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JM: Young tilted head closeup

cyndrarae

Rebelling against Reality since 2003

v14.0


JM: Young tilted head closeup
cyndrarae

Charmed: Destiny Still Awaits - Chapter 10



Previous Chapter

Chapter 10


Leo paced the length of the attic, seemed like walking back and forth was the only thing he'd been doing these past few hours.

He’d gotten back just when he saw Chris running down from the attic. In his panic, the boy hadn’t even noticed his father and just ran out. Before Leo could think, Wyatt came right behind him shouting for Chris to stop. Expectedly, Chris didn’t.
“Damn it Chris!”
Leo intercepted the pursuer before he too could leave the manor.
“Wyatt wait.”
“Dad?”
“Let him go for now son.”
“But dad…”
Leo had not offered an explanation. Wyatt had grimaced and cursed and upended the dining table. He did not argue, but he wasn’t happy at all.

*-*-*

Chris ran, then when he got breathless he walked… and finally when he couldn't take another step, he collapsed onto the sidewalk. In his haste, he didn't get a jacket and it was freezing. He looked around himself… an isolated junkyard area of the city with not a soul in sight. No street lights either. From what little he registered of the scenery as he ran past… the city did not *seem* overrun with warlocks and darklighters. Evil did not *seem* to be on an unstoppable rampage – not above ground anyway. A new future this… maybe even a better one.
//Wasn’t this a change? A good change?//

Onset of winter… temperatures dipping and any day now it would snow. The holiday season was round the corner as well… he wondered if people were brazen enough to celebrate Christmas round here. He wondered where he could go to escape the biting cold. Trying desperately to catch his breath and at the same time wishing the icy wind would not go into his mouth and nose, he dragged himself up and started towards a tiny flicker of light glowing at a distance.

Chris was trying valiantly hard to not think. Thinking just led to remembering things he wished he could forget and remembering led to the irrepressible urge to howl which just made his throat hurt all that more. Not good.
And if he did *seriously* start thinking about the conversations he'd had with Wyatt this night… he would have to take a closer look at all of the feelings, thoughts and guilts he'd buried deep within himself all those years ago.

No…
He wasn't ready for that. All Chris knew was that Piper was dead. And Wyatt was teetering on the edge of good, just waiting for the next gush of wind to throw him into the pits of evil and then it would all be back to square *hell*.
For all he knew, Wyatt might even be *wishing* for a release like that.
//You don't really think that.//
//Don't I?//

Chris was angry… so angry at his so-full-of-it-ridiculously-powerful brother who thought he knew everything there was to know about anything! Fuck him! What did he know?
//He knew about your guilt.//
//He’s wrong.//
//Is he?//

Although Chris did *grudgingly* admit to himself that he’d totally got the two versions of Wyatt scrambled up in his head. Like most everything else. The concept of life and death, family and foe… good and evil. Everything was just a big fat yucky throw-uppy mushroom mélange.
The boy shivered.

//You brought the hell that was your world right back to this one… locked inside your own damn head.//
//Way to go Christopher.//

Chris closed his eyes just for a moment as if to shake loose the voices and the images. And in that single serene second the sidewalk ended. Chris lost his balance and would have fallen flat on his face but got his knees and hands in the way first. The good leather scratched and his knees were badly scraped, and his appendages did not fare so well either. At least he wasn't knocked flat out with a concussion.
//Damn it.//
He could have *really* used a concussion right about now.

Eventually he reached the small fire that a couple of homeless people were huddled around. He hesitated as did the other two men. The boy was dressed in clean and fashionable clothes. No jacket though… and he was obviously freezing. Without a word, as if one look at the boy's face had revealed his sad destiny… the men moved to make place for Chris. Chris sank to his knees before the fire, feeling no greater necessity than to merely get warm. After a long debate amongst each other, the men passed him something in a dirty brown paper bag – a bottle of cheap liquor…
Chris wondered how far he could possibly allow himself to fall this night?

He laughed… he'd fallen from nowhere to here… from practically dead to probably alive… thats gotta be pretty hard to beat? He snorted. After everything he’d been through, you’d *think* he deserved more.
//You deserve to hang.//
//shut up shut up//
//yes you do//
//fuck you//

Chris accepted the drink with a soft thanks.

*-*-*

Back in the attic, Wyatt sat on a wooden chair in a corner.
He'd set up a table with a lamp here and this is where he used to study at night to complete his education. It had been tough… growing up… mom dead, aunts and uncles and cousins he grew up around all gone. A father who couldn't be around all the time. But Wyatt had never complained – not once. He was too busy taking care of his little brother Chris who was taking the death of their mother very very hard. The younger boy would wake up screaming from terrible nightmares and wouldn't go back to sleep unless Wyatt stayed with him. He'd teleport his food away to empty his plate and no one realized he'd stopped eating until the day he fell unconscious in school. Wyatt would sit with him and make sure he finished his food for months after that. He'd get Chris to do his homework, practice his defense spells (couldn't possibly let him leave the manor unprotected) and generally keep him busy and distracted all day long. He didn't send Chris to Magic school because the boy couldn't bear to be apart from Wyatt that long. And Wyatt leaving the manor unguarded? Out of the question.
At sixteen, the world’s weight had fallen from the Charmed three sisters’ to his young shoulders.
Wyatt was responsible for the well-grounded nearly-normal individual Chris had grown up to be in this world, in every possible manner of speaking. It was exhausting… raising Chris… but Wyatt made a promise to his dead mother, and he was determined to keep it.

Tonight, however, he couldn't stop cursing himself. He'd made a mistake, again. Seemed like every little mistake of his would always bring about dire consequences. Wyatt Halliwell was totally not allowed to err. Period.
The burden was sickening and there were times it got so heavy he thought he'd snap in two.

"Relax Wyatt. We know where he is."
Wyatt stood up at that, agitated beyond reason.
"He is sleeping behind a dumpster dad!! Why cant we go and get him home?"
"Because he will not listen! He wont come with us right now kid."
Wyatt sighed, he knew Leo was right. The three men were infamous for their stubbornness and Chris could get completely out of hand. Leo continued to pace.
"Its all your fault. You've spoilt him so much."
Wyatt softly chuckled.
"Its not the same Chris dad. This one hates me."
Leo stopped.
"They're both the same person now, thanks to you. We just need to give him some time to accept this new world. We have no idea how frightening all this must seem to him."
Wyatt nodded.

"I know, its just… he's obsessed with the idea of me being evil. And with… mom's death. I suppose he blamed me, or the evil me for her death. And now in this world where she is still dead… he has sub-consciously assumed that I am still evil too."
Leo placed a hand on his forlorn son's shoulder. He could understand the sorrow Wyatt felt at the sudden rift between the two brothers who used to be so close.
"And then there is his own guilt. I thought we'd dealt with it so many times before! If he is the same person… why doesn't he remember?"
"Like you said, he is suppressing."
Wyatt shook his head, feeling anxiety take over again. He was very worried about Chris' current state of mind. The wild look in his eyes as he fled the manor imprinted deep on his mind.
"I shouldn't have…"
"Wyatt stop. The last thing I want is for you to lose your objectivity too."

Leo now had a good idea of what happened after he left. His younger son kept pushing and provoking until the older one lost control of his own temper. Bond or not… the cruelty by words that one's own family is capable of… no stranger is. Wyatt was no more to blame than Chris himself.
Anyhow, the rebuke worked, and Wyatt gulped down the self-deprecation he was about to stutter. Leo was right… it was guilt and most of it misplaced, that had gotten him and Chris into this mess. Adding more was not going to help.

"God I just wish he'd come back."
Leo squeezed his son's shoulder again and Wyatt reflexively leaned in.
"We'll get him back son. In time."
Wyatt looked into his dad's eyes. Leo's presence was always a soothing balm and a blessing. For a change, he could rely on someone and let his guard down. And he knew Leo was right. It would be of no help to bring Chris back to the manor against his will. They would just have to try and get through to him another way. Or wait for him to come around.

"If he would just stop running from the new memories… everything will be fine. I know it will."
Leo frowned.
"I know but how do we get him to trust us enough to do that?"
"Dad he does trust you."
"He might be having his doubts… we worked through his issues back in the past but looks like he might be regressing."
Wyatt didn't understand.
"Why do you say that?"
Leo sighed.
"Well, he might be thinking I favor you more, because I trust in you. And that would lead him to believe I don't love him as much!"
"Jeez."
"Don't worry son, we just need to give him some time. Let him spend the night away from us and sort out his thoughts okay."
"Okay… but he doesn't even have his powers back yet. I'm gonna have to keep a close watch on him if he's staying away from the manor."

Leo nodded.
"Do what it takes."

*-*-*

Chris slept wrapped in newspapers and rags that the hobos had been generous enough to donate. The liquor helped and the boy was out like a light most of the night. At daybreak though, it got so cold his teeth were clattering and Chris feared he’d lose a finger or two.

//What the hell am I doing?//
Things couldn’t possibly get any worse damnit. Which means they should get better then right?
//Right?//
No spell, no way to go back to… to mom and dad. No book – that’s back there at the manor where that *fiend* was. And what do you know… no powers either!
Still!!

//Damn him!//
Chris didn’t wish to be reminded the same guy had saved him from… something… whatever. He didn’t wanna discuss it. But boy did he need help. After a good night’s sleep the boy was now lucid enough to realize three facts – one, he didn’t know where he was. Good world? Bad world? No idea, nada. Two – he was utterly famished and three, his breath stank. Now where could he possibly find his toothbrush in this goddamn… wait a minute.

//P3!!//
Chris cursed his muddled up mind for not providing him this memory when he was freezing his ass off last night. He kept a toothbrush and shaver and stuff, alongwith change of clothes at the little room at the back of P3! Why?
Because… after turning twenty one, he’d taken over the management of the club from his overloaded brother?
Chris sighed. Whatever… right now, he totally needed to take a shower and for that he was willing to risk running into Wyatt and… and even Leo.
P3 it is.

*//*//*

Wyatt smiled as he looked up from the scrying map.
“He’s at the club.”
“Told ya he’d come around.”
Wyatt nodded. Leo was about to suggest he go catch a few winks, Wyatt had been up all night. His son thought he didn’t know, but Leo had noticed Wyatt orb out in the middle of the night. No doubt the wizard had stood guard over a sleeping Chris all night despite the *arrangements* he’d made.
//How can you doubt this brother of yours, Chris?//

“Dad?”
“Yes son.”
“Do you… do you think maybe Chris wants me… *needs* me to be evil?”
Leo sighed. He had no answer.


Next Chapter

JM: Young tilted head closeup
cyndrarae

Charmed: Destiny Still Awaits - Chapter 11



Previous Chapter

Chapter 11


Leo was called and he returned to the clouds. Wyatt shook himself together and started the day as he usually did. Or tried to.
Wyatt was in field training with the SFPD to be an officer of the law – a job he figured would be perfect cover for his actual responsibilities of everyday life. Darryl helped a lot, now that the man was Chief of Police. It didn’t matter that Morris had offered the favor only to alleviate some of his own guilt for abandoning the sisters all those years ago.

Wyatt got his land rover out to go to work, strengthening the forcefield of the manor behind him. With time much advancement had been made both above ground and below, so the book simply could not be left unprotected. Apologized to the next-door neighbor for last evening’s fender-bender caused by Chris’ mazda. Again. Gunned the engine and pulled out.

But damnit he couldn’t possibly focus on anything today. Leo may have been confident that Chris would come around by himself, but he wasn’t the one that Chris was running away from. Besides the boy’s powers were still not back and that was also a very very worrying factor here. Him being out there, alone… Wyatt gritted his teeth and skidded the car round back to the manor. Not a good day for work.

Wyatt walked back into the attic, throwing his jacket on the bed and headed straight for the book.
The void left by the demise of the power of Three was never filled. But Wyatt’s presence on the scene made sure evil gained an upper hand not *once* in the last eight years. They tried, sure they did. Now four vanquished sources and only over three thousand dusted demons later, the dark worlders weren’t so sure there *was* a void to begin with.

“Okay. There’s gotta be something in here to restore his powers.”
But Wyatt had read and memorized the entire book word for word. There had been no cases of retrieving souls lost between timelines before Chris so no way to predict the side effects. He closed the book, nothing found. Wyatt knew he sucked at rhyming, Chris was so much better at it. He sighed and scrunched his face.

“Magic forces far and wide
Hear my spell and set things right
Restore the Charmed son’s power
And make whole… my beloved brother?”

He waited. Nothing happened.
// Potion maybe… some sorta potion.//
Pushed his long blonde hair behind the ears.
// Aunt Phoebe… I so wish you were here…//

*******



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Five thousand miles and fourteen hours away round the world… acclaimed columnist and Booker winning author Phoebe Halliwell tossed in her bed. Jason was away for an overnight trip to Singapore, and the girls were sound asleep. It was after all two in the morning and the woman had a long day ahead of her. She so did not need this right now. Phoebe huffed and sat up in bed.
“Damn it Wyatt.”

All day she had walked around distracted, sensing her nephew’s worried thoughts and pacings with her highly empathetic mind. Bonds of magic may have been severed, but bonds of family weren’t.
Wyatt had always been close to her and long after Piper died and Phoebe came away to Hong Kong, he would tend to reach out to her almost unintentionally. To the world, he was the stronger, calmer older son taking care of everything from Piper’s funeral to Chris’ counseling sessions. But whenever things would get too much for the teenager, his mind would zone out and try to touch Phoebe’s… sometimes only to assure himself she was still there. Feathery light brushes and she would know Wyatt was thinking about her, missing her. There were times he’d linger, ask how the girls were doing and stuff. Phoebe would have long-distance conversations with the boy only as long as they spoke of family and impersonal matters. They did not discuss witchcraft.

Phoebe had been shattered. She’d survived Pru’s funeral… but there was no way she could sit through a second sister’s funeral while the third one reeled under catatonia. She was done.
Done losing the people she loved… good against evil, right and wrong didn’t matter… nothing was worth this anymore. And God how’d begged Leo to let her take Wyatt and Chris with her. Leo refused to budge – all that shit about destiny she didn’t give a rat’s ass about. Wyatt refused to budge – he was determined to fall for the same traps that his mother and aunts had before him. And Chris… the poor boy couldn’t bear to be away from his brother at all.

The mind-talks gradually dwindled as it became easier with time to just pick up the phone and hear an actual voice on the other side. It became easier to fly (no orbing allowed) back and forth for short visits so the cousins could see each other and remember they were one family… one blood. So now Wyatt would usually come knocking on her mind only when… when there was some sort of magical crisis on. Now *that* Phoebe was not interested in.

She’d tried her best to ignore him. All damn day.
She and the girls had called up Chris in the morning to wish him. Everything had been fine.
No, something was obviously not right right now. Wyatt wouldn’t be paging her so restlessly for nothing. Even if he didn’t know he was doing it.
“Damn it!”
She cursed again, switched on her bedside lamp and picked up the phone.

*******

By the time Chris got out of the shower and changed into fresh, and to be honest more comfortable loose fitting clothes, he was feeling less dead and more alive. His thoughts were still going around in circles though. He remembered and yet did not remember the newly renovated club that was his mother’s legacy – among many other things.

//Man, did I really order these handmade magenta lamp shades? What the hell was I thinking??//
//They do look kinda funky.//
So the Chris in this world had flamboyant tastes but the majority of him was still bent on holding back. One voice in his head bawked at the *colorfully* named cocktails on the menu… another sniggered, thoroughly pleased with his *creative* streak.
//The crowds love it man.//
//Mom wouldn’t like this at all.//

The only cleaner guy (not a magical one) who worked mornings came in and greeted him like he’d known Chris forever.
“Hey boss, did you sleep here last night?”
“Uhh yeah. I did.”
//Brian is it?//
Brian snickered.
“Well congratulations. Looks like big brother finally cut you loose.”
//Huh?//
Chris just scowled in return and went back to the solace of his office.

There he found a little fridge to raid for whatever unexpired food he could find. Chris needed a plan – he needed to prove to dad that Wyatt couldn’t be trusted. And he needed to get his powers back asap. Stripping Chris of his powers even before he’d opened his eyes was the smartest thing Wyatt could have done to cover his ass. Undeniable proof of his true evil intentions – why was he the only one to see that?
Leo was so naïve, so completely blinded by his love for the firstborn. Probably another thing that did not change despite everything that happened back in the past. Chris felt a familiar hollowness he hadn’t felt now for months.
//Get a grip Halliwell.//
Chris also couldn’t help feeling an irrational envy for his father. He loved him still doubtless. But he wasn’t liking him too much at the moment. He needed someone who would understand him and want to bring Piper back as much as he did. Someone who knew what could happen if Wyatt was to give in to his inner demons.

The window flew open and a cold breeze blew in. Chris turned to face the horizon and almost without intention, words of a well-used ditty rose to his lips.

“spirit winds you know her name,
find the witch who lives in pain…”

He paused, he smirked.

“…summon her from magic school,
she'll kick my butt, but that's cool.
Hear this spell, hear my chant
return to me my favorite aunt.”

He waited. Nothing happened.
Chris closed his eyes and his head dropped to his chest. Obviously his active powers were not the only powers gone. He was not even capable of basic spells every witch and wizard was supposed to be born with. He scrunched up his eyes tighter. It was hopeless. This was all so absolutely ridiculously…

“What the…? Oh way to go Christopher, perfect timing!”
Chris startled, and looked up to find Paige… dressed in Magic School standard issue black cloak with a nasty toe nail clipper in one hand, poised for action.
“You came!”
“I am so going to kick your skinny little…”
Before she knew it, Chris charged her and pulled her into a tight desperate hug. And he was not letting go.
“Uhh… okay… alright…”
Chris let go and parted, realizing what he just did. “Sorry.”
Paige got over her shock of being suddenly retrieved out of Magic School and into P3 and dropped the clippers.
“Do you have any idea how difficult it is to convince a phoenix to donate her claws? After weeks of deliberations I finally got her to stand still long enough for me to clip a sliver and just when I thought I had it…”
“Sorry again?” Chris, now slightly blushing but not sorry at all, threw her his best innocent look.
Paige humphed. “A little warning nephew that’s all I ask!”
Chris nodded eagerly, not finding any words to explain the exhilaration he felt at seeing her. He was sure he’d summoned her several times before without warning and his aunt had pretended to be annoyed every time. He was sure he was gonna do it again.

Chris continued to stare as she straightened her cloak until the witch figured something was off.
“Okay, out with it.”
The Halliwells was not a normal family, never had been. And Paige had left the fold eight years ago. Although she’d visited Chris every time he’d called her, she did not like visiting the mortal plane anymore. Most expectedly, she did not remember.
“Aunt Paige… today’s my twenty second birthday.”

Paige was stunning to look at even now when the years had hardened her features. Her eyes did not sparkle with the same intensity. But they weren’t dead either – they were filled with the light of wisdom that only experience and pain brings. The hair was back to original black, which somehow made her look more morose than when Chris saw her in the past. She’d carelessly piled it on top of her head making her tall frame look taller. She wore no makeup. Paige was the most beautiful woman Chris knew.
The Charmed one’s face melted first with mild amusement, them embarrassment (she forgot again), and then with stunned realization as the implications of the event sank in.
“Oh my God. Wyatt did it.”
That was the last thing Chris had wanted to hear. He flinched away.
“Lemme guess… having trouble reconciling with your new life?”
Chris snorted. “What new life?”
Paige frowned. “You’re acting weird.”
“Look there is no time to explain. I need your help.”
“To do what?”
Chris stated matter-of-factly. “To fix this. Again.”
“Fix what? You already saved Wyatt from turning evil.”
“I failed.”
Paige sighed loudly. “Christopher you’re trying my patience now.”

“I am *trying* to tell you we did not succeed in making sure Wyatt *never* turns evil.”
“Wyatt was saved from Gideon in time. I know I was there!”
“How do you know it was in time? How do you know its not all an act like in my last world? How do you know he wont drop the act and blow everything up tomorrow?”
Paige narrowed her eyes at him.
“Chris don’t you see the difference between the man who tortured and tried to kill you in the other world, and this one who is your brother and who *loves* you??”
Chris bit his lip, losing patience himself.
“He took away all my powers Paige!”
The witch paused.
“He did mention there could be unforeseen side effects.”
“He *told* you he was going to do something to me and you didn’t stop him?”
“Stop being a dolt. If he wanted you out of the way why would he bring you back in the first place?”
“Well… maybe because dad asked him to… I guess… I don’t know!”
“You are not *trying* to know! Stop fighting it Chris. The new memories will allow you to see how much you did *not* fail! And how much different this world is.”
Chris muttered softly. “You’re not any different. You still don’t like to be touched.”

The silence that followed was not comfortable. Paige’s glance turned cold and she quickly looked away.
“I have to get back.”
“No wait. We need to discuss this.”
“There is nothing to discuss.”
And Paige was about to orb away.
“We need to get mom back!”
She stopped. “What? Ho-how? Chris you mean you wanna go back in time again?”
“That’s the only way isn’t it?”
Paige pursed her lips and considered what Chris was saying. Chris was reminded of another good reason why his mother needed to be alive again. This was for the best – it was not only to save Wyatt, it was to save Paige too.
“The spell is not in our book but it must exist somewhere in the Magic school library. We could look for it and…”
“Its… too late. Everyone’s moved on. And Piper is… well her too…”
“Aunt Paige the fate of the world hangs in the balance don’t you see? Wyatt is the most powerful being to have ever been born and without mom to control him, he… he could…”
“You sound just like Gideon.”
Chris was horrified. He couldn’t believe what he just heard. His mouth fell open to say something but he couldn’t think of any words to respond to this… this…

“Trust your brother Chris. He is not the Wyatt you once knew. You are not the Chris you were. You’re much more than that. And you *love* him.”
Chris winced as something he was suppressing tried to force its way up tearing through his mind and heart painfully.
“You don’t get it. I thought you of all people would understand me!!”
“I do! And that’s why I know…”
“YOU KNOW NOTHING!”

Chris screamed Paige into silence.
“Living in that Magic School away like some hermit has made you so cold!! Hiding behind your invisibility cloak just like *he* did! You don’t understand what family is anymore! God how could I expect you to help me at all! If anyone here is like Gideon its YOU!”
Paige closed her eyes. The words didn’t sting because she knew they weren’t true. Well, not completely. She did live the life of a hermit and she… did hide behind that stupid cloak. But what she felt right now was sadness for what Chris was going through. The nephew she’d seen grow from a baby to an adult had a sorrowful past but he wasn’t this neurotic, or this manically disturbed. The Chris of this world had accepted the fact that everything happens for a reason. And that when some things are meant to be, no power in this world or any other could possibly change it.
“Chris… just stop… stop fighting this.”

“He cant, sweetie.”

The couple then realized there was a third presence in the room. Since when, they couldn’t say. Paige and Chris turned to look at Phoebe… who stood slightly out of their peripheral visions with her arms folded, studying Chris very intently.
“At least not yet. He’s too much like his mother. Its his nature to fight.”

Paige overcame her shock and went to her sister. They embraced a long time as Chris looked on.
“Talk to him please.” she whispered.
Chris was curious how Phoebe knew to find him here, and also how she got into the room.
“You didn’t use the door.”
“Wyatt orbed me in.”
Chris got agitated again. “Just so like him to go running to you!”
“Like you came running to me?” Paige quipped.
Chris scowled. “Well technically you came to me not…”
“Yeah, we know.”
Phoebe interjected and Chris shut up. They stared each other down. Chris was already not trusting her because she was sent by Wyatt. She had to be careful.
“Don’t I get a hug?”
Chris pouted. And that’s all he did. Vaguely he remembered talking to her only… yesterday on the phone? From Hong Kong?

“Lemme guess, you came here to tell me I should accept my new life and move on. Right?”
Phoebe smiled sadly at him.
“Paige do you remember how Piper was like right after Pru died?”
Paige nodded, reminiscing.
“She was so angry… she lashed out at everyone, you for putting yourself at risk. Leo for not healing Pru, *them* for not saving her… me for… for trying to replace her.”
Chris didn’t like where this was going. He turned around and went to stand by the open window. Phoebe still studied him intently.
“She was in as much pain as you are today Chris. But in time she realized it was self-destructive to hold onto the past and she let go. She accepted Pru’s death and moved on for the rest of us. Me, Paige… Leo. You think you and your brother would be here if she hadn’t?”
Chris did not react. But he was holding a storm inside. Phoebe went to stand behind him and put a hesitant hand on his shoulder.
“She was alive and real for you till yesterday night and today she’s dead. Sweetie… I can imagine what you must be going through.”
A sob escaped Chris.
“It hurts…”
A painful flashback crossed the empath’s mind… of Piper breaking down…

//It hurts to talk… it hurts to breathe…//

Phoebe turned him around and slowly drew him into herself, his head resting on her shoulder. He let her hold him but his hands hung by his sides.
“Don’t blame yourself baby. And don’t blame Wyatt. It was meant to be.”
A harsh gasp.
“Why?”
Phoebe did not respond, only gripped him tightly. But it didn’t help, Chris tore out of her embrace and with tears in his eyes demanded the eternal answer again.
“Why??”
The sisters didn’t know what to say or do. They were thinking Chris needed to go back to counseling again.
The pain the guilt… the fear – it was all too much to bear now, he felt like he could barely breathe. But if Piper were alive… yeah… mom could fix this. Mom could take care of everything. Chris wiped away his tears, they were no use anyway.

“Are you guys going to help me or not?”
Paige sighed, hadn’t she scoured the magic school library day and night to find something… anything that could bring Piper and Richard back? Hadn’t Chris suffered through this once? Poor child… this shouldn’t be happening to him again, she thought.
“Chris there is nothing we can do. And even if there was, Piper doesn’t want us to do anything!”
“What??”
Phoebe advised him gently. “Go back to the manor darling and speak to your mother.”
The tears threatened again. “How can I face her…” and the muttered whispers were so low they weren’t heard.
“I failed her… again…”
Paige asked, hugely concerned for the boy. “What did you say?”
Chris clamped shut. No… he could fix this. He could still fix this!

“Fine. You guys have such perfect wonderful lives, go back to them! I’m only your dead sister’s second son why should you care what happens to me?”
Phoebe rolled her eyes. “Chris you know that’s not true.”

Frustration now. Helpless again… to save mom, to save Wyatt… he was screaming inside again.
“Wyatt is going to turn! Unless we bring Piper back.”
“No he’s not.”
Paige tried, but Chris rambled on like he hadn’t even heard her.
“And the first one he comes after is me! You know why??”

“Because he blames me too! He thinks I was this stupid wimp who could do nothing to save Piper during the attack!! He will come after me for that and he will kill me!”
The sisters were frantic.
“Jesus! Chris, we’ll get you help. You can get past this sweetie!”

Chris did not listen. Talking to the sisters was useless. As far as he was concerned, these women were not the Charmed ones anymore. He would have to find a way to bring mom back himself. He heard nothing of what his aunts said to him, and just walked out. Into the cool winter morning.

*******

Life was difficult for the underworlders in this age… and getting difficult-er. Demons using corrupt humans to do their bidding above ground was not a new phenomenon. But since of late the number of demons volunteering to be above ground had dwindled, dependency on greedy mortals had multiplied and they were running short of the right… rather *wrong* sorta humans. Fortunately, the San Francisco coven of assassin witches had planted the perfect mole… Brian.

Chris shoved open the back doors of P3 and stamped out… too engrossed with his inner demons to worry about the ones outside. If he’d looked up once to a nearby terrace, he would have seen three assassins perched with blessed athames. If he’d glanced left behind the dumpsters, he would have found a fourth one there.

And if he’d paid attention, he would have known the fourth one had been following him around since last night.

Voices in his head were too loud and too chaotic for Chris to hear anything else. What the fuck…. he almost preferred the world he had come from. At least things were not this murky – right was good and wrong was evil. Whatever happened to the clear demarcations and his instincts that had never failed him before?
// I gotta speak to… I should… oh God I cant face her! //

Footsteps too close for comfort behind and left of him. By the time he turned around … it was too late.


Next Chapter

JM: Young tilted head closeup
cyndrarae

Charmed: Destiny Still Awaits - Chapter 12



Previous Chapter

Chapter 12


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.
Ever.
“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…”
“But… Wyatt?”
“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.
“aunt Paige?”
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?”
“oh Wyatt…”
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.
“Jesus.”
“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….?”

“Wyatt?”
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.

“Bianca?”

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.

“Chris!”
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.
“Barker!”
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. //
“Wyatt!”
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.
“Watch out!”
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…”
// 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.
“Uh-oh.”
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.
“Herbert wait!”
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.
“You okay?”
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.
“Hurts…”
“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… //

“You came…”
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…”
“Shut up.”
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.


Next Chapter

JM: Young tilted head closeup
cyndrarae

Charmed: Destiny Still Awaits - Chapter 13



Previous Chapter

Chapter 13


Chris slept the day through, he was perfectly spent. After he collapsed in the hall, Wyatt carried him upstairs to his bedroom and tucked him in. Covered him up to his chin with blankets but also left a window slightly ajar to let a cool breeze in. A younger Chris had once told Wyatt he didn’t like to be completely warm, instead he preferred to be a *little* bit cold… just enough that made it all the more enjoyable to snuggle under the covers. Smiling at the innocent memory, Wyatt stood a long while leaning by the door frame with his arms crossed, watching the boy sleep.
// What can I do? What can I possibly say? //

“Wyatt…”
Paige came up behind him, breaking him out of his reverie. He sighed deeply, softly closing the door behind him and turned around to face his aunt.
“She’s here.”
Wyatt nodded and the two headed on downstairs to where the assassin witch stood. Her stance cold and rigid as always.
“Thank you.” Wyatt said to her softly.
Bianca stared back. “You pay me to do my job.”
Wyatt knew that was not the reason. He merely stood watching the woman intently, while Paige walked away to a corner, observing the exchange.
“Your cover’s blown, its not safe for you to go to the coven now. I could arrange for you to…”
“I’m not running away. The crisis isn’t over yet. Herbert escaped and by now everyone down there knows Chris doesn’t have his powers.”
Of course. If Chris had had his powers, Barker wouldn’t have gotten as close to killing him as he did.

Wyatt at this point was more angry with himself than anyone else. He did put Bianca on Chris’ tail after he ran out of the manor last night and the woman had guarded him all night, even when he slept fitfully out in the open, unprotected. Wyatt himself stood watch over him but had returned in the morning when Leo called for him. He never should have left or this would never have happened.
Twice in twenty four hours… it was more than he could bear. And Leo didn’t even know yet.

He turned back to Bianca, his jaw clenched tight.
One of the missions Leo assigned to him was to return the assassin witches back to the side they truly belonged. They had all once been extremely powerful, good witches but after an ancestor was turned by a warlock into a cold-hearted assassin back in the eighteen-sixtees, every descendant since had abandoned the light for the dark. They were still extremely strong though, and with their unique ability to steal powers from others… getting stronger. Wyatt had managed to undo the ancestral curse and convert about fourteen of the SF coven. They all worked for him now, for a small compensation of course. A century of bounty-hunter breeding cant just go away overnight. But Wyatt now knew the stories Leo told him of the assassins’ fierce loyalty were not exaggerated.
“No one else is exposed yet right?”
Bianca shook her head.
“Good. I still think you should take off, go see your mother. The house in Burge is protected so you wont have to worry.”
Bianca hesitated, flitter of pain crossing her alabaster face.
“Bianca listen to me…”
She looked away, not willing to… to abandon Chris.
“I think it would be easier on both of you to… you could use the distance right now. You know how much he wants to move on with his life. And that would be very difficult if you’re around. Besides, you don’t know all of what’s happened to him…”

Bianca rattled almost automatedly.
“His memories are all mixed up and he doesn’t know what or who to believe.”

“I know… I saw it in his eyes this morning. He doesn’t remember me… or us…”
Wyatt bit his lip and waited. He hated playing the *ex* card but she had to be sent away so she could be safe. Bianca looked back at him, the mask having fallen back in place.
“I will leave on one condition – you call me if you ever need to… you *call* me.”
“I will.”
They gazed at each other a moment longer. Then she shimmered and was gone.

Paige had fixed herself a drink (orange juice) and now came forth to sit on the couch. She sighed, knowing the history there. Bianca and Chris had broken up only two months ago. There used to be arguments off and on, but somehow they would make up every time, except the last time of course. There was genuine love there once.
“What is it with you brothers and older women anyway?”
Wyatt let out a short chuckle as he took a seat beside her.
“Sure didn’t help to grow up around two beautiful aunts who loved to strut around half-naked in the house!”
Paige’s mouth went wide open with mock horror.
“We never *strutted*!”
He laughed some more and she threw a cushion at his face. Then she laughed too. It was good to be back at the manor, with family.
“So how is Lindsey?”
The nephew shrugged. “She’s okay… called this morning, asking about Chris. I wouldn’t know how to explain to Dr. Rydill what happened this time, let alone Lin.”
Paige frowned. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Right now, we gotta make sure Chris stays inside the manor until his powers return.”
“Yeah and what’s with that? Why are his powers still down?”

Just then Leo orbed in.
“Hey” and then seeing someone he did not expect, “Paige?”
Paige got up to give brother-in-law a hug. When she parted she gave him a sharp glare.
“You missed a lot.”
Leo raised an eyebrow intrigued, specially since Wyatt refused to look him in the eye.

*******

When Chris woke up, it was dark outside but a lamp shone somewhere on the inside. Slowly his eyes opened and took his surroundings. He was in his bedroom, it was night and automatically he reached for the digital watch he knew stood on the table to his right.
21:17
June 27, 2026. Saturday.
// Dude… you got an exam in two days. //
Not good. He rubbed his eyes and scratched the fresh stubble on his face. His head felt woozy and it made him wonder how much he had to drink last night… then he wondered what time he came back home and… did he actually sleep all day? Chris raised an eyebrow to himself, was still having trouble keeping his eyes open though.
// Shit. Wouldn’t be the first time. //
He’d done it before, partying hard all Friday evening up until Saturday morning and returning only after cleaning up and closing P3. Wyatt would be annoyed, but he’d let him sleep in as long as he wanted. Well… he never slept till it got dark before? And he sure didn’t remember closing up the club either… oops. How totally sloshed was he?
He pushed himself out of bed and walked towards the bathroom. Noticed he was in his sleeping t-shirt and boxers and couldn’t remember changing his clothes…
// Damn. //
Did Wyatt have to come get him last night again? Oh crap. He was so gonna not *ever* hear the end of it.

Went in, switched on the light and faced the mirror.
// What the? //
Where did all the bruises come from? He saw himself looking back at him… but there was something in the face that wasn’t him. Not… really him.
Chris stared.
And then he was standing at the end of a long dark tunnel with a tiny flickering light at the other end that beckoned him. He focused on that light as if in a trance and suddenly the ground beneath his feet gave away and he felt himself propelling into the dark void like he was being sucked in! Into that gaping blackhole of… pain… and guilt and… memories that came at him from nowhere and everywhere… rushing past him and into him… his face, his eyes, his nose, his mouth…

// We’ll get through this… together I promise. //
Chris choked, then hyperventilated. Breaths rapid and incessant and too hard on his heart… beating too fast…
// Kill him, before his brother comes! //
His brother the First Progeny… Wyatt… Wyatt who killed his friends, who killed Bianca… who almost killed him…
//You sound just like Gideon.//
No. Not him… anyone but him!
// If he wanted you out of the way why would he bring you back in the first place?//

His knees collapsed and Chris fell to the floor, eventually dragging himself to rest against the shower door. He was cold and he was sweating. He would have retched if there was anything inside to throw up. Instead he just hugged his knees to his chest, tightly.
// Go back to the manor darling and speak to your mother //
Yes… he needed to face mom but God how *could* he?
//Wyatt! Wyatt please, mom’s bleeding!! Mom hold on!! Hold on please!! Wyatt!!//
His lungs contracted painfully and he gasped, his shoulder throbbed.

// You blamed yourself for not being able to save mom when the attack came. //
He knew… of course he would know…
// You and I, we have a brothers’ bond…//
Just like the sisters did… Pru, Paige, Phoebe… Piper.
// You wouldn’t let me change the bed covers and sheets for weeks. You… you missed her so much… //
But wasn’t he evil? Anymore? Wasn’t he the one to blame for… for…

// I don’t *want* you to be evil!//
// Nothing changed. Nothing fucking changed! //
No that wasn’t true… some things changed. The Golden gate still stands… he was not having a meltdown in a museum’s public lavatory…
// Welcome home son //
Was he welcome really? What had he done ever since he came back? Wrecked havoc? Thrown accusations left, right and center?
Did he really belong here?

// shh baby boy, just let me hold you… //
Chris closed his eyes, hitting his head on the door behind him with deliberate force. The memory of his father’s soft voice alone washing over him like soothing balm to his aching wounds. And he sure had many of them. Which was ironic considering he was the son to a healer… brother to a healer… a brother whom he refused to trust despite the fact that Wyatt had done nothing but save him ever since he’d brought Chris back…
// Happy Birthday Chris //
… from the dead.

// Easy… easy baby. I got you Chris //
The breathing came easy, the trembling trickled away.

“Chris?”
He suddenly realized Leo was calling for him. Chris opened his eyes just as Leo walked into the room not having received a response to his knocking. He couldn’t allow him to see his son in such a pathetic state *again*. He’d caused enough stress to everyone he knew for one day, thank you very much.
“Chris you in there?”
Chris quickly got to his feet and locked the door before Leo could enter.
“Yeah… I’m in the shower dad.”
Not like doors could actually stop the Elder but hey, he was not going to walk in on his *supposedly* bathing son. At least Chris hoped he wouldn’t.
Leo didn’t ask him how come he couldn’t hear the water running. Chris realized soon enough though and ran to turn the tap. Leo smiled.
“Okay… just wanted to see how you were doing.”
Chris smiled, had to shout now over the water’s noise.
“I’m… fine! Everything’s fine dad!”
// Don’t lie to me kid. //

Chris leaned against the door on his side, Leo leaned on his. The boy fidgeted, wanting nothing more than to open the damn door, run to his father’s arms and tell him about the bizarre episode he just had. He held his silence, and finally heard the resigned sigh in Leo’s voice from the other side.
“Okay, come down for dinner when you’re done. How does steak sound?”
Chris softly smiled. “You’re vegetarian dad.”
Not to mention, you don’t really need to eat at all, he thought but didn’t say it. Leo smiled too, and reflexively placed a kiss on the door before heading out of the room.
“Hurry up.”
“Okay.”
And when Chris realized Leo was gone, he sank to the floor again. This was going to be more difficult than ever. He’d rather just be ranting and yelling at the top of his voice. But no… his dad deserved better from him.
And perhaps… so did Wyatt?

*******

Paige needed to return to her beloved Magic School, but she promised she would keep looking for ways to restore Chris’ powers. After she actually *kissed* the men goodbye and orbed out, Leo turned to Wyatt with a happy curiosity on his face.
“What did you two do to her?”
Wyatt knew what Leo meant and just shrugged smiling.
“It was all Chris, not me. Guess this day made her realize she cant shun family forever.”
Paige not recoiling from physical contact, actually hugging and kissing people was definitely a good sign. Wyatt was setting the table for dinner as they waited for Chris to come down.
“Aunt Phoebs actually let me *orb* her to the club today.”
“That’s amazing… I had given up hope after all these years.”
Leo sighed. Maybe there would be a bright side to all this chaos after all. It would definitely be great if Phoebe would let go of the past and actually come back to the manor someday. Probably wasn’t too probable though.

Chris showered and shaved and changed into a steel blue tee-shirt and well-worn but excellent condition black jeans. He was amazed at how huge and classy his wardrobe was. Back in his world he had never had enough money or time or even inclination to…
// Damn it. //
He couldn’t stop comparing the old life with this new one. But maybe that was the whole point. Chris being more clear-headed now than before, could see the differences between that world and this one… even though he kept reminding himself constantly how it all still depended on Wyatt’s morality. It wouldn’t take long to revert back to the badness if Wyatt was ever to…
// Don’t go there Chris. Not now. //
Chris sighed, and brushed his hair back from his face. They were of a longer length than he would normally prefer… then reminded himself he probably did prefer longer hair *normally*.
// Jesus. //
Was it any surprise he was losing his mind? He took deep breaths, one then another and another. Then headed out of his room for dinner.

The sight of Wyatt in an apron standing by the hotplate was enough to bring a brief chuckle to Chris and draw the men’s attention towards him. Wyatt scowled jokingly at him just before the light moment disappeared and Chris avoided looking at him altogether after that. Wyatt decided he would just have to wait, at least Chris was not attacking him.
Dinner went well, by everyone’s standards. They made rapid small talk – mostly Wyatt and Leo because Chris was content to just smile and nod and generally not make eye contact with them at all. They did not push him and for that Chris was grateful. Besides he was famished and didn’t want to be disturbed while he ate like a pig.

Later, when Chris got up from the table and wondered what he was expected to do next, Leo spoke up.
“Isn’t it your turn with the dishes today?”
Leo was handing him the silly apron and Chris looked at him like he’d lost his mind.
“Its okay dad, I’ll do it.”
And Wyatt went to take the apron again. Chris frowned, wondering why he suddenly felt inclined to take on household chores.
“No wait, I got it.”
Chris put on the apron and headed to the sink, so he missed the unhappy glower Wyatt threw at Leo. Leo just smiled waving away the older brother’s protectiveness and shortly announced he needed to go check up on an old charge of his. Then orbed out, leaving Wyatt and Chris alone. Immediately, Chris tensed up. But continued to rinse the dishes and place them in the dishwasher.
“Here let me help you with…”
“I said I got it.”

Wyatt backed off quietly. Chris didn’t look up at him again, though he suddenly felt guilty for snapping at him. He didn’t mean to, he just… the proximity with this man he’d feared so much and still did, maybe wrongly and maybe not… was making him edgy.
When Chris was done, he rinsed his hands, wiped off on a towel Wyatt handed him and took off the apron. He took his time folding it, not wanting to look at Wyatt even as he was continually aware Wyatt was looking at him. Finally, he realized he couldn’t wait any longer. He put the apron to one side and looked up… at Wyatt. His voice trembled ever so slightly, but he managed to keep it together.
“I don’t know how to believe you.”
Wyatt stood passive, the hurt wouldn’t have been evident to an outsider but somehow Chris knew. The older man did not respond.
“Earlier, when I woke up in mom’s… in my bedroom, for a few minutes I was… you know, your Chris. All these thoughts about college and the club filled my mind and they were all so…”

Wyatt waited. “So?”
“… normal.”

“It was like I was standing in one corner looking at myself going through these… *motions* of a real life… an actual normal life. And then…”
Chris moved away from the kitchen sink now, clearly agitated.
“then I don’t know what happened. One look in the mirror and Bam! I… *slammed* back into… me again.”
Chris winced, knowing how crazy he must have sounded. Wyatt just nodded, understanding.
“I know I wasn’t the best-est brother in your last life… you wouldn’t have such a hard time trusting me if… if you weren’t so scared of what he did to you.”
Chris snorted. “Scared?”
// Its true, you’re scared. //
Wyatt bit his lip and said nothing.
“Look, I’m just trying not to make the same mistakes twice alright?”
“The mistake of trusting me you mean?”
Chris did not answer.
“What happened Chris? What did he do to you?”
It was not lost on Chris that Wyatt used *he* instead of *I* to refer to the evil version of himself. Chris liked that. But he didn’t want to talk about it. He suddenly found himself wishing he could forget everything about his last life altogether.
“I wish you’d find something to turn me off completely. Leave the real Chris like he’s supposed to be.”
“Chris!”
The boy was taken aback by the sudden passion in his brother’s voice. Wyatt took a step closer to where Chris stood, wanting so much to hold the boy but he couldn’t.
“I didn’t bring you back to *turn* you off!”
Chris yelled at him now. “Yeah? Why did you then? I wish you hadn’t!”
And the boy rushed to get away but Wyatt was faster. He caught Chris by the elbow and one hand holding his head behind the right ear.
“Hey… listen to me, listen to me Chris!”
He tugged at Chris’ hair a little to emphasize his point.
“You *are* the real Chris. You are not two people – you are one unique guy who helped create a better future! A better world. Chris you have no idea how grateful I am to you.”
And then Wyatt let go, hoping he would stay on his own.
“I asked you what he did to you but truth is I don’t wanna know! I don’t know if I have the guts to listen to a description of *myself* in another world that made you… hate me so much.”
There was genuine emotion, even fear in his voice. Chris felt surprisingly at ease and uncompelled to get away just yet.

// Throwing in the towel already? You never learn do ya? //
Chris flinched. Okay, a section of his being was still impervious to Wyatt’s charms. And now *that* section needed to get away. He turned around and saw the door to the garden. Walked towards it, opened it and stepped out into the moonlit night. It was just as beautiful and tended as he’d seen it in the past. Wyatt followed but stopped at the doorway, leaning against it.
“You’ve taken good care of mom’s garden.”
“What makes you think I do?”
Chris looked back at him. “I do it?”
Wyatt snorted. “Oh Noo.”
The boy frowned, then his eyes widened. “Mom! She… still waters her plants doesn’t she?”
Wyatt smiled. “Yep.”
“What is it with ghosts and weird fixations? I’d much rather prefer she *cook* for us.”
“And that’s your way to tell me a zillionth time I suck at cooking, thanks man.”
Chris just made a face that made Wyatt laugh. He was glad at least the brothers were having a civil conversation. Meanwhile Chris marveled at the fact he actually talked about Piper without losing it… for a whole three seconds. He was losing it *now*.
Wyatt saw the boy going slightly pale.
“Chris you okay?”
Chris just nodded, and looked away.
“Don’t you… don’t you wanna see mom?”
Chris blinked. Yes… he should… he wanted to see Piper so bad it hurt. But at the same time, he feared what she would say, what seeing her would do to him…
No. He wanted to see her alive damn it! She was not supposed to be a flimsy pale shadow of the woman that she was only yesterday. Chris shifted his feet, the panic slowly building up in him and Wyatt caught on.

“Chris, tell me what you’re thinking.”
Wyatt demanded, softly. Chris looked at him, then away. Part of him wanting to pour his heart out but he restrained himself. He didn’t wanna talk about… anything really anymore. No wait… there was one thing.
“I… I want my powers back.”
Wyatt nodded. “I’m working on it.”
“How long will it take?”
“Shouldn’t take too long. I think I almost cracked it. Although…”
“What?”
Wyatt sighed, as if contemplating whether to speak his mind or not. In that very moment, Chris thought he looked very much like his father.
“In a way, I think your powers being down is like… a good thing.”
Chris snorted and shook his head. “I don’t believe this.”
“Think about it. You never trusted the Wyatt you knew. Maybe when you came into this new world, the spell took away your powers to make you not fight this… *new* me and see that here I *can* be trusted. Even when… when you’re not in the best position to defend yourself against me.”
Chris glared at him with scorn.
“You’re just glad I haven’t been able to blow you up in one of my fits of rage!”
Wyatt nodded vigorously. “Oh yeah, that too.”
Chris glared again, but couldn’t help it. He laughed. Wyatt joined in.
It also worked cleverly to keep Chris at the manor, where he was sure to adjust to his new life faster. He was not safe outside the force field and Chris was very well aware of that now.
After awhile, he just shook his head. “I still want them back.”
“I’ll get em back. I promise.”
Chris felt a shiver up his spine… he realized he believed the man! At least he was terribly terribly inclined to.

“On one condition.”
Chris bit his lip, much in the same way Wyatt would now and again.
“What.”
Wyatt took a moment. “Go see mom.”
Chris sighed. Its what Phoebe had asked him to do too… talk to your mother. Damn it, what hope would he have left if his own dead mother discouraged him from trying to get her back? Cant be… she would want to be back surely. She wouldn’t want to be away from her kids right? Piper had been scared of not being there for her children the way her mother wasn’t around for her and her sisters. He knew that for a fact – after all it was recorded as part of the Charmed Ones’ history and preserved in the Manor museum back in his old world.

Chris nodded mutely.
“Will you help me?”
Chris had never been able to get all the tools for a séance set right by himself. Wyatt led the way up to the attic and Chris followed.
Once inside, Chris was reminded of the last time he’d been up here… when he had accused Wyatt and Wyatt had blamed him in turn. On some level, he knew that none of them was responsible and that they couldn’t possibly have done anything more given their circumstances. But the loss of a mother is too harsh to accept and displacing blame is probably the most natural of all human reactions. He should know, he was majoring in psychology after all.

The candles were lit, and Wyatt now stood at the book beckoning Chris to his side. Chris came tentatively and stopped a few feet away from him. Wyatt frowned then understood.
“Okay this is the spell, you’ve seen it before. I’ll… be downstairs if you need me.”
And Wyatt shoved his hands in his khakhi trouser pockets and made to move out. Chris went and stood by the book and looked at the spell.
“Wyatt?”
The wizard turned around. “Yeah?”
“Did you… send Bianca after me to… “
Wyatt was nodding already. Chris didn’t need to finish the question, and another answer supplied itself to his mind that froze him for a second – Wyatt had an army of assassin witches working for him… even in this world.
“Anything else?”
“Umm yeah, I… I don’t think I wired the money to Mahogony’s account for last night?”
“I got it.” And Wyatt started walking out again.
“Oh, Wyatt?”
Wyatt turned around again, this time quite hopefully. “Yeah!”
Chris gave him a look he somehow knew Wyatt would understand. “It was Brian.”
And Wyatt understood. His eyes clouded over and the eager smile disappeared. The transformation was eerie… and Chris suffered a painful flashback…

That’s how Wyatt looked just before he killed his two best friends.

Wyatt nodded slightly and left the attic. Chris gathered his wits, now doubly convinced of what he must do… and looked down to the spell.


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