Chapter 5 - Phoebe

Family dinner's had become a rare event in the Manor in recent years, so when Piper summoned one and all – by telephone – to the house, everyone was keen to come around. Phoebe, who arrived early to help set up, was impressed that even Wyatt made an effort, coming home early from a friend's birthday lunch. Chris was the last arrive, walking through the door when the rest of the family was already seated. Piper frowned at him, clearly thinking it impolite.

'Chris! I told you to be here half an hour ago.'

'Sorry, mum.' Chris panted, out of breath, 'look, um, I brought a friend with me, is that okay?'

Phoebe, who was sitting next to Piper, didn't notice certain members of the table sharing a significant look. Wyatt's face showed a confliction of amusement and concern, while Leo seemed totally unsure of what to feel. Only Paige was wearing a soft smile.

'Oh. Oh yes, that's fine, honey,' smiled Piper, her surprise event.

'Cool!' grinned Chris, turning and hurrying back out the door.

Phoebe shared her own look with Piper, both of them with raised eyebrows. Chris was a very private person - which was a considerable achievement in their family - and for him to voluntarily bring a friend to a family event was unheard of. As an empath, Phoebe was aware of the overwhelming curiousity and anticipation rolling off the other members of her family. She didn't associate this with anything unusual, though. The fear hidden in the hearts of Leo and Wyatt was buried beyond her ability.

She watched with great interest as Chris reappeared, the strange smile that had been on face for a while now again apparent. He was talking happily to the boy following him. Chris's friend was tall and quite big, wearing a tight yellow shirt and jeans. He seemed totally captivated by whatever Chris was saying and only looked at the rest of the family when he was standing in front of the table.

'Heya, I'm Matt,' he smiled, raising a hand in a small wave.

'Nice to meet you,' replied Piper, standing up, 'there's plenty of food to go around, so we're glad to have you.

Phoebe smiled and was surprised to feel strong emotions rolling off Chris. Usually, the kid was impossible to get a read off, even without an empath-blocking potion. Now, though, she suddenly felt her skin almost tingling with desire. She let out a small moan, earning her a very strange look from Coop. Blushing (not solely form embarrassment) Phoebe stared at Chris. She couldn't understand where these feelings were coming from. Matt had sat down opposite Wyatt, whom she would have noticed was eyeing him with distrust, if it hadn't been for emotional overload she was currently experiencing. She hadn't been this out of control of her powers in years.

'Do you go to school with Chris?' Paige was asking, her eyes flicking between Chris and Matt. The smile was still lingering on her face.

'Yeah. I'm finishing this year, though. Going travelling.'

'Anywhere nice?' enquired Leo, making an effort to join in the conversation.

'Middle-East. India. Anywhere that looks like fun, really.'

If anyone at the table had been examining Chris's face, it would have been clear that he wasn't happy, but it was Phoebe who felt the extent of his sadness.

'Don't go,' she said suddenly, with passion that wasn't hers, causing the table to fall quiet.

'Excuse me?' said Matt, staring at her.

'I'll miss…I mean, he'll miss…I mean, it's dangerous. Anything could happen.'

Everyone was looking at her in confusion, although Paige did seem to have an idea of what was happening. She slowly stood up, while Matt just raised an eyebrow, glancing at Chris.

'I'll bear that in mind.'

'I just need to have a little chat with Phoebe,' said Paige, with a forced note of cheeriness, 'in the kitchen.'

Phoebe gladly got up, giving Coop's shoulder a quick squeeze, and then hurried out of the room. Close behind her, Paige gave the group a reassuring smile.

'We'll be just a moment.'

Upon entering the kitchen, Phoebe threw here arms up in the air, savouring the distance from Chris and his wave of feelings. Paige was watching her worriedly.

'I just want to kiss him! And do lots of other things to him too. And stop him leaving. And have him look at me and touch me and-'

'Woah,' interrupted Paige, grabbing hold of Phoebe's shoulders mid-rant, 'get a hold of yourself.'

Letting out a groan of frustration, Phoebe made a face. She let out a long breath.

'It's just like when I first got my powers. I can't control it. If I go back in there, I won't be responsible for my actions!'

'I think you should leave, then, because I don't think Coop will like you molesting the kid and know Chris won't be keen on you throwing yourself at his boyfriend.'

This statement, which Phoebe knew to be true, made her stare at Paige questioningly.

'You think that they're, y'know, together?'

'Oh yeah,' said Paige, nodding firmly.

'Wow,' sighed Phoebe, still feeling the creeping hints if Chris's emotions through the wall, 'I didn't see that one coming.'

Paige nodded again and then hesitantly asked Phoebe a question that had been worrying her.

'Does he feel the same way?'

'Yes. I think so. It's a bit hard to tell, male teenage hormones,' Phoebe shook her head, as though trying to clear it, 'they're a real killer.'