"Do you realize what you just let happen?" Piper said to Leo, hysterically.
"Piper you need to calm down." Leo tried to reason with her.
"I just killed my own son!" She shouted, still hysterical. And then repeated more quietly as reality set in, "My God, I just killed my own son. How am I going to live with that?" Then she turned to Leo and asked, "How am I going to able to bring up Wyatt, knowing that one day I'll end up killing him?"
Before Leo could answer his distraught wife, Phoebe called out from the other side of the room. "They've disappeared." She said.
Both Leo and Piper turned to see what she was talking about and saw that the bodies of Chris and Wyatt had indeed disappeared.
"Where did they go?" Piper asked running over to where they had just been.
"Do you think the Avatars stole them?" Paige asked.
"No, I don't think the Avatars had anything to do with this." Leo said, as he looked at all three sisters looking back at him waiting for his explanation.
"I'm hoping," he said, "that the fact that they've disappeared means that the future has changed, and that we've stopped the paradox."
"If there ever was one." Piper mumbled.
"There's only one way to find out, I'll try to summon Clyde again and we'll see what happens." Leo suggested.
"Clyde! Get your butt down here you fetid worm from the bog of eternal stench! Your Mother was a chunky substance from a gin cesspool. And she smelled bad too!"
Suddenly a gust of wind appeared above them, flying around the room. Slowly it settled next to Leo, finally turning into Clyde.
"Well it's about time, Leo! I've been on so many loops I was starting to get dizzy!" Clyde exclaimed.
Piper opened her mouth to speak, but Leo got in first, "Clyde, please tell me I did the right thing." He almost begged.
Clyde could sense his anguish, "Yes, Leo, you did the right thing. What you did not only saved me from being trapped, but you saved the world from an eternal paradox."
"But my boys?" Piper asked him, "Are they always destined to die now?"
"No, Piper that's not how it works. Trust me when I say that they are both fine, in the sense that their futures will now be." Clyde explained.
"I don't understand." Piper said exasperated.
"Please, Clyde, can you tell us what happened. From the beginning." Leo requested.
"Of course, happy to. You saved me after all." He said gratefully as he looked around at all of them.
"It's quite simple really. Your sons caused a paradox when they came back in time together. When that paradox was formed I must have been travelling in between time periods because I was thrown into some kind of void, where I've been trapped. The only way I could communicate was through dreams, and even that took a long time to master."
"How did they cause the paradox?" Phoebe asked him.
"I'm not quite sure of the exact moment, but as far as I can tell, the original timeline had Wyatt growing with Excalibur. It corrupted him and was accidentally destroyed in the future, so he tried to travel back in time to retrieve it. He only planned to go back to the time when he was a teenager and was still training with it, but when Chris accidentally went through the portal with him, the spell couldn't cope and the vortex spewed them out in this time."
"What did the Avatars have to do with everything?" Leo asked him.
"The Avatars did not get a chance to tell you this time, but they are dying. The power they used to change the world and then rewind time was too much for them and as a result, their collective is now dying. There was nothing they could do about this until Adult Wyatt showed up and they could sense how powerful he was. The Avatars, in their sneaky way, hoped to get permission from adult Wyatt to give him their powers, and then transfer them to Baby Wyatt. That's why they were so keen on you healing them, Leo."
"So if I had saved Wyatt's life he would have been given all the powers of the Avatars." Leo clarified.
"Yes, and that did happen many times before, and you helped him develop those powers as he grew. Because you had been an Avatar, you would have been drawn to him, to guide him, and the Avatars knew this."
"So consequently I would have neglected Chris, which is the other future Chris came from." Leo said realising where this was all leading.
"That's right. When Chris and Wyatt coming back in time together, that actually caused Chris's other future where Wyatt was obsessed with power. The future that Chris came back to save when he sent you to Valhalla."
"So Wyatt would have grown up evil and Chris would have come back in time to save him again." Leo said.
"Exactly! That Chris would have died because of Gideon, and then Baby Chris would grow up with Baby Wyatt who would be given Excalibur by mistake and then we start all over again."
"Are you following any of this?" Leo asked the girls.
"I think so." Piper said, still thinking it all through.
"What about the dreams?" Phoebe asked.
"Good question." Piper complimented her.
"I sent the dreams at very particular times when I knew the paradox could be broken. If Chris could have been prevented from ever travelling back in time from Avatar Wyatt, then the paradox would have ended. That's why I sent them to the Leo who had neglected Chris in the future."
"But we would have been stuck with an evil world." Leo said.
"I never said my plan was perfect, but I didn't have many opportunities." Clyde justified.
"What about the next time?" Paige asked.
"If you'd known Gideon was evil you wouldn't have used his spell for the portal, you would have used your own potion. You would have gone to the future, discovered why Wyatt was evil and then returned to the past and fixed it. And the paradox would have also been broken."
Before he was asked Clyde continued, "And the third time I was trying to prevent Chris and Wyatt from coming back in time to get Excalibur because that's what caused all of this in the first place. And lastly now by allowing your sons to die, Wyatt will not grow up an Avatar and their future will be changed. Given you also know about Excalibur, I'd say that the future is looking pretty good."
"Okay, I understand about Wyatt, but why did Chris have to die?" Piper asked him.
"Well he didn't really, it was only Wyatt who the Avatars were after." Clyde said.
"Are you telling me I just watched my son die an agonizing death for nothing?" Piper asked angrily.
"Piper, please believe me, everything has turned out all right. There was no way I could let you know not to let Chris die, and anyway, I'm not completely sure the Avatars wouldn't have been after him if Wyatt had died anyway. He's more powerful than he realizes."
Piper just shook her head, then she had a thought, "Why the images of people moving in circles?"
"How else do you visualize people living in a continual loop? Please understand it was very difficult for me to send any messages. I could only send you fragments of information. The fact that I got through to you at all was a miracle. You've got to remember, I didn't cause this, and I am very much the victim here." He said looking for sympathy, but not getting any. "And you witches need to learn to leave time travel to the professionals!" He chastised.
"How long did the paradox go on for, anyway?" Phoebe asked.
Clyde looked at them and sighed, "Forty-two loops!"
"Forty-two!" They all exclaimed at the same time.
"You've been trapped for all that time?" Leo asked him.
"How many years is that?" Paige queried.
"Way too many! That's how I know so much about your lives. I watched it all over and over and over,"
"We get the point," Piper said, cutting him off.
"Why didn't anyone else sense the paradox? We deal with magical people every day, surely someone would have sensed it." Leo asked.
"Because you were all living it. If I had not been trapped in that void, I would have been living it as well. Even the Avatars who are supposed to exist outside of time and space didn't sense it. I was a lucky anomaly. Because I had been thrown outside of the paradox, I could see how to stop it."
Clyde looked at the girls and Leo. "Does everyone understand now, are there anymore questions you'd like to ask?"
Piper looked sadly over to the corner of the attic where she'd just witnessed her sons' death. She looked to the floor, still fighting tears as she remembered what they had just gone through. She looked up at Clyde and said quietly, "I understand what you're saying. I see now that they had to die, but that doesn't make it any easier. I still have the memories of watching Chris suffer." She put her hand up to her mouth, trying hard to stop herself from breaking down. After she composed herself she continued, "Can you tell me, with absolute certainty, that what happened today will lead to Baby Chris and Baby Wyatt having a better life?"
"I'm sorry, Piper, I'm not the ghost for the future, I am the ghost of the past, so I cannot tell you with absolute certainty, no. But I can tell you that now Wyatt will neither grow up an Avatar, nor with Excalibur, because you have prevented both those things. You know about Jeni, and I'm sure you will contact her parents in London to make sure that she and Chris meet in the future. You have so much foresight, that I'm sure everything will turn out just fine."
Piper smiled at Clyde, appreciating what he had just said. "Thank you, but it would just be nice to know for sure."
Clyde looked away as if he suddenly had a thought.
"What is it?" Leo asked noticing.
"I'm not sure. Why don't you go downstairs and relax for a few minutes. I just have to check something. I'll be back as soon as I can." He told them.
Before anyone could answer, he disappeared in a big gust of wind, which swirled around the room, and then it was gone.
"Well, I suppose we'll do what he said." Leo said as he turned to walk toward the stairs.
Phoebe and Paige went to follow him, but Piper called to Leo. They all turned to face her. "You guys go ahead, I just want to talk to Leo for a sec." She said to her sisters.
They did as they were told and made their way down the stairs, as Leo walked up to Piper and asked, "What is it?"
Piper looked up into his eyes. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry." She said gently to him.
"Piper, it's okay, I understand." Leo said, trying to stop her apology.
"I know you understand, Leo, but I still want to say this. I know the decision you made with Chris and Wyatt would have been the toughest decision of your life. I said some things to you, and I want you to know I didn't mean them. I know you did what you thought was right, and I know you don't make decisions lightly. I just wanted you to know that and I hope you'll forgive me." Piper said, as she tried to blink away tears.
Leo put his hand up to her cheek and gently wiped a tear that had just fallen there. "Piper, you don't need to apologise for your love of our boys. You were grief stricken after what happened, and rightly so." He put his arms around her and held her tightly as she lent her head to his chest, enjoying the moment.
"It's over now, and everything's going to be all right. Our boys will now grow up to a better future, I promise." He assured her. "Are you ready to go downstairs now?"
She nodded. A few seconds later they orbed into the Living Room to join Phoebe and Paige who were already sitting on the couch.
"You okay, Piper?" Phoebe asked her.
Before Piper could answer a gust of wind formed in the room, moving down next to Piper and Leo, materialising as Clyde.
"Wonderful, you're all here." He said smiling.
"I have a surprise for you," He said as he snapped his fingers and a door appeared in front of him.
He opened it and a few second later, Big Chris and Big Wyatt came through as if someone had just pushed them.
Piper gasped as she put her hand to her mouth.
"But you said you're not the ghost for the future?" Leo questioned him.
"You're right I'm not." Clyde answered him.
"Then how were you able to bring them from the future? They are from the future aren't they?" Leo queried.
"Yes, Dad we're from the future." Chris answered for Clyde.
"From 2026, I believe." Clyde checked, looking at Chris and Wyatt.
They both nodded.
"But how?" Piper asked.
"You see, that's why you should leave time travel to the professionals. We have ways of getting around the rules. I am still the ghost of the past, and I am here showing them their past. That's what I do. Another mistake you make is believing that time is linear." He said shaking his head.
"I don't care, I'm just glad they're here." Piper said as she walked over and gave her sons a hug and kiss each.
"I just want you to know, this one's on me, to show you how grateful I am for rescuing me. After that, though, it'll be business as usual." Clyde told them.
"I'll be back to get them soon." He said as he disappeared in a gust of wind.
After saying hello to everyone, Wyatt and Chris sat down on a couple of chairs in the Living Room. Piper, Leo, Paige and Phoebe all sat around asking as many questions as they could.
"Do you know why you're here?" Piper asked.
"You both told us in the future to expect a visit from Clyde sometime this year." Wyatt said. "I guess because this all happened to them, or you, twenty-one years ago."
"I think we've had enough time travel talk for one day," Piper said. "I want to know more about you two."
"We've got to be pretty careful what we say, because of - "
"Future Consequences," Piper, Leo, Paige and Phoebe all said together. And then burst out laughing.
Chris turned to Wyatt, "Must be an in-joke." He said.
"You have no idea," Phoebe said to them.
"I don't need specifics, just general information is fine. Like are you both happy?"
They nodded, "We're great." Chris said.
"Anyone in the family evil in the future?" Paige asked.
They both shook their heads, "No, why?" Wyatt asked.
"Just checking." Piper answered. "Can you tell us what you do in the future?" Piper asked.
"We're not supposed to, but I guess it'll be okay." Chris answered.
"I'm a doctor," Wyatt said.
"A doctor!" Leo exclaimed, proudly. "I was a doctor."
"I know Dad, that's one of the reasons I went into medicine. I've found my healing powers and my knowledge of medicine has been a great mix." Wyatt explained to him.
Piper listened proudly, "Wow, a doctor, that's great Wyatt." She said. "What about you Chris?"
"At the moment I'm a teacher at Magic School," Chris explained.
"But I'm trying to talk him into going into politics," Wyatt cut in. "He is so good with people and is always trying to save things. Like whales or old buildings. What was your latest quest?" Wyatt asked him.
"Saving the natural ocean reefs." Chris answered.
"Oh yeah, that's right. Anyway he's always trying to save something."
Piper, Leo, Phoebe and Paige shared a smile, all of them seeing the irony of Chris' quests, and how he hadn't changed at all. He was still the same Chris trying to save the world only the circumstances had changed.
Before they knew it Clyde had returned and the boys' time was up. After there were more hugs all 'round, and a lot more tears, Wyatt and Chris went back through the door to their happier future.
That night before going to bed, Piper stared for a long time at her precious boys. The day she had just experienced had been both horrific and wonderful at the same time. It was a day she would remember for the rest of her life. She lent down and gave each of her sons one last kiss before retiring for the best night's sleep she'd had in a long time.
Thank you very much for reading my story, I have really enjoyed writing it. I would appreciate a review or a comment about it, and look forward to reading it.
I very much appreciate the reviews and comments I have received so far, and thank you for taking the time to do them.