Disclaimer: Charmed does not belong to me.
Summary: "My name's not Chris Perry," he said. "It's Christopher." He paused, almost reluctantly. "Christopher Halliwell."
Everyone who has read all of "Neurotic". Thank you for investing so much of your time and imagination. It's been such a pleasure to write, so I hope it's been as pleasurable to read.
Chapter the Ultimate
Chris stared in horror as Gideon burst into flames and exploded. Excalibur stayed suspended in midair for a moment, before falling to the ground.
"He's gone," Paige said, her voice weak.
"Yeah, he just got vanquished," Phoebe said.
"She means Wyatt," Chris said, his voice soft and sad. "I was right." He looked dejected, and hopelessly confused. "But if I was right, then what the hell am I still doing here?"
Piper looked up from her new baby, which Leo had adeptly dealt with and wrapped in her arms, and felt her stomach fall when she realised Chris genuinely meant that question.
"What do you mean?" She said, looking from him to her baby and back again rapidly. "You saved the day, sweetie."
"But-" Chris shook his head, stepped forwards experimentally, and twisted on the spot, and then stopped and stared at her. "Wyatt's ceased to exist too. I became who I am because he was evil, because I saw he was evil, and you thought I was crazy… There's no way I'd be so bitter or neurotic if that hadn't happened." His face was strained with confusion. "I shouldn't be here. And I damned well shouldn't be feeling all right."
"It's because you sorted everything out," a female voice said out of nowhere. They all turned to see a white light sprint into the room and solidify into a warm, friendly looking black woman, with a beatific smile on her face. "Everything's back how it should be." She paused. "For now, anyway."
"Who are you?" Chris blurted, confused. "And why am I still here? I shouldn't be," he added quickly, shaking his head. "I can't go back to the future. This timeline's for me. The other me," he clarified, indicating his baby self, still covered in some indefinable gooey stuff Chris didn't want to know about, and covered in the same thick fur as all babies who came on time or were late.
"I'm the Angel of Destiny," the woman said, smiling. "And you're still here because you are the Book of Words. When you were born, it was just at the exact same second as the last Book of Words vessel died. It searches for the purest magical soul being born in that same second, and you're the purest soul to have been born for centuries."
"So shouldn't I have ceased to exist and the Book gone into…" Chris gestured at his baby self. "…me?"
"Sweetheart, it's already in you," she said, shaking her head. "And because you are the Book of Words, the last vessel in this plane died a minute ago. Because you are the Book of Words, it just became defaulted to you, which is why you have your energy back. Don't use so much power again, though… Only in a much more dire emergency."
"But if it's my destiny, aren't I depriving myself?" Chris said, still gesturing at his baby self, which Piper was hugging tightly.
"No," the Angel of Destiny said. "Because you, the person you have become, was destined to have it. You're right – that baby over there is Christopher Halliwell, but he'll grow up free of the burdens you had. He won't grow up with the same prejudices or trials. But those same trials caused you to become the perfect vessel for the Book of Words. It was your destiny."
"Like Paul's destiny was to cease to exist?" Chris demanded. "Because he didn't deserve that. Of anyone in the world he didn't deserve that."
"What happened was meant to happen," the Angel of Destiny said. "I am not here to soothe the path, just to clarify your options."
"Oh, gee, whoopee," Chris said.
The Angel of Destiny stared at him flatly. Chris stared back, unrepentant.
"Forgive me for the sarcasm," Chris said, "but both my brothers vanished today. I think I'm allowed a little extra dose of bitterness."
"Wyatt chose his own path," the Angel of Destiny. "Now you must choose yours."
Chris rolled his eyes. "Shoot."
She smiled, and waved her arms. The environment around them blurred, and then suddenly they were back in the manor, in the conservatory area.
"Option one. You stay. Here. With the Charmed Ones. Stay on as their Whitelighter. Train up some of the next generation of fighters," the Angel of Destiny said.
"But then I'd have me growing up around me," Chris said, staring at her, folding his arms across his chest. "That'd be weird and awkward."
"So you'd have to assume a role. That would be lying. For your whole life. Christopher can never find out that you are him. It could make him unbalanced, and the future – if this occurs – is clouded, even to me. You'd have to become someone else, and he could never know who you are, and you'd never be able to openly have the same closeness with your mother."
"You could be Uncle Chris," Phoebe piped in helpfully.
"No, that'd be weird," Paige said, her voice hoarse. She was sat on a chair, Dan next to her, his hand on her shoulder, and her eyes were wide and hopeful. "Uncle Perry. No name confusion then."
"And it'd be another P," Piper said, her voice ghosting.
"Option two. You leave. Travel the world. Become assigned to witches in another country. Australia or Britain are lacking at the minute. You could cut yourself off from the Charmed Ones if that's what you really desire, or stay in contact, your choice. Probably best if you cut yourself off completely, or assume a role again. You'd still be lying, but for less periods of time."
"I see," Chris said, his voice dull.
"Option three. Become an Elder. There's now a position free, and they'd welcome you for all your efforts."
"Oh, gee, really?" Chris' eyes widened. "Um, my dad was an elder, and, oh yeah, he died. They all did. So it's not an option," he finished, his tone flat.
"Option four, death," the Angel of Destiny said. "Not really your destiny, but it would relieve you of the Book of Words burden. It would pass to someone else. But because it's death on your terms, you would not be offered the position of Whitelighter, and it's doubtful whether the higher planes would accept you, given their views on suicide."
"That's all my options?" Chris said, his voice wavering. He sat down, stunned. "Such an astounding range of choices. How long have I got to choose?"
"Ten minutes," the Angel of Destiny said.
"A lot of destinies hang on the outcome of your choice. It's because you are the Book of Words that you're even being given a choice. But you have to choose within ten minutes, or the entire world will erupt into deeper chaos than you've lived through," the Angel of Destiny explained. "If you don't choose, I'm afraid choice four is default. The Book of Words must survive in a willing vessel, or it will lost strength and everything will cease to exist, the universe, time, and beyond."
"Option one," Piper said, her voice low and firm and trembling and filled with tears. "You've got no option. Option one."
"Risk destroying my other self's chances of happiness, of a full and happy life, just because I selfishly want to stay with my family?" Chris shook his head. "I can't do that. I can't risk him finding out, because a clouded future could mean anything. It could mean Wyatt happening again, it could mean anything. I won't risk that."
"But Chris-" Leo blurted. "We only just found you. I won't lose you. You're not sacrificing anything else. You've done nothing but sacrifice yourself for this family, isn't it time we made that effort for you? We can hide the truth, and give you and your baby self happy and full lives. We'll all try. We can do it."
"He's right," Phoebe said.
"Please," Paige said, simply, desperately. "And not what you're thinking, not so you can explain about Paul, and how this happened, or anything. And not because having you around will help me get over Paul, if I ever will. And not because the grief of having to get over you both might split us all in two. But you. We can't not have you in our lives. Baby Chris will grow up to be splendid, but you're right, he won't be you. Why can't we have you both?"
Chris stared at them, lost.
The doorbell went.
"Crap," Phoebe said, and hurried out of the room. "Don't make any bad decisions while I'm gone," she said over her shoulder.
"Chris, please," Piper said. She walked over to him. Chris noticed she'd passed his baby self to Leo. "I need you." Her eyes locked to his. "I love you. So much. I love you so much I can't bear it."
Chris just looked at her, not moving. "I love you too. I love you so much."
Piper nodded, crying, and then froze. She looked up, her mouth twisting. "Ohhh, so that's why you were going to laugh hysterically at my expression when I accused of being in love with Pippa…" she said, slowly.
Chris didn't laugh hysterically, but managed a smile through his tears.
"Five minutes Chris," the Angel of Destiny whispered, but the words sounded loud into the room anyway.
"Choose us," Piper said. "You can be our brother, Perry. The Halliwell boy. And in private, you'll be my boy. Please don't leave us. Please."
Desperate, Chris tore his gaze away from her. "I need time."
"You've got four minutes and change," Piper said, shaking her head, as Victor pulled her back slightly, his expression unsure.
"Hey, what's going on?"
They all turned to see Darryl Morris enter the room, a sheepish expression on his face, Sheryl behind him, with their two boys and a shy girl standing behind them.
"Bianca?" Chris said, almost stupidly, his mouth hanging open. "What-"
"We adopted her," Sheryl said with a smile. She looked around at all the teary and devastated expressions, and the smile faded. "What's happened?"
"Paul died, Wyatt's dead, and Chris has the decision of a lifetime," Phoebe explained, in a low voice.
"Huh?" Darryl said, blinking. "A guy sure misses a lot when he's away."
"Yeah, he does," Piper snapped, not looking at him, staring at Chris instead, crying.
Chris watched Bianca, six year old Bianca, as she shyly moved towards him, twisting a lock of hair in her right hand.
"You remembered me," she said to him.
Chris looked at Piper and Leo, hard. "Bianca. She deserves a proper life. And one thing I knew from the other Angel of Destiny I once saw… We were meant to fall in love…" His voice ghosted, soft.
"So you'll stay?" Piper said, hopefully.
"Really, what's going on?" Darryl said. "I came to apologise, but…"
Sheryl smacked him hard in the side. "And you will apologise."
"No," Chris said, his voice still vacillating, his face torn. "I won't stay." His face twisted, miserably. "I can't stay and watch… Watch something happen that I won't ever have. I know that makes me selfish, but I don't think I could take it. I'm sorry-"
Victor got up, and slowly walked over to him.
"This choice… It's about what you're willing to sacrifice," Victor said, taking Chris' hands in his own, locking gazes with him. "After Phoebe was born, I had to make the decision. Were my lovely girls worth the danger and the betrayal and the fact I lost my wife to her Whitelighter? I made the decision, and sacrificed my girls. I know the urge to run away and hide under a pillow, because I made that choice."
"It worked out for you," Chris said, his voice breaking.
"No," Victor said, his voice trembling, "no it didn't. My daughter died. And my other girls had to grow up without me. I have regretted it every day of my life. No matter the cost, they're worth it, Chris. You already made the decision once today. You could have let Wyatt die in the cage, even though it would have meant our deaths too. But you decided that Wyatt – evil and destructive Wyatt with the power to rule the universe – it was worth having him around just to keep your family alive. You already know your family is worth the monsters. A lie like that is destructive, I won't lie to you, it'll be hard. But I think it'll be worth it." His eyes were fierce. "I know it will."
Chris lowered his head. "And option two…"
"If that's what you decide, then I'm coming with you," Victor said, his voice firm.
Chris' head flew up. "What? But you said your girls-"
"Are worth it, are worth anything," Victor said, a grim smile on his face. "But ask any of us. You're worth more."
Chris hung his head, his eyes stinging, completely lost.
"One minute, Chris," the Angel of Destiny said softly.
"What's going on?" Bianca said, her young face twisted with worry. "Are you going away, Perry?"
"Perry's not his name, sweetie," Sheryl Morris said, her face dimpling as she smiled at the small girl. Bianca turned to Chris. "It's Christopher Halliwell."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Bianca said, frowning. "I guess I got it wrong. So your name's Christopher Halliwell?" She repeated it as if committing it to memory.
Chris looked at her, then at Piper, holding his younger self in one hand, and Leo in the other. He looked at Dan and Paige, fragilely touching like they might still break, and he looked at Phoebe and Cole, and baby Wyatt.
He didn't want to leave them.
"No, Bianca," Chris said, kneeling on the ground, touching her chin with one finger as he smiled at her. "My name's not Christopher Halliwell," Chris said, as if it was the easiest thing he'd ever had to say.
He smiled at the sound of it, then smiled at his family, and then smiled at his future, stretching away into the distance, not guaranteed to be happy, but at least they had a chance. A good chance. The Angel of Destiny smiled and disappeared, acknowledging that his choice had been made.
Chris turned back to Bianca, and nodded.
"My name's not Christopher Halliwell," Chris repeated. "It's Perry." He paused, but not reluctantly. "Perry Halliwell."
The sequel to "Neurotic"…
Christopher Halliwell is ignored.
Put into a metaphorical box.
Everyone thinks they know what he'll do, what he likes, what kind of trouble he's likely to get into, what he wants to do in the future. Which girl he likes.
And then there's Perry. Chris has been told all his life that Perry is his uncle, but he doesn't believe them. Perry's too much like him. He's convinced that Perry isn't his uncle, but his real father.
Perry eventually has to confess that he's not Chris' real father. Or his uncle. He's him. From an alternate future, where Wyatt was evil, his family dead, and Chris himself was institutionalised for insanity.
But when Chris finally learns this truth, how will he take it?