All My Sweet Tomorrows

Moist kisses amidst harsh breaths, his lips mashed against hers. It was a sensual dance as two bodies moved against each other in the flickering light of the bedroom. He nipped at her lobe and the wondrous kisses proceeded down her shoulder blades. She sighed as she felt his tongue blaze a trail down her arm. She gasped as she felt the warm breath on the skin of her stomach. As the light breeze cools the path his hot lips trekked on her body.

"Leo!" she gasped, her fingers tightening their grasp on his hair. He was driving her mad with love. She caught her bottom lip between her teeth as she slithered down to level her face with his. Slowly, she pulled his lips against hers. "Complete me," she whispered.

They moved simultaneously to join themselves, and every fiber of her being cried out in ecstasy. All along, his hands cupped her face. Together they sought the fulfillment only they could give one another. Lifetimes later she released the long held breath. From beneath tightly closed lids, a myriad of tiny stars burst in blinding white light. She swallowed his cry moments later, and they bathed in the afterglow wrapped in each other's arms.

His head pressed against the crook of her neck lifted suddenly, and her heart fell from the height it had been soaring. "Don't go."

"I'm sorry. I'll be back."

She pulled him to her once more for another deep kiss. "Hurry home."

"I will. Wait for me."

"You know I always do," she smiled at him.

His eyes were sad as he drank in the picture of her in bed, her hair in wild disarray, her lips bruised with passion, her very aura that of fulfillment. Mechanically he prepared to orb away but not before tightly embracing her, whispering a million I love you's in her ear. She turned to whisper it back to him but he had already vanished in blue lights.


Leo orbed into the bedroom, knowing what he will see but hoping against hope that this time, he would be wrong. His eyes met the same old sight-a neatly made bed, a note on the pillow. Leo took the letter in his hand and crumpled the piece of paper.

How much of this can he take?

How much of this before he becomes insane?

Leo closed his eyes as the blue lights carried him away to another mechanical journey he had undergone thousands of times before.

When he opened his eyes he is standing in a dark alley. As his sight adjusts to the lighting, he saw the shadow of a man bent over a sprawled body. He stepped forward. The man's head whips backwards. As soon as the man found Leo standing there, he leapt up to the roof of the two-storey building beside them. Leo's face was impassive as he forced his legs to move forward.

Falling to his knees, he whispered, "No," although he had fully expected to find her thus. He touched the still lips and traced her lids, that he would never see open again. Each life this happens, and every time he is paralyzed by the pain. He bent to brush his lips with the still warm and soft ones. His hand reached to cradle her head. A cold rush crept up his arm at the feel of the wetness at her head. He stared down at the blood that now covered his hand. Her life spilled on the dirty ground.

He took a deep breath and glared up at heaven. How many lives can he take? From afar he heard a cry of completion, and his mind registered that she had once more been conceived. Another two decades of waiting.

Leo turned his back on the body on the ground. The police have arrived, and he had hidden well. He watched silently as they took her away from the scene. The drizzle began to fall, and Leo stepped away from the cover of a protruding roof. He walked under the rain, and he felt it wash the numbness away.

With each step he took, reality set in deeper and deeper. She's gone again. The rain mixed with the tears on his face. There were no stars in heaven, no moon. The sky is overcast with clouds. Leo walked on and buildings and trees and lives passed at the sidelines, and he never noticed. Twenty five years of waiting. Twenty five empty years. When would he ever learn?


The cold drops of rain numbed his body as he trudged on, stepping in puddles and heedlessly crossing the streets. It did not matter to him that cars screeched into a screaming halt beside him. The shouted curses and raised fists did not disturb him. Leo was locked in his own world, vainly trying to stop that usual avalanche that suffocates him her lifetime after her lifetime.

As he had done scores of time before, Leo passed by that familiar old street. No amount of preparation can ready him for this. No amount of experience can make him unaffected by what was to come.

Time and time again he'd said he will fight the urge, but Leo turned to face the window of the old house. While to other passersby, it would appear patched with old wooden boards, Leo saw something else. He watched the scene unfolding before his eyes.

A cheery fire lit the room, and a little boy played with his new train. From the door to the right, a little girl burst in carrying a ceramic doll with pretty golden hair and moving blue eyes. The girl wanted to play with her brother, but the little boy was too intent on the story in his mind, and did not wish to be disturbed.

She entered the room the very same way she did five hundred years ago, so refreshing, so heartwarming and so lovely. An apron was tied around her bulging belly and her wonderful smile beat the hearth in warmth and radiance. He felt his chest tighten at the sight of her, a million times over missed, a billion times wept over. The intense urge to hold her in his arms again overwhelmed him, and he closed his eyes.

Jasmine. Her hair smelled of jasmine. Leo opened his eyes to see himself inside the room, his wife in his arms. It was raining outside, and he tightened his embrace around his pregnant wife. INot again,/I his mind screamed. IDon't let me go through this again./I But the moment she turned to look up to him, he knew he was lost.

Once again he was caught in this cruel game.

"Darling, I think you should talk to James. Melinda just wants a little of his time." Her voice was still the same. They were chords pulling at his heartstrings. Reluctantly he let her slip out of his embrace and he approached his son.

"Look, daddy! I'm gonna be an engineer."

"Yes, it seems so, Jim." Leo surveyed the tracks. His son had an orderly, practical mind. "This looks like a good, convenient path here."

"When I build my railroad, I'll have you and mommy and Mellie ride the train first with me."

Leo rumpled his eldest's hair and turned to wave his daughter over. "Can Mellie and I join?"

The boy's smile revealed a missing tooth. His father had offered to play with him. "Sure. Annabelle can join too."

Piper watched as Leo scooted beside James. He pulled Melinda down to sit beside him. Melinda tried to fit the big doll into the train, but Annabelle was obviously too large. "Annabelle can sit with us and watch and help design another track, Mellie. This one," Leo said, pointing to James' railroad, "is your brother's. Would you and Annabelle like to help me design another one? We'll have it cross Jim's."

Melinda nodded eagerly. "Yes, daddy!"

Piper took photographs of her family as they bent to work on the railroad. She stepped into the kitchen to fetch some muffins and juice. Leo thanked her as he placed the plate between Melinda and James. Piper was able to snap photos of Leo and Melinda intently connecting rails, James cleaning up the wheels and Annabelle sitting with that fixed pink smile. Another shot caught Leo as he looked up at the ceiling. With a sinking heart, Piper brought down the camera.


"I'm sorry."

"I know."

"I'll be back. Wait for me." Leo pressed a kiss on his children's foreheads and told them that this would be very fast. He stood up and kissed his wife's lips. Then he moved his mouth nearer to the arriving child to whisper to it.

Leo stepped into the kitchen and Piper watched as he orbed out.


The tracks were not in order anymore. Leo took in the sight. The train was derailed and the miniature trees have fallen on the rails. "Jim. Jim. Didn't I tell you to put back your stuff in the box?"

Leo stepped over the mess and yelled up the stairs. "Jim! Melinda! Piper!"

There was no answer. He glanced at the clock and saw that it was seven thirty. They can't be asleep. James never slept until he'd watched the run in Cartoon Network from Johnny Bravo until Popeye.

A blast of cold air against his back made him turn around. The door was wide open. He did not even notice when he orbed in. He walked over and saw that it had been smashed in. Heart madly pumping, Leo ran to the kitchen where the phone on the wall was hanging off the hook. There was nothing there that indicated a struggle, a fight. His eyes fell to his feet.

A pool of blood on the floor.

He could feel himself trembling. This was not real. This was a crazy nightmare devised to drive him to the brink of insanity. It began deep inside him, fighting its way up, struggling to get out. He was full to bursting with it, and he forced himself to keep it in. It was perfect. It was utterly perfect. Why did it have to come to this?

He felt the sting in his eyes and his hands came up to cover them. INot now. Not now. /I The moment he uncovered his eyes, he was once more standing under the rain, facing the boards that covered the window of his old home.

With a deep breath, Leo turned away from that life and walked on.

IInternal bleeding… went wrong… couldn't save… slipped away… rest… rest… rest… forever… /I

He tried to block out the maddening voices from the past. They did nothing. They let her go. Even with his ears muffled, the voices were still loud, still clear.




"Stop!" he screamed at the night sky. "Stop! I don't want to hear anymore!"

IYou left her when she needed you most./I

"Stop!" he yelled, falling to his hands and knees. He stared at the puddle on the ground and let the rain fall on him. He was drenched, and tired, but he didn't get up.

Suddenly it seemed as though the rain had stopped. The cold drops were no longer falling on him. But within his sight, he could see that it had not let up.

The time has come for another one. He shook his head. "I cannot take anymore," he whispered. But this was how it was supposed to be. This has always been the way it was.

Leo raised his head and saw that she was standing there, holding an umbrella over both their heads.

"Get up, Leo. I cannot believe you slipped there."

He couldn't speak. Why this one? Not this one. How could he go through this again?

She offered a helping hand. "Come on, honey. We have so much to do."

IPlease no. Tell me I don't have to go through this. She doesn't know./I

"What's wrong, Leo?" She sighed and knelt before him. "Is something the matter?" She kissed his forehead. "If you stay like this, you'll get sick. Then how will you pick me up from my classes tomorrow?" She put down the umbrella and allowed herself to be drenched by the rain too.

"Why did you do that?" he found himself asking.

"I don't want you getting wet alone. If you get sick and die, I don't want to be left alone," she teased. She's always been so carefree, so lighthearted. She was young and innocent. She was. She really was. "So come on, big boy, and take me home. I have to cram for my exam."

They stood up and she raised the umbrella again. Leo took it from her to hold it up. She immediately wrapped her arms around his free arm and they walked together towards her apartment.

"Okay, give me your coat and sit in front of the fire," she commanded the moment they stepped into her place. "I'll have some hot chocolate ready in a bit."

Leo did as he was told. When he was relaxing before the fireplace, his thoughts slipped into turmoil once again. In this life she was not involved in anything supernatural. Perhaps she would have been, but in an attempt to keep her safe and out of it, Leo forced their paths across earlier, and has since then prevented her discovery.

"Here you go." Piper handed the steaming cup to her boyfriend, together with a fluffy towel.

"I'm fine, sweetie. Don't worry about me."

"Oh posh!" Piper dried his hair herself and dabbed on his face. "You are drenched. I'll take care of you. Just to give you a taste of what our married life will be like," she teased. Leo swallowed and looked up at her, and she winked. "So if you break up with me or leave me for some reason or the other, you'll toast at the remembrance of everything you'll be missing." Piper left the room and returned with a dry pair of pants and a shirt. "These are the clothes you left here Monday. Put this on. It's fresh from the laundry."

Leo took the clothes and went to her bathroom. When he came back, he saw that she was making up the couch. "Why are you-"

"You should get some sleep."

"You're supposed to be studying for your Art History finals."

"After you're comfortable."

"I am comfortable. Go study. I'm not sleepy." Leo sat on the couch. Piper moved to take some books from the shelf. She tried to reach a couple of hardbounds but she couldn't reach it. "Scoot," he ordered. He got the books himself and placed it on the coffee table. "These are tomes, sweetie. Giant tomes of information. I can't believe you're cramming all this into your pretty head tonight. Why didn't you study earlier?" He fell back on the couch. Piper sat on the floor beside him, in front of the coffee table and began skimming the pages.

"I think that's because we went to that trip. You kidnapped me!"

Leo remembered. That was the time when the Elders told him a powerful demon was out there. He immediately asked Piper to go away with him for the weekend, just to keep her as far from that demon as possible. He won't let it happen again. She will never get hurt again.

"It was fun though, wasn't it?"

"The loveliest weekend I've ever had," Piper assured him. She pored through her texts with a creased forehead, and Leo sat behind her and began massaging. "Ummm, Leo, that is so good. Thanks, honey. I needed that."

He nibbled at her earlobe. "You've been taking care of me day in and day out I figured why not trade places now? Want something to eat?"


"Ok, I'll be right back." Leo stepped into the kitchen and opened the cupboards. Nothing. He opened the refrigerator and looked inside. College kids, he muttered. Finally, he saw some carrots at the crisper and grabbed a couple. "Here you go."

"Carrot sticks! Wow, Leo. Thanks." She munched on the vegetable as she read through Baroque painting. Suddenly she turned to her boyfriend. "Leo, you know when you suddenly just disappear when we're somewhere. You'll excuse yourself and then you'd be gone?"


"I know you have a reason. But sometimes, it hurts me when you do that. Can you not do that too much?"

"Of course, Piper. I'm sorry."

"It's okay." She brightened the room with her smile. From her backpack, Piper took out a tape recorder and played the lecture her professor had given the day before. And then she pushed the stop button. "We're getting married, right?"

Leo had been drinking his hot chocolate, and he broke into a fit of coughing. "What?"

"You love me. I love you. You said we're getting married someday. We're still doing that, right? Coz I'll be really upset if you change your mind." Leo took her hands and pulled her up on top of him on the couch. He kissed her lips deeply. "You taste like Hershey's."

"You made me instant Hershey's."

"Oh right," she giggled. "But you haven't answered me yet."

"You're just trying to put off studying because your subject is boring."

"See! You're changing the subject!"

"Of course we're getting married. I'll move heaven and earth to marry you," he told her. "After you graduate. So get your butt back to the floor and read up on perspective and texture."

Piper fell down on the floor and cried, "Aye, aye, sir." And then she stuck her tongue out at Leo.

Leo fell silent. Piper read through the book. Minutes later, Piper said, "You need to go, don't you? But you just are too embarrassed to ask me because of what I said a while ago."

The Elders have been calling him, and he had been ignoring. "I don't-"

"It's all right. It's not fair of me to hold you here when I'm the one busy studying. You can go."

"I'll be right back so don't go anywhere."

Piper pointed to the stacks of 'tomes' on the table. "Does this look like I'm going anywhere?" She pulled him down for a kiss. "Hurry back."

"I will."

"Okay now you do whatever it is you do when you," her voice fell into a stage whisper, "mysteriously vanish from my life. You know I'm hands off from your little secrets."

Leo walked out of her apartment. He was still laughing when he orbed out.

Leo's head snapped up. He was soaking, and the rain would not let up. He had not stirred from the ground since the reliving started, but he had forced himself out of the trance. He had to. He did not want to go through the discovery. It was still too fresh in his mind, even after two centuries.

His eyelids drooped, but he forced himself into consciousness. He did not want to slip into that bitter remembrance. The earth spun around him. He was dizzy. He could not fight off the nausea. He knew he could not cheat this. This is the way it is supposed to be. He had to finish each one.

He opened his eyes and found himself in the dark room. Once more he felt his old self resurfacing.

"Piper, sweetie, where are you?" he called out as he walked across the living room. He felt for the light switch and turned it on.

And then he died a thousand deaths.

"Piper," he whispered.

His trembling legs took him to the center of the room, where she lay on the floor, her clothes torn and bloodied. "Sweetie," he grated out. "Baby, you're okay." His hand touched the swollen cheek and patted. "Come on, you're fine. Wake up, Piper, and get back to studying. You have an exam, don't you?" She would not wake up. "Open your eyes, Piper. How will you graduate if you don't study?" Leo touched her abraded wrists. He could not take off the ropes. She needed human justice. "How will we get married then? We had a deal, remember?"

His eyes fell down to her bared form. Deep purple bruises marked the perfect body. His fingers traced the lines that cut through the skin of her belly and arms. Damn whoever it was who did this to her. He respected her enough not to take her until they got married, and a stranger had forced his way into her house and brutalized her.

Leo stood up and calmly walked into the bedroom to take out her favorite blanket. Again he knelt before her. He covered her legs, forced apart by rough and cruel hands, as evidenced by the marks of fingers at her knees. He brushed away the hair that had fallen over her face. Dried paths of tears streaked her face, and he could see in her visage the terror and agony she went through. She had bitten her lower lip until it bled.

"Animal," he rasped out.

Leo went to the phone and picked up the receiver. From his location he could see the broken glass of the window. Her books have been scattered. Leo could see that the mug from which he had drunk from a few hours ago had been smashed against the wall. IYou fought, sweetie. That's my girl./I

"Hello. There's been a murder of a young woman. It's a break in." Leo gave the address to the police officer and hung up.

"I love you, Piper."

Leo went into the bedroom and pulled open the drawer. He took out the little photo album she had kept of their shots together. And then he picked up Melinda, the rag doll he had given her on their first anniversary. He couldn't bear to think of what could have been. He didn't even come near the body again. He just sat on the bed, looking at the covered form on the living room floor from a distance. As soon as he heard the sirens, he orbed out, carrying the only mementos he would have from her.


He sat down heavily at the bottom step of the old apartment building. After leaving that horrific scene, Leo had returned to his present consciousness. Always, after that particular lifetime, he felt drained and weak. He didn't even want to blink. Beneath his closed lids the image of her young, beautiful face, swollen and bruised in death was stamped. He knew the nightmares would come again.

He'd relive the moments of her attack as though he had been there. What made him play the record? What power made him take the tape she been using to record and replay the important notes of her Art History review? Whatever it was, the unspeakably heinous sounds of the attack have been immortalized on tape. After playing it once, the noises-her terrified screams, his coarse laughter, the pleading… Leo tried to shake them off, but he knew they'd never be erased in his mind.

She was his treasure.

Leo held his hands fast to his ears. He rocked on the step as he tried to keep out the ugly events, but they were in his mind. He had no way to ward them off.

"Stay away from me!"

"Shut up, little girl!"

"Please, just take anything you want, just go away."

"Oh, I'll take what I want alright."

"Aaaahh! What are you doing? You're hurting me!"

"Be quiet. You'll enjoy this."

"Stop it! Stop it, don't touch me!"

"Why not? He's not. I've been watching you for so long. I've been listening."

Screams. Loud. Desperate. Terrified.


"Where is he now? He's not coming."

"Leo, help me! Oh God, please!!!"

And then she was quiet.

Leo wanted to howl to the heavens. He knew she had by that time slipped into a world of her own, far apart from the crime being committed on her. Or maybe, hopefully, she was at that moment already dead.

Leo looked up at the building in front of him. Ah, yes. Her. He had learned from the last lifetime, and he had tried to resolve it here. He knew what would happen, what always does happen. But now he was eager to relive this, if only for a chance to feel her soul embrace his once more.

He closed his eyes and concentrated on meeting her again.

He opened the door and stepped inside. Immediately, he heard the squeal. "Leo, you're back!" He turned to smile at Piper, who was running towards him in the short leather skirt and tube top. "Aaaahhh, I missed you!" She jumped up on him and he caught her. Her legs immediately wrapped snugly around his waist, and he swallowed. "I missed you. I missed you. I missed you!" she gasped, dropping kisses all over his face.

Leo felt himself swept by the moment. The lifetime sank into him. He laughed. "Careful, baby. Leave some for later, ok?"

"Oh shut up, angel boy! They tired you, didn't they? I know they did. They always do."

"Ummm," was all he managed to say. She grabbed him by the lapels and pulled him to her in a mad kiss. "Come on. Let's go to bed. I'll help you relax."

"No. No."

"What?!" Piper's legs slipped off and she stepped away from Leo. "What are you talking about? Is something wrong? Demons?" He shook his head. "Warlocks? Darklighters? Then what in heaven's name is the matter?! You've never… refused before!"

He smiled. She looked so… insulted! He chuckled. And then he laughed. Hard.

She hit his shoulder. "What is wrong with you? I demand that you tell me why you're not all over me right now!" She gasped when he continued laughing. "Stop it!"

Leo inhaled deeply. It took him a long time to really stop the hilarity. By the time he looked up at Piper again, she was frowning at him. "I'm sorry. Ok. I'll tell you. Wait here. I have to get something."

Leo left Piper alone when he went into the bedroom. He could hear her pacing back and forth. He shook his head. She was likely trying to figure out what was wrong with her. She must now be looking at herself in the mirror, thinking he had found her unattractive. He took the item he had carefully hidden in the underwear drawer and started back to the living room.

The moment he stepped inside, his jaw dropped. She was on the couch. Her clothes were on the coffee table. And she was smiling.

"Let's see if you can resist this."

Leo immediately turned around and walked back into the bedroom. Piper yelled after him. "Get back here, Leo!"

He returned with a blanket and he shook it out and wrapped it around her. When he looked back down at Piper, she was crying quietly. "Hey, what's wrong?"

"I'm fat and ugly."

"What? You're beautiful!"

"No! If I were beautiful you won't act like this. You don't want to make love to me!"

"Who said anything like that?"

"You don't need to say it! I know it! You've been so preoccupied from the moment you stepped in." She held on to the sheet around her as she jumped up out of the couch and ran to the other side of the room. Leo tried to follow her but she glared at him and held up her hand. "Stay there! Don't come near me. I need to," she took a deep breath. "I need to," she fanned herself with one hand. "I need to…"

"Compose yourself?"

"Oh hush! I need to… well, yes, compose myself." He smiled. "Oh stop smiling! I did not say you can smile. You're not scot-free yet." She gasped. "I just realized! You came here to break up with me, didn't you?"

"Hey, where did you-"

"Oh no!" She began sobbing into the sheet. "You took the best years of my life!"

"We've been together for five weeks, Piper."

"Did I say you can speak? No!"

"You wanna know the real reason for all this… mess?"

"I already know."

"Well, you're wrong." He walked towards her. She wanted this since the last lifetime, and it was his fault that they didn't get to do it. Now nothing can stop it. He had corrected each mistake he committed the other lifetimes the moment he had met her.

When at the past he had manipulated everything so that she would know nothing about the supernatural involvement he had, he cleared everything with her as soon as he had met her. He was only thankful that her personality this time allowed for a broader sense of acceptance.

When last time he tried to push back the wedding because he still had reservation about having the same perfect family life destroyed in the life before, now…

He knelt before her and she tightened her grip on the sheets. "What do you want now?" she sobbed out.

He brandished the ring before her. "You for my wife," Leo answered.

She was speechless for a moment, and Leo relished the look of amazement on her face. She opened her mouth but no sound came out, so she swallowed before finally speaking. "Are you… are you insane?!"

"Excuse me?"

"You said so yourself! We've known each other for five weeks!"

"Do you honestly feel it's too early for us to get married?"

She regarded him with glistening eyes. She looked down at the ring and shook her head. "Actually, even though it sounds so weird, I think I feel like I've been waiting a lifetime for you to ask."

"Good," he sighed in relief. "Because your family is flying in tomorrow." He drew out an envelope from his coat and gave it to her. "Your sister fixed and sent out the invitations last week. And your dad and I have a reservation at St. Michael's for tomorrow morning."

"You're pulling my leg!"

"No. You're really going to have to marry me tomorrow."

"But… but… what about my gown?"

"Easy." He grinned at her. "It's in the bedroom. Your mom chose it."

"Oh!!!" she squealed. Piper threw her arms around Leo and jumped up and down. "We're really getting married!"

The sheet had dropped at the embrace and Leo lifted her up and walked to the bedroom. "INow/I we can make love."

Piper laughed. "That's crazy, Leo! Tomorrow's our honeymoon night. And besides," she took a deep breath, "I have to fit the gown, call all my friends and yell at Phoebe for not telling me!"

She ran to the bedroom to ooh and aah over the gown and Leo collapsed on the couch. He wanted her so much. He shook his head and chuckled. Her voice carried to the living room. She was talking animatedly to her sister over the phone.


The morning of the wedding dawned warm and bright. Leo, in the coat and tie he had worn in their last wedding, waited at the end of the aisle. She was smiling from beneath the thin white veil, holding on to her father's arm.

The Elders called him, and Leo did not move a finger. This was as perfect as any day has ever been. He remembered the past times and knew that the tragedies always stuck when he would be called away in the loveliest moments. This time, he was carefully thinking everything through.

"I, Leo, take thee, Piper, to be my lawfully wedded wife, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live."

Leo stung at the reminder of the length of time he would actually have her. But he did not wish to show any sorrow, because this was their perfect day. Finally, they would marry. At least he'd satisfied her in her dream now. "I, Piper, take thee, Leo, to be my lawfully wedded husband, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."

Piper broke into a smile as she heard the priest say, "You may kiss the bride."

Leo pulled her towards him. "A kiss?"

Piper grinned and nodded. He bent to press a soft kiss on her lips. Her arms rose to push him closer to her. Piper deepened the kiss. They pulled apart a couple of minutes later and she looked breathless. "Finally."

"Finally. A big family, Piper. Promises. A house. Everything you've ever dreamed of."

"That sounds great," she replied.

He offered her his arm and she wrapped hers around it. "Onwards to the future."

"Look out, future! Here comes Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt," she announced happily.

They were walking down the aisle when the church doors flew open and they jumped back in surprise. There stood a dark man in a black cape, looking at Leo with sinister eyes. "Congratulations!" he rasped out.

"Leo, who is that?" she whispered.

"Stay back, Piper."

"No, Leo. You told me everything. You can't keep me away when I know it might be dangerous for you." She did not let go of his arm.

"Piper, I want you to walk towards your family now."

"Hey, hey! You are to tense, Wyatt. What makes you think I'll be hurting your pretty little wife there? I just came to deliver a wedding gift. Seven years of acquaintance surely warrants a gift and an invitation, don't you agree?"

"Obviously I don't, because you're crashing."

The man shook his head. "I thought angels have big hearts. Surely you can find it in there to trust in me."

"You've done nothing to deserve it."

"Well hopefully my surprise will solve that." He indicated to something near the front of the church. Leo had no choice but to turn and look.


It all happened so fast. A flash of white seemed to fall on him and he fell down because of the sheer force. He opened his eyes and realized that the weight on him was actually Piper in her wedding gown. She lay limply on him, motionless.

"Piper…" He sat up with her in his arms and he looked down to see the open wound on her back. His eyes flew up to Travis. "Damn you. Now my wife!" he grated out.

The man looked shocked. He gazed down at his smoking hand, unable to believe what happened. "She… she jumped right into the path," he stammered in apology. "I was aiming for you."

Leo felt for a pulse, but she was gone. He wiped at the blood that trickled from the corner of her mouth. Travis faded away in a haze as the guests looked on mutely.

The mass of white cloth in his arms darkened his sight. The veil had fallen off and all he could see was his wife of a few minutes, lying lifelessly on the church floor. He pulled her into his embrace. A sob rose from his chest as his eyes flew to the altar. Blood soaked his clothes. He felt the warm liquid ooze past them and into his skin.

The church echoed with his agonized cry.

It was as if the audience suddenly evaporated. The morning sun rose high and dipped low within a matter of seconds. And then Leo was alone in the yawning church aisle. It was a rainy night out and he was kneeling on the cold marble floor. His arms were empty, and he realized that he had long since buried her.

And that he was here because the reliving was over. He looked up at the high domed ceiling of St. Michael's and raised his fists to the sky. "Why?" he demanded. "What have I ever done to deserve this?"

He fell heavily on his forearms and beat on the hard floor with his fists, trying to drive out his frustrations to no avail. The stars were against them, and he could do nothing to control it. The only way out of this is if he would cease to exist. "Why must it come to this?" he whispered.

But every after her lifetime he had asked this, and he never received any answer. This was no different. Perhaps that first time they were right to punish him. After all, they had broken all the rules they were warned of. But still he could not understand about the other times. Was this only plain cruelty?

Leo was seized by an image of the street. He could see himself running down a rainy avenue. Yet he knew that this was not he. He was only being prepared, being told. He was given Piper's perspective, being persuaded to seek her out and fuse her soul once more with his. He shook off the image. He was not ready, will never be ready for another of those horrific experiences.

Nothing made sense anymore. Why suffer? Does joy really warrant an amount of sorrow as prerequisite, or as an instant result?

He felt himself being pulled out of the building, but he forced himself to control his fate. He will not let them manipulate this once again.

Leo stood up and walked forward, until he was standing before the altar. This was the same position he took as he waited for Piper to come to him that time at the wedding. This was a place he would never forget, if only for the remembrance of that utter contentment in his heart as she approached him to have the priest join their hands in marriage.

He had always been a good and decent human being. For centuries he had unselfishly aided those in pain, those who needed him. He was sure that he never committed any wrong that would deserve an eternity of agony.

Leo knelt down and bowed his head, searching deep into his soul for the right words. Yet somehow, he did not even need to speak. He already knew his problem. He will answer him. And Leo had the security of knowing that His answer will be of comfort.

But Leo already knew. In that infinite power He had opened his heart and mind that Leo accepted the only answer that finally gave him peace. Leo felt a strange warmth unfurl in his heart. He had opened his eyes and looked at the bright light emanating from within until it flourished, bigger and more breathtaking with every moment that passed.

He raised his eyes to the sky and opened his soul, letting the response flow through his body, his spirit. The tears streaking his face dried, and he was filled with such joy.

He had risen to his feet and turned to the door. Very slowly he walked down the aisle. He closed his eyes and let the voice in his head wash over him once more.

IYou are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And though you may or may not understand it, the Universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace./I

The locked doors of the church sounded with a heavy pounding. Leo opened the doors and a young woman fell on him.

"Are you all right?" he asked of the girl in his arms.

The wet figure looked up and got up on her knees. She regarded him with shyness and trust with the deep brown eyes. "I was scared. I think there was someone following me, so I ran here as fast as I could. I'm glad there's someone here. Do you think you can stay with me, at least until after the storm passes?" she inquired, unsure.

Leo wrapped the young woman in his own coat, which his hours inside the church had dried, and led her to sit on the front pew. He took the place beside her and laid his hand on hers. She smiled up at him gratefully.

His solemn gaze focused on his source of strength through the centuries. His hand tightened on the girl's trembling one.

"I'll stay."