Disclaimer: See First Chapter.
Author's Note: It's been much too long, I know. I'm so behind on all my stories and I apologize profusely because I hate to be kept waiting when I'm reading a fanfic too. I'm trying harder!
Thank you so much if you've reviewed this story. The guilt from getting reviews really works, pushed me to work. ;D
This is the first of the last two. The next chapter will pretty much wrap things up.
And because it's been so long I barely remember too… last time:
A moment later blue orbs filled the room to reveal a tall young man with a petulant expression on his face.
"What?" he ground out.
"I'm sorry, son…" Leo said sympathetically, a phrase that earned him a confused scowl from Chris.
Piper took a deep breath and said "Chris…?" before the boy could question his father.
His gaze transferred to his mother, he gave her a pointed look, waiting for her to continue.
"Don't you have any good memories at all?" she asked softly.
Chris's scowl returned and he opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly Paige's hand clamped firmly over his mouth.
He was so surprised he didn't catch on until Phoebe's fingers were pressed to his arm…
… but by then it was too late…
A swirling portal had opened before them and they were all being pulled into it.
They swam through a sea of color and objects, faces and voices, until finally they landed with a thud in the Manor foyer.
Chris yanked himself away from Paige, the instant his feet touched solid ground, "What the hell is wrong with you people?" he roared at them all, "Didn't you get enough last time we did this?"
"But this will be better-" Phoebe began but didn't finish.
"There is no better when you invade someone's privacy!" he screamed angrily.
The sisters all looked down, suddenly ashamed; he was so angry with them… and his words rang true.
Lifting her gaze, Phoebe tried again, "I thought-"
"You thought wrong," he cut her off, "You know enough about the future as it is," he stated petulantly.
Piper swallowed hard and looked up at him, "We didn't mean to…" she trailed off.
"We just wanted to see some of your happier…" Paige tried tapered off.
Phoebe shrugged uncomfortably, "… to remind you of better times…"
In the end all three trailed off, in the end— no explanation was good enough.
They sighed; it was Paige who spoke again, "This memory is kinda… uh, empty…" she said softly, wryly; hoping to get past his anger.
Everyone looked around and then frowned. The house was quiet and seemed almost empty.
Chris's frown deepened, "These are my memories..." he began softly, almost to himself, "…which means if we're seeing an empty living room... it must be in my min-" he cut himself and suddenly his eyes brightened.
"I remember this..." he said softly and turned around. He went to the stairs and stared at the bottom step. They watched him in silence, waiting for him to do something.
He just stared at the bottom step.
"Chris... there's nothing there..." Paige stated.
"Yes there is... I'm there..." he said proudly, "I'm cloaking myself. It's the first time I ever did it."
"Why?" Piper asked.
"LEO!" a future version of Piper yelled as she walked into the room, "GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE, RIGHT NOW!"
They all watched as the future Piper walked right past the stairs and into the living room. She stood at its center and looked around, clearly livid.
"She doesn't look happy," Paige murmured, "In fact, she looks downright furious."
"But this is supposed to be happy!" Phoebe cried clearly upset, "It was all my idea. And I meant for these to be happy memories!"
"It is happy… one of the happiest of my childhood…" Chris answered softly, his eyes warm as he remembered what they were about to see.
The tinkling of orbs captured their attention; they turned to see Future Leo materializing in the living room.
"Blesse-" (F)Leo never finished his greeting—(F)Piper blew him up.
A moment later he rematerialized, "Pipe-"
Again (F)Piper blew him up.
The third time he materialized behind her, "What is wrong with you?" he asked angrily, "I left an important conference because your call sounded urgent and you're blowing me up."
(F)Piper had whirled around when he'd materialized and was now glaring daggers through him, "What is wrong with me?" She asked, her voice high pitched with fury.
"What the hell is wrong with you!" she screamed at him.
"What are you talking about?" he asked.
"You're a JERK! That's what I'm talking about!"
(F)Leo took what appeared to be a calming breath, "Stop yelling Piper…"
"Dammit Leo! You have no idea what you've done, do you?" She asked furiously.
"I haven't done anything, Piper."
"EXACTLY!" she roared at him, and (F)Leo flinched at the rage in her voice. (F)Piper spun around from him and ran a hand through her dark hair.
"What's going on?" (P)Piper asked (P)Chris softly, as she neared where he was standing.
"What did I do?" (P)Leo asked sullenly, his tone self-depreciating.
(P)Chris shot the man what could almost be called a sympathetic look, "Nothing too horrible— in comparison..." he murmured, but didn't get a chance to say anything more.
"It's not like we ask a lot of you Leo!" (F)Piper accused after a moment of silence, she whirled around to face him again; it was obvious she'd made a conscience effort to calm herself.
"Piper I don't know-"
"Chris's game!" she yelled at him, discarding her effort to be calm, "You promised him, Leo!"
The man's eyes slid shut and he winced, "That was today…?" he murmured.
Again (F)Piper took a calming breath, "Yes, Leo. That. Was. Today." she hissed at him.
"I'm sorry, Piper, I didn't realize-"
"Just shut-up," she snapped, cutting him off, "Just shut-up because I don't know if I can stop myself from blowing you up again if you make-up an excuse for this…"
"I have an excuse for this, I-"
"Like hell you do! There is no excuse for this!"
"Piper I have a job-"
"You have a son—two in fact and they'd appreciate seeing their father more than once a month!"
"Calm down!" he yelled back.
Her eyes flashed fire and she advanced on him like a warrior, "Do NOT tell me to calm down Leo Wyatt! Don't you dare! Because you're not the one who has to look into his eyes and tell him that his Dad broke yet another promise!"
A young Wyatt bounded down the stairs, his face ashen, "Mom I can't sense- Dad?"
"Can't sense what?"
"Uhhh," the boy was distracted at seeing his father in the living room, his gaze going back and forth between his parents before settling on his mom and finishing his sentence, "I can't sense Chris."
(F)Piper frowned, "You can't sense him…?"
"I can always sense him… but now I can't," Wyatt sounded a bit panicked, his eyes wide and he looked to his father, "How come Dad?"
(F)Leo closed his eyes, a moment later he scowled, "He's blocked… I can almost sense him… but not quite…"
"Chris doesn't know how to do something like that… he's only six," she said to her ex-husband, as though he'd forgotten.
"I know how old he is," (F)Leo snapped.
"You weren't at the game today," Wyatt stated, looking up at his Dad.
"Since when can't you sense your brother, Wyatt?" (F)Piper asked.
Wyatt looked very guilty suddenly, "Ummmm, well… just now I guess…"
"So he just now blocked himself off…" (F)Piper prodded.
"Well… maybe not…" the blonde boy hedged.
"If he'd done it earlier you would have sensed it, son," (F)Leo told the boy.
"I know Dad, it's just that… well…" he looked down and shuffled his feet awkwardly.
"You didn't…" (F)Piper stated suddenly, causing Leo to look over at her.
"He didn't what?" he asked.
"After I specifically told you not to, Wyatt." She accused.
"After you told him not to what?" (F)Leo asked.
"It was only for a minute Mom, I just wanted to test out that new potion…" Wyatt stated.
"Could someone please tell me what's going on?" (F)Leo asked, clearly annoyed.
(F)Piper glared at him, "Since when do you care about what's going on?" she hissed.
"That's not fair, Piper…"
"Dad cares," Wyatt defended, "Right Dad…"
"Of course I care," (F)Leo stated firmly.
(F)Piper rolled her eyes, "Phoebe babysat the other day and she and the boys put together a new potion. Wyatt asked if he could go to the underworld to test it out; I said no… apparently he went anyway…"
"Just for a minute and now I can't sense Chris," Wyatt cried.
(F)Piper turned a pointed gaze on her eldest son, "After I find your brother— you and I are going to talk."
Wyatt swallowed hard and nodded solemnly.
(F)Piper walked out to the foyer, "CHRIS!"
There was no answer.
"Can you sense if he's in the house?" she asked (F)Leo.
(F)Leo nodded, "He is. And he isn't hurt. The potion is just barely strong enough to keep me from precisely sensing him—which I always can."
"I can too." Wyatt stated, proud to have something in common with his Dad.
(F)Leo smiled at his son, "You're going to be a great whitelighter some day, son."
"You know this is your fault, don't you?" (F)Piper said walking back into the living room.
"Mom!" Wyatt cried, his eyes wide, "Don't say that! Dad didn't forget on purpose…"
"Go to your room, Wyatt." Piper ordered.
The boy sighed sadly, and looked to his Dad, "You'll stay?" he asked, a look of pure hope on his face.
Leo shrugged, "Can't say for sure, kiddo…"
Wyatt sighed, the hope fading as he nodded slowly; a look of resigned acceptance on his face.
"I'll come by next weekend, for sure," Leo stated, "You and me and Chris'll go out…"
Wyatt nodded sadly.
"I promise." Leo added.
Wyatt took a deep breath and they watched as he practically forced himself to hope once again. He smiled at his Dad and then turned and headed right for the stairs—gliding right by Chris.
"Sometimes I find myself almost hating you, Leo."
(F)Piper's whispered words broke the utter silence of the living room.
(F)Leo looked startled, "Piper-" he began, but the woman shook her head and to his astonishment wiped at tears that were glistening in her eyes.
"I hate you for putting that look in my sons' eyes," she whispered, her manner no longer defensive. Now it was simply sadly weary, "Do you know what Chris said to me in the car today… on the way home from the game… the championship game, that you promised you'd attend…?"
She didn't give (F)Leo a chance to respond.
"He said that next season he'd play better… that way… you'd have to come... if he played better, than you would come." Her dark, wet eyes glared at him accusingly, "He won that game, Leo. And he still thinks that he isn't good enough-"
"Chris knows I love him-"
"-and it breaks my heart," she continued without pausing, "… that there's nothing I can do. Because no matter how much I love him, no matter how proud Phoebe and Paige are of him, no matter how much he admires my Dad… all he wants is for his Dad… to come to one of his games."
"And I do come!" (F)Leo exclaimed.
"No Leo, you don't! You've never been to one!
"That was a practice! You've come to one practice in two years!"
(F)Leo groaned, realizing she was right; he ran a hand through his hair. He took a calming breath and then slowly approached (F)Piper, "I love my boys Piper, and I do the best I can… I'm not with them nearly as much I as wish I could be… but I… I have a responsibility, you know that…."
"Chris needs you. He doesn't get to spend time with you training like Wyatt does-"
"-he can!" (F)Leo interrupted, "I've offered to bring him along… while Wyatt trains with Excalibur I can help him train one of his powers. He has so many powers it wouldn't be a stretch to convince the other Elders, he can-"
"He would rather play catch with his Dad…" (F)Piper interrupted.
(F)Leo opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly he froze; (F)Piper too stiffened. The Elder jingle resounding in the quiet house.
"You've got to be kidding me." She hissed, her manner defensive again.
(F)Leo exhaled roughly, "I've got to go…"
"Your son is missing!"
"He isn't missing. He's in the house, and he isn't hurt. He's probably just cloaked… he'll be fine…" (F)Leo stated, "I have to go… I'll be back next weekend to spend time with the boys…"
He began orbing out.
"Leo please!" (F)Piper pleaded, her voice desperate as she suddenly rushed towards him, "… please… I know the world needs you; I know that. I accept that… the boys accept that… it's just… that…" tears spilled, "… he's so proud of you, so proud of who you are and what you do… he just wants to make you as proud of him as he is of you…"
(F)Leo hesitated a moment, but then the jingling sounded again, and (F)Piper let her face fall in defeat.
"I'm sorry, Piper… but… I have to go..." he said softly, and then he orbed out. Leaving absolute silence in his wake.
"I just leave…?" (P)Leo stated, aghast at his future self.
Paige reached out and punched her brother-in-law in the arm, "You turn into a real jerk."
"It's not all his fault," (P)Piper defended, surprising everyone, "It's not like he wants to be with the Elders instead of his sons…"
To everyone's amazement, they heard a wry chuckle. They turned to find Chris looking at his mother with tender amusement in his eyes, "Some things never change…" he said softly.
"What's that mean?" Phoebe asked.
Chris shrugged and motioned towards where the future version of Piper was still working at controlling her emotions.
She was standing in the middle of the living room, taking deep breaths and muttering.
Slowly she walked into the foyer, "Drop the cloak Chris," she said softly, looking around her.
The seconds ticked by; they watched her take another deep breath and try again, "I'm so sorry, baby…" she whispered, "I know you wanted him there…"
A ripple traveled through the air and they watched (F)Piper stiffen, as she felt the change in magical energy.
"…but you know what…? I was there… and I was so proud of you today…" she finished desperately.
A moment later, they were able to see (F)Chris— sitting on the bottom step. He was so tiny and wearing a baseball uniform that was covered in dust. His small face pale with despondency.
"Oh baby," (F)Piper whispered, and she walked to him, then sat down next to him. Gently she draped an arm around his small shoulders.
"How'd you know I was around here?" he asked in a small voice.
"If I could make myself invisible, this is where I would'a been…" she sighed, "You heard all that then…"
(F)Chris nodded slowly, "I'm sorry I made you fight…" he said softly.
(F)Piper made a shushing sound and squeezed him, "You didn't make us fight… we did that all on our own… and you know us… we thrive on fights…" she told him, forcing a happy note into her voice.
"You did really well today, baby… your coach told me if you keep this up he might move you to the next division a year early."
(F)Chris looked over and up at his Mom, "That would be cool," he said, but his voice was still so sad.
"You saw that buddy… you know your Dad didn't mean to forget… it just happened… I mean he would much rather be with you than with the Elders… and he'll make it up to you next weekend."
(F)Piper gave him another squeeze, "So where'd you learn to block yourself off like that…"
"Aunt Paige taught me…"
(F)Piper rolled her eyes, "I'm gonna hafta to have a talk with her…" but (F)Chris didn't giggle as usual. The smile he offered her was a paltry imitation of his usually brilliant one.
"Mom…?" he said after a moment.
"Do you really think Dad'll come this weekend?"
They all watched (F)Piper take a deep breath, look into her baby's eyes—and lie, "I'm absolutely positive he'll come." She said steadily.
Chris nodded, then grinned abruptly, "Is Wyatt in trouble?"
(F)Piper's eyebrows shot to her hairline, "As a matter a fact, he is…"
"Can I watch…?"
"Nope…" (F)Piper smiling, giving a mental sigh that her son was getting back to normal, "But if you're quiet, I won't bring up the fact that you're not allowed to cloak yourself from me…"
"Deal!" Chris said hopping up and running up the stairs, "Oh Wyatt…." He called teasingly…
The scenery began to blur and shift again.
"That was not happy," Phoebe grumbled.
"It isn't over," (P)Chris responded grouchily.
The scene sharpened again, and they found themselves in a darkened room.
"Chris… buddy… wake-up for Daddy…" (F)Leo was muttering gently.
He was kneeling at a bed, shaking a small figure.
"Dad?" a tiny voice whispered.
"Yeah, buddy, it's me… come on…" he said, and gently scooped the still half asleep Chris into his arms.
Then very gently placed him on the floor. Chris was still half asleep, leaning into his Dad. "Com- whe…?" the boy slurred, but Leo didn't answer.
The sisters and (P)Leo suddenly noticed that (F)Piper was in the room too.
"This is insane," she whispered, as she handed Leo a shirt and jeans. (F)Leo for his part quickly undressed and then redressed his drowsy son.
"It's barely five o'clock in the morning." (F)Piper continued moments later as Leo slipped sneakers on the boy's feet.
"Not in New York." (F)Leo responded evenly and then swung (F)Chris up in his arms.
"Dad?" Chris whispered, "… whas wrong?" he slurred, obviously trying to wake up from the deep sleep of childhood.
"Nothing's wrong buddy… I have a surprise for you…"
That perked the young boy up; his head lifted a little, "A surprise…"
"Yeah Chris, a surprise…"
"Can Wy come too?" he asked, starting to wake up.
"I'm here Chris," Wyatt said softly. He'd been standing behind his mother, leaning sleepily into her.
"Good," Chris murmured.
"Come take my hand Wyatt…" Leo called.
"Be careful, Leo," (F)Piper warned.
(F)Leo chuckled, "I'm not taking them anywhere dangerous…"
Piper sighed, but it was a content sigh, "I'm just happy you're taking them…"
"Me too," Wyatt piped up, taking his father hand.
"Where we goin?" (F)Chris asked, he was sitting up in his Dad's arms now.
(F)Leo grinned, "You'll love it buddy, it's a special treat just for you…" The last remnants of sleep left Chris at those words and his excitement was palpable.
(F)Leo turned to (F)Piper, "I'll see ya, Piper."
"'kay," she murmured, "… be good, boys…"
The boys confirmed that - yes, they would be good and a moment later Leo orbed out with his sons.
And once again the scenery shifted. The images came quickly now; a blur of color and laughter. They were moving, without really moving and watching what they knew to be, as Chris had called it, one of the happiest memories of his childhood.
A baseball game.
"What is this?" (P)Piper asked, as they seemed to float above the stands.
"Dad took us to a baseball game,"(P)Chris answered simply. As he watched his younger self raise his arms to his dad. (F)Leo lifted the small boy up into his arms so he could see. Chris pointed excitedly and (F)Leo nodded, grinning; at their side Wyatt too peered excitedly at the players below.
"Why can't we hear?" Paige asked.
"Hopefully because this is almost over," (P)Chris grumbled, then added grudgingly, "And because I don't really remember what was said on that trip—as you can see, I'm just a little kid..."
"But you remembered the argument—perfectly…" (P)Piper insisted, watching as (F)Leo bought the boys hot dogs.
(P)Chris shrugged, "You don't forget an argument between your parents when you caused it..."
"You didn't-" (P)Leo began, but (P)Chris sent him a glare. Around them the scene was shifting. They were no longer in the stands, now they were walking through crowds; Chris pointed at something in one of the stands suddenly and all three of them stopped and redirected their course towards it.
"I do not want to argue about my memories; that's how I remember it. If I hadn't had a game there wouldn't have been an issue."
"If I'd gone to the game there wouldn't have been an issue."
"Oh, look! Leo's buying you a hat! Oh! You are just so cute!" Phoebe cried in an obvious ploy to redirect the conversation.
They watched as Leo plopped the hat on Chris's head and then turned to pay the man. At which point Wyatt snatched the hat off the boy's head and held it up high so Chris couldn't reach. He waved it in the air as Chris leaped and jumped trying to get it back. Suddenly though, the older boy dropped it abruptly on his brother's head— just in time for Leo to turn around. He asked Wyatt something and the boy shook his head no.
"What was that?" Paige asked, frowning a little.
(P)Chris smirked, "Wyatt… teasing. Don't worry, at that point it was still friendly." He comforted.
"Wyatt didn't get a hat?" (P)Piper asked.
"Wyatt didn't like baseball that much," (P)Chris answered softly. His gaze was warm as he gazed at the memory, "He always put up with it for me… he knew I wouldn't have had as much fun without him…"
"So why don't you remember anything that was said?" (P)Piper persisted, a moment later.
(P)Chris shrugged, but didn't take his eyes off the trio, who were now headed to yet another concession stand, "I do remember some things... just not a lot..."
They all fell silent again as they continued to watch the changing scenes—clowns, gymnast, roller coasters, cotton candy, stuffed animals, water guns, motorcycle tricks...
Instead of one coherent stream they were getting flashes now... and the flashes were blurry and fast and colorful and full of smiles and fun—it was beautiful and no one wanted to look away for even a moment for fear they'd miss a grin or a hug or a high-five.
Suddenly though, the scene sharpened. They were on what appeared to be a boardwalk, and it was twilight. Both Chris and Wyatt had ice cream cones in their hands and seemed to be, for a moment, quiet.
"We almost have to head home guys," (F)Leo said quietly.
Both boys halted immediately and looked up at their father.
"Awwww, Dad, come on..." Wyatt complained.
"It's still light out..." (F)Chris added.
(F)Leo grinned, "I said almost, not right now..."
"I wish this day never ended," Wyatt said wistfully, as he continued walking.
"Me too." (F)Chris chirped, following his brother and giving his ice cream a hearty lick.
Both boys ran over to the railing and stared out at the ocean.
A moment later Wyatt spoke, "The game was boring-"
"-the game was great!" (F)Chris contradicted, "It was awesome! The best game ever!"
(F)Leo laughed, "It was a good game, Wy..." he commented, joining the boys.
Wyatt shrugged, "... but the carnival was fun..." he continued, "And the circus was hilarious..."
"And the Ferris Wheel! I loved the Ferris wheel!" Chris enthused.
The sisters and (P)Leo watched as (F)Leo placed a hand on each of his sons head as the boys continued to gush about their activities.
A moment later he spoke softly, "You know, guys... me too... I wish this day never ended too..."
"It's the Elders fault," Wyatt said wisely.
"Where are the Elders today, Dad?" (F)Chris asked, "Are they on vacation...?" he asked innocently.
(F)Leo grinned, "Nope, they're where they always are... but I told them I was busy today... I had a son to make something up to..."
(F)Chris grinned, "It's made up, Dad..." he said sweetly.
(F)Leo ruffled the dark hair, under his hand, "Good... how 'bout we go find somethin else to do...?"
Again the memories blurred into a swirl of color—a dolphin, a water slide, a bright pool…
Suddenly they were back in a darkened room and (F)Leo was placing a small bundle onto a bed.
"Mmmmm," the bundle whimpered.
"Shhhh, buddy, its okay... I'm just putting you in your bed..."
They watched (F)Chris's grip tighten, his little hand fisting around Leo's shirt, "No... don't go..." he murmured.
(F)Leo pressed a kiss to his son forehead, "Okay, ok, I'll stay a little longer. Go back to sleep..." he said, settling himself into a sitting position on Chris's bed.
"Don't go," (F)Chris muttered again.
(F)Leo smiled into the darkness and, once again, pressed a kiss to his son's dark head, "I won't, buddy, I'll stay...
"… how long…"
They watched (F)Leo tighten his hold just a tiny bit, "As long as I can, buddy… as long as I can…" he responded softly. Then began rubbing soothing circles on his son's back, "… go back to sleep... its late; your Mom's gonna have a fit when she realizes I kept you out for almost twenty-four hours..."
(F)Chris chuckled, and snuggled closer to his Dad; and (F)Leo held the boy close. Gently stroking his son's hair.
(P)Leo and the girls saw the amusement fade from his face slowly to reveal a sad expression—(F)Leo was realizing that the day had ended, and he didn't know when, if ever, he'd be able to get another one like this.
"I love you, buddy..." he whispered to his son.
"... love you, too..." Chris slurred, his small hand still fisted on his father's shirt.
"That was beautiful," Piper whispered a moment later when the scene began to shift.
They were moving again, in a swirl of color and lights.
"Yeah," Paige agreed, "definitely a good childhood memory..."
"I wish we could see it again," Phoebe added.
"It's not a fuckin' movie!" Chris yelled at them, his gaze fierce, "This is private... all this is private, whether it's good or bad... it's mine."
"Ours too, Chris, I was in it." Piper argued as the air around them continued to shimmer.
Chris rolled his eyes, but didn't get the chance to reply. Quite suddenly they landed on a grassy lot on a sunny, beautiful day. They all took a moment to steady themselves.
The sisters avidly looked around, Chris was lost in thought, "We aren't visiting all my happy memories," Chris murmured to himself as he looked around slowly trying to figure out what they were about to see, "... so there has to be a common link in them somewhere..."
"Don't analyze..." Phoebe stated, "Let's just enjoy..." and earned herself yet another glare.
"Don't think that just 'cause I stopped yelling at you I'm not furious," he hissed her, "You had no right… none of you have the right to go traipsing through my mind… and as soon as we're done here we're reversing that spell…"
"Hey what's that…?" Piper cut in, noticing a large crowd gathered a few feet away.
Chris turned in the direction she'd pointed. A moment later he released a loud, frustrated breath.
"What is it Chris?" Paige parroted her sister.
"It's a memory… what do ya think?" he hissed at them.
They all turned to study the group and realized suddenly that it seemed more like a mob.
"But these are supposed to be good memories!" Phoebe cried, sounding upset.
Chris glared at her; his anger at them seemed to be ebbing and flowing, some moments fierce and hot, the next silent and cold, "This is a good memory," he gritted out.
"But why do all your happy memories start off bad…?" Phoebe complained.
And Chris's frown eased, his face suddenly clearing, "That's it!" he whispered wonderingly. But his family was no longer paying him attention.
They had all fastened their gazes on a young boy with shaggy dark hair, who was standing a good distance away and across from the large group.
He had on khaki shorts and a red t-shirt, his book-bag slung over one shoulder and a book in his hand. He approached slowly, as if lost in his own thoughts; they noticed he couldn't be more then ten years old.
He suddenly stopped, his gaze landing on the huge group several feet ahead of him.
They watched him close his eyes and take a deep breath.
"That's you!" Paige cried happily.
"What're you doin?" Piper asked eyeing her son, the smaller version.
"I'm sensing for Wyatt…" (P)Chris explained through clenched teeth.
(F)Chris's head shot up sharply, "Oh, shit." he muttered.
"I just found him," (P)Chris told the spectators.
The sisters and (P)Leo watched as (F)Chris dropped the book he was holding and ran full speed towards the large group.
"Oh no, that can't be good!" Phoebe cried.
"Come on… I don't want to lose sight of him…" (P)Piper yelled and they followed the boy quickly. The fact that they weren't really there was beneficial as they were able to walk right through the crowd.
(F)Chris had to shove and crawl his way through to get to the clearing in the middle.
The clearing where two older boys were engaged it what appeared to be an impromptu boxing match. The crowd cheered as a blonde boy landed two successful punches.
"Oh my god… it's Wyatt…" (P)Piper breathed out on a gasp.
"He's fighting!"(P) Leo cried, shooting (P)Chris a concerned glance. The look (P)Chris sent his father discouraged further conversation..
"He's winning!" Paige responded.
"This is supposed to be a good memory!" Phoebe yelled.
They watched as the (F)Chris came up on Wyatt's side and rammed into his brother full speed; knocking the older boy off balance and making them both tumble to the ground.
"What the hells wrong with you!" Wyatt yelled at his sibling, when he realized what had happened.
"ME? What the hells wrong with you! FIGHTING! AGAIN!"
"That's right Halliwell… get baby brother to save your ass!" the other boy taunted.
Wyatt shoved himself off the ground and (F)Chris followed, the noise of the crowd around them had died down to a buzz.
"My ass isn't the one that needs saving," Wyatt growled.
"Are you sure…? 'cause the mini-bastard there looks like he can fight better than you…" the boy taunted, even though his eye had already started to swell and his lip bled.
"What did he say?" (F)Chris demanded of Wyatt, suddenly dropping his book bag, then looked to the boy, "What did you say?"
"Stay out of this Chris," Wyatt stated.
"You heard me… or aren't you a bastard like your big brother… who knows maybe the little tyke is legitimate…maybe their mom got it right the second time… with the second man probably… or who knows how many men a woman who looks like that-"
The kid never finished his sentence; (F)Chris hurled himself at him with same force he'd used on Wyatt.
Caught unawares the boy took the full blow of the impact and staggered back, bending forward, clutching his middle; and Chris took the opportunity to land a solid punch to the boy's face—boosting it with a little TK. The kid fell back onto ground and the crowd roared with laughter… (F)Chris barely had a chance to back away though before the boy was back up; he grabbed him by the shirt using one hand, the other clenched into a fist and aimed at (F)Chris's face.
It was a bad move.
Wyatt's growl was low and menacing and much too dangerous for a schoolyard brawl. He launched himself at the boy, catching the kid's fist with his hand and shoving his body into the boys, causing him to release (F)Chris who quickly back away.
"Never touch my brother," Wyatt growled into his opponents face. The warning would have been followed by some physical incentives to make sure it was followed, but the sudden, absolute silence of the crowd made Wyatt aware of a problem.
The clearing of a throat made his sure of it.
"Leading your brother down the same path of corruption, are we Mister Halliwell?" A smug voice stated. "Release your schoolmate," the voice commanded.
Wyatt sent one last chilling glare to the boy—who seemed to finally have realized he'd stepped on the tail of a lion, before turning to face the Assistant Principal, who had his hand on (F)Chris's slim shoulder.
"You'll be suspended for this Wyatt." The man said coldly, "It's your third infraction in less then two months."
"But this time it wasn't his fault, Mr. Fields…" (F)Chris stated plaintively, "… that boy started it…" he defended.
The man glanced down at (F)Chris, than to Wyatt, than to the other boy—who showed many signs of being the loser of the fight, than back to (F)Chris…
"I highly doubt that, young Christopher…"
"Well it's the truth, dammit!"
The man's eyebrows arched, "Fighting and cussing on school property… we'll just see what your mother has to say about this…"
The images in front of them began to blur and fade; and suddenly they were standing in a parking lot. They all looked around quickly for anything that looked remotely happy.
"I don't get it," Phoebe complained, "We're supposed to be seeing a happy moment..."
"This does not look happy..." Paige agreed.
"That's the link," Chris told them glumly, "All these memories-" but he didn't get a chance to finish.
A door on the side of the building suddenly burst open to reveal a very youthful-looking dark haired woman in tan pants and a blue tang-top blouse; her long, dark hair was pulled away from her face and held there by an elegant clip. Her strides long and smooth and angry… two boys trailed after her as she made her way across the lot. The crunch of gravel underneath her feet giving testament to her mood.
"Oooooooh... she looks pissed," Phoebe commented as (F)Piper stalked right through them all without pausing.
Wyatt and (F)Chris followed slowly, dragging their feet, with their heads bowed—the perfect picture of desolation.
"Get in the car," (F)Piper ground out. (F)Chris stopped moving, Wyatt made a move to continue to walk, but suddenly his brother's arm shot out and stopped him.
"It wasn't our fault, Mom!" (F)Chris cried, looking up at her.
"Get in the car…" (F)Piper repeated and moved to open the car door for them, "Both of you… in the back… now."
Wyatt tried to move, but (F)Chris held him fast, "... but Mom, that other boy, he-"
"Shut-up Chris," Wyatt cut him off harshly and pulled his arm out of his bother's grasp, then moved to do their mother's bidding.
"No," (F)Chris responded, "It isn't fair! Wyatt didn't start this one Mom! It wasn't his fault—or mine!"
(F)Piper released an aggravated sigh, and slammed the car door shut—the car practically rattled.
"I had hoped to do this at home… but if you're in such a hurry, I'll oblige you Christopher…"
"That so does not sound good," Paige commented biting her lip.
"Jeez, Piper lighten up a little," Phoebe added, looking at (P)Piper.
(P)Piper rolled her eyes, "They were fighting," she said as if that explained it all.
"That other boy has a broken lip and an eye that's nearly swollen shut! Mr. Fields claims that you and your brother assaulted him! And quite honestly—that's exactly what it looks like!" (F)Piper shrieked.
"But it wasn't our fault!"
"It's Wyatt's third fight!" (F)Piper yelled shooting her older son a glare, "He's suspended! For a week! And you have detention for two weeks!" She added, turning back to Chris.
"This behavior is completely unacceptable— and cursing! Where do you even here that stuff!" She continued.
"NO," (F)Piper cut him off, "I don't want to hear it! You know you're not supposed to copy her! And you definitely know not to get into fights!" her voice dropped suddenly, "I mean come on guys, Phoebe trains you in the martial arts... you have a completely unfair advantage…"
"But Mom we didn't assault him!" (F)Chris insisted, "He was askin for it! He said-"
"Just shut-up and get in the car, Chris," Wyatt hissed with real venom.
It might have been have been her older son's tone or the realization that this was the second time he'd ordered his sibling to shut-up but at that point (F)Piper finally realized that there was something else going on here.
She looked between her two boys for a moment, before pinning her gaze on Wyatt.
"I'll give you a chance to confess first Wyatt—what don't you want Chris to say…?" she asked, her voice low and seemingly calm.
"Nothing," the boy mumbled, his gaze downcast as he used his foot to move around some gravel, "It's not a big deal," he added, then made a move to get in the car.
(F)Piper lifted one hand and flicked her wrist.
"MOM." Wyatt hissed, lifting an angry gaze to his mother, "Unfreeze the door," he ordered; (F)Piper arched an eyebrow and put a hand on her hip.
"Please…" the boy added, more gently.
Piper met his gaze a moment then shifted to look at Chris, "Spill it, buddy…"
"Shut-up Chris." Wyatt repeated.
(F)Chris looked between his mother and brother…
"Christopher," (F)Piper stated.
And they all watched at the young boy released a sigh.
"That kid deserved it Mom." (F)Chris insisted, his green eyes flashing, "He's just jealous 'cause he's an eighth grader and Wy's only a seventh grader but he's more popular… and better at everything too…" (F)Chris trailed off when Wyatt's fierce blue gaze met his green one.
It was obvious that he wanted to continue, but he also didn't want to upset his brother.
"I'm beginning to lose my patience with you two." (F)Piper said clearly frustrated, "If I don't get an answer in the next thirty seconds I swear this ride home will be the last light of day you two see in a week… I'll ship you to Magic School, and pull you out of every activity…"
"Mom!" Both boys cried alarmed.
"You can't do that!"
"I have practice!"
"Twenty seconds left…"
"It's not a big deal!"
"It wasn't Wyatt's fault!"
"Ten seconds left…"
"It was just a stupid fight!"
"He had it coming!"
"Four, three, two…"
"He said we were bastards!"
"Dammit! I said SHUT-UP!" Wyatt roared at his little brother.
"YOU DO NOT CURSE AT YOUR BROTHER!" (F)Piper yelled at her oldest son.
Then turned a slightly pale and very shocked expression to (F)Chris, "He what!"
For a moment (F)Chris looked taken aback at being yelled at by Wyatt, then suddenly his gaze morphed into one of fury and his eyes narrowed on his brother.
"He what, Chris?" (F)Piper asked again.
(F)Chris continued to glare at Wyatt, "I'm tryin to help you, butt-head…" he muttered to his brother, who rolled his eyes.
(F)Piper threw her hands up in the air and looked to Wyatt, "Explain, Wyatt." She commanded.
Wyatt glared at her, "What's there to explain?" he asked belligerently, "You heard Chris… the kid said we were bastards…"
(F)Piper shook her head as if to clear it, "But why… there are plenty of kids who's father aren't active in their lives…"
Neither boy answered.
Wyatt answered her, his voice deep with anger, "He said a woman who looks like you has probably had more men then she can count."
(F)Piper's eyes widened and she gasped.
But Wyatt wasn't finished, "He was talkin about you running the nightclub… about the kinda woman that does that…"
Piper's eyes had narrowed into slits, "Why the little-"
She didn't finish the thought, but the way her hands clenched left no doubt as to what she was thinking. With angry movements she turned and started moving back to the door.
"Mom?" Wyatt called.
"Wait here… I'm going to give that little piece of shit something to gossip about…" she growled.
"No, Mom…" Wyatt called, following her a little, "… don't…" his voice deepened somehow as he continued, "I handled it…"
(F)Piper's steps stopped and the sisters and Leo watched her hold herself perfectly still for a moment, before she whirled around and to face her son. The parking lot was absolutely still for a moment, before a slow grin spread across Piper's face.
"You did, didn't you…" she stated, suddenly amused.
(F)Chris came to life suddenly, jumping up, "Oh you shoulda seen'im Mom… it was pow… and then pow…"
(F)Piper chuckled as (F)Chris laid the punches into the air.
A moment later she looked behind at the school, "Mr. Fields-"
"-is a jerk." (F)Chris insisted, "He wouldn't even listen to me! I tried to tell him… but he wouldn't listen…"
Piper's gaze heated up suddenly and she shot her older son a look, "Don't curse at your brother…"
"Yeah, Wy…don't curse at me!" (F)Chris parroted.
The older boy rolled his eyes, "Oh come on Mom, you just called Tyler a little shit…"
"… well that is true Mom… and this morning Aunt Phoebe said that she was going to fuckin dump the ass she was dating…"
"What? It's what she said…"
(F)Piper rolled her eyes, "I don't want you two to curse… and especially not at each other… no matter what your aunt and I do…"
"Dammit… doesn't really count, Mom… it's not like shit." Wyatt stated, his blue eyes twinkling.
(F)Piper sighed, "Okay, okay… dammit is allowed… but not each other and not at school—or at least not in front of the disciplinarian… deal?"
The boys looked at each other then at her, "Deal." They said simultaneously, both grinning.
"Okay then… let's blow this dump… I think Wyatt's handling of this situation deserves ice cream…"
Piper nodded, "Oh yeah… maybe even a movie… hop in…"
Wyatt laughed, "If you think I handled it well… you should'a seen Chris… he flung the kid on the ground…"
"Did you?" Piper asked her younger son as they surrounded the car, her voice impressed.
Chris rolled his eyes as he nodded, "It was too easy Mom… I used the tackle Aunt Phoebes taught me when I was like six…"
Piper laughed as she reached out and ruffled his hair, "Why do you think you guys are getting ice cream," she said as she flicked her wrist to unfreeze Wyatt's door, "You demonstrated very good self-control here today…"
"Wyatt really did try to walk away Mom…" Chris said softly.
To which Wyatt scowled, "Shut-up…" he told his brother, "… and stay out of my head…"
Chris shrugged, "I didn't mean to… I got a vision when we were walkin to Mr. Fields' office…"
"You know…" Piper said suddenly, stepping back out of the car when she'd almost gotten in, "I get how Wyatt was fighting, since the boy was jealous of him… how did you get involved…"
Chris grinned, "I was tryin to get Wyatt to stop fightin… until Tyler, that's the kid's name, until he opened his big fat mouth and I felt the need to put my fist in it…" Chris stated simply.
Piper rolled her eyes, "You two are gonna be the death of me…" she said laughing, "Get in the car… I've just decided… pizza might be good too…"
"Jeez, Wy, we're gonna hafta get into fights more often…" Chris said as he slipped into the car.
"Hey, I'm a regular at it… you've got some catching up to do…"
"Oh god… what I have I done…" Piper cried, in mock horror, as she slipped behind the wheel.
A moment later the car was in gear and speeding out of the lot—the laughter of little boys echoing behind them.
"Please tell me I spoke to the principal about that boy," Piper huffed, as the world around them crystallized and they began to move.
Chris rolled his eyes when he heard her, "Yes, you did and the assistant Principal... and the boy's mother, and the boy's father, and probably his entire extended family too..."
Piper nodded, looking satisfied. Chris rolled his eyes, "Thank this is almost over."
"How do you know?" Phoebe asked.
Paige nodded, "Yeah, and what's that link you figured out?"
"The link is really simple – all these good memories start off bad; and I know it's all almost over, because I only have one more memory that starts off bad and ends good. All the other bad ones stay bad."
"But why did it do that?" Piper asked, "I asked about good memories..."
Chris shrugged shooting all the sisters heated glares, "It's not my spell." he hissed.
Paige smirked, "He sounds a tad upset..." she said to Phoebe.
"You noticed that too?" she responded, her eyes twinkling.
"Oh, you're amused… I'm glad you're fuckin amused!" Chris roared.
"Don't' curse at us, young man." Piper reprimanded. "I won't tolerate that… as your mother and as your charge!" She clarified.
Chris rolled his eyes.
"You were only six in the first memory," Leo asked.
"Yeah," Chris answered shortly, looking around. They were somehow glided into place; hovering over the kitchen, as the swirls of color slowly began to focus.
"That's rather young for baseball, isn't it?" Leo continued.
Chris was still looking around, and answered his father in a bored tone, "Mom enrolled me in the pee-wee league when I was four; said I needed a place to put all my energy into."
"Oh." Leo responded, "And in this one that just passed? How old were you then?"
"Ten." He responded, as they landed with a small thud, in the kitchen.
"So what's goin on-" Phoebe began asking but cut herself off as (F)Piper strode through the doorway. Fury in every movement.
"Uh-oh…" Paige stated.
"Sit. Down. Chris." She said, enunciating her words clearly, speaking slowly.
It brought all their attentions to the boy that had followed (F)Piper into the kitchen. He was older than the one who'd just gotten into a fight defending his mother's reputation; in fact he didn't look much younger than the boy who would find his mother's body.
He looked solemn and… rather calm in the face of his mother's obvious rage. Carefully, he did as she asked, taking a seat at the kitchen table.
(F)Piper took a deep breath, but remained silent.
"If possible… which I didn't think it was… but if possible, she looks even more pissed off now then in the last memory…" Paige commented.
"I'm good at testing limits." (P)Chris replied simply.
"This turns good right? Like the others?" Phoebe asked, a bit worriedly.
"How 'bout this one? How old are you in this one?" Leo asked.
Chris released a frustrated groan and rolled his eyes, "I'm thirteen in this one and yes, Phoebe, it does turn good…" he paused, then shrugged, "… sort of…"
"Sort of?" Phoebe asked, alarmed, "What does that mean?"
Chris rolled his eyes, and didn't answer.
(F)Piper was pacing, (F)Chris was sitting at the table—very still and very silent.
"Whatever this is, it's bad…" Paige said studying the scene.
(P)Chris didn't reply.
"I don't even know what to say," (F)Piper huffed, still pacing, "You've done stupid things in your lifetime Chris; but this... this takes the cake..."
(F)Chris said nothing, his gaze on his hands.
"Oh, come on Mom. What about the time he tried to bind his own powers so you'd let him go to camp? That was pretty stupid..." Wyatt stated coming in from behind them.
All gazes fastened on the tall, blonde teenager that strolled in. He was gorgeous and smiling and looking everything, but a murderer.
Of course this was still a boy.
A boy they just couldn't picture killing his little cousin…
"Stay out of this Wyatt!" (F)Piper hissed.
"Oh come on Mom. I don't even know what this is! I'm at the high school, that's a different building remember!"
"Oh I remember alright!" (F)Piper growled, whirling back on (F)Chris, "It's apparently your brother that doesn't remember!"
Wyatt frowned, looking to (F)Chris as well, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means Chris got caught in the high school building making out with a girl in the teacher's lounge," (F)Piper explained acidly.
"He what! Clearly Wyatt hadn't expected that.
"You heard me." (F)Piper stated, her heated gaze still on (F)Chris's lowered head.
"Bu-but..." Wyatt shook his head, "I mean... jeez, Chris and you got caught!" He cried as though that were the biggest offence.
(F)Piper whirled on him, "Go to your room Wyatt; leave your brother to me." She said ominously.
But Wyatt didn't move. "What were you thinking! If you your gonna pull dumb shit like that, the least you can do is not get-"
"I said go to your room, Wyatt!" (F)Piper screeched and both boys, along with (P)Chris, the Sisters and Leo who were observing, jumped a little.
"I'm jus sayin-"
There was a threat in that tone; and with one last disgusted look at his brother, Wyatt headed for the stairs.
The kitchen was silent.
(F)Piper pacing once again – slowly this time; (F)Chris was still staring down at his hands.
"You were doing so well," She said suddenly, "You're grades are up, you've stopped getting into fights, the flow of detentions has slowed to a trickle, hell… your teachers are even raving about how wonderful your class participation has been!" her voice finished on a high note of frustration as she stopped in front of her son.
"What the hell happened?" she asked.
(F)Chris remained silent.
"Pleading the fifth ain't gonna work, kid, so spill it." She hissed at him.
(F)Chris swallowed hard and looked up at her, "Mr. Hasting asked me to make copies for him." He told her, "The copier in our building doesn't have the color scanner, so I went to the High School…"
(F)Piper cocked her head to one side, "Funny; in that raving tirade your principal subjected me to, I didn't here copies mentioned. The debauching of an innocent, the seduction of an honor roll student, the violation of school regulations and basic moral principals – yes. Copies, no."
(F)Chris didn't respond.
"Dammit, Chris I want an explanation! What were you doing with that poor girl!"
(F)Chris's eyes narrowed suddenly, the first sign of anger he'd displayed, "Jeez, Mom, she's 15; older than me!"
"I don't care how old she is! I care that you were doing something you shouldn't have been doing in a place you shouldn't have been in! And I want to know why!" She cried.
Something flickered in Chris's eyes and he sent his mother a mild smile, "Aw Mom, you know why… the girl's hot…"
(F)Piper's eyes narrowed in anger, "That is no excuse Chris!"
"No, but it's a reason." He responded cheekily.
"You've been suspended Chris! Thank god, you've cleaned up your act recently or else they would've expelled you!"
(F)Chris sighed loudly, and stood, "You're overreacting-"
"Sit. Down." Piper barked.
Chris instantly obeyed, dropping back down onto the chair.
"I have a mind to call your father down for this!" (F)Piper continued.
The boy snorted, "Like he'd come – there's no blood involved."
"Not yet." (F)Piper snarled, "I am not overreacting, Christopher. You've crossed the line here. You've been acting like a little juvenile delinquent for the past year… but this is different." Her voice was serious.
She stared down at her son, "I won't have you messing up your life Chris. Or some poor girl's. You are not allowed to make out with girls."
"That kinda limits my options, Mom…" (F)Chris piped up.
(F)Piper didn't rise to the bait; her gaze focused more intently on her son, Chris looked down, "I hope you are truly ashamed of your behavior Chris, because quite honestly I am."
At that his head shot up and his eyes widened; clearly his mother had never said anything like that to him before.
"Mom I-" he began, but she cut him off.
"I thought I raised you to be different kind of guy, Chris. Not the kind that makes out with girls in public places."
(F)Chris stood again, this time (F)Piper said nothing, just stared at him. He opened his mouth to talk.
She beat him to it.
"I thought a boy raised by a mother and aunts would have more respect for a girl's reputation. Or more to the point I thought I'd raised you to respect a girl, period."
The kitchen was silent again.
Leo and sisters were holding their breaths; when the memory had begun they'd been prepared to see Chris be punished. Piper had been furious and they'd been ready to see him grounded or worse; but this was different – slowly they'd begun to realize that Piper was indeed punishing him, in a much more effective and memorable way than grounding could ever do.
She was letting him understand her disappointment.
"It won't happen again." (F)Chris said seriously. His green gaze fixed on his mother's brown one.
(F)Piper held his gaze a moment longer, then nodded slightly; her eyes suddenly moist, "I don't want you to be that boy, Chris." She whispered.
(F)Chris shook his head vigorously, "I won't… I'm not. I promise…" he insisted.
She nodded, more strongly this time and reached impulsively to give him a hug. He accepted it.
A moment later she pulled back, "Go do some homework, I'll call you and Wy down when dinners ready…" she said, clearly ending this topic of conversation.
(F)Chris nodded and headed for the stairs, his foot was on the fist step when he heard her speak to him again.
"We'll discuss your punishment later," she stated firmly.
(F)Chris nodded solemnly but didn't turn to face her.
"And Chris…" she called again, "I'd like you to send Allison Forge an apology…" she said softly.
He turned slowly and looked at her, a soft sigh escaping him, "I will." He said softly and (F)Piper sent him a brilliant smile.
(F)Chris began trudging up the stairs.
"Okay, that was not happy." Phoebe complained.
"That isn't over." (P)Chris told her; but hadn't even bothered to turn her way.
They watched as the young Chris slowly climbed the stairs; he seemed to be lost in thought.
"Allison Forge, huh?"
The quiet question caught everyone – everyone but (P)Chris – by surprise. They all started.
(F)Chris jumped, clearly jarred out of his thoughts, his expression was wary as he eyed his brother, who was casually leaning against the wall. "How much did you hear?" he asked carefully.
"All of it." Wyatt confessed.
"You should'a been in your room."
"And you should'a told Mom the truth."
(F)Chris glared at him, "I did tell her the truth."
"Not all of it."
"And how would you know all of it."
"Because I know Allison Forge…" Wyatt stated, suddenly very serious as he pushed off the wall and took a few steps to stand in front of his little brother, "I know her M.O. and her sob story. I've seen her play it for a year and a half."
(F)Chris looked away.
"She came onto to you, didn't she?" he asked.
"She was going to show me how to use the scanner; one minute she's putting the paper in it, the next her hand is grabbing my ass and her tongue is in my mouth…"
"You should'a known better."
(F)Chris's head swung around, "Christ Wyatt she looks like a fairy. How the hell was I supposed to know she was a freakin molester!" he snarled.
Wyatt chuckled a little, then sobered, "Her dad's a jerk. Even from a distance you can tell he treats her like shit. Always yelling that she's not good enough."
"She's a straight A student, popular, liked by all the teachers, and gorgeous – what more does he want?"
Wyatt shrugged. "She isn't perfect though." He said softly, "She's easy Chris. She comes on to every guy she likes. Aunt Phoebes would'a said she looks for the affection her father won't give her in all the wrong places."
"Yeah, but… she's never been caught before… god, Wy…" he whispered. "She went pale as a ghost when that door opened. I seriously thought she was going to pass out."
"So you took the blame." Wyatt stated, his blue gaze intent.
(F)Chris shrugged carelessly, "I'm an old hand at it. A set-down, some detention, a suspension – I'm used to them. She was about to have a panic attack. It was no big deal."
"Except that you've just trashed all the good work you've been doing for the past five months."
"It's not like anybody expected me to stick to it, Wy."
Wyatt didn't respond, just studied his brother.
"A leopard and its spots and all that…"
Still Wyatt said nothing.
(F)Chris began to fidget in place, "I just fulfilled expectations, you know…"
"Mom was really proud of you." He said finally, and a flash of sorrow flitted across (F)Chris's face.
"I know." He said softly.
"She's disappointed in you now." Wyatt continued, "More than she's ever been; to her this is bigger than fights and pranks…"
(F)Chris's eyes flashed, "I know that! You don't have to rub it in."
"You could tell Mom… about Allison."
"She'd go to the school. She'd announce to everyone I was innocent then she'd go after Allison's father and make sure he wasn't hurting her… and in the process disrupt the girl's entire life."
"Probably." Wyatt agreed.
"Definitely." (F)Chris countered.
A smirk touched Wyatt's mouth, "Yeah, definitely."
(F)Chris released a long sigh, "It's over anyways… she's forgiven me… she always does."
Wyatt nodded, then tilted his head to one side, "Still… this whole good-behavior-thing, you were doing it for her, to make her proud… it kinda sucks that you blew it so completely for a girl that's not even a friend of yours."
(F)Chris nodded, "Yeah, it kinda does suck…" he agreed, moving towards his room, now that the conversation seemed to be winding down.
Wyatt followed slowly; "Chris…" he called out, before his brother left the hallway.
"I know it's not the same and all, but for what it's worth—I'm proud you." He said, almost hesitantly.
Surprise flitted across (F)Chris's face, "Really?" he asked softly.
Wyatt nodded, "Yeah… I mean, you made a decision and you stuck by it. Even when Mom was piling on all that guilt, you didn't crack. You stuck by the choice you'd made. It takes real strength to do that, Chris; real power." He finished steadily. "So yeah… I'm proud of you."
(F)Chris stared at him a moment, working those words through his mind, then a slow grin spread across his face, "Cool," he said, "Thanks Wy… does that mean I can borrow your ipod during my imprisonment?"
Wyatt laughed, walking over to his brother and ruffling the younger boy's dark hair, "Yeah, I guess you can… only during the imprisonment though…"
"And you gotta take all the junk you put in out before you give it back…"
"I don't put junk in it…"
"Everything you listen to is junk…"
"It is not-"
The voices faded, as the boys entered the bedroom. And just as Chris had predicted the vortex loomed in front of them sucking them into it.
A moment later they were in the living room once again.
"Well, that was confusing." Paige stated and dropped down on the couch.
Chris didn't even bother looking at her, with swift movements he went over to a desk, pulled open a drawer, found a pad of paper and a pen, and moved to the sofa. He sat down and without a word to his family began scrawling things down on the page.
"What're you doin?" Phoebe asked, walking over to him and peering over his shoulder.
"Writing a reversal spell to the curse you cast on me."
Phoebe frowned, "It wasn't our fault that it turned out that way… and that last memory was not happy, mister." Phoebe accused.
Chris glared at her, "Well, jee, I'm sorry my memories don't meet with your approval!" he hissed at her.
"That isn't what she meant and you know it," Piper defended.
Chris released a frustrated sigh, "You know, I give you people a crumb and you steal the whole damn loaf. I answered most of your questions today, I let you hug me and pat my head and spout nonsense about how cute I am and instead of being grateful and pleased you invade my memories again. Knowing that-"
"But they were supposed to be happy!" Phoebe cried.
"-the future is risked every time you learn something new." He continued without pausing. "There are rules about this sorta thing. I broke practically every one of them. I'm kinda intent on keeping the ones I didn't break."
"No, Paige, you don't know. You don't know anything." He interrupted her, but there wasn't anger in his voice— only certainty. "I'm the one who knows. Because although I technically haven't been born yet, I'm older than the three of you in a hundred different ways." He stood up then, the pad and pen still in his hand.
"I think I'll go work at P3 for awhile." He finished softly.
He prepared to orb out, but Leo stopped him with a soft question.
"Was it a good memory, Chris?" Leo asked.
Chris tilted his head to one side and eyed Leo for the first time since re-entering the living room. His attention and words had been focused on the sisters, but now he took the time to look at the man who had fathered him.
Funny, how he'd been the only one to ask.
"Wyatt was proud of me." He whispered as an answer.
Then orbed away before yet another thing was revealed about the future.
"I feel like scum... worse then scum..." Phoebe stated a few moment after Chris orbed out.
"... like the scum of dirt..." Paige cried.
"Yeah!" her sister agreed.
"I feel about two feet tall." Piper whispered.
"I knew it was a bad idea."
"Well, then you should have stopped us!" Paige cried.
"Jeez, Leo you should have done something!"
"Not just let us dig our own graves!"
Leo rolled his eyes and groaned, "You wouldn't listen!" he cried in his defense, but knew it was futile.
"Well you should have made us listen!" Paige cried.
Piper nodded, "It's what you usually do!"
"I mean you're an Elder for christsakes!" Phoebe yelled at him.
"Yeah, well, I'm on hiatus!" He yelled back, then cringed— that wasn't exactly how he'd planned on informing them.
Piper's hopeful tone cut through his irritation quickly. He turned to her and nodded slowly, "Yeah. I am." He told her simply.
She took a few steps towards him, "Since when?"
"Since this morning... after you left the attic... when you were watching that second memory, I guess." He told her, and took a few steps towards her.
They were standing in front of each other now.
"For how long?"
"The Charmed Ones are very important in keeping the balance." He told her seriously, instead of answering her question.
"Every time a situation arises, time is wasted while their current Whitelighter checks with the Elders. And their children... well, they're all going to need special guidance too."
Piper swallowed hard, "What does that mean?"
"An Elder has been selected to work as a liaison between the Charmed Ones; their future families and the Elders."
"An Elder given the power to make general decisions concerning this family without consulting the other Elders..." he explained.
"An Elder?" He voice was a little more than a whisper.
"This Elder." Leo corrected after a moment.
Her smile was hesitant, "Really?" she asked again.
"But, the Elders-"
"-can either accept that my family needs me and work with me to coordinate my duties in a way that won't interfere with that or clip my wings."
She just stared him.
He looked down suddenly, shuffling his feet and looking rather embarrassed, "That is… if you'll have me… I mean, I plan to be around more for the boys definitely, but if you don't want me around… uh, I understand. I mean I know I haven't been the best hus-"
His words were cut off by Piper reaching up on tip toes and planting a firm kiss on his mouth. He reacted instinctively, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her against him.
The kiss was a promise, an acceptance, a future all rolled into one; and would have continued into something more had two gleeful chuckles not disturbed the atmosphere.
"Oh this is so great!" Phoebe gushed, "They're back together!"
"I know!" Paige cried, "You guys are SO adorable together!"
Piper grimaced as she pulled away from Leo and turned to face her sisters; he wrapped his arms around her from behind.
"Um, you guys think Leo and I… could, uh, get some privacy." She stated wryly.
Phoebe and Paige blinked at her, then looked to Leo, then looked at each other and finally back to Piper.
Sheepishly, they nodded, "Yeah, yeah… sorry…" They murmured in unison as they hurriedly left the room.
Piper turned back Leo, her smile warm, "We have a lot to talk about mister; primarily the fact that you've apparently knocked me up." She murmured, letting him pull her closer, "But the important thing is… if you're ready to stay, I'm willing to have ya…"