A/N- A moment between Chris and Paige that takes place after Spin City. Everyone knows who he is and (for the purposes of this story), Paige was not killed by the Titans in his timeline. Enjoy!
"Leo, is that you?"
Paige cautiously peeked through the attic door, her eyes doing a quick scan of the premises. Both of her sisters were supposed to be out of the house at the moment, but a quiet rustling sound from upstairs prompted her to investigate. Unfortunately, sounds from the attic could not be ignored in the Halliwell household, even if she was in no mood for a vanquish.
No one had come in through the front door, so Paige deduced that whoever was upstairs had no need for regular entrances. Leo had been popping in more than usual, now that he had learned that their neurotic whitelighter was actually his neurotic son—maybe he had come by searching for the elusive Chris?
"Leo?" She repeated again, still looking for the source of the sound.
A quick jolt ran through her as she saw a male figure peek his head above the attic's couch, but she quickly let out a sigh of relief.
"Sorry, Aunt Paige," her nephew said softly as he raised his hand to massage his temple. "It's just me. I needed a bit of a rest and I didn't think anyone was home." He paused, frowning. "My sensing is clearly out of wack."
The woman gave him a warm smile as she moved across the room. She hadn't seen much of the young man recently—not since his confrontation with his father in the spider demon's lair. That day had clearly caused the boy a lot of stress and (much to Piper's annoyance) he seemed to be avoiding them all during the past week or so. It was a relief to see him here—although the cloudy look in his eyes seemed to indicate that he was not at his best.
"No need to apologize." She said reassuringly as she flopped down onto the nearest chair, facing her nephew. Paige assessed him for a moment before she continued. He definitely looked more exhausted than usual, she he continued to rub his forehead slowly as if it was causing him pain. "What's up?" She asked, her voice laced with concern. "No offence Chris, but you're not looking so great. Are you okay?"
The boy gave a small scoff before flopping back against the plush couch.
"I'll be fine." He said with a hint of frustration. "This happens sometimes, when I go overboard." Chris paused, his expression darkening as he glanced up towards the ceiling. "Yet another thing to thank dear old Leo for."
Paige starred at him for a moment, perplexed. Clearly, he had not developed any warm and fuzzy feelings for his father during his mysterious absence, and there was not question that there was much unexplained bitterness boiling under the surface. Although she could sense that he was not in the mood to talk about it, the young woman could not resist.
"What does this have to do with your dad?" She asked, hoping that her question would not cause him to clam up. As they all knew, Chris often shut down when Leo became the topic of conversation and it would probably be worse now that the full truth was out in the open.
The boy let out another deep sigh as he looked at his aunt and rubbed his temples again for a long moment. Finally, he decided to continue.
"I was down in the underworld." He admitted, running a hand through his dark hair. "After…everything…" Chris said hesitantly, "I decided to go on a vanquishing spree, even though I know what that does to me. I guess I was trying to push my limits," he admitted, "But you can only fight nature for so long, as I've learned the hard way time and time again. I know you feel it too, sometimes."
Paige shook her head slowly as Chris finished. She was relieved to see him relatively safe and unharmed after his days-long jaunt to the underworld (and relieved that her vary-pregnant eldest sister was not here to hear about this)—but she still wasn't quite sure what he was on about. Sure, vanquishing was exhausting most of the time—but Chris looked rough, and what had he meant by "fighting nature?"
There was a brief pause. "I'm glad you're alright." Paige began, looking over at her nephew. "But I don't quite know what you mean—what does that have to do with Leo?"
Chris gave her a confused look for a moment. "Sorry, sometimes I forget that you guys have only had your powers for a few years in this time." He admitted, and he pulled the nearest pillow towards him and clutched it against his stomach. "And I guess since you and mom and Aunt Phoebe are still the power of three, you haven't really experienced it yet."
Paige raised an eyebrow, still confused and perplexed.
She had no idea what he was talking about.
Chris continued to explain. "Being half-whitelighter has its downsides." He stated, letting out a long breath. "The whole "pacifist" thing isn't just a philosophy, it's part of a whitelighter's very being, and it effects us too." Chris said, gesturing between himself and his aunt.
Paige let out a soft "oh" before he continued.
"That's one of the many reasons some would say we shouldn't exist. A witch's job is to vanquish and fight but that goes against the core of a whitelighter's natural impulses." He paused. "Which is why when I try to ignore the pacifist genes and go on a big vanquish, there are always consequences…like this massive, throbbing headache."
The woman's eyes widened as he spoke and she continued to stare at him, perplexed. Truth be told, this wasn't something she had thought about very much recently—sure, she knew that she was half-whitelighter, but she had never felt all that different from her sisters and had fully embraced her wiccan duties over the last few years.
But, she reminded herself, Chris was more like her than Piper or Phoebe would ever be. Aside from Wyatt (who could not talk yet, let alone discuss their plight), they were the only ones of their kind. Ever. She was surprised that she had never taken the opportunity to talk to him about this before. She had definitely thought about it right after they had discovered that he was half-witch, but life had been so chaotic, and the opportunity had never arisen.
Paige didn't want to push him when he was clearly feeling so unwell, but her curiosity had been peaked.
"Interesting." She mused, looking at the young half-breed in front of her. "But I have to say I haven't really experienced that myself. I vanquish demons right alongside Piper and Phoebe, and I've never really felt any resistance or consequences."
Chris gave her a knowing smile. "Yeah, we used to talk about this in the future." He stated. "You told me that when you were a charmed one, it was way easier to overcome the desires of your whitelighter side—I guess the power of three was enough to trump biology. But after mom and Phoebe…" The young man trailed off as a flicker of pain crossed his face. There was no doubt that he was recalling an unpleasant memory, but he quickly recomposed himself. "Once you were on your own, and the power of three was broken, you had the same problem that I do." He paused again. "And even now, you can feel it a bit. Your powers aren't as naturally aggressive, and orbing into the underworld takes way more effort than orbing anywhere else, right?"
The young woman nodded slowly as he spoke. His last statement was, indeed, correct. While her telekinetic orbing could be very handy in a fight, it was not a straightforward offensive power like, for instance, blowing things up…or even regular telekinesis. And he was right about orbing into the underworld—it drained her more than most things and she had noticed that her head always seemed to scream at her to get out any time she was there. Paige had assumed, however, that would be true of any non-demon. But, if Chris was correct, then maybe it was actually part of her unique heritage.
"Wait," She began, leaning forward in her chair as a sudden thought struck her. "Why don't you have telekinetic orbing too?" She asked. "Regular telekinesis isn't a very passive power."
Chris gave another small smile. It was a relief to see it, despite his current state.
By way of an answer, the young man held out his hand and nodded towards a small metal bowl across the room. Seconds later, it materialized in his hand in a swirl of blue orbs.
"That comes way more naturally." He explained, placing the bowl down on the couch beside him. "And that was the only way I could do things for years, but I was determined to figure out how to do it without the orbs. I only really got the hang of it about three years ago, after a decade of trying." He paused, "It's still not as easy—and when I do it too much, I pay the price."
Paige nodded again. That made sense, she mused, and she reminded herself that Chris had grown up with his magic while she had only discovered her powers about three years ago. He'd had way more time to unlock his full potential. "Will I be able to do that too?"
"Yeah." He replied, nodding back. "But it will never come as naturally for you either." The young man let out a bitter scoff. "Like I said, we have our fathers to thank for all of that. Enjoy your consequence-free fighting while you still can."
Chris gave another wince of pain as he closed his eyes and there was a long pause before Paige spoke once more.
"But things are going to be different this time." She blurted out, unable to resist. "Once we stop Wyatt from turning, your mom and Phoebe will be okay too and the power of three will live on. Which is good for me, I guess…though I suppose that doesn't help you or Wyatt very much…" She trailed off, feeling selfish for thinking of her own exemption first.
Perhaps being a Charmed One protected her from the consequences of her nature, but that did not apply to her nephews.
"First of all," Chris began, opening the striking green eyes that proved his link to their former whitelighter. "Wyatt is the 'twice-blessed' and, for some reason, none of this ever effected him either. He never had any problem fighting…unfortunately. And yeah, hopefully the power of three won't be dissolved quite so early, for all of our sakes, but…" Chris hesitated, looking straight at his Aunt. "You're still going to be the last one standing. Like it or not, you'll just be a regular witch-whitelighter like me one day. And trust me, it sucks sometimes."
"Okay, I know I'm the youngest so maybe I'll be around a bit longer, but who really knows." Paige stated, surprised to see the boy's eyes widen as she spoke.
She had a feeling that she was missing something and she could see him hesitate again before he continued.
"Oh god, you haven't figured it out yet, have you?" The young man muttered, looking down at the attic's old Persian rug. "Crap. I'm sorry…I shouldn't…"
"Chris, what is it?" She pressed, suddenly feeling unnerved by his reaction.
What didn't she know?
Based on the current expression, it was something rather important. She didn't want to push him, and understood that certain information could compromise the future. But that did not change the fact that she was dying to find out what he meant.
Chris let out a long breath.
After another tense pause, he finally relented.
"You and I—and Wyatt—" Chris began slowly, looking up to meet her gaze. "Strictly speaking, we're not human."
Despite herself, Paige let out a laugh. She had been worried for a moment, but clearly his exhaustion had got the better of him. "Haha, very funny." She replied, amused and relieved. "Of course, we're human, don't be ridiculous."
But as she starred at his serious expression, her own smile began to fade.
"I'm not joking." He said softly before repeating his earlier assertion. "We're not human. We have human mothers, but that's not enough."
Paige felt her heart rate increase, and she tried not to let the implications of his statement fully sink in. It was just too…weird.
"I mean…whitelighters are kind of human too, right? Humans who got a second chance to live and help others."
"Whitelighters were human once." Chris corrected, his face just as stony as before. "But the human version of my father died sixty years ago. And yours, before that. Their bodies were long gone by the time we were conceived." The boy gave a small shudder at the thought and Paige completely understood how weird of a thought that was. She had always tried not to dwell on it herself. "When people become whitelighters their soul is given a completely new vessel—they can still take on their most familiar form, and most do, but nothing about their physical bodies is human anymore. They are composed of light, not matter."
Paige, who had been holding her breath as he spoke, let it out in short spurts. She hoped that she did not appear too panicked, but this conversation had taken a turn she had not expected and she was struggling to process this new information. Chris was right—of course he was right—and she supposed a part of her had already known what he was saying. But she was kicking herself for not looking into this before. In all this time, she had hardly done any research on that side of herself and she had never paused to think about the implications of what her parents had done when they had boldly disobeyed the rules.
She was happy to have the ability to orb and, aside from that, she had seen herself as a fairly regular witch.
"So…what about us then? How do we even exist if our parents are entirely different species?" She paused. "That shouldn't be possible, right?"
Chris shrugged. "Maybe we shouldn't exist." He muttered darkly. "But I suppose the only answer is "magic."" The boy paused again. "I probably shouldn't tell you this," he mused softly, "but if we change the future I suppose it won't happen anyway…and you deserve to know sooner rather than later. I thought you did already…"
Paige waited, her heard still pounding with anticipation.
"Wyatt was kind of obsessed with all of this," he began, his tone darkening. "After he took over he forced a team of scientists to study us—well, me, actually. He wouldn't put himself in a vulnerable position and you were in hiding."
The woman tried, unsuccessfully, to picture her oldest nephew as a sadistic ruler who forced his own brother into becoming a lab rat. She hated the thought, but it did not stop her from hanging onto Chris' every word.
"Anyway, he made the mortal scientists assess everything they possibly could. Not surprisingly, all of my tests were unlike anything they had ever seen— since I can orb, it's no shock that light is infused with every molecule of my being and prevents me—us—from being subject to human laws of nature."
Paige nodded slowly, trying to follow along. Orbing was definitely a unique trait, and she could see how it implied a very different molecular structure. But she still wasn't sure what impact that would have.
Thankfully (or not) her question was soon answered.
"Light has regenerative properties." Her nephew continued, a sad smile brushing across his face. "Which seems to mean that, once we reach maturity, we stop aging." The boy closed his eyes once more and drew a long breath as he leaned back into the couch. "You can imagine how thrilled "Lord" Wyatt was when the scientists concluded that whiteligher hybrids are immortal."
Paige could not stop her mouth from dropping open.
The word rang through her head with a jolt and she starred at her nephew in wide-eyed shock. Perhaps she had been foolish, but she had definitely never considered that possibility. Sure, she knew that whitelighers did not age, but she had never stopped to apply that rule to herself. So far, her life had seemed fairly normal in that regard and she had assumed that she would continue down a regular path. She had envisioned a husband and children—growing old with her family and gradually passing the torch to the next generation.
But, if what Chris was saying was correct, this changed everything.
It felt as if the carpet had been pulled out beneath her and her head spun as she tried to process this unexpected information.
"I…how…I mean, that can't be right." She stuttered, looked at her nephew hopefully. He had never been much of a joker, but she hoped that he had uncharacteristically planned this prank.
Unfortunately, that did not seem to be the case.
"I'm sorry." Chris said softy as he looked towards her. She could tell that he truly was, and that he understood more than anyone else could. "I wish it wasn't true either, but it is." He paused. "The last time I saw you—which is technically twenty years from now—you looked exactly the same as you do now. I'm not sure when you figured things out back then, and maybe I shouldn't be telling you now, but if I was you I'd want to know."
Slowly, she nodded in agreement. "Yes." She agreed, a slight quiver in her voice. "I suppose it is better to know."
At the moment, she wasn't entirely sure of her own statement, but she supposed that once the shock of this revelation wore off she might see things a bit differently.
"You could have changed things for yourself, but you didn't." The woman blurted out as a sudden thought occurred. "You could have been human, could have been normal, but instead of letting Piper stay with Greg you helped get her back together with Leo."
For a moment, she could not read the expression on the young man's face and she wondered if she had finally gone too far with her questioning. The topic of his father was a touchy one, and the circumstances around his conception had been tense and stressful for her nephew.
Thankfully, the boy let out a small laugh. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind." He admitted with a smirk. "I spent most of my life wanting to be normal—even at magic school, I was an outcast for being a half-breed and there are obviously a lot of consequences that go along with it. Plus Leo was never…but anyway," he paused, letting out a deep sigh. "I figured I wouldn't really be me if I messed with all of that, and if I wasn't half-whitelighter I wouldn't have been able to come back to save Wyatt. And that's more important than anything else right now."
Paige could see his point and for the umpteenth time she was impressed by the young man's selflessness. As they now knew, he had given up so much to be here and, she now realized, he had even sacrificed his one chance at a normal existence.
"If I don't stop Wyatt, he'll be in power indefinitely. That makes everything even more important."
"Wow, Chris." The Charmed One whispered softly. "I had no idea. I wish we had known…"
The boy shrugged once more, his familiar stoic mask appearing on his face.
"It's fine." He said, trying to sound indifferent. "But do me a favour, Aunt Paige—don't tell mom any of this yet. She's already under enough stress."
"What about your dad?" Paige asked, once again speaking before thinking it through.
Chris scoffed, a frown reappearing on his face. "Leo knows. He's always known. In fact, every elder and whitelighter knows our fate—that's why they didn't want us to exist. What happens to Wyatt in my time is a perfect example of the dangers of combining two powerful beings and creating an immortal whitelighter with wiccan abilities." He paused, scowling. "Leo knew what could happen. He knew we wouldn't be human. But he didn't tell you, or mom…or his own sons."
There was no attempt to mask the bitterness in his tone and, for the first time, Paige could understand some of the resentment he felt. This information was all new to her, but she was already annoyed that both her father and Leo had not sat her down and told her what being half-whitelighter truly meant. It seemed to cruel to let her go on thinking that she could have a mortal life when that was, apparently, not the case.
Before she could speak again she watched her nephew wince as another wave of pain hit. In her shock, she had nearly forgotten what had brought him here in the first place.
"Can I bring you anything?" She asked gently as she leaned towards him. He had closed his eyes again and was clearly trying not to let the extent of his physical pain show.
It was clearly worse then he was letting on, and she was not keen to experience such a state herself, no matter how far in the future that may be.
"No." He said, reluctantly opening his eyes. "The only thing that helps is going "Up There" for a bit, but I am not in the mood to face those judgemental assholes." The boy declared, looking up at the ceiling. "Trust me, I've already had enough lectures about giving into my inner pacifist to last an immortal lifetime."
Paige could tell that he was trying to be strong and make light of the situation, but it was equally clear that the current circumstances brought him both physical and mental anguish. He reminded her so much of his mother and he had seen the same look of stubborn defiance a million times before. But, unlike his mother, Chris would never truly be able to sever his ties with the powers that be.
Like it or not he was, in fact, one of them. Doomed to live out his very long life at their mercy.
"Don't worry." He continued reassuringly at his concerned aunt. "I'll be back to my angelic ass-kicking self in no time." Chris smirked. "I'm a walking oxymoron."
Despite herself, Paige game him a small smile. Angelic ass-kicker. She liked that thought, and she was proud of her nephew for standing strong.
"Alright then." She conceded, "I'll give you a bit of peace. I'll be downstairs if you need anything."
As she stood up from her chair she watched Chris nestle further into the couch, his eyes closed once more.
"Thanks, Aunt Paige." He muttered, settling in for a much-needed rest. "I'm sorry about all of this, but I'm glad that you'll always be there."
Although her mind was still spinning, the young woman smiled back.
She was glad too.