Definite spoilers for Season Six, including the finale.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, not even the words - only the order in which they were placed.
That said, the idea is all mine, to the best of my knowledge. You can try suing me if you want, but due to my status as a poor University student who, aside from some archaeology texts, has less than nothing, you could very well end up owing me money! …Hmm, on second thought….
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This idea has been banging around in my head ever since I saw the Season Six finale. I blame it on my status as a Sci-Fi Geek who spends too much of her time pondering the intricacies of possible time-travel. I am not, however, a theoretical physicist - I'm an archaeologist-in-training - so don't expect any giant leaps or revelations!
Personally, I thought Chris's ultimate fate was rather anti-climatic and didn't really do the character (or the actor) justice - in this story, Chris survived, and thus it is AU. This takes place right after Little Chris is born.
This ended up longer than I had originally intended, and I'm not sure if I have the characters (ie. Chris and Leo) down completely, but all in all I'm happy with the way it turned out. I very rarely write in first-person perspective, and this is my first attempt at a Charmed fic. Those are my excuses, and I'm sticking to them!
I apologize for the formatting, the site doesn't seem to want to let me do what I've ALWAYS done before - go figure! So I tried to make do, hopefully it's not too difficult to read.
And with that out of the way, I hope you enjoy it, let me know what you think!
WHATEVER IT TAKES
We were in the attic, Dad and I, getting ready to activate the portal. I handed him a vial of potion. My aunts were with Mom and…Mini-Me, I guess I would call him, back at the hospital. I kept trying to tell them I could take care of myself, I didn't need an escort back to the future, but they had insisted, all of them. And there was no way I could insist without telling them the whole truth. If they found out the truth, I knew they'd do everything they could to keep me here. And I couldn't stay here, not anymore.
I figured the only way to save my future…to save my brother…was to go back in time and stop whatever - whoever - had turned him evil. And I had succeeded, I was sure. But to keep him on the right path, to stop all of this from happening again, I had to do one more thing; probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. And no doubt the hardest thing I ever will have to do.
I pushed the negative thoughts to the back of my mind - they wouldn't help the task at hand.
My father, or at least this version of him - the one I hoped would still be around in the next twenty-three years, for Mini-Me's sake - turned to me.
"Ready to go? For real this time?" he asked with a nervous smile.
I returned the gesture, making sure I had the correct vial in my hand. The second was securely in my other palm, kept hidden in the pocket of my pants. I'd made them when Dad went to visit Mom and the just-born me. I suppose I could have gone back then and avoided this problem altogether, but I hadn't. At the time I'd told myself that Leo, being stubborn, would go into the future anyway, to be sure I was safe, and that he could create a new set of time-travel related problems.
But the truth was, I felt I owed him more than that. I had said my goodbyes to everyone else, but assuming he'd be escorting me, Dad had held back. I couldn't leave like that, without him there, even if I ended up deceiving him in the process.
He waited expectantly. I took a look around the attic, wanting to remember it as it was. Even with the broken furniture, hastily swept to the corner, it was still better than what I was going back to - no, I would not think about that.
I glanced at the book on its stand, opened to a specific page. I would give him that much. If he put two and two together, maybe they could eventually figure it out.
"Let's go," I finally managed, stepping towards him. He nodded, and raised his hand, ready to throw his potion at the portal.
"No!" I called out, a little too loudly - and quickly. At his questioning glance, I held up my own hand and the partially obscured vial. "Let me. You can use yours to get back."
He gave me a "whatever" shrug and lowered his arm. I tried not to sigh too loudly as I drew back my arm and let fly the vial, praying he wouldn't notice the abnormally lighter shade of the potion. The portal brightened intensely and expanded.
As one, my father and I stepped through.
We arrived suddenly on the other side, startling the demon guard out of his chair. Before he had time to react, I'd flung him across the room and into the wall - he wouldn't be getting up for awhile. Quickly, I scanned the room, noting that there had only been one guard…strange, I would've thought he'd be more paranoid now than ever.
Dad looked around the room, too, but for different reasons. The attic had a distinctly evil feel to it, and the demon hadn't helped that too much.
Before he could say anything, I quickly grabbed his arm and pulled him into a fierce hug - this was the last time I would ever see my father, I was sure of it. "You have to go now, Dad," I told him as I let him go, his expression was clearly that of confusion. I pulled the concealed potion from my pocket and held it up for him to see - it certainly didn't look right, not to him.
He was even more confused now. "What the hell is…." He broke off as we both heard someone enter through the doorway.
"Aw, isn't this touching," the dark figure intoned, amusement in his voice. I knew now why there had only been one guard.
"Wyatt?!" Dad exclaimed, causing my brother to falter. I, too, was surprised he could recognize his oldest son after twenty-three years had aged him, but didn't allow it to distract me.
"Dad," I said more urgently, "You have to go. Now."
Wyatt grinned wickedly. "Go? Go where? Stay awhile." He wandered over to where his guard was lying, shaking his head, his amusement growing.
I was sure then that Wyatt hadn't noticed the vial in my hand. And I meant to keep it that way.
"Chris, what is going on?" Dad demanded. Looking into his eyes, I could sense the nervousness, the hint of fear. He was no doubt mirroring my own emotions.
We both turned at the same time as Wyatt unleashed a bone-chilling laugh. "I'm guessing, by the look on Daddy-dearest's face here, that you weren't expecting me. Tell me, Christopher," his demeanor turned serious, "What did you honestly expect? Smiles and rainbows and birds singing in the trees?"
When we said nothing, he gave the hint of a smirk and continued. "You should know by now that your plans to save me will not work, they've never worked. There's nothing to save me from!"
At that, he started to pace - a move he knew made those around him nervous. But so far he had made no threatening moves towards us, something that made me even more nervous.
Dad was still having a hard time accepting this reality, and I understood why. He had thought only hours ago that his oldest son was safe, was good. And yet here he was, watching that same son in all his sickening glory. He needed to know that everything would be alright, for him at least.
This gave me an idea. Mustering all of my acting ability, I covered my face in fear. The fear itself was real, but after years of learning to keep it form my brother, showing it was the more difficult part.
"Wyatt, please," I began, allowing my voice to quaver just a little, "He doesn't understand. Let me at least explain, so he doesn't do anything he'll…regret…later."
I thought I saw a hint of suspicion cross my brother's face, but then it was gone. He smiled in that disturbing way he had, using only his eyes, while his lips remained hard as stone. "You truly are pathetic, Chris. You could have been so much more…" he trailed off.
This time, he did move his lips in a grin, but this expression was no less disturbing. He gestured to our father. "Very well, explain to him the lengths at which you went to betray me."
I turned to my father, quickly, noting the glare he shot towards his eldest son. I was thankful Wyatt hadn't come any closer after inspecting his guard - there was a slight chance I could say what I needed to without him figuring out what I was doing, if I was fast enough.
I opened my mouth to start speaking when I heard my brother call out, an amusing lit to his voice. "Oh, Chris?" I turned and his voice lost its amusement. "If I heard one word of that spell," he needn't say which one, "Or so much as see that portal twitch, you," he pointed to me…then slowly swung his arm across so it was pointing straight at Dad. "Die."
I nodded quickly, still acting the part - although it was barely an act. But I couldn't help feeling somewhat relieved - Wyatt still hadn't seen the potion, and still thought the spell was needed to activate the portal. He didn't know things had changed, that the spell would never work again, not here. I still had a chance to pull this off. Tossing a vial took less time than chanting a spell.
"Dad, listen to me," I whispered. "It's alright, everything will be alright. I did what I needed to do, the future is preserved." He was about to say something but I cut him off. "You have to trust me, Wyatt is safe."
As I spoke, all my previous thoughts and doubts - my fears - about returning, knowing what I was facing, came rushing back. I felt pinpricks in the corners of my eyes. Dad noticed, I could tell, but I would not let the tears fall. Even as a whisper, I heard my voice go hoarse as I said, "This isn't real anymore. I'm not real anymore."
The expression on his face changed, and I saw that he was beginning to get it. Not everything I had said and done, but he was beginning to believe me about the future.
Before I could stop him, he demanded, concerned, "What did you do, Chris?"
I cringed. It was too loud. Wyatt had been watching us, but his amusement had turned to suspicion. "Enough!" he commanded. He started across the floor.
Now or never,I told myself. As fast as I could, I spun and fired the vial. It hit dead-center, and in an instant the portal activated. My father turned in surprise, my brother faltered. I used Wyatt's momentary hesitation to grab Dad by the arm and all but throw him towards the blinding light.
"The future is safe!" I shouted, just before he crossed the threshold. I heard Wyatt rush up behind me, yelling in anger. I felt a momentary sense of satisfaction.
That feeling quickly abated, however, as I felt an invisible force pick me up. And the next thing I knew, my body was slammed against the far wall. As I fell, I just missed being impaled on a broken hook of some old piece of furniture.
On the floor I could barely move, fighting to stay conscious. I watched as some unheard, unseen signal brought a small legion of demons shimmering into the attic. I raised my head just enough to see my brother's face, a twisted combination of anger and amusement - he found amusement in almost anything - playing across his features.
"Happy Birthday, Chris."
"The future is safe!"
That was the last thing I heard as I was flung, literally, through the portal. I took a moment for the shock to wear off, and the panic to set in. My son - my sons - were still in that horrible future. Wyatt was evil, and Chris…Chris….
I fell to my knees. I was confused, scared, unsure. Chris said the future - Wyatt - had been saved. Even when facing that creature I refused to accept as my oldest child, my youngest had insisted. What was I supposed to do now?
I glanced down and noticed a faint raised outline in the pocket of my pants. I stood up quickly and pulled the vial out. I could go back. I could go back and save Chris.
It would only be enough to get me there, though - I needed to make enough to get us back.
I flew across the room to the Book of Shadows, wanting to make sure I still had enough of everything. The book was open to a page I didn't recognize. I was just about to flip to the page we'd recently updated when the title of the current page registered in my brain. "Fathers of Time."
I had no idea who had opened the book to that page…didn't remember seeing it when I had returned from the hospital to take Chris back home…and then I paused.
Now I remembered. I had walked toward the portal while he had gathered the vials of potion. Before I turned away, I saw him fingering the pages of the book. He must have opened to this page before joining me and handing me the vial….
The vial. I held it up to eye level, scrutinizing. Chris had made more than necessary, if he was able to send me back without using this one. Why? A precaution?
Another memory. Chris insisting, only a short while ago, that he open the portal, that I save mine so I could get back. But there had been no point, Chris could have easily opened it himself from the other side, just like he had done. I didn't like where my thoughts were going.
I took another look at the book. I knew of the Fathers of Time, all Elders did, but I had personally not had any contact with them. Something told me I had to change that.
I took a moment to recall where they dwelled, and in a shimmer of blue and white I had left the attic.
In an instant I found myself standing in a vast, circular room, walls so high I couldn't see the ceiling…if there even was one. The walls and the floors themselves were odd, as if they couldn't decide which colour they wanted to be. I watched as irregular, multicolored patches of white, faded gold and reds, and pale blues and greens continually merged into one another with no discernible pattern - the changes were so slight that I didn't even realize they had changed until after it was done.
I could sense their presence before I saw them, with good reason. To my left, what I thought was a wall was really a massively high bench or panel. And behind it, sitting or standing - I couldn't tell which - were five immense beings. I was an ant among giants.
I backed up as much as possible in the massive room, and I still felt pain in my neck as I craned to get a better look at the beings. The first thing I noticed were the robes they wore - each was garbed solidly in one of the five colors that made up the ever-changing mosaic on the walls and the floor. But that seemed to be the only defining characteristic. All five beings themselves were identical.
All of a sudden they spoke, moving left to right across the panel.
"HE IS AN ELDER--"
"--HE SEEKS ANSWERS--"
"--STATE YOUR REASON FOR BEING HERE."
It was difficult at first to follow. When a new one spoke, their monotonous voices bled into one another, making it sound like one long, interrupted sentence. I learned quickly, though, by following the change in tone. Each being had another identifying characteristic, other than the robes: their voices where all a slightly different pitch.
"I've come about my son," I stated loudly, hoping my voice would carry high enough to be heard. "Chris--"
"Yes," I answered lamely. I didn't know if this meant Chris had been here, or if they merely knew about him because of their knowledge of the matters of time. Gathering my courage once more, I asked, "Do you know him?"
"WE ARE AWARE OF THIS BEING--"
"--HE IS TO BE COMMENDED ON THE BRAVERY OF HIS ACTIONS--"
"--FOR WHAT PURPOSE DO YOU COME, ELDER?"
"He was here?" I tried not to hope too much.
I'm not sure which of the five beings answered, and in fact I had stopped trying to keep track. Right now I was too focused on finding answers about Chris, about his insistence that the future had been saved when I had witnessed firsthand that evil time. And answers to why my son had not seemed surprised at all.
At this point, I didn't care if they saw me, and Elder, pleading; I was a father right now, a father who had left his youngest son to face off with his evil, no-doubt more powerful brother. "Please, tell me why he came to you."
They sat stoically for several long seconds, staring down at me, not so much as twitching. I felt the life start to drain out of me as I realized they weren't going to grant my request. But then….
Hope returned quickly, and I barely registered that all five beings had spoken together this time. I waited expectantly for them to speak, for their words to glide together in that fascinating and disturbing way.
Instead, they silently lifted their eyes to look straight forward, way above my head. As one, they each raised their right arms, ramrod straight, so that their hands - palm-out and fingers splayed - came level with their shoulders. While they did this, a ripple began to form in the air directly in front of me, grabbing my attention.
I focused now on the ripple as it grew, but not failing to notice that the five giants behind the panel remained as they were, their right arms outstretched, still as statues. The feature in front of me stopped growing and shaped itself into a rounded square only slightly taller than I was.
An image appeared in the ripple just as I was about to ask what was going on. My heart caught in my throat - it was Chris. He stood before the same five immense beings who were now dwarfing me. He was wearing the same clothes I had seen him in only an hour ago.
Suddenly, inside the ripple, I heard Chris's voice and began to watch what could only have been his own meeting with the Fathers of Time.
"You know why I'm here," Chris stated.
"So can you do it or not?"
There was a brief pause. Then, as one, they answered,
"Good," Chris stated. He started to pace as he thought out loud. "If this works, I'll have to make some modifications to the--"
"YOU ARE AWARE OF THE CONSEQUENCES?"
Chris stopped in his tracks and looked up at the beings, his expression hard as stone. "All too well."
"THEN YOU KNOW YOU MUST RETURN."
His features softened, showing what almost looked like defeat. When he spoke, it was so quiet it could hardly be heard. "I know."
"YOU RADIATE STRENGTH, CHILD--"
"--WHAT YOU ARE WILLING TO DO IS HONORABLE--"
"--YOUR COURAGE COMMENDABLE."
Chris took the compliments without pride. He merely molded his features into calm acceptance. That is, until he heard the Fathers' next words.
"WE WILL DO AS YOU ASK--"
"--WHAT SHALL WE RECEIVE IN RETURN?"
His face contorted into a look of disbelief; he gave a quick shake of his head. "What do you mean, in return?!"
"THE TASK YOU REQUIRE IS NOT SIMPLE--"
"--WE REQUIRE COMPENSATION."
His eyes went wide and he scoffed. "Are you serious?! You want payment?1"
The beings did not answer, they simply stared down at him, expectant.
Chris cupped his face with both palms and sighed. "Alright, look," he spread his hands. "Your payment is this: save the future."
There was pause. And then,
"TIME HAS NO MEANING TO US--"
"--WE ARE MERELY ITS KEEPERS."
"Yeah? Well look at it this way," he was obviously angry now, his voice had dropped significantly, sounded cold. "If you don't help me preserve this new future, then you just might cease to exist."
They didn't buy it. Together, they intoned,
Chris's patience was obviously waning as he resumed his pacing. "You may think that now, but I have a little newsflash for you: it's not!" He stopped moving and glared up. "You have the power, take a good look at my future, at Wyatt Halliwell's actions. In my time he was already scheming to destroy you, to control your power. It might take him awhile, but you and I both know he'll eventually succeed."
Chris lowered his voice, hoping to drive the point home. "If you don't help me, your little techno-color haven here will be destroyed, and so will you - or you'll become his puppet.
"I don't know what you think is worse, but I'm betting your interest in the outcome of the future just increased."
There was silence for several minutes. Chris fidgeted, obviously trying to resist the urge to pace while the beings took in his words, possibly debating in some unseen, unheard manner.
When they did speak, Chris visibly relaxed.
"--WE SHALL PERFORM THE TASK--"
"--YOU MUST RETURN THEREAFTER--"
"--ONCE MORE WE ASK YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE RISKS."
Chris was a mask, covered…almost. The slightest tinge of regret showed through. Quietly, he replied, "Yeah. I'll go back."
A brief pause. Then, together,
"IT IS DONE."
His eyes went wide. "What, already? That was…easy."
"IT WAS NOT--"
"--NEVER UNDERESTIMATE OUR POWER."
Chris held up his hands. "Never," he assured.
Suddenly, a tall, thin pedestal appeared in front of him, offering up a small black pouch. Hesitantly, Chris picked it up.
"SUBSTITUTE THESE AND YOU WILL FIND YOUR WAY BACK."
"Thanks," he said as he eyed the pouch in his hand. Looking up, he asked, "What is it?"
"YOU NEED NOT KNOW."
"Right," he responded quietly. He gripped the pouch tightly and looked back up. Solemnly, he stated, "Their future thanks you."
With that, Chris orbed away.
I watched as the ripple began to dissolve, even more confused than before. What had he had them do? And what did he mean by "their" future? It was his, too, wasn't it?
I turned away from the fading ripple and focused my attention upwards. The beings' outstretched palms slowly closed into fists and dropped as one, always straight. Only then did they look back down at me.
"What did he ask you to do?" I demanded, wanting answers instead of cryptic recordings.
"THE YOUNG BEING ASKED THAT HIS TIMELINE BE REMOVED FROM THE SEQUENCE--"
"--TO STAY AS IT WAS--"
"--WHILE YOURS WOULD CONTINUE TO EVOLVE."
I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach, I could hardly speak. "He…what?" I took a deep breath. "Why…why? He fought to save his future, only to go back to the old one?" I was in shock - I couldn't believe Chris would ever do that.
"ELDERS ARE NOT WELL VERSED IN THE DIFFICULTIES OF MOVING THROUGH THE SEQUENCE."
I looked up sharply, ready to object, but the next booming voice beat me to it, as if knowing what I was thinking.
"YOU KNOW WHAT IS NECESSARY--"
"--BUT THE INTRICACIES ARE BEYOND YOU."
I stood there, narrowed my eyes. "Explain anyway!"
"THE YOUNG BEING DID WHAT WAS NECESSARY TO DESTROY THE POSSIBILITY OF A LOOP--"
"--IF ALLOWED TO ALTER THE FUTURE OF EVENTS, THE YOUNG BEING WOULD HAVE NO REASON TO RETURN IN THE NEW FUTURE--"
"--ALL WOULD BE FORGOTTEN--"
"--THE PREVIOUS SEQUENCE OF EVENTS WOULD REINSTATE THEMSELVES--"
"--THE OLD TIMELINE WOULD PREVAIL ONCE MORE--"
"--THE YOUNG BEING UNDERSTOOD THIS--"
"--WITH THE OLD TIMELINE REMOVED FROM THE SEQUENCE, THE YOUNG BEING ENSURED THAT HIS ACTIONS WOULD REMAIN--"
"--THAT HE WOULD BE REMEMBERED--"
"--THE YOUNG BEING SACRIFICED HIMSELF TO THE OLD TIMELINE--"
"--SO THAT THE NEW TIMELINE WOULD PREVAIL--"
It took me several moments to find my voice - I thought I would pass out from the shock. Finally, I managed, "Thank you…" and orbed out as quickly as I could.
I sank to my knees as soon as I materialized in the attic. I couldn't believe it. My youngest son, the one who had been born this very day, had sacrificed everything to come back here so that he could save his brother and his future. It had been his single-minded goal for over a year. And when he finally accomplished that….
And when he finally accomplished that, the only way to preserve it was to go back to the hell he had come from. I couldn't help but wonder if he had only just realized it, or if he had known all along that he would have to go back. I couldn't bear the thought of him knowing this whole time…but I guess I would never know.
I had seen the look in Wyatt's eyes when he looked at Chris. Furious anger, murderous anger. "Chris…" I whispered, trying to suppress my imagination as it came up with bloody scenarios. I would not think of it. Chris would always be my son…but Wyatt? That Wyatt? He would just be a reminder of what my Wyatt would never become. That Wyatt was not my son.
As for that Chris…he would be a model for what I would aspire to raise my newborn son to be.
I finally found my strength and rose to my feet, determined. As I glanced to the table near the resting place of the Book of Shadows, my eyes fell on the now-empty black pouch. Picking it up, I closed my fist around it - it would serve as an appropriate memento to my son's sacrifice.
I placed it somewhere safe. Right now, there was somewhere else I had to be.
I was dragged up roughly from the floor, one of his lackey, no-name demons pulling me to my knees. He kept a twisted grip of my clothing just below the back of my neck, ready to use my own shirt against me if my windpipe proved a useful target. In a way, though, I guess I was grateful - I didn't want to give my brother the satisfaction of seeing me on my face. As I was held in position, a dozen more of his minions surrounded us.
"What did you mean," he demanded in a quiet voice - his most dangerous voice. The anger was rolling off him in waves.
"What?" I couldn't help the amused lit in my voice, despite the situation. Okay, so maybe I, too, found amusement in strange places - one of the few things we had in common. "About saving the future?" He just glared down at me. I tilted my head to the left. "You know, Wyatt? No wonder you'll grow up to be so caring and considerate, you're such a sweet baby!"
He clenched his jaw and looked away. Then suddenly, he let out a yell and swung back around.
The force of the blow as he backhanded me across the face nearly gave me whiplash. But I shook it off and calmly turned back to him - I would give him nothing. There was a light coppery taste in my mouth.
The angry expression had faded from his face, no evidence of his momentary outburst. But that was my brother - ever the chameleon. He had hid his true nature from all of us for half of his life, until he had had no need to.
"I'm truly very sorry about that, Christopher," Wyatt stated. If I hadn't known him as well as I did, then I would've believed his sincerity. "But you just don't seem to learn any other way."
I said nothing.
He shook his head, the ghost of a smile on his lips. Slowly, he began to circle me and my demon leash. "Chris, Chris, Chris…. What am I going to do with you?"
"Well," I began, knowing it was a bad idea but continuing anyway, "You could tell your evil buddy here not to hold on so tight. He's gonna leave a mark." Evil Buddy's only reaction was to twist the material even more.
"Why do you play these games, Little Brother? You're only digging yourself deeper. Soon, you'll hit your six feet." He paused, ever the one for drama, then continued, "I could help you fill that hole back up if you would just stop working against me." He had made another circle during his speech, and now Wyatt crouched down so he was even with me. "You know you can never win."
Two could play at the acting game. I feigned defeat and hung my head. "You're wrong. You'll never help me, not now."
"Chris," he began. He brought his hand under my chin and lifted, almost genly, forcing me to look at him. He titled his head, trying to look sympathetic and understanding - it was the one act he couldn't do well. "I think you underestimate my powers of forgiveness."
It took most of my control not to burst out laughing, no matter the circumstances. Instead, I answered, "No." Ever so slowly, I could feel my features molding into a grin. "You won't. Not when you find out that I've already won."
Wyatt's face hardened and he slowly stood to his full height. "What are you talking about?"
"Just what I told Dad," I answered. "I saved the future." I couldn't help it if my smirk was somewhat self-righteous, could I?
I knew my brother well, and he knew me. I could tell from his expression that he knew I was telling the truth, but he still didn't get it, just like Dad. However, he couldn't let his servants know he had lost control, so he chuckled.
"I must have hit you too hard, Chris. You're not making any sense!" He spread his arms wide and took a few steps back, to the center of the attic. "Look around you! For all your meddling, nothing has changed! I think it's about time you realized that you can't save the future, because this is what's meant to be."
"I didn't save our future, Wyatt. I saved his."
He blinked, clearly not getting it. I tried again. "You know your friends, the Fathers of Time, right? Well they didn't think a future on your short leash was all that appealing. They helped me out."
I swear I could hear the gears turning in his head. A few moments later, I knew he had figured it out - at least most of it.
"No," he replied, with as much conviction as he could muster. "No. We're still here, you're lying."
"Am I?" I felt the anger from his glaring eyes, and I fed off it. "You don't really believe that, Wyatt. You know the powers of the Fathers - even they have limits. They can't erase a timeline from the Sequence completely." I paused, allowing him to put the last piece into place for himself. Once his eyes betrayed that he had, I added, "But they can certainly remove one."
Wyatt looked as if I had slapped him - a combination of hatred, fear, and ultimate betrayal. He knew I was right, knew I was telling the truth, and his denial was dissipating. His demons murmured amongst themselves, then slowly began to turn to their master for direction. Evil Buddy loosened his hold on me, but kept me securely in his grasp. Fear, no matter what the situation, was still a strong, tight rope.
"That's right, Big Brother, we don't matter anymore. All that matters are the changes made to our past." I narrowed my eyes at him, the amusement gone; no matter our hatred, he was still my family, all that I had left. "What matters is that we saved you from Gideon."
I saw his eyes flash, and as quick as lightning he raises and arm and let loose and energy ball - toward the opposite end of the attic. Amid the explosion and splintering wood, I heard his harsh words, "I saved MYSELF!!"
He took a calming breath and turned back towards us - a small legion of confused demons and one wide-eyed brother. His hand, still held up, closed into a fist and he gazed at it as if it were the most magnificent thing in the world. "After I took his powers."
That's when I finally figured it out. Realization dawned on me as subtly as a freight train. To escape Gideon, my brother had preyed on his powers, most certainly out of self-defense. I was never told, probably because no one wanted me to know what my - at the time - beloved brother had done.
Wyatt clung to power like a security blanket, I could see that now. Learning at a very young age that taking powers could protect him, he had set out to siphon as much as he could, not caring what, or who, stood in his way. His claims of not being of any morality, good or evil, now made more sense to me.
I never truly believed that my brother had turned evil, not completely. His desire for power, for security, had simply taken over his existence. And Wyatt had learned that evil was the fastest way to get that security.
He trained his eyes on me. "You didn't know that, did you, Christopher?" he asked, as if reading my mind. "They didn't want to corrupt your feeble mind."
"I…look," I said, trying to push my new revelation to the side. "There's no point to any of this anymore. We don't matter. None of this will ever evolve past this point."
He didn't appear to be listening. Instead, he kept on with his speech. "They didn't want you to know, and I didn't, either. I didn't want you to know that I had been so weak as to allow and Elder - and ELDER! - to take me."
"Wyatt, you were two."
"Not even, but still, not the best track record for the most powerful being in existence." Once again he crouched in front of me, and he placed a hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently. I saw sincerity in his eyes, and this time, for some reason, I didn't doubt it. "You were always closer to me than anyone else, Chris. We have the same blood, the same essence, flowing through our veins." He paused and just started at me, that sincerity seeming to burn a hold through me.
It was unnerving.
"Why are you telling me this?" I asked. But I had a pretty good idea, already. There was only one reason why he would be this honest at this point.
He gave me a small - and dare I say it - sad grin, and ruffled my hair like I was still ten. Then he stood up and backed away several feet, never moving his eyes from mine. "Your powers were never mind because of the bond that we shared. But now," I watched, trying to control my fear, as an energy ball erupted from his palm, "You've betrayed that bond." He paused for a second, thinking, then called out, "Nateo!"
I felt the grip on my shirt loosen and let go as my now-named Evil Buddy - Nateo - moved away quickly. I was surprised. Wyatt was concerned about the fate of some low-level minion who's name he could barely remember? He mustn't be completely evil, after all.
I swallowed hard. I knew this might happen, had accepted the fact. But to be faced with it was a whole new scenario. I tried one last time, hoping my voice was steady. "You don't have to do this, Wyatt. You can change this! The future --"
"-- Is no longer mine," he finished. "Like you said, Chris…nothing will ever evolve past us, never move forward. No consequences…I have nothing left to lose." Okay, so maybe he had been listening.
I nodded slowly, accepting my fate, the fate I had brought about. "I saved it," I whispered quietly, with conviction.
He answered with a pained smile. "You did."
Suddenly, he closed his fist and extinguished the energy ball. I allowed myself hope for a few precious seconds, until I heard his next words.
"Excalibur!" he called, and the magnificent, powerful sword materialized in his hand.
I had always showed awe and reverence for the sword, and for my brother as he wielded it, practiced with it when we were younger. I had always been jealous, and he had always known.
I knew what Wyatt was thinking in his twisted mind right now: poetic justice. He may not be completely evil himself, there could still be some shred of good in him somewhere, but he had spent much of his life among pure evil. He had absorbed many of their traits.
My eyes saw him giving a bit of a show with his sword, probably for the benefit of his demons, but my mind was elsewhere. My time was almost up, a deadline imposed by my own brother. And even if I were to live, I had nothing to live for, literally - no new births, only death; when the last person in this timeline died, that would be it.
This timeline, the product of my own doing, had nowhere to go.
But at the moment, I didn't care about any of that. I had saved my family's future. And because of that, my life, his life - of the whole world - could only turn out better.
As I watched my brother raise his weapon, ready to end my existence, I did what he and his demons least expected.
I had done what I needed to do, what was necessary. The future was safe.