them apart. And though they remained good friends, Lindsey did not expect him to suddenly start pouring his heart out to her.
“I… I don’t know. Must have been something I said, or did.”
Wyatt sounded so worried and self-recriminating on the phone, Lindsey wanted to come over right away. He told her not to.
“Okay if you say so, when do you wanna bring him in?”
Wyatt scrunched his face up again, the exhaustion finally catching up with him. He hadn’t slept for three nights now.
“Uhh, I… will let you know Lindsey. First, I gotta go *find* him.”
“What? He ran away from home? Wyatt this sounds way too serious than ever before. I think you should…”
“Lindsey yeah, listen. I will call and let you know when to book an appointment okay. I gotta go…”
“gotta go… bye!”
Wyatt hung up and heaved a big sigh. He hated lying to her but this was so not the time to explain to her the Halliwell genealogy. While he waited for Phoebe to call for him… he contacted two oracles, one reformed seer and an ex-Elder in hiding to find something to restore Chris’ powers. Then he tried a couple of concoctions improvising on their suggestions and classic strength potions and such. He was still cooking when Paige orbed into the kitchen.
He wiped off his hands and ran to where she appeared, very surprised to see her. But then he shouldn’t have been, Chris always called for Paige to side up with him against big brother to get his way. Be it to buy a new car, or to be allowed to live away from the manor…
She looked disoriented, shaken.
“Are you okay? Where’s aunt Phoebe?”
And for the first time in eight years that Wyatt remembered so very vividly, Paige opened her arms to him. He couldn’t believe his eyes but wasted no time before holding the woman to himself. Phoebe having vowed never to step foot in the manor again, had asked to be orbed back to Hong Kong. Paige had traveled back but couldn’t return to Magic School yet. A very bad feeling brewed at the pit of her stomach.
“I didn’t know what to do… he’s fighting so hard!”
Wyatt replied with silence. Paige pulled back, reason returning to the fore.
“You’ve got to get him back to the manor. Maybe the new memories of this place will be too strong to deny and he will *have* to accept them.”
“Okay, that’s a plan. How?”
“Use the summoning spell. And then don’t let him leave!”
Wyatt closed his eyes, and began to pace. He loved to pace, it helped him think.
“I don’t wanna do that aunt Paige. He… he thinks I robbed him of his powers, that I am evil! Forcing him to do anything would just… make things worse.”
“So what, you’re just gonna wait till he gets hungry and runs out of garbage cans to pick from?”
He scowled at her and she scowled back.
“No… I was hoping he’d come back to, wanna talk to mom…”
It was Paige’s turn to look hassled and pace.
“Yeah… *that* could take awhile. He is not ready. He thinks he’s failed her again…”
Wyatt literally heard his heart shatter. He wasn’t sure he’d done right by his little brother anymore. But then he couldn’t have let him be stuck in limbo for the rest of eternity either.
“Do anything Wyatt. With his powers gone… the Second Progeny is too vulnerable to be on the streets alone!”
The deep foreboding Wyatt had felt all morning returned with ferocity.
“You think I don’t know that… but aunt Paige I just want him to start trusting me again and if…”
Wyatt couldn’t complete. Suddenly his ears reverberated with a desperate call on the spirit winds. What he’d feared the most had now come to pass. His fists clenched and his jaw set with cold rage.
“Wyatt what is it….?”
No time to explain. The wizard orbed out gracefully, leaving Paige to stare after him.
Chris stalked out into the sun-less winter morning, leaving his two aunts calling after him in the back-office of P3. They wouldn’t understand, they wouldn’t help him bring mom back. Well fine, he would find another way to accomplish what he’d set his heart out to do. Stubborn as it was.
He was about five blocks away, sticking to the back alleys where no one he knew would run into him. Lost in thought, it took awhile before he heard the soft fall of rapid footsteps behind him, steadily closing in. Alarm bells went off in his head and he spun around in a hurry only to ram straight into the oncoming figure in the shadows of the dark alley.
A full-body collision followed and Chris saw stars lighting up behind his eyelids as his temples throbbed with the impact. He opened his eyes just in time to see the other person had not been affected whatsoever, and that the other person was a woman.
A stronger, older… beautiful woman.
Chris couldn’t believe his eyes. The assassin witch suddenly lunged at him pulling him back towards herself and behind the dumpster. The couple fell with a loud thump to the ground, Chris landing on top but feeling no advantage. This woman always managed to unnerve him. This woman he’d loved with all his heart… who’d betrayed him only to save him… who’d died for him. He looked down at her hands, no ring and somehow, he was relieved. Where did her loyalties lie in this world? And did he really care?
// Maybe. Maybe not. //
Chris was relieved at least she lived. But then… she was still an assassin witch wasn’t she?
“What are you doing…”
Bianca clasped her hand over his mouth to silence him. With another she gripped him hard on his side… preventing him from putting any distance between his body and hers. She gripped the flesh right under his armpit and Chris would have yelped if she hadn’t already been covering his mouth and it occurred to him if this was an attempt on his life… Bianca wasn’t really making an effort at all. Then he noticed her eyes… those big black eyes rimmed with blacker kohl and blacker shadow… menacing mesmerizing eyes. It was with her eyes that she discreetly signaled him to look over his shoulder.
Great. More assassin witches.
Three males dressed in black leather from head to toe and holding nasty athames in their grip descended on the duo. Chris felt rage building up inside him… the rage of betrayal… again, and he pushed away from her, rising to his feet, ready for offense.
“Thought you always worked *alone*.”
He didn’t look at the witch as he taunted her, transfixed at the threat closing in. The woman wasn’t looking at Chris either.
“I still do.”
Chris looked at her with a frown, and noticed she was in position just as he was… facing the three men as they now stood not four feet away. Bianca stood beside him.
Of the three assailants, the one in the middle was the obvious leader. He stared Bianca down with lascivicious disgust in his eyes.
“Traitor…” he hissed.
Chris hoped his surprise was not too evident.
“Asshole.” The woman retorted.
And the men attacked. The couple fought back, Bianca taking on one and then another one before he could get to Chris. The leader headed for the prized bounty, going straight away for the kill. He threw an energy ball which Chris ducked, then veered out of the way of his other blows. But when there was no way to avoid the sharp double-edged blade, the pacifist in him shut up and he charged back. Grabbing the wrist that wielded the knife, Chris let out a war cry which propelled his exhausted body into action. He twisted the assailant’s arm turning him around and stabbed his knee into the assassin’s back. The latter cried out in agony and Chris twisted his arm all that more until the fist opened and the athame fell to the ground. The assassin managed to direct an energy ball at Chris that hit the boy in his middle, tearing through his abdomen. Chris cried out in pain and let go. The assassin turned around and punched Chris right in his chest and the thrust sent him flying across the alley to hit the wall behind.
Bianca screamed but was too occupied with the other two assassins to be able to help Chris. Balls of fire flew back and forth and there was only so much she could do without getting hit herself. The boy got up just as his attacker lunged at him with the athame again. He barely swerved out of the way and the knife slashed deep through his right shoulder. Chris let out a loud hiss and swung at the man with all his strength. The assassins were not taking any hostages.
The fights went on like that for a few minutes that seemed to stretch an eternity. Bianca killed one assassin and just when she thought she’d had the other one as well, she was distracted by a rustle from her left. Chris was alerted by the noise at the same time and to their horror realized four more assassin witches were heading towards them. Bianca sank her fatal fist into the second witch’s chest ripping his powers out until he crumbled to ashes. Then she shimmered out of the way of another witch and headed towards Chris who still battled with the leader.
She knew his name. The assassin was distracted and Chris kicked out at his outstretched hand that held the athame. He lost his grip and Chris lunged for the weapon just as Barker came after him again. While Chris was on the ground trying to grab the athame, Barker kicked into his already assaulted middle knocking him three feet up into the air and into dizzyingly high throes of pain. Bianca got intercepted before she could reach him and the blow she threw at Barker he easily ducked.
Then Barker came at the boy again. Chris was on his hands and knees, struggling to stand. He was drained and his open wounds were bleeding him dry. He could barely speak, he could barely breathe.
“I will rip your heart out for what your brother did to me!”
Barker reached for the injured boy and was about to grab his neck to snap it in two… but he wasn’t fast enough. Chris stabbed him in the chest, through his black heart. With his own cursed athame.
“Now that’s just unfair don’t you think?”
Barker’s dust did not respond. Chris sank to the floor once again. He could see Bianca struggling with the three remaining assassins still, keeping them engaged all at once so none of them could touch Chris. He knew she would soon need help. But God he had no energy left… the pain was too much to bear and Chris fought to stay conscious. Knocked out, he was as good as dead. He tried orbing, it didn’t work.
// Oh God. This is it. //
Vaguely he heard Bianca screaming his brother’s name. Now why was she doing that? As far as he was concerned, the assassins could have just as easily been sent by his evil-brother himself. What good would calling him do? He was only going to… to make it quicker… but given the pain he was in right now…
// Quick is good. Oh yeah. //
Bianca screamed again.
“Call for Wyatt!”
Two assassins were still left. Two energy balls hit Bianca simultaneously, one at her left thigh and another to her right shoulder. She fell to the ground, out of commission long enough for one of the assassins to head towards Chris. The boy did not realize the oncoming threat as he writhed in pain on the ground himself.
Bianca threw a vanquishing blow at the guy she knew was Barker’s right hand Terence. The man blew up – only to reassemble again and by now Chris had started backing up, crawling away. A crushing blow to the back of her head sent Bianca unconscious, and the two assassins suddenly realized they had reached a turning point in their lives.
A shrill, ugly hiss. “Well, well… The Second Progeny himself.”
Cruel laughter, and approaching footsteps now closer. Chris was losing sense of what was going on anymore, his limbs slowly going numb. He was dying again.
// Damn it I should have known it couldn’t last. //
“Kill him, before his brother comes!”
The other only laughed.
“No one is coming for him anymore…”
Chris closed his eyes, very much inclined to agree.
“The Power of the Progenies is dead…”
// Er, What? //
“Oh yeah… and by killing you we make sure it *stays* dead!”
And that self-congratulatory chuckle again. A ball of flames appeared in the hands of the one called Terence. Chris panicked. He needed time to think of how to get out of this, he needed to stall.
“How… how did you know?”
// where to find me? //
And the assassin smiled. “You mean beside Mr. Brian Popple giving us the lowdown on your activities on a daily basis?”
// Congratulations. Looks like big brother finally cut you loose. //
// Shit. //
“Cant you just feel it in the air witch? The perfect imbalance? All of underworld is buzzing with excitement thanks to you!”
Chris’ expression must have given away his confusion. The assassins laughs mirthlessly, totally enjoying their position of control.
“Fallout of the Charmed brothers… this has been the moment every dark-worlder has waited for, for eight years! And this moment of eternal glory… is Ours!!”
The assassins mighty pleased with themselves, both generated flowers of flames in their hands. Shiny, beautiful flames…
// Oh. Shit. //
Things fell into place as memories of a new life, a new destiny invaded his tortured mind… the destiny of the Charmed Progenies now symbolized by the triquetra symbol on the Book of Shadows… the showdown with Wyatt must have inadvertently wrecked the magic and tipped the scales off in evil’s favor!
The stubborn will to live… to survive, that did not abandon him even after he was practically dead… now returned full force. He was not giving in. With the last ounce of breath he could muster, Chris opened his mouth.
// Wyatt //
The one called Terence drew his hand to let go of the projectile in his hands. And then the ball of fire was sailing through the air… almost as if in slow motion… towards Chris. The boy decided he was not going to close his eyes. He would look his death in the eye, scared as he may be. As it turned out, he had to do no such thing.
The ball disappeared mid-way, inches away from Chris’s bruised face. The energy plucked straight out of air and Chris saw it disappear into an outstretched palm. That belonged to Wyatt.
The assassins obviously knew who it was that had crashed their private party.
“You guys talk too much you know.”
There was mirth, and there was sheer incomprehensible fury in the voice that belonged to the First Progeny.
The assassins trembled with hesitation. And the one called Herbert shimmered away before his partner could stop him.
He called out, a second too late. But Terence was not about to run away in cowardice, instead he chose to die in stupidity.
“My death will be avenged.” He muttered with angry conviction.
“I will look forward to it.”
Terence turned his blows at Wyatt. The older Halliwell simply blinked and reduced the witch to a pile of ash within seconds.
Chris who’d propped himself on the uninjured elbow watching everything finally let go and he fell back on the ground. His breath was shallow and his heart pulsated rapidly. Bianca slowly got up, rubbing the bump on her head where she’d been hit. And Wyatt… checked the perimeter to see if there were any more assassins lurking about. Finding none, he ran towards Chris.
Chris did not answer, just stared at his big brother and the obvious concern clouding his eyes. Wyatt went to his side and gently picked his head up, supporting his neck on his arm.
“Chris? Talk to me kid.”
Chris managed to slightly nod. Wyatt looked up at where Bianca now stood looking around.
“Are you alright?” he asked the woman.
“I’m fine. But they’ll be back any time.”
“We’re outta here.”
Wyatt slipped one arm under Chris’ folded knees, another around his waist and gently gathered Chris to himself. He was very mindful of the boy’s injuries and cursed under his breath, something about only getting to blow up one of the assassins. He stood up with Chris in his arms as the younger boy lay exhausted and suffering, his head resting limp on Wyatt’s chest. He didn’t need to pick him up to orb him, he just did so to touch the boy and ensure himself that he was here… still here with him.
“Shh… I know, I’m sorry.” Wyatt whispered while at the same time he orbed. A second later, he was standing in the manor’s hall.
“We’re home kid.”
Paige came running towards them.
“Oh my God what happened?”
Wyatt placed Chris’ limp form on the couch and crouched before him to heal the injured boy. Chris moaned softly, he would have writhed if Wyatt wasn’t holding him still. The assassins’ weapons are always cursed with dark magic and no ordinary whitelighter could have been able to heal its inflicted wounds. Wyatt was no ordinary whitelighter of course, but the healing would still take some time.
“Almost there baby, hold on… hold on.”
Paige crouched beside Wyatt and stroked Chris’ brow with gentle fingers, trying to soothe his pain if at all it were possible.
“You’ll be fine Chris… you’re doing just fine…”
Chris believed her. He could feel the pain slowly dissipating although it still stung like hell. God his guts couldn’t possibly withstand being torn apart twice in the same day! Some minutes later, his senses seem to kick back in gear, and he could feel his shoulder again. It didn’t seem to be hanging by a delicate tendon anymore. The ribcage seemed to be not broken anymore, though breathing was still painful. And he could feel the plush hand on his arm, massaging it gently… Wyatt’s hand… as if trying to transfer some of his strength magically to his little brother. Chris felt extremely exhausted and wanted nothing more than to slip into unconsciousness. Shouldn’t be a problem now… Wyatt would watch over him… wont he?
// Power of the Progenies… Wyatt and Chris Halliwell… //
// Fallout of the Charmed brothers… //
// the moment every dark-worlder has waited for, for eight years… //
// Oh God… //
He whispered, painfully… not intending to at all. Wyatt just barely heard it, a rush of warmth filling his heart… a warmth called hope.
“You called for me…”
Chris smiled, or at least tried to. Wyatt smiled ever so gently and bent to kiss his forehead. He rested his forehead against his brother’s for a long time… the relief and the realization of what almost happened sinking in now that Chris was as healed as he could possibly be by magic. Some regeneration would just have to happen by itself.
“Stop giving me scares will you?” he whispered urgently.
Chris did smile at that.
“Stop saving me… I’m not, I don’t…”
Wyatt was extremely upset at what Chris was about to suggest. He picked him up again and hugged him close to himself. Paige stood on the side, watching the brothers’ reunion, so to speak.
Wyatt pushed the stray hair from Chris’ face to meet his eyes, assuring his brother with the faith that shone in his own blue eyes.
“We’ll get through this… together I promise. Like we did before, okay?”
Chris didn’t… couldn’t answer.
“I love you so much Chris. And I am not losing any more family anymore. You hear me?”
Chris mutely nodded, his fatigue taking over.
// Not losing any family anymore… //
Wyatt missed mom as much as he did. Wyatt wanted mom back as much as he wanted. Wyatt was the most powerful being to have ever existed in any dimension.
// Why would you not bring her back? //
// Why would you do nothing to fix this? //
Chris surrendered to his brother’s strong embrace, and fell asleep.