-----x Previous Timeline: 2026: The World That Once Was… x-----
The young man and his female companion walked through the triquetra portal and arrived in what once used to be the Magic School’s magnificent doorway. It still was, of course, just a lot more dilapidated and… destructed than usual. The Elders had brought in Paige Matthews as headmistress to keep the fires from spreading any closer to where the future of magic was being nurtured. She was struggling but doing a good job overall.
The woman was dressed in a sleek black leather dress that split on one side right up till where her thigh began. She wore her golden hair long and loose and it spun around with her as she did, to check for any unpleasant surprises. The man was lean and scraggy, his brown jacket had seen better days and the blue jeans were torn and faded, so *not* the look of the year. Hadn’t been for over a decade. But he obviously didn’t care, just glanced around longingly… with sad nostalgia. After assuring herself they were alone and relatively safe, the woman turned to her partner.
“Alright we’re here, what now?”
“I don’t know… this is the place Marcus asked me to wait at for him.”
“I still think this is a bad idea.”
The man rolled his eyes at her but only in amusement.
“He is an Elder sweetheart. I would assume he can be trusted given his stature.”
At that, the woman turned to stare into his eyes.
“Your father’s an Elder. You don’t trust *him*.”
The man did not respond. And he wouldn’t have even if they weren’t interrupted.
White orbs shimmered and amassed to make Marcus, the Elder who had summoned them here in secret. They’d taken great care to avoid Wyatt’s spies and mind-probes that were everywhere.
“Christopher. Your father sends his blessings.”
Chris’ expression soured even further. His extremely-busy father never had time for him otherwise because he was too busy cleaning up after his favored firstborn.
“Whatever. What do you want from me?”
From Marcus’s reaction it was clear he had not expected anything more from the kid, he just moved on.
“You know we’ve been trying everything to stop Wyatt and his growing dominion of darkness on earth. But it seems… nothing in this time is powerful enough to defeat him.”
“Don’t I know that? The only ones who could have stopped Wyatt were the Charmed Ones and we all know why *they* aren’t in this time anymore.”
He threw a nasty glare at the timid Elder who in turn knew that Chris, like his brother, never forgave the Elders for not saving Piper’s life. Bianca moved a little closer to her fiancé, sensing his growing distress. Marcus sighed and continued.
“Yes but right now, we need to focus on the situation at hand. We believe you’d be interested in the solution we have in mind.”
“Oh yeah, and why is that?”
“Because it involves the Charmed Ones.”
Bianca and Chris held their breaths while Marcus took a deep nervous one.
“Christopher, you’re the only one who can be trusted enough to do this. We propose you travel back in time and save Wyatt from turning evil.”
Chris frowned, the idea did have potential. Time travel had been done before he knew but it was quite complicated. Still, was it any surprise Leo should come up with a solution that meant no harm would be brought to his oldest son?
He grew suspicious. “Why doesn’t Leo do it himself?”
“Because its probably going to take you awhile to solve the mystery of who’s behind Wyatt’s turning and Leo needs to be here to keep things under as much control as possible. All we know is that it happened sometime *before* you were born.”
Chris started. “But… that’s like… way back? That means…”
Chris did not verbalise further.
“Yes Christopher. We want you to go back twenty two years when your mother was still alive.”
His pulse raced. Chris was willing to do it right away. He needed no more convincing.
“This is great! I could warn mom and dad about… “
Bianca and Chris jumped at the sudden loud exclamation. The Elder stood all strung up with anxiety.
“Chris you must NOT, ever reveal the future to anyone in the past. It might have serious consequences on our present timeline!”
“You have to promise me you will not reveal anything to anyone Christopher, if I do not have your word, I don’t think we could trust you with this critical mission.”
Chris was not as quick to decide as Marcus had hoped. The boy bit his lip and fidgeted. This was such a perfect opportunity to set things right… how could he *not* take it?
“I understand there will be occasions you will have to share some things about yourself but under no circumstances should you ever reveal the whole truth. Believe me, the repercussions could be disastrous!”
Chris understood the rationale but still did not respond. Flashes of memory… of a past life when his mother was alive ran past his eyes until they watered and he couldn’t see the Elder standing before him anymore.
//God how long has it been? Eight years and it still hurts. So much…//
After Piper died, Wyatt went completely berserk and soon unmasked his evil side. The next day itself, he’d taken control of the book and the manor and effectively held Chris captive in his own home. Chris shuddered at the memories of pain and confusion and betrayal he’d felt. The poor boy was traumatized after helplessly witnessing his mother’s gruesome murder and now this… his own brother turned against him.
Not that he was much of a brother to begin with anyway.
But Wyatt hated him so much he did not even let Chris see their dead mother! The fourteen year old didn’t know how to organize a séance by himself. Many months later, Chris had gathered enough of his wits about him to plan and execute his escape and took to the streets, until grandpa Victor found him. Victor wanted to take him away but Chris wouldn’t leave. Even at that young age, the boy knew he couldn’t not do anything to stop Wyatt and his rising dominion of evil.
When Chris turned seventeen, Victor narrowly escaped an attempt on his life. Chris came so close to losing another person he dearly loved… and it almost completely screwed him up.
//Grandpa, didn’t you say Europe was beautiful in the summer?//
Victor quietly rejoiced and made arrangements for them both to leave immediately.
Only, Chris didn’t leave.
For a whole year, Wyatt thought Chris had run away to another continent, and he couldn’t figure who the hell was sabotaging his plans over and over again. When he realized it was Chris all along… he sent Bianca to kill him.
Tremors shook Chris through until Bianca wrapped her arms around his emaciated waist. She was his anchor to the present. With her close, he could do anything.
“Chris we don’t have much time… have you decided?”
“Yes but I don’t see how things could get any worse if I just…”
Marcus was running out of patience. He took two steps closer to Chris and hissed in his ear.
“Don’t you understand? Sending you back in time is our last hope Chris! There is a fine web of time that weaves one event together with another and its extremely delicate. We cannot risk disturbing it beyond what has now become *absolutely* necessary.”
The Elder looked right then left, as if ensuring no one was eavesdropping in the *deserted* doorway.
“I am not supposed to say much. But I believe you deserve to know this. The *end* began when Wyatt turned evil. We can trace all our troubles back to some time within the first two years of Wyatt’s existence. Save Wyatt… and you save the world Chris. You… save… *everyone*…”
Chris’ eyes widened. Was the Elder saying what he thought he was saying?
Marcus stepped back, satisfied.
“You have the Council’s blessings Christopher. Look for the Inverted Hourglass spell in the Book of Shadows and think back to the moment the Titans attacked the Manor. I’m sure you’ll think of what to do next to earn the sisters’ trust.”
Marcus kept backing away. Chris wanted him to stay and tell him more but he wouldn’t.
“Remember Chris,” he said, orbing away.
And he was gone. But his words rang clear in the young man’s ears.
//Save Wyatt… and you save the world Chris. You… save… *everyone*…//
-----x New Timeline: 2026: The New World… x-----
--- PIPER ---
“hear these words, hear my cries “
There it is… the spirit winds are so heavy tonight. He is calling me.
My little boy has had a rough couple of days hasn’t he? And this night is not gonna be easy either, if anything… tonight would probably be the worst. The culmination of his treacherous journey through time and space… life and death and the pitiless hollow in between. This is the series finale to my Chris’ little adventure. Tonight… it ends.
I am going to make sure it *does* damn it!
“spirits from the other side”
Leo sits beside me, holding my hand. He hears the call and his hands clutch mine tighter, looks at me with a beseeching in his eyes.
“What do you intend to tell him?”
I… I don’t know.
What *can* I say? I only have the truth… I only have what my inconsolable fourteen-year-old once so succinctly described as “all that stupid destiny bullshit” and is about to do so again.
Don’t tell me… if I thought that first time around was difficult, I so do not know what’s in store for me tonight right? Well, I am not making the same mistakes again. Grams was right. After Pru died, I would call and call to her so I could see her once more… just one last time. I wanted to talk to her, apologise to her… touch her, hold her, cry in my big sister’s arms all night and probably the rest of the month.
She didn’t come.
She practically raised me and Phoebe, and when I needed her the most… she ignored me.
She was so cruel. And it was for the best, I know that now. It was so *I* could move on… the strength I once drew from Pru, I now needed to find within myself. I needed to accept her passing, get on with my own life.
And so does Chris.
“come to me i summon thee”
Yes. I’m coming Chris.
Coming to deliver very bad news my son. Do not rush so. Because I am not going to say the words you’re so desperate to hear. I am not coming to you in the form you know… the form you could touch and hold, maybe another time my sweet darling. Not tonight.
“The Elders should have told him before he went back.”
Leo sighed. We’ve had this conversation a thousand times before.
“Chris was sent back to prevent Wyatt from turning evil. It was only his *assumption* that in the process he could prevent… other things from happening too.”
“You should have *told* him.”
And now he shakes his head. He knows I hate it when he does that. Ghosts have very limited tolerance for condescending ex-whitelighters, I should know.
“cross now from the great divide.”
Out of time.
This young man who sacrificed his life, his world, his love… every meager thing he once had to save the world… save his older brother. How do you tell him that all he ever asked for in return… was the one thing he could never get to begin with?
Forgive me Chris, forgive me for what I am about to do. Leo would wait for me right here, where its not so heavenly and peaceful anymore. Tonight, no where is. And wont be until my baby stops hurting inside.
-----x PIPER POV Ends x-----
If his heart could beat any faster, it would explode. Chris knew that, his mouth slightly open as he breathed through in big gasps as if he’d run a marathon. And then the spell was spoken. He waited.
Cool breeze blew in from the open windows sending curtains aflutter. The wind chimes Phoebe loved so much rang out and candles flickered… all that special effect stuff. Chris concentrated on the spot between the four squarely placed candles. Any… any moment now…
A glowing silhouette appeared, illuminating the cold dark attic… standing in perfect ghostly composure facing her summoner. The winds dropped almost of a sudden and chimes fell silenced. As did everything else.
That voice, that sorta cynical, always questioning timbre… and the eerie echoing in the background he didn’t remember hearing before.
Chris’s hands were glued to the book, his feet to the spot by the book and his rapidly beating heart had now stopped. He thought back to the yesterday he vaguely remembered happening sometime yesterday but he wasn’t so sure anymore. He remembered a heavily pregnant Piper hugging him, bidding him goodbye.
//Thank you for coming here.//
//I love you.//
And he looked at the shadow before him. Serene, calm, right eye brow hiked up as usual… all hunky dory really.
He swallowed. Willed his mouth open, forced the only word he could think of out.
“Welcome home son.”
Chris moved, and went closer to where his dead mom stood. He wanted to touch her, hold her, cry in her arms for the rest of the night… at least. But as he came nearer he noticed she wasn’t in the solid form he *knew* she could assume.
“Why aren’t you…”
“Not tonight Chris.”
Chris was hurt, he was hurting so much. He halted mid-step, crossed his arms and gripped himself tightly. Panic and paranoia set in.
“You’re angry with me I know. I’m so… so sorry mom, I thought… I thought you wouldn’t be dead when I got back…”
Piper only smiled.
“Why would I be angry with you darling? I am very proud of you.”
//Proud of me?? Why??//
And still she sounded so… unaffected? Didn’t she realize what had happened? What he was going through? Tears threatened but he angrily gulped them away.
“Things are not supposed to be like this anymore. You’re supposed to be alive and aunts Paige and Phoebe are supposed to be here in the manor with their families and...”
“And lemme guess, Wyatt is supposed to be evil, right?”
Chris faltered, utterly rebuked.
“N-No… of course not.”
Piper sighed dramatically, she still wasn’t too bothered.
“My darling, you *did* change the future. Stop thinking that you failed because you didn’t! Look around you, look at this manor your home… where were you living the last time you were in 2026 huh?”
Chris sniffed, not liking his mother’s indifference to his agony.
“Sure I remember, in an abandoned Corvette downtown parked by a dumpster.”
For less than a moment, Chris thought he saw Piper’s face melt, only it didn’t. She simply shrugged and threw him a lopsided smile.
“Hence proved! Wyatt: Not evil. World: Not going to the dogs. On the contrary we’re in excellent state of affairs right now with the Power of the Progenies executing their responsibilities brilliantly. That’s you and your brother Chris.”
Chris was still reeling from her coldness.
“But… what about you?”
Piper kept her expression neutral. Bored.
“I was not part of the deal and you know that.”
Chris shook his head in disagreement.
“The Elders… they said if I could save Wyatt then…”
“They said no such thing, it was you who made false assumptions. Some things are meant to happen Chris. No matter what you do, you cant change them.”
Deathly silence, broken only by Chris’ ragged breathing. Piper shook her head appraisingly.
“Chris we’ve had this conversation before. I really wish you’d stop suppressing your memories. You know I could conserve a lot of energy if you’d just recall everything and I don’t have to repeat myself!”
The boy flinched.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you *mother*. Guess I’m still feeling betrayed by the fucking powers that be. *Again*. And the fact that… you are still…”
Piper flicked her hair back.
“Dead! I know! Been so for eight years now thank you very much. And do you hear *me* complaining?”
Chris looked away, biting his trembling lower lip, a tear threatening to roll down his cheek. Then he heard her snort.
“Oh no, you’re not whining your way out of this one son.”
And the sob escaped.
“That is *all* you’ve done ever since you got back! You should be thanking your brother Wyatt but all you do is attack him. You should be greeting your father with respect and all you do is question who his favorite son is in this world!”
Chris was dumbstruck, indignant.
“That’s not true. I was just… I just…”
The tear did fall and Chris wiped it off urgently. He couldn’t understand why Piper was being so cruel but decided to put up a brave defensive.
“I just want you alive damnit! Is that too much to ask to have a mother who’s not DEAD??”
Piper folded her arms and shook her head in exasperation.
“And how many times do I have to tell you some things are meant to be Chris! You cannot change them no matter how many times you travel back in time. Piper Halliwell was supposed to die when she did, in every world!”
“WHY? WHY DAMN YOU?”
Chris screamed, he lashed out at the book and sent it flying across the floor. The little attic reverberated with his anguish.
Piper just stared, and waited… for him to calm down. When she spoke next, she was somber and the ghostly echo much more pronounced. It sent shivers crawling up the boy’s spine.
“Chris you need to accept my passing and move on with your life. Its for the best, believe me.”
“I don’t. I cant…”
Piper’s expression turned to stone. She did not react. The silence stretched an eternity while Chris struggled to get his breathing under control.
“It… it was my fault. I should have been strong enough to protect you and I wasn’t. And the one person who was strong enough… wasn’t around. And he should have! If he wasn’t evil… he should have been there when...”
Piper interrupted his ramblings without heart.
“Do you know what would have happened if Wyatt had been there that night?”
Chris crossed himself tightly and looked up at the ghost of his mother with… dread. And Piper broke it to him as gently as possible.
“I’d still be dead Chris.”
//What? No… //
“No. That’s not true.”
“It is. Wyatt couldn’t have saved me either. And if he’d been there, seeing me die would have broken him! His powers would have spiraled out of control Chris. He would have destroyed the manor with his wrath and his pain!”
The boy was shocked. He shook his head in denial, vehemently.
“No I’m NOT! Listen to me!”
Piper’s own shroud of composure seemed to be cracking.
“If the manor falls, the nexus is left unprotected, exposed to all kinds of evil monsters just *waiting* to feed from its power! All hell would break loose if that ever happened Chris don’t you ever forget that.”
“I’m so… sorry you had to see me die. But try and understand Chris, it had to be you because you’re stronger than Wyatt.”
Chris stifled a whimper and laughed. Like a madman.
//Oh God. Why is she doing this to me?//
He looked at her with undisguised distrust. Piper was slowly but firmly stripping all his walls down… all his guards that he’d been hiding behind and under. How could this be? How could he have done *nothing* wrong?
“You know you cant fool me with this act of yours mom. I know you love me, I know you could never not care!”
Piper did not respond, nor did she deny him. He nodded unconsciously to himself and moved closer to her periphery of candles.
“You’re just saying all this so I’d stop being this deranged resident *schizo* and leave everyone the hell alone.”
Piper rolled her eyes, but he went on.
“Guess what mom, in this other life of mine? Being paranoid was what kept me *alive*! How can you expect me to forget what that bastard did to me? To my best friends, the only friends I ever had? And to Bianca? I CANT FUCKING FORGET DAMN IT!!”
Piper waited for him to say more and he did, but this time he wasn’t screaming.
He lowered his head, hiding his weeping eyes from Piper.
“After you died, my world fell apart. Everyone went berserk. Leo, Wyatt, Phoebe, Paige… together they trashed the Underworld, killed everything that so much as moved! They became different people and I didn’t recognize them anymore! I… probably would have done the same… don’t know.”
Piper hadn’t known about his previous life in so much detail, she was slowly approaching shock at what Chris had endeavored.
“Wyatt put me under house arrest. He didn’t even let me attend your funeral.”
Piper was taken aback.
Chris nodded absently.
“Wyatt locked me up in my room, said I’d be less trouble there. Food and water would just… appear out of nowhere. At least he didn’t want me starving to death. But for days, no one came to see me, or ask how I was doing. They were… they were all too busy… avenging your death.”
Chris sniffed, his memories sharp and painful.
“Then… the aunts left. Dad… I kept calling to him, hoping he’d come get me but he didn’t. I found out much later Wyatt had blocked me out so Dad could never hear me call at all!”
Piper softly gasped.
“My brother… he hated me! For… the same reasons I hated myself. I, I l-let you die mom.”
“Chris that’s not true!”
“Eight years I believed it was! For eight years, I blamed myself. Eight years, Wyatt blamed me and hated me and *punished* me because he believed it was true! For eight long years, I have wished for *nothing* but some way to fix it! For you to be *not dead*! Why is that too much to ask mom?”
Piper winced, swallowing her own tears of rage and shock.
“Chris, I… I didn’t know, I’m sorry.”
Chris shook his head slowly, from side to side.
“I would have done what the Elders asked in any case. Why did he lie to me mom? Why did Marcus give me false hope that… I could fix this?”
His knees refused to support him and the boy crumpled to the floor, his legs folded beneath him. He held himself by the middle and bent forward towards the floor as if to stem the life-draining agony in his heart. Tears flowed unabated, from his eyes and his voice. His wheezing breaths.
Piper Halliwell had been dead eight years. Her soul now resided in the higher dimensions that humans called Heaven. But if you ask the soul, she wouldn’t be much inclined to call it heaven at all. How could it be? When the bonds of human relations and love and maternity still tied her to the mortal plane? How could she rest in peace when she could feel her children’s pain and suffering so acutely in her undead heart?
She wished she could blow up the Marcus from Chris’ old world to pieces and over again. Fists bunched by her sides in sheer torturous resolve not to run to the grieving boy and take him in her arms. The winds grew stronger with every tremble she clamped down on and chimes cried in her stead.
“Chris… darling look at me…”
Chris quietly wept where he sat on the floor, and did not look up. The confession had taken every last ounce of energy he had.
“Forget Marcus… look at me baby… look at me.”
Piper kneeled before the boy, and held him by his shoulders. She could touch him, he couldn’t.
Chris looked up, bravely bit his lip to stop himself from crying.
“Everyone has a destiny Chris. Mine was to be a Charmed One… and I lived it to the fullest. I have no regrets. None.”
There was spiritual conviction in her eyes, and Chris felt subtly at peace to see that.
“The Power of Three had its time. But nothing can last forever baby you know that. We had to give way… to something bigger and stronger… the Power of the Progenies. It was meant to be.”
“Don’t you think you deserved better? That aunt Phoebe deserved better than to have to flee the country and swear never to set foot in the house she grew up in? And what about aunt Paige mom? Did… did she * deserve* to lose her mind? Her sanity… her love?”
Chris was losing it again. Piper made to run an wraithlike hand through his hair but Chris unconsciously shied away. He couldn’t explain himself why he did so.
“God how do I explain this to you. Things… all things good and bad, happen for a reason. And the reason may not be obvious to you right now but you need to put your trust in the universe my darling. There is a purpose greater than you and me, than all of us. And we all must live *and* die for it.”
The boy shook his head.
“Its not fair.”
He refused to be convinced. Piper could see that.
“Phoebe will be pregnant next month.”
Piper tried touching his hair again, he did not back away this time.
“Forty years from now, Phoebe Halliwell’s third daughter Melinda Stanford will become the first President of the Nation of Earth United. She will be crucial to the planet and its well-being Chris, and she couldn’t *possibly* be born if Phoebe were still a practicing witch. Wanna know why?”
Chris just… held his breath.
Piper added softly, “Because she wouldn’t have lived long enough, if she’d stayed here in Frisco.”
And he let go.
“Melinda will be helped in her cause by three magical prodigies your aunt Paige will be mentoring in her Magic School. Without Paige, the future of magic is as good as forsaken. Paige will be a wonderful Elder, Chris. She is going to be *worshipped* by witches everywhere.”
Chris just… gaped at her. She chuckled softly.
“No exaggerating. Really. Don’t look at me like that, if you bothered to drudge up your new world memories, you’ll remember we’ve had this conversation before you know.”
The pain in Chris’ heart did not fully subside. But somehow it became easier to… to breathe? He swiped at another stray tear now trickling down his neck.
“And you…? What about you?”
Winds dropped ever so slightly, the chimes still rang, albeit softly. Piper’s pale white dress shimmered about her.
“Me… I get to be with my Grams! And *your* Grams, and Pru… life goes on Chris. In one dimension or another… you’re never really dead you know. Pru needed my help in one of the other worlds when I joined her. There’s enough action to keep me busy you know.”
The pseudo-cheery tone had returned in her voice. Chris graced her efforts with a sad smile.
He straightened up a bit.
//Don’t you miss us? Don’t you want to be with your children?//
Chris longed to accuse her of not caring, but he couldn’t do that. Instead, he looked away and tried to stem his tears. This was getting embarrassing.
“I do miss you, both of you…”
Chris looked up at her, and looked away.
“I wish I could be there for you, whenever you need me. But then I see Wyatt doing such a good job of brother, father *and* mother to you…”
Piper smiled ever so proudly.
“and I know I can relax, somewhat.”
Chris almost pouted, got up and turned his back to her. Piper stood up slowly and kept her distance. Her boy stood rigid and quivering, there was simply too much to process and he wasn’t thinking straight enough. Now that his mother had revealed how her death had been pre-destined, he couldn’t even blame himself *or* Wyatt anymore. He’d managed to save this world, Wyatt was not evil. The manor was still his home…
Chris sniffed, he didn’t know what to say. The feeling of helplessness that had plagued him ever since he’d come to this world was still there.
Muted, but still there.
“Stop fighting your brother, you have no reason to be afraid of him anymore.”
Now he knew what to say.
“Did you know he’s still got a bunch of assassin witches working for him?”
“He is converting them over to our side. Leo asked him to.”
Chris felt like a fool. But he pressed on anyway.
“They’re assassins for God’s sake! And he can kill people just by blinking at them! Doesn’t anyone else see how dangerous he can be to everyone?”
Piper’s demeanour immediately turned to ice again.
“You are scared.”
Chris went stiff at that.
“Yes I am.”
Piper sighed, closed her eyes for a bit and Chris threw his hands up in the air.
“I just… mom its just…”
“Too good to be true?”
Chris bit his lip. That was the perfect summarization of what he felt, yes.
“Its true my darling. Its what you went back for. This world is your gift to us! We have you to thank for everything my son. And that’s why I am so so proud of you!”
Chris managed to smile and lowered his head. Piper put a finger below his chin and made him look up at her.
“That old world of yours was a humongous aberration. A cosmic mistake that you were born to correct! You helped create this beautiful world and you were destined to do so Chris.”
“Guess my work is done then. What do I have left to live for?”
Piper’s heart broke. In that instant her form materialized and she hurriedly pulled Chris into her arms. Chris took a moment to get over his surprise and hugged her back fervently.
“My sweet baby… I love you so much.”
Rush of relief, and peace and tears.
“I love you too mom.”
A long while later, Piper pried herself away from him and looked into his eyes.
“Chris… you’re holding *yourself* under house arrest this time son. You need to find the courage to unlock your new memories. And you need to do it soon, before its too late.”
Chris frowned at that.
“Too late for what?”
“Everyone has a role to play in the grand scheme of things. And yours hasn’t ended yet. Actually, it may have *just* begun. You cant keep running any more Chris.”
“Your Destiny still awaits.”
Breathing became an ordeal again, soon as he realized Piper was about to leave.
“Wait… don’t go please.”
“I have answered all your questions Chris. There is nothing more I can do for you. Let me go son.”
Chris trembled and his eyes watered.
//Just like that?//
With that, the luminous form of the Charmed one slowly faded away while Chris could do nothing but watch. The winds stirred strongly and windows flew open… then shut close. The four candles blew out, throwing the Halliwell attic into perfect darkness.
And Chris knew he was alone.