Title: Peanut Butter Super Hero
Summary: The girls, especially Piper learn more about Chris and his undercover demon contact missions
It was early; too early for a nightclub owner to be awake. But, as a pregnant nightclub owner an unavoidable and urgent bathroom trip had roused her from her bed. Since she was already up she'd decided to give in to the bizarre craving for peanut butter she was experiencing. In the kitchen she found Chris. Oddly enough he was sitting on the counter, eating toast smothered in peanut butter. Seeing his mother he sprung off his work space perch. "Hi Mom, you're up early. Want some toast?" he offered her the plate and remaining slice of peanut butter toast, which she accepted.
"I thought pregnant lady cravings were supposed to be inexplicable. You think this means they should make pickle and ice cream baby food?" Chris just smirked.
"Sorry, it's my favorite breakfast" Piper took a bite and smiled as her happy taste buds got what they wanted. The coffee pot gurgled and Chris poured himself a mug of the clearly strong, dark black liquid. He took a sip and looked back at his mom. "Want some tea?"
"That'd be nice" he put the kettle on and took another sip. "So what are you doing up at..." she glanced at her watch "6:08am?"
"Demon hunting, and then I had a meeting with a new Underworld contact. I just got back and decided to grab breakfast."
"Oh...Oh! And I'm eating your breakfast! I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it Mom. I'm the son of a talented chef; I have a complete mastery of making toast. I can make more. It's not like I'm Phoebe's son."
The kettle sang and Chris poured water into a mug for Piper. He turned back to give it to her, but in the process the cuff of his long sleeved T-shirt rode up a bit, revealing some kind of scrape on his wrist.
"What's that?" She grabbed Chris' hand and pulled up his sleeve. He tried to pull away but his mother wouldn't let this slide. There was no way Piper was going to ignore red marks circling his wrists, something had happened and she wanted answers.
"It's nothing; I'm fine" Piper forcefully used her grip on his hand to bring it close and inspect the damage. The skin around his wrist had been rubbed raw. Torn, shiny pink skin adorned with flecks of dried blood looked back at her.
"Yeah, nothing all right. Chris what is this? What happened?"
"It's a little rope burn, the demon last night wouldn't talk if I wasn't tied up. He's a little paranoid, but had some good information about Wyatt."
"Stay" Piper ordered, gesturing to the chair. Obeying, Chris sat down at the kitchen table while Piper retrieved the first aid kit. She dropped it on the table with a plastic clank and knelt in front of Chris. Gently she took his hand and began carefully cleaning his wounds. She spoke quietly, "You don't get abrasions like this just by being tied. Why were you struggling?" He wasn't lying, these were rope burns. Piper noted this as she removed threads from under broken skin. What kind of mother had to treat her son's rope burns? She shook her head and suppressed a grin. She knew she'd been hanging around her sisters too much when the dirty answer to that question popped into her mind.
Poor guy, Chris put himself in such danger. She'd known he dealt with demons and spent time in the underworld, but had no idea how serious these dealings were. "Well, they are demons so a bit of sadism is to be expected." Piper finished cleaning and pulled out the gauze and tape. Poor Chris was going to look like he was suicidal. Then it occurred to her that while not leisurely suicidal, he didn't value his life enough.
"Chris this is too dangerous, something really bad could happen to you if you keep this up. This is serious evil you're dealing with. Maybe Phoebe, Paige, and I should start helping out. You know we care about Wyatt too."
"No!" Chris bolted onto his feet, pulling the tape right out of Piper's hands. "You're the Charmed Ones, too high profile and too important." He sat back down, calmer after his sudden outburst. "I'm sorry you worry but while dangerous, these demon contacts are our best shot for figuring out what's going on down there, who has plans for Wyatt."
"So it's too dangerous for us but not you? Chris, I'm your mother. I'm supposed to protect you, not the other way around."
"I'm your whitelighter, protecting you is my job"
"Oh no pulling that card, you're a Halliwell son before any job." Chris smiled.
"It's not as dangerous for me. They don't know who I am, you're a Charmed One."
Piper knew she wouldn't win this one. "Just be careful" she sighed, releasing him from her first aid station. He looked down at his white bandaged wrists and then up at his mom. How many times in the years to come would she do this? Sure Wyatt got worse after "The Event" but there had been plenty of times growing up that the Twice Blessed Child had rough housed a little too roughly with his little brother. He had to spare his mother the future he knew.
"I will, I'm close, really close to saving Wyatt. After that then you won't have to worry anymore about me." Piper patted his shoulder.
"Oh I doubt that, I'm your mother after all." Chris flashed a smile, nodded, and orbed away. Piper sighed and picked up her tea.
Several days past, there wasn't much in the way of demon attacks and so it wasn't surprising they hadn't seen much of Chris. The sisters were all sitting in the living room when the familiar sound of orbing wafted in from the kitchen. Eagar to see her son Piper rocked onto her feet.
"Oh let me help you" Phoebe cooed as she got up from her chair, too late to help.
"I'm fine; I just want to see my son before he disappears again."
"He has been pretty heavy into his little side project the last few days." Paige added from where she remained sitting on the couch reading a magazine.
"And that's what worries me, all those meetings with demons- it's dangerous" Piper had rounded the couch with Phoebe in pursuit and was in sight of the kitchen.
There was Chris, sitting at the table with a sandwich and a glass of water. "Is that peanut butter?" asked Piper, startling her son. He blushed.
"I eat more than peanut butter" but there was something in his voice that worried Piper. Now that she was in the kitchen standing in front of him she could see he was pale and looked distracted.
"Oh Chris, what happened?"
"Nothing, I'm fine" he stood up but the world abruptly shifted to gray and his head swam. He tried to grab the back of the chair but was too dizzy to focus and missed. His weight shifted and he could feel his knees give out as he sunk to the floor. "Or not" he admitted.
Phoebe slipped under her nephew's arm and awkwardly pulled the tall young man back onto his feet. Piper took his other elbow to steady him and the three of them wobbly made it to the couch. Seeing the group Paige jumped to her feet and helped arrange the witch-whitelighter on the couch.
"You should have called me, I could have orbed him"
"Yeah, hindsight" grumbled Piper.
"It's nothing, really, I'll be fine" Chris was mumbling.
"No you're not!" Piper was becoming hysterical. Seeing this fear in his mother straightened Chris' mind a bit.
"I've been down in the Underworld, I missed a couple meals and I'm a little low on sleep, that's all really" he tried to smile reassuringly but everything was fuzzy so it was hard to direct a convincing smile.
Phoebe hurried back to the kitchen to use all of her culinary skill to nuke condensed soup. Piper sat next to her son and took his hand. The rope burns were fresh and a glaring angry red. They'd done it to him again.
"What happened down there, and what kind of host is this demon contact?"
"My contact is Mouri; he thinks I'm a demon, a Larrick. I'm supposed to feed off the screams of my victims."
"He thinks you're a demon?"
"Yeah, so I got busy and now I'm a little woozy. You don't have to worry Mom."
"You keep saying that, of course I'm going to worry. Look at what they've done to you."
Phoebe returned with soup and the rest of Chris' sandwich. "It's peanut butter, aren't you old enough for a big boy sandwich?" Chris rolled his eyes but gladly accepted the food. Piper couldn't help the grin that spread across her face.
"I like it" he mumbled, mouth full and looking down to avoid eye contact.
"Did the demon at least tell you what you wanted to know?" Paige asked
"I will after my meeting tomorrow"
"Tomorrow! I think not Mister. You're hurt, it's over."
"If I don't show he'll know I've betrayed him, and then hunt me down," Chris popped the last bite of sandwich in his mouth and attacked the soup.
"Chris, it's too dangerous. Look at what they've already done to you."
"I'm fine! I've been through worse." He shoveled the last of the soup into his mouth.
Apparently the Powers above agreed with Chris' argument. Phoebe moved to take away the empty bowl. But when her hand brushed his she was assaulted with a preminition. It was brief, Chris hanging by his ankles in a dark room. A wild haired blond turned a shining blade around his fingers. With his free hand the stranger gave Chris a swing and let out a low, evil chuckle. "Ah Chrissie, what am I going to do with you?" Then the vision was over. She didn't see details but no good could have come from that.
"What did you see?" both her sisters and nephew looked at her expectantly.
"Chris!" she hugged him. "Aww poor baby, that must have been awful Honey"
"What?" They all asked again
"A man, you were hanging, there was a knife, he called you Chrissie..."
"That, yeah, it's not important" he cut off her explanation quickly. He was trying to change that future. The less they knew about just how bad Wyatt became the better. "It's proof though, I've been through worse and am still here. I can take care of myself."
"But we're a team here, a force, we could help. You shouldn't do this alone."
"It's safer this way" Chris yawned and settled back on the couch. The stress educed adrenaline released its hold and Chris felt exhausted. "I have to save my brother" he mumbled and yawned again. He was asleep within minutes.
The sisters looked at the sleeping young man for a minute. Phoebe broke the silence before it turned awkward. "He's so cute!" she squealed softly. Her sisters rolled their eyes. Paige retrieved her forgotten magazine and Piper bent down and kissed her son's forehead before switching off the lamp.
As the sisters headed upstairs Paige couldn't stop her off handed comment, "Do you think Chris has ever slept in a bed?"
"What? Of course my son has slept in a bed"
"I just looked over, and you were being all motherly. So for some reason I remembered the Bianca thing, and then he lives at P3. He's like chronically crashing on the couch."
Piper might have taken offense at Paige's observation if Phoebe didn't interrupt with the disturbing comment, "Somehow he doesn't strike me as someone who cares about a bed. Besides, I'm sure he could get any number of women to share their bed with no trouble if that's what he wanted."
"Phoebe! He's family, he's my son!"
"We're all adults- I should be able to acknowledge my nephew is an attractive boy. We should be proud; it's a good reflection on our genes."
"Phoebe, that's just wrong"
"It's not like I'm attracted to him or anything. I'm just not such a prude that I can't admit Chris is cute."
"Please, please stop, this is just a conversation I do not want to have." Paige said hands up in surrender.
"I agree, I'm going to bed." Piper declared
"Good night you perve" Paige smiled
"Good night to you too"
The next morning had Chris out of bed as if nothing had happened. Piper came downstairs, the couch was empty. She looked in the kitchen and found it empty too. Knowing if he was still in the manor there was only one other place he would be she headed back up the stairs. Standing in the doorway of the attic she had located him just where she thought he would be. Chris was standing at the Book of Shadows, drinking coffee.
"No peanut butter?" she asked smiling to break the ice.
"Just coffee this morning, I'm looking to avoid more mocking."
"Oh we're just teasing you. It's funny, that's all. Why peanut butter of all things?"
Chris clearly was a little embarrassed. He sighed. "Wyatt, he put a spell on me when I was about 12, so for 6 months the only food I could taste was peanut butter."
"Nothing had any sort of taste except peanut butter. For about half a year there was texture but no taste. So I wound up with a pretty decent fondness for the stuff."
Piper was shocked. "Why would he do that, and why did I let you go on like that? I'm so sorry!"
Chris' eyebrows shot up, "Oh no, don't worry about it Mom. You didn't know. I knew if I told you Wyatt would never reverse the spell. He did it because he was sick of me being a Mama's boy." Chris smiled a little.
"You were a Mama's boy?"
"We cooked together and stuff." He smiled at the memory "Yeah, I was a Mama's boy"
"Oh, still just peanut butter? That's so crummy."
"Don't worry about it, it was just a silly little spell, No real harm done, it's no big deal."
Chris was just brushing off the event but Piper was pretty concerned. She was going to raise a child who would, right under her nose, would torment his little brother with magic. That little brother would suffer silently, not trying to get help from his family. What the hell happened in this future!
Chris could tell what he'd said was bothering his mother. "I came back to change him Mom. That's why I'm doing all this. With this latest contact I'm close. I'm going to change things." He glanced at his watch. "Gotta go, I'll see you later." And with that he orbed away.
Piper sighed; her younger son was so secretive and distant. She couldn't help but worry, especially after these last few days. This group he was working with now, it had to be dangerous. Chris was getting hurt. She sighed but her worried depressed thoughts were interrupted by the soft flipping sound of the pages in the book flipping. She turned and looked as the pages came to a stop. How long had it been since the book did that? She hurried over to read what page had been selected.
It was a spell, "By Our Bond". It allowed someone to be transported to someone they shared a bond with, "Such as a mother/son bond" thought Piper. She considered getting her sisters, the three of them could go off to wherever Chris had orbed off to and help him. But, he'd made a pretty could point about the notoriety of the Charmed Ones. Undercover was important to Chris' safety. But she just couldn't quiet her worries.
She sat down on the couch, looking down she couldn't help but see her pregnant belly. Chris was in there, he was her baby. She couldn't abandon her baby. Rocking onto her feet she tottled over to the shelf, picked up a few generic vanquishing potions and returned to the Book. On a piece of paper she left a note for her sisters "Went to help Chris, Love Piper". She left the note on the book and read the spell aloud.
Winds of North, South, East and West
Guide me on this vital quest
Where Chris has gone I must go
Whisked there in a golden glow
There was the golden glow she asked for and she felt a tingle. It wasn't like orbing but the release was the same dizzying feeling. She appeared in the Underworld, behind a rock. Chris was there talking with Mouri, his demon contact. There voices were low so Piper couldn't make out what they were saying. They were walking about, one of them nodding every so often. Piper was beginning to doubt Chris was in danger when Mouri stopped and loudly said "Oh no? I was under the impression that would be right up your ally" Piper couldn't hear her son's response but saw 3 blue skinned minions blink into existed. They began wailing on her boy. One of the minions grabbed a handful of hair and pulled. The demon kicked Chris in the knee, forcing him onto the floor. Happy with the progress being made disciplining one who dared to disobey him, Mouri left.
Piper was half a second away from fainting or vomiting. She desperately wanted to look away but couldn't. She was frozen in shock at the violence and brutality. Her brain yelled at her to lift her hands, use her powers. She had seen demon attacks, horrible things, but she couldn't snap out of this. She wanted to vanquish every last demon in the room, every last demon period. They were beating her baby. Chris was her baby, a baby she needed to protect. That was a mother's job and all she was doing was gaping open mouthed as a blue skinned creature drove a knee into Chris' face. She was flooded with the hurt and shame of failure but suddenly found herself able to move. She shifted her weight, raised her arms and prepared to charge her pregnant caboose out of her hiding place. A growl stopped her at the last minute. It wasn't a growl from a demon; this had come from her son.
His hand broke free and shot forward from under the crowd. All the demons crashed forcefully into the solid object nearest to them. Piper could hear cracks from their impact. The response was quick. Chris' attackers pulled themselves off the floor and started in on the young man again. There were three of them, all descending on the human. Chris showed no fear and even wore a little smirk. Chris used a graceful wrist flourish to knock the closest back against the wall and held him there. The demon was clearly struggling but couldn't move a muscle.
His friends could still move and charged the witch/whitelighter. Piper watched intently, amazed at what she was seeing. Chris was reviling another of his powers, like his Aunt Prue he astral projected. His head dropped back and he appeared behind them, kicking one square in the back he launched the unfortunate demon into Chris' own still form. The quiet Chris didn't fall with the force of impact, instead he shocked Piper and the demons by grabbing the blue wrist, twisting the arm behind painfully it allowed a free hand for Chris to pull out a red potion vile and smash it into the side of the demon's bald head. All that remained a moment later was foamy green pile.
While this went on with Chris' body the projection remained. He was able to split his consciousness. Chris had highly developed and focused powers. It shocked Piper he never showed them off. While the last demon was distracted by his associates' demise he realized he was in trouble. The demon pulled an anthme from his belt. Projection Chris quickly disarmed him though, sending the knife clattering across the room. The Chrises joined, grabbed the confused demon and pulled out another red potion. There were then two foaming green piles on the floor. The demon pinned to the wall was growling and struggling madly. "So sorry" Chris bent, picked up the fallen anthme and hurled it across the room, planting itself in the forehead of the demon. Chris released his hold and the lifeless shell of demon collapsed in a lump on the ground leaving a green trail on the wall.
Mouri appeared in the doorway. The vanquishing noises had drawn him to the scene. This was good because there could be no witnesses left to connect Chris to the information he'd gathered.
Good's true power
Shall make you cower
The time has come
Your use is done
So you of greedy heart
I command depart depart
Mouri fell to his knees and dissolved in fire, thoroughly vanquished.
Piper charged out and captured her son in a hug as the fire died. She couldn't believe what she'd just seen. "Oh Chris!" Chris pulled back.
"What are you doing here?" he asked confused
"I was worried after the last time, but now, wow! Chris, why didn't you tell us about your powers?"
"You weren't supposed to see them, you were supposed to just see them manifest in you know, mini-me." he gestured to Piper's bulge.
"I feel better though, that you can take care of yourself. Is that all you have- power wise?"
"You know I won't tell you"
Piper sighed, "It was worth a try, it'd be nice to know what I'll be up against with you two." Chris just smiled. He had a black eye but was in remarkable shape considering he had just taken out four demons alone.
"So you had this all under control. I'm so embarrassed."
"Yeah, I had the potions and the spell. I was just letting it play out."
"You make up that spell or was it in the book?"
Chris looked at the ground and blushed. "Me, I suck. I didn't inherit Aunt Phoebe's gift by any means."
"Don't feel bad about your poetry, Phoebe's written some clunkers in her day. All that really matters is they work."
Chris looked around the empty room. "We better go" he took her hand and orbed back to the manor. When the sensation died Piper turned to look at her son.
"So that's it?"
He looked confused. "Yeah"
Piper looked at him strangely, "You do this kind of stuff all the time don't you? That's why you're forever buried in the book and locked away up in the attic."
"Yeah, but you knew that already"
"Young man, I don't think any of us had any idea what your little missions involved. You just kicked serious demon butt, gathered important information, all that and you never even say anything about it?"
"You don't tell everyone about saving the world"
"At least I can talk to my sisters. Come on brag or something." Chris grinned.
"I don't brag, inferiority complex remember?"
"So what do you do?"
"I usually make myself a sandwich"
"Only after the really well done ones" he replied with a genuinely happy grin. Sure, he'd lost a secret but he'd gained some real bonding with his Mom. Something he longed for regularly. He also had some new information on an evil focusing on Wyatt, and things were looking up.